DISCLAIMER: Warehouse 13 and its characters are the property of the SyFy Channel. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the IDF 2012 Big Bang. Massive thanks go to the wonderful theagonyofblank for beta-ing this monster, and to grumpybear1031 for her amazing complementary graphics!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mysensitiveside[at]yahoo.com
Wish You Were Here
As the shield around them finally disintegrated, the first thing that Myka noticed was the smell. The smell of smoke, a nice campfire multiplied a trillion times, hit her like a ton of bricks, with the acrid taste singeing the back of her throat.
It didn't seem real. To go so quickly from resignation so this is how it ends to confusion why is Helena still out there? to horror dear God, what has she done? to despair no, it's too soon to say goodbye! to denial this can't be happening to... to what? What was she now?
Myka looked without seeing, refusing to believe that the destruction before her was real. She vaguely noticed Pete speaking behind her, and she turned a slow circle as a few words managed to sink in.
"We lost, Artie. We lost."
Those two small words... Myka knew they were important, but it was like her brain was moving at a quarter of its usual speed.
"Artie?" Thankfully, Pete articulated her own confusion, since she couldn't seem to find her voice.
Her gaze continued to sweep unevenly around the destruction surrounding them as Artie explained, "MacPherson's watch. It has the ability to turn back time, to restore the Warehouse to a previous state."
Myka's eyes whipped back around to stare fixedly at him, her mouth opening in wordless question. Did that mean-
Artie's sad but understanding smile began to pierce the half-formed hope, and his words finished the job.
"It doesn't work on people, Myka," he said. "Only the Warehouse and the artifacts inside."
It hurt just as much the second time. Regaining her friend (friend; such an inadequate word) in a flash of hope, only to find that she was just as lost as before.
Myka knew, on some level, that she should be relieved. Helena's noble sacrifice meant that she had not only saved their lives, but that she'd also saved the Warehouse. Helena had saved everyone but herself.
Myka should be relieved, but she wasn't.
In a strangely detached way, she noticed that her eyes had filled with tears. As the first drop fell, Pete took one big step forward and wrapped her up tightly in his arms. Words of sympathy would mean nothing right now, but a bear hug from Pete was exactly what she needed. In the safety of his embrace, she finally let go, leaning her full weight into her partner's strong arms and releasing a broken sob.
Pete was worried about the girls sorry, the women in his life.
First there was Claudia. Bringing back the Warehouse hadn't brought back Mrs. F, so poor Claud had some new and mighty big shoes to fill. The reverberations from the bomb had knocked over and broken the back-to-life metronome thing, so Claudia couldn't even go through with her plan to bring Jinks back. Pete didn't see her all that much anymore, but when he did, she just seemed tired and angry and stressed out.
That led right into worrying about his mom, who was back to being in super-secret mode with the whole Regent thing. He knew enough to know she was arguing with Claudia about the direction the Warehouse should take, though.
And then there was Myka.
Myka spent her days wandering aimlessly around the Warehouse aisles, supposedly doing inventory. She wasn't actually doing inventory, though, and everyone knew it. She just wandered. Since they'd become partners, Pete had gotten a whole lot better at reading Myka, but as for what was going through her mind right now... Pete had absolutely no idea. She wouldn't talk to him about it, either.
He'd tried cheering her up with the wonders of the Pete-cave, but it turned out that none of it was all that enticing to gir- women. Same thing with his offer to buy her anything and everything from his favorite buffet in Univille.
Finally, he'd decided to bring out the big guns and go all out.
Operation: Make Myka Happy quickly turned into a multi-step affair. Step one: Enlist Leena to engage Myka in conversation long enough for him to snoop around upstairs. Step two: Sneak into Myka's room and jot down the titles of all the books he could find. Step three: Go to the local bookstore and get the cute clerk to answer the question, "If someone has all of these books, what else could she possibly want to read?" Finally, weed out any suggestions that might in any way remind Myka of a certain late 19th century writer and inventor. Oh, and add in a book of Sudoku and a book of crossword puzzles (numbers and crosswords weren't too H.G. Wells-y, right?). And some Twizzlers.
For all of about a minute, it seemed like Operation: Make Myka Happy was going to be a total success. Pete couldn't help but grin as Myka looked through his gift and the first true smile he'd seen in quite a while spread across her face.
But then Myka reached the second to last book, and all of a sudden, her face fell.
She looked up at him, clearly trying to maintain a happy façade, but not quite succeeding.
"Pete... Thank you. Really," she began haltingly. "You didn't have to do this, but it was really so thoughtful of you." She continued to ramble a bit, but her eyes began to get all watery and she made a hasty retreat, not-so-subtly leaving one book behind.
He didn't understand what had gone wrong until he talked to Claudia later that night.
Seriously, how was he supposed to know that H.G. had been a Sherlock Holmes fan?
It was bittersweet, being back in the Warehouse.
On one hand, it was reassuring, meandering slowly through the stacks. The Warehouse was home to her now, and being able to reach out and physically feel that it was still there was comforting. Not all of the artifacts were back yet the more complicated the artifact, the longer it took, apparently but piece by piece, it was all coming back together.
On the other hand, it all felt completely wrong. There had been a nuclear bomb, and H.G., Steve, and Mrs. Frederic had all given their lives for the Warehouse. Myka couldn't help but feel like there should be some kind of physical, tangible evidence of that.
All Myka had to do was close her eyes, and she could remember the utter devastation that had been left in the bomb's wake. The searing heat; the flames, still lapping at the remnants of anything left; the fiery cracks in the ground; the ash, falling slowly from the sky. All she had to do was close her eyes, and she was greeted with Helena's last, heartbreaking smile. But with a simple turn of a pocket watch, the Warehouse was back in just a day.
It felt wrong. You shouldn't just be able to erase that kind of destruction.
It had all happened, but now it just felt like a dream. And if it was just a dream, then why did it still hurt so much?
Myka still caught whiffs of bitter smoke at random times, but other than that... As far as Artie and the Regents were concerned, everything was good as new.
But everything wasn't.
Myka wasn't sure what it was that made her feel ready to go back and read H.G.'s file. Because of course, paper was important enough for MacPherson's watch to bring back, but people...
Myka took a deep breath. No, she wasn't bitter. Really.
In any case, she suddenly felt ready more than that, she felt an urge to surround herself with memories of H.G. So she grabbed the Wells file and sat on her own in a secluded but comfortable corner of the Warehouse. If anyone really needed her, she had her Farnsworth.
It was on page three that she was hit with her first surprise. Apparently, during her brief reinstatement as a Warehouse agent, H.G. had seen fit to read the file herself and write her own comments into the margins. Needless to say, H.G. had a slightly different view of herself than the Regents, and her annotations made Myka want to laugh and cry at the same time.
An even bigger surprise came when an old photograph slipped from between a few pages and floated down to the ground.
Myka continued to read as she reached idly to pick it up... but she dropped it again in shock as soon as she got a good look at it.
The photograph had definitely not been there before; having previously perused the file, Myka would know.
Not to mention the fact that the photo was impossible.
Warily, she retrieved it once again, trying to see what the trick was. It was a real photograph, at least. No obvious illusions or enchantments or anything like that. It couldn't be real, though. Could it? How?
Myka stared intently into the image, her heart beating rapidly. Within the photo, there was a pre-bronzed H.G. wearing an old-fashioned waistcoat, and with her hair done up in an elegant, but older, style. But instead of looking out at the camera, H.G. gazed towards the figure beside her.
The agent closed her eyes, but when she opened them again, the photograph still looked the same. There, standing next to the writer and looking vaguely amused... was Myka.
Claudia was eating breakfast and reading the back of a cereal box when Myka entered the B&B's kitchen.
She stopped in her tracks as soon as she caught sight of the redhead, a bright smile crossing her face. "Claudia!" she exclaimed happily, before she moved forward and pulled Claudia into a tight hug.
"Hey, Myka," Claudia murmured into the older agent's shoulder.
Myka looked exhausted, the bags under her eyes matching the ones that Claudia saw when she looked in the mirror each morning.
Training to be the new Mrs. Frederic was certainly no easy task, and she barely got to see her friends anymore. Instead, she went from meeting to meeting, learning what felt like a million new things every day. At the same time, there were physically grueling exercises meant to slowly build her link to the Warehouse. She was sure her head was going to explode any day now.
Mrs. F and Doctor Calder had been right, though. Even though she'd refused to think much about becoming the new Caretaker after that particular bomb of new information had been dropped on her, she actually did feel like it was the right thing for her.
If Steve's death had taught her anything, it was that some things about how Warehouse 13 was run needed to change. Being Caretaker put her in a position to actually make a real difference. The Regents didn't exactly have to do whatever she said, but they did have to at least listen to her now.
She missed her old life, though. There was Jinks and H.G., obviously, but on top of that, she missed the rest of the team, too. She saw Artie more than the others, but this was the first time she'd seen Myka in weeks.
The two women sat at the table to catch up, and soon both had forgotten how tired they were as they joked and laughed together.
The tone of the conversation turned more serious, though, as Claudia asked, "So how are you holding up?"
Myka sighed and offered a one armed shrug. "You know," she replied vaguely. "I miss her. I miss both of them."
A heavy silence fell between them, and Claudia was starting to regret having said anything, when Myka continued, "I feel like it should have gotten easier by now. Not that I'd be over it, obviously, but I mean... I barely even knew her, really."
Claudia gently laid her hand over Myka's. "You did know her. And of course it's not getting easier; you two were totally in love, it's not like-"
Myka inhaled sharply and withdrew her hand, turning to look harshly at Claudia. "What?" she asked in confusion. "No we weren't. What are you talking about?"
Claudia's eyes widened in alarm and she quickly stuffed a large spoonful of soggy cereal into her mouth to buy herself some time. She cursed her own tiredness, knowing that she wouldn't have blurted that out in any other circumstance. She usually managed to remember that of the many thoughts that passed through her head, not all of them should be said out loud.
After swallowing audibly, Claudia finally responded, "Of course, it's always possible that you hadn't exactly reached the same conclusion I had?"
"Of course I hadn't," Myka said immediately, as a blush rose up her cheeks. "We were just friends. I mean, I knew she'd been with women before, we had talked about it, and-"
Claudia practically choked on the food in her mouth. The cereal didn't actually taste all that good anymore, but she'd continued eating it just to have something to do.
"What?" Myka asked defensively.
Claudia raised one pointed eyebrow. "You talked with H.G. about being with a woman?" she asked, not caring that her mouth was still full.
"No!" Myka exclaimed, clearly flustered. "That's not what I said! Well, it is what I said, but that's not what I meant." She rose to her feet and began to pace agitatedly. "I meant that we talked about ourselves, about our pasts. That's all."
"Okay, you're right. Just friends. Clearly, I need more sleep. Just forget I said anything," Claudia placated.
Myka stopped pacing, instead crossing her arms tightly in front of her chest and turning to stare at Claudia. Her eyebrows knit together in agitation, with confusion and embarrassment each clearly visible on her face. "But why would you even think that? Is it something about how I act? Did you ever think that about me and Pete?"
Claudia made a face of disgust. "Ew, no. You two are like siblings."
"Yes, exactly!" Myka agreed, gesticulating with one hand. "And so... So you're right about that, but... But you're just wrong. We weren't in love, that's crazy!"
Equally flustered, Claudia tried desperately to ramble her way out of the mess she'd made. "Well, you know how crazy shippers can be. You're cool, H.G. was cool, and so my mind just ran away with itself and thought you'd be cool together. Or something like that. I don't know. Can we stop talking about this now?"
Myka just stared at her. "What's a shipper?"
Claudia couldn't help but chuckle at that. "Never mind, it's not important."
With a deep breath, Claudia decided that since she'd already started making ripples by sticking her toe in these messy waters, she might as well jump all the way in.
"Okay, look." She paused, trying to think how best to put this. "Think of how you felt about H.G. Not how you feel now, don't think about the grief. Think about when you were friends, and you were back to being sure that she wasn't actually evil. Okay?"
Myka nodded stiffly.
"Okay. So that feeling... Is it similar to how you feel about Pete, your best friend?" Claudia hesitated, unsure if she was doing the right thing or not. She smiled sympathetically before finishing softly, "Or is it closer to how you felt about Sam, when he was alive?"
Myka didn't say anything. She just stood there, blinking rapidly.
Claudia opened her mouth to say something though she wasn't exactly sure what, yet when suddenly Myka came back to life.
She took in a deep breath, before abruptly turning away. "I have to go. I just... I have to go." Myka managed to shoot a genuine smile towards Claudia as she added, "It was really good to see you, Claud."
With that, she turned and fled.
Myka didn't know what to do once she'd left Leena's. She didn't have anything with her other than her car keys. And that photograph, which she'd taken to carrying around with her in her jacket's inside pocket. In light of her latest conversation with Claudia, she thought about taking it out and getting rid of it. She didn't, though.
Instead, she got in her car and just started driving with no destination in mind. Of course, there weren't all that many places to go, so after taking a long scenic route, she ended up at the Warehouse.
It was still early, so she was able to make her way through the office and into the main part of the building without running into anyone. She didn't really know where she was going, but she felt like she had to keep moving.
Myka didn't notice anything around her, but one thing did draw her attention. The Anti-Gravity Generator.
She almost laughed. Of course, her subconscious had led her directly to the H.G. Wells aisle. Myka had been purposely avoiding this part of the Warehouse recently. She hadn't been back there since before the explosion.
She really didn't want to think about what Claudia had said, but almost against her own will, she found herself sinking down to sit on the floor and drawing the photograph out from her pocket.
It was crazy. Right? Claudia had clearly let her imagination run away with her. And yet...
Myka gazed again into the photo in her hands. She didn't actually have any pictures of H.G. So even though this one wasn't couldn't be real, it was still all she had. And not only a picture of Helena, but one of the two of them, together.
As luck would have it, the one person Myka wanted to talk to at that moment was the very person she'd never talk to again.
"If only I could see you again," she whispered. "I don't know what to think right now, but... All I know is that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to you."
Myka hadn't cried since that first day, as Pete held her and the Warehouse burned around them, but now she didn't bother holding back the silent tears that carved wet paths down her cheeks. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, a single tear clinging precariously to her chin before falling and splattering onto the surface of the photo.
Suddenly, Myka's entire body began to tingle. She looked down at herself in confusion. Then, it felt like an invisible hand reached inside her chest, grabbed hold, and abruptly yanked her forward. Myka cried out in a mixture of surprise, fear, and slight pain. Her eyes closed involuntarily as a strong wind rushed past her face. When she opened them again...
It was all Myka could do to keep from shrieking out loud. She looked around, completely baffled. She was no longer sitting in the Warehouse, but instead was standing on the edge of a busy street. As a horse rode by.
Before she could even begin to get her bearings, the tingling started again. She looked around wildly, trying to grasp some idea of where in the world she was, before that invisible hand came back and yanked her forward once more.
Myka opened her eyes, and she was back exactly where she'd been before, standing in the middle of the H.G. Wells aisle.
One hand still holding the photograph, Myka patted herself down with the other, making sure she was really there.
"What the hell?" she murmured into the empty space around her. "Guess I really need to sleep more. Now I'm having bizarre, extremely vivid daydreams in the middle of the day. Not to mention, talking to myself."
With a wry shake of her head, Myka put the photograph away and started back towards Artie's office.
Pete could barely pay attention as Artie rambled on through the Farnsworth about the latest artifact and the strategies for its retrieval. He'd mostly tuned out when Artie started talking about the contingency plan for his contingency plan.
"Artie, chillax, man," he finally interrupted. "This isn't exactly our first rodeo. We got this. Right, Myka?"
Pete turned to look over his shoulder, where his partner had been just a minute before...
Pete frowned in confusion. Myka was nowhere to be seen, but Pete had no idea where else she could be.
"Pete? Is something wrong?" Artie's anxious voice called out.
"All's swell, not to worry, old man. We'll check in later!" Pete smiled brightly before shutting the Farnsworth closed and looking around worriedly. He hadn't wanted to freak Artie out more than was necessary, but it wasn't like Myka to just disappear.
"Myka?" he tried calling out again, a little louder this time.
He exhaled in relief as Myka stuck her head out of a doorway just in front of him.
"Hey, sorry," she said. "I saw something in here, but I thought it would be best to let Artie get all of his worrying out. I'm tired of him looking at me like I'm going to have a nervous breakdown or something. Now come here, I think I found a lead."
It was their first bag-and-tag since the Warehouse had come back, and their first mission since Steve, Mrs. F, and H.G. hadn't. Pete understood Artie's mothering Pete couldn't help being a little worried about Myka too but even he was starting to get tired of it.
Myka led the way into what turned out to be a laundromat.
"These places always have bulletin boards with all kinds of advertisements," she explained as she walked to the far corner of the room. "I thought we might get lucky, and sure enough..."
Myka pointed to a bright green ad: 'Got nightmares? Come receive a free consultation session with Dr. Michael Bloch, M.D. Dr. Bloch specializes in anxiety and sleep disorders. Start your path back to a free and clear night's sleep!'
Pete grinned. "You know, if I was Sigmund Freud's couch, that's exactly the kind of place I'd like to hang out."
Dr. Bloch turned out to be a pretty nice guy, just starting his own practice. He was happy enough to show them around, and it didn't take much prying for him to not-so-modestly brag that he was actually distantly related to the Sigmund Freud.
Freud's most famous couch was housed in a museum, but Freud had used this other one during his early work with hypnosis. It had been in Michael's family for years, but when he got his degree, he'd convinced his relatives that such an heirloom was meant to be used, not simply looked at.
"So... but have you been noticing that your patients seem to be getting worse, instead of better?" Pete asked.
The doctor bristled, and Pete realized that he probably could have worded that a bit more tactfully.
"The healing process is a long one, Agent Lattimer, and-"
"What my partner means to say," Myka interrupted smoothly before Michael could get too offended, "is have you been noticing anything strange lately? Maybe, for example, your patients started reporting hallucinations, when they hadn't before?"
Myka had clearly charmed the guy, so naturally, Pete couldn't resist moving to stand behind him and trying to get Myka to laugh by silently making fun of him.
She managed to mostly ignore Pete, however, and get the verification they needed that Bloch's patients were indeed the ones who would most likely fall into a coma sometime soon.
Pete grinned when he and Myka got back out to the street. She hadn't let him stop to get something to eat from the soft pretzel cart outside Bloch's building before they went in, but now they had plenty of time. And honestly, he wouldn't be Pete Lattimer if he went to Philadelphia without having both a cheesesteak and a giant pretzel.
He thought about trying to convince Myka that she should get one too, but he knew there was no point. Instead, he bought a second one for himself.
"So," Pete began as he took his first big bite. "How long do we have before all his patients' brains go kablooie?"
Myka shrugged. "Artie guessed about a day and a half. But we should really finish this as soon as it gets dark. Their nightmares will be worse tonight and it's always possible that they'll hit the overload point earlier than anticipated."
That night, breaking back into the building was easy enough, though the same couldn't be said for quietly maneuvering the replica couch up three flights of stairs and the real one back down again.
They were just preparing to move the neutralized couch into their van, when Myka suddenly stopped in her tracks.
"Pete?" she called out warily.
"What's up, Mykes? Break a nail, and need big, strong Pete to save the day?" he joked.
"Pete, I think it's happening again." The tone in her voice something between curiosity and panic made him turn around and really focus on his partner.
It was a good thing he did, because if it hadn't happened right in front of his eyes, there was no way he would have believed it.
One second he saw Myka, staring down at her own hands.
And then the next second... Myka was simply gone.
Myka was back on the same street she'd been on the last time she'd done whatever it was that had just happened. Different people, a different time of day; but still the same place, at least.
She stood stock still, waiting, expecting to be transported back at any second.
She exhaled when it became clear that she wasn't immediately going anywhere this time. She finally got a chance to get a good look around her, but each new sight did nothing to diminish her panic. Just the opposite, in fact.
"I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto," she murmured softly to herself.
No one seemed to have taken any notice of her sudden appearance, so as a young woman walked by, Myka called out experimentally, "Excuse me, Miss?"
Myka had half-expected the girl to just keep on walking, unable to hear or see her, but to her surprise, she stopped and looked over. The girl's eyes widened as she took in Myka's outfit, which was so different from everyone else's. "Yes?" she responded warily.
The accent in her voice seemed to confirm Myka's suspicion, but just in case, she asked, "I'm sorry to bother you, and I know that this will sound strange, but can you tell me where and when I am right now?"
"Where and when, ma'am?" She looked quite confused, and Myka really couldn't blame her.
"Yes. As in, what city and what's the date?" Myka explained.
The young woman clearly thought that where Myka should have been was a mental institution, but she was kind enough to indulge her anyway. "You're in London, ma'am. It's the twenty-eighth of December, 1898."
Though she'd started to vaguely suspect that the answer would be somewhere along those lines, it still came as a shock. Myka's face fell as she took in a deep breath, but she managed a polite smile towards the young woman. "Lovely. Thank you."
With that, the girl hurried off, shooting one last glance over her shoulder before she disappeared into the crowd.
"Just perfect," Myka muttered to herself. "And just what, exactly, am I supposed to do while hanging out in Victorian England?"
As soon as the mumbled words left her mouth, it came to her. She was in London. In 1898.
Myka's heart rate sped up much faster than it should, as she tried to think. Where would Helena be? How could she find her? She looked around frantically, not knowing how much time she had. The first time, she'd only been there for a few seconds; she could get pulled back to the present at any moment.
Her gaze had passed over the street sign several times before it clicked. Myka knew that street name. She'd seen it when she and Pete were on their way to first locate H.G. Her mind was moving too quickly to remember the exact relationship between her current location and the Wells residence, but she simply couldn't stay still long enough to think it through. This might be her one and only chance to see Helena again.
Without thinking, she took off in one direction, continually looking around for something, anything that might elicit another spark of memory.
Myka almost walked right by, but suddenly, there it was. She did a double take as she gazed down a side street. Only about a block away stood H.G.'s home.
Of course, now that she'd actually found it, Myka had absolutely no idea what to do next. She stood in front of the building, simply staring. Should she just go knock? What could she possibly say?
"Excuse me, may I help you?"
Startled, Myka whirled to face the voice which had suddenly appeared to her left. She opened her mouth to speak, but found that her own voice had deserted her.
There standing in front of her, alive was Helena G. Wells.
Myka's hands curled into fists, and she just barely resisted the urge to reach out and touch her, to pull her into a tight hug and not let go. This Helena didn't know her, though, and as she'd already convinced one person that day that she was crazy, she didn't want to add another person to that list; she didn't have any desire to get hauled off to "the madhouse."
H.G. was staring at her expectantly, her face such a familiar picture of curiosity that it ached. Myka cleared her throat. "I... I'm sorry." She swallowed, her heart beating rapidly, but no good explanation for her presence came to mind. "I... honestly have no good reason to explain why I'm here." She couldn't help but laugh as she continued, "I'm not even sure if I really am here."
H.G. raised an eyebrow at that. "Indeed? Well," she began, her eyes moving slowly and appreciatively up and down Myka's figure. "You certainly appear to be here, Miss..."
Myka grinned. Yes, in any century, H.G. was still a shameless flirt.
"Bering. Myka Bering," she supplied in answer to the implied question.
"Well, Miss Bering," H.G. continued. "For someone who has no good reason to be idling suspiciously outside my house, you have managed to say just exactly the right thing."
"I have?" Myka asked in surprise.
"Mm," she murmured in agreement. "You've intrigued me, Miss Bering, and I do love it when that happens."
Helena moved to walk up the steps to the house. Myka couldn't take her eyes off of her, but stayed rooted to the spot, unsure what to do.
Looking over her shoulder, H.G. called back with a smile, "Would you like to come in, or do you prefer loitering outside in the cold?"
Myka smiled and began to follow.
As soon as they entered the house, a small white dog scampered right by their feet, followed closely behind by a young girl, who was in turn followed a fair bit farther back by an older woman whom Myka guessed to be the nanny, or governess, or whatever the right word was.
Just as the girl was about to run by, Helena reached out and effortlessly corralled her within her arms. "Must you always act the heathen around here?" she asked, smiling indulgently. "You know you're not supposed to run around indoors."
The girl giggled and wrapped her arms tightly around H.G.'s waist. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"No matter," H.G. assured with a light kiss to the top of the girl's head. "But we have a guest, so be polite and say hello to Miss Bering." Turning to Myka, she added, "Miss Bering, may I present my niece, Christina Wells."
Myka had recognized the girl right away from the picture in H.G.'s locket, but she turned to look sharply towards H.G. as she finished the introduction.
"Your niece?" she asked in surprise.
Helena frowned suspiciously. "Yes, my brother's daughter. Is there a problem?"
"No, of course not," Myka hurried to add. "I'm sorry." It made sense, she realized. The situation would be much more socially acceptable if they pretended that Charles was the true parent, instead of Helena. Society didn't exactly approve of unwed motherhood. There was no doubt that it was all pretend, though; one look into Christina's eyes was all it took to know who her mother was.
Myka turned to smile at Christina and extended her hand. "Hello, Christina. It's lovely to meet you."
Christina giggled again as she shook Myka's hand, and then followed it up with a curtsey. Women shaking hands probably wasn't the most common thing in 1898, Myka realized. She'd have to start being more careful.
"Hello. You're dressed funny," the girl commented.
"Christina!" Helena chided. "Where are your manners?"
Myka laughed. "No, it's okay. I am dressed funny, it's true."
"I know, we can play dress up!" Christina exclaimed. "Aunty, can't you give her something of yours?"
"That is probably a good idea." H.G. smirked, as she leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, eyes glancing over to the governess. "Mrs. Jones does seem to have recovered from having to chase you all over the house, but I fear she may have a heart attack from the scandal of a woman in trousers."
The girl smiled, before whispering back, "But you wear trousers sometimes."
Silently, H.G. put a finger to her lips and winked.
Christina laughed, reaching out to grab hold of Myka's hand and pulling her towards the stairs. "Well, come on. We'll find a pretty dress for you, and I'll help fix your hair! And then you can meet my dolls, and we'll have a tea party!"
Myka couldn't help but laugh, utterly charmed. She trailed helplessly behind Christina, but took a glance back over her shoulder to find H.G. staring at them both, smiling.
"I'm telling you, man, she totally said something about how it was happening again."
Claudia heard Pete and Artie enter the office but ignored them, continuing to type away at her computer.
"That was definitely the first time I've seen her disappear into thin air, so whatever artifact is doing this, she couldn't have found it when we were in Philly."
"But it doesn't make any sense," Artie argued back. "Other than that mission, Myka has only been here, and we don't have any artifacts that would do something like that!"
"Guys, I think I found something," Claudia spoke up, but neither agent seemed to hear her as they continued their bickering.
"Oh, and you're sure that you know every single artifact in the whole entire Warehouse?"
"Yes!" Artie paused. "No! No, but I looked, and none of our teleportation or invisibility artifacts have been activated anytime recently."
Sighing, Claudia tried again, louder this time. "GUYS!" Once she was sure she had their attention, she continued to speak, her eyes not once leaving the screen as she kept typing. "Okay, so my alert system to detect when MacPherson's watch brings each new artifact back hasn't gone off since Paul Revere's Lantern. But, I widened the parameters to look for any kind of... 'anomaly,' let's say. At this point, I can't tell exactly where it happened, but something definitely happened a few days before you left for Philly. And-" Claudia paused, noticing something on her screen. "Huh, that's weird."
"What? What's weird?" Pete moved to look over her shoulder, though Claudia had no idea why, since there was no way he'd actually know what he was looking at.
"I think it just happened again. Like, right now. Just gimme one second, and I can pinpoint... Yes!" Her voice softened as she confirmed the location: "It came from the H.G. Wells aisle."
Artie sighed. "Of course it did."
After hurrying together across the Warehouse floor, all three of them turned the last corner simultaneously, each holding their Teslas out in front of them.
Pete was the first to lower his weapon, as he hurried forward. "Myka!" he exclaimed. "Thank God you're okay."
Myka was sitting huddled on the floor against the stacks, and looked up as soon as they rounded the corner but made no effort to move as they rushed towards her.
Claudia exhaled in relief, moving to stand beside Pete with a smile. As soon as she got a good look at Myka, however, it became clear that she was far from okay.
First of all, she was wearing some fancy-shmancy dress, the kind of thing Claudia would never have thought Myka would wear.
Second of all, she had tears in her eyes, which she hastily tried to wipe away.
Pete had clearly noticed it too. "Are you okay?" he asked uncertainly, crouching down in front of her.
"I saw her again," Myka whispered, her voice full of awe. She was speaking to them, but it was like she looked straight through them, remembering instead the sights she'd just seen. "I never thought I'd see her again, but I did, and... God, she's amazing. And her little girl! Just the cutest, sweetest girl."
Myka's gaze finally seemed to settle back on her current reality, as she looked between the three of them. "One moment I'm there, talking with them, and the next..." She lost focus again, and though Claudia only had the vaguest idea of what Myka was talking about, it was still somehow heartbreaking to listen to her. She continued, her voice slightly more hysterical now, "One moment I'm there, and then the next I'm just snatched away. I have to lose her all over again. And they're all just going to die!" Myka looked around at them wildly, tears now spilling down her cheeks. "She was just right there, right in front of me, but now they're all dead!"
Claudia had never seen Myka so emotional, and as the older agent lowered her face to her knees with a broken sob, the redhead felt a distinct urge to just run away. She couldn't talk about death right now. She couldn't deal with tears. Not from Myka. Myka was supposed to be the strong one.
But looking around at Artie and Pete revealed them both to have identical deer-in-headlights expressions. Steeling herself, Claudia took a deep breath.
"Okay, I think it's time for some girl talk," she muttered, just barely loud enough for everyone to hear. She doubted that Myka was listening, though. Reaching out to touch Pete on the shoulder, she added, "I mean it, I think the fewer the people around the better, right now. I'll talk to her. So shoo, get out of here."
Pete looked visibly torn, but after reaching forward to pull Myka into an awkward hug and whispering something quietly in her ear, he stood up. "Thanks," he murmured to Claudia, squeezing her shoulder tightly before hesitantly walking away and taking Artie with him.
Myka hadn't moved a muscle. Quenching down her last impulse to flee, Claudia settled on the floor next to her friend. She had no idea what she was doing, but awkwardly reached out to start rubbing her hand up and down Myka's back.
"I'm really sorry, Myka. But we'll figure this all out. We always do. You're gonna be okay, I promise."
Claudia didn't attempt to talk to her, and for that, Myka was grateful. She didn't want to talk; she just needed a bit of time to pull herself together. So they simply sat together quietly, until Myka realized that the other girl had actually fallen asleep.
Soon it became clear, however, that Claudia was having a dream, and not a good one. Myka shifted out from underneath Claudia's hand, now tense where earlier it had been soft and comforting, as the redhead's brow creased in worry and she started to mumble something inaudible.
"Claud," Myka tried softly, reaching to take Claudia's hand in both of her own.
She didn't wake, though, and only became more agitated.
"Claudia," Myka repeated, louder, and she gently but firmly squeezed the girl's hand.
Suddenly, Claudia jerked violently out of sleep, calling out, "No!"
"Hey, you're okay," Myka soothed, extending her hand to cup Claudia's cheek. "Look at me. It was just a dream, you're okay."
It took a moment for Claudia to regain her bearings and calm herself, but once she did, she merely clenched her jaw and pulled away from Myka's grasp. "No," she murmured darkly, "it wasn't just a dream."
Myka dropped her gaze, realizing that Claudia had probably been dreaming about Steve. She also had a feeling that all her talk about dying hadn't helped.
"You want to talk about it?" she offered softly.
Claudia scoffed. "You want to talk about H.G.?"
The resulting silence was answer enough.
With a sigh, Claudia ran her hands through her hair. "I'm sorry," she said. "This isn't your fault; I shouldn't take it out on you."
It was like she simply flipped a switch, as she turned to look again at Myka, now with an amused look on her face. "So," she began. "Nice outfit! This going to be your new look from now on?"
Myka laughed. "Yeah, I don't think so. But unfortunately, jeans and a t-shirt kind of stood out a little too much where I just came from."
"Right," Claudia nodded, "time for me to be an agent. Okay. So. Where exactly have you just come from?"
Myka smiled wryly. "Would you believe me if I said London? In 1898?"
"Seriously? Sweet," Claudia commented. "Okay, let's see. Ahem. Have you come into contact with anything strange, recently?" she asked with her best 'serious agent' expression. "Smelled any fudge, perhaps?"
Myka raised an eyebrow. "Stranger than usual, you mean?" She was about to say that she hadn't when it hit her.
A mysterious impossible photograph, which just happened to look old enough to have come from the late 19th century. Of course, it was an artifact; she didn't know why it hadn't occurred to her earlier. But...
"No, I can't think of anything," Myka replied.
The words came out of her mouth before she'd even consciously planned to say them. It was probably another effect of the artifact, she figured. It made her not want to talk about it with other people. Either that or she just wanted another chance to see H.G. again before they destroyed the photograph. Myka decided that she liked the first possibility better.
"Okay then," Claudia shrugged. "You know all the important questions better than I do. Besides, Pete and Artie are probably seriously freaking out by now. You okay to head back to the office?"
With a nod, Myka clambered to her feet and then helped pull Claudia up off the floor as well.
As they walked along and Claudia began chatting about what had happened since the agent's disappearance, Myka reached surreptitiously into her jacket, which she carried in front of her. Though she'd left most of her clothes back in the 1800s, she'd managed to at least bring the jacket back, since it had been in her hands when she transported. At first she couldn't seem to find what she was looking for, but she tried not to feel relieved as her fingers closed around the sharp corner of a photograph.
Pete was bored.
Ever since Myka's disappearing act, Artie hadn't let her go out in the field again. And with the possibility of Myka vanishing at any moment, that meant that Pete didn't want to go anywhere without her, and that in turn meant that they were back to spending most of their time idling around the Warehouse.
On top of that, they were no closer to figuring out what it was that had turned Myka into her own personal time machine.
And, to add insult to injury, Myka had taken to wearing suits every day, which made Artie extra annoying as he praised her 'professionalism.' Never mind the fact that even Artie almost always dressed casually. But seriously, it was obvious that she was only doing it because she didn't want to show up in 1898 wearing jeans again. Not that he could blame her, but still.
At least Claudia was around most of the time again. A missing Myka meant time out on training for Claudia. Pete definitely liked this version of Claudia, back to acting like herself, much better than stressed-out and never-around Claudia, so at least there was that.
"Want to go do target practice?" Myka asked as she idly glanced through some files on Artie's desk.
"Nah," he replied. "We just did that yesterday." He was sitting in Claudia's chair and practicing not making himself dizzy as he spun himself around in circles.
"Well, we could go hang out in the Pete-cave?"
Pete smiled and whenever the chair brought him around to face in Myka's direction pointed meaningfully towards his partner. "I know what you're doing, Mykes. But you don't need to feel bad just because we've been grounded. It's not like you wanted this to happen."
"Yeah... But still-" She paused. "Oh, here we go again. Pe-"
Pete stopped the chair from spinning and jumped to his feet, but it was too late. Not that he could have done anything, anyway. She was gone.
It still took her breath away, that feeling of being dragged forcibly through time.
Myka took a moment to feel bad for disappearing on Pete again, before she hurried off. At least this time, she knew where she was going.
As she raised her fist to knock on the door, it occurred to Myka that she still had no good explanation for anything.
She didn't care, though. She'd figure something out. All that mattered was that she was back.
Of course, the other thing that Myka had failed to consider quickly became apparent as soon as the front door opened.
"Oh," Myka uttered softly, almost involuntarily. "I mean, hello."
Myka swallowed nervously, but couldn't keep from staring practically gaping at the man on the other side of the threshold. H.G.'s brother, Charles.
Myka obviously knew, at this point, that the real writer was Helena herself. But even so, the feeling was hard to shake... Myka could still perfectly remember reading The Time Machine for the first time, and then immediately wanting to know everything there was to know about the author. She'd found a picture of the man whom history would remember as H.G. Wells, and, finding herself face-to-face with that man, well, Myka couldn't help but feel a bit starstruck.
"Hello," Charles greeted. Myka clearly looked like a dazed fool, and Charles' amused expression was an exact match for the one Myka had seen on his sister's face so many times. "May I help you?"
Myka cleared her throat, pulling herself together as an embarrassed blush covered her cheeks. "Yes, I'm sorry. Um, well-"
"Miss Bering! I knew you'd return!"
Myka smiled gratefully as Christina appeared beside her uncle she wondered, suddenly, whether the girl fully knew and understood which of the siblings was her true parent.
"Yes, I've come back to see you again," she replied. "I hope that's all right."
Charles was now eyeing her with a speculative grin. "So you're the mysterious Miss Bering. You know, I was fully convinced that you were Christina's imaginary friend," he admitted.
Christina rolled her eyes. "I told you she was real. Now come and say hello to Aunty again. She tried to play a trick on me and tell me you were just a dream, but don't worry, I knew you weren't."
With that, Myka once again found herself being dragged by the hand through the house. Christina was certainly a strong-willed little girl, there was no doubt about that.
Myka didn't have nearly enough time to mentally prepare herself for seeing H.G. again before they were bursting through a set of doors as Christina called out, "Aunty, look who's here!"
Myka found herself smiling brightly as her gaze fell upon H.G., who sat writing at a desk, and a sudden burst of happiness spread through her.
The same emotion was definitely not one that H.G. shared. She looked up from her writing and immediately scowled as she caught sight of Myka. "You," she muttered menacingly.
The dangerous look was gone in an instant, and she turned to smile at her daughter. "Christina, darling," she began, "would you mind if I spoke to Miss Bering alone for a moment?"
Christina shrugged. "All right," she agreed. She turned to face Myka and asked, "If you have to leave again, will you make sure you say good bye first?"
Myka could only smile stiffly, wishing she could afford to promise such a thing, but it seemed to be enough, as Christina then released her hand and left the room.
In the mere seconds it took for Myka to look back at H.G., the inventor had risen to her feet and now held a Tesla in her hands, pointing straight at Myka.
"Who are you?" she demanded. Any hint of a smile was long gone, as she stared coldly ahead.
Myka immediately put her hands up in what she hoped was a non-threatening position. "Helena, wait." She took one small step forward as she continued, "Please, I-"
"Don't. Move," H.G. interrupted forcefully. "I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when you first showed up here, but I assure you, you cannot disappear before my very eyes, and then simply turn up again a month later and expect to get by without answering any questions. So I will ask you again. Who are you?"
Myka stood stock still, a million questions and possibilities flitting rapidly through her head. A month had gone by since she'd last been there? It had only been eight days from Myka's own perspective. And right now she really just needed to think of something to say. Trying to fool H.G. was a very dangerous game, Myka knew. Finally, she took a deep breath and stated as calmly as she could, "My name is Myka Bering. I am an agent of Warehouse 13, and I don't know how I got here."
Of all the possible things that Myka could have said, that was most certainly not what H.G. had been expecting.
Myka felt way too wired to sleep, but she lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. It had certainly been an exhausting and overwhelming day, but still, Myka's mind just couldn't seem to slow down, as she thought back over all that had happened.
After revealing her identity, Myka hadn't had a chance to explain any more, before a servant had come and called them both to dinner. The meal had been...interesting, to say the least.
Charles turned out to be quite outgoing, but while he definitely had the familial Wells charm, there was just something lacking, when compared to his sister. The whole 'shameless flirt' thing was also apparently a family trait, though, and Myka spent much of the conversation blushing. Unfortunately, he probably took that as encouragement, when it was really only an issue of discomfort.
Christina was simply delightful, and Myka found herself easily and comfortably engaged in conversation with the girl.
And Helena... Well, the outright hostility was gone, at least, but H.G. seemed to be trying to avoid actually talking to her. Myka did catch H.G. simply staring at her several times over the course of the meal, though. She also had H.G.'s quick imagination to thank for finally providing that explanation that Myka hadn't yet come up with for herself.
As far as everyone else would be concerned, Myka was an old friend of H.G.'s from when they'd been in boarding school together. Myka's father had often had to travel for work, and though they'd lived in England for a few years, Myka had spent most of her life in the Americas. She was back in London on vacation, and while she had spent the last month traveling around England, just yesterday, most unfortunately, she had been robbed of everything she had with her.
Myka was actually quite impressed with H.G.'s little story. It prompted Charles to hospitably insist that she stay with them; it managed to explain why she didn't have any money or luggage with her; and both Charles and Christina seemed willing to write off Myka's apparent fondness for menswear as "an American thing."
Myka had to admit nonetheless that she was no more comfortable with H.G. than she was with Charles. Because while she looked and sounded just like her H.G. the one that Myka had gotten to know and missed terribly this simply wasn't the same person. Not yet, anyway. Myka still felt such an incredible affection for her, and she wanted to go to her and hug her tightly and talk with her about... Myka didn't even know what she wanted to talk about; anything, everything, it didn't matter. But she couldn't. She couldn't do any of it.
Because this H.G. was not Myka's. From the little that she'd seen, the most obvious difference was how comparatively carefree she was. It was clear in how she interacted with her family, and with Christina in particular. The darker layers within H.G.'s soul hadn't had reason to form yet.
Myka yawned. She wanted to keep thinking, to keep marveling in the craziness of her situation; but slowly, her eyes started to droop...
When Myka woke, the first thing she saw was H.G., sitting in a chair and staring at her curiously. A lazy smile spread across Myka's face as she stretched sleepily. "Hey you," she murmured warmly, "what are you doing here?"
H.G. didn't respond, but her brow creased thoughtfully. It was then that Myka remembered. She inhaled sharply and struggled to shake away the last remnants of sleep as she sat up straight against the headboard. "I'm still here," she said in amazement, looking around the room.
"Yes, you're still here," H.G. drawled, a combination of interest and annoyance in her voice. "I thought we could have a little chat before breakfast, yes?" Without waiting for a response, she accused, "There is no such place as Warehouse 13."
"Not yet, there isn't," Myka replied simply. "There is where I'm from."
H.G. laughed lightly at that. "So what, you expect me to believe that you've just randomly shown up here? From the future? Please," she scoffed, "just because my brother wrote a book about time travel, that doesn't mean-"
"I know things," Myka interrupted. "For one, I know that your brother didn't write that book."
A flash of anger crossed Helena's face. "Are you implying that Charles is a fraud? How dare you, you are a guest in this house!"
"Yes, I am implying that," Myka agreed. "You wrote that book, Helena. You wrote all of them. You're the writer; you're the inventor; you're the agent in Warehouse 12."
H.G. blinked, clearly unsure how to react, but revealed nothing.
"I know things," Myka repeated. "I know that Christina is really your daughter, not your niece. I know that the gun you were pointing at me yesterday is called a Tesla, and it shoots electricity instead of bullets. I know that you hate cats, because one bit you when you were young. I know that you work with a man named William Wolcott and another named Chaturanga. I know that Wolcott has an innocent crush on you, but you won't sleep with him because you've messed up too many friendships that way. I-"
"Stop," H.G. finally interrupted. "Stop talking!" She looked completely bewildered and overwhelmed, and Myka felt a little guilty for springing everything on her like that. "How... How could you possibly...?"
"I'm telling you the truth," Myka answered gently. "Two days ago, it was the 21st century, for me. You work at the Warehouse, H.G., you know all the kinds of impossible things that happen in this world."
H.G. simply stared at her a moment, but Myka could tell that she was starting to actually believe. "And... And what, you read about me one day and just decided to insert yourself into my life?"
Myka laughed. "Not exactly..."
"No," H.G. continued pensively. "The way you spoke of me, the way you look at me... Somehow, you personally know me," she realized.
"We're very good friends, actually," Myka admitted with a shy smile. Suddenly, she thought of Claudia's insistence that there had been even more than that between them, and she felt her cheeks flush. "You've even saved my life a few times," she continued.
"But," Helena frowned again in confusion. "The 21st century? Am I ancient, and decrepit, and about to die of unnaturally old age? Or am I going to discover the fountain of youth one of these days?"
Myka smiled sadly. "Something more like that second option."
Before H.G. could ask for any more details, Christina shyly opened the door and peeked into the room. "Oh good, you're awake! It's time for breakfast, are you hungry? Aunty, I brought one of your dresses for Miss Bering to wear, I hope that's all right." Turning to Myka, she added, "I thought maybe you'd rather have some of Daddy's clothes, but I didn't know what to take."
Helena nodded in assent. She hesitated for a moment, as she glanced quickly over to Myka, before she said, "She knows that I'm your mother, Christina. You don't have to call me 'Aunty' in front of her anymore."
Christina looked between the two adults in surprise, before smiling brightly.
Claudia was half-asleep, sitting with her head lying against the kitchen table, when Pete ran into the room and skidded across the floor in his socks, à la Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
"Hey hey hey," he called out excitedly. "Who's a genius?"
Claudia simply opened one eye to stare at him, and Leena and Artie remained silent as well.
"And they could hear the crickets chirp," Claudia mumbled to herself.
"Come on, guys!" Pete spread his arms out earnestly. "Where's the love? The correct answer is: Pete Lattimer!"
Artie did not look amused.
"Okay, okay," Pete went on, moving to sit backwards on another chair, with his arms crossed over the seatback. "So listen. We've been looking into all these teleportation artifacts, transportation artifacts, time travel artifacts, displacement artifacts... Ones that are at the Warehouse, ones that aren't at the Warehouse; artifacts that we know exist, artifacts that we only suspect exist... All with no luck."
"Did you wake me up to do anything other than remind us of how incompetent we all are?" Claudia asked grumpily.
"Yes, I did, Miss McCrankyPants!" Pete replied, pointing right in Claudia's face. She swatted half-heartedly at his finger. "We've been missing the whole point!" he continued. "Myka didn't just get transported anywhere, she got transported exactly where she wanted to go."
Leena frowned. "Pete, what are you talking about? Myka didn't want to go to Victorian-era London."
"Maybe she didn't want exactly that, per se," Pete continued, "but she did want to see H.G. again! That's not possible here and now, but it is in Victorian-era London. Don't you get it? We've been looking for the entirely wrong class of artifact! It's probably just the freakin' wishing kettle or something!"
That was enough to get Claudia to sit up and pay attention. "Pete. You are a genius!"
"Told you so." Pete crossed his arms and puffed out his chest proudly.
The redhead twisted around to face Artie. "That's gotta be it, right?" she asked.
"Well, there are a number of wish-granting artifacts that could possibly do this," Artie acknowledged thoughtfully. "I don't know why we didn't think of that earlier."
"It's because we're all so close to this case," Leena suggested. "This isn't just any regular artifact we're looking for. It's an artifact that's messing with Myka. We're too close, not to mention too sleep-deprived, to be totally objective about this."
"But if we were only objective about this," Claudia argued, "then Pete would never have thought of what he did. That wasn't objective; it was personal, because Pete knows Myka."
"Tomaytoes, tomahtoes." Pete shrugged. "What does it matter, let's skedaddle over to the Warehouse and find the right artifact!"
Claudia smiled, feeling better than she had in a while. "Don't worry, Mykes," she spoke out loud. "We're getting closer, now. We'll bring you home soon."
Myka Bering was a truly fascinating creature, Helena thought. She had been sitting curled up in Helena's favorite chair, immersed in some book she'd found in the library, completely oblivious to the fact that instead of simply working beside her, Helena had been quietly observing her for the past twenty minutes.
Helena smiled. These past weeks of getting to know the time traveler had been quite the interesting ones. She had to admit that it was flattering, having someone around who fully acknowledged her for who she really was, especially someone who was such a keen lover of books. The other members of the Warehouse knew the truth as well, of course, but somehow it simply wasn't the same with them.
She shifted in her seat, finding that she could no longer bear to remain silent.
"Have you and I slept together?" she inquired curiously.
Myka looked up sharply to meet Helena's eyes, and the expected color rose quickly up her cheeks. Helena had found that it was remarkably easy, yet still quite enjoyable, to make Myka blush.
"Wh- Um. I'm sorry, what?" Myka stammered.
Helena smirked in response. "No need to be shy, darling, it's a simple question."
"No," Myka finally answered, tearing her gaze away with an embarrassed smile. "We have definitely not slept together."
That was a pity, Helena mused. "It is only," she attempted to explain, "the way you look at me sometimes. I had wondered."
Apparently Myka's only response to that was a fiercer shade of red.
A minute later, a new thought occurred to Helena. "Have I tried?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.
Myka looked up again, appearing honestly confused at the question. "Have you tried what?"
"Tried to sleep with you, darling," she elaborated.
"Oh." Myka laughed awkwardly. "No, you haven't."
"Hm," Helena murmured. "Strange."
Myka clearly struggled with remaining silent, before she finally gave in to her curiosity. "Why is that strange?" she asked.
Helena smiled, her gaze sweeping unabashedly over Myka's features. "Well," she began. "You are very beautiful. We were very good friends, as you tell me. And I do have a bit of a habit of trying to sleep with beautiful women," she explained, shrugging unapologetically. "I'm usually successful."
Myka looked down at the floor, absently biting her bottom lip. The picture she made was really quite lovely, and Helena found herself wishing that her talents extended to the fine arts.
When Myka lifted her gaze to once again meet Helena's, she was taken aback by the intensity in Myka's eyes. This was no mere idle conversation, she realized. Even though they had apparently never been intimate, there had certainly been something between them, of that Helena had no doubt.
Though she had not at all been planning on this when she began the conversation, Helena found herself hesitantly reaching out to softly brush her fingertips over Myka's smooth cheek and around under her jaw. Myka closed her eyes at the first touch, inhaling deeply through her nose.
Suddenly, her eyes snapped open, and she reached up to grab Helena's hand in a tight grip.
"Helena, I'm leaving," she blurted out. "I'm sorry. Tell Christina I'm-"
Helena gasped, as where there had been a real, live person just a fraction of a second earlier, now there was only air. It was extremely disconcerting.
She placed her hand over her heart to try to calm its rapid beating, before laughing dryly to herself. She shot an amused glance towards the heavens. Given the timing of things, Helena should either take this as a sign to leave things well alone, or a challenge.
She decided that she much preferred the thought of a challenge.
Myka was in a daze, her hand resting idly against her cheek as H.G.'s had just been as the welcome committee of Claudia and Pete came running around the corner.
"Mykes, you're home!" Pete bellowed in excitement, wrapping her up in a tight hug and literally lifting her off her feet.
That was certainly enough to bring Myka out of her daze, and without meaning to, she let out a girlish little squeal.
"Pete! Put me down," she protested, laughing out loud.
He spun her around a few times, before obligingly placing her back on solid ground.
He still kept his hands on her shoulders, though, and held her at arm's length even as Claudia rushed forward and wrapped her arms around Myka's waist from behind.
"I missed you, Myka-Bear," Pete said seriously, though there was a bright smile on his face. Claudia squeezed a little tighter to echo the sentiment before releasing her hold on the agent.
Myka started to get choked up, but she managed a lighthearted tone as she asked, "You're not getting all sappy on me, are you, Lattimer?"
Pete's grin only widened. "Who, me? Never," he replied, and reached out to ruffle Myka's hair. "And oh hey, the curls are back!"
Myka chuckled. "Yeah, well, Helena hasn't quite managed to invent a hair straightener for me yet."
Though it was barely noticeable and gone in an instant, Myka saw that Pete frowned just slightly at the word 'yet.' Myka hadn't even consciously thought about it, but now she realized that she'd already, on some level, started thinking about how at some point she'd inevitably get shuttled back in time once again.
That wasn't supposed to be the idea, though, she knew. The plan was supposed to be that they'd find the artifact that was causing this, neutralize it, and everything would go back to normal.
But Myka was no longer sure how much she actually wanted 'normal.'
It wasn't really fair, though, to go on simply popping in and out of people's lives on the whims of an artifact.
Myka sighed. Why couldn't things just be simple, for once?
"Oh, so speaking of your time traveling trouble. Thanks to Pete the genius, here..." Claudia said after a moment as they all began walking back towards the office.
"Genius?" Myka mouthed silently, flashing a look of disbelief.
Claudia laughed. "I know, right? None of us could believe it either, at first. But we've actually had a breakthrough with figuring out what your artifact is," Claudia explained.
"Oh," Myka exhaled, ignoring the way her heart seemed to drop at the news, "you have?"
Myka could feel Pete watching her as Claudia continued to explain all they'd uncovered about known wish-related artifacts, but he simply smiled softly when she met his gaze, and she couldn't figure out what he was thinking.
Artie looked up as they entered the office, and a small but genuine smile spread across his face. "Myka," he began, with a simple nod of his head. "It's good to have you back." His bushy eyebrows furrowed as he added, "For now, at least. Without that artifact, we still have no idea how much time there is before you disappear again."
Myka inhaled deeply, continuing to pay attention, but simultaneously walking slowly around the office, reaching out to softly run her fingers over the walls, the chairs, each random knickknack. She'd missed this, she realized. As wonderful as it was to see Helena again, to get to know Christina... This Warehouse was still her home; these people were still her family.
She clenched her jaw and closed her eyes briefly, trying to stave off the wave of emotion threatening to overwhelm her.
"So Myka," Artie continued, "I know we've gone through this before, but I need you to really think. The first time this happened, what were you doing? Can you think of anything in particular that you were touching, or near to; anything you were thinking or doing? I know that's vague, but just try. There's got to be something."
This was it, the moment when Myka had to choose. Keep pretending that she didn't already know what the artifact was? Or give up the photograph and never see Helena again?
Myka ran a nervous hand through her hair, turning to look away from the others. She couldn't bear to look at them while she tried to think.
She thought about Pete. Her best friend. Selfishly, she hadn't thought much before about how all this might be affecting him. She knew he had abandonment issues, but she'd been perfectly happy to just skip off to the 19th century, leaving him again and again.
She thought about Christina. In the short time she'd known the girl, Myka had definitely come to care for her. But she wondered, now, if she was doing more harm than good. Christina didn't need the unreliability that Myka added to her life. With her mother busy working more often than not, what Christina needed was a steady presence not someone who might vanish at any moment without warning.
She thought about Claudia. A real sister in a way Tracy had never been. Claudia had been through so much already. She'd practically raised herself, and even with Joshua back, he still wasn't a major part of Claudia's life. And just when Claud had found another surrogate brother in Steve, he was taken away as well.
She thought about Helena. Beautiful Helena. There hadn't been enough time together in the present, but there hadn't been enough time together in the past, either. Myka was only just starting to figure out admit to herself how she really felt about the other woman. But there was never enough time. They were always saying goodbye to each other.
Myka closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. She thought back through the progression of their friendship: everything from that first meeting at gunpoint, to H.G.'s betrayal and subsequent redemption, to Helena's fingers skimming lightly over her cheek only minutes earlier.
She wiped at the damp corners of her eyes, and then turned to face Artie, Claudia, and Pete. Myka couldn't quite meet their eyes, but with a last few moments of hesitation, she reached for the photograph and wordlessly placed it on the table between them.
Pete moved to look over Claudia's shoulder once the redhead snatched up the photograph.
He frowned in confusion. "I don't get it. Was this taken when you were back there just now?"
Myka shook her head stiffly, her whole body tense. "No, I... I found it. Here, before any of this happened. I was reading H.G.'s file, and it fell out."
Pete was still trying to figure out the implications of that, when Artie spluttered, "Are you saying that you've known, this entire time?!"
Myka gritted her teeth, but said nothing.
"What were you thinking? Myka, we've been doing nothing but work on your case!" Artie fumed. "We haven't gone after other artifacts. Claudia should be in training, but she's been excused to come help you. We've wasted a lot of time and resources on figuring out this artifact, and all along, you've known!"
While Artie yelled at Myka, Pete could only watch his partner in confusion. She stood and took Artie's words stoically, refusing to defend herself. When she blinked her eyes, though, a few stray tears escaped down her cheeks, which she clumsily wiped away.
Looking sympathetic, Claudia stepped forward and grabbed hold of Myka's hand. Pete felt like there was something major he was missing, here.
If Myka had known that the photograph was an artifact, then why hadn't she told them? There had to be a logical answer, because everything Myka did had a logical answer. The photograph brought her to H.G., he realized. And she'd given it up. For them.
His first thought was that well, of course she'd choose to give it up. Myka and H.G. were good pals, but this was home. They were Myka's family. One look at Myka, though, and he knew it wasn't nearly that simple.
He still felt like there was more that he didn't understand, but she was his partner, and he supported her no matter what. Moving to Myka's side, he reached out to place a comforting hand against her lower back, before turning to Artie, who was still gaining steam.
"Artie, back off, man," he said, his tone respectful but firm. "We have the artifact now, and Myka is safe. That's all that matters."
Artie looked like he wanted to keep going, but after a moment, he lost all of his bluster with a sigh. "I'm sorry, Myka," he apologized, rubbing his hand over his eyes. "You just surprised me, and none of us have been sleeping all that much, and... I'm sorry. Pete's right."
Myka still looked really tense, but she swallowed a few times and then quietly asked, "So what is it?"
Artie pushed his glasses up his nose and then retrieved the photograph, which Claudia had dropped back on the table. He frowned as he looked at it, flipping it over to see it from all angles.
"You just randomly found this in the Wells file?" he asked.
Myka nodded. "And it wasn't there when I read the file the first time, after she was de-bronzed," she added.
"Hm," he murmured pensively. "What were you doing right before you were transported for the first time? Did it happen as soon as you touched it?"
"No." Myka cast a brief sidelong glance towards Claudia before continuing, "I... I was wishing that I could speak to H.G. again."
Artie didn't respond right away, but scratched the back of his head thoughtfully. "Well, that supports Pete's theory, at least. But as for what specific artifact this is, I-"
Artie stopped mid-sentence, as a thought seemed to occur to him. "It might be John Hinde's postcard," he offered. "That would certainly be interesting."
"Who's John Hinde?" Pete asked.
"He was an English photographer, known for his idealistic and nostalgic style," Artie explained. "The whole idea of sending a picture with a message to friends and family when you're on vacation? It was hugely popularized by Hinde's work."
"So I don't get it," Claudia spoke up. "What does it actually do? How does it work?"
Artie continued, "Well, if this is in fact John Hinde's postcard, we don't fully understand the mechanics of it. We've always known of the postcard, but we've never gotten our hands on it before. Somehow, it's drawn to extreme emotion, extreme longing for something. If you wish hard enough to be somewhere, then the postcard can take you there. The actual content of the photograph changes, you see, depending on the wishes of its chosen target. It's made it particularly difficult to track. But so, Myka wanted to see H.G. again? The postcard shows that happening, then makes it happen. The theory is that this is the last photograph that Hinde ever took, and that it gets its power from the collective nostalgic energy of the many people who ever looked at one of his images and wished they could be there. "
No one spoke at first, as they all tried to digest that information.
Again, Myka was the first to break the silence. "So that's it, then?" she asked, her shoulders sagging slightly. "Now you can neutralize it, and I'll stay here for good?"
"Well... Like I said, all of our knowledge about the postcard is theoretical." Artie paused, looking again at the photograph. "This image, has it happened?"
"What do you mean?" Myka asked.
"I mean, when you were back in time, did someone take this photograph of the two of you? Has this actually happened?"
Myka furrowed her brow. "No," she replied simply.
Artie sighed, frowning down at the image in his hand. "Well, that complicates things, unfortunately."
"Artie, what is it?" Pete prompted, feeling Myka stiffen under his hand, which still rested against her back.
"Well," he sighed, "it's possible that neutralizing the artifact could work just like you said. You'd stay here, and that would be that. But, I'm worried that's not what would happen. Given that the moment in this photograph has not yet occurred, from your perspective, neutralizing this may actually serve to send you back in time once again. This time, permanently."
The Warehouse was burning.
It was burning, but there was nothing that Myka could do, and Helena just stood there, smiling through the blaze. Then Steve and Mrs. Frederic slowly became visible at Helena's sides, staring blankly ahead. Then more, too Pete, Claudia, Artie, Leena; Myka's parents, her sister Tracy. One by one, they all joined Helena's ranks, as the flames began to lick at their feet.
Myka tried to scream, but though she opened her mouth, no sound came. She tried to move, but it was like her feet were nailed to the floor.
Helena was trying to tell her something, but Myka just couldn't seem to understand. But even as the flames rose higher and higher, Helena simply smiled.
And the Warehouse continued to burn.
Myka gasped for breath, her body twitching forcefully as she struggled in the transition from dream-state to consciousness.
No sooner had she regained a sense of vague stability than her equilibrium was upset once again, when she was yanked forward into the past. The rapid relocation was extremely disorienting, and Myka only barely managed to remain on her feet as a wave of dizziness and nausea ran through her.
She bent at the waist to place her hands on her knees, shutting her eyes and breathing deeply while she waited for the queasiness in her stomach to pass.
It could have been a minute, or it could have been ten, Myka had no idea. Eventually, though, she exhaled heavily and straightened back up.
She was grateful to see that it was night here, too, which meant that no one was around to witness her fitful arrival. She only realized how cold it was, though, when she noticed that she was shivering. A t-shirt, loose cotton pants, and bare feet were definitely not enough for being outdoors.
Trying very hard not to think about how dirty the streets of London were, Myka hurried back to the Wells' house. She didn't want to wake everyone up, so went around to the side where she knew H.G.'s window was. She smiled softly to herself as she gathered a few small stones and threw them up towards the window. She'd always thought it was cute when characters did this in movies, and now here she was, doing it to H.G. Wells.
It took a few tries, but it wasn't long before Helena's sleepily confused face appeared at the window. Myka wrapped her arms tightly around herself, but raised one hand to wave.
H.G. stepped back into her room, and Myka moved over to the front door, hoping that the author was now coming down to let her in.
When the door opened, Myka was embarrassed to find that at the mere sight of H.G., her eyes quickly filled with tears.
"Myka," H.G. began, but she never got a chance to finish whatever she'd meant to say.
Without thinking, Myka lurched forward and pulled Helena towards her into a tight, desperate embrace. She buried her face in the crook of H.G.'s neck, and though the other woman was clearly startled by the suddenness of her behavior, Myka simply couldn't let go.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled quietly into the soft skin where Helena's neck met her shoulder.
Myka didn't even know what she was apologizing for. For hugging her; for wetting her shoulder with tears; for showing up in the middle of the night; for trying to do the right thing by giving her up; for not figuring out a way to save her Helena in the present; for not realizing how she felt sooner.
For all of those reasons, she could only hold on tighter and repeat, "I'm sorry."
H.G. eventually seemed to recover from her surprise and reached up to tentatively return the hug, rubbing one hand soothingly up and down as the other rested lightly at the small of Myka's back.
"It's all right," Helena murmured back, leaning her cheek against the top of Myka's head. "Whatever it is, it's all right."
As Helena walked down the hallway the next morning, she was surprised to hear a soft murmur of voices coming from Myka's room. Pausing outside her door, she smiled knowingly as she was able to recognize two voices, one young and one older.
Not wanting to disturb them, she very quietly opened Myka's door and peered around the edge. Both occupants of the room were sitting up in Myka's bed, with Christina curled into the agent's side and the dog, Darwin, lying asleep at their feet. Neither of them appeared to notice Helena, who felt a little guilty for eavesdropping... but not really.
"The runaway carriage was coming straight towards us, and it seemed like there was no possible way to escape!" Myka exclaimed dramatically to an enraptured Christina. "Just as we were about to be trampled beneath the wild horses' hooves, I suddenly found myself flying up into the air!"
Christina gasped out loud. "You can fly?" Though Christina's back was to her, Helena could perfectly imagine the look of awestruck wonder that she was sure had crossed her daughter's face.
Myka laughed. "No, unfortunately, I can't fly. But, your mother..." And at that, Myka glanced over the top of Christina's head and met Helena's gaze with a soft smile. "Your mother is an incredible woman. Can you guess what she did?"
Christina shook her head.
"Still totally calm," Myka went on, "your mother reached into her jacket pocket, pulled out a grappler gun which she invented, by the way shot it over a nearby wall, grabbed me 'round the waist, and like magic, we were lifted right up into the air and out of danger!"
Smiling, Helena stepped into the room and commented, "Sounds like quite an adventure."
Twisting around to look at her, Christina responded, "Good morning, Mummy. Cook told me that Miss Bering was back again, so I simply had to come see her. She was just telling me the most exciting stories!"
"And here I thought that was my job," Helena teased. With a nod of her head towards the door, she continued, "Now go on. I'm sure Miss Bering will allow you to bother her later, but for now I do believe Mrs. Jones should be waiting for you for your studies."
After hugging Myka tightly, Christina crawled out of bed, hugged Helena as well, and then scampered off down the stairs, humming to herself, with Darwin following right behind.
"You're very good with her," Helena said, turning back to Myka after watching her daughter go.
Myka smiled, but there was something else, something unreadable, in her eyes as she replied, "It's easy. She's a great kid."
"Well I'm sure you must be hungry, but given your late arrival last night, I thought it would be best to let you sleep. I hope Christina didn't wake you too early?" Myka shook her head. "Good. I will have someone bring you some breakfast up here, if you'd like. But before that, I wished to ask if you would do me the honor of accompanying me on a walk later today."
Myka looked up at her with a smile, before a worried expression took over her features. "Are you sure that would be okay?" she asked. "I mean, last time I was gone back to my time, Pete and Claudia gave me this whole elaborate speech about how I have to be really careful about not changing anything; about how if I even just step on a bug, somehow that could eventually result in some kind of paradox or creating World War III or something."
Though she didn't exactly follow everything that Myka said, Helena had actually already considered the issue. The complexities of time travel were obviously a topic about which she had thought a great deal.
"Well," she replied, "last time you were here for over three weeks, and you didn't leave the house much, but you also didn't simply stay in your room and make sure to not interact with anyone, either. Now, when you returned, had you created... 'world war three,' whatever that is?"
"And do you wish to play it safe by spending all of the rest of your time here alone in this room?"
"Brilliant." Helena smiled. "Then it's sorted. Though I do try to avoid recklessness as much as possible, I am a firm believer in discovery through experimentation. We won't know what you can change and what you cannot until you actually do something. Besides," she added with a sly smile, "I thought that you might like to take a look at Warehouse 12."
That certainly caught Myka's interest. "Could I?" she asked, reminding Helena of Christina whenever she was first given permission to play with a new toy.
Helena grinned. "I've told the others about you. Poor Wooly appeared a bit terrified at the thought of what a 21st century woman might be like, but Chaturanga in particular would very much like to make your acquaintance."
Myka's delighted smile was infectious. Helena was once again struck by the displaced-in-time agent's beauty, and she thought back to how surprisingly comfortable it had been to find herself clasped within the other woman's embrace the previous night.
She rolled her eyes, though, as with an obviously put-on British accent, Myka exclaimed, "Well, then. Righty ho!"
Artie was doing inventory in the Vetruvius Sector when Claudia found him. "Artie, hey, I want to run an idea by you. So I was thinking..." she began.
"Usually that means you've been tinkering with things that shouldn't be tinkered with. Should I be worried?" Artie asked dryly, still continuing the task in front of him.
"Well what do you know, he makes jokes!" Claudia teased. "That was a joke, right? But yes, worrying though it may be, I was thinking. And it occurred to me that there must be records of Myka somewhere, right?"
Artie frowned thoughtfully. "What do you mean? There are files on all of us, yes."
"No, not modern records. Old records," Claudia elaborated. "We know that Mykes told H.G. who she really was. And think about it. If, for example, dreams came true and the Doctor were to just show up here one day, don't you think we'd make note of it somewhere, that a man was here claiming to be an alien from the future?"
Artie stopped his work long enough to turn and stare at Claudia, his face a perfect picture of confusion. "Is Myka telling them that she's an alien?" he asked. "Why would she ever do that?"
Claudia laughed. "No, dude, that was just my example. Doctor Who? It started airing about a billion years ago, so, you know, back when you were a little boy. How do you not know Doctor Who?" Artie continued to just stare at her as though she were speaking a different language. "Oh, right, it's British. Well whatever. The point is, whatever Myka's getting up to back there, at this point, it's all already happened! Right?"
"Well, not necessarily... There are quite a few theories as to how time itself actually works," Artie replied.
Claudia could smell the beginnings of a long and boring lecture, and interrupted, "Yeah, yeah. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey. I know. But still. Isn't it possible that somewhere in this Warehouse, there are notes or records or something written by the agents of Warehouse 12, talking about how today they hung out with that super cool chick from the future?"
Finally, what Claudia was saying seemed to click. "Well, it's certainly possible," Artie acknowledged. "I suppose there could be something in the archives. They're not in the office; they're-"
Claudia snapped both fingers excitedly and pointed at Artie. "Perfect! I know where they are. Just needed you to tell me I'm not crazy, slash let me know that you weren't way ahead of me." Without waiting for a reply, Claudia took off running down the aisle, calling back, "Don't worry, I'm on it, Mister Boss Man!"
Over an hour later, Claudia was starting to regret not asking for Artie's help. The archives weren't exactly organized, and so even with knowing the general time frame that she was looking for, Claudia had yet to find anything useful.
Her eyes were beginning to glaze over, and she almost set yet another page aside when a few words caught her attention. Suddenly feeling much more alert, Claudia sat up and read more carefully through the entry in her hands.
After hearing much about her, I was finally able to meet MB today. Though I am quite happy in my own time, MB obliged my curiosity with a few tidbits about hers mass amounts of information available simply and easily right at one's fingertips; the widespread use of air travel; tiny devices which serve as storage for many hours' worth of music. It all sounds quite fascinating, I must admit.
"Ha!" Claudia called out triumphantly. "I told Artie there would be something!"
MB's skills as an agent were also of great use, as she was able to help move us one important step forward in HW & WW's latest case. Children have been wandering away from home, apparently completely forgetting about their own loving families, but we had no idea as to why. It appears that Dickens' badminton racket is to blame, and although I had not heard of such an artifact, MB seems quite sure, and I am inclined to believe her. Its exact location continues to elude us, but at least now HW & WW know the object for which they are looking.
It has been most interesting to view both of their reactions to MB's arrival. WW appears unsure whether he is in love or intimidated. A bit of both, I imagine. But I am afraid the poor boy is no match for the team that is HW and MB. HW is clearly quite taken with her, more so than I have seen with anyone in quite some time. MB undoubtedly cares greatly for HW as well, but I remain uncertain as to whether or not she is aware that she is being courted. That HW is engaging in the rituals of courtship is of course undeniable, but these rituals will be unfamiliar to one such as MB. HW has never been particularly subtle in the art of flirtation, however, and of that at least, MB is certainly conscious. I hope for the best, but cannot help being concerned for HW, for a union such as theirs has quite a few obstacles in its way.
Claudia laughed. So, everything was just like normal H.G. wanting to date Myka, and Myka being totally oblivious. She tried to think who this "WW" might be, before remembering when H.G. told them all about her partner; Wally, or Willy, or whatever his name was. That must be him.
She wasn't sure how any of this might help them figure out how to actually get Myka back home, but still, it felt good to at least see that she seemed to be doing okay.
"Hey, there you are." Claudia looked up to see Pete standing in the doorway. "I'm starving, you up for ordering some pizza and having it delivered back to Leena's?"
Claudia glanced down at her watch, surprised to see how late it was. At the mention of food, her own stomach rumbled. Come to think of it, she wasn't sure if she'd had lunch that day.
"Sounds good, dude," she replied. "I could die for some cheesy goodness right about now."
For now, looking for more information about the grand adventures of "MB" and "HW" would just have to wait.
There were many things many people that Myka missed from the 21st century, but to her surprise, she had found that she generally enjoyed this slower pace of life.
Although the ride wasn't nearly as smooth, or as quick, as it would have been in a car, traveling from London to Kent by horse-drawn carriage was proving to be a very pleasant journey. Myka spent most of the day-and-a-half trip looking out the window at the passing countryside, reading a book, or dozing off, only occasionally breaking the silence to talk with Helena. It was a comfortable silence between them; each woman was content with the simple presence of the other.
Helena spent the time reading mathematical theory to help work out a few issues with some new invention of hers. Myka was quite curious about it, but Helena had proven to be endearingly shy when it came to talking about her work before it was complete. Well, shy for H.G., at least. She was confident in her eventual success, of course, but she refused to share any details, and the usual boastful swagger was missing.
It had been Helena's idea for the two of them to travel to the Wells' cottage just outside the village of Sandgate for a few days. H.G. tended to do a lot of her writing there, and she wanted to show Myka around the area.
Upon their arrival, they were greeted by the caretaker, a woman who lived nearby and looked after the cottage when no one was there. It wasn't long, however, before the carriage and driver were sent to stay in the village, and the caretaker had finished preparing a light mid-day meal for them and returned home.
Myka found herself suddenly feeling timid, as it sunk in that for the first time, it would be just the two of them, alone, for an extended period of time.
Helena, on the other hand, was clearly right at home. She was practically glowing, and a bright smile never left her face as she gave Myka a tour of the house.
They ended up standing on the back porch, looking out across the yard. There was an open stretch of grass sloping down a small hill, with a little vegetable garden off to the left. The rest of the property was mostly forest, H.G. had said, and it stretched almost as far as the English Channel.
H.G. breathed in deeply. "I do enjoy London, but I have found nothing quite so lovely as this place. The fresh air; the silence, but for the sounds of nature; the warm breeze coming off the sea... I am so pleased that you've come to share this with me, Myka."
H.G. turned to the other woman, and her grin only widened when she discovered that Myka was already looking at her. Myka felt her cheeks flush slightly at being caught staring, but Helena's smile was infectious.
"Come, darling," she continued. "What do you say to making a picnic of the meal Mrs. Cooper has left for us?"
"Sounds great," Myka agreed.
With yet another smile, H.G. grabbed Myka by the hand and pulled her back into the house, where they gathered up the food, some blankets, and a bottle of wine.
Chivalrous as always, Helena insisted on carrying the heavy basket, leaving only the blankets for Myka. As they walked along a small dirt path behind the cottage, Helena explained how Charles had been the one to first find and decide to purchase the property, but Helena used it the most. It served as a retreat from the craze of London, and she sometimes came alone but often took Christina along with her.
"Well, here we are, then."
They'd only been walking for a little over five minutes, when the forest around them opened up to surround a small pond.
Myka smiled. "It's beautiful," she said.
They settled down right beside the edge of the water, finding a spot that was comfortably warm but still in the shade. It was a perfect picnic the food was good, the wine was light and sweet, and Helena was just as charming as ever.
The trouble came once they reached dessert. Helena was clearly enjoying herself. A bit too much, Myka thought. Was it really necessary for Helena to bite into the juicy slices of fruit and buttery pastries with such obvious delight? Not to mention the soft, throaty moans of appreciation, which were just barely on the right side of obscene.
Myka was mesmerized.
Helena had been largely ignoring Myka since she'd begun eating dessert... But when a stray bit of jam slipped from the scone she was eating to the corner of her mouth, Helena turned just slightly to meet Myka's gaze while she extended her tongue to lick the spot clean. Myka just couldn't seem to stop staring, and Helena held her eyes as she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth.
After a moment, Myka was finally able to pull her gaze away when Helena broke the tension by shooting her a grin that could only be described as positively wicked. Myka laughed lightly and rolled her eyes, at last understanding that she was being teased.
"You've hardly touched any of this," H.G. admonished. "Here, you simply must try one of these. Mrs. Cooper is an excellent baker, and her scones are so delicious it feels almost sinful."
Myka leaned back and propped herself up by her elbows, studiously looking out over the pond. "No thanks, I'm pretty full."
"Just a bite, then," Helena purred. "I promise that you shan't regret it."
Myka turned her head back towards the other woman, but she was unprepared for the way Helena was looking at her. The ever-present playfulness was still there, but there was something else, too. Something deeper.
It was gone before Myka could fully interpret it, but she gave in and extended an open palm for the offered scone.
H.G. shook her head with a grin, biting the corner of her lip as she made it clear that she wanted to feed it to Myka herself.
Myka rolled her eyes. "I'm not a child," she said, "I'm fully capable of feeding myself, you know."
"Yes Myka," Helena drawled, "I'm well aware that you are not a child."
Myka could feel her heart pounding in her chest, and just to get it over with just to get through this infernal teasing she finally rolled her eyes once more but agreed.
Their eyes met and held, as Helena reached out to bring the pastry right in front of Myka's face. Myka opened her mouth and closed her eyes, biting down when the scone hit her tongue and she could feel just the slightest hint of fingertips against her lips.
It did taste good, but Myka barely noticed.
"Did you like it?" H.G. whispered.
Myka swallowed hard and nodded, her eyes fluttering back open to find H.G. still staring at her.
With a deep breath, Myka lay back on the blanket. "Well, that's quite enough for me," she intoned, her voice coming out deeper than she'd meant it to. Thankfully, Helena decided to let her be. Closing her eyes against the sun streaming in through the leaves, Myka was gradually able to relax. Soon, she was feeling comfortable, warm, just a little bit tipsy, and completely content. She could hear Helena moving around, but didn't pay any attention until she heard the light sound of something moving through the water.
As she glanced over in the direction of the sound, the bit of sleepiness she'd been feeling fled instantly at the sight that greeted Myka when she opened her eyes.
With her back to Myka, Helena was calmly striding, completely naked, into the water.
Myka couldn't help but stare gape, really for several long seconds, before she remembered herself and jerked her gaze up towards the sky, bringing her hand up to cover her eyes.
She had occasionally wondered whether her growing feelings for Helena were a simple result of the ideas planted in her head by Claudia; whether this was really just some misguided form of grief. Those few seconds served to settle any doubts, however. There was no denying the pleasant flutter of butterflies at the sight of Helena's bare form, visible from mid-calf upwards. No denying the hot wave of attraction.
Myka next heard a bigger splash, but was startled when a few drops of water landed on her feet.
H.G. laughed and called out, "It's safe to look now, darling."
Myka kept her hand near her eyes just in case, but twisted her neck once again to look in Helena's direction. Thankfully, Helena had sunk in to the water up to her neck.
Clearing her throat, she pulled herself into an upright sitting position and was relieved that she sounded relatively calm when she asked, "Is this some British tradition I wasn't aware of? Skinny dipping after dessert?"
"No," Helena smirked, "but it does sound like a lovely tradition. Today you and I can start it. Won't you join me?"
Myka swallowed, finding her mouth dryer than usual. "I'm not exactly sure how safe of an idea that is. We've been eating and drinking alcohol, and I don't think you're supposed to go swimming after that."
"I rather think it would be quite difficult to drown in here, actually," H.G. countered. "It's fairly shallow. Gets a bit deeper in the center, but right here I have to bend my knees to stay under like this."
To prove the shallowness of the pond, H.G. began to stand up further. Myka immediately brought her hand back up to cover her eyes, and Helena chuckled in response. "It's okay, I believe you," Myka protested quickly. Peeking out from between her fingers, she lowered her hand again when she saw that Helena was back to a decent depth.
"Well, it looks cold," Myka tried arguing again. Though it felt nice out in the sun, it was only the end of March, and Myka couldn't imagine the water being too comfortable at this time of year.
"Nonsense, it's lovely," declared H.G.
Myka raised her eyebrows disbelievingly. "Helena, you're shivering," she pointed out.
"Then I suppose you should come in," H.G. reasoned, "and help warm up the water with your extra body heat."
"I don't think it works that way," Myka smiled.
"Neither do I, darling, but we'll never know for sure unless you join me."
Myka chewed absently on her lip. She knew that she shouldn't go in. But there was something infectious about H.G.'s playful energy. Myka sighed, giving in when the other woman reached to once again splash water in her direction.
"Fine," she relented. "But don't look!"
Myka stood and awkwardly turned her back to Helena, beginning to strip out of her clothes. She glanced back over her shoulder to find Helena blatantly peeking past the edge of her fingertips.
"I apologize, darling," Helena said, sounding completely unrepentant. "But do hurry up, it is bloody cold in here."
Before she could change her mind, Myka removed the rest of her clothing and moved quickly into the pond with her arms crossed tightly in front of her chest. As soon as she could, she dove beneath the surface of the water, hiding her body below the reflections of the trees.
Helena was grinning at her when she resurfaced. "There now, that wasn't so difficult, was it?"
Myka shivered as she pushed her wet hair out of her eyes. "What it is," she responded, "is frickin' freezing in here!"
H.G. simply laughed.
"So now what?" Myka asked.
Helena's grin transformed into a smirk, and she looked almost proud when she replied, "I will admit that I had not thought ahead this far, as I never expected that you would actually join me. You have pleasantly surprised me, my dear."
Myka chuckled. "It's good to know that I can manage to surprise the great H.G. Wells."
Helena had an intense and mischievous look in her eyes as she stared into Myka's face. "Darling, I have no doubt at all..." She trailed off and took a deep breath before submerging completely underwater. Myka anxiously looked around, but couldn't see where the other woman had gone. She almost jumped right out of her skin, when she felt a brush of fingertips against her thigh, and then Helena rose up directly behind her and continued in a husky whisper, "That there are a great many ways that you can surprise me."
Goosebumps rose across Myka's skin at the feel of Helena's warm breath coasting over her ear. Her body tensed, trying to stay perfectly still, instead of leaning back into the woman behind her.
"Well," Myka began, hopeful that H.G. couldn't hear the rapid beating of her heart. "If you don't have any doubts, then it's not much of a surprise, now is it?"
H.G. chuckled, but before she could respond, Myka reached her arm back and quickly flicked a large splash of water right into H.G.'s face.
Laughing, Myka turned around and backed in towards the shore as she watched a sputtering, and completely surprised, H.G.
"You little brat!" Helena exclaimed, but she was laughing too, and she moved to chase Myka back towards land.
Helena was quite fast, and Myka had no time to feel self-conscious as she rose up out of the water and hurried back to the blankets, bending down to pick one up and wrap it tightly around her shoulders. She had expected Helena to be right at her heels, but turned around to find her still in the pond.
"Did you give up?" she called out, shivering.
"Not at all, darling." H.G. leered at her. "Merely stopped to admire the view."
Myka blushed. She turned around again, probably a bit slower than she should have, as Helena suddenly stood straight up and stalked in out of the water.
Once she could tell that Helena was out of the water and was covered in the other blanket, Myka turned back. She frowned when she saw how strongly Helena was shivering. "Are you okay?" she asked worriedly. "You were in there for longer than I was."
Helena smiled, but couldn't seem to stop shaking. "I'm fine, Myka, thank you. Just a bit chilled. 'Tis nothing that a warm fire and a cup of tea back at the cottage won't fix."
Concerned nonetheless, Myka adjusted her blanket so that it still covered her, but her arms were free. She reached out to rub vigorously up and down H.G.'s blanket-covered skin and then pulled the cold woman into a tight embrace. Myka continued to rub her hands over Helena's back, and the writer sighed contentedly as she pressed her body against Myka's and her face into the crook of Myka's neck.
"Thank you," she whispered softly against the silky skin at the base of Myka's neck. Her shivering had noticeably lessened, but Myka felt no urge to let go just yet. Her breath caught in her throat and her entire body stilled, however, when she felt a gentle press of lips against her bare shoulder.
Myka was sure that H.G. would be able to feel the sudden jump in the pulse now racing beneath her skin. The other woman stiffened as well, as if only just realizing what she'd done. "Myka, please forgive me," she murmured, beginning to pull away.
Myka maintained her hold, however, and didn't let Helena draw back very far at all. She didn't say anything; simply turned her head to catch Helena's gaze and search her eyes, although she didn't quite know what she was looking for.
She wasn't sure how long they stood there, pressed together, simply staring at one another. Finally, hesitant in a way that she normally wasn't, Helena wet her lips with her tongue and then tilted her chin upwards to capture Myka's lips with her own.
Myka sighed into the kiss, reaching one hand to gently cup Helena's cheek. Helena quickly regained her confidence and pressed harder into Myka, opening her mouth to tease her tongue against Myka's lips. Myka opened willingly and deepened their contact, releasing a breathy moan.
The wanton sound actually took her by surprise, and she pulled back with a gasp.
Both women breathed deeply. Helena cleared her throat, but her voice still came out sounding husky when she whispered, "Well, I'm feeling much warmer now, darling. Thank you."
Myka laughed breathlessly, smiling as she leaned her forehead against Helena's and closed her eyes.
It was their final night in the cottage, before they were to return to London. A part of Helena had thought about suggesting that they simply forget the earlier plan and stay longer. Or go somewhere else. She knew that they couldn't, however. She had responsibilities to attend to, no matter how romantic the notion of running off with her agent from the future. More than that, however really, more than anything Helena missed Christina.
But before reality crowded in once more, they had one more night.
The crackle from the fire and the occasional flip of a turning page were the only sounds as the two of them sat along the settee. Myka was, as usual, engrossed in a book, but Helena had foregone her own reading in favor of studying Myka instead.
Helena was facing the fire but turned her head to the side to watch the other woman. Myka sat with her back against the arm of the settee, her feet resting just beside Helena's thigh, and her legs bent at the knees. The light from the flames jumped playfully, appealingly, across Myka's body, creating a soft glow around her.
"You're staring at me again," Myka murmured, her eyes still fixed on the page in front of her.
She smiled and lifted her gaze over the top of the book, however, when Helena replied, "Guilty as charged, I'm afraid. I would apologize, but that would be a lie. I'm not sorry, and you're simply going to have to learn to deal with me. I rather enjoy staring at you."
Myka laughed. "Oh is that so?"
"Quite so," Helena agreed with a grin.
Deciding that, even sharing the settee, they were too far apart, Helena moved quickly to straighten out Myka's legs and lay them across her lap as she shifted closer to the other woman, twisting her body to face Myka directly.
Myka softly squealed in surprise, dropping her book and reaching to grab onto Helena's shoulders to maintain her balance.
Helena smirked. "And now I have your undivided attention, how lovely."
"You're incorrigible," Myka chided. She made no attempt to move, however, leaving her arms draped over Helena's shoulders as Helena began to lightly trail her hand up and down Myka's legs. "That was your book, by the way," Myka continued. "I was re-reading The Invisible Man."
Helena glanced down to the floor, now recognizing the red cover. "Re-reading?" she asked with a smile. "How gratifying, darling, thank you. But in that case, it hardly matters that you are no longer reading it, as you already know what happens. I shall simply have to write something new for you." She paused, tilting her head as a thought occurred to her. "Although I suppose that whatever I write next, odds are that you have previously read it as well. Or at least heard of it, I hope. It really is most unfair, your already knowing everything," she pouted. "Puts you at a distinct advantage, I should say."
Myka smiled warmly, in that way of hers that made Helena's heart flutter. She reached to push a stray lock of hair behind Helena's ear as she replied, "Well you're a genius, so I should say that that evens things out pretty well."
Before Helena could respond, the other woman leaned forward and brought their lips together. It was a gentle kiss, just a simple meeting of lips. Until, that is, Helena pushed further, moving in even closer as she wrapped one arm behind Myka's back and reached with the other to grab hold of her companion's hip. She nipped gently at Myka's lower lip with her teeth, before soothing the spot with her tongue.
Myka's hands had at some point found their way into Helena's hair, but one moved to tilt Helena's chin just slightly into a better angle for her tongue to slip into Helena's mouth. Their pace was slow, languid.
Soon, though, Helena's need to explore further took over. Myka's head fell backwards with a contented sigh as Helena's lips moved to trail along her jaw line and down to the graceful curve of her neck.
The writer's strong hands slipped beneath the hem of Myka's blouse, spreading to touch as much warm, smooth skin as possible and eliciting a responding gasp from Myka. Helena continued to suck lightly at that place where neck met shoulder, but Myka reached for her, forcibly moving her head until their mouths crushed together once again.
Myka Bering was a dangerous woman, Helena knew. Dangerous because it would be so easy to lose herself in the depths of the other woman; to run towards the precipice before them and jump. It wasn't a luxury that Helena allowed herself very often, this sweet taste of infatuation. Especially with someone who quite literally might disappear at any moment.
She wasn't yet ready for the metaphorical leap, but for the first time in over eight years, she decided to simply let go and embrace the emotions within her.
With a soft grunt, Helena wrapped her arms more forcefully around Myka, squeezing the other woman tightly. She then placed her hands on either side of Myka's hips and gently urged her to move, until Myka's legs straddled her own. Myka moaned at the new position, sinking down into Helena's lap.
Their tongues continued to duel, and both women whimpered into each other's mouths when Helena's questing hands reached down to settle on Myka's rear end. She knew right away, however, that she had pushed things just a little too far.
She moved her hands northward once again, this time curling into fists around Myka's blouse. They remained pressed together, but the urgency of their kissing slowly lessened, until Myka pulled back minutely with one last, lingering press of her lips to Helena's.
Helena could feel Myka just barely begin to stiffen, as she had the other few times they had started to test this new thing between them. But before any awkwardness could settle in, Helena leaned up to kiss Myka on the cheek, her embrace easing from one of desire to one of comfort.
Myka noticeably relaxed at the wordless apology, and upon unspoken agreement, they resettled themselves, with both of them lounging across the settee, and Helena holding Myka within her arms.
There was something holding Myka back, and though Helena did not know precisely what it was, she was willing to wait until Myka was ready.
"It's embarrassing," Myka muttered softly. "I mean, I want to... I really like you a lot, Helena."
Helena chuckled. "Well that is a relief, darling."
"I'm..." Myka continued as if Helena hadn't spoken. "I'm sorry that I-"
"Hush, there is nothing you need to explain," Helena interrupted, lightly kissing the top of Myka's shoulder.
"But there is," Myka insisted, twisting until she could look Helena in the eyes. "It's stupid, though," she added, turning back around. "It doesn't even make any sense."
Helena started to feel confused. She had assumed that this was merely something about being with a woman for the first time or not knowing when she would next be transported back to her own time... It was sounding like there was something else that Helena was missing, however.
With a deep breath, Myka finally admitted, "It's so weird, but I can't help the feeling that... Well, that I'm cheating on you with you. Not that there was ever anything between us. I don't know. I told you it doesn't make sense."
Helena frowned, and it took a moment for Myka's meaning to sink in. Once it did, an irrational swell of jealousy crashed over her. "Ah yes," she said, feigning nonchalance. "My future self, the one lucky enough to have met you first."
Deciding to test a theory, Helena asked, "I imagine you've talked to her about me?"
Myka burrowed deeper into her arms, reaching to link their hands together and holding on tightly. "No," she whispered simply; sadly.
A heavy silence enveloped them. Helena felt her throat tighten, but she managed to squeeze out one more question after several long moments.
"Because I've died, yes?"
Myka stiffened instantly, and she scrambled to sit up and stare at Helena, surprise and grief warring for dominance over her face.
"What? How..." she asked helplessly.
Myka hadn't answered the question, but with a reaction like that, she didn't need to.
Helena closed her eyes briefly and took a deep breath. She sat upright as well and, smiling sadly, she quipped, "Genius, remember? I figured it out. And I understand, I do. She was the one for whom you first felt something. Now here we are, but I'm not her. Not yet, anyway. She is the one you long for, but I am all that's left."
"No!" Myka exclaimed, reaching to earnestly grab hold of Helena's shoulders. Helena couldn't quite meet Myka's gaze, but she slowly obeyed when Myka continued, "Look at me, Helena! Listen to me. There are differences between you, but you're both her. Both of you are my Helena. But I couldn't save you." Myka's voice broke just a little, but she cleared her throat and went on, "You saved the world, but I couldn't save you. And I miss her. A lot. I can't deny that. But you..." Myka smiled tremulously, but though her eyes were wet with tears, Helena could see the grief begin to give way. "You are so wonderful, and beautiful, and I love being here with you, so much. Oh Helena."
Myka lunged forward, wrapping her arms desperately around the other woman. Myka's shoulders shook with silent tears, but Helena held her close, softly soothing the best she could. "Shh, darling, it's all right. I'm right here, it's all right. I'm so sorry, my darling."
Helena pressed a soft kiss to Myka's temple before leaning her cheek against the same spot. It took all of her strength to resist the part of her that wanted to panic; that wanted to shut down, in denial of her own demise. Instead, she focused every ounce of her soul on the beautiful woman in her arms.
They would have to make the most of however much time they had together, now. Their future had already ended.
Pete jerked his head up from where it was lying on the desk in his room. He looked around blearily. Something had woken him up, but he didn't know what.
The angry voice that called out was unmistakably Claudia's, and without thinking, Pete scrambled out of his chair and ran down the hall, a sense of dread not quite a vibe already spreading through him.
Her room was already crowded, with Artie standing in one corner pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration while Leena tried to calm an agitated Claudia.
The redhead turned to glare at him when he appeared in the doorway. "Did you know about this?" she demanded. "Did you know that your mother and the other Regents want to make me go back to their stupid training?"
"What?" He frowned and shook his head. "No, Claud, I didn't know." His mother never told him anything. The sting was familiar by now, but it still hurt a little.
Claudia wheeled back on Artie. "They let me out of training to help save Myka. We haven't saved Myka, so I don't need to go back yet! Why are they doing this?"
Artie sighed. "This is not some kind of punishment, Claudia. The Regents have simply decided that the best use of your time would-"
"What the hell do they know about the best use of my time?" she demanded. "They don't care about me! They don't care about Myka! Steve had to die because they had no problem with throwing him to the wolves, so screw them! I won't do it. I won't go do their bidding just because they're tired of waiting; because abandoning Myka is no big deal to them. Well it's a big fucking deal to me!"
More than anything, it was the swearing that showed how shaken Claudia was. The worst Pete had ever heard from her had been the occasional use of "frak."
"Claud, none of us are abandoning Myka," he said, stepping further into the room. "You know that."
Leena reached out to touch Claudia on the shoulder. She jumped at the contact, but then visibly deflated, all of the angry tension leaving her in a rush.
"It feels like giving up," she whispered. "It feels like they want me to give up. I thought I was ready for this Caretaker gig, I really did, but... I was spending so much time trying to be Mrs. F, that I forgot how to be me. But being back here, working with all of you? This is where I belong. And this is where Myka belongs, so we have to get her back."
"First it's just me going back to training," Claudia continued. "Then it'll be you guys going out to get more artifacts again. Then maybe they'll actually recruit a new agent or two. Don't you all get it? The Regents want us to move on because they're already thinking about the one thing we haven't dared to talk about. What if we fail? She's been gone for longer and longer stretches of time. What if we never get her back?"
No one had anything to say to that.
Pete turned away. It was his biggest fear, of course. They'd made absolutely zero progress lately, too afraid to really try anything in case it backfired and Myka was lost forever.
At least Myka had H.G., Pete reasoned, and a pre-crazy H.G., at that. He hated to think it, but hell, maybe Myka would actually want to stay lost. He'd started to wonder if that was what he'd been missing; if Myka and H.G. were more than just good friends.
But there was no happily ever after waiting. H.G. would still lose her marbles and get herself bronzed, and then what? Then Myka would be left behind, alone.
No, Pete dismissed the thought before it was even fully formed. He wouldn't want Myka to go through that; couldn't ask her to spend over a century trapped inside her own mind in the bronzer.
"Well screw them," Claudia repeated quietly, an edge to her voice that was almost frightening. Pete turned back to look at her again and was taken aback by the intensity in her eyes. Gone was the lighthearted and carefree kid that Pete knew. In her place stood a cold fighter, with a hot anger simmering just below the surface. "My brother, Steve, Mrs. F, H.G., and now Myka... All of them just taken away, and the Regents don't lift a finger over any of it. Yeah, we got Joshua back, but that was because of us, not them. Hell, H.G. spends 100 years locked inside her head, and when she understandably goes a little insane, their idea of a fair solution is to do the same thing. Strip her mind from her body and leave her suspended in limbo, while they create some new stranger and implant her into H.G.'s head."
Claudia's eyes slid over to Pete. "No offense to your mom, but if rising up the totem pole means being closer to all of them, then I want nothing to do with it." Looking back towards Artie, she sneered, "So tell your bosses that they can take their training and shove it."
Claudia turned to walk out of the room, and she had almost passed by him before Pete recovered enough to reach out and grab onto her wrist.
"Whatever you decide to do, we've all got your back," he told her earnestly. "Just don't rush anything, okay? We all want you working in the Warehouse with us, but remember you've got all the power here. They're the ones who need you, so you're the one who gets to set the rules."
Claudia stood looking at him for several moments, but she didn't say anything. Simply pulled free from his grasp and walked away.
An unconscious smile spread across Myka's face as she walked into the library to return the book she'd taken and unexpectedly found Helena there, sitting on her own. She'd expected H.G. to still be at Warehouse 12. Her expression turned to one of worry, however, when she realized how sad Helena looked.
"Helena?" she asked tentatively. "What's wrong?"
H.G. whipped around and practically jumped to her feet. She stood still for just a moment, before taking large strides over to stand in front of Myka.
"You're still here," Helena whispered, a note of wonder in her voice. She reached out to cup Myka's confused face in her hand. "Or did you leave, and have now already returned?" she continued. "It has never been that quick, before."
"Um, I just came back from a walk, if that's what you mean..." Myka responded. "Are you okay?"
Helena laughed, though the sound was somewhat pained. "I... Charles said you were in here, but I couldn't find you. I thought you were gone," she explained.
"Oh, Helena, I'm so sorry," Myka said, reaching to tangle her hand in Helena's. "I wasn't thinking. I just felt like getting some fresh air, so-"
She was interrupted as Helena stepped forward and brought their lips together in a desperate kiss.
Although they hadn't spoken about it, since returning to London they'd reflexively put the brakes on any progress in their relationship. It felt different, being back to their "normal" lives even if nothing about Myka's life, and very little about Helena's, was normal compared to the secluded solitude of the Sandgate cottage.
Regardless, Myka leaned into the kiss, her free hand instinctively moving around Helena's waist. She suddenly had no idea why they didn't do this more often.
They quickly stepped apart, though, when they heard the door to the library open. Myka blushed, but there was really no need, since Charles didn't even look up from the newspaper he was reading as he announced, "Post arrived for you," before tossing an envelope onto an end table and leaving the room once again.
Helena laughed, relieved, and reached to tilt Myka's chin upward from where she'd been studying the floor in embarrassment. She placed a quick kiss to the corner of Myka's mouth, before moving to take the letter.
Myka considered the back of H.G.'s head as the other woman went to her desk to retrieve a letter opener.
"Does Charles..." Myka began hesitantly, unsure how to finish her question. "Does he know that you..."
Helena chuckled. "Does he know that he and I share an appreciation for the fairer sex?" she guessed, briefly glancing back over her shoulder. "I imagine he has his suspicions, but we have always respected each others' right to privacy. Besides, such a personal conversation would hardly do for polite society, and there is little that my brother enjoys more than polite society."
Myka turned to stare absently out the window while Helena began to read her letter. Seeing Charles always reminded Myka of Pete, which in turn reminded her of everyone else she'd left behind. It wasn't that the two men had anything in common. In fact, she had a strong feeling that the two of them wouldn't get along at all, if they were to meet. But the more time she spent away from home, the stronger the ache for her own figurative brother.
She wondered what they were doing, back in the future. How they were doing.
Her musings were interrupted when H.G. spoke, "Oh, how lovely. The letter is from one of my cousins. It's an invitation to spend time with the family in Paris this summer."
Myka whirled around, but Helena was still facing the opposite direction, so didn't see the look of horror that crossed her face.
"All of you?" she murmured quietly.
"Well, all of us for some amount of time," H.G. continued, turning around to face Myka, "but Christina in particular. She hasn't had a chance to travel all that much, and it would really be a wonderful opportunity for her."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Myka asked, trying not to sound desperate. She'd known that this moment was coming, but felt in no way prepared for it. "I mean, she's still so young, and... I mean, Paris! I bet it's not the safest place for young girls. And... And don't the British hate the French? I'm sure Christina would be more than happy to stay in London."
Helena laughed. "I'm sorry, have you actually met my daughter? Yes, she is young, but she'd gladly head off to explore the world tomorrow if I allowed it. She could do with some more friends her own age, as well. My cousin has four children, and it would be marvelous for Christina to spend an extended amount of time with them."
Myka opened her mouth, but couldn't think of what to say. Distracted and clearly beginning to already make plans in her head, Helena merely smiled as she crossed the room and took hold of Myka's hand.
"Have you ever been to Paris?" she asked. Without waiting for an answer, she lifted Myka's hand to her lips and left a light kiss just below her knuckles. "I'd love to take you there, darling."
Myka clenched her jaw, smiling weakly.
She'd been so careful about trying not to change anything more than she already was simply by being there. It was time to figure out a new strategy, though. This was one case where she couldn't just stand by and let the past happen.
"Don't you dare laugh," Helena announced, startling Myka as she entered the room. She forced herself not to look closer when, out of the corner of her eye, she could see Myka sink lower into the bathtub with a blush. "I do apologize for barging in," she continued, heading right for the wash stand, "but I simply could not stand to wait."
Myka did refrain from any vocal expression of amusement, but when Helena turned to quickly glance back at her, the other woman had sufficiently recovered from the unexpected interruption to her bath and was smirking broadly, laughter dancing just behind her eyes.
"Rough day at the office, dear?" she asked innocently.
Helena chose not to dignify the question with a response. She was covered head to toe in mud, a condition which was most uncomfortable. Helena was just as, if not more, willing than anyone to go through whatever it took to recover an artifact, but really, it was far beneath her dignity to go traipsing after a rogue pig farmer. If only Wooly had bothered to not get himself punched unconscious, then her day would have been much simpler. Not to mention cleaner.
With only a slight touch of self-consciousness, she began to strip out of her most-likely-ruined clothes, using a wet cloth to regain some semblance of cleanliness.
By the time she had wrapped her robe around her body, she was finally beginning to feel like herself again. She sighed happily and turned back to face Myka, smirking when she quickly too quickly to be anything but guilty snapped her gaze in the opposite direction.
Biting her lip, Helena strode forward and allowed her fingers to trail over the surface of the water. She kept her eyes trained on Myka's face, a wall of bubbles shielding any other potential sights from view.
"This water feels lovely. Maybe I could join you, darling?" she teasingly suggested.
Myka blushed even harder and ran a hand through her damp hair. "You know, I'm actually ready to get out. So. Um..."
She trailed off, eyes darting behind Helena, to where a towel was sitting. Helena remained still for several moments, before pulling back with a grin. "Spoilsport," she muttered under her breath, but turned to retrieve the towel. She sighed dramatically as she held it out, making a big show of closing her eyes to allow Myka her privacy. She couldn't quite stop herself from peeking at the last moment, though. Luckily, Myka didn't catch her.
Myka shivered as her warmed body hit the cooler air. Smiling inwardly at the reversal in positions from that first kiss at the lake, now almost three weeks past, Helena rubbed her hands up and down Myka's towel-covered body, before pulling the other woman in for a kiss.
Helena would have happily continued, but all too soon, Myka pulled away. "Well, I'll leave you to it, then." She grinned as she added, "Later you'll have to tell me what happened." And before Helena could protest, she was gone.
That night, after Christina had successfully convinced the two of them to each tell her a story before she went to bed, Helena was pleasantly surprised when Myka invited her to come to her bedroom.
"Just to talk," she hastened to add.
"Of course, darling," Helena replied. "I wouldn't dare to suggest otherwise."
Myka laughed lightly at that. "Yes you would," she accused.
Helena grinned, but neither confirmed nor denied the charge. She followed Myka to her room, glad that the other woman appeared to finally be ready to share whatever had clearly been on her mind recently.
They both stood awkwardly in the middle of the room for a minute as Helena idly waited. Myka was either hesitant to begin, or unsure what to say, however.
"Darling, relax," Helena urged. "Come, lie on the bed with me. Just to talk, yes, I know. Still, no harm in being comfortable, is there?"
Without waiting for an answer, she moved to the bed, sitting with her legs stretched out and her back against the headboard. Myka hesitated a moment longer, but then joined her, curling to lie at Helena's side, with her head in Helena's lap. Helena smiled, immediately raising one hand to begin gently stroking through Myka's hair.
Whether because she had actually relaxed, she was no longer looking at Helena, or something else entirely, Myka finally began to speak. "I want... I need to try something. I have no idea if it'll work. I don't even really know what it would mean if it does work. But there are some things that... I just have to try to change them. And I've been thinking about how, when I first met you in my time, I mean you didn't know me. I don't think you were just pretending not to recognize me, either. Maybe it's just some weird thing about time travel, but... But it worries me. I'm afraid that something is going to go wrong, and you'll forget me."
Myka paused, but Helena remained quiet, sensing that more was coming. One hand was still playing with Myka's curls, but her other rested by her side; Myka reached over to grab it, bringing it to her lips for a quick, hard kiss.
She kept a firm grip on Helena's hand as she continued, "And you already know how... How I didn't... But maybe I can still save you." The last words came out as a whisper. "There's a man," she went on, her voice stronger again. "His name is Walter Sykes. He's a very bad man, and he's going to do a lot of very bad things. If, by some miracle, this actually works... When you meet me, in the future..."
Myka scrambled to sit up straight, turning so that she could look Helena in the eyes. There was a desperation there that nearly took Helena's breath away. "Please, Helena, try to remember this. Remember what I'm telling you, and tell it back to me. Tell everyone. He was always one step ahead of us, but if you told us about him earlier... Maybe we could stop him before it's too late. Do you promise? Do you promise to try to remember this? To remember me?"
Helena swallowed. She didn't fully understand, but she didn't really want to. Maybe it made her a coward, but she didn't think she wanted to know what this "bad man" was going to do. Still, she met Myka's gaze without flinching. "I promise, Myka. I promise."
Claudia stilled outside the door between the Warehouse floor and Artie's office. She'd been about to go through it, when voices on the other side stopped her. It wasn't too easy to hear them, but it was just enough.
"I know. I'm worried about her too," Pete's voice said. "I've been getting... not a bad vibe, but I don't know. A weird one. I don't know what it means."
"Her aura's been changing a lot. It had gotten quite a bit closer to her normal shade when she started working with the group again. Now, though..." Leena paused, and Claudia rolled her eyes at the expression of concern she could easily picture on Leena's face. "There's a darkness around the edges. And it's spreading."
"Oh come on. I don't care what happens, Claud would never go to the dark side," Pete protested. There was the sound of heavy breathing, and then Pete continued in a deep voice, "'Pete. I am your sister.' Nah. Darth Claudia would never happen."
Leena explained, "No, I don't mean 'dark' as in evil. I mean angry. She's full of rage, and if we don't do something about it, it's going to consume her."
Claudia had heard enough. She loudly banged the door open, clearly startling Pete and Leena. "Awkward cough," she intoned dully.
They both had obvious 'oh shit, how much did she hear' faces, but Claudia just ignored them as she went over to her computer.
"Claudia..." Leena began.
Claudia shook her head. She didn't want to hear whatever else the innkeeper might have to say.
And really, there were better things that Pete and Leena should have been paying attention to, instead of fussing over her; like, for example, the flashing alert on Claudia's computer screen.
"Myka's back," she announced, turning to walk right back out of the office. She stopped on the balcony and looked out across the floor. At first she couldn't see anyone, but then Myka appeared from around a corner, and Claudia raised her hand in greeting.
Pete and Leena came out and joined her then. Leena stayed quiet, standing further back, but Pete came up and leaned his forearms against the railing as he bumped his shoulder into hers. "So that's something to be happy about, right?" he asked. "Myka's back, and now maybe we can turn things around again."
"And how are we gonna do that, huh?" Her eyes followed Myka's progress, as the curly-haired agent made her way towards them. "We still have no way of actually keeping her here. With each jump, she's been spending more time there and less time here. So yeah, she's back. Great. She'll be gone again within the week."
There was a weird tension in the air when Myka reached the balcony. Everyone came forward to give her happy hugs, but there was definitely an undercurrent of stress. She couldn't worry about it too much, though. Her mind was too busy worrying about her little experiment in trying to change things.
Had it worked? Other than the possibility of Helena walking calmly through the door a possibility which Myka had tried very hard not to think about she had no idea how she'd even know if it had worked. She had wondered before if maybe her memories would simply change as soon as she transported back. But no; as much as she wished it weren't true, she still remembered everything.
The door swung open, and Myka literally felt her heart stop beating for a moment.
"Where is everyone?" came Artie's gruff voice, and Myka's heart switched on once again, but it suddenly felt heavier.
She had tried so hard not to get her hopes up... Had told herself so many times that the past well, future could not be re-written. But as Artie emerged from the other side of the door and no one else came with him, Myka understood immediately that she'd been fooling herself. She had gotten her hopes up, but somehow she knew in that moment that it was all for nothing.
"Oh. Myka," Artie exclaimed in surprise, adjusting his glasses, as if he weren't sure whether she was really there or not. "Welcome back."
Myka could just barely hold herself together well enough to offer him a weak smile.
Artie continued fondly, "Well I have to say that it's a sight for sore eyes, seeing you all here together again."
And with that one word all here any lingering doubts Myka may have had were crushed. She couldn't help it, then; her eyes filled with tears. Why hadn't it worked? It should have worked. If Helena had just told them to even simply keep their eyes on Sykes when she'd first been de-bronzed, then they could have been the ones constantly one step ahead. They could have stopped Sykes, and there would be no bomb, and Helena would still be alive. Why hadn't it worked?
Misinterpreting her reaction, Pete teased, "Hey, now who's being a mushy sap?" He grinned and poked her in the shoulder.
Grateful for the distraction, Myka managed a real smile back at him as she turned to punch his arm in return. "Artie, that's who," she replied.
The tension in the air eased somewhat, and Artie and Pete both began speaking over each other as they turned to head back into the office.
Claudia was noticeably quiet, but Myka didn't think too much of it, until the redhead reached out and stopped her with a light touch to her elbow. Turning back to face her, Myka frowned in concern at the expression of angst written clearly across Claudia's face.
"What is it, Claud? You okay?" she asked.
"I... I just..." Claudia hesitated, and there was a vulnerability there that Claudia normally kept hidden. "I missed you. I'm really glad you're back."
With that, Claudia lurched forward and practically threw herself at Myka, wrapping her arms tightly around the older agent. Myka immediately hugged her back, and tears once again sprang to her eyes and seriously, she'd never been a big crier before all this time traveling started this time for the exact reason that Pete had suspected earlier.
She was reminded again of how hard this must be for everyone else. She got to jump back and forth between the various important people in her life, but she simultaneously created abandonment issues at both ends. And the more time she spent in the past, the more complicated everything got. She found herself longing equally for her Warehouse family, 21st-century Helena, and 19th-century Helena, all at the same time.
That was the problem with living in two worlds at once; she couldn't fully live in either of them.
Leena smiled to herself, silently watching the three occupants of the living room.
"Hells yes! Take that, suckas!" Claudia crowed triumphantly, doing a victory dance along with her video game character.
Myka pouted. "I can't believe you did that. I was winning the whole time, until you hit me with that stupid shell."
"Sorry, Mykes," Pete shrugged, "but you snooze, you lose." He and Claudia both raised their hands, bringing them together in an exploding fist bump.
"But I wasn't snoozing!" Myka protested. "Mario Kart is the only one of your games that I actually like, but it's not fair when the two of you gang up on me!"
"Awww, is wittle Myka being a sore loser?" Claudia teased, pushing out her bottom lip in an exaggerated pout.
Myka sat up straighter at the accusation, lifting her chin high. "Of course not," she replied. "But I demand a re-match."
"Before you get to that," Leena interrupted, causing the three of them to turn and look at her, "I thought one of you in particular might like to know that the first batch of cookies just made it out of the oven."
"Cookies!" Pete bellowed, abandoning his Wii controller and launching himself over the back of the couch. He flashed a bright smile as he hurried by on his way to the kitchen.
"Don't eat them all!" Claudia called after him. "Bring them in here!"
He returned quickly with a plate of cookies, wiping crumbs off his shirt.
"Leena, you're a goddess," he pronounced, leaning over to give her a loud peck on the cheek. "When I die, I want to go out while eating one of your cookies. I'll die a happy man."
"Come join us," Myka called over her shoulder.
"Yeah, 'cause I'm about to beat Myka's ass again!" Claudia added, earning a light shove from the brunette agent.
Leena smiled, moving to sit in the armchair as Pete returned to his spot on the couch between Claudia and Myka.
It was good to have her family back together again.
Claudia's prediction that Myka would disappear again within a week turned out to be, if anything, an over-estimation. None of them actually saw her leave, but it was only the third day since Myka had returned when Artie contacted Pete over the Farnsworth to let him know that she was gone again.
There had been an emergency ping that they couldn't ignore people were dying in Salt Lake City so he and Claudia were in the field when they found out.
The news put a damper on what was already proving to be a frustrating case.
They were lounging in Pete's hotel room after ordering a pizza, having decided to give things a break for the rest of the night and come at the case fresh in the morning. The television was on, but neither of them paid much attention.
"We'll get her back, you know," he finally spoke, giving voice to the elephant in the room.
Claudia remained silent.
Pete was just starting to doze off when Claudia began speaking. "I figured it out," she said.
"Huh? Figured what out?" he asked distractedly.
There was a long pause before she continued, "How to keep Myka here."
Pete sat up so fast he gave himself a bit of a head rush. "Say what now? Claudia, what are you waiting for? If you figured it out, then let's do it!"
She turned to look at him, but obviously didn't share his excitement.
"She has to do it," Claudia explained.
Except it really wasn't much of an explanation at all. Pete gesticulated vaguely at her, indicating that she should go on.
Claudia sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. "She has to make the photograph change. She has to make it bring her back here," she finally added. "Which means, that as strongly as she wanted to see H.G. again, she now has to want to give all that up and come back to us. And that's just not going to happen."
Pete frowned in thought. "So... next time she's back, then we'll just tell her that," he reasoned. "Right? She wants to come back, so what's the problem? She just has to... I don't know, focus that 'wanting' energy or something."
Claudia scoffed. "Pete, if you had to choose between hanging out with me, Artie, and Leena, and living happily ever after with Kelly, and you could only have one, which would you pick?"
Pete's frown deepened. "But..."
"And don't even try saying you wouldn't pick Kelly," Claudia continued, "because you know you would. I wouldn't even blame you for it."
"But that's totally different!" Pete protested.
Claudia raised a knowing eyebrow. "No, dude, it's really not. H.G. and Myka? They're, like, the stuff that fairy tales are made of. The heroine gets the arch-villain to renounce her evil ways and join the light, finding redemption in true love. I mean, they've both travelled through time in order to be together. Plus, on a less virtuous level, H.G. totally always had the hots for Myka, and now Myka totally has the hots for old-timey H.G. too."
The redhead sighed, running a hand through her hair. Pete just continued to stare at her.
"So tell me, Pete," she concluded. "Do you want to be the one to let Myka know that she has to choose between us and her soul mate?"
Myka stood at the ferry's railing, looking out across the Channel. The sunrise was beautiful, but Myka found that she couldn't fully concentrate on it. They would be arriving at the port of Calais soon, and then traveling on to Paris.
This was it. Time to put her plan into action.
It wasn't all that much of a plan, really. 'Save Christina,' was the basic gist of it. Not letting Helena know that her daughter was in need of saving was the other part.
By the time Myka had arrived back in London, Christina was already on her way to Helena's cousin in Paris.
Still, even though telling Helena about Sykes had apparently done absolutely nothing, Myka refused to give up on trying to change things.
With Christina already gone, it limited the kinds of things Myka could try to do. She had quickly decided against the most direct approach; she didn't really know how Helena would react if Myka told her what was going to happen, but she decided that finding out should be a last resort. If she could figure out a way to save Christina without Helena ever knowing about the tragedy that was going to happen, then that was all the better.
In the end, Myka realized that her best bet was actually quite simple. Christina had died because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, Myka would just have to make sure that Christina wasn't where she was "supposed" to be.
Convincing Helena that the two of them should go on their own little vacation to visit Paris and Christina had been quite easy.
So now here she was. Just waiting for her chance to change the future.
"There you are."
Myka turned to look behind her, as H.G. tiredly made her way to Myka's side.
"I couldn't sleep," Myka explained.
"Hm," the other woman murmured, leaning her head against Myka's shoulder. After making sure they were the only two people on deck, Myka wrapped her arm around Helena's waist and placed a soft kiss on the top of her head.
Myka's mind flitted about, once again going over all the details she could remember, both from what Helena herself had said about Christina's death and what Myka had read in the Wells file. In the back of her mind, she also worried that she'd get pulled back to the present before the day arrived.
She'd prepared for the possibility, of course. Helena had once let slip that whenever Myka disappeared, she found some level of comfort in reading the book in which Myka had most recently been immersed. In the absence of Myka herself, their mutual love of literature would have to do as lingering connection.
So, placed just inside the cover of the book currently lying in their shared room, was a letter addressed to Helena.
In it, as gently as she could, Myka explained the basics of what was going to happen. She had to hope that it would be enough, and that Helena would be able to make sure that Christina was as far away from that robbery as possible.
"Look," Helena said quietly, straightening to stand upright and look out across the water.
Myka turned to simply stare at Helena's profile for a moment, eyes running over the writer's beautiful features, before looking back to follow H.G.'s gaze.
She hadn't even noticed before, as her mind raced about, but there in the distance, land was just coming into view.
Helena turned to her, her face split into a wide smile of excitement. Myka did her best to match the expression, but she couldn't maintain the façade for long. Luckily, Helena appeared too tired to really notice.
Taking in a deep breath, Myka grit her teeth and closed her eyes, flexing the arm still wrapped around Helena's waist.
The date was July 11th, 1899. They had three days to change everything.
Claudia sat on the Warehouse floor, surrounded by vaguely-ordered chaos. There were gears, screws, pieces of wood, glue, pieces of metal, springs, and tools all strewn around her in a semi-circle.
She studied the inner workings of the metronome in her hands. This one had very recently been whole and working, but it was just a regular old metronome. Fully understanding how it worked, though, was the first step in figuring out Johann Maelzel's special device.
No one else knew what she was attempting; she knew it was better that way. Instead, she had slowly put together her own secret 'Claudia-cave' near the Personnel Quarters Archive. Whenever she could, she snuck away down there to work in private. She did find herself wishing that H.G. was still around, though. She would understand, even if no one else would. She would be willing and able to help.
But taking things apart and putting them back together again was one of the things that Claudia was just naturally good at. She'd figure out a way to make the artifact work again. She just had to.
The young inventor had also started thinking again about re-accepting the Caretaker job. But she'd do it her own way this time, and maybe the increased connection to the Warehouse would help her figure out what she needed to do.
Claudia wasn't giving up on Myka, she repeated silently to herself. She just realized that she wasn't ready to give up on Steve, either.
She pulled on a pair of purple gloves and went to work.
"We've only just arrived," Helena laughed, "and you already wish to leave again?"
Myka shrugged stiffly, attempting nonchalance. It was their first night in Paris, and Myka had brought up the possibility of leaving the city as they got ready for bed. The guest room they were sharing only had one bed, which Myka wasn't letting herself feel nervous about for now. There were more important things to deal with first.
"Not leave, really," Myka replied. "Just, I don't know. I thought it might be nice. You, Christina, and I, we could all take a short trip together. Anywhere, really. Just to get away from the city for a little while."
Helena narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
It was clear that Helena knew Myka was uneasy about something, but it seemed like she couldn't decide whether or not to call Myka on it.
"Christina has been feeling a bit under the weather, but yes," Helena agreed after a moment. "A small trip together once she's recovered would be lovely."
Myka grit her teeth. "Why wait?" she asked, sounding more desperate than she'd meant to. She coughed. "We could just go now. Well, not now, but you know. Tomorrow."
Helena didn't reply at first, frowning at Myka. "Why wait?" she repeated flatly. "Because Christina is ill, as I just told you. Is something-"
"Well, some fresh air really might be good for her," Myka interrupted. "Besides, it's no fun being cooped up inside, even when you're sick."
H.G. considered her silently, but Myka couldn't quite tell what she was thinking.
Unable to keep quiet under the scrutiny, Myka continued, "It's just... I know how much the two of you have missed each other. I can only imagine how hard it is, being away from each other for this extended amount of time. I really think that just being with you and doing something special would be great for her right now. Great for both of you, really. And I'm the tag-along, so I get to come too."
Apparently, she'd managed to say the right thing. Helena's expression softened into a loving smile as she turned in the direction of Christina's room.
"We could head towards the coast," Helena suggested. "The railroad goes out to both Nantes and Saint-Nazaire. I've never been to either of them, but I have heard that they're lovely." Helena's gaze turned back towards Myka, and she affectionately ran her palm over Myka's cheek. "You're right, maybe some fresh air and each others' company is something we could all use right now. And you are very much more than simply a tag-along, you know."
Myka smiled, trying not to show quite how relieved she was. This was still no guarantee, but... They were on the right track, at least.
Christina almost always remembered her dreams. She was constantly making up stories in her head during the day, and at night, her imagination kept right going.
This night, however, her mind simply went blank. No dreams, just emptiness.
Her slight cold had by now turned into a fever, and that combined with her excitement over the trip and being on an overnight train for the first time meant that she was sleeping very lightly. Christina's eyes fluttered open, then, as she slowly became aware of someone crouching beside her bed. She wasn't scared, though, even before she fully realized that it was Miss Bering.
She blinked sleepily a number of times and stretched. She looked down at her own hand, wondering why Miss Bering was gripping it so tightly.
"Miss Bering?" she asked with a yawn. "Are we there?"
"No, not yet," Miss Bering replied. She was looking at Christina strangely, a wide smile spreading across her face as she reached with her other hand to carefully stroke through Christina's hair.
"I'm sorry I woke you," she continued. "I just... I just needed to see you."
Christina nodded, even though she didn't really understand. "What time is it?" she asked.
For some reason, Miss Bering's smile grew even brighter at the question, though she also looked as if she might cry. Adults were strange, sometimes.
"A little after midnight," was the response. "Now go back to sleep, little bird. We'll be there before you know it."
Apparently satisfied, Miss Bering squeezed her hand one more time, and then leaned forward to kiss her flushed forehead.
Her eyes were already closing, but she managed to whisper, "'Night, Miss Bering," before drifting off back to sleep.
She slept deeply this time, dreaming that she, her mum, and Miss Bering were on a journey together to save the world.
The plan for a relaxing few days along the coast didn't go quite as intended. Instead, Christina spent their trip sick in bed, and rainy weather kept both Helena and Myka cooped up indoors as well.
Helena had been feeling nearly claustrophobic almost from the start. It was one thing to stay indoors when the decision to do so was voluntary; it was quite another when she had no choice in the matter.
Myka alone seemed unperturbed, but her constantly cheerful demeanor was beginning grate on Helena's nerves.
"What is it that you are quite so happy about?" Helena asked grumpily, pacing back and forth before the window of their suite.
Myka smiled, moving behind Helena and gracefully capturing the writer within her arms. Helena obediently stopped moving, allowing Myka to crane her neck over Helena's shoulder and press her lips to Helena's cheek. "Why shouldn't I be happy?" she countered. "I'm here, in France, with two lovely ladies for company."
Helena could almost hear the smirk in Myka's voice as she continued, her voice now noticeably lower in pitch. "Though I do enjoy your particular company in a very special way," she drawled, trailing her lips down the column of Helena's neck.
In spite of her irritable mood, Helena felt herself relaxing back into Myka's embrace, arching her neck to the side to allow the other woman more room. Myka hummed happily in response.
Helena stiffened, however, when she heard the sound of Christina coughing in the other room. She pulled away from Myka's grasp with a growl of frustration. Myka's good mood had also resulted in her being more... spirited than usual, and while she would normally be quite pleased at this development, their unfortunate current circumstances there was plenty of room, really, but knowing that her sick daughter lay just on the other side of the wall did tend to put a damper on things meant that Helena was about ready to jump out of her own skin.
Myka reached out and squeezed Helena's hand once, and then went to check on Christina.
"She's fine," Myka said when she came back out less than a minute later. "Fast asleep, and I left a note in case she does wake up."
Helena frowned at this.
"Yes. Now come on, we're going outside," Myka pronounced.
Helena's frown only deepened. "Darling, I don't know if you've noticed, but there is currently a great deal of water falling from the sky," she replied impassively.
Myka raised a challenging eyebrow. "So?" she asked. "A little water never hurt anyone. Where's your sense of adventure?"
Helena scoffed. She had a perfectly good sense of adventure, thank you very much, but really, her idea of a good time most certainly did not involve getting drenched in the rain. One sick member of their party was more than enough; Christina didn't need the two of them to catch ill as well.
But Myka was already out the door, running out towards the beach.
Helena sighed, but with a last glance towards Christina's room, she followed Myka outside and gave chase.
Unexpectedly, it was quite revitalizing, this spontaneous run through the rain. It also turned out that Myka actually had a destination in mind as well. Soon, they were catching their breath in a small cave carved into the cliff at the edge of the beach.
Myka brushed Helena's wet hair out of her eyes, a wide grin again spreading across her face and a bright gleam in her eye. This time, Helena allowed herself to join in with Myka's mirth, and with one shared look, both women were suddenly bursting into laughter. It wasn't that there was anything particularly humorous about the situation; they laughed in relief, feeling happy and free as they breathed in the cool fresh air.
"So was it worth braving the elements?" Myka queried, once they'd calmed down. "Would you rather be here right now or still stuck in that stuffy room?"
Helena rolled her eyes, but her soft smile provided answer enough to Myka's question.
"However did you know that this would be here? Or was it pure dumb luck?" Helena teased.
Myka ignored the second question, explaining, "I was talking with the innkeeper yesterday and he told me about it. I knew that you were going to go crazy if you had to stay cooped up in that room any longer. Do you forgive me for dragging you out in spite of the 'great deal of water falling from the sky'?"
Again, Helena didn't respond verbally. Instead, she leaned back against the cave wall and reached for the woman in front of her, pulling Myka towards her by the edges of her waistcoat.
Myka moved forward willingly, pressing her body flush against Helena's as their mouths effortlessly fused together.
The walls of the cave fell away; so too did the weather outside and the slight chill that Helena felt from her now damp clothing. There was nothing but the two of them cool hands warming as they swept across heated skin, lips becoming swollen from coming together again and again, nails lightly dragging through damp hair.
Helena was certainly no blushing innocent, but there was a spark of electricity between them, which felt invigoratingly new.
One of them moaned (Helena thought it was Myka, but she couldn't be sure), and the sound drove Helena to push tighter against Myka's body. She groaned in frustration, though, as her wandering hands kept meeting resistance in the form of Myka's clothing. She could reach under Myka's hem to the smooth skin of Myka's waist and lower back, but that was all, before the tightness in the fabric impeded any further progress.
Myka pulled back minutely, studying Helena's face as she chewed absently on her bottom lip. Helena met the gaze head-on, not shying away from the intense look in the brunette's eyes.
"Celebrate with me," Myka whispered.
Helena quirked an eyebrow in confusion, but lost track of her question as Myka's fingers rose to begin undoing the buttons of her vest.
Her mouth suddenly dry, Helena cleared her throat before she managed to ask, "What are we celebrating?"
Myka leaned in again, kissing her as though she were filled with a hunger that only Helena could sate. Their lips were a few scant centimeters apart when Myka finally responded, exhaling one word over Helena's skin: "Life."
Myka's good mood lasted until they were almost back to Paris. Then, a slight anxiousness settled in. She wasn't quite sure what to expect back at the apartment. Just because Christina wasn't there, that certainly didn't mean that the robbers hadn't still come.
Indeed, they arrived back to find everything still in disarray. The police were trying to track down the thieves, but there wasn't much to go on. Since Christina hadn't been sick in bed at the time, Sophie the housekeeper wasn't inside looking after her. So there were no witnesses no unexplained blanks in memory, no robbers coming across a housekeeper who knows kempo. Instead, there was simply a lot of stolen property.
Myka felt a twinge of guilt, but all she had to do was look and see Christina, alive, and nothing else mattered.
She couldn't quite meet Helena's eyes, though.
"It's really quite a miracle that you decided to leave when you did," Helena's cousin, Rose, exclaimed. "I shudder to think of poor Christina and Sophie being inside when those brutes came here."
"A miracle, yes," Helena replied softly. She was clutching Christina to her side, her arm wrapped tightly around the girl's shoulders.
Helena was sometimes too clever for her own good, and Myka could feel Helena's eyes boring into her. The cogs were obviously turning in the artificer's head. It had been Myka who first suggested and then insisted so forcefully that they leave. Myka, who came from the future. Myka, who knew things that no one else did.
She could only hope that Helena would let it drop. It wouldn't do anyone any good to talk about what might have been; what once had been.
Unable to keep from squirming, Myka finally peered over at Helena out of the corner of her eye. The other woman's expression was an intense mix of confusion, suspicion, and protectiveness. Myka clenched her jaw, but said nothing.
Then, as Myka watched, Helena seemed to come to some sort of decision. Myka could easily see the wave of denial that ran through her. Helena's facial features softened, she relaxed her stiff posture, and she leaned down to kiss the top of Christina's head.
Their eyes met for just a moment. Helena blinked, and then looked away.
I don't want to know, her eyes said. Whatever this means, I don't want to know.
The door to the office slammed open, startling Pete so badly that he lost his balance, tumbling over backwards in the chair that he'd been balancing on its back legs.
"Dude!" Claudia cried out, sounding alarmed for all of one second, before she burst into laughter.
Myka stood in the doorway.
"I'm so sorry Pete, are you okay?" she asked, hurrying over to his side.
"Oww," Pete groaned. "Way to make an entrance, Mykes." He'd had the wind knocked out of him, but was really none the worse for wear.
"I'm so sorry," she mumbled once again, making a tight, apologetic face.
He winked, showing her that he was fine.
Claudia moved closer as well, and though she hadn't quite managed to stop laughing yet, both women reached down to help pull him back onto his feet.
Once he was back standing, he took advantage of the now-rare opportunity of having them both within arms' reach and pulled them in for a bear hug.
"Good to have both my women back beside me!" he pronounced happily.
"Your women?" Claudia repeated, scoffing lightly, at the same time that Myka pulled back and slugged him in the arm. So much for her being worried that he might be hurt. "Have you been hanging out in the Paleolithic Aisle?" Claudia continued.
Pete turned to quickly face the redhead. "We have a Paleolithic Aisle? Are there dinosaurs?" he asked, feeling his inner-five-year-old-boy spring to the forefront.
Claudia ignored him, turning to Myka with a raised eyebrow. "His women." She rolled her eyes, earning an affectionate smile back from Myka.
Then, as if they were communicating on their own telepathic wavelength, both Myka and Claudia simultaneously rushed at him. He instinctively jumped backwards, but there was a split second when he had no idea what was going on, before they reached out and started tickling him.
They were pure evil. Both of them.
Pete was a tough guy. A United States Secret Service Agent. A man's man.
He let out a girlish little squeal. They already knew exactly where his weak spots were, and they were going straight for the kill.
"Mercy!" he cried out, trying to squirm away from them. "Mercy! I'm not a Neanderthal, I swear! Yay for feminism!"
Myka stopped almost immediately, distracting Claudia just long enough for Pete to escape and run around to the opposite side of the table in the middle of the room.
"Come on, Myka," Claudia protested, "you let him off way too easily."
"Sorry," Myka replied, not sounding sorry at all. She had a goofy smile on her face. "I just... Pete reminded me that I have to go check something."
Without any other word of explanation, Myka turned around and started up the spiral staircase, heading in the direction of the archive room.
Claudia turned to him with a look of confusion, but he could only shrug in return.
Suddenly, though, he was hit with a vibe a bad one.
He frowned, worried, and rushed to chase after Myka, with Claudia following right behind him.
Myka was sitting at the table in the room, some kind of file spread out in front of her. She was facing towards them but she just flipped rapidly through pages until she found whatever she was looking for.
The goofy smile had remained while she looked, but as soon as Myka landed on the current page, her face fell. Pete's vibe intensified, rising from the pit of his stomach.
"No," Myka muttered, almost to herself. She looked up at them, an expression of confusion and pain written across her face. "No," she repeated, louder this time, even as color slowly drained from her face. "No, that's wrong! I changed it, how... This can't be right."
Frowning, Pete moved forward to try to see what it was that Myka found so upsetting. It took him a few seconds, but he soon realized that she was looking at the H.G. Wells file. That still didn't help him figure out what was going on.
"Myka, what-" he began.
"This!" she cried, jamming her finger down on a particular spot on the page in front of her. "This is wrong!"
He twisted his head until he could read the line. 'Dependents: Christina Wells, daughter; deceased (1891 1899).'
Pete's brow furrowed. He had no idea what the problem was. He looked over to Claudia to see if things seemed any clearer to her, but she just shook her head at him.
Myka kept staring at that one line of text. "How did it happen?" she asked, voice barely above a whisper.
"How did what happen?" he responded with his own question. He was starting to get frustrated. "Myka, you're not making any sense, what are you talking about?"
Her head whipped upwards again, and he involuntarily took a step back as her intense gaze burned through him. "This didn't happen; I stopped it from happening!" she yelled brokenly. "Either I'm wrong, or this stupid file is. So tell me! How did she die?! When did she die?!"
Pete tried to think, but his mind was drawing a blank. He knew that H.G.'s daughter had died, but he wasn't sure whether he'd ever learned any of the details.
Thankfully, Claudia spoke up. "She witnessed a murder," she said in a hushed voice, eyeing Myka sadly. "They were two hit men, hired to take out some business competitor of their client. They did it in a back alley, staging it to look like a robbery gone wrong..."
Myka slowly hunched over in her chair, her pale face growing even paler as Claudia spoke. "Keep going. Tell me everything," she ordered, not meeting anyone's eye, when Claudia hesitated.
Claudia looked pained, but did as requested. "The alley they chose was off of some small street that was normally empty at that time of day. But Christina was out doing some errand, and it was on her way home. There was another child with her, a friend. The hit men felt like they couldn't leave any witnesses, even though they were only two young girls. But Christina was able to fight back and keep the men busy trying to deal with her long enough for her friend to escape. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Myka flinched. She shook her head, as if she could simply deny reality away. "That's not right. That's not how it happened," she whispered. "There were robbers at Helena's cousins' house. Christina was in that wrong place at that wrong time. But then she wasn't, because I changed it."
Myka was starting to sound like a broken record.
Claudia tilted her head to the side, a strange expression crossing her face. "In Paris," she murmured.
Myka's head jerked up to look at Claudia. "You remember!" she exclaimed.
"Dude, that's so trippy." Claudia blinked. "It doesn't make any sense, but... yeah. How is this possible? I have two distinct memories of H.G. telling me what happened. They're both from the same time, but... she's telling me something different in each memory. I thought that what I just told you was right, but I totally remember the other one too. Weird."
"Two memories, and she dies in both of them," Myka murmured dejectedly. "When did it happen? The murder, I mean."
Claudia screwed up her face, apparently trying to tease the two memories apart. "Um... I'm not sure. Early August, maybe?"
Myka released a sound that Pete could only describe as like a wounded animal.
"I was there until the very end of July," she said. "Are you kidding me? I save her life, just so she can die a few weeks later?"
Abruptly, Myka stood up from the table, making her chair tilt over and clatter behind her. Her face an unreadable mask, she strode out of the room.
Claudia shot Pete a pained look and then turned to follow Myka out the door. Pete just stood there. He'd only been able to stand there and listen as the two women talked, and now he still felt like there was nothing he could do.
He was so damn tired of everything going wrong; so damn tired of just being able to stand and listen; of being so helpless; so useless.
He knew beyond a doubt that he wouldn't actually do it, but this was one of those times when Pete felt like he could use a drink.
Instead, he whirled around in a tight half-circle going from complete stillness to full speed in the blink of an eye gathering momentum as he let out a cry of frustration and rammed his fist into the wall. Skin met brick with a satisfying burst of pain. He could feel just fine, though; that wasn't the problem. The problem was that there was nothing he could do.
"Myka? Myka, wait up!"
Claudia called out to her, but Myka had no desire to sit and chat at the moment. She immediately headed down to the Warehouse floor, thinking of losing herself in the aisles. Moving at a fast pace, Myka didn't slow down or even turn to acknowledge the other agent, even as Claudia jogged to catch up, clipping right at her heels.
"Not now, Claud, okay?" she finally said. "I don't know where I'm going yet, but I know that I don't want to talk about this right now. I just need to not think."
Claudia didn't say anything, but she didn't stop following, either.
Of course, not thinking was just about the last thing that Myka would be able to accomplish right now. She had always had trouble turning her mind off, especially at the moments when she most wanted to do so.
Inspiration though it was possible that 'desperation' would be a more accurate description struck once they'd been walking in silence together for about five minutes.
Myka didn't know why she hadn't thought about it before, but it occurred to her that Helena's home, a place where she'd now spent a majority of the past six months, was also here, in the Warehouse. Well, not exactly. But maybe if Myka went to the copy of Helena's room in the Personnel Quarters Archive... Maybe being there, in that familiar room, would somehow trigger the artifact into pulling her back there again. She'd barely been gone for any time at all, so maybe there was still a chance for Myka to save Christina a second time. Maybe-
"Um, where are we going?" Claudia's question interrupted Myka's train of thought. She had almost forgotten that the junior agent was even there, and her pace faltered just slightly at the unexpected intrusion into her thoughts. She glanced over her shoulder in concern at the note of quiet panic in Claudia's voice.
"The Personnel Quarters Archive," she replied, speeding back up to her earlier pace. "Why?"
"Oh, okay." The relief in Claudia's voice was palpable. "And, uh, no reason. I was just asking."
Myka came to an abrupt stop, lurching forward and just barely managing to catch her balance when Claudia crashed into her from behind.
Once they were both steady on their feet, Myka turned to face Claudia and accused, "You're relieved that that's where we're going. Why?"
Claudia awkwardly shrugged and scoffed, twisting her face into an exaggerated picture of denial. "I don't know what you're talking about," she protested.
In spite of the situation, Myka found herself smiling affectionately, adding, "And you have no poker face."
"So," Myka concluded as she started walking once again, "that means that there's somewhere near the Personnel Quarters where you don't want me to go. And that means that I now have to figure out where it is and why you don't want me to go there."
"Mykaaaa," Claudia whined.
But there was a reason why Myka was so good at her job. She took hold of Claudia's upper arm and made the redhead walk right beside her, using the subtle little tics in body language to tell which direction to go.
When they finally came to a small alcove nicely hidden from view, the kind of place you wouldn't notice unless you were specifically looking for it, she knew she'd found the right place, from Claudia's defeated sigh and sagging shoulders.
Still, it took a moment for Myka to figure out why Claudia was trying to keep the place hidden at all. There was a work bench in the middle of the room, with lots of tools and gadgets and papers strewn about. Clearly Claudia was working on some kind of invention or other, but there was nothing wrong with that.
Then she saw the half-broken metronome, and it all clicked into place.
"Oh, Claudia," she sighed sadly.
Claudia merely scuffed her shoe against the floor, refusing to meet Myka's eyes.
Myka stepped further into the alcove, running her fingers over the bits and pieces of metal and wire covering the surface of the table. She sighed again, but before she could say anything, Claudia spoke up.
"You don't get to lecture me about this, and you don't get to stop me." Claudia still wouldn't meet Myka's eyes, but she clenched her jaw in defiance. "Even if you didn't do it on purpose, you get to go back and see H.G. over and over again. And how do you get to do that? By using an artifact, that's how. You get to go back there, and see her, and change things. You saved Christina. By using an artifact."
"But it didn't work, Claud," Myka murmured softly, feeling a stab of pain as she admitted the fact out loud.
"You still got to try," Claudia cried out, finally looking up into Myka's gaze.
Seeing the depth of pain and anger in Claudia's eyes, Myka could only blink, unsure how to react.
"If there was something that you could do to bring H.G. back," Claudia continued, "wouldn't you do it? No matter what it was? I'm not giving up on him, and you can't stop me."
Claudia was right. It would be hypocritical of Myka to try to claim any moral high ground here. So instead, she simply stepped around the work bench and pulled Claudia into a tight hug. It clearly wasn't what Claudia had been expecting; she was completely stiff at first, before melting into the embrace and reaching up to bunch Myka's shirt in her fists.
"I won't help you," Myka whispered into Claudia's hair. "I wouldn't even know how to. But I won't stop you, and I won't tell anyone else about this."
Nodding against Myka's shoulder, Claudia simply held on tighter.
Myka squeezed back with equal strength, turning her head to the side to gently press a kiss to Claudia's temple.
The first thing that Myka did when she was back in London once again was find out the date. She had been back in the 21st century for less than twenty-four hours, but she'd been doing enough time jumping to know that at least several days would have passed in her absence. She hurried over to the boy who stood on the corner selling newspapers, shoving a coin in one of his hands and snatching the rolled up newspaper he held in the other.
With Claudia's help, she'd been able to figure out the date when Christina was killed. Now she could only hope that she wasn't too late.
The newspaper read August 4th, 1899.
Myka felt her shoulders drop and her face pale. Christina had died two days ago.
There was a part of Myka, a cowardly part, that immediately wanted to head off in the opposite direction as the Wells home. She wasn't sure if she could face Helena right now.
Ignoring the impulse, she rushed down the now-familiar route. She had her own key, which she'd so far managed to keep with her through all the time traveling, and so silently let herself into the house.
It was quieter than she'd ever heard it. Her only welcome was Darwin, the dog, who lay at the foot of the stairs. Even he seemed melancholy, though, looking out at her through sad eyes and managing only a single half-hearted wag of his tail.
She reached down to pat his head, and then walked hesitantly in the direction of the dining room, where she'd heard a vague murmur of voices.
Charles paced back and forth across the room. Wolcott stood facing him, his back towards Myka, staring intently down at the floor.
Charles froze, the instant his eyes fell on Myka. He looked awful clothes in disarray, red-rimmed eyes, a few days' worth of stubble across his face. Myka felt bad for thinking so, but it was the first time she'd seen him show anything resembling genuine emotion.
His eyes narrowed in anger. "Where the hell have you been?" he demanded.
Wolcott started in surprise, turning around to see what had raised Charles' ire. He met her gaze impassively, before returning to his earnest study of the carpet.
"I..." Myka began, with no idea what to say. "I'm so sorry. How is she?"
This, apparently, was the wrong thing to say.
"How is she?" Charles sputtered. "How on Earth do you think she is? She's a bloody wreck! She really could have used a friend these past few days, but no, of all the days, you bloody had to choose now to bugger off!"
"Charles," Wolcott muttered softly, placing his hand on the other man's shoulder. Charles shook him off, once again starting to pace across the room in agitation.
"I'm so sorry," Myka could only repeat helplessly. Charles had always been unfailingly polite, so it was a sign of how bad things were to have him swearing at her now, which he would normally never do, no matter the circumstance. Not that she needed any reminder of how bad things were. "Where is she?" Myka quietly asked.
"She doesn't want to see anyone," Charles practically spat out.
Myka turned her attention to Wolcott, remembering that he knew the truth about who she was. "Please, Wolcott. You know why I wasn't here. You know I would have done anything to be here for her, if I had any control over it. Please. I need to see her," she pleaded.
"What the ruddy hell is she talking about?" Charles asked.
Wolcott sighed uncomfortably and ran a hand through his hair. Turning to face Charles, he simply said, "You should let her go to your sister."
Charles didn't reply, but he also didn't stop Wolcott as he continued, "She's upstairs in her bedroom. She may not be awake; we've had to sedate her, and though the doctor has said that she is physically fine, she's been near-catatonic for the last twenty-four hours."
"Thank you," Myka said to both of them, hurrying from the room as soon as Wolcott finished talking.
She took the stairs two at a time, but hesitated once she stood outside Helena's door. What if Helena really didn't want to see her? What if Myka was only going to make things worse? What could she possibly say to make anything better?
With a deep breath, Myka finally raised her fist and softly knocked on the door.
There was no response. Myka could only stand to wait a few moments before she let herself in anyway.
Helena was awake, at least. She sat stiffly in a chair by the window, looking straight ahead into nothingness. There was no sign that she was even aware of Myka's entrance.
More nervous than she'd been in a long time, Myka slowly moved over to Helena's side, crouching down beside her. Helena flinched slightly when Myka placed a hand on her knee, but made no other outward reaction.
"Helena, I..." Myka began. That's all she managed to say, however. Platitudes were of little use to anyone, let alone H.G. Wells. Let alone, when it came to the death of a child.
"Did you know?"
Myka frowned. Everything about this, from Helena's lifeless eyes to her monotone voice, felt entirely wrong. "What do you mean?" she asked gently.
Helena continued looking straight ahead as she explained, her voice barely above a whisper, "You come from the future, Myka. Did you know?"
"I..." How could she respond to that? "It wasn't supposed to happen like this."
"No?" Helena's listless voice sent a chill down Myka's spine. "What was supposed to happen, then?"
Myka had no response for that. Her heart pounded in her chest, full of grief and devastation and regret and a desire to just wrap Helena up in her arms and make everything else go away.
"Everything inside me says that my daughter should be here right now, but she is not," Helena went on, after an interminable silence. "So tell me, Agent Bering, how is it that you come into my home, from the future, with all the foresight that necessarily comes with such an arrival... You insert yourself into my life and into my family, and yet when my daughter and I need you most, you are nowhere to be found?"
Myka swallowed down a bitter pill of self-loathing and guilt. "I tried-" she whispered.
Helena choked out a strangled laugh. It was the most animation Helena had shown since Myka had walked through the door, but she still continued to simply stare sightlessly ahead. "Well, what a relief. You tried," she mocked.
Once again, the room was enveloped in an unbearably heavy silence.
And once again, it was Helena who broke it. "Why are you here?" she asked.
"I came as soon as I could," Myka replied, tightening her grip on Helena's knee. "Helena, you have to know that I-"
"No," the other woman interrupted. Her voice remained low and emotionless, but it cut straight through anything Myka was going to say. "What good is having someone who knows the future if she can't do anything to stop it?"
Pausing once again, Helena slid her gaze over to stare coldly at Myka out of the corner of her eyes. "Why," she repeated, "are you here?"
On the last word, her lips curled into a snarl of anger and disgust. Myka felt like she'd been slapped. She understood, now, that Helena was talking much bigger than this latest jump back in time. Rocking back on her heels, Myka staggered to her feet and moved backwards a few steps.
Unbidden, tears came to Myka's eyes, even as Helena's expression dropped back into blank numbness and her gaze returned forward.
"I... I don't know," Myka muttered. She blinked once, and that was all it took for the tears to fall. They fell silently, for Christina, for Helena, and for her own weak lapse into self-pity.
She felt Helena's words burn deep into her chest. Helena was right, of course Myka was totally useless, her presence bringing nothing but additional pain but that didn't stop the words from hurting.
In another fit of weakness, Myka stepped forward once again, reaching down to awkwardly wrap her arms around Helena's stiff form and press a desperate kiss to top of her head. The writer remained perfectly still, as if Myka weren't there at all.
"Go away," she said simply. Just two small words, but Myka felt them like cold icicles piercing her skin.
"I'm so sorry," Myka choked out helplessly, retreating back towards the door. "I'm really so sorry."
Part of Myka felt like she should stay anyway and offer whatever comfort she could, no matter how unwanted; the rest of her couldn't stand the suffocating air. She stumbled backwards until the doorknob scraped against her back. Then she turned quickly, fleeing back out into the hallway.
She fell heavily against the wall, sliding down until she was sitting on the floor. Myka breathed shallowly, willing herself not to cry. Tears wouldn't bring Christina back. They wouldn't do anyone any good. Just once, Myka slammed her head back against the wall, wincing at the burst of pain it caused. Then she pulled her knees up against her chest, wrapped her arms around herself, and waited.
Helena knew that it was Chaturanga who had entered her room even before he spoke. The scent of tea, leather, and grease from whatever contraption he'd been working on last was uniquely him.
"You have been unkind to Agent Bering."
Helena flinched minutely, but did not turn or acknowledge him, even as he placed a teapot on her nightstand and dragged it over beside her chair.
She looked at it distastefully. Tea could solve many of the world's ills, but not this one. Tea would not fill the hole in her heart.
"Drink up," Chaturanga insisted once he'd poured her a cup, ignoring her obvious disinclination to do so. Without actually looking at her, he placed the cup right in her lap and then sat back in another chair he'd pulled over.
As if acting on instinct, Helena absently sipped at the tea she'd been given, frowning when she realized that she hadn't meant to drink it at all. Chaturanga smiled in satisfaction.
"Did you know," he continued conversationally, "that she has been sitting in the hallway outside your door ever since you sent her away yesterday? Now whenever Charles or Wolcott brings food up here for you, they bring some for her as well. She, at least, is gracious enough to eat it, unlike you."
Helena frowned, but did not reply.
It was a long while before either of them spoke again; they sat in silence, drinking tea, as they had so many times before. In spite of herself, Helena found that as each minute passed, the air became just a little bit easier to breathe.
"This isn't her fault, you know." Chaturanga spoke softly, but Helena felt his words like a punch in the gut.
"She should have done something," Helena spat out, her entire body tensing. "She had to have known, so she should have been here, and she should have done something!"
Chaturanga said nothing at first. At the exact moment when her muscles started to unclench, however, he replied, his voice soft and soothing, "Are you so sure that she didn't?"
With shaking hands, Helena placed her tea back on the nightstand. Images of Myka flew unsolicited through her mind Myka's seemingly casual suggestion that they go to Paris, her urgency when they first arrived, how her anxiety had switched to giddiness literally overnight, the way that she wouldn't meet Helena's eyes once they'd returned and learned of the robbery.
She closed her eyes. The images had been replaying through her mind at odd intervals over the last few days. On some level, she knew what they meant, but she held on desperately to her anger. Anger was easier than pain.
Helena heard Chaturanga get up, heard the door quietly open and close, but she was still startled when Myka's voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Did you... Chaturanga said I should come in," she murmured quietly.
Helena turned to look at her, but for several minutes, she could say nothing. They simply stared at one another, Helena sitting mutely in the chair she'd barely left for days, Myka standing uncomfortably by the door.
Helena closed her eyes once again, this time with resignation. It was time to learn the truth, one way or another.
"Myka..." she finally began, "please tell me. What was 'supposed' to happen?"
Myka didn't speak right away. Helena turned in her direction, but stared at Myka's shoes, rather than her face.
"Something happened in Paris?" she guessed, lifting her eyes slightly when the silence had gone on a tad too long.
Helena knew instantly that the guess was an accurate one; Myka visually deflated, shoulders sagging and eyes turning even sadder than they already were.
"Yes," she whispered.
Myka's words of explanation flowed past Helena's ears, and she tried to forget them just as soon as she'd heard them. Having one death in her head was already too much; having two would be torture.
It was over quickly, Myka said. Painless. It could very well have been a lie, but if so, Helena was grateful for the deception.
"I'm so sorry," Myka concluded. "I thought that was it. I thought I'd saved her. I swear to you, Helena, I had no idea this was going to happen."
With that, Myka rushed to her side, sitting at the edge of the chair Chaturanga had left and reaching out to clasp Helena's cold hands in both of her own.
Other than Myka's awkward attempt at an embrace the previous day, it was the first time anyone had dared to actually touch her since they'd sedated her.
Helena felt the warmth of contact soak in through her skin
They sat in silence for a while. Myka didn't push; she simply caressed the back of Helena's hand with her thumb. Helena simply let her.
It was quiet in the Warehouse. Just the occasional sound of a turning page filled the air. Pete and Artie were on a mission somewhere in Ohio, and since it was actually kind of creepy to hang out in the Warehouse all by yourself, Claudia had semi-awkwardly asked Leena to join her.
Yesterday she'd worked on the metronome; tomorrow was her day to go have more fun times with the Regents (she'd bargained them down to two days per week of renewed Caretaker training, instead of six); but today there was nothing in particular to do.
It had been Leena's idea to read through some more of Chaturanga's notes. Claudia hadn't even realized that Leena knew about the notes, but apparently Leena remembered Claudia's rambles even better than she herself did.
"I found one for you," Leena broke the silence.
Claudia looked up in confusion. "For me?" she asked.
Leena just smiled and pushed a sheet across the table to her. She then got up and walked around so that she could read over Claudia's shoulder.
It is somewhat odd, being told that someone is reading these notes of mine. I began taking them merely for the sake of documentation. I must admit that they have become almost therapeutic for me, however. So to learn that, at some unthinkably distant point, someone else's eyes will peruse these very words... Well, I have not felt the sting of self-consciousness in many a year, but such is the nature of things.
In any case Claudia Donovan, I write to say hello to you. I do hope that you have found some use, or at the very least some minor interest, in my humble words.
Claudia laughed out loud. "Dude. Someone from 1899 is talking to me." She twisted around in her chair to share a smile with Leena. "How awesome is that!"
She turned back around and kept reading.
I also hope that life in your own time progresses in a happier manner than it currently does in mine. MB has told me that you know of the tragedy which has recently befallen my dear friend HW, so you will understand when I say that there is nothing much to report today other than grief.
Yet I do not write to you to dwell on sad times. Rather, I come with a message.
So without further ado...
Claudia was confused for a second, until she turned the page over. Then she smiled warmly, as she was greeted with a change in handwriting.
Talk about snail mail. I'm writing this today, but you won't read it for another 100+ years.
Anyway, hi Claud. (This is Myka, by the way, but I'm guessing that you've already figured that out by now.)
Things are pretty rough here, as you can imagine, and lately I've been thinking a lot about you and the others back at home, so I just wanted to write and say hi in the only way I can.
Helena's been distracting herself by working on a new invention. She won't talk to me about it, but I'm sure that it's her time machine.
She keeps asking me about the future, and I really don't know what to tell her. I don't fully understand how well the past I remember matches the present I'm now in; the specifics of Christina's death changed, but the fact of it remains the same. So what else might or might not be different?
Anyway, I don't know why I'm talking to you about this. That wasn't really what I meant to do. Sorry for turning you into my "Dear Diary."
So, if you could just extend my "hello" to everyone, I'd appreciate it. :)
I miss you all.
Claudia frowned. In spite of the smiley face, there was something... off about the tone of Myka's message.
"She sounds sad," Leena commented.
"Yeah," Claudia agreed. "I wish there was a way for us to write back."
Still, she couldn't help but think that maybe there was a silver lining to all this. She obviously felt horrible for what H.G. and Myka were going through, but... Well, maybe it would be the push Myka needed to make her wish her way back home.
Myka stood in the doorway, silently watching Helena, but the raven-haired inventor took no notice of her. She leaned over her desk, ink-stained fingertips running lightly over blueprints of something Myka couldn't make out, and with a few strands of hair coming loose from her messy bun and falling gently across her face. Myka itched to reach out and push the stray locks behind Helena's ear, but she stayed put.
They were in Warehouse 12, in a room that Helena had long-ago appropriated for her own use.
Myka had been standing there for at least five minutes, and in that time, Helena hadn't stopped moving for even a moment.
In spite of the circumstances, Myka couldn't help but find the other woman extremely attractive. It was something about seeing Helena seeing H.G. Wells in the middle of doing something brilliant.
"I know what you're building," Myka finally said.
Helena didn't even look up as she replied, "Good. That means I'm successful in building it."
Myka sighed, reaching to rub the back of her neck. She turned to walk away but then stopped, changing her mind and returning once again.
"Whose body are you going to take over?" she asked this time.
That one caught Helena's attention.
Myka still hadn't decided whether she should just let Helena continue on her own, try to help in some way, or... Or what? She didn't even really know what her different options were. But she was undeniably curious, and she figured that there couldn't be much harm in asking a few questions.
Helena stilled completely for a beat, then looked up and met Myka's eyes. For the first time in weeks, she smiled.
"So that is how it works, then?" she asked excitedly. "It seemed to be the logical conclusion, but I couldn't be sure." Helena tore her gaze away from Myka's, turning her head to stare at the wall. "The police report says that the getaway driver had a change of heart, part-way through. They found him in the alley. They don't know why he was left alive; perhaps the hit men thought he was dead. He'd completely blacked out, couldn't remember a thing; but the other child, the one who got away, reported that she saw the man actually fight against his co-conspirators. He utilized a very specific style of fighting, as well. Kempo. This Mr. Jones insists that he's never even heard of it. But I have. I know it quite well."
Helena looked back at Myka as if she were expecting confirmation.
Myka shrugged. "This isn't my past anymore," she explained. "I don't really know what's going to happen."
Helena didn't have an immediate response to that. She stared back down at the blueprints in front of her.
"I've been thinking," she eventually said, her voice softer now. "You change the past by your very existence. Every moment you're here, it's a moment that is different than it once was."
"So why didn't it stick?" Helena went on after a moment, running both hands through her hair. "Why couldn't you save my Christina, not in the long term?"
Myka opened her mouth to speak, but Helena quickly added, "And don't tell me that the world is set in stone, so that everything that was always will be, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. That simply cannot be true. I won't accept it."
Myka bit down on her bottom lip. "I have a theory," she said with a sigh, "but you probably won't like it."
Helena was silent for a moment. "Tell me," she replied.
"There's..." Myka struggled to find the right words. "There's something that you're going to do, in the future. Not the time machine, it's something after that. That something is how you end up in my time; it's the reason why I meet you. It's also, in a way, a direct result of Christina's death."
Helena flinched, but Myka went on. "If I had saved her, really saved her, then you wouldn't feel a need to do this thing that you're going to do, and then I'd never meet you. And if I never met you, then I wouldn't have used the artifact to ever come back here, and then I would never have been here to save Christina in the first place."
"So it's a paradox," Helena intoned.
"Yes," Myka replied unnecessarily. "I'm sorry, Helena." She stepped forward, then, coming close enough to reach out and take Helena's hand.
"Well, that's fine," Helena exclaimed, with such a hopeful smile on her face that it made Myka frown. "All right, you cannot save her, but I surely can. I will save her! You'll see, Myka. There's nothing you can say that will stop me."
With that, the conversation was clearly over, and Helena went back to poring over her notes and sketches.
Myka sighed. She'd been thinking about this a lot. She kept dreaming about Helena, trapped in bronze. It was awful, really, knowing that it would happen, and knowing even more deeply that she had to let it happen.
Myka stepped back and watched Helena work for a few more minutes, then went to Helena's side, placed a hand against her lower back, and leaned in to softly kiss her on the cheek. Helena smiled absently in response, but really barely even noticed.
This was not going to end well. Myka knew it.
Artie was in the middle of talking about their next assignment when Pete happened to look up and notice something flashing on Claudia's computer.
"Time out!" he interrupted. "Mykalert!"
Claudia, Artie, and Leena all turned to look at Claudia's computer, but Pete was already up and out of his chair, and heading towards the office door.
"Uh, hold on," Claudia said. Pete froze, purposely setting a pose with one foot in the air and his arms spread out as if he'd been swinging them by his sides. He turned back in disappointment, though, when Claudia added, "It's not Myka."
Artie pushed his glasses higher up on his nose as he leaned over Claudia's shoulder. "What is it, then?"
Claudia frowned. "I'm not sure. I set this up to detect when anything appeared within the Warehouse. But all the artifacts are back by now, right?" Artie nodded. "And if it is Myka, well, she's shown up in a totally different location than every single other time she's shown up, so..."
Pete pulled out his Tesla and held it by his side, a weird feeling growing within him. "Where is it?" he asked.
Claudia typed out some incomprehensible series of letters and numbers, stiffening as she read the results of whatever she'd done. "Right where the bomb went off," she whispered.
Pete didn't think; he just ran out the door, down the steps, and out across the Warehouse floor. He often forgot exactly how to get to various spots within the Warehouse, but this time he knew exactly where he was going.
Even though it was impossible, his first thought was that Sykes was somehow back. If that were true, Pete realized that he'd have to control his impulse to just kill him on the spot.
"Pete, slow down!" Claudia's hushed whisper came from somewhere behind him.
He was itching to just fly in there, guns blazing, but Claudia was right. It wouldn't do them any good for him to just go barreling in all by himself. With a deep breath, he slowed to a stop, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he waited for Claudia to catch up.
Then together, they quietly, purposefully, approached ground zero. Once they arrived at the final corner, he paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and shared a look with Claudia.
There were no sounds coming from around the corner; no hint of who or what might be waiting for them.
"On three," he mouthed silently. Claudia nodded, her hands tightening around her Tesla. "One... Two..."
On the third beat, he just nodded sharply, and the two of them whipped around the corner, Pete in the lead, their Teslas held out firmly in front of them.
The sight that greeted them wasn't at all what Pete had been expecting.
"Myka...?"Claudia called out cautiously.
A little ways in front of them, there was a dark-haired woman lying in an awkward position on the ground, face-down. It might be Myka, but it was hard to tell...
Slowly, they approached, Teslas still in hand, although they didn't seem quite as necessary anymore.
The woman groaned, then, and it was a sound so full of pain that it briefly stopped Pete in his tracks. Claudia stilled as well, before holstering her Tesla and rushing forward to try to help.
With seemingly a great amount of effort, the woman managed to raise her head and look at them just as Claudia was starting to crouch down beside her.
Claudia literally fell backwards in shock.
Because the woman who stared at them through pain-filled bloodshot eyes wasn't Myka.
It was H.G. Wells.
Just as Pete was rushing out of Artie's office with Claudia right behind him and the others trailing along as well Myka made her own return back to the Warehouse. Claudia's computer flashed a new message, but there was no one there to see it.
Myka immediately stumbled to the side upon arrival, reaching out to catch her balance on the shelves and almost knocking a few artifacts over in the process. She only barely managed to not set anything off.
By now, she'd gotten used to the sudden shifts through time, but this... This time felt different. There was no warning, for one thing: no light tingling in her skin to let her know what was about to happen. This time was also much more abrupt, much more violent, in a way.
Myka had just enough time to catch her breath, and then, again with no warning, she was yanked backwards into the past once more.
For the first time, Myka wasn't brought back to her usual spot. Instead, she showed up exactly where she'd been when she disappeared just a few moments earlier. Wolcott literally jumped in surprise, dropping his cup of tea to the floor.
Flustered, he bent down to pick it back up. "Well, it certainly is quite disconcerting when you do that," he muttered.
Myka could only stare at him in confusion. Why had she shown up here, instead of out on the street, like she always did? It made no sense for the artifact to suddenly change how it worked.
"How long was I gone?" she asked.
"Oh, only about twenty minutes," Wolcott replied. "I couldn't find Helena to let her know you'd gone, so I decided to simply come back here and finish our tea."
Shaking off her uneasy feeling, Myka took a deep breath and smiled the best she could.
It was strange, but it almost felt as if the artifact had suddenly been unable to decide where she should be.
Claudia knew that panicking wouldn't help anyone at the moment, but she couldn't help it. "Oh shit," she repeated. "Pete! What do we do?"
After startling the bejeezus out of her, H.G. had promptly passed out, leaving Claudia to scramble to her feet and hop around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Pete was simply staring at H.G., a totally bewildered look on his face. "Pete!" she called again, finally getting him to look at her. "Do something!"
Just like that, he snapped into Agent-mode. He reached for his Farnsworth, calling Artie and barking out, "Claudia and I are fine, but get Doctor Calder here, now," before shoving it back in his pocket. Then he crouched down by H.G., looking her over without touching her.
"Get on her other side," he told Claudia, "and help me get her onto her back."
Claudia complied, and together they carefully turned her onto her side and then her back. H.G. groaned, but didn't appear to regain consciousness. Although her clothes were fully intact, they had a somewhat charred look to them, and Claudia could see that much of H.G.'s skin was badly burned.
About as gentle as Claudia had ever seen him, Pete eased his arms under H.G.'s body and carefully stood up, cradling the woman close to his chest.
"I'll run ahead and go get Edison's stagecoach," she offered, already turning and sprinting down the aisle. She'd made a few... adjustments, so that the vehicle moved a bit faster than it used to, and now it only required one person's bioelectricity for power. It still wasn't fast, but it would get them back to the office quicker than Pete's legs.
As soon as they arrived at the foot of the office stairs, Pete jumped out and hurried to pick up H.G. once again she was still breathing, but showed no signs of improvement. Claudia followed right behind them.
"What is going on? Who is that?" Claudia heard Artie ask from the balcony.
There was silence, and then Leena's hushed voice floated down the stairs. "Oh my God, it's..."
Leena didn't finish her sentence, but she didn't need to, since Claudia, Pete, and H.G. had by then arrived beside them. Artie's jaw literally dropped, but none of them paid him any attention. Claudia darted in front of Pete to open the door to the office, then scrambled ahead once again to clear some space off the nearest table.
Just as Pete was laying H.G. down, Vanessa strode in from the umbilicus.
"Perfect timing, Doc," Claudia greeted with a nod.
Pete was strangely silent, and his eyes hadn't once left H.G. Claudia couldn't quite read whatever he was feeling. He just looked intense.
Thankfully, Vanessa didn't waste any time asking questions. No one would know the answers, anyway.
She only took a few moments to look over H.G., but apparently that was enough. "I wasn't sure what to expect," she said, "but I have an ambulance waiting outside, just in case. I can't treat her here; we need a hospital. Pete?"
Pete nodded once, and then reached again for H.G.
And again, Claudia followed along behind.
"What is going on?" Artie bellowed, right before she reached the door.
She paused for a moment, turning back to look at him. "I have no idea," she shrugged.
Claudia then had to run to catch up with the others, arriving outside just in time to see the ambulance doors closing.
"Hey!" she called out, sprinting towards the vehicle. There was no way she was getting left behind for this.
No one noticed her, though, and the ambulance started to pull away.
She waved her arms in the air, but it was no use. They were leaving without her.
The ambulance had only gone about 500 feet, when it skidded to a stop. The back door opened and Pete stuck his head out. "Come on, Claud!" he called out.
Claudia heard the Warehouse door open behind her, but she ran ahead, reaching for Pete's outstretched hand and climbing into the ambulance.
Helena kept busy. She had to keep busy. Otherwise, her mind would be flooded with images of Christina. Sometimes smiling, sometimes crying out in fear and pain. It made no difference. Whether Christina was happy or dying, the images only served to pierce Helena directly through the heart.
Painful thoughts lurked just beneath the surface, waiting to pounce as soon as Helena let her guard down. Therefore the only options were to distract herself, or be constantly reminded that Christina was gone.
So Helena kept busy.
She mostly ignored Myka. Myka's sad eyes and frowning looks were more than she could handle. Myka knew things, and if it all worked out if Helena succeeded in saving Christina then Myka would have no need to look so sad... Helena shoved the thought away.
It would work. It had to. There were simply no other options.
Helena was working on her time machine it would work; it had to when a polite cough broke through her concentration. She quickly looked up to find Wooly staring shyly at her, but then she went right back to work. Helena loved him like a brother, but his pity was no better than Myka's gloom.
"There... there's been a new curiosity," he finally told her when it became clear that Helena wasn't going to say anything.
She shrugged. "Take Myka, then," she suggested, angling her head towards the curly-haired woman sitting in the corner of the room; she'd taken to following Helena around like a shadow. "I'm busy."
Helena still didn't look up, but she could hear the shock in his voice as he sputtered, "I... I cannot take Miss Bering! I am sure that you are very capable, Miss Bering, I mean no offence. However... that is not how this works, Helena. "
"I'm busy," she repeated.
There was a long silence.
Then Myka stood up, moving to stand at Helena's side. Her hand came to rest against Helena's lower back, and she spoke quietly, for Helena's ears alone. Myka's words were soft but with an understated force behind them. "You have barely left this room in a week," Myka said. "You need to get outside. Do something else. I know you think you have to keep working on this nonstop, but it's a time machine, Helena. The past isn't going anywhere. Besides, if you let yourself take a break once in a while, then you can come back to this later with fresh eyes, which can only help you in the long run."
Helena stood there and listened, only realizing quite how stiff her muscles were once she finally stopped moving. She said nothing, but didn't continue working, either. Part of her knew that Myka was right; the other part stubbornly refused to be diverted from the task before her.
"Chasing an artifact will still keep you busy," Myka added. "It will distract you just as well."
Helena grumbled to herself, but finally sighed and gave in. Truthfully, she was too tired to put up much of a fight.
She put on a false smile. "Lead on, then," she told Wolcott. He looked relieved, but Helena knew that Myka, at least, wasn't fooled. Helena let her mask drop once Wooly turned his back to her. She took a last look over her shoulder as she reluctantly left her work behind. For once, Myka did not follow. She simply watched Helena, her eyes keen.
All Helena knew was pain.
There was a vague murmur of voices in the background, but Helena couldn't focus well enough to make any sense of them.
She must have made some sound, however, because the voices paused, and then suddenly moved closer, crowding in around her.
"H.G.? H.G.! Are you awake? Are you alive?"
Helena managed to open her eyes, barely, and two blurry Claudia Donovans swam through her vision. She closed her eyes again, dizzy.
"I don't know," she croaked out. "You must tell me."
"You're alive!" Claudia cried out in excitement. "And the doc says that you're getting better!"
Helena found both statements equally difficult to believe.
"Perhaps he should return to medical school," she suggested hoarsely, "because I am quite certain that what I am cannot possibly be considered 'better.'"
"She, actually," said an unfamiliar voice. "And from what I understand, being alive is quite a considerable bit better than not being alive, so I think I win that argument by default."
Helena cracked her eyes open once more, finding an elegant blonde woman standing beside Claudia. Mercifully, there was now only one Claudia, instead of two.
"Doctor Vanessa Calder," the woman continued with a small smile. "I'm the Warehouse physician."
She held a cup of water with a straw to Helena's lips, which Helena gratefully drank down.
"Well I suppose it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Doctor," Helena responded when her throat felt just a bit less like it was about to crack apart from within. "Seeing how I never expected to be making anyone's acquaintance ever again. That's usually how it works when one dies, or so I've been led to believe."
"I know, isn't it great?" Claudia exclaimed. She literally could not contain her excitement, as she bounced on the balls of her feet.
Everyone's eyes swiveled to the doorway, where Peter Lattimer now stood, cup of coffee in hand. She didn't think he had never called her by her full name, before. Always H.G.; never Helena.
"Hello, Pete," she greeted. The last time she'd seen him, she had been quite certain that she was about to die. This was all quite strange, to put it mildly.
She wondered where Myka was, but couldn't bring herself to ask, afraid that she wouldn't like the answer.
Pete stepped closer, staring at her intently. Their relationship had never been an easy one there had been hostility at first, followed by wary trust, then bitter anger, and finally, a sense of forgiveness. She wasn't quite sure what to expect from him this time.
"I..." he began hesitantly. "I never fully trusted you, you know. And then I hated you, really hated you. Even more than for trying to end the world, I hated you for hurting Myka and taking her away from me. And let's not even get into the whole fiasco with Kelly and Lizzie Borden's compact. But..." He took a deep breath, running his hand through his hair. The doctor placed her hand on Claudia's shoulder and led her from the room, understanding that Pete's words were personal, meant for Helena alone.
Helena felt a rush of shame overtake her at the mention of her attempt on Pete's life, but she swallowed it down. She remained silent, waiting for him to continue.
She closed her eyes and had nearly fallen asleep when Pete finally went on, his voice softer than she'd ever heard from him before, "But you saved my life. You saved all three of us. I know you pretty much did it for Myka, but that doesn't take away from what you did. You were willing to die for us. You did die for us. I guess not permanently, but still. I'll never forget that. So thank you, Helena. I didn't think I'd get the chance to ever say that to you, but... Thank you."
He reached for her hand, and though his touch was painful, she did not complain. Pete's forgiveness, his heartfelt gratitude, meant more to her than she'd thought it would.
"Anytime," she joked, before continuing more seriously. "You're welcome."
She smiled at him, still extremely confused by her own existence, but too tired and in pain to question it.
So with her battered hand resting between his larger one, Helena closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Myka woke up with a jerk.
Helena had apparently just kicked something and was now swearing softly under her breath. The inventor largely remained optimistic, but progress only moved in fits and starts. Apparently tonight was turning into one of frustration, rather than advancement.
Myka took that as her cue that it was time for them to get away for a little while.
She stood up from her chair, stretching out the crick in her neck, and looked at her watch. It was almost midnight.
"Don't tell me that it's time to leave," Helena growled even before Myka reached her side.
Myka simply stared at her, hands on her hips and with one eyebrow raised.
Helena sighed, shoulders sinking. The one benefit that came from Helena's singular focus on her work was the fact that lately she was often too tired to bother arguing with Myka.
Myka stepped forward and wrapped her arm around Helena's back. "Come on," she murmured softly, pressing a gentle kiss to Helena's temple, "let's go home."
Helena followed without a fuss, only hesitating for a moment before climbing into the carriage that Charles had sent to wait for them. Myka didn't once release her hold on the other woman.
The ride back was completely silent, but by the time they stood outside Myka's bedroom, Helena was noticeably shaking. Although they hadn't talked about it, Myka knew that Helena had nightmares, now. She knew how much Helena dreaded going to sleep.
"Well, good night, Myka," Helena whispered, lowering her gaze to the floor as she moved to walk away.
Without really thinking about it, Myka found her hand shooting out and catching Helena by the wrist. "I..." she began, uncertainly, only looking at Helena out of the corner of her eye. "I could stay with you tonight. If you want, that is."
Myka had been trailing after Helena like a lost puppy, these past weeks, but while they had spent most of their time together, any sense of intimacy had been completely missing. Myka felt a wave of insecurity wash over her, unsure of where they stood with one another; of whether her offer would be accepted or laughed away.
Helena merely stared at her, an inscrutable expression on her face.
After what felt like a very long time, Helena finally smiled. "Yes," she replied simply, twisting her hand around to interlace their fingers. She walked backwards, pulling Myka along with her and continuing to stare deeply into Myka's eyes.
Myka really had only meant for them to sleep in the same bed, so she could offer comfort if Helena's sleep was once again troubled. But as soon as the door to Helena's room was closed, she found herself pressed up against it, with Helena's lips quickly latching onto her jaw and then trailing down her neck.
"Helena...?" she managed, once she'd recovered from her surprise.
Helena's only response was to silence her by covering Myka's mouth with her own. Myka knew this was a bad idea; Helena was broken, right now, and a rushed, desperate moment of passion wouldn't solve anything.
Knowing it and doing something about it were two entirely different things, however.
Because this woman was like an addictive drug, Myka realized. One taste, and all she wanted was more.
Myka returned the kiss eagerly, pushing back with equal force. Maybe this was what Helena needed, after all, another way to keep her mind busy.
"Please," Helena whispered, an urgent exhalation of breath against Myka's lips.
"Please what?" Myka asked.
Myka pulled away, then, stopping to really look at Helena. She couldn't see much in the darkness of the room, but moonlight flowed in through the window, illuminating half of Helena's face and leaving the rest in shadow. It was a striking image, one that took Myka's breath away.
"I need you," Helena pleaded, and the sound was so desperate and damaged that it broke Myka's heart.
"Okay," she nodded, not even sure exactly what she was agreeing to. "It'll be okay."
Helena breathed in deeply and then surged forward, capturing Myka's lips once again. Myka allowed herself to be pulled further into the room, and the two of them tumbled onto Helena's bed. Helena quickly shifted positions so that she loomed over Myka, who understood that tonight Helena needed to be in control.
Their movements became increasingly frantic as they worked to rid themselves of all clothing. Myka wanted to slow things down, take their time, but Helena was having none of it. So Myka gave in, surrendering herself to Helena's wild and feverish pace. It wasn't like it was all that much of a hardship, anyway. The throbbing arousal that pooled low in Myka's belly was evidence enough of that.
Helena was beautiful, relentless in her passion; an ever-moving current of electric energy. Myka tried to ground her, stroking her palms gently up and down Helena's back, but the writer grunted in dissatisfaction, reaching to pull Myka's hands away and pin them over her head.
Myka cried out and arched her back upwards when Helena first entered her, a white-hot surge of lust and emotion running through her. A deep purr of approval rose from the back of Helena's throat in response, and she craned her neck down to swipe her tongue across Myka's breasts, one at a time.
It didn't take long before Myka was ready to explode, her soft moans rising in pitch. Helena buried her face in the crook of Myka's neck, panting shallowly against Myka's skin and pressing into Myka even harder, faster.
Myka's orgasm crested over her and she froze with a strangled cry. Helena quickly released Myka's wrists and wrapped her free arm under Myka's back, holding her firmly until she collapsed back onto the bed.
They simply breathed heavily against each other for several minutes, and Myka moved her arms down to wrap loosely around Helena's shoulders. Slowly, as if she might scare Helena off, Myka began to stroke her fingertips across the smooth skin of Helena's back.
Helena allowed the touch at first, but she stiffened when Myka's fingers began to grow more purposeful. Myka was nervous, but wanted nothing more in that moment than to reciprocate, to make Helena feel safe and loved.
"No," Helena growled deeply. "Just you."
"Helena, I want to," Myka insisted, raising her hand to tenderly cup Helena's cheek.
Clenching her jaw, Helena stared at Myka intensely. "No," she repeated, softening the word by turning her head to kiss Myka's palm. Her lips continued down Myka's arm, and though Myka tried to protest, Helena maintained control, refusing to let Myka touch her, soothe her.
Myka's muscles turned to jelly at Helena's touch anyway, so she didn't have much strength to fight back.
Helena stopped to kiss Myka on the mouth, hard, before her lips continued their descent. Myka's heart rate jumped, as she realized what Helena was going to do.
Being with Helena like this was a revelation, and Myka's hands instinctively reached down to tangle in raven tresses, her body feeling things she'd forgotten it were possible to feel. She bit her lip to keep from crying out too loudly.
They moved together seamlessly, quickly settling into a rhythm.
Myka lost track of everything else as her mind went into a prolonged state of oblivion, incapable of any thought beyond the primitive. Helena simply kept giving and giving, refusing to take anything back. It was a long time later when they finally fell into an exhausted sleep, a mess of sweaty skin and tangled limbs.
She didn't know how long she slept, but it couldn't have been very long before something woke Myka up, because the room was still dark. She reached to the other side of the bed, panicking slightly when she felt only the cool sheets.
Lifting her head, Myka quickly realized why she'd awoken.
Still naked, Helena sat at the very edge of the bed with her back to Myka, her arms wrapped tightly around herself and her pale body rocking minutely back and forth. Small, broken sobs escaped her throat.
Shaking off her fatigue, Myka scrambled to kneel behind Helena, dropping kisses onto her shoulder as she wrapped her own arms around the other woman.
"Shh," she murmured soothingly. "I've got you. You're okay. Let it out, I've got you."
Helena stiffened at first contact, but then quickly melted back into Myka's embrace, letting the curly-haired agent support her. Myka carefully pulled her backwards until they were once again lying down on the bed. Helena's body continued to shake with quiet sobs, and a few tears slid down Myka's own cheeks as well, but at least Helena allowed Myka's soothing touch, allowed Myka's soft whispers of comfort.
It must have been at least half an hour before Helena's cries stopped, her breathing slowed, and her body became heavy in a way that let Myka know she'd finally fallen back asleep. Even then, Myka didn't let go. She only held on tighter.
"So... how exactly did this happen?" Pete asked Artie, his voice low to keep from waking H.G. "I mean, I know weird things happen in the Warehouse endless wonder and all that but... She got vaporized by a freaking nuclear bomb, man. That's not exactly something that people tend to survive."
"Yes, well," Artie stuttered, taking off his glasses to clean them, "contrary to popular belief, I don't actually have the answers to everything."
"Could the pocket watch have done this?" Leena asked, her eyes on H.G.'s hospital bed. "It brought back everything that was in the Warehouse and destroyed by the bomb... Maybe everyone too? Vanessa says that her burns are healing faster than normal; almost as if the artifact is still working on her."
"Like it brought her back 'half-baked,' shall we say?" Pete laughed at his own joke but everyone else simply stared at him, causing him to quickly quiet down and purse his lips together. He still couldn't stop himself from adding, "Ooh, I have a new mission in life! Get H.G. freaking Wells high!"
Claudia snickered in the background, even as she remained apart from the rest of them, sitting at H.G.'s bedside.
"Focus, people!" Artie exclaimed loudly, earning a chorus of "shhhhs!" from the other three.
Artie grumbled quietly to himself before continuing, "Okay, so, it's possible that the pocket watch brought her back. Howev-"
"But you said it didn't work on people," Pete interrupted. "That's what you told Myka, and that's why she went into depressed mourning for months, until she was so sad that an artifact was actually drawn to her!"
"Yes, well." Artie said again, clearing his throat. "I didn't actually know if it worked on people or not, but I didn't think that it did, and I didn't want Myka to get her hopes up."
"Dude, if you'd gotten her hopes up, then she'd actually be here right now, instead of hanging out in London over a hundred years ago!" Pete stepped away and turned his back to Artie, exhaling as he ran his hand through his hair.
"Hindsight is always 20-20, Pete, you know that," Leena chimed in softly. "If Artie had told Myka that H.G. might come back, but then she never did... It would be torture."
Pete sighed. He knew Leena was right, but it was hard not to be frustrated. Still, he turned back and offered Artie a half-smile of apology.
"Okay," Claudia went on, "so now what? However she got here, can we now use H.G. to get Myka back for good?"
"It's possible..." Artie said, trailing off.
Pete sighed. "Yeah, but how?" Now he was the one trying not to get his hopes up.
Myka and Helena settled into a routine.
They would wake up, go to Warehouse 12, and on the days when there was no "curiosity" to chase after, Helena would work. Sometimes they holed up in Helena's work room; sometimes Helena would send Myka to go find a particular book for her; some days they would instead simply walk through the aisles, methodically combing the shelves. Myka was never sure if Helena even knew quite what she was looking for. Once a day, Myka would force Helena to come outside with her and go take a walk somewhere to get some fresh air and clear their heads.
They didn't actually talk much. To most people, Helena eventually seemed to act more like herself. She was relatively cheerful, optimistic about the future, charming as ever. With Myka, though, Helena let the front drop. She didn't seem particularly sad, per se; just focused and intense.
Then at night, they would return to the Wells home. They spent every night together, now. Usually they would only sleep; Myka holding Helena close to try to keep the nightmares at bay. Often, Myka would wake up alone, finding Helena sitting quietly by the window.
On rare occasions, there would be more. Helena was still reluctant to receive any pleasure herself, but after that first night, Myka refused to simply be a passive recipient of Helena's ardor; an object, rather than a subject. At least Helena didn't cry afterward anymore.
It was a simple life, really. But in spite of the fact that Myka spent close to 24 hours per day at Helena's side, it was also a lonely life. Helena just wasn't there, wasn't present, like she had been before. Helena was alive, but she wasn't really living.
One night, Myka woke suddenly, not knowing why for half a second, before she noticed the tingling in her skin. She shook Helena awake.
"Helena!" she cried.
The other woman blinked sleepily at her, confused.
"I'll be back for you, I promise," Myka continued urgently. "Please take care of yourself! I-"
And then she was gone, the feel of Helena's shoulders beneath Myka's palms disappearing in an instant.
The transition was smoother than it had been the previous time, and Myka simply sighed as she opened her eyes to see the H.G. Wells aisle around her.
It was always good to be home she really did miss Pete and Claudia and the gang an incredible amount but she couldn't shake the tight anxiety that coiled deep in her core. No matter how put-together she appeared to everyone else, Helena was not okay, and Myka couldn't help but worry about how Helena would cope without her.
When she arrived at the stairs to Artie's office, though, there was no one there waiting for her like usual. She walked up to the balcony and peered in through the windows to the office, but everything was dark. She tried the door, but it was locked. No one was there, she realized.
The Warehouse, which had always been a comfort to her, now took on a slightly eerie feel to it. This huge, vast, space, and Myka was the only living thing inside it. Maybe she could wish for a ferret to keep her company.
There was no way of knowing what time it was, so Myka simply waited on the balcony for a little while. She soon grew bored, though, and decided to wander through the aisles. She smiled fondly when she came across a stack of post-it notes which had been abandoned on one of the shelves. Then it gave Myka an idea, and she returned to the balcony, writing a quick message on the post-it and pressing it against the small window in the door.
She decided to go wait in the library. It was probably her favorite part of the whole Warehouse, after all. Myka wasn't sure what to read; she thought about trying to find a Wells novel, but she had a feeling it would only make her feel melancholy. She smiled when her eyes fell to A Wrinkle in Time. It had been one of her favorite books growing up.
Myka had only read about twenty pages, when she fell asleep. No one came to find her, and some untold amount of time later, she was woken yet again by the now-familiar tingling sensation. It felt unfair, to come back but not see anyone. There was nothing she could do about it, though.
After returning from his visit to the hospital, Artie frowned when he noticed the little scrap of yellow paper sticking to the window looking out to the balcony.
He squinted at it, adjusting the glasses on his face.
Myka was here. (I'm either in the library, or I've already disappeared again.) Love you all.
Artie hurried to the library, but all he found was a stray book lying open on a chair.
"I have been having the strangest of dreams."
Claudia looked up from the comic she'd been reading and smiled. Every time H.G. woke up, she looked a little healthier than before. She looked tired, now, but better. Definitely better.
"What about?" Claudia asked.
"Myka," was H.G.'s simple answer. Her eyes remained closed, like she was remembering her dream, or simply didn't quite have the energy to open them.
"Ahh, I see," Claudia grinned knowingly, waggling her eyebrows. "Nothing wrong with a few naughty dreams, H.G.," she teased.
H.G. huffed out a small laugh. "No, not like that, darling," she replied. She opened her eyes, then, sliding them over to look at Claudia. A sly smirk spread across her face, and Claudia felt the urge to actually clap, because yes, there was the H.G. that she knew clever, and playful, and with a literal frakking twinkle in her eye. With a deep sigh, H.G. closed her eyes once again, but the smirk remained as she confessed, "That kind of dream would certainly not be 'strange.'"
"Ha!" Claudia exclaimed, unable to stop herself. She'd only been joking when she brought it up, but to hear H.G. actually admit it? She grinned widely, waving her arms through the air in a wild expression of triumph. "I knew it!"
Then she remembered that they were basically talking about having sexy dreams about Claudia's surrogate older sister... And that was just weird.
"Right, so," she went on with a cough. "What were you dreaming about, then?"
H.G. frowned as she explained, "I've been having these dreams, where she was a part of my life, back then. Before I was bronzed, I mean. She went back in time, and she came to live with me. Christina absolutely adored her, and Wooly was half in love with her, and Chaturanga admired her, and I..." H.G. trailed off. "It's the level of detail, that's strange. That, and the fact that each dream seems to pick up where the last one left off. If I didn't know better, I'd say that they felt more like memories than dreams."
Claudia felt her jaw drop. Was H.G. actually remembering a past that she'd technically never experienced? Was that even possible? Time travel made Claudia's head hurt.
Before she could think of what to say, H.G. continued. She sounded sad, almost afraid, as she asked, "Claudia, where is Myka? Why hasn't she come to visit me?"
"Dude, has no one told you what happened?" Claudia asked in return.
H.G.'s eyes flew open and she attempted to sit up, an expression of wild panic on her face, only to fall back to the bed with a grimace of pain.
"Shit, no, don't worry, Myka's fine! I'm sorry, she's totally fine!" Claudia hurried to add, standing up and stepping closer to H.G.'s bed to make sure she was okay. "Should I call a nurse?"
H.G. shook her head stiffly, gritting her teeth. "No. Just tell me, Claudia. What happened?"
"Well," she began, scratching the back of her head. "It's kind of a long story, but basically... Your dreams might actually be memories, because Myka did go back in time, and she's currently hanging out with you in London in 1899."
H.G. simply stared at her. "You're joking," she stated flatly.
"Nope!" Claudia smiled brightly. "Oh, and you know what's even better-slash-worse-slash-ironic? The reason why she was able to go back in time is pretty much because she missed you really badly. And now you're here. But she's not. Dude, I hadn't realized how much that sucks until I said it all out loud like that."
"Well, get her to come back, then!" H.G. commanded.
"Yeah... She does that every once in a while on her own, but then she disappears again. Keeping her here for good is kind of a work in progress at the moment. Except without much progress," Claudia conceded. "But we're hoping that now that you're here, somehow that'll help?"
"So you're saying that my dreams actually happened, to some other version of myself?" H.G. clarified.
Claudia shrugged. "I guess so. I mean, you'd probably have to, like, compare notes with Myka or whatever, but yeah, probably." An idea struck her, and she added, "Wait, so if you can remember things... Then however this ends, it's already happened for you, right? So can you remember what Myka's going to do? Maybe we can figure out how to get Myka back because you'll remember her doing it!"
H.G. knit her brows in thought. "I don't believe it works like that. Not yet, anyway. It's not some instantaneous download of memories into my brain," she explained. Claudia had to smile at that, since she'd been the one to teach H.G. what 'downloading' meant. "As I told you, it's like a series of dreams, one after another. I might still be catching up with things, I suppose. In my latest dream, the last thing that happened was that I brought Myka to Warehouse 12 for the first time. She was helping with a case."
Claudia nodded. "Yeah, you're way behind. Come on H.G., catch up with your own life!" she chided with a wink.
H.G. smiled, but wistfully. "I wish I could truly remember," she said. "It feels like I'm remembering someone else's life, but I wish I'd actually been there. Now not only am I a stranger in this new time, but I'm also a stranger to my own life."
Claudia shifted uncomfortably, unsure what to say.
After a moment, H.G. took a deep breath, and her expression subtly shifted until the sadness had dripped away and only a bright smile remained.
"I apologize, darling. There's no need for me to trouble you with the silly musings of an old soul," H.G. continued. "So tell me about you. What great new inventions have you dreamt up since last I saw you?"
Claudia still felt like she should have said something. Myka would've known what to say, but Claudia didn't, so she went along with the subject change. "Well, there is this one thing," she responded. "Most of the others don't know about it, except for Myka. They can't know about it. I think I've almost got it working, but there's something I'm missing. Maybe when you're well enough to get out of here, you could take a look?"
"Sounds intriguing," H.G. smiled. "I'll do what I can, darling." She laughed lightly as she added, "As long as it doesn't get me into even more trouble with the Regents, of course. I rather think that I'd better not give them any more of an excuse to lock me away again. Although it will probably happen again anyway, regardless of whether or not I'm on my best behavior."
Claudia laughed along with H.G., but she gulped inwardly. She hadn't thought about the Regents... Normally, H.G. probably would have picked up on Claudia's awkwardness, but the recently-returned-from-being-deceased was growing noticeably tired.
"Don't worry," the young inventor said, with more conviction than she actually felt. "Now that we've got you back, there's no way we're giving you up again without a fight."
Myka was getting antsy. She felt like they were settling into a rut, the grooves of their routine growing so habitual that soon they wouldn't be able to get out of it. Helena, at least, was actively doing something, but Myka simply watched.
She itched for an actual, tangible enemy; something that she could fight, instead of this passive waiting for something to happen. Myka felt so utterly removed from her life as a Warehouse agent the intricate planning, the hunt for artifacts, even the danger that used to be such a part of her daily life. She could feel it slipping further and further away from her.
On the bright side, Helena was doing a lot better. She was obviously far from happy, but she didn't have to try quite so hard to pretend. Apparently things were going well with the time machine, and each new bit of progress boosted Helena's spirits even more. She had a purpose, now, something to keep her focused. Myka, however, had no such thing.
"Do you have any swords?" she asked H.G. suddenly, causing the other woman to look up at her with an amused, if slightly puzzled, smile.
"Swords, darling? Why, are you planning on stabbing anyone?"
"No, of course not," Myka scoffed. "I just thought I could go do some sparring, or something, while you work."
Helena paused to think. "Right, well let's see. I know that somewhere in here, we have the swords of both Marcus Aurelius and William Wallace. Though I imagine them to be quite heavy, and I am not certain as to what they actually do." She trailed off before brightening as a thought occurred to her. "Oh, I know. How about Napoleon's sword? That should suit your needs, I would think. Just be a dear and try not to take over the world while you use it," she finished with a wink.
Myka frowned questioningly. "I thought Napoleon's sword was passed down through the Bonaparte family for generations. I remember reading about it getting auctioned off a few years ago in my time, I mean for millions of dollars."
With a satisfied smirk, Helena explained, "Well, whoever bought it, I imagine they would be incredibly disappointed to hear that they paid an inconceivable amount of money for an item which is really only a very well-made replica. That was an enjoyable mission. I do take pleasure in stealing from the French."
Myka laughed and shook her head in amusement before sighing, "No, that's no good. I can't use an artifact. You don't have, I don't know, your own private sword or something?"
Helena smiled at her fondly. "I'm afraid not, darling. This is the turn of the century, you know. We don't all go walking around with our own personal swords anymore."
Leaning her head back against the top of her chair and looking up at the ceiling, Myka sighed and made a face of frustration. She rolled her head to the side so could look at the inventor as she responded, not quite managing to keep a sulk out of her voice or off her face, "Well, you should."
Helena's grin only widened. "I am ever so sorry, then. Is my poor Myka bored?" she teased lightly.
She walked over and leaned down to kiss Myka's pouting lips. She caressed Myka's cheek affectionately, before returning to her desk.
"I don't know. I guess so," Myka sighed. She sat up straighter, continuing, "It's just that, I'm an agent, H.G. I'm not used to being so... still. You know?"
Helena's expression sobered, shifting from amusement to concern.
"I do, yes," she replied. "I will speak with Chaturanga about the possibility of you becoming more directly involved with Warehouse affairs. Does that sound all right?"
Myka's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Yeah, wow, thank you. Sounds great." It was definitely more than she'd been expecting when the conversation started.
A spark appeared in Helena's eyes as the corner of her mouth lifted into a half-smirk and she added, "Perhaps soon we could look into acquiring some swords, as well. You could teach me some of your fencing, and I could teach you some kempo. I'm sure we could find a spot in this drafty old building for some friendly sparring."
"Are you serious?" Myka grinned goofily when Helena nodded. "That would be amazing. Let's do it."
Helena bowed her head in agreement.
"Well now that that's settled." Helena shot Myka a somewhat sheepish look. "Would you mind terribly if I...?" she asked, angling her head down towards the papers on her desk.
Myka smiled. "No, go on and get back to your brilliant inventor things. I'll be fine, now that I have swords and the possibility of artifacts to look forward to." She waggled her eyebrows up and down suggestively, earning a warm smile in return. Helena's smiles weren't nearly as bright as they used to be, but Myka was just grateful that she was smiling at all.
Christina was screaming.
Helena searched, increasingly frantic, but although the cries of fear and pain grew neither louder nor softer, each new door she opened led only to yet another empty room, another door on a different wall. It was maddening. Helena could feel her own panic and desperation mounting, her heart caught in her throat, and feared that she would hyperventilate and pass out before she could find her daughter.
She ran even faster, now. Never mind how difficult she was finding it to draw enough air into her lungs, because Christina needed her.
She could still hear her; hear her daughter's pleas for help. It was tearing Helena apart from within.
Finally, she opened what felt like the millionth door, and she literally cried out in relief because there, finally, was her darling daughter. The sounds of pain stopped instantly. Helena's expression turned to one of horror, however, as she realized that it wasn't Christina at all. Not really. This pale figure in front of her was merely a ghost, her face an ashen gray.
Helena fell to her knees, unable to stop from reaching out with her hand, though she was unsure whether her outstretched palm would meet something solid or mere air.
The girl was solid, at least, her skin icy cold to the touch.
This shell of Christina barely moved, even as blood began to trickle down her face. She turned to look down on Helena, her eyes blank voids of black. The line of red reached Christina's chin and then fell in fat drops onto Helena's own upturned face.
"Christina," Helena sobbed, her tears mixing with her daughter's thick, warm blood. "I'm so sorry. My sweet baby girl, I-"
"Kill them," the ghost interrupted blandly. "Kill them for me."
Helena woke to find Myka shaking her gently, a deeply worried expression on her face.
"It was just a dream, you're okay," Myka softly whispered, tenderly caressing Helena's hair and wiping at her cheeks. It was only then that Helena even realized that she was crying, even outside the nightmare.
She swallowed, moving with some effort to sit up in bed. Myka moved with her, but Helena barely felt her lover's soothing touch on her back. Myka continued to whisper soft words of comfort, pressing light kisses to her cheek, but she didn't hear or feel them at all.
Her mind was stuck in a painful loop, replaying the images from her dream over and over again.
Kill them. Kill them for me.
Yes. She would continue to work on the time machine and look for any artifacts which might help; she would save her Christina. But she would also hunt down the vile creatures that were her child's murderers. She would find them, and then make them wish they'd never been born.
Pete opened his car door and ran around to the other side, hovering as H.G. opened her own door and stepped out onto the driveway of Leena's B&B. "Are you okay?" he asked, hovering barely an inch from her side.
Helena sighed. "Yes, Peter."
"Are you sure? Want me to carry you?" Pete had kept close since she'd been released from the hospital, even though she'd continually refused his offers of help.
"If you make any attempt to carry me, then I will not be held accountable for the pain in which you will soon find yourself, you great oaf of a man," H.G. grumbled, clearly frustrated with Pete's over-protectiveness.
Pete grinned broadly in response, stopping where he stood and spreading his arms wide. "There she is!"
Helena turned back to face him, before looking to Claudia. "What is wrong with him now?" she asked.
Claudia just shrugged with a laugh. "Beats me."
"Look, ever since I gave you my schmaltzy little 'thanks for saving my life, man' speech, you've been all polite and, I don't know, overly British," Pete explained, moving his body stiffly in demonstration. "I kept expecting you to ask me to join you for tea time or something. But that, what you just said? There is the feisty H.G. Wells I've been looking for!" He moved forward and dropped his shoulder to throw a few fake punches at H.G.'s upper arm. Helena simply rolled her eyes at him and kept walking.
Pete then ran ahead to pull open the front door, holding it open with one hand while he made a formal bow and gestured into the B&B with the other. "Centenarians-who-have-recently-returned-from-the-dead first," he offered graciously. As Claudia went to enter next, he lightly shoved her aside and added, "Junior agents go last."
"I'm gonna be the frickin' Caretaker, dude!" Claudia retorted. "Show some respect!" She whacked him on the arm, he ruffled her hair, and it quickly devolved into playful roughhousing until Pete tripped over H.G. and found himself lying on the floor.
"Oh," he said when he noticed the two people now looming over him. "Hi Mom. What are you doing here?"
His mother sighed. "Stand up, Peter."
He scrambled back to his feet, only now noticing Leena standing in the corner, arms crossed. She looked none too pleased at having his mom and Adwin Kosan standing in her hallway.
Artie chose that moment to walk in from the dining room, his eyes focused on a file in his hands. He looked up, seemingly surprised to find them all there.
"Oh, you're back," he commented unnecessarily. Turning to H.G., who stared calmly forward with her head high and shoulders back, he added, "I'm sorry, Helena. I told them that now was not the right time for whatever they're here for, but I couldn't convince them to leave."
"Wait a second, just what's going on here?" Pete interrupted. He and Claudia both moved to stand protectively in front of H.G.
The Englishwoman hadn't once taken her eyes off of Kosan.
"Peter, there is no need for you to be concerned," his mom insisted.
"No need to be concerned?" Leena raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "No offense, but usually when you guys show up, it means bad news."
Helena cleared her throat, immediately commanding everyone's attention. "Pete, Claudia, Arthur, and Leena, I thank you for your support, but I believe I would like to hear what they have to say to me."
Pete took a moment to just look at her, even as she continued to stare straight ahead, before nodding and taking a step backwards. Claudia followed his lead and did the same.
"Ms. Wells," Kosan began, a charming smile crossing his face. Pete had never been a big fan of the guy, and felt like punching that smile right off, but he managed to restrain himself. "On behalf of the Regents, I would like to say that we were all happy to hear of your recent recovery."
Claudia scoffed. "Yeah, like death is the same thing as having the flu. Nice recovery, H.G."
Kosan ignored Claudia's statement as he continued, "Now, we certainly find ourselves in quite the unique position. You committed a very serious crime, the attempted assassination of billions of people, and were punished accordingly. That punishment was interrupted, not due to any behavior of your own or any decision of ours, but as a result of the actions of a madman, Walter Sykes."
Suddenly, everyone except for H.G. and Pete's mother began speaking at once.
"There's no way you're taking her back."
"This is bullshit!"
"She saved our lives, and the Warehouse."
"That 'punishment' was never humane in the first place!"
Kosan simply held up his hand, waiting for them all the quiet down again.
"That said," he went on loudly, talking over their continued protests, "you have proven yourself loyal to the Warehouse and especially to its agents, as you were willing to sacrifice your own life for theirs. Such a sacrifice has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated amongst the Regents."
Pete's mom took over, adding, "We have consulted with Arthur Nielsen, and with consideration of his recommendation, we have decided to grant you a reprieve."
For the first time since she'd entered the B&B, Helena faltered in her impassive show of strength, turning her head to stare at Artie with a look of surprise and unguarded emotion. Artie offered a small, awkward smile, shrugging his shoulders.
"Consider yourself on parole," Kosan concluded. "You're on a very short leash, Agent Wells. Do be sure that you don't stretch it too far, this time. There will be no more chances after this one," he warned. With that, he nodded to them all and then strode out of the B&B.
Pete's mom remained and gazed distrustfully at H.G. for a moment. "Welcome back to the land of the living," she said, with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "Don't make me regret this." She'd never forgiven H.G. for trying to kill him, Pete knew. Turning to Pete, she added, "I'll call you soon." She reached up to pat his cheek lovingly, before she too was gone, leaving everyone else in stunned silence.
"Is that really it?" H.G. finally asked with awe in her voice, breaking the spell that seemed to have fallen over everyone. "Am I free?"
Claudia erupted with a burst of happy laughter, rushing forward to hug H.G. tightly, and then around in a circle to hug all the rest of them as well.
"Arthur, you... you spoke for me?" H.G. asked quietly after a moment.
"Yeah, well." Artie scratched his head uncomfortably. "Don't let it get to your head, but a certain someone finally convinced me that she'd been right, and you weren't the villain, after all."
The atmosphere in the room dampened at the unnamed mention of Myka.
Silently acknowledging the sadness over his absent partner but refusing to let it take over, Pete reached one arm around Helena and the other around Artie, pulling them both in close to him. "Awww, are you two going to be BFFs, now?" he teased.
"No," Artie protested.
"I don't know what that means," countered H.G., which in turn caused Artie to add, "Right. I meant, I don't either."
Pete laughed, ruffling both of their hair and leading both of them to complain and move out of reach.
Claudia returned to H.G.'s side and wrapped her arm around the older woman's waist, triggering H.G. to drape her own arm over Claudia's shoulders. "Myka should be here for this," she said, squeezing H.G. with a sad smile.
"Yes," Helena nodded solemnly. "She should."
Pete hadn't noticed that Leena had left the room until she came back from the kitchen, handing a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling cider to him, and champagne to everyone else.
Claudia sniffed at the drink in her hand. "Is this the real stuff, or Pete stuff?" she whispered to Leena, loud enough for everyone else to hear as well.
Leena smiled and stage-whispered back, "The real stuff, but don't tell Artie."
"I may be old, but I'm not deaf," Artie grumbled.
Pete cleared his throat, lifting his glass high. The others followed suit. "To H.G.'s freedom and to Myka's safe and permanent return!"
They all clinked glasses, sharing a smile and a look of determination. They'd just achieved one of those things; now it was time to really get down to business with the second.
"Do you plan on abandoning me, darling?"
"What?" Myka stumbled, caught off guard by the question, and H.G. pressed her advantage by knocking Myka's sword free from her hand. Helena had proven to be a very quick study with a sword of course she had but usually Myka's skill was enough for her to end up as the winner during their occasional sparring sessions. Helena could also tell when Myka wasn't trying her hardest, and her pride made her refuse to accept any wins that were handed to her.
She certainly wasn't above using a few tricks, however.
This time, Myka could only stare at H.G., leaving her weapon on the ground. She could sense that the question hadn't merely been a ruse to distract her; it was a real question, and the tenseness in Helena's body belied her casual tone.
"What are you talking about?" Myka asked.
Helena sighed, turning her back on Myka. "Well you said that it's an artifact that brought you here, yes?"
Myka nodded, even though Helena couldn't see her. They hadn't talked about it all that much, but Myka shouldn't have been surprised, she knew, that Helena was thinking about it.
"It has been causing you to spend exponentially more time with me, and correspondingly less time in your own time," Helena continued. "If things carry on along their current course, then sooner rather than later, I imagine that the artifact will stop taking you back there entirely, and you'll simply remain here."
Myka grit her teeth. The same thing had occurred to her as well, of course, and she really didn't know what to think about it. The thought of never seeing Pete, Claudia, Artie, and Leena again, not to mention her parents, was heartbreaking. But then the thought of abandoning Helena, especially at a time when the artificer was most vulnerable, was no better.
Helena began slowly pacing, twirling her sword in her hand. "Your friends will have realized this as well, I am sure. They will become increasingly desperate to bring you 'home,' back to them and away from me."
She turned back to stare deeply into Myka's eyes. "So what do you think, Myka?" she asked, assuming the beginning fencing stance and still twirling her sword, now in tight circles with the tip mere inches from Myka's chest. "One day will you be gone, and I shall simply never see you again?"
Myka swallowed, her heart beating rapidly. She knew that Helena would never hurt her, but there was an element of danger in Helena's dark eyes that was as threatening as it was attractive.
"Whatever happens," Myka began, resisting the urge to step back and away from the sharp blade before her, "we still have a future, with you. You haven't met me in the 21st century, yet. All of that is still ahead of you." Never mind the fact that a good amount of that future was spent plotting the end of the world, or existing as a hologram.
Helena considered Myka's words. "You still won't tell me how I manage to accomplish that?" she asked quietly.
Myka shook her head. "No, I won't."
"I could make you," Helena countered. She moved her weapon forward just slightly, displaying excellent control as Myka could feel the slight pressure of the sword's tip pushing against a button on her shirt. There was a new dark side to Helena's playfulness, one which had started emerging with increasing frequency, since Christina's death.
"You could, but you won't." Myka stated firmly, remaining otherwise immobile. She knew that taking a step back would only encourage Helena to go further.
Helena maintained her position for about 10 seconds longer, before stepping back with a sigh and allowing the sword to droop down towards the floor. Myka exhaled deeply as H.G. moved to the side of the room and slid the sword back inside its sheath.
"I suppose I'll find out on my own, eventually," Helena conceded. "And it's always better to make your own discoveries than to have them explained to you."
Myka found that she had nothing to say. There was a part of her that hated this. She knew that Helena assumed she would eventually make some alterations on her time machine, or use an artifact, and that would be how she ended up in the future.
The truth would be much more painful.
Claudia simply watched as H.G. strode slowly around the Claudia-cave. The inventor stopped to examine each corner of the alcove. Other than taking some time to glance through some of Claudia's notes, she didn't touch anything, respecting the work space.
"All right, then," she said once she'd come full circle and stood staring down at the metronome. "Tell me everything. Walk me through what you've done, and what it's supposed to do, and why you think it is not working."
Claudia jumped in, rambling on about Johann Maelzel, his metronome, Steve... Interspersed with all the technical details of the progress she'd made. She probably wasn't making much sense, she realized, but she didn't know how to stop rambling.
"Claudia," H.G. interrupted, "are you trying to create an artifact?"
"No, of course not," Claudia scoffed. "I'm not totally insane. Anymore. Just, you know, trying to fix one that's lost its mojo."
H.G. nodded thoughtfully. "I don't know what that last word means, but I believe I've got the gist of it. Now, what does this metronome do, and what does it have to do with your Agent Jinks?"
Claudia tilted her head to the side. "Didn't I say that already?" she asked.
H.G. shook her head with an amused smile. "Afraid not, darling."
"Right, well." Claudia scratched the back of her head. "He's dead, and I want to use the metronome to bring him back. That's what it does."
H.G. froze. "Claudia, no. You can't."
Claudia had never heard H.G. sound so serious before.
"What do you mean, I can't?" Claudia asked, almost offended at the idea. "Of course I can," she added. "I just, you know, could use a little help from my fellow genius here."
H.G. moved back towards the entrance, as if she wanted to get as far away from the metronome as possible. "It never works, Claudia," she insisted. "This kind of thing... It draws you in, and you're always ever so close, but you can never get it right."
"Yeah, so help me, and then I will get it right!" Claudia insisted. She was confused. This wasn't how this conversation had been supposed to go. H.G. was supposed to be the one who would understand. "H.G., out of everyone, you should know why I have to do this! You can help me, I know you can!"
H.G. would only shake her head. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, regaining a sense of calm as she slowly exhaled.
She opened her eyes and stared straight at Claudia, reaching to place her hands on Claudia's shoulders. "Yes," she said, "I am the one who understands you. But Claudia, you must listen to me. I understand better than anyone else that along this path, there lies only madness and pain."
"I'll go mad, if I just give up!" Claudia protested, pulling away and out of H.G.'s grasp.
There was a long stretch of silence, before H.G. murmured, her face angled towards the floor, "I am sorry, Claudia. I know this isn't what you were expecting from me. But I cannot help you. For your own sake, I can only urge you to let this go. Learn from my mistakes, my dear Claudia. You don't want to grow up into me."
H.G. then turned and walked back out of the alcove. Claudia kicked a leg of her workbench in frustration, watching passively as a few stray screws and springs fell down to the floor.
Fine, then. She'd do it all herself.
It was yet another strange new life that Helena now led. In fact, she was now in the midst of living two lives.
There was her daytime life, spent either at Leena's Bed & Breakfast or the Warehouse, as she recovered from her death. Her burns were mostly healed, but she had not yet fully returned to full strength and health.
Then there was her nighttime life, spent dreaming of remembering a life only truly experienced by a past version of herself. A life spent with Myka. She was jealous of this past self, there was no use denying it.
Some days, Helena woke up only to wish she could immediately dive back into her world of dreams. There was the morning after their first kiss, for instance. She'd laid in bed, ever so softly running her fingers over her lips, as though she could almost feel the phantom touch of Myka's mouth on her own.
There were other days, however, when Helena wanted absolutely nothing to do with these horrid memories. Some days were pure torture.
Helena stalked through Artie's office, ignoring Pete as he mumbled something incomprehensible around the donut in his mouth, heading immediately down to the Warehouse floor, and striding purposefully down the aisles.
She threw open the curtain that covered the entrance to Claudia's work room, causing the girl inside to yelp in surprise at the intrusion.
Helena made no apologies for barging in.
"I just had to experience the death of my daughter," she said, her voice low and full of steel. "Again. And not even the same death. Now I have to remember Christina dying twice." Helena turned her head away, willing herself not to cry. Her voice cracked slightly as she turned back to a wide-eyed Claudia and said, "I will do absolutely everything in my power to help achieve the return of your Agent Jinks. Tell me what you need."
"Helena, we can't keep doing this," Myka muttered with a sigh.
"Doing what, darling?" was H.G.'s distracted response, as her fingers continued to keep trying to undo the buttons of Myka's shirt, even as Myka kept swatting her hands away.
Finally, using just one hand, Myka caught both of Helena's wrists and held them still. Reaching with her other hand, she gently tilted Helena's chin upward until they were staring eye-to-eye.
"Using sex as a crutch, whenever you're feeling sad or frustrated," she replied. The inventor said nothing, so Myka continued, even though her heart felt like it was about to beat right out of her chest.
"Helena, I love you."
Helena's eyes widened just slightly, but she gave no other reaction to Myka's words.
"Okay?" Myka continued, trying not to feel disheartened at the lack of response. "I really do. But this? I know you're in pain, but this habit we have of coming together just when you want to feel something other than the hurt inside? When you want to regain some control in your life? That's not what I want for us. We could be so much more."
Helena grit her teeth and pulled free from Myka's grasp. "And what would you rather have me do, darling? Be a submissive housewife who caters to your every whim?" Helena sneered.
Myka frowned, hurt. "I would never ask that of you. You should know better than to think that's what I want."
There was a long, uncomfortable silence between them before Myka went on softly. "I know you love me too. You don't have to say it back; I know it's true." Helena remained silent, crossing her arms irritably and turning her face to the side.
Myka stepped forward into Helena's personal space, reaching to cup Helena's cheek in her hand.
"Helena, you're allowed to be happy, sometimes," Myka insisted quietly, her brow knitting in concern.
Helena instantly stiffened, pulling back with an angry snarl. "I am not!" she exclaimed. "My daughter has been ripped violently from my side, Myka, and I can hope for her return, but happy?" Helena scoffed bitterly. "The word no longer holds any meaning for me."
Myka could feel her heart breaking for Helena, but had no idea how to help.
As if reading Myka's mind, Helena added, "You're a fixer. You crave order and rules, because they provide a world in which you can find sense. When there is no order, you aim to restore it. I understand, but your love is not some thread that can stitch me whole once again. Myka, you're a good person, but I am not worth your efforts."
Helena paused, turning to stare out the window, so her back now faced towards Myka. "But all right," she continued after a moment, "you desire for me to stop using sex as a crutch, as you said? It is done. You will be loath to comply, I imagine, but I would rather you left me alone for the moment."
Helena was right about one thing, at least: Myka had no absolutely no intention of complying with Helena's wish to be left alone.
Of course, the universe had a sense of humor, and chose just that moment to send Myka hurtling forward to the 21st century.
Pete was busy trying to look busy, since Artie was likely to show up sometime soon, when he noticed the flashing alert on Claudia's computer screen. He stood up so quickly that he knocked his chair over in the process.
"Okay," he murmured to himself. "Okay, what do I have to do? Find Helena!"
He lunged for the far side of the table, where his Farnsworth lay, snatching it up and flipping it open to call Claudia.
The two of them Claudia and H.G. had been thick as thieves lately. They were up to something, always whispering together and sharing looks. There had been no full-on bad vibes, yet, but the vibe-o-meter was on high alert. Pete had considered trying to figure out what was going on, but on the off-chance that it was some weird girly thing, he decided to just let them be.
Odds were a lot better that it was something genius-y which he probably wouldn't understand anyway. Pete was a smart guy, smarter than he usually got credit for, but he was perfectly willing to admit his inferiority when it came to Claudia Donovan and H.G. Wells. Besides, he trusted that they would come to him if they wanted him to know about whatever there was to know about.
Claudia wasn't answering her Farnsworth.
He knew they were somewhere in the Warehouse... But really, that was less than worthless; they could be anywhere.
After another moment of indecision, Pete tucked his Farnsworth into his pocket and then took off running towards the H.G. Wells aisle. According to Claudia and H.G.'s calculations, Myka wouldn't be sticking around for much time at all, this time. And this time might even be the last time.
As he rounded a corner, Pete came very close to crashing directly into Myka. She released a little squeal of surprise, but he reached his arms out to grab onto her shoulders, holding her at arms' length to stop himself from colliding into her just in time, and they spun around several times before Pete managed to halt his momentum.
"Myka!" he exclaimed, as soon as he was confident that they weren't going to topple over onto the ground. He pulled her in for a tight hug, and her bewildered expression softened as she hugged back with equal strength.
"Hey, Pete," she muttered affectionately into his shoulder.
He wanted to just keep hugging her, but he knew there wasn't time. He pulled away from her and got right to the point. "Okay. So, Claudia figured it out. And I'm sorry to make you do this, because I know this is really tough for you, and we didn't want to make you choose, but there's really no time for anything else." Or, maybe not so much with the getting right to the point.
Myka only looked confused, and Pete honestly couldn't blame her. "What are you talking about?" she asked.
"The artifact," he replied, gesturing frantically. "What's-his-name's postcard photo thing. Do you still have it?" They were running out of time, and he was screwing this all up. Pete was normally incredibly good under pressure, but this was Myka. The next few minutes or so would possibly determine if they ever saw each other again, and he was screwing it all up.
"Uh, not with me." Myka shook her head. "I don't need to have it on me to get transported."
"Okay, whatever." Pete took a deep breath, allowing himself this one pause to gather his thoughts. He had to get this right. "You have to make it change, Myka. You have to choose. Come home to us... or don't. I need you, Myka. But you have to need us back. The artifact shows what you're wishing for: you wished yourself back in time, and now you need to wish yourself back to us. It's the only way, I'm sorry."
Myka's expression grew increasingly stricken over the course of his little speech.
"I... I don't want to choose," she whispered.
"I know." He nodded sadly. "I'm sorry. But we need you here. All of us do. Oldy-H.G. is going to go crazy and get herself bronzed, no matter what you do. You have to know that. You can't save her, Mykes. Helena needs you here, now."
Myka flinched, before a look of total confusion crossed her face at his last sentence. "Helena needs me... What? Why would she need me here?"
Pete practically tore his hair out in frustration. "I'm an idiot!" he exclaimed. Of course, he'd forgotten to tell Myka the biggest selling point.
"Okay, you're not going to believe this, but..." Pete grinned. "H.G. is-"
And then Pete could only stare blankly ahead in disbelief. Because Myka was gone. Myka was gone.
"No!" he cried out in aggravation. He whirled and kicked one of the shelves, causing a few artifacts to rattle around.
The thought had occurred to him, of course, that he'd rather it not be the case that Myka only came back to them because of H.G... But he'd still gladly take it if she was the difference between getting Myka back and never seeing her again. He couldn't believe he'd forgotten to tell her.
He couldn't believe that might have been the last time he ever saw his partner.
Myka stood perfectly still when she first arrived back in London. She was confused. What had Pete been talking about?
It had seemed like he had some kind of news about Helena, but that simply made no sense.
Writing it off as Pete being weird, Myka thought about the rest of what he'd said as she began walking back to the Wells' house. She had to wish her way back... or maybe never see any of them ever again.
It was an impossible choice.
She was glad not to run into anyone when she entered the house, heading straight upstairs and to her room. Myka went immediately to her dresser, where the artifact lay tucked inside one of her books. She retrieved it, before going to sit on the edge of her bed.
So that was it; she had to make the image change. Even if she wanted to, Myka really had no idea how she'd do so. It hadn't been a conscious decision when she'd done it before.
Besides, she realized, she didn't actually want the image to change. That had nothing to do with her torn feelings about returning to the future or staying in the past; it was simply because Myka really liked the image that was shown. She didn't even really think of it as an artifact anymore. It was just a photograph the only photograph of the two of them. She treasured it, she realized, as a symbol of their time together. The happy times. So not only would Myka be consciously abandoning Helena, but she'd also lose the only real evidence that any of this had ever even happened.
Myka knew it was silly to feel so attached to a photograph, especially one that had still never been taken. But it was how she felt, and she couldn't shake it off. The deck was already stacked against the future.
Then an idea occurred to her.
She wasn't making any decisions one way or the other, she told herself. She was simply evening the deck.
It took her a little while to find it, but after a few minutes of rummaging through her things, she found her cell phone. It was turned off and had been stowed away at the bottom of a drawer, since it obviously was of no use here. But it still had some battery life left... And it had a camera.
Myka turned it on, then went and placed the artifact flat on her bed. As carefully as she could, she held her phone steady at a distance where the photograph fit perfectly within the frame of the camera. Then she snapped a picture.
There. Equal decks. Now she had something permanent, no matter where or when she ended up.
They were ready. They were really going to make it happen.
Claudia was excited and terrified in equal measure.
With H.G.'s help, they'd worked out the two final keys, which involved figuring out how to set the metronome uniquely on Steve. It seemed almost obvious, now, but the metronome needed to be set very precisely to tick at the same rate as Steve's average heart rate. Second, they'd realized the importance of a human connection, on a neural level; brain waves served as the metronome's power source.
So now they were ready. There was the minor issue of Steve currently being buried underground... But Claudia and H.G. were both fairly confident, that this first time, the metronome would transport Steve to itself, like they were magnets, forcibly drawn together.
"There's still time to stop all this," H.G. offered. "We still have no idea what the negative consequences of this artifact may be. There will be consequences, Claudia; you need to be aware of that going in. With artifacts of life and death, there always are." Her eyes said that she already knew Claudia would refuse, but she'd apparently felt the need to make the offer anyway.
Since that first day, when H.G. was filled with so much pain at having to re-live Christina's death in her dreams, H.G. had partially returned to her original opinion that they should "leave things well alone." But she'd promised Claudia that she would help, and she kept that promise.
"You came back to life without any consequences!" Claudia countered.
H.G. smirked, even though her heart clearly wasn't behind it. "Well I've always been quite special, darling," she said with a wink. Claudia huffed out a short laugh, before H.G. added, "There may very well be consequences in my case as well. We simply haven't discovered them as of yet."
Claudia did manage to somewhat seriously consider the options.
But no, there was really only one thing she could do at this point.
"I have to do this," she said solemnly, meeting H.G.'s steady gaze. "I have to at least try."
H.G. nodded, and Claudia was grateful for the nonjudgmental understanding in her eyes.
"Righty ho, then," the older woman said. She grinned, and Claudia would bet that, in spite of her strong reservations, H.G.'s growing excitement was real. They were both inventors, innovators, and even beyond the personal meaning for Claudia... If this actually worked, that meant they were about to do something extraordinary.
H.G. stood back, as Claudia took a seat and focused all her thoughts directly onto the metronome on the table before her. The little gray rod stood straight up in the air, immobile. It was Claudia's job now to make it move.
She thought about Steve; everything about him. From when they'd first met, all the way through that last terrible moment. There was nothing in her head except for him, as she stared intently at the metronome.
The rod quivered indecisively. Then slowly, achingly, it began to sway, settling into the appropriate rhythm.
Claudia sat back, shocked. A part of her had been certain that after everything, she wouldn't be able to make it start.
They waited, holding their breaths. Nothing happened.
Claudia began to despair, thinking it hadn't worked after all. Then she began to panic, as she had a sudden terrible image enter her head. What if they'd been wrong and Steve had now "woken up" inside his own coffin. What if...
Claudia whirled around, having no idea where H.G. was actually telling her to look.
And then she saw it. She saw him.
He was all shimmery at first, and it reminded her of how it had been with Joshua at first.
Steve was moving his mouth, but the words sounded like they were coming at them from behind a thick wall. Claudia didn't care. She finally emerged from her own shocked stupor and jumped up from her chair with a cry of unadulterated joy.
They had done it! Steve was alive!
Well, sort of, anyway. But he was becoming more solid, more real, by the second. Claudia practically jumped ahead the few steps it took until she was standing directly in front of him. She tentatively reached out her hand, palm facing outwards. Steve mirrored her action, and they brought their hands slowly together. Steve still wasn't fully there, though. Their palms touched, and although Claudia did feel something, a definite presence, her hand was able to continue pressing forward until their palms actually merged together. She quickly pulled her hand back, a little weirded out by the feeling.
Still, he was definitely growing more solid and less shimmery. A sudden coughing fit made Claudia take a step back and look away, but once it passed, she turned back to him, smiling so wide her mouth actually hurt.
Claudia wanted nothing more than to reach out and hug him and never let go, but even though he was looking pretty much like himself, she held back, unsure if it was okay to touch him yet.
She looked up into his face, but where she had expected to find joy and disbelief, there was only anxiety and sadness.
"Jinksy, it's me," she finally said. Did he not recognize her? "You're alive! We fixed the metronome, and everything's going to be okay now!"
Her bright grin faltered slightly when Steve merely looked down at the floor and shook his head sadly.
"Oh Claudia," he sighed, even as another sudden coughing fit overtook her. His voice still wasn't fully clear, but at least now she could understand it. He managed a slight smile at her, but there was no true happiness in it. "What have you done?"
Helena had observed the proceedings silently, standing a few steps removed from the other two. She'd never actually met Agent Jinks, but he looked to be a kind sort. Claudia absolutely adored him, and as far as Helena was concerned, that was enough of a character-reference.
Her wonderment at their success quickly faded into the background as soon as she noticed the pained expression on Agent Jinks' face. This was not the face of a man suddenly given another chance at life.
When Claudia started coughing, Helena turned to her in concern. She took a half-step forward, hand outstretched, but held back as the coughing subsided. She knew this had been a bad idea, but she'd helped Claudia go through with it anyway. She could understand how Claudia felt, of course she could... But now she only felt a heavy ball of anxiety and dread setting into her gut.
"Jinksy, it's me," Claudia finally exclaimed. She too must have noticed that all did not seem right. "You're alive! We fixed the metronome, and everything's going to be okay now!"
"Oh Claudia," the man said sadly. The ball in Helena's stomach grew heavier. "What have you done?"
Claudia looked simply bewildered. "What have I done?" she repeated. "I've saved your life, dude, so show a little gratitude!" She threw a mock punch towards his shoulder with an unsure little half-smile, clearly waiting and hoping for Agent Jinks to joke along. He didn't.
For the third time in as many minutes, hacking coughs broke from Claudia's throat. This time Helena did step forward, helping to hold her steady as the violent coughs shook her body. Jinks did the same, and their eyes met for the first time. The young man looked confused for a moment, probably trying to figure out who she was and what she was doing there, before his expression cleared as he placed her.
Helena shifted her attention back to Claudia, who was staring into her own hand. Helena looked over Claudia's shoulder, distraught to see that the younger woman was apparently coughing up blood.
Agent Jinks pulled back, running a hand over his face in alarm. "You have to stop the metronome, Claud," he urged. "You have to let me go."
"What are you talking about?" Claudia turned quickly to confront him, her face a picture of pain and bemusement. "Are you insane? I just brought you back! I'm not giving you up again!"
Helena had a horrible feeling that she knew where this was going, just before Agent Jinks confirmed her suspicions.
He stared at Claudia for a moment, a mixture of anxiety, pain, and love on his face. "If you bring me back, then it'll kill you," he told them softly. "Marcus told me about his metronome, Claud. Metronomes don't just move continuously in one direction; they go back and forth. Life comes with death. You can call someone back from the dead, but the person doing the calling has to sacrifice their own life to make it happen. It's going to literally kill you, Claudia! Look at you it's already started."
Claudia's skin was indeed growing pale, her pallor a stark contrast to the bright red blood that began to trickle out of her nose.
Claudia carelessly wiped the blood away, only creating a bigger mess. The nose bleed wasn't a strong one, at least not yet, but Helena hurried to pull out a handkerchief. She wiped the blood away and then pressed the cloth just below Claudia's nose, but it was as if the girl didn't even notice what Helena was doing. Helena had to manually move Claudia's arm, in order to get her to hold the handkerchief in place.
All the while, Claudia and Jinks simply stared at one another.
"It's not fair," Claudia muttered softly, a mere shadow of her normal, larger-than-life personality.
Agent Jinks smiled sadly. "I know. Life rarely is," he replied.
Claudia began coughing once again, but she shook her head, as if in denial of what was happening. "No, this can't be how this ends," she mumbled. "There's gotta be another way. I can still save you. I have to."
Helena closed her eyes for a moment, as Claudia's words struck a little too deeply. She knew these words well; she'd said them herself, a long time ago. Maybe not the exact same ones, but the sentiment they expressed was identical to her own attitude towards Christina's death.
"There is no other way," Jinks asserted. He'd grown remarkably calm, over the previous few minutes; he had clearly accepted his fate. "Claudia, listen to me." He reached out tentatively, growing more certain when his hand reached Claudia's shoulder and did not go through it. "I will not let you die for me. You know I won't. I'd just use the metronome again to bring you back, and then what? You want to get into a back-and-forth die-for-each-other battle? Because personally, I think that would bring nothing but incredible pain to us both."
Claudia began to cry.
Jinks' calm expression broke, and he too began to tear up, as he pulled Claudia to him in a tight embrace.
"You're going to do amazing things," he continued. "I'm so proud of you, Claud. And you've got so much ahead of you. So be amazing, okay? Do it for me."
Helena looked down at the floor, feeling awkwardly out of place.
"You need to stop the metronome. Please, Claudia. I'm so sorry, but you need to do it now, before it finishes the transfer between us." Agent Jinks tried to ease away from the embrace, but Claudia wouldn't let him go.
"I can't," she whispered into his chest, shaking her head. Claudia was extremely pale, now; frighteningly so.
Jinks looked over the top of Claudia's head to meet Helena's eyes.
"H.G., right?" he asked. She nodded. "This is a little awkward, to ask someone I just met. Well, I met you when you were Emily Lake, but neither of us were our true selves at that point. Anyway, will you could do this for me?"
"I am very sorry to only be meeting you under these circumstances," she said, "but yes, I will." Helena was acutely reminded of that moment in the forest, when they'd decided that Pete would destroy the Janus coin. It was strange, essentially being in the same situation, but from an entirely different perspective. She went to stand by the metronome.
Jinks nodded, satisfied.
"Wait, are you doing it now? Don't do it yet!" Claudia pulled back and turned towards Helena in a panic. Blood now streamed from her nose, but she paid it no mind.
"I'm so sorry, Claudia, but I don't think we can afford to wait much longer," Helena replied.
Claudia launched herself back into Agent Jinks' arms. "I'm glad we got to say a proper goodbye, even though it's hard this way," he murmured softly to her.
"I'll always miss you," she whispered. "I love you."
"I love you too."
With a last cry, Claudia pulled herself away, only to then throw herself into Helena's arms. "I'm sorry Steve, I can't watch," she muttered into Helena's shoulder.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," he said. "Now remember, Claud: be amazing for me. No, you know what? I know you'll be amazing. So just be happy." He took a deep breath, and then nodded to Helena. He was ready.
Helena could only hope that Claudia would forgive her for this.
With one arm wrapped tightly around Claudia's back, she reached with the other to stop the metronome's movement.
Although he was clearly in pain, Jinks didn't utter a sound. As a final act of kindness, he didn't let any pain reach Claudia's ears.
Myka wandered aimlessly through the streets of London.
She needed some time away from Helena, in order to clear her head and just think. Every time she even tried to think about what she wanted, past or future, all she had to do was look at Helena, and any further thought along those lines was immediately impossible. Because how could she look at Helena and think about leaving her? She couldn't, was the answer.
Even now, things weren't much better. Inevitably, without meaning to, her feet kept taking her right by one thing or another that would immediately make her think of Helena. There was Helena's favorite park, and there was the little restaurant where they'd had what Myka thought of as their first "date," and there was the spot where they'd found their first artifact together... There were reminders of Helena everywhere.
At the same time, though, she still couldn't get past the thought of never going home again. It was true that Helena's London was the place where Myka had spent most of her time, lately, but it was still just that Helena's London, not Myka's. It wasn't "home" in the way that South Dakota was.
And that on its own had to mean something important, because really: middle-of-nowhere, South Dakota versus London? There should have been no contest. But being at the Warehouse 13 with the team... That was still what came to mind when Myka thought about "home." If only Myka could take Helena with her, somehow. Damn paradoxes.
Myka had no idea what to do. She wondered if there was an artifact that could split her into two people.
That was the problem, really. As long as Myka remained indecisive, the past would win out. Because in order to wish her way back to the future, Myka knew that she would have to wish it with all of herself, not just half.
But she really didn't know if that were possible.
She knew perfectly well that she had to let Helena go through the motions, even though she knew they would fail. It was like it had been with Christina; in order to avoid a paradox, Helena needed to end up getting bronzed, so everything that helped serve a causal role in leading up to that moment had to happen as well.
So Myka would have to just sit idly by as Helena built her time machine, tried and failed to use it to save Christina, tried and failed to save her two more times with artifacts, killed an agent in the process (would it be Wolcott? Myka really hoped it wouldn't), lost her mind, and then ended up volunteering to get locked up in bronze for over a century.
The thought of simply watching all of that happen was enough to make Myka want to run for the hills or run for the future, rather. But then she'd come back to the thought of abandoning Helena to go through it all by herself, and Myka would call herself a coward and change her mind yet again. It was impossible. She wished someone would just take the decision out of her hands and make the choice for her.
Myka sat at a café she'd never been to before, one that wouldn't remind her of H.G. for any reason. She ordered some tea having grown tired of the strange looks she got when ordering coffee, she'd found that she did actually like tea quite a bit and pulled out the artifact. Although she knew she didn't need to, she'd taken to carrying it around everywhere with her once again, like she had when she'd first found it.
It felt like such a long time ago, now. Since time seemed to move differently in either century, it was difficult to wrap her head around how long this had been going on, but at least from the earlier perspective, it had now been approximately ten months since that first day that she met Helena.
She wondered if there would be some kind of expiration date on how long she would still be able to wish herself back. Could she stick around in the past until Helena was bronzed, and then do it?
Myka sighed. She liked rules. She liked order. She liked rationality.
All of that was gone.
There appeared to be no rules, here, in this strange version of her life; she'd mostly given up on any real sense of order; and she'd never been good at being rational when it came to one Helena G. Wells. Not to mention the fact that she wasn't even sure what the rational choice was, in this case.
Indecision meant that the past won, Myka knew. But she had no idea how to do anything else.
"Helena, what are we doing?" Wolcott asked as he kept pace beside her.
Helena ignored him, keeping her eyes on the curly-haired woman a fair bit ahead of them, as she meandered in a seemingly purposeless route.
Something was going on with Myka, Helena knew. She wanted to know what.
Ever since she'd returned from her latest brief jaunt into the future, Myka who had spent the previous few months being nothing but attentive, comforting, and over-protective had become quite distracted, flitting back and forth between a distant independence and a near-desperate craving to be near Helena.
It made her suspicious, and although it disconcerted her to think that she was essentially spying on her lover, Helena had found herself becoming paranoid. Better to see with her own eyes that there was no cause for alarm, and then Helena could put the issue behind her.
"Is that Miss Bering?" Wolcott now asked. He looked as though he was about to call out to her, but Helena managed to push him into a side-alley and shush him before he did anything foolish and got them caught.
"Do be quiet, will you?" she said in frustration. "She doesn't know that we are following her, and I would very much like to keep it that way."
She looked back around the corner; she could still see Myka, but only just. They'd have to hurry in order to not lose sight of her.
Wolcott appeared puzzled, but continued walking along with her as she beckoned to him. "I did not know we were following her either," he commented. "Why are we following Miss Bering?"
"No need to be concerned, Wooly," she replied with a warm smile, hoping he wouldn't question her any further. He looked as if he might, but then appeared to think better of it.
Myka eventually stopped at a small café. It was lucky that she chose to sit outside, for Helena and Wolcott were able to find a table at the neighboring restaurant's outside terrace.
It didn't appear as though Myka were waiting for anyone. She simply sat, drinking tea, staring at something in her hands. Unfortunately, Helena couldn't see well enough to know what the item was.
They hadn't waited very long before Helena began to feel disgusted with herself. What was she doing? Ever since she'd first shown up, Myka had been nothing but wonderful, and yet here Helena was, spying on her.
She stood up abruptly, almost not caring whether Myka noticed her or not, and quickly walked back in the direction from which they'd come. Flustered, Wooly quickly paid their bill and then hurried after her.
"Did we accomplish what we were aiming to?" he asked her calmly.
"Yes," she said, even though she wasn't fully sure what she'd been aiming for in the first place. "Now come along, Wolcott, we shall return to the Warehouse. My latest invention is nearing completion."
She put Myka out of her mind. Soon it would be time for Helena to save her daughter. Nothing else mattered.
Something had gone wrong, but Pete was totally out of the loop. After becoming practically joined at the hip, H.G. and Claudia were now acting all weird around each other.
Helena kept looking at Claudia sadly, while the redhead had started acting almost manic, constantly needing something to do. Well, whenever she was even around, that is, because lately she'd been throwing herself into Caretaker stuff a lot more often. Apparently, she'd soon be ready to "graduate," or whatever.
Other than that, Helena mostly moped around Artie's office, poking her head in every nook and cranny until Artie got annoyed and snapped at her. Then she would go wander around the Warehouse floor, keeping to herself.
"Where does Myka show up when she comes back here?" she asked him out-of-the-blue one morning at breakfast.
"Uh... the aisle with all your stuff," he replied.
She smiled at that.
When they got to the Warehouse, Pete settled in for a full day of paperwork after the latest snag, bag, and tag. Artie had been there too, but of course, he'd delegated all the busy work to Pete.
H.G. went directly out to the Warehouse floor without saying anything.
It was hours later when Pete started to wonder where Helena had disappeared to. Given her question that morning, he had a pretty decent guess, so went off in search of her. Sure enough, she was sitting on her own in the H.G. Wells aisle.
"How very 'meta' of you," he called out with a smile as he approached.
She turned to look over her shoulder at him, wearing her I-don't-know-what-that-means face. "I do wish you'd all just speak English more often," she said with a sigh.
"But where's the fun in that?" he asked. "Way better to speak modern American and actually feel smarter than you for once," he concluded with a wink.
She explained that she'd re-worked her calculations and had determined that there was a chance Myka might still come back to them one more time. It would only be for a few moments, though, so she'd basically decided to camp out and wait.
Pete hurried back to the office to gather up his paperwork, then called everyone else to let them know the news.
One by one, they all came.
Artie was next, with Trailer at his side. He immediately left again to go get a chair when he saw that Helena had one, while Pete lay sprawled across the floor. Then it was Claudia. She smiled shyly at Helena, and it was like they communicated some truce with their eyes, because Helena wordlessly stood up and gave the junior agent a warm hug before re-settling into her chair. Claudia had also brought a quilt and a deck of cards with her, which made the gathering both more comfortable and more entertaining. Finally, Leena joined them as well. Pete and Claudia threw out a cheer when she turned the corner bearing two pizza boxes.
Now all they needed was Myka. It would never be complete without Myka.
Myka was in the middle of agonizing over her future yet again, when she was surprised to feel the tell-tale tingling. For one brief moment, she thought that maybe she'd actually done it and made the artifact change. She was still equally indecisive, though, so that didn't make any sense.
However, she quickly realized that it was probably just one more (one last?) time getting thrown back and forth.
When Myka first opened her eyes, she was totally taken aback by the unexpected sight in front of her. Usually there was no one there when she arrived, and it took her a second to even make any sense of the jumble of people before her. Trailer thumped his tail against the ground when he saw her, but everyone else appeared to be asleep.
She smiled as she looked at everyone, tears immediately springing to catch in the corner of her eyes. Pete and Claudia were on the floor, slumped against each other. Artie snored softly, his head tilted back towards the ceiling. Leena was also on the floor, leaning back against another chair. And in that chair there was someone else, wrapped tightly up in a blanket and only slightly visible, since her head was angled down and to the side.
It almost looked like... But that was impossible.
Myka blinked, but when she opened her eyes again, she was suddenly back in London. There'd been no tingling this time. No invisible hand reaching inside her chest, nothing pulling her forward. There'd been nothing at all. It felt final, like the artifact was now done with her.
She didn't move, even as busy Londoners continued to bustle about her. She couldn't get her mind off that last person in the chair. It couldn't have been... Helena had died; Myka had watched her die. There was simply no way that it had been her. Right?
But who could it have been? Had they actually recruited a new agent to replace her? The thought made Myka feel sick.
In any case, her mind was clearly taking an ambiguous situation and filling in the blanks with a leap of wishful thinking, no matter how impossible. That had to be it.
It hadn't been Helena. Obviously. It simply couldn't have been.
They hadn't meant to all fall asleep like that. With a lump in her throat, Claudia ran to go get the durational spectrometer as soon as she'd woken up and realized what had happened.
H.G. and Leena were just waking up when she returned, even as the boys slept on.
Claudia didn't say anything; just exchanged an anxious look with the other two as she turned the machine on and pointed it into the air in front of them.
There was nothing at all for a while. But then there she was. Myka suddenly appeared, clearly surprised to see them all there. Just before she disappeared again, a look of shocked confusion crossed her face. And then she was gone again. She'd been there for exactly 4.37 seconds. That was it.
Helena stood up from her chair, her face pale. She looked like she might be sick.
The writer didn't say a single word; she simply turned around and walked away.
Claudia moved to follow after H.G., but Leena wrapped a hand around her arm to stop her.
"Give her some space," Leena urged.
Claudia thought about going ahead anyway, but after a moment, she stepped back with a nod.
She did understand that H.G. would probably want to be alone right now. She might have just lost her last chance to see the woman she loved.
Tears were streaming unchecked down Helena's face by the time she made it outside the Warehouse.
She was close to hyperventilating, so stood still a moment, bending at the waist to place her hands on her knees as she tried to regain control of her breathing. After a minute, she straightened and headed directly for Pete's car.
Driving still made her somewhat nervous, though of course she'd never admit it to anyone, but right now she simply needed to get away. She also happened to know that Pete actually kept his keys inside the car, because otherwise he tended to lose track of them. Pete could get a ride with Arthur later.
With trembling hands, Helena started the ignition and then gunned the engine, driving away from the Warehouse as quickly as she dared.
She drove aimlessly at first. After nearly becoming quite lost, however, she simply returned to Leena's. She parked the car crookedly, not bothering to care.
Helena quickly climbed the stairs, thinking to go directly to her own room. She stopped, however, outside Myka's door. No one had changed anything, she knew, other than moving Pete-the-ferret's cage into Leena's room. Since Helena had returned from the dead, however, she hadn't once gone inside. It was a combination of respect for Myka's privacy and self-preservation she did not want to pick at an open wound.
The wound would never fully heal now. So she saw no harm in making it hurt a little more.
Before she could second-guess herself, she pushed the door open, quickly closing it behind her. She leaned up against the door, eyes sweeping around the room. It was just as she'd remembered it from before.
Her eyes were instantly drawn to Myka's nightstand. She gasped out loud and rushed over. Myka had managed to save her locket. Helena pressed her open hand to her chest, where the locket normally rested. She'd longed to have it with her again, but hadn't dared to ask. She had simply assumed that it was destroyed.
She settled the locket around her neck, exhaling deeply in satisfaction. The cool touch of metal against her skin was oh so familiar; it was just a small thing, but she felt more like herself, now. More complete.
With that done, she stood up and walked slowly around the room, softly running her fingertips over everything. Helena rolled her eyes at herself, but it was actually the sight of a layer of dust covering the surface of Myka's bookcase that set Helena off crying again.
One book stuck out slightly, as it wasn't lined up flush with the others. Helena only cried harder when she saw what it was.
Carefully, she removed The Time Machine from its spot. She didn't open it at first; simply went and lay down on Myka's bed, hugging the book tightly to her chest as she stared up at the ceiling. Was this the last book Myka had read, then? It seemed likely.
Once her tears had dried enough for her to actually see, she finally sat up and opened the book. She didn't read it, she practically knew the words by heart; instead, she looked for any markings Myka may have made, a gateway into this amazing woman's mind. Did she underline any sections that she particularly liked? Did she make any comments in the margins?
Helena heard the rest of "the gang" enter the Bed & Breakfast, but she paid them no mind. She concentrated her entire being on Myka. All she wanted in that moment was Myka.
As she continued to flip reverently through the pages, something fell from within the book and down onto Helena's lap. She picked it up to look at it. She didn't give it all that much attention, but something managed to squeeze into her subconscious, and she did a quick double take, before continuing to stare at it, bewildered. It had certainly gained her attention now.
It was a photograph. A photograph of her and Myka. One she'd never seen before; more than that, it was one that had never been taken, so far as she knew.
They were smiling, happy, and together. It was everything Helena wanted for them to simply be together, permanently this time. No more time travel or death getting in the way.
At first, all she could do was stare at the photograph, as if doing so would make the image come into being. Then a bit of memory sparked Myka's artifact had also been a photograph, had it not? Was this the same artifact? What could it mean, especially now that Helena suddenly found it in her possession?
The questions flew by quickly, but no answers were immediately forthcoming.
Suddenly, Helena's concentration was broken by a loud commotion coming from the floor below.
Claudia's voice rang out.
Myka was almost back to the Wells' residence when she noticed that it was gone. The artifact. She kept it in the inside pocket of her jacket, now, always. But now it wasn't there.
She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, searching frantically through all of her pockets. Nothing. Where could it have gone?
She ran into the house, taking the stairs two at a time as she rushed to her bedroom. She searched through her drawers. She flipped through the pages of her books. She glanced around her closet, checked other pockets, checked under the bed. Still nothing.
Had she lost it? Had it simply disappeared when it brought her back this last time? No, she refused to accept that it was gone. If there was going to be any chance at all of her ever wishing her way back home, then she needed to actually have the artifact! Didn't she?
Myka could feel herself beginning to panic. She wasn't at all ready to make a choice, but it felt incredibly important that she at least have a choice.
"Myka, what is going on?"
She whirled around to face the doorway, where Helena now stood, a concerned expression on her face.
"I can't find my artifact," she answered quickly. "Have you seen it?"
Helena frowned, shaking her head. "I'm sorry, no."
Myka turned back, continuing to rummage around, even searching again through places she'd already looked.
She stood up straight and stiffened, though, when she felt something, like a low voltage shock, run through her body. She turned around again, looking at Helena in confusion.
"What is it?" the other woman asked.
"I... I don't know. It was-" She paused, going motionless again. Her skin was tingling again, but it felt different. There were short bursts of it, localized in small spots all over her body. There would be one on her arm, then her leg, then her shoulder... They sped up, until soon her whole body was tingling. It wasn't painful; just strange.
Myka looked up and met Helena's worried expression, fear now starting to spread through her.
"Something's happening to me. I... I don't know what's happening," she said.
Helena stepped forward and reached to cup Myka's cheek in her palm. Myka leaned into the touch, even as the tingling grew more intense. It definitely had never been like this before. Whatever was happening, it was new.
She held tightly onto Helena's shirt, with no idea what to expect. She instantly calmed, however, as Helena leaned forward and kissed her. It was possibly the softest, gentlest kiss they'd shared since the very first one, and Myka unconsciously relaxed, leaning into Helena's body for support.
Then, with no additional warning, Myka disappeared.
When Myka opened her eyes, she could only blink several times in confusion. She was standing in front of Leena's Bed & Breakfast.
She simply stood there at first, waiting to see if something else would happen. Nothing did.
She could hear voices coming from within the building, so with a shrug, she simply went and let herself inside.
Claudia saw her first. "Holy shit!" she called out, before laughing out loud and running to swing Myka around in a tight hug.
"Watch your language, young l-" Artie began chiding Claudia but stopped short as soon as he saw Myka.
Leena peered around at them next, a shocked but happy smile covering her face after a moment of pure surprise. "Myka," she exclaimed warmly, "How did you get here?"
Myka shrugged, laughing. Claudia still hadn't let go of her. "I have no idea," she answered. A part of her already ached for Helena, but there was no denying how wonderful it felt to be here.
Tears sprang to Myka's eyes as Pete appeared. He rushed forward, pulling Artie and Leena with him, and soon all five of them were wrapped up in a big group hug, everyone laughing and crying in equal measure. They had all thought that they'd never see each other again, but against the odds, here they were. And although Myka couldn't explain it, it felt permanent, somehow, like this was it.
A small, choked noise came from somewhere behind Myka's right shoulder. Without thinking much of it, she twisted around to look.
It felt like all of the air left her lungs in an instant.
Helena stood at the top of the stairs.
The two women stared at each other, twin expressions of disbelief on their faces.
The other four released her, squeezing her hand or shoulder in comfort, but Myka barely noticed. She couldn't take her eyes off of Helena.
Myka found that she couldn't seem to move, but ever-so-slowly, Helena walked down the stairs, until they stood face to face. Myka's hand twitched, wanting to reach out, but she was too afraid.
"Are... Are you really here?" she asked in a hushed whisper.
Helena smiled, tears sparkling in her eyes. "Yes," she nodded. "Are you?"
Myka choked out a laugh. "Yeah, I think so," she replied. "How...?"
Helena's smile grew even wider. "Not even death can kill me, apparently."
It made no sense, but Myka didn't care. There would be time later for detailed explanations. Now, there was only one thing that she wanted to do, and nothing else was important.
So with only the briefest hesitation, Myka surged forward, bringing her hands up to cradle Helena's face as their lips crashed together. This kiss wasn't about soft gentleness; she poured everything she felt all the longing, and relief, and love, and bewilderment, and heartache into that kiss. Helena returned the kiss with the same intensity, a soft whimper falling from her mouth at first contact.
Claudia cheered in the background, even as Artie grumbled at her to not look.
"Seriously, dude? I'm their number one fan! Pete's the one who shouldn't look, that perv."
In a lot of ways, this was like a first kiss all over again. Kissing Helena, this version of her, wasn't quite like it had been in the past. It was familiar, yes, but noticeably different. Because this Helena was different. She wasn't all smirking confidence, un-tinged by darkness, like she had been when Myka first went back in time. But neither was she lost in bitter grief and anger, as she'd been after Christina's death.
This Helena had been through hell, but she'd emerged from the other side. She still had the scars, but she was whole.
This Helena tasted like home.
Then Myka pulled back and slugged Helena on the arm. Helena's mouth fell open in surprise at her quick turn in fortune.
"Don't you ever die for me again, you hear me?!" Myka exclaimed.
Helena rolled her eyes. "Right. Ever so sorry for saving your life," she grumbled peevishly.
Then, of course, there was nothing else that Myka could do but lean forward and bring their lips together once more. Helena probably felt like she was experiencing whiplash, but Myka couldn't help it.
"How about, none of us should be watching this," Myka heard Leena say. "Come on, guys, let's give them some privacy."
Pete scoffed. "Yeah right," he said. "The time traveling lovebirds can make out later. Group hug attack!"
Myka had barely registered what anyone was saying, as she was focused solely on Helena the feel of her arms, wrapped tightly around Myka, the taste of her lips, the sound of the soft sighs that Helena released... There was nothing else in the world, as far as Myka was concerned.
Until, that is, two more bodies came running into them. Pete managed to hold them all upright after impact, his long arms extending around all of them. Helena pulled back from the kiss with a laugh of pure joy, settling for kissing Myka on the cheek. Pete then kissed her on the other cheek, as did Claudia.
Everyone was talking over each other in excitement, but amidst it all, Myka and Helena locked eyes on each other.
"Welcome home, Myka."
More than hearing the actual words, Myka read Helena's lips. It was just like that last horrible moment, when the bomb had been about to go off. Myka closed her eyes a moment, needing a second to collect herself.
When she opened them, Helena was still staring directly at her. Her warm smile was so happy and beautiful... It took Myka's breath away, just looking at it. Myka forgot everything else, then, and reached across the small circle they'd settled into. Bunching the front of Helena's shirt in both of her hands, Myka pulled the other woman to her, ignoring the others. Helena smiled even brighter, just before their lips crashed together once again.
Leena must have managed to usher everyone else out of the room, this time, because when Myka opened her eyes again, it was only the two of them. Sounds of laughter came from the direction of the kitchen.
Neither one of them said anything.
Helena took Myka's hand in her own and tangled their fingers together, as Myka reached to caress Helena's cheek. She couldn't stop touching Helena; making sure she was still really there. Helena kept her eyes on Myka, but turned slightly so she could kiss the heel of Myka's open palm.
It was crazy, when Myka thought about it, how far they'd both come just to make it to this spot. Right here, right now.
Myka smiled. She wouldn't change any of it for the world.
"Hurry up, Helena, or we're going to miss our flight!"
Myka knocked yet again on the bathroom door. One of Helena's favorite things about the 21st century was actually the advancements in personal hygiene there was no such thing as a "quick" shower, as far as Helena was concerned.
"Just a moment, darling!" Helena called through the door.
Myka sighed, before yelping in surprise when the door, which she'd been leaning against, suddenly opened, and Helena pulled her inside.
She could only blink, dazed. Her eyes traveled slowly up and down Helena's body because yes, Helena was just standing there, practically posing, naked.
Myka groaned when her eyes reached her girlfriend's smirking face. That look meant danger. They didn't have time for danger. And yet still, Myka could only watch as Helena sauntered forward, swaying her hips way more than was necessary. Helena bit her lip, silently daring Myka to stop her, before she leaned in and pressed her naked body, still dripping from the shower, up against Myka and great, now her clothes were going to be wet, and she'd have to change outfits.
"Helenaaa," Myka whined, even as her arms involuntarily wrapped around Helena's waist.
"I am quite certain," Helena mumbled as she kissed the thundering pulse point in Myka's neck, making her way slowly down to Myka's shoulder, "that the Caretaker of Warehouse 13 has the authority to delay a flight for... say an hour? Claudia can do it in a second."
"We can't," Myka began, even while she urged Helena's mouth back upward so she could meet it with her own, "make Claudia delay our flight just so we can have sex, Helena." She spoke between kisses, moaning as Helena's fingernails raked through her hair. "I'm 'quite certain' that that's an unethical use of Claudia's authority."
"It's not having sex, darling," Helena corrected with a smirk. "We are always making love."
Myka grinned. "You're such a sap."
Somehow, the moment of levity was enough for Myka to regain control. She nipped once more at Helena's lips, but then stepped away, kissing Helena on the cheek as she continued, "I'm not making Claudia delay our flight for that either. So hurry your pretty self up, and then we'll be on our way."
With that, she lightly tapped Helena on the ass and then left the bathroom to go find some dry clothes that weren't already packed.
They were flying to London. Bit by bit, they'd been doing a lot of the things that Myka had done with Helena while she'd been back in time. Well, the good things, anyway. That way, Helena could now feel like she had really done all those things, instead of some other person, only vaguely related to herself. They made new memories, this way, together.
They'd be gone for a full month, having practically annoyed Artie to death until he relented and granted them vacation time. They'd be knocking a lot of things off their list, going from London to Sandgate to Paris to Saint-Nazaire, and then back to London for a few days before flying home. Myka was somewhat worried that this trip would bring back a lot of difficult memories, memories of Christina, but she knew they'd get through it. They had each other, so they could get through anything.
Myka rolled her eyes at herself. She was a sap, too.
In any case, they were both looking forward to some time off together.
It actually didn't take very long before Helena was ready to go. As was their tradition, they both kissed the tips of their fingers, and then pressed them to the framed photograph, before they left the room. It was the artifact as it had appeared to Helena that day. They'd eventually figured out how it had happened just as Myka had earlier made a strong enough wish to see Helena again, so too had Helena made her wish to bring Myka back home for good.
Claudia had made them a special frame that periodically coated the photograph with neutralizer, keeping it inactive. Somewhere in the Warehouse, there was a spot on a shelf with the tag, "John Hinde's Postcard." Where the artifact would normally be, however, there was simply a note: "On indefinite loan to Leena's Bed & Breakfast."
After a few last requests and unsolicited bits of advice (Claudia: "Bring me back something good!"; Pete: "Try not to be too disgustingly sweet together all the time. I know you've got your epic time traveling love and all that, but you'll be in actual public now. We don't want people to start dying off from an overload of cuteness."), they were finally ready to go.
Claudia was loaning them her driver, who came automatically with the Caretaker job, whether Claudia had any real need for him or not.
They settled together into the back seat of the car, fingers intertwined, ready for the next adventure.
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