DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ariadni.mou[at]gmail.com
SPOILERS: Season 2. Set before Buried.
Women's Equality Day
Helena carefully picked up the white envelope that leaned against her tea mug in Artie's office. The one that said 'Course I'm Bloody British on it. The envelope was high quality, she noted as she felt it between her fingers. It was the kind she used to have back in the days of calling cards and personalized stationery correspondence. There was no doubt that it was for her. It had her name in bold letters on the outside. What confused Helena was who it might be from, and why. With the exception of a loving little note from Myka she had never received a card or letter of any kind since awakening in this modern world.
Helena sat down and held the envelope as if it was a precious gift. Finally she made up her mind and slipped a pen, for lack of better utensil, under the flap and opened it. It had a card inside. It was colorful, Helena noted as she slipped it out. She laughed at the image of two surly looking women in frumpy dresses on the outside. They were not exactly Victorian, but they were certainly more familiar looking than any woman she would meet on the street these days.
"Interesting," Helena mumbled as she read what it said on the picket sign the woman on the left was holding up. The other woman's sign about the questionable use of brassieres made her laugh out loud. "Not wearing undergarments is much overrated," she mumbled in response to the words on the sign.
She opened the card and read the text inside. Her fingers instinctively went to her lips as a tiny little gasp escaped.
Happy Women's Equality Day, HG.
Thanks for the pants.
Helena laughed and shook her head. "You're very welcome my dear," she mumbled. "Though I am certain that you would look very lovely in a dress."
"Yo mama," Pete said and entered the office. "Ready to hit the road?"
Helena rolled her eyes and chuckled. "You are an odd man Pete."
"True, but more in a unique, as in one-of-a-kind way, than complete weirdo, if you ask me."
"I did not ask," she mumbled.
"Ouch, that hurt, HG," he said and clutched his chest.
"For God's sake, Pete," she said and shook her head. She looked behind him. "Where is Myka?"
"She and Claudia left a while ago. Didn't she tell you?"
Helena shook her head. "No."
Pete put his arm around her shoulders and steered her in the direction of the door. "If we don't get out of here Artie will find something for us to do."
"That is certain," Helena agreed. "Well, no dawdling," she added, chipper, and walked ahead of him down the exit tunnel.
To Helena's relief, Myka's car was sitting outside Leena's. Pete parked next to it and he and Helena walked in comfortable silence towards the inn. He held the door for her and she chuckled.
"Such a gentleman," she teased. "I thought that custom, like many others, had died a long time ago."
"We kept the good stuff," Pete said and smiled at her.
Helena climbed the stairs looking at Pete over her shoulder. "You know, back in the old days it would've been very bad taste for a man to walk behind a lady up the stairs. She would be following him."
"I won't check out your ass. I promise," he said and winked at her.
Helena sighed. "Good lord."
Pete grinned at her and continued down the hall to his room. "See ya later."
Helena smiled and nodded. She entered the room that she shared with Myka. To her surprise the room was empty. She put her boots by the door and slipped out of her jacket. As she passed the dresser she noticed yet another envelope with her name on it. She quickly snatched it up. It was the same high quality as the other one, though this one was thicker, as if there was something inside. Helena impatiently tore it open and pulled out the card. It had a picture of two Victorian ladies having tea. Happy Women's Equality Day was printed at the top of the card. Helena smiled at the familiar looking image. It felt almost like stepping back in time. She carefully opened the card and read the message.
"Oh darling," Helena whispered and sniffled. She wiped away a tear and put the card on the dresser. As she put the envelope down next to it she felt that there was something else inside. She poured the contents into her hand. She turned the round keychain over and burst out laughing. It said Bloody Hell.
"Bloody Hell indeed. I wonder what brought this on."
Keychain in hand Helena strolled downstairs. No one was in the living room so she continued to the kitchen. To her surprise the door was closed and there was a sign on it telling everyone to stay out or Leena would curse the person who dared to enter. Below was another envelope with Helena's name on it. Helena frowned as she carefully pulled it off and went back to the living room. She opened it and read the card.
Helena laughed and nodded. "Yes, I believe I would."
Helena poured herself a drink and sat down on the sofa. She noted a small pile of books sitting on the coffee table. She put her drink down and picked up the stack. She grinned as she recognized some of the authors. It did not take long for her to notice a pattern.
"George Sand, Selma Lagerlf, Anaïs Nin, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou," Helena mumbled as she read the authors' names.
Picking one she was not familiar with she settled in to read, now and then sipping her drink. The story was intriguing and Helena soon lost track of time. She looked up when Claudia walked in.
"HG, hi," she said and grinned at Helena.
"Hello, darling. Thank you for the lovely card."
"Oh, that was nothing," Claudia mumbled.
Helena watched Claudia as she continued into the dining room and started to set the table. She put her book down and got up.
"Let me help you," Helena offered.
Claudia held up both hands, palms facing Helena. "Stop, sit," she said and laughed when Helena gave her a look. "You're not to do anything today."
Helena's shoulders slumped. "Why not? Did I not do it right the other day?"
"Of course you did," Claudia said and steered Helena back to the sofa. "Just enjoy having the night off, okay?" she smiled and handed Helena the book again.
Claudia set the table while chatting about her latest hacking efforts with Helena. Helena chuckled at Claudia's excitement over finding the information she had been looking for. She did not quite understand everything Claudia was saying, but it did not matter to her. She just enjoyed listening to Claudia. The girl was bubbling with energy and her giddiness was rubbing off on Helena.
"Guess that's it," Claudia muttered and straightened out a napkin. "Okay, gotta run back to the kitch or Leena will have a cow. Need anything?" she said and looked at Helena.
"No thanks, darling."
Claudia smiled and took off. Helena returned to her story and was soon lost in the intricate tale.
"Hi honey," Myka said and smiled at Helena.
"Darling," Helena got up held out her arms to Myka.
Myka wrapped her arms around Helena and kissed her. "Happy Women's Equality Day Helena."
"What's this fuss about?" Helena said and made a face. "I've never heard of this holiday."
Myka grinned. "It's not a huge one like Independence Day or something, but it's very important to us," she said and cupped Helena's face. "Because of you. Now come, have a seat. The others are on the way."
"Are you going to explain all of this at some point?" Helena muttered, still confused.
"Promise," Myka said cheerfully.
The others filed in and took their seats. Myka poured the wine while dishes were passed around. When everyone was settled Myka raised her glass.
"I'd like to propose a toast to Helena," she said and smiled at Helena. "Today we celebrate and recognize the struggle for equal rights for women. Here in the United States it culminated with the passage of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution, in 1920 - granting women the right to vote. Thanks to women like you Helena, Susan B. Anthony, and numerous others, we can today pursue our dreams. I am a Secret Service Agent because of you," Myka said and smiled fondly at Helena.
"I can go to college thanks to you," Claudia mumbled a little embarrassed.
"I share the same rights in more ways than one, thanks to you," Leena said and smiled.
Helena blinked her tears away as she slowly nodded. "It was one of my most important battles. There were so many things I was not allowed to do back then. Some of them I managed to fight, or I decided that the price to pay was worth it. Watching other, less fortunate women who shared the world I lived in, seeing how they struggled, or in many cases lacked any sense of ambition beyond marriage and having children, I felt the need to do something, burning like a hot flame inside me."
Myka smiled and nodded. "Today women can reach the stars because of what you did. What you fought for. You fought for us," she said and looked at Claudia and Leena. "You fought for the first female astronaut, the first politician, for women to be doctors, and professors, for the right to own property and to make decisions over their own lives and bodies. We can now claim having the same rights as men. You have come a lot closer to your Utopia, Helena." She held up her glass higher. "To Helena."
A mumbled "to Helena" and clinking glasses surrounded Helena as she sat stunned at the table. She tapped her glass against the ones offered before sipping her wine. She put her glass down and cleared her throat. She looked around the table at these people that she now called friends, family even.
"I was merely one small pawn in the greater scheme of things," Helena said and smiled. "It was women like Ms. Anthony who really made a difference. You have to remember, my fight was done behind the convenient cover of my brother's image. I used the fame we had created through my books. The sad truth was that Helena Wells, the woman, had almost no power, or any impact on British society."
"You still did it," Claudia objected. "Do you really think Charles would've fought for women's rights if you had not pushed him to?"
Helena chuckled and, affectionately touched Claudia's cheek. "No sweetheart, he would not have. You are right."
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do," Myka quoted.
"How true," Helena whispered. "But exceedingly hard to do."
"Eleanor Roosevelt said that. She was our First Lady during World War II. She was an amazingly brave and loving woman."
"I've heard of her, but I don't know much about her," Helena confessed. "She seems to be someone I would enjoy learning more about."
"You should," Myka agreed. "You know, a great woman once spoke up against injustice against women," Myka said and winked at Helena. "But women may be free in theory and not in practice, and as long as they suffer from their economic inferiority, from the inability to produce as much value as a man for the same amount of workand there can be no doubt of this inferiority--so long will their legal and technical equality be a mockery," she quoted.
Helena chuckled and nodded as she recognized the words she had penned so long ago. "It saddened me and also angered me. Yet I could not help but harbouring hope for the future," she and sighed. "As much work there is still left for complete equality, humanity truly has come a long way since the 1890s."
"Yeah, and the food is better," Pete exclaimed and took another bite of his steak.
Helena laughed and nodded. She looked at each of them as the conversations flowed easily around the table. This mixed group of people from all walks of life was truly coming together as a new family. Perhaps she had really found her Utopia? Helena kissed Myka on the cheek. "Thank you darling. You are my Utopia."