See Part 1 for header info
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.