Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
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. From her reported description, I know he utilized a very specific style of fighting, as well. Kempo. This Mr. Davies 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.
Click for Part 8