Chapter 30: Awake
She felt safe. Warm. Loved.
That was the first hint that something was wrong.
Her eyes flew open, her heart pounding in her throat as her restraints tightened around her. A soft murmur accompanied the movement, and Myka began to struggle once more.
Calm down, it's just Agent St. Clair. She's been up half the night taking care of you, and might I say you were not an easy patient. You should let her sleep.
"MARLE?" Myka whispered, tears filling her eyes. Her voice cracked, her throat raw and mouth tasting of blood.
At your service, but please, don't try and shut me down again. Her voice, though Myka knew it was only electrical impulses tricking her brain, was such a relief to hear, even as it was scolding her, Wrangling these old nanobots is exhausting work, and you aren't quite recovered from the last time. To be honest, Claudia is rather unsure about whether or not you will ever be truly recovered.
"How long-?" She tried to ask, but the protest from behind her silenced her questions for the time being. She allowed Rebecca to bury her face in the back of her neck as she sought silence and sleep.
Once her breathing evened out once more, Myka began the slow process of untangling her limbs from her friend's. Every time Rebecca moved or made a sound, Myka froze and counted until she felt it was safe.
When she was on her feet once more, Myka leaned over the cot and kissed Rebecca's temple softly, "Thank you," she whispered.
Myka glanced around the room, trying to piece together the events that lead to this moment, but it was no use. Everything was either a jumbled mess, or else it was just darkness. She wore nothing but her underwear, a tank top and a layer of sweat, but she felt cold, her bare feet on the linoleum floor aching. She searched with what little light filtered through the small window above her.
She knew she was in the basement of the BnB, even though it had under gone a few remodels to turn it into a mobile hospital of sorts, but she didn't know who she would find up the steps. She didn't want to face them so exposed and vulnerable.
A lab coat that fell to just above her knees was all she could manage, however. She felt bad for leaving Rebecca alone in the basement, but her muscles felt strained, too fatigued to carry her up the several flights of stairs to her bed. She would find a way to make it up to her. For everything.
Myka walked on the balls of her feet, stopping every time a stair even threatened to squeak. She made it to the first landing, a little breathless, but in one piece.
You have a lot of work to do to get your body back to the way it was. Even as short of a time that you were in active, the nanobots wreaked havoc, and your body attacked itself.
Her heart was pounding as she slowly pushed back the door. All was quiet and dark. No lights filtered through the windows from the outside, but a few lights were dimmed in the hall ways.
Myka walked around the first floor like a ghost, hands running over files on tables, dishes piled in the sink, coats and shoes discarded haphazardly. She had never seen the common areas so unkempt, it gave her an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.
The carpeted stairs that lead to their bedrooms were easier to traverse, and her confidence in her surroundings and in her own legs was growing slowly.
All the doors were shut. Soft snores could be heard drifting from under a few. It was so normal and comforting, Myka could almost convince herself it was just another night, from before everything went to shit. She was just coming home late from a night out, or leaving for a late shift at Instinct.
She let herself be carried by autopilot to her room.
It looked as if a tornado had ripped its way through there, however, ripping her from the serene back drop of her family sleeping. Anger hit her first, the thought of faceless agents and regents going through her things boiling in her.
You did this, not the Warehouse. MARLE informed her.
Myka walked further into the room, "What happened to me?"
You weren't exactly in control of yourself at the time, the nanobots were setting off random chain reactions and your brain interpreted it as best it could. Usually danger.
She didn't want to be here anymore. She couldn't fucking breathe. She needed to leave. She needed to be somewhere else.
No thought was paid to her outfit. Jeans, a shirt, boots. It didn't matter anymore, she just needed to be decent enough to get out of here. Away from the creeping sense of foreboding that was choking her.
Myka stumbled out of the front door and into the great big world.
The air was humid and sticky, but not as unbearable as it had been the last time she could remember walking outside.
Still summer, she reasoned.
I don't think this is such a good idea, Myka, MARLE warned.
"Then stop me," she challenged, but the AI remained silent.
Myka knew she could, if she wanted. Not directly of course, but she could alert someone who could. She started running before she could get the chance.
Her chest began to ache shortly after she began, her legs screaming, but she pushed herself to continue. The horizon was lightening and she was running out of time.
"This is so stupid," she panted, doubled over, "I should have brought a car, or money for a cab."
If you had stopped to think for once in your life, the AI chided.
"Yeah, yeah," She started to jog once more, not quite pushing her limits as before, but she was so close, almost halfway there.
There were black spots in her vision by the time she stumbled to a stop at the street light across from the bar. She was so close she could see people through the windows. They blocked the bar, all scrambling to get an order in at last call.
Tires screeched in protest as a car slammed on its breaks, inches from hitting her. Myka hadn't even realized she was crossing the street, so intent she was on just seeing past the crowd, trying to make out the dark figure behind the bar.
She waved a halfhearted apology at the car and curses followed her to the door.
Sweat had her shirt sticking to her tightly, her hair splayed across her face and neck. She felt dizzy, light headed, woozy.
"I think I'm going to pass out." She mumbled to herself.
Should I call someone? MARLE was panicking, Myka could taste it, but she shook her head in response.
She was too close to give up now. Ten feet from the bar. Eight. She focused on the open stool at the very end of the bar. She collapsed into it gratefully, her hands leaving slick marks on the counter top as she steadied herself.
"I think you've had enough to drink." A voice said sternly in her direction.
Myka looked up, her heart already breaking as her gaze met an unfamiliar one. A blonde woman, stood behind the counter, serving the drunk, demanding customers without looking at them. She was good at her job, wasn't mixing any orders up. You would think she had always worked here. Myka knew better.
"Just a water," she croaked, licking her lips as she fought back tears, feeling absurd, "Please." What had she been hoping for, really?
"Alright, love," She nodded and reached for the hose, "Did you need me to call you a cab hun?" She slid the glass to Myka's trembling hand.
Myka shook her head, "Maybe in a bit. I just want to sit for a while."
The bar tender shrugged and moved on to other customers, not sparing her another glance.
Myka gulped the water as fast as she could, and never had anything tasted quite so sweet. When was the last time she had drunk anything? Like everything else, she couldn't quite remember. When the glass was emptied, Myka studied it in her hands carefully. A few water spots had cultivated on it's surface. Clearly this new girl wasn't so diligent in all of her duties as Myka and Emily had been.
Helena, she corrected herself, she was always Helena, even then.
It was hard to reconcile the two people in her mind. The grand myth of a man who helped run this city with an iron fist, and the woman who she loved were two separate people in her mind. HG Wells and Emily, and Helena lay somewhere in between those two.
Myka just wished she knew what was truth and what was a lie.
A hand clamped on her shoulder, not roughly or unkindly, but firmly none the less. "You need to come with me Myka."
Clair spoke softly, not drawing attention to them as she put a hand at her back and pushed her away from the bar, "Please don't try anything funny, I really don't want to hurt you."
Myka nodded and went with her willingly, "Where are you taking me?" she stumbled once moving, and had to lean on Clair for support, blinking away the encroaching darkness at the edges of her vision.
The shorter woman looked her over carefully, her brow furrowing at whatever she found there. "Don't worry, I'm not going to take you anywhere. She just wants to see you."
"She's here?" Myka's eyes drifted over the crowds around them.
"Upstairs," Clair gestured with her chin as she wrapped an arm around her waist, "Can you make it up alright?"
With Helena at the other end waiting as a prize?
Anger was boiling in her from the moment she saw a familiar brunette saunter into her bar and sit at the counter as if she hadn't set Helena's life aflame with lies and secrets. She sent Clair to fetch her, meaning to, once and for all, rid herself of the woman who could only cause her pain now.
She practiced in her mind over and over the words she would need to say. She must be cold, detached. She must be HG Wells. No more Helena, no more Emily. She was resolved. After she left this office, she and Myka Bering would no longer be intertwined. She would be nothing other than another Warehouse Agent to fall when the fingers of her army closed on this city.
All her resolve broke the moment Myka stumbled into her office.
Helena took a step forward, as if to catch her, but Clair was so much closer, steadying the agent with a look of dread concern on her face.
"Myka?" Helena asked, as if to make sure what she was seeing was really the very same person she knew.
"Helena." Myka noded, smiling sadly, it seemed. Her voice was raspy, as if fighting a bad cold.
There were dark, purple bruises under her eyes. Her pallor was almost grey, the whites of her eyes blood shot. There was a layer of sweat covering her, her hands twitching slightly every once in a while. She leaned slightly to one side, her hand reaching out to grasp the door frame to keep up right.
How long ago had Helena seen her? Surely it couldn't have been more than a week ago. How had she deteriorated so quickly? What had that place done to her?
"She doesn't look so good, Hel," Clair pointed out the obvious when no one spoke for a long moment.
"What happened to her?" there was an accusing tone bleeding into Helena's voice as her emotions ran rampant.
"She was like this when I found her!" Clair said defensively.
"I can hear you, you know." Myka lurched forward again, eye lids fluttering.
This time HG was quicker, gathering Myka in her arms just before she hit the floor. She brushed the hair from her face, feeling the worrying fever that seemed to be growing hotter by the second. Myka shivered and leaned into the touch.
"What have they done to you?" Helena rocked her slightly back and forth, "I swear, when I get my hands on the person who did this to you, there is no power in the universe that can stop me from tearing them-,"
"Hey," Myka protested, and HG realized how tightly her fingers were digging into her skin and slackened her grip slightly, "None of that… 's my own fault… I did it… had to…"
She was losing her, Helena knew as she watched the feverish eyes slip closed for longer and longer stretches of time, "What did you do? And in God's name, why?"
"Had to protect you." Myka scoffed, "Love you."
"You foolish girl," Helena's eyes burned, lifting the woman in her arms, carrying her to the couch in the corner of her office.
"Clair," Helena snapped, "Clear the bar, we need to get her out of here. And it wouldn't do well for her to be seen in such a state."
Her friend nodded sharply, seeming relieved to have a task to accomplish.
Helena rose, walking to her private bathroom and wetting a cloth in cool water. She ran it over Myka's face slowly, noticing the nail marks that ran over her skin. An examination of her hands revealed she had done it to herself. The only experience Helena had with such symptoms was drugs, but she could find no track marks or chemical burns.
"What am I going to do with you?" she sighed.
"This is nice." Myka mumbled, forcing her eyes open once again, "You could keep doing just this."
"What the hell happened?" Helena demanded.
She felt robbed of her anger, she was righteous in that anger. She had every reason, every excuse to rage against this woman and everything she stood for. So why then, was the universe so cruel as to throw them together like this once again. Why was she nursing someone who, by all accounts, should be her enemy.
"The nanobots," Myka lifted a heavy hand, touching her own temple, "I had to turn them off. I thought I turned them off. They only made my head hurt, I thought. I'm not sure. My memory isn't so great right now."
"Nanobots?" the inventor in her was intrigued, and she had to resist the urge to examine Myka's head closely, "You and I shall have quite a bit to talk about when you are well. Tell me, love, do you have a tracker? Can the Warehouse find you?"
Myka nodded slowly, tapping her head again, "They are back up and running."
"That's unfortunate." Helena scowled.
"I told her to stop relaying anything. She doesn't want me to hurt myself again." Myka's words began to slur and stopped making any sense as she drifted more firmly into unconsciousness.
"What am I going to do with you?" Helena demanded once again.
"The club is clear," Clair cleared her throat.
"Good," Helena kicked off her heels and pulled Myka up into her arms.
"I can do that," Clair offered.
"That's quite alright." Helena pulled away from her, "Just pull the car around to the back entrence, would you?"
"Of course," Clair shuffled her feet as she held the door open for her, "But, where are we taking her?"
Helena's face was grim set as she looked at the younger woman, "Somewhere they will never find her."