AN: So, an explanation: I was all Pyka all the way when this show started—I don't think I know how to watch a show and not ship the main characters together—but as time went on it became increasingly clear that they had no intention of ever pairing Pete and Myka, or that if they did intend to do it, they thought they were going to have about fourteen seasons to stretch it over and were pacing themselves accordingly. So I gave up on the idea and moved on with my life; there are, after all, other ships in the sea. And then season 5 came along and suddenly in roughly two episodes we were supposed to buy this sudden love connection Myka and Pete had, and even for someone who'd rooted for this once upon a time, it didn't really work. I almost wish they'd left it open-ended, rather than giving us that rush job.

So I did what I always do when a show has disappointed me: I wrote a fanfic to make myself feel better—in this case, one that attempted to weave into the show a romantic storyline that gave the ending a bit more substance while staying reasonably canon. (The actions and dialogue, at least, are canon-compliant; the thoughts that I put into Myka's head may or may not be.) I'll let you be the judge of whether or not it worked, but at the very least I feel a bit better about things: if they're going to give us that ending, I'm going to tell myself this is how it all happened. :)

On with the story.

. . . . . .

His name is Agent Peter Lattimer, and for one brief moment before he opens his mouth, Myka thinks that this is the kind of guy she could fall for.

Not that she's looking to fall for anyone right now, thank you very much. The pain of Sam is still too raw and new, and even if it weren't, she's in no hurry to get involved with anyone at work ever again. The possibility of losing a loved one in the line of duty is all too real to her now, not to mention that she's had more than enough of the unpleasant repercussions of dating a fellow agent; she left Denver with a string of accusing whispers and glances trailing behind her, and she is in no mood to start her new life in DC with more of the same. She does not want to be that person with that reputation in the office. So dating fellow agents is strictly off-limits.

But if it weren't, she has to admit that she might find herself a bit taken with Lattimer. He has a reassuring presence—not overpowering or intimidating but . . . solid. She imagines that all the girls he dates love that about him: how safe they feel with their arms linked with his. But then his face is a whole different story, because contrasting sharply with that lapsed-military bearing is the most adorably boyish smile she's ever seen on a grown man. It's the sort of smile, all enthusiastic with a hint of vulnerability, where you can't help but smile back. If they weren't co-workers, if they'd just met at a bar or a party, she might have done more than just smile at him. Maybe.

But then he opens his mouth and the love affair ends before it begins. It turns out that Lattimer's young-looking face is just an example of truth in advertising because he is the most immature little pest she's ever met. Oh, she knows his type—cocky, confident, convinced that all they have to do is flash a smile and make some awful attempt at humor and women will fall at their feet (the sad part is, they're probably right most of the time). And to work with him would be unbearable; he's clearly the kind of guy who thinks he can ignore procedures and plans and just coast by on looks and charm and luck. He is exactly the kind of guy she hates working with, because she is methodical and meticulous and he would no doubt destroy all of her hard work with his devil-may-care attitude and his total lack of control around anyone with a pretty face.

So she fends off his forward and borderline-offensive pick-up line and goes back to her new desk, and resolves to do her job and not be baited by that man.

And she tucks carefully away in a corner of her mind, with no intention of ever pulling it out again, the memory of the way her stomach did a funny little flip the first time she saw Agent Peter Lattimer.

. . . . . .

His name is Agent Pete Lattimer, and apparently he's her new partner.

She doesn't spare the idea much thought at first, though, because there have been so many insane developments in her life lately—she's been reassigned to South Dakota, of all places, and what on earth is Warehouse 13?—that being paired up with this self-absorbed Casanova barely even registers on her radar.

And she doesn't want to get involved in this bizarre little dark corner of the government, doesn't want to stay there a moment longer than she has to, but Dickinson tells her to follow orders until he can get her out. So, reluctantly, she travels with Pete to Iowa and there her mind is absolutely blown, because all this stuff that Artie Nielsen was saying? It looks like it just might be true. It looks like this comb really does have inexplicable powers, and that the job that Mrs. Frederic has offered her is real and legitimate and full of endless wonder and all.

And nearly as shocking as this discovery is the discovery that Agent Lattimer is actually somewhat tolerable. He's smart (though not as smart as her) and good at the job, and he's surprisingly brave—he refuses to leave the case to get medical help, even though he's bleeding from an abdominal wound—and he Teslas her to keep her from shooting herself, and he's kind of funny when he's not trying to hit on her and every other woman in the room.

Most of all, she can't help but admire how open he is to all of this—that thing that Artie said, about Lattimer's willingness to accept that the Warehouse might be fun, and how that attitude is what first brought him to their attention? Don't think she didn't notice that he said no such thing to her. She has good qualities that attracted Mrs. Frederic's attention, she's sure of it, but flexibility and open-mindedness are clearly not two of them. And Lattimer acclimates so quickly to this odd sort of field work, and is the first to recognize that the comb is the artifact . . . she just wishes she had his willingness to accept new ideas, no matter how crazy. And she admires him for it.

Being his partner is no longer the terrible idea it once was, and if she thought she was going to stay at Warehouse 13, she wouldn't complain about being paired with him. Not much, anyway.

And she tucks carefully away in a corner of her mind, with no intention of ever pulling it out again, the memory of how he threw her to the ground and protected her with his own body when Cody flipped the table, and the way her breath caught in her throat to have him so close.

. . . . . .

His name is Agent Lattimer, and he's the best partner she's ever had.

No offense to Sam, of course; Sam was wonderful and good and a good agent. But Pete Lattimer is something else, something she's never really encountered in her line of work before. He's astonishingly instinctive, able to get a read on a situation based on the tiniest shred of evidence or no evidence at all. And his vibes are so unerringly accurate that she—she who has never done a thing without consulting a manual first—has started to follow them unquestioningly. This cosmic sensitivity or whatever it is has saved her life more than once, which still baffles her (although it shouldn't, because she recently witnessed a man being pulled out of an inter-dimensional rift and a cloak that lets people walk through walls, but she's still a logical person and this job still baffles her sometimes), but she is willing to take advantage of whatever tools are available to her to get her job done. And Lattimer's instincts are an invaluable tool.

But it's not just how he is on his own, it's how perfectly they complement each other. Artie was right about them, and the way they work together: he's intuitive while she's detail-oriented; she looks while he leaps. He follows his heart, she follows her head, and between the two of them they have all the bases covered. They practically read each other's thoughts, finish each other's sentences, and yes she was that way with Sam but it took months to get there. With Pete Lattimer, it was weeks. Maybe it was complete chance that she got paired with someone who fills in her gaps, or maybe working at the Warehouse forces people to get close quickly because it throws them into improbable and life-threatening situations on a daily basis. Or maybe, she sometimes thinks to herself with a wry grin, maybe like Lattimer's instincts, it's something cosmic. Maybe they were meant to be together.

Of course Myka doesn't believe that, not for a second; there's no such thing as fate. Although there is such a thing as a cloak that lets you walk through walls, so maybe she's wrong.

And he's a capable agent and good in a fight (although she takes great pride in knowing she's a better shot), and even though he's constantly cracking jokes and hitting on anything in a skirt and touching things he shouldn't, she knows he takes this job seriously. But she doesn't find out just how seriously he takes it until the Spine of the Saracen attaches to his back and he is willing to die to neutralize it. She never knew him to be capable of such heroic sacrifice and she never knew this job could be so unforgiving and cruel and she never knew how much he meant to her until he was on the ground begging her to electrocute him.

And she can't do it. She can't make herself zap the artifact, knowing it might kill him and that she might lose her partner and that the world might lose his boyish smile and reassuring presence. She thinks of Rebecca losing the man she loves to this artifact all those years ago and for the first time in a long time, she is paralyzed with fear. She can't lose him, not like she lost Sam, not like Rebecca lost Jack.

So it's Rebecca who has to electrocute the artifact in the end, and it turns out all Myka's fears were for nothing because he survives and everything is fine and what was she panicking for back there, anyway? They both knew the risks going into this job and they've promised to do whatever necessary to collect artifacts and keep the world safe and he's a grown man and can make decisions, like whether to sacrifice his life, all by himself.

And later that night, when she's decompressing in her room, she decides it's just that he's the best partner she's ever had, and she doesn't want to lose that. She can't imagine having to train up a new partner on all this madness they deal with, and she can't imagine doing this job without his vibes to help her. Her reasons are perfectly understandable, from a professional point of view.

And she tucks carefully away in a corner of her mind, with no intention of ever pulling it out again, the memory of the moment she was telling him that he was going to be fine, and through her sobs she knew, with startling clarity, that she'd be heartbroken if he wasn't.

. . . . . .

His name is Pete Lattimer, and he's her friend.

It's not surprising, really; they both literally only know about five other people in the state of South Dakota, and the entire population of Univille hates them because they think they're IRS employees. And then there's the fact that they spend nearly every minute of their lives together, because when they're not on missions together they're housemates at Leena's B&B, with bedrooms across the hall from each other and a shared bathroom and with every meal, every second of downtime, being spent in the same set of rooms.

But it's not just forced closeness, she admits to herself. She likes Pete for his own sake, and he seems to feel the same way about her. He still gives her a hard time about being uptight and needing to plan every detail of every case, and she still gives him a hard time about being disorganized and irresponsible and eating way too many cookies, but at some point in the last year the needling changed; instead of actually complaining about each other as they did in the beginning, now they're simply teasing each other. She likes having someone around she can tease, secure in the knowledge that he'll take it as a friendly gesture, not an insult. She likes having someone around who knows how she takes her ice cream and when she's bluffing about being okay and when to call her on that bluff. She likes having a friend.

Because for Agent Myka Bering of the Secret Service, that is a big deal. In school she was that bookish girl who fenced and who knew the answers to every question in class and who got snickered at when the teacher announced, yet again, that she'd gotten the highest score on the test. In college she was that ambitious girl who spent so much time studying and working toward med school and law school and the Secret Service that by the time graduation rolled around, she had a degree with honors and a job offer and not one single friend who was close enough that they've stayed in touch since then. In Denver she was that agent who'd give you a tongue lashing if you deviated from her careful plan or had a typo in your PowerPoint presentation, and her already-low level of popularity sank when the rumors started about her and Sam and plummeted after he died.

So to have a real friend, who accepts her warts and all, means more to her than she can say—certainly more than she's ever admitted to Pete. No need for him to get a big head when he realizes how much she's come to rely on him. And she's doing her best to be a good friend back, which is a bit new to her; as an agent, she's used to putting the needs of the whole human race before her own, but it's not something she's often done for one single person. But the look on his face when she gives him that comic book he's been wanting for years makes her think this is something she could get used to doing. And when she cuddles into his side as he starts to read it, she thinks that this level of closeness, purely Platonic and friendly closeness, is something she's been missing her whole life.

Pete, for his part, is an even better friend than she could hope to be to him; it still astonishes her sometimes when she remembers the time he flew to Colorado so she wouldn't have to face her parents alone. And it astonishes her the way he sometimes knows exactly what she needs to hear, like the time she goes undercover as a model and panics because she feels inadequate, and it's Pete who talks her down from her proverbial ledge.

"Myka," he says, turned away from her because he's too embarrassed to say this to her face, "you are a stunningly beautiful woman. The day I met you, I said 'What? I'm not going to be able to work with her! I won't be able to stop staring at her!' But then I got to know you, and I realized that you're even more beautiful than I could see. And if that little teen fencer could see what a beautiful woman that she would become, she would know that it was her sister that should be jealous."

It's not the first time she's been called pretty, but it's the first time in a long time that she's been called pretty by someone who knows her as well as he does, and it's definitely the first time she's been told that she's beautiful inside as well; not even Sam ever told her that. And the knowledge that Pete, who's been by her side every day for a solid year and who's seen her at her very worst, could look at her with all her personality flaws and still see beauty there, is what gives her the confidence to go out on that runway.

You may be beautiful on the outside, she thinks at every model she passes, but I'm beautiful inside and out, and I know that because my best friend told me so, and he would know. Because he is her best friend. He's the one who knows her best and he's the one who builds her up when she's feeling down, and isn't that what friends are for?

And she tucks carefully away in a corner of her mind, with no intention of ever pulling it out again, the memory of the surprising flush of pleasure and twinge of excitement she felt when Pete told her he thinks she's beautiful.

. . . . . .

His name is Pete Lattimer, and he's the big brother she never had.

She's certain that leaving the Warehouse is the right thing to do, but it breaks her heart. That's partly because of Artie and partly because of Claudia and partly because of Mrs. Frederic and Leena and partly because it's the most exciting job she's ever had, but deep down she knows (and don't tell Claud this, she'd be indignant) that it's mostly because of Pete. The whole Warehouse is family but he's something special, something part of her very being, and leaving him feels like tearing her heart right out of her chest.

But she's doing it because she loves him so much. She failed as a Warehouse agent, and in a job as dangerous as theirs, her terrible judgment could put his life in danger. And the only thing worse than not having Pete in her life would be knowing that Pete was dead because of her. So she'll make that sacrifice for him, for all of them, because that's what families do: they make sacrifices to make each other happy. With her gone, he can live his life safely. He can get a better partner, one whose misjudgments don't nearly cause the deaths of millions, and then he can find a girlfriend who doesn't scared off by his job, like Kelly did, and help Artie with his love life and Claud with growing up. He'll be better off—everyone will be better off—with her gone.

The thought, however, doesn't keep her from missing him so badly it hurts—from finding herself, at least once a day, reaching toward her phone with the intention of calling him. Even if she can't be a Warehouse agent, she still wants him in her life, to talk and to give advice and to comfort her and to make her smile. How could she not want the big brother she never had to just be around? But surely if she reached out now he'd insist that she comes back to the Warehouse. Or—and this is the thought that sometimes haunts her at night—maybe he wouldn't want her back. Maybe he'd be furious with her for what happened with HG; maybe he's glad she's gone. She couldn't bear that.

So it's best to keep her distance from Pete, and from all of them. It's best to hide away in Colorado and let the closest she ever gets to her former life be the moments when she doesn't fight back her memories of the Warehouse and the time she spent with the man she supposes she'll always think of as her big brother.

(Although, to be honest, she's not sure that "brotherly" is exactly the right word to use regarding how she feels about him. Because on more than one occasion while she's hiding out in Colorado, she's seen lovers walk by, hand-in-hand, and her mind has involuntarily flown to Pete. Which is of course crazy and impossible and not something she's even interested in, so she's just going to stop thinking about it.)

It's several months since she left the Warehouse when her determination to keep him safe from her is given the ultimate test, because the bell rings at her father's bookstore and she turns around and there he is, looking right at her for the first time in months. His hair is longer but other than that he seems just like he did last time she saw him: cheerful and cocky and wonderful. He calls her Ophelia—he's the only one who ever does—and she almost caves right then and there.

But she can't. Her reasons for leaving are still true, and she reminds herself of them as she tells him no, she can't help. And she might have kept up her resolve if not for the second agent who enters the bookstore.

His name is Steven Jinks, and Myka feels like she's been hit in the stomach when she realizes that she's been replaced.

She knew she would be—she wanted to be—but now that she sees the new Myka, an actual living breathing person, she hates the idea and she can't imagine why she ever thought Pete should get a new partner. And while a few moments ago her primary motivation was getting Pete away from her and her bad judgment, now suddenly all she can think of is proving to this Steven Jinks, and proving to Pete, that she's good enough—that she wasn't replaced because she's not a capable agent. So she jumps into the mystery and makes the Shakespeare connection immediately, but maybe she shouldn't have hurried so much because now Pete is leaving, wandering out of her life again with a careless "Definitely don't need any more of your help."

It's what she wanted, and she hates that she got what she wants.

So she keeps digging, and she finds out how to counteract the artifact, and she rushes to Denver just in time to save Steve. But Pete isn't happy, and in the fight that follows she realizes, for the first time since her defection, that she hurt him when she left. She's been so focused on how she's feeling, and what she's done, that she didn't even think about how her partner might feel. The notion that he misses her as much as she misses him preys on her mind—as does the fact that after the bankers have been saved, Pete looks to her, not his partner. And that he calls her name when he's being dragged away by the Feds. And that when she drives away from the hotel, leaving him standing on the sidewalk, she's never seen him look so forlorn. They're partners, and they're best friends, and they're family, and three months apart can't change that.

So after a talk with HG that, to her surprise, does make her feel better, she makes up her mind. She's tried to help the Warehouse by staying away from it, but it turns out she's hurt people more than helped them. So now she'll try to keep them safe by coming back—by putting aside her fear and being there for them. And the look that Pete gives her when she comes back—like the world has finally been set to rights, like for the first time in ages he feels content—convinces her she's made the right choice.

And she tucks carefully away in a corner of her mind, with no intention of ever pulling it out again, the memory of that moment at the hotel, where Steve said that "Maybe you two can work on your repressed sexual tension some time when we don't have a book running around trying to suffocate people" and she could only stare because maybe that really was what she was feeling.

. . . . . .

His name is Pete, and for one insane afternoon, he is the father of her unborn child.

Well, maybe he is, because who can say whether it's a real pregnancy or simply an odd phenomenon brought on by the artifact? Who can say whether she could have actually carried it to term and delivered? Who can say, if a baby was born, whether it would actually genetically be half hers and half his? She's seen very powerful artifacts do very crazy things in her time, but although some of them have made very convincing and lifelike illusions, she hasn't yet come across one that can actually create human life.

But whether or not it's a real baby, the important fact remains: at one point in time, just for the briefest of moments, Pete wished that Myka was pregnant with his baby. It's too weird an idea to even talk about, so she doesn't, but inside she is freaking out a little. What does that even mean? And why'd he have to pick her for his wish?

But the more she thinks about it the more it all makes sense. After all, there's a reason her mom and her sister refer to Pete as her work husband—and some days, when they go undercover as a married couple, it's literally true. She shares everything with him except his name and his bed, and they are just about as close as two people can be without actually being romantically involved (in fact they are closer than many actual couples she knows). So she understands where Pete is coming from when he says she's the only person he could see having a family with right now. And in fact she feels the same way.

The difference is, though, that she doesn't want a family at this point in time, so she is thrilled to death when they neutralize the artifact and the baby bump disappears and she can touch the ground again. Anyway, what does she need a husband and kids for right now? She's got a family, just a less traditional one. Most importantly, she's got Pete, her partner and her best friend, who admits embarrassedly to her in the hospital that he loves her. She's always assumed he did—he'd better, after all they've been through together, and all the times they've both admitted that the Warehouse is family—but hearing him say it aloud fills her with warmth, makes her feel like a balloon is inflating in her chest, because she's never adored anyone like she adores this man.

She doesn't tell him, though, because she wrote that in her goodbye letter all those months ago, and surely he remembers that she loves him like a brother. Besides, if she says it too, then she can't use his confession to pressure him into doing stuff for her.

So she returns home to South Dakota, Myka Bering, unmarried and unpregnant but happily part of a different sort of family, and she reminds herself that she's still got time to have a baby, if that's something she decides to do.

And she tucks carefully away in a corner of her mind, with no intention of ever pulling it out again, the memory of that moment with Pete in the maternity ward, where he was watching that father and child with a wistful look in his eyes—she's never before seen Pete look wistful—and she found herself imagining Pete holding his own child, and the thought made her smile, and then she imagined herself in that scene, standing at Pete's shoulder and looking down at the two most important people in her life, and the thought made her smile more.

. . . . . .

His name is Pete, and she doesn't know what they are to each other right now.

Things have been strangely strained between them lately; they've been bickering a lot more, and even where they're not, there's sometimes a palpable tension in the air between them. And then sometimes she catches him staring at her, and then other times she catches herself staring at him.

It's been worse since they saw Kelly, and she wonders if that has something to do with it. Maybe seeing that his ex, the woman who he once thought was his one, has so completely moved on has made him upset. Maybe seeing her pregnant with her first child has reminded him that he still doesn't have the child that he longs for. But what Myka can't figure out is, if that really is the case, why take it out on her? It's not her fault they broke up. It's not her fault that the only woman in Univille willing to give him the time of day couldn't deal with the Warehouse 13 lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, she's annoyed with him—so annoyed that when he flips out over the possibility of the Warehouse moving, she almost doesn't go after him. He's a big boy, isn't he capable of looking after himself? But the thought only lasts for a brief moment. Because no matter how annoyed she is with him, he's still her partner. He's still her best friend.

So she goes after him and they have a fruitless conversation where he refuses to hear reason (although, it's Pete, so is anyone surprised?) and she finally storms out. What is with him these days? It's not like him to be so completely out of touch with her—to not even notice that she's hurting too. Because she is; she's heartbroken at the thought of losing the best job she's ever had and her home for five years and Jinks and Claud and Artie, and she's especially heartbroken at the thought of losing him. And if he hadn't been too caught up in his own pain to even look at her properly, she would have told him Look, no matter what happens here, you'll never lose me. Wherever we go next, we'll go together, because I can't lose you. (If you had told her five years ago that she'd reach a point in her life where she couldn't be apart from Agent Peter Lattimer, she would have laughed herself silly. And yet, here they are.) They could try to go back to the Secret Service—not sure if they'd want them back, after five years away—or they could enter the private sector or they could go back to her dad's bookstore. She doesn't care, she just wants them to figure this out together.

And she wonders, at what point did being with Pete become more important to her than her career?

But she doesn't say any of that, because he's too caught up in his own worries to even care. Instead she storms back to the Round Table to do her memory. Only Mrs. Frederic and Steve are there, which annoys her—she'd wanted Pete there to see it, because she's sure it involves him, whatever it is—but she just wants this over with so she can go distract herself from feeling hurt that Pete didn't even notice how much she needed him.

It's not the memory she would have expected; it's none of the moments she'd consider her most heroic or the most important to the Warehouse's history. Instead it's her and Pete a few months earlier, undercover as a suburban couple, uncovering a ring of cat burglars. But it's still a fun moment to watch; she's never considered what they would look like from the outside, as though this was a TV show instead of their lives, and she's surprised to find that they make very compelling watching. They work together seamlessly, tossing weapons back and forth, knowing where the other is at every moment, even when they're not looking at each other. They're good at what they do, and she decides this must be the Warehouse's way of acknowledging it: she is a good agent. She appreciates that.

Steve, however, has a different interpretation. "I was actually thinking how obvious it is that you have a thing for Pete."

It's one of those moments where the world grows unnaturally still and your heartbeat becomes unnaturally loud in your ears. "What?" she asks.

"A love thing," he confirms.

And she scoffs, because that's the only possible response that makes sense right now. "Yeah, that's hilarious."

But Steve will not be put off. "Look at your face," he says, nodding at the table with a smile.

So she does, just to prove him wrong. But that's not what happens. Because now that she's looking for whatever it is that Steve sees, she sees that her memory-self does look incredibly happy, but it's not about the fight she just had or the case she just solved. Instead, all that happiness is directed at one source: at her partner, who has just called her honey pie and promised to always have her back. And that look isn't just happiness, and it isn't just friendliness, and it isn't just the sort of love one has for a brother. That look might just be—

"No," she says firmly. "No! No, okay? Pete and I—there is no Pete and I—"

But it's too late; the very suggestion has broken open that corner in her mind where she stores away thoughts she doesn't want to think about, especially thoughts that an agent shouldn't think about their partner, and suddenly she's remembering five years of things she tried to forget: how handsome she found Pete when they first met. How her breath sometimes catches when she finds him standing close. How much it would hurt to lose him. How things he's said and done have occasionally made her shiver pleasantly and she's known, in some dim corner of her mind, that she's attracted to him in ways that are not in keeping with her insistence that they're just friends. How, ever since the pregnancy case, she's wondered idly, in unguarded moments, what it would be like to settle down with Pete Lattimer. And she remembers suddenly and vividly how she'd felt on that suburban ninja case, leaning out the window with her fake husband, and he pulled something from her hair and the brief contact made her whole body tingle, and some part of her she usually ignores wished, just for a moment, that he would kiss her.

She's been burying all of this for five years, because it isn't work-appropriate and it isn't professional and anyway why ruin a great partnership, but it refuses to stay buried for a moment longer, and before she knows what she's doing, she speaks.

"I'm in love with Pete."

It's insane, and it's a terrible idea, and how did this even happen because he is such a womanizer and an immature child sometimes and she can't even imagine how the boobie jokes would proliferate if they were actually together . . . but also, it might be amazing. To be with her best friend, to be loved by someone who knows her so completely that she doesn't have to hide a single thing from him—it might be the best thing that's ever happened to her.

She looks up slowly and sees Steve nodding happily and Mrs. Frederic smiling at her, and she realizes they've both been hoping for this outcome. Could this get any more embarrassing? But on the other hand, that means she's got the caretaker's approval. That means going for it won't get her and Pete fired from the Warehouse. In fact, the very fact that the table chose that memory—it's like the Warehouse is giving her permission, is cheering her on.

And strangely, that's the thing that gets her up out of her seat and hurrying off to find Pete.

When she finds him he's trying to destroy the Compass to keep it from moving the Warehouse, and that's when she realizes just how desperate he is because that's probably impossible and even if it worked, it could make the Warehouse and the regents so angry that they'd kick him out. But he's beyond being reasoned with; she's never seen him so distraught.

And she can't believe she didn't realize earlier why he's upset. She knows him, and she knows he's had abandonment issues since his father's death, so she should have known that this would feel like abandonment, like the Warehouse is rejecting him and he's going to lose the people he loves. Of course he'd be shattered, and of course he'd assume that it's because without the Warehouse he's worthless.

And this is a perfect segue into what she wants to tell him—that she loves him, that he'll never be alone as long as she has any say in the matter—but he just will not stop talking. He's so busy justifying to her all the reasons he's doing this (and telling her how much she matters to him, which makes her heart flutter) that she can't get a word in edgewise to explain to him how she feels. And finally she decides that this is a moment where she should take a leaf out of Pete's book and leap before she looks—just take action without talking about it first. So she steps closer to Pete and she kisses him.

It's not the best kiss she's ever had; they're both too surprised by what she's done to do much more than just stand there. But it might be her favorite kiss she's ever had. Because when she kisses Pete, she has the strangest sensation that she's been working on a complicated puzzle for many years now and she's just now finally fitted the last piece into place.

But Pete's simply baffled, wondering if it's a trick or she's been whammied, and who can blame him? Any time they've crossed this line—any time they've come close to crossing this line—it's been the work of an artifact or a cover for a mission. So she decides all she can do is be as clear and as honest as possible.

"You can't lose me," she says. "Because I love you."

She's never seen him look more like a little boy than he does right now—but instead of a boyish grin, it's an expression of absolute confusion and vulnerability. "So you kissed me . . . for realsies?"

And only Pete would say something as ridiculous as that at a moment like this. "Yeah," she laughs.

But he still looks so baffled that she starts to think that maybe she was wrong in thinking he'd be willing to give them a chance, maybe he doesn't feel anything for her at all, which to be honest has been worrying her from the moment she decided to kiss him—

But no. No, it's fine. Because now, "I love you too," and they're kissing again and it turns out she's not the only person who's been hiding their feelings from their partner. And the way he smiles and says "Wow" after the second kiss is probably one of her favorite things she's ever seen.

And who knows what comes next? Who knows when the Warehouse will leave them behind and they'll be homeless? Myka doesn't know, but she's not as worried about it as she was an hour ago. Because no matter what happens to the Warehouse, she can't be homeless with Pete by her side, because anywhere he is is exactly where she should be. His smile, his voice, that ridiculous face he makes when she punches him in the arm—that's home. And it always will be. Because he's the person she knows better than anyone in this world—he's her partner, her friend, her family, her one—so when she says she loves him, she's doing so with her eyes wide open, knowing exactly who he is and loving every adorable flawed good-hearted piece of him. When she says she loves him, she means forever.

His name is Pete, and he's the man she's going to spend the rest of her life with.

. . . . . .

fin