Title: Lifetime Commitment
Author: Cindy Ryan
Summary: Tag to Burnout
Spoilers: Everything's fair game :)
Category: Angst, oneshot, postep

Agent Pete Lattimer sat bolt upright in bed. Moonlight streamed in from the open window
For a moment he thought it'd been a nightmare that'd woken him. After their mission in St. Louis two weeks ago he'd had quite a few.
That was when he was able to fall asleep.

Then Pete heard it.
The sound that had woken him.
One that chilled him to the core.
His partner's scream.

"Myka!"Pete shouted as he lunged out of bed, not quite fully awake, grabbing his gun off the nightstand.

Another scream ricocheted through the bed and breakfast by the time Pete reached the hallway.
Leena met him by the top of the stairs and he held up a hand for her to stay back.

Part of Pete knew they were home. They were safe. But after all they had seen in their short time with the Warehouse he knew not to dismiss anything.
Anything could be fudge….even here.

"She's alright."Leena commented quietly as she pulled her light blue robe tighter around her shoulders. "Nightmare."

Pete pushed the door open anyway, gun still raised. In a quick visual sweep of the room he determined it to be empty.

As Pete looked at the bed he found Leena had been right. Myka was indeed in the throws of a nightmare and a nasty one at that.
The dark haired woman had kicked the sheets and blankets off the bed. Her face was pale and sweaty.

Pete set his gun down on the nightstand and sat down on the edge of the bed. He knew waking somebody from a nightmare could be dangerous. But then Pete had already experienced Myka's punches first hand.

He gripped her shoulders gently. "Myka?"

She broke free of his grasp and shied away from his voice.

Pete frowned as he reached forward and cautiously touched her right shoulder. "Myka…its okay…it's me….you're safe…it's okay."

Five minutes ticked by as Myka continued to be caught in her nightmare. Continued to thrash in his arms.
Five minutes where Pete almost called out to Leena for help. He'd never seen Myka like this….so unresponsive to him….he'd always been able to get a response from her even if it was anger

"Myka….come on."Pete pleaded as he gently touched her face. He knew St. Louis had scared her….had brought up some old demons.

As always she hadn't talked about it….forged ahead.

Now as he saw her tortured expression Pete was kicking himself for not forcing the issue. But he'd had enough to deal with on his own with that case…..he'd rather be shot a hundred times over than endure the pain the Spine had created.
It'd been worth it though….the artifact was destroyed, Myka, Rebecca and the rest of the city were safe. Jack was able to rest in peace.

Part of Pete had wanted to forget and move on. He swore silently as Myka continued to fight her nightmare.
Regret like hindsight was twenty twenty….looking back over the last few weeks Pete was now picking up the signs he should've picked up then.
Signs that she hadn't been coping as well as she said she was.
Didn't give him high scores in the friend department.

"No."Myka whimpered as her hands dug into the spare pillow.

"Myka."Pete called once more. "It's okay….you're safe….everything's okay. Wake up for me, huh? Let me see those beautiful eyes."

Slowly Myka woke. Disoriented she glanced around her room not really seeing anything. Her breathing was harsh and ragged and she was covered in sweat. It took her a full minute to realize what had happened.
A full minute to remember the dream.
It'd been nothing but darkness, terror and memories mixing with what could haves.
Finally her breathing settled back to normal along with her heart which had been beating triple time.

It was only then that sounds started to register along with surroundings. She looked into her partner's concerned and anxious gaze.

"Talk to me."Pete pleaded one hand still gripping Myka's right arm.

Embarrassed Myka pulled away from him nestling back against the pillows. If she'd woken Pete everyone knew.

"I'm sorry I woke you."

Pete shook his head and knelt by the bed so he was eyelevel. She looked so spooked and vulnerable….so unMyka like that he wanted nothing more than to hold her.
Hold her and let her know it was okay and he wouldn't leave.
Not wanting to cross the line Pete held himself in check…barely. He hated seeing her upset knowing he was partially to blame.

"Myka…"

"Go back to sleep, Pete…I'm alright."

"Like hell."Lattimer countered as his right hand strayed towards one of hers. "You don't scream in your sleep if you're okay…."

Myka winced. "I screamed?"

"You don't remember?"

"I remember enough."The dark haired woman replied with a shudder as she tried to move farther back into the pillows.

"Look…St. Louis…was…"

Myka shook her head. "Don't want to talk about it."

Giving in Pete reached forward and tenderly brushed a sweat soaked strand of hair away from her face.

"It's eating at you, Myka….you don't have to deal with everything alone."

"I-I can't."Myka whispered as she shut her eyes the memories of the nightmare still too fresh. She could still see Pete dying in front of her. "Not now…."

Reluctantly Pete pushed himself to his feet. He touched her right shoulder lightly. Pete didn't want to leave….knew she needed him….but he didn't want to press her either.

"You know where to find me."Pete stated quietly as he picked up the sheets and blanket and pulled them back onto the bed and up over his partner."When you're ready."

Just as his grip left the blanket Myka's right hand snatched out and gripped it. She couldn't explain what she was feeling. She knew it was a left over affect from the nightmare….but she had an overwhelming need not to let Pete out of her sight.
Needed to know he was okay.

"Stay."Myka stated softly as she met his gaze. "Please…just until I fall asleep."

Wordlessly Pete nodded and Myka let go of his hand. He walked around the bed and crawled under the covers.

After a moment's hesitation Pete wrapped his arms around his partner and pulled Myka close.

Myka trembled slightly at the contact. The feel of his skin against hers…his heartbeat against her back.

"Sleep, Myka."Pete whispered. "I've got you."

Almost instantly exhaustion took over and Myka allowed herself to slip back into the oblivion.

********

The next night after a grueling day of research and paperwork Myka entered the bed and breakfast around six. She had planned on a quick dinner and a shower and to curl up with a book.

As she climbed the stairs Myka reflected on the day. She'd woken up alone feeling refreshed and rested for the first time in days.
Artie had Pete working on something else so she hadn't seen him much. But when she had Pete hadn't brought up the nightmare and neither had anyone else.
Something she was grateful for.

"Myka!"Claudia called from the first floor gaining her attention. "Pete requests your presence in the backyard."

Myka blinked at the younger woman. "He requests my presence?"

Claudia grinned. "I'm sworn to secrecy….just go see."

With a shake of her head Myka descended the stairs and walked with Claudia to the back of the bed and breakfast.

"Wow."Claudia whispered as they peered out the French doors. "He cleans up nice."

Myka nodded only being able to stare at the sight before her. Pete was dressed in a black suit complete with bow tie. He was standing, well fidgeting next to a small table that had a couple martini glasses and an ice bucket. Next to the table was an old fashioned record player.

"You sure you two are just partners?"Claudia asked with a grin as she pushed Myka outside.

Myka walked towards her partner. "Pete…what?"

Pete couldn't help but grin at her astonished expression. "What? I can't do something nice for my partner? I can't take you somewhere that serves martinis but thought I'd bring them to you."

Myka blinked back tears. Some days she didn't think he listened to her at all and for him to remember what she'd said when they first arrived in St. Louis. Then all she wanted was a vacation now….as she looked around she couldn't think of anything better.

"Myka?"Pete prompted puzzled by her silence as he stepped forward. "You don't like it?"

Myka shook her head as she moved closer to him. "No…no Pete it's perfect. I just didn't think…."

"That I pay attention?"Pete finished as he took her hand and led her to the small table. "I only act twelve ninety percent of the time."

Myka smiled as she sipped the drink. "I believe I said ten."

Pete shrugged. "Ten…twelve…"

"This is nice…thank you."Bering complimented starting to feel the day's tension ease from her shoulders.

"You're welcome."Pete replied glad to see some of the old sparkle coming back into her eyes. He hadn't been sure of her reaction when he planned this. They spent so much time together that he hadn't wanted her to feel uncomfortable.

Myka watched as he stepped over to the record player. Turning it on Pete placed the needle on the vinyl. She smiled as he offered his hand to hers just as the music started.

"Jazz?"Myka asked as she placed her glass down on the table and accepted his hand.

"Seemed appropriate."Lattimer commented as he pulled her away from the table and into the center of the yard.

The sun had just set allowing a few stars to be seen.

"You're full of surprises tonight."Myka stated quietly as the second song started.

Pete grinned as he pulled back and raised his arm so he could spin her. "Didn't think I could dance?"

Myka shook her head. "No."

Pete laughed. "I learned over the years that women get tired of burgers and a movie. So I took a few lessons."

Myka savored the sound of his laughter. After the last couple of weeks it was nice to hear.

"You're a good man, Pete Lattimer."Myka stated as she rested her head on his chest.

Pete smiled as he rested his head on top of hers. "Glad somebody thinks so."

"I didn't get a chance to thank you….for last night."

"What partners are for."

Myka swallowed the lump of tears that had suddenly formed in her throat. A memory surfaced…of Denver….dinner with Sam the night before everything went to hell.

"Pete."

"Yeah?"

"The nightmare…."

Pete pulled back so he could see her face. "You don't have to."

Myka nodded and took a deep breathe settling herself. She turned and headed back to the table.

Once they were seated Myka folded her hands and rested them on the table.

"I don't know how much you know about Denver."

"Enough."Pete replied simply. Between the rumors and what he'd found out since they arrived in South Dakota he'd pieced it together.

"Sam was my partner….he was killed because I didn't get there in time. He died in my arms before the ambulance got there."

Myka could still hear the sirens….could still smell the blood….could feel it on her hands.

"And St. Louis brought it all back."Pete surmised quietly seeing the pain etched on her face, the dark memories.

Myka nodded as she looked down at her hands. "I-I'd already lost one partner….then when we couldn't find you right away….I was afraid…..then I couldn't do what you needed me to do at the police station….I wanted to help…I did….but I was so scared it would kill you….I-I couldn't watch another partner die."

"Hey."Pete called as he touched her hands gaining Myka's attention. "You didn't lose me."

"Came damn close….too close."

"It's part of what we do."

"I know."Myka replied quietly. "Sam and I were…"

"Involved."Pete finished gently.

Myka laughed bitterly as she wiped a hand across her face. "Guess I shouldn't be surprised that you know….we were probably the hot topic of the rumor mill."

"Myka…."

"There now you know my all my deep dark secrets."

"You're human, Myka."Pete began quietly. "We all have regrets, demons. It's not your fault Sam died….things happen that we can't control…no matter how much we want too."

Myka nodded. "Rebecca….she told me to run from the Warehouse…while I could still have a life…a family."

Pete froze one hand on the martini glass. "Do you?"he cleared his throat and tried again. "Do you want to leave?"

Myka smiled. "I thought about it. But I didn't want just anybody to watch your back."

Pete grinned and stood taking her left hand and pulling Myka to her feet. He reached over and restarted the jazz record. "Good….you're stuck with me."

Myka laughed as they began to dance once more. "God help us I think we are stuck with each other…and the Warehouse."

They danced for another hour or so. As they laughed and swapped stories Myka realized despite the craziness she didn't want to leave South Dakota as much as she had the previous weeks.

As much as the Warehouse sometimes creeped her out. It was becoming home.
As much as Pete annoyed her.
It was times like tonight that she was grateful he was her partner.

Grateful that he was her friend.

Myka knew that whatever fate threw at them, they'd be ready.

end