Fastest update EVAR!

Well, my friends, as with all things in this mortal coil, the end has come. Well, sort of. I chopped off the end to put in an epilogue because it was so long. :D But here's the basic resolution of the plot. Please let me know what you think! ^_^


Chapter 10 – Don't Die Before I Do


Everyone in the room immediately tensed at the horrific wail that came from Helen's mouth. Even John jumped slightly. He'd never heard her create a noise so stricken with pain and emotion. At the end of the scream—which seemed to prolong further than a normal human's lung capacity—Helen's eyes rolled back and she promptly slumped over onto the carpet at Nikola's side, her dark curls spread across the blood-stained Persian rug.

*

"Hello?"

Helen looked around her. She stood in her old home in London. Everything was as exact and real as if John had abruptly teleported her there from her office. She put a hand to her stomach, feeling the sudden urge to vomit for the first time in decades as she remembered the sight that lay in that office.

In that action, she glanced down at herself and was surprised to see that she was wearing a dress from her days before the Source. A ringlet of gold fell into her field of vision and she reached up to feel the faintly familiar texture of her tight curls from those days. What was going on?

"Hello?"

The voice came again. Helen hefted the heavy skirts—unused to the weight after a century of not wearing them—and stepped into the sitting area. There, a little girl was looking around as if searching. She was a cute little thing with pigtails and a modern-day sundress. She looked terribly out of place in the setting.

"Ah, you're here!" the girl exclaimed as if simultaneously relieved and excited. "Oh, I'm so happy to finally see you!"

"I—" Helen was overwhelmed. "I'm sorry—who are you and where am I?"

The little girl smiled. "The wolfman calls me Rex."

"You're Rex?" Helen exclaimed. "Then I must be…"

She looked around the realistic old house.

"You're inside a memory," Rex confirmed. "I've been building this construct in your mind ever since I first began feeling your future. Now, it is finished just in time and we can talk face to face."

"Hold on," Helen lifted her hands. "You can feel my future?"

Rex smiled and sighed as if she were an old woman explaining life to a child. "I do not know how to accurately describe my ability to you. I do not so much see the future as I am in tune with the ebb and flow of time. Thus I am very connected to the past. Memory. Regrets. This power simply…extends into the hereafter. An unintentional bleeding over as it were."

"That's incredible," Helen gushed. "There's so much we can learn from you!"

Rex smiled that too-wise smile for a child's face and seated herself on an armchair. "There will be time enough to discuss whether meddling with present and future is wise. But for now, I have something more urgent to talk to you about."

Helen quickly sat as well. The corset was killing her. It was all so realistic. "Those nightmares," she realized softly. "You were trying to communicate with me then, weren't you?"

Rex shook her head sadly. "Unfortunately I did not realize how different our methods of communication were. I apologize if I've caused you much pain—but I could not help it. As I touch on memory and emotion in your mind, my feelings of what is to come are expelled from me without my consent. It is like the process of breathing to you."

"Then, if you realized you were hurting me, why didn't you simply leave?" Helen asked, somewhat hurt.

"Because." Rex leveled those ancient eyes on Helen. "Because I am an empathetic creature by nature. I could not, in good conscience, leave you without imparting my knowledge of what is to come. And so I tried. I feared I would be too late."

All at once, the flashes of image flipped through Helen's mind again. But since she was technically sitting inside her mind anyway, the horrific scenes of Nikola's multiple, imagined deaths slid through the room itself, passing by Rex and Helen like a freight train. The little girl/parasite ignored the chaotic screams of blood, though, still staring at Helen.

"I saw this. I felt this. I tried to tell you, but I could not until now."

Helen's gaze was glued on the horrors flying past her and abruptly felt tears running down her face. She briefly wondered if that was part of the construct in her mind or if her body was actually producing tears. Her voice, when she gathered the strength to speak, was broken and whispery.

"I thank you, Rex. But you were too late. Nikola is dead."

Rex smiled that compassionate smile again. "Not yet."

Helen looked up sharply. The little girl's eyes welled with terribly strong empathetic tears and she abruptly hopped off the armchair and rushed to Helen, grabbing both of the doctor's hands in hers. "His heart may have stopped, but he is not gone, Helen."

"But…I…"

Helen's mind spun. And, again, since she sat inside her own mind, the room's edges darkened. Rex gripped Helen's hands tighter and the images from her nightmares flew through the room even faster until they blurred and all Helen could see was washed-out crimson red.

"The blood, Helen," Rex said. She was gripping Helen's fingers so tightly, the immortal briefly wondered if it were possible to break bones in a construct. The parasite gasped. "They are trying to wake you. You must go back. And hurry! There is very little time. The blood Helen. Remember the—"

Then the room exploded in a brilliant flash of red.

*

Helen sucked in a huge breath and jolted upright. Henry, Will, Kate, and John all hovered over her with identical looks of fear and worry. Without a word to assuage their concern, Helen shoved to her feet and grabbed John by the arm, dragging him over to Nikola's body. There, she pointed down, eyes ablaze. She could barely speak, but she forced the words out anyway.

"Pick him up."

"Helen," John tried to reason with her, as if she were an escaped lunatic. "I'm sorry, but he's…"

"He's not gone!" Helen yelled. "Now do as I say, or I swear I will raise the EM shield and rip you to pieces. Now. PICK. HIM. UP."

Without another noise, John obeyed. Helen grabbed hold of the Ripper's leather jacket and spoke one word.

"Infirmary."

And they were gone in a burst of red flame.

They reappeared in the middle of the infirmary and Helen was glad to see that procedure had been followed to the letter. Bigfoot stood at the ready for incoming wounded, as he did during every mission where he wasn't needed in the field. Even on his hirsute features, the surprise was evident when he saw the threesome arrive.

"On a gurney," Helen ordered.

This time, John did not argue, hesitate, or try to dissuade her. Helen met Bigfoot halfway in his crossing of the room and began giving orders.

"I want him in cryogenics now."

Used to stressful situations, Bigfoot didn't even waste time with a nod. He grabbed the end of the gurney that Nikola was sprawled on and fled to the stasis room with long, loping strides. Helen caught a glimpse of the red-smeared white sheets and Nikola's mussed hair before they were gone.

"Helen, this isn't healthy," John tried yet again. "And quite frankly, it is a sign of a disturbed mind."

Helen took three long steps and was inches away from the man, her expression the most threatening it had been since she'd faced down a modern-day Medusa and lived.

"Don't you dare tell me what disturbed is, Jack."

The hurt on Druitt's face barely moved an atom in her heart as Nikola's nickname for the Ripper rolled off her tongue.

"Now. Office."

She grabbed his arm again and stared straight ahead. Druitt sighed, but obeyed.

Henry, Will, and Kate jumped with noticeable astonishment when they reappeared. Helen ignored their worry and pushed past them all. Henry actually fell over from the force of her shove, but Kate grabbed his arm before he could hit the floor.

"Magnus? What the hell's going on?" Will exclaimed.

Helen paid him not the slightest heed. She sprinted right to the wall and yanked a ceremonial katana from its hanging. As the others stared, Helen expertly slid the blade a few inches out of its scabbard and flicked her thumb across the edge.

"Perfect sharpness," she muttered to herself.

"Doc, come on, you're scaring us," Henry pleaded.

Helen looked up at the werewolf and her heart surged at the look on his face. It was the look of a child watching his mother die in a hospital bed. She squashed that compassion quickly. She had to be quick, Rex had said. Nikola didn't have a lot of time—even cryogenics would only slow it down.

"The brain survives three to four minutes after the heart stops beating," she said, simply, snapping the katana back into its sheath and striding back to them. "With our level of stasis technology, I believe I can extend that to barely ten minutes. Any further explanation will have to wait until we return."

"Return?" Kate managed.

Helen shoved the katana at Druitt and he closed his fingers around it on reflex.

"Return from where?" Will clarified.

"We need the clone's blood," Helen said simply. She grabbed Druitt's arm again. "Let's go."

"What, that's it?" Druitt snapped, shrugging out of her grip. "You don't have a plan at all?"

"The plan is, you will decapitate him," Helen said, coldly. "It's the only way to kill a vampire short of a nuclear bomb blast. One clean strike. It has to be in one blow or he will regenerate."

"Hence the katana—one of the sharpest blades in existence even today," John murmured, cradling the weapon in the crook of his arm as if it were a child. "But why?"

"You're much better with a blade than me," Helen said. "And besides, I could never kill something that looks and behaves exactly like Nikola."

"And you think I can?" Druitt snapped.

Helen grabbed the front of his jacket and yanked him close. "I know full well that you are a killer, John, and as we are no longer in a relationship, you have no need to continue to hide it from me as if I am an ignorant girl. And secondly, I am also aware of your jealousy of Nikola."

"Jealousy?" John scoffed on a laugh.

"Because he's smarter, wittier, funnier, more intelligent. Because at every party, he had every girl's eye and they would barely look at you once. And it wasn't because he was better looking, but because he had an innocent fascination with everything around him. Because, even as a vampire, he was more alive than you'll ever be. Because, as of recently, I've finally given up on you and admitted that I love him. And because I know that you would enjoy brutally murdering him. Denying it is a waste of my time and Nikola's."

After a short pause, Druitt spoke softly. "How am I to sneak up on a vampire? Even my teleportation is no match for vampiric reflexes—I've tried it before and I have the scars to prove it."

"It will be enough if the clone is distracted," Helen said impatiently. "Drop me off at the cathedral and then get to higher ground. Watch and wait for the right moment, teleport, and deliver the kill blow."

"How is any of this going to help Tesla?" Will cut in.

"It's all about the blood," Helen murmured. When the others only stared, she felt rage boil up again. How could they be so unaffected and slow-moving at a time like this?

"Wait!" Will cried when she reached for Druitt's arm again.

"Speak quickly, Will," Helen said lowly.

Will took a few steps closer, his soulful eyes intense. "Magnus…are you sure?"

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt."

Will nodded, eyebrows frowning. "Okay. I just don't want this to turn into a repeat of what happened right after Ashley…" Will trailed off. Helen was silent, so he took a breath and dropped the bomb. "You've gotta learn to—"

"To what, Will? Say it." When he continued to waffle, she snapped. "Say it!"

"To let go," he finished softly.

"That's the problem," Helen growled. "I've 'let go' of too many dear friends in my life and for once, I refuse to be the one who continues on alone!" She grabbed Druitt's arm firmly. "Now. Let's go."

With another sigh, Jack the Ripper slung the katana onto his back and jumped.

*

As planned, John deposited Helen in the clearing that the old, deserted cathedral sat in and then vanished once more. For a moment, Helen was left alone in the peaceful forest. For a moment, she even thought she heard pigeons cooing. They sounded sad.

Then, the clone appeared from the inside the little chapel. The exact replica of Nikola strolled right up to her with the exact same smirk, wiping his hands with his handkerchief in the exact same delicate way.

Then Helen realized he was wiping blood from his fingers. Her Nikola's blood.

She automatically tensed, but forced herself to calm. With the practice of a century and a half, she put on a realistic sultry smile, eyeing him as he walked up.

"Helen Magnus," the clone purred. "Kiss me and I'll save your life. Whoops. Not my line. I get so flustered around you."

He eyed her lips and Helen fought the urge to punch him. How dare he act like Nikola? How dare he even pretend that he is the original and flirt with me? But the smile stayed on. "I could say the same," she murmured.

"Oh, really?" His eyebrows climbed.

Licking her lips, Helen stepped forward so that their bodies brushed together. She laid her palms on his chest and slid them up and around his neck.

"I miss this version of Nikola," she said, low and seductive. "Now, he's just a pathetic waste of time to drag around. He can't keep up. And he's aging." She rolled her eyes with a scoff. "But you…" She trailed one finger down the side of his face. "You're perfect."

That arrogant smirk she found so devilishly cute seemed wrong on his face. It just wasn't the real Nikola. There was something off in everything he did, in every word and every motion. She realized it was because he was well and truly mad—birthed into insanity by his very existence.

"Well, I can't say I blame you," he murmured, eyes gliding to her lips.

"I came back for you," she whispered. "I want to be with you. I don't care about the Sanctuary Network or Druitt or anything. I just want you to be mine."

Her heart hurt. She knew that every word was like the purest drug to the clone. She knew that what she was saying was everything that both the real Nikola and his clone wanted to hear. She was feeding him lies. But it wasn't really him. It was just a cheap copy—another Cabal monster.

In an instant, their lips were pressed together.

The next instant, she heard the telltale pop of dimensions ripping apart.

The final instant, she ducked sharply, ripping away from the clone as a perfectly-sharpened blade sliced the air itself.

The clone's head hit the grass, followed shortly by the thump of his body. Despite being the toughest woman on the planet, Helen couldn't watch. Fighting vomit and forcing herself to not see the headless neck, she grabbed the clone's arm and stabbed a syringe into it. She had to move quickly before the blood congealed in his veins. Once the syringe was full to the brim, Helen leaped to her feet and grabbed John in a full-out hug.

"Go!" she cried.

They reappeared in the infirmary and Helen took off for the cryo-room. Druitt stood where he'd landed, still holding the blood-smeared katana, and watched her run away. A faint smile twitched his lips. It was a smile of pain and loss, but also one of hope for her. The result was a regretful, bittersweet expression. She was lost to him now—he saw that at last. But at the same time, he had never seen her so passionate in any of her years with him.

"She really loves him," he whispered to himself.

The infirmary was empty and no one else heard him speak, but something about hearing the words aloud made it sink in. Still with that sad smile, John opened his hand, letting the bloody katana clatter to the concrete floor. He turned and glanced around the peacefully sterile room, fighting an unexpected surge of tears.

He'd gotten closure of sorts. Nikola's clone's death had felt good—there was no denying it. Yes, he could relax a bit more now. Who knew killing his rival could be so therapeutic? With one last glance over his shoulder, John sighed. He would come back someday—probably when they needed him most—but for now, his part was done and all he wanted to do was buy a stiff drink and dream that Nikola Tesla really was dead.

There was a flash of smoky red flame in the all-white room and then silence.

*

After administering Nikola's own blood to him, Helen simply stood next to him for a moment. She knew what she had to do next. For the second generation Source blood to take effect, Nikola had to be out of stasis.

But what if I'm wrong? Her mind panicked. If it doesn't work, he'll die. Really die.

She stared down at his pale face, studying every line of his features as if she would never see them again. Bigfoot had cleaned away the blood from the lacerations on his chest and bandaged them, but the blood was soaking through. His eyes were closed and his hair was beyond messy. A ventilating tube was forced down his throat and a menagerie of wires trailed from various machines to his lean body. All of this, plus the fact that he was restrained to the gurney in case he became violent, nearly made Helen burst into tears again.

She knew him well. She knew he would rather die instantly than stretch out a vegetable life for a few extra minutes.

And so, with tears flowing, she nodded sharply to Bigfoot. The sasquatch flicked the stasis off and the pod pulled up and away from the gurney. Helen only realized she'd been holding her breath when the heart monitor beeped faintly and she let it all out in a relieved sigh.

He was alive. Already, the Source blood had jump-started his heart.

Studying her with eyes that knew her possibly almost as well as the others of the Five, Bigfoot grunted softly to get her attention. "I will leave you alone."

"Thank you," she whispered.

He merely nodded with another hitching grunt and moved toward the door. He stopped there and turned. "What shall I tell the others?"

Helen didn't turn to face him. She remained staring at Nikola's face. "Tell them to pray."

*

The minute Bigfoot exited the sealed-off room, he was almost physically assaulted.

"How is she?" Will said. "And him. Both of them. How are they?" The usually coherent psychologist was clearly rattled.

"Dr. Magnus has administered Tesla's own blood to him," Bigfoot reported in his low growl of a voice. "She removed him from stasis and his heart has restarted on its own, with assistance from the blood."

"Meaning?" Kate pressed.

"Meaning it is working," Bigfoot explained.

"That's awesome!" Henry crowed.

Bigfoot looked decidedly less thrilled. "He may be alive, but he is not safe. His own Source-tainted blood is working to 'revamp' him, but apparently the original change was a long and difficult one. Dr. Magnus believes a second transformation will be even worse."

"So," Kate said, leaning against the wall with a weary sigh. "Not out of the woods yet?"

"I'm afraid not," Bigfoot growled, regretfully. "He still has a very high chance of dying."

"And Magnus?" Will pressed. "How is she?"

"Dr. Magnus refuses to leave," Bigfoot said simply.

Will nodded. "Could I talk to her?"

Bigfoot's eyes sparkled threateningly. "Tomorrow. Now, all she requires from you is your prayers and silence."

"I…'m not really the praying type," Kate muttered uncomfortably.

Grim-faced, Henry grabbed her arm and marched off for the chapel in the old house. "You are now, missy."

*

Helen could hardly bring herself to stay. Back at the initial injection over a century ago, she'd been the only one who cared enough to stay with Nikola. The other four had mild transformations. Helen's small seizure was the only thing close to what Nikola's body had undergone. Essentially, the others had simply gained a power and run off to experiment with it. Nikola's entire genetic makeup had changed over the span of twenty-four hours.

And now it was happening again.

This time Helen was more prepared. Back then, she'd sat up with him, fighting his fever and just letting him hear her voice in his comatose state. Then he'd become so violent that she'd had to flee the room and bar it behind her. He'd screamed and cursed and pleaded and sobbed and threatened all sorts of nasty things, but she'd stayed strong. Sitting with her back against the opposite wall, she'd stared at the door, sobbing and praying until it was over.

The second time around, the restraints were titanium weave. Still, the gurney strained as he thrashed, moaning in his sleep. Helen had eventually taken the respirator out as the Source blood continued to make him stronger. But she didn't know if his body could handle this violent transformation a second time. It killed her that her only solution to save him had been to revamp him. She loved him as a mortal. Of course she loved him any way he came, but it had been nice to be equals again.

After a particularly violent spasm, Helen reached out to the unconscious genius, tears streaming from her eyes. He was slicked with sweat of exertion and his eyes shifted agitatedly under his eyelids. He moaned off and on, continuously. Helen laid her cool hand on his fevered arm and leaned forward out of her chair to place a light kiss on his forehead.

"Please hold on, Niko," she breathed into his hair. "Don't make me go on alone." She kissed his unresponsive lips this time, gently. "Ja ne mogu živjeti bez tebe."

I can't live without you.

Then she sat back in her chair, right next to his gurney. She kept her hand on his arm as the next, even more intense seizure racked his slight frame. In that moment, watching his spasm with a tight, tear-stained face, Helen felt as if the pain was actually her own.

It would be a literal fight to survive.

He'd always been there for her. Just simply there. They'd been drawn together in the beginning by some underlying bond. Helen was the only woman at Oxford and Nikola was the only Serbian. They were both shunned from most social groups and were both the object of considerable jealousy because of their intelligence.

He'd been there from the beginning. Just there. She'd watched as he would talk his way into the most dangerous situations, and then finagle his way right out. He had doodled mechanical schematics during history classes and yet somehow passed every test. Even after Nigel and John and James had been brought into Helen's world, Nikola hadn't left.

It was no secret that he hadn't liked any of them and none of the other three had ever tried to hide the fact that they didn't much care for him. But all of the men were linked to Helen and—in her honor—they refused to kill one another. And so, a tentative friendship had formed between them all. The ties that bound them were soaked in jealousy, and yet still, Nikola had been there. He'd met with enemies, just to be silently at her side.

Helen pressed her fingers to her lips to keep from sobbing again as Nikola's back arched terrifically against the restraints. This time a layered growl emerged from his throat, vampiric in noise. There was less and less time between the episodes now and the pain was evident in his animalistic whimpers. Helen knew that pain alone could kill a man if it was intense enough and the transformation had only just begun. And Nikola was not yet fully immortal.

Vision nearly blurred by tears, Helen squeezed his arm tightly, where her hand still rested. She thought of all the people she'd lost. All the friends, family, and lovers. There were so many. And so many times she'd screamed against death and fought so hard to save them, even when she was powerless to do so.

Now, she simply cried, muffling her sobs behind her free hand. Between two jerking breaths, she managed to whisper.

"Don't die."

And thus the night passed. Helen Magnus sat at Nikola Tesla's side and watched as he underwent the worst torture known to man—normal and abnormal alike. She rocked back and forth to quell the screaming sobs that wanted to rip from her as he let out such cries of pain that they broke her heart. She held his hand, even when he gripped it so tight in agony that two of her fingers broke. She crooned nonsense over him in his native tongue, trying so hard to soothe him as his body ripped apart from the inside.

She was there until he finally collapsed into the gurney the next day, drenched in sweat and shivering lightly. With puffy eyes, Helen stared at the lightly beeping heart monitor. Smiling, she released a few laughing tears of pure joy. She looked down at the still-comatose genius and brushed at the half-dried tears on his pale face. He would be unconscious for several hours now, as his body recovered from the process.

But he had survived. That was what made the joy bubble inside of her. Helen tended to her cracked finger bones with ease and a simple shot of morphine. It would only take a day at most to heal completely. She suddenly realized that she hadn't actually slept in nearly a week. Sitting back down, she barely managed to weave the fingers of her unbroken hand in Nikola's now-cold ones before her consciousness fled her, forcing her body to sleep.

But still, she was there at his side, just as he'd always been at hers.

She was simply there.

TBC