Well, this was supposed to be February's Helen/Nikola challenge for Gateworld, but, uh...yeah. It kind of went in a different direction and doesn't match the theme anymore. ^_^ So, here's a random gift from my muse! I wrote it all in one shot, so there's that. Also, the whole thing of him tormented by trying to make up for his brother's death--that actually happened to the real Tesla. His brother, Dane died at a young age and Nikola blamed himself and spent the rest of his life trying to do enough and discover enough to essentially live Dane's life as well as his own. Also, the real Tesla had a fascination with pigeons. ^_^
Um, what else...LOTS of angst. "Sleepers" spoilers, and...oh yeah! Enjoy and review! :D
Rescue Me, My Angel
Nikola Tesla lay flat on his back on a slightly itchy Persian rug.
His arms were spread wide from his shoulders, eyes staring blankly at the neglected ceiling of the Sanctuary bedroom he'd converted into a lab. The balcony glass doors were open and the occasional breeze brought with it the scent of fresh air and civilization. The sunshine spilled in brilliantly, but Nikola lay just outside of it in the cool shadows. Except for the distant sound of cars, the room was deadened in silence and Nikola stared unblinkingly at nothing. All he wanted was to still his breathing until it stopped. To take advantage of his new mortality and just…fade…away…
Swallowing, he closed his eyes. He was so close, too. He hadn't eaten in over a week and hardly slept. It was all too easy to damage this newly mortal body of his. The pain had been nearly unbearable at first. He'd experienced pain like it before, but now it didn't fade as it once had. The agony just kept going. He could feel the frailty in his muscles—the weakness in his bones. He hadn't seen a mirror in days, but he knew his face must be pale and sunken by now. Staring at his reflection and not seeing that spark in his own eyes or the grin of vampire fangs was so heartbreaking that he'd contemplated breaking his self-imposed solitude for the sole reason of finding a weapon and ending it all then.
He'd even stopped engaging his mind with theories and tinkering. Mostly he fell into these trances and spent the hours staring at nothing and waiting for death. Evidently, his soul-crushing depression was too pervasive, even with the bone of magnetism that the Fates seemed to have tossed him. The bedroom/lab door was locked—and had been since he left Helen's office that fateful night. He'd been foolish. It was the closest they'd ever been since Oxford and he'd bollixed it.
When the tray slid toward him, Nikola felt his heart surge so suddenly, he nearly gasped. Instead, he managed to keep his cool expression and merely quirked an eyebrow in Helen's direction. She had no answers in her lovely eyes. Experimentally, he held out his hand. The tray leapt up, slamming against his palm so hard, it stung. The gasp half-came out now.
"Well." He cleared his throat and glanced at Helen, smiling now. "I can work with that."
She'd regarded him like she was thrilled for about ten seconds. Then she'd reached out and yanked the tray from his fingers with difficulty. Frowning and slightly irritated that she'd ruined his fun, Nikola let slip a curse in Serbian.
Helen frowned at him, since she understood. Then she set the tray down and scooted closer, her beautiful eyes shining with worry. "Nikola, you must be careful."
"I hardly think the tea tray was going to kill me, Helen," he retorted.
"Please, this is serious!" she exclaimed. "You've got to be cautious this time. Learn from your past."
"That past to which you refer wasn't so long ago," Nikola spat bitterly. "I'd appreciate if you wouldn't immediately squash the first hope I've had all day after veritably losing my identity."
"You've always been like this," Helen exploded. "You throw yourself headlong into everything without a care about anyone who gets hurt—sometimes even yourself! You're brilliant Nikola, but sometimes you have to think!"
He'd stood up then, unaccustomed to the angry flush that raced over his skin. Looking down his nose at her lovely, worried, and slightly irritated countenance, he sniffed arrogantly.
"I'm sorry, Helen, but this is who I am. I've gotten used to the idea that you don't have feelings for me, but you don't have to try to destroy mine for you with petty annoyances."
And then he'd turned on his heel and left. He'd worked through the night, but apparently his new power was not as incredible as he'd initially thought. After days of struggle, he could do nothing more than make pins twitch. Weeks of work and blatantly ignoring the pounding and screaming at his locked door, and where had it ended?
Waiting patiently for death.
Helen hated him once again and he was nothing more than a human. A human the entire world thought was long dead. He'd thought that with this new power he could be special again. He could be noticed and continue to make up for his brother's death—as he'd been doing all of his abnormally long life. Everything was for Dane. He had to live doubly hard to live for both of them. And though his parents were long gone as well, Nikola had to make them proud as well. But now he was nothing. Even Helen had given up on him. Watson was dead. The coldly observant detective had seemed to Nikola to be a kindred spirit. Now there was only John. And Helen. There was always Helen, even if she spat in his face.
Then suddenly, as if he were on the verge of crossing over, he heard the steady, rhythmic slap of glossy, feathered wings against a body.
The angels come at last, he thought.
He contemplated standing—or at least sitting up—but instead just kept his eyes closed. All at once, he didn't want to see the end.
"I'm coming, Dane," he whispered aloud.
But then something alighted on his stomach. Eyes still closed, he frowned. Toothpick-like pokes slipped through the weave of his Egyptian cotton shirt. Summoning the last of his strength, he lifted just his head off the floor in order to peer down the length of his body.
Two bead-sized black eyes stared back at him from a snowy, feathered face.
Nikola frowned and the white pigeon cocked its head in response. "Starvation hallucinations," he muttered to himself, his voice hoarse from disuse. "Hm. Unexpected."
At the sound of his hoarse voice, the pigeon's wings fluttered briefly. It blinked a few times and cooed before hopping again. Nikola finally noted why the bird seemed to be so uncomfortable. There was parchment tied around its leg with red ribbon.
Pulling his elbows in toward his body, Nikola was able to lever his shoulders off the floor. Groaning in exertion, he pushed himself the rest of the way into a seated position. As he rose up, the pigeon hopped off his stomach and repositioned itself on his thigh. There, it continued to jump around agitatedly, as if it knew that only he, with his opposable thumbs, could free it from the awkward burden.
With a practiced movement, Nikola scooped the pigeon up with one hand and cupped it against his body. He calmed it absentmindedly, as a force of habit, shushing and murmuring nonsense not unlike the bird's own soft cooing, while simultaneously tugging at the end of the silken ribbon. The parchment dropped onto the floor. Still holding the bird with one arm, Nikola unfurled the paper against the floor.
If love can fight to survive
The long years flying by
Then I and you have no excuse
To refuse to spread our wings
Energy surged into his limbs as if he wasn't half-starved and dying. Spry and engaged again, he somehow got to his feet using only one hand—as he still hadn't released the pigeon.
Who could've…he started to pace and muse. But no, it had to have been Helen, right? Who else could write poetry that beautifully? And who else would be remotely interested in him in that way? But she'd seemed so revolted by his profession of love in the catacombs under Rome that he'd nearly broken down in front of her right then and there—future Vampire King or not. The handwriting was different—but then again, wouldn't her handwriting evolve somewhat since the last time he'd seen it sixty years ago?
So many questions. His practically catatonic mind was overwhelmed with all of the theories and ideas and baffled emotions racing through him. Dizzy, he was suddenly made aware of the empty hole of hunger in his stomach for the first time in five days. Stumbling slightly, he managed to smash his hip into the nearby table and promptly thereafter slammed his hand down on the surface of it, thus stopping himself from falling back to the floor.
Swallowing his pride for the first time in…well, probably his entire life—Nikola focused his gaze on the bedroom door and started toward it through sheer force of will. He'd yet to release the pigeon and felt almost as if he were drawing strength from its tiny body. The bird seemed content in his lean arm and only gave soft cooing as advice and encouragement.
Miraculously, he made it across the room and fell against the door. Tiny beads of perspiration made his pale skin glisten slightly. His head still spun this way and that, protesting his use of oxygen for his nearly-dormant muscles. But Nikola was nothing if not stubborn.
He grasped the doorknob with his free hand, twisted, and pushed. Royal blue words greeted his eyes as soon as the door swung open wide enough.
Fly with me, lover.
Do not go the way of your brother.
He is gone and you are here
And you are anything but ordinary.
The words had been painted in large letters on the wall directly across from his room. Nikola leaned in the doorway for a break from his long trek and studied the paint. It looked even less like Helen's handwriting, but who else had heard his whining complaint about being ordinary immediately after the devamping? Well, the mercenary and the protégé. Nikola grimaced. The girl was lovely, but a bit annoying. And if young William had feelings for him, well, the boy was going to be sorely disappointed to learn of Nikola's resolute sexual orientation.
It took him a moment longer than it would have ordinarily, but Nikola finally noticed the thin line of blue paint going from the period at the end of the last line. The trail went down the wall and around the corner. Taking a deep breath and licking his lips, Nikola shoved away from the wall and began the even longer journey down the Sanctuary hallways. The blue trail went on and so, Nikola did as well. It was like his lifeline. Like the last thread of a hot air balloon that refused to snap. If he lost sight of it, he would lose the will to live.
Just this, he thought. Just this one last discovery and then I'll come, Dane. Wait for me, brother. Just one more problem solved…
He was panting by the time the line ended at a door. Taped to the dark wood was a piece of parchment that matched the one now lying on the floor in his room. Nikola read the final stanza to the ongoing poem through a vision gone fuzzy from blood rushing away from his brain in a frantic attempt to make his muscles cooperate.
Always I will be
By your side, lover.
Don't leave me, don't give up.
I love you.
And then, at the very bottom.
P.S. You look hot.
Well, that decided it. Swallowing in an effort to cure his suddenly dry throat, Nikola tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. Nearly silent, he pushed the door open and was greeted by such an angelic sight he thought he might have died after all and this was simply an elaborate entrance into the afterlife.
Helen sat on a window seat. One elbow was up on the sill, hand cupping her chin as she stared out at Old City. Her fantastic legs were tucked up underneath her on the cushion and she was barefoot. Her loosely-curled, dark hair fell midway down her back, free of any type of pin or restraint. She wore a simple white dress, light and flowing—so unlike her usual businesslike attire in the modern age and her bodice and skirts back at Oxford. The sun shone on her as if God himself was smiling from heaven at the angel he'd lost to the earth. Her hair looked like silk and her skin fairly glowed. She sat there pensively as if she was waiting for him.
"Helen…" he whispered.
She looked over sharply, startled. Her lips were parted and her wide blue eyes regarded him from under long, full lashes. Nikola swallowed again, but this time the dizziness refused to pass. He swayed on his feet and Helen immediately jumped up from her perch. As if sensing imminent collision with the floor, the pigeon cooed in a panicked fashion and easily escaped Nikola's rapidly numbing hand.
He crumpled as his vision swam to blackness. The last thing he saw was Helen flying toward him, white dress flowing like angel wings. He smiled as he fell.
Just before his knees would have hit the ground, Helen reached him, wrapping her arms around his middle. For a moment, she held him up, shaking only slightly. Then, unable to hold his deadweight, Helen sank slowly, gently to the ground. Sitting there with one knee in the air, she held Nikola in her lap, stroking his hair, brushing the now-limp spikes off of his sweaty forehead.
After a moment, he regained consciousness and she smiled down at him. He frowned in woozy confusion at the tears that made her blue eyes shine even more than usual. Shaking, he lifted his hand to her face. Helen grasped his long, elegant fingers and held them against her cheek, experiencing a jerk of fear and shock at how cold his skin was.
"Helen…" he whispered again. "I thought…"
"Shhhhh," she whispered back. "Don't hurt yourself, you stupid man. You're mortal now."
She nearly laughed in pure joy when his lips twitched in a faint version of that crooked smile she loved so much. "You mean I haven't died and gone to heaven?"
Helen gave him what would have been a solemn look if not for the smile that tugged her mouth up a bit higher on one side. "Not yet. And not for awhile if I have anything to say about it."
"This better not have been an elaborate ploy to pull me from that room," Nikola rasped, his voice cracking and hardly working. Yet he somehow still sounded dignified and came off as arrogant.
Helen smiled through her imminent tears. It absolutely crushed her to see him like this. "Everything I wrote was the truth, Nikola. All of it."
With effort, he pushed himself up a little higher, not quite sitting up yet, but nearly there. Helen didn't back away and so their faces ended up a mere breath apart. His crooked smile grew stronger and his eyes, a few shades lighter than hers, roved unashamedly over her face much as they had in the penthouse closet a few weeks ago.
"And you couldn't have mentioned this a little earlier?" he murmured.
Helen smiled and smoothly closed the gap between them, pushing her lips against his. For a moment, he seemed either too stunned or too weak, but then his mouth moved on hers, starting a tingle low in her stomach. Within seconds, their tongues and lips were gliding along one another, slow and lingering like dancers in a tango. Nikola managed to get to his knees without breaking their liplock and now used both hands to cup her face. Helen remained sitting, head tilted up to meet his. She kept her eyes open, at first, loving the unrestrained emotion evident in his usually composed face.
After a few heartbeats, she felt his weight shift toward her. She tried to catch him again, but ended up falling back. He landed on hands and knees above her with a wicked smile and she realized that it was not a lack of balance, but a purposeful nudge that had her on her back underneath him. He lowered down toward her lips again.
She held up a warning finger. "Ah-ah."
Nikola swiftly turned his head, kissing her upraised finger instead. Then her hand, her wrist, and all down her arm. Helen giggled like a schoolgirl and slapped his shoulder with her other hand. He yelped in genuine pain and she remembered why she'd stopped him in the first place.
"No more until you are well again," she said, firmly.
His face melted into a puppy-dog plea, but Helen remained firm. "I want you back in tip-top health before you get another single kiss."
Nikola frowned and looked almost angry. "You've evaded me for a hundred and forty years, Helen."
She smiled. "Then surely you can wait another week or so."
His eyebrows knit together in definite irritation and Helen lifted both hands to intertwine them behind his neck. As her fingers toyed with the hair on the back of his head, her smile curved into something both sexy and devious. Her voice, when she spoke, had a tone that Nikola had never heard before. It was low and seductive.
"After all...you'll want all your strength, won't you? Hmm...?"
Nikola's smirk matched her own as his steely eyes glided over her again. Helen could almost hear his thoughts in that moment. She blushed and almost smacked him again, but then he focused back on her eyes—still holding himself above her—and spoke.
"Would you do me the honor of escorting me to the kitchen for some sustenance, Miss Magnus?"
"Just as soon as you get off of me, Mr. Tesla."