Title: Four Times Pete and Myka Lied, and One Time the Truth Came Out
Fandom: Warehouse 13
Pairing/Characters: Pete/Myka, Claudia and Artie
Spoilers: None, really
Disclaimer: Warehouse 13 does not belong to me.
Author's note: 5K. Prompted by oltha_heri, who is becoming an awesome enabler! *glomps* And beta'd by the ever-wonderful lone_pyramid! (I really, really love my flist.)
It's Saturday night, and if anyone asks – and by anyone, she means Pete – Myka is reviewing old files from the Warehouse archives, doing her due diligence in familiarizing herself with some of the artifacts that have gone missing, stolen or misplaced over the years. The truth is – and this is something she'd probably only tell Leena, maybe Claudia – she's reading a book. This, in and of itself, isn't particularly earth-shattering. Myka with a book is like Pete with a video game; they go hand-in-hand during their time off.
The thing that makes Myka hide this particular book is – well, it's certainly not Shakespeare or Tolstoy.
It's Anne Rice.
Argh. Myka can barely even admit it to herself, but she found it in the back of the bookshelves of the bed and breakfast. (She wonders if it's Leena's copy but she's not willing to test that theory by asking.) And, well, Myka's always been of the mind that you can't judge a book by its cover, its subject matter, and its shortfalls in literary criticism. She's never been a fan of the mainstream gothic mania that centers on the subject of vampirism. She hears the word "Twilight" and rolls her eyes, thankful that the only teenager she knows is Claudia, who's far too levelheaded and cynical to fall for the sparkling vampires. (Really, seriously? Sparkling?) In any case, Myka is her father's daughter and even the worst book can offer some literary enlightenment. Right?
So sue her: it's a guilty pleasure. Myka's allowed to have at least one.
"Whatcha doing?" Pete asks, suddenly appearing from behind.
And Myka does this whole shriek-and-hide-the-book-behind-her-back move that fools no one. It's pride that makes Myka sit up straighter, facing Pete's pointed raised eyebrow with as much dignity as a person can muster after such an… undignified moment.
"What was that?" Pete asks.
"What was what?"
"That – the screaming and the girly jump. You practically did an acrobatic move there."
The best way to win an argument with Pete isn't to argue with him, but to deflect. "Oh, well, I could see where you'd be impressed, seeing as it's coming from the man whose idea of exercise lately is running up and down the stairs."
"Hey!" Pete says, offended, taking the bait. "It's good cardio, and double-hey, need I remind you I ran beside moving cars just as much as you did when we were on the Presidential Detail."
"We haven't been on Presidential Detail for a while, Pete. And I hate to tell you, but you're starting to get a little heavy in the tummy there—"
"What? I'm not. Take that back! I'm still in great shape."
"Yes," she agrees with a shrug. "If we're counting round as a shape."
Pete glares, and then waves a finger at her. "Wait, wait, wait. You're not gonna distract me. What were you doing?"
His eyes narrow. "Before I came in."
"What? No, that was nothing. I was just—"
"Are you hiding something behind your back—?"
"I saw a mouse!" Myka interrupts, pointing behind Pete.
And Pete, predictably, jumps and does a girly scream that somehow rivals her own. While he whirls and looks around for the phantom-rat-that-Myka-made-up-to-cover-for-the-vampires, she quickly stashes the book under her pillow. Pointing to the corner behind the dresser, she tells Pete about the mangy little rodent that apparently was "this big" (she holds her hands about half a foot apart) and had whiskers (she scrunches up her nose) and was chewing on some cheese (she has no idea where the cheese came from, but her mind automatically makes the connection of mice = cheese).
And, well, Pete buys it.
She wonders what it says about their partnership that Pete is willing to believe her on virtually anything.
Pete's Farnsworth is doing that thing where it hisses like it's personally affronted by his mere existence, emitting a low burst of static. The last time this happened, Claudia had done some tinkering with it that caused a lot of problems. Not to mention – hello, annoying. He tries to fix it, but his idea of fixing gadgets is basically hitting it upside the head until the reception clears. His dad used to call this 'percussive maintenance.'
"Would you stop doing that?" Myka hisses. "You're gonna break the thing!"
"It's already not working! What am I gonna do? Break it more?"
"Yes! Possibly. You don't know."
She goes back to check out the window at the growing mob outside the building, and Pete hits the Farnsworth again in the faint hope that it'll work, grumbling something about overbearing partners that he hopes Myka can't hear. ("I heard that!" she snaps.) They really, really need to get in contact with Artie. If they don't, he's not sure they'll be able to pinpoint the artifact that's apparently making everyone in town go one step shy of Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
"How's it looking out there?"
"Bad!" Myka replies. "They're trying to break through the door."
"Are they succeeding?"
"They're an angry mob, Pete."
He nods. "Right."
He pauses. He can hear the people downstairs break through the window, and he knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that getting the Farnsworth to work in time for it to do them any good is impossible.
"Here." He tosses the Farnsworth to her. "See if you can fix it!"
"Wait, wha–what are you doing? Where are you going?"
"I've got an idea!" he tells her. "Just find the artifact and neutralize it!"
Truthfully, he has no brilliant plan.
He makes it down the stairs just in time to see the angry mob coming towards them, complete with – shit you not – pitchforks and torches. He exits out the back door, runs down the street, and as hoped for, the mob chases after him. His main plan is something along the lines of run away from Myka as fast as he can, drawing the crowd with him. Hopefully he'll be able to distract them long enough for Myka to figure stuff out. She's good at that.
Though, really, any plan where "the mob chasing after him" is considered a good thing seriously has some issues to work out. He makes it around the corner and then slams into the pavement when someone tackles him from the side.
"Uh, I don't suppose we could talk this out?" he offers faintly.
The mob descends on him.
Pete really can't make out much, but he receives more than one blow and kick before the pain finally registers. The reality of the situation becomes all too horrific when someone stabs him with something. Pete cries out, curling up in a fetal position, taking hit after hit, feeling each blow from the growing crowd until he eventually passes out.
He wakes up in the hospital. Blinking groggily against the harsh light from above, for a blinding moment, a part of him wonders if he's staring into the bright light at the end of the proverbial tunnel or something equally as cliché. But with time comes sensation, and the thick grogginess melts away to leave Pete with the impression of stiff muscles and a dry, scratchy throat. So, nope, definitely not heaven. He's woken up too many times like this to mistake it for anything other than a hospital.
He groans, and an answering cry from Myka comes. "Pete? Oh my god, Pete! You're awake!"
The next few minutes fly by, and there's something about a coma and three weeks in a hospital – wait, what? He's been out for three weeks? He can't think properly, and when the doctors come and flash that annoying light in his eyes, he feels a headache spike and grumbles about turning off the light. In the back, behind the doctors and nurses, he can see Myka. Her eyes are red-rimmed and she's wringing her hands together in that gesture that usually means she's gone past all normal levels of anxiety into full-blown panic, and a part of him realizes – oh, three weeks. Man, that must have sucked for her.
He falls asleep again, without an opportunity to apologize. He's not exactly sure what he'd be apologizing for, but he can't stand seeing Myka like that and distantly figures it was probably something he did wrong anyway. When he wakes up the next time, the room is filled with Claudia, Artie, Leena and balloons. Lots and lots of balloons. Even when later Myka slips in quietly, all false good humor and grins, he feels uneasy bringing up the topic in front of the others. In fact, it's a full three days after waking up before he begins to approach the subject with her, and something strange happens.
Myka's face closes off, lips pressed tightly together, eyes boring straight ahead towards the back wall like she wants to set it on fire with the power of her mind.
He shifts in bed a little, uncomfortable. "Uh, is something wrong?"
"You had a plan?" she says.
"You. Had. A. Plan," she repeats in a dangerously even tone.
Pete can feel his vibes flipping out, screaming Danger, danger, Will Robinson! It still takes him a second to connect the dots. Oh. She's taking about what he said before the mob came through. The recollection is a little fuzzy; being in a coma will do that to a fellow. He clears his throat awkwardly and forces a smile.
"Yeah, it… uh."
"What," she begins, trying to keep calm. But Myka doing her trying-to-keep-calm face looks remarkably similar to Myka's I'm-gonna-kill-you face, and it's amazing how well that latter one freaks him out. "What, exactly, was your plan?"
He licks his lips. "I kinda didn't have one?"
She stares for a full five seconds. "So, you were just rushing out the door to, what? Save me? Buy me time?"
He thinks about a blanket denial, but he can't think up of a lie fast enough. It's easier when he's not on drugs. So, he just sits there as the silence brews, letting it answer Myka's question for itself. She bolts up from her chair, pacing back and forth, back and forth, to the point where he's getting a little dizzy (again, the drugs), when she abruptly stops and levels him with a glare.
"You don't get to do that anymore," she tells him.
"No, Pete. Listen to me very carefully. You don't get to be all self-sacrificing anymore. You don't get to deflect an angry, homicidal mob. You don't get to push me out of the way of a moving car only to get hit yourself. You don't get to take a bullet for me. You don't get to do any of that! We're partners, Pete. Partners. Do you have any idea what that means?"
"Yeah," he flings back, a little irate. "It means I've got your back and—"
"It means we're in it together!" she exclaims, and okay, now she's yelling. "Fifty-fifty! My life isn't more important than yours, and you don't get to make a unilateral decision to sacrifice yourself for whatever harebrained notions of chivalry run amuck in that hair-gelled brain of yours!"
But she isn't letting him get in a word. "Promise me, Pete. I swear it, if you don't promise me right this instant that you're gonna stop doing that, then I'm—" she trails off, and her jaw clenches, but Pete's gaze is drawn to the fact that she has tears welling in her eyes. "I'm gonna quit, you hear me? I'm not gonna watch you sacrifice yourself for me. I amnot gonna live with that. Do you hear me?"
He waits a beat, sitting quietly in something along the lines of stupefied shock, hoping the tirade blew off some of her steam. "Myka," he begins in a soft voice, meant to be calming. "I know you're upset—"
"No, Pete," Myka interrupts. "I'm way past upset. Promise me, or I walk out this door right now and hand Artie my resignation. Right now."
His heart monitor gives away the quickening of his heartbeat. He clamps his mouth shut, because a part of him, fearful and small, realizes that she's serious. She would quit, and the idea of doing this without her – it's not an option. It's so seriously not an option that he has trouble wrapping his brain around the notion.
The thing is, the promise she's asking of him is equally impossible.
"Okay," he sighs, as if relenting. "I promise."
It's the biggest lie Pete's ever told.
They wake up together, Pete the big spoon to her little spoon.
Weirdly, it takes a few seconds for Myka to remember why this is a strange sensation. She blames that on the grogginess because she's never been the quickest to rise. When she takes a slow breath and embraces it, burrowing down deeper into the softness that surrounds her, she hears Pete makes a nose suspiciously like a moan.
"Eww," Claudia's voice drifts in. "I feel like I just walked in on my parents."
It's that sound that wakes her up.
Eyes cracking open, Myka spies Claudia and Artie standing in the doorway, the former horrified and the latter embarrassed. She then notices the heavy arm across her waist, the scent of familiar aftershave and the breath tickling near her ear. She tilts her head aside, and Pete blinks groggily at her.
They both jump apart as if burned.
"Wha-what?" Myka begins, but she can't process any further than that.
They're in a factory of some type, abandoned and dingy. They'd fallen asleep on the floor and when Myka tries to connect the dots, fill in the missing blanks, all she gets is one big question mark. Details only slowly start to trickle in as Pete starts swearing up and down that nothing happened, and then she remembers: oh god. The artifact. Myka can't remember everything, but she distinctly recalls being overcome with the sensation to hold hands, and skip, and sing merrily—
There was kissing.
Oh. My. God.
Myka remembers kissing Pete.
"We were knocked unconscious!" Myka exclaims suddenly.
Claudia raises an eyebrow in disbelief. "By a cuddle-monster?"
It looks like the memories are dawning on Pete as well, because his face has that look on it, y'know, that look, like he's constipated or something? He's not jumping forward to help with the cover story, so Myka, who's normally not the best at this type of stuff, is left to cover for them all by herself. She can't think of a thing, though. Her voice comes out like a croak because Pete scrubs a hand over his face in a stupefied gesture, and Myka gets a flash of something else his hands had been doing last night.
He got to second base!
"Wow," Claudia remarks, idly. "You're both speechless. It must have been some night."
Myka curses the fact that her face has gone bright red, and tries in a high-pitched voice, "No, it's really not what you think. It's just… y'know, he landed in a way to cushion my fall, and, and—"
"Enough!" Artie waves his hands to forestall the word-vomit protests. "We don't have time for this. There is an artifact on the loose, people. Focus. What was the last thing you remember?"
Pete and Myka exchange glances and then quickly look away. "Uh, you know, it's all a bit hazy—"
"Really hazy," Pete adds.
"We both took a bit of a blow—"
"A big blow," Pete says.
"And there was a lot of confusion before—"
"Really confused," Pete stresses.
"Pete especially fell really hard—"
"I was really hard," Pete says, then does a double-take. "Wait, no, that's not what I meant to say!"
Myka wonders if she can claim they're still under the artifact's influence.
It's cataloguing day at the Warehouse, and as Myka has learned the hard way, a Bored Pete is not a Safe Pete.
"When we get out of this," Myka threatens, "I am going to—"
"Ah!" Pete cuts in. "Let's save the threats for after we get out of this. Then, please, feel free to wax poetical about it. Until then, a little less yapping and a little more hopping. Move three steps to the right, and then we can go down the next hall."
"Your right or mine?"
And they hop, rope-tied together, back-to-back, down the aisle. The rope that ties them tightens a little, vice-like, and Myka for the first time worries about being choked to death. Thankfully, it isn't that bad. Yet. In fact, all things considered, it could be worse. Too many of these incidents have come close to catastrophes, but thus far the worst of it this time around has been spent hogtied together. It's embarrassing, and a little annoying, but hardly the worst thing that's ever happened to them in the Warehouse.
But here's the thing: Myka's got a date tonight.
A date that she's gonna be late for, because why? Because she's spent half the day hogtied to her partner, that's why. And Jacob is cute and normal. She doesn't understand it, but ever since getting this job at the Warehouse, her prospects on the romantic front have either been disastrous or non-existent. Jacob is an accountant. A normal, everyday accountant. He's also the first guy to ask her out in months, and she hasn't really been this excited about a date for a while. She just wants a little time to feel normal, be a girl. Is that so much to ask?
Myka and Pete make it down aisle 374 by hopping one hop at a time, and she knows the answer to that. In the Warehouse, there can be no such thing as normal.
"This isn't even my fault, really," Pete tries. "How was I supposed to know the rope would wrap itself around us? It isn't supposed to do that! It's supposed to go up in the air and then I climb it like, y'know, Jack and the beanstalk or something."
Myka clenches her jaw, refusing to dignify that with a response.
The rope was supposed to be simple and harmless. Yeah, right. Nothing in the Warehouse is harmless. One would think, after over two years of working in this place, Pete would have figured this out by now. But nope, he's a kid in a candy store. No, actually, he's worse. At least a kid eventually grows up. Myka has her doubts about Pete.
"Hey," Pete offers, huffing a little, "this is actually good cardio."
Myka resists the urge to growl, a little breathless herself. "Yeah, great exercise, Pete! But now I'm all sweaty and dirty, and even if we get out of here within the next hour, I'm gonna be an absolute mess. I haven't even changed for my date!"
"Oh, relax. The sweaty, dirty look works for some guys."
Myka rolls her eyes. "Really, Pete? Really?"
"Oh, c'mon. The guy won't care what you wear. Even if you wore a potato sack, you'd still be prettier than 95% of the world's population."
There's a long beat of dead silence that follows.
Myka opens her mouth to respond but she doesn't, because she doesn't know how to respond to a statement like that. She still can't take a compliment on her looks, especially from Pete.
"Um, y'know," Pete covers quickly, when he realizes the awkwardness. "Not that I'm saying you're pretty, or anything."
"Of course not."
"I'm just making an observation."
"I mean, if he asked you out, he has to think you're pretty, right? So, I'm just speaking from his point of view. Not mine."
"Gotcha," Myka agrees, more than willing to play along.
They aren't fooling anyone. Myka wonders, not for the first time, why these moments always cause such extreme levels of awkwardness. They're both adults. They're a man and a woman, and acknowledging looks or even a hint of attraction should not reduce them to bumbling teenagers. Yet, every time, it does. Without fail.
"What do you think of Jacob?"
There's a pregnant pause. "He has good hygiene?"
Myka blinks. "Hygiene?"
"Yeah, I mean, he was well-groomed. Clean-shaven. Nice, fitted suit. His haircut was so perfect I wonder if it was molded in place."
"So you think he's good looking?"
"Whoa, wait. I never said that. I said he was well-groomed. You can have a dog that's well-groomed."
"Are you comparing my date to a dog?"
Pete halts at the end of the aisle. "Why do I feel this is becoming a conversation I can't win?"
Myka sighs. "Nothing, just… never mind."
They start hopping along again, and Myka pushes down on the part of her that had been hoping, ever so slightly, to get a reaction out of Pete regarding her date. God, what was she hoping for? Jealously? She clamps her mouth shut, fighting back a rush of embarrassment. Pete has no reason to be jealous, and Myka has no reason to want him to be jealous.
(The thing is: because they're back-to-back, she never sees the ugly face that Pete makes every time she says Jacob's name. She never notices the way he tenses every time she mentions her date, and she never picks up on the tell that he hasn't once apologized for making her late. Myka just takes that to be Pete's normal behavior. It doesn't occur to her that there's deeper significance.)
"If my date gets cancelled," Myka mutters, sourly, "you're cooking me dinner tonight."
"You want Pete's Infamous Pasta?" he asks, and Myka perks up a little.
"Definitely. Oh, and we have to get comfort food, too."
"Don't worry. I've got a drawer full of Twizzlers already."
It's five years to the day since he first joined the Warehouse team. Pete thinks it's poetic that this marks the last time he'll probably ever lay eyes on it, too. He watches Myka from afar as she loads her SUV with the last of her personal belongings, waiting behind the corner of the building in the only camera blind-spot. It takes a few minutes for her to finish up, and he observes from a distance as Claudia and Leena hug their goodbyes. He watches Artie stutter out a farewell, and the entire time, Pete just feels sick that it's coming down to this.
He watches silently as Myka gets in the driver's seat and rides off down the long empty road. He doesn't do a thing to stop it.
Leena and Claudia reenter the Warehouse, while Claudia moans about "this being the suckiest week ever," but Artie stays outside. Pete waits a full minute for Myka's car to disappear into the horizon, before Artie forces him out of his hiding spot by calling him out.
"Are you sure you wanna do this?" Artie asks.
"I have no choice," Pete replies. "You know until I get rid of the curse, I'm a danger to everybody around me. It's better if… it's better this way."
"She's thinks you're dead, Pete," Artie says. "She's quitting her job, packing up her life and moving back to D.C."
"That wasn't supposed to happen," Pete refutes, a bit angrily. "You were supposed to make sure she stays on."
Artie glares. "Myka doesn't do anything she doesn't want to do. You know that. And did you really expect her to stay on after she thought you were dead?"
Pete pauses, because honestly, he isn't sure what he thought. This is the worst-case scenario come to life, and he's flying half-blind, hoping that pieces will fall into place.
Two weeks ago, Pete had been sent overseas to retrieve one of the oldest artifacts they've ever discovered. A Pharaonic carving from ancient Egyptian times; what they didn't know at the time was that it was rumored to condemn those who've removed the piece from its resting place in Cairo to suffer a horrific curse. Those around the cursed individual would meet a most violent death. Pete, unfortunately, had the dubious honor of removing the artifact, and three people surrounding him had died before they'd realized what was going on. Myka had even started showing signs of the illness. That was when Pete decided enough was enough.
Two weeks later, and the entire world – save for Artie – thinks Pete Lattimer is dead.
He hooks his thumbs in his jeans and glances away, his shaded eyes staring straight towards the horizon. Myka once told him, point-blank, that she couldn't do this job without him; he'd taken it at the time as high praise, but now he rethinks through everything. The world needs Myka as a Warehouse agent. And Myka needs the Warehouse just as much, though he knows she'd never admit it. It's just wrong for her to let go like this, and it leaves him a little speechless that she's left because of his alleged death.
"I just need time," Pete says, a little desperately. "I can follow the leads and track down the stolen corresponding piece to the carving. When I return it to that resting place, the curse will fall away. Until then, I just can't stay near people for any extended length of time. It took only two days of exposure before Myka started feeling the effects. I can't risk that again."
"Yeah, well, there's a problem with the plan of isolating yourself from humanity. Humans are pretty much a global epidemic. Lucky for you, I have ways around that."
Pete claps his hand together, forcing a grin to lighten the mood. "I knew I loved you for a reason. You've always got thecoolest toys."
Artie rolls his eyes, opening his small bag to retrieve several artifacts. "This one will allow invisibility, but use it only sparsely because you'll start to get sick after prolonged exposure. This other piece will allow you to repel other people. It'll push them away and they won't even realize why they're doing it. Of course, if you're in a small place and they can't go anywhere else, they'll turn violent on you. So don't—"
"Don't use it in small places, gotcha."
Artie nods, going though the details of three more artifacts that will help Pete lie low. When he's through, he carefully places the items back in his black bag and hands it over to Pete.
"Whoa. Your bag? Artie, I can't take this. It's yours."
"It's only a loan," Arties chides. "Besides, I just forgot to bring another container with me, so… yes, just bring it back to me in mint condition."
Pete takes the bag, a little humbled.
They stare at each other, both at a loss for words before Artie breaks the silence again. "Look," he begins, shifting uncomfortably and wiping his glasses in a familiar nervous habit. "I know I'm not the best person to talk about mending relationships. The way things went with MacPherson, I'm the last person on Earth that should be talking about the bond between Warehouse partners. But this… she won't forgive you for this lie. You know that, right?"
"At least she'll be alive to hate me," Pete responds. "Remember, mum's the world."
Artie clamps his mouth shut, nods, and then freezes. His eyes go wide, staring at something over Pete's shoulder. A slow sinking feeling hits Pete and he turns around, coming face-to-face with a shocked-looking Myka. Her jaw hangs open, eyes wide in disbelief and there's tears in her eyes. Pete stands there, frozen for a split second, trying to come up with something to say.
And then, abruptly, he's also coming face-to-face with Myka's fist.
"You liar!" Myka screams, face turning red. "You big, fat, hypocritical, unbelievably stupid, self-sacrificing liar! How could you do this to me?"
Pete cradles his nose in one hand. "Aren't you supposed to be glad I'm alive?"
Myka swings another punch but Pete manages to duck it, this time. "How could you lie to me about this? I thought you were dead, Pete! Dead! I went to your funeral. I saw your mother. I told your mother what an honorable man you were. Little did I know you'd turn out to be a stinking liar!"
"An honorable stinking liar?" Pete tries.
Myka tosses a look over his shoulder. "And Artie–don't think I can't see you backing away there! I'll get to you in a moment!"
Pete wonders if maybe hiding behind Artie wouldn't make him unmanly.
Myka pokes him in the chest, punctuating her words. "You idiot! God, I don't know whether to strangle you or hug you."
"Um," Artie begins, holding a finger in the air. "I think this is probably something you two need to discuss in private. I'll just be—"
"What?" Pete exclaims. "Wait, no. Don't leave me—"
But Artie makes a quick retreat while Pete is left to fend for himself against a tirade from Myka the likes of which he's never seen before. Wow, she can really scream. For the most part, Pete just stands there and takes it, and though he didn't like lying to her about this either, he knew this was going to be her exact response. He can already anticipate her next argument, too – and damn if she's gonna insist on coming along and helping. Not when a mere two or three days in his presence can lead to her death.
He holds up a hand. "Myka, wait, stop! I know what you've been going through and—"
"Oh, do you? Do you really? I don't think you do, because—"
"You're upset, I get it. I'm a hard guy to get over."
"Oh, god." She makes strangling motions in the air, groaning. "How can you be so infinitely maddening in a moment like this?"
"My Lattimar charm?" he tries. "Look, I get that you're upset I lied—"
"Upset isn't the right word."
"I'll get a thesaurus later, but right now—"
The next thing he knows, he's back-pedaled against the Warehouse wall and Myka's kissing him. Let's repeat that:Myka's kissing him. Shock swallows his ability to think, all thought functions ceasing at the very first contact, because,hello, Myka's tongue in his mouth. He doesn't resist, not even for a split-second, because even with the shock of finding himself kissed senseless by Myka, Pete can't resist because – well, it's Myka. He's thought about this too often for his own good, even when he knew it'd never happen in a million years, not even if they were last man and woman on Earth.
Turns out, it isn't everybody else's death that triggers this response; just his own.
When she pulls back, Pete's still a little too mind-whacked to comprehend what just happened, and Myka says, "Don'tever lie to me like that again."
And all Pete can do is nod.