Chapter 23 – Never Time
Helen lifted her head from under her hands, feeling a flaming piece of debris fly over top of her.
She stood up quickly looking at the charred and exploded remain of the warehouse and the facility beneath it.
Her eyes stung with the heat, and a flash of fear caused her heart to beat rapidly in her chest.
She started running towards the ground zero, her breath threatening to get lost in her throat as she ran.
"Magnus!" yelled Will.
"Stay here! Wait for Jacques!" she commanded not stopping.
"We got the rest of them loaded in the van, they came pretty quietly," said Kate, coming up behind Will.
"That's good, we need to get this kids in one place, make sure they're ok…" said Will quietly, his eyes still watching Magnus run.
Helen ran, hoping against hope that Nikola's parlour trick had succeeded once again; it saved him in Columbia.
"Nikola!" she shouted, hoping for some kind if response.
She heard a gasp and her heart caught in her throat.
She saw a hand among the debris, reaching out for something.
She grabbed ahold of the hand.
"Nikola! It's ok, I've got you, I'm going to get you out!"
She kissed the knuckles of the hand lightly before pulling away the debris and dirt on top of it.
She heard him gasp again and his head peeked out with a ragged cough, she cupped his head.
"Nikola! I think your magnetism is my new favorite power," she smiled.
"Yes well, it has served me better," he winced.
"Can you crawl out," she ruffled some of his hair.
"Not really, no…" he winced again.
She moved more debris off him and hooked her arms around his and pulled him out. He let out a strangled and painful cry.
Helen gasped at the sight and knelt down beside him.
"Oh Nikola," she pulled him into her arms, his head resting over her heart and her arms wrapped under his armpits.
His upper torso was intact but the explosion had removed his legs from the knee down.
He ground his teeth, to keep in his pain.
"Parlor tricks…only really work once, at least the good ones," he laughed, his voice strained.
"It's fixable Nikola, a little painkiller and some physio you'll be back to your jolly old self in no time," her voice betrayed her words.
"I don't think it's as simple as that," he leaned into her more, his bark arching in pain.
"Don't say that," Helen bit her lip and kissed the top of his head.
"Helen, I love you," he put his hand over hers. "I should've said it more often…time seems to slip away when you're having fun."
Helen laid her head on the top if his and bit back her tears.
"Yes, doesn't it," she choked out.
"Do you remember what James always used to say about me?" he winced slightly.
"He's an arrogant ass and no company in their right mind would hire him," she joked.
"No, besides that one," he chuckled weakly. "Back in the old days."
Helen smiled in the fond memories, remembering exactly what Nikola was talking about.
"My, my, dear Nikola, on the backs of pigeons you'll fly away…" she said, her cheek nuzzling the side of his head, holding to him tightly as if he would fall if she let go.
He smiled slightly.
"Yes, that's the one," he looked away sadly. "They're coming for me now, Helen, they're coming and I don't have enough time."
Helen felt a tear escape.
"Don't be ridiculous, Nikola," she kept her cheek on his head.
"I've never been so lucid in my life, Helen, my life has never been fair, I've always lost more than I gained, but I did gain your love, if only for a little while, and we really did have some of the most marvelous adventures," she felt him weaken slightly in her arms.
"We did, my, we did…but you're wrong Nikola, you didn't gain my love, you've always had it, I love you, more than that lunatic," she chuckled weakly.
They sat for a moment in a comfortable silence, a heavy sun falling around them, Helen cradling him in her arms, rocking him gently while his blue-grey eyes stared off into some form of space, neither here nor there, but his hand never leaving hers.
"Pigeons…pigeons…pigeons…" he muttered almost as softly as the wind.
And just as gracefully as he had entered her life, he was gracefully taken out of it.
Helen didn't let go, or shift to check if he was gone, she just knew, and she cried silent tears for her old friend, for her lover.
She didn't hear Will come up behind her and stand, petrified by his own heartbreak for her.
In fact, she didn't hear any of the team, she just held on to the slowly cooling hand in her own and cried, and they let her.
~~~~Puerto Rico 2002 ~~~~
Ashley shot cover fire at Richter Van Hagen's goons while Javor Dragoslav, her Serbian assistance snuck behind them into the room they were guarding.
It was full of scantily clad women, sitting among satin curtains and flower petal, lounging their feet into the small pool in the centre of the room.
One of them came up to him and touched his shoulder gracefully.
"Are you here for business or pleasure?" she drawled into his ear, her tongue just gently touching the lobe.
He instinctively pulled away from her and brought a handkerchief to his ear and wiped.
"Neither as far as your concerned," he scanned the beautiful young faces.
"Then what can I do you for?" she said just as heavy as before.
"I'm looking for a specific girl, she's who I want, and only she, and you, my pretty friend, are going to help me find her," he said pointedly.
"Your wish is my command," she said, her eyes leering at him.
"I bet you say that to all the men," he gave her a sardonic smile and he flipped out a picture of Helen Magnus, a picture he had leant from Ashley, his own still tucked securely in his breast pocket. "This is the woman, have you seen her?"
"The masters new girl, we've been prepping her for him, she is…unavailable for our customers," the woman let out a heavy chuckle.
"I, dear lady, am not a customer," he took out a gun, also on lend from the wonder-Magnus.
He let his eyes change into their terrifying blood-black, but in a blink it was gone, and the woman's prowess vanishing with it.
"He won't let you take her, he plans on making her his wife, she is much more tightly secured than we are," the woman had a hint of panic in her voice.
"Take me to her, and I promise no harm will come to any of you," he said sincerely.
Her eyes widen.
"You mean to free us?" she said, a hint of hope leaking into her voice.
"If I have to yes," he said flatly, keeping his eyes fixed on hers. "But this woman is my friend, I have to rescue her first."
The woman nodded.
"They won't let you come in like that," she said handing him a robe and face veil.
He sighed, of course he couldn't, that would be too easy…
He threw on the robe and covered the bottom part of his face so only his eyes peeked out and the woman sprayed some fruity scented stuff at him.
"Hold still!" she barked and his eyes were forced shut as she smeared thick eye make-up across his eyelids. "There! You make pretty girl."
Javor cringed, it was sad because he did; he was certainly skinny enough to pull it off, which didn't really make him feel better.
"Now take me to her," she waved him in the direction down a corridor, to a door that was guarded by two buff, tanned, and armed men.
"We're here to prepare girl, master wants her ready for tonight," said the woman, her prowess returning.
"Whose this fine flower?" said one of the guys, looking at Javor, his hand reaching out to caress his cheek, and he muffled a growl.
"She's new, not to be touched until the master approves!" said the woman.
"I won't tell if you don't," the guy said, smiling deviously, showing off a fine set of gold teeth.
Javor was repulsed.
"I have an obligation to these girls, you do not touch until Master approves, now let us in," said the woman, her voice growing louder.
"What would I get in return? Give me 5 minutes with her, it won't matter one way or the other…ooh she has nice hips," the guy grinned and Javor tried not to flinch or roll his eyes.
Damn his skinny ass hips…
Javor made a giggle sound, so not to be suspicious.
"It will matter! If Master finds out then you are executed and I am beaten!" she pulls him away from Javor. "She is off limits!"
The guard turns fast and hits the woman hard across the face and Javor springs forward and grabs him with a clawed hand, pulling him off his feet.
"Now that's no way to treat a lady, your mother would be so disappointed!" he growled in his deep unnatural voice.
He dug his claws into the man's side letting him crumple to the floor, and he quickly broke the neck of the second guard.
Javor pulled of the veil and use it to wipe off the make-up in his face.
He went over to the woman who was cowering on the floor.
"Are you alright?" he asked kindly.
"Ok, go back with the other ladies, keep them safe, you'll be free from this place soon," he helped her to her feet and pushed her in the direction they had come before he dragged the officers out of sight and slipped inside the room.
The room was covered, ceiling to floor with pieces of white and pink fabric, candles, and flower petals, a grandiose bridal suite if he'd ever saw one.
He walked deftly over to the massive canopy bed in the middle of the room.
Incense burned in almost every corner of the room, filling it with an almost intoxicating sickly sweet aroma of lavender and vanilla.
His hands reached for the thin curtains of the canopy bed, hesitating slightly, unsure of what was lying behind them.
He pulled them back gently, his gaze falling on her peaceful form, like Sleeping Beauty.
"Helen," he said softly.
He tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, caressing her chin gently.
She lazily opened her eyes a crack and looked at him with a content, if slightly drugged, sigh.
"Nikola…" she murmured happily her hands sliding over his face.
He instinctively leaned into her embrace.
"I'm here Helen, I'm going to take you home now," he took her hand and kissed the top of it lightly.
"I…missed you…sooo nice to see you again," she slurred.
"And I missed you, we can catch up later, but first I have to get you out of here," he said, attempting to pull her off the bed.
"What's the rush?" she tugged him down on top of her, giggling in her heavy, drugged state.
"Helen, I'm flattered, but now is not the time, and I doubt you will think kindly on it when we get these drugs out of your system, so lets get you home, Ashley is waiting…"
She grabbed the sides of his vest and pulled him towards her, trapping him in a hard kiss.
He squeaked slightly in surprise at her forwardness, especially when he felt her hands trail down his chest and undo the buttons of his vest and shirt.
Nikola jerked away from the kiss.
"Helen! As much as I'd like to, this is neither the time nor the place, nor the state of mind I want you in, please, let me take you home," he pleaded with her.
She grinded against him even more, and it didn't help that she was in very little clothing.
His temporary distraction had allowed her to flip him over and pin him down helplessly under her.
"No, Helen, I really think that you should listen to me now…don't make me do this by force."
Her hands slid up his chest sensually.
"Mmm, force…" she drawled, leaning down and kissing him again. His senses were in overdrive. Part of him wanted to give in, let her manipulate him into a corner, let her have her way with him, but the other part, the logical part of him knew that at any moment Van Hagen's men would be in here, ready to remove him permanently.
He wasn't afraid of them, he was just afraid Helen, or her young daughter would get caught in the crossfire.
Helen's hand slipped just under his pants line and Nikola spun them around, trying to gain back control, she just giggled and reached further.
Nikola acted fast and pinned her hands above her head, his breathing heavy as he focused on controlling both her and himself.
"Helen! Snap out of it! You need to snap out of it so that I can get you, and Ashley out of here safely, this is not a game!" he barked.
She just laughed, the drugs coursing through her system preventing her from fully comprehending anything other than how horny she felt.
Nikola winced at the thought, but knew it was the only way to get her out of here without having to worry about another incident like this happening again.
"Forgive me Helen," he pulled out the gun from his belt and cracked her over the head with it, effectively knocking her out cold.
He removed his white oxford shirt and slipped it on her over the skimpy bikini number she was dressed in, to protect her modesty. He then scooped her up into his arms and quickly made his way out of the room, looking for Ashley.
He made it into the front foyer but was greeted with Van Hagen and his gang of douche-bag henchmen, and a slightly beaten, but otherwise alive Ashley, her hands zip-tied behind her.
"Very well done, my good man, you proved very cunning, but this is where it stops, give me the woman, she is mine!" spat Van Hagen, his dutch accent as thick as his cigar smoke.
"I doubt she'd agree with that," snarled Nikola.
"Her opinion doesn't matter," scoffed Van Hagen, "She is a woman, to be seen and enjoyed."
Nikola growled audibly.
"Sexism went out with the dark ages, my friend, oh forgive me, I forgot you're dutch," Nikola retorted bitterly.
Van Hagen sneered.
"Insult my people all you want, you are not making it out of here alive," Van Hagen lifted his hand and his men poised their weapons at him.
"Are you so sure about that?" chuckled Nikola, he looked down at Helen, unconscious in his arms. "Fine, you win, I propose a trade off, the woman for the girl."
Van Hagen eyed Ashley.
"Why should I give you the girl?" he laughed.
"Because she's a child, and it's the only way I'll leave peacefully," Nikola said sternly.
"Fine, release her," said Van Hagen and one of the men came up behind Ashley, undoubtedly groped her and cut the zip tie restraining her arms.
She got up and ran over to Nikola, hiding behind him as he lowered Helen to the floor and stepped back, his hands in the air.
Van Hagen nodded to his men to retrieve her.
"When I say now, take your mother and go as fast as you can, get back to the hotel, call the police, then call your friends at the Sanctuary…ok?" Nikola whispered to Ashley.
"What about you?" she asked,
"I'll be fine, just get your mother and yourself as far away as you can," he said, his eyes not leaving Helen.
The men walked up to Helen, bending over to reach her arms.
"NOW!" shouted Nikola, and he lunged forward knocking the men off their feet and tossing one into the other men so that Ashley could get away cleanly.
"After them!" cried Van Hagen,
"You'll have to get through me first!" Nikola growled, revealing his blood-black eyes.
Ashley pulled her mom out of the villa and got her to her feet, she heard several gunshots resounding inside and some screams, but she chose to ignore them, getting her mother as far away as she could.
Helen Magnus woke up her head throbbing, and she couldn't remember where she was.
"Mom!" said Ashley, coming to her bedside.
"Ashley? Where are we?" she asked, putting a hand on her head to steady herself.
"You got napped by some rich dude to become his concubine, it's ok, we're safe now," said Ashley putting a hand on her mother's arm.
"Where's Big Guy?" Helen asked, looking around.
"Well…" Ashley averted her gaze.
"You came here alone?" shouted Helen.
"I had some help, an old friend of yours apparently, he's gone now," said Ashley.
"Who? What old friend of mine?" Helen grabbed her arm causing Ashley to look at her.
"He asked me not to tell," Ashley said.
"I don't give a damn what he asked you, tell me who helped you rescue me," ordered Magnus.
"What does it matter? You're safe! We're safe! Jeez mom, take a pill," Ashley crossed her arms defensively. "You were about to become dutch boy's 7th wife!...He said he only wanted you safe, he left us the room, and you're even wearing his shirt, if he was a baddie he would've shown signs by now."
Helen let out a small sigh.
"You're right," Helen looked over at her daughter, "You at least called Big Guy right?"
"Of course, he's on his way, private charter and everything, this isn't my first rodeo," Ashley mumbled, getting up to make some tea. "You're welcome by the way!"
Helen laughed and shook her head, taking a breath of fresh air. She stood up and went to the window, admiring the sunset picturesque view. She heard something, like a crumpling sound, like someone had stepped on a piece of paper, but it was coming from the breast pocket of her shirt.
She reached in and pulled out an old photograph, letting out a small laugh as she recognized its origin. She remembered that evening as if it had happened yesterday.
Hand-in-hand at the old fairground, it was the last pleasant memory they shared together, the picture made it seem like they could've been young lovers, no wonder he had kept it.
Her fingertip outlined his face on the picture.
Helen looked out of the large window in the library of her Italian Villa, wearing a worn white oxford shirt she had found in the back of her closet. It smelt of lavender and vanilla, and a hint of something else she couldn't quite place.
As soon as she put it on she remembered how it had ended up in the back of her closet, abandoned and forgotten.
This had happened approximately 3 days ago, the day after she had returned from Paris, heavy-hearted and down one team member. From the moment she found this shirt she searched through her collections, through her photo albums, through every storage space, memory box, and plastic bag she stuffed things in, searching for items, any items that reminded her of him.
She was amazed by what she had kept, and amazed even more so by what she hadn't.
Memories brought tears, but they were comforting.
But a chance rifle through her desk had sought her a letter, sent from France.
The paper was as familiar as a signature and she ripped open the letter as if it contained the oxygen she needed to breathe.
It was Nikola's last Will & Testament so to speak, he never actually wrote one, the one in 1943 had been faked leaving all his possessions in her charge, and since he was immortal at the time having a real will seemed rather pointless, he obviously had sought the need in Paris.
It wasn't so much a will as his last wishes.
This had led her to pack her bags and fly, urn in hand, back to Italy.
How ironic a choice to ask to be buried in Italy, not Serbia, not in the Sanctuary flower beds, but her villa in Italy, in the back by the pond.
She had the grave dug that morning but the rain prevented her from finally putting Nikola to rest.
She didn't mind, it gave her time to think. She cradled a mug of tea, snuggled into the oxford shirt, sat by the window and looked at all the small trinkets and photo's she had found. A lot of them she had put away long ago to forget, but now were the only things keeping him unforgotten.
A small necklace he had made for her back in Oxford, a turtle made out of melted glass, a photo of them at the fair, a letter he had written to her asking her if he'd left his socks over at her place, little things that had made her relationship with Nikola special.
Helen didn't realize when she had fallen asleep, or what time she had woken up, but the sound of the doorbell resounding through the house roused her from the window bench.
The sun shone through the house, so it was definitely morning.
She opened the door.
"Delivery for an H. Magnus," said the deliveryman in a heavy accent.
"Uhh, yes, that's me," she squinted at the sunlight.
"Sign here please," he said, handing her a clipboard.
"What is it?" she asked signing the sheet on the clipboard and handing it back.
He shrugged as another deliveryman carried a wooden box, she could only assume was heavier than it looked.
It was handed to her and she lugged it back into the house, she wondered who could've sent her such a heavy thing.
She placed it on the coffee table of the sitting room of her villa, curious to know what was inside the wooden box, and who sent it to her, but she passed on her curiosity to make herself some breakfast first.
Three cups of tea and a scone later she was back, staring at her mysterious package, unsure if she should open it.
Eventually her curiosity got the best of her and she pried open the top of the wooden box.
She gasped as she saw the contents contained with in, her hand let go of the lid and it landed with a thunk on the floor.
Inside the box, was a perfectly sculptured marble gravestone with Nikola's name engraved on the front, and an engraving of a pigeon standing gracefully.
It was like he knew…everything that had happened so far…it was like he knew…
Helen felt a new stream of warm tears fall down her cheeks.
It was so Nikola, always in control, even in death.
He knew where he wanted to be and who he wanted to be with, and where he was going to die, she wouldn't be surprised if his death was on his terms.
She looked over at the beautiful urn holding what was left of the mad scientist, they never did find his legs, perhaps they never will.
Helen went over to the urn and opened the top of it and took all the precious items he had left her and placed them inside except for the picture of them at the fair, the white shirt he had left it in, and the glass turtle he had made for her so many birthdays ago. The rest she left with him.
In the heat of the Italian afternoon she carried the urn to the back of the garden by the crystal pond, to the small grave that had been dug yesterday and put the urn inside and pushed the dirt overtop of it.
The gravestone was placed on top, right by the trunk of the tree and Helen kissed her fingers and placed the kiss on the top of the marble stone.
"Here you are Nikola, just like you asked, I'm not surprised you picked this spot, it looks just like our spot in that park in Oxford. The big willow tree, the pond…all we're missing is a few pigeons," she felt her voice get caught in her throat as everything hit her. "I'm sure you'll be happy now, in whatever afterlife you've created for yourself."
Helen felt a small wind caress her cheek and she nearly imagined it was the soft hand of her lover, comforting her in her time of sadness.
"There was never the right time for us, was there…" she looked down at her hands in her lap. "You waited a long time for me, now I guess it's my turn."
Helen got up and ran a hand through her messy hair, letting out a deep sigh.
"Goodbye Nikola," she smiled sadly before turning around and walking back through the garden.
"Do the pigeons talk to you?"
Helen stopped and heard the smallest of cooing sound coming from behind her, she froze just listening to the rustling of wings.
She turned around slowly, her heart not even daring to move like her feet.
There was a man, standing by the big willow tree by the small pond. The leaves of the willow were slowly cascading down to the ground around him.
The man stood silently.
In one hand was a small loaf of stale bread, which he crumbled up with his other hand and gently dropped to the ground for the small group of pigeons collected at his feet, he repeated the action, just muttering the slightest of encouragements to the birds.
Helen eyed him, watching his every move as her cared for the hungry birds, how gently he lowered his hand to them and let them take perch upon his finger.
She stepped closer, silently, a cat stalking.
She was just about two arms length to him, and she studied him and his gentiel nature with the utter fascination.
"Do the pigeons talk to you?" she asked suddenly, breaking his reverie.
His blue-grey eyes met hers and he wiped his hand on his trousers nervously.
"Only if I let them," he said, his own curiosity considering the beautiful woman who had spontaneously chosen to speak to him.
"And do you?" asked Helen again, a small giggle escaping her lips as she smiled at the man.
"Yes," he said flatly.
She let another giggle escape, but her eyes never left his.
"I'm sorry, I recognized you from earlier, I was curious as to what you were doing," she finally broke her gaze and looked down at the grey birds fluttering at their feet.
"Oh yes, you're the girl who has been auditing classes, I've seen you as well, sort of…" he still eyed her.
"My name is Helen…Magnus, and you're Nikola Tesla, I remember you from the lecture, you caused an awful ruckus," she smiled at him.
"Yes, well…" he turned back to the pigeons.
"So were you talking to pigeons?" she asked, a hint of amusement.
"I wasn't I was…voicing my thoughts out loud," he looked away trying to ignore her small giggle.
"You were talking to them, like they were friends, it was adorable," she smiled stepping closer to him.
"Well, people talk to pets all the time, cats, dogs, birds…"
"Pigeons? Do you consider them your pets?" she looked up at him.
"Of course not, they're stray birds in the park!" he defended.
"So you consider them friends?" Nikola opened his mouth to speak but he was at a loss for words, her smile had taken them from him.
"Do you?" she said after a moment.
"Not as much as I do you," he looked at her, his fingers combing lightly through her dark curls.
"I miss you," Helen said, sadness coloring her voice.
"Can we stay like this…forever?" he lifted up the hand holding the loaf of bread and she wordlessly ripped a small piece from it and threw it to the hungry flock.
"I would like that very much," she smiled at him again and he smiled back.
He wordless touched her lips with his in a tender kiss, his hands cupping her face. Helen closed her eyes, letting the single tear fall down her face and into oblivion, they could've been kissing for an eternity she couldn't tell, but neither wanted to pull away from each other, and neither felt the need for air.
His hand left her face and took her hand, breaking the kiss.
He turned to face the flock of pigeons and smiled, offering the loaf once more, which she accepted with a smile.
And without a word, hand-in-hand, they fed the pigeons…together.
My, my, dear Nikola, on the backs of pigeons you'll fly away…
Finally it's the end, thank you to all who eagerly read each chapter of this long and arduous story. I hope the ending wasn't too corny.
I'm sorry if you wanted Nikola to survive, I wanted him to live to, but it wasn't the story I wanted to tell, so forgive me.
The story was really about Nikola's last days on earth, the flashbacks were his life flashing before his eyes so to speak, all the moments he had with Helen, and what he should've done, but their love could outstand anything, even death.
Interpret the ending how you will, but really it was like them replaying their first meeting, do the lines seem familiar?
He called it their perfect memory, so it suits that he would want to live out his afterlife in the only perfect moment his life ever had.
Again thank you for reading OTBOP, if you enjoyed it you'll also enjoy The Troublemakers, and I plan to write out the whole story of Puerto Rico 2002, as seen in this fic, cause it's a fun idea and I like it.
Read and Review :)