Disclaimer: I do not own Warehouse 13, if I did, there would be a Simon & Garfunkel artifact =)
Author's Note: Well, turns out I could not stop thinking about this story and decided to continue it. I intend to continue it after this chapter as well. Enjoy! Reviews are nice ;) (And thanks to those who reviewed chapter one! It's nice to hear from those who enjoyed this story thus far.)
Weak, yet penetrating, light was emitted from the florescent bulbs in the ceiling, creating the eerie feel a hospital is never found without. The walls were blank and emotionless as they closed in slowly down the lengthy hallway. It was by no means the warm place of healing and hopes that television commercials made such places out to be. It was cold and clammy, the hands of Death himself closing slowly around each and every corner. One would have to work hard at keeping any hopes alive in a place so chilling and brutal.
Pete charged through the halls, refusing to give it the slightest chance at sucking him into its vortex of bleak despondency. His arm extended behind him, his hand closed tightly around Myka's, who trailed behind him, a certain pensive fear glimmering in her pale eyes. Pete's approach to the situation could not have been more different from hers. He felt safer crashing through the barren hallways, charging forward and shoving his fears away as they threatened him, jeering from the sidelines. He merely put a deaf ear to them. Myka, on the other hand, had the immense urge to cower away; to find a rock to hide beneath. She wanted to be far from this place and take her time preparing herself for what lay somewhere beyond. The only thing keeping her was Pete's firm grip on her hand, pulling her-nearly against her will-in tow behind him. The thought crossed her mind that perhaps the reason Pete held on so tightly wasn't to force her to stay and face the truth, but rather because her presence was the only thing that kept him from running and hiding too.
They rounded another corner, yet another endless white hallway stretching out before them. Pete came to an abrupt halt, checking his whereabouts and confirming their arrival at the correct room. As he began to reach for the cold, metal handle to the door, Myka suddenly tugged him toward herself and away from the door. He stumbled over his own feet, his dark eyes quickly finding hers, a surprised question posed within them. She swallowed slowly, though incapable of ridding herself of the thick feeling in her mouth. Her eyes quivered, pleading with him to wait for her to be ready for this as well.
With understanding, Pete stepped toward her, nearly closing the space between them. He slowly reached out his hand and gingerly touched her soft brown hair, rubbing a single curl between his fingers. His chest tightened as his heart tugged, his eyes searching her face, her complexion ghostly. Her full lips parted slightly. Her pale green eyes retaining the same dread and fear he had seen in them before. His thumb gently caressed her temple and her eyes reluctantly fluttered shut. He leaned forward, pulling her body to his in a strong embrace, his hand holding her head, fingers in her thick hair. She immediately became limp in his arms, leaning into his chest, feeling the comforting beat of his steady heart against hers. Pete put his lips to her ear, whispering reassuringly. "She's strong."
Myka nodded before quickly regaining her composure. Stepping away from him she smoothed her shirt and wiped her hands on her pants, her lips tightening. She avoided his powerful gaze ineptly, her eyes searching the walls, which beheld nothing to adequately distract her from the man before her.
Finding her eyes again, Pete held her gaze with his. Were she not nervously wringing her fingers, he would have taken her hand and held it between his own. "You're strong too, Myka."
Her stiff posture loosened and she smiled weakly at him. He gestured to the door again in proposition. At her nod of consent, Pete opened the door, leading the way in.
There within, Claudia lay on a hospital bed, less than comfortable in appearance. Her left leg was casted and propped upright into a sling coming from above, only adding to her apparent discomfort. She stared blankly, or perhaps slightly angrily, at the bleak white ceiling, her head propped up on a stiff pillow. She seemed to be completely unfazed by the sound of the door opening and closing again, never breaking her stare at the white-washed ceiling.
"Claud?" Pete hesitantly crossed the threshold of the room, unsure of whether the nineteen-year-old was completely consciously with them. The response he received in return was first one of alarm as Claudia jerked her head down to view the new intruder. Then the confused surprise contorted as her face illuminated.
"Pete!" Her relief at seeing someone other than another annoying doctor there to puzzle over how her injuries were even possible nearly matched her delight at seeing her kindred teammate. Her chestnut colored eyes found the woman shadowing her friend and her grin only widened. "Myka!"
"Hey, kiddo! How's that gnarled up leg?" Pete jested, patting her leg in its cast and receiving an immediate wince from Claudia and a scold from Myka, who still shadowed closely behind him.
"Oh yeah, they got this baby under wraps like Harry Potter eight," Claudia said through her grimace of pain, a sly grin on her face. Her humorous spirit alive even amidst her pain and anguish was remarkable to the two older agents; a true sign of how very strong Claudia was.
"We were so worried about you," Myka conceded, finally stepping out of Pete's shadow. She moved to the edge of Claudia's bed, looking her over. The redhead had a crimson bruise festering on her cheekbone along with various scratches about her face and arms. Her hands had several cuts, some thin and scabbed, others bandaged, and even one stitched shut. Her lower lip was busted open in one place, but she hardly seemed to notice. In fact, despite all the reasons she might have had to be cringing in pain, Claudia's face still radiated with joy.
"Psh! Myka, please. I was worried sick about you! They towed me off to hopsickle land and I knew Pete would immediately go find you. I was," Claudia faltered, dropping her comedic timing, "y'know…I was kinda scared he—. I was scared he wouldn't."
Myka blinked and found extra moisture in her eyes, letting a small laugh escape her lips as she took Claudia's hand and squeezed it, replacing the firm hug she wanted to give her. Her throat tightened and she swallowed hard to relax it. "Claudia…" she sighed, "You have no idea how glad I—we are that you're alive."
Turning her head away, Claudia's face hardened, her jaw clenched stiffly before her face began to crumple. A sob caught in her throat and she squeezed her eyes shut. Myka crouched, putting herself level with Claudia, clasping her handle between hers. She felt Pete's hand on her shoulder.
"I couldn't find it!" Claudia cried out from between her sobs. "I—I had seen it, but everything was burning and—and I couldn't find it." The last part of her sentence was in audible, her words strangled out in her throat but still mouthed inaudibly. She shook her head, tears rolling down her cheeks. Coughing momentarily, Claudia spat out the words like something foul in her mouth, "I failed him."
Before Myka could open her mouth to console the young girl, she felt Pete's grip tighten on her shoulder.
"No, Claud. You didn't fail. You're alive. Artie succeeded."