Author's note: Now we're getting somewhere… if anyone is still interested in the conclusion of this twisted tale (okay…that's still a little ways off).
Sarah rifled through papers.
It seemed what was called for in this particular brand of circumstances... At least, it's what everyone always did, wasn't it?
But, why, really?
It was so obviously useless. Even those not in their right minds would never keep their evil plans on the top of their desks in their rather public office, amongst travel vouchers, field reports and the latest paleontological journals.
Now, desk drawers...
Ooh, a locked one.
Gently, she shifted the infant sleeping in the sling against her chest. With slightly more mobility, Sarah was able to crouch down level with the drawer and evaluate the challenge it posed.
She pulled a bobby-pin from her hair, loosing some black locks to tickle her cheek.
Wasn't that why plucky, adventurous (and/or nosy) women used hair fasteners at all?
She shoved the wire into the keyhole and twisted it about in a wholly unscientific manner. With a click, the mechanism gave way.
Wow, she thought. It actually worked.
With another glance round to ensure the coast remained clear, she pulled the drawer open. Given the stories she had heard about Helen Cutter, Sarah half-expected the desk to explode in a spectacular shower of plastic, metal and glass.
Hesitating slightly, she peered into the depths of the drawer.
It contained pencils.
Apparently, employees at the ARC were just as prone to the fallacy of workers everywhere, and free-range office supplies were not safe. Sarah couldn't deny she oft found her favourite writing implements MIA. And if she were to be brutally honest, she sure as hell stol-borrowed some of her coworker's. But still, all that work for nothing but pencils in varying degrees of sharpness?
How was this piddling about getting her an iota closer to being back in his arms?
"Damn!" the archaeologist cursed in quiet frustration. The baby stirred.
"Pardon my language, Tru," she whispered apology, holding her daughter close and rising to her feet. Her eyes desperately scanned the office crowded with just so much stuff. The lack of hours Helen Cutter was putting into the anomaly model may have been proof enough for Sarah, but for anyone else it would only evidence a waning work ethic.
A book caught her eye. Up on the shelves, tucked neatly amongst the other volumes and tomes. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. As twisted as Helen was, there were some consistencies about the woman. At least, Sarah hoped it were the case.
Unintentionally, she held her breath as she carefully slid the book from its home. Almost as soon as it was free, a small, soft leather-bound book slipped from between the false covers. Part of Sarah was saddened by the butchery of the first edition of Charles Darwin's legacy, but the revelation was far more satisfying.
There was no mistaking Helen Cutter's journal.
Sarah Page had held it in her hands before. It seemed so long ago that she had delved deep into the depths of insanity denoted on the yellowing pages of the worn memorandum. With a quick check upon the baby snuggled into her chest, thankfully still asleep, Sarah began to page through the journal cursorily.
After a mere few seconds, she could no longer stand the suspense of reading the proper way, and went for the cheater's method. She turned it over and began flipping through from the end. The blank pages went on for quite a bit, until finally she found the last entry.
It wasn't the specific content of the ramblings that eased the tension in Sarah's shoulders. It was the fact that so much of the journal was blank. The last entry was far, far earlier than it had been the last time she had perused the journal. No mention of apocalypses, of having to stop Nick Cutter, of site 333...
This was an earlier version of Helen Cutter.
Why hadn't the possibility occurred to them before? The woman ultimately met her end by raptor in the Holocene. But she had been hopping through anomalies for who knew how many years prior. A decade or so in their linear 21st century timeline could've been many for her, or mere days. Her life was not linear. She lived it jumping from epoch to epoch. Danny Quinn had witnessed her death, but that didn't mean she was entirely dead to them.
For a brief moment, Sarah was overcome with the triumph of the discovery. She near ran to find Connor, Abby, Danny -even Lester- and show them her proof that the world was wrong and it was Helen's doing. Then her sense of preservation kicked in. The woman was dangerous. Lester was a rock, not likely to be swayed from what he believed to be true reality.
Nerves kicked in again, the fear of discovery now greater that she held the vital key to fixing the timeline in her hands. Hastily, she made her way to the photocopy machine in Helen's office, praying that it wouldn't take long to duplicate every smidgeon of information from the nutter's journal.
The only sound in the office was the clack and hum of the machine set to its task and her fingers impatiently drumming upon the top of the device. Every moment that passed increased her anxiety until she found herself looking over her shoulder every few seconds.
No doubt picking up on Sarah's nerves, Tru stirred awake and began to fuss, a small hand fisting in her blouse. Taking a few deep breaths, Sarah first tried to calm herself before she rocked and consoled the baby. She stopped her quiet attentions to her daughter only to turn the pages of the journal and press the copy button.
She almost sighed in relief when she pushed the button to duplicate the last page, or in this case, the first page of the memorandum. That was until she heard the footsteps in the hall.
When she heard the other set of footsteps and the voices, she did sigh in relief. Someone had stopped Helen to ask her a question about what exactly, Sarah couldn't make out and did not rightly care. It bought her a few seconds, maybe a minute, but there was no way out of the office without Helen knowing of her presence.
She grabbed the paper copies out of the tray, folded them and tucked them in behind Tru in the sling. She practically ran toward the shelf, scooping up the false cover and sandwiching the journal in it as the door handle wobbled. Her hand was still raised to the shelf when the hateful woman entered.
"Is there something I can help you with?" Helen asked, poorly hidden disdain in her voice. Sarah turned and faced her with what she hoped was a much better false geniality.
"I wanted to double check something for the model but I've seemed to have entirely misplaced my Origin of Species," she explained. "I figured you'd have one lying around and wouldn't mind if I..." Just to test the woman, Sarah went to pick the volume off the shelf.
"Not that one," Helen said sharply, adding. "It's a first edition. Very fragile."
She walked over to a precarious stack of books and picked through it, eyeing Sarah suspiciously all the while. For her part, the new mother maintained her civil facade. The lying bitch handed her a recent publication of the classic treatise. Sarah accepted it with a smile.
"Thanks," she said. Helen stopped her, peering into the bundle held against Sarah's chest and reaching out to stroke the infant's cheek with the back of a finger. Only by setting her teeth could Sarah refrain from flinching. Talk about insult on top of injury!
"She's a pretty thing," Helen observed of the baby. Sarah fought the urge to punch her square on the nose in the way Becker had taught her to defend herself.
Instead she gave her thanks for the compliment and vacated the room in as easy a manner as she were capable of. After she had made her way to the safety of her own office, shut the door behind her and sat down, she took a few minutes to calm her breathing.
Tru became all-out fussy. Sarah took the opportunity of nursing her baby girl as much as for the meditative calm it rendered upon her as for seeing to her daughter's hunger.
Everything was going to be okay. She now had Helen's plans. They took some interpreting, but Sarah had gotten inside the mad woman's head before. Last time, she had almost fallen to pieces. But she had Becker by her side. They never would've gotten Connor and Abby, and Danny back without him. Now, now she was on her own.
No. She had Tru. And while the three week old infant took more of Sarah's attention and offered no actual physical assistance, she was a solid rock in her existence. Her center and her imperative to fix everything.
She would figure out what Helen Cutter had done. She would reverse the damage.
The only question was How?
A/N: LA LA LA…. Angst coming up next. And Stephen (I know I've been neglecting/avoiding him, but to be frank, he was never one of my favourites…)