Category: John/Helen, Helen/James, angst, romance
Spoilers: 3x08 – For King and Country
Word Count: ~1300
Summary: Despite it all, Helen never stopped loving John.
A/N: Thanks is owed to jackwabbit for the beta. Without her, there would have been some rather… interesting… sentence structures. Nevertheless, this was written (and posted) under the influence of a dreadful cold and complete exhaustion, so I'm not sure if it is up to my usual standards.
The first time Helen saw John after she shot him came as a complete surprise – none of the other four members of The Five had expected him to show up at the incredibly pompous (even more pompous than The Five themselves in their heyday) Oxford reunion. After all, Helen, James and Nikola had only agreed to attend at the last moment – and on a whim at that. Back then, there was still a thrill to be found in the indiscreet stares and whispers from those who were once their peers. The Five, apart from John, who was somehow charming despite his brute strength and intimidating demeanour, were always outcasts from society. In their school days, they were all reviled for various and petty reasons and had formed their own elite clique in response.
Now, well over a decade later, they were still a source of fascination and had even inspired the respect and awe they had so coveted in the past. They basked in it, pleased beyond measure that they were the centre of attention, even if it was only supposition on how they had managed to not age a day since they last set foot in Oxford.
To the other attendees, the surprise of the night was that Montague John Druitt was alive. They had all read that he had been found drowned in the Thames and some had even attended his funeral. To his friends, the fact that he had survived Helen's bullet didn't come with that much of a shock – while there was a copious amount of blood on the scene, James had determined that none of the blood splatter possessed the right trajectory to have come from John. Helen, being a physician, had privately double checked James' conclusions by analysing the blood for the manufactured genetic abnormality that The Five shared. It had come up clean – there were no traces of John's blood mixed in with Molly's.
If anything, Helen was mostly surprised by the long scar on John's right cheek. The scar and the way her heart soared and shoulders lifted, unburdened from a previously unnoticed weight, were her greatest surprises when John had walked into that room.
Helen had cursed her heart fervently. How dare it, that traitorous muscle, keen so strongly for a murderer? And not just any murderer, but the elusive Jack the Ripper, the man who once topped Scotland Yard's most wanted list? How could she love a monster? And, dear God, did she ever love him. Though tainted now, the fire that had consumed them both during their days in Oxford and their passion-filled engagement still burned and she knew that both John and James saw it in her eyes.
When John stepped into the corner claimed by his small circle of friends, James yielded his position nearest to Helen, as he always had, to John without a comment and barely a sideways glance. For his part, John had taken James' place without a missing a beat and had preened in his position of honour. Nikola, damn that Serb, simply smirked behind his glass of wine and Helen couldn't help but suspect that the absent Nigel was lurking about, naked and invisible, and laughing at his friends. He had always preferred to observe the group before making his presence felt, and his invisibility only made him more prone to lurk in the shadows.
It was no matter that her heart still beat for John; Helen had finally consoled herself late that evening, cold and alone in her overly large bed. It just meant that the organ was not a fickle one and the passage of time was not yet great enough for it to move on. It was the next day that she began her hunt – she had tasked herself to find the bastard and then… well… Helen tried not to think about that part.
She never did have to find out what to do with her ex-fiancé – whenever she wasn't sabotaging her own hunt, James was. He had barely pulled her out of a deep depression when John had come strolling into that reunion and he had neither the desire to give Helen up to the other man nor to watch her suffer in silence again.
Years had passed, nearly a decade, before the next time they truly saw each other, again in a lavishly decorated room, much smaller this time, with the other three members of their circle. The Five had been given a task by His Majesty, King Edward the VII, himself. Hunt down their erstwhile classmate Adam Worth and deal with him however they deemed necessary.
Despite the gravity of the situation, Helen had found herself expending considerable energy on just paying attention to the Prime Minister's words. At every glance and sly touch from John, her chest constricted distractingly and she found herself at her sanity's end.
James, the traitor, had made himself scarce whenever John was around. He had flashed that infuriating smirk at her when she had demanded an explanation for his abandonment – was he not her paramour now, not John? His answer, so entirely James, that he was fine with John's position as first in her heart since he was the one she turned to now, did little to assuage her annoyance and guilt.
His later, drowsy statement, after Adam had died (from her bullet, regardless of that fall, oh God, she had truly killed a man in cold blood this time. She was a killer – a murderer – now. No different from John) and John had disappeared, was that it was fine to still love John, despite his misdeeds, because she was Helen. Loyal, unwavering Helen and, with her expected lifespan, it had been but a blink of an eye since they were engaged. James' kind words were enough to sooth her worries for the night and Helen had rolled over and laid her head on his chest with a sigh. James, surprised at Helen's uncharacteristic desire to be held, traced absent patterns along her sweat dampened spine.
For eighty years after that, Helen didn't speak with John. She knew that he and James would share an occasional drink every few decades and that, on the times their paths crossed, he and Tesla would exchange blows. And she saw him, on occasion – just glimpses in the night that sent her blood rushing through her body. But never once did John ever stay long enough in Helen's vicinity to exchange words. His presence was always noted, though – Helen grew to be quite observant.
She wrote off the increased tempo of her pulse at those times as simple shock –nothing more.
When she saw him for the first time with Ashley – her daughter, his daughter, their child – my God, they shared a child and she had never told him, Helen was struck by how much she still loved him. Eighty years without speaking and a part of her still yearned for him. Eighty years and now that bastard was holding her daughter – their daughter – hostage and the part of her that wasn't clamouring in fear for her daughter was aching to step forward into his arms.
It was so wrong. And Helen desperately – so very desperately and so very futilely – didn't want to be in love with him any longer.
But Helen suspected that, even with another hundred and fifty-seven years and thousands of atrocities committed by the both of them, she would still love him. She, with all of her education, knowledge and supposed wisdom garnered for a long (oh so very long) life, would continue to be in love with the man known Jack the Ripper.