So this is a new little thing I thought I might attempt. It's a series of semi-unrelated one-shots centered around Helen/Nikola and what kind of shenannigans they might have gotten into had they been engaged/married/together. They won't go in order, really, but will be just random snippets of certain years and events. This first one is where it branches off into AU from the flashbacks seen on the show.
001. fatality - summer, 1889
It was sweltering hot as Helen stepped outside, fan closed tightly in her hand. Outside proved to be surprisingly cooler than the inside of the manor, as there was a strong breeze blowing across the grounds. The doors and windows had been thrown open in order to cool off the inside, but most of the time it had only succeeded in blowing around documents and causing the curtains to gently waft upward and tangle within themselves. Helen had sought refuge outside in an attempt to cool herself off as night fell and a cool temperature had finally started to settle in.
Parties simply weren't her thing, Helen had realized. She'd enjoyed them enough, but when her mind had been elsewhere most of the night she found the gathering to be quite dull. She'd forced her way through appropriate conversations with the right people so she didn't appear to be rude, but Helen wanted nothing more than to leave and return home. Rather, join James, Nigel, and Nikola out in hunting the aggressive abnormal creature that she had been tracking for days now in an attempt to bring it to her father for safe keeping.
But no, Helen was stranded at a party on the three men's assistance. She had agreed begrudgingly to go, mostly because they needed the funding that several higher-ups in the room with Helen had been willing to give. Speaking with them that night had secured the funds and now that Helen had done her job, she wanted to leave. Her problem was making it through the room to the door without being caught up in a conversation. Part of her considered using the balcony as a means for escape, but she was far too tired to even bother with figuring that one out.
She internally groaned as she turned around, careful to mind several other guests that had come out onto the balcony to escape the oven-like room. A man, clearly not a guest, lingered in the doorway that led back inside. Helen frowned.
"Can I help you?"
"I have a message for you. There's been an emergency and according to Mr. Nigel Griffin, you're to return home as immediately." He said and something akin to panic coiled within the pit of her stomach.
"What sort of emergency?"
"Dr. Tesla's been gravely injured."
Her stomach dropped and her heart leapt into her throat.
"I need my carriage. Now."
"Already called, ma'am."
Helen nodded and gathered her skirts, quickly heading back inside. She moved through the room as fast as possible, curtly ignoring anyone who tried to address her or got in her way. Well, it was certainly one way to be excused properly from a party. She'd have to apologize to Mr. Robinson, the host, later on for her abrupt departure. But at the moment, Helen was more concerned about Nikola. Gravely injured meant it was terribly bad, as Nigel and James only used the term to describe ones who wouldn't live. Nikola was a vampire, however. How could he not live? Had the injuries been that extensive?
She was going to murder the abnormal who had clearly done it to him.
Her carriage was waiting as promised and she waved off the driver as he attempted to help her inside. She could very well do it her own damn self. He had clearly been informed of the urgency, as he went at a pace that was usually less than acceptable along the cobblestone streets. London moved by in a buzz of scenery that Helen hardly paid attention to. Why did it have to be so far to the other side of the city? Frustration settled in quickly in addition to the fear and concern that already coursed through her body, giving her a bad case of the jitters that had her nearly shaking in her seat.
The carriage jerked to a sudden halt and before Helen could catch herself, she flew out of the seat and sprawled onto the floor of the carriage. What in God's name? She moved to pull herself up, reaching for the door – but it flew open before her fingers could close around the handle. Her breath hitched in her throat.
"Good evening, Helen. Don't you know it's dangerous to go through this part of London at night?" John Druitt asked, that smirk across his face and his tone rather too malicious for her liking. Helen had assumed John would come looking for her eventually.
"Why in such a hurry? Did you get my message?"
With a sick feeling, Helen released it had been John who had sent the message, intending to luring her away. Nikola was likely fine, and she had been rushing into the arms of the man who likely very much wanted to kill her. Helen moved discreetly for the gun she kept under the seat, but John caught her arm before she could get very far.
"I think not, Helen. Let's take a walk, shall we?"
He grabbed her and jerked her to her feet outside of the carriage. The horses seemed unnerved and she could see why – the body of her carriage driver lay slumped in his seat, hands still clenched around the reigns and pulling on them awkwardly in no known command. John pulled her up onto the deserted sidewalk and down an alleyway between two of the taller brick buildings. Disoriented, Helen had no idea just where she was, or where she was being taken.
"Why are you doing this, John?" She inquired, flinching at the tight grip he had on her upper arm. Her hair was falling down from its pins, tumbling down over her shoulders and well down her back. John propelled her down the alleyway, deeper into the city of London.
"Why ask questions to which you already know the answer?"
"I know why, John. It's that damned ability of yours driving you insane." Helen snapped and in the next instant, found herself thrown against the wall, John pinning her there. He towered over her, a menacing creature clearly not to be messed with. Helen had always enjoyed a challenge.
"I'm perfectly aware of what I'm doing. Killing helps, you know. Helps relieve the tension. It's been getting lesser and lesser since I killed those women in Whitechapel, but something's not been quite right. It was only until recently that there's only one more need die before I can finally be free." He said, voice low, breath hot on her face. Pinned to the wall with the brick digging in, Helen was forced to listen to his angry ramblings. There was a long moment of silence between them before he pulled her away from the wall and they continued on their 'walk'.
"Then why not kill me and be done with it?" She asked next, having difficulties keeping up with his long strides with the way he had her arm positioned. He chuckled darkly.
"I'm very methodic. Surely James informed you of that when he saw the bodies. I have to find the right place and decide how precisely I want to kill you first."
"Really haven't thought this one out then, much, have you?" Helen dared, earning another dark look from her once lover and former fiancé. He didn't respond, however, and Helen seized the opportunity to reflect and figure a way out of this particular mess. There was no alerting James or Nigel or Nikola, or even police – no, Helen was in this particular situation alone, unarmed, and running short on time.
"If you'd let me help you, John, it needn't be like this." She began, quieter, trying to stall for time.
"No one can help me now, Helen. Not even you."
"You were my first patient. I saved you once while you were adjusting and I can do it again to help you adjust to a different sort of life. Back into a normal semblance of reality." Helen continued. He glanced at her as they came across one of the back roads. It too was deserted, so John pulled her down a few blocks and into another alleyway. Helen vaguely recognized the location from the flashes of store fronts.
"What? So I can be perfectly sane when they haul me off to Scotland Yard? I think not."
"Yet you're so very willing to kill the woman you once loved to ease some pain off your mind? You're not making sense, John!"
"It doesn't have to make sense!
Another slam up against the wall of another building. Helen flinched when she felt her head crack against it. Stars and spots flooded her vision for a long moment and when he pulled her away, she found it mildly difficult to walk a straight path. His hand on her arm kept her upright, however, and soon enough they had appeared on another road. The park was just across the street.
"You're sick John, so very sick. It's why you're not teleporting right now. You're afraid doing it will drive you over the edge and you're hoping that by killing me you can curb that sickness for a little amount of time. Eventually you're going to murder again." Helen stated firmly as he pulled her across the street. His grip on her arm grew tighter and there was a flash of light –
- they appeared together on the other side of the closed wrought iron gates and continued their 'walk' toward the center of the park. She had come here very often with the members of the Five, most recently a picnic with Nikola just last weekend. Before that, she'd gone for a walk with James to discuss the new breakthroughs they were having in a place other than a lab.
"At first I thought the theater, you know." John said suddenly as they walked along the path, Helen growing more agitated, if not slightly panicked by the second. "Where you seemed so fond of, where we were together before I proposed. Then I thought the park – why not put your body on display? Surely then you'll be as well-known as you wanted to be. Only instead of as a doctor or scientist, it'll be as a murder victim who was far too pretty to have her life cut down."
A sickening feeling pooled within Helen's gut as they stopped, near the fountain in the center of the park. He released her and shoved her several feet away before withdrawing a knife, glinting and silver, from within his coat. Helen swallowed, taking a step back.
"You don't really want to do this."
"Oh, but I really do."
He lunged at her and she barely had time to deflect and dodge, moving to punch him in the face in hopes of snapping his nose. He caught her arm before it made contact, twisted, and propelled her backward again.
He came at her again and the knife caught her arm before she pulled away, wishing to be in anything more than the elaborately layered gown she was in that restricted her movement. There would be only few moves she would be able to do, and even they wouldn't be able to hold John off forever. He was grinning though, clearly entertained by her attempts to fight back. Like hell if she was going to put up with going down without a fight.
Her hand closed around his hand that held the knife. He twisted his arm in an attempt to fling her off, but she grabbed it with her other hand and attempted to wrestle it away from him. His other hand wrapped around her waist and easily pulled her away. She stumbled on the hem of her gown and toppled backwards; John had her pinned to the ground before she could move away.
"I'm truly sorry it ends like this, Helen." He said and drew the knife along her neck, just breaking the skin. Pain erupted across her skin as he sliced her flesh open. "Any last words you'd like to share?"
"Enjoy hell you bloody bastard." She hissed before her knee came up and nailed him in the groin. The blow wasn't as hard as she would have liked because of the layers on her dress, but it was enough to weaken him for a moment. She took the opportunity to push him off and scramble to her feet. She stomped hard on his hand to make his fist release the knife, which she promptly grabbed and began to run back toward the entrance of the park.
She needed to get inside. Somewhere public where she would be surrounded by people. John wouldn't dare to make a move. Then after that, perhaps out of London. Somewhere secretive, where John wouldn't be able to trace her or find her. What then? Spend the rest of her immortal days on the run from a man who wanted to murder her in cold blood just to find relief?
Helen's legs burned and her lungs protested each breath she took as she ran, knife clutched tightly in one hand and her skirts hiked up beyond what was appropriate so she wouldn't trip on her face. The gate to the park, still tightly closed, was visible –
- until a flash of light and John was suddenly advancing toward her. She came to a halt and began to run another way, off into the well-trimmed grass that stretched across the park. She ran parallel to the iron fencing that surrounded the park, eyes still open for someone, anyone that could help her rid herself of her persistent attacker. Vaguely she thought of screaming, but what was the point when everyone was inside and not likely to hear her?
Arms wrapped around her waist from behind and a scream fell from her lips instinctively, echoing across the park grounds and disappearing into the night. The knife fell from her hand. She kicked and twisted and tried in vain to get away from John, but he had produced a gun now. She could feel it pressed tightly against her back, as if daring her to move.
Oh, she dared.
Twisting in his arms her fingers closed around the barrel and aimed it upward. He had already begun to pull the trigger, which fired a shot off into the air. She struggled for control of the gun, elbowing him as hard as she could in the gut and stamping on his foot.
"You'd make it so much easier on yourself if you stopped resisting." John muttered low in her ear and she pulled away from his voice, dragging the gun with her. She could see his finger closing down on the trigger again as he pointed it back toward her. She knocked it to the side where it fired another shot into the ground.
Voice could be heard now, somewhere not far off, likely drawn finally from her scream and the gunfire. John glanced toward the direction of them and she took her chance. Fingers closed tightly around the barrel of the gun once more, she twisted it around to face him. His finger instinctively pulled the trigger in response and another shot fired, this one straight into his own chest. Helen jumped in mild surprise, releasing the gun and his hand. He fell to his knees, still alive, and aimed the gun toward her again with a shaking hand. His mouth opened to say something, but it was lost as he fell face forward and the gun fell from his hand. Helen kicked it away across the grass.
More arms wrapped themselves around her and she very nearly punched whoever it was, until she recognized the cold hands and smell of wine, upon which she buried her face deep within Nikola's chest. He pulled her back, away from the body, and faintly she heard James and Nigel saying things in the background. Helen didn't care. John was dead. She'd killed him. Her nightmare was over and she had likely saved the lives of countless other young women, but at the cost of what? If he'd only let her help him – but he was right. He'd been far beyond the help she could have offered.
Functioning nearly on auto-pilot, she didn't realize she was being led away until Nikola had her outside of the park and he was putting her in a carriage. She'd heard James tell him something – like to get her away from the scene so they could clean up and make it look like an average murder. Helen wanted to help and had been about to voice so when her neck gave a painful throb and she was reminded that she was indeed bleeding.
"It's over, Helen. Relax." Nikola's voice drew her out of her thoughts as she pressed a hand to her neck. Only then did she realize she was trembling somewhat. Nikola's hand was arm her arm, a bandage in his other hand as he prepared to staunch the flow of blood coming from her neck. Gently, she lowered her hand and he took to patching her up with gentle hands, even in the jostling carriage.
"Are you okay?" He inquired as he tied the bandage around her neck and turned his attentions to her arm. Oh, yeah. That was bleeding too.
"I'm fine." Helen managed.
"I'll live, if that's what you're asking." She sighed in return.
"That's not what I'm asking."
Helen turned her gaze toward him as he tied the other bandage around her arm. His fingers wrapped around hers and he pressed a kiss to her knuckles, his behavior as her suitor still quite gentlemanly, even in the face of recent events.
For once, her carefully built armor that she normally stood behind cracked and wavered; she could practically see her masks falling off. No, she wasn't all right. She had killed a man. She'd never killed much of anything in her entire life except for a few bugs that had gotten a little too close for comfort. Her mind was reeling over the fact that it was John, unwilling to accept that she had just killed the man she had once loved.
Reluctantly and hesitantly, she let herself be drawn into Nikola's embrace. She didn't cry, but her body trembled against her will, shivering in an attempt to push away the cold feeling that wanted to settle over her. Her fingers wrapped in Nikola's jacket as she suddenly remembered the emergency note, the lie John had fabricated to draw her out. He knew it would have pulled her home instantly; in that moment she realized just how much John had known how to affect her. She drew in a shaking breath and tried not to think about it, however. He was gone and she no longer had to worry about him again.
Curled within the arms of her best friend and current suitor, Helen tried to forget everything.
"Take me home, Nikola."