So, um, hi. I exist. College ate my life, but recently I found new muse for this particular story and at the request of two readers - you know who you are - I decided to start updating again. I hope you're all still enjoying it!

010. pretend – winter, 1890

New York City was even more beautiful during the winter in certain areas, with the fresh snowfall covering the place in a blanket of white. Still not as lovely as London, according to Helen (or Serbia, according to Nikola), but it had its own beauty about it that could not be compared, especially once everything had started to be decked out with Christmas decorations. It would be both Helen and Nikola's first Christmas in America, and together as a married couple, and Helen hoped there would be plenty more to come. She had yet to decide what to get him for the holiday, as he was rather difficult to shop for. What exactly did one get Nikola Tesla for Christmas? Gifts for previous holidays had been little things, but Helen wanted something with more meaning this year, something far more sentimental.

Peeling away her gloves that had shielded her hands from the cold, Helen entered the laboratory further, carefully sidestepping several half-finished inventions that lay in a pile in the corner. Lab tables were absolutely littered with pieces and bits and such – but it was an organized mess, she knew, because Nikola was not one without his organization. Silly man. Helen didn't dare touch anything, however, very much aware of the consequences.

"Nikola?" She called, and he poked his head from behind some large contraption that took up most of the east wing of the room. He gave a half grin, hair sticking on end.

"And just where have you been all day?" He arched a brow at her winter attire. Helen returned the grin with a smile of her own, continuing to weave her way through lab tables to get to him.

"Christmas shopping. Sort of. And posting a letter to James. I think we're going to see what we can do about finding a place for abnormals here in New York. A Sanctuary, of sorts. The one in London is flourishing and we're going to work on expanding it." She smiled brightly. "Isn't it wonderful?"

"And you were worried about living in New York." He scoffed. She shook her head.

"There is still a problem, however." Helen pointed out, dusting half melted snowflakes from her blonde curls. "You're not aging."

"Since when has that ever been a problem?" He shook his head, ducking back down behind the large structure. She frowned, briefly, hands on her hips.

"Your face is plastered across most newspapers every other week, Nikola. Eventually they're going to notice something is wrong when their great inventor doesn't start aging." She pointed out, leaning around the structure to look at him. "We can't keep playing pretend."

"So we play a new game of pretend. Make-up exists for a reason, my dear Helen. But if you think I'm going to stop inventing –"

"I never said that, insufferable man. I was just making you aware of the facts. And just for that snip, you can forget about the surprise I had for you, too."

He paused in his work, looking back up at her again with an eyebrow raised.

"Do tell."

"No."

"Helen." He nearly whined at her, very much like a child. She kept a straight face, however, turning her back to him.

"No."

She heard the shuffling of movement as she folded her arms across her chest, and a moment later there were lips on her neck, hands at her sides.

"Tell me."

"Bloody cheater." She grumbled as he kissed a trail from her newly exposed shoulder, up her neck and to just behind her ear, standing behind her. His hands at her waist tightened, pulling her flush against his chest, determined to get it out of her.

"You never specified rules." He chuckled and Helen felt it rumble in his chest, shooting straight through her. Damned man. "What if I show you something absolutely amazing?"

"Nikola, I swear to God -."

"No, no, that comes later, my dear." He grinned, spinning her around to face him. Helen narrowed her eyes, but he was already taking her hand and tugging her back toward the structure, leaving several feet between them and it. He flipped a switch nearby and it suddenly hummed to life – Helen stepped back warily as the air around them seemed to crackle and pop, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end.

With a sudden crack, lightning flashed from the top and arced straight into Nikola's outstretched hand. He seemed unfazed by the electricity now jumping between him and the contraption, merely grinned wildly; at least Helen now understood why he'd stepped away from her still. She watched as he dropped his arm and lightning crackled around the top – he stretched out his other hand and it jumped back to him, forming another arc of electricity above. Her lips were parted in slight awe, watching. So this was what he'd been working on for the past few months.

"Come here." He stated and she frowned, briefly, wary of the lightning that he had let go of now and was striding toward her. Without hesitation he wrapped his arms back around her from behind, taking one of her hands within his own.

"Don't move." He ordered, then added quieter against her ear over the hum of the machine. "Don't be afraid."

Their hands joined, he lifted them out toward the machine. Helen jumped, startled as the electricity jumped to their entwined fingers, dancing along them. Her fingers grew tingly, the feeling creeping up her arm. Not painful – it was as if one of her limbs had fallen asleep. She smiled, watching in slight wonder and feeling very much like a child with a new toy – was this how Nikola felt constantly about all of his inventions?

She'd married a truly brilliant man. His inventions were absolutely stunning in some aspects – she only wished he hadn't to deal with Edison and his lies, as he had over the past few years while he'd been in New York without her. But he'd managed and now seemed spurred on better than before, determined to invent and create and better the world – the same as Helen was, with the abnormals.

But her earlier words had been true. He wasn't aging, and neither was she. They never would. And with Nikola being a rather well-known celebrity most days, and Helen as his wife, it would become obvious soon enough. Precautions would need to be put into place, and they would have to start aging themselves with make-up, no doubt. Worth it, in the end, Helen imagined, but it would be quite a feat to keep their immortality under wraps. Nikola was antisocial enough as it was, so perhaps it would be easier for her to put on the front for him.

Later on, however, Helen was also very much aware their deaths would need to be staged. Somehow. It was details she was leaving for later on, eventually, but they would need to fake their deaths and move away from New York for a while, disappear. No more playing pretend. She flinched internally, remembering John's vague words about playing house with Nikola. Helen was determined to build a life with him, however, and to hell with the serial killer that wanted them both dead. She would face him, eventually, and the results would be the same as their last encounter – Helen refused to let John win.

"I think I'm going to patent it after the New Year." He said conversationally against her ear still, watching the lightning arch across their fingers. His voice pulled Helen from her thoughts. "Could come in handy, I think. But it's highly likely everyone else will need a special suit in order to pull this off. Not everyone is an absolutely handsome vampire."

She chuckled softly, the smile still evident on her face as she rested back against him, watching their hands. "This is absolutely brilliant, Nikola."

"Glad I haven't lost my touch." He mused, lowering their hands before reaching over and flipping the machine off, keeping his grip on Helen.

"Going to tell me your surprise now?" He asked after a few more moments, lips returning to her neck, a favorite spot of his (and hers).

"It'll take more than this just to get it out of me. Surprises are meant to be just that – if I told, it wouldn't be a surprise." Helen mused, twisting in his arms. She moved to sneak a kiss on his cheek but he'd anticipated it, turning his head to capture her lips with his own in a kiss that lingered far longer than she'd intended. His arms tightened around her again, pulling her close, and she became vaguely aware that they were stepping back – at least until Nikola hit one of the lab tables.

"We're going to frighten your secretary." Helen murmured against his lips as he twisted them, so that Helen was back against the lab table now and he was pressing against her, lips trailing hot kisses along the line of her jaw and down the open neckline of her dress, exposed when he'd shoved her jacket away.

"Sent her home for the day." He replied, lips against one swell of her breast above the lace of her dress. His hands had already slid around to the back, tugging lightly at the strings in place that kept it bound to her body. "You really ought to wear more practical dresses."

"Didn't know you had plans to jump me in your lab when I came to see what you were doing. Otherwise I would have." She gave a cheeky smirk, slipping an arm around to help him. "As much as I love this, I think it was best we continued upstairs. Softer surfaces."

"Right." And with that, he swept Helen up without a second's thought, kissing her again. She laughed, only just managing to snatch her coat up rather than leaving it on the bench, Nikola's gift tucked away inside. She would show him later, yes – it was simply just fun to see him try and pry it out of her.

They lived in a suite of apartments above the lab, ones that Helen had so carefully put together, as Nikola had little care for interior design. Up a flight of stairs and through a door in the hall had them in the lounge, upon which Helen immediately discarded her jacket onto the sofa, pushing his lab coat away from his shoulders the moment she was on her own two feet again. His lips captured hers in another searing kiss, and suddenly Helen wasn't aware of anything past her own skin, and Nikola. For all his insufferable sarcasm and lewd comments, he certain did have a way with his hands – in more ways than one.

Slipping her hand behind her once more, she tugged once and the dress fell away somewhere in the hall on the way to their bedroom; she merely kicked it aside, fingers working quickly to tug at Nikola's buttons on his oxford shirt.

"Far too many buttons." She managed to get out in between kisses, inhaling sharply before she gave up and tugged sharply, popping off the last few in impatience – she owed him several new shirts for that exact reason, the same as he owed her several new corsets.

"If you weren't so impatient . . . ." He began, but she cut him off with another kiss, pushing the fabric of the shirt away from his shoulders and using her other hand to snag the hem of his trousers, pulling him closer and in through the doorway to their bedroom.

"You started it." She accused lightly, falling back onto the pillows. The moment he moved to hover over her, Helen's leg wrapped around his and she flipped them, so that she was straddling his waist, his hands at her hips to hold her in place. "But I intend to finish it."

"Too many layers." He added, almost grumpily, pulling at the thin layer she had on beneath the dress and the corset she had confining her chest. In all honesty, Helen would have liked to gone without either on a daily basis, but she had the determination to keep within the proper fashionable styles that most women of New York continued to participate in. But they were far too inhibiting for her tastes still. Perhaps there would come an era where such things didn't exist.

As expected, in return for ripping the buttons on his shirt he merely extended a nail, sliding it along the other strings in the back of her corset and the remaining thin shift of fabric, letting them fall away without a care and shoving them away once Helen had wormed out of them. Hands splayed across his chest, she leaned down to trail kisses in the place her fingers just vacated, nails digging lightly into his skin as they drifted further down toward his trousers, her next goal in mind. Nikola's own hands were trailing up and down her sides, eliciting goosebumps across her skin from his feather-light touch. One hand hooked within the material of her remaining underwear, prepared to tug them off at the same moment her fingers had found the button of his pants -

Then, the knock at the door came.

She paused a moment, listening, but Nikola seemed to have not heard it because he took the opportunity to flip them again, so that he was hovering over her.

The knock sounded again and Helen sighed heavily.

"Go answer the door, Nikola. Apparently it's someone important." She urged and he frowned at her.

"Why don't you answer it?"

"Because you just destroyed my under garments and my dress is laying in the hall. It's far easier for you to get dressed than I." She stated firmly, fixating him with a look despite every bone in her body telling her to pull him closer and ignore the knocking at the door. Nikola scowled at her, faintly, but she gave him another brief kiss and urged him in the direction of the door.

"I'll owe you." She promised and he grumbled something in Serbian before grabbing at his shirt and pulling on what was left of it, along his shoulders. He disappeared into the hall and a moment later her dress was tossed into the room. Helen gave a soft laugh, moving to close the door so she could at dress herself in a somewhat reasonable way, in case whoever was at the door chose to stay.

A male voice drifted back to her just as she was lacing herself back into her dress. It sounded vaguely familiar, and when she finally dared to venture back into the other room after dressing, laughter floated from the lounge. She turned the corner and smiled brightly.

"Nigel!" She greeted, and he stood, allowing her to embrace him. He gave a deep chuckle, pulling her into a tight hug. "It's wonderful to see you."

"You as well, Helen. Forgive me if I, ah, interrupted anything." He gave a knowing smirk and a wink that earned him a hard nudge from Helen, who shook her head.

"Cheeky bugger."

But, somehow, Nigel was easy enough to forgive for his interruptions. After all, they had plenty of time later to make up for lost moments. Judging by the look in Nikola's eyes, too, when she caught sight of them, he intended to wholly make up for it as well.