A/N: Hey, all! It's been a while! I'm happy to say I have finished my first full-length novel and am in the process of writing another, but it's giving me some trouble at the moment and I felt the urge to fanfic. (Yes, it is a verb.)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is, for the record, very cool, and I've wanted to do a story like this for a while. I've always found Helga strangely sympathetic. I wish they told us more about her. Maybe it's just me, but she never really seemed like a "bad guy." Rourke, yeah, he was kinda wacko. But Helga? Please recall with me: "Commander, there were not supposed to be people down here. This changes everything."
So, this is my attempt to put into words the way her character strikes me. I wanted to explore her perspective in Atlantis. To be honest, this first chapter (my "background") is really just to establish her mindset and her relationship to Rourke. (Yes, I freely admit it's not 100% accurate and apologize for my discrepancies. Actually, I checked out the online Atlantis timeline, and I kind of wanted to shoot myself. But what's done is done. And I make up for it by being super incredibly accurate to the movie in the actual fanfic.) If you don't like it, okay. If you do, awesome! I knew I wasn't alone. :)
Disclaimer: Bless your heart, did you really think I owned this? No poseo nada. (FYI, that's Spanish for "ARE YOU STUPID.")
Helga Sinclair had never seen her father – or more specifically, she had never seen her father's face. Although she could certainly describe the back of him with near-perfect accuracy. The only mental image she had of him – of when he left – was burned into her.
"Blonde hair," she could tell you, "just a little shaggy, brushing the tops of his shoulders. A leather jacket, black, creased in the small of his back." She imagined this was due to a puffed-out chest, but she couldn't know; she never saw it. "Khaki cargo pants – dirty like they hadn't been washed in a while, and hiked up over boots that matched his jacket." But what she really wanted to see was his front.
Was his nose straight or crooked? Would his mouth crinkle in determination like hers did? What color were his eyes? Did they twinkle in glee when he played with his daughter? Helga imagined not. But then, she would never know. She liked to think that it didn't bother her – that it hadn't hurt not to know her father – but it was a lie. She spent the rest of her life trying to keep from being abandoned again.
Of course, she had her mother. Fat lot of good that did her. Mrs. Sinclair bounced from one too-young man to another, bringing them home one day and booting them out the next. Her romantic adventures left her little time for her daughter, who quickly learned not to ask for it. Instead, young Helga took up with the neighborhood boys. They wouldn't have her at first, but after she pummeled their leader, Kurt, in a fistfight, they welcomed her with open arms. She ruled them by a mix of fear and awe, taking a ragtag group of boys and making them a force to be reckoned with. Her blonde hair, the same shade as her father's, became a bother on their "jobs," so she pulled it up and braided it. That braid became the perpetual symbol of her authority.
But despite her unquestioned strength, young Helga's heart still hurt. Power, invigorating as it was, didn't give her what she wanted . . . but maybe something (or someone) else could.
She was fifteen when a squadron of soldiers came through town. The local gossipmongers said they wanted a fresh recruit, literally straight off the streets. Her boys, now acne-ridden and taller than she was, muscled their way to the front of the crowd. Every now and then they glanced her way, but she remained where she was – standing on a shopkeeper's steps, feet apart and planted, with her braid slung over one shoulder and her full, red lips in a half-scowl.
It wasn't long before the regiment passed by. Straight-backed and straight-faced, they marched past, examining each person there. Helga's boys postured and grimaced in hopes of being chosen, but in the end it was Helga herself who merited attention.
She hadn't expected or even wanted to be noticed by the soldiers; she was there solely to watch. But one of the men called for a halt, and she was startled to see his gaze on her. Her eyes narrowed, but he broke away from the rest and made his way toward her. She would have preferred to snub him, but it's difficult to ignore a person standing in front of you. A person, too, apparently without a sense of personal space – he walked up those steps until he was nose-to-nose with her. Only her sense of pride kept her from stumbling backward.
Helga's eyes flicked about, absorbing information. His uniform identified him as "Rourke." His colors labeled him a captain. Black hair clipped in a sharp military style. Well-built. Grey eyes that looked right into her. Five years older than her, ten at a stretch. She inhaled briefly, catching a spicy musk scent.
Captain Rourke gazed at her calmly. "What's your name?"
Helga tried not to breathe. It pleased her too much. "Helga Sinclair," she managed in an exhale.
He was so close. "Helga Sinclair," he corrected quietly, "sir."
She liked the way he said her name.
"Helga Sinclair," he said in the same undertone, "how would you like to join my forces?"
She liked the way he smelled.
"I think," she replied, "I would like that, sir."
Captain Rourke placed a soldier's cap on her head. She saw his hand trail along the length of her braid. "Welcome aboard, Cadet Sinclair."
She liked him.
Oh, how she liked him.
It wasn't many years after that when the two of them were recruited by Thaddeus Thatch. Lyle Rourke and Helga Sinclair – they made quite a team. The expedition, wild goose chase that it seemed to be, was not even particularly difficult. Serving under him filled her in a way that leading her gang hadn't. As did the stolen kisses in dim lamplight after all the others were asleep.
Once, just before the end of the expedition, her braid came loose. Rourke ran his fingers through her long blonde hair and told her she was perfect – she was beautiful – he loved her. Helga kissed him then, hard, and he kissed her back. They were inside a cave in Iceland, but she felt warmer and more whole than she ever had before.
It was a fine time.
But then their wild goose chase came to fruition, and Thaddeus Thatch found his precious Shepherd's Journal. Helga had often heard the old man go on about Atlantis and its treasures, but now he had the proof. Thatch was crazed about the legendary city, and Helga soon found he wasn't the only one. Rourke became focused on the gold, sometimes even while he was with her. Running his hand down her jawbone, he would ask, "How much do you think that would sell for?" She didn't care as much as he did, but because he felt good, she continued to follow him. He had the authority of a father and the touch of a lover, and it was more than she could part with.
So began the breaking of Helga Sinclair's heart.