Okay people, I am in desperate need of help here. I am dying to write a good story about the father and daughter relationship between Artie and Claudia. I've got so many ideas spinning around in my head, but nothing concrete. So write in and give me a story prompt for a story about Artie and Claudia. I would like to request prompts that have a serious tone to them – I like to write action and suspenseful stories. I would also like to mention that one of the ideas floating around in my head has been about taking Artie and Claudia back to Joshua's lab, where they first met after years of being apart and started to form the bond that gave them the father/daughter relationship that they have today. You don't have to include that in your prompt, but if you have an idea for that then by all means tell it to me. You can submit more than one prompt: I'd like you to put them in the review for this story, but if you want to PM me them if you think of more after you review, then that's cool too. You will be given credit for the idea you come up with.
Also, I would like to thank everyone for the reviews of the previous chapter. You are all great!
I don't own Warehouse 13 or any references I make to other movies or products in this story, because if I did, then what you're reading would be happening on your TV screens.
"Anything?" Sykes asked as Marcus came running back. Marcus shook his head.
Sykes looked at him in fury and then turned his head to Jane, who was staring at Sykes with a smug smile on her face. Steve couldn't help but admire her bravery. But then again, if Sykes currently hadn't been controlling every muscle on his face, not to mention his body, he probably would have been grinning too, just to egg Sykes on. Sykes turned to Steve and seemed to guess what he had been thinking. With a roar of fury he forced Steve to relinquish his grip on Jane's shoulders and shove her to the floor. Then he turned to Steve with a nasty smile on his face.
"Claudia…" He called. "If you don't come out by the count of five, I'm going to break your friend's back like a twig…"
"One…two…three…four…five." Sykes said, then he sighed and began to bend the riding crop. Steve felt himself bend, so that his chest was towards the ceiling and his arms hung limply, fingers grazing the floor. Sharp spasms of pain flooded his body. His spine objected, begging him to stop, but Steve wasn't in control anymore. He knew that any second his spine would snap in two. Death would probably come soon after, knowing Sykes.
He felt control of his mouth being given back to him by Sykes. Sykes wanted him to scream, to beg Claudia for help. Through the blinding pain, he managed to speak.
"Claud!" He called out frantically. "Stay away! Get out of here! Go help Pete and Myka and H.G.!" That was not what Sykes had been hoping to here, and Steve felt his mouth being closed tightly and his back being bent even more. But it was the least he could do for her – after everything he had done in the past couple of hours. He thought he had been helping the Warehouse - he had betrayed it. He thought he could defeat Sykes - he had empowered him.
He thought he would save Claudia, and he had nearly killed her.
"Sykes!" A roaring voice swept through the Warehouse. Steve dropped the floor, his back no longer being arched, ready to snap. He lay there, panting. Wearily, he raised his head an inch to see Claudia walk towards them. He tried to open his mouth to tell her to stay back, but Sykes flexed his crop and Steve's mouth was forced shut and his head fell back to the floor. All he could see were her feet as she walked towards them.
"Leave him alone Sykes." Claudia ordered. Marcus began to circle around so that he was behind Claudia. Sykes laughed and then Steve felt his body being forced up again. But there was only so much Sykes could force him to do – the pain and fear and anger of the day were making his body weak, and as Sykes forced him up his body began to tremble in exhaustion. Claudia looked at him and her lips tightened in anger. "Pack it in Sykes, you're finished."
"All these clichés." Sykes said. "I've yet to see you actually do something to stop me." Once again, Steve's gun was in his hand, with the safety clicked off and the barrel focused on Claudia. He thought Sykes would waste more time with bragging and talking about the Warehouse's defeat, but then Steve suddenly pulled the trigger. His blood ran cold and he felt like collapsing as the blast from the gun rang in his ears. The bullet rushed for Claudia, but simply sped through her as though she was made of air, hitting Marcus. He collapsed, but wouldn't be down for long. The most Claudia could bank on, Steve knew, was a few minutes.
"What?" Sykes roared, reaching for her. Claudia grinned at him and then vanished. Steve blinked in amazement and then felt someone grab him from behind.
"Don't worry." He heard Claudia whisper into his ear. Steve wanted to point out that Sykes still had control over him, but suddenly felt that control drop. Sykes looked around frantically for him, but didn't seem to see him. Steve realized that his body had vanished like Claudia. When he had vanished, Sykes had a slip and in his shock lost control over Steve for a second. He couldn't take back that control because he couldn't find Steve.
Suddenly Jane came out of nowhere and slugged Sykes. He fell to the ground, letting go of the crop, stunned. Behind her, Artie started typing up the still unconscious Marcus. Steve guessed that he was the one that had freed Jane from her bonds. He wondered if he and Claudia should make themselves visible and go help Jane, but she seemed to be handling the situation pretty well on her own, due to a combination of the Tesla on low settings and her fists.
"You are never going to get your hands on my son you disgusting bastard. You are going to be Bronzed. Do you know what that means?" She hissed into his face. "It means that you will be paralyzed, never to move again for the rest of your days. Which will be forever. Eternal punishment."
Steve made a mental note to never piss off Jane.
Then he felt, rather than saw, himself become visible again. Knowing the danger had passed, he felt his legs collapse with exhaustion. Claudia caught him on the way down, and steadily lowered him to the ground. She looked almost as tired as he did.
"You okay Steve?" She asked. He didn't have much energy left to do anything but nod. "Good." She said, turning to the scene in front of them. "Because I think our work is pretty much done here."
A few hours later, a relieved Pete, Myka and H.G. had been freed from the force field and Marcus and Sykes were Bronzed. (Steve wasn't a cruel person but he had gotten a small bit of satisfaction at seeing them Bronzed – Marcus seemed to be in shock at what was happening and kept swearing to them he'd get revenge on them all once he got out of his prison, while Sykes, who was terrified at the prospect of being paralyzed from head to toe, started begging and pleading as they hooked him up).
The rest of the team was celebrating with cookies, hot chocolate and a movie marathon (only comedy, Pete had reassured everybody, not wanting to have any more horror or action than they had already had that day). However, Steve wasn't sure he wanted to join.
Nobody seemed to hold his actions for the day against him – they knew he had been in Sykes' control and would never have hurt anyone if he could have helped it. But still, he had hurt Claudia. He shuddered, thinking of the paralyzing fear he had felt when Sykes' had first used the riding crop on him. First confusion, then comprehension, then fear had overwhelmed him. He had fought desperately against its hold, but had been forced to stand as a prisoner of Sykes until he heard Claudia's voice, her footsteps coming up the stairs.
Her happy, hopeful voice had cut into him like a knife – he had led her right into danger. But Sykes had opened his mouth and forced the words out that led her to him. And then he had grabbed her and shoved her and held his gun to her head, with the chance of pulling the trigger at any time. He had even choked her so hard that she almost died. And then, Sykes had actually made him shoot her. He had almost lost Claudia the exact same way he had lost Olivia.
Except that this time, he would have been the one responsible for ending her life.
The thought made him gag. He honestly, truly didn't know what he would have done with himself if he had killed Claudia.
He was just lucky that Claudia had an artifact on her hands (a Casper the Ghost movie prop that could simulate the qualities of a ghost).
So instead of watching movies and eating comfort food with the rest of his friends, Steve went into his room and lay down. All his things had been put into storage or were at his new apartment, just 10 minutes from Sykes' hanger. (His stomach turned over at the thought of Claudia running up the stairs in that hanger, hope in her voice that her friend was back). But his bed was still there, with fresh sheets on it. He laid down and closed his eyes. Sleep came quickly. Unfortunately, so did nightmares.
He was back in the Warehouse, until Sykes' control as he shot the gun at Claudia. This time she collapsed, a bullet in her chest. Steve screamed in horror, as Sykes laughed in triumph and Claudia's blank eyes stared at him. Then, her corpse turned into Olivia, and blood began to pour out of her chest, her mouth, her eyes, everywhere. Steve tried to move backwards, away from the horrific sight, but instead found himself moving closer and closer. The body transformed from Claudia to Olivia, from Olivia to Claudia, and back and forth, both bloody and with blank, unseeing eyes.
"Did you protect her Steve?" Sykes asked in the background, but Steve couldn't move away from the sight. "Was it worth all those weeks of ignoring her calls and texts and making her believe that you hated her?"
And suddenly the scene changed to Marcus dumping Claudia's body in a landfill, and Steve could see the bodies of Myka and Pete and Jane and H.G. and Artie, even Trailer, the dog he and Claudia had found together was dead.
All because of him.
He backed away but found himself back in the Warehouse and being shoved into the Bronze machine himself by Sykes, struggling, because he was the last hope the Warehouse had, but it was over, Sykes had Bronzed him and Marcus was carrying his body away to the landfill, where he laid the Bronzed Steve next to Claudia's body and Steve could somehow see through the Bronze as Claudia's body became changed by age and the elements, until there was nothing left of her and there was only him, abandoned and alone and stuck inside his mind and with his guilt for all eternity…
Claudia looked around midway through "The History of the World Part 1" and realized that Steve wasn't there. She knew he had been in the background of the celebration that Sykes was gone, but she hadn't really realized that he wasn't there until now. Grabbing a few cookies and a new mug of hot chocolate, Claudia got up and walked out of the room.
She walked over to Steve's room, guessing that he had laid down for a nap – he had looked exhausted earlier on. She knocked faintly and then gently opened the door to Steve's room, laying the cookies and hot chocolate down by his bedside. She had been right, he was napping. The snacks would be a nice treat when he waked up.
"No. I'm sorry…" Steve whimpered in his sleep, and Claudia turned curiously over to look at him. For the first time she noticed that he wasn't having a peaceful sleep – his skin was clammy and soaked with sweat and he seemed to be tossing and turning on the bed; muscles were sticking out of his neck. "Please…"
Alone for all eternity he hadn't wanted to hurt anybody he had just wanted to protect her…
"Steve?" Claudia said, gently shaking his sleeve.
Trapped in his memories trapped in his guilt no way out…
"Steve!" She said more urgently, shaking him. He still wasn't waking up. She turned and ran out of the room.
no one would come for him sykes had taken over everything he was forgotten he was alone he had caused the deaths of everyone he loved because he wasn't good enough and he knew he deserved to be alone forever
Steve woke up as water drenched him. He turned to stare at Claudia, who was looking down on him, eyes wide.
"Claud?" He said, looking at the glass in his hand.
"You were having a nightmare." She said.
He nodded, and then stared up at her. "Thanks." He said roughly. "Um…I kind of want to get back to sleep…" Oh yeah, like there was any way in hell was sleeping tonight, let alone for a week. Not with nightmares like that.
"Oh no you don't Jinksy, you don't get out of that easily." Claud said, sitting down on his bed.
"Claud, it's been a long day…"
"Yeah, and I'm guessing that's why you were having nightmares."
"I don't want to talk about it." Steve said, grabbing a towel from one of his drawers (Leena had kept fresh towels and sheets on hand, bless her) and rubbing it through his hair.
"You know I don't blame you, right Jinksy?" Claud asked curiously.
"I mean, you were trying to help. It wasn't your fault Sykes made you attack me. Even Pete had to do what Marcus wanted with the riding crop."
That stupid riding crop. Why hadn't Steve just knocked out Marcus then, explained everything to Pete and Myka and Claud and they could have taken the Janus coin and run back to the Warehouse with it. Why had he given Claud the note telling him where to met him? He had led them into the lion's den: Sykes and Marcus, armed with artifacts that could kill and harm his friends.
"I should have executed the mission better." Steve said.
"Steve," damn it, his first name, this was serious, "you did everything Jane wanted you to. But Sykes was clever. He knew you would never betray us and hurt me, and that's why he saw through you. It's better than you slipping into the role of torturer and murderer too easily." Claud shuttered. "You could have been lured over to the dark side, and you weren't." She said easily. She stood up and walked over to him. His back was to her, so she stood behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "I'm glad you're back." She smiled. "And not a traitor."
Steve turned around and hugged her to him. "I'm glad I'm back too." He was hugging her tightly, almost too tightly, but Claudia sensed that he needed it and let him do it.
There was a moment of silence and then Steve spoke up again. "I could have done things better."
"You wanted to do your job and keep everybody safe." Claudia said. He felt her shrug. "Shit happens, that's a fact of life. And Sykes was a psychopath – you couldn't have predicted what you'd be up against." Steve nodded, comforted by her words. They stayed that way for a while, Claudia pleased that her partner was back, Steve relieved that he was freed from the heartlessness and cruelty of Marcus, his previous partner, and was back where he belonged – with his rightful partner, one who cared about him and loved him.
He might have nearly killed her, but he would take a bullet for her any day, and she knew that.
Steve took a deep breath, inhaling the wooden smell of his furniture, Claudia's perfume and fudge.
It was good to be home.