Disclaimer: I own nothing at all. Warehouse 13 belongs to SyFy/Universal/whoever else is on the credits.
Myka had never considered a wedding to be a somber event – not until today, at least. Artie and Vanessa had already made their escape, leaving the rest of them to sit out on Leena's lawn, watching the sunset. It had been a simple ceremony, but there were soft colors and dainty flowers; a stark contrast to their lives the past few weeks.
Grief can be tackled in many ways – for some it is easier to pull away, but for others it is only a reminder of what all they have left to lose. Myka understands why her friends had married so quickly, had feared losing each other so much, and yet she had scarcely been able to muster a smile for their sakes. She still feels far too young to have endured so much loss.
And then she sees Claudia clutching a photo of Steve and knows she's not the only one.
She sees Jane slip a flask from her purse when she thinks no-one's looking. But Myka won't say anything – it takes all her resolve not to do the same.
She watches Pete twirl Leena to some soft music crooning from an old record player. It might be the first time Leena's laughed in weeks, but, let's face it, Pete has never been the best dancer, and his energy is always contagious. There's no doubt that he's been their rock through this crisis, always there to pick up the pieces. He's personally helped arrange the funerals, written eulogies, obituaries, everything in his power to lessen the blow on his friends; his family. And even now, as he stumbles over Leena's bare toes, he's doing all he can to bring some small joy back into their lives. But deep down, Myka knows that Pete is suffering too. She sees it in every glance, every movement, as if he's aged ten years in as many days.
The night descends around them, pin-pricks of stars blinking awake, and soon Pete is standing before her, hand extended. "May I have this dance?" he asks, and smiles that lopsided grin that has become so endearing over the years.
She chokes out a short snort of laughter and shakes her head, waving her hands in front of her face as if fending off a swarm of insects. "No, no. I do not dance." But a raise of his eyebrows is all it takes for her to cave in and let him pull her to her feet.
He pulls her into his arms. There's a sense of completeness in this act, in the hand at the small of her back, the gentle pulse of his heart. He's become a constant in her life, the one source of solidity in a world that is crumbling around her, and she won't – can't – lose him. "What do we do now?" she asks softly, settling her head in the crook of his neck as they sway to and fro.
He's quiet for a long moment, then replies, "We take it one day at a time."
Her grip tightens against his shoulder, because part of her knows it will never be that simple, that they'll never be as they were before. And, she thinks, maybe they shouldn't. "And … and what if that isn't enough?"
He grows quiet again, his head settling against hers. And at once their fingers are entwining, pressing close over his heart. "I don't know," he breathes against her hair.
She looks up at him, memorizing the gentle pressure of his body, the soft adoration in his gaze. He's broken, too, and though he may never readily admit it, she knows he understands her. He always has. "I'm sick of losing everyone I care about," she whispers, voice breaking. "I want … I can't have what I want." She sighs, rolling her eyes at her own foolishness. "God, I feel like a child."
"You've still got me, you know," he replies gently. "And Claudia and Leena. And Artie."
He frowns, tightening his arm about her waist. "Myks," he says, pulling back to lock his eyes with hers. "I'm not going anywhere, okay? We'll get through this, we all will. I promise."
She feels the night thicken around them, isolating them for this brief, peaceful moment. Their companions retire, one by one slinking drowsily inside. The record has long since gone silent, but Pete's arms are still wrapped firmly around her, protecting her. He rests his forehead against hers and closes his eyes, because maybe he needs this too.
And despite all of her cynicism and every emotional wall she's ever built, she can't help but believe him.
Warehouse 13.1. That's what Artie calls it as he pores over the blueprints with Jane at his side. Myka knows this is necessary, that regardless of their personal loss, the work of Warehouse agents must continue. But nothing seems the same, and it feels like artifact-hunting should not be their first priority now. Too much has been broken, too many lives lost; it's nearly impossible to keep moving forward when it feels like a piece of your heart is physically missing.
Claudia has hardly spoken since the explosion, having holed up in her room, tinkering away at the remaining Teslas, typing away at her laptop. She's intent on bringing Steve back, no matter the cost. And maybe, Myka thinks, this is their fault, for having let someone so young, so innocent see the things they've seen.
Pete joins her at the table and passes her a thick file – unusually so – and she opens it with a frown. "This can't be good," she mutters, and absently chews on a Twizzlers.
"Not an artifact," he replies. "Super secret-important-rebuilding-the-warehouse stuff. Something about the Regents' Secret Archives or something." He opens his folder as well, leafing through the pages.
"Okay," Myka says, eyebrows raising. "So the Regents have a secret vault, a secret sanctum, and now secret archives? Seems a little-"
"Cloak and dagger?" Pete supplies helpfully.
Jane clears her throat and interjects from across the table, "We Regents do what we must to keep artifacts safe from the world."
Myka frowns. "Don't you mean to keep the world safe from artifacts?"
"The archives," Jane explains, ignoring Myka's question, "were built here in America in the eighteenth century. A little like separating a lock from its key. No-one had ever considered that thirteen little colonies would rise to power so quickly."
"So the Regents of Warehouse 12," Myka cuts in, understanding the logic, "hid them in a place so unassuming that no-one would ever think to look for them."
"Exactly," Jane says. "But the British-based Regents would still be able to have some power over the area. It didn't really matter, though. No-one has ever breached the barriers to the archives. Well, not until last night."
Pete breaks away from the cookie he's munching on. "Someone broke in?"
"Not exactly," says Artie, setting aside the blueprints. "The Remati Shackle detects activity in any of the Warehouse locations. Let's just say that the shackle pinged, but no alarms were activated."
"So what are you saying?" asks Myka. "They knew how to get in?"
"Maybe. We don't … exactly … know," replies Artie. "The archives were designed in part by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler. Euler went blind at the peak of his productivity, but still continued to make mathematical breakthroughs every day. The archive locks were designed as a series of mathematical puzzles, a maze leading to the entrance. They were meant to blend in, taking the form of caves, and – ideally – the maze would be nearly impossible to solve without knowing the key. Nearly, uh, being the key word. It's conceivable for someone to stumble into the cave and trip the alert on the shackle."
"So …," Pete says, eyeing Artie skeptically, "you're saying it could be someone trying to destroy the world again, or it could just be a couple of kids fooling around."
"Maybe," Artie concedes. "But it's been over a hundred years since someone has gotten far enough to activate the shackle. It may not be long before they breach the interior as well. And I for one do not think it's a coincidence that this is happening merely weeks after … you know."
"Okay, wait," Myka cuts in, desperate to divert the conversation. "You still haven't told us what's in these archives."
Everyone turns their gaze to Jane, expectantly.
"The archives are sort of like … the Warehouse's backup server," she says. "Actually the backup server is in the archives."
"But that's not all," says Pete. "You said the archives have been around since the colonial days. There had to be a purpose for them then, too."
Jane and Artie exchange a look. "Warehouse 12 had … different policies regarding artifacts," says Jane. "Some artifacts are too dangerous to be housed in the stacks of the Warehouse. Now, we put them in the Dark Vault, but in Warehouse 12, they were sent to the archives."
"That doesn't seem like it's asking for trouble at all," Pete remarks sarcastically.
"That's not all," Jane continues. "Some artifacts were identified by Warehouse 12, but not – what is it you say, Artie? Snagged and bagged?"
"So they just let artifacts into the world?" Myka asks, not fully buying into this tale, not believing that this was standard operating procedure in Helena's day.
"You've done it, too," Artie points out. "Remember the cross at Riverton prison? These artifacts were still on what the Regents refer to as 'active duty'. Artifacts aren't usually created for the sole purpose of wreaking havoc, after all. These are still essentially doing their job, and in possession of the appropriate person. Warehouse 12 agents would keep record of these artifacts, so they'd be easier to track down later, when things might get out of hand. These records are held in the archives as well."
"We had already planned to use these records to begin rebuilding the Warehouse's inventory," Jane explains. "But we were holding off until we had the proper facilities, tight enough security..."
Pete finishes her sentence for her, "But now it's become an emergency."
"Yep," Artie says, passing the Farnsworth across the table. "We'll explain the lock on your flight."
"Oh, goody," Pete mutters. Myka helps him gather up the files, Farnsworth, and their only remaining functional Tesla. She can practically see the tension between Pete and his mother, a battle of wills no-one is going to win, and she wonders briefly if their battling auras are why Leena's kept out of sight for days.
"Have fun in Maryland," Artie calls after them as they leave.
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Pete whispers, clicking the safety of his pistol into the off position. He's felt nothing but bad juju since they entered this twisting maze of tunnels. It started as a vague tingling sensation at the base of his neck, and has since spread to his whole body, every nerve on fire, ready to spring into response at every sound, every smell. And worst of all, every time he looks at Myka, he feels his stomach twist and drop. He's had many bad vibes in his life, but never one so painful.
At least, not since that day his father left for work and never came home.
"We're almost there," Myka whispers back. "Just to the left up here."
They make their way to the end of the tunnel, and are confronted by a dead end. He hands Myka his flashlight and presses both hands against the rock. The stone is cool, a remarkable contrast to the warm, thick air around them. It doesn't take long before he finds the engraving, a roughly carved Eye of Horus, twisted on its side at about hip height. He feels a buzz in his arm as he touches it. "I've got a really bad feeling about this," he says to himself, under his breath.
"Press the iris in," Myka instructs, reading from the file. "And then rotate the door counter clockwise four times, then around again until it's upright at the top of the circle."
Pete grunts as he rotates the stone door, once, then twi- but the mechanism clicks before he even reaches the end of the first rotation, and the sinking feeling in his stomach rises like bile into his throat. Myka looks at him, and he looks back, and he's sure their expressions could both be classified as 'oh shit.'
He pushes the door open as quietly as possible, and nods his head toward the interior, signaling her to enter, but to be careful. Mother of everything good, be careful because this vibe is only getting worse. She takes right and he takes left. She has the Tesla because she's a better shot, but he's got his pistol, and with how his life has gone up in flames lately – literally – he's not afraid to use it.
The archives are not as special-looking as he'd expected. He watched that movie – Angels and Demons – once, with the Vatican's Secret Archives, and honestly he's a little disappointed that the Regents were showed up by Hollywood. There are rows of bookcases, but not nearly as many as he'd thought, and tables gathering dust. There are rows of crates around the perimeter of the room, as if no-one ever unpacked. But more concerning is the door, lined with lead and a familiar purple substance, opening into an empty room.
The artifacts are gone.
Myka finds her target at once. It wasn't really difficult – the backup server sticks out amongst all the antiques, a brief glimpse into a not-so-distant future. But she sinks low and scuttles behind some crates to reach it, because she hears voices, and they do not belong to Pete. Oh, Pete. He's never been the best at stealth (though he would never admit it), and stealth is what it's going to take to keep them alive.
She slips the super-flash drive – one of Claudia's designs – into position, and thanks the powers-that-be for her photographic memory as she types in the command to transfer the records before wiping the memory. A progress bar pops up on the screen.
Three minutes remaining.
Hopefully they'll have that long.
And as soon as she's thought it, she hears that all-too-familiar clicking of guns, and a rough voice. "Found 'er."
Pete's stomach twists painfully a split second before he hears the voice. It takes all the control he can muster not to run to her aid, and instead to crouch behind a bookcase, his pack already stuffed with as many records as he can manage. Whoever's here has already looted the artifacts, and about two stacks' worth of written records, but this shelf is still mostly full, allowing him a slim line of sight to the intruder. He aims his pistol carefully.
And then he sees a folder that gives him a vibe almost equal to that which he's already experiencing, and he shoves it in his pack as quickly as he can.
Myka briefly considers what a well aimed Tesla zap could do for her, but two more men, outfitted in state of the art black-ops gear, aim to use her for target practice, and she decides that maybe she'd be better off cooperating for now. She makes a show of putting her Tesla on the ground and kicking it away from herself.
And then she catches the glint of Pete's pistol out of the corner of her eye, and feels no less than ten muscles relax at the base of her neck. Because between the two of them, they can probably take on three of the intruders.
The computer continues to count down.
One minute, fifty-seven seconds remaining.
And then four more men slip out from the crates behind her.
Pete curses silently, and racks his brain for a solution, any solution that ends with them leaving this place in one piece. He's lost so much, and losing his best friend is not on his to-do list today (or any day for that matter). A distraction would be nice, but preferably one that does not divert attention directly back to him.
… and then he smells fudge.
He scans the stacks until he sees it, two bookcases over there's an old glass bottle balanced precariously on the corner of the top shelf. It's resting on a long strip of linen that dangles down to about shoulder height. And then he notices the grooves, dug along the edges of the shelves, etching a path over each stack.
A contingency plan.
And though he could easily reach the linen and tip the bottle, he needs something loud.
"Who are you?" Myka asks, regarding the masked men carefully, hands laced behind her head. "What do you want?" She dares a glance toward the computer.
One minute, twenty-two seconds remaining.
"We could ask the same of you," a voice replies. The man steps forward, and she notices at once that he's different from the rest. Though he may be outfitted in military-grade gear, he moves as if it's foreign to him. He favors his right leg, as if from age and not an injury. "Who sent you? Was it Jane?"
Myka stiffens at the mention of the name, because she always feels two steps behind. And she realizes that he must be the leader of this little operation.
And then it happens.
A gunshot and the sound of shattering glass.
One minute remaining.
Her captors turn toward the sound – toward Pete – and they see Pete because the liquid from the broken bottle is dribbling all over the bookcases, their hues fading and fading, as if they're merely paintings at the mercy of paint thinner. And, Myka thinks, it probably is paint thinner. Of some sort. And the shelves keep fading until they're transparent, and eventually they aren't there at all.
Pete fires again, hitting one of the men in the shoulder, causing him to drop his weapon and fall into the growing puddle of paint thinner on the floor. The man watches in silent horror for a moment as his legs grow pale and ultimately disappear entirely. And then he screams.
Myka scrambles for her Tesla, careful to avoid the growing puddles. She sees Pete dive behind a crate, away from the vanishing bookshelves, shielding himself from a cascade of bullets, and follows suit.
Forty-two seconds remaining.
The thinner spreads, forming a puddle around one of the columns supporting the roof of this massive cave. And she knows Pete sees it too, because she hears, "Oh, crap," from a few crates away. There's a crackling noise as the pillar itself begins to crumble. And the leader sees it too, because even as his men continue to fire, he slips back out the door, dragging a large pack behind him.
But his men are trapped across the gallery behind another set of crates, away from the exit. And then they start screaming. Myka sees it – the puddle leaking out along one side of the crates – and she takes this opportunity while it's still there.
Ten seconds remaining.
She rushes for the computer and pockets the flashdrive. She's just about to dive for the exit when she's knocked to her hands and knees, a burning sensation in the small of her back, and she wonders with dread if the paint thinner has gotten her too. She tries to crawl, to find Pete – Oh, god, Pete – but her legs feel heavy, and then her whole body feels heavy.
She hears a rumbling and then a crash, and the screaming finally stops. She sees the door ahead, but her vision is getting fuzzy around the edges, and all she can focus on is a small glint of gold on the ground, a few feet from the exit.
It's Pete. In an instant his arms are around her, pressing insistently at her back.
"God, Myks." His voice is breaking. "We've got to get you out of here, okay? Can you look at me?"
She blinks up at him, but he seems very far away.
"Can you walk?"
And she thinks, I can barely keep my eyes open, and then even that is too much.
"Stay with me," he tells her.
And she wishes she could.
Leena senses it first, then Jane. And then the two women are running from room to room, shouting for everyone to get out.
The explosion happens earlier than they'd thought.