If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
Helena should've known. She should've known the Regents wouldn't have let her go that easily. She'd have to go through Tartarus before she could drink from the waters of Lethe.
"You are bastards, you know that," she said simply to the Regent. She couldn't remember which one, they all looked alike in their superiority, their smugness, their self-righteousness. "Bloody bastards."
He didn't answer. His men, loyal little wind-up dolls, held her down and pried her hand open. He placed the coin in her palm.
"Think of Christina," the Regent said. "Think of learning you were pregnant. Think of your stomach swelling, your body out of your control. Let it go. You've always been in control."
"Bloody bastards…" Helena repeated, trying to think of a way out, some Artifact or science… she'd make a deal with the Devil himself to stop this. But even Hell had forsaken her.
"Think of giving birth. Think of holding your child in your arms. Think of naming her Christina."
She wouldn't give them the satisfaction of tears, let them think for even a moment that there was repentance. A world ruled by men like this deserved to die. It was only those like Myka, who people like the Regents always tricked and misused, that dissuaded her. But if she couldn't destroy the world, she would at least like to damage it—preferably, with a smoking crater in one of those diners the Regents met at in their ridiculous pretension of averageness.
"Think of watching your child grow. Think of her first step, her first word. Let it go."
"Fuck you!" Helena screamed, spittle flying from her mouth. No more composure, she couldn't keep that, couldn't even value that when she was losing her daughter all over again.
"Think of Christina's death. Think of her corpse. Think of the funeral, think of the men who did it, think of how you tried to bring her back and failed."
"Think of the Agent you killed. Think of asking to be Bronzed. Think of the years spent frozen, plotting against the world."
She wouldn't cry. She closed her eyes. She wouldn't let them see her cry.
"Think of MacPherson. Think of the Minoan Trident. Think of Yellowstone."
"It's my pain! You can't have it! It's a scar on my soul and it's all I have left of her!"
"Let it go."
Her eyes snapped open. They were damp with tears but she didn't care anymore. She wanted to look the bastard in the eye. "I will kill you. I'll find a way out of this and you will die. What I did to the men who killed Christina was limited by 19thcentury technology. I'm going to show you exactly what strides science has made in the past hundred years."
"You never had a daughter. In 1900, due to an accident with an Artifact, you were transported in time to modern day, where you rejoined the Warehouse. You are a trusted and valued Agent. You love the Warehouse. You are loyal to the Regents. You appreciate the second chance you were given."
Helena blinked. Stiffly, she wiped at her eyes. "I'm… I'm sorry, I must've fallen asleep. Where…"
The Regent smiled. "You're in a Warehouse 13 medical facility. You were injured retrieving an Artifact. Some of your memories may have been affected."
Helena smiled right back. "Yes, things do seem a tidge fuzzy. Rather like certain Oriental opiates, only without the more pleasing side effects. I am alright, I trust?"
"Yes. A few weeks of medical leave and you can go back to work. Your co-workers have sent their wishes for a speedy recovery, particularly Agent Bering."
It wasn't her H.G. As ridiculous as the thought was, it was what kept running through Myka's mind. Not that she was happy to see Helena, or anxious to again be partnered with the woman who had very nearly brought about the Apocalypse, but that it wasn't Helena at all. It was some facsimile, some garish duplicate—too bright, too cheerful, too plastic. Her Helena had always had a certain darkness in her eyes, a grief they'd shared, that they had soothed in each other. They were survivors, partners in survival. And even though that darkness had grown to consume her, Myka missed it. It was perverse, but true.
Ms. Fredric had explained it, stressing that H.G. had wanted this. She couldn't bear the pain of losing a child, so this was the only way. Reset. She'd go back to doing what she loved, with the people she loved, only without… only she wasn't strong enough to do that with her grief as part of her. That was what struck Myka. The H.G. she'd known—thought she'd known—was so much stronger than that. Almost too strong; she'd tried to punish the world for taking her daughter away and she'd almost succeeded. Leaving them here.
"And just so you know, Pete," Helena was saying with a chipper smile and a wag of her head, "don't think my memory lapse will let you trick me into thinking I've promised you a look at my décolletage, or some tawdry sexual favor. You'll simply have to earn those the old-fashioned way: diamonds."
Everyone laughed, but Claudia was the only one who really struck Myka as false. Maybe the rest of them were just too good at smoothing over rough edges.
It was Helena's choice. Myka kept reminding herself of that. This was what she wanted. Needed.
"Alright, reunion's over, back to work," Artie said, almost managing to tamp his bitterness down to the usual grouchiness. "It's amnesia, not the Seventh Seal. If you find it so interesting, watch a soap opera."
Helena beamed at him as she went to Myka, who frantically gathered her paperwork to avoid looking… what? "Still tossed over me," H.G. observed to her friend, sitting on Myka's desk. "He must have a problem with strong women. I can't imagine what else I've done to offend. Do you think I should sleep with him?"
"With Artie?" Myka tried to sear that mental image out of her mind with sheer will. "I think you'd give him a heart attack."
"Don't be jealous, Myka, he is quite contrary to my type. But there are certain Artifacts that can wonderfully tamper with the mind. Perhaps he'd be more amenable if he thought we'd once shared a spectacular weekend…" Helena paused. Myka looked into her eyes, concerned. There was suddenly a gloss missing from Helena's eyes, a cloud passing over her newfound optimism. Her irises roved about, trying to find it. For a moment, Myka saw the darkness.
Helena shook her head. "On second thought, I suppose using Artifacts in such a fashion might be frowned upon. I shall simply have to prevail upon him in the British manner—stiff upper lip and a droll sense of humor. He'll come around."
"I can't imagine he won't," Myka agreed.
"Claudia!" Helena called suddenly, standing with a hand on Myka's shoulder. The hacker had been lying on the couch, laptop in her lap. At the sound of her name spoken with a British accent, Claudia eeked and nearly threw her laptop into orbit. She caught it. With her face.
"Sorry, love," Helena apologized insincerely. "But have there been any curiosities of late?"
"You meab a ping?" Claudia asked, holding her bloody nose. "Nobe. All qubet on the Westernb front."
"Smashing! Oodles of time for us all to get reacquainted. Perhaps a trip to the local pub? I know some profoundly dirty drinking songs. All exposed ankles and people dancing!"
Myka grinned despite herself. She'd always wondered how much of Helena's intoxicating good cheer was an act and how much had been sincere happiness to be back in the Warehouse, with Myka… where she belonged. It was good to know… in a tinged, almost unwholesome sort of way… that Helena really had been that woman, once upon a time.
"Can't," Claudia said. "Underage. South Dakota sucks."
"Can't," Pete repeated. "Being an alcoholic sucks."
"I just don't like strong women," Artie said with a poker face.
"Eavesdropper," Helena chided. "Just you and me then, Myka." Helena grabbed her partner's hands. "What an unexpected, yet truly fortuitous, happenstance!"
"Coincidental!" Myka agreed, allowing Helena to pull her along.
"This is quite the boon for you," Helena said, and the way the shorter woman led Myka around made her feel like a big dog on a leash. Leashes and H.G. Wells—best not to go there. "My memories regarding so much of the 21st century remain frustratingly opaque, so you can introduce me to the wonders of modern society all over again. Which means you get to spend even more time with me. Bully for you!"
Myka laughed along with her and tried to ignore the stubbornly off-kilter feeling in her stomach. This was Helena's decision. This was who Helena wanted to be. And Myka would respect that.