What Steve has always interpreted as "Myka", he now thinks might be masked pain. Like maybe she hasn't always been like this. Maybe the story of Myka's leave of absence he had heard was only half the truth. Maybe this Myka he knows is someone only half healed.
He watches her more closely after New Orleans. He isn't trying to snoop, doesn't like snooping, but he's curious now. He wants to know who Myka was, who she's trying to be now. It's hard, though, looking for a person he's never met.
It is also hard because she's watching him too. Worry, support, pointed nudging, they're all there in her gazes that make him shift uncomfortably. He knows what she wants him to do, but he can't talk to Claudia, yet. He has to sort through the situation on his own first.
Thankfully, Myka seems to understand. She stays quiet, helps him cover and hide his research. She redirects the conversation if Claudia asks too many questions.
He isn't used to having back-up. He had thought he'd grown used to depending on Claudia, then she used the metronome and redefined what 'depending' meant. He is still stumbling over the change. He had forgotten he had other team members he could look to for help.
Other team members who may also need his help. Myka's own ill-defined cross to bear appears to get heavier the day Mr. Kosan enters the office with HG Wells in tow. He presents the woman as an agent with no preamble or explanation. He says simply, "Ms. Wells has been reinstated." End of story.
But it's not even the beginning of the story. Never knowing HG personally, Steve stands apart from the commotion following this announcement. The scene sort of reminds him of when Myka returned. Artie reveals little but seems pleased, Pete is surprised yet welcoming, Claudia is outright gleeful, and Myka... well Steve can't actually read Myka's expression. But he sees the tears in her eyes and some things begin to click into place for him.
Things that continue to click as he observes the two women interact over the following days. Their relationship looks strained and awkward in a way that suggests they don't want it to be, but neither knows how to change it. Again, Steve doesn't have the right information to draw conclusions, and Claudia never volunteers any insight. But there are moments when the tension lifts and Myka smiles brighter than he's ever seen her smile.
He thinks he knows what pain has been weighing her down.
She finds him out on the porch, a couple of weeks after HG's reappearance. Pete and Claudia upstairs dueling in Super Mario Bros. (they're great at teamwork in the field, ruthlessly selfish in video games). Steve's taken the moment to step outside and revisit his metronome problems.
"Have you talked to Claudia, yet?" Myka asks. Pete had warned him about this too: her ability to know what you're thinking, her reluctance to let matters drop until they're resolved. She just wants things in order, to be tangible. She doesn't like leaving things up in the air. It makes Steve wonder.
"Have you talked to HG, yet?"
Myka's caught off-guard. "Have I... about what?"
"About," Steve isn't sure how to word his half-formed impressions. He shrugs. "About whatever it is between you two."
"There's nothing..." but the lie dies on her lips. She turns away.
"I need time," she says.
"To sort things out," Steve adds. "I know. I'm sure it's complicated."
Myka nods. "I thought she was gone."
Steve keeps his gaze neutral.
"I thought," Myka takes a breath and continues. Her voice gains strength and speed with every word. "I thought the Regents had taken her away and used the Janus coin again or whatever other corporal punishment they have at their disposal. I thought I was going to walk through the Bronze Sector one day and find her as a statue because they didn't say. They just took her, and they didn't say anything."
Tears sit heavy in her eyes, threatening to spill over. Steve can't help but remember the night he'd gone undercover and left Claudia behind. At least the Regents had supplied a lie for Claudia to fight against. Myka had been given nothing. Just silence to fuel her fears.
Myka folds her arms across her chest and shrugs. "And now she's back. No warning, no explanation," she shakes her head, "and I don't know what to do."
Steve hesitates a moment then gently says, "You should probably talk to her."
"I know," Myka says. "That's what Pete says too. Actually he says I should 'go for it', whatever that means."
"Ah, 'go for it'," Steve says, grateful for an opportunity to lighten the mood. "I believe that's today's equivalent to 'take the plunge.' Unless he meant it in the specific 'jump her now' way."
Myka doesn't smirk or hit or blush or really give any reaction that Steve had hoped for. She doesn't react at all.
"What if she doesn't stay?" She asks, sounding lost.
"I don't think HG is planning on leaving."
"What if it's not her choice?" Finally, she looks at him again, and Steve is hit with the realization that, while he's never seen her healed and happy, he's also never seen her completely broken. Broken like when she left the warehouse. Broken like she had been after Sam died. He doesn't want to know what Myka filled with that level of pain looks like.
Keeping his tone light (he just wants to ease her fears a bit, not divulge his own), he replies, "Well if it's any consolation, when it comes to an amoral agent who's saved your life a few times over and an undead agent whose existence is currently hurting another agent, I'm guessing the Regents will be more concerned over the undead agent."
Myka's face hardens, and he thinks that was the wrong thing to say.
"We're not going to let anything happen to you," Myka says. "Or Claudia. We'll find a way to keep you both safe."
She had said "we" as in the whole team. She had said it with sincerity and certainty, like she had meant it. The knowledge that he truly has an entire team willing to fight for him finally sinks in. It's like a drop of relief that ripples across his pool of concerns.
"Thanks." Then he admits, "I haven't found a solution yet."
"We'll find one," Myka says. She turns to go back inside. "Don't wait too long to talk to Claudia."
She paused at the door.
He looks her in the eye. "We'll fight for HG, too."
Myka shifts in place. "That's sweet, but you don't..." Steve interrupts before she can brush him off.
"Myka," he says. "I've seen the 'reluctant welcoming party' from Pete and Claudia." He points towards the inn. "That's not it. Claudia's talked of nothing but all her backlist of modifications she wants to make to the warehouse. She's already running some of them of by HG and ranking their priority. Pete won't stop joking and teasing which we both know he only does with people he likes. He's even plotting an Indiana Jones marathon for this weekend."
Myka scrunches her nose in disgust. "No. Why?"
"Because, and I quote, "we now have two people that need to be educated on the awesomeness that is Harrison Ford with a whip."
Myka rolls her eyes.
"Anyway," Steve says, "what I'm trying to point out is, you're not the only one who wants HG to be around. So if something happens, if the Regents try to detain her again, you won't be the only one putting up a fight. We'll all back you up."
The tears have returned, but Myka smiles softly.
Steve smiles back. "Anytime." He clears his throat. "So, we should probably head back inside."
"Yes. We should." But Myka continues to stand in the doorway, staring at him as he crosses the porch.
"What?" he asks.
"So you've seen Indiana Jones."
"Of course. Indiana Jones is a badass."
Myka bites her lip. "There aren't any tentacles in the movies, are there?"
Steve cocks his head. "No, not really. Not after the first one, anyway."
"The first one?" Myka's eyes widen.
"Yeah, well in the first one, he has to fight a mutant, cave octopus, but the scene only lasts maybe ten, twenty minutes."
It takes all of Steve's willpower not to burst out laughing at the horror on Myka's faces.
"That's not happening," Myka manages to say after several moments of gaping. "Nope. I'm not watching that. No." She shudders.
"Oh my god," Steve laughs. "I'm joking."
" Man! You really don't like tentacles. I thought Pete was exaggerating." Steve can't seem to stop laughing.
Myka narrows her eyes in a glare. "You lied to me. Not funny, Jinks." She jabs his chest with her finger for punctuation. "Not. Funny." Then she walks inside, leaving Steve still chuckling on the porch.