Disclaimer: I own nothing. Warehouse 13 and its characters belong to Syfy and not me.
Myka Bering had never considered herself maternal. It was a foreign concept to her; her brief time in that role feeling like a sweater two sizes too big – hindering and itchy. In truth, she'd always felt unfit for motherhood. Early on, her father had instilled in her a love of reading, of enchanted worlds with heroes and queens, and for that she would be forever grateful. But he had also instilled in her a deep-rooted fear of failure, a habit of self-deprecation that had been at times crippling for her. And all along her mother had stood by and watched, a specter amongst the stacks, blind to her daughter's damaged psyche. It always seemed so unfair, Myka thought, to bring a child into the world when all she could imagine was repeating her parents' mistakes. Perhaps if motherhood had a manual, she would give it a second thought. She would read every word, memorizing every detail as she had for the Warehouse. She was good at by-the-book; she wasn't good at this.
But now, some part of her had changed.
She saw it now, taking careful inventory of herself in the bathroom mirror. It was subtle – a new found softness in her eyes, the barest hints of red lines on her abdomen indications of quickly-fading stretchmarks. Perhaps all this introspection was a result of lingering hormones in her system, a fading shadow of a future that never was.
Myka gently pressed her hands against her belly, searching for some sign of budding life shifting beneath her palms, but found none. She felt relief at first, and then something wholly unexpected – loss. She hadn't told Pete, too frantic and scared herself and unwilling to inflict those emotions upon him, that just before the artifact had been neutralized, her water had broke. At the time, she'd merely been desperate to reverse the artifact's effects, but only now did the gravity of the situation sink in. The child had been real. She'd felt it stir within her, felt every gentle kick, every hiccup – a true life constructed from the power of an artifact. It frightened her at first, how powerful Pete's longing for a family had been to create a new being from nothingness. But, ideally, wasn't this how every child should be created? Two people, a longing, and love? There were biological and medical formalities, of course, but was this child's creation really so different from others? Was this child not deserving of love and protection?
She knew without a doubt that Pete was the father, wishing artifacts aside. In a half-sleep in the car, she'd dreamed of him holding a squirming bundle, gazing adoringly with tears in his eyes. He would be a good father, no doubt, but, just as she had never before considered herself a mother, she had never imagined Pete to be the father. More frightening, though, was how that thought alone made her smile. She found herself wondering if the baby had been a boy or a girl, if it would have had her eyes or his, if they would have named a boy after his father, or a girl 'Helena'.
This was a dangerous game to be playing, and she wouldn't let herself go through the heartache of loving a child that never was, of mourning that child.
She quickly composed herself, pulled her shirt down and ran her fingers through her hair, before slipping downstairs to the kitchen for a midnight Twizzlers raid. She found Pete out on the porch, and had the sudden urge to turn and leave, because she wasn't quite ready to talk about this, much less with him. Though it had initially been his wish, she had been the one carrying their child, who had instinctively protected it in any way possible. She had suffered the effects far more than he had. She would just snag her licorice as quietly as she could and be on her way. She was halfway around the corner, when she heard him.
"Mykes," he said from the doorway, looking just as sleepless and haunted as she. "Can't sleep either?"
Myka nodded, lowering her gaze so as not to betray the beginnings of tears lingering in her eyes, only to find her hand was still resting gently on her abdomen. She removed it quickly, but he had seen – he knew. Pete always seemed to know.
He folded his arms awkwardly across his chest, as if closing himself off to her. He hadn't been as cheery as usual upon leaving the hospital, drawn completely into himself. The image of him observing the nursery was imprinted on her mind. "I was just … uh … stargazing," he said, changing the subject. "You wanna see?"
She didn't. She really just wanted to turn around and go back to her room, to curl up with her teddy bear and remind herself that this was all for the best – and it was. She had never wanted a baby of her own, and truth be told she still didn't. Her life – this world of artifacts and endless wonder – was not suited for a child. It was easier to tell herself these half-truths in the solitude of her room, but she surprised herself by offering him a small smile and following him out onto the porch.
The air was chillier than she expected, and she tugged her sleeves over her hands to keep them warm. She gazed up at the night, a million lights blinking in and out of existence above their heads as she leaned against the railing. He'd told her once that his father had taught him about the stars, had showed him the constellations and told him the stories. She knew at once that this was why he was here, tonight of all nights, and imagined him teaching his own children about the night sky, and them teaching their children after that.
"You see those stars there?" he asked from behind her, and leaned close, pointing at a pattern of particularly bright stars. "That's Cassiopeia. She was this queen and she thought she was so pretty, and that really pissed everyone off, so her punishment was to hang out up there flipping all over the place."
Myka stifled a laugh at his version of the story. "I know the story of Cassiopeia, Pete," she said. "Remember? I grew up in a bookstore."
He made a harrumphing sound and settled his hands on the railing before them, reaching his arms around her. "Well, fine then," he teased. "No more stargazing for you."
She smiled, chewing on her stolen piece of licorice, staring up at the sky. There was a world of possibility out there, a world in which they knew anything could happen. Almost anything, at least. It made it all the more frustrating to feel so helpless, knowing all along the solution would be neatly packed and cataloged. Her smile fell at that thought.
Pete spoke from behind her, his voice edged in nerves. "Hey, Mykes." His grip on the railing tightened. "I'm … sorry. For getting you pregnant."
Part of her wanted to laugh at how absurd that statement sounded, but her mind was mostly elsewhere. "It wasn't all you," she said, fingering the edge of her sleeve.
It was Pete's turn to laugh, and his grip relaxed, as if he'd expected anger from her instead. "Well, normally I'd say 'it takes two to tango', but this was a case of artifact mojo. No tangoing here."
Myka continued to twist the edge of her sleeve in her fingers, a nervous habit. It wouldn't be fair to put all the blame on Pete when she had a theory – untested, yet plausible. "Well, I was thinking. That artifact did some pretty amazing things, but the effects of artifacts usually scale with the people they're acting on, right? Well, I may have been a little jealous of Tracy." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "I might still be." And she dare not say that her feelings for him – love? – might have figured into this whole mess. She would never survive his gloating, and it felt premature to be qualifying that love.
Pete sighed against her ear, shifting uncomfortably. "It's more than that, though," he said, reading her mind like he always does. "Isn't it?"
"It's stupid." She knew it was. They'd all been affected by artifacts in the past; this should be no different.
"No," Pete said, carefully hooking his chin over her shoulder. "It isn't."
She gasped softly when she felt his hand settle over her navel, hovering as if he were fearful she'd break. Perhaps he'd felt this loss as deeply as she had; that despite regretting having caused her pain, he had lost his chance at something he longed for so dearly. She covered his hand with her own, their fingers twining against the fabric of her shirt.
"You know, I've been thinking," he said softly. His voice so close to her ear held a sort of intimacy that frightened her, something for which she felt unprepared. "It's really not a good time for me to start a family. With anyone. Especially you."
She didn't need Steve to tell her that this was a lie.
"Yeah," she lied.
Truthfully, Pete was the only man she could imagine having a family with right now. He'd said it himself – they lived this crazy life together, depending on one another, carrying each other sometimes from the brink of death. He already was her family, and the thought of him absent from any major event in her life was frightening and wrong. And part of her – some small corner deep in her gut – imagined the fluttering of a new life beneath their clasped hands.
Still, a child was not part of her plans right now. There were too many artifacts to find, too many adventures to be had. She only wished she could grant her partner this one gift, to help him be the incredible father she knew he one day would be. And maybe – and this was a big maybe – she'd be the mother he said she'd be.
They stood that way for a long while, gazing out into the night, mourning the loss of their child that never was, a future that would never be. A meteor streaked across the sky, and Myka closed her eyes.