Disclaimer: Warehouse 13, the world and the characters that inhabit it do not belong to me in any way, though sometimes I lie away at night wishing that they did and what I'd do with them if they did. And then I write those thoughts down.
A/N: So, I actually started this right after 4x04 aired. I know. I blame tumblr. And other fic distractions. And partly laziness. But here we go, my shot at Myka/Steve bromance.
She was curled into the corner of the living room sofa with a battered paperback and absently winding a lock of hair around her pointer finger when Steve wandered in, hovering close to the doorway and looking a little like a lost puppy. Myka gave him a moment and then flicked her gaze to him. He caught it, held it with a tentative smile and then opened his mouth to speak.
"Weird question." She closed her book and shuffled slightly on the couch to give him her full attention.
"Okay." She blew the word out with a long breath and narrowed her eyes in playful suspicion. Hands buried deep in his pockets, the usually calm and unruffled man shifted on the spot in a manner that could only be described as nervous.
"Do you maybe want to go out for a drink?" He let the question hang for a moment, an awkward pause filling the silence. "With me." Myka stared at him, eyes returning to their normal size as she tilted her head slightly to convey the befuddlement she felt at the question. Suddenly understanding how his words had sounded, Steve started, pulling a hand from his pants to wave it dismissively, and with a little more manic enthusiasm than was strictly necessary, in front of him. "I mean, not like that. Obviously not like that." Myka's eyebrows hiked almost to her hairline and Steve knitted his together instantly, holding up a finger as if to forestall any comment she might be about to make. "Oh, no, not that you're not attractive or-or," he made a kind of spasmodic gesticulation with his hand and Myka's mouth began curving into a smile. Steve rolled his lips in on themselves, setting his eyes imploringly towards the ceiling as he hummed his annoyance to the heavens. His mouth opened with pop and an uncomfortable laugh and he rested his hands heavily on his hips, bringing his gaze back to the now grinning woman before him. "Can I please start over?" Myka laughed, tossing aside the blanket she'd draped over her knees and moving to stand.
"You can apologise by buying me a drink."
She was a little surprised when Steve's driving took them out further than Univille. Although it was only a little, because it was Univille, and she didn't think they even had a bar. He'd laughed when she'd voiced the thought, informing her that they actually had two but then admitted that he wasn't sure if the second one counted.
"The guy at the grocery store has a really tiny back room with two or three tables set up in there. It sounds kind of seedy, but he has a liquor license."
Myka was pretty sure it didn't count.
They weren't driving for very long, at least it didn't seem long – Myka found that the time passed rather quickly with Steve. He was a nice guy, easy to talk to, an easy fit for their family. The thought gave way to a moment of sadness however, because they should have been doing things like this, hanging out, before Sykes had stripped the young man's life from him. Before Steve have been bound to a metronome and a woman he looked at as a sister. But Myka was a firm believer in better late than never and maybe now was better in a way, because it seemed as though Steve really needed someone he could talk to right now. And through some weird twist of fate, that person had turned out to be Myka.
The establishment was a small one, though instead of creating a potentially stifling and uncomfortable atmosphere, an air of cosiness hung about it. It seemed to have sunk into the few tables and chairs haphazardly placed around the room and the stools at the bar, and Myka briefly considered the possibility of artifact interference before she brushed it off. Maybe this was why Steve liked this place, it was very 'zen'.
The few patrons occupying the tables paid them little attention as they entered and made their way towards the bar, where they were greeted by a young man, probably in his mid-twenties, wearing a warm smile.
"Howdy, folks." Myka returned his smile, somewhat charmed by his southern accent, and claimed the stool beside the one Steve had taken. "What can I do you for?" Steve turned to her and raised his eyebrows, and Myka nodded at the silent question. He flourished two fingers in the bartender's direction.
"Two of your finest." The younger man draped the cloth he was carrying over his shoulder and gave a small chuckle.
"Sure thing, Steve." He made his way to the opposite end of the bar and Myka quirked her eyebrows at the familiarity.
"I come here sometimes." Steve explained, catching her expression. "I mean, not lately," she gave him a wry smile.
"I'd have thought being dead might have given you a reason to frequent places like this." The bartender returned with their drinks and Steve handed him a bill. "Or is that why we're here now?" He shook his head.
"I'm not quite to the point where I need to drink to forget yet." His tone was light as he said it, but it nudged the seed of worry that had been planted in the pit of her stomach during their trip to New Orleans and Myka shifted restlessly on her stool, twisting off the cap of her beer.
"You sure about that?" She glanced sidelong at him as he did the same with his own drink and lifted the bottle to his lips. It wasn't that she took Steve for the type of person who'd drink their problems away, and could he even still do that? She wasn't entirely sure of the metronome affects on such things, and suspected he wasn't either, but regardless of that, he was her friend. And she was worried about him.
Swallowing the amber liquid, Steve thumbed one corner of the peeling label and gave a half-shrug as he focused his gaze on the bar top.
"There isn't," he gestured towards the empty air with a hand, "a whole lot of information on the metronome. At least, not as far as I've been able to find." He drew his eyebrows together in a tight frown. "If I could just find out how to break the connection, if there's even a way to do that..." Shaking his head, he trailed off and lifted his bottle to take another drink. Myka pursed her lips, biding her time as she ran over what she wanted to say in her head.
"Maybe if you talk to Claud, tell her what's been going on-" Steve shook his head, the motion one born of an emphatic need for the exact opposite to happen.
"No. I can't, not yet. I need to know more first." Myka leaned forward a little on her stool, ducking her head to catch the younger man's eye.
"But if you tell her, maybe you guys can figure things out together. Two brains are better than one," she pointed out, "and I'm pretty sure Claudia has a second one buried somewhere inside her head, so really you'd have three." He smiled at that, one of those 'proud older brother' smiles that made Myka's heart ache just a little whenever she saw it.
"I know, and believe me I've thought about that." He inhaled, noisily pulling the air in between his clenched teeth as he gave a sharp shake of his head. "I can't." And he gave her a look that was so filled with sadness and anxiety, a longing for things to be different, that she pushed aside the urge to insist further. She might not agree with his want to keep it a secret, but she could understand his desire to. "But I will."
She'd kept her secrets from the others too, not so long ago. Only then they'd involved a rogue former agent of Warehouse 12, who she probably, definitely, shouldn't have been conversing with.
So they fell into a kind of comfortable silence as they sipped from their bottles and let the gently upbeat music filtering in from unseen speakers fill the space between them.
Myka took the quiet moment to assess their surroundings in a way that wasn't quite as thorough as it would have been had they been out on a case, but it was a motion most definitely born from years of training. It seemed as though a few people had entered after them and were milling about in their chosen groups, some individuals flitting back and forth between social circles, all of them talking and laughing, just blowing off steam. There were other people, huddle around tables and into the few booths set into the far walls who were definitely not talking, as their mouths were otherwise occupied. Myka's attention lingered on one particular booth that was home to two woman, younger than herself, who were locked in an embrace that was gaining passion as the seconds ticked by. So much so that Myka was fairly certain she probably shouldn't be watching them, but her gaze faltered twice before she finally pulled her attention away.
"Wow," she said, glancing towards Steve from the corners of her eyes, "people are really... not shy here." Curious, Steve turned his head to peer over his shoulder and then turned back to face her with a laugh.
"If experience has taught me anything, it's that this might be the only place they feel comfortable enough to be themselves." He lifted his bottle to his lips again and was midway through taking a long pull before he registered the way Myka was looking at him. Her brow was furrowed, like he'd just told her Artie had trimmed his eyebrows and the words wouldn't filter through her ears in a way that made sense. "I mean, this is a small town. There are probably a lot of people here who aren't too open-minded when it comes to that kind of thing." He twisted his bottle by the neck, rolling it along the bar top as he huffed a little sadly, mostly to himself. "It's nice that there's somewhere we can come to let loose a little." He shook his head. "Just be ourselves." And finally, Myka twigged. And she did so with a visible start, jerking her head back and then bobbing it forward again.
"Is this..." her eyes darted around suspiciously, "did you bring me to a gay bar?" And then it was Steve's turn to frown, because her tone of voice gave the impression that she had no idea why he'd do such a thing. She wasn't obviously offended, just confused.
"Well, yeah." He admitted, giving her an uncertain half-smile. "I thought it would be kind of nice to bond over-" Her gasp cut him off, leaving him gaping slightly as she stared at him, waving an accusatory finger in his direction.
"You said 'ourselves'!" She stage-whispered. "As in, as in you and me! Being the same!" His frown deepened momentarily, until the way she was looking at him finally made sense in conjunction with her words, and then his eyes grew wide.
"Oh god." He muttered, as Myka's jaw dropped and she began jerking her head in all directions to send her gaze around the room. It wasn't really shock that guided her motions, but more the need to properly take in her surroundings. Assess them more clinically.
"This is a gay bar?" Lifting his arms to rest his elbows on the table, Steve exhaled nosily.
"But you're not?" He dropped his forehead into his waiting palms. "Oh, god." Beside him, Myka straightened, blinking owlishly.
"You thought I was?" He lifted his head a little, gesturing pointlessly in front of him as he purposefully avoided looking at her.
"I mean, kind of?" He sputtered. "I don't-" She ducked her head to catch his eye, pinning him with her gaze.
"Do I give off some kind of vibe? Did I-" she waved her hand towards him, "did I ping your radar or something?" He paused at that, not sure whether he should take the time to correct her or not. He decided against it and instead vigorously shook his head.
"No. No! You just," he dropped his forearms to rest them against the bar and sighed helplessly. "I guess I just assumed." Myka practically shot out of her seat, her next words coming as a hitch-pitched whisper.
"Why would you 'just assume' something like that?" She demanded, doing a complete one-eighty in a matter of milliseconds and turning down the volume of her voice with her next question. "Is it the button-downs?" Despite his mortifying predicament, Steve laughed at that.
"No, nothing to do with your clothes, I promise." He lifted a hand to run the palm across his prickly hair. "I just though that you and H.G. were, you know..." He trailed off, because suddenly Myka was frowning at him again, pain flashing across her face before it was drained of all emotion.
"Oh." She breathed softly, and in the following moment of quiet contemplation, Steve felt the tone of the conversation shifting. He struggled with his options for a few heartbeats.
"I mean..." He clearing his throat as Myka turned sad eyes on him. "Aren't you guys-" Myka shifted again on her stool and the motion cut him off.
"Yeah. Yeah." She paused, furrowing her brow and snaring her lower lip between her teeth as she dropped her eyes to her lap and let her gaze turn distant. "Kind of. We were... close. And then we weren't. And then she was a hologram, and now..." She tapered off, bringing her attention back up and finding an unexpected comfort in the way Steve was looking at her. Like he understood. "And now she's gone again."
"God knows where." Steve said, a sad smile lifting his lips as he quoted the words Myka had used. "Must be driving you crazy." Myka tilted her head, silently appraising the young man sitting across from her. She'd known he was a good guy, had known that Claudia had plenty of reasons to have bonded so closely with him. She'd just never expected to find reasons of her own. For her to find it as easy to talk to him as Claudia herself had. She gave a gentle nod of her head, lips curving upward.
"Kind of." It was an understatement, and he knew it.
"And there's no way you can get any information...?" Myka gave a half-hearted shrug.
"Artie swears he doesn't know anything, and I believe him. Mrs Frederic just keeps telling me that it's out of her jurisdiction and in the hands of the Regents, but she won't tell me where they've taken her." She laughed a little then, but the sound was hollow. "I think she's maybe afraid I'll go AWOL and try and break in to whatever maximum security facility they're hiding her in to rescue her." Steve quirked an eyebrow, lifting his bottle again.
"Are you saying you wouldn't?" Myka mimicked his motions, smiling as she brought the bottle to her lips.
"Not at all." His shoulders shifted with silent chuckles as he swallowed.
"You could get Claud to make you a new grappling hook." She tilted her head, thoughtfully.
"I could pilfer some 'helpful items' from Artie's bag of tricks." He bounced a little on his stool, excitement vibrating outward from the motion.
"I could run interference. You'd be in and out in no time." And now Myka's laughter was real. "See, I miss that." He lifted a finger from its place curled around the bottle neck and pointed towards her. "You, being happy. Really happy. We all do." His expression belied the timidity lying beneath his words and she smiled at him. He was a good guy, but she'd never really doubted that. "I think Claud misses her too." Myka nodded.
"H.G. might not have been around for that long in the grand scheme of things," she wrinkled her nose, "although maybe in the grand scheme of the Warehouse she was around for decades."
"Like dog years." He supplied, earning a smile.
"However you want to look at it, they became pretty close while H.G. was at the Warehouse." And then her smile lifted higher at the corners as some unseen memory flitted through her mind. "Inventor extraordinaries, partners in crime, and the reason for most of Artie's grey hairs." She leaned forward, close to him. "They almost took out the entire Tesla quadrant once."
"Artie have a heart attack?" Myka chuckled, curls bobbing as she shook her head.
"No, but H.G. nearly did when she realised the results of their experiment could have killed them both." She pursed her lips. "They mostly stuck to smaller stuff after that." Laughing quietly to himself, Steve lifted his bottle and drained the rest of his beer. And then in the ensuing silence the reason that they were even having this conversation in the first place swam back towards the forefront of her mind. "Do you think everyone else knows?" Steve's hand stalled mid-motion, the smooth bottom of the bottle hovering an inch or two above the counter. He lifted his eyebrows and turned his head slightly, as if he were trying to work out a kink in the muscles.
"I don't... know." He finished lamely and Myka narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing him inquisitively. After a moment of him pointedly avoiding eye contact, she spoke up.
"You're lying." Steve turned his head back towards her, an amused glint shining in bright blue orbs.
"That's kind of my line." The bartender appeared to collect his empty bottle and ask if he wanted another, but Steve politely declined and made brief small talk about how he had to work the next day and didn't want to show up at 'the office' hungover. When he eventually turned his attention back to Myka, she was regarding him with something that looked a lot like unease. It was more than enough to make him forgo further teasing. "Honestly?" Myka felt herself take a breath and hold it. "I'm pretty sure everyone who's ever been in a room with the two of your knows." And then the air exploded from her in an indignant gasp.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Her expression, slack-jawed and vaguely scandalised, made him chuckle and he shrugged lightly.
"Just that I was hearing about 'you and H.G.' before I'd met either of you." Her expression did not change. "Claudia talks about you guys like you're the most tragic romance since Romeo and Juliet. Though, a side note?" He held up a finger, forestalling any words that Myka might have been thinking coherently enough to push past her lips. Which was pretty much off the table for the present. "She's kinda violently opposed to anything other than a happy ending for you two. Pretty sure she has your kids named already though." And despite the trauma his little revelation had caused within her brain, Myka's lips curved at the mental image his words dredged up, and she quirked an eyebrow in silent question. "If it's a girl, Claudia. If it's a boy, Claude." She chuckled. "Pete doesn't really talk about you guys, like that, but I'm pretty sure he knows. Suspects, at least." At that, Myka lifted her hand to rub at the back of her neck. It wasn't that she was worried Pete would think less of her in any way just because H.G. was a woman. It was more that H.G. was, well, H.G., and there was an ugly history between her and Pete. "And Artie doesn't really talk about anything. He mostly just grunts at people." Myka dropped her hand, letting out a puff of air that lingered close to a laugh but couldn't quite reach it. "But it's not like anyone is going around shouting 'Myka Bering, Queen of the Lesbians' from the rooftops or anything."
"But I'm not." She stated emphatically, as her eyes grew wide again and he could see the panic starting to creep in. And some part of him remembered exactly what that felt like. Still, he remained quiet, knowing that this was something that she needed to talk about. She lifted her hands, movements a little more frantic than usual as she pushed unruly ringlets back behind her ears. "And I'm not just saying that I'm not because I really am but want you to think that I'm not, I'm saying it because I'm really not." He blinked at her, more surprised by the fact that he'd understood what she'd said than confused over her semi-ramble. But her somewhat frenzied moment of panic wasn't waning any, and he reached out to place a tentative hand against her knee.
"All right, easy." He gave it a gentle pat and flashed a warm smile that he hoped was also reassuring. "If you've been paying attention, I distinctly recall never once saying that you were." He shrugged, withdrawing his hand. "Some people don't like to label stuff. Folders, tin cans, sexuality."
"But it's not..." She trailed off, shaking her head as she dropped her gaze to stare at her hands. It was strange for her, to actually be talking about it. Stranger still that it was Steve who'd managed to draw this out of her. But maybe it kind of made sense. Maybe Steve was some kind of calming artifact, birthed from prolonged exposure to the ways of Zen, because for all her panicking and unease, she was actually quite rapidly mellowing out. She lifted her gaze to catch his eyes. "It's just Helena." She breathed, the low music almost carrying the admission away as she absently thumbed the neck of her beer bottle. "It's only ever been Helena." And there wasn't much that Steve could say to that. Not in the face of Myka's obvious sadness, because he could see the way she missed the inventor. It was written in lines across her face, in the dips and curves of her body language, and it tugged at him. Because he knew what it was like to miss someone. Someone who you thought might never come back. Someone who you knew wouldn't be coming back.
"No risk of you going on a mad womanising rampage then?" But if being partnered with Pete Lattimer and sharing a house with the man had taught him anything, it was that sometimes humour was the only way to battle through a moment of sadness that presented a very real danger of swallowing you whole. Myka peered at him curiously from beneath long eyelashes, swaying her head in the negative. "That's actually kind of a shame. Part of me was hoping to see Pete's reaction to that." She let out a short burst of laughter.
"I'm sure there are other ways to make his head explode." And like throwing dirt onto a fire, the last remaining vestiges of unease flickered and died. Myka finished the rest of her drink, watching Steve in her periphery is he basically stared at her, smile slowly growing into a full blown grin. "What?" She finally asked, and he let out a breathy laugh.
"Nothing, nothing." Myka pursed her lips at him. He laughed again. "It's just, not everyone hits a home run their first time out to bat." Green eyes blinked at him, and there was just something about her dumbfounded expression that only served to make him laugh all the more. And once the distinct feeling that she was being made fun of had passed, Myka found her voice again.
"A home run, huh?" She asked, mouth curving slowly into a smile that gave Steve the impression that it was entirely uncontrollable. Her face just seemed to light up with it. It warmed his heart. Reminded him that it was still beating.
"Oh yeah, big time." He mimed knocking one out of the park in a way that solidified the idea that he'd been spending too much time with Pete. "I mean, the whole 'good girl, bad girl' think is kind of clichéd, but since it's your first time onto the field I think I can probably excuse that." She made a face.
"Is there some kind of handbook for this I haven't been made privy to?" He let out a, playfully, derisive noise.
"You don't get the monthly memos?" And then shot her an overly exaggerated sideways glance that too closely resembled the looks she used to receive from the popular girls as she passed them in the hallways. "I guess you're really 'not'." But she wasn't a gawky teenager anymore, and he wasn't being mean just for the sake of it. She shoved him in the shoulder, wearing a grin as she did so.
"You know, one on one, you're kind of annoying." He beamed proudly at her.
"One on one, you're kind of abusive."
"Maybe you can Pete can start a club." She suggested, arching an eyebrow. He took a moment, seeming to seriously consider the notion.
"Maybe Claud could design a logo for us. I could get H.G. to write us up a pledge or something when she comes back." And although his intent couldn't have been further from it, his comment pulled fear and anxiety through her once more.
Because the fact of the matter was, Myka had no idea if H.G. was coming back.
Steve, far too intuitive for his own good, seemed to sense the sudden shift.
"Hey," he said, pulling her gaze back to where it had drifted from, "she'll be back. I know it." And he seemed so certain, something Myka was hesitant to be when it came to H.G.'s return. Because she wasn't sure she could handle it if the Regents denied her reinstatement. If they kept her locked away, again. Away from the Warehouse. Away from her.
"Did coming back from the dead give you the power of premonition?" She queried, dryly.
"No, but I can tell when people are lying." And she'd be the first to admit that Steve's skill was as useful as it was annoying to some. "And that night? When H.G. told you she'd be back? She wasn't."
And just like that, Myka had hope again. Something she'd grown to fear as of late, because hope so often led to a false sense of security, and if she simply could avoid it altogether then she couldn't be disappointed. But Steve, twin glimmers in his fetching baby-blues, he seemed to welcome hope with open arms.
Maybe she could learn a thing or two from the rookie of their team.
They sat and talked a while longer, a more generalised kind of chitchat concerning less heavy and potentially headache-inducing topics. They were, after all, still getting to know one another really. With each of them being partnered with different people and despite the fact that they lived under the same roof, Myka realised that there was still a lot about Steve that she didn't know. And she wanted to. Because as much as Pete or Claudia would be there for her in a heartbeat if they thought she needed them, Pete could barely make it through a normal conversation without making jokes, never mind anything resembling an emotional one, and Claudia's eyes got huge whenever a potentially volatile topic was broached. But Steve was different.
Maybe he'd sensed her dwindling spark and enthusiasm, not that she'd been doing a stellar job of hiding it, and had decided to do something about it. Maybe tonight was about Myka being forced to open up, instead of just slowly pulling parts of herself back from the surface.
Maybe tonight was about more than just having a beer with a friend.
And maybe that was exactly what Myka needed.