Oh-ho! Look at me writing things, even now that I'm back in college again! Yes, I know, I have a ton to update on - please don't hurt me - and I will, eventually, but I want to try my hand at some more Teslen fic that isn't so complicated to get down on paper. I just have a ot of feels about these two right now for some reasons.
Anyway, it's good to be back!
Staring hazily at the sky above as debris rained down about her and flames licked at her worn, tired, and broken body, Helen could only recall the tale of the phoenix. Born from the ashes, rising from the flames to start anew. Rebirth, it symbolized. A harsh analogy to what she'd just accomplished. Normally phoenixes didn't destroy their home, their friends – just themselves. Helen had succeeded in doing all three, a feat she hadn't expected. Everyone who had already given their lives – she'd been hoping to avoid it. And now, with her home sitting in ruin around her, burning, she couldn't help an overwhelming sense of nausea at the mere thought.
Then, a bit of freedom surged forward. Blinking up at the stars past the billowing smoke, she felt an odd sense of freedom. Knowing what awaited her below the surface, knowing that she was finally free in such a way that she could continue her work without the interference of the government, or anyone for that matter – it was rather brilliant. There was still quite a bit of work to be done, rebuilding, but the worst was over. Tomorrow, after they'd put out the fires, they would look for her body. The way Helen felt at the moment, she knew they were likely to find it. Everything hurt – even with Henry's vest, quite a bit of damage had been done.
But no. She was free now. She had, in fact, been reborn. Shed the old Helen Magnus and ushered in a new one who would be more vibrant and wonderful than the last – as cheesy as it sounded.
Digging her fingers into the debris around her, she began to attempt to squirm out from under the debris that covered her. Her legs and most of her lower torso had ended up buried beneath bits and pieces of brick, her left arm pinned by a twisted piece of metal. She let out a cry of pain at the movement – oh dear Lord it felt like everything in her entire body was broken – but pushed past it in an effort to free herself.
Sirens sounded in the distance, and Helen became aware of how little time she had. Nikola and Henry would be gone, as her instruction, off to finally solve the mystery she'd been hinting at the past few weeks, the entire reason she'd accomplished what she had that evening. She was alone to pull herself from the wreckage, alone to patch herself up. At least, she thought so. Hands that suddenly wrapped beneath her arms and pulled her free of the wreckage with ease startled her, and proved her previous thoughts mute.
Ignoring the protest of pain that slipped from Helen's lips, the large figure pulled her up into his arms and held her tight against him, cradling her much like a broken and fragile little doll. Helen's face turned and came into contact with blood stained fur. Pushing back the rustic stench, she curled her fingers within his fur as if to confirm that he was truly alive. A tiny wave of relief washed across her: he was alive. Not entirely okay, judging by the blood and the way he was walking, but he was alive which was far better than what she had expected.
Sirens, the crackling of fire and everything simply faded away and Helen finally closed her eyes. Exhaustion began to overwhelm her body, battling the pain she already felt. For the first time Helen truly felt her proper age, a 274-year-old with a bruised and battered body who was lucky to even still be alive.
Somewhere along the line, she gave in to her body's unyielding needs, falling into a restless sleep. She faded in and out of consciousness over a period of time, always waking to a dark room. A safe-house, she knew, while she healed long enough to be able to travel properly to the new Sanctuary. Her mind was filled with dreams of burning fires and the faces of her friends, replaced by images of the shining utopia she had worked so hard to create the past 113 years. A new time was coming – it had been time for a change. Her plans had worked, and hopefully it wouldn't all blow-up in her face now that it had come down to the end.
Her eyes snapped open in the middle of the night and she felt somewhat better. There was a dull ache at the back of her skill and she felt more than stiff, but the initial pain had disappeared. With a minor flinch, Helen pushed herself up and gazed around the dark bedroom. One of the apartments she kept on the outskirts of the city. There was tea sitting on the nightstand and she frowned, briefly, until she remembered her furry savior. The smallest, tiniest of smiles ghosted across her face before she pushed herself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom.
Against the harsh light, it took her a moment to recognize her own face. There was a large bruise coming down the side of her face and down onto her neck, and several small lacerations that had obviously been treated, cutting across her brow, cheek bones, and chin. Her hair hung about her face, torn loose from the knot she'd had it previously, the ends of the dark curls burned, singed off in the fires. Overall, she had a taste of ash in her mouth, and was aware of how she smelled of ash and smoke herself.
Helen stripped away the light clothes she'd been put in during her sleep, finding a bandaged torso that hid two broken ribs and a gash down her side. There were more cuts across her legs – her pants had protected her well enough. There were angry red splotches in various places as well, burns where the fires had managed to get to her beneath the thick layer of clothing. Yellowing bruises crossed everywhere, and judging by the way her ankle was giving twinges of pain, she had at least sprained it.
She looked and felt like hell. Well worth it, in the end. She would heal.
Peeling away bandages that had been so carefully and tenderly plastered onto her, she turned the shower on as hot as it would go and stepped in, letting the scalding hot water cascade across her skin and turning her entirely red. Wonderful water pressure caused it to beat against her back, working almost like a massage to alleviate the tension there. The soreness in her muscles began to disappear. She simply stood there, taking everything in again before she grabbed up a washcloth and began to scrub.
Methodically, she scrubbed away the ash and the dirt and the layer of grime that had accumulated across her body, rubbing until she was practically raw from head to toe. In a way, perhaps, she was washing away the events of the past and letting the weight of it all fully escape, washing down the drain with the rest of the water. Almost in an obsessed manner, she made sure to scrub every part of her body to make sure she got the last vestiges of everything away, letting it swirl around her feet in the bathtub and away from her, forever.
Helen lost track of time, but she didn't emerge until well after the water had run cold. She dried off and rebandaged herself with bandages from beneath the sink. Having also come across a pair of scissors, she took them to her hair and clipped away the burned ends. A bit shorter, but it would grow back.
Despite the silence she found in the living room after pulling on a spare set of clothes, her old friend was sitting awake by lamplight, reading, as if nothing had changed. He looked up from the old, worn book he'd been reading as Helen limped into the living room, lingering in the doorway. They stared at one another a long moment before she crossed to him and pulled him into the tightest hug she could imagine. The blood was gone from him and while he looked just as beaten as she did, he returned the hug gently, unwilling to hurt her injuries.
"Feeling better?" He inquired when she pulled away, blinking away tears that had threatened to fall. She'd been worried, so very worried for him when he'd been left at her gates. She'd wanted to tend to him, tell him everything was going to be all right, but she hadn't had the chance, or the time. Now, it seemed, it would be the other way around.
"Fine." Helen managed with a hoarse tone. She cleared her throat, shaking her head. "I'll live, I suppose. After everything." His hand came down on her shoulder and nudged her onto the old couch.
"Good." He disappeared into the tiny kitchen for a moment and returned with another mug of tea for her, and several saltine crackers, pushing them into her hands with a grunt. He was likely partially upset with her – she hadn't told him of her plan.
"Thank you, old friend. For everything."
"Don't do it again." He grumbled and the corners of her lips twitched very briefly, almost as if she wanted to smile.
"I'll do my best."
The two settled into relative silence. Words weren't really needed at that moment, and Helen was far too exhausted still to keep up with much conversation. She rapped her fingers silently against the side of her tea mug, staring at the closed blinds of the window for a while, then flipping aimlessly through old magazines scattered across the table.
Sometime, Helen had fallen asleep; she woke back up in the bed, curled beneath warm sheets with the steady sound of rain outside the window. She stared at the foggy glass, lying on her side in bed, dissolving into her thoughts again. It would be time to reveal her plans to the others, soon. Will would be last, of course – she'd left him a note on his phone about directions and a time before she'd graciously blown herself up. Henry, Nikola and Kate were likely already on the way there, escorted by friends she'd had at the ready. She wanted Will to have the chance to change his mind, if he wanted, about working for her. After they had very nearly come to proper blows several times over the past few months, Helen thought it would be a good idea to let him revaluate himself.
Though she had quite a bit of faith he would return to them in the end.
Sighing, Helen stretched, testing out limbs and injuries. The pain was dull, but still there – nothing she couldn't push past, however. There was work that needed to be done and she couldn't be hindered. Tossing aside blankets, she moved to climb out of bed to begin her day.
However, a clattering outside the door caught her attention. She paused, sitting on the edge of the bed as she listened to quiet, temperamental voices. Judging by the tone that she knew wasn't deep enough to be the Big Guy's –
"- I don't care, I'm speaking with her now - !"
The door flung open and there stood a rather livid looking Nikola Tesla. Dear Lord. She'd been hoping to have a few days more before confronting him, but apparently he'd found her and was determined to confront her now.
"It's all right." Helen said quietly to her old friend, who lingered in the doorway, glaring at the back of Nikola's head. He gave a low growl, but nonetheless respected Helen's wishes, pulling the door shut as he headed back out into the living room.
"Nikola. I -."
"Don't." He cut across her, raising a hand to silence her as he drew closer, pinching the bridge of his nose. "How dare you, Helen. How dare you go and pull something like this without informing anyone as to the slightest notion of your plans. And then try to trick me and the others during all those years, into designing this paradise that you, again, never told anyone about? You've done quite a many things in the past, Helen, but this one absolutely tops them all."
"Are you done?" She inquired quietly, remaining on the edge of the bed as he had taken up pacing in front of her. He stopped, staring at her a long moment. Helen could see the hurt on his face, mingled with several other emotions including – surprisingly – fear. It confused her a moment, until she realized he was yelling at her because he'd been afraid to find her dead.
"No, I'm not. I have hundreds of things I could scream at you right now, Helen, but your walking carpet is already about to throw me out so I'll save most of it until we both have our own space to slam doors at one another." Nikola muttered darkly. "You can't keep shutting everyone out, Helen. We could have helped you. Instead you go and blow yourself up, don't tell anyone, and leave us to dig through the debris to find your bruised and burned body."
"I did what I had to do." She replied evenly. "It was necessary -."
"Yes, yes, it was necessary and needed for the abnormals to protect them as you've always done, ready to give your life for them, but have you ever stopped for one rational moment to consider what it does to everyone else in your life? Henry thinks he's lost his mother again. Freelander hasn't spoken in two days, Dr. Expendable is God knows where and I -." He paused, stopping himself. He glared at the wall a moment before turning his gaze on her.
"You never stop to think about the consequences of your actions on anyone else, Helen." His voice had dropped to a quieter tone. "You wrap yourself up into these elaborate plans and don't let anyone in to help you because God forbid anyone but yourself be hurt. I'm so sick of you playing martyr and worrying if the woman I love is alive or not."
Helen paused, folding her hands in her lap and staring down into them for a long moment. His last comment had struck another nerve.
"After everything, I think you'd at least trust my reasoning, Nikola." She began, lifting her head to meet his gaze. "I would have told you if I could have trusted any of you, but with the government prying so deeply I didn't know who I could trust and who I couldn't. It was a safety issue. I was prepared to die the other night, Nikola. I was prepared to sacrifice myself for my work in the same fashion that most of our friends and family already have. That doesn't give you the right to berate me."
"As the only other person left alive from our era and your best friend – if that even still holds true – I should think I'm well within rights to look after your well-being, especially if what you're doing is a completely idiotic and impossible scheme that will – and should have – gotten you killed." Nikola snapped back. "I thought you were dead, Helen, and as much as I hate to admit it with the risk of sounding far too selfish, do you know how much it scared me?"
She sighed heavily, pushing herself off the edge of the bed into a standing position, flinching when her fractured ribs gave protest. Biting her tongue a moment, she took the three limping steps it took to cross to Nikola, reaching for his hands with her own.
"Nikola, look at me." She reached up with a hand and turned his head forcefully so that he was made to meet her gaze. He'd never been as good as guarding emotions as she herself had been, so seeing through the front he was trying to put on was almost like reading an open book. Everything was reflected in his eyes, at least, the fear and hurt and anger he held toward or for her in that moment.
"I am very much alive, and very much standing in front of you." She began, tracing circles on the back of his hand. "I should think, for the moment, that's all that matters. You can rest easy that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon as well. Berate me all you want later, once we're home."
He frowned, briefly and Helen shook her head.
"For what it's worth, I am sorry. Perhaps I should have entrusted you with this, but I needed to do it myself for the most part because their fight was with me, not with any of you. You didn't deserve to be involved and have your lives ruined as well – and they needed to think me dead. It was the only way I knew how."
"Helen Magnus – never doing things half-assed, are you? Can't just try jumping off a bridge or rooftop like normal people, but you have to blow up an entire building with you." Nikola muttered after a moment and she gave the weakest of smile. "I'm still very angry with you, Helen. Nothing you say will change that fact at the moment. You still -."
Helen had silenced him by capturing his lips with her own, gently and for only a lingering moment. He had a look of utter confusion on his face when she drew away.
"Stop talking, Nikola. It's not important anymore."
He pressed his forehead against her own and she closed her eyes, letting his breath fan across her face. He did have several points, ones she would listen to, eventually. Just not now. There was likely to be all sorts of backlash from her team members – she had expected it if she'd survived the explosion.
"If you ever do that again," Nikola said, causing her to open her eyes to meet his gaze. "I will kill you myself."
Helen laughed then, at first a tiny little chuckle but it developed into soft laughter, a hand coming to attempt and stifle it. Her body hadn't had the chance to give an emotional response to anything in what? Two days? And it was reacting accordingly – the next thing she knew, hot tears were rolling down her face and she had buried her face into Nikola's chest, clinging onto him for dear life as heavy sobs shook her frame. Heaving to catch her breath, she trembled, everything at once coming to the surface. All her loss, her pain, and suffering – everything that had happened in the past few weeks, coming to an overwhelming peak that she wasn't able to stop from creeping up on her.
She wasn't sure how long she stood there in his embrace, shaking and crying, but not once did Nikola seem to complain, or even mind holding her while she had her little emotional meltdown. He'd even guided her back to the bed to at least sit when her knees had started to give out. Somewhere in the time frame he'd simply said to hell with it all and pulled her down further onto the bed, forcing her beneath sheets and blankets and wrapping her in a tight embrace – it was to this she woke to a few hours later, face pressed in his chest, his arms holding her impossibly close.
"Better?" He inquired quietly as she shifted, blinking, rubbing at her reddened face. It took her a moment to fight off the last bits of sleep.
"I'm sorry." She replied quietly. "I shouldn't have done that."
"You had every right to." He replied, brushing a kiss to the top of her head as his grip slackened, obviously offering her a way out if she wanted it. Boldly, Helen remained where she was for the most part, shifting only so that there wasn't pressure on her ribs and her arm wasn't going to sleep.
"I'm not supposed to be this big of a wreck."
"We all have our days. After what you've accomplished, Helen, I should think you're allowed to have one, if not several, of those days. I think you're just worried that you cried in front of me."
"That isn't the problem." Helen muttered, though it partially was. She never let her guard down, and to see her cry was a rare thing indeed. "I just – I really don't know what to feel right now. Everything is numb."
"The furry carpet did come in and give you some painkillers. Might be that." He offered.
"You know what I mean, Nikola. Emotionally numb. Drained, even, I imagine. I don't know how else to describe it."
"Feeling will come back, Helen. Slowly, but surely. You've had a lot on your plate recently and while I am still very angry with you, understand that I'm here to help. Whatever you need, it's yours."
She lifted her gaze to him, curiously. "Not going to go running off across the world in search of more ways to resurrect your race?" Helen cocked an eyebrow at him, daringly. He chuckled and pulled her closer, and for the first time Helen noticed how extremely warm he was.
"I don't think so. I've got a reason to stick around this time for a while, I imagine. I hear there's a lovely new wine cellar calling my name at this new place of yours. All sorts of new toys in the labs for me to play with, too. A woman after my own heart, as always." He grinned. She wormed a hand out from beneath her and rested it against Nikola's chest, over his heart.
"Well, I do need someone to deal with fluctuating energy problems and to develop a new energy source . . . ." She trailed off. "As long as you don't have too many demands, I might be able to hire you for a short period . . . ."
"Making excuses, are we?"
"Perhaps I might keep you around for other reasons, as well. Your cooking, for instance. Certainly not your nagging sarcasm, though."
"You love it."
"I love you."
He blinked at her, as if he couldn't quite decipher if she'd actually said the words he'd been throwing at her so meaningfully for a while now. The expression on his face was endearing, to say the least, and it earned him a half smile from Helen. She tilted her head up and kissed him briefly before settling back into the crook of his arm.
"Now? Now you're never getting rid of me."
"Wasn't trying to." She gave a bit of a grin herself that he kissed away for a lingering moment, leaving her breathless. Bloody vampire. "Especially if you're going to do that quite often."
"Every chance I get." He replied. "Shall we go home?"
Helen smiled, genuinely and quite brightly for the first time in several days. "Home sounds lovely."
Without releasing her, he tugged her up into a sitting position. "Good. Because I already sent the Big Guy packing. You owe me a few more explanations, though, eventually."
"In time. When my head stops spinning and I can breathe properly." Helen replied, climbing to her feet and taking his hand, fingers curled about his. It felt almost childish, to be holding hands, but Helen reveled in the fact that she was able to now, without question. "We've a lot of work to get done."
"Tomorrow." Nikola said. "Today and the rest of the evening will be devoted to me giving you a bit of TLC. No offense, but you look a bit like hell – beautiful, but far too beat up for my liking." Back to his usual self, it seemed. Helen chuckled softly.
"Whatever you say, Nikola. But I won't put up with your fussing for long."
"You will once you see what I have in mind for you." He grinned wickedly. "You've been alone for the past 113 years, Helen. Let someone else take care of you for once instead of you trying to care for the world. Seeing as I've finally gotten in good graces – hopefully permanently – with you, I intend to be the one to do it."
"It's literally been what? Five minutes? And you're already starting on that?"
"Making up for lost time and all." He said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. She shook her head, tugging on his hand.
"Come along, my impossible vampire. We're going home."