Title: And If You're Still Breathing (You're The Lucky One)
Summary: You buy the Philodendron because the B&B feels too empty. Post season 4 finale.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: So, I wrote this because I've been suffering from major writers block and haven't managed to get anything down in a very long time. As a result, this is not all that great.
A/N 2: Also this is un-beta'd so all mistakes are mine.
And If You're Still Breathing (You're the Lucky One)
i. Shadows settle on the place, that you left.
Our minds are troubled by the emptiness
You buy the Philodendron because the B&B feels too empty.
It looks plain, in its cream pot beside the front door with its green leaves reaching for the light spilling from the window behind it. The man who runs the garden nursery in town had suggested it after you wandered in on a whim even though you were do back at the Warehouse but the idea of going there had seemed just a little too daunting at that moment.
He had called the plant durable and easy to care for but you bought it because its leaves were shaped like hearts. Because it was alive and growing and the B&B had become vacant and barren . A place where things and people have stopped growing. A place that lost its soul.
The plant doesn't stand a chance.
You remember to water it exactly once but then there's a series of artifact pings that are nothing but bad luck. Jinks gets turned into a child in Florida, Pete gets shrunk in Dallas and you go blind in Rhode Island.
When things finally settle, weeks have passed and as the front door shuts hollowly behind you, your arm brushes against drooping, brown leaves.
You blink at the dried up foliage just as booted feet descend the stairs and you turn to look up at Helena. She smiles at you, slow and gentle, like she might be happy to see you and you touch your neck absently, returning the tentative smile.
"You've returned." Helena greets and you nod, trying not to waver on your tired legs. "Triumphant I assume. You are rarely anything but."
"You could say that." You wouldn't though. Because triumph would infer winning when you've done nothing but lose lately.
"Where are you going?" You ask quietly and Helena sighs as she comes to stop in front of you, allowing you plenty of personal space that you don't exactly want. Not when she's standing in front of you, solid, real, warm and alive but your legs are too heavy to carry you into her familiar orbit so all you can do is stare.
"Oh, you know, duty calls." She murmurs, zipping her jacket up and tugging her hair free of her collar with a graceful flip of her wrist. "Claudia's requested my presence at the Warehouse."
"Yeah, sure." You nod, disappointment heavy on the top of your spine while dried, dead, leaves claw at your elbow as if begging for your attention. "Can you do me a favor?"
"Anything." She answers swiftly and you gaze at her for a moment as she steps hesitantly closer. "What is it?"
You want her to just look at you, to stand too close to you and brush the back of her fingers against yours just so you can focus on the electricity you know her skin on yours would cause instead of the way the important things in your world are losing life, becoming desiccated and gnarled around you.
"Can you make sure Claudia eats something? Something with vegetables?" You wonder instead because its what you should say and Helena's mouth, perfect and pretty, lifts into a smile. "She hasn't really been taking care of herself."
"Of course, darling." She says and her voice prickles your skin. "Anything else?"
"Have you seen Pete around? I need him to-"
"Myka, Pete is gone." She cuts you off very carefully and you blink at her uncomprehendingly.
"What?" You blurt as something hard and painful nudges its way behind your ribs. "Where did he…"
"I'm not sure. He took leave yesterday with a promise to return soon." she says and you breathe slowly as the room tilts just a little, center shifting suddenly. "Are you okay?"
Things shift, snap back to position almost audibly as your spine straightens. "I'm fine. I'm fine."
Helena nods tentatively and then you move away from the door so Helena can pull it open and reveal the cloudy, cold night you've just escaped. "Goodnight Myka"
She's gone and then its only you inside the empty bed and breakfast.
ii. And if you're still breathing, you're the lucky ones.
'Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.
You buy a Pepromia and then ingest a concerning amount of neutralizer.
The two are not related.
Its an accident, too much energy building up in the Warehouse and you being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Always the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jean-Gaspard Deburau's glove brushes against your shoulder as it shoots off of its shelf and then there's a spike of energy that sets off the Warehouse sensors which causes it to rain neutralizer.
Long story short, you nearly drown in a invisible box full of neutralizer thanks to the magical gloves of history's greatest mime.
You watch the water ripple around your knees, deep green and sparkling. You know it's the neutralizer screwing up your head, ingesting it causes hallucinations that take days to fade and you're not looking forward to it.
'I told you not to eat that. You guys never listen.' Artie's voice rings sudden and clear, like he's on the other side of the bathroom door.
"It wasn't my fault." you murmur before you realize his voice is only in your head.
"Myka?" Helena's voice startles you a little and you sit up in the bathtub, tuck your knees to your chest and watch the wallpaper dance absently. "Do you need me, Myka?"
"Are you really there?" You call and there's silence that makes you think its just another hallucination. "You can come in but only if you're really there."
The door rattles and your heels slip against the bottom of tub as Helena slips into the bathroom and you press your lips against the wet skin of your knees.
"I can assure you that I am truly present." Helena greets, towels stacked in her arms and when she sets them down they groan and growl and try to run away. You shake your head hard, once, and everything settles.
"That's not very reassuring coming from you." You mutter against your knees, turning away from Helena's dark, lovely eyes and focusing on the steam rising from the green water like desperate, clawing, ghostly hands.
"How're you feeling." Helena asks, tugging your attention back to her and you sigh because she's awful and she's beautiful and the noise that leaves you sounds like dragging chains.
"I…weird." You say eloquently, dragging your gaze over her concerned expression, its becoming just as dauntingly familiar as the ever growing space between the two of you. "Like my body is made out of rusted metal. My insides too…my heart feels like its creaking…is that- I know it's the goo but…"
"Claudia isn't sure, exactly, how long you will be subjected to these hallucinations but rest assured they're not permanent." Helena says, voice quiet with sympathy. "She suggested that you 'enjoy the ride'."
You swallow hard, throat burning thanks to Claudia's fingers jamming their way down your throat earlier in a very successful endeavor to get you to purge some of the neutralizer you swallowed, and watch your hand as it drifts across the surface of the water. Your fingers carve through the water, leaving trails of silver and gold in their wake.
You glance at Helena again, words perched on your tongue but they tumble away because Helena's standing in front of you stark naked and you have no idea when she got that way. You close your eyes tightly, a blush scorching across your face and when you lift your hand from the water to press against your neck, the droplets falling from your skin sound like breaking glass.
"Darling, what're you seeing?" Helena asks quietly and you laugh, slightly hysterical.
"Uhm…You. Naked." You clear your throat. "Very naked…sorry."
"Its quite alright. It only seems fair considering the view I'm currently being afforded." She chuckles in a way that sounds like static when it reaches your ear and you nod, making sure your breast aren't visible. "Here, I've brought you towels. Lets get you out of there and into bed to sleep some of this away."
"Yeah. Okay." You sigh but when you lift your eyes Helena is pointing a gun at you, sleek and black in her hands and your heart lurches while your muscles tighten. "Helena?"
"What is it, Myka?" She wonders and your eyes have gone wide, your chest flexing with tense breaths. "What?"
"You're not holding a gun right now, are you?" You croak, eyeing the barrel of the weapon in her pale hands. It looks real and staring down the nose feels real. "You're not holding a gun on me right now, right?"
"Myka, no. Whatever you're seeing is your mind playing tricks on you." She says gentle and comforting while she cocks her gun.
This isn't real. It can't be. You've been here before and you've been passed this and this has to be your bent, toxic mind. "Put whatever you're holding down and get out. I-I'm sorry. I just…"
Helena does it, slow and easy and you watch her set the pistol on the countertop but when her hand pulls back there's only a slightly rumpled towel in the guns place. "It's perfectly fine, Darling. Will you be okay to get to bed?"
"I'll be fine. I'll be fine." You whisper and Helena gives you a smile, weak and reluctant, before slipping away.
You make it back to your room with little incident, dressed in heavy pajamas because the B&B is always so cold now.
'What is this?' You whirl around to find Leena standing in the middle of your room, bright smile on her face and blood oozing from the gunshot wound in her head while she gestures at the potted plant on your dresser.
"It's-it's a Pepromia." You croak, watching her blood drip onto the hardwood floor. It isn't real, she isn't real because she's dead and you swallow against the wave of grief that rushes over you.
'Trying to liven the place up? I guess it has been a little dead lately.' she says so nice and friendly and you ignore the blinding tears as you stalk across the room and pick up the stupid plant, smashing it against the wall with a wail.
When you whirl around, Leena is gone. Is still gone.
'Hey, Bunny.' whispers in your ear.
iii. We are the reckless,
We are the wild youth
Chasing visions of our futures
One day we'll reveal the truth
Claudia has pulled nearly every leaf from the Chinese Evergreen you put in .
The evidence is in neat little piles around Artie's desk where Claudia is asleep face down. She spends too many hours here. You try to help but Claudia understands Artie and his systematic chaos far better than you ever could. Somehow that stings. If you'd ever admit it, a lot of things about Artie and Claudia's relationship stung you but it doesn't mater now. It doesn't…it just doesn't….
Besides, it makes you feel better to know that she's closed up in the Warehouse instead of out on missions where anything, things you can't control, could happen to her.
Though uncontrollable things happen here an awful lot too.
"Claude." You sigh, dropping into a crouch beside her chair and shaking her just a little. She mutters and groans before opening tired, old eyes and smiling weakly.
"I fell asleep, didn't I." She whispers and you nod, brush your fingers through her hair and wonder how badly the Warehouse has damaged an already broken girl. You think of Claudia and sharp metal sliding into Artie's chest even as he kissed her forehead.
"You did." You sigh and Claudia sits up like her body is made of creaking, old bones and she holds still when you peel a Post-It note from her cheek. She blinks at you for a moment, looking simultaneously young and so weathered. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" She says quickly and you shrug, smoothing the Post-It to the desk.
"Everything." You say and you mean for what happened and how its seeping the youth from her.
"Well you didn't do everything so you shouldn't apologize for it." She says and you laugh a little and nod. "Now, if you don't mind I'm gonna hit the sack."
"I'll hold down the fort." You say and when she stands, you slide into her chair, leaning back because your shoulders always feel so heavy now.
You watch her head for the umbilicus instead of Artie's old hidden away bedroom but she hesitates. "Hey, can I ask you a question?"
"Do you ever dream about…ya know, what happened?" She asks and you nod because you don't really dream about anything else. "I see Lena sometimes. It's kinda nice."
With that she's gone and you watch her go. You lean back in the chair, spinning idly while you imagine Claudia walking away forever. Imagine her blossoming outside of the Warehouse's clutches.
The umbilicus opens again and you're all ready to shoo Claudia away again but you twist to find Helena watching you as the door slides shut behind her.
She looks beautiful, hands playing in her hair and there's an instant urge to touch her skin because you're irrationally, or maybe completely rationally, terrified that your hands will slip so easily through her.
"Care for some company?" She says softly but before you can answer the computer pings over your shoulder and Helena remains out of reach.
iv. Setting fire to our insides for fun,
To distract our hearts from ever missing them.
But I'm forever missing him
The bromeliad you bring home looks the way you feel. The hot, angry blossom tucked between unassuming green leaves, is familiar.
"I want you to come home." Your father's voice is stern but sincere and you could… You could just pack up your things and run away again because the home you'd forged here has somehow disintegrated around you and there's a part of you that wants to gather up what's left and carry them away.
But Artie would still be gone and Leena would still be dead and Helena would still be alive.
"I'm-I'm okay." You say softly into the phone receiver where its tucked against your shoulders, wrapping the corkscrew cord around your arm over and over and over until its too tight at your wrist. The kitchen is bright, sunlight pouring through the windows in sharp slices that hurts your eyes and make your skin to warm.
"Myka." He doesn't believe you, how could he? He was the one you called after the world wide pandemic was handled, after the funeral, after the decisions, when Pete was nowhere to be found and Steve had his hands full desperately trying to hold the soft, broken pieces of Claudia in place. Your father had only murmured he loved you over and over when all you could do was cry into the phone. "You sound broken."
"Dad." You sigh, freeing your hand and tracing the spiraled indents left in your forearm. "I can't come home right now"
"That place, your job, is hurting you, Myka." He says like he knows and you finger the indentations in your skin before using your entire hand to try to massage them away. "Your mother is scared."
"Tell mom I'm fine." You whisper, closing your eyes tightly.
"I'm scared." He says and you blink your eyes open, staring at the dust particles rising and falling in the rays of light like magic. There's a long stretch of silence, your breathing loud and slow and syncing with your fathers. You reach out to touch the bromeliad, running your fingers over the smooth leaves before trailing up to the sharp, red flower.
The front door opens suddenly and your eyes dart towards the hall just in time to see Pete walk into the foyer.
"Dad, I have to go. I love you."
"Were not done discussing this but I love you so much." He says and you linger to soak in his words before hanging up gently.
You watch Pete hang his coat and wander into the kitchen, meeting your gaze timidly, guiltily.
"Where'd the ugly plant come from?" He asks, too awkward and too loud and bitterness surges in an angry wave inside of you.
"How was the trip?" You say instead, pressing your palm to the indents still in your arm and rubbing.
"It was good, ya know. I just really needed some time to myself. To get my head straight with everything that's happened." He says and you look at him, really look at him, and he does look better than when he disappeared with little more than a wave of his hand and a promise to be back soon.
You're instantly resentful. Its an ugly feeling but that doesn't stop it from wrapping around the heart of you and squeezing. You should be happy that he's feeling better but he left you here, under the rubble and that thought hurts you. Makes you want to hurt him.
"Couldn't get your head straight here?" You wonder airily, a mean smile twisting your mouth and you let it. And you ran away once but you disappeared because you thought you were a liability to their safety. You would never leave them now when they were broken and drowning and and and…
"Myka." He tries, eyes gentle and you've missed him so, so much but the places inside of you that are usually so soft for him are callous and angry now.
"You just left me here, Pete." You say, voice going rough with the strain of forcing down malicious emotions. "You just left me here to hold together all the pieces with just two hands and-and…"
"Mykes." He tries, reaching out for you and you shake your head. Whatever words he intends to say are lost in the whisper of air as you brush past him and head for the stairs.
Halfway up you hear things crashing to the kitchen floor, a grunt of effort and cursing, the scream of chairs on linoleum and metal being forced to the ground, glass breaking and a clay planter shattering.
I've lost it all, I'm just a silhouette
My eyes are damp from the words you left,Ringing in my head, when you broke my chest
"What-" She pauses cautiously, stepping into your room gingerly. Like she knows. Like she knows that in this moment whatever remnants of strength you'd managed to jury-rig has left and you've tipped over the edge and now you're flailing. "What's wrong?"
"The plants keep dying." You swallow thickly, squeeze your eyes shut against the sharp surge of emotion battering its way up your throat. And this isn't about the stupid house plants that are committing suicide under your care if they're not being murdered first. It's about the gaping, aching loss that keeps you up all night and the static confusion constantly droning in your ears.
"Oh Darling," Helena coos, stepping closer before settling beside you on the side of the bed. You stare at Pete the Ferret while he licks noisily at his water bottle as you attempt to clamp down on your churning emotions. "House plants are notoriously finicky things."
"I miss Leena." You choke out suddenly, words clawing at your vocal chords and just like that the barrier is broken and tears are scalding your eyes while you stare at your pet. "I've thought about us loosing each other. A-about going on without Jinks or Artie or Claudia or-or Pete…I've even thought about them going on without me. But I never…God, it never even occurred to me that we could loose Leena and we did. We did in the worst possible way and-and I don't…I just miss her so much. And -and Artie is gone and we don't even know if he's coming back because…because he killed Leena."
There's a swell of angry nausea that trails your words that threatens to drown you because its awful and it's the truth and Leena is dead and Artie is…God, Artie is a murderer.
Helena isn't speaking, just watching you carefully while the walls you've been holding up with tired arms burn to ash and float away. Tears are hot on your cheeks and you wipe at your face roughly.
"Claudia looks so old now and she's just a kid, ya know, but she looks…she looks." You trail off into nothing, rubbing a fist against your wet eyes while emotions spin haphazardly behind your ribs.
You drop your head into your hands because the sudden gush of emotion is leaving you dizzy and you try to breathe through the tightness in your chest. "I miss Pete. He looks so lost all of the time now and he-he is lost and I'm so mad at him...and we're not on the same page. Hell, we're not even in the same book and I know I can't do this without him but he's making me..."
"And you." You whisper, threading your fingers through your hair, tugging too hard. "You're alive and-and real and all I want to do is touch you. To-to make sure you're here because I'm terrified of how easily you could not be here anymore. Because I know how easily you could not be here again."
"I'm here." Helena says softly and then her hand is stroking down the curve of your shoulders as your hands fall limply to your thighs, fingertips dragging over coiled muscles. "I'm here and I've no intention of leaving."
You nod absently as her words float over you, digging your fingernails into the denim stretched across your knees and pressing the toes of your sneakers firmly against the hardwood.
"Myka, do you understand me?" She demands fiercer this time and you blink down at the hand clasped around yours before lifting your eyes to hers. "Do you?"
"I have so much stuff I want to say to you." You whisper, gazing at her. "It just hasn't been the right time."
"Myka." She murmurs, squeezing your fingers tightly, forcing blood to the tips.
"But then again, its never been the right time for us." You continue quietly, meeting her dark eyes with a wry, tearful smile.
"If I've learned anything from my time spent incarcerated in various prisons, it is that time is nothing if not fleeting. One must make time where there is none." Helena whispers and you laugh pathetically even as her thumb rubs over your knuckles earnestly. "I made a mistake by attempting to allow you space to grieve. I didn't want to overwhelm you."
"Overwhelm me? I don't need space, Helena. I need an anchor." You admit dismally. "My family is-is hurting and dying and somehow…somehow you…the one thing I've wanted more than anything for so, so long… you're back and real but still out of reach."
Your head is throbbing and emotion has thickened your blood, made it boiling hot so just being hurts in this moment.
"I'm sorry." Helena breathes after a moment and you close your gritty, dry eyes because it feels like Helena is always apologizing. "Myka, I am so very sorry. You have no idea."
Her voice is heavy in the air, seeming to weigh down every molecule you're breathing in with words that are sincere and profound and beyond this moment now with you drowning in your emotion and Helena sinking with you, your hand clasped in hers so you don't have to go alone.
if you're in love, then you are the lucky one.
The sun is warm on your back even through the cotton of your shirt and your jeans are riding low on your waist but you don't move because the grass tickling the arm tucked under your head and your stomach where your shirt has inched upwards, is alive and growing and so is Helena where she's stretched out beside you.
Her eyes are closed, face upturned like the sun is giving her life and your heart is beating so hard and so slow. Your fingers skim over the soft crook of her elbow, right beneath the neat cuff of her blouse sleeve, and goosebumps rise proudly at your touch. You do it again and watch her fingers curl towards her palm at the feeling.
It's quiet out here, splayed in the backyard like two school kids. It's quiet and animated with lush green grass and thriving bushes and brave vines wrapping themselves along the very structure of the bed and breakfast.
Helena turns her head then, white fluff of dandelion caught in the dark waves of her hair. "How're you feeling?"
You know how you will feel when its time for you and Helena to climb to your feet and dust off clinging blades of grass. Angry and hurt. Desperate and useless. But right now, tracing the blue veins in Helena's forearm, you feel broken and sad and in love.
"I'm okay." you murmur, feeling her pulse against the pad of your middle finger. "I'm okay."