Disclaimer: Nothing is my own. Even these words belong, in part, to Google Docs.
Author's Note: Firstly, thank you guys so much for all the reviews, I really appreciate every single one of them. Keep them coming :D This one has taken me a while. There was more to it but I had to make a decision split it down the middle, hopefully that means you'll see an update soon. Thanks again to my beta Sonia, I know I made this one tough and if there are any mistakes, they're all mine. I have taken a few liberties, I'm sure someone will spot them. Enter HG Wells.
'But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm.'
Hot, hot, smoke, fire? Where's the fire? I took my hands off the steering wheel to try and clear my field of vision... Wait...I took my hands off the steering wheel?! What steering wheel?! I was in a car, I was driving a car, the car that I was driving was moving and I was in it. None of this can be good. I fumbled for the steering wheel and gripped it tight as soon as my hands found purchase. With a firm foot to the brake the car careered to a halt, throwing me forward until I was a shaken but unhurt mess on the dash, which is where I stayed for a moment, resting my head on the warm faux leather that had been warmed by the Dakota sun. I gave myself a few moments to regain my composure, steady my breathing. The last thing I had remembered of this day was getting in my car after a day at the office. Of course I should have been prepared for something like this. You're an idiot Myka.
'Myka, are you quite alright?' My stomach flip-flopped at the sound, a sound I hadn't heard for three years, the sound of Helena's voice. Her dulcet tones. My heart raced as my face began to flush and my skin began to prickle. There was a slight panic in Helena's voice however, one usually reserved for whenever I was in a life threatening situation, or whenever she had a gun held to my head.
The car door opened, but I kept my head down. I'd waited three years for this moment and I was wholly unprepared. I wasn't expecting it so soon. I'd had a plan, a good plan and a plan which had now been thrown unceremoniously out of the window. It was on to Plan B, not that there'd been one. I took a couple of steadying breaths. This was after all what I had wanted.
'Myka?' She enquired again, her tone hitching. I felt soft fingertips graze my chin and I froze. My thinking stopped, my breathing stopped, I even think even my heart may have stopped beating momentarily as once again I got to feel Helena Wells' soft, porcelain skin upon my own. I felt my lips curl into a smile. This was exactly what I wanted, I should embraced it, not be petrified of it until my 22 hours and 19 minutes are up.
The fingers came round to cradle my far cheek in her palm, and, ever so gently, she turned my face to hers. My green eyes met the dark orbs of HG Wells, criminal mastermind, warehouse agent extraordinaire and literary genius. She was beautiful. A smile began to pull at the corners of my mouth, my heart beat out of my chest. A 'Hey,' was all I could muster, a goofy grin on my face, my cheeks red. I was a lovestruck teenager all over again.
'Hello,' she said with a curious smile, her black eyes dancing, no longer with concern but mild amusement. 'What happened?'
I had to think quickly, but I had been caught for too long in those eyes, 'Er...' Think Myka, think. 'Something ran out in front of the car...' I shook my head as if trying to clear the cobwebs, playing for time.
'Myka, are you okay?' Her voice turned to concern again as her thumb soothed softly across my hot cheek, her cool hands calming the skin there. I worked hard to contain a shiver that was threatening to break across my body. This was the most intimate I'd been with someone since, well, since before the incident in Toronto which had been a good three months prior to this. It had been Valentine's Day and Matthew had insisted we do the whole shebang. I was on a plane for Ontario before he'd even woken up. Since then, it had been all quiet on the western front.
I gave a more certain smile this time and nodded my reassurance. 'Yeah, I'm fine,' I turned my palms out to HG, and gave a gawky shrug, 'Look, unscathed.'
'Good,' and she relaxed. 'I was worried that y...' Helena paused, a small frown creasing her brow. Her eyes quickly did a once over the interior of my car. 'Have you been smoking in here?'
Shit, the smoke! The time machine smoke! 'What?! Smoking? No! I don't... do that, it's bad for... car interiors.'
That seemed to do nothing for the frown adorning HG's forehead but she shook it off. 'Right. So everything's fine. You're fine?'
'Yeah, I'm just,' I fell silent for a moment and took her in, the raven haired beauty finally in front of me once again. Her snow white skin, her freckle dusted neck, the curve of her breast in one of her famous waistcoats, something I had taken to wearing over the last few years, something that hadn't gone unnoticed at the Warehouse. Tweed today, I rather liked it, very British, very Helena. She was right in front of me, so close, I wanted to reach out and touch, take what I'd been missing these last few years, snake my hands round her waist and - 'It's good to see you,' I finally spoke, earnestly. And it was. It was beyond good, it was great, fantastic, transcendent. Utter wonderment. And at the same time, simply crushing. I didn't have her back, not yet and seeing her now didn't guarantee anything.
'It's a pleasure darling, and it is always good to see me. A feast for the eyes no less. But we said our goodbyes just a moment ago Myka.' Almost as if with a life of their own, Helena's fingers, which were only moments ago burning trails across my cheek, were now seeking the soft skin behind my ear and then the thick brown curls that laid beyond.
I felt a hot blush begin to spread across my cheeks like wildfire. I needed to get a bearing on the situation, and fast. Clearing my throat, I attempted to regain some lucidity upon the situation. 'Did I say where I was heading?' I mustered.
HG shrugged, not tearing her eyes from mine and answered flippantly, 'Home I believe'.
'Oh,' I shook my head, doing my best dazed and confused impression, and managed to escape Helena's dark, consuming eyes, although she still had purchase with her fingertips entangled in my hair. 'And where are you going?'
'The Bed and Breakfast, why?' I couldn't lose Helena. I had to stay with her until I knew how to get her back.
My hand found Helena's. 'The B and B's a little closer,' I smiled, 'I'm actually not feeling all that hot -'
'Oh, well-' I could see her eyes widen, colour rise in her cheeks. Helena had gone from poised to concerned and flustered in naught point six seconds. I was going to get my way.
'Do you think I could crash with you,' I cut in, 'Just for a little while? As soon as I get home it'll be all go you know? Last minute preparations, being sociable with Matthew's parents, dealing with vegetarians I hadn't anticipated. I'm not sure if can. I just need to rest my head, just for a little while-,'
'Of course,' Two hands were now helping me from my car and leading me towards another. 'I think you should leave your car here if you're feeling a little untoward. I can drive us.' I was already sat down and strapped in before I could even accept the offer.
'That would be fantastic.'
I fiddled with the radio. Beethoven had been tuned out, I'd had enough of that guy over the past week and a half. I'd always assumed that Helena listened to classical music and only classical music until we'd worked on a case near Lubbock, Texas. She'd dragged me to the headstone of Buddy Holly and laid some flowers that she'd bought at the airport. I remember, we'd just stood there for a little while. She'd spoken softly, out of respect; she'd made me a mixed tape. HG had been putting the Warehouse archives to good use.
After a rummage around in the glove compartment I found what I was looking for, Pete's Prisoner of Azkaban audiobook. I'd left it in there from our trip back from the airport. Helena had borrowed the novel from Pete's rather extensive Harry Potter audiobook collection, but only the Prisoner of Azkaban, no others. Hermione was a foolish young woman for meddling with Time Travel at such a young age, she said. So many variables, so much uncertainty, but what she lacked in maturity she made up for in ingenuity and rationality. It was no surprise that Helena only listened to the last quarter of the book on repeat. I'd offered to get HG some audio-books of her own works but she'd outright refused, adding that she'd much prefer to just have me read them to her. I'd promised to make time for that, but it had never happened.
I put the CD in player and found the right chapter. 'Chapter 17, Cat, Rat and Dog,' came Stephen Fry's voice over the car's speaker system. I'd still remembered the right chapter number after three years. We had listened to this at least once through on almost every car journey, and there had been lots of car journeys, believe me. I leaned back into my seat, closed my eyes for a moment, and exhaled slowly. Helena was next to me, she was right there and it was excruciating not being able to intervene. I wanted to grab her and shake some sense into her. This woman would walk out of my life in less than twenty four hours, and I couldn't stop it, I couldn't change it. I stole a sideways glance at the darker haired woman sat in the driver's seat. Her shoulders were tense, a muscle in her jaw ticked rhythmically and her hands gripped the wheel so tightly her knuckles had turned white, but her eyes told me something different. She was working something over in that great mind of hers. Cogs were turning, dark eyes burning. Was she thinking about the future, was she conflicted? The unknown of it all was driving me mad with each passing second.
Helena must have felt my eyes upon her since she quickly glanced over to my slouched, suspicious form in the passenger seat. Any animosity that was there a moment ago was now absent from her striking features. 'Are you sure you don't want me to take you to the ER, just in case?' she asked whilst reaching over to feel my forehead, a small smile forming.
Playfully batting her hand away, I chuckled, 'I'm fine, really, but thank you,' to which she nodded with a smirk.
'So...,' those eyes flicked between me and the road, her lips pursed, but that smirk still lingered. 'How far back did you travel?'
My eyes snapped to hers. Shit, busted. 'What?!'
'From the future,' HG continued, evenly, eyes still fixed on the road ahead. 'How far have you come?'
Feign innocence Myka, you're not the time traveling author from the nineteenth century, she is. 'I don't know what you're talking about-'
Helena shook her head in amusement. 'You're a terrible liar, Myka. The smoke. You losing control of the car. Your inability to remember instances from just ten minutes prior.'
'I remembered what chapter to start Harry Potter on!'
The author continued to herself, eyes dancing now with curiosity, 'You're certainly Myka, just not my Myka.'
'Really Helena?! Really!?' My voice was getting higher and higher. She wasn't even paying me any attention now. I'd only gone in 20 minutes prior and had already managed to get caught. Good job Myka, and the Secret Serviced hired you why?
'Yes, really.' She flashed me one of her trademark smirks, again. Rubbing it in.
I blew a stray curl out of my eyes with an impatient puff. I was frustrated, and a little turned on, but that was always the way with Helena. 'I am, and will always be, your Myka.'
Helena threw her head back this time, a throaty laugh escaping her. 'Definitely not mine, although I do like this one'.
I gritted my teeth, folded my arms and sulked back into my chair. 'I'm not going to be able to bring this one back am I?'
'Nope', she shook her head, her raven hair catching the evening sun streaming through the car window.
'Man, I suck at this! I didn't even last an hour.' My head was in my hands now. How could I have been such an idiot? How did I not think that HG Wells would have me sussed as soon as she locked eyes with me? I raked my hands down my face. I guess you can't change the past. So if it was supposed to go this way, I'd just have to roll with it. I could do that, right? … Where was Pete when you needed him?!
'Don't worry darling, it was a noble effort'. I couldn't help but feel that she was humouring me. The look on her face confirmed my suspicions.
My embarrassment just and so allowed me a quiet, 'Thank you,' and after a moment's pause I decided to finally relent. 'Helena, can you stop the car?'
And with the politest of nods she replied, 'Certainly.'
'I'm a friend.'
'I know, darling, I know it's you. I just don't know which you it is.' She'd pulled over to the side of the road, unfastened her seatbelt and was now sat facing me, calm as anything, with that same curiosity in her eyes.
'3 years,' I shrugged, 'I didn't think you'd work it out so quickly.'
I must have been pouting slightly with disappointment at my poor showing as she followed suite sympathetically and leaned across to give my hand a squeeze. 'Well, I did invent the machine. I'm pretty accustomed to how it works.' Her hand in mine again was a revelation. I laced my fingers between hers. Her palms had always been surprisingly soft for someone who worked with their hands so often on various new fangled inventions or Warehouse maintenance projects, I didn't want to let go.
'Yeah...' I looked up, my eyes meeting hers. 'So, what now?'
'You tell me. You're the one who decided to travel back in time. There must have been a reason.'
Could I tell her? If I did, surely it wouldn't change anything, it couldn't. It's happened before and it will happen again, whatever I do and whomever I tell. 'I-'
She gave my hand another reassuring squeeze. 'You can't change anything Myka, that's not how it works.'
'I know, I know that. I just wanted to see you.' And that was the truth of it really. I just wanted to see Helena. HG Wells, the woman who'd stolen my heart at gunpoint and then left with it three years ago.
'That's a rather bizarre reason to travel back in time,' she scoffed, but she'd broken eye contact, the conflict present again, and this time I knew what it was. She was thinking about what lay before her. She was thinking about leaving Univille and the Warehouse. She was thinking about leaving me. She was reasoning with herself, denying my words, telling herself they meant something else, something else entirely.
'It wasn't for Rebecca,' I said earnestly, hoping that my rather intense grip on Helena's hand would communicate everything I've ever wanted to say to her but never had the guts to do so. Rather unsurprisingly, it didn't do the job.
'Well that was completely different, Rebecca was-'
'Helena,' I pleaded with my eyes for her to understand.
A small frown wrinkled across her forehead, and she knew. 'You're looking at me like you've not seen me since...'
'Today? I haven't.'
HG froze, her brow furrowing even more, her darks eyes suddenly filled with trepidation. 'I've been gone three years?' She asked, her mouth open slightly with disbelief and I felt my heart sore, just a little, before plummeting. She had meant to come back, she'd never intended to leave for good. Only she hadn't come back, something or someone had stopped her. Part of me was elated, part of me felt sick. Sick with worry. Sick with the prospect that perhaps Helena never returned to me, not because I'd broken her heart, something I don't admit to often but seems preferable now considering, but because she couldn't come back. And I didn't want to think much beyond that. I couldn't if I wanted to find her.
'Yep,' I nodded, a sad smile tucked in my cheek. 'Not even a postcard.'
'Not even a postcard?' I nodded. The author let out a defeated sigh, she couldn't hide the worry in her voice. 'Well then Myka,' she said, taking my hand now with both of hers, 'There's much I need to tell you.'
We pulled into the B&B just as chapter eighteen was beginning. To avoid getting even more busted, I silently crept upstairs, to avoid whomever the muffled voices belonged to downstairs, Helena on my heels. When I got to the door to her room, I grabbed the handle and lifted the door up ever so slightly, shifted it to the right and then turned the handle. It had a knack, and I'd learned it after my numerous sleepovers at the B&B, sleepovers I'd spent in her room, not mine.
'How do you know about that?' Helena's enquiring voice floated up from behind me as I stepped across the threshold.
'I come here a lot,' I shrugged as I took the room in. It looked so different with all her things in. She'd hardly left anything behind when she'd disappeared, just a few things that were replaceable or disposable. My answer was met with silence, but I could hear her brain processing that tidbit of information.
I moved over to her dresser and ran my fingers around its edges, across the intricate carvings and smooth varnished walnut, like I had done so many times before. Or hadn't done, not yet.
'So, do you really need to lie down?' She asked skeptically.
'No,' I turned round to find her eyes fixed on me, on my movements. She frowned and I brought my hands quickly to my side. 'I only have another 21 hours and 25 minutes left and I intend to make the most of it.'
'Doing what exactly?' Her voice was quiet, almost with anticipation and she'd closed the gap between us without my noticing. I could practically feel the innuendo.
'Finding out everything I can. Why you left, where you left to.' I tried to evade her ever penetrating gaze by looking anywhere else, but she had got so close that, as always, avoiding her gaze just meant staring unabashedly at her chest or longingly at the soft, sensitive skin of her neck. I was trying to shift my gaze between the two, sometimes giving the door a once over for good measure.
'I'm afraid that's classified,' she didn't give anything away.
'Classified? I thought you left on Warehouse business?'
'I did,' she nodded, stoically, 'But the mission is on a need to know basis.'
'And I don't need to know?' I asked, with a little more irritation in my voice than I'd intended. I was trying to help her and she was being difficult, and I had a sneaking suspicion it was just so she could see me squirm.
'Exactly. Not even Artie knows.' Now she was just getting off on it.
'Bullshit, I don't need to know. I already told you why I came back here. To find you, to find something that will lead me to you. I've already told you, you're not around three years down the line. That doesn't bother you at all?'
Helena exhaled sharply, it was almost a sigh, and put her hands to her hips. She paused for a moment, choosing her words, deciding their fates. Shaking her head, she said, 'Maybe it's best I'm not around, Myka. I'm sorry if this is a wasted trip for you.' Just like that. So matter of fact. But I didn't have time for her pride, I didn't have time for bickering and I certainly didn't have time for games.
'I don't need to convince you Helena, I know you'll tell me.' And I did, otherwise I wouldn't have been there in the first place. I'd never have received her note.
'What makes you so sure?' Her eyes were narrowed. She was angry with me. Of course! How did I not see it before? She'd done well to hide it this far, but it had been bubbling under the surface since, well, since Boston and Beethoven's key. I recalled the trip. There hadn't been a decision that was made without an argument following and preceding it. Teslas had been drawn far too often, and Helena had used all the shampoo in all the hotel rooms that we'd stayed in well before I'd even had a look in. Every time. Every room. Even the tea tree, which she'd always hated by the way. No wonder the assignment had taken well over the two nights initially projected. I was supposed to be home with days to spare before the wedding. She was angry with me, hurt. I'd not remembered her this way. I'd missed my partner, my comrade, my companion. I'd remembered the times we'd laughed, the times we'd simply sat and spoken candidly until the early hours of the morning about family and lost loves, what was and what is and what we hoped would be. The times she'd read Dickens to me, or Oscar Wilde, or asked me to read her Philip K Dick. Of course she'd be hurt, of course she'd feel angry, betrayed, and perhaps even exploited. I was getting married. I'd not seen it when I'd lived it. I was only really seeing it now. I was marrying someone else, someone who wasn't Helena, and she was angry. I couldn't help but smile. It meant she loved me.
'The machine was fixed,' I grabbed Helena's shoulders, a grin breaking out across my face. 'No burned out wires, not even a manual switch,' She'd prepared everything for me, she'd paved the way for my journey. I knew she'd come round, there's only so much Bering charm an author can resist. 'A remote! A remote you put there for me, something you must have done before you left, so the machine could be activated by the user, so I didn't need anyone else to activate it for me. Just me.'
HG clenched her jaw, and the muscle there began to twitch once again. 'I have been working on a remote device, privately of course,' she added, after a beat.
'See?' I smiled hopefully. My hands were now in hers, willing her to listen, willing her to see. See that I cared. See that I cared enough to want to make changes. See that I loved enough. My eyes pleaded with hers, and I found the embers of hope in them. They just needed a little stoking. 'You wouldn't have done all that if you hadn't agreed to help me.'
'I haven't agreed to help you.' But she was going to, for her hands were no longer in mine. Delicate touches from cool fingers tickled the hot skin of my neck, reddened by the heat of the argument. Her eyes were dark, darker than I'd ever seen them.
'Helena... what if you're not coming back?' I pushed once more, hoping to send her over the edge, hoping she'd give in. Her other hand lingered in the small of my back, pulling slightly at the material there. She was so close. Closer than ever before. I could feel her chest heaving as her breathing became more laboured, her heartbeat more erratic. I could feel her hot breath as it tickled my heat prickled cheeks.
'Then you get to say goodbye,' and it was suddenly her turn to relent as her lips captured mine. The hand on my neck quickly found its way into my thick curls, gripping and pulling ever so slightly, just enough to elicit a quiet gasp from my lips, as the hand in the small of my back easily found its way underneath the linen of my shirt and was now pressed up against flushed skin, sending a burning heat through my body, from every synapse to every nerve ending. I was buzzing, I was alive, more alive than I'd felt in years, and so was Helena G Wells. I finally had her, in my arms, and against my skin. Countless times I had imagined this moment, in this very room no less. Tangled in her sheets, gazing up at her ceiling, wishing she'd been tangled up with me. My hands grasped at her lapels, drawing her as close to me as I could muster, as she placed a soft but insistent bite on my bottom lip asking for the access which I was praying she'd request.
I was going to burst, blood was rushing from my head and I had to grip even tighter to Helena, my hands claiming a chunk of her shirt to stop myself from ending up a puddle on the floor. Begrudgingly I broke our kiss and fell back into the silence of a room punctuated by ragged breathing and small echoes of pleasure. Burying my head in her shoulder, I smiled against her neck as HG's arms encircled me.
'I'm not saying goodbye,' I spoke softly into soft raven hair, 'Not when I've only just found you.'