A/N: I apologize for the wait on the second part! This is going to be a three-parter, I think. This chapter still might be edited further, however I hope you all enjoy. (And thank you to all those who favorited, story-alerted, and reviewed the first part!)
Those four o'clock meetings you had slowly turned with time into being with Helena whenever she wasn't looking for the dagger. You tried staying away, finding some sort of purpose in this town with its diners and its crowds, but as you walk the streets and sit by its windows, you can't stop thinking of that dagger. Of how Helena, from this world, could possibly know of it. And just why she was searching for it. How the past keeps finding you, what that means in the long run. And then as you sit longer, stewing uncomfortably in your lack of understanding, loneliness permeates through you even more strongly than it did when you were surrounded by your enemies.
There you're the Mayor. The Queen. Feared, hated. It didn't matter.
Here you're nobody. A woman with dark red lipstick and expensive clothing and a mug of coffee with the weight of the world and your loss burrowed deep in your eye sockets. Children still fear you, you think with bitter amusement.
When you're with Helena you feel understood. You've never felt understood before, except with Emma, and that brings a whole different kind of pain.
She finds you at the library at the end of the day, staring at that picture of the dagger with a sense of abject wonder. It's the same dagger. It can't be but it is. The name is missing, but there's absolutely no denying. You don't know what to do with this information. You could tell Helena, but then she'd go to Storybrooke and you'd be forced by your past to go with her. This kind of ending shouldn't be unseen by you. His ending. It seemed too fitting. You don't know how to ask Helena why she's looking for the dagger. What a connection between the Warehouse and Storybrooke means.
You came here, to this world, for a happy ending, and it would seem that every world carries baggage. Every world is capable of destruction. And bringing two always volatile, always spinning off it's axis, always yearning worlds together?
Well. That could mean total and utter destruction and chaos.
Once upon a time ago, you might have gone for destruction. But most of your needs for for it centered around the destruction of Snow White. Without that goal in mind anymore, (even though it lingers, the hatred tearing at your heart every day), all you want is a cup of coffee, an afternoon with a friend, a hug from her son.
You'll only get two of those
And you'll always want everything.
That would never change.
Sometimes you drink with her until you're both in a stupor. Other times you talk, and you say things to her that you've never really told anyone. They don't even make sense coming out of your mouth; like your own griefs and suffering have their own language. She doesn't judge. (Most of the time. When you explained the sheer numbers of those you slaughtered, she did give pause. And even more when you couldn't muster up enough regret).
But she listens. And she understands. How grief holds on like claws of a vulture until you're left with nothing but emptiness. The need to destroy.
(How still, underneath, perhaps there is a person worth saving, worth caring about. That's perhaps what brought you two together most of all. How much both of you want to be loved. Need to be loved).
Other times are lighter. You talk about Henry, she talks a little about Christina. She tells you of Myka, how wonderful it was to meet a woman of her strength, her will. How she miss's her curls, as superficial as the longing is. You complain of Emma, you complain of not seeing Emma. You remember how she used to hold you. You take therapeutic walks in parks, read at window sills. There are days, however, sometimes many days at a time, where she is off searching.
You've asked to search with her, to try to pick apart this mystery of the dagger, and how it's nagging every good feeling that comes your ways, (and those are extremely rare indeed). And to prove yourself not useless and to be rid of the all-encompassing sadness and feelings ofweakness creeping up your neck, but she declines. This is her final chance, she says. She can't do anything to disrupt it.
And that you understand very well.
That doesn't mean you'll let this go, however. You were never one to give up, not entirely. Not when there's something to fight for, whether itbeing destroying or creating, or figuring out how a dagger that ruined your life by proxy ended up being in two worlds, instead of one.
Your son's birthday passes, and you throw a chair at the hotel window.
Helena helps you sneak out of the hotel, and you ask her on the way out if they should leave some money to compensate. She shrugs, and mentions that it's a very cheap chair, and the window was cracked in the first place.
You don't know why, after all that you've done, is breaking a window the first thing you feel that aching twinge of instant regret for.
It's only a moment, however, and as you settle in Helena's rented apartment, take in the bareness of the walls, and the pictures of the dagger and clippings of articles on the coffee table, the feeling passes, and another headache brews.
She hands you a cup of tea, and you think you may just drink one one every day.
Before searching, she has her daily stop with the articles and photographs, and makes a call on a strange device called a Farnsworth.
You eavesdrop as much as you can before Helena gives you a harsh look that says don't, and even then, you can't help yourself.
The mystery has become unbearable. You can't sleep without thinking of the dagger, of the connection to Helena and the Warehouse. Of whyHelena needs that power, or really, why the Warehouse does. If the Warehouse even knows what the dagger does, is capable of. How it takes, much more than it gives.
You ask her to tell you why she needs it, you try to refrain from sounding desperate and angry, because that would give you away instantly, and she says she can't. Simply can't. You feel like screaming.
And of course, because you never give up, you begin your own search. With newspaper articles, and pawn shops, giving low smiles to curators so you can make your way through back room museums in the next town over.
You won't find the dagger, you know where it is, of course. But you need information on the situation, anything.
When Helena comes back to the apartment after her own search turns up empty, you almost tell her the truth. Almost. Almost ask for her help in this almost helpless situation, but you can't. It would end so many things, and perhaps start things. Bridge a gap between Storybrooke and the rest of the world.
And you want to go back, to not have left on a cliff hanger, you hate being banished, you hate it, but something is holding you back. Is it this chance for you to move on, or giving them a chance? You think it's hardly the latter.
And you'd have to reveal absolutely everything, instead of just the barest of information you've given on your realm, your past, Rumpelstiltskin, your mother.
You don't know if you can face your past now, with so long being a part from it. You don't know how to leave this middle ground, between missing it and forcing yourself not to, between chances for a happy ending, and chances to fall again.
You just need to know the truth.
(If destiny really has ruled your entire life).
Helena has nightmares too.
You always knew how to calm Henry's nightmares. What tonics to give him, if he needed a hug, a mug of hot coca, a story. When Helena is writhing underneath the covers, a sheen of sweat on her brow, you suddenly have no idea what to do.
You try saying Helena's name, but it's as if she's under a more violent sleeping curse. With no true love in sight.
When she finally opens her eyes, and you stop contemplating calling 911, her eyes are made of ashes. Dark ones, still with burning embers at the corners. Her skin is pale, too pale, and her eyes hold all the years she has lived.
Again, they remind you of yourself. She dreamed the past
"I see their faces so often." She near mumbles, but Helena Wells doesn't mumble. It's a brush of words in a tense calm after the storm.
"Myka's? Christina?" You ask.
"No. The men I killed in cold blood." She says with a chill laced through the words and she shivers, even with the duvet pulled up to her chin. You touch her shoulder, but have no idea how to provide comfort. Her eyes are pointing straight ahead, looking at nothing, however her hand comes up to lightly stroke yours.
That's where your differences lie.
You've never dreamed of those you've slaughtered. Or if you have, you force yourself to remove any fear, any regrets, any helplessness that the past cannot be changed. If you remember every decision you've ever made, every wrong one, every path that was taken from you by greedy hands, every face that's looked at you in horror…
Well. You'd never get out of bed.
In that way, Helena might be stronger than you.
The gnawing of emptiness returns underneath your ribcage, and you wonder who's heart is darker; yours or hers.
"I love your expressions when you're fascinated, darling. It's like watching a moving painting."
Helena is in the bed with a book, completely nude underneath the sheets. The only light is from the dingy lamp on the side table, and it gives the other woman a certain ethereal glow. It could be distracting if you wasn't so concentrated the papers in front of you; the dagger, the crude drawing you did of Rumpel's dagger sans his name etched on it, news clippings, and google maps printed out. You've decided to stop wondering, stop researching fruitlessly, and clawing for answers from clouds. You're going to figure this out, if it's the last thing you do.
"Did the women really used to fall at your feet with that sorry excuse for seduction?" You quip back, although it's not biting. You have the ability to actually tease, who knew.
"Well, you're in my bed right now." Helena gestures dramatically and raises a brow of her own.
"Yes, but on top of the covers and completely clothed."
Helena leans in, removes the papers from your hands and places a pile of them on the side table. It feels like she's been drinking, but there's no scent of wine, and her eyes are clear instead of glassy. She's leaning over you with a kind of grace only certain people can even dream of possessing. Her hair fans over her shoulders and touches your collarbones. Her breath ghosts your ears, her lips press lightly against your cheekbones; not kissing even, not really. Chills start down your neck, heat blooms in your stomach. For a moment, the dagger is forgotten.
"We could change that." She says breathlessly.
You could. You could do it again. Helena is an experienced lover, and an enjoyable one, but you both know how empty it feels in the morning, even when it feels anything but, that night. Myka and Emma's names are never far. Always yearned for.
You push her arms away and give her a knowing look. It's odd how easily you've developed a silent language with Helena, because she understands immediately. And her eyes remain clear, but lose their spark, and remember their sadness.
And take on a new gleam. She cross her bare arms and looks at your directly in the eyes.
"Then tell me why you're so interested in the dagger. And no lies. I don't like being lied to. You keep asking questions, and you know I cannot answer them." She narrows her eyes, and damn her perception. Damn it. "Have you seen this dagger before? You have, haven't you. You're scared of it."
You don't say anything for a while, just collect your papers. Because, honestly, where could you even begin?
She looks very serious then, as if her intentions tonight all along were getting these explanations from you. And most likely, they were. You know she needed to study them first, glean her own explanations.
"If you know that dagger, the dagger that I revealed as an artifact, then the two are connected, and considering this concerns the safety of the Warehouse, I need to kno-"
"Not just the Warehouse." You say quickly and take out the crude drawing. This is it. Something is going to end tonight, begin tonight, all of those words, all of these cliches. You realize, you finally realize, you cannot solve this mystery alone. With just subtly asking Helena your questions, and expecting none of her own. With hiding things from the first friend you've really ever had. This is bigger than both of you, and you want to contain it to a size you can control. But you can't, and you shake within. You pick up a pen and write a single name on the paper blade. Helena gives you a quizzical look.
"Rumpelstiltskin. A fairy tale character known for making deals. I'm assuming he's a citizen of Storybrooke, Maine?"
And you tell the story.
She stares at you breathlessly, and after you're finished, she tells you her story too. Of the astrolabe. How there was a day that never was, how Helena feels an emptiness inside from that day. How an inkling of her still remembers. Fire she says, she remembers a lot of fire. Consuming fire. How there was a man out there, the one who needed the dagger, who was in more danger than he even knew. How Helena wasn't even planning on giving the dagger to him once she found it, because every warning bell was telling her that something was so severely wrong.
When she's done, you're both breathless, and the tea is cold.
What do you do when the fate of both worlds might reside in a hundred and fifty year old woman with connections to a powerful business that hunts down magical artifacts? When the possibility that one of your demons can be laid to rest, literally and figuratively? When maybe, just maybe, you can be the hero again. If you ever were. See red jackets you want to burn and a beautiful smile you want to kiss, and a little boy who hugged you when you had to leave?
You do something very dangerous for the likes of you.
You hope, and pray that this time that the idea won't be your downfall.
"Your research says the dagger dispels evil?"
Helena nods, taking a sip of now cold tea. "We have no idea of it's downsides, however. Artifacts always come with a price. Fickle things, they are."
Your heart plummets just a bit farther, and words from long ago are remembered of a very different price.
"I know exactly what it is."
You leave Boston behind with no regrets, but a mourning for a second chance at a new life you never really had. You have one more shot of expresso at that little diner before you go. You need the extra jump.
Helena's been quizzical about your old realm in the past, but now she's incessant with her questions. As if finally, it's all real to her. Perhaps with traveling through time and the Warehouse, the idea of another realm just didn't sound very odd at first thought. Like how a Warehouse full of objects doing things they weren't supposed to didn't phase you in the slightest.
"So do all of the fairytales intertwine?"
"And if so, how did they get separate?"
"How does this world even know of your story?"
"Do you suppose artifacts are just objects with magical residue?"
You say Be quiet, or I'll break that tea cup, and well.
It works. For a time.
"Did you make a deal with Rumpelstiltskin?"
"No." You answer simply, even though it's not. Because it was him who made a deal with you, and you weren't even aware it was happening. And the price was your happiness. You shake the thoughts away. This is about the safety of the town. Of the world. Of Henry.
You look at Helena beside you in the car, and wonder when it was up to two of the most broken people to perhaps save everyone.