Now know I well how that fond phantasy
Which made my soul the worshiper and thrall
Of earthly art, is vain; how criminal
Is that which all men seek unwillingly.
"I've finally finished inventory," Helena announces, pushing open the door.
Myka smiles, presses her shoulders against the headboard in a half-stretch. "Oh, stop," she chides. "Artie didn't keep you that long."
"Have you looked at the time?" Helena demands, hanging her jacket neatly on the coat rack.
Myka rolls her eyes and turns back to her book. "It's only ten," she says.
Helena heaves a melodramatic sigh. "Oh, for the days you worried over the long hours I work."
"You've always spent long hours working," Myka counters, flipping a page. "And I've never worried."
The bed dips down and Helena rubs Myka's shin through the sheets. "We'll agree to disagree," she says, smirking against Myka's raised knee.
Myka hums vaguely; she's just gotten to a particularly interesting passage in Ancient Greece: A History. Helena seems content to wait, bringing Myka's hand to her lips. Myka smiles into her book, and nearly chokes when Helena sucks a finger into her mouth. Helena shifts onto her knees, eyes trained on Myka's before slipping off with an obscene pop.
"I don't think you're giving me your undivided attention Myka, dear."
Myka sputters and then Helena's holding her against the headboard with nothing more than her mouth, insistent and warm.
"Did you come into contact with Cleopatra's vibrator again?" Myka manages, hands bunched in Helena's shirt. Helena laughs against her lips, and Myka takes the opportunity to flip them over. The book drops away, the sheets tangle, and Myka spends a fierce few moments battling them off to the side. Helena presses a fingertip to the corner of her mouth, draws her back.
"Myka," she says, eyes dark and half-lidded.
Helena's back hits the mattress with a muted thud, and Myka doesn't give her a chance to regain her breath, and kisses her in the deep, delving, possessive way that makes Helena melt into the bed.
Myka shoves her hair behind her ears and pulls at Helena's blouse with the other hand. "Goodness," Helena smirks as buttons pop open. "You're certainly enthusiastic tonight."
"You provoked me," Myka retorts and Helena stretches smugly. She pushes at Helena's shirt, helps her get it off, and spends long minutes kissing her, giving her hands free reign over the planes of Helena's stomach, scratching down her sides and making Helena to arch up. Myka's thigh slips in between Helena's legs, welcomed with a breathy plea and hands grasping at her shirt.
"Off," she mutters against Myka's lips. "All of it, get it off." She pulls harder at Myka's t-shirt, and they separate for an instant while it is yanked up and flung somewhere across the room.
She gives in to Helena's tugging, helps Helena with her slacks, is helped in return. Helena's hands wrap tight around her shoulders, she rocks up against Myka's thigh, sighing quietly. Myka bites her lip at the heat and wet, drops her head as she remembers their rhythm.
"I missed you," Myka breathes, without quite knowing why. Helena blinks lazily up at her, then smiles.
"I'm here," Helena replies, nudging their noses together. Myka laughs, slips two fingers into Helena's welcoming heat, and loves the way Helena moans and tightens around her.
Myka loves this, loves watching Helena (her arching back, her heated eyes), hearing Helena (the little whimpering moans, the panting breaths) touching Helena (sweet and so willing beneath her).
"Please," Helena gasps as Myka marks a rosy spot over her breast. "Please, please."
There's an answering throb between her own legs and when Helena's thigh comes up to assuage it, she nearly bites through her lip. Helena catches her lips again, and the meeting of their mouths is bruising and urgent and beautiful.
She works in another finger and Helena bares her neck, half words and benedictions tumbling from red red lips. Myka kisses her, her chin, her jaw, just below her ear, and Helena comes (almost before Myka is expecting it, body stiffening and mouth opening to loose a strangled shout).
She presses her lips to Helena's neck, holds, until Helena sighs and relaxes.
Helena murmurs her name, combs back the curls sticking to her forehead. Her hand slips around to cup the back of Myka's neck. Myka places a kiss to Helena's mouth and eases her fingers out, enjoying the way the other woman gasps and digs her nails into Myka's neck.
She paints a line across Helena's mouth, watching in rapt fascination as a pink tongue darts out to lick away the glaze. Helena tugs her down, and Myka moans at the taste of her. She needs more of it, she decides, right now, and nips her way down Helena's front. (She pauses now and again to enjoy her handiwork, rosy red spots arranged perfectly across a pale canvas.) Helena sits up, dislodging Myka. She chuckles at the disgruntled look on Myka's face and leans in to kiss her, scratching lightly up Myka's side.
Helena presses her mouth along Myka's collarbone and Myka sighs, closing her eyes. "Helena," she mumbles. "Helena, I want to – "
Helena squeezes a breast, and her tongue toys with the sensitive skin of Myka's earlobe. She grins against her neck, quick and bright, but Myka won't be dissuaded by clever fingers and pretty eyes.
Though there's no reason Helena can't put aforementioned fingers to good use, Myka thinks, smirking. With one hand, Myka captures Helena's fingers in her own,;with the other, she pushes at Helena's shoulder until she's lying flat on her back again.
"Touch yourself," Myka says quietly. She covers Helena's hands and places them just below her breasts.
"You won't be helping?" Helena asks, circling a nipple obediently.
"I'll be watching." Myka is pleased to hear Helena's breath catch at the husked assurance. She dips her head, kisses the skin below Helena's hand and marks a trail with her lips until she's mouthing the protrusion of Helena's hipbone, dragging her tongue across cooling sweat. Helena's hips are seeking purchase even before Myka settles into position, and Myka smiles.
She pauses, one last deep breath to gather herself, and licks slowly into the slick heat waiting for her. Helena's hips buck upwards, almost throw Myka off balance. Myka laughs, breathless and muffled – harder, when Helena squirms at the vibrations.
"More," she gasps, but her fingers stay put, digging into her own breasts. Myka suckles approvingly at her clit, wrapping her arms around Helena's hips. Myka pushes down with firm hands, up with her tongue until Helena is rocking frantically against her face, pleading incoherently again. This time is better, infinitely better, because when Myka twists her tongue just right, Helena comes arching off the bed with a loud moan and Myka gets to taste Helena sweet and salty and everywhere.
Helena hunches over her, gasping and finally tangles her fingers in Myka's hair. She tugs up wordlessly and Myka pulls away, watching Helena's chest heave for the air Myka stole from her. Her lips part under Myka's heated gaze, eyes dark as she's ever seen them and suddenly Myka is scrambling for the toy they keep in their nightstand. She needs to see Helena fall apart under her yet again, choking on her air the way she does when she's been stretched so far she has no choice but to scream and come, Myka's name like a prayer on her lips.
Helena watches her with eager eyes, and lies propped up on her elbows as Myka fumbles with the lock on the drawer.
"Not that I'm complaining," Helena begins, in that smoky, breathless voice that entices Myka all over again every time she hears it, "But don't I usually get a recovery period?"
"Well," Myka drawls, biting her lip. "Let's see if you need one." The drawer rests half open and forgotten as Myka crouches between Helena's legs again. She places the lightest of kisses below Helena's navel, moves slowly but steadily downwards. Her hands nudge at Helena's legs and they open wider for her. Careful not to touch anywhere too sensitive just yet, Myka (slowly, very carefully) slips a finger into Helena and finds her hot and satiated. Helena groans, long and drawn out.
"Myka," she sighs. "Oh, Myka."
Myka bites her lip. She can't wait, she thinks. She won't, she has to get the flavour back on her tongue.
Helena whines beneath her, squirming like she can't decide whether to pull away or push against. Myka is gentle, tickling her with short breaths and a perpetually delving finger. It isn't long before Helena's breathing changes, from slow and measured to quick and desperate and Myka is only too happy to keep up. She laps at her, long slow sure strokes segueing smoothly into short and quick and back to long and slow, again and again, until Helena gasps and comes in waves, until she's limp and breathless and melted into the mattress like she may never get up again.
Myka crawls up beside her, wiping with the back of her hand what she can't lick away with her tongue and Helena groans helplessly at the sight. Myka laughs quietly and curls into her side, content for now to watch Helena's pulse jump under her skin and smile smugly at the ragged breaths.
"I'll get to you in a second, darling," Helena says in a mostly even voice. "I just –" she laughs a little, and Myka noses against her. "You took me a bit by surprise." Myka kisses a warm shoulder and smiles.
Myka wakes to shouting.
"Huh, what?" she mumbles, reaching out blindly. She encounters air and below that, wooden slats. She jolts upright, eyes wide. Her surroundings settle in around her and she nearly groans. Pete's voice filters through – "Mykes! Wake up already!"
She's in the Warehouse, Aisle – she squints at the nearest artifact marker – Aisle Topeka 997. Her head is pounding, her mouth is dry and her skin is uncomfortably tight.
"Yeesh," Pete says, hands on his hips. "I turn my back for two seconds and you're nodding off on the job."
The disorientation clears – mostly – and Myka rubs a hand across her face. She's supposed to be doing inventory, she remembers. Pete plops down next to her on the crate and Myka nearly bites through her lip at the vibrations that rattle across the slats and up her body.
Just a dream, she tells herself firmly, fumbling for her clipboard.
"Sorry," she mumbles, shifting to get the weight off of certain areas. "Didn't sleep well last night."
"I feel ya," Pete sighs, absently flexing an arm. "Between Artie marching in and out of the house at all hours with Doctor Cho, and Claudia's bathtub cleaner thing, oh man."
Myka snorts. "You attacked a metal box with a toilet wand."
"It was three a.m. and it was dark," Pete grits out, with all the determined embarrassment of one who has had to justify his actions to giggly audiences. "Anyway, Claudia shouldn't have left her tub cleaner where just anyone could find it."
"And mistake it for a serial killer?" Myka hides a smile as she remembers the manly shriek that had woken her earlier in the day.
"Serial killers hide in the shower," Pete mumbles, looking down at his hands like a chastised child.
"Oh, my God."
"Whatever," Pete sniffs. "Hey, you okay? You look a little flushed."
Myka stops laughing abruptly, remembers a particularly vivid part of her dream. She springs up, shifting her weight from side to side as discreetly as possible. "Well," she says, hands curled tightly at her sides to keep them in appropriate places. "I'm sure Claudia's latest excuse not to clean the bathroom is out of the tub by now and I need that shower." And its detachable head, she doesn't add.
Myka jerks, blinks her eyes wide and hears a knock on the bathroom door. Did I just fall asleep? she thinks, rubbing at her eyes. "Go away," she calls.
"It's me," comes Helena's amused reply. "Are you planning on getting out soon or do I need to come in there?"
Myka speeds up her moisturizing. "Be just a sec!" She rubs at her hair one last time, then heads to her room to hang her towel up to dry.
Helena is stretched out on her bed, dressed in one of Myka's old t-shirts, the long worn kind that stops mid-thigh on Myka and practically swallows Helena whole. Myka has to bite her lip to hide the grin threatening to erupt on her face.
"What have we said about stealing clothes?" Myka asks playfully, and doesn't bother hiding her smile at Helena's eye roll.
"Come here," Helena says, . "Look how beautiful the sky is today. Perfect blue skies, not a single cloud in sight. A man could try to recreate this particular shade of blue for a lifetime and never succeed."
"Did you ever try?" Myka asks, settling her head onto Helena's thighs, stretching her body across the width of her bed. Her curls are still damp but Helena makes no move to brush them off.
"Once," Helena admits, toying gently with a drier strand of her hair. "Christina loved the sky, too. The fantastic colours, the endless expanse of it – she was enchanted. She loved this particular shade of blue best." Helena gestures to the window. "Actually, she loved it so much she asked me to paint her ceiling the same colour."
"That must have looked beautiful," Myka murmurs. If she tilts her head just right, she can see the slight smile on Helena's face as she stares out the window.
"It would have," Helena says, smiling wryly, "if I had managed to do it. I tried very hard, you understand. I mixed one pigment with another, and another and yet another. Then, when that didn't work, I tried creating my own materials." Helena sighs, so quietly Myka barely hears it, even though she's all but holding her breath to better hear Helena share a rare story.
"I had planned on surprising her with a freshly painted room on her seventh birthday, but I just could not achieve the same lovely solid blue of a summer sky directly overhead, nor could I grasp the way it pales steadily but suddenly into a lighter shade the closer one looks towards the horizon."
"So what did you do?"
Helena takes a breath, affected by the memory of even this small failure. "Christina told me it was probably a good thing that no one could capture the exact colouring. That the seemed more magical if she knew it could never be replicated. I told her that someone may yet do it in the future, and do you know what she said to me?"
"What?" Myka says, smiling reflexively as Helena chuckles.
"She said that if I couldn't do it, then no one could." Helena's eyes are bright with unshed tears, and Myka feels something clench inside her.
"She was right," Myka whispers, squeezing Helena's hand. Helena clutches at it, then clears her throat.
"We ended up painting patterns with the failed batches onto the walls of our living room. One slightly different shade for each little drawing. Of course Charles nearly had a nervous breakdown – very concerned with the public image, was my dear brother. It took me a half hour to explain to him the patterns could be taken off at any time."
It takes Myka a second to understand. "You made your own wallpaper?"
"Yes." Helena smiles, then laughs a little at the memory. "Christina loved her present, even if we had to take them down whenever my brother's literati friends gathered in our home. Charles never really did get over it. But I suppose that's because people don't change."
Myka frowns at the ceiling. She weighs her next words carefully. "I used to think that too," she says quietly, trying to keep her voice even, to not betray the sudden pounding of her heart. "But I was wrong, Helena. All people do is change."
Helena doesn't reply.
Myka grips her hand tightly. "You taught me that, actually." Helena laughs bleakly. "No," Myka says, scrambling up next to her. She stares earnestly at Helena, trying to make her understand. "No, listen. If you can't believe that, then believe that you were always good." Myka drags her fingers under Helena's chin, tilting her head up. "You were always a hero." Myka shushes Helena before she can formulate a reply. "You are. You were, and something terrible and unfair happened to you, and you lost sight of who you are, but you found yourself again, okay? You got help and you found yourself again. You're good, Helena. You're so good. Believe that.
And Helena stares up at her, just stares, like all the love in the world begins and ends with Myka Bering.
"The one plea to which I have no immunity," she murmurs finally, and places a careful kiss on Myka's knuckles.
"Well. Good," Myka mumbles and lets herself be pulled down to rest in Helena's arms.
It's the cold that wakes her, hard pinpricks hitting her body at all angles. Myka jolts upright, nearly chokes on water. "Oh, my God," she says out loud, flailing for the faucet. "I fell asleep?" She leaps out of the shower, and dries herself as quickly as possible, worry forming a dense knot in her stomach. She stares at at the fogged up mirror. "I fell asleep."
Myka shimmies into her slacks and blouse, hating how the cloth sticks to her damp skin and wishing she had remembered to bring a change of clothes with her to the bathroom.
"I fell asleep," she repeats. She fell asleep while she was working. Sure, she'd had approximately three hours of sleep last night, but she'd managed on less than that before.
She needed coffee, was what she needed.
The Farnsworth was still on her nightstand, she'd call Pete, tell him she'd be late getting back to the Warehouse and make herself a pot of the best coffee in the inn.
Myka is halfway her to her nightstand before she has to stop, vision narrow and head reeling. The bathroom was humid and warm, she tells herself and the hallway is cool and dark. That can easily cause a head rush, she just needs to stay still until it passes, but her body has other ideas and she drops ungracefully onto the bed as her knees buckle. Fatigue pulls at her and her eyes drop shut.
A horn toots in her face and Myka swats halfheartedly in front of her, eyes firmly shut.
"I'm asleep," she says firmly. "Go away, Pete."
"I'm not Pete!" Claudia chirps brightly. "We're about to hop on a plane to Cincinnati, Mykes! Rise and shine."
Myka cracks an eye open, takes in Claudia's cheery grin, studies the party favour in her hand, and promptly tucks her head back between Helena's shoulder and the couch.
"No," she insists.
Helena pats her leg soothingly. "Now, now. Our job is to save the world, darling. Occasionally that requires waking up earlier than usual."
Myka squints at Helena. Helena takes a sip of her tea and stares serenely ahead.
"Easy for you to say," Pete grumbles on Myka's left. "Did you or Claud actually go to sleep last night?"
"No," Myka mumbles, stretching. She can practically hear Artie roll his eyes from across the table but he doesn't comment.
"Three a.m. pings are the worst," Steve grumbles. "Sun's not even up, nobody's awake." There's a crash from the kitchen. "See?" He adds.
"You're adults. You can handle it," Artie says, straightening the files. He seems unperturbed by the fact that all but two of his agents are half asleep.
"I'll go help in the kitchen, I think," Helena says, lifting Myka's arm from her lap and placing it at Myka's side. She brushes a hand over Myka's hair. "I'll bring you back another coffee," she promises.
"No, we don't have time," Artie says, to general groans of protest. "Up, up, everybody up, we have a plane to catch. We're taking all three cars, before anybody asks. Come on, go. Go!"
Claudia bounces after Artie, Pete and Steve in grudging tow. Helena tugs Myka by the wrist and stops her from following with a small smile.
"You've been quite sleepy, of late," Helena says, running her fingers down Myka's wrist. "I'd attribute it to my own prowess –" she waits for Myka to finish rolling her eyes before continuing. "But I was helping Claudia all last night, and you nearly fell asleep in your cereal. Have you been feeling unwell?"
Myka bites her lip. "I don't know," she admits quietly. "I don't think it's an artifact or anything, but I've been having these weird dreams."
Helena nods knowingly, hooking a finger through Myka's belt loop and tugging her forward. "Giraffes again?"
Myka blinks, nonplussed. "No. Just everyday things. Being at the Warehouse, talking to Pete, taking a shower –"
"How dreadfully boring," Helena interjects. "Would you like me to give you better dreams?"
Myka rolls her eyes again, and Helena peppers kisses along her jaw.
"We have to go," Myka says, trying for an unflappable tone.
"We've got time," Helena returns, eyes fixed on Myka's mouth. Reflexively, she licks her lips and knows she's lost.
"Ping," she says anyway, and lets Helena lean up and lick deep into her mouth.
Well, Myka thinks hazily, cupping Helena's face. Delays were a part of life. Artie would understand.
Her eyes snap open and Myka wakes with a choked gasp. She expects solid ground beneath her feet and instead she's staring up at the ceiling. There's a belated shock and Myka's entire body twitches. She sits up, breathing heavily and fumbling for the lamp. Her hand brushes something and Myka grabs it in a vice-like grip.
"Claud?" Myka rasps, squinting in the warm glow of the bedside lamp.
Myka lets go of her wrist sheepishly. "Sorry," she mumbles, running a hand through her hair.
"No, I'm sorry," Claudia protests. "I didn't mean to wake you. Pete told me you were catching up on some sleep, so I brought you soup." She gestures at the porcelain bowl on her nightstand. "I guess we finally started keeping it in the house."
"Guesso," she mumbles. Myka rubs her eyes, trying to make out Claudia's features, but only succeeds in blurring her vision further. "Claudia," she says, and Claudia mock salutes.
"At your service," she trills, the light reflecting off her various rings, almost too brightly.
Myka manages a half smile though her mouth is getting dry and her eyelids heavy. "Can you call Doctor Vanessa? I think – "
Myka blinks her opens her eyes and sighs heavily.
"Everything all right?" Helena presses a kiss to the juncture of her neck and shoulder, and Myka smiles.
"Yeah," she says, closing her eyes. "Just thinking."
"Oh?" Helena's hand brushes her side and Myka laughs, a little huff of air. "Thinking of thanking me for staying in one position for over an hour, with you practically on top of me with nary a word of thanks?"
Myka arches an eyebrow and turns to stare Helena down with her best glare.
Helena winces. "I didn't – ah, I didn't mean it like that." Myka stares flatly at her. Helena purses her lips sheepishly and stretches to put the book she'd been reading on the bedside table. "I have a present for you?"
"Why?" Myka smirks. "What did you do this time?"
"I resent that!" But Helena is hiding a smile in the crook of Myka's neck. "I saw it in a store window," Helena continues quietly, toying with Myka's curls. "And I was struck by how perfect it would look about your wrist."
"What is it?"
There's cold metal at her wrist and she gasps. "Oh," she says, and watches spellbound as the silver and diamond charms reflect and refract the light in their bedroom. "Oh, Helena. It's beautiful." Myka rests her forehead against Helena's cheek as she fastens the clasp. "I think I have the perfect earrings to match this, the pair my sister gave me for my birthday. Let me just get them, they're right on the dresser."
She makes to get up, and is stopped by a gentle hand.
"Easy now," Helena says, smoothing down Myka's shirt. "I can go get it for you. I don't want you moving so suddenly."
Myka rolls her eyes – the charm of Helena's caution has long worn off. "I'm seven months along," she gripes. "I'm not going to break."
Helena holds her tighter. "I'm frightened for you sometimes," she admits into Myka's hair. "So frightened I don't know how I manage to leave your side every morning. In fact I wouldn't if you didn't ask it of me."
"Nothing's going to happen to us," Myka says firmly, confidently. "Not to you, not to me, and not to our little girl."
Myka rests her hand on her stomach, and watches the charms around her wrist catch the light.
Helena's hands cover Myka's. "Our Christina," she whispers.
She sucks in a breath, chokes on it and coughs uncontrollably. There's a hand at her back and another holding a plastic cup to her chapped lips. Myka pushes it away with shaky hands, trying and failing to gulp in air. Someone slaps her back and suddenly Myka can breathe again, nearly bends double as she greedily sucks in oxygen.
The same gentle hands pull her hair back and then she's pushed backwards onto the bed, still gasping. The air gets thicker around her, clogging up her ears like cotton, forming a dense cloud on the ceiling. Dimly, she wonders if it will rain. She'd like it to rain. It's too hot here, the sheets are too hot, like blankets like quilts, they're too much and Myka wants them to kick them off, wants to kick everything off.
And now the voices get louder, higher in pitch like she's changing frequencies on the radio.
With every word Myka cringes and tries to take the deep breaths of before but nothing happens, the voices don't stop, the air doesn't come into her lungs, she's going deaf, she's suffocating and she just wants it all to –
It comes again, the noise.
A voice. That's what it is. Sound produced in the larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song.
"Listen, I'm talkin' to ya!"
Light floods into her eyes, and Myka groans. Something lets her eyelid drop and Myka scrunches up her face. The next sense to return is touch and she's aware of the brick beneath her head and back. After that it's smell, and Myka scrambles upright, gagging.
There's an absolutely pungent odour in the air – it takes Myka a second to realize it's not unlike the stables she and Pete visited last week.
"Ugh," she mutters, dusting herself off. She doesn't even want to think about what she could have been lying in.
"Sorry, sir." The voice speaks again and Myka looks up to see a scruffy little boy hang his head and back away nervously. "Didn't realize I was talking to a copper, sir."
Myka gapes. The little boy is dressed in plain, rough-hewn trousers frayed at the ends, covering old shoes that look a size too big. He has on a tattered long sleeved shirt, once white, and an oversized leather vest which speaks of a wealth unmatched by the rest of his attire.
He's also edging away from her.
"Hey! Wait!" The little boy's head snaps up and she gets a good look at his face. He looks to be about ten, with dirty hair and blue eyes.
"You're American, then?" Myka doesn't like the glint that comes into the boy's eyes. "If you want I can show you to London proper. Bet you're lost. Only cost you five shillings."
Myka can't help it, she laughs. She's stuck in what is probably the 1800s – and, God, does she hate time travel – with a little brat who wants to scam her out of money she doesn't have.
The boy looks insulted, then his gaze drops to her waist. "All right, three shillings. Special offer."
Myka looks at her waist, bemused and sees the badge she'd forgotten to take off her slacks. "Listen, kid –"
Their heads turn at the same time.
"Is that – d'you smell smoke?" he asks and Myka is off running before he can continue.
It gets thicker, the closer she gets to it and the screams get louder. People are rushing out of their homes, milling about on their lawns, and getting in Myka's way.
What a pretty neighbourhood, Myka thinks, elbowing people out of the way. And in the middle of it all, a house burns, flames rising up and licking at the smoke-blackened sky.
There's a cold feeling in the pit of her stomach and she doesn't have to wait for one of the panicked neighbours to start shouting "La fille, la fille est dedans!" before she's sprinting into the burning house with no more precaution then a sleeve covering her mouth.
The door's already been kicked open, and Myka wastes no time in scanning rooms – the parlour, the sitting room – until she bursts into the living room and nearly crashes into a large man, running in the opposite direction.
They stare at each other for a split second, and Myka automatically takes in the details – six foot three, white male, lightly bearded, heavily muscled, probably has at least two weapons hidden in his overcoat alone – then her eyes fall on a portion of the wall behind him, not yet covered in flames or smoke. A square of paper peels off the wall, and the design is painted on in a shade almost painfully blue.
"Where is she?" Myka shouts. The man bolts, looking over his shoulder with panicked eyes like he thinks Myka will give chase but Myka runs into the living room, shouting.
"Christina? Christina!" She nearly trips over a body – a plump woman, probably in her late fifties – the maid, Myka realizes, and redoubles her efforts, scanning the room with watering eyes.
"Christina!" There's a small cough somewhere on her left and that's all Myka needs before she's pushing aside a sofa and scooping up a bleeding little girl.
She's running out the same way as the man, pausing only briefly at the prone body of the maid, but she knows what her priority is. There's a loud crash, and Myka sprints for the door, terrified something will fall and block her exit. She bursts out into the fresh air, squinting in the bright sun.
She drops to her knees a safe distance away, brushing away worried neighbours, her attention focused solely on the unconscious little girl.
"Wake up," she orders breathlessly, straining to remember all she can about giving CPR to children. "Wake up," place heel of hand on breastbone "Come on," open the airway, "Wake up!" give rescue breaths "Please, please," repeat "Oh, please."
Finally, blessedly, the little girl coughs and Myka nearly rips away a glass of water from the hands of a surprised neighbour, spilling a few precious drops.
Only after Christina is firmly in the recovery position does Myka offer her the water, along with a "Drink slowly."
Christina sips, coughs again, weaker, and Myka feels panic building. Christina's head rocks upward, like it's heavier than it should be, until scared brown eyes are looking directly into her own.
Myka wakes up thrashing, staring helplessly at the ceiling. She shuts her eyes desperately – she hasn't figured out if she's dreaming or if she's not but she needs to go back, needs to find Helena, needs it so bad she might scream.
She is screaming, she realizes, and tries to stop. Then there's a hand at her back and she's propped up, roughly and water is practically forced down her throat. She gasps, she chokes, she can still smell the smoke, can still feel it clogging up her lungs.
Sounds filter in but they're distant, and Myka is thankful for the hoarse screams ripping her throat to shreds. She shuts her eyes tight, tries to drown everything else out. She doesn't know where she is, she doesn't care, and all she needs to go save Christina for a Helena who never could.
"Do you have it?"
Myka flinches away, partly because the voice is right next to her, partly because she's surprised she can make out individual words with the racket in her head. (She thinks someone replies to the mystery voice but she doesn't know what they say.) Myka feels oddly jelly-like – she's shaking, she's so cold, she's slipping out of her own skin, she's burning up.
"I don't know!" someone shouts and if Myka could feel her hands, she would cover her ears and wake up from this nightmare.
She nearly retches.
She's on her knees on speckled grey cement the colour of a thundercloud. There's a light touch on her shoulder and Myka turns to see a little girl in a pretty beige dress. She looks like any other little girl, from a distance but the eyes give it away. The eyes are Helena, through and through.
"It hurts," Christina says quietly and tips forward into Myka's arms in a dead faint.
With horror, Myka takes in the blood, a large red spot seeping from a gash in her forehead onto Myka's shirt. She scrambles to her feet and nearly falls back down, dizzy.
There's somebody about fifteen feet away, a woman with a ponytail, Myka can see her back. Whoever she is, she's the only person nearby and Myka runs towards her.
(Myka is not sure why the woman is in jeans and a cardigan when they're supposed to be in the 1800s, but the child in her arms is bleeding and she's desperate.)
"Help me! Help me, ma'am. Please, where's the nearest hospital?"
Helena turns around, smiling beatifically. "Hello," she says and Myka drops to her knees. "My name is Emily Lake. I'm from Omaha."
She wakes up to noise, bright and blinding.
She doesn't have the energy to scream, not this time. She can barely keep her eyes open. Her eyes feel swollen and dry, much like her mouth. She can think just clearly enough to wish for the glass of water, but she doesn't know if anyone is here with her; she can't turn her head, she can't move her limbs.
She's not sure where she is. She's not sure what her name is.
Something hits her shoulder just then, and if she knew how to, she would yell in protest because that hurt (that's one thing she can still do, then, she can hurt.)
It must jolt something in her because now she knows someone is yelling, can even understand individual words, though they seem to come from someone yelling at the other end of a football field. Underwater.
"Myka! Myka, help me get you back." Helena looms above her, tired and beautiful and worried.
Myka gasps. "I don't think this is real," she's babbling, she knows she's babbling, and she's so relieved to know – it's infinitely better than the dream she was having earlier, where she couldn't move, could barely think for the pounding in her head.
"Oh, darling," Helena strokes her hair back, and Myka inhales the scent of Helena's favourite perfume. "I know it seems that way, but you must try and hold on, do you understand? I have Pete in the field right now, and he's trying to neutralize the artifact."
"I don't – I don't understand." Myka struggles upright, helped immediately by a warm hand at her back. "Is this real?"
(It certainly feels real, and everything looks so familiar – the warm off white of the walls; the book Helena was reading, still on the nightstand; Christina's favourite stuffed animal on the dresser)
"Yes!" Helena looks perturbed, and immediately tries to hide it with a smile. "You've been dreaming, don't you remember? Dreams where I wasn't there, Leena wasn't there, Christina wasn't ours. You screamed," Helena says mournfully. "Oh, how you screamed in your dreams."
Myka swallows, and Helena's gaze flicks down to her lips before she jerks and reaches for the glass of water on Myka's nightstand. "Drink, darling. You must be parched."
She is. Myka gulps the water down gratefully, eyes falling shut as she feels it trickle down her throat.
"Better?" Helena asks, and her smile is so kind and worried, Myka feels safe enough to relax into her.
There's the same shove at her shoulder and Myka jerks upright.
"What is it?" Helena leans into her, eyes worried.
"Nothing," Myka says, shrugging off the memories of the dream – the nightmare with the loud noises and the panicked man's voice. I just – I don't know how to stay here," she admits, finding the perfect spot to rest her head against Helena's shoulder.
"But you want to, don't you?" Helena asks, pulling Myka closer. "Don't you, Myka?" Myka sighs, sinks into her warmth. "Christina misses you," Helena whispers. "She's with Artie right now. I didn't think you'd want her to see you like this."
Something niggles at her.
"Say you want to stay, Myka."
Myka smiles, tries to wrap her mind around the new thoughts in her head, but they're slippery and she can't quite reach them.
"Won't you stay with us, Myka? Please."
"But..." Myka begins, frowning slightly.
"It's not important, whatever you're thinking," Helena says quickly. "It's your nightmares, trying to suck you back in. The first step is saying you want to stay here, and then you can."
Myka pauses. "Stay here?"
"Yes," Helena whispers, cupping the back of Myka's neck. "Here, with me and Christina and Leena, and your whole family.
Myka's eyes fill with tears and when she speaks, her voice is watery and broken. "I was pregnant with Christina, Helena. How could I have saved her in the 1800s? How can she be here right now?"
She pulls away, crying in earnest now. "And – and the little boy that – before the fire. He was English. He was talking in an English accent but the house was in Paris, that doesn't – "
Helena bites her lip and Myka sees all of a sudden, sees it clearly.
"This can't be real."
It's light; it's bright white neon blue and green and the colours mix together to create a fever dream.
Then it's dark, and Myka's world falls silent.
The stars have always been bright in South Dakota.
Myka's neck will probably develop a crick from being kept in the same position, but she doesn't care. It feels good to be outdoors, breathing in the crisp May air and – and
"It's okay to come out here, Pete." Her throat is still hoarse from screaming. "You too, Claudia."
There's a small scuffle behind her, and Myka can almost see Claudia shoving a reluctant Pete in front of her.
"Hi," he says sheepishly, and Myka almost smiles. He always loses the fight. There's a tap at her shoulder and Myka turns to see a plate half filled with cookies.
"You let him eat the rest of the cookies already?"
There are only so many battles I can win," Claudia replies dryly. Pete grumbles a protest. Claudia rolls her eyes and rocks on her feet.
"I'm – I'm going to head up to bed," Claudia says, pointing awkwardly at the staircase. "Unless – unless you need me to stay, which I can totally – "
"Get some rest, Claud," Myka says. Pete settles next to her on the porch swing and Claudia smiles and waves a goodbye, watching Myka with concerned eyes.
Silence reigns, broken only by the soft wet sounds of Pete demolishing a plateful of cookies.
"How'd you figure it out?"
Myka still doesn't remember much after the artifact was neutralized, just seeing Doctor Vanessa and Artie leaning over her, both their faces lined and worried.
"The shelf you were leaning against, when you fell asleep at the Warehouse," Pete says. "Your head must have touched Michelangelo's paintbrush. It –"
"Gives you dreams of your perfect reality," Myka finishes quietly. She remembers reading about it.
"And makes you deathly ill in the real..reality." Pete crinkles his nose. "It gives you really bad dreams if you figure out what's going on."
"And If you get really close to figuring out what's going on," Myka says softly, "Then it tries to convince you that your dream is the reality."
"Yup," Pete says. "All you have to do is state that you prefer your dream to your reality and you're stuck in your dream forever."
"And you lose your will to live, in the real world."
"And die," Pete finishes.
There's silence again. Then, "Mykes?" Myka turns to look at him but he stares up at the sky. "What did you dream about?"
"Helena," she admits quietly.
Helena lying beneath her, content and satiated at Myka's hand; Helena who knew Myka had forgiven her; Helena whose child Myka loved; Helena with whom she wanted to be happy.
Pete's gaze drops.
Myka swallows, tries to lighten the mood. "Then it got kind of weird. Think I time travelled."
Pete whistles appreciatively. He picks up a cookie, drops it back to the plate and folds his hands together. "You were screaming her name, near the end."
Myka bites her lip.
"I figured," she says hoarsely. She gets to her feet, steadying herself with the arm of the swing. She's still a little dizzy on her feet. "I'm going to head up to bed."
"Hey, Mykes." Myka turns to look at Pete. "I'm sorry." Myka nods. "At least – I mean. H.G.'s going to come back. She isn't dead."
The ghost of a smile flits across Myka's face. "When, Pete? How long am I supposed to wait?" Pete's jaw works and Myka smiles sadly, shaking her head. "Forget it. Good night."
This probably falls under the 'decent idea, executed poorly' category, for which I apologize. Suggestions for improvement are definitely welcomed.