Title: Rumor Has It
Author: phoenix-cry / applesandcherries
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters do not belong to me. You know the drill.
Summary: When she offered to chaperone Adelaide's school trip, Helena did not expect things to turn out the way they did. Now she has to make a decision that will not only affect her own life. Which path will she chose?
A/N: I'm not gonna lie – this was basically just an excuse to write kickass H.G. Because who doesn't like to see her be, well, kickass? ;) Those of you who have seen the Sherlock Holmes movies will probably notice that I got some inspiration for the fight from them.
Thanks to hearts-needabeat for the betawork! :D
"Adelaide, we've got to go, or we're going to be late!" Helena called up the stairs and spared another glance at her watch.
"Just a second!" The girl's muffled voice drifted down from her room, and the Brit sighed. Turning around, she saw Nate leaning against the doorframe, smirking at her impatience.
"I have no idea how you can be so relaxed! This is our first time as supervisors on one of Adelaide's school trips, and we are three minutes away from being late!"
Nate laughed softly at her and pushed away from the door. "Emily, relax. They won't drive off without us, and I'm sure we won't be the only ones getting there later than planned. It won't matter if we leave five minutes late."
Helena huffed. "Well, it matters to me. I prefer being punctual."
"I know you do, sweetie," he said and pressed a kiss to her cheek.
Adelaide chose that moment to come bounding down the stairs, her backpack hastily slung over one shoulder and her blonde ponytail bouncing behind her head.
"Alright, let's go!" she exclaimed and was already halfway out the door.
Shaking her head, with a small, amused smile on her lips, Helena followed after father and daughter.
As soon as they got out of the car at the school parking lot, they were swarmed by several twelve-year-olds. Adelaide's friends had already been waiting impatiently for her to arrive, it seemed.
"Addy! Finally! I've been saving your seat beside me on the bus!" Melanie, a girl with shoulder length light brown hair and brilliant green eyes exclaimed.
Adelaide smiled at her friend and gave her a hug. "Thanks, Mel! Emily made cookies yesterday and I saved some for you guys! I promise you, they're the best cookies you've ever tasted!" She promised the other girls and threw a smile over her shoulder at Helena, who smiled back.
"Awesome!" They exclaimed, and Helena resisted the urge to wince. She quite detested that word. There were so much more fitting words in the English language, after all.
"We can swoon over the cookies later, guys. Let's get on the bus now!" Nate urged the girls and they all scampered off, vanishing into the bus a few moments later.
The two adults were about to step on the bus as well, when they were stopped by two of Adelaide's teachers.
"Hi!" A woman around fifty greeted them with a smile, her blue eyes twinkling at them from behind dark-rimmed glasses. Her lean frame was dressed in casual jeans and a light sweater. "I'm Mary Thompson, I'm the kids' English and Biology teacher. This is Daniel Allen, he's one of the other parents who offered to supervise the trip today."
Beside her, a man in his late thirties was smiling at them, his brown eyes crinkling at the edges and his short, dark brown hair peppered with a few gray hairs here and there.
Nate stepped forward and shook first Mrs. Thompson's hand, before greeting Mr. Allen. "Hi, I'm Nate Mitchell, I'm Adelaide's dad. This is my girlfriend Emily Lake."
"Pleasure to meet you both," she said, smiling, and shaking their hands as well.
"Oh, it's so nice of you to join us on the trip." Mary exclaimed. "I'm sure we'll all have a splendid time!"
When the introductions over and done with, they finally got on the bus, the excited chatter of the kids filling their ears. Taking a seat in the front rows, they waited for Mary to take a headcount, before they were off, to the cheers of the children. Helena smiled and closed her eyes for a moment. She had missed that sound. A memory of her Christina tugged at her heart. How she wished her little girl could be here with them today. She was sure Adelaide and Christina would have gotten along brilliantly.
Directing her attention out the window, she watched the landscape roll passed them, and she let her mind wander.
It would take them a couple of hours to get to Lake Puckaway, after all.
The kid's excitement had the whole bus buzzing when they finally pulled into one of the lake's many parking lots. The warm July air wafted into the air-conditioned bus as soon as its doors opened, and Helena sighed happily. Without her light jacket it would have been quite chilly during the drive.
"Kids, not so fast!" Mary's voice filtered over the din of the children's voices as they got up off their seats and pushed towards the doors. "Slowly! You don't wanna break anything, do ya?" Helena had so suppress a smile when Mary sighed, exasperated, when she was basically ignored by her students. Getting up off her seat, she half turned around, put her fingers between her lips and whistled. Loudly.
Everybody froze, several pairs of eyes snapping in her direction and even Nate looked at her with wide eyes.
"You heard your teacher. Show some restraint like the grown up twelve-year-olds I know you are and leave the bus, slowly. And please, do wait outside and don't go wandering off."
They all nodded at her and obediently filtered out of the bus without pushing and pulling at each other.
"Thank you," Mary mouthed at her, after the last child had passed by her seat.
"No problem," she answered and moved to get out of the bus as well.
The plan for the day was to let the kids take a dip in the lake, if they wanted, or play on the large playground that had been set up by the lake. After that, a BBQ was in order, followed by taking a few boats out onto the lake itself. A campfire had also already been prepared.
Making their way over to the cabin they had booked for the day, the kids were soon off to play or swim, leaving the adults to start setting up the BBQ and keep an eye on them all.
The morning passed without incident, and soon noon rolled around. The first handful of students drifted back towards the cabin, lured back by the smell of lunch already sizzling on the grill.
A few minutes later, Mary called the rest of the children over, and soon they were all huddled around the large table, enjoying their food, the view, the fresh air and the sun on their faces.
The relative quiet of their lunch was soon broken, however, when a group of people came crashing through the trees surrounding the cabin.
Helena gasped when she recognized two of them at once.
And by the looks of it, they were in trouble.
A cry of protest went through the group of onlookers when one of the five thugs went at Myka with a right hook, sending her to the ground with a groan of pain that carried the distance towards them. And that was all that was needed to make Helena see red.
Pushing back from the table in one graceful move, she didn't care when her chair toppled over. Growling darkly, she took off towards the scuffle in a dead run, ignoring Adelaide and Nate's cries to come back.
The guy who had dared to punch Myka was just preparing to take another hit when Helena appeared before him, dark eyes glittering with deadly intent. She easily blocked his hit with her left arm, and in the same breath whacked his adam's apple with the side of her hand, making him gasp for breath. Helena blocked another wild swing with her elbow. Weakening his jaw with her elbow in the same move, she then combined it with another hit, breaking his jawbone with a resounding crack. He howled in pain. Not even blinking, she sent him crashing to the ground with a punch to his solar plexus.
In the corner of her eye, she saw another thug approaching, having seen his buddy go down. She smoothly sidestepped him, took a shot between his shoulder blades and with the help of his own forward momentum, she sent him tumbling after his colleague. Knowing he wouldn't be staying down for long, she quickly turned her attention to a third annoyance. Before he could react, H.G. had already landed a round-house kick to his jaw, dislocating it. A quick hit to the side of his neck sent him staggering. Helena crouched down and round, swinging out her leg and swiping the guy's legs out from under him. He joined his buddies on the ground, wheezing.
Baddy number two had found his footing again in the meantime. Using her position on the ground to her advantage, she grabbed a handful of lose dirt in her fist. Shooting upwards, she distracted him with throwing the dirt at his face. He grunted and squeezed his eyes shut. Blocking his blind jab, she counted with a cross to his left cheek. Swinging the palms of her hands forward, she pounded them over his ears, dazing him. His arm took a wild hit at her, which she easily blocked as well and countered with a body shot to his ribs, cracking them. With another powerful hit, she broke them. He staggered backwards, which H.G. used to place a kick to his diaphragm. Flowing backwards from the momentum of her kick, he crashed against a tree a couple of feet away, unconscious.
Turning around, she saw that thugs numbers four and five had been apprehended by Myka and Pete, who had then stepped back and watched her work, eyes wide in amazement.
Taking a calming breath, she stepped towards her former colleagues. "Are you alright?" she asked them both, concern seeping through her calm facade, but her eyes were directed solely at Myka. Her hand came up to gently grasp at Myka's chin, turning her face to see if serious damage had been made.
"I'm fine," Myka whispered, her heart beating double, but not from the fight. Helena's touch, so sudden and unexpected – just as her appearance – sent her thoughts and body into a tailspin.
She shuddered slightly when Helena's thumb softly swiped over her cheek. "It will bruise, but nothing is broken," she declared, relieved.
"Th-thanks for your help, Helena."
Their gazes met, tangled, and held each other for several long moments.
And then Pete broke their trance. "Yes, I'm fine as well, thank you for asking," he joked, having become uncomfortable with the obvious sexual tension between the two women.
Snapping out of it, Helena dropped her hand as if she had been burned and took a step backwards, leaving Myka's personal space. She tried to ignore the chill that the distance had brought with it.
"What are you doing here, H.G.?" Pete asked, eyebrow raised and bouncing on his feet.
"I am playing chaperone for the day," she states, pointing a thumb over her shoulder to where she knows everyone is still staring at the three of them. "Adelaide's class is having a day trip, and Nate and I offered to supervise." Helena tried to ignore the way Nate's name seemed to burn her throat, and how Myka's eyes seemed to dim a little at the mention of his name.
Helena silently cursed herself in her head.
"Ah. Right. How, uh, how are they?"
"I'd reckon a bit shocked right now, but otherwise, they're fine. Thanks for asking." She paused a second before voicing her own question. "What are you two doing here? Being chased by these despicable thugs, of all things."
Pete grinned a bit. "It seems their employer is not happy with us for wanting to take his very profitable income from him."
At Helena's narrowed eyebrows, Myka elaborated a bit more. "Julian Stryker is a business man with a shady past and a company built on an artifact's power. Apparently, it had been an heirloom and he is not quite willing to give it up. It bestows good fortune on its user, but the downside is that people around him are stolen of their own luck and left miserable."
"I see. Have you got an eye on the artifact so far?"
"For a minute, yes. And then those guys were chasing us out of the office when their boss caught on to us."
"I guess it was bad luck that they caught us so soon." Pete added and Myka rolled her eyes at his bad joke.
"Not funny, Pete. Not funny at all."
"I do believe it is wise to keep the joking until after you've snagged the artifact, Peter."
"Alright, alright. Chill, ladies." He held his palms up in surrender. "Will it ever get easier with you two ganging up on me?"
"I do not think so, no."
The two women shared a quick smile, before it faded away.
"I...should get back to the kids."
"Oh, yeah. Okay. Sure." Myka babbled, trying to mask her disappointment. Studying the ground beneath her feet, she scratched her neck nervously.
She didn't see Helena looking at her intently, her brain obviously trying to figure something out.
Once more stepping closer to the curly haired woman, she ignored the gazes burning into her back, as well as Pete's presence beside them.
"Myka," she murmured, willing the other woman to meet her eyes. "Myka, look at me?"
Eventually, the agent followed her request, and Helena swallowed hard at the tears she saw swimming in those brilliant green eyes.
"I will come back."
Myka's brows furrowed in confusion, but Helena caught the spark of hope in her eyes.
"I'll come back to...to the warehouse." She stated, surprising not only Myka and Pete, but also herself. Where had that come from? She was on a school trip with her boyfriend and his daughter, for God's sake. She should be happy where she was. But that was just it. She wasn't happy. She was content, yes, but not happy. Her happy place was standing right before her. And if she was honest with herself, this had been a long time coming.
"I mean...not right now. But...soon."
A tear escaped Myka's eyes and her voice sounded smaller than Helena had ever heard it. It broke her heart. "You promise?"
Not wasting any more time, Helena swept her into a tight hug, burrowing her face in Myka's locks. "I promise," she whispered, and her words caused a shudder to go through the agent, before she fully relaxed into her arms.
"It's about time." Myka mumbled, and Helena laughed.
"I know, darling. I honestly don't know how you still put up with me."
"You know why, Helena. You're a genius, you must have figured that out by now."
Taking half a step back in order to meet her eyes, Helena smiled gently at the other woman. "I know. But I can't wait to actually hear you say it."
"Well, get your British butt back to the warehouse, and it'll be the first thing I'll say," Myka teased, but Helena knew she was also being serious, causing her heart to miss a beat.
"Righty-ho, then," she quipped, letting the taller woman slip out of her arms. "You should get back to work then, Agent Bering. These thugs will not cuff themselves. And that artifact will not bag itself, either."
Pete groaned. "You sound like Artie, you know?"
Helena laughed, but refrained from commenting. Instead, she met Myka's eyes again for a long second. Giving her hand a last squeeze, she backed away, making her way slowly back towards the group by the cabin.
Halfway there, Adelaide crashed into her and threw her arms around Helena's waist.
"Emily! Are you okay? That was so awesome! I wanna be able to fight like that! You totally kicked their butts!"
Chuckling, Helena hugged the girl back. "I'm fine, Adelaide. And you will, if you keep training. Just remember to never misuse your skills."
"I know. I won't!"
Swinging her arm playfully over the girl's shoulder, she gently nudged her closer against her side. "Let's go, kiddo." Adelaide giggled and fell in step with her. As soon as they had reached the rest of the group, Nate stepped forward, an inquisitive eyebrow raised.
"I should probably say that I'm not surprised, but that would be a lie. Care to explain where that came from?"
"Years, and years of training, darling," she stated in a voice that made it clear that her answer should have been obvious.
"Well, yeah. That's not what I meant."
She raised her eyebrow at him. "Then what did you mean?"
"You..." He paused and took a deep breath, lowering his voice, "you looked like you were ready to tear that one guy's head off, Emily."
Her eyes narrowed, remembering how she had watched the man's fist connect with Myka's cheek, and how she had watched her crumble to the ground under the force of the blow.
Her voice took on an icy tone. "No man should ever lay a hand on a woman or a child, and if he does, he will get what he deserves." With that, she sat back down and finished her – now cold – lunch, leaving everyone to stare at her in wonder.
The rest of the day, and the trip back home, had been filled with whispers and not-so-sneaky glances directed at her.
Some kids apparently thought she was a spy.
Others insisted she was ex-military, now forced into the witness protection program, in order to keep her hidden from the enemies she had made on one of her covert missions.
Helena actually found their ideas quite amusing and entertaining. It made for a less boring drive back to the school.
Beside her, Nate also kept throwing her curious glances. After Myka and Pete had shown up in Boone to snag, bag and tag the Hyena jawbone, it had been inevitable to fill him in on some details of her former life. Of course, she had not revealed anything to do with the warehouse. But she had certainly whet his curiosity.
Eventually, Helena had had enough. Her gaze remaining directed outside the window, she softly asked, "What?"
She could feel Nate jump a little bit at the unexpected question.
"Uh. Well...any of those rumors true, then?" He tried to joke, halfheartedly.
Helena's lips curled into a small smirk. "I can assure you I am neither a spy, nor am I ex-military."
"Then what are you?"
"Can't a woman be proficient in martial arts without being some kind of master assassin?" She asked, having trouble keeping her voice calm and quiet. Once again, her old annoyance at mankind's unwillingness to see the greater picture started to rise to the surface.
"Wow, no! Hey, I didn't say that. I was simply curious to learn more about you, that's all."
Helena was aware that the rest of the bus had suddenly grown very quiet. It seemed everybody else was just as eager to learn more about her.
She would have to disappoint them.
Turning her face shortly in his direction, she looked at him with something akin to regret shadowing her face. "I'm sorry, Nate. I can't tell you anything more than I already did."
With that, she turned back towards the window.
Exactly three days later found Helena pulling up in front of a very familiar building. Turning off the engine of her rented car, she took the opportunity to press her hands into the small of her back and stretch her aching and tired muscles. The ten hour drive had left her exhausted, not to mention the uncomfortable conversation she'd had with Nate after they had returned from the trip. Helena's second run-in with Myka had finally managed to open her eyes, and it had become quite clear to her that her place was not in Boone, in a suburban home, with the white picket fence. A part of her would always hold Nate and Adelaide – especially Adelaide – close to her heart, but a bigger part of her was pulling her in a different direction. All the lies she'd had to tell them hadn't been productive to a family life, either. So she had packed her bags, rented a car, and left that quiet, normal life behind her.
And after the last few days, all she wanted was a hot shower, but more importantly, to lay eyes on a certain gorgeous warehouse agent again.
Getting out of the car, she quickly grabbed her suitcase out of the trunk, before making her way up the path to the B&B's front door.
It was early evening on a Sunday, which meant that the agents should be at home, if no urgent ping had gotten in the way of their free day.
Taking a deep breath, the inventor steeled herself, before knocking on the door.
It didn't take long for the sound of footsteps to be heard inside, and a few seconds later, the door swung open to reveal a red-headed young woman.
"Oh my God, H.G.!" Claudia squealed, and before Helena could react, the younger woman had already enveloped her in a tight hug.
The hacker's yell of delight had been enough to make the other agents come running.
"It's about time!" Pete exclaimed. "You took your sweet time, old lady!"
Gently pushing Claudia out of the way, he then took her place, embracing Helena in a welcoming hug.
To say that the author was surprised by this welcome would have been an understatement. Hesitantly returning the hug, a small, happy smile flitted about her lips. Clearing her throat, she quipped, "Yes, well, it would appear your scientists are taking their sweet time with developing an engine that is suitable for letting your cars levitate. I guess I will have to start on that first thing. As it is, a drive from Boone to Univille will still take nearly half a day."
Pete chuckled and stepped back. "Good to know your ego is still intact."
"I don't think it's at all possible to rid her of her ego." Artie grumbled, and looked at her over the rim of his glasses. A small smile then appeared on his lips. "Still, I guess that can be useful to have around."
Cocking her head, she smirked at him. "I've missed you, too, Artie."
"Yes, well, I don't think that'll keep for long."
"You're probably right," she agreed, still smiling.
"Good to have you back, H.G." Steve was next to welcome her. "It's always nice to have an extra set of hands around here."
"Thank you, Steve. It's good to be back."
"Oh, H.G." Claudia chimed in, "This is Abigail Cho. She's the new owner of the B&B."
Helena turner her attention to a pretty Asian woman, who had so far remained quiet. "A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Cho."
"It's Abigail, please. And the pleasure is all mine. I would never have thought to get to meet the great H.G. Wells, after all!" She laughed.
Before Helena could reply, the front door at her back opened again, and a certain curly haired agent stumbled in. Busy rifling through some folders clutched in her arms, she didn't look up before she asked, "Hey, whose car is it outside in the driveway?"
"That would be mine, darling."
Myka's head snapped up and the folders tumbled to the ground. "Helena!"
"Hello, Myka." She said, a bit unsure of herself, now that she was face to face with the actual reason for her return.
"Finally!" Myka whispered, and then she stumbled forwards and collapsed into the former Victorian's arms. It didn't take long for H.G. to melt into her embrace.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to realize how bloody foolish I was," she mumbled into the taller woman's shoulder.
Myka hugged her tighter. "All that counts is that you are here now. And, well. Just promise me you won't leave again? Because I don't think I'd be able to stand that."
"I promise you, Myka." H.G. whispered hoarsely, pressing the younger woman closer to her, trying to convey how serious she was. For once, it seemed, elaborate words just wouldn't come to her.
"Good." Reluctantly stepping back, Myka held out her hand. "Let's get you something to eat."
"Let me gather those files first, darling." Helena smiled and quickly crouched down to sort the scattered files back into a resemblance of order.
"Oh, no, you don't need to!" Myka protested, but it was already too late. H.G. straightened to her full height again and set the papers onto the side table by the door.
"Now, what were you saying about food, darling? I'm simply starving!"
"I'm sure we can fix you a quick snack. If Pete hasn't already devoured them all, there should still be some cookies from Artie's latest batch!"
"Uh, yeah, about that..." Pete started, and everybody groaned. "Hey, I was hungry!"
"You're always hungry, Pete!"
Helena slightly hung back and listened to their bickering as the group moved into the kitchen.
With a happy smile, she looked around the B&B, soaking in the atmosphere.
Myka's voice calling her name caught her attention and she turned to look at the other woman. "I just remembered I broke a promise to you."
"Yeah," Myka nodded and came over to loosely wrap her arms around the smaller woman's slim waist. Leaning her forehead against Helena's she whispered, "I promised you those three little words would be the first you'd hear from me when you got back, and obviously, that's not the case anymore, but nonetheless, I don't want to keep them from you."
Helena's heart thudded hard in her chest, nearly bursting in anticipation.
"I love you."
And for the first time in over a hundred years, H.G. Wells was absolutely certain that she was right where she belonged.