Hello lovely people! This is my last installment of this story. :( But all good things must come to an end. Thanks again to Chinagirl18 and all of her wonderful beta reading throughout this story!
Disclaimer: I don't own Warehouse 13 or any of its characters, only this story.
(Steve's point of view.)
"Irene, I truly feel like the best thing for Claudia at this point is either for her to discontinue as a Warehouse agent or for us to intervene with an artifact," Abigail was saying.
Mrs. Frederick sighed. "I understand what you are saying."
I walked in on the conversation. "Mrs. Frederick, I just got through talking with Claudia. She just had another panic attack and she still isn't eating."
"Agent Jinks, good of you to join us. Then you also believe we need artifact intervention in order to keep Agent Donovan as a member of our team?"
"Have you considered perhaps that she would be better suited to a job without so much stress, something less demanding?"
"Not for a second."
"And why, may I ask, is that?"
"One, Claudia is future caretaker. The Warehouse chose her, and there's nothing any of us can do about that. Two, we need Claudia as a part of our team. Three, Claudia needs us as her family. She doesn't have anyone else. Isn't that enough reason for you?"
I almost thought I saw a smile on Mrs. Frederick's face. "Yes, it is. But I wanted to be sure you knew that this was the best option. Alright, I will have Agent Neilson start researching what may be of use to us."
It had been a week since Claudia arrived home, and she was not well. Though the nausea from her pain meds had gone away since she had stopped taking them, her pain from her broken ribs and concussion had ramped it up again. She had laid in bed all day, too pale and too quiet, not even passing the time on her laptop. She wasn't eating, sleeping, or talking, and I was so, so worried. I wasn't sure how long her tiny body could hold up under these conditions.
"Hey Claude, how about going for a walk?" I asked, walking through her open bedroom door. A bit too late I realized that there were tears rolling down her cheeks. "Hey, what's wrong?"
She shrugged her shoulders, face contorting, and I quickly sat down on the bed next to her, hugging her. The fact that I could feel her ribs and spine so easily scared the hell out of me, but I tried not to think about it.
"Did you have another panic attack?"
She nodded into my shoulder, uttering, "A few more."
Before I knew what was happening, tears were rolling down my own cheeks. I just wanted- no,needed my friend- best friend- to be okay. I had always cared about Claudia, but had never realized how much. I needed her just like she needed me. Backing up so I could look her in the face, I said, "Claude, we're looking into artifacts that could help with all this. Are you okay with that?"
"Really? Um, yeah I guess it's fine. I mean, I don't really want to be having panic attacks or not be eating or be an emotional basket case all of the time or..." She let her rambling fade. "Have you found anything yet?"
She looked down, and I could tell she was close to falling apart.
"Hey, we're going to find something. And things will get better. I know they will."
She looked up and took a deep breath. "Okay."
"So, would you want to take a walk?"
"Well, uh... I don't think I would hold up very well."
My heart pangs. "Okay. Do you need anything?"
"Nah, I'm good."
"What if I whipped you up some pancakes?"
"I'm not really hungry."
I tried not to look concerned as I left. I wanted to make her the pancakes, anyway. No doubt, she wouldn't eat them, but I had to try.
Sure enough, when I returned with the steaming stack of flapjacks, she smiled and thanked me, but it didn't really reach her eyes. She cut them up and pushed them around her plate, not eating anything. Later, I took the plate away and went back to the Warehouse. We had to find something to help her before it was too late.
A quick knock awoke Claudia from her sleep one morning a week and a half after the happenings in Wisconsin.
"Claude, wake up!" Pete exclaimed, bounding through the door. I followed, only slightly less excited.
"What the hell, Pete? Do you realize how hard it is for me to get sleep?" Claudia asked grouchily.
"This is worth it, Claude, I promise," I said from behind Pete, who was grinning broadly.
"Well, tell me!"
"We found artifacts that will help you."
Her eyes widened. "Which ones?"
"One is a worry stone from Ancient Greece. All you have to do is rub it when you're worried or feel anxiety coming on, and it should eradicate your panic attacks."
"Sick! What else?"
"Joseph Stalin's sleeping mask, for nights without nightmares."
"Nice, very nice."
"Stay away from the vodka, though."
"A knife from the Appalachian mountains, to 'cut the pain.'" Pete added, making air quotes.
"And finally, Julia Child's spatula, which increases appetite."
Claudia reached out her arms and I walked over to her bed and hugged her. "What would I do without you, Steve?"
"Hey, I helped too!" Pete grumbled.
"C'mere Pete," she said, pulling him into the hug. "Thanks guys."
"It will be good to have you back on the team, Agent Donovan." Mrs. Frederick spoke suddenly from behind them, causing all three to jump. A tiny smile crinkled the woman's eyes. "I must admit my relief at finding artifacts that can help you. However, there are a few conditions."
"What kind of conditions?"
"It is not my desire, nor the desire of the regents that self-medicating with artifacts becomes a habit," she said sternly.
"Of course not." I said, and Claudia nodded.
"So we'd like you to continue to talk with Abigail at least once a week to keep her informed of your state, and only use the artifacts as long as is necessary."
"Sure, that sounds reasonable."
"And you'll need to wait until you're sleeping and eating normally again before you go back out in the field."
"It will be good to have you back."
"Thanks, Mrs. Frederick."
Mrs. Frederick nodded and left.
"Well, I'm thinking we might need to try out the knife and Julia Child's spatula," Claudia said, a grin lighting her face in a way I hadn't seen in what seemed like forever. I handed her two static bags labeled with the artifacts' names and purposes, and she opened them one at a time, taking out the kitchen utensils and staring at them.
She squinted at them for a moment, and then her eyes widened. "Hey, my headache went away!"
"Yeah, and I need something with butter. Now," she said seriously.
I laughed and went downstairs to make her something. She was pretty weak from lack of nutrition, and hadn't been out of her bed besides trips to the bathroom.
Half an hour later, I arrived in her room carrying a tray with caramelized sweet potatoes and onions, bratwurst, a roll, a plate of cookies, a beer for her, and a beer for me.
"Geez Jinksy, you didn't have to go to all that trouble."
"I wanted to. I care about you a lot Claudia."
"I'm so glad my BFFEWYLION is going to be okay."
"You've never called me that before," she intoned, eyes wide.
"Well you are." I smiled at her as I gave her the tray and took my beer. "Cheers."
We clinked our bottles together and she ate her meal happily, chattering about getting to hunt artifacts again soon.
It had been a month since Claudia's run-in with her foster-father and she was finally returning to her former self. The color had returned to her face, her eyes had their sparkle back, and she was deadpanning just like old times. I still thought she was too thin, but she was eating again, and kept saying, "Lay off it, poopypants. I'm fine." She hadn't had to use the worry stone or Julia Child's spatula in a week, and was weaning herself off the Appalachian knife for her concussion.
Artie came in one morning announcing we had a ping, and Claudia and I would be going to New Mexico for a snag-and-bag. My counterpart shrieked excitedly.
"When do we leave?"
"As soon as you pack, which, because you're you, I'm sure will take hours."
"HA, think again, Mcgrumpypants!" She ran upstairs and came downstairs moments later with a packed leather suitcase.
"Eager to leave, are we?" Artie asked.
"Hells yeah. I've been dying to go on a ping this whole time!"
She tapped her foot impatiently as I packed, but her enthusiasm was contagious, and as we drove to the airport, we were both smiling and jamming to the Runaways. It was good to have her back.
Well, what did you think? Thanks for reading, and consider checking out some of my other stories!