"Claudia, would you check and see that the Folmer/Chapin grid isn't off-line, please. Claudia?"
Artie looked up from his desk as Myka walked into the office rubbing at the side of her neck. He pushed his glasses up onto the top of his head and raised an eyebrow at her.
"Claudia is down on the floor of the Warehouse cataloguing the works of Anne Hathaway, and there's nothing wrong with the grid."
"Well, something bit me - wait, wait." Myka's hand dropped from her neck as her eyes widened. "Unless you're talking about the actress and somehow I doubt that you are... Are you serious?"
"Of course," Artie told her, leaning back in his chair. "We have quite the collection of so-called lost works - 'On Sphere-Making', 'Hermocrates', the Gospel of Eve. Unfortunately we're still looking for the one hundred forty-second book of 'Ab urbe condita libri' but I'm sure it'll turn up eventually."
Myka's eyes had continued widening as Artie listed titles - somehow it had never actually occurred to her that the Warehouse was a bibliophile's dream. What her father wouldn't give for the opportunity to look through the archives... The sting in the side of her neck where she was sure something vicious must have bitten her went forgotten.
"I think I'll, ah, go and see if Claudia needs any help," she said vaguely, mind already busy with thoughts of what treasures she might find.
"Go ahead," Artie told her, returning his attention to his desk and frowning at it. What had he done with his glasses? He was sure he'd had them just a moment ago.
Myka almost skipped out of the office. Perhaps she'd be able to find a copy of 'Cardenio'.
She didn't, but she did find a transcript of 'Love's Labour's Won'. After a little soul-searching she decided that taking it home with her to read would be fine. After all, she wasn't going to hurt it and she was going to put it back when she was done and it was Shakespeare. Which, in her eyes, made the simple act of sneaking a bit of literature out of the Warehouse completely justifiable. (Artie seemed to share her views because when she walked past him later with the folio casually tucked under one arm he just rolled his eyes and told her to put it back when she was done with it.)
That evening found her curled up in an armchair, reading light pulled close to her shoulder, absorbed in the script. The bite or whatever it was on her neck was still irritating her, and she kept finding her hand creeping up to the side of her neck to scratch at it. She knew perfectly well that scratching wouldn't help, but with her mind absorbed by the script she couldn't seem to stop herself. Finally, with an exasperated sound, she sat on her hand, balancing the folio somewhat precariously on her knee with her other hand.
Her loud sigh of annoyance drew the attention of the other occupant of the room. Helena looked up from her own book, eyebrow quirking upwards.
"Is your reading matter not to your taste, darling?" She enquired mildly.
"Hm?" Myka looked up and blushed, removing her hand from underneath her thigh and shrugging. "Oh, no, it's not that. Something bit me earlier and the itching is driving me mad."
She lifted her hair back over her shoulder and tilted her head to one side, showing a irritated area of skin with a small red pin-prick wound in the centre. Helena had risen from her chair when Myka explained, and crossed the room. Now standing next to Myka's chair, she leaned forward to see the side of Myka's neck in the light cast by the lamp.
"I have some lavender oil," she said, tilting Myka's chin gently to one side. "That should stop the worst of the itching, if you would like."
Myka shivered at the touch of Helena's fingers on her face. That happened a lot - especially as Helena was quite the tactile person - but the urge to lean into her touch had never been as strong as it was just then. It was so strong that when Helena took her hand away Myka actually swayed slightly towards her before catching herself with a blush that she hoped went unseen.
"Yes, please," she said, voice slightly hoarse, and cleared her throat. "If you wouldn't mind."
"It's upstairs," Helena told her. "I shall be back in just a moment."
As she left the room, Myka stared after her. What had that been about? For a moment there, before Helena took her hand away, Myka actually thought the other woman might have been about to kiss her. Not only that, but she would have let her. Wanted her to, even. She looked down at the folio on her knee, not even seeing the words on the papers, wondering instead at what was going through here head.
She wanted Helena. There was something more than simple aesthetic appreciation behind the way she found her gaze drawn to the other woman - but why was she suddenly so affected by her? Her train of thought was broken off when Helena came back into the room, a small brown glass bottle of essential oil in one hand.
"Lavender oil," she said with a smile. "I always use it for insect bites - something took a good nibble on me earlier so it was still out on my desk."
She returned to her spot next to Myka's chair, and instinctively Myka lifted her chin and tilted her head to give the other woman better access to her neck. Her heart was hammering as if at any moment it would beat it's way right out of her chest and she couldn't breathe. It was as if, having acknowledged the extent of her desire for the other woman, it had doubled and redoubled itself.
Helena dripped a little of the lavender oil onto her index finger and smoothed it gently over the reddened skin on the side of Myka's neck. The sweet smell of the floral oil rose into the room, threading around them. Lavender, Myka remembered dimly, was an aphrodisiac (amongst it's many other properties), but that didn't explain this.
Helena's fingers lingered on her neck after the oil had been applied, and she seemed to be about to say something, Myka twisted her head a little to look at her properly. She was avoiding her gaze, cheeks flushed. Her eyes seemed almost black - was it just the lighting, or were her pupils really that dilated? Suddenly feeling a little more in control, Myka took a deep breath, but before she could say anything, Helena leaned forward and pressed their lips together.
Myka barely had time to register the kiss before Helena was spinning on one heel and almost running out of the room. She blinked and raised one hand to her mouth, pressing her fingers over the spot where Helena's lips had been. She could still feel the kiss there, as if it had been permanently marked onto her skin. For a moment she actually wondered if she fallen asleep and dreamed the whole thing, but the sweet scent of lavender gave the lie to that idea.
Now what was she supposed to do?
She didn't stay sitting in the chair for very long. Perhaps ten minutes passed while she sat there, staring across the room, fingers still pressed to her mouth. Then she gave a muttered oath and stood up, closing the wallet and putting it down carefully on the table. She might be in a hurry but that was no excuse to damage something that was utterly irreplaceable.
She was fairly certain that she had heard Helena going upstairs. That was good, because if the other Agent had left the guest-house she wasn't quite sure where she would start a search for her - and she wasn't going to let what had just happened go un-remarked. Myka could be single-minded in her pursuit of things, whether that was a case or a woman, and she wasn't letting Helena get away from her.
Still, as she mounted the stairs she could feel her nerves growing heavier with every tread. Perhaps Helena had changed her mind - maybe she wished she hadn't kissed Myka at all. She wasn't sure if she could cope with that - having everything she wanted waved under her nose only to be snatched away just as she realised how delicious is was. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. She was being ridiculous. They were both adults, they could talk this - whatever 'this' was - over reasonably.
Coming to Helena's door, she paused for a moment, taking a deep breath, before setting her knuckles to the wood and giving a sharp rap. There was a moment's silence, and then Helena's voice came from inside. She sounded... upset.
"Yes, who is it?"
"It's Myka. Could I please come in?"
There was a long silence during which Myka shifted nervously from one foot to the other, and then she heard movement inside the room. Helena opened the door and stood there, one hand holding onto the door frame, the other still clutching the door-handle. It was as if she were protecting her space, and Myka wondered if she knew that she was doing it or if it was purely subconscious.
"What.." She stopped and Myka could see the muscles of her throat moving as she swallowed. "What brings you to my humble abode?"
Her tone was light-hearted but seemed forced, and Myka could see the tension in her face.
"You know what," she said quietly, hoping that this wasn't what it seemed. That these weren't the actions of a woman who wished she could take back what she had done. Even if it was, though, they still needed to talk, to clear the air between them. Things had the potential to get very awkward.
"Can I please come in?" She tried again, stepping into Helena's personal space.
Helena flushed and stepped backwards, hand falling from the door frame. She sighed and nodded, moving one arm back to usher Myka into the room.
"By all means," she said resignedly. "Please, come in."
Myka walked into the room, and Helena followed her, crossing the the other side of the room. She took up a stance leaning against the wall, arms crossed in front of her, the very picture of withdrawal. Myka sighed. Helena wasn't going to make this easy.
"Look," she started, just as Helena spoke.
"I'm sorry -"
They laughed together, a little of the tension broken by their simultaneous speech.
"You go first," Myka said, waving for Helena to go ahead. She sat down on the end of the bed, wanting more than anything to cross the room but feeling it was perhaps best to let Helena get whatever was bothering her off her chest first.
"I'm sorry for what I did," Helena said, looking down at her boots. "It was inappropriate and I promise that it will not happen again."
Myka pursed her lips. Well, it was a start. At least Helena wasn't saying that she hadn't meant to kiss her. Just that it was 'inappropriate', whatever that meant.
"Inappropriate?" She asked. "How so?" She deliberately kept her tone light, even if what she really wanted to do was leap across the room and shake the other woman for being a melodramatic idiot.
"We work together," Helena said helplessly. "And you're not - I don't..." She trailed off and looked sideways, a dark blush staining her cheeks. Myka couldn't help but be charmed.
Helena was usually so together, so confident, that it was endearing to see her at a loss for words. But what had happened to the easy flirtation? Why had Helena suddenly become so coy? After all, she had been the one to kiss Myka. Myka frowned slightly, but then she realised what the problem was. Of course. Helena had kissed her - and that changed everything. The flirtation had been easy because it had been meaningless, easily dismissed as nothing more than banter. But a kiss - that meant something. It couldn't be misunderstood.
"I'm not what?" She asked, knowing what it was that Helena was trying to say but wanting to hear the other woman say it anyway.
"You're not interested!" Helena said loudly, almost angrily, looking straight at Myka for the first time since she had walked into the room. The cross expression slid off her face, though, when she saw how Myka was looking at her.
There was no censure in her face, no insulted pout. Instead, her lips were slightly parted in a soft smile, head tilted just a little to one side. Helena's anger - at herself, at Myka, at everything - slid away when confronted with that expression.
"I think you should probably ask me before leaping to conclusions," Myka told her, and stood up, walking slowly across the room.
Helena's fingers tightened on her ribs as Myka advanced towards her. She wanted to unfold her arms and reach out to the other woman, but she couldn't make herself do it. She was too afraid that what she thought she could see in the other woman's face wasn't really there. That it was her imagination playing tricks on her. She wasn't sure, sometimes, what was real and what wasn't. A hundred years inside her own mind had left it a little difficult to tell what came from inside and what was truly there on the outside.
Her confusion only lasted for a moment though, because then Myka was standing in front of her, reaching out to take her hands. She let her arms relax, letting Myka pull them away from her sides until their hands were clasped between them. Myka's thumbs ran softly over the insides of Helena's wrists, the movement soothing.
"Why don't you?" Myka asked softly, standing so close now that Helena could feel her breath caressing her cheeks as she spoke.
Helena blinked, confused for a moment. Why didn't she what? She cast her mind back over their conversation, and remembered the last thing Myka had said before she had stood up from the end of the bed. Oh. She swallowed, hard, and wet her lips, mouth feeling suddenly dry.
"You're not - I mean," she corrected herself hastily, reminding herself that jumping to conclusions was what had got her into this mess in the first place. Well, that and her libido. "Are you? Interested?"
"I wouldn't do this if I weren't," Myka said, leaning in to close the last distance between them, pressing their lips together.
This time, the kiss wasn't over as soon as it had begun. Myka whimpered lightly at the first brush of their lips together, her fingers tightening convulsively on Helena's slender wrists. Helena, pressed back against the wall by Myka's body, her hands still held between them, answered the whimper with a gasp of her own.
Myka's hands left Helena's wrists to slide along her cheeks, fingers threading into the dark silken strands of her hair. Freed, Helena wrapped her arms around Myka's waist, pulling them even closer together. In another situation, trapped against a wall, she might have panicked. Now, the weight of Myka's body against her own was comforting and the solid presence of the wall behind her the only thing stopping her knees from buckling.
Neither of them could have said how long the kiss lasted - it could have been hours. In reality, it was only a few minutes before they reluctantly pulled apart, Myka resting her forehead on Helena's, eyes closed.
"I think," she said breathlessly, "that we've established that I'm in no way 'not interested', right?"
Helena chuckled weakly. "I don't know," she said, "I think perhaps I need a little more convincing."
Myka laughed and swatted her lightly on the arm, glad that Helena felt comfortable enough to make jokes about the situation. She had been worried about the rest of Helena's problem with the kiss - that as colleagues, it was inappropriate for them to pursue a relationship. There were many Warehouse agents who had been in committed relationships with other agents, it was almost the norm for them to... Wait.
Where had that thought come from?
Helena didn't miss the sudden tension that ran through Myka's body, and she pulled back from their embrace - as much as she was able to - to look at the other woman. Myka's face was drawn, a light worry line appearing between her eyebrows. That wasn't a good sign.
"What's the matter, darling?" She asked, trepidation apparent in her voice.
"I'm not sure," Myka confessed, mirroring the movement and retreating a little, although not so far that they weren't still embracing. "What are we doing, Helena?"
She bit lightly on her lower lip, not knowing what it was that she wanted Helena to say. She didn't think she could stand it if the other woman told her that this meant nothing. That it was just some sort of physical infatuation. It was insane. This morning, Helena Wells had been the mysterious, intriguing woman who had come so dramatically into their lives. Now, she was - what? Something had changed, Myka would be crazy to deny it, but she still wasn't sure what it was.
Helena still hadn't answered, and Myka desperately needed to know how she felt.
"Do you feel anything for me at all?" She whispered, afraid of what she might hear. Afraid that Helena felt nothing - afraid that she felt everything. She didn't know which was more terrifying.
Helena smiled slightly.
"Anything at all?"
Myka bit her lip again as Helena tilted her head to one side.
"Oh, my darling. Do I feel anything - I feel everything."
Myka's breath caught in her throat, and the world seemed to tilt crazily around her at Helena's next words.
"I love you."
The world only span for a moment, but when everything settled down it was as if, in that second of turbulence, something had subtly changed. The world would never be the same again. Helena loved her. Of course. Of course she did. Helena loved her, and she loved Helena - it was all so simple. Why hadn't she seen it before?
Helena was looking at her, worried, and Myka smiled at her, the brilliance of her smile wiping out any worries the other woman had.
"Of course you do," she said. "And I love you, Helena, I don't know why I didn't see it before."
It was so simple.
It didn't matter that their lives were complicated, that their life experiences were so different, that there could be so many problems. The only thing that mattered was that they loved each other - everything else was secondary to that. After all, a thousand poets couldn't be wrong.
Helena's eyes were starry.
She pushed away from the wall, hands finding Myka's waist as their lips met in another kiss. This kiss was as different from their second as their second had been from their first. No tentativeness from either of them now, no more holding back. Their second kiss had been tender, testing. This was a ravenous devouring of each other.
Somehow, they crossed the room. The backs of Myka's calves hit the edge of the bed, the sudden halt sending them both tumbling onto the mattress, sprawled inelegantly over the coverlet. Neither of them cared how they looked though - they only cared for the tangle of limbs and the press of lips, the insistent caress of fingers.
Helena was on top, one knee drawn up next to Myka's hip, the other thigh resting between Myka's. Myka had wrapped one slender calf over Helena's stretched-out leg and her hands were clutching Helena's hips, half of her fingers on fabric, the others pressing into smooth skin. Helena's lips drifted away from Myka's mouth, and Myka gave a whimpering complaint, quickly silenced when Helena found her pulse point, nuzzling into the tender skin under her jaw.
The whimper died away into a breathy gasp as her head tilted back to allow Helena better access. Helena's mouth was soft and wet and hot on her skin and Myka didn't think she'd ever been so turned on by something so simple before. She slipped her hands under the edge of Helena's shirt, skimming her palms over the other woman's back. Helena arched her back into the touch but when Myka's fingers found the clasp of her bra, she pulled back.
Her eyes were dark, pupils dilated wide with need, and she was breathing heavily. Her lips were wet and red, and her cheeks were flushed. She braced one hand on either side of Myka's head, her hair hanging down around her face, tousled and wild. She looked glorious. Myka's brows drew together a little as she looked up at Helena, wondering why she had stopped.
"Are you sure, darling?" Helena asked, voice husky with desire. "Is this not all happening a little fast?"
"Yes," Myka said. "No. I - I don't know." She was having difficulty mustering her thoughts - how was she supposed to think coherently when Helena was so close and she looked like that.
"'I don't know'," Helena said, "means the same as 'no'. If you are unsure, then this is happening to quickly."
She climbed off Myka and sat on the edge of the bed, smiling down at Myka who was pouting, disappointed. Yet at the same time, she was relieved - Helena was right, it was all a little fast. It wasn't that she didn't want the other woman. She did, more than she had ever wanted anyone before. She just didn't want Helena to think badly of her. Worse, she didn't want Helena to think that was all this was about - sex. Because it wasn't.
Myka sat up, smiling ruefully at Helena.
"You're right," she said, and she didn't miss the split-second expression of sadness that slid across behind Helena's eyes before she schooled it away.
She reached out and ran one hand gently over Helena's cheek. Helena's eyes fluttered half-closed as she leaned a little into the caress, and Myka couldn't resist the urge to allow her hand to continue into Helena's hair, slipping through the soft strands. She was developing an obsession with that hair, she thought.
"You deserve more," she said, and now it was turn for Helena's brows to draw together in confusion. "You should be courted," she said, blushing a little at the sentimentality of what she was saying.
"Just because I was born in the nineteeth century does not mean that you need to treat me like fine china," she said.
"That's not what I meant," Myka hastened to explain, fumbling for the words that would express what she meant. "I don't want to rush things - I want us to enjoy everything. I want," and here her blush deepened even more, "I want to seduce you."
Helena's gaze intensified.
"Darling," she drawled, "your very presence is more seductive than you can possibly know."
Myka looked away shyly, throbbing at the realisation that Helena felt the same way as she did. It was torture sitting here without touching her.
"So," Myka said, "shall we take this slowly? Savour it?"
"I would like that," Helena told her, slipping a little closer to her, until their thighs were pressing together. "That doesn't mean that I can't do this, though, does it?"
As she spoke, she leaned in towards Myka, until her last words ghosted over Myka's lips like the promise of a kiss. She hovered there, a mere hair's breadth away from kissing her.
"Not at all," Myka breathed, her words lost as she caught Helena's mouth with her own.
When they parted for the night, it was with soft touches and hushed goodbyes that turned into lingering kisses. It took them several attempts to bid each other goodnight before they finally took their reluctant leave of each other, and Myka returned to her room. She dropped down onto her own bed with a goofy smile on her face, hugging her arms around herself. It was going to be hard to sleep - already, she felt as if Helena should be weighing down the mattress next to her and the subtle absence of her weight just felt wrong. But they had all the time in the world for that.
The next morning, Helena kept shooting her coy glances across the breakfast table. Myka flushed, unable to respond with everyone else at the table. Her flush became absolutely scarlet when she felt Helena's stocking-clad foot curl around her ankle, running lightly up and down her calf. She shot the other woman a glare that was not as disapproving as she would have liked it to be. It was hard to aim a censuring stare at Helena when the action of her foot was causing pleasurable tingles to run up her spine.
She was so caught up in Helena - and Helena was equally caught up in her - that neither of them noticed the triumphant smirk that settled across Claudia's fatures.
It was hard – taking things slowly. It was torture, not to be able to touch each other the way that they wanted to, but it was exquisite torture. They were in an ecstasy of desire for each other, every moment they spent apart painful but every moment together a hundred times more so. It was worth it, though – every time they touched was so intense, Myka thought that she would almost die. Suddenly, she understood what she had only read about before. She thought she had been in love before – she hadn't. She had loved, but she hadn't been in love.
There was so much that they had to talk about, so much to learn about each other. They spent long evenings curled up together, sharing stories, hopes, dreams – and nightmares. Helena broke down in her arms more than once, as if all of the tears that had been trapped inside her for so long were escaping all at once.
She wasn't loud. In fact she was almost silent, burrowed into Myka's shoulder and just struggling to breathe against the force of her tears. Myka didn't know what to say. There was nothing she could say. She couldn't possibly even begin to imagine what Helena had been through, what it was like to be trapped inside your own mind like that. Silent, cold, your own nightmares the only things keeping you company.
She had thought Helena was impermeable. Thought that nothing could hurt her. She hadn't realised that Helena hurt more than she could show, that her impregnable surface was an act. A faultless act, but still an act. She should have realised – she had read the other woman's work. Those were not the words of someone who was hard, or unfeeling. Someone who didn't feel things deeply – perhaps even too deeply – could never have written like that.
Because there was nothing she could say that would not be trite and meaningless, she chose to say nothing. She held Helena against her, willing her heartbeat to be strong and steady, hoping that perhaps it's sound might be somehow comforting. If her own eyes held tears, she didn't mention them, and she would not, could not, allow herself to cry.
Sometimes, the tears lasted only a few minutes. On one occasion, it was daylight before Helena had cried herself into a dreamless sleep and Myka was left staring over the top of her head, eyes sandy and raw. She only hoped that she could be enough.
The tears and nightmares only came at night. During the day, Helena was the same cheerful, confident woman, but she no longer hid the quiet sadness that sometimes came into her eyes. She was, perhaps, a little softer, less abrasive. Even Artie commented on it, although of course he had to spoil the moment by wondering – although he did at least have the decency to mutter his suspicions under his breath – just what scheme Helena was working on that had her so cheerful.
He shut up the second Myka fixed him with a glare, throwing his hands up in the air in surrender. He had been informed in no uncertain terms that none of them – Pete, Claudia, Myka, Leena – would hear a word said against Helena, and he had agreed to keep his insinuations to himself. For the most part, he managed, albeit with rather bad grace, and the atmosphere was much less fraught around the office and guest house as a result.
He was, of course, not impressed by the development in Myka and Helena's relationship, but the threat of actual physical violence he saw in Myka's eyes the one time he attempted to bring up the subject reduced him to silence. He reported his suspicions to Mrs Frederick, of course, but she simply laughed, and told him that he had nothing to worry about. Unsurprisingly, this had absolutely no effect.
Pete was vastly entertained by the whole thing although he did, much to Myka's surprise, manage to keep his suggestive comments to the bare minimum. Helena pointed out that this was probably because his libido was being kept completely satisfied. The mental image made Myka grimace, but she wasn't about to look a gift-horse in the mouth.
Leena gave them her usual mysterious smile the morning after they had realised their feelings for each other, and thereafter never mentioned it.
Claudia was, of course, ecstatic. Nothing, she claimed, could be better than two of her best buds getting it on. Although she would rather they kept the ooky stuff in private. She seemed to take a personal pride in the fact that they were together, which only made Helena smile indulgently. Myka, however, eventually tired of Claudia's smug looks, and cornered her late one afternoon.
“Yes, Myka?” Claudia's face was the very picture of studied innocence – which, of course, only served to make Myka suspicious. Claudia only ever looked that innocent when she had done something and she was hoping that no-one would find out about it. Perhaps the talk about those irritating smug grins would have to wait.
“What are you smirking about?”
“Me, Myka? Li'l old innocent me?”
Myka narrowed her eyes at the girl, and poked her in the sternum with one finger. Claudia was laying the act on a bit thick, wasn't she? What was she hiding? She had just thought that the girl was being smug at having noticed something was going on before Myka and Helena had admitted it to themselves, but now - now she wasn't so sure. She was up to something.
“Yes, you, Claudia Donovan. Don't give me that innocent look, and don't try to pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about.”
“But I don't, honest!” Claudia protested, holding up one hand. “Scout's honour!”
“If you were a scout,” Myka muttered, “I'll bet that they threw you out for being a trouble-maker.”
Claudia's lips twitched, but she neither confirmed nor denied the accusation.
“Come on,” Myka demanded, giving Claudia her best glare. “Confess. Or no more martial arts lessons for you.”
“Aww!” Claudia pouted. It was adorable, but Myka would not be swayed!
“Now, Claudia,” she said sternly.
“Okay, fine, fine!” Claudia muttered with a petulant scowl. “I 'borrowed'” (complete with finger quotes) “Cupid's darts and gave you and HG a shot each. The UST was starting to drive me nuts.”
“The what? No, wait, never mind, I don't want to know.” Myka was positively reeling from the shock. Cupid's darts? So – it wasn't real.
None of it was real. What she felt for Helena, what Helena felt for her – it was a lie. She could feel her heart fracturing inside her chest. Yet another poetic metaphor that she hadn't realised was real, she thought dimly, wondering how it was that she was still standing when the bottom had just dropped out of the world.
What had Claudia been thinking? How could she have thought that this was a good idea? The heartbreak morphed into anger, which was so much easier to deal with. She let it take her over, until the sorrow was just a tiny hard kernel, heavy and cold, in the pit of her stomach. But the anger was hot, and she felt almost warm with it.
“How dare you,” she hissed, and Claudia took a step back, eyes wide. Any other time, Myka might have felt bad about the fear she had put into the girl's eyes but right then, the only thing she felt about it was a dull sort of satisfaction. Claudia should be afraid. Perhaps she would think twice about playing with people's emotions another time.
“What the hell were you playing at, playing god like that? You had absolutely no right. If it were up to me, I would make sure that you never touch another artefact again.”
Claudia opened her mouth, presumably to try and justify her actions, but Myka held up a hand. Uncharacteristically, Claudia fell silent.
“I don't want to hear it,” Myka told her. “Save it for Mrs Frederick. I have to go and talk to Helena, try and undo some of the damage you've caused. I want you to go... just go. I don't care where, I don't want to see you again.”
She turned on her heel and left Claudia behind, staring after her with hurt eyes. She had only been trying to help. Why couldn't Myka see that?
When Myka found Helena, the other woman was curled up in the same armchair Myka had been sitting in when Helena had first kissed her. The irony did not escape her. She felt the usual flutter in her stomach that she felt every time she was near Helena, but she resolutely pushed it away. It wasn't real. It wasn't.
How was she going to do this? Could she really be the one to destroy Helena? She knew how fragile the other woman was, what would this do to her? Heart heavy, she sat down across from Helena, wanting to take a moment to gather her thoughts.
Helena looked up and smiled sweetly at her, and Myka thought that she was going to be sick.
“Good evening, my love,” Helena said, and the sick feeling only deepened. Helena's brows drew together as she noticed the look on Myka's face. Something was wrong.
“Myka?” She said, starting to stand from her chair. “Darling, what is it?”
“Don't!” Burst from Myka's lips before she could stop. “Just – just don't, Helena. I can't – I don't love you.” Her hand flew to cover her mouth as the words left it, but it was already too late.
Shit. That wasn't how she had meant to tell her. She should have explained first. Her hand fell and she opened her mouth to explain but it was Helena's turn to stop her from talking, as she let the book fall unheeded to the floor and fled out of the room, ignoring Myka's calls for her to come back.
Myka's feet barely touched the floor as she rushed after her, but the sick feeling in her stomach intensified. Her hand went back over her mouth. She was actually going to be sick. She had to let Helena go. When the only thing she wanted to do, what she needed to do, was go after her.
Was this what dying felt like?
'I don't love you' 'I don't love you' 'I don't love you' 'I don't love you'
She could hear Myka's words in her head, repeating with the rhythm of her feet as they struck the ground. She wasn't wearing shoes and the stones on the road hurt her feet but she welcomed the pain. She needed it to ground herself, to remind her that this was real, that she was really here. She wanted more than anything to retreat into her head, to let the world go away until she was alone with her own thoughts. It would almost be comforting.
Myka didn't love her.
What was she going to do? She couldn't stay. She had poured her soul into the other woman's hands and she had been rejected. She couldn't stay. But where could she go?
She blinked at the road, noting with dim surprise that her eyes were dry. Her body had taken her towards the Warehouse with no instruction. She was on foot – bare feet at that – but if she kept going she could be there before morning.
There were so many ways. Cleopatra's asp. Juliet's philtre. Cobain's last song.
It didn't have to hurt.
Myka spat the mouthwash into the sink with a grimace. She absolutely hated throwing up. She still felt sick, but there was nothing left in her stomach – it was probably safe to leave the bathroom. She had to find Helena. Had to explain. But where was she? She had heard the front door slamming, so she could be anywhere.
Pulling on her coat, she headed out of the guest house, scanning the yard for any clues. All of the vehicles were still there. So Helena couldn't be very far away. Biting her lip, she headed towards her car. She'd be able to find her. She had to. But where could she have gone?
Starting the engine, she pulled out of the driveway and sat staring at the road, before turning in the direction of the Warehouse. It was her only idea. Besides, where else did Helena really have to go? She startled slightly at the thought, grimacing. She really didn't have anywhere else, did she? How... wrong.
She drove towards the Warehouse, worrying at her bottom lip with her teeth, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel. Helena had to be headed for the Warehouse. She just had to.
It wasn't long before she heaved a sigh of relief when she saw the familiar figure at the side of the road. Helena. She closed her eyes for a second, and pulled up next to her, rolling the window down.
There was no answer.
“Helena, please, I have to talk to you.”
“I don't have anything to say to you,” Helena said quietly, keeping her eyes fastened on the patch of ground just ahead of her feet. She was still walking and Myka was forced to put the car back into gear and roll along beside her.
“Look, would you just – Helena!”
She couldn't get anything else out of her. Finally, with a groan of exasperation, Myka stopped the car and got out, planting herself in front of Helena. Helena tried to step around her, but Myka caught her by the upper arms, refusing to allow her to move. There was a bit of a struggle as Helena tried to free herself, but Myka gave her a shake and Helena looked up at her. Something about the look on Myka's face seemed to affect her, because she stopped trying to get away.
“Very well,” she said, with a resigned sigh. “Say your piece, and then let me go.”
Myka nodded. She had no claim on her after all, did she?
“It was Claudia,” she said, and Helena frowned, confused. “She confessed – she made this happen.” She gestured between them. “Us. It's not real.”
Helena's face screwed up in confusion.
“It was Cupid's darts,” Myka continued, “she said that she...” but she broke off when Helena gave a strangled sound that quickly dissolved into hysterical laughter.
Helena was laughing so hard that she could barely breathe, and the laughter sounded raw and painful. Crazed. Myka took a step back, almost afraid.
“Helena? What – why are you laughing?”
Helena looked up at her, brushing wetness from her eyes.
“You,” she managed, between howls of laughter. “You don't know what the darts do, do you?”
Myka frowned. Surely it was obvious.
“They make people fall in love,” she said. Everyone knew that.
Helena was laughing too hard to speak now, so she just shook her head. Myka's frown deepened. They didn't? Then what did they do? And why was it so funny?
Something about the desperation in her voice penetrated Helena's hysterical laughter, and she subsided slightly, hiccupping. She took a deep breath, trying to control herself.
“Cupid's darts,” she said, voice sounding a little raw, “can't make anyone fall in love. But what they can do is make you realise that you are in love.”
Myka's heart skipped inside her chest, and she could feel the hope rising inside her. Could... could what they felt be real, then?
Helena took a deep breath, her gaze frank and open.
“So,” she said.
Myka bit her lip.
“Did you mean what you said?” Helena asked, eyes completely shuttered. Myka couldn't even begin to guess what was going on in her head.
“No,” she said quietly. “With all my heart, I didn't mean it. I wanted more than anything for it not to be true.”
Helena nodded, the nothingness behind her eyes lifting, finally. The sheer love that shone out of her almost blinded Myka.
“That's all I needed to hear,” she said, smiling. “take me home, darling.”
Myka nodded, not wanting to spoil the moment with words, and lead the way back to the car. Could it really be so simple? Helena's face when she had run out of the room... Myka had thought that... No. It was too awful to put into words, even in her head.
Helena looked sideways at Myka as they drove in silence back to the guesthouse. It was almost as if the last few hours hadn't happened. It had been a horrible misunderstanding – although she was going to have stern words with Claudia – but it was over now.
If anything, the last shred of doubt she'd had about Myka's feelings for her were gone. Cupid's darts only acted on feelings that were already there. If Myka didn't love her, truly love her, nothing would have happened.
(Myka had said that Claudia had shot both of them. A small part of her had wondered if she was capable of love, if it wasn't just an illusion, a comforting lie she was holding onto, a way to pretend that she was something more than an empty shell. By the logic that meant Myka loved her, she must also love Myka.)
She rolled down the window and watched the countryside rolling past them, taking a deep breath of fresh air. For the first time since MacPherson had guided her out of the Warehouse, it tasted sweet.
The last few hours had been the worst in her life. Even Christina's death, terrible though it had been and as much as it had destroyed her, hadn't had the same effect. She had still had something to live for – the attempt to bring her daughter back, revenge on the men who had taken her away but here, in this new world where she didn't truly belong, losing Myka had meant losing everything.
However bad it had been, though, she was glad. Because now she could start again.
But if Myka ever asked her what she had been planning to do at the Warehouse, she would lie. She had seen the fear in the other woman's eyes, and she would not willingly see it there again. So, and it would be the only lie she would ever tell her, Myka could never know what she had planned to do.
She turned from the window to look at Myka, and as if sensing her gaze, the other woman shot a quick glance and smile at her. Her gaze was so full of love that it practically took Helena's breath away.
“Μία λέξη μας απελευθερώνει από το βάρος και την οδύνη της ζωής - αυτή η λέξη είναι η αγάπη,” she murmured quietly, understanding the words for the first time.
One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life; that word is Love.