Helen found it odd for an interrogation room, a different kind of oppression, pristine white walls, white-tiled floor polished to a high sheen, fluorescent lights behind shields that didn’t so much diffuse the light but intensified it. A harsh glare that made the room almost glow, Helen resisting the urge to shield her eyes as she entered or wish for a pair of sunglasses.
The only objects in the room were two folding chairs, also white, set across from each other and parallel to the door. Helen took a seat, crossing her legs and smoothing the material of her slacks.
She didn’t have to wait long.
The door opened and two burly guards in uniforms Helen found distastefully reminiscent of storm troopers entered the room. Their size and countenance seeming like overkill compared to the slight woman flanked between them.
Helena ‘H.G.’ Wells shuffled into the room, in an orange jumpsuit, her hands and feet cuffed, the chain linking them together clinking loudly. She smiled, wide and broad, like they were old friends meeting for tea after so many years apart.
One guard stayed at the door as the other escorted H.G. to the open chair, roughly dropping H.G. into the seat. Helen kept the polite smile on her face, resisting the urge to curl her hands into fists.
She lifted her head to the guard. “Can you remove the handcuffs, please?”
“Procedure,” he said gruffly.
“I don’t think she’s going anywhere.”
His head snapped towards hers, eyes glaring heatedly. “Procedure,” he practically growled before turning and heading towards the door. One guard exited, the other remained. He stood back to the wall, next to the door, thumbs hooked into his belt loops, his hands close to the guns on both sides of his hips.
Procedure, Helen repeated the word distastefully in her mind. She turned in her seat, focusing all her attentions on the woman across from her.
“Helen Magnus,” H.G. smiled.
“H.G.,” she interrupted immediately. “We both know there’s only room for one Helena in this world.”
Helen’s eyes narrowed minutely as she tipped her head. She’d hoped for a civil conversation. That, for one moment in time, the history between them could be forgotten or, at least, ignored for the moment. “H.G.,” she said. “It’s been a long time.”
“Longer for some than others but, yes, a long time,” H.G. smiled back. “How’s Watson?”
“Watson,” Helen shifted minutely in her seat. “He’s no longer with us. The same for Nigel.”
The smile on H.G.’s lips faded, her eyes darting away from Helen’s. “That’s.. unfortunate. I rather liked Watson.” She returned her gaze to Helen, a flicker of anger in her eyes. “And Druitt?”
“I.” Helen paused, corners of her lips twitching. “I have no idea where John is. It’s just Nikolai and myself now.”
“Nikolai must be thrilled,” H.G. chuckled. “So, the great Five is now down to two. And me, of course.”
“You were never one of us,” Helen bristled.
“No, I wasn’t. You made sure of that, didn’t you Helen? Like I said, there’s room for only one Helen in this world.”
“I don’t have time for your games.”
“You’re immortal. You have all the time in the world.”
“That’s right, H.G.,” Helen sneered. “I have all the time in the world. But you don’t. And the time you have will be spent rotting away behind these walls.”
The Cheshire cat grin returned, H.G.’s eyes narrowing as she leaned forward in her seat. “There she is. Beneath all that politeness and rehearsed civility, there’s the Helen Magnus I know.”
“I could just leave.”
“We both know you won’t. Not until you’ve gotten what you want. And Helen Magnus always gets what she wants.”
Helen closed her eyes, inhaling a deep breath then letting it out in a long sigh before opening her eyes again. “Is that what you want, H.G.? To play games?”
“It beats pacing my cell. Three months in here and you‘re my first visitor. My only visitor,” she said with a sadness and longing Helen hadn‘t heard in a very long time, a sadness and longing Helen knew wasn’t for her. Just as quickly, the look on H.G.’s face vanished, as if had never occurred, H.G. straightening in her seat, eyes focusing on Helen. “Ask me your question.”
“You’re right. I am tired of playing games. When it comes to visitors, I’d rather have one with less.. baggage between us. So, ask your question and I can go back to rotting in my cell.”
“As you wish,” Helen nodded. Whatever comfort H.G. needed, Helen realized she couldn’t be the one to offer it. She reached into her pocket, pulling at a small object wrapped in cloth. The guard took a quick step forward, hand going to the gun on his hip. Helen glared at him. “I know the rules, you oaf!”
“Just making sure,” he muttered, stepping back towards the wall as H.G. chuckled loudly.
Helen unwrapped the object, holding it in the palm of her hand in the space between her and H.G. Leaning forward, H.G.’s eyes went wide, a soft gasp escaping her lips.
“Bloody Hell!” Her eyes snapped upwards towards Helen’s. “Where’d you find this?”
“It was part of my father’s things..”
“Cheeky bastard,” H.G. smirked with the slightest bit of admiration. “I thought he was bit too interested when I first showed it to him.”
“He sent it to me. When I saw it, I remembered an illustration in one of your books, an unpublished edition. What can you tell me about it?”
H.G. leaned back once more, shrugging her shoulders. “I’d say, at this point, you probably know more than I do,” she paused, eyes glancing towards the hidden cameras and microphones within the room. “It’s a key and a map. To what and where, I never actually got that far. Thanks to your father.”
“That’s unfortunate,” Helen sighed, re-wrapping and placing it back into her pocket. “I really was hoping you knew more.”
Helen rose from her seat, nodding her head towards the guard who, all business, opened the door. She strode towards the exit, suddenly stopping in her tracks, turning back towards H.G. once more. “Can I ask you a question?”
“You know how much I love questions.”
“After you were de-bronzed,” Helen shivered at the word. “Why rejoin the Warehouse program? Why not come to me?”
“Because you, of all people, would have immediately figured out what I was up to and attempted to stop me.”
“Mmm..” With closed eyes, H.G. moaned long and throatily. “How I’ve missed a good cup of tea.”
Helen chuckled, sipping from her own cup. It’d been almost six weeks since that first visit. And, in that time, Helen pulled strings, lots of strings. Gone was the stark white room, two singular chairs and a guard bordering on the overzealous. All replaced with a room with an actual window, where H.G. saw trees and blue sky for the first time since her incarceration, a table with high-backed chairs, a tea set, a silver platter filled with finger sandwiches, a mixture of Helen and H.G.’s favorites.
H.G. picked up one of the tiny sandwiches, moaning lasciviously at each little bite as if this were her last meal on earth. Helen content to do nothing more than sip her tea and watch.
Several finger sandwiches and another cup of tea later, H.G. moaned contentedly, focusing her attentions on the woman across from her. “Why did you do this?”
“I don’t know.”
“Liar. Helen Magnus does nothing without a reason.”
“Maybe I took pity on you.”
“Pity? On me of all people? I think I’m flattered.”
“Flattery doesn’t suit you.”
“And what does suit me, Helen?”
“Certainly not that jumper,” Helen chuckled, receiving a genuine smile from H.G. “I didn’t realize they made colors so garish.”
The silence between them returned, a little less tense, a little more familiar. But, despite the comfortable quiet and almost familiarity, Helen couldn’t help breaking the silence, asking the question plaguing her the moment she learned H.G. had been arrested.
“Why did you do it?” she finally asked. “Try and destroy the world.”
“If you had a daughter..”
“I did!” Helen snapped back. “Her name was Ashley and she was taken from me as suddenly and viciously as Christina was taken from you.”
She turned her eyes away from H.G, taking another long sip from her cup.
“I’m sorry,” H.G. spoke softly. “I didn’t know.”
“You never bothered to ask. So caught up in your own grief, it never occurred to you to think about the grief of others.”
“How long ago did this happen, when your Ashley was taken from you?”
Helen swallowed hard, blinking away the sudden burning sensation in the corners of her eyes. “A year, almost to the day.”
“A year?” H.G. snorted derisively and Helen’s head snapped towards hers, eyes firing daggers of ice.
“Do not mock my pain!” Helen’s voice roared.
“And do not pretend to understand mine!” H.G. leaned forward, placing her forearms on the table. “You ask me why I did it, tried to destroy the world? I ask you this, ninety-nine years from now, when you think back upon the day Ashley was taken from you, ask yourself if that cut still bleeds as deeply, if the ache in your chest still takes your breath away, if that piece of your soul has ever been refilled. Then look about the world around you, if there are still innocent little girls being murdered in their own homes, mother’s grieving for their stolen childen. Ask if this is a world is better than in the years before, if humanity is worthy of its place on the planet..”
“I didn’t ask to be bronzed. Did you know *that*, Helen?” she paused off Helen’s widening eyes. “Oh, I knew they were coming and signed their little papers saying otherwise. But, it wasn’t my choice. And it’s not like they say. You aren’t frozen, you’re not completely unconscious. There’s a part of you that’s awake, aware, alone in the dark with nothing but your thoughts and your memories. And the pain. A hundred years worth of pain. Only to wake up to a world more darker, more dangerous than the one you left behind. When you’ve reached that point, ninety-nine years from now, then and only then can you ask me why I tried to destroy the world.”
It was a form of punishment, turning off the air conditioning to the tiny room allotted for Helena’s meetings with H.G. on a day when the temperatures were in the triple digits.
H.G. didn’t seem to mind, it wasn’t much but it was still better than her cell. Jumpsuit pulled down off her torso and hanging around her waist, she sat by the window, gazing outwards as she fanned herself with several loose leaf papers.
Helen remained at the table. There was no tea today, just a pitcher filled with lemonade, the majority of the ice having melted long ago.
H.G. chuckled to herself, still gazing out the window. “Do you remember that contortionist from Russia? What was her name?”
“Olga,” Helen smiled.
“Yes. Olga. And that weekend in Paris we spent in a hotel room discovering all the many ways in which she could bend,” H.G. smiled wistfully, closing her eyes at the memory. “I miss Paris.”
“It’s still as lovely as ever. A little more crowded, a little more modern but still Paris.” Helen refilled the two glasses on the table, rising from her seat and walking over towards the window.
H.G. took the offered glass, taking a healthy sip before rubbing the side of her glass over her forehead. “Why do you keep coming back here, Helen? You’ve asked your questions, received your answers.”
“Maybe,” Helen paused, taking a sip of lemonade. “I’ve been thinking about that weekend in Paris as well.”
H.G.’s eyes narrowed, head tilting slightly like she’d been given a puzzle she hadn’t quite figured out. Helen reached out, grazing the backs of her knuckles against H.G.’s cheek.
“Why didn’t it work out between us?” Helen asked softly.
H.G. leaned into Helen’s touch, drew her lips of the finger crossing her mouth. “You’d know the answer to that question more than I would. I recall myself being the love struck outsider in those days.”
Helen slid her hand down, placing it on H.G.’s shoulder, squeezing gently. “You were never an outsider, Helena.”
“Then why were you the one always shutting me out?”
“Helena,” Helen sighed, lowering her head slightly as she took a step backwards.
“I adored you,” H.G. said, though there was no bitterness in her voice, just an echoing sadness.
“And I would have done anything just to stand in your shadow.”
Helen’s eyes went hot, the anger quickly bubbling to the surface. “Including sleeping with the man I loved?”
“Yes. Including sleeping with the man you loved. I was so.. naïve back then. I thought, by being with him, I could figure out why you loved John more than you loved me. I thought I could figure out a way to make you love me.”
Helen stepped back as if struck. After all this time, all the years of assumptions colored by her own anger, her own jealousy, the truth hit her harder than any blow. “Oh Helena,” she sighed.
“Did you ever tell John?” H.G. paused, waiting until Helen lifted her eyes. “That Christina was his?”
“No,” Helen shook her head. “You saw what happened to John after we took the Source Blood. When his sanity finally returned,” she swallowed hard, thinking of all the years she kept Ashley’s paternity from him out of fear for her own daughter‘s safety. “I didn’t have the heart. I feared such loss would send him spiraling back into madness.”
“You shouldn’t blame yourself. I don‘t,” H.G. softly spoke, turning her head to gaze out the window. “Not for that.”
There were no words the next visit. There was a new warden, because Helen had no intention of letting H.G. stay in a prison with the former warder. The new warden, looking to stabilize the foundation of his job security, provided a room for Helen’s visit with no cameras or microphones or guard’s outside listening too intently.
The door closed behind H.G., the lock clacking loudly in place. The moment Helen realized there would be no one looking or listening, she rushed towards H.G., fistfuls of jumper in her grasp, slamming H.G. against the wall. Then, it was all bruising kisses, dueling tongues and roaming hands.
Helen’s hands worked quickly, eagerly opening H.G.’s jumper, fingers sliding down and they both moaned openly at the feel of fingers meeting wet heat.
Thigh draped over her hip, H.G. arching into her, arms draping over her shoulders as she panted and moaned into Helen’s neck. It was all so similar to a night so many decades ago when Helen’s father introduced Helen to a young, aspiring writer. And Helen thought now as she did then, when she pulled a young Helena G. Wells into a closet, wound her hand underneath skirts and bustles and into under things..
If only things were different.
“Tell me about her,” H.G. whispered softly, bringing Helen’s hand to her lips and kissing the knuckles gently. “Tell me about your Ashley.”
This time, Helen acquired a room with a couch. A couch where the two lay snuggled together, basking in the afterglow. The mention of Ashley’s name brought a lump to Helen’s throat and she softly kissed the back of H.G.’s neck.
“You would have liked her,” Helen ruminated aloud. The lump in her throat eased, because it actually felt good to talk about Ashley, without all the weight of complications and guilt. “She was a lot like John. Sweet, charming when she wanted to be, tough when she needed to be.”
“And attractive?” H.G. added.
“Helena,” she purred, her tone playful but warning.
H.G. laughed, rolling onto her back to gaze at Helen’s face. “It’s not an absurd assumption, the child of Helen Magnus and John Druitt. I imagine she was quite the handful.”
Helen smiled. “She could be when she wanted to be.”
“What happened?” H.G.’s face softened, like she didn’t want to ask the question and ruin the moment. “To the people that took her?”
Helen’s face hardened, her eyes losing focus as she gazed at some faraway point far beyond the walls of the room. “John killed them,” she said, pausing until the silence and her own thoughts became too much. “I hated him for that. For taking that from me. She was *my* child. Retribution should have been mine.”
“No. John was right to do what he did,” H.G. said firmly. She reached up, placing her palm to Helen’s cheek. “We are aberrations in a world already teetering into chaos. That road, vengeance, is a dark and slippery one, easy to walk into, hard to walk out of. Better to have someone who’s already walked that road make the sacrifice. Because..” she smiled, running her thumb over Helen’s lips. “One of us still needs to be in the light.”
Helen groaned, loudly, lasciviously. Sitting on the warden’s couch, she reached down, threading her fingers into H.G.’s hair, nails scraping against her scalp. H.G. purred, moaning into Helen as she plunged her tongue deep into Helen’s sex and Helen arched, crying out her release.
It seemed odd, Helen realized that, of all of them, it was H.G who gave her exactly what she wanted, what she needed. There was weight and history between them, which made the sex better, but it was also unconditional. There weren’t those strings, thick and sticky like spider web, that came with all the others.
H.G. expected nothing more from Helen than what Helen offered. A painful lesson learned too long ago. H.G. hadn’t been the only one so naïve back in those times. Wisdom really had come with age.
Helen shivered and shuddered, mouth going slack as H.G. found one more orgasm to pull from her. Satisfied Helen had been wrung dry, H.G. clambered up her body, straddling Helen’s lips, draping her arms over Helen’s shoulders as she brought their mouths together and Helen purred at her own taste on H.G.’s tongue.
She slipped a hand between H.G.’s legs, watched as H.G.’s eyes fluttered closed at the moment when she lifted her hips then eased herself onto Helen’s fingers. Helen let H.G. set the pace, content to do nothing but sit and watch. The way H.G.’s mouth went slack, her little moans and whimpers, the way her brows crinkled like she was in pain even though it was anything but.
Helen added a third finger, curling them as she pressed her palm hard against H.G.’s clit. H.G. groaned, eyes lazily pulling open as her lips curled into a seductive smile.
“Oh Helen,” she purred. “You always knew which buttons to push and when.”
Helen smiled at the admission. Of all of them, it’d been Helen who’d taken one Helena G. Wells chastity over a century ago, attracted to H.G.’s intelligence and ambition, her innocence and naivety. Helen had been naïve in her own ways back then. Unaware or unwilling to realize how her own actions, the tangled web she wove around H.G., would shape the woman from the girl. How H.G., in her own way, shaped the woman Helen would become. How H.G. had found the flicker of darkness with Helen long before John Druitt stoked it to a flame.
With her free hand, Helen wormed it up H.G.’s back, over her neck, fingers threading into the long, dark hair. She tightened her grip, harder and harder, H.G.’s eyes fluttering closed, mouth spreading into a lascivious grin.
Helen tugged and pulled, until H.G.’s neck was craning backwards, playful laugh, rumbling up her throat. No longer innocent nor naïve. And Helen attacked the offered neck with her lips, pumping and jamming her fingers in time with the chaotic jut of H.G.’s hips. It wasn’t long before H.G. was keening, trembling and convulsing as Helen brought her to the edge then pushed her over.
When it was over, when H.G. had no more trembles or shudders to give, Helen withdrew her fingers, brought them to H.G.’s mouth, felt her insides coil and clench as H.G. sucked them between her lips, tongue swirling, licking over the digits as she sucked them clean.
“Helena G. Wells,” Helen chuckled. “The original bad girl.”
“Helen Magnus,” H.G. grinned back. “The ultimate seductress.”
H.G. brought their lips together, the kiss slow and leisurely. As if they had all the time in the world though they both knew their time, on this day, would be close to an end.
“Helena..” Helen said softly, long after their lips had parted and they sat their, foreheads pressed together.
“H.G.,” she immediately corrected.
“H.G.,” Helen smiled. “How come you’ve never asked me to free you when you know I could?”
“I never asked to be bronzed,” H.G. lifted her eyes, face solemn. “I think we both know I deserve to be here.”
“I’ve started writing again.”
Helen lifted her head from the pages spread out on the table before her, wide grin beaming. “Really?”
H.G. shrugged. “It’s better than sitting in a cell, staring at the walls. The warden‘s even allowed me to have a typewriter.”
“That’s wonderful, Helena.”
“Don’t praise me just yet. At least, not until you’ve read it. I’ve heard about this new literary niche,” she leaned forward, voice lowering almost conspiratorially. “Lesbian erotica. Can you imagine?” She waved a hand, laughing as she leaned back in her seat. “Anyway, it’s about an adventuress, the young and eager apprentice she takes under her wing and their many adventures together, in and outside the bedroom.”
Helen chuckled, shaking her head. “Sounds.. therapeutic.”
“Oh, it is!” H.G.’s eyes widened with excitement. “All the many wonderful ways I can write about clits and cunts and sopping wet pussies without fear of censorship.”
“H.G. Wells, the pornographer.”
Her excitement was infectious and Helen found herself smiling broadly. Had she known H.G. had been given a typewriter, she would have asked it to be brought into the room. The thought brought forth a memory and Helen ached solemnly, thinking of Paris, a tiny hotel room, Helen stretched out on the bed, lazily watching the dust drifting through the sun beams as Helena sat by the window in nothing more than her drawers, furiously tapping away on her typewriter. The adventuress and her eager, young apprentice.
If only things had been different.
Helen reached across the table, clasping her hand over H.G.’s. The smile on H.G.’s lips faded, noting the change in Helen’s countenance.
“I’m sorry,” Helen said, thumb grazing over H.G.’s knuckles.
“For pushing you away.”
“What is life,” H.G. sighed, leaning down to kiss the top of Helen’s hand. “If not one filled with regrets?”
As H.G. leaned back, Helen slid her hand back across the table. She tilted her head down, lips pursing as she went deep into thought.
“Helen, what is it?”
Helen bowed her head, inhaling deeply before lifting her head again to gaze at the woman across from her. “I have something for you.”
“A gift?” H.G. tutted. “The warden won’t be pleased.”
“To Hell with the warden. I replaced one, I can replace another.” She reached into her pocket, thumbing the tiny box before pulling it out and placing it on the table. “I’ve had this for awhile. I guess I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to give it to you.”
Like a child on Christmas, H.G. reached for the box immediately tearing it open. Then she froze, her eyes going wide and immediately filling with tears at the gold chain, the locket with a picture of Christina inside.
Her hand went to her stomach as the sob tore up her throat, wracking her body. It’d been over a century since Helen had seen H.G. cry. A cloudy day in August, where a small coffin was lowered into the ground. Helen hadn’t understood H.G.’s pain back then. She understood it now.
She rose from her seat, circling around the table. H.G. pressed her face into Helen’s stomach as Helen wrapped her arms around H.G.’s shoulders, holding her tight. They were all so young and naïve back then. Young, naïve and pompously arrogant. Time, distance and history wrenched them apart, then brought them back together again. Where understanding replaced ignorance. Shared pain replaced distance.
Helen didn’t know how to console H.G. back then. She didn’t understand, couldn’t comprehend H.G.’s pain.
She did now.
Winter came early and H.G. stood by the window, hands clasped behind her back, silently watching the fat flakes as they drifted down from the sky. Helen’s attempts at initiating conversation had fallen on deaf ears. Used to H.G.’s moods, she contented herself with the work she’d brought with her.
“Helen?” H.G. spoke and Helen lifted her head, surprised, lost in her work as if she‘d forgotten the woman was in the room. “You once said I could ask anything of you. Does that favor still hold true?”
“You know it does.”
“When I was at the Warehouse.. This last time, there was an agent there..”
“Myka Bering?” Helen said, eyebrow rising.
Chuckling, H.G. turned her head slightly. “How’d you know?”
“You, Helena G. Wells, definitely have a type. After you were de-bronzed, you might not have come to me for help, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t keeping an eye on you.”
“And what of Agent Bering?”
“She left the Agency,” Helen paused, watching H.G. stiffen. “Several days after your incarceration.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“No. Are you asking me to find her?”
H.G. nodded her head. “What is life is not one filled with regrets. I only have two,” she paused and Helen watched as one of the hands clasped behind H.G.’s back drifted around to the front, fingers clasping around the locket hanging from her neck. “Myka is the other one. Would you find her? Tell her..” she paused, head bowing. “Tell her I’m sorry.”
“Is that all you wish?”
“I wish for many things.” She lifted her head, staring blankly out the window. “This is what I deserve.”
The bookstore sat a stone’s throw from the corner of Haight and Ashbury, Helen flooded with the memories of a time not so long ago. If only H.G. had been with her, Helen thought, smiling, only to think that in many ways H.G. had.
The bell over the door chimed tinily as Helen entered. The store was old fashioned, not like the mega-chains, with their sterile atmosphere, neutral painted shelves and inoffensive mood music piping through the speakers. The shelves overflowed with dog-eared paperbacks, hard covers, leather bound editions, more were stacked, floor to ceiling, against the walls. It smelled of old paper, leather bindings and ancient glue, like a proper bookstore should.
“Can I help you?” a voice called out from the back.
Helen glanced around an aisle to see a mop of curly brown hair, brown eyes, full lips pulled into a polite smile. The photos Helen had been given didn’t do Myka Bering justice, from the agent’s appearance alone, Helen could see why H.G. had fallen so easily.
“Nice place you have here,” Helen called out to her.
“Oh, it’s not mine.” Myka stepped out fully from behind a stack of books. She brushed her hands on her thighs before tossing a thumb over her shoulder towards the portrait hanging on the wall behind the cash register. “They just let me run it like it is.”
“They must trust you to let you have the run of it.”
“Something like that,” Myka chuckled. “Anyway, what can I do for ya?”
“I’m afraid I’m not here in regards to your collection,” Helen paused, shaking her head slightly as she pulled her hand from her pocket and extended it to Myka. “Forgive my impoliteness, Helen Magnus.”
The smile on Myka’s lips faded just a little, eyes narrowing, sizing Helen up as she accepted Helen’s hand, her free hand shifting, moving towards the grip of the gun no longer on her hip. “If you’re not here for a book, why are you here?”
“It’s in regard to a mutual acquaintance of ours.. H.G. Wells.”
Myka canted her head coyly. “Thought you said you weren’t here for a book?”
“I know who you are, Miss Bering. I think we can skip the feigned ignorance.”
“If you know who I am then you should probably know I’m not very trusting of mutual acquaintances of H.G. Wells.”
“Nor should you be,” Helen smiled in admiration, wondering why she’d never heard of Myka Bering before H.G. came back from the dead or if she were interested in a position within the Sanctuary. “But, I do swear to you, my visit is with friendly intentions. I have a message for you, from Helena.”
Myka threw her hands in the air, stepping backwards and away from Helen. “There’s nothing that woman has to say that I want to hear..”
“She says she’s sorry,” Helen said, Myka stopping in her tracks. “And I’ve known her long enough to know her words are sincere.” She could see the confusion coloring Myka’s face, the confusion quickly turning to concern. “If it eases your discomfort, I was never bronzed.”
“Then how could you..”
“There are more wonders in this world than those found in your warehouse. So, let’s just say I’ve been around for a very long time and leave it at that.”
“She loves you.”
“Please! That kind of love I can do without.”
“Can you?” Helen saw the flicker of doubt in Myka’s eyes. “I know Helena. I know how impulsively rash and stubborn she can be. Had I known what she was up to, the only way I could have stopped her would have been to kill her. But not you,” she stepped closer, moving until she was only a foot away from Myka. “Not you. You used nothing but your words. Got through that thick, stubborn skull of hers. Something I’ve never seen anyone do before. Not even me.”
The air quieted. Myka folded her arms over her chest, shifting on the balls of her feet. “What does it matter now, anyway? What’s done is done. H.G.’s where she is, I’m where I am. All either of us has is..”
“Time,” Helen finished. “It can’t heal all wounds. Others, it can heal quickly and quite easily. You don’t have to forgive her. But, at least, forgive yourself. And when you do..” Helen reached into pocket, pulling out a business card and extending it to Myka. “Go see her. Your name‘s already on the list. Tell them Helen Magnus sent you.”
Myka flipped the card over and over with her fingers before looking up at Helen incredulously. “Okay, I’ll say this again - who *are* you?”
“I’m just a visitor,” Helen chuckled, smiling softly. She tilted her head before turning on her heel and heading out the way she’d come in. “A visitor doing nothing more than returning a favor for a friend.”
ONE YEAR LATER
“Mmmm..” Eyes closed, H.G. purred lasciviously. “Oh, Helen, how I’ve missed your..” she paused, opening her eyes and smiling. “Tea.”
“And I’ve missed your not so double entendres.”
“What was that phrase Nikolai was so fond of?” H.G. giggled softly, eyes twinkling playfully as she gazed at Helen over the lip of her raised cup. “Something about particularly sharp linguists?”
“I am not dignifying you with an answer.”
“I thought we were long past the point of dignified? Then again, you were always more fond of Nikolai‘s tongue than I ever was. Fine,” she huffed, rolling her eyes as she waved a hand. “I’ll try and be on my best behavior. Bloody Hell!” H.G. quickly set her cup down on the coffee table, reaching down to scratch at her ankle. “How long does this damn thing have to stay on?”
The smile on Helen’s lips spread wider. She wasn’t fond of torture, but Helen found watching H.G. deal with the bracelet wrapped around her ankle as if it were torture amusing. “A year.”
“And how many days left until I can actually walk outside the Sanctuary?”
“You have eighty-nine days, twelve hours, forty-two minutes and, let me check..” Helen raised her wrist, gazing at her watch. “Seventeen seconds.”
“You’re not supposed to find this amusing, Helen,” H.G. sneered, still pulling at the device wrapped around her ankle. “It really does itch.”
“I’m sure you’ll manage,” Helen chuckled. In the end, Helen had pulled more strings. A part of her nature, she’d spent several lifetimes helping and understanding misunderstood creatures, in Helen’s eyes, H.G. was no different. Had circumstances been different, Helen wasn’t so sure she wouldn’t have attempted what H.G. tried. So, she pulled strings, lots of strings, demands and in some cases out right threats. There was a reason why Helen and the Sanctuary was tangentially involved with the Warehouse program, or the Government in general - they didn’t like her methods, Helen abhorred theirs.
Maybe part of it was guilt, the things Helen had and hadn’t done so long ago that helped shape the girl into the woman. There was also pride, pride in her role the woman H.G. had become. All of it colored with a healthy dose of nostalgia, the part of Helen that still saw H.G as a wispy 17-year-old girl, wise beyond her years, too young and naïve to realize how ignorant she truly was. A kindred spirit. A rival back in a time when women were still seen as property and Helen had her own, sometimes dark, sense of propriety. When eyes not belonging to Helen saw the same things Helen did and H.G. basked in their gaze. When the eyes of the man that made Helen’s own heartbeat rise turned towards the young Helena G. Wells..
Helen shook her head, chasing away the thoughts and memories from a long time ago. What had happened in the past could not be undone, only remembered fondly or regretted. Helen had no time for regrets, even if she had all the time in the world. All that mattered was the present. H.G. was part of Helen’s present now, as part of the Sanctuary and, along with it, the possibility of righting a wrong from so long ago.
“Don’t forget,” Helen added, watching with a bemused expression on her face as H.G. scratched at her bracelet. “Your random unannounced visits from the Agency.”
“Oh please! Don’t remind me. Tossers, all of them. Bloody incompetent, arrogant, stupid, entitled..”
H.G.’s eyes went dot on saucer wide. She rose from her seat like a shot, standing rigid straight. “Myka? What..”
“She’s the bloody tosser sent to check up on you,” Helen chuckled, rising politely from her own seat. “I’ll give the two of you a moment alone.” As she passed, she placed a hand on Myka’s forearm. “Agent Bering.”
“Magnus,” Myka nodded.
“You look.. good. Working for the Feds, I see,” H.G. said, nodding her head towards the gun and badge attached to Myka’s belt.
“Back at the Warehouse, actually..”
“I thought..” H.G. stammered, shaking her head like this was all some fever dream only to realize it was all real. “When I last saw you..”
Myka swallowed, shifting on her feet. “I said a lot of things. I was hurt and angry and confused..”
“Which you had every right to be.”
“Maybe,” Myka took a step closer. “But, I said some things. Things I regret. Things I can’t take back. Even if I could..” She took another step closer, hands before her, fingertips worrying against each other. Myka bowed her head, gazing up at H.G. through narrowed eyes. “What you did. What you tried to do. What you did to me.”
“Believe me, Myka, if I could go back and change..”
“I miss you,” Myka blurted. She pressed her fingertips to her forehead, eyes closing as she shook her head. “God, help me, after everything I miss you. That’s why I was so angry when I visited you in that god awful prison. There you were, in that white room, in that stupid orange jumpsuit and, after everything you’d done, with that stupid grin on your face. I saw you,” Myka paused, inhaling deeply. “I saw you and I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone so badly in all my life.”
“Would now be an inopportune time to point out I’m no longer in prison? I‘m sorry,” H.G. blinked, shaking her head. Nervous in a way she hadn‘t been in years. “That was wildly inappropriate. Here you are, trying to make amends. You are trying to make amends, aren‘t you? I‘m sorry. Bloody Hell, you‘d think I was turning into Pete for God‘s..”
“H.G.,” Myka chuckled, taking another step forward. The almost toe to toe and Myka whipped her hands out, grabbing H.G. by the lapels and yanking until their faces were inches apart. “Shut up and kiss me.”
Helen smiled to herself, turning away from the closed double doors to her study moments after the conversation inside the room went quiet and it became obvious Agent Bering had no intention of either arresting or killing H.G. Wells.
Like a book, an old chapter closed, a new one began. In the unfinished book that was Helena G. Wells, Helen Magnus filled many chapters, hers and H.G.’s lives tangled and woven like the tiny threads packed together to create pages. But Helen’s wasn’t the only character that truly mattered in H.G.’s life, there were the old ones, still lingering around the edges of the page waiting for their re-introduction, the ones no longer with us that colored every word, every letter and punctuation mark. There were the new characters, villains, heroes and the ones somewhere in between. Unexpected and surprising.
There was Myka Bering. The one who took a heart blackened by grief and showed it how to love once more. Whether Myka would fill as many pages as Helen, Helen didn’t dare to surmise. More than a passing face but unknown as a permanent fixture, all Helen knew was that when it came to H.G.’s life Myka, like Helen, was more than..