Helena knew instinctively the sickness that overcame her was related to an artifact, a very powerful artifact at that, judging by the fact it spread across the globe so quickly. She felt helpless to do anything and longed to be by Myka’s side, no doubt racing across the world trying to find an antidote. It was madness being cooped up in her tiny apartment, just willing Myka and Pete to find the answer before time ran out for everyone. Before she was able to see Myka once more and tell her…everything.
Not for the first time Helena cursed the astrolabe and all the havoc it had wreaked upon her world. It was almost tempting to use it herself to turn back time 24 hours to before the sickness was released, but then she had no idea where Artie or Myka or Pete were 24 hours ago for it to be of any real help. And then there was the minor detail of releasing an evil within. Helena had enough of evil to last her two lifetimes. All she longed for now was peace…and love, preferably with Myka by her side.
Bering and Wells together again, solving problems and saving the day. It tortured her now not to be with Myka solving this problem and saving the day. The sickness brought about a swift decline in Helena and she only hoped Myka was faring better with it. Not knowing where Myka was and how she fared was enough to drive Helena insane with worry. All she could do was continue to watch over those Myka loved and hope for the best for them all.
It was early morning before Myka finally pulled back the covers and slipped between cool sheets. She felt like a wreck. The last forty-eight hours had taken their toll on her. It was too much to deal with and at last in the dark solitude of her bedroom, she allowed her tears to fall; tears for Leena, for Artie and Claudia and for Helena and herself. It was all so overwhelming, Myka shook with the effort of keeping her sobbing quiet so as not to alert anyone else in her makeshift family.
But Leena was dead, and it was her home they all lived in now, without their beloved keeper. Artie, in a way, was responsible for her death. How would he ever cope with that? How would any of them? And Claudia had to be the one to bring Artie back to reality, something she felt only guilt for, causing that pain in him.
Finally Myka allowed her thoughts to turn to Helena. Wonderful, beautiful, brilliant Helena, who was god knew where, all alone in the world, literally. Artie had told them the truth about the astrolabe. He told them in the other reality, Helena had sacrificed her life to save theirs, thus saving the world from a world of no hope. Myka had felt the breath knocked out of her at his admission. Helena had died to save them, to save her. Since his confession, Myka had been plagued with dreams that she felt must have been from that alternate reality. Helena’s gentle smile as she said goodbye, Myka standing by helpless, unable to stop her, unable to say all she meant to say to Helena. For a time traveler, Helena was always running out of time, and Myka along with her.
Then today, Myka had been so ill while in Paris. The sweating sickness seemed to affect her much quicker than it had Pete, or any of the rest of the team. She wondered if it wasn’t because her thoughts turned frequently to Helena, worrying about how she would have had to deal with the sickness alone. The thought only made Myka feel worse. She had to reverse the effects of the orchid, to save the world yes, but for one more chance to see Helena, to speak to her and tell her…what? That she loved her; had loved her from the beginning. Myka made a promise to herself that if she ever saw Helena again, she would tell her the truth, tell her she loved her; but the idea of seeing Helena ever again seemed a remote possibility at this moment.
The tears came harder now, for Myka had no idea how to find Helena. Mrs. Fredric had given her explicit orders she wasn’t to contact anyone connected with the warehouse, the danger had been too high. Surely now that Artie was no longer a threat, they could start their search to find Helena, but where to begin? In the dark of the early morning, Myka despaired of ever seeing Helena again and cried herself to sleep.
“Myka? Are you all right? Your father and I were so worried, we couldn’t reach you for days,” spoke Jeannie Bering, the worry in her voice easy to detect over the phone.
“Yeah, I’m fine, Mom. I just wanted to call to make sure you and Dad and Tracy are all right.”
“We’re fine, dear. That sickness was very strange, but we’ve all recovered. Are you sure you’re all right? You sound tired.”
“Yeah,” Myka sighed. “I guess I am tired. The sickness took its toll on me, but I’ll get better.”
“I’d wish you’d come home for a visit. I’d like to see you with my own eyes to make sure you’re okay.”
“I can’t come home right now, Mom, something came up at work, but soon. I’ll try to come home soon. I’m just glad you’re all okay,” Myka spoke the tears in her voice making it hard to voice her relief.
“I love you, Myka.”
“Love you too, Mom. Bye.”
The week of Artie’s trial had been grueling, to say the least. Everyone was so emotionally drained over the entire event. Of course, Artie was the one with the most to deal with. How he would ever overcome the fact that he took Leena’s life, even when an artifact was to blame, was more than Myka could comprehend. All she did know is they were family, all of them and each one of them had been whammied by an artifact before. Artie was still their family and they would stand behind him. It helped that Vanessa hadn’t left his side at all throughout the trial and planned to stay with him now that it was finally over and his name cleared.
Claudia had visibly relaxed too after the outcome of the trial and knowing Vanessa was there to take care of Artie helped her assuage some of her own guilt. Finally Myka felt comfortable enough to ask the young tech wizard a favor.
Catching Claudia alone in the kitchen, typing away on her laptop at the table, Myka approached her. Quietly sitting in the chair beside Claudia she spoke, “Hey Claud, I have a favor to ask you.”
Claudia looked up to meet Myka’s tired eyes, evidence she hadn’t been sleeping well, if at all. Of course, none of them were sleeping too well these days, but perhaps Myka more than most of them, as she still had one very important reason to lose sleep over. Claudia knew what Myka was going to ask but let her ask anyway. “Shoot.”
Myka smiled weakly. “I was just thinking, the danger of Artie using the astrolabe again is over. We should try to find Helena, let her know she can come home now,” Myka dropped her head and whispered the last few words as they caught in her throat.
Claudia reached out for Myka’s hand forcing Myka to look at her. “Already way ahead of you. I started the search a few nights ago, but I’ve run into a snag.”
“What do you mean?” asked Myka, the worry etched across her face.
“I can’t find a trace on her anywhere. I’ve tried using Emily Lake and any other alias I can think of she might use, and nothing. It’s like she’s not using any means of the 21st century, no credit or debit, no cell phone, nothing. It’s like she just disappeared,” Claudia spoke agitated.
“As she was intended to do, Agent Donovan,” a familiar voice sounded, startling both women.
“Geeze, Mrs. Frederic, you could have given us a warning,” Claudia complained clutching chest.
“Agent Wells is a 19th century woman, capable of surviving without our modern conveniences, and thus deeming her untraceable.”
“So, there’s no way to find her?” asked Myka, the despair in her voice evident.
“I’m afraid not, Agent Bering. Her instructions were explicit, disappear and have contact with no one. The risk was too great.”
“But, there must be some way we can find her. Didn’t you have any check-ins or a time limit to when she could try contacting someone?” Myka persisted.
“So, she’s just out there somewhere,” Myka spoke waving her arm vaguely, “all alone in the world?”
“Agent Wells is a very capable woman who can handle the task given her.”
Myka couldn’t help the hysterical laugh that came from her lips then. “Of course, after all, the last time she was left all alone with her grief, it consumed her to the point of near destruction.”
“Agent Bering,” Mrs. Frederic intoned, “your nerves are stretched near to breaking and you’re not thinking clearly. Agent Wells is incredibly intelligent, she will figure out when it’s safe to return. In the mean time, you would do well to take some leave time and get your bearings. I’m afraid this whole ordeal has been too much for you to take in.”
“You’re not. I’ve spoken with Dr. Calder and she advises rest for you.”
Myka thought back to her conversation with Vanessa after she had been physically examined, a requirement of all the agents to find out if there were any lasting effects of the sweating sickness.
“How are you Myka?” asked Vanessa kindly.
“I’m fine,” Myka replied cryptically.
Vanessa frowned. “It’s just you and I, Myka. The sweating sickness affected you much stronger and quicker than anyone else on the team, and I want to know why. Now, how are you really?”
Myka looked up to meet Vanessa’s kind eyes looking at her with such concern. Always, Myka made it a point to keep her emotions in check. She had to be strong for Pete and Claudia, but here with Vanessa looking at her with such concern, just woman to woman, at last Myka’s defenses broke down.
Myka sighed heavily. “I can’t sleep; I keep having this reoccurring nightmare, ever since Artie told us about the alternate timeline. Ever since he told us…Helena sacrificed her life to save us. Only, I don’t think it’s a nightmare, Vanessa, I think my subconscious is remembering exactly what happened in that other timeline.”
“What do you see?” the doctor asked curious.
Tears began to gather in Myka’s green eyes. “I see her…I see Helena. She barricaded Artie, Pete and I in a force field to protect us from the blast. All I see is her on the outside, smiling at me, telling me it was the only way she could think to save me…us. She thanked me and then her face looked so serene, as if she had found peace, just before the bomb goes off and I wake up, often crying and drenched in sweat. I don’t want to sleep anymore, because all I see, time after time, is how I lose her once again.”
Vanessa laid a reassuring hand on Myka’s knee and gave it a gentle squeeze. “You care very deeply for Helena, don’t you?” she asked gently.
“Of course I do, she’s my friend,” Myka replied too quickly and forcefully.
Myka tried to avoid Vanessa’s gaze but eventually she couldn’t help but meet her eyes. “Myka?” the doctor questioned knowingly.
Myka brushed away an escaped tear and only whispered, “Yes.”
“That’s why the sweating sickness effected you more. You spent your energy worrying about Helena.”
“She’s all alone, Vanessa, and she was alone when the sickness overtook her. She could have died alone,” the tears came uncontrollably now. “She could have died without ever knowing how I feel about her. I can’t stop thinking about her. The entire time Pete and I were trying to figure out how to stop the sweating sickness, in the back of my mind, I was always thinking of Helena, wondering where she was, if she was okay. I was so afraid we wouldn’t find a way to stop the sickness and I would have let her down, unable to save her after she saved all of us.”
“Helena wouldn’t have thought you let her down, Myka,” she spoke gently. “I believe her main concern is you and your well being, if your dream is to be believed. And the fact remains that you did save her and the rest of the world, so you should relax, at least until the next world catastrophe arises, at it always seems to with this job,” Dr. Calder smiled and gave Myka’s knee one last encouraging squeeze before rising to her feet again. “You need rest, Myka, we all do. Make sure you get it.”
Myka only silently nodded, the weariness etched across her face.
“How are our agents faring?” Mrs. Frederic asked as Dr. Calder moved about the guest bedroom of the B&B where she had examined each of the agents.
The doctor sighed. “About as well as can be expected given the circumstances. Emotionally, it’s going to take time before they move on. Physically, I’d say they’re all perfectly well, the sickness didn’t leave any lasting effects. Only Agent Bering is still unwell, though not from the sweating sickness,” she clarified, “but I do think it enhanced her physical state.”
Mrs. Frederic nodded thoughtfully and a look of understanding passed between the two women. “What do you recommend for her?”
“Besides the return of Agent Wells you mean?” and Mrs. Frederic only nodded. Vanessa sighed. “Myka needs rest.”
“I’ll see that she gets it then,” the caretaker replied firmly.
“Irene,” the doctor called out before the caretaker left, “Do you have any idea where Helena would have gone? I’m concerned Myka’s health depends upon her return.”
Mrs. Frederic took a moment to reply. “I don’t know where she went Vanessa, but from my observation of the bond Agent Wells and Agent Bering have formed for one another, I can’t imagine Helena would have gone very far from Myka or from any aspect of Myka’s life. I don’t have Agent Lattimer’s gift of “vibes” but I do have a very strong intuition, which is why I’m going to order Agent Bering to go home for rest, to Colorado Springs.”
Vanessa smiled thoughtfully and Mrs. Frederic gave her a brief, uncharacteristic smile in return.
Mrs. Frederic interrupted Myka's thoughts. “Taking leave is not a request, but an order by Dr. Calder and myself. Go home Agent Bering, go to Colorado Springs to visit your family and recuperate. Immediately.”
When it looked as if Myka was about to protest, Mrs. Frederic held up a hand to quiet her. “We only care about your well being, Myka,” she spoke gently.
The use of her given name surprised Myka into listening.
“Your flight leaves this evening. Claudia will help you pack,” she said looking to the young girl who nodded.
“How long am I supposed to be away?” Myka asked helpless.
“As long as it takes for you to feel well.”
In her current state, Myka didn’t think that would ever happen, but she only nodded. “What about if…” she trailed off, unsure how to voice her desire.
Mrs. Frederic understood. “The first moment we receive any news of Agent Wells’ whereabouts, we’ll notify you and send for you. Now go.”
“Thank you,” Myka spoke as she began her ascent upstairs.
It seemed like it had been hours ago that Myka hurriedly spoke over the phone to her parents letting them know she was coming home for an impromptu visit. Her morning conversation with Claudia and Mrs. Frederic seemed like a lifetime ago, but now at a quarter to nine, she stepped out of the taxi closing the door after her and stepped up onto the curb in front of her parents’ bookstore where both Warren and Jeannie Bering rushed to greet her.
Hearing a car door slam at the somewhat late hour for this quiet town, Helena glanced out her front window down to the street below and was not prepared for the racing of her heart at the sight before her. “Myka,” she whispered and her eyes continued to hungrily look on and soak in every detail of the other woman, who even from the distance, looked worn out. Fear clutched in Helena’s chest at the thought that perhaps Myka wasn’t entirely well, that perhaps the sweating sickness hadn’t quite released its hold from her.
She longed to race downstairs into the street and gather Myka in her arms, but now was not the time for that. It was late and Myka would need rest after her travel. Not to mention there was an explanation that Helena would no doubt need to make at her sudden appearance on the threshold of Bering & Sons’ Bookstore. Now was not the time for that, Helena realized, so she stayed still and watched instead.
Warren noticed his daughter’s appearance as well and quickly relieved Myka of the bag she wore over her shoulder. Giving her a quick hug he spoke hoarsely, “It’s good to have you home, kiddo.”
Myka couldn’t help a small smile at the endearment. Her dad had never been one much for those endearments, but ever since they had made peace three years ago, he used them much more than he ever had before.
Jeannie Bering gave Myka a firm hug as well. “Come on inside, I’ll get you something to eat,” she spoke guiding Myka inside the bookstore.
“Thanks, Mom, but I’m not really hungry, just tired. If it’s all right, I’ll just go to bed now?”
Jeannie shared a look with her husband. After Myka’s call that morning, they received a call from a Dr. Calder, explaining Myka needed rest and nourishment. Jeannie was more than ready to supply the nourishment if only Myka would let her. Warren just shook his head silently as if to say, just let the girl rest tonight and hit her with the nourishment in the morning.
“Fine dear, you go ahead and go to sleep and in the morning, I’ll prepare a big breakfast for you.”
Myka smiled weakly and said nothing as the family climbed the stairs to the apartment, Warren switching off the light to the bookstore.
Helena had watched Myka and her parents enter the store and kept on watching until the moment the lights were extinguished. Only then did she take a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. “Sleep well, dearest Myka,” she whispered.
For the first time in weeks, both women slept soundly, the reoccurring nightmare they shared at last eluding them.
Myka awoke late the next morning and was surprised at the fact. Normally an early riser anyway, ever since the nightmares, she tended not to sleep well and rise earlier. This morning it was almost nine o’clock before she finally rose. During her shower, she contemplated the reason for not having the nightmare and decided she must have been too exhausted the night before to dream.
Myka met her parents in the kitchen, her father just finishing eating eggs and bacon. Myka was astonished at the spread before her. French toast, eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, muffins, juice and coffee graced the table.
“Are you expecting company for breakfast?” Myka asked eyeing all the food before her.
“No dear, this is for you,” Jeannie answered.
“For me?” Myka shook her head. “I can’t eat all this, Mom,” she said taking a seat at the table and pouring a glass of orange juice for herself, rather than her usual coffee. She didn’t have to work, thus she didn’t need the caffeine to help her stay awake; and she hoped by bypassing the caffeine, she would have another restful night of sleep.
“Just eat what you can then,” Jeannie replied even as she handed Myka a plate heaping with food.
Myka looked at her plate and grimaced inwardly. She seemed to have lost her appetite over the last few weeks, but she made an effort to satisfy her mother’s watchful gaze and picked at her food, really only managing to eat some of the fruit and eggs.
“So, is there something I can do to help out in the store today? Inventory maybe?” she asked in between eating a slice of apple.
“There’s no need for that kiddo,” Warren replied. “You’re on vacation from work, just rest.”
Myka let out a soft laugh. “What’s going on here? Why are you two both suddenly so protective of me? You only want me to eat and rest. Did someone talk to you?” she asked suspiciously.
Jeannie sighed and Warren gently laid a hand on Myka’s arm. “Your work physician called, Dr. Calder is it?” Myka nodded shakily. “She’s concerned about you is all, we all are. She said your whole team had been through quite an ordeal, but didn’t give us any details. She just wanted us to make sure you received plenty of rest and nourishment and this visit is just as much required as anything else.”
Myka quickly brushed away a tear. Everything was getting to be too much again. Memories of Artie’s trial and Leena’s funeral flooded her mind; added to that, there were also her nightmares and Helena’s whereabouts unknown.
“Myka, you know you can tell us anything,” Jeannie spoke gently, “we only want to help you.”
Myka sniffled and nodded. “I know. I’m just not ready to talk about what’s happened. It’s all still too…painful,” she finished weakly. “I think I’ll get started on that inventory now,” she said rising from the table.
“Myka…” Jeannie trailed off.
“It’s all right,” Warren interrupted, “sometimes work is the best way to work through life’s troubles. Let her go, Jeannie. Myka, I’ll be down to help in a minute.”
Myka silently nodded and made her way downstairs into the comfort of her family’s bookstore.
Helena had risen at dawn, feeling more refreshed and alert than she had in weeks. She showered and dressed right away then made herself a light breakfast of toast and jam and a cup of tea. She settled herself in a chair by the front window as she stared across the street at the Bering and Sons bookstore, looking for any sign of life from within. She was just working on her third cup of tea when movement caught her gaze. Leaning forward she watched with baited breath and smiled as she saw Myka moving about. Helena drank in the sight of Myka’s lithe form moving from one shelf to the next, a stack of books in her arms as she organized them.
Bering and Sons didn’t open for another half hour, and Helena spent every second of that time watching Myka and willing herself to gain the courage to meet her after several months apart with no word. She had no idea what Myka’s reaction would be.
Hope ignited as Helena thought that surely, after Myka had all ready forgiven her so much, this separation too could be forgiven? Especially since it wasn’t Helena’s idea, but orders she had to follow? Then again, Helena despaired as Myka had forgiven so much all ready, perhaps this was the last straw and Helena wouldn’t be forgiven again. Fear and doubt swelled within her heart as she thought about Myka rejecting her.
Helena had almost convinced herself not to confront Myka after all when she watched Myka step to the front door to unlock it and turn the closed sign to open. If anyone had a sign, Helena did now. Gaining courage, she stood from her seat at the window, straightened her jacket and with a resigned air of one about to confront their fate head on, left her apartment for the little bookstore across the way.
Books were familiar and safe to Myka. The adventures and romances that filled pages between hard back and leather were always thrilling and spellbinding when visited in one’s own mind. It was quite another thing altogether to live through real life adventure and romance, as Myka knew only too well.
Myka laughed at her naïve self who was once a bright-eyed girl who couldn’t wait to live a life like the stories she adored. Her real life adventures had only brought her pain and too many near-death experiences than she cared to count. And what about the romance? She had watched Sam die in front of her eyes. And Helena? If her dreams were anything to go by, she watched Helena die before her eyes as well, just before realizing she was in love with the woman; never getting a chance to communicate her feelings and finding out if they were returned and acting on them. Now Helena was gone, nowhere to be found.
It was too much to bear and Myka felt tears well in her eyes once more and a headache beginning to form. She really wasn’t prepared to face anyone now, as the bell over the front door chimed to alert her she had a customer. She didn’t even have a chance to set down the pile of books in her arms or turn to greet the customer when a soft, familiar voice sounded behind her.
Dropping the books she held, Myka spun around, the shock on her face clearly evident.
“Helena,” was all she managed to voice before the world went dark and Myka, weary from fatigue and shock fainted before Helena’s very eyes.
Helena was at her side in a second, gently lifting Myka into her lap and cradling her.
“Someone! Someone please help!” Helena called out frantically. Warren and Jeannie raced from the storage room to find Myka collapsed in Helena’s arms.
“Dear God, what’s happened?” cried Jeannie.
“She’s fainted, please call an ambulance,” Helena spoke trying desperately to remain calm.
Warren all ready moved to the phone to call for emergency.
“Mrs. Bering, please get me a cold compress for Myka,” Helena spoke again.
“Of course,” she replied running off.
Alone again for a moment, Helena clung to Myka, holding her close to her chest and gently rocking her. “Please, darling, wake up. You need to wake up now,” she spoke so softly, trying to keep back threatening tears.
Jeannie returned just as Warren finished the call. “The ambulance is on its way,” he spoke clearly upset seeing Myka unconscious.
Helena silently took the cold washcloth from Jeannie as she stood back to hold onto her husband. They both silently looked on as Helena gently moved the cloth over Myka’s forehead, then moving lower across her cheeks, down her neck and finally resting on her chest left exposed from her tee-shirt.
“Please, Myka, wake up,” she quietly whispered again. If the Berings were confused that Helena seemed to know Myka, they didn’t show it, but only looked on as very slowly, Myka’s eyes began to flutter open.
Myka could feel slender arms embracing her against a slim form. She felt a cool cloth placed against her flushed skin. Finally, she heard the most beautiful sound, a voice speaking to her, a voice that could only belong to Helena.
She had to be sure if the vision she saw before was true. She had to know if Helena was truly with her now, or if it was just a cruel trick of the mind from wanting Helena to be near her for so long. She willed her eyes to open with all of her might, she had to see Helena, really see her. It took longer than she would have liked, but she finally managed to focus her gaze and tired green eyes at last met worried brown ones.
“Helena, is it really you?” Myka could barely whisper, what little strength she had that morning vanishing.
“Yes, darling, it’s me,” Helena smiled tearfully at her.
Slowly Myka reached a hand up to cup Helena’s tear-stained cheek. “I missed you, so much,” she whispered as her eyes began to flutter closed again.
Helena let out a gentle laugh at Myka’s words and moved her hand to cover Myka’s own at her cheek. “And I missed you, darling, more than I can express.”
Myka smiled weakly in return. “Please don’t leave me,” she spoke worried.
“No darling, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll not leave you, ever again,” she stated firmly enough that Myka believed her and smiled briefly before slipping into unconsciousness once more.
“Dr. Calder, Vanessa, please, what’s wrong with her?” Helena asked the warehouse doctor who had flown into Colorado Springs after Warren’s urgent call. Concern for Myka etched across Helena’s face.
“She’s exhausted and dehydrated. We have to get as much fluid into her as possible. That, combined with stress from work and constant worry about you, Myka’s body has finally collapsed with fatigue.
One sentence caught Helena’s attention more than the others. “Constant worry for me?”
Vanessa looked away from Myka for a moment to meet Helena’s troubled eyes. “Helena,” she spoke gently, “you must know how deeply Myka cares for you; and she hasn’t known where you were all this time. Of course she worried.”
Helena nodded sadly. “It wasn’t my decision…to stay away.”
Vanessa saw the defeat in Helena’s posture. “She knew that, Helena,” she spoke gently. “It didn’t make it hurt any less though, for either of you, I imagine.”
“No, it didn’t,” Helena agreed. Straightening her shoulders as if to embark into battle, Helena spoke, “What can I do to help her?”
“You can get some rest. There is no knowing when she might wake up. It could be hours…or even days.”
“I’m not leaving her,” she replied firmly. “I told Myka I’d never leave her again, and I won’t.”
Vanessa recognized there would be no convincing Helena to do anything less. She nodded, understanding and appreciating Helena’s determination and her loyalty to Myka. “Very well then, just be here for her then, that’s about all any of us can do right now. I’ll inform the rest of the team of Myka’s condition.”
“Yes, they’ll want to be by her side,” Helena spoke.
“They will,” Vanessa agreed, “but Myka’s greatest comfort is in having you by her side, and they should stay in South Dakota to comfort Artie.”
Helena looked up in surprise once more, her eyes showing her confusion.
Vanessa sighed heavily. Artie released the sweating sickness, as you might have gathered…he also killed Leena.”
“No! My god, that poor girl,” Helena spoke, sitting heavily in a nearby chair dropping her head in her hands.
Vanessa nodded. “The evil effects of the astrolabe were more powerful than we could have imagined,” she spoke, her own voice hoarse with emotion. “The dagger Artie asked you to research is actually what ended up saving him. Claudia stabbed him with it, separating the evil from within, and now Artie has to come to terms to what happened. It wasn’t him,” Vanessa emphasized, “but the artifact affecting him.”
“I understand,” Helena spoke quietly. “I only know too well the power evil can hold over a person, whether the effect of an artifact…or grief.”
“Yes, and you of all people can understand that only love is more powerful than evil, powerful enough to conquer it,” Vanessa replied gently.
Helena slipped her hand into Myka’s unresponsive one. “Yes, I know that too,” she whispered, never taking her eyes of Myka’s sleeping face.
“So, you know our Myka then. Are you two…partners?” Jeannie Bering asked as she and Warren entered the hospital room.
Helena looked up, startled to hear a voice breaking the silence where only the steady beep of the heart monitor could be heard before. She followed the Berings pointed gaze at the two women’s interlocked fingers. Unwilling to pull away from Myka’s hand, Helena spoke more calmly than she felt, “Myka and I work for the same agency. I was sent away on a mission for the last several months with no contact with her…or anyone else on the team for that matter.”
“But you…care for her, don’t you?” Warren Bering persisted glancing once more at their entwined fingers before meeting Helena’s eyes again.
Meeting his eyes unwaveringly, she spoke, “Yes, I care for Myka a great deal, more than I care for anyone else in this life. She saved me in more ways than I’ll ever be able to repay her.”
“And coming to Colorado Springs wasn’t just coincidence then?” Warren prodded knowingly.
Helena sighed. “No.” Dropping her eyes to look at Myka’s hand in hers, she continued. “I was ordered to have no contact with anyone connected with…our agency, including Myka of course. The risk was too great. So, I felt the next best thing would be to be connected to Myka through you. To watch over her family when she could not.”
“Well then, Myka will be so glad to see you here when she wakes,” spoke Jeannie giving Helena a grateful smile that Helena returned.
“I hope so,” she sighed, her gaze lingering back on Myka’s still sleeping form.
It was the middle of the night when Myka suddenly awoke from her slumber. At first she was confused of her surroundings and the steady beep of a monitor. Very slowly she focused on the details of the room she found herself in. It wasn’t until she looked to her left that she saw her. “Helena,” Myka breathed, her voice hoarse from disuse.
Helena, who sat half asleep in the chair by Myka’s bedside, was instantly alert at the sound of Myka’s strained voice. In a flash she was out the chair by Myka’s side, reaching for her hand.
“Myka, darling, you’re awake at last,” she spoke, the relief clear in her voice and eyes as she hungrily took in every feature of Myka’s beautiful, but still tired face.
Helena let out a short laugh. “You fainted, two days ago. You’ve been unconscious ever since. Dr. Calder says it was due to extreme stress. Saving the world will do that, you know,” she teased to cover the anxiety she still felt.
Myka squeezed her hand in response. Knowing her better than anyone else, she spoke gently, “I’m all right, Helena, I’m not going anywhere.”
Helena immediately sobered, all teasing set-aside as tears began to gather in her dark eyes. “I was so worried, Myka, you can’t imagine,” she tried looking away as a tear fell.
“Hey,” Myka spoke gently, tugging on their clasped hands to gain Helena’s attention. “I can imagine. In fact, I know. You disappeared for months remember? Without even saying goodbye.”
Helena frowned. “It wasn’t my decision. First the regents sent me on assignments, and then Artie had me researching the dagger. Finally, Mrs. Fredric sent me away with the astrolabe…you must believe me, Myka, if the decision had been mine, I never would have left you.”
As Myka met Helena’s eyes, she knew Helena spoke the truth and her heart raced at the thought that Helena didn’t want to leave her. Softly she spoke, “I’m glad you’re here now.”
Helena looked down at their hands, still entwined and noticed she was absently rubbing her thumb across Myka’s knuckles in a gentle caress. She blushed meeting Myka’s eyes once more. “I should let Dr. Calder know you’re awake,” she spoke hurriedly, trying to remove her hand, but Myka held tight, despite her weakness, and pulled Helena back.
“Please don’t leave me,” she echoed the same words she spoke before slipping into unconsciousness two days ago.
Helena shook her head, for of course she could deny Myka nothing. “All right, I’ll stay,” she smiled brushing a stray curl away from Myka’s forehead. “I’m rather getting used to that chair anyway,” she laughed lightly.
Myka glanced to the rather uncomfortable looking hospital chair and back at Helena. “You’ve been sleeping in that chair the last two nights?” she asked perplexed.
Helena shrugged; pink coloring her cheeks once more in embarrassment. “I couldn’t leave you, not after you asked me not to,” she replied avoiding Myka’s gaze.
Myka took in Helena’s appearance. Her clothes were rumpled, her usually perfect raven hair slightly disarrayed and now that she looked more closely, her eyes had definite circles under them.
“Oh Helena,” she sighed. “You’re sleeping here tonight,” she said beginning to readjust on the bed.
Helena looked aghast. “Myka, no, there’s no room for both of us.”
“Yes there is, look,” she spoke as she moved carefully to one side and shifted to lie on her side.
Helena didn’t look convinced.
“You coming?” Myka asked and even in her weakened state, Helena knew her tone booked no argument.
Slipping off her boots, she nimbly slid under the covers behind Myka, also turning on her side. Unsure where to put her hand at the angle, and left with little room, Helena hesitantly slipped her arm around Myka’s slender waist.
Hearing Myka gasp, she quickly pulled away.
“No, don’t,” Myka spoke reaching again for Helena’s arm and guiding it back around her waist. “You just surprised me, is all.”
“I’m sorry,” Helena spoke in a whisper, not trusting her voice as a flood of emotions overwhelmed her at being this close to Myka and touching her so intimately. Myka remained hold of her hand and seemed to have no intention of letting go.
“Don’t be sorry, Helena,” she spoke, sleep beginning to overtake her again. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Myka fell asleep almost before finishing her sentence, but Helena remained awake a moment longer, savoring the feeling of Myka in her arms at long last. Nestling her face in brown curls, she inhaled Myka’s soft scent. Finally, content all was right with her world, at least for the moment, Helena fell into a deep sleep with Myka by her side.
Dr. Calder entered the hospital room early morning to find Helena and Myka sleeping soundly in the small bed. Vanessa couldn’t help smiling at seeing Helena’s arm wrapped protectively around Myka as they both slumbered. Quietly so not to disturb the two women, Vanessa gently pulled the blanket tighter around their shoulders. As she left the room, she had no doubt Myka would make a quick recovery with Helena by her side.
It was late in the morning when Dr. Calder finally returned to check on Myka. She found the young woman awake, turned slightly to face Helena as she gently brushed her fingers through Helena’s dark tresses.
Vanessa smiled at the sight and quietly walked to Myka’s side. “I’m glad to see you awake at last, Myka,” she spoke softly.
Myka, so absorbed in looking at Helena and running her fingers through her hair was startled to see the doctor by her side. She blushed in embarrassment and dropped her hand to her side.
“Your color has returned, I see,” the doctor winked, “always a good sign of health and recovery.”
“What time is it?” Myka spoke softly, trying not to wake Helena and pointedly ignoring the doctor’s implication.
Helena, so in tune to Myka, startled awake at the sound of her voice.
“Myka, are you all right?” she asked drowsily, her eyes fluttering open. Finally focusing on her surroundings, she saw Vanessa looking at her with a smile on her face.
Instantly Helena tried to separate from Myka, but Myka held firm and she quickly settled back by her side.
“Good morning, Helena,” Vanessa spoke lightly. “I was just commenting to Myka that I was glad to see her awake at last, and that the color to her cheeks has returned, making me believe she’s fast on the way to recovery, no doubt due in some part to your presence.”
Both women’s eyes met briefly before dropping away, embarrassed. “Yes, she actually woke in the middle of the night,” Helena spoke, “but, seeing as it was the middle of the night, and she was still so tired, there didn’t seem an immediate need to alert anyone.”
“I see,” Dr. Calder only nodded her head knowingly and did her best to refrain from smiling at the two obviously in love women.
Myka interrupted whatever else the doctor might have said and asked, “Will I be able to go home today?”
The doctor looked thoughtful. “I want to take a blood sample first, just to be sure you truly are out of the woods; but then, if all looks good, yes, I’d say that can be arranged,” she smiled.
“And, in answer to your original question, it’s nearly nine o’clock and time for visitors. Your parents are waiting just outside to see you, Myka.”
“That must be my cue to vacate the bed,” Helena tried to joke as she reluctantly removed herself from Myka’s side. Myka immediately felt the loss of warmth and watched as Helena carefully pulled the blanket to tuck it in around her. Helena’s clothes were terribly wrinkled and her hair was still mussed from sleep, but Myka thought she never looked more radiant.
Satisfied that Myka was well tucked in, Helena ran a hand trough her hair, trying to smooth it back to look somewhat more manageable. Looking down at her clothes, she tried to smooth out the wrinkles in her blouse. Unsuccessful, she laughed at herself. “Your parents will think I’m an unkempt woman, I must look such a sight.”
“A beautiful sight,” Myka sighed gently.
Both Helena and Vanessa turned sharply to look at Myka. Amusement filtered through Vanessa’s eyes, but it was something else entirely that smoldered in Helena’s dark eyes. Myka blushed at the attention. “I didn’t realize I said that out loud,” she mumbled looking down at her hands. Remembering the promise to herself, she looked up and boldly met Helena’s gaze. “You are though…beautiful.”
Helena opened her mouth to speak but at just that moment, Mr. and Mrs. Bering walked into the room.
“There’s our girl,” Warren proclaimed as he and Jeannie hurried to Myka’s bedside.
Helena stepped away as the moment between she and Myka was broken.
“Myka, you’re finally awake,” Jeannie spoke relieved as she bent to kiss Myka’s forehead.
“Yeah, hi Mom, Dad,” she spoke, her eyes never leaving Helena.
Warren turned to see where Myka’s gaze fell and saw Helena for the first time. “Helena, have you been here all night again?” he asked taking in her appearance.
Helena laughed lightly. “Obviously my state of dress has given me away. I should really leave you all alone, give you a chance to talk.”
“Oh, you poor dear,” Jeannie stepped forward also taking in Helena’s appearance. “It must have been a difficult night sleeping in that chair.”
Helena’s eyes quickly found Myka’s and they both blushed and smiled. “Not too terrible,” Helena spoke, but I should go.”
Warren looked between the two women and noticed Myka looked like she wanted to protest Helena’s leaving but couldn’t quite manage it.
“There’s no need to leave on our account,” Warren spoke. “It looks as though Myka would prefer it if you stay.”
Helena was surprised at his observation and she once more looked at Myka and saw the pleading in her eyes. Slowly she approached the bed and slipped her hand into Myka’s to give it a gentle squeeze.
“Just give me two hours, darling. Enough time for me to drive home, shower and change and then I promise I’ll be back at your side, all right?”
Myka nodded. “Hurry back,” she spoke and berated herself for sounding so desperate.
Helena only smiled and looked as if all she wanted to do was cling to Myka in return. “I will, I promise.” With a final nod to Dr. Calder and goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Bering, Helena left the room and Myka couldn’t help feeling a part of her left with Helena.
Dr. Calder noticed the difference in Myka’s demeanor and spoke reassuringly. “She’ll return, Myka. She refused to leave your side for the past two days, not until now when she was absolutely sure you would be all right.”
Tears welled in Myka’s eyes at Helena’s gesture and she smiled.
“Helena, we’re having a celebration dinner tonight. Tracy and Kevin and the baby will be coming. We invited Dr. Calder as well, but she declined, but we would like you to join us,” spoke Jeannie.
Helena held firmly to Myka’s hand, they hadn’t let go of each other since the moment Helena returned after being away only an hour and forty minutes rather than the estimated two. “That will be lovely, thank you, Jeannie,” Helena nodded appreciatively.
Jeannie smiled. “Good. Warren and I will leave now to get everything prepared, so you two come along whenever you’re ready, mind you not too late,” she gently chided.
Helena laughed. “I promise, Myka and I will be at your door dressed and ready to dine no later than six-thirty.”’
“We’ll hold you to that, Helena,” Warren spoke jovially and Myka could not remember another time when her father seemed so…pleasant. Helena could obviously charm anyone, she thought with a grin.
“We’ll see you later then, kiddo,” he spoke to Myka giving her unoccupied hand a brief squeeze before turning to leave with his wife.
At last they were alone together once more. Helena turned to Myka and they both smiled, uncertain how to proceed. “Well then, can I get you something to eat? You didn’t eat much at lunch,” Helena spoke.
“I’m not really hungry.”
“How about rest? Do you need to sleep, a nap perhaps?” Helena was rambling and she knew it; they both did.
Myka shook her head. “Take me home, Helena,” she spoke softly.
“Oh, all right, you’re ready to go home then, your parents will be pleased.”
“No, not their home, your home,” Myka spoke earnestly.
“Mine?” Helena asked confused.
“I want to see where you’ve been…all this time.”
Helena sighed. “Righty-ho then. Do you need help dressing…or…should I…what can I do to help?” she finally managed to ask.
Myka smiled at Helena’s slight discomfort. It was unusual to see the usually confident woman struggle with anything. Helena was not a prudish woman, quite the contrary. Myka hoped Helena’s discomfort at the thought of helping her dress meant the feelings Myka had for Helena were reciprocated, for surely Myka would stammer too at the thought of Helena needing her assistance dressing.
“I think I can manage dressing myself, if you could just help me out of bed and to the bathroom to change?”
“Of course,” Helena spoke rising quickly to assist Myka, carrying the small bag Mrs. Bering brought over that afternoon with a change of clothes. “I’ll just be right outside if you need any help,” she spoke as she pulled the door closed.
Myka was still incredibly weak Helena noticed as they began to climb the flight of stairs to her second level apartment, Myka clinging heavily to the railing as she pulled herself up each step.
By the third step, Helena finally gave in to her desire and slipped her arm around Myka’s waist as she helped lift the taller woman up each step. Again, a gasp of surprise escaped from Myka’s lips and she quickly met Helena’s laughing eyes.
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Myka tried to laugh.
“Of course, darling, I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to wrap my arms around a beautiful woman now could I?” she asked with her usual smirk. Myka’s heart fluttered at her carefree words and once more, all was right with the world; Helena was flirting with her again.
Finally reaching the top step, Helena dug the key out of her pocket to open the door and guide Myka inside.
It was a small apartment. To the left of the door was a small kitchen, or rather a kitchenette with just a sink, a couple cupboards, a small refrigerator and a stove. Myka noticed a tea cup, no doubt once holding Helena’s infamous tea was left on a small round table next to a single chair pulled in front of the window that overlooked her parents bookstore. The living area consisted of a worn looking sofa and a TV set so old, Myka doubted it still worked. Knowing Helena, she probably never watched it anyway. Off the living room was a small hallway that most likely led to a single bedroom and bathroom. Over all, it was quaint, but it didn’t feel like it belonged to Helena. Only a small wooden desk shoved in a corner bore any resemblance to Helena. Papers and gadgets were strewn about it as if Helena was in the middle of some project.
“It’s not much, but it’s home…or rather a home, not necessarily mine, but mine for the time being,” Helena rambled again. She really didn’t know what was wrong with her, she usually wasn’t one for rambling, but Myka had that affect on her.
“How long have you been here?”
Helena cringed inside at the question. “Four months. At first I traveled, constantly, not wanting Artie to find me. For three months, I traveled from one city to another, never staying in one place longer than a week or two.” Helena laughed wearily. “I discovered I don’t have much of the gypsy in me, I longed to stay settled in one place. Since the one place I wanted to be,” and at this she pointedly looked at Myka, “was unavailable, I decided on the next best place, here, near your family.”
“Where you could keep an eye on them,” Myka interjected.
“That thought did cross my mind,” Helena smiled. “I was careful, kept a close watch on anyone coming or going through town. After the first month, I finally began to relax that Artie truly had no idea where I was or how to find me.”
“None of us knew where you were,” Myka spoke forlornly.
Helena shrugged. “I made a wise choice then; and it was necessary to remain discreet.”
“But you met my parents?”
Helena blushed. “Yes, I couldn’t quite manage to stay away from your childhood home, as it were, I do so love a good bookstore, you know,” she smiled.
Myka smiled back. “And this apartment would allow you to keep an eye on them,” she said starting to walk towards the window.
“Yes,” Helena replied. “Oh, excuse the mess,” she suddenly spoke as she moved quickly in front of Myka to pick up a discarded blouse, a pair of trousers…a bra and…” Myka’s breath caught in her throat as she felt another blush begin to cross her face for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.
Myka cleared her throat trying to settle her sudden nerves. “Do you usually leave your clothes strewn across the floor Agent Wells?” she tried to tease.
Helena laughed. “Not usually but I was in such a hurry to return to a certain secret service agent and I couldn’t be bothered with niceties such as putting them in a hamper. It was quite fortunate actually I didn’t happen upon anyone as I made my way upstairs as I had all ready had my shirt completely unbuttoned by the time I unlocked my door,” Helena smirked.
The thought of Helena with her shirt unbuttoned was enough to make Myka’s knees weak and she suddenly found herself reaching for the sofa to sit down.
“Are you all right, darling?” Helena asked concerned, still holding her displaced clothing in her arms.
Myka met Helena’s warm eyes and nodded. “I’m just more tired than I thought,” she mumbled.
“Here then,” she spoke extending her hand, “let me help you to bed where you can lay down until we’re expected for dinner.”
Myka took Helena’s hand and followed as she led her to the small bedroom down the hallway, depositing the clothes in a hamper in the bathroom first.
The small bed was neatly made and looked warm and inviting with the sun streaming through the window creating a pattern across the comforter.
Helena swiftly pulled back the covers and stepped aside for Myka to slip between the sheets. She began to pull them over Myka when Myka held her wrist to stop her.
Helena looked at her expectantly. “Will you lay with me?” Myka asked in a near whisper.
Helena looked at the bed and smiled. “I’m not sure we’ll both fit, darling.”
“Of course we will. This bed is bigger than the hospital bed.”
“Only slightly,” Helena relented as she slipped in beside Myka who was turned on her side.
It was Helena’s turn to gasp as Myka slipped her arm around her waist and pulled her close. She could feel Myka’s smile against her shoulder. “Now you know how I feel,” she whispered, and Myka’s soft breath against her cheek caused Helena to moan inwardly.
“Yes, well I rather like this…cuddling,” Helena acquiesced.
Myka laughed happily. “Most couples call this particular kind of intimate cuddling spooning.”
“Spooning?” Helena asked unsure of the word.
“Like spoons, the way they fit together perfectly,” Myka explained.
“Hmm. We do fit together perfectly, don’t we?”
“Like a puzzle piece,” Myka whispered in agreement.
“And we do so love puzzles, don’t we?” Helena spoke, also in a whisper.
“Mmm,” Myka agreed as she closed her eyes and nestled into Helena’s neck, breathing in the comforting scent of her hair that smelled faintly of apples.
The feeling of Myka so near sent shivers down Helena’s spine. “And you say this spooning is something…couples…do…to be intimate?” Helena spoke trying to understand.
Myka opened her eyes at the implied question. “Yeah,” she breathed shakily.
Helena brought her hand to cover Myka’s own at her waist. “I rather like this…spooning,” she finally replied.
Myka let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. “So do I.”
Helena pulled Myka’s arm tighter around her. “Rest now, darling. I’ll be right here when you awake.”
Myka nodded and was asleep within minutes, Helena close behind.
“He’s beautiful, Tracy,” Myka spoke as she held her nephew in her arms for the first time. Tracy sat on her right and Helena on her left on the sofa in the Bering’s living room. Warren and Kevin each sat in a chair on the opposite side.
“He is, isn’t he?” Tracy agreed happily as she ran a fingertip down his cheek.
“You’re a very fortunate woman to have such a handsome lad,” Helena spoke softly. “No doubt he’ll bring you and your husband much happiness.”
Myka couldn’t help looking at Helena and seeing her dark eyes glisten softly with restrained tears.
Tracy smiled at Helena. “Thank you. Yes, Kevin and I are looking forward to those years of baseball leagues, school, and a driver’s permit,” she laughed.
“Savor every moment, the years slip by much too fast,” Helena spoke quietly. Myka moved one arm from under the baby to gently slip her hand into Helena’s to giving her a supportive squeeze. She knew all too well whom Helena’s thoughts had turned to.
Helena glanced up at Myka and smiled. The tears still glistened, but they would not fall in the face of Myka looking at her so adoringly, with such…love…comforting her. Helena squeezed her hand back letting her know she was all right.
“I better see if I can help Mom in the kitchen,” Tracy spoke seeing the moment her sister and Helena were having. “Kevin, come with me,” she motioned and her husband quickly followed.
Warren too, seeing the two women had eyes only for each other decided to make himself scarce.
“It seems we’re all alone, darling,” Helena spoke lowly.
Myka looked up at her words and noticed they were indeed alone. “Where did everyone go?”
Helena smiled. “I think they retreated to the kitchen. Not to worry, more time for us to enjoy this little one’s presence,” she spoke gently rubbing the baby’s downy head.
“You look good with a child in your arms,” Helena continued and Myka blushed. “Have you ever thought of having children of your own?” she asked suddenly curious.
“No,” Myka shook her head. “I never really gave it any consideration, I was always more career oriented. And now with the warehouse…” she trailed off. “But if I was with the right person, and it was something they wanted… yes, I could maybe see myself with a child or two.”
“Or three?” Helena smiled teasingly.
“If that’s what you want,” Myka replied meeting Helena’s eyes, her heart hammering in her chest at her sudden boldness.
Helena instantly sobered. “Myka, I…” she began softly before they were once again interrupted.
“Time for dinner,” Tracy spoke entering the room again.
Just once, Myka wished fate were on her side. She longed to hear what Helena intended to say, but it wasn’t to be.
“Sorry,” Tracy apologized, realizing she had interrupted something. “Here, let me take the baby,” she said gently lifting her son from Myka’s arms.
Myka smiled weakly at Tracy and watched her retreat with her baby to the dining room.
“We should probably talk about…us…later, when we’re alone, anyway, don’t you agree?” Helena asked so quietly Myka had to lean forward to hear her.
Myka nodded, her heart beginning to race again at Helena’s use of the word “us” in reference to them. “I think it’s necessary,” she agreed.
Helena smiled softly. “Shall we then?” she asked in her usual lilting voice as she stood and held out a hand to Myka.
Myka smiled warmly as she took Helena’s hand to help her from the sofa and allowed her to lead her the dining table for dinner.
“So, Helena, how long have you and Myka known each other?” Tracy asked curious over dinner.
“And you work together in the secret service?” she asked skeptically at the thought of an Englishwoman part of an American Secret Service agency.
“Helena’s position with us is rather specialized and classified,” Myka interjected.
“And she was sent to Colorado Springs on assignment?” Tracy persisted trying to understand.
Myka moved to explain, but Helena grasped her hand under the table letting her know she was all right with the questions. Myka smiled briefly at her.
“I was entrusted with a special mission, and I had my choice of location, but after much thought, determined Colorado Springs was the proper place to be. I knew this was Myka’s home town and any place that helped create the woman Myka is, I determined was a place worth seeing,” Helena finished.
“And what now?” asked Warren. “I gather your mission was successful?”
“Yes,” Helena smiled. “Thankfully because of Myka and Pete and the rest of our team, it was and I can return now to South Dakota…with Myka.”
“South Dakota still seems the strangest place to be assigned for the Secret Service,” Tracy sighed.
“Well, that’s the secret in Secret Service, Trace, and South Dakota is about as secret as it gets when it comes to our line of work,” Myka explained.
“It’s just you’re too far away from us, Myka,” spoke Jeannie. “We’d like to visit you but…”
“Mom, I’m sorry, but we’re not really set up for visitors where we live. I mean, what we do, truly is top secret.”
“We understand, Myka,” Warren spoke.
“Yes, we’d just like to see you more than once a year at Christmas,” Jeannie continued.
“I’ll try to take time off to come visit more often,” Myka spoke.
“I’ll see that she does,” Mrs. Bering,” Helena spoke. “Myka works too hard as it is, wearing herself out as we can all attest to from these last few days,” she spoke grasping Myka’s hand under the table offering a comforting touch. “I’ll make sure she doesn’t get so worn out any longer.”
Myka turned to look at Helena softly. “You know it was more than just work that had me so worn out,” Myka spoke so quietly only Helena could hear.
“Thank you, Helena, I appreciate you caring for Myka,” Jeannie spoke gratefully. “And you, of course, would be welcome to accompany Myka when she does come for a visit.”
“That’s very kind of you and perhaps I’ll take your offer one day,” Helena smiled.
“It’s so chivalrous of you to see me to my door, Myka, but completely unnecessary,” Helena spoke as they crossed they street side by side.
Myka smiled. “I’m not just seeing you to your door, Helena, I’m staying with you tonight,” she spoke firmly.
Helena turned sharply to look at her. “Myka, darling, you need your rest and you’d probably sleep better in your own bed, without trying to share a bed that’s really too small for two.”
“I’ll sleep better knowing you’re near. It’s been eight months, Helena since I saw you last. Eight months of not knowing where you were, if you…” Myka’s voice trailed off as she tried to reign in her emotions and Helena’s heart broke at the sight of her trying to be so strong. Myka cleared her throat. “I told them not to wait up for me, that I would stay with you tonight.”
Helena only nodded as she slipped her hand into Myka’s and led her back to her apartment in silence.
The dim light of a lamp on a small table next to the sofa made the apartment appear cozier than it had earlier that afternoon.
“I suppose we should…talk…about…us,” Helena began somewhat awkwardly and frowned at herself and her sudden lack of suave she usually effortlessly possessed.
Myka smiled to herself, finding she enjoyed seeing Helena with her defenses down and at a loss for words. The truth was, Myka did want to talk about them, desperately. There were three words in particular she vowed she would speak to Helena when she saw her again, and here they were, two days after she first laid eyes on Helena and she still hadn’t spoken the words. Granted, she had been unconscious the majority of that time, but once she’d awoken early this morning, she kept putting off voicing her feelings. She was terrified Helena didn’t return them, even though her actions spoke to the contrary.
Suddenly tired, Myka answered, “We should talk,” she agreed, “but if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a shower first. It’s been a couple days after all,” she explained.
Helena was surprised at Myka putting off their conversation, but also relieved. “Of course, darling.”
Myka started towards the direction of the bathroom and quickly came back to Helena looking sheepish.
“When I left my parents, I seemed to have neglected to bring a change of clothes with me. Would you happen to have anything I can wear to sleep in?”
Helena smiled at Myka’s discomfort. “I think that can be arranged,” she spoke gently patting Myka’s arm briefly before disappearing into the bedroom and rummaging through a drawer. Sauntering back into the living room she placed a pair of folded sleep shorts and a white camisole into Myka’s arms.
“There you are. Now, you just go ahead and take your shower while I boil some water for tea and then when you’re done, we’ll sit on the sofa with our tea and have a little chat, all right?”
Myka smiled. “All right,” she agreed retreating to the bathroom and her long awaited shower.
Myka wrapped a towel around her body and stepped out of the shower. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she tried running a hand through her mess of damp curls and sighed in defeat. There was no taming them.
She picked up the camisole lying on the counter and held it under her nose, breathing in the faint scent of Helena still lingering. Happily, Myka pulled it over her head. “A perfect fit,” she whispered to herself as she pulled it over her lithe form “just like us.”
Myka felt refreshed and alert as she quietly entered the living room. She halted at the sight of Helena sitting on one corner of the sofa, a steaming cup of tea in her hand, just staring absently into some unknown realm. Music played softly from a stereo nearby. Myka noticed Helena was dressed in another camisole, this one light blue and another pair of sleep shorts. Helena ran slender fingers through her raven tresses and Myka watched as her hair cascaded in falls down her slender back. The sight of her took Myka’s breath away and she was momentarily distracted from her real purpose.
Suddenly feeling Myka’s presence, Helena turned to see her standing in the hallway, just staring. For a moment their eyes locked. “Are you just going to stand there and stare at me all night, or do you plan to join me on the sofa so we can have our talk?” Helena asked, her eyes dancing as she noticed a blush creep from Myka’s chest to her cheeks.
Myka stepped forward, rubbing the back of her neck, a nervous habit Helena found endearing. Helena found it was her turn to feel breathless as Myka walked towards the sofa, her long legs looking even longer in the pair of shorts Helena provided to her. Her dark curls clung to her, still damp and her skin glowed from the heat of her shower and the blush hadn’t quite disappeared, leaving Myka looking lovelier than Helena could ever remember seeing her.
Myka sat down next to Helena, only millimeters apart, noticing a pillow and folded blanket occupied the opposite corner of the sofa. She decided to ignore its presence and implication for the moment and reached for the second cup on the coffee table and took a sip of the tea Helena prepared for her.
She felt the warmth of the liquid spread through her body and sighed contently. “Thank you for the tea, Helena, it’s lovely.”
“Yes, I always enjoy a good cup of tea.”
Myka laughed. “Yeah, I remember. All those evenings we spent in the bed and breakfast library, reading and drinking tea together.”
“Some of my fondest memories,” Helena spoke softly.
“Mine too,” Myka met her eyes and smiled. “I used to look forward to our evenings alone together so much.”
“Yes, those evenings were wonderful,” Helena agreed, “before I…well, before,” she finished lamely, frowning at herself.
Myka slipped her hand into Helena’s, making the other woman glance up at her in question. “You’re here now, that’s all that matters,” and they both knew by ‘here’ Myka meant more than their proximity. Myka meant that Helena had redeemed herself, only Helena wasn’t completely certain she had, despite Myka’s confidence to the contrary.
Helena gently removed her hand from Myka’s, on the pretense of setting her cup back on the table in front of them, but Myka felt the loss, and tried not to take it to heart. She followed suit and also set her cup on the table, then pointedly looked at the pillow and blanket sitting on the sofa.
Helena saw her gaze and followed it. Sighing she spoke, “I didn’t want to assume anything, and you do need your rest, Myka,” she spoke heavily.
Myka wondered at the sudden change in Helena’s demeanor, almost as if she’d given up on something. But the Helena Myka knew was a fighter. She felt at a loss of words of what to say to the other woman, how to make her understand all she felt for her.
She tried anyway. “Helena, I…” was as far as Myka got before Helena quickly rose from the sofa and turned to the stereo, turning up the music that had remained firmly in the background before. It was almost as if Helena knew what Myka wanted to say and wouldn’t let her.
But then there was a part of Helena that wanted nothing more than to reach out to Myka, and before she could restrain herself, she was moving back across the room to Myka.
“Care to dance, darling?” Helena asked extending her hand to Myka still seated on the sofa.
Myka was caught off guard first by her actions and then her request. “Helena, I’m not really much of a dancer,” she spoke apologetically.
“Nonsense,” Helena spoke taking Myka’s hand and gently pulling her to her feet despite her faint protest. “Claudia informed me once that modern dancing consists of nothing more than couples holding each other and gently swaying to music.”
Myka couldn’t help the grin that covered her face then. “That sounds like an accurate assessment.” And at that moment, she longed for nothing more than to hold onto Helena, and never let her go.
Helena guided them towards the middle of the room so not to bump into any furniture. She gently slipped her arms around Myka’s waist and pulled her close as Myka did the same. Both women gasped at the sensation of their bodies pressing against one another so intimately. They remembered being this close before, first when Helena used her grappler gun to yank them into the sky out of harm from a speeding car and then again when they were trapped by the ropes of the Mary Celeste. Now however was an entirely different circumstance. They weren’t in immediate danger and they were significantly less clothed.
Helena repressed a moan of pleasure from escaping her lips and instantly wondered if this was such a good idea after all. She had intended to divert Myka from speaking anything about their potential relationship, but actions speaking louder than words, this may not have been the best tactic, Helena suddenly realized. Despite that, Helena had no intention of letting Myka go at the moment.
Myka too felt that Helena was trying to divert her from speaking her mind and wondered why. Helena had alluded earlier that she had interfered with their budding relationship before…well before. Myka knew instinctively Helena didn’t feel redeemed from her actions at Yellowstone. It became Myka’s sole purpose now to make sure that Helena felt she had redeemed herself, more than redeemed.
The song changed to a slower tempo and Myka pulled Helena closer to her, this time hearing a faint moan escape Helena’s lips unintentionally. The sound of it almost had Myka buckling at the knees, but she only held tighter to the smaller woman.
The words of the song drifted and both women found themselves listening closely. Perhaps they didn’t need to speak after all. As if the song was tailor made for them, the lyrics would speak for them.
I don’t know why I’m scared, ‘cause I’ve been here before
Every feeling, every word, I’ve imagined it all
You’ll never know if you never try
To forgive your past and simply be mine
Myka had been terrified of her feelings for Helena for a time. She had loved and lost before, but with Helena, the love she felt was so much stronger, she knew the loss of it would be even greater. And she knew Helena had a hard time forgiving her past, enough to let Myka love her.
Helena closed her eyes at the words forgive your past and simply be mine. She longed for Myka to be hers in every sense, but she didn’t feel she deserved her. She’d caused everyone so much pain, Myka most of all. Her eyes still closed, Helena nuzzled her nose into Myka’s warm neck, tears beginning to cascade down her face onto Myka’s shoulder. Myka only pulled Helena closer, letting her know, she knew what Helena felt without words.
The song was coming to an end, repeating its lyric “I know it ain’t easy giving up your heart.” Myka gently pulled away and softly lifted Helena’s chin with her finger. Helena’s eyes remained stubbornly downcast and Myka could easily see the tears streaking down her face, despite the tears gathering in her own eyes.
So softly, she placed a gentle kiss on Helena’s cheek, tasting the saltiness of her tears. Caught off guard, Helena raised her eyes to meet Myka’s tearful gaze.
“I love you, Helena,” she whispered and before Helena could respond, Myka’s lips were pressed gently against hers. Helena whimpered at the contact and her tears began to flow at the love Myka so easily offered.
As if a dam had been broken, Helena could no longer deny her feelings to the woman she loved. Breaking the kiss, she spoke, “I love you too, Myka, I always have,” she whispered. “But I don’t deserve you,” she said moving away from her to sit on the sofa.
Myka looked incredulous. “How can you say that, Helena?” she asked.
“Because I betrayed you!” Helena shouted. “I betrayed you,” she repeated softer, dropping her head in her hands defeated.
Myka’s heart broke at the sight of her. She folded her arms across her chest as if in protection from the conversation that would inevitably follow.
“I always believed in you, Helena,” Myka spoke softly approaching the other woman on the sofa.
Helena looked up then to meet warm green eyes. “I know. Ironically, it was at the moment that you forced the gun in my hands to hold to your head that I realized I was in love with you. How could I ever end the world when you were a part of it?” she shook her head.
Myka smiled softly and slowly sat down beside Helena. “That was the moment I realized I loved you too,” she said slipping her hand into Helena’s.
Helena looked up sharply to read Myka’s features and noticed her blush.
“Well, maybe I fell in love with you before actually. I had such a difficult time trying to decipher if what I felt for you was some sort of hero worship, as you are the great H.G. Wells, or if it was something more.” Myka sighed, determined to speak her heart at last. “I was intrigued by you from the moment we first met and you held Pete at gunpoint,” she smirked.
“So intrigued you decided to return the favor and hold me at gunpoint?” Helena teased lightly.
Myka let out a soft laugh. The earlier heavy mood seemed to be dissipating for which she was grateful. Helena was listening to all she had to say. Myka was determined to make her understand that they did deserve each other and they deserved happiness at last.
“Well, despite his childish antics, Pete is my partner, I had to protect him, at least the best I could. I haven’t always been able to protect my partner, you know,” she spoke sadly thinking of Sam.
“Myka,” Helena spoke gently. “Sam’s death wasn’t your fault, you know that.”
Myka nodded. “I know,” she agreed, “but there will always be that regret of what might have been.” Gently cupping Helena’s face, she continued, “And you have to know that Christina’s death wasn’t your fault either. And though you may have regret for what might have been too, you could no more change the course of events for her than I could for Sam,” Myka spoke softly, tears gathering in her eyes.
Helena nodded silently, trying to desperately to keep her tears in check. “It doesn’t change the fact that I tried to destroy the world though, betraying your trust in the process,” Helena spoke removing Myka’s hands from her face to look away.
Myka held tightly to Helena, not allowing her to leave completely.
“For which I blame myself,” Myka spoke so resolutely it surprised Helena.
“Myka…no…” Helena tried to protest.
“Yes, it was my fault Helena. If I had been a better friend to you, more aware, I would have seen how much you were still hurting from Christina’s death. I should have been there for you, encouraged you to talk about her. Instead I was just so thrilled to actually know the great H.G. Wells, my favorite author. I spoke of trivial things with you instead of really getting to know you and trying to help you through your grief,” Myka spoke her tears falling freely so that she turned to look away.
Helena gently touched Myka’s chin to turn her back to face her. “It wasn’t your fault, Myka. You only ever saw what good there was in me, never my darkness. It was my conversations with you that were truly the light in my life. But I had been consumed in darkness for a century, with Christina’s death in the forefront of my mind. I was so intent on my revenge on the world, I couldn’t see the light for the darkness.
“I made it a point not to acknowledge the goodness that was still left in the world, the goodness in you. It wasn’t until that moment when you forced the gun in my hand to your head that I at last saw the light; I saw you, dearest, Myka,” she spoke reverently. “You were everything I hoped the future to be and I could not destroy you. You were, you are my savior,” she spoke so softly.
“And you are mine,” Myka returned. “Don’t you see that, Helena? You have saved me as much as I have saved you.”
Helena shook here head sadly but Myka gripped her shoulders, not allowing her to turn away or deny the truth. “Yes, Helena, you have redeemed yourself, again and again. You saved Claudia and I at Tamalpais University and Artie in Russia.”
“I had to gain your trust,” Helena protested.
“No,” Myka smiled. “You cared about us, even then, because you’re a good person, Helena. I may not have vibes like Pete, but I always believed in you.”
“You shouldn’t have, Myka, as my actions proved.”
“But you didn’t go through with the plan. We all make mistakes, Helena. I admit the betrayal did hurt me, greatly. Because it was then that I realized what I had been feeling for you was deeper than any friendship, that I loved you. And I was angry and hurt, as much with myself as you. I was so scared to fall in love with you, Helena, scared to love again.”
“I caused you to leave the Warehouse, your happiest place,” Helena spoke sadly.
Myka shook her head. “I ran away. For the first time in my life, I loved someone more than anything else. It was after the events of Egypt that I realized you were my happiest place, Helena, and you were taken from me. It was my…devotion to you that blinded me to everything else. I knew Artie didn’t trust you, and Pete wasn’t exactly enamored either, but I ignored them because you meant more to me, even then. It was the first time I’d ever questioned authority, because I felt I was right about you and Artie was wrong.”
Helena smiled weakly and Myka could see her thoughts that Artie was right after all, but Myka persisted. “And I was right, Helena,” she continued, squeezing her hand. “You didn’t destroy the world.”
“Only because you were there, Myka. Had it been anyone else, I have no doubt we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.”
“Well, as I said earlier, if I had been paying closer attention to you, I should have realized sooner you needed help. As it was, we had our therapy session on the brink of world destruction,” Myka laughed lightly and Helena couldn’t help joining her laughter.
Myka was relieved at the sound of Helena’s laugh and gently reached out to touch Helena, brushing her hair behind her ear. “And it was you alone who convinced me to return to the warehouse. Artie tried, Pete, Claudia, Mrs. Fredric, even Leena, but you, only you were the one who finally helped me realize that despite everything, the warehouse was where I belonged.”
“It was your truth,” Helena spoke softly.
“You are my truth,” Myka replied equally soft. “And you are a noble human being, Helena Wells. You proved that in the forest with the Janus coin.”
“Ah yes, that fateful day,” Helena reminisced.
“If ever I could hate you, it would have been at that moment,” Myka spoke.
Helena gasped surprised. “Myka?”
“I had just finished telling Pete that I refused to destroy you, and then there you were, siding with him that the coin should be destroyed. You were more important to me than the warehouse, Helena. I couldn’t bear the thought of giving you up and then there you were telling me it must be done…my heart broke again, in that forest.”
“Mine did as well, darling. It was the hardest thing I had to do, but I knew it was right, and if it allowed you to live, I was content, more than content, I was happy to sacrifice myself for you and the warehouse. I thought perhaps I could redeem myself, but then, we both know that didn’t happen.”
“But you did, Helena,” Myka spoke adamantly. “I thought my heart was breaking in the forest, but it didn’t compare to knowing that Sykes had reunited your conscious with your body and now had you, for only god only knew what reason. The flight to China was the longest of my life, all I could think of was you and the danger you were facing.”
“And then we met at gunpoint, once again,” Helena frowned. “I felt so powerless when he controlled me with the riding crop. I could have killed you, inadvertently, but by my hand no less,” she spoke rubbing her forehead tiredly.
“But you didn’t,” Myka reminded her, gently caressing her hand.
“I was never more terrified in my life, Myka, than when I had to force you into that chair lock, with your life in my hands.”
“But I believed in you Helena, to save my life.”
“It was your belief that saved you. You forced me to be calm and figure out the solution. Always you have faith in me, even when confronted with imminent death. Why?”
“Because I love you,” Myka spoke without hesitation.
Helena turned away. “I don’t deserve your love, Myka.”
Anger surged within Myka then. “Perhaps it’s I who doesn’t deserve your love,” she said rising from the sofa and crossing her arms across her chest.
Helena looked on perplexed by her actions.
Myka turned to look at Helena. “After all, you’re the great H.G. Wells and I’m only Myka Bering, unworthy of you.”
“Myka, you are the most worthy person I know,” Helena spoke honestly. “I’ve caused you too much pain, caused everyone pain…”
“You saved us, Helena!” Myka interrupted. “You saved the warehouse, the world. Why can’t you understand that?”
“Artie told you…” she spoke quietly.
“Yes,” Myka replied softly.
“I don’t remember,” Helena spoke shaking her head, “but ever since Artie confessed to me what happened, I’ve been having these dreams.”
Myka gasped, knowing innately she and Helena shared the same dream. “More like a nightmare, I’d say,” and Helena looked up sharply to meet her gaze.
“I had to protect you, to save you.”
“And I was forced to watch you die, leaving me once again,” Myka cried softly.
Helena stood from the sofa and moved to embrace Myka, just holding her as Myka clung to her and spoke softly against her ear.
“Helena, that day in the forest when Pete wanted to destroy the Janus coin to save the warehouse…I was so angry with him for even suggesting the idea, even though I understood his reasoning. It made sense, and had it been anyone else, I probably would have agreed with him.
“But for the first time, I found myself going against logic to follow my heart. My only thought was to save you, to keep you safe. And then you were there, agreeing with Pete about destroying the coin…destroying you. I felt my world crumbling beneath my feet, like the world truly was ending, at least for me. Forced to confront your imminent death, I saw a possible future with you flash before my eyes. A future I was being robbed of and wanted so desperately.”
Myka’s words, her confession washed over Helena like rainwater after a long drought and she found herself trembling. “Oh, Myka, I’m so sorry to have caused you such pain,” Helena spoke kissing Myka’s curls, her forehead, her cheeks, until finally her lips met Myka’s in a searing kiss.
Myka responded to Helena’s kiss, wrapping her arms about her waist to pull her closer. She broke away from the kiss briefly to speak, “Don’t ever leave me again.”
“I don’t intend to,” Helena replied just before resuming the kiss.
They stood together for several moments, wrapped up in the taste of each other before Helena noticed Myka was slowly leading them to the bedroom.
Helena pulled away breathless, both of their chests heaving with exertion. “Myka, darling,” she spoke, “you’re still weak,” she tried to protest.
“I haven’t felt this well since you left,” Myka spoke honestly, “and I don’t want to waste anymore time, Helena. Make love with me,” she whispered, “please.”
It was a plea Helena couldn’t refuse, didn’t want to refuse, but she knew Myka was still weak. “I want to, darling, more than anything, but you’re…”
Myka kissed her again, making Helena forget her protest. “Let’s just take it a slow,” Myka replied still breathless. “We have time now…to take our time,” she smiled shyly, a blush rising in her cheeks at the admission.
Helena smiled then, grasping Myka’s hand in hers to brush a kiss lightly along her palm. “We do indeed, darling, and I’ll spend it all loving you.”