The Warehouse was a dangerous place. A very dangerous place, even for the highly trained agents who worked both for and within it. And that wasn’t just because it housed innumerable objects that were imbued with abilities ranging from wish granting to mind control and everything in between, oh no. There were myriad other unseen perils just waiting for an unsuspecting victim on which it could fall and unless you kept your eyes peeled and your wits about you, the ground floor of Warehouse 13 could be transformed from a place of endless wonder into one of eternal torment.
“Artie man, my hands were not meant for this!” Pete whined, throwing his boss a pitifully pleading look over his shoulder. “You see this? This swishing motion?” He swivelled his wrist to send the purple feather duster in his grip sweeping gently over the artifacts that sat on the shelf before him. “My hands weren’t destined for this kind of activity.” Her turned, waggling the end of the duster towards Artie as he spoke. “They aren’t challenged! They need to be challenged. They were put on this earth, this body,” looping his thumb around the long handle of the duster to hold it in place, he pressed his hands against his pectoral muscles to emphasize which body he meant. “For far greater things.” Sighing loudly, Artie lifted a hand to adjust his glasses and glared at Pete from beneath his wiry eyebrows.
“Such as?” He asked, flatly.
“Snagging artifacts!” Pete exclaimed, head falling back to shout the obvious to the rafters. “Tenderly embracing Leena’s cookies and punching out bad guys.” He let it loll forward again, his suddenly fiery gaze meeting the duster as he lifted it so that it lay horizontally and then grasped the handle at both ends. “Choking them out until they tell us where the artifact is.” He gritted his teeth in a grimace of rage and then applied pressure in an apparent show of strength. The smooth wood of the handle began to bend and Artie made a derisive noise at the back of his throat, leaning over and slapping first the top of Pete’s right hand and then the back of his head. “Ow!”
“You break it, you bought it.” He said brusquely, turning away. “And those things aren’t cheap.” He paced a short distance along the length of the aisle, stopping at a terminal and coaxing it to life with a prod of his finger. “Despite what you may feel your hands were put on this earth to do, do not misunderstand me when I say that they will continue their allotted chore or a swift and unusual punishment will be instated.”
“Swift and unusual?” Claudia asked from her seat perched atop a wooden shipping box that sat in the junction between aisles and was emblazoned with the words ‘Warehouse 13’. Her fingers stilled to hover above the keys of the laptop settled against her crossed legs. “Elaboration?” She elongated the word, raising the pitch of her voice in time with her eyebrows. Artie shot her a glance and while he may have been an expertt at hiding his feelings, she was ridiculously skilled when it came to unearthing things. Above government-level encoded files, ‘missing’ UFO reports, even furtively suppressed emotions, and she saw the hint of a smile that tugged at his lips.
“Three words.” He said, turning back to the console so that she could only see his profile. “Martha Stewart’s apron.” Myka’s raucous laughter bubbled up from where she stood, long form leaning against a tall filing cabinet opposite the crate on which Claudia was seated. She fingered the edge of the page she was perusing, the heavy-looking book cradled cautiously in her arms, and raised her eyebrows.
“If you tell me that it turns the wearer into a craft-crazy homemaker, I’m not going to be able to be held accountable for my actions.” She paused, lips curving into a smile as she caught sight of Claudia biting the tip of her thumb and grinning at her over the screen of her laptop. “That may or may not include the hunting down of said artifact and tying it around Pete while he sleeps.”
“I bet he’d make really awesome cookies.” Claudia mused aloud, the image of Pete playing mother hen and fussing about Leena’s in an apron and brandishing a pair of scrap booking scissors and a spatula causing an expression of prospective glee to light her face.
“Sugar cookies.” Myka amended. “With fluffy pink icing.”
“Macho cookies!” Pete grunted around the handle of the duster he’d stuffed between his teeth, leaving his hands free to fist as he flexed his muscles. “ With humongous chocolate chips and big gobs of green icing to make it look like boogers so you,” he dropped the duster back into his hand, waving the curved tip of the handle back and forth between the two giggling women, “won’t touch them.” Myka tilted her head and made a face.
“Pete, I’ve seen you eat a piece of a week-old doughnut that had turned almost translucent after spending the time under your bed. It would take more than green icing to gross me out.” With a wry smile, she turned her attention back to her book. “Not that you’d need to worry about me eating your cookies anyway, what with the sugar and all.”
“You know,” Pete began, eying her across the aisle as he flicked the purple feathers of the duster over what looked a little worryingly like an ancient jockstrap. “I hear Twizzlers are pretty high on the sugar intake scale.” Myka’s head snapped up, curls bouncing with the motion, and she fixed him with a hard though slightly panicked stare.
“Twizzlers don’t count.” And the manner in which it was said would have led any outsider privy to the conversation to believe that it was an opinion she’d had to defend on multiple previous occasions. Green eyes shifting with an agitated quickness, Myka caught the Claudia’s gaze in time to see her eyes widen and the smile wipe itself from her face. Her head dropped and her fingers resumed their tapping.
“Darling....” An accented voice spoke, the term of endearment tumbling carelessly from the owner’s lips with a chuckle. Myka, instantly chastised by the gently warning tone, glanced to the side to find amusement dancing about H.G.’s face. “One day you shall have to relent and admit the fact that, nutritionally speaking, you aren’t quite the most perfectly flawless example to ever walk this planet.” Annoyed by the truth of the statement, Myka bristled. The harsh slap of the book she held being suddenly snapped closed made all but the two women jump.
“Oh I’m not, huh?” She asked, her focus on the Englishwoman intent and a little scathing. H.G. pursed her lips and then, when she could no longer contain it, cracked a smile.
“No. You’re not.” The inventor shifted then, moving from her place with her back pressed against the metal and rolling to rest her shoulder against the surface of the cabinet, bringing their faces closer together. A dark, shapely eyebrow rose archly. “Though again, that is only in terms of nutritional intake. In regards to other areas....” The sentence trailed away to nothing, hanging suspended by the thick, heady fog of seduction and desire that had poured from H.G.’s mouth with the words. Myka found herself entirely unable to shift her gaze from the glimmering brown eyes before her and her lips parted to allow a quiet exhalation of air slip out as they began to curve upwards. Across from them, Claudia curled her hand into a fist, pressing it to her mouth and clearing her throat.
“Just out of curiosity, and trust me when I say that this is not a not-so-subtle request for you to stop,” she began, fingers flourishing outward before curling back and drawing the attention of Helena, and then finally Myka too. “Is there any way for you two to converse without the innuendo, or is that something you’re both actually physically incapable of accomplishing?” Myka flushed slightly, eyes dropping to the cover of the book she was holding, but H.G. remained very regally nonplussed.
“Quite pleasantly incapable, I assure you.” And her smirk was smug and pleased. Claudia laughed, shaking her head as she dropped her hand and recommenced typing.
“I’m sorry,” Artie interrupted, voice holding its omnipresent tinge of annoyance slightly higher than usual as he spun to face them. “It would seem as though you’re all under the misapprehension that we’re here to verbally banter our way through the day.”
“Is that an option?” Pete asked, eyebrows raised in excitement. “Because-”
“No! It is most definitely not an option!” He snapped, running a hand over his curls in annoyance. “I feel like a kindergarten teacher with you people.” Offended, Myka stuck her head out, glancing around H.G. to glare at Artie.
“Uh, excuse me but some of us have been busy pouring over seriously heavy texts all morning.” She huffed, awkwardly waving the thick volume she held as evidence. “And I have the paper cuts to prove it.” Beside her, Helena crooned her concern.
“Poor dear.” Myka jutted her lower lip forward, pouting at the other woman, and from atop her crate Claudia actually watched the world fall away around them.
“Why do we all have to be here anyway?” Pete whined, squatting to reach the lowest shelf and sweeping the duster over the artifacts situated on it. He pause mid-motion, screwing up his face in the confusion of a sudden thought and then swivelled his head around to stare up at Artie. “And why am I dusting? We’re in a gigantic freaking warehouse, these things are going to be covered in dust again in five minutes!” Letting loose a sigh, Artie hung his head and pinched the bridge of his nose, praying for patience.
“You’ll notice that the duster you’re using is of the bright purple verity.” At that, Pete brightened, giving the object he held a shake so that the feathers did a pretty passable wave for him.
“Same colour as my underwear.” Pointedly ignoring the comment, Artie continued.
“That is because it was designed especially for the upkeep of the Warehouse. Like the static bags render an artifact inoperative, the duster reasserts an artifact’s inactive state.” His words came quick and clipped. “And we are all here because it has been brought to my attention that inventory duties seem to have been falling by the wayside as of late-”
“We have had a rad spike in the number of pings compared to what we usually get.” Claudia pointed out, but Artie lifted a hand, waving it dismissively towards her.
“Yes, well, whatever the reason, we’re all here now so that we can accomplish things together and so I can keep my eyes on you. Ensure that there’s no slacking off.” Myka briefly became a blur of flustered agitation, seeming genuinely offended by the implication.
“Artie, I don’t slack! I’m like the least slacky person ever.” He ducked his head, staring at her over the rim of his glasses.
“No, but you are far too easily distracted by certain foreign imports.” He intoned, dryly, and the brunette’s mouth snapped shut with an audible clicking of her teeth. Beside her, Helena chuckled quietly. “So it is my sincere hope that with my constant and unyielding supervision, something might actually get done around here today. Starting with this aisle.” Grumbling, Pete stood up again, a fake smile stretching across his face and showing every one of his teeth.
“Yay.” He said, joylessly. “Team building.”
They went to work after that, each focusing on their own specified job. Pete was the maid, Claudia was busy keystroking her way through the Warehouse’s database on her laptop, tweaking certain elements of the program she’d designed and occasionally cross referencing artifact information when Artie prompted her, and he was in charge of making sure the artifacts had indeed been shelved correctly and nothing seemed amiss within their logs. No unexplained activation, none declaring that they were absent when they were clearly sitting on the shelf, or worse; proclaiming that they were present when they were missing. Luckily, that hadn’t happened yet. Myka’s job was to reorganise the files for the aisle; stacks and stacks of manila folders and thick volumes of text from before computers had been used to chronicle each artifact as it came into the Warehouse, and she’d become increasingly convinced that people had misfiled stuff on purpose.
“No, but really,” she’d asked from her place sprawled at the foot of the filing cabinet, folders in piles around her, “how do you have ‘Charlie Chaplin’s cane’ stored with ‘William Tell’s crossbow’? How?” She’d sounded close to enraged and, knowing the question was rhetorical, no one had bothered to answer..
As for H.G., Artie had sent her to work on the shelves opposite him and she was dutifully going over artifact logs in between sneaking glances at Myka; glances that the other woman was trying very hard to ignore and failing spectacularly. H.G. could tell by the way the taller agent’s lips would twitch upwards, even though her attention appeared to be solely focused on the papers resting against her legs.
For a while, the time slipped by in relative silence. Artie and Claudia occasionally going over information while Pete whistled a medley of classic hair band tunes, sporadically pounding out an air drum solo with the aid of the duster he’d been placed in charge of. That he’d gone quiet really should have drawn everyone’s immediate attention.
“Uh, guys.” He said tentatively, a sliver of unease sliding in to warble his voice. They all looked up in unison, identical blank expressions crossing their faces at the same instant, milliseconds before both Claudia and Myka lost their sanity, albeit briefly, to a fit of giggles and Artie tried not to literally expel boiling hot steam from his ears. H.G. remained her usual collected self, her inner amusement betrayed only by the elegant arching of a slender eyebrow as she gazed at Pete. “I think it’s stuck.” He stood before them, looking not unlike a child that had just been caught playing with matches or something equally dangerous that he’d been expressly, and repeatedly, told to leave alone. He had one gloved hand threaded in the thick red locks of the wig he now wore and was tugging at it with an erratic persistence. It wouldn’t budge. It was as if someone had come along and dumped Harry Coover’s initial batch of superglue all over the wig’s interior.
“Oh, Pete.” Myka said around intermittent giggles, carefully gathering the papers splayed across her legs and placing them on the floor beside her before slipping her hand into H.G.’s proffered one and allowing the other woman to help her stand. “You look stunning.”
“Yeah,” Claudia chimed in, clucking her tongue against the inside of her cheek and positively beaming over the edge of her laptop screen. “Red is so totally your colour.” Despite the fact that he had what was very probably an artifact fixed to his head, Pete struck a pose; dropping his weight onto one foot and cocking a hip, reaching up to pull the longer, ponytail-like part of the wig around his neck and playing with the ends in what they assumed was intended to be a coy fashion.
“You gals sure know how to make a lady feel special.” He batted his eyelashes, once more lifting laughs from the two women, but then he caught Artie’s murderous gaze and dropped them back to his sides. “So, uh…” he threw up a cautious smile, lifting his hands palm up beside him in a gesture that conveyed his utter lack of ideas in terms of what he should do next. “Help?”
“How many times do I have to tell you people?” Artie barked, marching toward Pete like a rampaging bull. “We don’t speak Latin in front of the books,” he shot a pointed glare in the direction of the two women now standing close together in front of the shelves on the opposite side of the aisle, “and we do not play with the artifacts!” That was addressed to Pete, with a side note to Claudia who threw her hands up in a proclamation of her innocence.
“I wasn’t playing!” She threw an arm out, pointing an accusing finger in Pete’s direction. “He’s Mr Grabby-hands, bark at him.” Lifting her computer to slide off the crate, she placed it back down on the wooden surface and turned back to watch as Artie barrelled around to stand behind the wig-wearing agent.
“I can’t take my eyes off any of you for two seconds.” He grumbled to himself, bending to peer at the electronic tag for the artifact in question. “Gaia’s wig...” He murmured, fingers bouncing against his lips as he tapped them thoughtfully against his mouth and then shook his head in distracted annoyance before snapping, “You’re like children in a toy store!”
“He’s a rather curmudgeonly old sod, isn’t he?” H.G. mused aloud, glancing sidelong at Myka who had to bring a hand up to cover her grin. Artie’s eyebrows jerked down into a frown, giving the impression of caterpillars hopping in place as if startled. Myka wrestled her grin into submission and swept her fingers from her mouth in flourishing wave that he didn’t buy for one second.
“It’s starting to feel tingly.” Pete said suddenly, his eyes darting between the agents in front of him and then back toward Artie now standing beside him. “Is it supposed to feel tingly?” An edge of panic slithered hastily into his voice and Artie rolled his eyes before reaching up to grab at the wig. His fingers probed at Pete’s now bright red hairline, searching for the edge of the wig but quickly found his hunting to be in vein. With an annoyed sigh, he sank his fingers into the wavy tresses and pulled as hard as he could. Pete stumbled forward, neck bending at an awkward angel as the force of the pull had him following in its trajectory. “Ow!” He said in a high-pitched whine, his own expression slipping to reveal one of annoyance. “You think you could give a guy some warning before you go yanking at his wig?”
“Well that depends.” Artie grunted, giving it another tug and not bothering to keep his tone anywhere close to civil. “Do you think you could keep your hands to yourself for,” another tug, “longer than,” and another, “five minutes?” Essentially, Pete was now being pulled around the aisle by his hair, his upper body bent at the hips and his head angled towards Artie’s sternum.
“I have a curious nature!” Pete protested, reaching up to grip Artie’s wrists as the older man almost yanked him right to the floor. “Artie man, you’re going to rip my head off!”
“At least then the artifact will be off you!” His fuming was cut short by Claudia appearing beside them, hands forming the universal symbol for ‘time out’ and brandishing a placating smile.
“Gentlemen,” she crooned softly, batting Artie’s hands away. “I think what this needs is a woman’s touch.” Pressing a hand to Pete’s shoulder, she shoved the man back against the shelves and then tugged his head down. She lifted a leg and, propping a heavy boot against one of the metal supports, said, “Hold on, Pete-y boy.” Pete’s eyes widened, but he gripped the edge of the shelf and then screwed them shut when he felt Claudia take hold of the wig. Levering herself against the shelf, she pulled with enough force to bow his body outward, but Pete held fast, gritting his teeth and groaning with the strain when the wig still didn’t shift. After a few moments of relentless jerking that gave him a significant crick in his neck, Claudia let go and stared at him perplexedly with her hands on her hips. “Well, on the bright side I think you’d do okay if you changed your name to ‘Peeta’ and headed for Vegas to front your very own one-man drag show.” Her enthusiasm did nothing to ease the knot of worry that was beginning to form in his stomach.
“Maybe if we all grab hold and pull at the same time?” Myka offered, strolling forward to stand alongside Claudia as H.G. followed in her wake. Pete shook his head petulantly.
“I like my neck the way it is; completely unlike a discarded Stretch Armstrong toy. It’s my third favourite part of my body!” No one prompted him because they all knew better, but that didn’t dispel the fact that he wanted them to. “Just in case anyone’s wondering, the first two are-”
“Your nipples.” Claudia and Myka spoke as one, matching looks of disgust twisting their features. “We know.” H.G. pursed her lips but said nothing, her attention caught by Artie who still looked as though his lid was going to blow at any second.
“Perhaps we should give thought to Myka’s suggestion?” She glanced toward the women beside her while rolling up the sleeves of her shirt. “Strength in numbers and all that.” They each conveyed a silent agreement and converged on Pete as one.
“If you guys hear any kind of popping or ripping sound, can you make sure it isn’t my spine coming loose? That’d be great.”
Fingers slipped into the red locks of the wig, seeking purchase and gripping tightly once they found it, and Pete closed his eyes again, curling his hands around the shelf behind him for support.
“Everybody got a good grip?” Artie asked, eyes sweeping over the three women and waiting for them to nod. “Okay then, on the count of three.” Pete took a breath as they all adjusted their stances, preparing to pull as hard as they could. “One, two-” There came an eardrum-popping sound of misplaced air and then all five of them blinked out of existence.
“-three....” Artie petered off, and none of them made any show of strength. Some distant cousin of pins and needles swept over them, prickling their skin in the sudden heat of the room. A room that was most definitely a ‘room’ and not the aisle of the Warehouse in which they’d stood only seconds before. They were facing a wide opening in a wall that looked out onto the darkness of night and the utter strangeness of the situation seemed to turn them all momentarily deaf. But when the moans filtered in, everyone snatched their hands back from the wig as if it had burnt them and spun in the direction of the noise, allowing Pete to stand.
“Oh god, my back is killing…” The rest of his sentence died a silent death as he straightened to his full height and felt his eyes almost bulge out of his head at the scene unfolding before them.
The room they were in looked as if it had been decorated to be the boudoir in some kind of period piece set in ancient Greece, or maybe Rome. Definitely not Univille, South Dakota. Drapes hung around the room, though they gave so little in the way of privacy that it was evident that their purpose was simply to please the eye. And then there was the bed; piled with cushions and silken blankets and occupied by three very, very naked bodies.
“Boobies!” Pete gasped under his breath, eyes shifting to their corners to try and deduce whether everyone else was seeing the same thing he was. Nobody else moved for a minute, captivated by the sight before them, though whether it was in horror or something else no one ever said. The apparently oblivious occupants of the room were a man and two women, the raven-haired shorter of the two stood with her back to them while the Amazonian became the centrepiece of their ménage-a-trois as the battered-looking man came up behind her. The women kissed as the man took handfuls of flesh in his palms and sought pleasure touching every inch of the bodies before them. Quiet gasps and deep moans filled the air as they moved as one towards the bed. The man lay down on his back, staring up at the women still locked in their intimate embrace, his eyes following their hands as they traversed the planes of the other’s body with an undeniable familiarity. In a moment of petty jealousy, he reached up to pull the taller woman to him and she fell upon his body with a kind of careless passion. He groaned as their lips met, but his eyes remained on the woman still standing. She gazed down at them, skin burning with desire, and then moved to the foot of the bed. Sliding onto all fours, she climbed the length of it and made to kneel beside them, tossing her inky black hair over a shoulder to press hot, open-mouthed kisses to the flesh of the other woman.
A decidedly different kind of gasp filled the air as the face of the wanton woman finally came into view and the noise seemed to jar everyone into action. Artie all but lunged for Claudia, his hand clapping over her eyes as though the events unfolding before them would melt them inside their sockets. H.G. wore an expression that seemed caught somewhere between surprise, confusion and intrigue, while Myka – after her gasp of startled outrage had been swallowed by the moans that were now increasing in volume – finally found the strength to tear her gaze away from the people in front of them and stared at the inventor. Her now deep green eyes held a mixture of bewilderment and betrayal that H.G. couldn’t possibly even begin to work out what to do with, and so she heaved a quiet sigh of relief when Claudia spoke and broke the tension.
“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” The tech-wiz said, gripping the fingers of Artie’s hand and levering it down so she could peak over the top of it. There was definitely thrust-age happening now and set let her attention stray towards the very nude and strikingly familiar form of the dark-haired female who continued lavishing attention upon the woman now straddling the hips of the man on his back. It was like a super sensual train wreck and she couldn’t look away.
“What the hell happened?” Pete finally blurted. “Where are we? Who are…” he paused, sliding an arm between Myka and Claudia and waving his hand towards the threesome. “They? And why is there a naked H.G.-”
“Allow me to be perfectly clear.” H.G.’s crisply accented tone sliced through Pete’s words, silencing him with a deadly efficiency. “That is most definitely not me.” Pete’s hand flailed again, eyes wide and fixed on the scene unfolding before them.
“But she looks exactly like-” H.G. snapped her head to face him, expression not quite hard but close and cool.
“Then we must deduce that she is some form of doppelganger, because I am murderously firm in the knowledge that whoever she is, I am not.” An incredibly loud, lascivious and entirely indecent moan filled the silence that followed the sentence, causing Claudia to blush several shades darker than her hair despite her rapt attention and Myka to grit her teeth.
“She sure sounds like you.” Was muttered under her breath darkly and very quietly, but it was heard by those in her immediate vicinity and Claudia glanced askance at Myka, forcing her lips together when she saw H.G. tilt her head to stare incredulously at the obviously agitated woman. Her lips worked in silence for a moment, until the air rushed from her lungs in an exasperated sigh.
“You can’t be serious.” But Myka was practically vibrating with the rage she was still trying to keep a lid on. Claudia knew what jealousy looked like and her fellow agent was pretty much oozing it.
“I hate to break up this little lovers’ quarrel,” Artie intoned dryly, finally giving up and letting his hand drop from in front of Claudia’s eyes. “But I think the key to escaping this…” he let the sentence go when his brain failed to provide him with an adequate word, “is getting that wig off Pete’s head. So if we could all try to focus on removing it-”
“Hey!” Pete hollered, pulling everyone’s attention toward him. Well, everyone but the occupants of the bed who were providing a backing track to the conversation that consisted mainly of grunts and breathy moans of pleasure. He shook the wig in his hand, peering at it as though it had just asked him a question. “It just came right off.”
And for the second time that day, the Warehouse team blinked out of existence.
They materialized once more inside the walls of the Warehouse, the comfortingly recognizable artifact-adorned shelves a welcoming sight, and heaved a collective sigh of relief.
“What the hell was that?” Pete, still wide-eyed from what they’d all witnessed, held the wig out feebly, relieved when Artie snatched it from him and stalked around him to the shelf. He deposited the hairpiece back onto the expressionless wooden effigy of a human head and, violently adjusting his glasses, prodded the log with a finger.
“Gaia’s wig.” He read aloud, this time scrolling to the description. “Belonged to Gaia of Capua and now holds the ability to transport the wearer, and anyone in direct contact with them, into one of her memories. Due to her penchant for keeping company with a number of people at once, the artifact becomes activated when multiple persons, come into contact with the one wearing it.” Claudia, one arm wrapped around her midsection to prop up the elbow of the other, tapped her fingers thoughtfully against her cheek. Fingers that were not encased in purple gloves. A fact she decided not to bring up right at that moment.
“Okay, well that explains how we got to where we got but...” she risked a glance in H.G.’s direction and found her rolling her eyes after her repeated attempts to garner Myka’s attention remained fruitless. “What about the super naked H.G. look-a-like?” Artie flushed at the still very vivid memory and sputtered for a few seconds as he sent his gaze to the floor, prompting Claudia to wonder if the scarlet was ever going to wash out of his face. The question proved to be some kind of breaking point for Myka however, and she gave a curt shake of her head before striding down the aisle away from them.
“I’m taking my lunch break!” She called over her shoulder, not bothering to look back. H.G. and Claudia exhaled heavily.
“One must assume,” the inventor began, finally saving Artie from having to flounder for an explanation, a weary kind of annoyance tainting her voice. “That the woman we saw is either some distant relation of mine or simply a doppelganger. It is said that each person has one, somewhere in the world. Perhaps that is also true when regarding different periods in time.” Running her fingers through her hair, she offered them a weak smile. “Now, if you’re all suitably satisfied with my answer,” she inclined her head in the direction that Myka had just gone, “I fear I have a rouge agent in need of chasing down.” Artie, still beet red, grumbled and waved a hand dismissively at her. They watched her go, pace quick as she followed the path Myka had taken. Pursing her lips, Claudia swivelled to stare at Pete.
“If they break up because you couldn’t keep your meaty hands to yourself,” she leaned forward, jabbing him hard in the chest and scowling up at him threateningly when he winced. “I will personally go after Martha Stewart’s apron and superglue it to your chest while you sleep.” She stalked away, leaving him to pout and rub at the spot where she’d poked him with a hurt look on his face.
“My hands aren’t meaty.” He protested quietly, holding them out and turning them over a few times to inspect them. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Artie shook his head.
“I would like one day where things go smoothly. Just one.” He let his head drop back so he could stare up at the roof of the Warehouse that loomed above them, praying to any unseen Regent-type deities that might hear his plea and grant him mercy. “Is that too much to ask?”
H.G. had been forced to break into a light jog in order to catch up with the other woman, who refused to break stride even when her name was called. Repeatedly and with mildly increasing vehemence. Falling into step beside Myka, H.G. glanced askance at her and then, suppressing a knowing smirk, let a sigh escape.
“Darling, do you not think that you’re perhaps overreacting just a little?” The proffered bait was snatched without a second’s hesitation and Myka spun to face her so quickly that H.G. momentarily worried she might fall victim to an overly exuberant pull of gravity.
“Overreacting?” She snapped, unruly curls bouncing with the velocity of her turn. Her eyes flared as they made contact with the calm brown orbs before her and Myka threw an arm out, pointing back in the direction she’d recently fled. “Helena, you were naked-” The inventor held up a finger and hiked her eyebrows.
“I thought we’d established that whomever that delightfully alluring woman may have been, she was most definitely not me.” She ran her fingers through her jet black hair, shaking her head with a kind of distant disillusionment. “Really, Myka, I never suspected you to be the jealous type.” Myka bristled, folding her arms tight across her chest and jutting her head out, glaring at the woman standing before her.
“I’m not jealous.” She insisted snippily, though with a forced air of nonchalance about the words. H.G.’s lips curved into a knowing smirk.
“Oh, are you not?” Crossing her arms to mirror Myka’s stance, the inventor pursed her lips in thought for a moment. “So it’s merely the fact that our workmates have seen someone who bears a passing resemblance to me nude that has elicited such a passionate reaction from you?” The way in which the question was voiced had Myka’s anger dissipating rather rapidly, being quickly replaced with a sense of chagrin that she stubbornly tried to stave off; but that H.G. could see in the way she set her shoulders.
“She bore more than a passing resemblance to you, Helena.” Myka grumbled, the hint of a pout now ghosting about her lips. “But when you put it so bluntly it makes me sound stupid.” At that, H.G. chuckled and cracked a smile.
“Now we both know that you aren’t stupid. A little dramatic at times, perhaps….” She let the rest of the sentence fall away, smile widening when Myka rolled her eyes, and H.G. reached out to hook a finger through a belt loop of the taller woman’s pants. With what H.G. suspected to be feigned reluctance, Myka gave in to the insistent tugging and ambled forward.
“Okay, now I feel like an idiot.” She confessed, suddenly looking embarrassed as she dropped her forehead to rest against H.G.’s. “I just-” pausing, Myka sucked her lower lip between her teeth and worried it gently. “I was shocked.” She said slowly, averting her gaze. “To see you- I mean, not-you,” she amended, “like that.” Green eyes flickered upward to catch fathomless brown and Myka pulled back a little, licking her lips. “You know-”
“Nude?” H.G. interrupted and ever so lightly, Myka flushed.
“Well, I was going to say naked, but nude works too.” With a wry smile pulling at her lips, H.G. snaked her arms around Myka’s neck and sent the fingers of one hand dancing across the fine hairs at the base of it. Supressing a shudder and the abrupt and overwhelming urge to close her eyes, Myka went on. “And we haven’t even seen each other...” The inventor quirked an eyebrow archly.
“Nude.” She supplied once more, her playful tone finally wrestling a smile from Myka, who nodded her affirmation.
“Right, and I think some kind of emotional volcano went off when suddenly there not-you was bearing all for everyone to see.” Her shoulders lifted in a sheepish half-shrug. “Add that to the incredibly disconcerting visual of you having a threesome whilst standing right next to me and I guess you get a recipe for ‘outrageous girlfriend overreaction’ cookies.” H.G. chuckled, slipping her fingers into Myka’s curls and feeling the other woman finally let loose a shiver.
“I must admit that while I do find their taste to be a tad bitter,” the teasing timbre of her voice had Myka ducking her head again, shy with the humiliation she felt over her actions. “There is something rather charming about the name, as is there in the actions of the woman who gave it to them, and I feel the need to reassure her that while the woman in that dreamscape may have appeared very similar to myself, I can say with some certainty that many of those similarities ended at her neck.” And tightening her arm around Myka, H.G. leaned in to breathe the next words against the lips of the taller agent. “Evidence of which I would be more than happy to emphasize once I’ve been suitably disrobed.” Unexpectedly gripped by the hands of desire, Myka gasped for the air that had somehow turned elusive on her and groaned when H.G. caught her in a chaste kiss filled with promise. Reopening eyes she hadn’t been conscious of closing, she found a brown-eyed gaze studying her with a restrained intensity. “I wonder…” H.G. purred, her breath ghosting across Myka’s parted lips. “If you’d be willing to aid me?”
And ‘yes’ had never before seemed such an inadequate answer.
Artie’s inventory did not get done that day, but Claudia did manage to weasel out a nice crisp ten dollar bill from The Bank of Pete.