The weather in the politest of terms was absolutely dreadful. There was enough wind, rain, and fog to leave a person chilled to the bone wandering aimlessly in search of a source of light, in search of the slightest clue as to which direction lead home.
Helen bows her head against another burst of wind and turns from the sight before her: wind tossed waves, wooden planks lost in the fog. This was the Eastern seaboard in one of it’s legendary early spring storms. If she hadn’t before, Helen thought she much preferred English weather now.
She was supposed to be meeting a contact, a portly old man, nervous and fidgety. He had information for her on the abnormal she was tracking. Every passing minute was one she couldn’t waste. Casting her lamp about, Helen was dismayed to find the light scarcely hit the ground beside her feet before disappearing into the wall of gloom. It was early evening but the dock around her showed no sign of that. Usually bustling with activity at this time of day, now it was silent. There wasn’t a single human soul in sight.
For a moment she freezes, trying to make out the footfalls she had thought she’d heard pass by her. Seconds tick past and she dismisses it as her imagination, wishful thinking. On a night like tonight she would give practically anything to be curled in her rooms with a steaming cup of tea and the latest news from London.
A moment later, she casts about in the dark yet again, considering leaving when she finds herself suddenly sprawled on the ground.
The voice is distinctly female, familiar. Helen rights her lamp and gasps. “Helena?”
“Miss Magnus.” The woman before her smirks and offers a hand to pull Helen to her feet. Dressed in men’s clothing the other woman is hardly recognizable.
“What are you doing here?”
“I could ask the same of you.”
“I’m much too old to fall for that now.”
“I had to try.” H. G. smiles coyly before continuing. “I’m meeting an informant, running a bit late as it were thanks to this weather.”
“He wouldn’t happen to be a stocky old man who owns the bookstore just past the corner of LaFayette and Main?”
“Why do you ask?”
Helen fishes a watch from the pocket of her skirt. “He stood me up almost an hour ago.”
“And you’re still waiting around. You always were hopeless.”
“He’s in possession of some vital information.”
“Let’s go see about finding him than shall we?”
“I’m going with or without you so you might as well come along, keep me entertained.”
Helen hardly thought it fair, but the other woman wasn’t wrong in her thinking. Standing on the dock would do little good if the old man had yet to leave his shop. “Hurry up then, I’m near frozen stiff.”
The shop’s empty when they arrive, dark except for the lamp outside the entrance. The door, however, is unlocked and Helena slips inside before Helen can protest. Following her in Helen’s surprised by the relief she feels getting out of the elements. They hardly had a right to be where they were and yet- the familiar thrill that often set in when Helena appeared settled in her stomach. The younger woman wasn’t exactly known to be a good influence.
“Where’s your lamp?”
Helen pulls the requested object from the shelter of her coat and a portion of the room is cast in a thin glow. Helena takes it from her grasp and sets about turning on several lighting fixtures, the light disconcertingly bright after the time they had spent out in the squall. The shop alight, Helena returns to Helen’s side. “You could help me look.”
“If he comes back and-“
Helena’s laugh cuts her off. “For all the snooping, lying and cheating you’ve done, you’re still so noble. He’s left for the night, gone home to his wife and a nice warm dinner. He won’t be back, not in this weather. I doubt you can even see the shop from the street it’s so dark out there. We won’t be bothered.”
Helen leans over and slips the lock shut on the door. “Alright, but if this goes wrong I had nothing to do with any of it.”
“Of course not, you’re much to pretty to have anything to do with the likes of me.”
Helen frowns in disagreement but is saved from responding when Helena disappears around a shelf of books.
“I assume we’re both looking for the same thing.”
“Tracking an abnormal? Helen dear you know you’re after my artifact again.”
An honest mistake, Helen thinks frowning, one she would never live down. “He’s a thief and a pickpocket.” Helen sighs, filling in the blanks before Helena got bored and turned to teasing her. “He’s current employed smuggling antiques. I assume that’s what you’re after.”
“You know where to find them.”
Helen hears the other woman pause in her rustling and she moves toward the back of the shop to see what she had found.
“No.” Helen admits leaning over the document H.G. was studying. The location of the warehouse was the last piece in the puzzle. She had reason to believe the book seller fenced whatever works the smuggling ring acquired. He was the key to unraveling this.
“Mentions of a Robert, here,” Helena runs her finger down a neat rows of records, “here and here. I say we’ve found what we’re looking for.”
“Address?” Helen mutters to herself, hand joining Helena’s on the page as she skims through the pertinent entries.
“Warehouse district. Nothing more.”
“There’s no use in this weather-“
“Go dry off and find yourself some supper. I’ll meet you in the morning.”
“Helena.” She protests, weight shifting to lean against the other woman as she reaches for a scrap of paper along the back of the desk.
“It’s a time sensitive matter.”
“I’m sure the warehouse would-“
Helen pulls back as Helena turns to face her. “This isn’t official business.”
The quiet confession leaves Helen’s brow furrowed. She found it difficult to believe Helena would’ve come all this way for unofficial business. The risk it posed to her job-
“I’m here on another case; I dealt with it last week. I’ve been stalling but I’m running thin on excuses.”
Helen opens her mouth to speak and shuts it as the usually composed woman seems to crumble. “My Christina,” is all she says before Helen’s gathered her in her arms.
It takes only a second before they’re kissing: tender, gentle. Helen’s sure neither of them know who started it, not that it mattered much. Borne from sorrow or not, this was the best of reaquaintings.
“She’s gone, Helen.” H.G. whispers, shadowed face blotting out the light that had danced along Helen’s neck.
“So sorry,” Helen mutters back, capturing Helena’s lips in a kiss that turns unexpectantly frantic. She backs them both up, shoving papers and books from a nearby work table, all awareness of their location banished from her mind. Helena needed her. This was the singular thing Helen understood: grief, pain, recklessness.
She nibbles at an earlobe, sucks, nips at Helena’s pulse point. Her fingers dance among the button’s of Helena’s vest, her shirt, her trousers.
Bare skin. Helen smiles at the sight. It’s been longer than she cared to admit. Helena’s warm skin under her gentle touch, lavishing careful attention, she had been so caught up in her work she hadn’t noticed how much she had missed this.
She doesn’t stop until Helena’s lost to everything but the sensations she draws forth. She works patiently and then dropping to her knees, bringing Helena to orgasm, deft and swift, fingers and tongue.
Helena cries as Helen holds her. Helen’s hand brushing through dark locks until the tears cease, the sound of their breathing blotted out by the storm outside.
They part soon after that. The next morning Helena never shows. Once again, Helen’s left standing on the dock alone, praying. It’ll be a hundred years before they meet again. A younger woman, Myka, calling to tell her there would be a visitor waiting for her in the hotel lobby at half past six. That night Helen would weep for her own daughter.