There was one rule for a continuing life at the Warehouse: don't touch. Artie's gruff tones barked it at them at them at least once a week - and, to be fair, it was usually deserved. Pete's interminable fidgets and childlike curiosity meant that there was very little he DIDN'T try to touch, warning or not. Claudia was always trying to improve, enhance or recreate whatever technological wonder they had uncovered this week. And Helena, well, the artificer in her just wanted to pull everything open and wonder at its insides. The only one who truly respected the 'don't touch' rule was Myka.
Which was why it was such a shock to find her in her current predicament. Later she would say that it was all Pete's fault, but since this was her usual claim for incidents of an annoying nature, no one truly gave it much heed.
As with most things within the warehouse walls, everything had started out innocently enough. Artie had gathered them around the breakfast table, issuing out assignments (for Pete, Helena, and Myka) and chores (for Claudia) in his brusque tone. It always reminded Myka of mornings with her father, the table between them littered with a defensive barrier of plates and books as he drilled her about her homework or chores. Unlike her father, however, Artie's harshness masked a twinkle of the eye, a smile hiding just around the corner that he allowed Myka, and sometimes only Myka, to see. They did not always see eye to eye, did not always agree on a wide range of issues, but Artie and Myka understood each other, and she took comfort in these morning meetings, knowing that despite his unwillingness to discuss it, Artie had taken great care in laying their days out before them.
Pete was halfway through cramming the fifth croissant into his mouth, crumbs coating his sweater as he tried, yet again, to beat his record, when Artie's arm swooped out to smack the back of Pete's head with the case folder. Claudia, who had been surreptitiously filming Pete's attempt on her phone, bounced slightly as she shoved the phone back into her pocket. Artie continued with his instructions, the move not having slowed him in the slightest.
"...can never be too careful, and Mrs. Fredericks and I agree that it would be better to have agents on the ground should something come up. The exhibit will be featuring some newly uncovered artifacts, which has us a little concerned. And besides, I think we all know that anything Egyptian warrants some watching."
"Yead," Pete said around his mouthful of pastry. "Ti uffally comes to gif uc ip te bunt."
All eyes swivelled to seek out Myka's translation, which she gave with the smallest of sighs - they had all worked with Pete for years now, surely they should be able to translate him. "It usually comes to bite us in the butt."
Artie gave a nod. "He's not wrong. Okay. Your flight leaves in three hours, all the information you need is right here, pack light."
They rose from the table, sparing a brief glance for poor Claudia, who was now left alone with Artie and his list of chores. Granted, the 'chores' she was assigned were usually more interesting than anything Myka remembers from her youth, but Artie had a dark streak and he usually included at least one task that would leave Claudia in tears of frustration. But there wasn't time to come to the girls rescue, and Helena had already slipped her arm into hers, guiding her up the stairs behind Pete to pack.
Myka stifled a groan as her chair jolted forward for the third time in as many minutes. Helena reached for her hand, giving it a soothing pat as she did so. She knew how much Myka hated to fly – not out of fear but out of frustration at their suspended state. That and her talent at always landing a seat in front of a child. Myka had glanced at the passenger behind her and had thought she was in for an easier trip than usual. Apparently she was mistaken.
Helena pushed her own tea across to Myka’s table and smiled when her companion picked it up and blew on it without a thought. Helena had been delighted to learn that Myka, despite her professional exterior while at work, was in fact remarkably familiar with those she felt truly comfortable with. The fraternal punches that existed between she and Pete translated nicely into large encompassing hugs for Claudia and the passing laying of hands for Leena.
As for Helena, Myka had become increasingly tactile as their relationship had progressed. She was quick to reach for Helena’s hand, or rest a palm on shoulder or hip. Sitting together in the B&B usually resulted in heads on shoulders or legs thrown into laps (accompanied, usually, by a fair degree of good natured ribbing from the others). After a century of physical and mental isolation, Myka’s snuggliness had thrown her at first, but now it was a balm in ways Helena couldn’t have anticipated. Likewise she had learnt that small touches like these, while not ‘on the clock’, did wonders for Myka’s well being, and Helena enjoyed having a positive effect for a change.
At the feel of Helena’s hand on hers Myka felt herself relax, moving slightly in her seat so that her arm aligned and merged with Helena’s own, elbows knocking together gently. Tilting her head, Myka leant in to whisper quietly to Helena, only to once more be violently catapulted forward. Helena’s eyes widened when Myka failed to completely hide her growl. That was a noise to be explored later.
Turning to face the ‘child’ in the seat behind her, Myka was met with a face full of Pete and his cheesy grin. “Knock it off, Pete!”
Pete’s grin grew even wider as he good-naturedly elbowed the young boy in the seat next to him with a, “Told you that would get’er!”
Myka sighed and rubbed her brow. It was always a gamble placing Pete behind them whenever they got split up, but the chance for a few quiet hours with Helena was always worth the chance – at least until he started kicking.
Sensing that he had probably pushed Myka far enough for one flight, he held out his share of the paperwork, slipping it between the gap in the two chairs. “I’m done, and I’m sure you two – XeroxHead and BrainTrust – are done with yours, swap?”
Helena smirked at Pete’s antics as she exchanged the folders. She had considered ‘Wells and Bering’ (or ‘Bering and Wells’ if Myka truly insisted) to have a certain degree of timeless charm, but Pete had declared it unimaginative and had been substituting his own monikers ever since. With the new notes in hand, Pete calmed considerably and got down to his reading, leaving Helena to pull Myka’s hand into hers once more where she was intent on studying each line of her palm until the plane landed in New York.
Helena had not spent time in New York since her debronzing and, as such, Myka had been a little concerned that the hustle and bustle might unsettle her. For all her adjusting to her new time, there were still things that managed to throw her, and the resultant frustration often caused more damage than whatever it was that had confused or upset her in the first place. She needn’t have worried, however, as Helena spent the entire ride from the airport to the city with her face glued to the window. She had marvelled over the people walking the streets and the buildings that disappeared into the sky. When she declared the energy to be like that of London, Myka regretted not having bought her here previously and, settling in to watch her delight, starting planning a chance to rectify that.
It wasn't long until Pete started pointing out landmarks and tried to feed her misinformation about their surroundings. Helena, it seemed, was too smart for him however, and started correcting him through her laughter. It was impossible not to get swept away in the wonderful mood and as such it was with quite good cheer that the trio approached the museum. It was only mid morning but the building was already milling with visitors: mothers with young children, pensioners enjoying a morning walk, rowdy students on a school trip.
The students filed past them in a huddle pretending to be a line. The children were all about ten years of age and their boisterous shoving reminded Myka all too keenly of her own schooling experience. Her quick eyes scanned them all, falling on the student her brain labelled as the ‘Myka of the group’. She was just a little too tall, her mouth just a little too wide, her hair just a little too curly – all of which combined to create a young girl best described as ‘gangly’, just as Myka had been at that age. Of course, it didn’t help that she was pouring over her guidebook eagerly, attaching post-its to the things she couldn’t bear to miss.
Helena, who was altogether too skilled at discerning her thoughts, nudged her gently as Pete arranged for their access to the museum. “She’s darling Myka, don’t you think?” she said, subtly pointing out the mini-Myka. “Look at all those lovely curls.”
Myka looked at Helena frankly. “Helena -”
“And the uniform is so sweet. In fact, now that I think about it, she doesn’t look entirely unlike Christina. Same smile about the eyes.” Helena sighed. “She would have loved it here.”
Myka smiled at her gently, wanting nothing more than to wrap Helena in her arms and never let her go. Helena was much freer with her thoughts these days, far quicker to share stories of her past, of the daughter whose memory she treasured so. Helena had explained that it was part of her rehabilitation, her therapy for the events of the past year (nay, the past hundred years). But Myka thought it more than that. Myka believed that, consciously or otherwise, Helena was making the world real to her again, that by making Christina exist in the minds of those around her then she wasn’t truly gone. It was a recalling to old habits, to be sure, but a healthier one that Myka supported.
Pete nearly skipped over to his partners, excitement lighting up his face. Reaching over, he smacked his palm firmly over Helena’s chest (earning himself an automatic whack from Myka), pulling back to reveal the impossible-to-miss bright red sticker now affixed to her lapel. Craning her neck and squinting (adorably, Myka’s brain supplied), Helena made out the words announcing her first time at the museum.
“Was that really necessary?” she asked.
“Of course!” Pete crowed. “Wouldn’t want you to miss anything important.”
Myka just shook her head at Pete’s good natured torment of Helena. He was completely capable of holding a grudge, Myka knew, but when he forgave he did so entirely. He had a good heart and shared it openly – it was why Myka loved him so.
“Okay,” Myka said, drawing his attention back to the matter at hand – but also noting that Helena had not removed her sticker. “We don’t know what the artefact will be, or, indeed, if there even will be one. I suggest we make a quick sweep of the floors for good measure and meet up in the Egyptian exhibit when it opens at eleven.”
Pete’s hand shot up into the air so fast it actually managed to unbalance Helena. “Dibs on the dinosaurs! Me. Ooh. Me. Pick me. Dinosaurs.”
Myka watched as he rose higher on his toes, his hand straining above him. She said nothing, causing him to emit small puppy-like whimpers.
“Helena, why don’t you -” the whimpers got louder. “- head to the Rose Center, I’ll take the Hall of Biodiversity, and Pete -” he started bouncing. “Pete you go check out the dinosaurs.”
“YES!” Pete punched the air and rushed off in the right direction.
Myka and Helena watched him go, slipping smoothly in the back of a school group, high fiving the two boys at the back.
“Doesn’t he need adult supervision?” Helena asked.
When Myka arrived at the new exhibit it was just in time to hear Helena chastise Pete for peeking under the skirt of the Horus guard outside the door.
“What? This is a museum. I’m learning about Ancient Egyptian boxer shorts. It’s educational!”
The two boys he had high fived earlier slapped hands over their mouths to contain their mirth. They were looking at him with unabashed admiration – which, by the looks of it, had won him the approval of their teacher. Pete Latimer may be King of the Kids, but it usually ended up paying off in the end.
The exhibit had been well advertised, and as such had quite a few visitors. Myka had already contemplated the trip before the assignment had been so fortuitously made. The main draw of the exhibit were the contents of a newly uncovered tomb, one that was already being heralded as the find of the decade.
The tomb had belonged to a young Middle Kingdom pharaoh. His historical significance was still under consideration, but despite the outcome there was no denying that he had been beloved. His tomb had been well stocked and, much to the delight of the archaeological community, had been remarkably well preserved.
Right on eleven o’clock, a blue blazered museum worker appeared and opened the exhibit, pulling back the curtain between the two ‘guards’. With a quick glance of agreement between them, the three split up and kept watchful eyes on everyone around them – when it came to artifacts, red velvet ropes only went so far.
Whenever possible they would brush a static bag up against an object or two in the hopes of catching a spark. Copper hand weapons, papyrus maps, limestone busts – even a dazzling jewelled gorget – all were quickly tested and dismissed.
Several hours and even more artifacts later, they slumped towards each other in the middle of the exhibit. It had been laid out to resemble the original layout of the tombs and this, the antechamber was the most densely packed with items.
Collapsing on the bench, Pete smacked Myka lazily with the guidebook. “Hey Mykes. Didcha check the creepy cat?”
“What cat?” Helena asked.
Pete pointed out the ‘creepy cat’ that sitting had bought into the line of sight. It was a stone statue, sitting about thirty centimetres tall. It was made of a black stone, its gold inlay around the forehead and colour still remarkably shiny. High on its chest sat the Eye of Horus, a symbol now very familiar to all the agents, and below that, a winged scarab. Most stunning of all were its bright blue eyes, made of a polished stone.
“Bastet.” Pete gave her an odd look, but Myka continued before he could start. “Bastet was an Ancient Egyptian war goddess, quite a powerful one. It was her duty to protect the pharaoh. She was also the protector and patron saint of Lower Egypt.”
Helena looked at her approvingly for her recall of information and picked up the thread where she had left off. “She was originally depicted with the head of a lioness, but over time and with the increasingly reverence for the domestic cat in Egyptian society she took on the visage of her animal symbol.”
Pete gave them both a look. “You guys are nerds. You know that right?”
Helena looked at him disdainfully, “I, Mr. Lattimer, am a geek, thank you very much.”
“Claudia?” Pete questioned, having seen their young friend supply Helena with a supplements to her vocabulary on more than one occasion.
Myka pulled herself from the bench, pulling her now well-crinkled static bag from her pocket and slipping it over the statuette. A smattering of electrical sparks poured from the open end of the bag. Myka shied away from them, but still found the hot sparks burning and tingling her fingertips.
Helena clapped her hands together, something she was wont to do after an artefact had been both ‘snagged’ and ‘tagged’. “Righty-ho then chaps, shall we away?”
Pete screwed up his face at her.
Myka placed the static bagged statue down in front of Artie with a flourish. This was by far her most favourite part of the job, and Artie rewarded her with a pleased grin.
“Good job, all of you,” he said, slipping his hands into some purple gloves so he could investigate the artefact himself. He turned the statuette over in his hands, running his fingers over the smooth lines of the cat’s body. “Beautiful,” he whispered, investigating its surprisingly blue eyes. He pointed them out. “Lapis Lazuli, you see? The Ancient Egyptians used them used it on their amulets. Bastet was highly revered, as you know – if this was in the Pharaoh’s tomb it may have been part of his personal collection. There’s no telling what effect this could have had. I’ll have to uh, do some research.”
And with that Artie was gone, headed for the archives, artefact firmly in hand.
Claudia picked up the scuffed static bag between two purple fingers. “What happened here? You guys recycling bags now? Cause that’s not a good idea.”
Myka grabbed it, one last errant spark zapping her on the hand. “You know what museums are like, Claud, more searching than snagging.”
“Speaking of museums,” Pete said, shoving his hand into his pocket. “I come bearing gifts for the Claudielf.”
Museum themed badges poured from Pete’s hand into Claudia’s, more than one dinosaur design in the pile. In true Pete fashion (all heart, no subtlety), he had taken to bringing Claudia souvenirs every time they went on a mission. It didn’t exactly make her miss Jinks less, but trying to guess what he would bring her did distract her, at least momentarily.
Myka was tired enough to let Helena win the battle to drive home. How she managed to drive herself about when she was first debronzed Myka had never discerned, but since then she had developed a rather selective regard for road rules and a decided lead foot. As such the pair were inside Leena’s well before Pete and Claudia had arrived.
The latter pair had entered the lounge, full of the usual barbs about Helena’s driving, but the sight of Myka curled up on the chaise, her head in Helena’s lap and already well on the way to sleep stopped them short. Between the two of them, Pete and Helena were able to manoeuvre the boneless Myka into bed for a well deserve sleep after a day of artefact hunting.
Going to sleep was not a sensation Helena handled well, the loss of control so unsettlingly like being bronzed that she often fought it into exhaustion. Waking up, however, was quite possibly her favourite thing in the world – especially these days.
Most mornings found her wrapped snugly in blankets and Myka’s arms. It amazed her that they always went to sleep more or less on their own sides of the bed, but come morning Myka was so far on Helena’s side that they were practically occupying the same space.
Helena always woke before Myka and so she was free to study her bed partner all she liked. Today her study began simply by quietly enjoying the weight of Myka’s arms. Myka was a snuggler of unmatched proportions so it was not at all unusual for her arm to be resting under the blanket in the dip of Helena’s waist. What was unusual however was the lack of one of Myka’s longer legs curled around hers, or the face nuzzling into her hair as Helena’s consciousness caused her to slowly wake. Deciding that Myka must be further back than usual, Helena turned to continue her exploration of the peaceful sleepy expression she loved so.
Her turn was accompanied by the loss of warmth at her hip – and, unnervingly, a small snarl. Myka was usually a far better waker than this. Opening her eyes to apologise for waking her so, Helena was shocked to find the remainder of the bed devoid of Myka.
She threw back the covers to discern the origins of the hiss and found herself leaping from the bed at the sight of a small furred creature. Leena ran a clean establishment; Helena had never even seen an ant, let alone a pest of this size. The ‘pest’ looked up at her rapid movement, giving Helena a confused look.
Helena could see now that the creature in the middle of their bed was a small cat. Helena called on her (extremely limited) knowledge of felines to declare it a brown tabby. It was small in size, but Helena felt fairly certain that it was past the kitten stage.
Sitting back down on the edge of the bed for a closer look, Helena was surprised when the cat immediately relocated to her lap. Kneading her thigh gently, the cat curled itself up tightly and, without a care in the world, went off to sleep once more.
After the ‘Emily Lake Debacle’ – as it was called around here, when mentioned at all – Helena had made no secrets about her dislike of cats, and it had been her experience that cats weren’t all that fond of her either. There had been talk from her ‘therapist’ (a regent who had been appointed to her) of Dickens accompanying her back to the Warehouse as part of her rehabilitation – something about unconditional love and soothing companionship. Thankfully Helena had managed to dissuade them of that notion, citing the affectionate nature of her teammates as adequate enough in this regard. Helena thought they could read through the lines perfectly well, and wasn’t all that concerned. Pete, however, had thought the idea a wonderful (or at least wonderfully entertaining) one, and Helena would not have put it past him to have spirited the cat into their bed just to annoy her.
Scooping the cat up to hold against her chest, she ignored its mewl of protest – which quietened down when it found the soothing rhythm of her heart beat.
“Come on... kitty,” Helena said, feeling entirely out of her element. “Let’s go have a word with Uncle Pete.”
Pete and Claudia, the early risers in the group, were already at breakfast with Leena fussing around them when Helena reached the dining table. Prying the cat’s claws from her pyjamas, Helena dropped the cat gently but decidedly onto the table, paws landing between plates of pancakes and jars of jam. “Care to explain this?” she asked.
Pete looked at her blankly as Leena rushed in to scoop the cat up off the table, giving Helena a dark look as she did so. “No pets on the table!” she declared firmly.
The cat had not taken kindly to being gathered up by Leena. Leena had, despite her ire, done so with care, and was cradling the creature gently against her chest – and yet the cat had fixed it’s green eyes on her and issued a displeased mewl. Struggling with the cat’s scrambling limbs, she was forced to drop the cat – who, after a quick swipe at Pete’s calf as she passed, settled herself comfortably at Helena’s feet. Looking up from her strange new visitor, Helena again directed her attention at Pete. “Well?” She prompted.
“It’s a cat,” Pete supplied, a little confused - and more than a little distracted by Helena's pyjamas. He had seen Myka's in her pyjamas plenty of times, but while she tended to favour the oversized or the flannel, HG's preference was decidedly different.
Claudia’s face had broken out in a grin at the cat’s appearance earlier and it showed no sign of leaving. “You decided to get a cat after all, HG? That’s awesome, you should have said something!”
“I did not acquire this feline,” Helena said in an affronted voice. “I believe I made my thoughts on the subject quite clear.”
But Claudia wasn’t listening, having already dropped from her chair to the ground, coaxing the cat forward with an outstretched hand and a kind smile. “Are you sure? Cause I gotta say, HG, the two of adopting a kitty? So cute.”
Helena bristled again. This conversation was not going to plan – she had not adopted this cat, and she was most certainly not cute. Myka maybe, but not her. She sighed and went looking for the voice of sanity. “Where is Myka?”
Pete looked at her with renewed confusion. “She’s with you. You know as well as I that she can’t be budged until you’re up and about.”
He was speaking the truth; it was, in fact, the only thing that irritated him about his partner’s relationship with HG Wells. Before her inclusion in their little band of agents, Myka had always been up and out at first light, now there were days he had to literally drag her from the bed – dragging Helena was more effective, he had learned, as Myka would always follow, but Pete did not have the courage to try this a second time. Myka may hit, but Helena was downright scary.
Helena turned to Leena, hoping that they were just mistaken and Myka had slipped down unnoticed, but she too shook her head. This was not right, where was she?
Picking up on her worry, the cat left off playing with Claudia and returned to Helena. It meowed softly and lowly, but Helena paid it no heed, refusing to be drawn into anything regarding this ball of fur. Where could she be? The cat raised itself on its hindquarters, forepaws resting o n Helena’s bare knees.
Still unconcerned, Claudia slipped her Farnsworth from her pocket, “She probably just couldn’t sleep and went to the Warehouse to do some inventory.”
But Helena knew this wasn’t true, knew that Myka would never have left without leaving her a note. She had been reluctant to leave her side at all since Helena’s return, so this was completely unimaginable. No, Helena thought as the cat started rubbing her face against her legs, Myka would never...
As Artie’s voice, cranky at being disturbed so early, filtered through Claudia’s Farnsworth, Helena’s eyes slowly dropped to the cat who was now nibbling at her toes to get her attention. Her stomach felt hot and heavy as the impossible knowledge came to settle in the forefront of her mind. She bent to gather the ball of fur into her arms, lifting it so that it's green eyes stared directly at her. "...Myka?"
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Claudia looked between the cat and Helena in disbelief. "HG? What are you...?"
The shock on Helena's face was evident, a surprise of confusion that nothing in the 21st century had put on her face. "I don't know how, Claudia. I just know."
Pete and Leena had joined Claudia in her dumbfounded state. They were all staring at the tabby cat who, in turn, was fixing Helena with a stare far too steady for any feline.
It was Artie's agitated voice that, like a hundred other times, spurred them into action. "Would any of you delinquents care to explain why you've called me at this ungodly hour?"
"Um... Artie?" Pete said, prompting Claudia to turn the Farnsworth in his general direction - giving Artie a fantastic view of Pete's elbow. "Yeah Artie man, we're coming in now, okay?"
"Now?" Artie barked. "It's 7am on a Saturday. It's your day off. It's MY day off!"
Claudia turned the Farnsworth back towards herself and levelled him with her best 'Artie-glare'. "Quit griping Grandpa and get yourself dressed - the troops are comin' to visit."
Helena climbed the stairs with an eagerness for work that had been lacking of late. It wasn't that she no longer found the work enjoyable - but that she had found more 'stimulating' pursuits outside the warehouse walls. Now, however, there was nothing she wanted more than to barrage into the warehouse and have Artie fix everything. She was even prepared to endure his bluster and still faintly distrustful glances if it meant she could Myka back the way she should be.
As she rose she could hear the gentle padding of cat paws behind her. It followed closely at her heels without complaint, darting ahead only when they had reached their bedroom. Slipping in behind her, Helena saw that Myka-the-cat (good heavens) had already made quick work of their nest of bedding and had found herself a prime perching position atop a mountain of pillows at the foot of the bed. She looked at Helena expectantly, as if waiting to be addressed.
Helena eyed her warily, and spoke reluctantly, "...Myka?" The cat mewled, which she, somewhat desperately, took as confirmation.
Helena sighed, conversing with a cat was not something she had planned for their day off. Crossing the room, she sat on the bed. The cat stood with the shifting of the bed, and wobbled slightly as she found her footing once more. For a moment it appeared that she would be returning to her place squarely in Helena's lap, but the look on Helena's face was obviously clear enough to break through the human-feline language barrier and she stayed put.
Helena swept a frustrated hand through her hair, scrunching and detangling the knots produced in sleep (mostly through Myka's wandering hands) as she did so, leaving her normally sleek black mane in a tousled halo around her face. "Myka... We, we've discussed this. I do not wish to have a cat."
The cat stared unblinkingly.
"Truly. I - I'm just not good with animals, and the feeling is mutual, let me assure you. Did I not tell you what happened to Charles' parrot? It is not an encouraging tale - especially for one who has been recently transmogrified to an animal of the pet persuasion."
Myka-the-cat moved her mouth in a silent meow and pawed Helena's knee gently, as if testing the waters, the brown of her paws a stark contrast to the paleness of Helena's knees. She looked up at her face as if checking for adverse reactions before pulling herself up to sit on Helena's leg.
Helena was surprised by the warm weight of the cat on her thigh. It's tail thumped gently against the mattress, but the rest of it's tiny body was perfectly still, fixing Helena with the patient stare Myka employed whenever she was concerned about Helena's well being.
Sighing, Helena succumbed (dear god she was being manipulated by a cat) and scratched the MykaCat behind the ear, marvelling in the instant rumble it produced. "This is all a ploy on your part, isn't it, Myka darling? You had yourself turned into a cat so as to receive undivided pampering, I know, you may as well confess."
MykaCat didn't respond except to bump her head firmly into the palm of Helena's hand. Not being terribly used to cats (at least that she could remember) Helena was surprised at the feel of the cat's head against her hand. The thin layer of skin and fur did little to mask the shape of it's skin or the way it fit so nearly into her cupped palm. The skin moved against bone in an alarming yet not entirely unappealing manner. Sensing that she was not receiving the entirety of Helena's attention, the cat made a point of batting her head against her once more, drawing a small chuckle from Helena. "Just as demanding as always, I see."
"Myka," Helena began softly, toying with the cat's thin ears, studying the way they caught the light. "Myka, you'll have to help me, okay? I'm going to get you back. But, in the meantime, I don't know what I'm doing. Just promise me you'll be okay."
MykaCat blinked at her, in possession of the unnerving calm only a cat is capable of. Helena decided to take this as agreement on its part.
"Alrighty then," she said, injecting some cheer into her voice as she gently picked the cat up and returned it to the bed. "Time to get dressed and go solve this latest puzzle of ours."
Grabbing her clothes, Helena turned to see the MykaCat perched once more at her place on the end of the bed, watching. "Right. This is too weird, even for me."
It was a smirking Pete who discovered the MykaCat circling sadly outside their bedroom door, scratching forlornly, before he delivered her safely downstairs.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
NOTE: I am not an historian and, though I feel incredibly guilty in saying so, did absolutely no research for this chapter at all beyond a passing glance at a few websites about Bast. Please do not take anything in this fic as fact – just take it in the spirit it was attended. Thanks.
Artie circled the cat with interest, his eyes squinted in concentration as he took in every detail from the light stripe on its tail to the length of its whiskers. Stroking its back with a purple gloved hand, fur and skin dragged with the pull of the latex, resulting in a displeased hiss being directed his way.
"Well Myka would never hiss at me," Artie declared, drawing incredulous looks from his agents and, if he wasn't mistaken, the cat.
"Artie man," Pete said. "Human Myka has nearly scratched your eyes out on multiple occasions. I wouldn't push it."
Artie cleared his throat and took what he hoped was a subtle step back. "Right. Well," he crossed the room to pick up the Bast statuette from his desk. "Clearly this has something to do with her predicament."
"Clearly," Helena echoed dryly.
"We figured that part out ourselves, Artie," said Pete. "How do we fix her?"
"Uh..." started Claudia nervously. "I wouldn't talk about being ixedfay around the C-A-T. I don't think Myka would appreciate that."
"She can spell, Claud. And I think she already knows she's a cat."
"Wait," Artie interrupted. "Does she?"
"Does she what?" Claudia asked.
"Know she's a cat."
"It's kinda hard to miss," Pete said. "I mean, the tail is a bit of a giveaway."
Artie crouched down to eye the cat once more. "Yes, but is it still Myka? Is she aware of what's happening?"
Helena joined him. "There were times this morning that she seemed like Myka, as if it had her personality. But I can't see she ever truly attempted communication."
Artie ran his hand gently down the cat's back, ignoring the thought that he was in fact petting Myka. "Myka, if you can understand me... meow twice."
The cat licked her paw and started to clean the fur of her face.
"Soooo..." Claudia queried. "It's not Myka?"
"No," Helena assured her. "It is definitely Myka - I would even go so far as to claim that she possesses Myka's spirit, as indefinable a term as that may be, but it does not appear that she is in possession of her full mental capacities. She is, in point of fact, a cat."
Pete looked on the cat with an almost glazed expression. "My partner is a cat. My partner is a cat and I hunt down magical items of historical significance. My life should be a show on cable."
"And what am I?" Claudia asked. "Your peppy sidekick?"
"Naturally, my dear fellow, naturally," Pete said, affecting an accent as he placed an arm around her shoulder.
"Do we get a uniform?" she asked.
"Indeed. One with spangles and ruffles, but -"
"- NO CAPES!" Claudia joined him, remembering the rules they had established for their superhero costumes some months prior.
Their riff was interrupted by Helena's low cough. Pete did not know it was possible for a threat to sound so dangerous. "If we could get back to the matter at hand?"
Claudia gulped, slipping from Pete's arm. "Yes, ma'am."
Helena ran a hand through her hair as MykaCat regarded them all with feline interest. "Did you find anything in your research that may explain this, Arthur?"
Pete smiled gently. Helena employed the 'Arthur' frequently to get under Artie's skin, or to maintain a distance between them when they argued (far less regularly these days, but it still occurred), but every once in a while it slipped out with a sincerity of tone. Helena was protective of them all in an odd way of late, as though her care and protection could in some way eradicate the harm her prior actions had caused. It wasn't often that they heard that nearly motherly tone used with gruff Artie, but they all (Myka in particular) were pleased to see the growing affection between the pair.
Artie cast about, looking for his research. "I did uncover some interesting things, yes... but... where did I...? Oh." Artie paused to look helplessly at MykaCat. "She's sitting on them."
The cat was indeed sprawled on her side over a manila folder full of papers. The end of her tail twitched regularly, tapping out a gentle beat on the table top. Artie gave her a little nudge and an awkward 'shoo', at which Myka Cat merely returned to her grooming. Artie looked at Helena imploringly. "How do I make her move?"
"I don't know!" she declared, almost indignant. "Why do you assume I know?"
"She is your cat," Pete supplied.
"She is NOT my cat!" Helena cried, feeling immediately guilty for her words. "...I mean, she's not a cat."
"She may not be a real cat," Claudia said cautiously. "But face it HG, cat or not, she is yours - and you'll have to learn to deal with her."
Helena sighed. That much was true, and something she could not deny. She had (and still did) thought herself entirely unworthy of the love that Myka had given so freely upon her return; Myka had been so relieved to see Helena whole and healthy that she had practically fallen into her arms. Many a night had been spent with the pair curled up in one corner or another with Myka (who so readily denied her skill with words) whispering sweet assurances into Helena's ears, her words moving in sync with soothing hands. Myka had spent far too long in her attempts to convince Helena of her worthiness, of their rightness for Helena to deny it now... even if it did mean she was now responsible for a cat.
Helena turned to Artie, who was still trying to cajole MykaCat into moving from the files. She was clearly not having a bar of it, and Helena bit her lip to hide her smirk; this was a Myka move if ever she saw one. Approaching slowly, she reached out and scratched the cat's chin before displaying her open hands. MykaCat popped up from her resting place and walked directly into Helena's hands, allowing her to pick her up. Pete grinned, loving when he is so easily proven right - he worked with Myka and H.G.-freakin'-Wells, it wasn't like it happened every day.
Claudia, failing miserably in not laughing at the way Helena was carrying the cat (somewhere between something slimy and a live bomb, arms outstretched, cat limbs dangling), started adjusting Helena into a more natural stance as Artie grabbed his notes and started shaking off the cat fur.
"Right," he said between waves. "As I was saying, I did uncover some interesting information. In all my research on Bast, I found nothing pertaining to human-feline transfiguration, except in reference to herself. It is my believe that that the artifact has more to with the statue and it's owner than any power owing to the god herself."
"But you said you found something," Helena prompted. "Did the museum uncover the identity of the Pharaoh?"
"No," he said, watching her face fall before smugly continuing. "But I did."
Helena hitched MykaCat up higher against her chest (surprised when the cat didn't complain at the jolting movement) as she moved closer to study the photos and documents Artie was spreading across the table. "I did a little digging and translating myself and feel pretty confident in my findings. The Pharaoh in question was a young man who ruled for only five years in the Middle Kingdom era. As the museum suspected from the contents of his tomb, he was rather beloved despite his young age and short reign, but the wall inscriptions tell us more."
Claudia looked at him oddly and pointed at the high resolution photographs of the tomb walls that he laid out before them. "Artie, how did you...?" He looked at her frankly. "Right. Go on."
"The walls say that his name was Kahotep, which, roughly translated, means 'peaceful essence'. He inherited the kingdom after the untimely death of his father - one that occurred under, shall we say less than honest means. His training in the royal arts was never completed, and yet he was a good man and an effective leader, who did begin to institute change and progress for his people. Unfortunately he also had somewhat of a suspicious nature - not surprising given his father's demise - and when his young bride fell ill while carrying their first child he turned to the guardian of children and pregnant women, Bast, in prayer. He was apparently quite devoted in his worship to Bast, which is not that unusual considering she also oversees the protection of the pharaoh. Now, what is most interesting is this statue itself," he picked it up, turning it so they could see better. "As you can see, it is inscribed on the base. It translates to one of Bast's titles, or epitaphs. She had quite a few, 'The Fiery One', 'Invisible Paw' and, my personal favourite, 'The Devouring Lady'."
Artie, who by this point was getting quite enthralled in his own little lecture, looked up to see them all merely staring at him. He coughed slightly. Why couldn't they just get into the spirit?
"Anyway, this particular epithet translates to 'Lady of Truth' and it is my belief that young Kahotep, already bereft over the loss of his father and the mystery surrounding his death, and now the suspicious illness affecting his wife and heir, turned to Bast for clarity of thought and the deliverance of some sort of truth or knowledge. As you are all aware, such a concentration of will can produce an artifact, and his desperation for truth has been contained within the statue."
"Are you saying," Pete asked. "That there is some sort of truth that Myka needs to know... and that she can only gain it by being a cat?"
"No," Artie said, pulling all his paper together, tapping the ends together to straighten then. "What I'm saying, is that there is a truth Helena must learn."
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Not moving immediately upon waking was the hardest thing Helena had to learn about having a bed partner, especially when the bed partner in question was Myka Bering. It was not unusual for Helena to wake entangled in her longer limbs, the hands so fascinated by her hair during the day having embedded themselves so firmly in sleep. It had only taken a few painful mornings for Helena to learn not to move until she had safely extracted herself.
As such, when Helena woke the next morning she performed her usual limb check before rising. Moving her legs slightly she was surprised to find them completely free. This surprise increased tenfold when her arms, too, were unencumbered; there was no arm draped heavily over her chest. All the warmth that signified a foreign body, in fact, was centered around her neck. Opening her eyes slowly, Helena started slightly at the sea of brown fur obscuring her field of vision.
Helena had settled MykaCat last night in a basket in the parlour (previously home to Leena's knitting, don't tell), but had relented a short time later when the cat made her way upstairs to their door. There was a conflict in Helena's mind over the part of MykaCat that was indeed her Myka, and the part that was simply a cat. But there was no way that Helena could have ignored the piteous mewling of either. MykaCat had practically skipped into the room (as much as it was possible for a cat to skip), seemingly just as happy to have drawn Helena from her bed as to having gained entry to the room. MykaCat had curled up in the centre of Myka's side of the bed, just as Myka made a point of doing every night. Helena supposed she shouldn't have been surprised that MykaCat would adjust herself in the same manner.
At some point in the night, MykaCat had decided that sharing a pillow would be nice and she had curled up against Helena, her front paws coming to drape over the white length of Helena's neck like a scarf. Wary of the cat's claws, Helena rearranged her gently, shifting the sleepy paws back onto the pillow. For once she was grateful for Myka's inherent morning sleepiness as she did not particularly wish to have to explain claw marks to Pete.
As usual, Helena could rearrange her all she liked, but it was the simple act of herself rising from the bed that had Myka awake and protesting. Sighing gently, Helena pulled MykaCat to her, ignoring the brown fur that now spotted the pillow, and held her in the comforting manner that Claudia had shown her yesterday.
And with MykaCat curled up so happily in her lap, purring away in contentment, it was hard to remember why she had protested so strongly in the first place.
Claudia returned the strawberry jam to the table ever so slightly out of Pete's reach. It was just a standard reaction these days, the low level antagonism that existed between them. It certainly wasn't new, Pete having quickly and easily filling the void that Joshua's move to CERN had created (or rather, reopened after way too short a term of closure), but with Jinksy gone and Myka and Helena's relationship blossoming, the pair had drawn together and their sibling behaviour (which ran the whole gamut from affection to rivalry) had intensified.
This morning, however, Pete's mind was on other things, and he thought nothing of stretching for the jam. Grabbing it, he took his customary two spoonfuls (one for his toast, one for his mouth) and fixed Claudia and Leena with a thoughtful look.
"Do you think," he asked. "That if HG doesn't learn whatever it is she has to learn that Myka will stay a cat forever?"
"Well that hardly seems fair to Myka," Claudia said sadly.
"And when, of the many cases you have seen at the Warehouse to date, have you ever seen an artifact play fair?" Leena asked, gently.
"Um. Good point."
Hearing Helena on the stairs, Leena rose to begin steeping the tea leaves Helena preferred.
"Dude, what are we going to do?" Claudia asked, some of the adorable charm of the situation wearing off with this realisation.
"I don't think there's anything we can do here, Claud," he lamented. "I think it's all up to HG."
"What's all 'up to me'?" Helena asked, entering the room with MykaCat curled gently in the crook of her arm, tail hanging as if she didn't have a care in the world.
Pete and Claudia looked at each other cautiously. They had all been remarkably impressed and proud and Helena for the progress she had made with her rehabilitation, for the steps she had made to regain her life. But, while there was no longer any issues of distrust, there was concern among the non Bering-and-Wells contingent of the team about what it might take to break that hard earned control and drop her back into the heartache that lurked beneath the surface. Personally, Pete believed that Myka was the key to making or breaking HG Wells, just as she had always been - and hearing that she was Myka's sole hope for saving may just be more than she could handle.
"Cat food," Pete said, steadfastly avoiding Claudia's eyes. "It's up to you to go get the cat food."
As it turned out, food wasn't the only thing Helena had needed to procure. She remembered their maid, Frances, putting out a saucer of milk for the stray cat she shared with the other maids in their street, but that, and an occasional scratch behind the ears, was the the end of that cat's pampering. Nothing in that memory had prepared Helena for the Univille pet supply store, overflowing as it was with all manner of cleaning supplies, bedding and pet toys in every conceivable shape and colour.
Helena had returned to the B&B with packages falling from her arms. If Pete had a comment, he wisely kept it to himself, making himself useful by gathering her quickly descending packages. Her eyes casting about, she was saved asking after Myka by Claudia's entry into the room, cat in hand.
"We had a lovely time with Aunty Claudia, didn't we MykaKitty?" Claudia crooned, her cheeks brushing against the cat's whiskers. Helena smiled, considering the response Myka would surely have for Claudia's baby talk when she retook human form.
Having started to squirm upon noticing Helena's presence, Claudia handed MykaCat off, pleased at how much happier the cat was in Helena's arms.
Allowing the cat to crawl around in her arms, finding the most comfortable position, Helena's hands found the cold metal hanging from the cat's neck. It was a round, bronze coloured disc attached to a strip of leather that had been fashioned into a collar. Helena recognised the neat, tidy stitches of Leena's hand on the collar, but the bronze medallion was all Claudia. She had, with her surprisingly steady hand, etched the likeness of a cog on one side (no doubt a reference to this 'steampunk' the girl insisted on associating with every aspect of Helena's being). Floating over the fine lines of the gear was Myka's name, firm of line and straight of serif. With the metal warming in her hand, she flipped it over, expecting to see the address of the B&B. Instead, in that same undeniable hand, Claudia had engraved a single word: 'Helena's'.
Helena had never considered herself a possessive person. She had spent the majority of her life as a Victorian lady (however rebellious) where nothing, not even the words constructed by her own hand, had belonged to her. And yet her heart leapt at the sight of the singular word, the presence of that beautiful apostrophe.
It was true, she finally, and wholly, realised. Myka was hers.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
MykaCat settled into life at the B&B quickly and surely. Like all cats, she appeared as though she owned the place, moving about where and when she pleased... though like her human counterpart, she could often be found haunting the library or snoozing in Helena's lap. While they all missed human Myka terribly, it took no time at all for the inhabitants of Leena's B&B to fall completely in love with MykaCat - except perhaps for Leena herself...
Pete and Helena had been sent on a mission. It was to be a quick snag, bag and tag at an antique store a few towns over, but still, Helena was reluctant to leave. The reality of Myka's condition and her own singular role in her restoration had hit Helena and she did not want to leave her alone. After four attempts to sneak MykaCat into the car, however, Pete had rescued the thoroughly ruffled feline and delivered her back into the B&B under the watchful eye of Leena.
If Helena was opposed to the idea of having a cat as a pet, Leena was opposed to cats in general and, after Helena, was the one who was the most eager to restore Myka to her human form. It was hard enough, sometimes, to look after this rag tag collection of agents; make sure they slept enough, ate proper meals and didn't fall apart from the sheer insanity of their daily lives. Everything was made much harder when covered with a thick layer of cat fur.
Leena had accepted the extra vacuuming into her routine, she had learnt to deal with MykaCat joining them at the table, sitting primly on Helena's lap, she had even grown accustomed to her friend's trailing off mid-conversation, hypnotised by some apparently adorable feline manoeuvre MykaCat was currently engaged in. But on this day Leena's waning patience gave out. The sound of tearing fabric was surprisingly loud, carrying far into the next room as MykaCat's sharp claws shredded the leg of the lounge.
It was the last day MykaCat spent alone in the B&B with Leena.
MykaCat fared far better in the warehouse, her destructive catty tendencies never surfacing. Artie believed that the ambient energies of the multitude of artifacts worked together to mute the effect of the Bast artifact. Helena, however, was of the opinion that Myka simply felt more comfortable here in the Warehouse, it being the place she was often the most happy.
Since her banishment from the B&B during the day, MykaCat had been bundled up with the agents every morning, but, far from being content to be the warehouse's temporary but much loved mascot, she had taken to striding down the aisles with purpose, joining Claudia in her never ending stock taking. No amount of admonishing would make her - or Claudia, who thought it wonderfully entertaining - stop. Thankfully, MykaCat was content to stay off the shelves, and was actually quite in tune with the warehouse's eccentricities, often hissing any wayward artifacts back into place before they had a chance to misbehave.
When she tired of this roaming, however, MykaCat would always return to the same place - atop Artie's piano, one leg and that perpetually twitching tail hanging from above. Artie did not approve of her apparently favourite resting place - which was, no doubt, the very reason she favoured it so.
Hours were wasted with Artie's fruitless shooing, his force removal of her to the floor (resulting in the clearly spiteful move to sit directly upon the keys), and his plaintive looks at Helena - who enjoyed the show far too much to interfere.
After hearing Leena's decree, Artie had let MykaCat into the warehouse, but he was an old bear of a man and was often cranky at anything that disrupted his usual routine. It was clear, however, that just like human Myka, MykaCat had a special pull on Artie, and she seemed to enjoy provoking him whenever possible. She seemed to take immense kitty satisfaction whenever she was able to draw him from his work, to the point where he would, begrudgingly, pet her awkwardly.
And so it was that MykaCat came to spend her afternoons with Artie. He claimed MykaCat to be a nuisance, one who evilly delighted in pouncing on his pen and blocking the computer screen at the most inopportune moments. And yet for all his complaints, Helena had found him, on more than one occasion, conversing with the cat when he thought no one was around. Propped up on the piano, MykaCat would watch, entranced by his fingers flying over the keys below as Artie quietly discussed everything from the current mission and their team to the correct wrist movement of the perfect arpeggio.
Helena wasn't sure how much Myka understood in this state, but it was obvious that, if nothing else, she was soothed by the gruff growl of Artie's voice. It warmed Helena's heart to know, to see so clearly, that there were others who loved Myka as much as she, who would be there to comfort her if ever she could not be.
Pete took to MykaCat with all his usual subtlety. There was no doubt that he missed his partner immensely, both in and out of the field, but he was compensating this loss by subjecting the poor creature to an inordinate amount of attention. Helena did not know if he had had a pet as a child, but she truly hoped that he had not, for it's sake if nothing else.
Pete fashioned small, cat sized hats and socks from his own wardrobe - cutting the fingers from his gloves to pull over her little paws. Nothing was sacred, with even Claudia's Star Wars bear having it's robes and tiny lightsabre repurposed and becoming clothing for the ever suffering cat. To her credit, MykaCat endured it with good humor, with Pete suffering only a minimum of scratches.
Helena's efforts to make him stop were half-hearted at best, because it was clear that he truly did miss his friend. The man was a big kid with an even bigger heart, Helena knew, with his days divided between his work, the sibling war he seemed to be engaged in with Claudia and his loving torment of MykaCat. And, to be fair, the trauma he was subjecting MykaCat to was not truly any different to the treatment he would have given its human counterpart - it just so happened that MykaCat was smaller and therefore ill equipped to evade the crazy man with the tiny Jedi outfit.
There came a night, however that MykaCat did not join Helena at her work table, nor did she appear from whomever had been pampering her to follow Helena up the stairs to their room. Helena had changed for bed and drawn back the covers waiting for her to arrive and yet still she had not. Grabbing Myka's thick flannel robe from the back of the door (far cozier than Helena's own satin one on the accompanying hook), she set out to find her.
There were difficulties to living in a household full of adults, and one the number one concern for all involved was that of privacy. As such, there was nothing more sacred than a closed door. Pete's door, however, had been left open just enough to let the light fall out across the landing, the sound of some gratuitous violence falling from his TV.
Slipping inside, Helena was stopped by the sight before her. Pete had clearly fallen asleep midway through the movie, but not before he had built a little nest of bedding for his companion. MykaCat, however, had abandoned his construction, and the now thoroughly knotted ball of yarn from Leena's stockpile (Helena made a note to do something nice for the poor woman soon) dangling over the side of the bed. Seeking warmth or comfort, the cat had curled her small body between mattress and Pete's ribs. At some point in his sleep Pete had curled his body around the cat protectively.
Helena had discovered the pair, and sometimes Claudia, in similar positions several times over the months she had been living here in the B&B, and she had always thought (perhaps ironically given Myka's current state) that they had reminded her of a litter of puppies, drawn together and ultimately dropping from their shared excited exhaustion. This was a part of Myka's world to which she did not belong, this give and take comprised of equal parts love, protection and provocation, but she found that she didn't mind so much.
Standing in the doorway she watched as Pete gave off a snore, no doubt induced by the awkward angle he was sleeping in. MykaCat opened her eyes slowly at the disruption and Helena's heart warmed as those green eyes, still oh so Myka, locked onto hers. MykaCat gave her a soft mewl and Helena nodded as she turned off the TV and returned to her room quietly.
'He needed me tonight,' it said. 'He is better now, but he needed me."
Helena understood her just fine.
It was quite clear from the outset that MykaCat preferred Helena's company above all others - it was her lap that she would curl up into at every opportunity, her ankles that she wound around again and again as if marking her territory clearly against any potential interlopers. Not that any of the others were surprised by this, mind; Myka had been fascinated by and enamoured with every aspect of Helena's existence since her arrival in their time.
Despite MykaCat's obvious preference, however, the rest of her odd little family enjoyed the company also, and tended to rebel whenever Helena and her new little shadow retired to their bedroom of an evening. And so it came to be that every night after dinner the inhabitants of the B&B would gather, one by one, in the lounge. On this particular evening, Claudia was the first to bound into the lounge, forgoing Leena's offer of hot chocolate for the opportunity to snag the best seat.
Helena was last to arrive having had to wheedle the location of her tea leaves out of Pete (the latest in their ongoing coffee/tea debate) and then stand by Leena as they made their hot beverages together. By the time her leaves had steeped to their fullest, all the others had taken up their preferred placement around the room.
Usually by this time, MykaCat could be found roaming from person to person, her surprisingly heavy footfalls skipping from one lap to the next as she gave each of her people their due love and attention (or, translated into feline, giving them all the chance to give HER due love and attention). Tonight, however, MykaCat appeared to be having some sort of fit, darting sharply from side to side, before dropping low to the ground and issuing a determined snarl.
Helena abandoned her tea on the side table, not even slowing to ensure it had made purchase on the surface, rushing forward with her heart in her throat. What was happening? Had the effects of the artifact gone on too long? Was the stress of the transformation too much? It was all her fault. Myka had depended on her - on HER - and she had let her down, and now there was nothing she would ever be able to do to make it up to her.
The sound of laughter pulled Helena up short. Claudia, Pete, Leena - even Artie, who had been spending more time at the B&B lately - they were all joining in a happy chuckle.
Now closer, Helena could see that MykaCat was not having a seizure, but was, in fact, quite happily attacking a bright red spot on the ground, pouncing around the room as Claudia moved the laser pointer from one surface to another.
"What is going on here?" Helena asked, her tone a little sharper than she had intended, but since she had just bypassed a near heart attack she figured it was forgivable.
Claudia glanced over at her, and even in the scant seconds she afforded her, Helena could see the glee on the young woman's face. It was rare that Claudia did anything for sheer in-the-moment pleasure, despite Pete and Myka's attempts to guide her in that direction. She had certainly not shown anything close to this degree of pleasure since Steve's passing.
"Aw, mum, we're just playing," she said. "She likes it, look."
With that, she moved the light slightly from side to side, MykaCat watching it intensely, before flicking it up to land squarely on Artie's forehead. There was a short beat in which for Artie to realise exactly what was happening, but since MykaCat had not hesitated in her movements it did him little good. Her claws hooked into the linen of his trousers as she scrambled up his legs, over his lap and up onto his shoulders in order to reach the offending spot. Despite his attempts to glare at her, not even Artie could resist the gales of laughter that came from Claudia as MykaCat hung, belly on the top of Artie's head, in order for her paws to bat at the spot.
MykaCat didn't look confused when the spot disappeared, as Helena had expected her to, but rather just gave them all what looked like an indulgent look.
Reaching behind the cushion, Claudia called for Helena's attention, "Actually, HG, if you don't mind, I've made her something." She pulled out what looked like a modified grappler. Helena had been working on updating the device and had several discarded models lying about her workbench; it seemed that Claudia had appropriated one for her own use.
Depressing the trigger, they all watched as a ball of tightly wound yarn flew from the end (Helena was relieved to see that it was the same yarn Pete had confiscated earlier, though she avoided Leena's eyes all the same). MykaCat pounced on it immediately, her earlier frenetic movements overshadowed by this new display of joy. Flipping a toggle she had installed on the butt of the device, Helena watched as Claudia's ingenuity allowed for the yarn to return to the barrel, winding itself as it did so.
Helena laughed in delight, "That is marvellous, Claudia darling. Perhaps I should be enlisting you with my modification attempts in future."
Claudia's grin grew even wider under the praise, and Helena reminded herself just how young Claudia was, and how much she needed her. Looking around the room and the smiling happy faces, she revised her thoughts: needed all of them.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Life at the Warehouse had been quiet of late, the lack of the usual dire emergency combining with the melancholy over Myka's absence to create a general disheartening of all within its walls. Artie escaped into his music, with even MykaCat's attempts to draw him out being unsuccessful. Pete and Claudia had taken to their rooms, entertaining themselves with movies and tinkering. Leena found herself running around from room to room, coaxing them with food and tea - but none would move until the evening drew them all together once more.
The mood had hit Helena particularly hard. With Myka's transformation encroaching into its second month, Helena was feeling the edges of her control start to waver. There was no compulsion to end the world, much to everyone's relief, but her new found cheer and good spirit had diminished of late. She could be found most days curled up on the settee in the Warehouse library, MykaCat at her side and no intentions of moving.
Myka had introduced Helena to the library with a childlike glee. She had blindfolded the all too willing woman and pulled her in by the hand, uncovering her eyes with a happy flourish, completely unaware that her partner was more enamoured by her beautiful smile than even the multitude of books lining the unending shelves. Needless to say, the room had quickly become their favourite, and they soon pulled in the brocaded settee to make it a little more homely. None of the others truly frequented the library, so it soon became their private hide out, hours whiled away in each others arms, reading over shoulders, fingers tracing over limbs and words in equal measure.
Having no issued assignment that day, Helena had slipped away after breakfast with little more than a flick of her wrist required to ensure the following of soft padding footfalls. The pair disappeared into the library like they had done so many times before. Helena claimed her place on the lounge, covering her knees with the lace throw she and Leena had knit together, needles clicking under the watchful eyes of Claudia and Myka (both too wary to contribute).
MykaCat, who had already well perfected the aerodynamics required to land perfectly in Helena's lap, took up her place with a confident fluidity. She bumped the top of her head against Helena's chin a few times, allowing her to recognise the pleasant scent of hot dust that accompanied MykaCat when she was in the warehouse - a clear sign that she had been poking her whiskers where they did not belong. Her paws needed Helena's thighs and belly gently, her forepaws alternating the pressure in a smooth rhythm, before setting in with an expectant stare. As far as cats went, this one was particularly spoilt, and she was no doubt expecting a little pampering. Scratching her behind the ears and under the chin, Helena revelled in the sound of contented purring, in how easy it was for her to make Myka happy.
She reached for the slim leather volume next to the settee. They had been working their way through The Island of Doctor Moreau – not that Helena would be telling Pete that – and they had spent several days with MykaCat napping on Helena’s chest, the sound of her voice slowly lulling both of them into a peaceful nap. She did not open the book today, however, the quiet humour she had found in reading her own words about sentient animals having waned in the light of Myka's continued condition. Instead she placed the book upon herself, its hard leather bound covers butting up against and disappearing into the halo of MykaCat's soft fur. Helena's fingers traced the light embossing, the gold leafed lines that swirled in an ordered chaos over the covers. Round and round her fingers traced, the tips drying and catching on each turn. It wasn't until a gentle paw landed upon them that she stopped.
It pained her that she had not been able to trigger Myka's transformation. She was not an overly modest individual - she knew she was more intelligent than most, but this was not a matter of smarts, she could not think her way out of this problem. It was a matter of emotion, not thought, and this was so far from her expertise. The traitorous notion that Pete would have figured this out weeks ago traipsed across her tired mind once again.
She was, Helena thought breakingly, no closer to a solution than she was when this whole mess had started. Being emotionally misaligned was nothing new, she had become used to that after Christina's death - but this time it meant Myka's life, and the knowledge that it was her own inadequacies dooming her bought fresh tears to her eyes.
MykaCat chirped at the tracks establishing themselves down Helena's face, appearing just as they so often did late in the night. Myka would touch her face with those undeniable hands of hers, kiss away the saltiness that was her fallen tears, and hold her tightly until it passed. Her simple presence had worked wonders for Helena's stability and now even that had been denied her.
With a fresh sob, Helena hitched MykaCat up higher on her chest so that her cold little nose tucked into her neck, and Helena's face disappeared into the beautiful variegated fur of her back. It hurt to think it, but there was a good chance she would never land on the correct balance of emotional truths to bring Myka back. All she could do was be here to comfort her as best she could.
Her fingers caressed the spot on MykaCat's neck that she liked so much, that delicious purring oscillating through her tiny body and into the skin of Helena's face, drawing an unwitting smile from her sullen depression. It comforted her to know that she didn't have to do everything, be Myka's everything - that the others: Pete, Claudia, Artie - even Leena, who kept coming back time and again, despite her grumbles - they would always be there for Myka. But, she admitted selfishly, it comforted her even more to know that she alone made her truly happy like no one else could. She would do anything to get Myka back, she would never give up on the one person she loved more than life itself. But in the meantime, she would do all she could to bring her comfort. And with this thought lingering in her mind, they both fell asleep to the sound of their soft breaths mingling together.
Helena considered dreams to be traitorous things. More often than not hers were filled with images of her daughter that left her gasping awake, tear soaked and more than a little panicked. Occasionally the lurking depths of her mind delivered up a treat, but so distrustful was she of her own subconsciousness that she was never able to fully enjoy them.
She had to give them credit, however, her dreams were vivid (often horribly so), which did make the pleasant variety hard to ignore. At present her brain was finding it hard to dismiss the wonderful scent she was surrounded in. It was warm, and carried the slight trace of cinnamon and paper. She hated her subconscious for immersing herself in that scent, the scent that was so undeniably Myka.
There were few scents so easily recognisable to her: the scent of apples never failed to move her, not the rich bitterness of fresh ink, and there was nothing quite like the wafting aroma of a pot of tea cutting through the biting cold of a winter morning. But Myka, the gentle notes that clung to her skin, Helena would know them anywhere.
She dared not open her eyes - for as much as her heart was pained by this dream, moreso would it ache to see it fade away. Instead she clenched her eyes tighter, forcing herself to hold onto the delicious sensations.
She had almost forgotten the exact weight of Myka's body draped over hers, of the way her soft skin gave way under her hands. She had banished the memory of Myka's wandering fingers that, even in her sleep would dance along Helena's ribs, landing gleefully entangled in her hair. She had suppressed the gentle tickle of curls against her cheek, locks coming to wind around Helena like a vine climbing a tree. All these things, having been so treasured, had been put aside. Until her traitorous memory dredged them up in her dreams.
Her dream Myka sighed in her sleep, snuggling further against Helena's own body. Like always, Helena was struck with the thought that Myka was trying to burrow her way into Helena's being, and she was both touched and saddened by this desperate show of love. They were well suited, this pair, if nothing else than in their fervent need for companionship and affection.
Deciding that even a glance at Myka's face would be worth the risk of waking, Helena opened her eyes into the nest of brown curls that filled her field of vision. She took a second to consider the shifting shades, so very much the colour MykaCat had been. Lifting her hand to smooth the hair back out of Myka's face, she held her breath when Myka reached up to hold Helena's hand in her own.
Helena had a marvellous imagination, but there was no way that any dream of even hers could accurately render the light and spirit in Myka's eyes as they locked onto hers. No dream could capture that perfect look of pure love.
"Helena," she whispered, and Helena was hard pressed not to think of it as a 'purr', husky from disuse as it was.
For the first time ever, Helena found herself completely bereft of words. Despite having spent two months with nothing but the most ardent wish to scoop Myka up and whisper to her all the worlds of her heart, there was nothing - what could she say?
In place of her words, fresh tears flowed anew. Myka, now awake and full of a special coltish grace at finding her body whole again, reached up to rest a palm on Helena's cheek. Slowly, achingly so, she stretched that beautiful neck of hers to kiss away the tears before they could disappear over the crest of Helena's chin, the salty drops disappearing behind the soft smoothness of her lips. No longer draped over her, Myka pulled Helena safely into the protective barrier afforded by her own limbs and whispered softly into her ear.
"You found me," she said. "You found the truth and bought me back."
Her breath was too concerned with releasing her relief at Myka's return, and so Helena nodded wordlessly into Myka's arms.
"Thank you," Myka uttered gently, earnestly. "Thank you for loving me."
And that was the answer, Helena knew. She had fallen for Myka from the moment they had met, charmed by this strong, intelligent woman of the future, this product of her time's legacy. But all the things she had loved about her were all the things that stopped her from believing herself worthy of her. It had taken Helena all this time to see the truth: that she was worthy of love, that making Myka happy was all that was required of her - and that loving her was something she could do in abundance. It had been the hardest truth she had ever had to learn, but also the most rewarding. Drawing herself closer, Helena allowed herself to fully enjoy the feel of being in Myka's arms once more, truly happy for the first time in months.
"I hope you know," Myka said, between light kisses over Helena's neck. "That I fully intend on keeping the collar."
Chapter 13: Epilogue
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"Duuuuuuuuuude," Claudia whined. "Move already, it' s my turn!"
"Nu-uh!" Pete cried. "I just got here! Make HG move."
Claudia scoffed. "Yeah, right, like that's gonna happen."
Myka felt her feet fly up and land back on the cushions as Claudia forcefully yanked Pete from the lounge. She opened her eyes just in time to catch the glare Pete gave his usurper. Claudia carefully lifted Myka's stockinged feet, slipping her lap between them and the lounge. Myka had sat there, her head in Helena's lap like she had done countless times before, but it had not been long before the others had formed their odd rotational foot massage. Not that Myka was minding terribly much.
They had all been delighted when Helena and the newly rehumanised Myka entered the Warehouse office. Claudia had barrelled across the room, this blurred ball of colour and energy, nearly wiping Myka out with the force of her hug. Pete, unable to break through Claudia's squirming glee, had settled for wrapping Helena in a giant bear hug, picking her up as he did so. Myka caught the manoeuvre out of the corner of her eye, pleased to see the affection between them - she did not hear Pete's quiet words of gratitude, the whispered 'we got our girl back' passing between them.
Though Claudia's hug would not end anytime soon, the intensity did diminish enough for Pete to grab Helena once more and pull her into the group hug. Looking through the amassed collection of shoulders Myka saw Artie looking upon them all with relief and joy; nothing made him happier than having all his team together. Myka's absence had affected them all greatly, and he had been far from immune to the grief they had endured.
Myka had been hard pressed to shuck them off long enough to get home, with them all trying to pile into the same car - much to Helena's frustration and Myka's amusement. Eventually, however, they had made it, and they revelled in their first evening gathering with Myka in attendance.
Having been forcibly removed from prime Myka petting position (Myka wasn't thinking about it too hard, she was just going with it), Pete had disappeared into the kitchen. Fully anticipating his move, Myka was not surprised to see him return with the cookie jar under his arm. She was not, however, expecting the saucer of milk that was unceremoniously shoved under her nose. "Thirsty, Myka?"
She glared at him over the rim of the saucer and spoke matter-of-factly, "Cats are lactose intolerant Pete, they don't drink milk."
"Huh," he said, lowing the saucer. "Didn't stop you from drinking the milk from my cereal every morning."
Myka closed her eyes on the memory. If she shut them tight enough and didn't look at Pete directly then she could pretend that that hadn't happened. She didn't expect this to truly work, she had quite clear memories of laser pointers and yarn - and she was fairly certain she had eaten three of Artie's socks. If there was one thing she could count on her friends for it was to torment her mercilessly over the coming weeks - Leena got quite used to checking every room for the abandoned saucers of milk Pete taunted her with and confiscating the laser-grappler from Claudia's mischievous hands.
Deciding to simply ignore him for now, Myka snuggled deeper into the lounge enjoying the warmth of Claudia's hands through her socks, kneading the flesh gently in a steady calming rhythm. Helena threaded her fingers through Myka's curls, studying the way they straightened out to twice their length with her gentle tugging. She could hear Pete and Artie discussing something, but could not summon up the energy to focus in on whatever it was. Leena's voice floated over the gentle din, her happily amused tone saying something about purring. Myka could not remember a time she had been more content.
Sliding further and further into her cosy rest, Myka fiddled with the bracelet on her wrist, the still new leather starting to soften as it twirled around and around, gently scraping her skin. Helena had been bought to tears when she had seen the collar now wrapped around Myka's arm, the gravity pulling the bronze medallion to hang at the back, the etched 'Helena's' pressing always against Myka's pulse point. She had offered to have something made for her, something more 'fitting', but Myka had refused point blank to even let her touch the bracelet. It was there to stay.
Seeing Myka fiddle with it fondly, a habit in the making, Helena leaned over her, kissing her from above. Not a word was said from anyone, the teasing of them (however fondly it has been made) had now ceased. Myka was home.
For everyone who has read along and left wonderful comments on this fic, I thank you - I hope you noticed when I picked up your ideas and suggestions and folded them into the chapters. Despite the fic now being finished, there are still several MykaCat scenarios that I have drafted out (most coming out of late night conversations between mynameisme91 and myself, so be warned) - eventually I will write them out so if you're interested, there will be MykaCat!verse ficlets popping up occasionally.