The sound of quiet, solemn footsteps pacing up and down the stairs, main floor, and second story hallway of the B&B were common enough anymore that Pete took comfort in them and used them as a metronome to help him fall asleep. He had spent every night of the first two weeks after the explosion trying to talk Myka into going to bed, each attempt ending in complete and utter failure, so now he just let her be. He left her alone with her grief, which she only truly allowed to overtake her when the moon hung itself high in the sky and the cool darkness of night wrapped around her like a blanket to camouflage her tears.
Ever since that fateful day when the Warehouse had been destroyed, taking HG along with it to its explosive end, Myka had been lost. Adrift. So achingly fragile that he was honestly afraid to even hug her for fear that his touch would cause her to shatter. So he allowed her to push him away, understanding that she needed that space and that distance, while he also kept a wary eye on her, ever on the alert should her anguish threaten to consume her.
Yes, he was ashamed to admit that he found comfort in the audible reminder that Myka was still with them and that the brunette was still alive. But they had all lost so much that day, that he selfishly clung to whatever he could that reminded him of everything he still had.
He glanced at the clock on his bedside table as Myka’s footsteps padded quietly down the stairs, it was now just after one in the morning, and he sighed as he heard the front door open and close behind her. He knew that Myka was gone. He had followed her once before when she had gone out in the middle of the night like this, just to make sure that she wasn’t going to do anything stupid, and so he knew exactly where she was headed.
And one night spent watching from a distance as she sobbed amongst the ashes of the Warehouse for the woman she’d loved and lost a second time was enough for him to know that she needed this time alone to heal.
If that were even possible anymore.
The barren valley that used to house the Warehouse was now nothing more than an empty plane of dirt, sand, burnt tumbleweeds, and ash. The night was silent in the valley, oppressive in its complete lack of sound. It was dead, much like her heart, and Myka welcomed the solidarity she felt with the space as she sat down amongst the ash that hadn’t been removed along with the rest of the debris that was left after the Warehouse had blown up.
Six weeks had passed since the day Helena had looked at her with tears in her eyes and a silent, gut wrenching goodbye passed between them with a look. As always, Helena was wary of Artie and mindful of the fact that he wouldn’t take kindly to hers and Myka’s relationship, but Myka dearly wished that Helena had actually put voice to the words that were so clearly evident in her tear-filled gaze.
I love you.
It wouldn’t make the pain she felt now any less, in fact she was certain that it would make the crippling agony that she felt all the more palpable, but she still selfishly wished for the chance to have heard them one last time. Her heart ached with the need to hear those three simple words spoken with the ringing affection Helena always managed to imbue in them.
But that, like so much else, was stolen from her, and she idly wondered how much loss a person could truly experience before they went mad. She hadn’t lost a child like Helena had back in 1899, but the aching emptiness she felt now had to be comparable. Her world, her entire reason for being, was ripped away from her in a moment and she was beginning to sincerely doubt her ability to recover from it.
She occasionally wondered if she even wanted to recover from it.
She bit her lip as she lifted her tear-streaked face to the heavens, recalling the nights she would bring Helena’s orb outside and the way they would spend hours lying beside each other staring at the stars. She remembered the way their hands would lie on the blanket she’d brought along, their pinkies a mere millimeter apart so that they could pretend that they were actually bodily together and that Helena wasn’t a hologram of her brilliant consciousness. She remembered cursing the Fates, to have given her such an epic love and then restrict her in such a way that they could never touch. She had screamed at the heavens, at the trees, at the dirt, at anything and everything and it still hadn’t been enough to ease the ache in her chest that she couldn’t touch what she so dearly wanted.
But, oh, how she would so gladly return to those days of forced distance and never being able to truly connect. Because at least then Helena would be with her in a semi-corporeal form. At least then, she would be able to look into her love’s eyes and hear her soft, rich voice say ‘I love you’.
She didn’t even bother to try and contain the sob that bubbled in her throat and she let its accompanying tears flow freely down her face. Out here, there was no hiding.
Out here, there was only truth and loss and loneliness.
It was strangely liberating to not have to hide how she was feeling and she cried even harder for the woman and the love that had disappeared right in front of her eyes.
I smell apples. The memory of Helena’s awed words brought forth a fresh wave of tears and she shook her head as she remembered how happy Helena had looked at that moment, like she had finally, finally regained the life she had so desired. Myka wasn’t conceited enough to believe that Helena found her entire reason for living in her presence, she knew how much the Warehouse was a part of her lover’s soul, and she had been genuinely happy for her to have that moment where she once again felt valued and validated.
She just wished that moment hadn’t ended in a flash of light. Death was too high a price to pay for that forgiveness.
“I miss you,” she whispered, her words no louder than a breath as she began to rock back and forth where she sat, her arms wrapped around her knees as if she were using that hold to literally keep herself from falling apart. “Every day. Every minute. Every second, I miss you.”
It was the first time that she’d actually spoken aloud when she’d visited the site of the blast, and she swallowed thickly as a weight of the words she spoke seemed to settle on her chest. Saying them aloud made it all real, and she so didn’t want it to be real. She closed her eyes as she turned into the softly blowing breeze that swept past her, her grief-stricken mind more than willing to pretend that it was the ghost of her lover’s touch lightly caressing her skin.
“Why did you have to do that?” she asked, her voice growing stronger as her anguish fueled her words. Now that the dam holding her emotions back was cracked, she was unable to contain her questions. Her hurt. Her anger. “Why? After everything we’d been through? After MacPherson and Yellowstone and the Regents and Wyoming and everything else… why, Helena? Why? Why then, when we had finally found each other again, would you have to go and do that?”
But, again, she received no answer but the wind, the quiet breeze once again picking up force to send thin tendrils of dirt and ash swirling around her. She licked her lips and reached down to gather a handful of dust, and she marveled at how soft it felt her hand. Her fist clenched angrily around the ash and she ground her teeth together as a wave of anger surged through her. It shouldn’t be soft. It should be hard and sharp, like the jagged edges of broken glass. Like the jagged edges of her shattered heart. She licked her lips as she opened her hand and allowed the fine grains to filter through her fingers. Her eyes tracked their movement, idly watching the way each particle seemed to somehow glow in the moonlight.
“I don’t know if I’m strong enough to keep going,” she confessed to the darkness, as she lifted another handful of ash and watched it stream from her grasp. “I don’t know if I want to.”
Her quiet, resigned confession faded into the night and she sighed. She knew she would never have the guts to take her own life, but that didn’t stop her from wishing for some way to make the pain she was feeling disappear. She just wasn’t strong enough to keep living with it like she’d been.
Again and again, she lifted fistfuls of ash and let them trail through her grip, the light breeze taking the nearly weightless flakes and flitting them away. Again and again, she watched them disappear from her grasp, and she was so focused on the way the ashes looked as they slipped from her hand and fell toward the earth that she failed to notice that each handful that blew away from her stopped only a few feet away, lightly coating the ghostly form of a person who had appeared out of nowhere and had watched in pained silence as Myka vented her grief.
Another handful of ash was lifted onto the night breeze and Myka’s eyes widened as she scented a familiar smell in the air.
But it was gone.
Her brow furrowed in confusion as she looked up, and she felt her heart seize in her chest as her gaze landed on the ghostly, agonized visage of her dead lover.
“Helena?” she whispered, too afraid that if she spoke any louder that the waves of her voice would cause the vision in front of her to disappear.
The figure nodded and gave her a sad smile, and Myka gasped at the familiar expression. Yes, it certainly was Helena. She’d know that sorrowful look anywhere. Surprise spurred her upward and she brushed her hands off on the seat of her pants as she scrambled to her feet. “Are you really here?”
Again, Helena nodded, but this time that small sign of assent was followed by a shrug that Myka took to mean, ‘yes, but not really’.
“Are you dead?”
Helena nodded and shrugged, and then shook her head as she smiled sadly at Myka. Clearly, the Englishwoman didn’t know what was going on any better than Myka did.
“Can you speak?” Myka watched as Helena’s tongue swept slowly across her lips, and she held her breath as the woman appeared to ready herself to say something
Helena’s mouth opened, but no words came out and both she and Myka visibly deflated at the lack of sound.
So, the answer to that one is no, then, Myka thought dejectedly. “It’s okay, sweetheart,” she murmured, walking carefully forward until she was able to run a hovering finger just above Helena’s lips. “I missed you.”
Helena nodded and tapped a finger to her chest before pointing at Myka, in a sign clearly meant to mean, And I, you.
“How are you here?” Myka asked tremulously. “I mean… why now? What changed?”
Helena puffed her cheeks out and shrugged. Myka watched as she looked around them and then made a circling motion with her hand as if to indicate the now-missing Warehouse.
“The Warehouse brought you back?”
Helena shrugged again and looked speculatively around the barren landscape that surrounded them.
Myka frowned. That seemed as plausible an explanation as anything else, considering the fact that she now stood atop the cindered remains of Warehouse 13 and Helena, who should be gone, was standing in front of her, staring at her as if she were the most priceless treasure in the world. “Is there a way for me to bring you back? Really, back?”
Helena smiled sadly and shrugged again.
The lack of concrete answers made Myka want to curse, and she sighed as she ran a tired hand through her hair. “Are we just destined to meet like this?” she asked. “At a distance?
Her question made Helena grin and she couldn’t help but laugh when the Englishwoman pointed a finger at her in the shape of a gun and pretended to pull the trigger.
“Right,” Myka conceded. “We’re destined to meet at gunpoint.”
Helena nodded and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ears.
Myka’s breath caught in her throat at the familiar gesture, and her gaze softened as she stared at her lover and whispered, “I love you.”
‘I love you’ Helena mouthed, and Myka felt the warm cadence of the silent words caress her soul.
There were so many things that needed to be said, so many words that needed to be spoken, but suddenly they seemed not to matter. They could be saved for a later time when a true, two-sided conversation could be had. “How long do we have?”
Helena held her hands out, palms up and questioning, and shrugged.
Myka sighed. “Is this like the orb? Am I responsible for bringing you back?”
Helena pursed her lips thoughtfully, furrowing her brow in the most adorable way, and gave Myka a tight nod. The gesture said that she wasn’t positive, but that she assumed that was the case, and Myka felt her heart skip a beat at the idea that she was able to bring Helena to her. And if she could do it once, she could quite possibly do it again.
And maybe there would be a way to make it permanent.
“I will find a way to bring you back.” She did work in a place full of miracles, after all.
Helena nodded and smiled, as if to say, I have no doubt, darling.
“I love you,” Myka murmured.
‘I love you,’ Helena mouthed, her lips quirking up at the corners as she formed the words.
Thunder clapped loudly, sounding like it was just behind the hill directly to the south of them, and Myka startled at the noise. Her head automatically whipped around to survey the potential danger, and when she turned back to where Helena was standing, she gave her lover a small, sad smile.
“I’m going to have to go soon.” She didn’t want to, but open land during an electrical storm wasn’t the safest place to be, and it wouldn’t do her or Helena any good if she became a walking lightning rod.
Helena nodded understandably and lifted her right hand to her lips to blow Myka a kiss.
Myka smiled and returned the gesture. “Can I come back tomorrow?”
“Will you be here?”
Helena let out a silent sigh and shrugged, everything about her posture saying that she hoped that would be the case. The specter of the Englishwoman closed her eyes as she leaned into Myka, using skills they’d both perfected when her consciousness had been trapped in the orb to stop so that there was only a hair’s width between them. Their lips ghosted across each other, a familiar electric tingle erupting between them, and when a bolt of lightning struck the earth not twenty yards to their left and the rain started to fall on them in fat, warm, heavy drops, Myka opened her eyes to find that she was alone.
Helena was gone.
But, this time, perhaps not forever.
Just the thought of potentially seeing Helena the next night was enough to buoy Myka’s spirits and she turned her face into the storm raging above and around her, letting the wet drops falling from the sky wash away what was left of her tears. She smiled into the downpour and took a deep, cleansing breath of the rain rich air before she turned on her heel and hurried back to her SUV that she’d left at the far edge of the ash-blackened earth that marked the location where the Warehouse once stood.
Her step was light, and she was unable to contain the bubble of laughter that rumbled in her throat as she ran. Lightning crashed into the earth behind her, kicking up a wet cloud of ash and dirt and dust, and it was like the heavens above were trying to pour energy into the site; trying to give it the power it needed to heal.
Warehouse 13 had disappeared in a flash of light, and maybe, just maybe, it might be reborn from one as well.
Stranger things had happened, after all.