As the shield around them finally disintegrated, the first thing that Myka noticed was the smell. The smell of smoke, a nice campfire multiplied a trillion times, hit her like a ton of bricks, with the acrid taste singeing the back of her throat.
It didn’t seem real. To go so quickly from resignation – so this is how it ends – to confusion – why is Helena still out there? – to horror – dear God, what has she done? – to despair – no, it’s too soon to say goodbye! – to denial – this can’t be happening – to... to what? What was she now?
Myka looked without seeing, refusing to believe that the destruction before her was real. She vaguely noticed Pete speaking behind her, and she turned a slow circle as a few words managed to sink in.
“We lost, Artie. We lost.”
Those two small words... Myka knew they were important, but it was like her brain was moving at a quarter of its usual speed.
“Artie?” Thankfully, Pete articulated her own confusion, since she couldn’t seem to find her voice.
Her gaze continued to sweep unevenly around the destruction surrounding them as Artie explained, “MacPherson’s watch. It has the ability to turn back time, to restore the Warehouse to a previous state.”
Myka’s eyes whipped back around to stare fixedly at him, her mouth opening in wordless question. Did that mean-
Artie’s sad but understanding smile began to pierce the half-formed hope, and his words finished the job.
“It doesn’t work on people, Myka,” he said. “Only the Warehouse and the artifacts inside.”
It hurt just as much the second time. Regaining her friend (friend; such an inadequate word) in a flash of hope, only to find that she was just as lost as before.
Myka knew, on some level, that she should be relieved. Helena’s noble sacrifice meant that she had not only saved their lives, but that she’d also saved the Warehouse. Helena had saved everyone but herself.
Myka should be relieved, but she wasn’t.
In a strangely detached way, she noticed that her eyes had filled with tears. As the first drop fell, Pete took one big step forward and wrapped her up tightly in his arms. Words of sympathy would mean nothing right now, but a bear hug from Pete was exactly what she needed. In the safety of his embrace, she finally let go, leaning her full weight into her partner’s strong arms and releasing a broken sob.
Pete was worried about the girls – sorry, the women – in his life.
First there was Claudia. Bringing back the Warehouse hadn’t brought back Mrs. F, so poor Claud had some new and mighty big shoes to fill. The reverberations from the bomb had knocked over and broken the back-to-life metronome thing, so Claudia couldn’t even go through with her plan to bring Jinks back. Pete didn’t see her all that much anymore, but when he did, she just seemed tired and angry and stressed out.
That led right into worrying about his mom, who was back to being in super-secret mode with the whole Regent thing. He knew enough to know she was arguing with Claudia about the direction the Warehouse should take, though.
And then there was Myka.
Myka spent her days wandering aimlessly around the Warehouse aisles, supposedly doing inventory. She wasn’t actually doing inventory, though, and everyone knew it. She just wandered. Since they’d become partners, Pete had gotten a whole lot better at reading Myka, but as for what was going through her mind right now... Pete had absolutely no idea. She wouldn’t talk to him about it, either.
He’d tried cheering her up with the wonders of the Pete-cave, but it turned out that none of it was all that enticing to gir- women. Same thing with his offer to buy her anything and everything from his favorite buffet in Univille.
Finally, he’d decided to bring out the big guns and go all out.
Operation: Make Myka Happy quickly turned into a multi-step affair. Step one: Enlist Leena to engage Myka in conversation long enough for him to snoop around upstairs. Step two: Sneak into Myka’s room and jot down the titles of all the books he could find. Step three: Go to the local bookstore and get the cute clerk to answer the question, “If someone has all of these books, what else could she possibly want to read?” Finally, weed out any suggestions that might in any way remind Myka of a certain late 19th century writer and inventor. Oh, and add in a book of Sudoku and a book of crossword puzzles (numbers and crosswords weren’t too H.G. Wells-y, right?). And some Twizzlers.
For all of about a minute, it seemed like Operation: Make Myka Happy was going to be a total success. Pete couldn’t help but grin as Myka looked through his gift and the first true smile he’d seen in quite a while spread across her face.
But then Myka reached the second to last book, and all of a sudden, her face fell.
She looked up at him, clearly trying to maintain a happy façade, but not quite succeeding.
“Pete... Thank you. Really,” she began haltingly. “You didn’t have to do this, but it was really so thoughtful of you.” She continued to ramble a bit, but her eyes began to get all watery and she made a hasty retreat, not-so-subtly leaving one book behind.
He didn’t understand what had gone wrong until he talked to Claudia later that night.
Seriously, how was he supposed to know that H.G. had been a Sherlock Holmes fan?
It was bittersweet, being back in the Warehouse.
On one hand, it was reassuring, meandering slowly through the stacks. The Warehouse was home to her now, and being able to reach out and physically feel that it was still there was comforting. Not all of the artifacts were back yet – the more complicated the artifact, the longer it took, apparently – but piece by piece, it was all coming back together.
On the other hand, it all felt completely wrong. There had been a nuclear bomb, and H.G., Steve, and Mrs. Frederic had all given their lives for the Warehouse. Myka couldn’t help but feel like there should be some kind of physical, tangible evidence of that.
All Myka had to do was close her eyes, and she could remember the utter devastation that had been left in the bomb’s wake. The searing heat; the flames, still lapping at the remnants of anything left; the fiery cracks in the ground; the ash, falling slowly from the sky. All she had to do was close her eyes, and she was greeted with Helena’s last, heartbreaking smile. But with a simple turn of a pocket watch, the Warehouse was back in just a day.
It felt wrong. You shouldn’t just be able to erase that kind of destruction.
It had all happened, but now it just felt like a dream. And if it was just a dream, then why did it still hurt so much?
Myka still caught whiffs of bitter smoke at random times, but other than that... As far as Artie and the Regents were concerned, everything was good as new.
But everything wasn’t.
Myka wasn’t sure what it was that made her feel ready to go back and read H.G.’s file. Because of course, paper was important enough for MacPherson’s watch to bring back, but people...
Myka took a deep breath. No, she wasn’t bitter. Really.
In any case, she suddenly felt ready – more than that, she felt an urge – to surround herself with memories of H.G. So she grabbed the Wells file and sat on her own in a secluded but comfortable corner of the Warehouse. If anyone really needed her, she had her Farnsworth.
It was on page three that she was hit with her first surprise. Apparently, during her brief reinstatement as a Warehouse agent, H.G. had seen fit to read the file herself and write her own comments into the margins. Needless to say, H.G. had a slightly different view of herself than the Regents, and her annotations made Myka want to laugh and cry at the same time.
An even bigger surprise came when an old photograph slipped from between a few pages and floated down to the ground.
Myka continued to read as she reached idly to pick it up... but she dropped it again in shock as soon as she got a good look at it.
The photograph had definitely not been there before; having previously perused the file, Myka would know.
Not to mention the fact that the photo was impossible.
Warily, she retrieved it once again, trying to see what the trick was. It was a real photograph, at least. No obvious illusions or enchantments or anything like that. It couldn’t be real, though. Could it? How?
Myka stared intently into the image, her heart beating rapidly. Within the photo, there was a pre-bronzed H.G. – wearing an old-fashioned waistcoat, and with her hair done up in an elegant, but older, style. But instead of looking out at the camera, H.G. gazed towards the figure beside her.
The agent closed her eyes, but when she opened them again, the photograph still looked the same. There, standing next to the writer and looking vaguely amused... was Myka.
Claudia was eating breakfast and reading the back of a cereal box when Myka entered the B&B’s kitchen.
She stopped in her tracks as soon as she caught sight of the redhead, a bright smile crossing her face. “Claudia!” she exclaimed happily, before she moved forward and pulled Claudia into a tight hug.
“Hey, Myka,” Claudia murmured into the older agent’s shoulder.
Myka looked exhausted, the bags under her eyes matching the ones that Claudia saw when she looked in the mirror each morning.
Training to be the new Mrs. Frederic was certainly no easy task, and she barely got to see her friends anymore. Instead, she went from meeting to meeting, learning what felt like a million new things every day. At the same time, there were physically grueling exercises meant to slowly build her link to the Warehouse. She was sure her head was going to explode any day now.
Mrs. F and Doctor Calder had been right, though. Even though she’d refused to think much about becoming the new Caretaker after that particular bomb of new information had been dropped on her, she actually did feel like it was the right thing for her.
If Steve’s death had taught her anything, it was that some things about how Warehouse 13 was run needed to change. Being Caretaker put her in a position to actually make a real difference. The Regents didn’t exactly have to do whatever she said, but they did have to at least listen to her now.
She missed her old life, though. There was Jinks and H.G., obviously, but on top of that, she missed the rest of the team, too. She saw Artie more than the others, but this was the first time she’d seen Myka in weeks.
The two women sat at the table to catch up, and soon both had forgotten how tired they were as they joked and laughed together.
The tone of the conversation turned more serious, though, as Claudia asked, “So how are you holding up?”
Myka sighed and offered a one armed shrug. “You know,” she replied vaguely. “I miss her. I miss both of them.”
A heavy silence fell between them, and Claudia was starting to regret having said anything, when Myka continued, “I feel like it should have gotten easier by now. Not that I’d be over it, obviously, but I mean... I barely even knew her, really.”
Claudia gently laid her hand over Myka’s. “You did know her. And of course it’s not getting easier; you two were totally in love, it’s not like-”
Myka inhaled sharply and withdrew her hand, turning to look harshly at Claudia. “What?” she asked in confusion. “No we weren’t. What are you talking about?”
Claudia’s eyes widened in alarm and she quickly stuffed a large spoonful of soggy cereal into her mouth to buy herself some time. She cursed her own tiredness, knowing that she wouldn’t have blurted that out in any other circumstance. She usually managed to remember that of the many thoughts that passed through her head, not all of them should be said out loud.
After swallowing audibly, Claudia finally responded, “Of course, it’s always possible that you hadn’t exactly reached the same conclusion I had?”
“Of course I hadn’t,” Myka said immediately, as a blush rose up her cheeks. “We were just friends. I mean, I knew she’d been with women before, we had talked about it, and-”
Claudia practically choked on the food in her mouth. The cereal didn’t actually taste all that good anymore, but she’d continued eating it just to have something to do.
“What?” Myka asked defensively.
Claudia raised one pointed eyebrow. “You talked with H.G. about being with a woman?” she asked, not caring that her mouth was still full.
“No!” Myka exclaimed, clearly flustered. “That’s not what I said! Well, it is what I said, but that’s not what I meant.” She rose to her feet and began to pace agitatedly. “I meant that we talked about ourselves, about our pasts. That’s all.”
“Okay, you’re right. Just friends. Clearly, I need more sleep. Just forget I said anything,” Claudia placated.
Myka stopped pacing, instead crossing her arms tightly in front of her chest and turning to stare at Claudia. Her eyebrows knit together in agitation, with confusion and embarrassment each clearly visible on her face. “But why would you even think that? Is it something about how I act? Did you ever think that about me and Pete?”
Claudia made a face of disgust. “Ew, no. You two are like siblings.”
“Yes, exactly!” Myka agreed, gesticulating with one hand. “And so... So you’re right about that, but... But you’re just wrong. We weren’t in love, that’s crazy!”
Equally flustered, Claudia tried desperately to ramble her way out of the mess she’d made. “Well, you know how crazy shippers can be. You’re cool, H.G. was cool, and so my mind just ran away with itself and thought you’d be cool together. Or something like that. I don’t know. Can we stop talking about this now?”
Myka just stared at her. “What’s a shipper?”
Claudia couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Never mind, it’s not important.”
With a deep breath, Claudia decided that since she’d already started making ripples by sticking her toe in these messy waters, she might as well jump all the way in.
“Okay, look.” She paused, trying to think how best to put this. “Think of how you felt about H.G. Not how you feel now, don’t think about the grief. Think about when you were friends, and you were back to being sure that she wasn’t actually evil. Okay?”
Myka nodded stiffly.
“Okay. So that feeling... Is it similar to how you feel about Pete, your best friend?” Claudia hesitated, unsure if she was doing the right thing or not. She smiled sympathetically before finishing softly, “Or is it closer to how you felt about Sam, when he was alive?”
Myka didn’t say anything. She just stood there, blinking rapidly.
Claudia opened her mouth to say something – though she wasn’t exactly sure what, yet – when suddenly Myka came back to life.
She took in a deep breath, before abruptly turning away. “I have to go. I just... I have to go.” Myka managed to shoot a genuine smile towards Claudia as she added, “It was really good to see you, Claud.”
With that, she turned and fled.
Myka didn’t know what to do once she’d left Leena’s. She didn’t have anything with her other than her car keys. And that photograph, which she’d taken to carrying around with her in her jacket’s inside pocket. In light of her latest conversation with Claudia, she thought about taking it out and getting rid of it. She didn’t, though.
Instead, she got in her car and just started driving with no destination in mind. Of course, there weren’t all that many places to go, so after taking a long scenic route, she ended up at the Warehouse.
It was still early, so she was able to make her way through the office and into the main part of the building without running into anyone. She didn’t really know where she was going, but she felt like she had to keep moving.
Myka didn’t notice anything around her, but one thing did draw her attention. The Anti-Gravity Generator.
She almost laughed. Of course, her subconscious had led her directly to the H.G. Wells aisle. Myka had been purposely avoiding this part of the Warehouse recently. She hadn’t been back there since before the explosion.
She really didn’t want to think about what Claudia had said, but almost against her own will, she found herself sinking down to sit on the floor and drawing the photograph out from her pocket.
It was crazy. Right? Claudia had clearly let her imagination run away with her. And yet...
Myka gazed again into the photo in her hands. She didn’t actually have any pictures of H.G. So even though this one wasn’t – couldn’t be – real, it was still all she had. And not only a picture of Helena, but one of the two of them, together.
As luck would have it, the one person Myka wanted to talk to at that moment was the very person she’d never talk to again.
“If only I could see you again,” she whispered. “I don’t know what to think right now, but... All I know is that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to you.”
Myka hadn’t cried since that first day, as Pete held her and the Warehouse burned around them, but now she didn’t bother holding back the silent tears that carved wet paths down her cheeks. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, a single tear clinging precariously to her chin before falling and splattering onto the surface of the photo.
Suddenly, Myka’s entire body began to tingle. She looked down at herself in confusion. Then, it felt like an invisible hand reached inside her chest, grabbed hold, and abruptly yanked her forward. Myka cried out in a mixture of surprise, fear, and slight pain. Her eyes closed involuntarily as a strong wind rushed past her face. When she opened them again...
It was all Myka could do to keep from shrieking out loud. She looked around, completely baffled. She was no longer sitting in the Warehouse, but instead was standing on the edge of a busy street. As a horse rode by.
Before she could even begin to get her bearings, the tingling started again. She looked around wildly, trying to grasp some idea of where in the world she was, before that invisible hand came back and yanked her forward once more.
Myka opened her eyes, and she was back exactly where she’d been before, standing in the middle of the H.G. Wells aisle.
One hand still holding the photograph, Myka patted herself down with the other, making sure she was really there.
“What the hell?” she murmured into the empty space around her. “Guess I really need to sleep more. Now I’m having bizarre, extremely vivid daydreams in the middle of the day. Not to mention, talking to myself.”
With a wry shake of her head, Myka put the photograph away and started back towards Artie’s office.
Pete could barely pay attention as Artie rambled on through the Farnsworth about the latest artifact and the strategies for its retrieval. He’d mostly tuned out when Artie started talking about the contingency plan for his contingency plan.
“Artie, chillax, man,” he finally interrupted. “This isn’t exactly our first rodeo. We got this. Right, Myka?”
Pete turned to look over his shoulder, where his partner had been just a minute before...
Pete frowned in confusion. Myka was nowhere to be seen, but Pete had no idea where else she could be.
“Pete? Is something wrong?” Artie’s anxious voice called out.
“All’s swell, not to worry, old man. We’ll check in later!” Pete smiled brightly before shutting the Farnsworth closed and looking around worriedly. He hadn’t wanted to freak Artie out more than was necessary, but it wasn’t like Myka to just disappear.
“Myka?” he tried calling out again, a little louder this time.
He exhaled in relief as Myka stuck her head out of a doorway just in front of him.
“Hey, sorry,” she said. “I saw something in here, but I thought it would be best to let Artie get all of his worrying out. I’m tired of him looking at me like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown or something. Now come here, I think I found a lead.”
It was their first bag-and-tag since the Warehouse had come back, and their first mission since Steve, Mrs. F, and H.G. hadn’t. Pete understood Artie’s mothering – Pete couldn’t help being a little worried about Myka too – but even he was starting to get tired of it.
Myka led the way into what turned out to be a laundromat.
“These places always have bulletin boards with all kinds of advertisements,” she explained as she walked to the far corner of the room. “I thought we might get lucky, and sure enough...”
Myka pointed to a bright green ad: ‘Got nightmares? Come receive a free consultation session with Dr. Michael Bloch, M.D. Dr. Bloch specializes in anxiety and sleep disorders. Start your path back to a free and clear night’s sleep!’
Pete grinned. “You know, if I was Sigmund Freud’s couch, that’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to hang out.”
Dr. Bloch turned out to be a pretty nice guy, just starting his own practice. He was happy enough to show them around, and it didn’t take much prying for him to not-so-modestly brag that he was actually distantly related to the Sigmund Freud.
Freud’s most famous couch was housed in a museum, but Freud had used this other one during his early work with hypnosis. It had been in Michael’s family for years, but when he got his degree, he’d convinced his relatives that such an heirloom was meant to be used, not simply looked at.
“So... but have you been noticing that your patients seem to be getting worse, instead of better?” Pete asked.
The doctor bristled, and Pete realized that he probably could have worded that a bit more tactfully.
“The healing process is a long one, Agent Lattimer, and-”
“What my partner means to say,” Myka interrupted smoothly before Michael could get too offended, “is have you been noticing anything strange lately? Maybe, for example, your patients started reporting hallucinations, when they hadn’t before?”
Myka had clearly charmed the guy, so naturally, Pete couldn’t resist moving to stand behind him and trying to get Myka to laugh by silently making fun of him.
She managed to mostly ignore Pete, however, and get the verification they needed that Bloch’s patients were indeed the ones who would most likely fall into a coma sometime soon.
Pete grinned when he and Myka got back out to the street. She hadn’t let him stop to get something to eat from the soft pretzel cart outside Bloch’s building before they went in, but now they had plenty of time. And honestly, he wouldn’t be Pete Lattimer if he went to Philadelphia without having both a cheesesteak and a giant pretzel.
He thought about trying to convince Myka that she should get one too, but he knew there was no point. Instead, he bought a second one for himself.
“So,” Pete began as he took his first big bite. “How long do we have before all his patients’ brains go kablooie?”
Myka shrugged. “Artie guessed about a day and a half. But we should really finish this as soon as it gets dark. Their nightmares will be worse tonight and it’s always possible that they’ll hit the overload point earlier than anticipated.”
That night, breaking back into the building was easy enough, though the same couldn’t be said for quietly maneuvering the replica couch up three flights of stairs and the real one back down again.
They were just preparing to move the neutralized couch into their van, when Myka suddenly stopped in her tracks.
“Pete?” she called out warily.
“What’s up, Mykes? Break a nail, and need big, strong Pete to save the day?” he joked.
“Pete, I think it’s happening again.” The tone in her voice – something between curiosity and panic – made him turn around and really focus on his partner.
It was a good thing he did, because if it hadn’t happened right in front of his eyes, there was no way he would have believed it.
One second he saw Myka, staring down at her own hands.
And then the next second... Myka was simply gone.