The Warehouse had been returned to them. Amid chaos and confusion, and through the rubble and ruins that their lives had become, it had returned to them as though it had never left. Had never been blown to pieces by a madman, who had already taken the life of one friend, and his bomb while they'd been stuck inside a bubble and forced to watch. Watch as their place of work, their home away from home, and all of the things that they and countless others before them had risked their lives to procure went up in flames around them.
Forced to watch as one woman sacrificed herself in order to save them.
“She died for you, you know.” Myka turned on him, green eyes burning even through her tears. She raised her hand to her forehead, holding it there for a second before she threw it out angrily towards him.
“I don't need to hear this now, Pete!”
“You do!” And there had been so few times when he'd actually yelled at her. Frowning, he shook his head and crossed the H.G. Wells aisle, where he'd found her, to close the distance between them. “Someone needs to say it! We've sure as hell all been thinking it!” She looked so defensive, so lost, standing before him with her arms folded protectively across her chest. Maybe that was why he'd finally lowered his voice, finally altered his tone. “You've been walking around like a zombie, Mykes. Only it's like you're a zombie that's trying desperately to forget she isn't part of the living anymore.” His frown deepened. “And it's a really bad analogy, but you're not you. Even though you're trying hard to be. And it's like you don't want to admit what she did for you, why she did it, and it's tearing you up inside- I can see it happening!” His tone grew frantic once more, arms swaying violently with his gestures and he finally brought his hands to his chest and rested them there, gazing at her imploringly even as she ran her fingers through her hair and turned away from him.“And I can't stop it! And I feel like if you'd just talk to me-”
“I can't talk about this, Pete!” She exploded, spinning back to face him with all the force and thunder of a tornado. “Why can't you understand that?” She threw her arm out towards him again as if she hoped the motion would fling some semblance of sense into him.
“Because you won't explain it to me!” And like an unruly volcano, Myka exploded again.
“I was in love with her!” And the lava swept over Pete, smothering him, forcing him to be silent even as it burned his skin and he ached to scream. Myka blinked, tears escaping to trickle along her cheek as she tried to take a breath and swallowed hard in an attempt to hold back the sobs threatening to take her. She stared at him, pain and anguish swimming in her eyes.“Do you have any idea what it's like to realise you love someone seconds before they're obliterated right in front of you?”
All had been lost. And then by some twist of fate, it had all come back to them. No one had been able to offer explanations, the pocket-watch had not been touched, and not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, they'd simply accepted their good fortune. The return of their Warehouse.
And with it the return of fallen agents, past and present.
They'd returned like angels, glowing with renewed life, and those who had missed them so desperately cried tears of joy and happiness, and embraced them.
“It's okay, Claude.” Pete shifted awkwardly. “I'm here.” He turned away from where Steven Jinks stood cradling a sobbing redhead, feeling as though to watch would be intruding on a privet moment. Only there were reunions happening all around him it seemed and as he turned his gaze fell upon his best friend, who had eyes for no-one but the raven-haired inventor standing just inside the doorway of the room. Artie had brought them, probably from the Warehouse, and had entered first, with Jinks following closely behind. But H.G.'s pace had been slower and Pete did not for one second consider that it might have been for dramatic effect. An allowance for time needed to prepare more likely, for both herself and Myka. He caught sight of the many myriad emotions flickering over Myka's face, hope and disbelief to name but two, and watched as she took a breath. And then she was moving. He'd never seen them share any kind of embrace before, a touch here and there, but never something like this.
“Don't you ever do anything like that to me again.” He'd never seen Myka hold anyone so fiercely, had never heard such desperation pass her lips. Had never seen Helena close her eyes and just fall into someone's arms, relief flooding her features.
And for a while, the Warehouse family was happy and whole once more. There was laughter and love, and the usual life and death adventures that befell Secret Service agents, and it was all so blissfully abnormal that they could almost forget that anything bad had ever happened.
But nothing can last forever.
And when Artie called them into a meeting and they found themselves faced with Adwin Kosan, Jane Lattimer, Mrs Frederic and other nameless Regents, somehow they all knew. And as Claudia unconsciously gravitated towards Steve, Myka felt her heart twist painfully inside her chest, as if someone had reached in and was desperately trying to yank it free. Helena's hand on the small of her back was warm, but every inch of her felt cold. And Artie, fatherly features pulled tight in anxiety and worry, said nothing and could barely look at them.
“I'm afraid we have a problem.” It was Mister Kosan who spoke, his thickly accented tone even and foreboding.
And Myka just knew.
They sat side by side upon the sofa in the sitting room, pocket watch hanging between them like the sword of Damocles, and Myka's hand shook as she held it, Helena's fingers inches from her own. The air about them was heavy with the weight of their sorrow, filled with the scent of tears and regret.
“It's time, Myka.” Helena's words were low, quiet, and Myka's eyes always turned the most brilliant shade of green when she cried. The taller woman parted her lips to take a breath but failed in the attempt, choking on either the air or the sob that fought for its release and won.
“I can't do this.” Her voice was cracked and broken, like the rest of her, and she stared at the woman before her with desperation etched across her features; she simply wanted to remain whole, why was that too much to ask? Dark eyes regarded her with a kind of endless sadness that should never taint the brilliant glimmer that could usually be found within them, the spark of madness and beauty, a once new-found passion for life. Helena's hands moved then, reaching for Myka's and the watch, and the taller woman flinched like she'd been burned, staring into dark brown orbs with wide eyes. She felt a gentle touch, the pad of Helena's finger stroking over her knuckles, and everything crumbled. “Not yet,” she sobbed, gasping for air that would not allow itself to be taken in, “please not yet.” Lifting her hands once more, Helena placed one on either side of Myka's tear-streaked face and wiped away the tracks with her thumbs.
“We must not dawdle, darling. Like a band-aid, as Agent Lattimer might say; quick and painless.” And the way in which she said it, with that kind of faux-beatific smile that only appeared when Helena was struggling to maintain a grip on her usual level-headed calmness. When she was trying desperately to remain strong, to be brave. Reaching up, Myka placed her hand over Helena's, wrapping her fingers around it to draw it to her lips. She placed a kiss against her palm and heard Helena take a slightly unsteady breath. Just one, very quietly, but Myka heard it. And she felt the sound tear at her soul.
“I can't lose you again.” She whispered, her words almost a keening wail as the inventor took Myka's hand in both of her own and gave her a genuine, albeit tremulous, smile.
“You will never lose me.” And there was such conviction in her voice, such a look of love upon Helena's face, that it almost smoothed Myka for a moment. “I shall remain in the one place where I have truly felt that I belong.” And, touching her fingertips to the spot just above Myka's left breast, the taller agent finally found the strength needed to inhale and she did so deeply, pulling the other woman towards her. She embraced her with an almost bone-crushing force, but Helena made no attempt to break free. She welcomed it, as anyone would welcome their last.
“This isn't fair.” Myka whispered into jet-black hair, inhaling its scent, further committing it to memory. Helena closed her eyes, her own tears finally escaping.
“Life so rarely is, my love.” She held Myka close, fingers threaded through soft curls, and tried to force herself to remain in control. A hard thing to do when your world was spiralling rapidly toward nothingness.
“How many times do I have to say goodbye to you?” Helena smiled, one of pure sadness, and pulled back far enough to cup Myka's cheek and stare into red-rimmed eyes. They had been so very happy, for a short time.
“Just once more.” Another agonised sob was wrenched from the woman before her and Helena hoped that someday Myka would be able to remember that without hurting.
“But I just found you.” Myka could feel the anger boiling beneath her sorrow, but there was no heart to it. Not yet. She would rage against the Regents and the world and herself all in good time, but not now. Now, she had to somehow say goodbye.
“Perhaps one day you shall stumble across a way to find me again.” Helena smiled at her own words; Myka had always been the one thing which she had never doubted. “Close your eyes, my love.” The woman sitting in front of her, who had captured her heart and soul with such little effort, looked exactly as you'd expect one who's world was collapsing might look.
“Helena, please, no-” So desperate and pleading, because this couldn't be how it ended. After all they'd been through, there had to be more than this. But Helena knew that there was not and, leaning forward, she pressed her lips to Myka's, breathing her words against them.
“Shh, close them. Everything will be all right.” She let her hands cover Myka's, and the pocket-watch, and allowed a soft sigh to escape. She hadn't wanted to lie.
“Please, Helena-” Myka was cut off by another kiss and this time she did as she was told, closing her eyes and allowing it to silence her. She fell into it, desperately hoping to lose herself in its warmth. But all things have to come to an end.
“I love you.” Helena said quietly as they broke apart, and Myka's forehead creased under the weight of her frown as she gripped Helena's hand tighter. Then she pressed their foreheads together and exhaled shakily.
“I love you, Helena.”
And then, after a few heartbeats that echoed heavily in their chests, Helena gave Myka's hand a final squeeze. There was a sharp intake of breath, accompanying the sound of a watch stem being clicked, and all too soon Myka was left gripping nothing but the object of her soul-mate's destruction and empty air.
There was silence. Empty and cold. Blinking open her eyes, Myka took it all in.
And had never wanted to expel anything so badly in her entire life.
Her sobs returned, and as they slipped brokenly into an anguished and endless wail, Pete stumbled in from nowhere, face ashen, and collapsed beside her on the couch to sweep her into his arms. Her body shook with her sobs and she made no effort to calm them.
In the hallway, wrapped in a fatherly embrace, Claudia rested her head against Artie's shoulder. Tears trickled over her cheeks in a flow that could not be halted and Artie didn't bother to wipe his own away. His expression was that of a parent who had just witnessed a child's heartbreak and could find no way to take the pain into himself. There was no artifact to fix this.
Pete whispered things he wouldn't remember as her rocked her gently, cheek pressed against the top of her head.
But there was nothing anyone could say.
H.G. Wells was gone.