Myka Bering and her partner, Pete Lattimer, had finally managed to track their latest artefact to the Treasure Island Flea Market in San Francisco. The current owner of said artefact – which had been a pen that had once belonged to Ernest Hemingway and had caused nothing but trouble before they’d managed to neutralise it – had had a booth set up in the historic market and had been peddling what he’d claimed were original copies of Hemingway’s works…forgeries, of course. Together they’d retrieved the item, neutralized it, and put the fear of God into the kid who’d been using it for his own gain.
It had left them a little time to check out the market, to enjoy the sun and the coloured tents and the wares that were on sale. Somewhere, a band was playing, and it was jazzy enough to urge Myka to dance. She didn’t, but Pete had been more than willing to shake his tush without much of a sense of rhythm.
Not that Myka would ever look at Pete’s tush. She did tease him about the shaking of it, though.
Of course, all of that enjoyment went out the proverbial window when Myka got a glimpse of a very familiar face at one of the booths.
Pete had seen, too, and Myka had to play catch-up as he promptly pulled his Tesla and, keeping it at his side, rushed toward the woman who was currently looking at brightly coloured scarves and chatting politely with the proprietor.
They’d been told of Helena’s escape from the top-security Regent prison. Mrs. Frederic had even played the recording of the conversation that had taken place just before both Helena and her rescuer had vanished into thin air. It had seemed surreal, impossible…that Helena’s old partner back from her Warehouse 12 days had been an immortal time traveller, and that he’d come to save her from an imprisonment he hadn’t thought she’d deserved. Myka had actually – silently – cheered him on, agreeing with him that, no matter what Helena did, it would never be enough to satisfy the Regents and earn her a reprieve.
That had been two years ago.
Myka had never once thought that she’d see Helena Wells again.
And yet, the condemned former Warehouse agent was there, standing at a booth in a large flea market, apparently haggling over what looked like a silk scarf, laughing at something the merchant said.
Helena didn’t seem to notice their approach. Myka wanted to yell at her to run, but the words caught in her throat. Her feelings for the other woman hadn’t changed in the two years since she’d last seen Helena, and it was all Myka could do to walk up to her.
She noticed things about Helena though. She’d changed in those two years, her hair shorter and cut into a fashionable bob, and she was wearing a light blue sundress with a large brown bag over one bare shoulder and white, low-heeled sandals on her feet, a bright silver toe ring glittering in the sun. In fact, it was a very un-Helena-like ensemble, and Myka had to admit it looked wonderful on her.
Pete went right up to her, pressing the unholstered Tesla into Helena’s side. She turned wide eyes on him, glancing down at the weapon aimed at her.
And then she said something that completely threw Myka for a loop.
“Please don’t kill me,” Helena gasped, nearly whimpering. “I’ll give you anything…I have money…please, just don’t kill me. I have children!”
It was said in a mid-western American drawl, quite unlike her usual, refined, British accent.
“Oh please,” Pete rolled his eyes. “Just cut with the dramatics. You’ve been caught, so come along quietly and I won’t have to use this.”
“Caught?” Helena exclaimed almost breathlessly, as if she was on the verge of hyperventilating. “I don’t…please, my husband is a police officer. I’m sure this is a misunderstanding – “
“We know who you are,” Pete went on remorselessly, grabbing Helena’s arm and pulling her roughly away from the booth, the proprietor shouting at them angrily as they left. “We know you don’t have kids, and we know you’re not married. So stop already and face it…you’re going back to that prison the Regents tossed you in. And this time they’re gonna throw away the key.”
Myka didn’t like this; not one bit. If Helena was acting she was doing a fantastic job of it, and suddenly she wasn’t sure they even had the right person. Especially when she caught sight of the diamond and gold band on the obviously panicking woman’s left ring finger. “Pete,” she cautioned her partner, “I think we have the wrong person.”
“You do!” Helena pleaded. There were actual tears in her dark eyes. “Please, just let me go, and I won’t tell anyone what happened! I just want to go home!”
“Please,” Pete scoffed. “You’re really buying into this?”
Myka didn’t get a chance to reply before a man’s voice shouted, “Stop right there!”
The look of relief on Helena’s face lasted barely a few seconds before it was replaced by fear. “James, don’t antagonize them! He’s got a gun!”
Myka turned to look at the man. He was handsome, seemed to be just on this side of forty, wearing a white polo shirt and cargo shorts. His short brown hair was gelled into spikes, and he wore aviators, which meant Myka couldn’t make out the colour of his eyes. He had one hand outstretched, palm toward them, and Myka couldn’t make out if he was ordering them to stop…or pleading for it.
“It’ll be okay, Diane,” the man – James – answered. “The booth owner called the police, so they’re on the way.” He also had that mid-western twang. “Now, I don’t know what you want, but just put the gun down and we can talk about it, okay?” He pitched his voice down, as if he was trying to be reasonable, despite the fact that two strangers were holding the woman claiming to be his wife as some sort of hostage.
It made sense, if he really was some sort of cop and had been trained in hostage negotiation.
Myka noticed that they were drawing quite a bit of attention, a crowd gathering around them. Quite a few of them looked as if they were willing to take them both on. “Pete, let’s just go,” she hissed toward her partner, knowing now that they were making a horrible mistake.
Pete ignored her. “Who the hell are you?” he demanded, keeping his grip on Helena – although, Myka wasn’t so sure this was Helena Wells anymore.
The man licked his lips. “I’m James Harper. You have my wife there. Please, let’s just discuss this before it gets any more out of hand. We don’t want anyone hurt.” His voice was still completely reasonable, but Myka could hear a thin thread of fear under the words.
“Can we see some ID?” Myka asked, knowing she had to diffuse the situation, and the best way to do that was to prove that their prisoner, Diane Harper, wasn’t a time traveling criminal.
Harper looked surprised at the request, but began to slowly reach around toward his back pocket. “I’m getting it now. Just don’t do anything we’ll all regret…”
Myka could hear sirens in the distance. She and Pete really had no chance of getting out of the market without making a really large mess, and Artie just hated cleaning up after them. She had to convince her partner that they might have made a mistake, and perhaps it wouldn’t be quite so bad. They still had their current ID’s on them, saying they were Federal agents, and that just might mitigate things a little bit if needed.
Harper pulled a wallet from his pocket, and tossed it accurately at Myka, who caught it easily. She flipped it open revealing a Chicago driver’s license that claimed the man standing in front of them was one James Harper. There was also a card identifying him as detective with the Chicago PD.
“Pete, we’ve made a mistake,” she told her partner, showing him the license and the ID card.
“Please,” their prisoner whimpered. “I just want to go home.” She looked as if she was about to faint.
“Anyone could make a fake ID,” Pete pointed out, even though he was sounding less sure of himself. Myka wondered what his intuition was telling him.
“There are pictures,” Harper said. “Look at the pictures.”
Myka went rifling through the leather wallet, and sure enough…there were several pictures inside. One was a wedding photo, Harper resplendent in a policeman’s uniform and Diane in a long white dress, both looking blissfully happy. Another one was a family portrait, of Harper and Diane with two children that were obviously theirs.
“Let her go, Pete,” Myka ordered, putting the photos back in the wallet and tossing it back to its owner.
“But Myka – “
“That’s not Helena,” Myka added. “We have the wrong person.”
“Please,” Harper pleaded, “please let her go. I don’t know who you’re looking for, but perhaps we can help you find them…”
Pete narrowed his eyes, but with the sirens now so close the sound echoed across the grounds, Myka knew he had no choice but to release Diane.
As soon as his hand was off her elbow, Diane was running toward her husband, who caught her in his arms and hugged her tightly. He was murmuring something in her ear, but Myka was too far away to hear it.
“We need to get out of here,” she said, pulling on her partner’s sleeve to get him moving. They couldn’t risk being arrested, even though they had their Federal ID’s; they had their Teslas on them, as well as the neutralised artefact, and they couldn’t let those get into civilian hands. Artie was going to have a fit as it was.
Pete let her drag him away, through the now-seemingly deserted flea market, and she turned once more to look at James and Diane Harper.
She saw just when the uniformed police officers found them, and James was pointing in their direction, Diane clinging to him as if he was going to disappear…
They managed to make it to their car without being tackled by any overzealous cops or shoppers, peeling out of the parking lot and out into the busy street just ahead of two black and whites entering the dirt lot, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
“I know it was her!”
Myka sighed as Pete yelled into his Farnsworth, reporting back to Artie what had happened at the flea market. She flopped back onto the hotel bed, tired of arguing with her partner over what had happened.
“That’s not possible,” Claudia’s voice came over the communications device. “According to what I’ve been able to dig up, James and Diane Harper, nee Holmes, are real…and yes, Diane looks scarily like H.G. But she and James have been married for six years, and they have two children: a four-year-old girl named Alice and a one-year-old boy named Owen. James is a homicide detective on the Chicago police force and Diane is a nurse at one of the big local hospitals. They’re on vacation in San Francisco, visiting friends.”
“And I’m telling you,” Pete reiterated, “that it was H.G. Wells, and she was doing a hell of an acting job. My instincts aren’t wrong on this, Artie.”
“It doesn’t sound like it on this end,” Artie answered. “There are records on both James and Diane Harper going back to birth. I’m sorry, but as genius as Helena is, I doubt she’d be able to hack every computer on the planet and insert fake backgrounds for herself and a make-believe husband.”
“And the man with her didn’t look a thing like Ianto Jones,” Myka called out, not bothering to sit up. She was getting a headache.
“It’s been two years,” Artie went on remorselessly. “If what we know is the truth, then she and Jones could be anywhere in time and space. I sincerely doubt H.G. would come back here and risk capture.”
‘Give it up, Pete,” Myka urged. “We were wrong. It happens.”
“Listen to your partner,” Artie said. “I want you both back here before the local cops find out what hotel you’re staying in. The last thing I want to have to do is break you both out of jail.”
Pete looked like he wanted to throw the Farnsworth against the wall; instead, he slumped down on the second bed. “Damnit,” he snarled. Pete always trusted his instincts, but in this case they’d proved more fallible than her partner wanted to admit.
“Let’s go home,” Myka encouraged, getting up and going for her travel bag.
She was glad it hadn’t been Helena, and sent up a silent wish for, wherever her former friend was, that she was safe and happy.
“That was a close call.”
Ianto looked up from the TARDIS console as both Jack and Helena walked through the double doors. “What was?” he inquired, setting the time machine into flight.
“We ran into two Warehouse 13 agents,” Jack answered, his hands in the pockets of the shorts he was wearing. Honestly, they suited him, despite what Jack had thought when Ianto had handed them to him that morning. He certainly had the legs for them. “Good thing you and the TARDIS are both so anal about preparing backgrounds for us, otherwise I don’t think we would have convinced them we were simply James and Diane Harper.”
Helena looked pensive, and Ianto put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Was it Myka?”
She’d told them both about Myka Bering, and how she’d felt about the Warehouse agent. Ianto had sympathized with her completely, and he’d done his best to comfort his friend – really, more of a sister than Rhiannon had ever been – knowing that there was no way they could ever meet again and not risk Myka or her partner taking Helena back into custody.
“It was,” she answered, sighing. “Seeing her again…I almost broke character several times, I’ll admit.”
“But you didn’t,” Jack said, adding his own hand to Ianto’s. “You did good. In fact, you were amazing.”
“We’re done on Earth for a while,” Ianto added. “And we won’t need to go back again…”
“Unless the Doctor has another one of his hare-brained schemes,” Jack interrupted, grinning. After all, it had been the Time Lord who’d sent them on this particular mission.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “It’s a good thing I don’t mind this new regeneration, or else I would have insisted we tell him to get the damned device himself.” This eleventh persona wasn’t bad at all, if a little flighty. He certainly much preferred it to his tenth self. And he’d apologised to Jack quite nicely over treating him as if his immortality was Jack’s doing and not Rose Tyler’s.
Helena reached into her bag and brought out the alien tech in question: it was a silver cylinder, and according to the Doctor it could rewrite biology. They’d had to go undercover to get it, but all of their hard work had been worth it. Its previous owner hadn’t been aware of what it could do, and it could have done a great deal of damage it the idiot had managed to activate it.
“How about we go somewhere with a beach?” Jack suggested, heading over to the console. “I think we can all use a break.”
“I like that idea,” Helena agreed.
“A beach it is,” Ianto said. He put his arm around his friend, offering her what comfort he could, as Jack played around with the coordinate control. He knew it would be a while before she got over seeing Myka Bering again, but he and Jack were there to help her. They were her family now.
The TARDIS console pinged, signalling a landing. Jack rejoined them. “At least Helena and I are dressed for a beach,” he teased, his eyes raking down Ianto’s jeans, button-down shirt, and form-fitting waistcoat.
“The way you’re looking at me,” Ianto said, “I get the feeling I won’t be wearing this much longer.”
“It’s a good thing I set the coordinates for a clothing optional beach then.”
Helena laughed at Jack’s leer. “You two are adorable.”
Ianto was glad to hear the laughter; it meant that, eventually, Helena would be alright. “Men are not adorable.” He grimaced.
“Yes, they are.” She bussed them each on the cheek, then headed toward the doors. They opened at her approach, bright sunlight streaming in from the outside.
However, Helena stopped just before setting foot outside. “Well, it’s a beach…but I have an issue with the wrecked aeroplane and submersible.”
Ianto and Jack joined her.
Ianto sighed, taking in the tableau before them. Indeed, there was a plane crashed on the beach…as well as a submarine, one that looked as if it had been heaved up onto the shore. There were several people arguing, but they were too far away for the immortal Welshman to make out what they were shouting at each other.
Off the coast, there was at least one battleship. Its immense guns were aimed right at the beach.
“Looks like we’re in the middle of some sort of war,” Helena sighed. “Are you sure you set the coordinates properly?”
“Of course I did,” Jack protested. “But you know how the TARDIS is.”
“I don’t think some of those people are strictly human,” Ianto observed. One appeared to be red, with a tail of all things, while two were blue; one had fur and the other he thought might have been scales.
They could literally be anywhere…or any time. Usually the TARDIS cooperated, but Jack was correct…she certainly had a mind of her own.
“But you have to admit,” Jack replied, “all that blue and yellow leather is kinda hot…although that one guy’s helmet has to go…it’s really tacky, and helmet-hair is completely unattractive on anyone…”
“And I think we’ve just been noticed,” Ianto pointed out. One of the men had turned toward them, and was staring as if he was seeing ghosts. Of course, this didn’t overly surprise Ianto, because there was no telling what shape their TARDIS had taken when they’d landed, and three people looking out of doors that shouldn’t be there would have been bizarre.
“Shall we go, then?” Helena prompted cheekily. She stepped out onto the beach, leaving Ianto and Jack no choice but to follow.
Which was how quite a few of their adventures began, really.