Claudia was disobeying Mrs. Frederic’s orders, as she was wont to do. This time, however, she had abandoned the computer and was rooting through the actual file cabinets of Warehouse 13 – all God-knows-how-many of them. In her hand she held a clipboard full of cross-references and idiosyncrasies, but none of them added up to what Myka might be up to. Her only hints were the artifacts Myka had taken, and even they didn’t offer much insight. But day three of her search still found Claudia undeterred, though grumbling.
“You know Myka, I really love you, but I really hate you right now,” the hacker was muttering. “’Course, it’s partially my fault that you can cover your tracks like a pro, but hey, I suppose it’s a sign that I’m a good teacher. Granted, not at the moment, but still….” She made a few more notes on her clipboard before continuing her fine-toothed hunt.
Claudia pulled out the next file and skimmed the label quickly. It was halfway back in its place when Claudia did a wide-eyed double take and yanked it out completely. Scanning her clipboard, she darted back and forth across the tiny hallway between the file drawers, grabbing three other folders from various locations and spreading everything out over a couple of open drawers.
No…it couldn’t possibly be...no…no…could it? Nobody could possibly be that crazy…nobody except Myka.
Letting out a whoop of triumph, Claudia gathered up the folders and set them off to the side before looking at her notes and pulling all the others on her list. She spent the next hour referencing and cross-referencing, doing marathon runs through the storage room as she nicked every folder she thought she’d need. Once she was satisfied that she had everything with even so much as a hint of the information she needed, she loaded the folders in a box, put the box on a hand trolley, grabbed her stuff, and headed into the depths of the Warehouse, looking for a place to work.
* * *
It took another full day of work before Claudia had entered all the information into a computer program she’d created for the purpose and snuck all the folders back to their respective homes. Nobody questioned her pet project, as she knew they wouldn’t, but she still did all her work in the duplicate B&B, which still had a gigantic hole in the wall from where she, Pete, and Myka had escaped the year before. Once she was satisfied with her work and all the intricacies therein, she stepped out of the B&B (she wasn’t sure she wanted to try and send a message from inside an artifact, having no idea what the consequences might be and not having the time or inclination to theorize) and sent her text.
u fox u! did u rly think i wdn’t find out what ur up to? ur crazy, but if ne1 can pull it off it’s u. i’m with u all the way.
skype me at claudiocity13. it’ll be a safe connection, i promise. no trace. i went snooping thru the W files n found stuff u might want.
u go girl!
Once she’d hit “send,” she brought her computer out of the B&B, set up a secure Skype connection that even the Regents would be hard-pressed to break through, and sat back to wait, pulling up a game of Solitaire.
Not ten minutes later, Skype alerted her that she had a video call coming through, and grinning like a maniac, Claudia pressed the “enter” key with a flourish. Myka’s face was a welcome sight, despite her expression of incredulity, worry, and no small amount of anger.
“Claudia Marie Donovan are you nuts?!?” the agent hissed.
Claudia frowned. “How’d you know my middle name?”
“I heard Joshua yell it once, and you didn’t answer my question!”
“No, I’m helpful!” Claudia said perkily before starting to type. “Sending you a computer program loaded with relevance…now.” The techie heard a beep from Myka’s end, and she watched as the agent opened the program to take a look. The resulting wide-eyed jaw-drop filled Claudia with smug satisfaction, and her maniac grin returned. “See?”
“Claudia, how…how did you find all this?”
“Easy shmeasy, if not time-consuming,” Claudia replied with a wave of her hand. “Couldn’t find your tracks in the computer, so I went looking the old-fashioned way and found out some preeeeetty interesting stuff – oh, and having seen both sides of insanity, I can say with complete certainty that if anyone needs to be checked for crazy, it’s you.”
Myka sighed, her eyes full of longing. “Claud, I have to. I can’t just…I won’t….” She struggled to find the right words, but Claudia cut her off.
“I get it, Myka – well, sort of. I mean, I don’t trust her, but I trust you, and you trust her, and if you think this is gonna prove it to everyone, then I’m with ya.”
Something about Myka’s smile filled Claudia with pride, and the agent’s next words filled her all the more. “Thanks, Claudia. The little sis I never had.”
Claudia grinned; despite the fact that Myka was miles away on an all-but-hopeless mission, the hacker was happier than she’d been in a long time. “Hey, what are bratty little sisters for if not nagging the older ones?” she quipped, and both she and Myka giggled. “Keep in touch, would you?” she continued. “As long as things are relatively calm” (she took a moment to knock on the nearest piece of wood) “I’ll look over the files too, see if there’s anything I can puzzle out.”
“Are they safe?” Myka asked. “I don’t want Artie or Pete finding out.”
“Way ahead of ya. Artie’ll kill us both if he gets wind of this, so the info’s on my computer only, encoded with a randomized lock, triple-password-protected, and voice-recognition only – namely mine.” The smug satisfaction was back full force, as was Claudia’s triumphant smirk.
Myka couldn’t help but grin along with the hacker. “Thanks, Claudia – really.” She paused, biting her lip. “I miss you.”
“Miss you too,” Claudia replied, her eyes watering against her will. She immediately wiped at them with the back of her hand. “Hey! Stop making me get all mushy!”
“Sorry, Claud,” Myka replied genuinely, tenderly. “I…whether or not I come back depends a lot on how all this turns out, but no matter what, I won’t disappear again – I’ll come say goodbye properly.”
“You better,” Claudia replied, forcing a shaky smile, which Myka returned. The hacker wiped her eyes again. “Listen, I’d lie and say that I can keep the connection secure forever just so I could sit and talk to you, but I can’t – I don’t have a lantern,” she added with a smirk, making Myka chuckle. “I gotta go, Mykes – I can’t keep the connection open too long.”
“I get it, Claud. And…thanks. Thanks so much. For everything.”
“You bet.” The techie saluted. “Text me from your burner if you need anything.”
Myka laughed and shook her head. “I should’ve had you plan this for me,” she joked. “See you later, Claudia,” she said with one last smile.
“Bye, Myka,” Claudia replied quietly before the agent disconnected the call. Wasting no time, the hacker immediately destroyed the connection and all its traces before obliterating any records of the conversation and its contents. Slinking back into the B&B replica, she went back to poring over the files she had uncovered.
* * *
Helena woke with a groan and rolled over under the suddenly too-hot sheets. Squinting at the light-up numbers on the clock and seeing that it was a little past two in the morning, she groaned again and pulled her pillow over her head. There was absolutely no way she was going to get back to sleep now – not after the dream she’d just had, not now that the ache between her legs had her clenching her thighs in a vain attempt at relief. There was no way she could just ignore it – she was too far gone for that – but there was no way she could do anything without the Regents seeing her on one of the many cameras they’d set up in her room.
They had promised her that they would never spy on her in the bathroom – that they would allow her that privacy, at least. Granted, they had made very sure that there was nothing in the tiny space that could be used as means of escape or self-harm – including precautions to make sure she couldn’t drown herself – so there really wasn’t anything to worry about. Praising every deity she could think of for this small blessing, Helena decided that a few minutes past two in the morning would be the perfect time for a shower.
Not needing a light to find her way around the room (she’d lost count of how many times she’d traversed the small space), she made her way to the tiny bathroom and shut the door – no lock, of course. Quickly stripping out of her sweat-soaked nightclothes and undergarments, Helena turned on the cold water in the shower and stepped inside.
To her dismay, the icy blast did nothing to relieve her agony. In fact, if anything, the harsh droplets against her swollen clit made her hiss, already in a heightened state of arousal. Both loath to act on her desire and craving to do so at the same time, Helena sighed in defeat, turning the water to hot as she slid down the shower wall. Closing her eyes, she allowed the dream to come back to her.
She could almost still feel the soft brown curls against her palms from when she had imagined gently guiding Myka where she ached to have her. Now, in her mind’s eye, the agent grinned impishly up at her from between her legs before lowering her mouth to her folds. Helena bit her lip to stifle a groan, bringing her own hands to her nipples and tweaking the aching buds, feeling them harden between her fingertips as she massaged her breasts. She tried to pretend that the hot water of the shower was Myka’s tongue against her, taking teasing licks at her clit before flicking at the edges of her opening. When she could no longer bear her mind-conjured Myka’s light touches, Helena spread her legs and brought her hand down to scrape her nails against the small nub, and they became Myka’s teeth, nibbling gently. Helena couldn’t control her gasp at the sharp surge of pleasure through her clit, and bit her lip again to stifle any other sound as she put more pressure on the throbbing bundle of nerves, rubbing in slow circles.
She saw Myka behind her eyelids, but she was no longer indulging in Helena’s taste. Instead, she straddled her lap and, with a warm, gentle smile, sank two fingers deep into the dark-haired woman’s core. Though Helena knew that the fingers were her own, that there was no beautiful brunette hovering above her, she still bit her lip harder, so much so that it nearly bled as her imagination worked to fill the void reality could not. Myka gently nibbled at Helena’s jaw as she thrust and curled her fingers within her, and Helena bucked against her own hand as she built a steady rhythm, never once taking her other hand away from her clit.
Faster and faster she moved her hands, seeing Myka’s muscular arm driving her fingers hard and fast within her as she manipulated her clit with her thumb. Helena was there, right there, at the edge, but there was something missing – something that kept her from tumbling into release. And then she thought back to Myka’s voice – the beautiful voice secretly woven into the letter under her pillow.
Be safe, Helena.
Helena’s cry was muffled by her lip between her teeth as her release overtook her, her and mind-Myka riding out her climax together as her body shook with pleasure. Only when Helena lay spent against the shower wall, quivering with aftershocks, did both women still their hands, and Helena felt the sweet brush of Myka’s lips against her own. But when she opened her eyes, it was only her, as she knew it would be – alone under the slowly cooling water, still quivering from release brought by her own hands, and no one else’s. Certainly not Myka’s.
Helena’s stomach dropped and her heart turned to lead as she realized what she’d just done. True, she knew she was not the first woman to pleasure herself to thoughts of the person she…deeply cared for, but somehow the fact that she’d done so to thoughts of Myka, the woman she respected more than anything, the woman she was desperate to prove her worth to, utterly shamed her. She felt like a monster, using the image of such a woman simply for her pleasure. As much as she knew it was more than that, as much as she knew it was more than just physical release, her rational mind was overridden by her self-hatred.
Wrapping her arms around her legs, Helena buried her head in her knees and sobbed, emotions crashing over her in the wake of her release, but overlying every second of pleasure she had felt with a wave of guilt, heavy on her heart. She sobbed until the shower was cold and she’d exhausted every tear within her – for the time being.
It was with great weariness that Helena shut off the water and hauled herself out of the shower. She barely had the energy to throw on a clean nightgown, worn by her crying jag and still-overpowering shame. Her last thought before sleep, however, after she had collapsed back into bed, was of Myka’s smiling face, tucking a strand of hair behind Helena’s ear as the two bathed in afterglow.