Title: Even Fog Lifts, But Not This (No, Not This)
Fandom: Warehouse 13
Pairing(s): Myka Bering/Helena G. Wells
Summary: The consequences of saving the world are a lot more dire than originally anticipated.
Spoiler(s): S02E12 – S03E02
Note(s): Title taken from ‘No Way Back’ by 8mm.
She doesn’t count the days.
There are book pages turned and customers served and interesting conversations with people who come in looking for a tome and leave with a soft rejection for coffee sometime.
Myka glances up at the clock to check that the hours move along the way they used to, but she doesn’t count the days.
No, because that would mean that it meant something.
They left all of Helena’s – HG’s – belongings at the warehouse. Her room, sparse but lived-in, is like a snapshot in time.
Right before she left, Myka stole a moment to stand in there, gazing around at the desk half-covered with papers and a bed meticulously made. She wonders if she were to dig, would she find some sort of indication of Helena’s plans? Could she have seen it coming, had she taken the time to really look?
Myka opens the wardrobe and stares at all of Helena’s clothing still hanging there: loose-fitting shirts and trim vests. She fingers one idly before closing the wardrobe again, turning her head from the soft scent that puffs out.
She will not remember this fragrance. She won’t.
She takes one of Helena’s shirts. She tries not to think too much about it.
Inventory, now that Pete isn’t around, is an efficient and silent affair. Myka goes about with an old-fashioned clipboard and a pair of oversized glasses that she wouldn’t normally wear outside of the bedroom and quietly ticks off each book on her list.
Some days, she takes hours because she stumbles upon a classic she hasn’t seen in a while. She gets lost in a back corner, lips curved upward as she gets reacquainted with an old friend.
Some days, it takes minutes because a customer interrupts her just as she rounds the corner to reach her second book.
Some days, she doesn’t do it at all. There are certain sections that she used to love that now bring stirrings of a heartache she can’t bear to feel. On those days, Myka sits in the W aisle of her bookstore and stares up at all the things she used to marvel at as a little girl, wondering where Myka Bering went.
The shirt she took: it was one Helena wore – a billowing, white thing – the time she came for a late night chat. It had ended with a soft touch to Myka’s hand and a whispered good night, dearest.
Myka can still hear the honeyed voice of Helena in her head and she grits her teeth against it.
It meant nothing. It means nothing.
She refuses to touch the shirt.
A few weeks in: a svelte woman with lustrous black hair and high boots comes into the store. Myka’s just turning from putting back a previous customer’s rejected purchase when she sees her and her heart stops, a painful jolt in her chest.
“Hello. I’m looking for one of H.G. Wells’ books?”
Myka swallows. “Um. Of course.”
The woman smiles, teeth blinding white and eyes dark and sparkling.
“I was wondering if you’ve any first editions?”
Myka can barely put one foot in front of the other as she heads toward the right section, the woman following just slightly behind.
“This place is a bit of a mystery; you never know what you can find if you look,” Myka says, surprised she can get the words out from around the lump in her throat.
“That sounds perfect,” the woman purrs, and Myka stops, turning with a carefully hidden look on her face.
“Do you mind if I leave you here to explore? I think I hear another customer.”
There may have been someone up front. There may not have been. It makes no difference to Myka as she watches the woman, her eyes already focused on the books and not on Myka and her trembling hands. “Oh, not at all! You’ve been a great help already.”
“I’ll see you at the counter when you’ve found what you’re looking for,” Myka stammers, and then she leaves.
The woman ends up purchasing The Sleeper Awakes, eyes crinkling in delight as she thanks Myka for her time, coyly suggesting that she’ll be back soon. Myka stares at her receding back and then snaps her eyes to the elderly man approaching the counter.
“Hello, sir. Welcome to Bering and Sons.”
It hadn’t been Helena who had entered her store that day, but from the way Myka’s breathing can’t seem to steady and how disconnected she feels for days after, it might as well have been.
Claudia gets to her first with a phone message left late at night:
Hey Myks, it’s me. Just calling to let you know that I’m alive. That, uh, we’re alive. It would be great if you would, you know, let us know that you’re alive too? Because, you know, aliveness, it’s an important thing. To know of. And stuff.
Myka stares at the phone and sees Claudia’s nervous wince, her red hair frizzy from too many run-throughs with her fingers.
God, I’m totally bombing this. Um. Myka, we really miss you and Pete is going on this one-man rage calm thing that’s one third Con Dar, one third lost St. Bernard and 100% pathetic. You gotta at least talk to him – or one of us – before he goes crazy. I caught him try to Tesla a certain someone’s empty Bronzing unit the other day. I think he’s crying at night! I know it’s rough and all, saving the world, but we still love you, superhero-ness and all. You’re still our little, tall Myka.
There’s a pause that Myka waits through, one with a hopeful note that Claudia seems intent on trying to draw out but is falling a few brushstrokes short.
Anyway, just… call me back, okay?
Myka closes the till.
Love ya, Myks. Bye.
It’s silent in the bookstore. Myka watches as a couple slowly ambles by on the sidewalk, laughing into each other’s ears. She reaches for the phone.
Message deleted. No more new messages.
She expects, after a few weeks, for things to get better. Instead, she wakes up in a cold sweat more often than not, morning sunlight chasing away the images of a world torn asunder by the third strike of a glorified pitchfork.
Some part of her revels in seeing Helena again – the madness in her eyes, the sorrow on her face. The other part hates herself for it.
She feels like she’s losing, piece by piece, to Helena G. Wells.
You wouldn’t do well to be drawing lines between you and I, Myka hears as she stares at her reflection in the mirror, a fractured psyche has never done one any good.
“You would know,” Myka growls back, tugging a brush through her curls. She watches herself as she brushes her teeth, washes her face, and decides that she looks entirely too young and innocent for how she feels under her skin.
Don’t you dare think that, Myka Bering. You are nothing but perfection, Helena whispers in her ear.
All Myka feels is chills running down her spine.
“How dark do you want it?”
“Dark,” Myka says, voice steady with resolution, “And straighten everything out.”
“You’ve got a very specific look you’re going for here.”
“I know what I want,” Myka says, but from the way her hairdresser looks at her, she can tell that neither of them are convinced by that statement.
“Do you dream of me often?”
The scene is familiar. With desert sand under her boots, Myka turns from the warehouse, one foot still in the entry way. “Helena.”
“I would have stopped you, you know. Had I been given the chance.”
“I wouldn’t have listened to you,” Myka says simply. The warehouse feels cold behind her, the desert sun fading fast and leaving Helena to cast an eerie glow. Myka moves towards the black SUV behind Helena, watching as the other woman turns to watch her.
“You listen to me now,” Helena observes just as Myka reaches the SUV. Myka stops, one hand resting on the door handle.
“Do I have a choice?”
“You always have a choice,” Helena says.
Taking a step around her, Helena slips Myka’s hand from the door handle and wrenches the car door open herself, gesturing for Myka to get in.
“I would have stopped you, you know.”
Myka stares. Helena gently pushes her forward. “I thought you said you would have stopped me.”
Helena smiles while Myka gets into the SUV, limbs uncoordinated and feeling too long for the cramped space. Her eyes sparkle as she says, “Had I been given the chance, remember? And as I recall, dearest, this is nothing but a dream.”
Helena closes the door with a solid slam. Myka turns to look at her, and the warehouse is fading fast, as though Myka is already driving. She distinctly remembers this view in her rearview mirror when this had happened the first time. In reality.
“Remember to strap yourself in, Myka. Safety first,” Helena says, as though this is a completely logical and normal thing to say. Myka finds herself reaching for the seatbelt out of reflex.
“Please,” Helena cuts in, smile sad as she lays a hand onto the car window, palm warming the somehow cold glass, “next time we speak, please do try and listen to me, Myka?”
Myka can only blink. “I don’t understand – ”
“Do you dream of me often?” Helena asks again.
Myka wakes up.
The answer to that question is: yes, Myka does dream of her often. Like many other things, Myka tries not to think too much about it.
The first few times, Myka gasps for breath when she first opens her eyes.
The dark strands against her pillow don’t look like her own. She almost thinks of something – someone – else but stops herself as the sun warms her face and she remembers.
There is one part of her, she’s knows, that is still Myka Bering – Secret Service agent, righteous, confident in herself and her skills.
There is another part of her that is just Myka – quiet and confused, wearing glasses and plaid shirts and taking comfort in the smell of old books.
Then there is the part that betrayed her.
If there’s anything in the world that Myka is still sure of – after everything, there is just so very little – it’s that trust is such a tenuous thing, and to lose trust in yourself? There is nothing worse.
When she stares at herself in the mirror, Myka sees fleeting glimpses of what-ifs and possibilities and things that could have been had she been more careful. Everything is a study in second-guessing now and it feels like the ground is constantly shifting beneath her.
She needs to find solidity. She needs to steady herself.
Tugging at her hair and sweeping it over a shoulder, she opens her closet and pulls it out. The fragrance is still there, as though shrouded from all the essence of herself. It takes her a moment, a frail stretch of hesitation, but she shrugs it on eventually.
Looking in the mirror, Myka stares. In her head, she hears:
Dearest, who are you?
Of all the people to actually approach her, it sort of makes sense that it would be Leena.
Myka looks up from fiddling with a tube of coins to gape in surprise when she sees who it is. “Leena?”
“Hi, Myka,” Leena smiles. Somehow, Myka feels that after all this time, she should have been more prepared for something like this. It figures that in the end she most definitely is not. “How have you been?”
“Fine,” Myka chokes. Leena’s hair is a full set of rambunctious curls and it serves as a startling reminder. Myka forces herself to focus on the warm plate of cookies in Leena’s hands instead. “You brought cookies?”
“Pete’s not eating them,” Leena pronounces. Myka just stares at her.
“He’s also not making inappropriate jokes or annoying Artie or doing much of anything except for the job.” Leena shakes her head and slides the plate of cookies onto Myka’s counter. “It’s sad, really. I brought them here to see if you wanted them?”
“I don’t eat sugar,” Myka says reflexively. From the look on Leena’s face, she hesitantly tacks on, “Anymore.”
“You mean, again,” Leena corrects. She’s staring at Myka with that pucker of concentration that makes Myka thinks it’s not her she’s looking at but maybe her aura, and Myka finds herself stiffening at the thought of Leena seeing all the things about her that she can’t hide.
“Anyway,” Myka stutters, tugging the plate of cookies towards her, “Since Pete isn’t eating these and your cookies are too good to waste, I’ll take them. Keep them as a treat for the customers or something.”
Leena nods. Her face is calm and – Myka frowns – blank. “Sounds like a good plan.”
“Yeah,” Myka draws out, “So. Thank you, Leena.”
“Anytime,” Leena says. They stand still, looking at each other.
“Don’t you have to go – ”
“Myka, it’s okay to – ”
It’s awkward. Myka finds herself frowning because if anything, things with Leena have never been awkward.
“I’m sorry,” Myka says, lowering her head, “You first.”
“Myka,” Leena sighs, watching Myka run her fingers along the cashier, scanning the empty bookstore idly with strained eyes, “Are you happy, being here?”
Myka turns her gaze back to Leena, “Why? Do I look like I’m not?”
She means her aura. Leena sees things about people that sometimes even they don’t know about themselves and Myka, in her state of drifting confusion, doesn’t know a lot of things about herself anymore. In particular, the woman who stares back at her in the mirror now looks like two women, and Myka isn’t sure which one of them is her.
“You look like you need to spend some time with your friends again,” is what Leena settles for, and Myka frowns because that’s less of an answer and more of a question: Who are my friends, now?
“I’m not coming back,” Myka announces. Leena nods.
“That’s fine. I know you love being here with your books.”
“Just,” Leena says, and Myka feels like she’s looking through her again, “Be happy, okay? Be yourself.”
Myka swallows. Her voice cracks as she whispers, “What if I don’t know who that is, anymore?”
“Everyone tries to fill in the holes they think they’re missing,” Leena says gently. “You feel like you’re lost right now but remember: nothing has changed, Myka. You are still you.”
“Everything has changed, Leena.”
Leena smiles, “You dye your hair and change your shirt and you think they have, but if you stop thinking so much about it, you’ll realize they haven’t. Just trust me on this one, okay?”
Myka takes a breath. Steadies herself. “Okay.”
“Good. I’m glad you’re so easy to convince. Pete, on the other hand, somehow thinks he needs to be you.”
Myka finds herself smiling widely, “If you think that’s going to convince me to come back to the warehouse…”
“I’m not trying to do anything,” Leena laughs, tucking her hands into the pockets of her coat, “I’m just here to give you cookies and some friendly advice. I think I’ve accomplished what I came here to do.”
“I think you have,” Myka says softly. Her eyes are wet as she murmurs, “Thank you, Leena.”
“Anytime,” Leena says, and Myka watches her go back out onto the bustling street.
She takes off Helena’s shirt during her lunch break and puts it back into her closet, a soft goodbye lingering on her lips.
No matter what Leena says, everything has changed. Myka can still feel the ghost of a gun pressed against her forehead, can still hear the echoing sound of Helena’s scream.
Still, she lives in a world where Helena had tried to start an ice age and had stopped simply because she’d known Myka would be able to convince her.
Trust, Myka thinks, can perhaps be as simple as that.
In the morning, Myka looks into the mirror. Myka Bering stares back.
“Ophelia, pray tell. How doth my lady?”
In the face of Pete’s jaunty words and jovial grin, Myka both wants to strangle him for stepping foot in her store and pull him into a hug that would probably still suffocate him. What she settles for is:
“You’re wasting your time, Pete.”
Myka Bering – the new Myka Bering – is a woman who spends her days in a family-run bookstore and helps people rediscover the magic of the written word. She doesn’t have any adventures save for those penned on yellowing pages. She doesn’t seek danger except for when she has to reach for a book on one of the top shelves and the only ladder she has left is a little rickety.
Pete, with his soft boyish grin and his Tesla tucked into his hip holster, is asking for something that requires the old Myka Bering, and the new Myka Bering is fighting hard to keep herself steady.
“Please,” Myka grits as Pete says exactly the things that he really shouldn’t be saying and exactly the things that he needs to, “Just. Please.”
In the comforting environment of her bookstore, the jarring image of what she’s desperately trying to separate as her old life is mixing with the new. Myka feels as if all the things she’s worked so hard on to define herself again are coming loose, and if Pete keeps talking for one more second, she’s afraid of what she might hear.
Something like: Agent Bering, it seems we’re forever destined to meet at gunpoint.
Instead, Steve Jinks with his bright blue eyes and solemn gaze says:
“We need your help.”
No matter how divided she is on this, people are probably getting hurt and there is no version of Myka Bering that will sit back and let that happen. The fact that this whole thing hangs on knowledge that the new Myka Bering is more than comfortable with? All the better.
“Fine,” Myka says, eyes hard and steady, “What do you need?”
“Oh, really? You’ll help him?”
Myka’s gaze never shifts, “Pete.”
In the end, the entire whirlwind of solving the case fits just like a fondly worn glove. Myka saves Steve Jinks’ life with a tickle of a memory of the old her and Pete. She saves the lives of all those other people with the memory of the new her indulging in Shakespeare on an idle afternoon.
When she gets back to the bookstore, Myka slips out of that fondly worn glove, leaning back and feeling herself breathe free.
Of course, it doesn’t end there.
It takes all of Myka to not just scream like a little girl. From the hint of amusement in Mrs. Frederic’s expression, the older woman seems to know it. Myka finds that she doesn’t really care until Mrs. Frederic says:
“There’s someone I want you to speak with.”
And then Helena G. Wells says, “Hello, Myka.”
Myka had always found it corny and ineffectual when novels wrote things like the world shifted, or that all the air had been knocked out of someone’s lungs. Somehow, in this very moment, Myka finds that every single one of those literary idiosyncrasies are happening to her all at once and part of her logical mind is hating that it is.
The rest of her is fighting against something that Myka is desperately trying not to acknowledge.
Despite knowing that she hasn’t seen Helena since she’d been incarcerated – since she’d tried to end the world – it feels like just another conversation, a daily occurrence. Myka knows she’s trembling because this voice has never left her and seeing it coming from somewhere that is not herself is inexplicably terrifying.
“Be careful, Myka. Hate so easily turns into fear. Don’t walk away from your truth.”
Myka chokes. “That’s why you’re here?”
“I haven’t actually come here,” Helena says with a watery smile, and for a moment, Myka can’t breathe at the possibility that she has once again become that tangled mess of Myka-and-Helena. Yet, this Helena does things that the Helena of her head doesn’t. Things like stuffing her hands in her pockets and looking hesitant. Things like being subdued. Myka extends a careful hand and –
– brushes right through Helena.
“So what, you’re some sort of holographic projection?”
“I’m – ” Helena pauses, “being held. I don’t know where. Or how. They can, it seems, transport my consciousness.” She gives a sad smile, “Wish I’d thought of that.”
If it could, Myka’s heart would break at the way Helena looks at her just then. As it is, Myka just feels some part of her chest throb in something akin to yearning. Helena’s eyes are dark and deep under her eyelashes.
“Please think about what I’ve said.”
And then she’s gone. Myka gasps as she realizes Mrs. Frederic has re-entered the room.
“Agent Bering,” the woman nods, her face a mask of solemnity.
“What – How – ”
“Thank you, again, for all of your help on this last mission.”
Myka wants to asks, needs to ask, but she’s shaking too much. Clenching her numb fingers into a fist, Myka stares down at herself in an attempt to find some stillness and then –
Mrs. Frederic is gone when she looks up again. Myka sinks into a chair, throwing an arm over tearing eyes.
She dreams of Helena.
“Do you dream of me often?”
Myka swallows. The question is sticky in her throat – with hope – but she has to ask it: “Were you transported here?”
“I’m sorry, dearest,” Helena says, looking thrown at the question, “you’re not making the least bit of sense.”
Myka nods. “Of course.” She’s standing with Helena in the back of the bookstore. Quietly, she adds, “I always dream of you.”
Helena’s eyes crinkle.
“I hope that changes soon.”
She goes back. She re-enters the warehouse with a hesitant, self-depreciating smile and Helena’s whisper in her head: Don’t walk away from your truth.
She can do this. She can.
We’re alike in many ways.
Myka brushes back darkened hair and tugs at the hem of her billowing white shirt.
The world is a scary place.