RATING: Um, dunno. It’s pretty tame. Warning for (supervised) underage drinking? That’s the most scandalous thing going on here. It’s fluff!
SUMMARY: Myka/HG, always and forever. Myka’s POV. Set in S2, between “Where and When” and “Buried”, when all was still right in our fangirl world.
DISCLAIMER: As always, everything here belongs to other (much more wealthy) people. I'm just having fun. And killing time 'till the season premiere.
A/N: I set out to make a Very Special Holiday Fluff Story. Some little bits of angst still snuck in, if you squint. I can’t help it.
Title is from an Emily Dickinson poem. And I cheated by about 5 years on HG’s Victorian timeline, but since the show itself can’t decide on it, I ain’t bovvered.
One day over breakfast, Pete declared that they were going to have a big (“giganticus humongutis”) bonfire for the upcoming Fourth of July in the clearing at the bottom of the B&B’s property (or the “back 40” as he called it), just like he used to have as a kid with his parents.
Myka thought it was really weird that his Fireman father had made a family tradition of starting large, open fires, but happily agreed to the idea. Pete said the holiday (“Independence from Stuffy Brits Day” as he made sure to call it in front of HG) was one of his favorites, in no small part because of all the food involved.
But as they planned the holiday, Myka started to privately think of it as a celebration of the thaw towards Helena that had occurred just the last few weeks, ever since they’d helped retired agent Rebecca St. Clair (Artie had even stopped referring to HG as “The Villain”).
When the day arrived, there wasn’t any last minute pings to ruin their plans, and the weather was clear and relatively cool for South Dakota in the summer and they had an excellent view down the hill towards the outskirts of Univille. It was very nearly perfect.
Making good on his vow, Pete aggressively fed the fire and (in Kelly’s work related absence) harmlessly flirted with an amused Leena, pointing out emerging stars in the sky as if he’d conjured them for her. Claudia had created an impressive sound system out of a barnacled mass of makeshift wires and old sound systems, which was blasting out some lively world music, to which the young woman was actually trying to coax Artie to dance.
Artie scoffed at that (and nearly everything else), but only made token fussing comments at Claudia about the beer she was drinking (“The beer. A beer. Understood?”), a surprisingly lenient gesture that Myka suspected was due to Todd and Claudia’s recent separation.
A long table had been hauled from the B & B and was loaded down with Leena’s homemade spread, enough to feed them all four times over (or Pete once, without competition).
And then there was Helena sitting next to her on the grass. Reprieved, reinstated and finally in a working truce with the others. When it had seemed that Myka would forever be caught between her job, her friends and this desire to make things right, make them better for HG, she never imagined this scene ever, ever happening. But Helena G. Wells had taken her rightful place back within the only home left to her.
Of course, this development also made it much more difficult for Myka to contain the enormous, burgeoning crush she harbored for the author and inventor (and let’s face it, essentially, time traveler).
She would have felt more than a little foolish and terribly adolescent about that, if there hadn’t been those moments when she’d caught Helena gazing at her in wonderment, as if Myka were the embodiment of The New Woman, every social advancement the suffragette had ever strived and hoped for, in one person. In her. It made Myka a little giddy sometimes.
Myka and Helena were sitting on the grass in companionable silence, content to just watch the others and the setting sun, until the fireflies blinking in the grey light made Helena quirk her lips and tip her head at them. “I adore the lampyridae family. I’d once thought to recreate the chemical reaction that produces their bioluminescence. They produce light with very little heat. I thought how lovely it would be to replace those noxious gas lamps with lights that looked like large, captive glow worms.”
Myka smiled. Leave it to Helena to make science sound magical. “You never pursued that?”
“Well, Warehouse business prevailed. I had little time for anything else. Then electricity took the lead…in my absence.”
Myka was painfully, awkwardly aware of the other woman, and their hands resting inches away from each other on the flimsy blanket under them. She wanted to reach over and squeeze her fingers in sympathy.
“The world’s in need of a better option now,” Myka offered. “Not too late to revisit that idea.”
HG’s shoulder lifted. “Ah, but thanks to you, Warehouse business prevails once again.”
Myka was relieved the failing light hid her flushing face and then Claudia was there, bouncing in front of them and trying to grab their arms. “Enough with the fuddy-duddyness, already. The old man is bad enough. Get up. Time to dance.”
Myka swatted Claudia’s hand away. “We’re fine right here.”
“Oh, come ooo-on,” she whined. “I can’t party like this. It’s not a party. It’s a disgrace. I have a reputation.”
Myka had clumsily danced in front of Pete and Claudia and Leena before, and that was fine, but she was appalled at the idea of appearing foolishly self conscious in front of HG. Myka pulled a face. “We’re. Fine. Here.” And gave the redhead a hard, meaningful stare. Which she completely ignored.
HG glanced at Myka, before looking apologetically towards the young woman “I’m afraid this free form dancing rather eludes me.”
“Oh, you only do waltzes and what not, huh?” Claudia practically pouted.
“Not at all. But what was considered quite avant garde at the time still had a certain structure and choreography. I had a dear friend teach me. An American woman I encouraged to move to Europe. An amazing, innovative dancer,” she added wistfully.
The redhead’s eyes sparkled. “HG. Show and tell. Show and tell.”
Helena’s brow crunched at the saying, but she obviously understood a challenge when she heard one. Taking a deep breath, she looked over at the others, who’d stopped fighting over hot dogs to listen in on the conversation. “Leena, might I borrow your scarf for a moment?”
“Sure.” She unwrapped the light silk cloth from her neck and stepped forward to hand it to HG, who winked at Myka as she stood up.
“Thanks. Of course, ideally one would be in a Grecian shift and barefoot for this sort of thing.” She gestured helplessly at her tall boots and leggings. “We’ll have to use our imaginations.”
By now, Claudia’s music had moved into a track that successfully combined a European classical cello with samples from a Bollywood musical number, in one insistent, swirling, elegant beat. Myka watched as Helena approached the bonfire and the others instinctively stepped back to give her room.
Pete had really done an enthusiastic job with the fire; it’s flames were several feet taller than Helena, and it created a molten, orange backdrop for her. She paused dramatically in front of it as she grasped the ends of the scarf in each fist and extended her arms out away from her and high up in the air, as if offering it to the sky.
Then Helena quickly spun the bottom portion of her body away and around, keeping her arms up, but moving several feet over. She twisted again and again, making it seem like she was suspended by her arms, her dark hair flowing in delay behind her.
Then she did a series of small, nimble jumps and leg thrusts (that Myka couldn’t help but see as fencing moves), dropping her outstretched hands in front of her chest. The scarf then became an invisible dance partner that seemed to forcefully lead Helena around the fiery curtain.
At first it was apparent that Helena was playing to her audience and while her movements were graceful and athletic and impressive it wasn’t until Helena became absorbed in the marriage of her own movements with the strong pulse coming from the music, that it started to transform into something else.
Her torso arched backwards as she slowly lifted one leg, knee high and bent inwards, then alternated with the other, her body full of a tension expressed by the downward slash of her outstretched arms to each side, making the cloth strike her stomach. She repeated the motion, each movement of her arms becoming faster and harsher until Helena was conveying a sort of emotional desperation that made Myka’s chest ache.
The song’s paced quickened and Helena answered it; she spun in circles, now looking at the cloth in her grip as if it were a demon to outpace - it grasping her hands instead of the other way around and not letting go.
Helena’s legs were steady and strong beneath her, and she executed several skips and jumps, moving her stiff arms in a repeated half circle. Somehow anticipating the climax of the music, her right hand was suddenly free of the cloth and continuing the arch that created, her left hand whipped it around and allowed it to drift to the ground and she dropped quickly and smoothly into a kneel beside it, head down, her hair sheltering her face, ending almost perfectly on the last echoing note.
No one moved or spoke and Myka was holding her breath, until the next song began to blare and broke the spell. Then Claudia and Pete whooped and yelled and Leena and Artie clapped and smiled. Myka just stared, openmouthed.
Lifting her head, Helena blinked, then grinned sheepishly and got up and made a coy bow. She picked up the scarf and shook it off, handing it back to Leena.
“I trust it isn’t too much the worse for wear,” HG said, breathing heavily. “Of course Isadora would be very disappointed I didn’t allow it fall into the fire, for optimal dramatic effect.”
Leena chuckled as Claudia came forward to pat HG on the back. “Geez Louise, is there anything you’re not genius at?”
“So very many things, Claudia, but we won’t discuss it.”
Helena walked back to the blanket and dropped down beside Myka. She ran her hands through her tousled hair and lifted it in the back to air out, waving her hand to ineffectively fan herself. When she turned to face Myka, she seemed to deflate a little.
“Oh. Dear. I’ve embarrassed you, Darling.”
Myka clamped her slack jaw closed. “No. No, not at all. It’s...” Myka glanced over at the others. Pete and Leena were playfully pogoing now and Claudia had hold of Artie’s shoulders and was physically shoving them around in time with the song while he rolled his eyes. Had they not seen what she just had?
“I’m afraid I got a little carried away,” HG continued in clipped, regretful tones.
“Helena. It was wonderful. I’m in awe, really. It...was...” What? Heartbreaking? A little frightening, seeing what’s really under that glib façade? The turmoil and hurt you’re hiding? “It was...wonderful. You were wonderful.”
Helena gave a grateful, if unconvinced, smile. Myka started to reach out and tuck a damp piece of stray hair behind HG’s ear when the first loud boom of the fireworks sounded and stayed her hand.
As they all settled in to watch the lights explode against the horizon, Myka balled the blanket in both fists to keep herself from crushing Helena against her and crying the tears the woman wasn’t allowing herself.
Helena seemed willfully oblivious, though, and only murmered, “I somehow feel like someone rooting for the wrong team here.” And leaned in to nudge Myka’s shoulder to punctuate her comment.
For such a small town, Univille was apparently very serious about its patriotic efforts; It was a pretty grand display. Myka had been away on assignment her first July 4th at the Warehouse and hadn’t realize what she’d missed.
She found herself sneaking peeks at Helena whenever the brighter bursts lit her face. She seemed entranced, with the smallest grin lifting her lips. Myka wondered if she was able to just see it as a pretty show, or if she was also calculating gunpowder load per lifting charge. Probably both were just as enjoyable to her, Myka thought with a smirk.
When the fireworks were finished and the smoke had drifted and the bonfire had finally died down, Leena loaded each of them up with some of the empty dishes and plates and blankets and led them back up the garden path towards the house.
Helena and Myka were the last in line and while everyone else was trading sleepy quips, Myka stayed quiet. She was having a careening conversation all her own in her head.
She kept thinking about Jack and Rebecca. And how Rebecca had wanted to end her life reliving her first kiss with Jack in that orchard. Myka wondered if she even had such a memory of her own, something she would be desperate to relive if she knew the end was near.
Sam had been lovely. More than lovely. But they’d eased into that relationship quietly and comfortably, as if they’d always been. Despite him being (technically) a married man, and them working together, it hadn’t seemed particularly risky to be involved with him, to love him. She’d had reservations, but she hadn’t been scared. His death had the largest impact on her, and that was certainly something she never wanted to relive again.
Artie had said on more than one occasion, that Pete and Myka made such a good team because Myka looks while Pete leaps. But Myka had the sudden, undeniable urge to be the one to leap.
So when the silhouettes of Pete, Claudia, Leena and Artie ahead of them turned a corner and went out of sight, Myka took her free hand and grabbed Helena’s slim wrist and pulled her to a stop.
Myka wondered if the other woman could see the reassuring smile she gave her. She set the burden in her hands down, and then reached over and did the same with the bundle in Helena’s.
What little light was now reaching them from the B&B weakly illuminated Helena’s face and Myka swore she saw a look of apprehension and fear in her eyes. But then she saw HG’s eyes draw down to stare at Myka’s mouth. And Myka could feel the woman’s pulse quicken against her thumb.
Myka leaned forward and felt only warmth and yielding softness.
Myka wished she could tell Claudia that yes, Helena was good at everything. There was genius in her lips.
Soon they were pressed up against an arbor of some sort and Myka’s fingers had worked their way through the thick weight of Helena’s dark hair to cup the back of her head as they kissed. Myka had had only a few beers that night, but she felt drunk on Helena.
When they parted their lips, they stayed close, resting their foreheads against the others. Myka was almost startled when HG started speaking.
“I had only my own thoughts for company for over one hundred years,” HG whispered “Only my imagination of what might await me if I were awakened...My ceaseless thoughts of what I’d do.” She leaned up and grasped the side of Myka’s head with both hands. “All that time...but I hadn’t counted on you, Myka Bering.” She could hear her swallow. “What should I do with you?”
Myka couldn’t ignore the sadness in Helena’s voice. But she knew there was so much of Helena’s sadness that she would never fully understand and could never take away. She just wanted to give her some happiness. Now.
Feeling her life pivot wildly on its axis, Myka gently pulled the hands from her face and threaded her fingers through HG’s.
“Let’s go back to the clearing. You’ll figure it out.”