grumpybear1031: (W13 - MYKA/HG SMILE)
[personal profile] grumpybear1031
+ Title: Belief & Betrayal
+ Authors: [livejournal.com profile] grumpybear1031   and [livejournal.com profile] shaych_03  
+ Fandom: Warehouse 13
+ Pairing: H.G./Myka
+ Notes: Ladies lovin’ ladies ahead… and angst, and action, and well, just read it – we promise you a happy ending. Takes place where 2X12 Reset leaves off, possible spoilers for both seasons. Some liberties taken with certain events, as we don't have actual dates for H.G.'s bronzing etc...  We are finally finished and doing a second round of edits...whooo hooo.
+ Rating: We'll play it safe and say R throughout NC-17 Chapters will be clearly marked.
+ Disclaimer: Warehouse 13 and it's characters belongs to Syfy. We're just borrowing them for a while and promise to give them back.
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] taterc   for help with a quick beta.

Author's Note: Shay, I hope you can forgive me for dragging you into this mess. My obsession with H.G. Wells blinded me, and a need to correct the total mess that was “Reset” kind of made me crazy. I'm not much of a writer so your help in getting this from inside my head to down on paper is very much appreciated. I'd also like to say a big thanks to[livejournal.com profile] darandkerry   for being an amazing beta. Your suggestions and punctuation help are invaluable.


Author's Note: Jen, you may have dragged me into watching Warehouse 13 kicking and screaming, but I've had more fun working on this story with you than I have in a long time. Your ideas are great; you have a natural ability to kick start my muse and keep her chugging along happily. Should I even bother to mention how good you are at calling me on BS characterizations or reinterpreting the sometimes cornball melodrama that my muse creates? Anyway, I'm glad you got me into this. I would also like to add my thanks to[livejournal.com profile] darandkerry  , for her spot on beta skills. I hope we didn't kill you with all the missing commas.

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS
CHAPTER 1  CHAPTER 2  CHAPTER 3 & 4  CHAPTER 5  CHAPTER 6  CHAPTER 7  CHAPTER 8  CHAPTER 9  CHAPTER 10  CHAPTER 11  CHAPTER 12  CHAPTER 13  CHAPTER 14  CHAPTER 15 CHAPTER 16  CHAPTER 17  CHAPTER 18  CHAPTER 19  CHAPTER 20 CHAPTER 21  CHAPTER 22  CHAPTER 23  CHAPTER 24  CHAPTER 25




CHAPTER 26

Morning found the warehouse crew scrounging for breakfast. Pete was sitting at the table, staring at a banana with a mournful expression on his face while Leena and Claudia traded jibes over bowls of granola. Into this scene came sleepy-eyed, tousled-haired Myka. She was dressed in a pair of plaid sleep pants and a thin tank top and had a distracted smile on her face as she reached for an empty cereal bowl.

“For someone who didn't get much sleep last night, you're awfully chipper,” said Claudia grouchily.

Pausing in the midst of pouring milk over her cereal, Myka winced and felt the tips of her ears heat. “Please tell me you're not implying that the walls are thin, because I know for a fact that they aren't. If they were, Pete would have been at the door, begging to bring in a video camera.”

No one seemed to notice that Pete didn't even react to his name being mentioned.

Claudia turned to Leena, stuck out her tongue and said, “You so owe me five bucks.”

Leena chuckled and replied, “I guess I do. But you owe me ten for her Pete comment.”

Rolling her eyes, Claudia retorted, “Yeah, yeah, you got me there. I never pegged Myka as the type to make such an obvious lesbian joke.”

Suddenly struck by the thought that she and Helena were going to have to start getting used to being labeled with all kinds of names, Myka didn't see Claudia's eyes grow to the size of the saucer that held Leena's teacup. Suddenly, her hand was grabbed and then she was dragged into a patch of sunlight.

“Well, well, what have we here? This, Myka-my-friend, looks suspiciously like some serious shit, and so now, in the time-honored code of bestest best friends everywhere, you will now spill, and spill all, quickly! Details, woman, we want details!” Claudia was three shrill notes from a full on squee-fest.

Not yet entirely ready to share the good news, Myka made a show of looking around the room. "Hey, we seem to be down two people. I thought Helena would be down here, but she's not here. And where's Artie?"

Leena smiled and said, "Helena was here when I first woke up, but she said she had something to do. I believe her comment was, 'The early bird gets the worm'. Perhaps she went fishing?"

Somewhat distracted from her mission, Claudia added, "As for Artie, just listen and pretty soon, you'll know where he is."

Frowning, Myka cocked her head and did as instructed, even while pondering Helena's odd choice of idiom. As far as she knew, Helena wasn't at all interested in outdoorsy things like fishing. Passing it off as nonsense, Myka soon realized that the horribly loud growling sound coming from the direction of Artie's bedroom was, in fact, the snoring of their ersatz leader.

"Oh my God, should we make sure he hasn't been turned into a bear or something?" Myka used the distraction of her question to pull her hand from Claudia's grasp and quickly turned to finish making her breakfast. With the bowl cradled in her left hand, she hurriedly spooned up a mouthful and watched as Claudia had a visible mental debate with herself. It was very amusing to watch the cascade of emotions that fluttered across the hacker's face; confusion, consideration, fear, and finally, realization dawned.

Turning, Claudia wagged a finger at Myka. "Oh no you don't. You are so not going to distract me, young lady."

Pete's sudden, mournful sigh caused all three women to finally notice him .

Setting aside her cereal, Myka went to the table, pulled out a chair and sat beside her partner.

"Pete, are you okay?"

He sighed again. "Oh sure. I'm great. Just peachy. It's just, there's this banana, and I found it, and Kelly, and if I don't shut up, I'm going to have to turn in my man card and bawl like a baby on your shoulder." Fixing a smile on his face, he resolutely picked up the fruit, tore it open and began to eat. "So," he said while chewing loudly. "You gonna pony up the intel about that bit of bling, or are we all going to have to gang up on H.G. and demand to know what her intentions are?"

"Pete, I - you, we - argh!" Myka covered her face and sighed. "It's complicated, and I don't know if I'm ready to say more than that."

Pete took a drink of milk, swallowed, and then reached out to take his partner's hand. Turning it over so that the diamond flashed in the sunlight, he said, "Hey, you know, when H.G. sent me after this thing, I was pretty sure you were gonna freak. So, go ahead, freak. Do it now, though, because that woman loves you like nothing I've ever seen, and that's something you just can't let go."

With watery eyes, Myka squeezed Pete's hand and said, "Thank you. It's just that it finally hit me that things are kinda different now." She glanced at Claudia and Leena who were both creeping around like church mice, and obviously listening in on the conversation. "I don't know how I made that joke earlier, you know. Now that there's this big L word involved, I suddenly wonder if now I need to be the warehouse poster child for the Pride movement and that, well, that kind of scares the heck out of me."

Claudia rushed over and swept Myka up in a hug. "Oh don't worry about that stuff. Heck, as far as I know, you'd be a parade of two anyway, though hey, we could all join PFLAG and do NOH8 posters! I already have a button. Which would be cool, but not necessary as long as you're happy and stuff, right? You're happy, aren't you? I mean, you seem happy and why am I not shutting up and letting you talk?"

Myka laughed and tugged Claudia into her lap, giving her a massive bear hug as she did. "Don't ever change," she said into the hacker's hair. "You are such a wonderful you, and I need that so I can remember to be me."

“Okay,” replied Claudia brightly. “I can do that.”

Just when it seemed likely that they would all fall prey to the heavy emotional aura overlaying the room, they were all startled by the arrival of a massive black and silver motor home. Whoever was driving it obviously had very little skill at it, as the vehicle swerved from side to side like a drunk trying to find his way home on Lombard Street. Bushes, flower plots, and several mail boxes fell victim to the behemoth before it came skidding to a stop just inches from the back end of Artie's prized red convertible.

They all raced to the doorway of the bed and breakfast, getting there in time to watch Helena emerge from the motor home. Tossing her hair back over her shoulder, she said, "Well, that was quite invigorating. I think I'll need a bit more practice, but it's not that much different from conducting a steam engine, really."

"Helena?" Myka pushed through the knot of agents and went to her lover. "What is this?"

Helena grinned and tangled her fingers with Myka's. "This? Oh, this is just a little something I thought we might like to have along with us when we go on our vacation. After all, you did mention returning to that quaint little campground in my namesake village, did you not?"

Staring at the massive vehicle, Myka gaped and tried several times to speak and finally, weakly said, "Yes, but this wasn't quite what I had in mind."

"Oh, were you thinking of something larger? I'm sure the dealer would be happy to trade it in. Though I was assured that this particular model came equipped with the most modern of amenities. I must say, I was quite impressed with the loo. It actually flushes!" Helena seemed far too cheerful about the prospect of a flushable bathroom on board the motor home.

With wonder in her eyes, Claudia joined them. Trailing her fingers over the silvery swirls of paint along the side of the motor home, she whistled softly and said, "This is so cool. I mean, really, H.G. this is beyond the beyond. Can I go inside? It's gotta be totally awesome in there."

From the doorway of the inn, Pete and Leena watched while Helena gave Claudia an elaborate bow, opened the door, and headed inside the vehicle. Pete sighed. "You know, there was once a time that I'd have given a considerable amount to ride around in a thing like that. Now, all I can think about is how boring it would be without Kelly."

Leena gave him a half smile, put her hand on his shoulder and said, "It gets better. Trust me." Letting her touch linger just a bit, she turned and headed back inside while Pete shook his head.

"That's the thing. I don't want it to get better," he mumbled softly as he went to join his friends in the motor home.

Every other word out of Claudia's mouth was, "Whoa!" or "Oh my God, this is so cool!"

Myka just sort of drifted through the interior, one hand unconsciously outstretched to lightly brush over the various surfaces and the other firmly clasped in Helena's hand. Together, they explored the vehicle from front to back and by the time they hit the master bedroom, Myka was in a complete daze.

Collapsing on the bed, she said, "So, you rented this so we could go camping?"

Helena sat next to her and scooted in close, then let her chin rest on Myka's shoulder. "Bought it, actually. The salesman was quite insistent that it was the, 'best deal of the century', and who am I to turn down an offer like that?" Stroking her finger over the ring encircling Myka's finger, she said, "We can park it anywhere and have privacy. It's not a home with a yard and a fence and a scruffy little dog, but at least it's more than just a room with a bed in it. I want to give you that, Myka. A home; a place that is for you and me and our family, however and whenever it grows."

Myka turned her hand over so that she could lace their fingers together. "God, Helena. You really know how to overwhelm a girl, don't you?" She smiled weakly. "It's just so hard to accept - this is my reality now. I feel like I've stepped into another mirror, only this time, it's my favorite fantasy instead of my worst nightmare."

"Oh trust me, darling, this is reality. My shoulder aches too much in the morning for this to be a dream." Helena said with a soft laugh. "However, if this is your dream, then I say, don't wake up." Turning her head to look up into Myka's face, she murmured, "You do like it, don't you? I very much want you to like it."

There was so much fear in Helena's tone that Myka immediately bent her head and brushed a kiss over Helena's lips. "Of course I like it. Are you kidding? I love it! I love you." She kissed her again and whispered, "Yes. Yes, yes, yes. A thousand yeses." Each 'yes' was accompanied by a kiss until she had pushed Helena to the bed and lay over her, scattering kisses all over Helena's face and neck.

"Um, what are you saying yes to so enthusiastically and wow! Can I just say, hot, much? Jeeze you guys should bottle this; you'd make a mint!" Claudia's cheerfully spoken interruption hit the lovers like a bucket of ice water.

Separating, Myka sat up and immediately tried to compose herself while Helena lounged back on her elbows and did what she did best - which was to appear as though she had thoroughly enjoyed her ravishing, which of course, she had.

Claudia clapped her hands together and started rubbing them vigorously. "Whoa. You may be a good guy now, H.G. but you are still really, really dangerous. Dayum. Okay, yeah, yeah, um, so, there was all this yessing and kissing, and the yessing, yessiree that's what I'm most curious about because anything else would be TMI and I'm a good girl and don't wonder about things like that about my best friends and could someone please say something so I'll shut up?"

When Pete climbed aboard the motor home, his melancholy mood was temporarily displaced by the luxurious appointments that stroked the greed centers of his lizard brain. He'd never been a covetous person, but having the kind of cash that could make a dealership pony up something as superbly appointed as this motor home was, in as short a time as H.G. had given them, made Pete just a little bit envious of Myka. She would never even notice half the cool stuff that the vehicle came equipped with, and that was just sad. On the other hand, she did have a smokin' hot woman to distract her, so maybe it wasn't all bad.

Well, if Myka doesn't care about it, then she won't mind me messing with it. He grinned and immediately started poking, prodding, moving, twisting, opening, and closing everything he could get his hands on and by the time he'd reached the bathroom door, he'd overheard enough of the conversation to know that if he wasn't very careful, he was going to say something that would get his butt very kicked by Myka.

Tossing out several crude but true comments about wishing to be a fly on their wall, he stuck his head in the door, grinned and said, "So she did say yes? Awesome. I'm so going to throw you the best bachelor party, H.G." His eyes began to sparkle as he added, "I know this great place. The drinks are cold, the dancers are hot, and man, oh man, can they dance."

"Pete! You are not going to take my girlfriend to a strip club!" Myka said in an outraged tone.

"Oh please Myka, I'm fairly certain burlesque reviews haven't changed much. They'll be quite lovely, I'm sure, but they'll be diminished, somehow, because when I look at them, I'll be trying to make them match up to you, and failing. I rather suspect that attending the burlesque isn't for my benefit anyway. It seems more of a rowdy thing to do, and I prefer to spend my evenings in pursuits of a more intellectual nature. After all, it is ever so much more rewarding to count the freckles on your spine with my tongue."

Pete clapped his hands over Claudia's ears. "Hey now, there are little ones present, ladies. Do try to recall that some of us haven't yet reached drinking age."

"Dude, get off me!" Claudia pushed his hands away. "My ears are no more virgin than the daiquiris that Leena makes for girls' night-in and I think I just realized something." She spun away from Pete and pointed at Myka accusingly. "You said 'yes' and you are wearing a massive rock on your hand which means you -" Claudia's finger swung toward Helena then. "Asked her a very important, big-assed question that usually ends in bells and dresses and ugly flower bouquets being tossed at a screaming hoard of desperate women." She shook her head. "Damn, I gotta stop watching Bridezillas so much."

Sitting up, Helena shrugged and said, "What can I say? I like to act on my impulses."

Joyfully, Claudia clapped her hands and danced in a circle. "Yes! Awesome! But!" She came to a sudden stop and to Myka said, "No sea foam, no fuschia, and definitely, positively, absolutely no boring beige! You will choose good colors, or I will show up in neon and tie dye, just to spite you!"

Watching the back and forth between her friends, Myka felt like she was stuck at the tennis match from hell. So many emotions piled up inside with each word spoken that she was certain she was about to burst. However, her fears were allayed by the happy grins her friends wore. Tentatively, she took a breath, licked her lips and then said, "Just for you, I'll make sure to pick out something truly obnoxious. I'm thinking ecru, or maybe dusty rose, or hey, I hear gray is good."

Mortified, Claudia pressed her hands together and said, "Oh please, please, please don't pick those. Please? I beg of you, hey - wait - for me? Does this mean? Are you asking? Oh, can I, can I?" There was so much excitement in Claudia's demeanor that Myka was afraid she'd vibrate a hole in the floor of the motor home.

Draping her arm around Claudia's shoulders, Myka grinned and said, "Of course, you silly goose! Whenever we get around to it, I promise you can be there by my side with bells and cool clothes on."

Helena stood, slipped her arm through Pete's, glanced up at him, grinned mischievously and said, "Well old man, that means I'm stuck with you as my bestie then."

She patted his chest protectively. "Don't worry. I won't make you wear pink, though it is quite a fashionable color for men these days."

"Um, thanks, I think?" Pete's expression was a cross between horror and delight as half of him was off in la-la land planning the mother of all bachelor parties while the other was terrified at what ridiculously Victorian ideas Helena was sure to unleash as her vision for his best man's outfit.

**

Lunch was served alfresco on the veranda. Leena had made soup, salad and sandwiches along with a plate of cookies decorated with stylized versions of Myka's ring.

"Oh those are awesome," said Claudia as she picked one up and tossed it to Pete. "Check it out."

He caught it and took a bite. "Yum. Frosting."

Myka took in the cookies and the luncheon spread and then looked at Helena. "Just how many people did you tell about your little impulse?"

"Only Pete, why?" Helena was busily pouring herself a cup of proper English tea.

Myka turned her querying gaze to her partner. "Pete?" she drawled sharply.

He grinned sheepishly. "What? I had to tell someone. At least it wasn't Artie!"

"At least it wasn't Artie, what?"

Everyone fell silent as the man in question wandered out onto the deck. He'd obviously just woken. His hair was askew, his glasses were crooked and his t-shirt was terribly rumpled. However, he looked more relaxed than they'd ever seen him.

"Well? What'd you forget to tell me this time?" he asked, some of his usual temper peppering his tone.

Pete looked at Myka, Myka looked at Claudia, Claudia quickly dropped the cookie she was nibbling and turned to face the man she sometimes thought of as a father figure. Pasting a grin on her face, she said, "Well, um, you see, there's this thing, and -"

In a very casual tone, Helena interrupted and said, "It's nothing really, Artie. Do come and join us for a cup of tea? We've just been discussing the fact that I've asked Myka to be my wife."

Helena actually stood, walked around the table, took Artie by the arm and led him to a chair.

Absently, he followed along, staring at the others with a lost, almost dazed expression on his face. When he finally sat down, he said, "Well, I guess that's just wonderful, really. I mean, who doesn't like weddings, right? I mean, it's great that you two are getting married and you do know that you can't actually get married, right?" His voice rose and fell, at times sounding irritated and others, almost tender.

Myka closed her eyes, unsure whether she should laugh or cry at Artie's response. Softly, she said, “I don't need a piece of paper and a blood test to prove that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Helena.” Stubbornly, she met Artie's gaze and, holding her head high, she added, “If you have a problem with that, then you can keep it to yourself.”

“What? No, Myka, that's not – I mean...” Artie pulled off his glasses, rubbed his eyes and then said, “Am I thrilled that you've found happiness? Of course. Do I have doubts about the source of that happiness? You bet I do, but it's not because it's Helena. I'd be just as concerned if it were Pete or, or Claudia – workplace relationships can turn into one big mess if they go sour.”

“Whoa, dude, that's like seventeen thousand different kinds of wrong,” said Claudia. “First off – ew! Myka's like a sister to me and secondly, double ew, because Pete? He's the big brother-man around here.

Eyes wide, Myka nodded vigorously. “Yeah, Artie. Since when have I ever shown an interest in Pete or Claudia in that way?”

“Well, you did kiss me,” Pete interjected, and then, when Myka glared at him and Helena gave him an appraising glance, he grinned sheepishly and said, “Okay, okay, Alice kissed me. Sheesh. But they're right – what gives, Artie? We're all cool with it – why aren't you?”

It was Helena, once again, who was able to intuit the cause behind Artie's bluster. “I do believe he rather sees himself as a father to all of you. Now that I've slithered into the picture and stolen his 'little girl's' heart, he's looking for a reason to test my mettle – just to be certain that I am the right person to take care of Myka. Have I sussed you out properly, Artie?”

The curmudgeonly older agent huffed once and then, gruffly said, “Of course you have. I think that's one of the things I'm going to hate most about working with you, Helena. You're too good at figuring me out.” Standing, he went to Myka and said, “Look, I know you think I'm secretive, paranoid, and completely incapable of trusting people other than myself, and you're right, and I won't change, but that doesn't matter, because I'm not the one who's getting into this mess. So for what it's worth, you have my blessing. Go, be happy. Just try not to act like lovesick teenagers when you're working.” As Myka smothered him in a bear hug, he grumbled, “All I want is for you to be happy.”

Softly, Myka said, “I am, Artie. I really am.”

**

Myka stared down at the sum total of her traveling life. Three bags, including her shoulder tote, containing all that she felt would be necessary for life on the road. She was at turns amazed and filled with trepidation at the idea of six weeks with just Helena for company. If their relationship was as true as it felt, this trip would be the final test.

"Is it the trip or the destination that has you staring at those bags like they've come to life?" asked Leena softly as she stepped into Myka's room.

Myka sighed and started nibbling her thumb. "What do you think?"

"It's never easy going home; harder still when you're bringing home your fiancée."

A nervous half smile crossed Myka's face. "No kidding. Not to mention there's the whole, 'Well, how long have you known each other, dear,' question I'm dreading." She let out an explosive sigh and collapsed onto her bed. "I mean, to me it feels like I've known Helena forever, but when you think about it -"

"You realize that it's only been a few months." Leena delicately perched herself on the bed next to Myka. "I was worried, you know, that this would hit you sooner or later."

"You were?" Myka's eyes widened.

"Of course. I've had what some would call a front row seat to the development of your relationship. For instance, I knew from the moment I saw both of you in a room together that you were drawn to each other. It was such a strong pull that I almost hung a picture of moths in your room and filled Helena's with candles."

Myka chuckled softly. "I don't know what it is about her, Leena. She gets to me so easily." Shaking her head, Myka murmured, "For a while, it seemed like she was there every time I turned around. Then when she wasn't, I found myself looking for her, hoping I'd see her and praying I wouldn't. Then, after Warehouse 2, I just wanted to crawl into a hole - I'd never felt so out of sorts in my life."

Leena reached out and gave Myka's arm a gentle squeeze, then said, "Love has a funny way of twisting us up inside. That's what you have to show your parents - let them see how Helena affects you, give them the chance to discover for themselves how much she loves you, and it won't matter that she's a recent addition to your life. They're your parents, Myka. They want you to be happy, and Helena makes you happy."

"She does." If pure joy could have been captured and bottled, Myka's smile would have lit Univille for a year.

"So what are you waiting for? Grab your bags and go have an adventure!" Leena stood and held her hand out to Myka, who accepted it and the pull to her feet with grace.

"Thanks, Leena. So, what do you plan to do while we're all out of your hair?" Gathering her bags, Myka took one last look around the room. On the surface, not much had changed, and yet, there was a definite sense that when she returned, the place would never be the same.

Together, they headed downstairs.

"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps some gardening. Maybe a day trip or two; I'm not really sure." Leena smiled mysteriously. "Don't worry about me - I will definitely enjoy my time off."

“And you're sure you don't mind looking after Little Pete?” Myka asked softly.

Leena smiled. “No, he's nice to have around. He can help me in the garden, even.”

“Okay, well, if you're sure, then, thank you. Really, I didn't know how well he'd take to traveling and -” Reaching the door, Myka looked around for Helena but didn't spot her. Through the front window though, she could see that the door to the motor home was open. Heading outside, she was brought to a sudden halt when Helena emerged from the Winnebago

She blinked once, rubbed her eyes and then blinked again. "Helena?"

Helena grinned. "What do you think, darling? Will I blend in?" She spread her arms and spun in a slow circle, displaying an outfit that was, in Myka's estimation, fantastically ridiculous.

From her feet, which were encased in bright green flip flops, to her Bermuda shorts, which were the blandest shade of taupe Myka had ever seen, Helena had chosen "modern tourist" as her dress guide. Her tank top was white, but over it, she wore a gaudy Hawaiian shirt with a pattern in so many shades of pink and orange that it took Myka a full minute to realize that they were dancing flamingos. The whole thing was crowned with a translucent green tennis visor/pony tail combination and an old fashioned Brownie Hawkeye camera suspended from a strap around Helena's neck.

Munching on a cookie, Pete wandered outside and said, "Hey, Myka, you think your mom could send me some of those - whoa, H.G. what'd you do, fall into a vat full of old fogie clothes? You look like you broke into my grandma's closet and stole her favorite vacation wear."

Looking perplexed, Helena replied, "Oh dear, I do believe I've gone and accepted fiction for fact once again. I really must speak to Claudia about her choice of movies. It's crushing to discover that a man of such comedic genius as Chevy Chase could get such an important detail wrong."

"Honey," Myka said as she dropped her bags and went over to Helena. "I think I preferred the Lara Croft look on you." With deft tugs, she removed the gaudy shirt, visor and camera. Giving Helena a long once-over, with a pause to admire how nicely the tank top clung to her lover's body, Myka grinned and said, "There. Now we're ready for a road trip."

Bunching up the unwanted garments, Myka walked back to Pete, shoved them at him and said, "Would you see that these are properly dealt with?"

Gamely, he took them, and then sniffed. Wincing at the pungent odor that emanated from the shirt, Pete said, "Smells like you took them from grandma's closet, too."

Curious, Myka leaned over, took a whiff and coughed. Whirling to face Helena, she put a determined smile on her face and said, "Dear, I think we're going to check your bags before we go. Toxic waste is something I'd prefer not to cart across half of the country."

"Oh really, Myka. I'm quite sure that the scent of mothballs isn't yet considered toxic," said Helena as she gathered up Myka's bags. "Now, if you want to talk truly obnoxious odors, I'd be happy to discuss how happy I am that people no longer keep chamberpots by the bedside."

"No, no, that's quite all right. I just want to be sure that you're comfortable," Myka hastily replied.

Watching the women as they boarded the motor home, Pete chuckled softly and said, "Myka is so whipped."

Though he knew she couldn't have possibly heard him, he still winced when she suddenly turned and glared at him. Raising one hand in a wave, he was surprised when she exited the vehicle and came back to his side.

Thrusting her hands into her back pockets, Myka bit her lip and said, "So, um, I guess we're going our separate ways now, huh?"

He shrugged. "It's only for a few weeks, right? I mean, you're not running off after leaving a 'Dear Team' letter again, which, by the way, sucked, thank you very much, partner."

She looked away and said, "I'm sorry. I just - I wasn't brave enough to face you, and it was wrong. I should have said goodbye in person."

"It wouldn't have worked. I'd never have let you go." He smiled. "And as it turned out, leaving was exactly the right thing to do. So, who's to say this isn't the right thing as well?"

She nodded. "You're right, but just to be sure, you're not getting any vibes about this trip, are you?"

"Nope," he said, smiling brightly. "Not a one. In fact, I can honestly say I have not felt a bad vibe about H.G. since kissing her in London." Hastily, he followed that up with, "Not that kissing her was bad, but it was, oh so bad, because she's your girlfriend, and I didn't enjoy kissing her one bit, nope, not a bit and yeah, shutting up now." He winced in preparation for a blow that never came.

Myka grinned at him and then, to his utter amazement, she leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Thanks, Pete."

"You're welcome," he replied. "Oh, hey, Helena, you look like you're ready to go."

Helena, who'd arrived in time to view the kiss, cocked one eyebrow and said, "I'd say it's definitely time to go before you charm more than a peck on the cheek out of my fiancée."

"Right, right, well, you ladies have a good time," said Pete as he backed away slowly. As much as he trusted that H.G. was now one of the good guys, there was still a certain dangerousness about her that made him want to scurry away like a field mouse running from a falcon.

"I'm sure we will," said Helena. She maintained her pretense for a moment longer and then added, "Pete, you should find Kelly. Show her that love is worth fighting for."

Pete stopped and smiled sadly. "It's tempting."

Myka added her encouragement. "Do it, Pete. You'll never know if you don't try."

Shrugging, he said, "Yeah. Maybe. What's the worse that could happen? She tells me no again, and breaks my heart twice. No big deal."

Helena pinned him with a look. "Some things are worth any cost."

"Regrets suck, Pete," Myka said softly, causing him to smile.

"You're the one who's right, now." Offering her a salute, he said, "I guess I have some searching to do."

As he turned to head back into the house, he was almost bowled over by Claudia. She was carrying a massive backpack as well as lugging her laptop case.

“Oh good they're still here. Take this,” she said excitedly, shoving the backpack at Pete and hurriedly jogged up to the Winnebago .

"Hey Claudia, what's up?" said Myka as she eyed the massive pack in Pete's hands.

Stuffing her hands in her pockets, Claudia defiantly raised her head and said, "Take me with you."

"Um, why?"

Helena refrained from comment, though she did look as stunned as Myka at the request.

"Because I've never gotten to go on a family vacation. And," she paused and then grinned mischievously. "You owe me." When no answer was immediately forthcoming, she said, "I can drive, and I can cook, and I have a tent so you guys have all the privacy you want, unless it's raining, in that case I'm totally crashing on the couch.”

"Claudia -" Myka started to say, but was cut off when Helena softly said, "We'd welcome your presence, Claudia."

Myka turned to Helena and said, "Are you sure?"

"Of course I am. Claudia has just offered to be our personal attendant. Why would I turn that down? Any time I do not have to spend doing something else is time I have to share with you. Alone. In the bedroom," Helena replied softly.

"Oh. Oh!" Myka's cheeks turned pink. "I guess it might be kind of fun to have you along, Claudia. Just as long as you don't try anything suggested by Pete, such as sneaking a camera into the bedroom some morning to try and snap pictures of us drooling in our sleep."

"I can go? Really?" Claudia looked like the kid who'd just pulled the brass ring at the carnival.

"Yes, you can go. Get your stuff. Come on, we still have to figure out where to stop tonight," said Myka as she headed for the door to the motor home.

Collecting her back pack from Pete, Claudia gave him a quick hug and then raced for the Winnebago. "You want me to drive? I really can drive this thing. It's not much longer than my buddy's old school bus and we used to crank that thing up to ninety on the highway!"

Pete never heard the response, but he was amused to see Myka in the driver's seat while a disappointed Claudia slumped dejectedly in the passenger seat.

The engine coughed to life. Myka gave Pete a wave, put the vehicle in gear and started to back up, only to get nowhere quickly as the Winnebago inched forward instead of back.

Pete winced, expecting the crunch of metal, but miraculously, Myka managed to engage the breaks. He watched as words were exchanged until finally, Myka threw up her hands, pointed at Artie's car, pointed at Claudia and then thrust herself up out of the driver's seat.

With a grin and a cheerful salute at Pete, Claudia plopped down behind the wheel, and before Myka could even get settled on the passenger side, she threw the motor home into reverse and tore off down the driveway. The last thing Pete saw was Myka in Helena's arms as they clung to each other, both wearing similar expressions of fearful anticipation.

"Well, if they don't kill each other, they're going to have lots of great stories to share when they get back," he mumbled softly and then headed back into the bed and breakfast.

fin

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