Inventory was one of those things that must be done. However, most of the warehouse's agents and caretakers would prefer doing anything other than sitting in a seemingly long-forgotten section of the labyrinth of aisles, stacked some twenty feet high in places. As there hadn't been any pings in more than a forty-eight hour period, Artie Neilson had tasked Myka and Claudia to head down to Sector 25, dismissing the two agents with a wave of the hand, he turned back to his previous disordered state.
"Where's Pete and Jinksy?" Claudia asked as she followed the taller agent down the stairs.
"Not sure, but I think they were trying avoid this so they booked the time off," Myka said with a chagrined response, as she tried to follow the directions that Artie had written on a coffee-stained sheet of paper. Turning the map around, she examined the lines and arrows.
“Not surprising.” Looking over at her friend, she noticed Myka’s puzzled expression. “Mykes?”
“Artie’s instructions could be a little clearer,” Myka mused.
“Here, let me see. I’ve spent numerous hours, and I mean a gargantuan number of hours disciphering Artie-speak...or in this case his written instructions. I swear the man should be a doctor for his legibility issues.” Claudia poured over the written notes and then smiled. “Okay, so we go five rows over, three rows down, hang a right and eight shelves up.”
“Claud, you’re a genius,” Myka said, thrilled.
“I try.” Claudia held her hands out and cocked her head to the side. “Come on, let’s get this over with. So, what exactly did Artie want us to check in the inventory?”
“I don’t know. I guess after MacPhearson started removing artifacts and fiddled with the archive records, he just wanted to make sure that everything was where it was supposed to be.”
“Makes sense. When things started going wonky with artifacts not being where they were supposed to be, he was worse than a bear with a tooth ache. He kept muttering about not trusting things until he saw them in person.”
Myka turned around and looked quizzically at the younger warehouse agent.
Claudia shrugged then startled as her Farnsworth buzzed. “Gah! I need to put a vibration mode on this thing.” Opening up the device, she sighed as she saw a frowning Artie on the other end. “Yes, Artie?”
“Did you get there yet?” the elder agent asked persistently.
“Uhm, not yet. We don’t have a teleportation device...” Pressing her lips together, a curious thought entered her mind. “We don’t have one of those, do we? Maybe when HG comes back in one piece, I can help her build one.”
“Claudia! Present. Here. Now.” Artie didn’t look particularly thrilled with the mention of H.G. Wells name. She might have proven that she was trustworthy again, but that didn’t mean he had to like it, and until the Regents saw fit to return her mind and body to the same form, his hesitancy remained in with regards to fully trusting the author/inventor/agent.
“All right, all right. What did you want, sensei?” Claudia knew his patience was thin since he had to cut short a date with Doctor Vanessa to return to the warehouse.
“I need you back here, now,” Artie said without preamble.
“What about inventory with Myka?” she asked looking over at the senior agent before turning back to Artie. “What are those alarms going off?” Claudia asked as she only started hearing.
“That’s part of why I need you. The alarms have been going off in different sectors, and since you rerouted some of my computer, I need you to fix it. You won’t be long, I hope. Myka can start without you. Now get back here, pronto.”
“Aye, aye, sir. Donovan out.” Claudia closed her Farnsworth, tucking it into her sweater pocket. Turning a chagrined look over at Myka, she shrugged. “Sorry, Mykes. I’ll be back.”
“No problem...I’ll just try and figure my way there.”
Taking an item out of her leather satchel that she had hanging from her shoulders, she handed it over to Myka. “So, you won’t be alone.”
“Claudia?” Myka asked as she recognised the orb which held HG’s consciousness. She pressed her lips together and she felt a lump build in her throat.
“You miss her.” Claudia sighed. With a sympathetic smile and a comforting hand on Myka’s arm, she added, “I know it’s not the same.”
“Thank you,” Myka said, nodding and bowing her head. Her fingers lightly caressed the orb as if imbuing it with as much affection as she could for the entity within.
“Just...don’t tell Artie I snagged it from his office.” Without wasting anymore time, and wanting to give Myka as much time with HG as she could, Claudia headed back to Artie’s office. In truth, she’d orchestrated the alarms with Artie’s computer. Not that she hated inventory; okay, yes she did, but she’d noticed that Myka had seemed more withdrawn the past week or so, and she could pretty much determine that it followed extended periods of time away from HG. She’d never been one to truly believe in soulmates, or true loves, but spending any amount of time in their presence, arguing or collaborating, Claudia started to believe. It was something to behold when their intelligence and love of puzzles came together to figure something out. And then there was the intense looks shared between them that Claudia was sure she saw sparks literally sparking between the two women. So, if she could give Myka some alone time with HG, even if it was just the Englishwoman’s consciousness, then she would.
Myka got to her destination, or what she could figure out was her destination. She sighed and sat down looking up at the shelves. Holding the orb between her hands, she brushed her thumbs over its surface. After a deep sigh, she pulled the two sections apart and watched as Helena’s image appeared, causing her to suck in a sharp breath.
“Hello, Myka,” Helena spoke softly and with a smile. She noticed a tear fall from Myka’s lid and she reached out her hand before remembering that she couldn’t brush the tear way. “I’ve missed you.”
Fighting past the lump in her throat, Myka could only nod.
“What are you doing down here?” HG asked, looking about her, a wry grin crossing her features. “Artie confine you to doing inventory again?”
Finding her voice, Myka replied, “Mmmhmm, something about checking to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be.”
“And Agents Lattimer and Jinks have managed to be away for the day?” Helena said, amused. She well knew what inventory detail was like. In truth, sometimes she enjoyed doing the oft dreaded chore. As an agent of Warehouse 12, Caturanga would walk her through some of their inventory with fantastic stories that set her imagination ablaze. She dreamt of amazing things and wrote many of them down; Items imbued with history, magical elements, some scary, and others. Until she’d been recruited for the Warehouse, such things were the stuff of legends. Turning around and looking at the shelf in front of her, she gazed at the items. Michaelangelo’s Paintbrushes? Thomas Edison’s Phonograph?
“Yeah, I think I heard something about target practice,” Myka said as she looked over at the other woman pensively. “I’ve missed you, too.”
Helena smiled and nodded. “So, what exactly are you looking for?” the Englishwoman asked, moving slightly behind Myka and looking over her shoulder at the sheet of paper in her hand. She smiled. With her heeled boots and Myka in low sneakers, she was just at the right height for this movement.
Myka showed her the paper and she shivered. It must have been her imagination or the electro-magnetic pulse of Helena’s image, but she could have sworn she felt HG’s breath against her cheek.
“How about you put the paper on the shelf so I can read it out to you, and you go up on the ladder and check to make sure they’re in the right spot?”
With an amused grin on her face, Myka turned around. “You just like looking at my butt.”
“It is rather nice,” Helena said, her mirth matching Myka’s, then as the younger agent began her ascent on the ladder, Helena said softly, “I’d much rather be touching it than looking at it.”
Myka paused in her step and looked down at HG. “I wish that, too.” As she reached the level where she could check the shelf she needed, Helena called out the items that needed place confirmation. Three items checked off their list, Myka climbed down and they moved on to the next row of shelves and they continued on their task. Myka smiled; this time doing inventory was so much more pleasurable as she and Helena talked about Warehouse 12 and Caturanga. Myka realised it had been the first time she’d felt like truly laughing in a while as she hung onto any word the Englishwoman spoke.
Walking around the corner of the row, Helena stopped suddenly and looked up, resulting in Myka walking through her; which was a weird sensation, if she could call it that since she wasn’t really physically there. Standing some five feet in front of them was a golden elephant.
“Uhm, Myka? What’s an elephant doing in the Warehouse, much less a golden one?” Helena asked bewildered.
“No idea.” Myka walked around the large statue to check the electronic tagging device. Heliodorus’s Elephant. A Sicilian sorcerer - apparently he liked to ride on a magical elephant or would transform himself into an elephant. One of his spells went awry and he ended up permanently transformed and another sorcerer turned the elephant into a golden statue.”
Helena shook her head, amused. “Magic knows no bounds apparently.” She followed Myka around the corner and stopped as the woman looked at her list. Everything was accounted for. Moving around the taller woman she canted her head to the side, taking in Myka’s saddened expression. “Myka?”
“We’re finished the inventory task...which means I will need to go back to Artie’s office. before he comes looking for me.”
Understanding where Myka was coming from, she nodded. They wouldn’t have much longer together before she would be once more relegated to the orb, held in her temporary prison; at least she hoped it was only a temporary situation. She could hardly stand not being able to touch and comfort Myka. Raising her hand to the the side of Myka’s face, she paused, knowing the other woman would know her intentions. “Soon, love, soon.”
Myka nodded and picked up the orb as tears fell unbidden from her eyes. “Good-bye, Helena.”
“Not good-bye. Later.” Raising forward she pressed a kiss to Myka’s forehead. When she pulled away, her image disappeared back into the orb and Myka leaned back against the shelves, not bothering to wipe away the tears that continued to fall.
I love you, Helena, Myka whispered to the ether of the Warehouse, hoping that somehow Helena heard her. So lost in her own thoughts and the memory of Helena’s kiss, physical or not, that she hadn’t noticed Claudia at the edge of the row of shelves.
“Myka, she knows,” Claudia said gently, not wanting to startle her friend. She’d felt a little like a voyeur intruding on such a private moment as she’d approached the row and saw HG’s image lean forward to kiss Myka’s forehead, then watch Myka turn and close the orb. Quietly, she drew the taller woman into a hug, knowing no further words were needed.
After a brief moment, Myka separated herself from the younger woman. “Thank you, Claudia. That meant a lot.” Standing taller, she brushed the front of her shirt with one hand as she continued to hold the orb close to her.
Claudia paused, briefly looking down at the orb before looking back at her friend. “Myka, I’m going to need to take her back up to Artie’s office, before he realises that it’s gone.”
Myka nodded then wiped at the semi-dried tears on her cheek. “Thank you. I don’t know that I would have the strength to leave it there and not take it with me back to Leena’s.”
“I know. C’mon before Artie has a conniption. We’ll go out for ice-cream with hot fudge sundaes.” Claudia gently took the orb and placed it in her leather satchel.
Myka smiled. “That sounds like a wonderful idea. Onward we go.” Linking arms with the younger agent, they headed back to Artie’s office to inform him of the completed task. Then ice cream.