Author's Notes: Written for trialia. She won my bid in the help_haiti auction. Thank you so much for your contribution, and for choosing me! :) I just hope this is worthy of your contribution to the cause!
EDIT: And thank you to lanna_kitty for the fabulous beta! This was so much drivel without her sage advice!
"Kate?" she asked a tentative lilt to her voice. "If there’s anything I can do …" Helen let the question trail off, allowing Kate her space and the offer of support reach out at the same time. Always the diplomat.
"Just -" Kate shuddered a sigh. "Just leave me alone, okay?" She pulled the covers over her head and rolled away from Helen.
So often, Helen was left unsure of what to do. Despite her many experiences, her vast knowledge, she was always left wordless and confused when it came to this broken woman. Running a comforting hand over Kate’s swaddled form, she rose up from the bed they sometimes shared. "Call me if you need me."
An unintelligible grunt came from beneath the covers. Helen furrowed her brow in concern, but left Kate to wallow.
"Hey," came a hoarse whisper a few hours later.
Helen looked up from her paper work to see Kate standing awkwardly in her office doorway holding a steaming mug looking quite contrite, not to mention exhausted.
"It’s tea. Your favourite; that Red Rose stuff," she said, holding it out as though she were making a peace offering. Her large brown eyes, slightly swollen from crying, silently begged for Helen’s forgiveness.
Helen sighed. "You didn’t have to do that."
"I wanted to." Kate crossed the room to Helen’s desk. She set the mug in front of Helen then climbed into the wingback chair, pulled her legs in, and hugged them tightly to her body.
Helen nodded her head and cradled the mug in her hands, almost lovingly. "Thank you."
"Don’t mention it," Kate bristled. Her defenses were slowly coming back up; a sure sign of recovery.
"Feeling better?" Helen asked.
Kate rolled her head to the side, stretching the knots in her neck. "Not yet. Getting there though."
"You will, I’m certain of it. You are a strong woman, Kate, capable of surviving anything."
Unsure of how to reply to such a compliment, Kate just smiled tiredly and rested her head on her knees.
"It wasn’t your fault, you know," Helen said suddenly. "You did everything you could to save that abnormal. In fact, I sincerely believe that you allowed him a more dignified death that he would have otherwise been denied if you hadn’t been there."
"I don’t need your platitudes, Magnus," Kate shot back suddenly.
A bit taken aback, Helen nodded solemnly and returned to her paperwork. Every once in a while taking a sip of her tea, Helen would look up to ensure that Kate was still there. And she was. It seemed that things had settled once again.
Each woman took comfort in one another’s presence. Companionable silence was their norm at times such as these. Words only ever got in the way it seemed.
Helen grasped her side, the sting of the wound bringing her back from the edges of a faint. She looked down and saw her own blood pouring from between her fingers, life itself pouring out. After all these years …
"Oh shit, Helen, this looks bad," Kate muttered under her breath as she desperately gathered the gauze from the medikit into her shaking hands and pressed it to the wound. "I never should have left you with that damn troll. I can't believe I left you alone. It’s bad, isn’t it?"
Helen looked up into Kate’s face and saw the depths of pain in those brown eyes; she didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. "No, love, it’s just a graze. I’ll be fine once Henry gets us to the Sanctuary. Isn’t that right -" she gasped in blinding pain as Henry rounded a tight corner, "- isn’t that right, Henry?"
Henry shot a wary glance over his shoulder. Kate could see the doubt in his eyes, but chose to ignore it and turned back to Helen. "Liar."
Helen gave her a tight smile. "Be a dear and pass me that vial, would you?"
Kate reached over and grabbed the vial Helen had gestured to in the black medical bag, all the while not releasing pressure from Helen’s wound. So much blood. "What is this?"
"A sedative. You’re going to have to get the bullet out."
"Please, Kate. I’ll bleed to death before we make it to the Sanctuary. You must," she plead. Helen placed a hand on Kate’s, her blue eyes bright with pain.
Kate nodded reluctantly. "If you don’t survive this, I swear ..."
Helen sighed and rested her head back. "I know. Thank you."
The first thing she saw was the bright lights of the surgery glaring overhead. Helen attempted to place a hand over her eyes only to find her hands bound by IV tubes.
"Shit. Here, let me get those for you." A sudden lack of warmth in her hands lets Helen know that Kate had been holding them tightly before she got up to dim the lights in the room. "Is that better?"
"Yes, thank you," she replied, voice hoarse. "Would you get me some water as well, please?"
"Sure, sure," Kate replied quickly as she reached for the water.
"How long?" Helen croaked unevenly.
Kate seemed to be chew on the answer for a bit before she replied. "Almost a day. You had me there for a moment, you know that?"
Kate had been going for flippant, but Helen saw through her. Helen smiled, her lips cracked painfully. She tried to lick them, but there was no moisture on her tongue. Kate quickly handed her a plastic cup half-filled with water, a straw dangling out the side. She guided the little plastic tube to Helen’s lips and gently wiped the bit that dribbled down when Helen got greedy.
"So it was close, you say?"
Kate gave an indelicate snort, and replied, "Oh just a bit."
"Well, I seem to be recovering now. Pass me my laptop, would you?" Helen reached for the device only over extend herself and cause a sharp pain in her midsection where the stitches were still tender. The sudden intake of breath alerted Kate to her pain.
"Oh no you don’t. Get back into bed."
Helen smirked. "I’m sure you’d like that."
"Under normal circumstances, I’d love that," Kate shot back, a familiar fire in her eyes, "but today you are a patient. And I’m not about to make things worse. At least not this time."
Helen caught the way the fire dimmed when Kate spoke the last words, and she reached for her lover’s hand. "Don’t blame yourself, Kate. It wasn’t your fault. Things go wrong. It’s the nature of our jobs."
"Right," she bit back. For a moment Helen was certain Kate was going to do as she always did and leave, but instead she sighed heavily and slipped her hand from Helen’s and adjusted the sheets. "Get some rest, alright? I’m going to check on some things with Henry."
"Alright. And go easy on that boy. I believe he still thinks he has a chance with you."
Allowing for her eyes to slip closed, Helen quietly fell back asleep to the sounds of Kate laughing on her way out of the surgery.
It had been a few weeks since Helen's close call with the troll (who, ironically, did live under a bridge), and she had come to a new understanding and a new appreciation with her relationship with Kate.
This familiarity she had with Kate was something altogether new. It was a revelation all unto itself.
"You’re staring at me again."
Helen, startled from her reverie, felt a blush creep up over her cheeks at having been discovered. "I’m sorry. It’s just that you look so lovely sitting there by the fire."
Kate shot Helen an incredulous glance. "Right, lovely. Just sitting here, cleaning my guns."
Helen chuckled. "No really, Kate, you really are a specimen. You do your species a credit."
"You mean Humans?" Kate snorted.
"Yes," Helen laughed. "I mean, Humans."
"Well, if I seem to recall, there’s nothing inhuman about you," Kate retorted suggestively. "So, no need to separate yourself from me, Magnus."
Helen laughed. "I’ll never be on any sort of pedestal with you, will I, Kate?"
"You are such a dork," Kate replied. She shook her head, but put the gun she had been cleaning down and rewarded Helen with a brilliant smile. For a moment, Kate’s smile faltered though, and Helen thought she was going to say something. Instead, Kate rose from her spot on the floor, carefully kicked the gun away from the heat of the fireplace and crossed the room to where Helen was seated on her sofa. "Helen?"
"Why -" Kate hesitated before climbing onto the sofa next to Helen. "Why me?"
Helen’s eyes went wide with the question. She hadn’t been sure what to expect, but it surely hadn’t been that. "Oh Kate."
"No, really. I mean, really."
Helen laughed softly at her insecurity. It was endearing. For all of Kate’s posturing, she really was just as vulnerable as a kitten. Helen gently pushed back a lock of Kate’s hair from her face, letting her fingertips caress her jaw line. "I wouldn’t have anyone else, Kate."
Kate let out a small relieved huff of air and leaned in to kiss Helen, and Helen returned the favour, enjoying the feel of her lips on hers. Helen ran her hands up Kate’s back, drawing her closer, and Kate willingly obliged. It was an unspoken language between the two of them, and one they spoke well. Words of wisdom, and comfort, and healing. It was theirs.