Myka had to pull over before she wrecked the SUV. She was crying too hard to see the road and she wasn’t so far gone that she didn’t realize what a danger she currently was. She took off her seat belt, wrapped her arms around the steering wheel, and sobbed.
She hadn’t realized just how much the Warehouse and everything that went with it had come to mean to her until she wrote that letter. She’d hated the assignment at first; had hated the way she’d been pulled in without a reasonable explanation or orientation. She worked so much better with clear cut expectations. But… She hiccupped a helpless laugh through the tears. Such a tiny word, ‘but’, and yet it could make all the difference. She had meant every word in her letter. Myka loved them all, even Mrs. Frederic and her freakishly creepy appearing and disappearing act, and it was tearing her apart that she was leaving them behind. But she couldn’t endanger them again. She couldn’t believe she’d been so wrong about Helena.
Myka was so lost in her grief that she didn’t hear the screeching of tires behind her, but the pounding on her window startled her back to the here and now. The door was jerked open before she could blink the tears from her eyes and she was hauled roughly out of the vehicle. All of her training deserted her and she didn’t even try to defend herself. She just stood there; numb.
The last thing Myka expected was to wind up with her face pressed against a solid chest or to have a rough kiss pressed to the top of her head. It took her a minute to realize that it was Pete holding her and swearing a blue streak. Just as she started to put her arms around him, though, he pushed her away.
She stared at him blankly as he started to pace in front her, arms waving as he ranted. She’d never seen him so angry.
“Goddamn it, Myka! Are you even listening to me?” Pete yelled.
Myka shook her head to clear it. “What?” she asked faintly. Why had he come after her?
Pete stopped in front of her, hands on his hips, and glowered at her. “I never took you for a coward, Myka Bering,” he said flatly.
That got her attention. “I’m not a coward!”
One eyebrow rose mockingly. “No? What do you call leaving a letter with Mrs. Frederic instead of facing us yourself? Seems pretty cowardly to me. You make one mistake and that’s it? Jesus, Mykes. How many times have I screwed up since we started this?”
“None of your mistakes nearly ended the world!” Myka raised her hands in a helpless gesture. “Pete, I let my heart over rule my head. I truly believed she was on our side. HG played me like a violin. How can I possibly risk letting something like that happen again?”
Pete scrubbed his hands over his face then let them drop. He looked at his partner and friend and sighed. “Myka…you weren’t wrong about her.” She opened her mouth to protest, but he held up a hand to forestall her. “Artie wasn’t wrong about her either.”
At Myka’s confused look, Pete tried to explain. “HG is a very complicated, very conflicted, and disturbed woman. She couldn’t bring all that she was together into one person and it drove her insane. Artie told me what she said about why she was using the Trident and I can’t say that she was entirely wrong in her thinking, just in the way that she actually tried to go through with it.”
Myka looked at him, wide-eyed, and he shrugged. “Humans are killing the Earth as well as each other, we all know it, but those in power aren’t really doing anything to stop it. Those that care are doing what they can, but it’s not enough. We’re destroying ourselves as a race and it’s only a matter of time before we succeed. The big question is whether Mother Nature will take care of the problem Herself before we do ourselves in. It could conceivably happen in our lifetime, but I’m not quite ready to go yet.”
She had never heard Pete talk like this in the year and change they’d been working together. She almost asked, ‘Who are you and what have you done with Pete Lattimer?’ but now wasn’t the time for bad jokes. Instead, she said, “You’ve put a lot of thought into the subject.”
He scowled at her. “Just because I don’t always share them doesn’t mean I don’t have deep thoughts.”
She smiled wanly. “Point taken.”
He didn’t smile back. “Putting HG and her misguided plans to help the planet aside for the moment can I just say that leaving without a word was a really shitty thing for you to do to me, especially since Kelly just left me, too? I mean, I totally put myself out there with her and got dumped at the first sign that the world isn’t quite as copasetic as she thought. Who am I supposed to not talk about it with if you’re not here?”
Myka winced. She hadn’t really considered that when she’d made her decision. “I’m sorry, Pete,” she said weakly.
Pete took a step forward and put his hands on her shoulders. “You’re my best friend, Myka. How could you think of leaving without saying goodbye to my face? I don’t want to do this without you. I can’t do this without you.”
Her bottom lip trembled and she tried to blink back more tears. Pete cursed softly and pulled her into his arms again. Myka hugged him tightly. “I don’t know if I can go back,” she murmured miserably into his chest. “I don’t trust myself right now.”
Pete’s hand rubbed soothing circles on her back. “So you take some time off to get your mind right. I’m sure Artie will understand. Hell, it’s not like he hasn’t been in the same position. Talk to him. You’re not alone, Mykes.”
She shook her head. “But-“
Pete gently pushed her back so he could see her face, but kept her in the circle of his arms. “No buts. Don’t run away, Myka. Come back home. Please?”
Looking into Pete’s earnest face; Myka knew she couldn’t refuse. This was why she’d left the letter instead of facing them. She hadn’t wanted them to change her mind, because she knew she didn’t really want to go. Maybe she was a coward after all. Her mostly non-existent resolve crumbled and she nodded. “Okay.”
Pete exhaled and closed his eyes. When he opened them again she could see the relief there and realized that he wasn’t sure she’d say yes. Did she really mean that much to him?
He put his arm around her shoulder and started to lead her to his car. “I can follow you back,” she said.
Pete just shook his head. “I’m not letting you out of my sight right now. Lock it up and we’ll come back for it later.”
“But-“ At the look he gave her, Myka decided not to argue. “Okay.”
They drove back to the Warehouse in silence, but Pete held her hand the whole way. That made it almost okay.