Another woman might have begun making demands or accusations, thrown a fit, been shocked or embarrassed, but that wasn't Myka. No, Myka had begun her childhood learning how to suppress anger, frustration, disappointment, envy, hope and once her and Tracy were teens, jealousy. Intellectually, she understood that she was justifying excessive emotional restraint as a character strength, an aspect of professional demeanor. It had proven a very useful skill in her life, no matter how obtained, though as an adult she could look back clinically and pity Tracy. Her sister was pretty and charming and that was all, so she had competed so fiercely for their father's approval. Such competition was exhausting.
So when Myka opened the antique wardrobe marked "Do Not Enter: Subjects may become trapped in a parallel dimension" and found Pete and Helena covered in snow and locked in embrace, she kept a straight face and yelled, "I found them!"
Pete and Helena broke apart, looked at her, and started laughing.
"So, looks like you two settled your differences." Myka was aware of her grip tightening on the wardrobe door, the painful press of wood against her fingertips. She lightened her grasp and smiled politely, using a standard timed breathing exercise to keep her pulse steady. There was nothing she could do about the queasy churning of her stomach except ignore it.
"I told you we should've pinky sweared," Pete pointed at Myka while speaking to Helena.
"I don't know what that is and I thought," Helena paused to brush snow out of her hair, smoothing it back and glancing at Myka, "that, under the circumstances, a kiss would be more appropriate."
"Yeah, but now Myka's mad. Look," he waved his finger in the air for emphasis, "no expression." He wiped a hand in the air over his face. "Nada. She's doing the Vulcan thing."
"True." Helena turned that damned, dazzling smile on Myka.
Myka felt a tic at the corner of her eye, mentally cursing it. That smile was so like the one Tracy used to squirm her way out of trouble and into favor. She knew how it worked, so it had no effect. "I'm not angry. Except over wasting five hours trying to find you two in the Warehouse, thinking you'd been whammie, but I see now that my concern was misplaced."
Pete craned around to examine Helena's gradually fading smile. "It's not working."
"I'm not angry," Myka said, pushing down a string twinge of irritation, "just annoyed."
"Oh my, she's bloody furious."
"I know!" Pete exclaimed in satisfied justification. "Look!," he repeated, "she's doing that frozen in place thing."
"Did you know," Helena responded conversationally, "that cats do that right before they rend some hapless animal to pieces?"
Myka unclenched her teeth. "I am not a cat. Swear on what?"
In her peripheral vision, she saw Claudia come skidding to a halt, straighten up, tilting her head back, then take two, slow, cautious steps backward.
"Oh!" Helena clapped her hands together, hopping out of the wardrobe. She shook more snow off her clothes, including what appeared to be a great cloak and was that a sword? "We agreed to share. I'd admit, that while so many things about this century leave me appalled, the changes in sexual mores are liberating." Just for a second, a jiffy really, Helena's expression darkened, likely with some memory, as she muttered something too quietly to understand.
Pete, though, had been watching as he followed her out, and he responded with a quick, gentle touch on Helena's shoulder and just like that, she was smiling again.
Myka looked away, then blinked at the slim but functional epée dangling from Helena's left hip and then caught sight of the axe hanging from Pete's belt.
Pete vigorously wiped snow from his hair and off his boiled leather jerkin. "It was awesome and we totally did," he agreed.
Myka read the placard for the wardrobe, and sighed audibly. She could sense the familiar mix of fury, disappointment and, ever clinically, jealousy, banked by well earned composure. But those emotions were irrelevant and had no useful purpose except in heated combat. God, she missed fencing. "Share what?"
Pete and Helena both stopped and looked at her, wearing different versions of the same small grin.
Claudia had crept up by then, winding her way around the trio, biting her bottom lip with one eye screwed shut. She examined the two miscreants' expressions, then raised her eyebrows at Myka. "I think they mean <i>you</i>." She paused, glancing back at Pete and Helena. "I mean, er, I don't, um, maybe I just read too much fanfic?"
"What? Me? Claudia?"
"Running away now!" Claudia scampered out of range as Myka turned on her.
Pete held out his palm to Helena, "High five!" When she stared at him blankly, he added, "Slap my palm with yours."
Myka turned in time to witness Helena high-fiving Pete. She narrowed her eyes, tamping down a new spread of aggravating emotions, "Share me how?"
Pete pressed his lips together the way he did when he thought she was being especially dense. Helena was less subtle, drawing back as if she'd just seen a second head grow from Myka's shoulder.
Myka unfroze and backed up, waiting for what should have been shock, horror or at the very least, umbrage. "Excuse me? Don't you think I should be involved in that decision. I mean," she stuttered, flapping her arms for emphasis, "we're not even.... How can you...? You-" She turned her back on them, covering her mouth with her hand, two fingers over the bridge of her nose.
She wanted to call Pete a perv and it would have been a joke, some normal, routine teasing and harassment to change the mood, but she'd remembered that look on Helena's face. It wouldn't have been a joke to her and Myka wasn't sleeping with either of them so how dare they? She closed her eyes, still waiting for what should have been shock or horror.
But Pete must have read her mind because he nudged her back, saying, "I am, but we were being perfectly serious this time. If, um, it should ever come up, that is."
"But you needn't answer us now, Darling," Helena added quickly, rescuing Pete from his imminent gaffe. "Fence with me later? Pete says you are quite skilled. I'll even let you win."
Feeling the point of an epée sliding down her back, Myka wheeled around just to glare at Helena and spit back a challenge but Artie had finally arrived on scene.
"Okay, okay," he waved his arms. "All negotiations after work, put away the swords, do not go back in that wardrobe and where's Claudia?"
"Myka scared her off."
"I did not."
"Mine's an axe."
Artie closed his eyes and mouth, holding up his palm for the silence he promptly attained.
Myka swallowed, her mouth dry, as Pete and Helena brushed past her, the first flipping an axe in the air, the latter resting her epée against her shoulder, both grinning, both more charming than Tracy on her best day. "I'll go find Claudia."