Safe as Houses
Title: Safe as Houses
Disclaimer: Warehouse 13 belongs to Jack Kenny and David Simkins.
A/N: These drabbles won't always be in chronological order.
A/N 2: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.
People like Leena were rare – empaths would be the common name but that term didn't seem to cover enough ground for his liking. (She was more..)
No one knew how people acquired gifts. The Warehouse was always on the lookout for those that had even a tinge and could be trained. But with Leena's family at least it appeared to be genetic.
You would enter the B&B down in Georgia and be approached by any one of them - greeted by a warm smile and kind eyes and something in you would immediately relax. Your things were taken to a room that was somehow just to your liking and a few moments later there would be a knock on the door and a giggling child with the same curly hair as everyone else would hand you milk and a plate of cookies that tasted like memories.
Warmth, comfort, family, safety, home – even if you found it nowhere else, you would feel it in these walls. From these people.
Leena's family weren't recruited as agents – none of them ever had been, but they had known about the Warehouse since it was in the US. Had been a valuable resource for the Warehouse, a place for them to relax and de-compress. The B&B was credited as the only reason that all agents (and Regents) didn't go crazy.
Naturally, it couldn't last forever.
It was negligence not anger or vengeance – just simple negligence which almost feels worse when he thinks about it. If they had just been more careful…. but they weren't. The agents had been stupid, so stupid…
They had known the woman was close to a breakdown but they thought maybe just some time away from it all where she could breathe a little and work on her hobby.
Painting. Gods, painting. How could they be so stupid not to check her? How couldn't anyone notice that her brushes looked oddly old fashioned.
Jules Bastien-lepage. French artist in the mid-1800s know for his….fuck, for his realism
The woman had been set up with her easel in the living room concentrating hard as she painted. Her eyes had gone glassy and she started to breathe laboriously.
Leena's mother had been passing through and noticed – noticed the pull of the agent's life force from her center, down her arm, and onto the canvas. She called to her, snapped her fingers in front of her face. Then she tried to pull her arm away.
That's when the screaming started.
The screaming…he still remembers hearing the screaming through Ms. Fredrick's Farnsworth. It was almost too much, not too loud – just somehow too much
, to hear them screaming. (They were joy, they were life, they were comfort, they shouldn't be…..).
But Leena and Jonathon were scrunched together in front of the little black and white screen. Siblings and so similar in their expressions of bravery. The way every time a familiar voice would get louder (or stop) they clenched their jaws and breathed slowly through their noses – keeping their eyes steady and refusing to look, refusing to be distracted from Ms. Fredricks instructions of how they could possibly stop this.
They found the spare pair of purple gloves in the agent's luggage and each took one. With one last deep breath and one last shared sad smile they got to work.
Determinedly not listening or looking at the people (their family
) and ignoring the pull they were feeling from even being in the room, they grabbed the painting with their gloved hands (separating the connection without touching the paintbrush itself). They hurriedly took it over to the wall where another painting already hung.
Leena shoved the old painting until it clattered to the floor and they placed the new one on the wall. It tilted to the left threatening to fall as well and Jonathon reached out to brace automatically – reached out and touched the painting with his other hand.
His bare hand.
He didn't scream – he gave a surprised choking sound as he dropped to the floor. Leena stared, she stared for a long suspended moment before taking a deep controlled breath crouching down while bracing the painting one-handed…..and carefully removing the glove from her brother's hand and putting it on her own.
She stood slowly and with both hands firmly straightened and pressed the painting to the wall so that it no longer was pulling from any people, it was now connected to the house itself. There was an odd fusing noise as it stuck in place and then there was silence.
Abrupt absolute silence.
She didn't want to turn around, didn't want to look because part of her already knew. Could already feel the lack of life in her family's bodies surrounding her (or more correctly, she supposed re-directed life).
Those bodies were empty but – oh, oh this painting was full of life. Such a realistic image of their living room, you could even see the way the light slanted through the window. The way that wall had a few lumps in the paint. All that was missing were the corpses on the floor. All that was missing were the eight bodies that had fueled it.
She gave a choked laugh and closed her eyes not wanting to look anymore. She turned around and let her back slide down the wall until she hit the floor and still she kept her eyes closed.
When her hand hit a warm familiar body beside her she closed them tighter – closed them tighter and carded her fingers through her brother's familiar curly hair for the last time.
Her eyes were still closed and she was still in the same place when he arrived with Ms. Frederick's more than an hour later.
And they had thought she was dead too, she never opened her eyes until he reached over to check her pulse.
"It hurts," she said, her gaze piercing him.
"I – If you're hurt we can get you to a doctor or," he had stumbled.
"We can feel others but we were always connected to each other," she continued as if he hadn't said anything. "And I can still feel them. It's muted and it's not from their -," her voice waivered and her still gloved hand in her brother's hair tensed but she kept eye contact, "their bodies. It's from that," she pointed up with her other hand. "But it's all pain. They were in so much pain when they died, Artie," she told him and he couldn't help the slight twitch of surprise. He hadn't been aware that she actually knew his name.
"You're connected to the painting as well?" Ms. Frederick's voice asked behind him and he jumped again at her sudden appearance.
Leena's gaze traveled slowly from him up to his boss and then she nodded in answer. "I could feel the pull as soon as we entered the room."
"I see," Ms. Fredrick said.
"You see?" he demanded. "You see what? What do you see?"
Ms. Frederick raised an eyebrow at his tone, tilting her head toward the dazed young woman for a moment and feeling slightly ashamed but not willing to entirely back down he nodded, clamored awkwardly to his feet and followed the other woman a bit out of earshot.
"Jules Bastien-lepage's paintbrush is the original artifact to cause all of the trouble here, but in doing so it appears another artifact was created," she said calmly, keeping her eyes on Leena the entire time. The woman had closed her eyes again as soon as they left her direct line of sight.
"Where?" he asked right away, looking around the room.
Ms. Frederick's eyes never left Leena and with a sinking feeling he turned to gaze at her as well.
"How?" he simply whispered.
"I am not entirely sure," Ms. Fredrick admitted. "But we never have been with artifacts. What we do know is that everyone in this house was killed by that paintbrush. Their life forces were pulled into that painting and now that painting is connected to the house."
"Everyone but Leena," he noted.
"Yes," she agreed. "But Leena started to feel the pull of the painting as soon as she entered the room. She was connected to seven of the eight that were killed. She is now linked to the painting-"
"-and therefore the house," he finished. "How will that work? Will she be able to live a normal life or will it be proximity based, will she be trapped here? Will she even age now? – "
"We don't know, Arthur," Ms. Fredrick's snapped harshly, turning to look at him again before lowering her voice abruptly. "We don't know," she repeated, more calmly, "but we do owe her. This was our fault, our mistake. And the Warehouse – the Regents will do whatever they have to – to make this right," she whispered fiercely. "Now. You will stay with Leena. I have some calls to make." She turned on her heel to leave.
Something hit Artie abruptly making him feel even more blundering and emotionally awkward. "They were your friends weren't they?" he asked.
Ms. Fredrick's stopped in the doorway, her back rigid and her head bowed. There was a body right near her feet. He saw her hands clench. "Watch the girl," she said again and left the room.