Title: Wherever You Find Love, It Feels Like Christmas
Word Count: 7,204 (total)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Seriously, this really needs to be said?
Summary: Mid-Season 2 and onward AU. The holiday season is the perfect time to start over and add a little something new…
AN: I started writing this last year (which is probably why it’s a mite Christina-angst-heavy and not Myka/HG-angst-heavy), but then finals came up and my brain was scrambled like an egg, so I never got around to finishing and posting. It’s probably gonna have a little bit of a different feel to it because I wrote it before Season 3 happened and I was still in finale denial (I mean, I still am, but for this year’s finale). In case the part titles weren’t enough of a hint, there’s a lot of Christmas music referenced in here, so I’ll post a link to the ones I’m referencing specific versions of. And I totally injected this with RL stuff, just for fun.
PS: This ended up being a lot longer than I expected, so I split it into three parts. Blame Myka and HG and the Christmas spirit.
Part One: Hear the Angel Voices
Helena first noticed Myka’s disappearance on the last Sunday evening in November. At about 6:30, the brunette headed into town and didn’t return until after nine, repeating the ritual on Tuesday and Thursday. The next Sunday afternoon, Helena saw Myka backed up against the wall by Claudia, who seemed to be yelling something about “being treated like a little kid.” That night, Claudia disappeared with Myka, joining her on Tuesday as well. On Thursday, Leena joined in on the vanishing act, leaving Helena, to her chagrin, stuck with Pete and Artie.
About a half-hour after Myka, Leena, and Claudia left on Sunday, Pete (finally) stood up from the couch where he’d been absorbed in Call of Duty and stretched. “Artie, I’m going into town to go Christmas shopping. You coming?” A grumbled “no” came from the kitchen, prompting Pete to mutter, “well ‘bah humbug’ to you too” in return.
Helena, seeing her opportunity, leapt to her feet. “I’ll go,” she said quickly. Pete looked at her and shrugged his acquiescence before heading for the door. Helena allowed herself a small smile of triumph as she followed. She even made conversation with Pete in the car to keep him from pestering her, though all the while she was devising a plan as to how to find Myka and the others.
Helena parted ways with Pete after they parked, and she spent a bit of time “window shopping,” as Claudia had described it to her. She was just admiring a thick but stylish overcoat when a very familiar sound reached her ears, and she turned to identify the source; from the church a little way down the road came the unmistakable harmony of voices invoking a Christmas carol. Smiling broadly, Helena hurried down the road to the church, having the sneaking suspicion that that’s where she’d find her friends.
The small choir was practicing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as Helena slipped through the large double doors. As she slowly walked down the aisle and past the pews, she couldn’t help but admire the stained glass windows that spanned the walls. The church was the oldest building in Univille – a high-ceilinged stone building with a bell tower on the far end that chimed the hour. There was a large pipe organ in the back, though there was also a piano to the side of the stepped semi-circle that made up the stage; still, the choir sang a cappella.
Leena saw Helena approach first, and her smile was strangely knowing, even as she kept singing. As Helena got closer, Claudia noticed and waved, a wide grin splitting her face. Myka caught the action and turned to look in Helena’s direction. Her first expression was a mix of shock that Helena was there and guilt and embarrassment that she’d been caught. The brunette recovered quickly though, and gave the other woman a shy smile. Helena smiled in return, but couldn’t help feeling a pang in her heart. Why hadn’t Myka invited her to this? Why was this something she only shared with Claudia and Leena? Myka must have seen the hurt in her eyes because she suddenly looked stricken, and Helena could have sworn she saw her flinch as she lowered her gaze to her music folder.
The hymn ended, and Helena applauded, catching the choir director’s attention. “Welcome!” the woman said cheerily, sporting the hint of an Irish accent. “Come to sing with us?”
Helena met the choir director’s gaze, then looked at the group. There were about fifteen people there, most of them high school or college students with a few more girls than boys. Looking back at the choir director, Helena smiled and shrugged. “Why not?” she replied, taking off her coat.
Upon hearing her accent, the woman grinned. “Excellent!” she said, extending her hand. “I’m Liz.”
“Helena,” Helena replied, shaking her hand. “Pleasure to meet you.”
“And you. Do you know what part you sing?”
“Excellent, excellent, you can stand between Katy and Claudia.” Liz pointed to the space between Claudia and a tall, bespectacled girl with thick brown hair pulled back in a loose bun. Helena thanked the choir director and grabbed a folder of music before going to stand in the indicated spot.
“’Sup, HG?” Claudia asked, grinning as she bumped her shoulder against the other woman’s. Helena couldn’t help but grin in return.
“Right, ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High,’” Liz said, and everyone pulled their music out of their folders. As they did, Helena chanced a look at Myka. The woman still looked rather shamefaced and refused to so much as glance in Helena’s direction. Helena tucked the strange behavior in the back of her mind to inquire about later, turning back to her music.
“You know, we really do need another tenor for this particular piece,” Liz was saying, looking pointedly at Claudia. Claudia met her gaze, then glanced at the two boys standing closest to her. They were both looking at her with rather pleading expressions. After a moment of staring back at them, Claudia rolled her eyes.
“Oh, all right,” she said, prompting the boys to go “yes!” in response. Helena looked at the young woman in surprise.
“You sing tenor, Claudia?”
Claudia shrugged. “Mezzo soprano,” she explained. “I’ve got a bit of a range.”
“Impressive,” Helena said with a smile. Claudia beamed.
The tenors and basses had trouble with their notes, as they had large intervals to jump, and the basses had some difficulty keeping their rhythm, but eventually they mastered their parts as best they could for a first read-through. The alto part wasn’t as difficult, and when Helena began to sing with the rest of the section, she caught a glimpse out of the corner of her eye of Myka snapping her head around to stare at her. When Helena turned to look at her though, the brunette had gone back to staring at her music.
When the sopranos practiced their part, Helena could pick out Myka’s and Leena’s voices immediately – not because the sopranos didn’t sing well together, because they did, but because Helena knew the two women so well. Leena’s voice was high and sweet while Myka’s was full and rich, and it was Helena’s turn to stare at Myka, enchanted and awestruck. Myka must have been able to feel her gaze because her eyes darted briefly in Helena’s direction, and when she and the other sopranos had finished practicing, there was a slight flush to her cheeks.
“Ok, let’s try it all together,” Liz said, and everyone stood a little straighter in preparation. She gave everyone their starting notes before giving them a measure of the tempo. They blended nicely and harmonized well, needing only a few stops for corrections. When they’d finished that song, they practiced “Carol of the Bells” (for which Claudia rejoined the altos) and then ended the session at nine. After spending a brief moment chatting with Liz, Helena said her goodbyes and joined Myka, Leena, and Claudia as they exited the church.
Claudia and Leena enthused about the music as they headed down the sidewalk to where Leena had parked, but Myka and Helena walked side-by-side in silence. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Helena finally asked, voice quiet.
“I’m sorry!” Myka burst out, stopping and turning to Helena. After having held her feelings in for the whole night, her words tumbled forth in a flood. “I wanted to surprise you! I wanted you to come to the service and sit in the front row so you could hear us sing. I wanted to have it be like a Christmas present, and make you smile, and I’m so sorry!” I wanted to sing for you! she added to herself.
When Helena finally took in what the brunette was saying, noticing with dismay that her eyes were filling with tears, she wrapped the woman in a tight hug. “Myka, Myka,” she soothed, stroking her hair. “There’s nothing for you to be sorry for! It was a lovely, lovely thought!” Myka returned the embrace and buried her face in Helena’s shoulder, trying to hide the fact that part of the reason she did so was to savor the woman’s warmth and sweet, unique scent. “I’m touched, Myka, truly,” Helena whispered into her ear before pulling back and smiling, “but I’m even more honored to be singing by your side.”
Myka bit her lip, a shy smile forming on her lips as Helena’s words made her heart flutter. “Thank you,” she mumbled.
“Not at all, darling – thank you,” Helena replied, taking Myka’s hand as the two continued down the street after Claudia and Leena. The feel of Helena’s skin against her own made Myka lightheaded, and she had the brief, giddy wish that she could hold the woman’s hand forever.
The group ran into Pete on their way back to Leena’s car, which saved Helena the trouble of having to hunt him down and assure him she hadn’t been kidnapped. That done, the four women headed back to the B&B, all the while laughing and chatting about rehearsal, even practicing a little, their two-part harmony crystal clear. Though none of the four would say it, they were all happier than they could remember being in a long time.
“All right, ‘O Holy Night,’” Liz said, and everyone rifled through their music in compliance. Myka saw a strange look flicker briefly across Helena’s face, but she couldn’t quite place its meaning. “Who wants to take the solo?” Liz continued.
“Myka does!” Claudia said with a grin. “It’s her faaaaaaavorite.”
“Claudia!” Myka exclaimed, blushing. She noticed that Helena wore the same unreadable expression again, but it passed too quickly for Myka to interpret.
“Do you want to, Myka?” Liz asked.
The brunette bit her lip. “I dunno – I usually have trouble with the high note….”
“I have every faith in you, darling,” Helena said, and something in the soft tone of her voice made Myka suddenly want the solo more than anything.
“Ok,” she agreed.
When Helena heard Myka’s voice on its own, her tentative invocation of the melody echoing throughout the church, she was so overwhelmed that she thought she was going to drop to the ground sobbing. Fall on your knees, / O, hear the angel voices, Helena thought to herself, willing away the tears. Even when Myka had stopped and the other sections learned their parts of the song, the beauty of the brunette’s voice still affected her, making her weak at the knees as her heart nearly doubled its pace. Myka, for her part, was surprised at the ease with which the song came to her. She absolutely adored the carol, but had never been able to sing it as well as she would have liked, her voice always trembling on some notes and faltering on others. Now however, she slid through every note without faltering, her voice carrying strongly throughout the piece. She was so surprised that when it came time to approach the high note, she didn’t have time to be nervous. Instead, she found herself glancing at Helena as she took a deep breath.
“O night divine,” she sang, the held high G and step down to F ringing clearly. “O night… / O night divine!”
There was massive applause when the song was finished, and Myka flushed deeply, though there was a broad grin on her face as she faked a curtsy. She looked over at Helena to see what she thought and was stunned by her reaction. The dark-haired woman was smiling back at her, but the tears she had been fighting so hard to hold back were welling in her eyes, threatening to escape. Myka wanted nothing more than to leap over and hug her and ask her what was wrong and tell her everything would be all right, but then everyone was swept back up into the commotion of changing music, and Myka could only vow to be there for Helena when practice was over.
“Helena, are you all right?” Myka asked the instant they had left the church, taking the woman’s hand. Helena had the irrational temptation to respond that, now that Myka was holding onto her, everything was perfect, but instead smiled sadly, wiping at her eyes.
“I’m fine, darling, it’s just…‘O Holy Night’ was Christina’s favorite carol too.”
“Oh, Helena.” Myka pulled the woman into a gentle embrace, placing one hand on her back as she gently stroked her hair with the other. She didn’t comfort the woman with words; she merely held her, rocking her back and forth in her arms.
Helena closed her eyes and she leaned into Myka, focusing on forever imprinting the feel of Myka’s warm arms to her memory. “Thank you,” it was her turn to murmur.
Christmas Eve, the day of the concert, had Claudia bouncing with excitement as she told Artie about previous rehearsals; Leena baking cookies for the reception with Pete “helping” (mostly by trying to eat the dough, forcing Leena to smack him away with the wooden spoon every so often); and Myka and Helena pacing in their respective rooms, each lost in her own thoughts.
Myka had something she so desperately wanted to tell Helena, but the thought of doing so terrified her. They weren’t distant by any means, but they weren’t exactly close, and hadn’t even so much as…so much as what? What am I expecting? Myka thought. What do I want? She had no idea if the dark-haired woman even felt for her at all, let alone felt the same way Myka did, and Myka was afraid that such a strong revelation of her own feelings would push Helena away. Still, it needed to be said; Myka needed to say it, no matter what the outcome.
Helena was just as anxious, balancing on indecision like a knife-edge. On the one hand, she absolutely couldn’t lose Myka, but on the other, she wanted to know what it was like to have her in the first place. But every day she spent with Myka, every day she heard her laugh and saw her smile, the more her yearning overrode her fears, though it did nothing to quell the nervousness that came with the thought of approaching Myka in the first place. Helena took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm her already-pounding heart and the fluttering in her stomach. She knew what she wanted, and what better night than Christmas Eve to ask for it?
Myka’s and Helena’s decisions and the possible outcomes that would result from them made time seem to both drag by with agonizing slowness, building up the nervous anticipation, and yet simultaneously blink by, leaving no opportunity to prepare eloquent declarations that would most likely be forgotten when the moment came anyway.
Six pm found Leena, Claudia, Myka, and Helena arriving at the church, 6:15 had them burgundy-robed and warming up, and at 6:25, the choir fidgeted in the first two rows of the pews, waiting for their time to stand and sing in the Christmas Eve service. The four girls were delighted when Pete and Artie showed up. Despite being Jewish, Artie had admitted – quite readily, surprisingly enough – that he loved Christmas carols as much as the next person and was willing to “sit through a service if it meant hearing his favorite ladies sing.” Myka and Helena were startled but happy; Leena admitted to Claudia that she’d spiked Artie’s eggnog a little early.
The service was more carols than anything, punctuated by snippets of history and descriptions of various ways Christmas was celebrated both past and present. The songs varied in history and tradition as well, with Claudia and the alto girl Katy taking solos in the Latin hymn “Gaudete” and Leena singing the melody of a rather Gregorian version of “The Little Drummer Boy” while one of the basses accompanied her on a snare drum. Liz played the piano, trusting everyone to know the tempo of each song well enough by that point to keep time themselves.
Myka’s favorite song besides “O Holy Night” was “Christmas Pipes” because of its lighthearted tempo and tune…and because Helena was one of the four soloists. When the dark-haired woman began to sing, Myka had to keep the smug grin off her face at the sight of Pete’s and Artie’s stunned reactions.
“Christmas strings, Christmas strings,
Playing the peace that Christmas brings,
Fiddle and bow, gentle and low,
Play me your Christmas strings!”
When the time came for “O Holy Night,” Helena didn’t even bother trying to hide her smile. Artie and Pete were visibly blown away, completely agape. Helena, as she had been since the first time she heard Myka raise her voice in the familiar words, was overwhelmed by its beauty, by Myka’s beauty, and Helena’s heart sang with her.
“Fall on your knees,
O, hear the angel voices…”
The choir ended with a complicated but glorious rendition of “The First Noel” that they’d spent extra hours practicing in order to perfect. It got them a standing ovation, and Liz’s surreptitious fist-pump of victory put Claudia and two of her tenor friends in fits of laughter.
Following the service were the obligatory cookies, hot chocolate, and socialization, though Claudia had told Helena, along with an accompanying eye-roll, that the words “Artie” and “socialize” were such strongly repelling magnets that they never ended up in the same paragraph, let alone sentence. So Artie took up position in Leena’s shadow while Claudia, Pete, and a couple tenors and basses made up slightly more questionable lyrics to some of the Christmas Carols from the service. Myka was talking with Liz, so Helena took the opportunity to slip outside.
Helena sighed as the cool night air swept across her face, carrying the light snow that had just begun to fall. The sparkle of each snowflake in the moonlight brought a flash of memory, of Christina dancing before her in the same flakes as she tried to catch them on her tongue, and with the image came a wave of sorrow Helena couldn’t fight. She bit her lip, wondering how a single moment alone with her thoughts had turned a beautiful night into such a sad one, and when she turned at the sound of the door opening behind her, a few tears had already escaped down her cheeks.
Myka smiled when she saw Helena, closing the door behind her, but her smile faded the instant she saw her tears. She immediately went to the dark-haired woman and tenderly wiped them away with her thumb, and Helena had to force herself not to shiver at her warm, gentle touch. “Christina?” the brunette asked quietly. When Helena nodded, Myka pulled her into a hug, once again rubbing her back and stroking her hair. “I’m sure she was watching,” Myka murmured, somehow understanding Helena’s pain better than she did for a moment. “She was watching you sing, and I’m sure she’s very proud of you.” Helena buried her face in Myka’s shoulder and the brunette held her tighter. “You sang so beautifully,” Myka continued, if only to fill the silence, but with truth nonetheless. “Your solo was absolutely wonderful.”
Helena gave a little laugh and pulled back to smile at Myka. “My ‘solo’ was sixteen measures, darling; your solo…you were incredible tonight, Myka.”
Myka blushed. “You really think so?”
Helena nodded. “I think Christina would have liked it.”
Myka’s eyes widened; for Helena to say something like that…. Myka was overwhelmed with honor and gratitude and a multitude of feelings she couldn’t even begin to explain or describe. “Thank you,” she whispered, voice hoarse. Without thinking, she leaned in and pressed her forehead against Helena’s, taking her hands. Helena didn’t pull away, instead making soothing patterns with her thumbs on the brunette’s skin.
“You’re welcome,” she replied, brushing her nose against Myka’s.
They stood there framed in snow, silent and soothing, their intimacy new and yet so familiar.
“Helena?” Myka finally began.
“I…I….” She bit her lip, searching for the right words. “It…it just…it doesn’t make sense, but I….” She chose that moment to look up, and the look she saw in Helena’s eyes made her heart soar. It was one of longing and desire and wild hope tightly clung to, and it was all Myka needed.
“I love you, Helena Wells,” Myka said, never breaking her gaze. “I know we barely…that we haven’t even…but I do.”
Helena’s smile was brilliant as her laugh of relief and happiness left her in a gasp. “Oh, Myka,” she replied as she caught her breath. “Myka, I love you too, with all my heart.”
They laughed and cried all at once as they held each other in a fierce embrace, rocking back and forth on the sidewalk as they let themselves get lost in each other’s arms. When both had calmed, they pulled back just far enough to look at each other, once again pressing their foreheads together, giddy smiles never leaving their faces.
“I can’t explain it,” Myka said, breathless. “It just feels right…like I’d be incomplete without it – without you.” Helena said nothing in reply, instead cupping Myka’s cheek and pulling her in for a kiss.
To Myka, the rest of the world was suddenly inconsequential. All that mattered was the warmth of Helena’s lips, soft and sweet, pressed gently against hers, and Myka could taste every ounce of love that radiated from her. Swept up in the moment, Myka could only cling to her tightly and give her love in turn.
As the warmth of Myka’s love washed over her, Helena allowed herself to be lost in the woman’s embrace, the kiss consuming everything. At the cautious sweep of the brunette’s tongue against her lips, Helena willingly and eagerly opened her mouth to accept it, sliding her own tongue against Myka’s, drinking in the woman’s unique taste that Helena knew she could never get enough of. She felt Myka hold her a little tighter, and the dark-haired woman returned the embrace, pressing their bodies flush against each other as she tangled her fingers in Myka’s hair. Myka’s whimper of appreciation did not go unnoticed, and it prompted Helena to deepen the kiss even further, whimpering herself as Myka moved her hands up her back and into her hair, weaving her fingers through the ebony strands to pull the woman closer.
They had no idea how long they’d been caught in that warmth-in-winter heaven when the sound of the church door opening made them spring apart. They turned to see that Claudia was poking her head outside. “Hey, guys, I was wondering where you’d gone off to.”
“Just getting some air,” Myka said with feigned calm and innocence, hands in her coat pockets. Helena, however, was trying to hold back her elated grin along with the urge to start dancing up and down the sidewalk.
“Ok, well, we’re gonna be leaving soon, so we’ll see you out here in a few minutes.”
“Ok,” Myka called after her as she disappeared from the doorway. The instant the door had closed Helena gave in, bursting into joyous laughter as she spun in circles, arms outstretched. Myka broke into a wide grin of her own, catching Helena on her next spin and lifting her from her feet, swinging her around. Laughing all the harder, Helena let her joy ring out to the snow and stars before taking Myka’s face in her hands and tilting her head for another sweet kiss.
Extended AN: All the RL references are from a Christmas performance I did last year. I still wear glasses, but ten inches of that brown hair was mailed out to Locks of Love today. I did in fact sing the tenor part for every song in that concert except for “Carol of the Bells,” where I switched back to alto, and in “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” the basses and tenors really did have trouble with the rhythm and the jumps (which is why I still remembered both parts when it came time for this year’s concert). The verses in “Gaudete” were solos when we sang them, and I did in fact take the solo…in soprano. When I was singing the chorus in tenor. Yeah. I’d post a link to the gorgeous Pachelbel “Noel” we did, but none of the YouTube ones are the right one. I might have to record it myself. Enjoy the music!