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Belonging

Chapter Text

Belonging

 

“Mrs. F, do you smell apples?” A slightly alarmed Claudia Donovan asked her boss Irene Frederic as they sat in the Artie’s office inside of Warehouse 13.

 

Irene merely chuckled at her protégé. “Yes, Ms. Donovan, I do. That’s a good thing. It means the Warehouse is Happy with you.” She explained. 

 

“The Warehouse...is...happy with me.” Claudia said slowly, casting her charcoal lined eyes upward. “Well that shouldn’t surprise me, yet it does.” 

 

“Well today is a unique day, Ms. Donovan.” Mrs Frederic said with some sadness. Though she didn’t show it, she’d aged and was starting to fade. 

 

Claudia has aged as well, she’d gone from a bitter lost young woman, to a secure and happy adult woman who knew what she wanted. 

 

After being an agent long enough that her original team was retiring in their own ways, she knew it was time to take over as caretaker. (Though it was true, no one left the Warehouse unless it was feet first.)

 

Steve Jinks: her first partner, was being schooled by Artie Nielsen to take over his position as Warehouse “husband”. Artie was getting older, though he still looked very much the same as he did when they met. Claudia suspected the Warehouse had something to do with it. 

 

Pete and Myka (Bering) Lattimer: After many years of fighting their chemistry, the two gave in to it, and started dating. They’d even gotten married. Myka is pregnant with their first child, so the pair took over the care and looking after of Lena's bed and breakfast. Where all Warehouse agents lived. 

 

Claudia took a slow, deep breath in and out to steady herself as Artie came down the stairs from his loft bedroom within the office.

 

The two women were dressed alike, Irene in her fifties style tweed skirt suits and pearls complete with a beehive hair do and glasses. 

 

Claudia was also dressed in a black skirt suit but with her punk flair: leather material, pins and chains. Her red hair that was streaked with a rich blue was in a fancy updo similar to a beehive. 

 

Artie was amused and touched by Claudia’s emulation of Mrs Frederic, whether it was intentional or not. He wondered what Irene thought. He approached his desk and opened his bag and pulled out the green silk caretaker ribbon.

 

Gently, Artie attached the ribbon first to Mrs Frederic, then to Claudia. A green light surrounded Irene, then Claudia, and it went bright and fast throughout the Warehouse. Irene sagged a little in the chair. It was done.

 

Claudia Donovan was now Caretaker of Warehouse 13.

Chapter Text

Part Two

Claudia opened her eyes, instantly zeroing in on Mrs Fredric. “Mrs. F? Are you alright?” she asked gently, daring to touch the older woman’s arm.

“Yes, Ms. Donovan. I am.” said Mrs. Frederic, her voice low and heavy. “I just need to rest.” she rose up slowly from the chair with Artie’s help. Together they slowly went upstairs, their voices soft as they talked. Claudia had no idea what it was about. She should be used to that by now. The two of them had a bond all their own.

Claudia wrapped her arms around herself and walked out of Artie’s office. Her heels clicked as she paced the walkway outside of the office. The spiral staircase took her down to the main level of the warehouse. “Well it’s just gonna be you and me.” she murmured softly to the warehouse, walking along the isles. She paused, closed her eyes and tried to see what surprise being the caretaker would bring.

She thought of the most obscure artifact she could think of, which was Gary Coleman’s SAG card. She could see in her mind’s eye the exact path needed to locate it, what it did (filled the holder with overwhelming sadness), and how long it had been there for.

Just then, a chill went through Claudia. Something was wrong with Mrs Fredrick, she knew it deep in her bones. She hurried back to Artie’s office and up the winding staircase to his room.

In the time Claudia had been gone, Adwin Kosan had come to the warehouse. He had his fingers wrapped around one of Mrs Frederick’s wrists. He glanced over at Artie who stood on the other side of the bed and then he locked eyes with Claudia.

“She’s gone.” He said simply, sadness shining in his eyes.

Claudia collapsed beside the bed and began to cry. She felt Artie’s hand gently rub her back. Artie’s presence and touch soothed her, keeping her hands in his, he helped Claudia back on her feet.

“Authur, I’ll take care of this.” Adwin murmured softly, patting Artie on his back as he and Claudia passed him.

The walk through the umbilicus to the front entrance felt like it was an eternity. When they opened the door leading to the outside, they were instantly blinded by the sun. Claudia shielded their eyes as she was a head taller than Artie.

The sound of gravel crunching had them looking over as Pete and Myka’s SUV pulled abruptly. They could hear Pete’s apology to Myka and their unborn child as he scrambled out of the car.

“What happened?” Pete demanded as he helped Myka out of the vehicle. “I got hit with a helluva vibe. A big one.”

“Well as you know, Mrs Frederick passed her caretaker ability on to Claudia this morning. But, uh, shortly after...she passed away.” Artie said softly.

A sob escaped Claudia’s lips and was wrapped in a group hug. No one said anything as they let their tears flow. Myka drew away first, she wiped her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Sorry.” she said, her voice cracking as she rubbed her belly. “I have to pee.”

Light laughter broke the seriousness of the moment. “I’ll call Steve and Liam.” Pete said as he stepped away, allowing Myka to pass them and head into the Warehouse and use the restroom. Artie led Claudia to his classic car.

Pete jogged over to them. “They are on their way back from Ohio.” he said, closing the car door for Claudia after she slid inside. Artie nodded.

“We’ll see you back at Leena’s.” he told Pete as he turned on the car. Pete nodded and stepped back as the car pulled away from the Warehouse and towards the B&B.

Chapter Text

Part Three

Back at the B&B, the group gathered in the living room. Myka made tea and set it on the coffee table. She then settled on the sofa between Pete and Claudia, cuddling close to her husband but taking Claudia’s hand in hers, Pete extended his arm around Myka’s back and reached with his other hand and rested it on top of Myka and Claudia’s. Artie stood and watched as they comforted each other.

It wasn’t the first time they lost someone they held dear and it would not be the last. Artie’s gaze went to Claudia, who kicked off her shoes and had her fishnet stocking covered feet on display. Her life was now extended due to becoming caretaker. Artie knew Mrs. Frederick had shown her years before, just how it worked but he wondered if that fact hit her yet. She would outlive them all and then some. Artie sat in a wingback chair with a sigh.

Adwin entered the B&B, surveying the group. “We’ve suffered a great loss today.” he said as a way of greeting. “Any case, anyone working on it can wait a day. Be with each other, be present.”

Steve and Liam rushed in, coming to a halt before Adwin. Adwin smiled at them sadly. “Gentleman, I’m sorry for your loss... All of our loss.” he amended. He shook their hands and left as quickly as he appeared.

“Who was that dapper gentleman?” Liam asked, intrigued.

“Adwin Kosan.” Artie said blandly, “He’s a regent. The head regent typically.”

“Oh, okay.” Liam said, still sounding lost. His gaze went to his husband, who knelt in front of his best friend. He joined Steve on the floor.

Artie watched the group and just felt out of place. Alone. “I’m gonna go upstairs for a minute.” he told them and rose. He climbed the stairs and found himself looking in Claudia’s bedroom doorway. It still had the posters he’d given her on her twenty-first birthday, and her collection of guitars but now had an adult edge to it.

He wandered in and sat down on her bed. He took a deep breath, breathing in her scent that lingered. It comforted him. He closed his eyes and laid back. He wasn’t aware of how much time had passed but he heard a soft voice say “knock, knock.” from the doorway.

He opened his eyes and saw Claudia studying him with a sad smile on her face. She stepped into the room and sat on the edge of her bed and took off her shoes, sliding them beneath the bed. She walked to the other side and sat down, then laying down beside him.

Cautiously, Artie rolled on his side so they faced one another. “Knock knock was the first thing you said to let us know you’d broken into the Warehouse.” He said fondly.

“What can I say, I know how to make an entrance.” Claudia assured him.

“That you do.” Artie agreed with a small soft chuckle.

They fell into a comfortable silence. Just watching each other. “You know, you can stay here tonight. It’s not like we don’t have rooms here. Hell, you can even sleep in here with me if you want.” Claudia offered softly. “You should be with your family tonight. Plus I don’t know if me taking over as caregiver causes any changes to the Warehouse.”

A jumble of emotions ran through Artie. “Well I do know the Warehouse would still watch over me.” He assured Claudia with certainty.

Claudia didn’t doubt that for a minute. “It’s up to you, Artie. But I prefer you not be alone.”

Artie nodded.