Work Header

Whoops! Science Mistake

Work Text:

This. This was worse than being on the Eldridge, soaked in her own lunch and being interrogated by Macho Man Bill Donovan.

(Okay. Not worse. Just weird. Really weird. But uh...sort of fun.)

At least she'd managed to drag Esther into this, even if the general sense of banding together through hardship was sort of lost with the way she was making heart eyes at June Barlowe. 

(Does she think she's being subtle? That's cute.)

And at least Helen doesn't hate her quite so much anymore, after her husband had got his funding back, and her team had merged with his. She's still terrifying, obviously, with her perfectly coiffed hair and the careful way she looks at you, like she's taking everything in about you and storing it away for later.

But it's better, marginally. 

Or at least enough to invite her to lunch, or whatever this is, exactly. 

It's more like...loosely structured social gathering, with tittering about Polvo gossip that she didn't even know existed before this point.

It's mostly nonsense to Sally - she hasn't been here long enough to know many names. Hell, she doesn't even know the names of everybody in this...what is it, a sitting room? 

Mostly she ends up just nodding along or interjecting with the things she does know about. No, Jack Wyatt hasn't got a girlfriend, he couldn't flirt to save his life, and yeah, as far as she's aware, Donovan has been in a bad mood because he and the Missus had an argument.

That she knew for sure, because he'd acted like it was no big deal at the time, but ever since then he'd been sulking around like someone kicked his puppy or something. So that was it.

He didn't have to do that - she was mourning it too! She was the one who didn't get to go home, ever and had to suffer whenever it was that they decided to make jello salad out of eveything. 

(She foresaw Helen liking that trend. A lot. Why? Dunno. Just struck her.)

This isn't so bad, though. She doesn't have to worry about any of the thousand things that could've gone wrong with the time piece, or leading a team, or checking her emails every ten minutes!

Actually, she kind of misses that last one, actually. It had been - will be? - an inconvenience, but what she wouldn't give for a spam email, even. 

The luncheon goes on for far longer than it probably ought to, all things considered. Sally was planning to drag herself back to the lab at one. It's a weekend, but anywhere's better than her tiny, empty house, right? Just 'cause it's a weekend, the productivity doesn't stop. But it's almost four thirty, and somehow the five of them, (Her, Esther, June, Helen, and a lady named Lucy who's married to a security officer for one of the labs and apparently lives across the street from Helen) are still talking. 

And it's uh...Kind of growing on her. 

June excuses herself then, about four thirty. Esther goes not long after, which tells Sally everything she knows about her friends motives for coming today. Twenty minutes later Lucy starts citing her own reasons to up and leave. Three minutes and twenty-eight seconds later Sally stands up, and Helen waves her off. 

"You don't have to go," she says. "Anthony won't be home for a while, anyways and I'm sure you know how lonely an empty house can get."

She's not sure whether she's supposed to be insulted or not. " Uh - yeah. Okay." Because she's still having a good time. "He works on weekends?"

"You don't?" She counters, assuming a more relaxed position on the sofa, with her legs tucked under her and her arm across the back of the couch.

(She's pretty. That purple-y red really just looks nice with her dress, and actually Sally wouldn't mind seeing if her curly hair is as soft as it looks, but oh my god that's Helen she's thinking about like Helen Partridge, holy shit no.) 

"Well," she laughs nervously, scratching at the back of her neck and trying to recover from the little revelation that she finds Helen super pretty. "You've got me there, I guess. I was actually gonna skip back into the lab after this." 

"I kind of figured," Helen smiles. "I know it's important work, and I don't deign to understand anything other than the base concept of it all, but I really think you two could stand to have an afternoon or two away from it all."

"I mean, I can't leave Polvo anyways, so -" Ah shit. Nobody's supposed to know about that. "Wait, no. I mean -"

Helen just laughs again, airily and light. "Let me guess, you weren't supposed to tell anyone that, because they'd ask questions? We all know you aren't exactly normal, Sally. Not after the way you showed up shook things up the way it did. I want to know, but if you can't tell me, I won't ask."

That is...huh. "That's more restraint than I would have expected from the woman who seems to have her fingers in every pie in Polvo."

"I've had plenty of practice with the whole 'Classified' thing. Can I get you another glass of lemonade, maybe? Or do you really have to get back?"

"Actually? That sounds great, if I'm really not intruding."

Helen comes back in with the pitcher of lemonade in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other. She's got a little smug smile on her face as she toes off her shoes without spilling a drop and goes back to her place on the couch, tucking her legs up underneath her. She pours one with gin, the other without before looking at Sally. "You want some?"

And ah, what the hell, right? It is the weekend. "Hit me," she says and Helen gives her a look. "I'd love some."

The gin and lemonade doesn't stop until they run out of lemonade. Then it's just gin.

"- and I just want to feel pretty, you know?"

Sally nods, even though she does not. Helen's not watching, she's staring up glassy-eyed towards the front window. 

"So I open up my underwear drawer, and there is a metal box with lights and dials on it!"

"At least that'll keep the moths away?"

Will it? 

"It's - let me go get it! Maybe you can tell me what it is!"

Helen stumbles a little as she stands up, but at least Helen isn't wearing her heels anymore. Even as drunk and she currently is, she knows that one would be disastrous. She comes back in a minute later, swaying like in the wind and holding a box that matches her description.

The lights flash in a fascinating pattern, and she really, really wants to twist those dials or click those buttons. But as for a purpose. "No fuckin' clue! Let's push some buttons and see what happens." Okay, so she's biased, because Drunk Sally really likes flashing lights and dials and buttons. What's the big deal though, right? It's probably harmless. Partridge is a mathematician, not a...Whatever the science is that makes shit like this.

It makes little clicks and beeps when you mess with it, and after a minute or two Helen takes notice of this and starts messing with the thing, and that's all well and good for about ten seconds until Sally twists a dial on one side and Helen one on the other.

It hurts. 

And then suddenly it doesn't except she's eighty percent sure something is wrong except what is it?

Helen swears, a strong of curses that sound foreign in her mouth in more ways than one, and Sally shoots to her feet with a "What?"

And it hits her all at once. She looks over at Helen-Who-Is-Not-Helen. Because Helen looks like her, and she's suddenly tall enough that she has to look like Helen.

"Fuck," No, no. She doesn't want to panic Helen, or something. She's too drunk to deal with this. "It's fine, we'll just wait for Partridge to come home, he'll know how to fix it."

So they sit in silence for a minute, (well, Sally stands) until she remembers something and reached up to mess with her - Helen's hair. Ohhhhh yeah. Very soft. She was absolutely right, before.

"Sally, what are you doing with my hair? " Except, yeah, wait. That's her own voice asking. Freaky.

"Nothing. Force of habit. It's soft."

"...Well, thank you?"

Once her hair has been sufficiently poked and prodded and bounced, Sally nods and sits back down, nearly falling since her balance is just...strange.

They sit in silence for a while, Sally almost falling asleep, when the front door opens and shuts, and Anthony's large figure comes in to the living room, humming. Her doesn't seem to notice Helen-as-Sally on the other side of the couch, just says, "Helen, honey, I'm home!" And leans in, and she panics.

"Anthony Partridge don't you dare put those lips on my lips or I swear to god you'll end up swimming with the fishes or whatever the hell you people say!"


(It's funny that he recognizes her so fast, even in the wrong body.)

"I don't kiss! I'll cuddle, if you want because I like you, and I like a good cuddle, but lips anywhere are's gross, okay! I don't have to justify myself to you, or anyone else, and I reserve the right to jump off this crazy train at any point, and I'm gettin' off right here, man!"

"Okay. I'm uh...Helen?"

"Hmm?" Helen-as-Sally answers.

"Did you touch this?" He points to the box on the glass coffee table.

"A little," She says, which is absolutely a lie because the way Sally remembers it, they were messing with it a lot. More than was strictly necessary, probably. Like kids in a goddamn science candy store.

Partidge puts his head in his hands. "That 's not - we don't have a way to fix that, yet. Are you two...were you drinking?"

"A little," Herself-as-Helen says, which is also an absolute lie.