Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 1 of 29

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Helena flopped onto her bed, utterly exhausted. The past three days at home had been some of the longest she'd ever had. She'd spent her first day back from the Mirrorworld at her mother's side, even though she slept most of the time. Her mother was recovering well, and Helena had gone and said all of her apologies the second day after she'd woken up. They had cried together, and Helena had realized what was the most important thing in her life wasn't where she was – the circus, the Mirrorworld, real life. It was who she was with that mattered. Now that her mother was on the mend, Helena's father had returned to the troupe to tell them the circus was back on. Her mom would have to stay behind for this first leg of the trip, but the circus would start moving again. Helena had offered to stay with her for a while. She rolled onto her back, staring up at the ceiling and recalling the conversation she'd had with her father last night.

"You've got other jugglers, Dad. I think one of us should stay with Mum and we both know it can't be you."

"I should stay," he said. He was torn, between his love and the people who relied on him to take care of them.

"She'll be cross if you do. The circus would fall apart without you," Helena smiled. "I can stay."

"Are you sure, Bambino?"

She hugged her father, "I want to. I really do."

Helena smiled, recalling the catastrophe of her father trying to pack for the circus circuit without her mother there to help him remember what he needed. Near the end, Nan and she were just sitting on the couch and watching the show as her father ran around like a chicken with his head cut off.

Helena smiled and shifted her head on the pillow, a hard object making her adjust her head again. She wouldn't admit that part of her motivation to stay behind was entirely selfish. She needed to be near her mum, of course. But she also had some unfinished business to take care of. The MirrorMask hidden under her pillow had reinforced the fact that it hadn't been a dream. That everything had actually happened. She had to get back, to return the Mask, to see Valentine. He hadn't been a dream, after all. Helena smiled to herself and reached under the pillow to trace the hard edges of the mask. Everything had been real.

Tonight, with Dad at the circus getting everyone packed up and ready to leave early in the morning and Mum still in hospital, it was the perfect night. Helena sat up and listened at the door. Nan had toddled off to bed about an hour ago, which meant she was probably asleep by now. Helena grabbed her backpack and slipped the MirrorMask into it. She was heading towards the door when she paused and glanced at her feet. She went back into her closet and put on proper shoes, without bunnies. She put the backpack on and slipped out of her bedroom. Helena hesitated in the hall then snuck out of the apartment, up to the roof. She'd come out through his Tower, hopefully she'd land back in it.

Helena took a breath and grabbed onto the Mask with both hands. She didn't want to entertain the thought that it wouldn't work. So she didn't hesitate. She placed her face against the glass. Everything was very cold and she couldn't breathe, but before she could panic it was over and the feeling rushed back into her body. Helena took off the mask and looked around to find herself in Valentine's Tower.

"Valentine?" she shouted, feeling a little foolish. She put the Mask into the backpack she brought and walked around the floor. There wasn't any answer, so she went to the front door.

It opened up just outside the gates of the City of Light. Helena grinned too see people returning rather than leaving and parts of the City being rebuilt after the shadows. She joined the crowd, searching for a billowing white robe.

She was heading in the general direction of the Queen of Light's castle. If she didn't find Valentine before then, she'd return the Mask to her Majesty before resuming her search. She'd gone a few blocks before realizing she was very turned around. She looked back, trying to find Valentine's Tower to give her some idea of what direction she was heading in.

The spire rose up, catching her eye a little more to the right than she would like. As she looked at it, she saw a figure pass by one of the upper windows. She must've just missed him. It was only the decision of a second to turn around and job back towards the Tower.

She'd almost reached the City limits when she saw a white robe whip around a corner. She followed it, recognizing that spikey hair anywhere. He had stopped at a booth, flipping a coin around his fingers as he looked at the food…or something like it…that lay in the buckets.

He had yet to see her, so she grinned at the chance to surprise him. She took off running, and he turned at the last second, allowing her to throw her arms around his waist. "Valentine!"

She heard the coin hit the ground as he breathed out sharply and grabbed her shoulders to pull her back and look at her, "You're here."

"Of course I'm here," she laughed. "You didn't think I'd forget you, did you?" She wished she could see his eyes; though she knew he was staring at her, she couldn't tell what he was thinking.

"I thought…" he shook his head.

Something felt off so she tried to fix it. "Besides, somehow this came through with me." She opened up her bag and revealed the MirrorMask. "It belongs with the White Queen."

Valentine dropped his hands off of her shoulders. "Of course. Right."

He rubbed his wrist absentmindedly and she cocked her head at him, "Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"You just seem…I don't know." She forced a smile, "Did you have another fight with your Tower?"


"…what are you doing out here?" she tried.

He looked around and grabbed his coin just before a sphinx got to it. "I was shopping. You see, some people have to eat."

"I can help you carry your stuff back."

He hesitated and avoided her eyes as he straightened. "If you insist."

"I do." She smiled at him and the corner of his mouth quirked up.

"You're a stubborn, disgusting girl. You went home and you still couldn't find yourself a proper face?" he asked her.

Helena stuck out her tongue, feeling more at ease with him now. He shuddered and looked down at her feet. "At least you finally found shoes that weren't monstrous, torture devices."

She grinned, glad she took that extra second to change them

Valentine handed her a basket, "Take this, will you?"

She did and he loaded it up with round, blue things and lumpy, yellow things. They smelled like lemons and raisins, but she would bet her life they didn't take anything like them.

"What are these?" she asked him as they moved from cart to cart.

"Well, these are palimpuffs. And those yellowish ones are apostrophels."

She stared at the back of his head in disbelief as he kept going.

"Then we've got the commaquats and exclamaturnips."

"You're making these up," she told him, laughing.

"You can't expect me to know the names of everything," he said, taking a big bite of one of them.

"But you eat it without knowing what it is?" she asked him.

"I get hungry."

"You sound like a sphinx, 'Hungry, hungry'," she imitated.

He shuddered again, "Must you do that?"

"Hungry," she said again.

Valentine snatched up a small, purple, diamond shape and popped it into her mouth to keep her quiet. "Chew on that, Helena-na."

She did, and though it had the consistency of tapioca pudding, it tasted like lemon meringue. "Mmm," she managed through her mouthful.

Valentine grinned at her, "Knew something would get you to shut up."

She swallowed and asked, "So you've been well since I left?"

His grin faded and he turned back to his shopping. "Of course. I've got me Tower back. I've got money enough for food. It's a good day to be me."

She smiled though he wasn't looking at her, "Isn't it always a good day to be a very important man?"

"Yes, it is, maskless girl."

Helena grinned and bumped her hip into him. He smirked and tossed a ball that she didn't know he had. She only had one hand free because of the basket, so she grabbed it and tossed it back. He caught it and suddenly there were three balls in the air that he juggled as they walked. Helena looked in the basket and found a…a commaquat and tossed it into his loop.

"Oi!" he shouted, catching the rhythm without any difficulty at all, despite his protest.

Helena giggled and grabbed another one to throw in. Valentine stopped, catching one commaquat after another until he had ten in the air at once. He was smirking, his talent drawing spectators to crowd around him. He glanced at her and Helena dropped the basket in time to catch the commaquat he threw at her. Soon they were juggling in unison and coins were being dropped into the basket by Helena's feet.

She grinned through the juggling at Valentine. He had to be the best jugglers she'd ever met in her life. She was managing, but barely. He wasn't even breaking a sweat. He could probably handle another five, at least.

He met her eyes and smiled. And then he jerked like he'd been burnt, missing the catch.

The balls and commaquats tumbled to the ground, except for the ones Helena managed to catch. The crowd around them clapped and then moved away, a few more coins dropping into their basket before they dissipated.

"Butterfingers," she said with a smile, picking up the rest of the fruit.

Valentine was frowning, rubbing his wrist. He didn't even crack a smile at her as he gathered up the fruit and tossed it into the basket with accuracy.

"Are you okay?" she asked him, reaching out to touch his arm.

He sat back out of her reach, "I've…I've gotta head back to my Tower."

He tried to pick up the basket, but she snatched it up. "I'll help."

"You don't have to."

She shrugged, "I'd like to." If he was hurt, she wasn't going to just send him off alone.

They started back, the coins jangling at the bottom of the basket among the food Valentine had put there. They'd reached the city gates and he took the basket from her. "I've got it from here."

"Don't be silly. I came in through the Tower."

"What?" He stopped and faced her. "You did what?"

"I'm sorry. I came in through the window I left from. I didn't know if it would work, but it did."

"You were there? And you…you didn't…"

She stared at him, confused. "I came out and looked for you."

Valentine looked back at his Tower, "She let you out?"

She laughed a little, "Why would your Tower keep me from leaving? I never upset it."

"Right. That was me," he said, shaking his head and starting to walk again. "You sure you want to leave from my Tower again?"

"Of course, that's where my room was."

They reached his Tower and Valentine pushed open the door. He looked around like he hadn't seen the inside of it before. Like he was looking for something.

"Is there more than the City of Light?" Helena asked as Valentine carried the basket into what appeared to be a kitchen.

"What do you mean?" he asked her, sounded distracted as he put things away. It was odd. The commaquats went in a bowl. The exclamaturnips went into a basket that hung by a window. And the apostrophels and palimpuffs both went into cupboards, but on different shelves. It was like the fruit needed to be segregated.

"Is there more to this world than the City of Light and the Land of Shadows?"

"Sure. Everything in between. The Murky Mines, the Foggy Forest, the Clouded Castle, the Misty Mines."

"You said Mines twice."

"I might be making them up."

Helena laughed. "I'd like to see it all. When I come back next, maybe you could take me to see some of them?"

"That's not a good idea," he said.

"Why not?"

"Some of those places are really dangerous. And when I say really dangerous, I only mean wildly, definitely, everything will kill us dangerous," he said.

She grinned. "It'll be fun."

"No, it wouldn't," he retorted, shaking his head and moving the basket into a cabinet. "It'd be the opposite of fun. Opposite of mildly entertaining. Opposite of something that I would do when I was bored out of my mask, and I can promise you that I am very often that bored and still don't go to those places."

"I can't wait to see her Majesty again," Helena said, looking through some of his other cupboards. "After that, we could do another little show? Get you some more money so we can go out and do something next time I come. I want to see everything about this place. I mean…I drew this place, but I don't know it. I don't know how it works. If I were to draw you or your Tower again, but differently, would you change? Or would the drawing change? What if I added a new place, would it just shove its way in between something else? I want to learn about-"

"Maybe you should just go home," he said suddenly.

She froze, kneeling on the ground, her nose in one of the cupboards, "What?"

"Go. Home." His voice was harder and much colder than it had been two seconds ago.

Her heart clenched as she stood up, "But, I thought…I mean, we had…I thought that you…"

"What?" he asked. His face, what she could see, was blank. His arms were crossed in front of him as he watched her.

Helena swallowed, "I thought you missed me like I missed you."

He tilted his head at her. "Valentine's are perfect the way they are. They don't need another person. Especially not another Creator-child-trouble-maker person."

"Oh," she answered, feeling about two inches tall.

"It's nothing personal. Things were just better before you showed up here," he told her, looking out over his Tower.

"Of course," her voice sounded dull even to her own eras.

"You don't belong here."

She knew she was about to start crying and she didn't want him to see that. She didn't want him to see that he'd hurt her as much as he had. "Then I should get going."

"Good idea."

Helena swallowed hard against the little sob that built up in her throat. Even if he didn't care about her like she thought she did for him, she at least believed they were friends. They had juggled together just minutes ago. He'd smiled like he enjoyed having her around. She looked out the window and saw her room. The place she was supposed to belong. Valentine wasn't even looking at her as she took out the MirrorMask. "Will you return this to the Queen after I've gone?"

He sighed, "I suppose so."

"Okay. Well, goodbye, then." Helena looked at him, but Valentine didn't even glance at her.

"So long."

His apathy irked her into grabbing his arm. He winced, flinching away, though not out of her grasp. "Did I do something wrong?" she asked. "I thought we were friends."

He shrugged off her hand, "Valentines don't have friends."

"You could," she said quietly.

"If I wanted. Which, in fact, I don't."

Helena felt her anger warring with her hurt to make her voice short, "Fine. Well, I'll miss you, Valentine."

He didn't say anything, but at least this time he was looking at her.

She shook her head and put the MirrorMask on, pressing her face to the window.

He never said a word and then she was gone. She landed in her room this time, no MirrorMask on her face. Helena looked back at the pictures on her wall and mirror, seeing a spikey haired man with a stripe down his face hanging on the mirror frame. He was smirking, laughing at her. There was no way to go back now, even if she wanted. Even if she was wanted. Which she wasn't, as she'd been so coldly informed. Fine. He didn't want to see her, she didn't want to see him. "Goodbye," she told the sketch.

Despite her anger and her resolve, Helena's heart hitched and she walked out of her room, slamming the door behind her.

Valentine stared at the place Helena disappeared. "Goodbye."

"Good riddance," a harsh voice echoed through his Tower.

He swallowed and continued to look at the window. "I did what you asked. Do what you promised."

He heard a sigh and an image appeared in the window. He assumed it was Helena's room. The girl in question was nowhere in sight. Something green and bright lay on the bed. Her see-an-enemy. Too bad it hadn't seen this. A snap of fingers and three animatronic spiders crawled out from beneath the bed, behind the dresser and from within the closet. Three metallic mercenaries. Three reasons for him to lie.

"The other part of our deal first, Val."

He bent down and picked up the MirrorMask, handing it to the Princess. "Done. Deal fulfilled. Now do it."

The spiders shuddered on the ground, shattering into pieces before disintegrating and blowing away. Valentine felt a weight lifted off his shoulders even as a hand descended on it. "Well done."

"Well, now that that's finished, I should let you get to taking over the world. I'll show you the door."

"You know, I don't think I'm quite done with you yet, Val."

He hated that nickname. "I haven't got anything else. No jewels. No masks, mirror or otherwise. I've got some fresh apostrophels in the kitchen if you'd like, but that's about it."

"Yes, but as you keep saying, you're a very important man. I could use that."

Valentine swallowed, "I'm not important. Not really. More of a nobody. Even go as far to say I'm a negative, I'm so unimportant. I-"

"Stop babbling," she ordered.

He bit his cheek to keep from going on.

"Hold out your wrist."

"I'd really rather not if it's all the-"

"Do it!" she shouted, her voice echoing around his Tower and the dark corners getting darker.

He did and tried not to flinch when she pulled up his wrist to reveal the spider that had been latched there. Lucky his robe was so thick or Helena might have seen the blood from the puncture marks made by the spider's legs. It tightened as he stared at it. The Princess grinned and ran her fingers over the spider's back. "Perfect."

"I'm not really fond of jewelry." Especially not ones designed to kill him and anyone around him if he were to have betrayed the Princess. He actively tried to avoid those.


"Why do you need this on me now? She's never coming back." He hoped she didn't. Well, mostly. If she did show up, he hoped it was to rescue him. Not that he needed rescuing. Not a lot, at least. Just maybe a little this time. Turnabout and all, since he saved her first.

The Princess laughed, "Yes, you did a number on her. Did you her starting to tear up? Pathetic." She dropped his arm and his sleeve fell back down.

He tried not to think about that. Tried not to think about how it was his fault she looked like that, "So why do you need me?"

"I get bored. And you're an entertainer, aren't you?"

"I dabble in entertaining, but I've only got a few tricks really."

The Princess smirked and he looked away. He didn't like the look of that smile. He didn't like the way her face was Helena's but not. Dark, dead eyes where Helena's danced and lit up. Harsh lines where Helena's was forgiving. Cold and frozen where Helena's was warm and full of movement.

Funny how at first he had thought her maskless face was disgusting. Now, faced with a girl whose face was exactly like a mask, Valentine found himself preferring his other option.

"I think," the Princess said, her fingers tight on his shoulder, "I could teach you a few new tricks."

She held up the mask and Valentine saw her face reflected dozens of times, none of them looking any friendlier. His own face was reflected just behind hers and he thought it seemed a little darker. He swallowed and looked back to where Helena's room was fading away. He'd done what he had to. It just didn't make him feel any better.

The Princess grinned at her reflection. "Well, Val. Shall we begin?"

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 1 of 29

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