"Are you going to tell me what this is about?"
She sounded tired, Ruby thought, but not angry. Which was strange. If any emotion was warrant when a tearful teenage girl turned up on your doorstep that you didn't partially like in more normal circumstances, let alone at four in the morning on a drizzly Wednesday evening, you would have thought it would be anger - or at least surprise. But Mina had had just stepped aside, allowed Ruby to pass and followed her to the kitchen.
Now she stood patiently, her head titled to one side, leaning against her table unit, kettle bubbling happily beside her.
"Don't you ever get scared?" Ruby finally answered, running her thumb along the grain of Mina's wooden kitchen work-surfaces. "I mean all those monsters wandering around. Don't you just ever wonder why the world hasn't collapsed around us?" Her eyes began to burn again and she blinked rapidly. It had finally caught up with her. The idea that all her childhood ghouls she used to read about in fairytales were real, only here there was no princesses or fairy godmothers to balance them out; to protect the people who needed protecting.
She told Mina as much, standing opposite her, fighting the urge collapse onto her knees, bury her head in the blind woman's stomach and cry till it felt like her insides would collapse in on themselves. She supposed that was why she'd come. That was why she'd turned up on Mina's doorstep, mascara tracked down her cheeks, soaked to her skin from the rain. Because who else could she talk to? All these things, horrific, scary and magnificent things and she couldn't share with anyone. Mina was the only one whose opinion meant nothing to her, or at least the blind woman's expectation could sink no lower.
Mina had smiled. "What about Luke and Rupert? Just because they don't have wings and magic wands, because they come with a drinking problem and an American accent, doesn't mean they aren't the good that tips the scales. Keep the world in one piece." Beside her the Kettle boiled. "Tea?"
Ruby wrinkled her nose. "Is it… normal?"
Mina raised an eyebrow. "English tea? Yes. I decided to invest in some since you complained so vocally about it last time."
Ruby blushed, resisting the urge to apologise. "Just because you can brew most things and turn them into hot beverages, doesn't mean to say you should." Mina smiled, holding out an elegant looking glass towards her. Ruby accepted it gratefully, "thanks." She rubbed a hand over her eyes and sighed. "I just wish I could tell someone about…this. About how I feel; what it is like."
Mina tilted her head. "You can tell me." She frowned prettily, "actually, you are."
"Yeah, I guess."
Mina's feature softened with concern. "I mean it Ruby. Just because we don't always see…eye to eye," Mina sent a wry smile in her general direction, "doesn't mean to say I'm not here for you, if you need me."
Ruby was silent for a while. Then, "is there a catch?"
Mina gave an amused chuckle. "You mean are you going to have to sacrifice your soul?"
"I wasn't thinking quite that extreme…" The younger girl snickered. She became serious again, eyeing the seemingly untouchable woman that stood in front of her. "I just would rather Galvin and Luke didn't know that I'm…"
Ruby shock her head. "Weak."
Mina made a humming noise, and Ruby's attention was draw to her lips. They seemed unfamiliar without their usual red paint. In fact, the Mina that stood opposite her, leaning against one of the kitchen work surfaces, hands cupping her warm mug, in pyjama's that were slightly too big for her slender petite frame, wasn't the Mina she was accustom to seeing pouring over books in the stacks or silently saving the day in the background with a well placed word or pearl of wisdom.
"Everyone needs help sometimes Ruby."
Mina offered her a tired, sad smile, and Ruby resisted the desire to hug her.
"I should go."
Mina raised an eyebrow. "You can stay here."
Ruby nodded too tried to argue. Besides, trekking across London in the dark and pouring rain didn't sound like a particularly good idea, even when it did mean inevitably facing the awkward morning after. "Okay. Thanks."
The older woman nodded. "Upstairs, second door on the left. It's the only other room made up."
Ruby murmured in agreement. To tired to give much thought as to why the room was already waiting for her, she turned to leave, placing her mug by the sink. She paused by the doorway, "Oh, Mina?"
"I like your pyjamas." She sniggered and ducked out the room, briefly catching sight of Mina's amused, if a little shocked expression as the door closed behind her.