Helena was quickly becoming a student of the twenty-first century, taking great prides in every knowledge gap she successfully filled. She could make toast to her liking, withdraw money from an ATM, and the day she found that she found the IM system on the Warehouse network was a busy day for all involved. She had, over time, enlisted the help of all the Warehouse team in teaching her new skills, calling on their individual expertise to bolster her own.
It was Pete who had offered to help her finally figure out "that infernal communication device that never stopped screaming about cookies", and so the pair of them sat down one evening for a tutorial on mobile phones. The lesson was bought to a halt, however, when Pete's phone presented her with a perfect image of Myka. She was well aware that these devices had many uses and were capable of capturing instant photographs, but what had surprised her was the unusual style of dress and environment in which the photograph had Myka.
"Myka dear," she asked, holding up the phone as she called out to Myka, who was sitting on the lounge with Claudia, pretending to read her novel but in actuality being far too amused by the woman's forays into digital technology. "You look utterly ravishing, what was the occasion?"
Myka took in the photo, wincing at Claudia's low whistle of appreciation. The image of her walking back up the runway, the purple gown slinking around her ankles, pulled her up short. She had not known Pete had taken the photo, and even if she had, it was not something she would have ever shown Helena. While she could now look on that day with more confidence than with which it had started, it was still an uncomfortable memory for her, and one she did not wish to dwell on. She gave Helena a cursory answer ("Undercover work") before gathering up her belongings and wishing them a good night.
Helena looked after her quizzically. It was clear from her reaction that Myka did not agree with Helena's assessment of her appearance, though she could not for the life of her see why. Turning back to Pete, she looked at him for an explanation.
Pete simply threw his hands up and exited the photo viewer. Helena wasn't entirely surprised. Pete was eternally loyal, and there was no way he would discuss a matter that Myka was clearly so uncomfortable with. Still, while usually reluctant to cross the lines of friendship she and Myka had been establishing, Myka doubting herself was something Helena simply could not stand for and it was not long before she bid Pete and Claudia adieu, following Myka's path up stairs and knocking on her door with determination.
Myka took just enough time to open the door that Helena was aware that she had already retired to her bed. Normally this would make her feel guilty for keeping her from much needed rest, or at least thrilled that she was going to see Myka in her nightly attire, but not this time. Tonight Helena was on a mission.
The door slipped open just a crack, the way it always did, affording Myka the scant moments she required to see who was on the other side and decide whether or not she would grant them entry. It was a move Helena respected - living together as they all did, their own rooms were private, and no one was offended when another decided to keep it this way. As always, however, Myka stepped back to allow Helena entrance, filling Helena with a quiet pride as she moved past her, the satin trim on her sleeves catching on the grey flannel of Myka's sleep shirt.
Helena perched herself on the end of Myka's bed, the place she had scoped out as her own - being far enough away from the sturdy, high-backed desk chair to mark the visit as a personal one, but distanced also from the soft open end of the bedding, still warm from Myka's body, to allow Myka the opportunity to escape should she need.
"Myka," she said frankly, momentarily putting aside the charm and flirtation she had been sending Myka's way. "You do know that you are an astoundingly beautiful woman, do you not?"
Myka blinked rapidly. She had not been expecting that. Usually Helena would come to her with questions about pop culture references that had been made during the day that she had not understood, or would wish to discuss the latest book she was reading. This question however definitely did not fit into either of those categories. Myka was stunned. It's not that she minded so much that Helena had just asked her a rather personal question. She felt comfortable around the other woman and trusted that any personal matters that they did happen to discuss would stay between the two of them. So no, it wasn't the nature of the question that had Myka stunned, it was more that she had no idea how to answer it. What sort of a question is that anyway? Myka thought to herself. There was no precedence for this, no indication where this conversation was going, and that thought alone had Myka stumped as to how to answer Helena.
"That's, uh," she started, unsure of herself, and the reasoning behind this discussion. "That's very nice of you to say, Helena, but you don't -"
"I don't what?" Helena interrupted. "Have to say that? Know what I'm talking about? Because I assure you that I do, on both counts."
Helena patted the bed beside her, inviting Myka to join her. Myka picked at her pyjamas as she crossed the room, wondering as she did every time, how Helena always managed to make every room her own, how Myka was suddenly adhering to Helena's invite, despite it being her own room. Sitting beside her, she dipped her head, looking up at her through her dark lashes, completely unaware that she was simply making Helena's case for her.
"I do know what I am talking about, Myka dear," Helena continued. "Trust me, I am imminently qualified to discuss the beauty of young ladies." Myka's expression turned arch and Helena smirked. "You besmirch my reputation more than necessary, Myka. You forget I was the sister of quite the noted gentleman. I was well versed in discussing the aesthetic merits of his admirers. And I assure you, you outstrip them all in every regard."
Myka blushed. Helena frequently flirted with her, but never in a manner so direct - and her earnestness made it seem that flirtation was the furthest from her intent.
"You, Myka," Helena reiterated, her firm voice in stark contrast with the soft caress she administered to Myka's cheek. "Are valued by us all for your sparkling mind. Truly darling, it blinds me at times to watch it work. Your intelligence and your spirit take my breath away. And while I prize that above all, please do not ever think that you not possess charm and beauty. You are quite alluring, Myka, quite the distraction in fact."
Myka drew in a deep breath and looked at Helena. There were few times she had seen such plain earnestness on Helena's face - and to have it directed at her solely was more than a little breathtaking. It was true that she had doubts about her own appearance. She knew herself to be moderately attractive, she had, after all, had her share of partners, but none of them had ever been terribly effusive - none of them had ever possessed the determined look in Helena's eyes.
She had been honest with Pete when she had named Tracy as the 'pretty one', for that was the way it has always been. Tracy was the pretty one, and she was the smart one. It was Tracy whom everyone fawned over when the two tiny girls were presented to friends and family, it was Tracy who was was voted class president... it was Tracy who drew Kurt's eye whenever they would sit at the sturdy table in the bookstore, she rambling uncontrollably about coefficients and irrational numbers, yet unable to summon enough courage to ask him how his day was.
Myka had learnt early in life that to get attention she had to be smart. Smarter than everyone else. And she never managed to overcome the truth that what she had always struggled to get, Tracy had commanded. Tracy was the pretty one. Myka was the nerd.
"Helena," she said, her cheek rubbing against her palm as she looked down into her flanneled lap. "I appreciate what you're saying, but I know who and what I am."
Helena smiled at her, shaking her head. "That, my dear, is the last thing you know."
And with that she leaned in, kissing Myka squarely on the mouth. Her lips were warm, and softer than any other lips Myka had ever encountered. Her brain measured the degree to which the flesh of their lips decompressed, the angle at which Helena was coaxing her neck. It wasn't until it was halfway through calculating pressure, that she felt the hot tip of Helena's tongue trace her lower lip and realised - holy crap - that Helena was kissing her.
Helena was kissing her.
H.G. freakin' Wells was kissing HER.
She didn't know when this had happened or how, but now that it was here, she barely knew what to do with it. Forcing her brain to shut off for once, Myka gave herself over to her, letting herself fall into the kiss and explore the heavenly sensations Helena was creating.
Just as Myka reached up to slip her hand into the hair at the nape of Helena's neck, she pulled away abruptly, leaving Myka dazed and more than a little breathless. Helena grabbed her hands and held them with a ferocious conviction. "You are beautiful, Myka Ophelia Bearing. You are beautiful in mind, body and spirit. I would not waste my time with someone who is worthy. Who is not perfect. When you decide to believe me, to see the truth, you know where I am."
And with that she was gone. Myka floundered for several precious moments, wondering what exactly had happened... and then, what on earth she was doing still sitting there.
The door barely had the chance to close behind her before she reclaimed her place by Helena once more.