Helena was doing a wonderful job in Leena's absence, but there was a growing list of things that she refused to do (washing Pete's near radioactive socks, for one) and by the end of the week, their missing of Leena had turned into a desperate longing, Helena amongst them.
As such, when Leena did arrive home, suitcase in hand and that mysterious scent of coconuts proceeding her, she barely made it in the front door before being nearly bowled over by Pete.
"You're hooooome!" he crowed. "Where'd you go? Did you have fun? Did you bring me anything? Did ya, did ya, did ya?"
Too used to Pete to be truly overwhelmed by his onslaught, she simply pulled the airline cheese and cracker package from her pocket and slipped it into his hand. Happy with his souvenir, Pete pulled back and let the others greet her - far less manically, but no less happy to see her.
Dragging her into the living room to talk, Helena pressing tea into her hand as she passed, Leena was pleasantly surprised to see her B&B in amazingly good order (...except for the oddly faint smell of socks wafting from somewhere, that is). She was convinced that she would be in for some hard work post-break, what with all of her oddball family home this year, but it seemed that they had managed to behave themselves.
They had all wanted to hear about her travels and fill her in on all she had missed. No one noticed when, an hour later and halfway through one of Pete's exuberant retellings, Helena quietly stood and excused herself.
Leena did notice, however, that Myka was barely able to wait three minutes before following her.
Myka took the stairs slowly, each step adding to her conflicting thoughts. She wanted nothing more than to go to Helena and take her in her arms. They had been moving towards this for months, but this past week had thrown them beyond anything they had previously experienced or acknowledged.
Myka had spent the week immersed in Helena's words, letting them fill her in a way no other words ever had. She had seen their world through Helena's own eyes. She had met and grown to love her friends all over again as Helena recounted their first meetings. She had experienced Helena's excitement over the minutiae of daily life that Myka had long since come to take for granted. She had fallen into the depths of despair alongside her as Helena's words gave an unflinchingly honest account of her betrayal, of the indelible acts she had committed and could never forget. And she had, floating on wings of joy, read as Helena spoke of her, as she spoke of her curiosity, her affection, her love of her. Even if she had ever wanted to, Myka would never be able to forget Helena's words.
But, despite Leena's return, Helena's story - their story - was not finished. There would be no more bagged lunches, no more hidden sharing of Helena's innermost thoughts and feelings - but Myka found that she could not accept that that was to be the case.
Reaching the landing outside their bedrooms, Myka was drawn to an envelope attached to the front of her bedroom door. She spared a moment to savour the sight of her name written in Helena's flowing script on the front, before chuckling slightly when she realised that Helena had folded the paper bag to approximate the shape of an envelope. Removing the tape gently, she slipped into her bedroom to read the final words this this envelope would no doubt contain.
Closing the door carefully behind her, Myka jumped slightly when Helena's voice came from behind her.
"I am sorry, dear, did I startle you?" There was no one in the entire universe who could manage to sound so sincere and amused at the same time, Myka mused.
"A little..." she said, far too distracted by the sight of Helena leaning up against her behead, long legs stretched out before her, bare feet peeking out from the hem of her grey trousers.
Sensing that Myka was not yet quite ready to form sentences, Helena continued. "I appear to have made a friend," she said, indicating the threadbare teddy bear resting within her arms. "He and I have been chatting while we were waiting."
"What were you taking about?" Myka asked.
"Why you, of course. I was patiently waiting for you, but he seemed to think I should go and collect you," her eyes twinkled up at Myka. "Your bear is rather impatient, Myka darling, but we seem to get along just fine all the same."
Myka smiled at Helena's innocent antics, her playful side one of her most endearing qualities. "Was there something in particular you wanted me for?"
Helena turned here attention to the bear. "Now that is the very definition of a loaded question, is it not?" she asked him.
Starting, but trying not to blush at Helena's words, Myka raised her hand to indicate the envelope. "I found this," she said simply.
"I gathered you would," Helena said before scooting over on the bed to make room, patting the mattress next to her. "I thought perhaps I might join you."
Helena had been somewhat hesitant in her interactions with Myka since her return. Eager to prove herself, clearly delighted to be back, but so scared to misstep, scared to find herself wrenched away again, even by her own doing. All this hesitation had disappeared. The confidence of old had returned, but lighter, happier, than Myka had ever seen. She couldn't help but think that this was Helena at her truest: still broken in places, always troubled, but honest and happier with the world around her than she had been in a very long time.
Helena's undeniable joy was hard to resist, and Myka felt her own reservations slide away as she made the final few steps. Joining her on her own bed, Myka delighted in the lining up of their bodies: shoulder against shoulder, hip against hip, with only Myka's longer legs leaving her feet outreaching Helena's own. Myka had always quietly disliked her height, hating her childhood of towering over her peers only to later find herself abandoning heels lest she wished to peer squarely over the head of any potential dancing partner. Now, however, Myka found that she didn't mind the extra few inches. She liked that she was taller than Helena, and she had spent many an hour considering what it would be like to rest her chin on that pale shoulder, pressing her cheek into the beautiful curvature of Helena's neck.
Sensing that she had again lost Myka to the world inside her own mind, Helena gave her shoulder a gentle nudge. "Myka, the envelope?"
"Oh," Myka said. "Of course."
Slipping her nail under the square of electrical tape Helena had used to seal it (there were some details of 21st century life that still escaped her, and as far as Helena was concerned, one mode of affixing was just the same as the next), Myka gently unfolded the paper bag envelope. Seeing no words on the paper she turned it over, slightly confused, there she saw only no words, just her name where Helena had addressed it. She looked up, giving Helena a quizzical expression. Helena just smiled at her softly, pulling the paper from her hand carefully and placing it on the bedside table.
"Helena..." Myka questioned. "I don't understand. I mean it's not an ending."
If anything, Helena's smile grew at her words. It wasn't her customary grin or smirk, but a true and honest smile, the kind she rarely gifted on anyone besides Myka.
"No," she said. "It's not an ending. But I don't really want there to be an ending, do you?"
Myka's eyes widened. She hadn't wanted to push Helena, had not wanted to move her too fast. But was it possible that she had, in fact, moved too slow? Had she been so concerned about pushing her too far that she had missed the fact that Helena had gotten there all on her own?
Helena reached for Myka's hand where it laid between them and laced their fingers together. When she spoke, it was without guile, or flirtation. "I've had endings, Myka," she said. "I've seen the end of dreams, of hopes. I've seen the end of lives. What we have, what we could have... I don't want there to be an ending. We have the start of a wonderful story, Myka, and I know that I jeopardised that, but please - please don't let it end because of my stupid pride."
Myka squeezed her hand slightly, the shared warmth between their palms hotter than Myka could have imagined. She faltered slightly, but managed finally, to let her own words surface. "You haven't jeopardised a thing, Helena."
"I have," Helena affirmed, not prepared to give an inch on herself. "We all know the truth of that. But... I'm ready now. I can be here, truly be here now, with you."
Myka shifted on the bed slightly so as to face Helena. She ran her free hand through Helena's loose hair, reveling in the feel of the silky strands slipping though her fingers. As she let the final strands fall, her fingers moved to trace the curve of Helena's jaw. Helena let Myka continue her silent exploration, her own eyes entranced by Myka's look of concentration. Lifting her eyes, Myka locked her eyes on Helena's, her brown eyes calmer than Myka could ever remember having seen them. Cupping her cheek, Myka leant in, to the point where their breathes mingled together between them.
"Helena..." she breathed. "Are you sure? Because -"
"I'm sure," Helena interrupted, pressing her forehead to Myka's. "I'm very sure."
Myka felt her body overcome with heat, all the thoughts and feeling she had been pushing down further and further finally erupting with Helena's assurance. Caressing Helena's cheek with her thumb, the hand Myka had been balancing on her thigh rose to thread through the back of Helena's hair, cradling her gently as she moved in to brush her lips against hers. Helena's hand moved between them as she carefully moved the teddy bear to the floor. Myka spared a thought for the care Helena took with the bear, but as quickly as the thought occurred it had disappeared as the space previously filled by the bear was taken up by the warmth of Helena's body.
The pair shifted to lie on the bed, Myka pulling Helena tighter to her as they did so. Holding Helena within the space of her arms, the weight of her body pressed up against her own was a comfort Myka had often dreamt about but had almost given up hope of truly happening. Helena released her lips as she pulled back to look upon her, her hair falling in sheets around their faces.
"Oh Myka," she said, her lips reddened from their kiss, smiling wider than ever before. "What a wonderful story we shall write."