Helena's room is almost dark now that night has fallen, but Myka couldn't find her anywhere else; she pokes her head through the door and flips the light switch. At the other end of the room, Helena straightens in surprise.
"Oh, thank you, darling." She squints up at the ceiling light, then redirects the small lamp she has on her workbench. "I suppose it was getting a little difficult to see."
"I guess." Myka wraps her arms around herself. "You didn't come down for dinner." No one else had bothered to wait, but Myka had picked at her food, staying seated until long after the rest of the table had cleared away.
"Didn't I? Well, I have had quite a lot of tea." Helena picks up one of the many mugs scattered around her and takes a sip. Her mouth puckers as she discovers that it's gone cold. "No matter," she says pushing it aside. Her gaze drifts back to the tangle of wires and gears sitting in front of her.
"What're you working on?" Myka asks, taking a tentative half-step into the room. It feels like ages since they've had a real conversation; Helena has taken to spending all her time tinkering. Claudia says that they're just catching up on everything Helena missed, and "Jeez, Myka, you wouldn't believe some of her ideas. For someone who's a hundred years old, she's better with today's tech than – well, almost anyone. Except me, of course."
Claudia's claims aside, Myka thinks that Helena's focus on technology is a way for her to bury her other feelings. She sees Helena wince every time Artie insults her; she notices the too-blank mask she puts on when Pete takes a moment before he trusts her. New tech is a hiding place, Myka thinks; she's worried that Helena's isolating herself too much.
Myka tells herself that the worry doesn't come from the loss she feels at being suddenly deprived of Helena's company, the wonderful conversations they had, the glimpses into Helena's brilliant mind... and the way Helena would touch her as they talked. She tells herself that... but she still finds herself here.
Helena runs a finger along one of the coils springing from the untidy mess in front of her. "Claudia showed me her 'Tesla grenades,'" she says proudly. "The changes you lot have made to our design are quite fascinating. I've been trying to replicate them – "
"You took apart a Tesla?" Myka yelps. Helena nods and Myka bites her lip.
"Should I not have?" Helena asks. "Claudia – "
"Claud gets away with a lot by virtue of a, not getting caught, and b, being Artie's – " Myka doesn't want to say 'favourite.' " – protégé," she finishes. "Just don't... don't let him find out, okay? And make sure it's working again before we go on a mission." She wants to ask if Helena's sure she can put it back together at all, but thinks better of it.
"I see." Helena sets down the small screwdriver she's been playing with. "I shall certainly take care to keep my experiments private, then." She's wearing the same blank look that Myka has learned to hate, and Myka feels like an absolute heel. She shifts awkwardly in place.
After a moment, Helena looks up. "Was there something else, darling?" she asks.
"Um. My room's still got that weird anti-gravity field thing going on, and Artie figures it won't wear all the way off until morning, and I was just going to go to bed, and I wanted..." Myka can pinpoint the exact moment when her courage breaks and she covers it with nervous babbling. "I wanted to let you know that I'd be downstairs. On the couch. If you were looking for me. Um. Not – not that you'd be looking for me. But if you came downstairs, or something." She cuts herself off with an effort and hopes that she's not bright red.
"Honestly," Helena says, unfolding from her chair like a cat in a beam of sunlight. "You cannot imagine that I'd allow you to sleep on that couch. I've seen the things Pete and Claudia spill on it."
"It can't be worse than long car rides with Pete after he's been to Taco Bell," Myka says, then winces. "Sorry," she adds, but Helena's already laughing.
"Simply because you've been desensitized is no reason to expose you to worse horrors," she says, eyes bright. "I insist that you stay here tonight. It will keep you safe from Pete's early-morning wanderings as well.
"You're sure?" Myka asks, trying to pretend that she hasn't been angling for an invite all along.
"As long as the light won't keep you awake," Helena says. "I often stay up late, working."
"Oh." Myka tries not to show her disappointment. "No, I can sleep pretty much anywhere, so. Thanks, Helena. I'll just be right back."
She practically flees to the bathroom. Closing the door behind her, she stares at herself in the mirror. Stupid, Myka. She's H.G. Wells; of course she's not interested in you. So much for teasing Helena away from her workbench. Why had she even bothered to try?
Myka takes her time in the bathroom, then detours to the laundry to grab some sleepwear that isn't currently floating around her bedroom in zero-grav. When she slips back into Helena's room, it's as if she was never there to begin with: Helena is back at her workbench, absorbed in the disassembled Tesla.
"Make yourself at home," she says absently. "Don't mind me."
"Thanks," Myka mumbles. Dropping her pyjamas on a chair, she turns her back on Helena and toes off her shoes. She pulls off her shirt, folding it neatly before undoing her bra and reaching for her sleep shirt.
There's a sudden spark and a crackle from behind her, followed by Helena's muffled swear. Myka whirls around, pressing the shirt to her chest. "Are you all right?" she asks urgently.
Helena has two fingers of her right hand in her mouth; with her left hand, she's fanning away a small wisp of smoke that's curling up from her bench. She rolls her eyes as if to say she's fine, but Myka can't keep herself from hurrying across the room anyway.
"Let me see," she says, tucking the shirt to her chest with her elbows and reaching out for Helena's hand.
Helena surrenders with bad grace, letting Myka examine the injured digits. "I just got a shock, Myka. It's fine." She tries to tug away, but Myka bends closer, checking for burns. Her hair brushes the inside of Helena's arm and they both shiver.
Myka springs up and backs away quickly, remembering that she's practically naked. "Maybe you should give it a rest?" she suggests, folding her arms tightly over the shirt she's clutching.
"I – yes," Helena says. She's carefully not looking at Myka. "Perhaps you're right."
They dance around each other for a few moments, until Helena takes herself off to the bathroom. Myka quickly finishes changing; she's looking at the bed, trying to decide if one side looks messier than the other, when Helena comes back in.
"Take the window side if you don't mind, darling," Helena says. "I prefer to sleep close to the door."
"Oh, ah, sure," Myka says, darting to the other side of the bed. Helena's changed into a tank top and a startlingly tiny pair of sleep shorts; Myka feels both overdressed and over-exposed in her baggy shirt and panties. She slides under the covers and pulls them up to her chin, trying not to watch Helena disassemble her workbench and then methodically check all the locks on the windows and door. She leaves one light on, its soft glow hidden behind the curtains, but enough to illuminate an exit path.
"Thanks," Myka says when Helena finally joins her. The bed dips under Helena's weight and she gasps as her burned fingers rub across the bedspread. "Are you sure you're okay?" Myka asks at once. "Do you want me to go grab the first-aid kit?"
"They'll be fine by morning," Helena says, flexing them dismissively.
Myka exhales and subsides against her pillow. She thinks she can feel Helena's body heat, even though there are several inches of space between them. There's no way she's going to sleep tonight; she'd be better off on the couch.
"Thank you, Myka," Helena says suddenly.
"Me?" Myka props herself up on an elbow to look at Helena, confused. "Why?"
Helena looks away, her expression as uncertain as Myka has ever seen on her. "Oh, for caring, I suppose," she says softly. She flexes her fingers again, wincing, and Myka takes her hand, touching the injury lightly. Helena shudders. "It's been quite some time since anyone cared if I hurt myself."
"Helena," Myka says, easing closer. "Of course I care. You don't have to thank me for that."
"I wouldn't like you to think I take it for granted," Helena says. She closes her hand around Myka's even though the pressure must be painful on her burns. "I don't. I appreciate it very much." She tugs on their joined hands and Myka sways closer, uncertain until Helena leans into her for a kiss.
Oh, Myka thinks, feeling as though the electricity that burned Helena has raced into her as well.
Helena makes a small, needy noise underneath Myka and Myka sinks into the kiss, feeling Helena's lips part and her breath catch. She tightens her hold on Helena's hand, not thinking, until Helena hisses in pain and pulls back.
"Shit!" Myka lets go immediately. "I'm so sorry, Helena, I forgot, I just – " Dammit, Myka, now look what you've done.
"It's all right, darling," Helena says, reaching out with her injured hand. "Perhaps you could just kiss it better before bed?"
Myka puckers up, hesitant at first, then smiling as Helena traces the outlines of her lips. "Better?" she asks, calmer despite herself.
"Oh, much," Helena says, returning her soft smile. "Now, might I suggest we get some sleep?" She lays herself down on the pillow, looking up at Myka archly. "I suspect we'll need clear heads in the morning."
"Oh?" Myka says. Helena just looks at her. "Oh - oh." She feels herself flush and quickly lies down, turning away from Helena to hide her excitement.
A moment later, Helena presses up against her from behind, curling one hand over her hip. "After all," Helena whispers into her ear, "I'll need your help getting that Tesla back into working order and sneaking it past Artie."
Myka laughs softly and covers Helena's hand with her own. "Anything you want," she promises recklessly. "Anything."