"This is beautiful," said Myka, pulling a sheer blouse out of the trunk and holding it out at arm's length so that the light from the open window glowed through it. "You have excellent taste."
"I have eccentric taste that just happens to match the current fashions," said H.G.—Helena—glancing over and smiling a little, privately, like there was a secret hidden in her words or the sunshine. "I stole that one."
"Did you?" said Myka, clutching it to her chest as though Helena might choose that moment to steal it again.
"I did have to be resourceful while I was getting on my feet. Don't worry, I only stole from places that looked like they could afford it. Like Robin Hood, in a way."
"You know that's not how Robin Hood actually operated, right? He didn't keep what he stole."
"That depends entirely on which version of the legend you choose to believe," said Helena, setting out a line of photographs on her wardrobe, people Myka didn't recognize, and would never know. "If I'd had Robin Hood's hat, it would have been much easier to acquire the rest of my wardrobe."
"Robin Hood's not a real person," said Myka. "And if he was, I think I'd rather have his arrows."
"Better in a combat situation, less useful when you're trying to pilfer from Chanel," said Helena, "and he certainly was a real person, though he kept rather more of his treasures than is traditionally recounted. We do tend to romanticize these things over time, don't we?"
"Well, you don't strike me as a hat person, anyway."
Myka hung the blouse carefully in Helena's closet with the others, the room already looking lived-in where her own had been desperately sparse for too long. The room of someone who was far more...adaptable.
"In my day we were all hat people," said Helena. "I could have made it look quite stylish."
"I'm pretty sure you could have made anything look stylish," said Myka, and was glad she was looking in the closet as those words skidded out. "Even with that feather."
"It doesn't actually have a feather," said Helena. "And it's not a hideous green, either."
"Wait, so it is a real thing?"
Helena just smiled mysteriously again and pulled a pair of black boots from the trunk, brushing a bit of invisible dust from them. They didn't look old, exactly, just broken in. Something you'd spend years doing, not weeks or months. Something Helena'd had for a long time.
"There's plenty more to unpack," said Helena, though it wasn't that she had a lot of things so much as that each of her things seemed to wholly inhabit the space it was in, much like Helena herself. "You could give me a hand, if you're done admiring my taste."
It was ostensibly what she was here to do, though it seemed to be taking longer with Myka's help than it would have if Helena had just done it all herself the moment her belongings arrived, flung across the world with surprising speed (or perhaps merely flung across town, given Helena's confidence and ambitions).
"What's this?" said Myka, pulling a wooden box from a deep corner of the trunk, plain with an unlocked latch. Jewellery, maybe. Mechanical devices. Ribbons.
"Not that one," said Helena, smoothly plucking it from Myka's hands and slipping it into a drawer before Myka could do more than blink.
Something with personal value, then, with a reaction like that. Letters. Photographs. Locks of hair encased in glass.
"You're very curious, aren't you?"
"It's in the job description," she said, but she didn't press once the drawer was pushed firmly shut. "What's left in the trunk?"
"This and that," said Helena. "My umbrella. A pair of stockings. Cogs and springs. A few unmentionables."
She pulled out a slip of silk, clearly one of the aforementioned unmentionables, and passed it over to Myka without a second thought or glance. "Top right drawer, if you wouldn't mind." Myka didn't mean to stare at them, she was just surprised, that was all. Instead of putting them away promptly she let them slip across her fingers for a moment. "Any time now."
"Sorry," she said, balling them in her first. "I didn't mean to—"
"I'm wearing a very similar pair right now," said Helena. "If you were wondering."
"I wasn't," said Myka, and hastily shoved them in the drawer. As soon as she did she couldn't help thinking they were going to wrinkle now, but couldn't actually bring herself to open the drawer again and fold them more neatly, knowing the look Helena would have on her face if she did.
"It's all right if you were," said Helena, very carefully laying her stockings out over the back of a chair. "I'm flattered."
"I wasn't," said Myka again, but of course now that Helena had put the thought in her head, she was.
"They're blue, though," said Helena. "Do you want to see?"
"I—" said Myka, but she didn't say anything while Helena popped the button on her pants, peeled back a flap and let a flash of blue silk show.
"Not the most practical of undergarments, but I do like the feel of them," she said. "Would you like to feel them too?"
Myka tried to say that it was all right, that it was unnecessary, but she didn't say anything at all and she didn't resist when Helena took her wrist and brought it first to her waist, then beneath the flap of her pants to skim her fingers over the fabric.
"Soft," she said. "Warm." She wished she could bite her tongue off so that no more words could slip out, but Helena just smiled at her and drew her hand a little further down. Softer. Warmer. There was a point when Helena stopped guiding her and Myka started moving on her own, but she couldn't pinpoint when it was. She just knew that a few moments later her hand was between Helena's legs and Helena had both hands on her, drawing her forward into a kiss.
It felt both unexpected, and a long time coming.
"You are quite extraordinary, Myka Bering," said Helena, then sank her teeth lightly into Myka's lower lip, just enough that Myka could feel the sting before she let go again.
Myka didn't know about that, but she was in no position to argue. Or talk at all, really, since her natural inclination was to say something awkward at a moment like this. She wondered if it was all a game, another strategic move, until Helena bit her own lip, and just for that moment looked completely full of wanting.
It was enough. Myka moved her hand, pushing gently between Helena's legs, and Helena's lips parted again, her chest rising with a desperate breath. She clutched at Myka's sleeves and kissed her again, hard and sweet and demanding, and Myka's heart pounded as she hooked a finger around the edge of Helena's silk panties and started to slip beneath.
"My, you are a very curious girl, aren't you?" said Helena breathlessly. "Always wanting to know what's inside."
Myka felt like a tease of the worst kind when she pulled her hand back, let her damp fingertips rest against the fabric over Helen's hip and breathed against her shoulder, a little too fast and a little too shallow. Helena's skin was flushed, warm, and Myka could still feel her chest moving with each breath.
"I'm not sure I'm..." Myka wasn't even sure how she wanted to finish that sentence. Interested? That would have been a naked lie. Ready? Closer, but not entirely honest either. Myka liked to plan things. She liked to think them through. She liked lists and maps and schedules. She liked knowing what she was getting into.
Helena buttoned her pants with one hand, her knuckles brushing up against Myka shirt they still stood so close together.
"You could come back after dinner," she said, lifting her head and finally moving back far enough that they could look one another in the eye again. "I've got a few things left to unpack. I could use the extra set of hands."
"You could finish a lot faster without me." Helena arched an eyebrow and Myka had to look down before something else slipped out the wrong way.
"Maybe that's not what I need your hands for," she said.
When she smiled this time, Myka smiled back. And if she didn't say anything as she straightened her shirt and slipped out of Helena's new room, it was only because Helena'd said it all so perfectly already. A few hours ought to be enough time to make a plan. After all, she was used to working with a lot less, these days.