She was on her way to study hall when she felt her phone buzz impatiently in her pocket. She stopped mid-stride and then glanced about the hallway as if looking for somewhere to deposit the armful of books she was carrying so that she'd have a hand free. Reaching out, Pete wrestled them from her with a roll of his eyes.
“You could just ask, you know.” She flashed him a smile and dug a hand into the pocket of her jeans, fishing out her phone as they began walking once more.
You know, the car park of the school is dreadfully quiet at this hour.
Myka's smile blossomed into a grin and a small chuckle left her as she keyed in a reply.
Why are you creepily skulking around the parking lot?
Pete nudged her shoulder, steering them both out of the way of a confused-looking teen a few years their junior. Probably new, probably lost.
“H.G.?” He asked, glancing sidelong at her. Myka frowned, lips curling at the corners with surprise.
“How'd you know?” He let out a laugh as they turned a corner, gracing her with a look of pure incredulity.
“What, are you kidding me?” Myka's phone buzzed again and her eyes slipped immediately from him to look down at the device in her hands.
Well I was rather hoping I'd catch a glimpse of you.
“That.” He said, as though the word itself explained everything, and it perplexed her enough to bring her attention back up. She furrowed her brow again, confused.
“That what?” He shook his head, grinning from ear to ear in that way he did whenever they'd played boardgames as kids and he'd gotten the 'get out of jail free' card during Monopoly.
“That look.” And he gestured with the first two fingers of his right hand, the rest of them still carrying the weight of Myka's veritable mountain of books. Myka's frown deepened, but he could see her blush all the way from his periphery.
“I don't have a look.” She argued, tone indignant, almost offended, and she typed in another reply.
You know, stalking is a pretty serious offence.
He scoffed, entirely unperturbed. He nodded a greeting to a passing member of the football team, hands too occupied to offer the usual high-five.
“Oh, you have a look. And a giggle, and a grin, and then there's that really weird glow that just kinda fills your face like one of those cream-filled doughnuts whenever anyone so much as mentions her name and-”
“Is there a single thing on the planet that you can't compare to food?” She stopped, pivoting on a heel to stare at him. He pursed his lips, pretending to give the question serious thought before grinning winningly.
“Nope.” Their eyes were drawn to Myka's phone as it buzzed again and they gazed at it for a moment until their attention flicked back towards each other. Pete waggled his eyebrows, Myka stuck her tongue out at him and slid her phone up to reveal the keyboard once more, ready to type a response before she'd read the message.
As is theft, yet you've managed to steal my heart without even the smallest of reprimands.
Myka felt her cheeks burn and Pete, seeing the flare, let out another laugh.
“Why don't you just ask her out already?” Myka shot him a look, invisible defences rocketing up and into place in an instant.
“I'm not, I don't, she isn't--” But they'd been friends since they were two and there was nothing that Myka could hide from him. And she'd tried.
“Mykes, look.” He sighed, adjusting the books in his arms as their weight began to take a toll. “I've known you since you were in diapers, okay?” She pursed her lips, an uncomfortable knot of anticipation forming in the pit of her stomach. “The last time I saw you this...” he paused, searching for the right word, and Myka crinkled her nose in disapproval when apparently he found it, “giddy over someone, you were fifteen and tutoring Kurt Smoller.”
“I'm not giddy.” She argued, but the attempt was a half-hearted one at best and they both knew it.
“Sure, whatever. My point is, you like her.” The words made her drop her gaze, the sound of them being said out loud for the first time a little too much for her. She wasn't ready to see his reaction to them, or even her own reflected in his eyes. This territory was new and uncharted, and more than a little bit terrifying. “And anyone within a fifty-foot radius of the two of you whenever you're together can see that she likes you too.” But it was also kind of thrilling and exciting, despite the swarm of butterflies that had apparently set up shop in her stomach and liked to make her feel nauseous at the drop of a hat. “And there's no reason you should be doing anything other than going for it.” Her head snapped back up, bright green eyes locking onto smiling brown. “Because if you don't? Heck, I will.” And she suddenly felt so stupid for expecting Pete to be anything other than 'Pete' about the situation. She huffed a laugh and rolled her eyes, glancing back down at her phone and absently worrying her lower lip. “She here again?” Myka nodded, then released her lip with a sigh of determination.
“Can you cover for me?” He juggled the books so that he was carrying them in one arm and gave her a mock salute.
“Aye, aye, Captain.” She made to take the stack back from him but he waved her away. “I can take them back to your locker.” She raised her eyebrows at him and he made a face. “What? Your combination has been the same since the dawn of time, okay? I'm surprised the entire school doesn't know it.” She shook her head at him and then turned, taking off down the hallway at a slow jog. “Say hi from me!” He called after her and she threw him an over the shoulder wave. He watched her go, rocking back and forth on his heels in the hallway as his fellow members of the student body passed him by. A familiar face caught his attention and, trying not to dump Myka's books, he took three quick strides and fell into place beside the girl. She shot him a glare.
“Not interested, Lattimer.” She told him, tone indicating that the discussion they were definitely not having was one that had been had many times before.
“Look, Kelly, if you just let me take you out on one date, I'll never bother you again.” Kelly sighed and he bided his time in the silence that followed. Then, just as she was about to respond he said, “Because it'll be you calling me up begging for just one more date with the Petemiester.” She let out a groan of frustration and picked up her pace, ignoring his laughter and repeated calls of her name as she walked away down the corridor.
Myka flung open the double doors of the school's front side entry and stepped out into the midday sun. The air was warm, surprisingly so for fall, a pleasant breeze drifting in to tousle her curls and dance with the yellowing leaves of the trees overhead. She glanced towards the sky to find it a crystalline blue and mostly clear, save for the odd cloud.
“Too nice a day to be cooped up inside.” H.G.'s words swam back to her from across the week-long void, the sound of them as clear to her as the day they'd been spoken. The previous Friday, to be exact. And the one before that. Myka smiled to herself; this was becoming a habit.
She strode out into the courtyard, weaving through lunch tables, and then all but danced down the small flight of concrete steps. She exited the school grounds through one of the stone archways and then she was in the parking lot. She glanced around, seeing a number of unfamiliar cars, and then there she was.
Sitting atop the hood of a black Volkswagen, H.G. was resting with her back against the windshield, legs stretched out in front of her and crossed at the ankles, arm raised and hand holding her phone in front of her face.
“You know, you actually have to use your fingers to get it to do something.” Myka said as she approached, wide smile brightening her features. “Just staring at it won't get you anywhere.” H.G. dropped her hand to her chest and glanced at Myka from beneath long lashes.
“Quips the girl unfamiliar with how Google works.” Myka chuckled, but had the decency to look a little abashed.
“I like encyclopedias, okay? Computers smell funny.” H.G. raised her eyebrows.
“Computers smell funny?” She asked, tone almost overflowing with mockery and yet entirely devoid of scorn. “Darling, we are in the Technological Age. Sooner or later you're going to have to accept that.” Myka walked around the side of the car and hauled herself up, accepting H.G.'s offered helping hand.
“Until libraries are officially rendered obsolete, that is where you'll find me.” She scooted closer towards the centre of the hood and then mimicked H.G.'s position. A short silence found them then, and Myka felt those annoying butterflies begin to swam. They all but exploded into a frenzy when she felt H.G. shift beside her.
“I was beginning to worry my last message might have frightened you off.” She could see in her periphery that the other girl had turned her head to look at her and Myka had to focus on keeping her breathing even as she tilted hers so that they were looking at one another. She wrinkled her nose.
“I seriously doubt there's anything you could do that would scare me.” They stared at one another for a moment and then H.G. flashed a wry smile.
“That sounds an awful lot like a challenge.” Myka gave a half shrug, returning the smile with one of her own. One that was taunting, challenging.
“Bring it.” One that raised H.G's eyebrows to her hairline. The older girl let out a soft hum, one Myka could not quite discern the meaning of, and then turned her gaze skyward once more. Myka did the same, watching the shapeless clouds drift idly by overhead. “You know, I should be in Study Hall right now. We have exams next week.” H.G. exhaled nosily through her nose, an action that quite excellently conveyed her feelings on the matter.
“And you know that you'll ace them regardless of how much time you spend studying information you already have memorised.” Myka could feel dark eyes sliding to their corners, watching her. “Besides, you'd much rather be spending time with me and you know it.” Myka's shoulders shifted with her silent laughter, but she said nothing. Had no argument to offer. Might not have voiced it even if she had.
“Pete says hi.” She said after another pause of silence. “An actual 'hi' this time, not another 'tell H.G. I think her accent is hot'.” H.G. smiled, tucking her phone into the pocket of her pants.
“Don't tell me he's tired of hearing it already?” Myka's chuckle was one of amused scepticism and her thought left her mouth before her brain had time to register it.
“Uh, no, I don't think there's a person alive who could get tired of listening to you talk.” Silence, again, heavy and pregnant. And Helena's thoughtful hum was nowhere near enough to drown out the sound of mortification screaming in Myka's ears. “It's like I have a sickness!” She exploded, bringing a hand up to press against her forehead as she stared imploringly towards the heavens. “One that renders me incapable of thinking before I talk.” Beside her, a smiling H.G. ran her fingers through glossy black hair.
“Well, as illnesses go, I must say I find this one rather charming.” Myka dropped her hand to her stomach and brought her other over to join it, resigning herself to the fact that she was destined to be in a permanent state of blush whenever she was in the other girl's presence. It never failed to leave her a little bit breathless, the way H.G. made her feel. All flustered and excited, nervous and alive. H.G. rocked her foot, bumping the tip of Myka's shoe with her own. “Penny for your thoughts?” Myka took a breath and held it.
“I was thinking that you're pretty charming yourself.” She let out in a rush, though the words didn't stumble into one another as they had done before. She flicked her eyes to their corners, stealing a glance at H.G. before returning them to the centre, only to re-enact the motion all over again a second or two later.
And then moving so abruptly it almost yanked a startled yelp from Myka, Helena sat up and twisted her upper body so that she was looking down at her, resting her palm flat against the windshield to brace herself.
“Tell me, Myka,” she said, and Myka swallowed reflexively as the sound of H.G. saying her name disturbed the butterflies once more. “What else do you think of me?” Myka blinked wide, owlish emerald eyes, staring up into H.G.'s intent face.
“Uh....” She tapered off, laughing nervously as her gaze drifted. Her fingers twisted together atop her stomach, thumbs twiddling anxiously. “I think you're great, obviously.” Risking a glance, she found H.G. peering at he with amusement, one lone eyebrow raised cockily.
“Obviously.” She repeated, dryly. Myka rolled her eyes, wringing her hands.
“I'm really jealous of your hair.” She admitted and that at least seemed to surprise H.G., who lifted a hand to touch one of Myka's ringlets.
“I adore your curls.” Myka swallowed again, thickly, trying not to shift under the attention. And then she had to stop her eyes from rolling right into the back of her head when H.G. softly stroked her hand across Myka's mess of curls. “They're quite lovely.” She said quietly and then added, “Much like the rest of you.” The air in Myka's lungs was expelled far more noisily and with far more force that she'd intended, and she felt H.G. pull her hand back as though she'd been scalded. Instantly worried the other girl had read her reaction wrong, she tilted her head to catch her gaze.
“I think...” And of course, the one instance in which her brain caught up in time to screen her words would be the one moment she didn't want it to. She licked her lips, gathering the strength she needed to force herself on, and heard Pete's earlier assurance echo inside her head. He always managed to help, damn him. “I think you're amazing.” The whispered confession was quiet enough it might have been stolen by the breeze. But the sentiment weighed it down, kept it in place. And it appeared to be the catalyst for some impending explosion, because once it had left her, the words kept on flowing. “You're smart and funny and beautiful, obviously, and I have no idea why you decided to talk to me that day in the library or why you think that I'm worth wasting your time on, but I'm glad that you did because basically every second I spend with you is the new best moment of my life and, wow, that just sounds-”
“Wonderful.” H.G. interjected, startling Myka out of her babble and making her breath catch in her throat. She snared her lower lip between her teeth, worrying it as H.G. gazed down at her wordlessly. Her insides were jumping, like those damn butterflies were throwing an end of the year bash, and she could feel her pulse pounding at her neck. H.G. reached up, brushing her hair behind her ear, a motion that Myka followed perhaps a little too intently. “But let me be very clear about one thing.” She felt her stomach drop through the hood of the car and the vice-like grip of anxiety start to squeeze her chest. “I do not consider even one second of the time we spend together to be 'wasted' in any way.” She wrinkled her nose disapprovingly at the word and then allowed her features to smooth out once more. “In fact I've found myself treasuring each and every one of them with more vehemence as the days progress.”
“Oh.” Myka said, dumbly, after a short pause, all the vice-like tension leaving her. H.G.'s words had made her brain fuzzy, but then again, that wasn't anything new. “Well then, I guess-”
“Myka?” The second interruption left Myka a little stunned, mouth hanging open in a manner she might have found embarrassing, had she been thinking at all.
“Yeah?” She asked, feeling a wave of heat prickling its way along the back of her neck. The way H.G. was looking at her was... different. Completely and utterly different to any way she'd previously looked at Myka, and Myka knew. Because she'd analysed them all.
“Would you mind terribly if I kissed you?” For a second, her vision blurred and she felt her heart give an overly exuberant thud or five. Her twisting hands forgot to twist and lay idle against her stomach and her ability to speak simply ceased to be for an endless instant.
“Um, no.” She said, once it had returned. Once she was sure words would actually leave her, instead of inarticulate vowel sounds. “I don't think I'd mind at all.” And honestly, she was quite surprised with how little her voice trembled as she spoke.
H.G.'s lips curved into a breathtaking smile as she adjusted her position slightly, and then Myka found herself holding her own as the girl hovering over her began to lean down. Hair the colour of night and as soft as silk slipped free to tickle her cheek and curtain them off from the rest of the world. Myka's heart beat madly within her chest as H.G. dipped low enough for their noses to brush.
“Are you frightened now?” H.G. murmured, and Myka could still just about make out the smile she was wearing.
“Kinda.” She breathed, hands moving once more and twisting the material of her t-shirt. “Maybe. Possibly terrified.” H.G.'s laugh was light and her warm breath ghosted over Myka's lips in the seconds before they were covered.
Electricity, or some distant cousin of it, sparked and raced along her spine, setting her nerves alight and raising goosebumps across her skin as her heart skipped along her ribcage. She felt the gentle pressure of H.G.'s knee against her leg where they pressed together and the softness of her lips, and Myka's eyes finally drifted closed. Her stomach roiled, not unpleasantly, as H.G. broke the brief kiss only long enough to initiate a second, this time parting her lips, and Myka couldn't contain the sigh that slipped from her at the first careful sweep of the girl's tongue. And then she was lost. Utterly and completely, and in every way imaginable. Head and heart, body and soul. All of it swimming in a heady, hazy fog of blissful perfection.
Disentangling her fingers from her own shirt, Myka lifted her hand to rest it against H.G.'s stomach, pressing her palm flat against a spot parallel to the girl's hip and simply resting it there. Relishing the contact as they traded lazy first kisses. Every inch of her was warm, tingling, alive, and even the hard hammering of her heart had dulled to an omnipresent beat that thrummed in the back of her mind. She'd never been kissed quite like this before.
When H.G. finally pulled back, pesky need for oxygen no doubt niggling at her, a low hum of appreciated slipped from Myka and H.G. chuckled as she pressed their foreheads together. Myka's hand remained, pressed lightly against her stomach, thumb brushing back and forth almost absently.
“And how do you feel now?” She asked, voice hushed. Myka shook her head, unwilling to trust her voice enough to answer, and H.G. chuckled again. “All right. Nod once for 'good', or twice for 'very good'.” And she only just managed to finish her sentence before Myka was lifting her head and urging her down into another kiss. This one as lazy and exploratory as the last, and bringing about all the same reactions. Helena's hand, the one not lying close to Myka's head, came up and slipped through the curtain of her hair to cup Myka's cheek, and Myka felt her stomach roll and turn once more. And then it was her turn to break the kiss a few moments later, an uncontrollable bout of giggles – actual giggles – swelling from nowhere. Bemused, Helena straightened, peering down at Myka as the girl's hand slid from her stomach to rest against the top of her thigh. “And what exactly do you find so funny?” Myka blinked her eyes open, silly grin lighting her features. She gave a half-hearted shake of her head and then simply gazed up at H.G. wonderingly.
“You're just so....” She trailed off with a sigh.
“Charming? Dashing? Enigmatic?” H.G. offered, and Myka laughed again.
“Full of it.” She amended, and then slid her hand up to tug H.G. back down by the front of her shirt before she could voice any complaints.
Myka did make it to the final class of the day, but just barely.