“I love you,” Liv slurs and Helen’s heart skips a beat in her chest, face flushing instantly with heat at hearing her friend utter those words. But Liv isn’t talking to her. She’s slumped against the Doctor’s shoulder, her third glass of something still clutched in her fingers as her mouth continues to spout drunken nonsense. “No, I hate you, ‘cause you’re the worst sometimes. But I love you.”
“And I think you’ve had far too much Napple Juice, Liv,” comes the Doctor’s laughed reply, the cheeky grin stretched across his face telling Helen he’s enjoying inebriated Liv far too much. He slides the glass from her fingers, ignoring Liv’s whine of protest, and sets it down on the table between them.
“Do you think we should take her back to the TARDIS?” Helen suggests quietly, watching with a frown as the Doctor stands from the bench and Liv falls against his now-vacated seat.
“I think that would be the safest bet, Helen. You can manage her, can’t you? I still need to talk to Matton about the thing.”
“Uh…” She looks between the Doctor and the currently half-asleep Liv before nodding somewhat reluctantly. “Yes, I think so.”
“Excellent.” He claps his hands together loudly, stifling another laugh as Liv jerks awake again. “I’ll meet you there.”
Without even staying to help her pull Liv up, the Doctor vanishes into the throng of people surrounding them in the bar. Helen sighs, taking a moment to pull herself together as she watches Liv struggle to sit up.
“Come on, Doctor Chenka,” she mutters fondly. “Let’s get you home.”
Liv is surprisingly helpful when it comes to pulling her out of her seat, if only because her hands grasp onto Helen far too tightly. She becomes a lot less helpful as they stagger through the bar towards the cleaning cupboard where the TARDIS is parked, her hands wandering to places they wouldn’t had Liv been sober. Helen squeaks, cheeks burning with the heat of her blush, as Liv’s hand brushes against her bottom.
“Liv,” Helen hisses in admonishment. “Behave.”
Somehow, she manages to push open the TARDIS doors with one arm - her other still curled around Liv’s smaller frame - and drags them both inside the control room. The door falls shut softly behind them, the lights around the room dimming automatically as the TARDIS takes in Liv’s intoxicated state.
Liv turns erratically in her hold then, staring up at her with something akin to starry-eyed wonder.
“You’re really pretty,” she slurs, and Helen has to look away as her cheeks burn even hotter.
“And you’re very drunk,” Helen replies with a sigh, pulling Liv with her as she makes her way from the control room.
The first room she manages to find is her own, and it will have to do, because Liv is twisting far too much in Helen’s hold and if she doesn’t get her friend lying down soon, they’ll both end up on the floor. She heaves Liv onto the bed and sits down beside her with a sigh.
“Feel sick,” Liv groans, rolling onto her front and shoving her face into Helen’s duvet.
“Well maybe you shouldn’t have had three glasses of alien alcohol. The Doctor did warn you.”
“The Doctor’s ‘n idiot,” comes the muffled reply, and Helen can’t help but laugh in response.
“You told him you love him.”
Liv groans but doesn’t deny it, muttering something that sounds like “he’s still ‘n idiot” into the bed sheets. But her next words have Helen freezing, a shock of heat lancing down her spine as Liv’s head rolls away from the bed to mutter, “I love you, too.”
She swallows, forcing down the panic and want and annoyance that Liv has to be saying this now, when she’s incredibly drunk and lying on Helen’s bed.
“We’re a family,” Helen says slowly. “The three of us.”
“I don’t love you like I love him,” she mumbles back, and Helen only just manages to comprehend her, mouth going dry as Liv’s words sink in.
“You’re really pretty,” Liv continues, repeating her earlier compliment. “‘nd smart. ‘nd nice. ‘nd pretty.”
“And you’re still drunk,” Helen sighs, entire body burning with embarrassment and a wish for Liv to be saying these things to her without a large quantity of alcohol running through her veins.
“Doesn’t mean s’not true.”
“Then tell me when you’re sober,” Helen says, only just managing to withhold the plea from the her tone. Please.
“Can’t,” Liv replies, a large yawn stretching her mouth wide as her eyes begin to droop closed.
But Liv’s eyes are already shut, soft snores emanating from her as she finally succumbs to sleep.
Fond affection seeping through her chest, despite the turmoil of emotions Liv has stirred up inside her, Helen grabs a blanket and tucks it carefully around her sleeping friend. Grabbing a glass from her bathroom, she fills it with water and lays a packet of painkillers beside it on the bedside table.
“You’ll be the death of me, Liv Chenka,” she whispers, fingers curling a lock of hair behind Liv’s ear as she presses a soft kiss to her forehead. Helen watches her for a moment, affection and confusion warring behind her ribcage, before turning off the lights and leaving Liv to rest.
Liv wakes with a start, sitting up and regretting it instantly as her head feels like it’s slicing itself open. She inhales sharply, a hand flying to her forehead, and forces down the sudden need to vomit. Blinking, her eyes slowly manage to regain their focus, and Liv comes to the gentle realisation that she is not in her own room. Glancing around - carefully, so as not to aggravate her pounding head - she spots a glass of water next to some painkillers on the bedside table.
Popping a few more than is strictly safe out of the packet, she downs the handful of painkillers with a wish that they’ll kick in sooner rather than later.
The last thing she remembers is the Doctor’s stern warning about drinking too much of the delicious fruity cocktail, flashes of his laughter telling her she’d completely ignored him out of principle. What Liv can’t remember is how she made it from the bar into what she’s really hoping isn’t Helen’s bedroom.
“Oh god,” she breathes, the need to vomit rising back up inside her as she remembers Helen, or more specifically, the feeling of Helen’s curves beneath her hands.
The thoughts come all at once, a desperate need to know why she is in Helen’s bed with Helen nowhere to be found. But her panic doesn’t get to last long, the bedroom door creaking slightly as it’s pushed open to reveal Helen herself. The light from the corridor shines brightly into the room, Liv wincing as it causes the discomfort in her head to spike painfully.
“Oh, you’re awake,” Helen says as she enters, looking as if she’d suddenly rather be anywhere else, and Liv’s chest tightens with fear, desperately searching her fuzzy memories for whatever she did last night. “Are you feeling alright?”
“I’ve felt worse,” she mutters, because she’s almost died on a handful of occasions and a hangover could never compete with those. But she sips slowly at the glass of water anyway, cursing the slow acting painkillers as her head continues to pound.
“Do you...remember much?” Helen asks gently, still hovering near the doorway.
Her nervousness has Liv on high alert, the fear spreading through her body as Helen continues to avoid meeting her gaze.
“Barely a thing,” she replies honestly, brow furrowing in confusion as Helen looks almost disappointed by her answer. “Why? What did I do?”
Helen moves further into the room, the light behind her casting an almost ethereal glow over her skin that has Liv feeling more than a little drunk despite knowing the alcohol has surely left her system by now.
“You called me pretty,” Helen practically whispers, a slight dusting of pink gracing her cheeks as she ducks her head.
“More than once.”
“Drunk me is an idiot,” she mutters, eyes widening as she realises how her words might come across. Helen is still avoiding her gaze, though a line of tension is now running across her jaw, and Liv can’t help but let her mouth run away with an explanation. “You’re beautiful, Helen. Not just pretty.”
Helen’s eyes finally rise to meet hers at that, and she takes another step towards the bed, unsurety seemingly morphing into confidence as she moves closer.
“You told the Doctor you love him,” Helen continues, a soft smirk curling at her lips.
Liv closes her eyes briefly, a sigh snorted from her nose as she imagines the insufferable look of glee on the Doctor’s face.
“He’s never going to let me live that down,” she groans, opening her eyes as she feels Helen sit down beside her on the edge of the bed.
Helen falters, her confidence wavering as she bites her lip in a way that has Liv wanting to pull her forwards to ease Helen’s worry with her own mouth. But she forces back that desire, turning from Helen to place her glass back on the bedside table and allowing her friend to gather her thoughts.
“You told me the same,” she says and all the air disappears from Liv’s lungs.
“I told you…?”
“That you...love me. But...but not how you love the Doctor.”
Liv’s face is aflame with the heat of her blush, hands fisting tightly into the blanket bunched at her waist, and she tries to think of something, anything , to say to fix the mess she’s made.
“Is it...true?” Helen presses timidly, and Liv meets her gaze to find something akin to hope burning in Helen’s eyes.
She can’t lie to her, despite how desperately she doesn’t want to let Helen in, despite how desperately she knows Helen is far better off being her friend than anything more. So with a deep breath and a prayer to gods she doesn’t believe in, Liv nods. “But you deserved to hear it properly, I’m sorry.”
Helen doesn’t move, throat shifting as she swallows, her eyes burning brightly as she stares Liv down.
“Why didn’t you tell me? Before last night, I mean.”
“Because...I didn’t…I...” Liv sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose with her fingertips to try and hold back the pounding behind her eyeballs. “If you felt the same way, would you have told me?”
Helen gasps slightly at that, and Liv drops her hand from her face to stare at her in confusion. Helen’s eyes are fixed on the ceiling, lip back between her teeth, face flushed all the way down to her neck.
“Helen…” Liv prompts, hope beginning to flutter in her chest, a stark contrast to the fear that’s already taken root. Because Helen Sinclair deserves the universe, and Liv isn’t quite sure she’s the one to offer it.
Helen shifts then, curling her legs up onto the bed beneath her. The action draws her even closer to where Liv’s sat beneath the blanket, Helen’s warmth now pressing against her thigh.
“Tell me you love me, Liv,” she asks in a whisper, a slight hint of pleading in her tone that has Liv’s eyes snapping up to meet Helen’s in surprise.
There’s something in Helen’s gaze that sets Liv’s heart beating furiously in her chest, her hangover suddenly all but forgotten. She’s always found it impossible to say no to Helen, even when they’d only first met, and so Liv wets her lips nervously and takes a deep breath.
“I...I love you, Helen Sincl-”
She’s cut off as Helen’s mouth presses demandingly against hers, hands rising to cup Liv’s face gently. Liv’s eyes flutter shut instantly, her own hands sliding up over Helen’s legs to grasp firmly at her hips and pull Helen onto her lap. She goes willingly, mouth opening over Liv’s and twining their tongues together as Liv follows suit. Liv groans, moving a hand to bury her fingers into Helen’s hair, pulling her even closer. Helen tastes like sweet tea and mint and the promise that even if Liv can’t give her the universe, Helen has chosen her anyway.
She pulls back reluctantly as her lungs begin to burn at the lack of oxygen, breathing deeply and pressing her forehead against Helen’s.
“Does this mean…?”
“I love you, too,” Helen finishes, a lazy smile curling her lips before she leans back down to press a chaste kiss to Liv’s mouth.
And through the terror that letting people get too close to her will only end in ruin, the fear still wrapping around her spine and curling around her heart, Helen is there above her, warm and soft and beautiful. And in love with her too.