"I'm back!" I called as I opened the door.
"Nice of you to grace us with your presence dear." I paused, mid way through closing the door, and took a deep breath. No fear.
"Hello mother." I shut the door, and headed towards her voice. I found her perched on the sofa, with Beth sitting on a seat as far away as possible. She was currently shooting the most relieved look I'd ever seen in my direction.
"You left me sitting here for hours Helena."
"You didn't inform me you were coming, mother."
She glared at me, her lips drawn in to a thin line.
"Should I have to book an appointment to see my own daughter?"
"When you haven't spoken to her in years because she's a raging homosexual, yes."
She blinked, the only sign that she was rattled, and then stood.
"I suppose that you haven't changed?"
"Nope. Never will."
"And are you still with that girl?"
My turn to be rattled.
"True love lasted then?" She sneered. I could see Beth trying to sneak out of the room out of the corner of my eye. Couldn't blame her really.
"Just because I was wrong about her doesn't mean I'm wrong about who I am."
"Oh but everything about you is wrong child."
"I'm not a child, and there is nothing wrong with me. I'm with someone now. Someone wonderful." I could see Beth pause, frowning.
"Don't tell me it's this girl?" She rounded on Beth, who froze, deer in headlights style.
"No, but she's my best friend, and she's put up with you sitting here while I was out, so try and be nice mother, if you have that capacity in your body."
"Who is it then?"
"I'm not telling you. And to be honest, I don't think I want you in my flat."
"You're asking me to leave?" She glared.
"I'm telling you to."
"Well, very well then." She picked up her bag, and headed to the door.Pausing there, she turned back and sniffed. "Your father would have been so disappointed."
"What do you mean, would have been?"
"Well he's dead dear. Why else would I visit my disappointment of a daughter?" And with that she walked out of the flat, leaving me standing there like someone had frozen me in place.
Beth stared down at me sadly, a cup of tea in her hand.
"Can you try to get out of bed today?"
I shook my head slowly, burying myself deeper in to the covers. She sighed, and put the tea down.
"Alright. I'll make notes for you again. Aussie Mac asked where you were. She looked concerned." I blinked. Oh, Alex. I should have... "I told her you were ill."
"He meant a lot to you didn't he?"
I nodded, and she left me with a sympathetic nod, and a gentle pat on the shoulder.
I could hear voices outside my room, which sounded like they were coming from the door. Then I heard the door shut, and the voices got louder, and closer. My door opened, and I peered towards it, through the dark that the blinds afforded.
Alex appeared in the gloom. I blinked.
"Beth told me you were ill. I didn't really believe her. You'd have let me know."
"Sorry." I glanced to were my phone sat, dead, on the bedside table. "I let my phone die."
"She's also put two and two together, although she promised to keep it to herself, if you explain yourself later." I nodded gently, and she frowned. "What's wrong darling?" She sat herself on the bed, and stroked my hair gently. I couldn't bring myself to reply, but her hand felt so comforting, that I did relax in to her touch. She leant down and pressed a kiss to my forehead, and then lay down next to me, pulling me in to her arms. "Your mother?"
I snuggled in to her, breathing in her scent. I must smell a bit after days of lying here. I felt ashamed.
"My mother came to... to tell me... that my dad has... is... dead." Her hand, stroking my hair, paused for a moment, and then carried on.
"I'm so sorry. Were you two... close?"
"He stayed in touch after... yes."
"Oh my darling." She pulled my closer, and I rested my head on her chest and cried in to her top for what felt like hours. When I'd finished, she gently sat me up. "Come on. You need to shower, and have a proper meal. Beth said you haven't eaten much."
"I'm too tired."
"Well you can sleep afterwards. Come on." She gently helped me up, and sent me in to the bathroom. The water actually did help. It was soothing, and woke me up from the stupor I'd been in. When I emerged, in a towel, the sight of her getting a little distracted my almost nakedness was even more cheering. I gave her a small smile as I rifled through my drawers for some clothes.
"Don't look." I murmured. She shot me a pained look, but turned away as I changed. When I was done, she sat me down and brushed my hair. It felt so good; the way she would scratch her nails against my scalp when she'd finished a particular section.
"Come on. I'm going to cook." She pulled me up, and kept my hand in hers as she led me to the kitchen. Beth was sitting there, practically vibrating with anticipation, and her eyes widened when she saw our hands together.
"Okay, you two look adorable together. And if she could get you out of bed when I couldn't, she has to be good."
"Well thank you for that glowing reference." Alex chuckled. "I'm going to cook for Helena. Would you like to join us?"
"Sure." Beth pulled me in to a hug when Alex let go to rummage through the kitchen. "Are you feeling better?"
"Yes." I nodded, and glanced over at Alex, who shot me a small grin and carried on searching. "You can't tell anyone okay? Not even Raph. Just in case."
"My lips are sealed."