Summary: After finding out that their parents are evil criminal geniuses, being betrayed by their friend and leader, and running away from home for good, Karolina Dean and Nico Minoru manage to find some comfort from a suddenly dangerous world in each other.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, Brian K. Vaughn and a bunch of other really talented people I can't remember do. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.
Nico tilted her head, her eyes scanning the sky above as a soft smile played across her lips. Karolina was zooming above leaving sparkling rainbow tendrils in her wake lighting up the night sky with a beautiful kaleidoscope of colours. It was probably one of the most beautiful things that she had ever seen, and considering the last year of her life seeing something so beautiful was a very welcome sight. She was beginning to believe that beauty no longer existed in the world, that it had been taken away that night she had seen her parents for who they truly were in the Wilders basement, but in a world where Karolina could do that – even if she wasn't from theirs – there had to still be some good, something worth while, something worth fighting for.
"That looked like fun," Nico commented with a smile as Karolina landed a few meters away from her, still glowing although the light now hugged her body instead of dripping off her leaving swirling strands of light flying behind her.
"You have no idea," Karolina gushed happily. "Frisson," she sighed grinning. "You should let me take you up sometime."
"I'd love to," Nico replied returning the blonde's smile, getting caught up in her excitement. "But your svelte, O.C-esque figure doesn't exactly inspire confidence," she continued causing Karolina to frown momentarily before looking down at herself.
"I'm stronger than I look," Karolina offered looking back up to meet Nico's dubious gaze. "Really! It must be the alien physiology or something. I'm not exactly the She-Hulk but I could totally carry you," she went on becoming animated again.
"I don't know, Kar," Nico hedged a little glancing at Karolina's body again and not being able to get past the girls model-like figure.
"I wouldn't offer if I didn't know I could do it. I'd never let anything happen to you, you know that," Karolina said softly slipping on her inhibitor bracelet as she did. She wanted Nico to be able to look at her and see her sincerity without having to squint.
Nico smiled at that. "That's right," she said grinning. "I'm your valuable aren't I?" she continued making reference to the fact that earlier that evening Karolina had reached out and grabbed her hand when Chase had told them to hold onto their valuables as he started up The LeapFrog.
"Yeah well," Karolina mumbled dropping her head down as she blushed strongly wishing she'd kept her bracelet off so that her light would hide her blush. "I mean, we gotta stick together, you know. You know girl power, sisters doin' it for themselves and all that. We're all we've got out here."
"Hey," Nico said taking a step closer to Karolina who was still staring down at her shoes. "I didn't mean to embarrass you or anything," she continued touching the blonde on the shoulder to encourage her to look up. "I kinda needed the contact. To feel grounded you know. I'll be your 'valuable' any day, and you can be my 'person'," Nico finished smiling encouragingly as Karolina finally looked up at her.
"Whatever you say Dr. Yang," Karolina murmured before smiling widely as Nico shrugged and then grinned at her.
"If I'm Yang, you know who that makes you, right?" Nico asked playfully.
"Hey!" Karolina exclaimed. "I'm skinny, but I'm not Grey skinny!" she continued indignantly before smiling. "I actually know what a burger tastes like."
"Yeah, a veggie burger," Nico retorted hopping out of the way as Karolina swatted at her.
"It still counts," Karolina said scowling playfully. "You don't think there's anything wrong with being a vegetarian, do you?" she continued, her voice serious and searching all of a sudden.
Nico remained quiet for a moment studying her friend. Karolina was putting a strange sort of importance on such an innocuous question and Nico got the impression that she needed to answer the question carefully.
"Not even," Nico said softly. "Hell, after 'Super-Size Me' I totally swore of meat forever … well a few months. I was weak, but even though I gave in and had a chicken breast I totally got into and really liked a lot of vegetarian dishes."
Karolina studied Nico's beautiful face for a moment. She could tell that Nico was answering her question carefully, but she couldn't tell if Nico had understood the subtext of her question or not. And if she had she wasn't sure what the brunette's response meant. It could really be taken one way or another.
Karolina forced herself to smile and relax. "Sorry, I didn't mean to go all EarthSave on you," she finally responded. "It's just that a lot of people think being a vegetarian is pretentious or stupid. Like they think it's one phase of teenage rebellion or something. But it's a part of me you know, something that hasn't changed after all of this Twilight Zone weirdness."
"I know what you mean," Nico said earnestly reaching out for Karolina again and taking her hand. "It's like I cling to my black nail polish like I'm Melanie Griffith and its Antonio Banderas or something. It's something constant, and something that was mine with no connection to the You-Know-Who's," she said referring to her parents who were no less evil than Voldemort and his Death-Eaters. "I've always believed we should embrace who we are, celebrate what makes us unique and separates us from the pack. I believe that more than ever now. In true superhero form, Sister Grimm says 'Freak On!'"
Karolina smiled and squeezed Nico's hand in thanks for her attempt at cheering her up, but the brunette's response only reminded her of how very much she would like to get her freak on, and how that was the problem.
However, as Nico squeezed her hand back and smiled at her warmly Karolina wondered if it really had to be a problem. Sure Nico had kissed Alex, and that evil emo asshat Topher, but then again she had tried to kiss Topher too and that certainly didn't mean anything. Despite the boy kissing Nico had responded positively to her telling her that she looked hot when they saw each other at the Wilder's before their whole world had changed. And Nico had let her hold her hand for like the entire LeapFrog ride, and had come looking for her and was now willingly holding her hand for far longer than was necessary. Maybe Nico felt something for her too, maybe Nico had been watching her because she thought she was beautiful and not because she liked pretty lights. Maybe Nico had gotten the subtext of her vegetarian question, and was trying to encourage her with her 'celebrate what makes us unique' speech. Besides, even if Nico didn't feel the same she wasn't the type to freak out over a girl trying to kiss her. Was she?
"Kar?" Nico asked softly seeing the blonde staring blankly out towards the trees that surrounded the wooded area they had landed in. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Karolina responded softly turning her eyes to Nico whose face was deliriously close to her own. "I was just thinking."
"About?" Nico asked hoping that the blonde wasn't angsting about being an alien again.
"About whether or not it would be a good idea to do this," Karolina breathed out swaying towards Nico, her head ducking down slightly as she closed the distance between their faces, her eyes fluttering shut as she moved.
"What are you doing out here!" Chase yelled clomping through the forest loudly. "Some kind of Ya-Ya Sisterhood meeting, cause I'm not really up on secret societies anymore," he finished crashing through the brush.
Karolina froze her lips a scant centimeter away from Nico's when she heard Chase's voice. After a moment of disbelief, frustration and panic Karolina then pulled away from Nico and averted her gaze, putting an acceptable distance between them just as Chase broke through into the clearing where they were standing.
"Holy awkward silence, Batman," Chase exclaimed looking at Nico who was staring at Karolina who was studiously avoiding both of their gazes. "Sorry to interrupt your weird staring at each other, but Gert just finished dinner and if you don't want Molly and Old Lace to eat yours you better get back to The LeapFrog," Chase continued when neither girl spared him a glance. Despite the fact that words were clearly coming out of his mouth Nico was staring at Karolina and Karolina was staring at nothing as far as he could see. Girls were so weird. "Right, so why don't you just go on ignoring me and I'll see ya on the flip side," Chase continued still speaking only to himself before muttering under his breath a little and going back the way he had come.
"We should probably head back," Karolina said as Chase's footsteps disappeared into the night air. "I'm actually really hungry. I think it's been like twelve hours since I last ate. The foster parents weren't really great with the remembering to feed me thing. And, I don't think I could take on Old Lace or Molly if it …"
"Karolina," Nico said interrupting the blonde's rambling. She wasn't always the most observant person in world, but there was no way that she had missed the fact that Karolina had been about 0.25 seconds away from kissing her when Chase had crashed in on them.
"Maybe if we worked together," Karolina began after a moment picking up where she had left off as if Nico hadn't spoken. "But we'd have to find a knife for you to use your staff and I'm not sure I'd want you to bleed yourself just so that I can eat some …"
"Karolina!" Nico said more forcefully, her tone finally drawing Karolina's eyes over to hers for the first time since their almost kiss. Nico could see the fear in Karolina's blue eyes as they finally met hers and when the blonde began to speak her voice trembled slightly.
"Nico, I … I just wanted to, I mean …" Karolina started hesitantly biting her bottom lip as her eyes skittered away from Nico's momentarily.
"It's okay," Nico said softly, surprising herself slightly with her words, or more accurately by meaning them. She wasn't just being PC about it, or trying not to hurt her friend's feelings. She was, surprisingly, really okay with the idea that Karolina had tried to kiss her. In fact she found herself kind of wishing that she had succeeded.
"It's okay?" Karolina repeated her eyebrows drawing together slightly. Nico had said that she gave up on boys but she had never thought she really meant it, and she had been trying to convince herself that the brunette might be interested in her but she hadn't really been totally convinced that was the case. Nico had just been standing so close to her, and she had wanted to kiss the girl for so very long that she just couldn't stop herself from leaning in to … but when Chase had interrupted and Nico had stared at her she had really expected the brunette to at least demand some kind of explanation for what she thought she was doing.
"Yeah," Nico breathed out watching Karolina's beautiful face as it scrunched up in concern. "I mean I don't really know what I'm doing, and I don't think that you have a much better idea, but at least that's real. Confusion is good, it's honest, and other than to live I haven't really wanted anything in a long time, but right now I want this. And I don't know what that means in the big picture or whatever but …"
Karolina swept forward, the motion awkward and rushed and pressed her lips against Nico's stopping the flow of words being expelled from the brunette's lips. It would have been nice to hear Nico confess her undying love for her, but she would take what she could get for the moment. The truth was that none of them knew anything about the big picture any more their lives were like tumbleweed just blowing all over the place all willy-nilly wherever the wind took them. All they had was 'now', the moment that they were in, and that's what she would be concerned with. Right then, at that moment, Nico wanted her and she wanted Nico and so for that moment there was no confusion. Only lips pressing against each other, exploring gently but thoroughly as Karolina's hands came up to rest of Nico's cheeks, cradling her face.
"Screw the big picture," Karolina mumbled softly as the need for oxygen pulled them away from each others lips. "Freak On."
"Freak On, indeed," Nico repeated a bright smile crossing her face, perhaps the first real smile Karolina had seen from the goth girl in years. "Damn girl, talk about 'come on baby, light my fire'," she continued a second later biting her lip.
Karolina smiled back and then reached for the bracelet on her arm carefully removing it, the clearing they were in lighting up a split second later as she began to shimmer and glow.
"Yeah, but we can get much higher. Much, much higher," Karolina told her softly a smile playing on her lips as she held out her hand to Nico. "I promise I won't let go."
"I'm gonna trust that you mean that literally and not in a Kate Winslet in 'Titanic' way," Nico replied nonetheless reaching out to take Karolina's hand.
Karolina tugged gently pulling Nico into her body. "Trust me, there's no way you'll freeze to death around me," the blonde said softly as she wrapped her arms securely around Nico's waist so that the brunette was surrounded by her pleasantly warm shroud of light.
"I do," Nico said keeping her eyes open, watching as the light that surrounded them began to swirl as Karolina slowly began to lift them off of the ground. "After all, you are my person."
"And you're my valuable," Karolina whispered as they floated past the treetops. "My precious," she continued softly in a craggily voice into Nico's hair causing the brunette to laugh as they disappeared into the night sky.