Notes: Originally written for Femslash 2012. My recipient said something to the effect of "I ship ALL the ships" and, well. I took her up on it.
After, Karone wondered if she, of all people, should have seen it coming. She really should have. She had even seen Kendrix—or at least, Kendrix's spirit, or something of the like—with her own eyes. She had felt something, someone whisper in her mind when she morphed, almost imperceptibly but not quite. She'd thought it was an echo, at first, Kendrix's last lingering touch.
Now, she thought that it had been an anchor, that the Power and Kendrix had been bound together so tightly that their connection been completely shattered. It had been severely damaged, as Kendrix herself had been, but just enough of it had remained to keep her... not alive, exactly (though there was no doubt now that Kendrix was alive) but there. Present. Drifting.
Karone should suspected it, at least, when she became aware of the fact that Maya frequently had dreams entirely spent conversing with Kendrix. But no, she had assumed it was grief, and been as wondrously surprised as all of the others when Kendrix simply walked right back into life.
No one questioned her sudden reappearance too deeply. The people of Terra Venture were no surprised by such things, it seemed, and Kendrix went right back to work, as quick and cheerful and brilliant as she'd always been, and seemingly no worse for the experience. This time, Karone didn't allow herself to be fooled, and when Kendrix asked her to take a walk one day, she accepted.
"It's funny," Kendrix said. They walked a quiet path between the trees that Maya had shown them, the sounds of the Terra Venture camp and the Mirinoi villages fading into the background.
"What is?" Karone followed Kendrix with her eyes as she craned her neck backwards, staring up into the heights of the trees.
"The trees," Kendrix said. She paused and smiled a little, adding, "Everything. This isn't what I expected. I didn't know it would be so... familiar."
"It does remind me of Earth," Karone agreed, frowning in contemplation. "Of KO-35, too."
"That was your home?"
"It used to be." Karone's frown deepened. "But I don't remember much from... before. Before I was Astronema, I mean, so when Andros and Zhane left, I went with them. I couldn't stay long on Earth, either, though. It was too..."
"Confining?" Kendrix suggested.
"I know what you mean," Kendrix said. "I do miss it. My family and my friends, the life I left behind there, I miss it, but I wouldn't want to go back to it. Not after this, even after—" She broke off suddenly. "It's getting late. We should head back."
"Probably," Karone agreed, though she eyed Kendrix in concern.
"But—would you maybe want to go out walking with me again tomorrow?"
Karone inclined her head.
They left early in the afternoon, heading west towards the sea. These were the beaches they had seen from Terra Venture, and they were as lovely in real life as they had looked. More beautiful, even, because the projections hadn't captured the precise way the sunlight glittered on the water, and there was nothing quite like the smell of the sea.
Karone watched Kendrix breathe it in and bury her bare toes in the sand, radiating peace. "I wasn't sure I would ever see the ocean again," she said quietly, and some odd note in her voice told Karone that this time they weren't talking only about leaving home.
She hesitated. "Kendrix..."
"Do you mind talking about it?"
"It was like a dream," Kendrix said softly, trailing her fingers through the sand. "I was—it hurt, at first. Then I felt heavy and warm and I just... floated, like a dream, until I was here."
"It was different for me. What I remember of it, anyway." Karone closed her eyes, searching for the memory. It wasn't something she thought of often, not anymore. "Living as Astronema felt like the dream, to me. Like I knew that I wasn't quite right, and when Andros—when I died, there was a second where I remembered before I blacked out. Then the next thing I knew, I was waking up again and I was... me again. Or as much of me as I could be."
"Does it get better?" Kendrix asked quietly. "Not feeling quiet... whole."
"Yes." Karone didn't know what made her reach out, but she laid her hand carefully on Kendrix's. "It will."
"What did you do?"
"I left." A touch of sadness crept into her voice. "I wish I hadn't had to—I'd never had friends or a family before and out of nowhere, I had both. But it felt like I was being pulled somewhere, and then the next thing I knew I was hunting down your Quasar Saber."
"It's your saber too," Kendrix reminded her.
"Yes." Karone smiled. "It's an honor I'm not sure I deserved."
"I am." Kendrix squeezed her hand. "You are everything I could have hoped for."
Their walks became a daily occurrence after that and found them walking closer together, side by side, step by step. Karone found herself noticing Kendrix in a way that she hadn't, before—everything from the way her eyes shone when she was excited to the strength in her grip, the shape of her mouth, and the way Karone sometimes felt the urge to reach out and tuck Kendrix's hair behind her ears.
Sometimes she thought she saw Kendrix noticing her, too.
So she wasn't particularly surprised in any way but pleasantly when one day, just as they were approaching the end of the trail on their way back to the village, Kendrix paused and hesitated, as if she were gathering her courage and then in one quick motion, drew Karone to her and kissed her. It was a soft kiss, warm and tender.
There was nothing to do but kiss her back.
"Why me?" Karone asked as they separated, closing her eyes as Kendrix's fingertips ghosted along her jawline.
"Because," Kendrix answered, touching Karone's neck with her lips, "you remind me what living is."
And then there was nothing to do but kiss her again.