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Just A Dream

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The woman was soft in her hand, as Grace gripped her thigh. Her lips chasing after Grace as she leaned back to breathe, capturing Grace’s bottom lip within her own, and tugging, until Grace surged forward to meet her again, to pay her back in kind.

They were tumbling together. Grace felt one of those thighs pressing in between her own, riding up the fabric there, the silk slip dress shifting upwards, with nothing left to separate their skin. Fingers shifting in the dark, pressing closer too, and Grace could feel the slide, so close.

Lips were on her again, sliding down her jaw, to press kisses to her neck, long drawn incidents of touch. Grace reached out and tangled her fingers into the woman’s dark hair, trying to pull her impossibly closer, to try to keep her from stopping.

It didn’t matter, the woman was relentless anyway, free hand sliding down Grace’s back to hold her there. Grace closed her eyes again, overwhelmed.

 

-----

 

She can’t move.

Her hands are drawn up behind her, but nothing is soft anymore - the blanket still is, but not -

Grace opens her eyes again, feeling heavier than she thought she should, and all she could see was darkness.

It was the middle of the night. So, just a dream.

But she still couldn’t move her arms. Grace tried to roll herself over, but she was already impossibly close to the wall, and when she attempted to move in the other direction, she found something binding her within a certain space. Grace only had about a foot of movement around her, on either side.

She stiffened up considerably, the lazy lull of sleep drifting away at an accelerated pace, replaced with an abrupt alertness. It was so dark, she tried to make herself focus - it was important, this was important - to try and make out something.

When she finally started to notice the vague shapes and forms, her gaze settled on a pair of dark eyes.

The eyes weren’t very far away, and they were the only thing in the room with even a glimmer of light, the fragile illumination barely breaking through the fabric of the curtains bouncing off of them, muted. A chill came over Grace, staring back at those eyes.

No one was supposed to be in her home. Grace didn’t let anyone in, invite anyone over. She definitely would have remembered, if she had. She tried tugging herself forward again, but her arms were bound up in something, something cold, metal. Now that she was fully awake, Grace realized the texture of the blanket below her wasn’t the same as the one on her own bed. She slept with a fuzzy red blanket wrapped around her, this one was a comforter, smooth surface - and why was she on top of it?

She’d fallen asleep beneath her covers. She always did. It had always gone without notice, before. Just one of those details too obvious to really ever bother recalling. Grace was starting to make out the fuzzy edges of the room better. She noticed a lamp by the curtains, shade in a different shape than the one she had in her own room. Another unnoticed feature, an aspect she never really gave particular notice to, but a detail that stood out to her starkly now.

This wasn’t her home. This was someplace else.

This wasn’t good at all.

“You’re awake,” a voice said - a woman’s voice. It was dark like the room, underlaid with some ghost of something sharper, that sounded distinctly like the fear felt, sparking up in Grace as she wondered what the inevitable outcome to this situation might be. It wasn’t looking good.

“Who are you?” Grace said, trying to present something bordering on authority, but slight tremors slipped through.

The eyes grew closer, and Grace could start to make out the form of the woman, the cascade of dark hair haloing around her. A hand reached out to touch Grace’s face, to tilt it to look directly into those eyes. The touch was cold. Grace couldn’t manage to shift out of it. It was a vice as it held her in place.

Lips touched hers, and it felt all too familiar. Like Grace’s dream.

Except that it was all wrong. Bitingly cool, unrelenting pressure moving against her, trying to coax her mouth to open, sucking at her bottom lip gently, except nothing about it was gentle at all. She felt powerless, and soft. Vulnerable.

The woman’s skin felt off, somehow. Not enough give. No warmth, except the transfer of Grace’s, taken in a kiss and pressed back against her.

Arms snaked around Grace’s body, and they were the same exact proportions - maybe while Grace had been dreaming, this had already begun. It made her blood grow cold, her veins almost stinging inside of her. Fingers slid into Grace’s hair, gentle press, and Grace yelped.

“Get off me,” she said, twisting her face as much as she could, trying to break the contact of their lips. “Let go, let go now.”

The face leaned back, just a sliver of space for Grace to move within, and Grace contemplated screaming.

She did. For help, for somebody. It didn’t occur to her until after she started shouting, that maybe anyone else nearby might be working with this woman. And they would not be a beneficial addition to this situation at all.

To her credit, the woman didn’t try to stop her, or slot back against her to take her breath away anew. She just watched, setting her head down onto the pillow, lying next to Grace. In the dark of the room, she looked motionless. Like a mannequin.

The woman smelled heavy, like men’s cologne, a touch of amber. Her hair smelled lighter, like strawberries, so close to Grace’s face. Grace could imagine a house in some indistinct neighborhood, far away from her own home, with grand windows and rich interior furniture - maybe like a lawyer’s office. She could picture this woman, unknown, dressed in black and greeting some equally mysterious man. Grace imagines the woman, whispering hello in his ear and kissing him on the cheek as she hugs him in greeting, then left with the scent of his expensive cologne on her suit, for hours afterward.  

The woman’s kiss would be a facade, anything but genuine, a touch that promised danger if her expectations weren’t met.

That’s what Grace thought those lips pressed against her felt like.

The fact Grace was almost intoxicated by the sensation of it, a moment ago, seemed far more dangerous than even the predicament of her present location. Sure, she was technically abducted. But that some part, had enjoyed that sweet press - 

The woman waited for her words to die down. When Grace was finally finished, the woman stroked one hand along Grace’s back, breaking as she passed over each chained up arm, some attempt at placation. It was still, somehow, something approaching soothing.

The woman felt impossibly good. Maybe Grace was still in a dream, and this was some succubus come to indulge her lust.

But it felt too stark, too real. This wasn’t a dream. And Grace wasn’t intoxicated. She was just turned on. Unreasonably, illogically - but that was it. There was no further explanation, nothing mystical to blame this on.

“Who are you? Why am I here?”

“I’m Kara,” the woman’s voice was velvet, obfuscating a dagger within its folds.

“Why am I here, Kara?”

“Because I was bored.”

That was hardly an explanation. “You kidnap people when you’re bored?”

There was a breathy chuckle in the darkness, Grace felt one of the woman’s hands stroke her jaw, gentle. Some misguided instinct within Grace wanted to relax against it. Her veins were still screaming inside of her, on edge. “No.” The touch felt so good, Grace could melt into it, if she just let herself. “I usually kill them.”

That was a good reason to twitch away from the touch. Grace was still trapped between her, and the wall, that heavy metal on her wrists locking her into this dangerous position. “What are you going to do to me?”

“I haven’t decided.” The woman shifted forward, pressing a kiss to Grace. Those lips were still cold. “The way you moaned when I took you, I’m considering alternatives.”

Grace’s eyes were still adjusting, too slowly, and the dim glow from the city outside the window was finally enough for her to make out the woman’s features.

She was beautiful. Sharp cheekbones, soft-looking lips - the kind you can just imagine sinking into, getting lost against. Grace would paint them into a canvas, like a delicate bow. But they aren’t soft.

They’re relentless, and they’re against Grace again, pressing, predatory. Then they’re drifting, like before, like in her dream, across her jaw, down her neck, and she’s gasping before she can think to say something.

Then something sharp is against her neck, really truly sharp, and Grace is immediately still, horrified it’s a razor, or a knife. This woman looks as if she’d be the type to be perfectly content, with a knife, in bed, having her way with it, like that’s what she’s used to, on any given night.

So when instead, a tongue smooths over Grace’s skin, she almost wants to let go of the tension that’s coiling up in her. All the racing of her heart, adrenaline surging, Grace wants to collapse from the effort of it all, just let go. But she can’t - even though the scent now is overwhelming, all heavy warmth dragging her downward, into the darkness. Her eyelids feel heavy. She can’t keep them open, from falling shut at the weight of it all.

Grace feels that sharpness again, and then almost nothing - a delicate pressure, like a fingernail dashing across her skin, the sensation of the ghost of scratches. Except just once, just there, a few inches above her collarbone.

And then those lips are pressing gentle heavy kisses, sucking against her, and Grace feels like she’s being pulled back to sleep.

Grace can feel those lips growing warmer, a hot, too intimate, point of connection - and then everything is too heavy, and everything goes black.

 

-----

 

Grace Hendricks tastes like shortcake, ripe berries, sunlight.

It’s not something Kara is used to, could imagine getting used to. It’s too much. It’s like some scene Kara watched from afar when she was a little girl. Some other person’s life, in her periphery, unrealistic, unreal.

It seems lonely.

Not that Kara isn’t. She’s always been alone, she always will be. That’s all there is.

She doesn’t want to drain it until there’s nothing left. Kara doesn’t want to be left alone, in this room.

Kara pulls away, as she feels the lull pulling Grace toward it. The hint of death, creeping up, hungry. More ravenous than Kara, unstoppable once it starts. Kara has more self control than that single force of nature, and so she licks the wound, helps the skin seal.

Grace is quiet in her arms, limp and heavy and gone. But her heartbeat is still a weak patter against her chest, the pulse something Kara can pinpoint as it just barely raises, up and down - a point of staccato on Grace’s neck. She tasted like sunlight.

Kara never really felt too good, standing in it, back when she was alive. This room suddenly presses in on her, making her skin crawl, like she’s being illuminated anew. It’s the fresh warm blood, surging through her. Making her feel alive.

And life is fear, and danger, and being exposed. She didn’t eat a monster, she took a bite out of something else. Kara pushes herself upward, staring down at the woman with red hair splayed wildly about on the silk pillowcase. She listens to the hushed breaths, slow and easy. Her body is all soft expanse of delicate skin, smattering of occasional freckles climbing up limbs and disappearing under silk nightgown.

Kara gets to her feet and straightens up the room - she was never here. The body is warm, and so is Kara’s, now that the same blood is circulating in her, making her the same. Kara lifts her up - Grace Hendricks, a most captivating target - and carries her out.

She cradles Grace carefully, making her way to the car, trying to pretend that the action is impersonal. But her heart is beating in gentle sync with the body she holds, and it's hard to differentiate where her skin ends and the woman’s begins. They’re both one living thing, right now. And as much as Grace has just extended her own life, now it's time for Kara to do the same for her.

So it’s incidental, that she adjusts Grace’s head to lean softly on the headrest of the seat, when Kara sets her down.

The woman won’t remember her. They rarely do - people have all kinds of ways of justifying to themselves the horrors they’ve been through.

But Kara is more concerned with how she’ll justify it to herself.

The taste of bright warmth is in her mouth, all over her, consuming. It feels like watching the people she’s killed. A husband embracing his wife, before he climbs into a plane to a destination Kara will intercept him at, where Kara will tie him up and debate whether she should drink him deep, or just cut to the chase and put a bullet through him. A child on the other end of a phone, not quite crying yet, as John stabs a knife into a woman’s thigh, asks her one last time, if she’d like to tell them the truth.

John himself, staring at a woman across the way, in some indistinct bar, eyes fracturing and focused like pinpoints, the opposite of subtle, impossible to repress. Watching the woman while holding his breath, as another man goes over to her and presses a kiss to her lips.

Kara makes no noise as she slips in, puts Grace back where she belongs, where Kara has taken her from. There is no sign of Kara having ever existed, there never is. She is good at this part.

She always has been, even before -

She’d always sort of been like this. Even before the bloodlust became a requirement to stay some mockery of alive. Kara had always sort of needed it, anyway. Needed to feel the struggle, the tensed muscles scraping against her, the pleading broken sounds. Needed to see the moment in a target’s eyes - the moment a person broke.

Everyone deserved to break, as far as she was concerned. They all lied in the illusions, like the sun couldn’t reveal them, not them, only Kara - only Kara’s lies. But they were all broken shadows and masks. They were all rotten.

Grace curled up, trying to seek warmth from herself, as Kara had slipped the red blanket back over her. Grace had tasted ripe.

The taste of Grace, in her mouth, everywhere, is all Kara can think about, as she drives back.

 

-----

 

When Grace wakes up, she’s under her fuzzy red covers, draped around her like puddles of crimson blood.

She feels miles past lethargic, and she’d give anything to just sink back down against her mattress and go back to the soft darkness of sleep. But her throat feels so dry, and the sun is shining far too bright, streaming through her sheer white curtains like strobe lights. So Grace pushes herself upward, riding out the dizziness, and forces herself to get to the kitchen.

She pours herself a glass of water, squinting against the sunny light of the day. It’s Sunday, she thinks. One of those days she doesn’t have anything critical to do, at any rate.

After a few dozen minutes milling about uselessly, gulping down water between expanses of staring at nothing at all, after managing to start a pot of coffee in between those useless moments, Grace makes herself walk to the bathroom. She needs to brush her teeth.

Her mouth tastes a little bit like metal, now that it’s wet.

In the mirror, she notices a delicate trail of purple, and yellow, canvassing down the side of her neck. At the end of it, there’s two small cuts, scabbing over.

 

-----

 

Kara is delightfully hungry. She’s just finished off her first target for the night. Now, she’s leaning against the periphery of the tinted room, sipping something that’s supposed to be strong, just taking in the atmosphere.

It’s more muted than their first stop had been. Less people milling about, less grinding bodies, more lulling pockets of conversation and layered glances. John’s looking around like anyone would be good enough, and no one would. Then, he chances his eyes over to hers. John looks at her, like she’s the one who turned him, made him into this.

Not that she did. Not that it’s relevant. If John doesn’t like himself, then he’s the only one responsible for that. Everyone makes their own choice, about what kind of monster they want to be. Even the people they prey on. She lets go of his stare, looks through him, and back out to scan through the crowd. John wanders off, then. Kara hopes whatever he’s up to, he takes his time. She isn’t in a rush.

They already had their fill once, in an alley a few miles away. There’s nothing left, just the body. The remains, anyway.

Kara would have made a fuss of cleaning things up, but no one’s going to be able to identify it. Not after everything they did.

The bar is lit up with shaded overhanging lamps, and there’s a mirror behind it, with rows of liquor bottles lined up alongside the glass. Kara wonders if anyone notices that her and John aren’t in it, won’t ever be. The bottles obfuscate enough of the surface.

Still, it’d be nice to know if her hair was in place. They’d taken a tumble back in the alley - she’d thrown John against a brick wall, after the body had been drained. She’d sunken herself into him, as he’d clutched on, iron grip, trying to hold her in place or maybe shove her away - she hadn’t known, didn’t care. Then he’d dragged her by the hair, off of him, and she’d responded by grabbing his face and dragging their lips together.

She’s relatively sure he’d bitten her. But that was nothing - that healed, as fast as the skin took to break. Her hair though - she’d gone to a lot of trouble to curl it tonight. Kara wanted to look nice, elegant.

This was an elegant sort of place, after all. And her newest fascination was sitting at the bar, on a leather seat, looking around and sipping at a mixed drink.

Lovely red hair feathered around her face - Grace had gone to the trouble of doing her hair up too.

Kara crossed the room to her, despite her better judgement. John was out of sight. Whatever he was up to, she hoped he stayed gone long enough for her to indulge herself in this. It wasn’t something she wanted to share. She slid into the stool beside Grace, light as air, leaning forward toward the bar and making herself at home.

“Waiting for someone?”

Grace honed in on her, bringing her gaze back from the flicker around the room. “I - not really.”

Now she was directed fully at Kara, legs subtly shifting to point toward her, crossed under the counter, assessing her. Kara raised an eyebrow, took a sip of the drink that wasn’t doing anything for her, waiting, giving all of her attention back.

“I - my date never showed.” Grace’s face lit up in a genuine, good-natured smile, maybe at Kara's attention. It made Kara feel bare, exposed. People don't look at her that way. Not her. “I guess I’m just not really good at the whole meeting new people thing.”

People looked at Kara like they knew death was right behind her. Always far too aware that Kara’s hands, Kara’s teeth - that she was going to bring it to them. Grace must not think people are so bad, as a generality. To not notice.

To be that innocent. To think people could ever be that good. She must be disappointed when they show what they really are. No one in this world is good.

Kara caught the bartender in a look that magnetized, then ordered them both refills. As the man drifted back off to make them, she returned all of her attention to Grace. She was still smiling, polite, eyes warm - a shallow beach on a sunny day. “Maybe you just weren’t meant to meet them.”

“Maybe,” Grace laughed, and it was summer breeze. “I keep - I kind of think that’s a good way of looking at it. Who wants to put effort into someone who won’t even give you the time of day, anyway?”

Kara smiled, “or the time of night.” She took another sip, the bottom of the glass. The alcohol didn’t burn enough. It didn’t make her veins race and her heart surge back into movement. She felt sluggish and cold, thirsty and delirious at the heat smiling beside her. Grace gave another nervous chuckle.

Grace didn’t seem like the type to go to bars on a weeknight.

“You could always find someone else.”

“Oh, yeah,” Grace took a gulp of her own drink, like she was taking a shot, little crinkles around her eyes as she glared absentmindedly at the bottles by the mirror. After a moment, Grace returned her attention to Kara. “I don’t really - I don’t know how good I’d be at that.”

The bartender returned with their drinks, taking the cash Kara handed them and then moving off. They could probably sense it, the danger, the edge. They never looked Kara in the eye, dashed off before they could get trapped into a situation that would force them near her. Instead, they milled off to the other end of the bar, to a group of rowdy men.

Grace’s eyes flash wide for a moment, lashes fluttering against the dusting of peach eyeshadow she’d put on, little shimmering glitter finish under the dim light above them, as Kara pushes over a drink to replace the one Grace has just decimated. “Thank you.”

Kara keeps smiling, hopes Grace doesn’t see the sharpness in it. The threat. It’s not like Kara could turn it off, not even if she wanted. It’s just a part. Who she is now. Maybe who she always was, maybe even when she was little. Kara raises her glass for a small toast, clinking it against Grace’s as she picks her own up, “To you finding a better catch. Or just,” Kara feels all bare again, thoughts stumbling, at the now soft crinkles pulling at Grace’s face. The lines of a smile, under the eyes, irrepressible and present, even without the lips themselves. “I hope your night gets better.”

“Yours too,” Grace says, done with another excessive gulp. “I mean, however its going. I hope it’s better.” Grace is looking at her, sun rays blowing this place into high contrast, and Kara feels as if she’s the only one really there in the world.

It would almost be lonely - but Grace is the source of this brightness, and Grace is alive, and maybe that means Kara isn’t alone right now. Maybe this is what connection was supposed to be like, when Kara was human. She’d never really managed it, but maybe - now that she was this, it could never really be the same thing. It felt like a kind of bravery, just staring back, letting her own gaze linger.

“I’m Grace, by the way.”

Her lips tried to give her away, too immediate, but Kara self-corrected before she made a hopeless error. “Annie.”

Somehow, it still felt like an error though. Grace’s eyebrows bent, slight tension, like the name felt off to her. She shouldn’t have remembered - couldn’t. It’s not how this worked.

Or maybe it did, and this is why Kara was supposed to kill them the first time.

Whatever deception Grace detected, or suspected, she simply replied, “Nice to meet you, Annie.”

How dangerous, to ignore her own instincts, to throw herself headfirst into danger. How Grace had managed to survive this long, in a world full of monsters and worse, was baffling to Kara.

Those men down the bar, they were wastes - if John wasn’t feeling picky, maybe he’d mob them when they left the building. Tear into their throats like the rip of a chainsaw and throw them around by their limbs, twisting and breaking and going down for the kill as they lie on top of each other, one after the other, seeing death in the body below, right before they joined it too.

The bartender, Kara knew, put bad things into pretty women’s drinks. And he looked to the phone at the bar always on edge, like it’d been the cops before, tipped off about him, and it might well be again. In a better world, his boss might have fired him, reported him. He’d be in some hole someplace. In Kara’s world, he’d be hit by a speeding car as she pulled out of the parking lot, cause men like him weren’t even worth eating.

John rarely felt like anyone was, but he did it anyway. He had to, it's how they survived now. It’s why he existed.

Kara remembers being human, remembers a man she’d never let herself think the name of again. She was human. He was wrong. She had waited for him to sleep, unconscious, and choked him out with a wire. She had hung him up, finding the strength somehow to trudge through it quickly, quietly. Then she’d left town.

It had been before the job she has now. It had just been life.

Smiling children, and strangers walking past, and nobody ever really looking when it mattered. Sometimes they did, Kara could acquiesce. But there was just too much horror, to catch it all. She’s killed a lot of people, and a great deal of them didn’t even acknowledge they were a part of it.

Kara knows she’s part of it. John can keep pretending he’s only doing it to keep things moving, to keep up the strength to hunt down the targets that really matter. The reason he’s supposed to be here, not in the ground yet. But that’s a storybook tale they spin to themselves, to ignore the fact that the looking glass is shattered. The world is full of lies and they’re just another one.

It’s a hard thing, to face. You never want to realize you’ve become it. That it’s possible you always were it. That the bloodlust and the anger was there before you ever turned, before your heart stopped the first time, before you had some excuse.

“I feel like I know you from somewhere.” Grace says, snapping Kara out of her thoughts.

“Maybe I’ve seen you around.”

“I don’t usually go out to the bars,” Grace laughs, hiding behind her hair and her drink, taking another sip. “Maybe you’ve been to the Lowsend Gallery? I have some of my art up there. It hasn’t sold in two years - but I’m just kind of glad it’s out of my house, now. You know when you’re just done with a piece, and you’re ready for it to be with someone else? Because you’re past that point in your life?”

Kara thinks about the body she'd carved up a month ago, in a desert somewhere. She’d done such intricate work, made it squeal and spill - both guts and secrets. It had taken hours. Kara didn’t care if it was just decomposing, useless matter, now. “I think so. I haven’t gone there though, maybe I’ll have to. I’d love to see your work.”

A lie, she saw the paintings - the ones Grace apparently still likes enough to keep in the house. Elegant lines, fluid like dancers. Colors that Kara had to imagine the brightness of, in the dark of night as she placed Grace back into her bed. They looked like a world Kara couldn’t imagine, but they suited Grace all the same. Whatever world Grace saw, when she looked out at it all, it existed for her. Even if it wasn’t within Kara’s capacity to understand.

Kara noticed a flush of pink rising across Grace’s cheeks, another uncontrolled smile getting repressed by Grace taking another sip to stifle the movement. “I’d love to take you sometime, if you’d like.”

Kara tried to capture Grace’s eyes, but the woman was darting them off to the side, to anything else.

When Kara didn’t say anything for a few moments, Grace finally looked back, setting down her drink and fumbling it between her hands. “I’m sorry - that was probably - how silly -”

“I’d like that,” Kara said, and for some reason it felt like her smile had no teeth to it, no bite.

All she was picturing, was a scene she couldn’t really play out - the two of them, hand in hand in the daylight of the street, turning a corner and walking into a wide room with generous windows. Kara looking around, trying to pick out the images that belonged to Grace, the ones that stood out as a world more gentle and kind, full of beauty that didn’t require rage or violence to be whole. To find them and marvel for a moment, lost. Then to pay some sort of compliment, and the words really wouldn’t matter - it would just matter that Grace smiled back at it, a blush painting her face and crinkles around her eyes.

“But I won’t really be in town long enough for that. I have to leave tomorrow. I was just here for a conference.”

“Oh.” Grace takes a breath, and it looks like she’s about to apologize again. The only lie that Kara can detect coming from her - the lie that she needs to be sorry, when she really, truly, doesn’t. She hasn’t done anything. Kara doesn’t want it.

Kara reaches out before she can stop herself, strokes one of Grace’s hands that was busying itself with the glass. It’s some attempt at placating, or comfort, and Kara doesn’t really know how.

“If it happens to be open now?”

Grace stills her hands, lets Kara keep touching them. “It closed at eight tonight.”

Kara contemplates breaking in, turning the knob and pushing it open because it’s easy enough, for someone like her. Walking around in the light of the half moon, more shadows, more at home. Looking at the colors, less saturated than they’re meant to be viewed. Bearable. Kara could meet Grace halfway, that scene wouldn’t have to be just a dream. Kara couldn’t go visit in the middle of the day, when its open and the public is there and the light is threatening to burn her up.

But she could do that. If Grace wanted that, wanted to show Kara how she sees the world. A compromise, maybe a shade of peace Kara could actually stand in. Kara has had her quiet moments - in hotels, abandoned houses, locations that only serve as a cover and a lure, until the target arrives and their work can begin.

She could be something other than a danger, in that kind of fleeting space. In that small span of time.

Kara wants to clamp her fingers down around Grace’s hand, wants to drag her up from her seat - away from this place and this world - and lead her down the city blocks, until they make it to the gallery. Wants to shatter one of the windows, knock out all the glass, and then delicately lift Grace like a precious treasure, setting her on the other side, a framed work of art inside the edges of the windowsill. Then climb in afterwards and, in this impossible scene, Grace grabs Kara’s hand then, gentle and warm, squeezing Kara in excitement. Then Grace leads her over to the paintings, the pieces that are hers, that are a part of her.

And Kara can see who Grace is. Just a taste, a shadow, as she gazes up at them. Then Kara leans forward, and Grace tilts her neck, and Kara is surrounded by it. Engulfed in it.

It’s a world Kara didn’t know could exist. It’s a nice one.

The kind of thing Grace can see, can exist in, that Kara doesn't know how to find. And Grace would be gasping, soft air ghosting across Kara’s cheek. Grace would be twisting her fingers into Kara’s hair, grasping, desperate.

And instead of death coming, seizing upon them, its life.

The world turning into sunshine. Where the shadows are just shadows, sometimes. Where Grace is there, making it, shaping it, and everything is sweet and ripe.