(Not) Alone After All



Scene Title (Not) Alone After All
Synopsis After making it back to Providence following the events in Detroit, Kara Prince comes home to an empty(?) house.
Date March 3, 2020

Prince Homestead, Providence

Kara doesn't wish she'd have taken the truck to New York until it's time to climb out of the station wagon, to leave the warmth of its cabin and head into the cold house.


It'd have been easier to force herself to keep moving if all she had to do was sink down from the truck into the dirt and slam the door shut behind her. But hauling herself up and out is a task that adds insult to injury, makes her reconsider turning the engine back over and sleeping at the Factory after all. It only takes a half-second of consideration to realize she doesn't want to face anyone else while she gets her thoughts together, though, and despite herself she reaches over into the passenger seat to grab roughly ahold of the duffel that made its way to Detroit with her, pushing the door open with her foot and pulling the strap of the bag over her shoulder.

The contents inside clatter about noisily as they come to rest against her side. She wears the same clothes she left in, the clothes she's spent days in now.

She's too tired to care about that, and the inside of the house will be chilled enough she'd not want to exchange clothes out just yet anyway. Kara's burst of energy sees her to her feet, but she loses enthusiasm for heading inside almost immediately after. With a frown, she finally shuts the door noisily and trundles up to the steps of the house in the Providence countryside she's not seen for a week. Her footsteps fall heavily on the wood.

She turns the door handle… and it's unlocked.

Is Kara really alone?

Not only is the door handle unlocked, but the atmosphere it opens into isn't chilly whatsoever. It's warm, and in a much deeper sense than temperature alone: the ambiance that greets Kara is infused with the lonely, pervasive cheer of habitation. The hallway is luminous beneath the golden flicker of electric lamplight, and more distantly, there is a contented crackling that can only signify the presence of a living flame in the hearth.

The air is thus quietly full with all these things, and yet also hollow with the outlines of an unsettled, consciously empty silence. Somewhere very close by, a floorboard creaks as a light footfall presses into it— just so— before receding back into nothing. Kara's entrance hadn't gone unnoticed, and before she can see the speaker, she hears an extremely familiar voice carrying calmly towards her across the musty void of half-darkness that still separates them:

"No further. Who is there?"

The confusion, suspicion, and caution on entering the house fades entirely from Kara at the sound of that voice. The tension in her expression fades, jaw slacking. Her heart fills with hope, blind hope.

She doesn't bother fully catching the duffel as it slides off her slackened shoulder, canisters clattering noisily within it as she softens the landing by curling her forearm up to force it to a slow roll off her arm instead.

Kara takes another blind step forward past the threshold, her head turning to try and locate just where the voice is coming from. She doesn't answer, exactly, just has a question of her own, the sound of it a broken thing.



At least Kara doesn't have to look very hard to locate the source of the voice, because at this point, Yi-Min most certainly isn't trying to hide.

A small, watery nimbus of light blossoms over the weathered wood banister that separates Kara from the upstairs landing. As Yi-Min's contours emerge and she uncups her hand from around the candle she holds, much of her face is thrown into a sudden soft illumination from the bottom upwards, as though this were the unintentional revelation of a ghost.

But from her own reaction to Kara, it might as well be that the exact opposite is true. Just a moment later, the landing where she had stood is once again totally dark and empty; Yi-Min has already fled downstairs like a fey creature along with the little light she bears.

Before Kara has the chance to do or process literally anything else, Yi-Min is there, and she has knocked her way full into the other woman's arms—

burying her face into the closer of Kara's shoulders, half-weeping with the joy of abject disbelief: just as real an answer to Kara's question as she herself is.

It's a good thing Kara's arms are free. Otherwise she wouldn't be able to hug Yi-Min nearly as fiercely as she needs to, fingers curling around her sides and shoulders. She rocks to one side and back from the force of their collision, and her hand around Yi-Min's shoulder goes to cradle the back of her head, eyes wet.

"How—?" she starts to ask, but she feels as though she already knows. Praxis' gambit in Detroit didn't pay off, Monroe was sublimated, and a dozen other things happened besides. It was finally safe again. "I mean, I know, partly, but…"

A choked laugh tears its way from her and she pulls back from the hug only for the purpose of kissing Yi-Min deeply, trying to fill it with every moment missed since the last time they saw each other— a farewell that ended with them parting ways with the promise of seeing each other sometime between soon and never.

When she breaks away, she looks down at the shorter woman with her hand cupped around her cheek. "You're here. I didn't— I didn't think…"

So soon. Or maybe ever. Maybe Yi-Min would have just deigned to never come back.

Kara's so relieved she did.

"What?" Yi-Min demands into the tail of uncertainty that Kara's sentence fragment leaves dangling, sweeping it asunder in a river of her own briskly dismissive affection. "You did not think I would be back? Ai-ya. Kara Prince. I would come back from the ends of the Earth — any Earth for you, if I was half-alive to do so, and knew there was a 'you' to come back to."

The sentiment might be born from the overflowing emotion of the moment, but it isn't particularly an exaggeration.

It's also tangled up in her own ineluctable fears of losing Kara to the winds again, as had all too nearly happened after the explosion of last August. Her hold around Kara's waist only tightens at the thought.

“How did you know, though? Where did you go?”

Kara smiles weakly at the question. She's quite the homebody, after all, isn't she? It was unusual for her to be gone.

"Detroit," she admits without hesitation or particular emotion. She gives a small shake of her head, shoulders sloping down. "A lot's happened since you were gone, Minni…" And from the way her tone dips, parts of it may be hard-pried from her. It's a tone that smarts of when she first returned to Providence, of the things she did she wasn't proud of to get back home again. "Someone from Snoqualmie came to Providence. His daughter had been kidnapped, and he needed help getting her home. He came to us for help. He thought… Praxis had her." The last of her smile fades, but she resists the urge to frown.

"We got a lead, suddenly, about her appearance. A teleporter took us to Detroit, but it was a much longer road back…" The hand resting on Yi-Min's cheek falls to her bicep instead, thumb brushing against her shoulder. More gently, she states, "While we were there, we ran into several unexpected parties. Raytech leadership, plenty of Praxis forces— and Adam Monroe himself. We injured the clone of his that was there, something else entirely killed it, and nothing went well for Praxis in the aftermath. Being in stuck in town while arranging transport, I saw the news. I saw things went similarly in California."

Kara's voice softens a hair further, and her hand lifts again to brush a stray hair back from Yi-Min's face. "I'd hoped it meant I would see you again. I just … never dared hope it'd mean this soon."

Detroit. Good god. Yi-Min's face visibly clouds at this, her dark eyes flickering down to where Kara's hand is brushing distractingly at her upper arm. In so doing, she can't help but mournfully murmur out, "I thought I'd left you behind here, safe, away from all of that. From anything to do with Praxis."

Of course, then it turns out that Kara had gone chasing Praxis right into the heart of the storm anyway. It figures.

Yi-Min shakes her head a little, more than a small taste of her own heart in her mouth from hearing this recollection of events from Kara. And yet— despite this, the gentlest note of pride creeps into the concern of her expression, softening it without erasing it. There is a low laugh from her, as bright as it is long-enduring. "This is the fighter I know and love. It should not surprise me that you found a battlefield of your own. Please, though. Please do not do this again." She doesn't specify which part of ‘this’ she means to emphasize most: the disappearing without notice, the fighting, the foolhardy heroism.

Possibly all of the above.

Kara only laughs in response, the sound of it tattered at the edges from emotion. At first, she thinks to reply she'll only make best effort there. Instead, a better answer comes to her. "Only if you never leave me again."

Because without her, she might feel numb enough, unweighted enough to do something foolhardy. She might be weak enough to fall for a trap. After all, she nearly had.

Maybe it's something Yi-Min needs to know sooner rather than later.

Kara's shoulders settle down. "While you were gone, Sharrow got under my skin. His son… nearly convinced me into helping them do something terrible in exchange for a chance at an ability. I was so desperate to see you again, to be able to help you, I nearly…" Averting her eyes to their feet, she shakes her head and rests her hand along the side of Yi-Min's arm again.

"My conscience got the better of me in the end. But it was only just before I pulled the trigger that it did."

For a minute, Yi-Min simply appears to be considering this latest news, her gaze as composed and still as the surface of a pond as it rests thoughtfully in Kara's.

When at last she speaks, it's in a voice that is simultaneously much more soothing, dipping down into the volume of a murmur, and much more frank.

"If you are feeling bad about this," she observes, lifting her free hand to stroke Kara's cheek and then letting it rest there tenderly, just around the curve of Kara's jaw, "do not. These are the kinds of choices that we face, sometimes. And even if you most certainly shouldn't have, at least not if your goal was me, I am extremely proud of you either way."

The touch to the side of her face pulls Kara back to this moment, brow creasing as she listens. Tears begin to well in her eyes as she looks into Yi-Min's, never quite to the point of overflowing, but she's touched by her presence— and then her words.

"Well," she muses, swallowing hard after. "I'll try to remember that." Because if there's something she is regarding that moment, it isn't exactly prideful. She's come to accept her decisions in the order they occurred in, came to appreciate how she finally found her own feet to stand on, but it all feels like a hollow accomplishment in comparison to whatever she did to win this moment of reunion.

A faint laugh comes from her and she shakes her head slightly, cheek pressing into her partner's hand.

"Where have you been?" Kara wonders, unable to keep from the sound of it being filled with a strange awe.

Spurred by the question in a strange way, Yi-Min is silent for another moment as she turns something from earlier over in her mind, wishing with the deepest ache that she could just toss everything into the wind and declare something along the lines of: 'it doesn't matter, because I don't plan to leave again.' But she can't, because that isn't true. The look in her eyes turns to something a touch more sorrowful, even as she smiles again.

"Listen. You might not be quite as happy with me after hearing this," she announces in that same quiet, candid tone, eyes flickering down to the floor and lidding. Kara also might as well hear this sooner rather than later.

"In a few days from now, I… am going to turn myself in. It is by my choice, technically. But it is also something of a foregone conclusion. My name and complete history were in Praxis's files, which may not really come as a surprise."

Joy and wonder slips from Kara's expression like paint cleansed from brushes. It's not cleanly done at first, but it washes away all the same. She looks at Yi-Min like she expects to see change; a smile and reassurances that that was just a joke.

But it's not. Yi-Min's not joking.

And neither was Kara when she said she'd only keep from doing foolish things so long as Yi-Min stayed.

"What?" Her hands rest on her partner's shoulders first, then slide down her arms. It's like she's already gone again, even though she's standing right here. It's another invisible problem, something Kara can't fix. "No," she tries to insist anyway, her brow creeping together. Her arms curl around Yi-Min's waist, like somehow this will keep her from disappearing. "Minni, no."

"Stay here," she pleads in a breath. "Don't go back to them. Or— or if we have to," her voice pitches up, latching onto this new idea with bold hope. "We'll go west again. Back to the Dead Zone, where they won't find you. Won't look. We can…"

Kara's feverish energy wanes more abruptly than it picked up, hurt taking its place. It's her choice, she'd said.

Yet Kara can tell Yi-Min is resolute, despite how shadowed her expression for those few seconds— and despite everything, once she tips her chin back up to look at her partner, her smile is calmer and lighter with some effort, as though she had just successfully willed herself to shed some internal burden.

"I don't expect this to last more than a few months," she informs Kara, with only the smallest shake of her head to dismiss all the varied suggestions to keep hiding or running. "I have thought this through, and I think it is the best thing. I only… I am so sorry that this is so soon after I just went away. And I would understand completely if you did not want to wait for me anymore. This is not fair to you. It is a bit ridiculous. 太抱歉."

A filmy glint, a tear of pain forms briefly behind Yi-Min's gaze even through her smile at the implication she had just made. "If I expected this to be permanent, I would not think about going, but it is a way to put everything behind me at long last. You know? I have voices willing to speak on my behalf because of my actions against Praxis, and in undoing Monroe’s bioweapon, so I do not expect a harsh sentence. Then when I am out—"

Then they could properly start their lives anew. Without running, without hiding.

With a completely clean slate, on Yi-Min's part.

But in a real sense, that first part is something she is leaving up to Kara.

Some faint protest rises in Kara's throat at the thought that whatever happens to her, it'll be a short thing. How can she say that? How can she know?

But she understands, in some way, wanting it to all be over. Wanting to have something more stable, and to put behind her having to be in the shadows. So Kara's gaze drops and all she can do at first is just shake her head.

Only after Yi-Min tapers off does she look up, meeting her gaze. "Put yourself in my shoes," she challenges her softly. "What would you do if it were me in your position?" Then she lets out a tss of a scoff. "No— What was it you did when I was gone?"

She searched. And yearned. And waited. And never moved on.

"If you think I love you any less than that, Yi-Min Yeh, you're a fool."

Kara purses her lips together in a roll, smiling small and taking her hands gingerly but firmly once she makes contact. "You make me feel like I belong. And I would do anything for you to be safe." Her expression grows troubled, and she looks down again, rubbing the back of Yi-Min's hand with her thumb. "…If that means we need to be apart just a while longer… then…"

She squeezes her partner's hand gently. She's clearly still having so much trouble with this, but she's trying to accept it with more grace. At least, more grace than she had the last time they had to part ways for safety's sake.

Her solemn humor breaks with a faint chuckle. "Next time, are you sure you can't find a problem I can shoot to solve? Because, god it'd be nice to…"

Kara doesn't get around to finishing that thought. It's a silly one anyway. She half-expects to get told off for it, like the sha gua she is.

Well, the last thing definitely isn't going to be happening.

Because by now Yi-Min is openly weeping, Kara's words having discreetly but thoroughly slashed apart a certain floodgate of emotion she had been attempting to contain. At first, she halfheartedly tries to hide the tears that are rolling down both her cheeks, but eventually she gives that up for the lost cause it is.

She still just continues to stand there for several moments too long as that emotion warps through her composure, a frail, lost-looking thing with her small hand held uselessly slack in Kara's. Finally, she lets a rather breathless laugh escape her, a new and joyful smile shining through her veil of tears like a little light. Her next words come in the form of a quietly anguished laugh, too.

"What I did to deserve you falling out of the sky into my lap, Kara Prince, I will never, ever, know. But thank you, 我的寶貝—"

Those are familiar words to Kara's ears. Yi-Min's darling treasure. It has come far enough in their journey to seem like a timeless appellation. The next thing Kara knows, her partner's arms are linked around her again for the fiercest hug round: two and then another ardent kiss, with just a single break long enough to whisper upwards with a good deal more levity: "Agreed. Only shootable problems from now on."

The medley of emotions fraught between them brings Kara to lose control of the tenor of her voice as well, eyes watering. There's a sense of relief in seeing Yi-Min bear her emotions, comfort in confirmation that their time apart hadn't waned anything at all. She tries to speak, pausing mid-shake of her head when arms slip around her waist. Words don't come, but the kiss is everything she needs to say anyway.

Her arms dip in their grasp around Yi-Min to hoist her up, kissing her again and turning in a slow circle. "Can I at least have you for today? For tonight?"

The house is still underway, cleaned but largely undecorated, but at least the living room has been converted. It serves its intended purpose, in a house properly put together— a couch and loveseat, low tables, short bookshelves. More importantly, the fireplace is lit, warming the space better.

And because Kara is who she is, a quilt-covered cot is in the far corner of the room. A curtain threaded through string is pulled aside, but could be drawn across the entryway into the room to help keep the warm in at night. It's just more practical, while the rest of the place is still being put together.

She settles down Yi-Min in the middle of the doorway, brow lifted, arms not loosing. Kara's asking if Yi-Min can stay, but… she's not ready to let go. "Just one night?"

"Five." There is a middling amount of triumph in Yi-Min's correction, and though there is certainly a sense of gladness there, it's also conscientiously muted. Five nights is absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, but at least five is more than one.

When she's gently dropped back to her feet, Yi-Min takes the opportune timing presented to survey the state of the interior alongside Kara. "This is coming along really nicely," she observes, her gaze sweeping up the length of the walls and down the cheery aura of the fireplace. "I will try to help you finish up most of the decorating in the time I have here."

Now that they can start moving past the initial rush of their reunion, Kara might notice there are already a few subtle touches Yi-Min had left, even in the short time she had occupied the place alone.

There is a wreath of sunflowers resting right above the mantelpiece, though concealed in a lofty swathe of shadow in the room's current lighting, and a little milk bottle filled with feverfew daisies on the kitchen table.

Signs of life, where before there were barely signs of living. Kara notices them finally after her attention is drawn to the decor, a flicker of recognition in her eyes. She breathes a note of surprise from her nose and gives a small shake of her head.

"Five days," she repeats with warmth, with all the appropriate sense of victory that news deserves. Leaving one arm around Yi-Min's side while she otherwise turns to take stock of the state of things, she admits freely, "I'm not sure I'd want to waste that time simply decorating…"


Kara relents with a small smile, looking back to her. "But it's important to me you know you'll have a home to come back to. And that it's just as much yours as it is mine." Her hand curls as her arm lifts, knuckles brushing against Yi-Min's cheek. "So yes— let's make sure we spend enough time driving me up the wall with your decorating habits."

Because Kara knew how to make a house liveable.

But Yi-Min knew how to make it a home.

"I promise," she assures with her best sense of humor, "I'll do my best to endure it with minimal complaints."

If Kara knew anything about Yi-Min, it was that she had little need to worry about more than a modicum of time being taken up to spice up all the decor around here as she pleased. For her, complementing her partner's decidedly spartan tastes was a diversion, not a chore.

But, there was something infinitely more important Kara had brought up first.

With a truly sorrowful shake of her head, Yi-Min only laughs as though expressing pity for Kara's terrible plight. "I am sure I can make this up to you, somehow. Oh. And speaking of being driven up the wall…"

Yi-Min states this as though it’s a completely innocent followup, or at least the start of one— but as she’s saying it, an altogether different light has flicked into sly existence deep in her eyes. Without further ado she is wrapping her fingers into Kara’s collar, all the better to reel the other woman in closer for another, much more proper kiss than the ones that had been traded just earlier in the evening.

After all, for Dr. Yeh, wasting any serious amount of time had always been something tantamount to a sin.

She had no intention of starting now.

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