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Athena trudged through the streets of Sanctuary. She’d had a long night working as a bouncer at Krieg‘s birthday party. She owed a favour to Moxxi, and things had gotten intense. Brick and Krieg decided to start an arm-wrestling/drinking competition that got out of hand before Athena could stop it. She was forced to toss the two out, and even with the pair drunk as skunks it was no easy feat.

This was exactly why she didn’t drink.

And now she was even later than she thought she would be. Janey wasn’t going to be happy. Athena’d promised that it wouldn’t go later than 2, Janey would leave her for breaking another promise, and Athena would be all alone again.

Her anxiety spiked when she saw Janey sitting in an armchair facing the door, and Athena closed her eyes, expecting to be told off.

But the words never came. Athena opened her eyes saw that Janey’s own were closed, and her head was slumped over. Now a different but familiar dread filled her gut: Athena failed to protect Janey, and bandits had come into the city somehow and killed Janey, or maybe Lillith had gotten pissed off and done it herself. She knew she should have stayed, she could have protected Janey, she could have…

Srnnnk” Janey snored.

Oh. She fell asleep, waiting for Athena. In an armchair.

Some of the anxiety faded away, into a familiar feeling of affection for the woman in front of her. After a long day of work for Scooter’s garage, she’d stayed up (or, tried to) until who-knows-when for Athena. She smiled, one that very few got to see, Janey more than most.

Placing the engine manual that Janey had apparently been reading on a table, Athena bent down and took great care to put her arms under Janey. She was dead-tired, and wrestling two Vault Hunters to the ground drained her, but for the love of her life, Athena gave her all and lifted Janey from the chair, one arm under her long legs, another under her back.

One step at a time, Athena delicately moved her wife through their little home, and set her down onto their bed. She ritualistically removed her armour, stripped down to her underwear, and then climbed into bed, pulling the covers over Janey and herself.

Trying to settle in, Athena found she had grown rather used to the feeling of Janey pressed against her back. She prepared for a restless sleep when she felt Janey’s lips lightly pressing on the back of her neck, and her arm reaching around to pull Athena tight against her.

“How was the party?” Janey said groggily.

“Exhausting. I’ll tell you tomorrow.” Athena replied, a yawn creeping into her voice.

“ ‘lright. Love you ‘thena.”

Athena used to find it hard to say ‘I love you’. Massive trauma will do that to you. It took a long time for Athena to honestly express her feelings like Janey did, so openly.

But then, Janey made her do crazy things. She may not have said it easily, but it was in her actions that Athena told Janey how she felt. How she worked herself ragged to pay for the little life the two of them had. How she did work around the house, cleaning and cooking when she didn’t have a job so that Janey didn’t have to. In little gifts and gestures.

Janey was patient, kind and loving. Athena didn’t feel worthy of any of those things, but even still, Janey gave them.

And for that, Athena had but one thing to give her in return.

“Love you too.” She whispered affectionately, settling into the warmth of Janey’s body, her head tucking perfectly underneath Janey’s chin. Like she was the missing piece of Janey’s puzzle. A piece that had been dragged through the mud, made to endure tragedy after tragedy. But still, they fit together, two broken halves of a whole.