"Sometimes I think about it," Kara says. It feels safe to talk about it here, with her face buried against Andrea's belly, Andrea's hands tangled in her hair. "The colours, the flowers - the way it smelled, even."
"Of course you do," Andrea whispers. Her hand does another pass, index and middle fingers swiping across Kara's forehead and scooping up the hair that's fallen into her eyes, tucking it back behind her ears. "It's home."
"Hey, can I - " Kara begins, then falters. "Could I show you something?"
Andrea's hands still. "Of course."
Kara always appreciates the way Andrea's voice seems to match what Kara's feeling. She can tell, from Kara's body language, from the wobble to her voice, that this is something Kara feels serious about. "I don't have to," Kara says. "If you - it's probably not that interesting."
"Whatever you want," Andrea says.
Kara pushes herself up, one hand on either side of Andrea's torso and turns her head just in time to catch Andrea's smile. "That's not fair," Kara says.
Andrea winks, the picture of innocence.
"Fine," Kara says. "Fine. But you have to promise not to laugh."
Andrea reaches down, drags her fingertip across the swell of her left breast, crossing her - boob. Her heart. Kara looks away.
It's cold now that she's out from under the covers, and she pauses to put on a robe before she picks up her sketchbook. One of many, and hidden in a drawer nearby there are bigger ones, letter-sized and larger with pages added in, paint splatters down the sides. This one is the smallest, and some of it isn't her best work but it feels like the best place to start.
(The most casual, if she's being honest with herself. Anyone might have one sketchbook full of sketches and drawings and memories of home, and maybe that's alright but twenty is weird and she just - she doesn't know. But they're still in the early stages of this, she and Andrea, and Kara wants very badly for Andrea to like everything that she likes.)
When she turns back, Andrea's fully cocooned herself in the blankets, wrapped up to her neck. "Hey," Kara says. "Let me in."
Andrea shivers for effect. "It's cold out there."
Kara tugs at the edge of the blankets, playfully. "Warmer with me," she says.
Andrea lifts the covers up, exposing the empty space beside her. Kara wriggles in as quickly as she can, snuggles close. "Quick, before I freeze to death," Andrea hisses.
Kara, already inside Andrea's cocoon, rolls her eyes. "So dramatic. Here, sit up a minute."
Andrea obliges. She makes a little sound, high-pitched and indignant, when Kara then lifts the duvet off of the bed. Kara works quickly, wraps it around behind them both like an oversized, downy cape. Andrea tugs a little, folds the edge around herself so that she's covered up and cozy. She shivers one last time as she notices the sketchbook that Kara's balancing on her knees. "What is this?" Andrea asks. Her tone is serious again, and she's looking right at Kara.
"This is, um. Sometimes I draw things," Kara says. "From my - from home."
Andrea's hands are delicate and respectful as she takes the book and opens it. The pages fall open somewhere in the middle, to a watercolour sketch that Kara painted and repainted dozens of times, the spine a little broken at that spot. Dar-essa flowers, studies of the one that she brought back from Argo city and then the plants that she grew by propagating it on Earth. Kara remembers painting it over and over again, never able to get the colours quite right.
(The colours never look quite right on Earth, is really the problem. Krypton's red sun gives white light but it's got a different palette, a different balance that gives a hint more depth to the delicate pink petals.)
Andrea turns the page again, moving slowly through Kara's dar-essa series and the little notes she made in the margins - about propagation, about the ways that the bloom colour and quality changed grown on Earth soil, with yellow sunlight or under red-spectrum lamps, humidity and temperature and cold-hardiness. She frowns. "This is - I've seen these. On your rooftop."
Andrea smiles. She turns the page, opens it to another series of studies. "What are these?"
Kara blushes. "I couldn't remember," she says. "But I remember they used to - it doesn't work if you grow them here, but on my home world they used to sing."
"Sing?" Andrea echoes. She sounds so - curious. Not interested in a mocking way, not interested because she's quietly devising 47 experiments to turn Kryptonian flowers into the next great antibiotic, just - curious. There's a softness to her voice, a calm that Kara only ever hears when Andrea talks about her family, or the newest advances in high-altitude archaeology.
"Not like we sing, it's, um - the petals have this funny structure, and when the wind blows the right way it makes a sound. Kind of like - you know how you can rub your finger on a wine glass and make a note?"
Andrea runs her fingertips across the page. "That's incredible," she whispers.
Kara feels her cheeks go hot, fights the urge to look away. "It is," she echoes.
"When do you draw all of these?"
Kara thinks for a long while about the best way to answer. Because there's the truth: that some nights she comes back to her apartment missing home so much that it feels like she might burst. That drawing makes her feel better, and even if it means staying up late she'll draw flowers, maps, trees, places on Argo from memory. That sometimes she goes to the fortress and asks Kelex to show her reference photos and city schematics and sometimes she just draws from her heart, labels the map with things like school and park and cousin Kal's house.
Kara shrugs. "Just, you know. Whenever I have a bit of time."
She's expecting something a little insensitive in reply. A joke about how she must have more time to work, or a comment about - Kara's not even sure what. It just feels a little too good to be true, the way that Andrea's looking at her work with appreciation and respect. Instead, what Andrea says is: "When I was younger, I used to dream about exploring places like this."
"Discovering new worlds?"
Andrea shakes her head. "No, old ones. There's so much even on Earth that history hasn't remembered, and there's something really beautiful about finding little clues that tell us about what was lost."
"That it really happened," Kara says. Something in her chest feels strange, like a balloon growing bigger and bigger, but - warm. Happy. Bubbling inside her, reacting to Andrea's kindness.
"Exactly," Andrea says.
"Hey, um. I have more. If you're interested."
Andrea laughs - affectionately, like that's the best thing that Kara could have suggested. "Can I put on pants, first?" she asks.
A giggle finds its way into Kara's throat, that bubble spilling up and out of her. "I guess," Kara says. "If you must."
Andrea makes a face, one that Kara's going to remember for a long time. "Appreciating great art requires pants."
The word, great, sticks in Kara's thoughts. That warmth bubbles up again, big and bright. Like the soft pink of dar-essa blossoms in just the right light.