Finding my way home
The sun was shining brightly, the rain from the day before was long forgotten. Summer had definitely arrived with its high temperatures during the day.
It was a fairly quiet day, they had only had two customers since they’d opened the store in the morning. But neither of them minded, because it only meant they got to somewhat relax and spend time together. If only there weren’t chores that had to be done.
Alex looked over at Steph with a smile, despite Steph’s attempts to pretend she didn’t see it.
“You know we can’t put this off forever, right?” Alex said, her arms crossed and lips curled up into an amused grin.
Steph let out a sigh as she turned to face Alex, “It was worth a try,” she answered with a crooked grin and shrugged. Alex didn’t look particularly impressed. “Babe! I’m kidding!” Steph stepped closer to her girlfriend and rested the palm of her hand against Alex’s cheek. “You’re right, let’s do this.”
Alex smiled as she leaned into the gentle touch and closed her eyes for just a moment. When she opened her eyes again, she rested her hand over Steph’s and turned her head; planting a kiss on the inside of Steph’s palm. “That’s more like it.” She pulled away from Steph’s touch with a smirk and winked. “I’ll get the sponges and stuff, you go get the water?”
Steph just stood there for a moment, dazed. Then she shook her head and cleared her throat. “Yeah, totally.” When she nearly tripped she cursed under her breath. Turning her head to stick out her tongue when she heard Alex chuckle softly. Steph felt her cheeks flush and rushed to the back of the store to get the buckets to fill up.
Alex went outside and set down the step stool, laying the sponges on top of it along with the squeegees and clean cloths. She looked at the windows and shook her head; they were definitely in desperate need of a good cleaning.
“Alex?” Steph’s voice pulled Alex from her thoughts and she looked through the window in the door. “Help?”
Alex quickly pushed open the door to let Steph walk out with the two buckets of water. “Do we start at opposite ends and work towards the middle?”
Steph thought for a moment after she had set down the buckets. She looked at the windows of the store, from one side to the other while her thumb and index finger held her chin. “I think we should do it the other way around.”
“If you say so, Steph,” Alex replied with an amused grin and handed Steph a sponge, squeegee and clean cloth. “We better get started.” Alex winked as she grabbed the other sponge and soaked it in the water. She had already tucked the clean cloth in her shorts’ back pocket and took the squeegee in her other hand.
With a grin Steph watched Alex get onto the step stool, starting on the door’s window herself. She was grateful that there was a bit of a breeze, because the sun was beating down on them relentlessly. As soon as she had done half of the door’s window, she saw how much of a satisfying difference it made.
As soon as the door was done, Steph opened it and put a doorstop in place, so the music was free to flow outside. After all, chores were always a little easier with music on. It didn’t take them very long to move the sponges to the beat of the music, as well as the squeegees.
“Ugh!” Alex chuckled without looking over at Steph as her girlfriend grunted. “It’s too hot and I’m sick of cleaning windows.”
“Oh, come on babe. We’re nearly done,” Alex replied and wiped her squeegee on the cloth again. She smiled as she looked at the clean window in front of her, satisfied with the result. It was indeed pretty hot and the breeze had stopped offering a bit of relief. Alex wiped the sweat from her forehead and grabbed her sponge again, to start cleaning the last window.
“Yeah, I’ve been done for a while now,” Steph grumbled. Just as Alex was about to straighten herself again, Steph grinned wickedly and threw her soaked sponge at her girlfriend.
“Hey!” Alex called out as a wet sponge hit her side, soaking her shirt.
“Hey yourself, hot stuff,” Steph replied with a smug grin, causing Alex to shake her head with flustered cheeks.
She let out a sigh, got off the stepstool and grabbed both sponges. Alex submerged both sponges in the water and turned around as soon as she stood up straight again. She looked into Steph’s hazel eyes, noticing the spike of fear in her girlfriend’s aura and grinned. Before Steph could prepare Alex threw both soaked sponges at Steph, hitting her girlfriend in the chest and shoulder.
After the impact, Steph slowly opened her eyes and raised her head to look at Alex again. Alex simply smirked, pleased with herself.
“Oh, you’re on!” Steph called, her lips forming a wide smile that showed her teeth. She picked up the sponges and dunked them into the bucket of water by her feet.
Alex grinned as she shook her head, amused. She’s so competitive, she thought. Before Steph could throw the soaked sponges, she rushed inside and made a beeline for the back. As quickly as she could, she grabbed two more sponges from the storage rack and ran back out again. As soon as she set foot over the threshold two soaked sponges hit her on the collarbone and the side of her stomach.
“Steph!” Alex called out, barely managing to hold back a chuckle. “That’s not fair!”
“Oh, is it?”
Alex ran to where she had left her bucket of water and soaked all four sponges, grabbed two and threw them at Steph. Immediately she turned back to grab the other two sponges and threw one at Steph’s butt, then the other at Steph’s back. Though Steph turned around midway and thus the sponge hit her boobs instead.
“Shit, I didn’t mean to—”
“Sure, Chen,” Steph interrupted, her lips forming a smug smirk in response. “I know you can’t resist me.”
Alex could feel her cheeks get warm, watching as Steph grabbed two of the sponges she’d just soaked in the water again. Since she wasn’t allowed to use her power by reading Steph’s emotions, Alex figured she’d have to resort to different tactics. She looked down as she let out a soft sigh, then looked up at her girlfriend, biting down her lower lip and releasing it ever so slowly. There was no need for her to use her powers, the way Steph’s face transformed was quite obvious. As Steph stood frozen, holding one soaked sponge up in the air, drops of water slowly trickled down her wrist. Small trails of water continued to follow the inside of Steph’s lower arm, down to her elbow and eventually falling down onto the sidewalk.
As Steph still stood like that, in a daze, Alex grabbed the bucket of water in both hands and ran with it. She swung it back and then splashed the water onto her girlfriend, soaking Steph’s clothes all the way through.
Steph sputtered and spit out some of the water that had gone into her mouth, dropping the sponges she’d still been holding. “And that isn’t cheating?”
With her hands on her hips, Alex looked at Steph challengingly. “Nope, because you didn’t say that wasn’t allowed.” She was unable to hold back a chuckle when Steph let out a feigned gasp.
“Miss Chen! How sneaky of you!”
“Oh, you think this is sneaky?” Alex teased and winked. “Well, Miss Gingrich. I can assure you, you’ve seen nothing yet.”
The intrigue was written all over Steph’s face and Alex felt giddy excitement grow stronger in her chest. The way Steph looked at her made her feel special in a way she’d never had experienced before.
Steph got closer to Alex, water still dripping from her hair and clothes, cupping Alex’ face with her hands. “I can’t wait to find out, babe,” she whispered softly, her eyes focusing on Alex’ lips before looking back into Alex’ eyes. Fuck, I wanna kiss you…
This time, Alex just offered a small nod, giving Steph the chance to take the initiative. She saw Steph bite down her own lower lip as her eyes looked at Alex’ lips again, the tingling sensation in her chest intensifying as Steph’s face moved even closer to hers. Alex snaked her arms around Steph’s waist and leaned in a little, until their lips were mere millimeters apart. She felt Steph’s breath against the skin above her upper lip, which sent a pleasant shiver through her body. Her heart was beating rapidly in her chest, her sight growing hazy along with her mind, Alex thought it felt like she was floating. She felt light and warm, safe .
As her lips brushed against those of Alex, Steph swore she could have melted right then and there. Surprisingly, her legs didn’t give in and somehow kept her standing. With Alex’ arms around her waist, hands resting on her lower back, Steph moved one of her hands to rest in Alex’ neck. Her eyes closed as she pressed her lips against those of her girlfriend, her heartbeat picking up speed. Steph’s mind blanked, any and all thoughts vanishing the moment their lips met. It was almost like when they had first kissed on the rooftop, although Steph wasn’t as nervous as she had been back then. Instead of letting Alex get on her tippy toes, Steph leaned down, pressing her lips against Alex’ more firmly. She couldn’t get enough of kissing her girlfriend, loved the way their lips seemed to be made for each other.
It wasn’t intentionally, Alex wasn’t even trying, when she felt Steph’s intense joy covering her like a comforting blanket. Shivers ran through her body when Alex felt Steph press her body against Alex’, the cold water a stark contrast against the warmth she felt internally. Alex couldn’t care less about her clothes getting wet, pressing herself tighter against Steph, wanting to be as close as she could possibly get.
Their lips broke contact as they heard a loud meow, both turned to look and find an unimpressed Valkyrie standing in the door opening.
“Uh oh, guess I’m in trouble,” Alex joked, chuckling softly as the cat just continued to stare at them.
“Aww, is our poor Val jealous?” Steph said in her baby talk voice. It was utterly adorable and Alex felt herself melt all over again. “Does Val want some attention, hmm?” Another meow sounded and Alex laughed at the silliness, it was as if the two were having an actual conversation.
“Not sure she wants attention from me, though…”
“Well, then that’s too bad. Because I’m not getting rid of you,” Steph responded as she turned to look at Alex again. “She’ll warm up to you, I’m sure. Just give her time,” Steph whispered and kissed Alex softly on the nose.
Alex looked up into Steph’s eyes, her lips curling up into a smile. “You really think so?”
Steph nodded confidently, “I know so. When she realizes that you’re here to stay and how much you mean to me… She’ll come around.”
It was still light out when they walked out the store and locked up, closing the shop for the night. They swung by the diner and picked up their to-go food that they had ordered earlier, as neither of them felt like cooking.
They walked back to their apartment in relative silence, simply enjoying each other’s company. Their fingers intertwined as they held each other’s hand, gently swinging back and forth as they walked.
When they got to the Black Lantern, Steph held the door open for them and led them both upstairs. They kicked off their shoes and changed into comfortable clothes that weren’t damp.
“Steph,” Alex said with a grin as Steph took hold of her hips, “let’s save that for after dinner. The food will get cold…” Alex shot her girlfriend an apologetic look when she saw Steph’s pout.
After Steph let go of Alex’ hips, she let out a sigh and held up her hands as if surrendering. “Fine. But I’ll keep you to that,” Steph replied with a smirk.
“You better.” Alex grabbed the paper bag that held their food and walked up the stairs, holding out her free hand invitingly. Steph took Alex’ hand and let herself be led up to the rooftop.
By now it was slowly starting to get darker, as the sun was starting to set. Every now and then, they glanced up at each other between bites. When Steph’s free hand rested on the side of the table, Alex reached out and held Steph’s hand in her own tenderly.
Unsurprisingly, Steph was the first to finish her food. She grabbed the wine bottle and set it to her lips, not bothering to use a cup, let alone a glass. “Less dishes to clean.” Alex had simply shrugged and held out her hand, gesturing for Steph to hand over the bottle when she was done.
She took a swig and smacked her lips as she set the bottle down on the table. Alex tossed the empty containers in the paper bag that was beside the table and leaned back, admiring the sky as it had now taken on fiery oranges and deep reds.
The intense feeling of home washed over her; here she was, sitting with the woman she fell in love with, with an incredible view in front of them. On the rooftop of an apartment that had become their own more and more. The same rooftop where they had shared their very first kiss during the Spring Festival, just thinking about it made Alex’ heart tingle and warm. Steph had been so nervous and anxious, but those feelings had melted away as soon as Alex had pressed her lips against those of Steph. Alex vividly remembered the way she had gotten up to her tippy toes, arms wrapped around Steph’s neck while Steph’s arms had rested on her side at first. Careful and cautious, not wanting to cross any boundaries unintentionally. But as Alex had leaned into the kiss more, Steph’s hands relaxed and held onto her a bit tighter. Alex hadn’t missed the way Steph had smiled as they made out, the blissful feeling morphing into a shared one.
“What’re you thinking about?” Steph’s voice pulled Alex from her thoughts and it took her a moment to process what Steph had asked her. “You just…” Steph let out a soft chuckle as she got up and walked over to Alex. She held out both hands invitingly and Alex accepted the invitation, getting up from her chair. “You were practically glowing.”
Alex looked down at their hands and felt her lips curl up into a big smile. She looked back up at Steph and admired her girlfriend’s gorgeous eyes, which looked even more beautiful in this light of the setting sun. “Our first kiss…” she whispered.
Steph felt her cheeks getting warmer as her thoughts wandered off to that first kiss, how nervous she had been. She’d practically begged Alex to kiss her in her mind, and then Alex did kiss her. Her heart had been hammering in her chest as she had watched Alex get closer to her, Steph recalled being worried the palms of her hands had gotten sweaty. But as soon as Alex’ lips had pressed against her own, her mind had been wiped blank.
“Y-yeah…” Steph breathed, resting her forehead against Alex’, closing her eyes as she swallowed with effort. “You really took my breath away…” Steph chuckled somewhat nervously, opening her eyes with a smile as she felt Alex squeeze her hands. “Still do,” she whispered, leaning back a little to look at Alex again.
Alex reached up with one of her hands and gently rested it against Steph’s cheek, her thumb lightly brushing over Steph’s lower lip. “Well, here’s a little secret,” she whispered with a mischievous smile, “you have the same effect on me, Steph.” She could see Steph swallow with effort, which was cute as hell. Alex also didn’t miss the way Steph bit her lower lip, eyes flicking down to Alex’ lips and then into Alex’ eyes again. She felt her heart racing in her chest, her skin nearly aching with anticipation. Finally, it felt like the tension became almost unbearable, and Alex kissed Steph. Her hand that still held Steph’s let go and found its way to the back of Steph’s neck. Neither of them paid any attention to it when Steph’s beanie fell to the floor as Alex’ hand went into Steph’s hair.
As Alex’ hand made its way into her hair, Steph let her hands wander as well. One rested between Alex’ shoulder blades, the other held onto Alex’ side, just above her hips. She felt her mind go blank once again, consumed by the way they made out. The world around them blurred and disappeared from their awareness.
Neither of them knew how long they’d been making out, but when they finally broke their kiss, both of them had to take a moment to catch their breath. They simply stood there, taking each other in without saying a word. It was such an incredible feeling, that they had found each other and their feelings for each other were reciprocated.
She couldn’t help but smile dreamily as she listened to Alex play guitar, softly singing lyrics she didn’t recognize. Steph had realized quite a while ago that she’d fallen for Alex, but it was moments like these that she realized just how much she loved the younger woman. As they sat on the rooftop, with only the mountains and the stars as their witnesses.
When Alex’ eyes met hers, Steph felt her heart nearly ache, but in the best way possible. Steph’s cheeks hurt from how much she was smiling. She didn’t care in the slightest, it was absolutely worth it. Alex was more than worth it.
Her fingers stilled and rested on the strings, the quiet settling over them. The only sound now came from small critters and the rustling of tree leaves in the gentle evening breeze. The sky was clear, no clouds obscuring the light of the stars and the moon, which was half hidden behind mountaintops. Summer had started and Alex couldn’t wait to see what it held in store for her and Steph. Because no matter what or where it would be, Alex knew she’d enjoy it; as long as Steph was there with her.
“That was amazing, babe,” Steph said with an adoring smile. She got up slowly and gently took the guitar from Alex, then held her hand out invitingly. “Ready to go back inside?”
After taking a moment to just admire Steph in this dim light, Alex nodded and took Steph’s hand. She grabbed the paper bag and empty wine bottle and followed Steph to the door, stepping inside as Steph held the door open for her.
The night was one that Alex would think back to many times, remembering the tenderness and intimacy they had shared. There was no need for her to write about it in her journal, as she remembered the emotions perfectly whenever she looked at Steph. Alex was excited to see what else there was to explore and experience. The future was theirs.