it trembles, but never fades away
Kara can feel nothing.
Nothing but Lena’s shaking body.
She can feel the compression and rarefaction of air particles between their bodies. Bouncing around the gap between them, as Lena trembles.
They’re on Kara’s couch, figures in a film moving, listlessly, across the screen in front of them. This is the first time Lena has been to Kara’s apartment for a justfriendswatchingamovie night. Lena had been smiling when she arrived, and she had pulled off her heels before Kara had hugged her in the doorway and led her over to the sofa. Excitedly pressing a bowl of popcorn to Lena’s chest and pressing play on the TV remote.
And now they’re ten minutes in to a film. And the popcorn lies forgotten on the coffee table. And Kara can’t concentrate. On the screen there’s a panning, overwhelmingly blue, shot of a deserted moor. A voiceover murmurs about passion, and solitude.
Kara screws her hands together, nervously in her lap. Her fingertips feel a little blue too.
She chances a glance at the woman beside her.
Lena’s green, green, green, eyes are glassy, dull.
Her back is straight, her knees pressed together.
Kara can still feel her shaking.
She tries to focus on the screen. A girl, with dark windswept hair, runs across that moor. Her eyes are wild like those of a hunted animal.
She glances back to Lena.
The same expression bounces back from Lena’s endlessly green eyes.
She leans a fraction closer to Lena. Wanting to offer comfort, but not sure how. Not understanding the waves of distress and tension rolling from Lena’s body in waves, but wanting to help. Do something, anything.
She moves closer still. Almost touching.
And the next second, the trembling just overwhelms her. She can acutely hear the sound of Lena’s skin brushing against her clothes. The very image of Lena blurs around every edge, Kara’s vision picking up on Lena’s movement with painful clarity.
She hears Lena take a shaking breath. Attempting to collect herself.
Something hard in Kara’s chest breaks apart, sending hot splinters spinning into her lungs. And she suddenly feels as though she has done something desperately wrong.
“Um, Lena?” she breathes. And maybe Lena has superhearing too, because Kara barely felt her own lips move over the words, yet Lena’s head whipped around as though Kara had screamed at her.
She realises that there are tears in Lena’s wild eyes, hanging precariously to her bottom line of lashes. Dark clouds and dark lashes. Heavy, saturated. Wet.
As she watches, one falls, curving over Lena’s cheek.
“Oh” Kara breathes. Softly. She watches as Lena’s eyebrows draw together, and her bottom lip trembles uncontrollably. Kara feels like crying too now.
“What’s wrong Lena?” Kara’s voice is impossibly quiet. Another tear falls, and Kara watches it follow the path of the first.
“Can I…Can we-” Lena’s voice falls apart here. Tumbling away. She clears her throat a little, tilts her chin up. “Youhuggedme.”
It comes out as one word, three short syllables smashed together. The back of her throat sounds oddly wet too.
Kara blinks at her.
“Yes, I did.”
“I don’t remember the last time…I mean…nobody…” Lena’s shoulders are heaving now, with the exertion of holding back her tears, which still well threateningly in her reddened eyes. Her voice is small. Almost frightened. Kara is frightened. Whatever is overwhelming Lena like this, brave, beautiful, strong Lena, must be terrifying.
Her own, blue-fingertipped, hands clutch at the soft pastel material of her sleeves.
She feels, rather than hears, Lena exhale. That soft push of air feels warm in the space between them.
And then she feels, rather than hears, Lena start to sob.
Feels the changes in the air between them.
The tears, which were hanging low in her reddened eyes, start to stream down her pale cheeks. Lena’s breathing tears painfully in the back of her throat.
But she cries silently. Tears simply pouring, seemingly endlessly, from her eyes.
Still silently, instinctively, she pulls Lena close to her, cradling her head against her chest. She wraps her arm around one shoulder and just holds Lena. She holds the shaking pieces of a fearless, relentless CEO. Holds her soft. Holds her safe. As she cries her eyes out against quiet Kara Danver’s pastel sweater.
Kara’s heart races so fast it threatens to beat out of her chest.
“Oh K-Kara” Lena whispers as her tears finally subside. Kara goes to move away, and as Lena grasps desperately at Kara’s hand, her knuckles are white. “D-don’t, please-”
“I’m not going anywhere Lena. I promise-”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I just, I just, um, realised,” Lena’s sweeping her dark hair away from her eyes, in a soft, nervous movement. “I just realised nobody had ever, um, you know-”
“Invited you over for a movie?” Kara murmurs, lost.
“Nobody has ever.” she breathes in, and exhales too quickly. Her eyes flicker shut. “Nobody has held me like that. Earlier, when you hugged me, I don’t know if…I’m not sure if that’s happened before. And I didn’t know…I felt so…”
Kara feels as though maybe her heart has stopped all together.
“Nobody has ever hugged you?” she whispers. Or maybe her heart is just thrumming so fast she can no longer feel its pulse.
“Nobody has ever held me like that.” Lena’s looking down at her own hands, nervously twisting them over and over in her lap. As though she’s admitting to something shameful. “I’ve never been-”
“Hugged?” Kara finishes the sentence for her.
“I’m not weak, I’m not soft.” Lena scoffs, tears tumbling over her lips as she raises her chin. A brave attempt at the confidence she normally so easily exudes. “So why would anyone want to? I’m not soft enough. I mean, I’m not…I’m not…enough.”
“Oh…Oh Lena.” Kara breathes. She can smell Lena’s tears, smell Lena’s skin. And every inch of her own flesh crawls to be pressed against Lena. Against this brave, beautiful woman.
So she pulls her against her body once more.
There’s a huff of hot air against Kara’s cheek.
Not a lot of people have touched her gently, Kara thinks, as Lena’s hand moves to brush against her own, nervously. That feels a little like permission to hold her like this, as she listens to Lena’s heart begin to race. She can feel Lena’s body heat. Against her skin. The thought of more body heat, more skin, sends her head spinning.
“Is this okay?” Kara breathes. Or maybe she screams. Because suddenly those words ring around and around and around and around in her head. Around and around in the space between her lips and Lena’s ear.
“Okay…yes…very, very…okay.” The closeness, the contact, seems to have short-circuited Lena’s touch-starved brain. She struggles with her words, her head pressed against Kara’s chest.
“You can tell me, if it’s too much, you know.” Kara whispers. She never wants to speak at full volume again. She wants hushed voices and her soft sofa and Lena Lena Lena Lena Lena Lena.
Lena cuddles closer into her side.
“What if it’s not enough?” Lena sounds like a child. Like a child asking her very first question. Her voice tilts upwards to form the question, but it’s somehow not quite right. A little bit faulty.
Lena’s fingers play with the hem of Kara’s sweater. Tugging. Running her fingertips over the soft material.
And Kara suddenly realises that nobody has ever held Lena. Nobody has ever touched her softly. Lena, who is so, so soft, so gentle. Who, at this moment, is pressed against Kara’s side, like a lost man in the arctic huddling closer for warmth. As though she needs Kara’s touch, or Kara’s body heat, to survive.
Kara realises, slowly, that Lena has been starving to be touched.
She runs her hands through Lena’s soft, soft hair. Every inch of this woman is soft. Warm. Soft and warm and soft and warm. Kara feels a need to be dressed in only her softest sleep shirt, half transparent with age, and surround Lena with a cloud-like duvet and her own arms. She wants Lena in all the softest, warmest of ways.