It starts with a question and ends with a lie. That’s not really a lie, or doesn’t end up being a lie. But Alex doesn’t know that.
Lena comes to visit her apartment. Which is, well, weird. It’s really weird. First off, because Lena Luthor is in her apartment. And then because she acts like she’s supposed to be there, like she’s normally there, even though Lena has only visited a few times, and always with the entire group. And, again, because Lena Luthor is in her goddamn apartment, alone, with all of that calculated energy focused on Alex as if she owes her something.
“We need to talk about Kara.”
Well, that’s one way to make Alex Danvers sweat.
“I think she’s keeping something from me.” Alex would’ve expected Lena to be angry, but her voice is small, almost fragile. “She keeps- I don’t know, she’s flighty, even moreso than usual, and I know that there’s something wrong. She just isn’t herself. She’s not Kara. And sometimes she looks at me, I see this look on her face, like she’s holding back, and it just, it scares me.”
Lena’s eyes search over Alex’s face expectantly.
“I know you know what it is,” she says, her voice dropping even lower. “Please, Alex, just tell me what it is, tell me what I can do, help me get my best friend back-“
“She’s in love with you.”
Alex blurts it out without thinking, and she knows it’s a mistake even as the words are still tumbling past her lips. Of all the things she had ever imagined saying in a moment like this, that had never crossed her mind. Not, at least, with Lena. Especially not with Lena.
Her head snaps up, green eyes blinking open, almost comically wide. It lasts only a second — Lena Luthor isn’t one to show weakness, not for long — but Alex sees it then, sees that this might be an even greater mistake than she realized.
“Oh.” Lena licks her lips quickly, presses them together. “Well that’s- that’s news to me.”
“Yeah, well, um-“ Alex’s eyes flit up, down, anywhere but Lena’s face. “She didn’t- believe me, she didn’t want you to know. Doesn’t. Still doesn’t- want you to know.”
“Right, obviously.” Lena’s voice is clipped, pitched a little higher than normal. She’s avoiding Alex’s face too, she realizes. “Well, um- I’ll make sure I don’t give on. That I know.”
“Good.” They stand at odds, arms crossed, their eyes boring holes in the floor. “Yeah. That’s good.”
There isn’t enough time to tell Kara until the worst moment, the honest-to-god worst possible moment she could imagine — ten minutes before a game night, at J’onn’s. Where Lena and Kara are both invited. Alex had planned on telling her at dinner, but a Supergirl emergency forced them to cancel. Then she planned on telling her during their standard alcohol run, but that, too, was pushed off when Kara decided to fly home to shower, then grab the booze on the way. So that left Alex to pace in front of J’onn’s apartment, nearly wearing a rut into the sidewalk in front of the building. Kara arrives with a slight boom, landing in the side alley where she’s out of sight and bouncing around the corner with a bag of wine bottles in one hand and an 18-rack of Pacifico dangling from two fingers in the others.
“Hey!” Kara cracks that goofy grin and hoists the wine in the air. “You ready to kick some ass at Catchphrase?”
“We need to talk.” Alex’s chest tightens slightly as Kara’s face falls. “So, um, Lena came to me today. Asking questions.”
“No.” Kara’s voice is a whisper. “She knows? Alex she can’t know, not like this, I should be the one who tells her, please tell me you didn’t-”
“Um, no.” Alex tugs at her fingers. “But I don’t know how much you’re gonna like the alternative.”
Kara doesn’t yell. Alex wishes she would yell. Instead, she just stands, stock still, her eyes doing that panicked, deer-in-the-headlights thing as her mouth struggles to move. At a certain point, Alex wouldn’t be surprised if she dropped the wine. Kara just stares and stares and stares.
“Please say something.” She begs it, and Kara presses her lips together, her eyebrows arching as she tries to force that smile that says this is okay, this is good, everything will be fine. It’s a look for Supergirl, not Kara.
“No, no, that’s fine, that’s good.” Kara coughs and rubs her face. “Good- good cover. That’s gonna be- that’s gonna be great.”
She looks up at the apartment and laughs.
“And we’re here and we’re late, so-“ She swivels and jerks her head towards the door. “Yeah. Let’s go do this. That’s going to be- that’ll be fun.”
It is fun, in an uncomfortable, awkward sort of way. An extremely awkward sort of way. Mainly because, beneath all the intellectual and physical firepower, they’re both absolute idiots. So they both decide that, to make things seem normal, they should sit next to each other. And team up together for every game. And force themselves into as much situations involving physical contact as possible. So they stumble and bumble and things are uncomfortable, and no matter how many jokes Winn and James make it stays that way. All night. It’s all Alex can do to keep from dropping her head in her hands as she watches on, helpless.
“That was good, right?” Lena’s voice is so hopeful as she pulls Alex aside on her way out. She’s leaving first out of the group, like normal — her work schedule still didn’t accommodate much of a social life — and she used a series of plaintive glances to get Alex to walk her to the door. Her cheeks are flushed, maybe from wine but more likely from the effort of the evening. Alex doesn’t have the heart to discourage her and simply pats her shoulder with a thin smile.
The second the door swings shut, Kara is on her feet.
“You are the absolute worst.” Alex turns, a laugh already on her lips.
“I’m the worst?” She gestures at Kara, who is just as flushed and flustered as Lena. “What was that?”
“Yeah, seriously-“ Winn’s head whips back and forth between the two. “Guys? Can we get an explanation?”
“Lena came asking around today,” Alex begins, then falters. “About Kara, and about her secret-“
“Oh God.” James rubs his eyes. “You told her?”
“No!” Kara’s voice breaks. It’s too loud, and she knows it. “Worse! So much worse!”
All eyes turn to Alex. She smiles awkwardly in return.
“I told her… she’s in love with her?” Her voice turns up at the end of the sentence as it sends a ripple of amusement throughout the room. Kara glares at her, although there isn’t quite enough force behind her eyes to actually cause any concern.
“Oh so-“ Winn points at Kara, a smirk filling his features. “Is that a problem because it’s not true or because-“
“Winn!” Kara forcefully picks up the next game and tosses it on the table, before turning that half-glare on Alex again. “I’m going to kill you.”
Lena feels like silence is the worst option, especially after game night — the last thing she wants is for Kara to think that she’s mad or something — so she decides to text her. She drafts about 30 different things to say, then just settles on “Hey”, then immediately regrets it after pressing send. She chucks her phone across the room. So there goes playing it cool.
Kara texts back an hour later, one word.
What the hell does that mean? Lena should invite her to get food, like always, or to come to the office, like always. Instead, she stares at those two letters, frozen in panic. In the end, she ignores it, and they both ignore it, and that’s fine because everything is fine. Totally fine.
Three days later, Kara brings her lunch at the office.
“Hi.” This time, that word is said in person, which is somehow even more overwhelmingly impossible to answer than a text. “I hadn’t heard from you and I thought…”
She trails off weakly and lifts the bag of food with an awkward grin.
It’s weird. Really weird. They sit too far apart from each other, until Kara scoots over an inch and then, somehow, they’re much too close. Their speech is stilted, their questions hesitant. Finally, thankfully, Jess enters with a reminder about Lena’s next appointment, and Kara leaves with a thousand apologies for taking up her time, and they’re both left to catch their breath on opposite sides of the door, wondering how the hell than happened.
The awkwardness follows them for days, weeks. They don’t touch at all, only to hug and then cling on for too long. Long patches of radio silence are followed by conversations that go on for too long and hold too intense of a tone. Then it’s silence again. Everyone notices, obviously, but it’s not the sort of thing that anyone wants to bring up. Honestly, the idea of breaking the news to a Luthor or a Kryptonian that they are probably at least a little in love with their friend is a big enough obstacle for anyone, even Alex or J’onn, and certainly Winn.
Lena is the first to realize, of course.
It hits her like a semi truck on a random Tuesday morning, when Supergirl decides to visit her for the first time in almost a month.
And Supergirl is awkward, fingers fidgeting, eyes askance.
“Sorry to drop in on you, um-“ She doesn’t even laugh at her own pun, just glares a hole in the wall just to the left of Lena’s head. “I just wanted to check on you. Kara Danvers mentioned that you had been working a lot more lately, and I just thought I would come by, see if I could help.”
It’s so ridiculous that Lena almost breaks their unspoken pact, almost looks her straight in the eye and says her name. Kara. She doesn’t understand the ruse, can’t comprehend its necessity at this point, but here they are, awkwardly talking on her balcony as if they hadn’t seen each other the night before, as if they hadn’t been having this exact same interaction for weeks now in a slightly different outfit.
And then Supergirl leaves, and Lena feels that same pang in her chest, somewhere beneath her ribs, that she always feels when she flies away, and like that the whole truth of the situation is upon her.
She really needs a drink.
Lena asks Kara to brunch. Kara cancels an hour before their agreed time. They repeat the act again the next week, although this time Kara asks and Lena is the one to cancel at the last minute.
At first, all Kara wants is an explanation. Why she can’t sleep, why her mind wanders even when she’s flying. Why she can’t figure out anything to say to Lena, but can’t keep herself from pulling up her contact, typing out and erasing pointless, inane starters to conversations they’d normally carry on with ease.
It comes slowly. She begins to hear herself, hear how often she talks about Lena, the tinge of overeagerness that always tinges her words. She sees, too. Sees the small smirks that Alex and Winn share when she brings up Lena, again, with no need. Sees the way Lena’s eyes light up whenever she enters her room, the way she watches her even when she thinks Kara is looking away. It falls into place in pieces, but with each passing day Kara thinks she’s understanding something she knew all along.
Kara sees it in herself, and in Lena. Most importantly, she sees the way that both of them are avoiding it, looking around it. She’s proud of her bravery, her almost stupid recklessness — to throw herself headfirst into any crisis, into any risk — but for once, Kara falters.
In the end, they both handle the problem the only way they know — throwing themselves wholly into work.
Lena spends three straight nights at the office. Kara logs 20 missions in the same time.
It’s exhausting, distracting, but it also thrills like a straight shock of electricity. They don’t speak for a week, but it’s a mutual sort of silence. They’re both too scared and too tired to act. They both pretend it’s patience.
After three months, Kara breaks.
She’s two-thirds of the way into destroying a rather large block of cement when Alex walks into the training room.
“So…” She steps carefully around the perimeter of where Kara is stalking around the block. “Are we going to talk about this whole rage thing you’re into right now or-“
“How did you know?” Kara puts her fist completely through the block, and Alex leaps back to avoid a scattering piece of rubble. “With Maggie. How did you know?”
Alex watches warily as Kara shreds the cement with two more punches. She kicks it for good measure, sending the entire block flying across the sparring room to shatter against the wall, before swiveling to face her sister.
“How did you know you were in love with your best friend?”
They are both breathless as they stare at each other. Kara’s hands fall to her hips in a shadow of her Supergirl stance. Her chest heaves. Alex knows that she’s supposed to be the older sister, the one with the answers, but in this moment she’s struck speechless. Kara sees that, and her face falls, her shoulders with it. For a moment, she glances around the room, and her eyes are lost when she looks at her sister again.
“I have to tell her, Alex,” Kara says. “She has to know who I am.”
“I know.” Alex walks to her, rests a hand on her shoulder. “Go on. It’ll be okay.”
Kara has walked into Lena’s office unannounced often enough, but it still feels different at her apartment.
“I brought wine” feels like a good opener, and it earns a smile, almost a full one.
(To be fair, Lena was smiling like that from the moment she opened the door, from the moment she saw Kara’s face.)
“So, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Lena says, and leave it to her to cut right to the chase, to not even
“I need to tell you something,” Kara says gently, fidgeting with her wine glass. “And I need you to listen-“
“Kara, I know.” Lena’s smile is a little too genuine, a little too gentle. “It’s okay, Alex told me, I know.”
“No, Lena.” Kara’s voice is gentle, but it cuts through Lena’s ramblings with ease. “You don’t. I know that Alex told you something, but she was just covering for me. She wanted me to be the one to tell you.”
“What?” Lena chokes on the word.
Kara sees it, then. Lena falters. Her eyes dim slights, narrow at the edges. She’s doing her best to keep it together, but Kara can see that Lena is infinitely fragile in this moment, just a syllable away from falling apart. If she could, Kara would stop, she would stop speaking and walk across the room and pull Lena into her arms. But she’s steeled herself too much. Her entire relationship with Lena is made up of moments like this, where she tried and failed to tell Lena the truth. If she stops now, it might never happen and it will all stay the same and Kara can’t take another day like that.
So she takes off the glasses. Her hair is already down and she knows that this should be it, this should be enough, but she needs to say something too. She refuses to let the silence break her truth.
“Lena, look at me.” That’s not necessary. Lena is looking at Kara, only at Kara, as if she’s seeing her for the first time. “This is who I am. I’m—“
“Can I see?” This time, Lena is the one to do the interrupting. Kara studies her face for a sign. For anything. For the anger, or the sadness that she was expecting. But Lena’s eyes are simply earnest, simply searching her face. “Can I?”
Kara isn’t sure what Lena means as she walks towards her. She moves slowly, as if she’s afraid of scaring Kara. Which is wrong, it’s all backwards, Lena should be the one who is skittish, Lena is the one who’s supposed to be afraid. Afraid of Kara. But Lena’s face is gentle, her hands reaching out.
“Let me see.” Lena’s fingers trace the collar of her shirt, the buttons, and her eyes are pleading. Kara nods, and the movement is jerky, her throat choked. She grasps the first button between her pointer finger and her thumb, and Kara can feel the hesitation. But then Lena does it. She pulls at the first button, then the second, each one revealing the blue and the red underneath. Vaguely, Kara is aware of the heat emanating from Lena, from where she stands just an inch too close, from her fingertips where they brush her chest.
Lena pulls the last button loose, the one just above Kara’s belly button. She tugs at the collar, pulling the shirt so that it parts even further, so that the insignia is completely unobscured. She idly runs a finger over it, and Kara does her best not to shudder.
“Please, Lena.” Her eyes are searching, but Lena refuses to look up, refuses to meet her gaze. “Please, Rao, please say something.”
When Lena draws in her next breath, it’s shaky, enough so that Kara could hear it even without super hearing.
“I told you that you were my hero.” Lena’s thumb traces the bottom curve of the seal, her eyes remaining fixated. “You saved me so many times. In both suits. In both versions of yourself.”
Kara feels like the air has been sucked out of the room, like she’s been thrown into a different atmosphere. Then Lena looks up at her and she’s struck cold, silent, frozen.
“Why did you take so long?” Lena is shaking and Kara can’t do anything to stop it. “Did you not trust that I would love all of you?”
And that’s the truth, the lie that never was. Because Lena loves her, and Kara can see that clear as day. Loves both sides of her, and knows both sides of her, and probably knew this truth from the beginning. And she loves her. Lena loves her, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and Kara has no idea what to do with that realization, so she grabs Lena by both arms and tugs her to her chest, presses Lena’s cheek to her family’s crest, lets her fingers tangle in her hair. Kara holds and doesn’t let go.
“I knew you would,” she mumbles into the top of her head. “I knew. I’m sorry.”
She decides, in that moment, to stop caring about the risk. Lena knows and Lena loves her and everything else can be damned.
“Listen, Lena- there’s something else.” Her head jerks up, eyes still swimming as she looks at Kara, and it’s like she’s begging. Begging for Kara to be gentle, or honest, or whichever is easier. “Alex didn’t lie, or at least, she didn’t, what she said, it wasn’t-“
The third time one of them is cut off, it’s by Kara’s phone. She doesn’t want to stop, but the sound is insistent, urgent, and she’s practically programmed to react to it. Lena sees it, and she’s pulling away before Kara can tell her to stop, to stay where she was, curled into her side.
“It’s okay.” Lena looks at her, eyes soft again, and Kara believes her. “Go ahead.”
It’s Alex, with an emergency, a standup of three armored cars by a gang with alien tech. Kara only half listens, watching the way that Lena watches her. She mouths an apology, knows it’s not enough.
“Do they need Kara or Supergirl?” Lena’s gaze burrows into her crest, and there’s a thousand words left hanging between them, unsaid.
“Supergirl,” she mutters, but Lena just smiles.
“At least I got you halfway ready,” she laughs, tugging at the front of Kara’s shirt where it lays open. “Go be a hero. I’ll be here.”
“I’ll be back.” Her voice is too forceful, but Kara doesn’t care. She touches Lena’s wrist, fingers grazing over her skin, and briefly wonders if she’s always been this soft to the touch. “Promise.”
She can feel Lena’s eyes on her, long after she’s flown out of range of human sight.
Kara should’ve listened to Alex.
The alien tech is strong. It shouldn’t be too strong, shouldn’t be overpowering her, but Kara has been stretched too thin for too long, running away from her problems. She almost solar flares without thinking, takes three hits to the chest before finally, thankfully, tackling the final thug to the ground, slamming her fist into his skull and ripping the gun from his fingers. She’s close to collapsing, exhausted. She makes it to the DEO, drops the gun on the ground with a clatter and falls to a knee.
Alex is there in seconds, like always, hands on her shoulders, calling for backup. Kara doesn’t care about that, doesn’t care about getting to a sun bed, but she’s too tired to argue or complain. She looks to Alex and just hopes she’ll understand.
“Lena.” She coughs on the word, stumbles. “I need to-“
J’onn catches her when she collapses.
She’s awake again in moments, the sun lamp warming her skin and something deep in her, too, something she’s never been quite able to explain. Alex has already left, and Kara sends a silent thanks to Rao for giving her a sister.
Lena promised herself she won’t watch the news. She never worried before, never had to, because Supergirl was impervious, even when she struggled, even when she seemed completely broken. But the knowledge, the full and unquestionable knowledge that it’s Kara out there, Kara being the hero, when Kara is supposed to be her hero.
She tries not to think about it. She lasts ten minutes, then picks up the remote, clicks on the TV and waits.
Alex calls an hour later. Lena sprints to get ready, but she’s too fast. She waits downstairs, a coat thrown over her arms, fingers picking at her cuticle until it turns bloody. When Alex pulls up, her answers come before Lena has a chance to answer questions.
“She’s safe.” Alex’s smile is small, but it’s still reassuring. “She’s okay. She just wants you, and I figured, since you know now, there’s no harm—“
“She wanted me?” There’s too much hope in Lena’s voice, and Alex’s smile widens slightly.
“She’s always going to want you.” Lena looks out the window. It’s easier than thinking about Alex’s words.
The moment she sees Kara, flat on her back under the sun lamps, she wonders if she’ll ever get used to this. If she’ll ever be able to stand the sight of Kara in pain. If she’ll be able to handle the waiting, the fear that accompanies the crest on Kara’s chest.
Lena wants to run to her side, but she settles for a slow walk, wary of the eyes of her and cautious to expose the feeling coursing through her like lightning. She takes Kara’s hand, runs a thumb over her finger.
“What happened?” Lena wonders if her voice betrays the concern coating her throat.
“It was a hit by a gang we’ve been tracking for weeks.” Alex’s agent voice is focused, sharp. “Humans with alien tech. Kara’s been pushing herself too hard, and I told her that. She was supposed to take one of our powered suits, one of your suits, but she didn’t and she took a few hard hits.”
Alex sees Lena look to Kara, sees her hand tighten.
“Nothing she can’t handle,” she says, and her voice is gentle. “She just needs time.”
Lena nods, swallows, fights against that thing stuck in her throat.
“You said alien tech?” Her voice curls up at the end of the sentence, and Alex grins wickedly.
“Oh, I’ve got some good stuff for you to play with, Luthor.”
When Kara wakes up, she’s greeted with the sight of Lena, Winn and Alex hunched over the gun she had retrieved. She’s not sure if she wants to smile or cry, but then Lena looks up and she looks straight at her and her smile is so full, so bright. She’s not sure she’s ever wanted anything more, and then Lena breathes out her name, and she’s absolutely positive that she’s never wanted anything more. She doesn’t have to reach out, because Lena’s hands are already there, pressing into her sides and her wrists, smoothing out her hair.
There’s plenty to talk about — the mission report, the pile of paperwork and NDAs that Lena will now have to fill out, a solid round of chastising from J’onn and Alex and Lena, too, for not wearing the proper suit. What Kara remembers the most is the gleam in Lena’s eye as she looks at the gun on the table.
“I wish you had told me so much sooner, Kara.” She turns and her smile is too big to fit in one room, too big to contain in any one moment. There’s no resentment in her words, just excitement. “I probably won’t sleep another night of my life, but you’re going to get so much out of me now that I have all this access.”
“All of what access?” J’onn’s voice cuts through, deep and incredulous, but Alex is already inching closer.
“What do you have in mind?” It’s Lena’s turn for a wicked grin, and she taps on Alex’s holster.
“For starters, a few more of these guns.”
For a moment, Alex looks like she’s the one who might be kind of, sort of, entirely in love with Lena.
Eventually, Kara offers to fly her home.
It’s a little desperate, actually. Hours pass as the team settles into the newness of Lena’s addition, and it’s enough, really it is, when she looks over her shoulder and smiles apologetically each time she’s dragged away, but eventually enough is enough and Kara just needs to be alone with her.
“So I’ll fly you home?” Her arms are crossed and she’s standing with a little too much of that macho superhero energy. Alex notices and smirks. Lena notices and smiles, wary.
“So soon?” She’s trying to joke but she’s clearly nervous. Kara just nods, knowing it’s unhelpful, knowing it’s just adding to Lena’s concern. She stands, stoic and silent, until Lena has gathered her coat and Alex has pried her hands off of all of the nearby technology, with promises of an access card in the morning. Finally, they walk up the steps to the landing, and Kara extends one arm. Lena’s eyebrows twitch upwards, and Kara grins.
“Ready for a ride?”
She’s confident for a moment, until Lena’s arms are around her shoulders and her face is tucked into her neck and her side is pressed to Kara. She flies because it’s all she can think to do, all she feels that she can do in that moment. When Kara lands on the balcony, she realizes from the breathless look on her face that she might have flown a little fast, taken a few corners a little too sharply, but she can’t figure out how to apologize because she’s struggling to form words at all.
“So I guess I owe you a thank you.” Lena’s eyes are calculated, like she’s trying to guard herself, and Kara wants to wipe the look off her face, wants to tell her that she’ll never hurt her. “For all those times you saved my life.”
“You’re not mad?” She shakes her head no and Kara’s whole world falls back on its axis, upright, certain, centered. She crosses her arms, her thumb tapping idly against her bicep, eyes searching upwards as she tries to contain the rushing feeling in her chest.
“Listen, I need to tell you-“
“Kara, about earlier-“
They both start and stop at once. And then Lena is looking at her, all want and longing, and Kara can see how long it’s been built up, how long this has been necessary for both of them. So she does the only thing she can think to do — she acts. She walks across the room and right into Lena’s space, into that tiny perimeter that always exists around her, that no one ever breached before Kara. She moves forward until their hips are pressed together, until their noses brush, hands braced on the wall behind her.
“Alex didn’t lie.”
The words break the silence, shatter it like glass, and Lena kisses her like she’s drowning and needs Kara to breathe.
For a second, they float. Lena wraps her arms around Kara’s neck and she slides her arms around her waist and suddenly both of their feet are dangling an inch above the ground. Lena sucks in her breath and there’s a grin spreading across her lips, making it impossible to kiss her.
“That good?” Kara can hear her grin, can feel it.
“Kissing you feels like flying.” It’s beyond cheesy and Kara knows it but she doesn’t care. She’s wanted this for so long and now that it’s here it’s all Kara can do to keep her powers in check, to keep them grounded and hold Lena gently.
“Kara?” She hums in response, pressing her mouth to Lena’s throat as fingers press into the crest on her chest. “How the hell do you get this suit off?”
She laughs, and then Lena is lifted and carried and deposited on the bed so quickly that it knocks the breath out of her lungs.
The threat comes a few weeks later.
“You hurt my sister, I’ll strap you into a pod and launch you into the Phantom Zone.”
“You’ve got a deal.”
Kara breaks Lena’s headboard.
And her marble countertop. Her doorframe. Also the table on her balcony, two of the white couches and one desk at the office that Lena is so fond and a support beam in the third floor of L-Corp.
She gets better at not breaking things. Still, sometimes Lena goads her on just to see her snap.
(Lena doesn’t tell her this, but she loves to watch Kara lose control.)
Then one day, the tables turn.
Kara does that thing where she saves the world only to zip back to Catco minutes later, and Lena does that thing where she cocks an eyebrow as she cracks a joke, and somehow that ends in Lena dragging her into her office and pulling them tightly together the second that the door shuts.
She should have noticed, of course, that Kara was too pliable, allowing herself to be pulled along. But Lena thought, with a flicker of pride, that maybe for once she’d gotten the jump on Kara when she spun her and pressed her back against her new desk. Kara stumbles on the way, and that, too, should’ve been a sign. Supergirl doesn’t stumble.
Kara’s back hits the desk and a wave of shock ripples through her body. She yells, lunging forward into Lena’s arms, dropping to the ground, solid and shaking.
“What is that-“ Breath raggedly stutters out of Kara’s lungs as she sinks to the ground, staring at the desk, her fingers digging in to bruise Lena’s arm. “Kryptonite. Kryptonite in the desk.”
In the end, Lena scoops her up, marveling at how easy Kara always makes this look, at how hard it is in reality to cradle a limp living person in your arms. She moves them outside, gets to the elevator before they slump to the ground, Kara’s head in her lap, both gasping for breath.
It takes the whole length of the elevator ride — 40 stories — for Kara to breath properly again.
“The wood of the desk was laced with Kryptonite.” Alex’s voice is brutally cold, and Lena remembers, with a flicker of anxiety, that threat about the Phantom Zone. “You want to explain where you got it?”
“It was Lex’s, I-“ Lena stutters and Kara reaches out to offer a soothing hand. “I didn’t think about it. I’d just always admired how it looked, I didn’t think he would have poisoned it-“
“Why wouldn’t you check anything that Lex ever laid hands on?” It’s James’ turn to bark at her now. “I mean, honestly, why did you even need a new one?”
“We, um-“ She looks helplessly at Kara, who shrugs.
“Broke the last one.” Her voice is a mumble, and Alex whirls on her sister, eyebrows raising in something like shock before settling in amused disgust.
“And I can assume that’s also the reason that you were too distracted to notice the massive amount of Kryptonite you allowed yourself to come into contact with?” There’s a smile curling across Alex’s features, but Lena can still see the fear in her eyes. “I mean, honestly Kara, you have to be more careful-“
“That was my fault,” Lena cuts in, which makes it even worse, because now Alex is turning on her.
“Lena, I don’t think you want to shoulder the blame for this right now.”
Kara spends the night under the sun lamps. Lena spends the night in her labs.
She’s nervous, actually, when she brings Kara back to her apartment, tugging her gently by the wrist towards the bedroom.
“I wanted to make it up to you.”
Kara is already turning to tell her that isn’t necessary, that she didn’t do anything wrong, but Lena flicks on the lights before she can protest too much. The room is bathed, for a moment, in red and Kara looks around in confusion.
“What did you-“ Lena didn’t have the chance to test it yet, given that her only possible trial subject has been out of commission since she began construction. So she’s not quite sure if it’s going to work, or if she’s going to be met with solid marble when she puts her hands on Kara’s arms, curls her fingers around her biceps and pushes. It’s worth the risk, however, when Kara stumbles back, meeting the wall with a satisfying whoomp of air rushing from her lungs.
“Red sun lights.” Kara’s voice is filled with awe as she looks up, then traces her eyes across Lena’s features, smiling widely. “Lena. You’re a genius, you know that right?”
“I’ve been told.” She buries the words in the curve of Kara’s neck, kissing a circle down towards her collarbone. “Probably for the best that we’re not enemies.”
“Yeah, I’m a huge fan of that fact.”
Lena quickly learns that Kara is still, despite the lamps, much stronger than her, as she spins them to push Lena into the wall, as she pulls her hungrily into bed. That might be due to the fact that her legs turn to jelly whenever Kara kisses her throat. That hypothesis requires more testing.
Kara kisses her differently under the light of the lamps. It’s hungry, fervent, unrelenting. She presses and presses and Lena has no other choice but to give, to let Kara take full control. Finally, she pulls back, her face spread in a grin that could almost be called goofy if it wasn’t attached to the most beautiful woman that Lena has ever seen, all rippling muscle and tousled hair, with her shirt on the ground on the bed beside her.
“I can actually kiss you now.” She swoops down, pressing into her lips again, her teeth nipping and tugging until Lena’s breath comes out in gasps. “No broken noses.”
“And no broken desks.”
“Oh, I can’t promise you anything about that.”
“I’ll just have to install one of these in every room in the city, then.”
Lena grins up. Kara smiles down. Then she does everything in her power to wipe that look off her face.
She never gets used to it.
Lena thinks she will. Every time, she thinks that she’ll harden, grow used to the sight of Kara, her Kara, flying headfirst into danger. But it never gets easier. Every ounce of trust and conviction she ever had in Supergirl remains, but it’s now laced with every second of fear she has ever felt for Kara. And it never gets easier.
Ten years pass, and it’s still as hard as the first night. Ten years of nights under the yellow sun lamps, of cleaning blood from her knuckles, of refusing sleep in preference of working in the lab to perfect a new suit, a better one. Ten years pass and Lena holds on as hard she can every single time that she touches Kara.
In return, Kara makes promises. She promises to come back, and quick. She promises to fly by Lena’s favorite food truck on the way back from missions. She promises to be careful, even though she’s never careful, not really. She promises that she’ll never leave.
She holds true on those promises.
And it’s harder than Lena ever expected, but it’s also easier. Easier because now, with the truth in the open, she knows what she’s getting every night, knows to expect a warm light in her apartment when she’s stayed at work too long, to expect a huge smile and strong arms and coaxing, soothing words after every long or bad or mundane day.
Years pass and time slows down and speeds up and still, Kara remains.
“You’re so good.” Kara whispers it in her ear as they fall asleep, mutters it like a prayer against her throat when she pins her to a wall, smiles it out as they walk side by side, fingers brushing.
Finally, Lena Luthor believes it.