Chapter 1: windows boarded up after the storm
Lena knows, because Lex told her before Kara got the chance to do it herself.
Kara knows that Lena knows because she tried to tell her, afterwards. They had an awful crying, shouting fight about it in Lena's office, the kind of fight that sticks under Kara's skin and keeps her awake at night.
(Kara accidentally crunched a handprint into Lena's desk. Lena threw Kara's phone off of her office balcony.
She doesn't want to talk about it.)
(Except that it feels like all she's doing is talking about it.)
There's a hole at game night. That's - fair. Probably. It's fair that Lena wants space and she has every right to set the boundaries that she needs to make her heart feel safe. It makes sense that after being lied to, she'd feel angry. There's a word Kelly uses a lot - valid. Lena's feelings are valid.
Kara knows it, agrees with it, but it doesn't make it any easier to play Settlers of Catan without her best friend.
(Her best friend Lena who is astonishingly, unsettlingly good at that game. She treats the whole thing like it's a board meeting and can calculate probabilities in her head after a full bottle of wine and usually ends up with a trade monopoly on sheep or bricks.)
(Lena who always looks so delighted to win that it almost balances out her competitiveness.)
(Kara remembers Lena telling her, once, that Lex always made sure he won when they played games together. It puts Lena's little grin of victory into context.)
There's a hole at game night, and it's shaped like Lena Luthor. Kara wedges herself onto the couch in J'onn's office with J'onn on her left side and Alex on her right, and tries not to think about it. They're playing Pandemic, cooperatively with a weird mix of pairs and single players because they're seven people and it's really only supposed to be for four.
"I'm so excited about this game, you guys." Nia's the type who starts to get flushed after a half-glass of red wine and she's red-cheeked and dreamy-eyed as she leans into Brainy. "Usually when I play with my roommate, we end up with the virus apocalypse in like, ten turns."
"I don't want to brag," Alex says, definitely bragging. "But Kara and I win most of the time."
Kelly rolls her eyes, leans closer to Alex's side and kisses her shoulder. "I feel like with you playing this game it's kind of cheating, though." Alex inhales, about to get huffy, when Kelly squeezes her bicep. "Because you're a brilliant field medic, dear."
It's sweet, the way Kelly and Alex look at each other. It should make Kara feel good. Alex is finally happy again, and Kelly is so good for her, and Kara's so, so glad that her sister has found someone. It does make her feel good, knowing that her sister is happier, these days. But there's something that deflates that goodness for Kara and makes it feel a little sad around the edges.
She doesn't think about Lena, but she doesn't not think about her, either. It's different, of course. She and Lena never dated, their friendship was never like that, but there's something about the easy intimacy of Alex with Kelly that hits Kara right behind her heart.
The spell of melancholy is broken when James starts making kissing noises, gently teasing his sister. Kara pokes Alex in the side, joining in, and Kelly throws a pillow at James. It feels like it makes it a bit easier for Kara to breathe, somehow.
When the giggles and protests have settled, Kara gets up. It's a calculated risk. Kelly and Alex are probably going to snuggle even closer and take up her space on the sofa, but her drink needs a refill and she's feeling criminally under-snacked right now and she knows her priorities. James takes a break at the same time, and they meet at the table near the front door.
Kara takes her time selecting a second soda, while James pours himself another glass of wine. "Hey," he says, bumping Kara's side with his hip.
"Hey," Kara says. She's so glad they have this, now. She's so glad that he's alright.
"I miss her, too," he says.
His words hit Kara like a physical force. She feels her breath catch, is suddenly acutely aware of the hole in her heart that matches the hole at game night. It's painful, and she probably deserves it, but she wishes it didn't have to hurt quite this much.
Kara puts her hand over James' and squeezes. "Thanks," she whispers. "It helps, that someone else misses her."
James rests his hand on her shoulder and pulls her sideways. Kara lets herself be pulled, leans into the half-hug and lets herself nestle into his side for a moment. "You'll work it out," he says. "She's still your best friend."
The phrase makes Kara's stomach twist. She still can't quite hear it without remembering the way Lena said it when they last spoke; the way she spat it out like an accusation. It comes with a perfect sense memory of the sound of Lena choking back a sob as Kara walked away, the desire to turn back and hug her almost palpable. Don't talk to me, Lena had said. I need some time.
"Hey Kara," Nia calls out. "Are we gonna be the medic or the scientist?"
Kara looks back at the game table. They've all rearranged themselves so that there's an empty space for Kara between Nia and J'onn, a free chair in the middle for James, and Brainy wedged in between Kelly and Alex. "I thought you were on Brainy's team."
Alex is looking at Kara a little pointedly, like maybe Kara wasn't as good at hiding her feelings as she thought she was. "We decided no couples teams for tonight," she says. "If that's alright."
Just hearing it makes Kara feel lighter. It washes away the guilt that had started to rise up, the idea that her moping about her best friend was making her friends feel like they couldn't enjoy their partners. She takes a deep breath, and finds the part of her heart that's excited for family time. "Well that's your loss," Kara says. "Because Field Medic Kara and Field Medic Nia are going to crush you."
Nia rolls her eyes. "It's a co-op game."
"Collaboratively," Kara amends. "We're going to crush them with how good we are at cooperating."
It helps. All of it. Nia rolling her eyes and putting her arm around Kara's shoulder while they draw cards, the last few tense turns before they win the game, Alex offering to walk Kara home. All of it helps keep the clouds of Kara's sadness away, for a while.
But when Kara gets home, the sadness creeps back in. She falls asleep with her arms wrapped around a pillow, thinking about Lena.
Kara manages. She goes to work, she does research, she turns in well-written, thoroughly-researched articles, she goes home. But in the back of her thoughts, Lena's always there.
She does interviews and thinks of Lena. She goes home at the end of the day and eats pizza and thinks about Lena. Supergirl saves someone from a burning building and she thinks about all the times she's rescued Lena this way; what she'd say to her if she could do it all over again.
At night, when she's home in her pyjamas, she watches musicals. She tries to pick the ones that don't remind her of Lena.
(As if that's possible. All musicals, somehow, remind her of Lena.)
They don't talk for a month.
It's the longest Kara's ever gone without speaking to Lena since they met. (Before this, their record was four and a half days and for at least two of those, Kara was in space.)
She doesn't even know how to articulate the way it feels, not having her.
With Mon-El, it was - well, obviously it was different. He was her boyfriend, her first romantic-and-sexual love affair and losing him was sudden and unfair and she felt it like a wound. She remembers how broken she'd felt back then, the edges of her heart raw and gaping. It was so painful that at the time, she thought she might die from it.
Losing Lena feels different, but it makes her think of that hurt. It's softer, the ache behind her ribs, and not as harsh. It's a wound she saw coming, and the impact of it is less, but not by much. She still feels like she can't breathe if she thinks about it too hard, the fact that she used to have a best friend and now she's just got - nothing. An ex-best friend. A phone full of selfies that feel like they're from someone else's life and a chat thread full of messages that Lena hasn't bothered to read.
When Kara's hurting like this, the first person she reaches out to, after Alex, is Lena. All she wants is to talk to Lena about what's going on with her.
Lena's her best friend. She'd know what to do.
Kara doesn't reach out.
Instead, she does all the stuff she's supposed to do. She gives Lena her space. She spends time with James and Nia and Brainy and Alex. She pretends not to notice when they slip up and mention Lena's name, or when she asks about the past week and someone mentions doing something with a friend who couldn't be anyone but Lena. She digs her nails into her forearm and looks down at her lap and uses every ounce of her self-control to not ask about it.
(She thinks it, though. Sometimes she thinks it so hard that she's surprised her friends can't hear it. How is she? Is she alright? And, most importantly: does she ask about me?)
Eventually, it gets easier.
It's still not easy, having a life where Lena used to be her best friend. There's still a hole there, Lena-shaped, and Kara's not sure anything is ever going to really fill it. But she learns how to work around it. She puts the musicals away, and it's only partly because Alex insists.
She goes to game night and it doesn't feel quite so jarring when all of them are there and Lena hasn't arrived yet.
She dreams about Lena - about going for sushi and talking about her day - and she still wakes up with an ache in her chest and a bone-deep sadness in her heart. But it's easier to get out of bed on those mornings now, to keep going despite the sadness of it.
Sometimes, Kara even feels like it might be possible to be friends with Lena again someday.
She thinks about what it would be like. How maybe they'd run into each other someplace, or Lena might finally reply to one of Kara's months-old texts. She's had more than one dream that ended with Lena calling her; just the dream-thought makes Kara so happy that she wakes herself up to find a quiet phone and no missed calls. Sometimes she fantasizes about rescuing Lena. There's an emergency, and Lena's in trouble and Supergirl gets to be there for her and maybe if that happened - not that she'd ever want it to happen, or wish for Lena to be in trouble - maybe Lena would just be so grateful that she'd forgive her.
In her mind, Kara's rehearsed it. She has a whole apology speech prepared, and if she can just convince Lena to be in a room with her and let her get through it she knows - she knows that they'd be alright.
In the end, the reality of it isn't at all like Kara's fantasies. It's actually kind of silly.
Kara's coming back from an interview. She was up late writing the night before and she's tired, so she ducks in to pick up a coffee on her way back to CatCo. It's not her usual; it's an independent shop with polished concrete floors and fancy pour-over coffee and Kara's not really interested in any of that. But she is interested in the fact that they make coffee at all, and the fact that the croissants she can see in the front display case are approximately the size of her face.
(If she were paying more attention, she'd have realized that this shop is only a few blocks away from L Corp's tower. She might even have remembered the name, or the fact that Lena brought her coffee from this shop once before.
She orders her coffee - iced americano with extra room and sugar syrup - and her croissant. Then she stands by the bar, and waits for her drink. It looks incredible. She can practically taste it, the bitter-sweet mixing together with the richness of the cream she's going to add and gosh does she ever need that today.
When her drink is ready, she moves to the little table with the cream and the stir sticks. She finishes dressing it, is in the middle of searching for a straw when she hears a familiar voice and freezes. "No, I will absolutely not let this go. We have to set clear boundaries between L-Corp and any ties to Amertek, full-stop."
Kara takes a deep breath. This happens all the time. She sees a flash of dark hair or hears a voice with just the right timbre and her heart leaps into her throat. This is probably more of the same. But then she looks up and Lena is there, talking on her cell phone while she waits in line to order her coffee.
She's not ready. She's not ready to see Lena yet, she hasn't prepared, she doesn't know what to do. None of her daydreams accounted for the way her emotions would rise up, the feeling she'd get from seeing Lena in front of her. Anxiety hits Kara full-force, starting at the top of her head and trickling down her spine, settling in the tips of her fingers and toes. Her tongue feels tingly. She doesn't know what to do.
She tries to pick up her coffee and leave, but her hands are clumsy with nerves and her croissant is in the same hand and she fumbles, barely recovers to keep from dropping her coffee. The movement causes a loud clatter of ice against the side of her cup and a very ungraceful windmilling of her free hand. It's enough of a scene that Lena looks up from her call. She makes eye contact, and Kara hears the way her voice goes dead as she tells the person on the other end of the call, "I'll have to call you back."
Lena breaks her gaze away, and turns to focus on the barista at the counter. She orders her drink and Kara's too off-balance to hear what it is. She used to know Lena's coffee orders by heart: she has different ones for different moods, calculates caffeine doses for maximum efficacy if she needs to work late. Kara wonders if they've changed, since they last spoke.
She's still standing, stunned, when Lena finishes paying for her coffee and moves to wait for it to be made. She stands next to Kara.
Lena stands next to Kara and for a moment Kara's stomach drops with delight. Her heart flutters and squeezes, this sudden rush of Lena feelings coursing through her and making her even shakier. It feels like relief. It feels like everything she's been aching for, Lena finally here and real and she still smells the same, still looks like Kara's best friend in the whole world.
Kara realizes, too late, that her free hand is halfway up, raised as if to touch Lena's arm. It's automatic, an instinctive desire to check that Lena's real. That this is happening. Lena looks at her hand, pointedly, and takes a half-step to the side.
Kara shoves her hand into her pocket. "Lena," she says. "Hi."
"Kara," Lena says. She's not looking at her. She's looking straight ahead, her eyes watching the back of the espresso machine, waiting for her drink to be done. It feels like they're in an elevator.
Kara thinks about her apology speech. She has it, she's practiced it into the bathroom mirror a million times but now that Lena's here, she's not sure she can remember any of it. The words that she can recall feel hollow, insufficient to express the depth of what she's feeling. "It's good to see you," is what she says. Her voice sounds so small, even to her own ears.
"Thank you," Lena says. She doesn't say anything more. In front of them, the barista finishes Lena's coffee - triple americano in a large cup with hazelnut syrup, so she must be working late tonight - and sets it down on the bar. "Anyway. I really should get back to work. If you'll excuse me."
Kara takes a step backward, nearly fumbling her coffee again as she moves to give Lena space to get a lid for her drink. She watches as Lena fits the lid to the cup with efficient, precise movements. "Of course," she says. "Um. I hope you have a good day."
Lena's controlled expression falters for a moment, shifts into a flicker of some unnamed emotion that disappears before Kara can really read it. "Thank you, Kara," she says.
Her name doesn't sound right, when Lena says it like that. There's usually such a softness to it, the way Lena's tongue lingers over the first syllable and rolls into the second. But today her name is clipped, the barest hint of acknowledgement as Lena brushes past her and disappears onto the street.
Kara finds a free table, and sits. She's going to be late getting back to the office, but that doesn't feel like it matters, right now.
She waits in the cafe and breathes, until the ache in her heart eases enough that she can go back to work.
They don't speak for another two weeks, after that.
Kara spends four solid days parsing every millisecond of their meeting at the coffee shop in her head; another day processing it with Alex and a day after that processing it with Nia before she feels like she can relax about it. It just feels so - significant. Sure, it was awkward. And kind of terrible. And after work that night, Kara cried into one of her throw pillows like she hadn't in weeks, her heart feeling all of the hurt she felt over hurting Lena over again.
But Lena looked at her. Lena looked at her and said her name, and she hadn't done that in four full weeks so it's - that's progress. That has to be progress.
Kara does her best not to think about it. Let her come to you when she's ready, Alex tells her, and she's probably right but it's also probably the most difficult thing Kara's ever done.
But then there's someone selling advanced earth tech on the black market, stolen secrets and prototypes, and when Brainy suggests that the L-Corp storage facility might be under attack, Kara doesn't hesitate.
Lena won't be there. Kara has to remind herself of that. Lena won't be there because it's a warehouse, it's not her office or her apartment. Just because the building belongs to L-Corp doesn't mean Kara will see her.
True to Kara's expectations, Lena's not there.
But her tech is, and four thieves in drug-store gorilla masks and it's a shame that Lena's not there, because Kara's pun game is out of control amazing. And after the dust settles, Kara walks out of the building and there are the usual lights and sirens, and Lena Luthor.
She's standing next to her car, still dressed for work. Her hair is pulled back against her nape and she's wearing a coat and heels and it's just so familiar that it tugs at Kara's heart. Kara knows that pair of heels. Kara remembers Lena trying to decide if she should buy that coat or a similar one in a different color.
Kara gets that feeling again, her whole body going numb for just a moment at the sight of Lena.
Tonight she's Supergirl, though. Supergirl isn't fighting with her best friend. Supergirl doesn't fumble her iced coffee and then try not to cry in a coffee shop bathroom because she misses Lena so much that it hurts.
Lena's walking over to her. Kara takes a breath, and forces her best Supergirl voice. "Miss Luthor," she says.
"Supergirl," Lena replies. There's still a bit of a bite to the way she says it, but it's softer than it used to be. "I suppose I should be thanking you."
"Oh, it was no trouble," Supergirl says. "I'm just happy that I could help."
"I assure you, my security team would have been perfectly capable of handling the situation," Lena says.
"Oh," Supergirl says. Her voice falters; Kara Danvers is starting to shine through, nervous and hurting. "Well, I - if you'd like, I can leave things to your team in the future."
Something in Lena's expression softens. It's still not the same as it used to be. She's not showing any warmth, but there's a note of - it seems like it bothers her, that Kara might be feeling hurt.
They're a few feet away from the rest of the crowd, and with the sound of chatter and the roar of idling car engines around them, it's unlikely that anyone else will overhear them. Kara notices this, because she notices the way that Lena surveys the area to check. "I do appreciate it," she says. "Kara."
Lena says her name properly, this time. She says it softly, with caring and warmth and she meets Kara's eyes when she says it. The weight of that one word feels like enough to fill Kara's entire body with warmth. It makes her feel like she does when she sits under the sun lamps, bright and full of so much energy that she feels like she could fly all the way to the moon.
"Well then," Kara says. She's using her own voice now, not Supergirl's, and she's so happy that she can't help but risk a smile. "You're welcome."
Supergirl flies away.
Kara Danvers waits until she's gone a good distance, high enough that the air starts to turn to frost at the ends of her hair and far enough that she's at least on the other end of National City. There, she lets herself feel all of it.
Lena Luthor said her name. Lena Luthor didn't flinch when Kara smiled at her. It's progress. It's definite, for sure progress, and Kara laughs out loud into the night sky. She flies with her eyes closed, breathing in the harsh cold of the night air as her chest fills with a quiet sense of relief.
Lena is the one to break the radio silence. It takes another two weeks.
By the time Lena texts Kara back, Kara's sent her at least a hundred unanswered messages. (In Kara's defense, most of those were in the first week after they fought.) It's been eight weeks and three days and they've talked a total of twice in that whole time.
In the end, Lena doesn't respond to any of Kara's messages. Not the ones that Kara wrote with teardrops on her phone screen (Please talk to me??? I miss you.) and not the ones that Kara wrote in anger and not the long ones that Kara thought through on paper and transcribed into her phone.
In the end, the first text that Lena sends Kara is: Good news. I saw a dog today.
It's so - familiar. It's something Lena would have sent her six months ago. Kara remembers the week when she discovered that Twitter account that rated dogs, and sent Lena a different dog photo every few hours. She remembers Lena retaliating by taking a photo of a dog she met at a coffee shop, a selfie with a fluffy little Bichon and then the message: 11/10 would pat again.
Kara checks the timestamp on the message three times, just in case. It shouldn't make her emotional. It shouldn't, but her heart is racing a mile a minute and her breath is catching in her throat as she writes back: Tell me everything.
Lena does. Lena sends her a photo, a jolly-looking grey terrier with scruffy fur, making interested eye contact with the photographer. He's wearing a little dog-sized tweed suit jacket, and the whole effect is so cute that Kara has to bite back a little happy squeal in the middle of the CatCo newsroom. This is my new neighbor; his name is Jonathan.
It feels like Kara can breathe again. There's something that loosens in her chest; a grip that's been holding since she and Lena first fell apart. It's been there for so long, she'd stopped noticing, but once it eases she realizes how light everything feels. Lena has a new neighbour named Jonathan and he's the cutest dog in the world. Lena told her that.
It's definitely something.
Tell him he's the cutest dog in the whole universe, and I like his jacket.
From you or from Supergirl? Lena asks.
It makes Kara hesitate. It's the first time since their big fight that Lena's actually acknowledged the duality of her; the way that Kara wears her identities. Whoever? she says, hits the send button before she can think about it too hard.
But then she thinks of a joke. And if Lena's texting her, and Lena's talking about dogs, maybe - maybe it's okay. Actually, no. Tell him it's from Supergirl. she writes. I haven't seen a lot of space dogs but he's still cuter than all of them.
There's silence from Lena's end of the conversation. Kara's heart sinks. The joke was probably a mistake. It was too much, too soon.
She stares at her phone for a full five minutes, waiting for a message that doesn't come, before she shoves her phone under a stack of papers on her desk and goes back to work.
Ten minutes later, she hears her phone vibrate against the desk. She picks it up so quickly that she knocks the papers and a separate stack of file folders onto the floor; it's disruptive enough that Nia looks up from her monitor to laugh at her. There's a message from Lena on her home screen: a photo and a text.
She unlocks her phone with shaky fingers. Lena's sent another photo of Jonathan. In this one he's sitting, head tilted with one ear cocked. Jonathan sends Supergirl his regards.
It's so much. It's everything Kara's been wanting for eight weeks and three days and she feels like she's going to cry right here in the office. Nia rolls her chair around the corner next to their desks to stage-whisper, "Everything okay?"
Kara doesn't know how to reply, for a moment. Everything's okay but it's also not okay but it's also perfect. Lena talked to her. Lena sent her a dog photo, and they talked about space dogs.
There's a part of Kara that feels a little sad. That she didn't do this sooner. That she wasn't more honest from the start. She could have been texting Lena about space dogs this whole time; what a wasted opportunity. There's another part of Kara that feels so happy and light that she can hardly process it all. She's texting Lena about space dogs now, and Lena texted her first, and that means there's a chance that they could actually mend this. "Lena texted me," she whispers.
"What did she say?" Nia asks. Her voice is pointed and a little dark; she's ready to leap to Kara's defense, she realizes.
"No, no, I - she texted me something nice," Kara says. She's trying to keep her voice even, but she can hear it starting to wobble despite her best efforts. "I think she wants to be friends again."
Nia grabs Kara by the wrist, half-dragging her out of the chair. "Bathroom," she says. "Bathroom now, tell me everything, then I'm buying you an iced coffee."
It's kind; enough that Kara feels herself start to cry as Nia whisks her down the hall and into the single-stall bathroom that used to be Cat's private one. Everything's going to be okay, she thinks to herself, for the first time in months. They're going to be okay.
Things get a little better.
Lena's still not at game night. She still doesn't text about the big stuff, like when they can see each other again or how Kara can make amends for lying or how she feels about everything that's happened.
Lena sends her another update on her new dog-neighbour a few days after her first text. Kara replies with a recommendation for a new hipster-run donut-and-coffee shop that she's been wanting to share for weeks.
It's not everything. It's not back to the way that it was, not by a long shot. But the little stuff still feels so much better than nothing at all.
The next time they see each other face to face, it's for work.
Lena's stepped back from running CatCo almost entirely; Kara doesn't think she's seen Lena at the CatCo offices once since the day they fell apart. But there's a new tech product Lena's releasing, and James wants an interview.
When Kara raises her hand and offers to take the story, he gives her a long, hard look. He lets her take the assignment, though.
(Kara does her best not to overthink it. She knows that James and Lena are still friendly, and a part of her can't help but wonder if this means that he knows something she doesn't about how Lena feels.)
She feels fine until she gets to the lobby of the L Corp tower.
The security guard recognizes her. Of course he does; she visited Lena at work all the time, before. "Miss Danvers!" he says. His name is - Marco, she thinks that's it, and a quick glance at his ID badge confirms it. "It's good to see you again. It's been a while."
Kara forces a smile. "Oh, you know," she says.
Oh, you know, I'm a jerk and I've been lying to your CEO for years and she found out and hates me forever.
Oh, you know, I've been scared to show my face here because Lena threw my phone down thirty stories and called me a lying jackass.
Marco doesn't see any of that. It's comforting, in a strange way. She's not used to interacting with people who live in a world that isn't overshadowed by the weight of this big, broken thing between herself and Lena.
"They keep you too busy at Catco," he says with a shrug, as he gives Kara her visitor pass and signs her in. "I liked your article, though. The one about Mr. Luthor."
"Thanks," Kara says.
"You should write another one about all the good work we're doing," he says. He pushes a button at his desk, and unlocks the elevator to take Kara to Lena's floor.
Then she enters the elevator, and she's alone with her nerves. She steps out at Lena's floor, and tries not to think about the last time she was up here.
(She tries her best not to remember the way things ended; taking the elevator the long way down alone in the middle of the night, teary-eyed, because she didn't feel comfortable flying in front of Lena.)
She nods to Lena's assistant - a new one, Kara's maybe met her once - and introduces herself. "Of course," the assistant says. "I see your appointment right here. I'll let Miss Luthor know."
Lena's new assistant gestures to a sofa across from her desk, a sort of waiting room outside Lena's office door. "You can wait right here until she's ready for you."
Kara sits. She perches herself as close to the edge as possible, ready to stand again as soon as Lena gives the go-ahead. She feels like she can taste acid in the back of her throat, she's so nervous. As if to punctuate it, her stomach does a flip.
She didn't have to wait for Lena to buzz her in, before.
Kara waits for five minutes, then ten. At minute eleven she starts to scroll through social media, mindlessly not-reading post after post, trying her best to ignore the worries running through her head. What if she's changed her mind. What if she hates me forever. I shouldn't have come.
At minute thirteen, the phone at Lena's assistant's desk rings. She listens for a moment, then says, "Of course, Miss Luthor."
She hangs up, and the pit of Kara's stomach clenches. She feels like she might actually be sick. Lena's assistant smiles. "You can go on in, Miss Danvers."
Kara breathes. She can go in. That's something.
Lena's office looks almost the same as it did before. There's one major element that's changed: the white desk in the center of the room has been replaced with a black one, metal and wood but no less modern. Its swooping lines are dramatic, more businesslike than the other. Lena's sitting in front of it, her tablet balanced against a stack of file-folders as she taps at it with the end of a stylus. "Miss Danvers," she says. "I was just finishing up."
Miss Danvers stings. The formality of it feels pointed; Lena setting clear boundaries on what Kara is here for. That this is a work meeting, nothing more.
"Of course," Kara says. Her voice sounds small; her nerves keep her from being more sure.
Lena keeps her waiting for minutes, as she finishes reviewing whatever document she's looking through. When she's done, she flips the cover over the screen and steeples her hands together, making eye contact. She doesn't speak.
Kara doesn't want to just get down to business. She tries to make small talk, but the only thing she can think to say is, "You got a new desk. I like it."
Lena shrugs. Her expression is emotionless and unreadable. "Turns out the old one couldn't be repaired, after - it was damaged."
(After Kara gripped the edge of it, said Lena, stop and closed her hands until she felt the plastic crack against her palms.)
"Oh," Kara says. "Right."
"Shall we get down to business?" Lena asks.
"Yes, um. Yeah. That sounds fine."
Kara tries to redirect her attention to her own breathing. She spends an extra moment noticing the way her chest expands on the inhale, the way everything relaxes a little as she exhales. They don't have to be best friends again, not yet. Kara just needs to get through this. She needs the interview.
There's a chair across from Lena's desk. It's different than the one that used to be there, before. Lena gestures, a flick of her wrist that somehow manages to tell Kara to sit down, rather than inviting her. Kara perches as close to the edge of the chair as she can, ready to stand at a moment's notice.
(She can stand the whole time. She doesn't have to sit. Standing is respectful, and she wants Lena to know that she respects her, that's important.)
"So," Lena says. "You're here about the new product launch."
"Yes," Kara says. "The, um. The smart watch?" If she's being honest, she'd almost forgotten. She got so caught up in all of this - the ways that being here feels familiar-but-different and how much all of that hurts - despite herself.
The product is the L Watch, the press materials have been very particular on that, but Lena doesn't correct her. She nods, opening a document on her tablet to begin rattling off technical details and product features. Most of it is lifted straight from the press release, but she gives Kara a few hints at new information as well; just enough to make Kara's article a little more comprehensive than the ones written straight from the press package.
Kara asks for some sound bites; Lena gives them.
Then they sit quietly.
Kara doesn't have any more questions to ask about the product launch. Normally, at this point in an "interview," Lena would laugh and push Kara's notebook aside. She'd tell Kara she had to get back to work, and Kara would suggest having something to eat - donuts, maybe, or that new noodle place across the street.
Lena would relent and this would turn into a little mini-date, the two of them eating and laughing and catching up about work, off the record.
Today, Lena doesn't look like she's in the mood to laugh or eat noodles or anything like that. She's impassive, her expression precisely as warm as is work-appropriate and not a bit more. Lena's gaze flicks down to her tablet, then to the clock on her desk. Kara feels emotion bubble up inside her, that specific Lena blend of worry and heartache and caring. She cares about Lena so much and she just wants Lena to know that, even if they never get to be friends again.
The moment feels like an opportunity. Kara seizes it.
"I missed you," she says. Her words hang in the air, too vulnerable and too emotional to really fit the conversation they've been having but they're honest, at least. Kara hopes that counts for something.
Lena pauses, her hand halfway through a gesture that Kara knows, the beginning of an automatic thank-you-for-your-time-but-really-you-must-be-going. She lowers her hand to her lap.
"I know you're not ready to forgive me yet," Kara says. "And that's okay. It's hard, because I miss you and I wish that everything could just be okay again, but I understand why it can't be. I just wanted you to know that it's been nice, talking to you again."
Kara's words come out in a rush. Her heart is racing by the time she's finished, a mix of adrenaline and relief at finally being able to say all the things she's been rehearsing - or part of it, anyway - to Lena directly. At least she's pretty sure that this time, she didn't cry.
Lena's quiet for a long while. She's not looking at Kara. She's looking at her hands in her lap, then at the screen of her tablet, then at the ceiling with eyes suddenly bright and a little watery. "I know," Lena says. Her voice comes out in a whisper, the tone something Kara can't quite read. There's sadness there, and something else that Kara can't decipher. It makes Kara's heart ache for her. For them. For what she did. "I missed you, too."
Lena says it like they're a tragedy. Like missing Kara is the worst thing to ever happen to her. Something in Lena's expression twists, that sadness growing more clear. Kara blinks, and suddenly her cheeks are wet. Correction: she didn't cry that much.
Kara wants to stay. She wants to leap across Lena's desk and scoop her up and hug her and hold her until Lena stops hurting. She wants to fix this so badly that she feels it like a physical pain, the ache of not being Lena's friend anymore so strong that she's not sure if she can stand it. "Do you want me to, um. Should I stay?"
Lena's quiet for a long while. Finally, she says, "I think you'd better go."
Kara nods. She can do this. She can go and respect Lena's boundaries and even if that means she's probably going to have to fly a few laps around the city to cool down. "Of course," she says. "Of course, I can - thank you, Miss Luthor."
Lena tries to smile; she manages a grimace. "Thank you, Miss Danvers."
Kara leaves. She tries to wipe her cheeks as casually as she can, as if it's normal to just casually leave a business meeting tear-stained with an aching heart.
If Lena's assistant notices, she keeps it to herself.
Kara stands alone at the elevator bay, listens through the wall for the low whir of the cars moving up and down, waiting for her ride.
As it turns out, the following week, she has to go back.
Kara's article is out and other outlets are reacting to it and James wants someone to write a follow-up, to include Lena's reaction to their reaction.
It's not entirely true, that Kara has to be the one to follow up. Kara doesn't have to go personally. She could have sent Nia, or Nia with that girl from the new batch of interns that Nia thinks is going places. But Kara volunteers to do it herself, looks James in the eyes and pretends that she doesn't notice the pointed angle of his eyebrows when she tells him calmly that it's her story, so she can be the one to follow up.
She goes after work. She's already confirmed with Lena's new assistant - Andrea, they're on a first name basis now - that Lena will be in until late tonight, makes an appointment for 6:00.
She stops by the cafe, the one where she and Lena saw each other for the first time, weeks ago. Kara picks up a couple of muffins, and orders a sandwich - turkey on whole wheat, extra lettuce, extra pickles - just in case.
L Corp is quiet. Marco's gone home for the night, his colleague is someone Kara doesn't recognize. He doesn't make small talk. He calls her Miss Danvers in a factual, detached tone, and buzzes her into the elevator. She eats her muffin in a single bite on the elevator ride.
It's quiet on Lena's floor, as well.
Andrea's there, and this time she greets Kara with a soft half-smile, calls her Miss Danvers with a bit more warmth than before. Kara offers Andrea her extra muffin - chocolate chip with chai spice - and Andrea's smile grows, the barest amount. "My favourite," she says. "How did you know?"
Kara pauses for a moment. The real answer is that she's seen Andrea around. That she's gone back to that coffee shop for her break almost every day, and she's noticed Andrea picking up a coffee order she recognizes as one of her ex-best-friend's usuals. That she's spent weeks trying not to be hurt, and definitely trying not to wonder whether Lena's asked Andrea to pick up her coffee to avoid Kara. That she's noticed Andrea lingering over the pastry case whenever they make the chocolate-chai muffins, and she's got a good memory for those sorts of details.
Kara shrugs, uses her most disarming Kara Danvers smile and says, "I'm a good guesser."
Andrea giggles back. "Well, I appreciate it." This time, Andrea doesn't bother to call. She motions to Lena's office door, says, "Miss Luthor is ready for you."
Kara tries not to think about what that means.
Lena's office is lit more softly, after hours. It's a strategy. She told Kara about it once, over late-night burgers and fries. She doesn't like to work too late, so she dims the lights, tries to wind herself down so that she'll be able to let work go and leave the office.
It feels like it did the night of their fight. Kara's trying not to think about that, either.
"Miss Luthor," she says, her toes barely over the threshold.
Lena looks up from her desk. Her hair is pulled back, her usual bun loosened just enough that it sits soft against her neck. She must have a headache.
It's strange, this space they're in. Like a sweater that doesn't fit quite right. Lena smiles and nods to acknowledge her like they're almost strangers. Kara sits on the corner of the chair across from Lena's desk politely, on her best behaviour. But they're also not any of that. Because Kara knows all of Lena's little tells: the set of her jaw, the way her shoulders start to lift when she's tense, the loose set of her hair that tells Kara she's worked her way into a tension headache. Lena knows all of Kara's tells, she's sure: the nervous tap of her palm against her thigh, the way she can't stop holding the bag with Lena's sandwich in it a little awkwardly, like it might be radioactive.
Kara hates it. It's better than no Lena at all, but this in-between space, where they're not-quite-friends, it prickles and itches at the limits of Kara's patience.
This probably would have been more efficient over the phone.
"I brought you, um." Kara holds up the sandwich bag, waves it back and forth before she sets it down on the little side table across from the sofa. "I know you're hungry sometimes, when you work late."
"Thank you," Lena says.
Kara moves to sit in the office chair across from Lena's desk, when Lena shakes her head. She freezes, squatting awkwardly midway. It takes her a moment to acknowledge that Lena probably doesn't want her to spend the interview like that, recover, and stand up. "I think it might be good for me to take a break from sitting behind my desk," Lena says. "If you don't mind?"
Hope flares in Kara's chest. Of course she doesn't mind. Of course she'd love to sit on the couch in Lena's office with her, to feel like they're something closer to friends again. "Yeah," she says. "That, um. Sounds good."
Lena's wearing a pencil skirt and a silk blouse and Kara still hasn't figured out how Lena manages to look like she's comfortable in clothing that fitted, but she does. She looks effortless, as she perches with her ankles crossed on the edge of the sofa, rolls her shoulders backward as though she's ordering them to relax.
Kara sits across from her. She's wearing trousers and a button-down shirt and she's trying to match Lena's posture, to sit like she's a controlled, professional reporter. But she doesn't want to. She wants to tuck her ankle underneath her thigh, wants to curl onto the couch and then pull Lena into cuddling with her. She wants to feel the weight of Lena's head on her shoulder, wants to breathe in the smell of Lena's shampoo, rich and overwhelming. She wants them to just be better again, that's all.
Kara takes a deep breath, and opens her notebook. "So, I'm sure your assistant let you know, I wanted to follow-up on the latest conversation people are having over the L Watch launch."
Lena meets Kara's eyes. She takes a breath, her face schooled into her usual calm professionalism, but as soon as she starts to speak, she falters. "I, um." Lena frowns, and suddenly she looks so sad.
Kara's first instinct is to backpedal. "Should I not - was the sandwich bad? I should go, I can just go, I'm sorry I didn't mean to -"
Lena inhales. It's shaky, and Kara doesn't miss the way it hitches in her throat. There are tears in her eyes, glimmering and threatening to fall. "Just stop - stop it."
"Oh. Alright, I can -" she closes her notebook, starts to get up. Lena's hand is around her forearm lightning-quick, urging her still.
"No, just. Stop leaving. Stop holding back, stop giving me space. Just stop."
Kara feels dread in the pit of her stomach, icy-cold enough to give her goosebumps all over. "What am I supposed to do?"
Lena rolls her eyes. It spills the tears pooling against her eyelashes and she swipes them away with her free hand, sighing. "I miss you, alright? I'm still angry but I miss you so much I don't care I just - I need my Kara."
That dread in Kara's belly bubbles into something hopeful, rises to the top of her throat and comes out in a big, loud, undignified sob. Kara's hands fly to her cheeks. She's already crying. "You do?" she whispers.
"Of course I do, you big idiot," Lena whispers. She's got both hands around Kara's forearm now, and there are tears dripping off the edge of her jaw and landing on her shirt, leaving perfect dark water marks. "You're my best friend."
Kara sobs again. "You're my best friend," she says. She can hardly speak from crying, and Lena's the one who ends up pulling Kara close. She wraps her arm around Kara's shoulders, then the back of her neck, pulling her close until Kara's resting her forehead against soft, expensive green silk and watching her tears drip into the fabric.
Lena's forehead fits so perfectly into the curve of Kara's shoulder. Kara's missed it there so much. Lena's shoulders shake and she lets out one perfect, shuddering sob and nuzzles herself against Kara's shirt.
Kara doesn't think she's ever felt happier.
She wraps her arms around Lena's back and it's such a relief. To be here, to know that Lena needs her, and that their friendship is worth fighting for. It's a relief to have the smell of Lena's hair all around her, to feel Lena's tears warm-wet as they soak through her shirt, to feel the warmth of Lena's body heat against her palms.
"Oh," Lena whispers after a while. Her voice is watery and a little congested; neither of them are crying delicately. "Oh, your shirt."
She pulls back, and Kara looks. There's a wet spot on her shirt, and two mascara stains running down it. Below it there's a smear of lipstick, the deep plum a perfect compliment to the blue of Kara's shirt. "Oh," Kara whispers. "It's fine. I have more shirts."
Lena's the first one to laugh.
It starts as a chuckle, but bubbles up into something longer and altogether joyful. She keeps laughing, and before long Kara joins in. It's the first time they've laughed together in months. "Let me get it cleaned," Lena says. "It's my fault."
Kara shakes her head. "But if I hadn't been a jerk, you wouldn't have cried in the first place. This is my fault, my drycleaning bill."
Lena shakes her head. "If you insist."
"I do," Kara says. There's a lightness to her, now. She feels better, in a way that she hasn't since they first fought. It's the first time she really believes what everyone's been telling her: that they'll get through to the other side of this.
"I'm still angry," Lena cautions. "I still want to talk about it."
"Maybe over dinner?" Kara asks, not trying to hide the hope in her voice.
Lena's smile is familiar; the indulgent one she saves for Kara. "Maybe," she says. "I'll have Andrea check my calendar."
"Your calendar," Kara echoes. "I'd like that."
Chapter 2: starry eyes sparking up my darkest night
Title from Taylor Swift's "Call It What You Want."
She turns in her article. It's a few hours late, and maybe a little lighter on detail than her best work would be, but it's worth it. Lena wants to talk to her. Lena wants to have dinner with her and work on things.
(Her article isn't her best work because she left Lena's office practically vibrating, so happy she could hardly walk without skipping. Her writing needs a little bit of tightening up but that's to be expected; her writing was about Lena and just thinking about Lena at all makes Kara feel like flying.)
She goes to sleep late; she's too excited to go to bed. The next morning she's tired; there weren't enough hours left in the night for her to get a proper night's sleep. But she also wakes up happy for the first time since she and Lena first fought.
When she gets to her desk there's already a message from Lena in her phone, a long one: I talked to Andrea; it looks like my Thursday evening is free for dinner at 7. Thoughts?
Kara has so many thoughts. Her brain feels like it's full of them; her heart and head buzzing as they try to decide on what she's feeling. It doesn't feel possible for her to have this many emotions all at once, but here they all are. Only positive ones, she types back. Dinner Thursday sounds great.
She closes the messaging app on her phone, and gives herself a minute. Or tries to; she's shaken from her daydream by the toe of Nia's shoe nudging her ankle. She looks up and Nia's staring at her, making a face. "What?" Kara asks.
"I said your name like four times," Nia says. "You alright?"
"Yeah, I - " Kara starts, then stops. She doesn't really want to talk about this, here. It feels precious, this tentative peace between them, and a part of her is worried that if she talks about it too openly, it'll disappear.
She picks up her phone, and writes to Nia: Lena and I had a talk last night
Nia looks at her phone, then back up at Kara. She's scrutinizing her now, reading Kara's expression in that almost-too-intuitive way. ~~a talk?? she writes back.
The tildes aren't really ambiguous, but Nia sends a follow-up text with emojis to clarify nonetheless: three of two women holding hands and another of two women with a heart in between them.
Kara rolls her eyes, sends a matching emoji back to Nia. "Don't be weird," she says out loud.
Just saying, Nia writes back. If you did, I'd be supportive.
Kara leans around her monitor to make eye contact and stick her tongue out at Nia. Not everyone has to be in a relationship just because you have a boyfriend, she writes.
I'm offended Nia writes, with a little angel-and-halo smiley face as punctuation.
You're not. Kara replies. She's been teasing Nia about it for weeks. Ever since she and Brainy got together properly, Nia's been shipping basically everyone she knows, and it's - honestly, it's charming. Kara can see how happy Nia is to have someone in her life who makes her feel loved, and of course Nia is the kind of big-hearted person who wants everyone she cares about to have the same.
I'm not, Nia agrees. But I do want you two to work it out.
I think we really will, Kara writes. Something was different last night; in a good way.
Okay, teasing you for that super unnecessary text message semicolon Grandma Kara and also Nia types, then follows up with three peach emojis and a pair of noticing eyes.
You know technically I'm kind of your supervisor.
I'm happy for you, seriously.
Kara wiggles in her chair, and Nia giggles across the desk at her. Me too, Kara writes back. She feels it, too. Happy-warm-excited and it takes her a moment to name precisely what she's feeling.
Hope. That's what this is.
Kara puts her dinner with Lena into her phone with three heart emojis and a donut emoji beside it. She enters it into her paper planner as well, and circles it twice. It's important.
This time, Andrea's expecting her. She greets Kara with a soft smile, her voice warm when she speaks, "Miss Danvers. Lena will be right with you."
She doesn't know how she's supposed to feel. She's just so - buzzy, that's the best way to describe it. She's nervous and excited and relieved and worried and all of those emotions are active ones, the kind that get under her skin and make her stomach wobble and her fingertips tingle. They all sort of distill into one feeling, this sense of being so full of anticipation that she feels like she could vibrate out of her place on the very edge of the uncomfortable waiting-area sofa. Buzzy.
Lena's office door is closed. Kara wonders what she's doing in there. The most likely answer is the obvious one: finishing up work. But a part of Kara wonders if Lena feels as jittery as she does. If Lena's doing the little things she does when she gets nervous; smoothing her hair and reapplying her lipstick and flaring her nostrils to inhale deeply, exhaling with a perfect emotionless expression.
She imagines Lena feeling flustered. She thinks about Lena feeling buzzy and worried herself, wiping her palms on the front of her skirt before she opens the door. It helps, a little. It's like that thing people say when they talk about bears or sharks or spiders: they're just as afraid of you as you are of them.
Lena actually answers the door for her, this time.
Kara's breath catches when she hears the door start to open. Lena cracks the door open just wide enough for herself. She's wearing one of her pencil skirts, another silk blouse and the heels she always chooses when she wants to look powerful. Kara wonders if they're for her benefit, or if there was someone else in Lena's day that made her need those shoes, like armor. "Kara," she says. Her voice is warm. The way her voice curls around Kara's name feels like it used to; it eases Kara's nerves in an instant.
"Lena," Kara says. She practically bounces out of her seat. She's too eager, her movements a little too big and open from her nerves. Lena smiles at her and it's disarming. Kara feels like whatever she's doing, it's probably perfect.
Lena steps back, away from the open door and into her office. Kara follows.
Dinner's already waiting. Lena must have had Andrea fetch it for them. Kara recognizes the boxes, the distinctive bag and chopstick wrappers from their favourite sushi takeaway.
(Maybe it's not their favourite anymore, Kara's not sure. She doesn't feel like they're a them, right now. But it's Kara's favourite sushi, the one she remembers eating late at night with Lena so many times she's lost track.)
"You remembered," Kara says. "Did you get the -"
"Dragon roll?" Lena says. She sits down in one perfect, graceful gesture, her knees tucking to the side as she picks up her chopsticks with one hand. She flicks her wrist, indicates a closed tray with Kara's favourite roll inside. "Of course."
"Yes," Kara says, forgetting herself for a moment. She didn't think she was that hungry, but now that the sushi is in front of her and she's really thinking about the soy sauce-wasabi-soft rice feeling on her tongue, she's ravenous.
She sits in the armchair next to Lena's office couch, the one that's angled backwards just a little too much to really be comfortable. It's not her favourite, but she's not sure if they're at the sharing-a-sofa stage of friendship. Not yet, anyway. Kara doesn't feel like she's anywhere near as graceful as Lena, but she does her best to perch on the edge of her seat and open a pair of chopsticks. She makes it through three pieces of tempura sweet potato and avocado roll before she remembers herself and her manners.
"So," Kara says. She makes a point of setting aside her chopsticks and slowing herself down. "How are, um. How was your day?"
Lena shrugs. "Oh," she says. "You know. The usual."
Kara sort of doesn't know. She feels like she's actually missed out on a whole lot of Lena's life, these past few months, and she wants to know it all. She wants to know what Lena's new usual is, and what's happened and where she's travelled and what does she think of the new season of Queer Eye and a hundred more things after that. "Right," she says. "Good."
They're silent for a while; long enough for Kara to get fidgety and hungry and eat three pieces of pickled ginger and the first beautiful slice of dragon roll. Once Kara's mouth is full, Lena asks, "What about you?"
Kara bites down, tries to finish chewing as quickly as possible to speak. It occurs to her that she doesn't actually know how to answer. She has too much to say, that's the problem. It's a hundred little details: small victories at work, little conflicts that would have been interesting at the time but now are long-resolved. Months and months of trying new foods and the period where Alex started dating Kelly and needed to call Kara every single night to have a sister-to-sister freakout about it, Nia taking Kara to pride, James winning at game night. All of it. Kara doesn't know where to begin.
So she shrugs, says, "The same, I guess."
Lena goes quiet. This is so hard. Kara doesn't know how to act around her, anymore. She knows how to be Lena's best friend and she's learned how to tiptoe around this fragile, broken thing while Lena wasn't speaking to her, but she doesn't know how to be in between. A flicker of something moves across Lena's face. She's too good, hides it too quickly for Kara to fully process it but she gets the sense that Lena's struggling with this, too.
They're out of practice. Maybe that's all this is. She clears her throat and forces herself to start with something, anything. "Um, Alex has a girlfriend again. So that's been interesting."
It helps. Lena's shoulders soften. She smiles as she reaches for another roll, dipping the edge in soy sauce. "I'll bet," she says. "Good for her, though."
"It is. It is!" Kara says.
"But," Lena says, prompting, as she takes her next bite.
It's so close. It's close enough to how they used to be that Kara feels the words bubbling in her chest and when she speaks they spill out of her, just like they used to. "But I know so much about Kelly and my sister and - kissing! So, so much kissing. And like - it's good! I want Alex to be kissing people, it's good for her and I'm so happy I just - can't un-hear it, you know?"
Lena laughs. It's a real one, warm and long and Kara can't tell if Lena's laughing at her or at Alex or at all of it, but it kind of doesn't matter. It just feels so good to have Lena be happy around her. "Good for her," Lena says. Her smile is a little wicked, like she's kind of alright with Kara suffering through the dozens of detailed calls about her sister's kissing-and-probably-also-sex-except-Kara's-still-pretending-her-sister-doesn't-do-that life.
"I saw you saved that tourist cruise in the harbor last week," Lena says. "That must have been exciting."
She says it casually, but it lands like a bucket of ice water on the conversation. Kara freezes. Her first instinct, still, is to lie. It's automatic around Lena, the reflex to find a normal way to explain everything away because Kara Danvers couldn't possibly be Supergirl. She couldn't possibly forget the fact that Lena knows, but it's hard to figure out what that actually looks like with Lena in front of her. It takes her a moment to remember that she's allowed to be honest. "I keep forgetting," Kara says. "I know that you know, it's just - automatic."
Lena shakes her head. "I didn't mean to, um. I was just trying to think of something to say."
"No, it's - it's fine." Kara says. "We should probably talk about it, anyway."
"The thrilling boat rescue, or -" Lena gestures between them with her chopsticks. "This?"
Kara takes a breath. The thing that comes to her is that speech, the one she practiced. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for keeping my secret from you for as long as I did. I didn't know you well when we first met, and when I first decided to keep Supergirl from you, it was about your safety and protecting myself. And I realize that after a while it wasn't. I had chances to tell you, but I didn't want you to be upset and I didn't want to lose you as a friend and that was me being selfish. You had the right to know and you're more than trustworthy and I shouldn't have kept it from you as long as I did."
Kara finishes and feels like she can't breathe. She knows Lena knows this. She's texted it to her a half-dozen times, at least.
Lena inhales, and Kara works up the nerve to look at her. She looks so - open. Her eyes are wide and she's already tearing up a little. "I know," Lena says. "I know you were doing your best, and I understand why you didn't tell me at first."
"I knew I was hurting you, by the end," Kara says. "But then everything was so hard for you with Sam and then Lex and I knew I'd hurt you more once I came clean, and I just - it felt mean to give you this on top of all of that. But I know it wasn't my decision to make."
"No it wasn't," Lena says. "But I think I'm also just - I'm angry with myself. For not noticing sooner. Here I'm supposed to be a genius, and I couldn't even pick up on this when it was right in front of my face."
Lena's lower lip quivers, and Kara catches the way she inhales and stills it, forcing herself as calm as she can manage. "Hey," Kara says. "It's not like that."
"I know," Lena says. "And I know I kept secrets from you - from Kara and from Supergirl - so it's not like I have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to honesty."
Kara sets down her chopsticks and moves to the couch, next to Lena. She doesn't know if that's right. She's worried that it's not, but when she moves to put her arm around Lena's shoulders, Lena shifts her weight back against Kara, cuddling down into the embrace. "Maybe we just agree that we do our best to stop all the secrets," she says.
Lena sighs with what sounds like relief. "I'd like that," she says. "I'd like that a lot."
Kara pulls Lena even closer, hugs with both hands and presses her nose to the top of Lena's head. It feels like ages since Kara's been here, and she's relieved that Lena still feels the same in her arms. Kara doesn't want to be apart from Lena for this long ever again. "Me too," Kara whispered. "I missed you so much."
Kara's phone buzzes in her back pocket. She ignores it the first time, but she can't ignore the second, third, and fourth buzzes as messages come through. Only one person texts her like that.
"Lena, can I -" she asks, shifting away as much as she dares.
"Of course," Lena says. She swipes at her cheeks as she sits up, blurring tear trails.
Kara checks her phone. It's four messages from Alex, the first talking about an emergency that Supergirl needs to be present for and the next three just Alex texting Kara's name, over and over again. Of course. Of course this would be now, right when she feels like she's finally getting somewhere with Lena. She catches herself again; she's already running through her mental list of excuses to leave. "Oh," she says.
"What is it?" Lena asks.
"There's a building on fire on 4th and Broadway. Alex thinks maybe there was an attack."
"Oh, that's awful," Lena says, a little absently. She says it the way people they do when they hear bad news and can't do much about it. Kara feels anxiety bubble in the pit of her stomach.
"No, Lena, I have to - Supergirl has to go."
"Oh. Oh, right." Lena kind of frowns, catches herself and Kara can see the ache in her, can only imagine her running mentally through all the times that this has happened and Kara hasn't told her.
(Or maybe not. Maybe Kara's - what's that word Kelly uses - projecting.)
"Is that - is it okay?"
"Of course," Lena says. She falters for a moment. Kara waits. When Lena speaks again, her voice is soft as she asks, "Will you come back? After you're - Supergirl - is done?"
"Yes," Kara says. She's already unbuttoning her shirt, kicking her shoes off to go quick-change into her suit. "Yes, I promise. Will you be here?"
"I'll text you if I go home," Lena says. "Good luck."
Kara leaves herself time to say, "Thanks."
Then she's off, a blur leaving through Lena's balcony window.
The fire is, true to Alex's word, a job for Supergirl.
The fire department is there, but the size and scale of the blaze is a surprise even to Kara; she can see it from across the city. She breathes it out easily; scans the surrounding buildings and vehicles for bystanders and structural damage.
It's after, that's the problem.
It's not really. Or, it shouldn't be. Supergirl should be patient and obliging. She should be happy to speak to the fire department captain present, to thank him and his men for their hard work. She should be fine to talk to Alex, who has a theory about human terrorists planning attacks with alien tech. That's important.
But her heart is still in Lena's office, thinking about the way it feels to press her mouth to Lena's hair and kiss it. She's still thinking about the way Lena looked at her when she whispered good luck, the way it made Kara feel like she could do anything.
"Supergirl," Alex says, for probably the third time. She snaps her fingers in front of Kara's face, dragging her back to the present. "Focus."
"Sorry," Kara says, also for the third time. "Sorry, you're right. Terrorists, bad."
Alex gives her a face.
"Are they not bad?" Kara asks.
Alex's eyes narrow. Kara's not doing a very good job of covering, and she knows it. Alex doesn't know what's up with her but she knows that it's something; Kara will probably get a call later tonight. "You," Alex says. "Go do whatever it is you'd rather be doing. We'll go over this at the DEO tomorrow."
Kara giggles and kisses Alex on the cheek. "Yes, I love you thank you bye!"
Kara checks her phone while she's still in midair. She fishes it out of the pocket under the shoulder of her suit, flicks through the alerts on her home screen. No messages from Lena.
She lands on Lena's office balcony, still dressed as Supergirl. Half of her work clothes are sitting on Lena's couch - Lena's folded them since she left, and something about the sight of it makes Kara's heart do a little flip - and the other half are in her apartment. Lena's at her desk. Her shoes are off, her hair pulled back a bit more loosely as she works through a very complex-looking spreadsheet open on her laptop. Kara knocks on the window.
Lena turns away from her work at the sound. Her expression begins as surprise but melts into recognition and warmth in a way that Kara's only ever dreamt about: Lena, looking at Supergirl, and seeing her.
Kara tries the balcony door. It's locked, and they both smile as Lena turns the bolt and steps outside to join her. "Hey," Kara whispers.
Lena's eyes soften. Her hand comes up, and she takes a lock of Kara's - Supergirl's - hair between her fingers, twirls it absently. "Kara," she says, experimentally.
"Yeah," Kara whispers. "It's me."
Lena's eyes move across Kara's face, then the rest of her. She's noticing things Kara hadn't even noticed herself until now: the soot marks on her knuckles and probably then on her face, the way she smells like a particular kind of sour, industrial smoke. She tucks that lock of Kara's hair behind her ear and then lets her hand travel down, taking Kara's. She brushes her thumb across Kara's knuckles, smearing the soot across her skin and over the part of the sleeve that loops around her thumb. "I can't believe I didn't see it before," she whispers.
It twists in Kara's chest, the fact that Lena's still hurting. She doesn't want that. Doesn't want Lena to ever feel hurt, ever. But Lena's also looking at her with such caring, such intensity that she can't bear to speak. It's almost too much just to be seen by Lena, but she doesn't dare look away. "I saw you," Lena says after a long moment of searching. "On the news. You did so well."
"Thanks," Kara says.
"I'm proud of you," Lena whispers.
Kara didn't think it mattered, hearing those words. But when Lena whispers them into the space between them, the impact of it hits Kara with an almost physical force. She needed it more than she realized.
She can feel the tears start to well up, and before she can think to do anything else she pulls Lena into a hug. Lena's just a little shorter with her shoes off; the right height for Kara to bury her nose in the crook of Lena's throat and just breathe.
"I'm sorry," Kara whispers. It feels like the hundredth time, but she'll apologize a hundred more if Lena needs her to.
Lena holds Kara close. She wraps one arm around Kara's shoulders, and slides the other into the space between her cape and her back to curl around her waist. Kara moves with the pressure of Lena's arms, lets herself be pulled even nearer until their bodies feel like they interlock, legs tangled. "I'm sorry," Lena whispers against Kara's shoulder.
"Can we be best friends again?" Kara asks. As soon as she spoken she feels a wave of embarrassment. It sounds awful when she says it like that, too vulnerable and too honest to be appropriate.
Lena's breath hitches, and her shoulders jerk upwards, shudder down in Kara's arms. "God, yes," Lena whispers. "I'd like that."
"Good," Kara says. "I'd like that, too."
They hold onto the hug for a long while after that. It feels, somehow, like the perfect amount. Kara never feels like hugs last quite long enough for her, but this slow lingering with Lena on her balcony, breathing in the scent of her, is just right.
Lena is the one to break away first, straightening and then taking a half-step backwards. She's still very much in Kara's space. If Kara wanted to, Lena's still near enough that she could wrap them both up in her cape to hide from the rest of the world. "Anyway," Lena says. She makes a point of clearing her throat, swipes tear trails away by dragging her index fingers from the bridge of her nose across the high swoop of her cheeks. "I'm sure I should be getting home."
"Right," Kara says. Unprompted, a daydream pops into the front of her thoughts: Kara flying Lena home, Lena's arms wrapped around her neck. "Of course, it's late."
"And I'm sure you have places to be as well."
Kara thinks about her apartment. She thinks about changing into her softest pyjamas and curling into bed, and fatigue hits her with a wave. She didn't think she was tired until just now. "Maybe," she says. "I, um. I need my clothes, though."
Lena makes a face, as if she's suddenly remembered. "Right! Right, your, um. Your shirt."
She walks out of Kara's space. It's alright. Of course it's alright, for Lena to go into her office to fetch Kara's shoes and shirt. But for some reason, Kara feels disappointed at the lack of her. It's like there's a little bit less air around her, now that Lena's gone.
Lena comes back with Kara's clothes, her shirt neatly folded and tucked on top of her shoes. It's a little thing, but the gesture is thoughtful in a way that Kara's going to think about for days. "Here you go," Lena says.
That's it. That should be it. They're done and they're friends again and Lena has to go home and so does Kara. But something in Kara makes her want to linger. She doesn't know why, but they both stand for a minute with Kara's clothes in her hands and Lena's hands on top of that, just waiting. It feels like an important moment. "Thanks," Kara whispers. "For being my friend again."
"Likewise," Lena whispers. She runs her thumb in a half-circle, dragging it across the fabric of Kara's shirt. The sight of that gesture wakes sense memory in her, and she remembers Lena's hand doing the same movement resting on her back. She smiles, the memory so vivid she can almost feel it.
Lena steps back.
Kara has no other reason to stay. She takes a breath, bends her knees, and flies.
There's something about that night that makes things better. Kara hasn't quite put her finger on precisely what, but sometime in between her apology and coming back as Supergirl, there was a palpable shift in Lena.
She wakes up the next morning, and there's a good morning text waiting in her phone from Lena. It feels like - normal isn't quite the right word, not after it's been this long. But it feels like things used to be, before.
Good morning, super friend. Hope you slept well.
Kara reads the text in bed, still blinking sleep from her eyes. The words give her a little thrill of delight. She's Lena's super friend and it's got a double meaning on purpose and the words are kind and Lena texted her first. She messages back as soon as she's alert enough to type clearly: The best!!! Thanks for last night. It was really nice to have dinner with you.
She waits for a full five minutes, hoping for a reply or a little symbol to indicate that Lena's typing. When it doesn't come, she tucks her phone under her pillow and gets up to shower.
Kara checks her phone for messages from Lena every ten minutes: after she finishes her shower, while she has breakfast, when she leaves for work. Lena hasn't texted her back yet, but that's fine. She's usually busy first thing in the morning, anyway.
She checks again when she stops for coffee. There's nothing in her messages yet. She focuses on placing the most complicated coffee order she can manage to keep her mind off of it.
When she gets to the Catco lobby, she hears her phone buzz in her purse and the surge of excitement is so powerful that she nearly flings her coffee across the room. There's a message from Lena, a longer one. She pauses in the hallway, leans against the wall and rearranges her coffee into the crook of her elbow so that she can read it. It was really nice for me, too. I think I let being angry get in the way of remembering how much I missed you. I feel like now we need to make up for lost time, is that silly?
Kara rearranges her bag and coffee again, balancing her drink precariously against her forearm so that she can have both hands free to text. Not at all! Guess we'll just need to have dinner every night ;)
Lena replies right away. I'll tell Andrea to clear my schedule.
It's a joke. It's clearly a joke. But just the thought of it is enough to make Kara feel warm from the inside out. When she puts her phone away and walks into the elevator, she's smiling.
Lena's comment about her schedule was a joke, but maybe it's also not, because later that day Kara's working on a pitch for her next article when her phone buzzes again. It's a message from Lena: Okay, so have you been to Giulia's yet?
Kara's up on most of the new restaurants in National City. Even without Lena to have dinner with, Nia is an incredible lunch companion and she's good friends with the junior staff who run the food column, so she usually brings Kara tips on the up-and-coming places. But Kara hasn't heard of this one, yet.
Lena's reply comes after a few minutes. Kara pictures her sitting in her office at L Corp, at her desk. She thinks of them like mirrors: Kara at her desktop with her phone on the table beside her, Lena at her desk with her tablet in hand and her phone resting on the desk. It's a new place. New Italian casual, very hipster, Neapolitan pizza and cocktails. I've heard it's actually good.
Kara grins down at her phone. you had me at Neapolitan pizza.
After work tonight? 6:00?
Make it seven, Kara replies. You never leave work before 6:30.
Guilty ;) Seven it is.
Kara leans back in her chair. This morning she was barely sure that she and Lena were back to being friends, and now they're going on a friend date. Tonight. That warm feeling in her chest comes back, blooms even warmer.
Kara makes a point of leaving work exactly at five. It's a Friday, and she usually doesn't mind staying late, but tonight it feels important. She needs that extra time to get ready.
She's looked up Giulia's on social media already. She knows Lena will wear something absurdly fancy - a sheath dress with rhinestones on the collar, Kara can picture it now - because that's just how she is, but Kara needs to time to figure out how hipster-casual is going to translate to her closet.
She showers again when she gets home. She's pretty sure she's fine. She's probably fine. But she showers anyway, because she can't stop thinking about how important it feels that everything tonight goes well. She doesn't want to smell weird for their first friend date in months.
Kara cycles through four outfits - seven if swapping out combinations of accessories counts - before she settles on something that's probably appropriate. She starts with one of her dresses, the yellow one that always feels bright and sunny, but rules it out pretty quickly when she checks Giulia's website again. It's all twinkle lights and wood and exposed brick and she feels like sunshine yellow and a full skirt is out of place.
Jeans feel too informal; a pencil skirt feels too much like a business meeting. Eventually, Kara settles on a pair of black trousers, her favourite flat loafers, and a black and white checked button-down shirt. She turns a couple of times in the mirror, experiments with her shirt until she settles on the collar spread open, the top button undone, shirt untucked. Dressed up but casual.
She tries a couple of hairstyles as well before settling on a soft bun, her hair pulled into something loose and imprecise at her nape. Kara checks her watch: 6:55. Perfect.
She's fixing her shirt one last time when she hears footfalls in the hallway; tuning into the sound a little more closely tells her that they're probably Lena's. She listens as the steps reach the front of her apartment door and pause. Lena hasn't knocked yet. Kara listens a little more closely, catches her inhaling and exhaling, the soft rustle of hands on fabric. Lena whispers, in a voice clearly intended for herself: "Okay. Okay, you've got this."
Kara stops listening. It feels - she doesn't know. Like she's intruding. It makes something warm twist in her though, the idea that Lena might be nervous for this just like Kara. Lena knocks a few moments later.
Kara should be expecting it. She knows Lena's there, after all. But the knock still startles her just a little, sends a flutter of excitement through her because Lena's here. They're going to get pizza as friends.
She greets Lena with a smile, says her name in a voice that sounds more breathless than she thinks it should. Lena looks radiant. She's actually dressed down a little, her outfit matching Kara's more closely than Kara would have expected. She's wearing trousers herself, with a beautiful sparkly necklace and a sweater made out of fuzzy, soft-looking fabric. It's the kind of fabric that Kara always wants to rub against her face.
A thought pops into her head, unprompted: the idea of Kara rubbing her head up against Lena's upper arm, the fabric warm and soft against her mouth. It makes her blush; she tries to cover it up by talking. "You look gorgeous," Kara says.
Lena shrugs. "You were right about the timing," she says. "I barely had time to change after work. This is just what was in the top layer of my dresser."
"Hey," Kara says. She can't help but soften her voice when Lena gets self-deprecating like this. "It looks good, I mean it."
Lena smiles, her gaze flicking away just for a moment. She reaches up to her ear as if to fiddle with her hair before catching herself; she runs her fingertips along the ends cascading down her shoulder before dropping it back down. "Thanks," she finally says, softly.
Kara pats herself down, checks that she has her wallet and phone in her pockets. "Do I need a coat?" she asks.
Lena shrugs. "I was fine in just this, but my sweater is pretty warm."
Kara deliberates for a moment. She settles on her lightest jacket and shrugs it on. She fiddles with the collar until it feels like it's layered properly around her shirt collar. The two garments don't want to play nicely together, but Kara arranges them as best she can without looking. "Oh," Lena says, just as Kara finishes. "Can I -"
Lena gestures to Kara's collar.
Lena reaches under the collar of Kara's coat and does a sort of flicking motion; suddenly everything feels like it fits together the way it's supposed to. She fiddles again, reaching under Kara's shirt collar to smooth it. Her fingertips brush the back of Kara's neck and Kara's skin reacts with a sudden, oversensitive flutter. She shivers. "Oh," Lena says in reply. "Sorry."
Lena releases Kara's shirt. Kara tries not to feel disappointed. "Is it better now?" Kara asks. Instinctively, she reaches up to rub her hand across the patch of skin that Lena touched. It doesn't feel shivery under her own fingertips.
"Much," Lena says. She's looking at Kara a bit strangely, as if she's worried that she did something wrong. But as soon as she catches Kara noticing, she forces her expression into something bright. "Shall we, Miss Danvers?"
Kara nods. "We shall, Miss Luthor."
The restaurant turns out to be pretty close to Kara's apartment. The map app on Lena's phone tells her it's fifteen minutes away, so they walk.
They get to Giulia's in time for their reservation (of course Lena made one), in exactly fifteen minutes. Kara sort of doesn't remember what they talked about on the trip over. She mostly remembers that Lena talked with her hands, that it felt easy and familiar, just like it used to. She remembers the way Lena's sweater looked, the fuzzy halo of it when the light caught her arms just the right way. That's probably all she needs to remember, anyway.
Lena smiles and greets the hostess on their behalf, has her wait as Kara takes off her coat and hangs it on the stand at the front.
Their table is the coziest one; tucked into a corner by the window. There are little white lights strung across the top of the window and they give the space a soft, cozy glow. "Wow, it's gorgeous," Kara whispers.
Lena smiles. It looks genuine, her eyes softening and crinkling as she sits down. "The lights made me think of you," she says. "I know they're your favourite."
They are. Kara's always been easy for them; the way they look like stars at night and the way they give spaces a soft look that makes her want to curl up in them. They make places feel like home. "I didn't think you'd remember," Kara says.
Lena rolls her eyes. "Of course I did. I was angry with you, but that doesn't mean you weren't still my best friend."
The casual admission of it hits Kara like a weight, right in her chest. It's fading, the memory of how bad things were for them, but still painful. Hearing it from Lena in the past tense, though, it softens the blow. Lena was angry, as in, she isn't anymore. Hearing that Lena still thought of her - thinks of her - as a best friend, that softens the sting of it even more. "Oh," Kara says. "Thank you."
Lena ducks her head, turning to focus on her menu. But there's this way she smiles at Kara's words, soft and almost secret. As if she's touched by Kara's reaction, but doesn't want to make a big deal about it.
Kara's missed that smile.
She opens her menu, mirroring Lena, and is immediately distracted by pizza.
They order dinner - fresh mozzarella and house-made tomato sauce for Lena, fennel sausage and caramelized onions for Kara - and true to Lena's word, it tastes incredible. Lena smiles at Kara around her first bite (after she's finished closing her eyes and groaning in pleasure) and says, "This was worth the wait."
Kara blushes into her own slice. Lena's right. The pizza, the company, the way everything about tonight has a sort of warm glow because it's finally happening and they're not fighting anymore. It was worth working for, and waiting for and then some.
They talk as they eat. Kara talks about the new article series she's thinking of pitching to James. Lena tells her - off the record, of course - about the new project she's developing through L Corp. They talk about which dumb summer action movies they want to make time to see. It feels so good. Kara didn't realize how much she missed the little details of them.
She missed hearing about Lena's life, sure, but it's more than just that. It's also seeing the way her eyes crinkle and her cheeks turn pink when Kara makes her laugh in just the right way. It's Lena reaching out and running her fingertips across the back of Kara's hand, cutting her off as she gets stuck in self-deprecation. Lena ducking down to catch Kara's eye to tell her that she's brilliant, and the warm thrill of butterflies in Kara's stomach at Lena seeing her like that.
It doesn't make up for the time they lost together, but it helps. It makes the edges of that loss feel a bit less sharp.
They finish dinner, finish arguing over who gets to pay (Lena offers twice, Kara insists) and start the walk back to Kara's apartment. The evening is cooler now; Kara's glad for her jacket. Lena's wrapping her arms around her waist like the sweater alone isn't quite enough. "Are you warm enough?" she asks.
Lena smiles. "Of course."
Just as she speaks, they walk past a gap between skyscrapers and a gust of wind flurries around them both. Lena hisses and visibly shivers. Kara can't help but chuckle. "Are you sure?"
Lena deliberates for half a block, waiting until they pause to wait at an intersection before she admits, "Maybe I'm a little cold. A little."
Kara lifts her arm, miming the gesture of putting her arm around Lena's shoulders without actually doing it. "Could I -" she starts, letting her voice trail off with the upward lilt of a question. She wants to make sure she checks in about everything when it comes to Lena, these days. She doesn't want to take a single thing for granted.
"Maybe," Lena says. "Yes."
Kara wraps her arm around Lena's shoulders and pulls her close. Lena cuddles in as they wait for the light to change, shivering delicately. Her sweater is just as soft as Kara thought it would be. She runs her fingertips along the fabric, rubbing back and forth across Lena's shoulder. "You're so soft," she says.
"Thank you," Lena says. After a few more moments, she reaches up to put her hand over Kara's hand, stilling it. "Like that is good."
"Okay," Kara whispers. She can do that. She can keep still if that's what Lena prefers.
Across the street, the light changes and the walk symbol illuminates. Lena takes a step forward, but she keeps holding Kara's arm there, draped across her. Kara does her best, trying to match her steps to Lena's, but they can't quite manage walking and cuddling at the same time. Lena laughs, releasing Kara's arm. "I guess that isn't going to work," she says.
"You tried," Kara answers, giggling back. She follows Lena across the crosswalk, feeling warmed from within. Her stomach is full of delicious pizza and her heart is full of friendship and Lena's smiling at her the right way, with those crinkles at the corners of her eyes. It feels like a perfect night.
They walk the fifteen minutes to Kara's apartment but it takes them twenty with the way they keep lingering to cuddle close at every crosswalk. As they reach Kara's building, there's a buzz in Kara's pocket from her phone. She checks it, and sighs.
"What is it?" Lena asks.
"Oh, I just have to meet Alex," Kara says.
"Sister stuff? Or the other thing?" Lena smiles as she says it, like she's proud of herself for the euphemism.
"The other thing," Kara says. "But I have time to walk you home first, if you want?"
It's only a few more blocks to Lena's apartment, and Alex just needs her at the DEO tonight, not right away. Lena rolls her eyes a little, says, "I don't need protection."
Kara grins. "No, but you do need sparkling conversation and amazing company."
Lena sighs. It's the kind Kara didn't realize she missed, the one that's full of exasperated affection. She leans in close, and bumps her hip against Kara's. Kara sways with the movement, allowing herself to be jostled. "But instead, I have to settle for you," Lena says.
It's a well-worn joke between them, but Kara's missed it so much that she laughs like it's brand new. "You're so brave," Kara says.
She puts her arm out to wrap around Lena's shoulders but miscalculates the angle, ends up with her arm around the top of Lena's waist. She feels impossibly soft there, the texture of whatever soft, fuzzy luxury fabric she's wearing just irresistible to Kara's hand. Kara runs her palm across the soft of Lena's back, a gesture that's not quite a hug and not really warming. Lena arches her back into it all the same. "Sorry," she mumbles. It's an apology for the miscalculation, for not checking to be sure it was alright to touch Lena's back like this.
As if in reply, Lena turns as Kara's arm finishes its arc. She moves her arm to catch Kara's, linking their elbows together. "You don't have to walk me home," she says. As she speaks, she presses her fingers against Kara's, gently urging Kara to grip her bicep.
"Well, I'm gonna," Kara says.
Lena smiles, first at Kara's face and then down at the ground. "I'd like that," she says.
"Good." Kara gives Lena's arm a little squeeze.
They walk to Lena's building in relative quiet, arm in arm. Lena huddles in against her at the crosswalks, makes small talk about her lack of coat, and Kara leans close to her whenever the wind starts to gust, but it's mostly just them. The silence feels companionable, for the first time in a long while, and Kara's content to just enjoy it.
Lena lingers as they reach her block.
It's cold out. She should be rushing to get home. But instead she slows her pace, leaning into Kara a little more heavily as they start to approach the glass doors of her lobby. It's kind of nice. Kara's feeling this strange sort of longing, like a pull behind her ribs. She doesn't want Lena to go home, either. It's the silliest feeling. Kara has somewhere to be, and so does Lena, she's sure.
It doesn't make sense. They're friends now; they can hang out whenever they want. It shouldn't matter that the night is ending.
But all of Kara's logic doesn't stop her from slowing her pace to mirror Lena's, until they come to a stop a few feet away from her door. Lena sighs. She's got a strange expression on her face, her brow furrowed like she's worried, cheeks pink from the cold. "You were right," Kara finds herself saying. "About making up for lost time. I feel like I want to keep hanging out forever."
To Kara's surprise, Lena nods. As though she understands. She tugs on Kara's arm, dropping her head down to lean against Kara's shoulder. "I know what you mean," Lena says.
Kara takes a breath. Her heart still feels full, the strength of emotions fluttering behind her ribs and Lena's head on her shoulder is only amplifying it. Love, that's the word. She's so full of love; Lena really is her best friend and she's missed her even more than she realized. "Tonight was perfect," Kara whispers. "Thank you."
Lena lifts her head to make eye contact. There's something in her expression, a searching sort of warmth that makes Kara feel like that was the right thing to say. "It was perfect for me, too," Lena says. Her voice is whispery and tender around the edges as she pulls Kara into a perfect goodbye hug.
Lena's cool to the touch from the night air but she warms as Kara cuddles close to her. It feels so good to hug her, properly. Her sweater is incredibly soft and now that they're hugging front-to-front Kara can nuzzle her way into the shoulder of it, running her mouth across the fuzzy halo of the fabric. It feels so good there. She feels so good in Kara's arms. Kara sort of wants to do this every night, until - she doesn't know. Until she doesn't feel like she misses Lena anymore.
Lena holds her tight, and Kara wonders if maybe Lena wants the same.
Lena breaks the hug after minutes; after they've held each other far longer than the usual length of time for a hug between friends. She's still standing close, sort of wrapped in Kara's arms. Her cheeks are so flushed; she must be freezing. "Anyway," Lena whispers. "I should go."
"Right," Kara says. She feels a little surge of sadness at the idea that their night is ending after all. "Right."
Lena licks her lips. Kara hadn't noticed before, how full they look tonight. It makes her think of the fuzzy halo of Lena's sweater, and the feel of Lena in her arms. Lena quirks one eyebrow at Kara, and it makes something in Kara's lower belly flutter. "Are you going to let me leave?" she asks.
Kara's still holding her, arms wrapped around Lena's back in an embrace. Lena's still close because she can't get away. Kara can't believe herself. "Oh! Oh, I'm so sorry, of course!" Kara corrects.
She takes her hands away from around Lena's waist so quickly that the wind from it ruffles Lena's hair. She shoves them into her back pockets to keep them under control. The motion brings the familiar sensation of tearing fabric inside her trousers: she's ripped through the pocket linings.
Lena makes a face and laughs. "Have a good night, Kara," she says.
"You too," Kara says.
She waits, trying not to fidget, as Lena walks away. She waits until Lena's safely inside her lobby before she turns away. In her pocket, her phone buzzes again. It's Alex.
Right. The DEO.
She has to go to the DEO to meet Alex, and it's fine. She's fine. She's warm and she's full of pizza that she ate with her best friend in a cozy restaurant by candlelight. She's better than she's felt in months.
Chapter 3: everyone thinks that they know us (but they know nothing about)
Title from Taylor Swift's "Dress."
Supergirl is working on a case with the DEO. It's important. She knows it is; serial arson is indisputably important, and definitely worth paying attention to if she wants National City to not be on fire.
But there's this weird thing happening with Kara lately, where it doesn't feel important the way that it's supposed to be.
The things that feel important to Kara right now are, in order: thinking about her dinner with Lena, fantasizing in specific detail about the tacos she's going to get from her favourite food truck on Monday, and thinking about when she gets to hang out with Lena next.
Everything else is there, important but less so. Important in a background sort of way that's muted in comparison with tacos and Lena.
"Supergirl," a voice says in her ear. It's Alex, her tone sharp in a way that suggests Kara didn't notice the first few times she spoke. "What's the view like from up there?"
Kara blinks. She - Supergirl - is supposed to be surveilling the city, and she's been doing the work half-daydreaming, eyes unfocused. She squints, makes a point of really looking at the city below to be sure she hasn't missed anything important. "All good from here," she says, in her most authoritative voice.
"Good," Alex says. They're on the DEO public channel, but even so, she's irritated enough to ask, "What has gotten into you?"
Kara shrugs, despite the fact that Alex can't see her. The stuff with Lena, it feels like it should be - not secret, not really. Private, that's the word. It feels too fragile to talk about, just yet. She doesn't have the right words to explain how good it felt to have Lena's hand on her arm, or to talk about the fact that she's still thinking about the way Lena looked in the warm glow of the fairy lights the night before. "Just thinking ahead," she says, as glibly as she can manage. "The good tacos are going to be downtown on Monday and I've got to have a game plan."
She hears Alex sigh into the microphone, exasperated. "You're ridiculous," she says. "Just keep your mind on the task at hand for another hour? Please?"
An hour. Kara can probably focus for that long, at least.
Kara makes it through her Saturday, falls asleep late and wakes up late Sunday morning. Her sheets are tangled around her legs, pooling around her hips as though she'd thrown them off of herself in her sleep. The sun's been shining through her windows for a few hours now, landing warm and bright in a perfect sunbeam across her back. She feels the energy of it like a hum under her skin. It's a million times better than coffee.
It's Sunday, so that means walking to the corner store in leggings and a sweater to pick up a newspaper and some essential groceries to last for the next few days. By the time she's home, her phone has buzzed with text alerts three times; she hopes at least one is from Lena.
She sets her bags down on the kitchen counter and checks her phone with a smile: 3 new messages from Lena Luthor.
Kara swipes the messaging app open, sets her phone down on the counter to put the milk and eggs in the fridge. She leans onto her elbows, crosses her legs at the ankles as she reads.
Good morning, SuperKara ;)
I saw you on the news last night.
Anyway I hope this isn't weird because I know we've been seeing a lot of each other lately, but what are you doing tonight?
Kara's heart feels like it expands a little. Everything about it is just so - something. Something that sets off butterflies in her tummy and makes the corners of her mouth curl into a smile. Good morning, she writes. She doesn't know how to respond to Lena's little comment about Supergirl, or talk about the way that the nickname SuperKara makes her feel fluttery all the way down to her toes. So she adds in a little heart emoji. Blue, for Supergirl. Not much! And it's not weird at all.
The little icon indicating that Lena's typing pops up almost instantly. Kara watches, waits as the symbol appears and disappears a few times before Lena's message appears: an invitation to see a movie they'd been talking about watching, before their big fight. It just came up on streaming, and since we missed it, I thought maybe
Lena starts to write another message, but Kara's too fast. Yes, absolutely!! Your place or mine?
I'm fine with wherever, Lena says.
You know, I don't actually think I've seen your apartment since just after you moved, Kara replies.
Lena sends back a smiling-face emoji. My place it is, then. Movie and dinner?
Kara holds her phone to her chest and smiles. Today. She's seeing Lena again today.
Kara's only been to Lena's apartment a handful of times, but the lobby feels familiar somehow. It's just got that energy, the white-leather-and-polished-concrete minimalism that Kara associates with Lena Luthor. Her shoes echo on the floor of the lobby as she presses the buzzer, dials in the code to Lena's apartment.
She brought flowers. She'd bought them for herself at the store this morning, but Lena texted before she'd had a chance to unwrap them and it had felt right to save them as a gift, somehow. Kara would have felt rude arriving empty-handed. She waits, listening to the purr of the dial tone as it rings once, twice, and then a familiar voice answers. "Hello?"
Kara leans down to the microphone, puts her face as close as she dares. "It's me!" she says, trying to keep her voice clear.
Lena's reply is broken up, garbled by the tinny speaker and the sound of the dial tone as she buzzes Kara through the door.
That's alright. She'll see Lena soon.
She walks through the lobby to the elevator, hits the button to Lena's floor. Once again she's here, waiting in an elevator, thinking about the fact that she's going to see Lena. But today feels completely different than it did just four days before. She's not nervous at all, for one thing. She's just excited, her body humming with happy little shivers because she's going to see Lena. The paper around the bouquet crinkles under her fingertips as she fidgets with it, trying to channel her enthusiasm as she wills the elevator to move faster.
She should have just flown.
She might the next time; this elevator takes forever and she's pretty sure Lena's apartment has a balcony with a window and if she'd flown she wouldn't have had to do all these extra steps, delaying time with her best friend.
The elevator door opens at Lena's floor, a soft tone chiming happily from the speaker above her. Kara lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
She knocks on Lena's apartment door. Lena answers almost immediately, and the sight of her is - Kara needs a minute to process it.
Time feels like it slows down for just a moment, compressing to let Kara experience the softness of Lena in front of her. She's just so relaxed. Her hair is pulled back in a loose ponytail, soft wisps of hair falling loose at her temples, half-tucked behind her ears. She's dressed in that way that Kara used to tease her about: weekend Lena. It always used to get her, before, the way that even dressed-down and softly casual, Lena always managed to look put together.
Today is no different. She's wearing jeans - perfectly fitted, fresh from her drawer, not a tear or wear line in sight - and a loose t-shirt, the kind that drapes and shifts as it falls from her breasts to her hips. She looks so comfortable. Kara's so happy that she's finally allowed to see Lena comfortable, again.
It's a lot to take in, and then Lena smiles at her and that's even more. Kara feels that hum of excitement under her skin start to amplify. "Kara," she says. "I'm so glad you made it."
Lena's looking right at her, happy and soft and for a moment, Kara's mouth stops working. "Yeah, well, I, um." She lifts the bouquet in her arms, presses it towards Lena. "These are for you."
Lena accepts the flowers with one hand and gives Kara a one-armed hug with the other. "You shouldn't have," she says. Her voice is low, this soft pitch that hits something deep inside Kara and makes her momentarily breathless.
Lena breaks the hug after an appropriate amount of time, walking further into the empty open-concept space of the apartment. She busies herself finding a vase, opening cupboards and giving Kara relative privacy to toe off her shoes and shrug out of her coat. It feels a little easier to breathe when Lena's not looking right at her; Kara appreciates the moment.
Her mouth starts working again, enough that she can say, "It didn't feel right to come empty-handed, and you said I couldn't bring food."
Lena smiles. "You're sneaky, Kara Danvers."
Kara rolls her eyes. "You love it," she says.
Lena smiles again, the wide kind that reaches her eyes, and it feels good. It feels normal. Like they're back to that whatever they had before. "So," she says. "I thought you might have come hungry, so I made an executive decision and called for Chinese."
Kara's heart leaps. She can't contain herself, she bounces a little on her toes and claps as she makes her way over to the kitchen island. "Tell me you ordered from -"
"Dragon Palace, of course."
Kara squeals in delight before she can really catch herself. She grips the edge of the counter, then realizes that might be too much force for the granite, wraps her arms around her middle instead. "You remembered," she says, a little calmer with her hands wrapped around herself.
Lena smiles. There's a softness to it, as she ducks her head and Kara is struck by the way her smile changes her face. The depth of it, when she's smiling fully, and the way it raises her cheekbones and pulls muscles taut at the corners of her mouth. Kara missed seeing that smile, and the full force of one this close up makes Kara's heart flutter. Skip a beat, her brain supplies. That's what it feels like.
Lena lifts her gaze, her head still ducked away, to catch Kara watching her. Her cheeks start to flush pink. The moment between them deepens.
Lena's the one to break it. She looks away with a gesture that looks effortful, her voice suddenly too cheerful as she says, "Anyway, I should really put these in some water."
She brandishes the flowers between them, the paper crinkling brightly in her hand.
"Yeah," Kara says. "They're probably thirsty."
She feels disappointed, in a strange way. She can't quite put her finger on why.
Still, she waits as Lena unwraps the flowers. She's rewarded with a soft sigh, followed by Lena's sotto voce oh. "These are beautiful," she says, more loudly and clearly intended for Kara's ears. They haven't talked about the super hearing yet; now isn't the time to bring it up. "How did you know?"
Kara fidgets, unwrapping her arms from her middle and rubbing her palms against her thighs. "I kind of bought them for myself," she says. "But then you texted, and they just seemed like they'd be more at home at your apartment."
Lena turns, cradling the flowers in both hands. She looks - affected. Like bringing flowers was precisely the right thing to do. The bouquet is mostly sunflowers, with some late-summer dahlias and greenery thrown in. The flowers made Kara think of a National City sunset, all corals and golds and soft pinks. That's why she bought them. "They're wonderful," Lena says. "All my favourites together."
"I would have figured you for something fancier," Kara says. "Maybe roses?"
Lena shakes her head. "These ones. They're perfect."
There's another moment between them, a shared gaze that feels like something special. Dahlias and sunflowers: Kara can remember that.
"Anyway," Lena says, as she fills the vase with water and sets the flowers gently inside. "Why don't you get comfortable on the couch. We've got a little while until the food gets here."
Lena fluffs the flowers gently with her fingertips. One of the dahlias has a petal that's a little crushed; she smoothes it out carefully with her thumb and Kara feels a sudden flutter of emotion manifesting in her body, lower down than she'd expect. If she didn't know better, she might mistake it for desire. She turns away but it feels like an effort. For some reason, it makes Kara think of the intentional way that Lena had turned her head just moments before.
Lena's couch is beautiful, white, minimalist, and surprisingly uncomfortable. Kara perches on it nervously; she's wearing dark jeans and she has a sudden mental image of the dye rubbing off, leaving an indelible and painfully embarrassing butt print on Lena's perfect faux-leather cushions. She rubs her thigh back and forth experimentally and lifts it to check: no mark.
Slowly, she eases her weight onto the seat of the couch. It's awful. It looked like it would be soft and yielding but the frame that it's on is too firm and she hardly sinks into it at all. She fidgets, wiggling down into the cushions, with no success. "Are you alright?" Lena asks. She's walking over, a smile in her eyes.
"Your minimalist sofa is really uncomfortable," Kara says. She's teasing a little, but she's also a little appalled - how can Lena possibly have cozy movie nights sitting on this.
"It's not that bad," Lena says.
"Oh, come on. I have a butt of steel and I'm uncomfortable."
Lena sighs, affection in her breath. She bites her lip, making a show of thinking, before she says, "Alright, give me a minute."
Lena walks past Kara, disappears further into the apartment. Kara remembers the layout in a vague way; down the hall is a bathroom and a few closets and Lena's expansive, similarly minimalist-chic bedroom. Kara tries not to fidget while she waits. She's not supposed to use her powers to eavesdrop, but she can hear the sound of a door opening and closing and she's pretty sure it's loud enough that she'd be able to hear it if she were human, too. She settles for playing with her phone. She doesn't have any messages to check so she opens one of her apps, scrolls too quickly to really read anything while she waits for Lena to return.
Lena comes back in what's probably only a few minutes. Kara's so curious and impatient that it feels like it's been at least a half hour. She's carrying two blankets and a pile of throw pillows stacked on top of them. "Yes," Kara says. "That's what this couch needs."
Lena rolls her eyes. "I had them out, but my interior designer insisted they cluttered the space."
Kara rolls her eyes right back, both at Lena having an interior designer and at her militant anti-pillow viewpoint. "It's movie night. Let the space be cluttered." Kara gestures to make her point.
Lena grins. She looks like she's going to set her handful of pillows down neatly, but at the last second she makes a face and tosses them onto Kara's lap. It takes Kara by surprise and she giggles in response. "Oh no, it's so cozy!"
Lena flops down onto the couch beside her. Two of the throw pillows fall out of Kara's lap towards Lena, keeping Kara from seeing her face. Kara squashes it with the flat of her hand, leaning over with her chin to meet Lena's eyes. Her cheeks are a little flushed, and she's still grinning at her own joke. When Kara's face pops over the little pillow wall, Lena's smile deepens. "Hi," Lena says.
"Hi," Kara says back.
Everything feels soft around her: the blankets on her lap and the pillows in her arms and the way Lena's looking at her. Kara takes a breath. She can smell Lena's hair, the lavender from her linen closet, the gentle warmth of her body heat this close. It creates that feeling again. The one Kara can't quite name, the one that keeps popping up between them with an intensity that almost makes time slow down.
Lena bites her lip. Kara's acutely aware of it, the way her upper teeth drag across the soft of her lower lip and the way it draws her attention down to Lena's mouth. She hasn't noticed in a while how pretty Lena really is. She looks so good without lipstick, Kara should tell her that more often. "Is this cozy enough?" Lena whispers.
Somehow Lena's face is near enough that Kara can feel the gentle movement of Lena's breath as she speaks. "Super cozy," Kara says. She whispers as well; they're near enough that it feels inappropriate to use the full force of her voice.
"Good," Lena whispers.
Kara gets that feeling again, a sudden pang of emotion settling deep inside, floating low and almost like desire. It hits her, what this moment feels like: the moment before a kiss.
Kara lets that thought run its course. Thinks about the way that it might feel to kiss Lena's beautiful, warm lips, pink from Lena worrying at them. Thinks about the ways that kissing and desire might be connected and a sudden flurry of emotions explodes in her chest, like popcorn. Maybe more like fireworks, or that popping candy. A million warm and crackly emotions under her ribs, each one bursting and giving Kara a hint: kiss her, kiss her, kiss her.
Kara opens her mouth to speak. She doesn't know what she's about to say. But before she can speak, she's interrupted by the harsh sound of an intercom buzzer. They both start at the sound. "Oh," Lena says. She practically levitates off of the couch. "That'll be the food."
It takes Kara a moment to remember: Dragon Palace. Sweet and sour pork with fried rice and potstickers and definitely not kissing her best friend Lena Luthor. She's so lost that she barely registers Lena answering the door, or the quiver in her voice as she tells the delivery person to come right up.
It's fine. Kara's excited for food and it's - fine. The sweet quivery feeling of anticipation in her belly and the extra nervous energy making her fidget, that'll pass.
It does, sort of.
The delivery person knocks on the door, and Lena brings back two bags of takeout containers and they fill the apartment with the comforting smell of sweet-salty-warm. Kara's stomach growls in reply. She really is hungry, and she's been using her powers lately which always makes her extra hungry. Over-ordering Chinese was an excellent choice.
"Hope you're hungry," Lena says, looking a little bashful. "I wasn't sure what you liked these days so I may have overcompensated just a little."
"No, it's perfect," Kara says. She eases her way out of the pillow-and-blanket nest on the couch to come inspect the food that Lena's unpacking. "I always get extra hungry when I use my powers anyway."
Lena pauses. There's an expression that flickers across her face, something almost like a frown that disappears as quickly as it appeared. "Is that okay?" Kara asks.
Lena shakes her head. "Of course. It is, I just - I always forget, is all. I have all these theoretical observations about Kryptonian physiology and facts and figures, and I'm still just sort of integrating it, I guess. My best friend's from Krypton."
The phrase - best friend - comforts Kara instantly. makes Kara feel the sort of happy that she's almost shy about. "You sure you're alright with it?" she asks.
Lena reaches out, covers Kara's hand on the counter with her own. "I am," Lena says. She ducks her head to catch Kara's eyes, to be sure that Kara knows she means it. "Really."
"Good," Kara says. She feels something unspool behind her heart; a tension she didn't even notice herself carrying. "Because I'm really hungry and all of this smells incredible."
She starts to peek into the containers that Lena's set out on the counter. Lena wasn't joking about over-ordering; there are at least ten dishes plus fried rice. It's perfect. It's the Chinese order of Kara's dreams: enough choice that she can try a bit of everything, and enough of Kara's favourites that she knows she won't go hungry. She piles her plate high with crispy beef and rice and sweet and sour pork and a half-dozen other dishes she hasn't tried before. Everything smells warm and sweet-spicy-savory and for a little while, Kara's nerves and worry melt away.
It's hard to be flustered about kissing when her mouth is full of ginger beef.
She busies herself with eating, looks away as Lena fills her plate about a third as much - a regular human portion, for people who process solar radiation in the usual way.
Kara starts eating standing up, while Lena serves herself dinner. It's just so good, and she really is hungry, and maybe it's also a way to keep herself from staring while Lena licks her lips and makes happy little anticipatory noises. Maybe.
Lena sits at one of the barstools at the kitchen island, pulls out its neighbour as a silent signal for Kara to join her. Kara does. Somehow, they're also beautiful-yet-uncomfortable. They must be from the same people that made the couch.
She doesn't - like she's not watching Lena eat, or anything like that. But Kara can't help but notice things, since Lena is less than a foot away and they're eating the same food together. She notices the way that Lena angles her body towards Kara, and the way that she keeps sneaking little glances at Kara.
About halfway through her meal - past the mountain of ginger beef but before the Singapore noodles - Kara can't help but sigh with delight. This is just so nice. Lena's here and they're hanging out and Lena remembered her favourite takeout and her belly is happy at being filled. She shifts in her seat, her thighs relaxing. The movement draws her knees apart, until the edge of her thigh bumps against Lena's. "Sorry," she mumbles around her first bite of noodles, drawing it back.
"Oh," Lena says. "Oh, it's fine."
Kara relaxes again. Her thigh swings outward, pressing against the outside of Lena's leg. She can feel the heat of Lena's skin through her jeans, and the contact sends little electric shivers through Kara's thigh and up towards her hip. It feels like sparklers. Warm, happy Lena-sparklers.
Eventually, they finish eating and move to the couch.
The pile of blankets and pillows is an issue. Kara arranges them in what is, objectively, the best way - two pillows each for their lower backs and one for a seat, plus an extra for Kara to snuggle. There's one blanket that Kara drapes across the pillow arrangement, she saves the other in case one of them gets cold.
Kara settles in while Lena puts the dishes in the sink, wriggling against the pillows to make sure they're comfortable enough. Lena catches her in the act and giggles. "Is it comfortable, yet?"
Kara smiles. "It's getting there. You'd better test it out, though."
Lena rolls her eyes. She approaches the couch and sits down in a movement that's impossibly graceful, perching with one knee tucked underneath herself. Kara didn't realize there was a formal way to sit in a blanket nest until just now. "Not like that, Princess Lena," she teases. "It's supposed to be cozy."
Lena's jaw drops, her expression mock-scandalized. "I am fantastic at being cozy, I'll have you know."
"Prove it, then."
Lena rests her hand on the pillows in between them, braces herself to reach across Kara's body and grab the second blanket. She hardly touches Kara - at most she grazes Kara's front with her arm - but Kara's struck with a sudden rush of emotion about it, just the same. She flicks her wrists, draping it across Kara's lap and her own in an indignant flourish. "See?" she says. "Extremely cozy."
"How am I supposed to be cozy when you're over there sitting like you're at high tea?" Kara asks. She taps at Lena's shoulder. "Come here."
"Oh," Lena says. Her cheeks turn the faintest pink, and Kara has a horrible moment of self-doubt. What if Lena doesn't want to. What if they're not the kind of friends who cuddle anymore. What if asking Lena to snuggle is unbearably forward.
Kara's about to backpedal, a million apologies on the tip of her tongue when Lena smiles and says, "That'd be nice."
Lena angles herself backward, clambering nearer to Kara on the little stack of pillows. She pokes at Kara's knee, the one angled out towards Lena's body, and whispers, "Move that."
Kara shifts instantly, straightening her legs to sit properly and give Lena space to move. She holds as still as she can as Lena squirms closer to her, tucking herself into the space against Kara's side. Her head's held high, but she's sitting close enough that if she wanted to, she could rest it on Kara's shoulder. Her knees are tucked up to her chest and leaning sideways, her shins resting on Kara's thigh. "Is this alright?" Lena asks.
Her voice sounds - different. It makes her seem smaller, and more tentative than Kara's heard from her before. Kara turns to meet her eyes and is struck, immediately, by how beautiful Lena really is. She's always been beautiful, but Kara's never understood it quite like this. From here Kara can see the soft lines around her eyes, the ones that crinkle when she smiles. She can see the warm pink curve of Lena's lips in perfect detail, the way that they're still a little greasy from dinner just minutes ago.
Kara gets that surge again, that fluttering down low in her stomach and there's that thought again: kissing.
Lena's mouth probably tastes like sweet and sour sauce. Not in the way of like. Lena's not a messy eater, not ever, but there's something about a girl - woman - tasting like one of Kara's favourite foods that makes Kara feel like she can't breathe. She gets stuck in it, jumbled in her own thoughts, and it makes her forget what her body is doing.
"Kara?" Lena asks. "What are you thinking about?"
Kara realizes, just then, that Lena asked her a question and she definitely answered it by staring at Lena's mouth for far too long. She should - something. She should recover, say something that doesn't make her sound creepy or weird or like she's just discovered that she has a crush on her best friend. But her mouth sort of moves against her will, and she finds herself saying, "If I kissed you right now I bet you'd taste like sweet and sour sauce."
Kara freezes back. Because what did she just say, only the grossest weirdest pick-up line in history and she just finished mending her friendship with Lena and now she's going to lose her all over again. She's going to have a panic attack. She's going to have a panic attack and probably die of shame and when everyone asks how Supergirl died Lena's going to have to tell them that she said something so embarrassing that it just killed her. Kara sees that now.
Lena pulls Kara's head down and kisses her.
She doesn't taste like sweet and sour at all. She tastes like - nothing. Kara's not really tasting her. She's thinking more about touch adjectives, like soft and warm and intense, and the flutters blooming in the lowest parts of her at the feel of Lena's mouth and oh, Rao help her. Oh fuck, she just kissed Lena.
Or Lena just kissed her.
One of them kissed the other one and it was good and she doesn't know what to do but she's suddenly filled with wanting. She's barely finished kissing Lena for the first time, and she already wants to kiss Lena again.
Lena pulls away, just barely. She parts from Kara's lips at what feels like the natural conclusion to the kiss, but she's still holding Kara's cheek, still so close that Kara can't look her in the eyes. All Kara can do is feel her, the warmth of Lena's breath against her mouth and the way her nose bumps against Kara's. "What did that taste like?"
Kara lets out a sigh of relief that turns into a stuttery laugh, one that Lena must be able to feel against her own mouth. "I'm not sure. Maybe if you did it again?"
She can't see Lena's smile, but she can feel it. Lena's mouth is stretched taut and she kisses Kara teeth-first, chuckling in the back of her throat. This time, when they kiss, Kara feels like she's melting. Lena's mouth is so sure, and she kisses Kara with a tender certainty that makes Kara feel like she's being held. Like Kara can trust her, can let herself float away because Lena and her mouth are both here, keeping her safe.
Lena's tongue brushes across Kara's lower lip, and it sends another flutter of sparks through Kara's body. She feels it in her fingertips, the tips of her toes, the sweet spot between her thighs. It's perfect. Kara can't believe she didn't think of this until today.
It doesn't feel like a next step, or taking things to the next level, or any of the expressions people normally use. It feels like - giving way. Like this has been here the whole time, and Kara just wasn't paying attention. It makes Kara think about a rubber band snapping back after it's been stretched. They were apart for so long, and it hurt so much, and now that they're together again they're moving closer than they ever were before but it feels so easy. Just a natural part of becoming friends again.
Lena sighs against Kara's mouth.
Kara thinks she'll remember the feel of it forever. The little puff of air against her lips, the soft noise that Lena makes in the back of her throat. The way Lena's lips part against her and her tongue slips in between Kara's lips and it feels like everything she's been feeling already but bigger. Deeper.
Kara's hands feel like they need to do something. She need to touch Lena, to reciprocate the way Lena's cupping Kara's face with both hands, now. She brings them up to Lena's back, or tries to. The angle is a little awkward with Lena still sort of beside Kara. One of Kara's arms is pinned between the back of the couch and Lena's side; the best she can manage is reaching across Lena's back and rubbing it, gently. The other arm comes up to meet it and she presses her palms down, feeling the softness of her t-shirt and the warmth of her skin. The end of Lena's ponytail tickles her fingertips; she reaches up to comb through it.
Lena sighs again, smiling into Kara's mouth. Kara takes the hint and reaches up, drags her nails as gently as she can across Lena's scalp, then down the back of her head and through the length of her ponytail. Lena hums into their kiss, shifts her weight a little in what seems like happiness.
Kara's been so focused on herself, she sees that now. Her own desire and delight and the little shivers she's been feeling are all-encompassing. But when Lena sighs like that, something in Kara's perspective flips and she thinks about Lena feeling the same things. Lena feeling the first stirrings of excitement and arousal crackling between her thighs, Lena getting butterflies at the feel of Kara's mouth, and it's - oh. Those are good thoughts.
Kara wants to touch Lena more. She wants to kiss Lena more, wants to stay like this for as long as she possibly can.
Lena sighs again, shifts her thighs, and Kara gets an idea. "Wait," she whispers. "Just - let me -"
Lena pulls back. The lack of kissing is profoundly disappointing.
Kara slips her hands down to Lena's hips. She braces her hands and then lifts Lena up, off of the couch entirely. Lena lets out a little giggle-shout as Kara lifts her, but she gets the idea almost immediately. She shifts her legs as Kara moves her so that she's sitting firmly in Kara's lap, one knee on either side of Kara's hips. It's perfect. She's perfect there. That's exactly the place where Kara needs Lena to be.
Lena smiles down at her. Her eyes are doing that crinkle thing, and her pupils are big and dark as she looks down at Kara almost dreamily. Her lips are even prettier now, gently swollen from kissing and now that Kara knows how nice it feels to kiss them she swears she can almost see how soft they are. From this angle, Lena can easily rest her forearms on Kara's shoulders, her hands meeting at Kara's nape to cup the back of her head.
Kara's going to say something. She's totally going to. They're going to talk about this, because they're kissing now and they've never kissed before and best friends don't typically kiss and they have to figure that out. Or something. But before she can speak, Lena ducks down and presses another kiss to Kara's mouth.
Talking about things can wait.
From this angle, Lena has leverage. She kisses with what feels like her whole body this time, her hands tilting Kara's face upwards into the kiss while Lena's body arches toward her. Lena's hips sort of angle themselves against Kara's stomach, while Kara's breasts press against Lena's belly and there are so many points of contact that Kara loses track of them all. It just feels like Lena's surrounding her, touching her everywhere she could possibly touch and on top of that, they're kissing.
It's so good. It's thrilling and soft and Kara feels like she can't breathe from the experience of it. She reaches up, presses her hands to Lena's lower back, holding her near with as much force as she dares. She needs to be gentle. It feels like an effort to remember that. Lena's just so good at kissing, and Kara knows her so well but she's never known her like this before.
Lena's mouth does this thing, this extra little surge of pressure and her hips bump into Kara's middle just so and it feels good. It feels good in a very specific way, the one Kara feels between her legs. There's a surge of sweetness that tugs Kara's attention to the space below her hips and before Kara can think about it she moans. It's explicitly sexual, naked with desire in a way that makes Lena chuckle into her mouth. "Eager," she whispers.
"Lena," is all that Kara can think to say in reply.
Lena exhales. It sends a puff of air across Kara's nose, fogging up her glasses almost completely. Kara frowns. "Oh, your glasses -" Lena starts.
"Oh, no it's fine, I -" Kara begins. But Lena's already got her fingertips poised on the arms of Kara's glasses. Lena lifts one eyebrow, questioning. The gesture makes Kara's stomach do a flip. "Yes."
Lena's hands are gentler than Kara would have expected. She eases Kara's glasses off with a slow, careful movement. It feels like something big. Something important. Lena knows, but she hasn't seen it before; Kara's always worn her glasses out of habit.
It feels like more than just Lena taking off Kara's glasses, somehow.
Lena folds Kara's glasses closed with careful fingers, reaching across to the end table and setting them aside. "Kara," she whispers. Kara's never heard Lena say her name like that, before. There's so much tenderness to her voice, the way it curls around Kara's name like an embrace. It makes an answering tenderness bubble up inside Kara. Lena reaches up and strokes Kara's cheek. "My Kara Zor-El."
Kara's name - her real one - in Lena's voice takes Kara's breath away all over again. Lena knows her now, in a way that's bigger and deeper than the way they knew each other before, and the fact of it tugs at Kara's heart. "Lena," she whispers. She tries to pour everything she's feeling into it, all of the caring she feels, big and bright like she could burst with it. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I ever hurt you."
"I know," Lena whispers in reply. There's a quaver to it, the words wobbling like Lena's trying to force the weight of her emotions into her own words, as well. "I know, I know."
"I missed you so much," Kara says. "I don't ever want to lose you again."
Lena cards her fingers through Kara's hair, the gentle caress of her nails soothing Kara's nerves. "You won't," Lena says. "Not ever."
"I want to kiss you again," Kara says. "Is that okay?"
Lena nods. "More than."
Kara does. This time it's her turn to cup Lena's nape, and she pulls her down into a slow, searing kiss. Without her glasses in the way they can get nose to nose more easily, and she makes a mental note of it. No glasses, next time. Kissing Lena makes Kara feel so much. A million similes float through her consciousness, all of them what Snapper would call tortured and melodramatic. She feels like she's on fire. Like she's floating away. Like she's been struck by lightning and every molecule in her body is electrified.
It feels so good that as soon as one kiss is finished, Kara's ready for another.
They kiss for a long while. Long enough that the sunset outside has settled into dusk, long enough that Kara's lips are sore and her thighs are sort of falling asleep but it doesn't matter. Nothing matters, except for this.
"We should - " Lena sighs, in between kisses. "We should talk."
She breaks contact, just a little. She's breathing heavily, her whole body responding to Kara's mouth in a way that Kara can sense. Kara still caught up in it, and the loss of Lena's kisses is so great that she whines before she can stop herself. "But I'm not done kissing," she says. "I want to kiss you forever."
Lena makes a sound in the back of her throat, a whimpery little noise of frustrated desire that prompts an answering flutter in Kara's groin. She leans backward, deliberately breaking points of contact between them. "You can't just say things like that," she says.
"Why not?" Kara's hands are on Lena's waist and she slides them down, closer to Lena's hips.
"Because it makes me want to keep kissing you."
"I don't see what's so wrong with that," Kara says. She knows Lena's right. She knows they have to talk, that this is a big deal and that they shouldn't rush into anything they don't know for certain they're ready for. But her thoughts are clouded with desire, the throb between her legs momentarily taking over from her usual cautious self. "You're so good at it."
Lena shifts her weight, at the same time as Kara parts her knees. Her leg skips over Kara's thigh and she lands with her knee in between Kara's legs, the base of her thigh slotted right against Kara's warm, eager center. Kara shifts towards her, and the contact brings a sudden surge of awareness of just how warm and how eager her body really is. She bites her lip, trying to hold in a moan.
Lena catches the shift in her expression, brings her knee pointedly backwards. "We should talk before we can't stop."
Kara shakes her head. She needs to clear it. She needs to focus, on something besides the beautiful pressure between her own thighs and chasing the feel of Lena's mouth. This is serious. It's not every day that Kara goes to see Lena for movie night and ends up with Lena sitting in her lap and kissing her, and that - they have to talk about that. "You're right," Kara says. She takes a deep breath, and forces herself to think about the way it feels inside her chest, the inhale and the exhale bringing her back to reality. "We should, um. Yeah. We should talk."
Lena slides off of Kara's lap. She settles for a moment on the pillows right beside Kara before she thinks better of it, moves to the opposite end of the couch. The distance is probably for the best.
Kara watches as Lena closes her eyes and breathes, mirroring Kara's own deep breaths a moment ago. She seems shaky, and it's - Kara's not trying to notice Lena's arousal, but she's spent the last however long practically breathing in the scent of it and now that she's noticed, it's hard to stop.
"So," Lena says. Her tone of voice is distant and formal, as if she's running a board meeting. "We kissed."
Kara nods. "We did. A few times."
"More than a few," Lena says. Her expression turns flirtatious for just long enough for Kara's body to react to it.
"We're really good at it," Kara says. "Kissing, together."
Lena nods. She schools her expression back into something serious, asks, "What does that mean. For our friendship?"
It's so obvious, but it stops Kara in her tracks. She doesn't know. She spent all these months preparing and hoping for Lena to just be her friend and talk to her again. It never occurred to her that she needed to plan for anything more than that. This feels like a test she hasn't studied for.
Kara closes her eyes. Figuring out how she feels always seems easier, that way.
She just wants this to be good, is the real answer. She wants to be Lena's friend again. She wants to be able to text her and talk to her and spend time with her and be close to her, the way that she used to. But the kissing is - something she hadn't expected. The kissing makes Kara think about things bigger than friendship; the way this could bloom into something lasting that feels like friends but also has kissing and maybe sex.
There's a word for that, but it feels impossible for Kara to even think it, just yet.
What Kara says is, "I want you to be my best friend, forever. I don't ever want to lose you again. And if that means we're best friends and that's it, that's alright with me. But kissing you is like - I don't know. Like the next part of our friendship. And I liked it, a lot."
Lena watches Kara as she speaks, but at the weight of her words she looks down at her lap. She starts fiddling with the edges of her nails, running her thumbnail across her cuticles, one by one. "I need you to want this to be something more," she says. "Please."
"I do," Kara says. And once she says it she feels how true it is, this bloom of caring and desire and love so big that it brings tears to her eyes. "I do want it. I want you."
Lena looks up and her expression is something Kara can't quite read. She looks tense, and for a moment Kara feels her heart begin to break. Then something in Lena's face softens, and when she looks up at Kara her eyes are bright and all she says is, "Come here."
Kara practically leaps out of her seat to obey. She lands with her hands on the back of the couch on either side of Lena's head, and now it's her turn to sit in Lena's lap and move close.
As soon as she's within reaching distance, Lena has both hands fisted in the fabric of Kara's shirt. She tugs the fabric taut, dragging Kara closer and they meet mouths-first in a kiss that feels urgent. Lena sighs into it with her whole body. Kara breathes in deep, trying to memorize this moment. Lena's mouth is sure and soft and this feels like the tipping point. This kiss is the one that happens between two people who are more than friends.
Lena's hands move from Kara's shirt to her lower back, her nails digging in and pulling Kara as close as she can manage. It feels like she wants to crawl inside Kara, like pressing up against her isn't near enough. The eagerness of it, the openness of it, takes Kara's breath away. It's beautiful. It's everything Kara didn't realize she'd wanted. "Don't hurt me like that again," Lena says against Kara's mouth. "Not like you did when you lied to me."
"I promise," Kara whispers. "I'm going to try my hardest."
Lena smiles, touches her forehead to Kara's shoulder. "We never did watch that movie."
Kara looks up. The sky is dark; it's properly night now, and that means it's far too late to start a movie when they both have work the next day. She blushes, just a little. "I guess we got a bit sidetracked."
Lena kisses her cheek. "I guess."
"There's always tomorrow night?" Kara says. It comes out as a bit of a question; it sort of is. She wants to spend every night with Lena, very suddenly.
Lena smiles. Her hands have relaxed around Kara's back, she brings one up to fiddle with the ends of Kara's hair. "I guess there is," she says. It sounds a little like she's accepting. "I suppose at some point, we have to think about going to bed."
Kara swallows down a moment of panic. Lena's pressed too close for her brain to process the word bed in any context other than sexual, and parts of her are more than ready for that but she's not sure her heart can handle it, tonight. "Oh," she says, once she catches up to Lena. "Like, for sleeping."
Lena's grin gets a little wider. "Like for sleeping."
Kara reaches up to stroke Lena's ponytail. Her hair is always so soft, and the feel of it under Kara's hands is comforting. "I don't know if I want to go home just yet," she says.
"You could always sleep here." Lena twists a lock of Kara's hair around her index finger, mirroring Kara's own nervousness. "I have a really big bed."
"Is it comfortable?" Kara teases.
Lena smiles. "You'll have to let me know," she says. There's a note to her voice that makes Kara's lower belly flutter with desire one final time.
"Yeah," Kara says. "Here would be nice."
Lena shoves playfully at Kara's hips, indicating that she should rise. Kara gets up, giving Lena the room to stand. "Come on," Lena says. She offers her hand. "Let's put dinner away, and then I can show you the bedroom."
Kara takes Lena's hand, lacing their fingers together as they cross the short distance to the kitchen. She's never been so excited to put away takeout containers in her entire life.
Chapter 4: you don't need to save me (but would you run away with me)
Title from Taylor Swift's "Call It What You Want."
Kara wakes up in Lena's bed.
She's wearing borrowed pyjamas, a faded MIT t-shirt and sleep shorts that Lena found in the back of her dresser drawer. The sky is blazing the pink and gold of sunrise above the skyscrapers, the soft morning light streaming in through the open windows in Lena's bedroom. Kara stretches, blinks once, and sighs happily.
She's here, in Lena's pyjamas, in Lena's bedroom, sleeping in Lena's bed, feeling the soft fabric of Lena's bedsheets against her bare legs. She slept here because they kissed last night. Memories flood back to her: the taste of Chinese takeaway, Lena's mouth on hers, the feel of sitting in Lena's lap with Lena's fingertips digging into her lower back.
She remembers the way Lena smiled at her through her eyelashes as they got into bed, the way she'd whisper-asked if Kara wanted to sleep close together or far apart. She remembers how it had felt to listen to Lena fall asleep in her arms. Kara had nuzzled in close, her nose and mouth finding a comfortable place in the curve where Lena's neck met her shoulder and the smell of her skin, the closeness of it, is replaying in her mind on a loop.
Lena's farther away this morning.
They'd drifted in the night, and now Lena is on the other side of the bed with the covers pooled around her waist. She looks so peaceful. There's an intimacy to this, to being allowed to see Lena sleeping. Here in her bed, with the soft glow of the sunrise surrounding her, Lena can't keep her guard up. She has no choice but to be herself and Kara is overwhelmed by the sight of her. There's a side of Lena here that Kara's never seen before and it feels like she's been missing it, somehow. She can't believe how much time she wasted not knowing what Lena looked like first thing in the morning, her hair fanned around her like a halo, snoring gently.
Lena's t-shirt is a little askew, the sleeve of it hiked up around her upper arm so that her shoulder is exposed. Kara thinks about what it might be like to kiss it.
She's only ever kissed Lena's mouth, before. It felt incredible, and Kara would be happy to do just that and nothing more. But now that she's got the time and space to take stock of Lena's body, she realizes how many different places there are that Lena could be kissed. Kara gets a sudden mental image of a select few - most of them hidden by Lena's pyjamas - and feels a wave of desire run through her, waking her fully.
Kara doesn't know what time it is, but sunrise is usually a little after 6 this time of year, and she doesn't remember if Lena set an alarm the night before. She tries to wriggle towards Lena subtly, but her weight makes the center of the bed dip and Lena stirs before Kara can even get close.
Watching Lena wake up is an experience in its own right. Her eyelashes flutter, she frowns and sighs and then stretches out, one arm narrowly missing Kara's head. She's beautiful. She so - incredibly, beautifully, beautiful. Kara feels that flutter again: she's got it bad.
"Kara?" Lena says. Her voice is still foggy with sleep and it makes her sound almost disoriented.
"Hey," Kara says. It doesn't feel right to speak any louder than a whisper. It feels delicate, this time in Lena's bed, and she doesn't want to do a single thing to upset it. "Good morning."
Lena blinks again, drowsily and then with more surety, before forcing her eyes open. There's another moment of uncertainty, just long enough to make butterflies start to flutter behind Kara's ribs, before she focuses on Kara and softens into a warm, drowsy smile. "Hey," she whispers in reply. "Good morning, you."
"How did you sleep?" Kara asks.
"Really well," Lena says. There's a smile in her voice, an answering curve to her mouth as she says, "I had the nicest dreams."
"What about?" Kara realizes, as soon as she's said it, what Lena means. She's had nice dreams, maybe-probably about Kara, and the thought of that is enough to make Kara's body react.
Lena chuckles. She rolls over, tucking herself onto her side and shifting nearer on the bed so that she and Kara are almost nose to nose. "You," she says.
Kara feels herself grin. It's probably too wide, too eager, but if Lena is bothered by it, she doesn't show it. "What was I doing in your dreams?"
Lena shifts, wriggling even closer. Her knees bump against Kara's thighs. Kara thinks, suddenly, about those legs intertwined with her own. "Sort of the same thing you were doing last night," she says. "Plus a little more."
The way Lena says the word more hits Kara right between her legs. Her arousal shifts, gentle flutters becoming a slow, steady throb. "Oh," Kara whispers. "Was I good at it?"
Lena smiles. "The very best. Five stars."
"I hope I can live up to dream-Kara's standards," Kara says. It feels like the natural next thing to say. She doesn't think of it as a proposition until Lena's shifting not-so-subtly in front of her, her lower lip suddenly caught between her teeth.
Lena's smile deepens into a slow grin. There's desire in her expression as she looks Kara over, somehow shifting from sweet, drowsy interest to overt desire with one movement of her eyebrow. "You," she says. "Let me at least brush my teeth before you ravish me."
She kisses Kara on the cheek and rolls out of bed, dragging the covers away from Kara's body just a little. Kara's still thinking about the way Lena looked at her. The way Lena assumed Kara would ravish her, and she's never had sex with a woman before but for Lena she'll figure it out. She can figure it out. She's singlehandedly held together a trestle bridge for a moving train, she's landed airplanes with her bare hands. Sex can't be that difficult.
Lena's back before Kara's thoughts can settle. Her hair is combed and she smells like the sharp mint of toothpaste and she looks even better than she did before. She's still wearing her pyjamas: pinstriped linen lounge pants and a t-shirt, and Kara's never seen anything more attractive in her life.
Kara's body barely cooled off last night to let her sleep. The sight of Lena brings all that desire back in full force.
Lena slides into bed beside her and says, "Your turn."
For a moment, Kara's brain gets stuck on an inappropriate track. She thinks about Lena kissing her all over, and almost short-circuits. It takes her longer than it should to realize that Lena means her turn in the bathroom. "Right," she says. Getting out of bed to leave Lena for even a minute sounds like the most awful thing, but she manages. "My turn."
Kara gets up. She pads across the floor, uses the bathroom as quickly as she can without actually resorting to super speed.
When she comes back to bed, Lena's sitting up, typing on her phone. The sun is transitioning from sunrise to dawn, the glow warmer and brighter than before and it frames Lena like a halo. She's beautiful, and Kara always knew that but she suddenly feels it, with all of her heart. Lena is radiant. Lena is the warm glow of morning and the softest secret smile in bed and Kara wants to kiss her so badly that she can hardly contain herself.
"Who are you texting?" Kara asks. She slips under the covers beside Lena, shifting her weight until they're pressed hip-to-hip.
"Andrea," Lena says, matter-of-factly. "I have a feeling I might be in late, today."
"Oh, why?" Kara asks.
Lena looks up from her phone and gives Kara that look again. The one that she feels between her legs as a sharp pang of desire. "No reason."
Kara's speechless long enough for Lena to put her phone away on the nightstand, and turn back to face her. "Do you feel that feeling, Kara?"
"About - being late for work?" Kara asks. Lena nods in the affirmative. Her eyes are trained on Kara with singular intensity, flickering between meeting Kara's eyes and staring at her mouth. "I- yeah. I think I feel that, too."
Lena's hand comes up to Kara's cheek and she definitely feels that. She traces the shell of Kara's ear with her thumb, tickling the back of Kara's neck with her fingertips. Her touch is just the right blend of insistent and delicate to make Kara lean forward at the wordless request of it. She practically falls onto Lena's mouth, their kiss the natural conclusion of her trajectory as Lena draws her closer.
Lena's lips are ready to receive her, her kiss gently toothpaste-minty. It's perfect. It's just like yesterday's kissing, but better. This time, Kara knows Lena's mouth, knows the way to get Lena to relax into the kiss and sigh against Kara's lips. Every sound that Lena makes draws an answering throb from between Kara's legs, and it's - Rao, it's wonderful.
Lena's hand stays at Kara's nape, caressing. She angles her fingertips so that she can use her nails, scratching at the sensitive skin there. The touch sends a frisson of sensation through Kara, little sparks dancing across her skin until Kara can't take it anymore: she shivers, full-body, and groans against Lena's mouth. "That's good?" Lena mumbles, barely intelligible against Kara's mouth.
"Mmm, real good," Kara whispers. It's inarticulate, but judging by the way she bites at Kara's lip in response, Lena doesn't seem to mind.
They focus on each other's mouths a few kisses more, and then Lena's free hand drops to Kara's thigh. Kara's attention follows it immediately. She's sort of touching Kara through her borrowed sleep shorts, but the fabric only extends so far and below that is Kara's bare skin. Her palm is resting on the fabric but her fingertips are resting on the inside of Kara's thigh and Kara can't think about anything else. Lena's touching her thigh with soft fingertips, dragging her nails gently across the sensitive skin. It sends shivery waves all the way up to Kara's groin until Kara sighs. "So," Lena says, nails teasing at Kara's thigh as punctuation. "Do you want to -?"
"Do I want to what?" Kara asks. She knows. At least, she thinks she knows what Lena wants to do, but it'd be nice to hear it so that she's sure they're both on the right page.
Lena pulls away and bites her lower lip, looking straight at Kara. Kara suddenly understands what people mean when they use the phrase bedroom eyes. "Do you want to have sex," she says. Her voice is soft and the timbre of it is a bit deeper, it adds a note to her tone that is somehow inescapably sexual.
Kara does. She wants to have sex so badly, she wants to have sex with Lena right now on her big expensive bed in the morning sunlight. She's not sure she's ever wanted anything more. Her whole lower body feels like it's tingling, starting gently at the tips of her toes and ending in a beautiful bloom of desire between her legs. "Yeah," Kara says. "I, um. If you want to do, um. That."
"Very much," Lena says.
Something about Lena's tone of voice makes Kara think about her. Not that - she was always thinking about Lena, how could she not. But Kara's own desire is so evident, aching at the forefront of her attention, that until just now she hadn't really thought about Lena feeling the same way. Now, it feels like she can't think about anything else. Lena is watching Kara with intention, and now Kara notices the way her pupils are dilated, and the rapid hum of Lena's heartbeat. She notices the way Lena's sitting with her thighs pressed together, and she wonders if Lena feels her own arousal there.
Kara's struck with a sudden desire to know. She wants to feel if Lena gets wet the way she does, wants to know if Lena's arousal tastes the way that Kara can smell, when she breathes in and uses all of her senses.
"Oh," Kara says. "Well that's - cool."
Lena chuckles. "You're cute."
Kara ducks her head at the compliment, suddenly shy. "You're beautiful," she says, her gaze down towards her knees.
She darts her eyes up just in time to see Lena go shy, her smile wide and bright and Kara can't resist. She ducks in and captures that smile in a kiss.
The movement overbalances them, pushes Lena backward and she lands against the pillows with a soft sound of surprise. "Are you okay?" Kara asks. She hadn't meant to be quite that eager.
"Yes," Lena says. Her voice is a rough whisper, that note of desire even stronger. She's looking up at Kara, the pillows framing her face in just the right way and Kara feels an answering ache inside herself. Lena reaches up to tug at Kara's shoulders, urging her down. "Come here."
She lets Lena pull her nearer, arranging herself so that she's cuddled up next to Lena's side, balanced on one arm. Lena drags her down into a kiss. From this angle, it's somehow even more attractive than when they were sitting up. She can feel the contour of Lena's body against her front: the firm curve of her hips, the soft press of her chest against Kara's as Kara leans across her. It makes Kara feel extra aware of her own body, and the way desire is manifesting in it.
Lena kisses her and Kara arches up, pressing the apex of her thighs against Lena's hip. Lena groans in reply. "Kara," Lena sighs against her mouth.
"Wanna make you feel good," Kara mumbles back. She thinks about all the places she likes to be touched when she feels like this, and she wants to touch Lena there but she wants to make sure it's what Lena wants. "Show me -"
Kara's interrupted by Lena taking Kara's free hand and slipping it under the hem of her shirt. She guides Kara's hand across the soft skin of her belly, and that alone is enough to make Kara gasp. But then she drags it higher, arranges it until Kara's cupping the swell of one of Lena's breasts and Kara feels like her brain short-circuits. "Oh," Kara groans. Her fingertips squeeze reflexively. She runs her thumb across what she can feel, the impossibly soft curve of Lena's breast and then the subtle texture of Lena's areola and the firm peak of her nipple. "Oh, can I kiss -"
"Yes," Lena says, a little impatient. "Please, Kara, I want -"
Lena trails off. Kara can take the hint. She hikes Lena's shirt up past her chest and the sight just about takes her breath away. Kara never really understood the idea of perfect breasts, but now she realizes that's because she'd never seen Lena's, before. They're the perfect ones. Kara can't help but stare. Everything is a little flattened with gravity from her position on the bed, but Kara can still more than appreciate the swell and curve of them, the contrast of the deep pink of her nipples.
Kara ducks her head down to the breast she's already cupping, and drags her tongue across Lena's tit. Lena whines in reply, a high-pitched noise in the back of her throat that ends in a moan as Kara follows her tongue with the whole of her mouth. Lena's breasts are just so soft, they're the softest things Kara's ever kissed in her life and she can't believe she went this long without giving them the attention they clearly deserve.
She kisses one side and listens as Lena's moans grow more insistent, louder and less controlled. Then she switches to the other. Listening to the sounds Lena makes is just - it's so hot. Every whimper, every sigh is hitting Kara right between her legs and she can feel her own desire, slick and heavy and throbbing. This is so good. This is everything.
"Kara," Lena sighs. "Kara, please, I -"
Kara looks up. She catches the way Lena's thighs are pressed together, the way she's squirming with desire, and oh. She can help with that. She places her hand on Lena's thigh, says, "Hey. Let me."
Lena spreads her legs eagerly. Kara shifts so that her knee is on the bed, her thigh resting in between Lena's thighs. She leans forward, just a little, and is gratified by Lena grinding down onto her. The point of contact is well below the hem of Kara's shorts, and the inseam of Lena's pyjamas feels damp against Kara's skin. The apex of Lena's thighs is warm and humid and that means that Lena is wet.
Kara feels her inner walls flutter at the thought: Lena is wet for her.
"Lena," she whispers. "Can I kiss you somewhere else?"
Lena frowns. "Where?" she asks. Her voice is dreamy and a little distracted as she grinds her hips in a circle against Kara's leg.
"Can I -," Kara says. "Can I kiss your clit?"
Lena whimpers. "Oh, I thought you'd never ask."
Kara's still thinking about how to get access, if she should move her leg or what the best way is, when Lena tucks her knees up to her chest and wriggles away. She slips her pyjamas down and off her hips. Kara catches a glimpse of her ass, the soft jiggle of it as she shimmies out of her sleep pants and slips back into bed.
Then Lena is lying in front of her and she's naked from the waist down and it's mesmerizing. Kara's gaze is immediately drawn to the apex of Lena's thighs, the dark hair that forms a soft, downy V. She can smell her now, the heady scent of Lena's desire almost overwhelming to her senses. She wants to taste it. She wants to kiss the warm salty length of Lena's vulva, wants to know what sounds Lena will make when she does.
Kara starts with her fingers, first. She runs them down from Lena's hip, feeling the softness of her mons before trailing her touch downward. Even the outside of Lena's labia are damp, already covered in wetness. She wiggles her fingertip, slips it in between Lena's outer lips to find the slick desire hidden inside. Lena's so warm. It's warmer than Kara would have believed, warmer than it feels like it should be. She drags her fingertip upward, across the soft waves of her inner labia, until she finds the firmness of Lena's clit. Above her, Lena shudders.
"Is this okay?" Kara asks. She moves her fingertip in a circle, rubbing it across the top of Lena's clit.
Lena groans. "Yes, Kara please I'm so -"
Lena doesn't finish her sentence with words. Instead she presses her hand against the back of Kara's head, steering her downward.
"Okay," Kara whispers to Lena's vulva. "Okay."
She kisses it first. Just against Lena's outer lips, applying pressure overtop of Lena's clit. Lena sighs. She bends her knees, opening herself up further to Kara, and that hand on the back of Kara's head grips a little tighter. It's delicious. Kara feels the ache between her own legs intensify at the experience of it, ignores the urge to touch herself.
Gently, Kara works her tongue in between Lena's labia and flicks her tongue across Lena's clit. Lena moans in reply. The hand on the back of Kara's head flexes, nails digging in for just a moment before it relaxes. She uses her tongue again, then again, working gently across the most sensitive part of Lena. She tastes so good. It reminds Kara of - eating potato chips. That's what it feels like. Lena's vulva is the perfect amount of salty, and every time Kara tastes it, she wants to taste it a little more.
Kara laps at Lena until the sounds Lena's making begin to crescendo. Her mouth feels like it fits perfectly down here. There's a spot for her chin against Lena's entrance, space for her tongue to lap against Lena's clit and swirl up and around it. She feels like she could do this all morning, if that's what Lena wanted.
She works until Lena's hips start to move, rocking down against Kara's mouth. She works her tongue until Lena's moans hit such a high pitch that they turn into silence, until Lena's whole body tenses and stills. She licks further after that, is rewarded by the sharp feeling of Lena's nails digging into her scalp and the suddenness of Lena's orgasm against her mouth. Kara notices, with a sense of wonder, the way that Lena's inner walls flutter and pulse against her chin, the sudden surge of wetness that runs down her throat as Lena's desire floods out of her.
Kara sighs with delight. She can't hold back a grin: she did that. She made Lena have an orgasm.
"Kara," Lena huffs. "Kara, come here."
Kara looks up at the expanse of Lena's body. Lena's arms are outstretched, motioning for Kara to cuddle up closer to her head. She's happy to obey.
She swipes at her chin on the way up, wiping away the most obvious traces of Lena's arousal on her mouth. "Was that alright?" she asks, settling in against Lena's side.
"So good," Lena sighs. Her eyes are closed and she sounds distracted, a little dreamy, as she speaks. "Even better than I dreamt it."
"Oh," Kara says. She doesn't have any reason to be shy, not anymore, but for some reason she blushes. "That's what you dreamt about."
"I did," Lena hums. She sounds so distracted, lost in the haze of her orgasm, and Kara can't help but feel a little proud. It's confirmation of the fact that she made Lena feel good, and that's more than enough for her.
(Except that her body is telling her that it's not. That throb between her legs is insistent, the ache of her desire apparent every time she moves her lower body. Kara wants Lena so much. She wants Lena to kiss her clit, wants to rub herself against Lena's face, wants to come.)
Lena runs her hand along Kara's side, startling her back to the present. "What about you?" she asks. "Do you want a turn?"
Lena rolls over. They're nose to nose, and she's making a point of meeting Kara's eyes. "Why did that sound like a question?" she asks.
Kara's never had sex with someone who wasn't an alien, before. She knows what she wants, but she also has a distinct memory of tearing her sheets in half the first time she and - well. She just doesn't want to do that to Lena, or to Lena's sheets, or Lena's very expensive-looking bedframe.
"I've never, um. With someone human, before."
Lena frowns for a moment, then her eyes go wide. "Oh. Oh, I - right. That makes sense."
"But I want to, so bad. Lena, you're so beautiful I -" Kara ends her sentence in a frustrated whine. It's not the most dignified, but it's how she feels and it's so throbby she feels like she might burst if she doesn't get a chance to come.
"Hey," Lena says. Her hand rests on Kara's chest, right above the swell of her breasts. "Hey, it's alright. We can figure it out." Kara breathes in through her nose, out through her mouth. They can figure it out. "What do you think would work best for you?"
Kara closes her eyes. It's a little embarrassing somehow, having to ask for it. When she speaks, it comes out as a whisper. "Maybe just the, um. Can you just touch my clit?"
"Of course," Lena says. She runs her hand down Kara's front, across her chest and down her abdomen and settling at the hem of Kara's shorts. "Right now?"
Kara nods in reply.
"Lie back," Lena murmurs. Her tone is gentle, a little commanding in a way that settles Kara's nerves.
Kara rolls onto her back. She lets her thighs relax, spreading them apart so that Lena has whatever access she needs. Lena plucks at the waistband to Kara's shorts, pulling it back and snapping it softly against her skin. Just the feel of that sets Kara's body on fire. Now that she doesn't have Lena to focus on, the force of her own desire is almost overwhelming.
Lena dips her hand into Kara's shorts. Kara sighs with delight.
Lena's not even touching her yet, she's barely teasing the soft curly hair between Kara's legs but it doesn't matter. Kara's already slick, everything between her legs aching and oversensitive and desperate for relief. Lena runs her palm across the outside of Kara's vulva, pressing upward and oh. Oh, just the pressure alone is incredible. Kara hears herself groan, reaches for the sheets before she thinks better of it and crosses her arms across her front, grabbing her own biceps.
Lena starts to spread Kara's labia from the bottom, dipping her fingertips into the pool of wetness that's gathered at her entrance with a soft gasp. "Oh, you're so wet," she whispers.
"For you," is all Kara can manage.
Lena's fingers feel incredible. Just the first hints of touch, the way Lena's dipping her fingertips into Kara's slick and teasing at her entrance, is enough to make Kara moan. She's just so worked up, it almost feels like she's close to coming but that can't be right. Not when Lena's barely touched her.
Lena runs her fingers upward, drags Kara's slick through her labia and up towards her clit. She doesn't touch Kara's clit, not at first. Instead she slip-slides her fingers up and around it, just adjacent to the contact that Kara's body is screaming for. Kara whimpers, wiggles her hips as much as she dares.
She hears Lena chuckle. But then Lena's fingertips slide across Kara's clit and oh it's too good for her to notice anything else. Lena's touch feels like sparks. It feels like sunshine. It's fluttery-shivery-perfect, and Kara can't believe she gets to experience it.
"That good?" Lena whispers.
Kara can't reply. All she can do is react, to the feel of Lena rubbing tight circles across her clit, to the way that's making pressure and desire build high inside Kara. She really is close to her own orgasm, she sees that now. She can tell from the way everything feels like it's just on the edge of overwhelming, from the way she's gripping her own arms so hard that it's almost painful. Lena rubs at her clit again, and then again. She adds a little more pressure, and suddenly Kara's vision is going white and she's tumbling headlong into an orgasm, big and shuddery, the full-body kind.
Lena touches her through her shivers, whispers tender nonsense as Kara's body shakes, her inner walls flexing. Her whole body feels like fireworks.
Lena touches Kara until Kara asks her to stop.
"You did that," Kara whispers. She can't keep the wonderment out of her voice.
Lena chuckles. She kisses Kara's forehead, her cheeks, the tip of her nose. "We did that," she says.
Kara smiles. This is beautiful. Just like Lena.
Lena stays near until Kara's body calms down. It takes her longer than usual. Her body just wants to be still, wants her to stay at peace and resting like this for as long as she possibly can. The morning sun is in full force now, bright through the window. Kara wants to bask in it.
"You alright?" Lena asks, after a while.
"Yeah," Kara says. She feels more like herself, a little dreamy but mostly settled in her body.
"That was - unexpected," Lena says.
"And here I thought we were just going to do movie night."
Lena looks at Kara, her expression suddenly earnest. "It's alright though? Us being - this?"
Kara reaches for Lena's hand, holds it tight. "More than," she says. "Yeah."
"I don't want to go to the office," Lena says. "I just want to stay here with you."
The word office sends a sudden wave of anxiety through Kara. "Oh. Oh, it's Monday," Kara says.
"Want me to talk to your boss for you? Tell him to go easy on you?"
Kara stops cold. She hadn't thought about telling James. Or Alex, or anyone. She hadn't thought about much at all outside of her feelings for Lena, but now that Lena's brought it up it's - of course. They have to tell people. What she says is: "Oh, James."
Lena's eyes go wide. "Oh. I hadn't thought about - I just got so caught up," she says.
"Do you think it's okay if we -" Lena says. She speaks over Kara, who's in the middle of saying. "Maybe we should just -"
They both stop speaking, motioning for the other to continue. Lena's gesture is more insistent, and Kara speaks into the silence. "Just until we figure this out?" Kara says. "Maybe it can just be, I don't know. Ours."
Lena smiles. She squeezes Kara's hand, reassuring. "Just for a little while," she says. "Agreed."
"Okay, but what time is it?" Kara asks.
Lena rolls over, reaches for her phone and checks the clock on the screen. "Eight-fifteen."
Anxiety flares in Kara's lower belly. The editorial meeting has already started, and she definitely hasn't showered and she's only got her weekend clothes here but if she super-speeds home she can change and get to the coffee shop by eight twenty, work by half past. Probably. "I have to - is it okay? If I go to work?"
Lena laughs, and pulls Kara into one last, slow kiss. "Yes," she says. "Of course it is."
"Will you text me later?" Kara asks. "I want to know about your day. Updates every ten minutes."
Lena rolls her eyes. "Yes," she says. "Now get to work, star reporter."
"Okay," Kara says. She rolls out of bed, gathers her clothes from the stack she'd left them in before. "Okay, I'm - is it okay if I leave out the balcony? It's so much faster than the elevator and I'm late and I just want to -"
"Yes," Lena says. "Go. I'll text you."
Kara races to the balcony window in the living room, slides the door open as carefully as she can and speeds out into the morning. She's still wearing Lena's sleep shorts, her borrowed t-shirt. But it's alright.
The sun is shining, and she got to kiss Lena today. It's basically the best day ever.
Kara goes over to Lena's again that night. They have sex again.
Tuesday is a board meeting and Lena has to work late, but Wednesday she goes over to Kara's house and they finally watch that movie, together.
(They also have sex on Kara's couch, afterwards. Because that's a thing they do now.)
"Hey," Kara asks Lena. They're naked under Kara's sheets; Lena's head is resting on Kara's chest while Kara plays with her hair. "I was wondering something."
"What?" Lena asks. Her voice is a little absent, she's busy tracing loopy shapes with her fingertip across Kara's abdomen. Kara's pretty sure it's the shape of Lena's initials in cursive.
"It's um. I'm hosting game night tomorrow. And I was wondering if you'd come."
Lena comes to game night. Kara feels like she can breathe again.
Lena is here, back in Kara's life. She's talking to Kara, smiling at Kara, drinking wine and making dorky Catan jokes with Kara and James and Kelly, and it feels like everything that Kara's been missing for the past few months is finally behind her.
They're still not - they go to game night as friends.
It's not a secret secret, not the way Supergirl was a secret. But it is private, this special, fragile thing that they both need a little time to figure out for themselves.
(It's a secret that Kara's pretty sure Nia's guessed, from the face she gives Kara when she and Lena sit extra close. But that doesn't matter.)
What matters is the way that Lena smiles at Kara as she drinks her wine. What matters is that when it comes time to pick teams for the game of the evening - Ticket to Ride, this time - Lena takes Kara's hand and says, "Partners?"
Kara can't hide the warm glow of emotion that washes over her at the way Lena asks. She squeezes Lena's hand in reply. "Always," Kara says.
Alex sets up the board, and Kara doesn't let go of Lena's hand. It feels like things are finally going to be okay.