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she shines me up like gold on my arm

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Kara rushes through the coffee shop, dodging waiters with trays of glassware and rogue legs flung out from underneath tables, and she bursts out the rear door into the back garden. The cafe’s backyard patio is bright and golden in the afternoon sun, the smell of fresh coffee and croissants from inside mixes with the delicate flowers lining the patio, and Kara Danvers is seventeen minutes late. 

When she spots Lena sitting alone at a table, iced coffee a quarter gone, she flings herself down into the opposite chair. Kara’s hanging her blazer over the back of her chair and rearranging her purse when she flashes a bright but guilty smile at Lena. 

“Hi! I’m so sorry I’m late. For someone who seems to hate my guts and want to spend as little time with me as possible, Snapper will just go on about how much he hates my draft.” She reaches her hand out toward Lena and flattens it on the table between them as she shoots Lena another harried smile. “Thanks for meeting me. It’s really good to see you. Sorry again for being late. I know you’re always so busy.”

But Lena’s all smiles. She waves her hand dismissively at Kara and smoothly catches the waitress’s eye at the same time. 

“Oh Kara, really, it’s no big deal. I know how Snapper is. I got a few emails in, and I’m enjoying all this sunshine. What would you like? My treat.”

The late summer sun is shining golden against Lena’s dark hair, and Kara finds herself stuck for a moment, just so she can try to figure out what color it is. When she blinks herself out of it, she finds the waitress standing at their table looking at Kara expectantly, and Kara stares at Lena just a second longer before turning to smile politely at the waitress and ordering her coffee. 

“Well still,” she smiles back at Lena once the waitress is gone. “Let me make it up to you. Come to game night on Friday? I can’t watch Winn beat everyone at Trivial Pursuit for the millionth time, and I’m pretty sure you’re the only one who can beat him, so... say yes?”

Lena leans back in her chair, a devious smirk spreading across her face. “I think I might be able to arrange that.”

“Good,” Kara beams at her. “Now tell me about your day.”

***

Kara’s phone buzzes as she’s locking her apartment door behind her the next day, and she fishes it out of her pocket as she fumbles her way inside with her grocery bags. She strides over to the counter and sets everything down, delving into one of the bags and pulling out a box of cookies, the cardboard crinkling as she tears into it while she unlocks her phone. She skips over a text from James and a Words with Friends notification from Winn before tapping open her message from Lena. 

Hey, Kara. What can I bring for game night tomorrow? 

Kara smiles, shifting to hold the cookie between her teeth so she can reply with both hands.

Nothing! Just bring yourself! I’m glad you’re coming

So, wine?

Chuckling, Kara grabs another cookie and smiles to herself. Well, if you wanted to bring yourself and some wine, I wouldn’t be opposed

Glad you see it my way. See you tomorrow. ;)

***

Lena can hear game night before she sees it. Walking out of the elevator and rounding the corner into Kara’s hallway, she hears muffled yelling and music coming from behind Kara’s door. It’s not loud enough to offend any neighbors, but it cuts into the last moments of peace Lena had been counting on to calm her nerves before spending an evening with Kara’s closest friends. She takes a minute to steel herself anyway, smoothing her hair self-consciously and adjusting the grip on the wine bottle in her hand. She pulls in a deep breath but huffs it out in frustration, feeling ridiculous. 

It’s just Kara. 

It’s just Kara.

… And everyone who’s important to her. Lena shakes her head quickly and knocks on the door before she can change her mind.

She sees movement from the light under Kara’s door, which swings wide open before Lena can even pull her hand away. Kara stands in the doorway beaming at her, and Lena feels a little of her nervous anxiety leave her stomach even as her heart thumps a little harder in her chest.

“Lena!” Kara bounds forward and throws her arms around Lena, who freezes for a moment before giving Kara a light squeeze in return. Lena feels a flutter in her chest, the one she always feels when she’s at the receiving end of such easy, warm affection from Kara. The bottle of wine she brought thunks against Kara’s side as Kara pulls away, but the blonde doesn’t seem to notice in her haste to usher Lena further into her apartment. “I’m so glad you’re here. The pizza should be here any minute. I’m hoping that will settle them down,” she nods her head toward the living room, where Alex and Winn are sitting, fingers pointed in each other’s faces, bickering over a board game on the coffee table. 

Lena watches the scene, amused, and finds her anxiety eased further when Kara nudges her and rolls her eyes good-naturedly. “I’m guessing you want me on Alex’s team, then? Although it looks like she could probably handle Winn herself.”

Kara takes a step back, hand braced to her chest, aghast, but her eyes betray her mirth as she stares Lena down. “As if!” she says emphatically. “Heck no! You’re on my team. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” Lena agrees, a smile tugging at her lips as they move to join the rest of the group. 

Lena’s anxiety was all for naught, it seems. Kara’s friends are warm and open as they greet her. Maggie smiles at Lena and pats the space next to her on the couch, shuffling closer into Alex, who’s still in a heated debate with Winn. After she sits down, Kara plops down on the floor next to Lena’s feet in between the couch and the coffee table. Kara leans back against her, resting against the side of Lena’s leg, and Lena finds herself smiling down at Kara curiously.

“Okay, children.” Kara says, pushing at Alex and waving her hand at Winn. “Time’s up. If you can’t behave yourselves, you can’t play Scrabble. Pack it up. It’s Trivial Pursuit time.” Kara makes another shooing motion with her hands. Lena hears Maggie mutter oh thank god under her breath while Winn throws his hands up, incredulous.

“What? No! We’re not done! Zorilla is not a word!”

“Yes it is, Winnifred,” Alex snaps back at him, pulling out her phone. 

“No googling! And don’t call me that!”

“Zorilla?” Lena says. Alex whips her head from Winn over to Lena so fast Lena can practically hear it, and she looks slowly from Alex over to Winn and then back again. “The African weasel?”

Alex’s eyes go wide as a delirious smile slowly takes over her face, and she snaps back to Winn, positively triumphant. “Hah! Suck it, Schott!” 

Winn stares at Lena in disbelief, jaw agape, before, “Oh, Luthor, it is so on.”

Two games of Trivial Pursuit later finds Winn pouting around his third slice of pizza and Alex smug on the couch with an arm around Maggie. But Lena, the new reigning trivia champion, is still glancing down at Kara fondly, watching as she and James laugh over some old story about Cat Grant that she frankly hasn’t been paying attention to. 

Because somewhere in between Lena skewering Winn over one of his own questions ("Well Lena if you're so smart, why don't you answer it then?" She did.) and winning the game, Kara had turned her head to beam up at Lena from her spot on the floor. She was all white teeth and bright eyes, giggling at the way Lena had smirked and raised her wine glass at Winn, and her gaze made Lena feel breathless in a way she hadn't felt in ages. And Kara... Kara had dropped her forehead to Lena's knee and nudged her playfully with it before turning back around to take her own turn. But not before Lena felt a hesitant, tentative hand slip around her ankle. Kara squeezed softly, her attention fixed on the board while she rolled the dice with her other hand, and Lena found herself transfixed until it was her turn again.

***

Kara’s phone buzzes on Saturday morning while she’s sprawled out on her couch with a donut. She nearly ignores it in favor of the cartoons she’s watching, but when she sees a message with Lena’s name she hastily licks the icing off her fingers and grabs her phone.

Thanks again for having me over last night. I had a truly lovely time, and it’s always wonderful to spend time with you

A warm smile spreads over Kara’s face, and she grips her phone a little tighter as she reads the message again. 

I’m so glad you came. You’re welcome here anytime. It’s always wonderful to spend time with you too

Well in that case, Lena’s next message comes through, if you’d like to spend some more time with me… how about lunch this week? 

It’s funny, Kara thinks to herself, how one simple question can make it feel like warm tendrils are winding their way around the inside of her ribcage.

You and food? I will always say yes to that

Lena’s only response is a single red heart, and it makes that warm feeling fill Kara’s belly and bubble up the back of her neck. 

***

When Kara stops by L Corp later that week, she’s greeted by chaos. 

The area where Jess sits outside of Lena’s office is littered with broken glass. A cloying, pungent smell chokes the air, and the wall opposite the window is drenched with a brown abstract expressionist stain. There’s a series of clean-looking towels placed over the glass on the floor in a pathway leading to Lena’s office door, next to which stands a stoic and brawny security guard Kara’s never seen before. A three-person cleaning crew darts around, sweeping and scrubbing, and Kara pivots in place, wide-eyed, to look at Jess. 

“Good afternoon Ms. Danvers. Ms. Luthor told me you’d be coming. You’re here for lunch?”

Kara blinks at her. “Jess…”

“Ms. Luthor’s last appointment ran a little over time, but she’ll be with you in a moment.”

Next to her, a vacuum turns on, crunching like a broken garbage disposal as it begins sucking up the glass shards on the floor. Kara jumps, startled, and blinks at Jess some more. 

“Jess, uh, is everything okay?”

Jess smiles cheerily at her. “Just fine, Kara. Would you like something to drink while you wait?”

“Um. No, I’m good. I’m good. Thanks.”

There’s a soft buzzing noise from Jess’s phone that Kara would never have heard over the clangour of the vacuum if not for her super hearing, and Jess is smiling up at her again. 

“You can go in now.”

“O-okay. Thanks Jess.”

Kara steps carefully down the towel path toward Lena’s office until she’s able to shoulder open the door. Lena’s office is as neat and clean as it always is, and upon seeing her, Lena immediately smiles and straightens in her chair, shuffling some papers into a folder and standing to greet her. 

“Kara!” She wraps her arms around Kara’s shoulders in a quick squeeze and glances down as she pulls away. “Is that lunch? I got so busy today I didn’t have a second to ask Jess to order anything.”

Kara follows Lena’s gaze down to her own hand and blinks dumbly for a moment, having forgotten she was holding anything at all. 

“Oh. Yeah, I brought- wait, Lena, what the hell happened outside?”

Lena’s entire expression cools so quickly it makes the muscles along Kara’s spine tense, but Lena catches it and pats her arm to soothe her, tugs lightly on it to get Kara to follow her to the couch. 

“Between us?” she asks, raising an eyebrow. 

“Always.”

“Jess let it slip this morning that someone said something,” Lena pauses and takes a breath, and the pinched look on her face makes Kara’s cheek twitch, “so lewd to her at the L Corp summer party last week that I called him into my office and fired him on the spot.” 

Kara briefly wonders how much stunned blinking she can manage in one day. 

“That’s— okay, I mean I don’t want to say that that’s a good thing, but Lena. What happened outside your office?”

“He got angry and smashed my pair of cameo glass vases and a bottle of Yamazaki 12 year one of my investors brought me from Japan last month, which is really a shame, because I was planning on

“He what- threw a tantrum? Because he’s a child?” 

“Because he’s a board member, and they’re not used to consequences. Well… was a board member” Lena says it so simply, cavalier, like powerful men screaming and violently breaking things around her was a normal Wednesday for her, and Kara pauses, thinks about it, feels a modicum of revulsion in her chest when she realizes that maybe it is. She reaches for her immediately, covers Lena’s hand in her own as Lena speaks again. “I have a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment. Always. But especially when it’s by old rich white male board members toward young female assistants.”

“Can you just… fire board members on the spot?”

And just like that, Lena’s whole demeanor changes. She relaxes back into the couch and brings her free arm up to rest her head in her hand. Her mouth pulls into a smirk, that one eyebrow Kara likes so much (both of them, she likes both of them) raises. The hand under hers squeezes quickly around hers. 

“Darling. I can do anything,” 

Kara’s lips part, and she blinks at Lena. Say something, Kara, she thinks, but then Lena’s speaking again.

“And, now that I’ve committed an HR violation of my own by telling you that, why don’t we talk about something else. What’s for lunch, darling?”

Darling. Twice

“Wow. Right,” she makes a zipping motion across her lips. “Um, Chinese.”

“Perfect.”

***

It’s been four entire days of pouring rain and exactly zero crime when Kara flops restlessly onto her couch. In the last few hours she’s baked two batches of brownies, eaten both of them, and rescued a kitten from the roof of a house even though the fire department was already there, and she’s still bored. And hungry. And strangely lethargic, and she’d called Alex. Again.

(“Alex, I haven’t seen the sun in days, and I feel weird and tired. Come watch a movie and eat pizza with me.”

“Kara, it’s been this rainy before. What’s wrong? Do you actually need time under the sun lamp, or are you just bored?”

“... I’m bored.”

She’d heard Alex snort a laugh through the phone, and she pressed it closer to her ear. 

“Kara,” Alex teased. Safety confirmed, Alex’s voice immediately grew sarcastic, and Kara slumped further into the couch, knowing what was coming. “I’m on a date with Maggie. Now leave me alone.”

“Rude,” Kara huffed back. “Alex—”

“Bye!”)

Kara scrolls through her phone absently, knows she’s checked the weather for tomorrow three times already but her foggy brain won’t let her retain it. She checks a fourth time. Clear skies tomorrow. 

After closing Instagram for the third time in two minutes, she opens her text thread with Lena. 

Who do you think would win in a fight, *NSYNC or The Beatles?

The message is gone in an instant, before Kara can even realize she wants to pull it back, and as Lena’s three little typing dots appear, Kara blinks at her phone, wondering what made her decide to send that message to the CEO of a trillion dollar company during business hours, even though they’re friends, but the reply that comes back whip-fast has Kara grinning so wide her cheeks start aching. 

Right now? *NSYNC. There are only two Beatles left and they’re both in their seventies. But a theoretical fight with all members alive and in their primes? Beatles by a mile, even with one fewer person

Absolutely not, Kara types frantically. You’re out of your mind. Joey and JC would throw hands

I can’t even explain how wrong you are. Ringo could take three of them and you know it

Kara cackles, smiling at her phone as warmth floods her chest. The feeling isn’t new, has been slowly appearing whenever she sees Lena, whenever Lena says something especially charming that jumpstarts her heart in her chest. It makes her carry her phone around in her hand all day, makes her check it every few minutes, just in case. 

What are you up to? She asks Lena.

Just sitting here with a glass of wine, talking to you. You? Lena’s response comes back, and Kara blows out a breath, chewing on her lip.

Just talking to you 

Then Lena does it again, sends back just one little red heart, and Kara’s heart pounds in her ears.

***

“Honestly, I’m half tempted to ask you to be on standby with an emergency text,” Lena mutters as she carries her wine glass to the couch. The way she flops down on it is ungraceful and clumsy, yet still light years more graceful than Kara’s ever been herself. Kara’s not sure if it’s the reprieve after the long week she’s had, the comfort food, or the third glass of wine, but Lena’s more relaxed than Kara’s ever seen her, her movements loose and uncalculated, and Kara basks in it. She stares for just a moment, fascinated by the rare pout on Lena’s lips, the unexpected slump in her shoulders, the way she tucks her little socked feet up on the couch and rests her wine glass on her knee. Then Kara realizes she should probably respond. Right.

“You’ve already told me you want to go to this gala,” Kara teases, a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth as she watches Lena’s pout deepen. She reaches out her foot and nudges Lena’s elbow with it. “Thought you said it’s for a good cause and all that.”

“It is for a good cause and all that. That’s the only reason I’m going.”

“Um. What about the fancy hors d'oeuvres? The champagne? The dress?”

Lena just blinks at her, unimpressed. 

“They’re your friends, you like them,” Kara cajoles her, shifting closer on the couch so they can both fit under the blanket. 

Lena huffs. “They most certainly are not,” she smiles then, shyly, before she raises her own foot and nudges Kara back with it. “You’re my friend, I like you.” She says it softly, but it washes over Kara like a spring breeze, steals the air out of her lungs, and Kara catches Lena’s foot under the blanket. She bites her lip and looks down, rests her palm loose and gentle against Lena’s ankle, feels the air return to her lungs when Lena relaxes and stays put under her hand.

“I am, yeah, I like you too” Kara murmurs back. They watch each other for a moment, content, before Lena smiles prettily and ducks her face out of view. And Kara wants it back, wants her back, and so she says, “And that means I get to help you pick out a dress, so you have to send me pictures.”

There’s an impish grin on Lena’s lips when she turns back. 

“Oh really.”

***

Yes really, as it turns out, and Kara’s not entirely sure what she was thinking. It’s her own fault. It’s her own fault twice over, because Lena had listened to her, had sent her pictures of a couple pretty dresses on hangers, and Kara got it. She has a good imagination, could imagine what they would look like with Lena’s texted commentary (This one with my hair up in a twist, or This one with black heels and that silver Harry Winston necklace that I like), but she’d pressed Lena further, and in a moment completely devoid of premeditation had sent Lena a text, the first snip at the seam of sanity in her brain.

All she’d said was, No, Lena, let me see them on you!

And now…

Now her phone case (titanium, reinforced) is cracked in her hand like an eggshell, her mental stopwatch ticking away in her head at how long is too long to wait to respond after a conversation’s worth of rapid-fire texts. 

Because Lena’s sent two pictures of herself in the dress, the first is a wide shot bounced off her closet mirror from the neck down. The dress hugs her, curls over her shoulders but skirts around her collarbones, wraps snugly over her waist and hips, and Kara can see so much and so little at the same time. But the second picture… the second picture, a close-up of that silver Harry Winston necklace that I like has made Kara’s brain a little fuzzy, made her feel a little like she’s having a stroke.

The warm recessed lighting of Lena’s closet casts a flattering glow over her skin. Those collarbones are on prominent display, making small crests and valleys for the delicate silver chain that curls elegantly around the back of her neck and then dips, dips, dips, deep into the valley between her breasts. Kara spends a small eternity staring at the diamonds that sparkle there and definitely not what’s on either side of them, but it isn’t until Kara wrenches her eyes away, back up the smooth lines of Lena’s neck that she finds the red-painted smirk waiting for her at the top of the frame. 

Wow

You like it?

Kara huffs out a breath, glances wildly around her apartment for support but finds none. Her cheeks are too hot, and she feels guilty, caught, excited.

Yeah

She curses quietly and starts typing again.

Yes, yeah I do. You look amazing

Thanks, darling. Wish you were coming with me ;)

Kara whimpers and flings her phone across the couch. Lena didn’t mean it like that, couldn’t possibly mean it like that— could she? She stares at where her phone disappeared between two pillows and lets out a sharp breath, screwing her eyes shut for a moment before lunging back after it.

Me too

Hours later, when Kara’s laying in bed, after she’s read and re-read the messages, stared and re-stared at those pictures, is sure Lena’s gone out to the gala and is back home again, she texts her again. Maybe it’s because their conversation has her buzzing and wired and entirely unable to sleep, or maybe it’s because she’s spent so much time thinking about this and she still has no idea what to say, but she says the only thing she’s been thinking all night.

You look beautiful, Lena, and she stops, winces, wants again to reel the text back in. She can almost imagine Lena reading it in her apartment and stopping in her tracks, looking around suspiciously before peering out of her penthouse window, and sure enough— 

Thank you… are you here somewhere? I don’t see you

Kara winces again. 

No

Then how do you know?

Kara closes her eyes. She sucks in a breath and glances up at the ceiling. The tips of her ears feel tingly, and when the ceiling provides her with no answers she goes for it.

Because I’ve seen you before

Charmer ;)

Across National City, Lena stares at her phone, and then flings it across the couch. 

***

Every game night they have is fun. There’s nothing that makes Kara happier than hanging out and laughing with all the people she loves and an army’s worth of food in one room. But Kara’s pretty sure that tonight is the best game night they’ve ever had. J’onn had given both her and Alex a real night off, promising to take care of anything that came up so they could really relax. Alex, happier every time Kara sees her, is snuggled up in the armchair with Maggie, who’d shown up with a couple bottles of alien beer from the bar and pressed them into Kara’s hands with a wink (“It’s not as strong as the stuff you had last time, but one of these should do the trick. You deserve to unclench like the rest of us, Little Danvers” ). 

It tastes funny, a little like mangoes and a lot like a forest, but mostly, overwhelmingly, it tastes like blue, and it’s making her apartment glow golden just a little bit around the edges. James had shown up with enough Thai food that she’s actually full, and after suffering a blistering defeat in Parcheesi, Lena had beaten Winn at Trivial Pursuit again. There’s a happy thrum in her stomach and a feeling of contentment settled deep into her bones, and Kara can’t remember ever feeling so warm with affection for the little family she’s built herself. 

It’s when she feels so happy she thinks she might actually burst with it that she feels a gentle shove at her knee and looks up to find Lena watching her amusedly. 

“Everything okay over there, space cadet?” Lena has an eyebrow raised and an enchanting smirk on her lips. She’s leaning back against the far arm of the couch, her whiskey cradled on her chest, and her eyebrow raises even higher when Kara takes a beat to answer. “No pun intended, of course.”

“Rude!” Kara’s jaw drops a little, but the way she laughs gives her away, and Lena’s smirk widens into a grin. “That’s just—  I mean I’d be like, at least a space officer of some kind.”

In the background, she can hear Alex talking about starting a game of Taboo, can see her setting up the cards out of the corner of her eye, but she can’t bring herself to look away when Lena’s laughing like that. 

Lena’s foot is lingering by her knee, the ball of her foot pressing purposefully into Kara’s kneecap, and Kara reaches for it under the blanket. She settles her hand over Lena’s ankle and watches as Lena’s chest falls in an exhale, as she blinks slowly, as her gaze drops somewhere below Kara’s eyes when Kara strokes her thumb across the inside of her ankle. She can feel Lena’s pulse thrumming under her fingers, can hear the uptick in Lena’s heartbeat, and she’s not sure if she’s struck by Maggie’s beer or all the little ways Lena’s body expresses itself, but she does know she wants more of both. When Alex yells that she’s ready though, Kara decides to just grab another beer instead.

“Alright everyone, pick your partner, but it doesn’t matter because I’m going to crush all of you,” Alex declares.

Maggie guffaws and James protests immediately, but Lena just pins Kara with a heavy gaze. 

“Do you want to be with me?” Lena murmurs, twisting her glass of whiskey around. 

Lena’s eyes flutter as Kara runs her thumb over her ankle again, and yes, Kara wants.

“Yeah.”

They don’t win. 

True to her word, Alex and Maggie beat the rest of them by nearly double. James and Winn immediately blame each other. Lena blames her whiskey, but she’s beaming broadly at Alex and Maggie, and Kara’s pretty sure she blames Lena’s jawline.

James and Winn are still bickering when they leave, hugging all the women goodbye and waving as they go. After Kara’s hugged her sister and Alex has moved on to say goodnight to Lena, Maggie comes up to her, staring her down with both eyebrows raised and a surprised but knowing smirk on her face. When she gives Kara a quick hug goodbye, she whispers “Good luck,” in her ear, and Kara hadn’t thought that far, didn’t realize she’d need it, but now her blood roars in her ears and her skin feels tingly as the door closes and she’s left alone with Lena in her apartment.

“Let me help you clean up,” Lena says quietly as she turns back around, and Kara turns to watch her go as she moves back toward the living room.

Lena goes around collecting the plates and silverware and folding up blankets while Kara busies herself with slotting everything into the dishwasher and getting rid of the takeout containers.

“All done,” Lena says a little later, smiling at Kara as she leans her hip against the counter. 

“Thanks for helping,” Kara responds, just as quietly. 

“Thanks for having me.”

“Anytime,” Kara whispers.

The nights have gotten a little cooler, and the sweater Lena is wearing is just a hair too big and way more casual than anything she’d wear to work, and Kara feels her chest swell with the knowledge that Lena’s comfortable enough now to relax a little with all her friends. It looks soft and warm, cashmere maybe, and Kara’s wrists quiver, hands itching to know how it feels. Lena’s looking up at her, watching her carefully while she worries her bottom lip between her teeth, and Kara swallows, her heart pushing so hard against the front of her ribs that it moves her forward into Lena’s space. 

It’s almost too much, the sudden smell of Lena’s perfume and how soft the sweater is under her hands as they slip around Lena’s waist, the green of her eyes as they widen and then flutter closed, and Kara kisses her. She kisses her and she swallows the pretty noise Lena makes, barely hears the answering whimper from her own throat as she flattens her palm along Lena’s spine to bring her closer. Lena’s back arches up into her, and Lena’s hand slides into her hair, and it feels like flying, soft and warm and breathless.

But Lena tips her chin backward, rests her forehead against Kara’s and nudges their noses together but then presses against Kara’s collarbone, and Kara pulls her head back and slowly, reluctantly blinks her eyes open. Lena’s lips are a little darker, a little shinier, a little fuller, but—  

“Wait, Kara, we can’t. I’m sorry,” Lena whispers, and Kara flicks her eyes up to Lena’s, confused. 

“Okay,” Kara whispers back, nodding dumbly as her brain catches up. “Why?” 

Lena’s palm is still on her collarbone, fingertips flat against the side of her neck, and Kara knows something’s not right, but Lena’s other hand is still lost in her hair, and her eyes are tender and her hands are warm, and it takes almost all of Kara’s willpower to let her own hands fall away from Lena’s waist.

“Your eyes are all glazed over and you seem… drunk, darling,” and just like that, Lena’s hands slide away. The loss is acute and Kara almost sways forward to chase them but stops herself. “We both are, honestly.”

Kara slumps, knowing Lena’s right as soon as she hears it, a label clicking into place for the sensory overload and the way her whole body’s been buzzing half the night.

“I can stay… make sure you get to bed okay, but then I need to go, okay? We can’t, not like this.” 

Lena’s ducking her head to get back into Kara’s field of view, but Kara crosses her arms over her stomach and turns her head away, suddenly both starkly cold and aflame with embarrassment all at once. 

“No, uh, I’ve got it. I can do that.”

“Kara.”

“It’s fine! Everything’s fine. I’m really sorry. Um, you’re right, Maggie told me to only have one and I didn’t listen, so. Good call,” she gives Lena a thumbs up and winces immediately, but Lena snags her hand out of the air.

“Kara, hey, it’s not a no, it’s just not tonight, okay? Will you text me tomorrow?”

Kara presses her lips together, still avoiding Lena’s eyes, but she nods. 

“Okay. Good,” Lena says, stilted. She lingers. “Goodnight, Kara.”

***

Kara avoids her phone all morning.

She wakes up without a hangover but puts off getting out of bed anyway, replaying the night before over in her head and burying a groan in her pillow at the embarrassment that floods through her like ice water.

Walking out of her bedroom is no help. There’s a ghost of Lena on her couch, eyes half-lidded and foot pressing into her own knee. She sees another flash of Lena on her way to the kitchen, in the spot next to the fridge where she’d nudged Lena’s hips back against the counter before they- crap. Kara flushes with shame again, sinks into a chair at her dining table instead, and buries her face in her hands.

She can’t help but feel stupid: for not noticing Lena was drunk, for not noticing how affected she was herself, for treating this tender, delicate thing that’s been building with Lena with less care than it deserved. It rolls around in her stomach and makes her think seriously about nose diving herself into the ocean when she imagines all the other ways the night could have gone if she and Lena had had their normal one or two glasses of wine instead.

“It’s not a no, it’s just not tonight, okay?”

When she finally summons the courage to text Lena, Kara finds that Lena’s beaten her to it.

Are you okay? How are you feeling?

I’ll give you space if you want it Kara, but I don’t need any, okay? Whenever you’re ready

Kara takes a deep breath, nervous. 

I’m so sorry, Lena

Don’t be, the reply comes so fast, Kara wonders if Lena’s been watching her phone as much as Kara’s been avoiding her own. Lena’s still typing, but Kara presses on. 

It’s no excuse, but if I’d known you were drunk, I never would have done that. I was a little out of it and distracted and I didn’t realize, but that doesn’t make it okay

Lena’s typing stops, and nothing happens for a moment. Kara feels like her heart stops while she waits, wishes they were having this conversation in person. Why hadn’t she just flown over there? Maybe she should just— 

Don’t, I was more worried about you, I didn’t realize you were drunk either, Lena’s reply comes through, and Kara clutches her phone tighter, pulls it a little closer as she keeps reading. Kara, if you didn’t notice, I was giving you a green light all night

Her heart pounds. Her blood rushes in her ears as she reads Lena’s words over and over again. 

I think I did notice

I think you did too

Kara takes a deep breath, tips her head back to glance up at her ceiling while she tries to figure out what to say. There are a million things she wants to say, a million things she wants to do, but her mind scratches like a record on the notion that whatever this is could actually happen

Her phone vibrates again and Kara jerks her head down, but it’s a text from Alex that just says, Need you at work. Now. and Kara curses under her breath as she rushes for her suit.

I’m so sorry, I’ve gotta go. Can I call you later?

I’ve got the news on, I see it. Go

The day flies by before Kara can blink and later disappears as she works with the National City Police and the DEO on a hostage situation lead by a couple rogue aliens. By the early hours of the morning, the hostages are safe, but the aliens are still at large, and Kara has a free moment for the first time since that morning. She’s back at the DEO, resting under a sunlamp for a couple hours in lieu of getting a full night’s sleep while Alex dozes on a cot next to her.

I’m sorry I never called. It’s not what you think, I promise. We’re still working over here

Kara worries her lip, spinning her phone around in her hands as she listens to Alex breathe quietly in her sleep. 

I know, Kara, don’t worry

Kara exhales in relief, a smile tugging its way onto her face as Lena’s second reply appears just as quickly. 

I’ve been following it on the news today. Are you alright? Can I help?

No! Kara’s fingers fly over her screen as she responds. We’re after the only criminals in all of National City who aren’t interested in you. Please don’t. We’re totally gonna nab them tomorrow. See you then?

They do totally nab them the next day. And if you ask Kara, it’s heroic and perfectly executed and no one even gets injured, but she doesn’t get to see Lena afterward. Lena spends the day prepping for board meetings, because apparently unexpectedly firing a prominent board member with no notice causes stock prices to dip, and instead Kara spends the evening with a half-gallon of ice cream and goes to bed at eight. 

Four days later, after more board meetings and Supergirl emergencies and writing articles about Supergirl emergencies, Kara paces her apartment after dinner, worried that by the time she actually gets to see Lena, whatever’s between them will have fizzled out before it has a chance to start.

The cool air wafts in from outside as Kara gets ready for bed, and she slumps over her sink after she finishes brushing her teeth. She and Lena have talked briefly over the last few days, mostly to check in and say hi between meetings. Kara had sent her a picture of a cute puppy she’d passed on the street, and Lena had sent her an advance of a press release detailing L-Corp’s new female board member. 

But the conversations have been a little too quick, and Kara misses the banter. She misses Lena in general, and so as she starts getting dressed for bed and another cool breeze blows in, she grabs her phone.

What even is this weather? I can never decide on which pajamas to wear. My blanket is hot but it’s cold in my apartment. So I’m either hot in bed or cold when I get out of bed in the morning

Over the last few days, when she’s not in a board meeting, Lena’s been responding to her in an instant. 

Fascinating. Is this a problem you face often? 

Kara huffs, debating for a second and then grabbing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, tugging them on before she replies.

I mean, not to brag or anything, but I kind of feel like this shouldn’t be a problem for me. I should have super temperature regulation. Or something

I think you and I have different definitions of the word “brag,” darling

Kara huffs again, rolling her eyes affectionately even as a smile begins to take over her face. 

Well what kind of pajamas do you wear then? Shorts for under the blanket but long sleeves so your arms don’t get cold? Flannel? Who even knows? The weather should just decide what it’s going to be and not be all… in-between like this

There’s a pause then. Kara watches as Lena’s typing dots appear and then disappear, and then— 

I don’t

Kara narrows her eyes, re-reading their conversation to try to connect the dots.

Don’t what?

Wear pajamas

Ever? But it’s late. Aren’t you in bed?

Yes

But you’re not wearing pajamas

No

Kara blinks at her phone, is pretty sure that a whine escapes her throat but is also pretty sure that a couple of her senses just short-circuited. 

Oh. 

Oh.

She puts her phone down for a second to gather herself, squeezing her eyes shut against the flush that zips through her. It doesn’t help much. She feels overheated and it makes her imagine things, and now she’s taking way too long to respond. 

Oh. That’s good to know. I’ll keep that in mind

“Oh my god,” Kara groans as soon as she sends it, mortified at her own inability to say anything remotely coherent, and grabs a pillow to smother her face in it. She feels her phone vibrate again from where she dropped it on her stomach and peeks open one eye to look at it.

You should

Kara whimpers into her pillow. 

Lena seems to take pity on her then, and Kara’s not sure whether she’s disappointed or grateful. 

Anyway. Kara, if your heat isn’t working, do you want me to just come over and fix it for you? 

A small smile makes its way over Kara’s face as she reads it, and she takes a breath to calm her racing heart. She does want Lena to come over, has wanted Lena to come back since game night when they almost— Her stomach flips as she thinks about what a night in for just the two of them could mean. 

“It’s not a no, it’s just not tonight, okay?”

“It’s not a no.”

Kara takes another deep breath and writes back.

I don’t need you to fix my heat, but come over anyway? Movie night tomorrow? 

Lena’s reply comes immediately, again, and it makes that warmth start twining its way through her ribs again.

I’d love to, Lena says. I’ll pick up dinner. Chinese? We can get as many potstickers as you want

Ugh, potstickers

Why “ugh?” You love potstickers

It was a good “ugh.” Like ughhhh potstickers. I made the noise and everything

There’s a pause then, and Kara wonders if Lena’s completely bewildered, or if she’s staring at her phone with a fond smile, like Kara is.

And what noise would that be?

You know when you eat something amazing and you just make this kind of noise because it tastes so good?

… I think I might. Why don’t you tell me what this noise sounds like

You can hear it when you come

“Oh my god,” Kara whimpers, slapping her hand over her face. “Oh my god.” She sees that Lena’s started typing and rushes to cut her off before Lena says something that ruins her. 

To my apartment! I meant maybe you’ll hear it when you’re at my apartment. Because we’ll be eating potstickers

Kara can practically see Lena’s smirk from across National City and covers her face with her palm again.

Okay, darling 

***

Kara drums her fingers against the kitchen island. She has two bowls of snacks, popcorn to make later, blankets ready, and a sweatshirt set aside because Lena always gets cold. And she baked brownies. There’s still a few minutes until Lena’s supposed to get there, and Kara’s debating taking a few laps around National City just to calm her nerves. 

It’s just Lena. 

It’s just Lena

When she finally hears a knock at her door, she opens it to find Lena standing there with two huge bags of Chinese food and a soft smile. She doesn’t have her usual bottle of wine, and the realization makes Kara’s stomach flip over. 

“Hey,” Kara says, short and clipped. She offers up a wave as well, and Lena just smiles warmly at her.

“Hey.”

Lena sets both bags down and wraps her arms around Kara, and Kara smoothes her hands over Lena’s back, allowing herself to relax. The sweater Lena’s wearing is even softer than her other one, and Kara’s taken by it for a second before the smell of the Chinese food makes her stomach rumble. 

Lena laughs as she pulls away, eyes bright and dancing. 

“Right, then. Let’s eat, shall we? It’s rude to keep a lady’s stomach waiting.” Lena picks the food back up and carries it toward the kitchen, tossing Kara a wink over her shoulder. Kara just barely keeps herself from crushing the doorknob as she pushes her front door closed.

They’re sitting on the couch later, making their way through the last of the popcorn while a movie plays, when Kara leans over to set the bowl on the coffee table. She’s happy, she realizes. She’s full of potstickers and m&ms and nervous energy and fondness, and she has Lena sitting next to her. Lena’s heartbeat is a tick faster than usual, she’s sitting a little closer than usual, and Kara lets out a happy sigh. 

“Hey,” Lena murmurs, turning her head to look at Kara. Lena rests her chin on her own shoulder, and a small smile tugs its way into the corner of her mouth. “Everything okay?”

It’s dark in the room, but the light from the tv and the one dim lamp Kara has on in the corner illuminate Lena’s face enough to see her. Her hair is a little rumpled from resting her head back against the couch cushions, and she has a calm, content expression on her face as she regards Kara. 

“Yeah,” Kara whispers.

Lena’s eyebrows raise just a hair before she squints a little. “Talk to me,” Lena whispers back, eyebrows raising a little further when Kara doesn’t answer her right away. “Hey...”

Lena says it quietly, reaching her hand out a couple inches under the blanket to rest over the ankle Kara has tucked up on the couch, and it makes Kara’s eyes droop. She watches Lena carefully, traces her eyes over the defined features of Lena’s face, and when she feels a thumb stroke slowly over the skin on the inside of her ankle, she lets her knee fall to the side and pushes forward. 

She touches her forehead to Lena’s, nudges Lena’s nose gently with her own, and rests her hand on Lena’s arm, thumb stroking over the soft material of her sweater. Lena’s eyes have fluttered closed, and her breath comes out in a warm puff against Kara’s lips, but Kara wants to be sure

“Hey,” she finally answers in a whisper, moving her hand from Lena’s arm to cup her jaw. “Is this—” 

Lena kisses her. 

Kara lets out a soft noise into Lena’s mouth, sliding her hand into Lena’s hair and stroking the hinge of her jaw, her other hand seeking out the curve of Lena’s waist. Lena’s lips are so soft, delicate but insistent as they press into her own, and she smells so good, and Kara is struck, taken, done for. 

Lena’s arms wrap around her shoulders, nails scratching gently at the nape of Kara’s neck and sending a shiver down Kara’s spine. Kara slides her arm fully around Lena, presses kiss after kiss to her mouth while pulling her closer, closer, closer, and Lena sighs happily against her when Kara pulls back just enough to rest her forehead against Lena’s again. 

“Hey,” she murmurs again.

“Hello,” Lena whispers, a smile teases onto her lips, and Kara can feel it against her own.

“Yeah,” Kara breathes, as the pads of Lena’s fingers start tracing patterns on her neck. “Everything’s just fine.”