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The Gift

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“You — you’re in love with me?” Lena’s voice wavers, buckling under the weight of her hope. Her breath catches in her throat, lodged there, as though fearful that the minute movement of her chest rising would ruin the moment. Lena waits, frozen, her entire being silently pleading for this to be real, to not be some kind of warped trick. She thinks it would blow her heart to pieces, the fragments spread too far to ever become whole again.

“I am,” Kara nods. “I think I have been for a long time, but it seemed unfair to admit it, even to myself.” Kara swallows, her throat bobbing. “I — If I couldn’t be honest with you about who I was, then I couldn’t expect you to love me back. Not the whole me, the real me, but I think — I think you do love me back.”

It hangs in the air between them — a spark, a flame that smolders and smokes, that pleads to be nurtured amidst the threat of being snuffed out entirely.

In truth, Lena thinks she’s loved Kara for as long as she’s known her. She doesn’t think it was the numerous times Kara saved her life, or perhaps even the positive articles she wrote about her, but their lunch dates. The random ones, when Kara would just appear one day with her arms loaded with food, murmuring disapprovingly about Lena working herself to death.

They’d sit in her office, eating and talking, just allowing the world to go on without them for an hour or so. Lena didn’t really notice it at the time, perhaps blinded by the kind smiles and attention, but Kara’s excuses to leave were always flimsy. There was always a poor reason for her abrupt exits, and Lena knows now it was always due to a Supergirl emergency.

It’s something she grew to resent after finding out the truth about Kara, but perhaps Lena isn’t looking at the full picture. Kara’s lies, and poor excuses, were needed for one important reason. She needed to leave in the first place because she was there . Kara was spending what little free time she had with her . If she didn’t truly care then the lunches would never have happened, and Lena would never have known about how often Kara had to rush off.

When Kara steps forward again, close enough for Lena to feel her breath on her cheek, it’s like the world stops. Lena’s tongue darts out to wet her impossibly dry lips, and she doesn’t miss the way Kara’s eyes briefly dart down to them.

It shouldn’t be this easy. It can't be this easy. Nothing in Lena’s life up to now had even hinted at something this wonderful, this special, happening to her. She’s always been a Luthor, a pariah, someone people would normally make friends with purely to gain something. Her real friendships are few and far between — Andrea, Sam, Kara, and the friendships she made through extension.

No-one else ever seemed to have the patience, the genuine desire, to actually get to know the person behind the carefully built wall. Lena was always Lex Luthor’s younger sister, someone to be wary of, to stay clear of. She’d learned a long time ago to never expect the kindness that others are shown, to always be the outsider looking in, her breath fogging up at the glass as others went out and grabbed the lives they wanted.

So, no, it shouldn’t be this easy, but when Kara’s soft lips capture her own, Lena doesn’t have the desire to push her away. She melts into it, their bodies moulding together in a way that soothes Lena and gives her strength at the same time. The air around them seems to crackle and block out everything else, Lena only able to focus on warm lips and the gentle hands around her waist. 

She expects Kara to jump back as soon as it ends, and Lena braces herself for the pain of realization and rejection. What she doesn’t expect is for Kara’s forehead to rest against her own, blue eyes staring so deeply into green that Lena is convinced Kara is gazing right into her soul. It’s surreal, unexpected, and she’s too scared to even breath in case it shocks Kara out of her trance.

“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time,” Kara murmurs, timid and pleading. It seems, Lena realizes, that Kara is just as terrified as she is. Fearful of the rejection that she’s already had to face several times since Lena found out her true identity, unable to truly imagine being able to survive another one.

“No more lies, Kara,” Lena whispers. “All in, or not at all. If you can’t have me in the inner circle, then leave, because I can’t be on the outside anymore. I can’t keep looking in, Kara. I think it would break my heart if things stayed the same.”

“It won’t,” Kara states, firm. “I promise you it won’t. I’m all in, too. You’ll know everything, Lena. No more secrets, I don’t want to hide from you anymore.” She sighs softly, her arms tightening around Lena as she pulls her closer. A smile plays on her lips when Lena rests her head against her shoulder, not missing the deep, relieved exhale that tickles her neck. “We’ll go slow, okay? There’s no rush and no expectations — not from me.”

“I don’t know,” Lena huffs out her amusement, “I think Andrea is ready to knock our heads together at this point.”

“Don’t worry, I think I can take her.” Kara sweetly pecks Lena’s temple, “come to my place on Friday for game night. The others are dying to see you, but they didn’t want to intrude. Please?” Kara sounds so small, so desperate, that Lena can’t find it in her heart to say no. “We won’t talk about it unless you want to. We just want to spend some time with you, and even Andrea has somehow been targeted in Eliza’s sights.”

“Your Mom seems determined to single handedly save all of the strays in National City,” Lena notes, but with no malice in her tone. “I don’t know where she finds the energy to do so.” 

“She just has a lot of love to give,” Kara chuckles. “She always has, and she’s like a dog with a bone once she finds someone to give it to, so you should probably get used to that. You should get used to all of us. You’re ours now, Lena, and we’re gonna look out for you whether you like it or not.”

Kara winces at the shrill beeping in her ears, her eyes slipping closed as she huffs out her frustration. Her arms loosen around Lena and she pulls back, her hands still lingering on her hips.

“There’s an emergency,” Lena mumbles, resigned.

“I’m sorry, I —”

“It’s okay,” Lena gently interrupts. “It’s alright, Kara. I understand.” Her hand shakily reaches out to cup Kara’s cheek, her thumb softly stroking the soft skin. “We have all the time in the world to talk about it. We’ll get there,” she murmurs. “Go save the day, Supergirl.” Lena doesn’t miss the way Kara lights up, her smile brighter than the sun that powers her. 

Kara lingers for only a second more, blue eyes shining as she finally jets herself into the sky. Lena watches her go, hair fluttering in the breeze left in Kara’s wake. Watery eyes track the red and blue figure across the skies until Kara is out of sight, Lena’s heart pounding against her ribs as she tightly grips to the balcony wall.

When she closes her eyes, Lena can still feel Kara’s hands around her waist and her lips gently brushing hers. It’s as though her body is reassuring her that Kara will be fine, that she’ll come back to her — that she always will.

She sighs, pushing away from the wall and forcing herself to step back into her office. Her eyes flit towards the decanter of scotch, but Lena purses her lips and shakes her head. She doesn’t need it. Constantly searching for the bottom of a bottle was her father’s life, it’s not going to be hers. 

Lena already has the love her father was searching for.

---- ---- ---- 

Her plans to throw herself into work are thwarted by her newfound family, and Lena can’t even bring herself to be irritated by it. Her heart swells whenever her phone rings, or her secretary announces a lunchtime visitor, and it pounds erratically whenever she hears the tell-tale thump of boots landing on her balcony.

They’re careful, though, unwilling to overwhelm her. Visits and calls are saved for Lunch breaks and late dinners when Lena eventually takes her work home with her. Most of them check in with her beforehand, with only Eliza and Kara feeling comfortable enough with just dropping by. Even Andrea, who has never in her life once considered that Lena might be busy, texts beforehand, albeit usually whilst she’s already on her way over.

It’s strange, really. Lena always thought she would find Kara’s close knit family to be smothering, to be overwhelming and too much entirely, but she feels herself thriving beneath the attention. There’s even a part of her that worries it won’t last, that the novelty will wear off, but Kara had laughed when Lena mentioned it, and even offered a semi-sarcastic good luck .

It’s why now, standing outside of Kara’s apartment building, Lena doesn’t understand the sudden rush of anxiety that tickles the hair on the nape of her neck. She longs to step inside, to ride the elevator and see the people waiting for her, but there’s a nagging at the back of her brain that gives her pause.

She’s not that five year old anymore. She’s not the cute child who struggled to tie her shoelaces and believed in Santa. She’s a twenty seven year woman with enough baggage to sink even the strongest ship. That’s not cute — not lovable. What happens when she goes up there and they remember her months of silence? When they can’t stop thinking about how Lena cut them off after learning the truth about Kara?

“Lena!” She frowns at the exasperated yell from above, wincing against the low sun as she searches for the owner. It’s Nia, hanging out of Kara’s open window whilst an irritated Alex grasps the back of her shirt. “Would you move your ass please?” Nia calls down, frowning as she glances behind her. “What? I said please.” Lena blushes when Nia looks back down at her, feeling like a complete idiot for just hanging around on the sidewalk.

“I’ll be right there,” Lena yells back, waving her hand. She’s left with no choice but to just go up there, and perhaps that’s for the best. As she steps inside the building, Lena runs out of time to overthink it, to let her mind run wild with unlikely possibilities.

Lena checks her appearance in the mirrored elevator, her hand trembling as she pushes her hair behind her ears. It’s unnecessary, ridiculous even, to be so nervous. These people have seen Lena at her absolute worst, and they still want her to be there. It’s something Lena will have to keep reminding herself until it sticks, which might be a while, but she has a feeling they'll give her all the time she needs.

When she steps out of the elevator, Lena finds Andrea hanging around in the hallway outside Kara’s apartment. Andrea pretends to be doing something on her phone, but Lena knows better. Lena knows because it’s something she used to do in boarding school — wait outside the cool kid’s secret party until Andrea got there, someone who would have her back.

“Hey,” Andrea awkwardly clears her throat, the act of nonchalance failing to hit its mark. “I was just finishing up and…” she trails off, a blush coloring her cheeks. “Eliza told me she’s leaving tomorrow and I just — I don’t want to talk about it,” Andrea mumbles. Lena takes pity on her, and doesn’t remind her that Kara’s super hearing means she’s known that Andrea has been there all along.

“I know it's pretty overwhelming, but she’ll be back soon,” Lena notes, her features scrunching sympathetically. “I think I’ll struggle with her not being here in person, too.” Andrea doesn’t respond, merely shrugs and pretends it doesn’t bother her. “We don’t have to go in yet if you need a minute,” she offers. Andrea meets her gaze for a long moment, her cheeks puffed out as she holds her breath, and Lena wonders if she’ll even go inside at all.

“Nah,” Andrea says after a moment, blowing out the stream of air. “You jump, I jump, right?”

“Right,” Lena nods, “always.” She reaches out to grasp Andrea’s hand in hers, squeezing reassuringly as she knocks on the apartment door. It’s Nia who lets them in, the younger woman thrilled to see Lena and even somewhat happy to see her boss with her.

“I’m with Lena!” Nia calls out, to no-one in particular, as she leads them inside. 

“No you’re not.” Kara steps out of the kitchen area, her eyes shining as they land on Lena. “Lena’s on my team. My house, my rules.” Kara sticks her tongue out at Nia and gently grasps Lena’s hand, pulling her away from Andrea and towards the couch. “She already has Brainy,” Kara murmurs conspiratorially, “she’s not getting you , too.”

Lena blushes profusely, unable to even make eye contact with anyone else as she gazes down at the hand wrapped around hers. Even seated, Kara doesn’t let go, and Lena doesn’t want her to. The touch keeps her grounded, makes it easier for Lena to deal with all of the attention from those around her. 

She feels a little bad for Andrea, though, but Eliza claims her for her team and doesn’t seem to be taking no for an answer. It’s so odd to be back here for another games night, this time as a grown woman — baggage and all, and tears sting at the corners of Lena’s eyes. It’s so simple. It's just a Friday night with a fun group of people, playing games and eating too much food, and yet it’s so much more.

It’s acceptance. It’s love. It’s being part of a family. It’s… everything Lena has ever wanted. People smile at her when she walks in the room, they offer her food when they’re going to the kitchen, they’re interested in what she has to say. It’s new, and it’s overwhelming, and she can see it mirrored in Andrea’s eyes whenever she looks over at her.

“You should go talk to her,” Kara murmurs into her ear. “She looks a little lost over there, and I think you’re the person she most needs right now.” Lena turns to look at her, surprised by how small the gap between them is. “I’ll keep your space warm,” Kara adds, a small smile curling her lips upwards as baby blue eyes dart down to Lena’s lips.

For a long moment, Lena is convinced that Kara is going to kiss her again, but the moment is shattered by a loud yell from an overexcited Nia. Lena smiles wryly, apologizing with her eyes as she pushes herself to her feet. She catches Andrea’s gaze and gestures towards the kitchen, surprised by how quickly Andrea jumps up to follow her.

It’s only been a couple of hours, but Lena isn’t surprised when Andrea tells her she’s almost ready to call it a night.

“Are you alright?” Lena asks. “I can go with you if you’d like?” Andrea’s smile is warm, touched by the offer, but she shakes her head.

“I’ve had a nice night, but it’s a lot,” Andrea murmurs. “I’m not really used to all of this, you know?” Lena smiles sadly, indeed knowing exactly what her friend means. For so long it was just the two of them against the world and everyone in it, and whilst Lena eventually found a new circle after their falling out, Andrea never seemed to.

“How about we have lunch tomorrow then?” Lena asks. “I can bring some overly expensive sushi to Catco and you can complain about your employees,” she teases. It works, bringing a smile to Andrea’s features.

“Are you sure you don’t just need an excuse to see Kara?” She’s gloating now, never a person to hide how much she enjoys being right about something. “I knew there was something there, I just figured you guys were aware of it, too.” Lena pulls a face, well aware of Kara, and her super hearing, just across the apartment from them.

“I — I don’t think I need an excuse anymore,” Lena admits. She nibbles on her bottom lip, glancing across at Kara as she battles Nia in a game that Lena hasn’t even seen before, never mind played. “We’re taking it slow,” she adds. “There’s no rush and there’s still some things to work out, but we’re getting there.”

“Good.” Andrea places her hand on Lena’s forearm, smiling gently. “I’m really happy for you, Lena. I mean it, you deserve this and Kara is…. Well, she’s a pain in my ass, but she’s a good person. They all are. I'm glad you have this support system around you, Lena."

"You do, too, you know." Eliza sidles up to them, concerned by the women hiding in the kitchen and whispering together. "You were here when it mattered, and that's the ticket into our family. One way trip, I'm afraid," Eliza smiles. Andrea drops her head, embarrassed, focusing on ordering herself an Uber instead of embracing the attention. 

"Hey," Lena frowns, lightly kicking Andrea. "You always yell at me for moping." She raises a brow, unsurprised by the challenging stare sent in her direction. 

" Nobody should be moping," Eliza murmurs. "Anyone would think you girls were happier closing yourself off to everyone,” she sighs. “I tell you what, if you stay in touch and look after yourself, I won’t bug you so much,” she says, stern eyes fixed on Andrea. “But only if you stop building that wall around you. We’re planning a weekly skype chat, you’re free on Sundays?”

Lena stifles a grin as she watches Andrea stutter and stumble over her words, thrilled beyond belief that there’s finally someone around that won’t hesitate to call her out. The blush that bleeds across Andrea’s features is a delightful added bonus, and Lena doesn’t bother to hide her amusement this time. Eliza may be kind and gentle, but she sure seems more stubborn than she and Andrea put together.

“I don’t care how much money you have, it can’t replace human contact,” Eliza continues. “I’ll be expecting to see you on the call, or on a private one beforehand. It’s your choice.” Eliza glances down at the alert on Andrea’s phone, sighing softly. “Alright, if you don’t leave now your cab is going to leave without you.” She steps forward and draws Andrea into her arms, “I mean it. Keep in touch or I’ll fly back out here much sooner than planned.” It’s honestly not much of a threat, but Andrea gives Eliza the meek nod she’s looking for.

“Got it,” Andrea murmurs, contrite. “I’ll speak to you soon.” Eliza pulls back and holds her at arm's length, scrutinizing her with a look that only a mother can bear. “I promise,” Andrea adds, attempting to appease the woman who would most definitely fly back just to scold her. Eliza softens, her eyes crinkling as she smiles at Andrea.

“Good, and perhaps bring back the free donuts at Catco? I think it broke Nia’s heart when she had to start taking her own snacks to work.”

“I can do that,” Andrea chuckles, rolling her eyes when she hears Nia cheer from somewhere behind them. Little eavesdropper. She glances towards Lena, “walk me out?”

Andrea is uncharacteristically quiet as they head downstairs and Lena watches as her jaw works furiously, and her eyes blink more than usual. She knows Andrea is struggling, so unused to having a mother figure to look out for her. Lena gets it, of course she does, but it's different. Andrea didn't get the opportunity to experience it as full on as she did, and Lena starts to realize that it truly was a gift.

An unwanted gift, one that was forced on Lena without her consent, but a gift all the same.

"She's right, you know," Lena eventually murmurs. "Eliza, I mean. You do deserve all of this." Andrea laughs wetly, leaning against the elevator wall.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to it," she admits. "It's just so….. strange. Everything about this has been, and I can barely wrap my head around it." Andrea pauses, rolling her eyes. "Look who I'm talking to," she sighs. "You know better than anyone how crazy this has been." She steps out of the elevator and heads to the main exit, pausing with her hand on the door. “I love you, Lena. You know that, right?”

“Of course I do, Andy,” Lena smiles, emerald eyes soft. “I love you, too.” They step outside, the cold air hitting them like a wall, and Lena instantly regrets not bringing her sweater.

“I hate how soft you make me,” Andrea scoffs, surreptitiously swiping at a stray tear. Lena lets her have the jab — she needs it. “I’ll see you at lunch?” Andrea sounds small, as though offering Lena an out that she’s terrified she’ll take.

“Definitely,” Lena murmurs. “I’ll bring the food, and you bring the gossip. Just like old times,” she grins, teasing. “Go on, get in the car and text me when you’re home safe and sound.” They share a tender look, memories flooding through their eyes, and Lena is surprised when Andrea engulfs her in a short, but oh so tight, hug, before rushing to her ride without so much as a backwards glance.

Andrea never did like anyone to see her cry.

Lena shivers as she watches the car disappear into traffic, startling when a warm coat is draped around her shoulders. She knows it’s Kara without even turning around, and she leans into the strong body pressed up against her own. They’re silent, content in each other’s company and alone for the first time this evening. 

Lena blushes when she feels Kara’s lips brush against her temple and, with a sudden rush of courage, spins around to face her. Their breath comes out in puffs of white clouds in the night air, their eyes meeting and screaming the words they’ve longed to say to each other. Lena feels her heart jump when Kara leans forward, gently bringing their lips together in a tender kiss.

Kara’s arms are tight around her, protecting Lena from whatever the universe wants to throw at her next. They’re so focused on each other, so lost in the moment, that neither of them notice Mxy watching them from across the street. He smiles, self satisfied and smug.

“I told them it would work,” he mutters, turning to walk down the block and hopping upwards to click his heels together. “Now, who’s next?”