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they built a statue of us

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Kara likes to touch people.

That much is obvious just by observing her for any length of time.

She likes to reach out and rub someone’s shoulder, or give them a reassuring hug, or even just to give them a quick clap on the back.

Kara likes to touch people. In small, innocuous ways.

It’s a fact of the universe just as much as how Alex doesn’t like to be touched by people.

That is, any people other than Kara.

There has been the odd girlfriend here and there, of course, that managed to grow comfortable enough with Alex that she was actually able to enjoy her touch. But they’ve been few and far between and most people that Alex interacts with on a daily basis know that they should keep their hands to themselves if they don’t want to lose them.

So naturally, when Supergirl shows up at the base, people talk.

Because what they notice first about Agent Danvers at that point, is that she tolerates Supergirl’s touch. In fact, some speculate that she even enjoys it. She never squirms away from a hand on her shoulder, or a gentle side hug, or even the odd stroking of her back. She leans into the caresses.

Supergirl likes to touch people, so the other agents aren’t confused about that, but they start speculating about Alex’s relationship to the superhero. Some say that Alex is harboring a tragic crush that has long since gone unreciprocated. Others throw in the idea that Supergirl and Alex have secretly been dating since before Supergirl revealed herself. It’s a gossip mill that Kara tries to ignore as best she can and Alex has no idea exists, because none of the agents are stupid enough to speculate about her personal life where she could possibly catch them.

 

+++

 

“Do you want to get another sticky bun to go?” Alex asks, leaning back in her seat at Noonan’s and staring at the ravaged plate in front of Kara. Her own half-eaten bagel with cream cheese sits on her side of the table, and Kara eyes it with some interest. Alex gestures to it. “You can have that, if you want it.”

But Kara only shakes her head.

“No, you should finish it. You don’t eat enough as it is,” she says, looking down at her empty plate. “I’m just thinking of getting another sticky bun here and then one to go on top of that.” She slides her finger along the top of the plate in the hopes of gathering up some of the leftover sugar from her first three buns.

“Is your lunch break long enough to handle that?” Alex asks casually, steadfastly ignoring the jab at her eating habits. No matter how much she eats, Kara always complains, and Alex has long since given up on trying to convince her otherwise. “Remember last time you turned up too late to Ms. Grant’s office?”

Kara pouts at her.

“I was half a minute over the allotted time,” she grumbles, like it still smarts her that her perfect record has been dinged, even with superspeed and her super-cheaty method of skipping the elevator in favor of flying in through an open window. Looking down at her watch, she contemplates her options, and Alex takes another bite of her bagel and washes it down with a sip of coffee. “Maybe I shouldn’t…”

“If you end up starving, you can always call me and I’ll drop something off for you at work,” Alex offers, knowing her D.E.O. overlords aren’t likely to fire her for taking an extra couple of minutes to keep their resident superhero happy. And with D.E.O. overlords, she of course means J’onn.

With another pout, Kara finally nods.

“Okay, I guess,” she acquiesces, leaning across the table and snagging Alex’s bagel from her fingers. “But only because I know you probably still haven’t eaten any of the breakfast I made you this morning. You’ll eat it at the D.E.O. later, yeah?”

Obediently, Alex nods.

“Yes, dear,” she teases, before flagging down one of the waitresses.

“I mean it, Alex,” Kara says, setting down the bagel and glaring at Alex from over her glasses. “It has all the nutrients a human body may need to get through the day. And I even put a little surprise in there for you!”

The surprise being a bar of chocolate that Kara has deigned to share with her from her stash.

“I know, I know,” Alex replies, looking up at the waitress, who smiles at them. “Can we get another sticky bun to go, please?” Alex hands over her credit card. “Just put it on my tab, as usual.”

With a nod and a verbal confirmation, the waitress retreats again, and Kara leans forward with an adorable scowl that makes Alex want to reach over and ruffle her hair.

“You don’t have to keep paying, you know? We can split. Ms. Grant pays me really well now,” Kara insists, finishing off the bagel as soon as she’s done talking. Her left cheek bulges like a chipmunk’s, and Alex can’t help the fond expression that creeps over her lips.

“Old habits die hard,” Alex replies with a shrug, pushing her empty plate and cup away from her and crossing her legs under the table. Truth is, paying for their lunch is something that Alex cherishes. It makes her feel like she’s still taking care of Kara, even though they’re both grown up and Kara has taken up the mantle of Supergirl. It’s not something she’ll ever give up easily.

Reaching over the table, Kara takes Alex’s hand and squeezes it as softly as she can.

“Why are you so cute?” she asks, and Alex rolls her eyes.

“Shut up,” she grumbles, just as the waitress returns to their table with Alex’s credit card and the to-go bag with Kara’s sticky bun. Turning to her, Alex tries to muster up a smile that won’t look as embarrassed as she feels. “Thanks, Laci.”

“Of course,” Laci replies, handing Alex the card and Kara the bag. “Anything for my favorite couple.”

Heat floods Alex’s cheeks as she opens her mouth to refute the statement, but Kara cuts in before she can so much as utter any form of rebuttal.

“Thanks,” she says, squeezing Alex’s hand a little tighter. “You know, we’re thinking of getting engaged, and I’ve been trying to convince Alex to do it here. I bet you Morgan would give us a couple of sticky buns on the house for it, right?”

Speechless, Alex glares at Kara with all the righteous rage in her heart while Kara just continues to smile at Laci, who places her hand over her heart and smiles so wide Alex doesn’t have the heart to tell her that Kara is messing with her. Or maybe Kara isn’t even messing around, because she looks just as genuinely excited.

“That would be so beautiful,” Laci replies, sounding like she’s working very hard to keep her voice down despite her obvious excitement. “Do you guys already have rings picked out and everything? Oh my god, you know Morgan would freak out.”

“We were thinking of getting engagement bracelets. I hear they’re all the rage in Europe,” Kara says, and Alex tunes herself out at that point. She’s not sure why Kara is putting on such a show, especially when she knows they’ll be here again tomorrow and by that point every staff member will have heard about her little spiel. And then someday, they’ll start asking where the engagement bracelets are, and everyone will assume that Alex was too cowardly to get on one knee.

When Alex would get on one knee in a heartbeat for Kara, if she…

Furrowing her brows, Alex stamps out that train of thought. She has no idea where it came from and she has no desire to follow it to its origin. There’s no way Kara would ever want to marry her anyway, not in a million years. They love each other, but Kara deserves the world, not someone like Alex who can barely keep her social life together outside of work.

“I would love, love, love it if you did it here. But please do it on one of the days I’m working. I would hate to miss it!” Laci says as she continues to press her little notepad against her chest, her smile still almost too wide for her face.

“Alex needs to coordinate that. She’s the one who will do the proposing,” Kara says, smirking over at Alex, who continues to glare at her.

“What happened to you wanting to pay? Why can’t you be the one to propose?” she asks, feeling utterly ridiculous for even talking about this farce of a sham marriage that will never come to fruition. To her annoyance, Laci and Kara only snigger.

“I love you guys. I hope you have a great day,” Laci says, before waving to them and excusing herself to go help a different table. In order to spare her any humiliation, Alex doesn’t complain to Kara about anything as they leave Noonan’s.

But as soon as they’re outside and the door shuts behind them, Alex grabs Kara by the sleeve of her jacket and starts dragging her in the direction of CatCo.

“What the hell, Kara?” Alex asks, staring ahead of herself as she tugs Kara into an alleyway. “You can’t just go around telling people we’re about to get engaged!” She crosses her arms over her chest and starts tapping her foot, while Kara stuffs her hands into her jacket pockets.

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” she says with a shrug, her blonde hair moving gently in the summer breeze even while surrounding by tall buildings. “It’s not like we know any of them outside of our lunch dates.”

Scowling, Alex tries to keep their eye contact.

“The big deal is that they’re not going to forget that you said that. Now, every time we come in, they’re going to wait for us to do something. They’ll be watching, either to see if I’ll get down on one knee or if those fancy European engagement bracelets will be on our wrists. Also… European? Really?” Alex is not quite sure why she’s so angry, but she knows that having to listen to a scenario that will never happen has left her feeling unsettled and ready to pop like the cork on a champagne bottle, spilling her emotions all over the floor.

Kara pouts.

“I couldn’t very well tell her that they’ll be Kryptonian bonding bracelets,” she says, stepping forward and right into Alex’s personal space. It’s not lost on Alex that she said will be, not would be, and that doesn’t settle Alex’s erratic heart one bit. “Are you ashamed of them thinking you and I will be bond mates?”

Refusing to back down, Alex stands her ground, even though Kara looms over her at this new angle.

“I’m not ashamed of anything. I just don’t want them staring at us and thinking I was too chicken to make an honest woman out of you.” She glares more insistently, narrowing her eyes and sticking out her jaw in defiance, while Kara places her hands at her waist in a move most reminiscent of Alex whenever she’s at the D.E.O.

“Well, you are, aren’t you?” Kara asks, lifting her nose like the haughty Kryptonian she loves to be on occasion.

“I’m what?” Alex shoots back, mirroring Kara’s pose and placing her own hands at her waist, too.

“Too chicken,” Kara says smugly, her blue eyes shining with mischief.

“To do what?” Alex feels heat break out on the back of her neck. She’s being pushed into a corner. A corner she does not want to be in. There are things she does not think about. Things that she has put in a neat little box with the label Not For Alex Danvers’s Perusal, and one of them is the thought of Kara as a woman, rather than as a foster sister.

Kara leans closer, her mouth right next to Alex’s ear.

“You’re too chicken to ask me to marry you,” she drawls, her every word sinking into Alex like a slap to the face. “Otherwise, clearly, we would already be married.” Her lips slide against Alex’s cheek as she pulls back.

But before she can go too far, Alex’s hands are curled around the lapels of her jacket.

“What are you doing, Kara?” Alex asks, her fingers trembling. She’s feeling out of her element. This is not how Kara is supposed to act. This is like Red Kryptonite all over again, only worse, because this time Alex knows Kara isn’t on anything.

“Trying to give you a hint,” Kara offers, curling her hands around Alex’s wrists and squeezing them gently.

“A hint?” Alex asks, looking at Kara’s hands as Kara draws her thumbs along the insides of Alex’s forearms. Her touch normally soothes Alex, but in this moment, it brings out other emotions that Alex isn’t sure she has names for. Names give meaning to things.

With a soft laugh, Kara pulls Alex into a hug.

“I love you,” she breathes into Alex’s hair, wrapping Alex up in her warmth. She smells amazing like always, like her Kryptonian body is designed to soak up all of Alex’s favorite scents. “I know you need time to process, but I will love you no matter what you decide to take away from this conversation.”

She kisses Alex’s temple, and then lets her go.

“I’ll let you go, okay? Or else I really will be late,” Kara continues, reaching out one last time and stroking Alex’s cheek. “Call me later?”

“Yeah,” Alex confirms, knowing she will spend the entire rest of the day feeling out of sorts thanks to this interaction but unwilling to show it. Not that Kara doesn’t already know, most likely. She’s always been able to understand Alex better than Alex understands herself. “Break a leg at work.”

“Thanks,” Kara says, before turning away, looking around to see if anyone’s watching and then flying off into the sky to make it to CatCo in record time, leaving Alex behind in the alley with nothing but confusion.

 

+++

 

Alex is very smart.

She knows this. Her mother knows this. Her employers know this.

Alex did not finish her bio-engineering degree by asking someone else to write her PhD thesis for her. She’s smart, and she’s hardworking and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty in her quest for knowledge.

This mystery, however, she’s not sure how to crack.

She has two options.

One: Kara is messing with her and wants her to make a fool of herself so Kara has an excuse to call her adorable, something she knows Alex hates with all the passion in her heart. Or at least she pretends to because it fits with her image.

Or two: Kara wants to marry her.

While option one is unlikely, option two is absolutely out of this world insane.

The whole conversation vexes her to the point that she leaves work much earlier than she usually would. She doesn’t even wait for Kara’s daily status report as Supergirl. As soon as she realizes she can’t focus on her work, she excuses herself and drives home to her apartment to crack open a beer and ponder the deep questions of life.

Like whether something very heavy has fallen on Kara’s head to make her challenge Alex to propose to her.

By the fourth beer, Alex is no less confused, only now she’s also tipsy.

Naturally, because she’s smart, she calls Lois to ask her about Kryptonian bonding bracelets. Since Clark is mostly human on the inside, she’s not surprised that he and Lois ultimately settled on engagement rings, but she does mention to Alex that she and Clark discussed the topic of bracelets, too.

The thing is, Alex doesn’t want to know anything about them. Not really. But she still asks Lois about everything she remembers on the topic and starts sketching a pair on a notepad she finds in her bedroom.

In her inebriated state, it takes her far too long to realize Kara is standing next to her bed, clad in her Supergirl uniform and looking a little concerned. Her brows are furrowed, creating that cute dimple in her forehead that Alex loves poking.

“Hey,” Alex says, trying not to sound guilty as she looks at the clock on her bedside table. It’s about five minutes after midnight and she definitely forgot to call Kara in her quest to discover the best way to combine her and Kara’s names to form a new Kryptonian crest of power. She didn’t get very far and her sixth beer sits mostly full next to her alarm clock.

“Should I be concerned?” Kara asks, looking at the beer and then at the many pieces of paper strewn about the room. Her hands hang loosely at her sides, her red boots as clean and shiny as always. It doesn’t look like she’s had to put out any fires tonight. Good for National City.

“Um…” Alex starts, blinking up at Kara. “No?”

With a sigh, Kara sits down on the edge of the mattress, her cape bunching up under her.

“Are you still freaking out about lunch?” Kara places her fingers on the mattress, her pinky dangerously close to Alex’s socked feet. “I thought you’d be done with that by now.” She leans a little closer. “It’s okay to stop freaking out. It’s really not that big of a deal.”

Alex pouts at her.

“I’m not freaking out,” she defends herself, pulling her knees to her chest and curling her arms around them.

Raising one eyebrow, Kara points at the bottle of beer.

“How many of those have you had?” she asks, sounding half-disapproving and half-amused.

“Not nearly enough to count as freaking out.” Alex lifts her foot and pokes Kara in the stomach.

“Whatever,” Kara shoots back, before laying down next to Alex and kicking off her boots so they fall off the bed. Her cape spreads out underneath her, and Alex feels the strangest desire to curl up on the edge of it. “What are you drawing?”

Huffing, Alex picks up her notepad again and shows her latest attempt to Kara.

“I’m trying to combine our names in Kryptonian to make a pretty crest, but I’m not having any luck. They all look wonky and weird. I don’t know how your ancestors did it.” The alcohol is swimming in her blood; enough to loosen her tongue.

Kara takes the notepad and examines it, her eyes growing misty to Alex’s great horror.

“This is beautiful,” Kara says, voice thick with emotion. “I love it.” Hugging the notepad to her chest, Kara turns her face to the side and looks up at Alex with an expression that’s too real and earnest. Alex looks away. “Is this for our bonding bracelets?”

“I guess,” Alex says, stretching out her legs and wriggling her toes. “Not that we’ll ever have any.”

Another sigh escapes Kara.

“Not if you don’t ask me, we won’t,” she throws back, folding her hands over the notepad on her stomach. “I’ve only been dropping hints for twelve years. You will probably be ready any day now. Any day.”

“Twelve years? But that—you got here—” Alex looks over to Kara, who gives her a meaningful stare, and Alex slaps her hands over her face and groans into them. “I am a clown.” She slaps her face a little more, until Kara pulls back her hands.

“I agree,” she says sweetly, kissing Alex’s cheeks. “But you’re my clown.”

With a grumble, Alex accepts the kisses to her face, turning her face a little more to the side so Kara’s lips catch the side of her mouth. It tingles, and Alex doesn’t move away when Kara lingers. Nor does she flinch when Kara’s left hand cups her neck.

“I’m very smart,” Alex murmurs, sliding her nose against Kara’s.

“I know,” Kara agrees with a warm chuckle, her thumb stroking Alex’s pulse point, which jumps erratically, unsure how to handle Kara’s sudden proximity. Or the feeling of her soft lips against Alex’s. Because then, they’re kissing, and Alex falls into it headfirst.

Her brain, previously made tipsy from the beer, is now fully drunk. Drunk on Kara’s touch.

“I’m serious,” Alex says between nuzzles and pecks, her brows furrowed more out of a desire to convey that she’s not a fool for failing to pick up on Kara’s gentle hints over the past twelve goddamn years on this green earth.

“Alex,” Kara says, sounding much too fond. “You’re exactly my kind of stupid.”

And really, Alex can’t argue with that.

 

+++

 

Kara likes to touch people.

But she likes to touch Alex most of all.