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'Cause Baby You're a Haunted House

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Five years.

Time passed in a blur when one's least expecting it.

Kara's life was unrecognisable now in the most unthinkable of ways. Purpose, for one — an internship at Catco Worldwide Media landed her a small paranormal column in their magazine. (And if she had to occasionally reprise her role as Cat Grant's assistant… well it's a price worth paying.) Haunted mansions, abandoned amusement parks, and even grimy bathrooms — she'd done it all. That bright transcendent glow had long faded from her dreams. It didn't hurt anymore. Not with all the relief, the joy, the hope she'd witnessed.

It had scabbed over, flat and if Kara were inclined to pick at it, she knew with great certainty it would bleed. But she wouldn't; she didn't do that anymore. (Something she'd picked up from a past therapist, who unfortunately didn't take her affinity for the supernatural too well.)

She remembered though, in well-preserved detail, and she likely would for the rest of her days.

Then came the other purpose. The one that came knocking at her door, or rather her TV screen. It began with a downed plane and ended on her shoulders — a whole Boeing 737, that is. Past the screaming and crying and copious tubs of ice cream, they'd come to the conclusion that the world had room for more than one Super.

"Supergirl!" She halted mid-flight.

"Supergirl, help!" There, in the park!

Kara followed the cries — a young boy by the sound of it. Landing swiftly on the grass with her cape aflutter, she assumed her Supergirl pose.

She began. "What's…" And it ceased as if she never had. The boy was young, no more than nine years old by all estimates. But the resemblance was unmistakable. He and Will shared the same face.

It was far from the first time she'd encountered a doppelganger and it'd be far from the last considering the reputation she'd developed for talking to the air.

Just not him. Not until now.

"Supergirl!" He waved his arms above his small frame. "Waffles' stuck!"

Kara's gaze followed his finger. Up through the sparse branches and landing on a small yellow lab huddled up against the bark.

Yet another moment she was grateful for her gift of flight. It rendered traversing that ten feet to the topmost branch child's play.

"Well, how did you get up there?" She cooed at the dog in her arms. Waffles remained none-the-wiser, wiggling in her grasp. And when he failed to escape, the canine resorted to clambering up against her chest, lapping at her face instead.

Her boots yielded a soft crunch against the grass below. "Here you go. He's much of a climber." She laughed, watching as the pup swiftly switched targets and rendered the boy's face a canvas of dog slobber.

"Thank you Supergirl!" With that, they waved goodbye, their lives finally disentangling. Kara took off into the distance once more, her shoulders suddenly lighter. Will had been right that fateful day. Everything was fine now; he looked happy. Was Lena happy too? Kara couldn’t help but wonder every now and then — never for too long. Just a passing thought like the faceless lunch crowd on a busy Monday afternoon.

Anyway, her lunch break was almost over. And with Cat a little short on assistants at the moment, that meant returning with a coffee from the cart situated right outside the gleaming metal facade of Spheerical Industries. Black with exactly 3.5 grams of sugar at a blistering 180 degrees. She didn't know how Cat could tell if someone fudged the measurements but she could. Every time. And there would undoubtedly be hell to pay.

The cart owner greeted her with a sympathetic look when she reached the front of the queue.

Right, coffee done. Now she just needed to find a discrete alley and —

Something — no, someone — bounced off her side and Kara blindly lunged after them. With an arm secured around their waist, she plucked the airborne cup into her grasp.

"I'm so sorry…" Their eyes met, locked in place and stretching the definition of a 'moment' so hard it might just snap. She vaguely registered the tutting to her left, the narrowed eyes against her back — it all rushed to her in hindsight. But now, her focus was affixed on one, singular thing. One person. The words left her in a rush of hope. "Lena?"

The woman blinked at her. Forget the fact that they never remembered her, she could just be a stranger. Someone who shared no history with her and probably thought she was being exceedingly creepy.

"Kara?" She asked. Her eyes darted down and then back up again.

"Y-you remember?" That was when disaster struck. Kara's grip tightened in anticipation; the takeaway cup exploded.

Seemingly nonplussed, the woman righted herself in her arms. "Your nametag," she explained. Between her fingers sat her plastic holder. Formerly laying against her belly and now held up before her eyes, swiftly crushing her irrational hopes in one single look.

Kara Danvers

CatCo Worldwide Media

Junior Reporter

"I-I'm sorry. About… that," she gestured vaguely in the small space between them, hoping the woman would comprehend. Drops of scalding hot liquid splattered over her loafers. A reminder of sorts. "And about your coffee."

"Oh, it's fine." And it was at that moment when Kara realised — the woman's hand was still planted resolutely on her bicep. Their eyes met once more and for years to come, Kara would swear that that was the trigger. How awkward bumbling Kara Danvers managed to extricate those six words from her throat.

"Can I get you another coffee?" Six life-changing words.

The woman smiled. "As long as it doesn't end up on your shirt this time."

-------------

Her name was Lena, she learned. Lena Kieran and not Luthor. Formerly from Ireland and arriving in America at the tender age of six with her mother. Complete with an odd accent that the other children didn't find too endearing. (But Kara did. It slipped through whenever she got excited, whenever she laughed a little too hard.)

"For some reason, I was convinced it'd be wise to put up my Britney poster on the ceiling right above my bed." Lena paused for a sip, frowned, and set the coffee cup aside. "And that same night, I had the most mortifying dream."

"What was it?" Kara slid further towards the edge of her seat, her arms now jostling for space with the empty plate before her — its subtle sheen the only indication of the cinnamon rolls it once held.

"Well, I…" Lena reddened in that familiar manner, chewing on her bottom lip and Kara wanted nothing more than for her to remember.

"You?" She prompted. Her hand reached across the table in encouragement — a long-dormant muscle memory easily resurfacing. But this time, her fingers grazed something warm and so delicately solid.

Lena curled her own over Kara's, a sense of wonderment visibly overtaking her. She sputtered, almost forgetting to speak. "I had a dream that she floated down and kissed me."

Oh, she wasn't expecting that.

"I tore it down the next morning, screaming and my mom —"

It wasn’t meant to be. Kara's phone screamed from the edge of the table, an untimely interruption bursting the intimate bubble they'd crafted.

Incoming call from Cat Grant…

"Oh shoot." Kara scrambled to pick up.

"Keira, I don't recall sanctioning a three-hour long break. Could you help me check?" Glancing at her watch, she blanched. Three hours? Has it been that long already?

"Right away Miss Grant!" The end-call tone beeped — an omen foretelling her impending flatline. Oh Rao, oh Rao. There she stood, her hands fluttering in mid-air whilst she remained acutely aware of the unrelenting passage of time.

It clicked perhaps fifteen seconds too late. Grabbing the forgotten cup of coffee and her bag, she threw Lena a hasty wave. "I'm sorry! I have to go!"

She burst back into the bullpen to a heavy silence and a quick glance into the central glass-walled office was all the convincing she needed to assimilate. Inside, a bald man raved at an impassive Cat Grant — face growing redder by the second from his exertions.

Wincing as the sleek table shook under his clenched fist, Kara turned to find another surprise.

"Where were you?" Winn hissed.

"I-I spilled someone's coffee and I got them a new one." She whispered back. All eyes fell upon them. The prickling in her spine told her as much and from the uncomfortable look on his face, she wasn't the only one.

They shrunk into the privacy of Kara's flimsy cubicle walls. "For two extra hours?"

"I brought her to Noonan's and I got a little… distracted?"

Winn blinked. Slowly. As if relearning the very act itself. Fingers finding the bridge of his nose, he huddled back in. "You're gonna need a better excuse than that."

James strided past wearing a grim look. His lips moved wordlessly; Kara squinted. Good luck.

And just like that, her reckoning came.

"—My lawyers will hear about this! Unhand me!" Like a crack of lightning in a still clearing, the manic grunts and curses jolted everyone upright in their seats. Past the scruffling of his shoes and the heavy march of security, Kara could hear a noticeable uptick of noisy typing in the background.

"Stat!" Winn added unhelpfully before rushing back over to his desk.

The elevator announced its arrival but that's the least of her concerns now. Kara made the mistake of locking eyes with Cat Grant from across the bullpen and she had an unshakeable feeling that the forceful ejection was just foreshadowing. This was not going to end well.

"Keira, I see you're back." She approached, her voice steady, not betraying even an ounce of emotion despite the confrontation she'd just emerged from. And the one she was about to have.

"Your coffee," Kara smiled, hoping it to be some sort of peace offering.

She watched as she accepted the cup, pulled open the tab and took a small sip. "Perfect as usual." Kara sagged in relief. "Although, I was expecting it over two hours ago. Care to explain yourself?"

Oh no.

"Oh um I… took someone out for coffee." Winn made a strangled noise in his seat. The whole office tensed.

"I-I mean, because I spilled her coffee so naturally I'd have to make it up to her and I…" Kara trailed off, feeling the proverbial corner against her back. She knew a lost cause when she saw one and now she just needed to craft the perfect apology before she was handed a box and told to pack up.

In the ensuing silence, Kara's senses were held hostage. A pen clattered loudly against a table, someone cleared their throat uncomfortably, the elevator dinged. The sun was much too bright and Cat had that imperious brow raised and —

"Kara!" A double-take wasn't enough to convince her that it wasn't a mere hallucination. Kara rubbed furiously at her eyes to no avail.

There Lena stood, exchanging pleasantries with Cat while she gawked like she'd never seen a human before, let alone two.

"I've heard some rumblings about a certain nanotechnology launch from Spheerical Industries." Cat smiled that sly smile of hers while Lena laughed along good-naturedly. Spheerical Industries? What in the world?

"I suppose that's why Kara here was so captivated. She simply had to know more and forgot the time." Captivated she was, but not with whatever technology they were coyly referencing. Was that what Lena thought? That she was just there to wheedle her next big scoop out of her?

"I see you've been hard at work, Keira." And one appreciative nod later, Kara was sent away to conduct the most important interview of her life. She was just going to pointedly ignore the stares against her back as she fled.

In the safe confines of the elevator, Kara finally let herself collapse against the railings, savouring the comforting warmth against her —

Her gaze swung downwards to where their hands lay interlinked. Lena's quickly followed; neither moved to disentangle their quiet union.

"I'm sorry if I overstepped," Lena finally spoke. "You just looked like you could use some help."

"Lena, you saved my job! I'm sorry you needed to do that."

"It's fine, Kara. Nothing like a CatCo exclusive to reach the masses."

A stretch of silence befell them. Twenty-one, twenty, nineteen, eighteen —

"You know that wasn't my intention, right?" Kara resisted every urge to look away. They said eyes were the windows to the soul and well, Kara was banking on it to telegraph every ounce of sincerity she could.

"To?" Lena faltered in the brief interlude.

"To get a story out of you. I-I didn't even know I could."

Kara didn't miss the subtle sigh of relief; couldn't miss it if she tried.

"I know, Kara. I never doubted it." Lena expressed the sentiment in the most tactile of ways. Her fingers shifted, relieving the interlocking pressure and in its place, gentle presses and a warm suggestion. A thumb glided over the valleys of her knuckles and Kara felt an intimacy she hadn't experienced in so long. Enough to entertain the notion that Lena Kieran and Lena Luthor were one and the same. It was paradoxically comforting and alarming; Kara shelved it to the back of her mind for a later date.

Ding. The doors slid open and Kara trotted along Lena's side, content to follow her lead.

"So, um this is kinda awkward but what kind of hotshot are you exactly?"

"I'm just in R&D." Somehow, Kara had an odd suspicion that that was a massive understatement. "Did you have somewhere in mind?"

She shrugged, mind otherwise preoccupied with the enigma that was Lena Kieran. In more ways than one. There was still so much she was unsure about but one thing's for certain — Kara wanted to be around her.

"Well, I know a place."

They stepped out into the weak sunlight and Lena's hand slipped out of her grasp. Most regrettably.

And one text message later, a town car pulled up to the sidewalk. Was that a personal driver? In an expensive suit too!

This must be some kind of mistake. A coincidence. There's no way…

The window winded down.

"Miss Kieran," the driver nodded his greeting.

"Hello George, I hope I didn't keep you waiting for too long."

Lena glanced at her expectantly and when she made no move to follow, she pulled her along by her forearm. Kara was helpless but to stumble along.

"Just in R&D?" She questioned.

"Mhmm," Lena nodded, the beginnings of a mischievous smirk formed at the corner of her lips. And her eyes… Though ensconced in shadows, Kara could see. Sparkling with wild abandon — a spotlight, a star, a lighthouse perhaps? It didn't matter. What did was that she was unwittingly drawn to it. The ghost of her love and the ghost of her past — coagulating in the backseat into flesh and blood. Kara recognised it for what it was. Projection at best and delusional at worst.

She pulled her gaze away, electing to watch as the streets outside whizzed by.

-------------

It began with the interview over appetisers and a filet mignon each, Lena swirling her wine to the flicker of the candlelight while Kara quickly adapted to the demands of putting together a scientific article.

"Its application to medicine alone would be revolutionary! Emergency first aid, gene therapy, automated surgical procedures — the possibilities are endless!" Lena raved from her end of the table.

Kara could tell Lena was not accustomed to giving interviews. (As a reclusive Head of R&D would be, she supposed.) It showed in the lack of restraint, the absence of practiced finesse in the delivery but that was her charm. She loved her work and that passion was infectious. And even Kara, whose Kryptonian roots ensured that she'd never be impressed with anything modern humans could invent, was not spared.

She'd seen it all — how nanotechnology served as the perfect vector for lab-designed pathogens, how colossal weaponry with the most devastating effects could be assembled with them. All with a push of a button. But listening to Lena inspired hope. Hope that humanity wouldn't fall into the same trappings the other advanced civilisations did.

"But what of its more… destructive uses? What plans do you have for that?" Kara couldn’t help but grill her.

An eager grin emerged. "Off the record?" They leaned in over the table like school children sharing a secret. "There's a central AI monitoring the use of the chips."

Kara muttered under her breath, "Oh, clever."

It caught Lena off guard. She swayed, their noses bumped and both of them jerked back into their seats. Where they should be — a respectable distance away. Lena hid behind her wine glass, appropriately camouflaged, until dessert was served.

Then, rebirth. The conversation began anew with Kara clicking the recorder off as Lena going off on a tangent about her fancy rats.

"I know you're not supposed to play favourites but I just can't help it!"

His name was Stefan — the youngest among the three and also the most intelligent. Kara listened attentively as Lena listed out all the tricks he could do. And when she moved on to the stunts she'd pull with her best friend, Jack of Spheerical Industries fame, Kara's spoon scraped the bottom of her bowl.

Just like that, everything screeched to a halt.

"Oh." No more creme brulee. And it was a good one too. Her stomach concurred out loud. "Sorry."

"Don't be," Lena chuckled and that was the end of it. At least, that's what Kara expected. But really, she should’ve known better — Lena was extraordinary in every possible iteration.

She motioned to the waiter, drawing a large circle in the air and nodding at his incredulous look — what Kara later learnt was code for 'give me a whole cake'. A whole very delicious cake she chipped away at slowly in favour of sliding in bits and pieces of conversation between every bite. Her self-control was waning by the halfway mark and crumbled at two-thirds. Still, they stayed; neither willing to put an end to the night even in the wake of their empty glasses and empty plates.

Candle wax pooled in its glass holder. It was only when Kara glimpsed the glistening surface that she thought to survey their surroundings.

They were the only ones left.

Despite Lena slapping her hand away when she reached for the bill, Kara still slipped their waiter a huge apology tip. And in return, she received what he'd definitely meant as a compliment.

"You two look really cute together."

Kara's ears had yet to stop burning even when exposed to the cool night breeze. Well, they weren't… together. She sputtered internally and it manifested in her gait. Stumbling and nearly taking Lena down with her, she endured the light teasing whilst they awaited their ride.

Now, they were at Kara's doorstep.

"Hey, so I really enjoyed today." Kara leaned against her doorway.

"Me too," she smiled softly.

"Just one question?" She asked.

Lena seemed to lean in closer at that.

"Why'd you come back after me?"

It clearly wasn't what she'd expected. Lena blinked owlishly at her and Kara could only blink back.

"I didn't get your number."

Oh Rao, how could she have forgotten? Everything had felt so intimately familiar the entire night as if they'd known each other for years. But the fact was, they didn't. Not exactly and well, she could use her number.

A slip of paper found its way into her breast pocket, sitting snugly against the cotton blend. Oh, Lena planned this. And with its weight came a promise. One of something more worded in uncertainty, hopeful vulnerability. "Well, now you have mine. If you want to, of course."

"Yeah, definitely." She muttered, as if in a trance. And with one parting squeeze to her forearm, Lena turned and disappeared into the rickety elevator.

--------------

"Hey, so um remember Lena?" Kara settled against the backrest of her couch, her phone against her ear.

"Yeah, your almost girlfriend. Did you see her around?" Alex grunted back. In the midst of her daily workout, no doubt. She focused through the subtle layer of static. Pushups with Kelly in the background. A page flip. Correction: Kelly in the background reading. And the doorbell. Pizza delivery! Kara inhaled deeply.

"You're doing that creepy listening thing again." Came Alex's deadpan accusation.

"What? No!" Her nervous laughter was anything but convincing. "Anyway, I bumped into her on the street and now I have her number."

The huffing stopped. "I'm sorry, what?"

"I interviewed her over dinner and she slipped me her number."

"Interviewed? Who is she exactly?" She could hear the couch groan as Alex flopped onto it despite Kelly's protests.

"Lena Kieran. Spheerical Industries?"

"Oh," Alex breathed. "Oh wow, how'd you convince her?"

"Um, she volunteered? To save me from Cat." She scratched uncomfortably at her nape. The gears in Alex's head were undoubtedly turning at this point. Was it a bad idea? She couldn’t shake the feeling that it's a bad idea.

"She's whipped for you already huh." Kelly cooed in agreement beside her. "So, you two are dating now?"

"We…" Kara trailed off — that's when it finally hit her. "Oh Rao, I don't know! I never asked!"

"I'm pretty sure she's —"

"Should I even ask her out?"

"I mean, do you like her?" Alex asked.

The answer was clear-cut, simple like looking out her window. But in this case, perhaps it's closer to looking out of said window in the midst of a torrential downpour. Her reservations, her fears all converged, fogging up the glass.

"Yeah, but somehow it feels wrong."

On Alex's urging, Kara continued. "Like I'm conflating the two of them. But she's different, right? She's lived a different life."

"Yeah, that makes sense." From the other end, Kara could almost hear her sister's brain twisting into knots. She could empathise — hers was as well.

"So, what if this is just the remnants of what I feel for Past Lena?" Silence.

There was a rustle, an indication that the phone had changed hands. Kelly's voice came on the line. "I think you should give it time. Get to know her again and see how you feel then."

"Yeah okay," Kara nodded vigorously at her audience of none. It was far from a satisfactory answer, but it was still one nonetheless. She had time. It's fine.

Soon, the conversation drifted, eventually settling on the couple's upcoming move.

"Did you guys settle on a place yet?"

"Yeah, actually." Alex chirped uncharacteristically; Kara quickly found out why. "Good neighbourhood, plenty of sun and going for nearly half the market rate. Almost too good to be true!"

"You sure the ceiling won't cave in or something?" Low prices usually meant one of two things…

"Yeah, everything's great. Can you believe it?"

… that or ghosts. Not that it'd be a concern for Alex, she sighed. All things considered, her sister had been great. As understanding as she could be of her unique… predicament. They'd come a long way since that summer.

"Hey, you still there?" Her sister's voice rang out from the speaker.

"Yeah," Kara shook her head. "Yeah, I am."

And when she finally set her phone down, it buzzed petulantly to be picked up again.

Lena Kieran [18:09] : waiting for lab reports

Lena Kieran [18:09] : (that's scientist speak for 'I'm very bored')

Against her better judgement, Kara accepted. In spite of her inner turmoil, in spite of the non-negligible odds that this would blow up in their faces and she won't be the only one who's burnt.

Kara Danvers [18:09] : well, i am hankering for some potstickers

Lena Kieran [18:09] : Great, I'll pick you up at 7?

The next hour was spent in a flurry of preparation and when she recognised the sound of Lena's town car on her street, Kara rushed downstairs to meet her.

"I was under the impression that you're a busy woman." Kara jested as she slid into the back seat.

"Oh, today was a slow day." And as if on cue, her phone chimed. Screen flickering to life, her unread messages told another story.

Jack [18:35] : I have our stack of reports and a coffee with your name on it

Jack [18:37] : Where are you?

Jack [18:48] : I swear if you're hiding in the lab closet again, it's not funny

Jack [18:55] : Lena???

Jack [19:00] : Oh I found your note

Jack [19:01] : You ditched me

Jack [19:01] : For Kara With The Nice Arms

Lena flipped her phone face-down, flashed Kara the most innocent smile known to man and that was all she needed to wipe everything she'd just read clean from her mind.

Past Lena would never. That single motion exuded such lightness — all removing the single variable of the Luthors. Lena deserved that much.

Kara spent the car ride cataloguing every difference in her mind, however minute. The way she played with her hair — that's new. And how her expression naturally settled into a content smile, even at something as mundane as the view of the sidewalk flashing by. Then, there was the way she leaned in closer, inched across the leather until Kara matched it in kind. Their arms grazed. Close enough that a slight bump in the road delivered a solid weight against her shoulder and stray hairs against her neck.

Lena liked her — that much was obvious. (She wasn't dense… or that dense.) And Kara liked her too. Why couldn't it be that simple?

That question plagued her mind as they slid into a corner booth, as Kara babbled out their order in well-practised Chinese and even as the waitress returned with the wobbling 'KD Special'.

Chopsticks tapping mindlessly against her plate, Kara watched as their potsticker tower dwindled, finding their forever homes in Lena's belly.

"You're distracted," Lena stated, setting her chopsticks down.

"I'm sorry," Kara picked up the slack in her stead. Three potstickers were shoved right into her waiting trap.

Reaching across the table to where her idle hand lay, Lena frowned. "Is something wrong?"

"No," Kara said reflexively. Liar, her mind supplied. And from the way that immaculate eyebrow was raised, Lena wasn't all that convinced either. Kara slumped into her seat. "Okay, a little." Came her first admission, paving the way for a second — a succinct yes.

"I think I need to come clean."

"About?" Lena asked.

"You remind me of someone… you look exactly like her too." Kara hazarded a glance and found that Lena's smile had yet to wane.

"I do?" There was the head tilt, the subtle lean; Kara had an inkling that Lena had misconstrued her words.

"Yes, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that." She felt Lena's grip slacken. Lunging out of her seat, Kara captured her retreating hand with her own. The table shook, tableware clattering against its surface and Kara could feel the glares sent their way burning into her side. "Wait, no! Don't get me wrong, I really like spending time with you. It's just… I don't want to hurt you."

"Oh?" A sliver of hope slipped through.

"So I just want to be sure."

Lena laughed. Of all possible reactions, Lena laughed. Cutting through the soft chatter in the background and drawing another round of stares.

"That's the point of dating, isn't it?" She finally managed.

Kara couldn't help herself; fervently wished she possessed the ability to do so but here she was in the aftermath. "We are?"

Lena froze for the second time that evening. "Are we not?"

"I wasn't sure if we were," she admitted, hand gravitating to that familiar spot on her nape.

"But you want to?"

"Yeah, definitely."

"Okay, good." Lena nodded, the tension visibly flowing off her shoulders.

"Good," Kara repeated. And for a brief moment, there was silence — the calm before the storm in hindsight. Because then came the laughter, crashing over them in an inescapable wave. The whole premise was just so ridiculous. Something in the realm of cheesy rom-coms and not real life. But here they were, basking in the warmth of a series of improbabilities, each eager to outdo its predecessors like a movie franchise way past its prime.

"I swear, Kara. One day you're going to give me a heart attack."

One day. A bold assumption to make of a newly-formed connection. Relationships were transient, she'd learnt. Most times, people came and went and that's fine. But sometimes, they stayed. An odd mix of the right time and the right place and that's what made it all the more special.

"When that day comes, I hope it's because of my nice arms." She smirked.

"Please just let it go." The hand snaking its way up to her bicep told another story, especially that appreciative squeeze. Kara didn't call her out on it; she understood well enough. Don't let go.

Later at her doorstep, those three words flitted back into her conscious mind.

"Do you want to come in?"

"I'd love to but Jack left me my share of work," Lena's phone went off again. "And he drank my coffee! I can't believe him!"

"Just one moment!" Kara didn't even pause to think. Simply rushing into her kitchen, tossing coffee mix into a thermos and heat-visioning water to a boil.

"Coffee for you," she grinned when she returned. Lena blinked, accepting her offering without question. Why would she — oh no. Combing through her expressions only yielded more confusion. Was this… normal? Or even in the realm of the average human's capabilities? Kara fiddled with her glasses. A textbook Freudian slip if they ever felt inclined to expand its definition to the non-verbal.

Unless Lena believed she'd been plotting this the whole night. Lure her up to her apartment to send her away with her fix of instant coffee.

She smiled and Kara braced herself for the impending questions. Oh Rao, Alex was going to kill —

"Thank you," Lena gave her forearm a light squeeze. "I'll see you?"

"Y-yeah, you better!" Kara called out, waving stiffly after her retreating form until the elevator doors slid shut. (And maybe, just maybe, she might've trailed her with her x-ray vision all the way down.)

---------------

They saw little of each other in the next three weeks but it was to be expected. Launching a game-changing piece of technology tended to be busy work. Plus, Kara had an extra article to write and much more stringent standards to meet.

(Cat raised an eyebrow at her first draft. Sliding it purposefully back across the tabletop, she made painful eye contact with Kara before laying it on her, "Less gushing about Lena and more gushing about the product. Unless this is a veiled attempt at announcing your engagement — to which I'd suggest you don't.)

But in the brief moments their schedules aligned, Lena couldn't help but gush in excitement about all the progress they were making. Down to the smallest of details — even the little vegan canapés for the afterparty got a special mention. Kara cherished every moment of it, even if she had to take an extra-large bite into her burrito to erase the thought of kale chips from her mind.

And in the run-up to their planned spectacle, Kara found herself summoned to Lena's office on the fifteenth floor. 1PM sharp; she wasn't late. Still, there was no Lena in sight.

Drumming her fingers against her thighs, she surveyed the organised mess around her. Towers of files neatly stacked up to hip-level, a veritable collection of to-go coffee cups huddled in one corner of Lena's table. And most perplexingly, there was another door to the side. Was that squeaking she heard behind it?

"Hey, sorry to keep you waiting." Lena burst through the door before she could confirm her suspicions, making a beeline for Kara instead of her seat. All confusion dissipated when she threw herself into Kara's arms and at that moment, her mind blanked. It felt… good. Right even. She'd spent an entire summer wondering how it'd feel and now she had an answer. Or some semblance of one. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind.

Eventually, and most regrettably, they parted. With a soft exhale against her cheek and Lena's hands lingering against her back, Kara almost drew her back in. Almost. Her last modicum of self-control was spent shoving her hands into her pockets where they couldn't reach for her.

Lena leaned over her desk, rifling through her drawer until she triumphantly produced a lanyard with an accompanying plastic tag.

She beckoned her forward. Then on her tiptoes, she slipped it over her neck.

"Your press pass," she explained. "I wanted to give it to you in person."

"Oh, thank you." She muttered lamely and before she knew it, Lena had her head in yet another drawer.

She re-emerged, holding out an identical pass. Another one? Lena slipped it over her neck and her confusion intensified.

"This one's mine." She beamed.

And that's how the two of them ended up with a front-row seat to the big reveal.

"Shouldn't you be up there with him?" Kara leaned in to whisper, nearly falling out of her seat when a rush of nanites wooshed over their heads.

She shrugged. "He does the business and I do the science — it's how we've always done it." Jack shot them a discrete wink from the stage and Lena rolled her eyes before continuing. "Besides, he thrives in the spotlight."

They watched as he did another twirl and the wave of nanites, eliciting another chorus of oohs and ahs from his audience. Admittedly, it was indeed captivating; he would've had her full attention were it not for the distraction seated to her left.

"And you don't?" The Lena she knew wouldn't but that was all in the past. If she wanted a clear answer to her conundrum, she was going to need to draw lines.

"No, not really." A haunted expression breached the surface however briefly — the first she'd seen on Lena Kieran. "Having your face, your whole life splashed all over the papers is frankly terrifying. A terrifying prospect, that is."

Kara reached across her seat, sliding their palms together and interlacing their fingers. "Yeah, I get it. Being seen, being known is alluring but having your every move scrutinised…" She trailed off. Right, Lena doesn't know she's Supergirl. Add that to her list of troubles.

The lights came back on.

"Thank you! Thank you all for coming!" Jack gave an exaggerated bow and as if on cue, thunderous applause erupted from all around.

Kara turned her attention to Lena. "Sounds like a roaring success to me."

She blushed and Kara couldn't help but see double.

-------------

Meeting Jack Spheer up close and personal was… well…

"Ah, Kara Nice-arms! Great to make your acquaintance!" One hand clasped around hers in a firm handshake while the other quickly pulled her in for a hug. All Kara could do was stare back wide-eyed and loosen her stance before he broke something. Beside her, Lena scowled.

"You can't just hold that over my head forever!" She protested, visibly exasperated and underneath, quite defeated.

"Oh we all can, darling." He laughed, reaching over her head for a high-five and Kara indulged him. If only to watch the comical lines in her forehead deepen.

The next thing she knew, Lena was grasping onto her arm and attempting to haul her away. "Okay, we're leaving."

"No, what about the champagne we spent five hours choosing?" He pleaded.

"And those kale chips you were so excited about?" Kara finally piped up.

Muttering something about betrayal, Lena caved and let them lead her by the hand into the after-party.

The night could be charted with the flow of champagne.

First flute — inconsequential. Lena lapsed into a series of eye rolls whilst Jack regaled them with embarrassing tales from their shared past. (And an occasional huff directed at Kara too for having the gall to laugh.)

Then came the second like a revitalising elixir — Lena countered with her own stories, leaning further into Kara and mustering her implicit support. It was all the convincing she needed to jump ship. And when the third arrived, Lena — in limbo between inebriation and sobriety — redirected the conversation in glowing praise of Kara. Much to her mortification. ("She survived as Cat Grant's assistant for three years! Imagine that!") Although, having Lena's arms wrapped around her frame in the process definitely didn't hurt.

Halfway through the fourth, past reddened cheeks and a sudden fit of giggles, she declared, "Wait, you haven't had the potstickers yet!"

"What? Where?" Kara craned her neck on high alert.

"I'll be right back!" Shoving her glass into Jack's bewildered hands, she disappeared into the crowd in a flutter of her navy blue suit jacket.

"I… should go after her."

"Just a moment." He grabbed onto her arm, stumbling after her in the brief moment it took to register their positions. Kara motioned for him to continue. "I prepared an entire speech for this, actually. You see, I'm a little inexperienced in this regard."

"Yeah?" Hesitance and Jack Spheer? That wasn't a combination she expected to witness today. Regardless, Kara gave him the most reassuring smile she could.

"When it comes to relationships, Lena's always looking for 'the one'. Something about not feeling right." Jack paused, scratching at his chin while he collected his thoughts.

Well, she certainly wasn't expecting her first shovel talk either.

"But with you, she looks content. I suppose what I meant to say — which I sure hope isn't news to you — is to cherish her."

"Yeah. Yeah, of course I will. More than anything else." Little did Jack know of its true extent. How they'd been so unceremoniously separated, then so abruptly reunited. And now, Kara didn't fully grasp how to reconcile the two; taking things day by day was the best she could do.

"Good, good. Off you go. She looks like she could use a little help." He chuckled.

Kara definitely didn't win any points with the other guests considering how she pushed and shoved past them. But for the first time in her life, she couldn’t bring herself to care. Not with how Lena brightened immediately when she entered her sights.

"Kara! Here you go!" Just like that, Kara found herself in possession of a hefty tray of potstickers. "It was meant to be a little surprise for you at the buffet tables but then I thought: why not just save them all for you?"

"All for me?" She repeated. Eyes bulging out of their sockets, her gaze roved through the artfully stacked dumplings. Eighty-two. There were eighty-two of them. All for her consumption. In retrospect, an enthusiastic 'thank you' would have sufficed and yet what left her lips unsanctioned was so radically different…

"Lena, I could just kiss you right now!" Yep, that was her voice alright.

Cue the metaphorical record scratch.

"You could?" She inched forward with single-minded focus.

"Well, yeah. I could." Though it was beginning to sound more like a question the longer it hung between them. This was not a conversation she anticipated having over a mountain of potstickers.

"Now?" Lena's eyes widened further. It was an absolute wonder. How a woman whose hands could so skillfully sustain life could be capable of a look so deadly.

"Maybe later. You're a little drunk." Kara explained as gently as she could but to no avail. No, she had to find out first-hand that Lena was a pouty drunk. And to her abject horror, a very effective one.

"Potsticker?" Offer accepted whole. Lena's cheeks puffed out to accommodate it and now everything was so much… better? Worse? Both?

That expression persisted even as Kara devoured her share. (She had no business seeming so endeared with her. Not with how she'd crammed five of them into her waiting mouth.) And when they stumbled their way back to Jack, Lena charmed her way to the contents of his glass too.

"Alright, we should probably go." Prying the champagne flute out of her hands should've been child's play. But Lena had to swivel around and shoot her that pitiful look; her grip weakened, her resolve shrivelled and Jack had to swoop in to cut her off.

"Come on," she tried again. Gaze firmly planted on the tip of her nose far away from those treacherous depths, Kara refused to be caught off-guard this time. "Let's get you home."

Lena froze. "Are you coming?" The quiver in her lips had bled into her voice as if her agreement was entirely contingent on the promise of Kara's presence.

"Yeah, I am." She said, with a squeeze to her hands for an extra touch of reassurance.

It was the epitome of an anticlimax. Lena exhaled, her stance loosened and her head glided over to her shoulder.

"Oh, okay." Looping an arm into hers, she regarded her with an expectant look. "Let's go home."

Later, they arrived in Lena's darkened apartment. It was smaller than she'd expected for someone of her status — two bedrooms with a small study tucked away in the corner. The files from her office had taken over space here too. The coffee table, the countertop — nothing was spared from the carnage. But to her surprise, it lacked the sterility one would expect from such a space.

Warmth — that's the feeling she'd ascribe to it. In between the mess sat little hints of Lena's life beyond her work. From the throw blanket haphazardly strewn over the couch to the numerous photos hung up on her walls, it was as cozy as it was messy. (For now, Kara was just going to pretend she hadn't seen the framed Supergirl poster right in the centre of it all.)

She laid her down gently on her bed. At least she splurged on that. It was humongous — enough for a whole family if they were so inclined and very, very bouncy.

"I'm gonna go, okay? I'll text you tomorrow." Kara reached for the covers.

"No!" That was all it took to rouse Lena from her drunken stupor. In one swift motion that put her own super speed to shame, she lunged after her. Tangling their arms together and anchoring her chin onto her shoulder, Kara was helpless but to return the gesture.

There they sat, sinking deeper and deeper into each other. And as time passed, Kara's awareness dwindled, settling much too willingly into a contented haze. How did they get here? Was that her arm? Where did she end and where did Lena begin? The thoughts flashed by and dissipated like smoke. Then, they were falling, coming to a sudden halt in time with Lena's groan.

"I don't like it when you leave." She admitted, the rumbling of her voice leaving a ripple against her neck. "And I hate it when I have to leave you."

"But I always come back, don't I? And likewise for you."

She felt the hum as much as she heard it. Deep in thought and otherwise silent, Lena exhaled deeply.

Neither moved to extricate themselves. Not until Lena shifted, pulling an arm's length away so their eyes could meet.

"Stay? At least for tonight?" Breathtaking. Kara remembered now, couldn’t help but slide deep into it. It's astonishing how even a lifetime apart, they both could share the same look.

Almost as if deep down, right in their core, they were the exact same person. That past her new quirks and other superficialities, it was just Lena. It always was.

"Okay," she finally breathed and that was Lena's cue to nuzzle in deep, to tickle at the expanse of exposed flesh with every exhale.

A spurt of giggles erupted then. "Yay," she muttered, the words hot on its tail.

And maybe, even after all this time, Kara still loved her essentials.

------------

Noon was heralded most unceremoniously by a palm to the face.

"— get up. Kara, I need to get up!" Self-preservation kicked in while her mental faculties stirred; Kara flopped over with a bounce. And if she forgot a limb or two strewn over Lena's front, well… Kara wasn't awake enough to draw a sensible conclusion to that. Warm sun, warm bed, warm Lena — everything she could ever ask for. Her inner morning person never stood a chance.

But somehow, Lena was up and ready to go, looking like she'd just emerged from some flawless hair commercial. Kara had to run her mind past that again just so it didn't sound like pure gibberish. Was Lena even real? Were hangovers just a myth? Alex definitely doesn't look half as good when she stumbled out of bed with her head in her hands.

"Kara, I really appreciate the staring but I…" She blinked. Once, blankly and come the second, her eyes widened in alarm. "I… I said something weird last night, didn't I?"

"You did?" Kara withdrew from Lena completely, leaving a profound sense of loss in its wake. The newfound space between them felt so wrong. It made her yearn for the comforts of her touch, for the languid ease of just clicking back in place. For time to be lost in a distant spiral, swirling faintly in the background whilst they were conjoined.

"I'm sorry if I sounded —" she grimaced. "— clingy."

"What? No! I like having you around too." Kara shuffled over, leaning in close and dropping her voice to whisper into Lena's ear. "And just a little secret between the two of us?"

Stiffening, Lena could only manage a soft yeah?

"I hate it when you leave too." The sharp intake of breath was telling — Kara was doing a mighty good job at being convincing. Nosing at her ear for good measure, she showed her hand, "So back to bed?"

Lena sighed, sounding just as unwilling as Kara was. "I really do need to get out of bed."

"Oh," she said, though it sounded more like a deflating balloon. Her shoulders slumped in time with it and like a wilting plant, the corners of her lips curved downwards.

"Although…" Revived just like that. Kara perked up, hanging off the potential her next words could have. "You could always come with me."

Proposal received, processed and accepted all in one go. Without question either. And by the time they were out on the streets — freshly showered and with Kara stretching out Lena's clothes — it was a little too late to ask.

Unknowns were cool. She could totally do surprises. Maybe Lena booked them a table at an all-you-can-eat in advance? Her arm wiggled at the prospect and Lena shot her a questioning look.

They passed a familiar coffee cart. Kara was just about to point it out when Lena pulled her in another direction. One with automated sliding doors, air-conditioning and a large 'Spheerical Industries' plaque. Wait a minute…

"Are you going to work?" Her voice echoed uncomfortably in the confines of the elevator.

"Well, being a fur-parent is a full-time job."

The elevator dinged and Kara followed, slack-jawed. Past various cubicles and into her office, then further in until they reached that mysterious door. That squeaking again…

Turns out, she wasn't imagining things — the fuzzy warmth in her hands felt plenty real to her. It squeaked, launched off and scrabbled at her front for purchase all in the span of one split second.

Lena glanced up from the grey rodent lazing in her lap. "Oh, that's Dolly. Isn't she adorable?"

Another wandered over — a fuzzy package of mottled fur and a stringy tail. It sniffed at her feet.

"And that one's Stefan!"

Kara eyed the rat, her gaze catching on a particular chipped ear. Before, she hadn't quite considered the possibility of ghost animals. But now?

"What's wrong?" Lena arrived by her side with the sleepy furball in tow. "You're glaring at him like he's some kind of serial cheater."

"What?"

"Or a prolific swindler." Lena quickly added.

It must've been a coincidence. No one likes cheaters. Perfectly reasonable. Instead, she reached out to confirm another hypothesis.

Stefan ducked just out of reach. Huh, ghost animals indeed.

--------------

The launch was a success, CatCo's exclusive was a success — it was to be expected with one bolstering the other and sending the public into a frenzy. Stocks soared, CatCo was offered another exclusive for lab-grown seafood and Cat Grant was, for once, in a fantastic mood.

Perhaps that's what saved her hide that fateful day. Between Twitter's playful insinuation that Kara was very much in love with Lena Kieran (which she thought she hid well enough under technical mumbo jumbo) and the host of delivery men carting flowers into the bullpen, she'd expected much more of a reaction than a tight smile.

Something along the lines of Kara, I will not tolerate you moonlighting in my office space! or Kara, do you intend to kill us all with that pollen?

Not that Kara was complaining. She accepted the last bouquet with a sheepish thank you.

Flipping open the dangling card, she couldn’t keep the grin off her face if she tried.

No words. Just an explosion of hand-drawn hearts. She flitted between the rest — a thank you, more hearts, a little rat holding up a 'thank you' sign with a giant heart. Oh, what's in that one?

A loud sneeze stopped her in her tracks.

"What's all this?" Another sneeze. Winn clutched at his nose protectively. It wasn’t very effective. Kara could pick out the early signs of sniffling already.

"I-I um…" Kara faltered, finding no reasonable explanation for the sudden redecoration. She'd been stuck in her own head all this time, after all. Where the world around her wasn't even the slightest of an afterthought. The gesture was cute; it made perfect sense in that over-the-top rom-com fashion their circumstances seemed to favour and Kara definitely wasn't complaining. But the anguished look on his face said otherwise.

"Tell Lena —" Another sneeze. Kara winced. "— that maybe she should think twice before she inconveniences everyone else with her grand declarations of love." She knew he was serious. Dead serious. But his voice was just so squeaky from the exertion and his nose was so red. Like Rudolph, her brain supplied unhelpfully.

"Oh, right." She nodded along blankly. Just swallow down the laughter, pretend it was never there. Offering him a tissue seemed to smooth things over well enough. He huffed, sunk back down into his seat and resigned himself to his fate.

Then, her phone buzzed.

1 message from Lena Kieran

A simple invitation. Come over?

Winn's gripes all but forgotten, her fingers had never moved faster. In a frenzy for those three letters and a few exclamation marks too for good measure. Because what's restraint when the other just filled her office with flowers?

Kara Danvers [16:21] : Yes!!!

"Nice flowers." Kara swivelled around. Oh Rao. There Cat Grant stood, observing the cluster of plumerias on her desk. "I take it these will be gone by the end of the day?"

Gulping, she nodded wordlessly in response.

--------------

"So, my office was filled with flowers." Were her first words upon crossing the threshold into Lena's apartment. The clutter from her previous visit had mostly vanished — she could actually see the tabletops this time. Her gaze was drawn to that spot on Lena's wall. Just to check. Huh, the Supergirl poster was gone.

Lena turned abruptly and there was no time to follow that train of thought. Only Lena in an oversized MIT sweatshirt, the edges of her sleep shorts peeking out from underneath — nothing else could hope to grab her attention. It was all just so soft, inviting even.

One step forward. Lena's fingers emerged from under the grey fabric and Kara tracked their every motion. Hooking into her belt loops and pulling, Kara stumbled along to the silent tune of her Pied Piper.

"Oh, was it?" Lena laughed, her voice silky and coy. A long beat passed mired in confusion. Kara stared blankly, only to let out a soft oh when she remembered. Right, about the flowers.

Lena whisked her around until both their visages bore the brunt of the distant skyline. City lights glittering like an oasis, stars too against all odds, casting enchanting shadows across her features. It served as a reminder of civilisation. Or rather, how far removed they were from it ensconced in Lena's apartment. They were well and truly alone and the realisation only made the moment so much more intimate.

"Yeah, I liked it. Thank you. Though um, Winn didn't appreciate it as much. He had a sneezing fit." She said, never taking her eyes off her.

"Oh, I didn't consider that." Lena looked away, a ruddy red already forming on her cheeks. If she were to reach out, would it be warm to the touch? It was, indeed. Kara had to brush her thumb over the smooth expanse of skin just to be sure. Lena swallowed. "I suppose you make me a little… crazy. Impulsive. I am sorry about your friend though."

"He'll be fine." Kara said quickly. They had more important things on their agenda now.

"Yes." Lena chewed hesitantly on her bottom lip as if considering her next move. "Actually, I called you here for a reason."

"Oh?"

Her hands shifted from their perch and glided up her biceps. "Yeah, I just really wanted to… do this."

Lena drew closer on her tiptoes as Kara watched wide-eyed even when all she could see were her cheekbone and tufts of baby hairs. Her other senses took over from there — she heard Lena's soft breathing, felt each exhale glance across her cheek.

Then, the sensation was replaced by plush lips against her skin and oh, Kara could just melt from that alone.

Dazedly, she muttered. "I think I need another."

"You do?" Lena chuckled, sounding rather pleased with herself.

"Yeah," Kara pointed at her other cheek. "It feels neglected."

Her wish was granted with immediate effect and perhaps that emboldened her to just push a little further.

"And maybe my nose too."

Lena rolled her eyes but still, she indulged her, ducking forward and planting a quick kiss on the tip.

"And you too!" Lena barely had time to squeal when Kara tackled her onto the couch to return the favour tenfold.

When the giggling finally subsided after an indeterminate amount of time had passed, Lena fit herself into the crook of her neck. She seemed to have developed a penchant for that.

"I don't want to get up."

"Me neither." That was all the encouragement Lena needed. Pulling the throw blanket over them and making herself comfortable in her arms, Kara soon heard her breathing even out. And following closely behind, she found herself drifting, lulled into a fitful slumber by the rhythmic huffs and puffs.

-------------

She'd heard a lot about settling in all her years on Earth. From her peers, books, TV — all preaching wildly different views. Kara listened until her head spun and eventually, she tuned it out entirely.

But now, seated on the kerb with her boot tapping out a steady rhythm against the asphalt, she'd come to her own conclusion.

Unbeknownst to her (at least up till this point), that night on the couch was a turning point. A step forward together.

In the two weeks that followed, they lapsed into a new sort of domesticity. Lena's clothes snuck their way into a corner of her wardrobe and Kara was sure she was missing a hoodie or two. Whatever, all was forgiven. They stayed over at each other's so regularly now that there was simply no point in drawing lines.

It was the newfound comfort — the realisation dawned upon her one lazy afternoon. When Lena had her nose buried in a riveting novel and Kara was scratching her head over her next piece.

They'd settled in with each other nicely and Kara rather enjoyed the serenity. Not to mention the bursts of excitement too — learning the little things about Lena that made her all the more endearing. Like when Kara put Up on and Lena was already a sniffling mess midway through the opening scene. Or how her hands would wander over to smooth out the crinkles between Kara's brows whenever she was too deep in thought. Oh, speak of the devil.

"Lena!" Rising to her feet, she called out to her. "Hey, what're you doing here?"

Lena blinked in surprise. Huh, was something wrong? Something on her face maybe or —

"Supergirl?"

Oh right. That. Kara took a discrete step back, desperately backpedalling at the same time. "Oh, I-I just wanted to tell you that I'm a big fan of your work. I mean nanites? Revolutionary!"

"Oh, thank you." Her gaze wavered before turning away. A crowd had begun to gather and from within, she could easily pick out the hushed whispers.

"What's going on?"

"Who is she?"

"Wow Supergirl's face is looking a little red huh." No, it wasn't!

"Um, I believe your perp is getting away." Lena pointed vaguely behind her.

"Oh," she turned. Zipping over and hauling him back by the arm, Kara regarded Lena once more. "Well, um enjoy the rest of your day!"

She waved with her free arm and Lena waved back and oh Rao that was awkward. And inconvenient for the DEO, as she soon learnt.

"Kara, why am I hearing about Supergirl's crush on a certain Lena Kieran?" Alex's voice was terse but she could still pick out the slight tremors present. The source: well-suppressed laughter. Underneath it all, Alex thought it was hilarious. Of course she did.

Lena… not so much. The second the couch dipped under Kara's weight, she was already scrambling into her lap like a frightened animal. And the news currently broadcasting footage of their encounter was just the icing on the cake.

'Supergirl has a Super-girl crush' it read. Kara couldn't help but scoff as her eyes parsed through that drivel.

"I'm so sorry." She whispered into Lena's crown and when her words faded, she pressed a delicate kiss to make up for its absence.

A beat. Two. Then, Lena pulled away just enough to meet her gaze. "Whatever for?"

It caught her off guard. Though, she should’ve expected it. Lena didn't know.

"I'm sorry you had to go through all that."

Lena hummed, nuzzling into her favourite spot on her neck. "I'm sure Supergirl didn't mean to."

"Yeah, definitely not." Kara concurred. It'd blow over soon enough. Maybe if she performed a little jig over the city's busiest intersection, it'd come even quicker. She owed Lena that much. And the truth, her mind supplied.

She'd told her about the doppelganger. Everything went fine; Lena was perfectly understanding so why would her secret identity be different? How hard could it be?

"But I suppose it's not all bad." Lena murmured against her collarbone, fingers busy picking at the hem of her shirt. "Science woman and Supergirl — think of all the kids who'd need to see this. I know I would've wanted to."

She yawned — small, almost like a kitten. "I'm beginning to think that everything has a silver lining."

Kara paused. Her life thus far flashed before her eyes. She'd lost Krypton but gained a new family, friends, a new world she could protect. She'd lost Lena once and now…

"Lena, I'm —" she began. Soft snores filled her the paltry space between them. And soon, notes of laughter joined them.

Gently lifting her limp form into a bridal carry, Kara sighed. Another day then.

--------------

"Do you believe in ghosts?" Kara bit into her sandwich. The moon was crystal clear tonight; she could even make out a few stars from the minute gaps between the city smog if she squinted.

"Isn't that something you should ask before you drag me out to a graveyard?" Lena calmly pointed out.

"I forgot." The words came out mangled from the mixing drum of peanut butter and jelly. Swallow. Kara was poised for another bite but Lena's side-eye convinced her otherwise. "I was a little too excited to spend the night with you."

"We could be in bed." She grumbled, dropping her head against Kara's shoulder as if it were an adequate substitute.

"We could," she nodded along. Just like how she could just tell her already. I'm Supergirl — two simple words. And yet every time, she ended up choking on them with a redirection ready on her tongue.

It wasn’t that she didn't trust Lena; Kara was confident that she'd take the news well. It's just that… it'd be such a sudden, fundamental change to the Kara she knew and that's when the what ifs slipped in. She'd seen the poster — what if Kara's identity inadvertently erected a wall between them? What would she do then?

"But to answer your question, I wouldn't rule out their existence entirely." Her hand crept over to her lunch box. Kara pretended she didn't notice her swipe her ham and cheese from right under her nose. "I take it that you believe in them?"

"Well, yeah I write about them. Almost dated one too."

Lena paused mid-bite. "You did?"

"Yeah." For a moment, Kara busied herself with sweeping the breadcrumbs off her shirt and all the while, Lena regarded her expectantly. Right, she thought, in the spirit of truthfulness, this would be a good start. "Remember that girl we talked about? Your… doppelganger."

Lena caught on quickly enough. "She's a ghost." Her eyes widened but that was it; she wasn't quite as taken aback as Kara had expected.

"Yeah, a ghost."

Taking a bite out of the pilfered sandwich, Lena nodded. A guise — with each bounce her gaze descended. Lower and lower until it landed on the bench beneath them. Was that too much?

Kara reached out, hesitated and finally, emboldened by a new wave of resolve, she wrapped her free hand around Lena's.

She watched as Lena took another bite.

Swallow. Deep breath. Lena ventured a glance up at her. "Kara, I have something to tell you."

"Sure, what's up?" The squeeze she delivered was meant for Lena — there was no doubt about that. But it offered some unintended reassurance for herself too. What was it? Something big, definitely. Grave? Damning? A misunderstanding?

"I-I…" her voice wavered and Kara trembled along. She tried again. "Kara, I —"

From the corner of her eye, a glow flashed in and out of existence. Tiny, faint like the distant stars breaking the surface from under waves of clouds and light pollution. Frowning, Kara turned.

A lone firefly meandered between them, landing on Lena's lap and launching right off with sudden urgency.

"I might have ordered you an ice cream cake." Lena admitted. "Extra-large. The size of a small table."

The lunchbox clattered to the ground.

"Lena, you're perfect!" And that was when their fronts collided. Together, nose to nose with only an arm anchoring them both to the bench, Lena glanced at her lips.

"You're not so bad yourself." She said, leaning forward.

Kara accepted a kiss to the nose, accepted the weird looks the caretaker cast at them, accepted that this outing was a bust — no ghost in sight.

"We should go back to yours." Lena suggested, offering her arm.

Kara accepted that as well.

Arranged in a meticulous tangle and pulling the sheets right up to her chin, everything was peaceful until she stirred. Awakening to the realisation that Lena wasn't there.

Kara groaned, sitting up and letting the first rays of daybreak caress her form. Feet padding against the floorboards, she emerged from her room. And then, she froze.

Arms against the window sill and taking it all in, Lena was glowing. Breathtaking in the most literal sense, like a Kryptonite clamp over her chest. Her subsequent thoughts were an unintelligible mess; how she rushed over to Lena's side was much more telling. Fear. Even as she ran her hands over her shoulders, down her arms and clasped them into Lena's. It was solid but not enough to dispel the dread coiling in her gut.

"Kara?" She gathered her into her arms, stroking her back and smoothing out the rapid drumming of her heart. "It's okay, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere." As if she'd read her mind.

Kara was the first to pull away. "I'm sorry, I just… got so scared for a moment."

"Nothing to apologise for." Thumb swiping across her cheek, Kara was now privy to the layer of wetness against her skin.

But her ministrations didn't stop there. Kara leaned into it with every pass and coupled with the warm orange hues awash on Lena's skin, it was a glorious sight. Akin to drowning in sweet, sweet honey with one single exception — she didn't think she could get tired of this. That if Zeus were to reverse his decree and humankind's separation undone, her greatest (and only) anguish would be the impossibility of seeing Lena like this, of holding her like this.

She was ready.

"I'm Supergirl."

Lena never faltered, not even for a second. Slipping her glasses off, she tried again. "I'm Supegirl — oh, you know."

Finally, her motions ceased. Thumb hovering a hair's breadth over her cheek, she asked, "Are you disappointed?"

"No, I didn't really know what to expect… but how?"

"You're a little floaty at night," Lena let out a small laugh. "It gets cold when you hover away with the blanket."

And because Kara was feeling just a little bit difficult, she had to prod. "Right, so nothing to do with that Supergirl poster?"

"Maybe just a little."

She didn't notice at first. Not when her mind felt like it'd been loaded into a spinning teacup operating at terminal velocity. Kara staggered, their foreheads bumped and suddenly all was still.

She wanted to. She knew she wanted to. Arms thrown around her neck, Kara had a feeling Lena wanted it too.

A deep breath — one shared on both sides. Then, Lena nudged their noses together, a silent invitation Kara took and oh Rao.

The first was a chaste meeting of lips. They tensed for the briefest of moments, frozen in place. And it was only after an insistent tug that Kara pressed forward once more.

She had the vaguest sense they were stumbling backwards, the tiniest of awareness that her back had hit the mattress.

It was all a blur. One moment Lena was leaning over her and the next, she'd been toppled in a fit of giggles down onto the crumpled sheets.

Everything was golden like the world was encased in amber. And in its centre, Lena lay. Pupils blown, she reached out, her palm finding solace in the expanse over her heart.

"You're so solid," she might've heard. Her ears felt waterlogged; the anticipation in the air too thick and viscous, seeping in through all her senses. All coherent thought was eradicated.

Nothing else. Only Lena.

Kara pulled away to take it all in. First with her sight and then, her touch — a goddess meant for worship and revelry. Her hands crested the soft rise of her belly. Lower now and her hunger only grew.

"Lena," she breathed. Subtle encouragement was all she needed; a slight pressure against her thighs and they fell apart.

Bathed in the otherworldly brilliance of this golden hour, Lena gasped. Kara dove in.

They resurfaced at midday to the alarm of Kara's growling stomach. Today's agenda: stretch, groan, flop over onto Lena.

"Are your fingers okay?"

"A little sore if I'm honest." Lena chuckled.

Kara hummed and pulled them to her lips. "I'll kiss them better!" she declared with sluggish gusto. Thumb, pointer, middle, ring, pinky… She did a double-take. No, not imagining things. It was half a segment shorter than it should've been.

"What happened here?"

She felt Lena stiffen under her. "Just… a lab accident. A long time ago."

Nodding, Kara pressed an extra kiss to the tip. "If I tell you the secret to tissue regeneration, will you give me a treat?"

Another laugh — melodious like the light tinkle of windchimes on a peaceful afternoon. "That's cheating, darling."

Darling. She liked the sound of that, nuzzling into her sticky sweat-covered skin to make her appreciation known.

"So, does this mean you'll take off your glasses before bed?"

And now she just felt foolish for believing that Lena didn't know.

--------------

"This is Alex the sister!" She announced and on cue, Lena extended an arm for a handshake.

Kara was bouncing on the balls of her feet. She's gonna do it, she's gonna do it… Alex's eyebrow twitched in warning as if she'd telepathically picked up on Kara's plans. Too late — things had already been set in motion and now, it was time to bask in the aftermath.

"And this is Kelly, my ex!" From the corner of her eye, she could see Alex's eyebrows knitting together.

Lena blinked, reaching for Kelly's outstretched hand. "Oh, well hi there."

"She means ex-therapist." Kelly explained good-naturedly.

"Oh?"

At Lena's visible confusion, Kara swooped in to the rescue. "Alex stole her from me."

"We met at Al's," Alex huffed, motioning for them to follow her. "Kara didn't exactly give me the deets on her new therapist."

"And for the whole session, I thought the Alex Kara was describing sounded awfully familiar."

"Yeah and when Kelly walked me out, you should've seen their faces — oh, is that meatballs?" Kara was the first to hop into her seat, fork already plunging into a meatball and then two before the noisy sounds of her snacking were drowned out by the pulling of chairs. (Retrospectively, Kara realised it was all a ploy. Stuff Kara's trap before she could say any more as Alex had so eloquently put it after two glasses of wine.)

All things considered, their first meeting went rather smoothly. (And by that, Kara meant the last time Alex met Lena all those years ago.) As the night progressed, Lena gradually found her place in the group; the initial discomfort of someone new fading with every piece of her past she revealed. And when Alex, inebriated and uninhibited, leaned out of her seat bright-eyed to discuss Spheerical Industries' past innovations, Kara could see it glimmering right there — acceptance.

Twelve years on Earth and she'd built this. Kara knew but it hadn't struck her quite so profoundly.

Suddenly, all eyes were on her.

"Kara?" Her name in three distinct voices. Lena was the first to pull her into her arms. Then came the scrape of two chairs, footsteps approaching and they were surrounding her, cocooning her in their concern.

"I'm fine! I promise!" She laughed. The concept wasn't foreign to her but in action… It was the first time Kara remembered crying happy tears.

And she would do anything in her power to protect its source.

Later that night, huddled under Kara's blanket, Lena would turn to ask. "Hey, so are you seeing a new therapist now?"

Kara shifted as well, resting on her side and taking in the gleam of Lena's eyes through the darkness. "No, I'm… still in the market for one. The DEO's vetted list isn't exactly… ghost-friendly. Although," she pulled Lena in. "I have been very distracted recently."

Kara leaned in for a quick peck but Lena pulled away just out of reach. "Wait, I just wanted to say… I know I'm not the most qualified. Or qualified at all, really. But you can talk to me. About anything."

And with her piece said, Lena pressed their lips together on her own accord.

"If you promise to talk to me too." Pinky already readied between them, Kara frowned when Lena faltered.

For a moment, she averted her gaze, fixating on the sliver of pitch darkness visible beneath the sheets instead. And along with it, a sinking feeling in her gut that followed its trajectory down, down, down.

It didn't last; Lena caught her with a single pinky. Her eyes glinted in steely resolve. "I will, I promise." Then, she leaned in and commenced her journey. Beginning at her forehead and closing at her lips, Kara heard her apology loud and clear.

"Will you tell me about Krypton?" She asked.

"Mmm what do you wanna hear?" She asked in the brief interlude before initiating another.

"I don't know, the Firefalls maybe?"

Kara paused. "The Firefalls?"

"Yeah, you mentioned it once." Lena hummed as she settled back onto her pillow. "In an interview." She added in what perhaps was an attempt to jog her memory.

It didn't work but Kara told her anyway. About the Firefalls, about Krypton — it all came rushing back. Whatever vestigial memories she had played vividly in her mind; whatever she'd forgotten sent her curling deeper into Lena's embrace. And when the sun peeked over the horizon, startling Kara out of her reminiscence, she had to fistfight Lena into sleeping in.

"Jack's been lamenting my drop in productivity since you came into the picture."

"Well Jack's about to get a talk with Supergirl if he doesn't let you sleep."

A quick text message revealed he was perfectly fine with it. More than fine if she caught his drift.

Jack [06:49] : Is Kara with you?

Jack [06:49] : Maybe you should take the whole day off ;)

--------------

"Do you have a highlighter?"

"Yeah, it's in the drawer over there." Kara pointed vaguely in the direction of her study. With that, she returned to chewing on her pen cap. The underpass sounded promising. She could try that first. A '#1' was scribbled in the margin to the right.

Now, just the diner, the playground and… the club? Kara must've jotted it down in a sleep-deprived fugue. That'd be the only version of her desperate enough to be jostled against under strobe lights and obscenely loud music. Not to mention the smell…

She pressed her pen tip against the paper and drowned the idea in a sea of black.

Right, so underpass, diner, playground. She could probably fit the first after work; all she needed to do was to spring the idea on an unsuspecting car owner in her circles. The diner — oh wait, time for dinner.

"Lena, do you want Chinese?" She yelled. No response. Strange. Kara hopped off the couch in search of her.

At a glance, the kitchen was empty and the bathroom too. Kara turned into the study.

"Lena?" The letter opener plummeted from her grasp.

"Kara, you scared me!" Lena barked out a laugh, a steadying hand darted over her heart.

"I'm sorry," Kara rounded the table, her footsteps in tune with the thundering of her heart. Was she seeing things? Resting her chin on Lena's shoulder, she muttered. "Just wanted to get your order. I'm hungry."

"You always are," Lena reached out, running an affectionate stroke down her cheek.

"Yeah." Her gaze settled on the elephant in the room, traced the familiar swirls she'd spent countless mournful afternoons mapping with her thumb. Soon after, Lena's followed suit.

"It's pretty." Underneath, she could feel Lena stiffen even as her words had long faded.

It must've been a reflex at this point. A kiss to the sharp bend of her jaw and hands sliding over her middle, Kara's words came out smooth and gentle like a soothing wave.

"Yeah, it means a lot to me."

"Then it means a lot to me too." Lena smiled — she heard it in her voice. Delicately threaded between every pause, every syllable; Kara understood that much. There was just something else within, a code for which she had no cipher. Lena could see; Lena believed. And yet, she'd positioned herself as a fence-sitter that night. The memory of Lena's vow resurfaced at that moment. Could it be?

Kara pressed a kiss to her forehead, eliciting an appreciative hum from her counterpart. "You up for Chinese? Because I'm definitely up for Chinese."

Past the shared giggles and one loud snort, Kara thought — Lena would come to her in time.

The next night, Lena appeared at the foot of her bed with a book bound in a familiar pea-green hardcover, freshly pulled from her bookshelves. And that same night, Kara came the closest she had to choking on air.

"I haven't had a bedtime story in ages." She explained, gingerly flipping it open. "Can I?"

She nodded dumbly and huddled in close.

There were other peculiar instances in the same vein — the spontaneous weekend camping trip definitely took the cake. (Technically, the raccoons did but semantics.) And each time, Kara recognised the increasing exasperation on her face.

"You know, you could just tell me."

"Kara, it's not that simple."

That was that afternoon. They hadn't moved from their positions since; the odd tension in the air kept them rooted in place.

Shrouded in darkness and in Lena's case, Kara's summer blanket, a black and white scene played on the flatscreen.

"— Lex Luthor was a close associate of Edge and at one point, almost brothers in law. They were seen —"

Clack. Kara turned at the sudden noise to witness Lena's jaw tense.

"I don't like him." She whispered.

"Lex?" Kara asked. The faux leather squeaked under her weight as she scooted over.

"Yes."

Reaching over, she snagged the remote from the coffee table and jabbed at a numbered button. Instantly, the dull palette vanished and in its place, warm tones and bright pastels captivated the eyes.

"Well, no more Lex." Kara declared.

She felt it in the air — a premonition of an imminent revelation and Kara had an inkling what. Lena spoke; the prophecy was quickly fulfilled.

"Kara, I don't like lying to you." She began. Their hands met for the first time in hours.

"You're just not talking to me." She wanted to hear it from Lena's lips, wanted honesty. And maybe, vindication too that she'd come to the right conclusion. That all this time, Lena had remembered. Even if it felt nothing but petty.

"It's about me." Lena swallowed — she'd caught on. "How I actually —"

It all happened so quickly. One moment Lena was speaking, on the cusp of her confession and the next, she bit out a curse. If it weren't for her enhanced vision, she would've missed it. Just like that night, a bright glow flashed into existence, almost in warning, and then… it was gone. But this time, there was no firefly for cover and it definitely didn't leave alone. Where there was once flesh and blood…

With shaky hands, Kara inspected the aftermath. A clean, rounded stump stared back as if it'd always been there. But Kara knew better — Lena had half a nail left on that pinky and now she had none.

Finally, she understood.

Kara didn't remember when Lena had crawled into her lap. Nor did she remember when they'd moulded their fronts together, their heartbeats practically pounding in the same chest. But in every moment, every second, the steady pressure of Lena's weight granted her solace from the crawling sensation rising in her gut. She's still here, she's still here, she's still here. It drowned out the growing disquiet in her mind — the suspicion that Lena would slowly fade away. Again.

They were safe here like this. She had to believe. And if an eternity in this silence was what it took for Lena to stay, Kara would gladly remain.

"I'm sorry," Lena's breath tickled at the raised tendons on her neck.

"Why?" Kara choked out. Why risk it all?

Lena's hands moved then. Drawing soothing circles into her back, gravitating up to her shoulders next. Her fingers made a convincing argument; Kara felt her muscles loosen.

"Because you deserve so much more." You deserve the truth.

Kara nodded weakly. She understood the toll of hiding herself well, spent years grappling with secrecy and then her secret identity. Some days, she'd feel the urge to just scream it from the rooftops, to lighten the weight on her chest just a smidge. But the people she loved shared in it too. An exchange of trust and more — they'd shouldered the burden right by her side.

And Lena, on the other hand, had been all alone.

At that, Kara burrowed deeper into Lena's hold. She didn't want that. Not anymore. Not if she could help it.

"I'll be there for you. Always." She declared, seemingly without preemptive. Lena took the non-sequitur in stride, just like how she made no fuss about the growing wet stain on her shirt.

"Are you proposing?" Kara knew it was an attempt to breathe levity into the moment but cooperation was beyond her in her current state.

Forever (at least in relative terms). The idea didn't terrify her. Quite the opposite, in fact. There was just the inexplicable certainty it conferred — she liked that. She wanted that.

Lena pulled away gently and cocked her head in question.

"Would you say yes?"

It was then that Kara registered the pale moonlight peeking in — betrayed by a mere reflection glimmering in Lena's depths.

"I… I don't think this is the best time for that." A hand traversed the newly-formed canyon between them and urged their edges back together until what remained was the slightest of fissures. It was Lena's way of holding her hand up; a nonverbal 'but' to reassure before she continued. "Ask me another time?"

"Okay," her smile crept high onto her cheeks. "Okay, another time."

Lena leaned over, her eyes fluttering shut. A kiss to seal the deal and then a slip.

"I love you." The words lingered between them. She didn't mean to; she'd been waiting for the right moment with the right ambience. The right state of mind. But she knew Lena heard her and she wasn't about to take it back.

In the darkness, it was illuminating. Her eyes shimmered. Kara stood corrected. No, it wasn't the moon. It was all Lena. She let her mouth hang agape at the sight, so awestruck that she almost missed it.

The reciprocation. "I love you too."

---------------

Love (with the big, capital 'L') was a loaded word with far too much meaning cramped into a measly four letters. It wasn’t to be taken lightly between romantically involved parties.

It was a declaration. One that said 'my life's so entwined with yours that I cannot possibly extricate myself whole'.

In the days that followed, a new sort of peace descended upon them. For starters, they were both at ease; Lena's smile had grown impossibly exuberant and Kara was helpless but to respond in kind.

But mostly, it was the nascent awareness in the background, always growing; always out of reach.

She'd heard so much about this feeling — the passion and its manifestation — that for a while, Kara worried. That her own feelings didn't run deep enough, that she was inadvertently letting Lena down.

A prompt sit-down put an end to that thought and Kara came to the realisation that sometimes, happiness could also be a quiet affair. One could just know.

Until she found it tucked away in Lena's wardrobe. That was… loud.

The heavy rustle of leather filled the air.

"I still can't believe you have this." Kara raved as her hands roamed over the sea of studs from the shoulders down to the lapel. And sometimes, she still couldn't believe that Lena was here. With her. While the initial paranoia had faded, Kara would occasionally find herself pressing closer than necessary and that was that, but it made her reevaluate too. A close brush with death — it could've been anyone in Lena's place. Alex, Eliza, Kelly, Winn, James… hers—

"Well, if I'd known you'd be this appreciative, I would've taken it out earlier." A finger pressed against her collarbone and it took every ounce of self-control not to delay their outing a second time. "You missed a spot, darling."

"Oh." She zipped off to the sink just as quickly as she'd returned; the only evidence of her absence lay in the fleeting flutter of fabric and the conspicuous absence of wine red against her skin.

Lena's eyes twinkled in amusement. "How do your clothes survive such velocities?"

"Don't ask Winn. You'll only over-inflate his ego."

And with that, they took to the streets, fading into the weekend bustle of National City hand in hand. Through crowded sidewalks, busy crossings and rushing for shelter at the nearest café when a sudden bout of precipitation.

They sagged in their seats — Kara just as dry as the day she emerged from the matrix and Lena glowering like a drowned rat, muttering something about the injustices of life. Well, it wasn't her fault that the sun waterproofed her. But more importantly…

"You know, this reminds me of our first meeting." She toyed with Lena's fingers before lifting her shortened pinky to her lips. A soft sigh escaped Lena's own; her foul mood abated. "Can I get you a coffee?"

"Don't we have some ghost hunting to —" Kara's face fell. "You know what? Coffee sounds good."

Smelled good too. Kara relished the deep, fragrant aroma over her cinnamon buns. As long as she wasn't deceived by its welcoming facade again — how could something so inviting taste so bad? She took a gulp of her hot chocolate instead, powering through the wall of steam erupting from the surface.

"So, let me in on the surprise?"

"What —" Kara swallowed quickly at Lena's pointed look. "—surprise?"

"Where we're going?" She prompted.

"Oh!" She paused to lick the icing off her lips. Lena shifted in her seat, absorbed in an outcome for which she'd get little payoff. Her grin grew wider. Reaching for a napkin, she dabbed at her lips instead and watched as Lena's expression stitched into a scowl. Kara never was a theatre kid but the art of suspense? That she could do.

She downed the rest of her hot chocolate. And finally, she spoke. "It's a surprise to me too!"

Words were beyond Lena now — she could deduce that much from the sharp intake of breath, from the fingers massaging at her temple. Yep, exasperation definitely.

"It's like how ants locate food for the colony. Walk in random directions and then jackpot!" An innocuous glance at Lena stilled her heart. Watching as her features quickly morphed into bewilderment was a relief and yet, it wasn't. Kara was filled with the sudden urge to clamber over the table and sweep her into a bear hug.

Her chair screeched abruptly against the tiles.

"But that's a colony of ants. We're just… two people — what are you doing?"

"Well, we have a flying ant," she pulled Lena out of her seat. "And a… queen ant! I'd say we have pretty good odds." Pressing a quick kiss to her cheek, she let her smile flourish and eventually take root on Lena too.

"Well, I suppose you do make a good point."

"Great, let's —" Her phone chimed loudly in her pocket. Dang it. Grumbling at the ill-timed interruption, she frowned at the caller ID.

"Alex?"

"Kara!" She yelled, with a side of laboured breathing. Right, today was the big move. It all added up easily.

"Ha! I told you you'd need help with that co—"

"Kara, come quick! There's a floating mug and — no, don't come any closer!"

---------------

"Um hi, I'm Kara." She offered the ghost her hand — the best sign of goodwill she could scrape up given their circumstances. It was three against one (if they were so inclined to see it that way) with backup peering in from the door. She didn't think it necessary but with Alex brandishing a spatula, she wasn't quite sure her sister would agree.

The ghost fumbled, reaching out with his free hand before jerking away; he pressed the stained white mug into her grasp instead. Unconsciously, Kara's nose wrinkled from the smell of stale coffee. And a teaspoon of sugar, the well-trained personal assistant part of her mind supplied.

"Gerald." Was his curt reply. No look of offense took hold.

From the corner of her eye, Alex flinched.

"Okay, maybe we could have a chat… in private?"

Hauling Alex out of the kitchen was a tense affair. Her sharp eyes never left the mug even as Kara nudged her away and well, that look didn't need any introductions. She couldn't blame Alex. Not when she couldn’t see for herself. With his tweed suit, glasses and neatly cropped grey hair, he resembled a kindly college professor much more than anyone with any outwardly malicious intent.

It was a role reversal she never expected. Though the 'floating mug' part was in itself confounding. Maybe she'd rubbed off on her over the years. Just a little and apparently not enough?

The door clicked shut. Deep breaths. Kara turned. "So, how much do you know?"

As it turns out, a lot. Or at least more than the average ghost she met.

"I'm dead, my cup is oddly corporeal, I can't leave and my landlord is desperate for anyone to sign the lease." He quipped, the lines in his face rearranging themselves into a wry smile. "Did I miss anything?"

"You can. Leave, that is," Kara said. "I can help you."

"At what cost?"

"You'd just… disappear and start a new life."

When Kara finally re-emerged from the kitchen, the hushed chatter of discussion ceased instantly and three pairs of eyes swung to her. Suspense hung in the air like a heavy fog and they waited. Right, how was she gonna break the news…

Alex was the first to speak, sighing, "Out with the bad news first."

"He prefers to stay… indefinitely but the good news is — he's really friendly?" Kara knew it wouldn't help. They'd been looking forward to this move for months and now, they had nothing but disappointment and a logistical nightmare on their hands.

"You guys could move in with me while you sort it out. It might get a little cramped but —"

"Kara can stay with me." Lena blurted. Realising what she'd said, she turned quickly and mouthed, "If that's alright with you?"

"Yeah, you can stay as long as you need to!"

And that was the last she'd expected to speak of that apartment. Or see it. But there lay the problem with deadlines — they're immovable, unrelenting and time, like a conveyor belt, only rushed her closer and closer to collision.

Kara (with an uncharacteristically fearful Alex in tow) had rushed from spot to spot for the smallest trace of paranormal activity. Even resorting to sending her sister into that grimy nightclub by the command of her pout.

"No ghosts but the beer is ghastly — I think I'm gonna throw up." Alex grumbled as soon as she returned. Dry heaving by the sidewalk, Kara patted her back sympathetically.

"Well, the ghost part wasn't that bad right?"

"I don't… know." With a grunt, Alex righted herself. "Will it ever be? Definitively 'not that bad'?"

"It did for me. You helped. Lena too, and Will. With the right people by your side, it's hard for things not to."

She nodded, the beginnings of a chuckle rumbling in her throat. "Alright wise girl, where to next?"

Still, success remained light-years out of reach. And so, with the keys procured from Alex jingling in her grasp, Kara knocked with purpose — that of simple desperation. (Because really, she didn't want to be the first test subject of the unstoppable force paradox.)

"Kara?" A familiar face poked through before disappearing from sight. His voice echoed. Teleported back into the living room was her guess. "Well, come in I suppose."

"I brought coffee," she began. His gaze flickered downwards to where she clutched her notebook and her pen.

"And an agenda, it seems."

"You caught me." With her hands full, Kara's nervous energy shot down to her feet. She shifted, straightened herself up and continued. "Are you up for an interview?"

---------------

It was 4 AM by her estimates when she took to the skies once more, mulling over her notes in the meantime.

Profile: Gerald, Mid-50s, Clinical Psychologist

Location: Apartment along Cottage Road

(Anonymous tip from former tenant)

• Loves coffee

• Possesses a calming disposition

• Always up for a chat

• Harbours a deep sadness in his eyes

• Stares wistfully out the window at four o'clock sharp

Soon after she'd scribbled that down, she'd learn about the separation. 'Too caught up in other people's business and not in his own' as he'd described it with the swift accompaniment of a mirthless chuckle. Her fingers tightened around her pen at that. It was a reminder of how easily things could be taken for granted; how quickly they could be taken away. The pen burst in a shower of ink with her yelp following closely behind.

Despite her profuse apologies, Gerald only reacted with a raised eyebrow before continuing his story to its bittersweet end. One day, after his passing, he'd peeked out his window to a familiar face in the fancy playground below.

"And that's how I discovered I'm technically a grandfather now."

"How do you deal with that? Losing the ones you love."

"Not well, frankly. I wouldn't expect anyone to. I suppose the best we can do is to hold on." He cleared his throat and looked her in the eyes. This part was meant for her. "And talk to them. Let them in."

Her face — Supergirl's face — collided with a window. That was embarrassing. A quick survey of her surroundings revealed no cameras in sight.

"Romeo, I'd prefer if you'd stick to throwing rocks at my window." Kara jumped (or whatever the equivalent in midair was). Last she checked, Lena was fast asleep but here she was, her elbows resting against the window sill. With the dazzling twinkle of her eyes and the mesmerising sway of her raven-black hair, the what? sputtering up her throat was quickly swallowed whole.

"Why settle for rocks when you can have me?" Kara climbed through the window, the heel of her boots tapping lightly against the floor.

"You think you're so charming," Lena chided, only to be betrayed with that enamoured look she wore.

"I do."

"And you'd be right." Her hands disappeared from Kara's field of vision; she felt fingers skim the back of her suit. Ah, found them. They halted at the hidden zipper. "Can I help you with that?"

"Yeah," she nodded, gasping as the cold air methodically swept down her spine. Inch by inch, heralded by a faint metallic whisper sliding down, down, down. "You should go back to bed."

"Not without you."

The cheerleader skirt fell. Kara kicked off her boots next and attempted the stockings last — it still hung off one leg when Lena pulled her in with a whine.

"I smell like smoke." She protested.

In rebuttal, Lena nuzzled in close. Until the flimsy oversized shirt Lena didn't own felt negligible between them; they were skin to skin. "Smoking hot."

"Smoking bad."

Legs locked over her middle without warning; Kara was trapped. "You're good. No more arguing."

Well, if she put it that way… There went all ability to protest.

Lena's vice grip eventually slackened — a gentle touch on her shoulder blade and a light caress on her lower back, her legs slipped off onto the welcoming bed below. Was she afraid too?

"I'm scared I'll lose you."

Lena shifted and greeted her with a sight she'd never tire of.

"Not always but at times, I'll go 'what if?' and then I am. Scared." Because I almost did that day.

Shimmying up her form, Lena slowly moulded her big spoon smaller — Kara curled around her, forehead fitting perfectly into the crook of her neck.

"Sometimes I'm scared too." There was an uptick in her voice. Evidently, Lena had thought of something. "Let's cut a deal, I'll hold you through yours and you'll hold me through mine."

Kara wiggled her pinky before her eyes. "Come here."

And Lena did, giggling with childlike glee.

---------------

It began as an innocent suggestion. She'd returned for Gerald's approval on her first draft and left with newfound conviction.

"Emotions can be processed effectively through artistic expression if you're still looking for advice." He set his mug on the tabletop, clasping his hands together only for it to forcibly return a split second later. Gerald shrugged his surprise off with ease. Ineffable as always, it seemed. "A hobby perhaps?"

"I write for a living."

He scoffed. "Work doesn't count."

And so, Kara gripped a paintbrush for the first time in a decade, surrounded by shades of red and grey. Geometric shapes posed no challenge to her — she'd been trained in blueprinting and drafting from the age of ten. It lent well to the sharp, angled landscape of Krypton with its craggy mountains and the city's towering skyscrapers.

"It's beautiful," Lena breathed, wrapping her arms around her middle.

"It's Argo City. Where I grew up."

"Beautiful." Kara felt her lean in and met her halfway.

Natural shapes, on the other hand, hadn't come to young Kara naturally, her hand correcting its trajectory on instinct even if it's the last thing she wanted. She supposed Alex's suspicions were warranted when Kara appeared at her doorstep, canvas in hand.

"Is my face square again?" She questioned through narrowed eyes.

"No, why would it be?" Kara snickered. From Kelly's appreciative nod and Alex reddening at the reveal, she concluded she had done quite a good job.

Another week, another portrait. Wall-ex (as they called her) now had a new companion.

And then, there was Lena. Accosting her at the door, wearing nothing but a silk robe — something was clearly up that voluminous sleeve.

"Draw me like one of your french girls?" Oh. Oh Rao. Kara straightened, a hand shooting out to adjust her glasses and just so conveniently obscure the growing splotches of red on her cheeks.

"The Titanic sank." She said quickly. What was she doing? Lena bit down on her lip, less so for the purpose of seduction and more towards stifling the amusement threatening to spill past them.

"Well, maybe you can sink your titanic into —" her resolve buckled under the strain and with it, raucous laughter burst forth as if they'd been shut away within Pandora's box. Because that's what this was, wasn't it? They'd endured the suffering, both together and apart and now, creeping over the ornate ledge after all this time — hope. For the future. Together.

Lena's words from that night echoed in her mind; she knew what to do now.

"I'm sorry. I ruined the mood, didn't I?" Lena huffed, still clutching tightly onto her sides. "But you like the robe?"

"Yes," Kara swallowed, her throat bobbing in plain sight. "Very much."

"Good, it's comfy." Standing on her tiptoes, she pressed a quick kiss to her cheek and after a moment's deliberation, another to her lips.

"Good, get comfy then." Kara herded Lena over to the cluttered couch. "Because we're starting today."

They'd settled on having Lena reclined, nose-deep in her favourite book whilst the late afternoon sun splayed across her countenance. It wasn’t the first time she'd thought this and it certainly wouldn't be the last — the sun and her were undoubtedly in cahoots. There was no other explanation how a mere mortal could look so divine.

Kara's hands, imbued with newfound purpose, shook with every stroke. Sure, Wall-ex was meant to prove a point but this… was to make a point. A very important, life-changing point.

Excitement mixed with trepidation was an endless powder keg. An incline too sharp, a curve too wide, losing herself in counting the thick lashes on each eye; she's lucky this was only the pencilled outline. But she needed to get her act together. Stat.

"You look like you could use a break," Lena commented. Her robes were already sliding along the white leather as she spoke, making the most decadent of rustles. Hands slid onto her shoulders, slowly kneading on the flesh below. "Looking good."

"It's a little rough," she grimaced. But nothing she couldn’t fix. The silk passed over the bare skin of her neck and she shivered, eyes fluttering shut. "You know, the silk does feel nice."

"I could get you one if you'd like." Lena hummed, her breath now against her ear.

"Yes, please."

"Okay, darling." A kiss to her jaw. "Snacks?"

Kara shot upright at that. "Oh Rao, yes!"

It became a routine over the next few days. They'd return from work, Lena calling in takeout while Kara prepared her palette. Then, she'd wrap her arms around her middle, plant her chin on her shoulder, watching as Kara breathed life into the unpolished sketch before the food arrived.

Scoffing down her food, she'd rush back over to the canvas lest the paints dried and they'd lapse into a trance — light conversation or simply listening to whatever Lena put on on the television.

Steeped in their routines, time passed in an idyllic fashion. Until one day, Kara turned and said, "Hey um, do you mind not looking from here on out?"

Lena stretched lazily behind her. "Oh?" She asked. Or yawned. It wasn’t entirely clear which.

"It's a surprise!" A surprise detail which would ruin the other surprise if it were to grace Lena's sight.

"Oh, okay then." She padded out the living room, presumably to lounge on their ginormous bed. At least, that's what Kara thought. But Lena never failed to amaze, reappearing with a sleeping mask.

Slipping it on, she resumed her previous position against Kara's back. "I'm not looking." She grinned triumphantly. Fair enough. Kara wasn't about to complain.

Come Friday, another deviation occurred. The easel remained folded in the corner and Kara stood wooden at the door, a bag of takeout in hand. Lena blinked at her; she gulped. Please don't question, please don't question, please don't question

"How'd you know I was craving for Big Belly Burger?"

"I-I did?" Kara stuttered. Oh Rao, not helping. "I did! Gotta go! Shower first!"

Her escape was hindered by long fingers gripping her sleeve. "With the burgers?" Lena held out her free hand, shooting her an expectant look.

"To protect my fries!" She shifted and the small box buried deep in her pocket reminded her of its presence. Its very conspicuous presence. What an attention-seeking pipsqueak. It'd probably call out to Lena if it could.

Rolling her eyes, Lena released her grip. "Please keep it dry."

And with a quick salute, Kara scurried away.

(The bag did indeed remain dry. Mostly.)

Saturday was spent lazing about, sneaking about. It wasn’t easy. Lena had some sort of sixth sense for when Kara had wiggled out of her grasp.

"Bathroom," she'd said each time.

Hindsight was 20/20 but unfortunately, did not enable time travelling as much as Kara wished it would. It would've saved a lot of grief. Because on Sunday, she was stuck at the kitchen counter discussing her supposed overactive bladder.

"I-I swear I don't!" Oh Rao, this was all such a mess. Granted, she hadn't quite planned out how she'd segue into it yet. But not like this. Oh Rao, definitely not like this.

"It's fine if you do, Kara —"

"Iwasworkingonsomething."

Lena, by some miracle, understood her jumble of words. Cocking her head, she motioned for her to continue.

"I was working on the painting… I have something to ask you actually." Kara scratched at her nape.

"Oh, me too actually." Her chest rose and fell dramatically. Something important. "I was wondering if you wanted to meet my mother. She's coming to National City for Christmas."

"Of course I'd love to! Well, I think I might need to… be right back!" With that, Kara jogged off out of sight, returning with the finished painting and a conspicuous hand behind her back.

"It's beautiful," Lena breathed, lips curling into a soft smile. "If it isn't narcissistic to say so."

"I call it ugem chao uldif. It means 'now and forever' in Kryptonese."

"Now," her fingers ghosted over her reflection, her voice thick with the undertones of reverence. "And forever?"

Gasp. Kara registered the sharp intake of breath. From this angle, it wasn't quite clear what had captured her attention but Kara had a hunch. She put it there, after all.

That was her cue. Kara showed her hand. Inside the box — just peeking out from the ample cushioning — was a thin, silver band.

"That night, you asked me to ask you some other time." She could barely hear herself past the booming bongo drums of her pulse; Kara powered through regardless. She was so close. "So, I'm asking you now."

Patience, patience, patience — her mind pleaded. But there was just something so magnetic about Lena that she gravitated to her. That she needed to.

Their foreheads bumped; her sense of urgency renewed. Before she lost herself entirely.

"Marry me?" They drifted closer, eyes fluttering shut.

"Yes." It was more a hum than a coherent word. The vibrations rippled through her lips and echoed in the cavern of her mouth.

Again. Lena was speaking again. And again. Chanting her answer over and over until it faded into incomprehensibility. It's no matter. She already knew, interred its meaning deep inside her bones. A fundamental, irreversible change written into her very DNA — you're mine and I'm yours.

The tang of salt bloomed on her tongue. Alarmed, Kara pulled away. "Lena?"

"Sorry." She dabbed at her eyes and offered Kara her hand. "Put it on?"

"Yeah, of course," Kara nodded, ducking forward and kissing away the beginning of a tear streak. Then, she cupped Lena's hand gently in hers.

The ring slid so smoothly, so easily in place. They'd earned that much.

Thirteen years ago, any semblance of a happy ending exploded in flames through reinforced silica windows. Five years ago, it disappeared in a shower of golden specks. One minute ago…

They were here. In spite of everything.

"So, wifey…" Kara made sure to linger on that one particular word and Lena giggled along. "What do you wanna do now?" Well, she had a couple of good ideas. And one their neighbours wouldn't like.

"I don't know —" She was cut off by the obnoxious blaring of her ringtone. Dang it, Alex. Phones really do ring at the most inopportune time.

The call connected and Kara greeted her sister with a (rightfully) grumpy hello.

"Hey, just wanted to say Kelly and I found a new apartment. You can move back in about… two weeks?"

"Oh um, about that…"

Poor unsuspecting Alex didn't know what hit her.

---------------

Slow and steady, they'd initially decided. Pick Lena's mother up from the airport, leave a good impression and then spring the news onto her. What could go wrong?

The last thing they'd expected was to be betrayed by the afternoon glare. Polished silver gleamed brilliantly on her finger. Kara saw it, Lena saw it, her mother saw it. There was no escaping the fast-inflating elephant in the room.

"We're… engaged?" Lena grinned sheepishly as her jaw dropped. "Surprise?"

It all blurred together. Squealing, jumping about and a string of congratulations; some time in the middle, Kara herself was pulled into the mix with Lena in the centre of a crushing hug.

So yes, Kara would still consider it a success. And an important learning experience — change of plans. When she flew Lena over to Midvale, it was the first thing they mentioned.

"Oh." Eliza blinked, her hand still on her front door. "Oh! Oh, I'm so happy for you two!"

Another hug, another round of warm, fuzzy feelings and a whole casserole to take back home with her. She could definitely get used to this.

"Maybe we should get married every year," Kara laughed, flopping over lazily with a bounce. She didn't think she'd ever say this but Rao, was she stuffed.

"I'm not sure our finances could take that." Lena shuffled into bed with much more restraint, pulling the covers along with her.

"Right, Miss Head-of-R&D." And when Lena scowled, Kara stuck out her tongue — oh, she missed a spot. Inching it over, she swept the remaining icing off her chin and into where it belonged. (Which was her mouth, of course.) "I'll just ask Jack for a U-Haul cake every year."

"I still can't believe he did that. We've been together for a respectable eight months!" Lena sank deeper under the covers, her cheeks puffed up in indignance. Really, it wasn’t fair that anyone could look so adorable but Kara had long forgone her attempts to resist.

"Yeah, why would we need a U-haul anyway? He's seen my nice arms." Said arms welcomed Lena eagerly, the contact drawing soft exhales from them both. And for a brief moment, all was silent.

"Can we visit Ireland?" A sudden request. And unexpected too. Kara was lucky she couldn't get whiplash. "I… have something I need to do."

The general ambiguity clued her in to the nature of her errand; she didn't question, merely nodding and whispering back, "Yeah, sure."

They picked a date in the week following New Year's Day and right off the bat, they were confronted with their first mistake. It was cold — bitingly so from how Lena shivered. Kara wrapped her own coat around her, brushing off the questioning looks they received.

Then came their second blunder. According to Lena, at least. They'd rented a car for the trip, Kara — the only one with a driver's licence — got behind the wheel and an hour later, Lena was screaming to be let out.

Pulling over, Kara regarded a ghastly pale Lena in the passenger seat. "Are you okay?"

"P-please just fly us there." Her voice quivered to the whirr of the heater. First Alex, then Lena. She couldn't be that bad… She got her licence for a reason!

But Lena was still shivering, curled up so tiny that Kara's heart ached. Fine, she grumbled. Taking pity on her, she scooped Lena up and did just that.

They touched down on the outskirts of the small Irish town of Ardclough and with their hands linked, Lena took the lead through the sparse streets. It was a far cry from National City and even Midvale. There was no worry of being jostled, not much of a crowd to plan around either — on the roads or off it. Just… peace and quiet.

Eventually, they reached a seemingly endless stretch of canal.

Lena paused, peering at both sides as if in search of something. Her eyes lit up. To the right it was then.

"Here," Lena said, approaching the bank. Grey skies hung above like a gloomy backdrop. Lena waited patiently and so, Kara did too; let the winds lull her into a hazy stupor. It was secluded, and consequently tranquil. The kind of spot where one would intuitively know they were truly alone.

Ripples in the water — Kara snapped to attention. There, at the far end. Something was breaking the surface… Her hand tightened against Lena's; she took a stuttering breath, never once averting her gaze.

Heavy linen dredged against the water surface; it was clear she was from another time. Splash, splash, splash. Closer and closer. Kara wanted to look away.

"Hello." Lena breathed. The ghost halted a mere few inches from them.

"It's… been a while." Beside her, she tensed. Silence. Nothing. Still, Kara urged her closer into her side. And with a shaky exhale, Lena continued. "I just… I-I'm okay now."

Slowly, the ghost lowered her gaze, landing between them where their hands hung clasped and finally, on the hint of silver around Lena's finger.

She drew closer, her head tilting ever so slightly as if examining Lena's features.

It began as quickly as it ended. The ghost was gone.

Her gaze grew distant, unmoving even as the last traces of gold shimmered out of existence.

"Lena?" She ventured, unsure if she'd prefer the silence. For a brief moment, her lip quivered and Kara was prepared to pull her in.

But its corners lifted, her eyes refocused, chuckling softly into the wind. "I-Is that what you do for work?"

"Somewhat." Kara took her other hand. It wasn’t the same — try as she might, they were mere acquaintances. The emotional connection was bound to be lacking. "I don't think I could be as strong as you."

"Is it?" Lena looked away.

"I was an emotional wreck, you know." Kara squeezed — a plea for Lena's attention. "I can't imagine knowing and still… choosing to let go like that."

"You would've done it if she wanted." You almost did.

"I didn't exactly get a choice in the end." She laughed, if only to conceal the growing wetness in her eyes.

"Then choose now." Extricating a hand from her grip, Lena rifled through her deep pocket until finally, triumphantly, she produced a thin silver bracelet reminiscent of the ring she wore. "I know on Krypton you exchanged bracelets instead…"

Kara gasped. "You planned this?"

"Not exactly… I didn't really know how..." Cheeks reddening, Lena held it up to her. "I take it that it's a yes?"

"I-I gave you a ring! Of course it is!"

And so, they matched throughout the trip and they matched all the way home.

---------------

Seven years from that fateful summer, two years from that chance re-encounter. Much had happened since then. A new salad bar opened around the corner — one Lena made a point to frequent much to Kara's distaste. She saw the resemblance, recognised it for what it was.

She did try a bowl once with extra blue cheese dressing. Still not her thing.

Cat Grant sold CatCo, her paranormal column was cancelled and now she was in charge of a full-page 'Ask Supergirl' segment instead. Which made sense, she supposed. Supergirl just sold like hotcakes; there was no competition there but that didn't stop her from going around National City in her free time. Sometimes with Alex in tow, sometimes with Lena hand-in-hand. (Her sister finally saw her first full ghost a few months back too.)

And then, there was the wedding a good ten months in the making. Dressed in a replica of Kryptonian ceremonial garb, surrounded by the people who mattered. Watching Lena walk down the aisle, sweeping Lena into a premature kiss… The I dos, the first dance she floated through (until she bumped her head on the ceiling but no one's allowed to mention that), the personal buffet Lena arranged for her, complete with an assortment of potstickers. Oh Rao, could she marry her again right now?

And when the wedding bouquet entered the air, Alex shedded her calm facade and hoisted Kelly up in the air for the perfect catch.

(For the record, it worked. Another wedding was in planning a few weeks after.)

"I fell asleep," Lena grumbled. An avalanche of pens, papers and curses followed closely behind. Eyeing the wet stain on her sleeve, her tone grew apologetic. "And I drooled all over your shirt."

"I'll just get changed later. No big." Kara stretched her newly-freed arm up in the air and Lena, ever the opportunist, burrowed her way in, nuzzling against her chest like a demanding housecat. No one could deny them anything and likewise, Lena had her wrapped around her thumb (or rather, ring finger) and Kara had her too. Maybe they should just wrap themselves around each other.

Setting her laptop down beside her, she urged her fully into her lap to the musical clattering of her implements. A requiem of nonchalance — goodbye, you won't be missed.

It's a spousal benefit after all, to be bumped up the day's to-do list.

"Maybe the shirt should come off now?" It sounded innocent up till a flash of teeth scraped against Lena's bottom lip. Oh, yeah definitely.

Kara nodded. Fingers scrabbling at the hem, her vision disappeared in a swoosh of white. And when it returned, Lena's attention had strayed.

"Dear Supergirl, what's the afterlife like?" she read off the screen, its glare bestowing an almost luminous quality to her visage. Hauntingly beautiful and terrifyingly apt for the subject at hand.

In truth, a small part of Kara always wondered. What happened when she was gone? Not that she'd ever know. Ignorance was one of the smallest prices one could pay for happiness, for the sense of contentment that filled their days.

"Well, I'd think —"

"Lena!" She grabbed her hands and with wide eyes, implored her to be silent.

Lena brought the tangle up to her lips, kissing each knuckle as if to say trust me.

Hands dropping into her lap, she motioned for her to continue.

"If we all return here after we pass, doesn't that make this heaven?" Lena smiled like the phases of day. Kara couldn't fathom how she hadn't realised before. Bright and glorious like midday, warm and gentle like sunrise and this time, wistful like the muted late afternoon glare.

"Yeah, I-I guess?"

"Well, lucky me then." She swept a stray lock of hair aside, hooking it over her ear. "That mine's being right here. In your arms."

Kara cupped her cheek, guided her in close. "No, lucky me." For everything she had. That every time she fell, she'd been lovingly rebuilt piece by piece; that against past Kara's better judgement, she'd stumbled into the Luthor Manor.

That after all this time, Lena was right here. In her arms.