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I Just Want to Love You in My Own Language

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The first time Lena sends her flowers they take up the majority of her office space, the fresh scent of them overwhelming her.

Among the various arrangements on nearly every surface of her office are some she recognizes. A significant amount she notices almost immediately - plumerias, pretty rare . She touches the white petals of a nearby flower with a small smile. They still remind her of her mother, but of Lena too now and the feelings swirl together in a warm sense of content she doesn’t feel all that often.

In the center of it all, on her desk, is a gorgeous glass vase full of over two dozen lavender roses. “Pretty,” she murmurs as she comes around to look at them. In the middle of the light purple flowers is a small card, thank you written in elegant script over the surface.

There’s no name, but there doesn’t need to be.

The amount of money it must have cost to fill her office with these kinds of arrangements is telling on its own.

When she confronts Lena later - so my office is overflowing with flowers - the teasing confirmation she gets tugs at something in her chest. It feels all too flirty and for a second she thinks Lena is going to close the distance between them for more than just a hug. It’s not the first time she’s thought such a thing. Lena just keeps looking at her in certain ways, the expressions softer the more time they spend together and Kara feels something building as if it were a tangible string between them.

Sometimes she wonders if she’s the only one that notices.

Later, when Kara returns to her office full of flowers and thinks about the way Lena Luthor keeps smiling at her every time they say goodbye, she thinks maybe Lena notices too.

---

It’s beyond embarrassing, but Kara doesn’t even realize they’re on a date until halfway through dessert when Lena reaches for the check before Kara can think to grab it.

“Here, we can split it,” Kara offers, dropping her fork back on her plate and reaching for her purse, hastily swallowing her chocolate cake.

“Of course not,” Lena dismisses, waving her hand before sliding a sleek black card into the small slot.

“Lena,” Kara admonishes, but she stops fishing through her purse for her wallet.

“I asked you to dinner,” Lena reminds her with a pointed look, handing the black book to the waiter as he passes. “What kind of date would I be if I let you pay?”

The shock Kara feels as the words register must show on her face because Lena’s cheeks go almost immediately red in a surprised expression Kara is sure not many get to witness on Lena Luthor.

“You…” Lena blinks, shakes her head slightly and gestures, visibly flustered. “You didn’t realize this was a- 

The dinner floods through her mind then with all their interactions painted in a different light and Rao , how had she not noticed? The memory of Lena’s invitation bursts back into her consciousness and Kara wants to slap herself. The almost nervous way she asked Kara to have dinner with her despite the fact that it wasn’t the first time they’ve ever shared a meal. The way Lena’s face fell just enough to be noticeable when Kara insisted on meeting at the restaurant. It seems so obvious now.

“No, I totally did,” Kara tries, feeling heat creep into her own face. “Totally. Definitely. Yes.”

She hadn’t of course, but now that the idea is swirling in her brain, she doesn’t want to ruin it with her own ineptitude. It’s been weeks of careful, slow flirtation that’s become so commonplace Kara’s begun to take it for granted. She never considered it’d become something more. That it would ever get to this place with Lena in a gorgeous black dress, blushing across the table and Kara feeling underwhelming in her own just-from-work-outfit.

She attempts to recover from her surprise, her hands feeling uncharacteristically shaky.

“We’re on a date. That you invited me on,” Kara says, trying to remember how to form full sentences. “Because you want to...date...me...”

Maybe talking is making it worse. Kara tends to make things worse with too much talking.

The waiter comes back with the check and Lena signs it hastily, shaking her head and laughing. It’s dismissive sounding in a way Kara feels is forced. It doesn’t help that Kara can easily hear the erratic beat of Lena’s heart. “Let’s just please forget the last few minutes and-”

“No,” Kara says, already halfway out her chair as Lena stands. “I don’t want to forget it.”

Lena stares at her, jaw tight and despite the thin smile on her face, Kara can see the vulnerability etched into the expression. Now that the moment is here, Kara wants to wrap herself around it and keep it forever. She’s on a date. With Lena Luthor. Why would she ever want to forget such a thing?

“You don’t?” The question is soft and careful. Not for the first time, Kara has to clench her fists at the almost irresistible urge to just hug Lena.

“No,” Kara replies, equally soft, but firm as she moves around the table to stand in front of her. “Of course not, I was just surprised. 

Lena looks unconvinced, so Kara continues. “I mean you’re you and I’m…,” she gestures vaguely, tries to find the words to explain what she means before settling on, “Me?”

Silence follows for a beat before Lena’s lips turn up just a twitch. “I don’t know what that means.”

Kara takes a breath she doesn’t usually need. “It means I am very aware and totally pleased we are on a date.”

Glancing away, Lena smiles, laughs a little. “This is entirely humiliating.”

“It’s not.”

“It is .”

Kara changes strategy, an ache forming just under her ribs at the look on Lena’s face. “How about this? I’ll ask you now.”

Lena arches an eyebrow. “Ask me what?”

A deep breath. A smile. “Would you like to go on a date with me tonight?”

Lena laughs, this time sounding more genuine and Kara’s smile widens in response. “Kara, we just ate.”

The obvious thing Kara thinks to say is that she could eat about six more meals and probably still be hungry, but that might not be the most attractive fact to admit to the gorgeous woman in front of her that totally wants to date .

“After dinner drink then,” Kara amends with a scrunch of her nose. That’s something people do on dates, right? “We’ll go have a drink and then when I pay for them and confess I’ve been secretly crushing on you for months you can act totally surprised and I’ll be super embarrassed and then we’ll be even.”

It probably makes little to no actual sense when Kara registers what she’s saying, but Lena’s eyes go a little wide. “You’ve been crushing on me for months?”

“Yeah,” Kara breathes out, feeling like a weight has been lifted even as her chest constricts. “Months. Pretty much.”

“Okay,” Lena intones lowly, nodding as if processing the information. The smile on her face promises things Kara can’t think about just yet. If she does there’s no way she’s going to make it through drinks without doing something even more embarrassing than not realize she’s on a date with National City’s most famous figure apart from Supergirl.

“Okay,” Kara repeats, extending her hand. Lena’s palm slides against her own and Kara feels the heat of it bleed across her skin.

--

It takes two glasses of red wine and Kara’s unwavering smile for Lena to truly relax again, the embarrassment of earlier finally starting to ebb away.

Later, when Kara walks Lena back to her building, she makes up for not realizing they were on a date by kissing Lena when the other woman is halfway through a goodbye. The I had a great time cuts out of Lena’s throat in a surprised gasp as soon as Kara threads into her personal space and fits their lips together.

“Is this okay?” Kara asks when they pull apart. She looks down into green eyes swimming with something darker than before. The heavy thump of Lena’s heartbeat resounds in her ears. She feels the pull to kiss her again, but waits for an answer before moving back in.  

Lena’s cheeks are flushed attractively and Kara can’t help the way her gaze lingers when Lena runs a tongue out across her lips. “Definitely okay,” Lena whispers softly before closing the space again, fingers twisting in Kara’s shirt, tugging their bodies in closer.

They spend far too long outside Lena’s building with their lips locked, but it’s not Kara’s fault. How could she resist the small noises Lena makes when Kara pulls their hips together or the way Lena’s teeth feel with the tug lightly on Kara’s bottom lip?

She walks all the way home after that instead of flying because she wants to savor the taste of their goodbye and isn’t entirely sure she’d be a competent flyer right now with the way her head is still spinning.

--

A flower arrangement featuring yellow daffodils gets delivered the next morning and Kara shakes her head as she takes the massive bundle from the delivery person.

The card attached to the arrangement reads I had a great time last night. Hopefully we can repeat the experience in the future. - LL

---

They don’t repeat the experience. At least not right away. 

Kara gets caught up in the usual stuff - rogue alien to fight here, supervillain to subdue there, the ever constant struggle to succeed at CatCo.

Lena contacts her a few times, casual invites to lunch or dinner, and Kara even accepts a few. But then there’s always some reason to cancel - some duty that calls her away.

The next time she sees Lena it’s in her office on official CatCo business.

“Miss Luthor,” Kara greets, aware of Lena’s assistant watching their greeting like a hawk.

“Kara,” Lena replies with the beginning of a smirk tugging at her lips. She gestures to a chair invitingly and Kara takes a seat. The use of her first name calms some of Kara’s nerves, but the sound of Lena’s office door closing still almost makes her jump.

“I assume you’re here for a quote on the new project L Corp announced with Wayne Enterprises,” Lena begins, the consummate professional.

It’s why Snapper sent her, of course, but there are other reasons she didn’t hesitate at the opportunity. “I am, but-”

“But?”

“I haven’t seen you since-”

“Our date,” Lena says succinctly, picking a pen up and opening a folder in front of her. She checks something off on the paper and doesn’t look up. “So what would you like to know about the project?”

It feels dismissive in a way Kara hates. “Lena,” she says softly.

At the sound of her name, Lena picks her head up, gaze snapping into Kara’s.

“I know what being avoided feels like,” she comments, twisting the pen in her hand and regarding Kara across the desk. “I must admit I’m a little surprised. I thought we had a nice time.”

“I’m not avoiding you,” Kara says quickly, leaning forward. “I swear.”

“What else would you call it?”

“I’ve been busy.”

“I’ve heard that excuse,” Lena replies, leaning back in her chair. “I’ve used it, in fact.”

“It’s not an excuse.”

“Is that so?”

“Lena, it’s not . I haven’t stopped thinking about our date and about-” Kara bites at her lip “-how much I want to do it again.”

Lena regards her, eyes narrowing just slightly. “You do?”

“Absolutely,” Kara replies quickly, her tone lower than she intends. She can’t help the way memory wraps around her voice when she thinks about her date and how Lena looked and felt and everything that’s building between them. She’s desperate to hold on to it.

It takes a moment, but Lena seems to actually believe her. She leans back towards her desk, elbows propping up and tilts her head at Kara. “Well then. Do let me know when you stop being...busy.”

“You will be my first call.” Maybe it’s a little too eager, but it’s how Kara feels. At this point she will make the time to see Lena again.

Lena bites her lip a little, picking her pen back up. “Ask me about this project before I do something unprofessional.”

--

When Kara leaves, packed with enough L Corp information to make Snapper happy, Lena rounds her desk to say goodbye.

A lingering kiss is placed to Kara’s cheek and a whispered, “I hope to hear from you again soon,” leaves Kara tingling all the way back to CatCo.

--

Desperate to make sure Lena is clear about her intentions, Kara thinks of different ways to communicate her message in the event she can’t in fact find the time to go on a date again.

Later that night, she finally decides and balances a laptop on her knees to scour the internet for flowers. She settles on a mix of red and white roses she finds that looks pretty and elegant enough to seem worthy of Lena Luthor.

She sends them to Lena’s office because she can’t remember Lena’s home address - the memory of the building too muddled by another memory of Lena’s lips and fingers and hips.

--

It’s barely two days later that Kara has to hear the words attack and L Corp in the same sentence. For a second she feels frozen, incapable of figuring out what to do until thoughts of Lena in trouble spur her into action. She barely registers Alex’s warning shout of her name as she zooms towards downtown.

Lena’s at her desk when Kara lands on the balcony and the other woman looks casual, unconcerned as she types away at her laptop.

“Supergirl,” Lena says when Kara waltzes into the office. “This is a surprise.”

It’s then that Kara realizes she maybe should have listened to the entire message being relayed at the DEO before just flying off to save the day. Suddenly she remembers the words cyber somehow being involved in the incident. Cyber attack . Not exactly Supergirl’s jurisdiction.

“I was just-” Kara searches for the words, props her fists against her hips. “Checking to see if you were okay.”

A puzzled expression takes over Lena’s face. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well I heard about the…,” she pauses, feeling suddenly foolish. “Attack?”

Lena laughs a little, a pretty sound, but her brow stays furrowed. “I didn’t know Supergirl handled the everyday corporate hacking.”

“I don’t.”

“So it’s just me that gets the special treatment,” Lena teases, looking somewhere between pleased and amused.

Her brain scrambles for a way out of this conversation but all she can come up with is just flying out the window without saying anything else. Probably not the best avenue at this point. “I just know that - well Kara Danvers is a friend of yours and she - she was concerned so she asked if I-”

“Kara Danvers,” Lena interrupts.

“Yes.”

“I forget you two are so close.”

“We know each other,” Kara says, feeling like she wants to slap herself.

Lena smirks. “She sent you to check up on me?”

“Yes.”

“Nice of her,” Lena says, staring at Kara. “Perhaps you could let her know that she has a phone capable of reaching me if she’s so concerned.”

Kara blinks. “I’m sure she knows. I was just a - she sent me - I just.”

“You needn’t defend her,” Lena says, interrupting her stuttering with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Do let her know that I’m okay, though.”

“I will. I’m sure you’ll hear from her soon.” Kara makes a mental note to call Lena as soon as she leaves the building.

“I’m sure,” Lena murmurs, turning back to her computer.

It’s then that Kara notices the arrangement of roses she’d sent just the other day, vibrant and large on the corner of Lena’s desk. How she missed them earlier, she’s not sure, but now they feel like a massive neon sign in the relatively spartan look of the office.

“What pretty flowers,” she comments and Lena looks up to see what she’s gesturing at. It feels a little shady, mixing up both sides of her lives like this, commenting on Kara things when she’s Supergirl, but she can’t seem to help it.

Lena smiles fondly at the arrangement and it relaxes something in Kara. “Yeah, they are.”

“Secret admirer?”

The look Lena gives her is somewhere between amused and confused, but it turns into a flirtatious smile that Kara doesn’t know how to react to. “Not that secret, I’d think.”

“No?”

“I think I’m seeing someone, actually.”

“Think?”

It feels oddly intimate at that point - Lena’s never been this forthcoming with Supergirl about her personal life. Conversations usually stick to business with the occasional foray into mentions of Kara like earlier, but nothing too deep. The interaction feels familiar as Kara Danvers, but strange in her blue and red suit, like she’s intruding on something private. An odd thought to think she’s intruding on her own relationship .

“Well we’ve gone on one date, but she hasn’t had the time since. It felt like she might be avoiding me." 

“I highly doubt that, Miss Luthor.”

Lena’s eyes narrow a little as they regard Kara. “Why is that?”

“I can’t imagine anyone would avoid you after a date.”

“Is that so?”

A little of her Supergirl attitude wavers and she has to stop herself from adjusting glasses that aren’t there. “Yes.”

Lena tosses her an amused smile. “Quite the compliment from the Girl of Steel.”

Wanting to redirect Lena’s attention away from the way she’s looking at Supergirl like she can see right through her, Kara searches for something to say. Ends up pointing at the damn flowers again. “Well flowers like that...send a message, right?”

It seems to do the trick because Lena does look at the roses again, a more serious expression on her face as she extends a hand to flick a finger against the petals of a red rose. “A message,” she murmurs.

“A good one,” Kara adds hastily, but Lena keeps her eyes on the flowers.

“Red and white roses,” Lena says softly, as if she’s forgotten Supergirl is in the room. “What an interesting choice.”

“Interesting?”

Her voice seems to pull Lena back to the present. “Expensive,” Lena amends, but it feels like a lie.

Kara smiles, hands on her hips. “I think your admirer probably thinks you’re worth it.”

“I hope so,” Lena murmurs, looking right into Kara’s eyes.

--

“Thank you for the roses,” is the first thing Lena says to Kara later than night when Kara finally calls her to check in. It was almost unbearable to wait that long after seeing her as Supergirl, but she forces herself to put a respectable amount of time between the two events. Lena already looks at her sometimes like she knows and the last thing she needs to do is give an already brilliant woman more dots to connect.

“I’m glad you like them. I know how much you like flowers.”

“I do,” Lena laughs. “That’s true.”

“I didn’t know if you’d like roses at all or, or if maybe that’s too cliche or something. I thought about getting you these blue ones but those are kind of artificial looking and everyone says roses are a classic right so-”  

Lena cuts off her rambling and Kara rolls her eyes at herself, blows out a breath. “They’re gorgeous,” Lena says, low and suggestive.  

“Seemed fitting,” Kara replies and she almost high fives herself for thinking of something somewhat smooth to say. Especially when she can detect the little hitch of breath in response.

There’s silence on the line for a moment before Lena’s voice comes back across. “Supergirl stopped by today.”

“Oh, did she?” Kara sits up a little, presses the phone harder into her ear.

“She said you sent her.”

“I heard about the hacking and wanted to make sure you were okay. I would have called, but-”

“You were busy, I’m sure.”

Kara finds it odd that she’s the one constantly unavailable when the woman on the phone with her is tasked with rebuilding her family’s multi-billion dollar corporation all by herself. It occurs to her that if this relationship is going to go anywhere, something has to give. “I’m not right now. Busy, I mean.”

A pause. Kara can just make out a rustle of sheets Lena must be shuffling on her desk. “Is that an invitation?”

“If you want it to be.”

“How quickly can you get downtown?”

Kara’s already standing up and grabbing for a purse on her kitchen counter. “Pretty fast.”

“See you soon.”

---

Kara finds out quickly that Lena tends to punctuate all major events (and some not-so-major events) with flowers.

The first time they sleep together. A bouquet of red poppies.

The first time Lena comes over for game night. A massive sunflower that Kara doesn’t know what to do with.

The first time she comes to family dinner as The Girlfriend. Gardenias.

The first time Kara agrees to attend a gala with Lena as her date . Amaryllis.

Kara continues her attempts at returning the favor, sends Lena the occasional arrangement after a particularly good date, or special occasion, but it never quite feels the same.

---

“You’ve got tulips,” Winn comments, pointing at the arrangement as they walk into Kara’s apartment. He sets down the bag of food next to it and eyes the arrangement. “ Red tulips.”

Kara can’t help the grin that spreads over her face at the sight of them. It’s taken a while, but by now she’s come to expect random flower arrangements as part of her everyday. “Yeah,” she says, walking over and picking up the card. She runs her finger over the careful black script ( dinner tomorrow night? ) thinking about the author and how she must have looked while writing it. “They’re from Lena.”

Winn helps himself to a beer from her fridge and looks back over his shoulder. “Oh so that’s like...still a thing that’s happening?”

She rolls her eyes a little at her friend. “Yes. It’s still a thing that’s happening. She’s been coming to game night, hasn’t she?”

“Just asking,” Winn says, holding up his hands defensively. He takes a sip of his beer and looks at the flowers again. “How’d she even get those in here? They weren’t here earlier.” He pauses, considering. “Were they?”

“She has a ke-” Kara cuts off at the look on Winn’s face.

“So it’s that serious?”

“No!” Kara defends immediately, but the untruth of it cuts through her. “I mean, yes , sort of, but also no .” Kara shakes her head, takes a breath. “She was watering my plants last week when I had to go to Metropolis. I loaned it to her. She must have stopped by today because she...forgot something, I don’t know.”

“Watering your plants,” Winn repeats with clear amusement. “That’s what we’re calling it these days?”

Kara shoots him a disgusted look as she unpacks their dinner. “Will you just eat your food?”

She shoves a container of lo mein in his hands with a glare, but Winn just shrugs. He looks back over at the flowers and sits down on the couch. “Did you know that red tulips stand for a declaration of love?”

Kara nearly chokes on the potsticker she’s attempting to eat and shoots him a bewildered look as she sits down next to him. “They do not.”

“Yes they do.”

“Flowers don’t have meanings. And I doubt Lena’s trying to like...she’s not doing it on purpose if that’s what you’re implying.”

Winn’s eyebrows contract skeptically. “Literally all flowers have meanings. How do you not know this?”

Kara takes a angry bite of her potsticker. “I know things,” she grumbles around the food. She does, in fact, know a significant amount of things. Just not all of them are applicable to human life on Earth.

“There are like tons of flowers that stand for love. Some variations of carnations, red roses, obviously ,” he counts the flowers on his fingers, staring at the ceiling as if the list is written there. “Basically all colors of tulips, forget-me-nots or-”

“Winn,” Kara interjects, grabbing his fingers to stop him.

“What?” He says with a shrug. “It’s true.”

“Sure, fine, but it’s not like Lena Luthor is sending me hidden messages in flowers. If she had something to say to me, she’d say it.”

“Well, I didn’t say that , but now that you point it out-”

“She’s not . I doubt she’s even aware of it.”

“This is Lena-I-know-literally-everything-Luthor we’re talking about, right? The woman who single handedly beat all of us at Trivial Pursuit last week when she graced us with her presence at game night.”

“Just because she knows something doesn’t mean she-” But Kara has to cut herself off the more she thinks about it. Lena is nothing if not intentional. Kara knows that much about her girlfriend. Every move she make is calculated, balanced. Even when she takes risks she’s annoyingly anal about being aware of all the possible outcomes. Realization starts to pour over her like cold water and she just looks at Winn with wide eyes 

There’s an obnoxiously knowing grin on her friend’s face as he bumps her shoulder with his own. “She looooooooves you,” he teases and Kara shoves him off, her chest tight.

“Eat your food,” she orders, fighting the heat blooming in her cheeks.

--

Winn’s words stick in her head and pop up every time she glances at the arrangement of red tulips. It’s really not her fault when the words tumble out of her mouth the next time she sees Lena.

“Winn said something funny the other day,” she comments offhandedly, pushing her pasta around a little on her plate.

Lena takes a refined sip of her wine and arches a questioning eyebrow at Kara over the rim of the glass. The arrangement of flowers sits on a table not far from where they’re sitting and Kara glances over at it.

“He mentioned that red tulips have some kind of symbolic meaning.” Kara abandons her fork to reach for the bread between them almost laughing at the practiced way Lena attempts not to react.

“Is that so?”

Kara hums, ripping a piece of bread in half and popping a piece in her mouth. “Yup,” she says, grinning.

“I wasn’t aware,” Lena says slowly and for a second Kara almost believes her, but there’s this secretive smile on her face that Kara has just learned how to read.

“Yes you were.”

They’re silent for a bit, staring at each other before Lena smiles, softly resigned.

“We had a garden when I was little. A greenhouse really. I used to…” Lena pauses, laughs at herself a little as she glances at the tulips. “We had a groundskeeper I was rather fond of. I used to sneak away and help him with some of the gardening and he liked to teach me the different meanings of all the plants he would grow. I guess the information stuck with me.”

“So they do have a meaning?” Kara tries to imagine a younger Lena Luthor with her hands covered in dirt, learning about flowers with a wide-eyed curiosity Kara knows hasn’t fully left her. The image is so cute she can’t help but feel her chest swell with affection.

Lena shrugs, picks at her food with obviously feigned indifference. “All flowers have meanings.”

Kara thinks of that for a moment. “And you know them all?”

“I’m sure not all .”

“Most.”

“Most. I suppose,” Lena agrees.  

A flood of flowers filter through Kara’s mind and she’s suddenly deeply curious. It’s like Lena’s been telling her something for months and she just finally cracked the code. “Plumerias?” 

“New beginnings,” Lena says with a wry grin, looking up.

“Daffodils?”

Lena’s mouth goes thin for a moment. “Also new beginnings. Sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“Some flowers have multiple meanings. Daffodils stand for new beginnings, but also...uncertainty, unrequited love, a request for returned affection.”

Kara thinks of the trembling feeling of their first kiss, of the way Lena’s hand felt against her palm that first night and she wonders just how much she’s missed by not paying attention to all the complex subtleties of the woman across from her.

“Poppies?”

A smug look crosses Lena’s face that makes Kara feel warm. “ Red poppies often symbolize pleasure.”

Kara hums at the memory of that particular arrangement and crosses her legs. “So this whole time...with the flowers…”

“I believe gifts should hold significance,” Lena responds, as if this is a casual thing she always does. Like she hasn’t been sending Kara all these coded messages. “I suppose I picked the flowers intentionally, sure.”

“And red tulips?” Kara’s voice is soft, but steady as she stares at Lena. “What do red tulips mean?”

Lena stares back, her gaze unwavering as she utters, “A declaration of true love. 

Three words that haven’t yet entered their relationship, at least not vocally, sit between them. Kara feels them with an intensity she didn’t realize possible. “True love.”

“That’s what they mean.” Lena’s fingers fidget with her wine glass, her silverware, but her gaze stays solid, locked in with Kara’s. "Yes.”

Silence stretches between them for a moment as they stare at each other. Suddenly, Kara’s desperate to hear Lena say it herself, to give a voice to the feeling that’s been growing between them for some time now, long before they ever started dating. She needs to hear it, needs it to be more than just hidden messages in flower deliveries.

“You couldn’t tell me yourself?”

Lena arches an eyebrow, a faint grin on her face as she looks over at the flowers in question. “Didn’t I?”

“Lena,” Kara entreats softly and Lena relents with a shake of her head.

“You’re right,” she sighs, finally breaking their gaze for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.”

“Love is a funny concept,” Lena says quietly and just hearing the word that’s been rattling in Kara’s brain for some time now makes skin burn pleasantly.

She doesn’t dare say anything else, just waits for Lena to continue.

“I never put much stock in it, honestly,” Lena says with an off-sounding laugh. “Never trusted it. Certainly not since-”

Lena cuts herself off and Kara nods sympathetically, knowing all the things Lena’s not saying. She clenches her fist against the urge to pull Lena into a sudden hug.

“I trust you ,” Lena finishes, quietly.

For a moment, the world feels the closest to silent Kara’s ever heard. The ever-present sound of the city that Kara has grown so used to since living on Earth just sort of buzzes to a standstill and all she can hear is the steady thud of Lena’s heartbeat. They’re not the three words Kara was fishing for earlier, but something tells her these are even more important, more significant, more real.

“Your trust means the world to me,” Kara says softly, clearing her suddenly dry throat.

It makes Lena laugh a little, this disbelieving sound. “I know.”

Kara almost says it first, the words are right there on the tip of her tongue where they’ve sat for weeks. She has to bite down on them, let Lena work through it all herself.

“You don’t have to-”

Lena holds a hand up. There’s an attractive flush in her cheeks and her fingers fidget around her wine glass in a way that makes Kara want to take hold of it. “I want to. I’ve been sending you hidden messages for months. Like a coward.”

It makes Kara indignant immediately. “You’re not a-”

“Kara,” Lena interrupts on another laugh. “ Darling . Let me finish?”

Running a finger across her closed lips like a zipper, Kara nods rapidly, sitting up straight and giving her girlfriend her full attention.

Lena doesn’t look at her for a second, just eyes the arrangement of red tulips on the table. On a deep breath, Lena looks back. “I love you.”

It bursts into her like something physical, pumping strength into her muscles and she’s afraid for a moment her body is just going to start floating out of her chair against her will. She manages to stamp it all down and stands, forcing herself to restrain from super speeding to her girlfriend’s side.

When she finally gets there, pulling Lena up from her chair, their dinner abandoned, she looks into green eyes that always seem to unravel her. “I love you too,” Kara says, whispered between their lips.

Nothing else significant gets said after that and their dinner gets abandoned the moment Lena tugs Kara down into a heavy kiss.

---

They get into their first fight and Kara really should have known it was coming. She’s seen it go on with her cousin and Lois, she’s seen it among her friends, with James and Lucy, even had it happen a few times with previous boyfriends and girlfriends.

Any relationship she’s in, romantic or otherwise, will always involve the same complication. Supergirl . The Alien Situation . The Secret .  

So it’s not really a surprise to her when her one too many cancelled dates, frequent late arrivals and atrocious excuses for why she can’t attend something turns into a full blown fight in the middle of Lena’s apartment one morning. She can’t even remember how it really started except that Lena’s giving her this deeply disapproving look as she’s hopping into her outfit from the night before.

“I have to go to work!” Kara’s explaining, albeit at a raised decibel as she stands in front of Lena in the spacious kitchen of her girlfriend’s penthouse, one knee bent as she slips on a shoe. She doesn’t have time to argue about this with Lena.

The constant lying tires her and she feels it like a headache. She hates lying to Lena, but pushes on regardless. “You of all people should understand that.”

“It’s Saturday . Even I take days off.”

“The news doesn’t just like switch off on the weekends, Lena.” Kara grabs her bag from where she had dropped it near the door the night before and shoves her cell phone in it, grabbing for her discarded jacket. The movements feel sluggish when all she wants to do is super speed her way out of the apartment. Forcing herself to remember that Lena has no idea about her secret identity gets harder and harder the longer they’re together. “Journalism is a full time job, seven day a week job.”

“You work for a magazine, Kara. You’re not a twenty-four hour news channel. Surely they don’t need you on a Saturday, a Saturday in which I thought we had plans.”

They did have plans, even if they were the lazy Saturday kind and Kara spares a thought to be upset about missing a soft morning with her girlfriend in little more than sweatpants and a worn shirt. She sighs, tries to focus on her responsibilities. “Things happen.”

“If something newsworthy had happened, I’d likely already know about it,” Lena says, gesturing to a bank of computers across the room. Kara affectionately refers to it as her command center - the multiple monitors are constantly running numbers and news stories, tracking Lena’s business interests. It reminds her a little of Cat’s office in miniature.

If something was going down that required Kara’s attention on a Saturday, Lena would probably already know about it. The web of lies she has to construct to keep her secret secret is exhausting. “Well I don’t know what it is, just that I’m needed at the office.”

“And they say I’m the workaholic,” Lena says and normally it’d be said with affection or teasing amusement, but the tone is harsh, accusatory.


Kara’s eyes snap up to Lena’s and she has to force down the sudden storm of interest that hits her at the look in Lena’s face. There’s something about Lena’s tight jaw, flashing eyes that makes her want to end the fight and retreat to other activities. If anything, she struggles to fight the nearly irresistible urge to wipe the expression of her girlfriend’s face and turn those pretty features into something more soft.

Except, Alex had texted not twenty minutes ago about some DEO emergency and she really needs to go.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” is what she settles on and she knows it’s the wrong thing almost immediately. A flash of hurt spikes over Lena’s entire posture and it almost cripples Kara. “I didn’t mean it like that,” Kara tries, stepping forward with a conciliatory hand towards her girlfriend’s crossed arms.

“It’s fine,” Lena says, her voice suddenly no longer that of girlfriend and very much that of CEO Lena Luthor. It’s shut off, cold, defensive, dismissive . The kind of tone Kara is used to hearing directed at board members and corporate rivals, but never at her. “You’re right. You don’t have to explain yourself to me. Go to work.”

“Lena,” Kara sighs, her sudden bravado of earlier sucked out of her. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Go to work, Kara.”

Lena sounds resigned in a way that makes Kara want to forget all about her stupid duties for the DEO or to National City or to literally anything other than the woman in front of her. All she wants to do is forget that it’s actually better for her girlfriend to be kept in the dark. For a brief moment Kara has to remind herself that telling Lena would be selfish.  “Lena,” she tries again, feeling desperate. “I really didn’t-”

“I may not know a lot of things,” Lena interrupts and Kara would laugh at the absurdity of that statement if the situation wasn’t so serious. “But I know what lying looks like. Even on you. Maybe especially so.”

“I’m not lying,” Kara denies on instinct, her chest thudding painfully. She’s not , she tries to convince herself. Not technically. This is work. Just not the sort she’s made it seem.

Lena laughs, but the sound is hollow, bitter and full of all kinds of vulnerability that makes Kara feel weak. “You tell yourself that enough and you just might believe it.”

Then it’s that smile Kara hates . The smile Lena always gives when she’s hurting. The one that never quite meets her eyes. “I should know,” is the last thing Lena says before turning to stalk back to her bedroom. The door slams behind her with loud finality.  

-- 

The emergency turns out to be not as much of an emergency as Kara would have liked. At least not the kind that can preoccupy her from thoughts of Lena and their fight. There’s nothing to punch or kick or shoot. Just a lot of waiting and patrolling while Winn tracks the rogue alien that’d escaped that morning.

So for the last few minutes she’s just been standing behind his desk with impatience, stewing in the memory of Lena’s face when she turned away that morning.

“You’re in a bad mood,” Alex comments after Kara snaps at Winn for the second time.

“No I’m not,” Kara denies immediately, but her sister just looks at her in that all too-knowing way she has and Kara sighs. “I’m not .”

“Tell that to someone that doesn’t know you.”

“I’m just…” She shakes her head, pinches the bridge of her nose. “It’s been a long day.”

“It’s not even noon.”

Kara shoots her sister a glare, but doesn’t respond.

“Fight with Lena?”

The denial is on the tip of her tongue, but Alex is looking at her with big sister compassion and she does want to talk about it. “Yeah,” she confesses, arms crossed as she leans against a desk.

“What about?”

“What do you think?”

Alex just gives her a quizzical look until Kara gestures to the crest on her chest in explanation.

“She doesn’t like that you’re Supergirl? Too dangerous or something?”

Kara’s brow crinkles. “What? No . She doesn’t even know that I am. That’s the problem.”

“Lena doesn’t know you’re Supergirl?!” There’s genuine surprise in Alex’s voice and Kara startles at the sound.

“Of course not!”

“Wow that totally explains her confused expression the other day,” Alex mumbles, looking away for a second.

“What?”

Alex looks back at her with a furrowed brow. “How does she not know?”

“What do you mean how does she not know?! She doesn’t know!" 

“Kara, no offense, but you haven’t exactly been airtight about that particular aspect of your life.”

She shoots her sister an offended look. “Yes I have.”

“Kara,” Alex laughs, shaking her head.

“Whatever, I haven’t told Lena."

“I’d think your long term girlfriend would be on a list of people you’d be okay divulging it to.”

“Well I haven’t.”

Alex just stares at her for a moment before responding. “Look, you know I’m the captain of the secret-identities-are-supposed-to-be-secret club, but you guys have been together for a long time now. Frankly I’d be surprised if she doesn’t already know. She’s smart.”

“She does not know.”

Alex looks skeptical in a way that has Kara reevaluating just how sure she is of what Lena knows and doesn’t know. “You’re not exactly the stealthiest of all people.”

“I can be stealthy!”

Alex sighs. “Kara, you can tell her. I think she’s proven to be trustworthy by now.” Alex pauses, gives Kara a significant look. “ I trust her. Even with something like my baby sister. And considering her last name-”

“Watch it,” Kara warns darkly. There are some lines not even her sister can cross.

In a defensive gesture, Alex raises her hands up. “That’s not what I mean. I’m just saying. I think you can tell her. She’s worth trusting with this.”   

It’s weird for a second to hear Alex say that about Lena Luthor of all people and it makes Kara realize just how much things have changed since she and Lena started dating months ago.

But that’s not what this is about, it’s never been what this is about, even at the beginning. “It’s not about trust.”

“Then what’s it about?”

Kara sighs, debates how much she really wants to voice all the reasons she can’t tell Lena about Supergirl. But this is Alex, one of the only, if not the only person that’s ever truly understood every part of her. “Lena’s a pretty high profile person.”

Alex laughs at the understatement. “Yeah, you could say that.”

“The last thing she needs is one more thing to paint a target on her back.”

It takes a second, but understanding crosses Alex’s face. “And you think if she knew your secret identity that she’d become more of a target.”

“She already has so much to worry about. Rebuilding her company, her family’s name, Lex sending her death threats, her mother still out there doing who knows what. The last thing she needs is all of Supergirl’s problems to come crashing down on her.”  

“Kara,” Alex says gently.

“I can’t do it, Alex,” she says, feeling that protective instinct come bubbling up inside her when she thinks about putting Lena in harm’s way, or adding to her stress. “I just can’t.”

Alex puts a warm hand on Kara’s arm, her smile understanding. “I get it. For real. But you can’t protect people from everything. You have to let her make that choice for herself.”

Kara shakes her head in protest, but Alex stops her with a soft hand on her arm. “Kara, think about it in the reverse. Would you really appreciate it if Lena was hiding something like this from you? Even if it was because she was trying to protect you?”

Kara chews at her bottom lip, thinks about what her sister’s saying.

“Lena’s tough. And more importantly, she’s her own woman,” Alex adds. “If you really love her, you should treat her like it. You know better.”

--

Alex’s words penetrate and Kara sighs at herself. Pretty much all of what her sister was telling her are things she already knows. They’re central reasons for why she’s been so upset about lying. She knows somewhere deep down it’s for all the wrong reasons and that Lena is perfectly in the right to be so upset with her.

As soon as the alien threat is taken care of and Alex releases her from the DEO, she flies straight to L Corp guessing she’ll find her girlfriend there, buried in paperwork as she’s apt to do when dealing with anything significantly emotional. She debates just landing on the balcony as Supergirl and telling Lena straight away, but decides on a more careful approach, changing into her street clothes and finding her way into the building the human way.

“It’s Saturday,” she says, jokingly and in lieu of a greeting as she walks into the office. Lena picks her head up from where she’s reviewing some file.

There’s no response to her jibe. Just a thinning of lips as Lena greets Kara with a mostly indifferent, “Hi.”

Kara paces to stand in front of Lena’s desk, hands clasped in front of her. “Hi,” she parrots, taking in the slightest hint of red around the rim of Lena’s eyes. The sight of it twists in her chest.

Lena doesn’t say anything else, doesn’t even move from her desk, her pen still clasped in one hand, the file open as if Lena’s going to return to it at any moment. It feels like a powerplay and Kara knows it’s because Lena feels vulnerable, defensive.

“Lena,” Kara starts, gently as she comes around the desk. “Come sit over there and talk with me for a second?” She gestures towards the couch across the office and holds her hand out in invitation.

It takes a second, but Lena seems to let her defenses down a little, her shoulders slouching as she acquiesces and takes Kara’s hand.

But the guards are still up when they sit down and Kara can see it in the shuttered way Lena can’t fully look at her.

“What do you want to talk about?” Lena finally asks. “I think we said all we need to say earlier.”

“I’m sorry about this morning,” Kara offers, turning to face her girlfriend more squarely. “I was just in a hurry and stressed out and I said things I definitely totally do not mean.”

Lena looks largely unconvinced, but shrugs. “Okay.”

It’s a now or never moment, Kara can feel it. Her heartbeat starts to patter wildly in her chest and she doesn’t fully know why. This is Lena . Lena who has loved Kara Danvers for months now. Bumbling, flustered, awkward Kara Danvers. What’s the worst that can happen when she reveals that she’s also been dating National City’s favorite superhero? 

It’s not the telling that she’s been nervous about. It’s everything that comes after.

So why does this feel so hard?

Kara takes a deep breath, hoping the practiced motion will calm her. “Look, you weren’t totally wrong.” Lena’s eyes snap up to meet hers, questioning. “There’s something I need to tell you. Something I haven’t been...entirely honest about.”

Lena’s chin lifts, like she’s bracing herself for something. Her knuckles are white where her firsts are clenched in her lap. “Okay.”

“It’s something pretty big and I should have probably told you like way earlier, but it’s just...not something...I just don’t know how to say it and I-” Kara flubs around for the right words, trying to figure out how to go about divulging a massive secret she’s been keeping from this woman for months, but Lena sighs, looks away and interrupts her with a firm. “I know .”

The sentence forming in Kara’s mouth cuts off into a shocked sound as she blinks at her girlfriend. “You... know ?”

With a sigh and an affectionate eye roll, Lena laughs a little. “Yes, I know.”

“Know what?”

“Kara, darling ,” Lena says, sounding for the first time in a while like her girlfriend. “I love you, but you’re not exactly the stealthiest of all people.”

The echoes of the conversation with her sister earlier, sweep through her head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I can be totally stealthy.”

At least Lena chuckles a little at that and it allows Kara to smile for a moment before Lena continues on a shaky breath. A little of the tension that’s been surrounding them ebbs away.

“We’ve been together for a long time now,” Lena starts. “I’ve been around you at all times of the day and night, I’ve seen you in a thousand different situations. And I’ve seen Supergirl too. Did you really think you could keep hiding this successfully?”

“Lena.” The name comes out shakier than she intends, wrapped in nerves as the reality of this conversation starts to hit her. She tries to piece together what Lena’s saying, tries to figure out how long she could have known 

“We’ve slept together, Kara,” Lena continues with a short laugh. “Your big disguise is a pair of glasses and a ponytail and neither of those things survive a trip to the bedroom with us. In what conceivable universe did you think I wouldn’t be able to put two and two together and get four?”

Kara feels herself blush for a variety of reasons.

“I know you, Kara,” Lena adds, lips thin. “I know all your gestures and facial expressions and those don’t change much when you’re Supergirl. At least not around me.”

Kara hadn’t really thought about that. She feels like she does a pretty good job of varying up her hand movements and attitude in her different roles, but clearly not enough to fool Lena.

“Last week, Supergirl tried to push up a pair of glasses on her nose that weren’t there and nearly poked herself in the eye.”

Kara cringes at the memory. She’s gotten better at stuff like that, but the motion is so habitual that she forgets occasionally.  

“You have an atrocious diet and somehow manage to stay looking like,” Lena waves over Kara’s body. “ That .”

Kara strokes a palm down her stomach in reaction, trying to even out the wrinkle in her shirt.

“And you talk in your sleep.”

“I do?”

Nodding slowly, Lena hums through a small smile. “You do. And not always in English.”

“That’s embarrassing,” Kara murmurs, blinking down at her own hands.

Lena laughs quietly. “Just last month, when there was that bomb threat here,” she waves her hand to indicate the office and Kara swallows at the memory, looking back up at Lena. She can still feel the terror of realizing Lena was in danger, remembers how she barely managed to get her suit on correctly before speeding over. “You came in and helped evacuate the building and you found the bomb.”

“I remember,” Kara says, palms itching to touch Lena but not sure if that’s totally allowed right now.

“You came up to me at the end of it,” Lean continues, smiling. “To see if I was okay.”

“Yeah.” Kara remembers how desperate she was to check Lena all over with her hands, how all she wanted to do was pick her girlfriend up and fly them as far away as possible.

“You almost kissed me,” Lena says and Kara startles at the statement.

“What? No I didn’t.” Except. She totally had. She remembers the instinctual way she moved closer and how she had to catch herself before she did what her body was just...used to doing.  

Lena stretches a finger out, traces one of Kara’s eyebrows and the crinkle above her nose. “You get this look in your face when you’re about to kiss me. I’d recognize it anywhere.”

“I do?”

Lena hums affirmatively. “You leaned really close, asking me if I was sure I was okay and right before you got called away, I saw it.”

“You did?” It’s soft, hushed between them, and Kara can’t help but think about kissing Lena now . Her eyes flick down to Lena’s lips, but she restrains herself.

“It’s not the first time either.”

Kara studies the calm in her girlfriend’s face, accepts the truth staring back at her. “You know.”

Lena nods. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry,” is all Kara can think to say. “I meant to tell you.”

“Why didn’t you?” Lena asks, the question shaky.

Kara can’t find the words to explain, feels her mouth open and close as she scrambles for something to say.

“I don’t care, you know,” Lena says, arms crossing over her chest. “At least not about what you think.”

Kara’s brow contracts. “What do you think I think?”  

“It’s not the Supergirl thing that’s a problem, Kara.” And that’s so not what Kara was really worried about, but Lena continues. “You’re Supergirl. That’s…,” Lena smiles a little, head tilted at her girlfriend. “Supergirl is amazing. And so are you.”

The words wrap comfortably around her ribcage, tugging at it until she has to move closer to Lena, just slightly. “Thanks,” she says, no louder than a whisper.

“Would I prefer my girlfriend have a little less dangerous of a night job? Sure.” Lena shrugs, shoots Kara a soft smile. “But then you wouldn’t be you.”

It warms something inside Kara that she didn’t know was there and she can’t help but grin. Not many people in her life know the complete version of her. Not many people understand that she’s neither Kara Danvers nor Supergirl. She’s some sort of amalgamation of both identities, but she’s always forced to choose one or the other.

“So if you’ve known all this time then why…” Kara trails off, trying to figure out what they’re actually fighting about.

Lena’s lips thin. “You’ve been lying to me for months.”  

Kara wants to protest, but she feels the truth in the words. She can’t seem to find full sentences anyway, not with the sad way Lena’s eyes keep flitting away, her jawline tight.

“I understood it for awhile. Secret identities are...secret. I imagine it’s not something you go around just telling people. Even romantic prospects. It was even kind of cute at first to see you scramble around for excuses or trying to cover up accidental slips.” Lena pauses, glances at the bank of windows on the other side of the room. “Flirting with you as Supergirl was always an odd experience. Kind of fun at first.”

Kara laughs softly and thinks about some of those interactions. Instinct always told her to flirt back, incapable of resisting the smile on Lena’s face or the flirtation in her eyes, but then she’d remember who she was at that moment. Indignation always came next because, hello, why was Lena flirting with Supergirl.

Lena was right. It was always an odd experience to be jealous of yourself .

“I guess I thought...we’ve been together so long and it’s just... so obvious ...that I knew. Yet you still come up with these ridiculous reasons why you have to leave a date early, or cancel plans or why you go radio silent for days at a time. I started to realize you might just never tell me. I just wasn’t worth it. Either because you didn’t think we had a future or because you didn’t trust me. Or perhaps something of both.”

Regret floods Kara’s system. Lena sounds so dejected, so hurt . Kara hates this. Wishes the feeling was something tangible that she could blast into space.

“I assume it’s largely due to my last name. Of all the people you had to date it had to be a Luthor-

The words rip a reaction out of her and she closes the distance between her and Lena, scooting closer until their knees are touching and grabbing Lena’s hand. “It is not because of that,” she says firmly, the words practically an angry hiss, her eyes furious that Lena would even consider such a thing.

“I can’t imagine whatever else it could be,” Lena says in a quiet, tired voice. “The rest of our - your friends know. They’re almost as bad at keeping the secret as you are. So it must be about me. Something about me.”

“It’s not that, Lena. I swear.”

“Then why? What was it that made you feel you couldn’t trust me with this part of you?”

Kara’s throat feels thick. “I trust you with all my parts,” she says lowly. “It’s everyone else that I’m afraid of.”

Lena’s brows contract. “I don’t understand.”

“Lena,” Kara sighs, heat pricking in her eyes. “Being with me...it’s not exactly the safest option. Knowing about the Supergirl stuff. It could put you in danger.”

She expects some kind of understanding, but what she gets instead is fury, indignation and sudden fire in Lena’s expression. “You were trying to protect me. From you.”

Kara nods. Unsure what’s made Lena so mad. “From people that would try to hurt you to get to me. Associating with me could bring you into some dangerous crosshairs.”

“I already associate with you.”

“With Supergirl, I mean.”

“I know what you mean,” Lena bites out. “I’m pretty sure Supergirl and I have been in the news enough times to be considered associating. Last I checked a Super and a Luthor so much as waving at each other makes headlines.”

“This is different.”

“How?”

Kara doesn’t have an answer to that, not really. Now that she’s faced with Lena’s relentless logic, all the truths laid out between them, Kara’s not really sure how much weight her earlier reasoning has.  

Lena stands, her hand disengaging from Kara’s abruptly as she stares down, arms crossing.

“Furthermore,” Lena says in this authoritative voice. “You don’t get to make those kinds of decisions for me. Ever .”

“Lena,” Kara starts, standing.  

A hand, palm forward towards her face, interrupts her. “You don’t .

“It wasn’t a decision-

“You decided to keep something from me because you thought it’d protect me. You kept me separate from an entire part of your life because you decided it was in my best interest. Without even involving me in any of it.”

“You make it sound-”

“This is a relationship,” Lena interrupts, waving between them and Kara takes a moment to be grateful the conversation is at least staying in the present tense. “You don’t get to make unilateral decisions. I don’t care if you are a superhero or not.”

“I wasn’t trying to-”

“But you did.”

There’s no defense against it. Not really. Lena’s right. Kara’s been making decisions for both of them this whole time, making decisions that affect Lena and purposefully shielding her from a big part of her life.

“I’m tired,” Lena says in a broken whisper, looking purposefully away from Kara. “Can we just...talk tomorrow? I’ll call you.”

Kara feels weak with emotion, her bones sagging to the ground. Lena looks worse than she feels, if that were even possible and Kara feels incapable of denying her anything she wants at this point. “Yeah, sure. Tomorrow.”

It’s the last thing she wants to do and her body feels like it's full of lead as she drags it to the door and away from Lena.

--

Later that night, Kara considers all her options. Most of her is dying to just fly back to Lena’s office, or her apartment, find her girlfriend and resolve things. The other part thinks of calling Alex, knows her sister would be quick with a suggestion of food and movie marathons. A darker part of her considers going down to the alien bar and indulging in drinks she usually does her best to avoid.

What she settles on is her comfiest clothes and most of the contents of her fridge. Her phone sits on the coffee table near her couch and she glares at it as if she can intimidate it into ringing.

She’s about two pints of ice cream down when there’s a knock on her door and she startles a little bit when she looks through it to see Lena standing there on the other side.

Since when did Lena knock?

Then it registers that Lena’s here and she gets up and to the door so fast she has to take a steadying breath to stop her cells from vibrating at such a high frequency.

“Hey,” she says quietly when she opens the door. Her girlfriend looks smaller than normal, face washed of makeup, hair up in a messy bun, contacts replaced with glasses. There’s a tall plant in Lena’s hands and she thrusts it forward towards Kara.

“Can I come in?”

“Of course,” Kara replies, reaching for the plant and regarding it. She sets it down on kitchen counter. “These are gorgeous,” she murmurs, eyeing it, wondering what she did to deserve a gift of flowers. Last she checked, Lena was furious with her. “Thanks.”

“I think I owe you an apology,” Lena says, ignoring the flower.

Kara regards her, startling at the words. “You do?”

They stand a few feet apart near Kara’s kitchen counter. Lena crosses her arms. “I’m sorry for getting so angry.

“You had a right to be angry,” Kara says. “I’m the one that’s sorry.”

“I know you were just trying to protect me,” Lena says softly. “I know it’s just because you-”

Lena’s voice breaks a little, going silent.

“I do ,” Kara says firmly, knowing what Lena was about to say. “But part of loving you is trusting you to make decisions for yourself. You were right. I shouldn’t have kept it from you. Not for the reasons I was.”

“I forgive you,” Lena says quietly and Kara feels like she could cry at the vulnerable sound of her girlfriend’s voice.

“Lena-”

“I’d like to be done fighting,” Lena interrupts, straightforward. “If that’s agreeable to you.”

Kara nods rapidly. “Yeah, of course.”

“I feel like I haven’t touched you in ages,” Lena confesses softly, her hip leaning against the counter. “I mean really touched you.”

It hits Kara hard and she’s across the space between them before she can blink, pulling Lena’s hand into hers until she’s pressing it against her chest. It hasn’t been that long, not really, but Kara feels the distance between them too, hears it in Lena’s voice and it beats into her bones. “You can touch me now.”

Lena’s fingers spread out of Kara’s chest, right over where her family’s crest usually sits. The warmth of it seeps through Kara’s shirt and across her skin.

There’s nothing else Kara can think to do other than wrap her arm around Lena’s waist and press their lips together.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers in between kisses, Lena’s hands sliding up until they’re tangling in Kara’s hair, keeping them together.

“No more apologies,” Lena murmurs.

Kara obeys, picks Lena up and walks them towards the bedroom.

--

“Lena?” Kara murmurs later, sated and coiled around her girlfriend. She presses her lips against the skin of Lena’s shoulder and waits for Lena to respond.

“Yeah?”

“You brought me flowers.”

Lena laughs a little, but the sound is husky from their earlier activities and it makes Kara’s brain derail. It doesn’t help when Lena turns over a little in Kara’s arms, the sheet around her chest dipping dangerously low.

“I did,” Lena says throatily, carding her fingers through Kara’s hair and sweeping it back over her shoulder.

“What kind?” It’s a familiar question these days, Kara’s always curious of the different meanings of the flowers Lena loves to buy.

“They’re…lily of the valley.”

“Apology flowers?” Kara ventures.

Lena hums, shrugging a shoulder. “They stand for, among other things, trust .”

---

They move in together after a year and a half of dating. It’s a pretty big deal from where Kara’s standing. She’s never lived with anyone other than the Danvers and she certainly hasn’t lived with someone she’s dating. Lena is a hell of a lot more casual about it, or at least she seems so. She’s approached the whole thing like a business transaction, nothing more than a monday morning merger.

Kara expects to go apartment hunting together, scout out different locations. Instead, Lena has an assistant send her a list of available units across the city and Lena sends it to Kara in an afternoon email.

They pick one off the list like they’re ordering takeout and Kara can’t help but feel disappointed by the whole thing.

Then she remembers that the real object is that she gets to live with Lena. Gets to see her whenever she wants to without having to plan anything, without having to fly across the city (or sometimes across the world).

--

Nothing is unpacked. Their new penthouse apartment is filled with stacks of boxes. Partly because they can’t agree on what to do - Kara insists she could use her superspeed and get it all done, but Lena would rather pay someone else to do it. They agree to do it together, but between both of their jobs and responsibilities can barely find the time.

Lena doesn’t seem all that interested in it anyway. Not that unpacking is something highly entertaining, but Kara was kind of looking forward to it in a relationship milestone way. Isn’t that what normal Earth couples do? Move in together, complain about living out of boxes for awhile before they begrudgedly agree to unpack, arguing about where they should put furniture.

But Lena seems rather content to just live out of boxes, unpacking enough clothes to last her the first week.

Kara gives up on trying to get the unpacking done by week two and just superspeeds it one night when Lena’s working late.

Lena almost doesn’t notice when she walks in that night. Her motions are so automatic - purse on the kitchen counter, keys next to it, coat in the closet, a quick kiss hello to Kara. It isn’t until she walks into the bedroom, Kara still on the couch watching TV, that a sudden gasp resounds through the apartment.

“Kara,” Lena says, walking back into the living room. “You unpacked?”

Kara shrugs, eyes still on the TV. “Yeah.”

“Why?”

“I had nothing better to do,” Kara says casually, pulling her knees up onto the couch and sparing a quick glance for her girlfriend. “I figured I could just get it over with.”

“Get it over with?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought it was important to you that we do it togeth-”

“It wasn’t.”

“Kara.” Lena’s face is an expression of concern and Kara bristles a little.

“We had to unpack at some point and we obviously weren’t going to find the time to do it together. We’re too busy.”

Lena observes her for a little while longer and Kara thinks maybe she sees easily all the things Kara’s not saying - like how she’s pretty bummed that Lena doesn’t seem as invested in their move and how she was looking forward to a long night of sluggish unpacking. She’ll get over it anyway, no sense in arguing about it now.

“Well thank you,” is all Lena says, striding forward to press a kiss of gratitude to Kara’s cheek.

Kara just smiles and switches the channel on the TV.

--

A few days later Lena comes home late from work one night with a tall flower in her hand. She sets it on the counter where Kara is sitting.

Closing her laptop, Kara eyes the plant with confusion. “What’s that?”

“It’s an orchid,” Lena says, a light smile playing on her lips.

“An orchid?”

“It’s a traditional housewarming gift,” Lena explains. “Though they’re also known to represent beauty. Equally appropriate in this instance, I’d say.” The line is delivered with a wink and a smile and it beats into Kara’s body in a warm way she’s still not used to even after all this time.

Pulling the flower closer, she purses her lips, scrunches her nose and shakes her head at her girlfriend. “You spend too much money on buying me flowers.”

Lena merely arches an eyebrow.

Kara rolls her eyes. “Well you do .”

“While I heavily disagree with that assessment,” Lena says, setting her purse down and shrugging out of her jacket. “This one is more for us than for you.”

“For us?”

“Well it’s our home, right?”

Kara swallows thickly at the feelings the word home invoke. The need to change the subject overwhelms her and she keeps her eyes on the plant. “Reminds me of the oregus plants on Krypton, actually.” Not really a subject change, but for some reason it feels safer.

“Krypton has orchids?”

Kara shrugs. “Not really. They’re oregus plants. The look like this, but we just used them for cooking mostly. Not as gifts.”

“There are thousands of different types of orchids,” Lena says. “Some of them are used for food too.”

“It’s pretty.”

“It is,” Lena agrees.

They’re silent for a bit, the orchid between them, before Lena speaks again.

“I’m sorry,” she says, so soft even Kara’s superhearing struggles to register it.

“For what?”

“This matters to me.”

“This?”

Lena sweeps her hand out, gesturing to the apartment around them. “Moving in together.”

Kara blinks against the sudden urge to cry. “I know it does.”

“No you don’t,” Lena argues, moving around to stand next to where Kara’s sitting, her thighs bumping against Kara’s knees when she turns. “Because I haven’t been acting like it.”

“Lena, it’s fine-”

“It’s not. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. This matters to me.”

“I’m glad,” Kara says softly.

“Big emotional milestones are kind of something I’m used to avoiding these days,” Lena admits. “It’s easier for me to treat it like any other part of my life instead of this huge thing.”

“It’s not that huge of a thing,” Kara says in an attempt to relax her girlfriend. It is a huge thing, but faced with the vulnerable look in Lena’s eye, Kara is suddenly okay that Lena can't just tackle it the way Kara might.

“Yes it is,” Lena says, threading in closer until she’s standing between Kara’s legs, her hands cupping Kara’s cheeks. “I want you to know that I do think it’s a big deal. Us building a life together.”

And that’s enough to get Kara’s eyes to well a little bit with tears, especially when she sees Lena’s do the same.

“Home is a strange concept, isn’t it?” Lena’s voice is soft, soothing.

“Mhmm,” Kara murmurs.

“I want you to know how much it matters to me that we have a home. One that’s ours.” Lena presses a quick, but firm kiss to Kara’s lips.

“I’m sorry I unpacked,” Kara mumbles, kissing Lena back.

Lena laughs a little, breathy against Kara’s mouth. “I’m sorry I didn’t make it more of a priority. I wish we could have done it together.”

“I can superspeed it all back into boxes if you want,” Kara offers and Lena laughs again.

“I think it’s okay. There will be other things to do together.”

Kara hopes so, but she doesn’t say anything else, just sighs into the kisses Lena keeps delivering, her hands pulling Lena in closer by her hips. They stay pressed in together for a long moment until they break apart and Kara glances over to the orchid still sitting on the counter next to them.

“Do you always have to say things with flowers first?” Kara teases and Lena actually flushes a little, looks away.

“It’s easier that way,” Lena confesses, fingers twisting in Kara’s hair. “Doesn’t mean I don’t mean what I’m saying.”

“I know it doesn’t.”

Suddenly, Kara thinks of that first delivery of flowers, the all consuming way they took over her office and the gorgeous purple arrangement in the center of it all.

“Lena?”

“Hmmm?”

“What do lavender roses mean?”

Lena’s jaw goes tight in a way Kara is familiar with, the expression Lena always makes when she’s cautious to reveal something. Kara waits patiently as experience has taught her to do, but after a few moments her more impatient nature takes ahold.

“It can’t be as embarrassing as me not realizing we were on a date until the end of it."

Lena laughs. “I feel that was more embarrassing for me than you, darling.”

Kara shakes her head. “What do lavender roses stand for?” She asks the question softer this time and strokes her finger across Lena’s forehead, tucking an errant hair back. “Tell me.”

Relaxing, Lena exhales, looks at Kara with a tight lipped smile. “Love at first sight,” she confesses softly.

---

There’s an ache settling between Lena’s shoulders that make her rub at her neck every few minutes and the numbers on the spreadsheets in front of her are starting to blur together. That end of quarter tiredness is beginning to seep into her bones and she wishes she were at home with Kara doing something much more mindless.

It seems her wishful thinking gets answered a few moments later when she picks up the sound of a telltale whoosh outside her balcony and the soft drop of two feet she’d recognize anywhere.

“Supergirl,” she greets, tone laced with affection even though she doesn’t look up from the balance sheet in front of her.

“Miss Luthor,” Kara says with equal affection, striding into the office to perch on the side of Lena’s desk. It’s funny how hearing her last name no longer makes her gut clench in reaction, especially not when it drops out of Kara’s mouth the way it does. “You’re working late.”

At this, Lena finally leans back, dropping her pen down on the stack of papers and shooting her girlfriend a warm smile. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“All done out there?” Lena glances behind her knowing Kara was on her nightly patrol before dropping in as she usually does when she’s flying by.

“National City is quiet for now.” Strong fingers replace her own on her neck, running up against sore muscles and Lena almost groans at the feeling.

“That feels good,” she murmurs, closing her eyes and dropping her head.

“You’re really tight.”

It beats a laugh out of her and she opens her eyes to regard her girlfriend over her shoulder, eyebrow arched in suggestion.

National City’s Superhero sputters in realization, an attractive blush appearing. “That’s not what I-why do you always- Lena .”

Lena turns and stands, still laughing. “Ah, there’s the girlfriend I know and love.”

Kara just shakes her head in exasperation, but she let’s Lena tangle their fingers together, swinging the hands contentedly. “Did you just stop by to say hello, or?”

Kara glances out the window. “You busy?”

Lena is incredibly busy, but now that Kara is in front of her with promises to make the stress of her workday go away, she can’t find it in herself to tell the truth. She shrugs. “Not especially so.”

Kara eyes the mountain of papers on her desk with an arch of her brow, but doesn’t contradict her, merely smiles.

“Can I show you something?”

Lena lifts an eyebrow at the suggestive nature of the question and Kara blushes into a sheepish expression. It makes Lena fall in love with her all over again.

“Not like that,” Kara says, her tone holding promise nonetheless.

“Like what then?”

Kara extends a hand towards her, tosses her head back towards the balcony. “Trust me?”

There’s only one answer Lena’s ever really had to that question. She slides her palm against her girlfriend’s and steps into Kara’s embrace. “Of course,” she says quietly as Kara bends a little to scoop her up into the air.

--

It takes much longer that Lena is sure it normally would, but Kara has always been a consummately careful flyer whenever she’s carrying Lena.

She keeps her head tucked into Kara’s neck, eyes mostly closed and just enjoys the feeling of the air whipping around them and the strong arms keeping her afloat. Flying has never been her favorite thing, but it’s not as bad with Kara.

“Where are we going?” She asks, the words murmured into the skin of Kara’s collarbone. Despite the noise of the wind whipping around them and the quiet tone of her voice, she knows her girlfriend’s superhearing will pick up the words.

“Surprise,” Kara replies, putting her lips closer to Lena’s ear so she can hear.

“Are we close?”

“Yes,” Kara says, laughing a little.

They touch down just as the sun is setting and Lena nearly gasps when she opens her eyes.

“I thought you could use a break.”

“Where are we?”

“Oregon,” Kara answers, pointing towards a mountain peak in the distance, framed by an orange sky.

Where in Oregon?” Lena asks, looking around at their surroundings. As far as she can see there are long rows of multi-colored tulips, painting the ground in various colors. Red followed by white followed by yellow followed by purple. Lena’s not sure she’s ever seen so many tulips.

“A tulip farm,” Kara answers.

Lena laughs. “I suppose that’s obvious.” She reaches out to touch a nearby flower, smiling at the memory of sending something similar to Kara years ago. “You trying to tell me something?”

“Nothing you don’t already know."

“I wanted to take you to the one in Japan or Canada, but I know you don’t like flying.” Kara fidgets with her hands. “There were like a bunch of other places, I just - I figured you getting all freaked out by flying for hours might kind of ruin the de-stress purpose of the trip.”

“It’s perfect, darling,” Lena reassures her, running a soothing palm down Kara’s arm.  

Kara seems to relax at that before gesturing behind her to a blanket already laid out for them. “I thought we could have dinner,” Kara says and Lena’s suddenly grateful she wore pants today because the thought of sitting on the ground in a pencil skirt is daunting.

“Sounds perfect.” She steps into Kara’s space to press their lips together, trying to communicate to her girlfriend how much she appreciates the sudden gesture, how much less stressed she feels already.

--

They eat from the massive amount of food Kara had prepared, stuffed into three different picnic baskets. There’s a bottle of her favorite wine from Italy and a smorgasbord of every food she’s ever mentioned enjoying. Lena laughs when she sees the spread and Kara shrugs, sheepishly. “You know I’ll eat whatever you don’t want.”

“I know,” Lena says with a laugh, tugging affectionately at a golden curl.

--

“Thank you for this,” Lena says later, when the food is put away and her body feels comfortable and sated as she leans back on the picnic blanket. “I needed it.”

Kara looks suddenly nervous, even with the dim light of the moon and the small lantern Kara provided next to their blanket. “I wanted to tell you something,” Kara says softly.

“Okay,” Lena draws out, setting her wine glass to the side, grateful when it balances against the grass. “You can tell me anything, sweetheart.”

“I know,” Kara breathes, smiling. She rearranges her cape against her legs in a fidgety motion.

“Is something wrong?”

“No, no, not at all.”

“Then what is it?”

On a deep breath that Kara rarely takes, she starts with, “I love you.”

Lena smiles. “I already know that. I love you too.”

“I know it’s just.” A pause. “I love you like a lot .”

“Kara.”

“Just - I do . And I’ve been thinking.”

Lena can’t follow wherever Kara’s going, can’t figure out why any of this would be news. Of course they love each other. They’ve been together for years now. They already live together, Lena can’t imagine what could have Kara so nervous.

“Kryptonian... mating ...is a bit different than here on Earth.”

Lena arches her brow at ‘mating’ but doesn’t say anything, allows Kara to continue.

“I mean, marriages and stuff were all arranged, we were matched based on algorithms and married a lot for political reasons.”

Her heartbeat starts to thud when she starts to finally figure out where Kara might be leading, what’s making her so visibly nervous.  “Kara-”

“There was love and stuff,” Kara keeps saying, gesturing nervously with her hands. “Obviously. You were matched for a reason, compatibility and all that and it was just-”

Kara cuts off, looks out over the darkened field of tulips, lips thin.

“Kara, darling,” Lena says, attempting to soothe even though her own nerves feel shaky. She runs a palm down the tense muscle in Kara’s forearm.

“I’d hope that if I was still on Krypton - and that you would have been too, of course - or if Earth was like that or - I’d hope that you would have been my match,” Kara says in a messy tumble of words. “You are my match.”

It occurs to her somewhat distantly what Kara is actually saying without saying it. Or rather what she might be asking, but she can’t be sure.

“Is this a proposal?” Lena feels her heart rate increase. The calm she had felt all night suddenly whisked away by the woman beside her.

Kara plays with her cape a little, but looks at Lena, strong and sure. “If you want it to be.”

It hadn’t really occurred to Lena that this would be the next logical step. So much of their life together feels as committed as it can get, but sitting here with Kara looking at her, surrounded by flowers and the expansive night sky, Lena can’t help but want it more than she realized.

“I could.” Lena blinks against heat in her eyes. “If that’s what it is.”

Kara smiles, her demeanour suddenly calmer than before as Lena’s entire being feels like her nerves have been set on fire. “Lena Luthor,” Kara says slowly. “You are my match and I’d like to marry you. If you’ll have me.”

A memory strikes her, sudden. “Do you know what red and white roses means? When they’re put together?” The question comes bursting out of her and Kara looks a little taken aback. It’s fair, considering Lena completely failed to answer Kara’s proposition.

“I don’t.”

Lena reaches across to tangle her fingers with Kara’s, smiling. “It means united .”

“I gave you red and white roses,” Kara whispers. “After our first date.”

“You did.”

“Is this your way of telling me I should have found a field of roses instead of tulips?”

Lena laughs. “This is my way of telling you yes, of course, how could I not marry you?”

Relief floods across Kara’s features. “Oh thank Rao .”

There’s nothing left to say after that. Lena let’s Kara tug her forward until their lips press together, Kara’s smile pushing insistently against her own.

 -----