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Don't Hold Back

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It was quiet in the Olympic village tonight, with most athletes prepping for another hard round of competitions the following morning. It was beyond an appropriate time to be up, and as her body hummed and buzzed pleasantly in the afterglow, Kara felt sleep tugging gently on her eyelids. The feeling of fingers softly carding through her hair only lured her deeper into slumber, but Kara fought against it. She fluttered her eyes open to land upon the most beautiful sight in the world.

 

Lena.

 

Lena, with her hair tousled and messy from an evening’s worth of gentle hands and not so gentle grasps, her chest still lightly heaving as she recovered, her face wearing a soft expression of satisfaction and adoration. Green eyes stared lazily from behind a half-lidded gaze, her cheeks rosy and glowing, and the hint of a smile touching her lips that never failed to send Kara spiraling.

 

Kara couldn’t help herself. She leaned up, arching her neck, and met her girlfriend’s soft lips in a slow lingering kiss. The hand in her hair gripped tighter as Lena fought to keep her there a second longer, even though she’d had Kara for hours just before. Lena hummed happily, the vibrations sending a pleasant tickle on Kara’s lips. They part but stay just as close, none eager to add any distance between them. A hand slid to a familiar spot on Kara’s jaw.

 

“I love you.”

 

Lena whispered the words to Kara, and while her ears are entirely used to hearing those same words many times in the day, the words have yet to lose their luster. Kara can’t help but wear the goofiest smile on her face in response, sparking a similar wide smile from Lena that leave green eyes scrunched up in giddiness. She chased the smile with quick peck, mumbling back the same words against welcoming lips.

 

They both collapsed onto the bed, laying side by side facing one another. Lena shuffled closer letting them nearly graze their foreheads together.

 

“Are you ready for tomorrow?” Lena asked, her voice low and husky after her rather vocal displays earlier. Kara loved it.

 

“Pfft, tomorrow? I was born for tomorrow. It’s going to be easy as pie,” Kara scoffed, her eyes rolling in that exaggerated laissez-faire manner Lena loved.

 

“Mmmm, is that so? I heard your opponent is a tough one to crack,” Lena purred, her eyebrow arching curiously. “She’s told to be quite cold and calculating on the field.”

 

Kara leaned in, her lips brushing dangerously against the corner of Lena’s. “Well, if I can handle you in bed, I’m sure this won’t be a problem.”

 

A blush spread across Lena as she giggled shyly, shoving lightly at Kara’s shoulders. “Tease.”

 

Kara chuckled, enjoying as the blush spread across Lena’s chest. “How about you? Are you ready for your next match? The papers are making it to be the biggest showdown in the sport.”

 

Lena shrugged absent-mindedly. “They aren’t wrong. I’ll be facing someone who probably was built for this sport. Incredibly strong, naturally gifted, and a media darling.” She toyed with blonde hair as blue eyes stared intently at her. “I’ve always been set up on a pedestal by the media in anticipation that I’ll fall. So they can all suck it when I win tomorrow. Goddess opponent be damned.”

 

Kara guffawed at her girlfriend’s boldness, wrapping her arms tighter to bring Lena closer. “You know I’m rooting for you always, right?”

 

Lena smiled appreciatively as she burrowed herself into the hollow of Kara’s neck. “I do. Just as you know I’m always rooting for you.”

 

Kara responded with a press of her lips against a marble forehead. With declarations of love and support floating in the air, the two athletes let sleep overcome them, their minds gratefully unburdened by what the dawn of morning will bring.

 

 

___

 

 

Kara adjusted the cap on her forehead, pulling the ponytail sticking from the back tighter. She checked her tennis racquet, examining the tight wires coiled around the well-worn steel loop, the grip familiar and comforting in calloused hands. She adjusted her tank top, moving the straps that gratefully left most of her arms bare and freely moving. The skirt hung comfortably around her hips and bounced with every movement.

 

As she continued through her pre-game routine, stretching out each limb with ease, she remembered hours before as she and Lena parted the Olympic village to go their separate ways (who knew the Olympics offered couples housing?).

 

“You kick ass out there, you hear? Don’t hold back.” Lena demanded, her eyes sparkling with pride. “I’ll be cheering for you the entire time.”

 

Kara grinned, leaning down to kiss Lena and tasted the hint of maple syrup on her lips. “I won’t. And I’ll be cheering for you too, always.”

 

Lena’s voice still rang in her head as she stepped onto the court, the sun pounding on her back already as the chatty crowd distracted her from her nerves. As much as she had bravado last night, Kara knew this was not going to be an easy match. While she could arguable outmatch her opponent in sheer strength and agility, her opponent was well known for outsmarting her way to the top. Unpredictable and bold, her opponent may very well pull the rug from underneath Kara’s feet.

 

The crowd roused up, the wave of applause signaling Kara that her opponent had entered the court. She looked up, knowing exactly what to expect, and yet it still did not prepare her for the sight before her.

 

It was entirely unfair how good Lena looked in her tennis outfit. A one-piece white dress with pale green outlines, it showed off Lena’s every curve that Kara knew entirely too intimately. Deceptively soft arms gripped gracefully onto her bag, the tennis racquet slung casually over her shoulder. Raven black hair pulled tightly into her signature bun contrasted against the sunny display of her outfit. Pale skin looked nearly translucent in the sunlight (how Lena never got tan is beyond Kara’s understanding). Green eyes were dark with concentration and lips painted red. My armor, Lena had explained to Kara.

 

Kara was propelled back to the first time she ever laid eyes on Lena nearly five years ago at Wimbledon. Her beauty and quiet ferocity knocked the breath of out Kara, both figuratively and literally, when she ran into a pole entirely preoccupied following Lena. It took a whole year for Kara to work up the courage to introduce herself at the Olympics in Rio, not expecting Lena to give her the time of day. But she had blushed, her eyes glancing down shyly, and from that moment on Kara was a goner. It may have been Kara who went home with gold around her neck, but Lena had left Rio with Kara’s heart tucked in her grasp.

 

It was well known that the two women were dating, and the media had dubbed them the power couple to watch at the Olympics. Imagine the media’s utter joy at discovering that finally, for the first time despite their lengthy history, Kara and Lena would play against each other. And here they were, standing at the ready, the match about to begin.

 

Lena was the first to walk up to the net, Kara meeting her at the halfway point. They stared at each other, their eyes silently communicating a whirlwind of messages. I love you. Play hard. Don’t hold back. Lena extended her hand, giving Kara a quick professional nod, the gleam in her eyes the only part betraying her cool exterior.

 

“Good luck.” Her tone gave away nothing, and yet the hint of a smirk twitched at red lips.

 

Kara returned her handshake, gripping firmly but letting her thumb caress the back of Lena’s hand. “Good luck,” Kara replied, squeezing lightly around Lena.

 

With a pause slightly longer than normal, the two women turned back to their end of the court. With a blow of a whistle, the game was off.

 

Kara gained a head start, winning the first set thanks to her brute strength and stamina. But Lena picked up on Kara’s weaknesses, the tactics she favored this match, and began to use them against her. The second set landed comfortably in Lena’s favor.

 

The third set was nothing short of brutal. Both women were nose to nose, not letting any balls go past them as they pushed each other to their limits. Sweat drenched down their faces, their bodies exhausted and overheating under a dying sun.

 

Kara took a few deep breaths. She gazed over across the court at Lena, who was crouched down in anticipating of her serve. Again, Lena was unfairly beautiful despite having wisps of hair sticking to her forehead. Her mouth was open and panting, her lipstick remarkably un-smudged. Kara can’t help but pull a lopsided smile on her face, her energy spiking when she saw Lena return it with a smirk of her own. Come on, that look said, don’t hold back.

 

Kara dribbled the tennis ball, testing its bounce before holding it steady in her left hand. She leaned back, putting her weight on her right leg and flexing her right foot as she launched the ball in the air. With a shout, Kara swung her arm with a ferocious snap, sending the ball sailing into the far corner of the court that had Lena scrambling to reach it. With a grunt, Lena just managed to reach it, backhanding the ball back to Kara. Kara sprinted forward, her racquet shaking in her arms at the ball’s impact as she attempted to land the ball closer to the net. Lena knocked it back with ease, already anticipating Kara’s maneuver and purposefully sent the ball sailing to the back of the court.

 

Kara chased after the ball determined to reach it in time. Her sneakers squeaked on the pavement as her feet scrambled beneath her. Just a few more steps…a few more.

 

She heard the pop before she felt it. And when she felt it, the whole world seemed to stop. The pain was immediate and unlike anything she’d every felt in her life. It was like someone took a sledgehammer and slammed it right onto her left heel. With an agonizing cry, Kara collapsed, her shoulder jarring painfully as it landed roughly on the ground. Arms shot out to desperately grasp at her left ankle, squeezing the tender joint praying that it would stop the pain. She let out another cry as the pain continued to eat at her. Her whole world seemed to narrow down to the fire that ate at her left foot, at how it seemed to dangle helplessly. Tears sprang to her eyes as she squeezed them tightly, whimpers of agony escaping through clenched teeth.

 

Far off in the distance, Kara thought she heard the clatter of a tennis racquet. Through the haze of tears, she saw Lena running across the court, leaping over the net as she ran towards Kara with fear and terror blazing across her face. She stumbled to a stop at Kara’s side, immediately crouching down on knees and grasping at her trembling form.

 

“Kara! Kara, darling, what’s wrong?” Lena fretted, panic seeping into her voice. Frantic hands moved across Kara as she remained unresponsive. The pain overwhelmed her. All she could do was shake her head and rock her body, trying to quell the tides of agony that rippled through her.

 

“Darling, please, tell me what’s wrong,” Lena pleaded, green eyes wide with worry, “tell me what to do.”

 

“L-Lena,” Kara gasped through tears. “Lena, guh-god, oh god it hurts. It hurts so bad.” Kara can’t help the sobs that tear at her chest. The pain was so great that it reduced her defenses leaving her entirely too vulnerable. And the look of Lena’s terrified face only brought more fear in Kara’s heart.

 

“Ssh, Kara you’ll be alright. I’m here, you’re going to be alright.” Lena soothed despite the tears that were collecting in her eyes. Lena found one of Kara’s hands and squeezed it, her other hand coming up to caress away damp blonde hair away from her face. Kara gripped Lena’s hand desperately as if she were a lifeline. Kara heard the shuffling of feet around her and the crackle of radios. The EMTs must have arrived.

 

“My ankle,” Kara stammered, her chest heaving as she started to hyperventilate in response to the shock, “Lena, s-something happened to my ankle. I felt a p-pop and the pain -”

 

“Don’t focus on the pain, Kara, focus on me,” Lena commanded, green eyes staring intensely at Kara. “Let the medics handle that. Right now I just need you to focus on me, focus on my breathing. Breath with me. Can you do that for me?”

 

Kara nodded her head desperately, gripping Lena’s hand so tightly she was sure she strangled off her blood supply. Lena placed their clasped hands to her chest, letting Kara feel the steady slow rise and fall of her chest.

 

“In your nose, then out your mouth. Wonderful, darling, keep going.” Gentle murmurs of encouragement drown of the noise of the team around her as they hover around them. A gloved hand landed on Kara’s left ankle, sending a flare of pain so sharp that Kara cried out again. Lena sucked in a gasp of concern before leaning closer to Kara, her face only half a foot away from Kara’s. A hand cupped the back of Kara’s neck as Lena rubbed her thumb soothingly across the sharp angle of her jaw. Kara struggled not to sob in pain as her girlfriend’s soft voice cooed reassurances and sweet nothings. She felt lips press on her forehead, murmurs of encouragement muffled against blonde hair as Kara trembled in her arms.

 

When Kara was brought off the court on a stretcher, Lena never once left her side, never once let go of her hand. The thundering applause of the audience was only background noise over the sound of Lena’s steady voice. It was the last sound she heard before she passed out from the pain medications.

 

--

 

Kara’s Olympic games were over, and the news hit her harder than expected. But Lena was there, after every game, every practice, to see her through therapy. Don’t hold back, Lena would shout from across the room as Kara gritted her teeth trying to walk steadily towards her. Kara counted herself extremely lucky. The ankle had fractured, the Achilles’ inflamed beyond recognition, but prognosis for a full recovery was good. Kara would be on crutches for some time, but there was hope. And that was all she needed. Hope, and Lena.

 

For the remainder of the games, Kara sat in the crowd, never failing to shout the loudest cheers for Lena as she won game after game. And when the Lena stood on the podium, gold sitting proudly on her chest, Kara never felt more in love. Just as the podium ceremony was about to end, Lena shot Kara a look from across the stage. Kara recognized that look, the challenge in her green eyes, the message that was sent clearly across the distances. Don’t hold back. Lena raised her hand, the one unoccupied by the bouquet of flowers, and beckoned Kara to her.

 

Kara hesitated for a second, wondering about rules and legality, before she connected eyes with Lena once more and threw rationality out the window. With a hobble and the clacking of crutches under her arms, Kara approached the podium, stopping before Lena and gazing up with the silliest grin on her face. Her hand naturally found Lena’s outstretched one. Lena tugged, her intent clear and her face one of complete joy. With a helpful boost from the silver and bronze medalists, Kara found herself standing with Lena on the coveted spot, her eyes unable to tear themselves away from the stunning woman beside her. The crowd went wild at the grand display of love and sportsmanship, and all Kara could think about was the ring sitting in her pocket, burning with inevitability.

 

Kara may not have won the games, but she thinks she very well may have won at life. Lena glanced at her, her eyes bright and adoring. Kara doesn’t hold back the kiss she pressed against Lena, and she swore she could taste the future.