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You Are My Soul to Save

Chapter Text

 

 

Kara: Thanks again for having lunch with me!

 

Lena:<3

 

Lena: I think I should be the one thanking you.

 

Kara: No, stop it. I’m the lucky one here!

 

Lena: That’s not an argument you will win, Miss Danvers.

 

Kara: We’ll see about that, Miss Luthor

 

 

Lena tries to suppress the growing smile on her lips, her eyes darting back and forth to reread the conversation a third time. Warmth thrums in her chest as she glosses over Kara’s text, even going so far as to scroll back up to previous conversations that also were sprinkled with that light flirtation neither woman dares to venture beyond. A breezy giggle manages to slip past her lips before she stops it with a press of her fingers.

 

Giddiness doesn’t suit you, Lena. She sighs, wondering just how she found herself in such a wonderful mess.

 

How Kara manages to debilitate years of hard-earned stoicism is a mystery to Lena. But then again, many things about Kara remain a mystery. Well, everything apart from the superhero thing. That was obvious by meeting number three with Kara Danvers and meeting number two with Supergirl. There were doubts, of course. Supergirl had the advantage of a Kryptonian mythos and glorifying press coverage that made her in-person encounters overwhelming and mystical, while Kara Danvers was decidedly underwhelming, approachable, and extraordinarily human.

 

Lena remembers how she and Supergirl chatted the night after the gala, fresh from successfully baiting the thugs her brother likely had funded. She remembers the excited, nervous way they talked, full of awkward pauses and wide grins like the way one would when the danger was long gone but the adrenaline still pulsed wild and free. Lena remembers an alarming frequency of laughs spilling out of her mouth, recalls the way she had to clasp her hands tightly together to keep them from wildly swinging around. Her whole body vibrated with adrenaline and nerves. She was talking with Supergirl, her enemy by history and ally by choice. Lena still blushes at how stunning and ethereal Supergirl was in the low light of her balcony.

 

The idea of Kara and Supergirl being the same person had existed in Lena’s thoughts, but it consisted of nothing more than musings over the clear physical resemblance and interesting relationship. In that quiet and strangely intimate conversation on the balcony, the thought had barely crossed her mind.

 

But then, at a particularly effusive compliment from Lena, Supergirl had dipped her chin, curly blonde hair falling across her brow as she gazed bashfully at Lena through her eyelashes, her shoulders shrugging in humble embarrassment, and suddenly Kara Danvers was standing in front of her.

 

Even now, Lena still feels echoes of her shock in every encounter she has with Kara and the superhero. It was only hours after Supergirl left that Lena realized how obvious it should have been, and it was days after when Kara Danvers showed up unannounced with scones and ginger tea that Lena realized she didn’t care.

 

Lena is still smiling as she rereads Kara’s text for the final time. The easy kind of friendliness between them is giving away to something else – brewing, a gentle bubbling of potential and underlying nerves - which Lena is finding harder and harder to ignore.  In the past it had been easy, to build up walls and shelter herself from the incoming storm that tries to throw her off balance. But with Kara, despite the fear lying heavy on her chest, Lena cannot find it in herself to fight it. Rather, she finds herself longing to cast herself into the thundering storm and let it sweep her off her feet. Lena doesn’t dare give that feeling a name, afraid to give it even more power over her. The only thing she knows is that for the first time in a very long time, Lena (not Lena Luthor, but Lena) feels seen.

 

Lena has never been good with love. She’s not even sure if she ever been in love. She hesitates to jump to conclusions, but oh, oh how she wants to with Kara. For the first time, Lena is not afraid to fall. She is undaunted by what will meet her on the ground. Because whatever is happening between her and Kara, it feels good. It feels right.

 

Lena’s thoughts are interrupted by a knock on her door. She leans back from her reclined position in her chair, setting the phone down on her desk and mentally reorganizing her thoughts to return back to LCorp. She calls out and is acknowledged with her temporary secretary, who’s replaced Jess while she was away on vacation.

 

“Your 2 pm is here, Ms. Luthor. A Mr. Emmett from Medivision.”

 

“Thank you, please send him in.”

 

Lena stands up gracefully, smoothing out her cream-colored dress and moves to place herself in front of her desk. A tall, severe man with broad shoulders walks in carrying a large silver briefcase. He is younger than Lena imagined, likely less experienced.

 

“Mr. Emmett, a pleasure,” Lena greets him, extending a hand.

 

“The pleasure is all mine, Ms. Luthor,” he replies tersely, meeting Lena in a firm handshake. “I understand that Dr. Huckabee has been your main contact with Medivision in the ongoing discussion of implementing the 3D medical imaging display platform. He sends his deepest apologies for being unable to make it today.”

 

“Dr. Huckabee is a brilliant man. I was sad to hear of his hospitalization,” Lena frowns as she folds her arms across her chest. “He and I have had extensive conversations regarding the project. Are you certain you are capable of carrying on our progress?”

 

The man barely twitches at the slight jab, though a flash of annoyance crosses his face. “Certainly, Ms. Luthor. I have come quite prepared for this meeting.”

 

The curt reply doesn’t sit well with Lena, but she’s dealt with more cantankerous businessmen before. She’ll just have to make do.

 

“Very well,” Lena acquiesces with a stiff nod. “Let’s get to the point, shall we?”

 

She moves to the standing table that lies off center to the left of her office. The man follows her, briefcase still in hand. He sets it down by the desk while Lena powers on the table to reveal a screen display integrated seamlessly onto the tabletop.

 

“As you know, Dr. Huckabee and I have been discussing the proper integration of these new display platforms across the nation,” Lena starts, her hands flitting around the screen as she works. “Clearly, we should first begin our trial run in the hospitals.”

 

“I’ve already begun conversations with Memorial Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson, and they have been favorable,” Emmett interjects, his eyes casually glossing over the screen.

 

Lena hums in affirmation. “Good. We will first implement them in fields where localization is absolutely essential – surgical specialties, chemoradiation centers, oncology - fields where precise localization within a three-dimensional body could save lives.”

 

Her hand swipes across the table to bring a large blueprint on display.

 

“The current display platform is quite large, I’m afraid. It will probably only fit inside large viewing rooms. LCorp would like to eventually see these displays downsized 30% that would allow placement into OR rooms and conference rooms. I’d like to hear your thoughts on if Medivision can accomplish this in a reasonable timeframe.”

 

The conversation stalls on for half an hour, the ebb and flow not quite smooth as the representative offers a more distant approach to the dialogue. Lena can feel the way he avoids certain topics, perhaps a defense mechanism to hide weaknesses in his fund of knowledge or a general apathy to the project. Either way, Lena was going to have a stern word with Medivision’s CEO.

 

“It seems like Medivision is onboard with the current agenda,” Lena reiterates after another long stall in the conversation. Emmett is now standing next to her, trying to look interested at the rough calendar displayed on the tabletop.

 

“Perhaps this is a good place to conclude?”

 

He nods slowly, his focus clearly preoccupied and not intent on moving things along any faster, to Lena’s dismay.

 

“Mmm, of course,” Emmett pauses, the gears in his head turning as he looks to Lena. “Seems about that time.”

 

Lena returns his odd gaze with an arch of her eyebrow. Her irritable mood grows with every passing second.

 

He exhales deeply, not unlike Lena does before a crucial decision. His lips purse, he nods again before moving behind Lena to grab at his coat hanging off of one of the chairs.

 

“I’m sure you have other meetings lined up,” the man said, his voice lost under the rustling of his coat. Lena, already tired of the small talk, returns to face the table, fiddling around as she works to close the schematics still glowing on the surface.

 

“Actually, you’re my last meeting for the day.”

 

“Really? I find that hard to believe,” he mumbles distractedly. Lena can hear him digging around his pocket.

 

“Shockingly, my new assistant is excellent at delegating work.”

 

“So no one is expecting you anytime soon?”

 

Lena hears the creaking of leather gloves being pulled onto large hands. She leans over the table to power down the screen before shaking her head.

 

“Good.”

 

A hand grabs the back of Lena’s head and slams her face into the glass table.

 

She hears a crunch before pain explodes across her face. She can’t tell if the sound is from the table or a broken nose, only that there is suddenly blood and her whole world is ringing in her ears. Lena gasps in shock, her breath driven out of her body from the sheer force of impact. Her head feels like it is split open, the high-pitched ringing in her ears an alarm blaring across her skull.

 

The room tilts nauseatingly as Lena slumps to the ground. A low groan escapes when her throbbing head jolts against the floor. Lena tries to blink away the fuzziness clouding her mind, but she can barely think beyond the agony lashing across her face with every twitch of muscle. Approaching footsteps move closer and closer.  A foot drives cruelly into her ribs, sending her into a desperate series of wheezes.

 

She catches a glimpse of her attacker’s receding feet as he moves towards the silver briefcase. Lena tries to pick herself up only to crumple over in pain from her protesting ribs. Blood trickles down her face and stains her pristine white carpet.

 

“I apologize for the rough treatment, Ms. Luthor.” The casual speech is ominous when juxtaposed to the woman lying in a fetal position on the floor. “But this next part takes a bit of set-up, and I really can’t afford you interfering. Oh, and don’t bother calling for help. Your assistant is out of commission.”

 

The suitcase pops open revealing an empty canister that Emmett carefully removes. He holds the device carefully, rising slowly to place it on top of the ruined tabletop.

 

Lena finally manages to get wobbly hands underneath her, dragging herself so that she sits hunched over, cradling broken ribs and wiping the blood away from her mouth.

 

Leaning back to rest against a leg of her couch, Lena feels her head loll back as she takes stuttering gasps of air. Her heart is beating out of her chest, yet her mind seems to move as if it were stuck in molasses. Green eyes flutter open as she attempts to fixate on the man in front of her, currently preoccupied with the contents of his suitcase. He continues to fade in and out of her vision.

 

“W-what…what’re you…”

 

Her mouth is fuzzy. Every word feels like a matted cotton ball across her tongue. Lena prays desperately for the room to stop spinning.

 

“Do you know what the Elephant’s foot is?”

 

His words are calm, the open question like the start of a lecture. More words form in Lena’s mind but lodge in the middle of her throat. The world continues to tilt back and forth. She swallows, tasting salty iron at the back of her mouth. Her captor takes her silence as ignorance and smirks.

 

“It was created in the Chernobyl disaster - a great, terrifying mass of pure radioactive power that even now, thirty years after its creation, just standing in its presence could kill you.”

 

Slowly, methodically, Emmett unclasps a second compartment, his gloved hands gingerly lifting up vials of viscous fluid. Lena’s stomach drops. She would recognize that haunting viridescent glow anywhere – Kryptonite.

 

Oh God, Kara.

 

“When scientists went to examine the extent of the disaster, they had no idea what they stumbled into when they found the Elephant’s foot.”

 

The sickly green hue that cast across her office sends her heart plummeting into her stomach. Lena is overwhelmed with the sudden urge to vomit. She takes a few shuddering breaths, trying to quell the nauseating fear that floods her entire body.

 

Emmett takes the first tube in his hands, guiding it forward to the empty canister, smiling as it snaps into an empty slot.

 

“Within thirty seconds of exposure, the scientists began to feel dizzy and lightheaded.”

 

He retrieves another tube and snaps it into place.

 

“Within two minutes of exposure, their cells started hemorrhaging.”

 

Another tube.

 

“Within four minutes of exposure, they began to vomit and bleed.”

 

Clink.     Snap.

 

“Within three hundred seconds of exposure, they had two days to live.”

 

The snap of the final tube sounds out like a cocked hammer of a loaded gun. Lena flinches at the sound. She just barely drags herself upright, standing on wobbly feet as she leans precariously over the back of her couch. Her free hand comes up to cradle her throbbing head, teeth gritting to prevent the whimper of pain escaping her mouth. Wide eyes never leave the glowing green abomination on the table.

 

“Synthetic kryptonite,” Emmett gloats as he gazes at the viridian poison, the awe that drips from his voice sending a wave of disgust through Lena. “It’s stronger, more potent, with radiation levels far exceeding that of natural kryptonite, purified to remove any harmful radiations to humans. In theory, it is capable of debilitating a Kryptonian within seconds, inflicting fatal damage within minutes.”

 

Lena glares at the madman, her blazing eyes not betraying the fear gnawing within her.

 

“Our own Elephant’s foot.”

 

There is a cold terror in every cell of Lena’s body. Every fiber of her being is rigid with fury and disgust. Every neuron in her brain is fixated on the one person this could be for. This was built for Kara. He is after Kara. They’re going to kill Kara.

 

And she is the bait.

 

“What have you done?” Lena slurs, her words still hazy from her head strike, but a snarl curls her lips despite the throbbing pain. “Why are you doing this?”

 

“Did you really think your brother was alone in his vision?” Emmett sneers, his face turning wild and ugly in the green glow of kryptonite. Lena remembers that same look on her brother’s face when reality and sanity broke around him. An old wound cracks painfully deep in her chest.

 

“You can lock away the man but not his ideas. There are still many who follow him, who see the world as it truly is – corrupted by false gods.”

 

Lena huffs in disbelief, her pain transforming to resentment in seconds.

 

“You’re delusional, all of you,” Lena spits, disgust dripping from her voice. “You think you can threaten me? Frighten me?” Lena takes this moment to spit out a gob of blood. “Please, I’ve played chess games more threatening than you.”

 

Ignoring the ache across her chest and straightening up, Lena arches her neck and lifted her chin in a look of defiance. The smirk on her attacker’s face only stirs the growing anger in the pit of Lena’s stomach. She clenches her hands to stop them from trembling.

 

“I’m not afraid of Lex,” Lena lies, anger masking the dread that coils in her stomach. “And you? You’re just a gnat, a nuisance he’ll swat away at his earliest convenience.”

 

“And we are all gnats under the feet of a Kryptonian!” Emmett retorts wildly. “I’m going to kill Supergirl, Ms. Luthor. It will be for all of humanity, and it all begins with you.”

 

Lena huffs incredulously, shaking her head. “You must think I’m an idiot if you think I’m going to help you get to Supergirl.”

 

A Cheshire grin spreads across his face. “Oh yes, Ms. Luthor, I believe you will.”

 

Lena’s heart plummets at the complete certainty in his words. There is no way, no way on this Earth, that Lena would ever betray Supergirl, betray Kara. Lena knew this as surely as she knew her own soul. But even she knew better than to second-guess her brother. Even with her genius intellect and strategic expertise, when pitted against Lex, Lena more often drew a stalemate than a victory, and usually at a heavy cost.

 

Emmett stalks towards her. Lena lurches away, her hand grasping towards the nearest surface and grabbing the closest item. Ignoring her screaming ribs, she raises it above her head poised to attack. It is a glass tumbler, a weak excuse for a weapon, but Lena is sure as hell not going to go down without a proper fight.

 

“Back the hell up,” Lena snarls, bracing herself on her feet. Crazed eyes stare back at her unfazed.

 

“You see,” Emmett inches towards Lena, not unlike a hunter would his prey, “I hear you are quite close with our little alien pest. Close enough that you could call her at any time, day or night, and she’d appear within the minute like a whipped dog.”

 

“Don’t fucking talk about her,” Lena growls, a rush of anger filling her chest as fingers clench tighter around the tumbler.

 

He lunges, cutting the distance between him and Lena in half. Lena shouts with surprise, throwing the tumbler at his face only for her assailant to dodge it with ease. Scrambling, her head swings side to side frantically, her heart sinking when she notices the walls are alarmingly close all around her.

 

“She must care for you deeply, Ms. Luthor. Perhaps…even love you?”

 

Lena’s heart pounds in her chest, her breath coming now in panicked pants. Wide eyes spot her white desk. Lena moves to place the desk in between her and Emmett, never taking her eyes off of the man for a second. He resumes his circling, a vulture flying over a carcass, hovering closer and closer with a terrible gleam in his eye.

 

“Maybe you even love her back. Abominable, though unsurprising.”

 

He lunges again, this time launching himself an arms length away from Lena. Lena dodges only to stumble forward when her foot catches against a chair leg. It is enough for a rough hand to grasp her shoulder and drag her back into an unforgiving broad chest. Lena chokes out a cry, struggling to push herself out of his hold. She beats her fists ferociously at any inch of her opponent’s body, but the awkward angle of her throws lack the momentum she needed to cause real damage.

 

A forearm wraps tightly around her throat, cutting off her windpipe and strangling her cry in her throat. Lena chokes against the unbearable pressure, tears springing from her eyes as she claws frantically at the vice grip.

 

“What a disgrace. So eager, so desperate for attention,” Emmett taunts, the words whispered harshly into her ears. Bright stars dance across Lena’s flickering gaze as her lungs burn desperately for air. “The Luthors were right to shun you. You don’t deserve their love. You never did.”

 

Fuck you,” Lena spits, her hate and vitriol channeled into those two words despite the arm clamped over her throat. “I’ll never help you. I’ll die before I put her in danger. You’re going to have to kill me to get to her.”

 

A huff of laughter grazes Lena’s cheek as the chokehold tightens.

 

“Oh Ms. Luthor, I’m counting on it.”

 

The blade slides into her like butter, slipping into her right flank with deadly ease. Lena gasps, eyes widening in shock and horror. For a moment, the sudden intrusion and coolness of the blade distract Lena from everything else as her body struggles to catch up.

 

The pain hits, suddenly, flooding from her back like molten lava across her torso, her chest, down her legs and all the way up to her scalp. Her scream comes out as little more than a choked cry, the rest held back by the arm still wrapped tightly around her neck. Eyes squeeze shut as agony spreads with every pump of her racing heart.

 

Shallow stunted breaths escape from clenched teeth, pain flaring with every desperate pull of her lungs. Stars appear as her brain slowly depletes of precious oxygen. Somewhere in her starved brain, Lena prepares for the kill. She waits for the knife to twist, for the handle to dig deeper into her flesh and send her to a quick death. She waits for Lex to take his final prize.

 

The knife remains still, almost mercifully dormant lodged deep in her flank. Hot breaths huff across her cheek. Lena whimpers as she tries to recoil from the panting mouth.

 

“I aimed the knife just shy of the kidney,” Emmett murmurs lowly. “I’d say you have about…thirty minutes, give or take.”

 

The knife yanks out unexpectedly. The flash of pain locks Lena’s body in a paralyzing spasm, stealing the breath lodged in her throat as her back arches tortuously in shock. The arm around her neck loosens.

 

Lena stumbles forward, her hand instinctively reaching to her right side. A wet cry escapes her lips when she presses into the wound. Pain shoots up her spine as she tries to staunch the flow. Sticky, hot blood immediately soaks her hand and dampens her dress.

 

Lena sinks to her knees, her legs giving out beneath her as she catches herself on bruised elbows. She gasps desperate panting breaths trying not to pass out from the agony.  Lena bites down a whimper and shifts her body around to look at the man hovering over her, the blade still slick with her blood.

 

“You’ll bleed out eventually,” he says softly, almost pityingly. “But it will be slow, and painful.”

 

A simple cloth appears from inside a coat pocket. Emmett cleans his knife meticulously as if he were cleaning his glasses. “By the time I leave, you’ll wish you were dying faster.” With a flick, the dagger sheaths and is tucked back into his pocket. “You’ll be in so much pain, you’ll be desperate enough to call your Supergirl and beg her to save you.”

 

Never, Lena wants to say. But a wave of pain doubles her over so that only a choked sob escapes her lips. Beyond the ringing in her ears, Lena hears a satisfied chuckle above her.

 

“But I suppose a dead body is still good bait. Either way, Supergirl will come. She can’t help it when it’s about you. And she’ll die because of you.”

 

No no no no no...

 

Lena flinches when a whisper suddenly rasps in her ear.

 

“Goodbye, Lee.”

 

Tears flow freely down Lena’s cheeks, mind uncaring of the receding footsteps. She remembers those same words spoken to her in the dark memories of her childhood, accompanied with an easy smile and a warmth in her chest. She remembers how those memories turned to ash as madness took the easy grace from her brother, warping him in bitterness and rage. She hates how those words, those memories, still have power over her still even as she lies bleeding.

 

With great effort and a pained sob slipping through her lips, Lena raises her head to survey the damage. Her office still glows with the sickening hue of Kryptonite. Tilting her weight onto her haunches, Lena grasps the edge of her white desk and pulls herself up to her feet. The pain is excruciating. Lena groans as she pushes herself onto swaying feet, her lungs panting like she sprinted a hundred meters. She takes a wobbly step towards the device, her mind solely focused on destroying it. But her body betrays her on the second step, her knees giving out as she is swept up in another wave of agony. She grunts as she lands hard against the desk.

 

When tears drip down her cheeks, Lena knows it is not just from the pain. With crushing clarity, Lena realizes she cannot destroy the device. Not like this, not when she is…

 

She sags against her desk, defeat and pain whittling her down until she is quietly sobbing. Lena never knew pain could be like this. Hot. Angry. Debilitating. Lena feels the edge of her vision shimmer out of focus as it claws its way through her body. Energy leeches from her body as if under the influence of the Kryptonite glow in the room.

 

She chances a look at her torso, fear settling in her throat at the gruesome sight. Her cream dress is now a gory canvas of dark red, still growing from the wound in her back that still trickles blood. Lena can already feel her pulse racing faster and faster, her heart desperately trying to compensate for the blood loss with every frantic contraction.

 

Lena always hoped that she would die without regret. It is a foolish thought, a fantasy given what her family had done. But secretly, Lena wishes she could live long enough to do enough good deeds to leave her heart less heavy when she passed.

 

Lena chuckles sadly. What a joke, she thinks. Now, in her last moments, all she has are regrets. She regrets not recognizing the madness that stirred in her brother. She regrets how long she waited to claw herself out of the emotional cage she created to protect herself. But nothing, not even Lex, could outmatch the heart-wrenching guilt of not telling Kara the whole truth.

 

 Not telling Kara that her smile sends Lena’s heart fluttering in the most delightful way.

 

Not telling Kara that no has ever made her feel less alone.

 

Not telling Kara that when she imagines the future, she never imagines one without Kara.

 

Not telling Kara that she is the most beautiful woman she has ever laid eyes on.

 

And now it is all too late. To call Kara for help would be a mistake, the last mistake Lena would make in a lifetime of mistakes. The one mistake she cannot bear to make. Lena spots her phone out of the corner of her eye. She reaches out, grunting in pain as she aggravates her wound. Trembling fingers grasp her phone and bring it to her lap. With an un-bloody finger, Lena unlocks her phone to reveal the last text conversation she had.

 

Kara’s name is glaringly displayed across her screen. But Lena is resolute in her decision.

 

Kara will hate her. Kara may never forgive her. Lena accepts that. Even before Lex sent his goon to finish her, Lena knew that she would willingly die for Supergirl. Die for Kara. She will not accept any other alternatives.

 

And yet her resolve cracks. So weak and close to death, Lena’s bravery wavers. She doesn’t want to be alone when it all ends. She wants Kara. Selfishly, Lena wants Kara to be the last voice she hears, to be the last person she talks to, to be the last thing she’ll remember before it all ends. She wants, wants, wants her, with every fiber of her being.

 

I think I love her, Lena realizes, her tired heart surging with vitality at her epiphany while her body shuts down. Lena was absolutely, unreservedly, and unconditionally in love with Kara Danvers. The truth devastates her more than any physical knife could.

 

The blood continues to trickle between her fingers. Lena drifts her gaze to stare at the red stains spreading across her dress, her chest clenching as she swallows tightly. Her head tips back in defeat. Too late…always too late.

 

A red finger drifts across her phone to hover over Kara’s name. She barely touches it, but the screen jumps to life as it begins to call Kara. Lena hasn’t the heart to end it. A bloody finger presses the loudspeaker button. Lena waits with bated breath.

 

“Hey, Lena!”

 

Just the sound of Kara’s voice alone brings a faint smile to Lena’s face.

 

“I was just hanging out with Alex.”

 

Lena chuckles, happy to be reminded of how loved Kara is. “Well give her a ‘hello’ for me,” Lena replies softly.

 

“Lena says ‘hello’”, she hears in the background. Each pull of her lungs feels heavier and heavier.

 

“She said ‘hi’. You’re done with your meeting early.”

 

Lena looks hopelessly at the bloody mess on her torso. “Yes, well, the agenda was cut short, so I thought I’d call my favorite person,” she coos reassuringly despite the circumstances.

 

“Aww, stop it.” Lena can hear the blush in Kara’s voice, can imagine the rosy color dusting her cheeks.

 

“I can’t help it,” Lena chuckles breathlessly. She glances at the clock on her wall. “It feels like much longer than a few hours since I last saw you.”

 

“That’s why I’ve been trying to kill time until you got out of your meeting and could call me.”

 

Lena’s heart clenches at the hopefulness in Kara’s voice. “We’re pretty ridiculous,” Lena breathes, feeling more than a bit lightheaded now.

 

The bubbly laugh Kara releases inject a little vitality into Lena’s tired body. “That’s what Alex says.”

 

“Oh really?”

 

“Yeah. Her and Maggie, actually.”

 

“Hmm…” It is all Lena can manage as her pain flares again. She bites back a groan. “Then it must be true,” she manages to say.

 

“If it’s true, then it’s a good kind of ridiculous.”

 

Another faint smile flickers across Lena’s face. “That’s good to know.”

 

Her head lolls forward, exhausted and dizzy from blood loss. “I should let you get back to your sister.”

 

“Oh, no, Lena. It’s fine. We were done. You aren’t keeping me from anything.”

 

Her chuckle comes out more like a sigh. “Still…I’m sure your sister is giving you exasperated looks behind your back.”

 

Kara laughs delightfully. Lena’s heart breaks.

 

“I’ll let you go, ‘kay?” She whispers, voice thick and trembling with emotion. She bites her lip to prevent a sob escaping.

 

“Oh okay. I’ll talk to you later.” The casualness in Kara’s voice almost makes Lena believe that was true. For a moment, the ache in her heart overshadows the pain of her wound. Lena almost breaks and gives in.

 

“I lo - ”

 

Lena stops herself, swallowing the lump in her throat. Even now, in her last moments, she isn’t brave enough.

 

“I had a great time at lunch today,” she says instead.

 

“I always have a great time with you.” It’s the open honesty Lena hears in Kara that breaks her.

 

A tear slides down her cheek. “Likewise,” Lena whispers. She can feel herself fading. She has to end this now before Kara suspects. “Have fun with your sister.”

 

“Will do,” Kara mutters distractedly, probably being dragged out by Alex.  “Bye, Lena!”

 

“Bye, Kara…” Lena says reverently, waiting until her phone beeps signaling the end of the call.

 

Lena sucks in a desperate sob, her eyes blinking rapidly as tears streak down her cheeks. In spite of the terrible ache in her chest, Lena feels relief spread across her body. She glances at the chessboard tucked away on her shelf. Victory eases the tension in her body. Lex will not win. Not when Lena is willing to sacrifice the queen to save the most important piece on the board.  As Lena stares at her stained dress, she feels a spark of satisfaction in her play.

 

A stalemate it is.

 

Lena tips her head back to lean against the desk, exhaustion pulling like lead weights on her eyelids as they flutter shut. She swallows, her mouth dry as she draws shallower and shallower breaths. Her strength seeps from her damaged body like the blood that now only oozes onto the ground.

 

With the last of her energy, Lena reaches up to grasp at the note pad and pen hanging precariously off her desk. The pen is a brick in her hands as she tries her best not to stain the paper. With sluggish movements, Lena writes down what she could not bear to say out loud.

 

Kara –

 

I’m the lucky one for having your voice be the last one I heard.

 

I love you.

 

Lena

 

The pen slips from her fingers. Lena seems to collapse against the desk as if her whole body released a sigh and reduced down to jelly. The pain feels muted now, dampened in her exhausted brain. Regret bubbles threateningly up her throat, but Lena lets it go.

 

She lets everything go. Lingering fears, hopes, and dreams. She releases them like dandelion seeds in a gentle breeze.  The only thing she keeps is the memory of true unadulterated warmth that only one person in her life can bring.

 

Lena clutches onto that feeling, tenderly holding it close to her heart. A gentle companion in her last moments.

 

It stays with her until the world turns dark.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

It is a perfect day for flying.

 

Kara is humming the tune of her favorite Kryptonian folk song as she soars through the sky. The comforting lilt of the melody accompanies the hero’s buoyant mood as she heads towards a familiar destination. The route to L-Corp is second nature to her now given how often she visits Lena, with or without the CEO’s knowledge. The velvet box with Lena’s custom-made beacon bracelet lies snuggly in the palm of her hand.

 

Kara originally intended to wait a bit before venturing over to Lena’s. She didn’t want to raise any suspicion about her identity just yet, not before she found the right time to tell her (she really needs to tell her). Kara, however, had done a poor job at concealing her excitement.

 

So, when Alex rolled her eyes and pleaded with her to ‘just go before you vibrate through the floor,’ Kara couldn’t find it in herself to argue.

 

Historically, Kara admits that she is terrible at containing her reactions with Lena. There is just something about the woman – the unwavering gaze of green eyes, the knowing tilt of her smile, the unexpected softness in her interactions – that almost convinces Kara that Lena has her own superpower catered just for the heroine. One that often left her stumbling for words, battling a racing heart, and holding such a yearning to be around Lena at all times of the day.

 

Her relentless crush on the CEO certainly doesn’t help.

 

Thinking about Lena as something more than a friend sends Kara’s heart tumbling. Kara can’t deny that she has entertained the thought a thousand times over. It is all too easy for her mind to conjure fantasies of Lena’s hand entwined with hers, feeling her laughter peal intimately against her neck, wondering what porcelain skin would feel like under her lips. It all seems too fantastical, too out of reach that Kara scarcely dares to hope. But with the recent way she and Lena escalated their banter to overt flirting and lingering touches, the velvet box burns Kara’s hand with imminent possibilities.

 

Kara, quite simply, is in awe of Lena. On paper, Lena is all but written to be a villain, to be the nemesis of Supergirl. Even Kara would not have been surprised had she only known Lena’s sordid family history.  People commit terrible crimes with far weaker motives, as Kara has unfortunately come to discover in her line of work. But then she met Lena and was taken by the sincerity that softened the hard edges of her voice, was touched by the vulnerability she exposed with every unexpected act of kindness. It is addicting – Lena is addicting. Everything about Lena seems to draw Kara in deeper and deeper, and Kara was happy to let it consume her whole.

 

To Kara, Lena is – simply – human, in the most endearing and beautiful way. Every morning, Lena wakes up to a world of superpowered aliens and metahumans, goes to work armed with only her brain and a bold shade of lipstick, and simply tries. Lena tries, hoping to make a stubborn world more bearable to live in, knowing that every decision she makes to do good could just as easily backfire, and yet she never stops. How could Kara see this every day and not fall a little bit in love with Lena?

 

Flying above National City with her mind lost in a daydream, Kara is entirely unprepared for the sudden wave of nausea that overwhelms her. She immediately loses several meters in altitude, her strength seeping away like sand through open fingers. Every muscle seizes in reaction, a widespread ache settling deep into her bones.

 

Gasping in surprise, Kara immediately backtracks, somehow finding a way to stay afloat long enough to distance herself. Her strength recovers marginally, but her muscles still sting as she sucks in gulps of air attempting to recover from the initial shock.

 

Instinctively, Kara whips her head around searching for green. There is no mistaking the sensation of Kryptonite on her skin. But Kara has never felt the onset of its influence so strongly before. Worry settles deep in her belly. Searching the skyline, Kara’s eyes widen at the green glow pouring from a very familiar office. Kara is still a little over a dozen meters away, but already she can feel the Kryptonite prickling across her body.

 

Using her X-ray vision, Kara’s eyes are drawn to the glowing device located in the far corner of Lena's office, but her attention immediately shifts to a sight that makes Kara’s blood run cold.

 

The world freezes when she takes in the familiar figure slumped against the desk, her body still, an unsettling amount of blood staining her cream dress and the floor around her. Shock sets like ice in Kara’s veins.

 

Everything else, the device, the Kryptonite, is forgotten.

 

“Lena,” Kara gasps, choking out barely a shocked whisper. Terror rises like lava in the back of her throat. “LENA!” Kara screams, horror painfully burning through her so sharply she nearly drops from the sky again.

 

Not Lena. Rao please not her. Anyone but her! Kara’s mind is screaming. A cacophony of confusion and fear rattle inside her skull. She refuses to comprehend the cruel sight. She refuses to accept it, because she was coming over to make sure this wouldn’t happen – this was never supposed to happen. This…Lena can’t be…

 

Her vision tunnels until there is only Lena, broken and bloody and so frighteningly still.  All she can hear is the rapid gasping of her lungs and her own heartbeat thundering away in her ears.

 

Her mind scrambles to convince herself that Lena might still be alive, that there is still hope, but all reason is lost to the raging maelstrom of fear and panic swarming within her. There is just too much blood - too much blood and Lena is too still.

 

But she was fine just a minute ago, how could she – why wouldn’t Lena – Oh Rao why didn’t she come sooner? She’s too late. She’s too goddamn late and now Lena is -

 

“Oh no, no no no no no,” Kara can feel herself unraveling at the seams, tears streaming down her cheeks blurring her vision. Still hovering mid-air, her body is cold and shaking in shock as if she had been dunked in ice water. Her hands tremble as they grasp at her head, her fingers nearly tearing out blonde hair as panic drenches her like a cold wave. The gruesome sight of Lena’s bloodied body makes her want to throw up.

 

Kara sobs hysterically, her mind already losing her grip on reality at the thought of Lena dead.

 

But she might not be…oh Rao she never checked ---

 

Clarity hits her like a bullet and cuts through the cloying panic. Kara straightens, forcing aside all the hysteria bursting within her and listens. Her heart lurches when she’s met with deafening silence. Fists clench so tightly that knuckles turn white.

 

Please, Kara prays, please please pl –

 

 

 

Lub dub.                    

 

 

 

Lub dub.

 

 

 

Kara cries out in relief. Lena’s alive. Just barely. Kara is not too late.

 

But not for much longer.

 

Kara can’t waste any more precious time. Lena could die, and that cannot happen. She clamps down on the terror sweeping through her body, crushing it down by sheer brute force. She beats down her raging thoughts about Lena - Lena lying in a pool of blood, Lena in pain, Lena dying, Lena, Lena, LENA! – until her mind and body are numb.

 

Kara manages this all within five seconds. Too long, Kara growls.

 

Kara’s first instinct is to fly to Lena, but the immediate sting in her body when she flies but a meter closer reminds her of the green glow surrounding Lena’s office. Kara curses, her mind frantically flipping through algorithms of rescue plans she conjures in the next second and a half.

 

Kara flies higher, angling her body while her mind churns out rapid calculations in mechanical physics. Frenzied panic builds higher and higher with each passing millisecond.

 

If she could just get the trajectory right then maybe –

 

Acceleration has to be perfect to reach the correct velocity, and what if the kryptonite –

 

It’s so strong, what if I can’t do anything when I -

 

Kara shouts wordlessly in frustration, her eyes unable to tear themselves away from the unconscious woman bleeding on the ground. She can hear Lena’s heartbeat fading with every subsequent slow beat.

 

There’s no more time to think.

 

Kara presses her finger to her ear, connecting her to the DEO.

 

“J’onn, I need you. Lena is hurt and there’s Kryptonite. I’m not waiting.”

 

She cuts the feed off. There are a thousand other factors she has yet to calculate, but Kara ignores them. There is only Lena, the red stain on her dress, and her slowing heartbeat.

 

Damn the odds.

 

Kara squeezes the velvet box in her hand, the item inside once so precious now completely useless and inconsequential compared to the unfolding nightmare before her. She glances at the balcony several meters away for a centisecond before tossing the box, her aim sending it into the farthest corner of the ledge.

 

Without a second thought, Kara bursts forward.

 

She doesn’t fly so much as fall towards the window of Lena’s balcony. Within milliseconds into her flight, the Kryptonite strips Kara of her strength, leaving Kara free falling in a suddenly shifted trajectory. It is only through the momentum of her initial burst that propels her through the last several meters.

 

Kara crashes down in a shower of glass and steel.

 

She lands hard on the unforgiving tile floor. Glass shards cut across suddenly fragile skin, leaving red streaks where the suit left vulnerable. But Kara doesn’t even feel it, not when her body is consumed by a whole other kind of pain.

 

The sting of Kryptonite is like nothing else on this Earth. Blood boils yet runs icy cold in constricted veins. A thousand nerve endings spark into overdrive, sending white-hot flashes of stinging pain across every inch of flesh and bone. The brain swells, throbbing and pushing against the skull like an overinflated balloon. In the terrible glow of Kryptonite, everything but pain ceases to exist.

 

This? This is worse.

 

There is death running through Kara. The Kryptonian’s back arches impossibly, locking her body in a terrible rigor mortis as fire eviscerates every single living cell within her. Kara screams wretchedly, air barely able to slip past her constricted airway to let out the awful sound so much as let her breath. Clawed hands futilely paw at the ground, tearing her fingernails in a bloody mess as if to distract her from the sensation of skin blistering in the green glow of Kryptonite. Agony rips through her, shaking through her skull, down her spine, and against her ribcage, rattling her from the inside out.

 

Kara clings to the carpet beneath her, trying to force air past her paralyzed diaphragm.

 

 Just a few seconds…need to get used to the pain. The mantra runs over and over in her head like it had many times before in the throes of a heated fight. And yet this pain never gives. It only grows, like acid poured in her veins, relentless and inexorable. Kara can hardly see she’s so blinded by it. She knows her veins are pulsing with sickly green hues as it leeches across her neck. Oh Rao, she can’t…she can’t

 

Kara sucks in a desperate gasp of air, her lips tasting iron and the horrid stridorous noise as she forces the air past her closed off airways. It helps, minimally. But her diaphragm relaxes enough to translate to the rest of her body. Her muscles loosen just enough to let Kara twist onto her stomach.

 

The first move is agony. A terrible wail breaks across the room as Kara slowly crawls towards Lena. Every inch of her body is screaming at her to stop, to get away from the poison in the air. But she can’t stop. She won’t.

 

Huffing between clenched teeth, Kara burns with every motion. A cold sweat breaks over her skin despite her flesh feeling white hot. There’s a terrible pounding in her head like her brain is slamming against her skull. Her ears ring. Her vision blurs. But she keeps moving, shuffling her body like a wounded soldier in the trenches, shifts until she finally is close enough to the woman she would die to protect.

 

Up close, Lena still retains her unworldly beauty, but the paleness in her skin is sickly, more translucent than the shimmering paleness Kara dreams about. It lies in stark contrast to the gory maroon mess drenching her dress and smeared beneath them both. Kara bites back a whimper when her hand supporting her body slips beneath her. Lena’s blood, oh Rao, there’s just too much. The shallow rise and fall of her chest is the only sign of life on Lena. Kara holds back a sob as she takes in the sight of Lena so hurt, so still, and so obviously baited.

 

This was her fault. All of this.

 

Reaching out with trembling fingers, Kara reaches for her. Even though the fog of agony, Kara feels the coldness of Lena’s skin seeps through her fingertips.

 

Oh, Rao please. Not yet…

 

The ache in her chest becomes too much, burdened by both the Kryptonite and the reality that Lena is barely holding on. She brushes her fingers along Lena’s cheeks, gliding down to the caress the edge of her jaw. 

 

I’m sorry…so sorry…

 

With both hands, Kara pulls Lena’s face towards her, pitching Lena forward to collapse into the Kryptonian’s body. Lena’s head lolls weakly against the emblem emblazed on Kara’s chest. Nausea rolls her stomach when her hand slips in the sticky pool of blood collecting behind Lena’s back. Biting back bile, Kara wraps tight arms around Lena, her eyes gazing down at the pale woman. Lena, please.

 

The anguish sweeping through her pulls a hitched sob from her lips. There is wetness dripping from her eyes. The red hazed eyesight tells Kara that it’s not just tears dripping from her tear ducts. She prays this won’t be the last time Lena will be in her arms.

 

Hold on Lena, I’m here. I’m going to save you.

 

With a desperate arm clutched over Lena’s limp body, Kara drags herself across glass shards and bloody puddles. Every movement pulls a desperate groan from her lips. Every inch Kara moves feel like her last. Each time, Kara thinks her body will finally shut down and let the Kryptonite take her.

 

But she doesn’t stop. She crawls, claws her way forward, never releasing the trembling vice-grip around Lena.

 

Out…

 

Kara whimpers as she cuts her thigh open sliding over a shard of glass. The ringing in her ear rattles her skull. There’s wetness trickling down from her ear over her neck. She coughs, blood escapes the corner of her mouth, the source coming from Rao knows where in her body.

 

Have to…get her…out…

 

Out to where, Kara doesn’t know. The capacity to think beyond this primal command is burning away just like her skin is. The back of her hand is red and angry, small boils and blisters breaking across the surface as if a hot pan had been pressed against it. Kara’s face and neck must be no different. The mountain of pain continues to grow.

 

Kara heaves, a groan escaping her as she pulls herself and Lena to the edge of the balcony ledge. She presses against the glass partition, feeling cool glass against her damp forehead. Arms burn and shake with exertion. With a pained cry, Kara pulls Lena closer to her, resting her head across a shielded chest and pressing her tightly to her body.

 

Kara is so close, so close to getting Lena to safety. But her body is failing. Her brain feels like it’s forgotten its most primal functions – her lungs can’t breathe, her sight is fading with every burst blood vessel, her heart stutters as her brainstem slowly shuts down. Even the pain feels like an echo of what it once was. The world is fading, falling in and out of a dark void that is as alluring as it is frightening.

 

Got to…off…get off…

 

A mottled hand thumps limply at the glass. It’s barely enough to make a sound let alone shatter through. She beats pathetically against the barrier, each thump getting weaker and weaker. There’s not an ounce of strength left in Kara. Her body is shattered, poisoned, broken beyond repair. Eyelids flutter, fighting against the encroaching darkness. She feels the slightest puff of breath across her collarbone, one that came from faded red lips.

 

The graze of Lena’s breath across her chest reignited the furious drive that Kara thought had been ripped from her permanently with the Kryptonite. It’s Lena. Kara grits her teeth, feeling bits of enamel chip off from the force of her clenched jaw.

 

Nnngh…no…s-save…

 

As if suddenly tapped into some unknown reservoir, a surge of energy bursts through Kara. It’s brief, effervescent, but enough. Her fist clenches tight against the glass, feeling it bend.

 

Save…LENA!

 

A hoarse cry rips out as Kara slams her fist against the glass, shattering it into a million pieces that fall like crystal rain. Kara watches the pieces fall down what looks like an infinite journey to the ground. A cool wind greets them welcomingly even as Kara begins to lose feeling across her body.

 

Her heart thumps weakly in her chest, the pause between every beat getting longer and longer. Each pull of her lungs brings in less and less air. Kara’s vision darkens as her eyes roll to the back of her head. She can feel death just around the corner, just below the ledge…

 

With the last of her strength, the Kryptonian cranes her neck down towards the woman lying deathly still atop her. There’s something deeper aching within her, beyond the numbing pain of Kryptonite. With tears in her eyes, Kara mournfully realizes the love she has poured into Lena all this time and laments over lost time. As she holds Lena close, the memory of hugging Lena, pressing tightly against her, floods her system. It warms her even as her body begins to cool.

 

Holding onto that last memory of Lena, Kara pulls her close, muttering a prayer to Rao, before rolling and plunging them over the edge.

 

Falling, falling, falling into the streets below.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Lena wakes up first. Not that it is a competition, but one should never underestimate a Luthor’s insatiable desire to exceed beyond expectations.

 

Then again, ‘wake’ is a loose definition of what happened. It was more like Lena clawed her way back to consciousness, deliriously attempted to remove the tube stuck down her throat, before promptly falling back into a comatose state.

 

Still counts.

 

The next time Lena wakes, it is to the mechanical chirps of her heartbeat. The whirring of pumps and wheezing of pressurized gas fade in and out. Her mind moves sluggishly as if she is swimming through a pool of molasses with every thought lying just out of reach. There is pain across every inch of her entire body but it is mercifully muted like someone cranked down the volume and it just…exists, far away in the background. It is an odd kind of limbo, halfway between existence and absence. Lena would move if she could, but her thoughts can’t quite connect to the rest of her body. So, she remains still.

 

She doesn’t know how much time passes, only that eventually Lena thinks she has gained enough mastery of her body to muster up another attempt. Eyelids manage to break away from the sticky crusting along the seam, letting a crack of light into Lena’s world. It’s not nearly as blinding as she expects. Someone must of have done her the courtesy of dimming down the lights. A few hard blinks later, her eyes focus on her surroundings.

 

The sterile room is spacey and more breathable than the crowded hospital beds she saw visiting the Luthor Children’s Hospital. A sharp odor hangs in the air smelling of disinfectant and overly perfumed sheets poorly attempting to mask any unsavory stenches. She is itchy. The thin gown hanging on her shoulders scratches against Lena’s sensitive skin, but the thick comforter weighing down her body is deliciously toasty. The beeping and whirring of machines grow louder with every second. The muffled quality over her ears slowly falls away.

 

In a cushioned chair rests a curled figure in all black, a thick batch of short auburn hair obscuring her face. Lena vaguely recognizes the figure, but her mental energy buckles at the knees with any heavy thinking. Green eyes flutter shut again, their eyelids seemingly anchored down by weights.

 

When her next attempt at moving only makes the aching worse, Lena grunts with frustration. The woman stirs before noticing Lena’s eyelids flutter open again. Lena is surprised to see the relief on the agent’s face.

 

“Lena,” Alex exhales, getting up and approaching the bed.

 

Normally severe and curt, Alex looks softer than Lena has ever seen before. And older. The agent seems to have aged ten years in the past month since she last saw her. Dark shadows surround sunken eyes. Exhaustion settles in the deepening lines across her forehead and mouth. She slouches more than usual as if some heavy burden is just about to break her back. She looks like she belongs in a hospital bed just as much as Lena does.

 

“Hey,” Alex greets softly, a tired smile flickering across her face. “You’re in the DEO medical bay. You’re safe.” She moves to sit at the chair beside the bed, brown eyes scanning up and down in subtle assessment. “How are you feeling?”

 

“Hurts,” Lena croaks, earning a quiet chuckle from Alex. She turns her head to face Alex, her green eyes finding kind ones staring back. She swallows, wincing when the motion irritates her painfully dry throat.

 

“How long?” She rasps.

 

“Ten days. We discontinued intubation three days ago, but your throat is still pretty bruised.” Alex pauses, lips pursing. “Do you remember what happened?”

 

Lena knits her eyebrows, sifting through her patchwork memory. “I…there was Kryptonite. And I was –” Lena falters. She looks up at Alex worriedly. “…He stabbed me.”

 

“He really did a number on you,” Alex replies sympathetically, her hand coming to rest on Lena’s knee. “We had to do an emergency nephrectomy and remove your right kidney. The left is functioning just fine on its own. The knife also nicked parts of your small bowel. We salvaged what we could and removed segments that were beyond saving.”

 

Lena groans, willfully choosing to ignore her new status as a single-kidneyed-midget-gut person for the moment. She has an expensive therapist who can help her with that. Eventually. A sharp pain lances across her chest as she takes in a small breath.

 

Lena winces. “Why…does my chest hurt?”

 

Alex grimaces, running her fingers through messy unkempt hair. “Your ribs are broken. We had to do several rounds of compressions in the field before taking you to surgery. It’s…it’s going to take a while for them to recover.”

 

“Ugh…” Lena begrudgingly nods her head. It makes sense, though a small part of her is almost annoyed they tried to bring her back. At least then she wouldn’t have to feel pain with every slight breath. She looks over at Alex, who’s guilty expression essentially confirms that she was the one who straddled Lena’s body and cracked her sternum to keep her alive.

 

Lena has half a mind to reassure Alex, to remind her that she saved her life, but the amount of words and emotional energy needed for that conversation already leaves her exhausted. So instead, she diverts.

 

“Kryptonite…” Lena murmurs, words slightly slurring in exhaustion. Alex catches the question in her tone and nods.

 

“We found the Kryptonite and destroyed it once we learned all we could from it. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.” There is a sliver of awe in Alex’s voice that offers a glimpse of her scientific curiosity, but it is swiftly buried beneath a thick layer of visceral disgust. “We collected a lot of evidence from your office, and we’ve been analyzing it to give us a better understanding of what happened.”

 

There is a haunted look in Alex’s eyes. Lena imagines Alex walking through the bloody ruins of her office, her steps careful and heavy as she surveilled the area, taking in the morbid scene that looked like the aftermath of a Shakespearian tragedy.

 

“We’ll find him, Lena.”

 

Lena flinches, the reminder of Lex and his madness stirs the memories of a harsh whisper in her ears as she lay bleeding on the floor. She quickly shoves that nightmare into the dark prison where all the rest of her unwanted past dwells.

 

A raspy cough alerts Lena of her aching throat, the dry cold air doing nothing to relieve the terrible scratch at the back of her pharynx. Lena flicks her eyes over to the water, watching Alex follow her gaze and catch onto her thoughts.

 

The agent leans over, grabbing the paper cup filled with water and gently brings it to Lena’s lips. Lena gulps it down eagerly. The water tastes almost sweet with how parched her mouth is. She still winces with every swallow, but the pain is mercifully fleeting.

 

With a sigh, Lena leans back, feeling better now that her esophagus no longer feels like sandpaper. Her memory is still foggy, discombobulated, incomplete. She feels an oncoming headache as she tries to recover those last desperate moments.

 

“How did you…?” Lena whispers, her eyebrows furrow trying to remember.

 

Alex hesitates, worrying her lip as she glances at Lena. She draws a deep breath, almost like she is preparing for the reaction, before dropping her head.

 

“Supergirl found you.”

 

“Supergirl…Kara?” Lena blinks, ignoring the mild surprise from Alex. Her mouth twists in confusion. “Kara was there? But she, wasn’t she with you…?”

 

Green eyes widen. The realization hits her like a punch to the gut.

 

“Oh no,” Lena breathes, her expression crumbling before turning to panic upon seeing Alex’s morose expression. “Please tell me she didn’t – oh God, the Kryptonite.”

 

Capable of debilitation a Kryptonian within seconds, inflicting fatal damage within minutes.

 

The memory of that taunting voice is as clear as crystal. The thought of Kara, her Kara, exposed to such a toxic substance turns her blood cold.

 

Is she here? Is she alive? Is she in lying stiff and cold in the basement morgue?

 

Lena twists her head around, searching desperately for Kara. Her shaking voice gets shriller with every breath. “Where is she? Is she alright? Please Alex, i-is she…”

 

Lena can’t bear to say it, not when she feels herself breaking apart. Emotion wells within and overflows, tears already falling as Lena struggles to breathe through heaving sobs.

 

Alex freezes, eyes wide at seeing the normally unflappable woman break down in front of her. She shakes off her wilted position, moving closer to grasp a cold hand as she hushes Lena.

 

“She’s alive, she’s ok,” Alex reassures, gently petting Lena’s shoulders trying to stop Lena from hyperventilating. “J’onn was able to catch her when she took you off the balcony. He flew you both straight to the DEO medical bay.”

 

She speaks soft and low, letting comfort coat her words like they must have trained her to in medical school for situations like this. Or perhaps that was just Alex, her natural motherly instincts kicking into play seeing Lena so vulnerable and small. Gentle hands wipe away the wetness from pale cheeks.

 

Another stuttering sob escapes Lena before she swallows and clenches furiously on her jaw. She sucks a handful of deep breaths hoping to calm down her racing heart. But no matter what she does, Lena sees flashes of Kara - writhing on the ground, hearing her screams of agony, seeing flesh blister and burn under a glowing green light. Lena forces another slow shuddering breath into her lungs, her chest still hiccupping every few seconds. Kara’s alive. Kara’s alive. Kara’s alive. Eyes close in relief as Lena exhales. She repeats those words like a prayer.

 

Alex is still rubbing her arms comfortingly when Lena reopens her eyes, the piercing green vulnerable and pleading.

 

“Where is she?” Lena whispers tensely. “Can I see her?”

 

Alex frowns. “She’s here. We had to keep her asleep to help her recovery but I’m sorry Lena, you can’t go see her just yet.”

 

Seeing Lena on the verge of a protest, the agent is resolute as she speaks sternly, though not unkindly. “You’ve still got a long way to go with recovery. We only just removed your breathing tube a few days ago. Your ribs aren’t healed, and the incision on your back is still at risk for wound dehiscence. It’s best that you take it easy.”

 

Lena huffs in protest. She didn’t expect anything different, but that still didn’t make it any less frustrating. She sits and stews obstinately, glaring at Alex, who remains unfazed. Realizing there was no use in fighting, Lena sighs. What little spirit she could muster in her state deflates out of her. She shifts uncomfortably on the bed, her lips stretching in a thin displeased line.

 

“At least tell me how she’s doing,” Lena asks coolly, her hardened exterior betrayed by wide green eyes still swirling with worry. She is sure Alex notices when the agent offers her a commiserative nod.

 

“We placed her in the sunroom. She’s not awake yet, but when she does we’ll be giving the same exact instructions – stay put. Get better.” Alex chuckles suddenly, eyes drifting as if lost in memory before returning to Lena. “She’ll probably take it as well as you did.”

 

A light smile quirks on Lena’s lips. She imagines Kara sitting, bathing in glowing sunlight looking like a battle-worn archangel, pouting and crossing her arms indignantly. When she looks back at Alex, Lena is surprised to find the agent fighting back emotion.

 

“I –” Alex falters. She struggles as a frown tugs at her lips, closing her eyes and sighing heavily before tilting her head towards Lena.

 

“I found the note.”

 

Lena freezes, suddenly unsure what to expect from the agent. A scold, a warning, a threat – Lena braces for them all. She’s shocked to see Alex near the verge of tears.

 

“I know why you didn’t tell us. Tell Kara.” Alex swallows, her expression grave and heavy. “I know what that decision meant for you.”

 

She doesn’t say anything about death, about sacrifice, but her somber expression tells Lena that she knows exactly the depth of her choice. Lena knows that Alex would have done the exact same thing. There is a mutual understanding between them when it came to Kara, and now with what almost happened to Lena, it is as if they’ve forged a sacred bond between them. Lena softens, unexpectedly moved by Alex’s words.

 

Alex takes Lena’s hand, giving a light squeeze as she cradles it with both hands.

 

“Thank you,” Alex whispers, her voice shaking with earnestness, “for protecting her.”

 

Lena smiles gently, squeezing back. “You would have done the same.”

 

Alex huffs out a small laugh, nodding and sniffling as a single tear falls down her cheek. “But not many more would. I’m so grateful that Kara has someone like you in her life.”

 

Lena warms, her chest set aglow with genuine happiness at receiving the approval her family had deprived her of and that she still desperately craved. But the feeling quickly fizzles, a frown settling deep into her lips.

 

“I shouldn’t be in Kara’s life. I’m the reason why she’s even here in the first place,” Lena admits defeatedly, her expression sinking as sad green eyes cast downward. “I can’t bear to be used against her like that again. If she dies because of me, I won’t be able to survive it.”

 

Alex shakes her head firmly, squeezing her hand. “But you chose to sacrifice yourself to save her. If Kara gets to choose who should be in her life, she could not choose a closer more devoted person than you.”

 

An amused chuff from Alex grabs Lena’s attention as the agent gently releases her hand.

 

“Besides, I don’t think that choice is entirely up to you anymore, Lena.”

 

Lena quirks an eyebrow in confusion, not entirely catching on to the meaningful look Alex directs at her. The agent braces her hands on her knees before rising out of the chair, the effort clearly more taxing than usual as Lena hears a few joints pop in protest. She starts to make her way towards the door, dimming the lights down for Lena to get some rest.

 

“If you need anything, just ask.” She pauses, then turns back around to face Lena. The lines in her face are soft and warm. “You’re my friend, Lena,” she adds softly, her small smile honest and without doubt, “And I always make time for my friends.”

 

Lena smiles. Entirely unexpecting this show of affection from the stoic woman, she is genuinely touched by Alex’s words. Lena never had many friends, both due to her nature and her legacy, and while she had made a few friendly acquaintances in National City, she is convinced that only Kara would want to occupy the position of ‘Lena’s friend.’ The pleasant surprise of Alex’s friendship – a government agent, and more importantly Kara’s sister – feels like a hard-won prize.

 

Warmth spreads and lingers long after Alex leaves, the door shutting gently with a quick click. With the lights dimmed low, Lena feels the exhaustion slipping back in, dragging her down into another long and groggy rest. Her thoughts linger on the dull pain in her body, the exchange with Alex, but most of all Kara. Kara – who is alive, who is recovering, who is somewhere in this building – and Lena falls asleep to the thrilling certainty that she will get the chance to see her again.

 

 

 ------

 

 

 

It’s been five days. Five excruciating, mind-numbing, soul-crushing days spent lying in a bed doing absolutely nothing. Lena has barely moved from her bed. She hardly has the muscle strength to get from the bed to her bathroom. If her muscles haven’t atrophied, then her brain certainly has. No phones or tablets were allowed for fear of security breaches, and the TV in Lena’s room is more torture than pleasure with the sheer number of reality shows broadcasting. She’d kill for an NYT crossword, or even a 25x25 sudoku just to tickle her mind. Lena really hopes Kara will still like her when she possesses an IQ of less than 140.

 

It doesn’t help that just yesterday evening, Lena heard staffers whispering outside her door of rumors that Kara had woken up. Her heart leaped, overjoyed that Kara had improved enough to wake up, ecstatic that she could now properly convince someone to let her visit Kara. Or maybe Kara would visit herself! Maybe Alex would be less stringent on an alien who could knit up wounds with just a few rays of sunlight.

 

Lena told herself to give it one day. One day to let things settle, readjust, and equilibrate. She didn’t think she could wait any longer without at least catching a glimpse of Kara, alive and breathing, awake and safe.

 

It is hour 22. Lena has been counting every minute. She glances down to inspect the bandages wrapped around her torso, to the wounds within her abdomen originally meant to ensure her mortality. Her skin still echoes of Death’s ghostly touch. She looks up to stare at the open glass door of her room. Lena clenches her teeth.

 

Fuck this.

 

She picks up the button near her bedside controlling the flow of her pain medication. Pressing the button, Lena waits for the flood of high-dose opioids to flood her system. A few minutes in, the ache all across her body starts to dim. Lena sighs with relief, quietly thanking Alex for putting it there by her bedside.

 

Lena looks down at the ECG leads placed along her chest, knowing that as soon as she detaches them the alarm above her bed will scream. With a groan, Lena reaches up, ignoring the way her stitches pull along her flank, and turns the monitor off. Ripping the stickers off, she feels the tug of her IV at her elbow. The IV pole stands just to the right of her bed. Lena thinks about detaching her IVs but reconsiders when she pulls herself to her feet and realizes how wobbly she is.

 

She grasps tightly onto the pole, leaning on it significantly as she rolls it by her side and shuffles to the entrance of her room. Despite her recent dose of pain medication, her body protests with every movement. Her ribs are screaming, fracture ends surely shifting with every huff and puff of Lena’s chest. Poking her head out, Lena glances furtively down the empty hall. Assuredly alone, she stumbles down the hall, completely unaware of where she is or where she should go, only knowing that Kara’s room must be the brightest given her sunlight therapy.

 

In the far corner from a room that looks a mile away, a flood of yellow light spills into the hallway. It has to be Kara, Lena thinks. Invigorated, she grits her teeth and starts the arduous journey towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

A headache pounds around Lena’s temples, causing her eyes to sting and blur her vision. She’s definitely lightheaded, feeling the cold sweat break out as the blood drains from her head. Lena gulps in a few deep breaths, pushing ever onward in her mission. She can feel how exhausted her body is, how every shuffling step seems to wind her. Alex wasn’t kidding. Lena must have several broken ribs for it to hurt this bad. They ache and creak with every pull of her lungs. Lena limps forward, her feet dragging across the tile floor as she leans heavily on her IV pole.

 

The flood of yellow light grows ever more luminous and ethereal as she slowly approaches the room. Lena feels her chest grow tighter and tighter, not just because of how exhausted she is from her walk. Kara is there, Kara is alive and recovering and Lena can’t stand another minute of not seeing it for herself.

 

Her hand grasps at the corner ledge of a large window, eyes squinting at the brightness spilling from it. From where she stands, she is only able to see a fraction of the room, the unoccupied fraction consisting of sink and cabinet in the corner, but she catches a glimpse of her own reflection and stops. The gaunt face staring back is deathly pale, a swollen nose and blackened eyes seem to hollow out her features almost ghoulishly. Bruises paint the right side of her temple where she must have smacked it against the ground during one of her hard falls. Her raven hair is disheveled, hopelessly tangled despite Alex combing it out just yesterday. A few strands stick to her forehead from the cold sweat that broke during her journey.

 

She looks terrible.

 

Distracted by her reflection, Lena is shaken from her stare by the slightest movement from the windowpane just out of her visual field. Suddenly reinvigorated in her determination to see Kara, Lena pulls herself closer, moving well within the view of the window to see the entire room. Her breath catches in her chest when eyes fall on her.

 

In the center of the room underneath four massive panels of UV lights, Kara rests bathed in an artificial halo. There are bandages wrapped all along her body – her torso, her upper left arm. Dark bruises all across her skin can’t hide under the bright lights that are trying to heal them away. Lena’s heart clenches at the sight, but the steady rise and fall of Kara’s chest makes Lena release a shuddering sigh of relief. Thank God, oh thank God. You’re alive.

 

Kara is awake, though from her lidded eyelids and the way her she limply raises her hands, she’s still far from healed. She’s upset, her eyebrows furrowing and a frown tugging on her lips as she argues with Alex. Lena can’t read her words, but she is too overjoyed at the sight of Kara awake and talking to care. Her breaths are coming in short and shallow. She can feel her legs shaking as her body begs her to rest. Her head feels too heavy on her neck, like it just might swivel off axis and loll limply off to the side. The world is starting the spin as a throbbing pain in her back slowly spreads across her entire torso. Lena ignores it.

 

She raises her hand to press it gently to the window, her entire body sagging in relief as she presses her sweaty forehead against the cool glass. At that moment, as if by instinct, Kara turn her head in Lena’s direction. They lock eyes. Lena shivers violently, unclear whether from the intense blue gaze or from her body slowly failing her. She manages a trembling smile that is lost as a heavy sigh of exhaustion escapes her lips.

 

Kara,” Lena whispers.

 

It’s all she can manage as her vision slowly turns black. Never breaking contact, blue eyes widen as green eyes fade in and out of focus. She sees Kara mouth something, maybe her name, but her mind falters. The world is slowly turning black again. The last thing she remembers is a faraway shout from a furious Alex and the sight of worried blue eyes before sinking to the unforgiving floor.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

This time when Lena wakes, it is to the sound of pacing footsteps.

 

Her throat is once again as dry as parchment paper. There is a throbbing near the back of her head that she doesn’t remember being there before. Still, Lena finds it easier to crawl back to consciousness than the last time she woke up like this. She can feel her body slouching on the slightly raised bed. There is a vague acknowledgment that she is slowly but surely slipping further down her cot. Her eyes refuse to cooperate. They finally flutter open only to clamp down to escape the brightness of the room. Cracked lips tug in a grimace. She catches a glimpse of something moving at the foot of her bed. The rhythm of the footsteps beats like a heart, steady but syncopated as if the bearer of the rhythm had the slightest of limps.

 

With a heavy groan, Lena shifts to push herself more towards the head of the bed, feeling the slight incline of the mattress more steadily behind her. The footsteps stop. With effort, Lena lifts her hand to rub her eyes, ignoring the tug of an IV in the crook of her elbow as she shields herself from the worst of the light. She blinks to clear away the fuzziness only to reveal a very anxious and irritated Kryptonian glaring at her.

 

Kara stands rigidly at the foot of the bed, her arms folded tightly around her chest stubbornly, unintendingly drawing Lena’s gaze to her defined muscles underneath a simple cardigan. Her blonde hair is and less luminous than usual, and her skin, while not as bruised as before, is paler and duller than the sun-kissed tan she normally has. There are patches of pink stretched across her neck and hands, the skin looking raw, new, and fragile as if freshly stitched together. When Lena looks up, she notices the glaring absence of thick-rimmed glasses perched upon the bridge of Kara’s nose. The clashing of Kara Danvers and Supergirl should unsettle Lena, but it doesn’t.

 

Kara is wearing a look slightly too frustrated to be endearing. Her eyebrows knit angrily together as blue eyes blaze with an intensity as terrifying as her heat vision. Her face is pulled tight and taunt with barely restrained energy, her jaw clenching as lips are pulled in a frown. Her whole figure buzzes with frustration, but Lena is glad of it all the same. Frankly, she is just glad that Kara is well enough to be standing, walking, and glaring at her at this very moment. Even when confronted face to face by an angry Kryptonian, Lena can’t find it in herself to feel anything but overjoyed.

 

“Hey,” Lena croaks, her voice hoarse from dehydration. She tries her best attempt at a smile. Kara’s frown grows. She ignores Lena’s greeting and approaches Lena with a frustrated stomp.

 

“Seriously?” Kara hisses, eyes indignant and blazing. “You tried to walk with broken ribs and nearly had to go to surgery again just because Alex wouldn’t let you visit me? Lena, what the hell were you thinking?”

 

“I wanted to see you,” Lena replies simply, almost flippantly, as if those words weren’t loaded with the heavy emotional implications unspoken between her and Kara. “I was worried about you.”

 

“So that justifies you just wandering about on high-dose pain meds with one kidney and a healing flank wound? Rao,” Kara fumes, a frustrated sigh forced from her as she runs a hand through her hair in annoyance.

 

A flare of anger rises in Lena. “Well, pardon me for getting concerned over my best friend who nearly died trying to rescue me.”

 

“Maybe I wouldn’t have been so desperate if you hadn’t lied to me and told me you were hurt!” Kara explodes, raising her voice as she takes another angry step towards Lena. Kara looks frenzied with her eyes blown wide with panic, her arms waving wildly with anger.

 

“You knew!” Kara cries, looking at Lena with a mixture of outrage, shock, and hurt. “You knew you were in danger, that you were dying, and you didn’t tell me!”

 

“That Kryptonite was going to kill you, Kara!” Lena retorts, upset and more than a little annoyed that the first conversation she is having with Kara is an argument. “Do you really think I would let that happen? Do you think I would let my brother take you from me?”

 

“I would have saved you!” Kara roars.

 

“But I  was saving you!”

 

A violent cough abruptly ends the rest of Lena’s angry response, her chest flaring with pain as the cough rips through her. Sore ribs ache with every slight jostle and rattled breath. She tries to reach across her bed with a shaky hand, fingers grasping at the water cup.

 

“Stop,” Kara murmurs, moving forward and gently pushing her back onto the bed. Her eyes are suddenly far softer and gentler than Lena can stand. “Let me do that.”

 

The sudden change in Kara stuns Lena. All at once, Kara is next to her, cup in hand and wearing an unreadable expression. The earlier tension and close proximity leave Lena feeling oddly powerless and more than a little guilty, so much so that when Kara offers her the cup Lena relents, obediently sits back and parts her lips. Her eyes never leave Kara as the blonde gently presses the cup to Lena’s lips. A hand coming up to support the edge of Lena’s jaw as she tilts the cup ever so slightly. Kara lingers on the curve of her jaw, the touch burning into Lena’s skin as she drains the cup.

 

When the cup is mostly empty, Kara brushes her hand upwards, moving her thumb to catch the stray water droplets hanging on the corner of Lena’s mouth. Blue eyes latch onto Lena’s lips, glazing over as if hypnotized by some unseen magic. The touch lingers, lasting seconds longer than it should but still not long enough when Kara eventually withdraws. Lena is frozen still, breathless and overwhelmed, skin still white hot where Kara just caressed. She watches as Kara gently puts down the cup and sits in the chair at her bedside, her hands now awkwardly fidgeting in her lap and at the mercy of a piercing green stare.

 

It takes a moment for Lena to find her tongue again. “Thank you,” she manages, watching Kara cast her eyes down and nod stiffly. They both fall silent. The tension of their previous conversation seems to have evaporated into the sterile air, replaced with a new

kind of tension, one that neither woman was quite sure how to navigate.

 

Anger was easy, familiar even. Fear was all-consuming and instinctive. This? This strange, thrumming, enticing energy vibrating between them, dangling them precariously off the edge into the unknown? This was entirely new territory. After all, how do you face someone you nearly died trying to save? Where do you even begin to traverse a relationship so intense, so fraught with a devotion that it nearly tore you apart? How do you face someone you love unconditionally, someone you would murder the world for?

 

There is so much Lena wants to say. So much that she regretted not saying back when she was sure she was about to die. Yet she finds herself paralyzed at the moment. Her thoughts are so scattered that she can’t find where her words begin or end.  Frustrated, Lena shoves them away, hoping they will sort themselves out as she unsticks her tongue from the roof of her mouth. She shakes her head trying to clear her mind.

 

“What happened?” Lena clears her throat when her voice cracks unintentionally. She blinks away her nerves before she looks up and finds Kara’s vulnerable gaze.

 

“How did you get out? That Kryptonite…” Lena grows cold remembering the sickening green hue, “it should have knocked you out the second you got inside.”

 

Kara’s mouth twists into a pained grimace. “It did,” she whispers, sucking in a deep breath. “Honestly, I don’t know how I did it.”

 

There is a haunted look in Kara’s eyes, the startling blue turning dull and hollow as she remembers the sheer agony she endured. A rush of guilt pours into Lena knowing she undoubtedly played a role in putting it there. Lena can almost see it – Kara writhing in agony, glowing green veins bulging across her head and neck, and her scream…oh God, Kara’s screaming –

 

Lena digs her fingernails painfully into the meat of her palms, her teeth biting hard into her bottom lip to escape the horrid images racing across her mind. A breath catches in her chest, guilt expanding and pressing hard against her ribcage that threatens to crack open.

 

“You shouldn’t risk your life like that,” Lena murmurs, her steady voice betrayed by the frustrated tears welling in her eyes. She stares at the rigid hands in her lap, too ashamed to maintain eye contact with Kara.

 

“I risk my life all the time,” Kara reminds pointedly, the rebuttal as simple as it was sure. Lena looks up just in time to see the veracity of those words across Kara’s face. “I chose this life, risks and all. I chose to be what the city needs, just as I chose to fly into L-Corp that day.”

 

The steel in blue eyes twists into something painful. “But this time,” there is an edge of something dangerous in Kara’s words underneath her rueful tone, “this went beyond just duty. This was personal.”

 

A hard swallow causes Kara’s throat to bob, shifting the tense muscles in her neck. She leans forward, putting her weight on arms that now rested on top of her knees, hands clasped together in front of her. A heavy weight accompanies the shift in posture and settles on Kara’s shoulders. They hunch forward, the uncomfortable angle emphasized by the way Kara hangs her head. Blond tendrils fall haphazardly in front of her face. She stares in the direction of her hands, her eyes distant and unfocused.

 

“Lena, when I saw you…” Kara drifts as if lost in the terrible memory. “When I…Rao you were so still. You were so still, and your heart was so quiet, and there was so much blood.”

 

Kara squeezes her eyes shut, her face contorting tortuously as she shook her head once, twice, like she was trying to shake out the horrible image. The motion strikes like a knife in Lena’s heart twisting painfully in her chest.

 

“I’ve never felt terror like that before,” Kara whispers. “I can’t even begin to describe it to you. The fear – it felt almost primal. Too primal to be described with words, even. It was like I was in the grip of some animalistic instinct that knew only one thing: I had to save you. No matter the cost.”

 

With a shaky breath, Kara reopens her eyes, finally falling in line to look at Lena’s, which were wide and unblinking in stunned silence. Still, as the seconds pass, Lena watches as Kara’s pain recedes and is replaced with a strange calmness. Kara gazes at her seemingly with no other intention other than to appreciate the sight, to be thankful that she is still able to enjoy it after everything that happened.

 

“There was never a choice, Lena. Not with you. I had to keep going. I had to push through the pain.” A small resigned smile slips onto Kara’s lips, she adds in a quieter more reverent voice, “because it’s you, Lena. I’d do anything for you.”

 

Kara says it like it is the simplest thing in the world, yet it nearly shatters Lena. Her heart thunders away, the rush of blood in her ears so turbulent it nearly drowns the echoes of Kara’s words.

 

Lena is not unfamiliar with the intensity of Kara’s devotion. That same unconditional attachment has been the beating rhythm of her own heart for over a year. But it still doesn’t prepare her to be on the receiving end. It seems implausible to Lena that anyone deserved such devotion from Supergirl, least of all herself. The chronic repentance she shoulders on behalf of her family name sparks a knee-jerk reaction to reject it, but thankfully it is lost in the euphoria of the moment. The thought, the dream that Kara feels even a fraction of what Lena feels for her is becoming more and more tangible by the second, and while she adamantly refuses to delude herself with wishful fulfillment, her heart nevertheless soars and leaps with a joy she has never felt before.

 

A smile breaks across Lena’s face, unrestraint and brilliant even as lips wobble and her nose threatens a sniffle out of her. Her heart is bursting at the seams struggling to contain the joy, guilt, love, pain, and disbelief collected in the past minutes. She stares at Kara, taking in the strong curve of her jaw, the lovely curls of blond hair framing her lovely face, the strength that emanates from her body despite being hidden under layers of cashmere and cardigans. There is just something about the way Kara is, the way she vibrates with strength and yet humbles herself with soft expressions and a gentle spirit, that makes Lena feel safe in a way her life has never allowed her to feel before.

 

“Thank you,” Lena manages to say, her soft words not enough but nevertheless filled with the effusive affection glowing inside her. She doesn’t hide the reverence in her voice.

 

She is surprised when the softness in Kara transforms into something pained and anguished.

 

“Please don’t thank me, Lena,” Kara’s whisper trembles, her words so guilt-soaked it makes Lena ache. “The only reason you’re here is because of me. And I still wasn’t enough. I managed to get us off the balcony, but we still would’ve hit the ground. If it wasn’t for J’onn –”

 

“Kara,” Lena interrupts, eyes unwavering with intensity as she reaches forward and grasps onto Kara’s hand. Her fingers curl firmly and squeeze. “Thank you.”

 

Blue eyes swim with conflict as if Kara is struggling with being let off so easy, but the reassuring grip of Lena’s hand melts away her resistance. A heavy sigh deflates from her chest. Kara purses her lips, still uncomfortable and stewing in guilt, but nonetheless she returns Lena’s grip with a squeeze of her own. She lets Lena’s warmth spread like a soothing balm up her arm, across her chest, and move across every inch of her until she feels it tingling in her toes. Kara has yet to find anything else in this world, save maybe the sun, that brings her as much serenity as being with Lena.

 

Lena tugs on her hand, a gentle request that is answered when Kara gets up from her chair and moves to sit on the side of Lena’s bed, situating herself next to Lena’s knees and facing towards her, never once separating their hands. Kara brings her other hand to settle over their shared grip, encasing Lena’s paler colder one between her palms. Kara is transfixed, her mind seems too occupied on her thumb caressing the softest skin of Lena’s inner wrist to notice the tender expression from Lena.

 

When she finally satisfies her momentary obsession with Lena’s wrist, Kara looks up, slowly returning the small smile settled contently between porcelain cheeks.

 

“So…how did you know? About the…” Kara asks tentatively, momentarily releasing Lena’s hand to gesture vaguely towards her eyes looking adorably bashful. Her fingers awkwardly mime a frame before they drop back down and recapture Lena’s hand between them.

 

Amusement tugs on pale lips. Lena can’t resist quirking her eyebrows coyly. “I’ve known since the gala.”

 

Kara’s eyes widen, her mouth gaping in surprise and confusion. “But…why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“It wasn’t mine to tell,” Lena replies simply, though she frowns at the unpleasant memories of tolerating Kara’s lies. Her gaze dropping to the intertwined hands in her lap. “Everyone has their own secrets. And I’m certainly not an exception. I trusted you to tell me yours on your own terms, even if it hurt to be lied to.”

 

Guilt floods Kara’s expression, her grip tightening and shoulders sagging as she leans towards Lena in supplication.

 

Rao, Lena I’m so sorry. You have to know, it wasn’t because I didn’t trust you. I’ve always trusted you, believed in you. There was just…it would have been dangerous for you to know. And selfishly I wanted to keep you for myself.”

 

Kara nervously brings a hand to rub along her temple. “I didn’t want to have to share you with the rest of the world – especially that chaotic, messy, dangerous world of mine. It was never because you meant less to me than Alex, or Winn, or James. If anything, it’s because you mean more to me, so much that I – Oh Rao Lena please don’t hate me –”

 

 “Darling, I know. I understand,” Lena interjects, interrupting Kara’s rambling and reaching out to rub soothing strokes up and down her arm with her free hand. “Believe me, collateral damage is not foreign to me, especially with my last name.”

 

Lena glances at the bandages still adorning her torso and chuckles darkly. “Besides, it seems like your cautions were unfounded. You never told me your secret, yet here I am, a patchwork job with a single kidney.”

 

Lena really does mean for it to come off as a joke, but her poor attempt at levity only makes Kara’s expression drop, her face twisting into a look of utter devastation. Lena curses silently, immediately regretting her words.

 

“I’m sorry, Kara, that wasn’t funny,” she adds hurriedly, mildly panicked as her stomach heaves with regret. “You know I would never blame you for something like this, right?”

 

Lena pleads, hoping to undo the effect of her words, but the Kryptonian looks inconsolable. The crushing ache in her heart deepens when blue eyes shimmer on the verge of tears.

 

Kara sniffles, shaking her head emphatically. “B-but it was my f-”

 

“Kara.”

 

Impulsively, desperately, Lena surges forward, ignoring her protesting ribs, to boldly slide her hand up and cradle Kara’s face. Her fingers skim the baby hairs along the nape of a slender neck. Her palm cups a strong jaw, nudging it upwards and urging Kara to connect with Lena’s emblazed gaze. She pulls Kara towards her until their faces are only inches apart. The sudden move jolts Kara out of her mental spiral, her body going rigid under Lena’s touch, her breath caught in surprise. Blue eyes dart to pale pink lips that part and speak in a soft gentle melody.

 

“Never, ok?”

 

After a long second, Kara nods and remains silent and still, as if all other functions were malfunctioning out of pure shock. Lena herself is surprised by her impulsive move. Kara is so close she can smell the sun on her skin. Lena takes a moment to relish the handsome jaw resting gently upon her open palm, the sudden proximity of those incredible eyes, the silky hair that tangles luxuriously between her fingers. She is awestruck by the novel sensation. Despite being far too overwhelmed to think beyond simple sentences, Lena takes comfort that Kara seems equally affected. She watches as the guilt in Kara’s expression slowly transform into something new and unreadable, her eyes growing impossibly wide and bright with sudden wonder. 

 

While Kara and Lena were never short on showing their affection for each other, neither woman had ever been so bold as to show it in such a conspicuous and unambiguous gesture. Worries of rejection, awkwardness, and abandonment had threaded together with an invisible line, one that had begun to weave together ever since Lena stopped dead in her tracks at the first sight of Kara. But in a single moment, Lena crosses, bulldozes and eradicates that divide in one swift motion.

 

Oh, and how liberating it feels. There is nothing but lightness floating within Lena. The heavy chains of restraint that wrapped around her for years and tightened when she met Kara finally loosen and clatter to the floor. For the first time in a long time, Lena feels like she can breathe easy. With the warmth of her palm on Kara’s cheek, the wisps of breath that tickle her wrist, and the calmness that settles over them like a weighted blanket, Lena indulges and just lets herself feel, to enjoy the moment, to sink into the luring warmth of affection without fear, without guilt.

 

There is no hesitation when Kara leans into the hand cupping against her jaw, almost nuzzling into it with a tenderness Lena has never known. Emboldened, Lena pulls Kara closer until her cool forehead rests against the fiery warmth of Kara’s. She feels a hand sneak onto her hip and grip gently. Lena sighs happily, finding that hand with hers before slowly sliding up to grip at the crook of Kara’s elbow, anchoring herself solidly to Kara.

 

They stay like this frozen in time, relishing the comfort that only they can give each other, refamiliarizing themselves without the boundaries of the past, with the boundless potential of the future. Lena feels the featherlike caress of Kara’s breath on her lips. She could almost hear it over the pounding heartbeat in her ears. She opens her eyes only to have her breath stolen at how incredibly beautiful Kara is. They are barely an inch apart. Lena’s gaze flickers to pink lips, parted and so welcoming and so close that it would only take the gentle tilt of her neck for Lena to press her lips against them.

 

 God, it would be so easy… so easy

 

In true Luthor fashion, her body decides to take its vengeance, interrupting her desires with a sudden searing pain across her right chest. Lena stiffens, going rigid underneath Kara’s hands as her own clamp down tightly onto invulnerable skin. Her fingernails dig deep into the flesh of Kara’s neck as she bites back a whimper. Kara’s eyes fly open just in time to see Lena suck in a pained gasp and tumble into a coughing fit. She is up in an instance, easing Lena onto the bed with a hand supporting her neck as she reaches for the plastic cup at the bedside table. Lena feels like she’s hacking up a lung, her ribs painfully creaking with every rebound of her chest. It takes a handful of deep breaths to calm her spasms. The following rush of cool liquid down her throat desperately relieves the nagging itch behind her tongue. She sighs, exhausted, only mustering her energy to reopen her eyes and seek out Kara.

 

She finds the blonde hovering above her, whispering soothing words as warm fingers brush errant strands of hair. But she sees the conflict in Kara’s expression, something Lena has seen brewing ever since she opened her eyes. A wave of disappointment washes over her. It hurts knowing that the magic only moments ago has vanished completely, leaving only reality to crash down on them without mercy.

 

When Kara pulls back, Lena’s fingers itch with a desperate urge to tug her back, to have her pressed against her and lose herself in the comforting weight. Instead, Lena watches as Kara rises onto her feet, blue eyes still lost in turmoiled and heavy thoughts. Arms come up to cross over her chest, more as a defense mechanism rather than out of frustration. Lena can sense Kara growing distant, and a horrible gnawing feeling in her stomach tells her that she is the cause of it.

 

“Kara…”

 

Her voice is soft and unsure, a quiet plea for Kara to speak her mind. Blue eyes focus and flicker back to Lena. There is so much sorrow in them it twists Lena’s gut like a coiled snake. Kara reaches into her pocket and pulls out a crumpled ball of paper. There is a nearly imperceptible shake in her hands as she unfolds it, and it’s only when Lena sees the faint brown-red stains that it clicks. Dread sinks like an anvil to the pit of her stomach.

 

“Oh.”

 

Lena answers in a small voice, fingers wringing nervously in her lap, her thoughts hyperaware that the situation is now infinitely messier. She remembers all too well of what she confessed in those last blood-loss hazy seconds. And now that Kara definitely knows, Lena can’t help flushing with embarrassment. Kara has known this whole time, known that Lena was utterly and hopelessly in love with her, and yet she hasn’t uttered a single word about it. A wave of worry wells up in Lena. Guilt sits on her chest with devastating weight, and Lena feels a sudden urge to flee and hide from the heartache she fully expects this to end in.

 

Lena wrote her confession thinking it was the last thing she would ever do on this earth. She really hadn’t planned on facing the aftermath.

 

“Don’t be mad at Alex,” Kara murmurs, eyes never leaving the crinkled paper in her hands, “I basically threatened her to hand it over when I found out.”

 

Lena stares at Kara’s fingers resting over her dried blood. Her gut churns at how wrong it looks.

 

“I’m not mad,” Lena replies quietly. She looks defeatedly at Kara. “You were always meant to see it, it’s just…” it’s just that I never thought I’d be alive to see how much it hurt you.

 

And it does. Lena can see the way Kara trembles, the way her written words seem to shake the Kryptonian’s near-invincible body and threaten to crush her. Kara doesn’t deserve this. She deserves the world even though it keeps trying to break her. Even if Lena is breaking her. The thoughts eat at Lena as she waits in silence.

 

With a heaving sigh, Kara drops her arms, the crumpled note hanging limply in her hand. Kara looks up but refuses to meet Lena’s eyes, instead directing her gaze up to the bright fluorescence lights in the ceiling. Lena watches Kara bite her lip and blink back her tears. She feels her own stinging in the corner of her eyes. Long painful seconds pass with only the sound of shuddering breaths and pounding hearts filling the silence.

 

“That was unfair, the decision you made,” Kara begins, not even trying to hide the pain in her voice.

 

“You could’ve told me. You could have let me know,” she says stiffly, her voice growing harder with each consecutive sentence. “At least you could have told me that those few words we spoke might have been the last I ever spoke to you. You could have given me a chance, Lena. But you didn’t.”

 

The accusation lands hard on Lena, stinging as much as it does not only because of the blunt harshness of Kara’s words but because it is true. Each word landed like a punch in the gut, the horrible feeling made only worse knowing that she alone was responsible.

 

Why,” Kara asks tremulously, the hurt and utter betrayal in blue eyes hurting Lena more than any knife in the back would. “Why did you do it?”

 

Lena looks forlornly at Kara.

 

“You know why.”

 

Kara stares at her, a wave of clashing emotions battling across her face. Lena can see how overwhelmed she is, how she struggles to keep her face from twisting tortuously with guilt and failing at it. She feels the same turmoil burning under her skin. The blonde’s hand clenches around the note, the crinkling protest sounding out as Kara holds back a desperate sob.

 

“But you let me go without even saying goodbye,” she croaks, the hurt emanating from every facet of Kara making Lena’s heart squeeze painfully. “You sacrificed yourself – let yourself suffer and nearly bleed to death – just to protect me.”

 

Kara pauses almost as if it was too difficult to continue. Caught between anger and defeat, Kara looks up at Lena before she forces the words from behind clenched teeth. “And you made it so I would only know after the fact.”

 

The anguish and disappointment in blue eyes break Lena. Feeling the tears spill freely down her cheeks, Lena resents herself for hurting Kara like this, resents that she has reduced this bright, beautiful, uplifting person into something as broken as she is. But most of all, she hates knowing that she would do it all over again if it meant that Kara could stand here today, alive and breathing.

 

“Kara, I —” Lena falters, a silent sob squeezing her chest so much she can’t breathe. “I am so,so sorry. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you.” It feels almost hypocritical to say, but it is the truth. Green eyes stare imploringly at the blonde, who is still frozen in emotional turmoil at the foot of the bed.

 

“Kara, you – you are so important to me,” Lena breathes, feeling her heart beat with painful affection, every inch in her body aching in sentiment. “Every day, I sat in my office trying not to think of you out there, putting yourself in danger, setting yourself up as the punching bag for the latest psychopaths to test their ego on.”

 

She remembers the stark image of Superman cradling a limp Kara in his arms and grimaces. “I hated it,” Lena admits, her jaw clenching at the memory. “But it was your choice. Every time you hurried off to some godforsaken crisis, I wanted to grab onto you, hold you so tight, and beg you to stay. But I didn’t. Because it was your choice.”

 

Lena sees Kara twitch at the statement, her eyebrows still furrowed as she hastily wipes a tear from her cheek and looks away from Lena.

 

“This was my choice, Kara,” Lena says softly, her voice resolute despite the pain in it. “I knew what it meant when I made it. If there is any chance I can keep you alive, that I can guarantee your safety – I’m taking it.”

 

Kara looks miserably at Lena, not in judgment but in torment and desperation.

 

“Lena…” she whimpers.

 

“I know you, Kara,” Lena whispers, gently as if to soften the blow, “And you know me. I know you would have done the same.”

 

Kara sucks in a deep breath as if the truth in Lena’s words physically stabbed her in the gut. She visibly bristles. Lena watches as she reaches with her fingers to pinch the bridge of her nose, her eyes scrunching up in frustration. She shifts uncomfortably as if her feet were itching to pace the length of Lena’s room but can’t bear the thought of walking away from her.

 

“But I didn’t know,” Kara chokes in a strangled voice after several long seconds.

 

Eyes emblazed with a renewed passion, she takes a few steps closer to Lena.

 

“You were dying, Lena!” Kara cries, throwing her arms out dramatically at Lena. “You were dying as we talked, and I didn’t know. I didn’t know that the woman I – the woman who has always been there for me, one of the most important people in my life, was dying.”

 

Distraught and overwhelmed, Kara presses a trembling hand against her temple before running her fingers haphazardly through disheveled curls. “How could I have lived with myself knowing that those last words would always be tainted?”

 

I’ll let you go, ‘kay?

 

Lena hears her own voice echo in her mind, remembers how those words had stung her as she uttered them to the woman she loves. With a shuddering exhale, Lena shuts her eyes and feels her cheeks get damper. It hurt too much to look at Kara and see how rightfully upset she is.

 

“And the note –” Kara chokes on her last words, the despair so thick in her voice that Lena nearly whimpers. Kara continues in a halted whisper. “How could I read that knowing that I would never get a chance to know what it would be like?”

 

At that, Lena does let out a pained sob. She doesn’t have the answers for Kara, at least not the right ones. When Lena finally has the courage to look at Kara, vulnerable green eyes are wide and pleading.

 

“Is it so unreasonable? For someone who loves you to die protecting you?”

 

Lena’s confession comes out as a barely audible whisper. But Kara doesn’t even seem to process how that one special word sends her heart into overdrive. She is too worked up and distressed and worried about the woman in front of her who seems entirely unconcerned over her wellbeing. Kara won’t have it.

 

“Not if it’s you, Lena! Not if it’s my best friend who does so much for this world and still doesn’t know just how good she is. Not if it’s the one person in my life who has ever made me feel like I could be myself and be enough.”

 

Kara stalks haltingly up to Lena’s bedside, her powerful form vibrating with an alien energy so fiery Lena is afraid Kara might burst into flames. Blue eyes are ablaze with a passion that Lena can’t decipher, and yet it sends her heart racing. Kara stares at her, unmoving, ardently, reverently. Her next fervent words are the most vulnerable Lena has ever heard.

 

“Not if it’s the one person in this universe that I’ve chosen to be with for the rest of my life.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“Not if it’s the one person in this universe that I’ve chosen to be with for the rest of my life.”

 

 

 

 

Lena freezes, her body stilling into stone as if Kara’s confession is an incantation that renders her incapable of functioning. Her heart stutters to a stop like a faulty engine only for it to jumpstart once again at twice the speed. Every muscle in her body tenses. Every thought screeches to a halt as she sits there in stunned silence. She stares at Kara – tall, strong, wonderful Kara – her shocked green eyes growing wide in confusion.

 

Kara comes to kneel beside Lena, approaching her gently and carefully like one would approach a frightened animal. Her hands lift to encase Lena’s, running her thumb across smooth alabaster skin. Lena briefly wonders if Kara can feel her hand tremble as she cradles it between her palms. Kara gazes at Lena, beautiful and radiant even as she stares back utterly flabbergasted at Kara.

 

“I never meant for you to find out this way,” Kara admits, her resignation softened by the endearing embarrassment settling in blushing cheeks. “I was going to ask you out, go on some proper dates, get you flowers an obscene number of times, the whole nine yards. I wanted to woo you.”

 

Kara chuckles bashfully, her hands squeezing affectionately. Lena’s eyes only widen at her words, her expression suspended in sustained disbelief.

 

“And then I was going to tell you who I was, who I am. I was going to tell you about Krypton, everything I can remember and more. And I was going to tell you about the Codex.”

 

Lena watches a visibly nervous Kara take a deep calming breath.

 

“On Krypton, we had a program called the Codex. It contained the genetic template for every Kryptonian, and we were all designed and born from it. The Codex tested our compatibility in society, in various roles and occupations, and even as mates.”

 

Before Lena can even begin to process that particular word, Kara marches onward.

 

“When I first came to Earth, I didn’t understand dating. It just wasn’t a concept that existed back on Krypton. Eventually, I began to appreciate the romantic charm in old-fashioned dating. Heck, I even tried it a few times.”

 

Kara quirks her eyebrows in amusement as if the idea seems impossible to her now. “But deep down, I always knew it would never work.”

 

The air in the room must have evaporated because Lena finds it increasingly difficult to get enough oxygen into her lungs and feed her racing heart.

 

“You see, on Krypton we were matched by the Codex. It definitively assigned our true mates based on years of calibrations and optimization. But the algorithm we lived and breathed by was generally thought to be too cold and depersonalized for such an occasion, even by Kryptonian standards.”

 

Kara swallows, steeling herself with a deep breath.

 

“So, we created a ritual. We personalized our matches. We would give each other a gift as a symbol of our everlasting bond. We all had our own perfect match, body and soul, in every way a person was meant for another person. Someone who would be there by your side no matter what, and someone who you would do everything to protect.”

 

Slim fingers slide down to caress the soft skin of Lena’s wrist. Lena shivers, feeling every soft touch in her bones. Instinctively, she flips her hand, letting Kara encircle her wrist while she curls her own fingers around Kara. This time, it is Kara’s turn to let out a trembling sigh.

 

Kara gets up, never letting go of Lena’s hand, and sits back down on the side of Lena’s bed. Her unoccupied hand gently surrounds their entwined hands, her touch feather-light on her skin as if it is as fragile as parchment. Entranced blue eyes never leave the steady grip they have on each other. Lena can’t bring herself to look away from Kara, to turn away from gazing and memorizing every soft feature of her face, her neck, her lips.

 

“When I found you that day, I was coming over to give you something,” Kara whispers, unwilling to break the strange spell hovering over them. She takes one hand away to reach into her back pocket, revealing a maroon velvet box that leaves little to the imagination.

 

Lena stills. For a brief second, the preposterous thought that Kara is about to propose of all things crosses her mind. It is a ridiculous thought. Lena knows this despite Kara’s earlier confession of her undying love (she has definitely not processed that yet). Yet as dumbfounding as that thought is, Lena is even more perplexed by the deep yearning that sparks in the pit of her stomach at the sight of the velvet box.

 

“Alex found it in your office. Honestly, I don’t even remember how I lost it,” Kara murmurs lowly, eyes turn dark in a moment of haziness as the memory passes through her. When the fog clears, the brightness is back blue eyes when she looks up at Lena with a soft smile. “But I’m glad she found it. She knows how important this is to me.”

 

Kara swallows nervously, gazing at Lena in earnest. “This — this is for you. From the moment we met, I knew. This was always going to be for you.”

 

Prying her hand gently out of Lena’s grasp, Kara takes the box in her palm before lifting the lid, the velvet case creaking before it snaps open and reveals its treasure.

 

The bracelet is a simple gold ring of smooth metal, luminescent and impossibly bright under the glaring lights. While simple and pure in design, it is perhaps one of the most visually stunning objects Lena has ever seen. Lena is enraptured, her hand already reaching up to touch it before she catches herself. She hesitates, searching for Kara’s eyes only to find them shining with something akin to wonder. Kara gives a nearly imperceptible nod, her breath catching when Lena reaches forward and gently lifts the bracelet from the box.

 

The metal is cool and impossibly smooth. The band stretches about a centimeter wide, a few millimeters thick, earning itself a comfortable weight that matches the weight of its significance without sinking her wrist to the floor. Lena runs her fingers back and forth along flawlessly smooth metal, falling into a trance-like movement as she marvels the exquisite feeling. Lena’s studious examination is interrupted by fingers that brush inquiringly on the back of her hand. Lena glances up and is met by a tender look from Kara.

 

“May I?” Kara asks, her voice shy, vulnerable, and filled with yearning. Lena swallows.

 

“Yes,” she whispers.

 

A smile flickers on Kara’s lips. With graceful precision, she delicately plucks the bracelet out of Lena’s grasp, unclasping it through some hidden mechanism Lena can’t quite catch, then proceeds to encircle the golden band around her right wrist and close the bracelet with a crisp click. Lena hears Kara release a trembling sigh, her hands dropping silently.

 

Something sings within Lena feeling the weight of the bracelet, Kara’s bracelet, encircling her wrist. She brings it closer wanting to catch every detail. The surface appears entirely unblemished upon first glance. But as it shifts under the light, Lena can see the ephemeral presence of glyphs spanning the entire length of the bracelet. To the unknowing eye, it looks vaguely like line art a Brooklyn hipster would tattoo across the length of his bicep. But Lena knows better, knows that what she is staring at is the last remnants of a dead language from a near-dead civilization on a planet that no longer exists. An ache settles deep in her chest. She knows how much these simple glyphs mean to Kara, to the last surviving Kryptonian who still remembers living under the brilliance of a red sky. Lena traces the subtle carvings reverently with her fingers, affection swelling within her as she feels the shallow grooves Kara must have painstakingly carved.

 

“What does it say?” She asks quietly. Kara joins her to trace over the stylish etches.

 

May the light of Rao guide you home.” Kara trails up Lena’s hand to cradle it tenderly. “You know I never felt like I had a home here, not really. When Krypton died, I carried that loss with me across the galaxy. All my life, I thought that such a monumental, unquantifiable loss could never be mended, that I could never truly be whole again.”

 

Lena catches a deep familiar sadness echoing in Kara’s gaze. “And I’m still not whole. I might never be,” Kara admits. Then, her mournful eyes turn into something luminous.

 

“But you, Lena Kieran Luthor,” Kara punctuates each name in a loving proclamation, eyes shining with that unearthly glow. “When I’m with you, it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being whole again. Wherever you are, is my home. You are my true home.”

 

Fingers tuck away an errant strand of raven hair before they caress the edge of her ear and settle at the nape of her neck. Lena’s breath hitches as Kara looks at her with such pained adoration like Lena is the answer to a childhood prayer. Wide vulnerable eyes seem just on the edge of terrified, but Kara never loosens her grip on Lena’s hand. Lena can feel Kara trembling around her as if her physical body can hardly contain the overwhelming torrent of emotions. Lena’s heart pounds and pounds and pounds.

 

“I love you, Lena,” Kara whispers fervently, her voice thick and tremulous with emotion. Fingers trace across pale cheeks with such heartbreaking tenderness it brings Lena to the verge of tears. “I love you so much it hurts.”

 

And just like that, Lena feels herself split wide open. Her body ignites with a surge of unbearable warmth so molten it turns her insides into liquid gold. The euphoria at hearing those words, those impossible words from the woman she loves, is so visceral and raw it makes her entire body ache. Can someone die from pure joy? Lena isn’t even sure she is capable of handling this much unbridled happiness all at once. Scratch that, she knows she can’t handle it. She knows because in an effort to process this surreal reality, she hasn’t moved at all, her face still frozen in a mask of shock and bewilderment.

 

Lena knows how ridiculous she must look at the moment, with her mouth gaping like a fish out of water and all words getting lost between her cerebrum to her vocal cords. Somewhere in the cortex of her mind, Lena off-handedly acknowledges that this is a terribly inconvenient time to be having a full-blown stroke. She struggles, feeling every possible love declaration and exaltation tries to leave her all at once.

 

“Kara, I…I-I…”

 

Lena stutters like a skipping record. Maybe Kara broke her. Overwhelmed and perhaps more than a little sleep-deprived, Lena can’t manage to unstick her tongue from the roof of her mouth. It feels like her heart has swelled to a size ten times over, her lungs compressing so tightly that she can hardly breathe. She feels the slither of a tear drop down her cheek. And while her lack of response is completely understandable to her, Lena sees the exact moment Kara misinterprets her silence. She watches helplessly as Kara jerks away from her, panic and fear flooding mortified blue eyes.

 

“O-Oh Rao, Lena I’m – Rao I’m so sorry. I thought –” Kara frantically wrings her hands in sheer panic, horrified eyes looking anywhere but at Lena. “It’s totally ok if you don’t want this! I just thought – I mean I know you wrote that note and – w-well it said you loved me, and I just thought…b-but if this is way more than you bargained for I completely understa –"

 

A hand shoots out and clasps tightly onto the blonde’s forearm, stopping Kara in her rambling when she sees the crazed, desperate look on Lena’s face.

 

“Kara come here,” Lena urges breathlessly, eyes wide and begging. The viridian green blazes with such a fierce and desperate passion that Kara almost gives in. But she hesitates. Lena only grips her tighter. “Please, Kara.”

 

The panic seems to recess in Kara, the tension in her body draining like someone pulled the plug. Lena watching as the Kryptonian slowly crumbles into her vulnerability. She folds into Lena, leans in to bury her head in the crook of Lena’s neck and whimpers. Ignoring her protesting ribs, Lena immediately wraps her arms around Kara, just as desperate to have Kara close and feel the comforting warmth of her body. Kara smells like sunshine and antiseptic. Lena’s chest squeezes painfully at the familiar feel of blond hair tickling her nose. Broad shoulders shake silently as tears collect to stain the collar of her hospital gown. Lena reaches her hand and strokes Kara’s hair soothingly, tilting her head to press tenderly against a crown of golden curls.

 

“Don’t ever leave me,” Kara begs quietly against the hollow of her neck, a hand gripping desperately at Lena’s shoulders. The raw anguish in Kara’s voice shatters Lena into a million pieces. Lena swallows back her own quiet sob.

 

“I won’t.”

 

Lena says it so ardently and so surely despite the foolishness of a useless promise in an unpredictable world. And yet in this very moment, Lena believes so fiercely in her words that, just for a moment, her skepticism disappears. For a moment, there is nothing, not even death, that could keep her apart from the woman in her arms.

 

Lena holds Kara, keeping her safe as Kara exhausts herself with broken sobs. Soft hushes and soothing strokes can’t stop the tears from slipping from her own eyes either. She holds Kara for long minutes, comforting the distraught alien and still reeling from all the earth-shattering information she just received.

 

It was…a lot. One part of her is obsessing over the details of Kara’s story, of the Codex and rituals and the hefty weight of the bracelet now encircling her wrist. But the rest of Lena can only focus on the fact that Kara loves her. Her best friend, the woman she loves, loves her back. It is like the tectonic plates underneath Lena’s feet have shifted, and she is still struggling to find which way is up or down.

 

Kara must sense her distraction when she lifts her head out from her hiding spot and to gaze inquiringly at Lena. Her eyes are puffy and raw, and yet she has never been more beautiful to Lena.

 

“Are you okay?” Kara asks tentatively, clearly worrying that she had overstepped in her confession. Subtlety was never Kara’s strong suit. And if Lena is going to be honest with herself, she is overwhelmed. But then again, she did just sacrifice herself for a girl in the name of presumed unrequited love, so who was she to judge?

 

Lena looks down at Kara, meeting her anxious gaze for a few long seconds before giving a soft reassuring smile. Lena brushes Kara’s cheek lovingly, following a trail she has traced over a thousand times with her eyes.

 

“Yeah,” Lena finally answers, a bit surprised at how true her answer is. “Yeah, I am.”

 

Kara breathes a sigh of relief, a small smile pulling on her lips before she collapses back into the safety of Lena’s neck. An amused chuckle rumbles from Lena’s chest.

 

“But warn a girl next time?”

 

The sheepish look Kara gives her only makes her heart grow twice as large. She blushes, and Lena is just about to remark on how painfully adorable it is when a nervous fidget from Kara jostles her ribcage and forces a hiss from her. In a flash, Kara makes to pull away from Lena, worry already etched across her face. But the primal urge within Lena that begs for contact reacts faster.

 

Before she can think, she grabs Kara by the front of her shirt and tugs. Whether she is inhumanely strong or she catches Kara by surprise, Lena doesn’t know. All that matters is that Kara is suddenly pressed tightly against her front, her arms braced beside Lena to stop her from crashing into her fully, her face just inches away from her own and so much closer than Lena can handle.

 

For a few seconds, they are frozen, both too stunned to do little more than just stare at each other. Kara smells so good, a heady alchemy that Lena desperately wants to lose herself in. Lena doesn’t loosen her vice grip on Kara’s now wrinkled cardigan. Any second now, the cloud over Kara’s eyes will clear, she’ll shake herself out of this trance and pull away. She’ll come to her sense and not fall into the void that Lena is already spiraling towards.

 

Instead, the taunt arms propping Kara up relax ever so slightly. It is a minuscule action, and yet it is enough to bring Kara a hair closer and send Lena’s heart racing. Her breath quickens, watching as Kara blinks slowly and zeroes in on her lips. The air crackles with tension, the air thickening with inevitability as the space between slowly, tortuously slowly, closes.

 

Kara’s face is close now, so close that Lena can feel the warm shallow puffs of air that fall from inviting lips. Every inch of her skin tingles in anticipation, her nerve endings on fire that the slightest brush of Kara against her is an explosion. And then, so delicately it is barely a whisper of a touch, Kara presses her lips against Lena’s.

 

The kiss isn’t anything more than a tentatively brushing of soft lips, and yet it cracks open a yawning chasm of desire within Lena that she has never felt before. It leaves her shaking and wanting. Lena just manages to part her lips and gently press back, savoring the softness she always knew Kara’s lips would be. Kara seems just as affected, vibrating with an energy that even her invulnerable body can hardly contain. Kara pulls back slightly, a trembling sigh falling from her lips as she looks at Lena like she has just seen the stars for the first time.

 

With poorly concealed eagerness, Kara closes the distance to kiss Lena again. Her neck stretches out elegantly, and Lena can’t help but lean closer, But in the moment as their lips are a hairsbreadth away, Lena spots the raw and shiny patch of skin underneath her collar, just one of many fading scars where skin had blistered and split open under the sickening glow of green light. Like a bucket of icy water doused over Lena’s head, reality snaps harshly back into focus. Suddenly, the fists that had been pulling Kara closer are now braced against her trying to keep the distance. A familiar fear rears its ugly head, a beast fed by a lifetime of trauma clamps its jaws around Lena’s throat and forces her to flinch away from the woman she desperately craves.

 

Feeling Lena’s resistance, Kara pulls away from her as if she has been burned, her mouth now hesitating just inches away with short shallow gasps falling onto Lena’s tingling lips. Her absence only makes it worse. Fighting back something like a panic attack, Lena forces herself to look at Kara and tries not to hurt from the wounded look in blue eyes.

 

“No wait,” Lena hangs on desperately, her tight grip somehow managing to keep Kara from retreating further. “Wait, stay. I-I want –”

 

She squeezes her eyes, struggling, trying to gain some semblance of stability through her turbulent emotions. Leaning forward, Lena bumps her forehead against Kara’s, feeling the reassuring pressure against her skin as she forces deep calming breathes into her chest. The cool hand that threads through her loose hair helps more than Lena admits. Despite the panic setting fire to her chest, Lena feels affection blossom in her chest at Kara’s sweet gesture. She’s always looking after me, even when I push her away, Lena thinks with a hint of sadness.

 

When her lungs no longer feel stiff with panic, Lena opens her eyes to find blue ones staring back apprehensively. She sees the hesitation in her eyes, but Kara obeys and stays with her, hovering slightly over Lena as they both try to steady the rapid rise and fall of their chests. Every instinct within Lena is screaming for her to pull Kara close again, to press her close and lose herself in lips that are now her new addiction. But she resists.

 

“Kara, I want this,” Lena reassures earnestly. “God, I want this so badly. But you have to – you need to know –”

 

There is a beast sitting on her chest, one that has been there for a long time that has only gotten heavier with every selfish thought Lena has had about Kara. A myriad of emotions plagues Lena, her eyebrows furrowing and her mouth twisting in conflict. She looks at Kara, who still hovers close to her and feels so deliciously warm underneath her palms. It is overwhelming. Reluctantly, Lena pulls back, leaning to rest on her raised bed. But on instinct, she trails her hand down from Kara’s neck, sliding past a broad shoulder and down her arm to wrap around her hand, tugging it to bring it into her lap. In the tense silence, she listens to Kara breathe shallowly while her own fingers fiddling with Kara’s in nervous habit.

 

“It –” Lena swallows, choosing to talk at the entwined hands in her lap as a nervous energy trickles down her spine. “It would be a lot for you. To love me. To be a part of my life in that way. You think you know, Kara, but what if you don’t? Your anonymity, the simple privileges of privacy and normalcy you cherish as Kara Danvers, the life you curated away from the public eye – that would be taken from you. would take that from you.”

 

Lena refuses to let the tears behind her eyes come out of hiding.

 

“Kara, my family…” a strange sort of resignation echoes in the hallow her tired body. “If there is anything I have learned from my childhood, it is that you should never underestimate a Luthor. We aren’t even –,” Lena bites her lips. “We’ve been friends for only barely two years and you have already been caught in the crosshairs.”

 

Lena feels the heaviness in her eyes when she reconnects with Kara’s, feels how easy it to just give in to her vulnerability in the safety of her warm presence. “The truth is, I’m terrified of my family. I’m terrified because the same blood runs through us, the same relentless determination and arrogance. And knowing that they have you in their sights…”

 

Gently, reaching out with a tentative pale hand, Lena brushes Kara’s collar aside to run her fingers against the new pink skin stretched across her left collarbone. “Look what they’ve done to you already,” Lena murmurs softly, her face twisting in anguish. Her heart is so heavy she feels it thud painfully on the floor of her chest.

 

Lena drops her hand away from Kara to touch it against her own bruised ribs, feeling the prickly ache of sensitive skin. It hurts. She hurts. It almost makes her laugh. She is well aware that there is a certain breed of masochist that exists simply by enduring the life they have lived. She joined that club a long time ago, and by now she is hardly herself without that baseline misery. Lena could care less about how much her enemies or her family have hurt her. But she shudders at the thought of exposing Kara to such a life. She should have stopped a long time ago when she could feel the tendrils of her infatuation wrapping around her, when she realized that Kara’s radiance was a gift that should be treasured and kept untarnished.

 

“I should have walked away,” Lena murmurs, her eyes softening despite her defeated tone. “I would have if it were anyone else. It would have been the smart thing to do.” She sees Kara immediately shakes her head in defiance, her mouth already parting for an avid retort.

 

“But,” Lena cuts in quickly, her tone softening as she squeezes the hand she has not stopped holding for minutes now.  “But…I couldn’t,” she confesses haltingly, feeling a paradoxical mix of shame and absolution. The weight crushing her chest seems to lessen just a bit once those words slip softly from her lips. And suddenly, it is like she can breathe again.

 

With a newfound optimism, Lena meets Kara with bright green eyes, spending just a few seconds to indulge her senses with the woman she loves. She can feel herself surrender, feel herself relinquish the white-knuckle grip of the fear she has known for so long. Just a bit. Just enough to feel what little freedom it gives her wash over her like a warm brew and bubble within her, making her feel strangely giddy with excitement. Lena can’t help but break out into a smile.

 

“I can’t,” Lena huffs out almost incredulously, her eyebrows and shoulders both shrugging in willing defeat as her smile seems to only grow. She leans forward towards Kara, who is staring back at her in a similar state of optimistic confusion.

 

“Because the truth is,” Lena whispers ardently, bringing her hand up, “I adore you.” With the backs of her fingers, she gentle traces Kara’s cheek. The blonde melts beneath her loving strokes. The moment feels sacred. “Ever since the moment we met. The truth is that I’m not strong enough to stop myself from loving you, to protect you from all the demons in my life. And the scary part is, I’m not sure I’m selfless enough to try anymore.”

 

Lena brings her fingers to trace the strong ridges of Kara’s brow, across the divot of an old scar, back down to grace the curve of her ear, feeling how Kara shivers as she passes by the strong edge of her jaw. Her thumb stretches out daringly to brush ever so softly along the bottom of Kara’s lips. Lena can feel her breath quicken. Half-lidded eyes stare at the sweet curve of full lips and worship the way they part ever so slightly under her ministrations. With great effort, Lena tears her eyes away to look up at Kara, who looks deep into her own spell and is equally preoccupied with Lena’s own lips.

 

With a bit of nudging from her hand, Lena encourages Kara to break away and look up at her, and for a moment both women are spellbound with each other. The sweetness in Lena’s eyes isn’t lost when her expression turns serious.

 

“So you have to know, Kara. You need to understand just how deep this goes for me. You have to know how much my love will hurt you. And you have to know that I’m too weak to say no.” Lena then sighs apologetically, all the while still tracing patterns across Kara’s skin. “It’s up to you, Kara. You have to be the one to do it. You have to be the one who decides for us. Because I fell a long time ago, and I don’t think I’ll stop until I hit the ground.”

 

And like a long-held breath finally being let loose, Lena deflates, her body sinking as if finally relieved of overwhelming pressure. She feels a host of emotions – relief, sadness, hope, apologetic – but most of all, she feels apprehension. Because as much as Lena would like to believe that her long-awaited confession would have left her at peace, she wants Kara. She yearns for her in a way that seems impossible. And to have gone through all of this pain, and possibly not have her? It leaves her wondering if she could ever recover.

 

Lena dares a glance up at Kara. She barely gets a chance to see glistening blue eyes and a tearful smile before she is engulfed in Kara’s arms, damp cheeks and nose burying deep into the crook of her nook. It only takes a second for Lena to register before she desperately returns the hug, her arms coming up to grasp tightly around shoulders as she buries into sweet-smelling hair, tears springing into her eyes.

 

“Lena, how long will it take for you to know?” Kara murmurs in her ear, her voice so gentle and so full in earnest. “To know how much -- that I -- that you are so loved.

 

Lena chokes back a sob, only holding onto Kara tighter. Kara huffs out a damp but delightful laugh, pressing tender little kisses to the spot right underneath her earlobe. She coos softly in Lena’s ear like a prayer.

 

“I want it, Lena. I want it all. The good, the bad, the deadly. I’ll take it all. I’ll fight it all. Because I can’t stop myself from wanting to be with you either. It’s not possible.”

 

Lena is so happy. So happy and ecstatic and sobbing so uncontrollably that she loses all sense of her reality. Somewhere, in the deep belly of her unconsciousness, something urges her to apologize, and she does, even though she has no idea what she is apologizing for.

 

“I’m sorry,” Lena stutters dazedly, her hand moving to comb through silky blonde hair and grip it ever so gently.

 

“No, Lena, don’t be sorry. Never be sorry. Not for this.”

 

Kara presses herself even closer to Lena, and Lena can’t even begin to care about her aching ribs croaking in protest. She only sighs blissfully surrounded by Kara’s warmth. Lena pulls back, grabbing Kara’s face between her hands and bringing them to face each other.

 

“I love you Kara, you know that right?” Lena states confidently, her eyes furrowing as though she were concentrating on making sure Kara knows just how serious she is.

 

“Lena,” Kara sighs blissfully, breathing her name like a benediction. Her cheeks are still damp and rosy from happy tears. Lena immediately softens, pulling Kara close so that they were nose to nose, lips a hairsbreadth away.

 

“I do, Kara. I love you so, so much.”

 

They come together, fully and without hesitation. Lena leans forward, a curtain of raven hair falling in front of her face only to be brushed away when their lips meet. The delicious warmth of the kiss trickles down Lena’s spine all the way down to the tips of her toes. Kara kisses her back, unhurried but indulgent, parting and sucking delicately that Lena can’t help but gasp out a low whine. Her hands have a mind of their own as they travel and curves of Kara’s neck, pressing and caressing to her heart’s content. It makes Kara only press in deeper.

 

“Say it again,” Kara whispers harshly when Lena breaks away to kiss down her neck.


“I love you.” The words are lost to the skin at the crook of Kara’s neck, but Lena feels her shiver underneath her worshiping lips.

 

“One more time,” Kara gasps, hands trailing down and clutching tightly to her hips.

 

Lena pulls Kara away from her neck, eliciting a whine from Kara, before kissing her deeply. “I love you,” she whispers against her lips, feeling the way they part in the most glorious of smiles.

 

Kara chuckles delightfully as she buries her face into Lena’s shoulder. Lena relishes the way it vibrates across her skin and through her fingers. Her arms come back up to gently encircle Kara atop her shoulders, holding her close even as Kara slowly slides to Lena’s side and presses her nose into her neck. Kara inhales deeply, a satisfying hum rumbling deep in her chest.

 

They settle, finding a comfortable position next to one another on the tiny cot, arms winding here and there until they find themselves entwined in some manner or another. An air of peaceful happiness settles over Lena like a heavy blanket, and for the first time, Lena thinks she understands what it is like to see the world through rose-colored glasses. Kara made the world seem brighter, full of hope and possibilities. Lena feels the weight of the golden bracelet wrapped around her wrist. She thumbs the cool metal, feeling the grooves beneath her finger pad. She brings the bracelet up to her eye-level, still not quite believing it.

 

Lena’s eyes sparkle in awe. “It’s so beautiful.”

 

“You’re so beautiful,” Kara replies, her cheeky smile as playful as it is endearing.

 

Lena blushes furiously, wondering if she will ever get use to Kara’s amorous compliments (the answer is no). “I…I don’t have anything for you.”

 

Kara pouts, her lips pulling adorably into a frown and she furrows her brow. “Lena, you know I don’t mind in the slightest. You don’t have to get anything for me.”

 

Lena throws her a patent-pended CEO glare as if daring her to say that again, and immediately Kara lifts her hands up in surrender.

 

“Ok fine, fine! How about an IOU?” Kara says as she drops her arms and slithers closer to Lena.

 

Lena scoffs, nudging her elbow into Kara’s side. “What are we, in middle school?”

 

Kara smirks. “Well, you have been trying to give me hickeys for the past few minutes.”

 

Lena cocks an eyebrow, her amusement turning into something sly. “Is that so…?” She purrs, loving the way Kara’s breath hitches in her chest when she leans in and presses a kiss just under the edge of her jaw. “It seems like I haven’t been trying hard enough.”

 

“A-ah,” Kara gasps when Lena presses another wet kiss to her neck, though she pulls back much to Lena’s dismay. She composes herself with a deep dramatic breath before looking back down at Lena. “As much as this has been…literally the best day of my life,” Kara smiles when Lena lets out a little giggle, “we should talk about what happened.”

 

Lena sobers at the thought, letting out a low hum of agreement. She gazes at Kara, eyes apologetic. “Kara…as much as it hurt for me to do to what I did, I don’t know if I can bring myself to regret it. Despite all the chaos that followed, I’m not sure I can bring myself to apologize for it.”

 

Kara sighs. “I know, and I’m not asking you to.  I’m not apologizing for what I did either. What I’m saying is that there has to be a way for us to protect each other and stay alive while we’re at it.”

 

Lena nods aggressively. “Yes, I’d very much like us to not scare the shit out of each other again.”

 

Kara barks with laughter, throwing her head back in a way that causes her gorgeous curls to bounce. “Glad we’re on the same page.” Lena tilts her head just enough to press a light kiss on the jut of her jaw.

 

“I can’t promise you that I won’t make a decision like that again,” Lena murmurs gently, like a mother soothing a child, “but I can promise you that I will do everything, anything, to stay always by your side.”

 

Kara gazes at Lena, her expression resigned but accepting. A small smile pulls on her lips before she presses a quick kiss to Lena’s temple. “I suppose that’s all I can ask for.”

 

They come together with the sureness of those so deep in love that neither fear nor doubt could distract them. The skittishness that had pushed and pulled at them ever since they began talking is all but vanished. When they’ve exhausted themselves with kisses, they press against each other, heavy-eyed and lethargic in that post-adrenaline buzz, both women falling into that lazy blissed-out state that settles after an earth-shatteringly good make-out session.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy before,” Lena hums, pressing her smile onto Kara’s shoulder in a quick kiss before settling back onto her pillow.

 

“Yeah?” Kara smiles brightly, positively beaming as she gazes at Lena with wide and hopeful eyes. She smooths down Lena’s hair with the utmost tenderness. They cuddle, sides pressed tightly to each other, Kara’s arm at some point slithering behind to rest across her shoulder, fingers now painting small circles on pale alabaster skin.

 

Lifting her right hand, Lena observes the sleek golden band, marveling at how the light seems to cause a glowing halo around her wrist.

 

“It truly is stunning, Kara,” Lena breathes. Kara turns her head to catch Lena’s reverent stare and beams. She joins Lena in tracing the edges of the bracelet, purposefully grazing the soft skin beneath it.

 

“It really was just supposed to be a simple gift,” Kara murmurs sincerely, meeting Lena’s glance bashfully. “I never meant for it to mean anything more, not if you didn’t want it. But I think a part of it was wishful thinking. Like maybe by giving this to you, one day it might finally mean what it was it was meant to be.”

 

Lena gives her a wry smile. “So, this wasn’t some elaborate plan to seduce me with your Kryptonian wiles?”

 

Kara blushes, then tries to cover up it up with a very casual shrug that just oozes je ne comprend pas. Lena holds back a chuckle but can’t help grinning at the silliness.

 

Lena examines the bracelet, her fingers tracing the delicate etchings and smooth edges. Her fingers catch on a raised edge on the inner ridge. Eyebrows scrunching in curiosity, she manipulates the ledge, gently pushing and pulling when it suddenly gives way. Nothing happens, but Kara jolts up as if electrocuted. Her eyes are scrunched in annoyance, her hands coming up to block both her ears.

 

“Kara, what’s wrong?” An edge of panic slips into Lena’s voice as she fumbles around, reaching towards Kara as she winces in discomfort.

 

Kara takes a hand away to fumble at Lena’s wrist, feeling along the bracelet until she finds the ridge and pushes it back to its original place. Relaxing immediately, Kara lets out a grateful sigh as she slumps back into Lena, who is still very much worried. She pats her hand reassuringly, sending her a sheepishly look of apology.

 

“Oh yeah, I uh, forgot to mention that. It’s an alarm, the bracelet. It emits a supersonic frequency that only I or Clark can hear. And maybe a few dogs. That’s kind of the reason why I gave it to you.” She fumbles. Her hand rubbing the back of her neck in an adorably nervous gesture. “That way, I’ll always know when you need me.”

 

Oh Kara. Lena would faint if she were the romantic type. Kara could be so swoon-worthy sometimes -- so intimate, so trusting, so caring. Lena can’t help but think how this bracelet could so easily be used against Kara, to lure her into a trap, and yet Kara was giving it to her. If her earlier confessions weren’t enough than this bracelet is proof of Kara’s complete trust in Lena. Even before she had known about Lena’s feelings, Kara had been flying over to give this. To her.

 

Lena all but lunges at Kara, pressing her lips roughly against hers in a moment of overwhelming passion, but it slows into something gentle and tender. Kara lets out a noise of surprise before falling deeper into the kiss, enjoying the way Lena moves slowly against her. They kiss at a languid pace that is no less passionate, memorizing the lazy feeling of full lips gently learning about each other. Lena dares to graze her tongue against the seam, heat sparking low when Kara’s lips part willingly. And God, does Kara taste amazing. A low moan from Lena echoes between them as she dips lightly into press against Kara. Kara shudders when Lena gently teases her bottom lip with her teeth, and her answering nibble elicits the most sinful gasp. Kara’s mouth burns like a fire against Lena’s lips. Strong hands frame Lena’s ribs tenderly, so so carefully as she caresses healing wounds and soothes hidden bruises.

 

God, she is so eager. Eager. Eager to kiss Kara, to taste Kara, to feel Kara everywhere until there is nothing but Kara, Kara, Kara. There was something different about this kiss, something that evaporated the fear in her heart and replaced it with a sense of such belonging, a feeling that could only be described as the opposite of loneliness. Was this what home feels likes?

 

Both women are panting heavily when they break away, their hands still clutching desperately to each other. There is nothing innocent about the way Kara gazes at her, blue eyes dark and full of hunger as she stares at kiss-swollen lips.

 

“We,” Kara clears her throat when it comes out raspy and out of breath, “we should probably stop. You're injured...”

 

“I’d really prefer it if we don’t,” Lena breathes, her hand scratching lightly against Kara’s scalp. Reflexively, Lena bites her own tingling lips and tastes Kara.

 

Kara groans. “Rao, you’ll be the death of me.”

 

It’s a record scratch moment. Lena stiffens, her hands freezing in tangled hair mid-stroke. Kara stills too when she realizes and worriedly pulls back.

 

“I – I meant – I didn’t mean- “Kara stammers, half-mortified by her slip and half-terrified of Lena’s reaction when suddenly Lena throws her head back and laughs.

 

A full hearty guffaw spills from Lena, her mouth cracked wide open as her eyes scrunch delightfully. Stunned, Kara sits there taking in the sweetest melody she has ever heard, before she too leans forward and the giddy energy in her chest grow into a giggle. Lena falls into her, still laughing so hard that tears form in the corner of her eyes. Soon, both women are bowled over howling in laughter, clutching at each other when they aren’t clutching onto their aching stomachs.

 

“Hahaha – oh ow,” Lena wheezes, cradling her center. Kara rubs her ribs gently in sympathy as she presses her lips onto Lena’s shoulders, the edges of the hospital gown muffling her laughter. She offers a few more apologetic kisses up Lena’s collarbone to her neck. Lena hums her approval as fingers tighten on Kara’s now-wrinkled cardigan.

 

“We probably need to talk about this, too,” Kara mumbles, motioning to the bracelet, sounding too exhausted to go about the longwinded complicated discussion about her soulmate etiology and future plans. Lena rationally knows there are certain logistics that need to be worked out, but she can’t help but feel something deliciously wonderful at the thought of being together with Kara, forever, in perpetuity.

 

Lena hums affirmatively, brushing her nose along the curve of Kara’s jaw. “Mmm, yes we do.”

 

Kara gasps when full lips press a blazing trail of kisses down her neck. “B-but maybe not right now.”

 

Lena chuckles, her breath ghosting over hot skin as she moves back up to press her lips tantalizingly close to Kara’s ear. “No, not right now…” she murmurs lowly, lightly tugging on an earlobe as a full-bodied shiver spreads over Kara’s body. She feels Kara clutch onto her leg almost painfully as she pants short shallow gasps into Lena’s ear. Lena wickedly indulges herself by flicking the tip of her tongue just below Kara’s ear, eliciting the most glorious groan.

 

“Right now…” Lena purrs, nipping sinfully at the edge of Kara’s jaw before edging her lips back to Kara’s and pulling back just enough to catch blown out eyes. They flash with an edge of mischief that sets Kara on fire.

 

“I’m going to show you all the things I learned during gym class at boarding school.”

 

“I thought you hated gym?”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“Oh Rao…”

 

 

 

 

FIN