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curiosity pulled the cat out of the bag

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Lena likes the roof. Not the roof itself. Honestly the top of L-Corp is nothing like the rest of it - it’s haphazard, and untidy, and the only thing up there besides Lena is an overturned crate that she sometimes finds herself sitting on when she’s tired of her heels. For all intents and purposes, Lena should hate the roof.

But she doesn’t.

She likes its quiet, the gentle hum of the vents, and the small echoes of people’s lives going on down below that don’t quite make it all the way up to her. She likes that no one ever thinks to look for her here; that no one has ever found her (even if she does have a hunch that it’s because Jess is pointing them in the wrong direction).

She likes looking up at the sky and feeling like her problems are dwarfed by its expanse, and the cooling shift of the air, and looking over the top of the city without having to really be in it, likes the feeling that she can see it but no one can see her, like it’s the one place she isn’t being watched.

Usually, that is.

Tonight all she can feel on eyes on her, and it makes sense when she spins and finds Supergirl hovering not ten feet away from her, awkwardly lingering in the in-between of having half settled on the ground and half decided maybe she was best in the air until she received permission to land.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to- I just wanted to- I didn’t want to startle you. You’re very close to the edge.”

“I’m sure you could have caught me,” Lena says, half joking, half serious and Supergirl laughs quietly as she looks down at herself, like she’s just remembered who she is. It’s an odd thought to have, she thinks, to suddenly remember who you are being at any given moment, to be two wholly different people in the world, to lives two lives. “Did you need me for something, Supergirl?”

“No, I just- I like to fly around at night. It calms me down. And then I saw you, thought I’d say hi but I can leave though if you’d prefer to be alone?” It’s an odder thing to watch someone who’s supposed to be so ethereal, so god-like, look nervous at the prospect of Lena saying no to such a trivial thing. Lena briefly thinks it’s because they’re on thinner ice than they used to be, because Supergirl was the one precariously perched on it for once but in reality it’s always been like this.

Tentative.

On Lena’s terms. 

“What has you not calm?” Lena asks, ignoring the second half; she doesn’t want to say out loud that she’d quite like to not be alone for once.

“Nothing in particular. I guess I just worry what might happen if I take my eyes off of things.” Now that was less of an odd thought. Lena understood that one - the need to make sure everything was fine, the fear that if you stopped focusing on something for a single second everything you’ve built might just fall apart right in front of your sleeping eyes. God she should really talk to someone about that. Kara. She should talk to Kara about that.

“What about when you need to sleep?”

“Kryptonians don’t need sleep; we just recharge using special crystals,” Supergirl says offhandedly, waving her hand dismissively at the words and Lena finds herself stilling for a second, confused, because that couldn’t be true, could it? That really couldn’t be true. “I’m sorry, that was supposed to be a joke. Not my best work.”

Lena forces a small laugh; they both know it’s one of pity, “you do sleep then?”

“I do sleep. And eat. And breathe. Aliens: they’re just like you.” Supergirl’s quoting a slogan from an ad that’s been running from Big Belly Burger of aliens eating their many greasy delights.

It’s plastered on a building not too far from L-Corp actually; Lena can spot it if she squints hard enough. Supergirl doesn’t say it with the same vigour as the disembodied voice on the TV however. She seems, if anything, disheartened by it. Probably because it’s a lot easier to claim something on an advert than it is to get the world to believe it. Lena knows that from personal experience of the L-Corp rebrand launch ads. And from personal experience of trying to rebrand herself.

“Do you feel alien?” Supergirl looks perplexed at the question, Lena herself isn’t really sure where it came from, nor is she sure she really should’ve asked it. They didn’t really talk about these things even when their alliance was less tentative. In fact, Lena didn’t really talk to anyone about anything that personal, other than Kara. Maybe Supergirl was the same. Maybe she didn’t have anyone in her life that she allowed that close, maybe she didn’t want any. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“No, it’s fine. It just confused me, I think.” She’s quiet for another moment then, content that she’s appeased the little voice in Lena’s head, contemplative in her silence, jumping in right before Lena can attempt to fill the void. “Sometimes no. Sometimes yes.

I’m not bad at fitting in because I look like you, and sound like you, and sleep like you - besides the occasional accidental floating - but sometimes someone will make a reference I don’t understand, or I’ll struggle to say an ordinary word because my tongue was never trained to make a sound that way, or someone will touch me and I’ll be reminded that I can never touch them with the same careless abandon. I think, at the end of the day, I feel the most alien when people look at me like one.”

“It’s easy to be what people see you as.” Lena knows that as well as anyone could. She knows how much easier it would be to just ignore the moral side of herself and be what she’s expected to be. She supposes she doesn’t have a monopoly on that feeling, or that fear.

Supergirl nods like Lena has just said the most profound thing she’s ever heard and it would be a lie to say it doesn’t make her feel a little good about herself, make her feel a little like they were making headway back to what they had before - where Lena found herself a little in awe of the superhero, and shocked when she even seemed a little awed in return. Mutual respect she supposed it must have been called: a rarer thing than most people thought.

“May I ask why you were standing out here alone?” Supergirl asks, testing her own boundaries, working out what the new lines drawn in the sand between them are. Ever respectful.

“I wasn’t planning on throwing myself off if that’s what you’re really asking.” She looks a little affronted by the accusation and Lena chuckles at the response, though she also notes the underlying worry in Supergirl’s eyes that begins to subside that says the thought had crossed her mind at some point. “It’s the best place to think. I created my first prototype on a roof. Of course, I stupidly dropped it and it smashed into a thousand pieces on the floor a second after my mini celebration. But the achievement was there nonetheless.”

“What was it? The prototype?”

“A robotic cat. Lex was allergic to the real thing but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.” Supergirl smiles, gaze softening as she blatantly pictures a young Lena Luthor, a little more wide-eyed but no less tenacious, finding loopholes in every rule set before her.

“The first friend I made on earth was a cat,” she shares in return, quiet and cautious, like it’s a secret not many people have had the pleasure of hearing, almost like she’s a little afraid of the judgement that might come with the confession. Lena finds it hard to picture Supergirl small. She doesn’t think the suit would fit so well on smaller shoulders. The world sure wouldn’t.

“Well maybe we’re more alike than previously thought,” Lena concludes, no judgement in sight and maybe she’s a little proud of the smile she creates. For a second. And then all she is is freezing. She tugs her coat tighter around herself, picking her bag up from the floor. “Not in our ability to withstand the cold however. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll be heading home.”

“Of course! I’m sorry to have taken up your time.”

“No, it was... nice.” Lena nods succinctly at the word, quietly content in her choice, before turning to leave. She barely makes it three steps before she’s stopped by a quiet voice. A voice nothing like a superhero but one that she knows came from the one behind her.

“Miss Luthor, I-“ She pauses, looks imploringly at Lena who simply waits, patient as ever, allowing her the time to find her words, acting as though she has all the time in the world to figure herself out despite the fact that Lena’s sure she can’t feel her left pinky finger anymore. “I know you come up here to think but could I...would you mind if I came again sometime?”

“I think I could handle some company sometimes.”

Supergirl nods.

They part ways.


“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so confused.” Lena’s not sure she ever has felt so confused, which she doesn’t think would have meant much before she came to National City, but having been here for over a year now, she finds that statement holds some real gravitas.

“Someone tried to kiss me today.” She says tried. That’s not quite right. Someone did kiss her today. Their lips met before Lena could even realise what was happening, before she could even conjure up a classic I’m sorry but I don’t feel that way about you, and she’s not really sure how she missed it happening. No. That’s also not quite right. She missed it because she wasn’t looking for it, never even thought there would be reason to look for it, never wanted a reason to look for it.

What? Who? Erm, I mean,” Supergirl clears her throat, straightening her posture so that it’s a little crisper, a little larger than larger-than-life, “that’s something. Why has that made you so confused?”

“It was James Olsen, a man who I was sure trusted me about as far as I could throw him. I’m not really sure how we got here.” Lena’s not stupid. She knows that Kara has defended her to James time and again, has defended her to pretty much everyone she knows. She can see it in the way Kara tenses when there’s a third party with them, in the way she attempts her own version of a ‘super’ pose to silently threaten anyone who might attack Lena’s character. She knows that she’s seen Kara adopt that pose with James Olsen more than most people in National City.

What she doesn’t know is when James’ feelings changed to anything else other than thinly veiled contempt. What she doesn’t know is what she did to merit that change.

“You’re a catch,” Supergirl says so surely with a flippant shrug like it’s obvious and Lena never thought she’d hear those words from her mouth. Truthfully she never thought they’d even have this conversation, hidden on the roof of her office building, but in the end who else was she really supposed to have this conversation with?

She couldn’t tell Kara, didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable stuck between her two friends, stuck between her ex-almost-something and her current wishes-there-was-something. Not that Kara had any inkling about the latter. Lena was pretty sure Kara was even more oblivious than she was and she thought James Olsen hated her until his lips were pressing into hers.

“I’m also a lesbian.” Lena likes to think she drops it in casually, and she supposes she probably does do it as casually as she can despite how choppy it comes out. At least she didn’t scream it. Although, today’s events in consideration, perhaps she should take to screaming it from the rooftops.

Oh! Well that’s easy then, you just told him that.” It’s an odd thing, Lena thinks, that Supergirl seems to have more faith in Lena than she has in herself - a lot more faith in Lena to not be incredibly awkward when faced with such a situation than she deserves.

“I actually panicked and ran off with the excuse that I had a meeting.” Smooth move, Luthor, real smooth move.

“Why?”

“Reflex, I suppose? It was something I was taught to hide for a lot of my life, something that was seen as a flaw in our family that could be exploited. I think sometimes it’s just easier to continue to pretend in public and live my life the way I want in private.”

“You shouldn’t have to hide,” Supergirl says resolutely.

“Says the woman who dresses up to fight crime because if people knew who she really was she’d be in constant danger.” Lena receives a look that she would label the embodiment of touché. “Honestly it’s not so much a secret anymore, you can find it out about me if you look for it, and I don’t have any internalised shameful feelings. It’s just... there are people in my life that I’d like to tell in my own time and if James knows then who’s to say he won’t let it slip to those closest to him?”

The press Lena could handle. They’d caught scent of it before and disembodied voices shouting their invalid opinions at her hadn’t defeated her yet. But maybe she was a little apprehensive about her friends finding out, or her friend finding out from someone other than her.

Supergirl shuffles on her feet, eyes aimed at the floor, “James Olsen is good at keeping secrets.” Because he was keeping hers, because he’d been keeping Superman’s too for quite some time.

“I think I’ll probably stick to running away from him for a while.”

“You might want to start wearing more sensible shoes then,” Supergirl says, tilting her chin towards the heels adorning Lena’s feet, the ones that cost more than they should but made her feel like she could meet the eyes of anyone who tried to look down on her across the boardroom table (and maybe just made her feel pretty damn great about her legs).

“These have been serving me just fine.”

“I’ve seen you run Miss Luthor, you could stand to lose a few inches.” It’s jokey and light-hearted, and it lifts the cloud that Lena didn’t even realise she’d created in her own mind. She noticed though. Supergirl noticed and she rid her of it with the snap of her fingers, with a stupid joke that she looked infinitely more proud of than she deserved to.

Lena pushes her gently in protest and laughs when Supergirl follows through with the motion like Lena possesses even a fraction of the strength required to shift the Girl of Steel. She finds herself smiling genuinely for the first time that day since Kara dropped her off a good morning coffee on her way to CatCo and, for the first time in a long time, Lena thinks they really could be friends.

A Super and a Luthor.

Friends.

Who would have thought it?


 

Lena’s staring up at the sky with more purpose than she ever has before, more curiosity. She’d always had an interest in the stars before, one that had begun with a crush on a girl in love with the stars in middle school, and one that she had continued to cultivate throughout her life. She’d always been good at remembering constellations and picking up the various myths that went alongside them and finding meaning in dots of lights illuminating the night sky.

But she’s never stared at it like this before.

Has never stared at the sky knowing that the slight red tint of a star far, far north of the roof of L-Corp was actually the light of a planet that wasn’t there anymore, the last remnants of light from a dead planet. Supergirl’s dead planet.

Lena had tensed when Supergirl pointed it out nights before. Felt her whole body freeze with the realisation that the woman next to her was a refugee, even if she blended here ever so well. It was easy to forget that people had lost, and lost, and lost when they had perfected their smile so well. It was easy to forget that this beacon of hope was once an individual so devoid of it.

And now Lena had spent the last three nights staring at the, now so obvious, light and wondering what it was like to live there, be from there, what it really was that Supergirl lost when her planet exploded and how anyone could cope in the face of such pain.

She hasn’t really thought of much else. Even when the stars weren’t in the sky. It doesn’t really occur to her that she might have let something slip too, that Supergirl might too have spent the last few days trying to come to terms with something in her head, that, she too, was trying to reconcile the pain of Lena’s past with what her future is, what it may still become.

It really doesn’t occur to her at all until Supergirl is dropping onto the roof beside her and letting her questions spill out before Lena can even fully process her own, “Do you miss it? Your old life?”

“Do you miss yours?” It feels a little like a game of chicken, rebounding the question back, both of them wanting the answer from the other person so they can figure out if they’re allowed to feel the way they feel, both of them looking for validation from their confidante.

“I asked first.” It’s a childish comment, one that makes Lena feel a little like it should be accompanied by Supergirl sticking her tongue out, and it rings a bell in the back of Lena’s mind that she silences before she can think too much about it, but she doesn’t stop herself from rolling her eyes.

“I was young when everything changed. I don’t remember too much about what it was like, definitely not enough to know what I’m missing out on now.”

“This is a safe space,” Supergirl pushes, perceptive as ever, her arms gesturing wide to the large empty expanse around them, to the visual proof that no one was listening but a woman who wore a cape like armour and not simply in the physical sense. Lena finds herself sighing, watches her fingers as they tangle and untangle and tangle themselves again as she puts her thoughts to words.

“I don’t miss the life per se. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for what I’ve been given - the access, the money, the privilege I grew up with. I’m grateful for the avenues open to me in life because I know other people don’t get half as much.

But sometimes I miss her. My mother. I miss having someone who loved me no matter what I did, not just in spite of my flaws, but because of them. I miss the simplicity of it all. But I suppose everything is simple when you’re four. Maybe all of that would’ve crumbled too. Maybe it’s better that she’s forever frozen in that perfect state, that I can’t inevitably let her down.” It’s not the first time Lena had the thought and, though she berated herself each time she had it, it wouldn’t be the last time she pragmatically evaluated her loss to make it hurt less.

“I don’t think you’d have let her down. I don’t think you’ve ever let anyone down, not really. I suspect it’s usually the other way round.”

“I let you down.” It’s the elephant in the room. The glowing green alien substance in the room. Lena never imagined she’d be the one to bring it up because she didn’t see herself in the wrong, not entirely. She ultimately stood by her decisions, stood by her actions to save her friend, but maybe she should have trusted Supergirl enough to explain them before it all blew up in their faces.

They were stronger together.

They’d proved that time and again.

“No you didn’t. I overreacted out of fear. That was my problem, not yours.”

“I could’ve handled it better too, apologised instead of raising my defences.”

“How about next time we just have a conversation about it, like normal people, actually listen to each other instead of immediately jumping to the worst conclusions?”

“Like normal people. That sounds good,” Lena acquiesces, turning her attention back to the previous topic at hand. “Are you going to stick to your part of the deal then?” Supergirl’s brow furrows, her mouth twisting in a confused shape and Lena takes pity, repeating, “Do you miss your old life?”

“Yes. But I think I have things here now that I’d miss more.” It’s short and cryptic. It holds a weight that Lena didn’t expect, creates a tension in the air that she can feel so resolutely even if she can’t seem to fully understand what it means.

“Maybe you could tell me about those things some time?” She hazards timidly, looking out at the skyline to avoid any eye contact she’s unprepared for in the moment. Good or bad.

“I think I’d like that.” Lena nods at the response, releases a breath into the open air and then just listens as Supergirl starts telling Lena her own stories about the stars, smiling when Lena chimes in with her own and Lena thinks she maybe understands what Supergirl meant because sometimes she misses her mom so much it hurts but she thinks she’d quite miss this. This quiet uninterrupted moment on the roof. This sense of empathy between them. This calm.

The same calm she always felt when Kara was in her office, or when they fell asleep on the couch because Kara had enforced a ‘movication’ on her since her childhood had been ‘devoid of fun’ (her words not Lena’s). Lena would miss her too. She’d miss her most.

Maybe everything happened for a reason.


 

Standing on the roof doesn’t feel the same as before, though Lena supposes that is to be expected considering the difference in the view she’s looking out on. A view nothing like the one she usually considered beautiful. A city in shambles. A city in shambles after something Supergirl did.

Lena hadn’t been around for the last RedK event, hadn’t considered the real level of devastation it would cause, hadn’t considered how fearful she’d find herself (for both the city and Supergirl, she hadn’t really considered herself in the equation until much later).

She wonders what it’ll take from National City to get back from this. She knows it can be done. She knows they’ve come back from worse. But she also knows that they usually had Supergirl there to help them, guide them, to be a beacon of hope. What did they have now?

She wonders how she’ll come back from this now. She wonders where Supergirl is spending her night, if she too is staring out at National City and wondering these exact same things. Wonders if she’s back to normal, if she can truly ever go back to normal after having her whole mind warped into something so much more sinister than the woman Lena was coming to know. 

Lena doesn’t have to ponder on that too long before she hears footsteps drop onto the ground behind her. She lands loudly. Really loud. Louder than she ever has before and Lena knows it’s the best way of announcing her arrival that she knows how. An offer for Lena to turn her away before the conversation even begins. A warning where a warning didn’t usually exist.

“I don’t want any trouble,” Lena says, still unsure as to who it is that’s really standing behind her, unwilling to risk it and find herself dragged into something she can’t quite come back from, something that they can’t quite come back from.

“I don’t- I’m not. It’s me.” She sounds so unsure, and broken, and small, and Lena turns to find she has none of the usual puff in her chest. That she shies away from looking at Lena’s face any chance she can get, instead staring at her boot-clad toes as they scuff the asphalt without purpose.

“I’m not going to look at you like you’re an alien.” She looks then. Really, truly stares at Lena like she’s the first person she’s seen since she found her place in her own mind again. Lena ignores the unshed tears she can see in her eyes, leaves them unmentioned as she tries to make her smile as soft as it can possibly be because her words weren’t a lie.

Right now, looking at Supergirl, she’s never felt more closely linked to her. Never looked at her and thought the word human so much. Not in the physical sense. But in the emotional one. To care so much. To hide so much beneath the surface and to break so much when it all came loose. It was just all so unequivocally human and Lena could feel Supergirl’s pain running through her own chest.

“You’re the first one to not.”

“I’m sorry someone did this to you.”

“You’re the first one to say that too,” Supergirl half repeats, her syllables wobbly along with her lip and Lena reaches out for her slowly with her hand before she can stop herself. She watches Supergirl tremble at the prospect of touch, flinch enough out of reach that Lena gives pause before she half-offers her hand by returning it to its original place and Lena closes the distance with her own.

She doesn’t hold it. Doesn’t cage Supergirl’s hand in with her own. Doesn’t want to scare her, make her feel trapped. She simply runs her finger along the back of Supergirl’s hand, lets her fingers drift purposelessly along the soft skin, and wonders if she’s the first one to touch her too.

“You can win them back.”

“What if I’ve blown through all my chances?”

“It might take you a while, and it’ll be hard, but people will forgive you, Supergirl. After all you’ve done for this city, you deserve a little forgiveness.”

“What if I don’t? Deserve it? Red Kryptonite doesn’t magically make me a bad person, it reveals my innermost desires and they made me do this.” She sweeps her arms across the city and Lena doesn’t dare look out there again, doesn’t dare look away in case she finds nothing when her eyes return to their current resting place. “What if I’m no good?”

“You asked me once to believe you that I was good, that I was worth saving. Now I’m asking you to believe me. And hey, if a Luthor trusts you, it can’t be that hard to get everyone else back on your side,” Lena attempts to joke, loses her train of thought when she finds her wandering hand caught more fully for a second by Supergirl’s own, feels the soft squeeze before their contact is broken.

“Thank you.” She steps back; Lena almost follows with a forward motion. “Suppose I better start fixing everything I broke.” Lena thinks the tenseness in her tone suggests that might refer to more than the tangible things, more than making buildings stable and putting out fires she started. She wonders if she was the first stop on Supergirl’s tour and then she wonders why she cares.

Maybe it’s because she’s usually the one haunted and looking for advice. Maybe it’s because she’s never had a friend need her before. It’s nice, she thinks, despite the circumstances, to be needed.

“Maybe sleep first. I hear you Kryptonians do that sometimes.”

Supergirl nods, lifting into the sky gently, as though she’s even afraid of hurting the air, “thank you.” 


 

Christmas Eve. It had never been a big thing when Lena was growing up. She holds hazy memories of cosy blankets and warm fires in her head from a time she barely remembers but often loses them in the fray of what she does, what she almost wishes she could forget.

Christmas Eve parties where she used to be paraded around like a charity case - the new nice thing the Luthor’s had done, the new nice object in the house (Lena doesn’t even begin to think about what a farce that all was considering her birth turned out to be the dirtiest secret of all).

And then it turned into parties where creepy old men would hit on her and think it was okay because they had business with the Luthors, because they had enough money to make it fly under the radar.

Then it was still holding parties for the obligation despite the crumbling reputation of their name.

And then nothing.

Loneliness. A night when Lena sent everyone home early, if she even asked them to come in at all, and then simply sat in her office staring at reports or blankly out the window and hoping that somehow she’d drag some Christmas cheer out of thin air. It never quite happened.

And then there was this year. This year where she was standing on her roof, snow gently settling by her, for once, appropriately dressed feet, and weighing up the pros and cons of she attending the party rather than just bucking up and attending.

She almost talked herself into it when she was only five minutes late. Now it was more like twenty and she felt more rooted to the spot than ever before. Maybe if she was lucky the snow really would freeze her feet to the roof and she wouldn’t have to lie about why she wasn’t there. It’s twenty minutes in and she’s so thankful for the distraction footsteps behind her provide she thinks she could cry.

“You look like someone who’s not supposed to be on a roof right now.”

“Did the jumper give it away?” It’s the most ridiculous Christmas jumper Lena could find, arguably the most ridiculous jumper she’s ever seen in her life, but Kara had let slip that she always found them funny. That it was one of her favourite parts of Christmas. And Lena thought it would make her smile. A smile was all she really needed to be willing to make herself look an absolute fool.

“It’s not your usual style, but I like it.” That was a grand understatement.

“Thank you. It’s for Kara, apparently she’s a fan,” Lena finds herself admitting, pressing a button and rolling her eyes when Rudolph’s nose starts flashing brightly (someone probably thought she was shining a distress beacon). “That’s where I’m supposed to be right now - Kara’s. She invited me to her Christmas Eve party; I’ve been told it’s quite a big deal.”

“And you’re not there because...?”

“I’m nervous,” Lena sighs. Might as well be honest to someone about how she was feeling, why not a superpowered alien who, theoretically, had no actual ties to the real world and thus couldn’t tell anyone that Lena Luthor was actually a nervous wreck who enjoyed hiding on her roof.

“Why?” Supergirl presses.

“You’re asking a lot of questions today.” She’s not. Well, yes, she is but relatively speaking she’s asking no more of Lena than she usually does and they both know it.

They both know that all they really do up here is ask questions, questions everyone else would be too afraid to ask, questions that even they would be too afraid to ask if it wasn’t for this strange, liminal space between the real world and complete freedom the two of them had cultivated.

“I’m looking for a lot of answers.” Lena laughs at the quick reply, more a puff of air than anything of real substance, more of a resigned sound that screamed something along the lines of ‘fine I’ll tell you but only because my boxes aren’t working and I really need to get this off my chest’.

“Hanging out with Kara is as easy as breathing. Hanging out with her makeshift family isn’t. I guess I’m just nervous that I don’t fit.” Kara had invited her to things before and Lena had even made her way to a few but it had never quite rid her of the feeling that she was the odd one out, that she didn’t really make sense within their rag-tag found family, that she was a spare part in an already complete machine.

“I don’t think that’s true. Alex Danvers speaks very highly of you at the DEO, and Winn Schott never shuts up about how cool you are, and well, we both know you’re very kissable in the eyes of James Olsen.” Lena groans, loud and uninhibited, and Supergirl laughs musically. “I’m sorry. That’s probably not helping to convince you it’s a good idea to go.”

“I’m being a wuss, aren’t I?”

“Not the word I would’ve expected you to go with but yes, wuss seems appropriate.”

“And I’m thirty minutes late.” Lena hesitates for a moment, weighs up her options, decides if she’s really going to do another reckless thing tonight. “Could I hitch a ride?” She was probably going to regret this. This was probably a horrible idea and yet, when Supergirl smiles and opens her arms, Lena steps easily into her awaiting hold.

Lena finds herself dropped all the way to Kara’s apartment door with a parting wave and a quick disappearance, and she knows it’s Supergirl’s way of making sure she didn’t chicken out in front of the building. She still almost chickens out at the door. But instead she clears her throat, lifts her shoulders, and knocks with a certainty she definitely doesn’t feel.

Kara opens the door the second her knuckles rap wood like she’d been waiting for Lena to finally make an appearance and Lena almost feels bad until she’s dragged into a tight hug, with lips pressing against her cheek in soft greeting, “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Me too,” Lena admits into the gingerbread laced air surrounding Kara, smiling when Kara pulls back to excitedly honk Rudolph’s nose with laughter that forces her to throw her head back. Alex appears by her side in a second, hip checking Kara and pressing a glass of scotch into Lena’s hand with an easy smile and suddenly all her worries disappear.

Maybe she wasn’t a spare part.

Maybe she did fit.


 

Lena was having a crisis.

A big crisis. A huge, life altering crisis. A mind-melting crisis. A drinking wine straight from the bottle on a roof crisis. Speaking of which, she should have brought more than one up with her because the few stray drops remaining in this one weren’t going to last long, nor were they going to complete the job of making her brain fuzzy enough to forget the aforementioned crisis.

Why didn’t she bring more bottles?

Feet drop down and Lena starts talking before her caped confidante can even attempt to announce herself because god, for once in her life she really just wants to let someone else take over and solve the problem for her. “What do you do when you’re in love with someone you shouldn’t be?”

Supergirl stares at her blankly, eyes a mix of shock and confusion, and Lena almost wants to slap her out of it because one of them needs to have their head on straight and Lena can’t take up the mantle. She needed advice. She really, actually, truly needed advice and the only person she could go to was a superhero on a roof because she couldn’t very well go to her best friend. Her best friend that she was madly in love with and definitely shouldn’t be.

“Why shouldn’t you be in love with them?”

“It’s not fair.”

“I don’t understand. Anyone would be lucky to be loved by you,” Supergirl asserts and Lena finds humourless laughter bubbling from her chest.

“Everyone I’ve ever loved has been destroyed. I’m a magnet for it.” She loved her mother. The first person she ever truly loved and she lost her to her own mind. Then Lex, the first person who made her feel like she might have had a real place in the world, lost to his own delusions of grandeur and the obsessions placed upon him by his parents.

Jack. Her first real friend, the first person who wanted to get close to her for no other reason than he thought she deserved a friend. Almost Sam. She made her come to National City, brought her into this life, and it almost ended with her gone and Ruby without a mother. Everyone she ever loved was hurt because of her, directly or otherwise. It wasn’t safe to be loved by her. It wasn’t safe to love her in return. She couldn’t put another person through that. She couldn’t...

“Don’t you think they should get to decide if they’re willing to risk it?”

All this hypothesising and lamenting was pointless when Lena considered the reality of the situation. The truth of the matter being, “She’d never feel that way about me anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Because Kara’s everything good in this world and I’m... me. And god, I don’t even know if she likes girls. Every time I try to ask I either chicken out or she doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say and then I just pretend her answer is the one I wanted.” She doesn’t exactly mean to let Kara’s name slip out, doesn’t exactly mean to confess that to Supergirl, who she knew considered Kara a friend.

But, that being said, maybe she does mean for it to slip out a little bit. Supergirl had kept every other secret Lena had spilled (to her knowledge). She had respected the unspoken sanctity of the roof, and lord knows Lena needed to say it out loud. Just really needed to say it out loud because she feels a little like she’s going to explode and she just needs it out in the open with one person so that she doesn’t accidentally explode to Kara and ruin their whole relationship. Friendship.

“She likes girls,” Supergirl responds quickly.

“What? How do you know?”

“I just know.” It’s sharp and avoidant but Lena takes it at face value because she doesn’t have the time, or the brain capacity, to be overanalysing anything else at this moment.

“Okay but that doesn’t mean she’d like me.” Kara was... better. Better than Lena, better than most people. And Lena could write a book on the ways that they were different people, on the ways Kara was the light counterpart to her darkness, but ultimately it wasn’t their differences that meant she was no good for Kara. Simply that Kara deserved more. Kara was more.

“You never know if you don’t try.” Trying. Well that was a funny thing, and a dangerous one.

Lena was usually quite fond of the idea when it was about trying new prototypes, or eating some new ridiculous thing to make Kara smile, or coffee blends. But trying with feelings? That seemed like it encompassed a whole bunch of risk Lena wasn’t ready to take on.

“I think not trying might be better for my mental health.”

“Says the woman downing wine on a roof like we’re about to have another prohibition.”

Lena looks down to the bottle in her hand. Touché. “You might have a point with that one.”

“I just think honesty might be the best thing. For both of you. But maybe when you’re not intoxicated,” Supergirl says gently, prying the bottle from Lena’s hand. “Let me take you home?” She doesn’t move any closer to Lena until she nods her ascent but when she does she’s even gentler than she was before, cautious of jostling her too much on the ride.

It takes longer to get back than usual but, as Lena is dropped onto her balcony, she vaguely thinks she’s getting  a lot better at the whole flying thing (and also at the remembering where on earth she hid her spare balcony key thing) even if she didn’t intend to make it a common occurrence.

As she lies in bed that night she thinks maybe she should take that advice and just be honest.

Wholly and unabashedly honest.

Everyone always said how it was the best policy. That idea had to come from somewhere, and hey, ultimately what was the worst that could happen?


 

Lena has compiled a list of the worst things that could happen.

It started as a thought, then she wrote it down on a piece of paper to make it seem trivial, something to read and overcome. Only that worked in the opposite direction and then she just kept adding, and adding, and adding, and now it was two sided and Lena kept thinking of more bad things that could occur and she was going to need a new sheet of paper stat.

  • Kara could laugh at her.
  • She could make Kara uncomfortable.
  • Kara could never speak to her ever again.
  • Kara could speak to her again but it would just be her laughing, and telling Lena she made her uncomfortable and that she was never going to speak to her again after that.

Yet still, despite the two-sided list and her brain having a semi-meltdown, Lena finds herself on the roof psyching herself up to finally just take the plunge and tell Kara how she feels. And maybe she’s waiting a little bit to see if a certain someone will show up and give her a pep talk.

She really needs a pep talk.

Her sigh of relief is audible when she hears feet drop down on the roof like they somehow knew she needed her and Lena feels herself smiling before words echo and all she feels is confusion.

“Please don’t turn around yet. I need to tell you something and I think it’ll be easier if you’re not looking at me with those eyes.”  She sounds different. Scared maybe? Quieter? Smaller? Lena can’t quite find the right words to describe it but it cuts to her core. She can’t think what it would be, can’t think of what would instil so much fear in Supergirl, is half sure she doesn’t really want to know.

But she doesn’t turn.

“...okay.”

“I’ve been lying to you. Or, not so much lying, as not telling the truth and yesterday you said something to me that made me realise I need to stop. So this is me stopping. I’ve betrayed your trust in more ways than one and I’m sorry about that, and I’m sorry for not telling you this sooner, and I really wish I could say it’s because of some really heroic reason to protect you or keep you safe but it’s really just because I was scared that you wouldn’t look at me the same if you knew.

But you know so much about me now, so much. More than pretty much anyone in my life so I think that you deserve to know this too. I am Supergirl... but I’m also Kara Danvers and, Rao, most of all I’m just sorry.” It doesn’t quite click in Lena’s head until she turns around and sees Kara standing there. Cosy sweater and thick glasses and awkward stance like she’s half-apologising to the world for daring to take up so much space within it.

Kara.

Her Kara.

...it’s so fucking obvious.

“I’m so stupid,” Lena whispers, mostly to herself, her hand touching her forehead in disbelief. The face. The hair. The eyes. The almost suspicious level of care for Lena’s wellbeing, the idea that two people suddenly started caring about Lena at the same time in the first place. The half-baked exit excuses and unexplained miraculous disappearances and the way Kara always seemed to know Lena was coming before Lena could even think to announce herself.

She was so fucking stupid.

“No, Rao, no,” Kara protests, hand reaching out pleadingly for a second before she curls back into herself, staying firmly behind the line she silently draws between the two of them in her mind. Lena barely takes note, too caught up in her own thoughts, her own disbelief of how someone with her smarts could end up being so stupid.

“How did I not see this? It’s so obvious. You look exactly the same. How could I have been so blind?” How could she not have simply used her eyes and put two and two together? It barely even required intelligence. Just twenty-twenty vision.

“You’re not stupid, you just trusted me. You had no reason to believe I’d lie about something like this, no reason to look for it. You’re not stupid but I am truly sorry for hiding something I should’ve admitted a long time ago. I should’ve told you the second we became friends, the second you turned your back on everything you knew to save all of us, even if no one acknowledged that,” Kara pleads.

It makes Lena stop for a second. It makes a little tension drop from Lena’s shoulders, how much Kara is begging to take the blame for this, how little she cares that she might be making it worse for herself in the face of Lena feeling stupid for not seeing it. It’s such a Kara move. Being so selfless in the face of losing everything is such a Kara move.

And Lena couldn’t be mad at Kara. Not really.

Except...

Oh my god I confessed my feelings for you, to you.” Lena starts pacing. She really needs to pace. She really needs to do something other than stare at Kara and die of sheer embarrassment and, honestly, burning a hole through the roof to the top floor of the building so that Lena fell through it didn’t sound so bad right now. It actually seemed like the optimal ending.

“Well, that’s not the worst thing; I’ve been told people do that all the time. I didn’t hate it.”

She stops in place, “You didn’t hate it?”

“I, well, I...” Kara stutters, then takes a breath, takes on a pose Lena recognises as her super one. ”Honestly I’ve had a crush on you since we met, and I’ve been pushing it down because I thought it would go away, but every new thing I learn about you makes me like you a little bit more and I don’t think I want to push it down anymore. Unless I’ve completely screwed this up and you want me to push it down, because then I can totally try and put the rather large cat back in the bag.”

“I don’t want the cat back in the bag.”

“So the cat stays out.”

“Would you mind just fully articulating what the cat is again so that when I do the thing I want to do I don’t feel incredibly stupid?” Lena thinks she’s felt enough crippling stupidity for one night. Arguably she’s met her quota for a good few future nights also.

“I like you, or like, I’m halfway in love with you.” She feels a little dizzy.

“Halfway?” She asks.

“Three quarters,” Kara jokes. She feels a lot dizzy.

“Great.” Lena nods and then she launches herself, at a speed she thinks could rival Kara (on a bad day), across the space between them to kiss her.

Their teeth clatter at first and Kara is smiling too much to kiss her properly and Lena still feels like she’s had a few rounds on the teacups but it’s them, and it’s perfect, and Lena wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. “For the record, I’m three quarters in love with you too.”

Maybe three and a half quarters.

Maybe four.

(They really were going to have to discuss how Lena missed it all later.

But for now she was just going to enjoy all that the roof gave her).