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your love is bright as ever (even in the shadows)

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1.

It's been two weeks.

It's been two weeks since she found out, and Lena still can't convince herself to actually bring it up to anyone, can't find the strength to say out loud that she knows, she knows that everyone has been lying to her

She physically, emotionally, spiritually can't do it. 

She's considered talking to Kara, of course, and even considered various other more hostile methods of interacting, and - it's complicated. 

It's not black and white or even just a few shades of grey; it's complicated in a way that breaks Lena's heart every time she even thinks about it, let alone tries to push the words out of her mouth.

She wants to be angry at Kara, wants to hate her and loathe her and think mean, ugly things about her character and personality. She wants to slosh her aside as a friend and move to Ireland, maybe get a cabin with a view and raise goats for company because goats don't tell lies.

The problem is that every time she sees Kara--her sparkly eyes and easy smile and the way her whole face lights up the moment Lena enters a room--Lena wants to forgive her, more than anything she just wants to be close to her.

She wants her friend back, wants to be normal again, wants to pretend this whole thing never even happened and she never found out Kara's Supergirl. She wants to go back to being in love with her, wants to actually get a chance to tell Kara that she's in love with her, but she can't.

She can't can't can't, because she also knows if she doesn't at least throw a bottle at Kara's head and scream when it doesn't hurt her, she'll probably end up exploding.

And she really, truly doesn't have the time or energy for that.

 

Then it all gets turned on its head a few days later.

 

Kara's been smiling at Lena all night, and that in itself should be a warning.

Thing is, though, they're at the bar for Karaoke night and Lena is drunk. Not the kind of drunk where she won't remember the morning, but the kind where the ground sways beneath her feet and all the lights look really pretty--colors mixing together, bright and foggy and mesmerizing. 

She's also been trying to disentangle herself from the bartender for at least six minutes, but she's still stuck in a conversation about women in physics, when really her only task was to get another round for the group.

Anywho, the point, yes. So this leads up to a bad thing happening: they're in a bar, Kara's unusually interested in her, Lena's sloshed, the bartender has mildly sexist opinions on women scientists--

And then, Kara walks over and grabs Lena's hand, warm lovely perfect skin covering Lena's, and she gives her a soft soft smile, as soft as her gray sweater, as soft as her pretty blue eyes.

And she doesn't even honor the conversation Lena's in, just leads her to the outside alley. Where it's empty and the air is cool and Lena's sobering up because things are no longer stuffy and she doesn't have the thud thud thud of blaring music clouding her mind.

And Kara decides this is the perfect time to pop The Question. "Can we talk for a few minutes? I need to tell you something big."

Which... fuck. The bright spark in Kara's eyes is dimming, and that's definitely the serious crinkle she gets during Serious Conversations. And this is definitely not the time Lena wants to be forced to react to this. She can't believe Kara waited until right now, of all times.

So.

"Um," Lena says, in a stunning show of coherence.

"You mean the world to me, you know." Kara's mouth sets in a firm line as she squeezes Lena's hand gingerly. "It's probably not fair to start with that, but I wanted to get it out before I told you tha--"

Fuck. Lena kisses her.

It's on the mouth and it's wet since Kara was in the middle of a word, and--honestly, it makes fireworks shoot through Lena's head. Because three weeks ago, before Lex told her, before shit was shitty, she would have given her left boob to kiss Kara Danvers while drunk in a dark alley.

But, well, so.

That hasn't changed then. She's still into Kara and her lips. Her lips, by the way, which are moving now and kissing Lena back. With tongue. Kara Danvers, commonly known as Supergirl, kisses with tongue.

Kara Danvers kisses with tongue and likes biting Lena's bottom lip and likes snaking her hands in Lena's hair, cradling her head and tugging until Lena moans. Lena finds this out because they stand there kissing for like, five-ten minutes maybe.

Right up until Alex walks out and says, "Guessing things went well, then?"

And Kara gasps like she was punched with a tornado and blurts, "What went well? Alex, shut up. Now."

Then Alex gives Kara a long, considering look, before her mouth quirks up into a smile as she shrugs and says, happily, "Always knew you two were into each other."

 

So, okay. Theoretically, that was a fucked up move considering Lena isn't happy with Kara, really, really isn't happy with her. Especially considering she spent six out of the last seven nights crying. Practically, though, it was - it was kind of everything Lena's ever wanted. 

And Kara's a really good, awesome, amazing kisser.

(Don't worry, Lena's already put that on the pro side of her Pros and Cons for Whether or not she Should Toss Kara Aside and Start a new Life list.) 

But. It doesn't make Lena feel any better about this whole thing. Once she sobers up, she's still torn inside. She--ugh. 

The bigger point of all this is that she hasn't told Kara she knows she's Supergirl, and she won't let Kara tell her, either, and she is definitely not ready to have that conversation. She just can't do it yet, simple as that, can't manage to bring it up.

Not until she figures out how to not be in love with her best friend, the same friend that's been lying to her the entire time she's known her. The same friend that she can't stop thinking about and worrying about and wanting to be with, and wanting to kiss kiss kiss again.

Even though she's falling apart because of her.

Like she said, this whole thing is about as complicated as complicated gets.

 

She's not a dick, though, so she gives it another twenty-four hours before she invites herself over to Kara's apartment because they need To Talk.

 

Kara lets her in like it's just a routine visit, happier than normal more than anything. She offers Lena a coffee that Lena sets down on the counter, and then she offers up a smile that Lena doesn't bother to return, and.

This is it, Lena thinks, probably the hardest decision she's ever had to make on her own, but she knows it's the only one that makes sense to her right now.

She needs to distance herself from Kara, push her away so she can heal, or at least feel better. Right now, being with Kara is like continuing to talk to someone that just broke up with her:

She has all these feelings, that are mostly sad and crushed and angry, and she doesn't know what to do with them.

She wants to be close to Kara, but every time it happens it just reminds her they were maybe never close at all, and Kara's not hers because she never trusted Lena.

It's bad enough that her mood drops through the ground just thinking about it, but forcing this friendship to continue on when Lena feels the way she does is just torture at this point.

She needs time and she needs to think. But she needs space more than anything else.

 

"You know how you say you'll always be there for me?" Lena asks, voice shaking a bit, unveiling just how hard it is to say what she's about to say. She doesn't want to do this, she really doesn't.

"Yeah, and I mean it," Kara says firmly, arms folded, thumbs twitching against her biceps. Her expression looks lost and so so confused, like she's sure something's gone wrong, but she doesn't quite know what it is yet. 

Lena looks down at the floor because she has to, has to so she can regain her courage. She needs to say this, needs to do this. She's spent weeks crying and angry and upset and she can't keep going on that way. She can't keep killing herself trying to keep this in.

She's finally ready to talk about it, and she won't let something like Kara's frown and her too blue eyes keep her from getting it out.

"The first time you said it, I remember thinking it was too good to be true," she continues, looking up again, trying to ignore the worry prickling in Kara's eyes. "I kept thinking it was dumb to believe someone would ever care that much about me, to believe that was even possible."

"But I do," Kara says simply, like it doesn't need any more explanation.

Lena twists her hands together and takes a moment to look at Kara, really look at Kara, something she hasn't let herself do in weeks.  

She still sees her best friend. She stills sees the person she's learned to trust more than anything, the person she'd go to hell and back for, the person that's gotten her through some of the worst moments of her adulthood, the person that's always been her rock.

But she also sees someone that lied to her through every time Lena's told her all she wants is the truth, the person that didn't trust Lena with one of the most crucial and fundamental aspects of her identity, the person that betrayed Lena on a level that she can't even process properly.

She knows, however, that Kara has been there for her, won't deny it, and so has Supergirl.

Kara's sacrificed herself for Lena and dropped everything for Lena, and it really wasn't a lie when she said she'd be there. That part is true, and Lena accepts that. Kara cares about her, and she knows that.

It's hard for her to believe it sometimes, especially lately, but somewhere deep down she knows.

"I know you do," she agrees, and Kara's eyes bright up at that. The way they do when Kara suspects everything is going to be okay, when she's sure things are fine and she can relax.

Lena squeezes her fingers tight enough together that they ache, because she hates this, she really hates this. But it's something she has to do.

It just - it hurts. Not unexpectedly, or suddenly, or more than she thought. But it does. There's an ache sitting in her chest, getting heavier with each passing second, pressing in harder the more Kara relaxes.

She's not just breaking her own heart today, and it's all so obvious now.

"Do you know what I see whenever I look in your eyes?" she asks after a beat of silence.

"What's that?" Kara asks, and Lena can see her eyes dimming again. She can tell that Kara's just now catching on how serious of a conversation this is, and there's really no turning back from here.

Lena nibbles her lip. She's sure she can get these words out if she just tries. "When I look at you, I see - I see calm. I see hope, I see peace," she starts. "When I look at you I see the one person that can always make me happy without fail, my friend. My best friend. My world."

Kara's incredibly quiet, chest barely rising like she's not even breathing. Lena can read her expression clear as day, getting sadder by the second like she just knows what comes next, like she's bracing for it.

She probably does know. It's as obvious as Lex said it was, and Lena was just too dumb to see it.

"I also see the person that's lied to me for years, the person I've - the person I've cried over for the past few weeks, the person that's made me feel raw and confused and numb and just - hurt." Lena pauses and takes a deep breath, scratches her fingers against her palm and try try tries to keep her eyes locked with Kara's. "When I look in your eyes, I - I don't trust you anymore, not like I used to."

Here it is, the part that really hurts. Lena can't breathe with how much she doesn't want to say it out loud. She doesn't want to make it real, because being in denial feels like the only thing sticking her to Kara. But she's so broken, she - she needs to let it go.

"I know you've been lying to me about being Supergirl, I know, okay? Don't try to say otherwise," she says, so quietly she hopes Kara managed to hear it. "So what I mostly see now, feel now, when I look at you, is someone who betrayed me, mocked me, made a fool of me, and--and I know you probably had your reasons, Kara, I know. I trust that. But I can't stick around to hear them out, because I--."

"Why not?" Kara asks, like the words just fall out of her, like she's suddenly breaking. Her eyes are glistening, so glossy it's a wonder the tears are holding in, and Lena wouldn't mind walking out of here before she sees them fall. It's already hard enough as it is. "Why can't you, why - Lena, I can explain. I was going to tell you, I swear. Soon. Did Lex--"

"Kara, I just, I can't do this. I'm sorry." She has to stop to breathe, she needs to breathe. She needs to gather herself and do this. She needs to do this. For her, she has to do it for herself. "I don't have the strength, I can't. I don't want to hear it, or talk about it. I don't want to cry anymore."

Kara doesn't say anything for what feels like an eternity, jaw working over time, tears still pooling in her eyes. They just stand there for a whole minute staring, silent, sad, until Lena ducks her head and breaks the silence with a sigh.

"You mean the world to me," Kara says finally, but it's quiet, distant, like she's slipping away. Maybe it's just Lena that's slipping away.

It's time for her to go. 

"I know," she says, because - she's not sure if it's true, but she never really came here to fight, to argue. She came here to say goodbye. "I'm gonna - gonna go away for a while, but CatCo will be fine, your job's still there. You have your friends. You'll be okay."

"So that's it, then?" Kara asks, cheeks pinking up as a tear finally falls, and then a second and a third and Lena has to look away after that. "You're going to leave, just like that? I can't even explain? I can't fight for you?"

Lena swallows around the lump in her throat. She told herself she wouldn't cry, not in front of Kara she wouldn't.

"There's nothing left to say, Kara," she whispers, heart beat thudding against her chest. "You did what you did, and you knew it would hurt me, knew trusting you was all I had left. Look, I don't want to make this any harder. Our friendship meant a lot to me, but it's not the same now, so yes. I'm going to go."

"Lena, that's not - when we kissed, I realized -" Kara cuts off, mouth hanging open like she can't find the words. 

"Stay safe," Lena jumps in, not sure what else to say, just knows she doesn't want Kara to finish that sentence. "Be careful out there, don't over-exert yourself, take care and ask for help when you need it. You have good friends. You'll be fine, promise."

Lena starts backing away without realizing it, one step at a time, and when Kara doesn't follow she turns around and--she doesn't exactly run from Kara's apartment, but it's something close to it.

 

It feels like Lena's world stops, but everyone else's keeps going on.

She spends a week hanging around National City, trying to convince herself she can build her own life, one outside of Kara.

But she ends up hiding in her apartment most of the time, nursing glasses of Scotch at night and looking at old pictures of Kara so she can somehow feel closer to her. Which is probably dumb, since she's the one that walked away, since Kara's the one that hurt her.

Since she should probably hate Kara, or at least not like her, or at least respect herself enough to believe cutting Kara off is the right thing to do.

Or something, something like that. Nothing makes sense anymore, it's like she's free-falling.

It doesn't take long before National City starts to feel too claustrophobic, like the space she made her own is suddenly snatched from her, and now all she has is loneliness and awful memories and dread, all so consuming she's afraid she's going to be swallowed up if she doesn't do something about it.

The earth keeps spinning, the DEO keeps running, L-Corp is doing just fine without her, Kara keeps showing up on the news, and Lena Luthor is being swallowed by her sadness.

 

She actually does move to Ireland a week after that. She gets her a cabin in an area that's mostly green, out in the middle of nowhere, where the nights get dark enough that she can see every star in the sky.

She gets herself a journal she can write in, and a large fire place, and two-dozen cozy sweaters, and she tries, as best she can, to relax and be happy. Maybe manage a smile for the first time in ages.

 

It turns out, a smile isn't all that hard--all it takes is three weeks of greenery and sunshine, and maybe twice daily trips to the local bakery and a nice lady named Laura that lets her cry about Kara and tell her about the kiss and tell her about being betrayed and tell her how she think she's overreacted, and.

And now she gives Lena half-priced sweets every time she drops by.

 

 

2.

Kara shows up on her doorstep four months later in a lovely blue sweater, with even lovelier blue eyes, and Lena's so caught off guard she just blinks at her for a good thirty seconds and takes a breath so long, she realizes she hasn't breathed since she left National City.

Then, for whatever reason, she lets her in.

Maybe it's because of the way her heart fluttered as soon as she opened the door, or because she sincerely thinks she didn't deserve to be that upset, maybe because she hasn't cried in weeks or needed her old photos.

Maybe - fuck it, it's probably all of those, but. She knows why she opened the door, and it's the exact reason she needs to get Kara out of her house: She's in love with her, she's still in love with her, she'll always be in love with her as long as she keeps letting her in.

And Kara will just keep hurting her as long as Lena lets her. Maybe. She's not sure, and that's the part that's ripping her to pieces.

Either way, Kara's sitting across from her on her dark-oak coffee table and staring down at her fingers, curls falling carelessly over her shoulders and lips just as pink as Lena remembers them. She's still every bit of breathtaking. Lena's still every bit of caught up.

"How's your morning?" Kara asks, and then she grimaces, obviously meant to open with something stronger than that. Except there's nothing stronger than her presence itself, to be honest, but Lena won't bring that up. "I, um. I hope you're doing well."

"What are you doing here?" Lena asks, instead of acknowledging any of that. It's been four months of getting herself to a semi-stable place, so she can't really afford to entertain pleasantries.

Kara swallows thick enough that Lena can see it clearly, eyes searching Lena's face like there's anything left there for her to find. "It's actually a DEO matter. We need you for something important, and thought you might help out. Not for us, but just - because you're a good person."

Lena scoffs at that, audibly. "So you're fishing to see if I plan on becoming a true Luthor."

"No," Kara says quickly, folding her big hands together, leaning her elbows forward on her knees so she suddenly feels closer than Lena wants her to be. "We just, we need you. That's it, that's the end of it."

"Need me for what?" Lena will give this conversation five more minutes, maximum, because she hates to admit it - but Kara being here is magically filling some sort of loneliness hole that's been growing inside her and she hates how warm she feels in her presence. "What happened?"

"Right," Kara clears her throat. "We need you to synthesize a polymer. A pharmaceutical nano-carrier for a drug that--"

"Alex could do that in her sleep," Lena says right away, catching on to what this actually is. Five minutes is probably too much for her to lend out, especially when her head's already scrambling from the smell of Kara's body wash. "Why're you really here?"

"I missed you," Kara says simply, and has the nerve to make her eyes twinkle with sincerity.

Of course she missed Lena. She should. Lena was a top-notch friend, and Kara fucked whatever they had to pieces, so she can keep missing Lena for all Lena cares. But she doesn't need to bring her shit into Lena's new life.

"Get out of my house," Lena grits out after a second. "Just get out."

Kara stands up and shoves her hands in her pockets, and she looks miserable, like she has nothing left to lose. Which is only confirmed when she says, "I'll leave your house, but I'm not leaving Ireland until you talk to me."

"I don't care," Lena snaps. "You can stay at the bed and breakfast down the street for all I give a fuck. Do whatever you have to do to realize I don't want you back. Not ever. I parted with you nicely, and you should have just kept it that way. Get out."

Kara does get out, gets out just a fast as she came and just as silently, too.

And Lena hates the way it stings when she actually leaves.

 

She hates the way she can't stop thinking about Kara the rest of the day, thinking about how sad she looked, wondering if she's okay. She never hated Kara, never did and probably never will. But she knows when she thinks about Kara, she hurts. She hurts a lot.

That has to be a sign that Kara's not good to have in her life, has to mean something, this has to be the right decision.

But the longer the day goes on, the more it feels like the wrong decision, the more she drops. The more she drops drops drops, mood sinking low enough that she feels the same way she did the nights after she first found out.

She drops so low that old pictures don't even help her. Drops so low that she spends the night crying, listening to an old voicemail from Kara, curled up in her bed wondering if she just pushed her friend away for the final time.

Wondering if she'll ever fall in love again or find someone as good as Kara. Wondering if that was the final straw, and if she's the one that's being too difficult about this whole situation, wondering if she's overreacting.

Needless to say, sleep doesn't come easy, but it does eventually come.

 

She wakes up to the sound of someone unmistakably chopping wood outside her bedroom window, and she'd be lying if she said her body didn't relax once she sees it's Kara.

She looks good, wearing a flannel that looks worn, but Lena's never seen her in it. And she's chopping the wood so effortlessly, like it's nothing, hair not even tied up and sleeves still down. But, then again, it is effortless. She's Supergirl after all.

Lena's best friend is secretly the world's most beloved alien. Well, ex-best friend, that is. 

She doesn't want to think about that, so she leaves the window and decides to make coffee instead. She'll make one for Kara just because - well, she did need the wood, was running low. Was going to ask her neighbor three miles out if he could come and do it.

So it's nice, is what she's saying. She can be nice in return. Just a little bit.

She throws on a sweater and jeans, soft socks, and heads into the kitchen for the coffee. She runs the water a little too fast, loud, so she can drown out the sound of the wood. She needs time to let her mind race--to think

It feels like shit having Kara here, but she saw yesterday that it's even worse pushing her away, so she needs to - ugh. She doesn't know what she needs to do, is the thing. She's still so confused, and the shit part is that the only thing that makes sense is that she needs Kara.

But it's the only part she doesn't want to believe. Fuck, she - it's just too early to think about any of this.

Once the kettle is going she finds two mugs, picks out her favorite ones, a larger one for Kara and fiddles with them on the counter. Keeps turning them and nibbling her lip, lining up the handles and trying to busy her mind.

It gets her through waiting for the coffee to finish, and then she pours it in and tries to decide on what to put in it. She knows how Kara likes it - three sugars, exorbitant amount of cream, but that feels too intimate. She doesn't want to get her coffee just right.

They're not there yet. She takes it to her black, but she does make sure to pour her a larger share.

"Thought you could use the fuel," she says, offering her the mug, keeping her fingers carefully only curled around the handle so they don't accidentally touch.

Kara sets the axe down and takes the mug in both hands, cupping it gingerly and letting the heat waft against her face before she takes a sip.

"Thanks," she says, earnestly, drinking in large gulps like the searing heat doesn't bother her. It doesn't, actually. Right. "Brought you milk, too. Saw it in the market, and thought you might need some."

Lena actually did need milk. She doesn't mention it.

She mostly wants to go inside because the sun is rising higher and Kara looks so damn radiant in the light, it's like it rises and shines just for her. Which is pretty apt, considering it's what fuels her. "You want to come inside? Little cold this morning."

"Okay," Kara says, following along, tall and solid and warm enough that Lena can feel the heat coming from her since they're so close, too close.

Kara must sense it or something, sense something's off, because she slows up suddenly and lets Lena take a solid lead until they're at the door. Then they sit at the kitchen table once they're inside, and Kara keeps here eyes pointed at her coffee. 

"So how's Alex?" Lena tries, twisting her mug in circles on the table.

"She's okay," Kara says, lifting her eyes like she's scared she needs permission first. "She's doing fine, really. We're all doing okay. We just miss you a lot." She tenses after that, like she knows she said the wrong thing, and then she adds, "I'm trying to be safe like you told me."

"That's good," Lena says, and doesn't say anything else for a while.

Kara tries to make herself small in the silence, slumping her shoulders and breathing softly, barely making noises when she puts her mug on the table. It all looks like she's afraid, afraid to move too suddenly or else. Or else Lena might yell and kick her out like yesterday.

She's half-right, anyway, if that's what she thinks. Lena's probably going to kick her out. She's decidedly not going to yell.

After another minute, Kara finally says, "Lena I'm sorry that--"

And Lena clears her throat loud to stop her. Guess this is when their time is up. "I have a lot of things to do today, so you should go." But now that she's started, it's like she can't stop herself. "You should just go and don't come back. You don't have to do things for me, just let me go. Please."

"Okay," Kara says, and then she rinses her mug in the sink and leaves.

 

Lena spends the night crying again, listening to the old voicemail. Then she spends the next day cuddled in a blanket on the couch, waiting for Kara to come back. Waiting for her to be as persistent as she always is just so Lena can push her away again.

But Kara never comes.

 

She doesn't come back the next day either, and Lena needs to get out of the house or the hollow feeling in her chest will spread and she may not come back from that.

 

"Missed you yesterday," Laura says, as soon as Lena enters the bakery. She doesn't wait for Lena to make an order, already bagging up her usual and marking off half the price, probably. "Your puffy eyes have anything to do with the pretty girl hanging around the bed and breakfast?"

Oh. Maybe Kara's still here. Lena tries to hide the way she perks up. "A little bit, yeah. I guess. A lot. She's mine."

"I figured," Laura says, walking from behind the counters. She's got Lena's bag of sweets tucked under one arm, and two cups of fresh coffee in her hands. "This is on the house, alright? I put double everything in the bag, and here's an extra drink. The coffee's pretty terrible at the bed and breakfast, but don't tell Emma I said that. Your friend looks just as awful as you do, so she could use this too. But take your time with her, all the time you need. If she's smart, she'll wait for you."

"Thanks," Lena says, taking both cups and the bag. "Thanks for everything."

"It's not a problem," she waves it off. "But a little advice from someone old - if it's something that can be fixed, then do it, let it happen, no matter how hard it is. You don't get this torn up over someone that doesn't mean anything to you."

That's the problem, though, isn't it? Lena gave Kara the power to destroy her, trusted her with every inch of her heart, and Kara took that power and crushed her with it. No matter how much she loves Kara, she can't let that happen twice.

She still smiles and tells Laura goodbye, then she heads the ten minutes down the road to the bed and breakfast.

She expects to have a second to gather herself, a second where she can linger walking up the stairs, the chance to just leave the treats and the coffee at the front desk and say they're for the pretty girl, but Lena doesn't get that.

As soon as she's in eye-sight of the bed and breakfast, she notices Kara's on the porch. She's on the porch swaying on the porch-swing and staring idly off in the distance. That is, until she locks eyes with Lena and decides she's just not going to look away.

Lena supposes it's for the best. If she talked herself out of seeing Kara today, who knows how tonight would have went.

"These are for you," she says, once she joins Kara on the porch, deciding to give her the entire bag and the coffee, knows how Kara likes to eat. "They're from Laura."

Kara nods, small smile quirking on her lips like she's appreciative, and then she checks inside the bag.

It feels weird just standing in front of her, awkward, instead of joining her on the swing. But Lena knows if she does, their shoulders might brush or their arms or fingers or thighs, and she's not sure she can handle that yet.

"Hope it's better than what's here," Lena says offhandedly, shoving her free hand in her pocket. "The coffee is bad here, Laura said."

Kara takes a swig of the coffee Lena gave her, probably just how she likes it since Lena started taking her coffee the same way Kara usually does (she doesn't like to think about that either, but something about just black didn't sit right in her soul), and then Kara sighs, content, nodding again.

So she's settled on being silent. Lena can work with that. She bites her lip for a second, then decides to slide into the swing carefully, slowly, inching all the way to the other side and smashing herself against the arm of the swing, so there's a good eight inches between them. 

It's sort of peaceful rocking, staring at the clouds, her legs dangling and Kara kicking them back and forth with her toes. She likes this, really likes it, doesn't have to worry about what Kara will say next or feel like she's not in control. She likes being with her and just relaxing.

"I need to go to the market," Lena says, a few minutes later, after she's watched Kara eat through half the bag. "It'd be nice to have someone to help me carry things home."

Kara looks up and nods again, then she studies Lena for a moment before setting the bag between them and nudging it towards her. Lena grabs out a profiterole and takes a bite, humming as the sweetness spreads through her mouth.

"So I was thinking of making a nice dinner," she says after she swallows. "I usually make too much, so. It'll be done around eight if you want to come by and get some to bring back here."

"I'd love that," Kara finally speaks, voice low and a little raspy, like this is the first thing she's said all day. "Sounds amazing."

It's probably not going to be amazing, Lena wasn't much of a cook before, but she's been getting better at it. And part of her is a little excited thinking that Kara will be eating something she worked hard on, enjoying something she made.

She shakes that thought away fast, though. "It's just going to be shepherd's pie, nothing much, but there'll be plenty, and--"

"It'll be great, I'm sure," Kara cuts in, and Lena has to fight the swell in her chest. She's not ready for compliments yet. Thankfully, Kara catches on. "I mean, any kind of home-cooked meal would be great, so I'm just grateful you're offering. Not picky."

"The market's just down the road," Lena says, because that feels like a better topic, even if Kara already knows that. "Then the walk to mines isn't far. But don't feel obligated to help out, can still drop by at eight."

"Of course I'll help out," Kara says, fingers twitching like she wants to reach out and touch Lena. But she wouldn't dare. Lena's positive of one thing, and she knows Kara would never do that. It might just break her, and then where would they be? "I'm ready whenever you are, no rush though."

 

They spend the walk to the store in silence, Kara's hands shoved in her jeans and Lena staring down at hers the whole time. The thing about living in a small town, living in the middle of the country, is that it's quiet.

There're no street sounds or cars or honks or the humdrum of movement, there's just them and their silence and the wind.

So it's a bit of a reprieve once they actually make it into the store.

Kara grabs the basket and carries it around, follows Lena through the aisles as Lena places various things in. She even makes small-talk with the guy in the meat department as he's measuring some out for Lena, and gets a lady in the candy section to laugh.

She's just... easy. Kara's always been easy and endearing and transparent and - quite lovely, really. Which is why, maybe, Lena just doesn't understand how she could lie all that time, how she couldn't trust Lena with her secret. 

Lena was--hell, probably still is--willing to die for Kara, and all this time she was Supergirl, and she didn't say a thing.

It sucks, is all. It sucks that Lena used to have a person and now when she looks at Kara she just sees someone unreachable, untrustworthy, someone that has the capability to hurt her and will do it.

"Y'alright?" Kara asks, nudging Lena's thigh with the basket after Lena's been staring at the carrot selection for an unreasonably long time.

She's not, really. She wants to know why Kara didn't trust her, why she hurt her, why she's here, why she's doing this to Lena. She wants to know, because - because maybe it's a good answer, and it'll make everything okay.

But then, then there's always the chance it's a shit answer. And once it's out, there's no rectifying it or fixing it, they're just broken.

"I'm okay," Lena says. "Was debating canned vegetables, versus bagged or fresh, but I think fresh is good."

"Definitely," Kara agrees. "I can stick around and help if you want, peel carrots or peas or skin the corn off the--"

"No," Lena says, bristling at the ease that Kara just exists with, at the comfort she feels thinking about cooking next to Kara. Kara's so easy to trust, and that was Lena's downfall in the first place. "Cooking helps calm me, it's my happy place. I like to do it alone."

"Yeah, of course," Kara says quickly, side stepping and putting another foot between them. "Just, I'm here if you need me. Even for the little stuff."

"How long are you here, anyway?" Lena asks, before she can think better of it, heart sinking thinking about Kara being gone again, being alone again. She was able to settle into it once, but doing it again seems incredibly daunting.

But, much to Lena's surprise, Kara just shrugs and says, "As long as it takes."

 

Kara comes over exactly at eight. She's wearing black joggers and a soft grey turtle-neck, hair damp like she's freshly showered, and Lena spends a second lingering as she loads the food into the container.

Spends a second just enjoying Kara's smell, appreciating the warmth and familiarity that spreads through her, allowing herself to feel safe and comfortable in Kara's presence for just a few seconds. And it's enough to make her feel like she can breathe easy for the first time in a while.

"You'll have to get this back to me," she tells Kara, handing the container over. "It's from my best set, and it's just a loan, not a gift. I'm free around two tomorrow if you want to come over to drop it off."

"Okay," Kara nods, large hands settling on the container, dangerously close to Lena's. "I'll get it washed and back to you. Want me to pick anything up for you before I head over?"

"No, just getting that back is fine," Lena says. "Don't need anything else."

Kara smiles at that for some reason, easy and lazy and pretty and heart stopping, and then she nods again and says, "I'll see you at two, then. Can't wait to eat this, smells delicious."

Lena doesn't smile back, doesn't even really respond, but she does think about Kara's smile for the rest of the night.

 

She gets up earlier than usual to make homemade biscuits. She keeps telling herself that it's because she likes baking, or because she likes biscuits. But, truthfully, she knows that once Kara brings back the container, she doesn't have an excuse to come back again.

So Lena needs to fill it again, she needs to keep Kara coming back.

It goes against everything she feels inside--the hurt and betrayal and that little sign flickering in the back of her head, big bright neon lights spelling out self-preservation--but she - she just wants to see Kara a few more times, that's all.

It can't hurt much, not if she doesn't let it get that far.

 

"So these are for me, too?" Kara asks, and her smile has grown since yesterday. Lena can tell because there's a smile threatening to peek from the corners of her own mouth, especially when Kara takes a bite of a biscuit right in front of her.

It's not fair how gorgeous she is. "It'll go to waste otherwise, always make more than I can eat myself. Besides, I - you came all this way, and I want you to eat properly."

"I came all this way for you, Lena," Kara says, gripping her newly filled container tightly. "If that's all I get, then I'd be more than satisfied."

Lena doesn't bristle as much as she did before, or feel the need to kick Kara out or change the subject, but she does get the strength to tell Kara, "Not yet. Don't - I'm not ready to talk about that just yet."

Kara nods, pinching her lip between two of her fingers. She's still smiling, so apparently Lena didn't mess that up. Which is good, great even. "Suppose I should get going, then?"

"Yeah, that's all I have," Lena says. "But you have to - when you drop by tomorrow, I might have something else. If you like my cooking, I mean. I don't mind sharing."

"Best food I've ever had," Kara says, and it looks like she means it.

Lena spends her night thinking about that.

 

It goes on like that for a few days, Kara bringing the container back and Lena having more food to put in it, and they sort of settle into a rhythm. It's a good rhythm, for Lena at least--them having a schedule and a thing and Kara being predictable.

She knows it can't go on like this forever, knows they'll have to talk eventually, but she likes that Kara's giving her the time.

She likes how she feels when she's with Kara, appreciates her presence and calmness and understanding and attention. She appreciates Kara in a way she maybe didn't even when they were friends.

She just appreciates that--

Well, it's a bit hard to explain, but she wasn't even sure there was a possible way to fix this. She was fairly convinced she wasn't ever going to have Kara back in her life. And then Kara showed up, and it's like, she's doing it right. 

Lena didn't know what the right way was, but this definitely feels like this is it. Kara being here, and being Kara is helping her realize that maybe she doesn't lose it all in this situation.

 

 

3.

Things get complicated when she wakes up to a knock from Kara early one morning.

"The pipes burst," Kara explains, standing with her suitcase in Lena's doorway. "Emma said can't stay there for the next five weeks, damage looks pretty extensive. And there's no place else remotely close to here."

"You can fly," Lena points out. "You can fly faster than the speed of sound, I'm sure you could figure it out."

"Or I could just stay on your couch," Kara says, nudging a finger into a hole in the ratty t-shirt she's wearing. "If it's fine, I just want to feel normal for a while. I spent a long time only being Supergirl after you left. I even flew here on a plane."

"Oh," Lena says. They never talked about that; she never knew what happened to Kara, or anyone for that matter, after she left. "I don't know if--"

"Lena," Kara breathes, and suddenly she's grasping one of Lena's hands, holding it firm and warm, Lena's skin is lighting up like it's being prickled with fire. "Can I fix this? You don't need to tell me how, I'll figure it out, but can I? Because if I can't, then I can go. I'll actually leave."

"Kara, that's not fair," Lena says, trying hard to get her brain to tell her hand to move. For some reason the input isn't working. "You can't just shit on my life, and then give me an ultimatum."

"It's hardly an ultimatum," Kara says, running her thumb over Lena's palm. Lena wants the touch, wants Kara, wants her in her life so much it hurts. "I just want to know if it's fixable. What are we doing here? You won't even let me apologize, but I can tell you don't want me to leave."

"You don't get to dictate how this goes," Lena says. "You've been doing that our entire friendship, don't you see that?"

"I thought I was protecting to you," Kara says on an exhale, so fast Lena doesn't even get the chance to block it out. "I thought - I genuinely thought I was protecting you. By the time I realized I wasn't, the lie had already gone on for too long."

"From what?" Lena asks, because - because that's better than Kara wanting to be manipulative or any of the other worst case scenarios that have run through her head.

"From everyone who wants to kill Supergirl," Kara says. "Everyone willing to target her friends, everyone that has targeted my friends and family. From all those times I've watched the people I love get hurt. I thought I was protecting you from that, but in the end it didn't matter."

"I got hurt, anyway," Lena says.

"You got hurt, anyway," Kara repeats. "I was going to tell you. Once the stress from Lex calmed down, I was going to tell you. You can ask Alex. As soon as I realized it was hurting you more than helping, I tried - I planned to tell you. And it's okay that you're upset and angry, and everything else, because you deserve to be. But can I fix this? I just need to know I can, and I'll give it everything I have."

Oh. Fuck, that's - she probably should have just stuck around and talked to Kara, but it's a bit too late for that.

"Um," Lena says, relaxing her hand inside of Kara's. Because, yes. This can be fixed. It can be fixed, she can have Kara, everything will be okay. They can fix this if they try. "I really, really hope so."

"Good then," Kara says, releasing Lena's hand. Lena follows her for a brief second, before she catches her senses and snatches her hand back to herself, cradling it against her belly with her other hand like she's just touched her favorite celebrity.

"I guess you can stay on the couch, but I still, I'm not--"

"I know there are things and conversations you're not ready for yet," Kara says, waiting for Lena to step aside before slinging her suitcase through the door. "I can still respect that even from inside your home, not here to put you out."

"No. That's not. I - I think I'm ready to talk more," Lena says, because it's true. "As long as you're respectful, we'll be fine."

"Yeah, of course," Kara says, and Lena really wants to kiss her.

 

It's interesting watching Kara trying to exist in Lena's space, watching her try to do it carefully. She spends the first few hours curled up on the couch, scrolling through her Twitter feed, forehead crinkle suggesting she's less than impressed with Lena's terrible cell-service.

And then she does her best to only move when Lena's not watching - except she's the least amount of sneaky and awfully clumsy, so Lena keeps hearing her knock into things or drop them and hurry to pick them up.

She catches Kara in the kitchen late that night, long after she usually goes to bed. She wanted to sleep but Kara's here, and she heard her finish up in the shower, then heard the familiar sound of the kettle. So she thought she might join.

Kara looks lovely as always, skin glowing and damp, smells like oranges and vanilla and happiness. 

"Have enough in there for me too?" Lena asks, and Kara immediately turns on the tap again to fill it up a bit more, pours in enough that the kettle will make at least a few cups. "What're we having?"

Kara turns to her carefully, still moving slow like Lena'll startle at any second. "Sleepytime tea, couldn't put myself out, thought it might help."

"Me either," Lena agrees. "It's like I feel restless, since you're so--" Close. She stops herself before she says it, though, doesn't go down that road.

But she can tell Kara catches on because she relaxes a bit, soft and lovely, like a weight is lifting off her shoulders. "Sorry for all this," she says, gesturing around the space. "I feel--think, am--an asshole for this, probably, but I couldn't let you go. I can make you happy Lena, I know that."

"What about this makes you an asshole?" Lena frowns, long past bristling at things Kara says. Maybe she's relaxing too. She refuses to comment on the happy piece, though.

"As if there isn't an entire list," Kara laughs. Then she shrugs. "Just, you know. Using your things. Being in your space. Showing up again after hurting you. I tried to - is it okay if I say this?"

"Yeah," Lena nods.

"I tried to respect your wishes," she continues. "I tried to - the truth is that I don't know if I should have let you run away that day."

Lena sighs and presses her hand to her forehead, sweater sleeves covering it so just her fingertips are peeking out. "It was complicated, I think. It still is, but I don't know what I would have done without the space. But I'm glad you're here now."

"You're sure?" Kara looks at her warily. "I don't want to overstep, not when it seems like we're actually getting somewhere. I don't want to be where you don't want me to be, not after everything I did."

"There isn't an everything," Lena says, because there was just that one thing, and it hurt like hell, but. It seems there may have even been a half-decent explanation for that. "I want to fix this as much as you do, alright? I can't do that while pushing you away."

Kara hums, like she's glad to hear that, then she picks up the kettle once it's ready, hovers her face over it for a second, and - and, Lena could swear she uses her icy breath before she pours two mugs and hands one to Lena.

Lena lets their fingers tangle on the mug for just a second. Then she pulls it away. The tea is exactly the perfect temperature to drink in gulps, she realizes, and--so, there's this thing happening.

It could be an illusion, her imagination tricking her since she's been alone for so long, but she can swear Kara is watching her as she drinks her tea, as she cups the mug close to her face for the warmth, eyes tracing over Lena's hair and nose and mouth. 

She could swear Kara's looking at her mouth.

But no. Doesn't mean anything. After all, Lena pretty much accepted she fucked them ever dating when she torched their friendship and moved away to Ireland. It's one of the thousands of things that keeps her up at night.

But she is not going to throw away them actually fixing their friendship, even if more than anything she wants this to be more than that.

 

"Come on." Kara stretches her hand out to Lena, her grin bright and her hip canted to the side. In the brightness of the afternoon sunlight flooding the room, Kara's eyes are a sharp, clear blue. "I say we go for a walk. You've got all this land, and it needs to be explored."

"I don't think there's much to see, just a bunch of grass," Lena laughs, softly, brushing the tangles off her forehead, hair still scattered and messy from sleep. Kara practically bounced her out of bed just for... a walk? "Seriously, I mean it, there's just grass and trees. Rocks. A river."

Kara takes a step closer. "First off, what's wrong with grass and trees? Second -" Her eyes flicker a little more seriously, like she's trying to communicate to Lena to trust her, but she's scared to say it out loud. Lena grabs her hand right away. "It'll be fun, okay?"

 

Turns out Kara planned a picnic under a tree, on top of grass, next to a river where there are lots of rocks and Lena suddenly rethinks belittling those things because everything is perfect right down to the finger sandwiches and the NASA blanket.

"So I know we've had a lot of weird talks lately," Kara says, sucking mayo off her index finger, like she's allowed to be suggestive after she shoved her tongue in Lena's mouth back in that alley all those months ago. "But mind if we have one more?"

Lena doesn't mind at all.

She's spent a week living with Kara, and she's convinced that if she ever tries to go even twelve hours without her again, she'd disintegrate. She doesn't know whether she should scold herself or congratulate for the apparent amount of strength it took to walk away.

"This isn't about the WiFi again, right? I told you not even I could fix a lack of satell--"

"Not that," Kara says, eyes glimmering like they always do. Lena's not sure how she was ever mad at her, and--she's not discounting that she was, and Kara's told her four times she deserved to be--but she doesn't want to remember how she got there. "We kissed, remember?"

"Like I could forget," Lena gushes, blushes, then shoves her hands in her lap and finds an immediate interest in the flow of the river.

She can see how hard Kara's grinning even without her eyes on her. "That's all I wanted to talk about, we can go back to complaining about the WiFi now."

 

In all fairness of shit being full circle, it happens in an Irish pub.

And Lena's not talking about her dragging Kara into watching The Walking Dead since she already had it downloaded on her laptop. She's not talking about the way she's used that as an excuse for snuggles and cuddles because, "Zombies are the worst, I'm scared, Kara."

She's not talking about them watching in bed with the blanket thrown over both of them, Lena secretly inching closer each time she flinches. She's not talking about them falling asleep together and waking up with Kara's arm around her.

She's talking about this happening:

Kara suggests they go drinking, and that in itself should be a warning.

Thing is, though, Lena loves spending time with her, feels like her head's clear now and it's making it a lot easier to work on rebuilding her trust and work on getting back to what they were, but better. So she's a couple beers in and relaxed, head leaned on Kara's shoulder, holding hands.

Anyway, yes. Everything's led up to this: the first kiss, her running away dumbly, Kara finding her, Kara chopping wood, Laura and her treats, that stupid NASA blanket that came out of nowhere, and well.

Well, that all makes this logical, right? Right.

It's completely logical when Kara leans down and brushes her lips against Lena's cheek, that Lena turns and presses their lips together.

They're not perfect yet, far from it, and maybe they'll never be. But who cares, really, because Lena will heal and she trusts Kara won't hurt her again. She trusts she'll always have Kara, and she trusts Kara can make her as happy as she says she can.

So, really, who cares about all their imperfections, when Kara's eyes are bright and she's leaning in to kiss Lena again. Who cares about the one lie Kara's told, when she's spent so much time working to be the best person she can possibly be outside of that.

Lena knows that she sure doesn't. She doesn't care about that, not anymore. She's not going to let it ruin something this good for her.

More importantly, she's never going to give up kissing Kara again. Not if she can help it.