“You’re acting like an idiot child,” Lena whisper-yells. She’s crouched in Alex Danvers’s tiny, shitty bathroom in her dorm room, while Alex sits in the tiny, shitty shower. Alex is cowering in the corner of the shower because Maggie Sawyer just texted asking when she was getting to her New Year’s Eve party, and Alex is incurably, awfully in love with her. “Get out of the shower.”
“ You’re acting like a child,” Alex whisper-yells back. They’re whisper-yelling because Kara Danvers, Alex’s little sister and their happy-go-lucky hangers-on for the night is sitting on Alex’s dorm room couch waiting for Lena to quote “finish up with Alex’s makeup.” But really, Alex is sitting in her shower, probably getting the nice leather pants Lena had bought her for Christmas wet.
“Look, we have to go,” Lena says in her most reasonable tone. “Kadir, our very nice Lyft driver, is sitting out front and has been very graciously waiting for the last ten minutes. I’m not prepared to take a hit to my passenger rating because you don’t know how to deal with your feelings.”
“I know how to deal with my feelings,” Alex throws back testily. “Sitting in the shower is a perfectly -”
“Alex,” Lena grinds out, crossing her arms and putting on her sternest glare. It doesn’t quite work. Alex’s expression merely sours in response, but Lena refuses to relent. “It’s time to get off your ass and make a move both to the Lyft and with Maggie because if you don’t, I very well might kill you.”
“You don’t understand,” Alex all but groans, her head tossing back enough that Lena winces when she hears it hit against the tiles behind her. “You don’t know what it’s like to be like this. Just take Kara and go without me and I’ll meet you guys later, alright?”
“First of all, shove off for thinking you have some sort of monopoly on falling in love,” Lena says, holding up one perfectly manicured, forest green finger. “ Second, I’m not going to a party with your baby sister who I’ve spoken to six times and only half of them while I was sober. Last night at the bar she almost puked up her Fireball shot.”
The memory seems to jar Alex out of her misery just the slightest, her lips stretching into a slight smile and shoulders relaxing. “In her defense, she repeatedly told all of us she did not like cinnamon. I mean she never has, she tried to do that stupid cinnamon challenge when we were fourteen and she puked then too.”
“Exactly, she’s a puker.”
Alex rolls her eyes, but laughs. “She’s harmless. You’ll be fine.”
“She spent the whole night flirting with our bartender,” Lena says. “About Taylor Swift no less.”
“You like Taylor Swift, I’ve seen your Spotify playlists,” Alex says before sighing heavily. “You’re right, Kadir will only wait so long. So go ahead. Save your Lyft rating. I’ll be right behind you guys.”
“Uh, can I like, come in?” comes the lilting voice of Alex’s tall, blonde adoptive sister. The bathroom is really only so big, Lena wants to say, but Alex is looking at the door like a lifeline.
“Yeah, yep,” Alex says. Kara slowly pushes the door open. Lena doesn’t really have anywhere to go but toward the toilet as Kara takes up the space Lena had previously been occupying. Kara is wearing a sweatshirt and jean jacket, khakis, a pair of Clarks boots on her feet, her hair in a loose fishtail braid. Kara is so gay that Lena could feel it the very first time that she ever saw a picture of her, Alex triumphantly showing her sister winning some sort of journalism award at her high school.
Of course, Lena had also clocked Alex within milliseconds, and not just because they were both trying to flirt with the same girl in their intro to biology class.
The saddest part about the whole thing is that neither of them have managed to tell the other; Alex mostly because she only figured it out a year ago, and Kara well...who knows. The girl’s a mystery beyond the sphere of Lena’s life.
“Why are you sitting in the shower?” Kara asks, a smile on her face as she leans against the sink.
“It’s comfortable,” Alex says, straightening as if to prove her point. “For makeup application.”
“Sure,” Kara agrees, easily, a shoulder shrugging before she puts her arms back and leans further. She’s got her sleeves rolled up because Alex’s dorm has no temperature regulation and it’s hot as balls. The only reason Lena hasn’t started sweating buckets is because her dress is shorter than sin. “Are you gonna get out of the shower anytime?”
“What are you, the shower police?” Alex says with a defensive gesture of her head.
Kara glances Lena’s way with a roll of her eyes that’s meant to be conspiratorial. But Lena’s still a little resentful at being forced to listen to Kara and the bartender last night taking over the TouchTunes account at the bar and play nonstop Taylor. Even if Kara was a pretty good singer and made sure to inquire after Lena’s favorites.
“I feel like I should be honest here,” Kara says. “I know that you’re into Maggie and that’s why you’re sitting in the shower freaking out. And I also think you should get out of the shower and put Kadir out of his misery before he cancels on us. I mean, you’re never going to get around to kissing Maggie if you just live in the shower the rest of your life.”
Alex’s jaw drops open at the same time Lena’s does, a shocked, offended noise coming out. Kara leaves no room for argument.
“And before you start saying that you aren’t into her, you told me that you were on your birthday when you were drunk and you Facetimed me at four in the morning,” Kara says. “I also have known that you were gay since I knew I was bi, so like, everyone here is gay and we all want to have a good time, alright?”
“How do you know Lena’s gay?” Alex asks, her voice wavering like she may burst into tears. She hasn’t even had any rum yet. Kara glances again at Lena, her lips quirking upward for a second, but it isn’t conspiratorial this time - it’s something closer to appraisal, Kara’s arms flexing against the fabric of her shirt as she shifts herself up from leaning backward and crosses them. Lena feels it in that very certain way, shifts against the wall she’s leaning against and feels a little heat come into her cheeks.
“I have a very good gaydar,” Kara says, her eyes dropping heavily away from Lena to settle back on her sister and offer her a hand. “Will you get out of the shower now? Kadir’s gonna ruin Lena’s rating.”
Maggie’s apartment building is a ramshackle two bedroom she splits with a gay guy she “met on Tinder,” however that works. According to her reporting, the guy is in Italy with his sugar daddy and keeps sending Maggie Snapchats of buckets of wine.
“I fucking hate him,” is how Maggie greets them, angrily typing into Snapchat right there in the doorway to her apartment. Lena has been forced into the leading position, with Alex hovering just behind her, and Kara lingering in the hallway looking around. Every time she shifts, a floorboard in the hallway creaks. Lena’s got half a mind to turn around and smack her.
“Anyway,” Maggie says, pocketing her phone and taking her first honest look at them. “Hey fuckos! Oh my God, Danvers, is this your sister? Holy shit!”
Maggie barrels past both Lena and Alex and all but throws herself into Kara, who takes the assault with some grace, stumbling a little bit but letting Maggie manhandle her with two hands on her biceps and an appraising look in her expression.
“Uh, hi?” Kara says, laughing a little. Her eyes glance toward Lena in pure panic. Lena’s getting the sense that Maggie’s done some tequila shots.
“Danvers, your sister might be just as snacky as you are,” Maggie says, her hands wandering up Kara’s arms until they’re gripping into Kara’s shoulder muscles. Kara is laughing very nervously, while Alex looks as though she’s been clubbed in the face, or like she might puke. As ever, the situation’s handling falls to Lena.
It’s not even that she particularly cares if Maggie Sawyer wants to climb Kara Danvers like a tree - judging by the way her eyes are wandering over Kara’s traps and down her chest, that’s liable to happen at any moment - it’s more concern for how Alex is feeling about the current situation that has her stepping closer.
The change in proximity gets Maggie to at least release Kara from her hold and when Lena places her own hand on Kara’s bicep and smiles, the kind of smile Lillian usually gives to people, it’s with enough caged hostility that even the tequila swirling in Maggie’s head doesn’t stop her from taking three steps back. “Oh, hey, Lena, sup, okay - ”
With half a laugh and a tipsy smile, Maggie puts her hands in front of her as if to ward off attack and moves back enough that she bumps - falls really - into Alex, who catches her quite easily and becomes immediately enamored with the drunken way Maggie marvels at her.
“Wow, shit, what does your mom feed you two?” Maggie says, grabbing ahold of Alex’s arm where it’s wrapped around her middle. This is a successful distraction for Alex, who goes pink. “Come on, let’s go do body shots!”
And then Maggie is half-dragging Alex inside, to a chorus of yells of excitement from the mass of people inside Maggie’s apartment. Kara takes a deep breath, adjusting her jean jacket/sweatshirt combo in a nervous fidget that has Lena looking away lest she find it endearing.
“Do you always attract drunk women?” Lena jokes, thinking of finding Kara in the bar bathroom last night giving relationship advice to a very drunk girl fixing her mascara and leaning heavily against Kara’s shoulder near the hand dryers.
Kara makes a noncommittal sort of noise and shrugs off the question. “Thanks for the assist,” she says, reaching forward for the door before it falls closed, leaning against the wood of it as she hovers in the doorway. She turns a smile on Lena that reminds her of Alex’s most genuine, megawatt smiles, like when Lena brings her an old fashioned or when her favorite crossfit personality or whatever posts a new YouTube video. Lena wonders if Alex learned it from Kara. “You ready?”
Kara’s holding the door open for her. She’s looking at Lena with soft blue eyes. And Lena is wondering a lot of things about Kara that Alex has never bothered to share.
“Sure,” Lena says, and when she crosses through the doorway, Kara’s hand rests briefly on her back.
Lena’s busy contemplating ethics as the clock winds closer to midnight. Ethics is a heady thing to be contemplating at any point in time - she spends a lot of her brainspace on the whole question of ethics in science, blah blah. But ethics when you’ve had a few shots of tequila, a few fruit punch/vodka concoctions, and now, champagne? It’s just circles on and on in Lena’s head.
The heart of her ethical problem is below her. Kara is a very comfortable seat in the very crowded apartment, warm as a furnace, her hand pressed into the velvet of Lena’s too-short dress at her hip. In the hours Lena has slipped past tipsy to drunk in Maggie’s dark apartment, she’s acquired: Kara’s full attention, gained largely because she’s the only person Kara knows at this party; Kara’s jacket, because when she sat down on the plush leather couch next to Kara, she nearly flashed the entire room; Kara’s sweatshirt, because someone opened a window near them and it was cold as Hoth in Metropolis; and then, finally, Kara’s hand, placed ostensibly to keep Lena steady even though she’s mostly leaning back into Kara’s frame. Placed wordlessly and without any follow-up, her fingers sift occasionally against the fabric of Lena’s dress but don’t make any real moves.
Lena has not had many friends who were girls in this life. Alex was a rare, wonderful thing, a friend who never expected more from her than what was fair, who never expected Lena to pay for things or get her ins with whoever. Alex was smart, and loyal to a fault, and Lena loved her like a sister, felt genuinely that her life would be terribly different if she didn’t know Alex, hadn’t met her in bio and nearly thrown a scalpel at her head for inadvertently flirting with Emily Swearingen.
Alex’s sister, to put it shortly, is hot, and Lena is drunk, and she is, in general, uncertain of whether it’s alright to mount your best friend’s baby sister. A few years ago, Kara had broken up with some idiot named Mike Matthews at National City University and Alex had repeatedly told Lena that she was going to book a flight to “eviscerate him and feed him to feral pigs.” Lena had no intention of dating Kara. Lena had some emergent, intrusive thoughts about suggesting Kara’s hand move up her dress. But she knew enough of Alex to know that eviscerating was the kind of thing Alex held in reserve when it came to Kara.
“How much do I owe you for the Lyft here?” Kara asks through a hum, her head stretched back on the back of the couch they’re ensconced on. She’s got a red Solo cup of champagne so generously passed out by one of Maggie’s friends in her hand along with a rum and Coke. Her cheeks are a pleasant blush pink. Lena’s hands, incidentally, are pressed into the sweaty skin of Kara’s neck. For balance.
“You don’t,” Lena says, waving it off.
Kara shakes her head. “I’ll get the one back.”
“We’re going different places,” Lena says. Kara snorts, raising up her hand and her two cups, attempting to get the rum into her mouth without upsetting the champagne. When she accidentally elbows the dude next to her, she mumbles an apology.
“Yeah, Alex has her dorm keys, and she and Maggie disappeared ten minutes ago,” Kara says. “I think I might be crashing on your couch tonight.”
“You think I let strangers into my apartment?” Lena asks with a haughty lift of her brow. Kara shrugs, lifting Lena’s arm on her shoulder with it.
“Strangers seems harsh,” Kara says. “We Facetimed that one time on Alex’s birthday. And we’ve spent almost all night together.”
“Ah, yes,” Lena says in a sage tone. “We’ve truly bonded.”
Kara laughs. “Well, at the very least, I do finally understand what Alex says when Eliza asks about your major and she just says “smartass.” So like, we could be like, acquaintances, maybe.”
“Maybe,” Lena agrees. Right now, drunk and warm and intrigued, she doesn’t feel like questioning the logic involved here. Ethics smethics. The whole room starts changing at the fifteen second mark, people throwing their arms around strangers. Kara glances around and grins big.
“I love New Year’s,” Kara says. “I like feeling the air of possibility, you know? Feels like, for one second, anything could happen. Maybe I’ll get a gym membership or something.”
“Are you telling me you have traps like these and no gym membership?” Lena asks, her hand slipping down and squeezing at the muscles now on display in Kara’s simple white t-shirt. Kara laughs, and her legs shift, and her hand shifts too, a little, because she’s kicked her legs up enough that Lena’s tilted more on her side, and Kara’s pinky almost barely is on her ass.
“I walk dogs on Wag, and one of them is this massive Bernese,” Kara says. “Think it’s gotta be that.”
“Gotta be,” Lena agrees, because she’s getting half a sense of that air of possibility as the clock winds down. Kara is looking at her, and she’s looking right back. When the clock strikes zero, and the whole room lets out a loud cheer, and the fireworks go off, Lena’s lips are on Kara’s.
“Alexa, play - ”
“Do not play “Last Christmas” again or I will shiv you,” Lena says. Alex huffs. Alexa makes her customary noise of confusion. Sorry, I don’t understand. “Please, for the love of God, put on something more than boxers.”
“These are my depression boxers,” Alex says. “Stop yelling at me.”
“Our friends, whom we have cultivated very seriously in the last year, are coming over in less than two hours,” Lena says. “Our friends are people we want to look presentable for. That means at least sweatpants, but preferably jeans. That means no crying to Wham! because you broke up with your long distance girlfriend.”
“You don’t have to bring it up,” Alex groans. She’s leant against their kitchen counter in her terrible Santa boxers and is shoveling popcorn in her mouth. Lena has half a mind to dump the whole container over her head.
“Your sister is also coming early,” Lena says, and Alex groans louder, looking up at the ceiling in desolation. Lena has now spent enough time around Kara to understand that there must have been something in the water in Midvale, because both Danvers sisters are so dramatic that they make the Luthors look like generally reserved people. And the moment Lena says it, her watch buzzes, revealing a message from kara the great, the name Kara had chosen to put in Lena’s phone at eleven at night of New Year’s Eve, shortly before they had kissed for the first, and last time.
i have a bottle of pinot for u and a whisky for alex but do u need anything else? i found a liquor store open amazingly
“What if we just cancel?” Alex mutters having abandoned the act of shoving popcorn in her mouth for just looking forlornly into the tin. Lena pulls her phone out to reply.
Bring a corkscrew to stab your sister.
Kara’s response comes quickly:
i’ll get 2 bottles of pinot then, thanks for sharing with me :)
“Put some pants on,” Lena orders. “We’re not cancelling.”
“Who are you texting with your stupid face?” Alex asks, drawing her eyes up from the popcorn to peer towards Lena’s phone.
On instinct, Lena shields the screen, but glares at Alex. “Your sister, who will be here soon, and if you don’t have pants on by then I will have her hold you down while I dress you myself.”
Alex makes an offended kind of sound that makes Lena roll her eyes right back down to her phone.
Get three bottles so I can hit Alex over the head with one.
“You and Kara’s unholy alliance is fucked, you know that? I’m heartbroken, Lena,” Alex whines, even as Lena tosses her phone onto the counter and moves toward the oven. She’s been tasked with baking cookies, which, for simple chemistry, is proving very complicated. “Don’t you care?”
“Alex, you are my very best friend in this world, but I swear to God, if I hear another thing about how heartbroken you are, I will friendship break up with you,” Lena says. “I am very sorry that you are sad. But that doesn’t mean that life stops or that you can just not shower or wear pants and only eat snacks. Snacks are not meals.”
When she turns back to look from the oven, Alex is looking at Lena with soft eyes like she’s seconds from bursting into tears.
“You’re my best friend too,” Alex says, but it sounds nothing short of pitiful and Lena is forced to engage Alex in a hug then. “I’m sorry I’m the worst.”
“You are not the worst,” Lena says, gently patting Alex on the back of the head. “But, you do smell very bad.”
“Okay, I get it. I’m gonna go shower,” Alex says, sniffling.
Kara arrives with a backpack full of beer and two bags full of drinks. Most of it is trash, of course, but the three bottles of pinot noir she hands over to Lena as they work to fill the counter and fridge are nicer than anything else.
“Those are for us,” Kara says, with her usual secretive grin that she tends to keep only for Lena. “Hide ‘em away. Lucy’s got the nose of a bloodhound for good shit.”
“Noted,” Lena says. Kara is dressed already for the party, in tight dark jeans and a blazer that cuts shockingly well for someone who is currently employed as an administrative assistant. Though she supposes being Cat Grant’s assistant requires somewhat more decorum than any other old job. “Did we hear back from Kelly and James?”
“They’re bringing mac and cheese and corn on the cob, I guess,” Kara says. “I think they sent it to the wrong group text. Like, what was the point of creating a chat literally named Friendmas Celebration if they’re going to just use whatever old threads there are lying around?”
“I suppose that’s the one you all use to gossip about me,” Lena says. Kara laughs, leaning against the counter and crossing her arms.
“Oh yeah, we chat all the time about you,” Kara says. “Oh, Lena’s gone and started trying to cure cancer. What an ass. Things like that.”
“I’d believe it,” Lena says. Kara is smiling at her still, like how she always does, like she remembers perfectly well what their kiss was like and thinks about it on occasion. They haven’t talked about it, even through the events of the last year: waking up on New Year’s Day with a blinding headache and puking her guts out, moving to National City with Alex and seeing Kara now at least once a week, then every few days, and now so often that it’s hard not to see her. The air of possibility that had existed that night has taken its time, but it’s meandered its way onto an air of inevitability. When Kara comes and visits Lena at LuthorCorp over lunch, she always leads her out of her office with her hand on her back. When Lena goes to sleep, she always sends Kara a dumb gif to represent her day.
She thinks about Kara. About what it would be like if she, one day, just climbed into Kara’s lap like she had while she was wasted last year.
“Sure,” Kara says. “Is there anything I can do to help you set up?”
“I think we’re all good,” Lena says. “Just, when Alex comes out of the shower, don’t let her listen to “Last Christmas.” If she makes me listen to it one more time, I will throw every device that makes sound out the window.”
And like another inevitability, Kara starts singing that dreaded song. It’s somewhat more palatable, especially when Kara draws her up into a loose, giggling dance.
The thing about it all is, once again, the question of ethics. Kara dances her around and around as the Alexa plays various Christmas songs while Alex takes an absurdly long time to shower, and when it’s clear that they’re done dancing, they collapse on the couch and Lena pretends to be unaware that her knee ends up pressing into Kara’s thigh or that Kara’s hand reaches out to splay on the inside of that same knee. The ethics of very badly wanting to again kiss your best friend’s sister are really very questionable, especially in the setting of your best friend’s recent and traumatic breakup.
“You think she’s drowning herself?” Kara asks. Lena hums, takes a sip of the wine Kara had so gracefully poured after a ten minute battle with the cork. Alex’s shower is still going in the background.
“I’m thinking fantasy roleplay scenario where Maggie shows up to win her back at dinner tonight,” Lena says.
“Oh, of course,” Kara says, her fingers tapping individually into the fabric of Lena’s jeans. She’s grinning, her wine glass held against her other thigh, the one not occupied by Lena’s knee. “When she and her middle school best friend had some sort of falling out slash break up, I heard her blasting “Helena” by My Chemical Romance and screaming I never liked you anyway. ”
“Oof. Talk about the real universal lesbian experience,” Lena says. Kara grins, big, her head tilting on the back of the couch to look at Lena with bright blue eyes. The sun is setting fast behind her, and it’s shadowing her face in some parts, light streaming in around her silhouette. What are the ethics of telling your best friend’s sister she’s gorgeous?
“I was thinking we could go to the marina for New Year’s this year, maybe,” Kara says. “Sidespin, that stupid gay club with the wet t-shirt contests that we keep accidentally showing up for? They’re having a gay New Year’s party on their rooftop, so you can see the fireworks and shit. Maybe she’ll just - get over Maggie all of a sudden.”
“I feel like that ends with Alex blitzed and macking on some straight girl, and then me having to deal with her when she throws up on this very couch,” Lena counters dryly. Kara laughs, gulping her wine a little and still looking at Lena so intently. It reminds Lena so much of last New Year’s that she has to take a deep breath and a deep gulp as well.
“No, I’ve got a vision about how it’ll all go,” Kara says. “Team approach. We invite the whole Friendmas group. We all get blitzed. We make sure she kisses an actually gay or bisexual or pansexual girl. I stay the night here to help you out and she pukes in at least the bathroom.”
“You’re living in a dreamworld, Danvers,” Lena says, but she quirks a grin at Kara’s enthusiastic expression. Kara shrugs and squeezes at Lena’s knee. “How’s drunkenly kissing a girl gonna help her? Never helps anyone.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Kara says, her voice wheedling. They don’t spend a lot of time even alluding to last year, but Kara says it with a smile so soft and full of memory that Lena can’t help but reach out to smack her. “Hey! Violence is not the answer!”
“I happen to think violence works perfectly well,” Lena says.
“Depends what your goals are,” Kara says, voice full of exaggerated complaint as she rubs halfheartedly at her bicep.
“I think we should cancel Christmas,” comes Alex’s voice, from way down the hallway. They don’t disentangle so much as throw themselves away from each other, Kara almost spilling her wine in her haste to slam into the side of the couch. Alex appears in the entryway to the living room wrapped in a towel. “Kara.”
“Alex,” Kara replies, raising her wine glass and sounding way too nervous. “Hey. We aren’t cancelling Christmas.”
“Yes, we are. It’s cancelled,” Alex says, already moving toward the kitchen, probably for her stupid snacks. “Stop being alcohol hogs and pour me some of whatever you’re drinking!”
“You can’t have it, it’s ours,” Lena returns.
“Yeah, your beer is in the fridge,” Kara adds.
“It’s Christmas and you can’t give me the good shit?” Alex exclaims, the sounds of rummaging about the kitchen making Lena stand and stride after her.
“I thought Christmas was cancelled,” Kara throws back, laughing around the words even when Lena shoots her a glare that turns into a shared smile.
“Fuck you!” Alex shouts. “Alexa, play “Last Christmas”!”
“What the heck?” Kara huffs, staring at the television screen. It’s two in the morning, and Lena’s drunk, and she’s absolutely whipping Kara at Mario Party. “Are you some sort of savant?!”
Everyone’s left, except for Kara. Lena and Alex’s kitchen table is kind of a mess, wine bottles and champagne bottles and shot glasses and plates everywhere, along with about thirty sprigs of mistletoe that Winn had tried to hide in various places. Alex had gone to sleep almost seconds after the last stragglers had left, with a vague promise to help clean up and make pancakes tomorrow, and a sincere, come sleep in my bed, Kara, you’re wasted. I won’t wake up, I sleep with those stupid earplugs you got me.
“Sorry, darling,” Lena says. She’s not exactly sitting up normally, her legs thrown into Kara’s lap and Kara hunched over them, her elbows on her knees. Kara’s abandoned her blazer and is down to her grey t-shirt, in a pair of shorts she had borrowed from Alex. Lena is not sorry.
“You’re not sorry,” Kara huffs. Luigi hops his way around the board, his five stars and sixty coins putting him safely at the top of the leaderboard. Princess Daisy, who Kara had chosen accidentally, has only two stars and twelve coins. “Oh sure, why don’t you just - take my stars too? Who needs that many stars?”
“As my brother would say, victory is only achieved when your enemies have no hope,” Lena says with a haughty lift of her chin. “Isn’t that cheerful? He’s an ass.”
“Jesus,” Kara mutters, shaking her Switch controller vigorously until Daisy rolls a measly three that ends up on a bad luck space. “Oh, come on . This game is rigged. Did you hack it or something?”
“Yes, I hacked the game so you would hate me forever,” Lena says, putting air quotes around hacked and rolling her eyes. “Luck has nothing to do with our current in-game circumstances.”
“I knew it,” Kara says. A minigame starts up and Kara shoots Lena a look heavy enough that Lena’s chest constricts. “You know, I like this dress you have on.”
Lena completely misses how to play the minigame, because she hits accept without watching the preview, and runs her down the dress she had changed to for the Friendmas party. By the time she looks back up, Kara is very focused on the screen, her controller held out in front of her and grasped tightly. Lena copies her hold when the game comes up on a frying pan with a small meat cube on it.
“Thank you,” Lena says softly, watching as the game clock counts down and Kara starts flipping the cube around by flicking her controller up. It takes Lena a few precious seconds to understand what’s happening, and Kara’s already gone and seared two sides by the time Lena realizes she needs to flip. So she does what any self-respecting Luthor would do. “Is it the tits part or the legs part?”
Kara isn’t actively drinking anything, but she still sounds like she chokes, her head turning to look at Lena. This moment allows Lena to artfully, drunkenly, flip the meat cube around to pick up a sear on her remaining sides. The game ends, and Kara is still staring at her.
“What’s wrong?” Lena asks, raising an eyebrow Kara’s way. Kara narrows her eyes.
“That was rude,” Kara says. “I was giving you a compliment that was platonic in presentation.”
“But was it platonic in motivation?” Lena asks. Kara blinks at her. The game is making its little Mario noises in the background.
“Even though you like, know the answer to that question,” Kara starts, blinking some more and reaching up to rub at her cheeks, which are red and which Lena wants to press her own hands to. “I’d kiss you again. And then some.”
Lena’s body goes hot at the dip in Kara’s tone over the and then some . “Would you?”
“I would,” Kara answers, abandoning her controller to the mess of the coffee table in front of them and facing Lena more fully. “Would you be interested?”
“Yeah,” Lena says, softly, as Kara looks at her softly too. “I haven’t decided about the ethics, though.”
“Okay,” Kara says, nodding as if she understands what Lena means. “Because Alex.”
“Because Alex,” Lena returns with a nod of her own. The Alex factor complicates it all far more than she’s really ready to acknowledge. They’re not technically talking about anything more than a one-night stand, but Lena’s brain can’t help but spiral. What if it’s more than one night, what if it becomes several nights, what if it gets serious, what if it sours, what if Alex has to pick sides?
Lena has to shake the fear out of her mind and focus on the moment, on the way Kara seems to take a few seconds to digest the ethics of their current situation.
It helps when Kara seems to have made her decision, locking eyes with Lena once again, heat in the connection. “I still want to kiss you,” Kara confesses in a quiet rush of words.
A beat, Lena takes a breath. “I’m still interested.”
Kara smiles. “For the record, it wasn’t either part specifically, just like the - whole thing. All of it. Your dress, I mean.”
“That’s nice,” Lena says, cheeks feeling flush. Kara looks at her, eyes wide. It feels like time has all started to freeze up in bits and pieces around them. Lena can’t hear Mario anymore, can’t see the mess in her kitchen. Just Kara. “Kiss me?”
The first thing that happens is that Lena gets almost fully knocked back into the couch, Kara presses so close and mostly on top of her. The second thing is that Lena reaches up to press her hand into the soft hair on Kara’s head and also, coincidentally, hits her with the Switch controller still clutched in her fingers.
“Ow,” Kara says, muffled against Lena’s lips. But she’s smiling, presses back into kissing her. Kara is a good kisser. When they had kissed last year, it had been a sort of gentle, intense, focused burst of passion. She had been a good kisser then, of course, but this was better because Kara was moving her lips and her hands were sliding along the fabric of Lena’s dress, up her sides.
Lena throws the Switch controller somewhere that does not sound safe, considering the loud noise it makes when it collides with the ground, and this time when she slides her hand into Kara’s hair and grips, Kara moans. Lena feels every individual finger of Kara’s hands dig into her ribs on one side and her hip on the other, their legs sliding against each other as Kara settles along the length of her.
“You okay?” Kara asks, before she presses one gentle kiss at Lena’s eyebrow, funnily enough, wet and shockingly endearing. Lena can already feel how wet she is, but this act more than anything else seals her fate.
“Yeah,” Lena says, her hand sliding down Kara’s neck until it gets under the collar of her t-shirt and along the skin of her glorious, absurd traps. “Let’s go to the bedroom.”
“Dunno what’s wrong with the couch,” Kara huffs, even though she starts sliding off Lena and the couch, her knees hitting the ground with a thunk that sounds painful but that Kara pays no attention to. “It’s passionate. Like we can’t control ourselves long enough to get to a bed.”
“This couch was expensive, and Alex has already spilled coffee on it too many times,” Lena says. “I’m not adding any stains if I can help it.”
“Oh, stains,” Kara says, standing up from her kneeling position and grabbing for Lena’s hands. She pulls hard enough that Lena can stand in one motion, their bodies colliding again and Kara’s arms wrapping tight around her waist. It feels a little bit like they’ve both been waiting for this, Kara’s hands hungry and knowing and warm as they press into Lena’s spine and trace there. Like Kara could close her eyes and find her way without ever having touched Lena like this before. “Good pillow talk, babe.”
“Plus, I don’t keep my accoutrements in the living room,” Lena says, her arms winding their way around Kara’s shoulders, and for a second, it’s like they’re dancing all over again. Kara’s eyes are a beautiful blue, something closer to cobalt as the dark of her pupils overtake them slowly. Lena finds her thumb tracing at the curl of Kara’s ear, bumping the frame of her glasses. Kara smiles.
“Accoutrements, huh?” Kara says, in an exaggerated French accent and with an accompanying eyebrow waggle. She can’t really do it the way Lena can, so her whole face moves with it, and Lena laughs. “Tell me more.”
“I’ll show you,” Lena says, stepping forward until Kara is moving backward, and then they’re kissing all over again. They manage to arrive all in one piece. A Christmas miracle.
Lena wakes up to Kara nearly faceplanting on Lena’s bed in her effort to shove shorts onto her legs. She’s still missing a top. There’s the beginnings of dawn starting to sift through Lena’s bedroom curtains, and Alex always wakes up just after dawn.
“You have my shirt,” Kara huffs, leaning onto the bed and tugging at the fabric of the shirt Lena’s wearing. It is indeed Kara’s, the soft grey one that Lena had managed to get off of Kara somewhere in the middle of being pushed to the bedroom. “Give it.”
Kara sounds not just rushed but still a little sleepy, her hair stuck up all over her head. There’s a little trail of lipstick at her collarbone. Lena gives the shirt up, and gets the satisfaction of Kara’s eyes fixating on her chest.
“Good morning to you too,” Lena says. Her voice is still a little strained, probably because they only fell asleep two hours ago and her head feels a little thicker than she’d like, but not the kind of pounding headache that precedes a vicious hangover.
“Good morning,” Kara says, clambering more fully onto the bed and leaning over Lena to press a warm and lingering kiss to her lips. “Sorry to wake you up, I just woke up and realized I needed to move to the couch unless we want Alex finding us like this.”
“Ethics,” Lena says. Kara snorts, kissing her again, a warm hand arriving at her rib cage.
“I want to do this again,” Kara says. “To be clear. And if things shake out in a good way - ”
“We can figure out how to tell her then,” Lena finishes, her hands sifting into Kara’s hair and feeling her weight come down more. There’s a smile between them too, a matching one on each of their lips. Lena feels about the best she could on two hours of sleep. “Very mature for someone who still can’t do Fireball shots.”
“I can do Fireball shots. You just pour them too thick,” Kara whispers back, rolling her eyes at Lena’s smirk. One more heavy kiss. “See you out there. Go back to sleep.”
Lena falls back to sleep, but only so far as an hour or so, when she’s woken up by the Danvers sisters in her living room screaming the lyrics of “Last Christmas.”
It isn’t Lena’s fault. Emphatically. She had clocked out on a late Christmas Eve Eve shift at LuthorCorp and she had driven home in that way you do where you look back on that time on the road and feel guilty about having driven at all. She had driven home in the sense that she parked her car in the lot behind the apartment, said hi to the gorgeous little bulldog puppy that’s been parading around the building, and got in the elevator before she realized she was not on her way to her and Alex’s apartment, where Alex was surely furiously shooting Five Hour Energies to study for her finals.
“Hey,” Kara says, when she opens the door. She’s still in her dress pants from work, but has managed to change into some band t-shirt, like she was in the middle of changing before she got distracted. Her janky laptop is thrown open at her tiny little card table functioning as her desk slash kitchen table. “Didn’t expect you. Did you just leave work?”
Lena finds herself on autopilot again, stepping forward and into her friend-girlfriend’s arms. Kara is warm, strong, alive, all those things that Lena likes, and she laughs a little while wrapping her arms around Lena. They haven’t exactly had time to discuss the semantics of what’s happening between them, considering Lena slept with Kara on Christmas, and then New Year’s, and then immediately got sent to Dubai for a hare-brained real estate endeavor that Lex had come up with, and then had promptly been there for four months.
Things had habits of falling into place; centrifugal force and all that. They had managed to build time for each other, stolen kisses and nights around busy work schedules as Kara got a raise and a promotion and started chasing down stories, but eight months of studious avoidance of advances at bars from possible mates did not a relationship make. Lena was pretty sure that they were dating, and that she probably loved Kara, Big loved her, and that Kara sometimes looked at her like she felt it too.
So Lena didn’t mind ignoring Alex’s various requests for double dates or her mother insisting that she knew a very nice girl from France who probably killed babies, and she didn’t care all that much that she kept a toothbrush and an extra bottle of her hairspray at Kara’s. It was theirs, whatever the hell it was.
And sure, they had avoided having the talk of what are we with aplomb, finding ways to take Lyfts home together from nights out or Lena claiming a business trip to go on a weekend escapade with Kara in Coast City. And Alex had asked repeatedly after “whoever it is you’re sneaking off with”, and Lena had found ways to not give an answer that question. But with every successive time she was with Kara and felt undeniably, terribly good about everything - it became clearer that not telling Alex was less and less of an option. She felt safe with Kara, good with Kara, happy with Kara in a way she never had. The thought that had occurred to her a year ago - what if it all went wrong - was now hovering over her like the sword of Damocles. It would be a double heartbreak, now, to lose Kara and Alex in one fell swoop.
And so they didn’t talk about it, and Lena sunk deeper and deeper with every fear that it could also disappear. The only thing that made it feel even the slightest bit okay is that she knew Kara was there with her.
“You gotta stop working these long hours,” Kara murmurs, her nose ducked into Lena’s hair. Somewhere around her, Lena hears the door close gently and feels her body getting maneuvered into Kara’s tiny weird loft apartment, a softness seeping into her bones at the very look of it. There’s something telling that when Lena sits on the couch, or the dilapidated card table, or the edge of Kara’s bed, she feels good, settled. Even though her childhood bedroom was larger than this apartment. If it’s not an indication of how deep in this Lena is, she’s not sure what is, but she does a good job at shoving that feeling into a box for unpacking at a later date. “You and Alex are feeding each other in a negative energy spiral of caffeine-fulled insanity.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Lena mutters, dropping her purse on the card table next to a stack of papers. “You’re working, too.”
“I just got off a phone call with a source from India,” Kara says, reaching for Lena’s coat and dropping a kiss on the skin of her shoulder left bare by the sweater she’s wearing. “Serious business. Fashion fraud. You wouldn’t understand.”
Kara’s coaxing her into one of the rickety rescue chairs Lena had made her check for termites before picking them up off the curbside. Alex had sprayed them with enough Raid that they semi-always gave anyone who sat in them a headache. Lena feels another wave of warmth when Kara kneels down and reaches for Lena’s heels, tugging them off gently even though they stick a little from sweat. Kara raises an eyebrow at the red bottom.
“You’re right, I wouldn’t understand fashion,” Lena says. Kara snorts, her hands pressing up Lena’s calves in a half-caress, half-massage, still kneeling. “Sorry for interrupting, you can keep working.”
“You’re okay,” Kara says, dropping a kiss to Lena’s knee and then frowning when she meets all stocking. Kara’s got a funny way of doing things like this that might be sexy or a prelude on anyone else’s intentions, but Lena just feels warm.
“I didn’t even realize I was on my way here until I was at your door,” Lena says. “Maybe I should sleep more. Though, this morning when I left, Alex was still up. I think she might be pushing thirty-six hours.”
“I’m hoping that if I spike her eggnog with Dayquil this weekend she’ll sleep for like, six days,” Kara says. “I’m gonna knock my rough draft out before I pass out. If you wanna lay down before me, I’ll be sad that we can’t watch TikTok but I will accept it.”
She says it with a little bit of a whine and a big puppy frown, like an idiot. Lena can’t believe she’s sort of dating her best friend’s sister who wants to watch TikToks before going to sleep instead of trying to feel her up like any normal person.
“Oh, you think I’m staying?” Lena asks as Kara pushes up off the ground and sits down, scoots her chair around until she can be in Lena’s range, her knee pressing into Lena’s as she wakes up her screensaver - a very stupid photo of Alex climbing on top of her back to reach a fire alarm high on a ceiling. Kara plucks her glasses up from her pile of papers and slips them on, giving a glance Lena’s way.
“If you aren’t staying, I’m driving you home,” Kara says, very firmly. “If you are staying, I will turn off all your alarms and make you a kale smoothie in the morning.”
“You have kale in this altar to junk food?” Lena says, glancing into the kitchen, where there’s no less than four different kinds of chip bags lined up neatly on the counter and pushed to the back. Kara’s knee is warm against hers as she opens up her word doc.
“You made me Instacart it last week when we emphatically did not watch Stag like you promised we would,” Kara says. Her lips are quirked, eyes focused on the screen, cheeks a little pink, considering Lena had all intention of letting herself get corralled into watching a vapid reality show for four hours straight, but Alex had cancelled, and then it was just Kara and Lena, and things had spiralled outward until Lena was treated to another session in Kara’s ongoing quest to find the perfect strap-on for hitting her g-spot.
“Poor baby,” Lena says. “I’m staying, but don’t you dare touch my phone.”
“You should have never let me put my face in it if you didn’t want me to have this sort of power,” Kara says, looking up when Lena stands, her feet sinking into the hardwood floors and groaning a little as her spine settles under gravity’s weight. “You okay?”
“I’m good,” Lena says. Another thing about the probability of Big love is that sometimes she looks at Kara and gets the sense that the words and actions she’s putting out are layered with meaning that she can’t help enjoining into them. She presses her hand on Kara’s shoulder, leans down, and Kara kisses her, soft, her hand reaching up to press gently into Lena’s hip thigh area. It’s the kind of touch that makes Lena feel how good she’s saying she is, to the point that it comes true under Kara’s hand.
“Go sleep,” Kara orders gently. “I’ll be there in a bit.”
Lena undresses on autopilot, dropping her clothes on the little bench at the foot of Kara’s bed where Kara likes to sit on put on her shoes and Lena likes to lie there and watch her, if she’s got that luxury. Kara’s bedroom is separated from her living room by a big hanging cloth thing, and it’s open, Kara’s back facing her from the little card table.
She has her own clothes here at this point, mostly things for sleeping and a few outfits for work just in case. She doesn’t bother with the drawer she’s accumulated, grabs a loose t-shirt of Kara’s off the television stand, and can feel in real time how deep she is when she climbs into bed on the side that she’s avoided calling hers but has a business book and about fourteen charging implements scattered around. She burrows her head into the pillow, draws the blankets up, and feels rest come over her as sudden as an oncoming train.
So, it isn’t really her fault. She had never meant to show up at Kara’s. That was an unintentional side effect of fatigue and affection and a developing routine.
What wakes Lena up is the Alexa on Kara’s bedside table suddenly bursting with the initial strains of “Santa Tell Me,” as performed by ingenue Ariana Grande. One second, Lena is peacefully asleep, semi-aware of Kara along her spine, and the next, Ariana is deafening her.
Kara bolts up, and can’t seem to place the noise for a second, her head turning this way and that. Lena has to shove her sideways to get her to realize that it’s coming from the Internet-connected speaker-wiretap, and then Kara just grabs the little thing and pulls it free from its power cable instead of going through the process of shouting at it.
“What the -” Kara huffs, and then she flops backward, dropping the thing on the ground. It makes an audible thunking noise. If it’s broken, Lena is not getting convinced to piece it back together. “What the hell was that?”
Lena is blinking still, sitting up as she tries to piece together day, time, location. There’s sunlight drifting in around Kara’s blinds, and streaming into the living room. When she plucks her phone off the nightstand, she sees that it’s 10am, which means Kara most certainly had used her powers for evil and turned off Lena’s alarms. She’s got about forty texts as well.
Jess: Glad to see you didn’t head in today. You deserve a good holiday. See you on the 2nd!
Winn: i don’t give a shit abt ur ego u bitch i’m gonna crush u at monopoly this is MY YEAR
James: I just opened up our Apple TV and I guess Winn’s been watching Monopoly strategy videos? Also, are you doing cookies again this year for Friendmas?
The texts from Alex fill the entire screen of her messaging app: do you think i’m a bad cardiologist if i have a heart attack via energy drinks
you better not be sleeping on your couch again i WILL come get you. i will make kara help me.
when did you turn off your find my friends. how am i supposed to know where you are. echolocation??? i’m not a fucking dolphin, lena
oh my god lena if you’re slutting it up with whoever it is you sneak off to bang every other week on christmas eve eve i will have to resort to stalking that’s fucked up i should meet her. OR HIM. i support you if you’re going through the tragedy of being attracted to a man
i mean, who bangs someone on christmas eve eve if it’s not serious. i know the rules i know you think i’ve been out of the dating game so long that i don’t but i DO so like when you get back to this apartment i’m going to force you to talk about it you big SLUT
why do you think five hour energy thinks i’m not supposed to have more than four in twenty-four hours when it’s five hours like doesn’t it make more sense for it to be five
“Come back,” Kara whines, clearly already half-asleep again, her hips shifting as she turns onto her side and drops an arm around Lena’s waist and starts tugging. Kara likes to sleep shirtless, so Lena gets a full view of the muscles of her arm up to her shoulder twitching and shifting.
Lena is a businesswoman, now, by rights. She’s negotiated deals and intimidated people into doing what she wants them to do. She next to never cows to another person’s demands, but something about Kara’s negotiation tactic works well; she sets her phone back on its charger and lies back down, shifting until Kara’s head lands on her shoulder, her body winding tighter. It’s nice. It’s stupid that it’s so nice.
As it turns out, “Santa Tell Me” was meant to be the prelude to the apocalypse. Kara’s door unlocks, Kara jerks awake again, and Lena sees the end of her life arrive suddenly in the form of a buzzed Alex Danvers jaunting through, blasting Ariana Grande from her phone, and turn to look through to the bedroom.
“Alex,” Kara starts, eyes impossibly wide as the beat of Lena’s heart revs from sedated to marathon-ing.
“Oh, you better hope I’m hallucinating,” Alex says, before she turns abruptly back around and heads out the door to Kara’s apartment.
There’s a moment of stunned silence as Lena is forced to process in rapid time the probability of the most important friendship in her life’s demise. Kara’s got one hand resting on Lena’s thigh overtop the blanket, but when Lena turns to look at her, she looks completely dumbfounded, mouth wide open and hair in disarray.
“Are you going to go after her?” Lena asks. Kara blinks.
“I thought you were going to go after her,” Kara says, her voice high-pitched and loud for what had been a peaceful morning only five minutes ago. Lena winces, and winces again when a shout comes from the hallway.
“I’m still here, assholes! You have two minutes before I come back in!” Alex yells, clearly pressed right up against the door.
“Shit,” Lena says, rolling out of bed fast enough that she almost careens into the window. Kara is similarly struggling to get from the sheets she’s ensconced in. She’s about to go sprinting into the next room when Lena stops her. “No. Put a shirt on.”
“Jesus,” Kara says, turning and grabbing the first shirt she sees, which happens to be a joke shirt Lucy gave her for her birthday last year that says Your mom didn’t think so. “Just like, as a theoretical, if she passes out, you know CPR right?”
“You were a lifeguard!” Lena huffs, pulling on a loose pair of shorts from a random drawer she opens.
“For one summer! And it was only because Addie Cortenson asked me to!” Kara says defensively, now dressed and moving into the living room. She picks up a pair of Lena’s pants that might have been left sometime a few days ago and launches them back toward the bedroom.
“Well, I hope Addie Cortenson at least was good in whatever poolhouse closet you two made out in,” Lena says. Kara laughs, loudly, as Lena heads into the bathroom and grabs for the dildo sitting out on the counter and throws that back toward the bedroom as well. By the time she makes it into the living room, Kara is standing there in the middle of the room, fingers spread out, arms at her side and eyes wide. When Lena crosses in front of her to open the door before Alex just storms back in, Kara grabs for her hand.
“Wait, do you have a plan?” Kara asks in a hush, big blue eyes on display because her glasses are still on the nightstand.
“I’m going to make sure she doesn’t kill either one of us, and then I’m winging it,” Lena says. Kara looks at her for a second, a big smile blooming on her face. It’s distracting, is what it is, a moment of calm horning its way into the crisis unfolding. Kara smiles at her and Lena gets that feeling again.
“Okay,” Kara says, her voice warm and one of her hands freeing one of Lena’s. “I love you.”
Lena doesn’t even get a chance to respond, even though she very much feels like saying it back. She hopes Kara gets enough of an impression of her response through her eyes or the grip she keeps on Kara’s hand. But Alex pushes the door open, and it nearly rebounds off the coat rack Kara has next to the door. She stares at the both of them as it closes behind her.
“You - ,” Alex says, face tightening on whatever word is threatening to burst out and pointing at both of them with her phone still in her hand. “You motherfuckers!”
“Alex,” Kara starts, but she clearly loses it, her eyes turning to Lena, big and blue.
“Alex, we can explain,” Lena says. Kara nods next to her, her hand squeezing at Lena’s. Alex makes a noise like she’s being strangled.
“Oh, you’re going to explain,” Alex says, very seriously. “After Kara makes me breakfast, because I’ve had so many Five Hour Energies that I might pass out.”
Kara cooks in the kitchen, which is separated from the living room by a half-wall. Lena has an urge in her to just leave Alex at the card table and go to her; to kiss her and hold her hand and feel via her presence that this will be okay. That Alex will not smash her head in with a textbook one night.
But she gets the sense that that might make things worse. So she sits at the card table, and Alex does too, her hand fiddling with a little stress ball shaped like a dog that Kara has out. The silence feels deafening and the little crinkle between Alex’s eyes that has yet to soften doesn’t make Lena feel any better.
Kara cooks, and when she finally comes into the room, glasses on and flyaways all out of her quick ponytail, she deposits two omelettes and a kale smoothie on the table.
Lena takes a sip of her smoothie while Alex starts digging into her food. Kara doesn’t start eating immediately, her fingers tapping on the table briefly before she picks up her fork. She still doesn’t start, even when Alex is clearly about to inhale hers.
She lets it ride for a second, before she gives in and reaches under the table for Kara’s rapidly bouncing knee. It’s barely arrived before Kara is gripping it and lacing their fingers together. She finally cuts off a piece of the omelette, then.
“Okay,” Alex says, around a full mouth of egg and onions and peppers. “You can explain now.”
“Um,” Kara says, looking at Lena and looking altogether helpless.
“Oh my God, you’ll tell me full details about fingering Abbie Cortenson in high school but you won’t tell me how on earth you and my best friend ended up naked in bed together?”
“Wow, you fingered her?” Lena asks. Kara looks caught between embarrassed and proud. “No wonder you don’t remember CPR.”
“Start at the beginning,” Alex says, snapping a finger to corral their attention again. “How did this start?”
“Well - we - I guess. Sort of it started with New Year’s,” Kara says. Alex huffs, cutting another slice off the omelette.
“Okay, a whole-ass year ago, fine, whatever, who cares. I don’t care,” Alex says, sounding like she very much does care. “Okay. And what was the nature of your relations?”
Kara makes an actual gritted teeth wincing emoji face, thankfully directed to her omelette so Alex can’t see it.
“Not last New Year’s,” Lena says. “We kissed once, at our last New Year’s in college. When Kara visited?”
“But we didn’t - uh. It was just a kiss,” Kara says.
Alex looks between them.
“You’re kidding ,” Alex says, gaze ping ponging between them so rapidly Lena’s afraid she might actually pass out. “So last New Year’s you like - ugh. This is the worst, I know what you both look like naked.”
“Last Christmas,” Kara corrects. Lena had been content to let that small factual disparity go, and Alex looks at her like she might have let it go as well. “And then - it wasn’t like, serious, kind of. I guess. And then Lena went to Dubai.”
“And you cancelled sisters’ night every other week because you worked like fifty hours a week and were a dick,” Alex says, waving her fork around. “I see where this is going.”
“Then I came back and things,” Lena says, looking at Kara. “Developed, I suppose.”
“Great, disgusting,” Alex says, taking a huge gulp of water. “I hope you know that you are both on my shit list. I had to confront this reality completely unaware that it was a possibility. During finals. Med school finals.”
“I’m sorry, Alex,” Lena says, feeling Kara grip her hand tighter and also feeling plenty of guilt that she had foregone in the last few months, caught in the way that being with Kara felt.
“I do not accept your apology,” Alex says, raising her hand imperiously.
“Alex,” Kara says, and Lena’s seen Kara angry about things before this, including more than one Postmates order with a missing chalupa and a bunch of guys jeering at pride, but she looks like she may stand up and deck her sister. Her face is drawn into a frown and there’s a small crinkle formed at her brow.
“No, no, Kara,” Alex says, actually waving her finger in the air like a mother scolding her children. “Lena is apologizing because she thinks I’m mad that she’s been banging my baby sister. I, however, am not mad about that. Whatever about that, I love you both and as long as everyone is consenting and un-shitty, I think you two are a good match. It’s gross that you bump uglies, but I can suppress my gag reflex. Lena, I love you. You’re my sister too. Whoever you fuck doesn’t change that.”
“Okay,” Lena says. She can’t help it. Her eyes get a little misty. Kara grips her hand harder. For two people who had been forgoing acknowledging the feelings between them, things had certainly got out of hand in the last few minutes.
“However, you should apologize to me for not telling me,” Alex says. “This has been eight months of me wondering who the hell y’all are texting all the damn time or why you keep being lame-o’s about staying out and doing shots and partying! And why you won’t let me set up a Tinder for you!”
“You did set up a Tinder for me, without my consent,” Kara says. “Look, I am sorry, but things were - we haven’t even - ”
“If you tell me right now that you two are just friends with benefits I’m leaving,” Alex says. Kara huffs, rolling her eyes.
“I think we might need to work out some specific details about things,” Lena says, trying to project an air of calm. Kara gives her a smile that makes her feel better about it. Alex shakes her head, shoveling more of her food into her mouth.
“You’re both the worst,” Alex says. “Anyway, there’s no time. I came over here to coerce Kara into helping me clean up the apartment, because Lena was missing, because mom and dad are coming as a surprise, which I personally feel is pretty rude. And they’re bringing Uncle J’onn. And, I guess, Clark and Lois.”
“Shit,” Kara says. She stands up so quickly she nearly upends the card table. “Are they bringing Jon?”
“I don’t know, Kara, he’s your cousin,” Alex hums. “Handle your life. Can we go back to ours now so we can clean and I can bleach what I’ve seen here from my memory?”
“So,” Alex says, as “Santa Tell Me” blasts from their Alexa and Lena focuses studiously on scrubbing a mysterious, crusty spot off their kitchen counter. Kara’s burst out the door to go to the bodega down the street to find a gift for her godson as well as extra drinks and food items. Alex had suggested it in a none-too-subtle, I want to talk to Lena alone red herring. Kara, bless her simple soul, had taken the opportunity to be helpful at face value.
“I’m sorry, Alex,” Lena says. “You’re my best friend, and Kara is your sister, and I should have - talked to you, about things.”
“Okay, so once again I do not care about that,” Alex says. “Yeah, she’s my sister so I’ll shiv you if you hurt her. But you’re my best friend so I’ll shiv her if she hurts you . That’s how it works. I’ll shiv either of you and pick up the pieces, even if that means eating masses of vegan ice cream and watching stupid science documentaries until you feel better again. I’d probably get a stomach ache from having to console both of you. But I would.”
It’s a wash of relief, to hear it. Whether it’s true or not, the promise of Alex being there if things go wrong - it means more to Lena than maybe even her approval. That Lena won’t lose two people she loves, two people who have helped her feel like she has a real, loving family.
“Anyway, blah blah blah, it’s nice that you’re together or whatever it is you’re doing. I want some goss.”
“Uh,” Lena says. She tries to think of times she’s gossiped about suitors in the past with Alex - she distinctly remembers one time in college when Alex whapped her over the head for saying she was thinking of cutting out a girl who regularly provided three orgasms per encounter.
“If we just act like it’s not my sister I can get through this,” Alex says. “And I’m sure you haven’t been talking to Winn or Jack or your mom about her. The goss is on me, as your best friend. So: do you like her?”
“Yeah,” Lena says after only a moment’s hesitation. “I mean. I thought - when we met, while we were in college, I just - I thought - ”
She has to stop to think about it, leaning on the counter. She had thought Kara was annoyingly positive, too smiley to be real, and had managed to find in the next two years of friendship and more that the smiles were made better by the knowledge of the darker parts of Kara’s soul. Lena had known plenty about Kara before Kara ever told her, but listening to Kara drunkenly give anecdotes about her parents or tell Lena that she should go visit her father’s grave or sit in the dark under her weighted blanket and listen to dumb podcasts - those were things that Lena had been lucky enough to learn. And somehow, those things had come together as a vision wholly unlike the girl Lena had first met, and someone worth loving hard.
“I love her,” Lena says with a helpless kind of shrug. Alex is leaning on their vacuum cleaner with a small smile on her face. “I feel really good when I’m with her. And I want to be better because of her. You know, she’s really - I mean, you know, I guess - she’s been through so much, and I’ve been through so much too, I guess, but I think at least for me, it doesn’t feel so big or like so much when she’s around, because she’s - been there too. And she’s really good at finding the perfect thing on Netflix to watch, and she always knows what temperature I want my shower to be at. I mean, not that - she sometimes just sets the shower for me if I’m waking up and she’s going to make breakfast. And I’ve never had anything like that. We’re not even - we haven’t even said we’re dating, or together, or anything. I’ve never had anyone ever, dating or not, be like that.”
Lena’s never talked so much about another person without being in a therapy session in her life. Alex is still smiling gently when Lena looks up from where she’s twisted the rag in her hands to knots.
“I’m glad, Lena,” Alex says. Her voice is soft, like she knows Lena may just throw herself out a window if she doesn’t get an easy place to land after that. “Kara is one of those people who loves people the whole way, you know? I always knew that, and I always - was worried about that, I guess. I was worried for the past year because she was always disappearing or texting or whatever, and I was really worried that someone was trying to separate her from me or our friends - ”
“I know, I’m sorry, we both just thought - ”
“But you guys were just busy falling in love, I guess, you stupid nerds,” Alex says. “I trust you more than anyone else on this whole earth, besides Kara and my parents and like, Meredith Grey, who’s not even real. Kara was always gonna fall in love in the big capital R-romantic way. I’m glad it’s you. I’m glad she makes you feel like that. You both deserve that from whoever it is you’re with. Perfect shower temps. For your allegedly separate showers.”
“They’re usually separate,” Lena insists, reaching up to rub her eyes and laughing a little. “She doesn’t like showering in the mornings.”
“Yeah, because she has the luxury of her fucking weird beautiful flaxen hair that can just air dry while she sleeps, the heathen,” Alex huffs. She closes her eyes and breathes deep for a second. “I’m only going to ask once, because I believe in the sacred duties of a best friend despite my deep disgust. How’s the sex? What’s the record?”
“It’s great. Really great,” Lena says. This is factual. Besides Kara’s g-spot quest, there’s also her attentiveness and an adorable, lovely, sexy sense that whatever Lena wants out of their trysts is absolutely perfect for Kara. She takes to suggestions and tweaks with verve, but tends to have a sixth sense for what Lena needs most. It’s absurd. “The record? Um.”
A month ago, Lena had come over to Kara’s with an altogether friendly mindset to discuss plans for Alex’s birthday, and whether it was really a good idea to rent a party bus for a medical student who seemed constantly on the verge of becoming unhinged. They had managed to agree to split the party bus and booked a karaoke room downtown, and then, all of a sudden, Lena was getting undressed while Kara sat and watched. And then there had been cuffs and ties and a sleeping mask and Lena calling into work the next day. All she has to go on is the number of tally marks Kara had made in Sharpie on her thigh.
“Uh, eleven. Ish,” Lena says, finally, her memory now somewhat mired in that place. Alex makes a sputtering sound.
“ Eleven? What in the - ?” Alex yelps. “Eleven-ish? Jesus Christ, how are you not dead? Is that even humanly possible? Do you have nerve damage ?!”
“That wasn’t exactly an average incident,” Lena says. Alex winces, raising her hands up.
“Nope, we’ve hit our limit on sex goss,” Alex says. “Eleven is going to be enough for a long time. A long, long time.”
“Right,” Lena mutters, turning back to the counter and wiping it down. They return to their cleaning tasks quickly enough, working together as Ariana segues into other weird modern Christmas songs. It’s maybe five minutes until someone speaks again, when Alex groans.
“I just realized that now I know that Kara is a top,” Alex whines, ducking her head into her hands. “You stupid bottom ass bitch. I never needed to know that.”
“I don’t know how you didn’t know before,” Lena says, laughing. “I knew the second I laid eyes on her.”
“Oh gross,” Alex says, though she’s laughing along with Lena now, and Lena feels - like a piece of something is coming together, a small puzzle piece finding its home. Not all the way there, but close. The door opens suddenly, Kara coming through with about ten grocery bags and, inexplicably, a very small kitten peeking out from her zipped jacket and ensconced in her scarf.
Kara drops all the bags nearly immediately, her hands coming up to run through the straggly fur on the cat’s head.
“I can explain,” Kara starts.
“Should we talk about how I said I love you?” Kara asks, much later that night, lying on the living room floor with the small little cat chasing a string she’s lazily pulling around. Lena is sitting on the couch, googling nearest animal shelters and their hours tomorrow. The cat’s a little hopped on antifreeze, its pupils wide open, but it’s got spirit and thankfully no fleas. Alex had gone to sleep with a very serious helping of stink eye at the both of them and a very serious I’m putting in my ear plugs, but if you two fuck tonight I will probably have to kill you.
Kara’s still in her outfit from the party, a sweater and button down and tight khakis, a brown belt. She had looked like a dad or something, on Christmas, carrying around her godson Jon and letting him attempt to chew on her fingers while she chatted with Winn about the best way to build her own dining table. Lena had never really quite confronted the domesticity she had fallen ass backwards into until she was listening to James list power tools Kara’d need and thinking absently about the joy on her face if Lena ever got her any.
She had sat at the dinner table next to Kara and sat across from Kara’s adopted parents and her cousin and with their friends and felt no sense of anxiety when Kara had held her hand and occasionally leant sideways to whisper something dumb or romantic in Lena’s ear. It was cliche, and a bad stereotype, but Lena had been forced to recognize that none of it was unfamiliar. The most attention they had been paid all night, even after Lena had sat in Kara’s lap for a spirited What do You Meme game that had lasted two hours, was Eliza wrapping her in a tight hug and whispering I’d been hoping.
“I love you too,” Lena says. Kara laughs as the cat pounces with all its might on her forearm, its claws splayed wide. She looks up from her spot on the ground and reaches for Lena’s ankle, her thumb pressing into the bone while the cat attempts to detach from her sweater.
“We’re officially dating now, right?” Kara asks. “This will sound crazy, but I’ve been thinking about it and also not thinking about it forever. Like I’d remember we weren’t technically together but then I’d forget, because we’d be with each other and it was like it didn’t even matter. I never worried about it. Isn’t that weird?”
“No,” Lena says, sinking into the contented feeling threatening to overwhelm her. “I think I get it.”
One of the shittiest places in the world to spend New Year’s is by far London, England. First off, it feels as though it’s been in a continual state of drizzle for the last three weeks. Lena has a cold; she is cold, perpetually, and it’s depressing to look outside and see a persistent grey.
Second, it’s unfortunate to wake up without her girlfriend, or even her best friend puttering around in their kitchen. Kara’s on some lead near Lake Tahoe, Alex is in Midvale for Christmas, and Lena is trapped in stupid London, England, the ugliest holiday snowglobe conceivable, because her brother attempted to hire a bumbling hitman to kill a journalist who unleashed a wide-ranging report revealing a host of white-collar crimes and plenty of not-so-white-collar crimes. A month ago. And the journalist was Kara’s cousin.
Third, it sucks because she’s pretty sure Kara is trying to figure out a way to ghost her peacefully in the face of these recent events, and Alex is not far behind.
Lena can’t really begrudge Kara this. Her brother, an asshole who she had looked up to until she turned thirteen and realized that what she had thought was a charming tomfoolery was instead a propensity towards being a dick and sometimes utterly cruel person, was always keen on ruining things. Whether that was her boarding school flirtations with Andrea Rojas, or his commentary on how slowly she completed her first master’s (at twenty), and more than one instance of him announcing her horse to be bad at show jumping and having it shipped off to some carnival for children to ride it for the next ten years.
But whether it’s understandable or not, the recurring thought that Kara is ready to ship her out of her life has incurred a sort of debilitating sadness and apathy in a situation where neither condition is preferable.
At least it’s not some sort of messy break up, an argument with yelling and tears. Kara seems bent on just not replying promptly to Lena’s texts or answering her phone calls, letting their connection dwindle off into nothingness. The thought feels crippling, but Lena understands.
“Lena,” Jess says, standing in the living room of Lena’s suite with her hands on her hips. “I know I said it was your day off, but - and excuse my language - for fuck’s sake.”
Lena is in her palatial Presidential suite bed, contemplating the abject sadness of ordering another plate of eighteen dollar fish and chips from room service. Sure, she had been on a seven hour conference call yesterday with the American branches’ HR managers, talking about diversity initiatives, followed by a series of individual phone calls with their deputies to get the real details. She had then promptly fired her Midway City HR manager, promoted the deputy, and sat in her hotel room and stared out at the grey sky.
A whole four hours later, a lone Snapchat - of all things, a Snapchat - of Kara with snow cascading gently around her, a grey beanie perched on her perfect hair, one thumb extended. In the mountains trying to MAKE THIS MAN TALK. Call later.
She had not called later.
And now, Lena was contemplating her most recent text message, from Alex: i got a package here for you i’ll give it next time i see you
Maybe it’s unfair to view this as a death knell. Alex is nice. Alex had agreed that the two of them moving out of their smallish apartment and into two individually bigger ones would be better. You’re hardly around here anyway, Alex had said, with a big smile. Just please keep some Glenlivet stocked for me?
Lena had invested a liberal amount of money in Glenlivet, just for that. And now, her liquor cabinet at her apartment in National City gathered dust as she was thrown to the winds and drawn away from her friends and girlfriend. She got the impression that everyone was trying to let her down gently; like when a kid’s dog dies and you have to finesse the truth of it. Rover won’t be around anymore, little Timmy. But he’s happy!
Lena was not happy. She was aware enough of her current psychology to understand that she was depressed, her anxiety was through the roof, her stress levels were most likely in the troposphere, and that her thinking was a negative loop. It’s quite possible that Kara really will call her back, that they’re not one text message away from a breakup. It’s quite possible that Alex really does want to see her for reasons less perfunctory than a package.
“You’re fired,” Lena says. She’s watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, because Kara liked to make them watch it when they were at the gym in Lena’s new building together. The place was filled with rich people or octogenarians, or both, and so the very nice facilities were largely left alone. Kara would bring Lena’s Apple TV down and play it and claim that Lena couldn’t stop pedalling at level fifteen until the episode was over.
“I sure as hell am not,” Jess says. She’s not, but she doesn’t need to know that right now. “I’m calling your therapist, and I’m setting up an emergency appointment. And I’m cancelling your obligations here for the next week. If they want to talk to you, they can use Skype for Business.”
“You will not do either of those things,” Lena says. “I am fine. I love - talking to people here. I love being here.”
As she says this, of course, her voice cracks like an egg.
“Right,” Jess says. “I believe you. Lena, you’ve been stretching yourself too thin. Anyone who’s met you in the last few months can see that. Even your mother is worried about you!”
“Lillian is worried about the state of the family business,” Lena huffs. “Jess, I’m fine, and it’s very rude that you’d - ”
“If you’re fine, why does Kara keep asking me how you are every goddamn morning?” Jess asks. “And Alex will not stop sending these stupid e-cards that sing.”
“Well, if they care so much, why are they not talking to me?” Lena asks, and the look on Jess’s face is sort of like one a person might give to a child crying in public. It makes Lena want to cry more, of course.
“I assume because you seem...fragile?” Jess says, very gently. “And isn’t Kara infiltrating some creepy Mormon sect for an article? And National City is a full eight hours behind us in time difference, which I know because their texts come through to me at three in the morning.”
Lena doesn’t even have a response for that. It’s true, and logical, and juts entirely against the nest of depression that Lena’s created for herself.
“And honestly, have you reached out to them? I assume they wouldn’t keep bothering me if you were texting them or calling them,” Jess says. Her hands are on her hips, looking stern. Lena thinks back to Kara’s Snapchat, and has to admit (internally, certainly not out loud), that she hadn’t responded. She had seen the image and thrown her phone down the bed in a stab of sadness. Jess has the grace not to respond to Lena’s silence.
“Here, listen, the last one Alex sent is Pentatonix, whomst I despise, singing “Imagine.””
And then Jess is fumbling her phone out of her pocket and clicking through to have “Imagine” start playing.
“Why do you hate Pentatonix?” Lena asks, finally, after several seconds of their dulcet tones have washed over the room. She’s unsure how to approach the rest of Jess’s rant, except to feel a wash of relief mixed with more sadness.
“I had a boyfriend in college who was in the Whiffenpoofs,” Jess says, shuddering. “I hear male voices harmonizing and it’s like I’m in Beta Chi’s basement watching him singing the remix to “Ignition” at some Delta Zeta thing.”
“Specific,” Lena murmurs, turning her phone over in her hands. Her phone background is Kara sitting on the back of a boat with an enormous fish held over her head, Lena pressed into her side while Alex flips them off from behind the camera.
“Yeah, about as specific as my brother hired a guy to try to kill my girlfriend’s cousin and then left me with our family’s business empire and I’m going through it right now,” Jess says. “Come on. Get out of bed, let’s go out and see something. It’s New Year’s. You can’t tell me no because you said no at Christmas and now look at you.”
Lena looks down at herself. She’s got two plates of fish and chips in the bed and a bottle of wine open on her bedside table. Her phone does not buzz in this contemplative moment. She tries to tamp down her alarm over it.
“Who did you pay to get us onto this rooftop?” Lena asks, accepting the Guinness Jess hands her on the very edge of a rooftop two blocks away from the Victoria Embankment’s waterfront, the London Eye centered beautifully in their view. The rooftop is packed with people, jostling and cheerfully laughing. It’s chilly, and the morning drizzle has drifted off into the night. It’s certainly better than crying in her hotel room when the fireworks go off.
“Don’t worry, I paid with your money,” Jess says cheerfully. She hands over a shot of Jameson that Lena grimaces at.
“I feel as though doing shots is not supposed to be in my CEO repertoire,” Lena says, sighing. Jess clinks her shot glass against Lena’s before downing hers without any worries.
“I’m not going to peer pressure you into doing shots if you don’t want to, but no one on this rooftop gives a shit if you’re a CEO of a neighborhood dog walking company or of Amazon,” Jess says. “It’s New Year’s Eve. They’re all just looking to get kissed and get a good deal on a gym membership.”
“I’m not kissing you,” Lena says, before she throws back the shot. It’s a stupid plastic cup that frat boys use for jello shots, and she has an urge to drop it to the ground and crush it. So she does. It feels wonderful to press something to the earth with vicious intent.
“Oh, I know,” Jess says.
They stand there for twenty minutes, as eleven o’clock drifts further into the hour as people get more and more excitable, shouts and laughter rising up around them. Jess is fun, a person who Lena has to consider a good friend at this moment in time, and she has very interesting stories about her days at Yale. She’s in the middle of one involving sprinting nude onto the football field when Lena is jostled from behind and nearly tackles Jess in an attempt to stay upright.
“Hey, watch where you’re going,” the voice behind her says, though it isn’t making any attempt to move away. Lena is tipsy off her previous wine and now two shots of Jameson and her Guinness, and she’s not in the best place anyway - so of course, she turns round to give this person a lesson on physics that involves an emphasis on her entire lack of movement.
Of course, she turns around ready to berate someone and comes face-to-face with Alex Danvers in a stupid obnoxious gold hat. She’s grinning real big about it too, and Lena almost smacks her in the face.
“Sup, bitch,” Alex says. And then she wraps Lena in a massive hug and picks her straight up off the ground, a patented Danvers move that Lena’s missed very terribly. Alex does a valiant job at pretending Lena is not crying into her shoulder. By the time Lena pulls off her shoulder, she’s got snot on her face and Jess is wincing and handing over cocktail napkins. “Cool, so you’re doing great, I can tell. I knew I should’ve come out here sooner.”
“I’m doing amazing,” Lena says, as whiny as she has ever been.
“Tell your face that,” Alex counters, though she looks close to laughing.
“Shut up,” Lena protests, wiping at her cheeks and screwing her expression into something more composed.“What are you even doing here? I thought - ”
“That I was gonna let my best friend and future sister cry herself to sleep on New Year’s? You should know better,” Alex says. “Sidenote, you may never see me again, I paid one of the dudes on my rotation a hundo and change to cover my next three days and promised I’d work the eleven to seven ED shift he’s been stuck with ever since he broke an extra bone in a patient’s foot when it was already fucking broken. HIPAA violations don’t count in another country right?”
“I think they still do,” Jess offers. Lena is clutching hard at the fabric of Alex’s bomber jacket. Alex is here, smiling at her like her brother isn’t a crazy wannabe mobster. She just called Lena her future sister, which - is a whole other question.
“Whatever, I don’t care! I’m here, you’re here and we bout to ring in a new year 7-0-4 style,” Alex says, referring to their old shared apartment number. “Kara tried to tell me that I should kiss you at midnight for her but I told her to stop being a creep. I think the Mormons are getting to her.”
“I’m getting more shots,” Jess says, slipping back through the crowd.
“How are you here?” Lena asks, her fingers caught on the weird little fabric tag hanging off Alex’s zipper. “ Why are you here? I thought - ”
“You thought that I was gonna be a shithead and abandon you when every Snapchat you’ve sent me this week has been depressing?” Alex asks. “What kind of best friend do you think I am? I egged Veronica’s BMW for you! She tried to run me over!”
“I just thought - that maybe you and Kara were - ”
“You should stop thinking. Clearly,” Alex says, throwing an arm around Lena’s shoulder and kissing her temple. The crowd is starting to get excited around them, minutes to midnight shrinking and shrinking. “I love you. Kara loves you in even grosser ways. Your brother trying to murder her cousin has not affected her Tiffany’s deposit.”
“You can’t make deposits at Tiffany’s,” Lena mutters.
“Well, shit, who’s she been depositing her money with?” Alex says, bouncing Lena up and down as Jess appears suddenly with more drinks and begins shifting them into their hands. “What is this? What do the Brits drink when they want to get blitzed?”
“Why are you here?” Lena repeats, and Alex reaches up and grabs Lena by the chin, leaning way too close, until Lena can smell her breath.
“Because I fucking love you, you ass,” Alex says. “Now stop talking, stop overthinking every little stupid thing and do these shots with me.”
Lena wakes up the next morning on the floor of her suite. She can hear someone snoring above her on the couch. The television is playing a Yule log channel. Her phone is ringing somewhere near her, she’s pretty sure. Or that could be the buzzing in her skull. It feels like she can taste puke in her mouth, enough so that she has to make sure she hasn’t puked on whatever it is she’s laying on.
She’s laying on a little stuffed lion wearing a party hat. It is thankfully not covered in her puke.
“Am I dead?” Lena asks. There’s a groan above her that seems like it could be a response.
“I definitely am,” Alex’s voice says, her hand appearing in Lena’s peripheral vision. Lena’s becoming aware of how much her neck hurts in this position, but the thought of moving makes her want to cry. “Fuck, I thought I had done enough artery shunts to avoid hell.”
“Fuck you,” Lena mutters. “Do you think Jess is alive?”
“I’m pretty sure I stopped her from jumping into the Thames to celebrate, so she fucking better be,” Alex huffs. “What store was open that I managed to get a Chelsea jersey?”
Lena glances down at her body. She also is in a Chelsea jersey. It’s backwards.
“I’m hot,” Alex whines. “I need water. Alexa, get me water.”
“Adding San Pelligrino sparkling water twelve pack to shopping list,” comes Lena’s Alexa. She had only traveled with it because Kara sometimes liked to randomly start playing things through it, and because she was an idiot. “Would you like to order the fourteen items in your cart for Prime delivery, at a total of eight hundred and sixty four dollars, ninety three cents?”
“Jesus, what the fuck is in your Amazon cart?”
“Items in your Amazon cart: Wartenberg Pinwheel, stainless steel - ”
“Alexa, shut up,” comes another voice, possibly from the other side of the couch. Alexa bloops. Lena tries to make a mental reminder to empty her Amazon cart.
“God, I hope that’s Jess,” Alex mutters. “Jess. Do you have a Chelsea jersey on too?”
“I need to get to my room so I can die in silence,” Jess replies. “Is someone going to answer that phone?”
“I don’t know where it is,” Lena says. She tries to focus on the low buzzing noise. Her head has its own, independent buzzing noise that makes it pretty hard to track. It takes a lot of bleary blinks and a sort-of echolocation technique to figure out that a phone has managed to wind its way under the couch, along with Alex’s shiny, dumb hat and a collection of shot glasses. When she manages to maneuver it into her hands and unlock it (it’s her phone, thank God), she realizes it’s buzzing because Kara’s FaceTiming her. “It’s Kara. Do you think she’ll care if I puke on Facetime?”
“Answer the fucking phone,” Jess groans. Lena does. Kara’s face is blurry and disjointed across the miles, but even with that, Lena can see her face light up in real time when Lena’s head sort of tracks into the picture.
“Hey babe!” Kara says. Her enthusiasm prompts an immediate response from Alex.
“Stop yelling ,” Alex says. Kara laughs as Lena struggles to hit the volume buttons.
“Whoa, okay, hey Alex,” Kara says. “Glad I decided to put my shirt on.”
Kara’s pretty, clearly still in bed in her hotel room. Lena can imagine her waking up with the sun on her tan skin, hair all over the place like a fucking model, and Lena touching the muscles along her spine and Kara making little humming noises like she does when she’s pleased.
“Disgusting,” Alex says. “Leave me out of your weird sex shit.”
“Is shirtlessness weird?” Jess asks, from the other side of the couch.
“Are you on the floor?” Kara asks, laughing. It’s annoying and loud, and Lena kind of feels like she might throw up but she also feels deeply endeared and in love with the girl on the screen, whose smile is so bright and who is rolling over in bed and trying to find a way to set her phone down so that she can clearly burrow back under the blankets. The feeling is worlds away from where she’d been last night before Alex had shown up out of nowhere.
“Listen, a lot...a lot possibly happened,” Lena says.
“Yeah, you told me Jess almost jumped in the river when you called me last night,” Kara says.
“I called you last night?” Lena asks, trying to summon the memory from the slog that is her mind.
Kara laughs. “Yes. And then you asked if I wanted a Mount or an Abraham and I’m still not sure what that meant. I tried to google it but I only got stuff about Mount Rushmore.”
“I’m not sure what that means either,” Lena says.
“It’s soccer,” Jess says. “Chelsea. I think I have your jersey under my face.”
“Oh, right, of course,” Kara says, laughing again. “I just wanted to check in. I know you’ve had a rough few days and I figured you might be having a rough morning considering Alex called to tell me she’s been thinking about trying to ask your Sam out on a date, which she’d never admit while she was sober - ”
“You’re a bitch,” Alex says. “Give me the phone. Lena, give me the phone - ”
“Anyway. I love you. Go drink some water,” Kara says. “Alex, go to your own hotel room.”
“I don’t have a hotel room, you told me it would be fine and Lena would let me stay,” Alex huffs. She’s still blindly trying to grab for the phone, but it’s easy to dodge her. Another part of her is deeply pleased, the idea that she can fall back asleep and a probably grumpy Alex will still be there. “Plus, all the rooms were fucking expensive as shit.”
“Right. Well, go sleep. Drink water. And call me later? I miss you,” Kara says. She says it in a way that leaves no question of its truth, her voice soft and sad. It floods Lena with enough emotion that she feels her eyes well up.
“Yeah,” Lena says. “Miss you too.”
She doesn’t cry, even if she sort of wants to. Instead she falls back asleep on the lion to the loud sounds of Alex snoring above her head.
“Oh, hey, shit, can you grab my wallet babe? I think it’s in my laptop bag,” Kara says, leaning back through the driver’s side window of Lena’s Range Rover. At this point, it’s really more like Kara’s Range Rover, considering Lena hardly drives herself anywhere. The funny thing about relationships is that the semantics of ownership become sometimes moot. It’s cold up in Midvale, and Lena shivers, but she reaches into the backseat for Kara’s bag.
“Why would you not keep your wallet in your pocket?” Lena asks, unzipping the front pocket where Kara’s always shoving her keys and tampons and coins into. “What if we were robbed?”
“This car has bulletproof windows,” Kara says. “And I was driving! There wasn’t a need!”
Lena hands over the wallet anyway, smiling when Kara gives a cheeky grin and adjusts her glasses. The back door of the car pops open then, with Alex carrying a massive bag of snacks and drinks.
“It’s cold as dicks,” Alex whines. “And there was none of your bullshit fancy glass water. So I got you Dasani. I hope you feel bad about killing the environment.”
“I do,” Lena says. “Genuinely. You know that’s a sore subject - ”
“Yeah, yeah, L Corp is lowering carbon emissions and instituting as many green policies as possible blah blah you’re the bastion of corporate America’s very best environmentally conscious companies,” Alex says. “Honestly, should your girlfriend be allowed to write articles about you? It feels ethically questionable and reads like public foreplay.”
“You’re feeling particularly grumpy today,” Lena says.
“I’m fucking nervous about Sam coming, Kara won’t stop playing showtunes, and I got called into the ED at three over some kid getting his whole ass foot amputated. And you told me I couldn’t get a Five Hour Energy.”
“Your caffeine addiction is an active problem,” Lena says.
“I don’t have a nine hundred dollar espresso machine for my ninety dollar coffee grounds, do I?” Alex asks. Lena thinks to the massive package she had sent ahead to Eliza’s and considers returning it before Alex can open it. Or maybe Eliza would like it. “Whatever. Give me the AUX cord, I want to play something that isn’t sung by Idina Menzel.”
“There’s no AUX cord,” Lena says.
“Well, excuuuuse me, Luthor, hook my shit up to whatever infernal sound system there is in this space car,” Alex says. The next few actions only take about ten seconds, tops: Alex drops her phone in Lena’s lap and starts reaching for her seat belt as Sam comes in from the other side with her sunglasses firmly on her face and jacket drawn tight around her. For half a second, Alex gets distracted with her girlfriend, gently handing over a bag of pretzels while Lena picks up the phone and starts to unlock it. She manages to read the four texts Kara’s sent Alex in the last two minutes as her face unlocks it.
i am a barely contained supernova of nervousness
i think i could be dying
can you get me some bbq fritos
what if she says no???!?!?!?!????!??!?!!!!
She’s really only just finished reading them when Alex lurches back from doting on Sam with a yelp.
“Shit, no - ”
But Lena’s already seen, and Alex is aware that she’s already seen, and so they just stare at each other. Lena’s half-turned to face the backseat, Alex is about to climb over the center console to rip the phone from Lena’s hands. There’s no mistaking anything about the situation.
It’s not shocking in the sense that Lena and Kara have discussed the prospect of engagement into marriage, have agreed tentatively that they’d like to embark on that with each other. Alex has repeatedly called Kara her wife for at least five months. It is shocking to realize that the future is now, all of a sudden, here.
“Uh, you guys alright?” Sam asks, tilting her sunglasses down and looking at them in confusion.
“Fine,” Lena says. Her voice is at least three octaves higher than it normally would be and considerably more strained. Sam looks less than impressed.
“Fine!” Alex says. Sam fully takes her sunglasses off to look at them now, as Alex starts whapping Lena in the arm to try to get the phone back, because Kara is coming back to the driver’s side of the car. Lena basically throws it at her; Alex groans loudly as Kara slides into her seat and then looks in confusion from Lena to Alex.
“Everything okay?” Kara asks.
“Everything’s totally fine,” Sam says, dryly. Kara blinks, twisting as much as she can in her seat to look behind her at Sam. Sam raises an eyebrow back.
“Okay,” Kara draws out. “Do I want to know?”
“Nope,” Alex says. “I was just telling - I saw this kid get his foot amputated this morning!”
Kara’s face forms into pure disgust, and Lena can’t help but laugh. The future is here, right now, but it looks bright.
It takes four hours of relative silence in the car for them to get to Midvale. Kara sings showtunes, Sam reads Lena amusing emails from work, and Alex falls asleep slumped up against Sam. Kara holds her hand except for challenging portions of road where snowfall has created slippery bits, and Lena thinks about whether the sweater she had got Kara for family Christmas could really compete with an engagement ring. It was a nice sweater, of course, a Burberry one, but maybe she should have splurged and got Kara a trip to Switzerland she had really considered getting. Something about the thought of Kara skiing was very appealing, the two of them getting in their private hot tub and then continuing into bed, naked.
Or she could have got Kara an extra key made for the Range Rover. Maybe she should have bought that insane vibrator Kara had showed her that could be controlled via app. Maybe she should have bought a puppy, or a house, or a plane perhaps. She could get a plane. She had a plane, even. It could be Kara’s too.
Eliza greets them on the front step with a bright smile. Sam is forced to greet her first, because Alex and Kara start an argument about who gets to carry the suitcases into the house that somehow turns into a brawl in the massive front yard to the Danvers house.
“Hi, Eliza,” Lena greets, gripping tight to the hug as she hears Kara yell don’t you dare which gets cut off by a scream. Eliza pays her daughters no attention.
“Hi honey,” Eliza says. “Merry Christmas! I’m happy you both could come.”
“Thank you for having me,” Sam says. “Us, I guess. But Lena’s been around.”
“Get off me!” Alex yells, somewhere behind them.
“Say I’m stronger!” Kara yells back. Why it’s necessary that they’re screaming is unclear. How the suitcase debate became a fight over who was stronger was also less than clear.
“Of course, I’m so happy to have both of you,” Eliza says. “I know we’ve only met a few times but you’re certainly better behaved than either of them. Though, the first time Lena came to visit, she threw up in my planter.”
“That is not true,” Lena huffs. “I mean, it is true, but that’s how I learned I was allergic to oysters, so it was an important medical discovery and shouldn’t be reduced to throwing up in a planter.”
“You just puked in her planter? God, you give a girl an eight million dollar inheritance…”
“Lena! Help!” Kara yelps. Lena turns around briefly to make sure that Kara is not actually in imminent danger. Alex has her in a headlock, both of them on their knees, covered in snow, and soaked. Kara’s scrabbling to get traction on the wet snow, her legs churning, and Lena watches as she manages to push through the hold by somersaulting forward. Something about it is kind of beautiful, watching Kara’s body move with such strength, her clothes clinging to her as she clambers up and starts sprinting toward them.
“You aren’t even going to help me carry the bags? Fuck you!” Alex says after her, as Kara skids up and wraps Eliza into what must be a very wet hug, judging by Eliza’s frantic no, Kara, do not.
“You’re heathens,” Eliza says, dropping a kiss to Kara’s cheek. “Welcome home. Go help your sister with the bags or you don’t get any cookies.”
“Right away, captain!” Kara says. She stops just long enough to lean down and kiss Lena quick, before she’s running back to help Alex up off the ground. They thankfully restrain themselves from starting another fight, jostling at each other with the suitcases. Kara starts screaming “Christmas Tree Farm” only vaguely on-tune.
“Do you think I would be judged for replacing them with you?” Eliza asks, looking pensive before she smiles. It’s one of Lena’s favorite things about Eliza, something Kara had somehow managed to infuse into her own personality - Eliza’s welcoming, warm, and she always makes Lena feel like she’s in on the joke. She lets herself get placed under Eliza’s arm, Sam on the other side, as they start walking into the house.
“I don’t know, I think you’d probably miss them,” Sam says. Behind them, Alex is begrudgingly joining Kara in a chorus of Taylor Swift Christmas magic, and there’s snow everywhere, and someone on Kara’s person, there’s a ring. Life comes at you fast.
“I can’t believe Alex cheated us out of the guest room,” Kara whines. It’s much later, after a lot of wine and pizza and baby pictures of Alex. Lena had already seen all the pictures they had of Kara after she was adopted, and the few they had from before, but she had been happy to flip through the books again anyway, Kara scrunched into her side and Alex valiantly trying to not blush every time Sam stopped at a photo she found particularly cute.
“I’m so happy you’re here,” Eliza had whispered, right before Lena had set off upstairs. “Love you.”
Kara is pulling one of the twin beds off the wall to form a megabed, absolutely discontent at the idea of sleeping in the same room in separate beds. Alex had suggested that maybe abstinence would be good for them, and Kara had flipped her off before Alex had laughed and lead Sam further down the hall.
Lena’s taking her earrings out, her necklace off, setting them on the short wooden dresser that’s covered in stickers, taped down concert tickets, a few Polaroids. It’s probably Alex’s, judging by the Dashboard Confessional and Motion City Soundtrack. The other dresser is more plain, with a few pictures taped to the wall above it. Something about the sight of it makes Lena conversely sad and affectionate; like she can imagine a younger Kara getting ready in the morning and glancing at the photos of her parents taped to the wall.
Kara’s a big enough person to love for a whole lifetime, sure, a funny, cute, handsome, strong, loving, loyal, and honest person. She ticks boxes Lena was unaware she had. Kara holds her hand when they go to the grocery store, and she smiles like Lena’s the best when she starts talking about some new prototype they’re working on down in L Corp’s labs. At this point, Lena’s pretty sure she’s got the gist of Kara, and a lot of the details, and she’s always happy to know more. And that could be boring but -
Lena’s learned, knowing Alex and Kara, that love isn’t as simple as math. It’s affection as a wellspring, endless and strong whether there’s a reason or not. Sometimes Lena looks at Kara while she’s doing something annoying, like throwing her socks towards the laundry hamper like they’re basketballs, and she can’t help but feel in love.
“You okay?” Kara asks. She’s behind Lena now, nosing into Lena’s neck as she wraps her arms around Lena’s waist. She’s warm, dressed in a sweatshirt that she’d had to change into before Eliza let her sit on the couch. “You went all quiet.”
“Just thinking,” Lena says. Kara hums, content to let Lena have her thoughts but clearly ready to listen. “You know, I thought it was lame you couldn’t do Fireball shots when we first met.”
“That’s what you were thinking about?” Kara asks, laughing and pressing a kiss to Lena’s neck. “Come lay down, tell me about my failures.”
Kara’s hands slip up under Lena’s shirt, finding the snap of her bra and undoing it so Lena can slide it down her arms. Meanwhile, Lena is reaching for Kara’s belt buckle, a stupid golf style webbed belt that always sets off metal detectors. It’s so nice, to let Kara kiss her and hold her, to feel like she’s giving back that same warmth. Lena hands over their sleep clothes from the suitcase, and Kara’s slipping her jeans off and crawling on the bed in her cute boxer briefs and a t-shirt, watching Lena get dressed. By the time Lena slides in next to her in the megabed, a full composed of two twins, she’s got a smile on her face that’s warm and more in her eyes than her teeth.
“What?” Lena asks, reaching for Kara’s face and tracing the lines left by her smile.
“I just love you,” Kara says. “You know, when Alex and you met, I was sure she was in love with you. Glad I lucked out on that one.”
“Why’d you think that?” Lena asks, laughing. She had never once thought of Alex in a romantic way, had never considered it. Considering it now, even, sort of makes her want to gag.
“Well, you were gorgeous,” Kara says. “And like, a genius. She’d send Snaps sometimes of you guys at the library and you were always drawing some weird diagram on the board. I think I liked you before I ever met you, sometimes. To think I almost fucked it all over by not being able to do Fireball kind of makes me feel like dying.”
“Do you remember that time we had phone sex when I was in Dubai?” Lena asks.
“You mean the time I called to ask if you needed a ride home from the airport and you seduced me?” Kara asks. “I recall.”
“I liked you so much, even when you couldn’t do Fireball,” Lena says, shrugging and ducking her head to rest on Kara’s shoulder. Kara’s arm wraps around her, the other dragging blankets over them. “I mean, you still can’t.”
“What’s this homophobic attack about?” Kara says, a smile on her voice, turning her head and dropping a kiss on Lena’s forehead.
“I just - you know, when we got together, you said you never worried about it,” Lena says. “I feel like I kissed you one time while I was drunk at a party and I never thought to worry about it ever again. I never meant to have phone sex with you, you know? I really was just trying to figure out a ride home from the airport. It just happened. I didn’t worry about it, it just was.”
“I don’t know what about tell me what you’re doing right now in your sex voice isn’t a seduction,” Kara says. “But I think I get what you’re saying. You like, love me and stuff.”
“And stuff,” Lena agrees. “So much. You make me happy.”
There’s something like contented silence for a few moments, Lena’s fingers tracing along Kara’s underwear line and Kara’s hand running up and down Lena’s back. She wishes there was a lock on this door so that Kara could sleep shirtless. Lena can already feel her getting sweaty; she doesn’t mind, though. It’s interrupted when Kara laughs a little, pressing another kiss to Lena’s head.
“Did Alex tell you? Or did you find it?” Kara asks. Just like before, there’s no question to what Kara is referencing. Lena thinks about playing dumb, but to be honest, the faster she can greet a future that at the very least legally guarantees Kara in her life, the better.
“I saw you texting her about it,” Lena says. “I wasn’t saying that stuff just because - ”
“I know,” Kara says, turning and kissing Lena, her body sliding more or less on top of Lena’s. Something about beds and Kara and kissing turns Lena’s head to mush, because she sort of loses track of things in it. Kara kisses her and Lena kisses Kara and Kara’s hands slide up the sides of Lena’s body and Lena’s press into Kara’s biceps until they feel like one whole thing, an amalgamation of two people. By the time they draw away, Lena can feel how much her body likes it, her legs sliding to allow Kara to settle between them.
“First off,” Kara starts, one hand making an adventurous trip of Lena’s shirt to palm her breast. “I know there’s no lock on this door, but I did bring a strap-on. I think if we just sort of wedge the door shut, we could be in business.”
“Okay, good,” Lena says. “I agree.”
“Glad we can find common ground,” Kara says. “Second. Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” Lena says. It’s as easy as that.
Kara digs the ring out of their suitcase when they wake up at nine the next morning. It’s in her travel toiletries, in a bottle that says fish oil but only contains a velvet bag with a beautiful silver band with a circular, gleaming diamond. It’s not big like Lillian’s is, but it fits Lena’s left ring finger perfectly. Kara attempts very hard not to cry, but she does anyway. Lena wraps her up, kisses her, and there’s something about the feel of sliding her hand on Kara’s skin and feeling something new catch there.
They don’t make it downstairs until ten thirty. Sam and Eliza are in the living room, watching Saturday morning cartoons and talking very in depth about what seems to be bobsledding - Lena is a bit wary of that. Kara goes tromping that way, leaving Lena to go get their morning coffee with a kiss to her cheek.
“Oh, you’re awake now?” Sam teases, even as Kara sits next to her on the couch and throws her long legs up across Sam and Eliza’s laps. Lena ambles into the kitchen to find Alex hovering studiously over the coffee machine, looking haggard.
“Hey,” Alex greets, pulling Lena into a side hug that may just be more of an excuse to lean on Lena. “I can’t believe you banged my baby sister in my childhood bedroom. I’m disgusted.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Lena says. “As if you and Sam didn’t have sex in my apartment last month while you were housesitting?”
“I plead the fifth,” Alex says. “You can take that mug, if you want. I’m on my third.”
“You have a problem,” Lena says, but she grabs for the mug anyway. She doesn’t even really think about it, even though her eyes focus momentarily on the ring and she can hear her hand clink as she makes contact with the ceramic mug. She’s got it gripped in her hand and is about to happily take her first sip when Alex nearly tackles her into the kitchen island.
“Holy shit!” Alex yells. Lena spills most of her coffee, which is a deep sadness. All three members of the living room turn around in time to see Alex pick Lena straight up off the ground and start laughing. “Kara! You ass!”
“Uh, can you put Lena down?” Kara asks. Lena thankfully managed to set the coffee down before she had got picked up, but there’s plenty of objects in danger of demolition based on Alex’s spinning Lena around and shaking her.
“No! You said you were going to ask on New Year’s Eve!” Alex says. She does set Lena down though, only time to pull her into a hug so tight that Lena can’t really breathe. She gets half a glance of Kara standing up with Eliza and Sam following. “You suck!”
“You’re crushing my ribs,” Lena huffs out. Alex squeezes tighter.
“I love you so much and I’m so glad that you get to be my sister and I just want you to know that legally I will have to be her maid of honor but just know in my heart that if you were marrying any other person in the whole world I would be yours,” Alex whispers, very fast. She really has had too much caffeine.
Kara proposing was one joy that Lena would never have contemplated five years ago, but having Alex wrapped around her and Eliza and Sam slowly entering the kitchen to check in on the ruckus? It’s an extraordinary gift. Even if she can’t breathe.
“I love you too,” Lena wheezes.
“Alex, let go of her,” Eliza says. Alex finally lets go, but she pinballs right over to Kara, who is at least more prepared for the assault. “I’m going to assume Kara went ahead of schedule and proposed.”
“What?” Sam asks, turning to watch as her girlfriend and Kara simply stand there locked in a heavy hug that seems to involve a lot of whispering and Kara nodding. “The cake I ordered isn’t ready for pickup until Thursday!”
“You’ve been a part of us forever, but I think I’m allowed to say welcome again,” Eliza says. Her hug is much more gentle than Alex’s was, but it’s wonderful and warming.
“Thank you,” Lena whispers.
Across the kitchen, Alex turns suddenly from Kara and yells.
“Alexa, play “Christmas Tree Farm” at volume twenty!”
“Oh, God,” Eliza says, as Alexa steadily complies. Wherever the device is hidden doesn’t matter, it starts blasting as Alex abandons Kara to go to the fridge, rustling around until she unearths a bottle of Dom. Sam manages to find the Alexa on the counter and starts cranking it downward, before Eliza goes to Kara and Sam wraps Lena in a hug as well. In the end, Lena ends up with Kara’s arm around her waist, a glass of champagne in her hand, everyone laughing, and a song about love in the air.
“New Year’s Eve, huh?” Lena says. It’s Christmas Eve. The shame is implied. Kara shrugs, like she doesn’t care, and that’s alright.
“I like the air of possibility, you know,” Kara says. “I’m thinking bigger than I used to, though.”
“Sure,” Lena agrees, as Alex pulls Sam into a dance around the kitchen and Eliza pulls out her phone and starts taking photos every which way. Lena pays all that no mind. Kara’s looking down at her, her hand warm on Lena’s hip, champagne in her hand. “You wanna go to Switzerland for the honeymoon?”
“I mean, I’ll go to Switzerland right now,” Kara says. “I feel like you’d look real good skiing. What’s that about?”
“Not sure, but I feel the same way,” Lena says.
And then Kara’s kissing her.