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Sometime in the middle of the night, Kara woke up. Groggily, she opened her eyes and wondered why she was awake. Nothing in particular seemed to have woken her up, no bright lights, leg cramps, or anything else untoward. Groping for her phone, she winced when the bright screen shone in her eyes. It was 4:47am, and Kara shoved her phone back onto the nightstand. She settled back down against her pillow and turned over to face-

Lena.

Lena was fast asleep, only inches from her face, breathing softly into Kara’s pillow. Somehow, she’d rolled over in the bed, bringing most of the blankets towards Kara. One of her hands was underneath the pillow, and Kara belatedly realized that she was almost on the edge of the bed. One more movement would probably send her to falling to the floor in a heap.

Kara lay there and blearily considered what to do. She could push Lena back onto her own side of the bed, but she might wake up and wonder what was happening. She could fall noisily out of bed, which would wake Lena up, and she would just move back to her side on her own. Climbing out of bed and sleeping on the sofa was a possibility, but that would negate the whole reason they were sleeping in the bed together in the first place. She lay there, paralyzed with indecision.

Next to her, Lena snuffled in her sleep, stretched a little, and inched closer to Kara. Kara absolutely did not mind being this close to Lena, but there were only two outcomes for this. One, Kara fell out of bed, which she definitely didn’t want to do. Or two, Lena slept on top of her. Even in her half-asleep state, Kara’s heart leapt at the thought. But, if that was going to happen, she’d prefer it if they’d led up to that, awake. She’d like it if she opened her arms and Lena snuggled into her, found the perfect comfy place on her chest, and they’d fallen asleep tangled together.

Finally, it clicked in her mind. If Lena was on her side of the bed, then she could sleep on Lena’s. Slowly, trying not to jerk the blankets and wake Lena, Kara started to swing her legs out of bed, but either Lena was a really light sleeper, or the movement was too sudden, because the next thing she knew, Lena was awake.

“Kara?” she mumbled, her voice heavy with sleep. “What, uh- what’s happening?” She pulled her hand out from under Kara’s pillow and punctuated her words with a crashing yawn.

“Nothing,” Kara whispered, startling slightly when Lena raised herself up suddenly.

“What ‘m I doing over here?” she asked.

Kara chucked under her breath. “I don’t know. But you’re about to push me out of bed.”

“God, sorry,” Lena said, sounding much more awake and shifting herself backwards and making room for Kara again. “Not sure how, um, how that happened,” she added. She reached for Kara with one hand, sleepy fingers pulling gently at her shirt. “Come back over here.”

Kara moved back towards the middle of the bed, careful not to crush Lena’s hand as she did so. Once she was no longer in danger of falling off, she settled back against the mattress, flat on her back. Beside her, Lena was partially sitting up and rearranging the blankets, which she’d somehow managed to keep mostly to herself in another impression of a Lena-burrito.

Kara sat up again and shuffled closer to her so that it would be easier to help Lena put the blankets back. When they were back to normal, Kara flopped back down, closely followed by Lena. She lay on her back, listening to Lena making herself comfortable again. Finally, Lena turned over to face Kara, moving closer until her knees curled up and gently touched Kara’s thighs.

“Goodnight,” came Lena’s soft voice in the dark.

Kara turned over to face her too. “’night, Lena.”

It took Kara no time at all to fall asleep.

 

* * * * *

 

When Kara woke up in the morning, the sunlight was streaming past the edges of the blinds and lighting the room a pleasant orange. Stretching her hand out into Lena’s side, she found it was cold, and she was alone in the bed. She was oddly disappointed. There was a part of her that wanted to wake up next to the beautiful woman who’d come to mean more to her than she’d ever expected.

Putting her glasses on, she picked up her phone to see the time, only to find out that the battery was dead. Groaning, she remembered that she hadn’t plugged it in before they’d gone to bed.

Oh well. It wasn’t like they were going to get up to much today anyway, so she didn’t need to rush out of bed for anything. They had no specific plans. Eliza and Alex would be working, she and Lena would have the run of the place. Kara linked her fingers behind her head and lay back, smiling at the possibilities ahead of them. They could go and have a walk, she could show Lena the island, show her the treehouse. Today was Tuesday, and they needed to prepare a few things for the family party they’d be having on Thursday, the anniversary of Kara’s adoption into the Danvers family. They could go shopping tomorrow morning, maybe, if Lena would be alright going in the boat again so soon.

The events of the day before rolled through her mind. It really had seemed that she and Lena had turned a corner, or that Lena’s incident yesterday had opened the floodgates a little. It wasn’t the first time that Lena had volunteered personal information about herself; in fact, Lena was very open with her now. The only time Kara had pushed a little was when she’d tried to get Lena to swim, and it hadn’t gone well. Lena’s reluctance to admit why she couldn’t swim just made her admittance on the boat even more poignant. The death of her biological mother was deeply personal and had clearly left tremendous scars, and Kara doubted that anyone, except possibly Sam, knew of the fact at all.

While she understood, of course, that she and Lena had to get to know each other for the Immigration interview, and that she would need to know details such as those, the fact was that Lena’s walls appeared to have completely broken down yesterday. There was no awkwardness between them at all now, and even when Lena made a suggestive comment here and there, it wasn’t awkward so much as it was…

Well, Kara knew exactly what she and her body thought of Lena’s flirtatiousness.

Kara was sure that the moment between them in bed last night had been an almost-kiss. But… Lena might be a bit of a flirt, but she hadn’t exhibited any interest in Kara, had she?

She was probably just reading far too much into things. Although, when she thought about it, it wasn’t as if Lena was overly shy. She threw out her suggestive comments and delighted in how flustered they made Kara. When they’d bumped into each other, when Lena had been naked, she hadn’t seemed angry or embarrassed as much as she was taken off guard. Lena certainly hadn’t minded Kara coming into the bathroom while she’d been naked in the bath. Sure, at the beginning she might’ve been a little hesitant whenever they touched each other; Kara thought that might have been simply because she and Kara didn’t know each other well, because she detected no hesitation on Lena’s part whenever Lena ran her hand across Kara’s shoulders now. Or when her fingers ran over Kara’s hand. In fact, when they’d woken up in the night, hadn’t Lena moved closer to Kara until they were touching?

Still thinking deeply, Kara swung her legs out of bed and pressed the button on the remote to open the blinds, then picked up her phone and plugged it in to charge. She went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and put a little moisturizer on her face. Her skin was no longer used to the constant salty air, and she wanted to stave off any dryness.

Kara was just stretching back in the bedroom in front of the windows, taking in the sun sparkling on the sea, when there was a knock at the door.

The only people in the house at the moment were herself and Lena. Why would Lena be knocking? “Hello?” she called.

The door opened infinitesimally, and Lena’s voice floated through. “Are you decent?”

“Yeah,” Kara returned with a laugh.

Lena came through the door, dressed in a pair of Kara’s sweatpants (where had she got those?) and her normal X-Files sleep shirt. Her cheeks were slightly pink, and she was holding one hand behind her back. “Good morning, Kara,” she said warmly, although Kara detected a hint of nerves. Why was she nervous?

“Good morning,” Kara replied, giving her a wide smile. Lena’s own smile brightened in response and she shuffled further into the room. Her hair was still sleep-tousled, she hadn’t bothered with any makeup yet, and she had a pair of lime green fuzzy socks on her feet that were so luminous they were practically radioactive.

Kara thought she looked entirely adorable. There was just something about seeing Lena so relaxed that made her want to sigh. There was that longing feeling again, like an insistent pull behind her ribcage. It wasn’t that Kara didn’t find Lena beautiful in her expensive clothes and her fuck-me heels, as Nia sometimes called them, but something about Lena being willing to be seen wearing pajamas and sweatpants seemed somehow far more intimate.

Lena came closer to her, still with her hand behind her back.

“What have you got there?” Kara asked, her own hands on her hips and her head tilted to one side in question.

The pink on Lena’s cheeks deepened into a blushing red, and from out behind her back she pulled a small bunch of colorful wildflowers. She looked down at them for a moment, brushing her free fingers over the tops of some of the flowers, before she presented them to Kara with minimal flourish. “I picked these for you this morning,” she said, the nerves clearer now, even though her voice was steady.

Kara reached out and carefully took them from Lena, their fingers brushing beneath the petals. With one hand she held the flowers close to her, breathing in their gentle fragrance, and with the other she took Lena’s hand, slotting their fingers together. She felt colour rise in her own cheeks as she took in how shy Lena looked in front of her, and at the thoughtfulness of the gesture.

“I wanted to say thank you again, for yesterday,” Lena said, looking down at their joined hands and then back up at Kara, her green eyes shining. “Not just for looking after me, but for the pub, too. I know that I had a bit of a freakout afterwards, but it’s been a long time since I got to just hang out like that, and I really enjoyed myself. It was nice to hang out with you, and your friends, and play games. I had a great time, Kara. I’d- I’d like it, if we could do it again, sometime.”

“Yeah?” Kara asked eagerly. “You’re welcome, of course, and I had a great time too. And- do you mean it? We can go again before we leave here, if you like?” Lena nodded, and Kara wanted to trace her dimples with her fingertips. “There’s a brilliant bar I know of in New York that we could go to. It’s got these old pinball machines and arcade games. And there are a lot of cool pubs we can go to. Alex is hoping to join the NYPD so she’ll be moving to New York, hopefully. Do you think Sam would like to come too? And Ruby too, if we go in the daytime?”

“I’d love that, and so would they,” Lena confirmed. She glanced down at the flowers. “I didn’t want to poke around for a vase without you,” she admitted. “Come help me find one?”

“Sure,” Kara said, pushing her feet into her slippers. “But you can look in any cupboard you like, if you need something,” she added.

“Are you sure?” Lena asked as they made their way to the kitchen.

“Yup,” Kara replied. “No worries at all. Just help yourself to whatever.”

In the kitchen, Lena had set herself up for what seemed like a bit of studying. The Immigration folder was open on the table, and she had a pad of paper with notes on it. Her laptop was half-closed, but the screen light was still on, indicating that she was in fact using that too. There was a little bit of cooking mess around; chopping boards, bowls, and a frying pan littered the surfaces. There was half a mug of hot chocolate on the table next to it, and in the sink, Eliza’s coffee mug from that morning.

“Did you see Eliza before she went to work? I’ve no idea what time you got up,” Kara said, yawning widely and heading over to the fridge to get some milk for her own drink.

“I’ve been up for a few hours,” Lena admitted, watching as Kara bustled around the kitchen. “I woke up at around seven. I didn’t want to wake you so I came downstairs and talked to Eliza for a few minutes before she left for work. She said to tell you that we need to go shopping, and left a list over there.” Lena pointed to the countertop, and Kara could see Eliza’s untidy doctor’s scrawl all over it.

“That’ll be for the party on Thursday,” Kara said, stretching up to open the cupboard over the fridge where they kept the vases. She reached the hand with the flowers in it, measuring them against each of the vases, before she pulled down the one she thought they’d fit in the best. Lena helped her to fill it halfway up with water, and they put it on the table, Kara arranging the flowers carefully in the vase. Opening the soda cupboard, Kara took a tiny can of lemonade out and poured the drink into the water as well, knowing that lemonade helped cut flowers to last longer.

She wanted these flowers to last as long as they could, because Lena had picked them for her, and the very thought made her feel fuzzy with warmth.

“So this party… it’s to celebrate your being adopted by the Danvers, right?” Lena asked when Kara sat down with her own hot chocolate, moving her folder out of the way so that Kara could put her drink down.

“Yeah. It’ll be fifteen years this Thursday since I was adopted,” Kara replied.

Lena made a note on the pad in front of her, and then her hand stilled, the ink from the fountain pen seeping into the paper. “Kara.”

“Yes? Lena, your pen-”

Lena’s voice was very carefully steady. “Are you telling me that I nearly made you miss your fifteenth anniversary of joining your family?”

Well, there was no answer to that other than the truth, Kara thought. “Yes, but we’re here. Lena,” she gently admonished when Lena frowned, “we’re here. And it’s going to be even better than I thought because you’re here too, okay?”

“But-”

“Nope,” Kara said, holding her hand up with a smile, before leaning forward and lifting Lena’s hand with the pen from the paper. “We’re here, and okay, before this week I didn’t think I’d have such a great time here with you, considering we’d never had a personal conversation until Friday, but Lena, I’m glad you’re here. I want you here.” Kara put her hand palm-up on the table between them, and was thrilled when Lena put her hand in hers. Kara slid her palm against Lena’s, before holding their hands up as if they were shaking them. “And I don’t want to hear another word about it, okay?”

Lena gave her the soft smile she loved so much. “Okay, darling.”

And just like that, Kara’s heart was racing again. The look in Lena’s eyes was fond, and there wasn’t anyone around to act like a couple for which meant… that Lena had meant to call her that.

“Oh, and I’m sorry for nearly pushing you out of the bed in the middle of the night,” Lena said, a slow smile spreading across her face.

“That’s alright,” Kara replied, taking a sip of her drink. Lena stood up and moved over to the stove, pouring oil into the pan and turning the heat up.

“Pushing you out of bed would be the last thing I’d want to do,” Lena said behind her, her voice husky, and Kara spun around just in time to see Lena flashing her a devilish smile with her eyebrow raised before turning back to the stove, moving the oil around with a spatula.

“You really are trying to kill me,” Kara grumbled good-naturedly into her mug, and she was rewarded with Lena chuckling, low in her throat. A shiver skittered down Kara’s spine at the sound of it. “You love teasing me.”

“Who said I was teasing?”

Kara groaned. “You are the worst.”

“I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself,” Lena said with a playful shrug of her shoulder, before carefully using a spatula to place something in the frying pan. The oil in it was now sizzling, and Kara watched as Lena placed more of the white-ish patties into the pan, pressing them down and listening carefully as they hissed.

“What are you making?” Kara asked curiously, standing up and peering over Lena’s shoulder.

“Hash browns,” Lena replied, putting the spatula in a spoon holder and moving across to the fridge, taking out some eggs. Bending over, she pulled a tray out of the oven, which Kara hadn’t even realized was on, and checked the smoked bacon she had evidently been cooking.

Kara’s mouth immediately watered as the smell of the nearly cooked bacon filled the air.

“Sit yourself back down,” Lena commanded, using her stern voice from the office, and in the kitchen in Midvale, dressed in their pajamas, the effect was decidedly different than it was at CatCo. All the moisture in Kara’s body seemed to center in one particular place. Lena punctuated her words with a wink, as if she knew exactly how Kara had reacted, and Kara sat down without argument.

While Kara was, on the one hand, squirming in her seat, the silence between the two of them while Lena cooked them both breakfast was comfortable. Neither of them felt the need to fill it. Kara pulled Lena’s notes towards her, as well as the Immigration folder, and looked through the questions. Over the past few days, they’d learned quite a lot about each other. The question was, whether they’d be able to remember all of it come Monday morning for their interview. The notes Lena had made this morning in her elegant hand were copies of the ones she’d made the day they’d painted; Kara guessed that rewriting them helped Lena remember.

“Shall we do some more of these questions today?” she asked, just as Lena was plating the hash browns.

“Yeah,” Lena replied, cracking four eggs into the pan. She reached down and pulled the bacon out of the oven, adding several slices to each plate, before putting the pan in the sink for the moment. She turned her attention back to the eggs. “How do you like your eggs?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at Kara.

“Sunnyside up,” Kara said.

“Great,” Lena replied, gazing down into the pan. “Because I seem to have made an egg pizza and I don’t think I could flip the whole thing.”

“You’ve made- what?” Kara said, standing up and looking into the pan. Lena was right – all four eggs had fused together into one giant fried egg with… five yolks. “I thought you’d only cracked four?” Kara asked, confused.

“One had a double yolk,” Lena said with a smile, poking the side of the egg pizza to make sure it wasn’t sticking to the pan.

“Isn’t that supposed to be good luck?”

“Well. I am Irish, so I am,” Lena said in an Irish accent, and Kara barked out a laugh.

Lena judged the egg pizza to be cooked, and Kara passed her a large plate. Lena carefully coaxed it out of the pan and onto the plate and Kara cleared away the things from the table so that she could put everything down.

Lena giggled to herself while she cut a slice of the egg pizza, sliding it onto her plate without breaking the yolk. “I’ve never done this before,” she said. “There’s something for the Immigration folder.”

“What’s that?” Kara asked, attempting to get her own slice of egg onto the plate and succeeding with only a minor injury to the yolk. She ground rock salt all over her eggs and the hash browns while Lena looked on, her expression caught somewhere between tenderness and horror. “What? I like salt on my hash browns.”

Lena shook her head fondly. “I’ve never cooked breakfast for someone I’m engaged to,” she said.

“I’ve never eaten breakfast cooked by someone I’m engaged to, so we’re even there,” Kara said, taking a bite of her hash browns and moaning around the taste. They were perfectly cooked. Lena flushed an adorable pink at the praise, and tried some herself, nodding when she judged them to be good.

Her fiancée was a blushing Lena Luthor, who had just cooked her breakfast. Kara smiled as the thought wandered through her mind. And then-

“Oh!” Kara said suddenly, and loudly, causing Lena to drop the piece of egg on her fork.

Kara!

Kara pointed her fork at Lena accusingly. “You know what. You never proposed to me.”

Lena snorted. “Did you want me to?”

Kara put her cutlery down and crossed her arms over her chest in mock-annoyance. “Well. We’re engaged, aren’t we? And we have a ring?”

Lena hummed in agreement, cutting herself some more hash brown and spreading yolk on the top of it.

“And we have a proposal story, swamp witch.”

Lena looked up at Kara through her eyelashes, and rolled her eyes affectionately.

“But the one thing I don’t have is a memory of you on one knee, with this ring in your hand,” Kara waggled the fingers of her left hand across the table, “asking me to, pretty please, marry you.”

Lena laughed then, a breathy sound that made Kara’s heart swoop. “Well. If it’s a memory you need, give me the ring.” Kara slid it off her finger and passed it over to Lena, who looked at it fondly before putting it in her pocket. “I’ll ask you to marry me some time today,” she said, looking over at Kara with a small smile.

Kara laughed as well, and marveled at the easy company that Lena really was. On the one hand she was sad that more people didn’t know this Lena, the relaxed, playful Lena that was a genuine joy to be around. But on the other hand, if they had, maybe they wouldn’t have ended up in this situation, and she wouldn’t have been able to get to know her like this. That would be a huge shame, and Kara determined to just enjoy being able to know Lena.

Their situation hadn’t changed at all; in fact, they had even less time to get to know each other, but the early hostility between them had vanished, and now it was just… easy. Kara could tell that Lena’s sharp mind was absorbing everything that she told her about herself. Kara found that she was so fascinated by Lena in turn that the things that she told her went into her head and stayed there, as if Lena were suddenly the most fascinating subject at school.

Kara’s eyes landed on the flowers that Lena had picked for her that morning, and her heart softened even more. Kara couldn’t remember the last time that anyone had gone out and specifically picked flowers for her that she thought she’d like. Lena was really rather sweet in her soul, and gentle in her manner.

They finished their breakfast, and Kara loaded the dishwasher with their plates and all the cooking utensils, while Lena went upstairs to get dressed. Since she was downstairs, she went into the laundry room and hung up Lena’s clothes from yesterday, carefully spreading the scarf over the largest clothes horse so as not to get any bumps in it. Next, she turned her attention to Lena’s phone. Lena had been right yesterday; the prolonged period in the sea wouldn’t have done it any good. Most phones could survive a quick dunking if you stuck them straight in rice, but Lena had been in the water for probably close to a minute and a half.

It was lucky that they’d airdropped each other their photos that morning, otherwise the really nice ones that Lena had taken would’ve been lost forever. Kara knew for a fact that Lena didn’t use any cloud storage, knowing the likelihood of someone attempting to hack her accounts was very high. Knowing Lena, of course, they would find it next to impossible, but they would no doubt keep trying, and eventually someone might have found a way in. The fact that Lena’s phone was damaged beyond repair, though, could actually be spun in their favor, and Kara bounded upstairs to tell Lena what she’d thought of.

Before she went into the bedroom, she knocked on the door; at Lena’s call, she turned the handle and went in. Lena was sitting in the armchair that Kara had pulled over to the balcony the day before, except that she’d moved it around so that it faced the stormy painting. She was admiring it once more, but when Kara came in, Lena stood up and smiled warmly at her instead.

“Hey,” Kara said, walking over to her. “I just thought of something. You know how your phone got a dunking yesterday?”

“Yeah?” Lena said, her gaze dropping to her ruined phone when Kara waved it about in front of her.

“Well, you know for the Immigration interview? When they ask why we don’t have that many photos of ourselves, we could just say that a lot of them were stored on your phone, because your security was sky-high. And also because you have no social media accounts you would accidentally post photos to, whereas I do. And then, your phone went into the sea. Are you particularly attached to this?”

“Not really,” Lena said, eyeing it and shrugging. “It’s just a phone. I didn’t have a lot stored on it, other than work contacts and things like that, all of which are stored in my work email account anyway.”

“Not even Tetris?” Kara asked incredulously.

“Nope.”

Kara nodded. “Okay, so the next time we go to town, which will probably be tomorrow, do you mind if I throw this into the sea? That way, if they ask where your phone is and why we have no prior photos, we can just say it’s in the sea, and it will actually be there, so it won’t be a lie. And it’s dead anyway.”

Lena shrugged again, but she was smiling. “I can’t say I’m thrilled about the littering, but… oh, could we smash it to bits instead? Do you have a hammer? It could be quite therapeutic,” she said, laughter in her voice. “I can’t work right now anyway. I’ll send an email to Sam to let her know what happened to it, but like I said yesterday, at least I won’t get any more calls from my mother.”

“Fantastic,” Kara said, tossing the useless phone onto the bed, and rocking back and forth on her heels. “Thank you for breakfast, by the way.”

Lena’s smile widened with pleasure and her eyes sparkled. “You’re very welcome! I don’t often have the opportunity to cook for people, so it was lovely for me too.”

Kara smiled and held her hand out. Lena took it without hesitation, and they stood there by the balcony doors, happy just to be near each other. “I know you can cook,” Kara said, breaking the silence between them, “but do you cook regularly?”

“I do actually,” Lena replied, examining Kara’s hand. “You’ll have to tell me what this scar is from later,” she said, running her finger along a thin one that sat on the knuckle of Kara’s little finger. “Anyway, it’s my way of unwinding from stressful days, even when I don’t get home until after midnight and then still have to cook.”

“Lena,” Kara gently chided. “That’s not healthy.”

“I know, but if I don’t cook then, I won’t eat.”

Kara shook her head. “For the days you’re at CatCo, I’m going to order food in if you’re going to be staying late. After all, nobody would think that’s weird any more, since we’re engaged and all,” Kara said, swinging their hands a little.

Lena stepped closer to Kara and pressed a brief kiss to her cheek. “Thank you,” she said, giving her a tender look as her cheeks turned a little pink. “I look forward to our dinner dates.”

“So do I,” Kara replied. “Right. I have to get dressed,” she said, looking around the room, and then at Lena. She was wearing dark jeans as usual, and today’s geeky science shirt was a deep green that complimented her eyes, and showed a broken electrical circuit with the words you shall not pass written underneath. “I love the Lord of the Rings reference there,” Kara said, pointing at it with her free hand.

Lena looked down at it and grinned. “Ruby got this for me. She was so pleased when she found it. I’m really glad that this wasn’t the one that got soaked in sea water!”

Kara laughed. “I should really get some geeky shirts to wear as well. I’m sure there are some terrible word pun ones that I could get.”

“I think look great whatever you wear,” Lena said, and then stopped short, her eyes widening ever so slightly. She’d surprised even herself with her admission if the deepening color in her cheeks was anything to go by. “I’m sure that’s why you have so many people putting their names down for months in advance for a date with you.”

Kara rolled her eyes and smiled at her, and then she came to a sudden conclusion as if a light bulb had been turned on above her head.

Lena covers her nervousness with flirting.

How many of Lena’s other suggestive comments had been a cover? And for what, exactly?

Kara thought that she’d give her an out, since it was maybe something they’d need to talk about, but not right now, since Lena seemed to be a little uncomfortable. She knew she was going to think about that when she had a moment, though. “Well. You’d better put your name down quickly then if you want to ask me to marry you before someone else does it first.”

Lena gave her a tight smile that didn’t reach her eyes, but after a few seconds, it relaxed as her attempt at levity worked. “I have the ring right here in my pocket.”

Kara let go of Lena’s hand and made her way over to the closet, looking over her shoulder at Lena. “I’ve never been proposed to before, swamp witch. You’d better make it good.”

“It’ll be as heartfelt as you deserve,” Lena said quietly. She was still smiling at Kara, but it was softer now, and there was clear affection in her eyes.

Kara felt color rise on her own cheeks as she felt heat bloom within her, and she turned back to the wardrobe. She wasn’t sure what to say to Lena in response, so she said nothing, but her heart was thundering in her chest. With slightly shaking hands, she pulled out some grey jeans, a black tank top, and another deep blue plaid shirt. With a quick glance at Lena, who was leaning her hip on the armchair and watching her, she disappeared into the bathroom to get dressed.

She dropped her clothes unceremoniously on the ground and shook her whole body out in a way that would look comical if anyone else had seen it. What was happening to her?

Kara knew that Lena was sweet. She’d seen evidence of it multiple times now, and again the thought crossed her mind that other people were missing out by not knowing Lena as she did. But thinking that was one thing. Actually picturing Lena bringing someone else flowers sent a hot flash of jealousy through her body.

She didn’t want Lena to bring anyone else flowers.

She didn’t want Lena to cook anyone else breakfast.

She didn’t want Lena to make those flirty comments to anyone but her.

Fuck.

Well, shit. She was jealous of a theoretical person in Lena’s life.

Before she could think about it any longer, she mentally slapped herself out of it, hurriedly putting on a little mascara, and dressing herself. It looked to be another warm day, the last one before the weather was going to take a turn, actually. Maybe they’d better go to town today rather than the next day, because if Lena didn’t like being on water, she certainly wasn’t going to like being on it in a storm. She could, of course, stay in the house, but Kara had a funny feeling that Lena would prefer to go with her.

Glancing at the bathroom door, knowing that opening it would mean going back out and seeing Lena again, excitement buzzed through her like electricity. Kara turned back to the mirror and found that she was smiling so widely at the thought of seeing Lena, of spending a nice, quiet day with her, that she was almost laughing.

This has absolutely, definitely, and categorically moved beyond a simple crush.

Kara put her hands on the sides of the sink and forced herself to breathe deeply. In, hold, and out. In, hold, and out. She wasn’t panicking, but she did feel a little hyped, and she needed to calm down a little. When she had better control of herself, or thought she had, she blew out a breath, rolled up her sleeves, and went back into the bedroom.

Lena was sprawled in the armchair, her legs over one of the arms, reading Gone With the Wind. She was bouncing one of her feet as if tapping out a tune in her head. When she spotted Kara, she waggled her fingers at her in a little wave, and put the book down in her lap.

“You were ages,” she said with a raise of her eyebrow. “Everything okay?”

“Y-yeah, everything’s fine. I just got, um, mascara in my eye,” Kara lied.

“Ouch,” Lena replied, concern in her voice, before standing up and walking over. “Do you need me to have a look, see if you got it all out?”

“Oh no, no, I think I got it all, thanks though,” Kara said hastily. She really wasn’t sure if she could handle Lena looking deep into her eyes so soon after realizing that she like liked her.

Lena tilted her head to one side and put her hands on her hips, giving Kara a deep, considered look. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m fine,” Kara said. I’m fine. I can do this. “There’s going to be a storm tomorrow. I was wondering if you wanted to go and have a quick walk, I’ll show you around the island a little? I’ll take you to the treehouse afterwards. And then, if you wanted, instead of going tomorrow into town to get food for the get-together, we could go today? I don’t mind going tomorrow, I’m kind of used to going out in pre-storm choppy conditions, but it will be rough and I thought with you and the boat-”

Lena’s eyes went soft. “Thank you for your concern,” she said, lifting her hand and placing it on Kara’s forearm. Her hand was warm on Kara’s skin, and it sent tingles up and down her arm when Lena moved to cup her elbow. “I’d love to go for a walk with you. Let’s take a blanket and the folders to the treehouse, and we can go through a few questions there?”

“And go into town this evening and do some food shopping?” Kara asked. “We can smash your phone to bits when we get back. See who does the most damage.”

Lena’s eyes crinkled in mirth and her hand moved up and over Kara’s shirt to rest on her bicep. “We’ll see if your arm is as strong as it looks,” she said, looking at her appraisingly even though Kara’s shirt hid what she knew were her toned arms. Kara gulped.

“Okay,” she squeaked, cursing herself a little for the way her voice sounded. Lena, however, seemed to find it cute rather than something to curse; her lips curved up in an amused smile as she gave Kara’s arm a squeeze before she stepped away.

Lena’s folder was already downstairs, so Kara picked hers up. She also unplugged her phone, slipping it into her pocket; they’d definitely need to take some more photos today. Lena grabbed her cloth bag and back down in the kitchen, they filled it with snacks. They grabbed drinks from the cupboard, a can of Pringles, and a bar of dark chocolate that Lena had brought and left in the fridge.

Kara rooted around in the cupboard under the stairs until she found the largest picnic blanket that they had, and put it on the kitchen table. She also pulled out the box of outdoor cushions, so that she could put them in the treehouse, and put a long feather duster on top of it. While Lena fetched an extra pen from her bag upstairs, which she’d forgotten, Kara picked up her sketchpad and one of her sets of colored pencils, tucking them under her arm until they went back downstairs.

Leaving everything behind for the moment but a bottle of water each, they stepped out into the late morning sun. Kara’s phone told her it was 11:20am; she really had slept late, so the sun was high in the sky already. The air was warm, but there was a steady breeze that made her glad that she was at least wearing the plaid shirt. Lena had tied a hoodie around her waist, just in case.

They rounded the house and took the path that Kara had jogged down the other morning.

“So, when I first moved here,” Kara said, glancing over at Lena, “sometimes I’d feel overwhelmed by people, by the Danvers. I was just a teenager, struggling through my grief, and it wasn’t their fault, and I felt guilty about it afterwards, but I kind of… felt a little smothered. But being out here and walking around the island helped, even if it was too quiet. I loved the wildflowers, and the way that you could smell the sea even while you were in the woods.”

Lena reached out her hand, tangling her long fingers with Kara’s. “How long did you used to spend out here?” she asked, touching the trunk of a tree gently with her other hand as they passed it. They followed the old trail, the path laid with large old flagstones with weeds sprouting between the cracks, the sunlight dappling the ground and making some of the wildflowers appear as if they were glowing.

Kara hummed, then shrugged. “It depended on the weather, to start with. I used to bring a picnic blanket out and lie out under some of the trees. I always had a huge pile of snacks and drinks, and a book or two. Sometimes, I’d bring my sketch pad too, and draw what I saw as the seasons changed. If it was dry, even if it was cold, I’d stay out a long time and just put more layers on. It was peaceful. Even though I was close to the house, I loved staying out here. Eventually,” she added, elongating the y, “in one of the biggest trees near the edge of the woods, Jeremiah, that’s my adoptive dad… he passed away two years after I was adopted-”

“Oh Kara, I’m sorry,” Lena said, and Kara looked over at her, seeing her eyes brimming with compassion. “To have lost your parents and your home, and then Jeremiah not long afterwards? That must’ve been really hard.”

“It was,” Kara confirmed, her voice sounding wistful even to her own ears, “but… we have ways of remembering him. In the tree, he and Alex built me a treehouse, because I loved being outdoors so much. I couldn’t be out here when it was windy and wet, so they made it so that I could be out here in all weathers, should I want to be.”

“That was really nice of both of them,” Lena said, sounding a little emotional at the thought. “I remember when Lex built the one at Luthor Manor, and how loved that made me feel. I’m glad that you had them. Is this the treehouse you’re going to take me to see after the walk?”

“Sure is,” Kara replied. “We’ve actually walked past it already, but the steps are built into the back of the tree, so you wouldn’t have seen them. I’ll definitely take the duster up there before we go, though, because no doubt it’s full of spiders. I know Eliza likes to go up there sometimes, but I don’t know how often she de-spiders it.”

Lena shuddered. “Spiders.”

Kara grinned at her. “Don’t worry, I’ll save you.”

“You’d better,” Lena warned, her voice mock-authoritative, but Kara heard the teasing tone beneath it. “If I come home with spiders in my hair, I’m not going to be… happy.”

“Is there a spider version of Medusa?” Kara pondered out loud.

Lena spluttered with laughter. “No, thank goodness. Can you imagine having hair made of spiders? I suppose the closest would be Arachne, who challenged Athena to a weaving contest and won. Her reward was to be turned into a spider, to weave for all eternity.”

Kara whistled grandly. “That was some hubris. Remind me not to over-confidently challenge Botticelli to an art contest, or I’ll be turned into a paintbrush with glasses.”

Silence followed Kara’s statement, but not for long. Within moments, Lena had burst out laughing, her quiet amusement morphing into full-blown hysterics. Kara was bemused, she hadn’t thought her joke was that funny, especially since she’d delivered it in a deadpan manner, but soon enough she was laughing too. Lena leaned against a nearby tree for support, wiping tears from her face and struggling to catch her breath. Kara whipped her phone out and took several photos of her.

Lena, her usual composure completely cast aside in her uninhibited laughter, was beautiful. Kara wanted to capture the image of such joyful abandon forever.

The words for how beautiful she thought Lena was, especially like this, clogged in her throat, no matter how much she wanted to voice them. For now, it would be enough to have the photos. She’d show Lena later, maybe.

Once Lena had recovered enough to keep walking, they shyly linked hands again and continued their loop around the path. Kara shared more stories about the island; she had especially enjoyed the times she and her friends played hide and seek between the trees at night, creeping as quietly as they could, armed only with flashlights.

“I’ve never played that,” Lena said, feigning indifference, but Kara could tell that it was something that Lena knew she’d missed out on. From what Lena had told her, her upbringing had been very strict, and all academic. Definitely no room for playing games.

“What, hide and seek?!” Kara asked incredulously, as they found themselves back in front of the house. “Not even at boarding school in Ireland?”

“No,” Lena replied. “We weren’t allowed outside at night, although of course some of us did go. There just weren’t enough of us to play games. We snuck out in pairs if you- if you catch my meaning,” Lena said, looking at Kara out of the corner of her eyes.

“Ohhhhhh, I see,” Kara said, grinning widely. “And how many girls did you take on secret walks in the woods at night?”

Lena poked her in the stomach. “Not as many as you’re obviously thinking!”

“Who was your first kiss?” Kara asked as she tucked the duster under one arm and picked the box of cushions up.

“It was a girl called Joanna,” Lena replied, slinging her bag over her shoulder and picking up the folders and blanket. “It was… not great.”

Kara tutted in sympathy. “Well, I’m going to assume that it didn’t end with Joanna having a bloody nose like Kenny did.”

“A bloody nose?!

“Mhmm. We kissed and then I moved away. He leaned over and fell over a tree trunk. Hit a branch on the way down,” Kara said, leading the way across the lawn.

“I hope he wasn’t too badly hurt?”

“Nope, but Alex thought it was hysterical.”

Lena nodded. “I can see that, somehow. Oh wow, that’s the treehouse?” Lena exclaimed when Kara stopped, craning her neck upwards so she could see all of it.

“Yep,” Kara said, dropping the box on the ground.

Lena’s face was amazed as she took it in. The treehouse was actually quite large. Jeremiah had been a structural engineer, and the massive oak tree had a lot of strong, healthy branches. The treehouse was about five or six metres off the ground, and built around the trunk. Jeremiah had built it with tree growth in mind, cutting holes for the trunk to pass through both the floor of the treehouse and the roof. The steps to reach it were sturdy, easily able to hold an adult’s weight, and there were two windows, including the large one at the front. Kara couldn’t wait to show Lena.

With the practiced ease of someone who had done this many times before, Kara stuck the long handle of the feather duster through her belt loop, and climbed up the steps, pushing the trap door open when she got high enough. The steps continued up the trunk and into the treehouse, so she simply stepped off the top and onto the floor. Thankfully, there weren’t many spiders in here at the moment. Kara crossed over to the largest window and dusted away the old webs before she flung it open.

“Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” Kara called out dramatically.

“I think you mean Juliet,” Lena replied loudly, taking a few steps back and looking up at her with a silly smile on her face.

“Who does that make me?”

“I’m not sure,” Lena said, folding her arms. “How many spiders are up there?”

Kara let out a ghastly wail, throwing her arm over her eyes like a Southern belle in distress in an old movie. “Millions! I can’t move for spiders up here!” Kara heard Lena’s answering scoff even from up where she was. “There’s actually not that many,” she called down. “I’m just going to get rid of them and then we can get our stuff up here.”

She drew back inside the window and made sure to remove every spider she could see hanging from webs, leaning out of the smaller window and putting them on the branches she could reach. When it was spider-free, she dusted every surface – Jeremiah had installed a few shelves along the walls, as well as a large seat that folded up against the wall next to the window that Kara had often used to sit on while she painted the view. From here, she could see the side of the house and the lawn, the Sound, and a small part of the mountains beyond.

A large skylight brightened the interior of the treehouse, installed so that Kara could more easily paint the night sky through the trees. Kara brushed that free of webs as well before opening it and tilting it back, sticking her hand through the window, and wiping it as best she could with her sleeve. The shirt would just have to get washed sooner rather than later.

Once Kara was done, she surveyed her work. The treehouse was clean and bright, and the old peeling posters and art prints were still hanging in there. The treehouse had always felt like a second home; a retreat, a safe haven, and a place for telling secrets.

Kara scrambled back down the steps, taking her shirt off and tossing it carelessly on the ground when she reached it. Turning to the box of cushions, she opened it and tossed a cushion from hand to hand before trying to hurl it through the large open window. It sailed through on the first try, and she threw her hands in the air and cheered, before turning to Lena.

Lena was looking at her too, but her gaze was somewhat unfocused.

“Earth to Lena?” Kara said, waving her hand in her face.

Lena startled, comically, before giving her a somewhat shy smile. “Sorry, what?”

“You were out of it for a second there. Where were you?”

“I was just-” Lena paused, the tops of her ears turning pink, “um, so do you want help throwing the cushions up?”

Kara shrugged, passing her one. “Sure! You were pretty bad at darts though, I’m not sure if you’ll manage to get any through the wi- hey!” Kara yelped as Lena playfully swung the cushion at her. “Now’s not the time for a pillow fight!”

“Oh right, yeah, we’re supposed to be in bed for that,” Lena said with a smirk, lifting the pillow up again and lifting an eyebrow at Kara. “We can try this again later tonight, if you like?”

“As if you think you could win,” Kara replied, lunging towards Lena suddenly and taking the pillow from her, leaving Lena empty-handed.

“That all depends on your definition of winning, darling,” Lena replied, cocking a hip and resting her hand on it, her green eyes sparkling with confidence. The cocky smirk was still on her face, and despite the cooling breeze on her bare arms, Kara definitely felt warm all over. No matter what game they were playing, Kara was sure she was losing it.

She wasn’t even sure she wanted to win it, either, if losing meant Lena looking at her like that.

Unexpectedly, Lena clapped her hands, then rubbed them together eagerly. “So, are you going to show me this treehouse or not?” she said, sidling up to Kara and taking the cushion back off her. Stepping back a little, she tilted her head, aimed, and with a perfect pitch, whipped the cushion through the window. Kara heard it thunk against the wall inside.

“Uh,” Kara said, passing her another one, which Lena proceeded to get through the window without the cushion touching the sides.

Lena laughed at her confusion. “Did you forget that I was a champion fencer? You need somewhat decent hand-eye coordination for that.”

“How come you were so crap at darts, then?” Kara asked, slinging the blanket’s handle over one arm and putting the second Immigration folder inside Lena’s cloth bag with the other one. She also added the art supplies.

“For some reason, I’ve always been terrible at it,” Lena admitted, holding her hand out for the bag and hooking it over her shoulder. “Do we need anything else?”

“I don’t think so,” Kara said, leading Lena around to show her the steps. “See, they’re quite wide, and they’re solid, but watch your step anyway, okay? Do you want to go first, or should I?”

Lena nodded before putting her hands on the steps. “I’ll go first,” she said, and began to climb without any hesitation. Kara watched as she ascended, and when she was halfway up, Kara followed her up.

When she reached the top, Lena was standing at the large window and looking out of it, the breeze ruffling her dark hair. When she heard Kara step up, she turned. “Kara, I love it up here,” she said in a hushed voice, as if she felt the need to be quiet, her eyes full of delight. “You can see so much from here. I know Lex built me my own treehouse, but it was different. I think if I’d had this kind of space, I’d have practically lived here.”

Kara shifted, then placed her hands on Lena’s hips to urge her back a step; she felt Lena jump slightly under the touch she hadn’t anticipated. Kara closed her eyes briefly. She should’ve just asked Lena to move. Why did she have to torture herself this way, holding Lena gently from behind? She didn’t quite pull Lena flush against her front, but it was a close thing. She somehow felt, rather than heard, Lena hold her breath, as if the air around them stilled. The thought of touching Lena’s soft stomach the morning before flashed through her mind and the urge to slip her hands under Lena’s shirt was almost overwhelming. Lena’s own hands twitched at her side.

She kept her hands on Lena’s hips a fraction too long, and when she realized it, Kara abruptly let her go. She hoped her feelings didn’t show on her face as she stepped in front of Lena. Beside her, she heard Lena exhale quietly.

Kara pulled the folding seat down, laid the blanket on top of it, then added the cushions. She cleared her throat before she spoke. “When I was a teenager, this was big enough for me to lie down on, if I didn’t mind my feet sticking out over the edge. It’s big enough and strong enough for us both to sit on,” she said, gesturing at it.

Lena sat where Kara had indicated, closest to the window. The early afternoon sun shone through the window, high enough not to blind them, but as they sat close together on the seat, it made some of Lena’s dark hair appear almost golden.

“This is one of my favorite places,” Kara said. “I don’t bring many people here.”

In the seclusion of the treehouse, it sounded like a confession, and Lena treated it as such.

“I’m honored that you’d share it with me,” Lena said, resting her hand on Kara’s thigh, her eyes appreciative. “A week ago, we didn’t really know each other at all. How far away the office seems to me now.”

“Technically speaking, it is quite far,” Kara joked reflexively, and then immediately wished she hadn’t. It didn’t seem like the right time for a joke. Lena didn’t seem to mind, instead squeezing her thigh a little.

“It is,” she agreed easily, gazing out of the window at the water. “And also I- I feel like it’s far away, personally. This is… I don’t often get to be free of the person I have to be,” she said. “I know I was prickly at the start of this whole thing. It’s hard to let go of that persona when it’s so ingrained. But you’re… easy to be around. I like being able to be myself in front of you. You make me feel so unbelievably free.”

Kara smiled at Lena, and shuffled closer to her on the seat. “I’m really happy that you feel that way,” she said. “It’ll be weird, when we’re back at work, seeing you like that again.”

“Darling, you won’t really see me like that again,” Lena replied, her voice a little far away, as if she was imagining what it would be like, being able to smile with Kara in the office instead of using the reserved, detached expression she wore most of the time. “As far as everyone else is concerned, we’re engaged. Or we’ll be married. They’ll expect us to be more… like we are now.”

The thought made Kara happy. She’d be able to go and laugh with Lena during her lunch breaks, if Lena wasn’t busy. Bring her dinner when she stayed late. Make faces at her through the glass while she was on important phone calls.

Kara held her hand palm up on her knee, and her heart seemed to skip a beat in her chest when Lena slid her hand into hers with no hesitation at all. Lena was far more responsive than Kara had thought she’d be, and it was with a rush of joy that she felt Lena lay her head on her shoulder.

Together they sat looking out of the window, the peace of the place settling over them like a blanket. A minute passed. Two, with neither of them moved.

Kara wanted to capture the moment somehow. This moment here with Lena, she wanted to keep it. Maybe paint it. And then she realized that she could do exactly that. “Lena,” she said, under her breath. Lena hummed in acknowledgement. “Do you mind if I take a photo of us?”

Lena sighed quietly, sounding disheartened. “You don’t need to ask, Kara. I know we need to do this for the folder.”

“No, I mean. I want to take this one for us. We can do some posed ones afterwards, but I feel like I want to…”

When Kara trailed off, not knowing how to say what she wanted, Lena picked up the sentence with a small, but genuine, smile. “Like you want to save this moment?”

Kara smiled in relief and gratification that Lena clearly felt the same about it. “Yes.”

“Then take it,” Lena said, almost in a whisper.

With her free hand, Kara pulled her phone out and swiped to her camera, keeping it at eye level so that they wouldn’t need to change their position. She took several photos, some where she was looking at the lens, and others where she allowed herself to look down at Lena.

“Thank you,” she sighed into Lena’s hair. Lena’s answer was a squeeze of her hand. “Let’s take some more? Come a bit closer?”

“Alright.” Lena let go of her hand and wrapped her arm around her shoulders, smiling towards the camera. They posed a few photos, a few one of them was standing by the window, and a couple where they were wrapped in the blanket. Sitting back down, Kara thumbed through them, as well as the ones they’d taken before now. They were good photos, sweet. But something was missing, and the second she put her finger on it, nerves flooded her. She swallowed, audibly, but for the sake of their ruse against the government, she had to say it.

Lena was pressed into her side as Kara stared at her phone, resting her head on Kara’s shoulder. Clearing her throat, she decided to just take a leap of faith.

“I feel like we should have some, you know, photos where we’re kissing and stuff, to make it seem like we are actually a couple and not just two friends on vacation,” Kara said, feeling her face heat up when she heard how shaky her voice was. “Would that be alright? Do you think it’s a good idea? For the album we have to make?”

Lena made a quiet sound into her shoulder, before she reached up and turned Kara’s cheek gently with her fingertips and pressed her warm lips to Kara’s. She was so surprised that she sank into the kiss for a moment, the soft pressure of Lena’s mouth on hers entirely distracting. Lena’s kiss was soft and tender, and Kara instantly melted into it. Lena kissed her slowly, as if everything in her life had led her to this moment and she didn’t want to rush it, as if Lena wanted to memorize the feel of Kara’s lips against hers. Her thumb was tracing Kara’s cheekbone, and when she went to pull away, Kara chased her. And Lena let her.

Kara felt Lena’s lips part slightly beneath hers as she kissed her back, the warm wet of her mouth like a drug Kara couldn’t get enough of. Her hand came to rest on Lena’s shoulder, tangling in Lena’s dark hair as she pulled her closer.

“Kara,” Lena murmured, sliding her fingers slowly into Kara’s hair and scratching gently at her scalp, “aren’t you meant to be taking photos?”

“Oh,” Kara breathed. “Oh, um, yeah.” She pulled away from Lena and fumbled with her phone in her lap, her hands unsteady, and then she looked over at Lena. It was a mistake. Lena’s green eyes were darker than usual, and her cheeks were flushed a dusky pink. She was smiling gently at her and it made Kara want to sigh deep inside herself. Lena looked down as she brushed some of her loose hair messily behind her ear, before she propped her chin on Kara’s shoulder and raised her eyebrows slightly.

“Again?” Lena whispered, nuzzling her nose against Kara’s cheek.

Kara closed the distance between them and kissed Lena, feeling the smile still on her lips. She held her hand up so she could take photos of them, and as Lena cupped her face reverently in her hands, tilting her head to get better access to Kara’s lips, she felt warmth flood her body. The hand not holding the camera landed on the small of Lena’s back, and Lena made a soft sound of appreciation as they traded open-mouthed kisses.

Kara desperately wanted to deepen the kiss, desperately wanted to know how Lena tasted. But when she lowered her arm, putting her phone in her lap and intending to give in to her desire, Lena pulled away. Kara slowly opened her eyes, only to find Lena looking at her curiously, before her expression softened and she smiled. “Okay?”

She nodded mutely. That was more than okay, Lena. It was perfect. You’re perfect.

The need that Kara felt to lean forward, to capture those lips again with hers, was overwhelming. Kara’s body trembled with the effort it took to stay where she was. Lena motioned towards her phone and Kara handed it to her without question.

It didn’t feel fake to Kara anymore.

Nothing about this felt fake anymore.

It was with an almost mournful sigh that she acknowledged to herself that her feelings for Lena were real.

She wanted to kiss Lena and she wanted it to be real. The small crush she’d had on her impressive, accomplished, and beautiful boss had grown into a full-on desire to actually be with Lena, to take her out on dates and find out all the ways to make her laugh, to discover just how deeply those still waters ran, to learn all the perfections and all the flaws that made up Lena Luthor. The crush she’d tried to push deep inside the bones of herself had only grown into something she could no longer hold still.

Kara knew she would never have been able to get to know Lena like this had it not been for this ridiculous fake-engagement situation they found themselves in, because Lena would’ve had no reason to drop her professional persona around her. It took committing a federal crime for her to be able to find out just how warm, witty, and soft Lena really was underneath her shell.

She pushed the thought to the back of her head. The timing of this couldn’t be worse. Lena didn’t want a relationship; she wanted to not be deported, and Kara had just been a convenient person to call upon in her hour of need. And although they’d become friends now, even though they were close and despite knowing Lena better than she could ever have wished… at the back of her mind, she knew that this had only come about because Kara had happened to be the one to walk through Lena’s door at the right moment. Lena’s unwilling knight in shining armor. A knight who’d turned into a friend.

Kara wished, suddenly, not to be just Lena’s knight in shining armor, not just Lena’s friend, but Lena’s, in all the ways it mattered.

She wanted to be the one that Lena came home to at the end of a hard day. Kara wanted to be the one Lena curled up with under a blanket on the sofa in their pajamas, watching movies all Saturday, sharing a bowl of popcorn. Kara wanted to find new geeky science shirts in shops and buy them for Lena just to make her smile. There was so much to find out about Lena, so much to learn, and Kara wanted to learn everything. She wanted to be able to share a glance with Lena and both of them know exactly what the other was thinking.

She admitted to herself that she was jealous of Andrea Rojas, for having been with Lena. She was jealous of whoever Lena would fall in love with in the future, of the woman Lena would want to marry for real. Jealous of whoever got to tuck Lena in at night, whoever got to cuddle up to her, whoever was lucky enough to wrap her in their arms. Of the one who would get to make love to Lena the way she deserved, because Lena did deserve it.

Jealous of whoever would be on the receiving end of Lena’s soft smile, the one that she could admit now melted Kara’s heart whenever she saw it.

“These are… nice photos, Kara,” Lena said, breaking Kara out of her spiraling thoughts. Kara’s eyes took Lena in; flushed cheeks, hair tucked behind her ears, those soft, perfect lips. Lena met Kara’s gaze briefly, wistfulness in them as she shifted impossibly closer to Kara, holding the phone up. “We look so good together. The kisses… they look real,” Lena murmured, looking back down at the one on the screen. “They look real…”

They were real for me, Lena.

Kara tore her eyes away from the beautiful woman beside her and forced herself to look at the photo on the screen. It looked exactly as Kara hoped, and feared, it would.

Kara had captured, somehow, the ghost of Lena’s smile when Kara had kissed her again, as she held Kara’s face gently in her hands. She looked happy. They both did. Lena swiped to the next one, and it was worse. Or better. The camera had captured what Kara hadn’t seen – that Lena’s brow was slightly scrunched up, as if she was overcome, as if she was concentrating on getting lost in Kara. Kara felt her stomach jump at she took in how genuine they both looked.

As if it was real for both of them.

Well, it was certainly real for Kara. The thought rankled a little as the thought crossed her mind that maybe they were only real for her.

“We-” Kara cleared her throat when her voice cracked, “we do look great together,” she finished. “You look beautiful. Look how you’re smiling in this one,” she said, swiping back to the one before and looking fondly down at it. That was another one, she thought, that she would paint.

“I’d say send them to me,” Lena said, her voice low, “but my phone will be in a million pieces.”

“I’ll even let you have the first swing, since now I know how good your hand-eye coordination is,” Kara said, standing up and sensing an opening to ease the tension within herself and the hazy, heavy sense of anticipation in the treehouse. They were too close up here, she was too close to Lena. Her hands itched to hold her, to pull her forward by the hips and press kisses to Lena’s lips until they were both gasping.

She rolled her shoulders, trying to loosen them up a bit, and crouched down, pulling some drinks each for them and Lena’s Immigration folder out of the bag. She handed Lena some water and her folder, along with a pen, and sat down on the floor of the treehouse opposite her, leaning against the wall with her sketchpad and pencils beside her.

Lena unscrewed the lid of her water and drank deeply, and Kara did the same. She felt… parched. In record time, she finished her drink, hoping it would slake her thirst. She set the bottle aside and looked up at Lena, who was now sitting cross-legged on the blanket. “So, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play twenty questions, but like, they have to be things that Immigration would want to know we knew about each other.”

“Yeah, alright,” Lena agreed, leaning against one cushion and pulling the other into her lap, resting the folder on top of it.

While Lena flipped through the pages, Kara did the same in her sketchbook. Pulling her knees up slightly, she leaned the book against her legs and slowly, carefully, started to draw.

“Okay, so I was doing some research before we came here,” Lena said in a business-like tone, now that they were doing something practical. Kara smiled down at the page, liking the take-charge voice Lena was using. “One of the most common questions seems to be, which side of the bed do you sleep on?”

Kara huffed out a laugh. “Whichever side you haven’t rolled me out of.” She glanced up at Lena, who playfully clutched a hand to her chest as if Kara had dealt her a mortal blow, before she let out a short giggle. “In general, I sleep on the left side if you’re standing at the foot of the bed. I’m not fussy though. I can sleep anywhere.”

“It seems we’re well-matched, Miss Danvers. I sleep on the right. What’s your favorite film?”

Space Jam.” She heard Lena groan. “Oh? What’s your favorite movie, then? I mean, besides the Mummy, which I’m pretty sure you could quote in your sleep.”

Lena feigned throwing the cushion at her. “Hey! And, Titanic.”

Kara’s hand stilled on the page. “Titanic? Are you kidding me? And you had the nerve to groan at my favorite movie?”

This time, Lena did throw the cushion at her.

“Rude.”

 

* * * * *

 

The time passed companionably as they traded questions back and forth, exchanging little details about their lives. There were periods where they talked, and some time where they didn’t. Lena lost in making notes and reading about the upcoming interview, and as they talked, Kara sketched. At first, she drew an image of how she used to know Lena; her beautiful, detached boss. She drew her as if Kara were looking at her through the glass of her office window, the shine of the glass making it seem like Lena was in a museum exhibit. Untouchable. She drew melancholy into the downturn of Lena’s mouth, aloofness in her eyes, and her hair sleek and severe in the high ponytail she was so used to. Unconsciously, she’d used muted colors to draw this piece, and Lena looked as washed out as the expression she’d drawn on her face.

Upon examining it when it was finished, Kara realized that the image seemed to radiate loneliness. Her heart wrenched as she traced Lena’s face with her index finger. She wondered whether anyone else at work recognized how sad Lena was. Maybe Jess, over at L-Corp? She spent a lot of time with Lena, of course, but Kara had no idea how she would even pose the question. Hey, Jess, has Lena ever seemed somber to you? No. And in any case, she’d left her work laptop at home, as well as her work phone. She had no way of contacting anyone at L-Corp, or CatCo, unless she was friendly enough with them to give them her personal number, such as Nia.

Kara turned to a fresh page and picked up her pencil again.

The second image slowly took shape; dark hair, messily tucked behind one ear. Vibrant green eyes, crinkled from a smile that displayed a double row of dimples. Elegantly crossed legs. Long, delicate fingers that held the pen as if it were an instrument of beauty. A geeky shirt that revealed part of her personality while displaying her pale, freckly arms. With each pass of a brightly colored pencil, Lena came to life on the page in front of Kara. She drew the image of Lena that Kara knew now, the sweet, kind Lena who smiled with no restraint and made Kara’s heart sing.

The Lena that Kara hoped she would see at work from now on, with a ready smile rather than a frown, whose face would light up when she came in, instead of just staying formal.

She was so lost in looking at the difference between the two pictures that she didn’t hear Lena trying to get her attention until she sat down beside her. Their shoulders brushed as she made herself comfortable.

“Kara? What have you got there?” Kara picked up the picture of Lena in her office, looking at it once more before passing it over to her. Kara watched as Lena silently took the drawing in, and like Kara before her, she traced the face on the page. “Is this how you saw me, before?” she asked softly.

“Yeah…” Kara replied. “I mean, I know it’s how you have to- I know you want to uphold your reputation, and I understand why, I just- I just always thought that you looked… lonely.”

“It is,” Lena confirmed, simply. “But it’ll be less lonely, now that we’re… now we’re friends.”

“For sure,” Kara said, bumping Lena’s shoulder and passing her the second picture. “This is how I see you now.”

Lena held both of them up side by side. Compared like that, the contrast between the two was quite remarkable. Lena seemingly didn’t know what to say; her lips parted as if she were going to speak, but nothing came out. She put the happier image on top of the office one and stared down at it. Kara’s eyes dropped momentarily to Lena’s hands; she was twisting her fingers slightly, another sign than Kara had come to recognize as a physical cue of Lena’s nerves.

“Hey,” Kara said, taking them from her after long moments where neither of them spoke. “You’ve always been this person I see now. I know how hard it is for you to let go of the person you think you have to be, but I promise you, you are… Lena, you’ve been glowing ever since you let go.” Kara lifted her hand and gently turned Lena’s face toward her.

Lena pressed her face into the touch. “I know. I never realized how freeing it could be to… I was always raised to be this way,” she said, holding up the office picture. “Lillian taught me that Luthors never showed how they really felt. It was a hard-learned lesson. My life is so busy that I rarely get the chance to turn it all off. There’s always some crisis or other that I need to deal with because I don’t fully trust the L-Corp board, and they don’t trust me either. I keep going against what they want. But in this picture,” and she held up the more vividly colored one, “I look like how I’ve felt these last few days. Can I keep them?” she suddenly asked. “I think I want to put them on my fridge. To remind me.”

“Of course you can,” Kara said, pleased that Lena liked them, that they meant something to her. She pulled out her phone to check the time. “Oh, damn,” Kara said. “It’s past four! We really need to go to town to get some food and stuff for the party on Thursday. And for dinner tonight! And snacks for tomorrow. Do you want some more key lime pie?”

And with that, she scrambled upright, standing in front of Lena and holding out a hand. She hauled Lena upright, and just like that, they were standing face to face, with Lena’s back against the wall of the treehouse. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight. Lena looked pretty, so pretty, with the early-evening sun making her dark hair shine.

She felt Lena’s hand graze her pocket as she plucked her phone out, swiping it to the camera mode and handing it to Kara. The next thing Kara knew, Lena’s hands were gently resting on the wide straps of her tank top, her fingers splaying over the bare skin beneath them. A shy smile on her face, Lena rested her forehead against Kara’s. Slowly, she cupped one hand around the back of Kara’s neck, pulling her in for a kiss that was as sweet as it was soft.

For the second time that day, Kara was taken by surprise, and barely remembered to take the photo after wrapping her spare arm around Lena’s waist.

“If I’ve forgotten to tell you today, you are truly lovely, Kara Danvers,” Lena said when she pulled away, her fingers playing with the tiny hairs at the top of Kara’s neck. “The girl who finally wins your heart will be a lucky one.”

She stepped away from Kara, moving back towards the bench and putting as many of their belongings in the cloth bag as would fit.

Kara blinked herself out of the haze that the short kiss had clouded her mind with, and stooped to pick up her pencils, sketch book, and drawings. She carefully inserted the loose pages back into the book and slipped it into Lena’s bag when she opened it for her. With a flourish that made Lena laugh, she flung the cushions out of the window, along with the blanket, and closed the windows. Lena climbed down out of the treehouse first, the cloth bag slung over her shoulder, and Kara followed her down shortly afterward, shutting the trap door.

They each collected a cushion and Kara shoved them and the blanket unceremoniously into the box, knowing that they would be using them again before they left. She left the box under the stairs in the house, put her shirt in the laundry room, and together they made their way upstairs.

“We should change clothes, you know,” Lena said, and Kara looked over at her on confusion from where she was standing, pressing the button to close the blinds. “To… to take more kissing photos?” Lena finished in a voice that was more hesitant when Kara still didn’t catch on. “Um, to make it look like a different day, and not like we took them all at once just in the treehouse?”

“Oh,” Kara said, momentarily flustered when the thought of kissing Lena even more rushed through her head. “Oh, sure. Right, yeah, you’re right.” She turned to the closet and yanked out a thick blue hoodie with a large cartoon potsticker over the front pocket, and a thin cotton button-up shirt. She pulled the shirt on, only doing up a couple of buttons, before pulling the hoodie over her head. When she turned back around, Lena was on her knees, digging around in her suitcase.

“I’m not going for another swim, right?” she tossed over her shoulder with a cheeky smile.

“Not unless you want to,” Kara replied, watching as Lena sifted through some clothes.

“I definitely do not,” Lena murmured, before standing upright with clothes in-hand. “Do you mind if I just…?” she asked, gesturing at the bathroom.

“Go ahead,” Kara said, and Lena gave her a quick smile, disappearing and closing the door.

Since she was already dressed, Kara went downstairs to the kitchen and started to make a list of the food and drink that they were going to need. As everyone knew, she wasn’t much of a cook, but she could definitely at least assist with anything that didn’t involve heat. And she was usually the one who volunteered to do the shopping, since everyone else usually did the lion’s share of the cooking and the prep.

The list she was making was quite long. There wasn’t going to be a huge amount of people at the party, but still, it was a celebration, and everyone liked food at a celebration! And alcohol. She was deep in the cupboard where Eliza kept it stashed, which was, for some reason, near the floor and next to the one with the pans, checking the volumes in the bottles, when-

“Kara?” came Lena’s voice, louder than usual.

Kara jumped, cracking her head on the top of the cupboard with a hard thunk. “Ouch!”

“Oh, god, sorry! I didn’t see you,” Lena said, coming around the table and crouching down next to Kara as she withdrew from the cupboard, one hand on the back of her head and the other wrapped around a bottle of vodka. Kara pulled her hand away from her head. Lena immediately replaced it with her own, feeling Kara’s scalp for a bump. There was a tiny one, and when they both saw that there was no blood, they stood up.

“You could kiss it better,” Kara grumbled, struggling to keep a smile off her face.

Lena rolled her eyes. “You big baby. The bump is barely half the size of my little fingernail.” Her hand drifted over to the list on the table. “Is this all we need? What do your family usually like to have at your parties?”

“You know, normal party stuff,” Kara replied, rubbing her head and getting her first good look at Lena. She was wearing skinny black jeans that showed off every curve she had, heeled ankle boots, a V-neck black silk shirt, and an open green suede jacket. She’d clipped half of her hair back, leaving the rest of it to fall softly over her shoulders. The jacket brought out the green in her eyes, which she’d emphasized with dark green eyeshadow and extra eyeliner.

In short, she looked… she looked-

Lena flushed prettily under Kara’s blatant appraisal, but Kara could tell that she was pleased, and her blush only added to the overall effect which Kara could simply describe as gorgeous.

“You look wonderful, Lena,” Kara eventually said, clearing her throat. “I feel like I should change. I am way underdressed!” She looked down at herself, stretching her hoodie out by the hem and sticking one leg out.

“Please, don’t,” Lena replied, tugging a little at the potsticker pocket of Kara’s hoodie. “I like what you’re wearing.”

Kara felt her own cheeks warm. “Well, alright then.”

“What do we need to buy tonight?” Lena asked, slipping her hands into Kara’s hoodie pocket, and Kara could feel the warmth of them through the fabric. Suddenly, Lena’s eyes lit up. “Does anyone else who’ll be coming like scotch?”

“Alex does,” she answered. “Why?”

“Because I hate seeing a good bottle of scotch go to waste. Someone needs to enjoy it with me,” Lena said, withdrawing her hands and picking up the list again, skimming her eyes over it. “Is this all we’re getting? You need something a little healthier.”

Kara pulled a bleurgh face. “Lena, no.”

Lena looked at her sternly. “Lena, yes. We’re getting some nutritious food,” she said, running her finger down the list before picking up a pen and adding notes to it. “I’m going to make you a healthy dinner tonight at least and you’re actually going to like it.”

“Some chance of that.”

“Excuse me, but is that doubt I hear in your voice, Miss Danvers?”

Kara rolled her eyes. “I’ll eat mostly anything, as long as I don’t have to cook it, but I have to say, I’d pick a Chinese takeout over basically anything else.”

Lena cocked an eyebrow. “We’re not having Chinese for dinner. That’s not going to work on me, you know,” Lena said when Kara pouted. “I’m making you a healthy dinner and that’s that. Although,” she added with a sly glance, “if junk food is all you eat, I have no idea how you have the abs you do. Do you work out?”

Kara spluttered. “Lena! How do you-” and then she remembered the naked incident. Lena would’ve had to look at her in order to know where to dangle the towel Kara needed. And as she recalled, she hadn’t been wearing much more than Lena had been. “Oh. Um… well, I run. But I don’t go to the gym or anything.”

“So you’re just naturally… like that,” Lena said, flicking a finger up and down in the direction of Kara’s torso. Lena turned away from her, but Kara heard her mutter a word to herself that sounded distinctly like delicious.

By this time, Kara was blushing so hard she felt it could be seen from space. Lena had looked at her. Lena liked what she saw.

Oh, hell.

Lena sat down at the table and added more items to the bottom of the list, and Kara hovered in the kitchen, needing to distract herself. She didn’t really know what she should be doing now that Lena had taken over writing the shopping list. She wandered around the kitchen a little, opening cupboards and examining the contents, looking for a snack, before she remembered the Pringles in the bag. They hadn’t eaten all of them while they were in the treehouse, so she popped the lid off them; she was just about to eat two in one go when Lena stood up.

“Ready to go?”

Kara gazed forlornly at the Pringles in her hand, before stuffing them in her mouth anyway and nodded. Lena’s face was caught somewhere between fondness and disdain, and it made Kara laugh.

And then, she choked as a bit of chip went down the wrong way. She clapped a hand over her mouth to avoid spraying the table with chip crumbs, and Lena just sighed, fetching a glass and pouring her some water. She set it down in front of her, and Kara grabbed at it like it was a lifeline.

“So this is what I have to look forward to in married life? You choking on too-large mouthfuls of food?” Lena asked, rubbing soothing circles on Kara’s back while she fought to get control of herself.

Kara tried to look up at her as indignantly as possible while desperately trying to clear her throat and wipe her streaming eyes.

“I’ll- I’ll have you know,” Kara said, coughing into her hand, “that I’m- that I’d be a good wife!”

Lena ran her hand across Kara’s shoulders before she swept down between her shoulder blades. “I know, darling,” she said reassuringly. Even during her discomfort, Kara thought that Lena’s hand on her back felt… nice.

Kara muffled her last coughs with her hand, before she glanced up at Lena, whose lips curled into a smile. “Do you feel better now?” Her hand slid up to rest on Kara’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” she croaked, her throat a little sore. She got up and poured herself a second glass of water, downing that one as well.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” she replied.

Lena gave her a firm look that Kara recognized from the boardroom. “One chip at a time from now on, okay? And no-” she pointed at Kara, “seeing how many potstickers you can fit in your mouth at once.”

“Have you been talking to Alex?!” Kara wailed as she followed Lena out of the kitchen, listening to the sound of Lena’s laughter echoing down the hall.

Before they left the house, Kara dashed upstairs and grabbed two backpacks and a cooler bag, and a hoodie for Lena to wear on the boat. They walked companionably down to the boat, Kara telling Lena about the time she’d fit so many potstickers in her mouth that she couldn’t chew them, and had to pick them back out with chopsticks in front of the mirror. The horrified expression on Lena’s face told her that she definitely hadn’t seen anyone at any of her fancy galas try the same trick. Alex had been beside herself laughing at the time, but both of them had had a severe telling-off by Eliza when she’d heard about it.

Kara stepped into the boat, helping Lena in as usual, and handing her the hoodie and life jacket. Lena settled herself into the passenger seat of the boat, and as Kara was pulling the boat out into deeper waters, she noticed that Lena’s grip on the console and the gunwale next to her were almost white-knuckled. The same kind of terrified grip that Lena had on the plane on the way there.

Immediately, Kara killed the engine of the boat, letting it drift naturally to a stop.

“Lena, hey Lena?” she asked, sitting down in her seat and holding her hand out, rubbing Lena’s upper arm until she opened her eyes and green eyes met blue. “Hey, you’re okay,” Kara said, in as calming a tone as she could manage. “How can I help?”

Lena shot her a grateful glance. “I’m- I’m okay, really,” she said, but her voice was quavering, and Kara wasn’t fooled in the slightest.

Kara disagreed. “You’re not okay,” she said, reaching her other hand over to take hold of Lena’s. “I can go by myself. Do you want to go back-”

No!” Lena burst out, so suddenly that it made Kara jump. “You can’t live in fear. Just- just go slowly? And… when we get to the place where I fell out, can you stop?”

Kara frowned at the odd request, but nodded. Turning back to the wheel, she turned the ignition once again, putting the boat into a slower rate of knots than she’d yet taken with Lena. In fact, she was only going half the speed she went the day before, and she had already been going slower than usual. Thankfully, the water today was calmer today as well.

One peek over at Lena told her that she was only marginally more comfortable, so she held her hand out. Lena took it in an instant, her fingers slotting between Kara’s and holding on tightly. “Just hold on to me, okay?” Kara said, maneuvering the boat a little more awkwardly than she was used to, but it was doable. She rubbed her thumb against the back of Lena’s, down to the middle of her wrist and back up, and Lena’s fingers relaxed a little. Pleased with the result, Kara continued their journey towards town.

Neither of them spoke. Lena appeared lost in thought if her closed eyes were any indication, and Kara aimed the boat towards the spot where Lena had fallen in the day before. When they reached the spot, she shut the engine off again and turned in her seat.

Lena twisted to face her, and Kara was gratified to see that Lena seemed a lot calmer than she had ten minutes before. They were still only halfway to Midvale, but she seemed… alright. Kara let go of some tension that she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in her shoulders, and unclenched her jaw. If she didn’t think any better, she’d swear she’d just been more stressed than Lena, who now looked completely comfortable in her seat as she gazed over at Kara.

Slowly, with barely a wobble, Lena stood up out of her seat and walked back towards the deck, looking out over the sea with folded arms as the boat bobbed gently in the water. Kara watched her, making sure that she didn’t go too close to the side, but she was also curious about why Lena had asked to stop here.

She didn’t have to wait long.

Lena turned around and beckoned her over. Careful not to rock the boat too much, what with two people standing up now, Kara made her way over to Lena, who took her life jacket off and laid it on the floor. Straight away, Kara reached out both hands to steady Lena by the upper arms.

“Lena? Why are you taking that off?”

“Shh,” she said, taking the hoodie off as well and dislodging Kara’s hands, placing it on top of the life jacket. She ran her fingers through the loose parts of her hair a few times, twirling a lock of it around her fingers before she let it go.

For a moment, they stood together in the boat, Lena eyeing the water nervously.

“You know, ever since my mother drowned in it, there’s something about the sea that’s always unsettled me. The way that it’s so deep, and how there are things in it that we haven’t even discovered yet,” Lena said, her fingers tapping on her folded arm. “And while, as a scientist, the thought of new discoveries obviously excites me, and I’m interested in what we could find and learn, the deep, dark, and often silent ocean… it bothers me. I could watch documentaries about sea life for days, go to humane aquariums and look at the different species, and I’m fine. But whenever I’m surrounded by the sea, like this, I… panic.”

Kara stepped closer to her and put her hand on the small of Lena’s back. “You’re not panicking now, though,” she observed.

Lena turned to face her, and Kara’s hand slid around to rest on Lena’s waist instead. The smile on Lena’s face was almost serene, completely at odds with her words about the ocean. She glanced at it again, before her eyes met Kara’s. “That’s because of you,” she admitted.

Kara was confused for a moment. “Me?”

Lena gave her a glittering smile that reached her eyes, and Kara felt herself bask in the warmth of it. “Yes, you, Kara Danvers. My whole life, I’ve managed to rarely be surrounded by water, unless I could possibly help it. Until this week, at least. And on our very first day here, I had to climb down a ladder into a boat and be sailed across the sea to an island. And yesterday, I fell in the sea-”

“I’m sorry-” Kara started to say, but she stuttered to a stop when Lena placed her hand on her upper chest, before her fingers began to toy with the strings hanging from Kara’s hood.

Lena kept her eyes on Kara’s, her gaze intent. “You have no need to apologize,” Lena said quietly, “none at all. Something occurred to me last night. That here, when I was in the sea and panicking, I was facing my greatest, my most primal fear. And you saved me,” she said, her voice low, almost at a whisper. Kara instinctively leaned closer so that she wouldn’t miss anything Lena said. “You saved me, and you made me feel safe again.”

Lena stepped closer to Kara, the hand by her chest sliding around her neck and the other around her waist, until Lena was hugging her, burying her face in the crook of her neck. “Nobody’s done that for me for a long, long time,” she murmured against Kara’s skin, the feel of which sent shivers down Kara’s spine. Kara wrapped her arms around Lena’s waist and pulled her even closer, breathing in the subtle scents of Lena’s perfume and shampoo. She felt surrounded by Lena, almost giddy with how happy that made her. There was no place that Kara would rather be than exactly where she was, with Lena’s arms around her.

She felt Lena’s breath against her neck before she pulled away. She stayed close, settling a palm on Kara’s cheek for a moment, before she gave her a crooked smile and sank to one knee. Lena took Kara’s left hand in hers, and with the other, she revealed the ring that Kara had chosen. At the sight of it in Lena’s hand, Kara’s heart started to race.

“I know we’ve only really known each other for a short time, but…” Lena said, her voice wavering slightly as she looked up at Kara, “you make me happy. I can’t think of anyone who’s taken such gentle care of me. Even when I basically demanded that you marry me, you helped me. Even when you were mad at me, when I was afraid on the plane, you helped me. You are a good person, such a good, kind person, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be on this… this crazy journey with,” Lena said, and Kara was shocked to see that Lena’s eyes were glistening, as if she were on the edge of tears. “I feel safe with you, safer than I’ve ever felt with anyone. I promise to always do my best by you, in whichever way you need me to. And I’m not demanding, now; I’m asking. Kara Danvers, will you marry me?”

It felt exactly like a proposal should, and Kara was powerless against the feelings that flooded her. She felt choked with the sincerity that Lena was showing her, with the way she bared her emotions. The tender way in which Lena held her hand, the way she gently stroked her thumb over the spot where the ring would rest, caused tears to spring to her own eyes.

“Of- of course I will,” Kara managed, her breath catching in her throat as Lena slid the ring home. It sparkled on her finger, and Lena gazed almost longingly at it, Kara’s hand held between both of hers. Lena looked up at her from her position on the deck, her eyes swimming with happiness that looked so genuine that Kara felt her heart flip over in her chest.

Before she knew what she was doing, she sank to her own knees and kissed Lena, sliding her hands across her cheeks, down her jaw, and her fingers coming to rest, tangling in dark hair. Lena’s own hands came up and Kara felt them gently cup her own face, as Lena kissed her back. It was as heartfelt as it was desperate, and Kara felt herself overflow with warmth when Lena pressed back against her with not a single trace of hesitation.

The whole world seemed to shrink to the feeling of Lena’s lips moving against hers, to the way her thumb moved against Kara’s cheekbone. To the way Lena’s soft lips parted. To the way the warm heat of her mouth pressed so firmly to Kara’s. Lena made a whimpering around at the back of her throat, and Kara’s fingers clutched tighter at Lena’s hair as Lena wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled Kara flush against herself.

Kara almost gasped at the contact, and when she felt the barest touch of Lena’s tongue against her bottom lip, heat flashed through her. She allowed the entrance Lena asked for, and immediately the kiss changed. It became intense; it was deeper, bolder. At the first swipe of Lena’s tongue against hers, Kara’s knees felt like they were going to buckle. At the first taste of Lena, they did. But as Kara fell back on her haunches, one hand dropping to the small of Lena’s back, Lena came forward. Within a moment, their position had changed, and Lena was kneeling over Kara’s lap, her thighs straddling Kara’s waist.

Lena tasted like mint, and the thought burst through her- she was kissing Lena. She was kissing Lena, and Lena was kissing her back. She could feel the way her body was pressed up against hers. Delighted in the way she had to crane her neck upwards to reach Lena’s mouth. Loved the way that Lena kissed her with reckless abandon and no inhibition at all. Loved the way that Lena kissed her like she was precious, the gentle but firm pressure of her mouth, the sharp nip at her bottom lip followed by the soft, soothing press of her tongue.

They broke apart, both breathless, one of Lena’s hand’s on the back of Kara’s neck, the other wrapped around her bicep; Kara could feel the dig of her fingertips through the hoodie as Lena held on tight. Kara could feel Lena’s breath ghosting against her sensitive lips, and she leaned upwards to press a soft, sweet kiss to Lena’s mouth before she sat back again.

Slowly, as if she thought Kara would move away, Lena ran her thumb across Kara’s bottom lip, a bashful look on her face. Kara closed her eyes as Lena’s fingertips moved over her face, tracing laughter lines, the scar between her eyebrows, the corner of her mouth. They didn’t speak as they sat together on the floor of the boat, the sea lapping gently at the sides. When Lena’s fingertips left her face, Kara’s eyes met Lena’s, and her warm green eyes were full of affection.

A shy smile crossed Lena’s face as she disentangled herself from Kara, sitting back on her own haunches. There was a silence between them, as if neither of them knew what to say about what had just happened.

Had Kara just got caught up in the moment of the emotional proposal? Why had she kissed Lena? And why had Lena kissed her back? And not just a quick kiss that could be passed off as something fake for the camera, no; that was a real kiss. It had been deliberate, on both their parts.

And Kara didn’t know what to do with that.

Neither, it seemed, did Lena, who carefully got to her feet, holding onto Kara’s shoulder for balance. She bent to pick up her hoodie and the jacket, before straightening up.

Kara stood up as well, and they looked at each other silently, until Kara started to giggle, the adrenaline of the moment catching up to her. Confusion crossed Lena’s face for a moment before she gave her a more hesitant smile.

“I hope the proposal… um, I hope it didn’t disappoint,” Lena said, looking at Kara earnestly, as if she was searching for something in her face.

“No, not at all,” Kara replied. “In fact I- if I hadn’t known it was fake, I would’ve thought it was real.”

Whatever Lena had been looking for, she seemed to find it in Kara’s words. A flash of hurt zipped across her face so quickly that Kara wasn’t sure she’d seen it at all, before Lena plastered another smile on her face, one that didn’t reach her eyes.

“Good,” she said quietly, before making her way back to her seat without looking at Kara.

Kara, too lost in the daze of the kiss, didn’t notice the way that Lena’s shoulders had slumped.

When she sat back down, Kara switched the ignition of the boat on, and swung it gently around back towards Midvale. During the time they’d been stopped, the boat had drifted to face towards the open sea. She cast a worried glance over at Lena to see if she was alright, but Lena was looking out towards Kasiana Island.

“Are you alright?” Kara asked her.

“I’m fine,” Lena said quietly, folding her arms over her chest. “Go slow, okay?”

Kara watched her for a moment, before she turned her eyes back to the water. Lena was nervous of the water, after all. She moved the boat through the water, the same half-speed she’d gone before, and they made their way towards Midvale. The sky was starting to darken with the approaching sunset as the early evening wore on. Kara quickly looked at her phone, seeing that the time was close to 6pm, and wished she could step on the speed a little. She resisted, thinking of Lena’s comfort, and eventually, they docked against the same ladder as always.

Kara tied the boat up while Lena took her life jacket back off, leaving it under the seat at the front, along with the hoodie. It was a cool evening, but not cold, and the breeze was almost warm. A nice evening for carrying groceries through town without overheating. Kara steadied the boat while Lena climbed off it and up the ladder, and Kara slung both backpacks and the cooler bag over her shoulders and arm, before climbing up herself.

When she reached the top, she found Lena standing there with a somber look on her face. Before Kara could ask her if she was okay, the expression cleared and Lena held her hand out. “Pass me one of the bags?” she asked. “Can’t have you carrying everything like a pack mule. Doesn’t seem fair.”

“Har har har,” Kara replied, handing one of the backpacks over to her. She had to suppress a laugh when Lena put it on her back; the ratty old sports backpack didn’t go at all well with what she was wearing, but Lena didn’t seem to mind one bit. Kara was once again struck by how much had changed since they first arrived.

But Lena hadn’t really changed, had she? No, Kara thought, as she fell into step alongside Lena. Lena had just allowed herself to be seen by Kara. She’d let Kara in, let herself be seen as the geeky, funny, witty, and… seductive woman that she was. Lena’s flirtiness made her head spin, and the memory of their kiss on the boat filled her mind. It was obvious to her with every step that she needed to have a shower. More than ever, she was sure that she wanted Lena, in all the ways that she could want someone.

Despite how fast it would’ve been, Kara wished that the proposal on the boat had been real. She knew how ridiculous it would seem to someone hearing their story; knowing each other for three years, but never having had a personal conversation until a few days ago, and wishing that they could be together after only those few days. It was as if beneath Lena’s professional armor, she’d found the person she’d been looking for, the person she wanted to be with.  

The thought terrified her. They were supposed to be faking a relationship; Kara wasn’t supposed to be letting her very real feelings blossom into some kind of unrequited love. She looked over at Lena, walking beside her. Her jawline was sharp, but Kara knew from experience that it was soft to the touch. Her countenance didn’t give much away, but Kara now knew that the only reason Lena didn’t smile all the time was that she didn’t allow herself to; that in fact, left to her own devices, Lena smiled a lot. She couldn’t believe that just a week ago, she’d never seen Lena display a real smile. Now, it seemed, she’d hardly seen her display anything else.

Kara knew her feelings were real, but the way that Lena had kissed her… the passionate, yet gentle, way that she’d kissed her today, especially that last one… Kara felt that was real, too.

She missed a step as a lightbulb flashed on in her mind. Did Lena have feelings for her, too? Shit, had Kara hurt her feelings on the boat? That look on her face had been hurt, and Kara couldn’t believe she hadn’t recognized it.

Lena had been looking for some kind of confirmation that Kara felt the same, and all Kara had said was that it was fake.

Kara felt her heart sink. What if she’d blown it already? What if Lena was already hardening her heart against Kara, chalking her up as just one more person who’d hurt her? She felt her pulse quicken at the thought of it. She had to turn it around, somehow. She had to make it up to Lena.

The proposal, while not necessarily real, had been given with genuine feelings. What words Lena had spoken, she meant, and Kara was almost sure of it.

She didn’t want Lena to think that her feelings, if that’s what they were, weren’t returned.

But then, Kara thought with horror, how awful would it be to really fall for Lena, really fall for her, then fail the relationship interview on Monday morning? How terrible would it be to be ripped away from Lena, after she’d only just found her? To suddenly have Lena forced to the other side of the Atlantic, away from her, all alone? As alone as Kara would be? Who would hold her hand on the plane?

The thought squeezed at Kara’s heart like a vice, and without thinking about it twice, Kara reached her hand out and took hold of Lena’s, holding it tightly with her own. Lena looked bemusedly at her sudden movement, but Kara only closed the distance between them, unwilling to even be at arm’s length away from her.

She’d have to show Lena how she felt. Surely, she could somehow find the courage to do that? But should she even broach the topic, knowing how much it would hurt if she was wrong, or how much it would hurt more if she was right and they failed the interview?

Kara swallowed, hard. This was an impossible situation, and her thoughts bounced around in her head so quickly that she could hardly hold on to one before another one made itself known.

It crossed her mind that this would’ve been so much easier if they’d actually hated each other. If Lena hadn’t been so kind, so sweet, so thoughtful, and so damned lovely underneath her work mask. If Kara hadn’t been nursing a crush on her ever since the first time she met her. If Lena's self-inflicted, martyr-like loneliness hadn’t wrenched at Kara’s heart and made her determined to do something about it. If she didn’t find her so attractive or impressive. If she didn’t admire her courage and fortitude so much.

If she didn’t know how Lena’s lips felt against hers.

But she did.

And now she didn’t know what to do. She felt panic rise within her at the two stark choices that ultimately, she had to choose between.

One. She could keep Lena at arm’s length, put a stop to whatever was happening between them, to whatever could happen between them. Protect both of their hearts, concentrate on passing the interview and getting Lena’s visa, and in the meantime, breaking at least Kara’s heart in the process. Possibly breaking both of their hearts, depending on whether or not Lena felt the same as Kara. She was sure that this option wouldn’t lead to them even having a friendship, never mind a relationship.

Two. She could lean into whatever was happening. Find out how Lena really felt, even though she was pretty sure that Lena had already shown her with her kisses, had probably been trying to show her in that nervously flirty, but shy way that she had. In the way she brought her flowers, in the way she was always checking how Kara was, the way she teased her. They could see where it went, possibly fall for each other, and try to pass the tests. This way, they could be truly happy. Or, they could be absolutely heartbroken if they failed the test, and Lena was deported.

Neither option filled her with confidence, and she supposed that her tension must have been visible on her face, because Lena dragged her into the next alley they passed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, looking at Kara with worried green eyes.

“I’m uh, I’m okay,” Kara lied, and she knew that Lena hadn’t bought into it for a second.

Lena gave her such a penetrating look that Kara was squirming underneath it. “Kara.”

“Lena, not here, please,” Kara begged. “I’m okay, nothing’s changed.” Lena’s eyes darkened, and not in a good way. Kara scrambled to fix it before she broke it forever. “It’s- I mean, I haven’t changed, neither have you, I- I’m just trying to sort some things out in my head. I promise it’s not you, or well it’s partly you, but it’s not a bad thing, or at least, it might not be-”

Kara,” Lena interrupted firmly. “I must say that while I do find your inarticulateness endearing at times, this is not one of those times. I can’t make heads or tails of what you’re trying to say, because you seem to be trying to say something and then immediately doubling back on it. And you look like you’re panicking.”

Kara floundered, unsure of what to say in response, and kind understanding dawned on Lena’s face. She came closer, placing a calming hand on Kara’s cheek. Kara found that her thoughts quieted immediately.

“Darling,” Lena murmured, and Kara’s heart leapt. “Is this about… what happened on the boat?” Her eyes searched Kara’s, the light in them dimming as Kara confirmed nothing. “You don’t need to… you don’t need to worry about that. Not if you don’t…” Lena sighed, not finishing the sentence. “Just let me know, are you alright? Are you hurt, somehow?”

No, but I think you are, or we could be, and I’ve just discovered that that’s killing me.

“No, I’m- I’m okay,” Kara said, placing her hand over Lena’s on her face. “I just need to think a little.”

“Are you sure?”

I love this caring side of you, Lena.

“Yes.”

“Okay then,” Lena said, stepping away from Kara and waiting. Kara pulled her gently by the hand back out onto the street. They were almost at the grocery store, and they really needed to get the shopping done before the store closed at seven.

Martians was Midvale’s largest grocery store, and it was run by a lady called M’gann M’orzz, who was married to J’onn J’onzz, the security guard at the airport. She’d spent her life travelling the world and falling in love with a lot of different foods. When she’d inherited a large sum of money from her parents, she’d used the money to start a store where she could sell the basics, but from time to time she’d do a Greek month, or run an Italian deli, a Turkish stall, or anything else that took her fancy. She imported all sorts of meats, cheeses, and other delicacies from whichever country it was at the time, and Midvale’s citizens enjoyed the exotic food for as long as it lasted. Generally, it didn’t last very long, because M’gann’s events were always very popular with people eager to try some something new. She always did one during the Big Paint, and everyone spent their lunchtimes eating interesting things.

Despite herself and her worries, Kara wondered whether there was an event on right now.

The door to Martians slid open as Lena grabbed a small shopping cart from the rail outside and wheeled it to the entrance. Lena fished the list out of her pocket, which Kara had entirely forgotten about, and unfolded it. She ran one of her long fingers down it before looking up at the bright signs hanging above the aisles. “Shall we make a start?” she asked. “Or should I just quickly go to the liquor store over the road and pick up some scotch for Alex and I?”

“Oh,” Kara said, checking the time again. “Go and get the scotch first, because they close earlier than Martians. I’ll get going with this.”

Lena handed her the list a little reluctantly. “Kara,” she said, her voice low and teasing. “Don’t buy the whole shop. We only have two backpacks and a coolerbag-”

Kara struck a muscleman pose without thinking. “Sure, but I have strong arms and can carry a lot.” She hid her inner wince at how ridiculous that sounded, and just went with it. Even though the hoodie hid anything she could display, she found herself flexing a little under Lena’s incredulous stare.

“Could you pick me up with just one arm?” Lena wondered, obviously distracted, tapping one finger on the side of her face as she thought.

“Hmm, maybe,” Kara replied. “Let’s try!”

“Oi, you two, stop flirting in my store and spend some money instead!” came a call from the counter. Kara spun around and flushed when she saw M’gann leaning back against some shelves behind the till, her arms crossed and her face wearing a knowing expression.

Lena, to Kara’s surprise, didn’t seem embarrassed at all. “How many bags of groceries do you think she could carry back to that boat of hers?” Lena asked, wandering over to the counter followed by a sheepish Kara.

“Quite a few, I’d say,” M’gann replied, looking at Kara as if she was weighing her up. “With you on her back as well.”

“Well. We’ll have to give that a try some time,” Lena replied, slipping her arm through the crook of Kara’s. “Is that biltong?” she asked, looking across at the display. “And boerewors? Beef?”

“Yes,” M’gann said, straightening up as she sensed Lena’s interest. “Have you been to South Africa?”

“Many times,” Lena said, letting go of Kara and perusing the selection of sticks of meat hanging up under the glass. “How wet is this?”

“It’s about medium,” M’gann said, “but if you want it drier, I can dry some for you.”

“I like it medium actually, maybe a little wetter,” Lena replied, her voice deep, glancing sideways at Kara.

“Lena,” Kara almost choked, interrupting before she could get too off-track. The double entendre was clear in Lena’s smirk. “Didn’t you need to go and buy some scotch?”

Lena snapped her fingers. “Yes. But I’ll be back,” she said to M’gann, before she gave Kara a kiss on her cheek and walked out of the store.

Both Kara and M’gann watched her go.

“She’s really pretty,” M’gann commented after they watched Lena disappear into the off-licence. “Full of moxie, too.”

“That’s for sure,” Kara sighed fondly.

“Can you keep up with her?”

“I really hope so.”

Kara spent the time that Lena was gone walking up and down the aisles, getting the things on the list. Despite her display earlier, she’d been doing the shopping with the boat in mind for years, and she knew where the weight limits were. Kara fetched the lighter stuff while Alex and Eliza, sharing a different boat with an easier mooring spot, got all the heavier items such as drinks, canned goods, and any equipment they ever needed to move around. Kara’s shopping trips were more frequent, but less heavy, and she never minded. The feeling she got while she was whipping across the water was akin to how she thought it must be to fly. It was so freeing.

The shopping cart quickly filled with the essentials and the things that Kara had noticed they were running low on at home. She added a few treats as well. She was just adding a very large bar of chocolate when it was snatched out of her hand.

“I’m pretty sure that I didn’t add a chocolate bar the size of both of our faces to the list,” Lena drawled.

“Oh, but-”

Lena silenced her with a raise of her eyebrow. “I’ll let you have it on one condition,” she said, holding the chocolate hostage.

Kara rose to the challenge. “What’s that, then?”

“You eat every bite of the healthy meal I’m making for dinner.”

“Lenaaaa,” Kara whined, but it was just for show and Lena knew it, judging by the way she waved the chocolate at her. “Fine,” she conceded, and Lena put the chocolate in the cart.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Lena said.

Kara grumbled under her breath, and beside her, Lena chuckled.

“Did you get your scotch? You were a while over there.”

For some reason, Lena’s face turned a little pink. “Yeah, I got talking with the owner. Did you know he’s done a tour of all the scotch distilleries in Scotland? All of them?”

“How many are there?” Kara asked absently, picking bags of popcorn off the shelves and adding them to the cart.

“A hundred and twenty.”

“Shit, really? He must’ve been toasted pretty regularly,” Kara laughed.

“Yeah, well, he had some really nice stuff in his shop…” Lena said, trailing off. Kara noticed that she gripped the handles of her backpack a little tighter, as if it was really heavy.

“Lena.”

“Yeeees?”

“How many bottles of whisky did you buy?”

Lena pouted.

“Oh my god, how many?!”

“Well, in my defence, I don’t know what kind of whisky Alex likes so I bought one from each of the whisky-producing regions-”

“How many are there?” Kara squeaked, pushing the cart around the corner.

“…five.”

“You’ve got five bottles of whisky in your backpack?!” Kara asked incredulously, her voice climbing in pitch. The cart screeched to a halt in the middle of the aisle, causing Lena to bump gently into her back.

“Yeah.” Kara gaped at her. “You look like a fish like that. A really pretty one, but still.” Kara snapped her mouth closed. “I got some really nice ones that the owner pulled out from the back once he realized that we share a taste for Islay scotch. I’ve got, um, a lot of whisky at home already, so I won’t need to bring these back to New York with us. I’m sure Alex will enjoy them.”

Kara rolled her eyes fondly. “I’m sure she’ll be thrilled,” she said, holding out her hand. “Let me carry them for you. That bag’s got to be heavy.”

Lena handed it over to her without complaint, looking relieved. “Right. I’m going to get the ingredients for dinner,” she announced. “Stay here!”

Kara stayed where she was, watching as Lena headed towards the fish section.

“Little finger, meet Kara Danvers,” Kara heard M’gann say as she passed the top of the aisle, waggling her little finger at Kara as she went. Kara laughed and stuck a different finger up at her, hearing M’gann’s laughter echoing as she passed out of sight.

Not long later, Lena came back carrying four large salmon fillets, tenderstem broccoli, baby asparagus, and some other kind of green… thing. Kara’s face must have looked as dismayed as she felt, because when Lena caught sight of it, she struggled to keep from laughing out loud.

“Every bite, or no chocolate,” Lena reminded her.

“Yes, dear,” Kara replied.

They finished the rest of their shopping before they made their way up to the counter. When they got there, Lena looked at the sticks of biltong before selecting four for M’gann to slice. Once it was weighed and bagged, Lena picked out a few pots of the South African spices, insisting that they would be good with the steaks they’d chosen. M’gann added it to the total and Lena handed over her black American Express card before Kara could open her own wallet.

M’gann’s eyebrows rose when she saw it, but she said nothing as she swiped it through the reader and Lena signed her name. Lena tucked the card back into her purse, before shoving it unceremoniously in her back pocket. They crammed a few of the lighter items in the bag with the whisky, whatever would fit, and some into the other backpack, before ending up with five shopping bags between them. Kara took three and Lena two, and they both said bye to M’gann as they left.

“She was nice,” Lena commented as they made their way down the street. It was dark already, and with a slight pang of guilt, Kara realized that they’d actually been in the shop way past the closing time. Given how much they, or Lena, had spent though, she didn’t think M’gann minded.

“Yeah, she is,” Kara replied, and then explained about the different food weeks that M’gann did from time to time.

“Oh, so that’s why she had all the South African food in the shop?” Lena asked. “I haven’t had biltong in a while.”

“I don’t even know what biltong is,” Kara admitted.

“I beg your pardon? Does this mean I get to introduce you to something new?” she asked, sounding pleased. She stopped and put her bags on the ground, fishing through one of them until she found the bag with the biltong in it. She pulled out a piece and inspected it before passing it to Kara, who eyed it dubiously.

“Just give it a go.” Kara did, and immediately her mouth burst with flavor as she chewed it. It was tender and moist, not at all dry like she expected it to be; it had a deep taste, savory, but Kara couldn’t place the flavour. All she knew was that it was delicious, and Lena must’ve read the look on her face, because she passed her another piece straight away.

“It’s healthy,” Lena said, laughing into her hand as she watched Kara enjoy it.

“Nothing that tasty can possibly be healthy Lena,” Kara said. “Can I have some more?”

Lena raised both her eyebrows, but dutifully passed her another piece. “It’s cured, dried meat. People add all sorts of spices or herbs in the rub, but essentially, it’s salt, black pepper, and vinegar, plus whatever else. Then it’s hung up in a specific kind of drying box.”

“So it’s not cooked?”

“Not at all,” Lena said, picking up the bags and carrying on down the street.

“And you can make this?”

“I’ve made it many times. I developed a taste for it while I was visiting South Africa once, and I make it at home whenever I’m in the mood for it. It’s a good, healthy snack,” Lena emphasized, “as long as you don’t eat it by the bucketload. There are no additives, and it’s only as fatty as you want it to be.”

“Well, color me amazed,” Kara said happily, hefting the bags in her hands as they continued towards the boat. It wasn’t that Kara disliked healthy food exactly, but like she told Lena, the best stuff was always the stuff that wasn’t good for you. She was even more doubtful that Lena could make broccoli and asparagus taste good, but she’d just have to trust the woman next to her.

And she did trust her, in more ways than one. It was just one more implausible truth that she’d come to accept in the last few days; that in Lena, she’d found someone she could trust to do the right thing to the best of her ability.

Aside, of course, from attempting to defraud the government. But even that was being done without regard to her heart and with her companies in mind, rather than herself.

Shaking her head at the contradictions that Lena presented to her life, they made their way to the harbor, stopping to chat to anyone who said hello to them. She introduced Lena to no less than seven new people on the way, including some of her old teachers from high school. Thankfully, she always had the excuse of their shopping that needed refrigeration, because Lena seemed keen to ask each of her old teachers about what Kara had been like in class.

When they got to the boat, Kara climbed down and Lena tied the handles of the bags, dropping them carefully over the edge to Kara’s waiting arms. It was much faster doing it with another person, Kara thought as she stashed another bag at the back of the deck and indicated she was ready for another. Usually she had to scramble up and down the ladder multiple times to get everything down into the boat. Finally, Lena climbed down the ladder herself, stepping carefully onto the deck. Kara turned the side lights and masthead lights on, so that she could see where she’d be going; crossing the Sound in the dark wasn’t difficult, but she’d still need to be vigilant.

Once Lena had got into her hoodie and life jacket, Kara set the course and they began their homeward journey. Lena’s face was lit by the different colored lights, but mostly by the masthead light, making her look rather ghostly. It was very bright, and Lena was already pale, and she almost seemed to glow. Kara kept casting glances over at Lena as often as she dared, and loved the way that the light cast shadows on her face. She very much wanted to see how Lena would look bathed in moonlight, rather than something artificial, and wondered how she could orchestrate that happening.

When they passed the spot where they’d stopped earlier, despite the cold breeze on her face now that night had fallen, she felt heat wash over her. It seemed that the same thing had occurred to Lena, because she looked steadily over at Kara. Movement caught Kara’s eye, and she looked over, only to see Lena’s hand returning to her lap. Had she tried to reach over? Throwing caution to the wind, she held her own hand out, and Lena tentatively reached for hers, slotting her fingers between Kara’s.

The smile on Lena’s face was almost relieved, but Kara could tell that there was an undercurrent of something else there as well. All at once she was hit once again with the thought that perhaps Lena did indeed feel something for her more than she had said, something more than friendship, something more than a fake engagement.

The boat engine was too loud to have a proper conversation over while they were travelling, so they made the trip in silence, but with their fingers entwined. Somehow, Kara thought that said more than words could, anyway. She could feel Lena’s thumb travelling over her skin, and her gentle touch sent shivers up and down her arm.

As they approached home, Kara saw that Eliza’s boat was already tied up to one side of the dock. She carefully maneuvered Streaky to the other side, helping Lena out of the boat and passing all of the shopping out to her.

Lena’s silence was ongoing though, and for the first time, the silence between them seemed somewhat awkward. It was disturbing for Kara, because the silences they shared now were always comfortable. But not now. The air felt thick with something heavy, and she felt it settle on her shoulders. As they approached the house, Kara put her bags down on the lawn, and stopped Lena with a hand on her arm.

“It’s my turn now to ask if you’re okay,” Kara asked quietly, when Lena had turned to face her.

Lena sighed, putting her bags down in the grass as well. “Is now really the time to talk about this?”

“What’s this?” Kara asked. “Lena?”

Uncharacteristically, Lena kicked a boot against the grass, a gesture that seemed so unlike her that Kara immediately reached out to put her hand on Lena’s shoulder. “I’m okay,” Lena mumbled.

“You don’t seem okay,” Kara replied, ducking her head to get into Lena’s line of sight.

At that, Lena gave her a look very reminiscent of the moment she walked away from Kara when she asked Lena why she couldn’t swim. “Kara,” Lena said, not unkindly, meeting her eyes. “When you didn’t want to talk about… it, I respected that. Just- for now, at least, could you please grant me the same courtesy?”

“Of course, I’m sorry,” Kara said, stepping away from Lena.

“I think we… maybe we should. Talk about it, I mean,” Lena hedged a little, stepping up closer to Kara, clearly unwilling for there to be distance between them. “But not when we’re about to spend some time with Eliza.”

“Okay,” Kara said. “May I just ask though if- if we’re… are we talking about the same thing?”

Lena’s eyes filled with compassion, and she tilted her head to the side as she placed her hand on Kara’s forearm. “I think that maybe we are. And I don’t know where we- but, we should go in. This food needs to go away, and big strong women such as you need their dinner, right?”

Kara appreciated Lena’s attempt at levity, as well as her admission that she was also struggling with what was happening between them. She wondered, though, whether it was for the same reasons.

“Right,” she said, flexing again and making Lena laugh, even if the sound was a little choked. “Come on. Let’s get this inside and you can attempt to make me eat more healthy food.”

Every bite,” Lena repeated, pointing a finger playfully at Kara, “and if you compliment it, you’ll get some chocolate for dessert.”

“Oh game on, Miss Luthor!” And with that, Kara picked up all five bags of shopping and struggled up the lawn with them, leaving Lena trailing her, her laughter now free of sadness.

Lena opened the door for her when she reached it, and Kara wobbled down the hallway to the kitchen. When she burst through the door there, Eliza’s head snapped up in alarm as Kara almost tripped over her own feet. The shopping bags flailed as she fought to keep her balance, and it was only when she felt Lena’s arms wrap around her middle from behind that she caught herself.

“Okay?” Lena murmured in her ear.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m okay,” Kara stuttered, the adrenaline making her giggle. “Hi,” she said to Eliza, who had stood up to take some of the bags off her.

“Hi girls,” Eliza replied. “Did you have a good trip into town?”

“Lena bought the entire liquor store,” Kara said, ratting Lena out immediately.

“Hey!” Lena protested. “I didn’t buy the whole store-”

“You totally did. You bought five whole bottles of scotch-”

“Well I didn’t know what Alex would like!”

“You two are like an old married couple already,” Eliza butted in, smiling at both of them. “I can’t tell if I should get you both sticks to poke each other with or give you both a hug for making me laugh.”

She opened her arms and both Kara and Lena stepped into them, all hugging each other for a second, before Eliza let them go and put a hand on each of their cheeks. “I’m actually going to go to bed now, because I have to go in to work early tomorrow; I’m leaving early to come home before the storm hits. Alex and Maggie are in the living room though, if you want to join them?”

“Oh okay,” Kara said. “I hope you sleep well!”

“Goodnight Eliza,” Lena said, before Eliza wrapped her in an additional hug. Lena’s face wore a look of surprise, before she melted into the embrace and squeezed her eyes shut.

When Eliza had gone upstairs, Maggie poked her head through the door. “Thought we heard you two! How are you both?”

“Great,” Lena replied, before she called out, “hey, Alex!”

“Yeah?” Kara heard her shout back.

Lena unzipped the backpack and started pulling out the bottles of scotch she’d bought.

“Alex!” Maggie and Kara both shouted together.

“What?!”

“Do you want some scotch?” Lena called, cocking her head in the direction of the living room.

The next thing Kara knew, Alex had come out of the living room, dressed in her uniform, although it was rumpled. “Scotch, you say?” Her eyes lit up when she saw what Lena was pulling out of the bag and placing on the kitchen table. She beelined over straight away, picking up one of them. “I’ve not even heard of some of this stuff,” she said, her voice full of awe.

“Oh?” Lena said, an interested look on her face. “Well, have you both eaten?” Alex and Maggie both shook their heads. “Alright. Well, I’m going to prepare dinner and it should be ready in about half an hour or so, if you can wait that long?”

“Sure,” Maggie said. “Thanks Lena.”

Alex was still staring at the bottles with a look of disbelief on her face.

“I didn’t know which you’d like, so I got one from each of the whisky-producing regions of Scotland. I suppose that Islay is part of the Islands group but since Islay is one of the islands, I just went with that, since it’s my favorite,” Lena said, pointing one out. “That’s from Islay. Octomore 6.3. It’s very heavily peated. Do you like that?”

Alex was silent for a moment, before she turned to Kara. “It’s lucky she’s already engaged to you, otherwise I’d be asking her to marry me right now,” she said, her voice completely serious.

As one, they all started laughing. “Go on, open it,” Lena urged. “I wasn’t sure if you had any Glencairn glasses, so I picked two up as well,” she said, pulling two small boxes out of the bag and heading over to the sink to wash them. Kara handed her a tea towel to dry them with, and Lena handed one to Alex.

Alex opened the bottle of whisky, and immediately her eyes lit up. “My god. It smells like a fire,” she said excitedly, pouring herself a dram of it and taking a deep sniff. She took a sip, let it settle, and swallowed it. She breathed out as if she was breathing fire itself, and she closed her eyes.

“I think she’s having a religious experience,” Maggie stage-whispered, and Lena snorted inelegantly, causing Kara to laugh as well.

“I should hope so. I hope the rest will be just as holy,” Lena said, bending over to get the baking trays out of the cupboard. “Kara? You can chop the new potatoes.”

“Yes ma’am,” Kara replied dutifully, fetching herself a knife from the rack. She took her hoodie off and left it on the back of one of the chairs, before rolling the sleeves of her shirt up. Between her and Lena, they chopped up enough potatoes for the four of them while Alex and Maggie put the rest of the shopping away around them. When they were done, Lena seasoned the potatoes with olive oil, salt, and black pepper, before putting them in the oven.

Next, she laid out the salmon fillets on the second baking tray, making sure there was a gap between all of them, and filled the rest of the tray with the tenderstem broccoli, asparagus, and… the other green vegetable Kara didn’t recognize.

“What’s this?” she asked, poking at it dubiously.

“It’s samphire,” Lena said, furrowing her brows at Kara. “You lived in Alaska, how do you not know that?”

“It’s green,” Kara said, as if that was enough of an explanation.

“Eliza always had such difficulty trying to get Kara to eat her vegetables,” Alex said, raising a glass to Lena. “Kudos to you for giving it a try in front of witnesses.”

“Oh, I’m sure I can get her to eat it,” Lena said, pouring herself a dram of the Octomore before squeezing a lemon out over the food in the tray. “I bribed her with chocolate.”

“That’ll do it,” Alex said, taking another sip of her drink. “Damn. This is good shit Lena,” she said, once she’d got her breath back. “How come I’ve never had this before?”

Kara noticed that Lena was blushing slightly as she finished drizzling the fish. She didn’t say anything as she put salt, pepper, and olive oil on it as well, before putting it in the oven.

“I think what Lena’s trying to say without saying anything at all is that the scotch was expensive,” Kara said eventually.

Kara! It- it wasn’t that much. And in any case I’d want you to keep it here as a- as a thank you for the welcome you gave me,” Lena said, her voice marked by shyness and more than a little embarrassment.

“So you’re actually a secret softy, is that it?” Maggie said, wrapping her arm over Lena’s shoulders. Her voice was kind though, and Kara could hear the implied gratitude in it as plain as day.

“You’d have to ask Kara,” Lena demurred.

Kara, who had just put the second baking tray in the oven, turned back to face them. “She absolutely is,” she confirmed.

“Well then,” Lena said, but her face said she was pleased. She looked at the kitchen clock so she’d know when to take the food out of the oven, and they all went into the living room, turning the kitchen light out on their way.

Maggie had a beer on one of the side tables, so she and Alex made their way over to the sofa next to it, and Kara sat on the other sofa. Lena sat down next to her, but Kara could tell she was still feeling the moment from outside from the way she didn’t sit up against her as she usually would.

Either Alex or Maggie had built a fire, and they hadn’t put any other lights on, so the firelight sent dancing patterns of light across everyone’s faces. Kara leaned back slightly against the armrest so that she could look at the fire, as well as surreptitiously at Lena, who was sipping at her drink quietly.

Maggie told everyone about the day she and Alex had had, which was busier than usual. Someone had called in that their cows had escaped on the outskirts of town, so they’d both had to spend half their day helping to corral two heifers who weren’t prepared to go back to their fields.

Lena was laughing at the story, but Kara barely heard it.

Instead, her mind was aflame with the memory of the kiss that they’d shared on the boat. The heat from the fire was relaxing her, and the sofa she and Lena were sitting on wasn’t very large. Even with Kara leaning against the armrest and with Lena not sitting as closely as usual, they were still touching at the calves. Although they were still dressed, it was as if Kara could feel every centimetre of where they were touching, the contact making her skin feel like it was scorching. In a nod to their fake engagement, the hand that wasn’t wrapped around her glass, Lena had resting on Kara’s knee. Every now and again, she would shift, and every time she did, it sent a jolt of fire straight through Kara.

The flames danced Lena’s face into both light and shadow, and it made her look moody, mysterious, and seductive. Her face right now reminded Kara of myths and legends; she looked somehow timeless, and Kara’s heart beat fast when Lena looked over at her, her eyes dilated from looking across the room in the dim light. But Kara’s mind, and body, told her it was for another reason, and she felt her whole body flush in response.

Kara was almost squirming next to Lena on the seat, her heart pounding hard in her chest, and the urge to do something about it was nearly impossible to ignore.

Unable to stop herself, she leaned forward and took Lena’s hand from her knee, settling back down on the sofa with it cradled between both of hers. Lena’s eyes caught hers, and Kara could see she was puzzled, but Kara just need to hold some part of Lena. Maybe the nervous tension inside her would dissipate if she could just distract herself enough…

It was a mistake, though, holding Lena’s hand. She was warm, and Kara loved the way that their hands seemed to fit so well together. Despite Lena’s unwillingness to talk about it earlier, and her decision to not sit as close to Kara right now, she was clearly not as unaffected as she pretended to be. Kara heard Lena’s breath hitch as Kara ran her index finger down the middle of Lena’s palm and back up. Kara touched her own fingertips to each of Lena’s before pulling them back down, softly tracing them across Lena’s skin all the way down to her own fingertips.

Turning Lena’s hand over, Kara drew shapeless patterns into the back of Lena’s hand, her heart pounding harder than ever. She knew what she was doing. This was the most deliberate, intimate way that she’d ever touched Lena, and the knowledge of it made her chest feel tight and her breath come quickly.

This was touching Lena because she wanted to. Indulgently. Unambiguously.

Turning her hand again, Kara slowly ran the backs of her nails up the inside of Lena’s wrist and into her palm.

Lena snatched her hand away from Kara, as if she’d been burnt, and stood up abruptly. “I’m just going to check on the dinner,” she announced in a shaky voice to Alex and Maggie, who didn’t seem to notice anything was up. When she was gone, Kara got to her feet as well, and followed Lena out.

As she stepped into the kitchen, she noticed Lena had left the light off. The only reason she could see Lena at all was because the light from inside the oven cast a low glow throughout the room. Lena was standing with her back to Kara, but when she heard that someone had followed her in, she spun around, her hands clutching the work surface behind her.

For a moment, neither of them moved or spoke. Slowly, Kara moved towards Lena, giving her every opportunity to tell her to stop. Lena said nothing; she watched as Kara made her way toward her, until finally Kara was standing right in front of her. The engagement ring twinkled in the glow of the oven, and it caught Lena’s eye. She took Kara’s hand, turning it over so that they could both see the ring, glowing in the space between them. Lena looked up at Kara, a silent question in her eyes.

When Kara reached up and unclipped Lena’s hair, letting it fall down around her shoulders, framing her face in dark waves, Lena still didn’t stop her. When Kara slid her fingers up the back of Lena’s neck and into the soft dark hair, gently scratching on her way up, Lena shivered, resting her own hand on Kara’s upper chest. When Kara stepped closer to her, closing the distance between them, Lena gripped the front of Kara’s shirt and pulled her the rest of the way.

It was messy when their lips met. They crashed together and all the tension that had built up throughout the day spilled over as they grabbed at each other, Lena with her arms around Kara’s neck, pulling her closer, and Kara with one hand fisted in Lena’s hair, the other around her waist, holding her tightly against her.

It was wet, open-mouthed, and Lena bit Kara’s lower lip before soothing it with her tongue. Kara felt an animalistic growl rumble deep in her throat as she pushed back against Lena, lifting her up onto the counter without breaking the kiss, and pressing herself between her legs. Lena wrapped her legs around Kara, locking them together, and Kara pushed her tongue into her mouth, reveling in the whimper she heard in response. She tasted of the scotch she’d been drinking, as well as something else that Kara knew was just Lena, and Kara couldn’t get enough of it. She tightened her fingers in Lena’s hair, and angled her head for better access.

Lena gave as good as she got, pulling at Kara’s hair to tilt her head up higher and raking her nails down the back of Kara’s neck. She could feel Lena’s chest heaving against hers as they held on tightly to each other. As the fire of their first coming together ebbed to a burning smolder, their kisses grew slower, more purposeful. Lena’s nails were replaced by her fingertips, her tight grip with soft touches, as Lena kissed her as if there was nothing more important in the world to her than making Kara feel warm, feel cherished, feel loved.

Finally, they rested their foreheads against each other, just breathing heavily in the same space, but unwilling to let go of each other. Kara lay her head against Lena’s chest, hearing her heartbeat for the first time, and there was something so indescribably intimate about it that she felt like she might cry, especially when Lena dropped a soft kiss to the top of her head.

For a few moments, they were silent. Lena tenderly stroked Kara’s hair with gentle care, and Kara was content to rest just where she was, listening to Lena’s heart and feeling the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.

Suddenly, light flared in the kitchen and Kara winced, and above her, Lena hissed a little as she shielded her eyes.

“Oh my god I’m so sorry,” Alex said, sounding absolutely mortified at her interruption. She pointed weakly at the oven.

“Oh, um,” Lena said, reaching up to wipe the corner of her mouth with the tip of her thumb. “I think dinner should… should be ready,” she said, pushing Kara back a little so that she could slide off the counter. Her eyes were darker than Kara had ever seen them, and when Lena looked at her, she felt an answering throb deep inside herself.

Lena wandered over to the oven, her eyes flicking up to look at the time, before she opened it and donned oven gloves, pulling both baking trays out of the oven. With unsteady hands, Kara brought out four plates and set them out, Lena dishing them up.

Maggie came in shortly afterwards, and immediately caught on to the tension in the room. “Alex,” she said, slapping her on the upper arm. “You interrupted them, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t mean to!” Alex almost wailed. “Sorry ladies, really,” she said again, rubbing her arm.

“I’ve never seen broccoli baked before, Lena,” Maggie said, changing the subject entirely.

“Oh, yes. I was experimenting one day at home and I just found that it tasted so much better this way. You’ll have to let me know what you think,” Lena replied, and Kara had to hand it to her; she sounded as if they hadn’t just spent the last five minutes wound tightly around one another.

Kara felt nowhere near as composed. There was absolutely no chalking that up to the situation they found themselves in.

Those kisses had been raw passion, and they were as genuine as anything Kara had ever felt before.

Kara cleared her throat and tried to pull herself together. She laid the table with cutlery while Alex brought the plates over, and Maggie filled the dishwasher with the pans. Each of them poured themselves a non-alcoholic drink to have with dinner, and they all sat down around the table to eat.

Kara still felt like her head was full of fog, and judging by the slightly dazed look on Lena’s face, no matter how steady her voice had sounded, so was hers.

Thankfully, Alex and Maggie were there to relieve the tension.

“This is amazing,” Maggie said, around a mouthful of food. “I have never tasted vegetables this good before!”

Kara looked across at Lena, who raised an eyebrow at her. “Every bite,” she said once more.

Kara thought she would’ve eaten vegetables with every meal forever if it meant that Lena would kiss her like that again.

Luckily, she concurred with Maggie. The vegetables actually were delicious. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually enjoyed eating them. The potatoes were soft, the broccoli was crunchy, the asparagus tangy with the lemon juice and pepper, and the samphire salty. Each of them went very well with the salmon, and before long, Kara had cleared her plate, and was stealing pieces of broccoli from Lena’s plate. Lena hid her laughter, but Alex wasn’t quite so polite.

She fished her phone out of her pocket and took a photo of Kara stealing vegetables from Lena’s plate. “Mom will never believe this!” she exclaimed, leaning sideways to show Maggie the photo she’d taken.

“If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it either,” Maggie said, letting out a low whistle as Kara chewed on the broccoli with gusto.

By the time they’d all eaten their fill and Kara had been rewarded with her promised chocolate, everyone was yawning. Lena hid hers behind her hand; they’d spent a lot of their time outdoors today, and Kara figured the fresh country air was getting to the city girl as Lena seemed to struggle to stay alert as the time passed.

Eventually, once the dishwasher was on and after her second glass of scotch, Lena said her goodnights to Alex and Maggie before heading upstairs. Kara followed not long after, telling them that she’d see them both the day after tomorrow for the party. They’d be leaving with Eliza early in the morning. As she was leaving, Kara picked up the vase of flowers that Lena had picked for her that morning.

When she reached the bedroom, Lena was already in the bathroom; the shower was running, and she could hear Lena humming something tuneless through the door. Kara put the vase on the nightstand next to her side of the bed, gently brushing some of the colorful petals. She never wanted to forget them; taking her phone out, she took several photos of them, aware of the smile on her face as she did so. Slipping her phone back in her pocket, she busied herself with making the room cozy, closing the blinds and turning the sheets down ready for bed.

She desperately wanted to talk about the kiss, the kisses, that they’d shared with each other today, but with Lena looking like she was about to fall asleep on her feet, she figured that it was a discussion better saved for tomorrow.

That didn’t mean that they weren’t rolling around and around in her head, though. For the second time that day, Kara was absolutely certain that she needed a cold shower.

The dinner had helped to calm her down though, and while earlier she’d been full of nervous energy, now, she mostly just felt like she was glowing from the inside with warmth and happiness. When Lena came out of the bathroom, looking sleepy and soft with her damp, dark hair over one shoulder, Kara couldn’t help wrapping her up in a hug, breathing in the clean smell of her and pressing a kiss to the side of her neck. Lena buried herself into Kara in turn, sighing happily and closing her eyes. They held each other for a moment, before Lena tapped her with her fingertips. “Go shower, then come to bed,” she murmured. Kara let her go, and she shuffled off towards the bed in her fuzzy socks.

Kara’s own shower was quick. She wanted to take her time, but found that she couldn’t, knowing who was waiting for her on the other side of the door. Once she was all scrubbed clean and fresh, she towelled herself off, brushed her teeth, and headed back into the bedroom.

Even though she’d not been very long, Lena was already dozing against her pillow, snuffling adorably awake when Kara climbed into bed next to her. Kara plugged her phone in, took her glasses off, and turned out the light, before she felt Lena’s hand toying with the sleeve of her pajamas.

Kara took the hint and opened her arms, and Lena shuffled over and lay her head on her chest, one hand over Kara’s heart, and her leg slung over to rest between Kara’s. Kara wrapped her arms around Lena, feeling like she could burst with elation. She pressed a kiss to Lena’s forehead, and when Lena craned her neck up, she kissed her, warm and soft and unhurried. When Lena sighed happily into her mouth, Kara only held her closer.

They didn’t need to say anything. The gentle, sleepy kisses they shared with each other said it all for them. The next day, they would talk, but for right now, Kara was content to hold Lena as she fell asleep. It wasn’t long before she, too, was asleep.