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i know you don’t believe (it’s you i’ve waited for)

Chapter Text

When the news breaks about Mercy Graves, Lena knows enough about Lillian’s temper from the last time this happened to be out of the building when the meteor hits.

Thankfully the success of Mercy’s upcoming incarceration skyrockets Sam into the good books of the DEO – so as soon as Kara lets her know that Cat is releasing the hounds, she practically drags Sam out of the LuthorCorp and into the car to watch the proceedings from the safety of an impenetrable government fortress.

For the sake of their plans to disrupt Lillian’s allies further and for Lena not feeling like she’s the odd one out, it’s a good thing that Sam can now come with her regularly – but for the sake of Sam’s mental health, it seems to be a detriment.

“I don’t think I can do this,” Sam says suddenly, stopping dead in front of Lena on the ramp leading up to the perfectly normal-looking outdated office building façade of the DEO entrance. Lena, busy texting Kara about their arrival, walks right into her back and almost sends them both sprawling into the pavement.

Jesus, Sam – ”

“I can’t go in there. Not if she’s going to be there.” Sam’s voice is quivering, and Lena frowns in sympathy.

Sam’s situation is undoubtedly worse, but Lena can relate.

Sam had assured Lena the moment her presence was requested there that she was fine with being around Alex. Lena had her doubts, but Sam insisted - and the closer they got to the building, the more antsy Sam had become. By the time they got out of the car she was practically shaking it with her restless leg, and now it seems like she’s finally broken through the façade.

The switch in dynamic between them – Lena as the steady hand, now, and Sam as the terrified soulmate-avoider – is unnerving, and Lena has no idea if she’s doing a passable job.

“Oh, honey,” Lena says softly, putting a reassuring hand on Sam’s back. “I told you that you didn’t need to do this. You can get back in the car and go home, and I’ll tell them you’re busy.”

Sam contemplates it, for a moment. She looks between the building and the car, seeming to weigh her options.

“I want to see her,” Sam admits quietly, her shoulders sagging. “I want to see her so badly, Lena. But I know it’s just going to hurt.”

“I know,” Lena says, rubbing her back in small circles like Sam always does for her when things get too overwhelming. It always seems to work on her, and she doesn’t know what else to do. “It’s up to you.”

 “Yeah,” Sam says, her eyes fixed on the door to the building. “Yeah. Right. Okay. Yes, I’m coming. I’ll be fine.”

She sounds about as convincing as Lena does when she’s in the same position, but Lena lets it slide. Sam is older than she can possibly guess, and she can be free to make her own decisions. Even when they’re ill-advised. It’s not like Lena can judge, given her track record.

Sam takes every step down into the atrium like it’s a funeral march. Alex is focused on a computer screen when they enter, nodding as a tech points at something flashing on an architectural plan of what Lena recognizes as the holding cells, but as soon as Sam takes her first step down the stairs Lena sees Alex’s posture change. She perks up in a way all too familiar to Lena, and turns around to lock eyes with Sam across the cavernous space.

“She feels you, Sam,” Lena says quietly, watching Alex’s expression as Sam comes closer. It’s the same blend of confused and delighted that Kara usually has on her face when she notices Lena nearby. “Even if she doesn’t know you yet. That’s something, right?”

“Yeah,” Sam says, her voice a little hoarse. She clears her throat, steeling herself as Alex crosses the floor. “Yeah, that’s something.”

“I’m glad you two made it,” Alex says, once they’re in earshot. There’s a pink tinge to her ears, even though Sam hasn’t spoken yet – and Lena sees why when Alex suddenly sticks her hand out for a handshake.

“I don’t think we were actually introduced,” Alex explains, her hand hovering awkwardly in the middle ground as Sam stares at it like she’s just been offered a live grenade. “I’m Alex. Lena has told us a lot about you.”

“Right. Nice to meet you,” Sam says, polite but clearly strained. Alex’s hand falters, but it stays where it is for a few moments longer.

“It’s really good to have you on board,” Alex says, softening into a sudden earnestness that Lena has never seen directed at anyone but Kara. Like she thinks that Sam is hesitating because she feels like she isn’t wanted here, and is trying to fix it.

At Alex’s softer tone, Sam melts. Her shoulders sag and her eyes get almost imperceptibly watery, and with a look of tired resignation she reaches out to accept Alex’s hand. Even Lena tenses as they reach for each other, something in the air crackling in anticipation –

A fraction of a second before their hands touch, a blaring alarm echoes through the space. Alex flinches, jumping back a few inches and retracting her empty hand as every screen in view lights up with the same image – a series of blinking red dots on the same architectural plan Alex had been looking at before.

Sam’s arm drops to her side. Lena honestly can’t tell if she’s relieved, or devastated.

“What is it, Vasquez?” Alex yells over the noise, moving away from Sam and towards the wall of flashing screens. It’s then that Kara appears in a gust of wind, her hair ruffled and her cape fluttering as she stares at the screens.

“Containment breach,” the woman at the nearest computer – Vasquez, Lena can only assume – says curtly, bringing up a rundown of the security systems. Her fingers fly over the keys, highlighting two problem areas.

“Corben’s level?” Kara asks, looking briefly away from the screen to point a lopsided (and entirely inappropriate for the situation) grin Lena’s way. “Hey, Lena. Exciting day, huh?”

Alex elbows her, and Kara clears her throat as she switches back to business mode.

“No, lower,” Vasquez says, highlighting Corben’s cell four floors down. “There was a power surge and two cells opened. We think only one prisoner got out.”

“Oh! So just a regular run-of-the-mill alien emergency?” Kara says brightly, already walking backwards in the direction of the secure stairway down to the cells. She snags the reinforced alien handcuffs from Alex’s belt as she goes, and they hum to life with a blue glow when she twirls them around her finger. “I almost forgot about those. Who’d have thought I’d ever be relieved about rounding up normal criminals?”

“Don’t get cocky, Kara!” Alex warns, as Kara disappears around the corner. “He isn’t restrained, he could be dangero- and, she’s already gone.”

With Kara gone and the alarms now reduced to a lower volume, the silence between the three of them goes from brief to awkward. Lena has never been a stellar conversationalist, especially when she has to bridge two people with such thick tension between them - Sam is quiet in a way Lena has never really seen and Alex seems to be alternating shifting from foot to foot, and looking over at her for brief periods before looking away.

When Nia jogs up to join them, Lena has never been more relieved to see someone who is practically a stranger.

“Hi, person I’ve never met,” Nia says bluntly, hands on her hips as she ignores Alex and Lena to look directly at Sam. “What are you doing hanging out with the socially awkward crew?”

Hey!” Alex says, throwing her hands up in a what the hell? gesture. She looks to Lena for support, but Lena just shrugs.

“She’s not wrong,” Lena concedes, and Alex looks at her like she’s just committed the ultimate betrayal. Sam, at least, lets out a half-hearted chuckle at Nia’s curiosity.

“I’m with Lena.”

“Oh! Like…with with, or…?” Nia asks, raising her eyebrows suggestively.

Lena doesn’t miss how Alex’s incessant movement stops at that question. She can almost see the woman’s ears perking up.

God no,” Sam replies, letting out her first real laugh in what feels like days. “She wishes.”

Alex visibly relaxes. Sam doesn’t see it, occupied as she is with shaking Nia’s hand, but Lena gets a sudden impression of exactly what everyone around them has probably been dealing with whenever herself and Kara are in a room together. It’s infuriating, watching them dance around each other when it’s so clear they could just be happy.

Even Lena can see the hypocrisy in that.

“Oh, that’s good. Because if you were, I’m pretty sure you’d have to fistfight Kar-“

Nia is interrupted, and any further thoughts on the subject of Alex and Sam disappear from the larger part of Lena’s brain, when Alex’s comms erupt in chaotic sound.

“Alex, are you there? I need -” The rest is cut off with a horrible static sound, and Lena’s heart drops.

“Kara?” Alex says, her hand pressed to the device in her ear like it’ll somehow manifest a video of the situation in the basement. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

There’s no verbal answer from Kara. The noise is unspecific, crashes and grunts that Lena somehow recognizes as Kara even when they’re wordless, and under their feet the floor vibrates for a few seconds as Alex’s comm explodes in a noise louder than the rest. Lena can hear a yell, and then the device falls silent.

Alex’s eyes meet Lena’s. Lena can see her own fear reflected there, and for the first time, they have a moment of pure and complete understanding.

Kara is in danger.

“Shit,” Alex mutters, ripping the dead comm from her ear and instead frantically typing into one of the nearby computer consoles. The tech who was using it starts to protest as his work is lost, but Lena rips his chair out of the way and sends it zooming on its wheels halfway across the room with the tech clinging on for dear life.

“I think I can access the security camera from here,” Alex mutters, but already Lena can see the code she’s using isn’t going to work. Lena is sure that she could get access, if Alex would allow it.

“Alex, I can – if you let me –“ Lena says, not sure how to ask but knowing they’re on a clock.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Alex says, her tone more terrified than angry as she moves out of the way. “Just do it. And don’t tell J’onn I let you in.”

It takes about 13 seconds for Lena to access the video feed on Kara’s floor. Although it’s a surprise that the camera is still working, considering the state of the rest of the architecture – there are several body-sized imprints in the concrete, and the remnants of the walls of the cell are bent and scattered across the floor. There’s no movement, but before Lena can try to switch to another camera, a black-and-white blur flies across the screen and hits the wall so hard that a crack runs up the foundation.

Even in grainy quality, Lena can tell that it’s Kara. And she hasn’t gotten up yet.

“We need to help her,” Lena says, heart in her throat. She pulls up the override for the security doors, and starts trying to get around them. “I need to get down there.”

“You can’t! The floor is on lockdown,” Alex says, sounding just as angry at herself as Lena is at her for trying to stop her. “The only way to open it is an emergency protocol that opens all the cells.”

“There has to be a way. We can’t just leave her down there –“

The radio crackles back to life, and on screen Kara stumbles to her feet.

“I don’t know if you can hear me,” Kara says, intermittent with static, “but don’t let Lena or Alex come down here. Okay? I have a plan. It’s going to be fine.”

Lena is quicker to snatch the comm off the table than Alex is.

“Don’t be stupid, Kara,” Lena says into it, trying to keep the shake out of her voice. “You aren’t completely indestructible. We’re coming down there.”

Kara gives no indication that she’s heard. She takes a few steps forward, tensed in an attack pose, until a hulking figure sprints into the camera’s field of view and bodychecks her into the wall so hard that Lena can feel the rumble under her feet again.

It’s so hard that the camera gets dislodged from its precarious spot, and the last thing Lena sees before the screen goes black is Kara being pinned by a hand to the throat, her hand stretching out and inches away from the glowing cuffs lying on the floor.

“Kara!” she shouts into the comm, but she gets nothing back but silence. “Kara!”

Alex is pale beside her, staring unblinking at the dark screen. Nia is chewing at a fingernail, and Sam puts a reassuring hand on Lena’s shoulder that does absolutely nothing to help the anxiety in her gut. The air is thick, so thick that it’s hard to breathe – it feels like the entire DEO is holding its breath, waiting.

Everything went south so quickly, a domino effect that passed in an instant, and Lena didn’t even get to tell her –

There’s a sudden screeching of metal and a tired groan down the hallway Kara disappeared into, and with a shared look of pure relief she and Alex sprint there with Sam and Nia following behind.

Lena, with her obvious speed advantage, arrives there first to find Kara leaning against the wall next to an elevator whose doors are missing. In fact the elevator is stuck between floors, likely glitched after the power surge, and it looks like Kara just ripped the doors open and climbed out. She’s covered in concrete dust and looks worse for wear, but she’s alive, and she’s grinning tiredly.

“I forgot how tough Valeronians are,” Kara says, coughing slightly as she brushes dust from her shoulders. “Even without weapons. He got me good a few times –“

Before Kara has even gotten the concrete bits out of her hair Lena is running, and to both of their surprise the blonde suddenly has an armful of Luthor knocking the wind out of her lungs as Lena hugs her with all her strength.

“Hey,” Kara murmurs as she wraps her arms firm around Lena, a little shocked and too quiet for anyone else to hear. “I’m okay. I’m here.”

Coming from anyone else, Lena would bristle at the tone. At the assumption that she was worried. But it’s Kara, and she was worried, so for a few short moments she just lets herself be comforted.

It’s not until Kara tilts her head enough to nuzzle into Lena's hair that she realizes this is the first time they’ve ever hugged. Really it’s the first time she’s ever touched Kara anywhere besides the safe zones of wrist and shoulder, and she’s unsurprised to find that they fit together perfectly.

Another weight is added to the wrong side of the invisible set of scales in Lena’s head, and Lena can feel the moment that the distribution tilts irrevocably downwards.

She lets go abruptly when the footsteps behind them catch up, stepping back a foot and terribly aware of their audience. Kara is staring down at her with wide eyes, and as if it’ll cover up the fact that she just threw herself at Supergirl in broad daylight, Lena reaches up and shakes the rest of the debris out of her hair and cape.

“If you ever do that again,” Lena says unevenly, quieting her voice as Alex and Sam come nearer, “a Valeronian will be the least of your problems.”

There’s no heat behind the threat, and Kara knows it. She just smiles, warm and fond. “Keep threatening me with death, and I’ll start to think you care.”

Lena’s answer comes out without forethought.

“I do care.”

It’s so earnest, so humiliatingly truthful, that Lena immediately wishes she had kept her mouth shut. Kara’s face softens, her surprise obvious as she realizes her joke was taken seriously, but before she can reply in an equally intense way Lena has bolted, taking advantage of the distraction provided by Alex’s arrival.

Even with her back to Kara, she can feel the blonde’s eyes on her as she walks away to the tune of Alex giving her a medical once-over.

“We should give them a minute,” Lena says, tugging on Sam’s wrist. Sam nods, but she’s staring at the back of Alex’s head with a look of such intense longing – a look that reminds Lena so much of Kara that she has to look away.

Whatever control over the situation Lena might have thought she had, it’s apparently vanished.

Momentarily, Lena considers making a run for it. Kara is distracted by Alex, the rest of the DEO is busy getting started on dealing with the mess in the cell block, and Sam seems so lost that Lena could probably convince her to leave pretty easily. But before she can make her decision, Brainy’s head pokes around the corner at the end of the hallway, and he shouts down to them in that point-blank way he has.

“Mercy Graves has been arrested. Shall we watch?”

It’s even more of a public circus than Lena was expecting. Cat delivered on her promises and then some – the story is plastered all over CatCo’s front page and their news channel, and soon in retaliation for being scooped every syndication in the city is reporting it. Kara gleefully sets up each station on a different screen at DEO headquarters, and they get about 16 different camera angles on Mercy Graves being dragged out of her office in handcuffs.

There’s a deep satisfaction to seeing it actually happen, even though Lena knows there’s even more work ahead of them.

“Give it a few days to steep, and then we’ll follow up on the connection with Max’s campaign money. Then Andrea can make her move,” Kara says, grinning with satisfaction as Mercy glares at her arresting officer. Maggie, Lena remembers – Alex’s ex-fiancée, the one police officer Kara swears they can trust. She’s tiny, shorter than Mercy by several inches, but Lena can see a no-nonsense attitude in the way Maggie firmly guides Mercy into the backseat despite her protests.

“This won’t last long,” Lena warns, as Mercy disappears behind the tinted window. “Human systems never hold fae for long, and she didn’t break any of our laws. She’ll be out before her trial is even over. The media craze gives us some time to scramble Lillian’s other connections before Mercy can try to slink back into power, but we have to hurry. She’s too smart to be fooled by this for long.”

“Can’t we just have a minute to bask in a job well done?” Kara jokes as she leans closer, gently nudging Lena with her elbow in a too-familiar move that would have sent Lena sprinting for the door a few weeks ago. Now, she just elbows back harder.

“We’ve had it. It’s happening right now. Besides, you and Sam did most of the work,” Lena replies, folding her arms. “I have nothing to bask in.”

“Sure, but you were my muse.”

Kara says it casually, still looking up at the screen. But Lena can feel the spike of nerves when it comes out, and the thrill Kara feels when Lena doesn’t protest but instead warms at the compliment.

It should terrify her, how all her walls regarding this whole soulmate business seem to have crumbled after her talk with Sam. But Lena’s slowly-growing lack of willpower is getting less and less frightening by the day.

Before Kara can lay any more confusing praise on her, they’re interrupted by the loud vibration of Lena’s phone. The name she sees on the caller ID makes her heart sink, as much as she was expecting it.

“Lillian?” Kara asks. Lena nods, holding up a finger to quiet her as she adopts her best neutral tone and answers.

“Hello, mother.”

“Where are you?” Lillian says by way of greeting. Her tone is curt, just a hair away from snapping, and that alone tells Lena that the situation has hit critical mass. Lillian is on the warpath.

“I’m on my way to a meeting –“ Lena starts, but Lillian barely lets her get the words out.

“It doesn’t matter, get back to the office. Now.”

“Did Edge screw us over again?” Lena says, putting on the same persona she’s been faking since this whole venture began. Since she joined the Luthor family, really. It’s always felt like a second skin, but the more time she spends with Kara, the more it feels like a mask.

“Turn on the news. Do you not see what’s happening?” Lillian answers, and Lena can practically hear the sneer. Lena refuses to rise to her bait, keeping her calm neutrality.

“I’m in the car. What’s going on?”

While Lena is treated to the situation from her mother’s perspective, Kara rolls her eyes at Lillian’s tone, scrunching her face up into a mocking expression while she mimes Lillian’s scolding. It’s surprisingly funny, and Lena has to mute herself on the call to keep her mother from hearing her snort.

Kara seems buoyed by Lena’s laughter. She ducks out of the way as Lena swats at her, and draws herself up to her full height in a comically inaccurate imitation of Lillian. She only lets up when Lena mouths stop, her hand clamped over the microphone while she tries desperately to keep her composure.

When she finally hangs up the phone with a promise to return to LuthorCorp immediately, she whirls on Kara with a glare that has absolutely no bite to it.

“You’re lucky I’m a good actress.”

“I knew you could give Lillian the run-around in your sleep,” Kara grins, dancing playfully out of the way when Lena moves past her.

“Compliments will get you nowhere,” she says, knowing that Kara can tell it isn’t true. Compliments from Kara, apparently, now make Lena melt like a popsicle. It’s incredibly inconvenient. “I need to go do some damage control, before Lillian detonates and takes half of LuthorCorp with her.”

“Be careful, okay?” Kara says, reaching out to squeeze her arm. Lena nods, pulling away gently rather than yanking her arm out of the blonde’s grip as has been her instinct for the last few months.

“My whole life is careful.”

Lena passes Alex as she heads to the exit, exchanging their now-customary polite nods. It’s not exactly warm or friendly, but she gets the feeling that like her, Alex is comfortable keeping it that way. The regularity of their mutual distant respect is almost comforting. Especially since she found out that Alex is Sam’s soulmate, and all she wants to do is lock the two of them in a room together until Sam stops hurting.

Even through the hum of activity in the atrium, Lena can still hear Alex’s words when she makes it to Kara’s side.

“Since when do you two touch? And joke?”

“Since always,” Kara replies easily. “You don’t monitor us 24/7.”

“Thank god for that,” Alex grumbles. “Just try not to flirt in the middle of the lobby next time.”

“At least I don’t go on Tinder at work!”

She hears the smack of a tablet hitting Kara’s shoulder, and as much as the conversation should stress her out, she can’t do much besides chuckle at the cute, indignant expression on Kara’s face that she can picture in her mind’s eye.

Her good mood lasts until the moment she sets foot in the LuthorCorp lobby. At first glance nothing seems out of the ordinary, but Lena has been training her whole life to sense when something is off. The phones are ringing more than usual, the secretaries sounding stressed and high-pitched, and the floor is sparsely populated. The people she can see littered in various corners are either huddled into groups, talking in low voices, or looking downright angry.

By the time she steps into the elevator, she can almost feel the anger radiating from the top floor.

The doors slide open on the conference level to pandemonium. If Lena had thought the day Edge was ousted from CatCo was bad, this is a hundred times worse – the panic in the building is much more obvious. She can hear Lillian from down the hall, and it isn’t because she’s shouting.

Lillian’s anger has never been explosive like Lex’s was. While Lex would erupt in fits with almost no provocation, Lillian’s rage is more subtle. It coils like a snake priming to strike, seeming innocuous until the last moment - if one isn’t used to it, it’s almost easy to miss until it’s too late and she’s already darted through your defences and gone for the throat.

Lena has been attuned to the smallest indications of Lillian’s fury ever since the first time she provoked it by beating Lex at chess when she was 7, and Lillian had coolly thrown Lena’s teddy bear and only remaining possession to the dogs. She’d had to watch while they tore it apart, sobbing like the child she was at the time, and it taught her the harsh lesson that she’s been using every day since.

Don’t ever let Lillian Luthor see your weak points.

With her mental mask firmly affixed, Lena braces herself and enters the fray.

“And where have you been?” are the first words out of Lillian’s mouth, and they’re cold and even enough to run a shiver down Lena’s spine. But she keeps her back straight, throwing her purse onto the conference table and crossing her arms.

“Doing my job. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

“I need you to get Mercy out of her own damn prison, and bring me the head of whichever half-witted reporter broke this story,” Lillian says with a practiced sickly-sweetness, each syllable laced with poison. “Preferably alive. I’d like to do the flaying myself.”

“I think National City would have a field day if you flayed Cat Grant in the middle of Luthor plaza.”

Lillian pauses, her anger seeming to shift and solidify now that it’s been given a target. And just as Lena knew she would, Lillian starts to pace like a caged wildcat.

This is one of the most instrumental parts of this whole plan – making Cat out to be the instigator, so that the attention is taken away from Lena and Andrea. And with Supergirl protecting Cat and Carter hidden away somewhere in the Arctic, Lillian’s options for revenge are limited without making the feud public. That helplessness will make her reckless, Lena knows. Will drive her to attack when she isn’t ready. She saw it when Lex was tried by the fae. Lillian couldn’t swoop in and take control, and it drove her insane.

“Catherine Grant,” Lillian murmurs, a muscle in her jaw twitching as she drags her long, manicured nails across the surface of the conference table. “I should have known the washed-up human-grubber who gave us Supergirl would be behind this. The question is, why.”

“Mercy was involved with the kidnapping of her son,” Lena suggests, trying to make what is definitely Cat’s own suggestion for a probable motive sound like it’s her own idea. “She was the one who hacked Cat’s home security. Perhaps it’s a grudge, now that she seems to have some sort of reckless death wish.”

“Well. If she wanted my attention, she has it,” Lillian says quietly, almost to herself. Her nails clack in a rhythm on the table, the same impatient crescendo that haunted Lena’s childhood when she was doing something wrong but was expected to figure it out herself. Lillian is deep in thought, scrambling to re-arrange the chessboard in her head, and Lena is simply part of the background noise. Exactly as she hoped. All Lena has to do is keep blending for a little while longer.

The only reason she feels confident that the plan will work, really, is Kara. Kara makes her better at all of this. Kara makes her better, and Kara deserves better. And today, Lena had thought for a single heart-stopping moment that she had lost her without ever telling her the truth.

 


 

Lena spends the entire drive to Kara’s building in a mild panic.

She’s never been here before, but Kara gave her the address once in case she wanted to drop by – and even though at the time she had crumpled the sticky note and thrown it in the trash, she apparently memorized it without realizing. When she pushes open the (unlocked and unguarded, Lena notes with alarm) lobby doors, she bypasses the sketchy looking elevator for the stairs, hoping the climb will give her some time to even her breathing.

It doesn’t work. Her heart is in her throat when she finds Kara’s door, and it’s only the knowledge that a slab of wood won’t keep Kara from knowing she’s awkwardly hovering there that propels her to raise her fist and knock.

Kara’s expression, along with the wave of shock Lena gets right to the chest when she opens the door of her apartment to see Lena standing there in broad daylight, would almost be funny if Lena wasn’t here to do exactly what she’s been actively running from since the moment they met.

It doesn’t help that Kara looks soft in a way that Lena has never seen her before. Lena has experienced Kara in her Supergirl suit, in pastel cardigans, in jeans and in the distractingly tight-fitted business wear she’s taken to wearing lately. She even, once, caught a glance of her in a tight black DEO sweatsuit that stuck in her thoughts for far longer than is appropriate. All of those, Lena has learned to handle – but now Kara is in grey sweats and a worn Henley, her hair draped over her shoulder in a low ponytail, and her sleeves almost cover her hands where they rest on the door. Like Lena has just caught her making brunch, and she’s about to be invited in for French toast.

She looks, in short, fucking adorable, and Lena almost loses her nerve entirely.

“Lena?” Kara says, pulling down the huge noise-cancelling headphones she has over her ears, and Lena’s fight or flight response calms down at the sound of her voice.

“Hi,” Lena says shortly. Kara blinks a few times, rubbing at her eyes like she’s not entirely sure this is really happening. Not that Lena can blame her.

“What are you – I mean, not that I’m not – I’m really – just, how –“ Kara stammers. The blonde is still standing in the small gap of her doorway, and Lena shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot, gesturing inside.

“Will you let me in, please?”

“Oh!” Kara says, stepping aside immediately. “Right, yeah. Of course. Come in.”

Lena steps over the threshold and Kara closes the door behind them, taking the headphones from around her neck and setting them on the table beside the door.

“Do those actually work?” Lena says, nodding towards the headphones. She feels an unnatural need to fill the silence, even if it means making small talk. Anything to stave off the real reason she’s here. “If they do, I might need to get some for myself.”

Kara shrugs. “Sometimes. I can still hear everything, but it’s not so overwhelming. They definitely kept me from noticing your –“

Your heartbeat, Lena’s brain unhelpfully fills in. Kara listens for her heartbeat. A fact that Lena unwillingly learned ages ago, during their first-ever stakeout, and has stuck with her ever since. As if she needs the reminder right now.

“So, that thing about vampires needing to be invited in –“ Kara says a little more loudly, changing the subject with an awkward pivot.

“Is bullshit,” Lena says drily, crossing her arms despite her nerves. “We can go where we please. It was just cold in the hallway, and I like to ask permission first. Because I was raised in a time of manners.”

Kara, of course, takes the jab as a chance to learn.

“Really? When were you raised?”

Lena raises a single brow, and Kara shakes her head. “Right, too personal. Sorry. Um, what brings you here? To my apartment?”

Lena takes her time thinking of her answer. She doesn’t want to vomit the real reason onto Kara with no warning – you’re my soulmate and I can’t seem to figure out what that means for me is a lot to throw out all at once. So instead she turns in a slow circle, taking in Kara’s apartment for the first time.

It’s smaller than she thought it would be. It’s a studio, with big bright windows and exposed brick walls, and she can see the corner of Kara’s bed as she moves towards what seems to be the living room. There are fairy lights in the corners, the furniture seems to be mostly reclaimed wood, and there’s a muted One Tree Hill rerun on the tv in front of a still-steaming mug of something on the coffee table. It’s absolutely, endearingly Kara, and Lena feels more comfortable here in 30 seconds than she’s ever felt at her own bare, catalog-decorated penthouse.

“I needed to talk to you,” Lena says, hesitantly unzipping her coat when Kara offers to hang it up.

“About what?” Kara asks, draping the coat over the back of a kitchen chair. Lena feels naked without it, but she perches delicately on the edge of the couch cushion anyways, and rips off the band-aid.

“On Krypton, did they have a soulmate theory?”

That seems to be about the last thing Kara was expecting. She frowns, settling in more comfortably than Lena and tucking her feet underneath her. “No, not really. Matches were sort of formalized on Krypton.”

“But you understand the concept?” Lena presses. Kara shrugs, not seeming to understand what Lena is getting at.

“I mean, I’ve read it in books? Two people who are meant for each other, right? Humans really love the idea of destiny.”

Lena sighs, sitting back more heavily on the well-worn couch. She doesn’t have the cuffs of her jacket to fidget with, so she settles for pressing her thumb deep into the flesh of her palm. It gives her something to look at, so she doesn’t have to maintain eye contact.

“Well, apparently, it’s real.”

Kara is quiet for a few beats. She shifts on the cushion, sliding her feet back down to the floor.

“Explain?” Kara asks gently. Lena had hoped, foolishly, that Kara might have enough context to be able to catch on at this point, but clearly she’s going to have to explain.

“Part of being fae is accepting that there are things beyond our understanding,” Lena starts, still staring determinedly at her hands. “But I’ve been doing research, and unfortunately this seems to be one of the things that also has some scientific backing.”

“Lena, what are you talking about?”

“I think we’re soulmates.”

Lena had thought it would be like a bomb going off, finally letting go of this truth. That Kara would gasp, or smile, or even get upset at Lena for keeping this from her. But from what she can tell, Kara is just silent and thoughtful. She’s fiddling with the sleeve of her shirt much like Lena wishes she could, and under her distracted hands the fabric tears. Kara sighs, rolling up her sleeves. Her forearms brace on her knees, and Lena can’t look away.

“I don’t understand how that’s possible,” Kara says, looking up at Lena, who immediately looks away before she gets distracted by those eyes. “We were born on different planets, in different time periods, how could we –“

“You said you understand quantum mechanics, right?” Lena says, dangerously close to babbling. “Think about it as quantum entanglement. Two particles that can’t be described without each other, that share the same quantum state. No matter the distance between them. Just…with souls.”

“So you think that we’re –“

“I don’t know,” Lena says, standing up just to create some space between them. “I always thought the soulmate theory was bullshit, but now…I know that I can’t keep myself away from you. It’s infuriating.”

Kara’s voice quiet, full of building wonder.

“Really?”

Yes,” Lena admits, rolling her tense shoulders. “Besides, I talked to Sam. She knows about this sort of thing, and she made some…salient points.”

“Like what?”

Vaguely, Lena realizes that she’s started pacing as she explains. Kara’s eyes follow her back and forth, and she starts to fear that if she stops, she might have to face the reality of what she’s doing.

“Like, what happened between us in the transport van is…not normal. Being inside someone’s thoughts, feeling their soul like a part of you, that isn’t a normal fae ability. Nor is getting superpowers from Kryptonian blood.”

“Has any vampire even drank Kryptonian blood before?” Kara asks, her eyes not leaving Lena’s moving form.  “I feel like my cousin would have told me.”

Lena nods. “My brother tried. He got a sample of Superman’s blood. It didn’t work.”

Kara is quiet for so long, after that, that Lena actually stops pacing to make sure she hasn’t left the room. She hasn’t – she’s sitting in place on the couch, arms on her knees, hands clasped together, and staring down into them like they hold the answers. She actually startles Lena when she stands up suddenly after a minute of contemplation, taking a few swift steps across the living room rug until she’s firmly standing in Lena’s space.

“So…soulmates. That’s what this is?” Kara finally says, the crinkle between her eyebrows deeper than Lena has ever seen it. For a few confusing moments, Lena wonders if it might be Kara who decides this whole thing is too complicated to be worth it.

But when Lena meets her eyes, so close now since Lena hasn’t taken a step back, they’re clear and open. Accepting.

“Okay.”

“…you accept it?” Lena says incredulously, her folded arms falling to her sides. “Just like that?”

Kara shrugs. She takes Lena’s loose hands in hers, holding them between their bodies. Apparently she’s somehow done in less than a minute the same processing that’s taken Lena months, and come to an entirely different conclusion. “It explains how I feel about you. How I felt that way so fast. I’ve sort of just been going with it.”

Lena’s heart, usually steadfast in its rhythm, feels erratic and fast. She knows that Kara can hear it, especially when she’s standing a few inches away, and she can feel the thrill that goes through Kara when she realizes Lena hasn’t pulled her hands away yet.

“It doesn’t bother you that we don’t have a choice?” Lena says softly, watching in wonder as Kara shakes her head.

“There’s always a choice. Just because we’re…entangled, doesn’t mean we don’t have one,” Kara says, with the kind of confidence Lena wishes she had. “And whatever yours is, I accept it. But I know mine.”

Kara punctuates it by squeezing her hands, and Lena doesn’t need to ask – Kara is practically screaming it with her mind.

It’s you.

“Why are you so calm about this?” Lena chokes, fighting the overwhelmed tears that want to spill out. “I’ve been so cruel to you. I’ve kept this from you for months. I’ve let you suffer, to make myself feel like I had some control. You should hate me.”

Kara’s reply is said with such gentle kindness, with such understanding, that Lena loses her fight with the tears. A few track down her cheek, and Kara wipes them away with a finger.

“How could I hate you, when I can feel your pain?” Kara says, her voice breaking on the last word as she drags the finger down Lena’s cheek to catch under her chin. “Maybe I’m here to show you the compassion you don’t show yourself.”

Although Lena hears Kara’s words, they don’t seem to make any sense.

All her life, since the only person who ever loved her was ripped away, she has known one universal constant. That she isn’t good enough. It was embedded in her as a truth, like gravity, like relativity - she’s half-blooded, a freak of nature. She’ll never be enough of a vampire for her family, and never human enough to be who she might have been otherwise. Who she wishes she could have been. She’s cursed to straddle two worlds, never fitting in either and bearing the burden of it alone.

All she can think to say is the mantra that Lillian practically drilled into her head from the moment she stepped foot on the Luthor estate.

“I’m not worth it.”

Her tone is final, but Kara doesn’t let her off easy. 

“Of course you are. If you weren’t a good person, at the core of you, don’t you think I’d have seen it when you bit me?”

Lena has no retort for that. She just chews on the inside of her cheek, willing herself to get it together. Wanting to believe Kara’s words, but too far gone to internalize them. Torn between longing and fear, and unwilling to take the leap.

“Why are you fighting this so hard?” Kara whispers, bringing her hand up to gently cup Lena’s face. It takes all of Lena’s willpower not to press her cheek into it. “Even now? When you know that it’s right?”

“Because it terrifies me,” Lena breathes, her eyes drifting closed as Kara moves closer. “The thought that if I give in to you, I’ll lose myself.”

She doesn’t see Kara moving, but she feels when Kara presses their foreheads together. Her eyes stay closed, somehow trusting Kara to respect her boundaries even as those boundaries are shaken to their foundations.

“Lena, we don’t have to lose anything,” Kara says. As if it’s the easiest thing in the world to understand. “We just gain each other. I’ll wait however long it takes for you to know that.”

Ever since it made itself known, all Lena has felt regarding this bond between them has been fear and doubt. She feels none of that coming from Kara. Kara is a rock, a tiny island of calm in dramatic contrast to how Lena is feeling.

“How are you so sure?” Lena whispers, needing to hear Kara say it. Maybe if Kara explains, Lena might be able to feel that sure, too.

“I follow what feels right. And that’s you,” Kara says, their foreheads drifting apart again. Lena misses the contact immediately. “But I need this decision to be yours. Wanting me. Choosing me.”

This time, it’s Lena who leans forward to touch her forehead to Kara’s.

“You know I want you,” Lena says, letting it fall from her mouth like a confession, and Kara exhales raggedly. Joy rises in her and spills over into Lena, like that admission is in itself a small wonder. “But choosing is a luxury I was never afforded. In any facet of my life. Giving in to this, allowing something else to control my life again, it feels like…it feels like building my own prison cell.”

“I’ll never make you do something you don’t want,” Kara murmurs, her breath washing over Lena’s face. It smells like apple cider, sweet and warm. Like she’s just been drinking it. “Not ever. But I understand.”

It’s Kara’s understanding that breaks her. The sweet, genuine acceptance, the way she doesn’t hide her sadness but tries not to let it colour Lena’s decision. 

How she gives Lena a decision.

“Say,” Lena says finally, wavering so close to Kara that their lips come within a whisper of touching. “Say that I want to – to do this, somehow. I just don’t know how. I don’t know how to stop feeling like my hand is being forced.”

Seemingly without thinking, Kara throws out a suggestion that rocks Lena to her core. 

“You could bite me again.”

Lena jerks back, not far enough to break their strange little bubble, but enough to meet Kara’s eyes again.

What?”

“Maybe it’s a bad suggestion,” Kara says quickly, the rest of her body still. Like she knows this could send Lena running. “But...I don’t know. I remember what it was like last time. Maybe we try again, knowing what we’re in for this time, and then we’ll know.”

“You’re not full of kryptonite anymore,” Lena protests half-heartedly. “I can’t break your skin.”

It’s a weak excuse, and Lena knows it. She’s suspected for a long time that Sam’s initial theory was right - her unique lineage probably allows her to pierce Kara’s skin either way. Double vampire, as Sam put it. Double power. And on top of that, if Kara really is her soulmate, she doubts that even the laws of physics or magic could keep them apart. But the thought is terrifying. Kara, as always, gently moves the defence aside. 

“Maybe not,” Kara shrugs, her eyes wide and earnest. “But we can try. If we’re ever going to figure this out, I want you to see me. Not who everyone else sees, but…everything. I just want us to see each other. For real. Once.”

No matter where they are or how recently Lena has fed, she always feels the pull of temptation when Kara is around. When she can hear the steady beat of her pulse and see where it flutters under her jaw, or at the hollow of her throat. But never has that craving been more powerful than it is right now, with Kara standing in front of her and offering herself freely. Not simply allowing it, but wanting it, and broadcasting that want to Lena to boot.

Lena’s canines are already extending, her mouth watering, and she drives the sharp points into her own bottom lip. It heals immediately, but the pain is enough to ground her for a moment. She’s sure her hands are squeezing Kara’s like a vice, but the blonde doesn’t seem to mind. She just tips her head forward, putting to rest Lena’s ever-present terror in a single statement.

“You can’t hurt me, Lena. I’m not human. You don’t have to control yourself. But this is up to you.”

Lena lets out a bitter exhale. She can feel her sharpened, sensitive teeth hitting the cool air as she opens her mouth, and Kara’s eyes fall to them immediately.

“I can’t think of a single moment in my life that either of those things have been true.”

“They are now.”

Kara’s pupils are wide and dark, and Lena can hear the hard, fast pumping of her heart. The cards are in Lena’s hands, and now that she’s holding them, she finds that she has no idea what to do about it. 

She knows what she wants. Even with Kara’s head at a less tempting angle the craving to bite her is there, so strong that it almost physically pulls her closer. It’s easy to put it off as the instinct she tries so hard to fight, but it feels deeper, somehow. Not just bloodlust, not hunger - a craving for something more than blood.

Lena could keep fighting it. In fact she can see what would happen if she walked away now, almost like a premonition - Kara would be devastated, but accept her decision. Lena would go home and weep, break down over the loss of what feels like a piece of herself, but somehow manage to justify it. Sam would berate her, but would be too caught up in her own pain to press the issue. And both of them would live the rest of their endless days alone, free but never complete. Always reaching for each other like a phantom limb and finding nothing. 

Is that really so much better than being tied to someone? Being tied to Kara, who inexplicably offers Lena agency even when it means causing herself pain? Maybe some cosmic universal magic tied them together, but why does that have to define them?

Like Kara said, there’s always a choice. And maybe for once, Lena can choose happiness. Fuck the universe.

The clouds that have hung over Lena’s life for months - god, decades it feels like – begin to part, and everything that’s plagued her for months starts to melt away.

Kara is the sun. 

For the first time in her memory Lena moves in to bite with no hesitation, and she hears Kara’s sob of relief just as her teeth sink into skin that should be unbreakable. But it isn’t. It’s soft and yielding, like every atom of Kara’s body wants this. Is giving up its invulnerability to let her in. All of Lena’s doubts, any reasoning she’d clung to as to why she should resist this, evaporate with the first warm swallow of Kara’s blood. 

Lena’s teeth move through Kara’s skin so easily - and in a way beyond the physical, her teeth break through a dam. Kara’s emotions come at her in a flood, a geyser of jumbled thoughts and feelings that Lena gets lost in for a moment before she finds which way is up and swims to the surface. But the main ones, the most prominent threads that wrap around Lena like the strong arms she can vaguely feel on her body, are the same as her own. Relief and desire, bone-deep and potent. And most prominently, insistent and bright in its intensity, love. Kara is trying to drown her in it, and Lena welcomes the cleanse. 

She loves, and she is loved. Why she ever thought this could be a bad thing is beyond her comprehension, now.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she can feel that base part of her that she fears so much looming, drawn to the obvious submission of a willing victim. Wanting her to drain, to take, to kill. Trying to remind her of the thrill of the hunt. It’s always terrified her, this animal instinct that constantly threatens to take her humanity away – it’s why she avoids feeding from humans, avoids feeding from the neck. But now, it’s as if something is keeping it out. Like Kara is wrapped around her, a barrier that it can’t break through no matter how hard it snaps its teeth.

She’s still just Lena. She’s entirely herself, and Kara can’t be hurt. So, free of that instinct, Lena drinks slowly. Languorously. And just as slowly, Kara opens to her.

The first time they did this, the experience was rushed. It was a life-or-death scenario, and a shock to both of them – Lena hadn’t had the time nor the inclination to explore their connection. Now, when the bright, pulsing core of Kara’s soul reaches out to her, she reaches back.

Kara is just as Lena remembers her – a beacon, pure and welcoming Lena in with open arms. But like before, Lena can sense something below it. Past the outer layers, past the sunshine and warmth and kindness that Lena loves, something is pulsing. Something hot and vivid, something that leaves a bitter taste in Lena’s mouth.

She can feel a thread of fear, a shiver of nervousness coming from Kara about showing it to her; the same fear Lena harbours over Kara seeing her own shameful, hidden places. So Lena does the only thing she can think of, the one thing that she’s become somewhat proficient at. She reaches out, and tries to soothe. This time she can almost feel it like a physical sensation, like she’s softly running her hands through Kara’s hair even though she knows her body is still.

In a deep exhale Kara lets her in, and the abrupt, overwhelming spike of emotion weakens Lena’s knees.

Pain. Indescribable, endless pain washes over her, and abruptly she isn’t in Kara’s apartment with warm arms holding her close. She’s in what looks like a hangar bay, stark white but with a sky red as fire outside. Her mother is embracing her, telling her what her life’s great responsibility is – look after Kal. Protect your baby cousin. The weight of an entire planet, an entire civilization, is thrust on her 12 year old shoulders and all she can do is accept the decision that shapes her life as she witnesses its final moments.

And then she’s climbing into a pod, and her parents are crying as it zooms into space – no, not her parents, Lena reminds herself as the scene plays out in real-time. Kara’s parents. These are Kara’s hands pressing against the glass as she watches her world shrink into the distance, as she sees it start to crumble. She’s somehow in Kara’s memories, but god, it’s hard to remember who she is when it feels like her chest is going to explode. She can’t disentangle herself from Kara’s consciousness, and honestly, she doesn’t want to. Something in her craves this, wants to witness every corner of Kara’s soul no matter how dark.

As the planet behind her erupts into fire, taking with it everything Kara has ever cared about, it feels like the explosion takes her heart with it. The pain isn’t just emotional, it’s physical – she can feel her throat getting hoarse from the screaming, even though she knows that her real mouth is still attached to Kara’s neck and she’s not making any noise at all.

After the vacuum of space has swallowed her home, has swallowed her, Kara is left alone. So alone, for so long, drifting in limbo with no escape. Nothing between her thoughts and the darkness outside. She’s aware of what’s happening – her pod is clearly off course, stuck somewhere instead of headed to earth like it was meant to – but time passes so differently that it’s hard to track the passing of it. Like drifting in and out of a dream. Or a nightmare.

She’s trapped in her own mind, in her own body, until her pod opens to a bright new world.

It’s a spark of hope, to Kara’s young mind. A brand new sky whose sun is young and yellow and fills her with energy. But the cousin who greets her isn’t a baby, doesn’t need her to take care of him – he’s a man, full-grown and kind, but distant. So distant that he doesn’t even take her in, doesn’t teach her about earth, doesn’t let her cling to the last piece of familiarity left to her in the universe. He leaves her with a new family, one with a human daughter who hates her. She’s just a leaf caught in the wind of other people’s decisions for her, left to adapt to wherever she lands.

And Kara does adapt, as Lena experiences her life in fast-forward. She never stops feeling like an outsider, but she finds a place for herself, however fragile. Alex and Eliza become so important, become everything, but they’re still human – they still age, still get sick. As Kara gets older she watches them change in the way she never will, and she can only protect them so much. She can save Alex from a crashing plane, but she can’t save them from their own human lifespan. Someday, Kara knows, she’ll lose them too. She’ll lose everyone she loves.

Almost before Lena can process the deep, buried grief Kara already feels for all the people she knows will leave her, things are accelerating to something Lena actually remembers. The perspective is different, but the event is the same – she’s watching Superman fight Lex, listening to his anti-alien rhetoric.

Instead of the horror of watching her brother succumb to his obsession, she feels what Kara does. The constant vigilance of hiding her powers, fear of being discovered that was drilled into her for most of her life, the feeling of worthlessness next to Clark as he once again saves the world. It builds and it builds until she finally manages to get out from under his shadow, comes out as Supergirl and makes a single choice that feels like it’s for her

When the scene shifts this time, it’s not smooth. It’s like a record scratch, like this is a particularly painful memory, and Lena finds that it’s another incident that she remembers.

It had been part of the impetus for her mother’s recent mania in getting rid of aliens. Supergirl had gone wild, destroyed parts of the city and insisted that they bow to her in subservience. Dressed in black and wielding a power that could shake the earth she had watched the city burn with glee – and at the time, watching Supergirl tear the world apart without a second thought, Lena had wondered if Lex hadn’t had a point in making Kryptonite for situations like this.

Now, she’s on the other side of it. She’s not seeing the powerful god with nobody to stop her, not feeling the fear. Instead she’s trapped in her own body, in Kara’s body, watching herself gleefully hurt people and knowing that, somewhere deep down, this was always a part of her. Throwing her mentor from a balcony, breaking her own sister’s arm, delighting in people’s terror and drunk on power and control – Kara had experienced every moment as if someone else was piloting her body, like two people were living inside her and she felt the consciousness of both. She can still feel that poison, that darkness, just as much as she can feel her own humiliation and remorse. Like pulling poison from a wound, the Red Kryptonite just brought it to the surface, and Kara carries it with her every day.

She wakes up to Alex with her arm in a sling, and the devastation of remembering every single thing she’s done and being unable to change it. It feels, Lena realizes, exactly like she herself had felt waking up after she was turned. Blood on her hands and a faint memory of carnage, uncontrolled but irreversible. Carrying the guilt of every loss of control for decades. 

The memories get less clear after that, like Kara is trying to show them all to her at once. Like she’s latched onto Lena’s moment of understanding and is trying to drive it home. Lena is swept into it – into Kara’s first kiss where she broke the boy’s nose, feeling Alex’s arm snap like a twig under her hands, everyday things she holds in her hands breaking whenever she doesn’t pay attention. Every time she lets her anger bubble up. Living every second knowing that if she loses even the tiniest bit of control, she could kill. Just like Lena. 

The scene shifts again and Kara is kneeling on the concrete, holding a dying woman in her arms. Astra, with the face of her mother; telling her cold, harsh truths about her family and then leaving her, just like everyone else. She could have helped her, could have turned her back to the light, but that was taken away from her too.

A slideshow starts in Lena’s head - face after face flashing through with perfect clarity, every single person Kara has tried to save and failed. Kara remembers every one, honours them and grieves them in her heart. All dead. Just like everyone Kara loves will be someday, with her long lifespan and their short, fragile human lives. Kara knows that everyone she loves will leave her, and she’ll be alone again – sadness and anger and hurt and fear swirl together in a potent mixture, simmering under the surface of her skin, until Lena can feel fire burning behind eyes that aren’t her own as she pours all of those feelings into destroying a strangely human-looking red robot. Anger so strong that it destroyed an indestructible object, and pushed her body past its breaking point. 

Kara is full of anger, of resentment and pain - she was sent to earth from a planet whose destruction could have been prevented, by a family whose secrets she’s still unravelling. Sent here to live among humans but never be one of them. Even her cousin, her last connection to Krypton, is more human than alien. 

Kara is alone, and it makes her so angry. The kind of anger that has consequences. She knows that people fear Supergirl as much as they love her, and that fact weighs on her every waking moment.

And then, Lena sees herself.

She sees herself in a way she’s never considered before. It’s that night at the docks, when they first met face to face – and it’s strange to experience it from Kara’s end, when her own memory of the interaction is so vivid. Because Kara, in true Kara fashion, had trusted her almost right away.

In a strange, funhouse mirror kind of way she feels the tug of attraction, the pull of a connection Kara didn’t understand. One she still doesn’t, but she’s trusting Lena anyways. And she sees how Kara sees her, so fundamentally different than she sees herself – beautiful, fascinating, brilliant. The firm, unshakeable nature of Kara’s knowledge that Lena is good. The sheer, overwhelming love Kara feels, not repressed and feared like it is in Lena but loose, wild and full. Kara loves her with no reservations, even after finding out that their connection is some predestined thing beyond their control – and when Kara senses that Lena is seeing that part of herself, the feeling seems to get stronger. Like Kara is showcasing it, cupping it gently in her hands like a butterfly and presenting it to Lena with an open heart.

Their separation this time is beautiful, in a way. Less the rubber-band snap of last time, and more like a soft, intentional disentanglement. She comes to in Kara’s arms, kneeling on the floor and having no idea how it happened, and as she becomes aware of her body again as a separate entity she realizes that she’s crying.

“People like us don’t always get to choose,” Kara says, her voice raspy with her own tears. “But I’m never going to take that choice away from you. This decision is yours.”

“Kara…” Lena whispers, tasting salt as Kara traces her lips with a thumb. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t try to know. I was selfish, I - I’m sorry.”

She doesn’t know what else to say, beyond that. She’s sorry for so many things - for denying this for so long, for keeping Kara in the dark, for hurting them both in the process. For not giving Kara a chance to show her that they aren’t so different.

Kara doesn’t respond, but Lena can feel her forgiveness like a balm. To Kara, there’s nothing to forgive. 

“I’m not perfect,” Kara murmurs, her shoulders tense. “I’m not all light. And you’re not the monster you think you are.”

Somehow, the darkness that swirls inside Kara – and the fact that Lena can see now that she also fights, constantly, tirelessly, to be good just like Lena does – makes Kara more compelling to Lena than she’s ever been before. Kara has had choices ripped away from her, had to shoulder responsibility she never asked for. She’s felt, now, the darkest depths of Kara’s soul, and yet Kara hasn’t succumbed to it. Instead she shows compassion, and hope. She helps

And, inexplicably, she sees something in Lena too. 

“Lena?” Kara whispers.

“Yes?”

“Can I kiss you?”

Yes.”

Kara is kissing her as soon as the word passes her lips.

Over the course of her long life Lena has kissed and been kissed in almost every imaginable way. The innocent kisses of youth, slow and trembling with realization; ones born purely of passion and a need to forget. She’s been kissed with barely-restrained violence, hard and angry, and she’s been kissed deeply with a love she could never reflect back. She’s had feral kisses tinged with the thrill of feeding, that satisfied her in the moment and wracked her with guilt for weeks afterwards.

None of them have ever felt like this.

Kara doesn’t just kiss – she envelops, physically and mentally. The kiss stays chaste only long enough for Kara to strip herself emotionally, to open every imaginable part of herself to Lena in pure welcome as things shift rapidly from sweet to intense and open-mouthed. Physically they’re pressed impossibly close, breathing the same air, tongues sliding hotly together in a desperate kiss that brings Lena’s desire roaring to life; mentally, they’re somehow even closer.

Lena’s hands clench in handfuls around Kara’s shirt, needing something real to ground herself as she’s buffeted by a storm of feeling. But Kara is running through her veins, too, and with her new and increasingly familiar strength the shirt tears like paper in her hands.

Underneath it, the skin of Kara’s chest is searing hot. Lena presses her shaking hands to it, sliding them under the shredded fabric to feel the pounding of her heart, and it seems to stoke something instinctive in Kara – in what her heightened senses can understand is barely half a second Kara has stood them both up, swept Lena’s feet off the ground and pressed her into the wall so firmly that Lena can feel the brick cracking behind her. Kara leans herself forward in a hard grind, and as the kiss turns almost frantic Lena can hear pieces of stone scattering across the hardwood.

The status of the wall and the structural integrity of the building fades with every hard press of Kara’s thigh.

Historically Lena has always been a structured kisser, skilled and controlled in her borderline disinterest. Kissing was a means to an end, and nothing more. None of that matters now.

There’s no strategy to this, no control – it’s just hot and messy, a desperate attempt to get as close to merging into one as is possible with two separate bodies. Kara’s shredded shirt hits the floor, and since Lena is unwilling to let Kara stop kissing her for long enough to pull her own shirt over her head, it joins Kara’s with a dramatic tear down the middle. The damaged brick scrapes against her bare back, but her impervious skin only registers it as another level of pleasure as Kara moans into her mouth, and god, she tastes incredible, like –

Like blood.

In a moment of horrified realization, Lena recognizes exactly why. She can still taste the blood on her tongue. Kara’s blood, now shared between them, but Kara isn’t a vampire – somewhere in the mess of her tangled thoughts she’s sure that Kara must taste it too, and she starts to pull back to apologize. To see the look of revulsion.

But Kara still has her pressed into the wall, licking into her mouth with abandon, and seems unwilling to let her go. An intoxicating burst of wanting washes over her, and it isn’t just her own. It’s Kara’s, too. She’s shared Lena’s realization, and her desire isn’t dulled by the blood but is somehow stoked by it; Kara isn’t repulsed by Lena’s nature at all.

She’s not tolerating being fed on. It thrills her.

With that desire thrumming in her chest, Lena gives in completely. The last stubborn remnants of her resistance drop like a curtain, and everything is Kara.

They don’t even need to hear each other’s thoughts. The desire is blinding, their link so powerful with both of them open and ready that Lena can barely distinguish herself from Kara. The thought of stopping doesn’t even have time to manifest before both of them are disregarding it. Stopping would be intolerable. Stopping would mean separating, and Lena wants to live here forever.

Why would they wait, intentionally keep themselves from each other, when they’ve both gone so long without half of their soul?

Being held against the wall is so mind-meltingly good that Lena is tempted to stay there, to just press herself wantonly into Kara’s hard stomach until she hits what she’s sure will be the best orgasm of her existence. But it would only be half of what she wants it to be – just as strong is the desire to give while she takes, to feel Kara’s pleasure roaring through her as well as her own. So she pushes off the wall hard, hearing another crack but resolutely ignoring it.

Kara is still holding her up, but Lena hardly has to pull up a mental picture of what she wants before her back hits the couch and Kara has stripped them both of their remaining clothes with a fervor that borders on violence. Buttons fly, fabric splits, and the couch groans under the pressure of their bodies. It makes Lena throb in the best possible way, the depth and truth of Kara’s craving for her.

When she’s finally (and quite literally) ripped her own sweatpants off Kara throws herself onto the couch to press into Lena again, the springs groaning even louder as she completely disregards the weight capability of the furniture in favour of making sure there’s no space between their bodies. Lena has a brief moment of disappointment that she hardly gets a chance to look, but Kara is so warm, so soft and hard at the same time. Lena’s body sings at every point of contact. With a slight adjustment Kara slips between her thighs like she belongs there – because she does, Lena knows now. This is where we’re supposed to be.

All higher thought disappears after that, because Kara is pressing her thigh into Lena’s clit at exactly the right angle. Lena arches up, gasping into her mouth, and hooks a leg around Kara’s hip – and Kara lets slip a surprised squeak, her hips twitching down hard despite Lena not being able to reach to return the favour.

Kara can feel it too, Lena realizes with delight. The sensation is shared. With a renewed determination Lena spreads herself wider, and arches up.

Again Kara thrusts her hips forward, and again she moans in surprised pleasure – and on the third thrust, Kara responds with such vigor that two of the couch legs snap under the pressure, shifting the whole thing downwards.

Normally it might bother her, that she’s destroying Kara’s property with no regard whatsoever. But she’s beyond being capable of remorse right now, and Kara doesn’t seem to care. She just pulls them both off the lopsided cushions, and rolls until Lena’s back hits the hardwood.

Being completely naked on the worn floor of Kara’s apartment should make her feel dirty. But with Kara’s body finally pressed against her own with no barriers and Kara’s perfect soul cradling hers like she deserves to be treasured, she’s never felt more clean.

There’s no need for hesitance, now. Kara is filling her with three fingers as soon as she can spread her legs to accommodate, and Kara leaves just enough room between them for Lena to slip her hand down and spread her own firm against Kara’s clit. Neither of them need to ask, or falter – their thoughts are bleeding together, their desires entangled, every sensation echoed in each other. Lena knows the pressure and movement that Kara needs just as Kara knows the perfect rhythm and thrust to make Lena’s toes curl, and it’s still only one piece of the puzzle that’s slowly assembling itself between them.

While their bodies sweat and move together in perfect harmony, Lena is undergoing metamorphosis.

For as long as she can remember, Lena has survived by wearing masks. She’s worn so many faces, twisted and broken herself to fit into so many ill-fitting boxes, that the loss of whatever true self she might have had once is something she accepted a long time ago. But there are no masks, here. There’s nothing to hide behind, nothing keeping Kara out anymore – Kara is discovering Lena at the same time that Lena is discovering herself, and Kara’s overwhelming delight at what she finds is bleeding into Lena too. Kara dug through layers of fear and self-hatred to grasp at the core of her, and Lena is pulled out into the light to be bathed in a love like she’s never known. The connection she’s always missed during intimacy, the emptiness – it was all because she was waiting for this. For Kara.

Kara, for her part, is broadcasting pure wonder. Every time she presses deep into Lena without holding back, grasps hard at her hip and feels Lena arch in pleasure instead of pain, is a new thrill as she discovers the joy of someone who won’t break under her touch. Someone who won’t age while she gets left behind. The gratitude rolls through both of them in waves, and Kara whispers her name like a prayer. Lena tastes her own name said with reverence for the first time in her life, and each moment together like this is a reminder that they aren’t alone in this world. That all their sacrifice, their pain, is worth something. 

Lena isn’t quite ready to share her whole life the way Kara did, but she knows that someday soon, she will be. And that knowledge is a wonder in itself.

There’s no way Lena could prepare herself for the inevitable.

She feels it on her hand, the twitching of Kara’s clit against her fingers as she hovers on the razor’s edge; she feels it in the way Kara is panting into her mouth, unable to do anything beyond share trembling breath as Lena bites down on her lower lip. And above all she feels the moment that Kara finally allows herself to let go, burying her face in Lena’s neck with a broken cry and rutting desperately down into her hand. The involuntary, relieved noise Kara makes breaks the last of Lena’s resolve, drawing out her own sob as Kara drags her up into a dizzying spiral. She arches into Kara as she comes, full to the brim of everything she always knew she was missing.

It’s more than release. It’s a single moment of completeness, every heartbeat in sync as something far beyond both of them clicks perfectly into place. Lena might have described it as the nail in her coffin, before this – but now, it feels more like her first steps out of the dark and into the dazzling sun, squinting and pale but knowing there’s a whole new world in front of her. The door behind her is firmly shut, and Kara is ahead with a hand outstretched.

And beyond the metaphysical revelation, Lena has never come harder in her entire life than she does with three of Kara’s long fingers curling inside her.

She drifts back to earth slowly, accepting the gentle separation as their hearts even out into their own rhythms. Kara is still inside her, her warm weight anchoring Lena to the floor, and she’s nipping lazily at Lena’s neck in a sweet approximation of the bite that started all of this. Despite the fact that Lena’s sweaty back is sticking to the floor underneath her and there’s a draft coming from the window that she now realizes is cracked open for the whole world to hear their shameless noises, she’s warm and comfortable and perfectly content as she adjusts to this new reality.

There’s no need to talk. Their connection is shallower right now than it was a moment ago, but Kara is still with her, just sharing in a mutual tranquility.

It means that as she idly runs her fingers through Kara’s damp hair, she can detect the exact moment when the smallest droplet ripples the smooth pond of Kara’s mind. A hint of fear that Lena will regret this. That this spilling-over of pent-up desire will send her running, like all the times she’s run before.

That just won’t do.

Kara senses the change in mood as soon as it happens. Her head perks up from its spot on Lena’s shoulder, her eyes bright and hungry, and she grins at the rekindled desire Lena is sending her way.

She very clearly doesn’t expect Lena to flip them over, knocking the coffee table several inches from its spot with the screech of wood on wood. Distantly she hears things hit the ground, but none of it registers – Kara is all there is. Lena finally indulges her earlier desire to look, to take in all the skin that so taunted her when Kara wore that stupid little tank top at Cat’s house. She’s all planes and angles, sleek and solid muscle moving under unmarred skin, and Lena memorizes every inch as she applies her other senses as well. The taste of her sweat as Lena kisses down her sternum, her whimper of startled arousal when Lena bites down on her collarbone with teeth that aren’t yet sharpened into points. Her fangs are at bay, and it’s dulled human teeth that she sinks bluntly into Kara’s smooth skin.

Kara, thrown completely off guard by Lena’s sudden initiative, arches up into the sensation with spread thighs and a surprised moan. Lena presses herself down in anticipation, and their bodies meet halfway – Kara presses into her stomach, wet and messy and open, and Lena is hit with a craving so intense that she changes course immediately.

Kara’s reaction is a mix of overpowering enthusiasm, and disbelief.

The debate that she knew was coming when she flipped them over happens in hyperspeed as she moves down Kara’s body, the words not even forming as speech but passing between them internally. The back-and-forth of you don’t have to – no, I want to – but I should – please, just let me is over by the time Lena reaches Kara’s bellybutton, the muscle trembling with anticipation, and she drags her tongue across the sensitive skin between Kara’s hipbones to celebrate her success. Her toes curl as she feels the ghost of it on her own body and Kara shivers, staring down at her in a sort of astonishment.

Even after what just happened, Kara still can’t believe this is real. And it’s because of Lena’s hot-and-cold act, the last few months. Kara has gotten so used to being whiplashed that she can’t believe Lena is here to stay.

Lena needs to ease her mind.

Just like with their first kiss, she means to apply her usual finesse. It’s a point of pride for her, really – Lena is good at this. Down to a science. But Kara has already unravelled so much of who Lena thought she was, and she isn’t only feeling her own desire. Kara is trembling with barely-contained hunger, one hand clenched in her own hair and the other pressed into the floor like she’s afraid to move it, and under these conditions Lena can’t possibly be expected to be anything but instinctive the moment her mouth makes contact.

And her instincts are telling her to get as much of Kara on her tongue as possible. If it means the entire lower half of her face is a mess, so be it.

Kara, for all her hesitance at the beginning, loses herself in it like someone who isn’t used to having their desires indulged. She’s spent her life focusing on the needs of others for fear of losing her control, in every aspect of her life – but Lena doesn’t need to be protected. Lena is her equal in this, can take whatever Kara gives her and can give back just as much. Kara’s blood makes her more than what she could ever be alone.

Even so Kara is hesitant at first, reserved and stiff; but the more Lena traces eager, sloppy patterns over every slick inch of her, the more of Kara’s control slips away. Her hips start to follow Lena’s tongue, vaguely and then rolling up with more intent, and her hand moves from the floor to hover uncertainly over the back of Lena’s head.

Before Kara can doubt herself Lena grabs it and pushes it into place, focusing every brain cell that isn’t currently lost in Kara’s cunt on telling her how much she wants it.

Kara gets the message. Her fingers tighten in Lena’s hair, and with newfound confidence she rolls her hips up and pulls firm on Lena’s hair in tandem. When Lena moans shamelessly against her clit, she can feel Kara’s delight and relief all the way to the tips of her toes.

This is the first time this has ever happened for Kara, Lena knows with sudden certainty. The first time anyone has ever done this for her without the constant fear of getting their nose broken. Kara can let go, chase what actually feels good. This is new and dirty and wonderful, and Lena is showing her the way.

Lena likes it a little rough. And apparently so does Kara, a fact that’s completely new to both of them. Lena sharing Kara’s powers has unlocked something, and the excitement is mutual.

“Lena,” Kara breathes, pulling Lena’s hair again harder and harder until she whimpers. Her eyes are open, her gaze locked on Lena’s face instead of throwing her head back as Lena winds her up with enthusiasm, and Lena makes sure to put on a bit of a show. She drags her tongue up in a way that makes Kara’s eyes widen, ending with a gentle kiss to her clit, making sure Kara can see the mess she’s made of her face. “God. You’re so – so good at this –“

With how little talking there’s been thus far, the introduction of Kara’s voice – raspy from her cries earlier, and laced with wanting – is almost more than Lena can bear. She groans and doubles her efforts, but she can feel her tenuous control of her baser side starting to slip.

Not having Kara in her mouth is the last thing she wants, but she has to pull away – and the moment she does, she can feel the almost painful relief that always comes with her fangs extending without her permission. Her hunger is twofold, drawn out by the unrestrained pleasure and the proximity of the pulse roaring through Kara’s femoral artery. The vital throb of blood tinged with desire. Some vampires are pathological in their preference to feed this way, to drain their victims in the throes of pleasure to capture the taste of it – but Lena never has. Never wanted to. Not until now.

It doesn’t help that the moment it crosses Lena’s mind Kara is moaning in a way that makes Lena’s mouth water, using her grip on Lena’s hair to direct her to her inner thigh.

“Oh my god, yes, do it, do it, please –“ Kara gasps, her hips rocking against nothing, and Lena leans in to carefully catch the wetness that the idea brings forth. Her fangs stay firmly in place, and Kara tugs on her hair again with a new insistence.

Lena doesn’t have to ask what it is Kara wants. Kara didn’t even need to say anything before Lena knew - she feels it, sees it, the desire potent and addictive. She can feel the throb of Kara’s clit echoed in her own, the tingling of her inner thigh in anticipation, the threads of need and love and acute, almost painful arousal.

Kara is about to come, and Lena wants to taste it.

Before she can let doubt overtake her Lena spreads Kara wide, presses her thumb into Kara’s clit, and drives her teeth into the meat of her thigh. Like it’s desperate to escape her body Kara’s blood bursts forth, and for a brief moment Lena understands why some of her kind feed like this.

When they merge into one, laid bare and raw and intertwined even more closely than before, their shared orgasm feels like the heat death of the universe.

It’s so different and raw and so, so good like this. They’re tangled together not to share trauma or to build trust but simply because they want to be nestled inside each other more closely than is physically possible, and it’s a brand new kind of pleasure. One that wracks Lena’s body even without any physical touch, and makes Kara arch up so hard into Lena’s mouth and hand that the traction of her heels leaves splintery gouges in the floorboards.

If she had thought they were loud last time, Lena feels genuinely sorry for the neighbours now. Lena’s mouth is otherwise occupied but Kara’s is not, and her shouts are as beautifully unrestrained as the movement of her hips. It’s likely the first time Kara has been unrestrained in any way since she landed on earth, and the absolute decadence of it only makes the whole thing feel better as they both come down from the high.

When they disentangle, the wounds left by Lena’s teeth knitting themselves closed almost the moment she moves away, she’s unsurprised to realize that she’s crying. Considering the last time she cried wasn’t even in this century, she’s oddly unbothered by it – Kara has tears tracking down her temples as well, and in this safest of places it feels like a release all its own. All she can do is climb up Kara’s body and into her waiting arms, and accept this for what it is.

Kara is her perfect foil. Her soulmate. Kara’s light and dark, Lena’s light and dark – they don’t make a gloomy shade of grey together but instead shatter into a million colours, every ounce of fate and destiny Lena has been running from settling into a soul-deep sense of contentment.

This is her place in the world. She’s finally found it, and she won’t let it go again.

As Lena lies there on the floor, wrapped up in warm arms and feeling more content than she’s ever been in any of her long years, she realizes something. Kara’s feelings, usually so present in her mind, are curiously quiet.

She’d noticed that since she met Kara, the connection between them had been getting stronger. She’d gone from getting flashes of Kara’s emotions, to getting occasional maelstroms, to not being able to disentangle Kara’s feelings from her own, and it made her feel more and more out of control. Now, it feels manageable. Almost pleasant, actually.

It isn’t that she can’t feel Kara, exactly – more like her thoughts are at a whisper, instead of the roar she’s become accustomed to. Just a warm, comfortable presence in her heart, unmistakeably there but not so deafening that she can’t distinguish it from her own thoughts. It’s almost like, now that she’s given in and stopped needlessly fighting this bond between them, it’s finally easing up. Like the universe had been screaming at her to get her shit together, and now it’s settling into hibernation until the next time she tries to run scared from her own happiness.

When she burrows her face into Kara’s neck, humming contentedly as strong arms close tightly around her, the peace she feels is all her own.