Kara inhaled steadily, breathing in the clean scent of Lena’s penthouse loft and the savory aromas of the very nice and very expensive meal they had enjoyed. It had been at Lena’s insistence, her reasoning hinging on the excuse that she had been wanting to try this particular restaurant but hadn’t been able to find a gap in her schedule. Kara had, of course, happily gone along with her plan. She was content to follow her lead. Kara had discovered recently that she was happy to follow Lena down an interesting new path altogether. She was happy to just follow her down the hall.
They were still friends after all these years, having repaired what they had broken. The best of friends, even.
And now? Now there were more new interesting and equally terrifying feelings. Feelings that made Kara’s heart race in her chest if Lena’s hand slid across her knuckles with interest. Feelings that sent electricity racing across her skin if her warm breath ghosted against the shell of her ear. Feelings that bundled up into a big fluffy ball of pink and gold cotton candy in her chest when Lena laughed with a crinkle of her nose or did that infuriating quirk of an eyebrow and cocky grin. Feelings that definitely had bloomed into something warmer than friendship.
As the universe would have it, it seemed that Lena was also experiencing these same feelings. Kara could see the evidence in how she pressed closer in their hugs and how she always softened around the edges when Kara walked into the room. In fact, Lena had been leaning more and more into Kara’s more tactile nature. Sitting closer, standing closer, and just lingering when she could. They were in a perfect dance, circling around each other in an ever-tightening orbit that was on a sure path to convergence.
Their convergence had led them to another Friday night dinner after a long work week. Lena had indulged Kara’s want of holiday music that evening, tuning in to one of the hundreds of radio stations that were playing non-stop Christmas music. Kara had let her choose a station that played a calmer genre on the jazzier side, and didn’t miss the blatant cue from that and the combination of the dimmed lights. Even if they hadn’t put a word to it, their evening was definitely a date. Every time something a little more romantic happened that evening she felt her cheeks warming and the butterflies in her stomach swirling. Even cleaning up in the kitchen and loading their cutlery into the dishwasher had felt romantic.
The appliance was humming quietly in the darkened kitchen now as Kara made her way back out into the living room. Lena was already curled up in the corner of the large white couch that split the space from lounge to dining. Their new drinks of boozy hot chocolate were waiting on the coffee table with a plate of cookies for dessert. Kara couldn’t help but slow her step a fraction and take in the scene. The oversized television above the gas log fireplace was displaying a more realistic video of a large wood fire in an iron grate, including the sounds of the snap and pop of burning wood. A lavishly decorated real Christmas tree stood sentinel just to the side against the glass wall, looking out over National City. It was decked with glittering ornaments and winking white lights, perfuming the loft with crisp fresh pine. Kara could even pick out some of the ornaments she had gifted Lena over the years.
Kara rounded the corner of the couch and sank into the small section of the L so she could take in the whole scene. Behind the tree with its glass baubles and chic skirt the city was picturesque, lit in a checkered patchwork of golden windows against the dark night. Snow was swirling in a muted gray, thick fat flakes steadily coating the banister of Lena’s balcony.
And beside her, Lena.
She accepted her new mug with a pleased blush and tucked into the cookie plate, making sure to leave the choicest treats for Lena. They munched through their dessert and sipped the spiked chocolatey drink in between bites and conversation, slowly sinking further into the couch. Lena had put a healthy splash of alcohol in her mug even if it was just for the taste-her metabolism negating any affects it would have had on her had she been human. But regardless of that, she was warm and safe and comfortably full as she happily listened to Lena talk about one of her personal projects. Lena was animated and entrancing as she tucked her feet up under her rear. She cradled her nearly empty mug closely to her chest with one hand and talked with the other, eyes bright and cheeks rosy even in the dim room.
She was beautiful .
From the curve of the apple of her cheek to the dimple next to the corner of her mouth, the warm golden light softened the sharp line of her cheekbone. Kara left her mug on the coffee table and snuggled a little deeper into Lena’s fancy white couch, her eyes caught between the reflection of the Christmas lights in her green eyes and the golden glow of the fake fireplace from her tv on her lips. Full, soft lips that she had been staring more and more at over the past few months, and almost rudely so that evening. It wasn’t one sided, Lena had been looking at her all night too.
“Do you remember at one of our first lunches you asked me about quantum entanglement?” Kara asked in a lull as Lena drained her mug and nudged it onto the table next to Kara’s.
Lena’s brow threatened to rise in a teasing manner. “I do. However had I known that you had already learned what that was when you were five I wouldn’t have wasted my breath.”
“Are you still mad at me about that?” Kara grinned, ribbing her over an age-old argument.
“I could have had a science buddy right from the start! You deprived me, Kara Danvers.” Lena moaned pitifully, fully milking the situation she had already wrung dry. “How could you do that to me, I had even used my kid-explanation .”
Kara laughed as Lena tried and failed to form some kind of believable pout, but she was too posh to pout and she dropped the attitude for a matching grin. Somewhere behind them over the speakers a smooth tenor warmly crooned it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas over the gentle jazz strings.
“Hey, I liked your kid-explanation! It was very informative and worthy of any high school classroom. An excellent use of our water glasses for props.”
Lena rolled her eyes, still smiling. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“Fine, how about you tell me with your non-kid-explanation.” Kara teased and wiggled closer, rearranging her legs so Lena could stretch hers out over her thighs.
Lena took the offering and unfolded her legs, the weight anchoring Kara into the couch. “I-well, why did this come up?”
“I like when you talk nerdy to me.”
Of course Lena’s threat was woefully empty, her legs not budging and her cheeks warming further. Kara let her hands rest flat on her shins and playfully batted her eyelashes-not that she needed to, but the bonus points were definitely worth it. Lena leaned sideways into the corner of the couch and smiled fondly, her eyes dipping to somewhere around Kara’s chin before grabbing a pillow and tucking it into her side.
“Well, alright.” She conceded happily. “Quantum entanglement. A subject of physics that many people find both fascinating and daunting, but really once you understand the core issues it’s rather simple.”
She may know what quantum entanglement was, but she loved to hear Lena speak about science. It was comforting in its nostalgia. Reminding her of Krypton through easy conversation of formulas and hypothesis. And there was something about being able to share it with her best friend that really made it special for her again. Kara leaned forward a little, projecting a curious attitude with a matching expression that made Lena’s smile a little softer around the edges.
“First it is beneficial to understand that in quantum theory there is a distinction between independent and entangled systems. Or would you rather I skip ahead?”
“Don’t, please, but you can give me an abbreviated version.” Kara smoothed her thumb over the curve of Lena’s knee, the bone of her kneecap hard under her touch.
The muscled around her knee contracted in a subtle flex and Kara watched her gaze dip again for a moment. “Ok. So, entangled states are actually quite fascinating. These aren’t individual particles as many people think, but rather they are an inseparable whole. Entanglement is expressed by a sum of connected components that cannot be truly recognized without first thinking of the other, or others. Without a sum of at least two, there is no entanglement.”
Lena’s gaze was dropping more and more frequently to Kara’s mouth, and she could feel her legs starting to subtly tilt to the side and press into her stomach. Her voice grew softer and sank lower in her chest as she continued.
“Quantum systems can become entangled both naturally and through experimentation. Subatomic particle decays are likely the most well known example, and if it’s alright with you I think I might gloss over quarks and the Higgs Boson.”
Kara just nodded, slowly allowing herself to be reeled in to Lena’s orbit. It was perfectly reasonable to save those points of conversation for when they were less distracted.
“What about the Hong-Ou-Mandel effect?” Lena breathed, her free hand creeping over the top of the couch.
“I would be okay saving that for later too.” Kara managed. She could count every freckle under the sheer makeup on her skin.
Lena nodded and the tip of her tongue wet her lips. “Of course, we must recognize that natural entanglement always occurs in electron shells of multi-electron atoms.”
Kara could feel the tips of her fingers pressing into the top of her shoulder, coaxing her forward. She leaned in a little closer. “Of course. We totally should.”
“In short, a pair of particles will share a close proximity or interact in such a way that their individual quantum states cannot be described independently of the other. Even when separated by distance, they remain connected and are affected by the other. If one particle is observed with an up-spin on its axis, the other will undoubtedly be in a down-spin. It is believed that these particles are moving in many different ways all at once, but they can only be observed and measured at one stage. This change of balance between the two particles happens at over possibly ten-thousand times the speed of light. Or perhaps even instantaneously, no matter how far apart they may be.”
Lena’s hand was curling around the back of her neck now, pulling her closer-closer, and Kara gladly scooched in until she had to brace her hand behind her shoulder. Lena shifted her knee and Kara hesitantly let her hand slide a few inches up her thigh, heat crawling up her neck. She was so close now, close enough that she could smell her perfume and see a few stray crystals of red sugar from their shared cookies on her lip. Her heart was racing in her chest and her breath caught in her throat as Lena’s dark eyes dropped to her mouth again and didn’t look away. Kara licked her lips and followed the gentle pull of her hand, staring down those few little sugar crystals. She could feel Lena’s breath puffing warmly over her chin.
“What does Michael Bublé have to say about quantum entanglement?” She whispered, still somewhat aware of the music.
“He’ll do in lieu of mistletoe.” Lena answered her with a quirk of a grin and pulled Kara across those last few inches, finally, into a kiss.
That was the word Kara was looking for as she let her eyes flutter shut, intimately aware of the soft drag of Lena’s lips against her own. It was as if the stop gap in her chest had been opened and relief and attraction and affection bled through her body and curled into the little recesses of her chest. Kara sighed and pressed in closer, kissing Lena with a little more fervor, feeling comfortingly surrounded by her warmth as her heart sang somewhere high above her head. They paused for a moment, taking steadying breaths even as they shared the air between them. It wasn’t bad for a first kiss, but that was all Kara had the energy to think as she leaned back in with a grin for another. Their mouths bumped awkwardly, smile against smile, and Lena laughed lowly in her chest as she kissed Kara’s teeth on accident.
Kara sobered up enough to relax her mouth and tilted her head to the side for better contact. If Lena had been looking for some sign of permission to fully relax, it was Kara feeling bold enough to tentatively lave over her lip. She had worried if it was too much too soon and was more than prepared to slow down-but the hand on the back of her neck held her close and Lena met her in the middle tasting of sugar and chocolate. The sensation of Lena inviting her into a more intimately vulnerable kiss had her heart leapfrogging around in her chest as she scooched even closer-close enough to slide her arm around the back of her shoulders. The hand she had pressed flat just above her knee jumped to her waist and tangled in the soft fabric of her sweater. Warm fingers brushed along the line of her jaw and if Kara could describe the rosy gold explosions in her head she would write a thousand books about it.
To linger in that feeling for just a few minutes was Kara’s hope, and Lena must have wanted to relish that feeling too. They shared more kisses, lazy and languid and politely exploring. There was no need to rush in the cozy stasis of Lena’s loft. Hands didn’t stray too far, more concerned with comfort and mapping out the new territory in their changing relationship. Kara lost track of time as she tasted Lena over and over, recognizing a change of song on the radio every few minutes. Lena was solid and warm and far more deserving of her attention than some jazzy carol. Each brush of Lena’s lips and tongue felt like one more brick in the foundation of whatever this was, and Kara was eager to build something meaningful.
Then, Lena was slowing down for a moment with a few soft pecks to her mouth, her hands sliding to cradle her jaw. Kara followed her lead and leaned back a few inches. Her heart did another funny little hop-skip in her chest as she took in Lena’s thoroughly kissed appearance of flushed skin and puffy pink lips. Her eyes were dark and hooded, and she took a beat to catch her breath before voicing her new thought.
“Did you know that some scientists have suggested photosynthesis may benefit from quantum entanglement?”
Kara’s smile returned in full force, feeling even more jittery with a heady mix of happiness and excitement as her lips tingled against the stretch. “We stopped kissing because… plants?”
“You are one, aren’t you? Powered by the sun?” Lena teased, already pulling her back in. “I thought it was beneficial information.”
“Seriously?” Kara groused through a pleased grin and gently bumped the tip of her nose into Lena’s.
She scrunched her nose in response to Kara’s nudge, but pressed in closer until her forehead was flush against hers. “I would be a terrible scientist if I didn’t review all avenues of questioning.”
“I would love to be your subject of study.” Kara murmured, her lips already brushing against Lena’s that were seeking her out.
“ Wonderful .”
Kara smiled and kissed her and kissed her and kissed her again as the Christmas lights twinkled and the snow blanketed National City.