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white knuckle ride

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The first time it happens is when Kara stumbles back into the real world.

She sees several wobbly smiles, blurred by her own tears to match theirs before the wind is knocked out of her. The force of it pushes her back on her feet slightly – not feigned this time. The Phantom Zone had taken it out of her, and she was pushing back the voice in her head that said maybe it would be forever. That maybe she’d never look at the sun the same again. But somehow that’s not the first thought on her mind.

Her first thought is that she’s warm. Inconceivably warm considering the cold she’d gotten so used to. Warm in a way she almost can’t remember being. It comes from the arms wrapped around her so tight that Kara thinks she could pop. It comes from the tears streaking down her neck and the stuttered breathing from a mouth pressed to her collarbone. It comes from the jet-black hairs tickling her nose and the heartbeat that she can feel thudding against her body that her own jumps to meet the beat of. Every part of it makes her feel warm.

Kara holds back with everything she has. Desperately curls her fingers into Lena’s shirt and sobs deeply. She can feel the halfmoons phasing into her skin from Lena’s grip just as surely as she can feel the pull of the skin of her knuckles as the colour drains. And Lena. She can feel Lena, surrounding her, being surrounded by her.

She’s glad it’s Lena. Even as Alex presses a hand to the back of her head and strokes her hair and Brainy gently touches the skin of her hand, half comforting her, half comforting Lena. She’s glad that Lena is the one securely in her arms.

“You’re home,” Lena whispers, awed.

“Yeah,” the word catches on a sob. “I’m home.” She holds tighter. Pushes past her usual fear and instead grips as hard as she possibly can. She feels Lena’s gentle puff of shock against her neck, and it only makes her want to grip harder. She wishes she could pull Lena so close that they could never part again. It already feels unimaginable that she was ever without her.

“I didn’t think- I wasn’t sure I could-“

“You saved me.” Kara can feel the truth of the statement in the tremble of Lena’s bones. She never expected anything less. It was the one thing that kept her going through most of it – the knowledge that her friends would never give up on her. Lena would never give up on her. “You always save me.”

“Are you hurt? You could be hurt – we should really check you out.” Lena attempts to pull away. Kara keeps her close, slips her arms impossibly tighter.

“Can we just stay here a moment longer?” It comes out a little like someone asking for five more minutes in bed. Underpinned with a tone of desperation. Lena chuckles but seems to accept the request. Kara doesn’t think her knuckles will ever get their colour back after this.

“One more minute but then you’re letting Alex check out every part of you because she’s quite clearly agitated that you’re not already under the yellow sun lamps as we speak.” Kara sighs but hums her agreement. She hates just sitting under the lamps. She’d much rather lounge on her fire escape and soak up the sunset, but it seems like a fair trade - she wouldn’t hate to be coddled a little bit right now. “You really had me worried, Kara. I thought you might just be the one problem I never found the solution to.”

“I never doubted you. I knew you’d find a way. Though I have a suspicion you managed it because you haven’t slept in days – you smell like coffee, smoke and sweat.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Lena says quickly, attempting to pull away to no avail.

“Hey, I’m not done. I’ve still got like thirty seconds remember.” Lena chuckles. “Besides, I never said I didn’t like it. You could never be anything less than perfect.”

The strength of Lena’s arms falters for a second before it tightens again. “Remember that next time you call me a demon for eating kale.”

“Even then you were perfect.”

“And you seem a little bit loopy. Come on, time’s up.” Lena lets go but Kara smiles softly at the reluctance with which she does. She decides to grip her hand instead as she lets herself be led towards Alex, refusing to register the questions swirling in her sister’s eyes at the hold and instead deciding to smile softly but forcibly oblivious.

She wonders if Alex had been blind like she had been blind. Kara had been the blindest of them all convincing herself every squeeze of her chest, every race of her pulse, every stutter of her breath meant nothing. Convincing herself that it was normal to want to be with someone all the time, that it was normal that you wanted to be consumed by their aura, so you’d never have to be apart. Convincing herself that Lena hadn’t been on her mind since the moment she saw her.

It felt so obvious in the Phantom Zone. It felt so obvious without her by her side, when she was surrounded by her worst fears and realised her greatest fear was not being surrounded by Lena.

But she wasn’t blind now.

And she was going to do something about it.

Nothing has changed when Kara returns. And yet nothing is the same. She can ignore it most of the time. If there was one skill Kara had cultivated perfectly in childhood it was pretending that everything wasn’t wildly screwed up and that she was coping fine with her surroundings.

Except Kara wasn’t coping very well with her surroundings.

She was, in fact, incredibly overwhelmed by them. All over again. Just like when she first crash landed here from the Phantom Zone and everything was a little too bright, a little too warm, a little too loud. Mostly loud.

Her powers come back and for a moment she’s ecstatic until she’s bombarded with everything she’d gotten so good at ignoring – all the sounds she’d perfected filtering out that now seemed to have made it their mission to get revenge for being ignored for so long.

She’s working quietly on an article in Lena’s company when the threat of the thunderstorm finally hits. It's only a thunder, she tells herself. She tries not to flinch every time it echoes, and she knows she’s failing when Lena’s focus drifts from the mess of wires and metal in front of her to Kara and her stuttering fingers by her side.

It’s only thunder. It’s only thunder. It’s only thunder.

Her hands don’t quite get the message. She feels the metal of the lab desk crumple beneath her hands without fight, moulding to the shape her fingers unconsciously dictate. The damage deepens at a secondary rumble until there’s a gentle touch to the back of her hand. And then a little less gentle as it slips between her hand and the desk.

Startled, Kara turns to look at Lena, to their joined hands and back to Lena. Not afraid to be hurt. Entirely trusting. Kara feels her shoulders drop slightly as her jaw unlocks.

She focuses on the subtle pulse she can feel in Lena’s thumb. Slips her fingers to her wrist where it’s stronger. Follows it all the way up her arm, gently trailing her fingers, figuring out how to press just hard enough to feel the rush of Lena’s blood but not so hard as to cause her harm. She continues until she reaches Lena’s chest and just presses against her heart.

It jumps and then steadies. Steadies into a beat Kara had memorised a long time ago. One she’d argued with herself over – calling it intrusive and strange and far beyond the remits of their relationship. But it made her feel safe and warm and there were no boundaries for friendships like theirs. That was still true, wasn’t it? (Was it ever?)

Lena lifts her hand to press Kara’s more firmly to her chest, mimicking the beat of her heart with her fingers. Kara dodges her searching eyes without conscious decision. “You don’t have to be ashamed, Kara. You don’t always have to be the unbreakable girl of steel. I’ve personally always been a fan of the patented Kara Danvers vulnerability.”

Kara flinches at a flash of light. “I should be stronger than this.”

“You’re stronger than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Kara scoffs. “All it took was being back there and I crumbled. One look at the Phantom Zone and it’s like I’ve started all over again.”

“There’s no all about that, Kara. There’s no all with having to relive the trauma that you experienced there, that you experienced for far longer than anyone should have had to, especially not someone so young.” Lena looks at her earnestly, a plea in her eyes for Kara to really take in the words she’s saying. “You’re not weak for struggling.”

Kara smiles softly. “When did you become emotionally competent?”

“I realised little boxes aren’t the best way to go about things,” she says cryptically, and Kara raises an inquisitive brow at the endeared tone she adopts.

“Little boxes?”

“It’s just something I told Brainy.”

“I like that you have inside references. I like that you realised you’re part of this family.” It’s all Kara wanted for the longest time. For Lena to realise she was more than just a spare part, more than Kara’s best friend who tagged along. That everyone around them respected and loved her just as much as Kara did. Well, maybe not as much as Kara did, but a decent amount. The right amount for a ragtag group of found family to love one another.

“Turns out the mutual fear of losing you was a great way to bring us all to our senses.”

“It was worth it then.” Seeing Lena this light would always be worth it. Getting to feel her heart skip a beat at that statement made it all worth it.

“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.” Lena looks down at the hand still on her chest. “I can programme it if you’d like. The beat of my heart, I can put it into your suit if you-“ she catches herself abruptly, blushing profusely. “Sorry, that’s probably really stu-“

“I’d like that. I’ve been having difficulty finding it. Usually, I could do it across the city without thought but siphoning sounds out is proving a little harder at the moment.”

Usually,” Lena whispers and Kara’s not quite sure if she’s supposed to have heard it, heard the reverence. She doesn’t react until Lena nods. “I’ll do it tonight.”

Kara smiles, deciding to let the honesty keep flowing. “I think I’m scaring, Alex.”

“Well, she’s your sister – worrying about you kind of comes with the territory. Though, she does tend to take it slightly beyond sisterly duties.”

“That sounds ominous.”

“She just had some jarring things to say the other day,” Lena winces, reliving the memory.

“If she said anything about you being evil again I’ll hit her.”

Lena chuckles, shaking her head at Kara’s immediate defensiveness. “Oh no it was a little different this time.” Kara opens her mouth to ask. “She said she had some words for you too so I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough.”

She groans petulantly. “But you could really graciously prepare me in advance.”

“I could,” Lena says and offers nothing more as Kara leaves a pause.

“You’re mean.”

Lena laughs lowly, lifting Kara’s hand from her chest and leaving a soft kiss to her palm before returning it to her own lap. Kara would miss the feeling if she wasn’t too busy having a minor freak out. “Leave the suit alterations with me and go get some rest.”

“You’re mean and the best.”

“I know.”

Kara instinctively presses a kiss to Lena’s cheek once she’s packed up her stuff. They both startle at the action but Lena smiles and Kara decides in that moment she’ll do it again as soon as she possibly can. For the tingle on her mouth and the way Lena watches her as she leaves.

She’d do something the second the world was slightly less askew.

She promised.

(She hoped).

She’s missing. She’s missing. Kara thought these days were behind them. She thought this panic in her chest was a thing of the past with Lex behind bars and Lillian seemingly not quite ‘good’ but not purposely enacting any extreme acts of evil.

She thought there was at least one thing she didn’t have to worry about as much anymore. Apparently not. Apparently losing Lena was something she could never stop worrying about.

She tears up the city searching for her.

Throws more punches than she should and has a little too few cares as to who watches her reckless behaviour. And when she finally crashes through the right door, eyes blazing, fists covered in blood that isn’t her own, she finds Lena… sipping a cup of coffee and listening calmly to an obviously crying mercenary sitting with a gun uselessly on the table in front of them.

Kara didn’t say this lightly but what the fuck?

“Supergirl, you made it. Finally.” Lena looks relieved but not in the ‘I’ve been fighting for my life’ way. More the ‘tired and drained and ready to not be dealing with emotions anymore’ way.

She looks healthy, from the brief look Kara can get of her. Not a hair on her head even remotely out of place and only a slight marking on her wrists where bindings must have been before she seemingly talked herself out of them. “Jeffrey and I were just discussing his childhood. He thinks handing himself in to the authorities might be the best course of action to get the help he needs.”

“Jeffrey?” Kara asks, confused and still too tense for the situation at hand.

He stands up obediently, automatically reaching for his gun before flinching and pulling his hand away, looking about a step away from doing something ridiculous like saluting. “Yes, ma’am.”

“The police are on their way if you just want to… wait,” she grits out, trying to stop her body from vibrating with a rage that suddenly had no place to go. He nods and sits back down. Kara edges closer to Lena, knowing they can’t talk candidly just yet but feeling the need to at least whisper, “Are you alright, Miss Luthor? Did he hurt you?”

“Perfectly fine.” Despite her words, Kara still gives her another look over now she’s closer. Lena subtly grasps her hand behind their backs, halting the way it twitches at her side. Kara tenses when she realises blood is rubbing off onto Lena’s hand, but Lena just runs her fingers soothingly over the skin, not taking notice or not caring as she keeps her focus on her captor and apparent new friend.

He’s taken away not long after, only following dutifully when Lena agrees to come and visit him to continue their conversation and play that game of chess she promised. Kara doesn’t find the same level of calm until they’re back in Lena’s apartment, sitting under the same blanket and sharing a pot of tea that Lena insisted would settle her nerves. Kara doesn’t know how this day ended with her needing to be cared for, but the universe was a strange place.

“Kara, I’m fine, you can stop bouncing your leg before you cause the whole building to crumble.” Lena punctuates her sentence with a sharp hand on Kara’s knees. She resists the urge to simply bounce Lena’s hand along with her leg.

She takes a sip of her tea (given it actually was helping quite a lot). “I can’t believe you were drinking coffee with him.”

“I can’t believe you dangled a man off a building.” Kara really wished they would stop playing that footage on repeat on the news. It wasn’t that dramatic – she had an excellent grip on his leg.

“I wasn’t actually going to drop him.”

“He sure as hell didn’t believe that.”

“Well, that’s on him for not telling me what I needed to know.” It wasn’t Kara’s first plan of action. She’d tried talking to him nicely, offering to kindly leave him be once she had the information she was looking for and not handing him in for his clearly illegal activities, but he refused. And Kara didn’t have time for refusals. “He was being deliberately annoying, and I didn’t know you had your captor painting your toenails.”

“We never actually got to that point; he didn’t have my preferred shade.”

“How are you joking about all this? He could’ve been really dangerous.” Kara had imagined something really dangerous. Like the usual level of Luthor assassin – the ones who poison her coffee or strap her up to bombs or hire Kryptonite enhanced fighters. Not this. Not Jeffrey.

“He was just a desperate man looking for someone to finally help him. He wouldn’t have done anything. You should’ve seen the way he held the gun at me – it looked like he’d never held one before, I almost wanted to correct the hold for him.”

“Why didn’t you just disarm him and alert me?”

“Oh, so now I’m allowed to reach towards danger?” Lena teases.

“You just said he wasn’t dangerous,” Kara huffs, crossing her arms when Lena clearly has to stifle her laughter at the show of annoyance.

“Not to me. Maybe to himself though. He obviously needed someone to talk to and he’d put a lot of effort into Supergirl proofing his apartment. I didn’t want him to feel like he’d wasted all that time.”

“Can you just tell me you’re safe next time?” Kara pleads. “I almost- I was out of my mind, Lena.” It was bad enough before. It was bad enough when Kara was over the phantoms of her past and didn’t lose Lena in every other dream she had at night. It was bad enough when she was good at knowing what was real and what was her brain taking several wrong turns to the worst possible destination. Now every little fear felt catastrophic.

Lena scoots closer. Her fingers sliding to the base of Kara’s neck to play with the baby hairs. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think. Sometimes I still forget that I have this family – that you gave me a family.”

“I didn’t give you anything. You made them love you all on your own.”

Lena shrugs. “I’m very useful.”

“You are a veritable swiss army knife of a person but it’s more than that, Lena. We don’t love you because you fix all our problems, we love you because you’re an amazing person. A little unpredictable at times but always wonderful.”

“I think I’m very predictable,” Lena argues. “I mean, I only have three main hobbies: work, getting kidnapped and spending time with you.”

“We should cut out the middle one so you can spend more time with me.”

“I’ll alert the kidnapping community,” Lena says with faux solemnity.

“I’d appreciate it.” Kara smiles, her eyes drooping from the calming motions of Lena’s cooling fingers against the heat still burning beneath her skin. It was strange how much power a simple touch could have over her. It was strange that Lena never commented on something so obvious but maybe no less strange that Kara hadn’t commented that she kept doing it. They were both a little useless.

“You want to stay over tonight?”

Kara eyes her suspiciously. “Did Alex text you to keep an eye on me?”

“Yes,” Lena admits easily. Kara can’t bring herself to be annoyed - she likes that they text. “But I would’ve asked anyway. Despite his lacklustre gun wielding, there was a second today where my life threatened to flash before my eyes and I could do with a cuddle.”

“I knew the moment I met you that you were a snuggler.”

“Only with you,” Lena says simply. A comment she usually would have made under breath but instead speaks boldly to Kara’s ears.

(A step in the right direction.

Kara’s grin lasts until she falls asleep).

Kara hasn’t told anyone what she saw. The things that haunted her. The things that followed her every footstep since she stepped back into the normal world. She knows that they have questions. She knows that they’re always on the tip of their tongues and yet they never ask, and she never tells, and it’s fine. It’s fine. Or it was fine.

Until Kara asked Lena to stay round after game night. Until Kara fell into a familiar nightmare. It starts and ends with Lena. Starts with a smile and ends with a blood curdling scream. Starts with warmth trickling through her veins and ends with an indescribable cold. It starts and ends the same way every time – no matter what Kara tries, no matter how much she struggles, no matter how much she prays.

It wasn’t always a nightmare.

It was lived, and lived, and lived and Kara can’t go back there. She can’t live that again.

She can’t, she can’t, she can’t-

She wakes up to Lena carding her fingers through her hair and gently whispering her name. All she can hear is the same voice screaming. She startles when her eyes flash with Lena covered in blood. There’s an apology preparing to jump from her tongue when Lena shifts back to give her space looking admonished because that’s the last thing she wants. The last thing she wants is her further, but she waves off Kara’s apology before she can even start.

“You should really talk to someone about it, Kara,” she says softly. “It doesn’t have to be me, doesn’t have to be right now. But someone.”

“It’s you.”

Lena’s eyes dim. “You’re afraid of me?”

“Rao, no. No. Not that,” Kara races out to fix, closing the distance between them to pull Lena against her chest. It’s easier this way, with Lena close but not quite able to look her in the eye. She knows she won’t find pity in her eyes, but she can’t take the worry either.

“It’s you,” she starts again. “Dying. Over and over and over again, and me always slightly too late to stop it but not so late that I don’t have to watch it happen. And I can’t stop thinking about it and I don’t want to make you feel like I’m hovering, but I feel like I’m hovering all the time. I just, I can’t seem to stay away from you for longer than a couple hours. I keep making excuses to come see you and I know they’re obvious, but I can’t stop these thoughts from racing through my head at all hours of the day. I flew past your apartment ten times last night and I feel like some psychotic ex-girlfriend stalking you.”

“Well, that’s ridiculous. If we dated, I’d never let you become an ex,” Lena jokes and it’s like a piece of light comes through Kara clouds. She chuckles wetly.

“Not even if I was broken like this?” She whispers.

Lena props her chin on Kara’s chest, mouth curling up lightly when Kara tilts her own done to meet her eyes. “You’re not broken, Kara. I actually think you’re remarkably sane considering everything you went through. I don’t know another person who could’ve handled it like you did – I know I certainly wouldn’t have lasted as long as you.”

“You’ve withstood more than you give yourself credit for.”

“So we’re both strangely well adjusted and accomplished despite our hardships then. Look at us go.”

“You’d make a good girlfriend.” Kara doesn’t know why she says it, other than it pops in her head and she doesn’t have the strength to stop it from entering the world. Kara doesn’t know why she says it, other than she’s feeling a little scared and reckless and it’s the closest her words can come to saying I think I’d like to make you my girlfriend.

A look flashes over Lena’s face before she schools it into a self-deprecating smirk. “I think past relationships would argue quite strongly against that statement.”

“Well, that’s on them for not treating you right.” Frankly Kara had never been a fan of James for Lena. He never seemed to truly appreciate her (the, like Kara did, sat silently but securely on the end of that one no matter how much she tried to pretend it didn’t).

“I think they might like to argue against that one too.”

“I’ll fight them,” Kara states, lifting the arm not resting on Lena’s hip to flex it.

Kara feels Lena’s swallow against her torso. “That feels like an incredibly unfair fight.”

“The right side will win then.”

“I never said it was unfair to them.”

“It was heavily implied. Take another look at me.” Kara points to herself and maybe she’s not making her best impression with pyjamas that say, ‘Super Snoozer’, but it still stands. Lena takes a languid look, her eyes taking the moment offered to them by Kara, lip caught between her teeth.

“Your physiology really is remarkable.”

Kara barks out a laugh. “What a compliment – you sound like you want to dissect me.”

“I would quite like to take you apart and put you back together.” There are two types of sentences. Sentences spoken by Lena and sentences not spoken by Lena. The former had the ability to make Kara’s entire body feel like it was vibrating, the former could make anything infinitely more attractive, the former was going to make Kara lose her mind someday. Maybe even today.

“You’re such a flirt.”

“It’s all for you,” Lena says sweetly.

“You told that woman at the farmer’s market just last week that you loved her.”

“Is that jealousy I hear?”

“Not at all.”

“Oh my god, it absolutely is!” Lena sits up, poking Kara in the side until she slaps her hand away. “I can’t believe you’ve been sitting on this all week. Is that why you were all huffy in the car?”

“I wasn’t huffy.” She was slightly huffy.

“You were but it’s okay because you were very cute.” Lena settles back down on her chest. “I also wasn’t flirting with her – I was just a little happier than I should’ve been that she put my favourite smoothie back on the menu.”

“Likely story.”

“Kara Danvers – jealous, who would’ve thought,” Lena mused.

“I preferred it when everyone at the farmer’s market thought I was your eye candy.” That was a much better time. Constantly being referred to as Lena’s girlfriend and harmonising their stutters as they tried to explain they were just friends.

“I believe the actual term used by the woman was ‘free range beef’.”

“I am pretty beefy.”

Lena chuckles at the clear pride in Kara’s tone. “Alright, beefcake. I think it’s time you close those pretty little eyes again before you say something else you’re going to cringe at tomorrow.”

“Okay.” Kara smiles. “Thank you for talking me down.”

“Anytime,” Lena promises.

Kara leans down to kiss Lena’s cheek, trying to keep her smile light instead of blinding when Lena settles in closer to her chest instead of moving away to her side of the bed. “Good night, Lena.”

“Sweet dreams, Kara.”

They are a lot sweeter after that.

Another example of the power of a Lena sentence.

Kara sits on it for a week before she finally has to ask someone. Kara sits on it for a week before her and Alex are waiting for take-out and arguing over which film they’re going to watch. Kara sits on it for a week until she feels like she can’t possibly sit on it anymore. “Alex, what does it mean when a girl tells you she’d never make you an ex if you dated?”

Alex’s fingers pause on the remote, her eyes closing as she pinches the bridge of her nose alongside a long, slow exhale. “Kara, I love you, but I am also going to punch you in the face.”

“Your hand would break,” Kara points out needlessly.

“I will turn on one of those portable red sun lamps that Lena just casually created for you and then I will punch you in the face.”

“Why did you say it like that? Casually.”

Alex turns to look at her like she’s grown two heads (the nicer way of putting that Alex looks at her like she’s the dumbest person she’s ever had the displeasure of meeting in her life). “Because Lena didn’t sleep for weeks designing that for you.”

“But she said-“

Alex cuts in. “She said it only took a couple of days, I know. She lied. She’s actually a very good liar – to you. To everyone else she’s rather obvious.”

“So you think it means something good then?” Kara presses.

Alex groans. “Breaking my hand would be worth it."

“Excuse me for wanting to doublecheck before I blow up my life.” She just needed someone to confirm her suspicions before she was standing in the eye of the storm about to ramble out something stupid to the single most beautiful woman she had ever met in her life.

The most beautiful woman who also happened to be her best friend – the best friend she’d fought to have by her side more than anyone else, the person she trusted with her life, the person she realised she couldn’t bear losing above all else in the world. It was a lot. It was stressful. She needed to be one hundred percent sure of her decisions.

“You’re so dramatic,” Alex teases.

“I’ve been secretly in love with her for years now, I think I have reason to be a little dramatic.”

She thinks she hears Alex scoff what sounds suspiciously like secretly in an overly mocking tone before she takes a deep breath. “Let me be clear then. Lena is in love with you. When you were… gone, she was beside herself. I’ve never seen someone so determined and distraught all at once. She didn’t sleep, she didn’t eat, she would’ve torn the world apart if it meant you’d stand at her side in the rubble. She’s in love with you. Now can you please just do something about it instead of asking me dumb questions. I feel like my brain is melting.”

“And by ‘do something’, you mean?”

Alex sighs in older sister. “Tell her you love her and then just freestyle from there.”

“You’re not very helpful.”

“If you wanted genuine advice and guidance you should’ve asked Kelly.”

“She doesn’t make enough bad decisions. I needed someone on my level.” Kara kindly dodges the punch Alex throws her way. She had better things to do than take Alex to the hospital and explain away how she got there.

But first she was going to eat her weight in Chinese food.

(Maybe Alex’s weight too).

It’s not a remarkable moment when Kara decides to tell Lena she loves her. It’s quiet. The way loving Lena was for a long time. She thinks that’s why it took her so long to notice.

Winn always told her to wait for a ‘wapow!’. He claimed she would know but Kara was always a little slow at picking up on non-verbal cues. So, she kept falling for the gimmick of obvious. It was obvious that she should love James Olsen – the first person outside of her family that knew Clark, knew Superman, and still saw her. It was obvious that she should love the man from a world destroyed just like hers. Obvious. Loud and overbearing and never quite right but obvious.

Loving Lena was quiet. Like a humming in the back of her head. It made her stutter when she first saw her. She couldn’t find the words over the sound of the buzzing – she called it fear, she called it caution, she called it admiration and anything other than what it was. Loving Lena was a silent warmth and a haunting cold when she was gone. Her absence a presence in Kara’s chest and her presence an absence of any thought – just pure feeling. But Kara wasn’t so used to quiet and so she misnamed every feeling she should’ve seen clearly for what they were.

Loving Lena made Kara feel quiet. Calm. At peace in a way she had never really been at peace before. Her touch brought silence. Sure, her pulse raced, and her heart thumped, and her stomach swirled in the way the movies always said it would but it all fell deaf on her ears. No sound just Lena’s hand on hers, gripping so tight her knuckles are losing colour, and Lena’s eyes unabashedly entertained by the film she pretended to not want to watch but is clearly terrified by, and Lena’s mouth pulling into a smile at the corner when she realises Kara has been looking for a beat too long.

Or several.

Probably more like several.

“You know I can’t remember the last time we watched a movie, and you actually watched the movie.” Kara blushes at being caught. She didn’t realise she had been so obvious about it but then again she also hadn’t exactly made much of an effort to hide it. She supposed she was betting on Lena ignoring it like she usually did. She’s glad she didn’t.

“You’re nicer to look at.” Lena immediately copies the blush despite starting the teasing. Kara wants more. “You’re cute when you blush – I always thought red was a good look on you.”

“You’re being awfully complimentary right now. You trying to get me into bed, Miss Danvers?” Lena aims for something a little more salacious. The same way she always did when she was trying to make someone feel awkward enough to throw them off the scent, but Kara wasn’t losing this one today – no matter how much Lena made her brain feel like it was going to melt.

“I didn’t realise I had to try for that,” Kara pushes back. “You fall asleep during the second movie every time.” It was often Kara’s favourite part of any day, when Lena’s solid breaths turned to gentle puffs that threatened on snores and her head drooped onto her shoulder. She liked how soft Lena was when she slept, how trusted it made her feel to be the one Lena was so open with.

“Maybe I just like the way that you carry me to bed and tuck me in.” Kara was pretty fond of that part too. The way Lena whined a little into her neck at being moved before snuggling into the heat of Kara’s chest. The look of her hair fanned out over Kara’s pillows. Literally everything about her.

“And the forehead kiss?” Kara questions.

Lena grins. “Oh, best part.”

“What if I kissed somewhere else next time?”

Lena cocks a brow, dropping her voice. “Very forward.”

Kara pauses for a second, then it hits. “No, I- I didn’t- Not that- I’m sure your… is very. I-“

“Relax, Supergirl, I know what you meant."

“You’re evil, Lena Luthor.”

“Trying to roleplay now, are we?” Lena wiggles her eyebrows and Kara wants to laugh, she really does, but she also kind of wants to turn into a giant ball of fire and re-crash into earth.

“Stop it!” She pleads. “Here I was building my way up to confessing my love to you but you’re making it very difficult for me.” Lena’s teasing stops dead in its tracks. Her face schooling immediately into something Kara thinks sits between confusion and disbelief.

“Building to…” She stops herself or, really, Kara knows she never intended to finish the sentence, that she just wanted to hear Kara say it again, confirm what she just heard. She would’ve done the same thing. They’ve always been more similar than they would sometimes care to admit.

Case in point, Kara immediately takes the opportunity she’s given to tease Lena as much as humanly possible, turning stubbornly away from her and crossing her arms. “Confessing my undying love for you but I guess you don’t want to hear it.”

“Well now that you’ve added it’s undying,” Lena says, tugging Kara’s arms until they untie, and she can hold Kara’s hand in hers – soft but calloused through years of experimentation. Kara wants to tease a little more but it’s kind of hard to think about that when Lena’s playing with her fingers and looking at her like she might just hold the answers to every question in the galaxy.

So instead, she just starts talking.

“I’m in love with you. I’m really in love with you and I’d made my peace with just being your best friend but then I went through hell for the second time in my life and all I could think about was you, and being with you and being without you, and you keep flirting with me and it makes me feel fuzzy, and warm, and like this isn’t as one sided as I’ve been trying to convince myself it is and-“

Lena kisses her. Gently takes her face in her hands and just kisses her. A soft press and parting of her lips with which she creates a rhythm of kisses that Kara follows despite feeling like her brain is tripping over its feet. She’s not sure she’ll ever be able to do anything the same again after kissing Lena. After tasting the soft velvet of her tongue and feeling the brush of her nose against her skin and having every other sense consumed by everything that Lena is.

Kara follows Lena’s mouth dutifully for one last kiss as she pulls away to rest their heads together.

“I’m sorry, that was rude of me to interrupt,” Lena says, voice coated in sandpaper.

“I’ll forgive you.”

“Very kind of you.”

Kara tilts her head nonchalantly. “I’m a very kind person.”

“I know. It’s one of the things that makes me love you.” Lena says it so casually that Kara can’t help the face splitting grin that bursts across her cheeks. She’s not actually sure she’ll ever stop smiling.

“You love me, that’s embarrassing.”

Lena pulls back to push her shoulder. “Alright, America’s Girl Scout. I think you just said about me making you feel fuzzy. That’s pretty embarrassing.”

“What’s really embarrassing is you telling me you’re a fan of me.”

“I said I was a fan of your vulnerability,” Lena corrects. “But that’s nowhere near as bad as you getting all wistful and saying you’d make a good girlfriend.” Kara sticks by that statement but she didn’t sound like that. Did she? She didn’t really sound like that, did she?

“It’s beginning to make more sense why Alex told me she was going to punch me in the face for asking if you liked me back.” It honestly sounded a little ridiculous when they said these things out loud and then proceeded to ask if Lena wasn’t obviously head over heels in love with her too.

“You asked Alex about me?”

“Don’t pretend like you and Brainy didn’t have the world’s most stilted conversation about me.”

“I won’t.” Lena grins. “It was very awkward, but he was actually quite helpful.” Kara would pay good money to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.

“I like your budding bromance.”

“I’d like to focus on this romance,” Lena says, her fingers trailing along Kara’s jaw.

“I have an idea about that.”

“Do tell?”

Kara kisses her again. Again like she’s never going to stop doing it for a single second in her life. Again like she’s mapping out every inch of Lena’s mouth to relive later in case she can’t. Again like she’s already addicted after one taste.

She pulls slightly back. Lena tugs her head back in, breath hot against her lips as she begs, “No, keep going, I have more to say.”

Kara laughs but falls back into her mouth.

She had a lot to say too.

And hopefully the rest of her life to say it.

Hands gripping sheets.

Cracking the headboard.

White knuckles.

“Jesus, Kara.”

“I’ve been building up to that one for five years.”