Actions

Work Header

The Three Pillars of Human Inebriation

Work Text:

No matter how often Kara feels normal, there’s always something on the horizon that reminds her she isn’t of this world. It had bothered her more often as a teenager when all she’d wanted was to fit in with Alex’s friends and have the chance at a normal teenage life. Even when the boys were never that cute and the thrill of sitting in the back of pick-up going 80 down a country road would have been lost on her, she still wanted a chance at that.

Even now, long after she’d arrived on this planet, she’s still cognizant of the tilt of Earth’s axis and the pull she feels toward a home that doesn’t exist anymore.

 

It’s on a Saturday night, five whole days since National City last needed Supergirl, that she’s reminded of who she is and the odd challenges that come with being Kara Danvers.

Half of the Catco employees that work on her floor are ambling around the office well past working hours, carrying plastic champagne flutes and martini glasses. Kara is partially listening in on one of Winn’s harrowing dating stories (of which she’s not fully convinced is true) as James adjusts the Santa hat sitting askew on his head, when she hears the distinct clink of a very not-plastic glass against the desk in Cat’s office.

She’s glancing over her shoulder toward the source of the noise before she can think better of it. Cat meets her gaze immediately, before tilting her head up in a silent request for her presence.

“Not enjoying the festivities?” Cat asks, the moment Kara opens the door to her office.

She’s balancing said drink in her hand, delicate fingers wrapped firmly around the bowl-shaped glass.

Kara nudges her glasses higher up her nose and attempts a sheepish smile.

“No, I am Ms. Grant.”

Cat has a way of rolling her eyes without actually exuding the effort to do so. Kara feels the silent gesture deep within her being and fights the urge to swallow.

“Well don’t hold back on my account.” She glances down at her drink, nearly empty, then back up at Kara. “Would you… like something to drink?’

Kara doesn’t quite register the question until Cat is already opening the bottom drawer of her desk.

“No, no. I’m good. I’m sort of a lightweight and I really don’t want to worry about finding a—a cab to get home tonight.”

Cat shoots her an inscrutable look, before she’s closing the drawer and squaring her shoulder back once more.

It’s not the first time Kara has had to avoid alcohol—the human imbibing variety. She’s pretty sure most of her coworkers at her first job thought she was a recovering alcoholic after she’d admitted that she didn’t drink for personal reasons. It’s easier now to just avoid the question or give some half-assed excuse that garners less attention.

 

Over the next ten months, the lightweight excuse holds up pretty well. She’s saved from judgmental looks at a coworker’s bridal shower, happy hour with some of James and Lucy’s friends from Metropolis, and a gala hosted by her new friend, Lena.

She’s almost ready to call it a win, when something she’d never anticipated happens.

It’s on a Friday this time. A Friday well deserving of its let loose stereotype. Alex has been, for a lack of better words, up Kara’s ass. It’s not that it’s Maggie’s fault, but honestly it one hundred percent is. If she’d just reciprocated Alex’s confession then Kara wouldn’t have had to deal with her sister being so… sisterly, all week.

It’s probably why Kara accepted Maggie’s invitation to come to her coworker’s get together. If not for a way to distress, then at least to distract Alex and direct some of her overbearing energy onto someone that’s not Kara.

What initially started as just Maggie, Kara, Alex, and some of Maggie’s coworkers from the precinct, has quickly turned into a potential noise complaint if it weren’t for the fairly secluded location of Maggie’s captain’s house. An hour in though, and Kara is decidedly not having a good time.

Winn is somewhere out back discussing video game competitions with some detectives; James is sitting with Lucy on the couch like they’re joined at the hip; and even though coercing Alex to come out with her had initially stemmed from her clinginess, Kara is definitely moping now that Alex hasn’t left Maggie’s side in half an hour.

It’s not that she’s lonely or anything. It’s just that everyone else has someone but her—Winn and his eSports pals included.

It’s while sipping her fourth glass of fruit punch (she needs sugar to contain her pity party) that she finds Lena Luthor walking over to her from the adjoining room. Kara knows how this looks—sitting alone in the kitchen with just her and her red stained lips—but she sees no immediate recourse, so she resigns to just lean back in her chair and smile at Lena.

The expression she receives in return is just as bright for a second, until it’s quickly covered in pity and concern. At first Kara thinks it’s because she’s alone, but the way Lena’s eyes dart down to the cup in her hand, has Kara second-guessing herself. As she raises the cup back to her lips, two things happen: the first being Lena taking a quick seat across from her and the second being Kara finally picking up on the somewhat familiar, yet heavily masked scent of alcohol in the fruit punch.

She knows Lena hasn’t been at the party very long. Kara hadn’t even known her last minute invitation would reach Lena in time, never mind convince her to show up. However, if her red fruit punch mustache is anything to go off of, it’s quite obvious to anyone that this certainly is not Kara’s first cup. Based on the height of Lena’s brows as Kara lowers the cup to the table, she should be very well on her way to drunk (if that were a possibility).

“Kara.” Lena’s voice is low and comforting as it reaches her. It’s the way Kara might address a lost dog or a child who can’t find their parents.

Kara knows she really only has one option unless Alex gets real cool about Lena finding out she’s Supergirl, right now. She needs to be drunk… or at least pretend to be drunk.  

When she looks up from the table to meet Lena’s eyes, she purposefully squints at the light and glazes over Lena’s face, before refocusing and letting out a stilted sigh.

“Hey, Lena,” she drawls in an airy tone.

Even though it’s empty, Lena still pulls the cup from Kara’s fingers. She lets it go without protest.

“How much have you had to drink?” Lena asks, giving her that sad puppy dog look again.

Kara begins to count on her fingers, holding up only three when she gets to four.

“I’m not sure,” she says after a pause.

Lena nods, before setting the empty cup on her side of the table and resting a cool hand over Kara’s.

She definitely hasn’t been here long, if the temperature of her hands is anything to go by. A seed of guilt takes root in Kara’s chest for taking up Lena’s attention the moment she arrives.

A second hand over top of her own jars Kara from her rumination as she looks back up to see Lena leaning farther over the table, prodding Kara to answer a question she’s missed. She supposes her drunken state is a pretty good excuse, because drunk people get distracted, right?

“Sorry, what?”

Lena stands from the table but doesn’t let go of Kara’s hand.

“I asked if you’ve had any water since you got here?“

Lena’s standing in front of her now, leaning over slightly to meet Kara’s gaze. The soft pads of her thumbs rub circles over the back of Kara’s hand, lulling her into a sense of calm.

“No, I wasn’t thirsty,” she replies.

Lena eyes her wearily and Kara can’t help the rapid way her pulse picks up, because is that a strange answer for a drunk person? Do drunk people get parched easily?

Kara’s seen plenty of films and TV with drunken characters and has witnessed her friends drunk on more than one occasion. But it’s hard to land on a single trait or behavior when everyone she’s known acts a little bit differently.

“You need to drink some water then,” Lena replies.

As she moves past Kara towards the cooler setup on the counter, her hands slip away, causing Kara to follow the loss of warmth until she’s practically out of her own seat.

“Stay here, okay? I’m not going far.” Lena chuckles a bit to herself, before turning away.

Kara mouths a silent, “Kay,” before she’s sinking back against the wall behind her.

When Lena returns a moment later, she has two water bottles in hand. They’re dripping from the melted ice they’ve been submerged in, leaving a small puddle on the table when Lena sets one down in front of Kara.

“Thanks,” Kara says, as Lena sits back down across from her.

She’s about to unscrew the lid when a memory of Alex at her apartment 3 months ago makes her take pause. They’d be celebrating the dismantling of a crime group that night and Alex had taken enough shots of whiskey for the both of them. She’d suddenly sprang up front the couch, craving orange juice, but after she’d gone to the fridge to pour herself a glass, Alex had returned to the couch empty handed.

“Where’s your orange juice?’ Kara had asked, confused.

“The lid,” Alex had mumbled, sleepily. “It won.”

The sight had been so endearing at the time. Now, however, it’s research.

Kara bats her eyelashes slowly, mimicking the way Alex had stared at her back in Kara’s living room, and pushes the water across the table.

“Kara, you need water,” Lena rebuts.

“No, no,” Kara says, doing her best to slur her words, “I need you to open it.”

Lena blinks once. Then twice, before she’s taking the bottle in her hands and unscrewing the cap with ease.

“There you go,” she says, handing it back with a small smirk on her face. “Do you need anything else, princess?”

“Are you offering?” Kara replies without a hint of hesitation.

She raises the bottle to her lips and takes a long sip. Somewhere in her memories are images of her friends becoming very flirtatious with a few drinks behind them. The recollection of these memories comes after her statement, not before, but Kara refuses to stew on that observance.

“What?” Lena flounders, nearly choking on the water from her own bottle.

“I asked if you were offering me anything else?’ Kara answers, leaning over the table with her elbows braced against the wood.

Lena takes a long pause, processing Kara’s words, before she clears her throat. The expanse of skin peeking above the neckline of her dress has pinked, but it’s hardly noticeable to anyone but Kara under the dim fluorescent lighting.

Kara thinks she might try and say something else, when a few of the detectives from Maggie’s precinct filter into the kitchen from the living room.

“I thought he died,one of them whispers to another, under his breath.  

Lena has reverted her attention to the water in front of her and is picking at the sopping wet label barely hanging on around the plastic.

“Just about died after Supergirl was done with him,” the other replies.

The response is not as quiet as the first and Kara thinks Lena has heard this time, because her eyes flash up for a moment, before the muscles in her neck strain almost imperceptibly.

“I think—” Kare begins, waiting for Lena to look up at her. “That I need some air.”

 She’s only had a few sips of her water, however Lena doesn’t seem to notice as she gets to her feet immediately.

“Do you need—” she cuts herself off as one of the detectives makes a show of her sudden movement and steps around her awkwardly.

“Yes,” Kara says, before Lena can finish her question. “I’d love some company.”

Looking back, Kara fully believes this is the moment when she’d been snubbed for an Oscar. With all the grace of an overly tired toddler, Kara grips the side of the table and pushes herself to her feet. She makes a show of swaying back and forth, before a soft but firm presence braces her side. In an instant, one of Lena’s hands find the dip of Kara’s waist while the other slides over her wrist. It’s a trial and error process as Kara determines how much of her weight she intends to lean against Lena, but after a moment, she finds the sweet spot and smiles dopily into Lena’s neck.

“Thanks,” Kara whispers, watching the loose strands of Lena’s hair ghost over her ear as Kara exhales.

Kara’s not really sure why she’d needed to offer her gratitude that way, but isn’t disappointed when Lena’s cheeks flush.

Together, they move slowly back down the hall towards the front of the house and then out onto the front lawn. There’s no sidewalks here, so they stand near the road, next to one of the party goer’s cars.

“You didn’t drive here did you?” Lena asks.

She’s still so close with one arm wrapped around Kara.  

“No, Alex drove,” she replies.

Lena’s still in her work heels. They stand out next Kara’s white sneakers on the rough asphalt.

“Let me call my driver then. He can take you home or… Or wherever you need to go,” she supplies, removing her hand from Kara’s side to pull her phone from her purse.

“Lena,” Kara moans. She really hadn’t planned on her name coming out like that, but it does bear striking resemblance to the way Winn calls her own name when he’s particularly plastered.

“I’m fine,” she adds, when Lena hasn’t put her phone away yet.

Kara makes a show of batting the device away, but Lena easily keeps it out of drunk-Kara’s reach.

“Nonsense,” she says, rubbing circles against Kara’s hand again. It really is a nice feeling.

“I’ve messaged my driver who should be here in ten minutes and then we can get you home,” Lena explains, pocketing her phone.

“We?” Kara asks.

She hopes the question isn’t too perceptive for a supposedly intoxicated person.

Lena opens her mouth, about to say something, when her other hand resumes its spot on Kara’s waist.

“Where are we going?” Kara slurs, as Lena walks them back toward the house.

Lena looks over at Kara, letting out a quiet gasp at their proximity, before looking back ahead.

“I’m going to let your sister know I’m taking you home.”

“Oh,” Kara hums. “You are, are you?”

She actually winks at Lena, before leaning farther into her side. Kara’s never pretended to be drunk before, but she supposes now that it’s quite fun.

Inside, Alex is sitting on the couch next to James, while Maggie hovers nearby, recounting a work story. The moment she sees Kara being led in beside Lena, she pauses and a look of concern overtakes her features.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Lena says as her eyes roam from Maggie, then down to Alex, “but I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be taking this one home.”

Kara waves at the group, before blinking slowly, almost as if she’s planning on sleeping upright in the middle of the living room.

“She’s had a little too much of that fruit punch and I’m afraid she’s fading fast.”

For her part, Alex hides her confusion well, nodding along to Lena’s words.

“Thanks for letting me know,” she says to Lena. “Let me know if she’s too much of a hassle.”

Kara’s given a few last pitying looks, before Lena’s turning them around, back towards the front door. It’s only when Kara looks over her shoulder, that she notices the slight brow raise from Alex.

Despite having successfully acted drunk so far, Kara is still evaluating the rules around drunk humans as her and Lena wait in front of the house for her driver.

After what feels like an eternity of silence, Lena squeezes Kara’s waist to get her attention.

“Hmm?” Kara draws her attention from the road and meets Lena’s eyes. Pockets of light from the street lamps around them reflect off her pupils.

“I’m not judging you at all, Kara,” she prefaces. “But, it’s very unlike you to drink like this. Is something going on?”

It’s a sweet gesture, however it’s the very unlike you part that has something clicking inside of Kara.

That’s it! Kara realizes. Being drunk isn’t like being sad or upset or happy. It’s not a separate emotion. It’s like Earth’s Sun on her skin, in a way, altering but not creating anew. Drunk people act the way they do, because alcohol heightens their emotions and lowers their inhibitions. It’s so obvious. Kara shakes her head, almost embarrassed at taking so long to figure it out.

Lena is still watching her closely as she works through this conclusion in her head. And, oh, right. She still hasn’t responded.

Kara hums against Lena’s shoulder, if only to let her know she hasn’t been ignored. She recalls how she’d felt earlier: crestfallen and a tad lonely. But then she’d seen Lena and all of that had melted away. Maybe all she needs to do is lean into those feelings and she’ll be in the clear. Another alien mishap avoided.

“Well,” Kara says, drawing her head back from Lena’s arm, “I was feeling kind of lousy earlier, but now that you’re here, I feel so much better.”

Perfect. Kara leans into Lena’s touch again and can’t help it when her nose inhales deeply as it slides past her ponytail. It’s not even the reminder that she’s acting drunk that has her letting out a content sigh and sinking further into her friend’s open embrace.

Lena’s car pulls up then and they’re both silent as they file into the back seat—Kara first so Lena can make sure she doesn’t bang her head on the roof as she ducks down.

Kara can’t remember if she’s ever been in the back seat of Lena’s car. It’s not super showy or overly opulent. The seats are a soft black leather and there’s a divider between them and the front seats, but beyond that, it’s just a regular car.

After helping Kara with her seat belt, the car shifts into gear and they start moving. Lena rattles off Kara’s address to her driver, before the privacy divider goes up, and they’re truly alone for the first time.

It takes all of two minutes, before Lena is clearing her throat and angling her body towards Kara.

“I’m sorry you were feeling lousy earlier,” she says, eyes not meeting Kara’s.

Kara runs the statement over in her head, before she’s recalling her three pillars of human inebriation: exaggerated movements, heightened emotions, and lowered inhibitions. She forms a sober-Kara response first in her mind, then transforms it to drunk-Kara as it leaves her lips.

“Tis’ not your fault, Lena,” she replies, adding a light slur in there for added effect. “Sometimes I just don’t feel like happy Kara.”

Kara knows she hasn’t monitored her behaviour quite so meticulously in a while. Not since her first year on Earth, maybe.

“Kara.” The name slips from Lena’s lips so raw, it’s a shock that her face remains so impassive. “Don’t think for one second that you need to be happy Kara all the time. Heck, I don’t really care what kind of Kara you need to be. Just don’t feel like you need to be someone else around me.”

Lena shifts closer to Kara in her seat, so close even, that Lena must have taken off her seatbelt at some point. Kara wants to tell her that’s dangerous and that she could get hurt, but before she can figure out the drunk way of saying that, Lena’s hand is on her thigh, just above the knee, and her side is pressed into Kara’s.

A voice that sounds strangely like Alex—the one that has Kara always regulating her affections—is practically screaming at Kara right now, but she ignores its warnings. The voice was helpful when Kara was a teenager and needed guidance, finding her way through the intricate minefield of appropriate human interactions. But right now, it’s just a nuisance.

Kara almost forgets she’s just acting drunk as she snuggles closer into Lena and rests her cheeks against Lena’s shoulder. She almost forgets the goal was to protect her secret identity as she plays with that loose strand of hair that’s come free from Lena’s high ponytail. She just settles in, snug against the woman besides her, as the town car makes its way closer to National City.

“I promise I’ll never be anything but myself,” Kara whispers above the sound of the engine and strong gust of wind as a large semi-trailer passes by.

“Good,” Lena breathes, “because I rather like this version.”

“I like your version too. The genuine version of yourself, I mean.”

Kara’s pretty sure she doesn’t need the pretence of acting drunk to stumble over her words. She does a very good job of that under most circumstances.

“I just mean…” Kat sputters out. “That I like the Lena version you let me see when we’re alone.”

Lena doesn’t respond to the statement at first and Kara twists in her seat, afraid she’s misstepped. When she meets Lena’s gaze though, it’s not frustration or anger behind her eyes.

“Lena,” Kara breaths out, suddenly aware that if she averts her own eyes down from Lena’s, all she’s going to find is her lips, just a nose away.  

They’re a few blocks from Kara’s apartment—she recognizes the fast food restaurant on the corner where she orders inordinate amounts of food late at night. Lena’s face is still so close to hers and that voice that sounds like Alex is so quiet, it might as well not even be there at all.

Lena’s other hand has slipped around Kara’s hips and she grasps onto one of her belt loops with her fingers. Kara’s breath is ghosting over Lena’s mouth and oh my, they’re going to kiss. Kara is going to kiss Lena or Lena is going to kiss her. Or maybe they’re both going to clear the minute distance between them at the same time. But golly, if one thing is for sure, it’s going to happen.

It’s imminent and Kara’s quickly beginning to realize that not only would she be okay if it were to happen, she would be absolutely giddy.

But as sure as Kara is that their lips are going to make contact like some divine order by the universe, Lena pulls back and gives Kara a sad look, far worse than anything she thought she could fathom. Worse than losing a hundred worlds at her hands (well maybe she’s being dramatic now), but it sure claws at her heart when the air between them cools.

Lena can obviously read the look of disappointment on Kara’s face, because she drops the pitying expression with a reverent shake of her head.

“Kara,” she starts. Her voice is soft and soothing like the circles she rubs into Kara’s hands. “Despite how tempting it is to do that right now, I can’t. You’re clearly inebriated and I can’t take advantage of you, regardless of any rebuttal you have for me right now.”

Take advantage? Kara wonders for a moment, before it hits her again that, oh. Right. I’m ‘drunk’. She wants to deny it, but she can’t. Lena knows her too well to even give her a jumping off point to breach the conversation of just how much she wouldn’t be taking advantage of Kara.

The aftertaste of the spiked fruit punch is barely even detectable on her tongue now, but Kara knows that humans don’t recover from inebriation that quickly. Stupid humans and their vulnerabilities. Kara huffs and leans back into the seat, resigned.

Lena doesn’t let her draw fully away though, and shifts her hand, which had been sitting comfortably on Kara’s leg, to the small gap between them. There, it finds Kara’s hand, and she laces their fingers together. Kara might not be drunk, but her emotions are definitely heightened right now.

 

When they arrive at Kara’s apartment, Kara lets Lena walk her up the stairs to her floor and make sure she has everything she needs to get ready for bed. Lena even reminds her to brush her teeth (“you’ll thank me in the morning”), once her make up has been wiped off.  

While Lena busies herself with something in the kitchen, Kara changes into a pair of lounge pants and an old shirt, before climbing into bed. It’s still relatively early for a Friday night, but Kara acquiesces Lena and settles down without debate.

She’s about to turn her side lamp off when she hears a glass of water thud against her side table, next to her glasses, and the jingling of a pill bottle emerge from Lena’s purse.

“For the morning,” Lena says, in a hushed voice.

The way she’s doting over a very not ill Kara is like sun and water to that seed of guilt growing in Kara’s chest. Its presence alone actually makes her a little nauseas, because she’s not drunk. She won’t be getting a bad hangover headache in the morning, because she’s not human. She’s an alien. She’s Supergirl and she almost kissed her best friend who’s been in the dark about this part of Kara’s life for months.

Kara can’t bear to face Lena any longer, so she closes her eyes as Lena rounds the side of her bed and places a chaste kiss to Kara’s temple.

“Sleep well, Kara,” she says, as her voice grows distant. “I know where your spare key is, so don’t worry about locking up.”

With that, Lena retreats into the hall and closes the door behind her.

 

Kara tries to sleep, she does. It may have only been 9:40 when they arrived at Kara’s apartment, but she feels drained from the day already. Her mind, however, is adamant in staying up. She’s been acting drunk for the last 40 minutes and is just now unpacking everything that’s happened.

It’s a battle between excitement from almost kissing Lena to rotting guilt that she hasn’t actually been her true self around her best friend. Ever.

 

Around 1:40 AM, Kara’s phone buzzes from beside her on the bed and she glances down at the screen. It’s a message from Lena.

Hesitantly, Kara opens her phone up and reads the full message.

Lena 1:42 AM: I hope you’re feeling better this morning.

Lena 1:43 AM: Let me know if you’re still up to grab coffee this afternoon. xx

The messages are obviously intended for a Kara many hours from now. Kara’s lowering the phone to her bed, wondering why Lena’s still up, when her mind catches up with the two little x’s at the end of her message.

Before she has time to overthink this, she’s snatching the phone off the bed again and swiping the screen to unlock it.

Kara 1:45 AM: I’m still up actually

Kara 1:45 AM: And definitely still up for coffee

Kara doesn’t even have time to lock her phone and place it back down on her lap, when a new message pops up from Lena.

Lena 1:46: Kara! What are you still doing up? Are you okay? Do you feel ill?

Kara 1:47 AM: Don’t worry, I’m not ill.

Lena 1:48 AM: Then why are you still up Kara Danvers? You should be sleeping or trying to sleep. Not texting me.

Lena 1:49 AM: If you don’t get some sleep now, you’ll be exhausted in the morning and in no shape to grab coffee later.

With a steadying breath, Kara types back.

Kara 1:51 AM: I promise I won’t be exhausted

Kara sees the three little dots flashing across her screen and adds another message before Lena can reply.

Kara 1:52 AM: In fact, I know I’ll be fine if I don’t get any sleep at all

Kara bites at her nails the moment her message is sent. She waites for a response from Lena, but those three little dots are elusive. Kara sets her phone back down and stares at it until finally it buzzes. But it’s not the short text message buzz. It’s a sustained pattern of vibrations. It’s Lena’s contact picture  flashing across Kara’s screen instead. Lena’s calling her.

Unable to let the call go to voicemail, Kara picks it up hesitantly.

“Hello,” she says, as if she doesn’t already know who’s on the other side of the line.

Lena is quiet for a second. Kara can hear the sound of a TV program playing in the background. She must be in her living room, watching late night shows to pass the time.

“What did you mean when you said you’d be fine if you didn’t get any sleep at all?”

She’s skipped past any notion of a greeting or even Kara’s name. Straight to the point. It’s both a relief and a stress for Kara.

“I meant exactly that,” Kara replies, moving the phone to her right ear so she can lie down on her side. “I don’t need as much sleep.”

“As much sleep as…”

Kara gulps. If she’d known this was how her day was going to end (or technically how this Saturday was going to start), she might have prepared a more eloquent speech.

“As much sleep as people like you, Lena. People like—”

“Like humans,” Lena answers for her.

Kara nods into the phone, before she stutters out an answer.

“Yes. That.”

The line is silent again. Kara can no longer hear anything pronounced in the background. For a second, she thinks maybe something’s happened, because Lena’s breathing is so distant, but then—

“I understand why you didn’t tell me before,” Lena says. Her voice is cold and hardened.

Kara grips the phone tighter in her grasp as she sits up in bed, cradling her head in her other hand.

“No! Lena. That’s not it at all.” The assumption that it’s because of the Luthor name or her family’s history of xenophobic tendencies goes unsaid. “At first, I didn’t say anything, because it’s not a secret I like throwing around willy-nilly.”

Kara thinks, perhaps, that there’s a slight vibration in Lena’s breathing, like she’s trying to hold in a chuckle. Any chance at levity falls away quickly at Lena’s next words though.

“So that’s why…” she prompts.

 “That and telling more people… It could have, still could, be detrimental to the people I love. It could get them hurt.”

For both of their sakes, Lena brushes past the people I love, and cuts right to the chase.

“What about now though, Kara”

“Well…” This is the part that always breaks apart in Kara’s hands. Every time she decides she needs to tell Lena, the pieces never seem to fit together well enough to stay connected. “Well after I met you, we started to become friends. Really great friends and I rather enjoyed being someone to you. Someone you chose to be around, not because of who I am, but how you saw me. I was–am someone to you, Lena.

“It was never about not trusting you with that part of me; it had everything to do with losing a new piece that you and you alone were able to stoke and bring to life.”

Kara feels winded the second her words run out and she drops the phone to the bed. She doesn’t need to be close to hear Lena clearly.

“Lena?” she tries. She sounds out of breath.

“Yeah, Kara. I just. I need a second, okay? Just, don’t hang up.”

Kara agrees she won’t, but it’s hard to stay calm when all she can hear is the hum of Lena’s fan and her uneven breathing over the line.

“So tonight…” Lena starts. “You weren’t—”

“Drunk?” Kara answers for her. “No.”

It feels like a worse confession than it is. How novel to feel guilty about not being inebriated.

“And all those other times before when you’d said you were a lightweight…”

“Just an excuse to not drink alcohol.”

“I see,” Lena hums.

There’s a pause and then Lena is laughing lightly into the phone.

“You didn’t know there was alcohol in the fruit punch tonight, did you?”

Kara subconsciously raises her hand to where her glasses usually are, before letting her it fall back to the bedspread.

“No, I didn’t,” she admits.

“Does alcohol do anything to you?” Lena wonders aloud.

Kara huffs out a shallow laugh. “Besides needing to take more trips to the Ladies’ room, no.”

“So, the stumbling in the kitchen, the dazed look on your face, it was all an act?”

Kara doesn’t get a chance to confirm, with Lena’s thoughts already connecting the dots. She’s really putting those degrees of hers to use, reading Kara like an open book.

“You weren’t too uncoordinated to stand on your own—too sleepy to focus on our conversation outside. You’d been under no influence at all when you opened up to me in the car.”

Kara wants to add in that maybe Lena’s hand on her knee had been quite a powerful influence on its own, but Lena’s not quite finished yet.

“You weren’t really drunk when…”

It goes without saying where her words are going; what her words are leading up to. It goes without saying that Kara had been very, very sober the moment they’d entered each other’s spaces. The moment they’d almost kissed.

After a beat, Lena speaks up again and her voice is strong and insistent over the line.

“Kara, please tell me that your alien abilities extend past less hours of required sleep and an endless tolerance to alcohol.”

“Like what?” Kara can’t help teasing.

There’s shuffling over the line, before the distinct sound of footfalls against hardwood floors and the click of a locking mechanism reaches Kara’s ears.  Then the phone is back to Lena’s ear and Kara can tell because her breathing is that much more clear.

“Well, taking into account the new information I have learned tonight and my inability and unwillingness to be patient, I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to wait until this afternoon to see you.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. But seeing as how it’s past two o’clock in the morning,” Lena continues, “I think I’d only feel comfortable with you coming over if I knew for a fact that not only would you be in no danger from traveling alone at night, but also that I wouldn’t have to worry about you finding a cab.”

Kara bites the the inside of her lip, holding back a wide smile.

“In that case then, please believe me when I say you definitely have nothing to worry about.”

“That’s really great to hear.”

Kara can almost see the grin on Lena’s face. She could if she wanted to. She should, but not from here.

“I’ve left the door to the balcony unlocked. Fell free to make yourself comfortable. I should only be a minute in the kitchen.”

 

It takes Kara three minutes from the time the call ends to the moment she touches down on Lena’s balcony. She would’ve been faster if she hadn’t stopped to run a brush through her hair before flying over.

She finds Lena in the hall with two glasses of water in hand, making her way over to Kara in the next room. She casually hands her the fuller one as if Kara landing on her balcony in her civilian clothes in the middle of the night is an everyday occurrence.

“So those acting skills earlier tonight… Should I ask if that was a repeat performance from college?”

Kara looks cheeky, maybe even a little coy, as she takes a sip of water, then sets the glass down on the coffee table in Lena’s living room. Lena follows behind her and downs half of her own glass, before setting it down as well.

When their gazes meet, neither one of them can hide the smiles they’ve been holding back.

Kara shakes her head in response to Lena’s question and then she’s leaning in, pulled towards her by Lena’s warmth.

“Honestly, I was never much of an actor,” Kara admits, before her eyes close.

She smells her own breath against Lena’s face, still minty fresh from earlier (Lena had been right about thanking her for brushing her teeth before bed). Then Lena’s lips are parting and Kara’s senses are flooded with the nutty scent of Lena’s face cream and the familiar, floral smell of her shampoo.

This kiss is imminent. Kara knows it, even before Lena’s hands have found her waist and Kara’s fingers have slid through damp locks, cupping the back of Lena’s head.

It’s debatable whether they meet in the middle or if Kara’s impatience pushes her closer just a little bit faster. They’ve set up for this kiss before, all loose fingers tangling into belt loops and soft caresses against soft skin. But somehow, there’s so much more than Earth’s predominately Nitrogen and Oxygen based atmosphere mixed in with the Carbon Dioxide spilling from their lips.

 Kara thinks for a moment—a very brief moment, because she’s currently indisposed and in no state to hypothesize—that it’s not some divine order by the universe. It’s just Kara, finally finding her centre, finally gravitating to a new light.