Lena is the softest person Kara has ever known.
And she’s known her six years (—loved her perhaps longer), but still marvels, sometimes, that a person can hold so much pain and still be so gentle.
It took time—far too many of those six years, but Lena doesn’t hold herself back anymore. She doesn’t hesitate or stiffen with hugs, and she doesn’t flinch when any of their friends reach out. She cuddles up against Kara as often as she can, seeking her warmth and curling close like a kitten.
It’s adorable, and not to be dramatic, but Kara is pretty certain that being on the receiving end of Lena’s special brand of gentle love is the best thing that’s ever happened to her, or could ever happen to anyone. Ever.
Every time Lena drops her head on Kara’s shoulder, her heart flutters. When Lena holds her hand, playing with her fingers and drawing patterns on her skin, she feels so warm and fuzzy inside that she thinks she might explode. (When Lena called her darling for the first time, several months into their friendship, Kara nearly passed out.)
Actions are just how Lena shows her love. She creates inventions to keep them safe. She gives tight hugs that say “come home in one piece,” before they run into battle, and sits at bedsides when they don’t, worrying over their injuries even as she calls them “reckless idiots.”
Kara is utterly and entirely in love with her.
She really oughta tell her, sometime. (She thinks about telling her every day. She almost does, sometimes.
She doesn't, though.)
Instead, she pines longingly and pretends she isn’t. It takes an awful lot of effort, but she manages to keep her heart-eyes to a minimum (Alex would disagree) and not kiss Lena every time she does something especially lovely . . . or smiles at her or walks in the room or simply because she exists .
But the universe is really testing her today.
It’s warm and sunny on the first day of June, and Lena’s sundress, fluttering around her legs in the breeze, matches the blue of Kara’s eyes. It makes her feel things she will not be saying out loud.
They always get brunch on Saturdays, even when the world is ending and they’re busy trying to put it back together. (In a few years, Saturday Brunch will evolve to include a bright-eyed daughter named Lori, but Kara doesn’t know that yet.)
Usually, brunch is followed by a walk in the park and a trip to the farmer’s market, where they trail from vendor to vendor and Lena buys fresh vegetables while Kara laments about all the healthy food Lena will make in the coming days. Eventually, her pitiful mourning garners amused sympathy, and Lena buys her a sticky bun from the old woman who runs a baked goods stall on the outskirts, who calls them both “honey” and shows them pictures of her goats.
They wander home to what’s Kara’s apartment on the lease, but is really theirs, back through the park. It’s considerably longer, but Lena calls it a ‘shortcut’ and Kara has no inclination to contradict her.
Today, Kara says: “Go on ahead, I’ll catch up,” and heads back into the rows of vendors when Lena nods.
The man who sells flowers is set up right in the center of the market—always is—and she bounces up to him with a wide grin, plucking a single pansy from a bucket outside his stall. She twirls it between her thumb and forefinger, watching the purple and white spin and blur together.
“Just the one?” He asks. “That’ll be seventy-five cents.” She hands him a dollar and darts off with a “thank you!” over her shoulder.
Lena is still standing just outside the outer circle of vendors, exactly where she’d left her. Her arm raises in a small wave as she sees Kara approaching, and the warmth in Kara’s chest blooms and expands and threatens to overflow and spill out of her chest into the grass.
She’d waited for her.
“Hi,” she says as Kara stops in front of her, closer than necessary. She’s shorter without heels, and tilts her head back to look Kara in the eyes, her own filled with affection. “All good to go?”
For a moment, Kara just stares, trying to memorize the way the sun is shining on her, making her hair look like it’s glittering with stars.
She must not come up with an answer fast enough, because Lena tilts her head to the side and says: “Kara?” like she’s confused. Unsure what to say, she jolts into motion, pulling the flower out from behind her back and holding it up under Lena’s nose, which scrunches adorably when the petals tickle her skin. Her giggle is light and airy and she tilts away from the flower, reaching up to brush her fingers along the back of Kara’s hand and hold it still so she can smell without getting pollen in her nose.
(And her touch shoots little tingles up Kara’s arm. She doesn’t shiver and pull Lena closer and kiss her, flower trapped between them, and that’s harder than it should be.)
“Lovely,” she says, her voice quiet, but her eyes flicker up to Kara as she says it and Kara tries very hard to not read into that, instead reaching up to brush her thumb across Lena’s face, right at her hairline over her ear.
Lena’s hair is pulled back today in two french braids, so as Kara tucks the stem of the flower behind her ear, she slips it between a few of the hairs to hold it in place.
As her hand falls, Lena catches it. She slides her fingers into the spaces between Kara’s, and gives her hand a soft squeeze.
“Thank you, darling,” she says, and she looks so soft in her color-of-Kara’s-eyes sundress with the pansy Kara bought her behind her ear and soft baby-hair fly-aways around her temples that without thinking about it, Kara blurts out: “I like when you do that.”
“Do what?” Lena asks, cocking her head. Internally, Kara tells herself to shut up at the same time she tells herself to stop being a coward and tell the love of her life that she’s, you know, in love with her.
“Call me ‘darling.’” (Her heartbeat spins in her chest and she listens for Lena’s—it’s faster than it should be.)
“Oh,” Lena says, her smile soft and amused. (The picture of calm on the outside; a flurry of nerves on the inside.) “I’ve been doing that for years.”
“I know.” She barely manages to get the words out around the lump in her throat. “I’ve always loved it, I just didn’t say. I worried I shouldn’t.”
A soft pink blush appears on Lena’s cheeks, and not for the first time, Kara thinks that nowhere in the universe is there anyone as beautiful as Lena.
Lena, who hesitates like she’s on the verge of saying something she’s not sure she should say. “Um. I like it when you call me ‘sweetheart.’ You don’t do it very often, but it’s . . . it’s nice.”
Her voice is delicate and fast like if she didn’t say it all in one breath, it wouldn’t be said at all. And Kara is warm and so full of joy and she’s never, she’s never felt like this before. She has loved her best friend for years, and she thinks: this is the tipping point.
This is where holding it back is no longer possible.
“I love you,” she says, not a whisper but quiet all the same. Reverent. Adoring, and Lena’s smile grows into something bright and sparkly. Kara hadn’t thought she could fall any further, but here, as Lena beams up at her, soft and happy, she falls a little more.
“I love you, too,” Lena says, so simple and easy that Kara realizes how often they say those words already.
Her heart jumps from her chest into her throat as Lena, their hands still linked, turns toward the path—that’s not a shortcut—leading home. Their home. They call it that all the time, but Lena’s name isn’t on the lease. (Kara wants it to be.) She still has her own apartment, though she never stays there anymore.
Kara stops her. Doesn’t move and lets their joined hands stop Lena in her tracks and pull her back, where she tilts her head at Kara and furrows her brow.
“Kara? Is everything alright?”
“I’m in love with you.” (Kara wishes her voice didn’t sound like she was speaking through a fist around her throat, but she soldiers on.) “I have been for years, and I always will be. I don’t expect anything, I just. . . . I needed you to know.
“You’re my best friend in the whole world and that’ll always be enough if it’s what you want us to be, but in case you’re even a little bit interested, you’re probably the love of my life and—”
Her words die sharp in her throat when suddenly Lena is right in front of her, so close she can smell the pansy behind her ear; drown in her perfume and the fabric softener that lingers on her dress.
“Probably?” Lena asks, so close that Kara can feel her breath on her skin.
“Um. Definitely,” she squeaks out, and she’d be embarrassed if she had the time, but Lena’s hand that isn’t holding hers is cupping her face and she’s even closer and she’s whispering: “May I—”
Kara kisses her.
Kara kisses Lena for the first time when it’s warm and sunny and the first day of June at the farmer’s market. Lena’s thumb strokes across her cheekbone as she sighs into Kara’s mouth and she tastes like the cinnamon from the sticky bun she’d stolen pieces of from Kara’s plate at brunch.
Even now, Kara knows this is her last first kiss. She wraps her free hand around Lena’s hip and pulls her closer, traps their linked hands between them where Kara can feel Lena’s heartbeat against the back of her palm, and falls in love with the little hitch in Lena’s breath as she deepens her kiss.
It’s Lena who pulls away first, letting her hand fall from Kara’s cheek around to the back of her neck, where she weaves her fingers into the baby hairs at the base of her skull. Kara stifles a shiver.
“I’m in love with you, too,” she says, her voice quiet and gentle; her palm warm on Kara’s skin.
And here, standing in the grass with a purple pansy tucked behind Lena’s ear, the future Kara had only ever dreamed of seems right in front of her.
She is utterly and entirely in love.