After what felt like years of stagnation and repeated lessons, life lurched forward in leaping bounds within the space of a month. More significant and life altering events occurred in such a short window that Lena barely had time to catch her breath before she was hurtling towards the next one.
Lena alongside all her dearest friends came together to bury William, honouring his final sacrifice and a life spent striving for truth.
Lena, only accompanied by Kara who insisted on being there despite Lena’s repeated assurances it wasn’t necessary, attended the sombre affair that was Lillian’s funeral.
Lena sat in a quiet lawyer’s office inheriting the entire Luthor empire on her own and feeling like each gift was merely another chink being added to the chains that bound her.
Lena attended a wedding, filled with laughter and joy, where she was asked to be a part of the family, to be linked to people that she never thought would find her deserving.
Lena held her best friend’s hand, sharing encouragement and declarations of love which still failed to fully reveal the depths of her feelings.
Lena watched on the other side of a camera as Kara smiled to the whole world and stepped out, as one person, into the sunlight.
Lena waved the new spouses goodbye as they flew off to two weeks on a tropical beach.
Lena nodded farewell to the young couple that had reunited after nearly losing each other.
Lena hugged her best friend and god-daughter good night before they skipped away to spend two weeks of aunt and niece bonding time together.
Lena sat in a dark and silent hotel room and asked herself: ‘Now what?’
There was no dust in the mansion.
It shouldn’t have surprised Lena - raised to see a constant retinue of servants in her periphery working hard to ensure not even a speck of dust settled on any surface. (The Luthors may have been harsh taskmasters but there was never any doubt that they paid well.)
It was the knowledge that the mansion had been unoccupied for years and that she had visited so sparingly over the last decade that made her expect musty, stale air and moth-worn fabrics. That wasn’t the case. There was no sign of age or deterioration to her once home. The place was identical to that day when she had packed her bags and headed to MIT, knowing full well that she had no intention of returning.
She arrived two weeks after the wedding, equipped with a singular suitcase and a backpack; all of her worldly possessions only just filling the two of them. She had lost the majority of her belongings when she had made Lex aware of her allegiance to the Superfriends. He had burned her favourite clothes, her beloved books and random trinkets down by the docks, sending her a video of the event which she watched one night in the tower on her own - solemnly cataloguing each item as one of Lex’s goons threw it into the ever expanding bonfire.
The mansion was hers now. Lillian had left it to her in her will. Had left everything to Lena, much to the young woman’s shock - Lex’s name not even warranting a mention in the detailed document. Lena hated how something petty like that had made her realise that Lillian truly did love her at the end.
It was this final declaration of love that had provided Lena a much needed destination and goal to latch onto: examining the last Luthor stronghold and suitably reviewing all its secrets before deciding what would become of it.
She let Kara know she was going out of town for a couple days and received a selfie of the blonde and her adorable niece pulling exaggerated puppy dog eyes at the camera which had nearly made Lena stay but the unbearable quiet of her hotel room drove away the warmth of the moment leaving her jittery and on edge.
She landed at Metropolis airport, an unassuming hybrid awaiting her to drive outside the city and to the tucked away Luthor estate which the mansion sat in the middle of.
It was an extraordinarily intimidating building, designed to imitate the stately European homes belonging to families with twisted and curling branches. It was a farce really, built during her father’s rise to wealth and power to create the illusion that the Luthors had always been there pulling the strings in the lost archives of history.
Dark wood and grim stone, stained glass windows that whilst pretty and full of character provided little protection against the elements. Lena frowned up at the building, ears pricking as the wind rustled through the leaves of the trees before taking a fortifying breath and heading inside.
Her room was bare, empty furniture living to serve a purpose - all traces of herself wiped clean and packed away. She dropped her bags there for the time being and spent her first evening reacquainting herself with the layout of the mansion - hand trailing over heavy drapes and stiff cushions, tapping against the spines of leatherbound classics that lined the walls. She peered into Lex’s old room but decided not to explore it too deeply - fully prepared for there to be traps which could catch her unawares. Lillian’s room was the biggest surprise, though obviously not used often over the last few years - the Luthors absconding to the other coast in a bid to rebuild their name - there was still plenty of personal details that revealed the room to be the most ‘lived in’ over the last few years. Pictures of their family rested on the dresser - Lena in her graduation gown, Lex and Lionel in suits on Lex’s first day at L-Corp and a far too staged photo at the Luthor Christmas gala before Lena made her final escape.
Tucked away in her walk-in wardrobe were boxes that housed no shoes, but mementos and trinkets that Lena had clearly left behind years ago but that Lillian hadn’t brought herself to throw out - meaningless certificates of participation from sports events and school reports that should have been recycled the day after they were marked.
Lena hadn’t known what to make of it - any of it.
Lillian who sneered with barely restrained contempt throughout her childhood, who would roll her eyes whenever Lena - still hopeful and eager to earn her new mother’s approval - presented the culmination of her hard work. She’d assumed the history of her childhood had gone the same way as most of her possessions - burned by her brother’s order if not directly by his hand. But here was her past protected and shielded by a woman who had cared so little for it when it was occurring right in front of her.
Maybe it was evidence that Lillian had more humanity than she claimed or evidence of a woman’s guilt over her actions towards a small child or… and Lena hated herself for wishing it was this more than any other… it was a mother cherishing her daughter’s life and creations.
Lena went to bed, head aching and chest tight with poorly restrained emotions.
She spent the next day going through the boxes of her childhood - ignoring her original reason for coming and the tight deadline she had set herself.
She needed to go through the objects in each room and take a comprehensive inventory so that she could best decide what to do with everything and the building as a whole. She slept late into the morning the day after re-familiarising herself with hallmarks of her childhood, relishing the quiet even as the house stirred dark memories that kept her sleep light and somewhat fretful.
She decided to start in the main living room but got distracted by a first edition Alice in Wonderland on one of the bookshelves. It was late into the evening and she had started on Oliver Twist when she realised that she had failed to achieve a single one of the tasks she had planned to complete. There were no servants or housekeepers aligned to the mansion, Lillian’s death had ended their contracts and Lena hadn’t re-offered them due to the house’s uncertain future.
She cooked for herself - an activity she hadn’t completed for months, subsisting on continental breakfasts at the hotel and takeout at the tower. She took her time with it and indulged, eating at the counter that her and Lex used to on mornings over the summer holidays.
She finished Oliver Twist in bed and already had Great Expectations ready for herself to read the next day.
It took Lena far longer than normal to recognise the sound of her phone buzzing for attention. It had sat, on charge, in the corner of the room, playing gentle music as she read in an armchair. She had barely looked at it over the last couple of days.
She scrambled for it now and swiped to accept the video-call from Kara.
“Hey!” Bright smile and even brighter blue eyes filled the screen.
“Uh… hey, you.” Lena croaked, heart racing immediately after going a couple of days deprived of the sight of her best friend. “How goes aunt and niece bonding?
“Amazing!” Kara cheered, the image shaking as if hit by an earthquake as the blonde bobbed up and down in excitement. “Esme and I went to the zoo today and Lena…” Kara paused, eyes widening dramatically, “me and you have to go as soon as you’re back.”
“That good, huh?” Lena chuckled, sliding back into her cocoon in the armchair.
“I have three words for you. Baby. Red. Pandas. They are so cute. I wanted to just kidnap them all and spend the whole day cuddling them.”
“Probably not the best move for National City’s darling superhero.” Lena reminded with an amused smile. “Though… I wouldn’t tell as long as I got plenty of pictures.”
“Pictures? Pfft.” Kara shook her head, lips pushing forward in full puppy disagreement. “I would bring them straight to you and we would have a cuddle party.”
“A cuddle party?” Lena prompted, arching an eyebrow.
“It’s our regular cuddling with you know… baby red panda company.” Kara explained, utterly serious.
“That does sound pretty good.”
“I’m glad you had a good day.” Lena murmured genuinely, after everything Kara had gone through she deserved good days filled with red panda cuddle parties.
“Me too, how about you? How was your day?” Kara asked eagerly, leaning forward instinctively to listen closely.
Lena’s mouth opened and closed, unsure what word to use to sum up her day of nothing, “Fine.”
Kara’s brow instantly furrowed, mouth pressing into a tight line, “Fine as in good fine or bad fine?”
Lena shifted uncomfortably in her seat, “Fine as in fine?”
Kara’s expression tightened up even more and Lena quickly rushed to change the subject.
“Where is my favourite god daughter by the way?”
Kara hesitated, obviously weighing up whether or not to let the conversation drop - Lena smiled gently at her through the screen hoping her best friend picked up on her non-verbal, ‘I’m okay, I promise, don’t worry.’ After a beat, Kara smiled warmly at her in return and started moving - her background of the window in her bedroom changed to the living room before she disappeared from the screen, the camera instead shifting to focus on the small child sleeping on the couch with a blanket wrapped around her.
“Crashed on the sofa five minutes ago as soon as ‘Turning Red’ finished.” Kara whispered, her voice barely audible.
Lena ‘aww’-ed over her god-daughter and Kara kept the camera on Esme for a little longer before retreating back to the bedroom and returning into view herself.
“How much sugar did you feed her?” Lena asked once it was just the two of them again.
Kara scoffed indignantly, “I resent that insinuation.”
Lena merely arched an accusatory eyebrow, “Kara?”
Kara folded immediately, “Look, I’m merely cementing my position as the fun aunt before you swoop in as the cool aunt and permanently take the top spot.”
Lena rolled her eyes, “Esme adores you.”
“She adores me even more after an entire box of krispy kreme donuts.” Kara hummed.
And Lena’s heart clenched at that; Kara cheeky and sweet, grinning at her with mischief in her blue eyes. Lena took a deep breath and tried to push down the swell of affection that gave too much of herself away. “What have you got planned for tomorrow?
“Nuh-uh,” Kara replied, “you haven’t told me anything about your day. I need my Lena fix too.”
“Your Lena fix? Are you comparing me to a drug?”
Kara winced, hand appearing out of the confines of the screen-edge to rub at the back of her neck in lieu of fiddling with the glasses that no longer served as walls to the world. “A good drug? Like one that keeps people alive but requires taking on a daily basis?”
“Wow,” Lena whistled, “you really dug yourself out of that hole.”
“Lena,” Kara whined, “stop trying to distract me.” Kara paused, a flash of white appearing as she bit her bottom lip, voice low and heavy. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah.” Lena assured, looking around the living room that had become her nest, working to keep the camera angled to reveal as little of her surroundings as possible, “I’m just… I’m doing a job I don’t really want to do and I don’t really want to talk about it.” Lena said slowly, not wanting to lie to Kara - not after everything they had gone through - but needing to keep this private for some reason even though she couldn’t explain it to herself.
Kara nodded, eyes still wary with concern but she was no longer as tense. “Can I help?”
Lena swallowed thickly, appreciative that Kara was respectful of her boundaries not to push, “No, I… I need to do this on my own.”
“Okay.” Kara accepted. “I’m here. If you need anything. Scratch that… if you want anything… I’m here.”
A swoop of the stomach foretold that she would be thinking about Kara saying those words - husky and promising - in a thousand different scenarios later tonight. Clearing her throat and hoping her camera didn’t pick up the depth of her blush, “What else have you got planned with Esme?”
She finished the majority of Charles Dickens’s work the next day and moved onto ‘The Lord of the Rings’, finally venturing out of the living room and finding a comfortable seating area outside, enjoying the start of summer.
She left her phone inside and came back to a number of missed calls and a voicemail from her best friend as she made herself dinner.
“Hey Lena, just checking in! I know you said you would be back soon so wanted to ask if you’d like to get dinner with me and Esme when you get home? Just think with you there we might eat something green and within the category of healthy.”
Lena frowned, not consciously aware that she was rapidly approaching a week at the mansion - a trip that was only meant to be two or three days. She called back but was informed Kara was on another call by an electronic tone, something which strangely pulled forth a sensation of relief when she realised she would only be able to leave a voicemail.
“Hey Kara, it seems like we’re playing phone tag for the time being. This task I’m doing appears bigger than I anticipated so I will be out of town for a little longer.” Lena explained in a rush, “Will let you know when I’m headed back.”
She hung up quickly and left her phone on the counter - pretending she couldn’t hear it ring less than twenty minutes later.
There were no traps in Lex’s room, not even a childish trip-wire much to Lena’s surprise. Then again, his childhood bedroom - much like Lena’s in a sense - was free of any evidence of who it belonged to. It was still filled with his childhood mementos and trophies marking his potential whilst lacking a clear link to the megalomaniac he would become. It was a bedroom that could have belonged to any teenager with a stark interest in science.
There was a scale model solar system in the corner that rotated in perfect imitation of the planets. A telescope buried in the back of a wardrobe that Lena remembered her brother carrying over his shoulder after bundling her up in blankets and taking her out at night into the garden for some star-gazing. There were family photos, Lex with his parents and one of just Lena and him together - Lex had taken her to a fairground nearby and brought them both cotton candy, the picture taken as Lena opened her mouth in a silly attempt to consume it all in one mouthful.
The clothes in the closet consisted of jeans and more casual shirts, there were even a couple of t-shirts featuring science puns. That was how she remembered her brother - or how she wished she remembered him. Not in black suits and polished shoes that made his dalliances with darkness more serious and threatening, but dressed down and inviting Lena on an adventure.
His journals had ruined even this past version of him, though. Revealed that his cruelty was there from the beginning but held back by his arrogance that there was no one who could challenge him.
She sat down on the edge of the immaculate bed and allowed herself to imagine a different life for herself - one where she really had the brother she believed she did when she was four years old.
She explored the garden next, the manicured lawn grass starting to curl and reach upwards yearning for wild freedom, she strolled past the pristine flowerbeds and wandered into the untamed land that encompassed the mansion yet was still part of the Luthor estate. She trekked through copses and snaring bushes, she wasn’t overly sure where she was going, she had merely felt the need to stretch her legs after a day of reading Robert Louis Stevenson.
It wasn’t until she came to a stop and looked up that she realised where she had brought herself.
Lionel had designed a tree-house for Lex when he was younger, sparing no expense and making it almost a lavish retreat hidden away in the woods. When Lena arrived, Lex shared it with her and it was where they would retreat to escape their parents raised voices and their demanding expectations.
It was rundown now, the wooden ladder missing a couple of rungs and everything covered by a mossy green sheen as the trees seeked to make it their own. She ventured up cautiously, a voice in the back of her mind whispering that Kara wasn’t close enough to help this time.
The treehouse was surprisingly solid - unsurprising considering the expense Lionel would have paid at the time - and Lena allowed her fingers to trace over the frame, memories leaching out of the wood.
She curled up in the corner, eyes shifting closed as she listened to wind flitter through the leaves.
She hadn’t thought about L-Corp once since arriving, had not spared a single moment to the giant that had defined so many years of her life. She knew - from the various ignored phone calls - that those in charge were finally waking up and realising that following Lex and Lillian’s demise, the youngest Luthor was the heir apparent. The idea of picking up the pieces and repeating every choice and fight she had made a few years ago in a world that no longer existed was so repellant a concept her brain literally would not allow her to consider it.
That’s not to say she wasn’t missing her life in National City.
She missed Kara and the various superfriends but they were all moving forward onto a brighter life and Lena was…
What? Repeating her past again?
Cheering on the sidelines?
She was so tired and everyone wanted to rush into the next stage and Lena… Lena couldn’t breathe.
The air was trying to escape her lungs too fast or too slow and-
She couldn’t breathe.
Lena pressed herself against the wall of the treehouse, fingers scrabbling against mildewy wood as her chest felt tight, tight, tight.
Her head was a swarm of thoughts and she couldn’t settle, couldn’t rest, couldn’t breathe-
“Lena, finally!” Kara bellowed excitedly prompting Lena to pull the phone away from her ear for a moment to recover.
“Hey,” Lena greeted, slumping under her duvet just a little more, having retreated to bed early, exhausted from her walk and the panic attack she’d suffered. “Everything okay?” Lena hastened to ask, her phone revealing six missed calls from Kara when she got back prompting a bone-deep fear that something terrible had happened even though the news showed no dangers to Supergirl.
“Better now.” Kara sighed, “I was starting to worry.”
“Why?” Lena frowned.
When Kara spoke next her tone was a mix of confusion and concern, “Because I hadn't heard from you for like a week?”
“We’ve been texting.” Lena reminded her, though she shifted uncomfortably in bed, suddenly grateful that this was not a video call as she knew she wouldn’t have been able to meet Kara’s eye.
“I know…” Kara replied slowly, “but I like hearing your voice.”
“Oh.” Lena murmured.
There was a heavy pause before Kara cleared her throat preemptively revealing the sudden seriousness that their conversation was about to turn to. “Lena-”
“So how was the rest of your time with Esme?” Lena cut in, forcing a jovial tone.
“Um… great?” Kara muttered uncertainly, picking up on Lena’s fraudulent emotions, before wincing at how that made her sound less than enthused about her niece. “I mean fantastic. Alex and Kelly picked her up an hour ago and I'm already missing having her around.”
“I’m sure your sister will appreciate having an eager babysitter.” Lena reassured.
“Maybe I could come and see you?” Kara suggested seemingly out of the blue.
“Uh… It’s rather late and I’m on the other side of the country.” Lena stammered,
“Lena, not to brag or anything but I can fly pretty fast.”
“No bragging necessary, who is faster by the way out of you, Superman and the Flash?”
“Definitely me.” Kara declared with her usual self-assuredness.
“Definitely.” Lena repeated with conviction.
“Lena,” Kara said softly as the light-hearted humour died away, “where are you?”
“I’m…” Lena swallowed thickly, eyes tearing up as she started to feel panic and vulnerability seep out from inside of her. “I’m somewhere I don’t think you should visit.”
“Oh.” Kara whispered dejectedly.
“I mean I don’t think you’ll want to visit.” Lena clarified because the concept of making Kara feel rejected or abandoned was far worse than anything else she could experience.
“If you’re there then-”
“I’m at the Luthor mansion.” Lena confessed in a single rush of air.
Silence followed the admission and Lena could imagine Kara frowning on the other end of the call, forehead crease deeper than ever and blue eyes more stormy grey than cerulean.
“Lillian left it to me and I'm going through the house’s inventory and…” Lena explained before breaking off, flashes of the derelict treehouse and the ghost of a boy that could have been flashing before her eyes. “It’s not a happy place.”
“Then let me come and see you.” Kara demanded resolute and unfaltering; transforming into the hero that Lena adored so much.
“Now just isn’t a good time.” Lena murmured apologetically.
Another pause and Lena knew if Kara pushed once more, she would fold and beg for her to come and add a light to her surroundings.
“Okay.” Kara accepted eventually, voice gruff and clearly unhappy with her decision to leave it alone.
“Can you tell me about the rest of your week?” Lena requested softly, “I… I miss your voice.”
Her father’s study was the only truly empty room in the whole house. The shelves were empty and all non-fixed furniture removed, though there was still an imprint in the carpet where the large oak desk had stood. Lena traced the indents with her finger.
She and Lex had never really been allowed in here, Lionel enforcing this rule with a dark glare and the occasional heavy hand. Despite how infrequently Lena had been allowed into this room, its previous set-up was imprinted on her memory - she needed only to blink and it was returned to its previous state.
A globe that hid her father’s liquor had stood in the corner, one of the most worn objects - taking a battering from her father’s drunken clumsiness as he struggled with the hidden clasp to open it up. Cabinets locked up tight ran along the back of the room, hidden files that her father wanted forgotten - evidence of his own financial misdeeds. A leather desk chair that creaked when her father leaned back and lit a cigar - a signal that the Luthor patriarch was ruminating on a stubborn problem and considering what moral depths he was willing to plunder in order to remove it.
For all the darkness associated with her father and this room, there was also light - like most of her family, even Lex and Lillian were an amalgam of good and bad in her lifetime regardless of how much she wished to pretend one way or the other.
The large open space in front of Lionel’s desk was where he had danced with Lena; her younger self stood on her father’s immaculate leather shoes as he spun them around to her delighted laughter. The fountain pens that had stood up on the desk and were pressed into her hand as Lionel gave her a blank piece of paper and challenged her with fatherly pride to come up with a solution to a business problem he had encountered a week prior. The large windows at the back that her father would stare out of and watch with a fond smile as his two children raced across the lawn towards the treehouse he had designed.
Lena laid down on her back and stared up the ceiling, blinking away the tears and wondering if she would ever find a place that evoked only one type of emotion, instead of an ugly and confusing mix of positive and negative.
Wondered if she would ever find a place that she felt comfortable in.
Lena curled up under the duvet, face illuminated by the unnatural light of her phone screen, quickly examining the proximity alert notification. With a quick swipe, she deactivated the alarm, and then input the code to unlock the front door. She then locked her phone and returned it to the nightstand, plunging herself back into the darkness.
Deprived of visual stimuli her ears pricked up and she heard the distant sound of the front door opening, closing and then being locked. Silence again for a couple of beats before a familiar creak indicated someone ascending the staircase. Sounds of feet shuffling against the thick carpet as they made their way down the hallway, her bedroom door finally eased open - only the barest sound of a hinge.
Then the bed dipped and the sheets rustled.
Lena didn’t scream or shout or even react, she just waited. An arm then slipped by the dip in her waist, a palm settling on her stomach and then there was a warm breath grazing her ear.
“Your bedroom is freezing.” Kara muttered, shuffling even closer to Lena’s form as if they were sharing body heat in an arctic winter.
“It’s an old house; limitations on double glazing.” Lena replied quietly.
“Then you need more blankets.” Kara huffed, her feet shifting to press against Lena’s cold ones, offering to warm them up as she always did.
Lena placed a hand over the top of the one wrapped around her waist, interlacing their fingers, “Why, when I have you?”
The arm around her middle tightened then, and Kara’s head dipped down so her nose was pressed against Lena’s neck, lips brushing the sensitive skin just below.
“I didn’t scare you?” Kara checked.
“No.” Lena breathed. “I knew it was you.”
“Yeah.” Lena confirmed, their voices barely above a whisper even though they were the only two people in a ten mile radius.
“I missed this.” Kara confessed as they settled into the bed and into each other. “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too.”
Lena awoke to find herself clinging tightly to Kara, who was already awake and keeping herself entertained by playing some match three game with one hand, her other hand stroking absentmindedly through Lena’s hair. Lena swallowed thickly, heart swelling in her chest and head buzzing with too many thoughts. She extricated herself from the bed that was finally warm after being chilled for over a week and ran for an extra long shower.
Kara was cooking breakfast in the kitchen when Lena finally emerged, half hopeful and half fearful that Kara had departed. Her best friend beamed, dancing over to her in rhythm with the music playing on the radio and swooped her up into a tight, swaying hug.
They eat breakfast together, Kara regaling her with all the latest National City gossip and Superfriends stories, she even shared a few photos Alex had sent her from the honeymoon - Lena’s stomach feeling a roll of guilt knowing how many messages from their friends she was now blatantly ignoring.
Kara didn’t ask Lena any questions, didn’t push or press beyond the safest of topics. Kara did, however, use silence to great effect, let lulls hang heavy and oh-so-inviting, would tell a story about what she had been upto then pause giving Lena a chance to offer a story in return.
Lena remained quiet.
Breakfast finished and Kara’s brow was divided by a worried chasm as she nibbled a bottom lip, blue eyes intense and watchful. Lena pretended not to see any of the signs of Kara’s concern.
“Well…” Lena said slowly as she gathered up their plates and took them over to the kitchen sink for washing up. “I appreciate you coming to visit me.”
“I wanted to.” Kara declared from her seat at the table.
Lena inclined her head slightly in acknowledgement but kept her back to her best friend. “When are you heading back to National City?” Lena probed, a gentle suggestion tucked within the question.
She knew Kara was frowning without needing to see her.
“When are you?” Kara volleyed back.
“I still have things to do.” Lena replied immediately, voice stronger and more confident that she expected it to be.“I haven’t finished an invoice and I still have a few loose ends to deal with.”
“It was nice seeing you.” Lena cut in, hands soapy and turning red from the heat of the water that was filling the sink. She hoped the steam hid or at least explained the tears in her eyes.
There was a scrape of a chair and then the lightest press of lips to the side of her head, by the hairline abutting her forehead. “I’ll be back.” Kara promised in a shaky voice and then she was gone.
Lena spent the next two days in the garden. She’d found a dilapidated greenhouse surrounded by overgrown weeds and encroaching brambles. It was located off in the far corner, the edge between manicured garden and woodlands, allowing it to fall into a no man’s land. Unseen by anyone, Lillian must never have cracked the whip for it to be brought into line with the Luthor image.
It gave Lena something to do, allowed her hands to get dirty, her forearms scratched and her knees bruised - her mind finally clear of the incessant buzzing Kara’s visit had brought with her. She snipped back the brambles and hacked away at the stinging nettles, relishing each small improvement as evidence of her presence - of making something better .
Kara came back two days later; Lena was no longer even replying to her messages, phone abandoned in her room and drained of charge from the incessant emails from LuthorCorp and the Superfriends trying to make contact.
“Lena.” Kara greeted tentatively, landing a few feet away from where Lena was kneeling, cultivating the soil around the edges of the broken greenhouse.
“Kara.” Lena hummed, not bothering to look over at her best friend; her attention barely shifting away from the task at hand.
“Lena… Why… why are you still here?” Kara finally asked.
Lena sighed, burying the gardening fork into the soil before leaning back to sit on her heels. She lifted her head and squinted up at the cloudy, grey sky, “Where else would I be?”
There was the sound of shuffling feet, revealing the apprehension most surely written on Kara’s face. “Your home, Lena.” Kara said, sounding confused by the obviousness of the answer - utterly unaware how she had struck right at the throbbing heart of the matter. At the bleeding wound that had never been cauterised.
Lena laughed, pushing herself to her feet before spinning round to face the blonde. “Home? What home, Kara?” Lena questioned, arms and shoulders performing an exaggerated shrug as she cackled loudly.
Kara, clad in full supergirl regalia, seemed to shrink in the face of Lena finally cracking, eyes wide and uncertain even as she took a brave and loving step forward as if to rush in and hold Lena together with a strong embrace.
“Do you mean the home I shared with my mother before they burnt it down?” Lena demanded, laughter turning almost shrill as it shifted towards the hiccuping start of sobs, “Should I go bury myself in its ashes? Do you mean the home I tried to build with Jack: a house that was more a lab and a whiteboard than anything else? The one that Jack gave away to a charity in his will. Or do you mean the penthouse in National City? The white, modernist place that I bought to appease James who wanted a flashy billionaire on his arm.” Kara flinched at that revelation, lips curling with anger and sympathy. Lena ignored the reaction, tears streaming down her face now, and words slipping out through choked breaths. “The apartment my brother had me escorted out of and then handed over to one of his lackeys to pillage. Or do you mean the motels I was staying in, moving randomly through to try and throw my brother off the scent? To what home are you referring to Kara?” Lena pleaded, “Because I genuinely don’t know.” She turned to look at the mansion she had been cowering in, the place that had given her room to breathe and remember. “This dark, mausoleum filled with nightmares and trauma is the closest thing I have. I have no home. I’ve never had a home.”
It started to rain then, the droplets pitter pattering on the ground and providing much needed white noise to cover the end of Lena’s speech. Lena wiped at her tears, when suddenly she was no longer feeling the comforting coolness of the raindrops. She glanced up to find Kara holding her crimson cape over the top of Lena’s head - shielding her against the elements.
“You have me.” Kara whispered, blue eyes desperate and lips turned down into a heartbroken frown.
Lena shook her head, curling forward in on herself even as she reached out with trembling fingers to brush wet blonde locks off Kara’s beautifully earnest face. “The world has you now, Kara, and it adores you.” Lena murmured softly, lifting up on her toes to press a kiss to Kara’s cheek, slightly too close to the corner of pink lips to be considered strictly friendly. “I refuse to stain you with me.” Lena breathed before dropping back to her heels and walking away, back to the mansion.
“Lena!” Kara called out after her, but Lena rushed onwards without stopping.
Lena retreated to the shower, curling up under the spray in the foetal position, hoping to wash away her pain and the now-constant sense of being unmoored - liable to float off into the celestial abyss. She found the strength eventually to get up and dry herself off, changing into sweats and a hoodie she had stolen from Kara - needing to be surrounded by her best friend even after sending her away.
Her stomach let out a slight rumble, alerting her to the fact that she had failed to keep herself suitably fed over the course of the day. She quickly plaited her hair and headed downstairs planning something quick yet fulfilling to see out the day only to be met by an appetising scent and the clang of metal that could only mean someone was cooking.
She approached the kitchen hesitantly, peering through the doorway to see Kara now dressed in jeans and a blue t-shirt lifting a strand of spaghetti free from a pot and nibbling on it with an assessing expression.
Lena cleared her throat, prompting the blonde to turn to face her, spaghetti ends peeking out from either side of her mouth. “What are you doing?”
Kara sucked in the spaghetti letting out a pleased hum before turning back to the stove, “Making dinner. Carbonara, okay?”
“Yes, but… I don’t-…” Lena frowned, shifting from foot to foot, “Why are you here?
Kara glanced back at her and gestured to the burners like that should be more than sufficient an answer, “The stove is here? White or red wine?”
Lena’s mouth opened and closed, a thousand responses springing to mind but none deemed worthy enough for voicing until, “Red.”
Kara nodded approvingly at the choice, giving a final cursory glance to her ingredients before ducking into the pantry to retrieve a bottle.
They eat together in one of the informal living rooms - it was one of the few rooms that had an actual television. Kara put on some random sitcom, sitting as close to Lena as she could without totally invading her personal space. Kara laughed at all the right moments, whilst Lena side-eyed her best friend trying to work out her game-plan. Once the food was finished, Lena took their plates to wash-up using the time to herself to think. She retreated to her bedroom without a word to Kara, getting through a couple of chapters of Jane Eyre.
Kara joined her at bedtime, slipping into her side of the bed without once asking why Lena didn’t come back. Instead she whispered a quiet goodnight and lifted an arm up, a soft invitation for Lena to snuggle into her usual place against Kara’s chest. Lena hesitated for only a moment before giving in, the book abandoned on the side, side-lamp flicked off and her nose pressed against the warm junction of Kara’s neck.
She slept late into the morning, the bed empty when she awoke. She stumbled downstairs, book tucked under her arm planning to spend the day reading after grabbing something quick for breakfast. Kara was already there, laptop open at the small table in the corner, dressed in beige slacks and pressed light green shirt as she spoke to someone on the screen, her hands gesturing to emphasise her point.
Lena blinked at her in confusion, freezing in the doorway. Kara wrapped up the phone call, thanking whoever was on the other side for their time and hard work, before getting to her feet and stretching. She ambled over to Lena, pressing a gentle kiss to her cheek and offering to make them a pot of coffee whilst loading a plate up with french pastries for Lena to eat.
“You’re working?” Lena managed to say once she had phased back from the stone statue she had turned into.
Kara arched an eyebrow at her, pressing a warm mug of coffee made exactly the way Lena liked into the hand currently not holding a plate of her favourite pastries. “Well, I am editor-in-chief.”
“I mean…” Lena pursed her lips. “Don’t you need to be in National City for that?”
Kara merely smiled at her, blue eyes twinkling. “We’re a major media conglomerate and we’re promoting more flexible and modern work-life balances.” Kara winked at her causing Lena’s heart to accelerate without her consent. “I can use Teams.”
“And Supergirl?” Lena queried, gaze narrowing haughtily in a vain attempt to hide the flush to her cheeks.
Kara shrugged, moving back to her seat at the table, fingers speeding over the keyboard, “Pretty sure National City has more than one superhero nowadays.”
Lena stood there, mouth moving up and down but no words escaping, heart and head too jumbled to know how to react.
“Fancy a walk at lunchtime?” Kara asked, not looking up from her screen.
“Ummm… sure.” Lena agreed because at this point what else was she going to do?
The dining room was Lena’s least favourite room in the whole house. It had barely any good memories attached to it. It was the place the Luthor’s received guests and hosted events. The room where the wealthy disparaged the poor, the entitled belittled the ‘less deserving’ and the ‘traditionalists’ hid their various phobias and cruelty with assertions towards family values. Lena was forced to sit quietly as a child, her father grabbing her arm with a harsh grip whenever she veered towards breaking point. As she got older, she was put on display, a piece of decoration to beguile the older men who watched her with lazy gazes as they fell under the Luthor sway.
Lena picked at a scratch in the polished wooden surface with her thumbnail, digging in and widening the wound. Chipping away without care for the splinters or how the broken edges bit into her skin. The dark surface had given away to something slightly lighter when a hand covered hers - stopping her incessant work. Lena looked up to see watery blue eyes.
Kara lifted the pale and slightly bloody hand up and pressed the lightest of kisses with trembling lips to the skin.
“I hate this house.” Lena whispered darkly.
Kara sighed, “I know.”
Then Lena was lovingly lifted up and carried out of that dark room, her hand tended to with the utmost care before she was taken back to her bed where Kara held her tight pressing kisses to her forehead whilst Lena cried for the young girl she had once been.
It was three days later; the dining room was locked - Lena had no idea how Kara had managed that and she didn’t dare ask. She’d returned to the project of restoring the greenhouse, Kara coming to check on her regularly between work calls - admiring her hard work and offering compliments and suggestions.
They’d visited a garden centre the day prior and Kara had helped her select different plants to fill the tilled soil, ferrying them from the store to the car and then from the car to a designated space near the greenhouse.
Lena stopped her little project at the same time Kara finished working for the day. The two of them retreating inside to make dinner together and watch a reality tv show about fashion designers competing that Kara had bribed her into watching. They curled up on the sofa together, cuddled close, after a couple of episodes Lena would pick up her most recent book whilst Kara checked in with the Superfriends and her sister whilst intermittently watching a melodramatic show Lena refused to get sucked into even though she kept peeking to watch it over the top of her hardback.
“Kara, when are you going home?” Lena didn’t know she was going to ask the question until she actually said it. Kara had just finished speaking with Alex, listening to all the updates about National City and Esme, the yearning in her voice apparent for the family that was there.
Kara shifted, Lena who had been leaning back against Kara’s chest found herself being carefully turned within the crook of Kara’s legs. Kara looked down at her, expression serious and the words that followed practised as if she had been waiting for this question for days - which Lena presumed she probably had.
“I am home, Lena.” Kara answered simply, pressing her lips to Lena’s forehead for a long moment before returning them to their previous position and pressing play on the remote - kindly ignoring how Lena’s heart was pounding like she’d run a marathon.
Lena fell quiet for the rest of the evening and the next morning, pondering the confidence of Kara’s declaration and all that it revealed. She returned to the tree house, sitting on the wooden balcony, feet dangling over the edge as she cloud-watched the day away. Kara had given her space and allowed her the solitude she needed following her confession, but she came and found her around lunchtime. The kryptonian hovered up to her, foregoing the pretence of the rickety ladder and slotting in next to her on the balcony.
“Lena?” Kara said after a few minutes of silence.
“Hmm?” Lena replied, inviting conversation.
Kara exhaled deeply, hand moving to interlace with Lena’s that was sitting bereft on the mildewy wood. “When was the last time you rested or lied in or… did anything just for yourself?”
Lena turned to meet Kara’s gaze, shaken from her reflective state at the surprise of such a question.
“Or not worked for longer than a weekend?” Kara added after a moment.
Lena pursed her lips, head tilting to the side as she considered the question, “I’ve worked in some form or another every weekend since…” She trailed off, brain fuzzy and memory hazy as it struggled to pull forth a solid answer. Definitely not since taking over L-Corp or even before then when working with Jack to cure cancer - time too precious to waste on meaningless recreational periods.
Had she taken weekends off in college? Even then she had always been in a lab or running herself ragged with more degrees than a compass. High school, maybe? However, from the moment she arrived at the Luthor mansion she’d been expected to always be chasing academic brilliance or performing some fundamental duty as the Luthor daughter.
Flashes of her mother so vague and indistinct filled her mind but she pushed them to one side.
“Since?” Kara prompted when Lena remained mute for longer than normal.
Lena shook her head, admitting “I don’t know…” She looked back up at the blue sky through the green leaves, “Does this, right now… count?
“I guess in a way it does…”
“There’s something wrong with me, isn’t there?” Lena guessed, unable to avoid it any longer.
The grip on her hand tightened immediately and she was tugged round to find determined blue eyes.
“No, Lena. There’s nothing wrong with you.” Kara declared firmly.
“Then why don’t I want to leave? I don’t even like it here.” Lena mumbled, voice becoming thick and warbly as her eyes began to sting with unshed tears.
Kara let go of Lena’s hand so her arm could slip around Lena’s waist pulling her into Kara’s side allowing her to place affectionate kisses to the side of her head with ease. “I think it’s less to do with this place and more about what it’s giving you.”
“What is it giving me?” Lena shakily exhaled.
“Respite.” Kara murmured.
“I don’t need that, not now anyway. I mean…” Lena’s jaw clenched, her heart squeezing tight as she remembered Brainy who was the brother she’d never had, Nia who was still sending her memes and sweet check-ins despite weeks of silence, Kelly who welcomed her into her family without hesitance, Alex who trusted her with Esme and Kara who, despite everything that had happened between them, saw her as a sanctuary. “I’m finally happy,” Lena cried, hating that she didn’t know why the tears were falling, “I don’t need respite from good things…”
“Maybe… but you never let yourself take a break after the bad and now…” Kara embraced Lena, fully surrounding her, arms creating a safe haven of comfort, “it’s catching up to you. Alex was telling me that she always gets a cold right after a really stressful time. It’s like as the stress leaves her, all her defences go on strike to make up for the overtime they’ve been pulling and suddenly… everything internal she ignored to deal with the external stress makes itself known.”
Lena laughed hoarsely, “Not quite sure if the medical evidence for that backs it up… but I see your point.” Lena acknowledged, earning a grateful kiss to the top of her head. “Are you telling me that I’ve been in a constant state of stress for the last… near decade…” Lena winced at the conservative estimate, “and now I’m dealing with the consequences?”
“Pretty much.” Kara shrugged helplessly.
“You figure all that out or did Kelly help?” Lena queried, rubbing the tear tracks on her cheeks away with the sleeve of her too large sweatshirt - one she had stolen from Kara years ago.
Kara harrumphed teasingly, “Kelly guided but I did most of the heavy lifting.”
Lena arched an appreciative eyebrow, head tilting to rest on Kara’s supportive shoulder. “You do have the muscles for it.”
“I heard that.” Kara’s cheeks flushed crimson even as her chest puffed up proudly at the comment.
Lena hummed but didn’t add any disclaimer of friendship to the statement like she would have done only a year ago. They were beyond that point now.
“I’m sorry.” Lena muttered after a long pause.
“What for?” Kara frowned, leaning back slightly so she could study Lena’s expression.
“Not holding it together.” Lena whispered weakly; she was acutely aware of how Kara had suffered, how she had been trapped in the place where all nightmares probably originated and here Lena was falling apart once given even a modicum of time and space to herself. Kara shouldn’t have to deal with this, deal with her, on top of everything else.
“Lena, no…” Kara breathed, utterly aghast. Lena was suddenly lifted from the balcony and pulled entirely into Kara’s lap who held her so tightly - as if she had survived some near death experience and Lena was her life-line. “Listen to me…” Kara begged, voice ragged and distraught in Lena’s ear. “You… you deserve to rest, to breathe… I’m sorry that I… that I didn’t realise earlier.” Kara’s shaky hands were stroking down Lena’s back so carefully Lena didn’t know if the soothing action was for her or Kara. “That I wasn’t there for you when you needed me.”
“I need you now and you’re here.” Lena replied, burying her face into Kara’s neck, lips brushing against the heated skin as her fingers dug into Kara’s back - the two of them grounding each other with touch.
They walked back to the mansion, hand in hand and shoulders brushing as the sky turned a light pink shading into the evening. Kara brought them to a stop on the manicured lawn that was starting to go feral, and stared up thoughtfully at the building.
“Hey, Lena… when you said,'' Kara hesitated, squeezing Lena’s hand infinitesimally harder as her jaw clenched with some unknown anger, “when you said you bought your penthouse to appease James… did you… did you like anything about it?”
Lena grimaced and knew that Kara wouldn’t like her answer. “I liked the balcony.” Lena eventually settled on.
Kara’s nostrils flared, even as her blue eyes softened with fondness at the statement.
James had accompanied her on the viewings and the all white penthouse was the only one that made him smile with satisfaction. She hadn’t liked the monochromatic feel to it, her office was one thing - designed to send a signal that she was serious and professional whilst lacking the dark, intimidating wood that hallmarked her brother and father - she wanted something different for her home. Something with character and maybe a garden to remind her of her mother.
“What would yours be? Your dream house?” Lena asked, hoping to draw Kara away from the dark paths her mind was clearly hastening down.
Her attempt to distract met success immediately; Kara’s entire face lit up and her free hand moved to cup Lena’s cheek. “One that I share with you.”
Lena rolled her eyes, even as her mouth stretched to accommodate the largest smile she had ever experienced, “Non cheesy answer?”
Kara tilted her head thoughtfully to the side, “Somewhere quiet, I love the city but it's nice to be away from the noise. Big windows, I love that about my flat, waking to the sun and everything being filled with light. In Argo, there’s balconies and mezzanine floors, everything is open and layered… I’d like that. It makes everyone feel together but not overlapping constantly. I guess, also enough rooms for people to visit and for…” Kara bit her lip, suddenly shy, “family.”
Lena nodded, even as her mind filled with blonde children jumping from floor to floor laughing the whole time.
“That sounds nice.”
The greenhouse was pretty much done, requiring only minor maintenance and upkeep. Lena found the lawnmower in the garage and acted in just enough time to reclaim the lawn before it turned too wild. She spent the rest of the day exploring the garage that used to be her little workshop to tinker in over the summer holidays. She found her worktable and a couple of large graph notepads filled with far too optimistic designs for world changing devices. She flicked through it, laughing at her younger self’s attempt at a death ray, anti-gravity gun and weather machine. She pulled out the drawings intending to share them with Kara once the blonde had finished the staff meeting she was currently running online.
To fill the time until then, Lena doodled on the graph paper and it wasn’t until she had nearly finished designing the ground floor schematic that she realised she was attempting to design a house with all of Kara’s preferences whilst including a reading room and study for herself.
It was the permanence of it that settled something for Lena.
A future for herself . Something she wanted, rather than something that just happened to her.
She was on her feet and hurrying into the mansion. As if the universe was proving to her that she was doing the right thing, Kara’s meeting ended just as she walked into the kitchen. The blonde looked up at her immediately with affectionate blue eyes and a growing smile.
“Kara?” Lena murmured, moving to stand by Kara’s chair, hands fiddling in front of her.
Kara’s eyebrows lifted curiously, “Yeah?”
Lena took a deep breath, held it… and… and… “I love you.”
Kara’s eyes scrunched up in that special way that always made Lena’s heart flutter and her palms sweat, “I love you, too.”
Lena licked her lips and swallowed thickly, gaze dropping to the floor as she gathered her courage, “No, I mean-”
Kara gently reached out and stopped Lena’s frantic wringing with the lightest of touches before she got to her feet, bringing herself right into Lena’s personal space, foreheads practically pressed together and noses sliding against each other.
Lena couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped at their sudden closeness.
“Lena, I know.” Kara promised sincerely, “I love you, too. And I’m not going anywhere.”
“Oh, okay, then.”
“So…” Kara began, dragging the word out as the credits started to run on Project Runway. Lena lifted her head from where it was resting on Kara’s chest - the two of them curled up together on the sofa - to give her best friend her full attention.“Are you ever going to kiss me?”
Lena’s jaw dropped immediately, spluttering with outrage, “I… I was building up to it!” She jolted upright, sitting back on folded knees as Kara rose up after her, jabbing an accusing finger into the centre of Kara’s solid chest, “You know you could kiss me, right? Equal opportunity and all that-”
Lena had barely started her indignant rant when Kara kissed her.
Kara’s lips were wet from how she’d been licking them throughout the evening - obviously building up to asking her provocative question. Lena let out a squeak of pleased surprise before settling into the wet, warmth being offered to her. She shifted forward, straddling Kara’s lap - her prodding finger shifting into a lightly pushing palm encouraging Kara to lean back against the couch’s arm. The gentle arch to Kara’s body allowed Lena to kiss down the golden neck that had taunted her for years. She sucked and nipped at the skin producing a full body shiver, fingertips digging into her hips hard enough to bruise and a whimper of gratitude.
“See… Was that so hard?” Kara panted, somehow still managing to make her voice gravelly and cocky.
Lena jerked back at the tease, “I… you… you’re infuriating!”
She made to clamber off Kara’s lap and make a dramatic exit despite knowing her legs were far too wobbly to make that possible.
“No, don’t go. I’ll be good, I promise.” Kara assured, hands holding her in place for a fleeting second before tucking underneath her sweatshirt, brushing against the bare skin of Lena’s back.
Lena faux-grumbled, settling her weight on Kara, hands moving to trace the path her lips had taken down Kara’s neck. “Will you kiss me again?” Lena requested after a beat.
Kara grinned, “If you want me too?”
Lena rolled her eyes, knowing it was more than obvious how much she wanted it, her heart rate a dead giveaway even if she wasn’t subtly grinding on Kara’s flexed thigh. Lena ducked forward, slotting their lips together and indulging in the wonder that was being able to simply kiss the woman she loved. There was no move to progress it further, to seek release.
It was something Lena had never experienced before, just kissing someone for the pleasure of that singular activity. There was always a rush to get to the next step but with Kara, Lena could be happy with only this forever. And maybe it was the knowledge that they loved each other and that was plenty of time for what came next. All other relationships Lena had been in, she had known had an expiration date once they realised she was beyond their capacity to love, therefore she always hurried to experience as many relationship hallmarks as she could before the inevitable end.
“I needed to know before I could.” Kara mumbled between kisses.
“Know?” Lena prompted, pausing to catch her breath and rest her forehead against Kara’s.
“That it was welcome,” Kara explained, “that you wanted me too.” Kara’s warm hands left the small of Lena’s back and came up to cup her face ever so tenderly, thumbs lightly rubbing over her cheeks. “I’ve hurt you so much by making decisions for you in our relationship and I… I wanted this part to be yours.”
Lena melted at the revelation, her entire perspective of the last year turning on its head, everytime Kara pulled back at the last moment - rocking back on her heels when Lena was so sure that Kara had been on the edge of kissing her. “I thought…” Lena swallowed thickly, admitting in a small voice, “maybe you just didn’t want me.”
Kara growled, jaw clenching, “That…” Kara stopped herself, choosing instead to take a deep breath, clearly trying to let go of her regret over all the time they had missed out on. “We need to get better at communicating.” Kara declared dead-pan.
“Yeah…” Lena agreed, hands kneading at the tension in Kara’s shoulders, an action which successfully turned the kryptonian steel pliant, “Hey, I was thinking…”
“Hmm?” Kara hummed, attention half taken up with combing her fingers through raven-locks.
“Any chance you want to fulfill teen Lena’s fantasy and go make out in my bedroom with me?”
Kara’s hand stilled and blue eyes noticeably darkened. “I definitely want to do that.” Kara confirmed, hands tracing a fiery path down Lena’s body before gripping Lena’s thighs and lifting them both into the air.
Lena let out a light yelp at being airborne, before deciding to distract herself by kissing Kara’s neck again, determined to really put some effort into leaving marks behind regardless of the futility of the action. Kara juddered in the air under Lena’s single-minded ministrations but managed to keep them moving towards their destination without too much turbulence.
“Lena, you know I want you, right?” Kara gasped out just as Lena discovered a sensitive spot right under the corner of the kryptonian’s jaw. “I’ve wanted you for… for so long ,” Kara groaned out, absolutely unashamed of the confession as she lowered Lena onto the bed, Lena’s legs wrapped tight around her waist to keep her close. “I just… I didn’t know how to handle any of it.”
Lena pulled back, hair fanning out over the bed-spread as she stared up at her best friend who was looking at her with so much blatant longing despite Lena being laid out ready for her. It made Lena’s heart squeeze and her stomach tie in knots. She doesn’t know how she missed it for so long,
Maybe it was the same reason as everything else. She’d been running from one thing to the next without stopping for years that she hadn’t stopped and really looked. And now here she was, still and at peace and finally seeing it.
Kara loved her. Wanted her.
“I know that now.” Lena promised
The longing in blue eyes eased back to something hopeful, “Okay.”
They went back to National City a week later, stopping by the tower first so that Lena could catch up with the superfriends. She started to explain and apologise only to be cut off by Brainy who pulled her into a rare hug and told her she had more than earned some time away. Lena choked up at that but managed to hold back her sobs right up until Brainy pulled back and shyly suggested that next time she might like some more company.
Kara retrieved them all food and Lena spent most of the time catching up with Esme and making plans with Kelly to take the little girl over the weekend for some bonding time.
At the end of the night, Lena made to grab her bags - a room already booked at the National City Grand - only for her girlfriend/best friend/soulmate to beat her to it. She flew Lena back to her apartment, placing Lena’s bags on the bed, before zipping around the room at superspeed. When she came to a stop, there were two empty drawers and half a cleared out closet.
Lena didn’t question it or check if Kara was sure. She merely unpacked and settled in.
She lazed about for another week - or something as close to lazing as Lena had ever allowed herself to experience. She spent the week catching up with Brainy, re-familiarising herself with the tower, planning activities with Esme, reading whatever book Kara had bought for her that day and designing the house she intended to build with Kara one day.
Everywhere she had lived, had served a purpose. Providing merely a place to sleep and eat.
Functional and perfunctory.
That wasn’t the case now. Kara’s apartment evoked a warm glow in her chest and made her feel that previously unknown emotion of homesickness when she was gone for too long.
The next season of Project Runway was queued up on the television. Her favourite takeaway menu was pinned to the fridge alongside Kara’s. A new bookshelf was assembled in the living room, slowly growing with each new addition. A corner of the open space had been cleared, a worktop put in place for her to design and engineer at as she pleased. A few plant pots also appeared, adding a flair of green and vitality - a nod to their desire for a garden.
The material objects were grounding but Lena was astute enough to know that they and everything else were not what made the apartment home.
It was the kiss and hug that was given freely whenever she walked through the door.
It was evenings spent catching up with her favourite person.
It was nights where the walls echoed with the laughter and noise of her dear friends and family.
It was mornings waking up in the arms of the woman she loved.
It was spending a lifetime in a shared space with Kara.
It was any house that became a home when she had Kara’s hand in hers.