The conference starts really well. She’s managed to convince one very nice waitress to leave a tray of spring rolls at her table and, even better, the table happens to be at central city’s biggest conference of the year. Which she is covering. Which means, best of all, that she gets three days out of the office and away from Snapper, who still—in his own words—thinks she’s “a boring, beamish, biased blabber-mouth” and, unlike with Cat, Kara is pretty sure that he means every word of it. And he isn’t even pleased at his own alliteration! Who isn’t pleased by alliteration? She doesn’t get it. But that’s who he is, and she just has to buck up and remember that literally nothing pleases him and work twice as hard to make sure that the article she writes about this conference will be worth something.
She’s half filled her notebook already, and she lets herself slip back into the mindset that the conference is going really well, rather than dwelling on the inevitable smackdown her boss will deliver unto her by the end of the week.
The official start to the conference is even better than the drinks and canapés. Kara almost chokes on a spring roll when she sees her stepping up onto stage but she successfully swallows and flips open her notebook.
Kara has been to enough of these types of schmoozing, meet-and-greet events to know how they’re supposed to go. When the keynote speaker of the night steps up, conversation goes on. People keep ordering drinks or stopping a server with a flap of their hand. They’re not supposed to drop their conversations and quieten and turn, all of them, almost immediately, to face the speaker and listen intently.
As gently and as quickly as she can, with many excuse me’s and oh gosh, can i just… right there, just past you, thank you so much’s, Kara slips through the crowd until she’s standing in the second, maybe third row of the crowd around the stage. She stops behind a tall man so she won’t catch Lena’s attention and accidentally on purpose drops her purse. As she collects her things, she scans the crowd. The security was decent tonight and she sees no guns, no suspicious lead-lined boxes, nothing. There’s nothing wrong, nothing that Kara can divine, but something still makes the back of her neck itch.
“It is my great honour to welcome you all to the opening evening of Central City’s 15th Annual Metals and Magnets Convention.” She pauses for a moment for applause—these scientists are all three drinks into their night and Kara is sure that, if they’re anything like the scientists she knows, the applause should be verging on raucous. A few wolf-whistles here and there, even. But it isn’t. There is a smattering of half-hearted applause at the outskirts of the crowd but mostly, they stand silently.
Kara can’t help but look to Lena’s face, and she’s privately proud at the unwavering, pleased smile she sees.
“There is an incredible lineup of presenters here with us over the next three days, from the house-hold names, well,” Lena laughs a little, “perhaps not house-hold names, but familiar to us at least.” Whatever laughter she gets at that is again stilted and quiet and this time, Kara sees Lena’s throat bob in a quick, nervous swallow. “We also welcome a number of new scientists, with exciting work to present. For a very long time, the work that has come out of these conventions has been new, exciting, rigorously peer-reviewed, and has been put to extraordinary good use in the community and this year promises to take this prestigious reputation to new heights. With a record-breaking number of guests attending the seventy-six events that will take place over the next three days, this years Metals and Magnets Convention is set to be the biggest and the best yet. And if you don’t believe me,” Lena smiles sweetly out to the crowd, “I've also been told to inform you that it’s an open bar tonight.”
That, at least, gets a loud rumble of pleased nods and murmurs and Lena’s exit from the stage goes mostly unnoticed, lost after that announcement.
Kara steps up to Lena’s side and they walk together along the side of the hall until they can slip out into the hallway. Kara closes the main door behind them—it’s a big and heavy door but she closes it as quietly as possible so no one notices their escape and Lena turns away, so as not to comment.
“Open bar, huh?” Kara asks, slipping her hands into her pockets.
“Isn’t that generous of the host?” She doesn’t seem surprised by how quickly Kara joined her.
“Mm. Or the anonymous donor. You wouldn’t happen to know who that is, would you?” Kara scrunches up her nose, gives Lena the sweetest smile she can. “I’m in the middle of an article, you see.”
Lena’s breath hitches and she stares, wide-eyed, at Kara until her smile fades just a little.
“I’m joking, Lena,” Kara tells her in a stage-whisper.
“I know Bill Gates is here.” She drops one eye in a wink—she’s been practising, ever since Alex pointed out that winking isn’t really one of her skills, that her other eyelid tugs down a little bit too—and Lena is staring at her again. “He’s not really,” Kara hurries to say. “It’s a joke. Because I know the donor is,”
Lena holds up a hand to stop her. “I get the joke, Kara.” She laughs, and her hand falls forward onto Kara’s arm. “I’m sorry, I’m a little shaken. I didn’t expect they would be so hostile,” she admits, looking back down the hall toward the convention doors. “I thought… it’s been so long.” She purses her lips, gives Kara a small smile. It doesn't touch her eyes. “I suppose it hasn’t though, has it?”
Kara closes her eyes. “Two years since he was taken into custody.”
“Only one since he was fully sentenced."
Neither of them mention the most recent step their family has taken.
“It’s not long enough for them to have forgotten, and everything I’ve done has been,” Lena presses her lips flat and shakes her head, just once, sharply. “It doesn’t matter. Kara,” she says, and she removes her hand, fingers curling just a little when she lifts it from Kara’s arm—almost like she wants to stay, wants to keep holding Kara, but that’s just silly, that’s just wishful thinking, Kara knows that. “You have guests to interview,” she says. “I don’t want to take up your time.”
“I have more than enough to work with,”
“I’m afraid I won’t be very good company at the moment,” Lena says, talking through Kara’s denial, and Kara stops and actually listens to her. “I think I saw Mr Wells arrive. Perhaps you should speak to him about his work on his particle collider?” she suggests. “You mentioned your boss was looking at ways that religion and science mix, so it would be beneficial.”
“You’re right,” Kara agrees, and she steps back from Lena. She gives her another smile in an effort to ease the strain across Lena’s forehead, around her eyes. The most gentle smile she can manage. She hopes it helps. “I’ll go speak to him.”
The relief on Lena’s face fills Kara with warmth, knowing that she made the right decision, and she darts a look around to make sure that there are no listening ears or suspicious eyes. But the hallway is empty and she can’t hear anyone, so Kara doesn’t hesitate to curl an arm around Lena’s shoulders and tug her in for a very, very quick hug.
It’s new, for them. They’ve hugged a few times, but it’s a recent thing Kara started after a lunch at a busy restaurant. They’d been squished together at the end of a long table and Kara hadn’t been able to resist—shoulder to shoulder, feet sometimes brushing, it had been a lot for her and she’d barely tasted their meal, barely been able to focus on what Lena had told her about, and after it was over and they were parting ways, Kara back to CatCo and Lena to L Corp, Kara had reached out and brought Lena into a tight hug. There had only been three hugs since that day so it’s something they’re both getting used to, and Kara doesn’t want to push so she sticks to brisk hugs. Tight and warm, but quick.
Mostly. Except, Lena looks beautiful tonight. She looks beautiful and everyone out there had been awful, so Kara can’t resist holding her for just a moment longer, and her hands slip down Lena’s back to press them gently together.
“Thank you,” Lena whispers, and in a move that leaves Kara stunned still—eat your heart out, Medusa—she presses her lips to Kara’s cheek and slips away, toward the elevator.
It’s a whole five minutes before Kara starts to breathe again, and another five until she feels steady enough to walk. Rao but a kiss to her cheek should not feel like that! It shouldn’t stop her in her tracks! It shouldn’t make her weak in the knees!
A sudden thought, ridiculous really, makes Kara pause. It couldn’t be—could it?
She walks as steadily as she can to a bathroom and, carefully, wipes with a paper towel the faint hint of gloss from her cheek. She folds it and slips it into her bag.
It’s another few minutes before she feels fully like herself again—her palms stop sweating and the molten feeling behind her sternum fades too—and she steps out of the bathroom and returns to the conference.
It’s easy to find Mr Wells, and she’s glad that Lena suggested it because she does have an awful lot of questions for him.
“Mr Wells,” she interrupts when the barrage of questions at him from other scientists pause for a moment. She gets a few cursory glances, but most know that she’s there as a reporter, and they aren’t interested in the types of questions a reporter will ask. She smiles, as sweetly as she can. Not like the smile she gave Lena—this one hides her, disguises her, where the smile for Lena was a reveal, an unmasking. “I understand you’re here to present your findings on the calibration of your particle collider? Do you have any comments on the results of your findings that showed that your initial calibration wasn’t stable in the slightest?”
Eyebrows raised, Mr Wells gives her a polite smile. “Miss…?”
“Danvers. Kara Danvers, with CatCo Worldwide.”
“CatCo?” he laughs. “I had no idea they had such an interest in science.”
“We’re interested in everything, Mr Wells, especially in science that has the potential to be greatly innovative.” Kara sweetens her smile just a touch more. “Or a disaster. People want to know.”
“I see.” His eyes glint with something dangerous, and Kara wonders if maybe Alex should know that she may have insulted and aggravated a very intelligent man who could turn out to be a super villain if he swung that way. Yeah. She probably should. “Science is a journey of trials and errors, Miss Danvers. Our first calibration wasn’t as successful as we would have liked it to be, but it’s given us a lot to work off and our next attempt is set to be far better. And that,” he tells her, “is all you’re getting from me.”
“So, the same thing everyone else has gotten?”
“No comment on the fact that government grants dedicated to your research haven’t been used wisely? Or that the announcement of total transparency in how you’re using tax paper funds is basically bullshit, given that the reports have been set out in such a way that you would have to be incredibly intelligent and masochistic to get through it?”
“Accounting can be confusing for some people. Like it is for me,” he adds with a short laugh after a moment. There is no humour in his eyes. “Luckily, I don’t have to handle that part of the business.”
“Luckily,” Kara agrees, and she clicks her pen closed. “Thank you so much for talking with me.” Her smile doesn’t reach her eyes.
“Always happy to talk about my work. Will I see you at my presentation tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
After her showdown with Mr Wells, the other scientists are far more willing to talk openly with her. As it turns out, he has a bit of a reputation for being, what are the adjectives she gets from them? Oh yeah—narcissistic, self-aggrandising, irritating, self-important, egotistical, and slimy. There are an equal number of people who think he’s god’s gift to the work and Kara can agree that he’s very intelligent and the work he’s put out is exceptional, but she still doesn’t see how his genius should be a reason to excuse his enormous talent for being an asshole.
Kara extracts herself from a conversation with three ladies when her phone buzzes.
“We’ll see you around though, right, Kara?” one of them says, and she lays a hand on Kara’s arm and smiles over at her. Kara can feel herself blushing—it’s easy to make out the interest in her eyes—and she leans a little into the touch.
“I certainly hope so. You’ve been lovely,” she tells her, and then glances to the other doctors, all smiling at them. “Um. All of you.”
“Ignore them, they’re old buzzards,” her doctor chides, and her friends laugh at that. “Maybe I could get you a drink. It’s an open bar tonight, you know? Something sweet, maybe, just like you?”
“I could get my own drink with an open bar,” Kara says, much to the amusement of the other women.
“I can see I’ll have to try a little harder with you.”
“I’ve always enjoyed it when people put effort in,” she agrees, and she laughs at the chorus of approving noises from the peanut gallery.
Kara’s phone buzzes again.
“You won’t be disappointed,” Kara is promised, in a quiet low murmur. “I’m something of a perfectionist. I won’t be satisfied with anything, I’ll do it over and over until I get it just right.” There is absolutely no mistaking the intent in her voice and Kara’s flush spreads right across her cheeks. There’s an answer on the tip of her tongue and Kara goes to say it but something in her chest seizes when she meets her eyes. They’re blue and lovely, yes, but they’re not right. And the intensity is nice, and the flirting is fun, but the whole thing feels not quite right. The doctor must see it, because her hand drops away with one last squeeze. “Maybe another night,” she suggests, but it’s empty of any real promise.
“You’ve all been very helpful. Please look out for my article,” Kara says, mostly to the doctor, but also to her friends, and she smiles at them when she leaves. Turning a corner, Kara pauses and presses a shaking hand to her heart, her other to her stomach, suddenly queasy. This is ridiculous. The woman is beautiful and smart and funny and interesting, and she tells stories about her co-workers that has Kara in stitches but,
Her name shows up on Kara’s phone and the situation hits her in the gut like a punch from a super-powered alien and Kara has to lean against the wall, hands shaking, as she opens the message.
sorry for abandoning you earlier.
drinks tonight? room 1501.
The penthouse suite. Of course. Kara shakes her head with a little laugh—she’s literally out of this world, but there are some experiences she has never had, like staying in a penthouse suite and drinking ridiculously expensive champagne, or whiskey maybe because Lena likes her whiskey, and she doesn’t have to think about her answer at all.
of course. i’m all done here. is now alright?
Lena replies in seconds.
now is perfect.
“This is, this is really good whiskey,” Kara tells her, curled into the corner of Lena’s couch. The penthouse suite is ridiculously large, larger than Kara’s whole apartment, and she has a very soft, very large pillow between her legs, one arm wrapped around the top half of it as well. Like everything else in the suite, it’s slightly oversized and beautifully soft. She loves it.
“Isn’t it? I brought it from home. This might be their best accomodations, but I never feel hotels manage to get the drinks right. You don’t want ice, do you?” she asks, pointing a finger Kara’s way. It’s not quite pointed right at her—Kara thinks Lena is one or two drinks ahead of her. Her expression is open and helpful and Kara shakes her head quickly because there is no fridge in here which means that Lena would have to call room service and she really doesn’t need to go to all that effort.
“Are you sure?” Lena squints over at her, and Kara thinks it might be a good idea to move down to the other end of the couch, closer. To reduce the risk of eye strain. So she does.
“Good.” Lena relaxes back into her armchair and sighs. “I really am sorry for my behaviour earlier. It was nice of you to come after me.”
“You needed to be alone for a second, I understand that.” Kara smiles at the look Lena sends her, all fond and relieved. Probably that she doesn’t have to explain herself to Kara. “Besides, I did have some stuff to talk to Mr Wells about.”
“Oh good. Is he as much of an ass in person as he is over the phone?”
Kara nods. “More.”
“Awful man. Sorry for throwing you to the wolves.”
“I can take care of myself, Lena,” she laughs, and like she always does, apparently, when a pretty woman stares at her, her laugh hiccups and fades. This isn’t the same look the doctor gave her earlier, she knows that, but Lena is intent—as intent as the alcohol will let her be—and the slow curve of her smile sends Kara’s heart soaring into the stratosphere.
“I know,” she murmurs, and sips slowly from her tumbler. “It’s still bad manners.”
“You’ll have to repay me somehow then,” Kara teases. She hopes Lena doesn’t catch how breathless she sounds.
It’s hard not to be—here she is, drinking with Lena Luthor, a whiskey that tastes hot and rich and sharply of gold. Here she is, in a room lit only by lamps, and Lena hasn’t changed out of her dress from earlier that makes Kara’s heart stick in her throat only now, now she’s intoxicated by everything. Not the alcohol, but the moment and the closeness, and the way Lena looks at her, and her perfume, and she considers, for a moment, how it might feel to put her glass down—the sound of the crystal cut glass on the table, the solid thunk the only sound in the room—how it might feel to slide toward her—the whisper of her dress on the couch, the electric friction of her, of the moment—how Lena might lean back into her chair—so inviting, the spread of her hands on the arms, the angle to her chin a challenge Kara is more than willing to meet—how Lena would kiss—like she has all the time in the world, like she knows Kara isn’t going anywhere—how much richer the whiskey would taste off her tongue.
And there, her thoughts shudder to a halt and she has to look away from Lena and down to her glass. She sets it down on the coffee table and slides down the couch, away from Lena.
“I should go,” she says, and Lena’s eyes widen a fraction. She sits up a little straighter in her chair, fingers whitening where they press against her glass. “I have work tomorrow, so,” she runs her hands down the front of her dress, gives Lena what she hopes is a happy smile and not one of ultimate need and want. Her heart is still beating too fast and everything in her body wants to tackle Lena, to sit with her on that chair—on top of her, her mind corrects her instantly and Kara can’t think of anything else for a good few seconds, of her hands on Lena’s shoulders, her lips on Lena’s lips, Lena’s hands on her ass, her thighs, everywhere—and see how much her imagination got right. “Thank you for the drink.”
“You’re welcome.” Lena stands, grimaces down at her feet and kicks off her heels. “Should’ve done that ages ago,” she tells Kara, and her heart lurches again because sans shoes, Lena is a good few inches shorter than her. And small. And sweet, and kind, and ever so careful especially now that she’s approaching drunk. She crinkles her nose when she opens her phone and her thumb hovers over her drivers number. “Where are you going?” she asks Kara. “Which hotel?”
“Sebastian will drive you.”
“Oh that’s, um, that’s really nice. I haven’t got a room yet but I was thinking—”
“You haven’t got a room?” Lena cuts her off, any softness bleeding out to be replaced by concern. “Kara, every hotel in Central City has been booked out for weeks. You’ll be lucky to find a motel with a spare room.”
“Well, I can just,” Kara flounders for a moment. This was never supposed to be an issue—she can fly home in a matter of minutes, which is what she was going to do tonight—and now she doesn’t know what to say. “I’ll be fine, really.”
Lena stares at her for a long minute before she shakes her head. “I’m not letting you stay in some motel an hour out of town. You have work in the morning and,” she narrows her eyes at Kara, “you’re a beautiful woman in a strange town. You’re not going out there tipsy.” She drags her fingers over the back of her phone. It’s one of Lena’s most endearing traits, this tactile habit of hers, and Kara can’t help but wonder how Lena would touch her. That gently, or not so gently.
“I’m fine, really, Lena.” She’s not fine. She needs a quick dip in the Arctic waters ASAP.
“You’re staying here.”
“There’s plenty of room,” she tells her, and Kara turns slowly to take in the large suite. Slowly she nods. She can just, well, sleep on the couch or something. It’s not a problem. It’s the opposite of a problem. Lena is so nice, all the time, and sometimes it hurts that no one gets to see it.
It doesn’t hurt at all that Kara gets to see it. It makes her feel special, and wanted, and any arguments fly right out of her mind. She knows her smile is more genuine this time and she nods.
“I’d love to. Thank you, Lena.”
She may not have agreed so easily if she knew that Lena would insist on her sleeping in the bed with her.
Sure, like Lena said, it’s a king size bed, and ridiculously comfortable—a mixture of soft and firm and Kara knows that her bed is going to feel woefully pokey when she gets back—and the pillows feel divine and with Lena in the bed with her this is some kind of a heaven. She pinches herself and hopes that if this is a new Black Mercy, Alex takes her time getting here to save her.
The downside is, Lena doesn’t stick to her side of the bed. She lays in the middle of the bed and where she had started out by cuddling a pillow, it apparently wasn’t good enough and she flings it down the bed with an adorable grumble—Kara knows she’s doomed when she sees Lena’s displeased frown—and then she starts seeking out her bed buddy. Kara shifts away to the edge of the bed but Lena must have some kind of heat seeking capabilities because once her hand brushes against Kara’s side, she turns to her like Kara is the sun and curls her arm around Kara’s waist. She’s laying face down on her stomach and Kara is a little worried that she’ll suffocate so she lifts Lena and turns her on her side. Sure, it means that Lena’s head is now pillowed on Kara’s shoulder and Kara has no way to escape how amazing her shampoo smells, and no way to ignore the small sleepy mumbles that aren’t quite full words, but it also means that Lena isn’t going to die here in this bed and that’s what matters. Kara’s a superhero, after all.
And then Lena’s hand slips under her shirt and she mumbles sleepily into her shoulder, and Kara can’t breathe.
It takes a few minutes to extract herself without disturbing Lena but she manages. She paces for a minute and then, knowing what she has to do, she changes into her Supergirl suit and borrows Lena’s balcony for an exit.
Alex answers her call within two rings.
“Supergirl? What’s wrong?” She sounds sleepy and disoriented and Kara feels guilty for about three seconds. She pushes the guilt away. This is important.
“I have something I need you to run some tests on. Are you at your apartment?”
“I'm at Maggie’s. You know, we should tell her at some point or she’s going to get really jealous that Supergirl keeps swooping in and stealing me away.”
“Oh. Okay, sure. We can do it now if you want. ETA one minute so get some clothes on please.”
The window is open for her when she arrives and Maggie is dozing on the couch. Kara can hear the shower running in the next room and she knocks on the window sill to let them both know that she’s arrived.
“Two seconds!” Alex calls out to her and Kara nods, hopping in.
Maggie sits up, bleary-eyed, and the guilt hits Kara full in the chest once again, remembering how both of them had just come off the late shift last night and must’ve only had two, maybe three hours sleep.
“Coffee?” she asks Maggie quietly, and the woman stares at her for a minute before grinning.
“That’d be great, thanks.”
Kara drags the blanket off the back of the couch and over Maggie before she can stand, clears the magazines and some water glasses off the coffee table, and stacks the dishwasher with the plates Alex has left in the sink from the night before.
“That’s Alex for you,” Maggie laughs, and Kara turns to find that she’s leaning against the kitchen counter watching Supergirl make herself comfortable in her apartment.
“Oh I know.” Kara finishes with the cutlery and the dishwasher is only half full so she leaves it off. “She’s done it since we were kids, it’s one of her worst qualities so,” Kara shrugs. “Overall she’s pretty great.”
“Since you were kids,” Maggie repeats, and Alex steps out, fully dressed, from the bedroom. Her hair is wet against her neck and she fiddles with the jacket in her hand before coming to a decision. Crossing the room, she throws her jacket over a chair and comes to stand next to Kara with a meaningful look. “Oh.”
“Should I do the hair and glasses thing?” Kara asks Alex when the staring drags on for a little while.
“Nah, she gets it.”
Maggie sags against the counter, shaking her head. “Oh wow. I can’t believe I didn’t see it earlier. I was trying to figure out who you were because you were obviously someone to Alex,”
“You were jealous,” Alex teases her girlfriend, tone so light she almost sounds shy.
“Of course I was jealous, Danvers, I thought you were best friends or more with a literal superhero. But sisters.” Maggie nods. “Little Danvers, aren’t you full of surprises,” she laughs.
“Just the one.” Kara smiles, a little shyly over to Maggie. She likes the woman, a lot, but she can’t help but feel a little awkward. It’s just been her and Alex forever—none of Alex’s boyfriends had ever been any kind of distraction and obviously there was a reason for that—but now Alex is in love and Maggie is smart and amazing and really great at her job and beautiful and Kara loves how happy Alex is, but it’s still strange to her that it’s someone else who makes Alex smile so much. And the added weirdness of having to interrupt them to whisk Alex away for secret alien business doesn’t help with getting to know her, she is always a little bit sure that Maggie resents how much work Alex goes to in looking after her. “Um. Is it okay if I borrow her for a bit? I’ll bring her back.”
“Safe and sound?”
"She is standing right here."
“Of course,” Kara frowns over at Maggie, ignoring Alex, and she lets up only when Maggie laughs. Her teasing smile is all dimples and crinkled, lovely brown eyes and Kara feels Alex swoon next to her. “Okay, we’re going,” Kara sighs, and she hands Maggie the mug of coffee she made— “Decaf,” she tells her, “we won’t be gone long”. She shoves a woollen beanie over Alex’s ears and makes her exchange her jacket for something a little more substantial and when she’s appropriately warm, Kara pulls her into her arms and shoots them halfway across the city.
“That’ll never get old,” Alex tells her with a grin when they land. “We should go faster next time.”
“You’ll freeze and mom will ground me for life.”
“Yeah but it would be worth it.” Alex peels off her gloves and tucks them into her pockets, leads Kara to the lab. There's only a skeleton crew on this late at night and the pair nod to the quiet agents as they pass. “So what am I testing?”
Kara wordlessly hands her a folded square of tissue paper. “Can you run tests on this? I think we’re looking for a paralytic agent of some kind.”
“Wow, okay. Science conventions are suddenly a lot more fun for you, hey?”
Annoyingly—thankfully, really, because it’s early and Lena is going to be waking up soon and Kara really has to get back to Central City—the test doesn’t take very long and Alex returns with an odd look on her face.
“It’s just lip gloss,” she tells her, and Kara nods.
“Why did you think it had paralytic agents, exactly?”
“I didn’t—I just—” Kara huffs and shakes her head, jumps down off the bench. “Nevermind, I just had to check. I'll see you after the convention, okay?”
“Hold on, you have to fly me home!” Kara pauses in the doorway and she hears Alex wince behind her. “I mean, back to Maggie’s place. Shut up, you know what I meant.”
“You said drop me home,” she teases, and Alex groans. “You’re at home with Maggie, you love her.”
“Kara, I swear to god, if you don’t stop I’m going to ask you whose lip gloss it was and why you think you were paralysed.” Kara stops immediately and Alex pulls her gloves back on in two rough tugs. “And trust me when I say, I already know the who and I'm pretty sure I know the why so you would be in for the most embarrassing conversation of your life.”
“Fine.” Alex walks with her to the sliding doors and grins. “Faster this time?”
“Don’t you dare tell Eliza.”
They’re almost to Maggie’s apartment when Kara says, “I really like her, you know.”
“Lena?” Alex winces when Kara’s arms tighten around her.
“Yeah. So if you, I don’t know, if you want to bring her to game night or we could go out to dinner or something if you don’t want to come out to everyone,”
“That would be cool,” Alex says really quietly, and her grip around Kara’s waist loosens and slips up around her shoulders until she’s hugging her sister. “Thank you.”
“I’m only saying that because I have to leave to get back to Central City and you’re going to have to answer all of Maggie’s ten billion questions about me,” she laughs, and Alex groans. They land lightly on the fire escape and Kara holds Alex steady until she climbs through the open window. She doesn’t follow, just waits there until Alex turns back to her. “You know I do mean it though. All I want is for you to be happy.”
Alex nods, leans against the window frame. “I am. I really am.” She rolls her eyes when Kara beams at that. “You know I want the same for you,” she says, very nonchalantly peeling off her gloves, and jacket, and beanie and toeing off her boots. Kara nods. “Good. Better fly back to Lena, then,” she says, with an all too knowing look in her eyes, and Kara nods again.
Kara makes slow loops around National City until the sun starts to rise and only then does she make her way back to Lena’s hotel room. She makes one quick stop at a bakery, just starting to open, and a wide-eyed employee lets her in and doesn’t seem to hear even one of Kara’s many apologies.
“I know you’re not technically open yet,” she says, “and I'm sorry but I’m really hungry and your danishes smell amazing.”
“How many would you like?” the girl says, a little breathless, but already pulling out a box for her.
“Three of the blueberry, please,” Kara tells her and she crouches down to look through the display window. She’s careful not to touch because she had a coffee job too when she was younger and she knows how annoying it is to keep cleaning streaked fingerprints off the glass. “And um,” she grumbles down at her cape and slings it over her lap. “Mm, three of the strawberry, and three of the snails.” She smiles up at the girl, who just nods and starts piling them into the box. “Also, can I please get four of the plain croissants, and two of the chocolate ones. And can you put the plain croissants in a separate box for me? Thank you so much.”
“Would you, um, like to join our loyalty club?” the girl asks her, voice shaking only a bit. “With every nine pastries you buy, you get the tenth one free. So you’ll already get one free and just, um, two more until your next free purchase.”
“That would be great,” Kara agrees, and she gets her money a little awkwardly from the compartment in her boot.
“I mean, I guess you can’t just stick some spare cash in your bra like the rest of us,” she laughs, and Kara grins over at her. She gets back a note and a handful of coins and, with a shrug, pours all of it into the tip jar. Notes included. “Oh. Thank you!” she calls after Kara, but she’s already gone.
Luckily, the balcony door didn’t lock behind her and Kara slips into the suite and changes into an outfit more appropriate for Kara Danvers. The shower is running and Kara hurries outside to set the balcony table, and then dashes off into the gardens far below. It’s tempting fate but she thinks it’s better than tempting anything else. Plus, there are some lovely flowers and they look very pretty when she slips them into a tall water glass and puts the makeshift vase into the centre of the table.
“Oh,” Kara hears from behind her and she spins to see Lena in the doorway. She’s in her comfortable clothes, leggings and a t-shirt, and she’s managed to get most of her wet hair up into a bun but there is one strand clinging to her neck that Kara can’t take her eyes off. “Kara, this is beautiful. I thought,” she bites her lip and shakes her head. “This is beautiful,” she says again and Kara nods.
“I wanted to thank you. For letting me stay.”
“You don’t need to do that.” Lena sounds disapproving, but she walks out to join her and lays her hand on Kara’s hip. The same hip she’d grazed her nails against the night before, in her sleep, and Kara feels her body so rigid and hot, hot all over. “But it’s lovely all the same,” she hears Lena say and nods.
“I wasn’t sure what you would like but I thought plain croissants was a safe bet?” She doesn’t mention the half dozen danishes she’s already eaten, so when Lena reaches up and drags her thumb along the corner of Kara’s lips, Kara flushes hotter.
“Looks like you’ve already indulged a little this morning,” she teases.
“I love danishes. Croissants are lovely, but I do like something a little sweeter to start my day off right.” There’s nothing inherently seductive about the words, nothing at all. Kara is imagining the heat behind them. She sinks, weak-kneed, down into her chair and manages a smile.
“There are some left,” Kara whispers, and Lena’s face lights up. She flips open the lid and hums, pleased, when she sees the treats.
“Excellent. And coffee too?” Lena sips from her cup and leans back into her chair, tucks her feet up to the side. Her eyes roll back in her head and she sighs for a long time, sounding very pleased. “Kara,” she groans, “this is too kind of you.”
There is no power on earth that could unstick the words from Kara’s too-dry mouth, so she makes do with smiling over the lid of her own coffee and giving Lena a small shrug and a shake of her head. It’s nothing less than Lena deserves, it’s far less than what Kara would do for her. Those aren’t things she can say to her.
Happily, the way Lena overwhelms her fades. Just as it always does as she readjusts to her presence. Not that she doesn’t feel it still, but it’s easier to talk and to be herself.
Kara recounts some of the stories she had learned the night before—her favourite was from the doctor with the soft hands and the flirty eyes, but she doesn’t mention that part to Lena. Just how she had been hiring a new intern for one of her laboratories and one man had walked in and asked her for a coffee.
“No,” Lena groans, tilting her head back. “He didn’t.”
“He did. He said he had a very important meeting to get to and wouldn’t she ‘be a dear and get a nice hot one for him’.”
“Oh that’s disgusting.”
“I know! It’s not even a very clever come-on,” Kara snorts, and Lena grins over at her.
“Yes, because that’s the terrible part. Not the blatant misogyny.”
“No, of course the blatant misogyny is the worst bit, but I think that if someone is going to flirt with someone, they should at least put some thought into it. You know?”
“Well, that's because he was sexually harassing her, not flirting, but that's irrelevant. I want to know, what would you would have said to her?"
Kara grins. “Hi, I’m here for my appointment. Do you know where I can find a Doctor Fitzgerald?”
Lena rolls her eyes. “You know what I meant. If you were going to flirt with her.” Kara thinks guilty back to the moment when she did exactly that and it must show on her face because Lena takes one look at her and starts to grin with too many teeth. “My, my. Kara Danvers, what did you say?”
“Okay, technically she flirted with me,” Kara corrects her and Lena shrugs.
“Naturally, who wouldn’t?”
The casual comment makes Kara fumble with her plate and it clatters down onto the table. It’s too loud for their peaceful morning and Kara looks away, embarrassed, until Lena touches her toes to Kara’s ankle and nudges her.
“Was she pretty?”
Kara shrugs, nods. “Yes.”
“And a doctor, you said?”
“Yes. In mechanical engineering and medicine.”
“Well, how impressive.” Lena’s smirk is wide and red and very practiced. Kara pretends she doesn’t see the calculating look that’s being sent her way and fiddles instead with her second croissant, taking her time to chose between the jams. “Will you be seeing her again?”
“I've got everything I need from her,” Kara says, and she’s talking about the comments for her article but also, even if Lena doesn’t know it, she can’t help but reassure the other woman that she’s not going anywhere.
“Hmm.” Lena runs a hand through her hair. “I must admit, I was getting jealous there for a moment.” Kara’s hand stops halfway to her mouth, croissant drooping under the weight of the strawberry jam. “I don’t know how I would feel about you interviewing someone else more than once. That’s our thing, don’t you think?”
Kara nods dumbly. For the first time, she thinks maybe Lena might be hinting at more than she’s saying, just like Kara. But for the life of her, she can’t decide what it could be.
Kara eats her way slowly through the breakfast. She glances occasionally over at Lena, but she ordered them both another coffee from room service and seems perfectly happy to nap in her chair, head tilted up toward the sun. She’s brushed her hair out of its bun to help it dry and Kara sighs a little dreamily when she thinks about running her fingers through it, braiding it for her, slipping her fingers into it and holding tight as Lena runs her tongue up her neck and—
“You have to share that danish with me,” Lena demands, voice low and throaty. “You have the strangest look on your face.”
"Mhm. Positively ravenous.”
Kara swallows hard and hands over her plate. She licks the sweet custard from the corner of her mouth as she watches Lena’s lips close over the pastry, shifts in her seat when she hears the quiet groan.
“Text me the address of this bakery, won’t you? This is divine, I hope they cater.”
Kara nods dumbly and accepts the plate back. She looks down at the spot where Lena had taken a bite and wonders how she’s supposed to eat something Lena’s lips have touched. This is too much for her heart to handle. She puts her plate on the table and reaches for her water.
They sit in silence for a while more—it’s bound to be a hectic day and it really is very pleasant out on the balcony. Kara can hear that there aren’t many people awake yet, even the city is taking it’s time to get into gear.
She slips her phone from her pocket when Lena curls her fingers around her mug and lifts it to her lips. Kara takes several photos of her happy smile, the flower from the vase Lena has tucked behind her ear, and she smiles down at it before assigning it as her wallpaper.
“For your article?” Lena asks lazily. Kara looks up, eyebrows high.
“The photo.” She gestures toward Kara’s phone. In the same move, she reaches up to adjust her flower. “Did you get a good one, at least?”
“Um, yeah I did.” Kara cups her phone in her hands. “But it’s not—it’s for me,” she says softly. “Is that okay?” She turns it around, holds it out so Lena can see her wallpaper, herself. It’s a nice photo. It makes Kara happy, seeing Lena so at ease, and even if everyone was rude last night Kara can see that she’s treating this conference as a kind of miniature vacation. It makes her so happy to see that, and the photo is just everything Kara cares for in her friend. Her enjoyment of such simple things, like coffee. That she likes the sun too. The way she looks in her comfortable clothes. Her sometimes goofy humour in her pleased little smirk, a little higher on one side. The sweet flowers in her hair. It all makes Kara so happy, but she isn’t about to admit that to Lena, not when they’re just friends, not when Lena can’t possibly ever know about the small, small crush she’s been nursing for a few months.
Lena takes her phone and smiles down at the picture.
“Oh, that’s quite a nice photo actually.”
“I thought so.” The comment, for whatever reason, sends Lena’s eyes darting up to meet Kara’s and they sit like that for a long moment. “Is it okay?” Kara asks again, and Lena lifts her eyebrows, clears her throat, pulled clean out of the moment.
“Yes. Yes, of course. Send it to me?”
“Sure. Or you could take one of me,” Kara suggests, with a grin. “That way— hey!” she gasps, unprepared for the smooth, and very fast, click of Lena’s phone. “I wasn’t ready!”
“Mine was candid,” Lena returns with a laugh. “And besides, I have the feeling that it’s going to turn out—yes,” she sighs, not sadly but Kara can’t tell exactly what that sigh is supposed to mean. “Beautiful.” She turns her phone and Kara can’t see what she means—she’s just grinning over at Lena, and Rao there are croissant flakes on her pyjama shirt and a smudge of blueberry on her top lip. Damn Apple for putting such good cameras in their phones.
“I have food on my face, Lena.”
“A true representation,” is all Lena says, a little dry, and Kara laughs. “Do you truly mind? I won’t use it if you do.”
“No, I guess I don’t,” kara has to say, because she likes the idea of being Lena’s background, of them being each others backgrounds, and she loves the way Lena smiles when she looks at it. A little amused, but mostly just happy. “Go for it.”
Before they go their separate ways—Lena to prep for her speech, Kara to sit through four of her own—Lena presses a key card into her hand.
“Don’t go looking for other accommodation, Kara. There really is no point.”
Kara, like an idiot, just smirks down at her and leans in to talk into her ear, careful not to let her lips touch skin. “You just want me in your bed again, Miss Luthor,” she says, because the morning had obviously turned her stupid with happiness. Lena’s hand clenches tightly, almost painfully, around her wrist, and then she is stepping away from Kara with a look she can’t decipher.
“Say you will. I do so love getting my way,” she murmurs, and she drags her fingers down Kara’s wrist and away. Such a small touch, but enough to boil Kara’s brains to mush. She nods, and it’s all worth it when Lena smiles at her. “My presentation is over at two and I know you finish at four. We should have tea then, in the restaurant. They do an exquisite High Tea.” Kara nods again. “Beautiful. See you then.” Her lips brush over Kara’s cheek for the second time in as many days and Lena really should warn her before she does it because she’s left as she was the day before, alone in an empty hallway, Lena’s perfume swirling around her, and the only feeling in her body buzzing in her cheek.
That sensation got her through the first hour. And an early lunch. It quickly fades heading into the second presentation and Kara can only stay awake through this droning, boring, basic science by forcing herself to take extensive notes. She’s careful not to extrapolate anything they’re talking about, knowing she won’t be able to separate what they mentioned and what she knows about the subject, and she ends up with a near perfect transcription of the speech.
At two, milling around with everyone else outside Hall Three for the next presentation, Kara sends Lena a message. She flexes her other hand—not that she can get writing cramps, but it’s second nature now to perform like this. Like she can get cramps, and aches, and uncomfortable. Like she’s human.
congrats on finishing ur presentation!!!! how did it go? this one is so boring!!!!!
She waits for five minutes for a reply but it doesn’t come and she gnaws on her lip. She has to turn her phone off before they go in, but it’s not like Lena not to reply. And they’d been so hostile to her the night before. Kara follows the pang of nerves and lets her hearing spread out until she can pinpoint Lena, talking sharply into her phone. She doesn’t sound happy—not upset, but not happy—but Kara gathers quickly that someone made a mistake at L Corp and she pulls back her hearing, not wanting to eavesdrop. Happy in the knowledge that Lena is okay, she takes her place and prepares for utter boredom.
As soon as it’s over, Kara turns her phone back on and waits. But Lena still hasn’t replied. Kara tries not to worry about it—they’ve been friends for months, Kara is well aware that sometimes Lena needs some time to herself, particularly when she has a lot of work to do, and she tries to soothe her concerns by repeating that to herself. It’s a few minutes shy of four o’clock now, so she heads to the restaurant instead of trying to find Lena, knowing that time alone or not, Lena wouldn’t cancel on a date. A lunch date. High Tea date. Not a date date.
Kara fiddles with her phone, uncomfortable as she stands alone outside the restaurant waiting for her. More so as each minute ticks past four.
“Not much of a science girl, huh?”
Kara only realises that he’s talking to her when he leans forward, just into her space. She stares at him for a moment and then shakes her head. “I'm sorry, what was that?”
He waves off her apology with a perfect smile and a flick of his hand. “I said, not much for science? I saw you,” he explains. “In the last presentation. You could barely stay awake.”
Kara wonders what he might say if she tells him that she had learned everything they were talking about in this conference when she was in their equivalent of second grade. It’s almost tempting enough to wipe off the persistently, insistently charming smile, but she refrains.
“I’m just here as a reporter,” she tells him.
“Ah.” he nods knowingly. “Well, if you need any help translating that science mumbo jumbo, I’d be happy to help.”
Kara gives him a thin smile. “That’s what google is for though, right?” She turns away a little, trying to listen out for Lena. It’s a quarter past four already and she can’t see her anywhere. And she still hasn’t replied to her message.
“—so many distinctions, really, and you should talk to someone who has a firm understanding of the science that’s going on instead of relying on google. It can turn out vague and almost incomprehensible when you do that. Just like using the translate tool. It’s a language of it’s own.” He steps in a little closer and Kara rapidly decides she really isn’t interested in entertaining him for a second more, not when Lena hasn’t replied, not when she can’t hear her voice. Heartbeat, yes, but it’s unsteady and with all the threats on Lena’s life, this is really not something Kara is comfortable with.
“I’ll be fine, thanks,” she says, and she turns and walks away.
“Hey, wait,” are the words she gets before a large hand wraps around her elbow. “Come on, we have tea together and I talk you through the hard stuff. I promise, it’ll all seem so much more simple.”
Kara yanks her arm away. “I promise you,” she bites out, “I’m much smarter than you seem to be. I’m not interested.”
A tall man, vaguely familiar to Kara, dressed in hotel colours steps very neatly up to her side and asks, with the utmost calm, if she would please join him. “A query for you at the desk, miss,” he says, and she walks with him.
“Is there really one?” she asks and he grins.
“No. you just looked really uncomfortable.” He hesitates. “I made the key card for Miss Luthor this morning,” he adds softly. Kara nods. She knew she recognised him—she'd spent most of the morning staring at Lena, but she does remember him. “You’re her friend?” Kara nods. “I think she might need one right now.” At her bewildered look, he says, “Not a single booked guest turned up to her presentation.”
Kara takes in the new setup of the suite. Lena has had the hotel bring in a writing desk from somewhere and she’s sitting in front of it, still dressed to kill in her presentation outfit, and working hard at her laptop.
“Kara,” she greets her. She’s pleasant, and she even looks away from the screen to smile, but there’s no warmth and little recognition in her. It’s like she’s barely there at all.
Kara sets down the bottle of whiskey she’s brought with her on the table, and the cupcakes too, and makes her way around the desk to stand next to Lena. she crouches, lays a hand on Lena’s arm.
“Whatever it is, would you make it quick please? I really do have a lot of work.”
She doesn’t look at Kara as she says it, and her arm twitches a little to cast Kara’s hand away. Kara lets it fall.
“They’re all dumb,” Kara tells her decisively. “I mean, if they really think you’re bad, you think they would sit in on your presentation, right? To know what you’re up to?” Lena stops her typing, the only sign that she’s listening. “Or maybe it’s supposed to be a sign of trust, the exact opposite. Like they trust you, so whatever it is that you’re working on is fine and they don’t need to check in on you.”
Lena’s expression is growing slowly darker. Kara licks her lips and does the only thing she can do: she continues to babble in a panicked attempt to fix whatever she’s said that was so wrong.
“And it’s, wow, it’s awful and I think they really missed out because I listened to you practising your speech and I might not have heard all of it but I know it was really, really good and,”
“You’re here as a reporter,” Lena tells her flatly. “What you think about it doesn’t matter at all.”
Kara drops her head a little and stands, silently. Lena is hurt and upset and maybe she should leave her be.
“I don’t have time for this,” Lena snaps, and she closes her laptop and stands to carry it into the bedroom. She cuts a look toward Kara like her new bad mood is all her fault and Kara frowns back at her.
“I didn’t say anything!”
“No, but you’re standing there like a kicked puppy and forgive me, Kara,” Lena says in a clipped tone that desires no forgiveness whatsoever, “but I don’t have time to soothe your tender feelings. I have been ridiculed today,” she tells her, sharp-edged and furious. Her face is pale and drawn and it makes the feverish, fuming look in her eyes all the more stark.“I have been made the laughing stock of this conference. They must have been plotting this for some time, ever since they found out I was coming, and I had no idea. I was blind-sided today—humiliated.” Kara winces when Lena’s voice is almost swamped with upset and winces again when, in the next instant, her voice is soft and smooth and expressionless. That’s even worse, even more dangerous. Kara is sure of that. “I have worked so hard for the last few months for nothing. Nothing I do will ever matter, because my family are insane criminals who hate Superman and that’s all I will ever be known for.”
“You matter, Lena,”
“Save your sentiments,” she tells Kara with a flick of her hand. “I’m not interested hearing them from you.”
She’s imagining the way Lena says that, says you like she can’t get it out of her mouth fast enough, like it’s rotten. She has to be imagining it.
Kara turns away and Lena retreats into the bedroom. The lock clicks into place and, once she knows Lena can’t see her, Kara sinks down onto the couch and buries her face in her hands.
She can’t settle on a feeling—not hurt or upset or anger or upset on Lena’s behalf—all of it in turmoil in her head and gut. It’s with numb fingers that she pulls her phone out and she flees out onto the balcony, sucking in great gulps of air.
“Alex?” she says unsteadily into her phone. “Are you busy?”
“Nah.” Kara focuses on her voice, on everything she’s hearing from her side of the phone line. The squeak of Alex’s chair as she turns, away from the room so she can focus on Kara. “What’s up?”
“I—She—” She pauses to breathe, to get her words in order, and that just shakes her more. She hasn’t had this much trouble with her words since she was fifteen and set the roof on fire after a dream of her burning planet. “Alex,” she says, because that’s one word she’ll never forget, and then her sister is counting breaths with her, calm and patient. “Thank you,” she sighs when the tightness in her chest eases.
“Always. So what happened? What did Lena do? Do I need to call in a hit?”
Kara makes an unhappy noise in the back of her throat, nigh disgusted. “That’s not funny.”
“Sorry. You’re alright, though?”
“Yes. Yes, I’m fine.”
“Is Lena okay?”
Kara glares down at the railing, trails her fingers over the cool metal. “No. No one went to her presentation.” The dead silence she gets at that tells her that Alex knows exactly what that means. “And she had two hours to get angry and sad about that before I found out and,” Kara sighs.
“And you did that well meaning babbling thing.” Alex clicks her tongue. “That must really suck for her. She say anything mean to you?”
“No-t really,” she slowly admits, wanting to say no but sometimes mean things aren’t what is said but how it’s said and her heart feels like it’s lodged in her boots and being stomped on every time the way Lena said ‘you’ replays in her head.
“Okay, I'll take that as a solid you’re miserable.” Kara can hear Alex clicking away at her pen and waits for whatever it is that she wants to say to her. “Did Lena kiss you?” she asks Kara gently. “Yesterday? Is that why you brought me the lip gloss? Is that why you're so upset?"
“No. No, not like—she kissed me on the cheek,” Kara tells her. She laughs, but it isn’t happy. “I froze. I froze up completely.”
“Ah. Not a good kisser.”
“What? No! Yes she is! I mean, it was on the cheek so I don’t know for sure but yes, she is.”
“What did she do, make out with your cheek? That’s a bit weird.”
“Oh my god, Alex,” Kara laughs, leaning forward to knock her head on the railing. “Shut up.”
“I’m just sayin’,”
“You’re such an ass, that’s what I’m saying.”
Alex laughs and Kara feels all of her turmoil ease further. Alex is good at that. At pulling her back and reminding her that the moment isn’t all there is, that whatever she felt will pass and she’s going to be there on the other side when it’s over. Kara sighs. There’s one feeling that hasn’t eased at all, not one bit in months, and she thinks now is as good a time as any to talk to Alex about it.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she tells her quietly. “My knees went all shaky when she kissed my cheek and I felt dizzy and hot and I froze for, like, ten minutes after she was gone. I wanted, I want to,”
"Kiss her properly?” Alex suggests when Kara doesn’t finish her thought.
“Maybe you should. Just… lay one on her. Pucker up and go for it.”
It’s ridiculous to talk about this when Lena is fuming in the next room. “I can’t do that.”
“Sure you can. You’re Supergirl! Pull on your big girl tights and kiss her.”
“But what if she doesn’t want—”
“Oh my god.” There’s the shriek of Alex’s chair again as she sits up straight and Kara makes a note to talk to J’onn about getting them new chairs because that does not sound the way a well made chair should sound. “Kara, listen to me. When someone has been looking at you like Lena looks at you, and when someone invites you to every gala they throw, and never turns you down for a single interview, and when they invite you to stay with them in their hotel room, in their bed,”
“Hang on,” Kara snaps, “I never told you that.”
“I'm a secret agent, you think I can’t do a search of hotel rooms booked under your name? Or track your phone to the room Lena’s booked?”
“She doesn’t book her rooms under Luthor.”
“No,” Alex agrees, sounding far too pleased. “But I can also track her phone.”
“You’re the worst sister in the world.”
“So you’re saying that you don’t want advice on how to cheer Lena up? That’s a mistake,” Alex tells her. “I have a girlfriend and I’m getting very good at this.”
“Upset Maggie a lot, do you?” Kara teases and she laughs when Alex cusses her out quite excessively. “She’s not my girlfriend, Alex.”
“But you like her, and you want her to be happy.”
“Yes,” Kara grumbles. “but I’m also upset with her right now because she was mean and I didn’t do anything.”
“Yeah, that sucks.”
“Maybe I should just…leave her alone.”
“You can come over to Maggie’s if you want,” Alex suggests, a little hesitant which means she wants to check with Maggie first but the offer is genuine. “We can get pizza, watch a movie.”
“No. No, I think I’m going to stay.” She glances over her shoulder, turns to lean back against the railing. “I have a lot of work to do on this article. Thanks, though.”
“Anytime. And hey, if she’s mean to you again, don’t stay. It sucks what they did but you don’t have to take that from a friend, and especially not from someone you like.” Alex is slipping into big sister mode and it makes Kara smile.
“Alright. I have to get back to work,” she says slowly. “But you’re alright?”
“Yeah, I think I just needed to talk about it. I love you.”
“Love you too. Email me your notes on the presentations, I want to see what you had to sit through.”
Kara stands with her phone pressed to her chest for a few long minutes after she hangs up, and finally she sighs and moves inside. She does have a lot of work to do and the best way to handle Lena is to just let her calm down, for now.
It could make the whole thing a lot worse and make Lena think that Kara agrees that she’s just one of ‘those Luthor’s’ or whatever other horrible thoughts her brain is cooking up.
It’ll be worse if Lena comes out and finds Kara gone.
She repurposes the desk for her own work and bashes out an outline she thinks even Snapper will approve of. She slips in some quotes and attaches some of her photos and sends the draft off for approval.
She’s working on her second draft—Snapper’s approval comes in the form of an email, in all caps, that just says I DONT READ UNFINISHED SHIT—when she hears the bedroom door open and it takes everything Kara has not to look up.
Lena raps gently on the door. Kara rubs at her eyes under her glasses. She feels strained and tired and she knows it’s not from working at her computer, so she’s pretty sure fighting with Lena made her more miserable than she thought it had. She looks up.
“Can I join you?” Lena asks her softly. “I’ll make us a tea?”
Kara runs an eye over her article. It’s two sentences away from finished and she nods to Lena, types out the last of it, and sends it off. She leaves her phone on the desk, on silent, and moves to the couch.
Lena pauses next to the couch as she makes her way to the small kitchenette. Sucks in her breath like she wants to say something but, when Kara looks up at her, she just gives her a bland smile and moves on.
The tea isn’t as strong as most of the ones Kara has been offered, and she takes it.
Kara shakes her head no.
“I don’t like coffee so late in the day,” Lena continues quietly. It’s like she feels it too—that one loud word, one sharp gesture, could shake the peace down from around their ears. “Keeps me awake.” She tilts her head in a practised move that lowers her chin a noticeable fraction, and recrosses her legs. Kara sighs. “I’m sorry,” Lena says, a little stiff. “Do you want me to leave?”
“No.” Kara stares out the window across the city. She frowns. “I don’t know what I want, but I don’t want that.”
She sits still for another three seconds before she blurts out, “You weren’t nice, Lena, but you were hurt and I know that about you. That you’re not always nice when you’re upset.” She glances over to the primly crossed legs, the too straight back. The purposefully demure lowering of her chin. It makes something boil inside Kara, some little part of her that thinks of a young Lena and forced apologies. “I know I don’t want you to be anyone else with me. I just want Lena.”
Lena stares over at her for some time before she asks, coolly, “And you think you know who that is?”
“I'm a pretty good judge of character, I think I can guess.”
Lena loses the flat expression. She doesn’t gain much, but her face relaxes and the corners of her mouth ease. That’s good enough for now.
“Do you want to sit with me?” Kara offers, and she unfolds the blanket next to her, throws it over her own legs. “The city lights are really pretty.” She holds up one side of the blanket and refuses point blank to stare at Lena as she makes her decision. It’s not long before she feels her slip into place next to her and Kara wraps an arm around her waist and pulls her snug to her side, tucks the blanket around them. “Feet warm?”
“Good.” It’s been hard, having Lena lock herself away all afternoon and having the tension hang over them. Kara is exhausted and maybe they should talk, but mostly Kara just wants to relax. She slumps a little, leans her head against Lena’s shoulder. She doesn’t know what’s driving the move, exactly, but her gut tells her that Lena needs it and she knows that she needs it too. Needs to see and feel the trust Kara has in her, see that she’s not leaving, that what she said hasn’t driven a wedge between them that they can’t fix. And Kara? She just wants to hold Lena and make her happy and at some point, have Lena tell her that she wants her here. Maybe that she needs Kara too.
But for now, they sit in silence.
“Pizza?” Lena suggests. “The hotel probably does really fancy ones but maybe they can deliver.”
Kara nods and, when the pizza arrives, they sit and eat in relative silence.
Lena falls asleep after dinner, slumping against Kara’s side. She doesn’t wake in the slightest when Kara slips her arms underneath her and carries her to bed.
She’s brushing her teeth in the mirror and just staring at her reflection when she hears Lena yawn and sit up. Kara steps into the doorway and waits until dark eyes settle on her.
“Did I wake you?" she asks around her toothbrush. "I tried to be quiet.”
“No.” Lena yawns again, lifts a hand to cover her mouth. “I got cold. You’re so hot, it’s nice.”
Kara grins around her toothbrush, winks. She tries not to laugh at the comment or the way Lena rolls her eyes. But it's funny, and nice not to feel so serious, and she does laugh a little and has to cup a hand under her mouth to catch any drips. Kara hurries back to the sink to spit, ignoring Lena’s very soft laughter. “I’m coming back,” she calls over to her. “Hold on.” The floor is cold in the bathroom, so Kara has to stretch her foot out from the bathmat to the carpet and then she crosses the space to the bed in a few easy strides, throwing herself onto her side of the bed.
Lena shuffles over to join her.
She looks like she wants to say something but the words aren’t coming out. When Kara feels her eyelids getting heavy, still without Lena having spoken, she makes a suggestion.
“After I—” she clears her throat and shifts a little under Lena’s sudden scrutiny. “After the Danvers adopted me, sometimes I found it hard to talk about stuff.” Lena’s face falls and Kara shakes her head quickly. “This isn’t about that. I’m just saying, whenever I was scared or felt alone or wanted to talk about anything, Alex would climb into bed with me and pull the covers over our heads and it was like our own little world. And I knew that whatever I told her, it was safe with her.”
Lena’s lips turn up, just a little. “Lex would take me to his treehouse,” she muses. Kara nods, turns onto her side and props her head up with a hand. “We lived in a mansion, you see. It had something unnecessary like seventeen bedrooms, a huge place. And I know I was lucky, I was well looked after and had anything I could ever need,” she says quickly and Kara nods again. “But that kind of a place is too big for a family of four. And it always felt cold? And sometimes the hallways echoed and I thought there were ghosts living there with us." Kara laughs and Lena reaches out, slaps her hand against Kara’s stomach. “Don’t laugh at me,” she sulks. “I was five.”
“I’m not laughing at you. I’m not!” Lena pouts jokingly. “Honest. Here, no, I swear. I’ll tell you one of my silly stories,” she offers, and Lena brightens a little. “My aunt took me to the… beach,” she says, the word falling on the wrong side of a breath, and she hopes Lena won’t hear the hesitation. "She would take me into her arms and we would go together on walks and she would tell me tales about the strange creatures that lived there. And sometimes, she would kneel down and push her hand beneath the sand and wriggle it toward me like a snake and even though I knew it was her hand, I saw it, no matter how many times she did it, I always thought it was a sand monster.” Kara remembers it fondly, the brightness of the sand, the colour of it such a deep, deep red. The way it felt almost silky, not like the grit of the sand here on Earth. The way Astra would chase after her when she ran screaming away and scoop her up into her arms. The softness of her voice, soothing her. The sadness comes, as it always does, but Kara is happy to know it’s softer now, that time is doing its job to temper the pain of it all. “Do you want to make our own?” Kara asks.
“Little world. So you can say whatever it is you want to say. We don’t have a tree house here and we could pull up the bedsheets if you want but it might be nice to have one of our own.”
“How did you—” Lena gazes at her for a long moment. There is no reproach, no fear, in that look. Just a cautious kind of wonder. So Kara lays still and looks right back. “What do you think ours should be?”
“I like the balcony,” Kara muses, “but I don’t want to go back out. It’s cold.”
“And too open.”
“Yeah.” Kara glances around. “I could hug you? Hold you and you can tell me whatever it is?”
“Sure. So you know that even if I take a bit to process whatever it is, I’m still with you and I’m not leaving and,” Kara stops. “Is that dumb?”
“No,” Lena says instantly. Her words shake a little. “No, it’s not dumb at all. I’m just not sure that I…”
Kara bites her lip. “What if I just hold your hand?” she offers, because Lena isn’t like her. Kara likes it when her friends wrap her tight in hugs. But Lena’s different. The suggestion makes Lena almost sigh with relief. Kara turns onto her back, nudges Lena until she does the same, and she moves so they’re laying side by side. Kara holds out her hand. This, evidently, is something Lena can do. Her hand is small, and warm, and Kara likes the way it feels when their palms are flat and her fingers close around her.
“See? It's good.” She nudges her shoulder to Lena’s. “Okay, spill.”
It takes a very long time for the words to come out and, when they do, Kara actually does feel like running away. But Lena is gripping so tight to her hand and her jaw looks so tense and her eyes are closed so tight that Kara can’t do it. Physically, of course, she could, but she can’t leave her. Not like this.
“Wh-what was that?”
Lena gives her a tense smile. “I said… I know you’re supergirl. That isn’t everything I want to say, I just thought that before anything else, you should that that. Should know that I know. So you could…” she hesitates. “Leave if you didn’t want to hear anymore.”
“Have I let go yet?”
“No,” Lena says, voice tight. Like she’s thinking it’s only a matter of time.
Kara sucks in a breath and gives herself a little time to think it over. “I’m not saying it’s not a surprise,” she says carefully, “because, well, it is. I thought I hid it better this time. How long?”
“Have I known? About three months.”
“Three—three months,” Kara repeats. “Okay.”
“No, it’s okay. I just gotta… understand. Three months?” she repeats again and Lena nods. “You knew?” Lena nods again. “Three months. Okay. Wow. That’s… unexpected.”
“I should have told you, I know, but,”
“Technically,” she says through numb lips, and she leans her head back so she’s staring up at the ceiling and through it and hoping the stars are going to spell out something to help her with this. Like TELL HER THE TRUTH. Or something more obscure in star language but still helpful. She's been closer to them than anyone else on Earth. They should help her. “I should have told you.” She drags her thumb over a tiny patch of skin on Lena’s hand and sighs. “I’m sorry. Alex thought…”
“It was a risk.”
“Yeah. I should’ve told her,” Kara scowls and shakes her head. “But you know. Okay. What else did you want to tell me?”
“I’ll tell you but, can you tell me what you should’ve told Alex first?”
“I should’ve told her that, that,” Kara sighs, turns her head to the side so she can look at Lena. She runs her eyes over her profile and smiles when Lena turns to face her. “That you’re worth the risk.” It’s worth the risk saying that when Lena’s eyes widen.
“I’m a Luthor,”
“You’re worth the risk,” she repeats, very firm. “And besides,” Kara shrugs, “I know you. There really wasn’t any risk at all.”
“How do you know?”
“Lena, what is this really about?” Kara asks her gently. There’s something more to this conversation and Kara doesn’t want to be the one left in the dark. “Talk to me.”
“I’m sorry for what I said to you today. I didn’t mean,” Lena stops herself. “I meant to upset you. I wanted to upset you.”
“I know,” Kara says.
“But you stayed.”
“Lena, wanting to upset people when you’re hurt doesn’t make you evil. It makes you human.”
“Not a very nice one.”
She rubs her thumb over Lena’s hand. “You make up for it. You bought me pizza.” When Lena looks like she’s about to argue, Kara sighs. “I know, it’s not the same. But I like pizza, and you know that about me, and you wanted me to forgive you so you got me something I like because you wanted to make me happy. Right?”
“So you’re really not that mean at all.”
“I was cruel to you.”
Kara frowns. “I think we both know that you’re meaner to yourself,” she says, voice a little harsh, and Lena sucks in a quiet breath at that. “And I forgive you for what you said to me. Yes, it hurt, but you beating yourself up about it doesn’t get us past it. Yes, it would be cool if next time you don’t say stuff like that but people fight, Lena, and you’re allowed to be,” Kara searches for the word, getting frustrated with her inability, because she thinks Lena is amazing and good and she wants her to feel it. “You’re allowed to be imperfect,” she settles on. “It’s okay.”
“Well.” Lena breathes out. “I suppose that brings me to the other thing I wanted to tell you about.”
Kara’s eyebrows scrunch together. “It does? How?”
“You say I’m allowed to be imperfect,” she says, like the word, the idea of it, is holy, and tauntingly out of reach for her. “My mother always taught me the opposite.”
“Your mother,” Kara repeats. “Of course.” She feels herself grow tense and ready for a fight and only eases when Lena runs a soothing hand down her arm. “Sorry. I’m listening.”
“Don’t be.” Lena sounds pleased, and a little amused. “I like that you’re ready to fight her.”
“Always. She’s horrible to you. I’ll throw her into the sun for you, if you want. I can do that.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Lena murmurs, still amused. “She is. She’s also trying to appeal to the courts.” Kara nods, and Lena doesn’t seem surprised that she knows. The DEO had told her as soon as the application was made. “She wants to see me.” Kara nods again. She’d expected that. She hadn’t expected that this is what Lena wanted to talk about, but she listens. “She’s been writing to me. And then after today…”
Kara squeezes her hand and a sob breaks from Lena so faint, so pained, escaping her like air from a punctured tire. Kara thinks she knows where the puncture is too.
“I don’t want to see her,” Lena whispers, and she lets Kara pull her into a hug. “She’s ruined everything.”
“Hush, shh, it's alright. It's okay," Kara says when Kena starts to cry, shoulders quaking with the effort to keep herself quiet and still. Kara isn’t sure what Lena needs, isn’t sure what she’ll accept, so she holds tighter to her and when Lena grabs at her tight, she covers Lena’s hands with hers and murmurs nothings to her until she’s calm. “Okay?"
“I,” Lena shifts, uncomfortable. “I’m going to wash my face.” Kara eases her hold open slowly, and Lena won’t meet her eyes but she tries out a smile. “I’ll come back.”
She does, quickly, and she shyly takes Kara’s hand back in hers. “I’m…not accustomed to asking for help. Or receiving it. That night, with the virus,” she pauses and Kara snuggles into her pillow as she waits. “I didn’t want to tell you, tell Supergirl, at first. I doubt it occurred to me to tell you. If it did, I’m sure I didn’t think you would ever trust me so I didn’t try. You might have worked with me but it would have been to stop her, not because you trusted me but because she’s worse.” Lena purses her lips. “I wouldn’t change what I did but I thought you should know that with my mother more than likely finagling her release… if I have a plan,” she says, “I’ll tell you what it is.”
“I’ll help you. Whatever it takes,” Kara tells her, very seriously, and Lena returns her gaze with one just as serious, if a little more bleak. “I wish,” she says, and doesn’t finish her thought. Because as much as she would have liked for Lena to have someone, anyone, else for a family, this is Lena. Every bit of her. And not one of her superpowers involve changing what is.
“Thank you,” Lena says, like Kara’s thoughts are writing themselves out on her forehead for her personal perusal. “And I’m sorry for not talking to you earlier. About this. It would have stopped most of the cruel things I said to you this afternoon.”
Kara nods. “We’ll do better next time. I might even be brave enough to ask you what’s wrong.”
She shrugs. She can feel herself avoiding Lena’s curious eyes, a little ashamed for not asking. “I didn’t want to push,” she admits. “I thought maybe you wouldn’t like that.”
“You’re probably right. I wasn’t ready to talk about it. But I wish,” Lena hesitates. Kara reads the obvious struggle just from the way her body tenses, hears her courage in the steady breath she released. “I wish you didn’t feel like you had to be brave around me.”
“It’s not because you’re a Luthor.” Kara trails her fingers over Lena’s hand, swirls around the knuckles and down the long lines of her fingers, the back of her hand and, flipping her hand over, the lines of her wrist. “I don’t want to lose you,” she says as lightly as she can. “I know I can be pushy and too cheerful, but it’s because I want to help.”
“I know that.”
“Good.” The silence that rests between them now is free of tension and she knows that it’s over. “Was that all you wanted to say? You know I’m Supergirl, your mom is unpleasant, we’re not going to lose each other, and I’m on your side? Hashtag confirmed.”
“You’re an embarrassment,” Lena snorts, and Kara pauses her examination of Lena’s hand to pout her way. “Yes. That’s all.”
“Well.” Maybe she’s tired, maybe talking like this has blurred the lines about what they are to each other, but Kara forgets herself for a moment and lifts Lena’s hand to her mouth, kisses the back of her hand gently. “Thank you for talking to me.”
She lays awake thinking about it.
Lena’s hand in hers. Her lips against Lena’s skin. The way Lena had look over at her, dark eyes liquid and warm. Lena leaning in, brushing her lips over her cheek, murmuring her thank you into Kara’s ear.
She can’t sleep, because like the night before, Lena feels no reservations about cuddling with her, and now she’s laying right next to Kara and, Rao save and preserve her, she curls an arm around Kara’s waist again. But to top that, she also slips her leg between Kara’s and hums happily into the crook of her neck.
The only comfortable way to lay is to hold Lena close to her, otherwise her arm will be pinned and they’ll both be uncomfortable. But with Lena’s head tucked into the curve where Kara’s collar meets her neck, Kara is surrounded by Lena—her warmth, the smell of her shampoo, her comforting, comfortable weight—and it’s slowly becoming harder to breathe. Because she’s right here and she doesn’t know that Kara has a crush—fuck it, she’s in love with Lena—and this doesn’t mean to her what it means for Kara and she’s not sure, she doesn’t know that she can deal with this. But she can’t leave, because Lena needs her. Genuinely needs her because her mother is a truly awful person and that comes before any feelings.
“Kara,” Lena sighs into her neck, and Kara freezes. “Mm, Kara,”
“Lena?” she whispers. “Are you awake?”
“Kara,” she says again and Kara sighs. With her free hand, she lays it on Lena’s back. She strokes soothing lines down Lena’s back and feels the most exquisite combination of joy and horror when Lena relaxes further into her. She feels so warm it’s like they’re melting into each other.
“Shh,” she murmurs, not bothering to keep the shake from her voice. Lena can’t hear it, she’s mostly asleep. “I’m here. Sleep, Lena, I'm here.”
For some time, almost drifting off herself, Kara trails lines and circles on Lena’s back. She almost doesn’t realise when her hand slips under the hem of Lena’s shirt, only realising when her fingers have been stroking the same spot on Lena’s hip for some time. She comes back to herself, pulls her hand away with a disapproving look.
“Don’t stop,” Lena says, in a thick voice that sends shivers right through Kara. With a gasp, Kara curls her hand into a fist and pulls it fully away from Lena. “I was enjoying that.”
“Mm, no.” She yawns against Kara’s shoulder. “Dozing.” The hand she had curled around Kara right from the beginning slips up her side, the light touch almost tickling. Kara sucks in a breath and holds it in. The touch becomes more firm when Lena slides her hand down Kara’s arm to wrap around her fist and she presses it down against the bed next to Kara’s head. “I’m holding your hand,” she says.
“You can tell me anything you want,” Lena tells her, and she returns to her position plastered to Kara’s side, face tucked into her neck. When Kara doesn’t speak, she nips at the skin there and Kara swears when it makes her yelp, Lena smiles. “Tell me.”
“You don’t know what you’re doing, Lena, you’re,”
“More and more awake every second. Do you want me to go first? You want me to be the brave one for once?” she asks, and she moves so Kara can sit up and then she straddles her and Kara forgets that she has to breathe, and also how. It makes a wicked, sharp smile cut along Lena’s lips and she leans in close. “Breathe, Kara,” she tells her. But she can’t. Fear—cold and divisive, desolating—stops her from closing her hand around Lena’s, stops her completely. She can't feel her fingers enough to open them from her closed fist. She feels the ice build up behind her teeth and stares, wide-eyed at Lena.
She can’t fuck this up now. She can’t.
Lena’s smile gentles and her brow furrows, a little worried. “kKara,” she calls, and touches the fingers of her spare hand to Kara’s cheek. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“I can’t do this,” Kara chokes out, and Lena purses her lips. She fixes her with a calculating stare. “Please, Lena,”
“I’ve got you,” Lena says, voice firm. “No matter what you say, I’m here. That’s what you told me, remember?” Kara nods. She doesn’t say that it’s different—that she would do anything for Lena, that Lena doesn’t have to do the same for her. Something in Lena’s eyes stops her and makes her think, just maybe, it’s not different. Maybe, just maybe, Lena really does feel the same.
Her breath comes out white, ice splintering in the air, and Lena leans away from it with a laugh. “You okay there?”
“I froze up for a second,” Kara says, and when it makes Lena laugh, the last of the ice inside her cracks with the force of her answering smile. “You see what I did there? Ice breath, froze?”
“I get it,” Lena nods. “Very cute.”
“Thanks.” Kara pushes so she’s sitting up fully and the movement sends her glancing down her body, to where Lena is straddling her body. “You took off your pants,” she says, and then, “Oh Rao,” because Lena’s body is on top of hers and it’s one thing to know it but it’s quite another to see it and she thinks she’s going to explode with the quick temperature changes. She feels her face flush hot and the back of her neck and wipes suddenly damp hands on the sheets.
“You’re a literal space heater, of course I did.” Lena grins. “See what I did? You’re from space, and you’re really hot.” And of course Lena has a perfect wink, the best combination of sultry teasing and funny teasing. Kara sinks back into her pillows and stares up at her. “What?”
“I have something to tell you,” Kara blurts out, and Lena nods. Her fingers swirl over Kara’s skin—it’s distracting and lovely—and Kara can’t focus. She wonders if it felt like this for Lena, when she was holding her hand, when she was touching Lena’s back. “I—”
Her pause is a little too long and Lena touches her cheek again. "You're okay, Kara."
Kara nods. “I broke your alien device. When you turned away, I shot it with my laser eyes and that’s why it didn’t work.”
Her heart sinks in her chest when Lena just stares at her, and she knows that’s not what Lena expected or wanted but she’s Supergirl. The hero doesn’t get the girl. She can’t have her. Lena doesn’t want her, not like Kara wants Lena. She can’t do it. There are so many reasons it wouldn’t work between them, but when Kara searches for just one reason to cling to, to pour all her guilt into and know she’s doing the right thing, her mind is empty and bleak.
“That’s what you wanted to tell me?”
Kara hesitates and then nods.
There is another long minute of silence and then Lena swings herself off Kara’s lap. Kara forces herself not to reach for her, to pull her back.
Lena sits on the bedside for a time, still staring down at Kara with a look she doesn’t recognise. And then, very slowly, she lifts Kara’s still closed fist to her mouth and brushes her lips over the knuckles so gently Kara wants to cry.
And then she’s gone, walking very quietly out into the sitting room of her hotel suite.
Kara settles back into the bed, turns off the alarms on her phone, and pushes her face into her pillow. She’s royally screwed up with Lena and now she’s going to cry about it and no one can stop her.
Lena must have returned to bed at some point, because she’s laying next to Kara when she wakes up in the morning. She’s sleeping peacefully—Kara listens in for a moment to her steady heartbeat and the soothing, rushing thrum of her pulse—and Kara is loathe to leave her but it’s the last day of the conference and she should be out of here before, well.
Kara’s jaw tightens and her hands clench in the sheets. Before Lena very politely, very gently asks her to leave. She would never kick her out but she’s well versed in the most polite, blatant lies.
She dresses quickly, returns the scant possessions she bothered to unpack to her suitcase, and wheels it out into the sitting room.
The whistle of the kettle is unfortunately loud, as are the way the cupboards close. It seems the quieter Kara wants to be, the louder everything is, and she feels like her mouth is pulled into a perpetual worried grimace by the time their morning coffees are made.
“Is that for me?” Lena asks, a little drowzy, and she smiles when Kara jerks around to face her.
“Hi, sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up. I hope I didn’t wake you up, that is, I wasn’t listening in on you sleeping, that’s not something that I do often. At all. It’s not something I want to do, often that is, sometimes it’s nice, but I do have alien ears and sometimes it’s hard to control, but this morning I really wasn’t trying to listen but I think I might have accidentally because of,” she sucks in a breath to stop herself from babbling her way right over the confessions cliff or, worse, annoy her like she had done with her babbling the day before.
That’s not fair of her, because Lena said she was going to do better and Kara has to trust that, but she’s nervous and it’s hard to trust anything when she knows she hurt Lena right back.
But Lena just yawns and says, “Ten words or less before coffee, please.” Then, she takes her by the hand—the same hand she had kissed, the same hand that still feels the brush of that like it’s burned into Kara’s skin—and leads her over to the balcony. The curtains are drawn, oddly enough, and Kara frowns. She steps in front of Lena, scanning the area for anyone who might have broken into their suite, but all she sees is the balcony and Lena. And, well, brunch.
“When did you do this?” Kara asks, amazed, because of course it was Lena. “It’s beautiful. That’s only seven.”
“That’s is a contraction but I’ll let it slide,” Lena says around another yawn. “Last night.”
“But I—” She doesn’t say what she wants to say—I didn’t tell you, I wasn’t honest, you were honest with me but I couldn’t be honest back, you left, don’t you hate me?—and instead she smiles and sinks into the seat opposite Lena and fills up her plate. “Thank you.”
Lena nods and sips from her mug, content to look out over the city as Kara had the night before, and enjoy the company.
“What did you do,” Kara laughs when she sees the extra table that has been set up along the wall of the balcony, “buy everything on the room service menu?”
“Just the breakfast and lunch items,” Lena shrugs. “Are you enjoying it?”
Kara looks between the food and Lena and nods slowly. “Very much.”
“Good.” When Kara doesn’t stop staring at her, chewing slowly, Lena sighs. “Are you wondering what my motive is?”
“No.” Kara scoffs. Lena waits. “Only a little. And not in, like, a bad way,” she clarifies. “It’s just that for as long as I’ve known you, I've never seen you do something unless there was a reason for it. Or more than one, preferably.”
Lena nods. “That’s true. Fine. My motive is this—I want you to be happy.” She nods decisively with the statement and doesn’t seem to notice the way Kara’s eyes widen. “Last night was perfect for me,” she tells her, playing with the handle to her mug and very decidedly not looking in Kara’s direction. “I liked being there with you, in our room, and you holding my hand and just listening. I like the dark. I like not having to worry about what you might see on my face. I liked that, I was comfortable with that. But you,” Lena pauses. “You like to see things. You like food, and the sun, and being able to see this whole world that you love so much and I thought this,” she waves her hand to the view, the table, the food. “I thought this would be more comfortable for you.” She doesn’t fidget, but it looks like she comes close. “Was I wrong?”
“No,” Kara smiles. “No, you weren’t. But you’re missing one thing.”
“I am?” Lena glances around, frowning.
“Are you going to tell me what it is?” she asks, a hint of teasing dropping into her voice once she sees Kara’s smile. “Or make me guess?”
“It’s easy. This might be better for me, but I still,” Kara flips her hand palm up to the sky, “want to hold your hand.”
“Oh.” Lena folds her newspaper and lays it next to her empty coffee cup. She stands, and moves into the chair next to her, lays her hand on top of Kara’s. “Better?”
Kara lets out a comically long sigh, eyes fluttering closed. Her free hand she places on her full belly and she nods. “Much.”
They sit like that for some time, before Kara nods, determined.
“I have something to tell you,” she says, and Lena tilts her head very slightly toward Kara. “I get scared sometimes. I know I'm the Girl of Steel but there are some things,” she says, almost wistful, “that scare me. A lot. That’s why I have to be brave around you.”
“Are these things like telling me how you feel?”
“No." Kara looks carefully over at her, and it’s hard now to hold back how much she cares, how deeply she cares for this woman. Lena must see it, because her hand tightens around Kara’s. “Like losing you,” she says, voice grave. “I’ve lost a lot, Lena. Not just my family but my whole world, and sometimes it feels like if I lose even one more thing, I feel like I’ll collapse under the weight of it all.”
“You haven’t lost me. Not yet.” Lena fixes her with a firm look. “Not at all, if I can help it.”
Kara nods slowly. Her chest still tightens when she thinks about what she’s going to say next, but it’s going to be worth it. She knows it. “You’re important to me. So important.”
Lena pulls her chair around and closer to Kara. “I know. I’ve known that you were Supergirl for three months, you think I can’t see that?” She looks nervous for all of half a second before she leans in, rests her forehead against Kara’s. “I'm going to say something now, and it’s for both of us, okay, because I think if I leave it to you, we’re going to go to best friends and then flatmates and then get a pet together and all of that before you even think about asking me on a date and frankly,” she squeezes Kara’s hand hard, “it’s not fair on either of us.”
“Date?” Kara repeats, stunned.
“I’d love to,” Lena agrees in a smiling voice. “How does tonight work for you?”
“Tonight?” Kara repeats, ears ringing, heart pounding. All she can see is Lena—all she wants to see is Lena, so it works out perfectly. Perfect, yes. That’s the right word for all of this. “Perfect? That’s perfect.”
There is an instant, then, in which Kara thinks she could quit her day job and become an artist full time instead, because Lena leans in and presses her lips to Kara’s and anything she makes when she feels like this is going to be wondrous. Entire worlds flash into being behind Kara’s closed eyes. Entire worlds, with colours she can taste and ten thousand galaxies of stars, and when Lena pulls away, Kara is left homesick and wanting.