Kara was still exhausted but after her phone call with Lena she was feeling restless and jittery. Immediately following Lena’s invitation Jess had come into her office saying their five minutes was up and Lena’s next appointment had arrived. They said farewell with quiet goodbyes and Kara, still lying-in bed, turned to clutch her pillow, grinning like an idiot, and let out a full-bodied contented sigh.
She really did try to go to sleep but her mind kept distracting her with thoughts of Lena. She was going to the gala as Lena’s date! It’s enough to make her laugh, but after some time as she continues to toss and turn trying to go to sleep, eyes burning, her thoughts start to turn for the worse. It’s little things at first, just small insecurities, nothing she can’t just brush away, but eventually they start to stick, and they spiral into something altogether too big for Kara to rationalize, until she’s convinced herself it’s too good to be true, and surely Lena just meant that she wanted a friend to go with her. It has Kara up and out of bed pacing her room in worry and frantic self-doubt…and she really just needs her sister right now. So, she text’s Alex to let her know she’s on her way and leaves without waiting for a reply.
Kara flies straight through Alex’s open window, barely takes in that Kelly and Alex are curled up on the couch, Kelly with a book and Alex with her phone, and any other time she would probably feel bad for barging in and disturbing their peace but Kara is too far into her anxieties to notice.
Alex and Kelly straighten up slightly looking over the back of the couch and watch as Kara begins to pace steadily back and forth behind them, wringing her hands and chewing her lip.
“Kara, what’s the matter?” Alex asks with concern frowning and moves to stand next to the couch but out of Kara’s pace lane.
She pauses mid step for a moment drawing in a sharp breath, looks at Alex with stricken eyes, trying to figure out what to say first or where to start but it overwhelms her, and she lets out a strangled choked sound and resumes pacing instead. Frenetic thoughts flit through Kara’s mind ranging from what a terrible friend she had been to Lena for selfishly keeping her identity secret to who could ever want to be with her when she was throwing herself headlong into danger and almost dying every few months.
Alex exchanges a shocked worried look with Kelly.
“Kara, I can see you’re upset right now but why don’t you take a moment and just focus on your breathing,” Kelly says gently.
The pacing continues and Kara tries to do as Kelly suggests thinking of only taking air into and pushing out of her lungs, she slows marginally, and eventually her breathing evens but then she feels tears prickle at her eyes. Alex approaches as Kara slows and draws her into a warm hug. She sags against her sister placing her head on her shoulder, hands tucked under her chin like she used to when Kara was a child and Alex would curl around her to block out the world. It always made her feel safe and cared for, it does the same now, tears of relief spilling onto Alex’s shoulder, her breath hitching slightly, listening and focusing only on Alex’s steady heartbeat. Kara just feels so tired, but her mind won’t let her sleep. Alex holds her tight, swaying, and silent.
After some time, Alex speaks, “How about we get you into pjs and we can cuddle on my bed, and you can tell us what’s on your mind if you’re up for it, yeah?” she asks gently, Kara sighs and nods, feeling so much calmer now that she has her sister.
After she’s changed into Alex’s comfy sweats, she presses her back into the middle of the headboard hunching and drawing the blankets up to her chin, her eyes avoiding, twisting the blanket in her hands, still chewing on her lip. Alex presses close on one side, and Kelly on the other rests a comforting hand on Kara’s shoulder, and she starts to feel guilty and embarrassed about barging in on them and her subsequent little meltdown.
“Ah, ah,” Alex says negating, as she presses quick fingers to Kara’s crinkle, “No feeling guilty, we love you and want to help so don’t go down that rabbit hole.”
Kara scoffs and is annoyed and pleased by how well Alex can read her. There’s a stretch of silence and Alex tentatively tries to draw Kara out.
“Is it, Phantom Zone stuff?” Kara shakes her head, “Is it, work stuff?” another shake, “Supergirl stuff? Like the tsunami recovery, I know that has been rough on you.”
“No, it’s none of that,” Kara says softly, “Well, maybe a little of the recovery efforts cuz I feel so exhausted,” she amends, and that much is true, she feels so weary. Kara’s been going nonstop for the past week and she feels frayed and spread thin, her call with Lena had been a bright spot but afterwards her elated feelings quickly spiraled and twisted into something else entirely. Alex hums and pulls Kara tighter into her side.
“…It’s…about Lena,” she whispers, small and unsure. She can feel Alex tense, and Kara can imagine that Alex is running through a gamut of worst-case scenarios involving the Luthor, but before she can potentially get worked up, Kelly steps in.
“What about Lena?” she asks with no expectations or agenda.
Kara’s breath hitches as she stumbles over her words, “Well, she-I mean I- we…”
Alex squeezes her and calms her before she can her worked up again, Kelly must use her psychologist superpowers to deduce what is going on with Kara because what she says next settles her racing and jumbled thoughts.
“Let’s try this Kara, you love movies, right? Think of your relationship with Lena like a story or movie, Alex and I have seen part of the movie but you’re going to have to fill in the missing scenes for us. Start wherever you think is best and eventually we’ll get to the part that’s worrying you and by that time we will have a better understanding for having all the context. Do that sound good?” Kelly says pleasant and kind, and she nods, relieved. Kara feels a rush of warmth for Kelly and is so grateful Alex has such a sweet and kind partner.
Kara tells them, she starts haltingly at first, and then the words are practically rushing out of her, she starts all the way back to the inception of her relationship with Lena, painting a picture of their interactions, and giving commentary in the moment with the clarity of hindsight on certain actions or thoughts. Kara speaks for a long time looking at nothing and no one in particular, not wanting to see Alex’s reaction, so she misses all the looks that Alex and Kelly sometimes share over her head. When she’s done, Kara feels lighter if no less tired, and no one says a word. Kelly stands to move towards the kitchen.
“Well, that was a lot,” Alex says, with more than a little astonishment, and Kara steadfastly does not want to see the look on Alex’s face in case she finds disapproval there, because she doesn’t have the energy right now to defend Lena against her as usual, as much as she wants to.
Kelly returns with a mug of hot chocolate for Kara and starts to feel the tug of sleep calling her, finally, as she sips her drink and sags further into Alex’s side.
Alex seems to notice after a while and gently passes the mug back into Kelly’s hands and coaxes Kara into a more comfortable position on her side. Kara sighs sleepily while Alex smooths Kara’s hair back, running fingers through her hair in just the way Kara likes and knows will lull her to sleep.
Kara comes out of her slumber a couple times enough to hear Alex and Kelly softly speaking, but she quickly falls back into oblivion feeling warm and safe, knowing Alex is nearby keeping watch.
Her bladder wakes her sometime the next morning and she rolls out of bed half asleep, and as she walks back to the bed Alex stirs looking up at her with sleepy concerned eyes, Kelly lays behind her, one arm wrapped around her waist. Kara’s chest clenches at the sight and feels simultaneously happy for her sister and a yearning for something similar for herself.
“Yeah, just a bathroom break,” Kara whispers, Alex nods, closes her eyes, pats the empty space in front of her where Kara slept the night before and extends an arm in invitation for cuddles. Kara slips back into bed and presses her forehead to Alex’s chest and sighs loudly, feeling her sister’s arms draw her in close. The jostling seems to stir Kelly who pops her head up to look over Alex’s head at them.
“Everything ok?” she asks sleepily.
“Yep, go back to sleep, babe,” Alex says succinctly, and Kara smiles, and drifts back into sleep.
In the morning Kara wakes to the smell of breakfast and a loud rumbly belly, Alex and Kelly are in the kitchen working in tandem and Kara takes a moment to admire the easy way they move around each other and the space.
“Good morning!” Kelly says brightly when she sees Kara sitting up in bed and she responds in kind. Alex makes her way to the side of the bed and sits down,
Alex tilts her head at Kara, “How are you feeling? Sleep ok?”
“I feel so much better,” she says with utter sincerity, and she really does. The haze and oppression of her emotions from the previous day has dissipated and she feels a thread of embarrassment for her actions, especially now everything with Lena is out of the bag, “Thanks, Alex,” she says more softly and so grateful. Alex just smiles at Kara and leans forward for a hug.
“No problem, it’s what big sisters are for,” she says as always, squeezing Kara tight.
Once they’ve finished their breakfast, Alex pulls Kara to the couch and lets her get comfortable in her favorite corner with requisite pillow and blanket. Alex settles in between where Kelly and Kara sit, passing a cup of coffee to her girlfriend as she does so, facing Kara and leaning to rest lightly against Kelly. Kara fiddles with the edge of the pillow anticipating the conversation that will surely follow and waits.
“So…you and Lena, huh?” Alex says seriously with none of the skepticism or disapproval Kara had worried about last night. Kara looks at her sister with wide eyes and nods, hoping against hope that her big sister approves, even if ultimately, she doesn’t need it, she just wants it. Alex hums, “I gotta say, I’m surprised,” nodding to herself, then an unexpected smirk appears on her lips, “I didn’t think my little sister had such good game.”
Kara chokes on nothing and her chin drops, stares at Alex in surprise and then indignation, “Alex!” she yells, slightly scandalized, and can feel a blush coming on as she smacks her sister with the pillow, and hears an accompanying, if amused, scold from Kelly. Alex just bats the pillow away and flashes a smug grin at them both.
“What? I have eyes, Kara,” she says, matter of fact, like Kara’s the dummy. It exasperates her as only an older sister can do. Kara just huffs and rolls her eyes pouting, but a smile is tugging at her lips, because yeah, Lena is kind, and intelligent, and gorgeous and just…everything.
Alex sobers and waits for Kara to meet her gaze, “But, really, what’s the issue, sounds to me like you’re a couple of huge gay disasters for each other.”
Kara glares at her sister growling out her name again, but Alex just raises her coffee to her lips, eyebrows going up in a look that’s all-knowing sass and a question, as if to say without words, but did I lie though?
“Alex, stop teasing your sister,” Kelly admonishes coming to Kara’s aid, Alex shrugs sheepishly and little chastised. “What Alex means to say is, why don’t you tell us what you’re feeling about your evolving relationship with Lena.”
Kara fiddles with the pillow in her lap some more and tries to put emotions and thoughts into words, “Mostly I’m excited,” her gaze turns to the side staring out the window, “I haven’t felt this way about anyone since Mon-el, but this is different,” she says with quiet conviction.
“How is it different?” Alex asks, curious, playfulness stowed for now.
Kara sighs, “With Mon-el we had this shared history and…trauma, I guess. He understood that part of me that no one else ever has or could,” she glances down to her fingers, picking at her nails, “After he left and then came back, I realized that I had romanticized the whole of our relationship, and in the end he had to leave again, but later I realized that I wasn’t exactly upset he went home, I was relieved, because I don’t think he and I would have lasted, our dead planets and trauma could only keep us together for so long.” Kara frowns down at her hands, and then looks up at her sister.
“But with Lena,” she pauses shaking her head slightly in disbelief that she didn’t understand sooner, at least not consciously, “it’s this indescribable connection,” Kara tries to find the words anyway, “she and I are share the same values and desire to do good. I saw myself in her. Even though my past and pain looks different it didn’t diminish my understanding of her, she wants to belong so badly, just like me.” Kara’s face darkens with regret, “I hate how things blew up between us and there are things we both did we aren’t proud of but even after everything I knew she was still coming from a place of good.”
“I’m no stranger to loss, I’ve lost so many people in my life but when I lost Lena,” Kara clutches at her chest still able to feel the pang of loss when Lena confronted her at the Fortress, “it was like losing Krypton all over again,” she croaks through labored breaths. Kara feels Alex’s hand grasp hers tightly and sees her sister’s watery gaze looking at her with such sympathy.
“I’m sorry,” Alex says hoarsely, “I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.”
“Neither did I,” Kara whispers, “I didn’t realize until recently, not until she came back to me and apologized,” tears spill down her cheeks partly in pain from past events and partly in relief that Lena had come back at all, “I wanted to be mad at her, tried to be angry, but more than that, more than anything I just wanted her back,” she presses her lips together to try and keep them from quivering and takes the tissue Kelly passes to her with quiet thanks and wipes her face, taking a moment to calm her slightly erratic breathing.
She pushes past the lump in her throat, “When I saw all the things, she was doing to make amends, I didn’t have the heart to fight forgiving her anymore, I didn’t want to” and she glances up at the ceiling to try to stop more tears from spilling, “I died, Alex,” she sobs. Alex’s tears have spilled onto her cheeks, hand griping Kara’s in an iron hold, “I died, and Lena saved my life.” Kara’s voice is watery and her smile, proud.
“Do you want to know something crazy?” Alex stays silent but nods her head slightly, face pinched, “I knew I was going to be ok; I knew that Lena would save me,” Kara says with such conviction and certainty, “I felt it in my bones, Alex,” Kara breathes, vindicated by very presence before them, “and she saved me. Twice.”
“When I came back, things were different, I thought we would go back to how we were before but instead it was like all of our interactions had these double meanings,” she thinks back on all of their exchanges since then, flushing, “like everything was electrified, and it feels like we’re heading someplace inevitable but she and I haven’t actually talked about it,” and that’s the crux of the problem Kara realizes, she and Lena haven’t had a proper conversation, it’s all just been flirting and innuendo, never anything clear and unambiguous.
There’s a long pause as Alex processes and then finally, “Then I think you know what you need to do, Kara.”
Kelly packs her a to go container of the left-over mountain of pancakes, and Kara squeezes Kelly in a tight hug trying to convey how grateful she is to the other woman, “Thanks for everything, you’re really too good for my punk sister,” she feels Kelly laugh at Alex’s indignant, hey, behind them.
Kara releases Kelly and turns to her sister, who’s all playful scowls, then turns serious, “Hey, I just wanted you to know that I’m happy for you, that you found Lena,” Alex’s tone and face are full of warm affection. Kara hugs Alex hard and tries to convey all her love and thanks in that single action.
“We’ll have to do a double date one of these days,” Alex says into her shoulder. Kara pulls away in surprise, sputtering.
“But what if we aren’t-or Lena doesn’t want…” Kara starts to argue, some of her earlier insecurities rearing up, she doesn’t want to assume that Lena wants to be with her in that way, even if all signs seem to point to, yes. That’s why they need to talk.
Alex is having none of it, and cuts her off, “Kara, after everything you told us, I’m pretty confident.”
“No buts,” she interrupts, voice stern, hands reaching out to grab hold of Kara’s biceps, “do you trust me?” Kara nods without hesitation, of course she trusts Alex, but still averts her eyes. “Then, please, trust me about this,” ducking down into Kara’s eyeline.
Kara lets her, and bites her lip uncertainly, looking into Alex’s sure and steady gaze, feeling her confidence rise, “Ok,” she breathes out, “you’re right.”
Alex’s quick grin is sure and swift, “Of course I am.”
Kara says goodbye to her sister and checks the time, it’s still mid-morning so she sends a text to Lena just to say hi and check in, then flies high above the city soaking in the sun and takes a deep cleansing breath. She’s glad she went to see her sister, and she tries to push any lingering embarrassment for her meltdown out of her mind. It’s ok, she’s been under a lot of stress and now that she’s talked it through and has a plan she can move forward.
Nia calls while Kara is doing lazy laps around the city, stopping a couple petty crimes and finding a lost dog, and asks to meet up for lunch, they agree on Noonan’s.
“Hey!” Nia cries and throws her arms around Kara in a friendly hug, “How are you? I’m sad we haven’t been able to hang out with all the craziness,” Nia says as she takes a seat, Kara’s already ordered their beverages and sandwiches, and Nia digs right in.
“I know, I’m sorry. You’ve been covering for me a lot, I really appreciate it,” and Kara does. Nia has covered for her so much the last couple months, not just with work but also superhero work both while Kara was in the Phantom Zone and during the past week while she was overseas and couldn’t spend much time in National City.
Nia waves her thanks away likes it no big deal, “Don’t worry about,” but then her smile turns mischievous, “but there is something you can do if you want to repay me.”
Kara replies without thought, oh so naïve and trusting, “Name it,” taking a bite into her own sandwich.
Nia leans forward on her forearms, “I’m gonna need you to spill that sweet, sweet, tea about your love triangle,” she says gleefully.
Kara chokes, “My what?!” she manages to rasp out after her coughing fit and marvels idly in the back of her mind that she’s gotten old enough that she’s only able to understand Nia’s slang from the context clues.
Nia snorts at her reaction, “Kara, I’ve spent the whole last week listening to the rumor mill churn out some crazy stuff about your love life,” she states like Kara should know. “So, come on, spill, I’ve been waiting to ask for a week after I saw you guys.”
Kara sputters, “Wha-What did you see?! There was nothing to see!” she insists.
Nia rolls her eyes, “Yeah, half the bullpen saw you guys, I was in one of the conference rooms waiting for a meeting, but man did it look juicy through those glass walls.”
Kara’s mouth flaps open and closed like a fish and she can feel her signature blush rising high on her cheeks. Nia’s gleeful interrogation face changes into concern and mild self-reproach.
“I’m sorry, Kara, I didn’t mean to make you so uncomfortable, I was genuinely curious, you know I would never gossip about something you told me in confidence, right?” and Nia looks so young and ashamed, that Kara rushes to comfort her, forgetting her own.
“Of course!” Kara says honestly and sincerely.
Nia sighs in relief, “Oh good, I was caught up in the drama of it, you know? I was excited to get the real scoop from you, even if I won’t tell anyone else.”
Kara looks down and fiddles with her glasses, “Well, there’s not much to tell there,” she tries to deflect.
“Kara,” Nia says softly, tilting her head in skepticism, “all jokes aside, you don’t have to tell me, I just thought you might want to gush about Lena little.” Kara’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
“Hey, don’t give me that look, I’ve been around for a minute and I could tell something was up with you guys even when you were on the outs, even before I witnessed all that eye fucking from across the building last week.”
“Nia!” and it’s ridiculous that Nia has the ability to make her blush like this, but it’s probably only because it has to do with Lena. Nia for her part just takes another bite of her sandwich and looks at Kara patiently expectant.
She sighs, and Kara thinks to herself that she’s been sighing a lot recently…it must be love, but she proceeds to tell Nia a condensed version of events, telling her about Lena’s more amorous attentions lately that are not unwelcome, and how she gave William the boot when she realized she wanted to pursue Lena instead, and finally about how their maybe not but possibly a date lunch was interrupted. If Kara glossed over some of the details that’s only because it’s private between her and Lena.
Nia sighs dreamily, gushing about how Kara’s love life is like a movie plot. Kara laughs and finds that she doesn’t mind sharing this with Nia, and maybe she did want to gush to someone about how beautiful and kind and thoughtful Lena is.
It’s as if speaking of Lena summons her, because her phone rings with her caller ID, Nia’s eyes widen and gesture excitedly for her to pick it up.
“Hi, Lena!” Kara says, and tries to reign in her enthusiasm a little while Nia’s eyes are trained on her face, soaking up every muscle twitch, but from Nia’s knowing smirk she doesn’t think she succeeds as much as she hopes.
“Good morning, darling, or-oh should I say afternoon,” Lena says, her voice sounds a little rough, and Kara imagines that she’s just woken up and is probably still flushed from sleep-…and she stops right there, now is not the time.
Lena isn’t one to sleep so late into the afternoon though, so she asks, a little concerned “Did you just wake up?”
“Yes, a little while ago, I don’t think I fell into bed until almost after four this morning, these Japanese meetings are kicking my ass,” she says with mild annoyance. “But you’ll be pleased to know that, even though these meetings might have ruined my sleep schedule, I did come home and slept in my own bed instead of the office, as promised.”
“That’s great, I’m glad to hear it,” Kara says tenderly, glad that Lena was able to get some much-needed rest. “You must have been tired; you rarely sleep for more than six hours at a time and here you’ve gone and slept for almost nine.” Lena hums in agreement and Kara can hear her making coffee in the background. Kara thinks back on her conversation with her sister and Kelly this morning and what she needs to do, it makes her stomach feel queasy with nerves.
“Listen, I’m glad you called,” she grips the napkin in her lap for something to take her mind off her nervousness, “I was hoping I could setup a time to see you so we could hang out, maybe watch some movies and have dinner at one of our places,” Kara is proud of herself for keeping the tremor in voice to a minimum. From the other side of the phone, she hears Lena’s breathing quicken ever so slightly, and Kara continues in the silence, “I know you’re super busy so whenever works for you is fine by me,” and then adds a little hesitantly, eyes cast down toward her lap shyly, “I’d really like to spend some time with you.”
“I’d really like that too, darling,” Lena says, and Kara thinks that’s longing in her voice. “Let me go over my schedule and I’ll let you know. Is that alright?”
“Absolutely!” she says brightly and feels some giddiness bubble into her chest in anticipation.
“Perfect, I’ll talk to you later, have a wonderful day, I lo-...” Lena seems to choke on her words, and Kara frowns a moment, but Lena recovers, the next words seem to rush out of her mouth, “I’ll talk to you later, goodbye.” Kara barely gets her own goodbye in, and she quirks her head at her phone from the rushed ending, she shakes her head and looks up at her lunch companion.
Nia has her elbows on the table, chin resting on the backs of her hands staring at Kara, and sighs dreamily, “You are adorable when you’re talking to Lena,” she states, daring her to argue. Kara just looks away and smiles bashfully.
“Shut up, Nia.”