Everything looks softer at night. Even National City – in all its glittery, neon-laden dazzle – is tempered into something that almost approaches tranquility. It doesn't become any less busy, of course, but the bustle is deadened by the very darkness that also makes it that much harder for the average Joe to notice a lone figure zipping by overhead.
Not that most of them would bat an eye even if they did notice, Kara figures; winding her way between the skyscrapers and letting snippets of late-night life touch the edges of her extended hearing like a radio clicking through its channels. Supergirl has been a steady presence here for years, and while it would be something of an understatement to say that parts of that time have been rocky, for now, there is peace. Or at least as much of it as can be expected in a city that houses a Kryptonian expat.
She's almost done with the last circuit of her patrol when two things happen at once: sirens starts blaring from one direction, and then – before she can even set off that way – gunshots sound from another.
Kara halts with a soft groan; hovering in midair and casting her hearing towards a third place entirely until she can pick up the alternating rustle of papers and low clatter of laptop keys, overlaid with the background murmur of a running television.
Her phone buzzes before she's even pulled it out, and when the screen lights up, there's a message waiting from a number she could recite in her sleep.
Kara smiles – okay, she grins like an idiot, but who's counting? - into the bluish light of the screen, and taps out a response before setting off towards the gunshots with a whoosh of air.
She's going to be late no matter what, but she's at least going to do her best to make it by as little as possible.
Kara has an unfortunate, hard-to-help habit of being late for... well, for a lot of things. It's extra impractical when she can't provide the universally acceptable reason of 'supergirl stuff' because the person she owes the explanation to doesn't know about the stuff in question, but at least it also means that at this point, she's pretty much an expert in checking for empty hallways, changing on the go and thinking up relatively plausible, hard-to-disprove excuses.
It helps that she doesn't get winded easily, though she has also learned to leave a few strands of her Danvers updo as flyaway ones when she needs to look a little harried, and does that now as she presses the doorbell to Lena's home; taking deep, thoroughly unnecessary breaths and smiling in pure reflex when the door opens and her best friend comes into view.
“All done saving the day?” Lena asks by way of greeting; a tiny uptick appearing at the corner of her mouth while Kara's heart first skips a beat, and then resumes at twice its normal rate.
She has heard Lena Luthor called a great deal of things – many of them uncomplimentary, and some unsavory enough that she's had to clench at her own hands because anything else would break from the force – but no one has ever claimed the young head of L-Corp to be unobservant. And that little quirk of her lips, the glint in her eyes and the faint cant of her head all add up to the distinct possibility that if Lena doesn't know outright, she at the very least strongly suspects.
Kara doesn't know how to respond because her brain is basically short-circuiting from the effort of wrapping itself around the idea, so for lack of a better plan, she goes with pretending not to have noticed at all.
“You have a staggering amount of faith in what yet another puff piece will do, you know that?” she says, and takes care to add one of her sunniest grins to the mix. “Not that I don't appreciate the vote of confidence.”
“Mmhm.” Lena sends her a tolerant look, as well as a smile that has a hint of something wicked around its edges as she releases the door and moves back in wordless invitation. “Well, the pen is mightier than the sword, to quote a hoary old saying.”
And that's... well. Maybe Kara is over-analyzing and Lena actually has no idea? Maybe Lena does know and this is her backing off; letting Kara tell her secrets in her own time? As good of a read as she feels she's getting on this woman, she doesn't quite know how to figure this part out, and so settles on simply chuckling as she enters.
“So.” Lena shuts the door behind her; leans on it on one hand and drums her fingers against its surface as she watches Kara slip out of her shoes and jacket with a considering sort of look. “Can I trust you to slice tomatoes without injuring yourself?”
Kara almost – almost – spins around too fast. “Excuse you!” she sputters; setting one hand on her hip and struggling to maintain her indignant tone when Lena grins. “I'll have you know I'm the best dicer, slicer and peeler in the state.” Those eyes are twinkling at her in a way that makes her feel at once extremely nervous and utterly at ease, and Kara folds her arms with as haughty a sniff as she can manage. “I can cook my own meals and everything.”
“I'm a scientist, Miss Danvers,” Lena tells her as they walk; with a sly look from over one shoulder and in that faint, teasing drawl of hers that does... not entirely uncomfortable things to Kara's insides. “I don't believe anything without proof.”
“Ah.” Her glasses are as good a thing to fiddle with as any, and definitely a better option than stuttering at the immaculate flooring. “Is this your round-about way of challenging me?”
There's already an assortment of ingredients set out when they enter the kitchen, and Lena sets one hip against the counter as she selects a tomato from a small pile of them and turns it over in her hand. “And if it is?” she wonders; voice steady and eyes curious as she holds the tomato out as if in offering.
Like the forbidden fruit from one of this world's creational myths, Kara thinks, and weighs the layers in their conversation as she tries to decide if she's more intrigued or apprehensive. All she knows for sure is that Lena is very, very dangerous to her for reasons that have nothing to do with her family name.
Turning her back on danger, however, has never really been her thing. So she reaches for the offering with a smile. “Then I accept.”
She hears Lena's heartbeat pick up when their fingers brush, and hopes that her own isn't thudding loud enough for the reverse to be true.
There isn't really such a thing as 'busy work' for Lena Luthor; not in the usual sense. All the work she does is work she has to do, though at this point she's able to delegate a good portion of it when she'd rather focus her energy elsewhere.
She still works too much – at least in the opinion of the handful of people who get to have one – but the protests are usually token because Lena likes her work and guesses that it shows. She likes watching the companies under her guidance steadily climb in regard; likes watching projects complete that can be sent off into the world to make lives a little easier. Mostly she likes how she gets the chance to have a hand in things; how she gets to learn - still, and again - and how her efforts slowly but surely chip away at the deserved bias surrounding the Luthor name.
Just... not as much as she likes spending time with Kara. So when Kara works – or moonlights – Lena does the same, but when they're both not working, they also both try to keep it that way.
The sudden rise in the television's volume – We interrupt this program – makes her gaze lift sharply from the laptop screen, and she watches the anchor rattle off the lead-in before exhaling slowly.
It's something they share, in a way. The only real difference is that Kara gets called away or delayed from having to save lives, while Lena is taken to task keeping thousands of people employed. Frustrating, but necessary, and she keeps half an ear on the news bulletin as she secures her phone; pressing her thumb to the reader and tapping out the obnoxiously long unlock code before sending off a two-word message.
Kara's answer is roughly three dozen hearts followed by seventeen exclamation marks, and Lena chuckles as she settles a little deeper into the couch.
Love you too, Superdork , she sends back, and at the edge of her vision, the live news coverage shows National City's resident caped crusader abruptly halt in midair (and maybe check something in a blur too fast for even the finest cameras to decipher) before launching forward once more. And doing five loops in a row.
Lena watches the clip and wonders – with a fond shake of her head and definitely not for the first time – how the hell it took her so long to figure out that particular connection.
Admittedly, it hadn't been easy. The hair and the glasses are hardly a master's attempt at disguise, but the near-complete personality shift? That is genius, and she's quite sure that she wouldn't have pieced it together at all if she hadn't been so consistently exposed to both personas. Even with that, it took time.
Time for her to hear Supergirl's voice pitch just a little higher with anxiety, and feel a niggle at the back of her mind. Time to hear Kara's pitch just a little lower in frustration, and feel it again. Time to witness slumps of exhaustion or relief and chin-lifts of pride or obstinacy; time for a dozen tiny facial ticks and a hundred similar ways of moving that insisted to her that something was just out of reach, until one day she'd entered the CatCo bullpen to see Kara standing across from someone mid-debate – arms crossed, jaw set, shoulders back and head high – and watched the brilliant California sun slip free from behind a cloud and outline her profile in a burst of gold.
And knew. Right then, right there, between one breath and the next, and she'd almost started laughing because of course Kara Danvers was freaking Supergirl. Of course the powers that be couldn't resist making her that much more unattainable, or leave just one part of Lena's life free of the complexities that came with her family name.
The only thing to pull her back to the present is the low drrt-drrt of her phone; vibrating against the outside of her thigh.
? is all the message contains, and Lena's laugh is little more than a puff of air as she touches three fingers to her sternum and feels the slight race to her heart; fast enough to mean that something – unbeknownst to Kara, simply the lingering melancholy of a bittersweet memory - is bothering her, but not fast enough to mean actual danger.
I'm fine, darling, she promises. Stop worrying.
The answer is near-instant and very brief, and her lips quirk in reflex. The disgruntled-looking alien head with steam shooting from its ears is one emoji she's become quite partial to; mostly because it always manages to remind her of Kara's pout.
And no, Lena decides as she strokes an idle finger across the phone's screen while the television drones on, she never really stood a chance at resisting this.
Kara, it turns out, is a good cook. That isn't something Lena can claim to have expected due to how busy being two different people has to make her; especially with one of the two people in question working for first Cat Grant and then Snapper Carr. On the other hand, she supposes that if she – Lena 'raised in such disgusting opulence that she literally had a servant for every finger' Luthor – can learn to cook, then surely Kara 'Supergirl' Danvers can too.
The fact that both of them subsist largely on food prepared by others, is... well, Kara is a busy woman, and Lena is hardly the type to sit idle, either.
Still, both of them somehow manage to make time for their deepening friendship. One thing that fast becomes a tradition is an evening every week or two when they cook – and eat – together; Lena doing her utmost to ensure that neither of them contract scurvy, and Kara persistently finding the darndest ways to circumvent her.
“You have got to have the most super-powered metabolism on the planet,” she comments one evening in Kara's apartment, and focuses on her own serving so she can pretend not to see the blonde head jerk up, nor watch the accidental, trebuchet-like launching of a forkful of chicken over one toned shoulder and into the next room. “Seriously, Kara; you eat for twelve and it's mostly carb city. It's a wonder you look the way you do.”
Kara gapes at her, and somehow manages to make even that an attractive look. “I... work out.”
“Well, obviously.” Lena touches a smirk to the rim of her glass, and maybe – just maybe – lets a little bit of heat show in her gaze when she takes the offered opening and studies those sculpted shoulders and arms; for once beautifully displayed by the simple tank top her best friend is sporting. “Anyone with eyes can see that.”
That might have been a little much, she considers a touch ruefully; watching as Kara visibly flounders for something to say, only to shovel food into her mouth until her cheeks bulge like a chipmunk's while a blush spreads over every visible inch of skin from her collarbones to her hairline. After all, she isn't trying to push.
What she is trying do is offer. An opening, a shoulder, an ear. A hint that she knows – that she has for months – and that Kara can trust her with it if she's willing to.
She wants that trust. Craves it, really; maybe as much as she craves Kara's presence or the sight of the flush tinting her neck.
The truth of the matter is that Kara is simply too cute when she's flustered. Another truth, meanwhile, is that while Lena has been commended for her subtlety on several occasions, her ability to use it decreases significantly when exposed to someone she's attracted to.
Exponentially so, in fact, the longer the individual case of exposure is. So in some ways, their respective, busy schedules are something of a blessing in disguise. Much as she loathes having her time with this fascinating woman cut short, Kara is an adjustment in so many lovely ways that it leaves her feeling decidedly uprooted. She is sweet and genuine and kind; loyal and passionate and proud. More than that, she is tactile and open. Inviting – dangerously so – and sometimes in ways that Lena can't be sure she's entirely aware of.
In ways she maybe doesn't mean to be.
There's a steady, pulsating temptation in being around Kara Danvers in general, and it's one that certainly doesn't lessen when alone with her. Not at first, and not as time passes; as they become more at ease in each other's presence and hugs become increasingly lengthy while touches grow more and more common. The temptation strengthens with every curl of fingers around Lena's wrist, every brush of a palm against her shoulder and every light press of a hand to her lower back, until she has to take a moment to remind herself that she needs Kara to take the next step in.
That she needs to know that Kara trusts this – trusts her – enough to let it happen; to show that she wants it to happen, too, and that Lena isn't imagining things.
So when they're chatting in her kitchen one night – prepping hot chocolate while the TV murmurs at them from the living area and being so utterly familiar and domestic that it aches – Lena closes her eyes and clenches her fingers around the edge of the counter when Kara reaches for the mugs in the high cabinet behind her and steadies herself with a touch to her shoulder.
Not, Lena guesses, that she needs to.
She opens them again when she hears the soft clink of china against granite, but Kara's hand doesn't move. In fact, it lingers, and the same goes for Kara herself; standing just close enough for Lena to feel the heat of her body, and for the proximity to make it hard to hear anything other than the sound of her own blood roaring in her ears while those eyes watch her so very, very closely.
Kara bites her lip, and Lena tries – really – to not drop her gaze. “Can I--”
“Please,” she breathes, and watches those very blue eyes blink once, twice, before taking on a distinct twinkle.
“You, um... didn't let me finish the question.” Kara's voice has lowered – just by a few notes – into a register that reminds Lena of Supergirl at her most confident, and the closeness of their bodies means that she can feel the nervous energy leave; can watch the corners of Kara's eyes crinkle around a smile while the hand on her shoulder relaxes. “Shouldn't you maybe do that much before, y'know, basically giving me carte blanche?”
“I've yet to regret giving you carte blanche for anything,” is her answer; a smile of her own emerging when Kara laughs softly. “And I'm pretty sure you were going to ask if you could kiss me.”
“Hm, yeah.” Kara nods; the motion of her head almost lazy. “You're right.” She moves forward by a fraction; just enough for their foreheads to touch and their noses to brush, and there's the light pressure of a hand against the side of her waist. “Is the answer still the same?” she wonders, soft and warm, and Lena curls her fingers harder around the edge of the counter and knows that she is definitely blushing.
Not to mention that she's being teased. “Kara Danvers, so help me--”
Being cut off is usually something she hates with a passion. It tends to come part and parcel with her professional life; mostly by way of snooty old men who have some kind of irrational issue with her gender, her age, or the fact that she speaks her mind with little concern for their oh-so-tender pride.
Being cut off by Kara's lips, though? That's different. It's gentler, for one, and definitely a hell of a lot more pleasant than any conference call. It's light – enough to make it clear that Kara is still giving her the option of breaking away – and doesn't grow any firmer until Lena makes it; until she curls a hand around the back of Kara's neck to tug her closer, and feels the hand on her shoulder slide down her arm in return.
It's also entirely too brief, though when Kara breaks the contact she remains close enough that all Lena can see are those eyes; warm, smiling, and just dark enough for the sight to make her heart all but trip over itself.
“Hi,” Kara whispers, and her tone is somewhere between questioning and happy as her hand flexes faintly in time with Lena's heartbeat.
“Hi,” Lena murmurs in return as she threads her fingers in soft, golden hair; scratching gently at the warm scalp beneath her fingers and chuckling when those long lashes flutter in pleasure.
She pulls her in again; opens her up and kisses her slow and soft and thorough until Kara is whimpering against her mouth. She feels those fingers dig into her hips with just enough strength but also feels them tremble, and something deep in her chest swells until it almost hurts at the control Kara's exerting. At how careful she's making herself be.
The television drones quietly in the background while Kara presses closer and Lena's arms curl around her shoulders, and it feels, some idle little corner of her mind notes, a lot like plummeting towards the ground and then suddenly taking flight.
The shooting is hardly anything for Supergirl to even bother with; just a few masked thugs with wild eyes and non-alien weaponry. It takes Kara a grand total of maybe three minutes to round them up and deposit them outside the nearest precinct, and she exchanges a friendly wave with the officers who take over from there before they're out of sight.
She left the sirens for last because... well, because there were sirens; as clear a sign as any that whatever was going on, someone was already on it. The explosion she hears without even needing her super-senses, though? That gives her a burst of speed that has Mach 1 nipping at the tips of her fingers, and she'd push harder if she didn't also have to think about things like low flight and the amount of windows she could potentially shatter.
At least her second stop is close enough that she arrives in a matter of seconds, because the sight that meets her makes it clear that those three minutes and change were three minutes too much.
The site of the fire is a commercial building. Dated but in use, and she hovers a few stories above its highest point as she scans it thoroughly; vaguely aware of the sirens, the flashes of red and blue, the yells of the firemen and the steps they're taking to both evacuate the burning building, and to keep the fire from spreading to the neighboring ones. The explosion, she notes with a squint, seems to have happened in the basement where the ancient – for Earth – heating system has its roots.
Or had, at this point.
Gas-fueled. A glance tells her that the firemen have taken care of cutting off the flow, which is probably why only the basement and first few floors show signs of the blast. She can spot a good handful of structural issues from it, though, as well as pinpoint several figures still huddled inside; trapped by the heat and a dozen other factors even as ladders are raised and hoses continue spraying.
It's clear that the fire is more likely to be an accident than an actual attack. That, however, doesn't make it one iota less dangerous, and Kara does an extensive series of rapid-fire calculations on the locations of the survivors, the respective amounts of danger they're in and which ones are the hardest to get to; all the while painfully aware of pajama- or robe-clad citizens being rousted from their homes in the newer residential buildings at the edges of the flames.
“All of them.” She doesn't consciously reach out with her hearing, but Lena's voice still comes through; loud and clear over the soft tread of bare feet. “Yes. The old commercial district to the south.”
Kara grins in reaction, pushes back against thin air and launches herself into the blaze.
Kissing Lena Luthor quickly shoots its way to the very top of Kara's list of favorite things to do. Lying to her about her dual identities, however, only drops lower with every hint breezed over and every understanding look avoided. At this point, she is roughly 99.8% sure that Lena knows exactly why she's often either late to show up or early to rush out, and Kara has toed the line to telling her several times already.
She has also chickened out every single time, of course, but she tries not to think about that. It only makes it harder for her to work up the nerve again.
Instead, she gives herself a very long, very firm mental pep talk as she walks down the crowded street toward L-Corp. She's meeting Lena for lunch, and while Kara can't exactly tell her in the middle of wherever they're going today, she can probably talk her into sitting down with her for bit after; hopefully in a more private location.
She isn't surprised to subconsciously zero in on the sound of Lena's voice from a good two blocks away. Her hearing developed this weird auto-tune function all on its own long enough ago for her to have gotten used to it, so all Kara does is smile to herself and pick up her pace as much as she can get away with. That is, at least, still quite a decent clip to move at, so it doesn't take long before she can see Lena too; pacing back and forth along the front of L-Corp – early, as always – with a phone held to her ear and a faint frown on her face.
Productive, also as always. Kara's head cants as she notes the agitation in the lines of Lena’s shoulders, and she takes a few seconds to wonder if maybe she could also talk her into a post-lunch donut.
Until something else catches her attention.
It's Kara who sees the car tearing down the street, but it's Supergirl who practically rips the air itself apart from sheer speed; who catches Lena's widening eyes before catching her around the waist, pushing off with enough force to crack the sidewalk and launching them both into the air in blur of concrete dust and confusion. It's her heat vision that blows the car's tires in calculated bursts; pushing it away from the crowd and across the road between braking, swerving vehicles, into a building site where the bomb it carries explodes in a rush of fire and hot, stinking air while the screams begin.
“Christ,” Lena breathes by her cheek, and while Kara hears her, she also hears more explosions; her head twisting this way and that to pinpoint their locations, and a hard breath of anger-laden frustration spilling from her lips as the DEO channel crackles to life.
“Stay here,” she asks when she deposits Lena so, so carefully on her office balcony, and only just keeps herself from touching or kissing her in ways that Kara can and Supergirl shouldn't. “Please.”
Lena nods, clearly shaken but holding up, and Kara wishes she could stay with her in either form but still steps back and is already over the balcony railing when Lena's voice stops her.
“K--” The mid-air spin happens with her heart lodged in her throat, but Lena's face freezes until Kara's entire body aches for the indecision she sees there, which finally softens into resigned acceptance. “Can you ask Kara to come by? If you see her.”
She nods and presses her nails into her palms until it stings, and feels Lena's eyes on her until she's out of sight.
The next several hours are little more than a blur. Of moving, fighting, pain and exhaustion until it stops; until Supergirl and the DEO save the day again, and the attackers are rounded up and locked away. Kara, meanwhile, is firmly relocated to the nearest sunbed, and Alex sits just out of reach and mutters at her tablet until she can start fussing properly.
“Lena knows,” Kara offers into the otherwise silent, empty room, and hears her sister stop breathing for a moment.
“You told her?”
That makes her smile proudly; just a little. “Didn't need to.”
“But you want to.”
It's not a question, clearly, but Kara turns her head enough that she can look over anyway. “Yeah,” she admits, and watches Alex set her tablet down and straighten in her seat. “It's pretty much a formality at this point.”
“Confirming it is still another story,” Alex cautions, and Kara gets that – she really does – but she's so tired of needing to make up excuses; tired of lying and of indirectly forcing Lena to keep up her own pretense when it's only becoming increasingly obvious that she already knows the truth.
“I trust her.”
Alex snorts. “I doubt you'd be dating her if you didn't,” she points out wryly, and smirks when Kara first startles bodily, and then flushes all the way up to the tips of her ears. “Sorry, was that a secret?”
“Well... no?” But it isn't something she has actually told Alex – or anyone, for that matter – both because it's new and exhilarating and a little bit frightening in all the best ways, and because as much as she herself trusts and believes in Lena, she's also aware that she's still one of very few. “Not really. But--”
There's a slow, heavy exhale stirring the air. “-- you've never really heard me say anything nice about her.”
“... yeah.” She closes her stinging eyes, and swallows against a tight throat while shame curls hot and heavy in her chest. “That.”
“Kara.” There's a low creak when Alex rises, followed by the soft sound of approaching footsteps. “I don't trust Lena Luthor.” The sunbed clicks off and opens. “I'm sorry, but I don't.”
And hearing that hurts more than she was prepared for; enough that there's a rush of pain followed by a hot flash of righteous anger, and Kara tenses – ready to surge up and argue till the end of time if that's what it takes – until a light, familiar touch to her sternum stops her.
“But I do trust your judgment.” Her sister is standing by her side – jaw tense but eyes soft – and when Kara blows out a hard, shaky breath and blinks ten times in two seconds, Alex's fingers wipe gently at the skin below her eyes like they have so many times before. “I'm also willing to believe that you probably know her better.”
Kara laughs – half-choked and trembling, but she laughs – and then catches her sister's hand and holds it as tightly as she dares. “She's amazing, Alex,” she promises, and smiles until her cheeks ache from it. “She's just-- she's so amazing.”
“To deserve you, she'd better be.” Alex crouches down until she can settle an arm across the sunbed's edge and rest her chin on it. “So bring her over sometime, yeah?” Kara lets her twine their fingers, and watches her lips twitch into a grin. “I wanna properly meet the woman that my sweet little sister was actually ready to fight me over.”
She doesn't lose the blush from that one until she's almost back to L-Corp, and it probably would’ve taken longer than that if she wasn't still in costume and her chosen method of transport didn't have the cool evening air whipping at her cheeks. It's late enough that almost the entire building is dark when she gets there, but Lena's office is still lit up – lamps and screens both - and Kara comes to slow stop a few bodylengths from the balcony to simply watch her.
Lena is pacing again. She has been for a while, going by the actual line that Kara can see in the carpet. Her heels sit abandoned by the side of her desk, and her attention shifts regularly from the tablet in her hands to the screen on her wall to the phone on her desk and back. Her blazer is slung over a chair with uncommon carelessness, her hair down and the sleeves of her silk blouse pushed up past her elbows, and Kara hates how worried she looks as the news channel keeps looping, but loves the fact that she listened.
She didn't outright need Alex's blessing to tell Lena – not really; not like that – but she's still grateful to have it. It bolsters her enough to let her land on the balcony with her usual ease, and to tap the window in order to announce herself before she pushes the door open.
And oh, the look on Lena's face when she sees her; the way she softens in an instant and then has to rapidly compose herself. It is at once the most painful, beautiful thing in the world to watch, and Kara has to bite hard at the inside of her lip to keep from literally flying across the room.
99.8 officially just became 100.
“Supergirl,” Lena greets in an impressively steady voice; pulling her shoulders back and cocking her head. “Not that I mind the visit, but I'm not sure what I can do for you?”
Kara shrugs, and feels what has to be at least a million butterflies beat their wings against the walls of her stomach. “You asked me to come by,” she says simply; not bothering to pitch her voice that little bit lower, nor to hold herself that fraction more upright as she approaches.
“Did I?” Lena watches her closely while her fingers curl a little tighter around the edges of the tablet, and then – bless her – wets her lips and offers an out. “I think what I requested was that you ask Kara to.”
“Like I said.” Gently, she takes the tablet and sets it aside; captures Lena's hands with her own and listens to her breathing catch while the skin around those eyes tightens and relaxes and tightens again. “You asked me to come by.”
And with that, the Lena Luthor that the world at large sees becomes the Lena Luthor that maybe only Kara really knows. The one that softens at the edges and closes her eyes, that breathes deep and swallows hard and slumps her shoulders, that curls one hand around Kara's so tightly and yet so carefully, and – with the other – cradles her face and draws her in until their foreheads are touching and they're breathing the same air.
“Thank you.” It's a bare whisper on the tail end of a long exhale, and Kara strokes her thumb across the back of the hand she holds and hears Lena's racing heart slowly start to settle. “You--” She stops herself there and puffs a laugh; straightening a little and slipping her fingers into Kara's hair with a wry sort of smile. “Well. I was going to say that you have no idea how hard it was to keep that up, but--”
“Please don't remind me,” Kara groans; both in agreement, and because Lena's nails are scratching at her scalp which is totally her weak spot and absolutely not fair. “I wish I'd told you when you first started hinting.”
“So you did notice,” comes the light needling - along with a smirk at Kara's narrow look because honestly, she's not that dense – and there's a long, peaceful moment of them simply watching each other until Lena sobers. “Why didn't you?”
“Tell you earlier?”
And Kara sighs, because isn't that the $64.000 question? “You're already in danger way too often,” she explains – or tries to – more as a hoarse whisper than anything else. “And that--” A brief pause when she has to clear her throat and Lena's mouth tightens in sympathy. “You wouldn't exactly be any less at risk if you ended up being linked to, well--” She gestures to the symbol on her chest. “-- me. Especially not like that.”
“You can't let fear rule you, Kara.” Lena's voice is gentle. “Not even on behalf of others.”
“I know.” She glances down at their entwined fingers, and takes a moment to suck her lower lip between her teeth. “I just-- kind of forgot for a while. I, um...” When she lifts her gaze again, that look is waiting for her; the one that makes her organs play leapfrog and her throat grow tight. “I worry a lot, you know? About the people I really care about.”
“Yeah.” Lena blows the word out more than she says it, but manages a tremulous smile. “I think that's something we have in common.”
Kara pulls her in because she has to; all but burrows into those arms because some very deep, very vital part of her needs to feel with every sense that Lena is safe . She needs to feel the warmth of Lena's body against her own, the softness of skin against her cheek and hairs between her fingers. She needs to listen to the push-and-pull of her breathing, the slightly staccato beat of her heart and the rush of blood in her veins; needs to press a kiss to the skin behind a nearby ear and inhale until she can pick up and identify all the respective scents that combine to simply mean Lena .
It's a whirling, wonderful, terrifying feeling, and Kara guesses from the way that Lena curls into her in return that maybe she needs it, too.
“I'm sorry,” she murmurs against the spot she kissed. “For not telling you sooner, and for all the times I'm going to make you worry from now on.”
There's a semi-breathless little laugh against the crook of her shoulder. “You're forgiven,” comes the answer. “Retroactively and in advance. Now.” Kara lets herself be nudged backwards until Lena is holding her at arm's length and surveying her critically. “Are you alright?”
“Peachy,” she promises, and smirks at the look she gets in return. “Haven't you heard? I'm the Girl of Steel.”
“You're a dork, is what you are,” is the exasperated reply, and Kara just barely manages to laugh before she's sinking into a kiss that makes her thank her lucky stars for the fact that she takes longer than most to run out of air. And... well, for Lena in general.
But that kind of goes without saying.
She's at her desk and about three quarters of the way through drafting a press release when her phone lights up. It's a photo this time; taken from what looks to be roughly five stories above street level and centered on six vans parked in a rough semi-circle that spans the width of a parking lot. The tarmac is crowded with people and lit by powerful lamps, and while the photo isn't zoomed in enough for any real detail to be visible, Lena is well aware of exactly what's happening in it.
Hand-outs of blankets, food and other essentials. Folding chairs and roll-out beds being given out for people to rest on. Assistance offered with finding accommodation or making insurance claims. There's at least one physician and two nurses on site, techs who specialize in electronics diagnostics and repair, and even the drivers have been trained in basic first aid for both the body and the mind.
The fact that Kara took the time to take that photo is enough to have a flush crawling up her neck. The second message, though, is what makes the color spread to her face.
I am so unbelievably proud of you.
It's almost embarrassing how hard those words make her grin.
The point of a community support team is to support the community, she sends back, and takes a moment to refresh the active website because it helps distract her from how flustered she suddenly feels. You're trending on Twitter again, and if the footage is any indication I’m guessing you're also in dire need of a shower.
Kara, predictably, isn't fooled in the slightest. I can feel you blushing from here.
Her phone goes quiet after that, and Lena turns the better part of her attention to finishing the draft while still keeping an occasional eye on the television. According to the live footage, the fire is starting to come under the NCFD's control; fortunate, since it's nearing sunrise and she knows from reliable sources that Kara is now pushing 24 hours without sleep. Not that she isn't a) nigh-indestructible and b) far harder to exhaust than the average human, but... well, Lena worries all the same.
The press release is done and sent to the PR department for review by the time her phone buzzes again, and she has to take a second to cover her yawn with one hand before unlocking it – it takes two tries, which she blames on how often she's needing to blink – and thumbing the message open.
Another photo, though this one is a selfie. A shared one, in fact, since it not only includes Kara – or rather Supergirl – from the chest up, but also a man in the unmistakable attire of a firefighter; both of them grinning at the camera, both with an arm around the other, and both so blackened with soot that Lena can barely even make out their respective skin tones.
Even underneath the exhaustion and grime, the fireman is looking more than a little starstruck. His grin is just a bit stiff and his eyes a fraction too wide, and Lena feels her lips quirk into a smile because she gets it. Supergirl tends to have that effect on people, and she herself certainly isn't immune.
Tony's birthday is the same as yours! the follow-up text explains, and Lena starts laughing so abruptly that she almost inhales her sip of water.
Exactly how the two of them got to talking – let alone about birthdays - in the middle of an actual five-alarm fire? That's definitely Kara's particular brand of magic at work, rather than Supergirl's.
She swipes back to the photo and settles her head in one hand as she studies it more closely; the coating of soot that makes the golden hair look blackish gray, the smudges so numerous that they're really more of a face mask, and the way neither of those things detract from the sparkle in those eyes – tired, but happy – or the sheer brilliance of that grin.
Yeah. She chuckles softly and shakes her head. Kara definitely needs a shower.
Belated happy birthday to Tony, she offers; texting with one hand and powering down her computer with the other. Are things enough under control that I can beg a lift?
The television turns off while Lena sends the little speech bubble an indulgent look, and it takes a very short time indeed for another message to pop up.
Be there in a second.
That phrase is just a touch more literal when coming from someone capable of going supersonic. In fact, she barely even has time to turn her chair before she hears the sound of familiar footsteps against the balcony, and when the door opens enough to let in the whoosh of the wind and the low rumble of traffic far below, Lena looks up. And snorts, because good God, she's a mess.
Kara sticks her tongue out in eloquent response, and it’s about as startlingly pink against the rest of her as expected.
It hits her sometimes – right between the eyes and with all the tenderness of an in-flight sledge hammer – that she's dating Kara.
It hits her in the cliché moments - a hand in her own under the table, kisses in the rain or the way those eyes look at her from over a single flower – and in the ones she never expects. It hits her whether Kara is physically nearby or across the country. It hits her in her waking hours and even in her dreams, and sometimes it hits her from no more than Kara's eyes meeting hers; from seeing that smile .
It's more than just a little frightening, if she's honest with herself. Her emotional armor has been largely impenetrable for longer than she cares to think about, and yet Kara slipped right through cracks Lena wasn't even aware existed. She peeled back every plate and undid every link of metaphorical chain mail, and did it so carefully that Lena didn't notice until she'd been completely bared.
Kara had stripped away everything that was Luthor until all that remained was simply Lena; had looked and seen and known and somehow – as possibly the only person in her adult life – hadn't found her lacking in the slightest.
That's probably what hits both the hardest and the deepest. Sometimes Kara looks at her like she’s the sun, and while Lena is familiar with admiring glances, she’s far more used to getting them for either her expertise or her looks.
She gets glances like that from Kara too, of course, but these? The ones where those eyes look at her like she’s somehow the living embodiment of everything good and right in the world? These looks are different, though she supposes that’s to be expected when they’re coming from Kara.
Kara is – in every sense of the term – a gift from above; one that Lena intends to cherish for as long as she's allowed. She has long since lost track of the amount of time she’s spent carefully and consciously cataloguing every last tell Kara has; what it means when she plays with her fingers, when her head cants left versus when it cants right, when her neck curves forward and when her back straightens.
(Really, she should have figured out the whole Supergirl thing way before she did, to the point where the amount of time it actually took her is a bit of a kick in the pride.)
She still can’t claim to know Kara completely, and there are so many layers hidden beneath that sunny smile that she’s honestly not sure she ever will. She is, however, confident in what she does know, and in using the tells she’s certain of to decipher the ones that still leave her guessing.
The sudden tension in the smooth skin beneath her hand is an unknown - it could mean anything from ‘stop’ to ‘wait’ to ‘keep going’ - and the fact that it’s coupled with a low sound somewhere deep in Kara’s throat doesn’t do much to help clear matters up.
So just in case, she stills; lightens the press of her lips against Kara’s, curls her fingers around the lower edge of her ribs and leaves them there, and pulls back just enough that she can watch the light from the television flicker across those familiar features. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah.” Kara’s reply is low and a little rough, and if Lena feels just the tiniest bit of smugness at how out of breath she sounds… well, she’s only human. “Yup, all good, just--” Her hands twitch where they rest in the space between Lena’s hips and waist; enough that she can feel the drag of fingertips. “-- different.”
That, Lena considers, could also mean just about anything. “Because we’re both women?” She shifts back the fraction it takes for her to be resting more on Kara’s knees than her thighs; slipping her hand free from under the soft cotton of Kara’s shirt and instead twitching her collar into place.
“... not really.” The smile Kara’s giving her is just bordering on becoming a sheepish grin, and it’s the seventh time she’s blushed in the last hour; not that Lena’s counting. “I, um… meant more along the lines of how intense this is. With you.”
It is very, very difficult not to smile, but she manages somehow. “That’s different?”
“So much,” Kara groans; her hands fisting until the material of Lena's blouse is stretched taut across her skin. “You’re like... everyone else ever rolled into one and multiplied by twenty factorial.” Pause. “At least.”
At that, there's absolutely no stopping the grin on her face. “Am I, now?” She cards a careful hand through the golden hair, and guesses that she probably looks every bit as smitten as she feels. “You're such a nerd.”
For a long moment, Kara simply looks at her. “Pot,” she then enunciates very carefully. “Kettle.”
“That just means it's a subject I can speak on with authority.”
A huff of laughter; warm against her face. “True. Would you mind if we--” Eight times, now. “-- maybe slowed this down a bit? Not that I’m not interested!” comes the hasty addition, and God, she’s good for Lena’s ego. “Just-- I think I’m gonna need some time to… acclimatize?” A wince, and Lena has to bite her own lip hard to keep from smiling. “Wow, that sounds awful. I just mean that it’s really hard to focus on controlling my strength when you’re this--” Nine. “-- this and I really, really am totally interested but I don’t want to break anything so I think need to kinda get used to the effect you have on me bef--”
Lena kisses her because she may just need that more than she needs air; soft and slow and long until the shoulders under her hands relax. “Breathe, darling,” she murmurs, and lets the smile slip free when Kara obeys with enough force for it to tug at her hair. “Whatever you’re comfortable with, that’s what we’ll do. Okay?”
“Okay.” Their faces are too close for her to actually be able to see Kara’s smile, but it’s still visible in the crinkling at the corners of her eyes. “Thanks, but… I should probably make it clear that this is a one-way thing, y’know?” Lena’s blouse has long since been tugged free from the belt of her rucked-up skirt, and now she has to pull in an unsteady breath when Kara’s thumbs slip beneath it to find skin. “I mean, if you want.”
If she wants. Lena lets that phrasing chase itself in cheerful little circles around the inside of her head for a moment; feeling the barest, lightest touches to her skin, the material of Kara’s couch under her knees and the warm sturdiness of the cotton-covered shoulders under her palms.
Those eyes are watching her patiently - gentle, steady and undemanding - and Lena has to suppress a very pleasant shiver because the feeling of that gaze on her is all but a physical touch.
“You’re sure that’s okay with you?” she wonders; her voice so soft that she can barely even hear herself over the sound of the long-forgotten television.
Kara seems to hear her just fine, though, going by how the lines at the corners of her eyes deepen. “I’m sure.” Her hands now slip fully under Lena’s blouse, and the heat of her palms is almost scorching. “And this is very--” A soft press of those lips to her own. “-- very okay with me. Okay?”
The last thing Lena remembers clearly is pulling her in. Everything after that is a blur; of Kara’s hands and mouth against her skin, of Kara’s voice hitting a register she’s never heard before and gliding over her hearing like molten honey, and of Kara’s eyes burning into hers; deep, dark and rich with promise.
It’s a blur of rustling fabrics - of being effortlessly lifted and carried and set down like she’s precious - and while it’s a little awkward at times because that’s the way things tend to work with new lovers, it’s also smiles and breathless laughs and slow, almost reverent touches.
It’s pretty damn perfect, honestly, and the fact that they end up back on Kara’s couch again - both of them wrapped in Kara’s clothes and Kara curled around her back while the TV obligingly displays a TED Talk - is pretty damn perfect, too.
Lena’s mind never stills for long, though. “Hey.” She gives the hand resting over her belly a little tap, and turns her head until she can meet those eyes. “Indulge me for a moment?”
Kara, bless her, has what is quite possibly one of the most expressive faces on the planet, and oh, do her thoughts show on it plain as day. And oh , does Lena approve of those thoughts, as her hitching breathing is only happy to remind her. However.
“Not--” She clears her throat – not that the sudden husk to her voice is a bad thing, if the way those eyes sharpen is any indication – and traces the pads of her fingers along the back of Kara's hand. “-- that kind of indulgence.” Her words are low and even a touch apologetic, but Kara still produces what has to be the most endearingly sheepish expression in history; all burning cheeks and bitten lips and hesitantly raised eyes while Lena takes a moment to just... forget how to breathe, and to dizzily wonder what she ever did so right that she was deemed worthy of this.
“Yet, anyway,” she then adds in a murmur, and - when Kara fails to clamp her mouth shut around a startled laugh - winks. “But thanks for the ego boost.”
“Happy to be of service.” Kara's smile is warm against her temple, and her well-worn t-shirt soft under Lena’s fingers. “So what kind of indulgence did you mean?”
“Well...” Lena twists her body around until their lips meet because she can; light, but lingering until Kara's hair is sliding between her fingers like spun silk and there's the newly familiar heat of a palm against the skin of her lower back. “I'd like to pick your brain about your powers, if you're up for it.”
“Mmhm.” There's another series of brief kisses; one that she smiles into because Kara keeps coming back for more like she can't help it. “Your strength, specifically, and how you learned to control it around us puny humans.”
“Puny h--” Kara muffles a snicker in Lena's hair, and Lena manages to press a grin to the base of her throat before she starts laughing, too.
“Is all of that from the fire, or did you decide to detour through a coal mine on your way over?”
“Ha ha.” She smiles, though, and accepts the wet wipes when they're pulled from a desk drawer and offered up. She stays on the balcony because Lena's office is pristine and Kara is... most certainly not, though at least the napkins are taking some of the grime off of her hands. “I look that bad, huh?”
Lena leans one shoulder against the edge of the windows as she looks her over, and crosses her arms with one of those slow smiles that she always seems to reserve just for Kara. “You do look at your photos before you send them, right?”
She does. “There's a difference between being a mess next to someone who's just as much of a mess--” Deftly, she claims another napkin. “-- and being a mess next to someone who isn't.”
That nets her a nod; Lena's lips pursing and the glint in her eyes visible in spite of the fact that she's backlit. “True.”
“Are you sure you want a lift?” she asks; not because the idea of having Lena in her arms is objectionable in any way, but rather because the better part of her attire is beautifully, dazzlingly white. “You're probably gonna end up looking like a washed out zebra.”
“Probably.” Going by the easy way in which Lena shrugs one shoulder, that isn't something she's particularly concerned about. “I'm not the one who didn't go home and change, though.”
Hm. Kara wrinkles her nose a touch, because yeah, okay; good point, but... “I didn't want to be any later than I already was.” Her hands are as clean as she's going to get them, so she lets Lena take the stained wet wipe from her. “And I just-- I missed you.”
It's incredible, honestly, how watching those eyes soften still makes her feel warm all over. “So much that you couldn't even conceive of taking what, five minutes to shower?”
“Yes?” There's a definite feeling of heat crawling up the sides of her throat, but Lena is cradling her jaw in one careful hand while she gently cleans her face, so Kara can deal with it. “I mean, I kind of love you.”
Lena's smile widens, and Kara closes her left eye when the slight chill of the napkin brushes against the skin below it. “Points for the Buffy reference.” She's close enough that Kara can count her eyelashes and see the faint smattering of barely-there freckles across the bridge of her nose, and she is – perhaps somewhat stupidly – struck dumb all over again at how unfairly beautiful Lena really is. “I kind of love you, too.”
She leans in at that, and the smile on her face has to be absolutely goofy because Lena... Lena gasps. Just a little; the barest, tiniest breath. Like she did the first time (Lena doesn't remember that part, but Kara does because it's one of her favorite memories), and like she still does every time Kara manages to catch her off guard.
Rao only knows how she manages to keep having this effect on such an amazing woman. But she does, and she's going to take every possible precaution to keep it that way because Lena's lips are soft and sweet and so, so warm against her own. She smells of fine fabrics and organic shampoo and the faintest, residual scent of the perfume that sits at the lower, right-hand corner of the bathroom mirror. She tastes like high-shelf, fair trade coffee and the finest chocolates money can buy and – when Kara carefully reaches out to curl a hand around the back of her head rather than pull her in completely – her hair is loose and soft between her fingers.
The only reason they break the kiss is because Lena's grin grows too wide to maintain it, and Kara is a little too distracted to realize what's so funny until there's a finger hooking in the neckline of her suit and tugging.
“Aaaand back down.”
Ah. She clears her throat and obligingly drops the few inches to the balcony floor; fully aware of the amused look aimed her way. “What?”
“You're cute; that's what.”
Kara shrugs. “You're the one giving me butterflies.”
“You're also incredibly cheesy.”
“Shh.” She curls both arms over her stomach, but can't scowl too hard because Lena’s blush is visible even in the low light. “Don't mention anything to do with the F-word. You'll wake the beast.”
That earns her that grin she likes so much; the one that’s a little crooked and a lot warm, and makes Lena’s eyes just light up from within. “Sleeping dragons have nothing on that thing,” she teases, and Kara nods because it’s the truth. “You sure you’ll be fine on that front for a little longer?”
“I’m sure.” She steps back to make room, though not so far that she can’t brush her lips against Lena’s cheek as she closes the door. “Ready to have your power suit ruined?”
“Oh, absolutely.” Kara watches two fingers come up to pluck at the material covering her sternum; a gentle motion, but still enough to make a small cloud of soot escape and get carried off by the breeze. “Birds of a feather, right?”
Lena’s intelligence had been obvious from the moment Kara met her. Even taking into account family connections and just plain old-fashioned nepotism, no one became the CEO of a massive corporation with a global presence without earning it; especially not at the tender age of 24.
It’s one of the things Kara likes the most about her; how smart she is, and how thoroughly unafraid she is to show it. She only grows to like it more once Lena knows the whole truth; for one because she stops needing to pretend that Krypton’s most basic schooling didn’t far outreach that of Earth’s most advanced, and for another because in knowing that, Lena starts bouncing ideas off her at every opportunity. Even on the occasions where she somehow gets a brainwave about one project or another mid-sleep.
At - as Alex would probably put it - ‘somewhere between oh-dark-hundred and yes-officer-no-officer’.
Kara doesn’t mind. There are few things sweeter to wake up to than Lena’s voice at the other end of a phone call or - if they’re spending an increasingly common night together - the sight of her half-dressed and wholly rumpled; a tablet in her hands and a pair of glasses perched on the end of her nose. She rapidly loses track of the time they’ve spent curled up together in the wee hours of the morning; her chin on Lena’s shoulder and Lena’s fingers tapping out an erratic rhythm against her knee as she describes, explains and asks; swiping from one page or app to another with enough speed for Kara to wonder if maybe Lena reads faster than even her.
Nothing makes Lena more giddy than solving a problem, and Kara? Kara grins until her face hurts and loves the fact that she gets to witness it.
One project in particular ends up needing more involvement from her; one they start working on at Kara’s apartment, but end up having to table since they need to do tests that involve Kara’s strength, and lack the equipment. The equipment in question, unsurprisingly, exists almost exclusively in L-Corp’s most advanced laboratories; located several floors underground and sealed behind so many security measures that even Lena needs to give notice when she wants to use them.
Getting Kara in therefore proves something of a challenge. Her reporter self has plenty of cause to enter Lena’s office, sure, but the labs? Yeah, no, so they puzzle over that one - separately and together - until Lena is the one to come up with the solution in one of those flashes of pure, unadulterated brilliance that always leaves Kara just a little awestruck.
“Do you think it’d be possible for L-Corp to hire Supergirl as an external consultant?” she asks one lazy morning before either of them have even showered - right there between cut fruits, pancakes and coffee - and long story short, that’s how Kara’s alter ego ends up on the L-Corp payroll.
(It’s also the first spark for the CatCo front cover - ‘Brain Behind the Brawn’ - with both of them on it, though that photo isn’t taken until well over a year later.)
What Lena is trying to develop is an alloy - one that will hold firm against even superhuman strength - and that’s a trying problem to solve because while Kryptonians are superpowered under a yellow sun, there were never any examples of the reverse that Kara knows of. It’s very much a worthwhile puzzle to work on, though, since something that strong could literally mean the difference between life and death if made readily available for use in construction.
So L-Corp’s lowest level becomes another place for them to stick their heads together, and another place for them to spend the most ungodly hours of the night and morning. It isn’t an everyday thing - they do both need sleep; something Kara often has to point out - but it’s always enjoyable because as good as Lena is when it comes to sitting in the big chair, it’s clear that the lab is where she feels at home.
This is where Lena is at her most comfortable - her most happy, even, outside of maybe when the two of them are alone together - and that’s a sight Kara hopes to never tire of. This is where she learns more about Lena in one visit than she has in the entire time she’s known her; like how taking something apart has her humming under her breath, how she rests her weight on one leg so she can bounce the other when waiting for an analysis, or how that one look she gets - the pinched, purse-lipped, narrow-eyed one - means that she’s mentally swearing in at least five languages.
It’s where Lena lets slip little stories from growing up with Lex, and where Kara grows to love him, too, for what he used to be.
Mostly, it’s where Lena teaches; taking what Kara remembers of Kryptonian technology and helping her adjust to the versions available on Earth. It’s where Lena’s hands guide hers until she knows how much or how little force is needed, where her voice is soft and sure as she explains, and where Kara can watch her work for hours on end; utterly captivated.
“Kara?” Lena has her face turned towards her task but is still peering at her from over the rims of her glasses - that, for the record, is not fair - and while there’s a hint of reprimand in her eyes, there’s also more than just a trace amount of knowing amusement. “Focus.”
(Which... okay, so most of the delays they’ve hit have been Kara’s doing since she’s, y’know, mortal. Top-secret projects guest starring Supergirl means no surveillance, and Lena looks really, really good in a lab coat.)
“Right.” She clears her throat and straightens in her seat; schooling her features into something she hopes resembles professionalism. Even if Lena is smiling in that semi-crooked way of hers that means she wouldn’t mind another interruption at all. “Next sample, please.”
Instead of nudging the sample in question across the stainless steel bench they’re working at, Lena delivers it personally; setting the cool metal down in Kara’s hands and leaning over until there are warm lips pressing against her forehead. “You know…” The brush of familiar fingers along her jaw is next. “I'm pretty sure L-Corp’s stock would double overnight if I could find a way to bottle the way you look at me.”
“Nah.” Kara turns the block over and grins. “It's an exclusive deal. Only available from one in two Kryptonians to one in roughly eight billion humans.”
“Sap.” Lena is smiling, though, and leaning in again to kiss her properly. “Try that one.”
Kara does, and while the metal doesn't hold, it also doesn't crumble like earlier tries or even buckle or crack like the controls. In fact, it… smooshes, for lack of a better word; the alloy pushing out between her fingers much like dough would in a human hand.
“Hm.” Lena claims the now vaguely modern-art shaped block and gives it an experimental squeeze of her own, which has absolutely no effect. “Well, that's not what we wanted, but it's still a result.” She sets the sample down with a low clatter, and glances at it several times while tapping away at the nearby computer. “I’ll pass this one along to R&D. Maybe we can mold it into something to increase protection during earthquakes.”
“Heh.” Kara snickers because it's late. Or possibly early. “Mold. Like it molded to my hand.”
“Dork.” The look she gets is fond, though, and Lena passes another sample over. “This one?”
It takes more sessions like that before they get the result they set out for, but the development of a lightweight, prototype alloy capable of withstanding a full-force punch from Supergirl - a test they perform in a much more remote location and with Kara’s hands protectively wrapped ‘just in case’ - should by all rights have taken a dedicated team years of trials and thousands of manhours.
Lena does it in just over three months and mostly during her spare time. And when there’s some measure of proof that she has - when the tenth consecutive, half-inch plate doesn’t so much as dent from the impact - her entire face just lights up and Kara can’t think of a single thing in the universe even half as beautiful as that.
She doesn’t worry too much about the startled yelp when she whoops and grabs Lena up and spins in place maybe a little too fast. It becomes a laugh in a matter of seconds, anyway, and a long series of smile-to-smile kisses and excited giggles even faster.
“Your code name is officially Kim Possible,” Kara tells her, and grins as she bounces in place and the hold around her tightens. “Because you can do anything.”
“Oh, my God.” Lena’s groan lasts a full two seconds. “Since when do I even have a code name?”
“You don’t,” she admits. “But I’m calling it now because you--” Left cheek. “-- are--” Right cheek. “-- amazing.” Lips, then; long and slow and deep until Lena’s fingers are curling in the deep blue material covering Kara’s shoulders and there’s a low, almost-keen vibrating against her mouth.
“Team effort,” is Lena’s slightly breathless, eventual correction, and isn't that just her in a nutshell?
“Kind of,” Kara allows, because she did help. “Most of it, though? All you. Don't sell yourself short.”
“I mean it.” She takes care to keep her voice gentle. “You’re incredible, and I'm so proud to know you.” That earns her a sudden, sharp inhalation, and a look in those eyes that's roughly equal parts stunned disbelief and aching wonder. “I'm so proud of you.”
The smile she gets for that is more than just a little wobbly. “You’ll make me cry if you keep that up.”
“Good kind of cry?” Kara waits to see the nod, and smiles back. “Then that’s okay. My shoulders are pretty strong.”
What she still tends to forget is that Lena rarely shows her entire hand all at once, and in this case, it’s another few weeks before the reminder smacks her in the head. When it does, it’s on a perfectly average, late Friday afternoon where she lets herself into Lena’s place for anything but the first time; idly noting the sound of the shower running, and then coming to a sudden halt halfway through setting down her overnight bag because something is… off.
Not danger-off, but still off - more a tickle at the edge of her awareness than anything else - and Kara spends a full minute standing very, very still in the middle of the bedroom as she tries to figure out what it is. Nothing looks any different, she decides, but when she inhales through her mouth, the air does taste a little sharper than usual.
More than that, the room sounds different. Not much - probably not enough to be audible to anyone other than her - but the tap of her footsteps and the soft thud of her bag hitting the floor reverberates just a tiny bit oddly, and she takes a slow path along the open spaces; combining a low whistle and her enhanced hearing into something that Lena has likened to sonar more than once.
It’s the bed. The frame, specifically; looking for all the world just like the exquisitely detailed wooden one she remembers. The imitation is staggeringly well done, from the painstakingly exact measurements right down to the painted grain and grooves and notches. The material, however, is harder under her hand and cooler to the touch because it’s made from metal.
Made - Kara realizes as she taps it with one careful fingernail and recognizes the subtle ring in an instant - from Lena’s alloy.
All the dots connect in the span of a single heartbeat - from an idle question asked in her own living room to the absolute joy on Lena’s face when everything came together - and it’s a sweeping, overwhelming rush of emotion that makes her have to sit down before her knees give out. Sit, and breathe, and just feel her eyes burn and her heart swell at the knowledge that right from the very beginning, this was something Lena wanted to do for her .
She’s so lost in it that she doesn’t hear the shower turn off; doesn’t notice the light tread of feet or the sound of her name being called. She doesn’t notice anything at all, really, until there’s a robe-clad form in front of her; until familiar hands carefully remove her glasses and set them aside, and it’s only when the tender brush of Lena’s fingers clears her vision that Kara even realizes that she’s crying.
“You noticed.” It’s not a question, but Kara nods anyway and watches the crooked, almost shy smile form. “I thought you might.” Lena crouches down before her; barefoot, fresh-faced and flushed from the shower, and all in all about the loveliest thing she's ever seen. “For the record?” Her arms fold loosely across Kara’s thighs, and the look in her eyes is soft but sincere. “I’m not making any assumptions. Not with you. Never.” A hand curling around her own, and a gentle touch painting lines across her knuckles. “But I wanted you to have the option.”
And oh, Rao, how? Kara wonders – marvels – as she tugs her closer; kisses her because she has no words, threads careful fingers in soft, wet hair and breathes Lena in until she can taste the scent of her skin on the back of her tongue.
How can there still be further to fall?
Impossibly, there is. Sometimes - like when she realized what had happened to Lena’s bed and why - it’s fast and sudden; enough to make her stomach swoop like she’s barreling towards the ground from somewhere above the clouds. Other times it’s lighter and slower; like when she lifts Lena onto the bed with her in a single motion and gets a soft, slightly startled laugh for her efforts.
(Kara isn't sure why it's startling in the first place. She pretty much always wants Lena closer.)
There's another fall - another tiny increment - when they curl up together; Lena half on top of her and her hair falling around their faces like a damp, sweetly scented curtain. They couldn’t fit a single sheet of loose leaf between their bodies if they tried, and Lena is soft and warm and fits against her so, so perfectly; smelling more like home than Kara’s apartment or Eliza’s kitchen ever did and feeling so utterly right in her arms that it almost hurts, because it’s starting to hit Kara - really hit her - that Lena would do just about anything for her.
She knows exactly how much force the alloy can stand up to because she herself is what it was tested against, and she won’t be surprised at all if that turns out to have been a conscious choice; to involve her so much not only because it was needed, but in order to prove to her - slowly and methodically - how much of her strength the material can handle.
Whether Lena intended it or not, that's exactly what is happening. Just knowing that she has the option of grabbing onto the frame if the intensity between them starts to make her lose her long-practiced focus on not breaking everything with a simple touch… that's freeing in so many ways that it leaves her lightheaded; something that in no way improves when she lifts them both into a seated position, lets Lena settle astride her thighs and places those familiar hands over the top button of her shirt.
Because Lena’s heart stills completely before beating three times instead of two, and then resumes its regular rhythm at just under twice the normal rate.
“Hey.” The fingers splay over the fronts of her shoulders instead, and while Lena pulls back, it’s only enough for Kara to be able to see her face. “I said no assumptions, remember?”
Since that was less than five minutes ago, Kara does indeed remember. What’s more, she knows that Lena means it. She can see it in every minute twitch of her facial muscles even clearer than she can see the half-hidden want in her eyes, or feel the subtle tremble in the touch to her shoulders.
“Maybe I’m the one making assumptions,” she returns; pulling Lena closer until their bodies are pressed together and she can practically taste the sudden hitch in her breathing. “You’re kind of dense sometimes, you know?”
Lena rolls her eyes so hard it’s a wonder they don’t get stuck in the back of her head. “Now that is a textbook example of the pot calling the kettle black.” There’s laughter at the edge of her tone, though, and the lips that brush against the corner of Kara’s mouth are smiling. “You’re sure?”
“Very.” Not only because Lena is close and warm and ever more enticing with every chance Kara gets to touch her. Not only because she never pushes and never has - not with this - or because she tastes of honey and smells like night jasmine. Not only because the satiny material of her robe is soft enough for Kara to feel the heat of her skin beneath it, or because even the faintest trace of a thumb along the base of her throat is enough to make her shiver.
But because Kara trusts her - trusts them - more than she’s ever trusted anything. Because she wants this more than she’s ever wanted anything, and because even if her reasons for putting off this particular facet of their relationship were perfectly valid and Lena has never once spoken a word against her, there’s always been the slight burn of guilt because Lena deserves someone she doesn’t have to wait for.
Now, though? Now Kara doesn’t need to keep a constant watch on her reactions; doesn’t have to put a damper on how something low in her gut heats up and then practically bursts into flame under Lena’s hands, or to worry about how a single, unchecked touch could break bone.
All she has to do is trust in Lena, and herself, and in not only what the alloy represents, but what it can hold up against.
And it does hold.
Her own apartment is similarly outfitted in her absence not two weeks later, and in private, Kara tells god-awful sugar mama jokes until Lena tickles her into shrieking submission.
Rating upped to M because this chapter is 56% sin.
“I think first shower falls to you.” Lena draws an exact pattern over a specific section of the balcony table’s tiled surface with the pad of her index finger; sending a glance over her shoulder as the door clicks open and doing her utmost to hide her smile.
“If we’re going by filth factor, yes.” Kara - who’s standing back to keep any grime from ending up on the table and potentially interfering - smirks. She still looks mostly like she went three rounds with a truckload of coal refuse and lost, and the overall effect is strangely adorable.
“Obviously.” The smile slips free, though. “I have half a mind to tell you to take that thing off out here, and not just because you look better out of it.”
The faint tinge of pink in those cheeks is as instant as ever, though the sharply cocked eyebrow is a more recent development. “Not like anyone else would see,” Kara points out reasonably.
She’s right, of course. That’s the sort of privacy that comes with a penthouse apartment, not to mention one where most of the windows - as well as the balcony - has an unimpeded view of the Pacific. The best one in National City, in fact, since the building itself sits on the very end of a peninsula of reclaimed land, with all its neighbors further back. And if the better part of the residents in this building happen to be connected to the DEO in some way, that’s simply a happy accident.
(Kara will swear up and down that this was Lena’s plan before she even signed off on the project. Lena admits to nothing.)
“Extraterrestrials first,” she offers; sweeping a hand towards the door and needing to swallow a chuckle when Kara bows regally - or close enough to it, at least - before entering without taking a single step. “Thank you for floating.”
“Thank you for choosing Supergirl Airways for all your flying needs,” Kara drawls in response, and Lena has to bite the inside of her cheek because she’s well beyond tired enough to never stop laughing if she first gets started.
It’s been a long day, and while stepping into the familiar colors and comforts of their living room is doing wonders in relaxing her that last, tiny bit, it’s also making her realize that when she was last here, it was already way too early in the morning. So it’s probably for the best that Kara’s alien constitution leaves her a little less of an overtired ball of potential giggles. It certainly keeps Lena on her toes.
“Should I just change here?”
“Not on your life.” She quirks an eyebrow and presses a single finger to the center of Kara’s chest; well aware that the only reason she’s managing to nudge her backwards is because Kara is letting her. “I don’t know exactly what a DEO dryclean entails, but I do know that unlike your suit, the carpets won’t survive it.”
“Our suits.” Kara catches the fabric of her sleeve between two fingers and gives it an idle sort of rub before grinning. “That’s still the coolest thing ever.”
“Bulletproof business formal.” Lena grins right back because it is actually pretty cool; not to mention a very useful thing for her to have access to, considering. “Definitely one of your better ideas.”
“Winn did the work,” is the familiar answer, and Lena narrows her eyes because she is going to get this woman to accept the credit she deserves if it takes her a lifetime. “His past life as a theater nerd has all sorts of uses.”
“What makes you think it qualifies as a past life?” They’re moving now, across the living room and through the open bedroom door; Lena guiding them with her finger resting over Kara’s sternum, and Kara peacefully floating along in front of her. “I still haven’t gotten him to talk about what he gets up to outside the DEO and our usual group.”
“Good point.” About two inches shy of bumping into the ensuite door, Kara once again becomes an immovable object. “You think we should get him drunk?”
Lena snorts. “Not unless you want another impassioned rendition of the Time Warp,” she points out wryly, and smiles at the laugh it earns her. “Shower.”
“Yes, dear.” Kara ducks her head enough to steal a kiss - if one can call robbing the willing ‘stealing’ - and Lena follows her into the bathroom; starting on her own haplessly delayed nighttime routine while Kara deposits her supersuit into one of the two laundry baskets before ducking into the shower.
Lena’s blazer and skirt - both of which do, in fact, look rather like the skin of a zebra who had a particularly trying day - go into the same basket, and she washes her hands before pushing up the sleeves of her silk shirt so that, at least, can be cleaned in a more average manner.
“Kara?” She doesn’t raise her voice while tying her hair back in a loose tail, but the idle humming pauses anyway. “When was my next meeting at the DEO?”
“Wednesday,” is the immediate answer over the sound of the spray, and Lena mms in response since she’s now wiping the makeup from her face and anything else would be mostly unintelligible, anyway. “But Alex and Maggie are coming over the day af-- well, tomorrow now, I guess, and if all else fails, I’ll just take our stuff in when I get the chance.”
“Thank you, darling,” Lena calls sing-song as she leans closer to the mirror to get the last bits of eyeliner cleared away, and smiles at the audible chuckle.
“You’re welcome.” The reply comes in much the same manner, but sounds less muffled than before since Kara’s now once more blonde head is poking around the edge of the curtain. “There’s room in here for two, y’know.”
Since the layout and design of basically the entire apartment was altered to best fit the two of them while the building was little more than a steel outline, Lena does indeed know that much. “Don’t tempt me,” she scolds - though not with any real feeling to it - and meets Kara’s pout with a hiked eyebrow of her own. “I won’t last five minutes in there with you and your charms.”
Kara gives her a long, slow, head-to-toe-and-all-the-way-back-up look and grins. “I fail to see the problem.”
Thus invited, Lena gives herself a once-over. In hose and a shirt that hangs to about mid-thigh, with her hair a wind-blown mess masquerading as a ponytail and her face wiped clean, she can hardly claim to be looking anything even remotely resembling her best. Kara, however - going by the gentle heat in her gaze - clearly disagrees.
So she crosses over to the shower and steals the kiss back, though Kara meets her halfway and again, taking what’s freely offered can hardly be considered theft.
“You are insanely good for my ego,” she murmurs there - close enough for their lips to brush - and inhales the fresh, familiar scents of Kara’s choice in shower products while brushing back a few strands of waterlogged hair. “And I’m still not convinced I can’t bottle that look of yours somehow.”
A soft chuckle brushes warmly against her face. “Far be it from me to underestimate the capabilities of Lena Luthor,” is Kara’s agreeable reply. “Or Kim Possible.”
Well, she could have worse code names.
“You’re sweet.” Lena cranes her head for another light kiss because she’s yet to get enough of this woman. “Possibly a little deluded, but you’re sweet. Right now, however, those capabilities are limited to getting myself into bed before I fall over.”
“Okay.” Kara noses her and smiles. “Milk with honey first, maybe? Your voice is doing the scratchy thing again.”
“Mm.” She regretfully steps back, and spends a few seconds taking her hair back down and combing it into at least some semblance of order. “Too much coffee and not enough sleep. We can’t all be solar-powered superhumans.”
“True.” The answer comes through clearly even though Kara has retreated back under the spray. “Some of us have to live with being philanthropist super geniuses instead.”
Then she starts singing It's A Hard-Knock Life, and Lena has to bite down on her toothbrush to keep from bursting into exhausted giggles.
“You're a dork,” she calls over the little impromptu soundtrack once she has rinsed her mouth out, and hears Kara's laugh follow her to the door.
“You love it!”
She absolutely does, and Lena closes the door behind her with the sort of smile that - in her experience - wouldn’t leave her face for half an hour even if she was at her crankiest, moodiest self. Since she’s merely tired and dealing with a mild amount of acid reflux from way too much caffeine, she figures the smile would run her until noon at least, if she had to stay awake that long.
That thankfully isn’t the case. In fact - with it being Saturday and barring any emergencies - neither of them have any plans other than lazing around, and possibly getting out of bed at some indeterminate ‘later’. So all she really needs to do for now is to change into something more fit for sleeping, and ideally drag herself into the kitchen to secure a tall glass of warm milk for her throat.
Sitting down on the bed in the process of pulling off her pantyhose proves to be a bad idea. The mattress is sinfully soft and tempting - the closest they’d get to sleeping on an actual cloud, Kara had decided at the store, and… well, she’d know - so while Lena manages to tug off the hose and also extract her bra from the confines of her shirt, that’s about as far as she gets before the cool sheets and the gentle warmth of the morning sunlight at her back prove to be too much to resist.
She can close her eyes for ten minutes.
Just until Kara gets out of the shower.
She isn’t sure what first starts the process of pulling her from a sound sleep. It could be the dip in the mattress a foot or so in front of her, the low, near-inaudible sound of someone else’s breathing, the faint hint of a familiar scent tickling at her nose, or the careful trace of fingers over the back of her hand.
Either way, it works, and Lena blinks her eyes open; the movement feeling sluggish from the get-go and only growing more so under the half-light coming from the hallway.
“Hey.” Her voice is thick with sleep and clearing her throat doesn’t help much, but she finds the hand in spite of it pulling back, and catches it with her own. “Nice to know you can use actual front doors.”
“Having a key helps.” Kara sounds a good deal more alert than her, but of course she’s also sitting up and probably hasn’t slept yet at all. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“‘S fine.” Lena reaches behind her; groping around blindly until she identifies her bedside lamp and the room is bathed in a soft, golden glow that shows as a faint red behind her closed eyelids. “Snoring isn’t a preferred characteristic of the ideal hostess, or so I’m told.”
“... you are disturbingly eloquent when you’re half-asleep, you know that?”
“Not half-asleep,” she grumbles; scooting back and lifting the edge of the covers in invitation. “Wide awake. C’mere.”
Kara needs no further prompting; sliding easily into place to add the warmth of her body to what’s already collected beneath the duvet, and her arms curl around Lena’s waist and tighten until their legs are twining, too. She’s already changed, Lena notices without even needing to look; feeling the softness of well-worn cotton under her hands when Kara’s head tucks under her chin, and the slight tickle of flannel against the bare skin of her own legs.
“You don’t snore.”
Lena chuckles and presses a kiss to the top of her head. “You’re a terrible liar,” she murmurs; stroking the warm back under her hands and feeling the contented sigh against her sternum. “I tried recording myself once to see if I talked in my sleep,” she then admits; casting a lazy glance across the expanse of the bed to the softly glowing numbers of the clock on the opposite side. “I don’t, apparently, but I do snore. I’m just glad it’s not enough to wake the dead.”
“Nowhere near.” Kara smiles against the base of her throat, and her thumb is rubbing idle circles over the curve of Lena’s hip. “It’s this… tiny little almost burbling sound. It’s cute.”
“I’m glad you think so.” She feels more than hears the low hum when she slips her fingers into the golden hair; tugging gently and moving back herself the little bit it takes for her lips to press against Kara’s forehead and linger. “Wanna tell me what made you decide to drop by at 2 AM?”
The thumb stills, and one very blue eye pops open to regard her. “You’re still sure that’s okay?”
“I’m sure.” Lena finds the frozen hand on her hip, and guides it onto her thigh where it relaxes enough to slip under the edge of her slip. “You’re always welcome; I promise. I’m just curious."
Which is true. She has a few theories of her own, of course - mostly based on the slight, additional heat to Kara’s skin and the faint hint of tension in the lines of her body - but she prefers to know rather than assume.
“Well…” Kara sighs again, though this time the sound is more one of annoyance. “There was another alien situation…”
And Lena listens to her; how she was halfway through saying goodnight to Alex when the call came in, and how the fight itself was tougher than expected and left her feeling on edge even after it was over. Aside from that, she watches and feels and interprets; the furrow in Kara’s brow that isn’t quite a crinkle, the way her fingers flex against Lena’s skin and how her voice catches ever so slightly whenever Lena’s fingers graze the back of her neck.
She remembers - in part from past conversations and in part from seeing it herself - how particularly tense situations tend to leave Kara buzzing with adrenaline. She remembers watching Kara release some of that excess energy through a variety of means; from physically exerting herself until it runs out, to pinning Lena against the nearest flat surface and kissing her until the careful press of Kara’s body is the only thing keeping her upright.
More than kissing her, if the location is private enough, but never, ever without checking with her that that’s okay. And tonight? Tonight Kara found her asleep, and where she normally goes completely limp against Lena when they curl up together, tonight she’s practically thrumming with energy in her arms.
So yes, Lena has an idea or two.
“Hey.” She scoots down enough for them to be face to face when the story ends, and hears Kara’s breath leave her lungs in a shaky whoosh when their bodies brush with the motion. “Tell me what you need.”
“You,” is the simple answer, and God, that look never fails to hit her right in the gut. “But it was late and you were asleep and we--” The hand on her back twitches again. “We’ve never really talked about whether or not you’re comfortable with--”
“-- you waking me up like that?” She waits for Kara to nod, and feels her shiver when she traces a single finger along the side of her throat. “Well…” A kiss; slow, and so soft that it’s more their lips catching than anything else. “I’m awake now.”
The narrow, somewhat calculating look doesn’t surprise her one bit. Kara is too considerate for her own good sometimes.
“And you’re absolutely sure you’re not too tired?”
Lena kisses her again; deeper this time. Enough for her to taste not only the faint hint of sugar, but also the half-choked whimper that emerges when she presses closer and Kara’s hips cant sharply in response. She’s practically vibrating now; trembling from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, and when Lena leaves light, little bites along the line of her jaw, her breathing stutters three times in a row.
“Do you want me?” she murmurs - right against the spot behind the curve of Kara’s jaw - and lingers there until she hears the breathless ‘yes’ and feels the faint pressure of nails against her skin. Only then does she pull back enough to let their noses brush; enough to see lidded, dark eyes and flushed cheeks, and to feel the rush of a hard exhale against her own mouth when she tucks a small handful of golden hair back and her fingers trace the shell of an ear. “In what way?”
She has all the warning of Kara’s nostrils flaring before the world tilts on its axis, and while suddenly looking up into those burning eyes - not to mention feeling the sheer power this woman can wield - never fails to make her breathing catch, this time it also makes her grin. “Guess that answers that question.”
“Sorry.” Kara’s flush deepens visibly. “I didn’t mean to--”
Lena stops her with a single finger. “That wasn’t a complaint,” she points out, just for good measure. “At this point, I think there are some things that you’re allowed to make assumptions about.” She catches Kara’s hair in one hand; shifting it over her opposite shoulder so she can better make out her face in the lamplight. “Such as the fact that where you’re concerned, I am always a sure thing.”
“Always, huh?” Kara smirks - preens, really - and it’d be a near-insufferably arrogant look on her if it wasn’t so damned cute.
“Basically.” She smiles as she curls a hand around the back of Kara’s neck, and the familiar weight when she pulls her down completely is enough to make her breathing grow shallow. “Fair warning, though; I’m probably sensitive.”
“Yeah?” That has Kara shifting onto her elbows in less time than it takes for Lena to blink, and she can practically see the calculations taking place behind those eyes. “Ooh, right. You’re what, five days out?”
“Something like that.” Probably closer to four, going by how much the touch that cradles her hip is already impeding her thought process. “So just--”
“-- be careful. I know.” The kiss is almost achingly gentle this time, as is the hand that slides up to curl around the lower edge of her ribs. “Are you--”
Lena sighs. “Kara Zor-El, if you ask me one more time if I’m su--”
“-- comfortable?” There’s a definite twinkle in those eyes now, and Lena feels the heat crawl up her neck in response. “I’m not too heavy?”
“No.” As always, she melts like ice in the summer heat under that look, and gives the back of the blonde head an apologetic little scratch. “In fact, I’d call you almost infuriatingly perfect.”
“Uh-huh.” A smile as the hand slips back down, and the trace of nails along the back of her thigh when Kara lifts her knee is enough to make her shiver. “Just so you know? You’re three days out.”
A soft scoff, and a tighter curl of her arms around Kara’s shoulders. “I really don’t think it’s in either of our best interests for you to call me testy right now.”
Even if she’s probably right, and even if Lena loves how Kara sometimes knows her better than she knows herself. But Kara is kissing her - long and soft and just bordering on lazy - and that makes up for a lot of sins, including the twitch of a smile and the whispered ‘yes, ma’am’.
Lena is right too, though; she is exceedingly sensitive. Even the lightest of touches are almost electric, so when a thigh slips between her own and there’s a warm hand gliding over the skin of her waist, it’s all she can do to remember how to breathe. Kara’s back and arms are shifting way too smoothly under her fingers for coherent thought to be an option, and when the touch to her own skin roams high enough to trace the underside of her breast, the sound that escapes her is low and guttural and makes Kara’s teeth graze the side of her neck.
“Want this off?” Kara murmurs; brushing her mouth over Lena's pulse point as she plucks at the slip, and oh, Lena definitely likes her voice like this; all low and rough and tight around the edges.
“In the worst way.” She lifts up when Kara does and raises her arms to help, and when she settles back against the pillows, that's one less layer between them and even Kara's t-shirt feels almost coarse against her overheated skin.
Kara, however, is soft. Soft skin over solid muscle, soft touches, soft lips, and soft, silky hair that Lena buries her hands in; exhaling shakily against Kara's mouth and curling one leg around her when she presses closer.
“One more thing?” Her fingers slip under the cotton collar to find the top of Kara's spine, and she can feel the faint shift of steel when the blonde head cants in question. “Don't tease.”
“Okay.” There's the lightest, sweetest brush of lips against her own - smiling ones, which makes her smile, too - and the contact stays like that just long enough for her to pull in the air to repeat herself.
Then Kara’s hands grip her hips while that lean, solid thigh presses and slides, and it’s a sudden, staggering surge of sensation that makes the words flee her head until all she can do is clench her hands in smooth, skin-warmed cotton and arch.
“Off,” she gasps as she pulls at the innocuous t-shirt like it personally offended her, and superspeed comes in very handy right now because Lena feels like she’s shed her outermost three layers of skin, and is not in a patient sort of mood.
The touch of Kara’s skin is a balm all it’s own, though - almost unnaturally soft and warm like summer sunlight - and Lena sighs into her mouth when their bodies meet; splays her fingers over the backs of those powerful shoulders for the sheer pleasure of feeling them shift under her touch, and her spine curves in instinctive reaction when a return touch traces the dip along her collarbone.
It’s almost sinful, what Kara can do to her. The sounds she can coax from her throat; from slow sighs to breathless moans, to low groans when she’s feeling particularly, playfully experimentative and wants to test the limits of either Lena’s stamina or patience; whatever gives first. No matter what, she is always, always attentive; considerate to the point of reverence, and so completely attuned to every signal - verbal or not - that Lena knows without question that whatever she needs, she’ll get it.
Kara has learned her so well by now that she often doesn’t even need to ask (though she still will if she has the slightest doubt, just to make sure). She knows what it means when Lena’s fingers curl into her hair and clench, or when the leg she’s got wrapped around her tightens. She knows - it seems - how to translate every shuddering gasp and half-choked sound; every heated exhale against the crown of her head.
So when Lena pulls her up and kisses her, that’s when Kara’s lifts just enough; that’s when the warmth of that hand slips over her belly - nails light against her skin until her shoulders are pressing into the bed - and then dips between her thighs. It’s light - almost too light, because Kara always listens - but it’s still enough to make her keen into Kara’s mouth; to make her grip the back of Kara’s head like that hold is the only thing anchoring her to reality.
It might be. God knows that her mind has long since blocked out everything that isn’t those lips or that touch or those eyes; burning into her own with enough intensity for them to be all but glowing when Kara’s fingers press up and Lena’s throat clenches around a hard breath.
She couldn’t look away if she wanted to. The blue of Kara’s eyes - near-violet in the golden light - is all she can see, and when there’s the slow, sure circling of a careful thumb, her entire body stutters and cants and presses because there is no such thing as close enough. She grasps at any and every inch of Kara that she can reach - back, shoulders, hair, jaw - while the coil low in her gut winds impossibly tighter, and she can’t breathe or think or speak or do anything other than feel .
The way the slow, steady stroke of Kara’s touch makes her breath come in ragged, gasping bursts that leave her unable to meet that warm mouth for more than half a second at a time. The way the look in those eyes makes her entire body heat and buzz and burn until even the whisper-soft caress of Kara’s breathing is enough to make her whimper. The way a hand slips behind her head to cradle the back of her skull, the way those gentle, powerful fingers twist and curl while Kara’s forehead comes to rest against her own, and the way the white-hot pressure surging through her veins just builds and builds and builds until it finally snaps.
Some kind of sound leaves her - something raw and hoarse and probably nonsensical that somehow manages to scrape past the tightness of her throat - but Lena has no idea what it is. All she knows is the rush of pleasure that starts at the base of her spine and expands outwards in a flash that reaches from the tips of her toes to the top of her head; that makes her heels press into the mattress and the back of her head dig into the pillow while Kara’s mouth finds the spot on her throat where her roaring heartbeat thrums against her skin.
It’s a long, timeless moment that probably only lasts a few seconds at most, and Lena draws in brief, shaking breaths at it ebbs; loosening her vice-like grip on Kara’s shoulders and sliding twin, trembling touches over warm skin.
“I can feel you smiling, you know.”
“I know.” Kara doesn’t seem to take any offence at the teasing note to her voice; at least not going by how the smile stays, and now brushes against her sternum. “I have a lot to smile about.”
“Do you, now?” She combs her fingers through that soft hair, and feels the prickle of a slow shiver working its way up the length of her spine when the tip of Kara’s tongue presses against the valley between her breasts.
“Mmhm.” There’s the slow trace of a warm palm up her side. There is also a hand sliding over the back of her thigh as Kara shifts lower, and the light drag of her abdomen against the apex of Lena’s legs is almost too much.
“Easy,” she breathes - hisses, almost, with how she has to push the word from between clenched teeth - and feels her hand flex enough for her fingers to press into Kara’s back. “I’m not sure I--”
Kara halts mid-motion; placing one more kiss to the skin above her navel before lifting her head and meeting her eyes. “Is that an ‘I need a minute’ kind of not being sure?” Both of her arms hook under Lena’s thighs now, and there are fingers curling around her hips and the light, lazy strokes of gentle thumbs. “Or is it more of a ‘continue, but I might change my mind’ kind?”
Lena chuckles. “The last one,” she decides after a moment of consideration; tracing a touch along the edge of Kara’s jaw and feeling her lips purse when her thumb passes over them.
Her words have a near-instant effect on the energy Kara exudes; changing the air around her from that of gentle, patient curiosity to potent, naked want at the flick of a wrist, and Lena distractedly remembers a half-formed theory of hers: that Kara could quite possibly push her all the way to orgasm simply by looking at her like that.
Whether that’s something she should share… Well, maybe not right now. Mostly because Kara’s immediate reaction to that theory will undoubtedly be to test it.
“Tell me if you want me to stop,” comes the husky murmur - below her navel this time - and while Lena takes a breath to provide some kind of agreement, the only sound that ends up escaping her is one that’s high-pitched and drawn out and pretty much all air.
The press of Kara’s mouth is still light. However, it is also hot with determination and at the same time almost cool in contrast; careful, but as firm and unyielding as the arm that curls around her hips when she bucks in helpless reaction. Slow and gentle but driven by single-minded purpose, and it’s all Lena can do to claw at the sheets and bite her own lip as the swear catches in her throat and instead becomes a choked, almost-sob.
It takes a pathetically short time, honestly; probably not even a minute. But Lena’s entire body is sparking like a live wire and Kara knows every. single. trick - from using even that slight hint of her strength to the press of a thumb into the hollow of her hipbone - and the fact that Lena can let herself be this willingly, desperately powerless in front of her only makes her vision flash white that much sooner.
“I’ve got you,” Kara promises - low and soft and somehow by her ear, now - and Lena wonders fuzzily if she knows just how true that is. “I’ve got you.”
“I have the strangest urge to say thank you,” she mumbles against a patch of smooth skin when she comes back to herself enough for coherent speech to be possible, and feels the snicker before she hears it.
“No need.” There’s the press of a smile to her temple, and the soothing trace of fingers along her spine. “Believe me, the pleasure was all mine.”
“I know for a fact that that’s not true.” Kara’s chest stutters around another laugh, and Lena places a kiss to the crook of her shoulder. “Feeling better?”
“Duh.” The hold around her tightens affectionately. “I'm with you.”
“Sweet talker.” Lena nuzzles the side of her throat now; feels the dip of Kara’s spine under the palm of her hand, and the soft, slightly fuzzy material of the flannel bottoms against the outside of her little finger. “Want me to return the favor?”
She asks because sometimes the answer is no. Right now, however, the reply is a low hum.
“I could probably be convinced,” Kara murmurs; her breathing rippling gently when Lena - who is absolutely not smirking, thank you very much - slips her fingers below the waistband to stroke the skin there.
“Hmm.” Her mouth finds Kara’s pulse point, and she gives it a lazy suckle until she can feel the individual flutters of that powerful heartbeat against her tongue. “I think convincing you would probably be easier if you took these--” Her fingers give the elastic a smart, little snap. “-- off.”
“Uh huh.” The rake of her nails over Kara’s lower back earns her a hissed, drawn-out breath, and there’s a split second where Kara is there, then gone, then there again, and Lena lets her hand slip low enough to feel the curve of a naked hip before grinning. “Eager.”
The answer is the slide of long fingers into her hair and a tug until they’re kissing, and Lena smiles into the contact; pushing herself up and forward until Kara drops onto her back. Everything is an almost intoxicating glide of skin against skin, then, and while Kara may indeed be the Girl of Steel, there is nothing cold or unyielding about her like this.
In fact, her skin is the silkiest, warmest surface Lena has ever had the pleasure of touching, and she takes every care in the world to thoroughly enjoy this latest chance; to trace the faint grooves of Kara’s ribs with the tips of her fingers, to taste the tendons in her neck and shoulders when Kara’s head drops back, and definitely to marvel at the slick heat that meets her thigh when Kara’s part below it.
“I say again,” she purrs against a flushed ear, and hears Kara’s breathing hitch. “Eager.”
“Have you seen yourself?” is the somewhat winded answer to that; Kara’s voice catching mid-word when Lena gives the curve of her jaw a gentle bite. “Especially when you’re-- wow, Lena.”
“When I’m underneath you like that?” She doesn’t move her mouth - not much - because just as Kara knows every trick that works for her, she’s picked up a few of her own. Her favorite of them is the fact that Kara is exquisitely sensitive to the sound of her voice, and even this small dose is enough to have Kara shuddering against her; one hand clenching in Lena’s hair, and the other grabbing for the headboard although she hasn’t needed to do that for a while.
“Y-- essss.” The hiss comes when she bites at the nearby earlobe. “You look so, so…”
“Wanting?” Her hips rolls slowly in exchange for a low, strangled noise, and she traces feather-light, lingering touches from Kara’s collarbones to her hips. “Yours?”
Kara seems to all but choke on air at the second option, and Lena smiles against the shell of her ear; feels the subtle, almost-hum in the warm skin under her hands, and the way her own heart stutters when her fingers slip low enough to be coated immediately while Kara’s chest strains for the ceiling.
“I am, you know,” she murmurs as she explores lazily; giving the spot behind Kara’s earlobe a curious little suckle and hearing her voice break halfway through a strained whimper. “So for future reference? You, my darling, can wake me up any time you like--” Her fingers slip lower and dip in, and the hand Kara’s got wrapped around the headboard clenches hard enough for every muscle and tendon in her arm to stand out in vivid relief. “-- in any way you like.”
“Yeah?” Kara is essentially trembling from head to toe, and Lena lets herself be tugged back enough for their eyes to meet and marvels at the fact that she’s still keeping up with what’s being said; let alone managing to respond. “You’re sure?”
“I’m sure,” she promises - right into those hazy, beautiful eyes - and lets their lips brush while her fingers twist just so she can taste the sharp breath on her own tongue. “I feel so, so safe with you.” Deeper, now, and those long lashes are fluttering like Kara is struggling to even keep her eyes open. “I feel loved.”
“You are,” Kara gasps - low and rough and tight around what sounds like a lump halfway down her throat - and loses the battle with her eyelids when Lena presses down with her palm. “You-- Rao, Lena you are. So much, so--”
And it’s not like she didn’t know - not where it matters - that Kara loves her. But it’s something they’ve both shown with actions rather than spoken with words, so hearing it is still enough to make her eyes burn and her heart stutter, and enough for her to almost forget anything that isn’t the almost painful swell in her chest or the absolute vision in front of her.
“I love you, too,” she whispers against one flushed cheek as she crooks her fingers, and Kara - who reacts to everything with twice the intensity when emotion is involved - absolutely shatters in her arms.
The hand against Lena’s back jerks up to clench into a fist before the arm it’s attached to curls around her with almost enough strength to bruise, and under the power of Kara’s other hand, the headboard gives a low, elongated whine that’s almost - almost - drowned out by the long, shuddering keen that Kara tries to muffle against Lena’s shoulder.
Lena just says it over and over again; softly, tenderly and honestly. She kisses her temple and her hair and the shell of her ear, and - when Kara’s body twitches one last time and then slowly starts to relax - carefully slips her other hand free so she can hold her close and stroke her back as she comes down.
Kara’s hands are shaking as badly as her breathing, but both steady as Lena moves onto her back and tugs until Kara can curl into her.
“Yeah.” The answer is barely more than a breath, but Kara nods against her chest and slowly relaxes. “Please tell me I didn’t break anything.”
Lena sends the headboard a brief glance, and chuckles. “You didn’t,” she promises, and it’s technically true.
There must be something in her voice that Kara is picking up on, because she lifts up and lies back until she can see for herself.
And sputters. “That totally counts as breaking something!”
“Oh, it does not.”
“Lena!” Mostly, Kara sounds annoyed to be the only one finding any cause for concern in the situation. “I broke your alloy.”
Annoyed but also genuinely upset with herself, so Lena catches her hand and threads their fingers because the absolute last thing she wants is for her to feel guilty.
“You only bent it,” is her soothing correction when she follows Kara's gaze and strokes the back of her hand with her thumb; studying the slight but definite down-and-a-little-out curve of the headboard's topmost section, as well as the clearly defined grooves where the fingers that now rest between her own were curled around it, not that long ago.
“I like it,” she muses once they've laid like that for a few minutes – on their backs, shoulder to shoulder – and cranes her head around until she can study the familiar profile. “Adds charm and tells a story.”
Kara whips onto her side so fast that the resulting gust of air almost blows the sheets off the bed, and her glare would honestly be pretty intimidating if the blush suffusing her cheeks wasn't also rapidly extending down her chest. “Lena Luthor, if this is you being smug...”
And Lena only barely manages to restrain herself to a smirk, because it absolutely is.
There really is just something about being clean, Kara decides idly; opening the bathroom window and letting the breeze outside tug at the build-up of steam as she towels off. She’s about as used to being covered in anything from dust to goop as a sentient being can get, but in this case, absence most certainly does not make the heart grow fonder.
House rule number two - with number one being that the balcony door is too an entrance - is ‘no grungy superheroes in the bed’. Lena had originally put ‘filthy’, but… well, there’s more than one meaning of that term. Something that Kara - who blows chilled-but-not-frozen air at the foggy mirror until she can see herself in it - had only been happy to remind her of.
She's dressed and has finished drying her hair just in time to hear her phone ding from its position on the counter, and sticks a hairband between her teeth before picking the gadget up and swiping open the message.
Please remind the future Mrs. Possible that she still owes me a rematch.
Kara grins around the elastic. I think you mean ‘another’. And you know we haven’t talked about that.
Yet, is the near-instant response, and she ties her hair back in a quick braid while she tries to figure out if Alex is up late or early. I give it 7 weeks and a day before she asks YOU.
What date did Maggie bet on?
No answer, and Kara pulls her glasses off as she cants her head towards the open window; focusing her hearing until she can just barely make out the kind of language that Eliza would definitely still have a thing or two to say about.
The radio silence stretches on, and Kara rolls her eyes as she closes the window back up; deciding to needle them both over it tomorrow if need be. Settling her glasses back into place on the bridge of her nose, she feels her hearing re-center until the loudest sound is the almost-drone of the water in the building’s plumbing system and the low, plasticity crackle from the live power lines hidden behind the tile walls.
Nothing more than white noise to her, really, and since both became synonymous with home and peace long ago, they soothe her enough for a yawn to slip free; hidden behind her hand as she pockets her phone before nudging open the bedroom door, stopping for a full five seconds, and feeling the smile come unbidden when she then starts moving again.
The early morning sun is spilling in through the windows, and Lena is sleeping. She's curled on her side – half-dressed on top of the covers and her face cast in gentle shadow – and Kara takes a moment to brush back a stray lock of hair from those peaceful features; to trace the tips of her fingers over the arch of Lena's eyebrow, the curve of her jaw, and along the line of her throat where she can feel the slow, soothing beat of her heart.
Out like a light. Kara bites her lip and debates trying to wake her; weighing the discomfort from sleeping in your day clothes - some of them, anyway - with the fact that when they last got out of this bed, it was earlier than it is now. But Lena’s eyes are flickering behind their lids in the first cycle of REM sleep, and she looks so content that Kara doesn’t have the heart to disturb her.
The shirt is loose enough to work as sleepwear for a few hours, surely.
So instead, she crouches low enough that she can scoop her up slowly and smoothly, and uses a careful hand to cradle the dark head until she can settle it against her shoulder and straighten. Lena doesn’t wake from the motion; instead simply sighing and nuzzling closer, and tracing lazy fingers over the top of Kara’s chest in a sign of recognition so easy that it almost hurts.
She forgets sometimes, just how much more physically fragile Lena is. More often than not, she’s larger than life in almost every sense; meeting any challenge with steel in her eyes, titanium in her spine and more courage in her little finger than most people need over an entire lifetime.
Like this, though? Peacefully sleeping, curled up and breathing slow and easy against Kara’s chest?
Like this, Kara remembers until she has to swallow against a suddenly tight throat. Until she has to rapidly blink at how light Lena is in her arms; at the faint, additional heat at her ribs that comes from a slowly healing bruise where only Winn’s brand of magic kept her from almost, almost--
(“Hey.” A hand in her own, and the brush of lips against her thumb while her heart refuses to settle. “Almost doesn’t count.”)
It’s at times like this where the temptation is almost too strong; the one to keep Lena safe, and even to forget to care about the price of that safety if that price didn’t include one very vital thing.
Lena’s trust in her, which is the one thing that Kara will protect above all else.
Besides, she decides with a slight smile, giving in to that temptation would be a fight the likes of which no one has ever seen, because there is no way on this or any earth that Lena would stand for it.
So that’s kind of that, she guesses, and uses a long, slow breath - without the freezing aspect - to push back the covers until there’s enough room for her to set Lena back down; to carefully help her nestle into her usual spot on the mattress - further from the full-length windows in what was originally designed as a solar - and to remove the tie from her hair as gently as she can.
Lena stirs anyway; a soft hum catching on a lazy inhale before her eyes flutter open. “Mph? Hey.” Her voice is low and throaty and makes Kara smile; as does the hand that reaches out to give her cheek a slightly uncoordinated stroke. “You okay?”
Yeah, she’s being read like an open book again. “Never better.” It’s true, and she only means it more when Lena frowns sleepily; when it takes Kara turning her head enough to press a kiss to the base of her palm for the furrow to go away. “I promise. Go back to sleep, sweetheart.”
“Sure?” It is so very, very clear that Lena is fighting to stay awake, but she fights because she cares, and Kara still doesn’t know how anyone in their right mind could ever look at this woman and see some kind of ice queen. “Mmkay.” The word - coming only after Kara has nodded - is slurred, and half of Lena’s face is sinking into the pillow while the long, dark lashes on the one, visible eyelid flutter slowly. “Y’coming?”
“In a few minutes,” she promises softly. “I need to eat.”
The answer to that is a low, lazy chuckle, and Kara rolls her eyes but leans in enough to brush her lips against a sleep-warmed cheek anyway.
“You have a very dirty mind,” she admonishes, but guesses that the smile on her face is probably audible in her voice.
“Mmhm.” Lena’s hand slips along the side of her throat, over her shoulder and down the length of her arm in a slow trail of soft skin and goosebumps while the corner of her mouth quirks up. “Excellent inspiration,” she burrs, and then she’s out again before Kara can even tuck the duvet over her.
She does it anyway, of course, and then lingers for a few moments; carding her fingers so, so gently through Lena’s hair, and wondering how it’s possible for so much emotion to be contained in a single body.
There’s no response from Alex even when she finally makes it to the kitchen, so Kara sets her phone aside and takes the time for a long stretch before setting about the task of keeping herself fueled; though not until she’s performed a quick check that they have both milk and honey for when Lena wakes up later.
After that, though, she has to focus on feeding herself; if only because her stomach will wake Lena back up now if it keeps growling like it is. So she fishes what she wants from the fridge - most of it, anyway, since she dutifully stays away from the items tagged with No first-time testing without supervision xx - and heats everything up with a few practiced glances over the rims of her glasses.
She eats slowly, once she’s sat down at the table and tugged over the few articles she needs to edit; something that’s a recent experience, but one she actually rather enjoys, now that there are options specifically designed to meet her nutritional needs in reasonably sized servings. She even eats the vegetables, though that has more to do with the sauce that - for all she cares - could be poured over shoelaces and still be amazing.
Lena steadfastly refuses to give up the recipe for that one. Kara hasn’t quite admitted defeat yet, though.
There’s half an article left by the time her phone finally dings with a new message, though this one is from Maggie rather than from Alex.
I’ll swear on any power you want to split the winnings 50/50 if you hold out for 10 more weeks.
Ah… hah. She gives the screen a long, slightly suspicious look and spends a moment twirling the pen between her fingers before setting it down. How much, exactly? she asks, and takes another bite while scanning a few more paragraphs.
When the answer pops up… well, Kara’s long been likened to something of a bipedal vacuum where food is concerned, but this time she actually does almost inhale it. That, of course, sends her into a coughing fit; one she suppresses with every fiber of her being because if Lena hears, Lena will ask , and if Kara couldn’t hide the Supergirl thing from her way back when, she couldn’t hide a hangnail now.
HOW , is all she manages to send back, and even typing out that much takes serious effort.
Do you not realize how many people you both know? Bet’s been going since before you and LL grew enough ovaries to kiss. Nobody’s ever picked anything right because the two of you move slower than uphill molasses, so the pot’s been pooling forever.
And… okay, so those are sound points. Not that that stops Kara from glowering at her phone before downing the remainder of her drink, because jeez, don’t at least some of all those people have anything better to do?
She asks Maggie as much, and sighs when the only reply is a crying-with-laughter emoji. So that’s a no, then, which is a little weird because she’s definitely not used to being the center of that much attention unless she’s wearing her supersuit.
On the other hand, she can think of plenty of things to use half of the winnings for.
10 weeks, LD. To the day.
Kara sets her dishes into the sink to instead drum her fingers against the countertop, and spends a long moment watching the peacefully shifting ocean.
She guesses that Maggie is starting her day since the answer - a simple thumbs up - doesn’t come until she’s finished brushing her teeth.By then, she’s full and relaxed enough that she can barely focus on the screen to begin with, so she sends the message a cursory glance and a small smile, and then puts the phone away entirely before slipping into bed.
The sunlight warms her back while Lena rests peacefully against her front, and Kara just pulls her in closer; feels the lazy twitch of sleep-warm fingers between her own, and the slow, hypnotic movement of deep, steady breathing. She takes a long breath of her own and buries her face in Lena’s hair; feels the dip in the pillow beneath her head and the regular in-and-out of the diaphragm under her hand.
Lena sleeps, and with another long breath that easily becomes a contented sigh, Kara joins her.
(Nobody wins the pot this time either since - nine weeks and two days later - Lena is the one to ask Kara. But there is another milestone added to bet on.)