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these feelings i can't fight

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“You’re not hitting it hard enough. Listen to the music! Hit the beats, and the choreography will – Lena! I’m sorry, are we inconveniencing you? Is there something else you’d like to be doing?” Lillian’s sarcastic voice cracks like a whip, snapping Lena out of her reverie.

“No, mother. I’m sorry.” Lena shakes her head, trying to dislodge her anxious thoughts, and glides back into position. James slides into place behind her, and she tries to keep her mind on the routine.

After coming in third at Nationals, she and James are only qualifying for World Championships in Milan through sheer chance - the first-place couple revealed a scandalous unexpected pregnancy, and the second-place couple decided to take the season off after an injury. Based on their current score, she and James need to place at the very top at Worlds in a few months in order to even come close to qualifying for the Olympics. Ice dancing has less slots than normal pairs skating, and the extra competition just makes Lillian push her even harder.

She’d been perfectly happy competing solo, where her technique and precision were appreciated. But after Lex’s incident, as Lillian likes to call it, Lillian had pulled her from singles and dropped her into ice dancing, her former category, where she could more easily coach her. Lena enjoys it, at least, but she can’t help but think that her lack of real chemistry with James is bringing them down. They were criticized at Nationals for being too stiff, too precise and cold in a category that requires a certain amount of intensity.

James catches her and spins her into the first lift of their routine, and Lena can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard she tries, she’s never going to be able to fabricate the chemistry they need. He’s a great friend, and she enjoys his company, but she looks at him and feels nothing.

She has trouble summoning any kind of chemistry with men. But, her mother doesn’t need to know that.

The first lift goes well, but as they start into the second Lena feels James slowing down. He barely catches her on the dismount, and Lena stops the routine, putting a hand on his arm.

“James, are you okay?”

He’s frowning, rolling his ankle back and forth. “Yeah, I just twisted it wrong on that last turn. I’m sure it’s fine.”

“If you need to rest –“

The music stops, and Lillian’s voice rings out across the empty ice. “I’m not paying for this ice time so that you can socialize. From the top.”

James nods, gliding back to position, and Lena follows reluctantly. An ankle injury could be career-ending, for both of them – if James can’t skate anymore, it’s unlikely that any other doubles partner would touch Lena with a 10-foot pole. She feels uneasy as they re-start the routine, and tries to be extra careful on the first lift.

By the time they hit the second lift, Lena knows something is wrong. James lifts her crookedly, and Lena has to struggle to compensate. On the second turn, she hears him grunt in pain – she instinctively curls into the safest position she can before he drops her and she hits the ice, and behind her she hears a sharp crack and a yell.

Fuck. Fuck, shit, fuck.

Lillian insists that she practice the solo parts of the routine after James is taken away in an ambulance, and Lena wonders – not for the first time – if Lillian would have the same blasé reaction if it was Lena’s ankle that was potentially shattered. She suspects that the answer is yes – Lillian would likely be more upset about losing the investment she’s put into Lena’s career than about Lena herself.

The thought makes her feel slightly ill.

James calls her from the hospital a few hours later, and she listens to the verdict as she unlaces and cleans her skates.

“Yeah, it’s broken.”

Lena sighs, passing a hand over her face. “Shit.”

“Yup. But, the doctor said it’s a clean break, and I should heal in a few months and be better than ever.”

A few months. Lena was expecting it, but somehow the devastation still cuts deep. He won’t heal in time to qualify. Her chance at a title, however slim it was, is gone.

She tries her best not to let her crippling disappointment show in her voice. “That’s good, James.”

“Yeah. Not great for you, though. You need a partner for Worlds.”

Lena scoffs, switching the phone to the other ear as she packs her duffel bag. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Everyone worth skating with is partnered already or only skates single, and even if there was anyone available, they wouldn’t risk pairing with me. You were the only one dumb enough.”

James laughs, the sound echoing slightly in the empty changing room. “Stop it, Lena. Everyone knows how great you are – they’re just scared of your mother.”

There’s a pause, and Lena tries to come to terms with reality. She’s not going to the Olympics. She’s been running on hope for so long that the truth hits her harder than she expected, and she feels…angry. Angry at her mother for urging them to continue, certainly, but mostly angry at herself for not speaking up. She should have. She should have -

Finally James starts talking again, interrupting her train of self-loathing.

“Look, I…I might have a solution. I don’t think you’ll like it, but…it could work. I have this friend, Kara.”

“Kara Danvers?” Where could he possibly be going with this? Not where she thinks he is, surely. Same-sex partners aren’t banned from competing, but they certainly never do well. They tend to be penalized by the judges for not 'fully meeting the standards' set by the opposite-sex couples.

"You know her?”

Lena scoffs. “Of course I know her. She’s the one people are calling Supergirl, because she can practically fly. She’s been winning every singles competition for the last 3 years. She landed a triple axel at Nationals last year, didn’t she?” Only 9 women in history have ever landed triple axels in competition, and Kara Danvers is the latest addition to that list. Lena hasn’t seen the footage, but Kara is well and truly skating’s current golden girl, although Lena hasn’t heard any buzz about her competing in Worlds.

“You can land a triple axel too, Lena. I’ve seen it.” James counters.

Not in competition. Both times she tried, she choked, and fell back on the double. Lena sighs, slinging her bag over her shoulder and heading to the car.

“I can’t skate with a female partner.”

James presses on, confident in his idea. “She’s taking a break from competing in singles this year, so she’s free. And she’s the only person I know who might help.”

Lena gapes at the news, momentarily distracted from her adamant refusal. “Kara Danvers is taking a break the year before the Olympics?”

“Don’t ask me why.”

Despite the seemingly perfect circumstances, Lena continues to resist, however feebly. There are so, so many reasons she shouldn’t be skating with a female partner – especially in front of Lillian.

“Well, there’s no way she can lift me.”

Again James has a rebuttal, and Lena’s will to argue starts to wane. “You’d be surprised. I’m pretty sure she could lift me. Besides, you only need her until I’m all healed, right?”

There’s something devious in James’ tone, but Lena has to admit that he has a point.

“…fine. Ask her.”

She spends the night engulfed in anxiety, constantly glancing at her phone. She informed Lillian via voicemail that she might have a solution to their problem, and she dreads the inevitable confrontation with her if, for whatever reason, Kara ends up agreeing to this crazy plan.

When her phone finally pings around 11, she almost jumps out of her skin in her haste to look at the message.

[James O.]: Kara said yes! She’ll meet you at the arena tomorrow morning.

Lena releases a deep breath that she didn’t realize she’d been holding all night.

[Lena]: Thank you. Go rest, get better.

Honestly, she has no idea if the news makes her feel better, or worse.


“This is your solution? A same-sex pair? You’ll never qualify.”

Lillian stands with her arms crossed, towering over Lena and tapping her fingers on her forearms. Lena lowers her head, speaking to the floor to avoid her disapproving gaze.

“It’s our only choice, mother. It’s this, or I don’t compete at all.”

Lillian’s lips purse, and Lena pushes through the immediate sense of shame that the expression brings out in her instinctually. Before Lillian can continue to berate her, the arena doors open loudly and Lena breathes a sigh of relief at the distraction. The sigh quickly turns into all the air leaving her body at once when she takes in the figure striding towards her.

She’s seen Kara Danvers from afar, glimpsed a few moments of her routines at a time at competitions and seen a few photographs, but somehow seeing her in person is…different. She’s taller than Lena expected, for one – certainly taller than the average female skater. She has broad shoulders and strong-looking arms under her loose hoodie that somehow pair well with her otherwise soft features, and her blonde hair is pulled into a messy ponytail. Lena feels a strange urge to pull it out, and see Kara’s hair spill over her shoulders – she strangles the urge quickly, desperately trying to maintain her cool exterior.

Overall, Kara Danvers is dangerously attractive, and Lena is really starting to regret agreeing to this plan.

I still don’t think she can lift me.

Kara’s lopsided smile is friendly as she holds out a hand to shake. “Hi! Kara Danvers. You’re Lillian and Lena, I assume?”

Lillian shakes the outstretched hand daintily, sizing her up. “Miss Danvers. Your singles technique is impressive, but I’ve never seen you skate pairs, let alone dance.” It’s practically a friendly greeting by Lillian’s standards, and thankfully Kara seems to sense that she won’t be getting much else. She shakes Lena’s hand too, her grip strong and warm, and her smile never falters.

“I can do it.”

Lillian scoffs. “We’ll see. Lena, show her the first lift.”

Lena’s chest tightens. Already? Getting into lifts so quickly is a bad idea, and Lillian has to know it. They need to feel each other out first, get a sense of trust before Lena puts her life in Kara’s hands.

“Mother, the first lift is one of the hardest –“

But Lillian is insistent. “I need to know whether she can even get you off the ground before we put any time into teaching her the complex choreography. James lifting you is one thing, but I doubt that Miss Danvers can lift someone your size.”

Lena turns slightly pink at the veiled barb and ducks her head, missing Kara’s concerned frown.

“I’m sorry, Miss Danvers, usually we would go slower.”

Kara just shrugs. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just consider this my audition. Besides, James sent me some video of the routine, so I have an idea of what I’m getting into.” As they make their way out onto the rink, she continues. “By the way, can you call me Kara? We’re going to be skating together, and I feel like we’re making a business deal or something when you call me ‘Miss Danvers’.”

Lena laughs unexpectedly, and Kara looks delighted at the sound. She hurriedly arranges her features back to their calm façade, clearing her throat.

“All right. Kara it is.”

Lena describes the lift, and Kara nods easily. She’s extraordinarily confident, and it just makes Lena feel more on edge to compensate. As they move towards the starting position at centre ice Lena feels a warm hand on her shoulder, and she turns to come face-to-face with the brightest blue eyes she’s ever seen.  

“Hey. I know this is terrifying for you, but you can trust me. I won’t let you get hurt.” Kara punctuates the sentence with a smile and an encouraging squeeze, and she doesn’t know why, but somehow Lena believes her. Her tension eases incrementally.

She and Kara skate in a wide arc around each other, until finally Lena starts the lift - she jumps into a spin, landing backwards over Kara’s thighs. She can feel the muscle taut beneath her, firm and unshaking. As Kara loops around and prepares for the next portion, she whispers in Lena’s ear.

“Relax.”

Somehow that one word does more to assure her than anything else, and by the time Kara starts to spin and lift her slightly into the air, she’s pliable and confident. It feels good – they finish with a flourish, and Lena realizes that Kara made no mistakes. She executed the lift flawlessly on the first try. She’s been skating with James for almost 3 years, and even he’s never done that without a few issues.

They skate back towards Lillian, who looks surprised and slightly impressed. “Not bad, Supergirl. But the routine has some heavy lifting. I highly doubt that you can get Lena above your head and keep her there for long enough –“

Sighing, Kara turns to Lena.

“Lift your arms?”

Lena does, frowning. “Why –“

“Just trust me, okay?”

With little warning there are hands on her hipbones and she’s being lifted, up and up until she’s held over Kara’s head in a perfect platter lift. If it weren’t for her instincts she might have flailed in surprise, but she manages to hold herself up. Kara’s unwavering grip keeps her steady as she skates a few lazy loops and spins, Lena held solidly aloft the whole time. She easily assists Lena’s dismount, grinning.

“Light as a feather.”

Lena blinks in surprise, and Kara continues to pull her towards the centre of the ice. “Want to try a hand-to-hand? Lasso?”

“I – okay?” Still a bit stunned, she joins her hand with Kara’s and again, she’s lifted easily, as if she weighs nothing. Kara keeps her up with no trouble, skating a wide arc around the edge of the ice before dismounting smoothly right in front of Lillian. As they come to a stop Lena is breathing hard, but not from the exercise. She felt strangely safe in Kara’s hands – too safe, in fact. Safe enough that she was able to look past being lifted by a stranger and the usual exhilaration of being in the air to examine the feeling underneath.

And what she feels is that Kara’s strength is really hot.

She presses her cold hands to her very flushed face, hoping that it passes for simple exertion rather than surprised arousal.

Thankfully, Kara doesn’t seem to notice. She’s busy staring down Lillian, crossing her arms.

“So?”

Lillian looks back and forth between them, between Kara’s almost-smug smile and Lena’s flushed, blinking confusion, drumming her fingers on the boards. Finally, she seems to come to a decision.

“Fine. You’ll make a suitable partner, until James heals. Let’s start from the top.”

Kara picks up the choreography startlingly fast. Lena gets the feeling that she studied the videos James sent her more closely than she might admit, but either way she’s a quick learner, and a natural dancer. She’s more fluid than James, and she compliments Lena’s style without stealing the show. She’s lean where James is bulky, and Lena finds her much easier to hold on to during the many spins in the routine. She nails the lifts, and a few times Lena almost loses herself in those clear eyes – she almost never locked eyes with James, always focused on the next move, the next turn, the next lift.

While skating with James was almost mechanical, skating with Kara makes her feel something. Kara’s strong hands trail over her back – part of the choreography, and something James has done a million times – but Lena feels the touch like fire. Something rumbles deep in her chest when Kara’s hands land on her waist, when she presses herself to Lena’s back in preparation for the star lift. It flares when their eyes meet, when Kara strokes her face with a naked passion that James had never been able to manage. It makes her extensions more fluid, makes her pour some of the unfamiliar feeling into her embellishments like she never has before.

It’s been one practice, and Lena feels like she’s skating a brand-new routine.

Even Lillian seems impressed at the change. Her body language relaxes, and her barked orders and corrections get less frequent as they get used to each other and gradually nail down the first part of the choreography.

“I must admit, you did…better than expected. You’ll be an adequate replacement until James can come back. Lena, get changed. I’ll meet you in the car.” With that Lillian exits, leaving Kara and Lena standing together on the ice.

“Well. That was fun, despite the chilly welcome.” Kara says, toeing at the ice with her pick and leaning on the boards. Lena chuckles.

“That’s about as close to a compliment as you’re going to get from her. ‘Adequate’ is pretty standard.”

“So, she’s like that all the time?”

“More or less.” At Kara’s sympathetic expression, Lena quickly changes the subject. “You were amazing out there. I’ve seen your solo routines, but I can’t believe you haven’t competed in pairs before.”

“I don’t like being thrown around.” Kara admits, rubbing her hands together. “It’s a control thing. And I’m not big on male partners. But I also teach dance, and because I’m so strong I usually have to lead. It’s pretty easy to apply the same skills to skating.”

“It really isn’t.” Lena assures her, slightly skeptical. “Lifting someone in a ballroom dance and safely lifting someone at high speeds while wearing blades on your feet are two very different things.”

Kara shrugs, smiling. “Well, I guess I’m a fast learner, then.”

“I suppose so.”

Lena looks nervously at the door, aware of the fact that Lillian is likely sitting impatiently in the car as they speak, and Kara seems to sense her discomfort. She pushes off from the boards, propelling herself towards center ice. “So, I’ll see you tomorrow morning?” She calls, zig-zagging playfully away.

Lena nods, relieved at the obvious out, and heads to the exit. “Yes. Tomorrow.”


Lena Luthor is possibly the most intriguing person Kara has ever met.

Her mother is a typical coach-mom – demanding, snooty, and borderline obsessive about her daughter’s success – but Lena is different. She’s reserved, but there’s a kindness underneath, a sort of skittish gentleness that reminds Kara of an abused animal.  It makes her want to peel back the layers until she finds who Lena really is, behind the nervousness and the cool façade.

When James had asked her if she’d be willing to fill in for him while his ankle healed, she initially refused. She's taking a break from competition for a reason, and she wants to be able to put her energy into supporting Alex when she inevitably makes the women’s Olympic hockey team. And besides, Lena’s family is infamous in the skating world, especially so to Kara.

Four years ago, Lex Luthor had snapped after failing to qualify for the Olympics, and viciously attacked his main competitors – Kara’s cousin, Clark, and his partner Lois. Lois ended up with a shattered knee and a recommendation to stay away from figure skating for a few years, if not forever, and Clark hasn’t competed since either. As much as James seems to like and trust Lena, Kara isn’t sure that the conflict it will inevitably cause with Clark is worth it.

But then James forwards her some footage of Lena skating, and a few minutes in, Kara is fully down the rabbit hole.

She spends the night watching recordings of what must be every single one of Lena’s publicly available performances, singles and doubles, captivated by her flawless technique and her understated passion (and, to be fair, her thighs in those costumes are also a sight to behold). She and James don’t quite click as partners, Kara can tell, and she finds herself terribly curious about how much of a powerhouse Lena could be in a pairing with some real chemistry. 

She’d be unstoppable.

It’s this thought that finally compels her to say yes, and she turns up bright and early the next morning to meet her. She spots Lillian Luthor first, in what looks like a serious conversation with her daughter, and she almost chokes on her own breath when Lena turns around.

Up close, Lena is stunning. Kara spent almost 5 hours the night before watching any and all footage of her skating, but meeting her face-to-face is an entirely different situation. She’s dressed simply in black yoga pants and an activewear tank, and good lord. If Kara thought her thighs looked delicious in her costumes, seeing them in yoga pants is sending her to another plane of existence.

I’m too gay for this.

Lillian’s sniping isn’t anything she wasn’t expecting. Kara brushes it off entirely until she makes a veiled comment about Lena’s figure - Lena is good at hiding it, but Kara noticed her slight flinch at the barb, and Kara makes it her goal to show Lena just how liftable she is (among other things).

Even Lillian shuts up, after Kara shows them what she can do.

The routine is good, if a bit safe. Lillian has chosen a racy tango from Moulin Rouge, but her choreography takes few risks, outside of some basic sexy dance moves. It’s less than she knows Lena can do based on her past solo numbers, and she can’t help but think that they’re compensating for James. From what she saw on the video he sent of this routine, he’s talented, but he’s not at Lena’s level, and Kara is starting to suspect that Lena is only paired with him because nobody else was willing, after what Lex did.

Her hunch is proven correct over and over again as they rehearse. With Kara as her support, Lena thrives. Kara makes sure that she’s there at every turn, hits every mark. Lena needs to know that she can trust her to catch her every time. Their chemistry is off the charts – Kara can see it in her eyes, can feel it in every new outburst of unchoreographed passion in her movement.

By the time lunch rolls around and Lillian takes her leave, seeming to expect Lena to follow, Kara is buzzing on the energy they made together. After making some small talk without Lillian in the room, Kara makes up her mind.

I will get to know you, Lena Luthor. Just you watch.

When the arena door swings shut behind her, Kara skates to her duffel bag on the nearby bench and pulls out her phone, punching in her most familiar number.

“Hey, Alex…uh, I did something you’re not gonna like.”


Kara only gets better with each rehearsal, and slowly Lena comes to accept two things. One, Kara is an infinitely better fit as a partner than James ever was; and two, she’s hopelessly attracted to her.

Somehow, Kara brings something out in her that she’s never been able to access on the ice before. It’s more than technique, more than style – it’s pure, unbridled chemistry. Meeting Kara’s eyes on the ice, the small flourishes she adds like face-touching and prolonged skin contact make her feel raw, and it comes across, she knows it; the trust she has that Kara will always hit her mark and the strange, fluttery feelings she gets when they touch get thrown into the dance, and after only two weeks she can tell that the routine is finally hitting home like it never did before.

They practice almost every day, but it feels almost unnecessary – Kara had the moves nailed down in only a few days, and they work well enough together that rehearsing is almost effortless. In fact, for the first time since before she started being coached by Lillian, it’s fun.

Kara makes her laugh, and the occasional misstep or mistake is met with smiles and strong hands helping her up again. Lillian is of course a constant presence, calling instructions and criticisms as usual, but somehow it’s easier to bear with Kara beside her – where James was always intimidated by Lillian Kara is more likely to mock her, skating backwards and pulling exaggerated faces just out of her sight until Lena has to hide her grin.

It doesn’t help that every time Kara lifts her, she feels like she needs to change her panties.

She tries not to act too relieved when Lillian announces that she’s leaving for two weeks on business to set things up in Milan – and ‘for business’, Lena knows, means she’ll spend a few days there and then spend the rest of her time visiting Lex in what she thinks is his secret home in Bali.

Although publicly she’s renounced his actions, Lena knows that as soon as he served his mandatory prison time Lillian broke his probation and bought him a spacious house in the most remote and yet still luxurious location she could manage. She wires him money every month, and thinks that Lena is stupid enough to not know about it.

At the end of the day, Lena wants nothing to do with it, and she just takes the visits for what they are – an opportunity for her to relax without her mother’s watchful eye on her at all times.

Kara seems excited about the break, as well – when they finish up their practice on Friday (which was less a real practice and more Kara trying to skew the choreography in the funniest way possible to get a reaction), she reaches into her duffel bag and pulls out two 40 ounce bottles of liquor.

“Kara, Jesus! Have you been carrying those around all day?”

Kara looks down at the bottles, shrugging. “Well, yeah. How else was I supposed to surprise you?”

Lena laughs, pushing her shoulder so that Kara glides slowly backwards, still grinning and holding up the liquor. “You could have just invited me over!”

“Where’s the drama in that? Besides, you live right down the street.”

“Are you inviting yourself over?” Lena asks, incredulous but oddly endeared.

Kara flashes her most charming grin. “…maybe?”

 “…all right. But I get the rum – you can drink the vodka.”

Several drinks later, after Kara has stealth-ordered a large pizza and convinced Lena to help her eat it, she’s warm and happy and just drunk enough to let Kara braid her hair without complaint.

Well, with a little complaint.

“I feel like a 12 year old at a sleepover.” Lena sits upright on her living room floor with Kara behind her leaning against the couch, Kara’s legs bracketing her hips. The hardwood is cold on her legs and her ass is starting to go numb, but she’s not willing to give up the contact just yet.

“What 12 year old sleepover has booze?” Kara tugs lightly at the half-finished braid, and Lena concedes the point begrudgingly.

“Well, fine. To be fair, I didn’t get to go to many sleepovers when I was young. Just boarding school.”

Kara finishes the braid and gently undoes her progress, running her fingers through Lena’s hair a few times and starting again. Lena can’t stop herself from sinking into the contact, sighing.

“You went to boarding school? I didn’t know that.” Kara asks, and Lena smiles.

“Mmm. I’m sure there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.”

Kara’s hands stop their movement, and she pulls her legs back and does a highly unnecessary somersault that almost ends in a hard collision with the coffee table. She struggles to her knees, mixing each of them a new drink and handing Lena her glass.

“Let’s fix that!”

Kara’s solution turns out to be a game of 20 questions, and Lena can already tell that it’s going to make her reveal far too much. Kara asks about her family, and Lena tells her about her adoption – Kara reveals her own adopted upbringing in turn, and spends a few minutes talking excitedly about her sister, Alex.

“Okay, what’s your favourite colour?” Kara asks, lying on her belly with her feet swinging in the air. She crushes one of Lena’s couch pillows to her chest, and looks at her expectantly. In truth, Lena has never really thought about what her favourite colour might be, but the answer comes to her easily as she meets Kara’s eyes.

“Blue.”

Kara grins. “Mine is red. Your turn!”

Lena learns that Kara’s favourite animal is dogs, her favourite food is potstickers, and she started figure skating when she was 6 because Alex played hockey and she wanted an excuse to go to the rink with her. She also learns that she was correct in her assessment that this was a bad idea, because with every new fact Kara seems to worm her way deeper into Lena’s heart.

“Lena, I’m going to be really direct with this next question.”

Lena braces herself, crossing her legs and resting her elbows on her knees. “Okay, shoot.” She makes the mistake of taking a sip of her rum before Kara asks the question – although, to be fair, Kara should have waited until she’d at least swallowed.

“Are you into women?”

Lena promptly chokes, her eyes watering as the soda and alcohol fizz uncomfortably in her nasal cavity. “I – what?”

“I’m sorry, I know that’s really blunt, but I had to ask.”

Lena stutters, trying to avoid answering the question without giving herself away. “Why – I don’t - why would you think that?” 

“Well, you’ve talked about ex-boyfriends, but you don’t seem to have actually…liked any of them.”

“I liked Jack!” Her protest is weaker than usual. It's true, she had gotten along the best with Jack - a fellow skater, he had also been trying to avoid the suspicions of his family, and thus didn't demand anything from her besides the occasional feigned date or posed photo - but they had broken it off after Lex was arrested.

“Were you attracted to Jack? Because I get along really well with James, but I’m not attracted to him. It was a pretty big indication.”

Lena opens her mouth, meaning to make one of her usual excuses – I’m too busy for romance, there was just no chemistry, I have high standards – until Kara’s words sink in.

Indication of what?

“You – wait, are you –?“

Kara laughs, long and sweet, now leaning back on her elbows. “Lena, I refuse to skate with male partners for a reason.”

Oh.

Lena takes a more measured sip of her drink, her heart racing. She’d had her suspicions, but having Kara tell her to her face…it makes her re-think every touch, every significant and over-analyzed look from the last few weeks. In combination with the alcohol, it brings up sudden and visceral memories of Kara lifting her effortlessly into the air, and the room starts to feel very hot.

“I don’t mean to put you on the spot. You don’t have to answer. But, if there’s anyone you can talk to about this, it’s me.” Kara assures her gently.

No, Kara. You’re the last person I should be telling this, if I know what’s good for me.

But Kara’s face is so honest, and she’s so sweet and earnest and beautiful that Lena can’t bring herself to lie.

“Yes. I’ve…been with women. I prefer women. Almost exclusively.” She says shakily, finishing her drink in a few mouthfuls and coughing slightly as the bubbles burn at her throat.

Almost exclusively?”

“…okay, more than exclusively. I go on dates with men on occasion to keep my mother happy, as futile as that might seem. But I certainly don’t enjoy it.”

Kara is already mixing her another rum and coke, and hands it to her with a question.

“So, you’re gay?”

Lena takes a gulp of her new drink, feeling cold sweat start to prickle her hairline. You’re gay. Words she’s told herself a thousand times, but has never said out loud. Not once.

Maybe it’s time. Even if it’s just to one person, just this once.

“I – yes. I’m gay. I’m…I’m a lesbian.”

There it is. The words are out, and Kara smiles at her encouragingly, and Lena feels like a thousand-ton weight has been lifted off her chest. She feels light, and she has to reach up and wipe unexpected tears from her eyes.

“Feel better?” Kara’s eyes are knowing, and sympathetic.

“Yes. Much better, actually.”

Kara fills two shotglasses and hands one over, lifting hers and tilting it to tap gently against Lena’s. “To loving women.”

Lena lets out a watery chuckle, and returns the toast. “Yes. To…to loving women.”

The rum burns down her throat, and it grounds her slightly. She laughs at Kara’s dramatic grimace, poking her with a socked foot.

“It’s your fault for choosing vodka.”


 

“How are you so…open?”

The room is spinning slightly, but Lena isn’t sure if it’s because she’s drunk or because Kara has convinced her to lie upside down on the couch with her feet over the back, and the blood is rushing to her head.

“What do you mean?” Kara has a lollipop sticking out of her mouth – when did she get a lollipop? Does she just carry them around with her? – and her hair is brushing the floor. Her face is slightly red, and she’s so beautiful that Lena has to look away again.

“You just told me you were gay, like it was nothing. Like it didn’t matter. This could destroy your career, or mine. Figure skating isn’t exactly known for being accepting of difference.”

Kara shrugs, as much as she can in her upside-down position. “Well, I guess I figure it’s more worth it to be myself. I don’t want some big career if it means I have to live a lie.”

“You mean, like me?”

Kara sits upright, looking at her in alarm. “What? No! Not like –“

Lena arches a brow, and Kara laughs, rubbing her neck. “Okay, yes, like you. But the sport is changing. I heard Cat Grant took over the judging committee, and she awarded a bronze to that male-only duo at Worlds last year.”

Lena hums noncommittally. Kara changes the subject, biting down on the remains of her lollipop.

“It’s your turn again.”

“Okay, um…middle name?” Lena asks, grateful for the new direction.

“Don’t have one.” Kara answers nonchalantly. Lena frowns.

“Really?”

“Yup.” Kara punctuates the ‘p’ noise with a pop, lying down on her back again beside Lena and looking at her upside down. “What’s yours?”

“…I regret asking.”

Kara latches on to Lena’s deflection like a dog with a bone. She elbows her excitedly, sensing that she’s hit on something juicy. “You have to tell me! Those are the rules!”

Lena sighs, her face scrunching in discomfort. “Fine. But I expect you to take this to your grave.”

“Cross my heart.”

“…it’s Lutessa.”

There’s a beat of silence, and then Kara’s howling laughter fills the apartment. Lena huffs, rolling off the couch and standing up unsteadily while Kara holds her stomach, trying to reach out to her.

“I’m – s-sorry, it’s just – Lutessa –“ she dissolves into giggles again, and Lena crosses her arms petulantly. Sulking, she stalks into her bedroom and crawls under the covers, covering her face.

“Oh, come on, Lena!” And Lena realizes with sudden clarity that she did not think this plan through, because within seconds Kara is in her bed - Kara is worming her way under the covers in her tiny sleep shorts, Kara’s hands are pulling hers away from her face, and Kara’s head is on her fluffy pillows as if this is a normal, everyday occurrence.

“I’m sorry for laughing.”

“It’s…fine.” Lena grinds out, her voice tense half from residual annoyance and half because Kara’s warm legs are brushing against hers under the blankets.

“Okay, ask me something else.”

“Fine. Tell me your most embarrassing moment.”

“Ugh, Lena!

“You have to tell me.” Lena parrots smugly. “Those are the rules.”

They fall asleep tangled together in Lena’s bed, the extra sheets and pillows originally meant for Kara lying forgotten on the couch.


Kara wakes up on Saturday with cotton in her mouth, a blaring headache, and the warm weight of Lena’s head on her chest.

She keeps her eyes closed for a few minutes, just memorizing the sensations – the sound of traffic outside and Lena’s quiet snores, the tickle of dark hair against her neck, the distinct smell of Lena’s apartment and Lena’s sheets and Lena, still sound asleep. She wishes she could stay like this for longer, but she has to pee, and their tangle of limbs is preventing her from doing so.

Last night was the most fun Kara’s had in ages. She’s known since they met that she’s attracted to Lena – almost painfully so, in fact – but last night, seeing her relaxed and casual and laughing freely, the intensity of her feelings hit her like a freight train.

She likes Lena. There are feelings. And, if last night is any indication, Lena likes her too.

She finally cracks her eyes open, and looks down. Lena’s hair has come loose from last night’s braid, and it spills over her shoulders and across Kara’s chest – there’s so much of it, and Kara can smell her probably-expensive shampoo. Kara remembers how soft it felt in her fingers, and feels them twitch with the urge to touch it again. Her hand is fisted in Kara’s t-shirt just under her breast, and Kara can see a tiny dark patch on the fabric next to her mouth.

She drooled on me.

Kara’s heart seizes with affection. She wishes she could take a picture of Lena’s face, smooth and relaxed the way it never is when she’s awake. She wishes she could stay like this forever, just drinking in the quiet morning. It feels good. Natural.

Unfortunately, her bladder is protesting more loudly now, and she starts to shift, trying to dislodge herself without waking Lena up.

She knows she’s failed when Lena’s entire body stiffens, her loosely-clenched fist immediately relinquishing its hold on Kara’s shirt.

“Morning, sleepyhead!” Kara chirps, hoping to offset Lena’s discomfort with cheerfulness. Lena sits up, blinking and looking around the room, studiously avoiding her gaze.

“…I feel like shit.” Her voice is raspy and she combs her fingers through her loose hair, squinting at the sun coming through the curtains. Kara watches affectionately.

“Yeah, we did drink what experts would call a ‘metric fuck-ton’ last night. You know what we need?”

Lena looks at her blearily, one hand still tangled in her hair. “What?”

“McDonalds breakfast.”

Lena has her driver pick it up for them – “Being a Luthor does have its perks” – and they eat their hashbrowns in companionable silence.

“We should probably head to the rink. Get in a few hours of practice.”

Kara nods, feigning seriousness. “Hmm. Yes. Definitely. Or…we could make smoothies and watch the Food Network.” She waves the remote enticingly in front of Lena’s face, and Lena sighs. It’s the kind of sigh that comes with begrudging acquiescence, and Kara pumps her fist.

“Yes! I hope you have food in your fridge besides turkey bacon and kale.”

She fixes them both a fruity drink - Lena insists on having spinach in hers, and makes Kara try it. She makes a face, even though it doesn’t actually taste much different than her own, purely to see Lena laugh.

Lena’s head drops onto her shoulder halfway through an episode of Chopped, and Kara has to smother the instinct to kiss it. She could easily stay here forever, enjoying her company and the increasingly easy physical contact.

As it is, she stays until 6, when her phone lights up with a barrage of texts from Alex – which range from ‘Answer your door, Kara’ to ‘You’re lucky I have a key to your apartment’ and then decline swiftly into ‘WHERE ARE YOU, YOU APT. IS EMPTY, ARE YOU DEAD’.

“Shoot. I forgot that Alex was coming for dinner today.” She frowns, tapping out a reply – ‘I’m on my way, lost track of time, sorry’ – and starts gathering her things, making her way towards the door. “Thanks for letting me hang out with you all day.”

Lena follows, smiling. Leaning against the doorframe, she crosses her arms against the cold of the air-conditioned hallway. “Of course. I had a lot of fun last night. And today. I don’t think I’ve spent a whole day without being at the arena in…well, I can’t remember how long. So, thank you.”

“Well, I’m glad I could get you to relax for a few hours!”

Kara pulls her in for a quick hug that turns into something longer, where Lena burrows gently into her neck and Kara tries not to be too obvious about smelling Lena’s hair and they’re both blushing when they finally pull apart.

As the door closes behind her, Kara taps her phone to call a Lyft and smiles at her background – a photo of her and Lena from last night, Lena with her tongue sticking out at the camera and Kara laughing into her shoulder. Lena must have switched her lock screen while she wasn’t looking.

She’s glad that Alex is waiting for her at home, because she suddenly has a lot to talk about.


“You’re lucky my mother isn’t here to listen to you drag her routine.” Lena stands with one pick dug into the ice as Kara skates lazy circles around her, and crosses her arms.

Kara laughs. “I’m just saying, your mom’s routine is good, but it’s basic. It doesn’t take any risks. And you know they give more points for difficulty.“

“What are you suggesting?”

Kara stops directly in front of her, spraying snow across the surface of the ice. “More lifts. A dip in the middle. And a synchronized triple axel.”

Lena blinks at her in surprise. She hadn’t actually been expecting an answer to that. Changing her mother’s routine…it isn’t something she’d ever have considered, before Kara. The thought is terrifying.

“How much have you thought about this?”

“I’ve been thinking about it since James sent me the footage of your routines. This dance doesn’t use your potential. You’re a powerhouse, Lena.”

Lena blushes at the compliment. She swallows down the voice inside her that’s screaming – she watched my routines, she thinks I’m talented, she wants to do more lifts – and points out the obvious problem. “James can’t do a triple axel.”

“But you can. James told me.”

That traitor.

“Not at competitions!” Not in front of my mother, she adds silently.

“You’ve never had the chance to really try! But if you had the right partner…”

Lena gapes at the implication. “Are you suggesting – you want to be my partner permanently?” It seems outlandish – Kara Danvers, who could easily win gold for singles skating at the next Olympics, is offering to throw that chance away for a partnership that might be doomed from the start.

“James isn’t going to be fully healed in time for Worlds. And besides, I love James, I really do, but you’re too good for him. I think that if you and I add some higher-end moves to the routine, we can have a real chance to qualify.”

“Kara…”

Kara takes Lena’s hands in hers, squeezing them tightly. “I know, your mother thinks otherwise. But there’s something here. Something magic. We make a good team. Will you at least try it? We have the base routine nailed down anyways.”

Cursing Kara’s irresistible pouty face, Lena agrees. And by the end of practice, she has to admit that the routine is definitely better with Kara’s additions. Kara suggests two new lifts – the first involves Lena standing on Kara’s thighs, reaching to the sky dramatically at the swell of the song where before the choreography was only a few basic rotations. Lena almost refuses, but Kara insists that she can take it – “I have thighs of steel, Lena” – and she can feel as she performs it that it will be a great moment of connection with the audience.

The second lift is almost enough to make Lena combust on the spot. It’s intensely sensual, much sexier than anything she’s dared to do before, and she’d consider it dangerous if it was with anyone but Kara. It requires her to jump backwards and be flipped onto Kara’s shoulders, so that Kara’s face is – so that Lena is basically straddling her –

It’s a lot, and it takes more tries than usual to get it even close to right.

But when they finally hit it, Kara spinning them dizzily with her face between Lena’s legs and then sliding her languidly into the dismount, Lena feels it in her whole body. She’s lit up like a Christmas tree, and she’s surprised that Kara isn’t blinded by it.

Finally they run through the new routine as a whole, and when they end in a sensual dip instead of Lillian’s showy flourish, Lena can feel tingles racing down to the base of her spine.

“I told you. Didn’t you feel that?” Kara still has her in the dip, murmuring into her neck. Lena shivers.

Magic.


Lena has to excuse herself to the washroom to calm down, after that.

It’s all-encompassing, this feeling. She’s never wanted like this before – it’s like she’s possessed, like she might die if she doesn’t touch Kara again. She takes off her skates, standing on the cold floor in her thick socks and staring at herself in the mirror. She’s flushed from her forehead to her shoulders.

Get it together, Luthor.

She splashes some cold water on her face and counts backwards from ten, taking deep breaths.

By the time she manages to make her way to the changeroom she assumes that Kara will be gone already, but when she pushes the door open she hears her voice behind the stone wall that separates the entrance from the open space. It’s raised in annoyance. Instinctually she shuts the door quietly and stays where she is, hidden from sight.

“Look, Clark, I love you, but you’re my cousin. Not my owner. You have no right to tell me what I can and can’t do.”

There’s a pause, and Lena can distantly hear a man’s voice on the other line. Kara scoffs. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. She’s nothing like her brother, and you’d know that if you bothered to – why should you? Are you kidding? She’s her own person, Clark –“ Another pause, and Kara’s voice gets louder, shifting from annoyance to anger. “I don’t care what he did to Lois, it has nothing to do with Lena!”

Oh. Oh, god. Clark.

Clark Kent is her cousin. How did I not know that?

“I trust her…well, if you’re so against me skating with her, then don’t come to watch!” She hears the thunk of the phone landing on something, and a weary sigh.

She defended me. To Clark Kent.

She’s so distracted by that thought that she doesn’t hear Kara’s footsteps coming closer until she’s almost turned the corner, and it’s too late to hide. She imagines she resembles a deer in headlights as Kara jumps, a hand over her heart.

“Jeez louise, Lena, you scared me!”

“I – sorry.” Lena stutters, glancing longingly at the door behind her and ardently wishing that she could melt into the floor.

“Were you – did you hear that?”

“…yes.”

To Lena’s confusion, Kara’s face changes from surprise to worry. “Oh. Look, Lena, my cousin is – he still holds a grudge, with the whole Lex thing, but I don’t think that way, I swear. I know you’re different –“

“You stood up for me.”

It slips out without Lena’s permission, the words that have been running through her head for the last few minutes spilling from her lips before she can stop them.

Kara looks confused at Lena’s change in direction. She scratches the back of her neck, her hand sliding down to rest on her collarbone, and her fingers drum there nervously. “I – yeah? Of course I did.”

“Why?”

Kara’s answer is matter-of-fact, and it shakes Lena to her core.

“I defend the people I care about.”

Lena swallows thickly. “Nobody’s ever stood up for me like that before.” She fiddles with the string of her hoodie – Kara’s hoodie, actually, that she’s been wearing for the last few days because it’s warm and smells like her – and Kara’s hand lands overtop, stilling the movement.

 “Well, now you have someone who will stand up for you, always.” She says, and her smile is as warm as her palm, which burns against Lena’s nervous fingers.

She feels tears threaten to spill, and clears her throat. “I…thank you.” Nervously, haltingly, she opens her arms in silent invitation. Kara beams, and scoops her up into a tight hug, lifting her feet slightly off the ground.

Lena inhales deeply – Kara’s shampoo and a hint of spicy perfume and the familiar smell of the arena. It’s comforting and solid, and Lena doesn’t mind that Kara isn’t letting go. Finally her grip loosens, and Lena slides back to the floor, her hands still resting on Kara’s shoulders. Kara still hasn’t let go completely – her arms are looped loosely around Lena’s ribcage, their chests flush. They’re practically sharing breath – a few inches, a slight lift of Lena’s toes, and their lips would be brushing.

She isn’t sure if she’s imagining it, but the distance seems to be shrinking – she can see the flecks of grey in Kara’s eyes, and one of Kara’s warm hands is stroking her cheek, her tongue darts out to wet her lips and Lena wants to follow it with her own more than she’s ever wanted anything in her life –

As if her body is propelling her to do what her mind has been resisting for weeks, her toes flex and the distance closes, and Kara’s lips are on hers.

For a moment, it doesn’t feel real – she’s pretty sure that she’s simply thought about kissing Kara so hard that she’s convinced herself she can feel the warm, feathery sensation of her lips, and she’ll open her eyes to see that Kara is still standing a few inches away, looking at her with her usual easy grin.

But then Kara pulls back slightly – Lena can feel the slight pull as their lips come apart, and the warmth of her breath – and when she leans back in it’s with an open mouth, hot and deep and real.

She’s never been kissed like this in her life. Like she’s the only important thing in the world, like the secrets to the universe are hidden inside her and the only way to find them is with lips and tongue and teeth. Kara kisses with her entire being, and Lena is swept away by the intensity.

Her back hits something solid, and any sensory input beyond the places they’re connected – lips, chest, hips, Lena’s fingers tangled in Kara’s soft hair and Kara’s hands on her thighs – fades into white noise. Kara pulls her knee up to wrap around her hip and slots her own thigh into the space, and if Lena thought she was lit up during their dance, it’s nothing to how she feels now – like she’s a bonfire, and Kara is gasoline. Now that she knows what this feels like, she has no idea how she’s going to be able to get it together for their routine.

The routine.

Oh, god.

Like a bucket of cold water over her head she realizes where she is, who she’s with, and what she’s moments away from doing. She jumps away, jerking out of Kara’s arms with a pounding heart – her lips are tingling and she can feel the slickness between her thighs, and the dazed, wanting look on Kara’s face isn’t helping matters. The silence stretches between them, both of them breathing hard, and before Lena can so much as open her mouth to make an excuse the door flies open, making them both jump.

Through the threshold walks the absolute last person Lena wants to see right now.

“Lena, darling, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.” Lillian Luthor bustles in in all her designer-clad glory, breezing over and patting Lena’s still-flushed cheek. “I came back early from Milan, to the most wonderful news on my voicemail – James is all healed up and ready to get back on the ice.”

Something cold grips Lena’s stomach, and she can almost feel Kara’s gaze boring into the back of her head.

“Wh – healed? It’s only been a month and a half – Worlds is in two weeks - “

Lillian finally notices Kara, and there’s something victorious in her expression when she interrupts Lena to address her. “Ah, Miss Danvers. Perfect timing. Thank you for your services, but we won’t be needing you anymore.” Her tone is curt, as if Kara was delivering an unwanted pizza rather than putting her heart into their routine for the last month and a half. She turns on her heel, still talking and heedless of Lena’s growing despair. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Lena. James has a lot of catching up to do.”

The door swings shut behind her, and this time the silence is deafening.

Kara breaks it.

“It’s too early for James to be back.”

Lena wraps her arms around herself protectively and stares resolutely at the floor. “Kara…”

“You know it’s true. There’s no reason he should be risking his ankle when I can skate with you.” Kara insists, following Lena’s eyes with her own.

Lena winces bitterly. “I’ll never qualify with a female partner.”

“And who says that? You, or your mother?”

“Does it matter?”

Kara’s voice raises slightly, and she gently grasps Lena’s upper arms so that they’re face to face.

“Yes! Lena, our routine is special. I think we have a real chance, here.” Lena sees more in Kara’s eyes than just the desire to qualify. We have a real chance, here.

A chance for what?

Lena is still flush and buzzing with what is without a doubt the best kiss of her life, but there’s still a voice in her head that sounds suspiciously like Lillian telling her that it’s a mistake. Skating with a female partner – having a female partner – is too big a risk. Lena can’t entertain the thought. She can’t.

“Kara, I need to go to the Olympics. I need to qualify. I…I need to play it safe.” She hopes that her words convey her secondary meaning, too. I can’t do this. Whatever this is. She feels like she’s ripping her own heart out and throwing it on the ground.

Resignation crosses Kara’s face, and she nods, her jaw tight.

“Okay. Okay, Lena. It’s your choice.” Kara brushes past her, and Lena barely resists the urge to grab her arm, to beg her to stay. But she’s at the door already, and the pain in her voice cuts Lena to the bone.

“You can’t let her make your decisions forever, Lena. Someday you’re going to have to take a leap.”

When Kara leaves, it feels like all the warmth in the room leaves with her. Lena sinks down onto the bench. For the first time in years, she actually lets herself cry.

Chapter Text

The sound of Kara’s fists hitting the heavy bag reverberates through her apartment, and the vibrations echo up her arm to her shoulder. It isn’t the type of exercise she really needs to be doing – she should be at the rink, or at least getting in some dance practice – but it’s the only kind she can bring herself to do right now, and it’s better than nothing.

And, she thinks as she swings up for a high kick, it’s satisfying.

And it’s a satisfaction that she needs, because Kara is angry. She’s angry at Lena, of course – for giving up so easily, for turning her back on something that could have been incredible. She’s angry at Lillian for pushing them apart, at the skating world for being old-fashioned and bigoted enough for this to be an issue, the world at large for making Lena feel like being gay is something to be hidden. But mostly, she’s angry with herself.

She’s picked up the phone with the intent of contacting Lena dozens of times in the last week, only to chicken out at the last moment. She could be fighting, or at least trying, to change Lena’s mind – but instead she’s holed up in her apartment, eating junk food and avoiding Alex’s calls. She’s so afraid of being rejected again that she hasn’t tried, and she hates herself for it.

She finally feels a twinge in her wrist as her knuckles connect, and she eases off, stretching out her arms and shoulders. She should probably shower – she’s sweaty, and her bathing habits haven’t exactly been stellar the last few days – but instead she flops on the couch and turns on the TV.

On the screen Will Ferrell and Jon Heder skate overdramatically to a Lonestar song, and Kara throws the remote across the room with a strangled yell. She barely fights off the sudden urge to cry. Blades of Glory, once one of her favourite goofy movies, now just reminds her of Lena and the situation she’s trying to escape.

Of course, now that the remote is somewhere near the front door with the batteries scattered across the floor, she can’t turn it off.

She watches their ridiculous performance, taking a forlorn bite of room-temperature pizza. Empty takeout boxes litter her coffee table and kitchen, and she’s well aware of how much of a mess she is over something that wasn’t even technically a real breakup, but she can’t bring herself to care just yet. Every time she thinks about Lena there’s a responding twinge in her chest, and memories have been playing on a loop in her mind for a week.

There are a hundred little things she misses about Lena. She misses her scrunchy smile and the high, surprisingly girly sound of her laugh, which she always tries to hide with a hand over her face. The prominent beauty mark in the middle of her throat, the one that practically calls out for Kara to kiss it. She misses the way she runs her teeth gently over the edges of her fingertips when she’s nervous without biting down, as if she’s trained herself to stop chewing her nails but finds the memory of it comforting. How she somehow manages to always smell good, even after four straight hours of exercise.

She’s torn between wanting to drown the memories out and not wanting to forget a second they spent together, so instead she hides in her apartment and hopes the answer will come to her.

Just as Jimmy and Chazz are attempting the Iron Lotus and Kara is contemplating pulling the shutters in her room and sleeping for the next few days, there’s a familiar pounding knock on her door.

“Kara, I know you’re in there. I can hear your TV.”

Kara groans, pulling a couch pillow over her face. She’s been avoiding Alex for a reason – she’s been skeptical of Lena since the beginning, warning that ‘a 25-year-old closeted figure skater with a crazy coach mom is a recipe for disaster’, and Kara doesn’t want to face the music just yet.

“Go away, Alex.”

“I have a key to your apartment, so I’m coming in anyways. The knock was a courtesy.”

Kara groans again, flipping over and burying her face in the cushions. She hears the key turning in the lock, and Alex throwing her jacket over a chair. She pulls her face from its hiding place long enough to level Alex with her best sisterly glare, and Alex just raises her eyebrows, taking in Kara and then the state of her apartment in silence.

“You look like shit.”

Kara huffs, burying her face in the dark safety of the couch again. “Why are you here?” She mumbles, knowing that Alex can still hear her.

“Because this is the sixth day you haven’t left your apartment or answered my calls, and I’m done letting you wallow.” The remote lands on Kara’s back, and she wiggles her body until it slides off and onto the floor. She hears Alex rooting through the kitchen, making disgusted sounds. “God, Kara, your place is a mess. You weren’t even this bad after your breakup with Leslie, and you guys dated for almost a year.”

“’m just so sad.” Kara admits quietly, her cheek squishing against her arm as she turns her head to the side. “I miss her.”

Alex perches on the edge of the couch, rubbing a comforting hand on Kara’s back. “I know, Kara. But you can’t stay cooped up in here forever. You’re going to go shower, because you stink. And I’m going to round up all these gross takeout boxes. And then we’re going to go to a bar to drink lots of tequila, and tomorrow, you’re going to get your shit together.”

She has to admit, by the time she’s showered and groomed and being pushed out the door, she does feel a bit better. She drinks, and hustles a few egotistical men at pool, and she even manages to hold herself together when one of the pretty servers flirts with her, until she realizes she’s been comparing the poor woman to Lena in her head for 5 whole minutes. But, she does feel marginally accomplished when she stumbles back into her apartment and realizes she didn’t think about Lena for the whole cab ride home.  

She’s almost cheerful until she digs through her closet looking for her favourite sweater to sleep in – the soft black hoodie, with the fleecy interior – and realizes with sudden clarity that she lent it to Lena. She was wearing it the day they kissed. She still has it.

Her good mood evaporates, then. She crawls into bed sweaterless, and pulls up the photo that used to be her phone background – the one from their night together, where Lena looked so carefree and disheveled and beautiful. The picture starts to blur, and Kara realizes that her pillow is wet.

Alex is right. Whatever was between her and Lena is probably over, and she has to start trying to move on. But, she decides as she cries quietly into her pillow, not tonight. Not yet. For now, she’s going to miss Lena. Maybe once the thought of her doesn’t make her chest ache, she can take Alex’s well-meaning advice.

 


 

 

“I defend the people I care about.”

The flutter in her stomach, clear blue eyes looking at her with affection, a bright smile -

“Well, now you have someone who will stand up for you, always.”

Warm lips and soft hands on her hips and heat and pressure

A knock sounds on the change room door, and Lena snaps out of her reverie.

“Hey Lena, you coming? Lillian is getting impatient.” James’ voice is muffled by the wood, but he sounds nervous, and Lena shakes herself. She’s probably been sitting here for almost 10 minutes, staring into space.

More specifically, staring at the wall near the door, where just over a week ago Kara had pinned her and given her the kiss of her life.

She feels like she’s slapped in the face with it every time she enters the room – it taunts her as she laces her skates, plays on a loop in her head as James lifts and spins her with too-large hands and misses his cues. With Kara, this was effortless. Their hands fit together perfectly, and she was always on her mark. Going back to skating with James has been like trying to squeeze back into an ill-fitting dress. Kara showed her what chemistry is, and now it just doesn’t feel right.

But as much as she’d love to keep skating with Kara, she knows that she messed it up. Their friendship, their partnership, and whatever else it was that they might have been headed towards. James is back now, and he deserves a shot at a Worlds title if he wants it. Besides, Lillian is convinced that this will work, and Lena has no choice but to follow.

She finally trudges out onto the ice, her mind still stuck in the endless churning thoughts that have been keeping her up at night since Kara left.

Should I have stopped her?

The practice goes as well as it usually does – she does her best, and James struggles to keep up. Lillian tuts disapprovingly and blames the mistakes on Lena, and they start over again. Finally Lillian leaves to make a phone call, and James relaxes slightly for the next run-through.

This time when James catches her out of her first jump, she hears a grunt of pain. Immediately she’s on her feet, looking at James in concern. He’s standing on one foot, rolling his ankle and wincing. Lena shakes her head – Kara was right. He should never have come back.

“James! You clearly haven’t healed properly. If you keep skating on it, you’ll injure yourself permanently.”

“I know, I know.” James moves it gingerly back and forth, frowning. “I’m sorry, Lena. I can’t do it.”

“I know. It’s all right.” Lena can’t decide whether she feels disappointed or relieved. She wants to compete more than anything, but all the last week has shown her is that skating this routine with anyone but Kara feels undeniably wrong.

James sighs good-naturedly. “Maybe you should try skating solo again. I’m not ready for the big leagues, anyways. You’ve always been better than me.”

Lena scoffs. “Oh, stop. Besides, there isn’t time. This is the routine I have. I suppose I could ask Kara…” The thought of asking Kara, after what happened, makes her feel ill. And the worst part is, she knows that with her kind heart, Kara would probably say yes despite her own feelings. Lena can’t put her in that position.

“I thought you and Kara weren’t working well?” James says, taking a seat on the bench and easing off his skate. “I guess a partner you dislike is better than nothing, though.”

Lena blinks, frowning at him. “What?”

“That’s what your mom said. She said that you really wanted me to come back because Kara was driving you crazy. I was surprised – I’ve never seen Kara not get along with anyone.”

“My mother told you that?” Realization is dawning, and Lena suddenly sees her mother’s grimy fingerprints all over the broken pieces of her current situation.

“Yeah. Why?” James asks, looking concerned.

“She encouraged you to come back before you were ready, because she said that Kara and I weren’t getting along?” Lena clarifies, feeling a powerful wave of concentrated rage wash over her as the pieces finally click together.

“More or less.”

“Son of a bitch.”

She leaves James to explain his injury to Lillian, and bolts from the building as quickly as possible. By the time she gets home, she’s so worked up that all she can do is pace.

Lillian did this. She pressured her, made James come back, forced Kara to leave -

Lena halts abruptly, her heart sinking. It isn’t true. She knows it isn’t, and the thought makes her want to start crying again.

Lillian didn’t make Kara leave. Lena did.

She could have fought, could have told her mother to shove it, could have been brave. But she wasn’t. She wanted to be safe. She let her mother manipulate her, just like always, and in the process she lost the only person who ever made her feel free.

She feels an overwhelming need to hear Kara’s voice, to apologize for being so weak and afraid and stupid. Kara might not even want to talk to her, but she has to try. She pulls out her phone, her finger hovering over the call button, and almost gives up until she glances at Kara’s contact photo – she’s beaming at the camera, giving the thumbs up in her Team Canada mittens from the Vancouver Olympics. She’d brought them to practice and made Lena take the picture to remind her how sure she was that they were going to qualify for next year.

Finally she hits the button, her heart pounding as the line trills. Each unanswered ring makes her more nervous, and she’s about to hang up and rethink the whole thing when it finally stops.

The person who answers is decidedly not Kara.

“Hello?”

Lena hesitates at the unfamiliar voice. Anxiety and something else roll in her stomach – who is this woman? Is Kara dating someone?

“Um, yes. Hi. I’m looking for -”

“Kara isn’t here.” The woman is abrupt, almost to the point of rudeness, and Lena bristles at the tone despite her nerves.

“I just need to talk to her for a minute.”

The woman sighs. “Look, Luthor, she doesn’t want to talk to you right now. Leave it, okay?”

The woman sounds like she’s about to hang up, and Lena panics. “Please – can  you just – James is injured again, my mother made him come back too soon, and I need to apologize –“

“I’m sorry to interrupt what I’m sure is a very sad story, but –“

The stern woman is interrupted herself before she can finish. “Alex, give me the phone –“

Kara. Kara is there, and the woman on the phone is Alex, her sister. A relief so intense that it weakens her knees sweeps through her, and she doesn’t have the emotional energy to examine why exactly that is.

The woman’s voice is more distant now, and she can hear them arguing. “Kara, you asked me to answer the phone, and I did!”

“Give me the phone!” There’s an audible scuffling sound, and finally she hears Kara’s voice in the receiver.

“Lena?”

She intended to ease into her speech, but anything she had prepared flies out the window immediately. “Kara, thank god. I’m so sorry – for what I said, I was wrong, I shouldn’t have asked you to go, I was just – my mother, and –“

“It’s okay, Lena. I overreacted.” Lena hears the sound of a door closing, and Kara sighs. “I should be happy that you’re going to be successful. James is probably the best bet for that, anyways.”

“James is injured again.”

“…oh.”

“Yes. He –“

“So you’re calling because you need me again.” Kara sounds resigned, and Lena is quick to try to soothe it.

“No! No. I’m…” Lena rubs her forehead, frustrated. “I’m calling because I just found out that my mother persuaded him to come back before he was medically ready by telling him we hated each other. She didn’t want us to skate together, and I fell right into her trap, and I was wrong. And I’m sorry.”

There’s a long pause, and Lena tries to hold back tears. She’s not going to forgive me. And she’s right.

But finally, Kara speaks up quietly.

“That’s a lot of ‘ands’.”

Lena lets out a watery chuckle, and sniffles slightly. “Well, I made a lot of mistakes.”

When Kara replies, there’s an optimistic note to her voice that Lena hopes she isn’t imagining.

“I’ll skate with you on one condition.”

Lena’s heart soars. Anything, Kara. Anything. “What’s your condition?”

“We do our routine.”

Lena exhales, smiling. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

 


 


Lena’s legs bounce at an almost vibrating frequency as she sits on the bleachers, waiting for Kara to arrive. Her mother has gone home already, thankfully, and she asked Kara to meet her here partially because they need to practice more or less nonstop if they have any chance of doing well at Worlds.

But she also knows that she needs to fully apologize, to give Kara some kind of clear idea of what she wants out of this potential relationship besides a skating partner, and she has no idea how. She half-hoped it would come to her while she waited, but thus far all that’s come to her is mind-numbing nervousness and a slight urge to vomit.

She jumps to her feet when she hears the arena doors open, only to sit down again lest she look too eager. She wrings her hands, unsure whether she should look up as Kara climbs the stands to reach her – will the eye contact be awkward? Is it rude to not look up? – but in what seems like no time at all Kara is sitting beside her, and Lena’s mind goes blank.

Following her most basic instincts, she raises her eyes to Kara’s face, and finds her clear blue eyes crinkled in a soft smile.

“Hey.” Kara offers quietly, and Lena releases a long-held breath, her shoulders sagging.

“Hi.”

 Kara just keeps smiling, her eyes moving over Lena’s face like she’s trying to memorize it. The attention makes her feel tense and exhilarated all at once, and she opens her mouth to launch into her unplanned apology.

Before she can start talking herself in circles, Kara holds up a hand.

“I know that all of this – everything, coming out to me. What happened…between us. I know it must be a lot for you. So maybe we don’t need to do this right now. We just need to nail this performance. Everything else can come after. Okay?”

Lena sags in relief. She has no idea how the next week is going to play out when they haven’t taken the time to talk about this, but she takes the out gratefully.

“Yes. Okay. I – yes.”

When they start to practice, there’s no need to ease back into their partnership - it feels like Kara never left. It feels natural. It feels like home. They’re well into the second half when they’re interrupted.

“Lena, what on earth are you doing?”

Lena flails mid-lift at the sound of her mother’s voice cutting unexpectedly over the ice, but to Kara’s credit she doesn’t actually fall. Kara just slides her gently into a bridal carry, skidding to a slow stop before letting her down. She barely even has time for her usual flustered reaction to Kara’s easy strength before her mother is firing up a rant.

“Did I not tell you that you won’t be skating with her? What is she doing here? If you truly intend to compete with her as a partner, I’d rather you just retired –“

“She’s here because I want her to be.” Lena interjects, hoping that she sounds more confident than she feels. Thankfully Kara’s hand lands softly on her lower back, and the steadying touch calms her. “I know what you did. Lying to James so that he’d come back. You put his career in jeopardy. You may prefer that I give up rather than skate with Kara, but I’m not abandoning the best chance I have just because you don’t want your daughter to embarrass you.”

“The best chance? Lena, darling, your best chance is to wait –“

“Until you can find me a partner you can easily control? No, mother.” Lena says firmly. “Kara and I are going to Worlds, with or without your support.”

Lillian scoffs. “You need a coach, Lena. Besides, I cancelled your reservations in Milan already.”

“But not mine.” Kara pipes in, and Lillian’s glare darkens. “I still have a hotel room, and if we can’t book you another plane ticket, you can have Alex’s. She was going to come to watch, but getting you there is more important. And my old coach J’onn has already agreed to help out.”

Lillian’s eyes narrow as she realizes that she’s been outmaneuvered. “You’re going to regret this, Lena.”

“Maybe. But at least I’ll have tried. If you’ll excuse us, we have a routine to rehearse.”

Lena starts the music again, and by the time they finish their run-through, Lillian is gone.

She does end up needing Alex’s plane ticket, in the end. Alex gives it up with minimal grumbling, but insists on giving Lena a serious talk over the phone about trust and loyalty and not breaking her sister’s heart again because she has the entire women’s National hockey team on standby. At Lena’s nervously stuttered reply, Kara snatches the phone back and scolds her, but the message is received.

With the exception of the shovel talk from Alex, Lena feels surprisingly good. By the time she’s packing her suitcase to head to Milan, she feels more confident about the quality of their performance than she ever did with James. If they don’t get a high score, it’ll be the fault of the judges, not their dance. She relaxes enough on the plane to share a set of headphones with Kara to watch Moana, and Kara annoys the people around them (and utterly charms Lena) by singing along, They arrive around 9pm, and signing into the hotel goes well enough that she’s feeling surprisingly happy.

She’s just imagining how wonderful it’s going to be to sink into a soft bed and go to sleep when she opens the door to find that instead of two double beds, their room as a single queen mattress.

She freezes in the doorway and Kara walks into her, letting out a quiet ‘oof’ at the collision.

“Lena? What’s up?”

“Um. Nothing. I just – I wasn’t expecting one bed.”

Kara peeks around her shoulder, and winces.

“Shoot. I forgot about that. The room was booked for me and Alex, so I didn’t even think –“

“It’s fine!” Lena cuts in, her voice unnaturally high. She moves into the room and starts unzipping her suitcase, putting things into drawers at a fast pace to distract from her suddenly racing thoughts.

“I’ll sleep on the floor, Lena, it’s not a big deal.”

Lena sighs. “I’m not going to make you sleep on the floor when there’s a perfectly good bed. I can’t have you waking up sore tomorrow.” It’s a flimsy justification and she knows it, but that part of her brain is being overridden by the part that remembers how well she slept the last time they shared a bed. How good it felt to wake up with Kara’s heartbeat steady in her ear, with warm arms around her. Decision made, she grabs the first pair of pyjamas she sees and heads to the bathroom to change.

When she emerges in a t-shirt and shorts, her teeth freshly brushed, Kara is sitting on the bed with her own pyjamas in her hands, her legs bouncing erratically. She looks up when Lena opens the door and freezes, her eyes wide and trained on Lena’s bare thighs. The staring goes on for a few moments past friendly admiration, and the intensity of her stare makes Lena feel hot. She shifts, rubbing them together and pulling the hem on her shorts down slightly.

“Um. All yours.” She manages, and Kara snaps out of it, her eyes moving back up to the relative safety of Lena’s face. She makes a beeline for the bathroom, red-faced, and brushing against Lena slightly as she passes.

“I’m going to...have a shower.”

The door closes quickly, and Lena puts Kara’s weird behaviour down to the stress of the situation. She settles herself in bed, scrolling through her newsfeed and trying not to think about Kara in the next room, completely naked, eyes closed against the spray – she hasn’t seen Kara’s back without a shirt being in the way, but based on the way she lifts it’s probably fucking magnificent -

She hears a strangled shout from the bathroom, and it shakes her out of her inappropriate daydream. Worried that Kara might be hurt, she calls out tentatively.

“Kara? Are you okay?”

“Fine! I’m good!” The reply is high-pitched and rushed, but Lena shrugs it off. Maybe she fell. Or cut herself shaving.

The water stays running for some time after that. By the time Kara emerges, her hair damp and wavy and her skin still shiny from the steam, Lena is a bundle of nerves. She’s taken the right side of the bed, the lamp on Kara’s side still on so that she can find her way around the room. Kara hesitates, hands wiping nervously on her loose capri pants.

“Lena, honestly, I can still –“

Lena huffs, flipping the covers off of the left side of the bed. “Kara. Get in here.”

Kara climbs in carefully, settling so that they’re a fair distance apart. After a few minutes, Lena can hear her fingers drumming nervously on her stomach. The sound makes her feel a bit better – at least she’s not the only one feeling awkward.

 “Kara?”

“Hmm?”

How the hell do I tell you I want you to hold me?

“I’m…cold.” She ends up saying, wincing at the obvious play.

“Oh! Do you need another blanket? I’m sure I could get one from the front desk –“ Kara is immediately sitting up, ready to help, and Lena almost groans in frustration.

“No! No, I just…could you maybe, come closer?”

There’s a pregnant pause, and Kara slowly lowers herself back down to the pillows. “Oh. Um.”

“You don’t have to.” Lena corrects quickly, cursing herself. Stupid, stupid. “We can just – actually, you know what, maybe I’ll go try to find another room. Or, another hotel, maybe in another city –“

“No! No. I was just – surprised, is all. Come here.” In the dark she feels Kara move her arms more than she sees it, but she lies still, stinging from the perceived rejection. Kara sighs.

“Lena, come here.” Kara’s arms are open, and she really does seem warm – heat radiates from her like a furnace, and it’s incredibly tempting. Lena slowly inches over, and finally Kara just scoops her up and pulls until Lena is resting on her chest. She twines their legs together, and Lena can feel the scratch of short hairs on her calf.

If she wasn’t shaving, what was she doing in there for so long?

Kara’s disembodied voice interrupts her thoughts. “Is this okay?”

“Yeah –“ Lena’s voice comes out unnaturally high, breaking a bit, and she clears her throat. “Yeah. This is…good.”

Kara’s heartbeat thumps away under her ear, but soon enough it slows to something smoother and more calming. Finally the even beat, in tandem with her soft breathing and the light stroking of her thumb over the skin of Lena’s shoulder, lulls her into a comfortable sleep.

 

She’s incredibly thankful for that sleep by breakfast time the next morning, when Kara makes her drink a smoothie for the calories and she throws it up 15 minutes later.

After brushing her teeth vigorously, she refuses any more food for the rest of the day.

She’s always nervous, before competitions. Especially so during large ones like Nationals or Worlds. But with the stakes riding on this performance, with the added pressure of having no idea whether their score will be affected by their unconventional partnership, she feels like she’s going to shake out of her own skin. Her hands are clammy as she changes into her costume and laces her skates, and when they wait on the bench for their turn on the ice, watching the other competitors perform, she grips the wood underneath her so hard that her knuckles turn white.

The couple before them receives their score – 71.66, a decent score, but not great – and panic rises inside her like bile as she realizes they’re going to be on the ice in just over a minute. Kara must see her expression, because she takes hold of her shoulders and grips until Lena meets her eyes.

“Hey. Lena, we’re going to be great, okay? We’re gonna be fine.” Lena can’t even collect the strength to nod. Her breathing is coming faster and faster until she starts to feel dizzy – is this what a panic attack feels like

Just as Lena feels like she’s lost control completely, she’s locked in an embrace so tight that she can practically feel the red marks Kara’s hands must be leaving on her skin. It has the effect of a weighted blanket - her chest, which had been so tight that she was almost gasping, relaxes almost instantly. Her forehead falls onto Kara’s shoulder, and her arms wrap around Kara’s neck naturally.

“Feel my breathing.” Kara murmurs in her ear, her voice low and even. “Just follow my breathing.”

Kara’s chest rises and falls rhythmically, and slowly Lena matches it. The panic ebbs away as the seconds pass and their breaths sync – she burrows her face even deeper into the familiar space between her shoulder and neck, and she can feel the strong pulse under the skin of Kara’s jaw. Maybe she’s imagining it, but she feels like their heartbeats have synced up as well. She’s endlessly pleased when Kara seems to feel the same.

“Do you feel that? That’s us. Just you and me.” Kara whispers, just for Lena to hear. “One breath, one heartbeat.” Slowly she pulls away, and Lena reluctantly lets go.

Kara cups her face gently. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Lena replies, nodding. “Yeah. I’m good.”

The moment is interrupted by the deep, comforting voice of Kara’s coach. “You’re up.” J’onn says, opening the door onto the ice with a wink. “Good luck.”

The panic of the morning is gone as they wave to the crowd and their names are announced, their hands linked tightly.

“Representing Canada: Lena Luthor, and Kara Danvers.”

She lets go of Kara’s hand and takes her position, her breathing even and deep just like Kara showed her. Then the music starts, and everything fades away. The noise of the crowd, the bright lights of the arena, the chill of the air – it all disappears until her world narrows to the music, Kara’s confident face across the ice, and her own heartbeat, in sync with her partner.

Her skates carve smoothly as she arcs around to the first lift, and the moment Kara catches her and she feels soft lips brush the back of her neck, her nerves melt into pure exhilaration. They’re absolutely in tune with each other – there isn’t a moment of hesitation on their synchronized spins. Kara’s hand is always there when it needs to be, and eventually Lena doesn’t even need to look for her next mark, because Kara is there to guide her. Instead she loses herself in the passion of the moment, in their shared breaths and almost-kisses between lifts, letting the feelings that well up inside her flow out through her movement.

By the time they’re gearing up for the axel, she’s in a state of nirvana. She hasn’t had a moment to even think about being nervous about the trick - Kara is steady beside her, and as they jump simultaneously she knows before she’s even hit her second rotation that she’s going to land. They hit the ice again on the same beat, at the same angle, and the knowledge roars through her with the collective gasp of the crowd – it was flawless. This is the skate of her career.

Kara flips her up into the middle lift effortlessly, and Lena can feel everything – Kara’s hands braced on her hipbones, the muscles of Kara’s shoulders moving under her hands, and the heat and press of Kara’s face between her thighs as she wraps them around her shoulders. Instead of distracting her, the sensations light her up from the inside. Distantly she can hear the crowd cheering for the complicated and intense lift, and as they spin out of it and the music changes key to something slower, she locks eyes with Kara and knows that she feels the same.

When she finally spins to face Kara for the smooth waltz steps just before their next lift, Kara is doing something she’s never done before – she’s mouthing the words to the song, her eyes locked on Lena’s.

‘I love you, till the end of time…’

The sight sparks something inside her that she doesn’t have time to analyze. A second later she’s putting her sharp skate on Kara’s thigh, being held up by her calves, and all she can do is pour this new spark into her expression as she raises her hands to the crowd in time with the swelling music. She can hear them respond, the entire half of the arena that she’s facing erupting into white noise, but it’s as if it’s coming from underwater for all she can pay attention to it – her focus is on Kara’s arms holding her close during the final moments of the routine. When they finally end with a spinning lift and a dip, the noise comes back as if she’s broken the surface again – the crowd is cheering. Kara is breathing hard into her neck, and Lena is somehow crying and laughing at the same time, and Kara pulls her out of the dip and into a crushing hug. Lena’s skates leave the ice as Kara lifts her up and spins a few times, and Lena laughs joyfully into her shoulder.

She manages to collect herself enough to look mildly composed as Kara lets her down and they make their bows, and when they reach their area of the bench, J’onn is actually smiling, He hugs Kara hard, murmuring something in her ear, and Lena starts to busy herself getting them both water bottles when J’onn opens his arms to her as well.

She hesitates for a moment, but finally lets herself be drawn into his embrace. Her hug is quicker, but he murmurs in her ear as well in his deep, soothing voice – “I’m proud of you too, Lena. You were fantastic out there.”

Lena’s eyes well up unexpectedly at that, and she pulls away to wipe delicately at her eyes. J’onn seems to understand – he focuses on Kara again, letting Lena get herself together. This entire experience has been so foreign – she’s never had the crowd visibly react to her routine before, and she’s certainly never had a warm welcome on the sidelines. Lillian usually started in on Lena’s mistakes the moment she got off the ice, so that by the time she got her scores she wanted nothing more than to disappear into the changerooms and be alone.

This time she wants to disappear into their changeroom as well, but for an entirely different reason. And she certainly doesn’t want to be alone. Kara is holding her hand tightly as they wait on their scores, and for the first time Lena’s mind isn’t on how well she did or didn’t do. It’s playing a loop of moments – Kara lifting her, the intensity of her eyes during the routine, their lips almost brushing between lifts, her face between Lena’s thighs, her lips mouthing ‘I love you’, their interrupted kiss back home, waking up tangled together this morning like it was the most natural thing in the world – she wants Kara with a sudden intensity that should scare her, but it only makes her feel free again for the first time in years.

She doesn’t tear her eyes from Kara’s face until their names are finally announced.

“Representing Canada – Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor.” The announcer’s voice is calm, revealing nothing, and they wait with baited breath, staring up at the board in apprehension.

“Score: 82.43.”

At first, Lena thinks she must be hallucinating. She hasn’t been paying close enough attention to the scores today to know who is currently in first place, but the highest score ever at Worlds was 82.14. She knows this. And somehow, they scored higher? It must be a mistake. She turns to Kara to voice this, but then J’onn has wrapped an arm around each of them and pulled them to their feet.

“Did you hear that? You’re in first place. 82.43, nobody is going to beat that!”

And then Kara is lifting her off the ground in a hug, squeezing her tight and talking in her ear – “We did it, we did it, we have the highest score, they’d be crazy not to qualify us –“ and it roars over her all at once.

They did it. They honestly did it – she went against her mother’s wishes and took the leap, and it worked. She has no idea whether they’re actually going to get to the Olympics in the end, or whether the committee will try to keep them out, but right now this is enough. This is proof that they can do this. Kara puts her down, cupping her face and beaming, and Lena turns to J’onn.

“How many more routines are there until the medal ceremony?”

“Two, I think. Why?” J’onn asks, but there’s something knowing in his gaze. That fact, and the fact that he makes no move to stop her, makes her brave.

“We’ll be right back.”

They should probably keep talking to J’onn, or the other competitors, or one of the curious people who have surrounded their little area after their incredible score popped up, but right now there’s only one thing Lena wants. It built up inside her during their dance, and now that their scores are in, it’s crashing over her like a tsunami – she wants Kara. She wants Kara now.

Taking Kara’s hand, she leads her quickly away from the benches and into the hallway towards the changing rooms.

 


 

“Lena, where are we going?”

Lena doesn’t answer, pulling harder on Kara’s hand as they turn a corner. And, honestly, Kara doesn’t really care what the destination is. She’s on cloud nine, and nothing short of a worldwide cataclysm could ruin her mood now.

That skate was life changing. Kara has always been excellent at figure skating, and she enjoyed it enough to follow her coach’s suggestion to go professional, but her heart has never been fully in it. She’s been winning championships in various levels of singles skating for years, but they felt empty. She decided to take a break from competition rather than try for the Olympics because it felt wrong to take a title away from someone whose entire life is the sport when she’s only half in it herself. But then Lena came along, and with her, skating feels different.

Now she feels the passion and love for the sport that she’s always heard about from other skaters. The routine isn’t just about her hitting her marks, but about being there for Lena, lifting her properly and guiding her through her spins, acting as the stage so that the everyone can see her shine. She’s finally found her calling – making the world appreciate the unstoppable talent of Lena Luthor.

They proved something huge with their score today – that same-sex pairs can skate at the same level as traditional couples. That two women can be an unstoppable force. Quite honestly, Kara wants nothing more than to find Lillian Luthor and rub this win right in her smug face.

But Lena seems to have different plans. She’s slowed down, and Kara notices that they’re outside the door to the changing room. Wordless, Lena shoves it open and glances around. Kara looks around too, curious – there’s nobody here. They’re all out on the ice, or watching the performances.

“Lena, shouldn’t we – I dunno, talk to people? Watch everyone else skate? What are we –“

In lieu of answering Lena locks the door behind them, fists a hand in Kara’s shirt, and pulls until their lips crash together.

Oh.

It’s nothing like their first kiss. That had been passionate, but rushed – like both of them were trying to get as much in as they could before the other shoe dropped, and when it did it they sprang apart like polarized magnets. This is different – this is molten. Lena has one hand in her shirt and one gripping the back of her neck, and she’s pulling her leg up and grinding as Kara presses her to the door. She’s whimpering into Kara’s mouth, her kisses hot and open.

Kara can't pretend she hasn't been thinking about this too. She's been thinking about it since they met; since before that, really, since James sent her those videos of Lena skating and she started down that slope like an untrained skier. She's been trying to put it out of her mind, this all-consuming desire to pin Lena to something and ravish her until her knees give out - she had even tried to take the edge off by fucking herself in the shower last night after a glimpse at Lena's curvy thighs almost put her in a coma.

But now, with Lena arching into her and practically begging to be taken, every moment of sexual tension from the last few months comes back with a vengeance.

All rational thoughts evaporate. She doesn’t care that they should be out watching and congratulating their competitors instead of hooking up in public. All she cares about is giving Lena what she needs. They’re both still in their costumes, they’re still wearing their skates, but it feels too good to stop and try to disrobe, the tension of months of almosts finally spilling over.

Her hands search for purchase, and she curses the tights and the dress for getting in the way of having her hands on Lena’s body. The garment is too high on Lena’s chest, and her efforts to pull it down and reveal more skin are proving fruitless. The glittery makeup from Kara’s face is now all over Lena’s shoulders as she bites at them, her teeth moving up Lena’s neck –

“Don’t mark me – fuck, we still – we still have to –“ Lena manages to gasp, and Kara softens her bites regretfully. Thank god one of us was thinking. If she was in charge, Lena would have been heading back out onto the ice covered in hickeys.

Lena seems to share her disappointment, at least. She tugs on Kara’s bun until her head raises, and bites down hard on her lower lip.

“Later – tonight. I want you to mark me later. Everywhere.”

That thought – Lena covered in the tangible proof of Kara’s touch, marks on her neck and breasts and stomach and inner thighs as she lowers her mouth to taste –

Fuck.

She gives up her quest to free Lena’s breasts from her shirt, and instead she drops to her knees on the padded ground. She flips up Lena’s skirt and presses it to her belly.

“Hold this.“ She mutters, her hands already occupied, and Lena does, looking down at her with blown-out pupils.

“I’m wearing tights, Kara, how –“

But Kara has found the seam, and with a show of strength she isn’t sure she’d be capable of without such a pressing incentive, she rips the leggings at the apex to reveal the tight briefs underneath.

Lena opens her mouth, and Kara gets the feeling she’s about to be scolded until she presses her tongue to the already-wet fabric, tasting and scraping gently with her teeth. Lena’s hips buck and the back of her head hits the door and whatever she meant to say deserts her in favour of a whine that she tries desperately to cut off by pressing a hand to her mouth.

Kara has to stifle her own moan when Lena slings a knee over her shoulder, a skate blade digging into the skin of her back. If Lena wasn’t wearing a guard on it, it probably would have ripped through the back of her shirt, and somehow the thought eggs her on even further. She pulls the briefs aside impatiently with her left hand, her right moving to tease with two fingers.

Before she can even try to take her time, Lena reaches down herself and yanks Kara’s hand until her fingers are buried deep. She makes a sweet, girlish noise, and Kara throws finesse to the wind. Her face is bracketed by Lena's thick thighs, like they're in some sort of improvised variation on their middle lift, and Lena is inches from her face without the barrier of fabric in the way, and finally she  gives in to her strongest impulse – she leans forward, and licks a broad stripe over her clit. The resulting gasp is well worth the burn in her muscles from holding Lena up with her shoulders.

Soon enough she’s fucking her in earnest, and any skill she has at this particular task is negated by the frantic movements of Lena’s hips against her face. It’s messy and fast, and Lena seems determined to grind herself to orgasm on Kara’s tongue rather than let herself be guided there – and Kara, face-first in Lena’s cunt and by all accounts having the time of her life, is perfectly content to let her. When Lena comes it’s like the venting of steam – pressure, a burst of searing heat, and afterwards, a low simmer.

Kara slips Lena’s shaking leg back to the floor, her fingers still buried, and Lena pulls her up to standing for a languid kiss.

“Do we have time to go again?” Kara murmurs, starting another slow rhythm. Lena shakes her head, but the gesture is contradicted by her hips, which pick the pace up immediately.

“Probably not.” She groans, as she grips Kara’s shoulders and her head rolls back to hit the door again.

“Do you care?” Kara asks, slipping in a third finger.

Fuck. God, no.”

Lena comes the second time with a shout muffled by Kara’s shoulder, and the distant sound of applause.

For a few moments they share breath, their chests rising and falling in tandem as their eyes lock, and Kara can’t stop her grin. Slowly, like a long-awaited sunrise, Lena smiles too.

The moment is interrupted by the announcer’s voice, which can be heard even through the closed door: “The judges are making their final deliberations. In a few moments, the final scores will be released.”

“Shit.” Lena mutters, and Kara reluctantly removes her fingers so that they can start straightening their hair and clothes. Glancing at the wall-length mirror at the other end of the room, they look a mess – Kara’s hair is half out of its style, and both their faces are smeared with glittery foundation and two shades of red lipstick.

“We are so talking about this later.” Kara says, giving Lena a final kiss before attempting to put herself together. Lena, busy trying to fix her tights, flashes her a grin.

“I hope we do more than talk.”

It takes a lot of willpower not to pin Lena to the wall again and get to work on destroying even more of her outfit.

They’re marginally successful in the end – after a few minutes work their faces are both clean, and Kara’s hair is twisted back up into something at least resembling her ruined hairdo. They find a few safety pins to hold Lena’s ripped leggings together temporarily, and by the time they’re jogging down the hall towards the ice, Kara is pretty confident in their ability to pretend they haven’t just been enthusiastically fucking less than 50 feet away. 

“Miss, Danvers, Miss Luthor.” A curt voice calls from behind them, and Kara is floored to see Cat Grant herself, in all her five feet and four inches of glory, walking towards them with the confidence that only comes with holding the hopes and dreams of hundreds of figure skaters in her manicured hands. “Congratulations on your score. A world record, as I hear.”

“Miss Grant!” Kara squeaks, and Lena’s hand is suddenly like a vice. “I – thank you, Miss Grant, honestly. I know we probably wouldn’t have gotten that score if not for you –“

“Oh, nonsense.” Cat waves them off with a knowing smile. “You make a beautiful pair, anyone can see that. Don’t let anyone come between that connection. You’ll need it next year.”

Lena’s fingers are clasped so tightly around hers that she’s already lost circulation. “Thank you. We’ll try.”

“They’ll be reading the scores soon. You wouldn’t want to miss your big moment.” Cat hints, and Lena starts to tug on Kara’s hand, pulling in the direction of the ice as if she’s just remembered the urgency of the situation.

“Oh, and Miss Danvers? You have lipstick on your neck.” Mortified, Kara swipes at it, and blushes when she sees dark red on her fingers. “Best clean that up before you see any press, hm?”

And then Cat is gone, and they’re left standing in the hallway, blinking and not entirely sure that the entire conversation wasn’t an elaborate hallucination.

“’You’ll need it next year’? Did Cat Grant just tell us we’re going to the Olympics?” Lena hisses, lowering her voice as they enter the arena to curious stares.

“I have no idea –“ But Kara’s answer trails off when they reach the bench and see J’onn arguing with someone. Someone tall and elegant, who peers impatiently around J’onn’s head to spot Lena entering. Lena freezes, her hand flexing in Kara’s like she wants to let go before changing her mind and squeezing tighter. Lillian’s judgement is palpable. She approaches them, reaching out to fuss with Lena’s bun.

“Lena, darling. Your hair is half falling out, what on earth happened?”

Lena slaps the hand away. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to watch you do my routine.” Lillian replies, her mouth pursing at Lena’s clear insubordination. “I can’t say I enjoyed the alterations – next time I’ll have to make sure I don’t leave you and Miss Danvers alone, won’t I?”

“Next time?” Kara speaks up, levelling Lillian with her best glare. “What do you mean, next time?”

“I’m Lena’s coach. Surely you don’t think that one little tiff is going to stop me from making sure she succeeds?” Lillian sneers, and Kara starts to step forward to tell her exactly what she thinks. She’s blocked by an arm.

“It’s okay Kara.” Lena says, turning back to Lillian. She swallows, her sharp jaw standing out as she braces herself. “I don’t need your help, mother.”

“You skated my routine.”

“We skated our routine, with alterations you would never have approved. And I did it with a partner you actively tried to separate me from. I broke a world record, and it had nothing to do with you.” Lena smiles suddenly, as if she’s finally figured something out. “That must kill you.”

Lillian’s jaw tightens, and her voice turns low and threatening. “Don’t be stupid, Lena. Without me, any sponsorship deals –“

“They’re in my name. And any that aren’t will stay exactly as they are, or I’ll tell the press – and the police – about Lex’s little parole-breaking hideaway.”

Lillian goes slightly pale. “You wouldn’t –“ Her fear seems to bolster Lena’s confidence.

“I would.” She says firmly. “I suppose I learned something from you after all. You’re fired, Lillian. Please leave.”

There are a few anxious seconds where Kara isn’t sure what Lillian will do. She and Lena are locked in an intense battle of wills, and the tension in both of their shoulders reminds her of two large cats, poised and ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness. She’s never seen Lena like this – quite frankly, she isn’t sure if she’s terrified or turned on.

Note to self: examine that later. At length.

Finally, Lillian breaks. Without a word, she spins on her heel and marches away. Somehow, Kara knows this won’t be the last they see of her, but as the tension eases out of Lena’s body she can’t find it in her to care. Whatever happens, Lena has made her choice clear. She pulls her into a hug, feeling more content than she can ever remember as Lena relaxes completely into the embrace, wrapping a hand around the back of her neck.

They finally separate when the scores are put up on the official board. Their names sit together at the top of the list, a full 4 points above their closest competitors – Siobahn Smythe and Winn Schott, from the U.S.

“Congratulations, girls.” J’onn says, clapping Kara on the shoulder. “If they don’t send you to the Olympics after this, I’ll petition them myself.”

Lena is beaming her real smile, the scrunchy one that Kara loves. Her phone goes off with what she knows is a text from Alex, watching the livestream at home. J’onn’s hand is warm and fatherly on her shoulder, and she can tell that she’s on the tail end of one of the best days of her life.

“Something tells me we’ll be okay.” She says, and Lena tucks herself into Kara’s arm, giving her a quick peck on the cheek.

The Olympics won’t know what hit ‘em.

Chapter Text

Thump.

“Kara!” Lena’s voice rings out from the bedroom, high and worried. “Did you remember to pack your contacts? I don’t see them here.”

Kara hears the telltale sound of a large zipper being undone, and she sighs. Clearly, the loud noise from before was the sound of Lena moving their luggage around. Again.

“Lena, we’ve gone over your list 4 times already, and we’ve re-packed twice. I doubt we’re forgetting anything.” Kara calls back over the noise of the TV, already playing pre-Olympic coverage. Lena huffs loudly enough for Kara to hear down the hall, and she hears even more movement. A few articles of clothing sail out the door and into the hallway.

“Where’s your gray sweater? The soft one?”

“It’s packed.” Kara says patiently, getting up from the couch to investigate. “Our flight is in the morning, we’re done packing. Why are you –“ As she enters the bedroom, her sentence cuts off when she sees Lena sitting on the floor in a pile of clothes, next to two open suitcases, looking close to tears. “Lena, what the heck –“

“I can’t find it.” Lena mutters, her lip quivering. “What if we get there and it turns out I forgot it?”

“You…wear another sweater?” Kara offers, but clearly it isn’t the right answer. Lena frowns, and her watery eyes start to spill over as she continues rooting through the suitcase.

Kara sits down in the detritus on the floor next to her, and takes her hands gently. “Babe, you’re crying. What’s this really about?”

“We’re going to the Olympics.” Lena sighs, her hands stilling in Kara’s as she stares at the floor in utter desolation.

“I…yes? Isn’t that a good thing? It’s what we’ve been working at for over a year.” Kara scoots closer, putting a gentle finger under Lena’s chin until her shiny eyes meet her own. “Is this not what you wanted?”

“It is!” Lena protests, but the tears spilling over her cheeks contradict her words. She sniffles for a moment, and continues. “I just…what if we fail? Cat Grant has a lot less power over the Olympic Committee. What if we get there, and we’re laughed out of the arena? Even if nobody knows that we’re dating, we’re still a same-sex pairing.”

Kara struggles not to flinch at the reminder of their secretive relationship. She’s okay with not being publicly out – they aren’t exactly famous, but word travels fast in the skating world, and Lena only started coming out a year ago. Even after their decisive victory at Worlds she’s still nervous about her sexuality affecting her career, and Kara wouldn’t dream of pushing her before she’s ready. They endured a media frenzy – or, at least, what can amount to a media frenzy in the skating world – after their performance. Being the first same-sex pair to win gold at Worlds, and the first female same-sex pair to ever compete, they were novel for a few weeks. They did interview after interview, Lena talking clearly and succinctly about their partnership while Kara stared at her with barely-disguised adoration.

And, behind the scenes, Kara got Lena all to herself. They explored each other with the same single-minded focus with which they explored their new routines – within a few months Kara had every inch of Lena’s body catalogued. She could map the freckles and moles on her skin with the accuracy of an astronomer looking at the sky. She knows every sound, every sensitive spot, how to make her race to the finish line with a word or two and a few well-placed strokes and how to draw it out until she’s absolutely begging. She’s had more incredible sex this year than every other year of her life combined and Lena has echoed her sentiments several times, sweaty and spent on various surfaces in each of their apartments.

But beyond the incredible partnership and the even more incredible sex, Kara has been getting to know Lena on a level deeper than anyone else in her life, save maybe Alex. They spend most of their waking hours together, and Kara had worried at first that they would get sick of each other between constant training and spending their mornings and evenings attached at the hip (and various other places), but thus far it hasn’t happened. She’s still fascinated by each surface fact she learns about Lena Luthor. She wears glasses with thick frames when she can’t be bothered to put her contacts in; she claims to hate coffee, but always drinks at least half of Kara’s vanilla latte; her apartment is minimally decorated, as if she’s constantly anticipating having to move, but almost every surface is littered with stacks of books, and she always has at least two in her duffel bag.

But even more fascinating are the deeper things. These took more time to come out – she learns them when Lena has had a few drinks or when she’s post-coital, stretched out and drowsy. Like how Lena still loves her mother, despite what she now acknowledges was emotional abuse, or how she sometimes wonders if her love for skating is real or some kind of Stockholm syndrome. She sometimes cries after particularly gentle sex, hot tears streaking down to her temples, and Kara has learned to just hold her until she’s through it. She talks about her brother sometimes, enough for Kara to learn that Lena looked up to him and has tangled, conflicted feelings about it. Kara collects each snippet like seashells on the beach, and tucks them safely into her ever-expanding heart.

It’s taken her nearly 10 months to admit it, but she’s finally allowed herself to acknowledge the truth – she’s in love. She loves Lena, in a way that she’s never quite felt before. There’s something powerful between them – she knows that Lena feels it too, even if she won’t admit it yet. There isn’t a single part of her that doubts that her feelings are reciprocated.

Even so, she can’t help but feel a bit sad every time Lena reinforces their ‘strong friendship’ to the press, or lets go of her hand when they’re in public.

Kara shakes off the feeling. Right now Lena needs reassurance, not Kara’s melancholy.

“We’re not going to be laughed out of anything. We broke a world record last year.” She says, wrapping an arm around Lena’s shoulders. They relax incrementally, until finally Lena slumps into her side, exhaling slowly.

“You’re right. I know, you’re right.” Lena nods, sniffling. She wipes at her face, looking abashed. “I’m sorry. I should be excited.”

“It’s okay. I know you’re excited, somewhere in there.” Kara pokes gently at Lena’s chest and provokes a giggle, grinning. 

“Now, let’s re-pack this stuff, and then cuddle until you feel better.”

Lena falls asleep on her shoulder on the couch a few hours later, and as Kara gently carries her to bed she takes a minute to reflect on the lead up to this moment, the night before their flight to the Olympics. They’ve spent a full year training with J’onn, crafting a routine meant to make them stand out – it’s both intensely technical and deeply emotional, and it’s shaping up to be an all-or-nothing leap off the cliff. They’re putting everything into this performance, possibly biased judges be damned.

Kara lays her down gently on the mattress and Lena makes an adorable grumbly noise, fisting a hand in Kara’s shirt and nuzzling into her chest. She can’t shake the feeling that after this performance, things are going to change between them, for better or for worse. Laying down beside Lena and pulling her close, she hopes that it will be the former.

 


 

 

“Here! Help me with this.” Kara gestures excitedly, pushing at the twin mattress beside the window until it rests up against the second bed, making a roomy double.

“It doesn’t look like you need help.” Lena looks at the slight gap between the beds, wiggling her foot into the space. “And, I don’t think this is going to work. One of us is going to end up on the floor.”

“I won’t let you fall!”

“You’ll be sleeping.”

“We can figure it out later. Come on, let’s go meet Alex!”

The Olympic Village is expansive, and Team Canada has a few floors of one of the towers to themselves. Alex and the rest of the women’s hockey team are two floors down, on the same floor as the common room and the cafeteria. Lena follows Kara down the stairs, trying to reconcile the warring feelings of excitement and apprehension that have been duking it out in her brain for weeks.

Later tonight is the opening ceremony, and tomorrow they’ll start their pre-booked practices at their designated arena. They have a few days before their event, ostensibly to prepare and rehearse, but Lena knows that most athletes use at least part of that time to party, hook up, and watch each other’s events. Kara has insisted they watch Alex’s games, and Lena herself wants to take some time to watch women’s skiing in the hopes of seeing an old friend. 

Two hours and several shots of hard liquor later, Lena’s breath rises in a frosty cloud in front of her as she follows the red-and-white clad crowd towards the arena. Kara walks beside her, looking adorable in her Team Canada hat and gloves and beaming at anyone who so much as looks in their direction, and Lena feels a surge of affection at her enthusiasm. She herself smiles and waves as much as she can, but she still feels strangely exposed under all the attention, despite knowing that to the crowd, she’s just another nameless face in a group of over 200 Canadian athletes.

This still feels like a dream, in some ways – she’s been working towards this moment, walking behind the flag and waving to a crowd of thousands as she competes at the highest level of athletics in the world, for what feels like her entire life. But she hadn’t expected to be doing so with her secret girlfriend at her side, feeling like anyone who looked closely enough could guess at their relationship and use it to hurt them.

It’s not that she’s ashamed of Kara. Quite the opposite – Kara is easily the best thing that’s ever happened to her. There are days where she aches to tell someone outside of their small group that Kara is her girlfriend, career be damned. But every time she tries to get up her courage, it’s overtaken by a deep, primal fear – she’s absolutely terrified to lose everything she’s worked for since she was old enough to put on a pair of skates. There’s still a voice somewhere in the back of her head that sounds frighteningly like Lillian – it tells her that she’s making a mistake, that she’s good for nothing besides skating, that this will ruin her - and she talks herself out of it every time.

She tries to shake herself from her spiraling thoughts as they’re ushered into a tunnel-like structure leading into the arena where the opening ceremony is currently in full swing. Groups of athletes in various colours stand around them, a few holding flags, and Kara starts to bounce on the balls of her feet. Her hair is in a bun under her wool hat, her jacket slightly undone to let in some cool air.

“Why are you so excited? You’re not even holding the flag.” Lena jokes, and Kara just grins. She throws her arms wide, like she intends to hug the whole world when they emerge.

“No, but we’re about to be on international TV!”

Lena feels a bit nauseous at the reminder.

In what feels like no time at all the crowd ahead of them starts to move forward, and Kara grabs her hand, holding tightly as they emerge into the brightly-lit coliseum. She feels like she’s in a haze – her ears are ringing, and it’s difficult to focus on anything beyond the red and black jacket in front of her. It all comes roaring into focus as Kara raises their joined hands up together – the crowd is screaming, the announcer is speaking in a language she doesn’t understand, and Kara is waving wildly to the spectators.

Finally she lowers their hands again, and Lena can see a jumbo screen above them – it pans wide over Team Canada, and she can see Alex and the rest of the women’s hockey team waving and jumping behind the flag bearer. As the camera comes in close for individual shots, she sees a brief glimpse of herself and Kara – they’re almost unrecognizable in their bundled winter gear, but it’s very clear that their hands are still joined, and Kara is looking at her with clear fondness.

Operating on a knee-jerk instinct, she rips her hand away, shoving it into her coat pocket instead.

She can practically feel Kara’s disappointment, can sense it in the way she slowly puts her own hand into her pocket and stops waving to the cameras. She’s almost solemn during the rest of the walk, a stark contrast to her earlier exuberance. Guilt claws at Lena’s insides, makes her stomach churn as they finish out the opening ceremony.

She can’t even explain why she did it – there were other pairs holding hands platonically. On the grand scale of things, and considering the passionate routine they’re planning to skate next week, hand-holding is something that she doubts anyone would have batted an eyelash at.

Kara deserves better. It’s a thought that Lena has often, more often than she’d care to admit. Usually she’s able to put it aside by talking to Kara, but this time she can’t. They’re surrounded by other athletes, and as soon as the ceremony is over they head back to the Olympic village in a multicoloured herd.

Kara perks up slightly when they all head to the rec room for a communal party, and by the time Kara is on her second game of flip cup with the women’s curling team, she seems to have forgotten about the incident altogether. But it still eats at Lena, makes the evening seem sour. She spends most of the party on one of the couches sharing a decent bottle of smuggled scotch with three speed skaters whose names she soon forgets. They’re friendly enough, and seem content just to make idle conversation, and Lena finds herself moderately buzzed by the time they take their leave to play fooseball.

When people finally start to filter out, most citing early training and events, Lena notices a few pairs that definitely don’t head back to their assigned rooms. Although, she muses as Kara closes and locks the door to their own room behind them and pulls Lena in for a deep kiss, she’d likely be doing the same had she and Kara not been assigned together.

Kara tastes like beer and minty gum, and Lena is sure that she still tastes a bit like scotch, and Kara pushes her down crossways on the joint beds and deepens the kiss easily. Lena, her buzz mostly worn off now, pushes lightly on her chest.

“Kara…”

“Mmm?” Kara answers, busy nipping at Lena’s collarbone. Lena arches into the sensation, reaching up to tangle her hand in Kara’s hair before hesitating, remembering herself.

“Kara?” She says again, and at her tone Kara raises her head, looking worried.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong? Did you not want to – we can just cuddle and watch TV, here –“ Kara starts to push herself off, but Lena hooks a finger in the collar of her shirt.

“No! It’s not that. I just…wanted to apologize.”

“For what?” Kara frowns, rolling onto her side and propping herself up on an elbow. She lays a hand on Lena’s stomach, slipping under her shirt slightly to caress the soft skin there. Her hair has started to come out of her bun, falling in wavy wisps around her flushed face. Lena reaches a hand up to cup her warm cheek.

“For earlier. During the ceremony.”

“Oh.” Kara nods, shrugging. “It’s okay, honestly.”

“No, it isn’t.” Lena sighs, frustrated. “I shouldn’t be so…scared all the time. I love being with you, and I should just be comfortable, like you are. I don’t know why –“

“Lena!” Kara interrupts, incredulous. “You only started coming out a year ago. You were raised by a woman who made you feel like you had to hide, building towards a career that has historically been pretty intolerant. It’s completely natural for you to be freaked out by holding my hand in front of that many people. I shouldn’t have pushed.”

Oh. Lena relaxes, relieved. This has happened a few times before, but still Lena is surprised by Kara’s easy understanding.

“I shouldn’t have pulled away.” She admits, and Kara grins, inching closer.

“So, can we call it a tie and keep making out?”

Lena laughs, tipping her head back and pulling Kara closer. “I’d love that.”

Eight minutes later, when she’s pulling at Kara’s boxer briefs with her teeth and grinning smugly as she’s rewarded with a strained whimper, she’d be hard pressed to remember what she was so upset about earlier that night.

 “Lena…” Kara groans, lifting her hips in a silent plea. Lena acquiesces, never able to deny her needs, and soon enough she has Kara spread out on the official blue Olympic bedspread, her face slick and two fingers curling.

Kara’s fingers fist in her hair, abs flexing as she tries valiantly to hold herself up and watch Lena’s mouth work; but since she’s lying sideways and the pillows are out of reach to her left, she’s forced to resort to flopping backwards and spreading her legs wider, pulling Lena’s mouth ever closer.

Lena adores how Kara looks when she’s like this – stomach quivering, legs braced, face flushed and contorted in pleasure as she waits for Lena to bring her over the edge. Kara generally takes the lead in bed, playing Lena’s body like a tuned instrument. There are days that Kara is so thorough, so absolutely relentless, that Lena will pass out before she can reciprocate, sweaty and exhausted. She always wakes up berating Kara on those days – she loves the way Kara makes her feel, but she also loves exploring Kara’s body on the same level.

So now, when she has Kara entirely at her mercy, she makes a point to take her time.

“You’re teasing.” Kara whines, her fingers flexing in Lena’s hair. Lena just grins, licking slow, deliberately wide strokes over her clit. She scissors her fingers gently, making Kara’s hips jump, and uses her shoulders to nudge Kara’s legs wider.

“Relax.” She murmurs, settling in. “I’ll get you there.”

Kara’s groan turns high-pitched when Lena gets to work in earnest, and rises consistently higher as Lena slowly coaxes her towards the edge.

Finally Lena takes pity, and removes her fingers. Kara makes a pathetic noise of protest, only to switch to a broken-sounding moan when she replaces them with her tongue. She swirls it inside as she moves her thumb up, rubbing hard and fast the way Kara likes. Within seconds Kara is seizing up, arching and whimpering a crescendo of curse words and exaltations until her hips finally land back on the mattress, trembling. Lena stays where she is, trailing gentle kisses and licks over sensitive skin and basking in the taste of Kara’s pleasure.

Kara’s voice is almost a croak as she licks her dry lips, sighing. “God, Lena. That was so - god. I…I lo-“

Before Kara can finish her sentence there’s a loud scraping sound, and the top half of their dual bed shifts almost a foot. With a squeak, Kara’s hips slip into the gap, her ass hitting the floor with an audible thunk and her arms and legs sticking straight into the air as her body is sandwiched between the beds in an uncomfortable V-shape.

For a moment Lena gapes at her, still kneeling with her face shiny and wet. Finally Kara wiggles enough that her face is visible, and she looks so shocked and disgruntled that Lena can’t help but laugh. Kara’s look of displeasure intensifies, and suddenly Lena is doubled over, laughing so hard that she has trouble breathing.

Tears spring to her eyes and she sprawls on her side, clutching her stomach – the giggles are even louder now, and even Kara has joined into the laughter, still wiggling in an attempt to free herself.

“It’s not funny, Lena –“ But Kara is giggling too, and when she finally manages to dislodge herself and join Lena on the bed, they laugh together long into the night, even after Kara flips her over and fucks her so hard that she practically bites through the pillow.

They fall asleep tangled and naked on a single bed, Kara having deemed her homemade double mattress ‘too dangerous’.

 


 

The next morning dawns crisp and cold, and Alex accompanies Kara and Lena to one of the first events – women’s downhill skiing. Ordinarily Lena wouldn’t be bothered to watch the other events, too focused on her own intensive training regimen, but one of her oldest friends is competing for the U.S., and she wants to be there at the bottom of the hill when she inevitably wins a medal.

“So, who is this ‘Sam’ and why haven’t I met her yet?” Kara wonders, sounding genuinely curious. Her hair is down today, spilling over her jacket and occasionally getting tangled in her zipper. As she asks the question it happens again, and she huffs, pulling it free.

“She lives in Utah.” Lena deadpans, taking the hair tie from her wrist and handing it over with a pointed look. Kara takes it gratefully, and ties her hair in a low ponytail under her hat. “I’ve mentioned her before - she’s a friend from university. Both of our parents allowed us to get a Bachelors degree as long as it didn’t impede our training.”

“And what did she study that you two got to know each other? Was she in Engineering too?” Alex asks, and Lena winces at the reminder that she probably should have shared her slightly complicated friendship with Sam sooner. She blushes slightly, clearing her throat.

“Um. Finance. I didn’t – we didn’t meet through classes.” In truth, they had met on a dating app – both closeted and terrified, their fling lasted a few weeks before they came to the conclusion that they were much more suited to being friends. Lena was still deep in denial and Sam was juggling school, training, and being a young single mother, but they had such a profound shared experience of intensive training, overinvested parents, and profound fear of discovery that they kept in touch. For the rest of their studies and afterwards, their friendship became a mutual rock.

Ordinarily, Lena’s awkwardness would have prevented any sort of friendship with a former hookup, but somehow Sam made it feel natural.

“Look, there she is. She runs second-last.” Lena points at the huge screen above them, where a tall, leggy woman in a Team USA ski suit is fastening her goggles and helmet, stomping her skis on the packed snow like a horse ready to gallop.

“Jeez. How does she fold those legs up to get any speed?” Kara muses, and Lena answers without thinking.

“You’d be surprised how flexible she is.”

Kara gives her a strange look, and Lena gazes fixedly at the screen, determined not to let her slip show on her face; despite her best efforts, she can feel a blush creeping up her neck, and she adjusts her jacket to cover it.

“Oh my god, you two totally hooked up, didn’t you?” Kara gasps, laughing. “Lena! Am I finally about to meet one of your exes?”

“I – it was only a few times, a long time ago, we haven’t –“ Lena stutters, but Kara has seized onto the new knowledge.

“Oh man, I have so many questions for her –“

Lena smacks her arm, secretly relieved. She’d been slightly worried about telling Kara about her history with Sam, especially when they were meeting for the first time – but as usual, Kara surprises her with her genuine openness.

When Sam’s turn finally comes, Lena grasps the metal barrier so hard that her knuckles turn white. She speeds down the hill like a bullet, spraying ice as she cleanly banks between markers, and Lena can almost imagine the commentators remarking on her perfect form. When she zips through the final checkpoint, her time flashes on the screens above – 1:39:69. Provided the final competitor doesn’t beat it, Sam just earned herself a bronze.

When she finally slows down enough at the base of the hill, 20 feet or so from where Lena stands, Sam rips her helmet and goggles off to look up at her time, shaking out her long hair. When she sees her placement on the board - solidly in third - she whoops loudly, jumping and almost tangling her skis together. A woman who looks like her coach jumps the barrier to hug her, and she waves to a few cameras dotted around the perimeter. Finally her bright eyes and on Lena, and she yells again, waving madly. Lena laughs, waving back.

Sam bends down to unclip her skis, and in the slight downtime it takes for her to do so, Lena happens to glance over at Kara and Alex. Kara is looking up at the board, squinting slightly against the sun, but Alex is staring directly at Sam. Her eyes track slowly up and down, her cheeks slightly flushed and her hands flexing idly on the metal bar of the barrier in front of her, and Lena grins slowly.

Oh, this is perfect. Alex is exactly Sam’s type – compact, surprisingly strong, and slightly grumpy. If she can pull this off right, they’ll be a downright perfect fit.

Finally Sam disengages herself from her equipment and jogs over, hugging Lena over the fence.

“You made it! I wasn’t sure if you’d be too busy for me!” Sam says with a cheeky grin, and Lena nudges her as they pull apart.

“Of course I was going to come see you compete! I wouldn’t miss it. Besides, Kara wanted to meet you.” She gestures to Kara, who holds out a friendly hand to shake with a tentative smile.

“Oh, none of that.” Sam scoffs, opening her arms. “I’m a hugger.”

Kara laughs, noticeably relaxing. She leans in for a hug, and seems to have let her guard down by the time she pulls away. “I like her already!”

Lena can see Alex fidgeting in her peripherals, and she stifles a laugh. “Sam - this is Kara’s sister, Alex.”

Alex offers an awkward wave, but soon Sam is pulling her into a hug as well. She emerges from it blushing and smiling in a way Lena has never seen before – even Kara is looking at her strangely, a small grin on her face.

“It’s great to meet you guys! I’ve got stuff to do right now, but we can meet for dinner later?”

Lena nods, giving Sam a parting hug before she takes off in the direction of her coach. She’d forgotten how tactile Sam is – it was something she had trouble getting used to when they first met, having spent most of her childhood thinking that hugs were something reserved for Lex.

“I like her.” Kara says, nodding easily as Sam trots away.

“Me too.” Alex says quietly, and Lena snorts. Clearly Alex hadn’t meant to say it out loud, because she wipes the goofy smile from her face quickly at Lena’s giggle. “I…have practice. I gotta go.” She turns on her heel and marches away, and Lena calls after her.

“Don’t forget to meet us for dinner! We can make it a double date!”

Alex flips them off without looking back, and it’s funny enough that Lena forgets to be nervous about people overhearing.

Sam meets them in the cafeteria after her medal ceremony, and after they’ve gotten their food and chosen a table, Lena makes sure to sit on the bench beside Kara so that Alex and Sam are forced to sit together. She watches in amusement when Alex’s tough exterior melts every time Sam interacts with her, how she blushes at Sam’s easy flirtatious tone.

Kara, however, seems completely oblivious to their obvious chemistry. She stuffs her face with food, laughs at Sam and Lena’s recounting of their college days, and coos over pictures of Sam’s daughter Ruby. Throughout the meal, Sam and Alex’s mutual flirting becomes more and more obvious until Lena can hardly believe that Kara doesn’t seem to have noticed.

Finally it reaches a breaking point, and when Sam leans forward and plants her hand firmly on Alex’s thigh after laughing at her joke, Lena claps her hands together and stands up.

“Well, I think it’s time for us to turn in, right Kara? We start practices tomorrow morning.”

Kara nods in agreement, taking Lena’s hand and letting her pull her to standing. “Definitely. Sam, it was great to meet you. Will we see you again this week?”

Sam gives her a bright smile and two thumbs up, Alex seeming to take no notice of her dorkiness – she’s still staring at her like she hung the moon.  

“You bet! Have fun, you two.” Sam winks, and not even the inference of her sister’s sexual activity is enough to break Alex’s admiration. Kara rests a gentle hand on Lena’s lower back as she directs her towards the stairs, and ordinarily the move wouldn’t warrant a second thought. But as they leave they pass table full of rowdy men, and one of them barks out a word that makes Lena’s blood freeze.

“Dykes.”

Immediately Kara stiffens beside her. She herself can barely think past the panic now roaring through her, the burning of what feels like a hundred eyes turned on them in judgement. For a few moments there’s silence, and all she can hear is the pounding of her own heartbeat – and then the room practically explodes with sound.

Suddenly Alex and Sam are both beside them, and Alex is poking a surprisingly intimidating pointer finger into the man’s chest as his friends rise to their feet. Then half the women’s curling team is there, and a group of snowboarders that Lena recognizes from the party last night, and Alex’s hockey team, and Kara has a tight arm over her shoulders that half of her is comforted by and the other half wants to shake off. She can’t tell who is yelling what, or who is on which side, but Sam whispers something in Kara’s ear and then Lena is being led towards the stairs.

It’s only when they reach the quiet of the stairwell that Lena realizes she hasn’t been breathing. She gasps a few short breaths, her chest tight, and Kara rubs her back. In her head is a mantra, an unrelenting intrusive thought – they know. They know.

She can tell that her legs are moving, but she has no recollection of willing them to do so. It feels like only a few seconds later when Kara slides their card key into the door and pulls her gently inside, locking it behind them. Lena sits shakily on the bed, staring sightlessly at the opposite wall.

“Lena?”

Kara’s tone is so hesitant, so nervous, that Lena feels suddenly guilty. Once again, she’s making Kara feel like she’s ashamed of her. Kara has always been sweet and understanding, and Lena is terrified that she’ll have a breaking point. That she’ll finally have had enough, decide that Lena isn’t worth it.

“I’m sorry.” She whispers, dipping her head to hide the obvious tears welling up. She picks at her thumbnail, needing something to do with her nervous hands to keep them from trembling. She’s ashamed of her reaction. She knows that this can’t be the first time that word has been used to describe their partnership, but somehow the combination of the setting, Kara’s obvious hand on her back, and the pure scorn in the man’s voice made her mind go blank.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m sorry that this happened.” Kara replies, sitting next to her and tentatively laying a warm hand over hers. “If it’s any consolation, I’m pretty sure Alex is down there kicking his ass right now. Along with most of the other athletes in the cafeteria.”

“Really?” Lena asks, finally looking at Kara. “They were all…defending us?”

“Of course they were.” Kara frowns, looking confused at Lena’s surprise. “They harassed us. We can report them, and they’ll probably get some sort of –“

“No!” Lena interjects loudly, and Kara jumps slightly at the volume. Lena takes a measured breath, and repeats herself. “No. I don’t want to cause a fuss.”

“A fuss? Lena, they yelled a slur at us –“

“Kara, please.” Lena asks quietly, and Kara closes her mouth, her face softening at the plea. Understanding dawns on her face, and she laces their fingers together.

“Okay. We’ll be more low key. Whatever you need.” Kara is so sweet, so understanding, and so achingly sad - and Lena is too scared to fix it.

“Lena, I…” Kara starts, her gaze soft with affection and something else, something Lena can almost identify. But she cuts herself off, something passing over her face. Instead she leans in, capturing Lena’s lips in a soft kiss. Shaking off the stress of the day and the strange feeling she picked up from Kara, Lena melts into it, into the comfort and distraction being offered.

Kara’s lips are soft, and she smells so familiar, and her hands are warm and strong. She pulls Lena onto her lap and in minutes they’re both stripped naked and entwined like tree roots, Lena straddling Kara and being held up primarily by their collective core strength – their chests are flush, Lena suddenly given a height advantage from her elevated position over Kara’s thighs.

Lena’s fear is gone. It’s been replaced by sensations, and the feelings that accompany them – Kara’s teeth pulling at her lower lip, Kara’s hands gripping her hip and then sliding to her inner thighs, the hesitation and sweet consideration as she asks for permission and Lena’s answer comes out as a mantra, “Yes, yes, yes, yes –“

Where ordinarily Kara’s mouth would be seeking out her most sensitive spots – neck, shoulders, ears – and using them to make her squirm, this time she presses their foreheads together. As Kara’s fingers work inside her the intensity swells, and Lena closes her eyes against it and rests her head on Kara’s shoulder. It’s too much, Kara’s blue eyes looking at her with something she won’t name, something powerful and deep – but Kara kisses her again, and murmurs against her lips.

“Lena – look at me, please. Look at me.”

She can’t deny Kara, not when her voice is so reverent. Lena opens her eyes. Kara’s are shiny and wide, gazing up at her as she adds a third finger and Lena bears down on it, gripping Kara’s shoulders for dear life. It’s never been like this before – the unfamiliarity of the atmosphere mixes with the well-known, and Lena feels out of control.

“Kara...” She whimpers, pressure of a different kind building in her chest. It feels like the pressure of holding back a sob, that tight intensity that can only be released by letting it go, but she doesn’t know what or how – just that Kara is the source and, somehow, the solution. “Kara, fuck, I –“

Yes - Lena, you’re so beautiful, my beautiful girl, god, I love you –“

I love you.

Kara freezes, just long enough for Lena to know that she knows. That she realizes what she said. She waits in limbo, unsure of what will happen next – she has no idea what Kara will do and, quite honestly, no idea what she might do. Kara, after a few seconds, starts up her rhythm again, slightly faster. She breaks their eye contact and buries her face in Lena’s neck, pulling her closer and continuing to fuck her as if nothing happened. But something did happen – she said she loves me – she loves me

“Kara…”

Kara speeds up again, curling her fingers, and Lena gasps at the change. It’s good, so good, and it’s almost enough to make her forget –

She loves me.

“Kara, stop.”

Immediately Kara pulls out, making Lena groan at the sudden emptiness. She looks panicked, and she leans back to look Lena in the face again, searching her for signs of distress.

“I’m sorry! Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

“No! God. No, you didn’t hurt me.” Lena assures her, cupping her face with both hands. “I just…did you really mean that?” There’s a moment where Lena almost thinks that Kara might deny it, but in the end she nods slowly.

“Yes.” Kara admits quietly, dipping her head. “Honestly, I think I’ve loved you since we met.”

That feeling is back – the almost-sob feeling, the tight pressure in her chest and shoulders that makes her want to say something. She looks at Kara - sweet, beautiful, patient Kara – and finally knows what it is.

“I love you too.”

Kara’s slow smile shines bright in the darkness of the room, lighting up Lena’s frightened heart and finally, the pressure eases. Somewhere in her tangled thoughts she’s always known that Kara loves her, and that she loves Kara, but now that she’s said it out loud the relief is enough to bring tears to her eyes.

“I love you. I love you, Kara, I love you so much –“ She chokes on a half-sob, half joyous laugh, smiling like a lunatic, and Kara laughs with her.

“I love you, Lena.”

Their lips crash together again, and Kara’s fingers slip back inside her easily, and when Lena finally comes with a loud cry she can feel the tears leaking onto her cheeks. The salty taste of them bleeds into their kisses, open-mouthed and messy and permeated with whispered declarations of love.

Afterwards they lie together, sweaty bodies intertwined and Lena listening to the steady rhythm of the heartbeat under her ear. It slows as Kara drifts to sleep, and Lena peppers her chest with soft kisses. Kara has never been anything but gracious about Lena’s constant phobia of discovery, and she needs to pay her back. And on top of that, Lena has never felt a purer happiness than she did tonight. If the world can look at their love and see something unworthy, then that’s on them. She can do this.

After the games.

 


 

 

Lena practicing at the Olympics, it turns out, is an entirely different beast from Lena practicing at home. Kara has always been impressed by her focus and drive, but in the few days before their performance she becomes a force of nature, and she feels like she’s just surfing in Lena’s wake. Quite honestly, Kara is still reeling from their admission of love the other night, and she’s perfectly content to let Lena take the reins so that she can focus on basking. She always knew that Lena shared her feelings, but when the confession slipped out she had a moment of genuine fear – what if Lena wasn’t ready? Lena had an emotional day, and Kara spilling her guts and putting all sorts of pressure on her might have been the last thing she needed. But Lena said it back, and she meant it, and Kara pours all the joy that fact brings her into their choreography.

They take full advantage of their practice sessions, getting used to the new arena and running through the dance that they’ve had nailed down for months with J’onn’s encouraging, fatherly presence coaching them through it. It feels different with other people watching – occasionally other pairs sit in the stands and observe, and coaches are often milling around and talking to each other – but it’s easy for Kara to forget that they aren’t alone when they’re running the routine.

Although their media buzz died down after worlds, it seems to be picking back up again now - they do a few interviews in the week leading up to their final skate, reporters from different nations and syndications catching them after practice at ask about their unique partnership. Lena usually takes the lead on these, as usual - she talks succinctly about how they mesh as partners, about how Kara is her best friend, and about how excited she is to show their routine to the world. If asked directly, Kara generally defaults to talking about how wonderful Lena is, a topic she could master in her sleep. But over and over, it’s established – platonic. Working relationship.

Kara has accustomed herself to the slight sting of that fact, but lately she’s been noticing that even Lena doesn’t seem happy about it. She hesitates sometimes in her practiced speeches, lets her gaze linger on Kara for longer than necessary and often heaves a deep sigh after the cameras have left. It’s like she fired her mother, but her specter still haunts them every time someone else pokes their head into their private world. They spend their nights wrapped up in each other, utilizing every inch of their single bed  while Kara discovers exactly how much being at the highest level of athletics in the world has kicked up Lena’s sex drive – but to the world, they’re platonic skating partners.

As their free skate gets closer, Lena starts getting more and more intensive about practicing. Kara does her best to exhaust and unwind her every night, but she seems to wake up each day even more high-strung than ever. She insists on getting up early to practice during the times the arena is free, and the rest of their days are spent either in the gym, going through the choreography off the ice, or watching other couples practice.

Finally Kara convinces her to take some time off to have lunch with Alex before her game against Germany, but after half an hour of waiting, Lena starts to get irritable about wasting time that they could be using to rehearse.

Finally, Kara punches in Alex’s number. It rings through to voicemail – annoyed herself, Kara dials again. Finally Alex picks up, sounding breathless and irritated.

“What?”

Kara frowns at her tone. “Alex? Where are you?”

“What are you talking about?” Alex answers, breathing heavily. Is she working out?

“…lunch? I thought we were eating together?” Kara asks, puzzled. Lena quirks an eyebrow at her, looking intrigued.

“Oh, shit – fuck – yeah, I forgot. I got a little –“ Then Alex grunts, and there’s a muffled giggle in the background. “Sidetracked.”

Kara’s eyes widen, and she gasps, covering her mouth. “…oh my god, Alex. Alex! Are you hooking up right now?”

“What? No, I’m not –“ Alex says quickly, sounding panicked. “That’s not –“

But Kara has known Alex most of her life – she can tell when she’s lying. “Oh my god, you are. You little Olympic hoe, who is it!” It can’t be a member of her team. Alex has a strict no-hookup policy with other hockey players after what she refers to as ‘the disaster’ following her night with longtime opponent Sara Lance, who later ended up being transferred to her team. Kara doesn’t see how it went badly – Sara was incredibly chill about it, and was perfectly happy to move past Alex’s embarassment – but for some reason Alex found it absolutely humiliating.

So who the hell is it?

As she presses and Alex tries to deny it, she notices a smug-looking Lena pull out her own phone and dial a number. After a few moments, Kara hears a phone buzzing on the other line, somewhere near Alex. Alex hisses “don’t!”, but the woman answers anyways, and the voice sounds familiar.

“Hello?” She hears on her line, and beside her Lena speaks up with perfect timing.

“Hi, darling. Care to tell me what you’re up to right now?”

“I think you know exactly what I’m up to, Lena.” The distant voice in Kara’s ear says, slightly muffled, and finally the pieces click together.

“Oh my god!” She yells, pointing at Lena. “Sam! It’s Sam!”

She hears delighted laughter from Sam, and Alex groans. “Look, I’ll see you later, goodbye Kara.” The line clicks decisively, and Kara is left staring open-mouthed at her phone screen, blinking the duration of their conversation at her. To her right, Lena is left on the line with Sam, who promises to make sure Alex is thoroughly wound down by the time dinner rolls around.

“That was so gross.” Kara grumbles after Lena finally hangs up, amused but still a bit ticked at Alex for skipping their lunch date to hook up with a (admittedly very hot) skier.

Lena taps out a text message, presumably to Sam, and grins. “I’m happy for them. Don’t be so grumpy – you just wish you’d thought to skip lunch to get laid, too.”

“I’m telling Alex that you and Sam used to hook up.”

“Kara!”

Thankfully her free dance costume covers her biceps, because she’s fairly sure she has a bruise there now.

Finally, the day before their free skate dawns. It’s their final day to get any practice in, and Lena drags her down to the arena at 4 in the morning in the hopes of getting some ice time before the booked slots start. As they approach the ice, Kara is slightly relieved to see that a couple is already on the ice. Maybe now we can go back to bed.

But beside her, Lena has frozen like a startled deer, her eyes wide and full of panic.

“Lena? Are you okay?”

Lena’s mouth opens soundlessly, and that’s when Kara hears it.

“No, Winn, your hand placement is still off. You’re skating tomorrow, you need to get it together. Siobhan, your form is perfect, keep it up.”

She recognizes that voice. It’s a voice that she knows still haunts Lena every time she makes even the tiniest mistake, every time someone so much as glances at the two of them with any kind of judgement. Lena’s hand slips out of hers, and clasps behind her back – Kara can see her short nails of her left hand digging sharply into the skin of her right.

Lillian Luthor turns around when she hears the door, and the surprise on her face quickly morphs into smug satisfaction.

“Lena, dear! I was hoping to see you before your performance. I see you and miss Danvers are still making waves.”

Lena finally finds her voice, but it’s quiet, almost a croak. “What – what are you doing here, mother?”

“I’m coaching.” Lillian smiles knowingly, gesturing to Smythe and Schott, still running through their routine. It’s good, admittedly – Siobhan is technically flawless, and they have a good rhythm together - but in Kara’s opinion, Winn looks distinctly unhappy.

And, she thinks as they execute an almost-perfect lift, they have nothing on us.

“Coaching.” Lena scoffs in disbelief, still stunned. Her mouth works as if she’s trying to say more, but no noise comes out. Kara, afraid that her touch will only make it worse, has no idea what to do and instead hovers behind her, trying to look intimidating.

Their routine finished, Winn and Siobhan skate up to the boards.

“Luthor and Danvers.” Smythe drawls, looking each of them up and down. “Your win at worlds was a fluke. I can’t wait to see how well you do when you’re not stealing your mother’s routines.” 

Well. She wasted no time.

Winn sighs, looking uncomfortable. “Siobhan, come on. We talked about this…”

With a scoff she skates back to center ice, taking position, and clears her throat pointedly. With an apologetic look, Winn follows her.

As he does, Lillian seems like she’s about to say something else, but Lena turns on her heel and practically runs towards the doors. Kara follows immediately, feeling Lillian’s gaze pricking at the back of her neck all the way.

She finds Lena outside, leaning against the side of the building and gasping lungfuls of cold air. “God, she’s not even here to win, she just wants to get in my head - she wants to make sure I lose, to teach me a lesson, she’s -“

“Lena!” Kara says firmly, putting her hands on Lena’s shoulders and shaking her gently. “You’re better than her. You’re better than all of them. You know how good we are. Don’t let her get to you.”

But she does let it get to her – she’s out of sorts for the rest of the day, and when their practice time comes she’s less focused than Kara has ever seen her. She stumbles, misses cues, and gets frustrated, and Kara can’t do anything to help besides offer her support.

After their near-disastrous practice Lena goes for a walk, and it’s almost midnight before she returns to their room. Kara is lying awake still, but she doesn’t say a word as Lena slowly strips and crawls into bed, curling into herself. All Kara can do is wrap herself around Lena’s chilly frame and do her best to offer silent comfort.

Lena’s voice, tiny and quiet, breaks the silence of the room.

“We can do this, right?”

Kara tightens her grip around her middle, laying a gentle kiss on her bare shoulder.

“We can do this.”

It feels like hours before either of them drifts to sleep.

 


 

Lena is hyperaware of every detail of the packed arena as she and Kara wait for their turn on the ice. The smell of people and cold plastic seats and the residual smell of beer from last night’s hockey game, the slice of blades over ice as the couple from Russia skates their routine to a remixed Ed Sheeran song, the nervous jiggling of Kara’s leg and the squeak of wood under her as she grips the wooden bench. She wasn’t even this nervous at Worlds, and she can tell that Kara is feeling helpless in the face of her nervous silence.

Things had started off okay – they woke up tired but determined to do their best, and Lena had even managed to eat a power bar before they headed to the arena. But of course, as luck would have it, one of the first people they saw on their way to the changing rooms was Lillian. Kara tried to hurry Lena past her, but just as the door was swinging closed Lillian managed to get her barb in.

“Good luck, Lena. Hopefully the judging panel is as forgiving as Cat Grant.”

Lena knows that the comment shouldn’t have hurt, but it was crafted and sharpened by someone who knows Lena’s every fear, and it worked. All year she’s second-guessed their win, wondering if it was indeed only because of Cat Grant – whether she had a soft spot for Kara, or perhaps was trying to make some kind of point. Either way, she doesn’t feel entirely worthy of it, and Lillian knows it.

The Russian couple finish their dance with a flourish, and next up are Smythe and Schott, followed by herself and Kara. The American couple takes the ice, and Lena can see her mother across the arena, watching them like a hawk like she used to at every one of Lena’s competitions. The thought of Lillian watching her and Kara skate like that makes her blood freeze. Winn and Siobhan start racking up points immediately.

Kara goes to pull Lena to her feet so that they can prepare themselves to hit the ice after the routine is over, but Lena resists. Kara turns back to her, her face troubled.

“Lena? It’s almost our turn.”

“I can’t do it.” She whispers, her grip painfully tight. “I can’t. Not with her watching. I’ll mess it up, and embarrass both of us, and she’ll never let me live it down.”

“Lena.” Kara breathes, looking heartbroken. “Of course you can. I’ve never met anyone in my life who can skate like you do.” Tears start to fill Lena’s eyes, and Kara pulls her close, wrapping her in a hug so tight that she can feel the stress in her body start to melt. J’onn respectfully averts his eyes, and Lena appreciates his stern, unaffected demeanour.

“Follow my breathing.” Kara whispers, and the grating music of her mother’s routine quiets as she focuses on her heartbeat. They breathe in tandem, and Lena presses her lips gently to Kara’s pulse point. There isn’t an atom of space left between them.

“Let’s do this for us, okay? Not for her, or for the crowd, or the world. Not anyone else. Just you and me.” Kara’s warm breath washes over her neck, and Lena nods slightly.

“I love you.” She says, not bothering to keep her voice low. It feels stronger than it has all day. She can feel Kara’s smile against her skin, and it gives her a burst of confidence.

“I love you, too.”

Before she can blink they’re on the ice, their names being announced and Kara taking her position. Just before the music starts Lena locks eyes with her mother, sees her smug superiority as she pats Siobhan on the back, and feels a surge of hot defiance.

Here goes.

It’s different than it was at Worlds. That was a routine fueled by repressed desire and weeks of miscommunication, as proved by their practically arena-shaking, life-changing sex afterwards. This routine is no less difficult but it’s softer, the passion less fiery but more genuine, deeper. In short, it feels like a direct representation of the shift in their relationship over the last week, and it’s so easy to let herself slip into it. She’s sure that her expression is broadcasting her every secret feeling as she looks at Kara, but she doesn’t care.

They dance as if they can read each other’s minds, executing every trick in perfect synchronization. The crowd doesn’t exist – Lillian, J’onn, the judges, Alex and Sam somewhere in the stands cheering them on, all of them dissolve until it’s just Kara, the ice, and the music.

By the time they finish, Kara pulling her out of the final dip and into a bone-crushing hug, Lena doesn’t know what she was so worried about. No matter what the final score is, this was a performance that she can be proud of. She’s shaking not from nervousness but from pure adrenaline when they sit back down on the bench, and perhaps it’s a trick of perception, but Lena could swear that the crowd is noticeably louder for them than it was for the previous couples.

After what seems like an eternity, their names appear on the screen above the ice.

“Free skate score: Danvers and Luthor – 206.07.”

Lillian’s score was 205 and change, Lena realizes. Everyone else scored below 203. They’re in first place.

Kara leaps to her feet, punching the air and yelling incoherently. Lena, still slightly stunned, lets J’onn pull her into a hug, and then Kara is lifting her off her feet.

“Only two more couples, Lena! We could win this. Our score is the highest, we could win this.” Kara yells into her ear, and Lena laughs incredulously. The next two routines might have well taken an hour each for how much Lena longed for them to be over – a French couple skates first, scoring around 204, putting them in third place. The final couple, from South Korea, skates well but stumbles a few times towards the end. Finally, their score flashes onto the screen: 201.

There’s a strange buzzing in Lena’s ears. She almost doesn’t want to believe it, and Kara seems to be in the same boat – they both stare up at the screen like it holds the meaning of life, waiting for the final score order. Maybe we counted wrong. Maybe we missed a routine. Maybe they somehow changed their minds.

But a few moments later, the scores appear. Third place, France. Second place - USA. And in first place…a little Canadian flag, next to their names.

Kara practically explodes.

She’s leaping much too high to be safe when she’s still wearing skates, and she grabs Lena and twirls her in a dizzying circle. Lena is laughing and tears are running down her face, and the only thing that could possibly make this moment better would be if she could see her mother’s face – she won gold, she won a goddamn gold medal -

The next 10 minutes are a blur. J’onn drapes a huge Canadian flag over their shoulders and they skate a few victory laps, soaking in the roar of the crowd as they bow in every direction. They’re handed their plushy stuffed animal medal placeholders, and they’re ushered through a sea of congratulations towards a veritable wall of journalists.

Suddenly they’re thrust in front of a camera, and interviewers are asking them questions that Lena feels too high to possibly answer with any clarity.

“How did you feel, skating together at your first Olympic Games?” One woman asks, thrusting a microphone in front of their faces, and luckily and Kara’s answer is brilliant – she credits Lena and J’onn, thanks their sponsors and talks about how the routine almost skated itself, but Lena barely hears it. She can’t stop looking at her.

Kara’s tight, slick updo is making the muscles of her neck stand out, she’s still breathing a bit hard and her eyes are bright, and Lena loves her.

God, I love her.

“What’s the best part about winning gold today?” Another interviewer asks, and Kara speaks up again as Lena gazes at her with open adoration, completely aware of how the roles seem to have switched.

“Well, it’s really a first in the sport, you know?” Kara says, her arm still loosely around Lena’s shoulders. “There’s never been such a high scoring same-sex pair before, and we hope that we’re paving the way for more in the future – there’s such potential that’s being ignored right now! So we really hope this is a turning point. But the best part – it’s probably Lena. When I got to hug Lena, and hear her laugh and cry at the same time, that’s the best sound. She’s been the best partner I could ask for.” Kara beams down at her, her face lit up with affection, and Lena’s heart skips.

I love you. 

The mic is in front of her face now, and the interviewer is asking her –

“And you, Lena? What’s the best part about winning today?”

“Kara.” Lena says, without thinking. “Just…Kara. I…” Kara looks at her, looking surprised but undeniably happy. Behind her head, Lena sees two girls in the crowd waving something colourful - a gigantic, rainbow Canadian flag. They’re holding hands and jumping up and down, hoping to get their attention. She feels a powerful surge of pride and confidence.

Fuck it.

She grabs the front of Kara’s shirt, in full view of the crowd and the cameras, and pulls her in for a kiss.

Kara freezes at first, but in seconds she melts into it, lifting Lena easily off her feet. They’re both beaming into the kiss, and she can hear the reporters stuttering, still filming, unsure of how to handle such an unorthodox situation.

When they finally pull apart Kara is flushed and shiny-eyed, looking completely starstruck. Lena, surprisingly, is exhilarated. Locating the nearest reporter, she leans into the microphone, looking directly at the closest camera.

“I’d like to thank my mother, for inspiring me to take Kara as a partner. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

She kisses Kara again, and for the first time in her entire life, she feels proud.

There will be fallout, she knows – they might lose some sponsors, and gain some new ones. Likely their relationship will be dissected by the media for weeks to come. God knows what her mother will try to do, especially after Lena’s perfectly passive-agressive soundbite. Later tonight they’ll get their medals, and celebrate with Sam and Alex, and then they’ll go home and leave their Olympic bubble. But for now, Kara’s lips are on hers and her feet are off the ground and the crowd is going wild and it’s enough. Kara is enough.

Gold medal, indeed.