Lena was absolutely miserable. She'd done nothing but drink all day at work. Ignored calls, meetings, everything. She'd left the shattered framed photo on her desk exactly as it was.
At home, nothing changed. She slumped sourly into her favourite chair and let all the beautiful memories of her best friend Kara, now tainted and filthy due to the lies, run through her head.
She was an idiot. An absolute idiot. Glasses and a ponytail were no disguise. Of course they weren't. Kara had taken that page from her cousin, naturally. God, the Els were dumb. Glasses aren't a disguise.
-And yet they fooled you for years,- her nasty inner voice who sounded exactly like Lillian Luthor reminded her. -It worked for years. You just didn't want to know.-
All Lena had ever wanted to do was be normal. Normal life, normal friends, normal love. So when she found herself falling for her best friend, the bubbly CatCo reporter, she had welcomed it. A normal crush, for sure. But she'd kept it secret, because Kara hadn't sent any signals that weren't friendly love. And Lena had been able to live with that, because not tackling Kara with a kiss every time they met was good restraint and therefore a point of Luthor pride. Luthors did not love. They used weaker people for their own gains.
But she was, indeed, in love with her best friend. Who was a fucking superhero. The cousin of the man who'd turned her brother into an evil mess. How long had Superman lied to Lex? Maybe it was just the tendency of the House of El to be shifty liars who thought nothing of loving and betraying weak, stupid humans.
Lena's phone beeped. She still had Kara's number set to special ringtones, and she actually hissed like a cat at her phone.
-Pick it up. Read that. You masochist.-
She did what the voice told her to, ready to vomit onto the screen with anxiety and rage.
//Are you home?//
She snarled at it. But Kara didn't know she knew.
//Can I come over?//
//So much work to be done yet.//
//Please, I have to work something out, and you're the only one who can help.//
Lena supposed she could humour her backstabbing, conniving, shithead of an ex-bestie for a few minutes.
She drank a full glass of wine, quickly. -I wonder why she isn't using super speed. She could have been here by now and told me she flew on a bus.-
Lena was proud of herself that the wine glass did not crack at the stem when she slammed it down. -I am the most gullible person in my family.-
Her doorbell chimed, and she went to answer it.
Kara was standing there, a large bag slung over her shoulder. "Hey."
"Hey Kara." Lena allowed her inside. "Did you bring the entire office?" She kept her tone light. Kara didn't know she knew.
"Not the whole thing. Just what I needed to work on." Kara let the bag drop to the floor with a slight "oof". It clanked like metal, but it didn't sound like a weapon. Not that Supergirl needed a weapon to kill her human best friend.
-You're such a good actress,- Lena thought, bile rising in her throat. "Right. What do you need my help with?"
She was astonished, then, as Kara fully faced her and sank to her knees, bowing her head.
"Lena, there's no good way to say this."
Kara looked up at her. "I have been lying to you since the day we met."
Lena kept her expression neutral, even as bright blue eyes begged her to be loving, understanding. "About?"
"I don't know which one to say first."
"Go with the one that hurts less. Ease into it."
Kara sighed, and she unbuttoned her shirt to reveal the crest.
Lena scowled. "Yes, I know."
Kara's eyes went wide. "How...how did you know?"
"Lex told me after I shot him, as he lay dying. He might have let me live with my delusions, but I wasn't going to let him live at all. His final, destructive message. That you had been lying to me since the day we met. What I still fail to understand is -why-."
Kara's eyes filled with tears. "When we first met, I was told by the DEO that you could never know. They expressly forbade me from telling you. They all expected you'd be like your brother. I wanted to tell you once you let me into your life. All my other close friends know, but I was ordered not to tell you!"
Lena sighed. "And then what?"
"I stopped working for them officially. But it was too late, and I was too weak. You'd let me in, and I figured that it would drive a permanent wedge between us to activate the Luthor-Super connection then. J'onn would threaten to erase your memory if I said I wanted to tell you." Kara's voice was coloured with fear and anxiety. "And the fear of losing you almost stopped my heart every time I even thought of it."
Lena just breathed slowly, watching Kara speak.
"Lena, I've called you a lot of things since we've befriended each other. Best friend, favourite, sister." Kara took a deep breath, and hung her head again. "Anything to banish the truth."
"Huh?" -All right, here it comes, the knowledge she was actually sent to kill me, or something.-
Kara looked up again, locking gazes with Lena. "I have been in love with you since Medusa."
Lena gasped, and her hand flew to her heart. That was a plot twist if ever there was one. Medusa, so long ago. They'd been messing everything up forever, it seemed.
"I have been in love with you since you saved the world the first time. You're so strong. So amazing. Everything I want to be, and can't be, because you can save the world again and again, but I can't even tell you the truth."
Lena's heart and thoughts were racing now. -She loves me too? Loves. Loves me?! Liar. LIAR.-
"Game night was the breaking point. You were there, and so beautiful, and sweet, and fragile, and I asked if you were on my team, and you said always." Kara hung her head again, a sob escaping her throat. "I told Alex I couldn't keep it from you any longer. And she said 'not tonight', so I agreed. And now it's not tonight anymore, and I have to stop feeling dead inside because I'm lying to the woman I love every minute of every day and it's becoming -fatal-, Lena. I feel like I'm going to die. Like I want to die. The weight of the lying is so oppressive I want to -die-. And I'm scared to lose you. I'm scared I've already lost you. I'm in love with you and I'm a liar who may have lost the best thing in my life and it is killing me from the inside."
Lena inhaled, and let out a shaky sigh. "I should let you go. I should make you leave."
Lena shook her head. "Because fuck me, but I'm in love with you too. Even if I'm in love with a lie."
"I am not a lie!" Kara's shout was weepy. "I'm a liar, but what I am is not a lie. What I've shown you isn't a lie. It just wasn't the full truth. But now you know." She sagged, hands coming out to support her against the floor. She looked up again. "Now you know. Please, please, Lena. Let me make up for my lies."
"Look in the bag."
Lena went over to the bag and opened it while Kara dropped her head again and cried, sobs as small as she could squish them.
The bag had several clamp lighting fixtures on top, with bulky-looking bulbs she couldn't understand. She laid each one carefully down on the floor.
"The lamps mimic red sun," Kara intoned hollowly. "We've been testing them. They almost get me down to baseline, how I was on Krypton. More like a normal human."
Lena frowned as she pulled out a pair of alien-looking circles and laid those down as well. She was absolutely baffled at this point. What on Earth could Kara mean by all of these things?
"Binders," Kara said. "When the lamps are on, they'll hold me."
Lena pulled out several items she knew very well, had owned several in the past, and she definitely still had a crop and a flogger in a drawer in her closet, because they'd been bespoke, and you don't just let things like that go to the thrift store. Curiouser and curiouser.
Lena looked up to see Kara facing her, still on her knees, holding her wrists together and outstretched.
"I lied to you. I love you. Please let me bleed for you."
Lena's breath left her entirely. -Holy fuck the what?!-
"You have to be angry. There's no way you aren't. And I want to absorb that anger. I want to feel it. I've been the worst person in the world but if I say it, it doesn't really get through to me."
-Good lord, Kara, you're the last person I ever thought would be kinky.- "So my beating the crap out of you absolves you of what you did."
Kara shook her head, dropping her arms. "No, not at all. But I'll feel better if you let me suffer for you. And maybe you will, too?"
"You're selfish," Lena said. "And untrustworthy, and you're a liar, and I should hate you. I should make you get out of my home and out of my life, you filthy fucking liar."
Kara's eyes filled with tears. "Please," she whispered. "Please keep me here and use me however you want, Lena. I love you so much it hurts." She held out her wrists again. "I want to bleed. For you. Because I'm a filthy fucking liar and this is the only way I can think to keep you."
"So you appeal to the love of violence you think I have? I'm not my brother. I don't want to end the House of El. I don't want to destroy you, or your cousin, or anything like that."
"Can you just destroy me tonight?" Kara choked out. "Destroy who I am today, so I can build the person I want to be for you. The Kara who should have always been here for you."
Lena closed her eyes and sighed. "Jesus Christ, Kara."
Kara put her face in her hands and sobbed. "Tell me what to do, Lena. If this isn't what I can do, tell me what you want me to do. What do I have to do so you'll keep me?"
Lena sighed again and opened her eyes. "I don't know. But for you, let's try this." She picked up two of the lamps and stood up. "Where should these go?"
Together, they set up Lena's bedroom with the lamps, since it was smaller than any of her other rooms except the bathrooms.
"Turn them on," Lena told Kara. "You do it yourself."
Kara went around the room, turning all the lamps on. Lena watched her slump, gravity beginning to drag on her now.
"How do you feel?" Lena asked.
Kara held out her arm. "Scratch me?"
Lena raked her nails down the inside of Kara's forearm, watching her flinch. Four small red streaks appeared on Kara's skin.
"They're working," Kara breathed, wonder in her tone.
Lena felt suddenly out of control. Dangerous. Violent. "Get out of your clothes. Leave the super suit on. Not the cape."
As Kara scrambled to obey, Lena sighed and went to drag the bag into the bedroom. She wasn't sure it would work, no. But she figured she owed it to the ghost of their friendship to try.
Kara was kneeling on the floor again, dressed as Supergirl, head bowed and wrists crossed behind her back, when Lena came back in.
"You know the position," Lena said softly. As quickly as the dangerous thoughts came, they fled, seeing Kara so vulnerable.
"I learned. I looked it up. Is it right? I want to do it right."
"Yes," Lena murmured. She picked up the binders and fit Kara's wrists into them, locking them tightly.
Kara shivered in response.
"We need a safe word," Lena told her. -Kink is as kink does. Stick to protocol.-
"You can't actually injure me," Kara protested. "The second I get back under the sun, it'll all go away. We don't need one."
"You're not the one in charge," Lena replied, cupping the back of Kara's neck in her hand. "Yes, we do."
Kara sighed, thinking for a moment. "Vokai."
Lena frowned. "What?"
"Vokai." Kara looked up. "It means 'help' in Kryptonian."
Lena nodded, slowly. "Vokai. You say that, and everything stops. Do you understand?"
Kara nodded back, not breaking eye contact. "Hurt me, Lena. Please."
Lena took a deep breath. -You fucking liar, Kara. You goddamn filthy fucking LIAR.- With that thought, Lena backhanded her, which knocked Kara off-balance.
Kara looked up at her again, righting herself back on her knees. "Please."
Lena backhanded her again, emotions officially a wreck. She hated Kara. She loved Kara. Hitting her felt good, fulfilling, -right-.
Kara pulled herself upright again, which was quite hard without use of her arms, she noticed. "I lied to you. Willingly."
Lena backhanded her with her other arm, knocking Kara to the other side, and saw the blood well up on her lip.
"It's not enough," Kara whimpered. "I'm a worthless liar."
"Yes, you are." Lena stalked around Kara, a hand on her shoulder, feeling for the zip she knew had to be there.
"Over my spine," Kara whispered.
Lena found it and yanked it down, exposing Kara's back. She snapped open Kara's bra, and then released the wrist binders. "In front."
Kara put her wrists together in front of her and let Lena lock her down again. She licked her lips, tasting the blood. Hurting felt right. Lena beating her bloody might make her inner voice shut the fuck up about being the most horrible person in this galaxy or the next, at least for a little while.
Lena pulled the singletail whip out of the bag and immediately snapped it across Kara's bare back, noting the choked sob and jump as the lash hit. "You are a liar."
"Yes," Kara whimpered as the lash hit her again.
"Tell me again why you lied."
"They made me."
The whip snapped and Kara squirmed under it. "No. Don't you dare blame anyone else. You lied. Why?"
"Because I love you."
"That's bullshit," Lena growled. Two quick lashes. "You don't lie to the people you love."
"I thought if you knew I was Supergirl, you'd hate me."
"For what my cousin did to your brother!" Snap.
"Because I'm such a Luthor that family loyalty would trump the girl who claims to love me?" Snap. "So you think I'm weak."
"No," and now Kara was sobbing, "because -I'm- weak! I couldn't bear the thought of you telling me how awful I am and leaving me to rot like the liar I am."
Snap. "My leaving you would be that bad." Snap. Snap.
"It's my worst fear," Kara cried. "If I lost you, I wouldn't know how to live anymore."
"So you chose lies." Snap.
"I'm a weak, horrible person," Kara sniveled. "I didn't know how to keep you. Just that I want to. Oh god, I want to."
Lena put effort into the next three lashes, and Kara howled in pain.
"This is what you wanted, Kara," Lena said.
"Please," Kara begged. "More."
Lena set her jaw, and laid into Kara's back in earnest.
By the time Lena stopped, Kara was writhing on the floor, sniveling into the carpet. Her back was on fire, angry red stripes criss-crossing it.
"Get up," Lena ordered. "Stand."
Kara pushed herself up with her hands, thankful they were cuffed in front this time. She stood, and as she looked at Lena, her breath wooshed out of her.
Lena was standing there, an angry expression on her beautiful face, the singletail held easily in one hand. Her posture was regal, and Kara knew she'd done this before, probably at a club or another kinky safe space. She pointed away, behind Kara.
"Go look at yourself, and tell me how you feel."
Kara trudged over to the dressing room-style set of mirrors next to Lena's closet, stepping into the half circle.
She looked a complete wreck from the front. Her eyes were swollen, her face was red, damp tear tracks were everywhere and yes, she'd given herself a tiny rug burn on one cheekbone. Her back was an angry mess, but it wasn't bleeding. The skin hadn't opened yet.
"Have you suffered enough?" Lena walked over.
"From the tone of your voice, no," Kara replied.
"You wanted this. Don't turn it back on -me-. Own your own shit, Kara."
"It's not enough," Kara said after swallowing hard. "I asked if I could bleed for you. I meant that, Lena."
"That's what you need to be absolved?"
"There's no absolution for me," Kara replied, shaking her head. "Just being broken down. By you. So you'll keep me. Please, Lena."
Lena sighed. She had to admit, the rage she felt while whipping Kara felt good. Powerful. Easy to wear like a favourite coat. Luthor evil, as well, which kept making her second-guess herself.
"Don't, Lena. Please don't do that. Please just break me," Kara begged, her voice cracking. "I might be even a little bit worthy of you then."
"Beating the lies out of you won't make me forgive you, Kara."
"I can't be forgiven," Kara whispered, falling to her knees again. "I can't ask for that. All I'm asking for is a chance to try again, once you've destroyed the bitch who lied to you."
"Why is it -my- responsibility to turn you good?" Lena curled her lip. "Why do I have to be your saviour?"
"Because no one else can save me, least of all myself," Kara whispered.
Lena sighed. "You keep telling me I'm so, so good. But you want me to be evil now."
"I'm the evil one," Kara replied quickly. "It's in my blood. You don't know what my parents did on Krypton."
"You can tell me later."
"I need this. Please. I love you. I'd do anything for you. If you needed this, I'd do it."
"You can't even quit with the guilt trips for five minutes. You'd do it for me, so I have to do it for you, because I love you, right?" Lena mocked.
Kara crumpled. "I'm sorry!"
"The best thing you could do for me is to put your clothes on, walk out of here, and never darken my door -or- my balcony again."
Kara began to cry again. She started to stand up. "Okay..."
"Did I -tell- you to do that?"
"For all your lying, all your shitty behaviour, everything evil you've done to me since we met..."
Kara looked up into Lena's angry, glaring eyes.
"...you are my kryptonite, and you have been since you flew into my life on a bus."
"I love you, Lena," Kara whimpered, voice barely audible.
"I know." Lena's glare burned holes into Kara's psyche and soul. "And for that, -yes-, I will let you bleed for me."
Kara sighed with relief, promptly falling over because she forgot about red sun gravity and her cuffed hands.
"Get up. On your knees."
As she struggled to obey, Kara's phone rang.
"Oh god, it's Alex," Kara choked.
Lena picked up the phone. "You've been lying to me for years. You're an amazing actress. Show me again." She hit answer on the screen, then speaker, then held it out to Kara's face.
"H-hey, Alex," Kara said as best she could, looking at Lena.
"Hey. Just wanted to confirm tonight? Movies at your place?"
"No, I...I can't," Kara replied. "I have to cancel."
"Am I on speaker?"
"No, it's a weird new Bluetooth thing I'm using," Kara said, thinking quickly. "Might be better for flying."
"Oh, okay. Why do you have to cancel on me? We've been waiting weeks for sister night!"
"I couldn't stand it, Alex. I went to Lena's. I'm here at her apartment. I ducked into the bathroom to take the call."
Alex sighed. "Couldn't give her a few more hours of normalcy?"
"No," and Kara choked up. "I just couldn't lie to her anymore."
"So she knows now?"
"How'd that go?"
"It's difficult. We're talking. We're working through it."
"Have you told her you're in love with her yet?"
Kara jumped as Lena's gaze turned into a hard glare. "No. I'm trying to figure out how to say it."
"Try something like, 'Lena, I've been an idiot for you despite all my friends trying to talk me out of it for years, because I know better than they did about what a good person you are, and I even dated the dumbest Daxamite ever because I couldn't figure out how to tell you I wanted to kiss you.' That might be a good start."
Kara sighed. "I was thinking of just saying 'I've been in love with you since Medusa.'"
"Well, you'd better explain after that, then."
"Yes, I'm going to."
"You'll feel a lot better after you do. And hopefully she won't be mad at you and all of us."
"She ought to be mad at all of us."
"If you've shown me one thing over the last few years, it's that Lena will always do several levels of better than what she ought."
Kara choked up again. "Yeah...yeah."
"Oh no. Don't start crying on me. Save that for your lovergirl."
"If she'll even have me."
"Who can say? I can hope, though. She's just right for you, sis."
"I think so too." Kara gave a couple of sobs.
"Okay, I'll let you pull yourself together. Good luck."
"Thanks. Bye, Alex."
Alex hung up, and Lena let her hand fall, still safely holding the phone.
"You told her you're in love with me?"
"I tell my sister everything. Maybe not always when I should, but I do."
Lena nodded, exhaling.
"She has to know, Lena. If I'm going to be the person you deserve, I'm not going to hide my feelings for you. From anyone."
Lena sighed, brushing the tears off Kara's cheeks with her free thumb. "Think of the salacious headlines. Supergirl Woos Younger Luthor, History Repeated? Things like that."
"I don't care. I don't care if you want Supergirl or Kara Danvers to be seen with you. I'll go with whatever you want. Whoever you want. I'll hide from the public, even. But I won't hide from our friends."
Lena nodded. "Being completely truthful. What a change."
"Trying to earn back the trust I've no right to even ask about."
"That's better. You're learning, Kara. Finally." Lena walked back over to the bag and poked inside it again, dropping the phone into it.
"Can you...can you bring that furthest lamp over here?" Kara pointed with her cuffed hands. "So it's right on me?"
"Yes." Lena exchanged the singletail for the flogger with the knots. Then she unplugged the lamp in question, bringing it over and clamping it to one of the mirrors. She plugged it back in and turned it on, and Kara shivered.
"Yeah. Yeah. That feels right."
"Face that side mirror and sit back on your heels."
Kara shuffled around on her knees and did as ordered.
"Don't close your eyes."
Kara looked up at Lena's face in the mirror. It was a mask of neutrality. "I love you, Lena Luthor."
"I know, Kara Danvers." Lena flicked her wrist, and the knots hit the swollen welts on Kara's back.
Kara screamed as the pain blossomed over every nerve ending in her body, and she screwed her eyes shut against the pain.
"Don't close your eyes, Kara!" Lena's voice edged on anger.
Kara forced her eyelids open, and Lena hit her again. She wasn't using much force at all, Kara could see. While they'd been talking, her back had gone numb, but it was alive again, on fire, as the leather knots bit into the existing stripes of pain.
"Count them." Lena's wrist flicked again.
"One!" Kara gasped for breath. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see red pinpricks forming on the welts.
"Two! Three!" It was easier to watch her back bloom with blood, easier to keep her eyes open that way. Lena's face stayed the same impassive mask, only blinking when the flogger made impact.
When Kara had counted to fifteen, each number sounding more and more broken, the blood was starting to run down her back. It felt awful and weird, just like water but bright red and seeping into the waistband of her super skirt.
"How do you feel?" Lena asked. Her expression remained the same as it had been.
"Horrible," Kara whispered.
"Good." Lena rehooked Kara's bra for her, and zipped up the suit once again, which made Kara cry out in pain.
Kara did as she was told, and Lena unlocked the binders a moment later. They stood there, toe to toe, looking into each other's eyes, for a long moment.
"Are you still bleeding?" Lena asked softly.
"Is it what you wanted?"
Kara nodded again.
"Good." Lena brushed the lightest of feathery kisses on the spot of rug burn, and Kara's shiver was actually a shudder. "Go lie down."
"I'll bleed on the bed!"
"We invented washing machines for a reason. Go. Lie. Down. On your stomach, since you're so worried about my sheets."
Kara followed orders, taking off her boots and putting them next to the cape.
Lena retreated to the kitchen, where she sagged against the sink. This was the most emotionally intense situation she'd ever been in, and given that she'd killed her brother mere days before, that was saying something. She loved Kara, loved her stupid cheerful face and her aggressively positive way of being. Even if it had been two-faced the whole time.
"I am not a lie!" Kara had cried. "I'm a liar, but what I am is not a lie."
Lena shook her head. She wanted to believe. But Kara thought this whole thing could be solved with violence. That if the last remaining Luthor beat her senseless and bloody, this could all be over. And they could go back to being best friends, just like that. Best friends, even lovers. The thought of sleeping with a two-faced liar for absolutely no personal gain made Lena so sick she wanted to vomit.
But she loved Kara. Had been in love with her for years. This was everything she'd ever wanted, Kara in her bed, ready and willing to do whatever she asked. No, not Kara. That was Supergirl trying not to bleed on her sheets.
Lena heard a noise, and she strained to hear. Kara was crying.
-Wish I could cry, too,- Lena thought. But she knew she couldn't. They might never make it out of this if they both started crying.
She turned the sink on and started to wash her hands. Then she turned her attention to the flogger, the ends damp with blood and lymph. Kara's blood, willingly given. Her mother would be screaming right now, if only she knew. "Research! The end of the Kryptonians! Lena, what the hell are you doing?" Lillian-in-her-head shrieked at her. Lena scoffed silently as she rinsed, then patted each strap down with a towel. -Finding my own absolution, Mother.- Having cleaned the flogger, she hung it from the towel rack on the oven, spreading the straps as far apart as she could so they'd dry quickly and evenly.
Suddenly, Lillian-in-her-head vanished. Replaced by a voice with a lilt to it, the vowels pronounced the way Lena did sometimes when she was upset or stressed.
"Lena. You know who you are, my love. And you are not that woman's. You are mine."
"Yes, love. It's been awhile, hasn't it?"
Lena lost her balance and fell to the floor.
"Lena?" The small, vulnerable voice came from her bedroom.
"Fine," she called back quickly.
"End the charade, Lena," the lilting voice from her subconscious said. "Let the girl love you."
-I'm afraid of her, Mum.-
"I know you're afraid, chuisle. But you're not afraid of her. Just afraid to love her back."
-Why does my conscience have your voice?-
"Because it was tired of sounding like Lillian. Listen to me. Go to her now."
-Remember who you truly are inside.-
Lena exhaled slowly, then picked herself up off the floor and went back into the bedroom.
Kara was where she'd been told to stay, Lena's pillow clutched in her arms, shivering. "Lena...?" She raised her head weakly.
Lena's heart broke. Supergirl would do anything for her. No, -Kara- would do anything for her. She let the power fill her, swelling her rage at being betrayed and lied to. Luthors loved power, and she was no exception. One of the world's most powerful beings was shaking uncontrollably on Lena's bed, where she'd been told to stay, eyes filled with tears, waiting for the destruction she felt inevitable. Lena had won. She'd won it all.
Kara, seeing no change in Lena's stony expression, let her head fall onto the pillow in despair. It smelled like Lena, of her hair products and perfume and the slight, undefinable essence that was -her-. Kara's back was a raging bonfire, and her limbs felt leaden and heavy. She knew they'd barely support her, but if Lena told her to get up, drag them into submission she would. She'd pull the suit zip herself, wait for the sickening crack of her skin splitting. If the physical scars would heal the moment she left, she could at least let the memory of deserved agony scar her psyche. She'd betrayed the person she loved the most, for years, letting one excuse or another define her cowardice, and now she had to pay that price, for as long as Lena wanted her to, just so long as she could stay.
As Kara's head dipped in utter defeat, the balloon of rage inside Lena deflated instantly. Lena knew her face had fallen into an expression of worry. End the charade, Mum had told her. -You're a filthy fucking liar, but goddamnit, I love you, Kara. And I will not go down my family's road.- With that, Lena busied herself turning off all the red sun lamps.
Kara felt the first one rather than heard it. She raised her head again, watching Lena walk briskly to the next lamp. "But..."
Lena ignored the tiny protest. When the last one was turned out, she pulled the curtains on her picture window open. The sun was setting, but the last rays still shone through the clouds at the horizon.
"Lena..." Kara had no idea how to feel anymore. The yellow sun energy was now trickling in, and her cells latched onto it hungrily. A yearning to worm her way into the rapidly warming patch of light on the bed seized her, but she dared not move. Not unless told.
"Get up, Kara." Lena's voice held no anger, no hardness. A simple request.
Kara obeyed, standing up and looking at Lena, a scared and sorrowful expression on her face.
"Come here." The command was delivered in the same simple tone as the first. Not a request, but also not demanding.
As Kara crossed to her, Lena slipped her arm around Kara's waist as lightly as she could.
"I'm healing," Kara whispered.
"That's the point." Lena tilted her head to rest against Kara's.
"But..." Kara's mind was reeling even as her skin stitched itself back together.
"You were going into shock from the injuries. I understand why you needed that from me. I do. But it's time to end that."
"Why? I didn't suffer enough."
"Do it on your own time."
They watched the sun set together, unconsciously syncing their breath as the healing orb slid out of sight.
"I love you, Lena," Kara whispered once the last sliver of fire vanished. She knew her back was smooth and blemish-less once again, the pain replaced by a dull throb that would soon fade. But Lena's arm around her waist still burned, affection she craved but knew she wasn't worthy of.
"I know, Kara." Lena turned to face her, cupping her now-healed cheek in one hand and kissing her gently.
Kara whimpered in response, closing her eyes as the softest lips she'd ever felt brushed against hers. She didn't dare respond, try for more, but she licked her lips involuntarily. A faint whisper of expensive lipstick, and the bittersweet burn of the beginning of forgiveness she would never feel she deserved, crossed her tongue.
"We can't fix this in a day." Lena's thumb brushed over the apple of Kara's cheek. "You know how awful you've been treating me."
Kara bit her lip and opened her eyes.
"But I love you, and I can't make that feeling go away. I don't want to make it go away."
"So let's destroy what was, and build what we want to be. Together."
"Yes, please!" Kara welled up again.
"Tell me what you want from tonight." Lena tucked a stray lock of hair back behind Kara's ear. "I've already given you what you initially asked for. What else?"
Kara took a deep breath. "Whatever you want, as long as I can stay. I want to be here with you as long as possible."
Lena nodded. "You already cancelled on Alex anyway."
Kara gave a half-hearted laugh. "I would rather be here. Always."
Lena gave her a small smile in return. "I like that. Did you bleed on my sheets?"
Kara looked over at the bed. "No. My suit took it all."
Lena nodded. "Then let me propose something. How about we have dinner, and go to bed early, since being that emotional took it right out of me?"
Kara inhaled sharply. "Where am I sleeping?"
Lena picked up the fear that tinged her best friend's voice. "Right next to me, if you choose to."
Kara whimpered and buried her face in Lena's shoulder. "Thank you!"
"You're welcome." Lena stroked Kara's hair softly.
"I don't deserve this," Kara sobbed into Lena's neck. "Any of it."
"That's just like, your opinion, man," Lena replied airily, so that they wouldn't go down the rabbit hole of Kara's mental fragility again. There would be time to work that through further, but Lena's body was still fighting her brain regarding the trauma of being lied to for so long, and it was wearing her out.
Kara couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up, and she coughed in surprise, which set off an entire fit of respiratory distress brought on by the severe anxiety she'd been experiencing. It might have injured a human, but Kara's physiology ensured she was safe, if not remotely comfortable.
"Breathe, Kara. Breathe." Lena kept stroking her hair, smiling as she felt Kara do her best to obey her, shoulders heaving desperately.
Kara clung to Lena as hard as she dared, trying to will her body to stop the spasming. Simply being able to feel Lena's body against hers helped, and focusing on Lena's steady, slow heartbeat gave her something to count during her inhaling and exhaling.
Once Kara's breathing evened out to normalcy, Lena slipped her other arm around Kara's waist and hugged her close, smiling as Kara whined and bear-hugged her. "Lamps are off, Kara," she reminded her calmly.
Kara relaxed her grip instantly, ready to snatch her arms away if Lena wished. "Sorry. I love you."
"I know." Lena reached up and smoothed her palms down Kara's upper arms, indicating that no, she did not wish to be let go.
"Every time you say that, I feel safer," Kara said softly.
"I've always tried to keep you as safe as I possibly can. You and Supergirl both."
"Thank you," Kara whispered.
"I love you," Lena murmured.
"Can you say it again?"
"I love you, Kara."
Kara sighed with relief, letting the words sink in. "I know..."
"Good." Lena let go slowly. "Let's go eat. You have to be hungry after all that."
"I am," Kara replied, with a touch of surprise, as she let her arms fall.
"I imagine healing takes a lot of calories." Lena said, taking one of Kara's hands in hers. "Let's figure out what we want."
"That's my girl," Lena heard her mother say inside her head as she led Kara from the room. "I'm so proud of you, chuisle."
-I promise to let her love me, Mum. I do.-
Chuisle, lenition of cuisle -- /ˈkɪʃl̠ʲə/ (kush-lah) : Irish endearment; literal translation "pulse", figurative translation "darling"