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you had me at pineapple doesn't belong on pizza

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It’s not the first time they’ve had the argument. It definitely won’t be the last. And, like usual, it’s really just a series of back and forths of directly opposing opinions that never come to a conclusion.

But Kara’s tired of it, which is why, when Alex is halfway through her defence of why pineapple should absolutely be allowed on pizza, Kara grabs an old phonebook she’s really not sure why they even still bother to send out and slightly aggressively flings it open.

“What are you doing?” Alex asks and at least it wasn’t her asking Kara is she even had taste buds again, or reminding her that for six months when she was thirteen all she would eat was chicken nuggets and asking if her flavour palette was really one to judge.

“We need an unbiased, third party opinion, so I’m just gonna call the first thing I see and ask.” They couldn’t exactly ask any of their friends since they’d unanimously agreed the pineapple debate was an inevitable segue into world war three and refused to ever utter their true opinions on the matter.

(Kara’s sort of glad.

She doesn’t even want to think about how many pizza traitors may be in her midst).

Kara chooses a number at random without paying much attention to the name, or the picture the number is splayed across. She has her mission and she’s not faltering. Alex must pay attention though because her eyes go comically wide.

“Hang up immediately,” she insists. Kara lets it ring, just barely resisting the urge to stick her tongue out.

“You’ve reached NC Nymphos; do you have any caller preferences today?” NC… Nymphos. Caller preferences. Oh. She was calling a phone sex operator. A phone sex operator with a ridiculously on the nose name. And there was absolutely no way she could flinch or back out now.

Just lean back on politeness. “Anyone will do, ma’am. Thank you.”

“Oh I know just the girl for you. Hold on just a second.” Kara hums in thanks. Taps her fingers along to whatever kind of erotic music is playing down the speaker, smacks Alex’s hand away with a completely non-threatening glare when she tries to grab her phone away.

“Hi, darling, my name’s Tess and how can I satisfy you tonight?” Kara doesn’t know what she expected to come down the line but it certainly wasn’t a voice like that. A voice that made her instantly understand why people did this phone sex thing. Low and husky and coated in aural honey.

“I need you to satisfy a dispute.” The oddness of that statement is highlighted by the surprised sound that echoes down the line. “Oh, also, I’m Kara, hi. That was rude of me.”

“A dispute? Colour me intrigued, Kara.”

“You have a lovely voice,” Kara slips. Alex mouths what the fuck at her and, yeah, that was pretty much exactly what she was thinking too.

“Oh so you do want my usual services?” The voice, Tess, says amusedly.

“Oh, no, that totally slipped out. Sorry. Not that I doubt your services are great. I’m sure you’re amazing at…” Kara trails off.

Tess picks it up smoothly, “Getting people off?” Kara blushes instantly. She thinks Tess probably could’ve filled the silence in with anything and made her blush. Her voice was so emotive. Like laughter wrapped in an orgasm and Kara felt like she needed to take several layers off to cool down. She was already in a tank top and pyjama shorts.

“Yes. That. Well, anyway, goodnight, Tess,” she scrambles through and for a second all she receives in return is laughter. It drips down Kara’s spine. Who knew laughs could have accents.

“Didn’t you have a dispute to settle?”

“Right, duh,” Kara chuckles awkwardly. “Um, pineapple on pizza - yes or no?”

“Well, whilst I respect the right to choose and think anyone should be able to eat what they want, I also think that pineapple on pizza tastes gross and I am vaguely judgemental of anyone who does it.” Kara lets out a happy whoop and Alex follows it with a groan that screams I know what that means and I know you’re going to be gloating any second.

“Thank you, Tess. You’re the best.”

“It was my pleasure, Kara. You’ll certainly be my most interesting call tonight.”

Kara should hang up then. She doesn’t. Instead she finds herself asking, “Don’t get many people asking about pineapples?”

“Not in any way I’d like,” Tess jokes. At least, Kara thinks she’s joking and she also thinks she’s going insane because she’s doing that overcompensating laugh she always does when she thinks someone is attractive and Alex is watching her bemusedly and she realises exactly how insane that sentiment sounds when she even thinks it out loud.

“Goodnight, Tess.”

“Goodnight, Kara.”

Alex’s grin turns borderline sinister when she hangs up the phone, “You’re blushing.”

“You lost the argument,” Kara deflects. It won’t be enough, she knows that.

“But I won something far more valuable and I, for one, am incredibly excited to tell everyone about this moment so we can all tease you together.” Alex already has her phone in her hand.

“Alex, don’t-“ And Kara’s phone has already pinged (and again, and again - stupid group chats). Kara flinches with each new sound, closes her eyes and pinches her nose.

The first thing she sees when she opens them is the pillow she threw clocking Alex over the head. Perfect shot. Perfect response. Perfect distraction for what is destined to follow her for at least a few weeks (probably months, arguably years, perhaps even deathbed jokes).

She should’ve just had pineapple on her pizza...

No, even saying that was too far.

Kara doesn’t know why they never decide what they’re eating ahead of time. Half of Game Night always seemed to be spent with half the group arguing for one thing and half for the other – it’s a game in and of itself. Tonight it’s called pizza versus Thai.

They’re in the middle of genuinely writing down a pros and cons list for both options when Alex smirks and turns around to look at Kara with a look that terrifies her. The same kind of look that ended with her being dared to climb a tree and finding her way back out of it by falling and breaking her arm on the way down.

“Why doesn’t Kara just call her friend Tess? She can choose for us.”

“Don’t start this again,” Kara warns in vain.

“I never stopped.”

“I’m not calling her,” she fights again. She will though. There’s no way she can’t with the five amused faces staring at her like this was the real reason they stepped through her door, like they’d been waiting for this opportunity for the entire week since Alex spilled the proverbial beans.

“Scared you’ll start blushing again?” Alex taunts.

“Fine!” Kara shouts. “Fine,” she mumbles again as she finds the number on her recent call list and hits redial. Her fingers aren’t sweaty. They aren’t. They were just a little damp.

“You’ve reached NC Nymphos do you have any caller preferences today?” God that name really was terrible. It was like it was the first alliterative thing that the creator thought of that they couldn’t be bothered to change and just ran with it instead.

“Hi, um, Tess please. If she’s free.”

“Of course. Just hold a second while I connect you.” There’s far more amusement in her tone than Kara would like before a familiar song starts playing in her ear and she steadfastly avoids her friend’s eyes as she taps out the beat again. She really hates them right now.

“Hi, darling, I hear we’ve spoken before?” She asks and Kara already has to will the blush to stop crawling up her neck. She almost succeeds, mostly stifling it by thinking this is Tess’ job. She always did this. It didn’t mean anything at all. The darling didn’t mean anything at all.

“It’s Kara,” she says and just when she’s about to clarify herself as pineapple pizza girl because why on earth would Tess remember her just from her name, she finds herself interrupted.

“Kara, hi!” Her voice immediately changes. “Have another dispute you need settled or have you rethought my offerings?” Rethought was a curious term. Kara hadn’t rethought them, no, because that would suggest she stopped and started again. She definitely hadn’t stopped.

“I’m still sure they’re lovely but I, err, actually called to ask you to help us pick what to eat tonight. It’s a toss up between pizza and Thai.” This was so stupid. Her friends were so stupid.

“Who’s us?”

“Oh, um, there’s Alex, my sister and her girlfriend Kelly and then Nia, Winn and Brainy. You probably didn’t need all their names. Friends. Us is friends. It’s Game Night.” Why was she giving her so much information? Friends was the answer. Just me and some friends. Not social security numbers and blood types.

“Game Night sounds nice.”

“It is. You should-“ Kara bites her tongue to stop herself from finishing that invite because apparently she still has that much sense left in her. Tess seems to notice where it almost ended up though because she lets out a chuckle. It’s light. A little well-worn, like she’s used to the slip up but also maybe like she didn’t mind it so much.

“Well, then, Kara. I would say that pizza is a classic – when it’s without pineapple obviously,” Tess jokes conspiratorially. Kara smiles and then promptly smothers it when her friends start laughing to each other. “But I would argue for Thai food personally. There’s more variety and I would honestly die for some noodles right now.”

“Can you eat on calls?”

“Sometimes. Certain foods are quiet enough to get away with and then, well, some people like the sound of a full mouth, helps them with the illusion.” The joke hits Kara quicker than usual.

She shouldn’t have asked. She really should not have asked because Tess knows exactly what she’s doing - Kara can hear the smirk in her tone, the amusement in each syllable and boy if she wasn’t awkwardly blushing before, she definitely was now.

Kara clears her throat, “That’s... Thank you. Again. I’ll try not to make it a habit.”

“I wouldn’t mind. Goodnight, Kara.”

“Goodnight, Tess.”

“I told you she was a useless mess,” Alex says the second her phone is back on the coffee table.

Nia at least takes some pity on her, “What did she vote?”

“Thai,” Kara replies simply, not trusting herself to say anything more without her voice cracking. Kara stops paying attention after that.

She doesn’t even care that her side lost.

She mostly just feels tingly.

It feels… dirtier, doing it alone. She’s not sure why. Maybe the audience made it seem less personal. Maybe the audience made it seem like more of a joke.

And she could just message one of her friends. She could just call Alex but she calls the line instead, asks more than politely to get put through to Tess.

The woman who greets her is the same as every other time and Kara thinks she was probably starting to recognise her voice by now. That felt dirty too.

“Kara, you’re back,” Tess says, shock evident.

Kara’s brow furrows on its own accord, “Is my number saved?”

“No this whole thing is completely anonymous. You apparently have a very distinct way of bumbling your way through your call requests though.”

“That makes sense.” Three pleases and two thank yous were probably a little excessive.

“So, what’s the big question today? Which fruit is truly the most elite? Aliens - real or no? What colour should you repaint your bedroom? Or perhaps you’d like to explore other things within your bedroom – finally find out if I’m any good at my job?”

“I don’t doubt that you’re amazing at your job. That thing you do with your voice is…” Kara clears her throat and her mind. “I’m calling for advice. Is that weird? That’s probably really weird and there were probably other people to call but I figured I’d embarrassed myself with you enough that I might as well add to that instead of introducing a new embarrassment into the mix.”

“I don’t think you’ve been embarrassing,” Tess says diplomatically, laughing when Kara scoffs in disbelief. “I’m serious! Embarrassing is the man who calls me weekly and asks me to fart down the phone. I have to switch apps every few weeks so he doesn’t cotton on that they sound too similar.”

Kara laughs, “You’re good at distractions.”

“Oh I’m great at distractions.” How could she make anything sound sexual? Why did Kara want to test that theory so much? “But how about we see how I do on advice this time?”

“A friend asked me out.” William. She’d hated him when Winn first introduced them – with a passion. But then she discovered he was slightly less of a dick than he first seemed so she figured they could at least be friends. Only, like usual in her life, she was thinking friends and he was thinking of all the ways he might be able to finally kiss her for the first time.

“Oh so you’re looking for that kind of advice,” Tess says with none of her usual sparkle but still all of the innuendo and it takes a second before it clicks.

But then it really clicks, “No, oh no! No. Definitely not.”

“Probably for the best. I talk a good game over the phone but I’ve never seen a penis in real life and I do plan to keep it that way.”

“You’ve never--? You like- your… girls?”

Tess laughs, “yeah, girls.”

“Sorry. That was awkward. I’m awkward. It’s why I need the advice. And, to be clear, the advice is on how to turn him down less awkwardly than I’m destined to do it. I tried to ask my friends but they were all like he’s a nice guy and remember that time he remembered your coffee order and Kara you’ve not been touched for six months, just give the guy a chance and I need an unbiased opinion.”

“You’ve not been touched in six months?” That… wasn’t supposed to be the focal point.

“Not by another person.” She wasn’t supposed to admit that.

“How do you like to be-“ Tess clears her throat. “Sorry. A more important question – is your coffee order really so difficult that it’s that impressive to remember it?”

“Iced vanilla latte,” Kara says plainly. Her mind mostly stuck on the first part of Tess’s response. The first part of Tess’s response. The first part of Tess’s response.

“Three whole words? Wow, he really is a keeper. I don’t think I can help you. You better lock that man down now,” Tess deadpans.

“Stop!” Kara laughs. “I really need your help. I’m the worst at saying no and I told him I needed to think about it and now he’s walking around like a kicked puppy and I know I’m going to cave.”

“You don’t owe him anything, Kara. They’re his feelings and if he’s making you feel bad about them, then he’s definitely not worth your time. Just tell him that you thought you guys were friends and that’s what you’re comfortable with and if he’s not then you’re happy to go back to being acquaintances who have people in common.”

“Can you repeat that so I can write it down?”

“You’re adorably awkward and I can’t tell if you’re being serious.”

“I was mostly joking but maybe cue cards are exactly what I need.” Or a really nicely written note that meant she didn’t have to look him in the eye. Or she could revert back to elementary tactics and have a friend say no for her and then avoid him for the rest of her life.

“What you need is to stop listening to other people’s opinions. You know how you feel, Kara. Just tell him those things and if he still tries to make you feel guilty for not feeling the same, then make him call me and I’ll swear at him down the phone for you.”

 Maybe Kara should just follow that route from the start. She’s pretty sure giving someone the number for a phone sex hotline in response to them asking you out was a pretty clear answer.

“You should start a side gig as an agony aunt.”

“I’m already an aunt and it is agony because my brother’s more childish than my niece and I feel like I’m raising them both half the time,” Tess says with more fondness than exasperation.

“Gasp. A brother? You mean you weren’t created in a lab specifically to satisfy people over the phone?” Kara jokes.

“Did you just verbally say gasp?”

“And what if I did?”

There’s a brief pause and then, “I’d think you were very cute.”

Kara’s cheeks take on a sharp red and she’s thankful as ever that Tess can’t see her through the phone. “Thank you. For the advice that is. Although the compliment was nice too.”

“Any time, Kara. For advice or compliments.”

“I should let you get back to it but… maybe we could speak again soon?”

“You know where to find me.”

“I’m sorry, you did what?” Tess utters between laughter. Kara doesn’t know why she keeps telling her the embarrassing stories of her life – she had plenty that painted her in a much more desirable light. Maybe she just liked the way Tess called her an idiot in a way that felt like a compliment.

“Stop laughing at me!” Kara says despite not being able to stop laughing either. “How was I supposed to know it would burn my eyebrows off?”

“You practically put your face into fire, what did you think was going to happen?”

“So maybe I didn’t particularly think it through,” Kara concedes. Tess keeps laughing. It’s still Kara’s new favourite sound. Alongside literally everything else that came out of Tess’ mouth. “Okay that’s enough laughing at me. Tell me something embarrassing about you. Something that happened off the phone. If you’re comfortable with that – I wouldn’t want to overstep."

It’s quiet for a moment and Kara almost has time to panic, almost has time to think that this was it, this was finally the moment where she ruined whatever this was after three weeks of calling Tess every few days with vaguer and vaguer excuses until she just stopped making them at all.

Almost. Until Tess says, “My first ever crush was my brother’s high school girlfriend. I was convinced that we were secretly meant to be together and that the six year age gap couldn’t possibly ruin my chances in the slightest. So convinced that I made a PowerPoint explaining all the reasons she should dump my brother and run off with me.”

Kara shifts delightedly on the couch. “You didn’t.”

There’s a little self deprecating laugh that echoes down the line. “Oh, I did. And I was like ten so you can imagine the ridiculous number of slide transitions.” Kara bet they were absolutely glorious. Just a complete mess of pinwheels and dissolving screens.

“What happened?”

“She laughed it off, told me I was cute but she was going to see how things went with my brother.”

“How did they go?”

“They’re married actually, despite my PowerPoint at their wedding containing all the reasons I remained to be the more eligible sibling.” Kara laughs. She hopes she kept the transitions. “Between you and me, she definitely agrees with me but I decided to let my brother have that one.”

“Very noble of you.”

Tess hums in acceptance, “It’s one of my many gifts.”

“What about generosity? Because I would love a copy of that presentation.”

“I would but it’s nothing without its charming presenter.”

Kara picks at a loose thread on her pyjamas for a moment before she takes a leap and asks, “Then maybe you could show it to me one day?”

“I’ll dust off the flashcards.”

Kara grins, lets her eyes trail over to the clock on her wall, “I should leave you to your other callers.”

“You always say that, like talking to you is some kind of burden I shoulder for the money.” Kara had had the thought, had worried about it constantly actually. That maybe she enjoyed their chats more than Tess did. That maybe this was a one sided affair like the other calls to the line. “It’s not. I… I like it when you call. I feel a little bit bad that you’re paying for it but I like it.”

Oh.” Kara grins. Fist pumps in the air before trapping her hand beneath her legs and trying to school her features into something more normal – even if they couldn’t be seen. “I’m glad.”

The admission sits in silence for a moment before Tess clears her throat. Kara wonders what she’s doing at that moment. If she’s got the same kind of smile on her face. If her face feels abnormally warm too. If she’s wondering what Kara looks like in that moment. If she’s wondering what Kara looks like in any moment, every moment.

“Right, well, I had actually better go. I have a weekly call with a gentlemen who likes me to fake snore down the phone as he jerks off.”

“That’s… alarming.” So incredibly alarming.

“Easy money,” Tess says casually and Kara can practically hear the indifferent shrug in her voice.  “Sometimes I actually do doze off.”

“Well have sweet dreams then, Tess. I’ll call you soon.”

“I look forward to it.” Kara did too. More than she cared to admit.

And she was never going to admit it. She just hoped Alex kept believing her excuses about who she was calling on the phone all the time.

(Alex hadn’t even believed the first one).

“Two days in a row, Kara, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Should I not have? Did you not want- I’m so sorry- I-“

“Hey, slow down there, over-thinker. It’s just; you do know you pay by the minute, right? Usually people don’t really make it past five so it’s not a problem but this must be costing you a lot.”

“Oh, right.” Kara deflates, lets the tension drop from her shoulders. “That’s no biggie.”

“No biggie?” Tess asks incredulously. “Have you checked the rate? Maybe you should look more closely,” she insists. It’s cute how worried she sounds. Incredibly cute.

“I appreciate you looking out for me but it really isn’t a problem. I kind of have more money than I know how to do with these days. I designed this new telescope a couple years back and my lawyers were very helpful in making sure I got the most out of it.”

“So you’re some kind of genius?”

“Just creative and stubborn.”

“I’m sure you’re selling yourself short. But it’s nice to know we have, yet another, thing in common.” Kara hums curiously and Tess continues with, “We help people see stars.” Kara groans immediately at the stupid joke as Tess poorly stifles her amusement.

“You know you could easily Google me now. I feel like I’m at a disadvantage.” She always was. From the second she called and heard Tess’ voice she was already on the back foot. And she didn’t mind - not really. But sometimes she wanted things to feel a little more equal. Sometimes she wanted to feel like just the sound of her voice made Tess a little loopy.

“How about you ask me a question? Any question you want and I promise you an honest answer.”

Kara doesn’t hesitate to ask the first thing that comes to mind, “Is Tess your real name? I don’t need your actual name. I was just curious but maybe that’s totally invading your-“

“Lena. My real name is Lena. Tess is actually my middle name. Sort of.”

“Lena,” Kara repeats. Whispers it a few more times just to roll it around in her mouth. “That makes more sense, I think.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I can’t explain it but it fits better with the way I imagine you in my head.”

“You imagine me?” Tess, Lena, asks.

Kara probably shouldn’t be wholly honest. She is anyway, “Constantly.”

“And what am I doing when you imagine me, Kara?” It could’ve been an entirely innocent question. It’s not. And Kara suddenly can’t imagine much at all. It’s like her brain goes blank the second Lena releases a velvety wave of syllables and draws her into her ocean.

Kara’s fingers bunch in the fabric of her shirt. Tighter. Tighter.

Lena’s quiet on the other end of the line, the soft pulse of her breath the only sound as she gives Kara a second to adjust, to decide.

“You’re-“ Kara starts.

Alex bursts through her front door, “Kara you have to help me!”

“I have to go, Lena. Bye,” she rushes out. Muffled words burst from the phone as she pulls away but she can’t really decipher them properly between slamming her thumb on the red button and flinging her phone across the room wildly and hoping it didn’t smash on impact.

It cracks audibly from the direction of her kitchen. Kara fights off her wince.

“What were you doing?” Alex asks suspiciously.

Nothing.” It’s too high pitched. “Nothing,” she corrects. “What do you need help with?” She distracts and breathes a sigh of relief when Alex seems to take the bait.

“Okay so, I found the perfect ring…” Kara half listens, half minor freaks out, half wonders what might have been if Alex hadn’t walked into her apartment and yes, the math was completely wrong on that, but she was having a moment, okay?

Just let her have her moment.

It takes her five days to call back again.

Mostly because every time she tried to call back before then was either derailed by Alex freaking out that she was actually going to propose for the second time in her life and what if it fell apart like the first or her shaky hands thinking about an almost what if.

Eventually she gives in to the logical part of her brain that tells her it’ll only get more nerve wracking if she doesn’t call (the part that was also maybe closely intertwined with the thirst section).

She bumbles her way through her usual requests but the erotic music never comes, instead it’s an immediate, “Kara. You called.”

It reminds Kara of the reaction she used to get when she first started calling Lena. When she first realised she wasn’t going to be able to stop and when Lena seemed to have not yet received that message. Maybe that was the first time Kara wasn’t the one at the disadvantage.

“Yeah. Of course,” Kara says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. It does feel like that to her. Inevitable. And exciting. And kind of scary. The kind of scary that came from not having felt this way about someone for a long time, and from this someone being a random woman over the phone that she knew nothing of the important stuff about.

Except she knows embarrassing moments, and first kisses, and coffee orders, and first concerts, and biggest fears so maybe she did know the important things.

(Asking if she was actually single might be a good idea though).

“I thought I might’ve scared you off,” Lena admits quietly. Kara can picture the way she’d be twirling the phone cord if this was an eighties movie. She wonders how she shows her nerves instead. If she taps on her desk, bites her lip, sways dangerously on her chair. “I know you don’t call for that and I was worried I’d overstepped.”

“I’m not sure I have boundaries with you.” None that she’d managed to find at least. “So you didn’t scare me and I’m sorry for hanging up so abruptly. My sister was having a crisis.”

Kara hears Lena’s long exhale, “Did you fix it?”

“Oh yeah. It actually wasn’t really a crisis at all. She’s proposing to her girlfriend and she wanted me to hide the ring. Said Kelly would sniff it out a mile off. She’s half convinced Kelly can read her mind on account of her being a psychologist.” She probably wasn’t completely wrong.

Kelly did have a habit of weeding things out of people but Kara mostly blamed that on her being disarmingly nice and constantly supportive despite most of their friends emotional stunting.

“What does it look like? The ring.”

“It’s pretty simple. Thin silver band, square cut diamond. It’s beautiful really; the exact kind of thing Kelly will love,” Kara describes and then, because Kara is an idiot who apparently can’t help but spew the first though that comes into her head, she continues, “What do you look like?”

She’s met with silence. She starts to scramble. “I’m sorry. That was- I shouldn’t have asked. It doesn’t matter regardless. You’re a beautiful person so it doesn’t matter. I just- I wonder- I-“

Lena cuts in, “I have dark hair, two slightly different coloured eyes, skin that I deliberately avoid the sun to keep pale and I once won best jaw line in senior superlatives so that must be alright.”

“I bet you’re beautiful.” Kara bet her laugh made her entire face light up. She bet it made her superior jaw clench in some magnetic way. She bet her eyes always looked like she was one step ahead and were filled with the sparkle of someone always ready to make a dirty joke to diffuse whatever tension they sensed in the room.

She bet she was a light. A flame to be followed. One that would devour you before you even realised you’d gotten too close for comfort because you didn’t really care about feeling comfortable - you just wanted to feel alive.

Kara never felt more alive than when talking to her.

“I thought it didn’t matter?”

“It doesn’t. I still think you are.”

“Well what do you look like, charmer?” Lena deflects and Kara takes a second to look down at herself. She probably wouldn’t mention the sweatpants stained with soy sauce or her hair that she hadn’t washed in more days than she would willingly admit.

“Oh, um, blonde hair, blue eyes with thick black framed glasses. Enough tan and muscle to make it obvious I’m one of those weird people who work out in the park.”

Lena laughs, “Couldn’t fork out for a gym membership with some of your loose change?”

“I decided to spend it all not having phone sex with a very lovely phone sex operator.”

“Sounds tragic,” Lena says with fake sympathy.

“I’m having a nice time."

“I bet she is too.” It’s a soft truth but it makes Kara’s heart slam pretty hard. Hard enough that it blocks her from saying anything else until Lena says, “I actually have a dilemma for you to help me with this time if you’re free for advice.”

“Interesting. Hit me.”

“I’m being dragged to some family party this weekend so my mom can show me all the single people she’s deemed good enough to meet me. Do I go dress or power suit?” Single. She was single. The girl Kara was inevitably going to fall in love with was single.

Kara focuses elsewhere, “Is that actually what the party is for?”

“It’s more like a business event on the surface, but she and I both know she uses it as a front to introduce me to the city’s eligible elite.”

“You don’t sound too annoyed.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I hate it. And they’re all generally pompous assholes who she thinks are nice because they’re constantly sucking up to her. But I do think it’s sweet that she cares so much and there’s always and open bar so…”

“I say suit. Weed out the men who are too insecure to handle it and ladies love a suit.”

“You really are a genius,” Lena compliments.

Kara preens visibly, jiggling happily in her seat at the compliment. “I don’t have a Greatest Genius in National City award on my shelf for no reason.”

“Too bad you’ve never met my mother,” Lena mutters. Kara’s beginning to think the same thing.

It all sounded pretty good - an open bar, Lena in a suit, the opportunity to make grown men insecure with slightly snide comments said with a confusingly cheerful smile, Lena in a suit. She didn’t even really know what she looked like out of a suit but now she needed both. Immediately.

“Maybe I have and she just didn’t deem me eligible enough.”

“I doubt that. She knows I have a thing for glasses.”

Kara shifts the pair on her face absentmindedly, “What else do you have a thing for?”

“Blondes with blue eyes who work out in the park. It’s a pretty specific type but I think I can eventually make it work,” Lena teases, though there’s no real hint of a joke. Laughter bubbles out of Kara anyway, like champagne from a shaken bottle.

“Tell me more about your family?” Kara asks and Lena obliges without pause.

“It’s just the three of us now. My dad passed away a few years ago.” Kara softly utters an apology that Lena accepts with a hum. “It’s okay, he lived a good life. Better, in his later years, the affair years were probably pretty questionable for everyone but it resulted in me so my mom always said she could forgive them. She was always a big believer in the ends justifying the means.”

“What happened to your birth mother?”

“She passed away when I was four. That’s when my dad came to collect me. It was rough, at first, being in a new place with people I didn’t know but they made me feel welcome. My brother played chess with me silently for four days, never pushed me to talk, just waited – I suppose two games were afoot even if I didn’t notice.

“And mom, she, well she kept looking at me so strangely and I was kind of terrified she hated me. She has one of those resting bitch faces. But, on the day I spoke to Lex, she smiled so wide I almost fell off my chair and everything suddenly felt lighter.

“Things have been pretty light ever since. My brother is married, as you know, and his kid is awesome and once every few months my mom drags me to an event to try set me up. In between that we usually get high and feed the ducks in the park.”

“They sound lovely,” Kara says honestly.

She can hear the wistful smile that utters, “They are. What about you? What’s your story?”

“It’s similar in a way. My parents were astrophysicists – both completely obsessed with the stars, and space, and understanding what was out there. They died when I was thirteen.

“I moved across the country to live with the Danvers. It was completely different to anything I’d ever known – the heat, the small town, even the accent wasn’t quite the same. I stuck out like a sore thumb, only I was twice as hurt.

“But Alex had my back from the second I showed up, and Eliza made me feel safe again and Jeremiah taught me how to laugh again with his stupid jokes – they were so much like my dad’s and completely the reason mine are so bad.

“He passed away a couple of years ago so now it’s just us girls but we’re happy. I’m happy. Happier than I’ve been in a long time actually.” Partly thanks to time. Partly thanks to Lena.

“I’m sorry you went through so much. I’m sure they would’ve been proud though, big hot shot like you helping people see the stars more clearly.”

“I like to think so.”

“Kara I- shit. I would love nothing more than to talk to you all night but I’ve got an alarm telling me I need to be available for a regular caller so I’ve got to go. I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t need to apologise to me.”

“That’s why you’re my favourite,” Lena says sweetly. “I’ll be thinking of you until you call again,” she adds, a little less sweet, and it’s the most romantic thing Kara has ever been told and also her newest gateway into the gutter, wondering how Lena might be thinking of her and all the ways she could be thinking of Lena in return.

She chokes out a timid, “bye” that’s met with giggles that say Lena road Kara’s thought train all the way to the station before the line disconnects and Kara’s left with a shaking hand, holding an overheated phone.

If Kara wakes up the next morning following a very dirty dream about a woman with dark hair and two different colour eyes, well that was no one’s business but her own.

(But if anyone did ask, it was a great dream.

A very great dream).

She shouldn’t call.

She really shouldn’t call.

She’s far too drunk to be calling anyone and yet, just drunk enough to think it’s a great idea.

It was a great idea though? Wasn’t it? She’d just gotten home from celebrating Alex and Kelly’s engagement. A celebration that began with shots which basically set the tone for the entire evening – that tone being things going downhill as fast as physically possible.

She should probably just go to sleep. She gets halfway there at first. She downs two glasses of water before refilling and bringing it into her room with some aspirin for the morning. She takes off her clothes and promptly decides putting on pyjamas isn’t going to be happening tonight before she flops onto her bed with her face still half painted with makeup she didn’t quite manage to wipe off.

She should just close her eyes and let the morning slam into her. But that didn’t sound like a great idea. What sounded like a great idea was picking up her phone and calling the number she had saved as Lena with a simple red heart.

“You’ve reached NC Nymphos; do you have any caller preferences today?” That name was still incredibly stupid. Someone really should’ve thought of something better.

“Le- No! Tessssss. Tess please, operator lady. Thank you.”

“Hold just a second, Kara.” She should probably be embarrassed that she’s so well known. She should probably be embarrassed that she’s definitely being laughed at. She’s sure she will be in the morning but instead she sings along with the weirdly erotic holding beat.

She cheers when it clicks off, “Leeenaaaa!”

She’s met with laughter that warms her toes, “Oh, you really are drunk.”

“I’m not drunk; the room’s just spinning really fast.” Way too fast… suspiciously fast if you asked Kara. Like she’d been shrunk down and put in a salad tosser from one of those weird three in the morning teleshopping commercials.

“You’re right. That’s totally normal."

“Your voice is pretty,” Kara sighs. “It’s like rolling around in a beautiful cloud and then sometimes you do that husky thing and it’s like kablam, lightning through my veins. But like ten times more powerful because I’m in the cloud not just under it.”

“I think you should go to bed, Kara.” Lena’s voice still holds laughter despite the gentle order her words pass along.

“Are you gonna come?” Kara pouts. She hopes Lena can hear how persuasive it is down the phone. Not for the first time she’s a little bitter that they can’t see each other. That she hasn’t had the guts to take this to the next level. Whatever that level may be. Kara’s vote was for marriage and kids.

“I don’t even know where you live,” Lena points out.

“Easily fixed, pretty voice lady. I live at-“

“Don’t tell me. Not like this. Not when you might wake up and regret it in the morning.”

Kara frowns. She wouldn’t regret it. “I-“

Lena cuts in abruptly, “I’m going to hang up now but… if you really want to tell me where you live, call me again tomorrow. But I’- don’t think this is me not wanting to know. I do want to know, Kara. Just… when I’m sure you want me to know too.”

“Tomorrow then,” Kara promises.

Lena chuckles softly, nothing more than a couple gentle puffs of air, “Get some sleep, Kara.”

The line goes dead.

Kara’s dead to the world pretty soon after.

It feels like seconds pass before she wakes up feeling like she might actually die. It feels like hours pass in the time it takes her to get ready to be at least semi presentable to go outside. Semi presentable really just consisting of her throwing her hair into a bun and smell testing the clothes on her floor to throw on so she can go in search of the one thing that’ll save her entire life.

Noonan’s coffee and like eleven cinnamon rolls. Twelve for good luck.

She’s busy cursing the sun for shining so brightly that it’s even invading the inside of the coffee shop when she slams into something solid. Something delicious smelling and warm and person shaped that was definitely trying to also make its way up to the counter.

She should really look where she’s going.

Or maybe she should look back down at the ground because what she finds when she lifts her gaze is the prettiest woman she’s ever seen.

The kind of woman who could turn people to stone with just one look, the kind of woman who could start a war and sink a thousand ships, the kind of woman Kara would’ve written embarrassing poetry about in high school, the kind of woman she’d look away from the stars for.

Kara gestures in front of her, fights herself from turning it into some kind of bow that screamed I’m not worthy, “Sorry about that, I wasn’t paying attention. You go first.”

The woman grins with widened eyes as she steps up to the barista, her body still slightly angled towards Kara in a way that only serves to highlight the sharp curve of her jaw and frankly maybe the alcohol did kill Kara last night because there was no way this woman was human.

“A black coffee for Lena please and an iced vanilla latte for Kara,” the woman says with a blinding smile and Kara would recognise that voice anywhere. Apparently hers was pretty memorable too.

“I’d convinced myself you were secretly a forty year old woman trying to pay her son’s way through college,” Kara blurts because Lena had a habit of making her forget she was supposed to have a conversational filter in her brain.

“Would that have been a deal breaker?”

“I’d probably still be into it."

Lena laughs at the response and it’s kind of everything Kara had imagined and more to see it in real life. The slight tilt back of her head revealing a gentle strain in her neck, the subtle bob of her throat, the double dimples carved into her cheeks, the sparkling light in her blue, green eyes.

“Alas I’m only twenty six and I did it to pay my way through my PhD to prove to my mother that I could and then I sort of loved it. It makes me feel empowered.”

“I feel like we’ve done a lot of this backwards but, if you’re free, and not embarrassed by me looking like I’ve been dragged through a bush, you want to take a walk in the park with me?” Kara could brave the sun for her. She could brave a thousand suns for her.

Lena grins, “I’d like that, Kara. I’d like that a lot.”

“Great. Maybe after I can tell you where I live and you can give me your actual phone number?”

“I’ve only been waiting a month for you to ask,” Lena says as she hands Kara’s coffee off to her and happily accepts the free hand Kara offers for her to hold.

They stay interlocked for the rest of the afternoon.

Kara spends most of it staring.

She can’t stop, won’t stop, making the most of every new sense she’s getting to experience with Lena. The weight of her hand. The softness of her skin. The smell of coffee on her breath and power in her perfume. The amusement in her eyes when Kara says something stupid and the fondness the second later when she silently took Kara in like she couldn’t quite believe it either.

And Kara was right, she was beautiful. Not that it mattered.

Lena had her at pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza.

Chapter Text

“I have someone for you.”

“Nope. I need several hours and many drinks before I can take a call after that.” Lena doesn’t even know why she picked up her phone. She knew what she was going to hear from the other end just like she knew she needed to take several showers to feel clean enough to live life again. She really didn’t have it in her to add more to it right now.

“But it’s a first timer,” Jess singsongs. She feels her armour crack slightly. “You know how much you love those. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a girl?” Her armour cracks a little more.

She opens her evening up to more mess with two little words. “A girl?”

Jess laughs, “I should’ve started with that, you massive lesbian.”

“I just appreciate how much more respectful they are in general.” And the tone of their voices, the way their reactions were always a little more breathy, a little less vulgar. Mostly the way she didn’t have to force her mind to imagine without clothes. She appreciates the way it feels less like a joke for her. The way it forces her to want to try harder, to have them react harder.

“Yes, of course, that’s why. So you’ll take it? It’s either you or Leslie and frankly this girl doesn’t sound like she could handle that right now.” Leslie was definitely an… acquired taste.

Lena sighs, relaxes into her chair. “Put her through.”

It takes her about ten seconds to switch from resigned to charmed. It takes her ten more to move from charmed to slightly enamoured because she’s never had a call like Kara. Kara who definitely used her real name instead of the usual pseudonyms people called up with like Randy Horsecock and Dick Raw like they believed she was actually going to look them up once the call ended. Kara who asked about pineapples and verbally blushed and gave compliments with no heat but all kindness.


Lena calls Jess’ line the second Kara bids her a goodnight for the second time. She doesn’t even give Jess a chance to speak before she blurts, “I want her if she ever calls again.”

“You sound like you were the one getting off.”

“She asked me my opinion on pizza toppings and I think I’m in love with her.”

Jess snorts but Lena hears the typing of keys like she’s making a very serious note for herself to follow through with the request. “I’d like to take a moment to amend my earlier statement – you’re a massive useless lesbian.”

“Just doing my bit for the community.”

Jess mutters something unintelligible but definitely offensive under her breath. “I’ll make sure she always has you.”

Lena grins. “Thank you for doing your bit for the community.”

“Hang up,” Jess deadpans. Lena laughs as she acquiesces. She wasn’t going to push her luck when it was just turning around.

And fuck if she didn’t need to grab some pizza.

She calls back.

She calls back a few times and Jess always puts her through to Lena even though she insists on sighing and telling Lena to just grow up, grow pubes and ask the girl out like a normal person, despite the abnormal situation beforehand.

She calls with her friends and shushes their jokes and hits Lena with we’s that shock her with the amount of jealously she almost feels before Kara promptly dispels it. She always dispels it with sister and friend and then she doesn’t. She hits Lena with the word date and an unbelievable wave of envy overcomes Lena that she has no real business feeling at all.

Date. A date that she wanted advice on. A date that she wanted Lena’s advice on and why else would you call up a phone sex operator for date advice unless you wanted some kind of sex advice. Lena broaches the subject and grins widely when Kara quickly says, “No, oh no! No. Definitely not.”

“Probably for the best,” Lena says, dropping her first few Hansel and Gretel crumbs to the I’m gay house in the woods. She quickly becomes impatient with subtlety. “I talk a good game over the phone but I’ve never seen a penis in real life and I do plan to keep it that way.”

“You’ve never--? You like- you’re… girls?”

Lena laughs, “yeah, girls.”

“Sorry. That was awkward. I’m awkward. It’s why I need the advice. And, to be clear, the advice is on how to turn him down less awkwardly than I’m destined to do it. I tried to ask my friends but they were all like he’s a nice guy and remember that time he remembered your coffee order and Kara you’ve not been touched for six months, just give the guy a chance and I need an unbiased opinion.”

“You’ve not been touched in six months?” She doesn’t mean to ask that. It’s not supposed to be the focus. She knows Kara didn’t mean for that to be the focus. But it’s all she can seem to latch on to.

It doesn’t sit right in her mind. She’s never even seen Kara but she can’t imagine her having anything less than a queue around the city begging for a chance to even just hold her hand for like five minutes. Her voice is like cotton candy, sugar spun in the most expert of ways, sticking to the roof of Lena’s mouth, to her fingers and lips, constantly reminding her that she indulged in the delight.

Her happiness is contagious and she makes Lena feel warm in the dorkiest way, in the best way, in a way she doesn’t remember feeling in her life ever before.

Lena would touch her in any way she was allowed.

“Not by another person,” Kara says. The sentence is punctuated with a click to her jaw that screams she hadn’t meant to say that out loud either. Lena’s brain halts just as sharply. Then it starts running a hundred miles a second in some attempt to catch up with her mouth. It doesn’t succeed.

“How do you like to be-“ Lena would like to say she stops out of sense. She doesn’t.

She stops out of the need to find her breath, her mind running her lungs ragged with flashes of thoughts she shouldn’t be having, that she’d been fighting desperately against for weeks. A faceless woman with smooth thighs. A teasing hand edging between them. Kara’s voice caught in a moan. A moan, a moan, a moan. A tremble. A gasp. Long fingers—

Lena clears her throat. “Sorry. A more important question – is your coffee order really so difficult that it’s that impressive to remember it?”

“Iced vanilla latte,” Kara says plainly, unbeknownst to the storm in Lena’s mind.

“Three whole words? Wow, he really is a keeper. I don’t think I can help you. You better lock that man down now,” Lena deadpans. The bar really was so low for men, like so low that Hades used it to play fetch with Cerberus. She could remember three words. She could totally be the one to remember three words for Kara.

“Stop!” Kara laughs, a slight whine dripping into her tone. “I really need your help. I’m the worst at saying no and I told him I needed to think about it and now he’s walking around like a kicked puppy and I know I’m going to cave.”

“You don’t owe him anything, Kara. They’re his feelings and if he’s making you feel bad about them, then he’s definitely not worth your time. Just tell him that you thought you guys were friends and that’s what you’re comfortable with and if he’s not then you’re happy to go back to being acquaintances who have people in common.”

“Can you repeat that so I can write it down?” Kara sounds a little awed, like she can’t believe someone managed to say it so succinctly and with so much ease, like she couldn’t quite believe her feelings could be crammed into something so un-ramble-panic like.

“You’re adorably awkward and I can’t tell if you’re being serious.”

“I was mostly joking but maybe cue cards are exactly what I need.” Lena imagines the image of Kara she’s started to form from small information drops. Soft cardigans and well fitted trousers with fumbling hands that can’t remember the order of the cards, that scramble to right them as they flutter to the ground uselessly. Adorably awkward.

“What you need is to stop listening to other people’s opinions. You know how you feel, Kara. Just tell him those things and if he still tries to make you feel guilty for not feeling the same, then make him call me and I’ll swear at him down the phone for you.” She’d use her influence to track him down if she needed to. She wasn’t against using her name for her own means.

“You should start a side gig as an agony aunt.”

“I’m already an aunt and it is agony because my brother’s more childish than my niece and I feel like I’m raising them both half the time.” Lexi was four and she was already more mature than Lex, thankfully not taking after the frat boy nature of her namesake and instead taking after her long suffering, completely delightful mother (who Lena still couldn’t believe allowed Lex to name their child so obviously after himself like some circle jerk self portrait).

“Gasp. A brother? You mean you weren’t created in a lab specifically to satisfy people over the phone?” Kara jokes.

Lena’s heart flips. “Did you just verbally say gasp?”

“And what if I did?”

It’s a tease. A daring tease and Lena wants to rise to it. She wants to make this something more but she’s scared she doesn’t know where the line stands in this. She doesn’t know what’s not enough or what’s too much. She settles for honesty. “I’d think you were very cute.”

Kara’s quiet for a moment. Oddly Lena doesn’t panic. She feels calm in the rhythm of Kara’s breathing down the line. “Thank you. For the advice that is. Although the compliment was nice too.”

“Any time, Kara. For advice or compliments.”

“I should let you get back to it but… maybe we could speak again soon?”

Lena grins widely; glad her giddiness can’t be seen as she attempts to be cool in her response. “You know where to find me.”

Kara’s soft goodbye follows her for longer than it should. Everything about Kara lingered with her for longer than it should and she couldn’t bring it in herself to care. She thinks she rather likes it.

“Do you remember your first call?” Kara asks out of the blue one night when they’ve been talking for far longer than they probably should have, longer than Kara should be paying for, definitely longer than it feels. Time doesn’t work right around Kara. Lena doesn’t work right either.

“I remember I almost never did this again afterwards.” Lena is glad she did. It brought her a lot of laughs over the years, brought her a lot of friendships with women she never would have met otherwise. It brought her Kara too.

“That creepy?” Kara asks, the wince evident in her tone.

“He wanted me to moan like Elmo,” she admits. She did it too. She really did it and frankly she was pretty impressed with her own impression but that didn’t mean it didn’t still haunt her, didn’t mean she still couldn’t see Sesame Street in passing without shuddering. It had been Lexi’s favourite programme for a while – Lena made sure to nip that one in the bud.

“I’m sorry you had to suffer through that,” Kara laughs out the entire sentence.

“You don’t sound sorry at all.”

“I can laugh and be sorry.”

“I’ll allow it, if only because it’s such a nice laugh,” Lena says.

Kara’s giggles finally subside as she whispers out a low, “thank you” still seemingly unsure of how to accept the reverence in the tone of Lena’s compliments. Lena couldn’t tone it down if she tried.

She might’ve been embarrassed if Kara didn’t keep calling, if Kara didn’t keep saying things back, if Kara didn’t sound like she hadn’t heard something like it in a while (from someone other than William).

“What do you actually do when you’re… talking to people?” Kara asks.

Lena looks around her apartment.

Right now she’s sitting at her desk with low lamplight, sketching the same blueprint she’s been trying to make sense of for a couple weeks now. The same one she keeps being distracted from because of the girl down the phone – whether she was down the phone at the time or not.

Her hair is a day past greasy and slapped up in a bun. She’s in the same pyjama shorts and hoodie she’d worn all day, making the most of her day away from real life. She’s not entirely sure this is what Kara wants to hear. “Do you want the real answer or the sexy answer?”

“I find it very hard to believe that the real answer with you isn’t still insanely sexy.” Lena presses her cool hands to her rapidly heating cheeks, rolling her eyes at herself.

“What if I told you half the time I’m doing work I brought home with me? Or that sometimes I’m just sitting on my sofa in noodle stained sweats, watching TV out the corner of my eye?”

“I would say we’re finally having the kind of conversation I’m technically paying you for,” Kara jokes but drops her voice in a way Lena won’t be forgetting anytime soon and, if there were ever any doubt that Lena was super into her, it was definitely assuaged in that moment.

“You’re ridiculous,” she says and she both means it and doesn’t mean it at all.

“I am,” Kara agrees readily. Lena smothers her grin with her hand even though no one but she and her desk plant named Douglas can see. “I actually am though because I’ve really been imagining you sitting in some office surrounded by like whips and chains and really, really sexy cubicles.”

“Do whips and chains excite you?”

Kara laughs, “I understood that reference.”

Lena lets Douglas see her very dopey smile. “There is an office. Operators have to go in sometimes just to check in and we can sit in really, really sexy cubicles if we’d like but most of us have our lines linked elsewhere, so that we can bake cakes on speaker and hope the timer doesn’t give us away.”

“I bet you’d make a really good cake.”

Lena deliberately misunderstands. “I think I’d be pretty great too. I’d certainly look delicious covered in nothing but butter cream.”

“That’s not-“ Kara cuts off, whines a little. “Tess.” God Lena wishes she hadn’t given a fake name. She wishes she could hear Kara whine her real name in that tone. She wishes Kara would just call her up and say something sexual so she could finally give into it all because right now she felt like Kara had attached a rope to her leg and dipped her in a live volcano with no plan to pull her back out.

“What do you do? When we talk?” Lena asks when Kara makes no move to continue. She wants to be able to imagine her in return, even if it’s just a silhouette, even if she can’t paint in the details of her features. She wants to have some kind of vision of the epicentre of the earthquake in her chest.

“Sometimes I’m making dinner. Sometimes I paint. Right now I’m just lying in bed thinking that I really need to clean this one scarily intricate cobweb from the corner of my room.” Lena wanders over to her own bed at the confession, drops on top of the sheets.

“Please tell me you’re not afraid of spiders because one of us has to be willing to kill them.” They’ve been talking for weeks. Telling each other stories and secrets and memories. This isn’t the first time Lena has thought about them meeting but it’s the first time she’s thought about broaching the subject, even in such a thinly veiled way.

There’s a thoughtful beat on the other end of the phone that makes Lena think Kara gets the true gist of her words anyway. “I promise to kill any and all spiders that threaten you.”

“You didn’t say they don’t frighten you,” Lena points out.

“Oh I hate them but I feel like the support of a beautiful woman could push me to do most things. Just like a super gay adrenaline rush.”

“I’m sure I could think of plenty of things to inspire such a rush.”

“I’m sure you could,” Kara says, yawning in the next second. Lena hazards a look at the clock beside her bed, both surprised and entirely unsurprised to see its way past midnight. She doesn’t even want to think about how much Kara’s spending on these conversations. If she thinks too hard she knows she’ll have to stop and she doesn’t want to stop. Instead she keeps hoping that Kara will gather the courage to ask her for her number.

“I heard that, darling. You should go to sleep.”

You should go to sleep.” The retort has no real strength.

“We both should."

“Probably,” Kara says. Neither of them make any move to follow through. Her voice comes again a thousand times quieter after a moment of silence, “Why is it so hard to hang up on you?”

“I wish I knew… I’ll count to three?” Kara hums her assent in response. It’s the longest count of three Lena has ever done. Kara says goodnight softly on one, just as Lena pulls the phone away to hang up.

For the first time in a long time Lena shuts off her lamp, tucks away her work and climbs back into bed to sleep during semi-normal hours. If only so her brain doesn’t have so much time to think about Kara.

(She dreams about her anyway).

Lena had never been very good at sharing things about herself. It wasn’t her natural state, to be so open. But Kara starts sharing things about herself, about her life, her fortune, her passion and she finds herself telling Kara she can ask anything and finding that she really means it.

For Kara she was an open book. She’d let Kara break her spine to check every grain of the borders of her pages if she asked. Let her pick at the lettering on the cover to see if anything was underneath. Let her inspect the blank spaces between lines to see what messages may have been hidden, even to her own understanding.

She doesn’t expect the question Kara asks to be something as normal as, “Is Tess your real name? I don’t need your actual name. I was just curious but maybe that’s totally invading your-“

She cuts in, “Lena. My real name is Lena. Tess is actually my middle name. Sort of.” She was an open book but an open book that didn’t need to be entitled Lutessa for as long as possible.

“Lena,” Kara repeats. Whispers it a few more times to test. It sounds a lot better on her tongue. Lena wishes she would say it a few more, to make up for lost time. “That makes more sense, I think.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I can’t explain it but it fits better with the way I imagine you in my head.”

Lena can’t help but tease. “You imagine me?”

“Constantly,” Kara says with casual strength.

“And what am I doing when you imagine me, Kara?” Lena drops her voice into something more than a tease. Let’s the vowels husk and the consonants flirt and hopes Kara takes the bait. She’s patient in her hope in spite of the desperate thump of her heart. She can’t do much more than she’s already done; it was up to Kara to adjust to the shift, to decide.

(She hoped she shifted soon.

Her patience was a façade).

“You’re-“ Kara starts. Lena swallows harshly in expectation. Then Kara’s voice comes again, far more panicked and rushed than before, “I have to go, Lena. Bye.”

“Wait, Kara, shit. I didn’t-“ Lena spews but the line is already dead. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. She pushed it too far, that was too far, why did she push it that far? She’d been testing the waters for a while but maybe she shouldn’t have been testing, maybe she should’ve just been happy with how things were.

She was happy with how things were. Reasonably. Far more so than she was usually happy.

Lena stares at her phone for a moment in despair before slamming the top contact in her favourites list and planting face first onto her bed. Sam picks up on the first ring. At least Lena hadn’t managed to somehow ruin that relationship too yet.

“I’ve ruined everything,” she says or really just mumbles indiscernibly into her pillow.

“Lena, do not make me use my mom voice on you,” Sam warns. Lena would argue that she was already using her mom voice if that argument meant anything other than being on the receiving end of mom voice part two: full name edition.

Lena rolls over onto her back before repeating, “I’ve ruined everything.”

“With your nympho girlfriend?”

“She’s not a nympho, that’s the problem,” Lena groans, deliberately avoiding the other half of the question. She doesn’t think she could handle saying Kara’s not her girlfriend right now. She was far too vulnerable. Sam just laughs at her. “Not like that. I just- I really like her and sometimes my mouth starts moving and I fall back on what I’m used to and I think I went too far this time because she hung up on me. She actually hung up on me.”

Lena had never been hung up on in her life. Not even Lex had hung up on her in the heat of an argument when she told him his newly bald head looked like a ballbag (mostly because he was laughing so hard at the use of ballbag and the idea that Lena would have had to see one in her lifetime).

“What did you even say?”

“I just asked her what she does when she imagines me.” In the scheme of things that had come out of Lena’s mouth in her lifetime it was tame. In the scheme of things Lena had thought about Kara in their, for lack of a better term, relationship it was incredibly tame. In the scheme of things Kara was probably prepared for when she called Lena up, it probably wasn’t so tame.

“In the voice?”

“Yeah, in the voice.”

“It’s a really good voice.” There’s a knowing lilt to Sam’s words that has Lena remembering a time when she’d first confessed to her friend about her second job, when Sam had begged her to show her some of her phone moves, when Sam had visibly blushed and shuffled in her seat and told Lena to be careful wielding that weapon. She’d apparently forgotten to be careful.

“A really good voice that has ruined everything,” Lena bemoans.

“I’m sure you haven’t ruined anything, Lena. You’ve pushed the boundaries before and she always comes back, maybe she just got a little skittish or something else grabbed her attention. The amount she calls you she must be pretty important to be able to afford it.”

“Yeah, turns out she’s like a millionaire or something.”

“You ruined things with a cute millionaire?”

“You just said I didn’t ruin them!” Lena screeches.

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” Sam quickly tries to calm, her attempts ruined slightly by her far too amused laughter. “She’ll call, just be patient, and, while you wait for your lady love to make you feel better about your overactive imagination, please take me and Ruby out for dinner because I need to see another adult outside of the office or I’m going to lose my mind.”

Kara does call five days later. Five long days. Five days that Lena tries to fill with work, and various new hobbies, and taking Sam and Ruby out in spite of their constant teasing of her. Five days of refusing other calls just in case Kara called the line and she wasn’t available.

Every bad feeling disappears the second Kara calls back.

All she remembers is how warm Kara makes her feel.

(And how supremely fucked she is).

She can’t stop thinking about Kara.

Blonde haired, blue eyed, apparently visibly muscular Kara who probably smiled like the sun and put everyone around her at ease and was guaranteed to smell like honey or something else saccharine and delightful. Lena wanted to know if she was right, she needed to know if she was right.

But she couldn’t ask. She couldn’t ask her what she smelled like or what the skin of her neck tasted like or how warm she’d feel against the palm of her hands, how soft her own hands would be, and yet those were the questions that constantly plagued her. Those were the questions she thought about asking all the time, no matter how much she smothered them.

She wants to know everything about Kara. She’s already enamoured with everything she knows so far - how much she loves her family, the way her brain works through problems, the way she crafts a tale, and how she downplays how wonderful she is at every turn unlike most of the people Lena has met in her kinds of circles, with her kind of money.

She wants to know everything. So, when Kara connects this time with a jovial, “hi, Lena!” It’s her turn to spew out a random question in double-time.

“What’s your favourite season?” For someone of her IQ, she really was so stupid.

Kara laughs, jokingly asking, “Are you filling out a Buzzfeed quiz?”

“No I- I’ve been thinking about you.” Lena is a little too honest. Kara inhales a little too sharply. She decides to be a little too honest again. “And knowing more about you and apparently my mouth translated that into asking you about the physical passage of time.”

“I think about asking you stupid questions all the time,” Kara says kindly. “Not that your question was stupid! Just… mundane? Generally unimportant to life but super important to me, is what I mean.” Lena presses her smile into her hand at Kara’s ramble. “I like spring. I like the vibrancy of the flowers coming through and the way the days keep getting a little bit longer. I like the stars, they were the first ones my parents ever taught me to understand.”

“You seem like a spring person.” All new life and bursting, blooming colours. The perfect embodiment of slowly returning warmth and light. Knowing Kara was like travelling through spring and Lena had only experienced it in part. “Okay, next question, which one of these holiday destination pictures speaks to you the most?”

Kara laughs, “It’s definitely my turn to ask a question.”

“Anything,” Lena promises once again.

“What’s your favourite food?” She asks in all seriousness and Lena would be lying if she said she didn’t want, more than anything, to know if the smile on Kara’s face matched the one on hers. If she too was twiddling with whatever was around her stupidly. If she also was struggling to get her heart to stop clawing at the fragile cage in her chest.

“I’d like to pretend it’s something fancy but god I just love fries.” It’s not what anyone would guess from looking in her fridge or seeing what she ate for lunch but it’s what she leant towards when she was feeling bad, or feeling extra happy, or just in need of a salt fix.

“Excellent choice.”

“My turn. What’s your favourite-“

They go back and forth for a while asking ridiculous questions, never really touching on anything too real, just surface questions and favourite things and it’s great – to feel like she knows Kara without really knowing her life at all, to feel like she knows her at her core instead of knowing her experiences, instead of painting a picture through her story as a whole and not her actions within it.

There’s no doubt about it.

Lena was going to be in love with her.

Lena doesn’t sleep all night when Kara calls her drunk.

Or, she does, just not very well. She sleeps in twenty minute increments and five second blinks and a thousand shuffles that finally have her giving up. She starts doing work instead and it works, until it doesn’t, until she realises she can’t focus properly on that either and she decides it’s late enough in the morning to finally go grab the coffee she’d been craving for hours.

Noonan’s isn’t the closest coffee shop to her apartment. It’s fifteen minutes further away from the cart across the street from her door, ten minutes further then the café around the corner where the owner’s cat vaguely attacks customers, three minutes from the coffee shop Sam swears is the best in the city (the one Lena definitely does not agree with).

Noonan’s requires a peaceful walk through the park, and paying a little more for a drink she could get made just as well elsewhere, but it always smells like cinnamon and the staff never offer fake smiles and Lena quite likes the look of honest despair and boredom - she relates to it.

Noonan’s isn’t the closest coffee shop to her apartment but it has the best oat and raisin cookies in the city and it has her bumping into Kara. Physically. Beautifully.

Lena couldn’t believe her luck, still couldn’t believe her luck even with the proof of it in her hand. The proof being Kara’s hand. Holy hell in a hand basket they were actually holding hands. In person. And Kara was the prettiest women she’d ever seen.

Sunglasses pushed to the top of her head as if to prove to Lena she had her full attention, even though it left her bright blue eyes squinting at the sun. Her bun is a little messy, her t-shirt is more than crumpled and there’s a stickiness to her lips from too much icing from the sticky buns she hastily added to Lena’s order before they left.

Lena thinks she looks perfect.

Hungover and perfect.

Lena can’t stop looking, hasn’t stopped since she first laid eyes on Kara (she’s not even sure which park they’re walking in, or if it’s even a park and not just some field she’s going to be murdered in). She’s surreptitious with her gazes at first, until she finds that, when she looks, Kara is always already looking her way. Then she’s just bold.

“You’re staring,” Lena says, hypocritical as ever.

Kara smiles as she returns the observation, “You are too.”

“Just making sure you’re actually real.” Lena uses her free hand to poke Kara’s cheek in faux inspection. Her skin is really soft. Lena is really gay.

Kara lightly bats her finger away. “Says the woman who looks like that. You look like a painting from some Arthurian legend about a woman so beautiful she killed anyone who dared to look at her.” A blush takes hold of Lena’s cheeks. “The red in your cheeks really brings out your eyes.”

“Stop it,” Lena says but her smile cools any heat her words might’ve attempted to have.

“I feel like I’m still a little drunk. Not on alcohol or anything. I swear I’m of sound mind and making good decisions, I just—I got so used to just hearing you and now I feel like every single one of my senses is being overwhelmed by you.”

“You’re very charming.” Kara’s cheeks copy the shade of Lena’s. “I know what you mean though. Since we’re both being weird I suppose now is the time to admit I’ve been wondering what you smell like for weeks.” Maybe that was too weird.

“Why don’t you come in here and find out?” Or maybe that boundary didn’t exist with Kara. Lena steps into Kara’s arms the moment she opens them, wraps her arms around her waist and drops her face into her neck with barely concealed excitement.

She smells like sea salt and strawberry. Like perfume half wiped off in her sheets. Like faint cinnamon buns and coffee grinds. It’s Lena new favourite smell. “Never let go.”

“What if I had my own burning question?” Kara asks. Lena leans back far enough that without removing herself from Kara’s grasp, to tilt her chin up towards Kara.

“What would you like to know?” Kara kisses her in answer. It’s brief. A request for consent, a testing of unsure boundaries, a slight indulgence of an ever growing want. She pulls back ever so slightly, waits for Lena’s response. Lena kisses her in answer, presses herself in more surely, falls into the rhythm Kara’s lips create. It’s worth the wait. No matter how hard that wait was.

Kara smiles softly as they part. “You taste like coffee.”

“Not all the time. Not everywhere.” It’s mostly a joke (it’s mostly not).

“Would you like to know the address to my apartment now?”

Lena laughs, “I would really love that.”

They mostly talk that evening. Lena mostly stares as she watches the way Kara’s mouth makes words she’s heard from her lips so many times before, as she watches the way she gesticulates with her hands and ever so slightly bounces in her seat when she gets excited.

She mostly stares as she pairs the image of Kara in front of her with the one she’d tried to imagine so many times before. She mostly stares until Kara kisses her again and all she sees is the back of her eyelids and the darkness in which fireworks burst in silent beauty.

“What’re you wearing?” Lena purrs as Kara picks up the phone. It’s not actually what she called for. She can’t remember which restaurant they’re supposed to be meeting at that evening but it was always worth a shot, it was always worth hearing Kara’s responding laugh at her attempts.

“Lena, stop, I’m not having phone sex with you.” She was though. Eventually. Lena could feel her walls crumbling, could hear the indecision in deep pauses, the want hidden beneath the nerves.

“I don’t know what you’re so afraid of.”

“You’re practically an expert. I’m not gonna pick up a racket and challenge Serena Williams either.”

“But you’re so good at it when we’re in bed.” So good. Shockingly amazing. Lena hadn’t known what to expect the first time Kara had invited her into her bed. She never could’ve prepared herself for the immediate demeanour shift in the otherwise restrained and utterly adorable Kara. You would never catch her complaining though. She was more than happy to get swept up in strong, sure hands and low timbre tones that worked with certain purpose.

“That’s completely different. I’m emboldened by your boobs then.”

Lena grins, quickly flicking onto her camera roll and sending a recent photo for occasions such as this. “That should help get things going.”

“What-“ Kara’s voice dips away from the speaker and then, further away from the phone, Lena hears a low holy shit before the line cuts off completely. She pulls the phone away from her face confused, almost clicks to dial again before an unfamiliar number interrupts her. She picks up curiously.

“I broke my phone.” Kara’s voice comes through. Lena’s stomach tenses with the laughter that bursts abruptly from her in response before she can catch it.

“Where are you calling from?”

“Apparently I still have a landline.”

“Ooh, landline sex.”