Everything is washed out from the light flooding up from the sun bed underneath her. People crowd around her, faces twisted in odd shadows. Needles prick into her arms. Kara flinches when she sees one approaching her. A hand closes on her upper arm, not tight, but she’s exquisitely aware of their grip, aware of their sudden relative strength, and it takes all her willpower not to try to pull away.
Maybe on another day, she’d feel more generous. But right now, she’s powerless. Can’t fly. Can’t heal. She might as well be a prisoner here. And right now, these people, the ones she works with every day, she knows they study aliens. They throw them in prison, and never let them out. The fact that these aliens are convicted criminals doesn’t seem all that important, anymore.
Kara remembers what J’onn told her on her very first visit to the DEO. All of this is because of you.
Faces loom over her. Any other time, she might just feel odd—it’s still vulnerable, being on her back like this, no matter how invulnerable she usually is—but now, she can’t make out their faces, and they seem familiar and indistinct all at once, haughty and hostile. She doesn’t feel like their co-worker right now, under their gaze; she feels like a subject.
She feels the line between “Fort Rozz escapee” and every other alien out there on this planet blur, like the faces around her, and it makes her want to jump up from the table.
Somehow, the fact that all of her senses are turned down makes the noise harder to hold out than it would be otherwise; it’s an indistinct jumble of sounds pressing in on her, indecipherable. It’s all out of balance, her brain struggling to re-orient: The incessant hum of the sun bed, the clatter of instruments, tools, footsteps, voices. They fade in and out, her mind calibrating, deciding, re-calibrating.
They’re talking about her. Not to her, about her. She catches a few words: Supergirl, powers. Kara swallows and tries to look at the ceiling and not at her arm. The crook of her elbow aches where the IV is inserted.
A voice cuts through the fog: “Give her some space.” Then, sharper: “Now.”
A thread of warmth moves through her.
Next, barely: “I’ve got her from here.”
A hand slides into hers. A body moves into the glow of the sun bed, blocking her line of sight—and everyone else’s line of sight to her. Even though the other techs are still there, Kara feels something in her finally start to relax. That familiar black polo fills her vision. Kara looks up.
Alex isn’t looking at Kara; she’s tapping something on the readout next to the sun bed with her free hand. But the wry lift to one corner of her mouth says she’s aware of Kara’s gaze.
Finally, Alex looks at her. That little smirk becomes a smile. “Hey.”
Alex deftly handles their (well, Kara’s) escape. Kara probably could’ve handled it on her own, but—depowered Kryptonian, she attracts alien hunters like flies. Even though they’re on her side.
Or, technically, she’s on their side, and normally she wouldn’t differentiate between the two, but right now, that difference is uncomfortably stark. She doesn’t know if it’s actually better that she has someone escorting her, but she knows that Alex won’t take any chances; that’s why she’s here with Kara.
So Kara lets Alex take the lead, sliding into the space behind her left shoulder like a shadow. Sometimes she catches herself with her gaze down, trying to disappear. But when she forces it back up, the desert base around them looks jarringly unfamiliar, like all the proportions are different. The ceiling seems so high up when she knows she can’t reach it. The entire facility looks like a vast, blinking shadow, a blur of faces, and an achingly long distance to walk.
She is a bit disoriented from the loss of her powers, though.
Once Alex has Kara past the last checkpoint, in one of the security system’s blind spots, she stops. This is her cue to continue on by herself. Kara turns and wraps her arms around Alex, and Alex squeezes back. Kara sways slightly into the hug, marveling at how her ribs ache from the strength of it. She burrows her face into Alex’s shoulder, inhaling the scent of Alex’s hair and antiperspirant and masking agent and, faintly, Alex. Familiar. The hug soaks into Kara’s bones, warming her in a way that even the sun bed couldn’t quite manage.
“I’ll come by once I’m off duty,” Alex murmurs against Kara’s shoulder, and Kara feels slightly caught, like maybe she shouldn’t take so much comfort in Alex, or take comfort like this. Alex’s voice is soft, though, like they’re at home and not the DEO, and she’s not pulling away or trying to maintain decorum—and it makes Kara flush a little, Alex’s complete comfort at her proximity pressed so close to her own decidedly PG-13 reactions. There’s no way Alex hasn’t figured out that Kara is scenting her, in a long hug like this one.
“Okay.” Kara manages not to stammer.
Kara spends a lot of time laying on her couch in (what’s left of) the evening sun.
Alex has another twelve hours on her shift after Kara gets home.
Just long enough for Monday morning to roll around, Kara realizes glumly.
“So call in sick.” Alex’s voice comes over the line.
Kara all but whines. “But it’s Ms. Grant.”
“If she fires you for being sick one day out of the entire time you’ve worked for her, I will go down there myself and tell her I’m investigating her from Labor & Industry.”
Kara’s anxiety can’t quite stop the giggle that emerges out of her throat, but it makes it tense and high. “I feel like that’s probably illegal.”
“So is firing someone for being sick.” Alex’s voice has that petulant grumble that she gets when she’s been caught out. Kara’s resolve is crumbling. “She can live without you for a day. You shouldn’t have to go out if you don’t want to when you’re like this. Besides, you could actually get sick, and your immune system might not be all that great.”
Kara feels all her years of hearing Millennials just expect mummy and daddy to take care of everything for them fold up into a single pinpoint and then vanish, up against Alex’s arguments and the vaguely annoyed tone of her voice, like back in junior high, only now she’s twenty-six and ready to get in a fistfight with the entire world on Kara’s behalf. It’s stupid, but in the last thirty-six hours, Alex’s semi-permanent annoyance has been the biggest comfort in all of this.
“Okay.” She says meekly, like she didn’t call Alex because she knew that Alex would say something exactly like this.
“I’ll see if I can get Hank to let me take the day off tomorrow.” Alex catches herself. “The whole day.”
Kara frowns. “Are you sure?”
“You know how many days I’ve willingly taken off since I started working here? Zero. He owes me one, by now.” Kara bites her lip to keep from laughing. Workaholic Alex, getting all defiant over her days off.
She didn’t even have to ask. Thank Rao. “Thank you.”
Someone knocks on her door, and for the hundred and ninth time, Kara curses her powers’ absence, because she can’t tell who it is, and she can’t super-speed from over at the sink where she’s washing her face.
She hopes it’s Alex. It’s supposed to be Alex.
She squints through the tiny peephole on the door—how do humans deal with this?—and to her relief, Alex is there, looking to either side, radiating impatience.
Kara opens the door, and there’s Alex, hair falling in her face, with a bag over her shoulder and her jacket open and her holster (under-arm, not on her thigh) in plain view for anyone in the hallway, over a plain black t-shirt and black sweats. Alex relaxes visibly when she sees Kara, all the impatience draining out of her, face easing into a smile, dark eyes taking her in, something settling in them once she seems to decide that Kara’s alright.
Kara always figured she could tell Alex’s micro-expressions and little moods because of her abilities. Now, maybe, she thinks she just knows what to look for.
Kara pulls her into a hug, heedless of the holster or the gun or the open hallway around them (it’s past busy hours, anyways)—and just like before, Alex hugs her back. Kara soaks in the warmth of Alex’s arms coming to rest around her, basking in the sensation of being encircled, the familiar-unfamiliar grounding feeling of Alex’s arms (familiar) when the world around her feels out of step from how she normally perceives it. And somehow, Alex seems even stronger and more solid (unfamiliar) because of how weird everything else feels and because now… she supposes they’re a lot more equal, in terms of physical strength.
And it’s not that Alex doesn’t use a masking agent; it’s just that it’s been long enough that some of that natural scent is starting to creep back in through the three-in-one shampoo/body wash/masking agent that she uses after she works out. Not much, but it’s there, specifically in her hair, and maybe it’s how vulnerable she feels, but Kara tucks her face against the side of Alex’s head and breathes in that Alex-scent and, maybe just a little bit, it ceases to matter how small and vulnerable she is.
She can’t quite manage to pull away when she usually would, either, but Alex doesn’t stiffen or get awkward. When Kara finally does manage to pull away, Alex’s eyes are soft in a way Kara would tease her about if she could remember how to speak.
Alex actually has work to do, even though she’s off, and in spite of Kara’s pout (“I have to write up your” —finger point— “—Test results”), that doesn’t change. But she cedes to Kara’s demand that she sit with her on the couch.
She stops to check Kara’s vitals first, though, going through the motions like it’s breathing for her, brow furrowed slightly in concentration, and she doesn’t look like either Agent Danvers or Doctor Danvers, with her red and black Stanford sweats and her black t-shirt and holster hanging half-undone and open from her shoulders, hair half-in her face.
It shouldn’t captivate her; how many times has Alex done exactly this motion? She almost doesn’t even have to think to do it. Most of the time, Kara probably doesn’t even notice when she does it. It’s just another way Alex stays close to her at the DEO, not necessarily functional.
But Kara feels so… flimsy, like this, everything turned on its head. The world around her immediate and urgent, fragile and transient, slipping through her senses. Somehow, her body feels louder, like this. The skin of her wrist paper-thin under Alex’s hand, the liquid of her fluttering and transparent to Alex’s slightly distant gaze as she listens to the rhythm against her fingertips. The whole tangle of them runs through her veins, unspooling before Alex’s eyes.
“Thanks,” she says when Alex pulls away.
Alex’s eyebrows climb. “For what, taking your pulse?”
“For coming over. For taking care of me. I know I’m a mess when I’m solar flared.”
Alex’s face softens, and a frisson of something warm and electric climbs Kara’s thigh where her hand lands just above her knee. “Of course.” Her hand squeezes, and Alex’s smirk returns. “Besides. At least you stay in one place when you’re solar flared.”
Kara gapes at her in entirely feigned affront. “Rude!”
Alex shrugs somehow smugly and continues taking out her laptop. Kara makes a face at her.
Kara works half-heartedly on emails—she can at least get some work done from home—on her laptop, sitting in a sunbeam, while Alex pecks away at her laptop a cushion and a half over.
Out of the sunbeam. Of course.
Kara sneaks a glance. She sighs. Folds up her leg like she’s just changing positions. Settles herself a little further in Alex’s direction. She closes the distance between them by a little over half a cushion with that move. Better. Her knee is out of the sunbeam, but it’s not like she absorbs a critical amount of solar radiation through her kneecaps. She’s written half an article, but her brain keeps shorting out on the conclusion. And she keeps glancing over at Alex, who hasn’t gotten any closer. Kara looks back at her screen with a huff and sends an email to James instead of writing more.
After a few minutes, Alex shifts slightly, and Kara can sense her scowling at something. She turns and sees Alex’s scowl directed at Kara’s knee, the one that’s closest to her. The sunbeam has retreated up her leg a couple inches.
“Sunlight.” Alex pushes at Kara’s kneecap. Kara gapes in mock offense.
“You poked me!”
Alex’s scowl deepens. “Sunlight.”
“It’s my kneecap!”
“That’s six hundred imrija of surface area you could be using to absorb sunlight and get better!”
“Wow, that’s a lot of knee.” Kara manages to contain her snicker at Alex’s slip. It’s easy, when the Kryptonian pronunciation rolls off Alex’s tongue so easily—if not the right word.
Alex glares at her. “You know what I mean.”
“Imrija is units in three dimensions, imriurja is units in two. And you still don’t need six hundred imriurja, that’s like—” Kara pantomimes wrapping something around herself, “—A blanket.”
Alex huffs and pushes at Kara’s knee again. “Sunlight.”
Kara moves her knee over an inch, leaving some in the shadow. She pats Alex’s arm, pleased by the contact. “Don’t math after a forty-eight hour shift.”
Alex grumbles and narrows her eyes at Kara’s knee. “I’ll math after a forty-eight hour shift if I want.”
“Not in Kryptonian.” Kara laughs. “How are you still awake, even?”
“Drugs.” Alex shoots back. When Kara frowns, unable to tell if Alex is being a grump or serious, Alex sighs. “You know they have bunks there, right?”
“I know, I know.” She did know, but knowing Alex, she’d probably opt for the drugs anyway, given the choice. “Forget me, we should get you a solar panel.”
“You’re my solar panel.” It’s delivered in the driest of tones.
“Aw, that’s sweet of you.”
“Yep, I’m the sweetest. Now get your body in that sunbeam.”
Kara sticks her tongue out. “Make me.”
Kara is well aware she’s being a pain. She also doesn’t feel like stopping. Yet.
Kara puts up her hands in mock surrender. “Alright, fine then. Have it your way.” She turns back to her laptop, and then stares at the screen uncomprehendingly while she types something on the keyboard to look like she’s doing something.
Kara is familiar with the many varieties of Alex-sounds. The sound Alex makes is her short, almost inaudible huff of peak annoyance.
“What are you doing?” Kara mock-whines when Alex leans across her. “I’m working!”
“No you’re not. Why is my coffee over there?”
“Because you forgot to bring it over to your side of the table.”
“Uh-huh. Sure. Give.”
“You get it!”
“That’s what I’m doing!”
“Well, then…” Kara waves her hands in a ”By all means, continue” motion. Alex leans across Kara’s lap to reach the coffee Kara stole, just to be a pain about it. Most of Kara is amused. Part of her is basking in the contact like sunlight.
They’ve learned well from each other.
Alex’s arms are distracting.
Kara’s not blind. She’s well aware of how hard Alex works to keep herself in the condition she’s in. She’s extremely aware of the results.
Every so often, she catches herself staring into space—somehow in Alex’s direction. The small muscles in her forearms flex and glide as her fingers dance over the keyboard. Her t-shirt’s sleeves ride up just a little bit when she reaches for something, for food, for her phone, exposing a few more inches of that hard-earned muscle. Even back in typing position, Alex’s sleeves aren’t quite long enough to hide the bunch and stretch of it under her skin.
Kara wonders if this is what every other girl Alex has been with sees.
She remembers a lot of nights, back at the Danvers’ house after being away at college: Alex coming back with a new edge to the cut of her jaw, something sharp in her smile. She was always good at hiding it away, but—
She could see it in the way Alex interacted with the people around her. Confidence. Awareness. And a scent, sometimes, like…
Like coming away with an omega’s scent on her skin after spending however many days with them. After that amount of time, you can wash them off you, mask them, but something, a shadow, lingers. Something heady and faintly possessive, just by existing, even if it was purely incidental. Even if it was only something Kara picked up by virtue of her enhanced senses.
This one. This one pleased me.
There’s so much more to Alex than that. But…
Of course Alex pleased them.
But it’s hard to stay in her past insecurities when Alex is here, with her. That quick, dark gaze, and those sharp eyes. And the way they soften, when Alex catches her gaze and smiles at her. The whole presence of her, at one end of Kara’s couch.
Alex pauses, turning. Kara realizes she’s brushing her knuckles gently over the back of Alex’s hand. Her skin is warm, and smooth, and soft. Alex would scrunch her face in annoyance at her if she said as much.
Oh. What is she doing?
Alex looks questioning and patient, then amused.
“Hey,” she says, a little rough with the softness of it. A little bit of a hum in her chest. Has her voice always sounded like that, when they’re alone together and Alex is taking care of her?
“Hey,” Kara manages. She pulls her hand away from Alex’s. She can’t quite make herself start typing again.
There’s something hanging over this whole interaction. Kara can’t quite think of what it might be.
Stupid solar flare.
She just feels like she wants to melt away and not ever have to leave here again. This the safest she’s ever felt. Alex always makes her feel safe. But it’s never been quite like this, when the world has disappeared.
Alex is looking at Kara’s hand near hers, that faint, soft smile still playing at her lips. She looks unfettered and relaxed in a way Kara doesn’t usually see her.
Alex moves the hand closest to Kara’s and repeats the same motion Kara was just making: brushing the backs of her knuckles gently over the back of Kara’s hand.
Have the backs of her hands always been so sensitive?
“Yeah,” Kara says, with a little bit of a sigh. “I’m just—“ Words are hard to find. “It’s a lot,” she finally settles on. “Everything feels a little bit different. Takes some getting used to.”
Concern tints Alex’s gaze. Her hand slows. “A lot? Too much?”
Kara shakes her head. “Just different.” She’s keenly aware of the way her heart’s beating, though she doesn’t know why she’s so aware of it right now. But she is. It's beating humming like she’s in rhythm with Alex, in a way even all their training barely hinted was possible.
And Alex—Alex feels like… sunshine. Her soft regard. Her care.
“I’m gonna steal your hand,” Kara warns, interrupting her own train of thought, pulling Alex’s arm closer, their hands back towards her chest. She lets their hands rest on the edge of the table. She’s being… dumb, probably. But she feels weird, and Alex feels safe. She’s allowed to be clingy.
Alex laughs, and lets her. “Okay.”
Kara stays like that, the back of Alex’s hand warm across her stomach, staring stubbornly at the screen, willing her eyes to piece what’s on it together. She has a bigger brain than this, dammit. Her intellect is a feature of her species and upbringing, not her powers.
All she’s able to pay attention to is the steady, still way Alex’s hand and arm feel against her.
Kara sighs and slouches against the back of the couch. Alex, who’s moved closer and is sitting almost next to her, turns, partly because Kara’s being dramatic, and also so that Kara doesn’t tug her arm awkwardly. Kara lets their joined hands land on her thighs.
“Sorry,” Kara apologizes. “Can’t focus. Which is not one of my superpowers, so...” She waves her free hand in the direction of her laptop. “I don’t even know.”
Alex’s thumb strokes the back of Kara’s hand absently. Her lips twist a little. “You’re handling it better than after Red Tornado.”
“Ugh.” Kara raises their joined hands and buries her face against the back of Alex’s. “I was such a mess. But I held it together better! I went to work!”
“Yeah, which is how we learned you get sick,” Alex counters affectionately. “Also, you were stress-texting me recipes before the earthquake.”
“Yeah, and now I’m just annoying you in person.” Kara feels her brow furrow. Alex gets a look that says that Kara’s about to get some mandatory affection if she doesn’t ‘fess up. Dammit.
But there’s nothing to confess. She doesn’t have anything in particular in mind, just this strange untethered feeling and the sunlight of Alex’s presence.
Alex pulls her hand out of Kara’s and sets her laptop aside. “Come here.” She opens her arms.
Kara slides her laptop onto the coffee table, rolling her eyes just to make her complaint known, and greedily snuggles up under Alex’s arm, against her shoulder. Alex leans back against the arm of the couch. Kara closes her eyes.
With her ear pressed to Alex’s shoulder, she can hear Alex’s heartbeat. But more importantly, she can feel the warmth of Alex’s body. Everything feels a little colder, solar flared, and warm things—tea, coffee, Alex—feel warmer, the little flicker of heat in each of them somehow sharper and keener against her skin.
They almost never cuddle like this anymore. But Alex’s body is warm and radiant, reaches down inside her like the sunshine she was lounging in earlier and soothes something she didn’t realize was raw. Kara tucks herself into the embrace and makes herself as still as possible. If Alex doesn’t notice, maybe it won’t end.
“This will pass,” Alex says quietly, voice humming against Kara’s ear. “And until it does, I’ll be here.”
Is it horrible that some part of her hears that and wishes her powers would take a little longer to come back? Just a little. As much as she loves being Supergirl.
When it starts to get dark, they order food from Kara's favorite restaurant and have it delivered. Alex does the calling, Alex pays; Alex doesn’t need to do more than raise an eyebrow in question when Kara protests. She could get used to this, Kara thinks, sitting back against the arm of the couch with one leg extended behind Alex’s back, the other folded up against her body, watching Alex use her business voice on the poor guy on the other end of the phone.
Also, she’s feeling much more like herself, with Alex here, food on the way, and the executive decision to call out from work today and, probably, tomorrow.
“Y’know, I’m fairly certain he doesn’t work for a government agency,” Kara teases gently after Alex hangs up.
Alex blushes a little bit. “Sorry.” She looks down. “I’ll tip him more.”
“You’re being protective.” Kara extends her foot and nudges Alex, who jumps a little and then scowls briefly when Kara’s toe pokes her in a ticklish spot. “You’re fine. It’s cute. You weren’t actually a jerk. Just… businesslike.” Alex goes on a brief face journey at the word “cute”, and settles on a grossed-out scrunch. Kara laughs at her. Alex rolls her eyes, but settles back in. She leans back against the back of the couch, arm up on the back, upper half turned towards Kara.
Kara feels warm, feels something thick in her throat.
“So.” Alex says.
“So,” Kara mimics, partly because she can’t think of any other words at the moment.
“You started it.” Kara sticks out her tongue.
“What are you, two?”
“Yes.” Kara deadpans. Alex scrunches her face again.
“Well, I was gonna ask if you wanted to watch Jessica Jones, but clearly that’s a little too advanced for your maturity level.”
“I wanna watch!” Kara grabs for the remote, playing into it. Alex snatches it out of reach. Kara lunges up and falls back—not too dramatically, Alex’s superior training and Kara’s current lack of powers (and complete lack of motivation) leaving her severely outmatched in this instance.
“What would work?” Alex puzzles. “Cosmos?”
Kara makes a face. “Neil Degrasse Tyson cannot be from this planet. Also, this planet’s understanding of "the cosmos” is kindergarten level.”
“Perfect for you, then.”
“… I walked right into that one.”
“Sure fucking did.”
“Jessica Jones?” Kara puts a little bit of pout into it.
“PBS it is.”
Emptied takeout boxes litter the table next to their abandoned laptops, screensavers spinning. On the TV screen, Jessica Jones is paused on Trish’s face mid-blink, so she looks stoned, and the two of them are laughing at it.
Kara looks at Alex and it clicks, so solid and sudden Kara can almost hear it.
Her sense of smell isn’t completely dulled, even without her powers—it’s sharper than most humans’, and being an omega, it’s a little more forward in her conscious mind than someone who doesn’t belong to one of the polar genera.
So she can smell—everything, it feels like. The way the grease and the spices have made their way into Alex’s scent (faintly like samosa and curry). And the earthy smell of the spices complements the musky Alex-scent that’s starting to bleed through the antiseptic burn of whatever Alex used this morning in her shower, before she came to Kara’s apartment. The lights of National City glitter through the window and they only have the string lights and a couple lamps on, warm and low, apart from the TV. Alex’s hair and the color of her eyes deepen, wine-dark, and her smile seems wider and more private.
And Kara wants to drag Alex in close by the t-shirt and inhale as much as she can of that scent. It’ll have gathered near the collar of her shirt, near her hairline. And this long after the application of a masking agent, there’ll be that heady alpha note, too. It hits her so suddenly and completely it’s almost harder not to reach for her—but she’s aware somehow that it’s been there all along.
She wants Alex. Not in that ambiguously-platonic, far-too-intense-to-be-sisters way that they’ve flirted with over the years, and Kara’s been painfully aware of (she’s not ignorant, or even all that innocent, when it comes down to it, no matter what gross old men in the media or certain shock jocks like to project onto her).
And not that teenage-butterfly feeling, either, or that reluctant, suspicious warmth for this alien girl who was so cold to her at first, so distant and resentful, and then showed her the first glimmers of affection. It’s not even adolescent jealousy of the girls who caught Alex’s attention, or who Alex came home from college to Kara smelling like.
She wants that messy hair curtaining around their faces, and that doofy grin—she wants to wring Alex out until she’s spent and stained with it, like after a fight.
The soft heat of Alex’s mouth, the movement of lips on lips and the slow quiet conversation of tongues and the strength of Alex’s jaw and throat—it’d be the perfect complement to this moment. It’d be easier to breathe with Alex’s chest pressed to hers, and that edgelessness would ebb if she could just dig her fingers into the muscle of Alex’s body. Like in some quiet way, Alex holds sunlight under her skin, and pressing her skin to Alex’s would be as radiant and healing as the sun bed.
Kara is still breathing, but her lungs don’t seem to register it.
This doesn’t happen often. She gets so much of Alex in other ways; what’s just kissing worth, if it means she’d lose her? She’s closer to her like this; and anyways, kissing and sex isn’t the pinnacle of intimacy.
For the most part, that line of reasoning works. Until nights like tonight happen.
And today, Alex showed up and wrapped her presence around Kara’s apartment and Kara and now she’s slipped herself between Kara and the rest of the world. It’s warm and the walls feel close and safe and it smells like food, and family, and home, and her senses are dulled enough that this is all she can be aware of.
And all she can think about, all she can see, is pulling Alex down on top of her and blocking out the world the rest of the way.
It sends the sweetest searing feeling through her.
Alex’s voice penetrates the hazy feeling that’s abruptly settled over Kara’s brain.
Now that the realization is sinking in, it’s almost painful to look at Alex, soft glow and soft eyes, her presence somehow infused into the very air of her apartment. Alex’s presence and love (and the twinkling string lights and the scent of spices) rises up around her like the tide, curls into her lungs and settles in her body.
This is pre-heat.
Not heat; but it could slip into it at any point. It isn’t always so subtle, but she’s been so… off, today. Alex has been so comforting, so…
But it’s too soon. It shouldn’t be happening for another two months. And normally, she starts noticeably ramping up a week or two out, but she hasn’t noticed any symptoms—
Before today. Before she blew out her powers.
“Hey, are you okay?” Alex’s voice snaps Kara out of her head.
Alex’s gaze is no less intense or penetrating because of the almost guileless openness and sincerity of it. Kara can’t hide anything from that gaze, can’t help the way it tugs at her heartstrings—and other things, this close to full-blown heat. It’s gentle and it’s searching and her body responds to it and it’s almost like a body blow, how it draws her muscles tight, how it makes something inside her shiver.
“Yeah,” Kara manages somehow, staring into Alex’s eyes. “Yeah, I just— need to get something from the bathroom. Really quick. Be right back.”
Her legs feel traitorously weak as she gets up and walks away.
Once she’s behind a door, she leans on the sink, mind working.
Now that she’s paying attention, she can see the signs; they were there all along. The emotional rawness, the little bit of disorientation, the wanting to be safe and alone and somewhere quiet with her people, the wanting to be safe and alone and somewhere quiet with someone who would take care of her—
The wanting physical contact and attention, the out-of-nowhere horniness—not that she ever needed a reason to want Alex. But there’s so many interesting ways to be intimate with her, to know her; sex never had to be on the menu. And when it was all she could think about… she just went somewhere Alex wasn’t.
The important thing was that she got to keep Alex. If that meant she didn’t get to be with her in one particular way, then she’d learn to live with it. Alex is worth it. What they have is worth it.
And on top of that, she’s been… flirting?… with Alex all day—not the weirdest thing she’s ever done, and it’s not the first time she’s spent the day prodding Alex just to get a reaction.
If she can just get her emergency suppressants before she really goes into it, though—
Kara swears. The bottle in the mirror cabinet is empty. She must’ve forgotten to get a refill from the DEO—
“Kara?” Kara jumps and swears again when Alex’s voice comes cautious and worried from the other side of the door.
Of course Alex heard her swear.
Kara’s face flames. She’s going to have to tell Alex. Alex was definitely planning on staying overnight, and she might dig in her heels if Kara turns around and asks her to leave with no reason, because—well, that’s Alex. She worries. This whole shindig isn’t just for Kara’s benefit—although it definitely benefits her enough that Alex’s stake is only becoming an issue now.
And—heats (and ruts) happen. They’re a fact of Kara’s life and Alex’s life and enough peoples’ lives here that they run campaigns to normalize talking about them.
But it’s another thing entirely admitting that, flush with physiological and hormonal arousal, to the person her body is reacting to.
And it feels a little embarrassing to be caught off-guard by a heat in front of Alex, especially considering that it’s something of a trope in Earth porn. Even though it’s ridiculous. It’s such a high school thing to do, being in pre-heat the entire day and not even realizing it.
And yet, it’s happening to her.
“Is everything alright?” Alex sounds worried.
“Yeah!” Kara winces. She doesn’t even sound convinced.
“Okay.” Alex doesn’t sound convinced, either. “You sure? You kinda got up and bolted for the bathroom.”
Kara swallows. Behind the door, Alex doesn’t have to know who she’s reacting to, who she wants to stay with her, even though—who else could it be, really. “Um.” She aims for casual, and her voice feels like it pitches unnaturally high in the echo of the bathroom. “Do you know how long it would take to synthesize an emergency dose of my meds?”
Kara hears Alex swear under her breath. There’s a pause, then: “Liz is out. She’s the one who makes them. J’onn wanted the formula kept off the record.”
Kara sags against the counter. “Can you?” she asks, voice shaky. She kicks herself mentally; she knows the answer to that question. “Or—or is there anyone else who knows the formula and has the training—?”
Alex sighs. “They won’t let me onto the base. Heat protocol. I’ve been around you all day.”
She already knew the answer to that, but still, when she hears it, Kara leans her whole weight on the sink, grateful that in this instance, at least, it won’t break.
So much for avoiding unsuppressed heat. Stress-induced heats especially can come on in a matter of hours, and even if they were able to throw together that formula at the base, all it would do is make her sick and miserable once she really went into it. And she may not have much time left.
Actually, judging from the way she’s feeling now, she probably doesn’t have much time left at all.
“Hey.” Alex’s voice comes through the door. “It’s okay. Your body’s probably just freaking out because you blew out your powers. Stress-induced heats are really well-documented in humans. You’re gonna be okay.”
That shouldn’t make her feel better—it’s not like it’s new information—but it does. She told Alex, she revealed this embarrassing and weird thing happening—and Alex just took it in stride.
There’s still a small part of her that’s frustrated by how blithely Alex talks about it—stress-induced heat, well-documented—how she just accepts that Kara is going into heat, of all things, basically in front of her. Part of her wishes it affected Alex more. But all things considered, at least this way, Alex is still here, still supporting her.
“I know.” Kara says.
There’s a brief silence as Alex runs through whatever other options she has. “Is there—is there anything I can get for you? D’you want water? Or ice cream?”
It’s kind of adorable, the uncertainty in Alex’s voice. Calm down, El. “Not really? I’m okay. For now.”
“Okay.” A longer silence. “D’you—d’you want me to leave? Or—do you have someone else you want to call? I can wait til they get here, and then—“
“No.” Kara says before she has a chance to consider how that might sound. “I mean— Not yet. I just…” Not yet. That’s good, right? She doesn’t want to be left alone; normal. She wants support; normal. Just like things should be. Normal. Her mind is still re-evaluating the last twelve hours; trying to figure out how much time she has left, how bad it’s going to get. She hasn’t had an unsuppressed heat… ever. General suppressants and estrus blockers are right up there with coffee for most teenage humans of either polar genera, and between Kal-El and the Danvers, she was pretty covered on the chemical front.
With such a compressed pre-heat, she can’t tell.
“It’s bad.” She admits without meaning to, voice soft.
There’s a beat, and Kara hopes that Alex didn’t hear that last bit. “It’s bad?” Alex’s voice sounds worried. So much for not hearing.
Kara nods, and then when she realizes Alex can’t see her— “Yeah.”
The brief panic and embarrassment pushed everything else back, but Kara can feel it all from before, still there—the sense that she’s safe here, this is the safest place in the world, wherever Alex is. The skin-hunger, the way her hands itch to run themselves under Alex’s t-shirt along her skin, up her back, bury themselves in her hair—
There’s a longer silence.
“Hey.” Alex’s voice is softer, now, and it pulls Kara towards the door, fighting the ridiculous urge to lean up against it. To see if the door is warm where Alex might be touching it.
She smoothes her palm over the wood of the door, biting her tongue and shaking her head whenever she finds what seems like a patch of suspiciously warm wood. Eventually, she gives in and leans her forehead against the door and breathes. She can’t really smell the difference—Alex is already all over her apartment—but on the other side of that door, Alex is there. And on her side of the door, Kara can melt into that a little bit. Into the scent that soothes the ache.
She’s waiting for Alex to finish her thought, but after a bit, she realizes Alex hasn’t said anything. “What’s up?”
There’s a moment of hesitation, then— “Can you— Would it be okay if you opened the door? I just want to be sure you’re okay.”
Kara’s throat closes, but not with panic. Alex sounds so sincere, and raw, and Kara can hardly stand to hear her sound like that without pulling her in and holding her. The embarrassment has ebbed now, and her emotions are a tangle of that and trust and want and hesitation—sticky and messy, and Alex is here with her, still. Wants to look at her. Her self-consciousness flares at that, finally. Her hand lands on the doorknob, emotions warring.
“I get it if you don’t want to, I just—“
Kara turns the knob and moves to the opening side of the door, cracking it just enough to frame her face and a slice of her body, not sure if she wants to open it all the way.
Alex is there, right there, like she was right up against the door, too. Face surprised, like she didn’t expect Kara to open it. And Kara’s well aware a lot of her reaction is hormones, but also, hormones can’t make Alex look this beautiful. They don’t make the twinkling strand lights glimmer on Alex’s eyes, and they can’t imagine the mix of soft concern and surprise shining in them, or the way that Alex stops talking abruptly, freezes, even seems to catch her breath a bit.
They just make it all seem to last forever.
Alex’s eyes flicker over Kara, and Kara thinks she should want to hide from that gaze—but a larger part of her relaxes into it. Unfurls, warm and seen and safe and—
“Hey.” Alex lets out after a moment, smiling tentatively.
“Hey.” Kara can’t help but try to smile back. Her heart is beating fast.
“You’re in one piece.” Alex relaxes noticeably, smile turning much less tentative and much more wry, eyes amused in their understated way. Kara feels the affection in them like some kind of soft luxuriant cloth being dragged over her skin.
Kara feels herself relax into a real smile in return. “So far.”
“How’re you feeling?”
Kara shrugs. “Foggy. Mostly.” Ignoring literally all of the hour that led up to her realizing what was going on.
Alex nods, and Kara tries not to feel weird about the understanding in Alex’s gaze. This isn’t something they’ve ever talked about, apart from conversations about Kara’s “meds”. Certainly never about how it felt. “It’s that way, huh?”
Kara nods. Catches herself. “It… hasn’t really started yet.” She says, something contrary, the need to surprise Alex, rattle her, flaring briefly. For some reason, a little bit annoyingly, Alex seems to roll with that, too, nodding along. “I’m sorry. This is probably weird.”
“Hey, no.” Alex reaches out—and then stops short, her hand coming to rest on the door frame a few inches from where Kara’s shoulder leans into it. “It’s not weird, I promise.” She looks so earnest that Kara can’t help but mirror it back, a little, relaxing a little more, in spite of the fact that it maybe should’ve been weird that Alex wasn’t weirded out at all. But all Kara can think is that her relaxing seems to help Alex relax a little more, too. “Come on. Let’s get you settled on the couch. We’ll figure out our next steps.”
For some reason, that’s ridiculously endearing, in spite of sounding like a post-op “lessons learned” breakdown. It also gets her to slip out from behind the door, which feels oddly vulnerable, even though it’s not her biceps that heat is going to mess with.
“’We?’” She asks, crossing her arms over her chest reflexively with a little smile. Alex’s eyes widen briefly, until she catches Kara’s smile, and then she relaxes.
“Yeah. At least until you kick me out.” That smile fades a tiny bit, and then firms over with determination. “I’m not leaving you in the lurch.” Uncertainty flickers across her face. “Unless you want me to.”
“No.” Kara’s reaction is immediate and embarrassing (again). A blush flares in her cheeks. “I mean—Not yet.” Alex’s face relaxes into a smile at her words, though, and Kara’s chest feels light.
Alex holds out one hand like she's offering to walk Kara over to the couch, and Kara finds herself uncrossing her arms and accepting before she even means to. Alex's hand is warm and dry in hers—sweaty palms are one of her least favorite parts of being depowered—and she's allowed, she's allowed to take comfort from this, heat is distress, and it's meant to be comforted through touch. Even non-sexual touch can help quiet a heat, with the right people.
It's okay to be comforted by this.
Alex tugs her over to the couch, and Kara’s caught in a quiet struggle—basking in the fact that apparently, her and Alex are still alright, Alex hasn’t run away screaming yet when faced with the fact that Kara has hormones and a sex drive that’s sometimes pretty high. It hits close to something vital in her, makes the heat burn a little hotter—and has her reminding herself that being matter-of-fact about a medical issue (one that Alex deals with herself) doesn’t mean that Alex wants to engage with that part of her.
And maybe the reason why Alex is so relaxed at all is because she doesn’t see Kara’s want. Doesn’t think of it. Doesn’t think of her that way. It hurts the way it hurt before, all those years of closeness and Alex chose… someone else? She always seemed to. It had Kara doubting everything she felt, all her instincts, her own emotions. It feels so real, in moments like this. So pressing and obvious. How can Alex sit inches away from her, or hold her hand, and not feel the ache that suffuses Kara's whole being?
Alex is careful and attentive, keeping at least half an eye on Kara as she leads her back to the couch, their fingers laced together, arms loose between them. Every so often, she’ll check back all the way, and her smile will brighten again for a moment, warm and maybe even a little encouraging. It’s more endearing than anyone has any right to be. It takes all the ache out of Kara’s thought process. She can’t imagine being anywhere else, can’t imagine Alex leaving. And she’s going to have to ask her, probably soon.
Or she could try, part of her suggests. She could let her heat set in and let Alex see she’d invited her in, let her sense the bottomless want her body keeps tucked away until moments like this one. She could see if Alex would melt for her.
They’re back on the couch, where they started this adventure. Alex is sitting facing her, and Kara feels suddenly naked again, Kara reaches for the blanket near Alex’s arm on the back of the couch. Alex realizes what she’s doing and reaches to help, fumbling a little when they aren’t quite coordinated, laughing. Kara pulls the blanket around herself, and Alex watches with a look that’s far too sympathetic.
Kara nods. Surprisingly (not surprisingly, actually; they don’t call it “heat” for no reason), that’s not an exaggeration. She hadn’t realized the heat-typical low fever was setting in. She is chilled.
Alex’s hand moves toward her, redirects, lands on the back of the couch. “I’d check your vitals, but… we know what the issue is.” She seems apologetic, fingers tapping lightly on the back of the couch.
Kara shrugs. “I mean, if it makes you feel better.” She says, a little dryly, and okay, that’s maybe not the most subtle thing she could’ve said, but it’s not like Alex will pick up on it. Alex ducks her head with a laugh, hair falling in her face. She’s not sure, but she’d bet Alex is flushing slightly.
Would she do the same if Kara slid into her lap?
The fingertips of Alex’s free hand rest with practiced precision against the pulse point in her wrist. Something inside Kara startles. Alex is looking down, away, somewhere between where Kara sits on the couch and the floor. There’s a slightly self-conscious openness to her face, which is probably why she’s still ducking her hair in front of it. Kara’s heartbeat pulses against Alex’s fingers, rises between her legs. She feels about as transparent as a microscope slide. Absolutely no part of her wants it to stop.
“Your heart rate is pretty elevated.” Alex is frowning at the floor. She looks at Kara, and her eyes are back to their soft concern. “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave?”
“Not yet.” There’s no reason for her to be asking this, but that’s apparently not going to stop her now. “I’m not… ready to be alone, yet.”
“Of course.” The hand at her pulse point falls to the couch, about six inches short of Kara’s knee. “Is there anything else I can do? To help you feel better. Before I go.”
Kara’s body has a sizable list of ideas, but she tamps those down.
Alex has already found herself a task, though. “The boxes.” And before Kara can object and ask her to stay on the couch staring deeply into her eyes—you know, like a very platonic friendship—Alex is on her feet, gathering up the mostly-empty takeout boxes (Alex’s aren’t; Alex eats like a bird).
Once she’s finished with that, Alex comes back sits down. “Is there anything else I can do?” Her eyes look so earnest in the low light.
“You didn’t have to do that, you know. I can clean my own apartment.” Kara smiles at her. Alex ducks her head again.
“Yeah, but then what would you need me around for?” Alex smiles at her crookedly.
“Lots of things.” Sneaks out before she can think the implications of that one through. “—Whose food would I steal?”
Alex’s crooked smile collapses into laughter. “I’m sure you’d find someone.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t call them today, did I?” Alex’s laughter quiets, eyes going a little wide for a moment, and Kara thinks maybe she did it, maybe she was too obvious—and then Alex smiles at her, one of her small soft smiles. Kara can’t help but smile back, relieved and warmed. On impulse, she reaches for Alex’s hand on the couch between them. Alex humors her.
She’s quiet for a moment, and Kara has to bite her lip as Alex absently rubs her thumb in circles over the back of her hand, like she’s reassuring herself that Kara won’t just disappear in the next moment.
Under no other circumstances would a simple touch on the back of her hand make her lips hum, or her mouth ache for a kiss.
“Do you have someone you can call? Sorry, I know that’s none of my business, just— I can wait with you until they get here—“
“No, it’s fine, it’s totally reasonable—I don’t.” Kara freezes internally. She didn’t intend to say that. She wasn’t really thinking about it. Or ready to admit it.
And now it’s just… out there, in the sudden awkward silence while Alex bites her lip and looks worried and Kara desperately tries to figure out how to play this. That was both of their chances to make a clean, not-awkward exit.
“Oh.” Alex says. “Okay.” Her voice is a little soft, but it’s still the same gentle steady tone she’s held all evening. A faint frown creases her brow, and Kara’s given up trying to think for the moment, awash in something that isn’t quite managing to be embarrassment.
“Do you want any food? I could run down to the corner mart if there was something you—” Alex abruptly looks over at her backpack. “Oh. Actually—” Alex gets up and rummages through the pack. After a moment, she pulls out a Gatorade bottle full of a deep, bright red liquid that Kara knows for a fact is probably not Gatorade. “It’s the DEO formula.”
“Oh, god, yes.” Kara snatches the bottle immediately. “You’re a godsend.” It’s not like she just has Gatorade lying around her apartment.
Alex grins at her. “Can’t have you getting dehydrated when you’re solar flared.” She rubs her palms on the thighs of her sweats, pleased with herself but already looking for her next task. She spies it, and heads around the couch to check the windows, close the drapes—good for human omegas with light sensitivity, and good for superheroes’ privacy when they’re vulnerable, Kara supposes.
She’d like to say her body doesn’t propose some prurient ideas—Alex is checking the windows in preparation to leave, not to make sure that they won’t be disturbed—but it absolutely does. She bites the inside of her cheek and tries not to pay attention to the thought.
It’s just what Alex always does. A body between Kara and everyone else. A reassuring hand subtly extended between them in a tense situation. A sharp eye and deadly skill covering all her weak points, her blind spots. Two girls, holding hands, facing into the uncertain future.
And when Kara’s like this, it’s almost as intimate as touch. Soothing, easing her deeper. Fingerprints of concern all over her apartment. Of trust.
It's not Alex's fault Kara reacts like this.
After a bit, Alex comes back, standing in front of her, looking open and at her disposal.
Kara doesn’t know why her body recognizes this, or why now. But staring at each other in the low light, seeing Alex’s posture and her expression, unselfconscious and soft, something unfolds deep inside her. Settles, light and tentative at first, but deepening, coalescing.
Kara swallows. It’s just Alex. Alex is immune to her.
Is Alex even going to hug her before she leaves? It’s a surprisingly painful question, all things considered. She looks down at her lap, tugging on her sweats, biting her lip as a new ache blossoms in her chest. Will Alex even touch her? Is she scared to? Embarrassed? Grossed out?
That’s a stupid question; Alex was just touching her. On the hand, her mind helpfully supplies.
Alex nods again. “And you have—“ She turns around and looks at the inside of Kara’s door. “—Locks. Good. Locks look good. And windows—“ She keeps picking up steam. “—And water—“
“Alex.” Alex stops and turns back to Kara, blushing, looking embarrassed in the mostly-dark room and the city light falling across her face through the curtains that are still open. Kara’s chest feels like it might explode. “You sound like me.” Kara manages a small, self-deprecating smile.
Alex lets out her breath in a laugh. “Sorry.” She runs one hand through her hair, looking down at the floor, glancing over at the kitchen. “I don’t like leaving you alone with this.” Alex hesitates in the middle of her sentence, like she’s only hearing herself after the words leave her mouth. Her cheeks darken slightly. Kara can feel a flush rising in her cheeks, too. Alex looks back at her, chewing on her lower lip. “You sure there’s nothing else I can do? Help you get comfortable?”
It’s the same question she’s been asking for the last fifteen minutes. But something about it—the hesitation, the blush—makes her wet, stirs something like hunger in her.
Fuck. She’s about to go over the edge.
Kara shrugs helplessly. “I mean, I’ll be fine.” I guess, she almost says, but doesn’t; her tone was anything but “fine”. And she won’t be fine, but it’ll pass. She can’t make herself move towards good-bye.
There’s a particular timelessness that heat has—it’s a trick of brain chemistry, Kara knows, but in the middle of it, it feels like it’ll never end. Alone, it feels like she’s been put on pause while everything else continues around her, and she knows—
Not just that everything will be different, that everything could be gone, when she finally returns—Winn always jokes that she has the worst FOMO, and it’s true, but it’s not even because she’s a millennial—but because it’s like she never left that place at all.
It’d be a bit frivolous to say out loud, but—she’s always alone. She’ll always be alone. Earth poetry is so full of effusive descriptions of omegas and alphas longing for each other—every fiber of my being cries out, I hunger for you, clichés like that—but Kara is always hungry. Kara is always bereaved. Somewhere, where time stands still; no matter how much she moves on in real time. And she has, for the most part. But heat is sometimes like being split open, and she has a particular reaction to watching people leave, or having to watch herself leave them.
And once Alex leaves, she’ll be left knowing she let someone go who cares for her this much; the only person who cares for her this much, and who knows her as well. She’ll still feel Alex receding from her life, down the stairs, down the street. She’ll close her eyes and remember how she was so close to Alex, she could reach out and touch her. Taste her, if she wanted. She’ll feel it burned into her bones, the way Alex looked at her, so soft; how she knows what Kara wants, but she’s unerringly gentle about it, when it’s just the two of them. Like this truth she knows is there, has been so thrilled to catch a glimpse of, will disappear, Alex will button up that part of herself and maybe Kara will see it again—but maybe she won’t. It’ll be a return to that self-doubt that today has eased.
And she’ll be stuck, alone, remembering how that gentleness moves her, when she feels like she does during heat. How heat with Alex makes sense, feels like a natural extension of the intimacy they already share. She wants to pull Alex deeper, where she belongs. She’s so sure of it.
But if Alex belongs there, why is she leaving?
And sitting here like this, with Alex so close, so focused on her—it feels as intimate as any other moment they’ve shared, but more, like they’re cradled right against each other, breathing together. Like they’re not across the room from each other at all, not separated by culture and choice and duty and the simple, inevitable fact that in the face of everything that Kara feels, Alex… doesn’t.
Alex gives her a sad, lopsided smile. Kara tries to put on a brave face back. “Hug?” She asks, barely a voice. Alex nods vigorously. That’s nice, at least.
Kara stands up to move around, determined to get as much physical comfort out of this as Alex will allow. Alex walks around the couch.
When Alex’s arms are securely around her, Kara’s whole body breathes a sigh of relief, there’s a feeling running under her skin like something blossoming open and electric at the same time, and Alex is warm, so warm. She smells like today—like home.
Alex sighs and tightens her arms around Kara, hands tightening in their turn, and Kara’s body kindles under Alex’s hands, comes alive under her touch, a slow heat climbing her body from where Alex’s hands spread over her skin, Alex’s touch changing her inside and out, and Kara has to bite down on her lip to keep her reaction inside. Heat floods her core, and she feels herself swell against the fabric of her underwear. It’s classic heat—instead of the usual brief swelling feeling of arousal, this feels like it goes on for longer, and when it ceases, her core feels exquisitely sensitive, tissue at the surface and deep inside her so flush with blood her body feels tight. It’s almost unbearable to bring her legs together too tightly. Between them, her lips are so swollen even the inner ones petal apart, and Kara doesn’t even have to move to feel her arousal beginning to slick them.
This is right; everything in her body screams it’s right. How can she be hallucinating the way Alex’s body feels against her? Because that’s what this has to be: How open Alex feels—like Kara could fall into her, she’s so open—or the angle of Alex’s hips, or the full-frontal contact, like Alex isn’t only not grossed out by Kara, she… wants Kara? But—it can’t be.
Except it is. And Kara hears an audible catch in Alex’s breath.
Alex’s hands tighten on Kara again instead of pushing her away, one of them sliding into the curve of her lower back, and Kara can’t help the tilt of her hips or the arch of her back that presses her tighter against Alex’s hips, barely holds in the sound that catches in her chest. Her legs hold, but they feel leaden and useless. The only thing Kara is aware of other than Alex is the burning-bright liquid feeling in her core, how close all that need is to Alex.
Kara burrows her face against Alex’s shoulder, both to hide her reaction—though, hiding her face won’t hide her reaction—and to breathe in more of Alex. She manages not to nuzzle into Alex’s neck, but her jerky inhale directly against Alex’s clothed shoulder floods her senses.
Kara realizes Alex has gone tense, too—not pulling away, though. If anything, the hand in the curve of Kara’s back is pressing harder. Alex’s forehead rests against Kara’s shoulder, and Kara realizes that Alex is breathing just as hard as she is.
Distantly, there are alarm bells going off; this was not what Kara meant by “hug”. But all she can feel is Alex: Wiry heat, the sound of her roughened breathing, a fine tension in the hips pressed against hers that makes Kara’s stomach clench, that soaks her again.
Just touching Alex, being this close to her, surrounded by her arms and her scent, is pushing Kara over the edge. She’s sliding, sliding, and it was bound to happen anyways, but this… she’s never gone all the way over with someone she felt this with before. Kara can’t muster up any reason or alarm or desire to stop. Just memorize every curve and angle of Alex’s body where it touches hers. Just feel herself respond. Just feel her body open itself up to… this.
“Kara.” Alex breathes into the curve of her neck—no alarm that Kara can hear, and no anger, just overcome, and the feeling of Alex’s breath over her skin makes Kara shiver, makes her realize her clothes, soft enough for pre-heat, are starting to feel ill-fitting and even scratchy. The soft-rough chafe of Alex’s lips—that would fit better.
It’s enough to get Kara to pull back, though, fighting through the haze to raise her head and lean it against the side of Alex’s head in acknowledgement; otherwise, she’s ragged and nonverbal. Alex’s head presses against hers, maybe reassurance, maybe Alex trying to steady herself. Alex’s hips rock slowly into Kara’s, and Kara chokes back a whimper. Her underwear is ruined. How she’s still on her feet, Kara has no idea.
Slowly, they drag themselves back until their foreheads are leaned together, Kara’s arms around Alex’s shoulders. There’s just the sound of their breathing. Kara can hardly believe this is happening. But the way it all feels, the way her heart pounds, the thrill of running her fingers through Alex’s hair, the press of Alex’s body, something solid and fragile at once, something sacred and overwhelming and heartbreaking, is too vivid to be anything else.
“What are we doing?” Alex breathes, almost wondering, hot against Kara’s lips. Kara can't shape words to respond. Alex’s mouth is so near, the little movements of Alex’s head bringing her closer and taking her away again. Kara is caught on them.
But Alex’s chin tilts up, more than the little steadying or reassuring movements from a moment ago. It feels significant, weighted, stomach-plummeting like the feeling of plunging up and into the sky, and her lips feel almost magnetic, and Kara can’t not meet them.
Alex’s lips are soft, tentative at first, but Kara ruins that moment—that tentativeness? From Alex? Is a feeling Kara wants to savor—by melting into the kiss. And surprisingly, that doesn’t ruin the kiss completely. Alex meets her, Alex hears her—when Kara’s mouth opens, the desperation of heat getting the better of her, Alex’s lips part, too.
“Sorry.” Kara breathes when she pulls away, leaning their foreheads back together. She’s not sorry; but maybe she should be. She fights to get some control over her body. It’s hard, with Alex so close, so real. It’s hard, when nothing in her body wants to be sorry, when every bit of her feels like it wants to celebrate being this close.
Alex’s arms tighten, and the tension Kara’s gathered melts away. “‘Sokay.” There’s a pause, then. “Are we okay?”
“Yes.” Kara needs her to know that; no matter what. “I want you.” It sneaks out, barely audible. The thing that’s been at the front of her mind all day, at the back of it, everywhere she turns. It’s this huge, heavy weight that’s been with her for—years, easily.
And it barely makes it out. The words don’t seem to encompass it; but it’s out.
Alex laughs, finally, a soft puff. “I can see that.” She presses her forehead affectionately into Kara’s.
The rush of release that runs through Kara's body is almost sweet enough to be orgasmic. In another setting, maybe, she would cry from the relief of it. But right now, her mouth is humming with her pulse and the sense-memory of that kiss, and she's sliding, sliding into this. Her grip on Alex is the only anchor.
“No—I want you.” It seems easier to say the second time—but then Kara feels herself trembling, fine and unmistakable, and her chest feels like it’s getting smaller and smaller, closing on her lungs. It almost feels like she’s gasping for air.
Alex’s arms close around her again, and this time, the want takes a backseat to the way being close to Alex, burying her face in Alex’s shoulder and neck, warms her. Stills her.
And then Alex is pulling back to kiss her again, and Kara is trembling again, but for a different reason.
“Have me.” Alex says when she pulls away. Not “Okay”, not “Ew, get away”, or anything else. She bumps her nose against Kara’s. “I’ve got you.”
Hazily, Kara fights to get her one thought out, the one that’s been haunting her ever since she realized what was happening. “I’ve been flooding you.”
One of Alex’s hands is tilting her chin up, and Kara gets a good look at Alex’s face, wrecked with want, flushed hot with the beginnings of sympathetic rut, pupils blown, eyelids heavy and eyes full of something that Kara could swear she’s seen there before, but…
“Wouldn’t have made a difference.” Alex promises.
Maybe under different circumstances, Alex would’ve made the statement wry, self-deprecating. But it isn’t different circumstances, and Alex doesn’t. What’s left of Kara’s self-restraint gives with barely a whisper. She’ll think later about whether Alex meant it the way it sounds like she does, and overanalyze what she thought she saw in her eyes and what she smelled in Alex’s scent. She can’t doubt what she sees in front of her right now, and it’s all she needs to stop fighting for the surface and dive back in, swaying into Alex, letting Alex take more of her weight—letting her chin tilt slightly the way it seems to want to, inexorable, so she can recapture Alex’s lips.
Because it’s plain in the way Alex’s mouth finds hers. There’s no bitter tinge of sacrifice to it. And she’s right; Kara knows she’s right. She knows she’s right because everywhere Alex’s body touches hers feels like coming home. Kara lets out a gasping sound when Alex pulls her sharply close again, can’t hold it in and doesn’t bother to try.
Alex’s arms tighten reflexively, and Kara feels the growl in Alex’s chest as much as she hears it, feels the hot thrill run through her, feels herself melt even more in response, the flimsy soaked cotton stretched taut over her sex clinging, tugging, hears a soft moan leave her throat. She needs this, needs the pressure of Alex’s body, the warmth of her skin, the tight cinch of her arms. Alex’s teeth scrape her lower lip on a slow draw away, a gentle drag that belies the curl of her lip that Kara can feel, just out of reach, and the ragged edge to Alex’s breathing.
And then Kara feels the heat and hardness swelling against the inside of her thigh and oh, god.
Kara feels dizzy with it; all of the things she feels, finally able to show them all to Alex. But there’s no coherency to them. All she can do is cling to Alex, caught because so much of her heats—alone or partnered—have felt like her body was like an arrow, seeking something inexorably, being hungry for something she couldn’t find, or only temporarily, but her hunger was always more. And now, it’s like she’s found her home, and she has no idea what to do. She’s just coming apart. She has her hands in Alex’s hair, digging into her scalp. She’s kissing Alex, messy and desperate. She’s tired of standing, but she can’t make herself move in a direction that might move her away from Alex. She wants to feel Alex’s hair, her skin, her lips, her knot, and she can’t pick one and go with it.
Alex pulls back, hands sliding easily down Kara’s arms, slowing her pace. Kara blinks her eyes open, bereft, and she finds Alex looking at her, eyes dark and almost feral. Kara feels her breath hitch; she’s never seen this look from Alex before. Alex almost never forgets herself, but Kara can feel Alex’s whole attention trained on her, a focus that surrounds her, makes the rest of it all fade away. It’s not so different from some moments earlier, she thinks.
“I’ve got you.” Alex breathes. “I’ve got you. Always. Okay? Let me take care of you.”
It’s all Kara can do to nod.
Alex’s hands drop to her waist, and she maneuvers them gently back. Kara follows, heedless of what or where. The backs of her calves meet the edge of something. Alex keeps guiding. Kara scrambles back and finds herself on the couch, and caves gratefully, back hitting the cushions. She’s treated to the view of Alex looming over her, and between the rise of the back of the couch to one side and Alex—this is enough. This is the world she wants. She reaches for Alex. Alex obliges, leaning down and pressing the line of her body into Kara’s, warm like sunlight. Kara arches up into her, unable to do anything but soak Alex in, hands pushing up Alex’s shirt. Alex strips it off. Kara starts to yank up her own shirt, desperate to get more of Alex’s skin against hers, and get the now-scratchy fabric out of the way—and Alex’s hands stop her.
Kara looks up at Alex, and sees something uncertain and vulnerable there, and it’s beautiful and fragile and Kara’s core is aching and swollen and completely untouched, and she’s going to go mad if she can’t get more of Alex’s skin—can’t get more of that sinew and that scent moving against her. Kara’s brain is fogged with it. Whatever Alex is planning on doing—
Alex leans down again, and moves down Kara’s body—frustratingly further away, at first. Her upper body settles between Kara’s legs, her face up around Kara’s stomach, wearing a soft, longing look, and Kara’s breath stops.
When Alex pushes up her shirt, she ducks her head down and follows the hem with her mouth: In the hollow of Kara’s hip, making Kara squirm and tighten and get even wetter; teeth nipping at her stomach, gentle at first and then with a slight sting that Kara’s never felt before and can’t process for the heavy leaden feeling between her legs, under Alex’s chest, right where her shoulders spread Kara apart. She cants her hips desperately, an incoherent frustrated sound leaving her body. She can’t think or feel anything around this feeling in her core, being empty and full at the same time, close and tight but untouched—
“Alex,” Kara gasps, “Alex, please.” Alex looks up at her, something dark and possessive in her eyes. “Please. Touch me.”
Alex tugs Kara’s sweats down over her hips, and Kara helps the best she can, going dizzy when Alex’s nostrils flare and her head dips towards Kara’s sex for a moment—and she seems to remember she’s midway through stripping Kara out of her pants, and Kara has to wait what feels like an eternity before Alex is back between her legs, touching her experimentally, looking at her, tasting her.
Alex slides one finger inside her, then two, looking at Kara’s face to check her reaction—but Kara’s vision blurs and her head falls back once Alex’s fingers are inside her, soothing that ache inside her, tracing the texture and shape of her. Maybe if she wasn’t in heat it would feel more awkward, but as things are, it has Kara trembling. Her legs close around Alex’s upper body. “Alex.”
Alex’s response is an inarticulate growl.
One-handed is an awkward way to get someone’s shirt off, but Kara helps, and Alex settles into a gentle, rocking rhythm with her hand that soothes most of the ache, working her way up Kara’s body with her mouth and her free hand.
Eventually, though, Kara reaches a peak of both frustration and pleasure, and the heel of Alex’s hand comes to rest against her clit while her fingers press slow and patient on the place inside her that makes her feel like everything inside her is opening up, and up, and up, and—
“What—“ Alex looks up at her in amazement. Kara feels the outsized scrape of Alex’s knuckles against a rough ring of tissue at her entrance that wasn’t nearly so pronounced a few moments ago.
She doesn’t know, Kara realizes, floored on some level that Alex doesn’t know Kryptonian reproductive anatomy—which, now that she thinks about it, is kind of an odd assumption, but she just assumed that Alex’s knowledge was comprehensive because, well, Alex.
Kara knows she has a limited window before Alex might not be able to get her knot in comfortably. Abruptly, she realizes that they haven’t talked about the differences between Kryptonian and human heat, and apparently Alex didn’t read up on the Kryptonian tie.
“Alex, now.” Kara hopes her tone and her look conveys the seriousness of the moment. Alex’s face sobers, and she pushes up, reaching down with one hand.
Kara doesn’t get a clear look at Alex’s knot before she’s pushing into her—but it’s immediately clear that Alex’s knot is thicker than a Kryptonian’s would be, partly to make up for the fact that omegas don’t tie on Earth. Which, if Kara had had a shred of her wits about her, she would’ve warned Alex about. But, well—she doesn’t. Have her wits about her, that is.
Alex swears and Kara arches and spreads herself for her. There’s give in the delicate network of erectile tissue, of course, and saying she’s well-lubricated is the understatement of the millennium—but the give at her entrance is limited, more limited than past it. Still, Alex fits. It’s tight, though. Kara brings her legs up to wrap around Alex, pushing at her sweatpants with her ankles.
Alex is panting slightly. “What is that?” She gasps.
“Anatomy.” Kara manages, unhelpfully. She tries again. “Kryptonian anatomy.” She can remember the word, sort of; but she can’t think straight enough to say it.
“It’s— fuck, Kara— it’s so— so tight.” Alex makes a face that’s half-disgusted at herself, probably for managing to quote every A/O porno ever, and half-slack with pleasure.
“Try it with your knot.” It sounds nonsensical the moment it leaves Kara’s lips, and it comes out frustratingly slurred, but still, Alex groans, her hips caving for a moment. Kara can’t feel anything but the stretch of her, the pulse of Alex’s body, the hardness of her pressing in, the curve of her head. Kara rocks her hips, trying to feel Alex more, feel the fullness right now, like this. Alex pulses inside her. Kara feels herself tighten on the head of Alex’s knot, the rough-soft tissue of the tie at her entrance full and snug and straining contentedly with Alex’s knot. Kara feels her muscles start to come unstrung, a little, her body confident it’s caught its target.
Alex can’t move much at first, so she mostly rocks, rutting into Kara’s core. It sends pleasure spiraling through all of the interconnected nerves inside Kara, engorged flesh responding to the little shifts in pressure, tug out and push in, and Kara feels her orgasm building again, fast, in spite of the fact that she can’t feel the pressure of a knot swollen inside her.
Kara comes again, a rush of heat and wetness, clutching at Alex’s shoulders, completely silent as Alex’s teeth skate over her bared pulse, her neck arched sharply. She wonders briefly if maybe she’s dead, or this is some kind of dream, because she’s in heat, at her most vulnerable, and Alex is in it with her, the one person her body always wants, the one person she always wants, and knowing that the fingers just inside her were Alex’s, that the knot there is Alex’s... it makes her tremble, and shudder, and want to cry out. The feeling is bigger than she has words for.
Alex lets out a sharp, helpless sound, and her hands fist in the cushions, pushing half-up like she’s trying to push back. She stays, though, and a heartbeat later, Kara feels the stretch of Alex’s knot swelling inside her.
Kara sees white.
And like the rest of this whole Kryptonian-human paradigm, it’s wider than her body expects—almost painfully. Enough for her mind to go blank, for her to give up and cling to Alex’s back and shoulders, pulling her close, nails slipping and skidding across Alex’s back. And Alex’s knot swells further.
“Kara— fuck, Kara, that’s so— I’ve never— holy— Kara.” The base of Alex’s knot tugs at her entrance, at the tie, and sends ripples of pleasure through her core, drawing a groan out of Kara’s throat and a whimper from Alex, Kara sure and knowing on an animal level that Alex can’t go, Kara has her tied; igniting the ambiguously-intense stretch of her body around Alex’s knot, where the swell of it holds her so open, so full, and it’s unbearable how good it feels, tensing the straining muscles that stretch around her, highlighting the shape of the whole length of her inside Kara. Alex’s knot jumps inside Kara, throbs, and Alex buries her face in Kara’s neck with a groan, her hips pushing sharply as she starts to come.
Kara didn’t think she could take this much without it hurting—and while she’s depowered, on top of that. But she’s coming again, heavy and hungry and throbbing, every inch of her working the length of Alex’s knot.
And honestly—the number of times she’s imagined exactly this scenario: Alex, somehow miraculously unaware of basic Kryptonian reproductive anatomy, encountering one of the few outward physical differences between humans and Kryptonians, and being brought to her knees by it, overcome—and, in her more wistful fantasies, ruined for anything else. But Kara’s too stupid on the feeling of being stretched too full to really properly memorize any of Alex’s reactions. Too lost in the bone-deep satisfaction of feeling Alex’s body and her body locked together, Alex’s heartbeat and the pulses of her orgasm right next to the echoes of Kara’s own. Like one body in two halves.
Kara doesn’t know how long they’re laying there, sharing heartbeats, Alex pulsing inside her, filling her up. Kara’s fingers drag lazily over Alex’s back. She can hardly process the fact that the feeling inside her is Alex, let alone feel panic about it. Alex is similarly quiet, nuzzling into her neck. Kara lets her head drop to one side, baring it again. Alex bites at it, but only halfhearted, messy nibbles. Whatever she’s feeling, it seems about as disorganized as Kara feels. Still, it has Kara floating for a long time, her body a long line from where Alex fills her up to where Alex’s mouth scrapes at her neck; her back and neck arched without thinking, instinctively bared for Alex, exposing all of her need, her trust, for Alex to fall on like rain.
For what feels like a long time, Kara can’t speak. She can’t even think, much less express words out loud.
In the end, it’s Alex who breaks the silence.
“I’m fucking… stoned. I’ve never felt like this, this isn’t… you’re incredible.” Alex’s words are blurry with effort.
“You mean the tie?” Kara threads her fingers through Alex’s hair affectionately. Her voice sounds unwontedly possessive and low in her ears, for something so obviously leading and pedantic—and surprisingly coherent, for how she feels. Alex shivers, though, and Kara feels something inside her weaken.
“‘S that what it’s called?”
Kara hums an affirmative, dipping her head to kiss the closest part of Alex’s head. "Rimekhtvra." She murmurs against the side of Alex's head lazily. A warm sense of pride and contentment spreads through her.
She did it. Alex sounds absolutely wrecked. I’ve never felt like this. That’s going straight to her head, for sure.
But it also settles warm in her stomach, hot where she has Alex tied. Alex feels good. She made Alex feel good. Well—it’s supposed to feel good. But she’s only ever shared this with a handful of other people, and none of them were Alex. And her body doesn't work the way a human's does. The tie isn't exactly something she can get rid of—and more than that, she wants it to feel as important and intrinsic for Alex as it feels for her.
She didn’t realize she was all that worried about it until now. Getting affirmation like this… she didn’t know it could feel this good. Being tied with Alex, having Alex limp and draped over her while her hips twitch, feels powerful. Feels right.
Alex lets out a huge breath. “Rimekhtvra.” She repeats, almost to herself.
Kara’s eyes flutter shut, both at the words and the feeling of Alex’s lips moving on her neck. “Yes.”
She can feel it as Alex says it, where her core is so full it aches, but her body won't let Alex go. Can't. Where she's bound Alex to her, taken Alex in a grip that has her incoherent and, apparently, speaking in tongues, now. Where she can't move, can't breathe, without feeling Alex. Somehow, it's almost better that Alex doesn't quite know the word like she does, the nuances that are hard to explain, because just for now, Kara can stay tied with her and dream about all the ways Alex could be bound to her, could be hers.
They can work out the details later.
Kara makes a face as Alex’s knot slides out of her and she feels an unwelcome sensation of body-hot fluid trying to run out of her. “Ugh. I need to clean that up.” Knotting feels great, until you have to do literally anything else.
“Bathroom.” Kara taps gently at Alex’s shoulder. Alex scrambles up with a ”Yeah”, and Kara makes another beeline for the bathroom. She can hear Alex going for something to clean up the couch. Kara isn’t sure how long she has before the next spike in her heat comes, but for the moment, she’s gone from “Unable to think about anything else” to “Uncomfortably and awkwardly still aroused somehow”.
When she comes out of the bathroom, Alex is in her shirt only and has miraculously managed to dig out the furniture cleaner and pheromone neutralizer—it’s a whole thing, on Earth—from one of the cupboards under the sink, and Kara is both struck with an unexpected affection that Alex jumped right into cleaning mode and a little pang that—well, they—are something that needs to be cleaned up.
She’ll be grateful for it once the heat passes, though, she reminds herself. And they should move this somewhere else, anyways. Heat sex on a couch is cramped at best.
Oh god. The next game night is going to be so awkward.
Alex turns when she hears the door opening, and for a moment, they stand there, mostly naked, looking at each other. Kara can’t speak. The air feels new and raw and fragile, and Kara can’t think of any words that don’t either sound old and clunky or far too desperate and intense.
There’s an empty-full feeling down inside her, inside-inside her, and she’s still riding the buzz from feeling her tie wrapped around a knot, and that was Alex. Kara’s skin buzzes faintly where Alex touched her, and Kara can’t look at Alex’s face, quizzical and alert, without seeing what she looked like wrecked with pleasure. And that leaves her train of thought hopelessly derailed.
“So.” Alex stretches out the word, shuffling half a step towards Kara. One arm comes up to cross over her hips and grab the other. “That… happened.” She looks uncertain and fretful, and Kara, who’s been successfully avoiding thinking about this, feels that look sharply in her guts, a plunging feeling at the past tense reference. And is suddenly aware that they’re both mostly naked, and Kara’s gaze seemingly self-directs downward—
She forces her eyes back up to Alex’s face, feeling her cheeks heat. “Yeah,” She manages through the tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, “It did.” It feels very present-tense, though.
She wants it to be present-tense. There’s a raw look on Alex’s face that Kara wants desperately to soothe.
Alex shifts slightly from foot to foot, sliding her free arm vaguely in front of her crotch. “I can put pants on.” She offers, and the note of uncertainty in her voice has Kara responding instinctively.
“No, don’t—“ Kara realizes what she’s just said and claps a hand over her mouth, blushing even more furiously. Alex’s worry fades into a sly smile, starts shy under her hair and grows until Kara’s breath catches.
That should be illegal.
“No, don’t put on pants?” Alex asks, her head tilting slightly with the question. Cheeky.
Kara shakes her head, not willing or trusting herself to open her mouth.
“’Cause I mean, if you want me to stay... We should probably use a condom.” Alex gestures with one hand in the direction of her bag, and then her hand gravitates to rubbing the back of her neck, hair falling forward in her face as she ducks her head. She manages to look both slightly embarrassed and also smug at the same time. The bridge of her nose crinkles adorably.
Kara's face flames and a kind of jittery electric feeling runs through her. What is she, twelve? It's just a word. Condom. And Alex just suggested staying for the rest of her heat—which, fine, Kara kind of figured, but it’s the first time either of them have said it out loud, and— “It’s, uh, it’s okay. I got it covered.” Alex might stay.
Alex nods, looking out from vaguely-under the fall of her hair. "I have some, too."
“If you still want to stay.” It feels leaden, and heavy, and Kara has been saying it all night. It must sound like she’s trying to chase Alex out of her apartment.
“So much.” It’s Alex’s turn to answer so quickly it feels like Kara doesn’t even finish her sentence before Alex is saying it. Alex’s cheeks color slightly, but she doesn’t take it back.
“Oh.” Kara feels her body react to Alex’s words, the fervency in her tone, stealing her breath. ”Oh” is all she can manage. There’s a knot of something that feels like excitement in Kara’s gut, but it’s so much more than nerves and looking-forward-to. She can’t wrap her brain around it—and it’s not just the head rush, or the surrealness of this moment, or the pheromones and the heat. “I didn’t realize…” She starts, and then doesn’t know how to finish. “I didn’t know…” That what—Alex loves her? As if that was ever a question. “I thought… I thought it was just me.”
Alex smiles, a little rueful, a lot understanding. “Yeah. It isn’t.”
There’s a long moment, and that knot of emotion in Kara’s gut grows until—
“Can I—?” Kara starts.
Alex is already nodding. “Yeah.”
And Kara is already crossing the space between them and putting her arms around Alex’s shoulders and leaning her forehead against Alex’s and Alex is nodding and then steady against her and her arms are around Kara’s waist, fingers sliding up and down along the curve of her spine.
“It’s gonna be okay,” Kara hears herself saying, “It’s gonna be okay, right?”
“Yeah,” Alex murmurs, arms tightening. “It’s gonna be okay. We’re okay. I promise. I promise.”
The tension melts away with Alex warm and close and reassuring, and as her nerves settle, Kara finds one of her hands wandering down Alex’s cheek, along her jaw, feeling the flushed skin, tracing over her freckles, the little rough patches, tiny lines, small scars. Part of Kara keeps expecting Alex to vanish, to wake up suddenly from a really horny dream—but it starts to settle in her that this is real. Alex is quiet under her hand. Kara’s thumb finds Alex’s lip, soft with kissing, breath teasing her skin. Kara leans in and replaces her thumb with her lips, exploratory.
The anxiety is gone when they come up for air, and the arousal that warms Kara’s body isn’t the sharp demand of heat—although, that’s building back up, too, but it’ll be a few minutes before it gets too distracting—it’s the fullness of finally. Finally, she understands. Maybe not all of it, but the important parts. Finally, there’s nothing between them.
Kara feels like she can breathe.
“We should move to your room,” Alex says, eyes half-lidded, “Before we get distracted and end up on the couch again.”
“Yeah.” Kara grabs Alex’s bag and takes it with her. “We’re using yours first.” She says, earning an eye-roll and a knowing smirk from Alex.
She deposits the bag on the bed and goes through it. Alex sighs behind her. “Where do you keep—“
“Middle front pocket.”
“Well why didn’t you just say so—“ Kara finds what she’s looking for and looks in bemusement at the strand of condoms that seems to go on forever that comes out of the bag. “How many of these do you carry on you?” "Not enough for a full heat." Oh, Alex.
Alex reaches both arms around Kara and tugs one wrapper lightly from the roll. “Enough.” She purrs in Kara’s ear, body a hot line against her back, sharp contrast to the chill starting to settle on Kara’s skin again. A shiver runs down her spine.
“For you and what army?”