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i'll be cleaning up bottles with you on new year's day

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“Supergirl! You have to go!” Alex is yelling at her as they roll Lena into the emergency room at National City General, but Kara is rooted to the spot—she can’t look away. Lena is pale, too pale, and there’s blood all over her dress, cuts and scrapes and bruises already blooming on every piece of exposed skin. She isn’t moving, isn’t breathing on her own right now; the only air making its way into her body is through the ambu bag being operated by a nurse, as women and men in scrubs crowd around the moving gurney, shouting orders. And all of that is terrifying enough, but it isn’t the thing that’s paralyzing Kara.

The reason Kara can’t move, the reason that she is barely breathing, is that she can’t hear Lena’s heart.

“Kara.” Alex is closer now, she steps gently in front of her sister, dropping her voice so that no one else can hear her. “Kara, you have to go, they’re getting away.”

“Alex—” Kara takes a step forward, as if to walk around her sister, to head towards the doors that Lena and the medical team are disappearing behind.

“I know, Kara, I know,” Alex says, gentle and quiet. The doors shut, and Kara’s eyes snap away from it to her sister's face. Alex looks as terrified as Kara feels; she’s wearing an expression Kara has only seen on her before when it’s Kara who’s hurt. “You can’t do anything for her right now. But you can get the guys who did this.” She reaches for Kara’s arm, squeezes—the pressure is grounding. “You need to go. You need to go right now.

So Kara goes.

__________________

She returns seven hours later, after dropping the men who carried out the attack on Lena at the DEO and declining to help in the interrogation. She nearly killed them, doesn’t think she has the stomach to listen to them talk. She’d still been in the field when the hospital reached out to let her know that they’d been able to restart Lena’s heart and stabilize her, but that she hadn’t woken up yet. Alex relayed the message to her, knowing that Kara was going out of her mind, but now Alex only shakes her head when Kara asks if there are any updates.

Her sister pulls her aside when Kara says that she’s going to hospital to talk to the doctors, telling Kara quietly that she needs to go home and clean off her suit. When Kara looks down, she sees that Alex is right. She’s covered in blood—some of it Lena’s, some of it the men she’s apprehended, none of it hers. It makes her want to sob.

But when she gets out of the bathroom after showering, pulling on soft joggers and a hoodie, Kara finds that she can’t settle. Every time she closes her eyes, every time she blinks, she sees Lena’s lifeless body in the rubble that had been her office, can feel Lena in her arms the moment her heart stopped, and the fact that Lena is supposedly stable doesn’t help at all because she hasn’t woken up.

What if she never wakes up?

Suddenly, Kara can’t breathe. Her chest is tight, the walls of her apartment seeming to flex and close in on her. Her heart rate speeds up and she’s taking choked half-breaths, clenching her fists and blinking away tears.

She can’t lose Lena like this, not after she worked so hard to get her back. Kara looks at the clock. It’s just after midnight. This is definitely not visiting-hours at the hospital, and Lena’s not awake anyway—but Kara needs to see her. Needs to know she’s alive.

Needs to hear her heartbeat again.

It’s all of this—the panic, the desperation, the single-minded focus on getting to Lena—that Kara will blame later when she’s trying to explain what happens next in the weeks to come.

The hospital is deserted except for the staff when Kara walks in through the main entrance and goes up to the ICU where she knows Lena will be. She heads straight for the desk at the front of the unit when she arrives, and introduces herself to a nurse before asking if she can see Lena.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Danvers,” the nurse says, and she does sound sorry in the face of Kara’s distress, “visiting hours aren’t until ten a.m.”

A man in a basketball sweatshirt and jeans walks past them. He scans a small badge that says ‘VISITOR’ in capital letters on a machine at the end of the desk, and nods at the nurse before he disappears down the hallway.

“But he’s visiting,’ Kara tries, her voice bordering on frantic, “he’s visiting and I need to see her, you don’t understand, I’m not going to be okay if I don’t see her. Please, just let me...”

“I’m so sorry, honey, it’s immediate family only after hours.”

“I’m her wife,” Kara blurts out. “Please. I’m her wife.”

“You’re her…that’s not in the notes…” The nurse trails off, looking down at the computer in front of her.

“I’m her emergency contact, I’m her wife, please.”

“Oh, yes,” the nurse starts nodding, “I do see that marked here, they called you when she came in. Hmmm...Someone marked the wrong box under ‘relationship to patient.’” She moves her mouse and clicks on something, then looks back up at Kara. “I’ve fixed that for you, Mrs. Danvers. Let me print you out a visitor badge so you can just scan it in next time.”

Kara can feel her panic recede a little. She’s going to see Lena. The nurse takes a blank badge and feeds it into an electronic printer. She hands the finished product to Kara, then gets up and gestures for Kara to follow.

“Now,” the nurse starts as she walks Kara down the dark hallway, the lights on half since it’s night, “she looks a little rough, but I assure you, she’s receiving the very best care there is. Normally you would have been called for consent before we initiated the hypothermia protocol, but since she had an advanced directive on file already, the team went ahead and started it.”

Kara’s barely listening to her, has started to strain her ears for the only sound she’s wanted to hear all day. She nearly collapses in relief when she finds it, below the beeping and the whirring and the buzzing of the machines, unlike any other beat in the building. Lena’s heart is steady, slower than usual, slower than Kara’s ever heard it, but it’s there, rhythmically thumping away.

The nurse brings her to a halt in front of a patient room, Lena’s name on the board outside with a bunch of notations that mean nothing to Kara. She’ll ask Alex to translate.

“She’ll be cold to your touch, that’s alright,” the nurse continues. “The key right now is to try to stop or slow any of the damage she’s suffered as a result of going into cardiac arrest. She lost a lot of blood, and her left femur is broken, along with her right ulna, but there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful. We’ll know more in the forty-eight to seventy-two hours once the protocol is complete.”

Kara refuses to think about most of this. Lena is alive. She’s alive and she’s right on the other side of this door. She clears her throat. “How long...how long can I stay?”

“As long as you like, dear. We’ll round on her in the morning and if you’re still here you can talk to the attending. Also, we’ll be in to check on her, but most of the monitoring is electronic since she’s in a medically induced coma for at least the next two days. There’s a chair that reclines by the bedside, I can grab you a blanket?”

“Please,” Kara says. She stops with her hand on the door, turns back to the nurse. “Thank you.” It comes out wobbly.

“Of course.” The nurse smiles at her. “Go on in, I’ll be right back.”

_____________________

Kara’s woken up by the medical team the next morning during rounds, just as the night shift nurse had promised. She blinks awake and rubs at her eyes, stretching and going to stand up when the team enters.

“Hi Mrs. Danvers, we saw you’d arrived,” a tall woman in a white lab coat says, walking over to Kara on the far side of the room and sticking out her hand to shake. “I’m Dr. Sheldon. We’ll do our best to bring you up to speed now, I’m so glad you were able to make it last night.” She gives Kara a warm smile. “Believe it or not, it really does make a difference when patients are supported, even when they aren’t aware of it.”

The team walks her through their care plan for Lena, how long she’ll have to remain like this before they start the re-warming process, what they’re concerned about and what they’ll be looking for. Her arm and femur have been set and immobilized, but it’s likely that the femur will need to be rebroken and repaired surgically if and when Lena does wake up. Given the invasiveness of the procedure, the delicacy of her present condition, and the unknowns about her cognition, that decision will keep.

When they leave, Kara texts Alex. If the doctors think that it will make a difference for Lena’s recovery to have her here, then she’s going to stay. She’s owed time off anyway. This is the best use of it she can think of.

Two hours later, the door opens, and Kara looks up from the bed, relieved to see Alex standing there, holding a backpack with the food and change of clothing Kara asked her to bring.

“Oh gosh, am I glad to see you,” she says, letting go of Lena’s hand and standing up. She walks around the bed to where Alex has stopped.

“Yeah, yeah,” Alex says, and she’s frowning at Kara. “You have some fucking explaining to do.”

“What?” Kara stops abruptly.

“What?” Alex parrots. She narrows her eyes. “Are you being serious…?” At Kara’s confused expression, Alex rolls her eyes and reaches behind her to shut the door. She walks over to Kara, pulling some take out from the bag and handing it to her, before pulling up one of the swivel chairs a doctor had been using.

Kara takes the food and goes back to her seat.

“So?” Alex prompts.

Kara looks up from the styrofoam container, already having broken apart her chopsticks. “So what?”

“What do you mean so wha—Kara!” Kara freezes, chopsticks hanging in midair clutching a piece of kung pao chicken. There is real frustration and confusion in Alex’s voice. “Imagine my surprise when I sign in at the front desk and the nurse says that my sister-in-law is stable right now. Wanna tell me why you’re playing house to visit your best friend in the hospital?”

Kara sets the chicken down. “Alex…”

“Kara, you have ten seconds to explain why the entire staff thinks you and Lena are married and the answer had better not actually involve marriage or I swear to god I’ll…”

“They wouldn’t let me in to see her!” Kara bursts out. “I got here last night and I needed to see her, Alex, I needed to. And apparently it’s immediate family only and I panicked, okay?”

“I’m sorry,” Alex says, pinching the bridge of her nose and closing her eyes. “I know Lena is important to you, but Kara, you could have waited ten hours and seen her.”

“I couldn’t.” Kara looks down at her food, not hungry anymore. “Alex, I couldn’t. I almost had a panic attack after you sent me home last night. I couldn’t wait.”

“Oh kiddo.” Kara looks up at that, all the frustration is gone from Alex’s tone. Her sister lets out a sigh. “Lena’s going to get through this and she’s going to get better. And when she does, you have got to tell her how you feel.”

“She’s my best friend.” Kara’s mouth twists. This is not a new conversation, but the stakes seem higher with Lena in the bed beside her, unconscious and battered.

“She is,” Alex agrees. “But she could be more.”

And oh, Kara wants more with every fiber of her being. But more than that, she wants Lena in her life, wants the easy love and affection they’ve finally gotten back to. She’s been worried about rocking the boat.

“And by the way,” Alex says, pulling her back to the present, “lying to medical professionals is not a good look.” Kara grimaces and ducks her head.

“I know,” she says, glancing at Lena and watching the ventilator move her chest up and down slowly. “But they said it’s good for Lena to have someone here, talking to her, holding her hand, even if she doesn’t know. And you know Lillian isn’t going to do that. And Lex is the one who put her here...just let me do this, okay?”

Alex hums. “You’re so lucky I didn’t blow your secret.”

Kara looks over at her sister. “Thank you.”

“Some of us are actually good at lying under pressure. I’m surprised you didn’t tell them she was married to Supergirl.”

“Well, I wasn’t dressed as Supergirl.”

“Thank god for small mercies.”

______________________

Lena doesn’t wake up for the next three days.

In the interim, all of their friends visit, but Alex has already warned them about Kara’s new relationship status and other than Nia’s constant giggles, no one comments. Kara doesn’t leave the hospital. She keeps vigil in the chair, occasionally leaving for short periods of time to go down to the cafeteria, or to stretch her legs.

On day four, Alex convinces her to at least go to the DEO to shower and check in with J’onn about the duties he and M’gann are covering for her.

She’s just getting ready to head back to the hospital when her phone rings.

“Mrs. Danvers?”

“Yes?”

“This is Dr. Sheldon. Your wife has woken up and she’s being evaluated now by neuro, but we wanted you to know first thing.”

Kara has to sit down in the middle of the DEO, the concrete hard and probably cold underneath her, but it’s better than the alternative, which was going to be letting her knees give out. She closes her eyes tightly. “I’ll be right there.”

She flies back to the hospital, landing in a nearby alley and running into the building with just a touch of superspeed. She makes it onto the unit just in time to see Lena’s care team leaving her room and turning down the hall to the next patient, and as much as Kara wants to get an update from them, the urge to see Lena herself is too much. She walks through the open door and nearly runs into a nurse, who’s moving some of the equipment out, now that Lena is conscious. It’s a nurse Kara is familiar with, her name is Bernadette, because she’s been on shift the last two days. Her eyes light up when she sees Kara.

“Your wife is here,” Bernadette says, over her shoulder before Kara can stop her. She smiles warmly as she turns back to Kara. “I’ll leave you two alone.” She slips past Kara and into the hallway.

“My…” Lena’s eyes go wide as she sees Kara standing helpless in front of the now closed door. Her voice is still scratchy from the extubation. Her hair is greasy and all over the pillow, her right arm and left leg are completely immobilized, there are wires running through the top of her hospital gown, her whole body a tapestry of garish purples and greens and stitches. But she’s awake. Kara has never felt more relieved in her entire life, but it turns to ice in her veins as Lena struggles to speak, clearly confused. “My—my—oh god.” Her eyes start to fill with tears and Kara panics.

“No, Lena, no, it’s not—” she starts saying, taking quick steps towards the bed.

“Oh god, oh god, Kara,” Lena chokes out, twisting a little in bed and flinching, “they said I only lost a week, they said my memory seemed okay, that there’s no—”

“We’re not married!” Kara yells out trying to stop the clear spiral Lena is on. Lena’s eyes go wide, but she does stop looking like she’s about to start sobbing. “We’re not married,” Kara repeats, in a normal voice this time.

“Then why…”

Kara winces. “I might have told the hospital staff that we are. Married, that is.”

Lena looks wary, small and weak and confused in the bed, and she’s frowning a little at Kara now. It doesn’t even matter, though, because the feeling of seeing Lena awake is returning with every word she speaks, and Kara feels something in her chest open up. She has to resist walking over and climbing into bed with her and holding her, knows she needs to explain first.

In every single way Kara played out this moment all week in her head, not once is this how it went—she wants Lena to be smiling, to be okay, or at least as okay as one can be after coming out of a medically induced coma, with a number of near catastrophic injuries still to be dealt with. She certainly didn’t imagine she’d be contributing to the disorientation and isolation Lena’s projecting right now.

Lena’s eyes dart around Kara’s face. Kara takes a deep breath.

“The first night you were here, I had to see you.” She starts twisting her hands together, takes another step towards the bed. “And it was late, and even though I’m your emergency contact, they said no after hours visitors except for family and I panicked.”

“You panicked.” Lena sounds like she’s unsure how panic would lead someone to pretend to be married, and honestly, now that Kara is having to explain the decision, she’s not really sure either. The only thing she knows is that she doesn’t regret it. Would do it again, in fact.

“I knew if they thought I was your wife, they’d let me in to see you. And Lena, I had to see you. I had to. You were—” Kara cuts herself off, can feel the tightness in her chest, closing around her heart like a vice. “Your heart stopped before I could get you to the hospital. The last time I saw you, I didn’t know if—” A small sob works it’s way up her throat, and Kara’s eyes are burning. She feels a tear break free from her lashes. “I needed to hear your heartbeat.”

An unreadable expression crosses Lena’s face as Kara takes the seat by her bed that she’s occupied for the last week. To Kara’s great relief, Lena reaches out her left hand, lays it on the edge of the bed, palm up. Kara grabs for it with both of her own.

And Rao, the feeling of Lena’s hand, still cold, but undeniably warmer, squeezing back when Kara grips tightly—she doesn’t know how to describe this feeling. It starts a fresh wave of sobs in her, of relief this time, rather than terror.

“Hey,” Lena says, punctuating it with another flex of her fingers around the back of Kara’s hand. “Hey, I’m okay. I’m here. You saved me. I’m okay, see?”

And, really, that just makes Kara cry harder.

“I’m supposed to be comforting you,” she chokes out.

“You are,” Lena says, disengaging their hands and bringing her fingers up to Kara’s face, wiping at the tears. “You are, god, I was just thrown. I thought...I thought, it doesn't matter what I thought.” She tries to laugh and ends up flinching.

“Oh no, are you okay, should I call the doctor?” Kara immediately reaches forward, lays a hand on Lena’s hip above the sheets and wipes furiously at her face with the other.

“It’s the broken ribs,” Lena grits out, jaw flexing as she drops her hand away from Kara’s face and back onto the bed. “Fuck that hurts.”

“I’m just so glad you’re awake,” Kara says, leaning forward again and brushing some of the hair out of Lena’s face, trying to tuck it behind her ear.

That’s how Bernadette finds them when she returns, Kara gently touching Lena’s forehead, and rubbing her hip, the two of them so close that Kara might as well climb in next to her.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she says, smiling at the two of them. “The attending would like to pop in with the head of ortho to talk about surgical options for your femur. Should I tell her to come back later?”

Kara moves to stand up, she doesn’t want to delay anything about Lena’s care, but Lena reaches for her hand again, and Kara’s powerless to do anything but lace their fingers together and sit back down.

Lena takes a shallow breath, “Can my wife stay?”

My wife. Hearing it come out of Lena’s mouth does something to Kara that feels a little dangerous, makes the room spin a bit. Her heart feels as if it’s expanding and being squeezed at the same time. My wife. My wife. My wife.

“Of course, she’s more than welcome to stay,” Bernadette says. “It’s probably a good idea, actually, now that there are care decisions to make.”

_____________________

“Let me get this straight,” Alex says, her head in her hands. Kelly reaches out to rub her back. “You’re still pretending to be married, and Lena is playing along with it?”

Kara nods. They’re sitting down in the cafeteria while Lena gets a sponge bath, something that Kara is trying very hard not to think about. It’s been nearly three weeks, one major operation, and thankfully no more complications.

And Kara has been here through it all. She’s started leaving for blocks of time during the day (it turns out she didn’t have a month worth of vacation saved up and Alex had nearly had an aneurysm when Kara asked if she was allowed to use Family Medical Leave Act time), but she’s spent nearly every night in the hospital with Lena since. The medical team loves them, has started talking to them about how devoted Kara is, how lucky Lena is to have her. Maybe Kara’s playing into it a little, bringing flowers, and Lena’s favorite foods, and always, always touching her in some way when she’s in the room.

“You know they’re going to build her discharge plan around you, right?” Alex squints at her. “Have you considered that?”

Kara flushes. “Actually,” she brings a hand up to rub at the back of her neck, adjusts her glasses for good measure, “we’ve agreed that I’ll just move in with Lena for a little while. She can hire someone during the day, but I’ll be around at night and I can help with the rehab. So, um, it’s fine.”

“You’re both fucking idiots.”

_________________

“I’ve been home for an hour and I’m already regretting every choice in my life that’s led to this point. This is humiliating.”

“Oh my gosh,” Kara laughs, “no it isn’t.”

“Kara, you’re washing my hair in the kitchen sink because I can’t even wash myself right now with this fucking cast and brace on.”

Kara grins, squirting shampoo onto her hand and setting the bottle down on the marble countertop. Lena is sitting in the wheelchair, left leg propped up on the supports. She’s leaning back with her head over the edge of the sink, rolled up towels supporting her neck and her eyes are closed. She’s frowning, but it’s the frown she wears when she’s trying too hard not to smile. It makes Kara want to kiss it right off her face. She takes a deep breath, instead.

Kara is just so grateful that she gets to see Lena like this, hair stringy from the hospital, oversize sweatshirt with one sleeve bunched up over the top of the lime green cast on her right arm. The post-surgical femoral fracture brace looks uncomfortable, but Lena hasn’t complained about it at all. So, fine, maybe this nearly debilitating urge to kiss her best friend, to ask her if the last few weeks could be real, instead of fake (not the marriage part, not now, anyway, but the relationship part, sure), is getting more and more intrusive. That doesn’t mean Kara can’t continue to ignore it until Lena’s better.

She finishes washing Lena’s hair and if she takes extra time massaging in the conditioner and making sure the water temperature is absolutely perfect, well, that’s just being a good caretaker. She sets Lena up in her bedroom, then goes back to the kitchen to clean up.

“Okay,” Kara says, walking back into the bedroom. “You officially have zero edible things in your apartment. I’m going to make a list and head to the grocery store for supplies, if that’s alright? Your next meds can’t be taken on an empty stomach.”

“You’re underestimating my iron constitution.” Lena frowns unhappily in bed. “We can just order some, you don’t have to go.”

“I’ll be back in a jiffy, okay?” Kara smiles at Lena.

Sure, they could order groceries, but she wants to go get them, to pick them out herself, and bring them back. It makes her feel so good to be able to do things like this: wash Lena’s hair, go get groceries, make her something to eat. The best part of this whole terrible ordeal is that she’s gotten to take care of Lena, to show her, not just tell her, how important she is to Kara. It warms her up from the inside out.

“You sure I’m allowed to be by myself?” Lena teases, breaking Kara out of her thoughts. “I haven’t been left to my own devices in weeks now. Just imagine all the trouble I could get into.” She raises an eyebrow.

Kara laughs and shakes her head, drawn closer to Lena like a magnet. Lena’s tucked into bed, left leg propped up on pillows to keep the brace comfortable, two books on the nightstand beside her, a glass of water within easy reach, and the next round of medications in a small porcelain bowl that Kara repurposed from the kitchen. Her hair is still wet from being washed, and although there are dark circles around her eyes, and her cheekbones are too sharp from the weight she lost in the hospital, Kara doesn’t think she’s ever seen anything more beautiful than Lena right at this exact moment.

She walks over to the bed and sits down next to Lena, reaching over to move the glass of water back from the edge of the nightstand and onto a coaster. “You’re going to be fine. I’ll bet you a whole order of potstickers that you’re asleep when I get back.” She reaches across Lena, adjusts the towel covering up her pillow to keep it from getting wet.

When she pulls back slightly, she’s startled by how close Lena’s face is to hers. Lena is looking at her with such unadulterated fondness, that Kara can’t help reaching up and tucking a wet tendril of hair back behind Lena’s ear. “I’ll be back so soon you won’t even know I was gone.”

“I always know when you’re gone,” Lena says, the corners of her mouth lifting up, her eyes crinkling lightly. Kara’s hand has drifted from Lena’s ear to the back of her head, her thumb brushing gently at the soft skin just below Lena’s jaw.

When she retells the story of what happens next later, Alex will roll her eyes and mutter under her breath, but Kara will swear this is the truth: without even thinking about it, she leans forward and kisses Lena on the lips, quick and soft, then stands and turns to go, pulling her phone out of her pocket so she can start making a grocery list.

“You can drop the act now,” Lena says, a little stiffly.

“Huh?” Kara whips around, more at Lena’s tone than at her words, and looks at her in confusion. Lena’s face is bright red.

“Kara, we’re—I’m home, there’s no hospital staff to convince anymore.” She sounds a little upset, and Kara feels her forehead crinkle as she replays the last several seconds in her head: she moved Lena’s water, adjusted the towel behind her head, smoothed Lena’s hair, and…

“Oh Rao, oh gosh.” She takes a step forward, then back abruptly, as she realizes that she’s just kissed Lena on the mouth. She puts one hand on her forehead and the other on her hip, spins in a small circle. “Lena, I’m so sorry. I didn’t—”

“It’s fine,” Lena says, her voice sounding calm and even now that Kara is having a meltdown, but her heart is doing some sort of high speed gallop in her chest and it’s giving Kara the impression that this is not actually fine.

Oh no, oh gosh… “Lena, I’m sorry,—”

“I get it.” Lena cuts her off, holding up a hand to stop her. “The whole act, it’s a hard habit to break.” She drops her hand to the bed and laughs lightly, picking at the blanket. “Honestly I’m surprised we made it this long without accidentally doing that.”

“Accidently. Yes.” Kara’s nodding so hard, she feels like her head might come off. “It was an accident.” That might be a convenient way of putting it, but it doesn’t change the fact that Kara’s been wanting to kiss Lena, wants it to be as un-accidental as possible. And aren’t accidents things like tripping on the carpet, or spilling a drink at dinner? She may not have been thinking when she did it, but Kara knows there’s nothing accidental about that kiss.

But Lena’s giving her an out, and Kara can’t bring herself not to take it.

“I’m just going to—” Kara gestures over her shoulder and then she flees.

“Alex, I kissed her.” Kara’s made it outside the apartment, but her heart hasn’t slowed down. She didn’t even bother making a list after walking out of Lena’s bedroom, just went straight to the elevator, dialing Alex before she’d even hit the lobby. Her stomach is squirmy, she feels like she might throw up.

“Finally,” Alex says, letting out what might be a relieved sigh.

“What do you mean finally?” Kara feels hysterical.

“I mean finally, idiot. Watching the two of you for the past three weeks has been the most painful experience of my life, I’m glad you finally did it.”

“She thinks it was because of the act!” Kara nearly yells. A man walking by looks at her, narrowing his eyes and giving her a wide berth. “She thinks it’s because of the act, Alex!”

There’s silence on the other end of the line for a moment.

“Kara Danvers, are you fucking kidding me right now?”

“No,” Kara wails. “I didn’t even mean to do it! Or, well. I meant to do it, but I didn’t know I was doing it. I was making sure she had everything she needed and then I was leaving to go to the grocery story and somewhere in the middle I kissed her! And she got kinda upset even though she said she wasn’t and she says it’s fine because it was an accident. And it was an accident, at least in the sense that I wasn’t thinking when I did it and gosh I didn’t even ask if she wanted to kiss me, but I meant it, Alex, I meant it.”

Kara can picture Alex right now: that tight, unhappy expression on her face, fingers pinching her nose between her eyes.

“Okay, I swore to Kelly I wasn’t going to do this, but that was before you lost your damn mind and kissed her.” Kara can hear Alex take a deep breath. “You need to go back upstairs right now and confess, Kara.”

“What?” Kara practically screeches. She spins in a circle. “No, this isn’t the right time. I’m supposed to be helping her, I’m supposed to be taking care of her, I can’t put this on her right now. What if she doesn’t feel the same, what if this ruins everything, what if—”

Thankfully Alex cuts her off. “That argument worked before you kissed her and decided to let her believe you didn’t mean to do it. And before you argue with me, you might not have known you were doing it, but you absolutely meant to do it, Kara.”

Kara is now facing Lena’s apartment and gently knocking her forehead against it.

“Kara, I heard that crack, stop headbutting the building.” Kara stops, keeps her forehead pressed to the cool limestone. Alex pauses, and her voice is gentle when she continues. “You gotta tell her, kiddo. You’ve been down the whole lying path with her before and while I don’t think this is the kind of lie that would cause her to try removing our free-will again, I do think that you guys decided on honesty as your way forward. You either own that, or you don’t.”

“You’re right. I know you’re right.” Kara squeezes her eyes shut. “If we can get through that, we can get through this.”

“That’s the spirit. And hey, if for some reason things don’t go well and you feel like you can’t stay with her? Kelly or I would be happy to swap out with you tonight. Just in case you need some space.”

“Thanks, Alex.”

“But Kara, I think you’re gonna be just fine.”

Kara doesn’t feel much better when she hangs up with Alex, but she knows her sister is right. She’s got to tell Lena.

And to be honest, Kara can’t imagine a world in which Lena would be upset with her for having feelings, regardless of whether they’re reciprocated. They’ll be able to work through this, even if it hurts for a while. She’s had friends fall in love with her before, and she’s always been able to keep them as friends afterwards. Gosh, maybe Winn has some advice for me, she thinks.

So Kara takes a deep breath and goes back inside. Groceries can wait.

She’s trembling when she lets herself back into Lena’s apartment. It’s nerves, anticipation more than anything. She’s about to confess something that she can’t, won’t take back and it will change things between them, even if only for a while.

Lena looks up from her book when Kara makes her way back into the bedroom. She sets it down beside her hip on the bed and cocks her head.

“That was fast.” She gives Kara a smile. “Did Supergirl get my groceries?”

“I’m in love with you.” Well that’s one way to start this conversation. “And I didn’t kiss you accidentally.”

Lena’s smile drops, her eyes widening in surprise. Everything about her seems to freeze.

“Before you say anything, I need to get this out. I’m not telling you because I’m expecting anything. I don’t want anything to change, I mean, I do, clearly, but I don’t if that’s not what you want.” Kara squeezes her eyes shut and looks at the ceiling. She really should have thought this through. “I’ve known how I feel for a while, actually, I was just worried about what it might mean, if you didn’t feel the same way.” She drops her gaze back to Lena. “But then you almost died. And I pretended to be your wife. And I was planning on telling you once you’re totally recovered. Except then I kissed you without even thinking about it and I can’t lie about this, Lena. It isn’t good for either of us. So. Yeah. Just...Tell me what you need.”

Lena’s looking at her with an expression Kara can’t read, but she doesn’t look unhappy, or afraid, or upset...

“Kara, do you remember when that nurse told me my wife had shown up?”

“Yes,” Kara says, frowning, because she doesn't understand where Lena is going with this. “Of course I do, you were panicked that you’d experienced severe brain damage.”

Lena shakes her head, pats the space on the bed next to her.

Kara feels a weight lift from her shoulders: no matter how this goes, if Lena is asking her to come closer, then they’re going to be okay. She walks across the carpet.

“You’re right,” Lena says as Kara comes closer, “I was worried, but that wasn’t the only thing that made me panic.”

“What else was it?” Kara sits down and looks at her lap, bringing her hands together to fidget. She can feel Lena’s body heat next to her, but she doesn’t want to reach out unless Lena does it first. “Was it the idea of being married to me?” She laughs. She can laugh about this.

“No, darling,” Lena says. She reaches for Kara’s hands, smoothing her fingers across them to still them. Darling, that’s a good sign, right? “Kara, as terrified as I was that there was more damage, my first thought was that somehow I’d lost memories of us: of you falling in love with me, of dating and first kisses and someone proposing and a wedding.” Lena pauses and Kara stares at their joined hands. She hears more than sees Lena take a deep breath and let it out. “I’ve been in love with you for so long it broke my heart to think that those things had happened and I couldn’t remember them.”

Kara whips her head around to look at Lena. Her best friend is smiling, and her eyes are a little wet like maybe she’s overwhelmed and might cry and oh gosh, does Kara understand that feeling right now.

“You love me,” she says, feeling her own eyes start to fill with tears.

Lena nods.

“You’re in love with me,” Kara can’t help clarifying. This is something out of a dream.

Lena nods again.

“Can I…” Kara reaches for Lena’s face, trails her knuckles down Lena’s cheek and watches in awe as Lena leans into the touch. “Can I kiss you now?”

“Yes,” Lena breathes out, smiling, and it’s blinding. “But only if it’s not an accident.”