“You’re not supposed to have drinks in here.”
Lena tried to reclaim the latte she’d just set down in front of Kara, but it was snagged away before she could reach it.
“Since you already brought it,” Kara muttered.
Lena pulled out a chair and sat to Kara’s left at the small table, watching with amusement as she glanced around the library before sneaking a sip.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. Considering how much I donated, we could have a fully catered dinner in here and I doubt they’d say a word about it.”
That wasn’t an exaggeration. She’d already received several different offers of gratitude, ranging from renaming the building to having a special gala in her honor.
“You didn’t have to give that much. Or at all honestly. I know L-Corp already has ties and commitments to a lot of different charities.”
Lena shrugged. “You said this one was your favorite branch. And the extra funds allow them to have extended hours now.”
“I know, but-” Kara reached out and stroked her fingers across Lena’s hand, “you still didn’t have to. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Lena murmured. As she intertwined her fingers with Kara’s, she glanced across the table and spied a periodical that looked familiar. “What are you reading?”
A blush crept across Kara’s face as she tried to slide the journal away, but Lena slapped her hand overtop of the article and pulled it towards her. When she spun it around, she was more than a little surprised.
“You’re reading one of my published papers?”
Kara cleared her throat. “Maybe?”
Lena glanced down at the pages. A several years-old discourse on bioengineering microbes to consume heavy metal pollutants didn’t seem pertinent to either of Kara’s jobs.
Kara half-smiled, looking somewhat abashed. “Because we’re both really busy and when I miss you, this kind of…fills in? It’s like having a conversation with you in a way. I can picture you smiling and getting excited and it’s- it’s just nice.”
Lena suddenly felt guilty. “I’m sorry things have been hectic again lately-”
“No, no. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. It’s been crazy for both of us.”
Crazy was an understatement. They’d barely had time for a few brief visits at Lena’s office this past week, both of them too swamped with meetings, assignments, or heroics. Although, Kara’s schedule had just freed up considerably. Her injury yesterday had forced her into taking a few days off.
“How’s your arm?”
“Okay. Sore, but no sling today, so I’m not gonna complain.” Kara shifted in her chair. “You’re still alright with it? My getting hurt?”
“Well, I’d have preferred you not blowing out your powers and ending up with a nearly broken arm. But I’m handling it.”
“Okay, good. That’s good.”
Kara squeezed Lena’s fingers to convey her happiness, but with a little more force than usual. Normally, there was a constant layer of carefulness to everything Kara did. But right now it was gone, and its absence reminded Lena of a thought she’d had last night.
“It helped when I factored in the upside.”
Kara looked at her with confusion. “Upside to getting injured?”
“Upside to no powers.” Lena’s small smirk should have clued her in, but Kara plowed forward undeterred.
“No powers sucks, Lena. I’ve mildly burned myself twice already, stubbed my toe on the couch, and had to clean my apartment at normal speed,” Kara huffed. “It took over two hours.”
“Poor baby,” Lena teased. Kara’s expression turned aghast, but before she could say something snarky in return, Lena continued. “The upside,” she said slowly, “is that you have no powers to lose control of.”
“Why would I want to lose control?”
“I don’t know. Why would you?”
“I don’t know,” Kara parroted, before dropping her voice low. “Maybe to see how hard I can rail you when I’m not holding back.”
Okay, so, Kara had caught on at some point.
“That could be part of it,” Lena acknowledged. “But also because I want to see how hard you’ll come when you’re not concerned about crushing my fingers or head.”
Kara licked at her lips reflexively. “You’re making very good points about this upside.”
“I know.” Lena smiled, then took a sip of her beverage. She caught Kara glancing down at her arm - the one that had been injured in the fight - before looking back up at Lena with a more serious expression.
“You’re really okay with this? That I got hurt.”
Lena set down her drink. They’d yet to have this conversation, and she’d thought they might not have to, by virtue of her calm reaction to Kara limping through her front door last night. But she couldn’t fault Kara for wanting reassurance.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Lena said, “I’m not loving it. And my humor is definitely me deflecting. But I’m handling it a lot better.” She shrugged and looked down at the table. “I have to. This relationship means too much to me.”
Lena looked up, and the stare Kara was leveling at her was intense enough to make her breath catch. What she saw in Kara’s eyes, it was no less than everything. Affection, adoration, gratitude, and love.
“I love you, Lena.”
“I love you, too, Kara.”
With every repetition, it got easier. Less nerve wracking and more a simple statement of fact. One that brought a feeling of contentment along with it.
A feeling that kept getting stronger.
“And now that we’ve officially made use of the new hours,” she said slowly, her voice an octave lower, “can we express that love at home? Because we don’t have much time left before your powers return. And it would be a shame for that to go to waste.”