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you (don't) have to say you love me

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Lena would like to say she doesn’t know how she ended up here, but the problem is that she knows exactly how. It starts with a handshake and somehow ends with them growing even further apart with time. Lena stops going to game nights again and Kara keeps asking her the same questions and it all boils down to an explosion in her loft, with Lena screaming at the top of her lungs.

So now they’re in the aftermath, with Kara sitting excitedly beside her, hands tucked under her thighs. The therapist stares the both of them down while Lena’s eyes flit around the office, taking in the green chair in the corner and the blue vase that looks like a child’s botched pottery attempt.

“It seems one of you doesn’t want to be here,” the therapist says. She’d introduced herself as Molly, just Molly, no Dr or last name. Like she wants to trap Lena into a sense of familiarity that she won’t be able to get out of.

“She wants to be,” Kara says. “She’s just nervous.”

“I think it’s better if you let her speak for herself,” Molly says, smiling comfortingly Lena’s way.

Lena feels Kara’s hopeful gaze boring into the side of her cheek. She’s acutely aware of all the ways the therapist could read her- if she squirms, or clenches her jaw, or bites the inside of her thumb -so she sits completely still.

“Are you siblings or partners?” Molly asks.

Lena runs out of things to look at in the room. Her eyes flit back to the green chair in the corner.

“We’re just friends,” Kara says. Just.

“So neither of you holds any romantic feelings for the other.”

“No,” Kara confirms.

Lena looks back at the blue vase. She thinks if she looks at it long enough she might start feeling like the water inside- calm, content, accepting that its vessel is shoddy and imperfect.

She feels both their eyes on her. Molly’s is gentle, asking. Kara’s is insistent.

“Lena?” Kara asks, and Lena quickly looks away.

“It’s okay,” Molly says. “It looks like we have a lot to talk about.”

//

It gets a little weird. A lot weird. They talk about it in the sessions, and pretend like it doesn’t exist outside of them. Lena’s in love with Kara but Kara isn’t in love with Lena.

It’s why Lena was heartbroken by Kara’s betrayal and why Kara didn’t understand it. It’s why Lena feels like she is owed all of Kara, when she isn’t. It was her choice to show Kara all of herself, driven by her love, and Kara’s choice not to do the same, driven by the lack of it.

She’s drained by it, in the beginning. It’s embarrassing, and humiliating, and Lena can’t stand being so openly vulnerable, can’t stand being taught about herself by someone else. But then it gets better, she thinks- Kara doesn’t love her, and she can stop hoping and start accepting.

Molly says they tried to jump into it too quickly, too soon. They should agree on one day to hang out every week, and keep to it. Lena quietly asks for it to be every two weeks, explaining to Kara that she needs the space to process when Molly urges her to, and Kara agrees. “Anything you need,” she tells Lena, and then, because they agreed Kara wouldn’t use that term, agreed that the vehement way Kara always promises it is one of the things that makes it seem as though Kara feels the same when she doesn’t, she changes it to a solemn “If that’s what you need.”

It’ll get better, Lena tells herself. It makes sense that Kara doesn’t love her back. It makes sense that Kara doesn’t think of her the same- Kara is kind and open and forgiving, and Lena is tough and closed off and- it just makes sense.

Some day Lena will stop crying herself to sleep, or obsessing over the way Kara phrases her words, or feeling like her heart is one of those paintings where the red drips down the canvas like pained rainfall.

//

Kara comes to Lena’s office for lunch frazzled, carrying a hefty bag of takeout. There’s an awkward moment where she leans in for a cheek kiss and stops midway through, her eyes going wide and hesitant, and it’s times like these that make Lena angry, that make her want to take it all back and stop trying.

They sit on the couch and the air is tense and silent, even though Lena has a lot to say, is itching to complain about the intern that keeps coming in late and the donut-zinger food truck she found that she knows for a fact will be Kara’s next obsession. Kara’s awkward greeting hangs over them like a cloud and Lena wants nothing more than to just go back to work and forget this ever happened, give up on all of it, be alone and be fine with it.

“My mom’s calling,” Kara says, and Lena gestures for her to take it and thinks nothing of it, except instead of pulling out a phone Kara pulls out a blue crystal. Lena’s never seen a blue that matches Kara’s eyes before, except at the fortress of solitude.

“Hi mom,” she says, glancing at Lena sheepishly. “I missed you.”

“I miss you too zahtao,” the hologram says. “Have you been eating your veggies?”

Kara surreptitiously nudges her burger out of view. “Yeah, not like I have to.”

“Superpowers are no excuse not to take care of our bodies,” Kara’s mom says. Her voice tilts the same way Kara’s does when she’s being cheeky, and Lena finds herself smiling.

“They kinda are,” Kara mumbles. “Anyways, what’s up?”

“Just waiting for an update on Lena?”

Kara lips twist the way they do when Lena catches her doing something she shouldn’t be doing, like playing Sims instead of working. She tilts the crystal to bring Lena into the hologram’s vision.

“She’s right here, actually.”

“Lena!” Alura grins at her. The image is surprisingly crystal clear, albeit monochromatic. “We’ve met before.”

“At the DEO, yes,” Lena says, leaning in with a smile. “I’ve always wanted to meet Kara’s mother. To thank her for... I don't know, making her.”

“It was a pleasure, trust me,” Alura says, her voice dripping with meaning. Lena gapes at Kara and Kara smacks her own forehead, an affronted noise spilling out of her. “I’ll let you go, Kara. Call me later, alright?”

Kara mumbles an assent, sharing a look with Lena behind the crystal. The hologram disappears just in time for their giggles to escape.

Kara shakes her head, red to the tips of her ears. “I can’t believe she said that.”

“Always good to know your mom was having good sex when she conceived you.”

Ew.” Kara throws a fry at Lena’s face, laughing despite herself. “Stop!”

//

It’s still a little awkward, but things get better and, without Molly’s knowledge, they break the once every 2 weeks rule consistently.

Kara keeps doing them- those things that tell Lena there’s no way she doesn’t have feelings for her. Saying things like you’re literally so gorgeous it’s stupid and offering her arm every time they walk somewhere and doing silly, faintly disgusting things that Lena used to be sure was her attempt at flirting, like faking an attack to get Lena’s boogers. “I bet they’re yummy,” she says, wrestling Lena against the kitchen counter, the both of them flushed red with a case of the giggles and the mac&cheese on the stove finding more and more peculiar ingredients tossed inside. “Come on, just put some in, please!”

If she does that to me again I’ll tell her to stop, Lena thinks. I’ll point it out and she’ll see it and stop, just like the cheek kisses; but she loves it too much, loves Kara too much, and she’s caught between screaming why do you do this to me if you don’t love me and begging her to please never stop.

It all comes to a head when Kara comes into her office unannounced. It’s their fault, really, for breaking all the rules. They got a therapist just to lie to her. Who does that?

Molly sits quietly while they argue in front of her. Lena does not feel like the water in the shoddy vase; she feels rippled, like Kara had thrown in a pebble and now the waves won’t stop coming.

“What was that about?” Kara asks, all her muscles coiled and an affronted crinkle between her blonde brows.

“Exactly what you saw,” Lena says succinctly.

Andrea, fingers curled around her hips, lips quickly becoming familiar again. Andrea, asking for a second chance. Andrea, offering something Kara won’t, might never.

“Are you going out with her?” Kara asks

“Maybe.”

“But you don’t even like her!”

Lena meets Molly’s eyes in a plea of help. She’ll know what to say. She always knows exactly what Lena wants to say before Lena even thinks it, and always phrases it better than she ever could.

“It seems like your jealous.”

Lena gapes at Molly and then at Kara, who scoffs, a variety of noises coming out of her lips- including a psshft that goes on way too long.

“What are you then?” Molly asks. “Angry, sad, scared? Take your time.”

Lena already knows Kara won’t- for all her talk about openness and self introspection, she’s scared of understanding herself more than Lena could ever be.

“Why does she get to kiss you and I don’t?” Kara asks, giving her back to Molly again.

“You’re the one who’s been acting weird about it,” Lena says.

“Because Andrea wants to,” Molly adds in an unaffected tone. “And you don’t.”

“I didn’t say that.”

Lena forgets Molly exists. She doesn’t think she’s ever been this angry at Kara, angry enough to point an accusing finger in her face and yell.

“The very first day we came here Molly asked if you had feelings for me and you said, point blank, no. You didn’t even hesitate!”

“I didn’t know then,” Kara says. “I didn’t realise that it could be... like that. With you.”

“When did you know?” Molly asks. Kara looks over at her, a similar plea for help in her eyes like Lena before her. Like whenever she doesn’t want to answer a question.

Lena channels all her frustration into aggressive finger pointing. “For months I’ve been baring myself to you and you’ve given no indication that you feel the same!”

“Lena, I’m not good at... at that.” Kara grabs Lena’s hand out of the air and eases her finger down. “I’m just going to lose you.”

“So you were never going to do anything about it?” Lena asks.

Kara looks at Molly again.

Lena imagines splashing against the door and breaking it down like an angry wave.

“You’re the one who brought us here and you’re not even doing the work. You’ve been lying to me this whole time, again.”

Kara reaches for her hand and stops her from leaving. “No, I’m sorry,” she says, holding on tighter when Lena tries to pull away. She brings it up to her lips, speaks into Lena’s skin. “Please.”

Lena closes her eyes, feels her will break under Kara’s kisses. “You tell me the truth,” she demands. “Right now.”

//

Kara loves her.

Kara, loves, her.

Kara l o v e s her.

Kara loves her.

She was just scared, that beautiful, kind idiot. She thought it would be easier to leave your girlfriend than your best friend. She didn’t want to lose Lena. She wanted to keep her forever, and ever, and countless evers after that.

They talk it over in multiple sessions before they try it. They talk about Kara’s fears and all the things that could change. Just promise you won’t leave, Kara begs, and she really opens up, finally, for the first time, she lets Lena see her. Lena’s promise is ready on her lips but Molly stops her before she can utter it.

Promises like that are not healthy at the start of a relationship, she says. Actions have to be enough. You each have to trust that the other will give their all.

Lena finds herself agreeing. Kara pouts and argues a little about how they’ve known each other for 5 years and it’s not really the start of a relationship, but there’s no real power behind her words.

Lena promises by giving Kara a long, tight hug. Molly could be a fly on the wall. She could be a speck of dust in the desert. They use up the rest of their session time with Lena’s face buried in Kara’s hair, letting herself unabashedly sniff her honey scented conditioner. Kara’s arms hold her tenderly, the red tip of her nose nuzzling into her neck.

//

Kara shows up to their first date in a blazer that eventually ends up around Lena’s shoulders, revealing a fitted cashmere sweater underneath that totally does it for Lena.

Lena takes her to a parking lot that she’d rented out and decorated with pretty lights and a table stacked with dozens of zinger donuts. Kara eats half of them, the outline of her abs through the sweater never softening.

The speaker she’d fitted to a nearby pole softly plays NSYNC, and Kara coaxes her into a silly little dance that Lena really hopes isn’t secretly being paparazzied.

The end of the night finds them on Lena’s couch. Kara’s sitting beside her, arms bracketing her body, murmuring all the right things, pecking her cheek over and over like the gentlest retribution. Lena palms her biceps, her shoulders, finds Kara’s hands on the cushion and traces from the crook of her thumb up to her index finger. The space between her thighs throbs and gets her hips moving.

Suddenly Kara is something entirely different. Suddenly Lena’s mind is associating her with adjectives like big and, when Lena slips her hand under Kara’s sweater, hard. Suddenly Lena’s thinking of her mouth working on her and her blue eyes looking up at her from down below. Suddenly Lena’s thinking of her hands pressings her down into the mattress, or guiding her hips into motion, or holding her jaw still while she fucks her. Suddenly it all seems possible.

Kara’s kisses stray, soft lips moving to her jaw and neck and ear and then landing closer to her lips.

“Don’t kiss me,” Lena says, and holds Kara close before she can lurch away. “Not until you figure out what you want.”

“Lena, I’m in love with you,” Kara says. “I’m in complete, crazy love with you.“

“Because I’m serious about this,” Lena says. She has no idea what to say to that, and a part of her still doesn’t believe it, but Kara’s eyes are wide and sincere and hold hers like a mission.

“Me too,” Kara says, inching closer until the entirety of Lena’s thigh is pressed against hers and her lips are tantalizingly close. “I know Molly said we shouldn’t make promises but I want to. With you. And I’ll keep them. I love you, I do.”

As Lena kisses her, Kara thinks this is the best decision I’ve ever made. She’s still scared shitless, doesn’t want to lose Lena more than anything in the world, but she wants this and so she’ll keep doing it for as long as Lena will let her, she’ll try to contain the fear and make it more manageable because it’ll never go away, it’s a part of her, this terrifying sense that one day she’ll wake up and everything will be gone- but she loves Lena like she loves Alex and J’onn and Eliza and she trusts that she’ll still be here when she opens her eyes in the morning.

When Kara stands and picks Lena up she makes that wonderful sound that Kara’s only ever heard girls make in movies and always thought was fake, that no such magic could be real, but Lena’s magic and Lena’s real and Kara wants to see her naked, wants to cover her in kisses, wants her unwrapped like a christmas present- no, like a birthday present, like something sacred and just for her.

//

Kara’s silent in her pleasure. She twitches and writhes and orders with her hands, and when she comes it’s a quiet, albeit marvelous affair.

Lena’s loud, moaning and whining and begging, always reaching for the next peak. She comes with Kara’s head trapped between her thighs and then flips them over, riding her face into a next peak. When her mouth lands on Kara’s cunt it’s with her own still grinding down against Kara’s chin, sloppy with two releases and ready for a third. She begs for Kara’s finger in her ass and it’s so tight that Kara doesn’t even manage to get in, only kneading and pressing, but Lena moans and comes in her mouth like it’s the best thing she’s ever felt.

Kara’s spent by the end of it. She thinks she finally understands the term fucked my brains out.

//

“Now I know why other people like kissing so much,” Kara says the next morning. It’s a Saturday, thank god, so there’s no rush for them to get out of bed, and Kara’s quickly getting worked up again having Lena’s naked body squirm against hers. “Although they don’t have a Lena, so it can’t be this good.”

Lena laughs into her kiss. “I imagine someone else out there has a Lena too.”

“Yeah,” Kara says, “but not this one.”

“No. Not this one.”

Lena fits their lips together again, slowing it down whenever Kara kisses her deeper. It’s not long before Kara’s whimpering, her thigh wet with the unhurried grind of Lena’s cunt against it and her hands full of Lena’s breasts.

“I can’t believe I spent the night holding you,” Lena whispers. Her fingers touch Kara’s clit and press gently.

Kara buckles, Lena’s hand slipping away at the movement. “Sorry,” she whispers. “Sensitive.”

“Do you want me to stop?”

“No, just,” Kara trails off, but Lena understand. She smoothes her hand against the side of Kara’s cunt instead, testing it’s give, rubbing her outer lips when Kara hums, the pads of her fingers pressing them against the inner lips that spill out of Kara’s cunt. Lena’s a neat package, everything tucked inside and her clit small and hard to find, but Kara’s messy, an almost purplish pink that spills out to be touched, and her clit is on the larger side, hard to miss. The sides of Lena’s fingers press over it rhythmically as she rubs, and she holds her by the jaw and licks into her mouth, fingers digging into her cheek. Kara’s legs shake and she whimpers Lena’s name as she comes.

Kara knocks her head against the side of Lena’s, breath puffing out in a shudder.

“That feel good?” Lena asks, and Kara nods, her temple moving against Lena’s. “Want to, again?” Lena asks. She knows she’d been a little too much the day before, wants to make Kara feel extra good today for taking care of her so well. “Inside, maybe?”

“Okay,” Kara nods. “Slow at first,” she adds.

Lena’s all too willing to oblige.

//

Kara solar flares the day after. Lena jokes that she wore her out and Kara flushes so red she looks like a siren. It makes Lena so happy that if she weren’t a woman of science she’d believe that seeing Kara for just a minute every day could sustain her better than food and water ever could.

Alex tells Alura and the crystal is projecting a hologram in no time. Alura’s concerned questions are answered with patience and a little sass, and when she’s sure that Kara’s fine she starts teasing about vegetables and flying too fast.

“I don’t know how you did it,” Lena says after. “If i had a chance to go back to my birth family, i wouldn’t miss it.”

She hadn’t thought much of it, didn’t mean for it to sound accusatory or negative, but Kara’s face falls and she covers herself with the blanket.

Lena goes to the kitchen to prepare Kara a cup of tea. She curses herself, briefly considers calling Molly, but she wants to work this out herself, to prove to herself that she can do this. She goes back to the living room with no plan but with a determination to make it right.

Kara’s back is to her, soft sniffles muffled by the cushion. Lena hopes it’s the cold she’d caught and not actual tears. Lena would not know what to do with herself if she made Kara cry again. Just straight up fling herself from the window.

She sets the tray down on the coffee table and perches on the edge of the couch, her hand hesitating over Kara’s shoulder.

“I used to talk a lot,” she says, not entirely sure where she’s going with it. “Things I learned in school, cartoons I liked to watch, stuff like that. Lillian didn’t like it. She used to tell me, if I had two thoughts, I had to choose which one of them was more important and only say it. And then it became one out of three.”

Kara stirs onto her other side so they’re facing each other, listening raptly as Lena talks.

“Until eventually I didn’t talk to her at all,” Lena continues, laughing a little because she can’t relive things like this without doing it. “I just wanted her to love me. My mother.”

Kara reaches up to cup her cheek, her hand gentle and warm.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, I only said that because the Luthors were—“

“Awful,” Kara supplies. “Nasty. Dreadful.”

Lena laughs. “Yes. And you have two wonderful families, and I’m glad that you do.”

“I wish I could switch places with you,” Kara murmurs. She sits up and covers their legs with the blanket, humming into the warmth of the mug. Lena presses a smiling kiss to Kara’s shoulder and feels something settle in her chest. She can do this.

//

Alex finding out goes pretty well, considering. Lena thinks Alura might’ve had something to do with it. She’s more surprised about the whole therapy thing. “You talked about your feelings to a stranger?” she asks, gaping at the both of them like Lena had after seeing Kara’s abs without a barrier between them and her eyes for the first time.

What a glorious, glorious day that was. Lena’s going to celebrate it every day with some more looking and touching. It’s only right.

Alex mostly takes it as a right of passage to embarrass Kara. Lena had been curious of what she was like as a child for forever, and is giddy with this new development, with all these scraps and little pieces of Kara that she wasn’t there to experience.

“—so I ask mom, ‘Why does she get special treatment? We’re the same!’ and Kara looks up, tears like, streaming from her eyes, and she says, ‘You think we’re the same? I have to lift my leg over my head to fart, we are not the same.’”

Lena cackles, tipping sideways into Kara, the wine splashing precariously against the edge of her glass. She puts it down and squeezes the stubborn set of Kara’s shoulders in a hug. “I don’t know how but that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Kara glares at her sister. “I’d like to see you try farting on the moon.”

“You think her farts are cute?” Alex asks Lena, nose twisted disturbedly.

They move on from it to other topics of conversation, though Lena’s fondness never leaves her a moment and she finds herself glued to Kara’s side, increasingly affectionate as her wine glasses are replenished.

She doesn’t realize the effect it has on Kara until days later.

“Why do you spend so long in the toilet?” Lena asks her, an endeared giggle dancing out of her mouth as she remembers the previous week’s anecdote. “Do you poop with a leg above your head?”

The little crinkle between Kara’s eyebrows could be easily concealed by giving her back to Lena, but Kara has no desire to hide her true feelings, wants Lena to understand without her having to say it.

Lena’s smile slowly falters the longer the silence continues. She watches Kara, that familiar hesitance in her expression, the oh shit i’ve done something wrong and I don’t know what to do.

Kara slumps into her body, the stiffness of her spine melting. She fits herself so that she’s somehow small in Lena’s arms, knocking her temple into the soft pillows of her chest.

“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Lena says softly, bemused and guilt ridden that she’d caused the woman that had her heart discomfort. “Did you not like it when Alex told me about that?”

“It’s not that,” Kara says, reading between the lines easily. She’d always been the only one who really understood her. “It’s just... sometimes I’m scared I might’ve made the wrong choice, staying here on Earth, and feeling like I’m different doesn’t help.”

“I’m sorry darling,” Lena buries her face in Kara’s honey scented hair and feels keen regret at hurting her. “I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay, I should’ve said something.”

“No, I should’ve noticed.”

Kara pulls back, smiles down at Lena, the woman she’s more than sure is the love of her life. She thinks back on all that kept them apart before and is grateful, so grateful they could work through it. She wakes up every day choosing to be open and Lena is trying so hard to do the same and it makes her swell with love.

“To be fair, you were pretty drunk.”

Lena laughs. “Yeah, honestly, I was.”

//

Lena always loved the tenderness of loving girls- the way they nuzzle their face against her cheek when they laugh, or nudge their noses together before kissing her, or touch her when they talk. She loves taking care of someone, knowing that she’s giving them the best she has, making them happy, and receiving the same in return.

She’s always treasured Kara like something more precious than gold, more fickle than perception, and Kara is completely to blame for it, for being so beyond even words can describe, for existing as the epitome of tenderness and taking Lena’s beating heart with her wherever she went. That tenderness existed from the very start, a tenderness that had Lena struggling not to cross a line that seemed to be drawn with the faintest graphite, had her struggling not to imagine taking it further, to insert Kara into a fantasy that she fit perfectly in.

Now that the line has been erased, it’s something else entirely. Kara still offers her arm to be held when they walk, she still warms her nose (the only part of her body that grows cold) by nuzzling Lena’s cheek, except Lena now feels comfortable enough to reach out and warm it with her hand, to see Kara’s baby blue eyes from over it and have her heart’s stirring be magnified with Kara’s lips on hers, their warm noses bumping artfully together. Kara still holds her when they watch a movie, but now the hold continues into their sleep, now Lena initiates it and climbs on top of her to demand it. Kara laughs into her cheek giddily, that amazing laugh that could brighten any room, even a funeral, probably.

Lena has always loved the tenderness of loving girls, but loving Kara is a tenderness completely unmatched by any before, because the road was rough, it was rough but they both wanted it enough to make it work, and it gets smoother with time and they just keep getting happier and happier.

She thinks back on the past four years a lot. Mainly the rocky points; when she was at her loneliest; when her and Kara fought; when Kara would pull away and Lena was never sure why; the crippling anxiety that she had unknowingly done something wrong and lost Kara forever.

That determination to make it work has also been there from the start, but they could never truly execute it with all the secrets between them, all the things they held back. All the times Kara hid herself from her.

Lena deserves this, she realizes, she deserves all of it. She started working on being honest and open and deserving of Kara’s love years ago, and now it’s Kara’s turn to catch up, to trust her, to love her back.

And she’s doing a damn good job of it so far. They’re doing so good that Molly thinks that her job is done and they can fend for themselves.

Kara, however, not so much. Her eyes widen and stay like that for a long time, staring at Molly bewilderedly and at an agreeable Lena with accusation.

“But we’re not ready,” she says, as if Molly is stupid to even suggest otherwise.

“I think you are,” Molly says. Usually her smile would bring Kara ease, like things aren’t really as bad as she makes them, but not this time. “Lena agrees.”

“We’re not ready. Lena still needs you!”

“Hey!” Lena’s nose curls, trying not to lose her affront when confronted with Kara’s big, blue eyes.

“You do. She does,” Kara insists. “She won’t even say ‘I love you.’”

“What the hell?” Lena mutters. She tugs at Kara’s hand, urging her to look at her instead of Molly. “I tell you all the time.”

“No, I tell you all the time. You always just say ‘me too.’”

Lena tries to think of the last time she’d said it- this morning -and realizes Kara’s right. “I didn’t realize it,” she admits. “I’m just not used to saying it, I guess. But you know I love you.”

“Knowing it is different from hearing it,” Kara says softly, lips twisting like she’s ashamed of it.

Lena slides across the couch, Kara’s hand still anchored in hers. She could never be affronted, or feel anything other than breathtaking love, when looking into Kara’s eyes. “I love you,” she says, and it feels like something she wouldn’t have been able to do before, something too vulnerable and leaves her too open for attack- but Kara won’t, Kara would never, even at the expense of herself. “I’ll make sure to tell you all the time, every time I feel it. You’ll get sick of it.”

Kara grins, her peculiar defensiveness momentarily dropping. Lena accepts the kiss to her cheek with a flutter of her stomach.

Molly clears her throat and they suddenly remember her presence- they often forget that she’s there. Kara pulls her hand back to cross her arms over her stomach and Lena bites the inside of her cheek, sharing a look with Molly.

“How are you feeling?” Molly asks Kara. “Happy, scared, angry?”

Lena’s heart starts pounding for some reason beyond her understanding. Kara’s lips go pouty and when Lena taps her crossed arms they unfurl willingly, their hands finding each other.

“I’m scared,” Kara finally admits, and Lena recognizes that it’s something she wouldn’t have been able to do before either. Kara liked to think of herself as a solid rock that couldn’t be moved.

“You don’t have to be scared,” Lena tells her.

“You don’t,” Molly reinforces. “You have healthy communication, you can resolve conflict without my help. That was the main problem standing between you two when you first came here, and it doesn’t seem to be one anymore.”

“That’s true,” Kara says reluctantly.

“And I don’t wanna keep going to therapy forever,” Lena adds. “No offense, Molly.”

Kara nudges her, mouth quirked at the corners. “Forever, huh?”

//

Lena really does think Kara will get sick of it, of her constant I Love Yous.

In the mornings, always in the mornings, when she opens her eyes and the first thing she sees is Kara. Sometimes Kara’s back is to her and she says it into her shoulder, tasting the sunlight on her skin. Sometimes Kara’s already up and in the kitchen, arguing with Alex on the phone, the outreaches of their sisterly bond knowing no bounds, and Kara’s eyes narrow at her approaching and go almost threatening, as if daring her to say it. Lena might be happiest during those moments, when she whispers it into Kara’s ear as to not be heard over the phone and Kara sighs, her defiant tone falling into acquiescence and her arms pulling Lena closer.

In the afternoon, always in the afternoon, when Kara’s energy skyrockets into oblivion and her leg wont stop rocking. When Kara brings her lunch, announcing that she’s brought her ‘daily dose of dopamine.’ When Lena surprises her at CatCo, Kara squealing at the donut-zingers and calling it a reenactment of their first date, clearing her desk and leaving the vase of flowers Lena had gifted her in the middle. When Kara laughs and Lena just has to kiss her or she’ll die the gentlest death right there in the newsroom. One time even in the middle of a silly but passionate fight- Lena wanting to drive, Kara wanting to fly -that had devolved into a chaos of lips and teeth so rapidly, Lena could scarcely catch her breath for minutes afterwards.

And at night, always, always at night; sometimes whimpered desperately between orders of bite me and harder, highlighted by the needy, filthy sound of fingers between legs; sometimes murmured gently into Kara’s stomach, her hipbone, the skin that begins to darken as it crooks into the sweetness between her legs. When they’re watching a movie or a show and one of the characters says it and Lena just has to echo it, wants Kara to have a love like the romcoms she’s so fond of.

On particularly bad nights, when Alex has come just a little too close to getting hurt on the field or Kara has fought so hard to get an article published, the way she greets Lena becomes almost expectant, her eyes beseeching but embarrassed.

Lena lays it on so thick it’s disgusting, but Kara never, ever gets sick of it. It seems like the more Lena says it, it the more it fills Kara with a hunger for more and more and more. Lena thinks it’s a wonder Kara hasn’t started ordering it, sinking fingers into her mouth to force her jaw open and demanding say you love me, say it.

//

Molly had refused Kara’s enthusiastic offer of we should be friends! best friends! with surprising will power when faced with Kara’s universally feared pout. Lena gets it- Molly was their therapist first and foremost, and blurring the lines could lead to unnecessary complications. It doesn’t stop her from sending a formal invitation any time L-Corp hosts a gala and hoping, for Kara’s sake more than anything, but also for her own, that she’ll show up.

Molly doesn’t accept the invitations for so long that Lena starts losing hope, but she keeps sending them, and one day it pays out.

Lena nearly misses her, so unrecognizable with her auburn hair in an elegant updo and her curves accentuated with a silky black dress. “I think that’s Molly,” she whispers to Kara, and her girlfriend of 6 months whips her head around and travels across the venue so fast Lena’s half-sure everyone in there just found out her super secret identity.

She gives them a moment, shaking hands and making nice with investors, but when Kara’s excitement reaches such volumes that everyone in the room is about to know every detail of their lives, Lena hurries to gently shush her with a hand on her lower back.

“Hey Molly,” Lena greets with a grin. “I see you finally decided to show up.”

“And we got a rabbit,” Kara continues, at a much lower volume, and goes on explaining how that rabbit became two became three, how they decided on their names, how rude the spotted one is becoming. “They live up to 12 years, so I’m not worried about that yet, but I keep thinking about it you know? But never mind that, that’s too sad—“

Lena hides her smile in her champagne glass, rolling her eyes as Kara brings up the rabbits’ life span for the millionth time. “Darling, can you get me a refill?” she asks, arching a sharp brow when Kara hesitates.

“Thought you might need a minute,” she tells Molly, laughing with her at Kara’s retreating back. “We also moved together, you know, but for some reason Kara thinks the seriousness of our relationship is proportional to us getting a rabbit.”

Molly laughs along, pulling Lena in for a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. “I think she’s prepping you to get a dog.”

“Oh my god, you’re totally right,” Lena says, privately amazed at Kara’s sneakiness.

“Don’t tell her this, but I really missed her.”

“I get it.” Lena‘s hit with the sudden urge to chase Kara down and say it- I love you. “Is that why you decided to come?”

“Wanted to check in,” Molly shrugs, “See how you’re doing.”

“Molly I’m... fucking amazing.”

The two laugh again, leaning into each other for support, and Kara approaches them with a full champagne glass and a grin, demanding they let her in on the joke.