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Bizarre Love Triangle

Chapter Text

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

“I’ll Be Your Mirror” - The Velvet Underground

 

“Would you like to go to the opera with me?”

Surprised, Kara looks up from her surf-and-turf dinner. (No ordinary surf-and-turf is offered here, a high-end, three-Michelin-star French seafood restaurant. This one consists of a piece of tender, buttery Wagyu steak accompanied by grilled melt-in-your-mouth escolar drizzled with a soy-lemon emulsion.)

“I didn’t know you were into opera.”

Lifting her glass of white wine by its stem, Lena replies, “I’m not an enthusiast, but I’ve seen my share. But this time, one of our board members is in town and he’s a fan. I usually leave the schmoozing to Andrea, but I like Niles. We have a box for six. I’ll be going, Niles is coming with his wife and Andrea’s bringing her boyfriend.”

“That leaves room for one more. I’m an excellent mathematician,” deadpans Kara. “I’d love to come. I’ve never been before. This’ll be so fun!”

As she sips her wine, Lena fondly peers over the rim of her glass at the woman before her, thinking that she’s never quite met anyone so easily enthused. Everything is an exciting event for Kara. Lena was half-surprised to discover that Kara doesn’t roll out of bed every morning and immediately break into song and dance. It’s like dating a puppy in human form.

No. Not dating. Something else.

She scrutinizes the woman before her, her mind busy trying to come up with a proper substitute when Kara glances up at her, all twinkling blue eyes and shy smile even though Lena’s the one who’s been caught staring.

And then the label just doesn’t seem to matter.

***

Lounging on Kara’s bed, Alex watches as her little sister riffles through her closet, pulling out dresses for her approval.

“Lena’s taking you to the opera. With her couple friends,” Alex recaps, sounding tired. “And this is all after she takes you to one of the fanciest restaurants in the city. Or, well, more than one, because it sounds like you two are working your way through all the best restaurants in the city.”

“Yup.”

Kara turns around, holding up a long beige dress with poofy shoulders, draping it across her body. Alex shakes her head, and she puts it back in the closet.

“Yup, just totally normal friends with benefits behavior.”

“Oh, like you would know anything about it.” Kara pulls out a salmon-colored dress with thin straps and a bow at the front.

Alex shakes her head again. “Am I seriously being made fun of for never having gotten myself in a ridiculous, emotionally stunted ‘friends with benefits’-” she breaks out the air quotes. “-arrangement when said arrangement is actually just dating?”

“I’m not making fun, I’m only pointing out that you’re not really the best person to say what normal looks like in this situation, because you don’t know, do you?” Kara pulls out two more dresses: an emerald-colored slip dress with a lace trim and a less revealing pink knee-length dress with an intricate lace overlay.

Alex makes a face and immediately points to the more conservative pink dress, which only brings Kara to put it back in the closet.

Annoyed with her little sister’s bratty defiance, Alex directs impatiently, “Wear the pink one.”

“I look really good in the green one.”

Alex sighs in resignation, rephrasing in a way that she knows will work. “Yes, you do, and Lena will love it, so save it for a special occasion. You’re going to the opera today, wear the less revealing one.” When Kara hums in agreement and swaps out the dresses, Alex mumbles, “Because having special occasions is a thing that makes sense for a casual hookup.”

But Kara’s skipping out of the room with her pink dress, giving no indication that she even hears Alex.

***

A limo picks up Kara at her apartment and takes her to Lincoln Center. Lena’s already waiting when the car pulls up, and steps forward to open the door for Kara, offering a hand to help her climb out. She’s in a form-fitting, off-the-shoulder black cocktail dress which dips at the cleavage, and completes the look with her hair pulled back in a severe bun. Kara turns bright red as soon as she gets a good look at her.

“Oh my god,” she mutters, trying and failing not to ogle.

Grinning in satisfaction, Lena tilts her head to the side, passing a hand over her dress. “You like?”

“Um. Yes. I like very much.” She forces herself to look up to meet Lena’s eyes. “You look, uh, I mean. Yeah. It’s unfair how good you look.”

Kara suddenly feels a bit inadequate. Standing next to Lena, who seems to somehow effortlessly exude grace and sex at the same time, she, in her pink lacy dress, feels like a little girl playing dress up as a Disney princess. But then Lena steps into her space, places her hands on Kara’s hips to tug her closer, and kisses her.

When Lena pulls back, she whispers, “And you look gorgeous.”

Keeping Lena close in her arms, Kara asks, “Do we really have to go in?”

Lena chuckles. “What’s the point of getting all dressed up and looking this good just to have you drag me home right away?”

“What’s the point of me looking this good if I can’t convince you to let me drag you home right away?” Kara counters.

Fondly, Lena runs her hand across Kara’s torso, brushing off imaginary lint for the sake of copping a feel. “I promise I’ll make it worth your while.”

“So unfair. You know you can get me to do anything in that dress.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind.” Taking Kara by the hand, Lena leads them inside.

They find their way to their seat, a box on the balcony level where Andrea’s already pitching Niles on a startup L-Corp’s looking to acquire, while her boyfriend chats with Niles’s wife. Introductions are made and small talk exchanged until the theater’s lights start flashing. They take their seats. There are two rows in the box, four seats in front and two in the back, which Lena and Kara end up occupying.

Lights dim. Music swells. The opera chronicles the life of an Egyptian pharaoh and Kara has no idea what they’re singing about. Not that it matters because the set and costumes are dazzling and the singing impressive even if incomprehensible. Kara’s mesmerized, but, judging by the way Lena’s fidgeting beside her, her companion is considerably less entranced.

When the lights come up at the first intermission, Kara asks, “Do you not like it?”

Lena gives a small shrug. “I’ve seen it a few times, that’s all.”

Lena chats up Niles during the break, and although Kara doesn’t quite follow the specifics of the project they’re talking about, she can at least tell that Lena’s pleased by the exchange. When the lights start flashing, they all retake their seats.

Halfway into the second act, there’s shuffling in the first row as Niles and his wife rise. As they leave, Niles whispers an apology to Lena, explaining that his wife isn’t feeling well. When they’re gone, Andrea turns and gestures at the now open seats next to her, but Lena shakes her head, leaving Kara puzzled at the declination.

Kara gets some clarification when she feels Lena’s hand upon her leg, working beneath the dress to touch skin. Lena caresses the flesh there lazily, almost absentmindedly. Stiffening at the unexpected gesture, Kara sneaks a glance. In the dimness, she can just make out Lena’s placid profile, gazing disinterestedly down at the stage as her hand makes its way to Kara’s inner thigh.

Nervously, Kara glances about. The boxes in this theater are only divided by a low wall. Still, they’re in the back row of the last box, with a low partition immediately in front of their seats, providing partial obscurity. The theater’s so dark that Kara can barely make out the people sitting in the nearby general audience section on the same level, but she knows that they’re there. That knowledge thrills her as much as it terrifies.

“Lena,” she whispers.

Still watching the stage, Lena whispers back, “I told you I’d make it worth your while. Would you like that?”

Kara could say no. She should say no. It’s the sensible thing to do here. But sometimes, a hot girl in a tight bosom-enhancing dress is all that’s needed for very sensible people to abandon said senses.

So instead of saying no, Kara leans back and slides down in her seat, spreading herself apart to give better access. Lena’s attention is still directed toward the show, but a small smirk crosses her face as she slides her hand higher up.

She slowly strokes and caresses, taking her time getting to her destination. It’s unsurprising that, when she finally gets there, she finds the thin barrier there already wet. Through the damp material of Kara’s underwear, she finds and rubs the hardened nub. Kara, choking back a groan, sinks further down in her seat. Lena rubs in agonizingly unhurried, delicate circles, occasionally pressing down firmly when she feels like it, eliciting squirms and stifled whimpers from the blonde.

Lena takes her hand away momentarily to grip the inside of Kara’s thigh, tugging it open as far as her dress would allow. She goes back to work. This time, she pushes aside Kara’s underwear and touches her finger directly to her clit.

Kara inhales sharply. Grabs her armrest. Fingers digging in.

When Lena pushes her fingers inside, Kara groans. Soft, but loud enough for Andrea to quarter-turn her head. Lena stills. Waits to see if Andrea will turn around. But after a brief pause, Andrea shifts, directing her attention fully back to the show.

Lena starts moving again. She perches forward on the edge of her seat to get a better angle, reaching slightly back to delve her fingers into Kara’s heat. Kara slides down further to direct those fingers where she needs them.

Lena leans over to whisper, “There’s a sustained note coming up. Pace yourself.”

As if Kara has any choice in the matter when Lena’s clearly calling the shots and Kara’s just helplessly along for the ride. Lena slows her ministrations and it’s all Kara can do to stop from crying. Impassively, Lena watches the opera, waiting for the right moment. She knows the piece well, and she knows Kara’s body well. When the time comes, she starts thrusting faster; the music swells, and Kara along with it.

Kara clamps both hands down over her mouth to stifle her moan as, on stage, the countertenor makes a prolonged and thankfully much louder cry of his own.

Lena withdraws her hand, carelessly wiping at the hem of her own dress.

Kara sits in a dazed slump for the remainder of act two.

When the lights come up for the second intermission, Kara’s recovered sufficiently to at least look presentable, wardrobe-wise, but not very much can be done about the stunned expression on her face.

“Should we get a drink?” Lena asks breezily, as if she didn’t just fingerbang another woman in the middle of an opera at Lincoln Center.

Numbly, Kara nods. She lets Lena lead her by the hand out their box to find the bar. While standing in line, Kara tells her (again) about the pitch she’s working on for CatCo.

“So what I’m really interested in is how the governor seems to have misused contingency funds, but I know CatCo’s not going to be interested in that angle,” Kara prattles off, staring off into the distance. Lena’s heard this before, but she says nothing. This is Kara’s process, working out some puzzle in her mind. “But I’m pretty sure that a small portion of the money went to a plastic surgeon and there’s been rampant speculation that the governor’s had work done on his calves. It’s not what I’d really want to write about, but if that’s what grabs people’s attention, maybe that’ll get them interested in the contingency fund.” Kara stops herself, finally realizing that she’s said all this before. “I’m sorry, I’m going on again. I know I’ve told you about this before.”

“Not at all. I love watching you work. You have a process and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Giddy and flattered, Kara presses a long, appreciative kiss to Lena’s lips.

At the concession stand, Lena gets them both wine, and a pack of cookies for Kara, because these operas are ungodly long and she’s going to need a snack if she’s going to make it through the third hour of this thing. They find a corner to tuck themselves away in, sipping their drinks and enjoying their snack.

“Cookie in the street,” Kara says, holding up a chocolate chip cookie pinched between two fingers. “Nookie between the sheets.”

Lena just blinks at her. “What’s a nookie?”

“Nookie! You know, like, um,” Kara gestures vaguely. “Gettin’ busy.”

“How are you constantly these making food-related sex jokes when you can’t even say the word sex?”

“I have layers. Like an onion.”

“Don’t drag Shrek into this.”

“Oh, that reference you get, but not nookie?”

“Of course. One is a reference to a work of art and the other is a word that you made up.”

“I did not make it up! Limp Bizkit did! I think.”

Lena wrinkles her nose in a display of skepticism. “Okay, now I know you’re making things up. That doesn’t sound remotely real.”

“What?! They were really popular back in the day. How have you never heard of them? Fred Durst? Backwards red baseball cap and terrible goatee? Any of this ringing a bell?”

Lena shrugs carelessly. “It vaguely sounds familiar, but I can’t say for sure. Guess we all have our blind spots. Should I look them up?”

“Oh, absolutely not,” Kara says quickly. “Stick with Shrek.”

Their conversation is cut short then, by a voice ringing out, “Lena?”

Although it’s unfamiliar to Kara, it’s clearly not so for Lena, who immediately stiffens.

Kara finds the source of the voice. The woman is slight, almost waifish, but nevertheless cuts an imposing figure. Her perfect posture, combined with the haughty expression on her angular, model-beautiful face, give her an aura of regality, even though she’s donning a slinky, decidedly un-regal dress which shows off her many tattoos.

“Veronica,” Lena greets. Her voice is steady and cool, but Kara notices her clasping her hands together before her, something Kara knows that she only does when she’s nervous.

Veronica knows it too. Her eyes drift down to Lena’s clasped hands, then smiles in satisfaction. “You look well.” She rakes her eyes over Lena’s body. “Very well.”

Kara clears her throat, steps closer and loops her arm through Lena’s. “Hi, I’m Kara.”

The glance that Veronica spares her is perfunctory, dismissive, and makes Kara feel like the smallest thing on earth. Veronica turns her attention back to Lena, completely ignoring Kara’s existence. And maybe Kara could be fine with that, but then Veronica looks at Lena like that. Like she knows exactly what Lena looks like underneath that black dress and she’s cherishing reliving the memory in vivid detail. And that triggers a feeling inside Kara, a feeling she’s unaccustomed to feeling: white-hot blind rage. She takes a reflexive step forward, ready to tell off this woman and her vulgar stare. Then she feels Lena’s touch. Lena covers Kara’s hand with her own, squeezing gently, reassuring. And Kara settles herself, deciding that this is a matter for Lena to handle.

Veronica, still with that predatory look, coos at Lena, “How are you, love?”

“Fine, thank you,” Lena answers crisply with polite detachment. “And you?”

“Better now.” The corner of Veronica’s lips quirks up in a semi-smirk. “I’m surprised to see you here. Haven’t you seen this one?”

“Business outing,” Lena says flatly, clearly uninterested in prolonging the conversation.

Far from deterred, Veronica only looks intrigued by the reticence. “Poor dear. Still on the clock? I wish you wouldn’t push yourself so hard. It would do you good to have some fun. Relax. Loosen up a bit.”

“Thank you for your concern.” Lena smiles, but there’s an edge to her tone.

Veronica rolls her eyes. “Sweetheart, don’t be like that. I’m just worried about you.”

Frosty and with a hint of spite, Lena returns, “But that’s not really your business anymore, is it?”

Her intrigue quickly morphing into irritation, Veronica scowls. “For god’s sake, Lena. I’m still allowed to care about your well-being, aren’t I? Can’t we be civil to each other?”

“Can we? Last time we saw each other, you called me an upright bitch.”

The corners of Veronica’s lips curl in a sneer. “Well, you were being an uptight bitch.”

“Fine.” Lena musters a wide, fake smile. “Thank you, Veronica, your concern has been noted. Have a good evening.”

Veronica’s lips press into a thin line, nostrils flaring as she breathes in sharply. “God, I’d almost forgotten how difficult you are. To think that I was happy to see you.”

Lena lets out a dry, sarcastic chuckle. “I’m sorry, do you expect me to be pleasant while you stand there and insult me?”

“I did no such thing,” Veronica hisses. “All I said was that you’re working too hard. Fuck me for caring, right?”

Growing heated, Lena’s cool demeanor cracks as she unloads, “Right, drab, joyless Lena. She needs to learn how to have fun, be fun, and stop being so uptight all the time. Believe me, Veronica, you made your opinion of me perfectly clear during our relationship.”

Veronica makes a great show of rolling her eyes. “Lena, you are, once again, completely blowing things out of proportion. You are so exhausting with your sensitivities.”

“And you’re relentlessly, unnecessarily critical.”

“Then give me less to criticize!” Veronica booms, drawing the attention of bystanders. “God knows there’s plenty of material there.”

“Okay, I’ve heard enough.” Kara steps in front of Lena, as if she could physically shield her from words. “Veronica, Lena’s said goodnight. I think you should do the same.” When Veronica continues standing there, glaring at Lena, Kara takes another step forward. “Do you still remember your manners or do I have to remind you?”

Finally, Veronica deigns to look at Kara, and does so with disdain. It’s obvious that she finds this situation ludicrous - was this Malibu Barbie, standing there in her pink frilly dress with her hands on her hips, seriously trying to intimidate her at the opera? It’s laughable.

But. Veronica also sees this look in Kara’s eyes, a stern sureness that tells her that, no matter how ludicrous she finds the concept, Malibu Barbie would in fact kick her ass in full view of everyone at Lincoln Center if she lingered. Her sense of self-preservation overrides her urge to poke at her ex.

She nods stiffly. “Good night, Lena.”

When Kara turns around, she sees Lena standing there, eyes glassy with gathering tears that she’s trying to restrain by not blinking. Kara gingerly takes her by the arm.

“Hey. Let’s get out of here.”

***

Still in her fancy dress, Lena’s curled up on the edge of her sofa, staring out the window at the cityscape before her. Kara emerges from the kitchen with a steaming mug of chamomile tea, which she sets on the side table. She takes a seat on the sofa next to Lena.

“You know that what Veronica said was nonsense, right? All that stuff about you being uptight or whatever, that’s completely crazy. I mean, you made me come in the middle of an opera. I promise you, that was not joyless for me.”

That elicits a small laugh from Lena, but the levity is fleeting and she soon looks forlorn again. “She’s… not entirely wrong. I’ve been known to be aloof. Reserved. My work has been my life, it hasn’t left me time for much else. I’m afraid that it’s made me rather dull.”

Kara frowns, disagreement written all over her face. “But you know everything. You always know what I’m talking about, no matter what the subject is. Well, I mean except for your bizarre blindspot to the existence of Limp Bizkit, but I really think that’s a blessing.”

“I read a lot and I read fast. That’s not the same thing as being interesting.”

Kara’s frown deepens, crossing from disagreement into complete incredulity, her face basically saying what the actual fuck. “You think you’re not interesting? You, Lena Luthor, the mega-hot genius billionaire who runs her own company devoted to developing cutting-edge, life-saving medicine and technologies, isn’t interesting? If you’re not interesting, then who the heck actually is?”

Feeling delighted but embarrassed by praise, Lena ducks her head. “There’s a difference between having interesting qualities that might make for a decent profile in the Sunday Times and being interesting enough to be around in person.”

“If that’s the case, then why am I hanging around you so much?”

“I ask myself that all the time.”

“No, Lena, stop.” Kara scoots closer, taking both of Lena’s hands in her own. “That’s not true and you know it.”

“Is it?” Lena questions in a low voice, almost to herself. She draws a deep breath, and offers an unconvincing smile. “Veronica has a way of getting under my skin. In case that wasn’t obvious.”

Softly, Kara asks, “Why is that?”

“I don’t know. Just our dynamic, I suppose. It always escalates. She says something, I say something, we needle at each other without meaning to, until it all boils over. Then we’re fighting. Or fucking.”

Kara hesitates as she contemplates whether she should ask this next question. Whether she really wants to know the answer. In the end, her curiosity trounces her reservations. “Do you love her?”

Lena emits a noise, half-hum, half-grunt. “I don’t know. Which I suppose might mean no. Our relationship was so volatile, I don’t know if love is the appropriate term for it. It often felt like I needed her even when I couldn’t stand to be near her. Does a junkie love heroin?”

“No. You can’t call that love,” Kara declares decisively. “Love isn’t supposed to destroy you.”

“Isn’t it? My mother loved my father, so much so that she willingly became a shadow, living off of the crumbs of his affection while he lived his life with his real family. Lionel loved Lillian, he tortured her by bringing me, his bastard daughter, into her house. He supposedly loved me too, but never bothered to tell me that he was my real father. Lillian loves Lex, he spends most of his time with his therapist talking about her. Lex loves me, but he also says things to me that hurts me more than anyone else ever could. If love isn’t supposed to be destructive, then no one in my family knows what love is.”

It may be a little late, but Kara remembers that, despite her orphan-girl background, her own life can nevertheless be considered idyllic by comparison. The difference being that Kara’s always been surrounded by people who love her, and who can do so kindly. It’s a blessing not afforded to everyone, and clearly not Lena.

“I don’t know what your family’s like,” she now says gently. “But I think I know you pretty well by now and… I think you do know what love is. Look at Andrea and Sam. You haven’t destroyed them, have you?”

With transparent hesitation, Lena asks in earnest, “Is that the same thing?”

“Of course it is. Whoever said love must be romantic or familial? I’ve seen the way you are with them. And… if I can be a bit presumptuous, the way you are with me.” When Lena’s hesitation immediately shifts to apprehension, Kara quickly adds, “I’m not saying that you love me. Just that, you’re so good to me. I just, I can’t imagine you being anything less than the generous, giving soul that you are when you are in love. You’re not destructive. It’s not who you are.”

Silence settles over them as Lena struggles to absorb those words, her heart wanting to, but some dark spot in the recess of her mind telling her that something that good about herself can’t be true.

“What’s it like?” She asks after a long moment. “For you and Mike.”

“Umm…” Kara’s suddenly drawing a blank. She’s never really thought about how to describe it. “It’s comfortable. He’s known me a really long time, so… there’s like a huge part of my life that nobody gets except him. Sometimes I don’t even know how I fit in here, in this city. Like everyone’s so sophisticated and in-the-know, and I, um… well, it can feel like I’m just a girl from Krypton who’s lost in the big city and out of my depth. And I think Mike’s the only one I know who really understands how that feels. Where we come from is just so different from where we are now. It, it’s almost like we’re aliens here, the last two of our species, just trying to survive.”

“You can really be yourself with him,” Lena says, halfway between a statement and a question.

“Yes,” Kara answers. Then: “Well, mostly. Sort of. He doesn’t… I mean, we don’t agree on everything, so sometimes there are things that I’ll only tell Alex or my friends. But I think that’s normal?”

Lena shrugs. “If you’re looking for the definition of normal, you’re looking in the wrong place. I really wouldn’t know what a normal relationship looks like.”

Kara is quiet then. She stares at the untouched mug on the side table, the steam rising from the top, waging an inner battle over what she’s about to say.

“Lena,” she tries, “have you thought about, um, well, if you think you’re ready, that is… have you maybe thought about trying to date again?”

Lena turns to her with an appraising eye. “What would that mean?” Lena juts her chin at Kara, gesturing between the two of them. “We stop?”

“I- I guess.” Kara stares down at her primly folded hands in her lap. “If you wanted to… um, find someone that you can build a connection with… well, you’d have to start dating again and then this probably wouldn’t help. So, yeah, we stop.”

Coolly, Lena asks, “Is that what you think I should do?”

“It’s really up to you.” Kara pauses as she wrings her hands, as if physical movement could help tame her instincts. But it’s no use. Reaching a resolve, she steadies her hands and looks up. “No. Selfishly, the answer is no, because I like what we’re doing and I don’t want to stop. But if that’s what you want, then I just have to be a good friend and support you.”

Lena reaches for her tea, wrapping both hands around the warm ceramic and taking a small sip. She stares out the window, turning the question over in her mind. Beside her, Kara sits, waiting for an answer, one hand curled up in a loose ball, fingers fretfully rubbing together.

At long last, Lena says, “I don’t think I’m ready yet.”

And Kara lets out a long sigh of relief, suddenly feeling like she can breathe again. She smiles so wide that her cheeks hurt. She knows that she must look silly, but she can’t find it within her to care. “Am I a terrible person to say that I’m relieved to hear that?”

“Not at all. Anyhow, I don’t see the rush. We have- what, three months before Mike gets home? We’re both enjoying ourselves right now. Why not make the most of it?”

Kara doesn’t even try to hide the giddy grin on her face. “Okay, then. We’ll continue enjoying ourselves.” They sit in companionable silence, watching the city night, Lena sipping away at her cooling tea.

They can enjoy the rest of their night like this, if only Kara’s able to move on. But she can’t. Not since she saw Veronica, and a million thoughts and questions burrowed their way into her way like parasitic worms, refusing eradication despite her best efforts.

“So… Veronica,” she starts slowly. “She’s um, she’s really pretty.” Lena, still staring out the window, unaware that anything’s amiss, hums in agreement. To Kara, the hum plays like a siren, screeching in her ears, and she says, “And… uh, confident. Bold. She walks around like she owns the place.”

“Well, she does, in a sense,” Lena replies. “Her family’s been a major donor to Lincoln Center for decades.”

“Oh,” Kara murmurs quietly. “She’s also obscenely wealthy. That’s… that’s terrific.” It shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It’s fine that Lena’s ex is wealthy, intimidating, graceful, sophisticated, and a host of other things that Kara doesn’t see in herself. That’s. Just. Fine. She smiles to emphasize how Fine it is. “Well, good? Um, it’s nice to have common ground?”

Lena scoffs derisively at the idea. “That’s about the only thing we had in common. It’s a miracle we lasted as long as we did.”

Kara should let it go. There’s no use in probing. But by the time she thinks it through, she already hears herself asking, “So why did you? If you’re so different and she’s not very nice to you, then… why did you stay together?”

“Veronica…” Lena pauses, a small, wry laugh escaping her. “She… has her talents.”

“What does-” Kara cuts herself off as realization sinks in. “Oh, you mean, like with, um.” Lena smugly arches a brow, clearly having no intentions of helping her out. So Kara has no choice but to say, “You know, the nookie.”

“Darling, I really am quite fond of you, but if you keep calling it that, I’m not going to be able to have sex with you anymore.”

Kara wrinkles her nose, knowing that she’s been cornered. “Ugh, fine, sex. That’s what Veronica’s good at?” And when Lena nods with a reminiscing smile, Kara can’t help but follow up, “Um… how good are we talking about?”

And Lena sees right through her. “It’s not a competition. Anyway, it’s not the technique, it’s the attitude.”

To Kara’s mind, she doesn’t see how she’s not supposed to be offended by this. “What’s wrong with my attitude?”

Thinking that this would help, Lena replies, “There’s nothing wrong. It’s just different.”

“Calling something ‘just different’ is what people say when something’s clearly worse.”

“But it is just different. I have absolutely zero complaints about our time in bed.”

And for some insane, unknown reason, Kara presses on, “Then tell me what’s different about what Veronica does?”

Lena signs, resigning herself to the fact that she’s somehow triggered Kara’s competitive side. A side that she didn’t even know Kara had. “Veronica tended to be… well, dominating.”

“And that’s what you like?”

“Sometimes. I spend all day being the boss, telling other people what to do, and it’s nice to have someone else take the reins on occasion, especially after a stressful board meeting. I don’t prefer it all the time, but, of course, the problem there was that Veronica only had one speed.”

With perplexion and a dash of hurt, Kara asks, “Why didn’t you tell me that’s what you like?” Very pointedly, Lena looks her up and down. The girl in her pink, frilly, Disney princes dress. Kara gets it. “Hey, don’t judge a book by its cover.” When Lena gives her a look of complete skepticism, Kara huffs in concession. “Well, you could’ve at least let me try.”

“I didn’t want to ask you for anything you’re not comfortable with. And, like I said, I truly have no complaints. Let me amend that: I thoroughly enjoy myself. We have great sex, Kara.”

Yes, Kara can accept that and be done with it. But not aiming for 110% just doesn’t seem to be in her nature. At least not when it comes to this. “What are we talking about here? You like being told what to do in bed?”

Lena hums in the affirmative. “When the occasion calls for it. It’s like a form of stress relief. On those occasions, I like a bit of assertiveness. Aggression, even. But only on those occasions. And in case it’s not clear, I really love what we already do in bed. I don’t need anything more than what you’re willing to give.”

“But if I can do more, I’m willing to try.”

As much as the primal, lustful part of Lena is crying out for joy and eager to go down this road, her rational side dominates, and that side of her cares more about Kara’s comfort more than her own fantasies. “Is this about Veronica? Because I can’t emphasize enough what a non-entity she is to me. There’s zero competition between the two of you. You don’t need to do anything more to ‘measure up’ or whatever this is.”

“No, this is about you. Like I said, you’re so good and kind and wonderful, I just, I…” Kara falters, aware that I just want to do anything I can to make you happy seems to skirt the line of their established emotional boundaries. “I’d just like to try it out. So, on those specific occasions, what do you like?”

With an acquiescing sigh, Lena starts, “Okay. Um, well, I like having my hair pulled. And you can do it without asking. Tying me up, holding me down, that’s all okay. Being pushed around a bit, but nothing extreme.”

“That’s it?” Kara asks with a confounded frown. “I can totally do that stuff.”

“All right.” Despite what she says, Lena has a hard time picturing Kara being dominant in bed. This is the woman who has trouble saying the word sex. But if Kara wants to try, Lena certainly won’t stop her. “Maybe another night? I’m quite tired. Is it okay if we just go to sleep?”

“Yeah, of course! It’s more than okay.” Kara looks slightly scandalized that Lena even has to ask. She wonders, briefly, just how many people Lena’s been with have respected her boundaries. “Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be more than happy to help you with your stress relief. But for now, do you want to go to sleep?”

And that’s what they do. They get ready for bed and crawl into bed together with practiced ease as if they’ve been doing this for years and not months. Lena curls up on her side; Kara is spooned against her, body contoured to hers, holding her tight as they both drift off to sleep.