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Bizarre Love Triangle

Chapter Text

Come on now, try and understand
The way I feel under your command
Take my hand as the sun descends
They can't touch you now
Because the night belongs to lovers
Because the night belongs to lust

“Because the Night” - Patti Smith

 

 

“Kara,” Nia says.

She’s standing at the entrance of Kara’s cubicle, speaking at a normal volume, but Kara’s eyes are glued to her computer screen, giving no signs that she’s aware of Nia’s presence.

“Kara?” When that still doesn’t elicit a response, Nia taps the blonde on her shoulder. “Hey, Kara? Do you want lunch?” Kara finally grunts.

Curious now, Nia peers at the computer screen to see what’s entranced her friend.

“Veronica Sinclair,” Nia reads aloud. “Wow, she’s stunning. Are you booking models for the next issue? I thought Franklin was doing that.”

To Nia’s surprise, that shakes Kara out of her stupor as she finally pushes away from her desk, swiveling around in her chair, annoyance clear on her face. “Okay, she’s not that pretty.”

Nia regards Kara in puzzlement, and glances back at the screen to double check. No, this woman is that pretty. Also, the picture that Kara has on screen is definitely from a magazine. “So not a model?”

Kara’s agitation visibly heightens as she snaps, “Okay, fine! It looks like she’s done some modeling! I guess just for fun because it’s not like she needs the money. Whatever, she’s naturally amazing, okay?”

Nia folds her arms across her chest, now more concerned about Kara than curious about the woman on screen. “Uh, what’s happening?”

The question seems to shake Kara out of whatever rage-funk she’s in, and she instantly looks chagrined. Reluctantly, she shares, “That’s… that’s Lena’s ex.”

Suddenly, everything makes sense. “Ah.”

“I was just curious,” Kara says defensively in response to nothing. “We ran into her at the opera the other night. And… I don’t know. I was just curious.”

“I get it,” Nia reassures her. “I’d be curious too. And you know, you’re right, she’s not that pretty.”

“No, she is,” Kara says dejectedly, slumping in her seat. “You should see her in person.”

Nia’s at a loss for what to do. She wants to say something, anything, to console her friend, but she’s not sure what that something would be. Normally, she would emphasize the positive attributes of the relationship, “you’re the one Lena wants to be with” and so forth. But there’s no relationship here. At least not according to Kara.

She tries anyway: “Hey, she’s an ex for a reason, right?”

“It- it doesn’t matter.” Kara tries to chase away her dour mood with a forced smile. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Lunch?” Nia suggests.

“Yeah, sure.” Nodding, Kara reaches for her purse.

Their journey out of Kara’s cubicle ends before it even begins, with the appearance of their boss, Snapper Carr, who strides over and leans over the edge of the cubicle’s low wall to peer down at Kara.

“Hey,” he greets gruffly. “That story about the governor’s secret plastic surgeon? Not terrible. Start scaring up some sources and let’s see what you can come up with.”

Most people - normal people - smile with their faces. Kara Danvers does it with her entire body, levity and enthusiasm infusing her whole being, bolting straight up in her seat as she grins maniacally.

“Are you serious? I’m getting the feature?”

Snapper curls the edges of his lips, wincing in disdain. “Cool it, ponytail. You haven’t gotten anything yet. Do the work, show us what you have, and if you can actually string a coherent thought together, we might think about considering it.”

Undeterred, Kara squeals loudly. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Snapper sighs. As he moves away, he mutters under his breath, “I regret this already.”

“Congrats!” Nia enthuses when her grumpy boss is safely out of earshot. “That’s amazing! We should celebrate! So, lunch?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kara’s nodding perfunctorily as she takes out her phone. “Hey, can I meet you downstairs in like ten minutes? I just have to call Lena first.”

Delicately, and as non-judgmentally as possible, Nia questions, “Lena? Why?”

“Oh, well, I’ve talked her ear off so much while I was working on this pitch, so…” Kara shrugs, thumb already hovering over Lena’s name in her favorites. “Um, she would just want to know right away.”

Nia resists every impulse she has to say what’s on her mind. Alex’s done more than enough of that. She simply nods.

“Sure. See you in ten.”

Unable to contain herself, Kara’s already dialed and holding her phone to her ear. As Nia walks away, she hears Kara’s perky, high-pitched, breathless, cloying, greeting to her so-called friend:

“Heeeeey! It’s me! Guess what?”

***

Alex finally loses it on a Friday.

The night starts pleasantly enough. Kara comes over for dinner. She helps Kelly in the kitchen, cutting up a head of cauliflower while Kelly prepares a garlic honey mustard dressing for their salad. Alex comes home from her shift at the hospital, takes a quick shower, and sits down at the dinner table with her people. Kelly tells them about her day at work. Alex tells them about an angry, unruly patient who tried to flush her stethoscope down the toilet. (“But it’s okay,” she tells them. “I mean, he is only four.”) Kara tells them about how Lena’s been in San Francisco for a work trip for the last couple of days and texting her pictures of burritos to make her jealous. Alex manages to listen without making any remarks about how weird it is for “friends” to keep such close tabs on each other.

Everything’s pleasant.

Until Kelly raises this: “Should we go out for dessert?”

Alex agrees. “I could go for some babka. Kara, you coming?”

“No, that’s okay, it’s getting late, I’m going to head to Lena’s.”

Which earns her a confused look from her sister. “I thought you said that Lena’s in San Francisco.”

“She is, but she’ll be back early in the morning. So I’m just going to spend the night at her place and we’ll see each other first thing in the morning.”

“Sure, that’s normal,” Alex says drily.

“Well, it’s Saturday,” Kara says defensively, as if that justifies everything.

“I don’t understand. How are you going over when she’s not there?”

“Oh, I have a key.”

Alex goes perfectly still. Her face slackens with shock. She stares at Kara. Beside her, Kelly lets out a small sigh, already knowing where this is going.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s not a big deal. She gave it to me a while back so I could wait for her after work. She never got around to taking it back.”

In a low, somewhat unsteady voice, Alex asks, “You have a key to Lena’s apartment?”

Kara blinks, not quite understanding. “Yeah.”

Louder, an octave higher, Alex says, “You have a key to Lena’s apartment.”

Furrowing her eyebrows in confusion, Kara replies, “Uh… yes. I just said that.”

Louder still: “You have a key to Lena’s apartment! A fucking key!”

Exasperated and trying to stay calm, Kara says, “Yes, Alex, I have a key.”

Enraged and not at all trying to stay calm, Alex says- no, yells, “You have a fucking key! To your fuck buddy’s apartment! Fuck buddies don’t do shit like that! That! Is! Dating!”

“Well, Lena and I are more than just, um, ‘arrangement’ buddies,” answers Kara easily. “We’re also like really good friends now.”

“No!” Alex thunders, bringing two closed fists down over the table, ignoring Kelly’s attempts at hushing. “That’s not fucking normal! I know you know that that’s not normal! You can not be this obtuse!”

“Okay, honey,” Kelly intervenes with two quick pats to Alex’s arm. “Let’s take five.” Kelly half-drags Alex to her feet, and to Kara, offers an apologetic, “We’ll be right back.” Kelly turns the speakers up loud, and leads Alex into the bedroom, closing the door behind them.

Kara sits at the table, listening to the music, bopping her head along.

Beneath the music, she can hear occasional spikes of her sister’s frustrated cries from the other room.

“-completely insane-”

“-makes no fucking sense-”

“-ridiculous charade-”

“-fucking glutton for punishment-”

“Who does that?!”

At last, the door opens. Kelly emerges, turns down the music, and sits back down at the table. Alex follows momentarily, with a stiff smile on her face.

“Kara,” she says serenely. “I love you and I support you. I am here for you.”

“I love you too,” Kara replies. “Alex, I know you’re worried, but I know what I’m doing. Everything’s fine.”

“Sure,” Alex manages evenly.

Kara pushes away from the table, getting to her feet. “Okay, I’m off. I’ll see you later.” As she heads out the door, she mutters idly, almost to herself. “I wonder if I should get Lena some flowers for the morning.”

And Alex just smiles and smiles until it hurts.

***

Kara’s in Lena’s bed when she’s awoken by the feel of the mattress dipping. She stirs, rolling onto her back and finds Lena, seated on the edge of the bed, upper body leaning over hers. She’s still in her suit, looking worn from her trip, but extraordinarily pleased to see Kara.

“Hey,” Kara croaks out groggily.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Lena whispers, brushing hair out of the blonde’s eyes. “I was trying to sneak a kiss.”

“It’s okay.” Kara suppresses a yawn as she struggles to sit up. “How was your trip?”

“Good. Exhausting. Too many meetings. But it was productive. I can tell you later. You should go back to sleep.”

“No, I’m up now. Can I fix you something to eat?”

While Lena’s in the shower, Kara goes in the kitchen and makes her a sandwich. She surveys the available ingredients in the fridge and decides on an avocado tomato sandwich. It’s quick and easy, as simple as roughly cut tomato slices and avocado chunks haphazardly thrown together. At least when she makes it for herself. But a sandwich for Lena - well, that feels like a mission.

She takes the time to grate up a clove of garlic, slice up a lemon then squeeze out its juices, and whisks it all together with olive oil for a garlic aioli. She slices up a tomato, carefully ensuring that each slice is of equal thickness, then sprinkles it with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. She mashes up an avocado, gradually seasoning and tasting until it’s just right. She puts it all together on bread toasted to a perfect shade of golden brown, carefully spreading and arranging each ingredient with deliberate precision so that it stretches to every corner without spilling over. Every bite of this sandwich will have the perfect balance of ingredients.

Kara cuts the sandwich diagonally and sets it on the dining table with a bowl of cut-up strawberries, next to a glass of iced tea and a small vase of daisies she’d picked up earlier. Lena emerges from her room, clad in a fluffy, gray bathrobe, toweling her hair dry.

“Wow,” she says, taking a seat in front of the meal that Kara had prepared for her. “A girl could get used to this.”

“It’s nothing. I just threw something quick together,” Kara says shyly, as if she didn’t just make fresh aioli and painstakingly ensure that each ingredient is perfectly cut and seasoned.

Lena can’t help but recall all the other late nights/early mornings she’d had, coming home to an empty apartment from a work trip. It’d be quiet and lonely and she’d either go to bed hungry because she’s too tired to make herself something or eat a bag of kale chips watching crappy reruns. Now there’s this. A lovely girl who wakes up at 5AM to make her food and sit with her while she eats.

Under Kara’s eager eyes, Lena picks up and takes a bite of the sandwich.

“Oh my god,” she ungracefully mumbles around a mouthful of food, “This is the best sandwich I’ve ever had.”

Kara chuckles self-consciously, a proud grin plastered on her face. “It was really nothing. It’s simple.”

As Lena eats, she tells Kara about her trip. The successful meetings, the frustrating ones, the absolutely useless ones.

“So, I think we’re going to be able to close the deal,” Lena says as she polishes off the last of the strawberries. “It took a lot of time, effort, and grief, but I do think this acquisition will be worth it. I’m mostly interested in their gene therapy trial for sickle cell, but they also hold some IPs that Andrea should be able to monetize, so that’ll make the board happy.”

“You don’t seem all that happy about it,” Kara observes.

“I am. I’m just tired. Their most brilliant scientist is a pain, which is practically a given, but he really redefines complete lack of social skills.” Lena lolls her neck about, trying to loosen some of the tension there. “It’s very frustrating to spend all day with a man who thinks I don’t even know what CRISPR is. He kept trying to explain it to me. I even asked him not to, even though it should’ve been perfectly clear from our conversations that I don’t need a primer. It’s like he couldn’t help himself.”

“Ugh, that is so insulting.” Kara wrinkles her nose in utter disgust. “I mean, even I know what CRISPR is. Yes, you had to explain it to me three times, but I get it now. It’s just so belittling that he would think you of all people would need something like that explained.”

Warmed by Kara’s visceral reaction on her behalf, Lena reaches over and pats her hand fondly. “It was. But I’ll get over it.”

“Well…” Kara is concentrating on her own fingers, tapping out an unknown rhythm on the tabletop. “If you’re interested and not too tired, I could… maybe help you relieve some stress?”

Lena watches her carefully, trying to figure out if she’s really offering what Lena thinks is being offered, even as a wave of arousal is already coursing through her body.

Hoarsely, she asks, “Yeah?”

Meeting Lena’s eyes, Kara gives a sure, firm nod. “Only if you want.”

Lena can’t say quickly enough, “Yes.”

Kara grins broadly, nodding. “Okay, um, I can do that. Just let me, uh, get into character.” She removes her glasses, setting them aside, then pulls loose her ponytail, shaking her hair out. She closes her eyes, bows her head, and takes in a deep breath.

When Kara looks up again, Lena swears that it’s another person looking back at her. The sweet, mild-mannered Kara Danvers has been replaced by some other woman who exudes pure confidence, even arrogance.

“Take off that robe and get on your knees.”

Hurriedly, while still trying to maintain some semblance of grace, Lena does as she’s told. She stands up, slips off her robe, letting it drop to the ground. Keeping her gaze trained on Kara, who sits in her chair with an impervious, bored look on her face, she sinks down to her knees. And waits.

“Get over here.” The commanding tone in Kara’s voice takes Lena by surprise, sending a jolt of desire through her.

Naked and on her knees, she begins to move, feeling the already-gathering wetness between her thighs with each movement. She comes before Kara, nestling herself between the blonde’s legs.

Roughly, Kara grabs her face, fingers spread across her cheek, thumb curved along her chin.

“You want this?”

Lena can only nod helplessly.

“Tell me your signals.”

“Traffic lights.”

Kara clicks her tongue impatiently, tightening her grip, fingers digging into the flesh of Lena’s cheek. “Quit fucking around. I asked you a question and I expect a straight answer. Tell me your signals.”

Lena moans heatedly, and wonders why she gets so turned on when a pretty girl is fucking rude. “Red for stop, yellow for slow, green for go.”

“Good girl.”

Kara rewards her by pulling her in for a rough, punishing kiss, lips crashing, tongue probing; she just scraps her teeth against Lena’s bottom lip, nipping just hard enough to sting but not enough to bleed. Suddenly, Kara lets her go with a small push, and Lena nearly falls backwards from the movement. Kara makes no effort to help her up. While waiting for Lena to right herself, she strips off her shirt, baring her chest.

She grabs the back of Lena’s head, getting a fist of wavy hair, still slightly damp. She thrusts her chest forward at the same time she pulls at Lena’s head, and orders, “Open your mouth.”

Lena complies; of course she does.

“Suck,” Kara directs, and of course Lena complies with that too. She takes as much of Kara’s breast as she can into her mouth, closing her lips around the soft flesh and lapping at a hardened nipple.

Kara gasps. Arcs her body. Tightens the hold she has on the brunette’s hair.

Then another command: “I want your hand on the other.”

Obediently, Lena moves her hand to the neglected mound, lavishing attention through kneading and pinching. Kara hisses at the contact, sighing in pleasure. She lets Lena carry on, occasionally massaging her fingers against the brunette’s head to signal her satisfaction. Every scrap of nail against Lena’s scalp sends a shiver down her neck and spine.

“Switch sides.”

And Lena does. She feels herself becoming increasingly aroused, not so much from the act itself (although it certainly helps), but the accompanying directions. There is something freeing about the lack of control. She doesn’t have to think. She doesn’t have to decide. All she has to do is please Kara, and she’s more than willing to do it. And please Kara she does. Every breathy sigh and moan from the blonde is pure sex to her ears, manifesting a course of lava oozing its way through her and pooling between her thighs.

She feels Kara suddenly jerking back on her hair, and she has no choice but to release the breast in her mouth.

“Go to bed and wait for me.”

Lena has to restrain herself from sprinting down the hall.

Kara didn’t say how she should wait, so she sits down on the edge of the bed. That proves to be too tempting, because she discovers that she can squeeze her thighs together for a quiver of pleasure, and the urge to start touching herself is overwhelming. She stands up and starts pacing, trying to take her mind off what her body is screaming for.

She waits. And paces. And waits. She grows increasingly impatient with each step. Just where is Kara? Some part of her is frustrated, maybe even infuriated, that Kara would get her all worked up, then make her wait with no determinable end. But then again, that irritation only serves to heighten her arousal.

She’s about to storm out of the room to look for her missing partner when Kara finally shows up in the doorway, now wearing Lena’s discarded robe.

When she sees Lena pacing the room with that look of annoyance on her face, she asks quizzically and without any of that earlier swagger, “What are you doing?”

Waiting for you, obviously.” Lena’s aware of just how bratty and childish she sounds right now, but doesn’t care.

Kara looks troubled by that. “Are we- did you want to, um- what light?”

“Still green,” Lena answers hastily.

“Oh!” Permission given, Kara clears her throat, getting back into it. “Well, then. I asked you to wait. I didn’t ask for an attitude.”

But the appearance of Kara’s regular bumbling self has dulled the effect, and it shows in Lena’s unimpressed expression and defiant posture, the crossing of her arms. So Kara decides that something more than words is needed. She stalks across the room, seizes Lena by the waist and tugs forcefully, crushing their lips together. She invades, kissing with ferocious need. She captures Lena’s lower lip, sucking hard with a hint of teeth. Her hands grope their way to Lena’s breasts, roughly palming and squeezing. With a sudden shove, she sends Lena tumbling back onto the mattress. It’s immensely rewarding to see Lena now looking back up at her with hunger and delight. Kara cups her hand between Lena’s legs, who moans wantonly at the contact.

“Do you want me to take care of you, babe?” Kara murmurs.

“Yes.” Lena writhes, bucking up to get pressure where she needs it, only to have Kara draw her hand back.

“You were mad, weren’t you? That I kept you waiting? Would you like to know why I kept you waiting?”

Lena could only nod. Slowly, Kara starts untying the knot on the robe. When the robe loosens and falls opens, Lena sees the reason why Kara made her wait. Kara’s sporting a harness from which protrudes a hefty pink dildo, shiny and glistening from lube. Just the sight of it makes Lena’s insides flex and clench at nothing, as another moan escapes her. (Idly, in the back of her mind, she wonders why Kara even owns a strap-on. Is it new? From a previous relationship? Or is it a toy she uses with Mike, as unimaginable as that is? At that, Lena quickly banishes the curious part of her brain. Nothing good will come from this train of thought.)

Now Kara stretches her body over Lena’s, the toy dipping down, teasingly grazing the insides of her thighs. “Still mad?”

“No,” comes Lena’s quick, eager answer, bordering on desperation.

Kara pushes her hips forward, the toy briefly brushing against Lena’s sex, almost breaching. “I feel like you don’t mean it.”

“No, I do,” comes Lena’s answer, now fully desperate. “I’m sorry I was impatient.”

Kara lets out a soft hum of satisfaction and delight. “You’d say anything right now to get me to fuck you, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes,” Lena says with zero shame.

Slowly, Kara presses a kiss to the side of Lena’s neck. She peppers soft, small kisses about the brunette’s pale, creamy shoulders, and says, “I suppose I could make you beg.” She pulls back to look at the expression on Lena’s face, pained and needy and hungry. Kara smirks. “Maybe next time.” She covers Lena’s mouth with her own, as she presses her hips forward, slowly easing the toy inside.

Lena gasps into Kara’s mouth, which turns into a sigh, and then a whimper. She shudders pleasurably at the sensation as Kara fills her up up and up at an excruciatingly slow pace. When the toy is finally fully in, Lena lets out a shaky sigh, her lungs burning in relief at the breath she had been holding in. Kara kisses her again. She starts moving now, starting slow to ease Lena into it. Lena’s body adjusts, adapts, then asks for more, angling up for deeper contact. Kara picks up the pace.

Unable to resist, Lena runs her hands up the side of Kara’s torso and up to her shoulders. With a soft grunt, Kara firmly seizes her by both wrists, her fingers digging deep into Lena’s flesh. She roughly pulls them up above Lena’s head and forcefully pins Lena’s wrists against the mattress. Testing the waters, Lena tries to move her hands, and is filled with a delightful thrill when she finds that she can’t. She tugs again, this time with all her strength, and she’s able to lift her arms about half an inch before she finds herself fully pinned down again. Kara is so strong.

And considerate. When she feels Lena struggling, even though they’ve previously talked about the scenario and she understands that this is probably a part of the game, Kara slows her movements. She lifts her head, making eye contact, checking in and searching for any sign of discomfort from Lena.

“Light?” Kara can barely utter that single word without her voice cracking. There’s no use in pretending that she’s not affected.

Lena’s body is aflame, screaming in protest at the loss in momentum, and so she chants, “Green, green, green, please, oh god, green.”

Assured, Kara picks it back up. Holding Lena down against the mattress, she begins to fuck her in earnest. She moves with purpose and power, assuredly driving her hips against Lena, over and over, at a punishing pace. This Kara, a Kara that Lena has never seen before, is forceful and authoritative and arrogant. And Lena decides that she likes this Kara very much.

Lena is just gone. Lost and adrift in a sea of pleasure, letting the sensations carry her away to a different plane of existence. It’s so, so good. Lena isn’t capable of much thought at the moment, but there is one refrain: my god, she is so strong, she can do whatever she wants to me. The thought is exhilarating, arousing, and the only thing better than this thought is this counterbalancing feeling: I have never been safer.

It’s freeing, giving up control. (Or, rather, the illusion of giving up control because Lena doesn’t think she could actually give up control.) Letting Kara dominate her, allowing this aggression, all the while basking in the security of knowing that Kara would not overstep her bounds. Like riding a rollercoaster, experiencing the thrill of free fall while retaining the comfort of safety.

“Baby,” Lena gasps out. “I’m close. I’m so close. I just, I just need-”

“I got you.” Kara brings her wrists together, pinning them down with one hand, freeing the other to reach down and seek out Lena’s clit. Two quick rubs and Lena gets there, screeching and wailing and bucking off the bed.

As Kara slows, she releases Lena’s wrists and kisses her through her high. When she finally relaxes, Lena lies there, eyes closed, heart pounding, mouth dry, wrists aching, sex tender, and blissfully spent. She barely registers Kara peeling off and away. Eventually, she feels Kara gently touching her shoulder. She rolls over to find Kara sitting on the edge of the bed, robe back on, holding a glass of water.

It’s regular Kara again, soft and demure, all kind eyes and sweet smile, with none of that aggressive swagger she held as she fucked Lena into an explosive orgasm. And Lena decides that she likes this Kara too. More, maybe.

“Here.” Kara helps her sit up and offers her the water. Lena takes it and gulps it all down quickly while Kara rubs her back. “How are you feeling?”

“Amazing,” Lena whispers, her voice still raw from screaming. “That was amazing.”

Kara’s smile blossoms into a delighted grin. “Yeah? That was fun?”

“Oh my god, yes.” Lena scoots up in bed, sagging herself down against the pillows, gesturing for Kara to join her. “How was it for you?”

Kara settles against the brunette, wrapping her arms around her waist. “Really fun. I definitely enjoyed bossing you around. Next time, I think I’ll tie you up and make you beg for it.”

Lena doesn’t mean to say it. She doesn’t. But it just comes out.

“You’re perfect.”

Kara’s eyes go wide, like she doesn’t know what to do with that. Lena doesn’t either. So they just awkwardly stare at each other.

Finally, with a small, self-conscious laugh, Lena says, “I think that was the orgasm talking.”

“R- right,” Kara stammers softly. “That, um, that makes sense.” Silence sets in between them. Then Kara interjects, “Although I don’t see the lie. I am perfect.”

Lena laughs, relieved to be able to laugh off her transgression. They let the moment pass, each happy not to analyze what just happened.

***

Lena grew up in New York City. But what that really means is that she’s lived and worked on the island of Manhattan her whole life with total disregard for the other four boroughs that comprise the whole of the city. There’s an occasional trip to DUMBO for an event or driving through Queens on her way to the Hamptons, but for the most part, New York meant Manhattan.

Then comes Kara Danvers, and Lena suddenly finds herself being dragged everywhere in search of good food.

In Brooklyn, they visit a vegan Ethiopian cafe which serves up gingery split pea curry and piles of injera, a tart, spongy flatbread made for scooping said curry, among other things.

In Queens, they eat Filipino food: the aptly named sizzling sisig, a heap of pork and chicken liver served on a searing metal plate; thick and savory oxtail kare-kare, a peanut stew over garlic fried rice; finished off with sweet cassava cake (with a pleased grin, Kara says, “Cassava in the street, Casanova between the sheets.” And with an amused smirk, Lena replies, “Casanova, you have custard on your chin.”).

In the Bronx, they overdose on heaps of pasta and fried chicken, which Lena complains about being unhealthy, but then eats everything anyway.

They even brave the ferry for Staten Island, where Lena tries Sri Lankan food for the first time, vegetable lamprais wrapped in banana leaves and hoppers, a crisp, edible bowl served up with curry.

And always, they take the subway. Hopping on and off green and red and orange and gray lines, zigzagging across the city from one end to another.

One late afternoon, as the sun slowly descends over the Western sky, they take the Q train from Brooklyn back to Manhattan. With each stop, more people get on the train. So Lena and Kara squish in at the end of the train. Lena leans her back against the connecting doors between the cars. Kara stands before her, one hand on the pole above, the other arm encircled around Lena’s waist to steady her. As the train sways and bumps, their bodies collide and brush up against each other. They let the motion dictate, neither making an effort to stop from touching.

At the DeKalb Avenue stop, a lone busker with a guitar boards the train. He starts playing an old love song, and, in a voice scratchy, soft, and sweet, he sings.

Wise men say only fools rush in.”

The tune reverberates in the car, the words swirling around the riders, some ignoring, some indifferent, others attentive. Then there’s Kara and Lena, bodies swaying from the train’s movements, almost in time to the song.

At the same time, they sneak glances at one another, just as the singer croons, “Darling, so it goes, some things are meant to be.

Absorbing the words, suddenly shy, they each look away.

It’s Lena who looks back first. She sees Kara staring out the window, cheeks faintly tinged with blush. Driven by impulse, she touches her hand to the blonde’s cheek, fingers curving under her chin, gently guiding her face forward.

Take my hand, take my whole life too.

Their eyes meet. Visibly, Kara’s breath hitches.

In an instant, Lena makes up her mind. Decisively, she leans in, presses her mouth full against Kara’s. Kara reacts, as she always does to Lena’s touches, driving her body into Lena’s until they’re flush together, fused by want. As the train passes over the Manhattan Bridge, against the towering background of the city skyline cast in the setting sun’s orange glow, they kiss their way through this spell, caution cast aside, recklessly indulging in the fleeting feelings of a stolen moment that they won’t ever talk about.

‘Cause I can't help falling in love with you.

***

The soft chime from Kara’s phone comes in the middle of an episode of The Crown. Kara, lying down on the couch, makes a soft noise, and Lena wordlessly grabs the phone off the side table to hand to her. Kara looks at the screen. And stares.

When Lena realizes that Kara’s no longer paying attention to the show, she asks, “Everything all right?”

“Yes,” Kara says. But something in her voice makes Lena hit pause on the remote. Kara sits up, still staring at her phone. “Um. So. I… I set up a calendar reminder for myself to start planning a welcome home party for Mike.”

Although she’s sitting perfectly still, Lena starts to feel a little lightheaded. “Oh?”

“Yeah, and um, I, uh…” Kara sets her phone aside, takes in a breath, and looks up. “I had set it for a month before his return.”

“Ah,” Lena answers neutrally. “And that’s where we are now.”

Quietly, Kara says, “Yeah.”

It isn’t as if Lena didn’t already know. The end date was always clear. But it’s easy to forget. Or to want to forget.

“All right. So. A month. That’s how long we have left?”

Kara instantly looks anxious. “I don’t like how that sounds. It’s- it’s not like the end of us, is it? Like… we can still hang out and do this. Just, just be around each other and watch TV? We, we’re still going to be friends?”

“Of course we are,” Lena’s quick to assure. “Obviously, the physical component of our friendship has to end. But nothing else has to change.”

“Okay,” Kara responds, sounding slightly mollified.

Lena picks up the control and turns the show back on. They face the screen, looking but not seeing, hearing but not listening.

Finally, Lena hits pause again. “You know,” she starts. “Olivia Colman will still be there for us in a month.”

Kara doesn’t hesitate. She rushes forward, lips first, hands already going to Lena’s waist to pull up at the edges of her shirt.