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for the seventh time, i love you

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Lena knows she’s hit rock bottom when she finds herself searching ‘signs your crush likes you back’ on Google, but then her eyes fall on the second result: 7 Guaranteed Signs Your Crush is in Love with You!

Well. She supposes it can’t hurt to read the article. Maybe just a brief scan. No big deal.

Before she can talk herself out of it, she clicks on the title and starts scrolling.

By the time she finishes perusing the article, she’s reeling from two things: one, the fact that the article might actually make sense, and two, the fact that if the article actually rings true, then perhaps her feelings for Kara might not be entirely one-sided.

But it can’t be, right? If Kara really did reciprocate her feelings, Lena would probably know something about it by now. She can’t be that oblivious. This could just be her own wishful thinking.

 


 

1. They fixate on you

Before she can contemplate the article any further, there’s a knock on her door, and she turns to see Kara strolling into her office with two boxes of pizza and an excited grin.

“I’ve got lunch with your name on it!” Kara chirps, walking over to Lena and depositing the pizza on the coffee table, before plopping beside her on the couch. She peers curiously at Lena’s computer, and Lena immediately closes the tab, switching over to her work email. “Busy with work?”

Lena smiles nervously, heat blooming in her cheeks, and she nods in confirmation. More like busy asking Google if you love me back. “A lot of new projects to work on,” she replies, and Kara smiles proudly, patting her thigh affectionately before leaning forward to open the pizza box.

“Changing the world one project at a time. I’m proud of you,” Kara says with a smile, offering Lena a slice of pizza before taking one for herself and biting into it. Lena feels herself smile at the casual praise — Kara says it as though it’s obvious how proud of Lena she is. As though there shouldn't be a question of it.

“But right now, what could be more important than pizza?” Kara continues while chewing, eyebrows raised, and Lena can’t help but laugh.

“You’re right. Let me wrap this up quickly,” Lena replies, using her free hand to scan through some important emails from investors that Jess had flagged out for her to respond to by the end of the day.

And with the time Lena wasted on asking Google whether or not Kara loves her back, she has even less time to handle all the unread emails in her inbox — which also happens to make for a good distraction from Kara’s intoxicating presence.

Kara makes a noise of disapproval. “You should really give yourself more breaks.”

Lena looks up at Kara, smiling softly. “I will. I just have a few things to do, then I’ll be all yours.” She looks back down, reading through the more urgent emails, and feels Kara’s gaze on her, out of the corner of her eye.

When Lena looks up to meet Kara’s gaze, the blonde seems to snap out of whatever daze she was in, smiling sheepishly and going back to munching on her pizza. And Lena can’t concentrate on her work anymore because she’s too preoccupied with wondering why Kara keeps staring at her. Is she reading too much into all the looks?

Even when Lena does manage to focus on her work, finishing up the last few emails flagged in her inbox, she finds, through her peripheral vision, that Kara’s gaze soon comes right back to her, pizza slice now forgotten once more.

Lena glances over at Kara again, just to see what she would do if she knew that Lena was aware of her staring. The Kryptonian breaks out into a small smile when their eyes meet, and Lena almost forgets about the emails in front of her.

“Is there something on my face?” Lena questions, one eyebrow raised.

Kara shakes her head, waving dismissively. “No, nothing like that. Your face is perfect. I mean, there’s nothing on your face. It looks fine. It’s perfectly fine.”

Something in the way Kara says your face is perfect makes Lena’s cheeks flush. “Why are you staring at me then?” Lena replies, grinning with amusement, and Kara sputters, face reddening as she stuffs the rest of her pizza slice into her mouth.

“I just zoned out while thinking about something,” Kara mumbles, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry, I do that a lot.”

“I know,” Lena says with a laugh. “If you want to talk about anything, you know I’m here,” she says, reaching forward and taking a new pizza slice from the box. She holds it out to Kara, who takes it with grateful hands and pink cheeks.

Lena goes back to reading emails, the article about reciprocated feelings still replaying in the back of her mind like a broken recorder. After a few moments, she feels blue eyes on her again, glancing periodically between Lena and the precious pizza slice in Kara’s hands.

Then Lena shuts her laptop and places it aside, returning her attention to Kara, who is already staring at her. Again. Is this normal? Has Kara always stared at her this much? “I’m done for now. I’d rather talk to you than read emails, anyway,” Lena says, and Kara responds with a wide grin.

“I’d rather talk to you than do anything else,” Kara breathes out, with so much earnestness that Lena feels something inside of her burst with joy.

“Me too,” Lena replies softly, meeting Kara’s smiling eyes, which have been fixated on Lena since she first entered the office. Just like what the article had mentioned.

Then again, Kara has always been a person who stares a lot. But at the same time, it’s not normal to stare that much at your friend. But Lena could also be reading too much into it. Maybe it’s just all in her head.

Lena’s losing her mind over this dumb article.

 


 

2. They lean toward you and make physical contact

The second time Lena gets reminded of the article is later that day. She and Kara are having their usual movie night in Lena’s apartment. Lena’s standing at the stove, pouring pancake batter that she and Kara had made earlier into the pan in front of her.

Kara is a few feet away, at the sink washing her hands. Until Lena hears the tap switch off, and suddenly there’s a warm presence to her right, watching her cook. Lena turns to see an encouraging smile plastered on Kara’s face. “You’re doing great for someone who got pancake batter all over the kitchen on her first try,” Kara muses, leaning closer to Lena to inspect the pancake she’s currently making.

“Thanks for the encouragement,” Lena deadpans. And suddenly Kara’s scent is everywhere, and Lena can feel how muscled Kara’s body is from where it touches hers, and her best friend is leaning in way too close for Lena to be thinking completely platonic thoughts right now.

There’s warmth all over her — Kara is pressed against her back and right side, heat emanating from the Kryptonian. To make things worse, Lena can feel Kara’s exhaled breaths brushing against her cheek, and then suddenly there’s a hand coming up to take hers, and slender fingers resting over her own.

“You have to press it down a bit, like this.” Kara’s voice is a gentle whisper in her ear, and Lena’s brain is in overdrive, trying to process the proximity and intimate whispering and pancake-cooking all at the same time. Kara’s hand guides hers as she tries to cook a decent, edible pancake, and as quick as the contact comes, it disappears, and Lena’s left to continue cooking on her own.

Except that Kara’s hand is resting beside the stove now, their arms brushing. And Kara doesn’t move an inch away, her front still pressed against Lena, head hovering over her shoulder, breaths puffing out to graze Lena’s reddened ears.

When Lena feels the cold air against her back a few moments later, she assumes that Kara has left, and can’t decide if she wants to protest at the loss of contact, or heave a sigh of relief at the opportunity to regain her composure.

But boy was she wrong in assuming that Kara wouldn’t come right back in a matter of seconds. The Kryptonian super-speeds around the kitchen, grabbing a plate from the cupboard, and immediately returns back to her previous spot. And once again Lena is left trying to cope, because she can most definitely feel every taut muscle in Kara’s body.

Kara holds out the plate excitedly, ready to help Lena. “You did great!” Kara chirps as Lena transfers the pancake from the pan to the plate.

“There are more masterpieces to come,” Lena assures as she pours more batter into the pan, starting on her second pancake. Then Kara is hovering beside her all over again, the plated pancake sitting on the counter, momentarily forgotten. Lena lets out a shaky breath. How long is she expected to go on like this?

“Is everything okay?” Kara asks, clearly having picked up on Lena’s heavy breathing. It’s a wonder how oblivious Kara is to the way Lena reacts to her mere presence.

“Of course,” Lena croaks, clearing her throat and trying to shake off the urge to give in, to turn around and wrap her arms around Kara’s inviting form, and just forget about the pancakes entirely. “You’re just, um. You’re a little close.”

“Oh!” Kara exclaims, sounding surprised by herself, as though she didn’t even realize where she was standing. Or how strange their proximity might have been, since they’re supposed to be platonic best friends. “Sorry, sorry. I should give you some space,” Kara says, and moves to take only one step away — but something inside Lena screams in protest at the idea of Kara not being pressed up against her, and before she realizes what she’s doing, she finds herself on autopilot, turning around and grabbing onto Kara before she can move away.

“No!” Lena shouts, far more aggressively than necessary, fingers tight around Kara’s wrist to keep her in place. “Um,” she clears her throat, “you don’t have to move. As in, I’m fine with you being here. With me. I was just surprised.”

Kara breaks out into a wide grin. “You like it?”

The question is asked so innocently, and Kara looks so happy and so hopeful that Lena is sure she doesn’t realize the weight of her words — yes, Lena likes it. Lena likes everything Kara does. Lena loves her.

“Of course,” Lena hears herself say, watching Kara’s smile widen at the simple answer. “I like being close to you,” Lena clarifies, and Kara looks like she just got a puppy for Christmas.

“I love being close to you too,” Kara parrots happily, stepping closer to Lena, if that’s even possible. And then strong arms are wrapping lightly around Lena’s waist and— Lena was most definitely not mentally prepared for this development. “You’re nice to hug,” Kara whispers. The words dance around in Lena’s head on repeat. Kara thinks I’m nice to hug. She likes hugging me. She wants to hug me. She is hugging me. I need to calm down.

Lena reciprocates the hug, arms wrapping around Kara’s shoulders, and she relishes in the feeling of Kara’s head resting on her shoulder, feeling the blonde smile against her neck. She forgets what she was supposed to be doing until she hears Kara’s voice, soft in her ear, “As much as I love being with you, the pancake is burning.”

Lena yelps in realization, extracting herself from the hug to check on the pancakes, and she can’t help but smile as Kara laughs, stepping up behind Lena once more to lean over her and observe. Then there’s a gentle hand resting on Lena’s waist, absent-minded and natural, and Kara’s rambling excitedly about how well Lena’s doing and how much she’s improved since her first go at making pancakes.

All Lena can think about is the hand burning into her skin, the familiar warmth on her back as Kara leans close, too close.

On top of that, there’s Kara’s voice on repeat in her mind, saying I love being close to you and I love being with you.

Lena has no idea what to make of this.

 


 

3. They’re vulnerable with you

The movie credits play on the screen, empty plates sitting on the coffee table, and their stomachs blissfully full of Lena’s pancakes.

“That was great,” Kara says, smile in her voice and fingers playing with Lena’s hair. Lena is pressed against the Kryptonian, her head resting comfortably on Kara’s shoulder, with a cozy blanket thrown over them both.

“The pancakes or the movie?” Lena asks with a grin, looking up at Kara, who lets out a small laugh.

“Both. But the pancakes take the top spot for sure,” Kara replies, nodding with satisfaction. “You’ve gotten a lot better at cooking. I’m really proud of you,” she continues happily, fingers scratching lightly against Lena’s scalp. Lena gets lost in the feeling.

“The only reason I even learned to cook pancakes is because I know you love them,” Lena says, laughing, not even realizing the gravity of the admission — she’s had a few glasses of wine, the only light in the room is coming from the screen, and she’s too happy to care about biting her tongue as much as she usually does around Kara.

Kara’s words from earlier are still replaying in her mind. They make her feel braver, like she’s allowed to express how much she cares for Kara. How important Kara is to her. How much she loves being with Kara.

“You learned to cook pancakes for me?” Kara asks softly, sounding surprised, and Lena nods against her shoulder with a laugh.

“Of course. You’ve been gushing about your love for them ever since we first met.” Lena recalls one of their first conversations over brunch, where Kara was digging happily into the fluffy pancakes at Noonan’s and talking endlessly about how it was one of her favorite foods of all time. Ever since then, Lena had resolved to learn to make the perfect pancakes.

“You remember that.” It’s more of a question than a statement, and Kara’s voice is small, laced with a vulnerability that tells Lena she’s searching for a sign that Lena cares about her, enough to remember these little things about her. Which, to Lena, shouldn’t even be a question.

“Why wouldn’t I remember?” Lena throws a question back at Kara, leaning back a little to see her face. Kara’s bottom lip is tucked beneath her teeth nervously, the hand in Lena’s hair going still.

“I don’t know,” Kara mumbles, looking at Lena for a short moment, then her gaze drops down to her own lap. “I was afraid you might not care about me as much anymore. You know, after everything.”

Lena frowns, head pressing further into Kara’s shoulder to show that she’s still here, present and listening, and definitely not going anywhere but closer to her best friend. “The past is behind us, Kara. I care about you more than I care about anyone. And that hasn’t changed in years. Even when we weren’t on good terms.”

Kara glances back at Lena, meeting her waiting gaze. “I care about you too,” she replies, a sincere whisper, and Lena melts into the warm body beside her. The hand in her hair pulls her closer.

“And it’s not going to change,” Lena continues. “You’re important to me. Everything that’s happened has only made me care more about you, and us.” At first, Lena almost regrets saying so much, putting so much out there when her heart isn’t ready to accept Kara’s rejection. But then she sees Kara visibly relax, lips curling into a small, happy smile, and all her regrets dissipate.

“I just feel guilty sometimes,” Kara admits, head dipping with embarrassment, and Lena tilts her gaze upwards, looking at her more fully.

“We’ve both made mistakes. It’s okay. What matters more is now. And right now, you just ate my masterpiece pancakes and we just watched a great movie, and we’re going to keep doing this until one of us dies. Which will be me because you’re a Kryptonian and you’ll definitely outlive me,” Lena whispers, watching as Kara’s face slowly breaks out into a grin.

“You know I love you, right?” Kara says, the hand in Lena’s hair resuming its movement, and Lena lets her head drop back onto Kara’s shoulder, smiling into it.

“I know.”

“This is the part where you say ‘I love you too’.”

Lena laughs. “I love you too, Kara. It’s unchanging.”

The arm wrapped around Lena’s head pulls her impossibly closer, and Kara murmurs a soft thank you into Lena’s hair before she starts rambling on about how Alex got roped into doing a TikTok trend with Nia and Kelly. They laugh at the video on Kara’s phone until they’re out of breath, smiling at each other, and Lena knows there’s no falling out of love when it comes to Kara.

It’s a lifetime subscription. And she finds that she’s perfectly okay with that.

 


 

4. They pay more attention to you

The very next day, Lena is back in Kara’s apartment, this time for their weekly game nights with the rest of their makeshift family.

Usually, Lena spends those evenings trying her best not to be too obvious about admiring how beautiful Kara looks when she’s surrounded by the people she loves the most. No matter how many times she tries to focus on the game they’re playing, or the conversation the group is having, she finds her mind drifting back to Kara.

Her eyes would follow suit, gaze moving to the Kryptonian, and Lena would spend her time marveling at the way Kara’s face reddens when she laughs too hard, and her cute habits, like moving a hand up to adjust her glasses, only to sheepishly realize that she isn’t wearing them.

This game night, however, is a little different.

Kara is always staring. Every time Lena tries to sneak a glance at her best friend, she will always find Kara already looking back at her, as though her gaze hasn’t left Lena all night.

Lena isn’t sure if things have always been like this — perhaps they have and she just never noticed the sheer amount of time Kara spends with her eyes trained on Lena — but the way Kara is looking at her, eyes soft and gentle, makes her want to sink into the floor and remain there until she can compose herself enough to avoid making a fool of herself in front of everyone.

They’re playing Monopoly, Kara seated beside Lena on the floor. Alex is perched on the couch, cussing Lena out after she landed on Lena’s most expensive property, having to pay rent for the hotel Lena has strategically placed there. And everyone else is laughing at Alex’s misery as she counts her money furiously. “This is fucking ridiculous,” Alex mutters, and Kelly stifles a laugh from beside her, placing a soothing hand on Alex’s back.

“We’ve all been there,” Nia says, laughing along. She takes a sip of her wine and looks over at Lena, smiling with amusement. “Are you ever going to lose?”

“Maybe next game,” Lena muses. “Definitely not losing this game after Alex pays up.”

Alex groans, reluctantly dumping her payment on the table in front of Lena. “Hey Lena, you better count it so you don’t miss out a single dollar,” Kelly says, earning another round of laughs from the group, and a death glare from her girlfriend.

“No cuddles for you tonight,” Alex grumbles, cursing under her breath.

“We both know that’s not true,” Kelly quips, planting a quick kiss on Alex’s cheek. Lena watches the interaction fondly, and thoughts of if only this could be me and Kara run through her mind before she can stop them. Every romantic song and interaction Lena observes in her life reminds her of Kara, of the life Lena wishes they could have together, if they were more than just best friends.

Thoughts of Kara prompts Lena to shift her gaze on autopilot, eyes searching for her best friend. She turns to her right to find familiar blue orbs already gazing at her, even while the rest of the room is making fun of Alex and joking about how Lena is unbeatable at Monopoly. There’s a small, happy smile sitting on Kara’s face, so natural that Lena thinks Kara probably doesn’t even notice that she’s smiling.

There’s a hand, Kara’s hand, delicately placed on Lena’s thigh under the coffee table. There’s a thumb drawing patterns on Lena’s skin, absent-minded and habitual.

Lena has so many thoughts, all at once. About why Kara is staring at her like that, about how long Kara has been staring at her like that, eyes soft and smile even softer, about whether this means anything.

“Are you okay?” Lena decides to ask, because she doesn’t know what else to say, can’t form many words right now — she’s far too enraptured by the look on Kara’s face.

Kara nods, grinning even wider. “More than okay,” she replies, tender and honest. The hand on Lena’s thigh squeezes lightly, with reassurance and affection, and Lena’s heartbeat picks up against her better judgment. If Kara notices, she doesn’t show any sign of it.

“You sure?” Lena pushes on. She wants Kara to hear the underlying question of why are you looking at me like that, but she can’t ask it out loud — this isn’t the time or place to take that risk.

“I’m just happy,” Kara whispers, looking completely relaxed and content, smiling at Lena like she put the damn stars in the sky. Or maybe Lena’s just all up in her own head. All she knows is that Kara’s the one who put the stars in the sky for her. Does she look at Kara like that? Does Kara notice?

Lena gives Kara a small smile, keeping her inner turmoil masked. “I’m happy that you’re happy.”

“Kara, it’s your turn,” Alex’s voice tears through whatever bubble she and Kara were in, and Lena turns to find Alex’s gaze shifting between the two of them, eyes knowing.

“Right! Sorry,” Kara says, laughing sheepishly as she picks up the dice from the board. Lena stays silent, far too aware of the fact that Kara’s hand is still on her thigh, thumb moving back and forth absently. She watches as Kara lands herself in jail in Monopoly, groaning while laughter reverberates through the room.

Lena loses herself in her thoughts, asking herself how could I not be in love with this goofball and how am I ever going to tell her how I feel and everything else in between.

The hand on her thigh squeezes, softly, and Lena looks to her right to find concerned eyes gazing fondly at her. “You okay? Penny for your thoughts?”

Lena smiles, laughing, if only to bury her feelings deeper, where Kara cannot see them. The sight in front of her is too beautiful for her to risk losing it, to risk losing Kara. “I’m good,” she replies, placing a hand over the one resting on her leg and giving it a reassuring squeeze.

“You look troubled,” Kara presses, brows furrowed slightly.

“I’m not,” Lena assures, smiling. “I’m having a good time.”

Kara’s eyebrows shoot up a little, still skeptical. “Promise?”

“I promise,” Lena says, bumping her shoulder against Kara’s, which prompts a bashful smile and a small puff of laughter from the blonde. Lena can’t help but stare, something inside her bursting with affection at the sight of Kara’s happy grin, face free of worries. Lena wants to make her feel like that every day.

They go back to playing Monopoly, joining in the conversation with the rest of the group, and even though Lena is smiling and laughing the whole time, she feels Kara’s gaze burn into the side of her head. And when she returns the stare, she always finds the same small smile on Kara’s face, contented and adoring.

And Kara doesn’t go five minutes without checking in on Lena again, asking the same are you okay and are you sure when Lena replies that she’s really fine. Lena melts at the attentiveness and care, something she should be used to receiving from Kara by now, but it never gets old. She is as moved by Kara’s fierce protectiveness and affection for her as she had been when they first became close friends.

When Kara leans closer and asks if she’s okay for the umpteenth time, lips brushing against Lena’s ear, Lena almost jumps from the contact. “I’d tell you if something is wrong,” Lena assures softly, face burning. Kara’s worried look makes Lena think back to the conversation they had the night before, where Kara had expressed concern that their friendship had changed after she revealed her secret identity to Lena.

Lena understands, then, what Kara is truly worried about — that Lena might not trust her enough to be honest with her when something is wrong. That Lena might not feel comfortable enough around her to speak her mind. That their friendship might be jeopardized again by the trust issues that once plagued them.

Kara could not be more mistaken, because she’s the person Lena trusts the most in this world, hands down.

So Lena continues on, “You don’t have to worry that I don’t feel comfortable enough to tell you things. Because I’d tell you anything.”

Kara visibly relaxes at that, a grin making its way onto her face. “Really?”

Lena nods in affirmation, and Kara seems to bask at the reassurance. “I trust you.”

Those three words appear to be all Kara needs to hear. The huge smile on her face tells Lena that she’s probably wanted to hear them for a long time now.

Kara, in her true Kara fashion, holds out for a solid twenty minutes before going back to regularly checking on Lena, a habit she can’t seem to shake. And Lena knows, deep down, that it’s not because Kara thinks there’s a lack of trust between them — it’s because Kara cares about her.

And Lena can’t deny that she enjoys it when Kara pays more attention to her, so. Who is she to complain?

 


 

5. They make time for you

Lena would be lying if she said she doesn’t miss Kara.

It’s only been a few days since the last time they saw each other properly during game night. They haven’t gotten a chance to talk much outside of texting and the occasional short call, because Kara’s been working on an important investigation at CatCo and trying to juggle her Supergirl duties at the same time.

And even though Lena misses her — a testament to her tragic attachment issues — she wants to support Kara fully, especially during her busiest and most stressful periods.

During her lunch break, Lena misses Kara’s presence in her office, eating Big Belly Burger or Chinese food with her, like they usually do when they aren’t as busy as they are now. She takes out her phone and sends a text to Kara, inviting her over for dinner later.

Kara’s reply comes almost immediately — a dejected i don’t know if i can make it, i have a lot of work to do that includes a whole bunch of sad and heartbreak emojis. Then she follows up with another text — i really wish i could, i’d much rather be with you — that makes Lena’s heart feel like it’s about to burst out of her ribcage.

Lena passes the time with work and important L-Corp projects, a distraction from Kara’s heavy absence. And when she comes back to her apartment after work, it feels empty without Kara bounding around the place, so familiar with it that an outsider would think it’s her own.

Lena settles down on the couch with a glass of wine and whips out her phone, staring wistfully at Kara’s most recent text — an anguished let’s hang out tomorrow maybe? i’m tired and i miss you and i want to see you — and Lena can see the pout on Kara’s face through the screen. Her heart flutters at Kara’s honest words, punctuated with a string of sad faces and heart emojis.

It was sent to her in the afternoon, but Lena had been too caught up with work, unable to find a window of time to check her messages. And Lena’s about to type out a response when she hears the familiar sound of Kara’s Supergirl boots landing on the balcony.

Her head whips around to see Kara, in the flesh, standing on the balcony with a huge grin plastered on her face and Chinese takeout in her hands.

“Is that dinner invitation still on the table?” Kara asks, and Lena laughs, motioning for Kara to enter the apartment. Kara super-speeds into the bedroom and comes out in Lena’s MIT sweater (well, it’s no longer Lena’s since Kara claimed it as her own a few months back) and a pair of grey sweatpants, taken from the drawer of Kara’s clothes in Lena’s closet.

The domesticity of the situation stirs something inside Lena. Kara hangs out in her apartment so often that she has her own drawer in Lena’s closet, and a toothbrush in the bathroom, and a few pairs of shoes in the rack at the entrance to the apartment. Lena’s pantry is filled with Kara’s favorite snacks, and her fridge is filled with Kara’s favorite ice cream and ingredients to cook Kara’s favorite foods.

The apartment doesn’t just belong to Lena anymore. It’s theirs.

And Lena wonders, as she watches Kara settle down beside her on the couch and excitedly unpack their Chinese food, if Kara enjoys this domesticity as much as she does.

“I thought you were busy tonight?” Lena asks as they dig into their food, Kara hungrily shoving potstickers into her mouth.

“I was,” Kara says, nodding. “But then I missed you, so I rushed out all my work today so I could come have dinner with you.”

Lena’s eyebrows shoot up, her insides warming up at Kara’s words. They’re said so casually, as though Lena shouldn’t even have to question that Kara would put extra effort into finishing all her work early just to have dinner with her.

“Didn’t you have a lot of work to do? I don’t want to hold you back. Or drag you down,” Lena says, courtesy of a little voice in the back of her mind wondering if Kara might feel more stressed because of her. Which is the last thing Lena wants.

Kara shakes her head violently. “Of course not! In fact, you’re lifting me up. This is hands down the happiest I’ve been since game night,” she says, eyes wide and honest as she stares at Lena while chewing on her chicken cubes. Lena’s so enamored that she almost forgets to reply.

“Same here,” Lena admits in a whisper. Kara smiles, eyes crinkling with joy, and all of Lena’s guilt washes away.

“Spending time with you is my favorite thing to do,” Kara says, casual yet completely honest, and Lena hangs onto her every word. “I will always make time for you. Just like how you always make time for me even though you’re so busy.”

“Thank you,” Lena manages to choke out, the words I love you and please marry me caught in the back of her throat. She swallows them down with the potsticker Kara places in her mouth.

“Are we still hanging out tomorrow?” Kara asks, and Lena meets her hopeful eyes and tender smile, cheeks puffed up by the potstickers in her mouth. It’s beyond cute.

“If you want to. And if you’re free,” Lena says, and Kara nods without hesitation, reaching forward to brush Lena’s hair out of her face and tuck it behind her ear.

“I want to,” Kara says, soft and excited. “And I’m free. When I say I rushed my work, I mean I might have, maybe, used my super-speed to finish my reports. But only a little bit!” She holds up a hand, her thumb and index finger held close together. “And it was for emergency purposes. Because I really wanted to see you.”

“I’m honored,” Lena replies, bringing a hand up to her heart, and Kara gives her a lopsided grin.

“You should be. I’m awesome.”

“Yes, you are,” Lena says, completely sincere.

And she truly hopes that the way Kara’s cheeks flush isn’t just a figment of her imagination.

 


 

6. They remember the little things

Kara sleeps over in Lena's bed, as usual. And Lena relishes in the warmth of Kara’s body pressed against her back when she wakes up the next morning, a muscled arm wrapped softly around her waist. Kara’s face is buried into Lena’s hair, even breaths grazing the back of Lena’s neck.

Lena could stay like this forever. There's a voice in the back of her mind wishing that one day, she could wake up with Kara like this every morning.

After a few moments, Kara stirs behind her. The hand around her waist tightens, pulling Lena closer and catching her by surprise. “Five more minutes,” Kara grumbles into her hair, thumb drawing patterns on Lena’s stomach over her shirt.

Lena laughs, hand coming up to pat Kara’s. “We need to get up.”

Kara makes a sound of protest. “No.”

“Why are you like this?” Lena asks, amused. She feels Kara grin against her shoulder.

“Because I like cuddling with you,” Kara murmurs, and Lena can hear the contented smile in her voice. “And you’ve said before that you like cuddling with me too.”

At that, Lena flips around to face Kara. The Kryptonian’s arm remains wrapped around her waist, and Kara is beaming, her left cheek pressed into the pillow, eyelids drooping lazily, and eyes twinkling as she gazes at Lena.

Lena wants to memorize every part of this moment.

“When did I say I like cuddling with you?” Lena asks, eyebrows raised curiously. She doesn’t even remember mentioning this to Kara herself, so it’s a wonder how Kara knows this piece of information. Did she blurt it out while she was drunk? What else might she have admitted while she was drunk?

“A year ago,” Kara whispers into the space between them, smile growing as she seems to recall the memory. “We were lying in your bed at night, talking. Just like this. And then you told me you like cuddling with me. That it makes you feel safe.”

Lena blinks. “I said that? You remember that?”

“Clear as day,” Kara confirms with a smile.

And it’s from there that Lena realizes just how many little things Kara remembers. How many passing comments Lena’s made that she herself can’t even recall, but Kara can recite as though Lena just said it two minutes ago.

It starts after Kara lets herself be dragged out of bed. They’re in the kitchen making breakfast, and Kara’s pouring coffee for them both, and Lena watches out of the corner of her eye as Kara takes what she knows is Lena’s favorite mug. It’s striped and has the words ‘my head hertz’ printed on them — it’s the lamest physics pun Lena has ever seen, but Kara had bought it for her three years ago, looking so excited to show Lena what she claimed was the best mug ever, and the rest is history.

Then Kara carefully fills the coffee up to the second stripe closest to the top of the mug, just the way Lena likes it. And Lena can’t help but comment on it. “Did I tell you about the exact amount of coffee I like too?”

Kara looks over at her and shakes her head. “Nope. I just noticed it. Because every time you fill up your coffee mug you always look way more concentrated than the average coffee-pouring person.”

Lena stares at her. “Just how much do you know about me? That I don’t know you know?”

Kara shrugs. “I don’t know. Hopefully a lot?” she says, smiling bashfully, hand coming up to adjust glasses that aren’t even there. Nose scrunching up when she realizes. Lena feels a smile make its way onto her face at the sight.

And Lena discovers that there are so many more little things Kara knows about her. Like how Lena has a specific spot on the couch she likes to sit on — Kara always sits right beside it because she knows Lena will sit there. And when Lena settles into her seat on the couch, ready to begin work, Kara has her favorite hair clip ready for her, because Kara knows that Lena likes to put her hair up in a messy bun before she works.

Kara knows that she likes when Kara touches her, just to remind Lena that her best friend is present with her. That she isn’t going anywhere. So while Lena is working and Kara is reading a book, Kara props her book up with one hand, the other resting affectionately on Lena’s thigh. Her hand will occasionally leave for a short moment to flip the page, and then return back to its spot on Lena’s leg like it never left.

Kara knows how Lena likes to order lunch at least ten minutes earlier than necessary because she knows for a fact that the Uber Eats estimated delivery time is a total scam. And before they eat, Kara wordlessly super-speeds into the kitchen and comes back to the table holding Lena’s favorite salad dressing, because she knows that Lena enjoys her salad best with this specific brand.

Kara knows how Lena likes to take fifteen minute breaks after every two hours of work. She helps Lena to keep time, placing her book down to signal when two hours are up. And Lena will close her laptop, and Kara will take her into her arms. And they will cuddle, talking softly while gentle fingers are carding through Lena’s hair — something Kara admits she remembers Lena mentioning in passing, too.

“Do you remember everything I tell you?” Lena asks, head resting on Kara’s chest, calmed by Kara’s steady heartbeat. It quickens slightly at Lena’s question.

“Yes,” Kara whispers, soft and ever so slightly shaky. And Lena presses just a little closer to her, hearing the blonde’s satisfied sigh at their new proximity.

It’s then that Lena realizes: Kara knows pretty much everything about her. Kara remembers everything Lena tells her. Notices every little thing Lena does, every tiny habit Lena has, and commits it to memory. Just like how Lena secretly does the same for Kara. She pays special attention to Kara, because she's in love with her.

Kara remembers everything about Lena. On purpose.

As she goes back to work, and Kara goes back to reading, Lena recalls the article. Then an image of Kara pops into her mind, smiling softly at her. There are arms wrapped affectionately around Lena’s waist. There’s a whisper of I’m in love with you too from lips that Lena can’t stop thinking about kissing.

She shakes the thought from her head, remembering where she is — she’s supposed to be typing out lab reports on experiments for L-Corp’s latest project. Kara’s warm presence is still beside her, as it has been the whole day, and Lena steals a glance at her.

Then Kara’s gaze meets hers, and the Kryptonian’s face breaks out into a wide smile, encouraging and assuring, a promise of I’ll be here for as long as you want me to be, and Lena can’t quieten the loud thoughts in her mind.

Maybe Kara loves her too.

 


 

7. They often mention the future

Kara mentions the future, their future, a lot.

Lena’s never thought much about it until she read the article, and now, as they lay in bed after spending the day together, she’s thinking twice. Overthinking and overanalyzing every single time Kara’s mentioned their future before.

She reads into the way Kara talks casually about how she’ll bring over more work clothes to keep in Lena’s closet so that she can head straight to CatCo after sleeping over at Lena’s apartment. She thinks about how Kara jokes that they may as well move in together since they’re always spending time at each other’s apartments.

Kara speaks about how they should save up the pizza and Chinese takeout coupons on Lena’s fridge so that they can have discounts for as many meals as possible. Lena thinks about the assumption behind that — the idea of them regularly having meals together, in Lena’s apartment, like it’s something they do every day. Like Kara lives here, with her.

“Have you ever considered sheets with penguin patterns?” Kara asks all of a sudden, breaking their comfortable silence as they lie together. “I saw a really cute set at IKEA. We should buy them,” she says, fingers stroking Lena’s hair.

Lena laughs. “What for?”

“Your current sheets are so plain,” Kara says, nose scrunching up. “It’ll be nice to spice things up.” Lena almost chokes at the word choice.

“Would you prefer patterned sheets?” Lena questions, looking up at Kara, who smiles down at her.

“They feel more cozy. A more home-y vibe, don’t you think?” Kara says, and Lena can picture it — Kara excitedly running her hands over the penguin pattern on Lena’s sheets, rambling on about how they should go to the zoo again soon to visit the penguins.

“Why don’t you get penguin sheets for your own bed, then?” Lena asks, laughing.

“Because I sleep here more than I sleep at my own apartment,” Kara replies. And she’s not wrong. Kara has made Lena’s apartment into a second home, filling it to the brim with her warm presence, to the point where it would feel lifeless and incomplete without her there. “Maybe I'll end up moving here eventually,” Kara continues. It’s half-joking, but there’s a hint of questioning to it, as though she’s afraid of how Lena will respond.

Lena leans back a little, looking at Kara more fully. She finds blue eyes staring back at her, an unspoken question in them, and a hopefulness that makes Lena’s heart skip a beat.

“Is that something you want? Moving here?” Lena asks, eyebrows raised curiously, and she watches as Kara eyes dart around the room, taking her bottom lip into her mouth nervously.

“Is that something you want?” Kara parrots, voice small, as though she’s wary of overstepping boundaries that they’ve never addressed. Never crossed.

“If you want it, I want it, Kara,” Lena assures, giving her a soft smile. Kara lets out the breath she was holding, hand moving down from Lena’s head to stroke the small of her back.

“I want it all,” Kara says softly, grinning, and Lena inhales deeply, taking a moment to process Kara’s statement.

There’s no way Lena can keep avoiding this. She needs to know if Kara even realizes that she’s saying and doing things that blur the lines of their friendship. Because all these little things are making Lena fall harder for her every day, and she doesn’t want to keep living with this secret weighing her down, especially when all Kara asks for is her honesty.

“What do you mean?” Lena pushes lightly, and Kara’s brows furrow as she contemplates the question.

“What do I mean by what?”

“What do you mean by ‘I want it all’?”

Kara's hand goes still against Lena’s back. The air in the room thickens as Kara stays silent for a few long moments. Lena waits patiently for her to speak, her heart pounding in her ears.

“I want to make memories with you,” Kara whispers, a hesitant smile on her face. “I want to do everything, and experience everything, with you.”

“What’s ‘everything’?” Lena whispers back. She can hear Kara's quickened heartbeat, her shaky breaths brushing against Lena’s cheeks. Their faces are inches apart, and Lena can see every speck of blue in Kara’s eyes, can read every emotion after so many years of knowing her. Kara’s eyes are vulnerable yet trusting, as though she’s afraid of the outcome of this conversation, but trusts Lena not to let her fall without catching her.

“Just… everything. I want to be by your side,” Kara says. Her eyes are searching Lena’s, for an answer, for confirmation. For the same love that Lena can see in Kara’s gaze.

“I want to be by your side too,” Lena replies softly, smiling. Her hand comes up to cup Kara’s cheek, and the blonde leans into the touch, lips lifting into a small smile. “And experience everything with you,” Lena continues, thumb brushing the corner of Kara’s lips.

“Really?” Kara’s eyes are sparkling with amazement, and Lena can’t help but let out a small laugh. How could Kara ever think that Lena isn’t in love with her? That Lena doesn’t want to be with her, even though it's so painfully obvious that she does?

Lena decides to throw caution to the wind. She’s in too deep to go back now.

“I’m in love with you,” she whispers quietly. “In case you didn’t know. Or didn’t notice.”

“I didn’t want to assume,” Kara’s reply is immediate. “Or risk losing you again.” Her voice cracks at the end, and Lena recalls all the nights she spent crying after they fell out — she had always wondered if Kara was thinking about her too. And Kara’s admission tells her that she probably wasn’t the only one crying herself to sleep. That Kara had missed Lena just as much as Lena had missed her.

“You're not going to lose me,” Lena assures. “I'll always be here. It’s you and me, for as long as you want.”

“I want ‘us’,” Kara whispers, eyes flickering down to Lena’s lips, then coming back up to meet hers. “I’m in love with you too. In case you didn’t know. Or notice.”

“I really didn’t,” Lena says, laughing lightly, and Kara grins.

“I was being really obvious," Kara replies, grinning. She inches closer to Lena. “Can I kiss you now? I’ve been dying to for years.”

Lena doesn’t bother responding, she just leans forward, closing the distance between them and kissing Kara. The hand on Lena’s back pushes lightly, pressing their bodies together, and Lena’s hand slips to the back of Kara’s neck to pull her closer.

Kara kisses her with a sense of urgency, tongue gently exploring Lena’s mouth, and occasionally pausing just to smile against Lena’s lips, as though she can’t believe this is real. Which Lena can relate to, because she can’t believe this is real either.

Kara kisses her with a promise of the ‘everything’ to come — everything they’ll do and experience together, everything that Lena’s dreamed of for the past few years. Everything Lena thought would never happen.

The hand on Lena's back slips under her shirt, and there’s a soft whisper against her lips, “Is this okay?”

Lena nods, pulling her closer, and feels Kara grin against her lips.

“I love you,” Kara whispers, kissing her gently.

“I love you too,” Lena replies, smiling.

Then Kara’s lips are back on hers, insistent and wanting, and Lena loses herself in the moment.

 


 

Lena only remembers about the article the next morning when they're lazing in bed. Kara's fingers are skimming over her bare back, occasionally placing light kisses on her skin.

“Wanna know something?” Lena asks, laughing as she recalls the article. When she first clicked on it almost a week ago, she never thought that they’d end up here.

“Hm?” Kara hums, leaning forward and kissing Lena’s lips. When they part, Kara doesn’t move away, leaving their faces inches apart. A kiss is dropped onto Lena’s nose, making her laugh.

“Before you came into my office for lunch on Monday, I was searching ‘signs your crush likes you back’ on Google. That’s how I started thinking about whether you actually loved me back," Lena admits, laughing.

Kara bursts into laughter, grinning with mirth. “You asked Google?”

“Desperate times called for desperate measures.”

Kara kisses Lena again. “I’ve been in love with you for years. I’m surprised you didn’t catch on.”

“I could say the same to you,” Lena replies, one eyebrow raised. Kara chuckles in response, wrapping her arms tighter around Lena and pulling her closer. “At least we’re here now,” Lena continues, placing a kiss on Kara’s jaw.

Kara hums in agreement. “And I couldn’t be happier about that,” Kara murmurs, leaning forward and pressing their lips together. “We can always make up for lost time.”

Lena smiles. “Yes we can.”

“Before that though,” Kara leans over to the bedside table and unplugs Lena’s phone from the charger, “you have to show me that article.”

Lena laughs as Kara unlocks her phone — in hindsight, the fact that Kara’s Face ID is registered in her phone should probably have made her think twice about the blurred lines in their friendship. And there were so many other signs she had missed.

And as Lena recalls all the moments in the past week that pertained to each bullet point in the article, Kara is laughing, questioning how the both of them had been so terribly oblivious.

“I stared at you all the time. How did you not figure it out?” Kara asks incredulously.

“Shut up. You didn’t figure it out either, even though I stared at you all the time, too,” Lena counters, eyebrows raised.

“Fair point. We’re both idiots.”

Lena nods, placing a kiss on Kara’s cheek. “Agreed.”