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a novelty move

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Four year old Lena is all wild dark curls and endless questions. She looks at the world through her mother’s eyes and wants to know how every part of it works.

Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? What happens when we die?

Her mother answers every question. She tells her about scattered light and chlorophyll, about how no one knows for sure what happens when we die but she likes to think that we live on in the sky and blades of grass.

How she herself will live on in the color of Lena’s eyes and the curve of her smile and the memories they make together.

They make a lot of memories.

Her mother takes her to the library every Wednesday where Lena is allowed to check out three new books to read at bedtime. They take picnics to the park and sit beside the fountain sharing sandwiches made with love, watching the ducks splash and dive.

They play games.

Lena’s mother teaches her how to draw perfect squares in pink chalk and jump across them. How to do puzzles upside down and flip them over to reveal the picture when they’re finished. How to make wishes on shooting stars and dandelions and stray eyelashes.

She teaches her how to build little boats out of aluminum foil using words like ‘aerodynamic’ and ‘hydrodynamic’ that catch on Lena’s tongue. They race the little boats across the pond in the backyard, and pretend they’re sailing across the deep blue sea to new lands.

They go swimming.

Lena loves the fountain at the park, and the backyard’s familiar pond, but this lake is too big, too dark, and she’s too scared to do more than put her toes in. When her mother wades further in to teach her how to float on her back, Lena watches as she slips beneath the water.

For a long time Lena stands there, wondering if this is a new game, one she doesn’t know the rules to yet. The longer she waits, the more she thinks that she doesn’t like this game or this lake or the heavy feeling in her chest.

Only when the sun starts to sink on the horizon like a body beneath the waves does someone come to Lena’s side to ask her where her mother went. Only when red and blue emergency lights dance across the pitch black water does Lena realize that it’s not a game at all.

When she’s put into the back of a police car, cold and alone, she thinks of silver boats trapped in darkness and her chest aches.

-

When Lena is nine Lex shows her a videotape of a man playing chess against a computer. He explains to her that the man is the greatest chess player in the world, even better than his own instructor, Anatoly Karpov (“but don’t tell Mother I said that”).

She’s already learned not to tell Lillian anything.

Lena watches the man on the screen play six different games against the computer. He makes each decision carefully, sometimes taking a whole day just to make one move. By the end of the sixth game the man has lost, and while Lex opines about bad opening moves, brute force computation, and the ingenuity of the human spirit, Lena wonders about the computer.

It’s name is Deep Blue and it stirs something in her chest.

She wonders if the computer likes playing chess or if it would rather play something else, and if anyone ever gave it a choice.

When the tape whirs to its end, Lex pops it from the VCR and replaces it with another. This time the same man is playing against a team of other chess masters. They’re using the internet to play and each person on the team gets to vote on each move.

‘Gary Kasparov vs the World’ the series is called and Lex coaches her through it. He shows her where each piece goes, how to write down each move to keep track of play, and how to start predicting what your opponent might play next.

On the tenth move the World Team makes a novelty move. Lex explains that this means a move that has never before been played in recorded history. When they learn that the player behind the move was a woman named Irina Krush, Lex rolls his eyes, but Lena watches with rapt attention.

After sixty-two moves Gary Kasparov wins. Lex calls it the greatest game of chess ever played.

Lena looks down at her little notepad with each move written neatly in order and circles move number ten. The next time she and Lex play against each other, she wins.

It is the first time she beats him but it is not the last.

-

When she’s fifteen Andrea Rojas teaches her how to tie a cherry stem in a knot using only her tongue. Lena watches in rapt attention as Andrea plucks a bright red cherry from a jar and picks off the stem, popping it in her mouth. She drops the fruit into the bottle of whisky she’d stolen from her father’s bar over Easter break.

Andrea’s tongue swirls around and around, and Lena’s eyes trace the movement even as she takes a long drink of whisky. It burns all the way down her throat into her belly.

A minute later Andrea sticks out her tongue to reveal the twisted stem.

“Pretty cool, right?” Andrea asks, sounding proud of herself. Lena looks from the little red stem to Andrea’s cool gray eyes and sets down her drink.

“Can you teach me?” she asks.

She is rewarded with Andrea’s wolfish grin and soft hands pulling her across the bed. That night Lena learns how to french kiss and how to unhook a bra with one hand. That’s when she and Andrea start a new kind of game.

During the day they are best friends. They share everything and giggle about boys and occasionally ditch out on class to do typical teenage things, like go to the mall or sneak behind the bleachers to smoke cigarettes.

Lena doesn’t love missing class and she hates the smell of cigarette smoke, but she loves Andrea, and that makes it all worth it. Because when the sun goes down it’s just the two of them tangled together on a twin bed, learning the rules of games Lena never dreamed she’d play.

After Andrea betrays her it feels like losing much more than a silly game. They don’t see each other again for a long time afterward but when they do Lena can still taste whisky and cherries.

That’s when she decides that she’s better off playing alone.

-

At twenty-two Jack Spheer loops her into a game of truth or dare as a way to clear their minds after a long day of squinting into microscopes. They’re squished together on a love seat in Jack’s garage, eating leftover Chinese food and trading easy truths.

Lena dares to think that maybe this time things will work out.

Jack is smart and kind and wants to make the world a better place as much as she does. He’s got warm eyes and strong hands and he’s tall enough to intimidate even Lillian Luthor (though she would never admit it).

“Truth or dare?” she asks around a mouthful of lo-mein. Overhead a fluorescent light flickers erratically. Lena makes a mental note to fix it in the morning while she waits for Jack to answer.

“Considering your extremely boring answer to my last question, I do believe I will go with dare. Someone’s got to make this entertaining.”

She swats him on the shoulder and he nearly spills his shrimp fried rice.

“It was the truth and it was not boring,” she gives him her best Luthor glare but he’s grown immune over the years and rolls his eyes in return.

“If going down on Andrea Rojas is the most daring thing you’ve ever done, you need to get out and live a little more, love.”

“It was in the organic chemistry lab, during school hours. That’s daring.”

“Pfft,” he brings another forkful of rice to his mouth, and spills a little onto his beard. She reaches over to brush it away without thinking.

It’s nice. Easy.

Being with Jack has always been easy.

“You’re going to regret mocking me.”

She attempts to think of a dare that will exact the appropriate revenge, but before she can, Jack sits up a little straighter and turns to face her fully.

“I dare you to kiss me,” he says with a charming grin that’s all teeth and bravery. Lena stares at him blankly for what must be too long because his smile falters.

“It’s not your turn, Jackie.”

“Lena,” he says softly, taking the carton of noodles from her hand, and setting it on the cement floor. His other hand finds hers on the back of the love seat.

She doesn’t pull away.

They’ve been working together for years and all told this has been the most stable relationship she’s ever had excluding maybe her brother. Jack is handsome and Jack is smart and Jack wants her to kiss him.

So she does.

It’s nice. It’s easy. Just a warm press of lips and a little tickle from his mustache that sends a flutter into her chest. She leans into him, lets her arms wind around his neck and thinks that maybe this will be okay. Maybe this will work.

Three years later Jack will die in her arms and she’ll wish he’d chosen truth.

-

Lena moves to National City at twenty-four.

Her mother is still dead, her brother now in prison, Andrea somewhere out in the world, and Jack alive and kicking in Metropolis. She can still see the tears in his eyes as he begged her to stay but nothing had been able to quell the stuttering hope beating in her chest.

She wants to help him cure cancer, she does. But she also wants to save her family’s legacy, to use the Luthor name to do some good in the world, to live a life that maybe her mother would have been proud of.

So she hauls herself across the country, changes the company name to L-Corp, and does the best she can. She hires the most phenomenal assistant she’s ever had, a woman named Jess who learns all her little quirks and foibles, who also feels something like a friend.

She finds a coffee stand she likes, a dry-cleaner who knows how to handle Balenciaga, and in no time at all National City really starts to feel like home.

No more so than on days when Kara Danvers breezes into her office with wide smiles and outstretched hands that hold illicit Big Belly burgers or mid afternoon pick me ups. No more so than when Kara Danvers writes about Lena and L-Corp with unwavering confidence and pride.

No more so than when Kara Danvers pouts and pleads and invites her to something called ‘game night’ on at least eight different occasions.

Kara is all sunshine and hope. She believes in Lena so much that sometimes she doesn’t know what to do with all that faith. So she tucks it away quietly inside her heart, letting it bloom there like the light in Kara’s eyes when she finally agrees to attend.

“Yes!” Kara wraps her up in a tight hug, and Lena lets herself sink into deceptively strong arms and the smell of CatCo coffee. She presses her palms against Kara’s shoulder blades and they stand there together for a moment, Kara rocking them happily from side to side.

It’s a novelty move for a Luthor, letting someone in.

When they break apart Kara’s cheeks are dusted a pretty pink.

“It’s going to be so fun. We’ll play Scrabble, and UNO, and oh! Monopoly. We had a ‘no Monopoly’ rule for a while because Alex insisted that Winn was cheating last time we played and almost gave him a black eye, but I’m sure that moratorium can be lifted for you. I bet you’re great at Monopoly.”

Lena is terrible at Monopoly but nothing in the world could make her admit it right at this moment.

“That sounds great, Kara. Is there anything I can bring?”

“Just yourself! Oh, and maybe some booze? I don’t know what you like but it’s usually a pretty boozy affair.”

They’re both all smiles when Kara gives her Alex’s address and tells her she’ll see her at 8:00 pm sharp. She wraps her up in one last quick hug before practically sprinting out the door.

When Lena shows up at 7:59 she’s got two bottles of cabernet and a flutter of hope in her chest.

-

When Lena is twenty-six she loses her best friend, her brother (again), and her whole world, and none of it feels like a game at all.

-

By the time she’s twenty-eight things have settled down. After heart breaks and betrayals, near deaths and inter-dimensional travel, she has finally settled back into what feels like a normal life.

Finding her way back to herself is the most painful, difficult, amazing thing that Lena thinks she’s ever done.

It is also her favorite because at the end of it all there was Kara, waiting for her.

-

This time when Lena arrives at Alex and Kelly’s house it is 7:59 pm, and she is twenty-nine and she’s holding two bottles of wine in one hand, and her heart in the other. She tucks it quietly away with the nerves she’s been feeling over their first game night since defeating Nyxly, and knocks.

Kelly answers the door, ushering her in with a one armed hug and questions about her day.

It’s nice. It’s easy.

The house is as warm and welcoming as Kelly.

They’re still getting settled, with moving boxes here and there, and a wall covered in test swatches of different colored paint. There are framed photos on the piano that sits against one wall, and Lena’s heart swells as she spots her own face in more than a few.

In one photo she is squished between Kelly and Brainy, all three of them grinning wide, and when Kelly sees her looking at it she offers to print her a copy.

Lena nods her thanks, and they move into the kitchen.

Esme’s latest finger painting is clipped to the refrigerator. Little stick figures adorn the page in a rainbow of colors with “My Family” painted at the top in a childish scrawl. Lena picks out one figure with two smudges of long black hair and a red mouth standing beside another painted all blue and gold.

She swallows down the lump in her throat.

“The others are in the game room,” Kelly says, taking one of the bottles of wine and beginning the process of opening it. “I think Alex wants to play Risk tonight but Nia was trying to talk her out of it.”

Lena snorts.

“Good luck to her on that.”

They share a knowing smile and Kelly passes her a glass of wine. She does not hesitate before taking a sip. It warms her down to her toes and she feels some of the nerves that have been tickling at her mind slip further away.

The sound of footsteps comes from the stairs and Lena doesn’t have to look to know that it’s Kara. She looks anyway, because it’s Kara.

Kara, whose hair is falling in soft blonde curls that glow like a halo beneath the kitchen lights. Who’s wearing an old NCU sweatshirt that’s achingly familiar and yoga pants that show her ankles, which Lena is pretty sure are her own.

Kara, who sees Lena standing at the kitchen island and smiles so wide that the corners of her eyes wrinkle.

“So, I may have told Esme that we could go to the water park tomorrow in exchange for her going to bed like a very good girl. I’m sorry,” she grins in a way that is decidedly not at all sorry. “You guys like the water park, right?”

“I love the water park,” Lena agrees easily and Kara beams.

Lena does not, historically, love the water park but nothing in the world could make her admit it right at this moment.

For a second she thinks of fountains and small ponds and dark lakes. Then she imagines teaching Esme to fold little silver boats and push them across the water. She makes a mental note to pick up some aluminum foil and decides maybe this time the water park won’t be so bad.

Kelly hands Kara a bottle of alien alcohol strong enough to kill a human, and leads them into the back room. As they go Kara takes a long drink and shoots Lena a wink.

The game room is large and comfortable. It’s packed with two overstuffed couches, a pool table, a ping pong table, and every board game imaginable. She scans the packed shelves seeing some familiar titles and many she’s never heard of before. She notes the distinct lack of Monopoly.

At the pool table Alex and J’onn are engaged in a very serious looking game. Alex’s intense focus breaks only long enough to press a kiss to the corner of Kelly’s mouth as she accepts a bottle of beer, before returning to the striped ball in the corner.

Across the room Nia is at the stereo scrolling through her phone and explaining to a very interested looking Brainy that podcasts do not count as appropriate game night entertainment. No, not even if they’re about quantum mechanics. In fact, especially not then.

“I love that podcast,” Lena chimes in when she’s close enough for them to hear and Nia rolls her eyes, muttering something that sounds distinctly like ‘nerds’ while Brainy raises his arms in greeting.

“You see?” he says as though he’s won a victory. “Lena has excellent taste.”

“You and Lena can podcast it up all you want on your own time,” Nia says with a wave of her hand before finally selecting a song. A moment later Bauhaus comes filtering over the speakers.

Beside her Kara scoffs.

“Nia, this is not game night music.”

“I’m in my vintage goth phase,” Nia says defensively. “Alex says it’s a right of passage. Don’t take this away from me.”

Kara flops onto one of the couches with a pout, and Lena sinks down next to her, giving her a pat on the thigh. It seems to cheer her up, if only marginally.

“Fine, but I’m playing Nsync later and I will hear no complaints.”

“You’ll get none from me,” Nia concedes.

They settle into comfortable conversation, sipping their drinks while Alex and J’onn finish up their game of pool.

It’s easy and familiar in a way that feels like coming home after a long day.

Lena pretends to listen to Nia educate Brainy on the cultural impact of Joy Division without actually hearing a word she says.

Instead she is focused on the drape of Kara’s arm around her shoulders, and the press of Kara’s thigh against her own. It took a long time for them to get back to the point where they could touch each other with such ease, and Lena sinks into it like a warm bath.

“You’re thinking thoughts,” Kara says beside her ear. Her voice is light, her speech slurred just enough for Lena to notice. It settles comfortably in her chest.

“That’s how brains work, darling.”

Kara practically glows at the term of endearment.

Her cheeks are rosy from drinking and her eyes are sparkling with something Lena can’t pinpoint. She looks so happy and bright that Lena’s sure if she opened her mouth sunlight would come spilling out.

“I’m really glad you’re here,” Kara says, the arm squeezing around Lena pulling her that much closer. Her fingers curl into her bicep, anchoring. Lena lets her head fall against the back of the couch and then onto Kara’s shoulder.

Nia has moved on to explaining that Siouxsie and the Banshees are not actually banshees and beside her Kara is nodding along like she’s listening, wisps of her hair tickling Lena’s face. She's so comfortable that she's sure if she closed her eyes she would drift off to sleep.

“I love my moms,” Nia says looking at them with a grin. Before Brainy can ask she’s already explaining that no, Kara and Lena are not her real moms, and yes, they would have told him if that were the case.

A loud whoop followed by an “in your face” from the pool table tells them that Alex won the final game, and it’s now time for group activities. J’onn takes his loss with as much grace as he takes everything, and clinks his bottle against Alex’s in congratulations.

“Risk!” Alex calls out and everyone groans simultaneously.

“Not tonight, babe,” Kelly says in a tone that is one part apologetic, two parts firm. Alex grumbles about winning pool and how that should make her the one who gets to choose the next game, but she is summarily outvoted.

“What about charades?” J’onn suggests receiving a chorus of noncommittal noises.

“Pictionary?”

“Parcheesi?”

“I have recently begun playing mah-jongg,” Brainy is quickly shut down but not before Lena asks him to teach her how to play sometime. He absolutely beams, and Nia mutters another affectionate ‘nerds’.

More suggestions are made and quickly shot down.

“Okay, okay. I’ve got it,” Nia stands from where she’s been cocooned in the throw that was draped along the back of the couch and spreads her arms wide, creating the illusion of wings, before quickly wrapping them around herself again. “Hide and seek.”

The room is uncharacteristically quiet for a moment while everyone processes that. It’s not the kind of game they normally play, preferring to stick to board games or the occasional run of cards. They once tried playing freeze tag to disastrous results when Kara broke the ‘no super powers’ rule and had everybody stuck in place in a matter of seconds, leading to a Danvers Sisters quarrel that took Lena and Kelly an hour to moderate.

“That sounds…” Kara tilts her head as she considers the idea of hide and seek. Her tongue pokes out at the corner of her mouth thoughtfully in a move that is much too cute for Lena to look directly at. “Kinda fun.”

“I haven’t played hide and seek in at least twenty years,” Alex says.

“I’ve never played,” J’onn offers.

There’s a collective gasp.

“Nor have I,” says Brainy eliciting a second gasp and the frantic clapping of Nia’s hands.

“Oh my god, okay. That settles it! We are playing. So let's set up some ground rules for the newbies,” she quickly explains the basics of hide and seek while J’onn and Brainy nod along.

Lena takes this opportunity to wiggle out of Kara’s grasp to go refill their drinks.

She is not surprised when the blonde trails her to the kitchen and leans against the counter while she pours.

“Lena,” Kara sing-songs.

Lena raises an eyebrow, topping off her glass.

The swirl of alcohol is warm in her belly and the easy feeling of the night is warm in her heart, and Lena feels so happy just to be here that she’s afraid if she speaks too loudly it might all disappear.

“Lena,” Kara says again, and when Lena turns to look her in the eye she’s got that same look in her eye she had earlier. She’s close, and Lena can smell the spice of her shampoo and the faint smell of fresh air that always lingers on her skin after she’s flown. One of her hands reaches for Lena’s wrist, brushing gently at the soft skin there.

“Yes?” her voice comes out much lower than she had intended.

In an instant the moment is heavy with something she’s been afraid to name since the first time Kara Danvers breezed into her office offering game nights and hope and unwavering faith.

“Be my hide and seek partner?” Kara is close enough that all Lena can see is the blue of her eyes and the glow of her skin. Her hand slips down from her wrist to slide their palms together.

“There are no partners in hide and seek,” Lena says around a coy smile that knows isn't half as confident as she'd like it to be. She’s got her wine glass clutched to her chest with one hand and the other lifts to pat Kara affectionately on the cheek and completely without her permission, it settles there.

Kara leans into her touch.

They’re standing toe to toe, the warmth that always radiates off of Kara drawing her in like a moth to a flame.

“I could float us up to the roof. No one would find us there and we would definitely win,” Kara says.

She wraps her free arm around Lena’s waist, drawing her closer as if to take flight. She could swear she feels Kara's biceps flex just a little bit extra and the feeling makes her heart thump loudly in her chest. She looks down at her wine to try to catch her breath.

“That would be against the ‘no super powers’ rule.”

When she looks up Kara's eyes are somehow impossibly brighter, her face close enough that their noses almost brush. Her thumb traces against the curve of Kara’s cheek and it’s all she can do not to slide her hand up to tangle in blonde hair.

“No one would have to know.”

“There’s no cheating at game night, that’s the second rule of game night. Second only to the aforementioned ‘no super powers’ rule.”

“Come on,” Kara all but whines. It is adorably, impossibly cute and Lena can feel her heart beating in her throat.

“Rules are rules,” she means it to be stern but it comes out soft enough to be a whisper and she can only watch as Kara’s eyes drop to her lips devastating and inevitable. Between them Lena’s hand grips her wine glass until her knuckles are white.

“Lena, can I-”

Before Kara can finish whatever it was she was going to say or do, the sound of breaking glass comes from the next room, something shattered like the moment.

They spring apart like teenagers caught doing something they shouldn’t. Lena clutches her wine glass more tightly against her chest, amazed that it hasn’t spilled all over her. Blood is rushing in her ears so loudly that she's sure the sound of her beating heart must be deafening to Kara.

Kara, who snags another bottle of her special alcohol from the counter and glares back at the doorway. Who looks back to Lena with the beginnings of a pout before sighing loudly.

“Guess we should make sure everything’s okay,” she says and Lena can only nod. Kara leads the way back into the game room, and she takes a moment to catch her breath before following.

It’s not the first time Lena has felt like they might be on the precipice of something that makes her heart hammer in a mixture of excitement and fear. There have been moments, huddled together over projects in the tower, or sharing a blanket during movie nights, where Lena has thought that maybe something was going to happen.

But she’s always held back at the last second out of fear. Fear that whatever might happen would ruin the friendship they worked so hard to rebuild. Fear that Kara might change her mind or draw back or realize that she definitely deserves better.

As Lena follows Kara back into the game room she does her best to push those fears down.

-

When Lena turns thirty Sam and Ruby come to visit from Metropolis. It’s the end of October and even though it’s chilly outside, Ruby wants to play soccer. So they bundle up in sweaters and Kara and Nia make hot chocolate and they all spill out into the backyard to kick the ball around.

Alex spends thirty minutes struggling to set up the goal they’d bought and refusing any help, which gives the rest of them plenty of time to settle in.

Kara and Ruby kick the ball back and forth while Ruby regales her with tales of last season's championship game and how she’s definitely making varsity in the spring. Kara listens with rapt attention. Eventually Esme wiggles out of her mom’s lap to join them, and they take much delight in teaching her how to kick the ball.

Lena, Kelly and Sam huddle up around the outdoor heater while Nia mercifully goes over to assist Alex who has finally given up and opened the instructions.

“So, Lena. The big three-oh. Finally joining me in middle life,” Sam teases.

“You’re thirty-two.”

“Exactly. I’m basically the crypt keeper, and now you are joining me in the mausoleum. So what are your big plans for the next chapter of your life?” she asks with a knowing smile that’s poorly hidden behind the rim of her cocoa mug.

Lena gives her a dry look.

“No big plans.”

“Ugh, you’re so boring,” Sam sighs. “I can’t believe I came all the way here just to find that you have still not kissed a certain beautiful, blonde Kryptonian.”

“Sam,” she hisses but there’s little heat to it. The heat is all in her cheeks if the blush she feels rising is any indication. Still she doesn’t take her eyes off of Kara, who’s now showing Esme how to bounce a soccer ball on various body parts.

Kelly pats her hand comfortingly.

“Lena, I love you and I know it’s your birthday so we’re supposed to be extra nice to you,” she says in that Kelly way that’s so gentle and understanding you sometimes don’t even realize you’re being teased. “But we’re getting old here waiting for you to make a move.”

Sam laughs loudly enough to draw attention and Kara looks over at them in the middle of bouncing the soccer ball on her head for, by Lena’s count, the sixty-third time in a row. Their eyes meet for just a moment before the ball slams down directly onto Kara’s nose. She yelps in surprise, slapping her hand to her face.

Everyone laughs except for Lena who’s heart is so full of overwhelming fondness that she can’t keep it from her smile. Kara looks back at her with a scrunched up nose and flushed cheeks and grins.

“Unbelievable,” Sam mutters into her cocoa.

Eventually Alex and Nia wrangle the net into something resembling a goal, and they split up into teams. Kelly excuses herself to go put Esme down for a nap, leaving Lena and Sam to watch Kara and Ruby square off against Alex and Nia. By the time Kelly returns things are already heated, with Alex calling out plays that Nia insists mean absolutely nothing.

The afternoon sun peaks out from behind the cloud cover and layers are shed until both Danvers sisters are running around in leggings and t-shirts. Alex darts by with a particularly skilled dribble that trips up Kara and shoots Kelly a wink as she kicks the ball into the goal without looking.

“My wife is so hot,” Kelly swoons. Sam raises her cup of cocoa.

“Cheers, bro. I’ll drink to that.”

Their mugs clink in agreement.

Lena, who also has eyes, nods along absently but her gaze drifts inevitably to the other Danvers sister who is currently floating six inches off the ground in front of the goal, waiting for the next attempted shot.

She’s wearing a Little Miss Sunshine t-shirt with a hole in the armpit, and her hair is slipping out of its ponytail from running around the yard, and when Nia attempts a goal she darts just a little too high to stop it, allowing her to score.

She’s a little breathless and laughing and so devastatingly beautiful that Lena wants to file the image away in her memory forever.

“I’m in love with Kara,” she says quietly.

Sam and Kelly share a look, making no sudden moves as though she’s a deer that might startle. Lena can feel it happen but remains unable to look away from Kara, now giving Ruby a piggyback ride as they take their victory lap around the yard.

“Yeah, babe,” Sam says gently. “We know.”

-

Two weeks after her birthday Lena hosts game night for the first time.

She’s nervous and pacing, checking and rechecking the food and drinks for the nth time even though yes, everything is definitely perfect, and yes, six pizzas should be enough even with Kara in attendance - probably.

She allows herself one glass of wine before people are due to start arriving and it helps calm her fluttering heart only marginally. Game night starts at 8:00 as usual, but at 7:49 there’s a familiar knock at her balcony door.

Through the glass she can see Kara, Supergirl suit giving way to a clean white button up and dark jeans. She’s got a smile on her face and a paper sack clutched under one arm.

Lena waves her inside.

“I brought those little macarons you like, the ones that taste like flowers.”

“They’re lavender, and they’re lovely.”

“They taste like soap.”

“A food Kara Danvers doesn’t like? Alert the media.”

“I am the media,” Kara grins, passing her the bag and stepping in to wrap her up in a hug. Her arms are as strong and safe as ever, and Lena indulges herself a little in leaning her face against her shoulder. They stand like that together for a moment, and Lena feels her nerves begin to ebb.

“Thank you,” she says into the material of Kara’s shirt.

“Always.”

Reluctantly Lena pulls away, moving into the kitchen to deposit the macarons onto a plate for sharing, and giving herself some space to breathe. Kara’s eyes track her the whole way as she follows, dropping onto a bar stool.

“You’re nervous,” Kara says, softly and without judgement, simply giving Lena room and permission to feel however she’s feeling. Lena nods, setting the plate of little purple circles in front of Kara who wrinkles her nose.

“A little. I know it’s silly.”

“It’s not,” Kara reaches out to run her fingers against Lena’s knuckles in a show of comfort. “I still get nervous hosting game nights sometimes and I’ve done it a million times. Like what if there’s not enough food, or Alex flips the Scrabble board and we lose an important letter like X. There’s only one X, Lena! If it gets lost then the whole game is unplayable!”

Lena laughs and lets Kara graze her knuckles for few seconds longer before pulling away to refill her wine glass. She holds up the bottle of alien alcohol she keeps on hand for Kara who nods, and pours her a glass as well.

“How often does anyone really use the X?”

“It’s worth eight points! What if you have all the letters for x-ray, but no X? Or xylophone? Or…”

Kara bites her lower lip while she tries to find another word that includes the letter X.

“Sexy,” Lena says without thinking. Kara’s teeth dig more firmly into the flesh of her lip and her cheeks color slightly.

“Yeah,” she breathes. Lena hands over her drink and Kara takes it slowly, their fingers touching. Lena manages at last to drag her eyes from Kara’s mouth up to her eyes only to find blue eyes gazing back at her in an intense stare.

“Lena, I-”

The elevator that opens up into Lena’s apartment dings loudly, making them both jump.

“All right, Luthor. I’m here to kick your ass in Trivial Pursuit,” Alex calls loudly from behind a tower of board games so tall it covers her face. Lena and Kara share a shy smile before Kara is slipping away to take some of the games from her sister’s arms.

Their friends come spilling into the penthouse, Nia letting out a low whistle as she takes it all in.

“Damn, Lena. You live like this?”

“Hey!” Kara says in Lena’s defense, her chin propped on top of a battered game of Clue. “Lena’s place is great. It’s clean and it’s quiet and it smells good.”

Nia arches an eyebrow in a move that even Lena finds impressive.

“Does it now?”

Kara says nothing, turning to deposit the games onto the coffee table but the tops of her ears are visibly pink.

Everyone starts to settle in. Lena passes out drinks, and Brainy sets up the white board for Pictionary, and Nia moves over to do her job as the self appointed DJ of game night. She settles quickly on some chill lo-fi beats to relax or play games to.

It’s nice. Easy.

By the time she’s settling in between Kelly and Kara for the first round of Trivial Pursuit Lena’s nerves are all but forgotten. She does in fact get her ass kicked by Alex, which the older Danvers sister is all too smug about, until Lena and Kara dominate in Pictionary which puts a damper on her celebration.

By the time eleven o’clock rolls around everyone is relaxing and just the slightest bit tipsy. The music has settled into something soothing that has Lena feeling boneless as she leans heavily into Kara’s side, watching as J’onn and Kelly play their second round of cribbage.

Alex is half asleep on the floor, her head pillowed in Kelly’s lap. Brainy and Nia have moved out to the balcony for some fresh air and when their faces get close enough for kissing Lena looks away to give them some privacy.

She looks right to Kara who is already looking at her.

“Hi,” Kara says quietly, her arm slipping down from the back of the couch to settle properly around Lena’s shoulders. Lena reaches up to put her hand over Kara’s, anchoring her there. It's a mirror image of their position during the last game night, and the one before that, and the one before that if she's being honest.

“Hi back.”

“I like it when you host game night.”

“Yeah, me too.”

When Nia and Brainy come back in from the balcony, it’s hand and hand and with matching smiles on their faces. They excuse themselves quickly, and it’s only a few minutes before J’onn and Kelly finish up their game and the rest follow suit.

“Be good,” Alex says with a tired slur, pressing a kiss to Kara’s temple before she leaves. Kelly gives Lena a warm squeeze on the arm as she says goodbye, and then like that it’s just the two of them.

The room feels very quiet without the murmur of voices and Nia’s music filtering over the speakers. There are beer bottles on the counter that need to be put away, and board game pieces still littering the coffee table, but Kara is looking at her carefully and all Lena wants to do is forget about it all until tomorrow.

“That’s three game nights in a row we’ve won, you know,” Kara says with a sleepy grin. The back of her hair is a little mussed from leaning back against the couch, and she’s taken off her glasses leaving no barrier between Lena and the shiny blue of her eyes. “We make a pretty good team.”

“We do,” Lena agrees. They’re still standing in the entryway after bidding everyone goodnight, and suddenly Lena’s not sure what to do with her hands. She twists her fingers together and looks at Kara, who’s got her hands stuffed in her pockets like she’s fighting something.

“Lena-”

“Kara-”

They both laugh, feet shuffling. Lena gestures for her to go first and Kara takes a few steps closer, stopping just an arm’s length away. If Lena wanted to, she could reach out and touch her, and she wants to more, she thinks, than she has ever wanted anything in her entire life.

She looks at Kara, beautiful brave Kara who carries the world on her shoulders and a dead planet in her heart. Who has saved Lena more times than she can count, in every way possible. Who looks at Lena like she’s something holy.

Kara, who Lena loves more than she has ever loved anyone in her life, and who she fought tooth and nail to get back to.

Lena reaches out, places her palm over Kara’s chest where the weight of a family legacy usually rests, and she feels Kara let out a shaky breath. She can feel her heart beating in her chest, strong and steady.

When Lena looks up Kara is already looking at her, the same as always, only this time her eyes are wide and shining, full of hope and a hint of tears, and so much love that Lena feels her heart crack open to let it all in.

Kara wraps her arms around her, hands firm at the small of her back. Lena feels weightless, like if she looked down she would find that they're floating above the ground but she can’t tear her eyes away from Kara.

Lena looks at Kara, beautiful brave Kara, and she feels brave too.

“I have wanted to kiss you since the first time I saw you, and I would like to do so now.”

The only thing more beautiful than the sound of Kara’s boisterous laugh is the feel of Kara’s warm mouth pressed against her own. The first press of lips is half smile, the second a kind of settling in, and by the third her mouth is slotted so perfectly against Kara’s that it’s like flipping the puzzle over to reveal the full picture.

Lena’s fingers twist into the material of Kara’s shirt, tugging her closer. They’re pressed together so tightly that all she can feel is Kara's heart beating against her chest and Kara’s tongue in her mouth, and Kara's hands sliding along her back.

It’s like soaking in the summer sun the way Kara burns against her, hot and bright and everywhere.

When they finally break apart it’s just enough to press their foreheads together. Lena’s hands come up to cup Kara’s face, brushing away the tears she finds there, tracing every part of her she can reach.

“Yeah, we definitely won game night,” Kara says breathlessly.

Lena laughs and laughs until Kara leans back in, swallowing the sound.