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Missing calls (but never yours)

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“Ugh, I’m losing my mind,” Alex groans as Kara’s voicemail plays.

“She’s still not picking up?” Kelly asks. “Do we know why?”

“I’m hoping not.”

Kelly gives her wife a confused look. “What do you mean, you hope not?”

“Well, you know how we had sister’s night yesterday?”

Kelly nods.

“We made our own pizzas and I put spinach on mine.”

“You… put spinach on your pizza?” Kelly repeats slowly. “And that’s… bad?”

Alex lets out a sigh. “To Kara, yes. She said I was ‘committing a crime against pizza’ and that she needed space after I ‘tried to burn her retina’s night out of her skull’.” Alex rolls her eyes as she uses air quotes around her sister’s melodramatic response to seeing a vegetable on pizza.

Kelly laughs. “Is that really enough for her to ignore your calls?”

“No.” Alex pauses. “I don’t know. Maybe. I can’t think of any other reason she’d ignore me like this.”

A short knock sounds on the door to the conference room before Nia walks through the doorway, Lena and Brainy following close behind. After a brief chorus of hellos, Lena raises an eyebrow as she glances around the room.

“Where’s Kara?”

Alex groans at the question. “I don’t know. She won’t answer her phone.”

“Still?” Nia asks. “I figured she would’ve shown up by now.”

“What do you mean, ‘still’?” Lena asks.

“She was supposed to meet us here a couple of hours ago to sort out some of the plan for this meeting,” Nia explains. “But she didn’t show. We both called her but she didn’t answer. I figured she was just busy.”

“She can’t honestly be this upset about spinach,” Alex whines.

Lena laughs. “I wouldn’t be too sure of that. She still makes a face every time I eat salad for lunch.”

“But does she ghost you afterwards?”

Lena shakes her head, but continues to chuckle.

“I’ll try her again,” Nia says, pulling out her phone. The group waits in silence, but once again Kara’s voicemail sounds.

“Oh, come on,” Alex says.

“I’ll try calling her,” Lena offers.

“Lena, we called her like, seven times,” Nia complains. “I don’t think—”

“Hello?” Kara’s voice filters through Lena’s phone.

Immediately the room erupts into chaos, Alex letting out a string of curses while everyone else exclaims “What!?

“Lena?” Kara says again. “Are you alright?”

“I’m just fine, Kara,” Lena says, a smug smirk on her face. “I was just wondering when you were planning on coming to the DEO? We’re waiting for you to start this meeting.”

“Oh, crap! I completely forgot,” Kara says. “I’ll be there in a second!

The line goes dead, and Kara walks through the door breathless less than a minute later.

“What the hell was that, Kara!?” Alex yells as soon as she lays eyes on Kara.

Kara throws up her hands in defense. “What? I just forgot!”

“Forgot what?” Alex continues. “Forgot how to answer your phone for anyone but Lena?”

Kara’s eyebrows furrow in confusion and she pulls out her phone. “Huh? But you didn’t— Oh.” 

“Yeah, Nia and I both called you and no answer, but Lena barely had to wait half a second before you picked up!”

“I’m sorry! I was working on the final edits for the issue that’s going out tomorrow, so I put my phone on ‘do not disturb’.” To her credit, Kara looks guilty, like a child who promised to clean their room but never did.

Alex’s fury seems to die down at Kara’s apologetic tone, but her frown remains. “So how did Lena’s call go through?”

Kara’s posture goes from defensive to embarrassed and her cheeks pinken in only a moment. “I… uh… I don’t know. That’s like… super weird.”

Alex gives her a skeptical look. “You know, I have no idea how you ever hid your identity from anyone. You’re such a terrible liar.”

“I am not!” Kara says indignantly.

“Does it matter why Lena’s the only one that’s allowed to call Kara?” Nia interrupts. “Can’t we just get this meeting over with?”

“Yeah, Alex,” Kara says quickly before Alex can push the issue further. “We’re already late, so shouldn’t we get started?”

Alex narrows her eyes and glares just long enough for Kara to start squirming, then relents. “Fine. But I’m not finished with you, Kara.”

It only takes a minute for everyone to switch focus from Kara to the details of their upcoming mission, but Kara’s cheeks burn every time she glances at Lena to find the other woman looking back at her. She’s used to defending herself against Alex, but she’s not sure she could hold back anything from Lena if she started pushing. The only reason she had been able to keep her identity secret from Lena for so long was because Lena had never asked. Ever since they managed to rekindle their friendship, Kara’s been even worse about hiding anything from Lena. Not that she wants to keep secrets, but she can’t even plan surprises without blurting out her plans as soon as Lena so much as looks at her weird.

No one is inclined to draw out Alex’s already excessively long explanation of tactics, allowing their meeting to end earlier than they had planned. Alex stands at the door in preparation to block Kara in, and it takes Brainy pulling Nia out of the room to get the girl to leave. Lena lingers behind, clearly just as, if not more, interested in whatever explanation Kara has to give.

“Alright, Kara. Spill,” Alex says as she closes the door.

Immediately, Kara’s cheeks go bright pink. “I don’t— It was just a weird thing, Alex. I don’t know what’s so interesting about it.” Kara hopes she sounds convincing, but the way Alex frowns doesn’t leave her very confident. Kara’s overly aware of how Lena’s eyes haven’t left her since the end of the meeting, and all of the scrutiny is making her palms sweat.

“I’m not an idiot, Kara. Why did you set your phone to always let Lena’s calls through and not mine? Don’t you think that as your sister I should be just as important?”

Somehow, Alex doesn’t actually sound as upset as her words seem to indicate. It makes Kara wonder if Alex isn’t as offended as she’s trying to claim, and that she has some other motive for pushing for an explanation.

“It’s not that— Of course you’re just as important as Lena, I just, um— I forgot to have your calls go through, too.” It’s a hollow answer and a thin lie, and Alex isn’t having it.

“Come on, Kara. I know that’s not true.”

When she doesn’t say anything else, Kara knows she’s in trouble. Alex knows that all she has to do is make Kara sit in the uncomfortable silence and she’ll crack, and it only takes a minute before Kara can’t keep her mouth from running ahead of her.

“Okay, fine. I… Lena’s just… a busy person, and I don’t want to miss her calls to hang out because she doesn’t have a lot of time to give.” It’s partially true at least, and a quick look at Lena shows that it’s sweet enough to make the brunette smile, but not honest enough to appease Alex.

Alex squints at Kara and the silence carries on again. Kara shoots Lena a pleading look.

“Come on, Alex,” Lena says. “I don’t think we need to push Kara any further. It’s sweet that she wants to make sure she can spend time with me. She’s a great friend, that’s all.”

“See, that’s the thing,” Alex starts. “She’s not like this with everyone else. Sure, she’s nice to everyone and goes out of her way to make time, but it’s different with you. And I’m pretty sure I know why.”

Kara lets out a nervous laugh. “What? No, I’m nice to everyone. Equally. I don’t… Lena gets the same treatment as everyone else. Maybe I’m a little nicer, but she’s my best friend. I’m supposed to make extra time for her.”

“Then why is Lena the only one in your favorites list?”

Kara’s sure her blush is creeping up her neck, and she’s running out of ways to avoid the answer. She looks at Lena again, and there’s a hope in her eyes that makes Kara think that maybe she should stop running from this. 

“Alright, fine.” Kara takes a deep breath, looking directly into Lena’s eyes. “I put Lena on my favorites list when I messed everything up. I thought maybe… Maybe Lena would call me, even though she didn’t want to see me. Maybe something would happen and she might think just for a second that she wanted to call me and that she missed me as much as I missed her and… And I didn’t want to risk missing that phone call. No matter what was happening. I didn’t care how much we had fought. If she wanted to talk I didn’t want to miss my chance.”

They haven’t talked much about their fight, their year apart. Kara was too afraid of reopening wounds that had barely healed, too afraid of losing Lena forever to open up about it. But they’re solid now, and maybe it’s time she stopped avoiding how she really feels about this.

By the time she’s finished talking, Lena has tears in her eyes threatening to spill over and Alex looks both smug and apologetic. But Kara’s not concerned with Alex, and her sister isn’t obtuse enough to stay.

“Sounds like you guys still have some things to sort out,” she says. “I’ll just, uh… leave you to it.”

Alex makes a graceless exit, awkwardly opening the door without turning around and backing out, but Kara barely pays attention. She keeps her eyes on Lena, more confessions already sitting on her tongue and waiting for the door to latch once more.

“I couldn’t risk losing you forever if you decided you wanted to talk again,” Kara says, taking a small step towards Lena. “I don’t ever want to miss your calls, Lena. You’re too important for that.”

“I’m just me,” Lena says, almost shy. “You don’t have to let me interrupt your day like that.”

“It doesn’t feel like an interruption when it’s you.”

It feels so close to what she wants to say, but Kara doesn’t want to be the one to rock this boat. She’s already admitted a lot, and Lena’s heart is racing, but she doesn’t want to mess this up.

“You didn’t mess everything up, you know that?” Lena says. “We kind of both reacted badly to everything and it… it wasn’t just you messing things up. I messed up a lot myself.”

Kara just nods. She knows that, logically, that they both made mistakes, that it took both of them to make the rift that opened up between them. But emotionally she feels responsible, like she could’ve kept everything from going wrong even though she knows that’s not true.

“I… I really care about you, Kara,” Lena says quietly. “More than I care about… just about anyone.”

They sit in silence for a few minutes after that, both of them wondering just how far they’re going to go with this. It feels almost inevitable, the conclusion of this. But it also feels impossible, like the perfect reality that could never exist. Kara knows everything is far from perfect, that there are so many problems right now in the world, but she thinks she would be okay with an imperfect world if this conversation ends the way she wants it to.

So she takes a leap of faith.

“Lena?”

“Yeah?”

Kara hesitates. It’s the biggest confession she’s held back, the one thing that she couldn’t tell Lena for so long no matter how many truths she had laid out. It’s the one confession that changes everything, and somehow she’s confident she knows how this ends but terrified of getting the words out.

But she’s the girl of steel, she’s faced a million life or death scenarios before, so she does what she always does when the next step feels impossible.

She takes a deep breath.

And leaps.

“I’m in love with you,” she says on the exhale. “I have been for… gosh, I don’t know how long. I was in love with you when we stopped talking and I was in love with you even when I didn’t know if you wanted me dead. I’ve been in love with you for so long it’s as much of a part of me as breathing is.”

Lena’s eyes are shining and she takes the three steps to close the space between them, but she doesn’t say anything, so Kara keeps going.

“And I don’t want you to say it back because you think you have to. I think… I think I already know how this conversation ends, but if I’m wrong that’s okay. But I think you should know.”

“Kara?”

“Yeah?”

Lena hesitates the same way, but she’s bolder than Kara was. She takes Kara’s hand between both of her own and runs her thumbs over her knuckles. She follows Kara’s example and takes a deep breath.

“I’m in love with you, too.”

Tears gather in Kara’s eyes before she can try to hold them back. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you think we could kiss about it?”

Lena’s laugh echoes throughout the room, bright and cheerful and everything Kara’s ever wanted.

“Definitely.”