One of these days, Lena is going to have to start doing her grocery shopping at normal hours, like a real adult.
Rationally, she knows that she has her reasons for being in a Whole Foods at 11:57pm, still clad in her work clothes from the day. Albeit a bit wrinkled. Her demanding job, for one. Paparazzi and half-wit ‘reporters’ who still seem able to find her at all hours of the day—despite upping her security again last week—constantly demanding a quote of her about Lex, and snapping as many unflattering photographs as they can manage to get.
At least she’s not wholly alone in her midnight shopping endeavors, the store isn’t full by any means, but there are a good twenty or so other customers milling about all in various states of dress. It makes her feel a bit better to know that the one lone woman at the checkout counter isn’t just waiting for her. Lena suspects that at least some of the other customers are hear for the same reason that she is tonight: an inability to notice that her entire apartment is empty of edible food until it's too late to be reasonable about it anymore. If it weren’t a Saturday night, and her doctor hadn’t been on her about managing healthier eating habits—a product of Lex’s trail that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon—she would have just gone to bed hungry and dealt with it in the morning.
It would be cruel, to make Jess come over and give her a banana on a Sunday morning. Lena refuses to be that boss. She is an adult, and she can manage to feed herself like one.
She turns down to the baking aisle, because when she does eat, she usually opts for quite healthy foods, but she has a sweet tooth, and a steady supply of almond Hershey kisses are a necessity. She grabs a large bag and tosses it into her basket, then notices a young girl with incredible curly dark hair, reaching up on her tip toes and trying to yank down five boxes of brownie mix all on her own. Lena laughs and walks over, pulling a few the boxes down and holding them out to her. “You having a party?” she asks with a laugh.
“Um,” the girl wrinkles her nose up in confusion. “No?”
Lena looks around, but doesn’t see an adult who appears to belong to the girl anywhere in this aisle. “So, you’re just going to make five boxes of brownies all for yourself?” she laughs again. “Ambitious, I like it.”
“No,” the girl shakes her head, the curls flinging around her face wildly. She looks as though she could be anywhere between the ages of seven, and a very small eleven year old. Lena has no real idea. She doesn’t spend very much time with children one on one. A few school trips have come to L-Corp over the last few months, but they always come along with teachers who are in charge of them, and yell out all of their ages excitedly. This girl is just frowning. “My—” her frown deepens as she searches for the right word, “friend and I are making them.”
The girl nods vigorously, the curls whipping her in the mouth.
“Well,” Lena takes another quick glance around. “Where are they? Do you need help finding them?”
“She’s a she,” the girl says. “My friend,” she holds out her hands and collects all five of the boxes together impressively.
“Mon—Myka!” a voice calls out. Lena recognizes it instantly, though it’s a rather new one in her life. And it’s confirmed at the sight of wavy blonde hair, the lithe body clad in a pair of dark leggings, and the glasses adorning her face. “There you are,” Kara says, her shoulders sagging in relief. “I told you that you can’t just go off on your own on this planet. You could get lost.”
“Or, on any planet, one would assume,” Lena says. Kara’s entire posture changes; she whips her eyes up to Lena’s and then that nervous laughter that Lena is becoming increasingly familiar with bubbles out. And… there is the glasses adjustment, and the adorable stuttering.
“All planets,” she nods. “You—children should stay with the adults who are watching them on all planets,” Kara laughs, high and loud and then clears her throat. “Lena, fancy meeting you here. Hello.”
“It’s the closest grocery store to my apartment,” Lena explains. She watches, as Kara’s hands reach out and protectively pull the girl to her front, keeping her hands on her shoulders and holding her firmly in place, as if afraid that she will dart away at any moment. “It’s… not all that close to yours though,” Lena adds, curiously.
“No, it’s not.”
Lena quirks an eyebrow at her and is greeted once again by Kara’s nervous laugh. It is far too easy, and far too much fun, to fluster Kara Danvers.
“It’s… we’re on a brownie hunt,” she explains, lifting the boxes out of the girl’s hands and putting them into her own basket—nothing healthy in there to speak of. Lena’s doctor would be appalled. “This is the best kind that’s not from scratch. Myka hasn’t had them before.”
“Ah,” Lena turns her attention back downwards. “Well, you’re probably in for a treat, then.”
“Oh, gosh,” Kara’s body jerks and she pulls Myka along as she steps a little closer to Lena. “I’m sorry. Lena, this is Myka. My… cousin, who’s staying with me for a while. Myka, this is Lena Luthor, my friend.” The inflection on the word ‘friend’ goes up, like it’s a question. Like Kara is worried that she’s somehow being too forward in assuming as such, despite the fact that Lena has already fully embarrassed herself by accosting Kara at her work, admitting that she has no friends, and begging her to come to a party.
Lena smiles at Kara warmly, then bends down to Myka’s level, teetering ever so slightly on her heels as she balances her weight in a crouch. “It’s very nice to meet you,” she offers her hand.
Myka hesitates, just for a moment before jamming her hand out and shaking Lena’s with such force that she nearly topples over. Only Kara’s arms stop her from the embarrassment of falling undignified to the dirty linoleum floor. “Sorry, she’s… a lot stronger than she looks.” Kara gives Myka an indecipherable look, and she sheepishly tucks herself into Kara’s side and mumbles an apology up to Lena.
“No harm done,” Lena assures them both, once Kara’s got her steady again. And that is something she very much shouldn’t be focusing on, but Kara’s hands are warm and her life is painfully touch-starved these days. The fact that Kara doesn’t make any move to step away from her isn’t helping the quickening of her heartbeat, and if anything, that seems to make Kara focus her attention on Lena even further. Myka too. But, that’s ridiculous, people can’t just hear each other’s heartbeats in the middle of grocery store aisles without any medical equipment. Well, regular human, non-alien people certainly can’t. She studies Kara intently, for about the millionth time. “I’m fine,” she says, but neither of them take a step away from her. “So, how long are you staying?” she directs towards Myka, hoping the girl will be easier to deflect the attention to. It may have been the wrong question to ask, because Myka looks up at Kara with such uncertainty that it hurts from all the way over here.
Kara finally steps away from Lena, but it feels anything like a victory. “For—indefinitely,” she says, giving Myka a reassuring smile. Myka only frowns at the word. Probably under ten then? Though, Lena knew the word ‘indefinitely’ by age seven, so she doubts that’s a proper way to make a judgement call on such things.
“For a long time,” Kara corrects. “For—Myka’s living with me now. Like, sort of permanently,” she gently knocks herself into Myka’s shoulders, bumping into her three times in quick succession until she pulls a small smile out of the little girl. “We’re roommates. And,” she snatches one of the brownie boxes out of the basket and holds it up triumphantly, “brownie makers!” she’s laughing now, bright and uninhibited as Myka beams up at her and does a little dance of excitement, and Lena takes the chance to look her over now that her guard is down.
Lena hasn’t seen Kara since her party. Well, alien trap of a party—in more ways than one. It’s been a few weeks, and now, Lena can see that Kara has had her hands rather full. The few text conversations they’ve had since have all been light and casual; showing no signs of off the record questions, or requests for more alien ring location favors, but, also nothing that really gives Lena any indication that they’re striking up a genuine friendship. Other than the simple fact that the both of them have used the word ‘friend’ to describe each other at least once.
But, no one else who isn’t employed by her even texts Lena at all, so, that alone might qualify Kara as her friend. She’s never been altogether sure on how this works; genuine friendship has eluded her since the second grade, when Jenny McKenna moved to England. Everyone else was just, someone she went to school with, children of the Luthor’s many employees, forced to entertain her while their parents did business, peers who hated her, women that she’s slept with, and Lex.
Kara, fills exactly none of those boxes. Presently.
Her hair is pulled back into a lose ponytail, a little limp, but there’s still some curl left to it. There’s a tiredness to the edges of her eyes, but Lena is certainly not one to talk where that is concerned.
Kara and Myka continue with their little brownie dance until an old man with an overfull cart and a deep, permanent looking frown shoves his way between them with a growl of, “Watch out,” as he passes. Kara stops immediately, pulling Myka back to her and apologizing to the man with earnest. “That girl should be asleep,” he snaps back, yanking a can of pan spray off the shelf and all but chucking it into his cart. “What a terrible mother,” he mutters underneath his breath. “Probably way too young…”
Kara looks utterly distraught at his words and Lena seethes. “Mind your business,” she calls after him sharply.
“It’s okay,” Kara says quickly, a hand gently coming up to rest on Lena’s bicep. “It – I didn’t actually realize how late it was,” she looks disappointed with herself, and Lena is overcome by a wave of affection for her, not for the first time. She really has to get that under control. It won’t lead to anything but disappointment.
“It’s the weekend,” she offers. “Every kid deserves to stay up late to make brownies on the weekend once in a while,” she knocks her basket lightly into the one in Kara’s arms, and gets the smile that she was edging for. “You’ll have to tell me how they turn out. I’ve never had the store bought kind.”
“WHAT?” Kara is flabbergasted, her mouth gaping open at Lena like she just told her that she’s had three heads the entire time that they’ve known each other, and Lena has only brought it to her attention this minute. “You – you haven’t – I’m,” she glances down at all the boxes in her basket. “You’ll have to come make them with us then,” she nods to herself, too many times in a row. “It’s too late to make them tonight anyway.” Myka pouts a bit at this news, but she also yawns deeply, only furthering to prove Kara’s point. “Are you working tomorrow?” Kara asks, her face not even trying to hide the fact that if Lena is, she shouldn’t be. But it doesn’t feel like a judgement, or pity, just… concern. Lena thinks that she would rather be judged, that at least, she knows how to deal with.
She’s not working tomorrow. Not in any official capacity where she is going into the office, but, she does have a few things that she was planning to work on from home. (If Kara were judging her for being a workaholic, she wouldn’t exactly be wrong.) None of them seem altogether appealing or urgent anymore, not with Kara’s bright, hopeful smile directed her way.
“I’m not,” Lena hears herself saying.
“Yay!” Kara cheers. “Okay, so like… 10 am? My apartment? You remember where it is right?”
Lena nods. She was never actually given the address by Kara herself, but, yes, she knows exactly where Kara lives. “Sounds lovely. I’ll see you then.”
“Awesome,” Kara jumps forward, and before Lena knows what is happening, she finds herself being pulled into a quick hug.
The second that Kara steps back, Myka shrugs and throws her arms around Lena too. Her solid little head collides into Lena’s stomach, and she can’t help the grunt it elicits. “Bye,” Myka says, releasing Lena and walking down the aisle with Kara. “See you later.”
“Goodbye,” Lena mumbles to their disappearing frames, blearily wondering if it’s possible that she has actually fallen asleep at her desk again, and this has all been a very odd dream.
It wasn’t a dream.
Lena knows this because she wakes up to three texts from Kara, telling her that, it’s probably not a great idea to wear a top that you would have to get dry cleaned, and, if you like milky stuff in your coffee, you’re in luck cause there’s this great coconut milk half-in-half stuff that I found! And, two minutes later, also good morning! Hope I didn’t wake you up, see you soon!
The idea of Kara waking her up at 8:42am is almost laughable; Lena hasn’t slept past seven am in years. She shuffles around her apartment almost aimlessly, with no idea what to do with her time until she is supposed to be at Kara’s apartment at ten. She busies herself by making some coffee, and finding something to eat from her grocery shopping endeavor the night before. While she slowly picks at a banana, Lena considers the strained looks that passed between Kara and Myka last night. Clearly, there is far more to the story than Kara just becoming roommates on a whim with her prepubescent cousin. There was something familiar to the look in Myka’s eyes; haunted almost, looking seven and ninety-five all at once while Kara scrambled for the right words to explain their situation. Lena has a feeling that Kara will explain further, in time, but she is impossibly curious now. Finally, Lena manages to eat nearly the entire banana with another hour to spare. She caves and pulls out her laptop, drinking a third cup of coffee, and answers a few work emails.
She gets so caught up in her work, that by the time she looks at the clock, she’s going to be late to meet Kara and Myka. Lena slams her laptop closed, grabs her jacket and sends a quick text to Kara apologizing before she rushes out the door.
Kara answers both the text and the door cheerfully, waving off Lena’s apologies. When Lena steps into Kara’s apartment for the second time, she’s greeted by the sight of a little girl, crouched on top of the counter with flour in her hair, instead of Kara’s sister hovering awkwardly. Lena remembers the intense flair of jealously at the sight and is hit by a wave of embarrassment all over again. She smiles at Kara to cover it, too brightly, too many teeth, and follows her into the kitchen.
“Myka—maybe you could try stirring with this wooden spoon instead?” Kara offers, holding it up. Myka has been attempting to stir brownie batter with a soup spoon, and it’s gotten all over her hands. She studies the spoon that Kara is offering with a small frown, then shrugs and takes it, tossing the other one down on the counter without a second thought. Lena waits, with a twist in her gut, for Kara to scold Myka for making a mess, but Kara just turns to Lena with a huge smile and says, “I’m so glad you came. Want to stir that bowl?” she points towards another—very full—bowl balancing precariously near Myka’s knee.
“Sure,” Lena perches on one of Kara’s stools, still a little thrown off by Myka being allowed to crouch up on the counter as she is; if Lena or Lex had ever tried to climb on top of furniture they would have been scolded immediately. That’s without even mentioning the bits of flour and batter that she’s gotten all over herself. Myka looks up from her bowl and gives Lena an impossibly bright smile and whips the batter around, clearly having a fantastic time. Lena finds herself grinning back at her automatically. “So,” she starts, “are we making all five boxes?”
“Yes,” Kara and Myka answer simultaneously.
“And… eating them all?” Lena looks dubiously over at the various cooking sheets and pans taking up all of the available table surfaces; there is even one propped up on the windowsill.
“Well, Alex will help us. She’s coming over this afternoon,” Kara explains. “She… needs a lot of brownies right now,” her face twists into a frown, and Lena watches her attack the batter in front of her with much more force than is necessary.
“A girl doesn’t like her,” Myka tries to whisper in Lena’s direction. “Which, is just stupid. Because Alex is a babe with a gun,” she adds, abandoning her attempts to whisper and grinning madly. “That’s what Winn told me that you call beautiful women here—babes. Right?” she asks Kara.
“Um,” Kara’s face pinches. “Remember, how I said that Winn isn’t maybe the greatest person to ask if you have questions about women. Or, things in general that aren’t Star Wars, or computers. But, you’re not… totally off the mark.” Kara smacks at the batter again. “Alex, is a beautiful person,” she all but snarls. “And Maggie Sawyer should be so lucky.” Her face instantly twists into panic and she looks over at Lena. “Um, don’t… tell anyone about… um, she’s not… Alex isn’t…”
“Out?” Lena deduces. Kara nods, looking like she might throw up. “Don’t worry Kara, of all people, I’m certainly not going to out anyone,” she assures her.
“Right, of course,” Kara nods, then frowns down into her batter. Pulling out a piece of eggshell, she asks, “Why you of all people?” as she flicks the offending shell towards the garbage disposal.
Lena’s eyebrows knit together. She was sure that Kara, a reporter who’s done an article and research on Lena, would know this information already. It’s certainly out there to be found with barely a minor Google search. “I’m a lesbian Kara,” she states flatly.
Kara blinks at her. “Oh,” she says. “Cool, I didn’t know that,” she resumes attacking her batter, eyes never leaving Lena’s. “Well, Alex is… not really sure what she wants to call herself? It’s a new thing. Sort of. Well, I mean not really,” she sighs, poking the spoon in the middle of the bowl, not even attempting to stir it anymore—just attacking it. “I’m not sure, but I don’t think she’s really ready to talk about it all that much. So,” Kara shrugs. Clearly, she does not do well with being unable to talk about anything with her sister. Lena remembers feeling like that about Lex; every scrap of information that he hid from her made her furious, she always told him everything that was on her mind. Of course, as they got older, the information he was hiding made her furious for a much different reason, but, she doesn’t need to dwell on that thought right now. Or ever again, really.
“What’s a lesbian?” Myka asks, causing Lena to realize that she forgotten about the child entirely in the last few minutes.
“A woman who likes other women,” Kara supplies easily, then frowns again. “I see an eggshell in that one too,” she bends forward and stops Myka from whacking her hand while she reaches in and digs it out. “The egg cracking was… not Myka’s forte,” she directs towards Lena. “It’s probably better that you missed it. But, maybe check yours too. I think she cracked a few more when I wasn’t looking.”
“I did,” Myka proclaims proudly. “I like women too,” she adds. “I like you, and Alex, and… well I don’t know anybody else that’s a girl,” she frowns, then looks over at Lena and grins. “Well, Lena!” she points at her with her spoon, flinging some batter onto Lena’s cheek. “I know her now, and I like you so far,” she decides.
“Thank you,” Lena says, stifling a laugh and wiping her face. “But I think Kara meant to say romantically. It’s a different kind of like. The English language can be confusing like that.”
“It’s so stupid,” Myka agrees. “Daxam and Kryptonian are way easier.”
“Ha!” Kara yells. “Haha, she’s…. she is super into aliens. Right, Myka? Just, she wants to know all about them, and she’s learning… a lot of… stuff,” Kara falters and Lena watches as she struggles to find something else to say. “It’s… yeah. Aliens, man. So interesting!” she claps her hands together, “Anyway, I think we’re ready to put the first batch in!”
“You’re being weird again,” Myka informs her.
Lena has to agree, but the panicked look on Kara’s face is so severe, that she chooses to let it go.
“Well, maybe Kara will introduce you to Supergirl someday,” she tells Myka with a smile, trying something out. “She invited her to a party of mine at my request a few weeks ago.”
If anything, this only sends Kara further into a clumsy sputter. She slips on some of the batter that’s dripped down onto the floor, and her elbow slams into the edge of the counter as she catches herself from falling. “I’m fine,” she insists at Lena’s worried look. “Totally fine.”
And, that’s interesting Lena thinks as she watches Kara attempt to feign rubbing at her elbow and wince. Not seconds later, she jerks that same arm out to help Myka, not a hint of pain in her face to speak of. Lena quirks an eyebrow. Well, there’s another tick in her mental Kara Danvers Is Probably Supergirl list. It’s mostly conjecture and a mass of guesswork at this point. Nothing that Lena can prove—not yet—but she’s sure enough that she’d be willing to put a certain amount of money on it. And, that thought makes her turn and study Myka a bit more as she clambers over to help Kara fill in the brownie pan. There is much more going on here than Kara’s mentioned.
“So,” Myka looks over at Lena as she holds the bowl up patiently for Kara. “Romantic, you mean like kissing?”
“Yes,” Lena pushes her bowl over towards Kara. “I think this is done too?”
Kara inspects it for half a second, then nods. “Good job.” Lena is embarrassed to find that the praise makes her blush.
Myka scrunches up her face into a frown. “But I don’t want to kiss you,” she tells Kara.
Kara mock gasps and stops shoveling batter into the pan. Whipping the spatula in Myka’s face, she says, “Well, that’s just too bad, because I totally wanna kiss you,” she grabs Myka’s face and kisses every bit of her cheeks, forehead, and nose before Myka laughs and nearly falls off the table trying to get away. As it is, she drops the bowl that was in her arms. Only Kara’s—impossibly quick, Lena notes—reflexes stop Myka from cracking her head wide open on the countertop. “Although,” Kara adds, once she’s got Myka steady again. “Consent is very important, so, you should never kiss someone like that if they say not to.”
“I didn’t really mind,” Myka shrugs. “But I don’t know what consent means.”
“It means you agree,” Kara explains. “Like, if I ask you: Myka, can I give you a kiss? If you say yes, then it’s okay. But if you say no, then it’s not. Same goes for like, hugs and stuff. Sometimes people don’t want to be touched, and you have to respect that,” Kara wiggles her eyebrows. “Even though that’s crazy, because hugs are amazing.”
Myka nods her agreement, then turns to Lena. “Did you mean kissing like that, or the on the lips kind?” she asks turning her attention back the batter.
“Um, the lips,” Lena answers, feeling a little ridiculous.
“I don’t want to kiss either of you on the lips,” Myka informs them both. “Or Alex. I don’t want to kiss anyone on the lips. No consent. Only cheek kisses.”
“I think that’s fairly common for children your age,” Lena shrugs. “How old are you, actually?”
This should be a simple enough question to answer, but Myka’s lips pinch together and she looks to Kara for help. “She’s nine,” Kara supplies.
“And a quarter,” Myka adds.
“Quarters are important,” Lena says, giving her a smile, and she’s rewarded by a beaming one etching out onto Myka’s face. This kid could give Kara a run for her money. As it is, Kara looks up at Lena gratefully, a matching huge smile on her own face, and it’s achingly foreign, to have two people positively beaming at her like this, that Lena doesn’t quite know what to do with it. “Um, where’s your bathroom?” she asks, needing to escape for a moment.
Kara points her down the hall, and Lena all but sprints, shutting the door and resting against it with a heavy sigh. She considers, for a concerning length of time, barricading herself in here until she can come up with a plausible work excuse and leave as soon as possible. The pounding inside of her chest cannot be normal, and she doesn’t know why she is so uncomfortable right now. It could be that she doesn’t know how to take a day off from work anymore, and this is making her feel lazy, a little guilty, and unaccomplished. Or, it could be that she is painfully lonely right now, and almost desperate for Kara’s friendship in a way that makes her attraction to Kara very difficult to manage. Or, the fact that Alex Danvers is coming to join them in a matter of hours, maybe even less, and Lena finds herself entirely incapable of acting like a normal human being around Kara’s sister; the shame of her ill placed jealously, and Alex’s almost knowing face popping up and thickening the air awkwardly between them. It could be the mere presence of Myka; a child that Lena has no idea how to interact with, who is bringing up a whole host of Lena’s childhood issues just by making that one impossibly small and sad face. Or, the fact that undoubtedly, Kara is most likely lying to her, and she is Supergirl. Which, is all fun and games to speculate about, but actually dealing with her feelings regarding the Supers is a whole other thing entirely. It was something manageable when it was just Supergirl, the alien, removed from Lena in a way that couldn’t really touch her, like a rumor about a stranger. But it’s not that simple if it’s also Kara, Lena’s would-be-friend. Part of Lena doesn’t really want to know, dreads it, even.
The rest of her wants to grab Kara by the shoulders and demand answers, desperate for information in a way she hasn’t felt since before Lex was arrested.
Hell, it’s probably all of that and more, but if Lena doesn’t come out of this bathroom soon, Kara is going to think that she is sick or something, and break down the door, or do something else ridiculous and sweet. Like offer to make her soup, or give Lena another hug.
Coming here was a mistake.
Lena casts her mind around for the last time she felt this unmoored, this off-balance, by a woman, and can't come up with anything. Kara Danvers is unlike anybody that Lena has ever met; the sweetest, bubbliest person Lena’s yet to come across, and simultaneously one of the saddest, who is probably lying to everyone that she meets. It’s an impossible contradiction to wrap your head around, and Lena should probably stop hiding in this bathroom and trying.
She turns the faucet on, runs it for a few counts of ten, then shuts it off and walks back out into the kitchen.
She’s greeted by Kara’s concerned smile, and Myka yelling out happily, “Lena! Taste this!” as she sticks out a palm full of white chocolate chips. “It’s the best thing I’ve had on Earth so far.”
Lena does not make a note of the strangled little huff that comes out of Kara. Today, she just needs her to be Kara Danvers, her friend whom she is making brownies with. The alien thing, is just going to have to wait for some other day.
She forces a smile onto her face and accepts a few pieces of the chocolate. They’re half melted and sticky, but Lena gamely mashes the mess into her mouth anyway. Myka jumps up onto her feet, nearly giving Lena a heart attack. She shoots her hands out to steady the girl, and casts a worried look down towards Kara, who’s busy trying to shove pans into the oven and frowning.
“Do you love it?” Myka asks, placing her face directly right into Lena’s—their noses almost brush. She’s not shy at all, apparently.
“Delicious,” Lena agrees. “But, I would argue, not the absolute best on Earth. That is reserved for Hershey’s almond kisses.”
Myka squawks. “What are those?”
It’s odd, that a nine year old girl wouldn’t have any clue what a Hershey’s kiss is, and Lena is confronted yet again by the fact that everything here isn’t exactly what it seems. Ignoring that for the day isn’t going to be easy. “Hang on, I think I might have some in my purse.” She always has some in her purse, pretending otherwise just makes her feel less like her grandmother—constantly hoarding caramels in every purse that she owns. She frowns at Myka, teetering on the countertop, half using Lena to keep herself upright. “Want to get down and help me look?” she offers.
“No,” Myka actually looks like she is about to attempt a pirouette or sorts, and Lena reaches out and grabs her without thinking. It’s so surprising to them both, that they just… stare at each other. Lena, does not know how to hold a child, let alone one covered in brownie batter with flour in her hair. She is light, though Lena has no idea what nine year olds are supposed to weigh, do they even get held like this at nine? Lena certainly didn’t.
“Um,” Lena panics and nearly drops her, then gets a hold of herself. “So, you wait here,” she sets Myka down, hyper aware of the fact that she now has Kara’s full attention. Lena quickly digs through her purse and comes up with a bag of kisses, nearly empty. She’ll have to go back to the grocery store, then. “Here,” she holds one out to Myka and the girl shoves the entire thing—wrapper and all—into her mouth before Lena can tell her not to.
Myka grimaces and spits it out into her hands. “Ew,” she groans.
“That’s the foil,” Lena gapes at her. “You don’t eat it, you unwrap it.” She pulls out another one and unwraps it for her, but Myka looks at her warily, so Lena pops it into her own mouth. “More for me I suppose,” she shrugs.
“Can I have one?” Kara asks, not subtly at all.
Lena presses her lips together to keep from laughing and very exaggeratedly hands one to Kara. She peels the wrapper off, pops it into her mouth, and makes a noise that is very, very unhelpful to Lena’s Quest to Genuine Platonic Friendship. Especially with a child right in front of them.
Myka jumps up and down, then clutches at the ends of Lena’s shirt, tugging it and bouncing on her toes. Kara’s suggestion for a shirt she doesn’t care about was a good one—Myka still has batter all over her, and now it’s on Lena too. “Can I try another one?” she begs. “Please?” she stops bouncing and gets that look on her face again. “I’ll do it the right way this time. I promise.”
Lena might end up giving this child anything that she ever asks for.
She peels the wrapper off another and passes it over to Myka, who crams it into her mouth and then absolutely beams. “You were right,” she says, bouncing up and down again. “This is the best kind.”
Before Lena or Kara can respond, the door to Kara’s apartment bursts open and Alex Danvers saunters through. “Holy shit,” she exclaims. “What did you guys do?”
“ALEX!” Myka cheers, extracting herself from Lena and sprinting at Kara’s sister. Alex catches her, but it’s a near thing. As it is, Lena hears her yell out in pain, and they both go crashing down to the floor. “Sorry,” Myka quickly scrambles up and pulls Alex along with her, using impressive strength for a nine year old. “Did I bruise you?”
“Maybe, but I’m usually a little bruised anyway,” Alex says good-naturedly, though Lena can see her eyes flash with pain. She covers well, bends down and gives Myka a quick cheek kiss and picks some flour out of her hair. “So,” she glances up at Kara and Lena, “how’s the brownie making going?” she swipes some batter off Myka’s face and tastes it, raising her eyebrows at Kara.
“Great,” Kara insists. “Very good. Delicious,” she frowns a little at the state of the apartment. “Messy, doesn’t mean bad brownies. Messy usually means good brownies,” she grins, poking Alex in the side of her stomach. “Pretty sure you told me that only like, a week or so after I moved in.”
Alex smiles fondly at the memory. “Well, you were hopelessly messy. I was just trying to make you feel better, cause you were twelve and pathetic.”
Kara gasps, no real feeling behind it, and smacks Alex in the shoulder. “I, was adorable at twelve,” she declares. Alex nods, but then looks down at Myka and mouths, totally lying. Kara narrows her eyes. “Don’t make me get the pictures from your tenth grade science fair out Alex,” she threatens. “Cause I’ll do it.”
Alex, momentarily looks truly terrified, and now Lena very much wants to see those photographs.
“You’re the most adorable, most beautiful person alive,” Alex says, hugging Kara tightly around the middle. “And if you bring out those pictures, ever, I’ll kill you, and they will never find your body.”
“Eliza would ground you for life,” Kara quips, shuffling them all back towards the kitchen.
“I’m twenty-eight, she can’t ground me.”
“Tell her that.”
Alex frowns. “Shut up.”
“You shut up,” Kara pushes a brownie box at Alex. “Supervise that one’s egg cracking,” she points towards Myka. “She can’t be trusted.”
“Mean,” Myka deadpans, looking startlingly like Alex. She climbs up on the free stool and reaches for the eggs anyway, and Alex has to hold them up over her head. “I can jump up and get those,” Myka says.
Kara and Alex both react with varying degrees of alarm—Alex, much calmer than Kara when she says, “No, I’m taller. Remember?” while Kara makes a sort of choking noise and adjusts her glasses.
“Lena!” she claps her hands, “want to help me with this batch?”
“Sure,” Lena moves over towards the opposite end of the kitchen with Kara. And, she only just decided that she doesn’t need answers today, but, that isn’t helping to stave off her curiosity about Myka. “So,” she begins carefully, her voice low. “Your nine year old cousin is living with you, sort of permanently?”
Kara’s face goes through a series of complicated emotions, and then she passes the eggs over to Lena to crack. “Yeah,” she finally says. “Sorry that I didn’t mention it before, things have been a little…” she waves her hand around and lets out a self-deprecating laugh. “It was a sort of spur of the minute thing.”
“You don’t owe me any explanations Kara,” Lena assures her. “It’s not my business. If it’s not something you want to talk about, that’s completely fine. We can make brownies. Or, I can go, if you—”
“NO!” Kara yells, catching everyone’s attention. She laughs nervously, “Sorry, no. Lena, please stay,” she huffs and dumps some oil and milk into the bowl, not bothering to check the proper measurements. Lena isn’t sure if this is how baking is supposed to go—she’s never done it before—but it doesn’t really seem right. “I’m really glad you’re here,” she says, for the second time this morning. “There was just a lot, getting Myka kind of settled.” Kara’s face pinches as she searches for the right words. It takes her a few moments of them just… attempting to mix the batter properly together. Lena is sure this particular batch is going to be a complete disaster—maybe that’s why Kara bought five. “Her parents died,” Kara finally says, voice, low and careful. “I didn’t really know them,” she adds. “So, I’m the closet relative that she has.”
Lena looks up at her, surprised for a long second. “She’s a relation to your parents? Not the Danvers?” she steels a glance over at Alex and Myka, having a much better go at their batch than she and Kara are managing, easy smiles on both their faces.
“Um, yeah,” Kara says, but it doesn’t quite sound like the whole truth. “I didn’t know about her, until she showed up.”
“Oh,” Lena says, it’s not her most eloquent moment ever.
“Did you ever,” Kara bites at her lower lip, and Lena knows what she is about to ask her. Her hands tense against the counter, and she thinks, don’t, please, please don’t ask me, as hard as she can. Alas, Kara doesn’t seem to possess the ability to read minds, which, Lena should be grateful to learn, but right now desperately wishes were the opposite. “Did you ever look for your birth parents?” she asks softly.
“No,” Lena states, her voice nothing more than a croak. She laughs, trying to cover, but there’s a stretched sound to it, like it’s straining against the solid weight of pain dragging her downwards. Kara’s hand comes up to her shoulder then, and it jolts Lena so much that she actually staggers back, hating the flash of hurt on Kara’s face as she quickly jerks her hand back. “I’m sorry,” Lena gasps.
“No,” Kara insists. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”
Lena shakes her head, too many times in a row to appear natural, but she can’t seem to stop herself. “It’s fine,” she says, though it’s painfully clear to everyone in the room that it’s not. Alex and Myka are both looking over at her now, Myka’s face is confused, and Alex’s far too knowing. Lena sucks in a breath and gets a hold of herself, pulling a smile onto her face that probably doesn’t work at all, but she refuses to drop it. “It’s fine,” she repeats. “I haven’t. And I have no intention in doing so.”
“Okay,” Kara’s fingers jerk, like she wants to reach out and touch Lena but thinks better of it. Lena knows that Kara is unable to fathom not being affectionate with her friends, she’s seen the evidence of it, but Lena just… doesn’t know how to work like that. If Kara were to try and hug her right now, Lena might actually just run out of the apartment and never come back.
A silence falls between them as they slowly return to working in tandem, and it’s not uncomfortable, but it’s not quite comfortable either, tension still sits in both of their shoulders and Lena doesn’t know how to shake it off.
Alex saves them. There’s a delighted yelp and Lena and Kara turn around just in time to see Alex flick some more batter into Myka’s face. She looks over at Kara with a mischievous grin and Lena quickly takes a step back. The batter hits Kara directly in the face and she laughs as she tries to scold Alex. Myka, ducks for cover and Kara and Alex start attacking each other with whatever is closest to them. Batter and flour mostly, but then Kara picks up an egg, and cracks it over Alex’s head before she can so much as blink.
“Oh my god!” she yells, egg whites dripping down her face. Kara giggles and darts away, tugging Lena out of Alex’s line of aim. She immediately hides with Myka underneath the table.
“I’ll protect you,” Myka says, so seriously that Lena’s entire heart melts right out of her body. The little girl is armed with a full tray of eggs and holding one up, ready to fling it at whomever dares to get close enough.
“Well,” Lena plucks one of the eggs from the tray. “It’s only fair if we cover each other,” she grins. She doesn’t think that she has ever been involved in a food fight in her entire life. Kara manages to knock Alex to the floor, screaming and calling her out for cheating, and Lena and Myka take the opportunity to pelt them both with eggs, declaring victory.
“Oh my god,” Kara moans, once they’ve all surrendered and up righted themselves. “This is gonna take forever to clean up.”
“I’m sorry,” Lena frowns. “I have a cleaning service. I can call them for you.”
“Seriously?” Alex asks.
“No,” Kara says, “we can clean it. It’s just… gonna take a while.”
“It’s really no trouble,” Lena insists. “It’s for things like this. Not just, making a bunch of women clean up our mess for us. It’s an industrial cleaning service that L-Corp has on hand.”
“Do it,” Alex says, mostly towards Kara.
“This was your fault!” Kara yelps at her.
“You didn’t have to fight back!”
“Yes, I did!”
“Is this round two?” Myka asks, spatula at the ready.
“No,” Kara takes the spatula out of her hands and holds her in place. “Look what you did,” she says to Alex.
Alex merely smirks. “I, made the kid have a great afternoon,” she points towards Myka, who nods at her enthusiastically in agreement, eggs shaking out of her curls. “And, I got brownie batter in Lena Luthor’s hair,” she turns to Lena, and for only the second time today, truly looks her in the eye. There’s a crinkle around her eyes, a lightness to her face that makes anyone immediately respond in kind. Lena can’t figure out the look for a few beats, then Alex pulls a quick face and motions to Lena’s head, laughing and oh, no one has looked at her like that apart from Lex. Years ago now it seems. Lena’s breath catches into her throat and she has to look away, pretending to pull some brownie bits out of her hair. Alex, knew exactly what she was doing when she started that food fight. And according to Kara and Myka, this brownie adventure was half inspired to cheer Alex up, not to cheer up Lena.
Lena is going to find a way to repay that kindness back, somehow.
“Well, everyone needs a shower and new clothes,” Kara says, picking an eggshell out of her hair and flinging it at Alex.
“But we get to eat the brownies first, right?” Myka asks, terrified at the prospect of being denied the chocolate.
“How about you and Alex go get cleaned up first? And Lena and I will get some of the brownies ready.”
“Ugh, but—” Alex picks Myka up and throws her over her shoulder, cutting off any further protests, and heads towards the bathroom.
“Sorry,” Kara says once they’re out of earshot. “If you want to get cleaned up first you can. It was Alex’s fault; she can sit here with eggs congealing on her face if you want. Just say the word.”
“It’s fine,” Lena insists and moves to help Kara clean up a bit. “I had fun.”
Kara lights up, actually bounces up and down, shaking some of the flour out of her hair. It’s painfully adorable, and Lena can only hold her gaze for a few moments. “Did you really?” Kara asks.
“Yes,” Lena says truthfully. “Thank you very much for inviting me.”
“Anytime,” Kara says, and Lena almost lets herself believe that she means it. Myka screams out, half delight, half terror, from the bathroom, and they hear Alex yelp about cold water only a few seconds later. Kara rolls her eyes, a fond smile on her face as she pulls out the first two batches of misshapen brownies and then frowns at them. “Hum, maybe we should have followed the recipe.”
Lena bites back a grin and pokes at the mass. “I’m sure it will taste fine,” she offers, not wanting to eat it at all.
“Noonan’s makes really great brownies,” Kara hums. “And they’ll deliver to me, cause I’ve begged, and they took pity on me when I was Cat’s assistant.”
“Or, we could call my cleaning service, and just get the brownies while they clean,” Lena offers. “My treat. It is almost lunch.”
“Oh,” Kara frowns. “Myka’s gonna be starving. We didn’t actually buy any groceries last night. Just the brownies. I’m not really all that great at this whole, taking care of a kid thing yet,” she admits.
“I disagree,” Lena says firmly. “She seems very happy. You’re great with her.”
Kara’s face does something wonderful at the praise, and Lena swallows thickly. “Thanks,” she mumbles, tucking some hair behind her ear. Lena tries to get a handle on her thoughts, which are spewing unhelpful, panicked ideas like, kiss her! And, don’t fuck up the fragile possibility of having an actual friend, you idiot! She turns away from Kara and grabs for her phone, quickly sending out an email to the cleaning service and trying not to do anything else stupid before this day is over.
Alex yells out that someone can go next in the shower, and that she is raiding Kara’s closet a few minutes later. Myka joins her, yelling out, “I’m starving! We should eat all the brownies now!”
“You can go first,” Kara offers. “I’ll find something that might fit you.”
The idea of wearing Kara’s clothes is… not helping to calm her down in any way, but Lena manages to nod and shut herself in Kara’s bathroom for the second time today. She’s quick. Scrubbing her hair with Kara’s—amazing—shampoo, and praying all of the flour, batter, and egg is out when she jumps out and towels off only six minutes later. There was a knock on the door halfway through conditioning her hair, and Kara cracked it open and left some clothes for her by the sink. Lena pulls them on without really looking at them. Dress pants, a little snug around the thighs and waist, but not too unmanageable for a few hours, and a loose, deep blue top that makes her breasts look fantastic.
Lena quickly exits the bathroom, knowing that Kara is still covered in congealing eggs and would probably like to shower in her own home before all of the hot water is gone.
“Oh good, they fit?” she asks, trying not to knock into Lena as she heads into the bathroom.
“Yes, it’s fine. Thank you.”
Kara grins. “Alex and Myka are back in the kitchen I think. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
When Lena enters the kitchen, Alex and Myka are nowhere to be found. She hears laughter, and turns, finding them on the couch picking at the brownies, still in one of the pans. “Want some?” Alex offers. “This isn’t from the first batch.”
“Um, sure,” Lena moves over to join them, sitting a little oddly in Kara’s just too tight clothes. Alex grins at her knowingly and holds out a chunk of brownie. “Thank you.” Lena picks at it slowly, happy to find that it tastes much better than it looks. She sits there and mostly just watches Alex and Myka; it should be more awkward, probably, she really doesn’t know either of them very well. Instead it's not-quite-comfortable as they wait for Kara to reemerge and be a buffer to them all. Alex, seems hyper aware of Myka’s moods and body language at all times. The second that Myka tugs at her shirt and whines, Alex is there, shifting the collar until Myka lets out a sigh of relief. Lena studies them for the rest of the afternoon, and notices more little moments like this; Myka, wincing as they walk into the hub of the restaurant, clapping her hands over her ears as if the noise is far louder than it is, and Alex’s easy and calm reaction, rubbing at Myka’s shoulders and directing her attention to the desert menu, asking her questions until she’s focusing only on Alex’s voice; Myka, digging into her burrito right away, despite the server informing her that it was extremely hot, and not seeming to burn her tongue at all, or notice the red mark on her hand from where it’s resting on the hot plate; the lights boring down on them, causing Myka to blink excessively until she gives up, and knocks her face into Alex’s shoulder, refusing to move for the rest of the meal. All of these pile up, Kara and Alex both move to cover them, half pretending they don’t exist while Lena is looking, and making sure that Myka is comfortable at the same time.
Finally, Lena rolls her eyes. “I know what Sensory Processing Disorder is,” she says, a little annoyed. “You don’t have to pretend that it’s not happening on my account.”
Kara frowns. “I don’t.” Alex kicks her underneath the table. “I don’t,” she repeats. “Also, ow.”
“What is it?” Myka asks, lifting her head up from Alex’s shoulder.
“Do bright lights, loud noises, and some fabrics bother you?” Lena asks her. Myka nods. “There’s much more to it, but it’s possible that you have it,” her voice lowers, and she directs the rest towards Kara. “Or it could be a sort of temporary reaction to trauma. I can recommend some doctors if you want,” she offers.
“No,” Kara and Alex say quickly. “Um,” Kara adjusts her glasses. “I don’t think that’s necessary, but if I change my mind, I’ll let you know,” she smiles.
“Okay,” Lena says, and quickly grabs the check before Kara or Alex can make a move to do so. “I’m still rich,” she says, signing and passing it back to the waiter. “I said that it was my treat, and I meant it,” she feels a little ridiculous, but she forces herself to make eye contact with all three of them. “Thank you for including me, I had a wonderful time.”
“You can come over whenever you want,” Myka offers. “Nothing about you is too loud,” she grins, wriggling her way out from the booth and running around it. “I like being your friend, let’s get ice cream,” she tugs Lena out of the booth, so quickly that Kara has to steady her—again.
“Myka, be gentle,” Kara reminds her.
“It’s okay,” Kara assures her. “Just keep trying to remember.”
“I will! I will, but ice cream might help me.”
Kara laughs, loud an uninhibited, and Lena might genuinely be done for with how warm she feels right now. “Ice cream always helps,” she agrees. “You’re right about that.”