Chapter 1: Nutrition Is Important
Kara smiled down at her sleepy girlfriend. “Sorry I have to take off so early, but it seems that J’onn got wind of an alien gang’s plans for some kind of unpleasantness this morning, and Supergirl has to be on patrol in about ten places at the same time.”
Lena reached up to her with grabby hands. “Kiss. Want kiss.”
Kara’s smile registered three events at the EXO neutrino detector, 950 miles away in New Mexico. She leaned in and softly kissed Lena, nipping lightly at her lower lip as she pulled away. “Have fun at your meetings today, sweetheart. I’ll be thinking of you while I’m chasing the bad guys.” She grinned and licked Lena’s nose.
“Eww! Kara, you’re such a weirdo!” Lena laughed as she wiped her nose on the pillowcase.
“Yes, but you love me anyway.”
“You know I do, baby. You can’t even imagine how much I love you. Now go on out there and kick some ass!” Lena was still blinking the sleep out of her eyes as Kara waved and took off out the window, grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole time. Lena smiled and hugged her pillow as she watched her girlfriend fly off.
She stretched, and rubbed her head a little, shaking off the cobwebs. How did I ever get so lucky, she thought. She is the most beautiful person on the planet. How in the world did she ever choose me? She shook her head and made her way into the shower.
After getting dressed, she sat down in the kitchen, and poured herself a bowl of cereal for a quick breakfast before heading in to L-Corp for another round of the endless battles with the Board, investors, and partners. Halfway through the bowl she started giggling, and very nearly blew cereal out through her nose.
She was still chuckling when she got out of her limo in front of the L-Corp office tower. She managed to rein it in for the trip across the lobby and into the elevator. Thankfully, she was alone inside when the next fit hit her, but she managed to keep it together as she greeted her assistant outside her office.
“Good morning, Jess. Any surprises on the schedule today?”
“No, Ms. Luthor,” the young woman replied. “You have your usual nine o’clock with Product Development; then at ten it’s the final review of the quarterly financial report; and the conference call with the UK branch at eleven. Then you’re free until the two-thirty meeting with the team leaders for the new drone design. I’m holding two open slots – one o’clock and four o’clock – in case anything comes up.”
“Thank you, Jess, you’re amazing. I’ll be in my office, as usual.”
She walked in and closed the door, thinking about her first meeting. Product Development was supposed to be looking into nutritional supplements for weight loss … and she started giggling again. “Kara, I’m going to get you for this,” she snickered to herself.
Meanwhile, as Lena strained her Luthor training to the limits (as well as probably spraining her anti-grin muscles) trying to keep a straight face through her meetings (and putting herself on mute three separate times during her conference call), Kara was humming to herself and smiling while she cheerfully put a stop to the alien gang’s mayhem before it got off the ground.
“Now, now, you really don’t want to do that. It makes people mad when you steal their stuff, even if it’s not specifically theirs, like with bank money. Come on, let’s go meet some nice people at the DEO.” She was humming a simple little tune she had made up on the spur of the moment, casually grabbing the gang members in groups of two or three at a time and depositing them in the DEO’s prisoner transport vehicles. She seemed to be about as worked up over it as she would have been while doing the dishes. “Hum te tum, dum de tum,” she hummed to herself. The gang members were infuriated by her lackadaisical attitude, but Kara didn’t even notice. She was thinking of Lena, and looking forward to spending another evening with her, and another night in her bed. Kara really, really loved Lena.
After finishing with the gang, she busied herself for the rest of the day rescuing a cat from a rooftop, helping a construction crew lay a culvert, and visiting a children’s cancer ward in one of National City’s hospitals. She knew Lena would be arriving at home around six, having listened in on her L-Corp office with her super hearing at a few strategic moments throughout the day. She had caught Lena giggling a couple of times, and couldn’t help but grin in sympathy (much to the confusion of two gang members at one point). She checked over the city from fairly high up one last time before heading back to Lena’s penthouse, arriving a few minutes ahead of her.
Lena opened the door and walked into her living room. “Kara? Are you here? I am so going to kill you.”
Kara emerged from the kitchen with her best “Lena smile” fully activated. “What? You’re not going to kill me, you love me!”
Lena feigned anger as she stomped into the kitchen. “All day, Kara. Through meetings and conference calls I had this stuck in my head. All day. I think I sprained something trying not to grin like an idiot while face-to-face with people who work for me, discussing important stuff!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Kara managed to look scandalized. “I would never do anything to make your day more difficult. Honest!”
Lena scowled at her, and opened the cupboard. She reached in and pulled out a box of ‘Fat Free Cinnamon Toasty Oats,’ and held it up to Kara. “And who am I to suppose did this, Miss Danvers?”
She pointed to the front of the box, where the word “Fat” had been modified by adding a small upward-pointing arrow between the “a” and the “t,” with the letter “r” written in above.
“Seriously, Kara? Fart-free cereal?”
Kara giggled. “What? I was just doodling.” She giggled some more. “You were laughing at it all day. I heard you. I love it when you laugh.” And she reached out and dragged Lena in for a kiss and a hug.
Lena chuckled, and sighed into Kara’s shoulder. “You are such a dork, Kara Danvers. What am I going to do with you?”
“Well, I can think of a few things we can do to each other…” Kara nipped Lena’s earlobe.
It was going to be a good night.
Chapter 2: Hot Stuff
It's pretty hot when Supergirl cools off.
Summer in National City was always hot, but this was getting out of hand. There had been four straight days of temperatures in excess of 115 degrees, and Kara was at her wits’ end. “Winn, you’ve got to do something. Supergirling uses a lot of energy, and generates a lot of extra heat in the process. My super suit is awesome, you know I love it, but it doesn’t breathe. In this heat, I feel like I’m suffocating when I’m chasing someone down or beating them up. You know I’m always hot anyways, and this weather is just killing me.”
“Everyone knows that Supergirl is super hot, Kara,” Winn winked at her.
“Winn, I’m serious!” Kara stamped her foot hard enough to make their drinks jiggle on the table. Fortunately, the other patrons at the little coffee shop were too busy complaining to each other about the heat to notice anything unusual. “You have to help me!”
“Fear not, beautiful hero person,” Winn said in his best TV newscaster voice. “I’ve actually been working on a lightweight Kevlar/cotton blend fabric to contain fragments when a bomb squad has to detonate a device in a public area. It won’t absorb impacts, but it’s virtually impenetrable, and impossible to tear. It should breathe nicely, and I can probably whip up a summer super suit for you without too much trouble. Give me two days, OK?”
“That sounds awesome!!” Kara beamed at him. “I just hope I can make it that long without melting into a little puddle. Thank you so much!”
True to his word, two days later at the DEO Winn handed Kara a folded square of blue and red fabric.
“OK, Kara, here’s your new suit. As you can tell, it’s much lighter than the original. I gave you short sleeves, and it’s also a bit looser, to give you a little ‘air conditioning’ inside it, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh, Winn, that sounds perfect!” Winn adjusted his sunglasses to protect his retinas from Kara’s Grade Twenty smile. “I’m gonna go try it on, and take it for a spin around the city.” She sped off to the women’s locker room.
When she emerged thirty seconds later, she asked, “So what do you think?” Agent Vasquez replied with a wolf whistle from the opposite side of the room. “Hey, no heckling from the peanut gallery!” Vasquez grinned and turned back to her tablet.
Winn said, “It looks good from here, Supergirl. How does it feel?”
“It feels awesome, Winn.” She twirled, showing off her new duds. “I love the short sleeves. That alone is a humongous improvement for the hot weather, and the cape is so much lighter, too! Thank you so much! You’re the best.” She wrapped Winn up in a patented Supergirl super-hug, which left him gasping for breath.
“Oof, you’re welcome, Kara. Anything for National City’s super-est hero.”
Kara skipped down the hallway and out onto the balcony, and promptly launched herself into the sky. It was another scorchingly hot day, 117 degrees in the shade, and there wasn’t any shade up where she was flying.
“More like frying,” she thought. “This is way better than the other suit, but it doesn’t do anything for my legs. I’m still stuck in these monster boots, and these damn tights aren’t exactly fishnets.
“Hmm. I wonder…”
Kara swooped off to her apartment.
“And it looks like even Supergirl has been affected by the heat wave in National City. Here she is, putting out the warehouse fire this afternoon in the port district. It seems she’s gotten herself a new short-sleeved shirt, and her cape looks different, too. I’d say she’s looking pretty cool, wouldn’t you, Dave?”
Lena switched off the afternoon news broadcast, picked up her phone, and fired off a quick text to her girlfriend.
IceCreamQueen: Just saw u on the news. Lookin super hot in ur new shirt <3! Come on over when ur done. I have a conf call but should be a short one. Lemonade in pitcher on balcony, will join u there?
Two minutes later, her phone buzzed with a reply.
Special_K: Lemonade!!!!!! <3<3<3<3!!! Be there in 10!! =)
Lena chuckled as she set a large pitcher of pink lemonade and ice on the balcony’s drink table, along with a couple of glasses. She went back inside her office and sat down at her desk, glancing at her watch to confirm it was almost time to log in for her videoconference. She opened the application, clicked the link and entered her passcode, and soon was elbow deep in a presentation from L-Corp’s London office about their proposed expansion of a medical facility. She was peripherally aware of Kara landing on the balcony a few minutes later, but she didn’t look up from the chart on her screen and the young analyst discussing its implications. When he started winding down, she looked over to signal to Kara that she would be just another minute, and she froze, her eyes flying open.
“Th-, um, thank you, Eric,” she interrupted, struggling to maintain her composure. “I’ve seen everything I need to see on this.”
He and his team could see that her eyes were clearly not looking at her laptop. “Is everything alright, Ms. Luthor?”
“Y-yes, Eric, everything is fine, thank you. I’ll be recommending to the Board that we proceed according to your proposal. I’m afraid I must sign off now, sorry for the sudden exit. Something has just come up here. Goodbye.” She closed the application and took a deep, shaky breath.
“Kara, are you trying to give me a heart attack? I mean, I’ve seen your arms before, and I know they’re incredible, so I was ready for that. But have you been dressed like this all day?” Her nostrils were flared and she was almost panting at the apparition before her.
Kara looked up and innocently said, “What? I was just trying to cool off a little. When I felt what a difference the short sleeves made, I just had to do something to cool off my, um, bottom half, too. I remembered I had these from last year’s costume party, and they’re great!” She began to bring her leg down from where she’d had it positioned with her foot on the chair, as she adjusted the fastener that held her lacy black stockings to her garter belt. “These are so much more comfortable than my tights were.”
“Oh. My. God. Kara, you’re killing me here.” Lena’s knees were shaking as she practically drooled at the side-bum view. “Please tell me you weren’t flying around the city with no underwear.”
Kara giggled and started to blush. “Well, maybe just a little. Only on my way over here. I knew the news guys would be filming me at the fire.” She grinned and fluffed her skirt.
Lena grabbed the edge of the door, barely managing to avoid falling down. “Inside. Bedroom. Now,” she gasped. “At least one of us is going to be screaming in five minutes, and it’s not soundproof out here.”
Later, she made a fresh pitcher of lemonade, because no one likes warm lemonade.
Chapter 3: Cell Phone
Lena and Kara run into each other at a nightclub. Mutual attraction ensues, with internal panic and flusteration. (That's my word, but feel free to borrow it.) You'll also meet my version of the new character in Supercorp, Lena's Internal Voice. And I must shamefully admit that I, too, have now fallen into the Pit of Eternal Doomnation. I used the phrase "like-likes." *sigh* Oh well. At least nobody smirks.
I dropped this into the Smile group, because it kind of fits. Apparently I still haven't figured out how to write a story with more than two characters, although this one does have some Sanvers shadow figures, so I guess that's a start. Hope you like it.
For all the lawyers out there - I own nothing. This is all for free, and all for fun.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hi, Lena!” Kara smiled brilliantly upon seeing her best friend. “I didn’t expect to see you here, are you slumming tonight or something?” She drew Lena into a brief one-armed hug, being careful not to spill the drink she held in her other hand.
“Can’t a girl go out to a nice club without being harassed from the peanut gallery?” Lena smiled back, returning the hug with slightly-more-than-platonic enthusiasm. “You really clean up nice, Miss Danvers,” she grinned, stepping back and taking in Kara’s outfit. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear this look. That dress is absolutely stunning.”
Kara blushed prettily. She was wearing a very snug (and very short) black cocktail dress with medium-high black heels, silver bangles on her right wrist and a double-wraparound snake arm bracelet on her left bicep. A silver chevron necklace and big silver hoop earrings completed the look. Her hair hung free, falling in gentle curls around her shoulders. Lena drank it in, thinking inappropriate thoughts and praying that Kara wouldn’t notice how her neck was coloring slightly behind her ears. Dangerous territory there, Luthor. She’s straight. Don’t freak out or you’ll freak her out.
“Thank you, Lena, it’s sweet of you to say that. You look very nice, too,” Kara’s blush deepened, as she nervously fidgeted with her bangles while trying not to leer too obviously. Lena was wearing a knee-length pale green dress with a slight flare, with a swirling silver design wrapping around and down. Her only jewelry was a pair of jade drop earrings and a matching bracelet, and she had a black choker for a dramatic effect. Her hair was pulled back in a high ponytail. Come on, Kara, don’t be ridiculous. She’s your best friend, and she’s straight. Don’t scare her away. She downed the rest of her drink, and set the glass on the bar. It didn’t help.
They both wrestled silently with their inner turmoil for a moment. Lena was the first to recover.
“So what brings you out tonight, dressed to kill and all alone?” she asked. “I thought you were more the stay-at-home-and-watch-Netflix type.”
“Well, truthfully, that was my first choice. But my sister was going on her first real date with her new, um, sort-of girlfriend? I don’t know if they’re really girlfriends yet, but Alex sure wants them to be. But anyway, she was scared that she’d get stood up, and scared that if she didn’t get stood up that Maggie wouldn’t be comfortable, or that she’d just leave, or a thousand other things, so she wanted me to come along for moral support, I guess. Anyhow, they seem to be hitting it off really well. That’s them out on the dance floor.”
Lena looked over to where Kara was pointing, and saw a dark-haired couple swaying to the music, arms around each other, foreheads together, and soft smiles on their lips.
“I’m pretty sure I could bang a couple of trash can lids together beside them and neither one would notice.”
Lena couldn’t help but grin at Kara’s comment. “Yes, it’s really obvious that they like each other. I guess that means you’re free to hang out with me?” She looked at Kara with hope in her eyes.
Kara beamed at her. “That would be awesome! I love being with you! … hanging out with you, I mean, um, you know, not being with you, because you know, we’ve never, um, I mean, you’re not … oh, crap, why can’t I ever just be normal when I’m talking to you?” She was blushing furiously now, completely mortified at her inappropriate babbling. “I’m sorry, Lena. I just really like you, and I keep thinking that I’m saying something wrong, or that you’ll think I meant something or didn’t mean something different from what I actually meant, or … shit.” Kara hung her head so her hair hid her face. “Sorry.”
Lena bit her lip, and took Kara’s hand. “Kara, honey, don’t worry about it. You’re adorable when you ramble like that. And I love being with you, too, even if we’ve never ‘um, you know.’ You’re my absolute best friend in the world. You don’t have to worry that I might take something the wrong way. I know you, and you’re the nicest person I’ve ever met. I know that no matter how flustered or confused you might be, you would never say anything to hurt me on purpose.” She was totally insinuating that she’s been thinking about us as a romantic possibility. You KNOW you heard it, Luthor. Don’t chicken out now, this is your big chance. Lena leaned forward and kissed Kara on the cheek, right at the corner of her lips. “Would you like to dance?”
Kara looked up, surprise on her face and a spark of hope in her eyes. “Really? I – I mean, yes! I’d love to dance with you!” Her embarrassment forgotten, she looked Lena in the eyes and practically glowed at her. She reached for Lena’s hand, and had to restrain herself from skipping out to the dance floor.
The band was starting a bluesy song, and they slid easily into each other’s arms, smiling and looking at one another and blushing, much like they had seen Alex and Maggie doing. The first dance led to a second, and a third, until Lena finally had to ask for a time-out. “I’m sorry, Kara, but I have to sit for a couple of minutes. These shoes are absolutely murdering my feet.”
“Oh, of course! I’m sorry, I didn’t realize … Come on, there’s a couple of stools open at the bar. We can sit and have a drink.” She led Lena over to the seats she had spotted, glaring a couple of guys away from them as they approached.
“Uff,” Lena groaned as she sat down. “My poor feet. Whoever invented high heels for women is probably roasting in hell.”
As Kara was turning to sit beside her, her cell phone rang. Lena was surprised to hear the tone, because Kara didn’t have a purse, and there was certainly no room for a pocket on her dress. Kara nonchalantly reached under her dress, and pulled her phone out from somewhere.
Lena’s brain shut down. Her mouth hung open, her eyes widened, pupils dilated as wide as they could go. A red-hot flush crept up her neck, across her face and up past her hairline. She forgot how to breathe.
Kara, oblivious to Lena’s plight, read a quick text from her sister. “Alex says she’s leaving with Maggie, and to not expect to hear from her until some time tomorrow. Wow, that’s great! I guess they really did hit it off!” She typed a quick OK, with a few emojis for luck, and reached back under her skirt to make her phone disappear again.
“Uh, ng, uuhh,” said Lena. “Wh… what, … how … uhm … ?” Oh, well done, Lena. You are one of the richest and most powerful women on the planet. You can reduce politicians, diplomats and royalty to tears with an eyebrow, but a pretty girl flashes a leg, and you can’t string two intelligible syllables together. A red-letter day if ever there was one. “I … Kara?”
“Lena? Are you OK? What’s wrong?” Kara’s genuine concern somehow managed to draw the focus of Lena’s awareness away from her skirt and snap her back into reality. “Lena?”
“Oh. My. God.” She was practically hyperventilating now. “Kara, I … I can’t. I just can’t. I hope you won’t hate me for saying this, or think I’m weird or anything, but sweet baby Jesus, that was the most incredibly hot thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I hope I’m not freaking you out because I’m gay, and I know you don’t know that about me, or didn’t until just now anyway, but I just … omigod. You just reached under, and Jesus – legs, and thighs, and garters …” She put her hand to her mouth, to stop her from drooling on herself. “My God, Kara. I’m so sorry if this upsets you, but you have just destroyed me for other women, possibly for the rest of my life.” It was Lena’s turn to hang her head. She pulled out her ponytail to give herself a curtain to hide behind.
Kara had been worried, but as Lena fought her way through her revelation, her expression slowly changed from concern to surprise, a smile slowly growing on her face. She likes me. Not just friendly-likes, she LIKE-likes me. “Lena? Lena, look at me.” She reached out and gently brushed Lena’s hair back behind her ear. Placing her hand on Lena’s cheek, she slowly tipped her face up until their eyes met. “It’s OK, Lena. I’m not exactly straight, either. And I like you, too. A lot.”
She kept her hand on Lena’s cheek as she leaned forward, asking with her eyes. Lena’s eyes widened, and she glanced quickly down at Kara’s approaching lips and back up to her eyes again. A sound somewhere between a whine and a moan escaped her throat as their lips brushed together, and then they were lost. They didn’t care that the bartender was waiting for their order. They didn’t care that Alex and Maggie were passing behind them on their way to the door, elbowing each other and giggling like schoolgirls. They only knew, both of them, that this kiss felt like home. It felt like something they had been waiting for forever, like sunshine, like warm cocoa on a cold morning, like water in the desert, like happiness.
“Oh my god, Kara,” Lena whispered when they finally came up for air. “I have wanted to kiss you for so long. I knew it would be good, but honestly, I had no idea anything could feel that good. My god, I’m sweating. I feel like I just won the Superbowl or something.”
“I know what you mean. I feel like I’m floating. Like the only reason I’m not bouncing off the ceiling right now is because I’m holding on to you. I really hope I’m not dreaming, because I don’t think I’m brave enough to kiss you for the first time again.” She pressed their lips together again. “The second time, though, no sweat.” She grinned and rubbed her nose against Lena's.
Lena smiled back at her, feeling like she might sprain something from smiling too hard. “Can we go back to my place, maybe, and practice kissing for the rest of the night? I’d like to make sure I know how to do it right.”
Kara’s eyebrows nearly disappeared. “Do you really mean it? – um, I mean, omigosh …” She frantically tried to rein herself in. Just breathe, Kara. You can do this. “Lena, there is nothing in this world that I would rather do than go home with you, and kiss you and hold you for hours and hours. But first, I really, really have to pee. Want to come with?”
Lena grinned and chuckled, still flushed from kissing. With mock seriousness, she said, “I would follow you anywhere, Kara. Even to the ladies’ room in a National City nightclub.”
Later, as they left the club, Kara started to reach for the hem of her dress. “Do you want me to call us an Uber?”
Lena grabbed her hand. “Oh my God, Kara, don’t do that again or you’ll have to carry me home. I don’t think I could take seeing it again, out here on the sidewalk with people walking by and everything.” She took a deep breath. “I mean, it’s like all my life I’ve been told never to expose any side of myself in public that isn’t professionally primped and pimped to perfection, to project and reinforce some aspect of the whole Luthor Image. The thought of you just casually – omigod -” Lena’s heart rate spiked upwards as her imagination warred with her recollection of Kara in the club, her blush rising again as her knees began to wobble. She gulped. “ – casually reaching up, under y- your – under your …” She was practically panting, holding on to Kara’s hand like it was the only thing holding her up, which was probably true. “Please. Please just let me call, OK?”
Kara felt her whole face turning red, but she couldn’t help smiling at Lena’s predicament. “OK, Lena, it’s OK. You can call. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” She pressed a kiss to Lena’s forehead as she groped in her clutch for her own phone. “It’s just a little phone holster I made for when I don’t have pockets or a purse. I can even make one for you, it’s no big deal. Just a couple of little Velcro straps I put together and hung on my garter.”
Lena managed to get her breathing under control, and sent the Uber request. “Kara, it may be ‘just a little phone holster’ to you, but it’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. And I would love it if you made one for me.”
The next morning, long after they woke up, but not very long after they got out of bed, Kara put the finishing touches on Lena’s phone holster. “OK, sorry if my fingers were a little distracting there, but I needed to make sure it hangs in the right spot so it won’t show when you’re wearing a short dress. Now stand up and turn around for me.”
Lena did as she was asked, cheeks flushed from Kara’s lingering ministrations to her inner garter strap. Her oversized tee shirt served in the role of a mini-dress for demonstration purposes.
“OK, I’m just gonna slide your phone in here…” Kara surreptitiously pressed a couple of buttons on the phone, and reached in between Lena’s thighs to slip it into the little contraption she had put together. “Alright, now walk around, like maybe out to the kitchen, and I’ll call you so you can see how it works and start getting comfortable with it.” Don’t giggle. Don’t giggle. Serious face. Helpful face. Don’t giggle.
Lena was still too hot and bothered to notice Kara’s internal struggle. She flexed her legs experimentally, and took a couple of tentative steps before looking up. “You know, I really can hardly feel it at all. This might actually be better than I thought it would.” She walked around the sofa, and headed off to the kitchen. “Don’t tell me when you’re calling. I want to be unprepared, OK?”
Kara waited until she heard the refrigerator door open and close, and what sounded like something being poured into a glass before she dialed, a grin threatening to split her face in two.
“EEEEEEEEK!!!!!” came from the kitchen, followed closely by a *thud* and the sound of someone thrashing on the floor. “KARA DANVERS I’M GOING TO GET YOU FOR THAT!!!!!!”
Kara laughed so hard she almost wet herself. She was still helpless on the sofa when Lena appeared a minute later, her phone in her hand and her face as red as Supergirl’s cape.
“Seriously? Are you trying to kill me?”
Kara gasped, trying to recover from her laughter-induced dysfunction. “Well, I figured that the best way to learn something is through demonstration, right? So I thought that once you experienced what can happen, you’d be much more likely to remember not to leave your phone on vibrate…”
This was inspired by a fragment of a scene in a fic that I read quite some time ago, the name and author of which have long since leaked out of my memory banks. Kara had her cell phone strapped to her thigh under her dress, and in my mind, that was plasma-level hot. So this was inspired by maybe two sentences in that other story. Thanks for the inspiration, whoever you are.
Chapter 4: Shoes
I found this in my junk drawer, where it's been languishing for probably well over a year. I think I showed it to my friend DKG, who probably gave me advice about it, likely telling me that it's an awful lot of build-up for a few yuks at the end. Whatever - I read it and it made me chuckle, so hopefully it won't be completely horrible.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
To say Lena Luthor was fashion-conscious was an understatement. If she was in a face-to-face situation, Lena was acutely aware of every article of clothing anyone in the room was wearing, right down to brand-specific color names and including whether she had ever seen anyone wearing any of the garments present before, who was wearing it the previous time, what size everything was, and how well (or how ill) everything looked on everyone. Lena could have been the fashion editor at any magazine, and done a better job than anyone had ever done before, anywhere. Lena was a genius, and if she decided to pay attention to something, no matter what it might be, she learned everything there was to know about it in exquisite detail.
Lena liked to look nice, and she liked the way she looked in nice clothes. Every morning, after showering and fixing her hair and makeup, she spent half an hour selecting and assembling her outfit for the day. Pencil skirt and impossibly almost-sheer blouse, a dress with a subtle flair, a pantsuit with creases sharp enough to cut an overcooked steak – all calculated to project the confidence of a world leader in technical innovation, and to subtly intimidate any would-be corporate predators.
Lena was very, very good at controlling her image.
The unfortunate side effect of her obsession with clothing (She knew her behavior was obsessive, but she had it under control; she could stop any time she wanted to. Really she could.) was that the best-looking outfits, the outfits that let her control every meeting and professional interaction to her advantage, were not always the most physically comfortable outfits to strap herself into, especially when it was likely to be for fourteen straight hours at a whack. OK, they weren’t just “not comfortable.” They were re-purposed Medieval torture devices. The pencil skirts made it nearly impossible to walk. The subtle dresses pinched her rib cage, and prevented her from taking a full breath. The pantsuits forced her to stand all day or incur the scourge of wrinkled fabric on her butt. All prices she was ready and willing to pay in her pursuit of supremacy for her company and her people, but still.
Worst of all were the shoes. Lena was not a tall person. Almost without exception, she had to wear heels at least three inches high to even begin to project the level of power and confidence needed to intimidate the stodgy old bastards who were so prevalent in CEO circles. Usually four- or five-inch heels were necessary, to get and maintain their attention. She always had Louboutins for every outfit, and they served their purpose admirably, but at the end of a long day her feet would throb like a pair of hammered thumbs. She lived for the fifteen minutes (OK, thirty minutes) she spent soaking them in a hot tub after work each day.
Or she used to, anyway.
Her friendship with Kara Danvers had started innocently enough. They both had felt a spark of mutual respect in their first meeting, despite the hostile approach taken by Kara’s cousin and Lena’s necessarily defensive response. Kara’s seemingly innocuous mention of Supergirl had re-focused Lena on the realization that she was not obliged to accept Kent’s pre-judgment of her, which she knew was based on his long relationship with her disgraced brother. Of course she knew Kent was Superman, though she kept her knowledge hidden. She had been a first-hand witness to her brother’s obsession with all things Super, and she had seen up close the friendship between Lex and Clark deteriorate almost overnight as Lex’s madness took over. The connection was obvious to her when Lex had cursed “that lying freak” as he burned what had been one of his favorite photos. It had showed Lex and Kent after a high school football game, laughing at some forgotten circumstance, and it had held a place on his mantel for years. When Lex had subsequently cursed Superman with the same epithet during his trial, the public had just assumed he was referring to Superman’s testimony, but Lena had seen his true meaning instantly. Clark Kent was Superman. As she had analyzed the meeting with Kent and Kara in her office, she considered Kara’s comments in light of her knowledge of Kent’s secret, and easily connected the dots that led to Supergirl’s identity.
Not willing to make Kara uncomfortable by confronting her with what amounted to unconfirmed assumptions, she decided to keep her knowledge to herself, and to let Kara sink or swim on her own merits. Kara, not a negative thought in her mind or a presumptive bone in her body, swam like a champ. Without fail, she was happy and excited to see Lena under any circumstances. She made no effort to conceal her respect and admiration for Lena and her pet projects, even when she disagreed with Lena’s assessment of their potential effects. The alien detection device that had so upset her when she first learned of it was a prime example. Lena’s assessment of its value had been primarily economical, looking at the marketplace as she saw it and realizing that in the face of an influx of outsiders, the resident human population would flock to her door for the technological advantage it offered. Kara’s analysis had been primarily social, and she had seen the device as an impediment to the acceptance of the alien immigrants. After writing (and re-writing) her article, Kara realized that Lena’s approach was not wrong or inaccurate, and she was able to understand the genius of the device itself. Her discussion with Lena that led to the scrapping of the project would have had a very different result if she had not been able to accept and respect Lena’s views. Lena was fully aware of this, and counted it in Kara’s favor. Along with every other interaction they had, whether Kara was in blue and red or in pastels. Even Kara’s concealment of her dual identity didn’t count against her in Lena’s mind, as she realized the necessity of keeping the secret; and the involvement of a black government agency made it even less likely that Kara’s reticence was her idea alone.
Lena decided that she could trust Kara, and she began to relax. She instructed her staff to allow Kara access to her office, and they began having lunch together. They talked about their jobs, and politics, and art, and literature, and Lena found herself actually smiling and laughing with Kara more frequently, and more sincerely, than she’d ever done with anyone else. Lena didn’t know what to make of it.
When Kara discovered that Lena hadn’t ever watched a single Disney movie, she practically forced Lena to commit to one night a week at Kara’s apartment, watching movies. Kara’s natural enthusiasm and joie de vivre continued to draw Lena in, and movie nights quickly evolved to include blanket-sharing and cuddling, a level of intimacy Lena had been completely unaware of. Kara’s need for physical contact and her unashamed readiness to hug Lena whenever something sad (or funny, or silly, or cute…) happened on the screen amplified Lena’s developing need for Kara’s presence, and she quickly became addicted to their movie nights, to the point where she would cut a meeting short if it threatened to interfere.
Which was exactly what caused her to be a few minutes late one Thursday evening. Lena trudged from the elevator down the hall to Kara’s door, silently cursing the group of Russian investors she had been presenting L-Corp’s latest solar cell design to. For three solid hours. They had been a tall group, requiring her to go with five-inch heels; and it had been an animated meeting, requiring her to stride back and forth in front of the large high-def screen, pointing out various aspects of the tech. Her feet felt like they were practically glowing. She knocked on the door gently, knowing Kara probably had heard her coming already.
“Lena!” Kara smiled her delight as she opened the door and wrapped her best friend in one of her patented total-immersion hugs. “I was almost ready to start getting worried! You’ve never been late for movie night before. Is everything OK?”
“Mmmph,” Lena mumbled into the shoulder of Kara’s sweater, as she relaxed for the first time since breakfast. She pulled back slightly after a moment, gazing longingly at Kara’s sofa.
“I’ve been on my poor feet for hours in these meat-grinder shoes. I swear, one day I’m going to figure out a way to make big feather pillows into top-fashion footwear. My feet feel like they’ve been crushed like the ice in a slushy. I should work up a way to do those meetings by hologram or something. If those Russians had been any taller, I would have had to stand on a chair.”
“The trials and tribulations of the power elite, huh? Peasants like me will never know the agony of success.” She chuckled as Lena pouted in disappointment at the lack of sympathy. “Come on, take those things off and sit down. I know just the thing to make your feet feel better.”
Lena climbed down out of her shoes, and Kara led her by the hand around to the front of her sofa, gently nudging her to sit. She slid her coffee table off to the side, and dragged her ottoman over, picked up Lena’s legs, and draped them over it so her feet were hanging off the edge.
“Oh, that’s so nice. Thank you, Kara, my feet feel better already.” Lena leaned her head back and stretched, pointing her feet and wiggling her toes as she arched her back, reaching for the ceiling. Kara’s eyes were definitely not popping out of her head, nor were they staring at the amazingly graceful movement of Lena’s boobs as she stretched, and she would swear with her dying breath that her face only flushed because she felt so badly for her friend’s having to endure such an uncomfortable meeting at work. Honestly.
Kara’s adoptive sister, Alex, was out on a date with her not-so-new-anymore girlfriend Maggie Sawyer. They were on their way to Tornado Stadium to see National City’s new NHL team take on the Boston Bruins, having met earlier for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. Like the excellent sister that she was, Alex had bought two orders of potstickers to go, to drop off at Kara’s apartment on their way to the stadium.
“Honestly, Alex, don’t you think Kara can take care of feeding herself?” Maggie gently hip-checked Alex as they left the restaurant.
“Yeah, she always has tons of food, especially since she started hanging out with Luthor, but these potstickers are her favorite. And tonight is her movie night with Lena, so they’ll be up and snacking until the wee hours of the morning. I still feel a little guilty about jumping all over Lena about the whole Lex and Lillian thing, so this is sort of a peace offering. Kara’s place is only like a block out of the way, so we’ll have plenty of time to get to the game.”
“Movie night, huh?” Maggie waggled her eyebrows suggestively. “What kind of movies do you think they’ll be watching?”
“Oh, shut up, Mags. They’re just friends; this is how they help each other wind down.”
“Friends. Right.” Maggie raised a pair of very skeptical eyebrows. “How did you manage to avoid seeing the heart-eye laser beams they were shooting at each other when you introduced me to Lena at lunch the other day?”
“Oh, come on. You’re imagining things. If anything romantic was going on, Kara wouldn’t be able to keep quiet about it. You’ve hung out with her; you know she can’t stop talking. And she’s about as subtle and sneaky as a flying turtle crashing through a picture window. Trust me, they’re watching Disney movies and eating popcorn.”
“You can’t fool me, Danvers. My gaydar is better than 95% accurate, and those two set it off like a fire alarm.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it, Maggie.”
“Wait … whoa. Did you hear that, Danvers?”
“The universe just said, ‘Hold my beer.’”
“You’re impossible. Come on, this is Kara’s building.”
Kara sat on the floor in front of Lena, and gently took her left foot in her hands. Setting her glasses on the table beside her, she surreptitiously micro-X-rayed the offending appendage. Mapping out the inflamed tendons, irritated bursal sacs, swollen muscles, and various other damaged parts, she went to work. Her Kryptonian senses, and her precise, almost molecular control of the pressure and location of her chosen attack points, made what should have been a simple foot massage for Lena into a religious experience.
“Oh my God, Kara, that’s incredible.”
“I’m just getting started, Lena. I have skills you’ve never imagined.” Kara winked at her, grinning impishly.
Lena did a mental double-take. Is she insinuating that she knows… No. No way. One of her joints popped under Kara’s firm but gentle ministrations.
“Ooooh, that’s – unnnggh…” Lena groaned and her eyes closed. “Kara, I am never going to let you out of my sight for the rest of my life. If I had known you could do this… oooohh my goddd …”
Kara giggled. “Lena, I hate it that you have to put yourself through that torture. It’s already so unfair that women in general have to work twice as hard, and be twice as good, just to be seen as adequate by the men in their professional circles. But requiring you to look like a supermodel at the same time is just adding injury to insult.” She switched to Lena’s right foot, quickly repeating her surreptitious examination, and began her miraculous treatment again.
Lena’s eyes rolled up in their sockets, and she leaned back with her hands holding the sides of her head. In near-ecstatic pedicurian euphoria, she said “Ooooohhh, Kara, yes, right there…”
Alex, with Maggie in tow, had used her key to open Kara’s apartment door at just that moment. She heard Lena’s moaning encouragement, and saw the top of Kara’s head over the back of her sofa, in what appeared to be socially unacceptable proximity to Lena’s nether regions. Rapidly considering the available possibilities, and in light of her conversation with Maggie moments earlier, she responded in the most logical and responsible way she knew.
“YAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!! MY EYES!!!!” She dropped the bags of food and ran to the kitchen.
Maggie, a seasoned veteran of several years of Gay Roommate Wars, collapsed to the floor in hysterical laughter.
Kara looked up, still reverently holding Lena’s right foot, and with her eyes wide, said, “Huh?”
Maggie was beet red, pounding on the carpet.
Lena looked at Kara, a confused expression on her face. She turned towards Alex, and innocently asked, “What?”
Alex had turned on the faucet at the kitchen sink, and was frantically blasting water in her eyes with the sprayer. “No! Nononono, not that! Make it stop, take it away! Arrrrgh!”
Maggie was helplessly gasping for breath on the floor. It was all she could do to keep from wetting her pants. “Al-- /gasp/ -- Alex -- /pant, gasp/ -- hahaha -- /gasp/ -- Alex! -- /gasp, gasp/ Stop, Alex, it’s OK!”
Alex was too smart to be fooled by Maggie’s attempt to placate her. “It’s not OK, Maggie! We just walked in on my baby sister reaming her girlfriend on the couch! My brain will never be the same!” She continued to spray water in her eyes, thoroughly soaking her shirt.
Kara and Lena shared a look, and proceeded to dissolve in hysterics, which set Maggie off again.
Somewhere nearby, the Universe picked up its beer and said, “My work here is done.”
I think this was supposed to be a serious story, but it sort of went off the rails somewhere. I have a bunch of other bits and pieces lying around, maybe I'll try to stitch a few of them together into something coherent. I hope you enjoyed this one. Love you guys.
Chapter 5: Gravity
Lena asks Kara how she flies, which leads to some discussion of advanced physics.
OK, so this is probably the nerdiest thing I've ever written or worked on, including 140-page scientific reports about lake chemistry and other horrible things. In this fic, I've tried to find some common ground between canon and reality. There are a lot of aspects of DC canon that are just completely illogical and incompatible with what we know about physics, and that are utterly inconsistent even internally. So I've left out the portals, and moved Rao to a workable location, and fiddled with Kryptonian history a bit. I've also thrown in a little of my own interpretation of the Standard Model. Hope it's not too boring.
“OK, Kara. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while now.” Lena sat down next to her girlfriend on the sofa, and gently took the smartphone from her hands.
Kara looked up, a little startled, and began to nervously adjust her glasses. “Um … sure, Lena, you know you can ask me anything, right?”
Her smile was slightly less brilliant than usual. Their status as “officially dating” was only a little over a week old, and there were still plenty of unexplored corners in the relationship, and unknown facets of each others’ personalities.
“It’s OK, Kara, I’m not going to drop any bombs on us.” She leaned in for a quick kiss. “I just want to understand things. You know how I get once I start to focus on an idea, right?”
Kara rolled her eyes. “You have the most obsessive mind I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t want to be a puzzle you were trying to solve; I’d never stand a chance.”
Lena chuckled. “Well, actually …” she drew out the words as she grinned playfully at Kara. “You kind of are the puzzle that I’m trying to solve today.” She took Kara’s hand in her own.
Kara widened her eyes in mock terror. “Oh crap! What am I gonna do now? I’m doomed!”
Lena smiled and squeezed Kara’s arm. “You’re Kara Zor-El, Mistress of the great House of El, and you were slated to be the youngest-ever inductee into the Science Guild, the history of which went back thousands of years. Before you told me you were Supergirl, I only ever saw the adorable, slightly goofy Kara Danvers who I secretly fell in love with. I never suspected you were one of the most advanced intellects on the planet – if not the most advanced. You have no idea how sexy that is to me. I want to understand the things that you understand … at least the things that you can entrust to a human. I don’t want you to violate any Prime Directive Krypton may have had.”
Kara smiled at the Star Trek reference. “Lena, I trust you with anything. But I think that you may find that at least some of the knowledge I have, while it may be interesting, will not be very practical or useful given humanity’s current technical capabilities.”
Lena looked at Kara for a long moment. “I kind of figured that there would be limits. And I can respect that some of those limits are going to be more social than scientific, in the same sense that you shouldn’t hand a loaded AR-15 with full-auto enabled to a stone-knives-and-bearskins primitive. I fully expect that it would take years for you to explain everything that you know about how the universe works beyond Earth’s current scientific understanding, and many more years for me to fully understand it. I’m not asking for that. There are just some things that really keep me awake at night, thinking about how to understand them. I’m hoping you can help.”
Lena’s expression was so sincere, her eyes so bright and focused on Kara’s own, that Kara knew she couldn’t refuse anything Lena might ask. “Of course, Lena. Ask me anything, and I’ll do my best to help you understand whatever I know.”
“Well, ever since I first heard of Superman, and even more so since I met you, I’ve been trying to figure out how you fly. I always felt like if I asked Superman, his answer would have been ‘I just do it.’ I know Krypton had a much deeper understanding of physics than humanity has, and I suspect that a lot of what humanity knows as theoretical physics was much more fully developed on Krypton, to the point of real-world technological applicability. Again, I’m not asking you to violate any Star Trek-type Prime Directive, but I’m really dying to know how you do it. Can you tell me? Please?”
Kara smiled. “You know, in all the years I’ve been on Earth, you’re the first person to ask me that. And not only that, you’re probably one of the only people I could talk to about it who might actually understand what I’m talking about. I’ll be delighted to tell you what I can, but you might want to sit down – it might take a while.” Kara sat down on the sofa, and gestured for Lena to sit next to her. “So I’ll be skirting the whole Prime Directive thing by avoiding any actual equations, but you are definitely smart enough to take what I say and start working on them.” Kara looked steadily into Lena’s eyes. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
Lena felt a chill run down her spine at the thought of being the first human to see beyond the veil, to what she suspected was either confirmation or negation of Einstein’s theories, and possibly even a glimpse of a Grand Unification theory. She took a deep breath to steady herself, and nodded. “I’m ready.”
Kara grinned at her girlfriend. “Your heart is going crazy, Lee. I’m not going to introduce you to some kind of Universal Consciousness or anything. It’s only science.”
“I know, Kara, but I love science, and I love learning new things. This is going to be the newest, most amazing science I’ve ever been exposed to. You can’t blame me for being excited.” Lena caressed Kara’s forearm, gripping it nervously for a second before bringing her hand back to her lap.
“OK, then, here we go. First, you should know that while the theory behind what I’m going to explain to you is fundamentally based on Kryptonian science, the fine points and the way they actually apply in the real world are things I worked out on my own since I’ve been here on Earth. Kryptonians couldn’t fly on Krypton.”
Lena leaned forward, her eyes wide. “Holy cow, I never even thought of that. And you’ve figured it out? All by yourself?”
Kara blushed at the praise, smiling. “Well, I was genetically engineered to maximize my mental acuity, so I really kind of cheated.” She chuckled softly and took Lena’s hand. “In order to explain my flying, I need to give you a little background. You know the Standard Model theory that explains the Big Bang origin of the Universe, and Guth’s theory about the initial inflation of space itself, right?” Lena nodded. “And I know you’ve seen the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image, because you showed it to me. So, keeping those theories in mind, if you could instantaneously teleport to the most remote galaxy in that image, and set up a Hubble-type space telescope there, and take another deep field image in the direction away from Earth, what do you think you would see?”
Lena looked at Kara for a moment, nonplussed. “More galaxies, of course.”
“Ten points to Ravenclaw. So human scientists have determined that the Universe is about 14 billion years old, right? And the farthest objects in the Deep Field Image are about 13.5 billion light-years away, which is logical. So the most distant visible objects in the deep image taken from that galaxy you teleported to are going to be about 13.5 billion light-years further away. As are the objects seen from the next galaxy, and the next, and so on. Are you with me so far?”
Lena nodded, seeing the direction this was going. “Yes, you’re pointing out that the inflation phase of the Big Bang was pervasive, and resulted in a universe that is effectively infinite.”
“Yes, but also no. This is one of the parts where I’m going to leave out some math. Humanity is very close to figuring out how to prove this, but I can tell you with great confidence that the universe is infinite. Now, if you just accept that for the purpose of this discussion, where does that place Earth’s physical location in relation to the universe as a whole?”
Lena thought for a minute. “OK, I’m not sure if I’m going in the right direction with this, but in an infinite system, every point can be described as the center, right? So Earth is at the center of the universe?”
Kara beamed. “Exactly. No matter what direction you go, there is the exact same amount of universe as there is in any other direction. The important thing to consider for this discussion is that this includes an infinite amount of mass, because as we’ve already pointed out, you’ll never run out of galaxies. The next thing to consider is the gravitational force exerted by an infinite amount of mass. The formula that Newton came up with for gravitational force is essentially correct for our purposes. If you use an infinite mass for one of the terms in the numerator, the force becomes infinite, right?”
Lena spoke up at that. “But in this case, to get to that infinite mass, the force has to travel an infinite distance, so the infinity-squared term in the denominator would more than cancel out the numerator, wouldn’t it?”
Kara smiled her best Lena smile. “You might think so, but it doesn’t. One of the things that human science hasn’t quite worked out is that in an equation that describes a physical phenomenon like gravitational attraction, it matters at a fundamental level which variable is being modified. Equations let us define convenient terms that we use to describe things like force or motion. Mass and distance and the like are fundamental properties that don’t need to be defined beyond setting parameters for measurement. In an equation, the doubling of any one fundamental value is not the same as doubling a different fundamental value. In other words, one gram does NOT have the same relationship to two grams as one meter has to two meters. You – humanity, that is - will not be able to physically discover or verify this until you develop instruments capable of measuring gravitational radiation directly. The ultimate effect in the case we are discussing is that the two infinities do not cancel each other out, and the only reason Earth is not being accelerated in some random direction is because we are at the center of an infinitely large, infinitely dense sphere. The gravitational force cancels itself out in every direction.” Kara paused, waiting for Lena to indicate that she was with her.
“So you’re not looking at the local effects here. I mean, obviously Earth’s gravity is still effective. And the effects of the moon and the sun haven’t been cancelled out. And it’s evident that gravity is the operating force that keeps the Milky Way rotating coherently, right? So at what scale does this cancellation come into play?” Lena scrunched her brow in concentration. “I mean, even at the largest scale we can observe, we have found gravitationally dependent mega-structures. Groups of galaxies forming these huge bubble-like arrangements, rotating around a common center…” Her voice trailed off as she imagined the scales involved.
“OK,” Kara began, “Here’s where the background comes in. Everything you just said is true. But consider that everything you can observe, everything that comprises those megastructures, is within the part of the universe that is close enough for its light to have reached Earth in the time since the universe formed. In the inflation phase, all of the objects potentially visible from Earth were close enough to each other that their mutual gravitational attraction had already been established. Other parts of the inflating universe were far enough away, and inflation was rapid enough, that the connection never happened, and what we can refer to as the “local” part of the universe is affected by the rest of the universe as though it is all concentrated in a point, or a singularity. There are an infinite number of these point/nonlocal pairings overlapping throughout space, but to an observer inside the universe, there is only one, centered at the observer’s location.”
“Just like every point is the center of an infinite universe…” Lena felt like she was beginning to understand.
“Exactly.” Kara smiled, proud that Lena was picking this up so quickly. “So now we come to my flying. In the strictest sense, I don’t fly at all. I fall. When I came to Earth and was exposed to the radiation from your star, Sol, something in my cellular function changed. In addition to the obvious enhancements to my physical strength and resistance to physical damage, my senses were greatly amplified. Some of those improvements are more or less common knowledge at this point – super hearing, and telescopic and microscopic vision for example. But most people don’t know that I can tell which shirt has been worn by a person, even after multiple washings, just by smelling it. I can read the writing on a newspaper by feeling a photograph of it with my fingertips. I can follow a trail underwater by tasting the traces left behind by whatever I’m following. And my other senses have been similarly affected.”
“Wait, what?” Lena interrupted. “That’s all five already. Hearing, sight, smell, touch, and taste. What other senses do Kryptonians have?”
Kara’s smile grew. “The same as humans, Lena. We all have a sense of time, a sense of balance, a sensitivity to magnetic fields, the ability to sense where our various body parts are relative to the rest of ourselves… and most of our senses can be broken down into multiple derivative senses, like color vision versus black-and-white vision. All of mine have been cranked up to eleven. But the most important one for flying is my sense of balance. Balance is how we detect and adjust to gravity. I can feel the gravity waves from every direction, just like we talked about earlier. I can feel the infinite mass all around me, even though it’s billions of light-years away. But even more than just feeling it, I can choose to focus on specific parts of it, while ignoring other parts. Just like listening to one person’s voice in a crowded bar, I can filter out the gravitational effects in one direction and allow myself to be affected by gravity from the other direction. I literally just let the universe suck me around.”
Lena’s eyes were as big as saucers. “Oh my God, Kara, that’s incredible! If we could figure out how to replicate that effect, we could have artificial gravity! The implications are unlimited!”
“I’ve done a few experiments. You know the basic equations. If I allow a completely linear acceleration, with infinite mass in front and no counteracting pull from behind, how fast could I go?”
Lena blinked. “Holy shit, Kara. You’d be relativistic almost instantaneously. You’d be a like bunch of photons. Jesus, I can’t – what the hell would happen?”
“So I went out into the desert one time, and gave it a try. I didn’t go full out or anything, but I punched it a lot harder than I had ever done before. For the shortest interval I could manage, which was something like a tenth of a second. My path was mathematically straight, and I accelerated from zero, heading due west to subtract about a thousand miles per hour from my speed. I left a plasma wake, probably some free quarks in the upper atmosphere. I was able to decelerate to zero and reverse course somewhere around the orbit of Saturn, and came back a little slower. For me, it took a total of less than ten seconds. For everyone on Earth, it took almost three hours.”
“OK, stop. I need to process this.” Lena’s eyes were darting back and forth as she mentally digested what she had heard. “You just told me that you can literally accelerate to the speed of light almost instantaneously, completely without inertia or reaction mass. Holy crap, just knowing that’s even possible is going to drive me crazy. There has to be a way to replicate the effect on a space ship. This opens up the whole galaxy, Kara! I mean, literally any star in the Milky Way is within reach! Even other galaxies…” Lena’s voice trailed off. “Wait a minute. Time dilation. Shit. This is only going to be practical in a very local region of space, isn’t it?”
“That’s right. If I had let myself go for just one minute of subjective time, I wouldn’t have made it back to Earth for thousands of years of objective time. On the other hand, a practical method of accessing these forces would enable viable colonization of compatible planets within fifty or so light-years of Earth – whatever length of time would be tolerable. There are twelve stars within ten light-years, and more than a hundred and fifty within 20 light-years. Rao, Krypton’s sun, is about 24 light-years away, and within that distance of Earth there are about 200 stars. There are a good number of potentially habitable planets in there; enough to allow humanity to expand for quite some time. But as you said, time dilation will make meaningful colonization beyond a fairly local region – or even meaningful exploration – impossible until faster-than-light travel is developed.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve got that figured out, too. That would make me crazy, unless you could give me some kind of hint, to point me in the right direction to work on it…?” Lena fluttered her eyelashes flirtatiously.
Kara laughed at Lena’s antics. “I’m so sorry to disappoint you, but unfortunately that’s not in my bag of tricks. Kryptonian scientists had been working on theoretical possibilities for ages – wormholes, folded space, warp bubbles, you name it. Nothing had panned out by the time Krypton exploded. The pods that Kal and I were sent off in were prototypes – our other interstellar craft were larger and slower, built for exploration and diplomacy. We had pretty much reached the practical limit for slowship exploration, which for us was about 20 light-years when we used cryogenic storage for personnel. Kal was in cold sleep for his trip. I was supposed to be, but my pod was knocked into the Phantom Zone before it activated. But anyway, we never did figure a way around the lightspeed barrier. Two of the six other intelligent races we had interacted with seemed to have developed ways to beat the speed limit, but they were very Prime-Directive-y with us about it. I think there’s some kind of interstellar secret society or something that you can only join by figuring out how to outrace a photon.”
Lena smiled and leaned in to Kara’s shoulder, taking her hand and lacing their fingers together. “So since you don’t know the secret to faster-than-light travel, you can’t violate any Prime Directive by telling me about it, right?”
“Nope,” Kara grinned at her. “There’s nothing there to tell.”
“And we’re sure it’s possible, since your friends can do it, yeah?”
“I’m sure of it. They never came out and said it, but our records showed them getting around without time dilation issues. There’s only one way to do that.”
“And any ideas a mere human might come up with - not mentioning any names - in conjunction with a random Kryptonian - again, not mentioning any names – would be new material, not subject to any kind of interdiction?”
Kara’s smile grew again. “And any technology derived from those ideas would be fully patentable. I can see right through you, and I don’t even need X-ray vision.”
Lena swatted her arm playfully. “That’s not where I was going, silly. Though I wouldn’t complain if that was where we ended up. I just want to do some original science with my brilliant girlfriend.” She kissed Kara’s cheek. “I love how smart you are. It’s an incredible turn-on for me. And I can’t imagine anything that would make me happier than working with you on something like this.” Lena cupped Kara’s chin and gently turned her face so they were eye to eye. In her most serious voice, with sincerity oozing out of every pore, she solemnly asked, “Kara Zor-El Danvers, will you be my lab partner?”
Kara dissolved in helpless laughter. Lena’s smile threatened to bruise her cheeks as Kara gasped for air. After three or four unsuccessful attempts to respond, punctuated by fits of giggling and guffaws, Kara finally managed to speak. “Of course I’ll be your lab partner, you goofball. Oh my Rao, I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. You’re crazy, and I love you for it. We’re gonna have so much fun with this.” She pulled Lena in close and kissed her. “And we’re gonna have so much fun with this, too…”