Actions

Work Header

hold me, my dear (and don't let go)

Chapter Text

“You look like shit.”

Lena rolls her eyes at the greeting as she slides into the seat across Veronica. The woman is wearing one of her usual off-shoulder dresses to show off that god-awful snake tattoo—not that Lena will ever tell her opinion of it again. The CEO thanks the attendant who pours her some wine and she takes a long swig before she glares at the woman in front of her.

“I’m running a multi-billion dollar corporation, Ronnie,” she says tiredly. “Cut me some slack.”

Veronica just laughs and tilts her head. “From the looks of it, you need to get laid too.” Lena full on glares at that but she doesn’t say anything, just looks around as she sips her wine. She doesn’t need to get laid. What she needs is to finish three deadlines due in the coming weeks, especially one that requires her particular attention, and so what if she hasn’t been intimate with anyone since Jack? She’s a woman of brilliance. Of youth and power, and she certainly does not need to give in to human desires, especially not sex. She’s beyond that.

“Or you know. Just mere human contact,” Veronica retracts, and when Lena looks up at her, the other woman wears an expression closer to concern. Not an emotion she usually associates with Veronica Sinclair who practically lives outside of the law, but she’s one of Lena’s rare friends—the few people who actually care about her, and not only because her last name is Luthor and that she’s probably the most powerful woman, if not person, in National City. The worry in her eyes makes Lena frown. “I’ll be the first to say I loathe human contact that doesn’t land money on my hands, and I know you don’t trust anything short of scientific, but I’m sure you’re aware that actual human contact improves health and well-being, reduces stress. God knows you need that last part.”

Lena just stares at her friend incredulously. She clicks her tongue against her teeth and realizes her shoulders are tense, and when she relaxes them, Veronica smiles softly. The woman slides what looks like a business card across the table.

“My, ah, acquaintance runs a company that provides professional cuddling services.” At Lena’s eyebrow raise, Veronica chuckles. “It’s an actual, legit company, so you don’t have to worry about the legalities of the thing.”

Lena continues to stare at the woman, but she takes the card and examines it.

“Just give it a shot,” Veronica says with a shrug. “The best you can have is a better self so you can continue dominating the industry. Worst is, well.” The woman smirks. “Someone without a job for the rest of their life I suppose.”


 Lena leans back in her chair and stares at the unremarkable black piece of card in her hands. She’s in her office and has debated asking Jess to look into the company for her, but she doesn’t really want to drag her secretary into some madness Veronica wants her to check. For all she knows, it’s one of Ronnie’s more elaborate pranks. She sighs and thinks back to what the woman had said. She did have a point; she has done nothing but work in the past few months—or god, years—and though deep-tissue massages and chiropractic have done nothing but miracles for her body, she knew actual touch was different. And not sexual touch, just intimate, platonic physical contact that would, hopefully, help with her brain’s inner workings and better her social and developmental capacities.

It didn’t sound so bad, too; upon checking the website, she’s pleased to know that their professional cuddlers are all certified and they adhere to a strict code of conduct for every session. They might be strangers, but the site offers a write-up for each cuddler so she could at least get to know them. The service costs eighty bucks per hour, excluding the travel expenses and such. Not that money was ever an issue for her anyway. They had background checks too, not that Lena couldn’t run a more thorough one of her own, plus an option for confidentiality—that’s the part that sold Lena into the idea, and she finds herself clicking on the “Book a Session” button.

She’s led to a page that lists available cuddlers in the area. Only three people in National City and two of them are male. She’s sure none of the cuddlers are sexual predators, but she doesn’t feel fully comfortable with cuddling with strange men, so she scrolls down to the third and only female in the list.

Kara Danvers.

The blonde’s picture on the site is of her hugging a pillow, in what looks like penguin-printed pajamas, a rather contagious grin on her face. She’s pretty too, Lena murmurs to herself, and reads through the cuddler’s profile. She’s a Marketing graduate of National City University, works as a junior reporter at CatCo Media. She says she’s curious and playful and Lena could only think of a puppy, and she chuckles when she reads that Kara Danvers is also currently fostering a puppy she calls Krypto.

Her secretary’s voice filters through the intercom to remind her of a meeting she has in ten minutes, so Lena requests a session that evening, just so she could get it over with. She books it under a fake name, Tess Mercer, and indicates the location of one of her smaller apartments in the city. She picks an hour for the session length and stares too long at the last question before typing a response. A knock on her door tells her that she has to leave for her meeting now, so she submits her request and hopes for the best.

What would you like your Cuddler to know about you?

I haven’t had human touch in a while. I might have forgotten what it feels.


 Her phone dings with a message halfway through her meeting. She doesn’t check it until it’s done, and she’s mildly surprised when she sees it’s a confirmation to her 7PM booking with Ms. Kara Danvers. She makes sure Jess hasn’t set anything for her for the rest of the day, and by the time 5PM rolled around she tells her secretary to go home, much to the woman’s surprise. Lena asks her driver to take her to the Italian restaurant near the apartment she’ll have the session in. She gets dinner alone and realizes she’s getting more nervous as the minutes tick by.

Thirty minutes before the scheduled meeting she heads to the apartment. It’s one of the usual two-bedroom suites with coastal decor—one of the reasons she chose the place. The shades of blue in everything calm her in a way the static whiteness of her main apartment doesn’t. The place reminds her of the beach and the sea, and though it’s probably been years since her last vacation, she remembers Maldives with fondness.

She changes into a comfortable gray sweatshirt and yoga pants, takes her hair out of the bun and runs her hair through it. She debates having a glass of wine but gives in, popping open a brand new bottle of red. Halfway through it the buzzer tells her of her cuddler’s arrival, and she tells the guard to let the woman up. Lena gulps the rest of her wine and hides the evidence of her nerves, instead looks around to check if everything is in tiptop shape.

The knock on the door brings her back to her senses. With a sigh, she pads bare feet to the door and opens it, and the sight that greets her is almost jarring. Kara Danvers is grinning on the other side of the door, and Lena watches her push her glasses up before she shoves her right hand to her direction.

“Hi! You must be Tess,” she says, and for a moment Lena is confused until she remembers her fake name. “I’m Kara, your cuddler for tonight. May I come in?”

Lena gathers her bearings and shakes the woman’s hand. It’s soft, and Lena looks down at it. This might be the first handshake she ever cared to give, and she shakes her head as she steps aside to let the blonde in. She’s glad of the fact that Kara doesn’t seem to realize she’s Lena Luthor, and she thinks that maybe this isn’t a bad idea after all. In any case, she knows how to protect herself, so she can just break a bone or two in the blonde’s body in case she tries anything remotely alarming.

“Y-yes, please. Come in. I’m sorry,” she says and laughs softly. “I’m—” She sighs as she closes the door once the cuddler walked in. She’s dressed in a comfortable-looking button-down white shirt and dark jeans, her hair tied up in a loose bun on her head. Her glasses slip down her nose before she pushes them up again. “Sorry. This is new for me and I’m…” She trails off and waves her hands helplessly. This isn’t the Lena Luthor that has faced countless of powerful people and took them down, and she isn’t too happy about it. Then again, she isn’t here to win some oil deal or something. Kara, for her part, just smiles at her warmly, and Lena feels her stomach do weird flips.

“Don’t worry about it,” the cuddler assures. “I understand this is your first session? I mean, I assume it is, because I read what you wanted me to know, and I uh, well. I want to make this as comfortable and as helpful to you as possible.” Kara flashes her a bright grin again. Lena blinks at her. Professional indeed, and she’s almost touched at the thought of the woman caring until she remembers this was a job for her. Lena sighs.

“Thank you. Well, would you like something to eat or drink?” When Kara shakes her head, Lena nods and points vaguely to the direction of the master bedroom. Better get this over with sooner, she thinks. “The, uh, bedroom’s this way,” she says softly, and Kara smiles again. She puts her bag down on the couch and follows Lena as she leads the way.

The bedroom is a large, quiet space; much like the rest of the apartment the walls are painted light blue. The king-sized bed and its sheets are white, the bed frame and the pillows are dark teal. The rest of the furniture—dressers and closets—as well as the carpeted floor are of the color of sand. The only decoration is the large painting of ocean waves on the wall across the bed. Kara takes it in with a small sound of awe.

“This is probably the biggest bedroom I’ve been in,” she says, then squeaks as if she didn’t mean to say it. Lena dismisses it with a small chuckle and tells her it’s fine, then awkwardly stands by the bed.

“So… How is this done?” She asks seriously. She thanks the lack of judgement in Kara’s smile—she really, really likes to smile, and Lena is reminded of the way the sun warms her when she lounges by the beach, the sound of waves lulling her to near sleep.  

“We get on the bed and we cuddle,” Kara says simply. There’s no hesitance in her voice, and for that Lena is grateful because they only needed one bumbling, nervous idiot out of the two of them. Kara fiddles with her phone and sets it on the bedside table. With a hum, she gets on the bed and slides under the sheets before lifting them, opening her arms as an invitation for Lena. “Get in here.”

Lena pauses, gaze flitting from Kara’s open arms to that sunny expression on her face. She notices how blue her eyes were, and she’s reminded of the ocean, the slow current gently easing her worries off. Nodding, she slips under the sheets as well, and with uncertainty settles beside Kara. The woman seems to be having none of it, because the next thing Lena knows, strong, warm arms wrap around her body and she’s being pulled flush into Kara’s front. She finds her face resting against the crook of Kara’s neck, Kara’s cheek pressed against her temple. A small sound of protest makes itself known and she feels the woman against her chuckle; she hopes Kara couldn’t hear or feel her racing heart.

“Sorry. Too much too soon?” The blonde pulls away and Lena sighs in gratitude for the space, however small. She looks up and sees bright blue eyes looking back at her with what seemed like worry. She bites her lip.

“No. Just…” Lena sighs again. “Caught me by surprise is all.” Kara nods thoughtfully but she doesn’t retract her arms around Lena, instead keeps them there. Lena looks down and manages an eyeful of Kara’s lips because of their proximity, and gazing lower gives her a view of the woman’s chest. She huffs lightly and chooses to close her eyes. They are quiet for a few moments and Lena could only focus on trying to relax and even her breathing. She is grateful for the silence, though she jumps a little and her heartbeat spikes up again when she feels circles traced on the small of her back. Kara hums.

“Can I ask something?” She says after a beat. Lena hesitates.

“Is that part of the session?” She asks. She hopes it doesn’t come off as snappy as it sounded in her head. She hears the smile in Kara’s voice when she speaks.

“Not really. I can keep quiet if you want me to.”

Lena hums. She doesn’t say anything and she’s mildly pleased when Kara does keep quiet like she said. The businesswoman bites her lip before she speaks again. “What do you usually do in sessions?”

Kara doesn’t answer immediately, just chuckles, and when she gently squeezes her waist in an almost polite manner, Lena doesn’t flinch.

“If I answer you, can I ask my question?” She replies softly. Lena opens her eyes and glares at her, but Kara is only smiling. “Some clients just want someone to hold them, so we just lay in silence until they fall asleep. Mostly small spoons. Some like to talk. It’s part of human connection, you know?”

Human connection. Lena almost laughs. She doesn’t know; she talks to win wars, to dominate, and she rarely ever speaks just to...connect. It isn’t surprising; her status and her last name has shut her out for most of her life, and the rare conversation she has that doesn’t revolve around business deal is with Ronnie, her staff occasionally, when she asks them how they are, and… Well. That’s all, she supposes. She closes her eyes again and hums as she finds herself leaning into Kara’s warmth. She rests her forehead against Kara’s cheek and feels the way the muscle quirks under her in what she assumes is yet another smile.

“Can I ask now?” Kara says again. Lena is amused with her persistence, so she finally nods. “Yay. So, when you said you haven’t had human touch in a while, how long are we talking?”

Lena balks at the question. It’s the least she expected, and she doesn’t notice her body tense until Kara loosens her hold on her and pulls back. She thinks she feels the brush of lips on her forehead, but the comforting circles on her back are there once more and she feels herself melting into Kara’s arms once again.

“You don’t have to tell me,” Kara assures in a soft voice. She reminds Lena of the sun and the woman finds herself surrendering to her warmth. It’s unusual for her to feel like this, like she could entrust her whole world to this stranger and feel nothing but warmth, but the confidentiality clause is written in every cuddler’s contract so if any word of this conversation leaves this bedroom, she’ll be sure to destroy Kara Danvers’ life herself.

“Probably a year or so,” she finds herself saying. She feels Kara tense around her for a moment then hears the woman sigh.

“That’s too long,” she says with a frown, and Lena finds herself chuckling. “No, I mean it. Human physical touch helps people thrive.”

“I know,” Lena cuts in. “Science says so too.”

“So why?”

“Why what?” Lena asks, confused.

“Wait for so long.”

Lena chuckles once more at the question. Why, indeed? Because she’s a busy woman of brilliance, power, and most of all, pride, and if she doesn’t falter in the face of the cruelest men in the industry, then she shouldn’t give in to the mere physiological and psychological desire for touch.

Or because she's a Luthor, and no one would really dare touch her with a ten-foot pole, much less cuddle with her. That and she's been a lone wolf all her life, and touch is something that would come with close family and friends, even mere company, and those are things not even a woman of her brilliance, power, and pride has. 

She doesn’t answer though, just shrugs. Kara doesn’t seem pleased with that answer and they lay in silence for a while, her in Kara’s arms, strong and sure despite the tinge of awkwardness Lena feels, the sound of breathing and heartbeat around her.

“I’m glad you decided to try this out,” Kara says after what seemed like eons. Lena hums sluggishly, finding herself getting sleepy in comfortable warmth. She stays quiet for a couple more moments.

“What’s Krypto’s dog breed?” She asks. Kara isn’t expecting the question but Lena can practically feel her excitement at it. “I read it in your profile.”

“Jack Russell Terrier,” Kara says. “He’s a cute little puppy. I’ve been fostering him for almost three months now, and on one hand I’m sad no one’s interested in adopting him yet, on the other, he’s the best thing to happen to me, so I—” She clears her throat. “Sorry. I tend to ramble a lot.”

Lena only smiles. She certainly doesn’t mind. Her voice reminds her of the waves, white noise that drown the harshest of her self-doubt. “So you…” She trails off, encouraging Kara to continue. Kara laughs softly.

“So I’m happy,” she finishes. Lena feels her heart jump a bit at that. Happiness. It makes her realize that just as long as she hasn’t had physical touch, she hasn’t really been happy. Sure, she’s pleased over victories and glad over certain news, but happiness—genuine one like how Kara feels over a mutt, is something that is closer to an imagined memory for her at this point. She sighs and she’s thankful that her face is hidden from Kara’s view, because she doesn’t think she can handle a stranger’s pity when she sees the anguish on her face.

“I bet he’s a happy dog too,” she says softly. Kara giggles in reply and Lena feels the arms around her tighten. She sinks into the offered warmth she hasn't felt in so long and after a while, places an arm around Kara to keep her close.


 

Sounds of chirping birds jolt her into wakefulness. Lena blinks furiously and realizes she had fallen asleep, only to wake to what seems like an alarm. Kara’s arms are still around her and she looks up to see that the woman is also sleeping. Gently, she nudges the woman awake.

“Five more minutes,” she grumbles, and Lena finds herself grinning at the blonde.

“Okay, but will I get a discount?”

At that, Kara jumps, eyes opening in panic. “Tess! Sorry, golly, that was very unprofessional of me,” she stammers, sitting up and pulling away from Lena, much to the latter’s disappointment. She already misses the warmth, somehow, but she chastises herself as she watched Kara turn her alarm off. Tess, she echoes in her head, and before she could think about it, she’s speaking again.

“Lena,” she says simply. Kara looks back at her and she notices the way the woman’s hair messed up in her bun, how her glasses are skewed. Lena kneels up and reaches out to straighten it, and she smiles at the way Kara blushes. “My, um, actual name is Lena.”

Kara blinks and it takes a moment for her to react. “Oh,” she breathes out, and after a second, nods like this was a common occurrence. “Lena it is.” There’s that smile again, bright and warm like the sun her pale skin craved, and she finds herself smiling back. “Our session’s over now, I guess,” she continues, and Lena thinks she imagined the crinkle between the blonde’s eyebrows as she gets up. “The site will charge your card for fees and expenses.”

Lena nods. For a moment, somewhere within that hour of warmth and the memory of the beach and the sun, she forgot that this was business. A paid service. “Right. Thank you for your...service,” she says softly, and she hopes disappointment isn’t obvious in her voice.

She hopes it’s disappointment in Kara’s face too, as she walks her out her bedroom and leads her back to her door.

“You’re very welcome, Lena,” Kara says, just as soft, and the smile on her face is bright, contagious. Lena mirrors it. “I hope it was...okay.”

More than, Lena thinks, but she only nods.

“I’m glad,” Kara replies.

Lena opens the door for Kara and bites her lip. “Me too,” she says softly, green eyes meeting the ocean in Kara’s. She misses the beach, the sea, the warmth of the woman she doesn’t know.

Kara grins in reply and gives Lena a wave before walking out. Lena watches her go, but before she could turn at the corner where the elevators are, she calls out for her. Kara turns, and Lena is happy the hope she feels is visible on the way the blonde smiles.

“Are you allowed to bring Krypto to sessions?” She calls out.

Kara grins brightly, and Lena realizes that she doesn’t remind her of the sun—she’s the sun herself.

“I won’t tell if you don’t.”

 

Chapter Text

Lena Luthor, for all intents and purposes, is a woman of science. When encountering a problem, she’ll gather her data, postulate theories, and test her hypotheses until she gets a correct, definitive answer.

So when she wakes up the next morning on the right side of the bed, lightness to her every step, she sets aside the idea that it’s because of the single hour spent with Ms. Kara Danvers, Professional Cuddler. She chalks it up to the good weather, the different surroundings that welcomed her in her waking moments, memories of the beach and the sun behind her eyelids.

She goes to work and everything goes well, which is more than she expected. She receives good news from the heads of her current projects, one of which is now going ahead of schedule.

If she wasn’t a woman of science and rationality, she’d chalk it up to luck—but it isn’t luck that landed her to where she is. A lot of people would say it’s because she’s a Luthor, therefore she had privilege over everyone else, but the very few who are know her—by that she means Ronnie and Jack—know that she fought tooth and nail, blood and tears to be where she is: the youngest CEO in the history of L-Corp and the most powerful woman in National City. Since she was adopted at four, Lillian hadn’t really made her feel welcome. Lex had, until his recent downfall to insanity—because of his genius, so their mother says. Only her father actually saw her as a child of his own, but even then, he looked at her differently because she was a girl. She was never really trusted on anything major until she had proven herself worthy—discoveries and achievements to her name, titles and awards under her belt. She had worked hard for the approval of the scientific field as well—that hadn’t been easy either; she is a woman, after all, and unfortunately the world is full of men who think having a dangling sausage between their legs makes them superior over women. She worked even harder to earn the trust of her people.

So no, Lena doesn’t think her streak of good news and good mood is a product of luck or an hour spent in bed with sunshine in the form of stranger. She attributes it to the weather, the good coffee Jess had brewed, and the hard work of her employees.

She doesn’t think it’s bad luck either when news of Morgan Edge reaches her in the middle of the week. That sentient bottle of cheap cologne was really getting on her nerves—he’s probably bitter a woman of her age has outgrown his own company—but his attempts to foil her next medical breakthrough is laughable at most. Still, she’s not pleased about him poaching her scientists. On the other hand, it meant she could promote people and hire others, as well as send herself to the lab to work.

It doesn’t seem to be so bad. Not until the days rolled over and she felt stress manifest on the knots on her shoulders, bags under her eyes, caffeine in her veins. She’s almost glad she developed enough social skills so she doesn’t snap at the first scientist who makes a mistake, but come Friday, they’re back on schedule and ready for the first phase of testing, and Lena is just glad she could go home and finally relax after a job well done.

She returns to her office after lunch and packs up for home. She notices the business card on top of the neat stack she keeps near her refreshment table. Smiling at the memory of the sea and the sun, Lena finds herself sliding into her seat and opening that damned website on her laptop. She reasons she needs the oxytocin and serotonin boost to help with her stress, and she’d rather do it without risking a sugar rush. It’s simple science, really.

The process is quick—she goes to the website and books a session with Kara Danvers. She frowns when she sees the next available session can only be booked on Monday night but she takes the slot anyway. She inputs the same details as last time, except for the last question she writes you know what. Satisfied, she goes home with tiredness on her shoulders but the same skip in her steps as the beginning of the week. She doesn’t notice it but her secretary does, and Jess gives her a delighted smile as she walked out of the office, grace, power and lightness in her steps.

This time, after the automated confirmation of her session, she receives a message from an unknown number. She finds herself smiling at the text, and even if they were plain letters through her phone, Lena can almost hear Kara’s voice.

Hi Lena! Or Tess. Since that’s still your name in our records. I just want to personally confirm our session on Monday. Also, I know I mentioned I can bring Krypto for next week, but he’s still perfecting his puppy potting skills and I don’t want to soil your lovely carpets, so I hope it’s okay if I don’t bring him yet. But I’ll see you very soon!

Another one comes in shortly.

Oh and this is Kara Danvers, by the way. Of Cuddlers.com. Your Professional Cuddler, in case you forgot. Your choice to save my number or not but in any case, this is me! See you!

How can she forget?

She saves the number under Kara. Not pleased with the blank contact page, she goes to the website and steals the photo Kara has—who owns penguin pajamas anyway?—and saves it on her phone so she has a contact photo.

The weekend passes by all too slowly for her liking. Saturday is spent with her usual schedule. She runs in the morning then gets brunch with Ronnie, who of course asks about her suggestion the week before. Lena shares that she tried it out. There’s a small smirk on Veronica’s lips, and when Lena asks what she’s smiling about, the woman just shrugs.

“Nothing,” she says simply. “I didn’t know the effects lasted this long.” Green eyes narrow at Veronica’s words so she backtracks. “You look stress-free, is what I’m saying.”

Lena laughs. She swirls the red wine around her glass and quirks an eyebrow. “So I don’t look like shit anymore? Call the press. Veronica Sinclair just handed me a compliment.”

“Don’t make me regret saying it,” Veronica shoots back. Lena just grins. There’s lightness in her, somehow, and the look on her friend’s face tells her of how rare that sight is.

“Aw Ronnie,” the CEO coos, and the other woman rolls her eyes. “You’re going to give me another one when I kick your ass later on the ring.”

She goes home after brunch and spends her early afternoon reading through journals. Later, she heads to a gym Veronica owns. Every other week is her scheduled Muay Thai training and sometimes, when invitation is extended, she spars with Veronica. True enough, Lena wins all three rounds of their friendly sparring sessions, the last of which she ends with a roundhouse kick that Ronnie groans about until dinner. She goes home with an aching body, a particularly nasty bruise on her left leg that she doesn’t complain much about considering she bruised up Veronica too.

She sleeps in that Sunday. She rolls out of bed at ten in the morning and reads through more journals until lunch, works for a couple of hours in the afternoon, then beats up her boxing bag until exhaustion carries her to a dreamless sleep.

When Monday comes, she’s almost forgotten about her session with Kara until Jess reminds her that there’s a scheduled “private session” on her calendar that evening at 7PM. Lena flushes slightly, much to her secretary’s amusement. A “private session” makes it sound like some illicit affair or some shady deal. She tells the woman she could go home early if she wanted to and continues to work, wondering how else she could call it without telling Jess it’s a cuddling session. She’d probably think it’s sad. She could call it a dinner with a friend, but it isn’t dinner and Kara certainly isn’t a friend.

Private session it shall remain then.

Work has the worst timing though, and Lena battles through meetings and pitches until late. She asks her driver to pass by a Chinese restaurant where she gets take-out from, hesitating for a moment before ordering for two, and she’s only two minutes late when she arrives at her apartment building.

Kara is sitting on the lobby, on her phone, and Lena sighs.

“Kara, hey. I’m sorry, work ran late,” she says, glancing to the guard to let her know she’s taking her up.

“Te—Lena! It’s fine,” Kara assures as she pushes up her glasses. She follows Lena to the elevator. “I was just about to text you.”

The CEO pushes the button to her floor. “I hope you haven’t been waiting long?” When the blonde shakes her head, a stray lock of blonde hair falls in front of her face and Kara pushes it behind her ear. Lena smiles.

“No, I just got here. I was going to go up but I was told to wait because you weren’t here yet, so...”

Lena nods. “Yes, it’s basic protocol.” The elevator doors open and they walk out. “I don’t usually stay here, so it’s...” She shrugs, and when she glances at Kara, the woman is confused. “What?”

 “You don’t usually stay here?” Kara asks curiously. The raven-haired woman pauses at that and laughs nervously.

“No, I... I have another place. This is closer to my office,” she explains. When they reach her apartment door, she puts the paper bags in her other arm so she could press her thumb on the biometric lock. Kara stammers and reaches for the bags.

“Golly, I’m so sorry! How rude of me,” she mumbles. “Let me help you out, please.”

Lena smiles gratefully and she lets her take the bags in both her hands, then proceeds to unlock the door. She chuckles at Kara muttering an awed sweet under her breath and walks inside.

“Just put them on the dinner table,” Lena instructs. Kara places the paper bags carefully there and eyes them curiously. “Sorry. I haven’t eaten yet, and I ordered for two, in case you’re hungry,” Lena adds.

“Chinese?” Kara asks.

Lena looks impressed. “How did you know?”

The blonde taps her nose with her index finger and grins. “I smell potstickers,” she says. “And as shameless as it sounds, I don’t say no to free food.”

It surprises Lena how since they had met at the lobby, there hasn’t been an awkward lull in their conversation. She’s surprised, most of all, of how much she had said to this practical stranger going through the paper bags of food she ordered, like they have been doing this for some time, and she doesn’t realize she’s stopped in midway her walk to the dining area and is staring at Kara.

“I... Can totally wait until you get the first bite?” Kara says uncertainly. She puts down the wooden tray of what Lena knows were the best dumplings in National City and looks embarrassed. “Sorry. Potstickers are my favorite, so...”

Lena shakes her head. “No, no it’s fine, sorry,” she assures. She files the tidbit of information away and puts on a warm smile that at least doesn’t feel forced as she tries to find her bearings. It was weird how easy things seem to be around Kara—almost as if she’s known her for a long time. She remembers the first session and the feeling of being able to tell Kara everything without fear of judgement and abandonment, but she mentally scoffs because surely, no person like that exists. Lena files away that problem for later inspection and moves to help take the food out.

“There’s potstickers, sweet and sour pork, and some um, shrimp lo mein,” Lena says as she opens the food containers, ignoring Kara’s look of confusion. “Eat. I can’t finish all of this.”

“Do they really give these away?” Kara taps a fingernail on the wooden tray that housed a dozen potstickers, then points to the wooden food containers that littered her dinner table. “When I get take-out they just dump them in paper bowls.”

Lena takes a pair of chopsticks from the paper bag and shrugs, proceeding to eat. She’s not famished enough to ignore the question but doesn’t really want to tell Kara that her favorite Chinese restaurant also happens to be the most expensive one in National City and it does not do take-outs, not for just anyone at least. She doesn’t use the “I’m rich” card often—if at all—but she’s grateful for it just this once as she shoves a savory piece of shrimp in her mouth. She chews and looks up at Kara, who is still looking at her for answers. She swallows, takes a bite of her food once more, before answering the blonde.

“Just please eat, Kara,” she says, sliding chopsticks to the woman. “If I have you for an hour, maybe we can finish eating in half and squeeze the rest for the session?”

Kara accepts the chopsticks—stares at the ceramic make—but she shakes her head. “Oh no, don’t worry. You’ll get the full hour. Besides, you’re feeding me too, so I can’t really complain.” Lena nods and continues eating. She watches Kara take a bite of the dumpling, and a beat later she’s shoving the whole thing in her mouth. The moan she lets out echoes through Lena’s apartment and the CEO blushes hotly.

Who gets a reaction like that from potstickers?

“Man, oh man, this is so good,” she mumbles under her breath, muffled with the food in her mouth. Lena stares, wide-eyed, and when Kara swallows, her gaze drops to where the blonde licks her lips before quickly bringing it back to her bowl of delicious noodles. “Gosh, Lena, where did you get these?

The raven-haired woman hesitates before answering. Kara manages to tear through another dumpling, and she waits for her to swallow before she speaks. “Lee’s.”

Kara chokes on nothing. She sputters and reaches in panic for the bottle of water in one of the bags.

Lee’s?” She shrieks. Lena just nods calmly and takes a piece of broccoli in her mouth.

“Oh gosh. This is probably worth a month of my salary,” Kara mutters. Lena just laughs and shakes her head.

“I’m not going to make you pay for it, darling,” she says, and if she isn’t sitting, her knees would have probably given in at the realization of how easy the term of endearment fell from her lips. She chastises herself and ignores the way she could feel Kara’s gaze on her, instead continues to eat.

She reminds herself: She is a client, Kara is her service provider.

Kara stares at her as if she’s grown an extra head. Lena quirks an eyebrow and woman blushes a delicious pink, making the CEO smile in satisfaction. The blonde eats then, finally, and they finish dinner quickly—Kara had all but inhaled her potstickers and more than half of the pork and the noodles, upon Lena’s insistence to eat, please. They share conversation too, much to Lena’s surprise yet again, though it was mostly her listening this time. Kara tells her of the best hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in the city, a place run by a woman she calls Auntie Cho.

“I mean, I don’t have a palette as sophisticated as yours, but their potstickers are the best. Even beyond Lee’s,” Kara says. Lena makes a mental note of the place, but only because she’s curious and not because she wants to find out more about this blonde practical stranger. That would be preposterous.

The blonde had muttered about how good the food was and how expensive it probably was all throughout dinner, but Lena had assured her that it was fine. She wouldn’t admit that it was amusing to watch Kara mumble under her breath like that.

Kara offers to clean up but Lena waves her off, instead invites her to her bedroom instead. The blonde agrees with a smile that warms her yet again.

“Let me just change,” Lena says as she opens her closet. She stares at it; she hadn’t brought any clothes. After all, she had totally forgotten about the session, and the few sleepwears she has on hand are unworn night gowns bought for the sole purpose of stocking up her apartments with emergency clothing. She glances back at Kara, who’s sitting on the bed and busying herself with her phone. She’s wearing a maroon sweatshirt this time, and Lena knows it’s as soft as it looks, as well as what she guesses are cotton-based jeans. An embodiment of comfort and Lena wants to cuddle up with her already. She can’t very well wear her pencil skirt and dress shirt to bed, much less to cuddle Kara with, so she huffs to herself and grabs a black night gown. She heads to the bathroom to change.

The night gown is longer than she expected, which is good. It’s made of silk, very comfortable, ends just above her knees and, bless whatever higher being there is, doesn’t dip too low. She pulls her hair out of the bun as she steps out of the bathroom and realizes that like the first time, she’s nervous.

Kara distracts her from that when the woman turns to look. She jumps up to her feet, as if burned, and Lena can see her lips moving but there is no sound. She smiles, pleased with the reaction. It certainly helped with her nerves.

“Shall we, Kara?” She asks. She doesn’t quite know where she found the playfulness she inflected the question with. Kara blinks owlishly and when she doesn’t move, the shorter woman gestures to the bed.

“Oh! Right, um, yes, we shall,” Kara says in a rush. She’s bouncing to the bed and slipping under the sheets in a matter of seconds, but Lena is sure she saw her wearing red socks with some patterns on them. “Right, right, come here,” the cuddler continues, keeping the sheets up so Lena could slide in as well. She meets bright blue eyes and hears her heartbeat against her ears. It takes her a moment to move but she’s getting on the bed. Kara lets her settle in comfortably. She expects the touch, but she reacts much like the first time—a soft gasp of surprise, the racing of her heartbeat. Kara tucks her under her chin, Lena’s face against the crook of her neck again, and warm, strong arms loose but secure around her body. Her own arms are folded and pressed against against Kara’s chest, and the realization makes her blush hotly.

“Um, sorry,” Lena murmurs as she pulls her arms back. She feels a little awkward and she hears Kara chuckle.

“Put your arms around my waist,” the blonde says softly. Lena hesitates. It’s not like she hasn’t done it before, but she hopes Kara doesn’t notice her trembling slightly as she put her arm over the cuddler’s waist, holding on to her as well. Kara hums as if pleased, and Lena jolts faintly when she feels cotton-clad legs slide against her bare ones. She finds herself smiling and closing her eyes, remembering the small patterns in Kara’s socks.

The blonde breaks the silence. “I have a question.”

Not a beat later, Lena chuckles. “Oh, this again.”

“If it makes you feel better, I can let you have the first question,” the blonde offers. “Or you know, just tell me to keep quiet.”

Lena hums at that. She thinks she doesn’t quite mind hearing Kara talk and she would just listen, every time. Still, she asks. “Don’t you like the quiet?”

“Well. Only if my client does. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a very chatty person.” Kara laughs and the raven-haired woman thinks she hears a tinge of self-deprecation there. “And also I feel like I’m slacking if I just lay around and end up sleeping. Like... You know. Last time.” Lena remembers. There was warmth and the memory of the sea and the waves, and Kara’s arms had carried her to sleep. Apparently, she had taken Kara with her then, too.

Kara continues. “Though, erm, that feels a little harder now since I’m full. Which means you really have to talk to me, or I’ll fall asleep on my job.”

Lena shifts in Kara’s arms. The blonde loosens her hold to let the woman move, and when Lena settles again so her lips don’t brush against Kara’s neck every time she speaks, she continues. “I don’t think that’s considered slacking. On one hand, you’re doing a good job of...cuddling.” She feels Kara shrug.

“But still. I like to know my clients better. Human connection, you know.” Lena chuckles. Yes, she remembers. Kara continues. “I don’t... My friends say it’s both a good and a bad thing.”

Lena hums thoughtfully. “What are the prints on your socks?”

Kara pulls away at that, and Lena looks up at her. There’s a grin on the blonde’s face, her blue eyes sparkling behind her glasses, and Lena feels the need to explain. “I just noticed them earlier.”

“Aha. But a query for a query, deal?” Kara lifts up a foot and Lena glances at it. She laughs when Kara wiggles her toes underneath the clothing before lowering her foot again, brushing against Lena’s own.

“Are those... Penguins?” She asks, a little taken aback.

“Yeah, I like penguins,” Kara answers. Lena thinks as much, if the pajamas she had on in the website profile is another indication. “Might be a little childish for you, but you know. They’re cute.”

Lena doesn’t think they’re childish at all. Cute, yes, but she attributes Kara’s inclination to such things as something positive. Something a sun like Kara herself could interest in. And she’s not one to judge, not when Kara held her like someone to protect in her arms, with no trace of judgement, just genuine curiosity. Like a puppy. “They are cute,” she agrees.

There’s a smile on Kara’s words when she speaks. “Can I ask my question now?”

Lena chuckles. “Do you always have set questions for every session?”

There is a pause before Kara answers, and when she does, her voice is softer. “Just for the people I want to know more about.”  

Lena pauses at that. She hasn’t opened up to anyone since Jack. The man is more of a stranger now than a friend ever since she moved to National City. She still thinks he could’ve gone easier on her when she left, but then again, the way he let her go made things easier for her once she was away.

The material of Kara’s sweatshirt is soft underneath her fingertips, and the tenderness in her words is sand on Lena’s feet. She sinks into them and closes her eyes. This is a woman she doesn’t know, a woman who wants to know her.

“Alright.”

“Yay!” Kara shifts and pulls away slightly. Lena looks up at meets her blue gaze. Her eyes are oceans and she remembers the way the water calms her. “So, um. What constitutes as a perfect day for you?”

The question feels loaded, especially with how Kara’s gaze seems to hold hers. An hour with you, Lena thinks, and she’s surprised by how easy the thought comes to her. She breaks eye contact, hoping Kara’s eyes are just sirens and her thoughts are helpless sailors, drawn to her lovely gaze.

“How random,” she says instead, choosing to bury her face onto Kara’s neck once more. She feels the woman’s hold around her tighten. They provide warmth and safety, something she has never attributed to a stranger.

“I could ask for your favorite color instead,” Kara says. “I don’t think it would tell me much about you though.”

“You’re sounding like my therapist,” Lena murmurs, and she regrets it as soon as the words are out. Crap. She’s not thinking again. More than warmth and safety, the arms around her are intoxication—Kara’s perfume, the scent of her shampoo, the sound of her even breaths—and she needs to be more careful. She continues quickly.  “A job well done, I suppose. I’m not quite sure. So long as all my employees still have jobs and none of my company’s projects go crazy.”

There’s hesitancy when Kara speaks. “But that’s like, a perfect work day.”

“Is there a difference?” The CEO hears more than sees Kara puff up her cheeks with air then release it in a small huff.

“Well... I don’t know,” Kara starts. “But a perfect day for me is like, work without getting my head bitten off, then getting dinner with my sister or my friends. Pizza and potstickers would be great. Then, um, binge-watching something, and getting to cuddle with Krypto to sleep.”

Lena has so many questions but she settles for one. “Older sister?”

“Yeah. Her name is Alex,” Kara answers. She hears the smile and the pride in her voice. “Do you have siblings?”

Lena pauses. She’s still surprised that Kara doesn’t know about her. She’d have thought the mention of a company would ring bells. How many Lenas does Kara know, anyway? She’s nonetheless pleased. Kara's non-judgement might change if she knows who she is. “A brother.”

“Oh, cool.” There’s that curiosity in her tone again. Excitement. Lena wonders if she’s some sort of alien or metahuman who thrives off of answers. “Are you two close?”

Lena doesn’t respond to her question but she does think of Lex. The brother anyone would love to have, as long as he’s sane. She remembers him, fondly, and forgets that he almost had her killed. It's better that way. “How is that different from my definition of a perfect day?” She asks instead. If Kara noticed her deflecting, she doesn’t say anything. A warm foot slides against her left calf and she bites her lip. Her bruise is still there, but she doesn’t react much.

“It’s more like a perfect day for business,” Kara supplies.

“Yes,” Lena answers slowly. She could practically hear Kara thinking, and she sighs before speaking again. “I don’t exactly have friends or family to join in on my perfect day. My work is my life.” It's the truth. It doesn't bother her much, but Kara seems to personally take offense.

“That’s…” The blonde trails off, but Lena could guess what she’s thinking of. Sad. “What do you do anyway?”

Lena laughs nervously. She walked right into that one. “Erm. I’m... An engineer,” she manages, and hopes Kara doesn’t pick up the spike in her heartbeat.

Kara hums. “That pause there? Tell-tale sign. You suck at lying.” The cuddler lightly jabs a finger on Lena’s hip and the CEO giggles.

She is a good liar at times. She's won boardroom wars because of it. Her mistake now is one she fully accepts, if only for the way Kara smiled.

“What are you, a detective?” She shoots back, teasing. Kara chuckles.

“A reporter and an investigative journalist in the making, but close enough.” Lena could almost smell Kara’s interest, like her lie was a bone she dangles in front of the blonde. She thinks of a golden retriever. “So, what do you actually do? I don’t know many engineers but have I mentioned that this is one swanky apartment?”

Lena full on laughs. “Swanky?”

Kara huffs indignantly. Lena chews on her lip and absently tugs on the cuddler’s sweatshirt. “I’m a CEO.”

“...Oh.” There’s a beat before Kara speaks. “Sounds like a heavy job. For what company?” It’s Lena who pauses this time and she worries her bottom lip between her teeth for a moment. Well then, she thinks, if they’re going to play this game, better play it with complete honesty. She holds on to the confidentiality clause in Kara’s cuddler contract, though she thinks that the woman would never sell gossip on National City’s most powerful woman. She hopes.

So she dives headfirst, trust in her clutches. “L-Corp.”

She’s almost given a whiplash with how quickly Kara pulls away. “You’re kidding. Are you kidding? Oh gosh.” Lena looks up. There’s disbelief in Kara’s wide eyes and her glasses slid lower down her nose. Lena fights the urge to push it back up. “L-Corp? Wait. Golly. You’re Lena Luthor? Oh my god. Oh my god!”

Kara is muttering under her breath again, much like how she did during dinner over potstickers, and Lena nervously watches her. She bites her lip and tugs in frustration at the sheets under her. She’s used to intimidated reactions upon people knowing who she is, but she doesn’t think she’s had an introduction like this, like she just unveiled a secret identity. “Are you going to leave?” She asks, and she hates the way her voice breaks. The curse of being a Luthor—higher chances of ending up lonely or insane. She doesn’t know what’s worse.

“What? No!” Kara pulls Lena into her arms, legs sliding against Lena’s own again. Kara sighs and Lena feels the warm air against her temple, as well as the urge to cry as she buries her face back on Kara’s neck. She wants the ocean to drown her in this safety, wants the warmth of her sun that is Kara Danvers embrace her like this—like she cares. There’s assurance in the way she holds Lena, and the woman holds on to it for dear life, like she’s in a stormy sea and Kara is her only hope.“I’m just in awe that an amazing woman is in my arms.” Kara tenses for a moment, a muted squeak on her lips. “I mean. Like… Hired me. As a cuddler. Not… Nevermind.” She huffs. Lena manages a chuckle but there’s only relief in her bones—relief that Kara stayed. A voice in the back of her head tells her it’s only because this was a job for Kara, but the cuddler’s next words are waves on the shore that wash away her self-doubt.

“You’re amazing,” Kara breathes, stealing Lena’s own. “I’ve read about you in papers.”

Lena bites her lip. She doesn’t quite know what to say to that but she feels...happy. They lay in silence and she’s glad Kara indulges her.

“So why did you become a cuddler?” Lena asks after some time. She hopes Kara hasn’t fallen asleep yet.

“I give very nice hugs,” she answers. There is no trace of drowsiness in her voice and Lena is pleased.

“I am well aware, thank you,” she shoots back, laughter lacing her words. Kara’s response is to squeeze her in her arms. “But seriously though?”

Kara shrugs. “The ad was interesting. I could use the extra cash. And I wanted to help, um, people.”

Lena realizes then just how kind Kara is. “Sad, lonely people like me?” She jokes, but she stills when Kara doesn’t speak. The CEO sighs softly and hopes she didn’t offend the woman.

“Is it bad that I hate that you’re sad and lonely?” Kara says, her voice soft, as if any louder could break something. Lena longs to hear the playfulness and curiosity in her voice again, so she tries.

“I could give you a bigger tip?”

“Shut up,” Kara laughs softly. “The three hundred percent tip last time is already too much.” Lena smiles; it wasn’t a big deal, and she really appreciated their first session. Kara fidgets. “But seriously. Can I be honest?”

“If it’s what you think about me, I’d rather you be,” Lena says simply.

Kara pauses, then she’s pulling away slightly so she could look the raven-haired woman in the eyes. Her arms are still around Lena, as if anchoring her. Distantly, she feels shapes drawn against her waist, soothing, calming. Lena swallows at the way those oceans seem to hold her captive, and she hopes yet again that Kara couldn’t feel her heartbeat.  

“I said I want to know my clients better,” the blonde starts. “And that’s true, because it makes the sessions awkward, kind of, if we treat each other like strangers. Not that I have a lot of regulars, anyway. You’re probably one of the three people who avail of our services.” Kara chuckles. Lena bites her lip, curious who the other two people are that end up wrapped around Kara’s strong, warm frame. “Anyway. I just... And you can say no, I totally get it. But I’ll try anyway. Oh, gosh. This sounded easier in my head.” Kara stammers for a moment, blushes when Lena raises a curious eyebrow. The blonde huffs. “Can we… You know. Be friends? I’d really like to be your friend. You probably don’t want to, anyway, because golly, you’re Lena freaking Luthor and you can probably buy me, my place of work, and all of my friends, but I—”

“Kara,” Lena says, and the blonde abruptly stops and apologizes. She chuckles and clenches the fabric of Kara’s sweatshirt in her fist lightly, like it’s the only thing she could hold on to. It's not like she asked Lena to marry her. It's an offer for friendship. Not that she gets those on the daily; she gets more death threats for breakfast. Still, it's a lovely offer and there isn't another way she could answer. Not when Kara looks so happy and hopeful. “I’d… I’d love to be your friend.”

Kara grins and Lena feels warm, like Kara is the sun and she’s the moon soaking up her brightness, even without her completely pressed against the cuddler’s frame. Before she could start building up the courage to ask Kara to hold her closer, the blonde is pulling her to her neck, arms around her body and legs tangled with hers.

They lay in silence for a few moments and when Lena speaks, Kara seems to wait with bated breath.

“As your friend, am I entitled to free sessions?”

“Don’t push it, Luthor,” Kara says with a laugh. Lena doesn’t think her last name has ever been said with such softness.

When Kara leaves, it’s with a hug and a smile that’s entirely too warm and Lena thinks of the beach, the sand and the sea on her feet, and she bites her lip to hold back the plea for Kara to stay, for just five more minutes. She could pay. She could pay for another hour, for the day, the week even, for all the hours she needed until she doesn’t feel like she’s missing something anymore.

But Kara lingers on her doorway, and when Lena opens her lips to ask what’s wrong, she speaks.

“I can bring Krypto next time, for sure,” Kara says, and the implication of a next time makes Lena’s supposedly dead heart soar with hope. Lena smiles, a relieved laugh on her lips.

The blonde bounces on the balls of her feet and grins. “Promise.”

 “I’ll get dog bowls.”

Kara shakes her head. “Oh no! It’s fine. I can bring his. Anyway. Bye.” She waggles her fingers in a small wave and Lena smiles, raising her hand to return it. Lena watches her go, and once she’s out of sight the raven-haired woman finds herself watching the space where she stood longingly. She shakes her head and smiles.

A perfect day, it seems.

Chapter Text

When she finally finishes her three critical daily tasks after getting to the office—sign all paperwork, reply to all possible emails, and specify all other tasks for the remainder of her day—Lena realizes it has been fourteen hours since she bid goodbye to Kara Danvers, Professional Cuddler.

Roughly less than thirteen and a half hours ago, said Kara Danvers asked her if they could be friends. Lena had said yes and, for the rare few minutes that she gets some peace to herself at work without some sort of distraction or two, she realizes that she’s...buzzing with excitement at the idea.

It’s sad, really, to be excited at the prospect of having friends at twenty-five years of age, but it’s not a bitter truth or one that’s met with contemplative thinking. It’s just fact—like how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and how the Earth is definitely not flat. She’s forgotten how excitement feels, at least about such a personal matter. The most enthusiasm she has shown in the past are geared toward business deals, but she supposes delight over results of whatever L-Corp’s labs are working on might be some distant relative of the emotion that’s bubbling in her chest.

She wonders if she felt excitement back when she was four and was told she was going to a new family, after having lost everything. Did four-year-olds feel hope? There was only a memory of the grin on Lex’s face when she beat him on that chess game, but she doesn’t remember how she felt at that time. Not that it matters now.

Jess is knocking on her office door to remind her she has ten minutes before her first meeting when she realizes that, quite embarrassingly, she isn’t quite sure how to deal with this newfound friendship. She hasn’t had many friends. There was Sarah back in third grade until girl had to move away, and then when she was about to make other friends, Lillian had her transferred to a private school where no one wanted to talk to the new kid.

Then she was shipped to a boarding school where people either loved to kiss ass or be asses themselves and friends only exist on sunny days. The realest person she found is the homeless old man near the port, where she usually went to stare at the sea, who told her she looks like she could use a shoulder to cry on but offered her a bottle of cheap whiskey instead.

Then Lex went on a rampage, terrorized four capital cities, and at that point Lena stopped trying to make friends—not that anyone wanted to do anything with a Luthor by then anyway.

So she can’t really be blamed if she was at a loss on what the next step is acquiring the certain label of friends. She vaguely remembers Veronica making a snide remark about her in boarding school until they met again a few months back at an auction, decided to catch up while outbidding the other, then saw each other the week after for a business consultation. There’s the occasional gala, charity ball, and the sparring sessions that leave them bruised and panting, but those are things she doesn’t really think she could do with Kara, so maybe not the best frame of reference to find out what to do at this point.

She and Ronnie did brunch though, so maybe she could invite the blonde for one. She makes a mental note of it. Perhaps not too soon though, because they technically just had dinner the night before, and oh, oh, did they do a friend-thing before Kara even asked to be friends?

The closest she had to a friend that isn’t Veronica Sinclair is Jess, if she is to base it on what friendship is— they had common interests (for the good of the company), history (she has been Lena’s assistant for two or so years), equality (because she isn’t arrogant, she likes to believe, and she views each of her employees as an equal), commitment to happiness (Jess makes sure everything Lena needs done is done, and well, Lena compensates her very, very generously), and good influence (Jess makes her remember to eat and Lena sends her home early, if at all possible).

And no, she definitely did not Google that (she did).

What did she do with Jess? Late night coffee, the occasional donuts to her secretary’s desk, short casual conversations about how the Huangs are, and… The semi-annual raise.

Kara’s not her employee per se, but perhaps she could increase her tip? She makes another mental note, one that’s interrupted with another knock from Jess when she says it’s time. Lena files her thoughts about the cuddler and gathers her laptop. She could deal with her current problem after her meetings.

Around twenty hours into this friendship with Kara Danvers, when Lena’s meetings had all been dealt with, the CEO ponders upon her problem again. She has come to the conclusion that she might not have the best frames of references to set examples from, so she’s left entirely clueless on what the actual fuck the next steps are to friendship.

She mulls over her mental notes as she goes over contracts she had to sign. Kara Danvers, however, proves herself a true example of friendship identifier number one and perhaps, number four, when she saves Lena from her problem twenty-two hours into their friendship with a text message that reads I saw your press release on my editor’s desk and gosh, have I mentioned how awesome it is that I know Lena freaking Luthor? It’s punctuated with three of what Lena thinks is a shocked emoji. She spends the next twenty minutes, contracts forgotten, wondering what to reply to it that isn’t something too formal like Thank you, that’s high praise I don’t deserve and something that’s too...friendly like… Like…

Well, she’s not entirely sure what too friendly is, so she sends that anyway.

Kara replies mere seconds after she sends her message, before Lena could even put her phone down.

You do!, it reads. Lena watches the bubbles indicating Kara is typing something, and the message comes in shortly.

I may or may not have read said press release (even if it’s not my beat) and I’m 110% sure you deserve that praise and more.

Lena finds herself smiling and thinks that Kara is a fantastic model of friendship identifier number four—commitment to happiness—if only for that single comment. She replies with another Thank you, you’re too kind, and she receives a smiley face in reply.

It becomes easier for Lena afterwards. More hours into this friendship of theirs, she realizes that having a friend that isn’t a tattoo-bearing outlaw or a pencil-skirted woman organizing her life has been nice. Lovely. It becomes complicated though when, during lunch at the end of the week, Kara texts her to ask what she’s having for lunch and when she’ll book a session.

No pressure though! comes in after that text, and then I’m just excited for you to meet Krypto. Lena wonders if it’s too soon to ask Kara for brunch that Saturday, but then she remembers she already has that with Veronica. She goes to the website anyway to check when Kara is available. Monday night again, she notes, so she goes and books a 7PM session.

She stares at it and breathes a laugh, and before she realizes what she is doing she’s sending Kara a text.

It’s kind of weird that I’m booking a session with a friend.

A reply comes in shortly and Lena wonders if Kara is eating lunch too, and where she does so. Probably not in her office like Lena does.

A “session” sounds so shady reads the blonde’s reply, and the CEO blushes hotly when she realizes what she means and she scrambles to type an apology but another message comes through.

But I get what you mean. Sorry?

Lena stares at the message for some time, blinks, then laughs.

For being my friend? Please don’t be , she sends, with a smiley that she picks up from Kara. She types I haven’t had many friends before but deletes it because it sounds sad, but Kara’s probably aware by now how sad her life is, despite the fact that they’ve known each other for how many hours.

She books the session anyway, and when she receives the confirmation, she sends Kara a reminder to bring Krypto because I’m dying to meet him at the same time that she receives a message from Kara that I’m dying for you to meet Krypto, and Lena thinks that Kara is a first of her kind in her life, and she’s... giddy about it.


That Monday, as she goes through the second of her daily critical tasks, she receives a text. Nothing unusual; she usually ignores her phone until she’s done with all her emails, but she glances over the device and sees Kara’s name on her lock screen notifications, under it Do you have dinner plans?

There’s an odd flutter in her chest that Lena ignores. She forces herself to finish her task at hand because this friendship is supposed to be a good thing, not a distraction to her carefully-balanced work life, and replies half an hour later.

Planning on getting salad before you arrive.

She lowers her phone and is about to stand to hand Jess a list of items that need prioritizing today—her third critical task—but her phone buzzes again with another text.

Let me guess, kale is the reply from Kara with the emoji that looks like it’s vomiting, Lena isn’t sure, but she laughs at her phone and rolls her eyes anyway.

She sends Do you want a prize? before realizing it may come off as a little sarcastic, but she sees Kara already typing a reply.

Yes :) How about I bring you dinner from Auntie Cho’s? It’s the least I can do after last time and also you REALLY need to try their potstickers.

Another one comes in later. Lena realizes Kara rambles on text the same way she does in person, and she thinks it’s a little endearing.

Also. Are dogs allowed in your apartment? I totally forgot about that important part but I guess you wouldn’t tell me to bring Krypto if they’re not but I don’t want to assume.

Lena bites back a smile and relents, replying with a Fine, and yes, dogs are allowed, and keeps it at that because she doesn’t want to tell Kara that she owns the building anyway. She’s responded with five different emojis: The thumbs-up, three variations of the smiling emoji, and the two hands with the triangles at the top which, frankly, she doesn’t know the meaning of.

She’s still grinning even as she gives her task list to Jess. Her secretary asks if she’s okay and she thinks that yes, yes she is. So much better than okay, actually.

Her day finishes at six on the dot, for once, and she tells Jess she could go home as well. She’s driven to her apartment where she changes into clothes she had brought: a comfy blue-green sleep shirt and gray sweatpants—clothes that don’t reveal too much like her last disaster with the nightgown but cozy nonetheless.

Two minutes before their schedule, the guard rings her and Lena tells them to let Kara in. She makes sure the bed is fixed straight—the cleaning lady had replaced the sheets with the exact same make and kind—then heads out to answer the door for Kara. She knows it only takes two minutes to get to her apartment, but it’s seven minutes after that there’s a knock on her door.

She opens it and laughs at the sight that greets her: A disheveled Kara, a little flushed, carrying in her arms a puppy who barks when he meets Lena’s gaze.

“Did… You use the stairs?” Lena asks as she steps aside and lets Kara in. The blonde sighs, exaggeratedly, and the puppy barks again. Lena looks at him properly. He’s a tiny Jack Russel that fits perfectly in Kara’s arms, all white except for the trademark brown spots over both ears and eyes, his wagging tail practically vibrating as he bounces in Kara’s arms. The blonde squeaks and holds him still.

“Oh no, I was texting in the elevator so my hold on his leash kinda loosened and when the elevator doors opened he bolted right the fuck out- shit, sorry I mean- gosh! Gosh, I meant gosh.” Kara pauses and breaths, finally, and Lena just smiles in amusement. “He bolted right out, and well, hi! This is Krypto.”

Kara lifts the ball of energy and Lena grins down at him.

“Hello,” she greets, a little awkwardly. She hasn’t really met any pets before, aside from the K9 units around L-Corp, and she considers those employees, not pets.

“You can pet him, he’s not going to bite,” Kara assures. The CEO chuckles softly and reaches out her right hand to pat Krypto’s head. The puppy barks again, then starts licking Lena’s hand.

“Aw, he likes you,” Kara coos, her voice high and adorable as she baby talks. The blonde takes the puppy’s foot and shakes it lightly. “Hey buddy. This is Lena. She’s a CEO and she’s pretty famous, how cool is that?” The cuddler laughs when Krypto barks and turns to Lena with a grin. “He likes you,” she repeats. Lena smiles.

“I like him too,” she replies. “You can put him down, there’s nothing that breaks around here,” Lena explains. “Want anything to drink?”

“Oh, cool,” the blonde says as she looks around before removing the puppy’s leash and putting him down. Krypto bolts as soon as he’s free, running to Lena’s legs and jumping up as he barks up at her. Lena haunches and pets him again which seems to drive him to a frenzy because he lays on his back and barks again. The CEO is confused what to do as she pauses on scratching behind his ear.

“Belly rub,” Kara says, and Lena looks up to see the blonde grinning. “He wants a belly—oh fuck! I mean, ugh, our dinner! I left it outside the elevator.” Kara huffs and excuses herself, muttering under her breath as she walks back out the open door. Lena chuckles and watches her go, then looks at Krypto again. The tiny furball of excitement is wiggling on his back so Lena tries what Kara had suggested and scratches his belly.

“You’re spoiling him,” Kara says when she returns. Lena giggles and looks up from Krypto to see that the blonde is bringing a very large paper bag.

“That’s… Our dinner,” she says, though it comes out more of a question. Kara nods, opens the paper bag, and starts taking out food containers, placing them one by one on the dinner table like she’s done it so many times before. Lena tells Krypto that she’ll be back with more bewwy wubs and stands to see what feast the cuddler has brought. The puppy jumps and follows anyway, and Lena grins when he curls up around her left foot.

“Are we having people over?” Lena asks casually. Kara sputters adjusts her glasses.

“Wh-what? No! Silly. This is just- just, you know, um, ours.” She laughs a little awkwardly, only to sigh when she looks at the table. Lena smirks.

“So you brought…” She leans her left hand on the edge of the table and points with her right index finger to the various food containers. “What looks like more than a dozen of potstickers, fried rice, what I’m guessing is chicken lo mein, more chicken… Beef? Is that beef?”

“Yes. Beef stir-fry,” the blonde confirms with a firm nod.

“Beef stir-fry,” Lena echoes. “And steamed buns. Just for the two of us.” Amusement plays on her lips as she speaks and she lifts an eyebrow at Kara, whose frown deepens at her every word.

“Well, yes,” Kara answers quickly, like it’s the obvious answer. Lena can’t help but snort. “How else will you taste all the good stuff from Auntie Cho’s?”

Lena full on laughs this time. Kara grins at her, but it falters when the CEO shakes her head.

“You understand that we can’t eat all this,” she says, slowly, and Kara just crosses her arms like she knows she’s right.

“We can. Trust me. You’re just saying that because you’re used to your kale salads.” The blonde scrunches her nose. “Your stomach will adjust.”

Lena stares at Kara, who takes the wooden chopsticks from the paper bag before folding it. She offers a pair to Lena. The CEO wonders if all friends are like this—Veronica couldn’t care less about what she ate, Jess always insists she eats on time, but she doesn’t really have anyone to compare Kara with and she remembers that the blonde is a first of her kind in her life.

“I hope you know you’re ruining my diet,” the raven-haired woman jokes, then takes the offered the utensils. “How do you keep this…” she gestures vaguely to Kara’s body—the cuddler is wearing a tight-fitting, navy Power to the Girls long sleeves and her usual comfy jeans—and blushes when she realizes she’s staring. “Body?”

Kara didn’t seem to notice Lena’s ogling as she breaks her chopsticks.  “I practice combat sports and run occasionally,” she says through a shrug. Lena grins.

The thing she likes best about this friendship thing is how many new things about Kara that she gets to learn every time. For today, she finds out that maybe she can spar with Kara after all.

“Really? Interesting. I do Muay Thai.” Lena scrunches her nose when Kara lifts a piece of potsticker stained with soy sauce to her mouth.

“Open up, come on,” Kara huffs. Lena quirks an eyebrow. “ Please. The sooner we can settle with an answer, the better.” Lena bites back a smile but opens her mouth anyway, letting the blonde push the dumpling in her mouth. Kara bounces slightly as she picks up another potsticker and Lena was worried that she’d shove it in her mouth again, except this time she pops it in her own mouth.

She isn’t really sure what taste she’s looking for, but she had to admit that Kara is right, it does taste good. She isn't one to really critique on food when comparing the same kind, but she hums to show her appreciation.

“So? What do you think?” Kara asks seriously as she chews, much to Lena’s disapproval. It must be visible on her face because Kara mutters an apology then swallows, and the CEO is only mildly pleased that one of her looks work on the blonde. “Lee’s or this?”

Lena swallows. She answers with a shrug and Kara immediately opens her mouth, probably with some defense on how these potstickers are better, but Lena manages to say yes, Auntie Cho’s are better. She decides it’s not exactly a lie when Kara hisses a yes under her breath and pumps her fist above the table. Lena thinks it’s adorable.

“Wait a sec,” Kara continues, and narrows her eyes. “You’re not just saying that, are you?” Lena just chuckles as she picks up a dumpling and dips it on the sauce. She doesn’t answer. The blonde huffs and Lena laughs again as she continues to eat and Kara, not wanting to get behind with the food it seems, begins eating too. It reiterates Lena’s recurring thought that friendship with Kara Danvers is indeed a lovely thing.

The taller woman pushes to her the various food containers and tells her about them. The other chicken dish, Kara explains, is General Tso’s chicken, and Auntie Cho’s secret recipe sauce is to die for. Lena manages a taste of each of the dishes, and each time, Kara would look at her with bright blue eyes full of curious expectation, so the dark-haired woman would tell her what she thought of each. They have small chatter through their meal about how their week has gone, but most of it is just Kara talking, not that Lena minded.

She learns a few new more things about Kara then: that she doesn’t have the nicest boss but that she gets so much from him anyway, that her sister works for the FBI and that’s pretty much the reason why she was signed up for self-defense classes, and when she says she practices combat sports she essentially means mixed martial arts—and Lena realizes that her soft, fluffy cuddler-slash-friend could also be a killing machine, and she doesn’t know how to deal with that fact.

She isn’t really surprised then when Kara ends up finishing the remaining food left in the containers. The blonde insists on cleaning up and Lena lets her while she puts some water on the puppy bowl Kara had brought. Krypto is well-behaved despite his tendency to be over-excited and Lena showers him a lot of ear scratches and belly rubs.

They head to the bedroom later, both extremely full, and the ball of fur follows them with an eager bark. There’s little hesitancy from Lena’s part when Kara opens her arms for her, and the CEO slides under the sheets and melts into the blonde’s arms like they’ve done this before so many times. Kara hums as she wraps her arms around Lena yet again, but as the dark-haired woman sinks into her warmth, there’s a sharp yelp followed by a soft woof.

Lena is not going to admit about forgetting Krypto, but she does jump a bit at the sound.

“Oh no,” Kara murmurs, but she doesn’t make a move to pull away from Lena. It’s the latter who puts distance between them to glance at the source of the sound, where the puppy is jumping to get on the bed. “He wants to get on the bed. It’s... Probably because I always put him up with me back at home.”

Lena looks at Kara at that and smiles. “Can you really say no to him?” She asks, but before the blonde could answer the CEO is scooting to the edge of the bed and taking Krypto up. The puppy woofs with excitement as he’s placed on the bed. Lena giggles as she watches him bounce around, running around the edge of the bed while he barks before settling on the bed against Kara’s belly. The blonde chuckles and scratches behind his ear.

“You’re spoiling him, Lena,” she says, even as she continues to pet Krypto. The CEO rolls her eyes playfully and watches the two. There’s warmth that crawls its way to her chest, familiar but unknown all at the same time.

“Says the one petting him,” she shoots back, but Kara just shrugs.

“I’m allowed to,” she replies. Lena is aware that Krypto is stepping on her supposed time with the cuddler, but she just stares— observes. There’s a distant nagging feeling in the back of her mind that almost seems like jealousy, but Kara and Krypto just look so adorable and Lena wants to take a picture just to save it for a rainy day. When the blonde looks up at her, heat spreads from her cheeks at being caught staring— observing —but Kara just pats the space on the bed and pulls Krypto flush to her belly.

“Bring it, come here,” Kara urges. Lena glances at Krypto, who is still wagging his tail so much the CEO worries about him breaking it for a moment, and the puppy looks back at her for a moment then barks. She’s trying to figure out how to join the two without crushing the tiny ball of fur, but Kara offers an answer by extending her right arm and patting her bicep. “You’re not going to squish him,” she assures with a little grin, and Lena rolls her eyes before lying on the bed and resting her head against the pillow, her neck cushioned by Kara’s arm. The raven-haired woman makes a small noise when the cuddler pulls her closer with her other hand. Lena finds herself tucked under Kara, the woman’s cheek against the top of her head, her other arm draped protectively over Lena—and Krypto is there, curled up in the space between them. Kara shifts for a moment and kicks the sheets over Lena’s legs and her own, then she feels bare feet brush against hers. The shorter woman sighs contently, only to sigh again when she feels fingers gently brushing through her dark hair. Lena hums in the warmth and comfort she’s embraced in. This almost feels like a grand luxury, some sort of indulgence in a way or another.

Looking down at Krypto, she sees that the puppy is asleep, and Lena chuckles as she closes her own eyes. Wordlessly, she puts her arm over Kara’s waist too, and she feels the warmth of both her cuddler and Krypto. When Kara hums in approval, Lena feels it against her cheek and she realizes, belatedly, that she could hear Kara’s heartbeat too, albeit faintly, as she’s pressed against the cuddler’s chest.

“So,” Kara whispers after a while, like she isn’t sure that Lena’s awake. The CEO thinks she knows what she wants but she doesn’t answer. “Question time.”

Lena chortles, not really able to stop the reaction. “Really?”

“I’m so full, Lena,” Kara whines, and Lena just makes a noncommittal sound.

“Not my fault you wanted to eat the last remaining steamed bun. I told you it was a bad idea.” There’s a sleepy drawl in Lena’s voice that she attributes to the coziness she’s cradled in, and to the fact that she, too, is full.

“I don’t waste food,” Kara mumbles. The fingers in Lena’s hair pause for a moment and the shorter woman almost jumps when she feels a hand on wrist. She opens her eyes in panic and finds that Kara is only pulling Lena’s arm tighter around her waist. When she looks up, Kara is looking at her with a shy grin.

“Is that okay? It’s just, um, Krypto likes cuddles too and—” She shrugs helplessly, and Lena glances down to see that the movement was done so her elbow is tucked underneath Krypto’s tiny legs. Lena breathes out a laugh, only realizing then that she has been holding it back, and nods slightly.

“Cool,” Kara murmurs. There’s silence for a while and Lena closes her eyes again. It’s moments like this that she thinks about during the small gaps of respite in her work week. She wonders if science could explain this unexpected—though welcome—effect of this...closeness.

“Do you have an idea how you would die?” Kara cuts through the silence and her thoughts. Lena is curious, too, if this closeness is also the reason her heart skips at the sound of Kara’s voice. The blonde’s words, though gladly received, are met with a skeptical snort.

“That’s morbid,” Lena replies, her voice a sleepy rasp. She clears her throat. “Where do you get all these questions?”

“I’m a journalist,” the blonde reminds, and the CEO chuckles softly. She shifts in Kara’s arms and when she stills, the woman continues the gentle scratching on her scalp. Lena is torn between wanting to make her stop—because it’s not helping with her sleepiness—and wanting her to just go on, please, because Lena feels so warm she thinks this is so much better than the beach and the sun. “And death is a requirement to humanity. What makes us human, you know,” Kara continues.

There’s a small effort in Lena’s part to reply, if only because she feels sluggish, lazy, and she almost smacks herself in the face because she’s a woman of science and hard work and lazy is the last description she’d attribute to herself.

Maybe she’d let it slip this time. Kara’s fingers don’t help with the situation and she’s feeling much of a spoiled queen to fight it. “Your interest in humanity makes me think you’re an alien,” she mumbles, and she blames her sleepiness when she shamelessly nuzzles further into Kara’s chest. She doesn’t regret it, not when she feels the cuddler’s body vibrate with laughter.

“Did Lena Luthor just make a joke?” Kara whispers, and Lena feels the softness of the woman’s shirt when she smiles against it.

“No, I made an accusation,” Lena shoots back easily, and at this point, she doesn’t even care what she’s doing. It feels like being drunk, this... feeling, and she blames Kara’s perfume too, the cadence of her heartbeat. Lena should probably be bothered that she doesn’t know what this feeling is yet but at the same time she can’t bring herself to care, not when Kara laughs again and Krypto yelps softly under her forearm.

“He’s dreaming,” Kara murmurs when Lena shifts, and instead of letting her check on Krypto, the cuddler just pulls her closer. There’s a pause. Lena feels careful fingers against her scalp again and she hums. “You know,” Kara continues, her voice seemingly softer now, “you’re not as stuck up as they make you seem in the papers.”

It’s Lena’s turn to laugh, the sound just as soft as Kara’s words. “I’m actually very snobby. It’s part of being a Luthor.”

There’s another pause. Lena wonders if these lulls in their conversation are moments when Kara puts her lack of filter on the backseat so she could mull over her thoughts, or if she’s taking offense at what Lena had said yet again. “Luthor or otherwise, I think you’re wonderful,” Kara whispers, and Lena hopes she isn’t looking because she’s sure her pale cheeks are dusted pink at those words, like she’s some middle school girl with a crush. Her blush deepens at the thought of that. “Krypto agrees,” Kara adds, and Lena breathes another laugh.

“Well,” she answers quickly. “The snobby thing is in my closet. I wear it to work.” Kara laughs again.

“Or,” Kara drags the sound with a roll of her tongue. Lena bites her lip. “The media is doing an atrocious job at framing you.” The businesswoman lets out a small sound of protest but Kara shushes her. “You know how they say journalism is supposed to lack bias, but there’s always actually bias and, yeah, maybe someone just needs to give you justice.”

Lena knows it’s because people are still caught up with what her brother has done, after all these years, and that she’s made her own enemies of her own as well. The media is a powerful weapon against people like her—people whose reputations rely not on the merits of what they do but on what the public thinks—and she will never admit letting it get to her at times, but one can only read so many things about herself before their words end up cracking into the walls she has built through time. “You give me too much credit,” she answers with a sigh. Kara’s response is to hold her more tightly.

“No, you give me too much tip,” she says. Lena feels Kara’s chest raise as she yawns and she squeezes the blonde’s hip. “I should have the devs put a cap on that or something. I swear. Or—wait, oh my god, are you even aware of what you put in that form? Are we stealing from you?”

Lena almost feels the panic bubble up Kara’s chest as she continues thinking out loud, her voice even raising to a squeak at her question, so she tells her yes, she is aware of how much she’s giving her. She thinks that no, she doesn’t really give Kara too much tip—money is not an issue and she doesn’t use the “I’m rich” card often, if at all, but for all the wonderful things Kara had said to her, for all the wonderful things that had happened in her life ever since Kara had held her in her arms the first time, she thinks Kara deserves all the tips. And so much more. She silences Kara’s argument with a light jab on her hip that has the cuddler giggling.

Maybe luck is a thing, then. Lena wonders what she did to deserve such fortune. Maybe it’s an upfront instance and she has to pay for it in the future?

Lena remembers that Kara is her friend now, too, and her mind races with all the possible things she could pay this friendship back in ways that aren’t tips. She could definitely be up for furthering friendship identifier number four, committing to Kara’s happiness—potstickers and puppy treats are easy to have access too, after all—and she thinks she could be a good influence to her too. Maybe she could change Kara’s mind about salads?

“Fine,” Kara relents, and she hums for some time. “So what? How do you die?”

The CEO almost wants to laugh at the question. Kara must be fantastic at her day job because her persistence is something to be admired, and her sources must hate her because she is damn good at asking. Lena doesn’t even need to think about the question. The answer is on the top of her head: Her brother sending another assassin to kill her, because she didn’t follow in his footsteps and even went so far as to denounce his actions. She shrugs.

“Hopefully someway nice,” she answers. “Like a lab explosion while I’m looking for a way to end war. But you know.” She sighs, the breath heavy like the thought in her mind. She has trusted Kara so far, with every little thing she shared about herself—not that most of them are useful things, and really, Lena is still protected by that confidentiality clause—and lying to her friend doesn’t sit well with her. She tricks her competitors, masks her intentions towards investors, but this relationship with Kara is unfamiliar and all too precious for Lena that she can’t find it in herself to hold back the truth.

Kara seems to feel her distress as she stills her hand on Lena’s head and just cradles her against her chest, and maybe Krypto feels it too, because the puppy wiggles and snuggles further against Lena’s chest. She smiles despite herself. “My brother's probably going to finish the job, one of these days,” she finally admits.

The blonde makes a noise of realization. There’s still the crippling fear in the pit of Lena’s gut, of her beloved brother coming back for her, but the darkness is chased away, somewhat, as Kara tightens the embrace around her. Kara is a sun, Lena thinks, and oh, she’s the moon, only lighting up because of her sun’s rays.

“I’m sorry,” Kara whispers, her voice cracking with something akin to regret, and Lena smiles, presses her hand on Kara’s waist to assure her that it’s fine.

“It's fine,” she voices out. There’s still fear in her. It’s something she can’t shake, not when she loves him dearly and he was supposed to protect her and now he’s out to end her, but she has learned to stand up for herself, for what is right, and it would be what she’d stand for until her dying breath. “He's… he's crazy. But he's my brother. Despite everything, I love him. I don't know. It's weird.”

She only makes herself remember the good times, much of it when they were both so much younger, but it doesn’t matter now.

Kara doesn’t say anything, just holds her, and Lena thinks that for once, the silence means so much more.

It must be the weight of the conversation, or the fullness they had from dinner, or from the sheer warmth she feels in Kara’s arms, or from the way she could hear Kara’s steady heartbeats, but Lena succumbs to the sleepiness she feels. It’s a dreamless slumber and she thinks it’s when she wakes that she conjures the image of the beach, the sand on her feet and the sun on her pale skin. She is pulled into wakefulness by fingers in her hair, gentle nails scratching her scalp just so that she feels shudders shake her into consciousness. As she blinks away the sleep in her eyes, she realizes that Krypto isn’t snoring away against her belly anymore. She jolts slightly.

“Hey sleepyhead,” Lena hears. The voice is soft, calming, and she is reminded yet again of the way the waves wash into the shore. She looks up and sees Kara smiling down at her.

“Hi. Sorry,” she murmurs, and Kara easily tells her it’s fine. “What time is it?”

Kara reaches behind her and feels for her phone, and when she raises it, Lena sees that it’s effectively been three hours from their scheduled session.

“Shit, sorry,” she apologizes again, and Kara just chuckles.

“Don’t swear, there’s a baby around,” she laughs and gestures blindly somewhere on the foot of the bed. “It’s okay,” she assures again.

Neither of them make a move to pull away but when Lena spots Krypto at the foot of the bed, she finally extracts herself from Kara’s arms.

“It’s so late for you, and I’m so sorry I fell asleep for too long,” Lena murmurs. She sits up and runs her hand through her hair—it’s so much different when Kara does it and her skin still buzzes with how it felt—then turns to Kara again. “I can have my driver drive you home.”

Kara sits up too and shakes her head. “Lena, I swear it’s fine. It’s my fault I forgot to set an alarm, and well, I kind of fell asleep too.” There’s a sheepish grin on her face that the CEO can only mirror. Her honey hair is messy and Lena is hit with the urge to run her fingerrs through it. “And it’s alright, we can still catch the bus.”

The businesswoman shakes her head vehemently. When she scoots to Krypto, the puppy wakes up and greets her with a yelp and a lick of her hands. “It’s not a problem, Kara. I insist. Please.” She pats Krypto’s head then turns to the blonde who, she finds, is smiling at them. “Let me do this as a friend, okay?”

She wonders what the certain rush in her chest is when Kara smiles at her. Her eyes, ever bright, are oceans, and Lena finds herself smiling back and wishing she could stay in this moment, if only to commit to memory how peaceful the sea always made her.

“Thanks, Lena,” Kara replies. Her voice is soft, the smile on her lips even softer, and as she stands from the bed she reaches out to squeeze the CEO’s shoulder. Lena thinks she imagines the way it lingers, but then Kara is scooping Krypto off the bed and lowering him to the floor that she can’t quite confirm it with absolute certainty. The puppy darts out of the bedroom and the two women share a laugh.

Lena texts her driver to wait at the driveway for Kara. The blonde empties the puppy bowl and puts it in a canvas bag, then gets Krypto’s leash to clip it around his body collar. When he woofs and looks up at Lena, his tail wagging so excitedly again, the CEO stoops down and pats his head. Later, when she’s back in her room, she’ll tell herself that it’s because of Krypto that she offered, but she’s standing up and telling Kara that she’ll walk them down to the car.

“Are you sure?” Kara asks, and Lena hopes it’s hope that’s in those blue eyes. The CEO grins and nods, not even minding that someone might end up seeing her in her sleepwear—God knows any hint of humanity does not bade well for a Luthor because enemies would take it as a weakness. She opens the door for Kara. The blonde chuckles softly and walks out, led by the ball of fur who heads off sniffing at every direction, only stopped by the extent of his leash.

“He’s very curious,” Lena notes, and Kara laughs.

“Yeah. You don’t know how many times I had to wrangle things from his mouth.” Lena grins at that and she thinks of possible toys she could get the puppy. Kara is her friend and maybe she could count Krypto as a friend too, now, since the little canine seems to like her back.

When they reach the lobby, Lena tries to ignore the shocked looks on the guard’s and the front desk employee’s faces, but Kara doesn’t. The blonde giggles and leans in.

“They don’t see you much outside your office wear, do they?” Kara whispers conspiratorially, and Lena masks her shudder with a small laugh.

“I don’t think you’ve seen me in my office wear,” Lena notes. “Well. Except that one time.” Kara hums in thought and nods.

“I suppose that’s true. Kind of weird isn’t it?” There’s something that sounds like astonishment in her voice, but when Lena glances at her, she’s grinning like she’s just told a great secret and the raven-haired woman wonders what she thinks.

Lena’s driver, Frank, waits by the sleek black car on the building driveway. She hears Kara mutter something that sounded vaguely like that’s so cool under her breath, and another wow when Frank opens the door for them. Kara pulls on Krypto’s leash—he’s sniffing the car tire—but the puppy yelps and runs to Lena’s feet upon being called. The CEO chuckles when he jumps up.

“Alright buddy, time to go home,” the blonde says before scooping the puppy into her arms. Lena grins and pats his head.

“It was nice to meet you, Krypto,” she says, and he seems to understand as he woofs proudly and licks Lena’s hand. The woman turns to Kara and her smile turns fonder. “Thank you, Kara. For the food and... The session.” A small blush dusts her cheeks at the shady implication of the word and really, she should find something else to call it with. Kara just smiles at her and there’s that rush in Lena’s chest again.

“Thanks again. Krypto and I will see you soon?” Kara says, and Lena hopes yet again that it’s hope in her voice.

“I’ll see you both soon,” Lena promises. Kara beams. The raven-haired woman mirrors the grin on Kara’s lips but she doesn’t think she can match the brightness in that smile—Kara’s the sun, after all, and Lena is her moon, destined to only reflect the light her sun shines. Not that Lena minds.

As she watches the car drive away, there’s the rush in her chest once more at the thought of seeing Kara yet again and Lena thinks that yes, this friendship thing is really quite lovely, and she can’t wait to see Kara again.

Chapter Text

Bright and early a few days later, as Lena is walking out of the elevator and making her way to her office, she receives a photo from Kara. It’s a blur of white and pink. She pauses midway and furrows her eyebrows at the phone in her hand before a text message from her friend comes in.

I told him to say ‘hi Lena’ and then this

She chuckles and continues her walk. Another message comes in.

He really likes you.

Lena smiles at her phone. She pauses by her office door and pushes it open with her hip, for a moment, before Jess scurries to help her with it.

“Sorry, Miss Luthor, I was—”

“It’s alright, Jess,” Lena cuts off with a quick smile at her secretary. She lets the shorter woman open the door for her as she looks back down on her phone to type a reply.

“I’ll have your coffee in a moment, Miss Luthor,” Jess says as she leads the CEO inside her office. Lena thanks her and notices her placing some folders on her desks. She sends Kara her reply and puts her handbag on her seat.

I envy his energy.

She grins at her use of the dog emoji and puts her phone down. Opening the folders on her desk, she frowns. Incident reports from the labs. She had made sure she is the first to receive such with her need to stay on top of things; better to overwork and make sure everything runs smoothly, after all, instead of underperform and suffer grave losses. Given the launch they are pursuing in a week’s time, she considers about delaying for at least another. She would rather not risk her employees for a deadline. She picks up the folder and goes through the reports.

“All these are verified, I assume?” She asks as she reads through the first page. Jess says yes. Lena’s frown deepens when she realizes it’s an accident due to miscalculations. “Tell Dr. Langley I’m dropping by this afternoon to check on things, please,” she tells her secretary, then blindly grabs a pen to write down the details of the report on her notepad. Lena reviews the next few pages, which include a medical report on the engineer wounded due to the accident. It was ironic, considering what they are working on are nanobots supposed expedite the healing process of human tissues. “And please make sure Spencer actually takes his sick day?” She sighs. “That boy works too much. I’m so close to ratting him off to his mother.”

Jess laughs and Lena shakes her head fondly as she signs the reports. She glances to her phone when it beeps with a message. A notification from Kara Danvers.

It’s all fine and dandy until he falls asleep on his food. It’s cute though.

Lena hands the folder to Jess, barely hearing her secretary speak as she picks up her phone.

“Thank you, Miss Luthor. Also, CatCo would like to schedule an interview tomorrow. I can set them up for your 10AM since we still don’t have confirmation with Mr. Fisk.”

The CEO makes a small sound of acknowledgement. “Sure, thank you, Jess,” she replies distractedly as she opens the message. She types a reply to Kara, telling her to send me a picture!, then turns to her secretary again. Her expression turns serious and she sees Jess stand straighter. The raven-haired woman opens her mouth to speak but closes it and shakes her head. She doesn’t quite know what made her want to ask, but she’s leaning forward on her desk, both hands on the edge of it, and stares at the notepad on her table before she looks up to meet secretary’s gaze.  “Do you have a pet, Jess?”

It is obvious that Jess doesn’t expect the question. It amuses Lena how her eyes widen, just for a fraction like she’s holding the reaction back, but she does notice how she clutches her notepad closer to her chest.

“A- A pet, Miss Luthor?” She squeaks out. Lena nods slowly.

“Yes. Like a dog.” She puffs her cheeks a little then chuckles. She knows this is not their usual topic of discussion so she shrugs. She is curious, is all. Kara’s curious line of questioning must be rubbing off on her. “Weird question, I know, I just—”

“I have two cats,” Jess replies, sounding a little unsure.

Lena lights up at her answer, but it seems to surprise the secretary more. It makes her think if she has been as distant as she always thought, despite wanting to think she’s a good employer. After all, she knows everyone’s names at L-Corp, from the chief engineer down to the janitor who works night shifts on weekends, and makes sure everyone is well-compensated—but she guesses she isn’t as approachable as she could be to her employees, and despite caring for their well-beings, she doesn’t know them. Conversations have mostly been small talk and perhaps this is beyond that. She feels trepidation at the prospect. She can handle business deals, even when she’s asleep, but personal talks like this are a whole another matter. Answering Kara’s questions have been easy enough, but leading the conversation isn’t her strong suit. Or any of her suits, for that matter.

The CEO sits and waves a hand. Thankfully, Jess takes this as a sign to continue and she breathes out a bashful laugh. “They’re brothers. Two black cats. Which is bad luck, so my mother says, but I—”

Jess stops talking, like she is mulling over her next words. Lena waits for her to continue with what she hopes is interest on her expression, knowing she can pull off the stop wasting my time with your garbage look without being conscious about it—some businessmen have crashed and burned during pitch presentations because of it.

The shorter woman shrugs and smiles like she's grateful. “I love them. Found them in an alley crying. It was the day you gave me my second raise in a month, actually.” Jess chuckles. The seated woman bites her lip in thought.

“Two years ago?” She asks, to which Jess nods. She remembers vaguely. That was a time when she felt her secretary needed acknowledgement of her contributions to the company as Lena's right hand—they were preparing for the move from Metropolis to National City. She had no other way of thanking her but giving her a raise. But two years ago, the closest thing she had to a friend adopted two cats and she hadn't known about it until now. That was a big thing, right? Wasn’t having pets similar to having children, considering you had to bathe and feed them? She wouldn’t really know. She never had a chance to have a pet; she wanted one, when she was younger, but Lillian wouldn't allow it no matter how much she begged. She had tried to smuggle a small bird that had found its way to the gardens way back when she was eight—or nine, she can’t remember—but one of the maids had told on her and Lillian made sure the bird was out of the house before Lena could even ask to keep it. She had cried all night that night. Lex comforted her, telling her the bird would be happier out there in the open. Lena remembers making him promise that the bird would be alright.

There’s a small weight on her chest is an odd mixture of something akin to regret and guilt about not knowing this bit of information about Jess. The woman had been her lifesaver for so long and though she didn’t extend the offer of friendship to Lena, the woman had satisfied all the requirements of being a “friend.” With how wonderful this friendship with Kara is going, perhaps it would do her good to have another?

Lena drums her fingers against her desk and finally hums.  “Will you send me a picture of them?”

The employee isn't expecting that yet again, it seems. The CEO almost laughs as Jess falters for a moment before nodding. “I'll email one to you, Miss Luthor.”

Lena shakes her head. Her phone vibrates on her desk and she glances to it. “Nonsense,” she says, then picks up her phone and waves it. “Send it to my phone, please.”

Jesa opens her mouth to speak but instead, she just nods.

“Fantastic,” Lena grins. “That would be all, Jess.”

Her secretary nods again and smiles. Lena feels her phone vibrate but before she checks it, she calls for Jess again as she remembers something. "Sorry. I have to ask," she says with a sheepish smile. Jess blinks quickly, like it's an expression she can't see her boss wearing. "Your cats. What are their names?"

The woman grins at that. "Toothless and Suppie," she tells Lena, before she's walking out the door. Lena lets out a small noise in response, not quite believing what she just heard.

"Toothless and Suppie," she echoes as she opens her laptop. She shakes her head and chuckles. Interesting names. She wonders if that's how people named their pets: Toothless and Suppie and Krypto.

Her phone vibrates again, pulling her out of her reverie. She sees Kara’s reply from earlier. Expect the photo tonight then, it reads, at the end the laughing emoji. The other text is from Jess. It’s a photo of her cats, she assumes; it’s a photo of what looks like fur. When she squints, she realizes it’s of two sleeping black cats. Lena laughs lightly.

They’re adorable, she replies to Jess. Then she forwards the photo to Kara.

I asked Jess if she had pets. Their names are Toothless and Suppie. She sends it then puts aside her phone so she could check the other files on her desk. She is pulling the pen she uses to sign paperwork from the holder when her phone vibrates.

It vibrates again, and again, and again.

????

ARE THOSE CATS???

IT’S A BLACK HOLE, LENA!!

They look so fluffy and adorable!

The texts are punctuated with several emojis, most of them cats and hearts. Lena smiles and sends one final text before going to work, because no matter how fluffy and adorable the cats and Kara are, she had a company to run.

Yes, those are cats. Shoudn’t you be at work?

She lets herself take one last glance at her phone. She smiles at Kara’s reply, then turns over her phone so she doesn’t get too distracted.

You’re not my employer unless I’m in your bedroom! :P

She gets slightly distracted, anyway. She went to the labs, as promised, and assisted Dr. Langley with the problems she and her team were having. Being inside the labs is the most enjoyable part of her work, and despite having to focus on the more management and business side of things, she’s pleased she can drop by every once in a while. She remembers being nineteen, working on this same thing with Jack Spheer, her most cherished one—or at least, he used to be—but now her company is so much closer to achieving a breakthrough of a lifetime.

She’s going through sample readings when her phone vibrates in her pocket. She finishes a slide before taking it out and sees it’s from Kara. It’s a photo of Krypto, sleeping on his bowl of food as Kara had promised. Lena grins at it and sends a quick reply of cute, can I adopt him? Only then does she notice the time. It is already well past six. She places her phone back in her pocket and stretches, then turns to the two women she had been working with in the past couple of hours.

“Time to go home, ladies,” she says as she stands. Before they could protest, Lena is shaking her head. “Dr. Langley, I don’t want a phone call from the missus, please,” she teases. “And Sarah, don’t you have a date or something?”

The CEO waits for the two women to pack up as she collects some files she wanted to read when she gets back to her office. She bids her employees good night and heads back up to tell Jess to go home, too, this time mentioning that should she have more adorable photos of her cats, she should definitely send them to Lena.

Despite sending her employees home, Lena still decides to stay back in her office. She reads through more of the results for the human trials that she needed to go through should they want to achieve the launch for the next week.

Her phone buzzes beside her but she finishes two more pages of what she's reading before she checks it. It's another photo of Krypto, this time wide awake with what looks like a shirt in his mouth. He's a little rascal, sure you want him? Kara says, and Lena grins before replying that yes, I do, but I'm pretty sure you want him more.

She heads home when Kara insisted. She reads on her bed though, and she wakes up the next day with her files under her pillow and her phone in her hand, its battery at 2%, with a video clip of Krypto woofing on loop on her phone along with several messages from Kara.

I have a video, wanna see?

I'm sending it anyway because he's cute, look at him

Lena?

Did you die of cuteness?

Don’t kidnap him, okay, you know I'll let you adopt him

I'm going to guess you're asleep. Good night, hard worker :)

Or good morning, I guess, when you read this

She rolls to lay on her belly and yawns into her pillow. Blindly reaching for the charger, she plugs in her phone and sees that she has six minutes before her alarm for six in the morning goes off. She yawns again then types a reply to Kara.

Sorry about that. Morning :)

She sends it and yawns again. At this point, she should really be used to being a morning person, but god, mornings are hard, and it's why she would rather really just offset her work and stay up all night. She finally rolls off the bed and stretches.

She wonders, sometimes, how her life had come to this. It has only been three weeks, give or take, since she took Ronnie’s advise yet somehow her entire lifestyle has changed: she doesn’t stay up until the wee hours of the morning anymore nor does she need to take so long to fall asleep, mostly because Kara insists that she gets at least eight hours of rest—not that she had achieved that yet—or else she “would keep bothering” her. Kara’s words. Not that she minded her, anyway.  

Maybe it isn’t the cuddle sessions. Maybe it’s the friendship. Perhaps Kara herself, she thinks. She is yet to contemplate on things because she is busy with preparing for the launch and running her company in between.

She downs a glass of water before she heads to her mini-gym. She blasts some French pop songs while she runs on the treadmill, the start of her usual morning routine, before she goes to prepare for her day. Two hours and a cup of black coffee later she’s on her way out of the L-Corp building elevator, dressed in her usual battle suit: a blouse tucked in a high-waisted black pencil skirt, pumps that could kill, lips blood red with her chosen shade for the day. Jess greets her with paperwork and a smile as she bids her good morning. Lena heads to her table and accepts the folder she is handed when she settles.

“Spencer isn’t coming to work today, is he?” The CEO asks as she signs the contracts. Jess chuckles and says that no, he isn’t, and that he would be back when his injuries have healed. Lena nods. “Good. I’ll call him later after lunch, too.”

The secretary nods dutifully and accepts the files once they were done with. Lena says she can go and when she leaves, the raven-haired woman begins the second of her daily critical tasks. There are the usual emails about approvals that she reads through and gives signals for, the occasional proposals and requests for schedules to meet with start-ups—those were her favorites—and the one or two death threats that are mostly just amusing, though she does let her head of security and IT know just to make sure.

She gets engrossed in one of the proposals about a transmatter portal that she almost jumps when Jess knocks. The secretary giggles and Lena playfully rolls her eyes.

“Sorry, Miss Luthor,” Jess says, “but your 10AM is here if you're ready.”

Lena furrows her eyebrows. She’d forgotten about that. She sighs and minimizes the document she is reading through. “Alright. Send them in please.” Jess nods and Lena hears her talk from the other side of the door. She walks to her refreshment table and pours herself a glass of water.

“Hi Lena!”

She whirls around at the familiar bubbly voice and almost drops her glass when she finds Kara Danvers, Professional Cuddler, in her office. The grin on her face is contagious and Lena finds herself beaming back, though her eyebrows crease in confusion.

“Kara,” she breathes out with a small laugh. “This is a nice surprise.” Lena brings her glass of water to her desk and reaches out her hand for the blonde to shake—formalities and professionalism should take the forefront of this meeting, after all, considering they were in an office setting. Kara adjusts her glasses with her right hand before taking Lena's.

“Hi,” she says with a small laugh. The handshake lingers for a brief moment and Lena chuckles when Kara pulls back as if she realized it too. “Um, what do you mean surprise? I did… schedule. Didn't I?”

Lena chuckles again. “You did, but I didn't expect you , is all.” She gestures for Kara to sit down. The blonde doesn't take the offer though, only continues to speak.

“Ah, right. Ta-dah,” the blonde makes jazz hands. “My day job—junior reporter at CatCo. Can I just say that it’s really nice to see you outside the bedroom?” She laughs, then halts completely and she frowns. “Okay, that- that sounds wrong. I just mean it’s good to—” She flails her hands and laughs again, the sound strained this time. “It’s good to see you, is all." Lena is unable to hold back an amused smirk as she replies.

“How scandalous, Miss Danvers.” The CEO tilts her head and she thinks Kara is blushing. She gives Kara a small once over and realizes that perhaps Kara is right, it’s nice to see each other outside of the bedroom setting. Instead of the comfy sweater, cotton jeans, and penguin-printed socks she is used to seeing Kara wear, the woman is wearing a light pink button-up shirt tucked neatly under maroon slacks, a belt around her waist. Gone are her cutesy socks, replaced by dark brown oxfords. She has a matching satchel over her left shoulder, and her hair isn’t in a loose ponytail but rather in a sleek bun that could rival Lena’s own. Overall a clean, professional look on her cozy cuddler or, if Lena dared say, a sight for sore eyes. “But I get what you mean,” she finally continues when she meets Kara’s gaze.

The blonde seems to be comforted by that. She nods and her usual warm smile is back. Lena’s heart stutters when she realizes she’s thinking of the beach and the sun despite the lack of any prompts—like the painting on her bedroom wall or the sheets the color of the sea—but she gives Kara a small smile. The woman gives her watch a glance.

“So if I have you for…an hour for the interview,” Kara starts. When she meets Lena’s gaze, the raven-haired woman thinks she looks nervous. “Um, can we do it over brunch perhaps? The formal setting is a little....stifling, I think, and I want you to be comfortable.” Kara punctuates her question with a shrug. Lena’s smile grows.

“Are you just looking for an excuse to eat?” She teases. Kara laughs and looks down, shaking her head. She fidgets with her glasses.

“Don’t call me out like that,” the blonde says. There’s an amused smile on her face that Lena mirrors. “I’m not used to this part of the city so a little tour of the nice restaurants would give you plus points on your profile.”

Lena quirks up an eyebrow at that but she stands anyway after taking her purse from her handbag. “My profile,” she asks as she gestures for the door. She tells Jess that she’d be out for the interview and that she can text her if there are concerns. She and Kara head to the elevators. She watches Kara press the button for the ground floor and keeps her gaze on the woman as she continues. “I was going to ask. Why are you interviewing me so early? The launch isn’t until next week and we’ve sent out press releases.” She remembers Kara telling her that she sneaked a peek from her editor’s desk. “I’m under the impression you’ve read that.”

Kara is staring ahead as she nods. “Yeah,” she says slowly. She shrugs again as she adjusts her satchel to her other shoulder. “That’s not really my beat though, that’s more of Ryan’s and the science guys, but I, uh…” Kara clears her throat. The elevator doors open and they’re greeted with a small group waiting for the lift. They greet Lena with good mornings and smiles, and the CEO smiles back at them as they walk out. The sun is well up in the sky and Lena leads Kara to the direction of the nearby Italian restaurant she frequently has her salads bought from.

“But…?” Lena urges as they walk when the blonde doesn’t seem to continue. Kara makes a small sound at it before shrugging again.

“But I, um, a-asked my editor if we could try a profile on you,” she finally replies. Lena almost misses it because of a passing car. She throws Kara a questioning glance.

“A profile on me,” she drawls. Kara nods. It’s odd, considering Lena thinks their launch would be the talks of the industry for years to come. “Why?”

Kara puffs her cheeks then smiles at Lena. “I’m supposed to be interviewing you, not the other way around,” she jokes. “Where are you taking me anyway?”

The CEO chuckles and gestures to the restaurant around the corner. It’s a quaint, unimposing restaurant that is predominantly oak brown in color. Bella Italia, the small, white wooden letters above it read. She notices Kara crinkle her eyebrows behind her glasses and Lena grins at her.

“They have non-salad food items,” she assures. Kara snorts sarcastically.

“I wasn’t going to say anything.”

Lena shakes her head in amusement. The blonde jogs ahead so she could open the restaurant door for the CEO even if there’s a doorman waiting on the other side. The raven-haired woman smiles bashfully and whispers thank you under her breath. She was going to ask Anton, the manager, for a table for two at her usual place—the quiet place, where she is sure no one would bother her when she goes here for a change of scenery—when Kara finally seems to find the answer to her earlier question.

“Because you’re amazing,” Kara whispers, as if she didn’t mean for Lena to hear. The businesswoman glances back at her and she wonders what expression managed to reveal itself among the confusion, disbelief, gratitude, and warmth she felt. Kara fusses with her glasses as she pretends to look around. “I- I mean, what you do. It’s- I don’t think I’ve seen any proper story on you aside from L-Corp’s next crowning achievement, your best engineer, and—” She huffs and mutters something that Lena can’t hear but there’s clear disapproval in her voice. Lena stares. “But what about the woman running L-Corp itself? It’s been like, how many months since you’ve moved to National City? And- And CatCo is National City’s number one magazine. It’s a- a crime not to have a story on you. I’m pretty sure you’re the most powerful woman around here. Not physically, but- but you get my point.” She whips her attention to the waiting man whose smile seems to grow more awkward the longer Kara rambled. “Table for two,” she requests, her voice almost a whine. “Please.”

Lena turns to him as well. “My usual place, Anton,” she adds. The manager nods and leads them to a table that’s tucked between the large glass window that overlooked the street and a tall divider lined with empty wine bottles. Anton pulls the seat that’s facing the glass wall at the same time Kara pulls the other, the one where she would be away from any curious glances. Lena bites back a smile and takes Kara’s offered seat, murmuring her thanks again towards the blonde. The reporter circles the table and sits down on Anton’s proffered seat.

The man hands them menus but Lena declines it. “Usual stratta please, and some mango juice,” the woman orders. She turns to Kara, who is glaring at the menu.

“Egg bake,” the blonde answers. “And a souffle? It looks nice in the picture. And an orange juice.” Anton chuckles at that but he does jot down their orders. He leaves with a promise of five minutes, Miss Luthor, and when he does, Lena faces the stifling silence as Kara stares out the window. The raven-haired woman places her purse on her left side and stares at it before finally looking up at the blonde.

“I don’t have issues with the lack of stories on L-Corp’s CEO,” Lena begins. Kara opens her mouth to say something but Lena stares at her pointedly. The reporter purses her lips but digs for her phone instead. She taps on it a few times—Lena remembers her setting alarms for their sessions—and places it on the table. Lena sighs deeply and glances at the phone before she drags her gaze to her side of the table. She’s usually confident during interviews, though those are mostly of what she thinks of her competitors’ next moves, her company’s latest project, or her take on the spiking stocks for L-Corp. She never really talked about herself. Not like this, anyway. “I don’t need features on me when we have better news to talk about, Kara,” she murmurs. “Like how our engineers are so close to medicine’s biggest breakthrough or how our we try to improve our health programs to bridge the needs of people to what they can afford.” She waves a hand dismissively and finally meets Kara’s gaze. She stutters with how intently the blonde is looking at her, like she’s trying to look into her soul or read her mind. “I couldn’t care less about what people think of me. They could think of me as my brother, as long as they know L-Corp is a force for good now, not some- some company simmering in xenophobia.”

She lets out a long sigh. Okay, this isn’t how she wanted this interview to start. She has dealt with this topic before but with Kara, it feels new. Perhaps because no one has every really approached the story like Kara is doing; mostly, prior attempts at her profile would hint on when she’s going to succumb to madness like her brother. She shrugs and stays quiet for a several moments. Anton arrives with their orders and Lena is thankful for the break in tension. They thank the manager. Kara speaks when he leaves.

“You’re the leader behind L-Corp though,” she says as she eyes the food on the table. “And you are not your brother.”

The CEO chuckles softly as she takes her fork. “I merely took over my brother’s reins,” she murmurs.

“Yes,” Kara cuts in. “But you did more than just take over. You did more than just rebrand, Lena, you—” The reporter blows a frustrated huff and Lena notices her giving her own utensil a death grip. “You breathed new life into a company that has been brewing hate and it never would have happened if you didn’t enter the picture. Don’t tell my otherwise. I have done my homework.”

Lena looks at Kara. Kara Danvers, junior reporter at CatCo by day and professional cuddler by night, wholly believing in Lena in ways beyond what the Luthor can imagine. Lena, who have been closed off from the world for so long, who Kara doesn’t even know fully. Lena, who for so long has only been portrayed as Lex Luthor’s sister and heir to his evil empire. She doesn’t know what she did to deserve a person—a friend—like Kara, but she could only stare in disbelief at the woman.

She wonders how this conversation would have gone if they were in a more casual setting than this already casual interview, formalities and professionalism be damned—in her bedroom downtown perhaps, in a cuddle session, where she would be wrapped in the comforting warmth of Kara’s strong arms and the rhythm of her heart. Would Kara run her fingers through her hair again? Would she have to struggle with staying awake? Would Krypto be there snoozing between them? The only thing she is sure of is her baring the story of all stories, told because of a confidentiality clause and because Kara is, despite all odds and their brief history, one of the few people she trusts with all her secrets. She thinks back to the first time, how she could feel like she could entrust her whole world to this stranger and feel nothing but warmth. Only one thing has changed: Kara is no longer a stranger. She’s a friend now.

She must be staring for too long because the blonde brushes the back of her hand against the corner of her lips. “Do I have something on my face?” Kara asks. It breaks Lena’s small reverie and she shakes her head, chuckling.

“You have too much faith in me, Kara,” she finally says. Maybe she could schedule a session sometime during the week, spill some more truths about herself. The blonde takes a bite of her egg bake and hums in approval before she speaks.

“Just about enough,” she shoots back easily. Lena is about to insist that it’s entirely too much but she almost preens at the words—it’s a gesture rarely, almost never, extended her way, and she feels she could conquer the world with those three words.

Technically, she can.

They work through the rest of Kara’s questions as they eat their meals. At one point, Jess texts her that Dr. Langley is requesting her presence for the afternoon. Lena agrees and tells her secretary to make sure her next hour or so is free because her interview could run a little bit longer—not that she told the reporter that. Kara enjoys her meal and comments on how the egg bake is actually good. The CEO pushes her dish towards her to have her taste the stratta. The blonde pokes it and takes a small part, sniffs it, before finally taking it in her mouth. She lights up and smiles before continuing with her questions.

“You’re not holding back on those, are you?” Lena notes midway the question about what she thinks is the least flattering side of her— not physically, Kara insists with a little blush.

“At least my questions have actual purpose now than just knowing you myself,” the reporter laughs.

Lena smiles. “I don’t mind you knowing me, Kara. I trust you.” She tilts her head. There’s a rush in her chest when she notices the way the blonde is looking at her—Lena likes to think that’s a blush under the rim of her glasses, as if she’s been given a compliment, her blue eyes sparkling with the way it reflects the late morning sun lighting up the side of the street. Lena thinks of the sea. “I don’t think anyone would necessarily change what they think of me. I think what you’re doing is noble but—”

“Pointless?” Kara cuts off. She stabs the remaining yellow bite on her otherwise clean plate. Lena chuckles and leans back on her seat. She doesn’t meet Kara’s gaze.

“I was going to say there is no need for it,” the CEO replies with a small smile.

Kara shrugs and finishes the rest of her egg bake. There’s a pause in their conversation, similar to the ones from before that precedes words that, Lena has noticed, make her feel a rush in her chest. Kara takes a sip of her orange juice. “You’re a wonderful person,” the blonde asserts, and sure enough, there it was—the odd sensation that swirls in her gut. “And I want people to see that.”

There’s no pause when Lena asks why.

“What do you mean?” Kara asks back as if she’s genuinely confused. The CEO chuckles cheerlessly.

“Why would you- Kara,” Lena sighs as if it’s a conversation she doesn’t want to have. “I’ve long accepted the fact that there will be people who won’t ever see me as more than my brother—”

“And that’s what I have a problem with.” Kara furrows her eyebrows and worries her lip between her teeth. Lena’s thoughts lay on a standstill and the blonde takes it as an offer to continue. “It’s not- It’s not only because you’re my friend. Mostly it is, but also because- I just—” Kara huffs in frustration. “You’re one of the victims too, but no one else can see that. Besides, people should be judged by the merits of their actions. By that alone people should know you’re amazing.”

It takes a moment for those words to sink in. Several moments, actually. She has stayed quiet for so long that Kara squirms, fusses with her glasses yet again. There’s disbelief that plagues Lena and she thinks Kara is a first of her kind in her life.

And that she is, perhaps, one of a kind in general.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever stood up for me like that,” Lena admits softly.

There’s a fierce determination in Kara’s eyes and the way she smiles when she speaks that makes Lena wonder where she is anchoring her belief. “Now you’ll always have someone on your side.”

Lena is quiet for a moment. The words send her reeling like she’s heard the best news of her life and she isn’t fully sure how to respond. Instead she reaches for her glass and smiles at Kara. She can contemplate about things at a later date, when she’s alone and she doesn’t have to worry about making Kara worry with her lack of responses.

“Why aren’t you writing anything down?” Lena teases. “Aren’t you scared you’d miss an important quote?”

Kara points to her phone. “I’m recording. But it’s not like I would.” She beams a smile so dazzling that it’s not only Lena’s words that stutter. “So. What you think is the least flattering part of you?”

Lena laughs. “What if I can’t pick one?”

//

Their brunch-slash-interview lasts an about two hours. Kara had panicked when she realized this but Lena assured her it was fine if the blonde had time, so they stayed. When Kara was done with all her questions, Lena insisted it was her turn to ask, though she only requested for a picture of Krypto. The blonde eagerly whipped her phone out and showed an entire album of Krypto and under it is a number that reads 3,459. Lena realizes it’s 3,459 photos, all variations of the puppy sleeping, eating, or chewing something. The raven-haired woman had gone until the 52nd when she finds a photo of the white furball resting on Kara’s lap.

Behind Krypto was Kara in just a sports bra, probably sweatpants, without her glasses, grinning so widely Lena could almost feel the warmth of that moment.

“Woops, that’s- erm, sorry,” Kara had laughed then snatched her phone from Lena. There’s a dark blush on her cheeks that the CEO is sure is present on her own as well. Instead of commenting—what else can she say except ask if her abs are real or what her workout regimen entails?—Lena requested for the check. She pays for it despite Kara’s insistence to cover the bill since it’s an interview, Lena. The businesswoman just stared at her and quirked her eyebrow as she handed Anton her card. It’s enough to make Kara and the manager falter as he scurries to settle their bill.

They head out of the restaurant. Kara offers to walk Lena back to her office. The businesswoman opens her mouth to politely decline but the reporter just says yes, yes I am in a tone that left no room for disagreement, so Lena acquiesces with a smile. Kara looks pleased as she tugs on the strap of her satchel.

“That was good. I feel almost healthy.” She beams at her companion and Lena rolls her eyes. “Can we get hotdogs next time?”

Lena glances at her as she lifts a hand to shield her eyes from the sun. “Next time?” She asks, her voice laced with amused curiosity. Kara falters in her steps, fidgets with her glasses, and laughs that inelegant but so adorable laugh that makes Lena smirk.

“I mean—um. We should, you know.” She looks at Lena and shrugs as if that would make sense. When the CEO just stares, she sighs. “You know. Hang out. Outside of the bedroom.” She snorts. “I should stop saying that because it does sound scandalous.”

“Don’t let the paparazzi hear you,” Lena chuckles. “That would make a nice headline. But I’d love that.”

Kara frowns. “You have paps following you?” It’s not the same conspiratorial whisper she used when she made a comment about her building staff seeing her in her sleepwear. There’s concern in her voice that makes Lena feel... warm.

“Singular. Yeah,” she answers simply. Kara’s jaw drops as if she doesn’t expect that there was a paparazzi now. “Two o’ clock, over at the bike stand.”

Kara whirs to the direction mentioned and Lena sees her shoot daggers to the man who thinks he’s being discreet. “Creepy,” the blonde mutters with disdain, but when she turns to Lena again the worry in her tone is evident. “Do they bother you?”

No one had really worried for Lena aside from Veronica and Jess (and the head of her security team but that’s Elektra’s job so it doesn’t count). “Not really,” Lena drawls. They finally reach the L-Corp building. Her skin feels too hot from the sun. “I can protect myself.”

Kara raises an eyebrow and Lena wonders if the prickling sensation on the back of her neck is also because of the heat.

“You’re not the only one equipped with knowledge of combat,” Lena drawls. They head to the elevator and she presses for the top floor. When she looks back at Kara, the blonde seems to be thinking, her tongue poking against the inside of her cheek.

“I’m going to punch you,” Kara says. Lena barks out a laugh.

“What?”

She isn’t given an answer. Before she could blink, there’s a fist making its way to her face. Her reflexes kick in. Lena lifts her forearm to defend herself. She’s grabbing Kara by her collar and pressing her against the wall. There’s a grunt. The CEO drops her hold moments later, panic surging in her chest.

“Shit! Sorry!” She pulls back and examines the coughing Kara, who’s pressing on her collarbone as if trying to breath.

“Nice,” Kara winces. “As someone trained by an expert combatant herself, that was pretty good.” She fixes the collar of her shirt and Lena almost offers to help her with it. Instead, she sighs. Kara coughs again.

“Could you not have taken my word for it?” Lena asks with a frown. Kara chuckles and shrugs as if that explains what she just did. “You could’ve actually punched me, you know. My lawyers would sue.”

Kara looks mildly horrified at the thought and she grins sheepishly. “Well, I knew you could defend yourself. I did say I had enough faith in you.”

Too much faith, clearly,” Lena drawls. “Please, don’t do that again.”

“No, no I don’t think I would,” Kara chuckles as she rubs the back of her neck. When they reach the floor of Lena’s office, the elevator doors open to reveal two women in suits waiting for them. One of them steps forward, an olive-skinned woman in a ponytail who doesn’t look pleased. Lena curses under her breath. For a while there, she forgot about the protocols in her own building.

“Ellie,” she starts, just as the woman sizes up Kara. The blonde looks up at the seething woman and swallows visibly. Lena steps between them. “This is my friend, Kara Danvers.”

“She assaulted you, Miss Luthor,” Elektra says flatly. Kara makes a small noise and Lena sighs again.

“Well. Yes and no,” Lena replies. “That was a test of the extent of my self-defense skills.”

Kara nods, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. “Yes. And she passed. With flying colors! I think I have a bruise somewhere to prove it.” She grins brightly at the woman in front of her and Elektra scowls at Kara at that explanation but she nods, too.

“Right. Kara, this is Elektra Natchios, head of my security,” Lena says with a tight smile. Kara makes a small noise and Lena just knows it’s because of Ellie’s last name. She stares at her pointedly. “In case you try your little...trick again, you might be facing her instead.” She throws Elektra an amused glance. “And trust me, she won’t stop midway.”

Kara nods fervently to show that she understood. The two women leave with a nod to Lena’s direction and the CEO leads Kara back to her office. Instead of walking in, the blonde lingers by the door.

“That was, uh, interesting,” she says with a nervous chuckle. “But uh. I actually have to go?”

“Don’t let them scare you,” Lena says with a small smile. Kara huffs and rolls her eyes.

“I’m not scared,” she insists, though she does fiddle with the strap of her bag. “Just—another interview in a half an hour. Anyway. I’ll let you know if I have other questions. See you?”

Lena nods and pulls open her office door.There’s a small nagging feeling about Kara running off for another interview but she pushes it away. It’s her friend’s job after all. “Of course. You have my number anyway.”

Kara makes an affirmative hum and gestures for the elevator doors. “Later.” She takes a tentative step back and smiles at Lena. The CEO likes to think she doesn’t want to go.

“Kara,” she calls out. The blonde halts, grins and says Lena’s name in an inquisitive tone that makes Lena feel warm again. She swallows the urge to ask for a hug—a small piece of the sessions they’ve had. “I- Thank you. For- For believing in me.” She grips the metal handle of her door. “For wanting to do this.”

The blonde seems to light up at that. She moves but stops, instead frets with her glasses again as she beams at Lena. It’s always so bright, that smile, and Lena thinks Kara is a sun. It’s a fact now, despite all scientific truths that say otherwise. “I’ll always be on your side,” she says simply. She offers Lena a nod once more. The CEO tries to mirror this golden smile as she gives her friend a wave.

“See you around, Miss Danvers.”

“Later, Lena,” Kara says, though she doesn’t move. Someone from behind yells going down and Lena lifts an eyebrow. “Right. Um, bye!” The blonde runs to the elevator, and just as the doors close, the CEO sees Kara waggle her fingers in a wave, a lovely grin on her face, and it’s that lovely grin and the rush in her chest that Lena carries with her as she makes her way down the labs.

 

Chapter Text

The days following the interview have been busy for Lena. Though Dr. Langley and her team are already finalizing everything for the launch, she wanted to stay in the loop for every update. This, on top of the business deals she had been ironing out for the purpose of this launch.

She has just finished a rather important—and also very draining, considering it had been the end of the week—meeting and she returns to her office with a headache. She asks Jess for some coffee before she is set to go down to the labs. As she waits, she busies herself on her laptop, answering an email or two.

Her phone buzzes with a text just as Jess arrives with her coffee. She thanks the woman with a grateful smile and tells her to go home as soon as she’s done or when 5pm comes around, whichever comes first, because she plans on staying at the labs until late.

“Thank you, Miss Luthor,” Jess says with a smile as she clutches the folders she is carrying in her arms. Her secretary shuffles to the door and Lena looks up when she notices her hesitate by the entrance. Jess chews on her lip for a moment.

“Don’t work too hard, okay?” She finally says, and Lena pauses from sipping the black coffee she was given. Bright red lips quirk up into an amused smile.

“I’ll be home by seven, mother, ” Lena chuckles. “But thank you.”

Jess grins widely at her boss as she walks out of her office. Lena shakes her head in amusement at the exchange, but when she’s left alone in the silence her smile drops as her quip bites her back in the ass. She hasn’t thought of her mother in a while; she doesn’t even know where Lillian is, except for the vague descriptions of what she’s up to in the weekly emails she sends Lena—this week had been a biotech conference in Europe or somewhere nearby—that the younger Luthor never replies to.

She wants to, but she’s apprehensive of what their exchange would entail. She fears she’d snap and ask why Lillian had gone and forgotten about her other child when Lex had been arrested. He had always been her favorite. Though there had been that one time when she had written a lengthy tirade about her resentment while she was drunk and alone in her home office back in Metropolis months ago—about how, despite everything she had done to gain Lillian’s approval, she has shown nothing but disappointment in Lena—though she ended up deleting it and instead focused her energy kicking the living hell out of a boxing bag whilst inebriated.

Another text breaks her from her reverie and she sighs at the sinking feeling that has come to associate itself with the thoughts of her family. She rubs her right temple with her hand and checks her phone with her other to see a text from Kara. Lena finds herself smiling, the traces of heartache temporarily chipping away and replaced by amusement, curiosity, then mild horror as she reads through the messages.

Soooo I told my sister that I almost punched Lena Luthor on the face and she looked ready to go drag me by the collar and apologize to you for one second...until I told her you kicked my ass

She wants to meet you

The second text is punctuated with several laughing emojis that Lena is left to ruminate if the blonde was actually serious. She reads through the text again. If it were just the sentence itself, she would consider it one of genuine interest. But the emojis tell another thing. She had only recently come to use of such modern ideograms when she had began texting with Kara. She hasn’t fully understood and familiarized herself with this visual language or the conventions that are associated with it. Did the laughing emojis mean she was joking? Did it evoke sarcastic joy?

Formal emails and proposals, she could handle. At least actual written words weren’t this vague.

Her earlier misery replaced with confusion and, truthfully, dread, she sends you’ll have to schedule a meeting with Jess as a reply because Kara could take it either a serious acceptance or as a joke, for whatever case she meant the text as. The ball would be on Kara’s court.

(She thinks she’s clever for that, of course.)

Kara’s reply comes in around three minutes later—Lena knows, because she had been watching the minutes pass by on her phone. It reads I don’t think she’s actually serious and it makes Lena sigh in relief.

It isn’t odd why meeting someone new makes her nervous. It’s not the first time she felt such trepidation either. She has grown hesitant meeting anyone that isn’t with the facade of business; she hasn’t done so for a long time. Kara had been different—she had been introduced to Lena’s life at the pretense of some service, and the offer of friendship had been after the fact. The idea of meeting someone, Kara’s sister no less, is something that she thinks she can handle, hypothetically, but it doesn’t mean she wanted to do it.

She thinks if she had met Kara at different circumstances—perhaps as a reporter for CatCo doing some profile on Lena, as would be natural given their jobs—that they wouldn't be in the same situation as they are in currently, if only because Lena rarely opened up to people because everyone else would merely judge her for actions that are not hers, for a last name she was brought into.

Or perhaps Kara is different. She seemed to be, from the get go—a sun so warm that Lena could only trust, a planet to which Lena is a moon that could only be pulled by her gravity, a person so one-of-a-kind that Lena had barely hesitated before she was answering her most random but most knowing of questions.

Do such people exist? The answer is yes and the evidence is Kara. Except, as a woman of science, Lena would need more data, or her answer is inconclusive.

Her phone vibrates with yet another text from Kara.

My friend Winn is a big fan though and he would LOVE to meet you.

The CEO raises an eyebrow at that. A fan? Given her predilection to keep her life under the wraps except those associated with L-Corp, she assumes this Winn is a scientist or engineer of sorts—she remembers Kara mentioning knowing some of the latter, after all.

Besides, she is fairly sure only Veronica knew of her other skillsets, many of which would probably be frowned upon considering she’s a Luthor. An engineering degree partnered with marksmanship qualifications and combat expertise would probably have people assuming she’s out to follow her brother’s footsteps.

A little apprehensive but curious—she wants to think that Kara’s friends aren’t like the rest of the public, since Kara is an overall wonderful person and her friends and family must then be wonderful too—she replies that well, your sister and Winn can come to the launch on Monday if they want to.

The reply is quick.

:( What about me???

Lena rolls her eyes. Did Kara really think her invitation wasn’t extended to her first? She would rather be convicted of terrorism charges than meet them without Kara around.

You are invited, Kara. Whether or not you’re coming as a reporter.  

Her phone vibrates two seconds after the message is sent. It buzzes three more times, all replies emojis of a happy face except the fourth, which reads You’re damn right I’ll be there! Can I bring banners?

It makes Lena laugh and completely forget about wallowing in her misery. Please god don't, she replies. Seeing the time, she shoots off another text telling Kara she has to go work down the labs.

She is replied with multiple thumbs up emojis, plus a text that reads  don’t work too hard please, and really, it’s hard to think about those who can’t spare an inch of concern about her when she has two whole individuals telling her to take care of herself.

She heads out of her office and drops by the pantry to make Dr. Langley’s team some coffee before she heads to the labs. She’s greeted with whoops of gratitude and they all take a break before proceeding with the final discussions.

Lena does go home at seven in the evening, but not before making sure everyone else would be leaving with her too. On the dot, while she is on her way to the L-Corp driveway where her driver would pick her up, she receives a threat from Kara that reads you better be home/on your way home or I’ll drag your rich ass out your building.

Lena laughs, especially when it’s followed by Unless Elektra is there, in which case, I would beg you to just come home.

She tells Kara that she is, in fact, on her way home, and that Elektra is probably home too, and instead of threatening her with violence she should just send her photos of Krypto. Kara indulges her with two photos, even sends her a slightly blurred photo of Kara laughing as the puppy seems to be licking her face.

She falls asleep that night with thoughts of those who can’t spare an inch of concern about her far, far away from her mind because she has two whole individuals, plus an adorable furball, telling her to take care of herself.

//

Lena didn’t need to go to the office that Saturday, but since Veronica had cancelled on brunch on account of some unfinished business in Paris—Lena is going to bet good money it’s that curator from Louvre—she goes anyway after her usual routine. Everything is ready for the launch come Monday, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t make good use of her free time and give the next phase of the project a head start. She heads to the labs and reviews the jump off points from her discussions with Dr. Langley and her team, then proceeds to  analyze the notes she had from way back when she was nineteen and managing with a barely usable microscope in an apartment garage she rented with Jack.

She has notebooks upon notebooks she keeps in a faded MIT canvas bag—it had been always been easier to mutter to herself sequences of code and equations as she writes them down, and at the same time harder for anyone else who dares to try and decipher her messy scrawls.

It’s on a thick leather-bound journal, under scribbles of computations she had already known by heart, that she finds a familiar handwriting.

you’re brilliant and i’m so lucky

It’s from Jack, all those years back when he was still part of her life. It makes her pause and swallow thickly, green eyes focusing on the neat letters. He had been wonderful and supportive, a brilliant mind himself, and although they had their rough patches—she had, once, thrown the microscope over his head because she had been so pissed and he wouldn’t listen —they had worked, both as a couple and as lab partners. She thinks she had loved him in ways she could call her own, appreciated him for all he had been for her.

He had loved her, too, that much she knows—even if the only resemblance of love she had been given was from her mother until she was four, and from Lex, from that little chess game until sometime after, before he began to slip away. She and Jack were young back then, and they’re still young now; whatever chance they had and lost, she knew they had time for such.

She tears her focus away from the words and grabs a new notebook to run through the same equations again. There was no point lingering in the past; she had moved on from him, after all. He was a big part of her, she couldn’t deny that, but that was all over. It had been a year or so, though she isn’t sure where that lies versus the average time people considered needed before they could move on. Perhaps she is as cold as Lillian had raised her to be.

She wonders if Jack’s place in her life had become a gaping space longing to be taken over by someone else, or if she had, over time, learned to fill it up herself.

She hopes it’s the latter, because the idea of having to be completed by someone else leaves a bitter taste in her mouth. For someone who had borne the consequences of independence at a young age, having to look for someone who is supposed to complete her sounds like bullshit. Such definitions of love don’t fit her pragmatic views.

She finds another note in the same journal. It’s her handwriting this time, but not scribbles of numbers or theories.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each
I do not think that they will sing to me.

She laughs despite herself. What is more grounded than the belief that no one would dare look her way?

//

She heads back to her office after what she thinks is a couple of hours. She’s scrolling through simulations on her tablet that she had coded from her notes as she walks out of the elevator, not worrying about running into anyone because, well, it was a Saturday.

When she looks up to open her office door, she jumps and drops her tablet when she sees a woman sitting on Jess’s chair, her head in her arms as she appears to sleep. Her instincts kick in and she was ready to drag whoever this intruder was out of her building, but she notices the paper bag beside the woman labeled Cho’s and Lena almost laughs when she realizes who it is. She picks up her tablet with a relieved sigh and walks to the desk.

“Kara?” She says softly. The woman grunts but doesn’t move, so Lena repeats herself, more loudly this time.

The blonde sits up with a raspy yell of not the hotdog! Lena raises an eyebrow, mildly amused and very, very surprised. Kara blinks and adjusts her glasses, letting out a laugh when sleepy but still so bright eyes seem to focus on Lena.

“Hey!” Kara greets, sleep still in her voice. She yawns, then slips her fingers under her glasses to rub her eyes. “I was getting worried. You’ve been down there for hours.”

Hours? How long has Kara been here? Lena tilts her head in confusion and stammers through her questions. “What- Not that it’s not nice to see you, because it is, but what are you doing here? Have you been here all this time?” Lena asks. She gestures for Kara to stand and follow her to her office. Kara nods and picks up the paper bag before following the other woman. She merely shrugs.

“Well, no,” she replies softly. Lena inspects her tablet for damage as she listens to Kara talk, putting the device down when she finds no sign of wear. Kara continues. “I texted you in the morning and you haven’t responded for like, a long time, and I was, um. Worried.” She furrows her eyebrows then pushes her glasses up her nose before shrugging again. “I went to your apartment but was told you haven’t been there, so I thought you...uh, well.” Kara puffs her cheeks and looks up, like she’s looking for the proper word. “Misled…? Yeah, misled, um, me when you said you went home and actually stayed here and I wanted to make sure you were, you know. Okay.”

When Kara finishes her explanation, the blonde pulls the paper bag in her hand around her arms, against her chest as if shielding herself. Lena slowly blinks at her. She fishes her phone from the bag she left on her chair when she came in that late morning and sure enough, there were 37 texts from Kara and 19 missed calls. When she looks up at Kara, the blonde looks more guilty than worried.

“I guess I kind of overthought things,” Kara adds with a bite of her lip. “But you know… I just… Wanted to make sure.” She lets out a heavy sigh and she isn't meeting Lena's gaze. “So you did go home?”

Lena nods slowly. “I think I mentioned I have another apartment?”

Kara meets her gaze at that, her mouth falling open in understanding before she shuts it and puffs her cheeks. “Right… Right you did mention that. I’m so sorry. Clearly I forgot.” She laughs awkwardly and scratches the back of her neck, then rubs her face with her palm. She looks guilty, frustrated, and if Lena didn't feel bad for worrying about her, she'd think it was sweet. Adorable. The CEO smiles softly and dismisses her apology with a wave of her hand.

“No, no it’s fine. I’m just…” Lena trails off. She is surprised. Very much so. She does feel bad about worrying Kara and practically taking the better of her weekend from her, but also she feels...something else. No one has ever gotten out of their way to make sure she was okay. It caught her off-guard, this feeling of... something, like warmth and gratitude and wonder rolled into one, and as she looks at Kara—who looks like she’s mentally chastising herself for overstepping a line—Lena could only think of a mermaid, going out of her way to find her in a lonely sea just to sing to her. She bites her lip as she tries to go through the flurry of foreign emotions that swirled inside her, an effort to find words. “I’m happy you’re here,” Lena settles with. “Thank you. I’m sorry I made you worry.”

The tension in Kara’s shoulders seem to dissipate at that. The blonde beams. “Pffft, that’s fine! I have nothing better to do for the weekend other than make full use of my Netflix subscription. I can do that some other time.” She laughs. Lena finds herself smiling at her. “But! You have been down the labs for like, six or seven hours, if I base it on the time one of Elektra’s guys told me about, which is way past anyone should go without food. So.” She pats the large paper bag she had in her arms. “You guys have a microwave, right? We can heat these up, I brought some new dishes I wanted you to try!”

It surprises Lena how easy this seems to be for Kara, like going to a someone's place of work because she hasn't responded for the better of seven hours was normal. Maybe it is, she isn't sure. Her frames of reference—Veronica and Jess—haven't done it before. Jack had, because Lena did have the tendency to forget about the need for food and sleep when she was at work. He used to say she would die without him.

Lena just chuckles and nods at the blonde. She ushers Kara out of her office to the pantry on the same floor. It’s a small corner that housed a refrigerator, an oven toaster, and a microwave, plus two cafe tables with two chairs each. She helps Kara take the food out of the paper bag and the blonde pops three containers inside the microwave. When she sets the timer, Lena speaks, mind returning to what Kara had said earlier.

“You know,” she murmurs as she takes off the lid off of a container that had some noodles. She sets it aside and glances up to Kara. “I’m not going to...lie to you about going home or something like that.”

Lena had lied about worse things, of course. She'll never do that to a friend though. It's one of the better things Lex had told her—honesty for honesty, respect for respect.

An eye for an eye, perhaps, and that is why he deserves 32 life sentences in maximum security prison.

Kara sighs and frowns at that though. “I know. I’m sorry I implied that, I just…” She shrugs, then fidgets with her glasses in a nervous gesture. “I was worried.”

The CEO bites her tongue, keeps herself from saying that she’ll be the best friend she could be for Kara because the blonde deserves as much. “I can take care of myself, Kara,” she says instead, a small smile on her face. The microwave goes off and Kara opens it to take the food out. Lena puts the rest of the containers as Kara takes the food to the table. The blonde hums,

“I know. You probably can take out six-footer thugs with your bare hands—”

Lena smirks. “That’s accurate.” Kara glares at her.

“—but you stay up way too late and skip meals.” The blonde shrugs and glances at the bowl of potstickers before taking a pair of chopsticks and popping a dumpling into her mouth, not even bothering to dip it in soy sauce. She speaks as she chews, much to Lena’s disapproval. “You can have all the salads in the world but your health will still deteriorate if you don’t nourish yourself properly.” She swallows and meets Lena’s gaze. Lena is pleased she looks mildly threatened, blue eyes widening in the loveliest of ways. “You look like you’re two seconds from kicking me out. I’m your friend. Just looking out for you. Please don’t kick me out.”

“Are you not taught to not talk when your mouth is full?” Lena asks dryly.

“I have been, yes,” Kara says with a sheepish grin. A light blush dusts her cheeks and she looks at her chopsticks as she prods her the potstickers with them. “Sorry. I really just talk a lot, sometimes I forget. It’s a problem, clearly. Along with, um, my paranoia and my constant urge to make sure things are fine.” The blonde laughs self-deprecatingly. For a moment, Lena thinks the doubt she usually sees in herself is mirrored on blue eyes. The sight of it is almost jarring. The urge to touch bursts in her chest, some sort of need to reach out and put a comforting hand on Kara’s just to convey that she certainly doesn’t mind the talking or the random visits. Not at all. She’s reminded of the way the sound of the sea comforts her at how Kara’s purest of intentions tide over her being and really, how does one be so lucky to be considered a friend of Kara Danvers? She smiles at her instead, an effort to show Kara the warmth she feels, even if Lena is merely a moon and a sun like Kara would barely feel it.

“Thanks for being here,” she says softly. The blonde looks up at her, eyes bright, smile warm and comforting. Lena feels that rush in her chest, increasingly making itself familiar to her.

“Anytime,” Kara whispers. There’s a brief pause, then Kara’s smile turns into a grin and she’s offering a piece of dumpling for Lena. “It’s shrimp,” she says as a way of explanation, then lifts it to Lena’s mouth. “Open up.”

Lena rolls her eyes but obeys anyway. Kara waits expectantly for her reaction so she indulges her with an appreciative hum. Her bubbly friend grins before pushing the container of noodles to her direction.

They share the meal over the most random of conversations, the wildest of rides Lena has ever had the chance to participate in. After a brief catch-up of the single day they haven’t seen each other, Kara tells her of her difficult boss, then her love for donuts, and Lena asks why she woke up screaming for a hotdog, which turned into a discussion of where to find the best hotdogs in National City—except Lena had no contributions to the matter and Kara promised to give her a life-changing experience soon enough, when Lena finds some free time for a hotdog tour.

As far as life-changing experiences go, Lena thinks having Kara as a friend takes the cake. Or the chocolate pecan pie, she supposes.

They go home before the night falls, with Kara promising to see Lena come Monday. Lena thanks her again. Kara says it’s not a big deal but she thinks otherwise. It was odd, how such circumstances have stark differences to someone like her and someone like Kara. They’re the moon and the sun, and though they are inherently opposites, Lena doesn’t seem to feel lonely when Kara’s around.

//

It was showtime. Lena cracks her neck and rubs her hands together as she waits backstage for the floor director’s cue. There is a slight trepidation that makes her heart race, but that was mostly because of the demonstration she had to do later. Everything else is in place—she has a full auditorium waiting for her, she has her speech prepared, she’s wearing the best of her power suits, and in just a few moments, she will be revealing what might be L-Corp’s greatest achievement.

This might be the most excited she has been. It’s a rush, this opportunity to change the world, and it’s almost like the excitement she felt when one Kara Danvers extended her way an offer of friendship.

She smiles at the thought of Kara, who earlier that day had sent her with a photo of Krypto who is biting a small stuffed tiger by the ear. He offers you his favorite toy as good luck for later, Kara had texted, followed with another that read and so do I! You’ll be amazing I know it . They had been enough to start Lena’s day.

The floor director walks in to clip the microphone to the lapel of her blazer. After making sure it was secure, he says everything is ready if she was. She smiles.

“Showtime then, Robert,” she says with a resolute nod. Clasping her hands in front of her, she walks from the side entrance and makes her way to the stage. She thrives in the silence that falls onto the crowd as the lights focus on her.

“Vaccine, anesthesia, antibiotics,” Lena starts. She looks up to the crowd but is unable to see faces due to the spotlight on her, so she focuses on her words and at a fixed point ahead. “These are the three medical miracles that ushered us into the modern age. And now, I will show you how L-Corp will propel us to the future.” She smiles and looks to her right. A tall, older brunette dressed in a suit similar to hers walks in with a small metal box, the L-Corp logo emblazoned on the front. “This is Dr. Margaret Langley,” Lena introduces the woman proudly. “Project head and chief science officer of L-Corp.”

The crowd claps and Dr. Langley nods in response. She glances at Lena. There’s worry that crinkles on the corner of her eyes, the same worry that she saw from Jess’s earlier. Lena sighs internally.

This is her least favorite part. With a deep breath, Lena walks to the waiting podium where the macro cameras have been set up. Dr. Langley offers her a small, supportive smile. The older woman had offered to do it, after all, but Lena wanted to show that she is as invested on the project as anyone else, monetary values aside. This has been her work for the better part of her adulthood, after all.

What did people call that? Kara mentioned it that Saturday.

Right. This was her “baby.”

She picks up the scalpel with her right hand and spreads her left palm under the lens. Her pale hand is projected behind her for everyone to see, only slightly trembling. She positions the blade on the base of her forefinger and bites her lip to hide her wince of pain as she swipes it down to the base of left palm. The auditorium gasps as blood blooms from her cut. Lena nods over at Dr. Langley even as her palm trembled more visibly now, and she watches the swarm of nanobots stream from the metal box that serve as their containment and to her palm.

There’s a light sting as her wound closes. She sighs and flexes her palm under the cameras before she lifts it up for everyone to see—flawless. Lena lets out a proud smile as the nanobots return to their pod.

“What you’ve just witnessed is the fourth medical miracle: Biomax,” she continues as she walks back to the middle of the stage. The auditorium is buzzing with excitement she can practically smell in the air and this makes her smile grow wider. “No longer will we need to inoculate ourselves against disease, risk complications by going under anesthesia, or combat increasingly resistant bacteria with antibiotics. We are proud to launch our Biomax medical nanobot program across National City.”

The crowd bursts into applause. Lena’s lips quirk into a relieved smile. Her palm doesn’t sting anymore and really, that was the worst of her worries. “I’ll be taking your questions.”

A chorus of Miss Luthor! echoes through the auditorium along with the clicking of cameras, but above it is the resounding Lena! that cuts through the noise. The lights that blind the CEO dim to illuminate the media section over at the front, and her gaze locks with familiar blue eyes that lure her in like the horizon.

Kara seems to take that as an invitation. She stands and grins at Lena. “Congratulations on the launch Miss Luthor,” she starts, and Lena remembers where she is. She nods and murmurs her thanks. “Understandably, this technology is new so it must be expensive. What are your plans on letting the less privileged have access to it and how soon?”

Lena almost laughs. Kara seems to notice her reaction as she pushes her glasses to hide her own amusement. Kara Danvers, whether as professional cuddler or junior reporter, never seems to hold back on her questions. It’s almost amusing how Kara managed to ask this question.

“L-Corp may be a business and we still have biotechnology as our main thrust, but our vision has shifted from more than just breakthrough discoveries. We focus on science, yes, but more importantly, humanity.” Lena smiles. She glances to her right where she knows her main guest sits. The man just shrugs and nods. Lena is unable to hold back a small chuckle. “And though this isn’t supposed to be part of this launch, given your question, Miss Danvers, I suppose now is a better time to announce L-Corp’s partnership with Wayne Enterprises to help everyone in need to gain access to Biomax.” Lena gestures to Bruce Wayne in the crowd, and as the crowd erupts with more applause and questions, it’s Kara’s flustered expression that has Lena grinning.

Lena takes further questions, handling them with as much grace and knowledge as she can. She falters when a familiar man raises his hand and calls for her. Lena points to him.

“Clark Kent from The Daily Planet, Miss Luthor,” he begins. He looks the same from when Lena last saw him, all harmless confidence and quick wit. "Being based in National City, will you be restricting access solely within the area? If so, for how long?”

Lena doesn’t let herself falter, implications of his words kept to herself. “Like I said, L-Corp is keeping its focus on humanity and reaching out to help as many people as we can. We have proper permits from FDA to operate in major cities, and are working toward rolling out the nanobot program across the board.” She steels her gaze on him. He nods, ever the professional, and Lena ignores the way bile scratched the back of her throat as she takes another question.

//

After the presscon, Lena walks out to the lobby with Dr. Langley. The older woman congratulates her with a pat on the back that makes Lena smile, rather proudly, her mentor acknowledging this achievement as theirs, including her. If she had no need for self-preservation—or if she wasn’t this proud—she would’ve shed a tear. The knowing look on Dr. Langley’s face says she knew though, and Lena is just grateful.

Jess walks to them with a couple of men in tailored suits. Possibly new investors, she thinks, and she puts on her game face as they approach.

Her heart stills on her chest when she sees who is with them. The bearded man smiles. He looks the same, much like he did a year or so ago, and Lena mirrors the greeting.

“Congratulations,” he says, striding ahead of the group he’s in to take Lena’s hand and shake it. Lena glances down at their joined hands before she looks up.

“Hello, Jack,” she murmurs. She’s hit with nostalgia, something like loneliness perhaps, and she hesitates before pulling her hand back. “It’s- I didn’t expect you to be here.”

“Spheerical Industries is always on the lookout for the next scientific breakthrough,” he says simply. He pushes his hands to his pockets and steps aside to give him and Lena some space from the investors who takes Dr. Langley’s attention. There’s a charming smile on his lips, the one that made her fall for him those years ago, and though it doesn’t have the same effect anymore, she does give him a smile. “I hope you know I’m proud of you,” he adds, his voice soft and tender. It remind her of  how they had said goodbye—not with screaming fits that she had expected and hoped for, but with quiet tears and hushed promises that he understands.

He was perfect—a big part of her life, of her. He’s still perfect, it seems, a CEO himself leading a tech company that could easily be in leagues with L-Corp. Still good-looking and charming, too, as he goes on to speak. “I’ve always known you were brilliant,” he says, and there’s a vulnerability in his eyes that Lena notices. She sighs. He is perfect, still, but he no longer is a part of her life, of her, and she isn’t that woman anymore.

She thank him anyway, and she meets his gaze fully. “You were the one who pushed me to commit to this project. If it weren’t for you…” She trails off and chuckles. If it weren’t for him, she would have abandoned this. He trusted in her in ways no one had, not even herself.

“I miss you,” he suddenly says, and Lena feels guilt in her gut and loneliness in her chest.

She did miss him the first few months. It had been hard, moving into a new city alone and heartbroken—she had been tempted to go back to Metropolis, back to his arms, but she had managed. She is a Luthor, after all, and if not that, a strong, independent woman, and if she dove headfirst into her job without swimming back up for air for months, it’s only because she had a duty to L-Corp and all its stakeholders.

She still cares about him, of course, but it’s not the same anymore. With the work and the loneliness she had resigned herself to, the affection for him had faded away.

“We should catch up with dinner, one of these days,” he offers in her silence. Lena’s smile falters, and before she could tell him that it may not be the best of ideas, a familiar voice calls out to her. Lena looks up and sees Kara, grinning brightly as always, flanked by two men. The smile is too contagious that Lena finds herself smiling back.

“Hey, hi!” Kara greets with a small wave. “I wanted to congrat- Oh, sorry, did I interrupt—”

Jack shakes his head and smiles politely at Kara. “Not at all, I was just leaving,” he says, and when he turns to Lena there’s something in his eyes that she can’t quite identify, but he only steps beside her and pats her on the shoulder.

“I know back then leaving wasn’t a decision you were happy with,” he whispers. “But I hope you choose happiness this time.”

He walks off without another word. Lena follows him with a confused gaze. He always had a way with words, but she doesn’t seem to understand.

“I think I did interrupt something,” Kara stage whispers. The CEO tears her attention from Jack as she chuckles.

“You didn’t,” she assures. She takes a deep breath and smiles. She can think about that—him—later. “That was Jack Spheer, CEO of Spheerical Industries,” she explains. Kara seems to make a mental note of it as she looks to the direction where he had left, squinting over at his direction. “Anyway. Mind introducing me to your company, Miss Danvers?” Lena asks, gesturing to the two men who laugh lightly.

“Oh!” Kara shakes her head then nods furiously. “Right. Um. This is James Olsen,” she says, pointing to the tall, broad-shouldered man with a camera around his neck. He extends her hand and Lena accepts it with a firm shake. “Acting CEO for CatCo, award-winning photographer.” Kara grins at the man who shakes his head, then points at the other man with her thumb. “This is Winn, the guy I told you about. Winn Schott, Jr.”

Kara,” Winn hisses, glaring at the blonde. Lena just chuckles as she offers him a handshake too. He seems to fluster a little at that but he accepts it either way.

“The fan, yes,” she teases. “I’m Lena Luthor.”

“I know,” Winn mutters as he looks to her face then their joined hands and back. “Congratulations on your launch! I think it’s your best since the black body generator.”

Lena quirks up an eyebrow at that. Kara laughs nervously and pats Winn’s shoulder, then pulls on his arm.

“Alright, buddy. Not a good time to fanboy,” the blonde says. Lena chuckles as he finally pulls his hand away.

“Winn, was it?” She repeats. The man nods. “Thank you. Your words mean a lot to me.” And they do. As much as she knows L-Corp’s work helps people, there’s motivation that comes from validation of the work done behind the scenes.

Kara congratulates her too, with awe and wonder sparkling in those blue eyes. “You got me nervous there when you, you know.” She chuckles and looks down. Lena follows her gaze and realizes Kara is looking at  the hand she had cut earlier. She mindlessly offers it to the blonde, palm up, telling her that she’s perfectly fine. Kara takes it with both hands and the CEO blinks. Winn and James peek, too, and Lena barely hears a camera shutter, but she doesn’t pay attention to it when she realizes just how soft Kara’s hands are. She doesn’t think she’s held them like this, or that Kara has held her hand like this before—it was different compared to being in Kara’s arms. A good, distracting different.

“Amazing,” Kara murmurs. She runs her index finger across Lena’s palm. The raven-haired woman shudders but she’s able to hide the reaction. Kara pulls back with a bite of her lip. “That is so cool, can I just say?”

Winn agrees with a solemn nod and a murmur of holy shit I know right.

“Thank you,” Lena says with a smile that she hopes doesn’t look as forced as it feels. If only because she’s...confused. Her palm still tingles with the sensation of Kara’s finger against her skin. “So. Here as a reporter, I see?”

Kara’s grin turns sheepish. “Yeah, I hope you don’t mind. Ryan was out on another assignment and James here said I could handle it.”

Lena chuckles. “And you did. You practically grilled me out there.”

“You totally nailed it,” the reporter assures as they share a laugh. James requests for another photo as Kara seems to work through an additional question she had, not that Lena minded  if she had more. She’s talking about the partnership with Wayne Industries when a familiar reporter makes their way to them.

“Hope you don’t mind me taking notes too,” Clark Kent says as he reaches the group. Lena looks at him curiously. She realizes his words are addressed to Kara.

“Normally I would,” Kara replies with a grin. “But you’re family, so.”

Lena’s blinks slowly at that. Family?

“Yeah, he’s my cousin,” Kara explains, and it only occurs to Lena seconds later that she said that out loud.

“The talent must run in the family then,” Lena comments, not really knowing what to say. Kara Danvers, cousins with the one and only Clark Kent. Who would’ve thought? What a small world. When she looks up at Clark, she doesn’t quite know how to feel. Here is the man who was his brother’s best friend—the man who had done the coverage on him during his trial, who wrote about Lex Luthor when he had been finally been caught. The man who molded the public’s perspective about her brother.

It was the truth, what he wrote—he was doing his job, after all, and if Lena was being honest, there was no one who could’ve given Lex justice more than Clark Kent himself. He was unbiased, as was ethical, but between the lines Lena had seen how much he had cared for Lex.

Still, she wonders if he’s much like the others, those who think of her as nothing but her brother. Lena manages a tight smile.  

“Any further questions, Mr. Kent?” She asks.

“Miss Luthor,” he replies with a polite nod. He clutches the strap of the messenger bag over his shoulder, like he’s hesitant. “How have you been?”

The question takes her by surprise.

“Better these days,” she answers quickly. It’s the closest to the truth, perhaps the truth itself. Clark seems to accept that at face value. She is no one to him, after all. Lena decides that’s fine, and she turns to Kara, who looks like she’s just piecing things together. There’s a crinkle between her eyebrows that Lena wants to reach out for. She glances to Jess and Dr. Langley before she faces the group.

“Well. It has been lovely to meet all of you but I do have to meet some investors.” She gestures to her left with her hand. “Lunch is at the end of the hall. If you have further questions, I and the rest of the team would love to help you out.”

The group nods and thanks her again with polite handshakes—Winn’s more overeager. Kara is the last one to take her hand.

“Congratulations again,” the reporter beams. Lena chuckles and nods. “I’m so proud of you, you don’t even know. And if you want to talk about…” Kara trails off and bites her lip. Lena understands but shakes her head.

“Thank you, again,” Lena replies. “And perhaps. We’ll see.” She has yet to process the events that have transpired. Their handshake lingers though, and it’s what she focuses on. The CEO remembers the day of the interview, when it felt like Kara hadn’t wanted to go. It takes a little effort for Lena to pull back from the handshake but when she does, the blonde seems to be shaken off her reverie.

“Right, well, congrats again! I- We should go.” She jabs her thumb to the direction behind her then walks backwards, grinning and waving at Lena before finally jogging back to her group. Lena watches her go and sighs. She hadn’t expected that this launch would to be an emotional ride. Still, she puts on her neutral mask—the one she wears for business conversations and wars. She strides to the group of investors with a smile and shakes their hands before delving into the topics of changing the future and the course of human history.

//

That night, Lena has her driver take her to her apartment. She ended up having dinner with a group of investors—she had sealed the deal before the wine had been delivered to their table, which was a new record even for her. Now that everything had been done, she feels the exhaustion of the days that had passed seep into her bones. Kicking off her shoes, she pads to the kitchen and gets a sports drink from the fridge. She’s taking gulps of it to wash away the remaining traces of casu marzu from her mouth.

Her phone rings in her purse. She returns the cap of the bottle and sees it’s a message from Kara, congratulating her again and hoping she had a great day. Lena smiles. Sometimes she thinks Kara is entirely too sweet for the world and she wonders, yet again, at the cost the universe would charge her for the blonde’s existence in her life.

Taking the bottle with her to her bedroom, she taps out a reply.

I’m home, and everything went smoothly so you can note that as a perfect day.

She puts the sports drink on her bedside table and collapses on the bed with a groan. The mattress is soft and cool against her skin. Entirely too comfortable that she just wants to fall asleep, but she does have to change into sleepwear—and oh, there is one thing she can think of that would make her day even better. Her phone vibrates with another text from Kara.

Have I mentioned I’m proud of you? Because I am! It’s so cool to think that I know Lena freaking Luthor who just unveiled the technology of the future!!!

A second message comes in quickly. I should let you get rest though, it reads, and Lena is typing a response before she could think about it. Luckily, her thumb hovers over the Send button before she could press it.

She reads it back to herself. Thank you. Do you think you can schedule a session for me right now?

It doesn’t sound needy, does it? It was a simple question that is Lena asking as a client. Which is what she was. She huffs at herself and sends it anyway, before hiding her phone under her pillow just in case. She could just sleep right now, but the idea of even just an hour in warm arms and a soft voice after the day— week —she just had seemed entirely too good to pass up without trying.

Her phone notifies her with Kara’s response. She bites her lips and takes it, her stomach dropping when she reads the reply.

It’s too late for a session, sorry

Well. She didn’t really expect the blonde to say yes, anyway. That doesn’t mean she isn’t disappointed. The bubble appears though, and before Lena could apologize, a series of messages come in

But I can come over and hang out if you’d like :)

Free of charge, too!

Because we’re friends.

Omg I can bring the donuts I talked about last time!!!

Lena laughs lightly. Kara is truly a magnificent friend, and Lena wonders yet again what she did to deserve someone like her in her life.

Does that mean I can’t force you to cuddle with me? She replies anyway, just because she could.

Crazy. You don’t have to force me to anything.

Except eat kale maybe because that’s gross

Lena laughs at the reply. Still, she doesn’t feel like it’s entirely appropriate to make Kara come over. What were the rules of friendship on late nights? She doesn’t quite know. She tries not to bother Jess after nine in the evening, but that’s at the context of being her secretary, and well, the only time she ever reached out to Veronica late at night was when she needed someone to bail her out, discreetly, when she was 22 and entirely too reckless.

(She frowns at the thought and hopes that police record had really been taken care of.)

It was much easier when she could just demand this stranger-turned-friend for cuddles because it’s her job. Lena huffs and stares at her phone before managing a reply.

You’re sweet. I think I might just fall asleep on you though. But thank you for the offer.

There. Polite and considerate. She sighs and goes on to change her clothes, resigning herself to well-deserved sleep considering it was just Monday. When she comes back to her phone there are a series of messages again.

But you deserve all the hugs for working so hard!

Rain check on the hanging out though, yes?

Did you fall asleep?

Good night :)

She settles into bed under the warmth of her blankets, though they’re not quite as warm or as comforting as Kara’s arms. She frowns at the thought. She’s not supposed to grow dependent of her friend. She reads the first response—it’s not laced with sarcastic emojis and she thinks there’s an agreement to her offer for cuddles there, but she tries not to think too hard about it. They were new friends, and she’s yet to learn the conventions of this...relationship. She types a reply, exhaustion catching up with her, but she manages to read Kara’s response before she falls asleep.

Good night, Kar

Sweetest of dreams, Lena

She doesn’t think of Jack. Instead, she dreams of Kara and the sea.

Chapter Text

There’s a yawn that she barely manages to conceal as she walks out of the elevator to the top floor of L-Corp. It is midweek, and yet, it feels like a week too long already. The day of and after the Biomax launch had been hectic—meetings here, partnerships proposals there, but the most draining of all is having to meet pretentious politicians who “dream of changing the world” but are probably looking for ways to leech money from those who have none to spare. She loathes them the most, and as much as possible meetings with them would be short—tell them L-Corp would consider sponsoring drives with their names but in reality, Lena would go directly to whatever hospitals they wanted to “help.” Not because she wanted credit all to herself and her company, but because they could help better that way.

Her phone vibrates in her hand and without looking, she knows who it is. She taps open her phone and chuckles at Kara’s good morning greeting: it’s of Krypto sitting on his hind legs, wearing a tiny, adorable penguin backpack, seemingly grinning at the camera. The photo makes her stop on her trek to her office, in the middle of the hallway, and the aww that escapes her lips is a little too loud than she had meant that she saw a couple of heads turn her way in her peripheral vision. She bites her lip as she types out a reply, then looks up to grin at her employees and bid them a good morning.

I’m adopting him ASAP, send me the papers!

She continues to her office, dropping her bag to her chair with a small sigh before taking a seat. Jess comes in and greets her a good morning with a tall cup of coffee,along with her usual folder labeled For Signature - Ms. Lena Luthor.

“Bless you,” Lena mumbles as she takes the cup offered to her. She takes a sip and scowls at the folder Jess slides over to her desk. Her secretary chuckles.

“Something to lighten up your mood, then,” Jess says, then lowers a magazine on top of the pile. It has Lena’s face plastered on the front page. The secretary grins but Lena almost chokes on her coffee. “I read the article. I hope you don’t mind. It think it’s great.”

The CEO lowers her cup and stares at the magazine. It’s her face. On the cover. It’s of her grinning, quite proudly, and she thinks it’s that moment after the nanobots had done their work and she’s showing her flawless palm to the crowd.

The Luthor Legacy is written in bold as the main headline on the lower right hand corner of the magazine, and above it are other headlines: Little Tricks That Add Up to Big $$$, Biomax: What you need to know, 12 Signs He’s Not Into You. What makes Lena’s blood run cold is the Exclusive Interview with Lena Luthor printed in smaller font under the main headline.

“Thank you,” Lena murmurs as she takes the magazine with nervous hands. She swallows thickly, not noticing the worried glance thrown her way.

So alongside L-Corp’s latest launch, CatCo planned on framing Kara's supposed profile on her as an exclusive. In a sense it is, but it makes Lena feel like she's been played. After all, she had wanted the focus of news outlets to be on Biomax. She sighs and flips through the relevant pages. There’s a three-page feature about Biomax—everything that happened during the launch, some photos of her, copy points from the press release—and on the centerspread is her, taken during the launch, and the headline from earlier is emblazoned across the page.

By Kara Danvers, it reads, and Lena’s breath catches on her throat. She recalls the things they talked about during the interview—some parts she wanted to keep off the record—and she is reminded that the brunch with Kara had been for the purpose of an article for public consumption, not merely for the blonde to know her. There would be certain framing and angles that may have been introduced to what she had told Kara, and if she is to base it on her previous experiences with the media, it's not going to be a good one.

She bites the bullet, however, with a deep sigh and her trust in Kara in her clutches.

The security to L-Corp is intense. RFID tags, X-ray machines, full body metal detection, body search, and it almost feels like going through a physical examination or checking-in at the airport. Everything else inside is the same as you’d see in the typical corporate building, impersonal and professional, but at least the people are welcoming.

However, getting into the building’s tight security had been easier than squeezing myself into Lena Luthor’s schedule. She has packed days for weeks on end, and it's only because of an unconfirmed meeting that she has freed up a mere hour for this interview. “Lucky,” Jessica Huang, Miss Luthor’s secretary, had said over the phone. “She’s a busy woman. I’m sure you understand.”

And I do. It’s not hard to think that a twenty-five-year-old woman single-handedly running a multi-billion dollar corporation is anything but busy. Between launching the future of medicine, Biomax, and orchestrating the smooth management of L-Corp, its ten subsidiaries, three research institutes, and two foundations, we’re inclined to believe Miss Luthor is actually a superwoman.

Miss Luthor’s office Lena, she insists, with more humility than what you can expect from a woman in her position—is all white and gray. She is almost as pale. There are items off-white and charcoal here and there, but everything else is immaculate, clean, orderly, and the only traces of color in the room are the red of Lena's lipstick and blouse and the green of her eyes. They are what you’d think commands the attention of a room, and you’re partly right; but it’s also the grace and power that Lena carries in her stride, the confidence in the simplest of her gaze, and it’s all this that brings the spaces we walk into to a standstill.

We walk in and out of the elevator to Lena smiling and greeting her employees on first name basis. She throws a relative’s name, asks them how things are, and gives them a quick wave, one that is a waggle of her fingers and a grin. It’s a stark contrast to the impersonal and professional aura of the L-Corp building, but everyone else smiles, nods, and wishes Lena a great day, like this is a regular thing.

This is the Lena Luthor no one else gets to see, except the thousands of employees who work for L-Corp.

Rebranded last year from Luthor Corp, the company has returned to being at the top of the industry after Lena took charge. The change comes a year and a half after Lex Luthor’s incarceration for terrorism.

This is the Luthor story that we know and live in. National City had been one of the many that occupied the papers during and months after the attack. Almost three years after, there are still movements lobbying for the closure of L-Corp and its various companies, and there are still those who call for the death of Lex Luthor.

There are threats in Lena’s life too, she shares later. She says she eats them with breakfast, along with her mango juice and stratta.

Lena pauses from reading at the dinging of notifications from her phone and laptop. She sighsshe is only realizing now that she still had papers to sign and emails to answer. Still, she’s curious what else Kara had written on her. So far, it feels like she’s reading about a whole another person, and it’s with a worried bite of her lip that she continues reading.

At the lobby, Lena stops and excuses herself to walk to an old man who’s checking in at the reception. His hair is all white, his suit a little baggy, and he is probably of retirement age. She asks him how his new home is, and if he is in need of restocking his medicines. The man promises her he’s doing great and Lena tells him they should catch brunch with the team soon before we leave.

We are greeted with silent familiarity when we walk into a quaint Italian restaurant a stone’s throw away from the L-Corp building. Even here, Lena knows the staff by name, and she shares this is where she works on days when she needed to see something that is more than just white and grays.

“You’d think I would just decorate,” she smiles, “but the staticity of my office helps me think. However, I do like the change of pace every once in a while. Also because their pastas here are excellent.”

The restaurant is miles away from the whiteness and quiet of her office: it’s archaic and buzzing with morning rush, all old brick walls, tall glass windows, and empty wine bottles as decoration, but Lena leans back in her usual seat like it’s second home. She is more relaxed outside of the office setting and one can assume she knows how to separate business from pleasure. Business is scathing wrath and cold precision, and if L-Corps aggressive business decisions lately are any indication, it’s almost strange to think this woman, all warmth and smiles, is at the helm.

Later, when asked who the man at the lobby was, Lena answers that he’s one of L-Corp’s most loyal employees, there to help out at a project because—here, she smiles fondly and tells me these are his exact words—“I’d rather spend the rest of my remaining days helping you change the world, Miss Luthor.”

“It’s strange,” she adds with a small laugh. “It was Lex who taught me that it’s okay not to try and change the world in the grand, big way that most people think of. That the most insignificant of changes can still start a ripple effect that would eventually end up causing a difference so immense it would shift human history itself. And [that’s] what I live by: aim on changing small things at a time, and someday you’ll realize you’ve changed the world.” She smiles wistfully, like she’s remembering, and it’s not too hard to guess what she’s thinking of.

She recalls something she told Kara and requested to keep off the record. It’s about Lex, shared to a close friend, from a still concerned sister of his. “Lex was the best brother one could ask for,” she had told Kara as she looked down on her hands. “At least, before the… Before he went mad. I was adopted by the Luthors when I was four and he was the one who made me feel home. Like I was actually welcomed. It had been hard, trying to please my- my mother, then, but Lex, he... “ She shook her head, and Kara had smiled at her in understanding. “He taught me all I know—from science to business to my guiding principles. So I guess it’s almost second nature, the fear I’ll end up like him.”

Kara had met her gaze so intently before speaking with more confidence than Lena was able to muster. “You are not your brother,” she had insisted. “You are too good and too smart to follow in his path.”

When asked what she wants to change, if any at all, there’s no hesitation.

“There’s a certain image that our company has taken, after what happened. My vision is to change [that] if ever L-Corp would ever be known for one thing and one thing alone, it’s that we were a force for good.” Lena smiles a bit and looks out the window, like she’s contemplating whether or not she should reveal a secret that would inevitably be printed for all to read.

“I fear that trust and humanity has been stripped away from this company and [it’s] unfortunate because for so long, L-Corp’s people have been working for the better of this world, one innovation at a time. If anything, that’s what I think the biggest task is. It’s what we’re working on, rebuilding that, if not to help people then to at least bring the faith back to those who have worked so hard to achieve it.”

Lena remembers thinking about not saying it. She didn’t want it to be used against her, in case someone takes it and twists it around it’s easy to say she’s using her employees for her own good and people would believe that but she decided honesty for honesty, like Lex had always said.

She doesn’t say anything about the public’s perception of her, as someone carrying the Luthor name, and this is telling of her selflessness: Say anything you want about Lena, but do not look down on or blabber about her employees or else she will focus all her attention on you, and you will be taken care of. Not in the sinister way. Quite literally, taken care of.

There is one specific instance of this, a couple of months right after the L-Corp headquarters moved to National City. A heckler interrupted and threatened one of L-Corp Biotech’s up and coming engineers during a demonstration. He’s tracked down and identified as the husband and father of a family of victims in the New York City attack. What did Lena do? She apologized to him personally and offered to make amends—housing, a job, and a chance to rebuild his life.

“He’s my driver now, for a year, and part of my security detail,” Lena smiles. “I trust him with my life.”

It highlights her selflessness, yet again—she has taken the responsibility for seeking the forgiveness of the victims’ families in behalf of her brother, currently serving 32 life sentences on maximum security prison. She says she knows it’s not the same, but she believes the families of the victims need closure too, and that she’d help them in whatever way she can.

Telling of her down-to-earth kindness: Lena’s most unforgettable moment at work isn’t when she secured the biggest deal of the century when she acquired Pym Technologies, or when she delivered a mic-dropping retort to a sexist comment during a panel discussion at one of L-Corp’s annual conventions. It’s when she babysat one of her employee’s toddler, since she had been pulled in an emergency meeting and she couldn’t call for a sitter.

“I like to think I’m good with kids,” she laughs. “They are better negotiators than most adults, but I did manage to bribe [him] with arts and crafts. His artwork is on my fridge, actually.”

An employee who requested to stay anonymous shares that Lena is of kind brilliance. “She’s [a] good kid. I’ve been in this company for twenty whole years. I’ve seen her grow up. I feel like a proud father sometimes, [when I see] how far she’s taken L-Corp, and it’s only been a year [and a half].”

Telling of her generosity: Lena ensures both of L-Corp’s foundations extend as much help as they can each year. They host the most fundraiser campaigns among all National City companies, and a branch of the Luthor Children’s Hospital is able to provide medical services, completely free of charge, due to her personal efforts. Doctors and nurses testify to seeing her visiting the children almost every week despite her busy schedule.

Ms. Margaret Carter, director of the Luthor Children’s Foundation, gives us a tour of their building, and as she leads us to the library, she shares, “Miss Luthor will insist you call her Lena, and she’d consider that polite. She spends some hours here, before certain fundraiser galas, just to make sure everything is going well. It’s not even for business matters. It’s so she could make sure we keep helping. She’s willing to give her time—and I think we both have an idea how precious time is to a businesswoman like her.”

She reiterates her generosity when she offers me her stratta, despite it being her only meal and the two plates of food I ordered for myself—and sneaks in a phone call to her secretary to clear her next hour just so I could squeeze in more questions. This, from a woman whose hour is worth a couple of million dollars. I feel lucky, but mostly pressured to make the most of Lena’s precious time.

And telling of the fact that she doesn’t know she is all these things: When asked what her least flattering part of her is, she laughs and asks: “What if I can’t pick one?”

Lena bites back a smile. She remembers that part, too. Kara had insisted that it’s impossible to have more than one thing she doesn’t like about herself, even told her to answer your hair, tell me it’s hard to tame in the morning! She answers that she is cruel, as most of her competitors would say, cold and calculating; that she is selfish, wants only the best for L-Corp in terms of business partners and suppliers, and most of all disagreeable—she’s lost count of the people she had offended with her candor and honesty.

And yet, here are people who are saying otherwise. There’s a telltale sting in her eyes, a sign of oncoming tears, but they don’t fall. She chuckles to herself. It’s been so long since she has cried too, and she’s certainly not going to cry over words that tell her she has been good, like she had always hoped for, over the fact that there are people out there that think she is.

There’s more in the article of words that Lena would never in a hundred years think be associated with her, if only because she had no one tell her so. She has been called intelligent, brilliant—the article goes on to talk about her achievements at MIT, how she managed to finish her biological engineering degree in two and a half years, only to venture into electrical engineering and computer science for the rest of the supposed four—but good, kind, generous, someone to be proud of? There’s a first time for everything.

There’s no other mention of Lex, or of her supposed family, just her and all her achievements, and what people think of her, and she feels like she is reading an article about someone else yet again.

The article closes with this is Lena Luthor, beyond just the name, and this will be her legacy, on a page with a photo taken from the back of the auditorium. It captures the crowd standing up for her, Lena in the middle of the stage with a smile that even she could describe as proud.

Lena closes the magazine with a heavy sigh. It feels a little weird, reading about herself in this light—for so long it’s been news following her around and wild guesses on when she would dive into madness—that she would think the article isn’t about her if it weren’t for her name and face on the pages.

She wonders what Kara was thinking, putting all these kinds of words about Lena on those pages. It’s a fluff piece, she knows, and the devil on her shoulder can already imagine the people wondering how much she paid CatCo to have an article like this released.

A part of her—the more hopeful part—likes to think it’d be good for her, for L-Corp. It’s a good opportunity, a step towards her vision.

She calls for Jess as she pulls the folder of documents for signature towards her. Grabbing her pen, she glares at the CatCo magazine, her own face grinning at her, before she looks up at Jess.

“I need help,” she sighs. “What flowers do you send to a friend as thank you?”

//

She doesn’t text Kara after she asks Jess to send the reporter some thank you flowers. It has been the better of couple of hours. There’s an unread message on her phone from the blonde that she doesn’t open on the pretense of being busy because she’s yet to find words to tell Kara.

What would she tell her aside from an endless stream of thanks?

She types out a reply to an email with a sigh and just as she’s changing tabs, she hovers past the bookmark for the professional cuddling website. She bites her lip and debates it. It wouldn’t be too late for Kara to come over because she’s booking in advance; hopefully she has a free night tonight. If she had a session booked already—there’s a bitter taste on her tongue at the thought—then Lena could wait until the next day. As long as she gets to cuddle with Kara.

Would it be weird, a session after she sends a bunch of flowers to Kara’s office? She wonders if there was a handbook on friendships that she could check just to make sure.

It was strange how she had grown to crave those damned cuddles when she had been averse to the idea at first. Still, she finds herself reaching into her memory of strong arms and a warm embrace, and what makes her click the stupid bookmark is the thought of Kara wrapping her arms around her, her voice soft as she talks of the most random of things, her fingers running through Lena’s hair.

She navigates through the website and scrolls down the list of available cities, but her heart stops when she finds there are only two available cuddlers for National City, both men. She frowns and refreshes the page but she is met with the same. She closes the tab and repeats the motions: homepage, available locations, National City.

Still no Kara.

There is frustration that claws against the back of her throat, or was it acid? She glares at her laptop and reaches for her phone, finally opening the message from Kara.

Haaa no he’s mine, but you can come see him anytime :)

There’s a little hope that surges in her chest at the implication, but she still can’t take the unease of not finding Kara’s name on the list of available cuddlers. The frustration bubbles, making her grip her phone too tight, and she stares at it for a couple of moments.

She’s not supposed to feel this disappointed upon learning that her friend isn’t a cuddler anymore. It was more of a job on the side, Kara said, and if she decided to quit, then that’s fine. Lena huffs, but she finds herself scrolling for Kara’s number and calling it. However, as soon it shows Calling Kara Danvers, she ends the call, not really meaning to. She just feels annoyed, somewhat.

She almost jumps when her phone vibrates in her hand. It’s the blonde, her contact photo that of her in penguin pajamas. Lena sighs and sinks into her seat before answering the call.

“Is everything alright?” Kara says instantly as soon as the line connects. Lena finds herself chuckling, free hand reaching out for her laptop and refreshing the cuddler page again. Kara’s profile is still nowhere to be found.

“Yes, yes. Just- I pressed the wrong button.” She bites her lip and hears a breath of relief from the other line. She should apologize for bothering Kara. It’s mid-afternoon after all, and she is probably busy. “I’m—”

“Busy day?” Kara cuts in, and the blonde laughs softly. “Sorry. What were you going to say?”

Lena bites back a smile, shaking her head even though Kara couldn’t see her. “Nothing. It’s- Sorry I wasn’t able to reply earlier. But yeah, busy day.” It’s not exactly a lie.

The blonde hums from the other side. “I can tell. You sound a bit stressed.”

That makes Lena chuckle. “Do I?” She sits up a bit and hesitates before speaking again. “It’s been a stressful week or so. I was… I was actually about to book a session but you’re- you’re not on the site anymore?” God, she hopes that didn’t come out as a whine.

Kara lets out a soft squeak as a reply, like she has been caught. It makes Lena frown again. “Oh yeah. I, uh. I quit, actually,” the blonde answers.

“Oh.” Lena’s reply is quick, soft, disappointed. She bites her lip and shakes her head, trying to tell herself that she has no right to be—Kara is her own person, after all, and just because they’re friends doesn’t mean she can ask her to- to- unquit.

“Yeah. Sorry, I was going to tell you.” There’s a beep from the other line and murmuring that Lena hears. “You are at your office, right?” Kara asks.

The CEO nods. “I- Yes. Why?”

“Okay, I know I probably should have asked first,” Kara laughs. “But I got too excited and I already got the donuts so I’m just going to hope that you have at least three minutes, tops, free?”

Lena furrows her eyebrows as she sits up straighter. A new email pops on her inbox and she ignores it. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, Kara,” she says with a slight laugh, confused. “What are you-”

A knock cuts her off. Lena looks up to see Jess at her office doorway. “Miss Luthor. You have a visitor.”

Lena covers the mic of her phone and frowns at her secretary. “I’m in the middle of a call. Can you pl—”

“Lena?”

The businesswoman pulls her phone away from her ear and stares at it. That was Kara. She heard Kara. Why does she sound so clear and close?

“Kara?” She says to her phone. There’s laughter that she hears from both the device and somewhere nearby. She drags her gaze from the phone to her door. There she is, all radiant laughter, her own phone against her ear.

“So you do let walk-ins,” Kara says as a way of greeting. She waves at Lena with the hand holding the phone before the CEO hears a beep from her own, indicating the end of the call.

Lena is stunned, to say the least. She blinks slowly at the blonde who walks in as Jess closes the office door. “Hi,” the blonde says with a small smile. “I just- well—”

“You’re here,” Lena finally breathes out. A disbelieving laugh escapes her lips and Lena stands, immediately walking to Kara, and she almost, almost scoops Kara into a hug despite her not being a touchy person. The urge makes Lena pause, a step or two away from Kara, and she clasps her hand in front of her. “What are you doing here?”

Kara grins widely, yet again, and she’s a sun that lights up Lena’s bright but otherwise sullen room. She lifts up the paper bag and the bunch of pink and red flowers in her arms. “So my office is overflowing with flowers,” she says, almost shyly as she looks down at the bouquet in her arms.

Lena’s gaze flicks to the mentioned arrangement. She chuckles softly. So maybe she had gone a little further the usual way and bought out three whole flower shops. She wanted to cover all her bases—Jess wasn’t able to answer her directly with what flowers to send, and she wanted to make sure at least one would be able to deliver—and really, it’s the only way to convey her gratitude. Still, she quirks a curious eyebrow. “Really?”

The reporter laughs. It’s light, playful, and Lena’s frustration about the cuddler website is quickly fading away. “You didn’t have to, you know,” Kara murmurs as she puts the bouquet on the coffee table.

Lena walks around the table to sit on the couch. She pats the space beside her for Kara to sit down. “Yeah, I did,” she whispers as she glances at the flowers. The pink roses she can identify, but the other flower in the bunch is unfamiliar—it has light pink petals, the tips bright pink and red like they’re dipped in paint. She makes a mental note to ask the shops what those are because they looked pretty.

She glances at Kara to see the blonde’s gaze fixed on her. Her words stutter on her throat at that, but she reminds herself that she should say thank you now. Thank you for the faith, the kind words, but the words don’t come, not with blue eyes set on her like Kara is looking into her soul and Lena is captivated like a sailor to a siren in the sea.

“I- I brought donuts, like I promised before,” Kara blurts out, pulling her gaze away to take the paper bag she placed beside her. She lifts it and grins brightly at Lena. “You eat donuts, right?”

This shakes Lena from her reverie. She laughs, light like the way Kara beamed, and nods. “Well. I am human.” She takes the offered paper bag and opens it, smile widening when she sees two glazed donuts in it, plus two strawberry-frosted ones with sprinkles pinker than the roses on the table. “I’m going to guess the strawberry ones are yours because they do scream Kara—but how did you know this is my favorite?” She asks, as she takes one plain donut out of the bag before handing it back to Kara. She pinches a morsel and brings it to her lips, just as the blonde takes her frosted donut and takes a sizeable bite. Lena finds herself chuckling around the sweet treat in her mouth.

“I asked Jess,” Kara answers while chewing, and she swallows at the warning glance thrown her way. She offers Lena a sheepish grin. “Sorry. But yeah, we’re friends now.”

“Explains why she so easily let you in,” Lena muses.

Kara laughs. “I’m a charmer, what can I say.”

“Oh I know,” Lena shoots back easily. Kara doesn’t reply, just smiles and takes another bite of her donut. The CEO plucks a piece of her own and takes it in her mouth, chewing and swallowing before she’s speaking again. “So. You were going to tell me?”

Kara jolts at the reminder and she nods fervently at Lena. “Yeah. About that, um. I quit the cuddling thing because, well.” She shrugs and Lena bites back the disappointment yet again. “I don’t have clients anymore and as far as extra income go, well, I don’t think I need it anymore. I kind of… Got a raise last week?” Kara continues shyly.

Lena manages to push back her sulking to grin proudly at her friend. “Hey, congrats. See, you totally deserved the flowers.”

The blonde looks down on her lap and smiles. “Anyway. Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. They just told me that they only pulled my profile today, and I wanted to tell you in person, I guess, since… You know.” Kara waves the hand holding her donut. “That’s kind of- of how we met, and…” She trails off, puffing her cheeks and furrowing her eyebrows. There’s the crinkle in her forehead that makes Lena smile.

“You don’t have to explain,” Lena says. And Kara doesn’t. She’s her own individual, and though Lena supposes she has to go back to touch-starved days again, she’ll manage.

“I know, I know,” Kara chuckles. “But still. You- You checked the website though? I’m sorry, did you want—”

“It’s fine, Kara,” the other woman interrupts. She doesn’t think it’s a want at this point, to be held, but more of a need, but she doesn’t voice that. Instead, she shrugs. “Congratulations again, really. The next thing you know, you’re not a junior reporter anymore and I’ll have someone else getting the latest scoop on L-Corp,” she jokes.

Kara blinks at her, then snorts. “I’d choose to interview you still,” she says, and Lena thinks she’s blushing. “I mean, because you’re cool and all. And we’re friends! It’s like having a normal, regular conversation and not like I’m- I’m interviewing a hotshot celebrity even if I really am.”

Lena manages a chuckle at that. She does think having a conversation with a friend is better than being assaulted with invasive questions from strangers, though that is essentially part of her job description. Still, Kara is a breath of fresh air and she’d take her in for as long as she’s allowed.

They eat their donuts over light chatter until there’s a knock on the door. Jess informs her that her next meeting is waiting for her in the boardroom. Lena looks guiltily at Kara but the reporter dismisses the concern.

“It’s totally fine, I mean, I did drop by unannounced. Here, you can keep the donuts. Sugar rush for when whoever you’re meeting drains you of energy.” Kara grins and heads to the door, but before she walks out, she stops and turns to Lena. She pushes her glasses up the bridge of her nose, biting her lip, and the CEO has to clutch the paper bag in her hand so it doesn’t fall to the floor. “Would you- I mean, if you’re not busy, later t-tonight, do you want to, you know, maybe- maybe hang out? It’s- It’s the rain check I promised, and if you were booking a session—” Kara pauses mid-rant to frown, then huffs. “Wait, you might not actually be free because the schedules on the site are for a full week so you totally can say no but I was wondering if you wanted to come over to, uh, my place? We can get Chinese and watch some movie or something, play with Krypto, and, um. Stuff.”

In reality, Lena could’ve said yes after Kara’s first sentence, but it was adorable to watch the woman stumble through her invitation to come over, like she’s nervous she has inconvenienced Lena. The thought makes her chuckle. If anything, she’s the one worried she is imposing herself on Kara’s time. Lena smiles warmly as she puts the paper bag of donuts on her table and grabs her laptop. “Text me your address? I promise not to kidnap Krypto, too.”

Kara laughs, the sound stilted but relieved, and she nods. “Sure thing. Just come over whenever, let me know what you want to eat and I can order, too.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Lena promises. “Let me walk you out.”

“Okay. But don’t buy from Lee’s, alright?” The blonde mumbles. Kara opens the door wider for Lena and the CEO giggles as she walks out. “Please. I don’t think I can enjoy the food. As much, anyway,” Kara adds.

Lena laughs. “I won’t, promise.” She gestures to the direction of the boardroom with one hand as she pulls her laptop close to her with her other arm. “My meeting’s this way. I guess I’ll see you tonight?”

Kara grins, bright and warm, and she waits for a moment before she’s stepping back and rushing to the elevator. Lena smiles as she watches her, and the blonde gives her a waggle of her fingers as goodbye as the doors close. The CEO laughs again. There are traces of her glee on her lips as she walks into the boardroom that stuns the men in suits, and she savors their reaction before she smacks them on their faces with almost harsh professionalism.

//

Lena gets distracted enough during the two-hour meeting—Lord, and they say women can’t make up their minds?—so it’s almost time for her to leave when she remembers Kara’s offer. It makes her completely forget about her earlier frustration of not being able to book a session—this is a friend thing, not some service provided to her, and even if it means she doesn’t get to cuddle with Kara like she had prior hoped, she’d take it.

There are three texts from Kara when she checks her phone. One is of her address, another telling her that she’s home, and the third is a picture of Krypto—a blurred one, yet again, of white fur and pink lolling tongue—with the caption I told him you’re coming over!!!

She asks Frank to drive her to Cho’s—the man had come to know National City like the back of his hand, after all—and Lena is pleased to find that it’s quite lovely for a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It’s not as full as she expected. She’s greeted by an old Chinese woman who takes her order, and as soon as she mentions she’s getting two of the largest serving they had of potstickers, the woman chuckles.

“You a friend of Kara?” The woman asks. Lena quirks an eyebrow but nods. “I can give you the usual set. For two?”

Lena laughs lightly at that and accepts with another nod. She is told to wait for a couple of minutes, after which she is handed a large paper bag, much like the first time Kara had taken food from this place during their session. She pays and thanks the woman then leaves with a text to Kara that she’s on her way.

She goes up the apartment building—it’s old, the elevator rickety, but she tries not to judge. She pads to Kara’s apartment door and knocks. There’s an excited bark and a thud, and two seconds later the door is ripped open and Kara is beaming at her, and there’s a furball darting around her heels.

“Hello to you two,” Lena laughs softly, just as Kara greets her with “Hi! You made it!”

“I did. I bring sustenance,” she proclaims, lifting the paper bag. The blonde takes it excitedly and tells Lena to come in. The raven-haired woman does, but not before picking up Krypto in her arms. The puppy is practically vibrating, his tail wagging wildly. “Hey buddy, how have you been?” She asks, scratching his belly as she carries him like a baby in her arms.

“Feel at home,” Kara says, and Lena follows her voice to see her taking the containers out of the paper bag with a wide grin. “Sorry if it’s not as swanky as your apartment.”

Lena rolls her eyes playfully as she takes in Kara’s apartment. It’s a spacious studio, homey, and feels lived in—a stark contrast to either of Lena’s own. Tall glass windows lined one side, plain white curtains over them, and her choice of furniture is lovely and classic.  The lights are dimmed, but from where she stands by the door she can see everything—the kitchen where Kara flurries about, the living room, and the bedroom, only concealed by a set of bookshelves and another plain curtain. Her couch looks softer and more comfortable than Lena’s own bed in her main apartment. Lena pats Krypto’s head before putting him back down to help Kara with preparing their dinner. The puppy barks and skips around, paws making soft sounds on the hardwood floors.

“It’s a lovely home,” she says sincerely, and Kara beams at her.

“Thank you. I got it at a sweet rate from Mrs. Needleberg. She’s my landlady,” Kara explains. The blonde glares at her when she tries to reach for a chopstick and Lena raises her hands in defense.

“What did I do?” She asks.

Kara points to the sink. “I love Krypto, but you gotta wash your hands before dinner.”

Lena chuckles. “Hygienic. Sexy,” she teases, and Kara rolls her eyes playfully.

“Come on. I’ll bring food to the living room, I have a Disney movie playing.”

Lena laughs and washes her hands as told. She notices the penguin mug on the drying rack and smiles. Kara must really like penguins then. The thought makes her pause. Maybe she can get something penguin-related for Kara as thank you, since surely they don’t allow them as pets.

She walks to the living room where Kara had set up, the different plates of food on the coffee table and the blonde sitting on the floor, chopsticks already in her hand. “Come on,” Kara invites, pointing to the plate of what looks like shrimp. “How did you get these deshelled? Auntie Cho’s never gives them away deshelled to just anyone.”

Lena shrugs and toes off her heels, picking them up and setting them on the floor beside the couch. Thankfully she chose to wear slacks and a loose blouse today, though Kara looks more comfortable in her sweatpants and a white, fitting shirt that, now that Lena is looking, is rather very attractive on the blonde.

The CEO blushes lightly at the thought and shrugs as she forces her gaze towards the plate. “I- I don’t know, actually. I ordered and she asked if I was your friend. I said yes and she said she’ll ‘give me the usual set.’”

Kara laughs at that and pats the space on the floor beside her. Krypto stumbles near Kara but he doesn't jump to her lap, instead settles beside her on the floor with a small woof. “Oh. Gotcha. That makes sense. I’m their only customer that gets two orders of potstickers all the time—which is weird because their potstickers are the best —and after I made Alex and Winn order for me, they finally got the drift.”

“That you order the same things in the same massive amounts?” Lena quips, raising an eyebrow as she sits on the floor beside Kara. She glances at the serving of potstickers and she curses. Apparently, Auntie Cho’s largest order is twenty-four pieces, and she ordered for two. The blonde laughs and hands the CEO a pair of chopsticks.

“I have a pretty big, boring appetite. Here, try this,” Kara says, and the next thing Lena knows a piece of shrimp is offered for her. The raven-haired woman blinks at it, then looks at Kara, but the blonde is just looking at her expectantly. “Aaah,” she says as she opens her mouth for Lena to mimic. The woman obeys and opens her mouth, and Kara places it in her mouth. The taste settles on her tongue, warm and savory, but it’s Kara’s lips that she notices, pink and curved into a satisfied smile.

“Good, right? Best salt-and-pepper shrimp in the city,” the blonde says, before she’s taking a potsticker and dipping it on soy.

“You’re a food critic too?” Lena teases when she has swallowed, to which Kara laughs.

“You can say that.” The reporter reaches for the remote and presses play, and the opening credits for a Disney film.

“What are we watching?” Lena asks. She leans up to get the bowl of lo mein, and when she sits back down she finds that her knee brushes just enough against Kara’s. She bites her lip but keeps her eyes on the screen.

“Mulan,” Kara says with a serious look on her face. Lena just hums. Kara doesn’t seem to like that reaction. “You have seen it before, right?”

When the CEO shakes her head, Kara gasps, rather dramatically. Lena laughs at the reaction. “I suppose that’s not the right answer. But it’s good that I haven’t watched it, right?”

“But that means you can’t sing along!” Kara exclaims.

It’s Lena’s turn to look serious. “It’s a musical ?”

//

It turns out, it is. It’s obvious that Kara is stopping herself from singing along to the songs—with much effort too, Lena notices. She mouths along to the lyrics, which Lena finds quite adorable, and it only distracts the CEO the tiniest bit, but she did watch the movie. They had finished their dinner, barely , and for the most part it was Kara who had done the eating. Their empty plates are stacked up on the coffee table.

When Grandmother Fa quips sign me up for the next war, Lena laughs heartily, more than she had laughed in the earlier funny parts of the movie. She doesn’t notice Kara grinning at her proudly, but she does hear her phone’s muffled ring in her purse. She excuses herself to take it out, and all laughter drains from her when she reads the caller ID.

Lillian.

It has been a long time since Lillian had called, and an even longer time since Lena had answered. It’s not because she didn’t want to talk to her—she did, she’s still her mother, after all, even if Lillian hadn’t really been anything but an authoritative figure in her life, and she would gladly give her time to the older woman if only to listen to how she’s been doing the past year or so ever since Lex, her favorite child, had been taken to prison. Is she eating well? Has she been sleeping? Her emails mention her current locations and happenings therein, but not much else.

Lena still wants to know, even if she doesn’t reply to those quite detached updates, because even if Lillian can’t bring herself to care, Lena does.

Except, the concern she feels is laced with fear—fear that if she shows even an inkling of care towards Lillian, the woman would exploit it like she did when Lena was younger and eager to please. Fear that Lillian would give in and finally say the words she only ever implied; fear of the uncertainty of what Lena would feel when she does so. Would Lena care about what she thinks? Would it break Lena?

She fears the answer is yes, because despite everything she is supposed to have achieved, the only thing she ever hoped for was a sliver of approval from her mother.

“I- I have to take this,” she murmurs as she quickly stands, missing the way Kara’s expression turns worried. Lena pads to the farther part of Kara’s apartment, the tall windows near the door, and answers the call with a shaky breath.

“Mother,” she greets, her voice meek.

“I read about your Biomax launch,” Lillian says as a form of greeting. It’s detached, like her emails, like always, and Lena keeps the sigh she wanted to release, instead cradles her forehead with her free hand.

“Is this the part where I try to fish for a compliment?” She asks dryly.

There’s a scoff from the other line. “Must you always bring bitterness into our calls?”

Lena sighs. “Why did you call?”

There’s only silence for a couple of moments, then shuffling from the other line. Lena pulls aside the curtains in front of her and looks out. They’re high enough for her to peek at the city, lights over the dark horizon. She wonders what time it is.

“I wanted to congratulate you,” Lillian finally says. Her voice is soft and tentative. Lena blinks, unsure if she heard the right words. Is she hallucinating? Did her mother just say she’s congratulating her? “It’s a feat, what you’ve done.”

The words I’m proud of you echo in Lena’s head in a voice she can’t recognize. She can’t find a reply to say to that, what with the surge of a foreign emotion in her chest, the sting in her eyes. She swallows thickly.

“Th-thank you,” she replies just as softly. There’s silence again, and Lena thinks this is the most civil conversation they have had.

“Well,” Lillian says, and it’s laced with a heavy sigh, and if Lena listened more closely, she’d hear traces of something akin to emotion in her mother’s voice that’s as foreign as the hint of warmth she feels in her chest. “It’s quite late here and I have a meeting early tomorrow.”

Lena clears her throat. “Of course, mother. I’m sorry for taking your time.” The apology comes easily, like it always has, and Lillian’s reply is a small hum of acknowledgement that almost sounds like a protest.

“Good night, Lena,” her mother says before the call ends. Lena laughs listlessly and pulls back her phone to stare it at.

“Good night, mother,” she murmurs.

It’s then that she notices the tears, streaking hot tracks down her pale cheeks. She jumps when she feels a hand on the small of her back, and she turns to see Kara looking at her worriedly.

“Are you- How are you feeling?” Kara asks hesitantly. Lena quickly wipes away her tears with the back of her hand, trying to compose herself as much as she could with the blonde staring at her like that. She nods and smiles, though it feels forced.

“It’s- I’m fine, I’m fine,” she murmurs. A light laugh escapes her lips, humorless, and Kara frowns at her. The hand on the small of her back is still there, as if anchoring her, and that blue gaze is intense, worried. Lena bites her lip and sighs. “That was my mother.”

Kara nods, though her forehead is still creased with concern. The city lights are reflected on her glasses, like stars over the horizon. Lena falters and she looks away. Her eyes sting yet again and when another tear trails down her cheek, she only clutches her phone in both hands. Lillian’s voice echoes in her head, words almost similar to those she had craved for all of twenty years actually spoken to her.

She feels…something she can’t quantify yet. It isn’t quite like the accomplishment or satisfaction of finally getting what she had wanted for years, not with the disbelief and doubt that surrounds it—did Lillian mean it? Was she just saying that? She doesn’t know. Still, the words mean something to her, and it cracks open the feelings she had kept for so long: the disappointment in herself that she had carried for years, the resentment, the bitterness and the anger.

The crippling feeling of solitude and worthlessness that had plagued her for so long.

She covers the sob that escapes her mouth with the hand that isn’t holding her phone with a death grip, but warm arms are pulling her towards an even warmer body and Lena finds her face cradled in the soft crook of Kara’s neck. There’s an arm around her waist, a hand on her hair, a soothing voice in her ear like the soft waves of the sea when she would run away to the pier, back when she was in boarding school, all alone except for that homeless man and his cheap whiskey.

Even then, Lena hadn’t cried. It was a sign of weakness, she had been taught—by Lillian, of course—and she barely shed a tear when she broke up with Jack. It’s mortifying that after all those years of her well-kept control and carefully-mastered skill of holding back tears, here she is, crying on the shoulder of perhaps the best and only friend she’s ever had. The feeling is cathartic and so are the tears—manifestation of all the feelings she had boxed up inside in an attempt to not be weak.

And Kara is just there, holding her as she cries, the stars of the city perhaps still on her glasses and her eyes. She doesn’t know how long they stay like that, Lena’s hands tucked between her body and Kara’s, the blonde’s warmth and comforting words in her ear, but her tears finally subside. Hiccups wrack her chest and she laughs wetly.

“I’m- I’m so sorry,” Lena sniffles as she pulls back. Her cheeks are wet, her nose runny, and when she squints she sees a wet spot on the pristine whiteness of Kara’s shirt. She frowns and absently brushes her fingers over it. “You must think I’m terrible, crying about this on your rather lovely shirt.”

Kara laughs and Lena feels the embrace she is in loosen, but the other woman doesn’t pull back. Lena looks up and sure enough, there it was: Kara’s blue gaze and city lights on her glasses. There’s an urge to remove them if only to look into her eyes, really look, let the blue of her oceans pull her in because she’s a sailor willing to drown. Especially right now. Kara smiles at her.

“I don’t mind,” Kara whispers. Lena shakes with the remnants of her tears. There’s a warm hand on her cheek and she swallows when she feels the soft brush of Kara’s thumb against her skin, wiping away her tears, and she’s glad she’s wearing waterproof mascara because she would have been a horrible sight. “I for one think you’re even more beautiful like this,” Kara continues.

There’s a rush that Lena feels, that makes her fingertips tingle with something against the damp material of Kara’s shirt. Blue eyes widen minutely and there is color that dusts Kara’s cheeks. “I- I mean, like, people, in general, are- are more beautiful when they’re all raw and vulnerable and- yeah.” She laughs in the soft, awkwardly endearing way Lena is growing familiar with.

“Now you’re just trying to make me feel better,” Lena shoots back. Her throat feels scratchy from crying. Kara chuckles.

“I’ll get you water, okay?” She offers as she pulls away slightly. Lena feels the cold creep in too soon. “Do you want to lie down?”

The CEO shakes her head. “I’m good,” she assures, giving Kara a small smile. The blonde nods and she reluctantly pulls away before walking to the kitchen to get Lena a drink. The raven-haired woman pads back to the couch where she sits. She puts her phone on the coffee table and stares at it for a couple of moments, and she jumps when a glass of water is handed her way.

Kara’s laughter is music, like the bells of a buoy on a stormy sea, her smile disarming, distracting, that Lena for a moment forgets why she’s giving her a glass of water.

“Drink up, we don’t want you dehydrated,” she murmurs with concern. Lena accepts it with a smile and sips the water, not even noticing how thirsty she had gotten. She hands the empty glass back to Kara and sighs, still staring at her phone.

The couch dips beside her when Kara sits, and she looks up at the blonde who is still wearing the same concerned expression on her face. The warmth is back, what with Kara sitting close enough that their thighs brush. Lena smiles.

“You have questions, I assume,” she muses. Kara flusters and opens her mouth, presumably to refute the accusation, but she sighs and nods.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” She hesitates, then turns on her seat, folding one leg under her so she’s facing Lena. The businesswoman feels a warm hand on her knee—it’s polite, comforting, and she doesn’t feel the need to pull away. “As long as you’re feeling better now?”

Lena feels the unfamiliar shudder of tears wrack her lungs again. She nods slightly and glances at her phone. “Yeah,” she murmurs, before she fixes her attention on Kara. “I’m sorry, again, for- for breaking down like that.”

Kara shrugs and squeezes Lena’s knee. “We all need a good cry here and then.”

It makes Lena chuckle. “I guess that’s twenty years overdue.” The hand on her knee freezes on its firm grip. It doesn’t hurt, just enough for Lena to be aware of the touch, and she smiles sadly at Kara. “Are you going to tell me crying helps humans thrive, too?” She asks, remembering the first time when Kara had frowned at her admission that she hadn’t had human touch in so long.

Kara pauses, sighs. When she speaks it’s like she’s treading on a careful path, one that she has walked on many times. “It keeps us from breaking. Well, breaking to the point of no return, anyway,” she murmurs. “Holding feelings inside is a little suffocating, don’t you think?”

It makes Lena wonder how familiar Kara is with sadness: her sun, all smiles and bright demeanor, seemingly well-acquainted with sadness. The thought of it makes her heart ache.

“You don’t think it’s a sign of weakness?” Lena asks. It’s curious, gentle, in need of validation.

Kara shrugs. She scoots closer to Lena, and before she could ask Kara is leaning her head against her shoulder. She thinks her heart stutters at the action; Kara is warm, so warm, and she almost forgets what she asked. “I think it’s brave, accepting that you have moments of weakness. It’s courageous to face your fears, and it doesn’t hurt to wholly embrace your humanity every now and then, even if it’s just for a while.”

She shifts, and when Lena turns her head slightly, Kara’s face is there—close, too close, and she could count the blonde’s eyelashes and see the dark blue specks in the ocean of her eyes. Kara smiles at her as she continues. “Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, nor is asking for help. I think it makes us stronger, in the long run.” Lena feels the chuckle Kara breathes out. “You know. Stronger together.”

Stronger together. She mulls over the words in silence. She hasn’t really entertained such thought for a long time—she has been independent for so long, and even back then with Jack she had remained closed off and it had taken a long time for her to open up to him. Kara’s words seem like an offer though: for help, for company, for friendship.

She must have fallen in quiet for too long because the next thing she knows, Kara is pulling away and standing. Lena looks at her as she offers her hand. “Cuddles?” She asks, and Lena’s cheeks flare with a blush. Kara grins. “You can say no.”

The CEO chuckles. “I don’t have cash on me,” she jokes.

“I’m offering as a friend, silly,” the blonde says, and she pushes her hand towards Lena again. “Please? If not for you, for me.” Kara’s voice goes softer and when she meets her gaze, it’s more open and unguarded than usual, blue gaze like frozen lakes reflecting the sky and ready to break.  Lena thinks she’s even more beautiful like this, so perhaps Kara is right—vulnerability puts people in another light—and perhaps, their connection is beyond just Lena being the moon and Kara, her sun. Perhaps they are more alike than she had imagined. Maybe Kara is lonely too, in some ways, though she can’t really fathom the idea that her bubbly, radiant friend could be as lonely as her. Kara’s lips quirk up into a smile, but there’s no cheer in it—like she understands what Lena is thinking.

The raven-haired woman glances at Kara’s hand before finally taking it. Kara pulls her to the direction of the bedroom. It isn’t as big as Lena’s but it feels so much cozier. Almost as if it feels like home—or at least, the idea she has of it.

It’s odd, how easily the motions come to her, like she’s done it so many times before though in reality she could count them in one hand. She watches Kara slide under the covers and open her arms for Lena, and the businesswoman clambers into bed with her. Kara pulls her close and Lena lets her, having craved it for so long despite her most adamant denial. She sinks into Kara’s warmth and Kara just hums, as if content to hold Lena like this.

She wonders what she did to deserve a friend like Kara, or what price she has to pay in the future for the time she spends with her, but she pushes the thought for later contemplation. She vaguely remembers how Jack had hoped for her to choose happiness this time.

Maybe this is happiness here, the hint of pride in Lillian’s words swimming in her thoughts, her in the arms of the best person and friend she has ever known. There’s no shame in choosing happiness then, perhaps, not when it feels like a decision that’s both easy and right.

A multitude of hours—Lena has forgotten how many had passed, had forgotten to count in the haze of work and texts and photos from Kara—into this friendship with Kara Danvers, with Lena still in her work clothes and their used plates still out there on the coffee table, their conversation lulled into silence except for their even breaths and little, satisfied hums every now and then, they reach a new milestone: Lena’s first sleepover ever, on an unfamiliar bed, in friendly arms, tear stains on her cheeks and Kara’s heartbeat against her ear. The blonde whispers just rest, I’ll be here, and Lena succumbs to sleep with the thought that friendship is such a lovely thing and Kara, even lovelier.

Chapter Text

There is warmth that Lena feels as consciousness tugs at the cobwebs of dreams she has settled into. She stirs. In the months after her break up with Jack, she has woken up to a cold, lonely bed, so it’s surprising to wake up to warmth. She blinks away sleep, focuses. She’s facing an unfamiliar window, all glass and plain white curtains. The sun is up but it isn’t too bright yet, its rays the soft kind that could only indicate early morning. She feels an arm over her waist, warm breath against the back of her shoulder, hears light snoring. She blinks again, looks down at the arm over her, and sees a ball of white curled up against her belly.

Krypto. 

Memories of last night filter to her mind, gentle like the way the sunlight peers through the window. Slow mornings like this are rare for her, so Lena doesn’t move too soon, just shifts her legs slightly under the sheets. She feels warm feet brush against hers, only notices after a few moments that she has changed from her work clothes to a soft, slightly larger tee that has a penguin patch instead of a breast pocket, along with some sleep shorts, both Kara’s. She reaches out to pat Krypto’s head. The puppy stirs awake at that. Lena murmurs an apology but Krypto just yawns, shakes himself, then makes his way to the pillows—walks over Lena’s hair, even—before settling against Kara’s head. Lena chuckles softly.

Lena remembers falling asleep while cuddling with Kara, then waking up sometime after. Kara had apparently been awake the whole time and she apologized for putting Krypto up on the bed—the puppy was curled up between them, just like the first time Kara had brought him during their sessions. Lena said it was fine and apologized for falling asleep, told Kara that she should head home, but the blonde insisted that it was late and she should just stay over. The businesswoman didn’t put up much of a fight; exhaustion seeped into her bones, her eyes stung, and it was with less hesitation and more of sleepiness that she accepted Kara’s offered change of clothes and a guest toothbrush.

It was while brushing her teeth that she realized she should just take Kara’s couch, not wanting to impose herself on the blonde. She came back to the bedroom with Kara playing catch with Krypto. Lena was about to ask her for a pillow so she could head to the couch, but Kara only picked up Krypto, bounced to the middle of the bed, and opened her arms for Lena like it was the easiest thing to do.

Lena blamed her tiredness last night for just accepting the offered cuddles. Sleep claimed her soon, and she doesn’t remember much of her dreams.

She still thinks she’s dreaming, with this warmth surrounding her, and she finally turns in Kara’s arms to look at the blonde. Her mouth is slightly open and she is snoring. Lena chuckles to herself. She notices the smattering of freckles over her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, stars that bare themselves against the sky that is Kara’s pale skin—she realizes Kara isn’t wearing her glasses and she bites her lip, feeling the urge all over again to look into those blue eyes, just once, without those barriers.

There’s a feeling that tugs in her chest and her fingers twitch. She lets her gaze linger, almost as if committing this to memory, before she’s rolling out of bed. The cold quickly catches up to her and Kara grumbles in her sleep, tugging the blankets close to her. Lena figures she’s a blanket hog, and it’s a wonder she wasn’t left to the cold night. The CEO yawns and stretches; that seems to wake Krypto again, and he pads to the edge of the bed then wags his tail up at Lena.

The woman chuckles and puts him on the floor. He seems to have grown bigger now, she thinks. He follows her as she makes her way out to the kitchen. She looks around. Kara at least has the basic pantry needs, though Lena had assumed she lived on takeouts—Auntie Cho’s, mostly. She shakes her head in amusement at her assumption. Checking the fridge, Lena finds some eggs and bacon, and there’s pancake mix in the cupboard too, and it’s easy to figure out what she’d make for breakfast as thanks for Kara.

Checking the time on her phone and her scheduled meetings for the day, she estimates she has half an hour to make breakfast, another half to go home and shower, another half to get to her office just in time for her first meeting with an Oliver Queen. She texts Frank to pick her up from her apartment in an hour.

She folds the sleeves of the shirt until her shoulders then gets to work, starting with the eggs. She doesn’t know how Kara likes them so she makes a sunny-side up and a scrambled one. Krypto is watching her from the floor, and when she starts on the bacon he yelps and runs in a circle.

“Are you even allowed bacon at your age?” Lena laughs. “I’m going to guess Kara gives you some, so I’m going to be the bad cop.”

The puppy whines at that and he sits, looks up at Lena with wide eyes. The raven-haired woman casts him a glance then shakes her head, removing the bacon strips from the pan and putting them on paper towels. She gives Krypto another look. He yelps.

It annoys her how she easily gives in, pinching a small portion of the bacon before handing it to him. He eats it in one go.

“This is the last time,” she mumbles. She washes her hands and returns to her task, making pancakes this time, and when she’s done she looks in the fridge for some fruit juice—there’s a lot of beer, surprisingly, and also soda, Chinese leftovers of course, and Lena finally finds a box of orange juice tucked behind some food containers. She checks the expiry date—in a week, she should leave a note on the fridge for Kara to see—and pours some on the glass. She puts it on the table along with the plate of eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Humming when all is done well, she picks up her clothes from the couch and changes quickly. Two minutes to her scheduled leaving, she takes Kara’s clothes with her in her bag, and two minutes past her schedule she’s walking back to the bedroom to find Kara curled up in the middle of the bed under her sheets.

Lena chuckles and sits beside her. “Kara,” she murmurs, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. The blonde groans. “Hey Kara,” she tries again. “I have to go.”

Kara hums and stirs. Blonde hair is over her eyes but Lena manages a peek through them as Kara blinks. “Lena,” she rasps, voice laced with sleep. She clears her throat and runs her hand through her hair—and there they are, blue eyes hazy with sleep but still so bright, like the sea on the morning of a storm. Lena swallows; the urge to see Kara’s eyes without her glasses has been fulfilled, but now, there’s another one that replaces it—the urge to just look into them. “What time is it?” Kara mumbles as she sits up.

“A little past seven,” Lena answers. Kara yawns and stretches, and Lena has to look away so she doesn’t look at the sliver of skin exposed when her shirt lifts up. “But I have a meeting shortly,” she adds as she stands. “I- I made you breakfast, as thank you.”

Kara smiles at her. It’s sleepy, cozy, warm. There’s an urge to return to bed, for just five more minutes. “You didn’t have to,” the blonde murmurs.

Lena smiles back at her. “I wanted to. I do have to go though, otherwise I’ll be late. I have to go home and change.”

The blonde nods. “No problem. Want me to drive you home?”

“It’s no problem,” Lena insists. “I wouldn’t want to impose, and you just woke up.”

Kara looks like she wants to refute that but she yawns. Lena feels one tug at her too but she fights it. Kara stands from the bed. “Okay. You take care, please. Let me walk you out?”

The businesswoman chuckles at that. “Sure.”

They walk past the breakfast waiting for Kara—she beams at it, all bright and delightful and contagious—then the blonde opens the door for her. Krypto is by Kara’s feet, wagging his tail at Lena.

“Text me when you get home and to your office?” Kara says softly, like she’s...self-concious about asking. Lena just feels warm all over again at her concern, and she nods.

“Of course,” Lena promises. “Thank you again.”

Kara smiles at her, then sways, and just as Lena is about to leave, Kara reaches out, but stops short of grabbing Lena’s wrist.

“Can I- Will you—” Kara bites her lip. “Can I send you off with a hug?” 

That catches Lena off-guard. She blinks. That’s a thing friends do, right? And after Kara’s hospitality last night, it’s the least she can do. She appreciates that Kara had asked, too, and Lena realizes she is taking too much time overthinking because Kara smiles politely, sadly, but before she could take her offer back Lena moves and pulls the blonde into a hug. It’s awkward, considering she’s not one to initiate actions like this, but Kara melts and sighs against her.

“Good luck,” Kara murmurs. Lena feels her breath tickle her neck. She realizes she hasn’t showered yet.

“Thank you,” the businesswoman says as she pulls back. Kara is grinning again and she nods, waves at Lena as she leaves.

“Have a lovely day!” Kara calls out. There is lingering warmth on the folds of Lena’s clothes, the curve of her shoulder where Kara had tucked her head against, and she thinks she still feels the way Kara’s arms tightened around her just before she pulled away.

She thinks she’s already having a lovely day.

She takes a cab home and texts Kara as soon as she arrives. Kara replies with a picture of the breakfast Lena had prepared captioned with I feel like a princess and several happy emojis that makes Lena smile.

//

The meeting with Oliver Queen had gone fine, Lena tells Kara through text. She is in her office, going through her news subscriptions and alerts, and stumbles through a shady website that disparages the article written about Lena and angles it as a PR piece in line with their Biomax launch. It also accuses Kara Danvers and CatCo Worldwide Media as “paid-for lie factories.” It makes Lena purse her lips. She resists the urge to look into the website—it’s clearly a fake news site, a desperate attempt to discredit companies and people like her—but her annoyance lingers. She checks her phone. She has a reminder for a meeting in half an hour and a message from Kara.

I think I just received my first hate mail. This is both cool and sad.

Lena’s frown deepens at that. Hate mail? Kara Danvers is entirely too kind and too nice for anything hateful. What do you mean?, she replies. She glances on her laptop, clicks back to the fake news website. Her phone buzzes again.

It’s an anonymous email sent to my work account, asking how much you paid me for the article.

So it’s not just the website. Lena sighs. She didn’t think about the consequences that Kara would be facing after writing an article like that about Lena Luthor. She isn’t someone without enemies or competition, after all. She rubs her temples and sighs, feeling guilt creep into her gut.

I’m sorry about that, she sends, then types I should’ve insisted that you don’t write it, stares at it for a long time because she feels Kara needs a better apology—in person, too, preferably, but before she could send it and ask if Kara is free for some time, her messages comes in.

Don’t be sorry, please.

And don’t tell me you should’ve insisted that I don’t write it. That was my choice, and my editor approved it!

Whoever sent this is just bitter, honestly. “Other more deserving men” psssh how telling of them. This is sexism.

Lena narrows her eyes at that. There’s a similarity between a phrase she read from the fake news website and this excerpt Kara had sent. There is a chance it’s from one source, so she requests Kara to forward it to her. The reporter does, and Lena reads through it. She thinks she’s right; several lines from the article and the email sound similar.

There is a sort of anger that claws against her chest—people could go out of their way to discredit her and her company and Lena would let it go without blinking, but try the same feat on a good person like Kara? Lena isn’t pleased. She sends it to her IT team along with the fake news website for them to check the upload locations and sources. She’d wait for that, then she would deal it the best she can. In court preferably, so she can crush whoever is behind this legally. She sets a reminder to talk to her lawyers.

Her phone vibrates again.

How are you feeling, by the way? She reads. Lena pauses at that, her growing anger and annoyance chipping away to be replaced with a sort of confusion, then...gratitude. After breaking down last night, she hadn’t really explained much to Kara except say her mother called. She’d fallen asleep on her too, then ran out of her apartment as soon as she had woken up Kara. She appreciates how Kara has given her space, though Lena knows she wants to ask questions. She wonders if it’s out of curiosity or genuine concern.

She likes to think it’s the latter.

She feels better now, actually, with work to distract her. When she thinks about last night and Lillian’s phone call, her heart fills with hope at the memory of the almost-praise on her mother’s lips, only to be quashed by her lingering doubts that Lillian just wants something from her. Worse is the disappointment in herself that never really left, the thoughts that she will never really be good enough a daughter for Lillian—because Lex is her favorite, and she is nothing like him, and she will never be good enough as him in her mother’s eyes.

There’s that, too, that she hasn’t really talked about with Kara. She remembers her offer to, after the launch, after Clark Kent had asked how she is. She bites her lip; thinking about all those things now makes her shoulders grow weary, and her eyes sting with the distant memory of crying.

I think I’ll manage, she replies to Kara with a sigh. She will, like always.

Kara’s reply is quick. When you sweep things under the rug, the pile would be too big to take care of.

The image makes Lena chuckle in amusement, though she realizes that Kara is right. Too long she’s set aside dealing with these kinds of thoughts because they distracted her from work and because, well, she didn’t have anyone to talk about them to. She could get a therapist, but the mere idea of it makes her uncomfortable—whether or not the sessions are bound by a confidentiality clause, the thought of a stranger knowing this aspect of her life? It’s frankly terrifying.

Except, she realizes now, that Kara had been a stranger too, in a session, bound by a confidentiality clause—and that had gone fine. More than fine, even.

But Kara is a friend now, too, a friend willing to listen, and Lena is much more comfortable with her than with anyone else. Still, she doesn’t think she can really talk about everything—or at least, carry on with a conversation knowing that she has to talk about her estranged mother, or her mad brother, or his almost-heroic best friend that turns out to be her best friend’s cousin.

So Lena tries.

Can I come over again? She texts Kara. She follows it with I understand if you’re busy, but maybe brunch sometime soon?

Kara’s reply comes in as soon as she sent the second text. Yes of course!, it reads, then another one comes in: Brunch too! Both is good. :)

Lena stares at her phone. It’s almost like she can feel Kara’s...excitement—is it?—through her replies, and she doesn’t remember the last time anyone had been excited to spend time with her that wasn’t Jack. There is a rush that she feels in her chest that she attributes to excitement, too, and maybe some nerves because is she really ready to talk about the skeletons in her closet?

Her phone vibrates again.

OH!! I have also successfully finished teaching Krypto some new tricks so you HAVE to come over tonight.

It vibrates again.

I also have a copy of that alien movie, Arrival. Winn has been bugging me to watch it and company is much appreciated :)

Lena smiles. It’s almost like Kara knows about her predicament, and she tells herself that the sting in her eyes is the lingering puffiness from all the crying she had done last night.

I’ll bring dinner, Lena replies, and Kara’s text is quick, yet again, like she’s eagerly waiting for her reply.

Nope! I got it covered, Kara says, and just as Lena is typing I insist, please, another message comes in.

I got it, Luthor, sheesh. :p See you?

Lena’s smile grows and there’s that rush in her chest again, warm and sudden that she doesn’t notice it.

See you, Danvers.  

//

Lena arrives at Kara’s place a little before seven, a paper bag of potstickers from Auntie Cho’s in her arms because she refused to come empty-handed, plus another paper bag of Kara’s freshly-cleaned clothes that she borrowed from the night before. She also changed into a more comfortable blouse and jeans instead of her usual power suit and let her hair down. When she knocks on the door, she hears an excited bark yet again and the sound of paws and feet on hardwood floors.

The door is ripped open, the fur ball bounces around her, and Kara is beaming, bright and warm and the sun pulling her into orbit that Lena greets her with a whispered hey there and a one-armed hug, careful not to crush the dumplings she brought. If Kara is surprised with the action, it doesn’t show, because she’s melting into the hug, both arms around Lena and a barely audible sigh on her lips.

It’s Kara who pulls away, moments later, and she pushes her glasses up with a squint of her eyes. “What is that?”

“Your clothes?” Lena laughs nervously. “I also, um, brought potstickers.”

Kara looks up at her and purses her lips. The laughter on Lena’s throat bubbles into something more uninhibited and she lifts the paper bag for Kara to see. The blonde makes a small noise, like she isn’t quite sure if she should snap at Lena for bringing something when she insisted she’d take care of it, or if she should say thank you instead. “Auntie Cho says hi, by the way, and that they’ve restocked on the crabsticks from the supplier you like.”

Kara huffs and takes the paper bag. “You’re so cheating,” she mutters, then stalks back inside her apartment. Lena laughs again, almost missing the way the blonde looks back at her with a barely-restrained smile like she’s trying to look mad. It isn’t working. Lena walks in and closes the door then sits on her haunches, greeting Krypto with a pat on his head. He immediately rolls over to present his belly. Lena chuckles.

She doesn’t remember the last time she felt this... This. Like a sort of freedom and lightness she can’t put a name on.

“I wasn’t sure if you were going to serve some vegetable salad because I’m coming over,” Lena teases. “Can’t have you starving. Right, Krypto?” She coos over at the puppy, who woofs softly.

“Salad? In my own home? Over my dead body, Lena,” the reporter shoots back. Lena looks up at her to find her transferring the potstickers—sees her snatch one up and into her mouth. The CEO just smirks to herself.

“Can I ask why Krypto?” She says instead. Kara takes a pot from under the sink and puts water on it before setting it on the stove.

“Because of his cryptic origins,” the woman explains. Lena looks up at her and quirks an eyebrow. “He appeared from nowhere, one rainy night if you could believe it. I was parking my motorcycle at the nearby alley and poof. I hear a puppy crying and I found him in a box that read ‘free puppy’ and he was shivering so I...” Kara chuckles and shrugs. “I smuggled him in.”

Lena’s jaw drops, ignores Kara implying she owned a death trap on two wheels. “You what?”

Kara kneels on the floor and scratches behind Krypto’s ear. “Yeah, pets aren’t really allowed here. Hey watch.” The reporter snaps her fingers and Krypto rolls to his belly with a soft woof and a perk of his ears. “Krypto, sit.”

The puppy obeys and sits on his hind legs, a kind of proud look on his cute face—Lena thinks he’s grown bigger now, but it’s only been a few weeks since she last saw him, wasn’t it?—and Kara rewards her with good boy, Krypto and a puppy treat.

“Good boy!” Lena tells him, too, with the same proud grin on Kara’s face. “Is that why you can’t adopt him fully?”

Kara nods. “I only barely keep him hidden when I take him out to walk, so he's mostly an indoor pup, but so far we haven't been caught.” She grins at Krypto. “That's why we have to keep quiet, don't we, bud? Our little, fluffy secret.”

Krypto answers with a soft woof, then licks Kara's hand. Lena sits back on the floor and watches the two. The blonde tells him to roll over and the puppy does, and Kara rewards him with another praise and a scratch of his belly. Lena finds it unfortunate that Kara can't commit fully to a source of happiness—she remembers, quite vividly, the way Kara had rambled about Krypto, how he made her happy, the sort of envy Lena herself had felt at the thought—just because of the circumstances of the matter. She must have been thinking too much because she misses what Kara had said and the blonde is waving a hand in front of her.

“You okay?” Kara asks. “Those were basic tricks, I don’t think you should be this amazed.” There's the crinkle between her eyebrows, like the worry in her eyes from the night before. Lena nods and offers her a smile.

“Yeah, sorry, just thinking of work.” Lena chuckles. “What did you say?”

Kara frowns. “No, no thinking of work. Come on, I’ll heat the sauce then we can watch the movie?”

Nodding, Lena gets up and Kara follows. Krypto stays on the floor but he gets back on his belly, just watching the two of them with rapt attention.

“What are we watching again?” Lena asks as she watches Kara wash her hands. She does the same as the blonde takes a bowl of red pasta sauce from the fridge. She smiles at it. “Did you cook that?”

Kara bites back a smile. “Yeah. I mean, I tried, so I'm sorry if it's bad.” She transfers the sauce to a pan and heats it up, then gets the uncooked pasta into the pot. “And we're watching Arrival. Winn has been telling me to watch it—he's really into alien things, sci-fi in general—and he mentioned that you might like it, so…”

Lena laughs at that. She leans against the counter, watches the way Kara flits across the kitchen, stirring the sauce on one side and poking the pasta on the other. Lena has never really enjoyed cooking—no one to cook for, after Jack, and even with him they'd rather eat out than spend time doing more domestic things like this—so seeing Kara, at home with everything despite her insisting she doesn’t cook much, is refreshing. Welcome, even.

“Winn’s an interesting guy,” Lena says absently as she takes a spoon and slips behind Kara to take a dollop of the sauce. Kara glances at her with an expression Lena can’t quite figure out, but she looks back to where she's stirring the sauce.

“Sure, I guess,” the blonde mumbles. Lena hums and takes the spoon to her mouth, letting out a sound of approval at the taste of the red sauce.

“This is pretty good, Kar,” she claims with a grin and a wave of her spoon. Kara's features soften at that and she smiles again.

“Like I said, I tried.” She checks the pot again, groans when the steam fogs up her glasses. “Really hard, mind you,” she adds, then takes her glasses off lowers them to the hem of her shirt—Kara is wearing a pastel blue tee, and as she lifts the shirt to wipe her lens, Lena chances a peek of her toned belly and a sliver of dark blue garter under her grey sweatpants.

Lena looks away and chuckles, hopes her blush isn’t too visible. It’s inappropriate, looking at her host like this, but she’s biting her lip and glancing at anywhere else but Kara. She can’t shake off the image of what she has just seen, nor the memory of that photo of her blonde friend in just a sports bra and an almost unobstructed view of her abs. Lena leans back against the counter, needing the support all of a sudden, as she mentally chastises herself. “Consider me impressed,” she murmurs distractedly, before finally looking back at Kara when her cheeks don’t feel too hot anymore.

Kara looks back at her, all bright eyes without her glasses, and Lena feels the rush of her heartbeat starting to become familiar with every passing moment.

“Score,” Kara laughs, and Lena is unable to hold back her own.

//

They watch the movie while sitting on the floor again, their plates of meatball spaghetti on the coffee table and Lena’s left knee brushing against Kara’s right. Krypto is sleeping beside the CEO—a fact Kara had grumbled about earlier on. They had finished their dinner; Kara’s pasta had been delectable, despite the blonde’s apologies that she doesn’t cook often, and they shared the potstickers though Lena ended up eating only five and Kara devoured the rest.

The film is almost done, too, and Lena didn’t expect it to be quiet and moving. At the end of it, she thinks she is three seconds from crying. Kara sighs heavily as she pauses at the credits.

 “Well,” she laughs softly. “That was uh. Intense.”

Lena leans back against with a soft smile. Only the lamp by the kitchen is on and when she glances at Kara, she is almost surprised at how close they sit now, side by side on the floor against the couch. “I didn’t expect it to be that poignant,” she admits. “It’s amazing, though—imagine a technology  like that.  A language to unlock some sort of time travel? Visions of the future? That could help people.”

Kara stares at her for a moment. Lena wonders if she has sauce on her mouth. Instinctively, she wipes the corner of her lips with the back of her hand.

“Sorry, it’s just—” Kara smiles and looks back to the screen. “I’m still amazed how brilliant and kind you are.”

The raven-haired woman blinks at that, then chuckles. “I just gushed over fictional technology, Kara.”

Kara chuckles, too, and stays quiet for a few moments. She shrugs. “I can’t imagine how Louise might have felt though, having to live a life knowing her daughter would be taken away from her too soon like that.”

There’s an idea that flickers in the back of Lena’s mind—an entirely too self-centered idea, but one that festers nonetheless—that Kara had chosen this movie to slowly ease her into talking. It’s too assuming and narcissistic of her, after all, but she wants to think it is, if only because no one has eased her into this level of comfort before, not for anything, and certainly not to talk about her feelings.

“I suppose that’s a mother’s love?” Lena whispers. She hugs her knees to her chest and shrugs. “Honestly, I know nothing about that. Well, I mean.” Lena sighs. Kara shifts beside her, then there’s a hand on her shoulder, concerned and polite yet again, and when she looks at Kara, the blonde wears a soft smile. There’s a sort of pull again, like when Kara had opened the door, and Lena lets herself be pulled—she sighs softly and leans against Kara’s shoulder, and the blonde slides an arm around her, pulls her in closely, in a grip warm and firm that Lena felt...

She felt protected. Safe. It was odd, this feeling, and she chalks it up to the lingering emotions from last night and the ones provoked by the movie.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Kara murmurs. Lena shakes her head and tries to relax. She rests against Kara now, her hands on her own lap and her knee over Kara’s thigh as she stretches her legs under the coffee table.

“I was four when my mother died,” Lena whispers. She swallows the emotion that stirs inside her with the words said out loud. “Well, I was told she died, anyway. I remember being taken somewhere, then Lionel was picking me up and taking me to the Luthor mansion.”

There is the distant memory of packing a backpack that contained nothing but coloring books and crayons, a small teddy bear that is more sewn-on patches than its original material in her arms. “He took me to see Lex and Lillian. I don’t remember much, but that day, I had my first chess game.” Lena manages a small laugh. “I remember beating him. It’s also the first and last time my stepmother showed me a hint of pride.” She pauses and licks her lips, mulling over her next words. Kara doesn’t say anything, just waits ever so patiently. “After that it was constant pushing me away and scathing feedback and lessons upon lessons on things I never showed interest in, until I was shipped off to boarding school.” She smiles, forces herself to smile even if Kara couldn’t see. “So, honestly, I don’t think I know what a mother’s love is.” Lena laughs again. It’s humorless, traces of tears at the edges, and Kara’s arm around her tightens. Lena sighs and stares at her hands. “The closest of it that I can think of is a fading memory of a woman I do not remember, telling me to be a good girl. Lillian is...” She sighs wistfully. “Lillian is a woman who is legally my mother but she’s... I’ve tried to be a daughter to her, but she doesn’t—” Lena shrugs, remembers the hint of pride in Lillian’s voice during their last phone call. “She’s never really shown much care to be a mother to me.”

There is silence for a few moments, save for the night life of National City in the distance. Kara shifts; Lena hears the way a heavy sigh escapes her, like the same lingering grief Lena feels has occupied her just the same. “I suppose then, than I’m the luckier one,” she says softly, tentatively like the words could break Lena. The CEO smiles, however. If there’s anyone who deserves luck and every good thing in the world, it’s Kara. “If you knew what the future held, would you still embrace it?”

Lena bites her lip at that and stares at her hands. Would she? There is a thought that makes itself known, that if Lena had known back then—when she was younger and full of bitterness and empty of the will to live—that she’ll have someone like Kara in her life, maybe she would have looked forward to the future. She shrugs, pushes herself to look up. She meets Kara’s gaze—she’s close, too close, and even in this light her eyes are oceans, the way they are still on a cold night. “If it’s this future,” she starts. She looks back down and stares at her hands. “I would have looked forward to it.”

Kara hums. Lena feels her hand on her shoulder slide down and squeeze her bicep. The hand is warm, soft, and Lena’s skin burns in the gentlest of ways. “But what if it’s terrible?”

Lena chuckles listlessly. She imagines a younger her, seeing the two different attempts in her life by her own brother that she so dearly loved—one in his own hands, poison in a drink he had poured himself, and one from the hands of a man he had hired. She thinks that would have ruined the relationship she had with Lex, would have destroyed her. “Would you?” She asks Kara instead. The blonde pauses.

“I... I actually don’t know,” she whispers. Her voice is softer now, much softer than Lena has ever heard, and it’s her turn to anchor Kara the way she always had Lena—she places a hand on her knee and shifts so she’s looking at the blonde, though the woman stares ahead. “I don’t think I’m as- as strong as Louise, you know, but the knowledge of...” She trails off and shakes her head. “I’m also adopted, actually.” Lena stills at the admission, blinks, but nods, filing away the knowledge with gratitude. “The Danvers have been the best family one could ask for, so for that I’m lucky, but I—” Kara bites her lip and lets out a shuddering breath, like she’s...

Like she’s fighting back tears. Lena swallows thickly. It’s almost a foreign emotion she’s seeing now, on Kara’s always smiling face. “My parents died in an accident, when I was thirteen,” she continues, and Lena realizes then that all the happiness Kara has always radiated has been borne of grief, and she hasn’t always been the sun that she’s been—she had been a dying star, before, a black hole of heartache. There is grief and awe that settles in Lena’s chest at Kara’s admission. Her sorrow is something Lena isn’t fully familiar with—she was four when she lost her mother, far too young to remember many things, but Kara had years with her parents—but she feels a faint echo of her grief. There’s awe, too, at how with all this heartache Kara carries, she is still able to smile as much as she does.

She realizes just how strong Kara is.

It’s a new thing that she learns and it hurts, somewhat, like a distant stab on her own chest and she moves so she could pull Kara into a hug. It’s kind of awkward, with how she sits beside Kara, but the blonde doesn’t seem to mind. She melts into Lena’s arms. The raven-haired woman feels her take another shuddering breath. “If I had known of it, I’d have spent more time with them. I would have been a better daughter.” Kara’s arms around her tighten and the woman shakes with a sob that breaks Lena’s heart. Kara’s voice quivers. “I- I could have told them I loved them—that I love them—instead of- instead of- being a brat and insisting I’d stay at home.”

The woman cries—softly, almost like she’s ashamed—and Lena holds her, whispers of comfort in her ear and unwavering arms around her, much like her friend had offered the night before.

They have more in common than Lena had previously thought, but Kara’s pain lies heavier than hers—here is a woman who had known love and had it taken away from her, yet here she stands, strong and radiant and wonderful and Lena aches for her.

“I’m sorry,” Kara laughs wetly as she pulls away from Lena. The woman lets her, and the blonde removes her glasses to wipe her eyes with the back of her hand. Her eyes seem brighter now with the hint of tears, more like an ocean of stars, and there’s a smile on her face that is broken and sad and Lena feels helpless with the need to bring even just the barest hint of happiness to it. There is a whine somewhere, and when Lena glances to the source it’s Krypto, trying to walk over Lena’s legs blocking his way to go to Kara.

“Please don’t be,” Lena murmurs as she takes Krypto with one hand—he’s grown, she’s sure now, because he feels heavier than before—and places him on Kara’s lap. The blonde chuckles and pets him as he licks her hands, seemingly noticing her distress. “Pretty sure I cried more last night more than you did. Thank you for telling me,” Lena says.   

The blonde shrugs and smiles. It isn’t as bright as her usual ones, but she reaches out for Lena’s hand and squeezes it. “Thank you, Lena, for being here,” she whispers, and Lena thinks that if anyone should be grateful, it’s her.

They stay quiet for a while, Lena’s head on Kara’s shoulder, Kara’s head against hers. The blonde’s hand is still on Lena’s, her other resting on Krypto’s head as the puppy lays guard on the reporter’s lap.

“Lena?” Kara murmurs, as if checking if the raven-haired woman had fallen asleep. Lena hums in reply and squeezes Kara’s hand. Kara sighs. “It’s not my place to say this because I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I...” She pauses. Lena feels her move, like she’s chewing on her lip. “I've spent most of my life wishing I could talk to people who are no longer here,” she continues. Lena feels the pang of sorrow again, one she shares with Kara now. “Lillian is still here. She's still your mom.”

Lena doesn’t reply, but she thinks about it. Kara has a point, whether she liked it or not. Lillian is her only sane family left, one not out to kill her, and the least she could do, perhaps, is try to reach out. She doesn’t know what the future holds, despite wishing she does—because she can handle business risks, but things like this that involve a far too personal part of her are a whole another matter of concern—but Kara has a point, and really, she’s braved through twenty years of disappointment and rejection from Lillian, what’s a final one to conclude all her efforts?

“I’ll talk to her soon,” Lena relents. She’ll have to think about how to go about that, but that’s a problem for another day.

Kara squeezes her hand again. “Just be brave,” she whispers.

It’s easier said than done but she nods and keeps it to heart.

Kara wears her glasses again but her other hand stays on Lena’s. The CEO feels lighter now, somewhat, yet at the same time heavier—but it’s a small price to pay for knowing this part of Kara. They haven’t talked about everything yet, but it’s a start—terrifying all the same, but it’s a start and she thinks Kara is brave enough for the both of themand Lena thinks it’s better than having had stayed where she had in the past so many years.

“Anyway,” Kara chuckles. “All that drama aside, do you think aliens are real?”

Lena smiles and looks up at the blonde. Her eyes still sparkle, the corners of them pink with tears, but she’s smiling again like the grief she had worn earlier had been nothing but a mere mask. Lena understands now that it’s this smile that is one, and she wonders where Kara gets all this strength. “I don’t know yet,” Lena replies with an air of amusement. “L-Corp is yet to venture into space travel. That would be interesting though. What do you think they’d look like?”

“A lot of things, probably. Like us? Like the heptapods? Check.” Kara grins. “Beyond our imagination. Do you think there are dog-people out there?”

Lena chuckles and pokes the back of Kara’s hand with her other. “How about talking penguins?”

Kara lights up.

//

Lena doesn’t notice time pass by as she and Kara stayed seated on the floor tangled up like that, but when she checks her phone it’s almost midnight and they had talked about penguins and stars, aliens and the possibility of time travel. Krypto had dozed off on Kara’s lap and the blonde insisted on not moving, telling Lena this is how I die, Lee, and Lena had laughed and carefully carried the puppy off of Kara’s lap before placing him on her own lap. Kara had looked almost offended, then impressed when Krypto just yawned and returned to sleeping, and Kara’s expression turned offended again.

“I swear, he loves you more than he loves me,” Kara mutters as she reaches to pat his head. Lena grins at her.

“Well, I would adopt him if I could,” Lena admits. Kara looks at her, looks torn at the thought. “If I could,” Lena stresses. “But you love him too much.”

Kara chuckles and shrugs. “I’ve grown attached to him, I guess.” She purses her lips. “Would you- It’s late,” Kara sighs, and she’s not fully looking at Lena, just staring down at the sleeping Krypto as she brushes her fingers against the space between his ears. “I think that’s mostly my fault, but you’re- you can stay over again, if you’d like.”

Lena bites her lip at that. It’s an offer for company, and after another emotionally-exhausting night, she could definitely use it. She thinks Kara could use it too—she wants to be here, and she can’t bear the idea of the Kara waking up on her bed alone the morning after—though the more selfish part of Lena thinks it’s her who can’t bear the idea of waking up alone when she’s offered warmth through the night and the morning.

“Good thing I had the clothes I borrowed last night washed already,” she replies with a smile, and Kara grins brightly now. “You’ll have to tear Krypto from me, though.”

The blonde chuckles and rests her head on Lena’s shoulder. “I think we can stay here for a little more while. Tell me when you can’t feel your legs.”

They stay for some minutes, before they get up to carry Krypto to the bed before changing into their sleepwear. It’s the same motions from the night before, when Kara gets on the bed—she curls up with the puppy against her belly and offers open arms to Lena, and the raven-haired woman settles into them with a contented sigh. It’s almost hard to imagine how she had managed to fall asleep during nights without Kara holding her like this, and it’s almost terrifying when she thinks about having to sleep without her, but the blonde’s voice telling her goodnight, Lee, are the waves on the shore washing away her fears, and she thinks she could be brave, with Kara.

She dreams of the beach, of Lillian’s words, Jack hinting on happiness, and she wakes up early the next day with Kara’s arms still around her and Krypto dozing above her head.

 

Chapter Text

Waking up to warmth a second time in a row is something Lena could live with, she thinks as she comes to. She blinks her eyes open and the first thing she sees is the curtain of blonde hair and fair skin in front of her, feels the warm breath on her forehead. Kara snores lightly. Krypto seems to have found another comfortable nook of warmth and is dozing by her feet. The light in the room is the softness of early morning and the noise of National City is slowly picking up volume in the distance.

When Lena shifts, she finally takes notice of just how close she and Kara are and she blushes lightly. Sure, they have cuddled before, but not like this—their legs are tangled, Kara’s arm is around her waist, pulling her close and holding her for dear life, and Lena is only able to breathe her in as her face is nestled on the blonde’s neck. The sheets have pooled around their thighs and waist, mostly Kara’s, and Lena chuckles because Kara is a snoring blanket hog. She blinks away sleep, tries to not be hyperaware of this closeness, ignores how her shirt has ridden up so very slightly and Kara’s fingers are brushing against the bare skin of her back.

She blushes.

Maybe Veronica is right. She does need to get laid. It’s a thought that makes her blush brighter, and the warmth concentrates on her cheeks. She gently, quietly pulls away from Kara, because it’s inappropriate to think of things like that when you’re cuddled up in your friend’s arms—especially when said friend had an emotional night, has been nothing but kind and generous. Guilt and confusion barrel down her thoughts and she sighs, gets out of bed and tucks Kara under the sheets. Krypto wakes up too, shakes himself, his ears flopping every which way that makes Lena smile, and she puts him down before he could bark at her. Lena follows him to the kitchen to make the blonde something to eat. 

 She manages to cook up some sausages and tomato omelette, handing Krypto some of the egg because she had read that those are fine for puppies to eat. When everything is on the table—full plate, glass of orange juice, utensils—she changes into her clothes from the day before and walks back to the bedroom to wake Kara up.

Kara stirs and blinks sleepily at Lena. “Not staying for breakfast?” She rasps. Lena clears her throat and smiles. The oceans of her eyes are dazed with sleep but still bright, and before she could stop herself, she’s brushing away blonde hair from Kara’s face so she could look at them better.

“I have to run off for work,” she says apologetically, retracting her hand with . “Brunch soon?”

Kara yawns and nods, but gets out of bed anyway. “Walk you out,” she mumbles, scratches the back of her neck with another yawn, and Lena thinks she’s too adorable like this. Kara opens the door for her, smiles at her brightly, and pulls her into a hug without any warning, but Lena finds herself melting into it.

It’s odd, how easy the motions come to her now.

“Talk to you later, Lee,” Kara murmurs as she pulls away. “Thanks for breakfast.”

Lena smiles. She isn’t used to nicknames, but it’s starting to grow on her. “Anytime,” she replies, then leaves with a wave at Kara’s direction and laughs as the blonde wrestles with her energetic furball so he doesn’t follow Lena out the apartment.

She receives a text from Kara, halfway through getting into her work clothes, of a photo of an empty plate. I ate the tomatoes, I’m a healthy person now, it reads.

Lena laughs. You do know tomatoes are fruits, she replies, and she gets a quick response: a close-up photo of Kara glaring at the camera with a caption that reads I honestly feel attacked right now, but all Lena notices are the freckles across her nose and the blue of her eyes. There’s the rush in her chest that grows in familiarity and it takes a moment for Lena to reply.

I’m making that my wallpaper.

//

An hour to midnight later that day, Lena finds herself still awake, working through some preliminary plans for a project. She should be asleep—she has since fixed her body clock, and work can wait—but she doesn’t feel tired and all she can think about while she lays in silence is Krypto’s fluffy warmth against her head and Kara’s comforting embrace. She shakes her head and rubs her temples. It’s becoming frustrating, this...lingering feeling she can’t put her finger on, like missing the warmth Kara provided—but worse.

She knows one thing, however: that feeling like this is sad and desperate, and also frankly terrifying because she can’t fall dependent of Kara’s cuddles for many reasons.

One, because she doesn’t need them—there are other sources of feel-good hormones like chocolate and exercise, and she has functioned efficiently without cuddles. She’s a Luthor. She doesn’t need to succumb to humanly need for touch. It might take her a day or two, but surely she can get back to the usual rhythm of her life before Veronica dared suggest the whole professional cuddling thing.

That said, she could try hiring another cuddler, but the mere idea of it makes her scowl. She doesn’t want to spend an hour or so in bed with a stranger—with another strange—though she knows that is foolish because isn’t that how she started with Kara?

Two, because Kara is a friend now, and she can’t possibly demand more cuddles than offered, especially nightly cuddles, can she? That is inappropriate and needy and just ridiculous altogether. Kara has her own life and most likely had better things to do with her time than hold Lena just so she could sleep in peace. Friends give and take, after all, and that idea sounds very much like Lena is just taking.

She wonders if it would’ve been different, if Kara hadn’t quit being a cuddler. Lena thinks that would have sufficed—an hour every night, after a long day at work, spent in Kara’s arms and soothing voice, before she sleeps. Would it have been weird to be friends, yet still hire Kara for a service one doesn’t quiet need? It would be a give and take.

But would it be friendship?

She figures she should be satisfied, because Kara Danvers is already more than she could ever hope for, but would it be greedy to ask for more?

Three, nightly cuddles are too intimate for friends. Right? She still doesn’t fully understand the conventions of friendships, but her only experience by far with nightly cuddles had been with Jack, and she can’t possibly use him as a comparison because him and Kara are different.  

Or—do friends, who are roommates and share the same bed, cuddle all the time?

Though, even if they did, she can’t possibly move in with Kara, or ask Kara to move in with her, just so they could work into that situation. That is, again, ridiculous.

It’s frustrating, that for someone who never really thought she was touched-starved, to be craving for it like this, to be considering this set of particular circumstances as such a problem. Do people go through this all the time with new friends? Do people even think about such things?

If she had friends when she was younger, would she have been making such a huge fuss of her predicament? She groans, leans back against the headboard, work forgotten momentarily on her lap.

It’s all confusing, too, how she keeps thinking back to the feeling of being in Kara’s embrace and the ocean of her eyes, and Lena has half the mind to grab a pen and paper so she could lay out this problem and solve it the scientific way.

She sighs again and tries to focus on her work, but her phone buzzes beside her. Glancing at it, she reads Kara’s name, and she sighs at the coincidence. It’s like the universe is mocking her.

The message is a photo of Krypto, curled up against a pillow, and the caption reads I think he misses you. Lena realizes it’s the pillow she’s used the past two nights. She finds herself smiling, wondering if Kara can’t sleep, too.

She hopes so. Lena hopes she isn’t alone in this entire situtation, but Kara—soft, warm, bubbly, friendly Kara—probably had cuddled all her friends before, and her hope sounds rather improbable.

Because although Lena and Kara had their similarities, Lena is still the moon and Kara is her sun and they have their differences too: how they have grown to process the circumstances they were thrown in, the perspective upon which they look at life. Lena, the brooding, bitter daughter who has grown weary and unaware of how love and friendships work—and Kara, sunshine and kindness incarnated in a work of the gods themselves. Lena, craving her sun’s warmth and Kara, blissfully unaware of it.

It’s frustrating and confusing and Lena feels tired all of a sudden.

Miss him too, she replies with a bite of her lip. Shouldn’t you be asleep?

Lena takes another glance at her laptop. Her phone vibrates in her hand.

Shouldn’t you?

She chuckles. She definitely should. Sighing, Lena closes her laptop and puts it aside before sliding under the covers, facing the middle of the bed where Kara would have been if she were here. I am going to sleep, she replies. She glances at Kara’s contact photo on her inbox—no longer the penguin-pajama one, but the one from earlier with Kara supposedly glaring at her, all freckles and bright blue eyes.

Another message comes in. It’s a photo of Kara, in the dimness of her room, Krypto curled up against her chest this time. Us too!! :) Good night, Lee, the message reads, and if Lena stared long enough it seems like Kara is with her.

The feeling she can’t put her finger on lingers—odd, like missing someone who is clearly there—but it feels a little better now, with Kara smiling at her like that, and she replies good night, you two, before she closes her eyes and tries to sleep.

She does, after some time, and dreams of the sun and the sea and of honey hair.

//

Waking up to a cold, empty bed is something Lena should be used to, but somehow, as she blinks away the sleep from her eyes, she thinks of how it would be better if—

She groans against her pillow. It’s too early on a weekend to be overthinking things, but it’s reaching the level of bothersome that she can’t stop thinking about Kara, all because of her body’s stupid need to crave for warmth she had lived most of her life without. She blindly reaches for her phone, hoping for a distraction, and quirks eyebrow in surprise when she has two missed calls and a message from Veronica.

Back in NC. Catch up?

Lena yawns and gets out of bed. It’s early but for some reason she feels a little exhausted. Walking to the kitchen, she sends Veronica a reply before she grabs some cereal and milk from the fridge.

Finally done with business in Paris?

She’s surprised that the reply is quick. That was actual business in Paris.

She laughs. Taking her bowl of cereal with her to the living room, she sits on the floor and places it on the coffee table. What did I say?

Fuck you. Ludo at six?

Lena checks the time. She could move her workout later in the day, go through work this morning and early afternoon. Sounds like a plan I’ll starve myself at your gym. Will you be there?

I can kick your ass if you’d like.

She laughs. You wish. See you, Ronnie.

After finishing her cereal, Lena showers and changes into a more comfortable tee and sweatpants she wouldn’t be caught dead in, then heads to her home office to return to the plans she had been working on the night before. She manages to focus this time, epic orchestra music blasting in the room, and it’s only when her playlist stops that she realizes she has worked through midday. Checking her phone, she sees a message from Kara, asking how her day is going. Lena smiles.

I’m good, she replies, leaves her office to fix herself some lunch. And you? Weekend plans?

Kara’s reply is quick, like always. Alex and Maggie are at my place. Going jogging later because I think I ate half my weight in pizza :(

Lena chuckles at that. She doesn’t think Kara is able to gain weight, not after seeing her demolish food that could have been for four people, just in one sitting, but half her weight in pizza doesn’t sound like an exaggeration because she is almost sure Kara could do exactly that. Lena fixes herself a sandwich and replies to Kara while she toasts the bread. 

Want to come to the gym with me? You can try and actually punch me this time.

The offer comes easy. Lena could use the company, she could introduce Kara to Veronica, show the blonde that her life isn’t as lonely as Lena made it seem. Besides, they have the common goal of working out, so it doesn’t really matter if she just wanted to see Kara.

Let it die, Lena!!! What time?, she replies with several emojis of the crying face. Lena thinks it’s adorable. She tells the blonde they can meet at four in the afternoon at the Sinclair gym.

???? That’s like, the most expensive gym here!, Kara replies. Lena almost forgot that part.

I’ll drag you along, I know the owner, she clarifies. She wonders if Veronica actually knew Kara, considering she was the one who introduced her to the cuddler website.

There’s a nagging feeling that makes itself known, about Veronica possibly having availed Kara’s services. Lena doesn’t like it—she glares at her phone at the thought, and there’s a bitter taste that settles on her tongue.

I have no doubts you can drag me but no need, I’ll come willingly :) I’ll be there!

The bitter taste on her tongue lingers but she ignores it, tells Kara she’ll see her later, and she sighs and brings her sandwich with her to her office so she could squeeze in more work before she leaves in a couple of hours.

She texts Veronica that I’m bringing company, and the woman replies K, an hour and a half later. Lena rolls her eyes and focuses on work.

//

Lena becomes too engrossed in her project—she has started coding the prototype generator for a small transmatter portal—that she only realizes what time it is when her neck started to ache. She checks the time and groans when she sees she only has half an hour until she is supposed to meet Kara. Grabbing her gym bag, she shoves a change of clothes in it before changing into a sports bra, a tank top, and yoga pants, then slips on running shoes before she’s out the door and calling the gym reception to let Kara in once she’s there.

Sorry, running late, she texts Kara, and the blonde’s reply is instant: Just got here don’t worry :)

She makes her way to the gym building—fifth and top floor of a mid-riser near her main apartment, which means she only had to walk. It makes it easier for her to go to on weekends, too. The staff greet her and she smiles back at them, wishes them a great day, then she’s taking the stairs just for warm-up.

When she arrives inside, she notices there are at least fewer people now at this time of day. She places her gym bag at her usual locker and looks around for Kara. She finds the woman talking to another blonde who runs beside her on the treadmill—Sara. She is one of the regulars, fit and well-built, but Lena can’t focus much on her when Kara is just beside her, hair up in a ponytail and jogging in a black sports bra and gray sweatpants that has Lena pausing for a moment, her mind conjuring the not-so-distant memory of Kara’s picture wearing that same outfit.

Except now she’s seeing it. In person. She shakes her head and chastises herself for staring. Inappropriate.

Maybe this was a bad idea. She didn’t really think this through.

“Lena!”

Well. She realizes it’s too late for that now. The CEO focuses her attention the Kara at call of her name. She wills the image away and smiles, finally making her way to the pair. Lena waves at Sara, then turns to Kara.

“Hey. Have you been waiting long?” She asks as takes the elastic from her wrist and ties up her hair in an attempt to ignore the abs exposed in front of her and stares ahead, fixing her ponytail. Kara doesn’t answer, and when Lena glances at her, she thinks she’s a little too pink for someone who is only jogging. She notices that she isn’t wearing her glasses too—it’s a sight, blue eyes looking at her like that, bright like the sun on the sea. “Contacts?” She asks mindlessly, pointing at her own eyes.

“Erm. Finished warming up, met Sara here,” Kara says with a grin, gesturing to the blonde beside her. “And yeah. More convenient this way.” Lena chuckles and turns to the familiar blonde. She’s seen her many times at the gym, had even sparred with her once or twice.

“Hey Sara, how’s Ava?” She says casually, and Kara glances at them curiously.

“She’s been good,” Sara chuckles. “And you? Need some sparring partner?”

Lena chuckles as she fixes her hair. She tilts her head side to side, warming up some more. “I was going to ask Kara, actually.”

Kara blinks and her jaw drops slightly. “Oh. You were serious about that?”

The CEO shrugs and nods. “Dead serious, if you want to.”

Sara raises an eyebrow at the other blonde. “You sure about that, Kara?” She chuckles. “Are you even aware of what Lena can do?”

 “Don’t scare her,” Lena smirks. Kara slows her treadmill to a stop and throws a glance over at the ring in the middle of the gym.

“Yeah, I mean, I kind of tried to punch her and she honestly almost broke my neck.” The reporter grins and shrugs, like she’s recalling a fond memory. “Time to avenge my ego, though.”

Sara looks a little impressed at that. Lena gestures to the counter. “Come on, let’s get some wraps.” They nod over at Sara who wishes the reporter good luck. Lena chuckles. “Don’t mind her. She kicked my ass both times we sparred.”

Kara reaches for the bridge of her nose—perhaps out of habit—and ends up scratching it instead at the lack of her glasses. “She looks like she can,” she laughs lightly. “What are we going to do?” She asks as she follows the raven-haired woman. “I mean, like, er- boxing? You mentioned you do Muay Thai?”

The CEO requests for some boxing tape and hand wraps. The redhead at the counter gives her two small bags, and Lena hands one to Kara. “Freeform sparring, if you’d agree.”

“Do they rent out gear here?” Kara asks as they sit. She looks into her bag and takes out a roll of boxing tape.

Lena chuckles. “Afraid I’ll kick your ass, Kar?” She teases as she starts wrapping her left hand. She flexes it around the hand wrap, glances over at Kara, who is staring at her with a crinkle in her brows.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she says softly. It’s said in a careful way that Lena has to blink, trying to remembering what she just said earlier. Lena playfully bumps her shoulder against her as she begins wrapping her other hand.

“Shouldn’t you be finding out first if you can?” She teases again. Kara looks at her, blinks slowly, though Lena misses the way her eyelashes fluttered as she did so. The blonde chuckles and shakes her head, then proceeds to wrap her hands, too.

“Wow. Cocky,” Kara smiles. “Shoes or no?”

Lena shrugs. “I might be in the mood to literally kick your ass,” she says with a smirk.

Kara laughs. They finish preparing and Lena leads the way to the ring. It’s a regular boxing ring though elevated only a few inches high. Glancing over at the blonde, Lena is almost amused at the look of concentration on Kara’s face.

“Already thinking of how to kick my ass, Kara?” She jokes.

Kara shakes her hands. “I’m just trying to figure out how to do this.”

“Simple. We fight.” Lena moves into her usual Muay Thai stance. Among the many things she has put interest in, she has exactly three things that she enjoys: science, wine, and combat. The first two are self-explanatory, and the third, she enjoys not in the violent way, but more of the cathartic, burn-my-calories-and-frustrations kind of way. There’s an art and science to combat, though she had rarely found need to use it in reality—which is good, she supposes—and it’s an effective means of tiring out her body just so she could shut it off along with her mind.

It’s handy, on nights she can’t sleep because she’s buzzing with lingering anger and misery over Lex and Lillian.

Kara’s brows furrow further but she moves too, taking the same position, and Lena’s lips quirk up in realization that this might end up as good as her previous sparring sessions with Veronica. Kara eyes her, almost curiously, and Lena tries to ignore the intensity of her gaze that seem to map her movements. Lena grins.

“I’m going to punch you,” she says, reminiscent of the elevator incident, and she doesn’t really wait for a reaction before she’s taking a step forward and throwing a punch—except Kara blocks it easily with a forearm and pushes her attack to the side before she’s taking a step back.

“You’re not going to hurt me, Kara,” Lena assures with a small smile, before moving forward and throwing another punch that the blonde easily deflects. “It’s not as fun if you’re just defending yourse—“

Lena almost misses it, but she’s able to move just in time to avoid the blow thrown to the direction of her right shoulder. She rounds Kara, sidestepping to her left with her back to the woman—a move she learned from Sara—then grabs her forearm, but Kara is quick. She pushes Lena with her back and the raven-haired woman staggers forward, laughing a little as she looks up at Kara. The blonde is biting her lip.

“Well. That was good,” Lena muses. “Not enough, but good.”

Kara puffs her cheeks. “Are we going to keep talking?”

That was surprising. Kara looks even more serious now, like she’s calculating her movements, and Lena wonders what she’s thinking. Instead of answering, she moves forward, throws a punch, but Kara successfully turns aside. Lena misses, then winces when she fails to fully defend herself at the jab to her side and her left bicep takes full impact. The blonde pauses, eyes widening.

“Are you okay?” She asks, voice laced with concern and eyes wide. She steps forward, hands reaching out to check Lena’s bicep, but the CEO shakes her head.

 “Head in the game, Kara,” Lena reminds. She launches forward, meaning to tackle Kara, but the blonde catches her arms and grapples her. Lena drops at that, bending her knees and using her weight against Kara, and when she sets herself free she slides a kick that sends the blonde falling on her ass to the floor with an oof.

“Better now,” Lena says with a breath and a tilt of her head. Kara chuckles, wipes her nose with her hand wrap.

“I can’t believe I missed that,” she murmurs, before pushing herself up on the floor and back to her fighting stance. This time she moves first, hunching forward for a punch that Lena is ready to deflect—except it’s a bluff. She feels the blow of the kick to her side before she sees Kara move. She’s quick, almost as quick as Elektra—her head of security can knock her down with a sweep kick before she can even blink, and she’s not even exaggerating. Lena barely manages to swing an answering punch but she still misses, continues with a sidestep and carries on with a high kick that Kara successfully ducks from.

Kara seems to pick up the pace now—she’s less hesitant, her blows starting to pack power, and Lena thinks she’s almost as good as Veronica, if not better. She wonders distantly just what type of training Alex Danvers had put Kara through. For Lena, self-defense is a necessity, given the threats in her life, but for what reasons is Kara this good a fighter?

It does explain, however, how Kara is this fit despite her massive appetite. As soon as her thoughts turn to that, it’s almost inevitable that her green gaze strays to Kara’s exposed midriff, damp now with sweat.

It’s a mistake, letting that plane of skin distract her, because she misses the swing to her shoulder and the foot kicking her off balance. She lands on her back on the floor with a groan, and before she could stand, Kara is straddling her and pressing a hand on her shoulder. The blonde is flushed; honey hair is sticking to her forehead and her pink lips are curled into a satisfied smirk despite the way she pants for breath. Lena thinks she hit the floor pretty hard, maybe suffered a concussion perhaps, because she dares think Kara looks so…attractive, like this.

Scratch that—Lena has thought Kara is attractive, before. She isn’t blind, and she can certainly appreciate beauty when she sees it. But there’s something about Kara, in this moment, looking down at her with smug satisfaction that Lena would have hated if it was worn by another person. Her heart races, thundering in her chest and against her ears, and she forces her thoughts to the side because it’s entirely too inappropriate to be looking at her friend like this.

“Say uncle,” Kara breathes. Lena blinks again, her words bringing her back down to reality. She’s grateful, and there’s a tinge of guilt that settles on her. She licks her lips and chuckles.

“Don’t be so smug,” Lena drawls. Determination comes back into her eyes and she taps Kara’s hand pinning her down. “We’re not done.”

Kara grins and gets off of Lena. She offers her hand, but Lena forgoes it and clambers up on her own. She’s disappointed in herself for losing focus. More than that, she hates to give anyone a low estimate of Lena Luthor’s ability in anything. Kara is not getting out of this so easily.

She squares off with Kara and comes at her again. Skipping the phase of feeling Kara out, she brings her full fight immediately. Kara brings up her hands to block and nearly loses her balance. Lena keeps her on the back foot, noticing the surprise in her opponent’s eyes but keeping her focus. No way is she losing this.

It’s a moment before Kara gathers herself and meets Lena’s intensity with her own. The pace has sweat streaming down both their faces. Lena feints and kicks at Kara’s side, but the blonde is fast and weaves away, her movement flowing into a punch at Lena’s shoulder. Lena just manages to dodge enough for the blow to become a glancing hit. The next punch comes faster, the next kick faster still, and Lena realizes that only now is Kara growing into the fight. Soon, she’s the one on the back foot, and it’s with a sense of inevitability that she feels Kara land her first good hit. It knocks her back but she moves with it, keeping her balance and using her momentum to open some space between them. She needs it. Kara is definitely better than Ronnie.

She takes a deep breath, then another, and launches herself back in. Her forceful reentry is itself a feint, however. Kara’s attempt to meet like for like leaves her off-balance when Lena rocks back and lets fly a series of short, sharp blows. Kara spins away, though when she faces Lena again, it’s with a shake of her head. Steel returns to her gaze and she advances on Lena, looking far more fearsome than a professional cuddler has any right to look. Punch, punch, kick, and Lena can tell she’s in trouble. For a moment, it’s all she can do to fend off the blows. When she finally makes an offensive move, Kara meets it with such ease that Lena’s stomach clenches. Lena Luthor never backs down, though, and she makes her partner earn every one of her increasingly frequent hits. Sweat burns her eyes and her legs ache. She can’t keep this up much longer. Steeling herself, she launches a desperate assault.

Kara’s eyes widen for a second and she takes a step back, but that’s all she gives. Four quick punches drive Lena back. Lena sees the kick coming, but she’s got nothing left. It takes her just above the hip and her tired legs give out. Kara’s on her in an instant, pushing her shoulder to roll her flat on her back and straddling her again. Lena can only stare up at her. There’s no need to tap, just as there’s no question who won. Both are heaving for air.

“That was the best sparring I’ve had outside my sister.” Far from being smug, Kara is smiling at her. She looks proud, even, but Lena must be imagining that. It’s the falling on her head again. This time, when Kara offers her hand, she takes it with an easy smile. Kara’s eyes sweep her so far from her seriousness that, when an idea bares itself to her, she acts without thinking. At the last moment, she tugs harder and sends Kara toppling on the floor. A beat, then Lena straddles her, the hand offered to her earlier pinned on the floor beside Kara’s head.

She realizes now that she’s had better ideas in the past. She looks down at Kara, the satisfaction on her lips faltering with uncertainty of what she had just done—they’re close, too close, and her lungs are searching for air but Lena can’t find any to breathe in that isn’t Kara. The blonde stares at her for a moment, then two, her blue eyes wide with surprise—and then mirth.

"That's cheating," She laughs, so light and carefree that Lena finds herself laughing, too, her hesitance melting away to the sort of freedom and lightness she still can’t quite put a name on.

“Is it?” She says with a grin and a scrunch of her nose as she lets go of Kara’s hand. She smirks at the blonde. “I call it creative winning.”

The blonde laughs again, shakes her head with something like amused disbelief.

 

“Please don't fuck on my ring,” a familiar voice sighs. Lena looks to the direction of the voice and glares at the woman she finds.

“Must you always be so crass, Ronnie?” Lena mutters as she rolls off of Kara and helps her up. Kara gets up with a small groan and shakes the hand she had pinned on the floor.

“Sorry,” Lena apologizes softly, but Kara shrugs her off with a grin.

“I’m okay,” she assures, showing her hand and waggling her fingers at Lena. “Are you?”

Lena nods. She’s yet to audit her possible injuries, but she does feel the oncoming ache after a good sparring session. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to my—“ Lena pauses for a beat. “Friend,” she settles with, because isn’t that what Veronica is? She’s more than just an acquaintance now, and her prior assessment of the whole definition of friendship has placed her under that category. Besides, it’s much easier for her to tell Kara that Veronica is a friend instead of the long-winded explanation of Ronnie being an acquaintance, occasional business partner, and former classmate from boarding school.

A friend is a summary of those things, she supposes.

She misses the way Kara frowns, but the blonde is smiling as they make their way out of the ring. Veronica has her hands on her hips and Lena rolls her eyes at her. “Ronnie, meet Kara Danvers,” she says as she gestures to the blonde reporter. “She’s my friend. Kara, this is Veronica Sinclair.”

Veronica quirks an eyebrow at that but she offers Kara a hand. The blonde shakes it with such formality, and the smile on her face isn’t as warm as the ones Lena is used to, so she assumes Kara is intimated of the brunette. Understandably so; Veronica had a habit of wearing clothes that show off the tattoos that Lena is sure had been borne of mistakes from boarding school, and always had a scowl on her face like she plans on murdering people on sight.

 “Pleased to meet you,” Veronica smiles. Lena is glad she is at least trying to be nice. “Are you joining us for dinner?”

Kara glances helplessly at Lena at that. Lena shrugs as she starts removing her hand wraps. “You don’t have to, but we’ll be glad to have you,” she answers with a glance to Veronica. The woman just shrugs.

“As long as it’s somewhere I can afford?” Kara laughs. Lena is unsure if she’s serious. Considering her reaction to Lee’s, she might be.

It’s Veronica who chuckles. “Nonsense, my treat,” she dismisses, then waves her hand at the two with a scrunch of her nose. “Just please wash the filth off of you.”

Lena rolls her eyes at that, throws Veronica her boxing tape just to piss her off. “Excuse her, she’s a bitch at times. Come on, showers are this way.” They fetch their bags at the lockers and Lena guides Kara to the direction of the showers, almost falling on her face when she hears Veronica call after them.

“One at a time at the cubicles, Luthor!”

Lena scowls. She’s going to send her out of business.

//

They make their way down to Ludo, a small fine dining restaurant at the ground floor of the building, once Lena had finished drying her hair, much to Veronica’s annoyance. Lena has changed into jeans and a dark red blouse. Kara is wearing a white t-shirt and dark jeans, damp blonde hair over her shoulders—she insisted she preferred to let her hair dry naturally, which Lena assumes is the reason her hair looked so soft. She looks like the most laidback person there is, and Lena won’t admit to staring—observing—as she folded the sleeves of her shirt up while the server gets their order.

“Anyone thirsty?” Veronica says, and when Lena glares at she just smiles, too patronizingly sweet for the CEO’s taste. “We make sure we have the best wines in the city here.”

Kara tries not to appear fazed, but Lena catches the slightest widening of her eyes. “You- You own this place too?”

Veronica shakes her head distractedly. “Co-partners. With Lena actually,” she casually says as she peruses the menu. Lena shrugs when Kara looks at her at that. “Oh, the 2003 Latour Bordeaux is fantastic. Diana and I tried it.” She shoots Lena a look that says shut up before glancing at the reporter. “You are getting steak, correct?”

Kara lights up at that. She nods, glances at the server and asks for a ribeye steak, medium rare. Veronica hums and tells the server she’s getting the same, with ­a side of potatoes—which Kara orders too, quickly afterwards, with a bashful smile over at Lena. The raven-haired woman asks for a filet mignon, and with a quick recap of their orders, the server is off.

“So. Kara,” Veronica starts, leaning back against her seat. Lena quirks an eyebrow at her but the other brunette ignores her. “What do you do?”

Kara gives her a smile and waves a hand. “Oh, I’m a reporter. Well, junior reporter, at CatCo Media.” She reaches for her absent glasses and ends up scratching her temple instead. Lena realizes that fiddling with her glasses is more a nervous tick right now than a habit, especially given the way Veronica looks at her like she’s trying to take a read of her. “I’m training as an investigative reporter though, so there’s that.”

Veronica lets out a small laugh. “And you fight like that?”

Kara chuckles and shrugs. “My sister is an FBI agent who thinks I should be able to defend myself.”

“Defend is right,” she muses. “You just kicked a black belter’s ass.”

Kara looks confused for a moment, then her mouth drops as she glances at Lena. “Oh. That is so cool! Wow, what can’t you do?”

There’s amazement in Kara’s bright blue eyes that makes Lena fluster. She looks down at her hands and shrugs. “It’s a requirement to stay alive.”

“She can’t take compliments,” Veronica drawls. Kara chuckles at that while Lena mutters why do I know you, just as their server returns with their wine. Lena has to admit the wine is good, and before she could ask the particular circumstances upon which she and this Diana had drank this wine, she’s throwing Kara another question again.  

“And what are you into?”

Kara coughs lightly on her wine at that. She throws Lena an apologetic glance as she wipes her mouth with the napkin, before turning to Veronica. “Like- Like my... My interests?” She asks with a clear of her throat.

“Sure,” Veronica shrugs.

Kara blinks and stammers, glancing at the brunette then Lena. “Um- Well, food, I suppose?” She rubs the corner of her right eyebrow with her index finger and laughs awkwardly. Lena wonders if Kara isn’t used to being the one interrogated, despite all her coolness when it comes to asking her own questions. Lena tries to offer her a comforting smile because she doesn’t have to tell Veronica anything, then sends the brunette a dark glare because Lena doesn’t know what she is playing at. “I have a puppy,” Kara continues. “I like to read, and uh- oh, I like penguins.” She grins at that. Lena remembers how excited she had been, some nights before, as she told her all about penguins—a sort of childlike wonder Lena isn’t sure she ever had.

“Penguins,” Veronica echoes. Lena turns to her with a raise of an eyebrow that has whatever the woman is supposed to say die down on her lips. Instead, she smiles. “Did you know the local zoo is set to house penguins for conversation in a few weeks?”

It isn’t subtle, the way Kara vibrates with excitement. Lena looks curiously at Veronica at that, wondering just when, exactly, she had become invested in penguins, and hopes to god she didn’t smuggle them to National City. Veronica hadn’t smuggled anything since she took a stolen painting back to the gallery it was displayed in.

“I haven’t, that’s amazing!” Kara gasps, grins at the raven-haired woman like she’s proud she is sharing this moment with her, and there’s that rush in Lena’s chest, yet again. “Do you know what breeds?”

 “A couple of king penguins for conservation, and I think some Humboldt,” Veronica explains. As if she could read Lena’s mind, she rolls her eyes at her. “I’ve since coursed some of our funds to certain organizations involving environmental conservation and the like.”

Kara smiles. “That’s amazing.”

 “Didn’t know you were into charity work,” Lena muses.

Veronica sighs and sips her wine. “Lo- Attraction,” she clarifies with a scoff, “makes one do silly things, Lena.”

//

Dinner is spent with light chatter that’s mostly about Kara. Most of the things Veronica had asked about were of things Lena already knew; still, it had been nice to listen to Kara talk. After the first few questions she had began to relax, especially when the food arrived, and the warm smile Lena had been familiar with had found its way on Kara’s features, finally. She talks of her job at CatCo, and Krypto, of course, and though she seems more reserved than Lena is used to, Kara is still excited, positivity that is charming and contagious that had Lena smiling and laughing all throughout—except when Kara shared that she drives her motorcycle to work and back which just had Lena worrying for her safety.

Though, she is quite curious how Kara looks in a leather jacket, as had been hinted by Ronnie.

 Lena hasn’t noticed the time but Kara fishes her ringing phone from her gym bag and curses under her breath. Looking up at the two in apology, she grabs for her wallet. “Sorry to eat and run, but um, I have to make a quick grocery trip because I have to get dog food. Also human food.” She laughs lightly. “How much do I—”

“It’s fine, Kara,” Veronica assures with a wave of her hand. “Go ahead.”

Kara turns to Lena then, smile much softer. Lena nods. “Can’t have you starving Krypto,” she teases. “Take care, please.”

The blonde nods too, picks up her bag from the floor and hangs the strap over her shoulder. She stands and clutches the strap, gestures for the doorway. “I’ll see you soon?”

Lena hopes the hope on her face isn’t too obvious. “Of course. Text me when you get home?”

Kara nods again before waving them goodbye and walking out of the restaurant. Lena follows her with her gaze—it’s dark outside now, but she catches the last glance Kara throws to their direction before she disappears from view. Lena wonders if she’s bringing her motorcycle, and if she’s wearing a leather jacket, too.

 “She’s something,” Veronica says, and Lena manages to drag her gaze from the doorway where Kara had walked out from.

“Something seems so vague,” she muses.

“How did you two meet again?” The brunette asks, eyeing Lena like she has so many things to say. “She’s not someone usually from your...circle.” She chuckles. “I mean—isn’t she too bright and sunny for you?”

Lena shrugs and takes a sip of her wine. “From that professional cuddling company you recommended.”

Veronica raises an eyebrow. “She’s your cuddler?”

“Used to be,” Lena clarifies. She stares at her half-empty wine glass. “We’re friends now, though. She quit some weeks ago.”

“She quit,” the woman echoes.

Lena nods. Veronica hums in thought. “Because of you?”

The CEO glances at her companion at that and laughs. “Why would she quit because of me? She got a raise and said she didn’t need the extra income anymore, so.”

Veronica tilts her head, looking at Lena like...she’s thinking. It makes the raven-haired woman squirm with the intensity of her gaze and she barely manages to demand what? until Veronica relents and nods. Lena takes a long pull of her wine.

“She makes you happy though,” Veronica points out. Lena quirks an eyebrow. “I haven’t seen or heard you smile and laugh like that in a long time.”

Lena hasn’t really noticed. Hasn’t noticed, too, that Veronica had taken notice, or they had known each other long enough for her to observe such fact. So maybe they have been friends for some time, after all, it’s just that Lena—well, Lena just assumed people fell in the default categories that are mostly business-related since that is what her life is: employees, investors, colleagues, business partners.

“She’s a great friend,” Lena murmurs. Veronica chuckles and reaches for her wine.

“Sure,” the other woman drawls. “A friend.”

Lena laughs lightly. “She didn’t threaten to cut off my spleen the first time we met.”

“I don’t think she has the capacity to do that,” Veronica muses. “I mean, she probably can, but she won’t.”

“She’s...” Lena shrugs and glances to the doorway where Kara had left. Her voice turns softer. “She doesn’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”

“You haven’t,” Veronica affirms. Lena sighs and glances at her. “That was Lex’s doing, not yours.”

“You know what I mean,” she relents. They haven’t had this conversation in a long time; she and Veronica aren’t the type to talk of such personal things, choosing instead to focus on other matters such as business, politics, or the arts. “You’re not most people. Most people would...” She trails off, drums her fingers on the base of her wine glass. “She’s- She’s different. First of her kind in my life, I think, so I’m a little,” she looks up and shrugs as she looks for the right word, “I don’t know, confused? On how to handle my friendship with her.”

Confused is one way to describe it. There are so many other words she can use to describe the whole situation with Kara but confused summarizes them. She chalks it up to the outrageous need building in her for touch, for some sort of connection with her sun, so much so that her only source of warmth can’t seem to leave her mind.

Veronica smiles, almost fondly that Lena is almost surprised. “We don’t have the best references for that one, Luthor.” She tilts her head. “She might, though. I’m pretty sure someone like her makes friends out of everyone.”

Lena purses her lips in thought. Ronnie is right, Kara would have better references when it comes to how to handle friendships, so perhaps she should follow her lead on how to go about this whole thing. Kara hadn’t said anything bad about the steps Lena had taken, no matter how uncertain they have felt to her, so maybe she hasn’t done anything wrong yet.

Perhaps everything is going fine, so far, and maybe Lena had just been overthinking things. She sighs and smiles over at Veronica. “You’re probably right.”

“I always am,” the brunette shrugs. “She seems to like you though. I mean. She wrote that article on you, didn’t she?”

Lena nods and smiles. “That was...” That was something. Lena is still overflowing with gratitude for it because no one has ever done something like that for her. “She did,” she settles with, fond smile on her lips and the memory of Kara’s words in her mind. Lena thinks it’s touching, a tad too kind for someone to do, but it’s one thing that Kara Danvers, as she has come to know her, would end up doing either way.

Veronica chuckles but doesn’t say anything.

“What’s funny?” The CEO prods.

Veronica shakes her head and shrugs. “Nothing. It was nice catching up with you.”

Lena scowls. “You can’t call that catching up, Ronnie. All you did was ask Kara things.”

“Don’t be dramatic,” Veronica laughs. “You’ve been good, yes?”

Lena rolls her eyes.

//

Lena and Veronica stay for another hour at Ludo, actually catching up over wine. Veronica tells her of her Paris trip and Diana Prince, who had helped her reclaim and verify two paintings she had prior acquired. Legally, she clarified. Lena talks about Biomax and L-Corp’s partnership with Wayne Enterprises, and surprisingly, Veronica apologizes for missing the launch.

They go their separate ways later. Lena walks back home, and just as she enters her apartment, her phone rings with a message in her pocket.

Kara. Her message reads I hope you’re not feeling sore or anything, but that was fun. We’re even now though, because you totally cheated.

Thanks for dinner, too. Tell Veronica I’m glad to have met her?

Lena stares at the messages. She pads to the living room where she collapses on the couch with a sigh. There’s a bruise forming on her forearm from blocking Kara’s quite powerful side kick and there’s an ache that she would still probably feel come Monday, but it had been fun. She can confirm now that indeed, her soft, cuddly friend can be, in fact, a killing machine, but Veronica is right—she doesn’t think Kara could hurt a fly.

I will. I’m bruising beautifully, thanks for asking. And I totally won, too.

The reply is quick, like always. Only because of your dirty tactics, you Luthor, it reads, and if it were anyone else, Lena would have assumed malice. Instead, it only serves to pull amused laughter from her lips.

Another message comes in, then another, that read you’re not winning next time, and sorry, warm compress helps a lot though, should I bring you one?, and there’s the now familiar rush in her chest again, one she can’t quite identify, but one she associates with solely Kara now. There’s an offer, too, for a next time, for right now, and Lena finds herself smiling at her phone.

We’ll see about that. No need to bring me one, I have a couple, she replies.

Okay, but can I treat the winner for donuts soon? is Kara’s reply, and there’s the rush again, a lightness that manifests in Lena despite the growing ache in her bones that she can’t quite put on a name on yet.

Whenever you want, Kara. 

Chapter Text

The first thing Lena wakes up to the next day is the searing ache in her screaming bones. She groans as she stirs; it’s the familiar pain that stems from getting her ass kicked, and it’s not something she commonly suffers through or one she particularly enjoys. She rolls to her back and blinks blearily at the ceiling. At it, she remembers the way Kara had pinned her down, with much pride and delight, then remembers how Kara had laughed when Lena had flipped their positions, those now-familiar blue eyes sparkling with unabashed glee and freedom.

There is something about them that captivates Lena, like a good scientific problem, and the thought of it makes her remember the entire situation she had been thinking through two nights back.

The weird longing for Kara’s hugs was thankfully not as fierce last night, but she chalks it up to her exhaustion as soon as she had landed in bed. She groans and covers her eyes with her arm because now, she is thinking of it again—of Kara, again, her arms around Lena and warm breath tickling her skin and those memories of stars on pale cheeks.

This is getting out of hand.

The last time she had fixated on an unnamed emotion like this, it was an amalgamation of so many things—confusion, anger, resentment, helplessness, regret, some emotions of too many—when she had learned of what Lex had done. She was twenty-two, barely a few months in her work at the Metropolis L-Corp biotech division, and hours later she is being summoned by a panel of lawyers and the Board of Directors because, according to the protocol, Lex had left everything for her to run.

She had cried that night, as she watched the news, learned of all the casualties, saw the explosions and the fires that took so many and destroyed so much. And for all the unfeeling ruthlessness a Luthor is supposed to have, like what the news had said, she felt so much—confusion at the reasons Lex had done such a horrifying act; anger at him for it, for all he had taken; resentment of him, for leaving everything for her to deal with; helplessness, because what was she to do?

Regret, so much of it, for letting her beloved brother fall into such darkness.

Confusion because what had happened to her amazing brother? She believed him good and kind and that wasn’t something Lex Luthor could do. Anger at herself, because how could she have missed the signs? Resentment at the universe, because it wasn’t fair, this wasn’t fair, none of it was fair—and helplessness because what was she to do, without him to guide her every step, and regret, so much of it, for letting her beloved brother fall into such darkness and having done nothing to stop him.

And all those things in one night, in one person, had been too much, and they had been too much for the next days and weeks, even after almost three years.

(At the end, she guesses, despite everything, her emotions then and now could have all trickled down to pain.)

And yet, as she remembers Kara’s words when Lena told her about how it’s almost second nature now, to be terrified of being just like him—that Lena is too good and too smart to follow in his path, so Kara said—she sometimes finds herself displacing such words with their meanings. Because Lex had been good, too, hasn’t he? Good and kind, and sometimes, she wonders what the words even mean.

Words. They hold so much power, don’t they? Labels to simply quantify the complicated inner workings of humanity, placing upon them definitions and parameters that make so many things, like feelings and emotions, easier to explain and have other people understand.

But what then are feelings she has no words for? Do they simply not exist? 

It’s excruciating, how she grew up looking up to Lex, only for everything she thought she knew about him to come crumbling down. Was that how life worked? She doesn’t quite have an answer. Not really.

And it’s lack of answers now, to her specific concern regarding Kara, that has her trying to break down what she is feeling in search for a label to put on it, if only to make herself understand. At the moment, she has a few choice ones: confusion and frustration jumbled up with a sort of yearning it’s almost annoying, yet at the same time it’s also comfortable and warm.

Are friendships this emotionally tedious?

She huffs to herself and reaches blindly for her phone on the bedside table. The time tells her she needs to get up, her stomach telling her to get breakfast. There are two messages from Kara from half an hour back, one asking how she is feeling, the other a blurred photo of Krypto captioned who’s excited to go walk?????

Lena replies good morning, you two, then lifts her arm to check the bruise on her bicep, purple now and a little tender to the touch. It’s the worst of what she got, the rest just absolutely aching muscles.  She tells Kara I’m fine, bruise is healing nicely, and you?, then stares at the message window to wait for Kara’s reply—except the bouncing bubbles don’t come in any sooner, which is new, because Kara’s replies are always quick. Lena yawns, puts her phone down beside her and curls up into the cool of her sheets.

She ends up falling asleep for another hour. When she finally rolls out of bed, there still isn’t a reply from Kara. Must be a busy Sunday then, she assumes, and she breaks down her disappointment at the lack of reply as something brought about by a break in the familiar rhythm of it. She heads to the kitchen to prepare brunch instead, after which she showers, and when her usual routine is done, she heads to her home office to work on emails and start on her side projects.

She is in the middle of a coding binge later that afternoon, wine beside her laptop and speakers blasting epic orchestral music in her home office, when her phone vibrates on her desk. Finishing a line of code before reaching for her phone, she finds Kara calling. Curious and concerned, she mutes her music and answers the call quickly. She is greeted with a sniffle that has Lena sitting up straight, body winding tight with worry.

“Kara?” She says after a few beats of silence. “What’s wrong?”

“Are you busy?” Kara asks. Lena says no. The blonde sighs and sniffles again that Lena’s grip on her phone tightens. “I- I have a huge favor to ask,” Kara continues softly.

“Anything,” Lena replies quickly, already getting up from her desk and closing her laptop.

“So I—” Kara pauses, sighs again. “This is going to sound stupid, but I- Um, Mrs. Needleberg found out about- about Krypto today. Because I got too excited about- about getting him this really cute leash and- and—” Kara sniffles, and Lena clenches her fists with the urge to hold her. “She’s kicking me out, unless I get rid of Krypto.”

Lena’s heart falls at that. She grits her teeth. She thought Mrs. Needleberg was a nice old lady. Apparently not. “I’m sorry, Kara,” she whispers.

Kara lets out a defeated breath. “It’s okay. I was just- Okay, I’ve already asked everyone but Alex and Maggie’s and Winn’s apartments don’t allow pets and James says Lucy is allergic, so I- I was wondering...” Kara trails off, sniffles again. Lena is on auto-pilot, full attention on Kara’s trembling voice over the phone yet already making her way out of her room and readying her purse. “If- if you could please, please let him stay with you for just a day or two? I’ve already called up places and I... I will be eternally grateful if you would please—”

“Kara,” Lena interrupts softly. The blonde stops talking Lena thinks she hears her whimper. It’s heartbreaking, the way it sounds, and Lena is brimming with this urge to somehow protect her. “Honey, it’s not a problem,” she continues, hoping her voice would help soothe the clearly anxious blonde. “Where are you? Do you need me to pick you up?”

“No, no, I—” Kara clears her throat. “I took him out walking, because Mrs. Needleberg insists he isn’t allowed back inside, ever, and...”

When she trails off to quietness, Lena chews her lip with worry. “Where are you?”

There is another stretch of silence. “We’re walking to your apartment,” Kara says after several seconds.

Lena curses mentally. “Right. Um, I’m not there, but,” she insists before Kara could say anything. “I’ll tell security to let you in and I’ll give you the override for the biometrics. Just go there and rest, please, you sound exhausted, and I’ll be there soon, alright?”

She doesn’t wait for Kara to reply, just takes off in haste, grabbing her purse and car keys then sprinting out of her main apartment. Kara agrees though, thanks her, and Lena ends the call with a promise to call her back. Lena forgets that she isn’t wearing anything remotely presentable, just an old faded MIT shirt and yoga pants, and her hair is in a messy bun. She doesn’t look like Lena Luthor, L-Corp CEO, but she isn’t able to worry about anything else aside from Kara and the mental to-do list she has as she gets into her car to speed her way to her other apartment.

Why did she get two apartments, anyway? It’s a terrible decision, in retrospect.

She puts her phone on speaker and dials her building security, telling them to let Kara in as soon as she arrives. When the call ends, she connects to Kara again, asks her if she knew Morse code. Lena isn’t really surprised when she says she does, and she is grateful for whatever reason Kara decided to learn it—perhaps her sister, too?—and instructs her how to bypass her biometrics lock with the Morse entry code. Bless Lena’s foresight and paranoia for putting it in place.

Lena runs over two red lights in her hurry to go to Kara, almost ditching politeness when she arrives at the building and quickly hands her car keys to the front desk to please, park it, and impatiently waits for the elevator to arrive. She runs to her unit, aching muscles forgotten, almost rips the door open and only calming down, though barely, when she finds Kara curled up on her couch, looking frazzled, cradling Krypto on her lap. There is a small tote bag by her feet. The puppy seems to be looking at her with worry, and when Kara seems to take notice of Lena, she looks up, red-rimmed, bright blue eyes tearing up behind skewed glasses. The blonde pulls her into her orbit and Lena rushes to her, a concerned frown marring her features.

“Hey,” Lena coos. “How are- Are you- What are you—”

Oh great. Of all the days her words would fail her, it had to be now. Kara doesn’t seem to notice though, she just snivels at Lena like how she saw the world has been turned upside down. Sadness isn’t something Lena is used to see on Kara, despite that one night she had cried, and Lena’s heart breaks for her all over again.

“She kicked him, Lena,” Kara says, voice a cross between a whine and a sob. “He wasn’t even doing anything, he just wanted to play with her.”

For all her hesitation with the whole cuddling thing, Lena finds herself settling on the couch beside Kara and pulling her into an embrace, if only to let Kara know that she’s fine, that Krypto is fine, too, in a way that her words can’t seem to express.

“I’m so, so sorry, Kara,” she whispers. Kara sniffles and Krypto barks. Lena feels him wag his tail between them. She pulls back a bit, apologizes to him, but he is focused on trying to hop on Kara’s lap and lick her tears away. The blonde chuckles wetly and pats his head.

“Don’t worry, bud,” Kara mumbles. “Won’t let her take you away from me.”

Mrs. Needleberg’s image in Lena’s head is no longer of a caring old woman now, but of an evil bitch with evil eyes and a predilection to eating children and dreams. Lena never really hated anyone. Hate is such a strong emotion, such a strong word, and she did not need that much negativity in her life. The closest she has to feeling it is her despite towards Morgan Edge, because he is an overall terrible person who plays dirty, but now, this Mrs. Needleberg is taking over his place.

Lena has never been so close to hating someone.

“She isn’t taking him away, Kar,” she assures. She squeezes Kara’s shoulder and offers her a comforting smile. “He can stay here for as long as he needs, but you seem to need some rest too.” She makes a move to get up from the couch, but Kara reaches for her hand. Lena ignores the rush in her chest and squeezes her hand. “You’re not bringing much as far as I can see, but you look exhausted, so how about you get some rest?” She offers. “I’ll get you a change of clothes and have Chinese delivered for dinner. I think it’s better if you stay with Krypto at least for the night, too, just to ease him to the place.”

Kara seems to think about that for a full minute, but she lets go of Lena’s hand with a nod and a small smile that feels so forced Lena aches. She goes to her bedroom and looks for a comfortable change of clothes as she mentally sets up her next steps, then returns to Kara with a question on what brand of dog food Krypto eats and instructions to the bathroom. Krypto follows her there, and Lena watches her leave before she’s taking her phone out and setting up her calls.

First, to Auntie Cho’s—she has since gotten her number to order in advance when she has cravings—for an order of Kara’s usual, later for dinner. Second, to Dr. Langley, who she knew had four dogs and two cats, for things she needed to buy for Krypto. Third, the nearby supermarket where she has her groceries bought from, for a delivery of Krypto’s preferred dog food and everything Sarah had just recommended.

She ends the call with a thank you just as Kara makes her way back from the bathroom, dressed in Lena’s shirt and track pants, puppy in her arms. She ignores the fluttering in her stomach at the sight and informs Kara that food for her and Krypto will be delivered soon, and offers for her to nap for a while.

Kara nods but hesitates. “Will you follow?”

Lena blinks at that but she smiles and nods too. “Yes. I just need to make one more phone call.”

At that, Kara shuffles to the bedroom. Lena watches her go as she dials her phone. After two rings, the line connects.

“Mr. Murdock,” she greets her lawyer with a sigh. “I apologize for calling you on a weekend. Can you come meet me tomorrow at your earliest convenience?” She ambles to the direction of the bedroom. “I need something settled as soon as possible.” The sooner the better, she says, and Matt agrees to meet her with Foggy at nine in the morning.

After the last call she makes her way to the bedroom, where Kara is sitting on the bed, petting and murmuring to Krypto. Lena smiles at Kara when she looks up.

“I thought you were going to sleep,” Lena whispers. Kara bites her lip and shrugs.

“Yeah, but I—” She looks down at Krypto and shrugs again. “I was- Can we- Will you hold me?” She asks, voice small like she is ashamed she’s asking. “I’m sorry, that must sound so stupi—”

“Hey,” Lena interrupts softly. She sits on the bed and squeezes Kara’s shoulder. “Not stupid. You had a stressful day.”

Kara sighs heavily at that but doesn’t move, and Lena figures she is feeling a little uncertain. Lena is too, if she is being honest, so it’s odd how easy the motions come to her as she settles on the pillows and gestures for Kara to lay down, too. Kara does, after a few moments, and she lays beside Lena, her head tucked in her shoulder, body angled towards her, Krypto between them. Kara takes a shuddering breath that has remnant of tears, and Lena, in an attempt to chase them away, pulls Kara close to her with an arm on her waist and a whisper of you’re okay, Kara on her ear.

Lena is going to deny the way her heart raced with hope at that, because the situation she is in does not permit any sort of gratitude at the chance of being in Kara’s arms again—or actually, for the first time, for Kara to be in her arms. Her friend just had a stressful day, and it’s wrong, so wrong for hope to bloom in her chest, so she wills her brain to shut up and tries to offer Kara the same warmth she had always given Lena. They lay in silence and Lena thinks Kara is asleep, until she speaks many minutes later.

“Thank you for taking him in,” Kara murmurs. “This is a pretty big favor. I wouldn’t have asked if I had another choice. I just couldn’t leave him anywhere.” There’s trust in her words, trust Lena has never been given before.

“It’s alright, Kara,” Lena assures. “Anytime. Anything.”

//

The deliveries arrive a little more than an hour later. Lena assures that the dog food, bowls, and treats are not a bother, and when Kara finally relents with a quiet nod, they share dinner. It’s shocking that Kara barely touches her food but Lena just keeps silent, and the rest of the night had been wordless, so Lena did her best to comfort her friend with reassuring smiles and, when Kara had shyly asked to be held again later, cuddles.

Despite them, though, and her supposed longing for Kara’s embrace to sleep in peace, Lena’s sleep had been fitful from worrying. When Kara had fallen asleep in her exhaustion, Lena spends some time working until Kara stirs, though she doesn’t wake. Lena closes her laptop at it and pulls the blonde in her arms again, spends some minutes counting her eyelashes before she falls asleep, finally, sometime after midnight.

The next day, Kara is awake before Lena is. The CEO finds her in the kitchen, preparing breakfast for Lena, saying it’s a simple way of thanking her. They share breakfast together. Krypto seems to be adjusting well, running around the house with excited steps, and even Kara laughs when he stumbles over the toy he keeps chasing.

After breakfast, Kara asks Lena if it’s okay to leave Krypto in the apartment because she has to go to scheduled interviews with her sources then look for a new place.

“Actually, I can bring him to L-Corp,” Lena offers as she helps clean up the table. “If you don’t mind.”

“Really?” Kara asks with a hopeful smile. “That- That would be nice. I wouldn’t want him to be left alone,” she murmurs. “My apartment’s close to CatCo that I can drop by on him during lunch, you know? So he doesn’t have to wait too long for me.”

Lena nods and promises it’s perfectly fine. Since Kara didn’t have anything to wear, she tells Lena she has to go back to her apartment, but she does leave Lena the tote bag—which apparently contains only Krypto’s stuff. When she checks it, she finds some of his treats, a bone-shaped chew toy, his penguin backpack, and a dark blue leash printed with tiny penguin heads.

 “Is this the leash?” Lena asks, taking it out of the bag.

Kara smiles sadly. “The unlucky leash, yeah.”

Lena smiles at her, too. “It is cute, you know,” she affirms, and Kara’s lips quirk up into something that is more cheerful. The blonde pets Krypto and hugs Lena by the doorway, hesitance in her features as she looks at her puppy then Lena.

“He’ll be okay,” Lena promises. Kara just nods, like that isn’t exactly what she means, but she leaves with a soft thank you.

//

Lena has zero experiences with taking care of a pet, or any animal in general. She isn’t even exaggerating. The only life she has ever had the direct opportunity to take care of was a succulent on the window of the lab-slash-garage she had rented with Jack, and even then that had died. So really, Lena is perfectly allowed to worry about taking care of Krypto, and she spends the time she has while waiting for Frank to arrive to speed-read articles on how to keep a dog alive and preparing his things for the day. She puts his toy and some treats in his backpack before making him wear it and latches the cute penguin leash on him. She also readies a paper bag with his food, some training pads, and a big roll of tissue paper for her to bring to the office, and by the time Frank has arrived, Lena likes to think she would survive the day with both her and Krypto whole.

Except Krypto is excitable and he bolts out of the apartment elevator as soon as it opens. Lena is caught by surprise, hand loose around his leash, and he runs the fuck out of the building. Lena tries to run after him—tries, because she is wearing heels and no matter how used to them she is, she can’t for the life of her run after an overly-excitable puppy. Thankfully, Frank catches him, and he laughs as he greets the panting Lena.

“Good morning, Miss Luthor,” he grins as he opens the door for her. “Didn’t know you have company this morning.”

Lena sighs as she takes Krypto into the car with her. “I’m going to pray he doesn’t run out like that every time,” she mumbles.

Except he does, and Lena learns, after having him bolt out of every opening door—first the car door, then the L-Corp elevator doors—to keep a tight hold on his leash. If her employees were surprised about her bringing a canine to work, they don’t say anything, they just ask for her permission to pet him and take pictures of him, and the morning walk to her office is filled with coos and baby talk and Krypto absolutely loving the attention.

Lena takes a picture of Jess taking a picture of Krypto, proudly sitting and modeling his penguin backpack, and sends it to Kara with he is such a star, and I have ran at least a kilometer this morning just chasing after him.

Kara replies with a so sorry, he really likes the outdoors, and wait, also the indoors actually, and really really sorry!!!, but Lena dismisses her and promises her it’s perfectly fine, because it is, and she really doesn’t want to worry Kara much more than she already is.

Her lawyers meet her at nine, on the dot, and Lena apologizes for the ball of fur bouncing around her office as they talked. For their part, Matt and Foggy just laugh and pet him, too.

Charming little furball.

“I apologize for the urgency, but I need a building bought.” Lena tells them. Foggy finally relaxes his shoulders at that, and Lena chuckles. She wonders what Matt told him. “As soon as possible, actually, preferably before the day ends. Think you can do that for me?”

Matt laughs softly. “Am I blind?” He jokes.

Lena smiles and shakes her head at that. “Very well. Jess has all publicly-available records you need to help secure a deal,” she explains. She had spent the night before collecting them herself while Kara slept. She contains her disapproval of Mrs. Needleberg. “As much as I want this building bought, please—”

“Be fair,” Foggy cuts in. “We will, Miss Luthor.” He smiles warmly at her. Lena likes him. Both of them, actually. They aren’t the typical blood-thirsty lawyers who worship money that seem to pollute the business world, and she is glad she had them on her side.

“Alright,” she finishes. There’s a bark. Foggy looks down and laughs. Lena sighs. “If he’s asking for a treat with his puppy dog eyes, ignore him. I’ve given him one before you came in.”

“You can’t expect me to say no to this face, Miss Luthor,” Foggy jokes, and Lena just sighs again, because he’s right. She opens her drawer where she had placed the canister of dog treats and calls for Krypto. He bounces over and takes the doggy biscuit with an excited wag of his tail.

“Call me as soon as there is any news,” she tells them as they stand.

Matt nods. “If I may ask, Miss Luthor,” he starts with a polite smile. “Urgent project?”

Lena pauses and glances at Krypto, who sits on his hind legs and looks up at her with a silent request for another treat. “An investment, more like,” she says, as she feeds him another.

Veronica’s words linger at the back of her mind and she shakes her head. She’s trying to repay Kara, is all. Friends do this all the time, right?

Matt nods and the two leave with a promise of a call in the afternoon.

//

Krypto is sleeping, finally, several hours later. He lays guard by Lena’s feet as she works on her emails, taking note of a particular one from her PR team about Morgan Edge. She has just sent a reply when there is a knock on the door. She tells them to come in and Lena looks up, only for the breath in her lungs to vanish at the sight of Kara. The blonde smiles at the CEO shyly as she enters her office, in what Lena thinks is her usual work attire of a shirt tucked in pants and her ponytail. She holds up a paper bag from Bella Italia and fidgets with her glasses as she says hi. Before she could continue, Krypto is up and bolting to her direction, running around her feet as Lena tells her to come in.

“I- I wanted to check on him,” Kara says shyly.  “I also brought you lunch as thanks? It’s from the Italian place downstairs.” She shrugs. “It’s the least I can do.”

Lena tells her it’s fine. She hadn’t even noticed the time, and she invites Kara to settle down by the couch. The blonde gets the food out—she got Lena’s favorite pasta, and the raven-haired woman ignores the rush in her chest at the sight of it and instead asks how Kara is feeling.

“I found a place,” she says as they start eating. “It’s kind of far from CatCo but it’s pet-friendly, and I told the landlord I’ll check in later with a few of my things because I’m pretty sure I’ll get it.”

Lena frowns at that. “I’m sorry, Kara.”

Kara gives her a dismissive wave. “It’s fine. I should be sorry,” she says with a self-deprecating chuckle. “You must think I’m weird, crying and panicking over something like this.”

Lena’s frown deepens at that and wonders briefly who said what to Kara for her to think that. There’s an urge to protect her again, because if there is someone who deserves all the kind words in the world, it’s Kara. “I don’t,” she assures. “I’m glad you’re the one who picked him up all those months ago. He’s a lucky pup.”

Lunch is quiet for the most part, and it isn’t even the comfortable kind of silence. She had those with Kara, during their cuddle sessions before. The stillness is laced with worry and she can practically hear Kara thinking throughout.

“I’m sure things will work out just fine, Kara,” Lena promises. Kara manages a smile at that. It isn’t as bright as Lena is used to but it doesn’t feel forced, at least, just gratefu. Kara thanks her, and she stays for a few more minutes petting and playing with Krypto before she leaves reluctantly. Lena watches her go.

//

Lena leaves her office after lunch for a meeting. Krypto runs out of the office as soon as she opens the door, and he is thankfully stopped by Quinn from her PR team before he could escape into the elevator. She and some others suggest for Lena to let him roam around, and Lena agrees because he doesn’t want him to be alone in the next two hours in her office.

After the meeting, she receives a call. Foggy’s smiling voice greets her. “It’s been taken care of, Miss Luthor,” he starts, and Lena sighs in relief. “Completely on market value as well.”

“Thank you,” she says as she makes her way back to the office. She finds a different group of people playing fetch with Krypto and shakes her head in amusement. “Job very well done as usual, Foggy.”

Foggy laughs. “All in a day’s work, Miss Luthor. You wanted the announcement for new management sent out to all tenants?”

Lena hums and nods. “As soon as possible.”

“Already done,” he replies proudly. Lena laughs, thanks him again, and approaches Krypto who greets her with a pant and an excited wag of his tail. The group of three men, who are from the IT department this time, look timid and ready to be scolded, but Lena just tilts her head at them and reaches out her hand.

“Can I try?”

//

Everyone, literally everyone, greets Krypto a goodbye when Lena leaves the office that she almost feels jealous. The puppy replies with a bark that had them gushing, and he thankfully doesn’t bolt out of the building doors when they walk out. Frank greets him first before he greets Lena, much to the woman’s amusement, and he laughs as she tells him to drive to CatCo to pick up Kara first.

The blonde looks exhausted when she climbs into the car, but she just says she’s fine when Lena asks and instead inquires about Krypto.

“He’s been a very good boy,” Lena smiles as she looks at the puppy on Kara’s lap, who adores her attention. “I’m actually considering making L-Corp pet-friendly as well,” she muses. “I don’t think our employees have been as lively as when I walked in led by a penguin backpack-carrying ball of energy. We could feed off of it, perhaps.”

Kara at least laughs at that, mellow but cheerful, before she falls back into her contemplative silence. “Hey,” she murmurs after a while. “You think you can spare an hour or two to give him company while I pack some of my stuff?”

Lena frowns at that. “You took the apartment?”

“Well. Not yet, but better to get my things ready, right?” Kara shrugs. “So I don’t have to bother you much. We can just sneak him in; I don’t think that matters anymore because I’m good as gone anyway.”

Lena sighs and glances down to pet Krypto. “He’s never a bother. Right, buddy?”

Krypto licks her hand. Lena smiles at him, and when she looks up she finds Kara’s gaze on her. There is a rush in her chest that she ignores yet again.

//

They go to Kara’s apartment, Krypto on his leash and casually trotting through the hallway. When Kara opens her unit, she finds a letter by the door as Krypto runs inside.

“Oh god, it’s my official eviction letter,” she groans as she bends over to pick it up. She opens it, mumbling. “There goes my security deposi—” Kara pauses as she seems to read the letter. “Wait. They’re changing managements?” She glances over at Lena. The raven-haired woman is biting her lip to hold back a smile, instead tries to act confused—she isn’t supposed to react, after all. The whole buying-a-building-for-her-friend thing is supposed to be a secret. She remembers Kara’s reaction to Lee’s very vividly, and Lena doesn’t want her to react like that or worse, just because she wanted to help her out. “Oh my go- I need- Wait, I need to call—” She fumbles for her phone in her bag and dials with a shaky hand.

“Hi,” she breathes out. Lena watches her start pacing to the kitchen as she fidgets with her glasses, letter still in hand. She looks nervous and hopeful at the same time, and Lena wants to reach out to try to calm her down. “Hi! I- I’m a tenant at 6D and- yes, Danvers, yes, yes, I got your letter, thank you, and I just wanted to clarify if you allowed pets now? Yes? Yes? Oh my— Thank you, Mister—? Mr. Nelson. Thank you! Gosh, thank you so much!”

When she ends the call, she looks at Lena with such a disarming smile that the raven-haired woman is only able to smile back, and before she can ask what happened, Kara is tackling her into a tight hug. Lena chalks up her breathlessness to the grip she is held with, and not the way Kara melts into her and breathes her in before sighing in what sounds like relief.

“You’re a lucky charm,” she mumbles against Lena’s neck.  

Lena masks her shudder with a chuckle and hugs Kara back. She takes notice of the way she smells—not overtly sweet like some perfume, but more like berries. Her shampoo, perhaps. She closes her eyes and sighs softly, arms around Kara. “What happened?” She finally asks.

Kara gives her one last squeeze before pulling back, though not fully. Her hands are on Lena’s bicep and she meets green gaze. Her ocean eyes are so blue with joy and on her lips is a smile that’s brighter than a summer day that Lena finds herself mirroring it, though Kara is a sun and Lena, her moon, could never match its warmth. She takes off explaining what happened, how the building management has changed now and that she doesn’t need to move out, and there’s relief and happiness in her words and the way she holds herself again. Lena thinks what she has done is such a small thing to pay just to see Kara light up like this once more.

“So you’re not kicked out, Krypto is no longer a fugitive, and we don’t have to pack things up,” Lena grins. “Want something delivered for dinner?”

Kara laughs, unrestrained and so happy and there is the rush again, in her chest, the sort of freedom and lightness she still can’t quite put a name on, but it’s ignored as Kara pulls her into another hug.

“Only if you’re fine with me breaking out the beer,” she laughs again as she steps back and heads to the fridge. “Because god that was the most stressful day of my life. This coming from someone who covered the Congress protests.” Kara sighs heavily, looks at Lena with an almost knowing smile. When she speaks, her voice is softer. “God. I’m so relieved, you don’t even know. Thank you.”

“Why are you thanking me?” Lena asks, quirking up an eyebrow. She can’t possibly know, can she? She’s just thanking Lena because she’s a lucky charm. Right, she’ll take that. She follows Kara and chuckles at the bottle of beer she opens. “Didn’t peg you as the beer drinker. That’s a lot of beers in your fridge,” she points out.

Kara shrugs, tilts back the beer with several gulps. Lena watches the way her throat bob and flushes when she realizes she is staring. “Oh no,” Kara laughs with a wave of her hand as she puts her beer bottle down. Lena looks impressed that it’s already half-empty. Kara just looks bashful. “My sister and her girlfriend like to hang out here a lot, and I host game nights too. They like this beer. I’m more of the, uh, fruity cocktail person.” She grins and scrunches her nose.

Lena blinks at that. She has questions, several actually, about this tidbit of information she files away with gratitude. During the span of their friendship, she has mostly talked about herself and Kara. They have talked about family, too, but not friends as much—mostly because Lena doesn’t have many to talk about, anyway, and now that Kara has mentioned, she is curious. Her sister has a girlfriend? Is she an FBI agent, too? Game nights? Is that how friends hang out? Is beer what you need to serve when friends are over? She has offered various wines and many different bottles of scotch to her visitors, but those are in her office and could hardly count as friends. She never really had anything in her apartment, too, and her stock of food in the refrigerator and the pantry are so they could last for a month, not so she is able to feed people when they come over.

Come to think of it, only Jack had been in her apartment to spend time with Lena just because. Veronica had, for a late night business consultation, but that’s it.

“The boys?” She asks instead, because she doesn’t really want to delve into the sadness of her life when Kara just bounced back.

“Yeah, James and Winn,” Kara explains. Lena nods. She remembers them from the Biomax launch. Winn was the one who recommended the Arrival movie, too. “We have game nights here, my sister Alex, Maggie her girlfriend, and Winn, and James and Lucy, his girlfriend,” Kara counts off with her fingers. She breaks off into a huge grin. “Hey! You should come next time to game night.”

Lena is caught off-guard at that but she shakes her head. “You seemed to all have paired up, I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“You wouldn’t!” Kara promises, waving her hand. “My sister still wants to meet you. Just maybe ignore Winn when you come over because he’ll probably fanboy over you again.” Kara scrunches her nose.

Lena tries not to feel nervous at that, but the anxiety of meeting new people, and essentially just people in Kara’s life—people who might not see her the same way Kara does—makes itself known. “Maybe,” she says with a small smile. “So, should we get pizza?”

If Kara notices her trying to ignore the topic, she doesn’t say anything. Instead, she nods and excitedly and grabs her phone. “Yes please,” she laughs, already dialing the number it seems. After asking Lena what she wants, to which Lena says anything, Kara hums, still on the phone, and asks if she wants to stay and watch a movie.

Lena can’t really say no to that, not when it’s a chance to stay for a little more while. She doesn’t have to impose herself. “No Disney,” she says anyway.

Kara pouts, rattles off her address on the phone, before replying. “Tangled is a nice, feel-good movie though.”

Lena wonders if Krypto learned how to do his puppy dog eyes from her. “Fine,” she relents with a huff.

//

During dinner, the Kara that Lena had come to know is back, all bright blue eyes and contagious laughter as they sat on the floor with Krypto dozing by the blonde’s side. Lena had to admit that the movie was good, even teared up a bit at the sky lantern’s scene (“that’s so romantic but also so bad for the environment,” Kara had mumbled, but carried on mouthing the lyrics). She dismissed the thought of Kara wanting Lena to watch this movie for the reminder of her mother again—it is a feel-good movie, after all, when you get over the whole betrayal part—but it does make Lena think of Lillian.

Lena helps Kara clean up their plates, after which, she tells her she had to leave because she had a conference call early in the morning. Kara nods and offers to walk her down when Frank arrives, and she does so with Krypto in two—he sniffs everything this time on the way down, and tries to bolt out of the elevator as soon as the doors open except Kara is ready.

Opening the door, Lena bids Kara good night, but Kara is pulling her into yet another tight hug that takes her breath yet again.

 “Thank you,” Kara murmurs, arms warm around her waist, breath even warmer against her neck. Her voice is soft, and there are traces of tears in her words that Lena only holds her back just as tightly if only to make her feel that everything is okay now. “For being here,” Kara continues. “And for last night, and really, just—” She chuckles, then sighs. “For everything. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

They’re such simple words, in reality, but words have power, don’t they? Lena feels her chest flutter with the meaning of those words, the gratitude and trust in them, and Lena confirms that Kara is the first of her kind in her life—the first to wholly trust in her like this, talk of her like this.

The first to appreciate her like this.

“Anytime, Kara,” she whispers back. “Anything.”

Krypto yelps from below them. Lena chuckles and pulls back from the hug just as Kara does, and when they look down, the canine is sitting on his hind legs and looking up at them, his tail wagging excitedly like he wants to be hugged too. Lena sits on her haunches to pet him and he licks her hand.

“Be good, buddy,” she chuckles, then stands to get in the car with a smile and another good night over at Kara. The blonde beams at her.

“Good night, Lee,” she whispers. “Text me when you get home?

Lena nods. It takes her a few moments before finally closing the door and telling Frank they can go. She looks back to where Kara stands, and the blonde is there, watching her car drive away, bright smile never leaving her face and Lena is reminded of the sun and the sea.

//

In the silence of the car ride home, Lena remembers the last time she in the same situation. The catchy mother knows best, listen to your mother song plays in the back of her head. She had thought about calling Lillian many times now, but all she ends up doing is putting her phone down. She stares at the device and sighs. Her phone vibrates in her hand, making her gasp in surprise. A text from Kara. It’s a photo of Krypto running through the hallway.

My child is free!!!, the message reads. Lena smiles, finally acknowledges the rush in her chest. It’s still unlabeled, but for now, she is satisfied to simply correlate it with happiness.

Kara’s words from that night echo in her ear, like they always do every time she tries to call—she’s still your mother—but it’s only now that she lets herself mull them over again. It’s just a call, after all, right? One last chance to perhaps try to reach out. Kara would probably be proud of her for trying.

“Be brave,” she mumbles, and dials Lillian’s number.

Chapter Text

Lillian hasn’t called back. Lena checks her phone again as she enters her apartment and sighs at the lack of notifications. She did expect as much; she did only try to call once, after all. Still, there is disappointment brewing in the back of her throat, like some bitter pill she swallowed now resurfacing.  

It might be normal, she thinks. Despite all her predilection to ignore Lillian’s phone calls and to leave her emails unreplied to, Lena does care about her mother—if only borne out of the gratitude she has for her, even if she had been nothing more than an authoritative figure in her life, even if she is still terrified that Lillian would finally outright tell her that she had been disappointment to the Luthor name. Despite all logic telling her that she had been fine without her, and she would continue to be fine without her, there is a part of her that continues to be stubborn. Maybe it’s the thrill of the chase, of wanting something you can never have, or Lena’s unending need to just finally, finally prove her mother wrong—that she isn’t a disappointment, that she is worthy of the Luthor name she has been given, for all it’s fame and faults. After all, Lillian is Lena’s only remaining family who isn’t either dead or behind bars, and if she were honest, her mother is the one who had forged Lena to be the strong woman that she is now.

Maybe, despite all her boxed up feelings, Lena is just holding on to hope that she doesn’t have to be alone anymore.

It would’ve been easier, if she could just have drowned in her anger and resentment for the woman. Lena had only ever experienced disapproval and rejection from her, after all. But in spite of everything, she has a soft spot for Lillian—and Lena hates herself for the fact. Said soft spot had perhaps grown bigger, after the words that almost sounded proud had been said to her, after the Biomax launch. Lena sighs as she changes into her sleep clothes. Maybe that was a fluke. Maybe this is a sign, her last attempt to reach out to her mother, since clearly, she doesn’t want to be one to Lena. At least she had attempted to adhere to Kara’s request, right? Maybe Kara was just being too hopeful. Her parents must be better ones than Lillian could ever hope to be. Maybe Lena just had to accept that.

Still, the whole thing with her mother bothers her and keeps her awake until past midnight, mind racing with thoughts of what she had done in her life to earn such disapproval from Lillian. Lena liked to think she had been the perfect daughter—she didn’t ask for much and did everything to make her parents proud. She didn’t complain, even when she didn’t have things her way. When Lionel had died, leaving in his wake two children with a mother who only had the heart to care for one,  fourteen-year-old Lena only cried twice, neither of which in Lillian’s presence, and had diligently returned to studying despite the ache in her chest. She went to boarding school when she was told to, finished her course at the top research university in the country at half the time possible with achievements upon achievements under her belt, and one would think that would have been enough. It wasn’t like it was Lena’s choice that Lex personally chose her to lead LuthorCorp’s biotech division when she came back from college, nor was it her decision to hold the fort when everything came tumbling down, when Lillian’s favorite child ended up succumbing into hatred.

All Lena ever wanted was to be a good daughter—or rather, be acknowledged as one.

She returns to the idea she first entertained when she was fourteen: that Lillian’s hatred, dislike, or whatever it is at this point, of her is because Lena is a living proof of Lionel’s unfaithfulness. It was a probable truth. Lena likes to thinks she understands.

She falls asleep to the thought that maybe, she just won’t ever be as good as Lex. Mothers know best, after all.

//

Lena wakes up the next morning to her blaring alarm clock. A screaming headache greets her. Cursing in three different languages, she reaches for her phone to check her day’s schedule, only stopping on her tracks and dropping the device right on her face when she catches sight of the notification at the top.

One (1) Email from Lillian Luthor

“Fuck.” Groaning, Lena sits up, runs her hand through her hair and winces at her throbbing head. It feels like a hangover but worse, considering she didn’t have any alcohol the night before. She stares at the email, then blinks. Her thumb hovers over the notification and it takes her a couple of moments before dismissing it with a sigh, instead goes over her reminders and notifications. She isn’t in the mood to deal with such matters at so early in the morning in her current state. There is a meeting with her PR team and the Luthor Foundation director for the charity ball, a couple of investor briefings. There are also two texts from Kara. She opens the first one, smiles at the photo of a sleeping Krypto curled up against Kara’s legs.

What a baby :) the caption reads, and Lena ignores the expanse of skin in the phone to open the second text, a good morning with eleven various smileys. It’s enough to distract her from her headache, even just for a while, and responds with a good morning baby :) before she goes back to her reminders. She groans and throws her phone on the bed when she recalls the email. Not wanting to deal with it without coffee and such little sleep, Lena shoves her phone under her pillow and rolls off of bed to have a cold shower, just to jolt herself awake. This could, after all, just be a bad dream.

A freezing shower and two cups of coffee later, the email still sits unopened even as Lena walks into her office that morning. She drops to her seat with a heavy sigh, dismissing Jess’s worried look thrown her way with a small smile, and opens up her laptop. Which of course, inevitably, opens up her email as well, and there it is again, the email from her mother, sitting under a proposal from Wayne Biotech and project updates from from Quinn, her PR department head, and Ms. Carter from the Luthor foundation, both about the charity ball in two weeks.

“Jess?” Lena calls out to her secretary before she leaves her office. Lena bites her lip, hovers at the unread email. “Are you close with your mother?” She asks.

Jess straightens up at the sudden question and hugs the folders in her arms. “We are,” she says with a small smile. “Not for a long while, you know, because of some...disagreements, about my career choices.” She chuckles and shrugs. “But she’s forgiven me and I’ve forgiven her and all is well and good now.”

Lena nods thoughtfully at that. “That’s good,” she murmurs. “Thank you.” Jess only tilts her head, like she wants to ask something, but she excuses herself and leaves the room with nothing more but an understanding smile thrown Lena’s way. With another sigh, she finally clicks the email.

It’s nothing long. It’s much like her usual emails from before, about where Lillian is currently—New York City, this time—and what is happening there, except, right at the bottom before her signature, is something certainly new.

I apologize for missing your call last night.

Lena has to blink several times just to make sure it isn’t just a hallucination brought by too much caffeine in such a short span of time. It isn’t. In the email is a line that is so out of character for Lillian Luthor that for a moment, Lena wonders if it’s really her mother who sent it. It’s an apology, something Lillian never extends to just anyone, especially not to Lena, and the raven-haired woman takes several more moments staring and re-reading it to the point that she has it memorized.

Her phone vibrates on the table, making her jolt in surprise. Shaking her head, she checks it to find two messages from Kara. One is from earlier, just puppy emojis, and when Lena reviews what she had said to gain that reply, she flushes. Clearly, she had been more distracted than she had thought. Thankfully, Kara says nothing of her reply. The next message is asks if she is free for brunch. Lena bites her lip. A brunch with Kara seems like something she needs, if only for a bit of clarity—her blonde friend is the one who suggested Lena reach out to her mother, after all, and it’s not like Lena has a lot of choices when it comes to people to consult with. In fact, she thinks Kara is the one person she needs to talk right now. She quickly types up a reply and sends it.

Please. Need to ask you something too.

The reply is quick, as usual. Anything. Are you okay?, it reads, and the concern in it is obvious despite it being just a text and Lena finds herself smiling.

Yes. But I just received an email from my mother and I need some guidance on what to do next.

Lena sends it and sighs, glances back to her laptop. She furrows her eyebrows when her phone rings, but her unease dissolves into a relieved smile when she sees who it is.

“What happened? Did she say something awful? Oh god, I shouldn’t have suggested anything Lena, I’m so—”

“Kara,” Lena interrupts with a small laugh. She leans back against her seat, concerns about her mother forgotten for a moment. “It’s nothing major. At least, not yet.” She chuckles when she hears Kara breathe out a sigh of relief. “I’m just… Not quite sure how to proceed from here.” Glancing back to her laptop, Lena returns to her inbox and marks Lillian’s email as unread. “I’m not really good at this whole...thing, with my mother. Or with any human relationships for that matter.”

“Nonsense, you’re a great friend!” Kara exclaims. There’s an odd feeling that settles on Lena’s chest at that—the validation that how she has been handling their friendship is much welcome, but there’s something that bothers her somehow. She ignores it as Kara continues. “And I’ll do my best to help you with whatever you need help with.”

Lena smiles through the phone. “Thank you.” She checks her schedule quickly. “How about brunch at eleven? There’s a new restaurant near CatCo that I’ve been wanting to try.”

Kara gasps. “Please tell me it’s the new Chinese place?”

Lena laughs and nods before realizing Kara can’t see her. “Yes, that one. I’ll have Jess reserve a table for two?”

Kara groans with gratitude. “You’re my favorite,” the blonde says, and the distance between them couldn’t even help with the rush that Lena feels at those words.

“I better be,” Lena muses, but only laughs and promises to see Kara later.

“Hey,” Kara says before she ends the call. “I’m proud of you for trying to reach out to your mother. I know it must’ve been hard for you.”

Lena sighs through a smile that Kara doesn’t really see. “It’s been a long time coming anyway,” she replies.

“Still,” Kara insists. “It must have taken a lot of courage from your part. It’s not a small feat.”

The CEO chuckles, lets herself accept the compliment if only for the way it warms her chest. “Thank you. If anything, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.”

Kara chuckles. It’s almost a dismissal, save for the way Kara’s voice softens. “What are friends for?”

//

For once, Lena is grateful for a busy morning. Quinn and Peggy bring her up to speed with the preparations for the charity ball, and Lena personally secures the attendance of everyone who would be attending the morning session with the children. It’s one of the days Lena is looking forward to every year, if only for the fact that it’s the one day all the Foundation scholars, beneficiaries, and volunteers could come together and meet. After the meeting, Lena tells Jess to take all her calls as she is going to go out for brunch. A quick text to Kara and a fifteen minute-ride later, Lena arrives at the Chinese restaurant. She tells Frank that she’ll text him, but just as she reaches for the door, it opens to reveal Kara grinning on the other side.

“How’s my lucky charm?” Kara laughs as a form of greeting. Lena rolls her eyes playfully as she gets out of the car. Kara, as always, is a breath of fresh air—a day at the beach, what with her ever sunny personality, her honey hair and her ocean eyes.

“Famished,” Lena teases, chuckles at the way Kara bounces and leads the way to the restaurant.

“Good, because I’ve heard great things about this place.” Kara breathes out a hi at the woman who welcomes them by the door. Lena tells her of their reservation and they are guided to the table near the corner of the restaurant, much like her seat at Bella Italia. Kara quirks up an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything, just accepts the menu with a murmur of thanks. “Okay,” Kara starts, quickly scanning through the menu. Lena looks on, amused. “Two orders of potstickers please, and an order of sweet and sour pork and spring rolls.”

The waitress turns to Lena. “I’ll have the roasted duck please,” she says simply, and after repeating their orders, the woman leaves.

“You haven’t answered my question,” Kara says, leaning forward on the table with concern taking over her features. Before she could full on panic again, Lena just smiles at her and shrugs.

“For starters, I’ve had three people asking when I’m bringing Krypto again,” she laughs. Kara grins and pushes up her glasses.

“He misses you, for sure,” the blonde replies quickly. “You should come drop by again soon.”

The invitation is so casual, like they have done this a million times, that Lena blanks out for a moment. Kara seems to notice, because she blinks owlishly and seems to backtrack her words. “I mean, uh, when you’re free? I get that you have just been at my place last night…” She trails off with a shrug and looks down. For her part, Lena is mostly just grateful.

“Thank you,” the raven-haired woman says.

Kara ducks her head and smiles. “You’re great company,” she admits, so softly that Lena almost misses it. “So, uh, you said your mother emailed?”

Right, the reason for their brunch. At the reminder, Lena sighs.

“Wow,” Kara chuckles. “Are you sure it isn’t a big problem? Because that is such a monumental sigh.”

Lena leans back in her seat and shrugs, reaches out for the napkin on the table to fiddle with it. “It isn’t a big problem,” she explains, and proceeds to explain her situation. She only pauses when the food arrives. Kara looks so intent in listening to her that she surprisingly ignores the potstickers served in front of her. “Are you not going to eat yet?” Lena asks, taking her chopsticks. Kara only hums and gets hers too.

“I was waiting for you to finish your story,” Kara says. Lena smiles in appreciation at the thought.

“Well. That’s all of it, I guess.” The CEO shrugs and picks up a slice of her duck. “It’s just really odd that she says something like that, out of the blue. Really thrown me off.”

Kara hums and shoves a potsticker into her mouth. Lena laughs. There’s the Kara she knows. “Your phone call is out of the blue too,” Kara points out after swallowing her bite. Lena sighs.

“I suppose,” she admits. She stares at her plate. “Did you know that the last time I had been the first to call her was when several years ago, when I got back from boarding school to an empty house?” She laughs wistfully. Kara just frowns. “It’s nothing; I’ve moved on from it. I think, anyway. Just…” Lena sighs. “I slept late last night, because I kept thinking how similar that felt, from several years ago.”

Kara bites her lip. Lena knows what she’s thinking; the raven-haired woman had said good night a few hours before midnight, after all. Still, she’s grateful Kara doesn’t bring it up. “Sorry about that,” Kara murmurs. “But you said she apologized?”

Lena laughs sharply at the reminder. “Yes. Which makes me wonder if it really is her, you know? My mother wouldn’t…”

Kara hums as Lena trails off. “The mother you know wouldn’t have apologized,” she supplies. Lena nods thoughtfully. They sit in silence for a moment. The CEO takes the time to take a bite of her food as Kara seems to gather her thoughts and when she speaks, it's like she is walking on eggshells. “Do you think…” The crinkle between Kara’s eyebrows manifests itself. There’s an urge to reach out, but Lena just waits patiently for her to continue. “That, you know. Maybe she’s changed?”

“My mother?” Lena asks, almost incredulously. Kara nods.

“It’s been some time,” the blonde shrugs. “And you mentioned it’s just the two of you now.” Lena hums and meets Kara’s gaze. There’s something in her eyes, like worry and sadness, but the hint of a smile on her lips is comforting, at the very least. “Isolation softens even the toughest of people, you know.”

Lena chuckles. “You don’t know my mother like I do,” she says, almost defensively. An apology is on her tongue, because Kara certainly didn't deserve to get her head bitten off when she is offering ears for Lena, but the blonde just shrugs.

“I know,” she sighs. “And I don’t want to tell you what to do again because I feel like I'm already pressuring you too much, but…” She bites her lip, as if carefully weighing her next words, and for it Lena is grateful. “But it’s just an email, Lena.” She pushes her glasses, looks down at her plate like she’s remembering, and Lena recalls her story, about her own parents.

Maybe this is Kara, trying to help Lena avoid possible regrets about her own mother. Her heart aches at the thought. Lena still has qualms over the whole thing—but Kara is right. It’s just an email. She has ignored the phone calls because she might break on the spot at Lillian’s voice, but she has more control over an email. She’d have time to dissect Lillian’s words and have time, too, to think over her own replies.

And should it turn out that it wasn’t Lillian she was talking to—it really is plausible, or if it turns out to be a mistake to open up to her mother after so long, well. She could just easily hack into the server and get rid of her stupidity, perhaps, and go back to ignoring her. It should be easier this time around.

“You’re right,” Lena relents with a sigh. At it, the blonde looks up at her.

“Sorry,” Kara quickly mumbles and stabs at her pork. “Did I ruin brunch for you?” The remorse on her features is so obvious that Lena can’t help but reach out her hand to take Kara’s in hers over the table.

“Hey,” Lena assures with a soft smile. “You didn’t. I’m actually glad we had brunch,” she says, squeezing Kara’s hand in hers. It’s warm, and Lena remembers how warm it is, too, to be in Kara’s arms. The memory makes her falter for a moment, and before she could drown in said memory, she pulls back her hand. She misses the way Kara’s lips twitch in disappointment. “God knows I’d have obsessed with that one line and ended up never replying if I hadn’t asked for your opinion, so thank you.” She tilts her head, lets her voice catch a playful lilt. “Light of my life,” she says with a laugh.

Kara scrunches her nose and fiddles with her glasses at that. There’s a glint in her eyes that makes Lena remember how the sunlight feels on the ocean. “I mean,” Kara smiles, “anything for my lucky charm.”

“You need to stop it with that,” Lena muses, instead takes a slice of her roasted duck between her chopsticks. “Want to try this one? It’s good.”

“It’s a fair acknowledgement,” Kara shoots back. “And you know I never say no to food.” She beams, and just as Lena expects the blonde to take it to her plate, she leans forward and takes the bite from Lena's chopsticks, then licks the sauce off her bottom lip. The raven-haired woman blinks as Kara sits back and hums. “S’good,” she says while chewing, then lifts her chopsticks too, to offer a piece of her pork to Lena. “This, even better.” She grins and waits, ever so patiently until Lena opens her mouth, and the burst of flavor on her tongue is nothing compared to the rush on her chest again when Kara beams at her.

Happiness, was it?

//

Lena promises Kara that she would let her know as soon as there are any updates to the whole Lillian situation, not that Lena expected anything to come up from it so soon. They had parted ways with Kara reiterating I’m proud of you and a tight hug the blonde initiated—strong arms that embraced Lena with such warmth that all she could think about were those nights she could count on her hands when Kara had held her. She tries not to think too much of it, especially when she realizes Kara let Lena's hug back linger two seconds longer, but the crook of her arms and the curve of her neck still hold the warmth of the sun that is Kara Danvers even as she returned to her office to deal with her mother's email, and she is thrown back to her predicament just a day or two ago about Kara.

She groans as she collapses on her seat. Is this what her days are made of now—be distracted by one emotional rollercoaster from another?

A text from Kara telling her to be brave breaks her reverie, and she spends the next half an hour coming up with the perfect reply to her mother:

It’s not a problem. I know you’re busy. I hope you’re doing well.

There. An acceptance of the apology, an understanding of Lillian’s situation, and her best regards. She sends it before she could overthink, tells Kara that she has sent it, and when the blonde replies with I’m so proud of you with emojis that Lena doesn’t even recognize, Lena throws herself to work just to distract herself from both of them. It’s successful for the most part; leaving her phone at her desk and using her notebook to take notes during meetings had helped, and meeting with various suppliers and organizations for the charity ball meant setting up her schedules for the next two weeks, which would mean taking her mind off Lillian for some time.

Except another email from Lillian awaits her at the end of the day. Lena vaguely wonders if it’s one of the sign of the end of times.

I’m well. New York is chilly at this time of year.

She tells Kara of it, too, and the blonde only says that they at least have a conversation going now. Her optimism is much to envy, though Lena knows it came with a cost.

And as much as Lena agonizes at the surrealness of it, she goes with the flow—keeps in mind that it’s just an email, but also tries to keep away the hope that builds inside her that her mother has changed, that she might be ready to be the mother she wasn’t able to be in the past.

The possibility of Lillian manipulating her is enough to crush any hope that finds its way in her heart, anyway.

//

It’s odd, having an almost regular conversation with her mother. Granted, it should be normal, and if anything it should be strange that they are talking about stock market prices and current innovations in the field, but it’s as close to normalcy as Lillian and Lena could get. She is eternally grateful she could tell Kara of their conversations, otherwise she thinks she would have been driven mad and god knows the Luthors already have a representative on that matter.

She’s glad, too, that she has the charity ball to distract her with—and to talk to her mother about, too, because there could only be so much about L-Corp that she could talk about in the span of a week without going into the specifics of each project. It’s not like she could say something personal, after all, since she has nothing in that regard except, well, Kara. Not that Lena wants to tell Lillian about the reporter. She would probably have her investigated, or something to that effect, and she didn’t want such bother on her friend.

Come the next week, Lena almost feels like she’s living in an alternate universe of some sort. There is an email in her inbox from Lillian, asking who this year’s guests are for the charity ball, and Lena wonders if her mother wants to be invited.  Lena hasn’t asked directly. She wonders if Lillian would ask first.

Her phone vibrates as soon as she sits on her desk that morning—thankfully it isn’t from Lillian again, instead from Kara. She is the much needed peace in Lena’s deranged days lately, and when she reads that it’s an offer for brunch, Lena easily agrees.

Where are we off to this week? She asks.

There’s a Greek place halfway that I think you might like, Kara replies with her endless stream of emojis that Lena haven’t really gotten around to understanding. It doesn’t really take much to persuade Lena, not when it means meeting Kara, so she agrees. They settle at eleven and Lena asks Jess to reserve two seats for them. Before the CEO dives into her morning’s work, she replies to Lillian first, a simple the usual guests, of course, and adds in along with the newly-acquired investors, all of which I’m sure you’ve read about. It’s not a secret that Lillian keeps tabs on L-Corp anyway—it’s her favorite child’s supposed legacy, after all—but Lena is curious how much she knows.

She also vaguely wonders when this whole charade would stop.

By eleven, Frank drops her off to the restaurant; like the week prior, Kara opens the door for her, and there she is again, a warm sunny day that Lena is finds herself longing for more often.

“Their lamb is amazing, I’ve heard,” Kara sets off as a greeting this time, and Lena is thankful once more for the company she offers.

“Should I venture a guess and ask if you’re running a food blog on the side?” Lena teases as they are ushered inside. Kara grins goofily.

“Yup,” she says, popping the last letter. “I’m actually just using you to try out more food.”

Lena gasps in mock shock and places her hand on her chest. She laughs, misses the way Kara blushes as she looks away. “You wound me,” Lena says dramatically. “Here I was thinking we’re friends.”

The cheer after-laughter in Kara’s eyes is still there, even as her smile softens. “You’re my best friend, you dork.”

The words fall so casually, so easily from Kara’s lips, like she has said them a million times before, and Lena’s jaw falls open as she stares at Kara. The blonde doesn’t seem to think much of it as she backtracks again, and when she finally catches up, she squirms and flushes. “I mean. You are my best friend,” she mumbles, sighs out a breath of relief when a server approaches them with menus. Kara takes her time perusing it, ignoring the way Lena stares. The raven-haired woman just lets out a small laugh, laced with much amusement and almost disbelief. She is sure now that she has woken up in some parallel universe where her mother has shown an inkling to care and she has such a wonderful person as a best friend.

When the server leaves after Kara finally blurts out her order and Lena slips in hers, the raven-haired woman ducks her head to meet Kara’s gaze. “For the record,” Lena smiles, waits until Kara meets her eyes. “You’re my best friend, too.”

Kara just laughs awkwardly and fidgets with her glasses. “You don’t have to say that to make me feel better, you know,” she says with a scrunch of her nose.

Lena tilts her head and bites back a smile. “Ouch, rejection,” she drawls, and when Kara rolls her eyes, the smile she tries to hold back takes over her lips. “I mean it though,” she murmurs. “I’ve never had a friend like you before. I’m glad I’ve met you.”

Ocean eyes capture her. There’s the rush in Lena’s chest again as Kara smiles back—a rush that that has grown from something she started feeling at the things Kara had said, and now begins to manifest itself at the littlest things her blonde friend does. “Me too,” Kara agrees. “I’d imagine my life would be so different, if I hadn’t.”

Lena couldn’t agree more. Had she not met Kara, she would probably still spend late nights at her office, considered some of the friendships in her life as mere shallow relationships, would still have a great rift between her and her mother. She would have been a far lonelier person. It’s a reminder of how tremendous a change Kara has brought in her life.

“Honestly,” Lena chuckles as their orders are brought in. “I don’t want to imagine a life without you at this point.”

She misses the way Kara whispers me too, as the server lays down the plate of souvlaki and the bowl of salad, but she does catch sight of the way Kara smiles, reminding Lena of the peace of the sea and the bright sun her pale skin craved.

“Anyway,” Lena smiles as they begin eating. “How’s Krypto?”

Kara grins. “Krypto’s growing so fast. He probably has reached his full growth potential at this point,” she laughs. “And he’s learned to jump up and down the bed now.”

“Because you keep encouraging him,” Lena points out.

The blonde huffs and bites a piece of her lamb. “If you’re thrown puppy dog eyes all the time you can’t possibly say no.” Lena chuckles but she thinks Kara’s right—she, too, is helpless to puppy dog eyes. “Anyway,” Kara continues. “How have you been? Busy, it seems.”

Lena smiles apologetically. There isn’t an accusation in Kara’s words, just curiosity, but Lena does feel a little guilty. She isn’t certainly keeping herself away from her phone so she doesn’t have to deal with Lillian’s emails and so she isn’t tempted to reply to Kara every minute—so she isn’t brought back to her thoughts the week prior about her blonde friend. She has a company to run, after all, and an event to see through in a week. “Oh, just getting things ready for the our charity ball this weekend,” Lena explains. She pauses at the bite of her salad and purses her lips in thought, and before she could hesitate, she is asking. “Would you- If you’re free, would you like to come?” Kara looks up curiously. “Reporters are allowed, clearly, and I’m sure CatCo would be sending their representatives, but I would love for you to be there as- as you know,” Lena waves her free hand. She hasn’t really thought this through—she’s had better ideas in the past, and the idea had been so enticing when she thought of it just a few seconds ago. “A friend.”

Kara doesn’t even blink. “Of course!” She beams, like it’s the easiest decision in the world. Lena realizes it might not be much of a big deal, and that she is just overthinking. Must be the whole situation with Lillian rubbing off on everything else, or the memory of warmth from Kara’s touch. “That’s- You spend the day there, right?” Kara asks. “At the Luthor Foundation, before the ball?”

“How did you—” Lena smiles fondly, remembering the article. “Right. Stalker,” she teases. “But yes. It’s the one day our volunteers and scholars visit and hang out with the beneficiaries, have fun and catch up. L-Corp employees come too, but it’s mostly the Foundation handling it.”

Kara nods and hums, as if taking in the information. “Why does no one know about this?”

Lena chuckles and  shrugs. “We’re doing it for our beneficiaries, Kara, not to gain the public’s approval.” She scrunches her nose. “And I can’t allow the children to be exploited that way.”

The blonde’s lips quirk up into a proud smile that makes the rush in Lena’s chest make itself known again. “Can I come?” Kara asks.

Lena blinks. “To- to that?”

Kara nods easily, casually even, as she takes a bite of her food.

“Oh,” Lena blinks, not really expecting it. “Of course,” she agrees anyway, because what’s another pair of helping hands to welcome the kids?

And what’s a few more hours with Kara?

//

They part after brunch with another hug that once again lingers too long. Not that Lena is complaining. There is sunshine overflowing in her pockets, remnants from Kara that almost feels familiar at this point. As soon as Lena arrives back at her office, she receives a text from Kara asking what the attire is for the charity ball. Lena chuckles and tells her it’s a formal event, reminds her to not overthink about it because it’s mostly just a mixer. An email from Lillian arrives, too. Lena hesitates in opening it, instead chooses to tap open Kara’s reply when it comes.

Telling me to not overthink WILL make me overthink!!

Lena laughs, a sort of freedom and lightness bubbling in her chest—happiness, was it?—and she thinks again to how she can’t fathom her life without Kara in it.

You can wear pajamas, I won’t stop you. :)

She sends it with a small smile. She opens her email again and sees Lillian’s name. Without Kara to tell her to be brave, to practically hold her hand through the whole thing, Lena wouldn’t have never dared to reach out to Lillian again. She sighs and opens up the email. Lena is still suspended in disbelief; a part of her still thinks she is living in some alternate universe, more so now as she reads through the short reply she received.

I have read about them, yes. A number of accomplishments for a year, you must be proud.

And there’s a hint of pride in those words again, in between the lines. Lena stares at her phone and wonders, yet again, if this really is her mother. She thinks back to what Kara said, too—that Lillian might have changed, in the time they have had apart, and despite all rational thought trying to dampen down the hope she feels, it builds, wraps around her like a warm blanket.

Whether it suffocates her later on is for her to find out.

She settles into the feeling and sighs, considers replying the next day instead. When her phone vibrates with another text message from her best friend that reads DON’T ENCOURAGE ME, LUTHOR with several angry emojis, followed by another that is just crying faces, and another that reads honestly, help me please with all the variations of the hearts, then another that is a photo of Krypto captioned can I bring him? I'll get him a bow tie, Lena thinks what a terrible life it must be, without Kara Danvers. And maybe, should everything go down south with Lillian, it would be fine, if Kara is around. She sighs. 

“Be brave,” Lena mumbles, and before she could stop herself, she’s sending a reply to Lillian.

I am. Are you? 

Chapter Text

Lillian hasn’t replied yet, by the end of the day. Lena has figured that her last email had pissed her off; maybe she was hoping for it, too, if only to reset her life to the one she had before this weird week where she had been regularly talking to her mother.

All weirdness aside, and in the silence of her office as she got ready to go home for the day, Lena tries to steer herself away from another deepening pit of disappointment. She had, throughout the day, returned to the thought Kara had first mentioned during their brunch—that Lillian has changed—and despite Lena trying otherwise, hope builds.

Sighing, she makes her way home. Without work to distract her, she ends up checking her phone to see if her mother had replied. She debates sending a follow-up email, but her pride wins out. What she had said in the first one has been a question she has thought of through the years. It isn’t so bad to ask for validation, isn’t it? Especially when she has been so close to one.  

Maybe she should just stop trying.  Maybe, this lack of reply is a good reason to. It was a simple yes or no question, after all. It isn’t like she expects Lillian to say yes—regardless of the hint of pride in her words after the Biomax launch, Lena is still inclined to think that whatever had happened, Lex is still her favorite child. Lena can never hold a candle to him and all he has done, his acts of hatred aside.

A text from Kara as Lena arrives at her apartment breaks the woman’s self-imposed wallowing. Ever thankful for the distraction, she puts her things down then breaks out the wine to pour herself half a glass as she opens the message.  It's a photo of a pastel blue sleeveless dress that lays on a bed, Lena thinks. Upon close inspection looks very much like a lace pattern. She hums in thought as she takes a sip of her wine. Another message from Kara comes through.

Found this in my closet! Formal enough?

Lena raises an eyebrow at that. She scrolls back up to look at the photo of the dress. She imagines Kara wearing it, flushes when she realizes that she is thinking of how good the blonde’s arms would look in that dress. Biting her lip, she puts down her glass of wine to type up a reply, except she can’t come up with any.  She takes a look at the dress again.

Looks cute, she replies, because it is. She puts her phone down and takes another sip of her wine. The thought that she hasn’t really seen Kara in a dress before—only ever in dress shirts and pants—makes Lena pause and wonder how this pastel blue dress would look on her friend. Still lovely, she thinks, and the blue of it would make her eyes pop.

Kara replies quickly, like always. Mkay. Not feeling it though, for some reason…. :/ Anyway, are you home?

Lena smiles to herself at that. I’m sure you’ll come up with something. And yes.

Her phone vibrates with another reply. Lena finishes her glass of wine and leaves it in the dishwasher before taking her phone to pad her way to her bedroom. Kara’s reply is a blurred photo of Krypto—Lena thinks it’s all Kara could get out of the excitable puppy, and she understands, considering he could get really hyped up with a single word. He misses you, the caption reads. It makes Lena smile. Before she could reply, another message from Kara comes in again.

Don’t stay up too late, okay? Tea or milk might help. :)

Lena’s smile turns fond and she sighs. She hadn’t meant to make her best friend worry about her the night before, but Kara’s concern brings a warm feeling in her chest. Probably because she hasn’t really had many people being concerned about her.

I’m used to staying up late, Kara, she replies before getting ready for bed. After going through her routine and changing into her sleep clothes, she returns to her bed and finds her phone to four messages from Kara.

But still!!!!

Sleep is important. Sleep is good. I love sleep

Are you asleep???

Okay you might be asleep. Good night!

Lena chuckles and slips under the sheets. With a sigh, she checks her notifications. Nothing from Lillian yet again. She returns to Kara’s inbox to reply.

Not yet asleep, but perhaps soon. Good night. :)

A reply comes in soon enough.

If you need anyone to talk to, you know you can call me.

Lena sighs and smiles at her phone, where a tiny icon of Kara’s playful glare is beside her name. She never really had a best friend; the closest she had was Lex. The company that Kara offers is like his, except far more comforting, in a way, and she remembers how, from the first time she had met Kara, she felt like she could trust her with everything and feel nothing but warmth. She is thankful that she has been right about that first impression.

Still, she doesn’t want to bother Kara about her issues with her mom again, not when she has already talked about her during brunch earlier that day. Lena is probably just overthinking again. She decides to just tell Kara about her mother if the blonde asks; not that she had anything to say this soon, anyway, not with her inbox empty save for the emails she is getting from international investors.

I know, thank you. Shouldn’t you be going to bed soon, too?

Kara’s reply is a photo of her and Krypto sharing a pillow.

Yes boss. Good night :)

Lena sighs with gratitude. She still hasn’t figured out what she has done to deserve someone like Kara Danvers to be her best friend, but she is glad she has her. God knows there would be a second mad Luthor if she doesn’t.

//

Lena’s last meeting the next day is with a man who had his head stuck so far up in his ass that he wouldn’t listen to Lena’s comments about his proposal, insisting on his side even if the panel agreed on the CEO’s comments. When he was gone, Lena’s head of software engineering, Victor,  grumbles on his way out with the rest of the before turning back to the raven-haired woman with a sheepish grin.

“Ms. Luthor,” he begins. “When are you bringing Krypto again?”

Lena pauses from collecting her laptop and chuckles. “I’ll check with the owner, Vic.”

“You mean he’s not yours?” Victor asks as Lena walks out the room with him.

“He’s a friend’s,” Lena clarifies, then laughs. “Fortunately. I wouldn’t know how to take care of a dog.”

“That’s very nice of you,” Victor says. Lena smiles proudly at that, tells him to email his review of the proposal, before he heads to the direction of his department. Lena shakes her head in amusement and texts Kara that she might have to borrow Krypto for a day again, if only to keep her employees happy, and Kara replies with you’re just making up excuses to dognap him!

Lena laughs down at her phone as she pushes her office door open. She hears Jess call out to her but before she could turn, she notices someone inside her office standing from the couch, and when she realizes who it is, Lena almost drops her laptop and her phone. The traces of laughter on her lips disappear.

“Mother,” Lena says flatly as her grip around the laptop in her arm and the phone in her hand tighten. Lena swallows thickly and hopes her stance looks more unwavering than she feels as she takes in the sight of the woman.

Lillian still looks as regal as ever, as graceful as Lena remembers. Despite her proud height, however, Lena notices how she looks exhausted. She looks much older now. There are lines on the corner of her eyes that weren’t there before; then again, it has been so long since she had seen her mother in the flesh. She has her hands in her coat pockets, but on her ears are diamond earrings Lena recognized as a gift from Lionel.

“What are you doing here?” Lena asks, setting her jaw as she makes her way to her desk. She settles her phone and laptop on it and stands behind the table, debating whether to sit or not. She decides not to, instead stands and crosses her arms as she meets Lillian’s gaze full on. “I didn’t know you were in town.”

Lillian’s lips part as if she sighs before she answers. “I just arrived this morning,” she says. There isn’t a trace of emotion in her voice. Not that Lena expected any, but the fact that her mother is right in front of her, after almost two years—resh from her flight for that matter—is something that bothers Lena.  The younger woman grips her bicep with her hand as she tilts her head.

“Do you have business in the city?” She asks again. She remembers the email she has sent the woman, still unreplied to, and there’s a part of her that thinks this isn’t the reply she expects, but that is under the assumption that Lillian has come to National City to see Lena. She grits her teeth in an attempt to banish the thought, lest her hope build only to crumble into disappointment. For her part, Lillian only sighs, her gaze on Lena softening for the barest of moments before she looks to the corner of Lena’s desk. The raven-haired woman follows her line of sight and swallows at the vase of pink-orange plumerias on the table that she hasn’t noticed.

“I thought your office needed a pop of color,” Lillian notes with a hint of a smile. “I had assumed it was still white and gray. I was right.”

Lena bites on her tongue as she drags her gaze from the flowers to her mother. She remembers the garden at the Luthor mansion, back when she was younger, how Lillian had tended to a rare selection of flowers. She had read all about those flowers in an attempt to get closer to her new mother, to no avail, but she still knows what plumerias mean. Still, she doesn’t say anything about them, instead just shrugs. “The whiteness—”

“Helps you think,” Lillian interrupts as she tries to wave her hands, still buried in her coat pockets. Lena purses her lips and nods. “I’ve read about that CatCo article. That Kara Danvers has a way with words. Like she knows a lot about you.”

Lena clenches her jaw. “She’s a friend.”

“Ah,” Lillian nods. “Is that before or after the interview?”

The raven-haired woman scoffs and shakes her head. “If you’re here to accuse me of—”

“I’m sorry,” Lillian cuts in again. The apology surprises Lena; it’s one thing to read about her mother apologizing, and it’s another to actually hear her say those words. The shock must be evident on her features because Lillian steels her expression but looks down, her shoulders tense. “I didn’t- I wasn’t—” She sighs again, and the way she flounders with words is almost unsettling to Lena, because this woman isn’t the mother she knew. Kara’s words about Lillian having changed in the months Lena hadn’t seen her echoes in the younger woman’s mind again, especially as she watched Lillian grind her jaw as if trying to steel herself.

“I’m not here to upset you,” Lillian finally says. She meets her daughter’s gaze, and Lena isn’t prepared to see even the barest hint of regret in her eyes, but it is there. This isn’t the mother she knew. Lena knows that now. Still, she keeps her walls up—she has crashed and burned before, after all, and she is supposed to be smarter now. Lillian sighs again then continues. “If anything, I’m here to thank you. You’ve taken this company back to where Lionel had started it.” She pauses. Lena keeps quiet as Lillian shrugs, almost in defeat. “I’ve had time to...think over things.  I wanted to tell you, in person, that I am proud of you. Your father would be, too.”

There is the answer to her question the day before, but Lena only stares at her mother. The words haven’t sank in yet. It’s all too surreal—from this sudden visit, to her apologizing, to this admission, and a part of her doesn’t want to believe it. A part of her wonders if Lillian is dying with some terminal illness; the jaded part of her is already thinking of what Lillian could possibly need from her now.

“You came all the way here just to tell me that?” Lena finally asks. Lillian purses her lips.

“I didn’t expect you to listen past that,” the older woman says. Lena opens her mouth to rebuff that but stops because it sounds on point, anyway.  Lillian nods, as if in understanding. “I should get going,” she says, clenches her jaw again. She pulls her hands out from her pockets to turn and take her bag from the couch. Lena sees the wedding ring on her left hand, still there after more than ten years, and before Lillian could leave and Lena could think, she is speaking.

“Do you not hate me anymore?” She asks, voice soft.

Lillian turns to Lena again. “I never hated you, Lena,” she says so softly that the younger woman almost misses it. But she doesn’t, and she feels a painful stab in her chest at those words because  then, why did she have such awful memories of Lillian? “I resented you. You were the living proof of Lionel’s—” She shakes her head and looks down. “Of his affairs. It had been easier for me to pretend you weren’t there.”

Lena laughs sharply. There is bitterness that claws at the back of her throat as she stares at her mother. She had been right, about her theory. She doesn’t know what to make of it. “I was a child.”

Lillian clenches her fists around the strap of her bag. Silence settles around them, and Lena half-expects her to just walk out—wants her to, just to finally cut ties with her, because she doesn’t know if awareness of all this is supposed to make her feel better. “There are many things I have done that I wish I could take back,” Lillian replies. “I’d like to think I’m a different person now. Better.”

Lena swallows thickly. It’s difficult to fathom the idea of her mother changing for the better, but the evidence is there—her mother visiting, apologizing. But it isn’t like she could erase years and years of indifference. The chance to start again is right in her grasp, however; Lillian is reaching out now, to maybe, just maybe, be the mother she wasn’t to Lena before. After all, they only had each other now.  

Her lack of response seem to make Lillian think otherwise, because the older woman smiles—almost sadly, even—and she gestures for the door. “I have business to attend to at Metropolis,” she says easily, the mask of detachment back in her voice. It’s jarring. Lena nods anyway. Lillian makes her way out of her office, but before she could step out, Lena is calling after her.

“Take care of yourself,” she says in an almost whisper, gaze locked with her mother’s, but the woman seems to have heard it as she nods.

“You too,” Lillian replies, before she is out of the room and shutting Lena’s office door closed. When she is gone, Lena collapses to her chair and takes a deep breath, her lungs seemingly void of air. That was the last thing she had expected to happen—both Lillian visiting and whatever they had just talked about. It’s the single most emotionally exhausting thing she has ever done in a while, barring the break-up with Jack and her little breakdown with Kara, and she doesn’t realize she is crying until she feels hot tears down her cheeks. She quickly wipes them away and takes a shuddering breath.

Though she can’t quite discern yet how her perceived hatred and Lillian’s actual resentment of her differs in the grand scheme of things, the knowledge that her treatment of her daughter isn’t Lena’s fault is both freeing and heartbreaking at the same time. Freeing because now, she knows that it was only because she was borne of Lionel’s affair. Heartbreaking, too, because it wasn’t like she could do anything about it. She had never really imagined knowing the truth but here it was—a truth to be taken as is, like the laws of gravity or thermodynamics.  

Still, the mere fact that Lillian had come to her to say words Lena had been aching for for years makes the hope that she has  been trying to allay comes back full force. With another shuddering sigh, Lena gets up and heads to her balcony for a breath of fresh air. The evening breeze is starting to settle in as the sun sets somewhere behind the L-Corp building, bringing to life the lights of the city as night falls. Lena rests her hands on the balcony ledge. With a frustrated groan, she heads back inside her office to grab her things. She is out the door in record time, telling Jess that she can go home, and assures her secretary that she is fine, even if she isn’t. Not really. She just doesn’t quite know what to feel yet, but saying she’s fine is better than worrying Jess. She calls  for Frank only to tell him to go home too, but she does get the car keys from him—telling him that she’s fine as well, though the man’s concern is very much appreciated. Lena is out of L-Corp and driving through the still-bustling streets of National City. She drives aimlessly on auto-pilot almost, as her mind goes back to her earlier conversation with her mother.

It feels odd, how a short conversation with her mother could feel so heavy yet also liberating, and yet there is still an ache inside her that she can’t quite reach.

After all, now that she has the answers to her lifelong questions, what is she to do?

She passes by a familiar street, rolling her eyes at the car that honks at her one too many times, and when her gaze lands on a familiar building, Lena sighs in relief.

Kara.

Without really thinking, she makes her way to the available parking spot. She makes her way distractedly to Kara’s apartment, barely aware of her frazzled state. When she knocks on the door, she realizes that she is neither sure that Kara is home nor did she text her blonde friend that she was coming over. Before she could immediately leave though, there is a bark and the familiar patter of paws on hardwood floors. She lets out another relieved sigh when she hears a curious Krypto? coming from inside the apartment. Lena is greeted by a sight of a curious Kara, whose expression turns cheerful and then concerned when she sees the raven-haired woman.

“Lena!” She greets with a surprise in her voice as she opens the door wider. Lena chuckles at Krypto, who bounces around her feet. “What are you- come in, please,” she invites as she bends over to scoop the excitable Krypto in her arms. Lena smiles and nods as she walks in, and Kara only lets go of Krypto again when the door is closed. The puppy follows Lena, jumping around and barking.

“I missed you too, buddy,” Lena coos as she sits on her haunches to pet Krypto. He licks her hand and she chuckles again. She looks up when she sees Kara standing just beside Krypto, the expression on her friend’s face both curious and worried.

“This is a lovely surprise,” Kara says with a smile. “You want anything? Water? Beer? Wine?”

Lena smiles as she stands. Krypto sits and lolls his tongue up at her. “Didn’t know you stored wine here, too.”

Kara shrugs and grins sheepishly. “It’s a recent addition. I’ve this friend who is into wines and scotch I think.”

The offer for a drink is very enticing to Lena, but the woman just shakes her head. “I’m fine. I just—” She sighs and waves her hands helplessly. “I’m sorry for dropping in unannounced.”

Kara dismisses her with a small laugh. “Please. It’s totally fine. Drop by anytime.” She pauses, a crease forming between her eyebrows. “Is everything alright, though?” When Lena sighs heavily, Kara frowns. “Oh no. It’s the monumental sigh. Whose ass do I have to kick?”

It serves to bring a smile on Lena’s lips—a genuine one, brought about by Kara’s concern, and she gestures for them to sit on the couch. Kara nods, the worry never quite leaving her features, and when Lena tells her Lillian visited her not an hour ago, Kara tenses.

“Is- Did she—”

Lena shakes her head. “She didn’t try anything remotely nefarious,” she says softly. She clasps her hands on her lap and sighs again. “She… She actually came to tell me she’s proud of me.”

Kara’s mouth falls open for a moment before she breathes out an oh. “That’s… That’s good, isn’t it?”

Lena shrugs. “I suppose it is,” she murmurs. “I’m just…” When she trails off and mindlessly starts to twist her hands together, Kara reaches out. Lena stills, gaze falling on the soft hand on hers.

“Surprised?” Kara supplies. “Confused? A little lost on your next steps again?”

The raven-haired woman chuckles hollowly. “You know me so well already,” she says lightly, then drags her gaze up to meet Kara’s eyes again. She trails off into silence, finding words in her hazed mind to pluck them out and say them, because that way she could set parameters on what she is feeling. It’s harder than she would like. Kara is patient though, her hand warm on Lena’s, and it gives the woman something to focus on instead of drowning in her thoughts.

“Why do you feel this way, about the whole thing?” Kara asks.

Lena pauses at it and makes a small sound in her throat. “Because,” she shrugs, and glances down at their hands again. “Have you ever wanted something so much for so long?”

Kara chuckles softly. Lena feels her squeeze her hands. “I think so,” her blonde friend whispers. “Why?”

Lena sighs again. “You know how you could end up dedicating your whole life to get it, and then, when you finally do, there’s just… nothing?” She chews on her lip for a moment. “Like the sense of achievement you were supposed to feel isn’t there. It’s just… Somewhat a lack of purpose.”

The reporter hums. “I don’t think proving yourself to your mother is your purpose, Lena,” she murmurs. “I mean. It might have been, at the beginning, but it stopped being that. Changing the world is more like it.”

Lena looks up at Kara at that. She smiles bashfully and tilts her head. “You know, she said you had a way with words. I’m inclined to think she’s right.”

Kara blushes. “Your mother?”

The raven-haired woman nods. “It’s… I don’t know. I guess her words haven’t really sunk in, you know? And I think the question that remains after all that, is- is, well, what now?”

Silence embraces them for a moment. Lena watches Kara think, thoughts flickering through her features as she chews on her lip. Mindlessly, Lena reaches out to gently rub the pad of her thumb on the furrow of Kara’s eyebrows. The blonde jumps slightly and Lena smiles apologetically.

“Sorry for burdening you with this,” Lena whispers.

Kara just smiles warmly. “It never is. You’re my best friend,” she whispers back and squeezes Lena’s hand. The raven-haired woman returns hers on top of Kara’s. “Do you resent her?” Kara continues softly.

Lena bites her lip at the question. She doesn’t, not really. Despite everything, she always had a concern for her mother. Everything she has ever felt about  the matter were mostly about herself, never her mother. “Honestly? I don’t think I ever did,” Lena whispers. “It was only myself that I ever found flaws in. That she never really cared much about me because I was never good enough.”

Kara hums and squeezes her hand. “And that has changed now?”

Lena nods after some quiet moments. “I didn’t really say anything. Just told her to take care because- because well, I didn’t really know what to say.”

“She probably expected as much,” Kara offers. “Still. You have her email, right?” When Lena nods, Kara smiles. “Well, there you go. I mean, you don’t have to email her soon, or at all, if you want to, but you know. The ball is in your court now.”

Lena knows Kara is right. She thought as much. The chance to start again is right in her grasp, with Lillian is reaching out now to maybe, just maybe, be the mother she wasn’t to Lena before. After all, they only had each other now, and the hope she tries to keep down builds and builds.

“Maybe tomorrow,” Lena relents with another sigh. Kara only nods in understanding, squeezes her hand again. “Thank you, Kara,” Lena whispers, holding on the warmth that remind her of the sun and blue gaze that remind her of the sea. If Lena was being honest, she would never have gotten anywhere without Kara talking her through it. “I’m- I’m glad I came here to talk to you.”

Kara just smiles, ever so warm and comforting. “Of course,” she says. She pulls her hand away from Lena’s, and before the raven-haired woman could frown in disappointment, Kara is wrapping her arms around her and pulling her into a hug that feels so much like home—or at least, the idea Lena has of it. It lingers, yet again, though Lena isn’t complaining, and when Kara finally pulls away, she does so with an offer to stay for dinner. Lena readily agrees, if only for her need for company—a new-found one of sorts, ever since Kara—and they order pizza and postickers even if Lena would never order such on a normal day. Kara offers a movie, too, and they watch 500 Days of Summer on the living room floor with Krypto dozing off beside Lena’s legs like the puppy knows she was in distress just a while ago. When their food is gone courtesy of Kara and the movie is done, they delve into a discussion of Tom and his toxicity.

“He’s just… You know,” Kara chuckles. “An entitled dude with a nice guy complex.”

“Yet you’d be surprised how many women are out there looking for a Tom of their own,” Lena says as she leans back against the couch. The movie is a nice distraction from her worries about her mother.

Kara hums thoughtfully. “That’s not… Like, your type, is it?”

Lena chuckles and looks at Kara at that. “Thankfully, no. I’m not sure I have a type, actually. Do you?”

Kara shrugs and looks back at the TV where some other movie starts to play. “Winn said it’ll just be like, ‘wapow!’ when you meet someone, you know?” She says, lightly punching the air.

Lena tilts her head. “Is it?” She muses. “Not always. I think anyway. Jack and I were friends before we got together. It wasn’t a ‘wapow’ kind of thing,” she chuckles.

“Jack, huh?” Kara echoes with a small smile. It drops after a moment. “Wait. Like- Like Jack Spheer? That guy I totally interrupted?”

The raven-haired woman laughs softly. “That would be him, yes.”

“Oh.” Kara lets out a sigh that seems too heavy, and Lena playfully bumps their shoulders.

“He’s not one to hold grudges, Kar,” Lena teases. Kara chuckles softly but she doesn’t seem to mean it. Instead, she gets up and cleans up their plates. Lena helps her wordlessly, and when they are done the raven-haired woman lingers in the kitchen for a moment before walking up to Kara.

“Would you- if you—” Lena swallows thickly. Company would really be great for the night, if only so she doesn’t end up overthinking about her mother again, but she didn’t want to impose. Kara just looks at her with a small smile. “I should probably go,” Lena says instead. Kara’s smile falters but she nods anyway.

“I’ll walk you down,” she offers. She takes Krypto with her, and when they reach the car, Lena pets his head before saying her goodbye to Kara.

“You can totally bring him this Saturday,” Lena offers. “Not for the ball, but at the day with the kids. I think they’ll love him.”

Kara beams. She pulls Lena into a hug that’s comforting, tells her that she is just one call away, and when Lena gets home the warmth of Kara’s arms still lingers on to the roughest of her edges. Kara texts her good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, littered with various emojis, and Lena tells her thank you again, good night.

When Kara replies with anytime, anything, it dawns on Lena that she has promised the same words to her best friend, and the thought of said words being echoed to her is enough to bring her dreams of the sun and the comforting sea.

//

Lena wakes up the next morning with a three text messages from Kara. Blinking away sleep from her eyes, she squints at the first one. It’s a photo of a dark blue flowy dress on the bed again. The second message reads Is this ok???, and the third sorry haha good morning!!!

It’s enough to steer Lena’s mind away from thinking of her mother first thing, and a part of her is thankful of Kara’s foresight. With a smile, Lena sends looks lovely, good morning, then rolls off of bed. There is no email from Lillian, though Lena is aware that is mostly her fault. She does her best to stay distracted throughout the day—meetings upon meetings, a visit to the lab that ran longer than she had expected, and a couple of exchanges with Kara about possible outfits for the ball. It’s almost amusing how Kara takes it very seriously, and she is so close to offering the woman to come with her to her tailor just to get something suited for her.

At the end of day, when everything has settled down and Lena had just replied to Kara about her outfit idea of a white shirt, a slim red tie, and dark navy jeans that the CEO had imagined one too many times on the blonde, Lena stares at her open email. Lillian’s email address is on the recipient field but the body is empty. She realizes she had dawdled enough but she is still apprehensive about reaching out. Truth be told, she was just...scared. Scared that now she has all of Lillian’s attention, she couldn’t live up to the shoes she had made for herself.  With a sigh, she types, deletes, then types again, and it’s after almost half an hour that she manages to send a new email to her mother.

Have you settled business at Metropolis?

She closes her laptop immediately then heads home, but it’s not even halfway the ride to her apartment when Lillian replies.

I have. How are preparations for the ball going?

She is fairly surprised at the speed she had responded; then again, Lillian had said she had been trying to be better. Perhaps it was high time for Lena to believe her?

It isn’t until she is in bed and texting Kara good night that she replies to her mother again. She thinks of inviting her but to the ball but decides against it, because she doesn’t think she can handle it this soon. Especially considering the ball is a very public event, and she doesn’t trust herself fully on keeping herself together in the presence of her mother. That, and there would certainly be questions on where the older Luthor had been in the time she had been gone—though that is a question Lena would like to know herself.

Baby steps, she thinks.

//

The rest of the week is of the same—an outfit of the day in question from Kara, work, an email or two exchanged with her mother. By the time Saturday morning rolled in, Lena is pretty sure that Kara would come to the ball in pajamas. She tells the reporter that she and Frank would pick her up on the way to the Luthor Foundation at nine in the morning, sharp. Dressed in a more comfortable outfit of a dress shirt tucked in jeans and espadrille shoes, Lena comes up to Kara’s apartment to fetch the woman. She comes bursting out the door led by Krypto, in his penguin leash and backpack, and Kara laughs as she greets Lena good morning in clothes that the raven-haired woman had familiarized herself with as Kara’s cuddler outfit—a cozy-looking sweater and jeans, plus sneakers. They share a laugh as they let Krypto lead them to the car. Lena  hands Kara some freshly-baked pastries that they had bought on the way, and the way the blonde beams is so much brighter than the early morning.

When the arrive at the Luthor Foundation—a old, grand, neo-classical type building—everyone is already having breakfast. Lena leads Kara, Krypto and Frank to the table by the door. The puppy dashes forward, but thankfully Kara’s hold on his leash is tight, though the kids notice him and squeals of excitement echo through the hall. Lena introduces Kara to every adult in attendance—Frank, of course, Jess, Elektra, Director Peggy Carter, whose hand Kara shakes eagerly. Kara’s smile turns polite when she sees Veronica, and Lena tries to quietly warn her friend to behave as the woman heads to their direction.

“Well, well, Kara Danvers,” the brunette greets with a smirk. “Fancy seeing you here.”

Kara laughs lightly. “You too.”

Lena pulls Kara by the elbow, just to steer her away from Ronnie’s schemes, whatever they may be, so she could introduce her to the group of children-beneficiaries, youth volunteers, and scholars. She squeezes in greetings, head pats, and high fives as she goes around the tables, asking everyone how they are doing, and they all excitedly talk to her—for the first five seconds, at least, until Krypto catches their attention, then they are off to play with the puppy.

“I cannot believe they love him more,” Lena says with a playful scowl. Kara only laughs at her.

“I can not bring him next time,” the blonde offers, and the suggestion of a next time makes Lena’s heart soar with that freedom she labels as happiness.

//

They break into groups, just to have conversation going around. Kara stays by Lena’s side, Krypto with them, and they catch up with the volunteer-scholars from MIT whom Lena had given offers for jobs at L-Corp after graduation. They are talking about their final years when Lena hears her name being called.

“Miss Lena, Miss Lena!” The businesswoman turns to a couple of kids, led by a blonde boy. Lena grins in greeting and pats his head as he runs to her.

“Hey Kyle, how are you?” She greets with a smile. “Where did you get your camera?”

Kyle giggles. “Yeah! Peter lent it to me.” The boy gestures to the side, to a tall, lanky boy with dark hair, one of their volunteers. “I wanna take you’s and Miss Kara’s photo,” he says, bringing up the camera to his eyes. Smiling, Lena glances to her side to see Kara pushing her glasses up.

“Sure, if Miss Kara doesn’t mind,” she says sweetly.

“Of- of course!” The blonde says. She gestures to the group around them. “Come on, join us?” She asks, and the group as well as the nearby children readily flock to them. Lena fakes an oof as a girl with curly hair cements herself to her side and hugs her warmly, and they all share a laugh even as the camera clicks several times. Lena catches sight of Kara smiling at her. The raven-haired woman smiles back, filing the image of Kara flushing a lovely pink away as a memory for rainy days.

//

Later, when all have eaten lunch, the group spends some time reading some of the books that the volunteers have brought. A small group is somewhere playing catch with Krypto, who seems to enjoy his new friends. Lena excuses herself to catch up with Peggy and discuss priorities for the gala that night.

“You know we won’t be here without you, Ms. Luthor, so thank you,” the woman says warmly, but Lena just shakes her head.

“The work we do is a collective effort, Peggy,” she says with a smile. “If anything, I should thank you for staying with us the Luthor Foundation through the years.”

Peggy excuses herself after their conversation—that mostly consisted of them thanking each other, much to Lena’s amusement—to make sure the rest of the staff had eaten their lunch. Raucous laughter takes Lena’s attention from her as she leaves, and the raven-haired woman finds the source in a group of children who are trying to clamber over Kara’s back. Krypto darts around them, barking and wagging his tail wildly, as Kara laughs despite the obvious effort of carrying two young girls on her back.

“She’s something,” Veronica says as she walks up beside Lena.

The CEO spares her friend a glance. “That still, Ronnie?” She chuckles as she crosses her arms. Veronica just shrugs.

“You shouldn’t stare,” the brunette points out. Lena scowls at her.

“I’m not staring,” she defends, then glances back at Kara, now giving a giggling red-haired girl a piggyback ride around the group. A boy is chasing them, saying my turn Miss Kara, my turn!  “The kids love her,” Lena smiles.

Veronica hums. “Not just the kids,” she notes.

Lena laughs lightly. “Yeah. She gave the scholars an inspiring talk about chasing your dreams.” She throws Veronica another glance before returning her full attention to Kara. “Did you know she worked as Cat Grant’s assistant before finally becoming a reporter? She’s amazing.”

“Sure,” Veronica drawls.

//

At four in the afternoon, the group starts packing up to leave. Lena and Kara say goodbye to the kids—the red-haired girl requests another piggyback ride that Kara eagerly gives—and watch them drive away with the blonde promising to come see them when she can. Lena drops Kara back to her apartment.

“Oh, I’ll be coming in with James, by the way,” Kara says as she unlocks her apartment door. Lena ignores the pang of disappointment she feels, just smiles and nods.

“Alright, see you,” she says. “Don’t be late.”

Kara grins. “It’ll take me two minutes to get my pajamas on.”

Lena laughs as she leaves, and the lightness of Kara’s company stays with her as she gets ready for the night. She arrives well before the start of things, wearing a black dress long enough to graze the floor even in her high heels—the long sleeves are made of lace pattern, revealing just enough of her cleavage, and her hair set in loose curls over her shoulder. When she gets out of the car, the slit of the dress exposes her pale left mid-thigh down, but it isn't uncomfortable. Besides, she has been in these events before in much more revealing clothing—strategic moves, if anything—and it’s with confidence that she finds Peggy to wish her luck before the event starts. Lena spends the time she has before things get busy to personally talk to the staff, reminding them of the guests and their certain quirks just to get themselves prepared— Mr. Rickerson is this tall, lanky man with a hint of moustache, comment on it and he’d tip you, and Mr. Wayne doesn’t like wine, try offering scotch instead.

When the guests start arriving, Lena had already eaten a light meal and drank half a glass or so of wine. It isn’t like she needed the liquid courage, but it’s easier to pretend half of her guests are here for actual charity instead of politicking when she is a little on the inebriated side. Not that she would say that out loud.

She walks to Bruce Wayne as soon as he walks in. She greets him personally and thanks him for coming, starts on the usual type of small talk in these circles— how is your latest project? Any news on your latest investment? Anything I can invest on? —and maintains it as she makes her way around, mingling with people. When the program starts, she takes her place near the stage and delivers her usual speech of thanking everyone. She hasn’t quite seen Kara yet, however, but that might be because there are more people in the ballroom now compared to last year.

She is catching up with a pair of Irish engineers when she catches sight of a familiar pair of people. James Olsen.

Kara Danvers.

Lena excuses herself from the engineers she is talking to and makes her way to her blonde friend.

“Wow,” is the first thing Kara says when they meet halfway. The blonde laughs, almost nervously, as she gestures at Lena, pushes her glasses up, and stammers her words. “You look- You look amazing, Lena,” she breathes out.  

Lena blushes at that, glances at her dress, before chuckling at Kara and waving her hand at her outfit. The blonde is wearing a dark navy blue one-shoulder ruffle jumpsuit that has her right shoulder exposed, her hair flowing freely over it. It’s tight around the waist, showing off Kara’s curves, and Lena taking notice of it has pale cheeks warming up further. Kara is wearing heels, too, so despite Lena’s own, the blonde is still an inch or two taller.

“You- you look fantastic as well,” Lena manages to say with a smile. “I thought you’d go with the suit,” she teases.

Kara shrugs, though Lena notes a pink flush on her cheeks under her glasses. “Can’t steal the spotlight from James,” she jokes. Lena barely glances beside the blonde, where James laughs. He is wearing a classic black suit and tie. Lena can safely say that Kara would, definitely, steal the spotlight from him.

“I don’t doubt that,” Lena comments, missing the way Kara ducks and fidgets with her glasses. “No offense, Mr. Olsen,” she chuckles at the man.

“None taken, Ms. Luthor,” James says with a grin. “I must agree with Kara, however. You do look stunning.”

The man’s words don’t have quite the same effect as Kara’s do to Lena, but the CEO thanks him anyway with nothing more than a bashful smile. “Is CatCo fishing for an exclusive?” She teases. Kara looks ready to rebuff that for a moment, but Lena just waves a hand and laughs lightly. “I’m only kidding, Kara. Have you eaten yet?”

Kara’s expression lights up. “Yeah! There are potstickers,” she grins. “Great night, by the way. Congratulations.”

“Thank you. We’ve achieved twice our goals this year, so it is indeed a great night,” Lena smiles. “I hope you’re enjoying yourself?”

Kara nods and looks around. “Y-yeah, of course,” she chuckles, pushes her glasses up again. Lena raises her eyebrow curiously. Kara did mention she isn’t used to such events, but she thinks it’s the first time she has ever seen her usually bubbly friend so jittery, for some reason. “Hey,” Kara blurts out. “I didn’t know there are dances in this type of event.”

Lena looks to the direction Kara is focused on—it’s the space in front of the stage, where a band now currently plays some slow music. Lena chuckles. “It is a ball after all, Kara,” she teases. “Although, it’s more of a way some of these investors think they can sneak a proposal in,” she muses.

“Or a way to get an exclusive quote,” Kara smiles. “May I have this dance?” She says, offering her hand to Lena. The woman glances at her, then her hand, then back.

“I thought you were here as a friend,” Lena points out. The smile on Kara’s face falters, and Lena realizes how her statement must have sounded. “I mean—”

“I am,” Kara says anyway. She pushes her glasses up and quirks her lips, her smile looking more nervous now than anything. Lena tilts her head curiously. “I just- I just said that so you’d dance with me?”

Lena rolls her eyes playfully and takes Kara’s offered hand. “You know you just have to ask me to dance with you,” she says. Kara’s hand is soft and warm in hers. She lets Kara guide her to the dance floor, where a couple of pairs are slowly swaying to the music.

“You might say no,” Kara says with a pout. Lena chuckles and squeezes Kara’s hand—nods politely at the several businessmen the walk pass, too.

“I don’t think I can ever say no to you,” Lena murmurs. Kara ducks her head at the admission, and Lena bites her lip as she replays what she had just said. “I’m almost sure you taught Krypto those puppy dog eyes,” she adds in an attempt to clarify, and hopes her earlier statement isn’t as desperate as it sounded to her ears.

Kara chuckles anyway. “Oh, definitely.”

It’s odd, how easy the motions come to her, but they settle at a comfortable proximity—Kara’s hands are politely on her waist, barely even touching her, and Lena rests her hands on the blonde’s shoulder. They move wordlessly to the slow music; Lena doesn’t know the song but she hears Kara hum to it. She finds herself leaning into Kara, much closer now, in an attempt to listen further. Her temple rests lightly against Kara’s cheek now, and she feels the way the blonde hums to the song. Lena closes her eyes and imagines the warmth of the sun and the peaceful lull of the sea, except she finds that she can’t—not when she all can focus is the warmth of Kara and the comforting calm of her voice.

“You know,” Kara murmurs, breaking their silence and shaking Lena out of her reverie, “seeing you earlier and now is kind of confusing.”

Lena pulls back at that and meets Kara’s gaze. Blue eyes stare intently at her and Lena has to swallow if only to ground herself and keep from drowning in them. “What do you mean?”

Kara smiles and shrugs. “Nothing, I just- now you’re controlled grace and powerful beauty,” she murmurs. Lena hopes she doesn’t flush too much, but her cheeks feel warm, especially with the way Kara is looking at her like—

Well, like she’s trying to look into her soul. Lena bites her lip.

“I mean- I- Not to say that you weren’t grace and beauty earlier,” Kara continues, stammering through her words in an adorable way that has soft laughter spilling from Lena’s lips. “Just- You know. You seem... Freer, earlier, I guess. Does that make sense?” She purses her lips, the crinkle in her eyebrow making itself known, and Lena is reaching up to smooth her thumb over it before she can stop herself.

There is the rush in her chest again, ever present when she is with Kara. She remembers the strange amalgam of emotions—all that confusion and frustration jumbled up with a sort of yearning, and at the same time also comfortable and warm.

It’s the warmth that wins out, now. She catches the way Kara flushes a light pink, how she tenses for the briefest of moments, not having expected the contact. Lena smiles apologetically. “The roles we have to play, Kara,” she murmurs as she returns her hand on the blonde’s shoulder.

The way Kara smiles is soft, not as bright like her usual ones, but more like how the sun feels when it’s rising over the horizon—muted, but warm all the same as it starts a new day. “I’m glad I get to see them both.”

There is that rush again, but with Kara looking at her like that it flutters into the quickening of her heartbeat, and before she could say she should be the one thanking Kara—for being here, for being her friend—a businessman is clearing his throat to Lena’s right and asking if he could ask Miss Luthor for a dance.

Lena forces a smile but agrees, murmuring an apology to Kara. The raven-haired woman isn’t quite sure, but as the man plants his sweaty hands on her waist, Lena catches the grumbled mutterings from Kara’s lips, the way her features darkened as she walks away. Lena follows her with her gaze as she goes to where James is talking to a group of people. Kara turns to glance at her and give her a warm smile, and the image of it stays behind her eyelids even as the man she is now dancing with begins his segue into his business proposal.

//

It takes a while for Lena to get away from the two other men who had asked her to dance, but when she is finally free, it’s Kara she looks for. She manages to squeeze in words of gratitude to investors who have joined them and donated, and it’s a few more minutes before she finds Kara with James over at the cocktail bar.

“Mr. Olsen,” she greets the man. He nods and greets her back with a smile. Lena turns to Kara. “Sorry about that, Kar.”

Kara smiles and dismisses Lena with a wave of her hands. “Oh, no, no, it’s fine! I know it’s a busy night.”

“I hope you both are having a good time, though?” Lena says, noting the glass of martini in front of Kara.

It’s James who nods. “A lot of powerful people out here tonight, Miss Luthor,” he says with a laugh.

“Half of them not as kind as the other, but I suppose we can’t have all,” she jokes. Lena glances at her blonde. “If you need anything, just let me know.”

Kara nods and bites her lip. “We might leave soon, I mean, it’s getting quite late and all,” she mumbles and winces in apology. At it, Lena tries to keep the smile on her face. The disappointment is  a distant pang in her chest.

“Understandable,” she replies. “I have some more investors to meet myself. You two have a good night.”

Kara throws James a glance. He excuses himself, then greets Lena a good evening before shaking her hand and leaving. Kara stays, however, and she bites her lip and fidgets with her glasses as she stands in front of Lena, almost nervously. “I’m sorry for leaving,” she murmurs.

Lena chuckles. “It’s not a problem, Kara. I’m the one who ditched you for those dances, anyway.” She hopes she doesn’t sound as upset as she feels. “I’ll see you soon, though?”

Kara nods, and before Lena could ask for it, she feels arms wrap around her waist and pull her into a hug.

“Text me when everything is done?” Kara whispers in her ear, her breath warm against Lena’s skin.

Lena can barely nod in answer. “Good night, Kara,” she whispers back, and she only realizes the thundering pace of her heart when Kara is gone from her sight, though the warmth of her arms stay with Lena throughout the night.

The rest of the ball drags on, but when all is done it feels nothing more but a blur to Lena. In the silence of the car ride to her apartment, she sighs deeply and takes her phone out. She emails her mother a short update about how the ball went, before the news gets published the day after—the whole email exchange with her got easier as the days went by, and Lena finds she isn’t overthinking things now.

Or maybe she is, except it’s on a whole nother matter. She remembers the way Kara looks, the way Kara looks at her, and Lena bites her lip at the pitter-pattering of her chest and the warmth in her cheeks as she recalls how she yearned for a firmer touch, with how Kara so politely held her by the waist as they danced, how she cursed that businessman when he interrupted the two of them. Lena taps her phone to open Kara’s inbox, stares at it for a few moments. Her sun and sea.

On my way home, she texts Kara.

The blonde’s reply is quick, like always. Like she guards her phone in wait for Lena’s text every time. Good! You should rest when you get home. You deserve it :)

Lena finds herself smiling at the message. Good night, thank you for coming.

Always. :) Goodnight, Lena.

It’s odd, how she could perfectly imagine Kara saying those words. How she can see exactly how Kara would smile, and she remembers, almost vividly—perhaps inappropriately, even—how Kara would pull her close in her arms in a hug, or back when they would still cuddle. She wonders if the memory of Kara whispering good night to her in bed is indeed a memory or just an imagined one at this point, but all the same, the thought of it makes Lena swallow thickly, if only to keep her heart from beating out of her chest.

Oh.

//

should this be the last thing i see
i want you to know it’s enough for me
‘cause all that you are is all
that i’ll ever need

Chapter Text

 

The warmth and brightness against her eyes are why Lena wakes up. She stirs and turns to the other side of her bed with a groan. There is a pounding in her head that is probably because of the late morning sun beaming through her open bedroom curtains, or because of that last glass of wine she consumed way too late in the evening—or, technically, early in the morning. She blinks away the burning sensation in her eyes and looks to her clock on the bedside table.

11:23AM

Lena sighs and grabs a pillow to shield her face away from the light. It is too bright for anything, though this has to be the latest she has woken up ever. She has already lost already four hours and twenty-three minutes to being unconscious, time she could have spent reading up on her new journals or working through her emails. She hates sleep sometimes. Unfortunately, it was the only way to keep herself from overthinking, especially given her latest...realization.

That realization being she may have a little bit of a crush on her best friend.

Little is perhaps an understatement, given her brain’s stupid need to rewind every recent interaction with Kara to relive that rush in her chest, that strange combination of emotions that is mostly yearning and comfortable warmth.

Didn’t she deem it as happiness once?

Labelling it a crush seems so immature, but attraction seems too heavy a word, especially given the early stage of her discovery. It’s also fairly new, in a sense—the last time she had acknowledged... sapphic appreciation of women was back in college, with Samantha Arias, before she met Jack. She was beautiful, kind, the start of a tragedy—she had a child to care for and no place in her heart for someone else, and Lena had crushed the budding attraction before it further bloomed into something way worse.

The fear of being in the same situation with Kara had Lena grabbing the nearest bottle of wine.

The pursuit of reasons on why she feels this way towards Kara had been short, with the answer painfully obvious. Kara is beautiful, that much Lena can say. Her hair is soft and her smile is disarming and the way her blue eyes always seem to hold Lena captive when she is in the vicinity is simply terrifying, but beyond her physical attributes, Kara is kind to a fault, generous, brilliant. Lena can never run out of reasons to explain how such a crush —because that is all it is—could come about.

Since she had given a label on it, the parameters that came along with such made themselves known as expected: the realization of the lightness she feels around Kara as butterflies in her stomach, the longing to just be held by Kara as her need to be close to the blonde. As the night wore on and midnight struck, Lena had gone too deep into thinking about Kara, Kara, Kara , and she had only been able to fall asleep due to the combination of physical and emotional exhaustion as well as slight inebriation.

Which also explains her headache.

Lena rolls out of bed with a groan and pads to the kitchen. She downs a couple of glasses of water and makes herself light breakfast—or brunch, actually. It is only when she has finished with her meal and her shower that she returns to her room to take her phone. She finds an email from Lillian with a link to a news website, congratulating her on the goals attained during the Luthor Charity Ball.

Unsurprisingly, too, are several text messages from Kara. And maybe it is brought by the label Lena had placed upon her feelings, but sure enough, there is the rush in her chest as she goes through each.

The first is a good morning, Lena!!!! littered with various emojis, sent at eight in the morning, sharp. Considering it’s a Sunday, Lena quirks up an eyebrow at the early greeting.

She gets her answer with the next text: Guess who’s out for an early walk in the park!

It’s followed by a three photos: The first is of Krypto in Kara’s arms, his tongue lolling out in excitement, Kara grinning widely to the camera.  The second is a blurred photo. Squinting at it, Lena realizes it’s somehow a photo of Krypto jumping off of Kara’s arms. Lena chuckles, especially as she gets to the final one that she realizes is a three-second shaky clip of Kara chasing Krypto down her apartment hall, her best friend yelling get back here! before the clip ends.

The last text is a bit longer than the ones before:

I finally got him on a leash and we’re on our way to the dog park! Sorry for the spam but today just feels like a great day, you know? :D Hope you have a good one too, sorry for bothering you!

Kara’s excitement is palpable, even through text. Lena finds herself smiling at her phone, before her mind so cruelly reminds her of her predicament. Her heart thunders in her chest and she swallows thickly. This is her best friend. Whatever she is feeling isn’t the appropriate kind of appreciation she should have towards her best friend, especially when Kara had been nothing but supportive and helpful, given Lena’s concerns with her mother.

The feelings brewing in Lena’s chest—the remnants of those she had identified and filed away the night before—dissolve into guilt, just then; she feels like she is taking advantage of Kara’s friendship, what with their closeness and all. With a resolute sigh, Lena hides away her phone under her pillow before trudging to her home office. She grabs a bottle of wine from here mini-fridge, whips out her laptop and her headphones, and dives into a coding binge that she doesn’t surface from until she finishes the her prototype. She deems it better this way, instead of thinking and overthinking of her crush —attraction is still too heavy a word, even if she acknowledges the fluttering butterflies at Kara’s smile and the shuddering rush borne of the urge to touch her as exactly attraction.

It’s bad. Really bad. It’s normal, of course, for people to be attracted to other people, especially considering Kara is gorgeous, now that Lena actually stopped to think about it. Except Lena doesn’t really do normal—normal is overrated, given her status as a twenty-five-year-old CEO to a multi-billion company with thousands of accomplishments under her belt.

Then again, isn’t Kara who brought her back to normalcy—to humanity? It’s Kara who said that it’s human to crave for touch. It’s Kara who gave that first touch, after so long—the touch that Lena had almost forgotten, the touch that had her thinking of the comfort only the sun and sea had provided her for so long, from years back. It’s Kara who said it’s normal— human —to show weakness every once in a while, and it’s Kara who held her as she broke down all her walls.

It’s Kara who has seen the very human side of Lena Luthor and yet the pride in her eyes shine like the sun on the sea when she tells the raven-haired woman that she is, in fact, her best friend.

Attraction. It’s human, isn’t it?

And very, very inappropriate to feel towards one’s best friend. Right? Lena thinks as much. The mere idea of it makes known a predatory sort of feeling that settles bitterly on the back of her tongue, and Lena doesn’t like it.

She groans. So much for a distraction, Lena thinks as she pushes her laptop to the far end of her desk. With ringing ears and a sigh, she runs her debugging program and gets out of her office for a breath of fresh air. The darkness greets her as soon as she steps out. With another sigh and a puff of air in her cheeks, she turns on her lights and heads to the kitchen to pop some lasagna into the microwave—not the healthiest of choices, but she isn’t in the mood to cook nor to deal with people, which include delivery folks.

As she waits for her dinner to cook, Lena finds herself returning to her bedroom. She takes her phone from under her pillow. A reminder tells her she is yet to reply to Lillian, and her notifications tell her there is another text message from Kara.

She opens it without hesitation and feels guilt settle along with that bitter taste on the back of her tongue.

Busy Sunday huh? Don’t work too hard please :)

Lena lets out a long sigh. It’s quite difficult, she realizes, to hold back on certain feelings regarding Kara, especially when she is being so… Sweet? Caring? Kind? But isn’t that the kind of person she just is? Lena shouldn’t think too much of that single text—except she does, so much so. She wonders what Kara thinks she is doing, what Kara is doing the whole day Lena hadn’t texted her.

She shouldn’t. She shouldn’t.

Grumbling under her breath, Lena forgoes replying and instead opens up her email. She thanks her mother for the congratulations, tells her of L-Corp’s beneficiaries, even shares her favorite snippet of activity during the ball—some out of character quote from Bruce Wayne—and she realizes it’s the longest, perhaps most personal email she had sent to her mother.

All because she is a little distracted. At least her lasagna doesn’t burn. She breezes through dinner then takes her laptop to her bedroom, spends the rest of the night until her prototype is bug-free, and it’s an hour before midnight when she runs out of reasons to reply to Kara.

Is it her crush making her heart beat fast, or is it the guilt she feels about having this stupid crush in the first place? Because she shouldn’t. She shouldn’t. It almost feels like violating the trust Kara has given her.  Still, a lack of reply for  the whole day is exactly that, so she types up a message, sends it, then shoves her phone under her pillow before going to sleep.

Sorry for the lack of reply today. You’re right, a little busy. I finished a program I’ve been working on though, so there is that. I hope you and Krypto had a great day. Good night, Kara.

Or trying to sleep, anyway. Her phone vibrates a few seconds after she had sent her text, as if Kara had been guarding her phone all day waiting for a reply from Lena. She tells herself it’s just her imagination and forces herself to sleep.

Without wine this  time.

//

Lena’s Mondays are almost always chock full of meetings, which is for once, she is glad for. The four texts from Kara—three from last night which bid her good night, and sweet dreams, and Krypto misses you, and one that said good morning, hardworker —are replied with good morning, have a good day :) before Lena went to work, after which she had been in non-stop meetings. Aside from the usual unbearable know-it-alls who think they can do a better job than Lena does, everything goes well, and she can’t wait to go home so she could…

Well, so she could rest, probably, and go back to thinking and overthinking about the whole situation about Kara, and end up oversharing with her mother again.

She gets up from her last meeting for the morning and shakes the hand of the brilliant young woman from MIT who had presented her project proposal. Lena is already sure she will be receiving L-Corp support, but formalities have to be respected or her chief officers would have her head on a pike.

“Very well, Ms. Shuri,” Lena smiles as she guides the young woman out of the boardroom and into the floor lobby. “You’ll be hearing from us.”

The woman grins widely and thanks Lena and the rest of the panel before leaving. Lena follows her with her eyes, only faltering when her gaze falls on the blonde woman scooted over at one of the lobby chairs, typing over her laptop.

“Kara?” Lena calls out. She doesn’t mean to, however; it’s almost like reflex that it happened, but she can’t take it back, not when she confirms it’s indeed Kara, when her clumsy best friend jolts at her own name and almost sends her laptop crashing to the floor. She looks up at Lena and grins—and there it is, the fluttering of butterflies in Lena’s chest and she screams at herself to stop because she shouldn’t, she shouldn’t. She stays frozen on where she stands though, and seconds later a frazzled Kara is beaming right in front of her, laptop bag slung on her left shoulder, right hand offering a paper bag to Lena.

The CEO blinks. She hopes she isn’t blushing—isn’t that embarrassing, blushing, but she guesses it’s fitting for a crush —as she looks down at the paper bag before returning her gaze to Kara. “What’s that?” She asks dumbly.

Kara only pushes the paper bag to Lena’s free hand and doesn’t relent until the raven-haired woman takes it. “It’s lunch,” Kara says. “Your usual from Bella Italia, so Anton says. Also some doughnuts. All glazed, promise.” Lena’s lips part open at that. At her lack of response, Kara starts to fidget with her glasses. “I hope… I’m- I’m not imposing?” She continues. “It’s just that- well, uh, you’ve been busy the whole weekend, and knowing you, you’ll probably skip meals if you don’t have someone to remind you and- well, you probably have Jess remind you of that, but uh- I was, uh, down at your labs to interview one of your engineers and I thought, well…”

Kara trails off and shrugs helplessly. Lena realizes she is only staring now, and that her heartbeat is pounding, and that she should really say something because Kara looks like she is two seconds away from taking back all she had just said.

“Thank you,” Lena breathes out, looking down at the paper bag in her hand. She swallows thickly. The guilt she feels quadruples; Kara had been worried about her overworking and skipping meals during the time Lena had left her messages unreplied, even went so far as to buy her some lunch and dessert. Along with the guilt is the rush of lightness—Kara had been worried about her, Kara had brought her lunch—and the realization that despite the immaturity of this crush of hers, she should be mature enough to handle it: that if anyone should carry the responsibility of this crush, it should be Lena, since it is her, after all, who had carelessly developed... feelings for her best friend. If only to alleviate her guilt, perhaps she could pretend that nothing has changed—that her little crush doesn’t exist.

Won’t that be better for the both of them?

Lena manages a smile as she drags her gaze from the paper bag back to Kara, who at least looks relieved now. “Listen, Kara, I’m really sorry about yesterday,” she begins with a small sigh. “When I get into a project, I sometimes forget, well, other things.”

Kara shrugs her off easily. “Hey, I totally get it,” she grins. “There are a lot of other important things to do than reply to me.”  The statement doesn’t sit right with Lena and she opens her mouth to speak, but Kara just shakes her head. “Sorry, that sounds so self-critical, I just meant that you don’t have to explain.”

Lena nods hesitantly. “Still. Let me make it up to you?” The CEO gestures to her office. “How about we share this for lunch?” She offers.

The reporter’s bright smile dampens just a little bit. “Sorry, I actually have another interview in—” She glances at her watch. Lena follows the movement. “Well, twenty minutes. I just really wanted to hand you your lunch and remind you to eat,” Kara says with a laugh. “Rain check though?”

Lena ignores the fluttering in her chest. Pretend nothing has changed, after all; how did she use to react to that, anyway? She smiles and nods. “Dinner then?” She offers.

“Oh!” Kara says with a bounce of her feet and a snap of her fingers that has Lena forgetting all pretense because god, how is she supposed to pretend nothing has changed, when whatever veil she had been wearing before is gone and now all she can see Kara with are rose-colored glasses? “Join us for girl’s night though? Alex and Maggie are coming over tonight.”

Lena hesitates at that. She had a dinner meeting later that night—not because she was trying to avoid Kara, of course not, but because that night is the soonest Lena could get of his schedule before he leaves for another country—but before Lena could say no, Kara’s phone rings. The blonde easily rejects the call as she looks up with such an expectant expression that the raven-haired woman finds herself smiling and nodding.

“What shall I bring?” She offers instead, and all her second-guessing vanishes at the smile Kara gives in response.

“Just yourself, of course,” Kara says with a grin and a scrunch of her nose then fiddles with her glasses. “I do have to go now though, because I’ll be late otherwise.” She jabs her thumb behind her to the direction of the elevator but her gaze doesn’t leave Lena’s. “See you at seven?”

Lena nods easily. “Seven,” she confirms, and she watches Kara leave and give her a waggle of her fingers even as the elevator doors close. A heavy sigh escapes Lena. Paper bag of lunch in hand and the warmth of Kara’s smile in her mind, Lena walks back to her office, Veronica’s voice playing back in her head.

Attraction makes one do silly things.

Like agree in the mere blink of an eye? Drop everything at a simple request? Maybe buy a whole apartment building?

Okay. Maybe it isn’t just a crush. She sighs and collapses on her seat, stares at the paper bag of food. Opening it, she finds a pair of rectangular microwavable take-out plastic containers from Bella Italia. One is of mushroom risotto, the other Tuscan shrimp pesto, and on the lid of it is a doodle of a puppy that looks oddly like Krypto and a penguin, and a scribble that reads Tuscan’t miss lunch! It’s pesto eat a lot esp. during a busy day :) (Please tell me you got my puns otherwise… well I tried)

Lena laughs, for a moment, before her amusement dissolves into a helpless sigh.

God. Please let it be just a crush.

//

After personally calling Mr. Wayne to apologize for moving their dinner meeting to some other feasible time—one that doesn’t make her company lose millions of dollars—the rest of her day is a blur, and the next thing Lena knows, it’s half an hour before she is due at Kara’s place. She asks Frank to pick her up, and on their way to her best friend’s apartment she buys a bottle of some great wine, only because she doesn’t believe in arriving as a guest empty-handed.

When they arrive, Lena tells Frank she will take a cab home and makes her way to Kara’s apartment. Only when she raises her fist to knock on her door does she realize she is still in her office attire of navy blue long-sleeved wrap blouse and pencil skirt that is just entirely too formal for a girl’s night. It would be too late to change anyway, and before she could call for Frank to return, there is an excited bark from the other side of the door. Two seconds later, the door is ripped open and Kara beams across her, all sunny disposition and summer days that Lena forgets her concern about the formality of her clothing.

“Hi,” Kara breathes, steps aside to usher Lena in. The CEO doesn’t even try to, it just happens—she takes in every little detail she could of Kara, as if it’s a requirement to the label she had bestowed upon her relationship with her best friend, but it happens anyway. She notices the skew of her glasses, the stray blonde hair across her face, the way she looks so soft in her shirt and sweatpants that Lena is reminded of those few sessions they shared.

“Hey,” Lena greets back, lest her silence and her probable staring is becoming too much. Kara closes the door behind them as Krypto dashes around Lena’s feet, then takes the bottle of wine in Lena’s hand.

“You didn’t have to,” she says as she scrambles to the kitchen to put the bottle down. The raven-haired woman chuckles and sits on her haunches to pet Krypto.

“I know. I wanted to,” Lena tells Kara as she gives the canine some ear scratches. The puppy licks her hands eagerly; Kara laughs and picks him up in her arms, only for her face to receive the brunt of the excitable licking.

“Right,” Kara giggles. “This way, Lee. Meet my—”

“The infamous Lena Luthor,” a short brunette says before Kara could continue. Lena turns her attention to the couch where to women sit and look quite cozy. The redheaded woman beside the brunette hides a chuckle behind her smirk.

Kara nervously pushes up her glasses with her free hand as she tries to keep Krypto in her arms, but he barks and the blonde lets him go. He dashes back around Lena’s feet before sitting to the side, looking up expectantly at the CEO with his tail wagging nonstop. “Right,” Kara continues, taking away Lena’s attention from the puppy. “Lena, this is my sister, Alex, and her girlfriend, Maggie.”

At the confirmation that the redheaded one is Kara’s sister, Lena’s attention flicks to her. Alex, as she was introduced, looks like she is sizing her up—or probably going through memories of Lex in the news and trying to connect them to the reality that she sees in front of her. Trained to be polite, however, Lena steps forward and offers her hand to both of them.

“Pleased to meet you,” Lena says, hoping her voice doesn’t sound strained. Alex at least stands and shakes her hand. Firm hold, proud glare, every bit of a protective sister that Lena expected, especially when people knew she is a Luthor. The brunette, Maggie, stands and shakes her hand too—she has a cute dimple but Lena knows better than to profile her as cute as a button, especially with the knowing glint in her eyes.

“We’ve heard a lot of things about you,” Maggie says. Lena chuckles nervously as she retracts her hand and glances to Kara before turning her gaze back on Maggie.

“All good things, I hope?” She with a small smile. Alex just shrugs.

“As if Kara is capable of saying bad things about anyone,” she mumbles. Lena notices the glass of wine she lifts to her lips. She itches for one, too. “Especially when it comes to you,” Alex continues, and Lena tilts her head curiously but Kara takes her attention.

“Anyway!” Kara exclaims with a laugh as she gestures behind her to the dining table. “Dinner is actually waiting, so shall we? Or would you like to eat over a movie?”

Lena just shrugs, but it’s Maggie who replies. “We should just eat and maybe have an actual conversation? Considering we have new company.”

Kara squints over at Maggie but agrees anyway. Lena watches on curiously but follows as they file over to the dinner table. Krypto bounces after them with what looks like a bone in his mouth, before settling under the table. A small chuckle escapes Lena when she sees the take-out food that rests on the table, and when she looks up to find Kara’s gaze, she realizes the blonde is already looking at her.

“What a fine selection,” Lena notes with a laugh as she sits. Kara does the same beside her and grins proudly as she picks up a bowl of potstickers before handing it to the CEO.

“I know,” Kara giggles. “Anyway, try these! Not Auntie Cho’s but they’re shrimp and vegetable.” She pauses to scrunch her nose as Lena gets her chopsticks. She chances a glance across her, where Alex and Maggie seem to just be watching her. It makes her squirm a little, so she tears her attention back to Kara and picks up one. “It’s from a new place I found around four, five blocks away?”

Lena hums and takes the potsticker to her mouth. Kara watches on, still beaming, and it’s hard for Lena’s heart not to start racing when Kara is staring at her like that.

“I mean, it’s not Auntie Cho’s, but it is pretty good, isn’t it?” Kara excitedly asks even as Lena chews. The raven-haired woman nods and smiles, confirms with a it’s really good that she doesn’t wholly mean—for all her supposed brilliance, she is terrible when it comes to matters of food, but if Kara says so, then she is inclined to believe so. Kara giggles and points to the box of pizza, tells Lena to dig in, just as Maggie stands to reach out and pour some wine to Lena’s empty glass.

“So,” Maggie starts as she watches the red wine fill half of the glass. Kara seems to throw her a warning glare but the woman just shrugs and turns to Lena. “CEO of L-Corp, huh? At twenty-five?”

Lena ducks her head and nods. There is a hint of pride and curiosity in Maggie’s voice that she doesn’t usually hear from people she has just met—mostly because at one point after meeting, they have already established their judgment of her, more often than not involving her last name, and considering she had been with the three women for ten or fifteen minutes now without the Luthor name flung about…

It’s refreshing, and Lena is thankful for it. She briefly wonders if Kara’s warning glare is to keep it that way.

“Nice,” Maggie continues as she picks up a slice of pizza. “I’m pushing on thirty-two and I’m still some measly detective.”

Lena frowns at her words. “That’s not an easy job,” she defends, pausing from taking a bite of her pizza. “I’m sure you’re great at it. And besides, it’s not like I worked my way up. It was merely handed to me.” She shrugs and digs into her slice, savoring the taste of the pizza. Nothing special she can note of and Kara isn’t looking at her eagerly, awaiting her reaction, so she just swallows without much thought. Kara is looking at her though, with something like disbelief on her expression.

“You’re doing a very good job keeping your company afloat,” she says, the furrow between her eyebrows deepening. Lena smiles at her thankfully and ignores the wings that flutter in her stomach at the validation and the way Kara looks at her.

“Thank you,” she murmurs. Kara just shrugs, so Lena turns her attention back to Maggie. “You’re a detective,” she tells her, then turns to Alex. “And you’re an FBI agent, Kara mentioned. Might I venture a guess and you met on the field?”

“Yep,” Alex says simply. She takes a gulp of her wine then tilts her head at the CEO. “What do you do for fun?”

Lena blinks, ignores the almost blatant way they turned the ball back to her court. It almost feels like an interrogation, and she fears a question about her brother is next. Still, she quirks up her lips. “For… Fun?”

Alex snorts before quickly sobering up with a scowl and a glance over at Kara. Lena bites her lip, finding the reason Alex and Maggie had been nothing but sort of friendly. “Yeah,” Alex prods with a shrug. “Like your hobbies or something.”

Lena reaches for her wine. She guesses this is better than being asked about her brother, but personal questions are ones she hasn’t been asked in a long time, bar Kara, and there is a little discomfort that comes along with answering such a simple question. She vaguely wonders if Kara had pre-approved this question, given the looks she had been throwing her sister. The thought makes Lena chuckle to herself. “I don’t know. I love to read, I suppose. I code, kick, and shoot on my free time.”

That seems to take the two women’s interests as they straighten a bit. “Shoot?” Maggie echoes. Kara sighs beside her and Lena glances at her before turning to the two, smiling like she had found the opening to an opportunity.

Everything just seems easier when she treats them as business deals, don’t they?

“Shoot,” Lena confirms. “Bang bang?” She adds, to which Kara snorts. Lena chuckles as Maggie seems to pick her jaw up from the floor.

“No way,” Maggie breathes. “You have access to sick guns, don’t you,” she says, and it isn’t a question so Lena just shrugs. “Holy shit. Take me with you some time.”

Her window of opportunity. It dawns on Lena that it most certainly seems like she is trying to seek plus points to her best friend’s sister’s and her girlfriend’s good side, so she tries to ignore it. “The range is available whenever you’re free,” she offers.

“You have your own shooting range?” Alex asks, and the wonder in her voice is audible. Lena shakes her head and chuckles shyly.

“Oh no, it’s a friend’s.” Lena turns to Kara. “Veronica’s.”

Kara laughs and nods. “The same friend with the gym? Not surprised.” The blonde takes a huge bite of her pizza and gracelessly beams at Maggie. Lena shouldn’t find it endearing but she does, god, she does, especially when Kara continues to speak. “Lena’s a badass, right on your alley, Mags. She totally almost killed me one time.”

The words are bizarre but the familiar pride in her voice warms Lena in the best of ways. She tries to push the feeling away, drowns it with a gulp of wine. Maybe coming over was a bad idea. She glances at the blonde. “In my defense,” Lena drawls, “you tried to punch me.”

Maggie gasps. “You tried to punch her?”

“In my defense,” Kara asserts. “I was curious!”

Alex snorts. “Curiosity kills the cat is how the saying goes,” she shoots back, and Maggie and Lena laugh with her.

“Is no one going to ask about my hobbies?” Kara huffs. Lena turns to her fondly and smiles, but Alex beats her to it.

“Your hobbies include binge-watching ten years worth of shows in two weeks, and—”

“Eating,” Lena pipes in.

“Hey!” Kara huffs, lips in an adorable pout that Lena—

Oh no. No, her brain screams. Lena bites her lip and finishes her glass of wine with one smooth swig.

“It’s true,” Alex maintains with all the air of an older sibling in the right, and Lena is thankful as Kara shucks her a piece of ham.

“I’m not sitting here and be bullied,” Kara mutters. Lena licks her lips and reaches for the wine bottle to refill her glass, but Kara beats her to it. The blonde pours her some wine as she sticks her tongue out over at Alex.

“Mature, Little Danvers,” Maggie chuckles. “I fail to see how you two became friends. How did you two meet anyway?” She asks, and Kara stops pouring into Lena’s glass to glare at the detective. Lena looks down at her glass and laughs nervously. She needs more wine to carry on with this conversation, especially with all the stupid details her stupid brain chooses to focus on.

Lena shrugs anyway. “Actually—”

“You don’t have to tell them, Lena,” Kara interrupts. Lena glances at her and smiles. She appreciates Kara looking out for her.

It doesn’t help with Lena’s predicament.

“I mean, it’s not really a big deal,” the CEO starts. “Anymore, anyway, and if any of this leaks out and it does have some serious repercussions on L-Corp’s business, then I’d have to talk to you two with my lawyers.” Lena twists the stem of her wine glass between her index finger and thumb. “Kara was my cuddler.”

“Huh,” Maggie hums. “You’re not a cuddler anymore though, right?”

“She quit,” Alex notes with a quirk of an eyebrow. Kara just puffs her cheeks and nods. Lena watches on curiously but echoes the confirmation anyway.

“But we stayed friends,” Lena murmurs. “Kara totally took pity on me because I was sad and all,” she adds, and the self-deprecation comes so easily that she is surprised at the concern in Kara’s face. It only serves to stoke the warmth in Lena’s chest and it burns further—and despite all her efforts to ignore it, she can’t. She bites her lip. “She’s kind of like my secretary though, telling me what to do and all that.”

Kara looks offended at her words but Lena is grateful because the tenderness in her blue gaze shifts into something more teasing—something Lena could handle more easily than such softness. “If I was your secretary I’ll kick you out of your office at five on the dot,” she says with a huff.

Maggie looks between the two of them and hums. Lena wonders what that look is for, but Kara is standing and announcing dessert.

“Chocolate pecan pie!” She exclaims, and goes on the explain that it’s the best dessert in the whole world as she takes the pie from the fridge. Lena has her gaze on her form until she realizes she is looking at Kara’s ass, so she whips her attention to the front, only for her to meet Maggie’s knowing gaze again. Alex is just muttering over her glass of wine.

//

They share dessert over more conversations about the possibility of a weekend afternoon at the shooting range, before they shift into talk of TV shows and movies. At around nine in the evening, Alex’s phone rings, and the woman announces that they have to be going because she had an early morning in. Maggie follows her, of course, and Lena shakes their hands again before they go.

“You’re pretty cool, Luthor,” Maggie grins as they close the door. Alex makes a small sound of approval before they are gone. Lena chuckles, turns nervous when she finds Kara pouting at her.

“Yes?”

Kara bounces on the balls of her feet. “Are you leaving now too?”

Lena smiles shyly and shakes her head. “Unless you’re kicking me out.”

At that, Kara beams. “Never.”

//

Lena stays. They end up watching something, the two of them sitting side by side on the couch with their feet propped up on the coffee table, a cozy blanket over their legs, Krypto on Lena’s lap—despite her pencil skirt and Kara’s cries of betrayal. They finish some musical about a princess or something that ends up in the real world—Lena doesn’t remember, not when she was hyper-focused on the warmth that radiated from Kara, the way she spoke in such a soft voice like she was telling the raven-haired woman the deepest of secrets, the way she sang in the most beautiful of ways, and it’s terrible, really, how Lena just feels helpless to the inevitable downhill motions of everything that involved Kara. She should go home, to her apartment, to her bed, but Kara is warm and Lena’s head falls onto her shoulder sometime during the first few minutes of the next movie. She blacks out for some time, but the next thing she knows she is being shaken awake.

“Want me to carry you to bed?” Kara offers in that soft voice again. The offer is tempting, what with dreams already in her grasp, but some sort of logic magically wins and she shakes her head.

“I should head- head home,” Lena says with a yawn. Kara huffs.

“It’s super late, Lena, and you’re like, way sleepy, like drunk sleepy,” she insists, and she guides the woman somewhere. Lena is barely aware of the warmth in her hand—Kara’s hand—and the dimness of the way to what she guesses is Kara’s bedroom. She is thankful the blonde doesn’t turn the lights on. Her eyes feel too heavy. The warmth disappears for a moment or two, but then soft fabric is placed in her hands. “Go change, then you can sleep here, alright?”

Lena nods, Maybe she is drunk, or sleepy, or drunk with sleepiness, but before Kara could pull away she grabs her wrist and tries to make out her eyes in the darkness. She finds them quickly—bright despite the dim of the room, like the moon on the sea itself illuminates them. “Will you- I mean, are you okay with- with that?”

She hears the smile in Kara’s voice despite the dimness and her drowsiness. “Of course.” She pauses and Lena lets go of her hand to make a move to change. It takes her far longer than she would like, but she gracelessly—tiredly—crashes onto Kara’s bed with a sigh. Dreams brush against her eyelids, but before sleep could claim her, she feels the bed sink with Kara’s weight.

Kara speaks again. “Cuddles?”

The hold sleep has on Lena vanishes and she looks up at Kara, ever so understanding and kind, her arms wide open for Lena to crawl into.  She would blame sleepiness, later, or perhaps tell Kara she thought she was already dreaming, should it be just that, but she scoots closer, slotting herself in Kara’s arms.

It’s like coming home, the warmth and familiarity of it all, and Lena tries to ignore how comforting it is but she ends up surrendering, sinking into Kara’s arms the same way she melts under the sun while she settles on the beach, and she soaks her in for as long as she is allowed—wishes that Kara couldn’t hear her pounding heart, and that if she could, hopes upon all hope that she is forgiven.

Even if it’s just this once.

//

Lena dreams of the sun and the sea, dreams of drowning in that deep blue, but instead of the pain of water in her lungs she breathes the ocean in—breathes Kara in, and it’s of the warmth of her arms and the smell of berries that Lena wakes up to.

It definitely isn’t a crush anymore.

//

Later, much later—after a hard day’s work and a long morning of thinking about how beautiful her best friend looked in the soft rays of the early sun, how precious she looked as she thanked Lena for the breakfast she prepared—Lena finds herself lying awake on her bed, back to her predicament so long ago: craving those damned cuddles, when she had been so against the idea at first, yet here she is, diving into her memory of strong arms and a warm embrace. She sighs deeply, blindly reaching for her phone on the bedside table. She squints at the bright light and dials a familiar number. It connects after five rings.

“This better be a good fucking reason, Luthor.”

Lena lets out a heavy sigh. “I have a problem, Veronica.”

“Shit,” the other woman replies. Lena hears rustling of sheets. “Did you fucking kill someone?” Veronica asks, her voice a low whisper. Lena lets out an incredulous of course not. “Oh, thank god. I thought I had to- You know what, just don’t fucking start your call with my full name, especially when you’re calling at—” She pauses, then curses. “Isn’t it three in the fucking morning in National City?”

Lena rolls her eyes. “You kiss Diana with that mouth?” She mutters, and before Veronica could say something inappropriate, she continues. “Listen. I think- I’m- I have—”

“Take your time,” Veronica says, and something in her voice shifts in such understanding that Lena feels a sting in her eyes.

“I think I have a Sam situation,” Lena finally sighs. “With- With—” She swallows thickly. Veronica just hums, waits patiently until the CEO could speak. “With Kara.”

There is silence in the other line and Lena pulls her phone away to check that she is still connected. Finally, Veronica talks again. “How is it a Sam situation? She doesn’t have a kid, does she?”

Lena runs her palm down her face. “That isn’t—” She sighs. “The point is I’m attracted to a woman, who I think doesn’t- or- I just—” God. Words are hard. Feelings are hard, and it is so rare that she shares such things to Veronica. Especially Veronica, considering their history, but she is glad she had someone, or else she would have been driven mad at this point. “The point is it’s a terrible idea, to be- to be, you know, attracted to her.”

“How is it a terrible idea? She’s good for you, you know,” Veronica says, so softly that Lena almost misses it, but when the words sink in she laughs incredulously.

“You don’t think I know that?” Lena sighs. “She’s a great friend. I’ve never- I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend like her.”

“I should be offended, but I’m not,” Ronnie drawls. “I get what you mean, but if you’re waiting for me to tell you to run away, I’m not going to.”

Lena sits up on the bed and sighs. She runs her hand through her hair and stares at the wall across her bed—a stark white, such a contrast to the colorful walls of Kara’s bedroom, and as soon as she began thinking of her a smile slips on Lena’s lips. It’s terrible because she shouldn’t, she can’t.

And yet.

“She’s my best friend,” Lena defends. The sting behind her eyes returns.

“You won’t be the first in human history,” Veronica says easily. Lena chuckles.

“The first in my life, though,” she whispers. Veronica just sighs.

“I get that you’re scared,” she says, and Lena can almost see her raise a finger to tell Lena to shut up when she gives a pause. “And I can’t tell you what to do, but consider that both times I have seen you with her, I have noticed that you look at her like she wrote the field equations for General Relativity herself instead of Einstein.” She pauses to chuckle and Lena bites her lip, wondering if she does look at Kara like that. Veronica continues. “And she—”

Her friend pauses. Lena hears murmuring from the other line before Veronica sighs again. Lena wonders how many of these heavy breaths they can exchange before this phone call ends. “She’s good for you, Lena. You don’t have to do anything about it, but you know, every now again a leap of faith lands you somewhere worth the uncertainty. Besides,” she says pointedly. “You're a businesswoman. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, isn't it?”

Lena wants to laugh at that. If only it was as easy as making a decision. It’s ironic, considering she knows things would be easier if she treated them like some sort of business deal, but this wasn’t. The risk is losing Kara as a friend—a best friend—and what is the reward? The opportunity to date her? Have her as a girlfriend only for the risk—of losing her, perhaps for good, because when did she ever have the luck—to stay?

Lena was used to loneliness when for so long it had been her company, but she doesn’t think she can go back to the shadows, not when her sun warmed her so. She sighs and sinks tiredly back onto the bed.

“Right,” she whispers. She buries her face on her free hand and ignores the knowing way Veronica chuckles. Veronica’s fair share of wisdom had been enlightening, but Lena doesn’t think she can go down that path. Not when there is so much at stake.

God. It should’ve just stayed as a happy crush of sorts. That would’ve been fine. That would have been easier for her, but she guesses predicaments like this are almost inevitable, especially when it is Kara Danvers she is dealing with.

If only she could buy her feelings out of her chest.

“In other news,” Lena continues, in need of a change in topic after such a heavy one. “I’m talking to my mother now.”

There’s a huff from the other line. “Brunch this Saturday. I’m hanging up.”

Lena opens her mouth to tell Veronica off but the other line beeps. Laughter falls from her lips, and Lena surrenders to the warmth of her bed—not quite as warm as Kara but it will do.

It should.

Chapter Text

“She’s good for you, Lena. You don’t have to do anything about it, but you know, every now again a leap of faith lands you somewhere worth the uncertainty. Besides,” she says pointedly. “You're a businesswoman. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, isn't it?”

Lena wants to laugh at that. If only it was as easy as making a decision. It’s ironic, considering she knows things would be easier if she treated them like some sort of business deal, but this wasn’t. The risk is losing Kara as a friend—a best friend—and what is the reward? The opportunity to date her? Have her as a girlfriend only for the risk—of losing her, perhaps for good, because when did she ever have the luck—to stay?

Lena was used to loneliness when for so long it had been her company, but she doesn’t think she can go back to the shadows, not when her sun warmed her so. She sighs and sinks tiredly back onto the bed.

“Right,” she whispers. She buries her face on her free hand and ignores the knowing way Veronica chuckles. Veronica’s fair share of wisdom had been enlightening, but Lena doesn’t think she can go down that path. Not when there is so much at stake.

God. It should’ve just stayed as a happy crush of sorts. That would’ve been fine. That would have been easier for her, but she guesses predicaments like this are almost inevitable, especially when it is Kara Danvers she is dealing with.

If only she could buy her feelings out of her chest.

“In other news,” Lena continues, in need of a change in topic after such a heavy one. “I’m talking to my mother now.”

There’s a huff from the other line. “Brunch this Saturday. I’m hanging up.”

Lena opens her mouth to tell Veronica off but the other line beeps. Laughter falls from her lips, and Lena surrenders to the warmth of her bed—not quite as warm as Kara but it will do.

It should.

//

Lena’s realization of her feelings is a weight on her shoulders after that night—her acknowledgement of said feelings means confirming their existence in a way that not even work could distract her from, especially when the object of her feelings is always in her orbit. Lena didn’t want anything to change between them. After all, her feelings are her own responsibility, and she didn’t want her dynamic with Kara change, lest it bother the blonde.

After her first attempt at avoiding Kara ended with her best friend visiting her in the office shortly before a scheduled interview just to bring Lena lunch, the raven-haired woman didn’t even dare think of it. She couldn’t do that to Kara—sweet, generous Kara, who only offered her time and effort to Lena. She is her best friend, and above all else, Lena knows the blonde’s well-being should be in the forefront of her mind, especially considering she thought of her more than just a friend now. Her own feelings be damned. It’s not like she knows what to do yet, either. Despite Veronica’s enlightening words, Lena isn’t entirely sure she wanted to jeopardize her whole friendship with Kara—the best thing that had happened to her in a long, long while—just for the sake of newly-acknowledged feelings.

So Lena has decided to let things be, for the good of all things. It isn’t difficult—or at least, not that difficult, because at work she can mask looking past Kara’s texts as being busy, unless Kara invites her for brunch. Which she doesn’t, thankfully; Kara is busy too, and Lena thanks Snapper, even if the reporter mentioned nothing good about him but rants on how he assigns her the most ridiculous of topics.

It’s almost the end of the week and Lena is coming out of a meeting when her phone vibrates with a text. Already expecting Kara’s message with some photo of where she was currently out for her assignment, she pauses midway her trek to her office when she sees an unknown number.

So when are we shooting?

Lena frowns. Before she could reply who it was and how they got her number, another message comes in.

This is Maggie, btw. Hope you remember me otherwise I’m telling Kara!

The CEO manages a chuckle at that. She saves the number and tells Maggie that she would have to confirm with her friend, afterwards reminds Veronica of the brunch she is owed. When she is back in her office, she returns to work, answering a few more emails, including a couple from her mother.

Things have been good so far with the older Luthor. Lena still had qualms about her intentions, though they have taken a backseat as the days went by. Lillian seemed sincere; as sincere one could sound on email anyway. Neither of them had really requested for another means of communication, like a phone number like normal people do, and Lena wasn’t going to be the one to ask. For the most part they have only talked about business, though at one point during the week, upon the news of Spheerical Industries releasing a new drug, her mother does ask about Jack and how their relationship was—Lena had to confirm that yes, we have indeed broken up, mother, and no matter how odd it was, it was the first, most personal, most mother-daughter kind of thing that they have discussed, and Lena had, in a moment of weakness, thought about telling Lillian of the whole Kara situation.

Except Lillian doesn’t really know that her daughter even swung that way, and they were still taking baby steps; Lena can’t possibly out herself. Besides, she had other things to think about.

Lena is already on her way home when Veronica finally replies with K, usual? and the raven-haired woman rolls her eyes so hard her head actually hurt, but she does confirm. Veronica might just be the insanity she could handle.

//

It must be the exhaustion of the long week she had just finished, or the emotional fatigue even—for things you couldn't even touch, feelings are such a burden—but Lena finds herself yawning as soon as she walked into her bedroom. She doesn’t even have the energy to read up on her journals after changing, and she texts Kara an early goodnight. Her replies come in before sleep claims Lena.

Must be a long week, huh? Sleep tight. :)

Krypto says don’t work too hard! Rest during the weekend!

She dreams of drowning in the deep blue, yet again, but oddly she can breathe.

//

When Lena wakes up the next day, she feels a little bit better. She texts Veronica a reminder of their brunch before telling Kara to have a good weekend, too.

And she does try to rest during the said weekend, as was told of her. Try being the keyword, because rest means having to slow down and slowing down means having to think of other things—like how she gets so excited when her phone vibrates with a text, thinking it’s from Kara, and how disappointed she gets when it’s just a notification for an email.

Or how she thinks she could never let a day go by without a single message from Kara, no matter how mundane said text would be—like a bunch of emojis she can’t even decipher. It further strengthens her resolve of ignoring her feelings, because what good would that be? She can’t risk losing Kara just because of the sliver of hope she feels that maybe the blonde could like her back. All because the blonde spared her a moment each day? She had been fine before. She had never been this hungry for attention—not even with Jack, and yet, here she was, agonizing about how she couldn't lose Kara. For all the loneliness she thinks she was used to way back before her,  the mere idea of returning to such life was simply not conceivable anymore.

Lena sighs heavily. It had been some time since she had to deal with such... emotions, though she doesn’t think it had been this way with Jack. An uneasy feeling settles on the back of her throat. She ignores it.

//

The CEO arrives early at their usual restaurant. She orders a glass of wine to start her off, late morning be damned. She spends her time waiting on her phone, responding to emails—one from her mother asking her of her weekend plans, to which she replied with a brunch with Veronica Sinclair of Sine Group of Companies, lest her mother ask further about her social life, plus some hours dedicated to her side projects.

“You look like shit,” a voice drawls. Lena rolls her eyes as she closes her phone and looks up at Veronica with a glare.

“Good morning to you too, Ronnie,” she greets back with a scowl. “You’re late.”

Veronica sits across her with a wave of her hand. “No, you’re just early. Why are you brooding?”

Lena scoffs at that, scowl deepening. “I’m not brooding,” she shoots back.

The woman across her smirks. “Clearly.”

Lena sighs, but instead of snapping at her company gestures for the waitress so they could order something to eat. Lena gets a light meal and a refill of her wine, which she promptly sips until her glass is half-empty.

“Alright, alcoholic. How are things?” Veronica asks when the waitress leaves, looking at Lena with something like amusement and distant concern in her eyes.

Lena ignores the jab and shrugs. “Same old. The side project I’m working on—”

“With Kara, I mean.”

Lena pauses at that and stares at Veronica for a full minute, as if deciding what to say. Veronica only stares back, tilting her head as if expecting Lena to pour her heart out.

“Still the same,” Lena says simply, because isn’t that how things are going with her best friend?

Veronica only hums. “And how are you?”

The raven-haired woman closes her eyes at that. It seems like a loaded question for a such a simple one and Lena settles with another shrug. “I’m doing fine.”

Veronica seems to consider her words. “Clearly,” she says, but it lacks the bite of her earlier response. Lena can’t bear the softness in her words nor her features. She would much rather have the annoying Veronica she knows.

“There are risks I’d rather not take, Ronnie,” she whispers after a while. “This isn’t a business deal. And as much as I’m used to...isolation,” she shrugs. “I don’t think I can go back to how things were…before.”

The admission is terrifying. It brings to the forefront of Lena’s mind how her feelings run deeper than she had anticipated, and the uneasy feeling returns to the back of her throat. Veronica looks like she has something to say but seems to think against it, instead nods in contemplation. “She’s good for you, you know.”

Lena manages a laugh. “So you’ve said before.” She sighs. “And like I said, I think I'm quite aware of that.” She gives her friend a glance; it’s quite rare to see Veronica Sinclair helpless. Lena doesn’t think she has ever seen her so helpless before now but she does—she is staring at Lena like she doesn’t quite know what to say and that, in itself, is what terrifies the raven-haired woman. Veronica is supposed to be a know-it-all.

“What?”  Lena finally snaps, anxious of the silence.

“Nothing,” Veronica finally settles with. Lena wonders if it really is nothing . She doesn’t dare prod anyway, knowing it might dig a deeper hole for herself. She sighs and tries to divert the topic.

“I’ll need to borrow your shooting range sometime soon. Probably a weekend,” Lena explains.

Veronica raises an eyebrow. “You can’t shoot away your feelings,” she points out. “I’ve tried. Waste of lead, bad for the environment.”

The CEO stares at her blankly. “I offered to let Kara’s sister and her girlfriend shoot.”

Veronica blinks at that, and snorts rather ungracefully. “Kara’s sister has a girlfriend?” She asks, voice taking in a curious lilt. “How interesting.”

“Look,” Lena says tiredly. “Are you going to let me borrow it or not?”

“Already trying to score points with the family?” Veronica quips. Lena just rolls her eyes. The waitress arrives with their food and she is thankful; she takes back her earlier words. She didn’t want to deal with Ronnie’s insanity anymore.

“I’m doing it as a friend,” Lena says with a sigh before digging into her food. The other woman just hums as she does the same, and they eat in silence— knowing silence, with Veronica looking at Lena like she had all the answers in the world but didn't want to share them with her.

“So,” Veronica starts after a while. The Luthor braces herself for another hard-hitting question. “You’re talking to your mother now?”

It isn’t an easy question to answer but Lena would take that over talking about her...feelings. She proceeded to talk about how that went about—the call, the thirty-second visit, the emails. Even as she spoke there sits a reply from her mother that she hadn’t read yet. They have surprisingly moved on from all the business talk and have ventured into what Lillian had been busy with these past few years.

Visiting the families of Lex’s victims, she had said. That had been surprising, to say the least, and Lena had taken almost a day to reply, but she didn’t question her, didn’t ask why or what for or if she had ulterior motives; a part of Lena still doubted her mother’s intentions, but another part of her—a bigger part of her, a part that seems to win more and more each day, a part that grew bigger with Lena trying to veer her attention away from thoughts of Kara, Kara, Kara—just surrendered to the growing familiarity of it all: of having a constant, a mother to converse with, a much-needed divergence to the majority of her life.

She thinks that maybe it’s fine, to think she deserved as much.

Veronica seems to echo her sentiment and gave her a supportive smile—yet another rare expression from the woman. Lena wonders exactly just how depressing her life had become to warrant such from Veronica, and realizes that maybe, the woman had just gone soft.

“Enough about me,” Lena says, finishing her glass of wine. “How are things with Diana?” The smile that takes over Veronica’s features honestly made Lena want to hurl. “You’re so in love it’s disgusting,” Lena comments dryly.

Veronica smirks. “Stop being bitter, Luthor. You’ll come around.”

She doesn’t know what Ronnie means but she does listen, vaguely wondering if, once upon a time, when she had talked about Kara to Ronnie, she had smiled like this, like there was nothing but lightness and freedom in her soul.

//

After their brunch, Veronica gets Maggie’s number from Lena. When the CEO asks why, the woman just shrugs, says it’s so she can personally check with the detective about her schedule and so she also gets to know who she was handing the keys to her shooting range too.  Lena lets it go, informs Maggie she offered Veronica her number, and they part ways with Ronnie offering her a soft smile and you’d be fine.

The words were meant to be reassuring, and Lena is grateful, but it also felt like she was going to war. All is fair after all, they said, in that and in love.

Is that where she was going?

//

The following days were of the same: work, emails exchanged with her mother, more work, the texts from Kara, and Lena’s occasional replies—because if Lena throws herself deeper into work, it’s because she is a hard worker, not because she is trying to avoid Kara.

She isn’t trying to avoid Kara. She had settled that argument with herself already. It isn’t Kara’s fault that Lena made the misstep of being attracted to the blonde. She sighs at the word misstep —she hasn’t even realized she needed to be careful in treading this relationship with Kara. For all the firsts she had gotten from the blonde, she hadn’t realized this would be part of it, not until now that she was watching herself fall face first.

The thought made her pause. Was she falling for Kara? No. That can’t be possible. She was merely attracted to her, is all. The thought is terrifying—the first time she had caught herself, with Sam, she was so sure of it. She hadn’t landed face first, after all, hadn’t hurt herself that much, only managed to scrape her knees before she was up and about, moving on the years after.

It isn’t Lena’s fault that as CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, she has a lot of things to do, especially as she pushed forward the next phase of the Biomax project a week earlier than scheduled—at her sole expense, of course. Preparations had to be done herself as she is the head of this next phase, and it gave her more reason to work further. Her hours at the office become longer day after day, and by midweek both Jess and Kara had given her reminders to go home early. She tries, anyway, though as soon as she gets home her laptop would be open and she'd be scribbling away formulas and plans. Kara would text her along the lines of you better be sleeping!!! or something similar, like she knew Lena would go home from her L-Corp office only to start work at home, and it's guilt that sends her to bed, not the urge to sleep. The concern is sweet, though Lena catches herself before se dwells too much into the thought. Kara was just being a friend, that's all it is.

Lena should have known it was coming. There had been the telltale signs: like the building ache in her back and legs she thought was just from slouching over her desk, or the chills she thought were just from the open balcony door, or the headaches despite her constant drinking of water between sips of her whiskey, which, well, might just be from the whiskey. Jess had brought her some tea and vitamin C one afternoon, while the CEO scowled over some designs for a vertical farm in the city, and she distractedly accepted them without anything but a thank you over her secretary's way before she scrawled notes over the pages she was working on.

Lena had been in the middle of a call, a day or two later, when she coughs a little. She excuses herself for a moment before answering the supplier she has over the phone with her side of the negotiation—which she inevitably wins, of course; it was one of the few things she had learned from Lex that really stuck and mattered. She ends the call with a soft sigh, tired all of a sudden, when her phone rings again. She scowls, thinking it’s the supplier calling back with perhaps more balls this time around to say now, but it quickly melts away when Kara’s photo playfully glares at her, all lovely freckles and the blue of her eyes. It’s the photo that grounds her, in busy times like this when all she could have of Kara, all she let herself have of the blonde, more like: a selfie of her best friend, back when they were still teetering on the line of friendship and cuddler-client relationship, and Lena had cooked the woman breakfast because she had to run off for work as well.

She distantly wonders how things would have unfolded if she had agreed to stay for breakfast back then. Would she have realized sooner?

The raven-haired woman finally answers the call. As soon as the line connects, Kara is off like a shot, ranting you’ll never guess where Snapper sent me to this time! and going on about how predictably uncooperative the National City Water and Sewage Department is.

“I mean, I love my job, I really do, and I’m fine with Snapper sending me around like this but like…” Kara trails off with a sigh and Lena pauses, almost hearing the pout in her voice. “I wish he’d let me follow my own stories, you know?”

Lena hums in understanding. “Are you sure you’re okay with it though?” She asks, fiddling with her pen as she leans back against her seat, picturing Kara pacing the location where she waits for her source to retrieve the documents she had asked for. “I can always buy CatCo and fire Snapper for you.”

The joke serves its purpose of making Kara laugh. Lena smiles despite herself. “Okay, that was a good one,” the reporter chuckles, and the CEO has half the mind to actually buy CatCo under the guise of a media investment just so she could let Kara do what she wants.

“The offer is there if you change your mind,” Lena says, scrunching her nose as she smiles down at her pen, but her next words continue into an ungraceful sneeze that catches her in surprise, making her stare at the table in front of her. She follows it up with a sniff.

“Hold up,” she hears Kara say from over the phone. Lena opens her drawer to grab some tissues. “Did you just sneeze?”

“No,” Lena replies quickly.

Kara snorts. “Yeah, you did.” There is shuffling in the other line before she speaks again.  “Bless you. You’re not sick, are you?”

“What? No,” Lena says, and it sounds nasal even to her own ears, now that she takes notice of it. She glares at the bunch of tissues in her hand then blows her nose.

There is  more shuffling on the other line and Lena hears Kara say thank you, presumably to the source she had been speaking to. “You should go home,” she says, after a while.

Lena downright snorts. “I’m not going to let a simple sneeze—”

“You sound like you’re going down with the flu,” Kara shoots back, a frown audible in her voice, and it’s the way she says it that makes Lena pause, not the fact that she might be falling sick, when she hasn’t been sick since she was sixteen. “Sorry, I feel like I’ve been too self-absorbed lately to not realize—”

“You’re overreacting,” Lena insists. “It was one sneeze.”

“That’s how it starts!” Kara goes on, and she tells Lena about how Jess had mentioned her maybe overworking, how her blonde best friend had noticed it, too, but didn’t say anything because I honestly have no idea how to run a multi-billion company so you do you but she wasn’t going to let Lena, her entire company be damned, forgo taking care of herself.

Lena, for her part, still insists it was just a sneeze, even if she had already requested some flu medicine from Jess and had already downed a good pitcher or two of water.

“Lena,” Kara says again, with so much firmness this time that a shudder runs down the raven-haired woman’s spine. She wonders if it’s a chill brought about by her upcoming flu. “Don’t make me pick you up and carry you home,” the blonde says, voice adamant through the phone and Lena can already picture the determined expression on her face.

The threat of being carried home sounded enticing though, before Lena could really think about it, and when she realizes the train of thought she had just delved into she goes into a screeching halt.

“Fine,” Lena agrees, and she could almost see the relieved smile on Kara’s face as she smiles. She thanks the CEO before urging her to pack and go home, tells Lena that she’d try to come visit her as soon as she can before ending her call. The raven-haired woman thanks her too and dissolves into a sigh on her chair as soon as the line disconnects. Frowning at the wads of tissue on her desk, she stands and picks them up, dumping them to her trash bin before walking out to tell Jess that she’d have to take the rest of the day off.

It takes her at least two hours to actually be on her way home, distracted by emails and international phone calls. She gets scolded by both Jess and Kara before said way, and Frank smiles at her sympathetically when he helps her with her things despite her insistence that she isn’t incapacitated, just down with the flu.

Said flu is pretty much like discovering a wound that you didn’t know you have and feeling the sting full force. Or like Lena’s feelings for Kara: they have only gotten worse—worse? stronger? out of control?—since her acknowledgement of it, and it almost feels like some grand karmic retribution for making herself too busy to think about Kara—definitely not ignoring her, of course—that Lena laughs despite herself as she shuffles into her bedroom to collapse on her bed in a heap, only to dissolve into a coughing fit.

Shit. She’s never been sick.

Lena doesn’t realize she has fallen asleep until she wakes up later due to the insisted buzzing in her pocket. She stirs and fishes her phone out, blindly answering the call with a slurred hello? Kara answers with a sort of sound that’s a cross between relief and apology.

“Sorry!” She says in a whisper, and Lena burrows further into the warmth of her sheets. “It’s just, you didn’t text that you were home and I got a little worried.”

Lena smiles. “Yeah,” she says, then clears her throat. Still dressed in her business attire, she  turns to her side and pulls the sheets over her with a little sigh. “It seems like you were right, after all, because right now I feel like I’m dying.”

“Not a good joke, Lee,” Kara says with an audible pout.

Lena just chuckles tiredly. “Sorry. I might just sleep this off,” she replies.

Kara hums. “Have you eaten yet?” When Lena says no, the blonde clicks her tongue. “I can bring you some soup? It’s Eliza’s recipe, sure fire way to make you feel better, promise.”

Lena wonders if it’s the building fever making her brain cells stop working but she doesn’t remember anyone named Eliza that Kara has introduced so far. The idea of Kara coming over sounds nice, however, and the feeling of longing settles over her before jealousy could. “That sounds nice,” Lena mumbles.

She could almost hear the smile in Kara’s voice, and that in itself almost felt like cure. “Okay, but you’ll have to tell me where to find you.” A pause. “Considering your rich ass has like, more than one house.”

Lena chuckles and mutters shut up, darling in her sluggish voice and she distantly hopes the term of endearment was just in her head. Still, she carries on to tell Kara of her home address. Kara promises she’d be there soon, and Lena just hums and ends the call.

She realizes she has fallen asleep when she stirs awake from the sound of her doorbell and the vibration of her phone in her hand—didn’t even realize sleep could be so good . She grumbles under her breath and takes a moment to blink awake. Her eyes burn in a more awful way that they usually do from staring at her laptop for too long and her nose feels so stuffy she has to breathe from her mouth. It’s ironic and she chuckles—considering she’s one of the leads for medicine’s next great breakthrough, it’s too funny that here she is out sick—but she regrets it when she bursts into another bout of incessant coughing.

Padding to where the intercom is, Lena buzzes Kara in before heading back to her room to change into something more comfortable. She settles on the first thing she finds in her closet—a pair of charcoal gray satin pajamas—and she is halfway to buttoning the top when there is a knock on her door.

“Coming!” She calls out, voice hoarse, and though she has fully expected Kara, she still bites her lip and pauses on her way to the door when she hears her call back take your time!

Lena does, if only to calm herself down. She tells herself the shake in her hands is because of her flu and finds herself believable when she is greeted with Kara’s worried frown, concern etched in the corner of her ocean eyes.

“And you still went to work earlier today?” Kara says as a greeting. “You’re crazy.”

“I’m sick,” Lena shoots back weakly. “Don’t be mean to me.”

“Says the same person who insisted it was just one sneeze,” Kara chuckles. Lena lets her in. For her part, the blonde doesn’t look all too interested in taking in Lena’s other apartment; instead, she follows the raven-haired woman to the spacious kitchen where she puts down a paper bag that isn’t as massive as the usual ones she brings when they have take outs.

“Right, soup!” Kara announces as she opens the paper bag to take out ceramic bowl with a lid. She takes the lid off and Lena watches as steam rises from the bowl, hopes she could smell it because it looks good. “Sit down and eat,” Kara says, taking the initiative to walk around to look for a spoon. “Okay, this might not be as good as Eliza’s, but it’s close. I mean.  I tried. I promise it’s edible though!”

Lena obeys quietly and takes the offered spoon. “I probably don’t have functioning taste buds,” she says, and she scrunches her nose at the hot soup. “I can’t even smell it,” she pouts. She glances up at Kara for a moment before staring back down at the soup. Curiosity thaws at her. “Who’s Eliza, by the way?” She finally asks.

“At least you won’t taste it if it’s terrible,” Kara jokes. She shrugs at the question. “My adoptive mom. Thought I’ve mentioned that before.”

Lena looks up again at that, breathes out a sound of acknowledgement. Clearly her supposed jealousy would be out of place, weird, and she smiles to herself at the thought of Kara bringing her some family recipe of sorts before she could really stop herself. She forces herself to eat then; Kara watches her quietly as she does so. It’s a little awkward, Lena blowing on each spoonful and slurping the warm soup in silence, but Kara seems to feel it as well and she smiles before going off to ask Lena about how her little predicament came about before complimenting her apartment.

It’s easier, then, or at least a little, because Kara only has her to look at and Lena is fairly sure she blushes at the attention. She hopes the warmth on her cheeks could pass off as the fever.

It’s weird, too, how oddly freeing it is to have no escape from Kara—her other apartment had memories of her and their cuddle sessions, of Lena in the blonde’s arms, and now this apartment shall have memories of Kara too; her bland white walls  are now witness of the warmth of a sun like Kara, they now echo her laughter for days though Lena would always know how she feels and sounds like. It should be terrifying how now, every corner of this lonely apartment floor would remind her of Kara and the pointless feelings Lena had for her, but all she could think about is how less lonely everything else feels with Kara.

All she could really ask for was for Kara to stay.

“Are you going back to sleep now?” Kara asks as she washes up the bowl—after a lengthy argument with Lena about it. The raven-haired woman takes the flu medicine Kara had brought as well then shrugs. “Would you mind if I stay a bit?” The blonde continues, eyes on her task before lifting her gaze to meet Lena’s.

She agrees before she can even think about it.

Lena finds herself on the couch later, head against the back of the couch as she watches Kara finally take a look around. The blonde notes how different this apartment is to Lena’s beach-themed one.

“Reminds me of your office actually,” Kara says as she drags her fingers across the shelves that line one wall. “Which, of course, now makes me realize that you probably work here too.” She frowns at that.

The raven-haired woman just chuckles. “If it’s any consolation, I actually have a home office. So I don’t work here here, ” she says with a sniff and a grin.

Kara snorts. “Is that a business woman’s wit or just your fever-induced humor?” She chuckles. Before Lena could answer with another smartass retort, something takes Kara’s attention. “These are a lot of poetry books,” she notes, running her fingers through the spines of them.

Lena shrugs, smiles as she watches Kara peruse the bookshelf. She pulls out one that Lena had read a couple of times. “I had a phase,” she explains.

Kara just chuckles, looking up from the book as she opens it and flips through the pages. “Was that before or after your punk phase?”

“Punk phase?” Lena muses, shifting on the couch so she could cross her legs on it. She sniffles and rests her chin on her left hand, glancing curiously at Kara with a little smirk on her face. Or at least, what she hopes is a smirk and not a lovesick grin. “How did you know?”

Kara gestures to her ears with an amused smile. “The light beams through the large piercing holes on your earlobe.” She scrunches her nose though the grin is still firmly on her face, and her eyes sparkle with such mirth that Lena thinks she’s a little delirious now. “It’s terrifying sometimes.”

Lena blinks once before looking away and chuckling. Delirious. The image of Kara smiling at her like that burns behind her eyelids, like some bright light one still sees in the darkness of  her closed eyes, after looking too long.

“A little after,” she says, reaching up to brush her finger over the pierced holes on the shell of her ear. She smiles to herself. “I read them every once in while.”

“Some humanity to your science?” Kara says, a teasing lilt in her voice as she closes the book and returns it on the shelf.

Lena chuckles. “You can say that,” she says. She shifts to rest her chin on her right hand this time as Kara takes another book. “Art and science are the same in many ways, after all.

Kara just hums. “Do you, ah,” she pauses and lifts the book in her hand. “Would you like to read some for you?”

At the question, Lena blinks and looks up at the blonde. Kara seems to flush. She shrugs, and before she could take back her offer, Lena is smiling. “I’d love that,” she replies, because she would; she never really had anyone read to her, though there is some hazy memory of her mother—her real mother, when she was younger—and she doesn’t think having Jess read her schedule and emails for her when she’s too caught up with what she is doing counts.

Kara smiles at that, warm and bright all over again, and she takes the book with her to the couch. She sits on one side and pats her lap, looking expectantly at Lena. The raven-haired woman blushes—actually blushes, dear god, because her mind definitely just rolled down the gutter and Kara’s quick explanation of lay your head down did not help matters one bit. She obeys though, lies down with a small sound of effort what with her aching back. Nothing prepared her, however, from Kara’s soft hand on her hair as the blonde chuckles. Lena looks up to see Kara smiling down at her, fingers pushing aside the stray dark hair that trailed over her forehead and eyes.

“You okay?” She asks, voice soft like Lena is bound to break at any louder volume. Lena just nods wordlessly. Kara stares for a few more moments before lifting the book with her left hand. “Okay. Hm, so contemporary pieces…” She trails off, pauses to put down the book on the arm of the couch so she could turn the page before reading through them again, and Lena almost melts because the hand on her hair is still there, fingers tenderly running through her hair and scalp. All Lena could do is shut her eyes and listen as Kara flips through pages every few seconds until she seems to find something that pleased her. “This one seems nice, you got notes on the side.”

Lena could hear the way she smiles, and it warms her in ways not even the soup had. It reminds her of the peaceful lull of  the ocean waves on the beach. She goes on to read the poem that Lena has read through a couple of times—prose that explored imagery of the sea, and Lena bites back a smile. “Can you hear what I’ve longed to tell you,” Kara says, voice soft as song, “that I go where the waves wish to deliver me and you, my love, are the tide.”

It’s Kara’s voice and the soothing fingers in her hair that eases Lena to sleep.

//

Lena doesn’t quite remember how fever dreams go but she doesn’t think it’s like this— Kara smiling at her and cradling her face in her soft hands and running her hands so tenderly in her hair that Lena wants to cry. Kara sings I will wait for you in her dreams, and later Lena wakes to drowning in an ocean as blue as Kara’s eyes but she can breathe, breathe in all that Kara is and it’s warm, like the sun itself is shining on her.  She remembers some British TV show and the line echoes painfully through her hazy mind— you don’t expect the sunset to admire you back! —and she wakes up, again, to Kara staring at her. This Kara isn’t her Kara though; this Kara stares at Lena with such coldness and cruelty that her blue eyes were sharp as ice.

“Who can ever love you, Lena?” She says, before walking away. Lena wants to run after her but she can’t move, and all she could do is look beyond where Kara walks up to a faceless man, takes his hand then pulls him into a kiss, and Lena cries now, feels hot tears down her cheeks as Kara vanishes from sight, until all Lena could see is the space where she had been.

But then she feels something, too, something warm against the heat of her tear-tracked cheeks, and she hears Kara again— her Kara, this time, her Kara that sounds full of warmth and kindness and Lena feels like crying all over again out of sheer relief as her heroine sings her nightmares away.

//

Lena arrives at the shores of wakefulness, the voice of a siren lulling her back to almost sleep. She shifts and feels gentle fingers still running through her hair. She hums, catching an almost hushed tune that sang sinking like sand in your sea. Blinking away sleep from her eyes, she looks up to realize that she isn’t on the couch anymore. She is on her bed, and Kara is lying beside her.

“I’m in bed,” Lena notes dumbly. She feels heat in the back of her eyes, the itch in her throat, but they are insignificant compared to the relief of finding Kara, still here with her.

For now, her mind screams, and Lena swallows thickly.

Kara allays Lena’s fears with a smile that’s almost like a promise. “Someone came by and I decided to take you somewhere more comfortable,” she explains softly. “How do you feel?”

Lena sniffles. “I don’t know yet. I’m sorry I fell asleep though.” She licks her dry lips. Kara moves, and before Lena could beg for her to stay, the blonde is back in front of her after having reached for a bottle of water on the bedside table. Lena takes it with a murmur of thanks and sits up to drink. “Someone dropped by?”

“Yeah,” Kara explains, sitting up too. “I think it was your mom?” She says with a tilt of her head. She chuckles awkwardly. “I mean. She looked like Lillian Luthor from the papers, and she didn’t really introduced herself. Just stared at me, handed me a basket of fruits, then left.” She gestures to the said fruit basket on the dresser across the bed. “I didn’t want to wake you up.”

Lena blinks at Kara at her explanation and nods. She takes her phone from the bedside table as well and sure enough, there is an email from Lillian that reads I dropped by your office and Jess told me you were out sick. Get well soon. She bites her lip and replies with thank you, and thank you for the fruits.

The reply is quick.

That was Kara Danvers at your door, wasn’t it?

Lena sighs and says yes, and Lillian responds again within the next minute with nothing but rest well.

“Are you hungry?” Kara asks when Lena puts down her phone. “I could peel you some oranges or something.” She makes a move to get off the bed but Lena just shakes her head.

“You should head home,” she says in a hushed voice. A part of her screams for her to shut up but the more rational part of her knows she can’t keep Kara here. Besides, she is an adult capable of taking care of herself. Kara just frowns and shakes her head. “What about Krypto?” Lena asks.

“Alex is looking after him,” Kara replies easily. “With Maggie, I might add.”

Lena blinks owlishly at the blonde. “You’re staying?”

Kara doesn’t even miss a beat. “Of course.” She smiles in amusement. “Can’t very well leave my best friend to fend on her own, right? God knows you’d end up working despite your fever, and then what would happen?”

What would happen? She would probably go back to sleep and surrender to her nightmares, accept the fact that her feelings are in fact, hopeless—she can’t lose Kara, she just can’t , not when she had her like this, all smiles and close enough to touch and she isn’t dreaming —and she’d start trying to move on before the inevitable heartbreak even before it shatters her.

“That is a possibility, yes,” Lena says  instead, and Kara just playfully rolls her eyes, laughs in a way that enraptures Lena and she thinks that maybe, just maybe, the impending heartbreak would be worth it.

A hopeful part of her, however—a part long buried by rejection and disapproval from her mother, from the world, a part that slowly tries to unearth itself, heal itself back up—tells her that maybe, just maybe, the heartbreak wouldn’t come.

//

Lena falls asleep again and wakes up with the morning sun filtering through the curtains of her room, feeling much better. She shifts and blinks away the remnants of dreams only to realize that she is in someone’s arms—Kara’s, specifically, and Lena freezes. Did she pull Kara in her arms during the night? God. How embarrassing. She moves to pull away, only to wake Kara up, and Lena goes still once more as she watches Kara blink open her eyes. It’s slow, like watching the sun rise except it’s all blue and Lena could only stare.

“Hi,” Kara greets in a husk, and Lena swallows thickly. She only nods and bites her lip, hesitates to apologize, but Kara continues. “I’m sorry for imposing. You were shivering through the night and, well, uh, body heat and all…” Kara shrugs.

Lena blinks again and finally catches up with what Kara is saying. She pulled Lena in her arms, held her through the night. Lena’s heart pounds in her chest and she hopes Kara doesn’t hear it over her voice as she tells the blonde that it’s fine.

It’s more than fine, after all.

“Feel better?” Kara asks.

Lena sighs softly, as if she has conceded defeat. “Much,” she says, and they fall into a silence that isn’t awkward but rather warm, and without even asking, Kara pulls Lena back in her arms. She is reminded of their cuddle sessions, of Kara’s questions, of her own misgivings about hiring a cuddler until they have dissolved the line of professionalism between them and here they are now, just Lena and Kara.

She doesn’t ask when Kara plans on leaving because she doesn’t want her to. She hopes the reason Kara hasn’t mentioned leaving is because she doesn’t want to leave either. Instead, in the unhurried flow of their morning like they had nothing to worry about, Lena asks if Kara could sing for her again.

Kara only chuckles and apologizes for her morning voice, before she sings why are there so many songs about rainbows right in Lena’s ear.

//

It's how Lena realizes she is royally and utterly fucked.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Feel better?” Kara asks.

Lena sighs softly, as if she has conceded defeat. “Much,” she says, and they fall into a silence that isn’t awkward but rather warm, and without even asking, Kara pulls Lena back in her arms. She is reminded of their cuddle sessions, of Kara’s questions, of her own misgivings about hiring a cuddler until they have dissolved the line of professionalism between them and here they are now, just Lena and Kara.

She doesn’t ask when Kara plans on leaving because she doesn’t want her to. She hopes the reason Kara hasn’t mentioned leaving is because she doesn’t want to leave either. Instead, in the unhurried flow of their morning like they had nothing to worry about, Lena asks if Kara could sing for her again.

Kara only chuckles and apologizes for her morning voice, before she sings why are there so many songs about rainbows right in Lena’s ear.

//

It's how Lena realizes she is royally and utterly fucked.

//

Lena, thankfully, is back on her feet a mere three days after her body crashed with the flu. She attributes it to three things:

One, Eliza Danvers’ soup recipe that is, indeed, a miracle in a bowl. By the latter half of her second sick day, Lena was already able to taste it. Despite Kara telling her that she wasn’t much of a cook, Lena thought it was pretty good, and was more than content to eat it for three meals in a row, to the point of asking Kara what it’s made of. Kara only told her it’s a family secret and offered Lena a mysterious smile that did nothing but make Lena feel even warmer.

Two, Kara Danvers is the best nurse there is. She had stayed the morning after, easily skipping a work day despite Lena’s insistence that she could take care of herself—something no one has ever done before, and Lena had thought Kara was done with being many of her firsts—because the blonde claimed she didn’t have to go to work anyway, just had to send her drafts via email.

Lena didn’t really argue much about it, both because she was too groggy for an argument and because Kara’s company was very much welcome. She let herself have it, despite her qualms and the screaming voice in her head to not be clingy, because if Kara was deciding to stay, why would she stop her?

Because you’re fucked, her mind would scream, but she’s fucked either way, wasn’t she? She would rather buckle herself in for the ride and tend to her wounds when the worst has happened. But Kara’s voice and laughter easily drove those thoughts away, and Lena melts at the attention. Kara insisted on taking care of Lena, and it included cooking her meals (Eliza’s soup), reading poems to her that Lena was sure meant one thing but suddenly were about another when it was Kara who read them, letting Lena fall asleep on the couch with her head on her lap, gentle fingers running through her hair until the sick woman wakes.

And three, her almost second nature to prove her mother wrong.

When Kara had mentioned that her mother had dropped by the first night, it was almost reflex to not believe her until she had emailed Lillian and the older Luthor had confirmed that yes, she did drop by.

On the third day, after successfully sending Kara home, after Lena insisted she would never let herself get in the way of Kara’s personal life and that she had imposed on both Alex’s and Maggie’s lives, too, and possibly after Lena threatened to have Kara dragged out by the building security, the older Luthor had visited again. Lena had been ready to send off what she thought was Kara, but was surprised to see her mother on the other side of the door instead, looking every inch prim, proper, and dare Lena say it, worried.

“You haven’t responded to my email,” she said as a way of explanation, and Lena just answered with a sound of surprise before letting her in. Lillian seemed as surprised at the gesture.

“I was… recuperating,” she said softly, guiding her mother to the kitchen. Half of her was sure she was hallucinating or dreaming, but the older woman didn’t seem fazed as she placed the fruit basket she brought on the dinner table.

“I see,” Lillian replied softly, and there was a long stretch of silence until Lena asked for her to sit down and offered her a drink. To her surprise, it was Lillian who insisted she sit down and the older Luthor had struggled through guiding herself through the kitchen to serve herself and her daughter some water before she sliced some apples. Lena had watched with mild curiosity and burning disbelief, wondering yet again if she was dreaming, and it was only later when Lillian had left with her number on Lena’s phone and a promise to check up on her that the younger Luthor realized that no, she certainly wasn’t.

She told Kara of said visit that night, when she was over again, bringing her usual cheer and various containers of food that were of healthier choices that time around. Kara had blinked in disbelief, too, before exclaiming oh my god that’s good, right? and asking if Lena would text her. Lena had, before the night ended, while she was in Kara’s arms, the blonde humming and carding her fingers through dark hair.

This is Lena, she had texted, and the reply came quick.

It’s late. You won’t get better sooner if you don’t get sleep.

Lena had playfully rolled her eyes at it and Kara chuckled when she showed her the reply, teased guess you should prove her wrong then.

So on the third day, she rose again, feeling much better what with renewed strength in her veins and Kara’s arms around her. If anyone asked, it was this fresh bout of energy that had her rolling out of bed that morning—not the way her heart raced as she let moment upon moment pass by, with just her in Kara’s arms, and certainly not the crippling guilt and shame of feeling like she was taking advantage of her best friend.

Come the next work week, she has her meetings rescheduled and attended, much to Kara’s disapproval, though she did warn Lena that should she fall ill again because of overworking, she would tie her in bed to get well until she is finally in tip-top shape. Lena had snorted at the threat and Kara blushed, quite furiously, and only when the raven-haired woman realized the innuendo in her words did she react with the same flush on her cheeks.

//                     

A text message from Veronica arrives, one afternoon, just as Lena is walking out of a meeting she had just finished. Are you alive?, the text reads, and Lena rolls her eyes before replying.

What do you want?

Lena continues her walk to her office and manages to work on a few emails before Veronica’s next reply comes. I guess that’s a yes. Mags and I agreed that we’re shooting this Saturday afternoon.

Mags? Lena purses her lips, furrowing her eyebrows at her phone. Mags, huh? Are you friends now? She replies with amusement.

Veronica’s response comes more quickly this time. Don’t be jealous, Luthor, not my fault you’re emotionally stunted and can’t make friends, the first message reads—Lena is thankful she is used to Ronnie’s snark or she’d get offended—followed by Anyway, make sure to come because Kara will be there, and so will Diana.

Lena only replies with great, see you, because she is being summoned for another meeting, and she rolls her eyes at Veronica’s single letter reply but ignores it. Kara texts her during, but despite her itching need to read it, Lena does wait until her meeting is done.

So, my sister said we’re shooting this weekend, the message reads, followed by Can’t wait to see how badass you are again just please don’t shoot me :)

Lena chuckles fondly at the memory—Elektra is still cautious of Kara when she visits L-Corp, she was told—and replies on her way back to her office. As long as you don’t provoke me like last time.

Kara’s reply is quick, as always. I’ve learned my lesson, promise, it says, plus five or six emojis of monkey hiding its face. It makes Lena smile again.

She remembers how far their friendship had gone, how she has managed to go from a hesitant client to Kara to an actual best friend, despite the joke she knows lies in Veronica’s words about Lena’s emotional inadequacies and her lack of many friends. Lena’s smile drops a little at the reminder that all this—this lightness and freedom she feels with Kara and Kara alone, this hard-earned relationship despite the ease Kara has shown about it—could all be gone should she take the risk like Ronnie said and…

And, well, Lena can’t have that.

Her phone vibrates, making Lena jump in surprise, and she sighs as she looks down to see another message from Kara. Are you busy? her message asks. Lena bites her lip and replies with a no.

Kara’s response is Can I drop by with lunch? with a grinning emoji.

A part of Lena melts at the offer. It’s not difficult for a heart like hers to fall for a soul like Kara’s, especially when she is this kind and beautiful, and against all reasons her rational brain can come up with she agrees.

What could possibly happen over lunch, anyway?

//

“I missed Jess,” Kara laughs as she walks into Lena’s office. The CEO finishes the sentence she is typing on her laptop and looks up, only for her thought process to come to a screeching halt at the sight of her best friend. The blonde is wearing her usual dress shirt tucked in slacks, except this time she has a blazer on and her hair is loose and wavy over her shoulders. She looks so positively dashing that Lena is certain her heart skips a beat. “Hello,” she greets the woman, smile as warm as the sun and Lena feels like drowning in the best of ways.

Lena blinks owlishly at her and barely manages a smile. “And what about me?” She shoots back with a chuckle as she leans back against her chair, trying to compose herself. She swallows thickly. “Got a date tonight?” Lena wants to slap herself on the face at those words, but at least Kara didn’t seem to notice the CEO’s inner turmoil. Instead, the blonde looks down at her outfit and chuckles, walking to the couch across Lena’s desk.

“Of course I missed you too,” Kara beams, and if Lena’s breath catches in her chest she is glad Kara doesn’t notice as she shrugs. “If dates went as awful as that interview I just had, I would rather stab myself,” she says with a laugh as she sets a large paper bag on the coffee table. “If you aren’t done yet, I can wait.” She starts to take out food containers from the paper bag, one of which is from Auntie Cho’s but the rest are unlabeled. Lena takes her time and pretends to type but silently watches Kara in the corner of her eye for a few moments until she is sure she can stand without falling flat on her face.

“What do you have there?” Lena asks, walking to the couch to sit beside Kara.

The blonde grins. “Well. Potstickers, of course.” She points to the container that Lena takes, opening it so she could take one using chopsticks set to the side. Kara just chuckles at her. “And these are just a couple of dishes I managed to cook without burning my place down.” She takes what Lena realizes is a lunch box and opens it, then takes the other to do the same. “This is beef and pepper stir fry, and this is chicken and avocado salad.”

Lena drags her gaze from the prepared food to Kara. Her smile seems a little nervous, now that Lena realizes. “You cooked?”

Kara nods jerkily. “I mean, a little. The salad’s just tossing stuff around and the stir fry’s easy and, well, we can always go to Bella Italia should you not like them,” she says with a shrug.

“I highly doubt there’s a need,” Lena shoots back, taking the fork Kara offers. The blonde takes the chopsticks the CEO had used to put a potsticker in her mouth, just as Lena stabs a piece of chicken and avocado from the salad. “I meant what I said about you cooking Eliza’s soup just fine,” she explains before proceeding to eat. She hums in appreciation and smiles at Kara, who seems to be waiting for confirmation regarding the food. Lena tilts her head and takes a few moments to swallow her bite—it’s a little harder to eat, really, with dashing Kara looking at her like that. “It’s amazing,” she finally says.

Kara lets out a relieved sigh, before furrowing her eyebrows. “You’re not just saying that, right?” Lena quirks an eyebrow that has Kara chuckling. “Just making sure.”

“I promise it’s good,” Lena chuckles, taking a bite of the stir fry as well. “Really good,” she hums, and she tries to ignore the way her breathing hasn’t really seemed to return to normal quite yet, not with how Kara keeps throwing curious glances at her. Lena laughs lightly. “I promise. Stop staring like you’re trying to catch me spit it out,” she says with a playful bump of their shoulders.

Kara blushes lightly and squeaks, turns to stab a potsticker and shoving it in her mouth. “Just checking,” she mumbles.

Lena smiles and thanks her for the lunch, and they catch up about Kara’s interview, then any sort of matter that naturally came up during their conversation. It’s familiar and easy how such things go with Kara, and it’s one of the many reasons the blonde’s company is so welcome—considering Lena has been at the receiving end of painful small talk and horrifying, stilted discussions, Kara is a breath of fresh air every time.

If only she stopped taking Lena’s breath away now.

//

Kara leaves a little over an hour later with her paper bag of empty lunch boxes. She had insisted Lena didn’t need to pay, but at least the CEO had managed to make her agree that it’s her turn to treat Kara next time for lunch—home-cooked meals out of question—and Kara had smiled so brightly as she left with a promise to see Lena during the weekend for the “shooting thing” that Lena feels entirely too warm for the rest of the day, like the sun had remained on her skin.

The remainder of the week is a blur. They aren’t able to have lunch again, unfortunately, though Kara is still active in texting and occasionally calling, most of which involved photos and video clips of Krypto. Lena had been messaging Lillian, too, though now that she and Lena had caught up with life, their conversations are stuck on topics like how was your day? and you better not still  be working at home. It took a little getting used to, much like she had gotten used to Kara’s reminders, but Lena is glad, too, of how far she has come with Lillian.

By the time the weekend rolled in and Veronica texted to remind her of their plans, Lena had at least finished work enough for her to focus on her excitement for the day. Sue her; she hasn’t really had many friends, and all of her shooting sessions so far had been alone or with competition, so she is looking forward to it. There’s seeing Kara, too, and though there is a little apprehension over seeing Alex and Maggie again and a little protectiveness about meeting Diana, they are part of the reason as well.

Kara lets her know that she is on her way alone because Alex and Maggie had ditched her. Thankfully, Lena hasn’t left home then, and she offers to pick up Kara. The blonde agrees readily, though she is surprised when it’s Lena who greets her from the driver’s seat.

“It’s Frank’s day off,” Lena explains, but Kara just excitedly connects her phone to the car stereo. She blasts N’SYNC songs on the ride to the shooting range, and despite Lena’s lack of knowledge of said boyband, watching and hearing Kara sing—and try to dance to—their songs had been entertaining and, dare she say it, endearing.

Like her world grows smaller every day with Kara occupying every possible space there is, but instead of the panic Lena expects to overpower her feelings and her thoughts, there’s just lightness and warmth, like her heart doesn’t mind Kara setting up home right there.

//

“There they are!”

Lena quirks up an eyebrow as she walks in with Kara to the lobby of the shooting range. Everyone else seems to be there already—Alex, Maggie, Ronnie, and who Lena assumes is Diana.

“You’re miraculously early,” the CEO notes. Veronica just smirks.

“I told you. I’m always on time. You’re always early. Anyway.” She smiles and gestures to the tall brunette beside her, who smiles at them. “This is Diana, my girlfriend.” She pauses to grin at the woman and Lena has to control herself from demanding answers about who the fuck this person is and what she has done to Veronica Sinclair, because she certainly isn’t the Ronnie that Lena knows. “Diana, this is Lena and Kara.”

Diana raises an eyebrow and looks at Veronica for a moment before smiling and offering her hand for the two to shake. Lena smiles curiously but takes her hand anyway.

“Sorry,” Diana says with an apologetic chuckle. “It’s just that Ronnie has said a lot of things about you.”

Lena glances at Veronica at this before turning to Diana, who shakes Kara’s hand. “All good things, I hope?” Lena asks.

Diana just smiles. Kara, for her part, doesn’t seem fazed, looking every bit of an excited puppy meeting a new person.

“Certainly,” Diana tells Lena, accent and implication heavy on her word that the CEO narrows her eyes at Veronica. The woman just smirks.

Their conversation is cut short when a pair of range staff come in, carrying several briefcases. Veronica announces they can start as the staff hand Alex and Maggie three sets of briefcases and assisting them to the far end of the range. Their host hands Lena one, before getting her own, and she glances up at Kara for a moment.

“Are you going to shoot?” Veronica asks. The blonde just shakes her head.

“No. Just here to watch,” she clarifies.

“I’m sure,” Veronica drawls, then waves at Lena. “Go impress Kara here,” she says, and leaves before Lena could scowl at her. Kara just chuckles softly.

“So you’re that good, huh?” She teases. Lena shrugs as they shuffle to the nearest booth. She puts her briefcase on the desk and opens it. Kara whistles lowly as she eyes its contents, a 1911 pistol and a couple of magazines.

“I mean, I’ve done competitions,” Lena explains with a smile. Someone announces ear muffs on, bitches!, and before she could move to reach for hers, Kara is already slipping one over her head. Lena blinks up at the blonde, who just grins, then puts on her own safety earmuffs. Warmth settles on Lena’s cheeks and she hopes she isn’t blushing, but decides to focus on her task at hand, taking the gun from the case along with a magazine. A few moments later and shots are fired from nearby, echoing in the indoor range consecutively though the sound is muffled to her. Lena’s attention is on the gun in front of her, and she asks Kara to stand to the side before loading her magazine.

The blonde grins and mouths good luck. Lena just sighs, slides her goggles on, before testing the familiar weight of the pistol in her hand. She looks ahead. The target is several meters away, the red bull’s eye almost mocking her. She raises her arms, cocks the safety, and waits for silence to fall in the range before she shoots all seven rounds of her firearm. It lasts only for a moment, then she removing her empty magazine and lowering her gun back on the desk.

Lena turns to look at Kara as she slides her ear muffs off her head, only to find the blonde staring at her with a confused grin on her face that reminds Lena, yet again, of a puppy.

“What the heck was that!” Kara laughs, pulling her earmuffs around her neck as she gestures to the target board. Lena looks back at it again. The red bull’s eye was gone, replaced with a large hole, with a smaller bullet-sized one right beside it. The CEO frowns.

“My accuracy’s off,” she notes, mostly to herself, but Kara just laughs.

Now you’re just showing off.”

Lena shrugs, but there is a pleased smile on her face. Shooting had mostly started as a self-defense measure, but it has recently become an outlet alongside her martial arts training, and considering Lena Luthor does not half-ass anything, she has become pretty good at it. She takes the compliment though, but replies with a cheeky you haven’t seen anything, Miss Danvers.

Only then does she start to show off. She presses a button to the side of the booth that changes her target board as she readies two magazines on her desk. With another press of a button to the side, the target begins to move. Lena closes her eyes for a moment and lets out a slow breath, again waits for the silence in the range. Then she’s off, loading her magazine and shooting all rounds, quickly reloading and finishing the remaining shots in quick succession. She slams the second empty magazine on the desk and lowers the gun, too, before turning to Kara with a proud little grin.

All shots within the bull’s eye circle.

“Wow,” Kara breathes out as soon as Lena has her earmuffs off. “Suffice to say. I’m glad we’re friends because I’d hate to be your enemy.” She giggles. “You really are badass.”

Lena tries to ignore the ringing in her ears, not because of the echoing gunshots without her muffs on but because of the term friend. Which isn’t really surprising because that is what she is to Kara; she just didn’t quite expect the silent sting she felt right on her chest.

“Has there been any doubt?” She finally manages to say, and the sigh she lets out is definitely because of the effort of her previous task and not because of the sudden chaos she feels. She glares playfully when Kara snickers.

“You baby talk to Krypto,” the blonde points out.

Lena huffs. “Everyone does!”

“Nope, just you.” Kara giggles again in that endearing way that has Lena glancing down at her lips and—

“Can I try?” Kara says, blue eyes wide and bright on Lena’s, and the CEO makes a small sound before nodding and gesturing to the gun on the desk.

“Do you know how to shoot?” Lena asks as Kara takes the gun tentatively.

The blonde shrugs. “I mean, I am an FBI agent’s little sister so…”  

Lena chuckles. “Now who’s showing off?”

Kara just grins and puts on her earmuffs and goggles, then proceeds to load the pistol. Lena steps back and watches her shoot, taking her time, and when Kara laughs as she lowers her now-empty gun and removes her goggles, Lena discovers that not even the sun and the sea themselves could rival the warmth she feels with Kara.

God.

“Clearly not as badass as you,” the blonde says with a chuckle, and Lena has to remind herself that now isn’t the time nor the place to wallow in her thoughts and her growing panic. She glances instead to the target board. Kara missed the bull’s eye, but her shots are close enough to the middle. “Maybe you should teach me your ways,” Kara suggests with a grin.

“Load your gun,” Lena answers in a beat. Kara breathes out a little laugh but turns to grab the last magazine in the briefcase, then slots it into the pistol. When the raven-haired woman tells Kara to get ready to fire, she raises the gun in her hands. Lena presses the button to change the board and takes the moment to gather her breath, before standing behind Kara.

She is just teaching Kara to shoot better, that’s all. At least that is what she tells herself.  

“First off, you’ll want to fully extend your arms,” Lena starts. She slips her arms past Kara’s sides, under Kara’s, and feels the firm muscles of her limbs as she lifts them up a bit. Kara makes a humming noise of confirmation. Lena just licks her lips and tries to focus, yet again; she should be used to how Kara smells by now—sweet, like berries—but she still finds it distracting. “Okay, good,” Lena whispers. “Eye on your sight, aligned to your target.” Kara moves, and Lena only then realizes that she still has her hands on the woman’s arms. She pulls back a bit.

“Okay,” Kara says softly. “What next?”

Lena bites her lip. She hopes Kara doesn’t feel the way her heart pounds in her chest as she gingerly places her hands on her best friend’s hips. She tugs her closer to her front, swallows thickly as Kara presses against her. “You’d want to bend your hips,” she says, and it shouldn’t even be remotely unfamiliar considering they have cuddled before, with practically every inch of her body pressed against Kara’s, nor should it even be suggestive because she was teaching Kara, for god’s sake, but Lena feels like she is taking advantage of her best friend all over again.

“Please don’t fuck on my range,” someone drawls, and Lena, for once, thanks Veronica for being an inconsiderate asshole.

“I’ll put your earmuffs on so go ahead,” Lena finally says before stepping back. She carefully pulls up the safety muffs over Kara’s head and stands to the side. Kara glances to her with a smile—is that a blush?—before turning her attention to the target board. Lena glares at Veronica, who is standing nearby, and Lena realizes Diana, Alex, and Maggie are over to the side already. Lena just didn’t notice the silence in the range, until now.

Kara shoots all remaining rounds, successfully hitting the bull’s eye at least twice.

“Seems you can shoot, Kara,” Veronica notes when the blonde removes her earmuffs. “If you wanted Lena’s hands all over you—”

“Ronnie,” Diana calls from behind Veronica. She walks closer to them and gestures to Alex and Maggie, waiting by the hallway. “Albert said snacks and drinks are ready, so let’s go.”

Lena glances at Diana almost gratefully when Veronica just bobs her head for them to follow the rest of the group.

“In my defense,” Kara mumbles as they walk out of the shooting range and into the lounge Veronica had built for her guests. “I did appreciate the tips.”

The raven-haired woman gives her best friend a smile. Though she hopes the thundering in her ears are echoes of gunshots, she knows it’s her racing heartbeat. “Just keep them in mind next time.”

Kara nods and chuckles a little. “Ronnie’s a little intense, huh?” She says, scratching the corner of  her eyebrow.

Lena rolls her eyes at the reminder and glares at the back of Veronica’s head as she walks several steps in front of them, beside Diana. “She’s worse before. I don’t know why I even associate with her.” She hums. “Diana seems to have tamed her, however.”

“I bet,” the blonde muses. They walk in silence for a while, and before they arrive to the lounge, Kara speaks again. “Can I ask you something?”

Lena turns to her with an amused glance. “You don’t even have to ask me if you could ask something,” she chuckles.

“Oh. I know. Just.” Kara shrugs. Ahead of them, in the lounge, Lena sees Maggie, seemingly already opening a bottle of beer. “I was wondering if you were free this Friday,” the blonde continues.

Lena practically whips her head to Kara at those words. It doesn’t help that Kara is biting her lip in a nervous gesture and there is the thundering in Lena’s chest again, and she feels like she can’t breathe.

“Depends,” Lena manages to say without her voice breaking. “For what?”

Kara opens the door to the lounge, letting Lena go ahead first. Alex is looking at them as they walk in to join their group. The blonde just shrugs. “It’s, uh, just some get together with my friends,” Kara explains.

Oh.

Lena doesn’t really know what she expected, and she feels foolish for even daring to think that there are other reasons Kara would ask if she was free, but Lena drowns in an ocean as blue as Kara’s eyes and there is cotton in her throat. Kara looks at her expectantly though, then Veronica is telling her to sit down, and Lena reminds herself that this isn’t the time nor the place to wallow in her thoughts and the brewing ache in her chest.

“Your apartment?” Lena finally asks. Kara nods distractedly as she accepts a can of soda from Alex. Lena just smiles and nods. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Chapter Text

 

If someone told a younger Lena Luthor that she would be having a conversation  with her mother that isn’t about her latest terrible decisions over an albeit awkward lunch, she would have laughed in their face but internally would have been hopeful. Such conversation was one of the things Lena had craved for as a daughter. And ever since she had reconnected with Lillian, the thought of it has presented itself yet again, though Lena hasn’t really imagined how it would go.

She did not imagine it to go the way it did, with Lillian dropping by her office before lunch that Monday with a vase of plumerias then inviting her for lunch. Lena had barely a moment to react, but Lillian had even said please, at which point Lena had agreed. They were taking baby steps but this was a big leap, and it would’ve been funny if she wasn’t in the situation.

Later found them drinking wine and eating Bella Italia’s house specials. Lena was glad that Lillian took the reins of the conversation because Lena didn’t quite know what she herself would talk about, until Lillian casually mentioned moving in to her new  place at the outskirts of the city and subsequently meeting Cat Grant and her son.

“You moved in to National City,” Lena echoed with a disbelieving look. “Why?”

Lillian had paused and shrugged as she took a sip of her wine. “You’re all I have left, Lena,” she had said in a voice much softer than Lena had ever heard before, “I just want to work on being a family again.”

Lena didn’t have anything to say to that. Her mother didn’t seem to mind; she had called for the waiter and asked for recommendations for another dish, and Lena had returned to her short answers and quiet nods, if only out of shock. The rest of lunch was awkward at best, and when they parted, they did so with a hug that Lillian initiated and a soft I’ll see you soon that left Lena a little more than perplexed.

At the same time, she was left with a feeling like she had just received some great news she couldn’t fully process yet. She returned to work on autopilot, the past hour playing back in her mind, and it was only when Jess asked if she was okay and ready for her meeting that Lena realized that—

That yes, she was okay. For the first time in a long while, everything was actually okay.

A part of her questions this newfound sense of contentment because these kinds of things only happen when some sort of shit is about to go down, but when the chaos in her mind has settled and she thinks back to her stilted conversations with her mother, the emails, the visits when she was sick, and then their lunch?

She thinks it’s okay if she lets herself have this for a while.

Lena tells Kara of her lunch with her mother. The blonde has been nothing but supportive and happy for them, even so much as calms down Lena’s apprehension about everything, and quite frankly, Lena doesn’t think she would ever get to this tentative relationship with her mother without Kara.

Kara.

Her circling thoughts of the woman makes Lena sigh. There are still butterflies in her belly that die off with despair every time she remembers that Kara asked her out—except she didn’t, she only invited Lena for a night with her friends, much like the girls’ night they had one time. Was it so bad to want Kara to ask her out properly though?

It was sad.

Well. She realizes that since she was practically in love with her best friend, she could just ask Kara out properly, right?

Wrong, her mind screams. There are certain risks to that foolish idea and consequences Lena doesn’t even want to think about. As enticing as the possibility of being able to hold Kara like she is a lover and not just a best friend is, Lena can’t live with the other likely outcome—of Kara rejecting her, then, bless her kind heart, still try to be friends with Lena though the woman knows they would eventually grow apart.

So she tells herself to be content of what she has, despite the ache in her chest and the hole that seems to have been chipping away inside her. It reminds her of leaving Jack, somewhat, and the thought of it is what tides her over—she has been through that misery, albeit briefly, and the hole in her heart has learned to fill itself up over the months.

Except Lena doesn’t quite know how differently things would go this time because the source of her love and heartache will be ever-present.

Lena realizes then how truly and utterly unlucky she is to suffer on the hands of her greatest comfort, without Kara, the source of such reprieve, ever even knowing. With or without a sun like Kara everything burns, and Lena is left to deal with the circumstances either way.

Maybe it’s a give and take—she finally gets a taste of motherly love and she has to drown in the heartache of romance.

The rest of Lena’s week is busy enough that she at least doesn’t lament much about her predicament. She texts her mother here and there, just asking how she is settling in. Lillian requests for another brunch the coming week that Lena schedules herself without much thought. The CEO has meetings for the Biomax roll out with Wayne Enterprises that has her leaving for Gotham in the middle of the week. Kara keeps her company by sending her photos of Krypto the whole time—it’s amazing how big he has gotten, and Lena wonders if he just grew too fast or if time passed by too quickly—all of which Lena saves in her phone.

It’s odd to feel homesick again, for the first time in a long time, and when she realizes the reason, she orders a whole bottle of wine to her hotel room and distracts herself with a coding binge that runs off until the late morning.

At least she has a productive outlet, she thinks.

By the time Friday rolls in, Lena is partly exhausted by work and eager to get the night over with. Her… predicament aside, she is excited to meet the rest of Kara’s friends. Alex and Maggie were lovely company, despite them somehow reminding Lena of Veronica’s unrelenting sarcasm and snide. Winn had been nice to her, perhaps due to him being a fan of her work. James had been kind too, and she hopes that is telling of his girlfriend.

Kara tells her she can drop off anytime after work; unsure exactly what time that is but also self-conscious enough to ask for an actual time, Lena gets out of work by six then buys two bottles of wine to bring before coming over. She forgoes changing from her office outfit—a maroon sleeveless blouse tucked into dark red slacks worn under a dark charcoal coat—and heads to Kara’s apartment, telling Frank she will be taking a cab back home.

She heads to Kara’s apartment and knocks on the door. There is a bark from the other side that makes her smile, and a moment later, she is greeted with Kara grinning like she has heard the best news of her life and Krypto skipping around her feet.

“Hi!” Kara greets, opening the door wider to let Lena in.

Lena walks in with a soft hi, only to bite her lip when she realizes everyone else is already around the dining table, playing some sort of card game. Everyone greets her with a yell of hey! and hi Lena, along with an enthusiastic wave from Winn that Lena mirrors with a little confusion.

“Am I late?” Lena asks with furrowed as she hands Kara the wine bottles, takrs off her coat, and picks up Krypto in her arms.

“You didn’t have to,” Kara replies as she takes them. “And no, you’re fine, these idiots just came early to raid my fridge.”

“Hey, I brought cake!” Alex defends with a scowl. Lena follows Kara as the blonde laughs and puts the wine on the counter, then offers Lena a glass of an already opened red. Lena kisses the top of Krypto’s head and lowers him back to the floor where he barks and dashes around the kitchen table.

“You can eat if you're hungry,” Kara tells Lena. “There’s more than enough food around. By the way! This is Lucy,” she says, gesturing to a woman with short hair. “Lawyer extraordinaire,” Kara says proudly before beaming at Lena. “This is Lena Luthor. You know her.”

The woman offers a hand that Lena shakes. “Read and heard a lot about you,” Lucy says.

Lena chuckles nervously. “I can only hope they’re good things,” she murmurs.

Lucy smiles. “Of course,” she says simply, as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. She doesn’t notice Lena’s disbelief at her almost dismissive yet positive answer as Maggie calls for her turn to lower cards. Lena just blinks; Kara is beside her after a moment, offering Lena a plate of what she thinks is carbonara.

“This is the best carbonara ever, don’t tell Anton,” she giggles. Lena accepts it with a thank you and stands beside Lucy, who is frowning at her cards. Kara rejoins their game as Lena takes the moment to quietly observe everyone; they seem to be serious in their card game, though Lena doesn’t see any stack of money on the table. In fact, it seems their cards are on the very edge of the table, their deck between a bowl of what looks like mashed potatoes and a plate of potstickers. The table is filled with food. Kara wasn’t joking when she said there was more than enough to go around—there is pasta, pizza, potstickers, some blocks of cheese, and wine. There is the cake that Alex had mentioned she brought, too, and when Lena looks at it, she almost drops her plate.

She whips her attention to Kara, hand pointing her fork at her in accusation. “It’s your birthday?” Lena hisses without meaning to. It makes everyone else look at her, and Kara turns to her with an expression that is half a grimace and half an apologetic smile.

“You didn’t tell her?” James laughs over Alex’s whispered oooh you’re fucked.

“You didn’t know?” Winn asks Lena.

Lena frowns at that. No, she didn’t know it was Kara’s birthday. She never actually knew when Kara’s birthday was, never really thought to ask it, and a feeling of guilt washes over her.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Kara offers as a sort of explanation. A frown settles on her lips. “Besides, it isn’t until tomorrow, but we- Alex and I, we’re going to Midvale, so I just thought—it isn’t a big deal, Lena, it’s just a normal day, Alex insisted we celebrate—”

“Don’t drag me into this, Kara,” Alex warns.

“I’m just saying,” Kara huffs. Lena sighs, reaches out to put a hand on Kara’s arm, and offers her a smile.

“Sorry, I— you don’t have to explain,” she says, voice softer now. Maybe she shouldn’t have snapped. “It’s fine, I just- Sorry, I would’ve brought something else—”

“Hey,” Kara insists, putting a hand over Lena’s on her arm. Lena snaps her attention to it; the touch is warm and comforting, and for a moment Lena is distracted. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, it really isn’t a big deal to me.”

Lena nods at that. “I just feel bad I didn’t actually know when your birthday is and I’ve prepared nothing for it.”

“That’s exactly why I didn’t tell you when I asked you to come over,” Kara mumbles. “As long as you’re here is fine.”

Lena blinks owlishly at that, then ducks as she bursts into soft laughter if only to hide the butterflies she feels that manifest themselves as a blush on pale cheeks. “Okay, fine,” she relents,  pulls her hand away to curl it into a fist, holding on to Kara’s fleeting warmth in her palm.  

The blonde grins and stares at Lena for a moment, as if making sure she really is fine, and their moment ends when Maggie coughs something that suspiciously sounds like gay drama but Lena ignores it. Kara turns back to their game. The raven-haired woman takes her plate of pasta again and watches the group play, but her mind is off somewhere.

Specifically, already plotting about what to do about Kara’s birthday that she didn’t really know about until now. She thinks of things she can buy as a gift—gifts, perhaps?—for Kara as the group finishes their game. Winn insists they light up some candles for the cake and asks Kara to make a wish, which the blonde does with a light blush on her cheeks. She also thanks everyone, and when she mentions Lena—I know how busy you are, Kara says—Alex smirks over at the raven-haired woman as she hands her a new glass of wine.

“To Kara,” Alex announces then lifts her glass up for a toast. Everyone echoes her sentiment and clinks their glasses.  They decide to have proper dinner then, seating themselves around the table to put a dent on the amount of food served. Conversation starts smoothly, thankfully enough; it’s Winn who starts with a question about how L-Corp is doing and joking if Lena had any openings at their tech department, and it dissolves into fun and funny stories about Kara, much to the celebrant’s chagrin.

“It’s my birthday,” Kara whines. “You shouldn’t be making fun of me like this.”

Lena giggles at that and finds herself winking over at Kara, before going on to the story where she almost punched Lena in an elevator.

//

After dinner, they decide to play some games, first of which was Trivial Pursuit as voted by the birthday girl. Alex and Maggie demanded they play by pairs so they do. Lucy pairs with James and Winn calls dibs on Lena—sorry Kara, please—so Kara opts to be the game master, reading off questions while Krypto dozes on her lap.

Lena and Winn easily dominate the game. Kara reads questions for them with much amusement, and Lena barely blinks before answering them correctly. When she answers the question for their victory, Alex throws a wedge in her direction and mumbles this is unfair.

Lena just shrugs. “I did not choose this game,” she says with a smirk.

“Yeah, don’t be a sore loser, Alex,” Winn says with a laugh that instantly dies when the older Danvers sends him a glare.

“Let’s play something else?” Lucy suggests. “How about charades?”

“Yes,” Kara agrees. “But I get to pair with Lena this time.”

Winn whines, but Alex just glares at him again. Maggie brings up an adult twist for the game (“nothing sexual, Kara, sheesh”): when a pair gets a correct answer, all opponents (“yes, you too, Winn”) should take a gulp of their beers or wines ("I mean, that or shots, but I feel like only Alex and I are going to survive that," to which Lena snorts). Everyone agrees except Winn (“I’m going to be dead at the end of tonight if I agree to that, guys”) so Maggie gives him a glass of orange juice instead (“so you don’t feel left out, bud”).  Lucy volunteers her phone—she has an app, apparently—and with the couples, Kara and Lena as teams, and Winn as the timer, they set off into another game.

The couples are understandably in sync, which tickles Lena’s competitive side, and when it’s their turn she asks Kara to act out the words.

When their one minute is up, Lena has managed to score three more than Alex and Maggie and five more than Lucy and James. It prompts Lena and Kara’s victory, with the blonde sweeping Lena in a hug that the CEO eagerly reciprocates, and Maggie throwing a bottle cap just above their heads.

“Is there any game you suck at?” Alex huffs.

Lena laughs, reluctantly pulling away from Kara and taking her seat  back on the couch. Kara grins and settles on the floor in front of her, back against the couch, letting Krypto curl up on her lap again then handing Lena her glass of wine. Lena accepts it with a thank you.

“Funnily enough, Monopoly,” Lena answers.

Alex nods sagely. James walks away, only to return with the board game in hand. Kara bursts out into giggles. Krypto lifts his head from Kara’s lap and woofs softly.

“Time to kick your ass, little Luthor,” Maggie says, rolling her shirt sleeves up her shoulders. She high fives Alex.

Lena just stares at them. “Seriously?” When no one answers her, everyone just quietly setting up the board game on the coffee table, she chuckles in amusement. “Wow. You guys are terrible,” she jokes.

Alex just laughs. “Welcome to the family.”

It was supposed to be a snide remark, perhaps, or maybe even an insult, but it catches Lena off-guard; she stares at Alex with wide eyes even as the older Danvers yells dibs and grabs the silver handgun token from the bunch.

“Hey,” Kara calls out softly from where she sits on the floor. She puts a hand on Lena’s knee, warm through the material of her slacks, and when Lena meets her gaze her eyes are ever so soft and god, a stupid board game shouldn’t even make her feel like this. It wasn’t even her birthday, and yet here she is, cotton in her throat and butterflies in her stomach, and Lena never quite thought family and home would be like this—halfway to being tipsy with a bunch of people she barely knows, fighting over the hat and the cat tokens, her best friend looking worriedly at her as her puppy climbs on the couch to settle on Lena’s lap instead.

“I can play on your behalf if you’re afraid of losing your winning streak,” Kara offers with a teasing smile that makes Lena roll her eyes playfully.

“I’m a businesswoman, Kara,” Lena laughs. “I’m sure I can manage just fine.”

Kara giggles. “You’re on.” She seems to finally realize Krypto had left her lap for Lena’s, and she gasps as she narrows her eyes on the canine. “Traitor.”

“Alright, you fuckers,” Maggie announces. “Roll the dice so we know who goes first.”

Lena gets to roll first since she won the last two games, Maggie explains. She goes last anyway and goes bankrupt first, much to Alex’s and Maggie’s delight, but Lena feels far too at home to feel competitive or even care. Especially when Kara promises to win for her with that same softness in her eyes and the bright smile on her face, like she is the sun herself warming Lena, though she doesn’t quite remember if the sun and the sea had comforted her like this before. She watches everyone play and joins in on the conversation that happens between curses, pleas, and threats of bodily harm. Lena is more than content to be an observer, her lap warm with Krypto’s weight and fingers carding through Kara’s soft hair.

Kara goes bankrupt, too, and Lena easily dismisses her apology  with a laugh.

“I’m glad you’re here though,” Kara says as she joins Lena on the couch. The raven-haired woman smiles at her, finds herself leaning her head against Kara’s shoulder. Kara just wraps an arm around her shoulder, causing the butterflies in Lena’s belly to return with full force.

She reminds herself to be content of what she has, to be content of this, despite the ache in her chest and the hole that seems to grow bigger the closer she gets to Kara. Sure, she lucked out on meeting the blonde, but fate doesn’t seem to be on her side; why else is she left to suffer in the arms of her greatest comfort?

A familiar chirping of birds echoes through the apartment; an alarm from someone’s phone—Kara’s, Lena realizes, the same one she uses to time their sessions way back when—and Alex is the first to jump off the floor and right onto Kara’s side, greeting her a happy birthday, sis! Everyone else follows her, but Kara’s arm remains around Lena’s shoulder and Lena tries not to think too much about it, just greets her best friend the happiest birthday and hugs her.

If the way she holds Kara feels more like yearning than joy, she hopes it isn’t too obvious. Kara mumbles thank you, Lena against her ear, a whisper that makes Lena feel far too much all over again.

“Anytime, Kara,” she whispers back. “Anything.”  

//

Around past one, with laughter on everyone's lips and intoxication in their veins, Lucy and James bid their goodnights as the lawyer still had a consultation come morning. Kara reminds them to take care. Maggie and Alex get ready to leave, too, and when Winn mentions he plans on staying, Alex mutters what Lena thinks is oh no you aren't before dragging him by the collar and announcing we're sharing the cab fare together, Winslow. They wish Kara a happy birthday again and hug her tightly before leaving, even if Alex says she'll see her sister in the morning.

Kara waves at them until they round the hallway. When they're gone, the blonde turns to Lena with a sad smile. "Are you leaving now, too?"

Lena tilts her head. "Are you kicking me out?"

At that, Kara shakes her head and her smile turns fond. "I really am sorry I forgot to tell you though."

Lena shrugs and heads back to the couch. Krypto is asleep on one corner of it. “Hush and let me sulk about it. I don’t have many friends to celebrate birthdays with, after all."

Kara follows her. "Really?" She mumbles with furrowed eyebrows. Lena just shrugs; it wasn't a big deal to her, either. She celebrates birthdays, of course—employees and acquaintances when they throw parties, but not the way Kara had just celebrated. The farthest extent of her birthday celebration with a friend was when she bought Veronica a bottle of a rather expensive wine then shared it with her over a business conversation.

It sounds sad now that she thinks about it.

If Kara thinks the same, she doesn't say anything, instead she stands in front of Lena and offers her hand. Lena blinks at it.

"I'm a little sleepy and maybe tipsy so… Bed?" Kara offers shyly. "Unless you're leaving soon."

Lena immediately shakes her head at that. She gingerly takes Kara's hand as the blonde beams and tugs her to the direction of the bedroom. “Maggie’s birthday is coming up so you can go buy her a gun or something,” Kara says with a yawn. She practically rolls on the bed. Lena chuckles; maybe the last glass of wine Kara had was a bad idea. Lena can't remember who handed it to her. "Her birthday parties are the worst for your liver, I swear," she mumbles as she closes her eyes and opens her arms.

Lena blinks a couple of times at Kara at that. The blonde opens one eye and grins sheepishly at Lena. "Sorry, I—"

"Let's pretend I gave you vouchers for free cuddles?" Lena offers jokingly.

Kara giggles at that. "Oh, you're the cuddler now?" She shoots back.

Lena laughs lightly despite the pounding in her chest. She tries her best to calm herself down before crawling on the bed and into Kara's arms. "I think we've established since day one that I'm always the little spoon."

"Yeah, because you're pint-sized," Kara mumbles against Lena's temple as she pulls her closer against her, Lena's back against her front. Her voice is tinted with sleep, and that is how Lena rationalizes and tries to dampen the rush in her chest, the inexplicable lightness she feels—because she knows it's all downhill from here now, and if she lets herself sink further into Kara's warmth more than she already has, there's no climbing back up. "You fit perfectly in my arms, see?"

Fuck.

"Is that so bad?" Lena whispers, mostly to herself.

Kara yawns and hums, pulls Lena much closer. "No. No, it's perfect."

//

"—wakey, eggs and ba—oh."

Lena blinks away the remnants of sleep. She still feels like dreaming of the ocean drowning her in the deepest of blues, but when she opens her eyes, all she sees is blonde hair and soft skin. She realizes she's in Kara's arms. The blonde is still sleeping. When Lena turns to the source of the voice, she finds Alex standing by the foot of the bed, staring at them.

"Why are you wearing clothes?" Alex asks, before she seems to realize what she said. With wide eyes, she gestures behind her. "Uh, right, I'll get our stuff ready, can you wake Kara up?"

She doesn't wait for Lena's answer, just quickly leaves. Lena furrows her eyebrows at her retreating form—she is still too groggy to understand what just happened—before focusing on Kara. The blonde looks peaceful; she snores lightly, too, making Lena chuckle softly. She notices the smattering of freckles over her cheeks and the bridge of her nose again, under the glasses she has forgotten to remove, stars the color of sand that bare themselves against the sky that is Kara’s skin.

How does one explain the feeling of something so close yet so unattainable at the same time?

She sighs heavily and pushes away her thoughts to gently shake Kara awake. Lena finds herself smiling as bright blue eyes flutter open, like the ocean itself greets her good morning, and Lena feels an almost painful urge to just pull her into a kiss.

"Good morning, Kara," Lena whispers at her. "Happy birthday."

Kara blinks a few more times, her lips slowly curling into the sweetest of smiles. "Happy birthday indeed," she mumbles, then yawns. "What time is it?"

Lena shrugs. "I don't know, but your sister is here getting your stuff ready."

The blonde puffs her cheeks. "Oh. Alright." She doesn't move though, takes a few more moments before she is finally pulling away from Lena and rolling out of bed. "We're going to head to Midvale soon. We can drop you off at your apartment," she offers.

Lena smiles at that and shakes her head. As much as she wants to, she didn't want to impose. She needs a moment to breathe, too, away from the air that smells faintly of Kara. "I'll have Frank pick me up."

Kara bites her lip at that. "Are you sure?" She asks after a moment.

Lena isn't, but she nods anyway.

//

When Lena is back at her apartment, the first thing she does is text Kara that she has arrived home safely. Kara's reply is quick—Alex is driving, we're an hour and a half away along with a picture of Krypto with his head out of the car window. Lena wishes them a safe trip, then goes on to call Veronica to ask about the penguins she once mentioned casually some time ago.

Veronica answers on the second attempt with a little groan. "It's a Saturday."

"Ronnie, it's ten in the morning," Lena points out.

"Yes," Veronica drawls. "On a fucking Saturday."

"I'll be quick," Lena sighs. "The penguins at the zoo—"

“You woke me up for that?" Veronica practically whines. "Use Google, Jesus. I just donated, Lena, what the ever loving fuck do you even want with them?”

Lena purses her lips. Yes, she can Google that indeed. Her genius mind just blanks out when she's in panic. “You are useless to me,” she quips anyway.

“Kiss my lesbian ass," Veronica drawls, then ends the call. Lena rolls her eyes at her phone, sends a middle finger emoji to Ronnie, then opens a browser to open up the zoo website. It details the penguin exhibit and lists down the contact details for tours and inquiries. Calls accepted Monday to Friday, the website says.

Lena sighs. She really detests using the "I'm rich" card, but desperate times call for desperate measures. With a few calls to connections she has, she secures not just slots for a tour come Monday, but has rented out the penguin exhibit for the afternoon.

That wasn't too much, was it? She just wants Kara to enjoy the exhibit. She had read of long queue times, and she simply cannot subject her birthday girl to that.

Yes. Everything's fine.

Now she just has to ask Kara.

Oh fuck.

//

It's Sunday, and Lena hasn't asked Kara yet. It isn't because she's utterly petrified, she tells herself, it's just that she's letting the blonde enjoy her birthday with her family. She doesn't want to impose, after all, though Kara had sent selfies of her, of her and Krypto, of her and Alex, and of her and Eliza—finally a face to the name soup goddess in her head—through the day. Lena had reacted accordingly, just hasn't brought up the whole penguin exhibit visit.

It isn't a date. Just a birthday celebration. At least that's what the rational part of her brain thinks; a part of her is panicking about it though, because what if Kara thinks it's a date and then everything just goes further downhill from there?

The draft for the message sits on her phone. Hey Kara, if you're free this Monday afternoon after work, maybe you want to come to the zoo with me? For a post-birthday celebration if you're available. It's perfect, Lena thinks. She has read and re-read and typed and re-typed it, but just can't bring herself to send it, for obvious reasons.

She chooses to work instead. A few emails here, a proposal read there, and by mid-afternoon, she checks her phone again as she wills for the courage to press the damn send button. She pushes her phone away with a huff and continues working.

When her phone vibrates with a text from Kara, Lena checks it absentmindedly. She feels like her soul left her body when she reads the reply but she lets her body sag with relief.

LENA OMG OMG IS IT THE PENGUINS??????

//

They agree to meet up at the zoo. Lena has offered to pick Kara up—belatedly realizing that sounds like something someone in a date date would do, and Lena has to remind herself that it isn't a date, but thankfully Kara declines, saying she'll be coming from an interview across town.

It isn't a date date, even if Kara did suggest getting pizza after, but every time she thinks it isn't she gets a little more paranoid and goes to great lengths not to mess things up: she dresses in a simple black dress and heels she wears for work, pairs it with a maroon coat that screams casual. She waits at the zoo entrance at their agreed time, and when Kara arrives, she does so with so much happiness she glows, bright like the sun itself, and pulls Lena in such an excited hug the CEO can't help but melt in her arms.

"I've always wanted to go!" Kara exclaims. "I'm so glad we're gonna go together, come on."

Lena lets Kara lead the way. The crowd grows smaller as they reach the penguin exhibit but Kara doesn't seem to notice until they arrive at the glass enclosure. Kara gasps and yells Lena! and points excitedly at the black and white birds waddling across the ice. "Oh my god, look at them, Lena!" She cries out. "They're so cute and adorable, oh my god!"

They are cute, Lena admits, but she can't quite really tear her attention away from how endearing Kara is.

"You can pet them," Lena suggests. Kara almost has a whiplash with how fast she turns to Lena.

"I can?"

Lena nods and gestures ahead of them. "There's a petting deck over there, and—"

"Come on!" Kara  says, taking Lena's hand in hers and tugging her to the direction of the mentioned petting deck. Only then does Kara seems to realize that the area was practically empty. "You'd think these cute little fellas would be more popular," she notes.

"Oh, they are very popular," Lena mindlessly comments. Distracted by a penguin that slipped on top of another, she bumps into something. She looks ahead and finds Kara staring at her. "What?"

"Did you- oh my god- you didn't—" Kara gapes. "Did you rent the whole place?"

Lena blinks slowly and shrugs. "I wanted you to enjoy it." She waves at the glass. "I mean look at them. It's just one hour." Her breath is knocked out of her lungs when Kara pulls her into another tight hug.

"You're my favorite," Kara sighs against her.

Yes, Lena thinks. There isn't a climbing back up from where she has fallen.

"Happy birthday," she says instead. "Now come on, your little waddling friends are waiting. Have I mentioned you can feed them, too?"

Kara pulls back only to beam at Lena.

//

Lena discovers there isn't anything quite like watching Kara Danvers squeal and giggle over penguins. She's happiness personified, Lena thinks, and though she has been to several of the world's most beautiful places, there is nothing more beautiful than Kara smiling at Lena like she created penguins herself, nothing sweeter than the way Kara says her name every time she sees a penguin do something remotely adorable. 

So no, Lena doesn't think there isn't a climbing back up from where she has fallen. She just hope it doesn't hurt too much to stay where she is.

They leave for a bit to buy something to eat, then return with half an hour left of Lena's reservation to spare. They eat on a bench while watching the penguins. Kara talks about them and laughs when they so much as slide down the ice, or dive into the water.

“That penguin looks like it could be named Chandler,” Kara points out with a giggle.

Lena points to another penguin. “That one looks like a Monica.” Kara laughs and Lena grins at her. “What? I do consume popular media.”

They watch a pair of penguin stumble close to the glass. Kara excitedly gets up to sit on her haunches against it, waving at the couple. Lena watches her fondly. There is the lightness in her chest again, warmth inside of her only Kara ever seems to coax out, and when the blonde turns to her with a grin, Lena only smiles.

Kara stares at her for a moment, then sighs. A far too heavy sigh compared to all the laughter she has showered Lena with.

“You okay, Kara?” Lena asks worriedly.

“Can I ask you something?”

Lena chuckles. “You know you don’t have to ask for permission to do that.”

“I know, I know, it’s just…” Kara stands and puffs her cheeks. She fiddles with her glasses, too, and Lena waits patiently, curious.

“I’m not going to bite, you know,” Lena chuckles. “Is it a penguin trivia? Ask away. I think I've read a bit about them.”

Kara bites her lip, looks up at Lena again above the rim of her glasses. Lena meets her gaze and finds that she can’t look away.

“Will you, uh,” Kara swallows thickly, scratches the corner of her lips and ducks her head. Lena frowns in worry, on edge, already ready to give anything Kara asked. Was it the penguins? She isn’t quite sure if she’d be allowed to buy penguins, much more keep them as pets, but she supposes she could try if only for Kara. “And you can totally say no!" Kara continues. "I’d totally get, but I just wanted to, you know, ask, if—”

“Kara,” Lena prods with a chuckle. The blonde jumps slightly and looks up at Lena with wide eyes. The CEO smiles. “What is it?”

Kara takes a visibly shuddering breath. “Will you go out with me?” She says, all too quickly, but Lena does hear the words. She blinks.

“I’m sorry?”

“Oh god," Kara gasps, "I shouldn’t have- I’m so sorry, Lena, it’s just- I thought- I mean- Alex and Maggie have- and I thought you- I- I just really—”

Lena furrows her eyebrows. “Kara—”

“—like you, like more than a friend, and I thought it was just wishful thinking because you seem to like me back and—”

Kara.”

“—everyone’s been telling me to go for it because Veronica! Veronica said you would never—”

Veronica?” Lena stands now, too.

“—ask me out but maybe everyone’s wrong and you don’t—”

Lena huffs and glares at the blonde, who is now pacing in her rambling apology. Kara looks like she is two seconds away from crying, and if she isn’t on the verge of tears herself, Lena would have laughed. Kara keeps talking about how maybe Lena didn’t like her back, or only liked her as a friend, and Lena reaches out, grabs her by the wrist, and pulls her close.

And Lena doesn’t really quite know what she wanted to happen. Maybe just get Kara’s attention enough for her to shut up. Or something. And she did; she pulls Kara by the wrist, effectively silencing her ramble, but didn’t realize she pulled on her enough that their faces were only several inches apart now.

Kara visibly swallows and Lena finds herself looking down at those parted lips that looked entirely too soft, and it doesn’t help that Kara licks her lips, as if mocking her.

“Thank you,” Lena whispers. Her heart is pounding and she swallows thickly and she’s so close, god, she can see the freckles she had longed to map, tinted pink with a blush, so close she could kiss Kara, and the way the blonde glances down her lips isn’t helping. She can’t breathe. She can’t breathe but tries to collect herself anyway. “Now,” she says, managing to sound calm despite the chaos in her heart and mind, “What was your question?”

Kara blinks and swallows. “If you’d go out with me.”

Oh.

So she heard that right.

Lena blinks furiously several times.

“If I'd go out with you," she repeats slowly.

Kara nods, just as slowly.

Lena licks her dry lips. She has resigned herself to being stuck to the dark pit where she had fallen, nowhere else to go and nothing else to do but suffer in the hands of who comforted her the most, that she is baffled at the question even if it feels like the sun is basking her in the warmest of lights.

"Yes," she manages to choke out.

Even Kara doesn't seem to believe her answer. “Really?”

Lena laughs. Actually laughs, out of relief perhaps, because here is her sun right in front of her. She almost forgets she is holding Kara’s wrist so she lets go, and Kara looks at her almost longingly but they still stand close to each other.

Kara sighs and shrugs. “Gosh, I don’t know, I just—" She takes another shuddering breath and pushes her glasses up. "When you said sorry my mind just went into panic mode because I can’t lose you just because I- I wanted so much more.

Lena feels like crying when she realizes then that Kara had the same apprehensions as her; that this friendship they had is far too delicate, far more significant than anything else. Lena doesn't quite know what to say; there is chaos in her mind and her heart but Kara's ocean eyes anchor her in the best of ways, like they always have.

“And you mentioned Veronica,” Lena mumbles instead.

Kara laughs wetly. “We’re friends now.”

“That’s terrifying.”

Kara shrugs again. “But like… Yes, right? You said yes?" She confirms. "You’ll go out with me? On a date?”

It's Lena's turn to laugh. Oh, how the tides of fate come and go. “Yes," Lena says. "Yes of course.” God. Yes for a long time now, she thinks.

Kara beams and lets out another laugh that screams of relief. “Golly. Wow. Boy, I’m so glad this turned out really well." She  fiddles with her glasses. "I almost chickened out there again.”

“Again?” Lena echoes.

Kara puffs her cheeks and looks away. “I wanted to ask you before. A lot of times. Just.. You know. Yeah.”

“At least you asked,” Lena replies. “I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough.” When Kara smiles sadly, Lena reaches out to cup Kara's chin, making the  blonde look at her. “Because I didn’t want to lose you just because I wanted something more.”

Kara sighs heavily at that, curls her hand around Lena's wrist. “You’re not going to lose me," she whispers. "I can’t even imagine life without you at this point," she adds, then frowns. "Sorry, is that- is that too soon?”

Lena shakes her head. It's liberating, this feeling; an altogether different lightness like she can drown in the deepest of oceans and all she could want is dive deeper. “No, because I feel the same way,” Lena says softly.  

“Wait, you do?”

“Yeah,” Lena sighs through a smile. “For some time now.”

There is realization and so much adoration on Kara's expression when she smiles again. “I feel like… Like a part of me has longed for this," Kara admits. "Even back then when I knew you as Tess Mercer.”

Everything seems to make sense then; the way Lena had felt like Kara was never a stranger, like she was someone she had always meant to know. The ache in her chest chips away into yearning all over again, except this time it isn't the longing for something she can't attain, but longing for someone she craves to know over and over and over again.

“And now you have it," Lena whispers. "You have me." She bites her lip. Kara smiles at her, eyes far brighter and softer than she has ever seen, like there are stars in her eyes. She has shown courage far more than Lena could ever dream of—dove headfirst into uncertainty even Lena herself can't dare face, and Lena bursts with all that is too much and Kara—Kara is close, so close, and a craving itches her very soul and a question lies heavy on her tongue.

Lena lifts her hand higher, thumb brushing against the stars the color of sand on Kara's cheek. “Can I kiss you?”

Kara beams—oh, how she is the sun herself. “Thought you’d never ask.”

Chapter Text

The night finds Lena in her home office, her laptop open on her desk. She is leaning against her chair, eyes unseeing the email open on her browser window, as her mind could only play back the latter part of her day in her head.

She smiles again and traces her bottom lip with her fingers. She doesn't need to think too much to remember how happily Kara had answered her question with thought you'd never ask. Kara smiled, more brightly than Lena had ever seen, and pressed her forehead against Lena's. The raven-haired woman forgot to breathe all over again as Kara cupped her cheeks with soft, reverent hands, as if Lena was the most precious thing she ever held.

So she kissed Kara.

And Kara kissed her back.

The butterflies in her stomach fluttered free, which probably explained the weightlessness against the softness of all that is Kara. Lena's cheeks burned with Kara's touch, holding on to her like she was a dream, and Lena could only taste new beginnings long yearned for on her lips.

Kara pulled a mere inch away, forehead still pressed against Lena's, only to whisper oh, you're real against Lena's lips.

Lena laughed and nudged her nose against Kara's. "Very much so, my dear."

Kara grinned and captured Lena's lips again, and again, and again.

"Oh shit."

Lena pulled away from Kara in surprise and whipped her attention to the direction of the new voice. Her gaze landed on a tall, curly-haired redhead in uniform. Lena realized she was staff member.

"S-sorry! Sorry," the woman apologized, looking away. "Oh my god, I ruined that moment there, uh—"

"It's okay," Lena laughed, biting her lip. "I got the girl anyway."

Kara laughed at that and pulled away to face the staff member, though she was close enough that her arm touched Lena's. "Is everything alright?"

"Yeah, just." The woman lifted her left hand to show her watch. "Your hour is up and we're about to let in a group of kids. Just, you know, letting you know."

"Yikes," Kara mumbled. "Thanks."

The woman nodded and left. When she was gone, Kara and Lena simultaneously burst into laughter; Lena pressed her face against Kara's shoulder, while Kara adjusted her glasses awkwardly.

"Good thing she came in and told us," the reporter sighed. "Rated G behavior, Lena."

Lena snorted at that and raised a curious eyebrow. The blonde just beamed and quickly stole a kiss from Lena's lips that had air leaving the raven-haired woman's lungs again.

It's odd, how easy the motions come to them—like they had done it a lifetime before and they were just finding their footing once more, together.

Seemingly satisfied, Kara giggled and skipped to the penguin enclosure. Lena watched her with a blush that never quite left her cheeks; Kara said goodbye to the penguins and snapped a few more photos with her phone. When she walked back to Lena, she took the woman's hand in hers and gently led her out of the exhibit area.

"I'm going to spam Alex with all these pictures later," Kara giggled. 

When they make it out to the main area, Lena saw a souvenir shop that she pointed out to Kara, who gasped at the sight of a large stuffed penguin.

"It looks so soft," Kara whispered.

Lena laughed. "Only one way to find out." She tugged on Kara's hand, and the blonde let herself be dragged to the shop. "We'll take that one," Lena said to the staff.

"Lena!" Kara exclaimed, jaw dropping open.

"Hush, Kara," Lena said, paying for the stuffed penguin. "Consider it a gift."

"But you already—"

Lena accepted the stuffed toy from the woman and handed it to Kara before she could even finish her sentence. All protests dying on her tongue, Kara slammed her mouth shut and wrapped her arms around the stuffed toy.

"Oh my god," Kara whispered. "It's so soft." She sunk her face on top of the toy's head and Lena laughed, gently patting its soft belly.

"What are you going to name it?" Lena asked.

"I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine," Kara sighed. Lena smiled fondly, feeling another wave of affection for the woman.

"Squishy it is," Lena laughed. Kara looked up at her. "What?"

"That Finding Nemo reference just flew above your head," Kara mumbled.

"Finding who?"

"Oh my god," Kara laughed. "We're going to watch that next time."

Lena smiled. "On our date?"

Kara ducked her head bashfully at that. "I'd really rather sweep you off your feet instead of making you watch some animated film about a missing clownfish."

Lena raised a curious eyebrow. "Color me intrigued," Lena said. "I wouldn't mind if we did that."

"Don't give me these kinds of dorky ideas," Kara laughed.

Lena only smiled. "I don't care what we do, you know," she whispered. "As long as it's with you."

Kara sighed and buried her face on the penguin's head as she mumbled something Lena didn't quite hear. When she asked Kara to repeat it, the blonde barely lifted her head off the stuffed toy. "You're making me want to kiss you again," Kara muttered.

A teasing remark was on Lena's tongue then—something about how Kara was free to kiss her anytime now, until she realized the hesitation Kara may have felt. That maybe it was borne of the time they had spent apart; time they could have been like this, holding hands and stealing kisses, except their hearts have held back from fear of losing each other, that maybe that fear hasn't completely left yet. Lena felt the fleeting anxiety of it, the uncertainty despite how easy it was to just take Kara's hand or just lean in and kiss her again.

But they had each other now, both as best friends and something a little more—something not defined just yet, but something familiar enough for it to feel natural—and the way Kara looked at her like Lena held the secret to life itself was enough to wash away her remaining fear.

Lena smiled and looked around, before quickly leaning in and sneaking a kiss on Kara's lips. She smirked proudly when Kara blushed.

"We should go see the rest of the zoo," the blonde suggested, carefully taking Lena's hand in hers as if she was scared of Lena pulling away, but the raven-haired woman only squeezed her hand. "Before I get the urge to hide in a corner and make out with you," Kara added.

"Kara!" Lena laughed, but she was not averse to the idea at all.

It was almost dark when they left the zoo. They headed to a quaint 50s-themed diner nearby that thankfully served food that wasn't made of grease, though Lena enjoyed watching Kara bulldoze through her burger and chicken wings. They shared fries, too, though Kara finished the greater half of it.

It felt almost like a date, somewhat, and when Lena realized her train of thought, she only smiled instead of chastising herself because it was okay.

It was more than okay.

Despite Kara's swearing she could take a cab home, Lena insisted on dropping her there. They stayed at the diner while waiting for Frank to pick them up. The drive to the blonde's apartment was quiet, save for the soft music Frank had playing, and it was several minutes into the ride when Kara reached out for Lena's hand.

"Is this okay?" Kara asked, so softly that Lena almost missed it.

Lena quirked her lips and squeezed her hand. "More than."

When they arrived at Kara's apartment, neither one of them seemed to want to let go but Kara found the courage moments later. "Good night," she said with a smile. "Thanks for the penguins," she adds, lifting the penguin stuffed toy on her lap. "I hope Krypto doesn't get jealous."

Lena eyed the large, cute penguin warily. "I'm jealous it gets to cuddle you and I don't," she mumbled to herself. Kara giggled and Lena blushed when she realized she said that out loud.

"You know all you have to do is ask," Kara said with a tilt of her head.

"Don't tempt me."

"I'm just saying," the blonde grinned, reaching for the car door but not really making a move to get out. Lena opened her mouth to say something but Kara just shrugged. "But I think I should at least take you out on that date first."

Lena scoffed and rolled her eyes playfully. "You're a tease."

Kara ducked her head and giggled. "A little. Let me know when you get home?"

Lena nodded at that. "Happy birthday again, Kara."

Kara finally pushed open the door but she hesitated. Turning to Lena, she bit her lip. "Can I…" She trailed off, but Lena caught the way her eyes glanced down to her lips.

Lena smiled. There was a thrill to it, captivating Kara like that, and she reached out to cup Kara's cheek before pressing a lingering kiss on her lips. When she pulled away, Kara was beaming.

"This is the best day of my life," she breathed out.

Lena chuckled. "I'm sure you're exaggerating."

"A reporter only reports facts, Ms. Luthor."

Lena bit her lip. "As I'm sure."

Kara laughed and nodded before finally getting out of the car, bringing Squishy along. She ducked her head to give Lena a wave, then said good night to Frank, too. Lena watched her leave even when the car door was shut closed.

She sighed dreamily and focused ahead. She met Frank's gaze on the rearview mirror, a smile on his kind eyes.

"Shut up," Lena mumbled.

Frank just chuckled. "I didn’t say anything, Ms. Luthor."

A notification from her phone drags Lena back to the present. She bites back a smile, fully expecting a message from Kara. The glee on her expression drops when she realizes it's Lillian, confirming their brunch the next day.

She has forgotten about that.

A sense of dread settles on her gut; nothing like a reminder of reality to ground her, after all. Lena only stares at her phone. On one hand, she wants to reschedule, if only to savor this feeling of rare, actual happiness before some sort of shit goes down. A part of her knows Lillian really meant it when she said she wanted to work on being a family again, but a voice in her head whispers doubts—thoughts that dampen her mood but give her an idea that this is good, that if Lillian didn't mean her words, then the sooner Lena can know of it.

She'll burn the bridge when she gets there.

So Lena replies to Lillian a confirmation for their brunch at Bella Italia. Her mother's response is quick, a simple see you, have a good night, and Lena worries her lip between her teeth for a moment before wishing her a good night too. With a sigh, she tries her best to focus on work.

She manages to schedule an email to be sent at eight in the morning of the next day when her phone vibrates with a phone call. Her earlier dread about brunch with Lillian vanishes, only to be replaced by a rush of butterflies in her belly when she sees a Kara's name and photo looking back at her. Unable to bite back a smile, Lena answers her phone as she leans back on her chair.

"Hi," she greets. Kara echoes her greeting with a smile obvious in her voice then there is a bark. Lena chuckles. "Hello to you, too, Krypto."

Kara giggles. "I just wanted to ask something." Lena playfully rolls her eyes, and before she could tell Kara to just ask, Kara chuckles. "I know, I know, I should stop saying that, but uh—I just wanted to, um, ask how Saturday sounds for our… date."

It's endearing how Kara dissolved into a nervous chuckle at that, and the smile Lena has been trying to hold back takes over as she grins and sinks into her seat as the butterflies in her stomach flutter to her chest. Or maybe that's her thundering heartbeat.

"Sounds perfect," Lena whispers giddily. Kara seems to let out a breath of relief at that, one that makes Lena chuckle. "Did you think I'd back out?" She teases.

Kara makes a small noise. "Well. Just- uh, you know." She huffs. "You might have had time to think about it on your way home—"

"Hey," Lena interrupts, "if anything, the time I had to think about things just made me think of how much I want that date." She smiles even if Kara doesn't see her. "With you."

There is a moment of silence, and Lena fears that she has stepped on a line or maybe she was going too fast too soon, but before she could voice out her panic, Kara sighs. "Sorry, I- I forgot I needed to speak there," she laughs. "I was just smiling the whole time. It's- It's stupid. I can't stop smiling."

Lena lets herself breathe. "Me too," she admits softly.

"You should go to sleep," Kara says after a while. "I just know you're working."

Lena laughs. "I mean, I tried. I've been distracted."

Lena can almost see Kara's proud little grin. "Just go to bed then," the blonde suggests.

"Fine," Lena laughs. She turns off her laptop and makes her way to her bedroom. Kara stays on the phone the whole time, and they talk about things as if they hadn’t just seen each other—she doesn't tell the blonde yet of her brunch with Lillian, but figures she would do it soon as it does concern her; Kara mentions bringing Krypto to the vet the next day for his shots and Lena asks if he was jealous of her stuffed penguin.

"I'm cuddling Squishy right now, actually," Kara giggles. "Him and Krypto."

"Now you're just making me jealous on purpose," Lena grumbles as she crawls to bed. 

Kara laughs, soft in a way that makes Lena melt. "Hey," Kara whispers. "Really though. Thank you for today."

Lena looks at the side of her bed, where Kara had always lied beside her. Is it odd to miss someone when you have seen them hours before? "No, thank you." Lena sighs. "I don't think I've ever quite felt this happy."

"If anyone deserves to feel like that, it's you," Kara answers quickly, and Lena decides that odd or not, that is how she feels, and maybe Kara staying on the phone with her until almost midnight means Kara feels the same way.

//

The next day finds Lena growing anxious about her brunch with Lillian. It's understandable, she thinks, and a part of her debates bringing up the whole Kara thing if only to delay whatever conversation she may have with her mother about it, but there's a bridge she has to cross and burn if it comes to it.

Lillian orders the wine and dishes recommended by their attendant. Lena gives her order, too, and they catch up about the latest in L-Corp news as they wait for their food to arrive.

With some wine in her system, the conversation goes more smoothly. When their appetizers have been served, Lena glances at Lillian.

"How are you doing so far?" She asks.

Lillian eyes her for a moment. "Doing well, I suppose," she says. "I've talked to a couple of people for possible consultation jobs so I don't bore myself."

Lena raises an eyebrow and chuckles at that. It seems to surprise Lillian but she only shrugs. "And how are you?" She asks with a smile.

The younger Luthor sips her wine. "I'm good."

Her mother regards her again at her reply. Lena stares at her right back.

"What?" She asks.

Lillian shakes her head. "Nothing. You just seem… different, is all. A good different. Like you're…" She hums as if she is thinking of a word. "Weightless."

At Lena's incredulous look, Lillian smiles and shrugs as she takes her glass of wine. "Lena, I may not have been a mother to you but I'd like to think I read people well."

The CEO pauses at that. She could feel the weight of Lillian's words hang heavily in the air, and thankfully an attendant comes over to refill her now-empty glass of wine. She wonders if Lillian could actually see how different Lena feels—was she that obvious?—and debates if she should bring up the situation, without dropping Kara's name, of course. God  knows she would hire a private investigator on her. Perhaps she could just ease in the truth of Lillian's only remaining family being into the fairer sex. If her mother couldn't handle that, then Lena could just drop the whole thing like she had always planned on doing should it come to it.

When the attendant leaves, Lena takes a long pull of her wine before meeting Lillian's gaze.

"I guess you're right," Lena says. "I'm going on a date tomorrow," she adds with a tight smile. Lillian raises an eyebrow as the penny hangs in the air. "With a woman."

The penny drops and the older Luthor only blinks. She is quiet for a moment, then breathes out a little oh. Lena's heart drops, too, because there it is—disappointment. Lena tries to keep her face neutral and she takes her fork in an attempt to return to her meal, but Lillian speaks.

"I'm- I'm sorry, but I have to say I'm surprised you decided to share that with me," Lillian says, her voice tinted with apprehension that Lena has never heard before. The older woman frowns. "Is this a test? To see how I'd react?"

When Lena purses her lips, Lillian sighs. She seems to school her features then, but her smile still feels almost sad that Lena feels a foreign ache in her chest.

"I'm not going to up and leave if that's what you expected," Lillian says softly. "Though I understand why you'd expect such. Still, I… I'd like to thank you for sharing that with me. It must've been difficult." She takes a sip of her wine and Lena does the same. Silence settles on them for a moment.

"Does she treat you well?" Lillian asks.

Lena studies her for a fleeting second. She really is trying, like she had said, and Lena is eternally grateful; maybe she had been worried for nothing, after all. "Yes," she replies. She thinks of Kara, the smile on her face, the way their first kiss tasted like a promise. "Yes, she does."

"Good," Lillian smiles, content with that response. "I hope one day I get to meet her then."

Lena couldn't quite believe it—the bridge has been crossed and it remains surprisingly undamaged. She blinks away the thought of a dream and chuckles lightly.

"One day," she promises.

//

The rest of the week doesn't linger; work gives Lena enough to do and a few headaches to deal with, but in the quiet moments offered to her by the rush of business she was occupied with Kara's messages. They don't see each other, however; Lena had multiple meetings at Star City in the middle of the week while Kara was sent to a conference a city over the next day.

Lena teases her about keeping up the act until their date come Saturday.

But I miss you though, Kara replies, and Lena stares at her phone with a smile that she couldn't quite bite back. It's lovely, how the motions come so easily to them, and she is ever grateful the pieces have fallen where she had hoped for, and though she has gone somewhere she couldn't climb back up, it was rather comforting to know that there is a possibility of Kara being right there with her.

Too soon? Kara added.

Lena sends a reply and savors the giddy rush in her chest before she is sucked back into work.

I miss you too.

Come Friday, Lena is already expecting a busy morning for the rest of the meetings she wasn't able to face the days prior. She takes in the sight of the folders on her desk, mentally going through her task list for the morning. Work has been the very foundation of her life, the steady steps of it familiar ones she can take with both eyes closed, but for the first time, an altogether different reason has her looking forward for the next day.

There is a knock on her door. When Lena looks up from where she is getting her laptop ready, she finds Jess walking in with a man in uniform, bringing a large bouquet of flowers.

"Good morning, Ms. Luthor," Jess beams, placing a cup of coffee on Lena's desk. "Your coffee, and it seems you have a delivery here."

Lena rolls her eyes playfully but does get up to accept the flowers the delivery man gives her. She signs it and the man leaves with a grin. Lena hopes she isn't blushing, but it had been a while since she has accepted flowers, and she can't help but give the bouquet of red tulips and what Lena thinks are gardenias a little sniff.

"Those flowers are beautiful," Jess notes with a knowing smile, and Lena actually does blush this time as she chuckles.

"Thank you, Jess," she says, walking back to her desk and putting flowers down with a fond gaze. "And thank you for the coffee.

"No problem. I'll let you moon over your flowers," Jess teases, "but your first meeting starts in fifteen."

Lena rolls her eyes. A part of her wants to text Kara a thank you for the flowers, but Kara hasn't texted her yet either—a curious thing, since they had resorted to messaging each other more in the past week compared to the entire course of their friendship, but it adds to the giddy rush in her chest. She reaches for the flowers again, smile never leaving her lips, and only then does she discover the card stuffed between the arrangement.

See you tomorrow, your place, 2PM? Wear something comfortable, the card reads, signed with a smiley and Kara's initials. Lena bites her lip. It shouldn't make her feel too excited, but the butterflies in her stomach haven't quit fluttering about yet and she doesn't think they are about to stop any soon.

She reads through the card again, as if trying to wake herself up should this be a dream, but the letters stay on the card and everything is as real as it could get.

A thought dawns on her. She rings for Jess on the intercom. Her secretary comes in with her helpful smile. "Yes, Ms. Luthor?"

"I'm in dire need of help," Lena sighs. "How do I dress comfortably, for a date?"

//

When Saturday rolls in, Lena is already awake before her weekend alarm goes off. She gets out of bed and does her routine, the butterflies still flitting wildly in her belly, so much so that she feels the nerves on her fingertips. Beating a punching bag doesn't help. A bath with the most relaxing of essential oils finally do, and she savors the moment before the nerves come reeling back in when she faces her walk-in closet head on.

She takes her laptop, turns it on, and calls Jess on Skype, as she had discussed with her the day before.

"Good morning, Ms. Luthor," Jess greets, and Lena waves a hand as she takes a couple of blouses out of her closet.

"It's Saturday, so it's Lena," the CEO sighs. She shoots Jess an apologetic smile. "Besides. You're here on… friendly capacity, if that's alright."

She doesn't see Jess blink in surprise at that, but Lena lifts a maroon blouse with a white collar. "This is a no, right?"

Jess nods. "You can wear a dress, you know."

Lena purses her lips and glances back at her closet. "I don't know," Lena murmurs. "I don't quite think I have a casual dress back there. Does a comfortable cocktail dress count?"

"No," Jess chuckles. "Do you have a shirt?"

Lena rummages through the several hangers of clothes she had placed on the bed. "Collared?" She lifts a dark charcoal silk shirt and puts it over her bathrobe-clad front. When Jess shakes her head, she takes another one and tries it on.

"Did Ms. Danvers say how casual comfortable is?" Jess asks.

"How did you- never mind," she mumbles, remembering how Kara had made friends of her secretary. Lena sighs. "No," she mumbles. "I want to ask, but I don't want her to have the impression that I'm some snobby CEO who's only ever dressed formally all her life and that's what I count as comfortable."

Jess chuckles. "You've gone out with your friends though, right?"

At that, Lena stares at Jess's image on the laptop. "Yes, but those are different, aren't they?" She sighs, tugs on the towel on her hair, and begins to pat it dry. "Those were- were friend things. This- This is a date, Jess. Never mind the fact that it's with my best friend, but it's a date date."

Jess hums in understanding. "You said it though. Kara is your best friend." She tilts her head. "I think she'd be fine in whatever you'll wear as long as it's comfortable."

"You're saying I'm overthinking this," Lena deadpans.

Jess laughs and raises her hands. "I'm saying you should wear whatever it is you usually wear," she advises. "When you go out, I mean. Not your… Power suits."

Lena stares at her for a moment, sighs, then takes a look at the tops she had placed on her bed. She gestures for Jess to wait, shifts through her closet, then fishes out a black and white horizontally-striped round-neck shirt that she didn't even know existed. "How about this one?"

"Okay," Jess hums. "And jeans?"

"Dark jeans," Lena agrees. "Maybe a denim jacket? Hair down?" 

Jess smirks. "Should I call Quinn and tell her to get something ready? I'm sure the press will have a field day with this."

"Not helping, Jessica," Lena glares as she takes a nice fitting pair of jeans from her pants rack and sets it on the bed. "I don't even know if we're going out in public."

"She hasn't told you?"

Lena shrugs. "I think I'm going to enjoy the element of surprise?" She says, shrugging on her underwear and pants. Jess makes a sound. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing," Jess says.

Lena pauses and squints. "What aren't you telling me?"

Jess grins innocently. "Nothing I'm obliged to tell you on a Saturday when you're consulting me as a friend, Ms. Luthor. Now off you go get ready."

Lena mutters under her breath but thanks Jess anyway. She proceeds to getting ready, or at least, tries to without getting overcome with nerves—the butterflies won't stop, and all she can keep picturing is Kara's sunny grin, and it should be bothering now because all her shaky excitement, pounding heartbeat, and relentless smiling might just be signs of delirium, but she will let it slide for now.

She has finished getting her purse ready, has checked her appearance more times than she usually did when she had to power dress for some big meeting, and when the intercom buzzes to let her know the front desk has let Kara in, she takes a deep breath.

This is happening.

It feels like how it should if she could've attended prom—or at least, what she thinks it would have felt. The closest she can really just compare it with is her first gala night, right after taking over then LuthorCorp—the jitters of it all, anyway, but just this once, it was her heart on the line.

There is a knock on her door that set forth another wave of butterflies in her belly. Lena takes a deep breath, walks to the door, and takes another deep breath before opening it for Kara.

And for all the times she has seen Kara Danvers, Lena doesn't quite think she has seen her like this. Sure, the first time she had seen Kara so long ago was as jarring, but this is different, this time around; she is the sun and the sea Lena has always found peace in, but the smile on Kara's lips is warm and familiar, like she is coming home.

Has Kara always smiled at Lena like this?

"Hi," Kara breathes out, and she takes a moment to look at Lena from toe to head before blushing. Lena takes her in, too; she looks cozy in the faded green bomber jacket she wears over a white shirt, jeans that made Lena think of the cotton-based ones she wore during their cuddle sessions way back when—an embodiment of comfort, and Lena feels the urge to just cuddle in bed with her now. She shakes her thoughts away and smiles at Kara.

"Hi," she greets dumbly. They share a chuckle.

"Are you ready to go?" Kara asks.

Lena nods. Kara leads her to the elevator and to the waiting car at the driveway. They walk in silence, but Lena looks at Kara every once in a while; she catches Kara looking at her, too.

She hopes she isn't blushing when Kara opens the door for her, but she relents and sighs dreamily while Kara makes her way into the driver's seat.

"You keep looking," Lena says finally while they drive to wherever Kara has planned on going. "Did I mess up my lipstick?"

Kara glances from the road to Lena. "No," she assures. When Lena raises an eyebrow, the blonde chuckles. "It's- It's nothing. I just, you know," she clears her throat, "I don't think I've ever seen you… like this."

Lena looks consciously at what she is wearing. Should she have gone with the cocktail dress? "Like what?"

Kara bites her lip. "I don't know the word," she sighs and waves a hand. "Soft? Maybe cozy? I don't know. But! But, it's a good thing, I promise."

The raven-haired woman furrows her eyebrows. "You've seen me in sweats."

"Yeah," Kara chuckles and glances at Lena again. "But this is like, a whole another side of you."

Lena bites her lip. "Is it bad?"

Kara shakes her head. "Are you serious?" When Lena shrugs, Kara sighs. "I told you. It's a good thing."

Lena only nods. She fiddles with the hem of the denim jacket she isn't used to wearing; the butterflies are still there but there is a worry that settles with them. She doesn't notice that they stop at a red light until there is a hand on hers, pausing her movements, and when she turns to Kara, the blonde is smiling apologetically even if she has done nothing wrong.

"You're beautiful whatever you wear, Lena," Kara says, and all of Lena's insecurities are washed away by the ocean of Kara's eyes. "I'm glad I get to see this part of you, and I—" She ducks her head, sighs, and meets Lena's gaze again. "I keep looking because of those reasons." 

Lena is certain she is blushing now, and Kara only smiles, as if she is satisfied with her reaction. She doesn't take her hand away from Lena's until she has to change gears. They drive in relative silence, one that isn't awkward but rather familiar, comfortable. Lena catches Kara looking at her sometimes, or maybe it's Kara who catches Lena looking, but there's the rush in her chest when they lock gazes and when Kara smiles, Lena can't help but smile back.

It has to be insanity at this point, right?

Kara pulls over at a lot where three other cars are parked. When Lena realizes where they are, she turns to the blonde.

"An arcade?" Lena asks with a confused smile. She's never been in an arcade before—or she has, but only ever watched the kids play during Luthor Foundation field trips she manages to come to.

"Yeah," Kara says nervously, fiddling with her glasses. "I just. I just thought, you know. You've probably been in the fanciest of dates and all that and- and I thought we could try something new." She worries her bottom lip between her teeth. "Do you- do you not like it?"

"I love it," she assures. Lena gives the building a glance, then tilts her head and smiles at Kara. "I just hope you know I won't show mercy in whatever games there are in there."

"Oh you're so on."

//

The arcade is a chaos of beeping sounds, music, and neon lights. There were fewer people than Lena had expected, which she was thankful for; she doesn't have to elbow past teenagers or get her hips head-butted by running children like what always seems to happen during field trips. The arcade was smaller than the one they usually go to outside National City, but it was big enough to have numerous arcade machines lined up in several rows, along with a pool table and an air hockey table on one side and a snack bar on the other.

"Okay," Kara grins, procuring a card from the inside of her jacket. She is brimming with contagious excitement that Lena finds hard not to mirror. "This is our ticket to everything. We get tickets when we win things, so I expect to get tickets since you seem very competitive."

Lena raises an eyebrow at that. She takes the card from Kara. "I am a Luthor after all, Ms. Danvers."

Kara practically bounces. "Let's start with a classic then," she laughs, guiding Lena to one of the machines. "You've played Pac-Man, right?"

Lena eyes the moving yellow blob 'eat' the dots on the screen. No, she hasn't. She is familiar with the concept, however. "How hard can it be?" She says, fumbles with the card, then lets Kara swipe it in the reader.

"All yours then," Kara says. Lena stares at the console for a moment, takes the joystick, and starts playing.

Lena finds it difficult, the first time; she dies after a bit of a struggle to stay away from the ghosts when they turn blue, but after watching Kara expertly rack up almost twenty thousand points, she gets the hang of it and easily beats her on her next try.

"That's not fair," Kara pouts.

"Don't be a sore loser," Lena smirks.

Kara laughs, fidgets with her glasses, then looks down. "At least we get tickets!" She announces, getting the strips of tickets churned out by the machine.

Kara leads her to several other video games. Tetris is one thing Lena is familiar with—had actually played with, back then with Lex when Lillian would allow them after their lessons—and she easily gets a high score from it, but Kara does manage to beat her by a hundred points. Kara cries out payback is delicious with a giggle that makes Lena want to kiss her. They find two Galaga machines side by side and they play at the same time, and despite her itch to win—my Luthor genes just shine through, she tells Kara when she gets a higher score mid-game—Lena finds herself glancing over at the laughing blonde and distracting herself to her death.

Kara whoops in her victory and does a little dance, and Lena can only watch her fondly. When Kara realizes this, she blushes, and Lena gives in to her craving and presses a kiss on her cheek—an action that surprises herself, never one to be so bold in things like this, but the way Kara falters and blushes is well worth it.

"You're adorable," Lena whispers.

It takes a moment for Kara to clear her throat and head to the next game.

The rest of the afternoon goes with them trying virtually every available game; the other guests don't bother them. They are able to play whack-a-mole and bag a lot of tickets from that alone—Elektra's training for improving Lena's reflexes have paid off tremendously. Kara curses the slots game and tugs Lena away from them with a warning about threats of addiction, and instead try the shooting games that Lena aces save for the ones that are clearly rigged, Kara, my aim is impeccable!

They eat at the snack bar. Jess was right, the press would clearly have a field day with this, and Lena wonders what her mother would say if a photo of her stuffing her face with a ketchup-drowned hotdog sandwich made it to the papers. Will she be okay with that or will it be the last straw? The thought doesn't linger in Lena's mind, what with Kara's excited stories of the most seemingly mundane things. Lena drowns in the ocean of her eyes and the sunshine of her smile, and Lena thinks despite having being taken to dinner in Venice or serenaded in Paris before, this is the best date she has ever been in.

The air hockey game they start much later becomes tense, the reason being Kara can be very competitive if she wants to. Lena matches her head on, and they go into a tight battle that takes the attention of a couple people in the area. Their scores are even, at least until Kara miscalculates and fails to stop the puck after Lena's quick return. The CEO wins with a grin and a fist bump in the air. She teases Kara, and for all the blonde's seriousness earlier, she only laughs, pushes her glasses, and smiles at Lena.

"Maybe a kiss for the winner?" She offers, and when Lena blushes, she smirks. "That was worth losing that game."

"You're a sore loser," Lena huffs with a roll of her eyes, but the color stays on pale cheeks.

"It was an actual offer though," Kara says, walks closer to Lena, and the adrenaline from her victory is replaced with the rush Kara never fails to make her feel. Lena leans in and Kara grins, presses her against the air hockey table for her victory kiss that has the CEO thanking the physical support she is leaning against.

She doesn't quite think she can get over Kara's kisses just yet, or the way they make her feel like her heart is about to burst, or how Kara tastes like sunrise.

"There are kids around," Lena mumbles as she pulls back for air. She isn't even sure; she hasn't seen any, just probably-just-as-horny teens, but there's heat on her neck and her cheeks and her hands clench on the lapel of Kara's jacket.

"Sorry," Kara mumbles with a shy laugh as she pulls away.

Lena licks her lips and smooths Kara's jacket. "I'm not," she says, sighs dreamily. "Where can I beat you next?"

//

They leave the arcade at almost sunset, after trading their tickets for a yellow, banana-looking plushie with goggles that Kara called a minion—his name is Kevin, Lena Kieran—borne of their frustration at the claw machine that robbed them money and received a shower of Lena's choice words.

Kara is clutching Kevin as they make their way out of the arcade. Her eagerness falters for a moment and she clears her throat before speaking. "Did you have fun?" She asks, anxious.

Is it too soon to hold hands?

Lena reaches out to place a reassuring hand on Kara's arm and she smiles. "I did," she murmurs, "thank you." She pulls away, hand reeling with Kara's warmth. "I still hate that claw machine and I'm going to sue," she laughs.

"I told you it was rigged after the third time," Kara giggles.

"You wanted that other yellow thing," Lena huffs.

"It's Pikachu, Lena," the blonde laughs. Lena echoes it with a playful roll of her eyes. "Are you hungry?" Kara asks.

"Oh my god." The CEO smirks at Kara. "You're asking me that?"

"Mean." Kara scrunches her nose. "That basketball game really got to me."

"If you weren't so competitive. I'm just glad there weren't a lot of people considering it's a weekend," Lena notes.

Kara laughs. It cracks, in the way that is painfully awkward, and Lena stops walking to throw her a glance.

"What was that?" She asks with a raised eyebrow.

The blonde shrugs. "Nothing!" Lena narrows her eyes and Kara furrows her eyebrows. "What?"

Lena only stares, eyebrow quirked, and when Kara squirms, she almost smirked in victory.

"Ronnie volunteered to buy it out, in my defense," Kara mumbles. "And just for the afternoon!" 

Lena looks confused for a moment. "Veronica," she echoes, then sighs. "What did she say?"

"Uh." Kara clears her throat. "Good luck?" At Lena's silence, she sighs. "Do you really want to know?"

Lena nods.

"She said—" Kara looks physically pained for a moment, then she sighs again. "She said only she is allowed to cockblock y- er, us."

Lena groans and covers her face with her hands. "I hate her so much," she sighs. She is going to need to have a talk with that woman.

"I'm kind of grateful though," Kara admits, then sputters. "I mean, not- not that! I mean the whole buying the afternoon thing. I probably owe her a kidney or something, but it would've been less fun with all people around when it's Saturday."

Lena supposes that is a good point, but she will still need to talk to Veronica. She lets it go with a small nod. "You come here often?"

"Every now and then," Kara replies. "I like their sandwiches."

Lena smiles. "So we can go back?"

Kara looks at her in wonder, then, like she didn't expect that. "You want to go back?"

Lena shrugs. "I'm going to beat your high score in Pac-Man and try those burgers you love so much," she says easily.

Kara laughs, the sound laced with disbelief, but she nods. "Anytime you want."

They reach the car. Kara opens the door for her again but Lena doesn't get in yet.

"So where are we going now?" She asks curiously.

"Do you want to go home?" Kara asks.

No, not yet, she thinks, but Lena just looks amused. "Why are you asking me?"

Kara shrugs. "Because you could be sick of my face or something," she mumbles.

Lena blinks at that. The sheer idea of it makes her want to laugh, but instead she reaches for Kara, cups her cheek, and smiles in a way that she hopes doesn't look as helpless as she feels under Kara's gaze. "I could spend days upon days with you and not tire of your company, you silly thing." She bites her lip, eyes Kara's lips. Was it so bad to be craving them again?

It's Kara who asks. "Can I kiss you?"

Lena answers by leaning in, pressing her lips against those she so craved, and she forgets to breathe yet again; Kara is soft against her touch but she holds Lena like she is the fragile one. They gravitate closer to each other, until Lena feels a soft bump between them. She pulls away with a laugh and looks down at the plushie pressed against Kara's front.

"Kevin," Kara sighs. She smiles apologetically at Lena, her cheeks dusted pink. "Anyway, I- Uh, I was thinking we could catch a movie, and dinner because you're probably hungry."

"Is it Finding Nemo?" Lena asks as she finally climbs into the car.

Kara ducks to meet Lena's gaze. "Maybe," she teases. She rushes to the driver's side to get in. "We could watch the movie Kevin is in," she says, handing the plushie to Lena. The CEO takes it with a laugh and sits it on her lap.

"I want to see Squishy first, though."

Kara grins. She drives to soft music from the radio and their light chatter about the arcade—Kara shares the names of the Pac-Man ghosts, and Lena mentions her theory about the algorithm of how they move.

Lena realizes they are driving to Kara's apartment when she sees the building down the street. She grins; its familiar territory, and her heart stutters at the thought of finally being enveloped in Kara's comfortable warmth like she had craved since she opened the door for her earlier.

Oh dear.

"Is Krypto home?" Lena asks as Kara parks the car.

Kara shakes her head. "He's with Alex and Maggie."

Lena nods thoughtfully and walks alongside Kara when they walk into the elevator. The back of their hands brush as they walk, and Lena wonders, yet again, if it's too soon to hold hands. They have already done that anyway, right? She isn't entirely sure. She doesn't have many frames of reference for friends, and the ones for dates are even lesser. She doesn't think she remembers how things went with Jack, either.

She raises her eyebrows curiously when she realizes they skipped Kara's floor and instead head to the highest one. She follows as Kara leads her the way to the fire exit.

"The rooftop?" Lena voices out when they reach the door. "Are you allowed to go up there?"

"Don't worry," Kara says as she pushes open the door that leads to the rooftop. "I know the owner."

Lena barely catches her words when she sees what welcomes them at the rooftop: the city beyond is dark with the early evening and the space is lit up by fairy lights against the firewall of the taller building beside it. Lamps are lit in several places, giving the place a warm glow despite the cool evening. Across the firewall is makeshift theater screen, and in front of it is a cozy heap of blankets, bean bags, and pillows. On the side is a cooler, a breakfast bed tray with what Lena guesses are food containers.

"I- Wow," Lena breathes out, taking it all in. She swallows back the butterflies and the tears—oh god, why are there tears?—as she turns to Kara with a disbelieving laugh. "You have minions."

"I call them friends," Kara grins, fiddling with her glasses proudly. "Foggy says hi, by the way."

Lena shakes her head. She has forgotten about that. "You know."

Kara shrugs. "I'd be a terrible investigative journalist-in-the-making if I don’t piece two parts together." She waves her hand. "Besides. L-Corp's code of transparency made it very easy to find out that the company that bought my building is owned by you, of all people."

Lena bites her lip. The thundering in her chest quickens for a whole another reason. "Are you mad?"

"Mad? What? No!" Kara looks worried for a moment. "I'm still mostly in disbelief, but I'm ever grateful, and hey, look—" She sighs, hands hovering by Lena's biceps like she is ready to shake Lena's doubts away. "I'm not calling you out on it. Just, you know. Teasing you about it, because I can never thank you enough." 

"You didn't have to," Lena says. She shrugs. "I mean. I didn't want you to know for those reasons." 

Kara smiles in understanding. "I figured, and I get it. But unfortunately for you, I'm nosy." She taps her nose at it. "You should've seen the look on your face when I mentioned Foggy, though."

Lena chuckles and rolls her eyes, her nerves withdrawing only to leave anticipation. "I'm guessing you're friends now too?"

"Yes." Kara beams.

Lena looks around again. It's too much; she feels too full of adoration and god, dare she say it, love, for this woman in front of her. The words tickle the back of her mind.

It's too soon for those, is it not?

"Thank you for all this," she says instead.

"Why are you thanking me?" Kara mumbles, confused. "This is a date. I'm pouring repressed romance into this, so this may be a little corny? I mean, I did think of taking you out on a fancy restaurant but I'm pretty sure you've been to all of them, and I just thought, maybe—"

"Kara?"

"Yeah?" The blonde blinks.

Lena smiles, bold. "Shut up and kiss me."

Kara laughs of relief. She grins, cups Lena's cheeks with reverence that steals the air from Lena's lungs, and when she kisses her, Lena kisses her back with every fiber of her being screaming for the need to touch Kara. She cups Kara's face, too, pulls her closer, and Kara brings her hands to Lena's waist to do the same until distance between their bodies becomes only the layers of their clothes. This must be how it feels, to be in the hands of your greatest comfort, to feel like you're burning and drowning at the same time with all the things you feel, only to crave more of the sun and the sea.

When she comes up for air and pulls away, she does so with a smile that Kara mirrors.

"So what are we watching?" Lena asks, breathless. Kara laughs, steals another kiss, then pulls away only to take Lena's hand to guide her to the nest of blankets and pillows. 

"Her," Kara answers. "And then Finding Nemo."

Lena's expression turns amused. "We should order food. That isn't fish."

"I got you food!" Kara says, gesturing to the food containers to the side. They kick their shoes off and settle into the blankets. Kara takes the tray and puts it in front of Lena. The raven-haired woman takes it all in with a hum.

"Where's the pizza and potstickers?" The CEO asks.

"I- What?" Kara blinks, pausing from her task of opening the bottle of red wine in her hand.

"You're eating too," Lena points out. "You don't eat half of these."

"Well, yeah, but—"

Lena scoffs, fishes her phone out of her purse, and quickly dials a number. "You're not starving on my watch, baby," she says, just as the line connects to a concierge she trusts.

She doesn't realize her slip until Kara clears her throat when the call ends.

"You called me baby," she says.

Lena's mouth falls open at that and she flushes darkly. "I- Maybe," she mumbles. She takes her time putting her phone back in her purse but Kara only smiles. It's warm and familiar and everything Lena knew and wished for.

Lena settles against a bean bag. Kara hands her a glass of red wine and serves the bowl of chicken and avocado salad and the plate of nachos. She moves to dim the lamps, too, then starts the first movie before sitting next to Lena. Their arms touch but neither of them really move to put distance between them; instead, Kara shifts so Lena could lean against her.

They quietly nibble on the nachos while they wait for the pizza and potstickers to arrive, and when the food is delivered, they part only long enough to reach for any distant items before returning to each other, like a compass finding North over and over again.

With dinner gone, they don't really notice how Kara has settled against the bean bags and pillows, how Lena managed to sit between her legs and lean against Kara's front. Kara's arms are around her shoulders, Lena's head is nestled on the blonde's chest, and she feels Kara's laughter and every breath against her bones.

They cuddle under the growing darkness and the stars, and in the warmth of Kara's arms, while watching animated fish look for Nemo, Lena realizes that it has been so long since that godforsaken day she had acquired Kara's services.

"Can I ask you something?" Lena says when the credits for the movie roll.

Kara chuckles. "So this is how it feels from the other side."

Lena giggles, angles her head up to meet Kara's eyes in the dimness of the area. Kara shifts but doesn't let go of Lena; her arms are still wrapped around her shoulders, and Lena squeezes the blonde's arm resting against her collarbones. "You said you knew, even back when you knew me as Tess." Kara chuckles at that. Lena smiles and continues. "How?"

Kara takes a moment. "I didn't know," she admits with a smile. "I mean, I didn't realize until sometime later. But it's—I don't know how to describe it? It was only later, in hindsight. You made me… Feel. Things." She scrunches her nose. "Okay, that sounds weirder said out loud."

Lena swats her arm playfully and laughs. "I get what you mean, you dork. I remember feeling like I could easily let you in," Lena admits. "Even when I knew nothing about you. Which was… Confusing for  me. I had what, one friend?" She laughs, remembers how Kara had reminded her of the sun, how she couldn't help but surrender herself to Kara's warmth. It was unusual for her to feel like that, like she could entrust her whole world to a mere stranger and feel nothing but warmth.

And yet.

"And here we are now," Kara murmurs. She pauses, then Lena feels lips against her temple. She sighs fondly.

"Here we are."

They bask in each other's warmth, with nothing but the company of each other and the distant sounds of the city. Lena mindlessly draws shapes against Kara's soft skin as they lay in silence that Kara breaks some time later.

"We should go in, it's getting colder," she suggests.

Lena nods, but neither of them move. There is a question that Lena hesitates to ask, but after a while manages to with an almost whisper. "Do you want me to stay the night?"

She feels Kara suck in a breath against her. Kara ducks her head, lips practically brushing against Lena's hair. "Is it okay for you to stay over? It's our first date and all."

Lena shrugs. "Why not?" She asks, navigating blindly through the unfamiliar terrain that practically felt like home with Kara. She finally pulls away to face to the blonde, settling beside her this time. "Stop thinking like a date and be my best friend for a moment."

At that, Kara smiles. She reaches for the collar of Lena's denim jacket and tugs on it lightly. "I'll always be your best friend," Kara promises.

Lena chuckles; she places her hand on Kara's on her collar, taking the blonde's attention. "What if I ask you to be my girlfriend?" Lena teases.

Kara pauses, then actually bursts into giggles. "I'd say yes, but then you'd be my girlfriend and best friend."

"Your girlfriend, huh?" Lena beams. The word echoes in her head, makes her heartbeat skip, and in hindsight, maybe she should have asked more seriously, but Kara's expression turns a little serious, too, and she bites her lip.

"Only if you were serious," Kara replies with a blush.

Lena hesitates. "I- I mean, I was teasing," she admits, "but I- Is that even a thing people do on first dates?"

Kara tugs on her collar again. "I don't have the best frames of reference for that one," she admits with a little smile. "I dated like, twice in the past."

Lena pokes her hand. "Not helping."

Kara sighs. "I don't know," she whispers. She meets Lena's gaze; there is softness in her blue eyes that doesn't help in calming Lena's heart, and her mind is screaming for her to actually ask. "Ask me something else," Kara suggests with a whisper.

Lena makes a small sound. "You're the journalist."

Kara licks her lips. "Okay." She looks at Lena's collar, on the hand on hers. She lets go of the fabric and turns her hand, takes Lena's instead and threads their fingers together before pulling Lena's hand against her chest. Lena swallows at the pounding heartbeat she feels against the back of her own hand, the rhythm similar to the one in her own chest. Kara looks in her eyes.

"Does it feel right?" Kara finally asks.

Lena cups Kara's cheeks, drowns in the ocean of her eyes all over again, and it's like looking at a sunrise, how all of her feels like a beginning. Kara is warm and it burns in the best of ways—and she thinks she can go through all the doubt and the preemptive heartache she has gone through before over and over, if it means having this moment here. She bites her lip, searches for the courage Kara had found days before, at the heart of a penguin exhibit, anchors herself in all of Kara in this moment, here.

"Yes."