“I cannot fucking believe this.”
Lena paces back and forth in front of the leather couch, her hands waving in front of her in wide arcs as she rants. Sam sits cross legged in front of her, watching her progress with a look of increasing worry. She sighs, fishing a bag of jellybeans from her messenger bag and popping a few in her mouth.
“Lena, it’s going to be fine,” She says around a mouthful of candy, and Lena shakes her head in disbelief.
“Fine? Fine? Veronica just walked out. Six days after Jack left. When we have a gig in two weeks. Exactly which part of this is going to be fine?” Lena snaps, and Sam narrows her eyes.
“I’m going to ignore your sassy tone, because I love you and I know you’re stressed right now.”
Lena huffs, the extent of her pacing growing until she’s walking in frantic circles around the couch. “Now we need to find a drummer and a guitarist, and they have to be able to sing backup. Because right now, we are just a singer and a bass player. Lena and the Worldkiller. Singular.”
“To be fair, you also play guitar sometimes,” Sam adds unhelpfully, and Lena glares at her.
“Not the point. The point is, this is impossible. It’s not enough time.”
“So, we audition them all at once.” Sam suggests, her long legs uncrossing and touching the floor. “It’ll be a long day, but we can get it all out of the way in one session.”
“What if we don’t find anyone?” Lena stops, her hands twisting nervously. So far she’s been running on rage and steam, but the longer reality sinks in, the more prominently the fear starts to shine out from behind the anger. “What if we have to cancel? I know I don’t exactly need the money, but this band is – it’s the only good thing I’ve ever done. I don’t want to fuck it up.”
Sam softens at her genuine tone. “Lena, Jack and Veronica leaving wasn’t your fault. I know Jack is your friend, but he was always going to leave to go to grad school, and Veronica left because she’s a stuck-up music snob who thought she was too good for us.”
“But –“ Sam knows her almost as well as she knows herself, and she should have expected that she’d pick up on the real cause of her distress. It’s the most prominent lesson her mother instilled in her: It’s your fault. It’s your fault. It’s always your fault.
“No buts.” Sam cuts her off, patting the cushion next to her. Reluctantly, Lena sits down and crosses her arms, and Sam continues despite her pouting. “They left because they needed to leave. It gives us an opportunity to find people who fit us better. Maybe even add some new sound, something unique. Veronica was always against us adding any synth or pop elements – now maybe we can branch out.”
Lena can’t help but continue to worry. She bites at the calloused edge of her thumb, the anxiety practically rolling off her in waves.
“Hey, you know I’m not going anywhere, right?” Sam says, nudging Lena’s shoulder with her own. “We’re the only two members of our own little ‘orphans with shitty adoptive parents who shipped them off to boarding school’ club. I just ordered jackets.”
Lena manages a weak chuckle, and looks slightly mollified.
“You didn’t really hate Veronica that much, did you?” She and Veronica had a tumultuous relationship, but Sam had never been openly hostile – sometimes she was even nice despite Veronica’s efforts to goad her.
“I was nice because you liked her. But she broke your heart.”
“She did not!” Lena protests weakly. “That was – it was mutual, for the good of the band –“
“You may have been able to fool Jack with that crap, but not me. That breakup was not mutual,” Sam says sagely. “Good riddance, I say.”
Lena sighs, laying her head on Sam’s shoulder. “You really think we’ll find replacements in time?” She knows that there’s no way of truly predicting what will happen, but right now she needs a dose of Sam’s easy confidence.
“I think we’re going to find the two best musicians in the city, get signed, and become lesbian rock icons.”
Lena snorts. Even in jest, the thought makes her feel slightly better. “What would I do without you?”
“You’d have sold your soul and become a bubblegum popstar years ago.” Sam flattens Lena’s hand and drops a few jellybeans into her palm, and Lena mindlessly raises them to her mouth before halting just in time.
“Sam, you know I don’t eat this garbage.” She frowns, staring at the beans like they’re laced with arsenic. Lena isn’t exactly stringent about her diet, but she does at least try to limit her sugar intake – Sam has no such qualms. Even at 26, she still eats like a kid.
“You used to! It was worth a try.” Sam grins, flashing her pearly white teeth.
She eats candy all day, and her smile is still nicer than mine.
“How do you still have all of your teeth?” Lena grumbles, throwing one of the jellybeans at Sam, who ducks it.
“Good enamel, I guess!” She shrugs, standing up. “Come on, let’s make some fliers. And tell J’onn we’ll be using his bar for auditions, you know how grumpy he gets.”
Is there anyone in this godforsaken city who can play an instrument?
“Lena, you can’t just glare at everyone who gets up there.” Sam grumbles, her lollipop clacking against her teeth as she shifts with boredom.
Lena continues to glare as a wiry guy takes the stage and sits down in front of the drum set. His legs move nervously up and down – how does he keep a rhythm with nervous legs like that?
“How else are they supposed to know whose band it is?” She drawls, glancing down at her list of names. Barry Allen. He’s the 16th audition they’ve seen today, and the second last on the list of drummers. We’re starting to run out of options.
“Well…your name is…sort of our name. I don’t think anyone has doubts about who runs the show.” Sam jokes, and Lena spares her a brief look of annoyance. She takes a sip of her scotch – an expensive 12-year Lagavulin, that J’onn keeps stocked specifically for her rougher days. The sweet burn of it helps to ground her after what feels like the longest day of her life.
“Whenever you’re ready.” She waves a hand in Barry’s direction, and immediately he starts up what she thinks is the sheet music they gave to him – it’s difficult to tell, because it sounds like it’s been accelerated several times over. His hands are almost a blur as he plays, and she has no idea if it’s because he’s nervous or if he’s just…like this, but either way it’s clear from the first 30 seconds of his set that he’s not the right fit.
Thankfully the speed of his playing also means that he finishes early, and Lena can usher him out with a promise to let him know their decision.
“This is going terribly.” Lena groans, dropping her forehead heavily onto her folded arms. The table shifts slightly with the force, and Lena sighs.
“I know – was that guy on a caffeine IV or something?” Sam asks, throwing her lollipop stick into the nearby trash can with impressive accuracy. “He was nuts.”
“Yeah, and that’s almost everyone on the list. What was that you said about us finding someone easily?”
“Well, there’s still two more!” Sam points out, tapping the last two names on the list.
Lena looks down at her sheet – in a loopy script under Barry’s name is written Kara Danvers – guitar!, with a large smiley face drawn next to it. Directly underneath that is Alex Danvers – drums, written in an untidy scrawl.
“Please, god, let them be half-decent.” She mutters, rubbing the bridge of her nose.
She glances around the almost-empty bar, wondering where they are. Finally she notices two women sitting at a table near the back. One is blonde, with glasses and a tight ponytail and a floral patterned jacket. She’s wearing jeans, blue converse, and a bright smile, and on the whole she looks alarmingly wholesome. Her companion is shorter, with choppy auburn hair, defined biceps, and an air of confidence. She can take a wild guess at which is which. They don’t seem to be romantic, so based on their shared last name, Lena guesses that they must be sisters.
At Lena’s sudden interest, the brunette speaks up. “Is it our turn?”
“If you’re…Alex and Kara Danvers, then yes.” Lena drawls, taking another sip of scotch. The blonde girl – Kara, Lena surmises, based on the correlation between her demeanor and the happy face drawn next to her name on the sign-up sheet – springs to her feet excitedly and promptly trips over the brightly-decorated guitar case under her chair.
Lena sighs. Great. Her sister looks the part, but this girl looks like she should be auditioning for the Disney Channel.
She’s also pretty cute, but Lena shoves that thought deep, deep down where it can never be found again.
“Shoot. Sorry, Alex –“ Kara collects herself, picking up the case and dusting her hands off on her pants. Alex shakes her head affectionately, twirling her drumsticks as she and Kara make their way to the stage.
“I assume you got the sheet music we emailed to you?” Lena asks, still struggling to get a feel for the strange pair. Her first instinct is to doubt how well she’ll suit the band, but there’s something about Kara that intrigues her.
Kara nods enthusiastically. “Oh, yeah. All good!”
Lena looks her over again – she’s not holding the sheet music, and she isn’t carrying a bag either. Is she really this unprepared?
“Did you…bring it with you?” Lena asks, an eyebrow quirked.
“Oh, no, it’s memorized. Was I…supposed to bring it?” Kara looks worried now, putting the guitar case down and pulling out her phone to hurriedly scan her email. “I didn’t think –“
“You have it completely memorized already? We sent it two days ago.” Sam blurts out, not bothering to hide the admiration in her tone. “Everyone else has been using the stands and playing from the sheet.”
“Oh!” Kara relaxes, shoving her phone into her back pocket again. “Well, we both have it memorized. Is that okay?” She’s looking directly at Lena, who is still looking down at the sign-up sheet in an attempt to hide her immediate approval. She doesn’t want it to be so obvious before Kara and her sister have even played.
“It’s fine. Whoever wants to go first, take it away.” Lena gestures at the drum kit and amps already set up, sitting back in her chair.
Alex jumps up on stage first, foregoing the stairs in favor of an impressive leap, her shoulders flexing. Sam taps Lena’s sleeve.
“She’s so cute.”
Lena points her pen threateningly, abandoning her aloof façade in favour of scolding. “Don’t you dare. No band-cest, Sam.”
“Oh, you’re one to talk, you and Veronica –“
“And look how well that turned out! Clearly it’s a bad idea –“
A throat clears on stage, and Lena and Sam both snap up to look at Alex, who’s seated behind the drum kit and waiting with an amused smile. “Should I wait, or -?”
Lena straightens up, blushing slightly. She’s glad the stage lights keep Alex from seeing the worst of it, but she can see Kara out of the corner of her eye, and she studiously avoids eye contact.
Alex gives the kit a few experimental taps and then starts up in earnest, and to Lena’s warring relief and apprehension, she’s incredible. She’s by far the best drummer they’ve seen today. Her beats are complicated but steady, and she has a confident and easy stage presence – Lena has to elbow Sam halfway through to keep her from sighing too wistfully. When Alex easily throws a drumstick in the air and catches it behind her back without missing a millisecond of the beat, she can practically feel Sam start to vibrate next to her.
“You never got this excited when Jack played.” Lena grumbles, and Sam scoffs.
“Jack wasn’t a hot woman.”
When she finishes with a flourish Sam honest-to-god claps, and as Alex starts to help Kara set up her amps she leans over to Lena.
“We have to hire them.”
“We haven’t even heard her sister play.” Lena argues weakly. She knows Alex is the only person on the list who could feasibly play with them, but Sam’s obvious thirst is worrisome. If she’s going to put together another band, she wants it to be permanent. No more flings, no more drama, and no more quitters.
Sam doesn’t seem to have the same worry – she’s frantically trying to rub the red candy colour from her teeth before Alex sees it.
Great. She’d better be able to keep it in her pants.
Kara finally finishes with her amps, and gives her guitar an experimental strum. The sound is good, and she nods happily. Lena prepares herself for this strangely preppy girl to play, but instead Kara lays her guitar against a nearby stool and starts to strip.
Kara removes the bright jacket to reveal a black button-up shirt underneath and Lena frowns, about to ask what she’s doing, until Kara turns around and removes the shirt as well.
Suddenly Lena’s vision has zeroed in on a black tank top, defined shoulders, and muscular arms. Lena can see two tattoos – a band encircling her left bicep, and an indistinct red one on her right shoulder that Lena can’t make out. The removal of the layers reveals that Kara’s jeans are actually somewhat loose and low-slung on her hips, revealing a strip of skin and what looks like the top of a pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs. And, to top it off, Kara removes her glasses and pulls the tie out of her hair. Lena has to hold back a genuine whimper as she shakes it out, letting it spill in waves around her face and over her back.
In short, Kara went from ignorably cute to painfully hot in about 15 seconds, and Lena’s stomach starts to sink as she picks her guitar back up and starts to play because she’s just as good as her sister. She hits every note, even the quick transitions that Veronica used to have trouble with, and she moves around the stage like she owns it without losing her melody. And she does it all with a charming smile, one that Lena feels frustratingly drawn to.
She can feel Sam’s smug look burning into the side of her head, but refuses to give her the satisfaction of meeting her eyes.
“What was that you were saying about no band-cest…?”
“Shut it, Arias.”
Kara finishes without breaking a sweat and smiles down on them, waiting for judgement. The transformation is sort of amazing – when she was playing, she exuded cool confidence. She weaved around the stage like she owned it, not a hint of the clumsy girl in the flowery coat and glasses evident in her demeanour. That girl and the grinning woman standing in front of her, abs slightly visible between her shirt and jeans, may as well be two entirely different people.
“That was…really good.” Lena admits, setting her pen down. She makes doubly sure to moderate her voice – it wont do to have Kara immediately aware of her stupid, ill advised attraction. “Both of you were amazing, frankly. But we’re also looking for someone who can sing backup.”
“We can both sing.” Kara offers immediately, and Alex shrugs.
“Only a little bit.” Kara admits, and Lena’s last bit of resistance dies.
They’re perfect. Great.
“Well, the only way to tell if your voices are complimentary is to play together.” Sam springs up, heading to where her bass guitar is stored.
“Sam, they don’t even know the words –“ Lena starts to protest, but it dies when she sees Kara nodding.
“I do, actually! You sent them with the music, and I practiced a few times. Just in case.”
Of course you did.
It doesn’t take long for Sam to get set up. Lena takes a bit longer – for some reason she feels nervous, and she has no idea why. She only occasionally gets nervous before shows anymore, and here she is, with a knot in her chest over singing for a cute girl.
If it wasn’t a song she knew so well, she might have been driven to distraction by Kara’s strong soprano, blending perfectly with her own smoky alto without overpowering her and accenting the lyrics with perfect clarity. Veronica had a strong voice, but she often pushed herself further than her vocal range could take in an attempt to be the more prominent singer. Kara, she can already tell, has a powerhouse voice, but she holds it back to let Lena’s sound dominate.
She also likes to make eye contact. Prolonged, intense, heart-pounding eye contact – the kind that, if directed at her in a bar, would have her slipping Kara her number or pulling her into the nearest cab.
As the last notes fade and Lena tries to get her pulse under control, she’s startled by clapping from the direction of the bar. J’onn is standing there, with a knowing grin.
“That was good, ladies. Almost good enough for me not to remind you that your rental of the space ended 20 minutes ago?” His tone has no bite to it, as usual, and Lena waves him off.
“We’ll be done in a minute, J’onn.”
“Right.” He drawls, and continues to set up for the night.
Lena turns to Kara and Alex. J’onn is right, and she knows it – they sounded amazing. To not hire them just because of a pesky attraction would be a mistake.
“Okay, you’re in. You’re easily the best we’ve seen today. Or…ever.” She admits. “We practice three times a week, I’ll email you with the details. And before you agree, I have to warn you – this band is my life. We’re serious about gigs, and we want to get signed. So if this is just a hobby for you, you should move on now.”
Alex nods, seemingly too busy trying to surreptitiously check out Sam as Sam does the same. Lena and Kara sigh at the same time, and then look at each other with long-suffering smiles. Lena clears her throat, looking away quickly.
“We’re serious. We’re in this for the long haul.” Kara says earnestly, and the words cause a strange flutter in Lena’s stomach, which she pushes away promptly.
“Great. We’re going to be practicing a lot this week in preparation for the gig, so I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll send you the address and time.”
After a brief discussion of logistics Alex and Kara gather their things and leave, Kara turning around to wave goodbye with a charming smile that Lena hates herself for wanting to see more of.
“Lena, they’re good. They’re amazing, both of them. You know they’re better than Jack and Veronica ever were.” Sam is animated, gesticulating wildly as she packs her bass away. “Alex gives us a total badass vibe, and we need an energetic stage presence like Kara. This is gonna be great.”
“You’re right. I know. You’re right.” Lena repeats, unsure whether she’s parroting Sam or trying to convince herself.
“Since you’ve accepted that, maybe you can try being nicer to them next time?” Sam jokes, snapping her guitar case shut and setting it on the floor beside the table.
“Fine, fine. I’ll put away the hardass manager routine.” Lena sighs. She can’t shake the feeling of anxiety, even with Sam so obviously excited. “I just – I don’t want to mess this up again, Sam. Last time it was my fault, and if you and Alex hook up –“
“It was not your fault.”
Lena sighs, sitting down in her chair again and scratching a messy star into the wood of the table with her pen. Sam puts an arm around her, and Lena leans her head onto her willing shoulder tiredly.
“I’m sorry, Lena. I know this all means a lot to you. I won’t hook up with Alex, okay? I swear. You matter more to me than anything else, you know that, right?”
Lena nods, and Sam offers her a Jolly Rancher – a blue one, Sam’s favourite and the only flavour that Lena will eat. They used to fight over them as teenagers. Now, it seems almost like a peace offering. With a sigh, she foregoes her usual aversion to candy and takes it, popping it into her mouth.
What am I getting myself into?
“Kara, you don’t need to bring every guitar you own. Just choose one and let’s go.”
Kara sighs as Alex jingles her car keys pointedly. Four guitars are laid out on her bed, and deciding which one to take with her to their first practice is like being asked to choose a favourite child. Each of them has a different feel, a different sound, and without knowing the Worldkillers complete song list she has no idea which she’ll need. She finally decides on the versatile Strat, packing it into the case and heading towards Alex, who is now impatiently drumming on Kara’s coffee table. After a moment’s hesitation, she doubles back and grabs her acoustic as well. Just in case.
“You’re lucky I agreed to drive you at all. I wanted to take my bike.” Alex grumbles, helping Kara set the cases gently in the trunk of her beat up Mazda. In comparison to Alex’s glittering Ducati, her car is a heap of junk, but they often need it to transport their instruments. Thankfully Lena has assured them that they have a top quality drum set in their practice space, and Alex doesn’t have to haul her kit back and forth like she did during their time with their last band.
“You just wanted to impress Handsome Sam with your sexy motorcycle.” Kara teases, and Alex glares at her with a steadily reddening face.
“I don’t – that’s not – I called her that once - okay, you know what, get out. You can walk there.”
Kara laughs, buckling her seatbelt. “It should only be this once, while my car is in the shop. You can pull up on your chick magnet next time. As if your thirst can’t be seen from outer space anyways.”
“You’re one to talk, the way you were looking at Lena?” Alex retaliates, blush still staining her cheeks.
“Lena’s gorgeous, I’d have to be blind not to notice.” Kara says, with forced nonchalance. “Too bad she’s probably straight.”
“You have the absolute worst gaydar I’ve ever seen.” Alex mutters, putting the car in reverse.
“What do you mean? Do you think she’s gay?” Kara perks up, suddenly interested.
“If the way she was looking at you was any indication, she’s a card-carrying member of the rainbow coalition. Besides, all the songs they sent us are gender neutral. Didn’t you notice when you were memorizing the lyrics?”
She had noticed, but she’d been so intent on getting the songs perfect to impress Lena that she hadn’t stopped to think about it. The possibility makes Kara’s stomach flutter.
Not that she’ll act on it – sleeping with the lead singer of the band she literally just joined sounds like a recipe for disaster. But god, the thought is tempting. Lena really is one of the most beautiful people Kara has ever seen. She was floored from the moment she walked into the bar and saw her idly doodling on a piece of paper, biting at her thumb and clearly not paying attention to the abysmal guitar player on the stage. She’s always had a weakness for dark-haired curvy women, and Lena has both in spades.
The way she’d crossed her arms when Kara was playing, making her chest stand out under her leather jacket, and her thighs spread out on the chair…and her voice, the way her red-painted lips wrapped around each word, her green eyes connecting with Kara’s as the electricity of the music flowed between them -
Alex interrupts her, snapping her fingers in front of Kara’s face. “Alright, co-pilot, where are we going?”
Shaking out of her distracting thoughts, she types the address Lena gave her into the GPS, and frowns when it directs them out of the city. It’s thankfully only a 20 minute drive, since Kara lives near the edge where the rent is cheaper, but she wasn’t expecting to need to leave the downtown area. Their drive takes them through the valley and towards the waterfront, and as the houses get steadily nicer Kara gets more and more confused.
Where the heck is this place?
When they finally pull up to a sprawling beachfront bungalow, parking Alex’s car in front of a three-wide garage, Kara almost doesn’t want to get out.
“Are you sure we have the right place?” She asks, and Alex climbs out of the car to look around. She points at the van on the other side of the driveway – it’s a shiny black windowless number, and it bears a red and blue mural of various instruments and the band’s name.
“Looks like it.”
She follows Alex up the cobblestoned front path and knocks nervously on the door. After a few seconds, she hears a familiar voice from the other side.
“If it’s Alex and Kara, it’s open! We’re downstairs!”
Sam’s voice pitches in a few seconds later. “If it’s anyone else, fuck off!” Laughter follows, and Kara feels a bit better. Easing the door open, she has to fight to keep her curiosity in check.
What’s she doing running a small-time band when she can afford to live here?
She isn’t sure what she was expecting Lena’s décor to be, but the reality still comes as a surprise. It’s a strange mix of modern and eclectic. The dark flooring, the sleek light fixtures, black curtains, and open concept design all indicate a sort of cold and impersonal aesthetic. But the furniture and decoration – plush couches, soft lamps, several large and untamed houseplants, and framed posters on the walls – all point to a warm and comfortable vibe. The kitchen features gleaming stainless steel appliances and stark white marble counters, but it’s accented by colourful hand towels and bowls of fruit and an apron hanging on a hook that reads ‘droppin’ beets’, with cartoon purple vegetables arranged on a musical staff. The pun makes Kara laugh, and Alex looks at her strangely.
“What’s so funny?”
Kara shrugs, not quite ready to share this tiny insight into Lena’s personality, and leans closer to get a better look at the posters – Garbage, the Cranberries, Joan Jett, and Heart feature prominently in the living room alone. Kara smiles at Lena’s obvious all-female musical inspirations.
Maybe she is gay.
Deciding that it’s time to stop snooping, she follows Alex towards the nearby stairs. Lena’s house is a dichotomy that Kara doesn’t quite understand yet, but it makes her terribly curious. She wonders, not for the first time since they met, what her bedroom looks like.
The basement is yet another layer of what Kara is realizing is a very complicated story. It’s sprawling, with a surprisingly high ceiling and bright hardwood flooring. Near the back is a huge sectional couch, sitting beside a surprisingly extensive stage setup. Five guitars of varying value sit on stands lined up against the wall, and on the stage itself are a few mics and a drum kit even bigger than Alex’s, bearing the band’s logo. A few music festival posters are set up on the walls, and Kara can see ‘Lena and the Worldkillers’ among the list of bands on the closest one. To the left is a windowed room, and she notes a mic and a mixing board as well as several monitors arranged on a large desk.
She has her own mixing room?
“This is a pretty serious setup.” Alex says, already heading over to where Lena and Sam sit on stools at a classy-looking home bar in the corner. Kara trails after her, trying to curb her awe.
“You can thank my dead father for that. He left me the house, much to the annoyance of my mother. It was our summer home.” Lena drawls, leaning her elbows back against the bar. Kara’s eyes are drawn immediately to her hips, flaring out under her waist like an hourglass.
She tears her eyes away, thankful that nobody seems to have noticed her distraction until she sees Sam levelling her with an amused and knowing look. Kara blushes at being caught out, but soon enough Sam’s attention is drawn away by Alex’s arms as she reaches over the bar to help herself to a few fingers of whiskey at Lena’s invitation.
“Did you build this studio yourself?” Kara asks, trying to direct the conversation away from any dangerous territory. Lena nods, looking pleased at Kara’s interest.
“He also left me a small trust fund, most of which my mother managed to keep away from me. But I got some of it.”
“So you’re a trust fund baby?” Alex jokes, and Lena laughs easily.
“I was, yes. But most of it is gone now, to pay for school and getting the band started. Thankfully I don’t pay for the house, but my money isn’t exactly infinite.” Compared to Kara’s tiny apartment and crappy barista job, Lena is still living large, but Kara keeps that thought to herself.
Lena seems warmer, here. More relaxed. Her smiles reach her eyes, and while she’s still a bit stiff and overly professional, she’s much friendlier than she was at their audition. The change is surprising, but welcome.
“You guys ready to jam?” Sam asks, finishing her drink and sliding off the stool. Her legs are so long that she barely has to put any effort in, since her feet almost touch the floor – Lena, on the other hand, has to scoot off adorably and jump the few inches to the ground. A worryingly tight, affectionate feeling takes over Kara’s chest, and she shoves it down.
No crushing on Lena. No crushing on Lena. No –
Lena brushes by her on the way to the stage, leaving the barest hint of a light perfume in her wake, and Kara feels a sense of inevitability about the way her stomach flips.
She sighs inwardly. Shit.
Alex takes a seat behind the drum kit and gives it a few experimental beats. The sound quality in the basement is great – it’s deep without having an echo. Kara grabs her guitar, and smiles when she sees Lena pick up a Les Paul from her collection. She’s been wondering how the sound contrast might complement the difference in their vocal ranges, and clearly Lena has thought about it as well.
By the end of practice, she comes to the conclusion that she was right in her initial assessment - their voices pair perfectly. Lena’s voice is smooth, hitting low notes that Kara’s own higher range can’t reach. It wraps around her ears like velvet, enhanced by her captivating stage presence. Lena somehow manages to convey both vulnerability and sheer, brain-melting sensuality in her voice and movements, and there’s something undefinably sexy about her hands and the way they move over the strings. She only plays the simple base melody so that Kara can take care of the complicated riffs and transitions, but she’s definitely skilled. Kara finds herself drawn to her, even as she plays her own parts.
She’s incredibly thankful for her good memory, because focusing on much of anything that isn’t how beautiful Lena looks when she’s lost herself in the music would be extremely difficult without it.
As they start to pack up, Sam casually speaks up. “So, usually after Tuesday practice we order pizza and hang out. Sometimes we play Halo.“ She says it to both of them, but Kara gets the impression that the clear invitation was more for Alex than anyone else. Lena is clearly trying not to glare at her, and failing spectacularly.
As much as Kara would love to spend more time with her, she doesn’t want to overstay her welcome and make her uncomfortable – she gets the idea that Lena is a fairly private person, and having near-strangers in her private space for so long is probably a bit overwhelming. Before Alex can accept, Kara cuts in.
“That’s really nice of you to offer, but Alex and I actually have somewhere to be. But definitely next Tuesday?” She looks to Lena and sees her visibly sag with relief, and knows she made the right decision. Alex looks at her with confused annoyance, but Kara ignores her.
“Of course, next week.” Lena gives Kara a grateful smile, and it’s absolutely worth Alex’s irritation. “We’ll see you for practice on Friday?”
“We’ll be here.”
For the next practice, Lena seems to have prepared herself much better for the possibility of guests. There are cold beers and nice whiskey waiting for when they finish running through the new songs that Alex and Kara have been memorizing, and two hours later they’re all lying or lounging in various positions on the sectional, playing I’ve Never like a bunch of teenagers. Sam suggested it as a ‘getting to know each other’ game, and Lena agreed with surprisingly little argument - “When you’ve known her as long as I have, you learn when to pick your battles. She’s more stubborn than I am, sometimes.”
“Okay, Alex, your turn.” Kara says, picking at the label of her beer bottle.
“Okay. Um…I’ve never…” Alex looks thoughtful, drumming her fingers on her glass of rye and coke. “I’ve never…been skinny dipping.” Kara, Lena, and Sam all take a drink, and Alex raises her eyebrows at Kara.
“You’ve been skinny dipping?”
“You haven’t?” Kara retorts, and Alex throws a guitar pick from the coffee table at her.
“We’ll have to fix that sometime.” Sam says with a smirk, and Lena elbows her so hard that she almost chokes on her beer. Alex blushes deep crimson, shifting abruptly to a sitting position on the couch.
“It’s your turn, Sam.” Lena says pointedly, and Sam sticks her tongue out in retaliation, rubbing the sore spot on her ribs.
Each drink Kara finishes makes the world a little softer. The slight awkwardness of new acquaintanceship fades, and each of them gets more relaxed – Alex laughs more easily and flirts more openly with Sam, who flirts back with surprising clarity. Lena eases up from policing their back-and-forth, instead relaxing into the cushions beside Kara.
Four drinks in Kara slings her arm over the back of the couch without thinking, and Lena settles so close to her that their skin almost touches. She can practically feel the tipsy heat of her, can feel the tickle of the wispy hairs that have escaped from Lena’s messy bun brushing the soft skin of her forearm when she leans her head back to laugh. When Lena pulls the tie from her hair and lets it spill over her back instead, Kara has to make a concerted effort not to play with it.
And of course, as everyone gets steadily more drunk, the questions begin to tilt – as they always do – towards the sexual.
“I’ve never…had sex in a car.” Kara suggests, grinning when Lena and Alex both drink. “Oooh! I knew about Alex, but you, Lena?”
Lena grins, running a hand through her hair. “I had a rebellious phase in college, and my ex had a muscle car that pissed off my mother. I…might have let her have her way with me in the driveway on Thanksgiving purely for the drama.”
Kara has several conflicting reactions to that sentence.
The first is a sort of thrill, and a feeling of relief. Her. So she is into women. But then the full sentence sinks in and Kara gapes, genuinely shocked at the confession and trying desperately to pretend that she doesn’t suddenly have a vivid mental image of Lena with her legs spread in the back of a Camaro.
Sam bursts into peals of laughter. Lena laughs with her, sloshing some of her beer onto her pants, and Kara blinks herself back to reality.
“Oh, god, she was so mad, do you remember, Sam?”
“I thought she was going to have a stroke.” Sam giggles, leaning into Alex.
“Does your mother not approve of you dating women?” Alex asks, managing to keep upright against Sam’s weight. Lena shakes her head, and goosebumps erupt along Kara’s arm at the tickle of her hair.
“God, no. She said that year that she’d rather see me die alone than bring another woman home.” Lena says it nonchalantly, grinning like it’s a joke, but Kara senses pain underneath. It shines through for only a moment as Lena takes a slightly shaky sip of her drink, but Lena’s features smooth again almost instantly, and she points to Alex.
“Your turn again.”
The questions go around again, and Kara learns that Lena smoked weed once and hated it, but kept pipes in her room to annoy her mom. She learns that Lena has had sex in a folding chair at the beach (“You’d think that the chair would keep you from getting sand in places, but you’d be wrong”), and that she dislikes traditional dinner dates because of a few too many forced setups with men. She absorbs each tiny fact, logs away each drink taken and the small, piecemeal stories that sometimes accompany them, letting each one expand her limited understanding of Lena Luthor.
Finally they each reach their drink limit, and Kara lies on the long part of the couch with Lena lying the opposite way, their heads meeting in the middle. Sam passes out almost immediately on the smaller part of the sectional, her long legs curled up under her, and snores gently. Alex curls up on the huge armchair, and Kara lies still, waiting for sleep to come.
Clearly Lena has trouble sleeping too, because she breaks the silence with a whisper.
“I can’t believe they both fell asleep down here. I have five bedrooms.”
Kara snorts. “I think they just wanted to fall asleep in the same room.”
“I think you’re right.” Lena agrees, sounding resigned. They lapse into silence again, and Kara feels the urge to keep Lena talking, to take this unexpected oppourtunity to learn more.
“So, why are you still here?” She asks, shifting slightly so that she can see Lena’s face. It’s illuminated by the green and red power lights of the surround system below the nearby mounted TV, and Kara can see that her eyebrows are furrowed.
Kara clarifies. “You could go upstairs and sleep in your room. Why are you down here on the couch?”
There’s a pause, and for a moment Kara fears that she pushed too far. But finally, Lena answers. “I suppose it seemed…lonely to sleep up there, all by myself. When everyone is down here.”
“That makes sense.”
“Besides, it’s a bonding experience.” Lena continues, sounding like she’s justifying it to herself as much as to Kara. “When we do tours or travelling shows, we’re going to have to share space.”
“Mmm. That’s true.”
They lie in silence for a few minutes, Kara thinking over the serendipitous events of the last few days. She and Alex had come across the flyer for the Worldkillers by accident – their old band, Supercrew, split amicably a few weeks ago when Winn got a full time job as an I.T. specialist and James decided to focus on his photography. She and Alex had been to a few auditions separately, but none had stuck. Nobody had been looking for a guitarist and a drummer at the same time, and quite honestly, Kara would rather not be in a band than be in one without her sister.
Alex had noticed the poster on a message board at a bus stop, of all places, and the fact that they were auditioning guitar and drums at the same time had felt like fate. It helped that Alex had seen them play at a club downtown once, and she thought that, quote, “the bassist was hot as fuck”. Kara laughs quietly at the memory, and Lena turns her head at the sound.
“Nothing.” Kara says, still smiling. “Just…thank you, for hiring us. I feel like this is gonna be good.”
“Yeah.” Lena replies quietly. “Yeah, me too.”
It feels like only a few moments later when Kara wakes up with a stiff back and a dry mouth, and when she turns her head to stretch out the crick in it, she finds herself face to face with a sleeping Lena. They fell asleep with their heads side by side, and clearly neither of them shifted much in the night. Lena’s features are smooth, her mouth slightly open and her breathing even. Her eyeliner is smudged, and Kara is pretty sure she probably has morning breath. She’s beautiful, and Kara sighs.
So much for no crushing.
She looks around the basement - Alex is still curled up in the armchair, and Sam is nowhere to be found. Lena stirs, her smooth features morphing into a frown, and Kara gets a whiff of bacon. She can hear 80s music coming from upstairs, and the distant hiss of a frying pan.
“What time is it?” Lena mumbles, her voice husky.
Kara glances at her phone – 8% battery, great – and replies.
Lena groans as loud footsteps thunder down the stairs and Sam appears in the stairwell, spatula in hand.
“It can’t be 11 – because it’s PANCAKE O’CLOCK!” She yells excitedly, before turning abruptly and bounding back up with more energy than anyone should have after a Saturday night of drinking.
At the promise of food, Kara leaps up from the couch, and Lena glares at her adorably for dislodging her comfortable position. She slowly stands up herself, stretching her arms up so that a sliver of her stomach peeks out under her shirt, and rubs her eyes. “You’re far too energetic for someone with a hangover.” She mutters, heading to the small bathroom in the corner. Kara hears the sink run, and the sound of Lena splashing water on her face.
“Pancakes!” Kara yells in place of an apology, and she races up the stairs just as Alex starts to wake up. Upstairs, Sam is standing at the stove with two frying pans on the go. A French press full of coffee, a heaping plate of bacon, and four glasses of juice are already waiting on the breakfast bar. Suddenly, Kara completely understands her sister’s crush on this woman – Kara’s stomach rumbles and at that moment, Sam in a pair of too-short sweatpants that are clearly Lena’s and standing at the counter with a warm smile, soft eyes, and platter of pancakes is probably the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen.
“Do I smell chocolate chips?” Kara says excitedly, sitting down and snagging a piece of bacon. It’s crispy, just the way she likes it, and she wiggles happily as she chews.
“And bananas.” Sam winks, adding a few more pancakes to the growing pile staying warm on a platter in the oven.
“This is the best band ever.” Kara declares, and as she pours a mug of coffee and stirs several creams and sugars in, a fresh-faced Lena slides onto the stool next to her.
She’s tired and clearly grumpy, some of her eyeliner remaining stubbornly at the corners of her eyes. She’s still wearing her clothes from last night and her hair is thrown up in a messy ponytail, and Kara amends her previous thought. Sam holding food is pretty great, but half-awake grumpy morning Lena is somehow better.
Lena snags a mug for herself and holds it out expectantly, and Kara fills it for her, leaving room for additions just in case. Lena continues to hold the mug out, eyebrow raised, and Kara chuckles, filling it the rest of the way.
“Just wait until we go on a tour, and you have to wake up 6am and sit in a van with her and her chipper morning self.” Lena deadpans, taking a large sip of the black coffee and groaning in pleasure. She sets the mug down and crosses her arms on top of the table, laying her forehead on them. “You’ll change your tune.”
“Why is it so bright here? Don’t you have blinds in this place?” Alex grumbles, emerging from the stairs and slumping forward on her stool. She rubs her neck, taking a big gulp of juice and stealing the coffee pot. “Or bigger mugs?”
“Good morning to you too, sunshine.” Sam snarks, sliding a warm plate in front of her, and Alex immediately sits up and loses her grumpy demeanor.
“Thanks, Sam. Um, these look really good.” She says, pouring syrup over the stack, and Kara presses her lips together to keep in her shit-eating grin.
She’s so whipped.
Sam gives Lena and Kara a plate each, Kara’s heaped with both banana and chocolate chip and Lena’s with a stack of plain pancakes. Kara digs in immediately – she cuts them into bits, piles bacon on top, and pours syrup over the whole mess. Lena, on the other hand, pulls two small bowls towards her that Kara hadn’t noticed before, one filled with lemon slices and the other with what looks like white sugar. She gently squeezes the lemon onto her breakfast, sprinkles sugar on top, and cuts them carefully. She smiles happily at the first bite, and gives Sam a thumbs-up.
Kara watches the process, flabbergasted, a messy mouthful of chocolate, banana, bacon, and syrup suspended over her plate.
“What?” Lena asks, noticing Kara’s look of confusion.
“What are you doing?”
“Eating…breakfast?” Lena’s eyebrow quirks, and Kara shakes her head.
“No, I mean – did you just put lemon on your pancakes?” Kara clarifies, still trying to reconcile the cuteness of a makeup-free, slightly disheveled Lena cutting her breakfast into neat triangles and the absolute travesty of what she’s done to Kara’s favorite breakfast food.
“Oh. Yes, I did. I prefer it to…whatever it is you’re eating.” Lena says, grinning, with a pointed look at Kara’s crime scene of a plate. “It’s French.”
“Pancakes and syrup belong together. They’re soulmates. Your way is weird!”
“It is not!” Lena protests. “Here, try it.” She spears a neat segment onto her own fork, and holds it up for Kara to take. Kara, unthinking, leans forward and takes the bite directly off the fork. She realizes as her lips hit the metal the extent of her blunder. Lena’s eyes are slightly wide, her cheeks flushed as Kara essentially eats from her hand, and as she pulls back with her mouth full of (admittedly delicious) pancake she can’t hold back the thought – Lena’s mouth had been on the fork just a few seconds earlier. When Lena goes back to using the fork afterwards, putting another bite into her own mouth, it’s Kara’s turn to blush.
Good going, Danvers. Way to make it weird.
Thankfully, Sam comes to the rescue. “So, Kara, what do you think of Lena’s method?”
“It’s…not terrible.” Kara admits. It does taste good – it’s sweet and tart, and much lighter than Kara’s version. The slight tension of the moment passes without incident as Lena laughs.
“Well, your way is terrible.” Lena replies, and then quirks an eyebrow. “You have syrup on your shirt.”
By the time their gig rolls around, Lena feels surprisingly ready. They’ve been becoming closer as a group over the last two weeks, and she has to admit that Sam was right. Kara and Alex are a better fit, both musically and as friends, than Jack and Veronica ever were. She likes to think that they’ve sounded increasingly great with each subsequent practice session, but tonight is the first real test of their on-stage chemistry. It’s a decent crowd, too – the venue is a well-known bar downtown, famous both for its quality live music and for the later bookings that usually come from playing there.
She watches as Kara makes sure her guitar is properly tuned, adjusting some of the amps, and sighs.
Now, if I could just not be attracted to her.
When Kara turned up to the sound check wearing faded jeans, a loose white t-shirt, doc martens and a black leather blazer with a small rainbow button on the lapel bearing the word ‘top’, it took absolutely everything Lena had to tamp down her reaction. Kara is clearly wearing contacts, her glasses nowhere to be found, and her hair is down in styled waves. Kara idly runs her fingers through it, and Lena’s knees feel weak. She turns her attention to her own guitar. It’s already perfectly tuned, but she needs something to do with her hands.
“Nice button.” Sam jokes, sitting on a speaker and cleaning her bass strings. “Very direct.”
“Thanks! I got it at Pride. They hand out stickers to everyone – top, bottom, switch, butch, femme, stuff like that, and I had mine made into a button.” Kara says, cheerfully oblivious to the inferno raging in Lena's abdomen at the implications. Most of the blood in her body is emphatically not going to her brain, which is on autopilot as images of Kara living up to the button's promise flicker through her head.
“I hate that button.” Alex complains, crossing her arms. “When you wear it, I have to listen to people hitting on you, and it’s the worst.”
“I can’t help that I’m so charming, Alex.” Kara jokes, and Lena finally snaps out of it, clearing her throat.
“If we could focus on the show? Please?” Lena asks pointedly, and Sam rolls her eyes good-naturedly. They finish up their sound test, and soon enough they’re waiting in the green room behind the stage for their set to begin. Sam and Alex share a chair in the corner, laughing at a video on Sam’s phone.
Lena sits on the ratty couch with her eyes closed, breathing deep and tracing her fingers over her palm rhythmically. It’s a ritual she’s done before every performance, all the way back to the music recitals of her childhood, when her hands threatened to shake under Lillian’s front-row scrutiny.
Kara sits beside her, and rather than irritating her, the warmth of her presence actually makes Lena feel slightly better.
“What are you doing?”
“Breathing.” Lena says opening her eyes and hitting Kara with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. Kara huffs a laugh, nudging her with a shoulder.
“I mean, the thing with your hands. Is it a nerves thing?”
“Yes.” Lena responds, flexing them mindlessly. “It calms me down.”
“Are you nervous?”
“A bit. Aren’t you?”
“Sometimes.” Kara nods, leaning forward and bracing her elbows on her knees. The position accentuates her shoulders, and it’s strangely attractive. “But not tonight. Tonight I know we’re gonna be amazing.”
“Oh, do you?”
“Yup. You’ll see.”
Kara is right, in the end. The show is incredible.
Their sound is synchronized and clear. She and Kara harmonize perfectly, and small improvised flourishes – like Kara coming over to share Lena’s mic for certain lines, playing face to face and grinning at each other, their strumming hands inches away but not missing a note – come naturally without interrupting the flow of their songs. Kara engages the crowd between songs, making them laugh and amping them up, playing up her persona and jumping around the stage or reaching out to touch their outstretched hands. Sam seems to feed off her energy as well, and together they tease Lena and Alex into responding drily to their bad jokes. The two-on-two dynamic, and their high-energy songs, seem to be a hit. At the end of the set Kara throws a pick into the crowd, and a cute redhead jumps excitedly when she catches it, giggling with her friends.
It’s the kind of vibe at a show that Lena has always wanted to achieve, and Kara does it effortlessly.
As they all spill into the green room Kara scoops Lena into a crushing, sweaty hug, lifting her feet off the ground, and in her adrenaline high Lena can’t help but hug back, laughing into Kara’s neck.
“That was fucking amazing! Did you guys feel that?” Sam yells, raising her arms and hitting the top of the doorframe as she enters the room. “They loved us! We’ve never had a crowd that good before.”
“We’ve never had a performance that good before.” Lena adds, and Alex enters last, beaming at Sam.
They end up with two new gigs, an offer for 50% off on a new band photoshoot, and about 250 new followers on Instagram, according to Sam. Lena doesn’t bother with social media, but apparently Sam has been posting pictures of their practices all week, and she insists on posting a post-show band selfie for their new fans. They’re all beaming and slightly sweaty, and Sam leans in at the last moment and presses her lips to Alex’s cheek, and Lena sees notifications popping up on Sam’s phone almost immediately.
Lena feels too excited and full of energy to go home just yet. Sam and Alex grab drinks and head into the crowd to watch the next band play, and Lena sits at the bar, Kara trailing behind her. Before Kara can sit down, someone touches her shoulder – it’s the cute redhead from the crowd, and she’s holding two beers. Kara smiles, charming and easy, and Lena’s stomach sinks.
It’s fine. She can flirt with whoever she wants.
Lena orders two fingers of whiskey, slams it in a mouthful, and orders another.
To her surprise, Kara slides onto the stool next to her a minute later, drinkless and alone.
“Wow, you’re going hard, huh?” She jokes, nodding towards Lena’s second empty glass and motioning to the bartender. “I’ll have a beer, and another of whatever she’s having.”
Lena smiles, confused. “You don’t have to buy me a drink.”
“I know, but I want to.” Kara says, shrugging and putting a 20 down on the bar. “We sounded amazing, huh?”
“I suppose we did.”
Kara is quiet for a second, fingers drumming nervously on the wooden bar top. Finally she talks, and it comes out in a rush, as if she’s been holding it in for a while.
“Your voice is incredible.”
Lena scoffs, waving her off and deflecting the compliment instinctually. “It’s nowhere near your range.”
“Well, you can’t go as high as I can, true. But do you know how hard it is to be a low contralto? You can belt low notes that I can’t even dream of.” Kara says earnestly, and despite her almost soul-deep aversion to compliments, the words make Lena feel warm.
“My mother always told me that ‘alto’ is just another word for a woman who can’t sing.”
“Your mother is a bog witch.”
Lena snorts into her drink, the whiskey burning her nose as she laughs genuinely. “Oh, I’d love to see you say that to her face.”
“I would!” Kara insists, taking a sip of her beer and looking pleased as punch to have made Lena laugh.
“I don’t doubt it.”
Kara smiles, putting a gentle hand on Lena’s arm, and her pulse stutters. She remembers the situation, how this isn’t just harmless flirting with a beautiful woman at a bar but part of her livelihood – Kara and Alex could mean the difference between obscurity and actually making something of herself. She can’t ruin it, even if Kara’s blue eyes are making her heart dance in her chest.
“I don’t date band members.” Lena blurts, moving her arm in the guide of taking a slow drink.
Lena clears her throat, trying to make herself clear without sounding cruel. “I don’t…like in-band dating. It sort of split us up the last time, and I’d really rather that not happen again. We have something good here. Right?”
“I agree!” Kara nods, sitting up straighter and moving slightly further away. “Yeah, totally. We all work together so closely, it’s like a recipe for disaster, right?”
Even though this was the resolution Lena was hoping for – Kara is understanding, and courteous, and in agreement – she can’t help but feel slightly disappointed.
“Can I still buy you a drink?”
Lena laughs, trying to shake off the feeling. “Yes, you can.” She raises the glass, taking a breath. “To friendship?”
With only a moment’s hesitation, Kara raises her own and taps them together. “Friendship. And cool band names.”
Lena giggles, and takes a sip to cover it.
Good. That’s done now. No more problems.
And then her stomach flutters when Kara takes her blazer off to reveal her arms, and Lena can almost see her bra through her thin white shirt, and she has to resist the urge to run her finger over the tattoo on Kara’s bicep.
Well, Lena thinks as Kara turns to watch the new band on stage and Lena’s eyes zero in on the absolutely biteable expanse of her muscular neck, there’s no harm in looking. Right?