“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?
Man, I’m so into this AU and I can’t wait to show you guys the rest. Come scream about our lesbian icons on tumblr @jazzfordshire
Also: the ‘top’ button is inspired by stickers they actually do give out at Toronto Pride. Kara is extra and made hers into a button. We know this, and we love her.
It’s here!!! Sorry for the wait, everyone. Hope it’s worth it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Okay, Lena, put your hand on Kara’s shoulder,” Eve says, crouching and fiddling with the focus on her camera. Kara grins up at Lena, wiggling her shoulder enticingly, and Lena gingerly sets her hand there.
The four of them are arranged on a makeshift set, Kara sitting on a patched couch with her legs braced in a wide stance and Lena perched on the back with her feet on the cushions. Sam is lying on her back with her face tilted towards the camera and her long legs slung over the arm of the couch, and Alex sits on the floor with her back leaning against Sam’s torso. Eve, the enthusiastic photographer who offered them a deal at their last show, seems eager to lean into their chemistry – she immediately positioned Sam and Alex close to each other, she’s been slowly inching Lena and Kara together for the last few minutes. Lena is happy that they’re getting a discount on getting sorely-needed band photos, but the more the photographer insists that they touch each other, the more her attention wanes.
It doesn’t help that Kara looks incredible in low-slung jeans and a t-shirt with a deep enough V that Lena can almost see the shiny pendant of her long necklace where it sits against her sternum. They took a few shots of Kara with her leather jacket on, but as soon as Eve saw her toned arms, she insisted they show them off. Lena felt a twinge of something she doesn’t want to acknowledge at the way Eve’s hands lingered on Kara’s shoulders after an overly long period of guided repositioning, and she’s glad Eve is now back behind the camera.
And now Lena is touching those toned arms – she can feel the muscle under her fingers as Kara shifts, feel the heat of her skin through the thin material of her shirt. Her eyes fall to a spot on Kara’s shoulderblade, where she saw the vague outline of a tattoo the day she auditioned. I wonder what it is?
“Lena, could you look up at me?”
Lena’s head snaps up and she clears her throat, pointedly ignoring Sam’s quiet snicker. “Sorry.”
They take a few more shots on the couch, and then move to a graffitied wall outside to take some artful photos of everyone in various states of leaning. They also split up to do individual portrait shots - Lena’s turn out serious and intense, the light making her eyes seem almost translucently green. Kara’s mostly feature her comfortable and casual, in various phases of laughter. Eve also slyly suggests pair photos – each of them gets a few shots with one other band member. Lena and Alex’s time goes the fastest, and Lena leaves it feeling a bit awkward, but the others go so well that Lena can admit it was a good idea.
Alex hams it up with Kara, and gets some pictures with Sam that practically sizzle with tension. Kara and Sam feed off of each other’s energy, doing goofy pose after goofy pose – Eve’s small studio has several props, and they immediately pull out an old-fashioned pink bike, Kara riding while Sam sits on the handlebars. Eve gets fantastic action shots of them, hair flying and laughing so hard that they almost tip the bike.
When it comes to her turn, she and Sam manage a few pictures that capture their friendship – one in particular, with Sam perching her elbow on Lena’s head and Lena looking up at her with murder in her eyes, is Sam’s personal favourite.
Finally all that’s left is for Lena to pose with Kara, and she’s at a bit of a loss. She’s been trying to keep somewhat of a distance from Kara for a reason, and now that she’s being forced to abandon that, she feels unprepared. Luckily, Kara has no such problem.
“Lena, get on my back!”
Before she can think twice, Kara has picked her up. She’s clinging to Kara’s shoulders and Kara’s hands are hooked under her legs and Lena’s entire pelvis is pressed against her lower back –
She has no idea whether Eve gets anything good out of it, in the end. She’s completely distracted by trying not to visibly squirm as Kara hitches her further up to get a better grip, only succeeding in pushing Lena even harder against her. At one point Kara turns her head to say something and their eyes meet, their foreheads touch briefly, and with the position and Kara’s hands likely leaving finger-shaped marks on her thighs Lena has to stifle the soft, whimpery noise that threatens to spill out.
After what feels like an eternity, Kara lets her go and she slides to the ground on shaky legs – Eve takes a few more shots of them leaning against the wall while Lena is still trying to control the throbbing between her thighs, and then suddenly it’s done. In a blink they’re back in the studio and the rest of the band is huddled around Eve’s laptop, choosing their favourite photos. Lena hovers in the back, breathing deeply through her nose and nodding noncommittally whenever her opinion is called for.
This has been, without a doubt, the most emotionally taxing afternoon she’s had in years.
Finally, finally, the session ends with an agreement for Eve to come to their next gig and take some candids. As they head back to the van Sam taps steadily on her phone, and a few moments later Lena gets a tag notification from Instagram – evidently Sam has already posted one of their new group shots. Opening the app, she sees that it’s one of the couch poses – specifically, the one that features Lena blatantly staring at Kara’s back with obvious thirst.
I’m going to kill her.
Underneath, Sam’s caption reads ‘Say hello to your official new Worldkillers! We’ve got some great stuff coming up with @kdanvers and @agentalex”. She follows it up with a rainbow emoji and a music note, and already the post has a few likes.
“Hey, you tagged us!” Kara exclaims, grinning at the screen. “I love that picture. And…I have 6 new followers. That was fast.”
“Agent Alex?” Lena asks, holding up her phone towards the older Danvers with her eyebrow raised. “Are you secretly CIA?”
“No.” Alex deadpans, elbowing a giggling Kara. “Kara made the account for me. She joked that I only made it to see what she was posting.”
“Like my very own FBI agent!” Kara teases, nudging her with a shoulder.
Lena herself doesn’t use social media much outside of keeping track of the music world, but as they pile into the van her fingers suddenly itch with the desire to pull out her phone and look up Kara’s account.
She resists the urge until she’s safely home, curled up in bed and very much alone. Most of Kara’s pictures are typical – artsy shots of the National City skyline, pictures of her guitars or various meals, goofy selfies with Alex and a few other friends that Lena assumes are her old bandmates. But, as Lena discovers after a few scrolls, Kara also occasionally likes to take pictures at the gym. In the mirror. In sports bras, and very little else.
Ordinarily, Lena would scoff at the vanity of posting gym photos on social media. She herself hasn’t stepped foot in a gym since college; and god knows that if she did, the last thing she’d want to do after working out is post a picture of her sweaty face.
But Kara…pulls it off.
Granted, her face isn’t usually in the pictures. Instead it’s her stomach, or her biceps, or her back, or god forbid her flexing shoulders. She stares at each one, her face lit by her phone screen in the darkness of her bedroom, until she reaches one that makes her entire body heat up. Kara stands in the mirror, her face obscured by her hand holding the phone and her other arm lifted above her head, grabbing at the back of her neck. The position makes her abs flex slightly; but the part that makes Lena squeeze her phone so tightly that her knuckles turn white is that her basketball shorts have ridden low. Low enough that the V-shaped muscle of her pelvis is revealed, and Lena is overwhelmed with the desire to run her tongue along the hard line, down and down until -
This was a terrible idea.
Before she can do something horrifically embarrassing like accidentally liking Kara’s photos from four months ago, she exits the app and throws her phone across the bed. Her pulse thrums in her chest, the throbbing making itself known in other places as well. She rubs her thighs together, the room suddenly seeming stiflingly hot. Despite throwing her phone out of reach, the pictures are still seared into her memory – her fingers make their way almost mindlessly towards her waistband as she flicks through each one like a rolodex. When they brush the sensitive skin below her bellybutton, she freezes.
Shit. Don’t go there – do not go there.
With what feels like a gargantuan effort, she removes her hand, clenching the sheets instead. If she lets herself slide down that hill, she’ll never be able to go back. Looking Kara in the eyes without making an idiot of herself is hard enough as it is – she has to lock it down.
Okay. Cold shower it is.
Rocking back and forth on her heels, Kara takes a deep breath before raising her hand and knocking three times on Lena’s front door. The sound is deep – the door is a solid wood, and she’s not sure the sound will carry to the basement, where she assumes Lena and Sam are. Her finger hovers over the doorbell, before she retracts it. Will ringing so soon after knocking seem rude? God, what’s wrong with me?
Sam had texted her about an hour ago, inviting her to come hang out and help with songwriting. Since Alex is at work, Kara decided to take her newly-fixed car to the coast and hang out with them by herself – mostly, she can admit, because even after seeing her at their latest gig two days ago, she sort of misses Lena. She still isn’t comfortable enough to just walk into Lena’s house unannounced, and she’s just considering texting Sam to come open the door when it swings open and Sam herself almost walks right into her.
“Kara! Fancy seeing you here.” She grins, slipping through the threshold and past Kara in a smooth movement. “I have to go, but Lena’s downstairs! She’s getting frustrated with the song, so get down there and help her out, will you?” And with that she winks, getting into her car and backing it down the driveway.
Kara blinks a few times, her eyes shifting from Sam’s retreating car to the wide-open door. Sam leaving so suddenly is unexpected, but she can’t say she’s disappointed to get some time with just Lena. She steps inside, closing the door behind her and taking a moment to prepare herself. She breathes in the now-familiar smell of the space – she isn’t sure if Lena uses a specific candle or air freshener or if the whole house just smells like her, but it’s becoming one of her favourite things. The place is quiet, sun streaming in through the huge bay windows in the living room and illuminating the still-perplexing design and decoration.
She hears a loud sigh from the stairs, and finally she makes her way down to the studio.
Lena sits curled up in an armchair, a guitar lying on the coffee table in front of her and a notebook in her hands. She’s chewing the end of her pen, frowning at the page like it’s been withholding information. Kara’s heart skips at the sight of her – she’s in soft leggings, an oversized Misfits tank top, and large thick-rimmed glasses. Her long hair is down and slightly messy, like she’s been running her fingers through it, and she has a big pair of wireless headphones over her ears.
She doesn’t look up from the page as Kara descends the stairs, scribbling something in the notebook and frowning again before throwing the paper on the table and picking the guitar up. She plays a few slightly discordant notes and huffs, finally looking up to where Kara stands awkwardly at the base of the stairs. She lets out an adorable squeak, almost dropping the guitar and making Kara jump.
“Jesus!” Lena gasps, clutching her chest with wide eyes. She puts the guitar down and rips off the headphones, breathing hard. “You scared the shit out of me!”
“I’m sorry!” Kara blurts out, holding her hands up. “I didn’t mean – Sam left, and she told me to come in, and you had headphones –“
“It’s fine.” Lena says with a shaky breath, still holding a hand over her heart. “I knew you were coming over, I just – I wasn’t expecting you to just be standing there like that.”
“I’m really sorry.” Kara assures her, but she can’t help but smile as Lena runs her fingers through her hair and flips it to the side, just like she thought. “Sam said you were having trouble with the song?”
“Yeah.” Lena sighs, picking up the notebook and looking at it dejectedly. “I have most of the lyrics, but the melody is being difficult.”
“What do you have so far?”
The song is good – really good, actually. The lyrics are fantastic, at least. They’re emotional, describing the exquisite agony of being in love with your best friend – the feelings of realization, of yearning, of making romantic gestures cloaked in friendship and hoping against hope that something will shift. Somehow Lena has captured the feeling in just 4 verses, but the notes aren’t coming to her as easily.
“Do you mind if I –“ Kara asks, sitting on the edge of the armchair and pointing at Lena’s guitar.
“By all means.”
Kara strums a few idle notes, going over the lyrics and their cadence in her head. After a few moments, she haltingly sorts out a few bars at a time, scribbling each one down on the makeshift staff of lined paper. Lena watches her work quietly, shifting so that her back is against the opposite arm and she faces Kara. She pushes her glasses up on top of her head and curls her legs under herself on the chair, her head tilting adorably.
Finally Kara plays the whole thing, mouthing the words to herself as she goes, and turns the notebook back towards Lena.
“Here – I have a rough outline of the first two verses. Could you sing a few bars for me?”
Lena looks over the notes, her brow furrowed, and then looks back at Kara. Kara fidgets slightly. Oh god, does she hate it?
Before she can work herself into an anxious frenzy, Lena nods and starts tapping out the approximate drumbeat with her fingers, signalling Kara to start. She sings the words softly, following the notes Kara laid out as Kara accompanies on the guitar. Kara can’t help but grin as she enjoys Lena’s unique voice, which takes on a new dimension when it’s not being projected for stage performance.
The two elements come together beautifully – there’s a lot of work to be done before it’s playable, but judging by Lena’s surprised smile, she likes Kara’s start.
“It sounds really good. You figured all of this out in 20 minutes?” She asks, holding up the notebook full of messy bars and notes. She actually looks impressed, and Kara feels the warm glow of the unspoken compliment.
“Your lyrics are amazing. The sound basically wrote itself when I read it.” Kara shrugs, trying not to blush at Lena’s smile.
“It takes me ages to figure out the melodies.” Lena flips a few pages and hands the notebook back to Kara – she sees that the new pages are full of scratched-out notes, the lyrics written underneath in an elegant script that grows progressively messier as Lena visibly got frustrated with her work. In a few places she can see where Lena gave up and came back later – instead of lyrics written underneath messily scribbled staffs the words read ‘fuck this’ or ‘this is garbage’, but the next sets of notes usually go back to the neat composition of the early iterations. The title scrawled at the top of the page is ‘that’s what friends are for’, a phrase that Kara can only assume has personal meaning to Lena. Her heart hurts at the idea of anyone treating Lena like she isn’t worthy.
Kara grins, handing the notebook back. “I’d be happy to help write songs.” Anything to spend more time with you.
“I’d like that.” Lena smiles softly, and a slight tension thickens the air around them. Kara suddenly notices how close they’re sitting – when she started singing Lena moved closer to the middle of the chair, and Kara’s knee brushes against her side.
Lena clears her throat, and Kara rubs her neck and stands up hurriedly up to hide her blush. She settles on the couch, picking up the first thing she sees to stop from fidgeting – a neat purple binder, full of the official sheet music for all the Worldkillers current songs.
She flips a few pages, smiling at some of her favourites, and a thought hits her.
“Have you ever considered using female pronouns?” She blurts out, and Lena’s head snaps up from where she was busily re-copying Kara’s notes in a neater script.
Kara hurries to clarify. “In your songs. They’re all neutral, which is amazing! Anyone can relate to them. But this song – it feels personal to you. Have you ever thought about it?”
Lena pauses, looking thoughtful – the only indication of her nervousness at the question is the way she fiddles with her pen. “I guess I have, a few times. It always seemed like it would be making a huge statement.”
“Honestly, I think our fans would be pretty into it.” Kara counters, and Lena raises her eyebrows, her forehead crinkling.
Kara nods. “Yeah! I mean, we aren’t famous by any means. But we have like, 4000 Instagram followers.” Before Kara and Alex joined the Worldkillers, they had checked out their social media – at the time they had about 1000 followers, mostly other local musicians and regulars at the venues they played at regularly. That number rose by almost 3000 over the last few weeks, after their first show together, and shows no sign of slowing down.
“…we do?” Lena asks, looking shocked. Kara laughs at her expression.
“Do you not look at our social media at all?”
Lena shakes her head, shifting on the chair so that her arm leans on the back, and runs her hands through her hair again. Kara swallows hard, trying not to stare openly. “Honestly, Sam runs most of that. I find it exhausting.”
“I can see that.” Kara laughs. “Well, I’d say at least 80% of our followers are lesbians and bi women. You can see it at our shows.”
At that fact Lena perks up, looking interested. “Really?”
“Mhmm. If we released a few songs independently, we might actually get a following.”
Lena looks thoughtful. Kara knows that the Worldkillers in their previous iteration had been together for over 2 years, playing local shows, but surprisingly they hadn’t released so much as an EP. With a high-tech home studio like Lena’s, they could make a really polished finished product with the right skills. She herself doesn’t have much experience mixing tracks, but the keyboard player from her old band was always great at it.
Maybe I should call Winn.
“Anyways, that’s totally your decision. I’m just here to help!” Kara says, shrugging. “Maybe we can workshop this tomorrow at practice?”
Lena nods, and the rest of the day is spent committing to sheet paper the notes they’ve already figured out. Lena is fantastic company – she’s all business while they work on the song, but once they put the sheet music away they spend the rest of the day just hanging out. Lena kicks her ass at Wii Bowling, and Kara finds out that the reason the décor and the interior design of Lena’s house seem to clash so badly is because Lena did the decor, but she didn’t design the rooms herself. Before Kara can ask who ruined a perfectly cozy beach house with impersonal hyper-modern pretentiousness, Lena has changed the subject.
She ends up staying for dinner – Lena makes quiche, and Kara convinces her to wear the cute apron - and then for drinks, and eventually after her fourth beer Lena reaches over and plucks the car keys out of her pocket.
“There’s no way I’m letting you drive home tonight. You can stay here.” She decides, getting up and putting Kara’s keys with her own in the wooden bowl next to her door. Kara stays in her seat, taking a long pull from her drink and trying to erase the visceral memory of Lena leaning over her, the loose tank top revealing more than Kara is capable of processing as long fingers dipped into her jeans.
“I have a few guest bedrooms.” Lena says, sitting back down on the couch and picking up her wine glass. “We don’t have to sleep together, this time.”
Kara promptly chokes on her beer mid-swallow, her eyes starting to water as the bubbles go up her nose. Lena jumps up, moving closer to rub Kara’s back, which only serves to make the situation worse.
“Shit! Are you okay?” She asks, her brow furrowed in concern.
“Fine!” Kara coughs, still trying to clear her airway. “Just – tried to inhale my beer. No biggie.”
She meant when we slept on the couch, last time. God, I'm a dork.
“Maybe it’s time for bed.” Lena suggests, smiling. She leads Kara to a guest room that’s probably bigger than Kara’s entire apartment, with a huge fluffy-looking queen mattress in a sturdy wooden bedframe beside a window that overlooks the ocean.
“Wow,” Kara mumbles, sliding her sweater off and hanging it over the back of an armchair in the corner. “Have I mentioned how ridiculously nice your house is?” Lena smiles in response, backing out of the room.
“A few times. There’s some spare pyjamas in the drawer, if you need them. Goodnight, Kara.”
She falls asleep in sheets that smell like Lena, listening to the crashing of the ocean outside. By the time she wakes up the next day and wanders out to the kitchen, Sam is already there, and Kara groans internally – she had no choice but to wear the same clothes from yesterday, slightly wrinkled, and she can tell the second Sam lays eyes on her that she knows.
“Good morning, sleepyhead!” She drawls, a teasing grin on her face. “It’s almost 11, we thought you’d never wake up.” Kara is about to snark back when she spots the pink box beside Sam on the table.
Deciding to forgive Sam for her transgressions, she just sticks her tongue out and takes a seat at the island, snatching a pastry in each hand. Lena walks in just as Kara is enjoying her first bites of each, and she finds herself thankful of the mouthful – Lena is wearing a dress that cuts off above the knee, and a hint of her thighs are on display, and if she wasn’t busy chewing she might have done something obvious like let her jaw drop.
When Alex shows up for practice later she gives Kara a strange look, recognizing that she hasn’t changed her clothes, but thankfully she doesn’t ask questions. They spend most of the night laying out the bass and drum lines for the new song, and playing it through to work out any awkward spots.
It isn’t quite ready by their next show, but they do rotate two fresh songs into their set list. They’re opening for another local band at a club outside the city, and Kara is riding a happy high from the minute they all pile into the van with their kit. Lena is driving, windows open and her hair blowing around in a messy tangle, aviators on her face to block out the setting sun shining through the windshield. Sam and Alex sit in the backseat, belting out Whitney Houston to Kara’s iPod. Kara spends the drive with her feet on the dash, laughing at Sam’s dramatic lip-syncing and enjoying the opportunity to drink Lena in while she’s distracted by the road.
The club is packed – Kara assumes that most of the audience is there for the band they’re opening for, but Sam shows her the post she made last week announcing their performance and she’s shocked to see that some people have commented saying that they’re coming to see them.
The idea buoys her through the whole show. The audience is responsive, and it’s exhilarating. They yell and applaud between numbers, and she actually manages to get the entire club to clap to the beat at one point – something that she knows from experience is incredibly rare, especially for an opening band. Sam flirts unabashedly with Alex; at one point, she calls out to the audience to cheer if they want her to kiss Alex on the cheek. They go wild, and Sam plants one directly on Alex’s blushing face.
Lena of course remains her stoic, sexy self. She smiles and laughs indulgently at Kara and Sam’s antics, but plays coy when Kara tries to involve her. The audience seems to eat it up, at least – the more Kara flirts and Lena smiles and shakes her head in response, the louder they get. Kara tries everything – she climbs up on top of a large speaker and when she gestures to Lena to join her on the adjoining one, she laughs and refuses. She uses the audience, asking if they want to see Lena dance, but Lena sticks her tongue out and leads them into the next song instead. It’s a fun game of cat and mouse, Kara teasing and Lena refusing, and when Kara finally comes close to share Lena’s mic like she usually does the reaction is insane.
Still riding the high, Kara makes one last request before they play their last number.
“Can we take a selfie with you guys?”
The answer is a genial roar, and Kara enlists Sam’s long arms to take a picture of all of them with the whole club waving in the background. Sam posts it to their social media, and Kara starts getting notifications almost immediately.
Backstage, Sam throws water bottles to each of them and starts packing up her bass. “Every show we do, it gets better.”
“I wonder how good we’ll be in another month?” Kara grins, and Lena rolls her eyes good-naturedly.
“Don’t get cocky.”
They stay to have a few drinks and watch the headlining band, Lena nursing a club soda with lemon in preparation for the drive, and a few songs in Kara notices three girls standing nearby and looking nervous. They look young – two of the girls have different shades of pink hair and one is blonde, and none of them looks much older than 21. They continually glance over, whispering to each other, until finally two of them push the third girl forward. She almost makes it to their booth, but turns around at the last second, muttering frantically back to her friends who are holding hands just behind her.
“I can’t do it, I can’t, one of you needs to –“
“Hey!” Kara calls, flashing her friendliest smile. “Do you guys want to come have a drink?”
As Kara thought, it turns out that they’re fans. They thank Kara profusely for asking them to sit down, and Sam orders them drinks – which Lena surreptitiously pays for, Kara notices.
“We saw you a few weeks ago when you opened for Livewire, and we loved your music.” The blonde gushes, her friends nodding enthusiastically. “Your lyrics – we loved that none of them use specify a male object. It’s so hard to find music to relate to, you know?”
“Not that we assume you’re – you know, we just love that we can sing the songs without having to change the pronouns.” One of the pink-haired girls stutters. “We just wanted to tell you that.”
“Oh, but we are.” Sam laughs, taking a sip of her drink. “We sing them that way for a reason.”
“You’re – wait, you’re actually gay?”
“Virtually all of us.” Kara confirms, winking at Sam across the table.
The three women look at each other like Christmas has come early. Suddenly there’s a barrage of questions:
“Have you ever used female pronouns in a song?”
“Are any of you dating? When you’re on stage –“
“Are you guys going to play at pride?”
Kara cuts them off with a laugh, trying to answer each question one at a time.
“You know, female pronouns in a song – that would be ballsy. I like it,” Sam says, and Alex agrees. Lena looks intrigued, worrying her lower lip with her teeth as they talk. The girls continue the conversation with Sam, and over their shoulders Kara makes pointed eye contact with Lena, raising her eyebrows. It’s an expression that clearly says see? I told you. Lena rolls her eyes, but the thoughtful look stays.
Later, when they’re all eating snack food on the way back into the city, Kara pushes her idea forward.
“Honestly, I really think that releasing an EP would be a great move right now.”
“Maybe so,” Lena agrees, her hands leaving the wheel briefly as she gesticulates, “But we have nobody to mix it. I have the setup, but the intention was to find someone who could actually do a good job. If I mix it, it won’t be as polished as it could be.”
Kara nods, finally feeling comfortable enough to offer what she and Alex have discussed a few times.
“I might have a guy.”
Two days later, she’s standing with Lena outside Winn’s apartment.
“He doesn’t bite, Lena. I was in a band with him for two years.” Kara hits the buzzer labeled ‘Schott/Olsen’, and Lena purses her lips. She looks nervous, more nervous even than she usually looks before shows, and Kara feels a bit guilty for forcing her headlong into an unknown situation. But Winn is incredible at mixing tracks, and she knows he’ll do well with Lena’s high-tech equipment.
The door unlocks, and Kara tries to soothe Lena as they get into the elevator and climb to the 7th floor. “He’s really talented. He prefers mixing and messing with tech to playing, so I think he’ll be perfect for what we’re trying to do.”
“We can’t really pay him right now,” Lena says, drumming her fingers on her crossed arms.
“He’ll do it as a favour to me, Lena. We don’t need to pay him right away. He mixed our old songs recorded on shitty mics just for fun.” The elevator dings, and Lena follows Kara down the hallway. The route is familiar – Kara spent a lot of time here with Winn and James when the band was still together, and it brings back good memories. When they knock on the door of apartment 6, it opens almost immediately to reveal Winn’s grinning face.
“Finally!” He yells, wrapping her in a hug. Kara laughs, hugging back tightly.
“I know I haven’t been around much, I’m sorry!” Kara says as they separate, ruffling his hair affectionately. “The Worldkillers keep us busy, and you’re busy working that 9 to 5, you sellout.”
“Hey, I’m a very comfortable sellout, thank you.” Winn grins, and extends a hand past Kara. “You must be the famous Lena! Kara talks about you constantly in the groupchat – ow!” He recoils after a brief handshake, Kara’s elbow jammed into his ribs. To Kara’s mild horror, Lena smiles for the first time that day at the comment.
“Right, anyways.” Kara changes the subject quickly, entering the apartment and nudging Winn. “We came here to listen to your mixes, remember?”
“Oh, yeah! Just over here.” Winn leads them to his extensive setup in the corner – it’s jammed with keyboards, a small turntable set, and a PC with several speakers. He hands a pair of headphones to Lena, sitting down and booting up his mixing software. “There’s a few tracks I think you’ll like.”
While Lena listens, Winn leans over to Kara and whispers quietly enough that she’s sure Lena can’t hear.
“I’m not even into women, but holy shit, Kara.”
“Right? Right?!” Kara hisses back, trying to keep her face calm enough that Lena won’t notice. Lena keeps her eyes on the screen, tapping her fingers to whatever beat is playing in the headset. “How am I supposed to pretend I’m not attracted to her? She’s a goddess. No in-band dating – god. I’m gonna die.”
“Have you asked her – OW.” Win cuts off again, wheezing as Kara’s elbow connects with his side - Lena has eased the headphones off of one ear, and this conversation is the last thing Kara wants her to hear.
“This is good. Really good, considering your resources,” She admits, gesturing to Winn’s piecemeal collection of electronics. “I’d love to see what you could do in a real studio.”
“I’d love to see it too, but I doubt that’s ever going to happen,” Winn sighs wistfully. “You gotta have the big bucks to work with a real setup.”
Making eye contact with Kara, Lena grins.
“Well, luckily for you, my terrible family also happens to be rich.”
Winn’s reaction upon seeing Lena’s home studio is somewhere between awe and disbelief. He wanders around slowly, gently touching every piece of equipment and lovingly trailing his fingers over the shiny mixing board. He looks at Kara and Lena, watching him with amusement, and whispers almost reverently.
“I can use all of this?”
“By all means,” Lena says, chuckling at Winn’s whoop of excitement. He sits in the rolling chair, starting to play with the software on the computer, and Lena continues. “Kara, you were right about him being a bit weird. But…I like him.”
“Yeah, he’s not bad,” Kara says affectionately, shaking her head as Winn mutters excitedly about the hardware. “We started getting along a lot better when I realized that he didn’t have a crush on me, and he and James started dating. He’s just affectionate.”
“James?” Lena asks, quirking a brow. “Wasn’t he your old drummer?”
“Yup. They didn’t split us up, though!” Kara feels the need to specify. “They still live together. All those cameras on the kitchen table are James’. He’s a photographer.”
“Hmm.” Lena’s answer is neutral, but there’s something going on behind her placid mask that Kara wishes she could delve into. Winn, with his usual fantastic timing, pipes up before she can investigate.
“So, when will you guys be ready to record?”
They decide, in the end, to record 4 songs – they pick out the three songs that usually get the most audience reaction, as well as Lena’s new song. It’s fresh, something nobody has heard before, and it’s the first thing they’ve written and put together as a cohesive group without the spectre of the old band members hanging over them. And to top it off, when Lena hands her the final sheet music for the song, it only takes a few seconds to realize that Lena has switched the lyrics to female pronouns. The song is now explicitly about being in love with a woman, and the idea that this will be their first recorded song – that Lena has decided to be brave, and accentuate who they really are as a group – makes her proud to be part of the band.
They spend a few days working it out as a unit – playing it over and over and working out the perfect sound, for live performance – before they set aside a week to record and mix each individual element. They record in the evenings, after Winn is finished work, and Lena ends each session by buying dinner and beer for all of them and driving Winn home – by the third night, they’re working together on the song and talking excitedly about the music like old friends.
When the instruments are finally laid down and it’s time to add the vocals, Winn makes a suggestion that changes everything. Winn is finishing up what they did for the day, and they’re just winding down; Sam is oiling the strings of her bass, Alex is sitting nearby carrying on a low conversation, Lena is looking at her phone and sipping a diet coke, and Kara, bored, grabs the sturdy doorframe at the entrance to the basement and does a few pull-ups.
“Have you guys ever thought about dropping this with a music video?”
Kara pauses in her workout, dropping from the doorframe and raising her arms above her head in a stretch. Her shirt rises a bit with them, and to her left there’s a loud noise – Kara looks over to see Lena, red-faced, throwing some paper towel on the table to clean up her suddenly-spilled drink.
“I hadn’t really thought about a video,” Sam says, looking intrigued. Lena seems happy for the distraction, cleaning up the mess and disappearing into the bathroom to get rid of the soaked towels.
“I think it would really maximize the effect.” Winn gestures to the recording room. “There’s a lot I can do in there, but you guys thrive when you’re playing live – I think a visual medium is the way to go. Plus, Youtube can really widen your audience.”
“Do we have the resources for that?” Lena asks, emerging from the bathroom looking much calmer – Kara notices that the collar of her shirt is slightly wet, like she’s splashed water on her face. That’s weird. “We could save up for a while, but –“
“James actually came up with the idea – he said he’d be happy to do it for free. He’s been getting really into cinematography. You’d just need some props, I think?” Winn answers, and Lena blinks in surprise. She turns to Kara, disbelieving.
“Do all of your friends offer to do things for free for no reason?”
“Most of them, yeah.” Kara grins, shrugging.
“Well, okay. Let’s do it.”
As much as it pains Lena to admit it, Kara was right about Winn. She’d been reluctant to involve another stranger in the band’s livelihood, someone who could screw things up, but Kara had assured her that Winn was one of the most trustworthy people she knew, and for some reason Lena trusts her implicitly.
By the time the song is finished and Winn is adding the finishing touches, she knows it was the right decision. He has an unquestionable ear for music, and he somehow knows her own studio equipment better than she does. The song sounds amazing.
Another thing she was initially skeptical about was shooting a video. But all of the things that might have stood in their way – no budget, nobody to shoot or edit the footage, and no available space where they can camp out all day and shoot repetitive footage without interruption – seem to disappear as soon as Kara turns on her charm. James agrees to help them out free of charge, she recruits her friends Imra and Gayle from work, and Imra just happens to live in a building with several usable venues for shooting. They decide on three – the roof, the warehouse-like parking garage, and a small private park nearby – as well as Lena’s house and the beach behind it to use as sets.
There had been some conflict, at first, over the plot of the video. During a long drive back from a gig, Alex suggested a classic take – just them in various venues, lip-syncing the song in their usual live style. Kara had disagreed – she wanted something with a storyline, something that people could connect with. In the end they agree on a compromise, something that goes back and forth between the two, but another conflict arises when they try to figure out who can play the song’s love interests.
“Well, we know Alex can’t do it. I saw her try to do stage productions in high school – she’s way too awkward,” Kara argues, grinning.
“Hey! I’m sure she’s great.” Sam is quick to counter, giving Alex a soft smile, but Alex shakes her head.
“No, she’s right. I’d be awful.”
“Well, Lena isn’t much better,” Sam says, poking Lena with her foot. “Her stage presence doesn’t translate well to fluffy, heartfelt romance.”
Lena just gives her the finger, knowing that Sam is right and unable to argue.
“I guess that leaves…me and Sam?” Kara ventures hesitantly, and Lena can feel every cell in her body rebelling at the thought of Kara and Sam acting romantic. It rises like a storm inside her, until she has to voice it.
Almost simultaneously, she and Alex protest.
“That wouldn’t work –“ She starts, and Alex joins her immediately.
“Yeah, we’re going to be in the band parts, having you two as the stars would just –“
“Too much! Exactly. It wouldn’t make sense.”
“None at all. We should find other people.” Alex nods, and Lena’s anxiety is eased – with Alex on her side, they’ll have to come up with another solution. She tries not to think about why the idea makes her feel so ill, or why Alex would be so vehemently opposed to Sam being romantic with Kara.
She’s just…protective of her sister. And I just want this video to be the best it can be.
She desperately quashes the other voice in her head, which is telling her an old adage about rivers in Egypt.
Luckily Kara and Sam just grin at each other, and they all agree to find another couple. That’s how Imra and Gayle end up helping them out – apparently Kara mentioned they were looking for two people to star in their the video, and both of them are aspiring actresses. Kara agreed to cover two shifts for each of them, and evidently when you’re Kara Danvers and the sun shines from your very pores, that’s all it takes.
“That’s amazing, you guys. What do you think about filming just Gayle on the roof? Maybe looking out at the skyline, some real pining stuff, and then we can shoot you guys playing up there to intercut?” James suggests, hefting his larger camera onto his shoulder. As it turns out, he’s just as pleasant as his boyfriend – Kara apparently attracts nice people like some sort of human magnet, and Lena wonders briefly what Kara sees in her as a friend.
They lug the instruments to the roof, taking a break at the top to catch their breath and discuss the scene with Gayle before they get going. Lena perches herself on the edge of the roof, looking out at the overcast city, and Kara leans against the wall next to her.
“So…this is pretty fun, huh?” Kara asks, handing Lena a bottle of water. Lena takes it gratefully, taking a long drink before she answers.
“It is, actually. Your friends are nice.”
Kara nods, smiling at Gayle on the opposite side of the roof. She’s preparing for her shots, taking a moment to see if she can get some tears going, and James has the camera trained on her already. “I think she and Imra have a thing for each other, to be honest. I’m hoping this will give them a bit of inspiration. Their ‘friendship’ is pretty damn close to the lyrics.”
Lena laughs, suddenly seeing their whole day in a different light. She had thought that the two women must just be phenomenal actresses, but if Kara is right, their obvious chemistry is actually a result of unresolved feelings. The idea of getting a couple together with a song she wrote tickles her to no end.
“How do you think they’re going to handle the final scene?” She asks, eyebrow raised.
Kara snorts. The final scene in the video is supposed to be the two women admitting their feelings and getting together – the plan is to have them kiss on the beach behind Lena’s house, followed by a short scene in one of Lena’s spare rooms. If Kara’s hunch is correct, it should be an interesting afternoon.
“Do you guys want to start setting up? I’ll film you in a minute, and then we can head to Lena’s?” James calls, his eyes still trained on the camera, and Lena hops down from her perch.
The rest of the shoot goes well – there’s some mild hilarity between herself and Kara when Imra and Gayle take a solid 6 extra seconds to stop kissing when James yells cut, staring at each other in ill-disguised wonder. She hopes that James didn’t stop the film right away – that look would be an interesting addition to the video. When they finally wrap, the women leave together hand-in-hand, and Kara winks at Lena conspiratorially.
“Told you,” She whispers as they move the equipment back into Lena’s basement. But as Kara heaves one of the drums over her shoulder and carries it down the stairs, Lena can’t help but imagine what the day would have been like had she and Kara decided to play the lead roles.
She gets her answer, to some degree, when the video is finished. James comes by to show it to them, the new song weaved in perfectly with his cinematography, and it’s perfect, save for the fact that in almost every cut of the band performing, she can see herself staring at Kara with poorly-disguised affection and longing.
God, is that how I look when we perform? Does everyone notice?
It seems to obvious to her, but everyone just seems focused on how great the video looks. And it does – Imra and Gayle did an incredible job, as did James.
Well…there’s no going back now.
“Okay,” She says finally, and looks at Sam. “Can you handle the social media push?”
“You bet I can.” Sam nods, looking excited. Her phone is already out, ready to copy the link to all their accounts.
In a few weeks, she’d look back on this moment with fondness – but now, all she feels is apprehension. Lena takes a deep breath, and decides.
You know I HAD to include the mad Psi/Imra chemistry. Can you imagine them starring in a gay music video together? I’m weak.
No smut yet, but it's on the horizon. And the wait will make it so much better.
It takes four days for the song to explode.
At first, Lena is sure that the whole idea is a bust. It gets a few thousand hits and some downloads from, assumedly, people who already know who they are; Lena is convinced that half of them are actually her, obsessively watching the video and picking apart every flaw in her own performance. Kara assures her that these things don’t happen overnight, and often nothing much will change until a few months down the line when someone with influence might pick up on it, but the waiting makes Lena antsy.
She actually monitors their social media for the first time, and in doing so she notices that Kara was right – a lot of their existing fans are female or gender non-conforming, and they do seem to overwhelmingly be interested in women. In fact, a lot of them seem to be quite…vocal in their expression of attraction to the band.
She can’t even gauge who gets the most attention between the four of them. Her assumption was that Kara and Sam would have the most fans, since they interact with the audience during shows, but there are quite a lot of fans who express pretty explicit thirst for Alex’s arms and bad-girl attitude. People ask Kara to benchpress them with her strong arms; they call Sam ‘dreamy’, and refer to Alex as ‘agent sexy’ in reference to her Instagram tag. Lena is even a bit stunned to find a not-insignificant number of people who seem to want her. A few days ago she had no idea that asking someone to step on you was considered an expression of intense attraction, but she’s since learned better.
She gets as far as someone asking that she ‘cut them open with her jawline’ before she starts to just ask Sam for updates a few times a day.
On day four, when Lena is truly starting to think that doing the video was a waste of time, Sam texts her to tell her that the hits on the music video have jumped by almost 200k.
It isn’t long before she and Kara are crashing through her front door, Alex not far behind, and she sees it for herself. 235 thousand hits, almost overnight, and thousands upon thousands of comments. The downloads and purchases of their EP have also spiked in a major way, enough that they actually seem to have some significant money on the way.
Kara and Sam pace around her living room frenetically, walking in circles around each other and reading comments out loud until Alex finally arrives.
“What happened?” Alex asks, once they’re all gathered in the basement in their usual spots. “Last night it was barely at 6k. How did it go up so much?”
“The power of the internet,” Sam grins, holding up her phone. “Legends of Tomorrow retweeted us. They said some very nice things.”
Alex’s eyes widen dramatically and, oddly, she turns bright red. She tries to hide it by taking an unnecessarily long drag of her beer, but Kara starts to laugh and it makes Alex choke.
“Oh my god, Legends? As in, Sara Lance and Ava Sharpe? That Legends?”
“Yeah,” Sam answers, looking intrigued. “Why? Is there another blonde bombshell duo that played Madison Square Garden last year?”
Kara’s laughter intensifies, Alex covers her face, and Lena’s curiosity piques.
“Okay, what aren’t you telling us?”
“Alex –“ Kara manages, wiping away tears and still chuckling, “Alex slept with Sara Lance. I completely forgot, she got so famous when she joined up with Ava – they hooked up years ago, when we were all starting out in the city.”
“Kara…” Alex groans, her face still covered by her hands. “It was years ago, it probably doesn’t mean anything.” She peeks through her fingers at Sam, like she’s worried about her reaction, but Lena knows that Sam doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body.
“Holy shit!” Sam crows, clapping her hands together in obvious glee. “Your hookup is gonna get us famous!”
Alex vehemently denies her involvement, but the hits continue to climb, as does their follower count. It goes from 4000 to over 10k overnight, and as the video surpasses 500 thousand views, their followers hit almost 20. Imra informs Kara that she actually landed a role in an indie film because the director saw the video, and on a more personal note, Kara was thrilled to tell the rest of the band that she and Gayle had finally gotten over their hang-ups and gotten together.
According to Sam, people find the video – and as a result, the Worldkillers – relatable, something that Lena didn’t think was possible. Lillian always told her that being gay would make her a pariah, would make her music too niche to ever find mainstream success. But as the hits climb and she starts actually getting calls and emails about bookings instead of having to seek them out, she starts to think that maybe her mother was wrong. There are some hateful comments, sure – the usual homophobic vitriol – but overwhelmingly the reception is positive. People both young and old call the song an anthem, a deep understanding of a very specific and underserved experience.
The newfound attention doesn’t die down as they prepare for their next show.
The crowd is larger than usual, and when they start off with their usual first few songs, the reception is excited and enthusiastic even before Kara does her usual hype work. About halfway through their set they start into ‘that’s what friends are for’, and Lena actually has to resist the urge to start crying as the first few rows sing the lyrics along with her.
They know our lyrics.
For their final song they try out something they’ve been working on for weeks – they gather four stools in a half circle with mic stands, Kara with her acoustic guitar and Alex with a simple tambourine, and star into a mostly-acapella cover of Take Me To Church. It’s slow and heartfelt, and it lets Alex and Sam showcase their voices without being overpowered. Lena tries her best not to make too much eye contact with Kara, but when Kara belts out ‘good god, let me give you my life’ at the very peak of her range while locking eyes with her, Lena’s arms erupt in goosebumps.
Besides a genial cheer at the beginning of the song when they realized that the pronouns hadn’t been changed, the crowd watches the performance raptly. When they end in a perfect four-part harmony, there’s a few seconds of silence before a round of thunderous applause.
A video of the performance surfaces a few days later, the hits on it climbing almost as rapidly as the music video. Lena watches it, but after looking at what amounts to 3 full minutes of herself staring lovestruck at Kara Danvers, she decides that once is enough. She’s so preoccupied with watching her own failure to hide her feelings that she barely even notices that Alex and Sam are holding hands for the majority of the song.
Luckily for Lena, Sam is all over their social media presence. She takes full advantage of their burst of niche fame, increasing her posting schedule and expanding to different platforms, although their core fanbase still seems to be on Instagram. She starts posting more candid pictures of practices, backstage antics, and even when they’re just hanging out – those seem to have the most response. Videos of Sam and Kara being goofy are popular, and one of their most-liked posts is one that Sam snuck of Alex laughing so hard that she snorts adorably. Alex threatens bodily harm, but a smile and a kiss on the cheek from Sam have her smiling again. People enjoy seeing them just being friends, enjoying each other’s company.
Some people, though, take it past that.
Pretty soon after the fan-video of their Take Me To Church performance goes up, the comments shift from pure thirst for the band members into a different kind of thirst – Sam calls it ‘shipping’, how their fans enthusiastically point out chemistry between band members, but secretly Lena thinks it’s more like a direct call-out.
The chemistry that she’s been trying to avoid with Kara is latched onto like a lifeline by young gay women, and there’s nothing that she can do about it.
Sam plays into it, too. She claims that it expands their fanbase, but Lena is pretty sure it’s just an excuse for her to flirt shamelessly with Alex all over social media. People amalgamate their names into portmanteaus. The most common one is ‘danvarias’, but some people abandon any sense of shame and instead just call them ‘sex’. She and Kara are ‘karlena’, but their fans are much fewer than the rest, and she tries her best not to encourage it.
Sam, on the other hand, regularly uses ‘danvarias’ as a hashtag, and the more their fans point out the fact that they think Sam and Alex are hooking up, the more Lena realizes that maybe they should be. They light up in each others presence, and the only thing keeping them apart is her rules. No in-band dating.
No in-band dating.
It’s starting to sound more like a ticking time bomb than a mantra.
The wind blows through Kara’s hair and the local 80’s station blares from her car stereo as she zips along the parkway towards Lena’s house, singing the cheesy lyrics at the top of her lungs.
“Take me home tonight! I don’t wanna let you gooo ‘till we see the light!” She yells, one hand leaving the wheel to make patterns in the wind beside the car. Having an old convertible isn’t the most practical choice of vehicle, but as often as the old girl breaks on her, Kara loves her powder blue pile of junk too much to let it go. As she turns off the main road towards Lena’s street she takes deep lungfuls of fresh beach air, feeling the contentment of the beautiful scenery and the growing proximity of one of her favourite people. She’s managed to get two full days off of work in a row, two days where she doesn’t have to steam milk or pour coffee for ungrateful customers, and she’s taking advantage – she finished a rough outline for a new song yesterday, and she wants to show Lena.
She called ahead to make sure Lena was home, but when she pulls into Lena’s driveway she realizes that in her eagerness to see her she’s turned up over an hour earlier than she originally planned. Shrugging, she knocks quickly on the door before opening it and letting herself in, the way she’s gotten used to doing over the last few weeks – Lena hardly ever locks the door when she’s at home, and after a few instances of Kara standing awkwardly at the door until Lena yells up the stairs for her to just come in already, she’s just been following Sam’s example and heading to the basement on her own.
This time, though, Lena isn’t waiting in the studio as usual. The lights are on, and one of her guitars is on the table next to her notebook, but Lena is nowhere to be found. Confused, Kara heads back up the stairs and calls out tentatively.
There’s no answer, but after a few seconds of quiet Kara notices an unexpected sound – a hissing, coming from the hallway. The bathroom door is open a crack, and steam is curling around the gap. As the combination of images and sounds finally processes, a new one enters the mix – Lena’s voice, low and crooning, echoing through the space in a familiar Cranberries song.
”Do you have to, do you have to let it linger...”
Lena is in the shower, singing, thinking she’s alone in the house, and Kara is standing frozen in the hallway like a total creep.
Before she can figure out what to do, the shower shuts off with a click. Panic roars through her, and all she can do is call out again.
There’s a squeak and a small crash from the bathroom, followed by a thud. Kara’s heart seizes when she hears it, but thankfully Lena’s voice follows, strained with surprise and likely a bit of pain.
“Shit!” She hears, along with various thuds as Lena cleans up whatever mess she caused in her surprise. “Kara, is that you?”
“Yeah, um…I wanted to show you a new song, I’m totally early and I just came in like usual but I should go –“ Kara stutters, backing down the hallway, but Lena’s reply stops her.
“No, it’s…it’s fine, just give me a minute.”
A few moments later Lena emerges wrapped in a fluffy towel, her hair wet and her shoulders still glistening with water, and Kara’s heart nearly explodes.
She isn’t sure what she was expecting – a housecoat, maybe, or for Lena to have changed in the bathroom. Instead, Lena in nothing but a black towel, silhouetted by steam, water dripping down her bare legs and forming a small puddle on her expensive hardwood floor, renders Kara temporarily speechless. She knows she’s staring – she should be averting her eyes and giving Lena some privacy – but she’s been shocked into inaction.
Lena gives her a small smile, her face flushed from the heat of the shower, and slips down the hall and into her bedroom. As she shuts the door Kara watches a droplet slide between her shoulderblades and down her spine, disappearing under the towel, and suppresses a shiver.
Eventually Lena emerges in sweats and a soft shirt, tugging almost nervously at the hem as she slips past Kara and towards the stairs.
“Basement?” She nods in that direction, already halfway there, and Kara follows her down. Her wet hair is leaving a slowly-spreading damp patch on the back of her shirt, and Kara fixes her eyes there, trying her best not to replay the mental image of Lena in a towel on a loop while Lena is actually in front of her.
Lena is already curled up on the sectional when Kara reaches the studio, her bare feet tucked underneath her as she fusses with her hair, gathering the wet strands and pulling it to one side. A few droplets of water scatter as she does, leaving tiny dark patches on her pants, and Kara has to look away before she loses her mind at the simple beauty of it.
“So, you had a song to show me? Before you barged in on me in the shower?” Lena asks, her shyness ebbing away to be replaced by her usual attitude. Kara flushes, and can’t help but rise to the bait.
“I didn’t – you always tell me to just come in, and I thought – it was an accident!” She stammers, sighing as Lena quirks a teasing eyebrow. “Yes, I have a new song.”
She thrusts the notebook with the lyrics and composition under Lena’s nose, and for the next minute and a half she paces behind the couch, her nervousness at showing Lena such a personal song finally surfacing as she tries not to look at her possibly judgemental face.
Usually, she’s perfectly happy to let Lena write their songs, and only help when asked. But about a week ago, when Alex turned up at her apartment unexpectedly with pizza and a warm hug to help get Kara through the 12th anniversary of her parent’s passing, she was hit by inspiration. The song almost spilled out of her, scribbled into her notebook with the light of the flickering TV and the cadence of Alex’s snores next to her on her ratty couch. It’s about love, and loss, and found family, and she’s proud of how it turned out even if Lena doesn’t agree to add it to the Worldkillers setlist.
Finally she stills her restless legs and sits beside Lena, her fingers drumming on the tops of her thighs. Lena looks up at her, a strange look on her face – sadness? Wonder? Worry? Kara can’t tell.
“It’s about my parents,” Kara blurts, forcing her hands to stop fidgeting. “They died when I was 13. The Danvers adopted me, and Alex…Alex saved my life.”
She looks over at Lena, who solemnly nods for her to continue.
“I was sort of a mess after. I thought I had to take on the world by myself. Alex and the Danvers gave me a home again. Even when I was a brat about it.” She laughs softly, and Lena smiles with her. “I know it’s not what our lyrics are usually about, but I wanted to at least show it to you. Even if we don’t record it –“
“Kara,” Lena interrupts, putting a soft hand over hers and entwining their fingers, “It’s beautiful. It’s honest, and raw, and…it’s exactly what we need.”
Kara stares down at their joined hands and then back up at Lena, who looks at her with the softest expression she’s ever seen. Kara gently squeezes, and surprisingly, Lena doesn’t let go.
“You should take the lead on this.” Lena insists gently, and Kara frowns, shaking her head.
“What? No, Lena, you’re the lead.”
“I wouldn’t feel right singing such a personal song to you.” Lena argues, but Kara stands her ground.
“Lena, I wrote it in your register. I want you to sing it.”
Lena seems to consider it for a moment, her mouth twisting thoughfully. “We could share it? A duet?” She suggests, and Kara considers it.
Although Kara sings backup on all of their songs, and her voice has been featured more and more in their newer work, they’ve never had a true duet before. Somehow, the idea of sharing this song with Lena makes it even better.
“I think…yeah. I think I like that,” Kara nods, smiling. “A duet. I’ve been hoping we could sing something together.”
Their fingers are still linked, Lena’s thumb tracing idle patterns on the back of Kara’s hand, and Kara’s heartbeat starts to speed up as their eye contact continues. Neither of them seems to be in a hurry to break it off – as Kara thinks it, Lena’s eyes dart down to her lips and back up again with lightning speed.
It’s fast enough that Kara is almost willing to ignore it, blame it on wishful thinking, but a few seconds later it happens again – Lena’s eyes drift down, fixing on Kara’s mouth as she bites her lip. She digs into the soft skin, turning it white until it slowly slides out of its captivity, slightly wet from her mouth and Kara aches to lean forward, to take it between her own teeth and bite into her like ripe fruit, to press against the heat of her mouth –
She doesn’t realize how close they’ve drifted until the moment breaks, in the most dramatic fashion she can imagine – Sam bursts through the front door, thundering down the stairs and yelling at the top of her lungs.
“Guess what bitch, the Worldkillers are now certified famous because guess what video just hit a million – oh.” She stops in her tracks at the bottom of the stairs as Kara and Lena jump away from each other like live wires, scurrying to opposite ends of the couch. Her wide grin doesn’t falter as she puts her hands on her hips, tilting her head teasingly. “Should I have knocked?”
“Shut up, Sam,” Lena brushes her off brusquely, standing up and walking over. “Show me whatever you came here to show me.” Her face is cherry-red, and Sam’s knowing look doesn’t help.
Kara can tell that her own blush isn’t going away yet either. It deepens when Sam looks over Lena’s shoulder and winks at her cheekily, while Lena is distracted looking at the hit count on the music video. It has, in fact, gone over a million views – a million, in under a month – but Kara is finding it hard to concentrate on being excited. Instead her head is filled with Lena’s soft eyes, the way her thumb felt dragging across Kara’s skin, and the brief proximity of her lips.
“Are you guys ready to rock?!” Kara yells into the mic, and Lena rolls her eyes with a grin, making eye contact with Alex. Alex shakes her head, laughing, while Sam joins Kara at the front of the stage to rev up the audience.
Somehow, even spouting clichés like a broken fountain, Kara manages to make the crowd roar in response.
Ever since the video hit a million, the Worldkillers have been more and more in demand. They aren’t just playing in National City anymore – they’re getting calls for shows all over the state, and even out-of-state. Tonight they’re playing outside of Phoenix, to a decent crowd – they decided to brave the 5 hour drive rather than stay over, although Kara had to come up alone in her car since her shift at the coffee shop went late. It’s worth the drive, with an engaged audience and a pretty decent pay stub, but Lena is already dreading the drive home.
After the show, as Sam and Alex pack up the van, Lena spies Kara looking intently at her phone.
“What’s got your attention?”
Kara jumps slightly, relaxing when she sees that it’s only Lena. She smiles, holding up her phone – google maps is open.
“We’re only 2 hours away from the Grand Canyon!”
Lena laughs, nodding. “That’s true, but it’s also 2 in the morning. Are you going to drive all the way to the Grand Canyon, in the dark, by yourself?”
“That’s the plan!” Kara shoves the phone in her pocket and takes out her keys, heading over to Alex to say goodbye. After a hug for her and Sam, she waves at Lena and heads towards her old blue convertible in the parking lot. Lena thinks longingly of her soft bed at home, of her lack of plans tomorrow and intent to sleep in all morning. But the thought of Kara, driving all alone in that beater car, makes her hesitate.
It’ll make Kara happy. And Kara is my friend. Besides, who knows what could happen to her if she goes alone? It could be dangerous.
In the end, there was only one decision to make.
The Canyon is beautiful, in the end. They reach the park around 4, and Kara pulls her car up to the lookout point and jumps out immediately. The moon is bright, and it casts long shadows over the trees and shrubs lining the cliff, throwing every crevice in the valley into sharp resolution.
Kara looks strangely solemn as she looks out at the view, a cool night breeze ruffling her hair and making Lena shiver. Goosebumps erupt along her arms, and without hesitation Kara removes her leather jacket and drapes it over Lena’s shoulders. Normally Lena would protest, but somehow she doesn’t want to spoil the quiet by speaking, so she just wraps it tightly around herself, inhaling the scent of leather and Kara and the Arizona night.
“My parents took me here when I was a kid.” Kara’s voice is almost a whisper, barely audible over the sounds of chirping insects and the rustling of the wind. “I barely even remember it. I thought it was stupid – just a big hole in the ground. I wanted to go to Disneyland.”
Lena smiles, imagining a grumpy young Kara with her arms crossed in the back of a minivan, demanding to go see Mickey Mouse.
“After they died, I always wanted to see it again. See why they were so excited about it,” She continues, leaning against the safety rail near the edge. “It’s beautiful.”
“Yeah,” Lena agrees, leaning against the rail beside her and bumping their shoulders together softly. “I’m sorry I ruined your trip by tagging along.”
“No!” Kara says quickly, the sudden volume of her voice causing a ruckus of birds to scatter to the wind out of a nearby tree. She quiets again, kicking at the hard dirt with her toes. “I’m glad you came. I think if I came by myself, it would have been kind of…lonely.”
When they get back into the car, Lena is slightly anxious to see Kara staring at the dash lights with a frown on her face.
“Kara? Is everything alright?”
Kara shakes her head and smiles, shifting the car into gear. “It’s fine! The ‘check engine’ light is on, but that’s not unusual. I’ll just have to take her in once we get home.”
It’s fine for about 200 miles, at which point the engine promptly dies in the middle of the desert.
Kara spends a few minutes with the hood up, elbow-deep in the inner workings of her ‘baby’ while Lena tries to pretend that Kara knowing how to diagnose and fix a car isn’t insanely sexy, but she emerges with slightly greasy hands and a pout.
“Something blew in there, and it’ll need a new part to fix. It looks like we’re going to have to wait for a tow, and it could be a few hours, all the way out here,” She says apologetically, wiping her hands clean. “I won’t make you wait with me, though. I can…call you a cab?”
Lena scoffs at the idea. “We’re 3 hours out of the city. You’re not going to pay for that, and neither am I. Besides, I’m not going to leave you out here all alone.”
Kara concedes after a few minutes of profuse apologies, until Lena huffs and closes the hood of the car herself, climbing up onto it and patting the spot beside her pointedly. Kara clambers up beside her, and side by side they lie back to look up at the starry sky.
They pass the time with idle chat, pointing out constellations and laughing together about some of the thirsty comments their social media has been inundated with lately. Kara finds some melty granola bars in her dash compartment and they eat them, licking chocolate off their fingers. Eventually they both stop perking up at the sound of cars coming down the highway, neither hoping for the tow truck anymore in favour of each other’s company.
A quiet moment descends, both of them listening to the distinctive sounds of early-morning birds waking up to the lightening sky, and Lena is struck by the realization that her impromptu trip to the Grand Canyon with Kara is the closest thing she’s ever had to a proper vacation.
“My mother didn’t take me on vacations.” Lena blurts into the still night air. “She took Lex. My father might have taken me somewhere, but he was always busy, and he passed away when I was pretty young.”
Lena has no idea what possessed her to spill something so private with zero prompting, but when she turns her head to rest her temple on the hood of the car, Kara’s eyes are there to meet hers, kind and understanding. She smiles gently, and more words rise up like a tide in response.
“My real mother died when I was too young to remember her. I don’t have any pictures. Lillian wouldn’t allow it. I…I don’t even know what she looked like.”
“You don’t remember?” Kara sounds so sad, so heartbroken for her. Lena swallows before continuing.
“I remember…dark hair. I think she had an accent – she used to sing to me, and it seemed like another language. And I know her first name. Keiran.”
“It sounds Irish.”
The suggestion sparks something in her memory. Lying in a soft bed, with white curtains drifting over a bay window, nestled into her mother’s side. Warm. Safe. And a song, the lyrics lilting and melodic. Is it Irish?
“I think you’re right.” She whispers, her vision blurring with unexpected tears. How could I forget that?
Gently, like she’s dealing with a startled deer, Kara lays her hand over Lena’s. Her palm is warm and soft, and after a few seconds Lena turns her own hand up and interlaces their fingers. They slot together comfortably, and just this once, Lena tells herself that she’ll accept the comfort.
There’s a voice in her head chanting about slippery slopes, but she shoves it deep, deep down.
The tow truck arrives just as the sun is rising, and the whole arid plain is bathed in a pinkish-orange glow, soft and quiet. It lights up Kara’s blonde hair like a halo. She doesn’t let go of Lena’s hand for the whole ride back, sitting in the uncomfortable truck seat with the quiet tow driver.
They finally pull up to Lena’s house around 7am, and Kara leaves the driver sitting in the driveway while she walks Lena to her door.
“I had a surprisingly good time being stranded in the middle of Arizona with you,” She admits as she unlocks it, and Kara grins, leaning against the frame.
“Well, I’m pretty good company.” Kara says with a wink, and Lena rolls her eyes, but she can’t help the smile that escapes. Kara looks just the right amount of dishevelled, her button-up shirt slightly wrinkled and her hair in a slight tangle, and Lena feels the strange, stupid urge to kiss her goodnight because this feels like a date – she can still feel the warmth of Kara’s hand and she still has the borrowed leather jacket sitting on her shoulders – but it isn’t. It isn’t a date, because Lena does not date bandmates.
The excuse sounds weaker every time she repeats it.
When Kara opens her arms for a hug, Lena can’t deny her. Kara pulls her in close and she smells good even after a night of playing in a sweaty club and driving through the Arizona desert – natural, like plain skin and a little bit like engine grease. She feels solid, strong against Lena’s softness, and already she knows they’re holding on to each other much longer than strictly necessary – is she smelling my hair?
They pull away slowly, and she’s struck by how close Kara is. Their chests are still brushing, they’re practically sharing breath, all it would take is for Lena to sway forward the tiniest bit –
Behind them the driver honks the horn, and they both jump back like they’re been burned. Kara’s pupils are bigger than they should be in such bright sunlight, and Lena’s heart leaps into her throat.
“Well, goodnight!” Lena says in a strangled voice, and slams the door shut.
Goodnight? It’s 7am. God, I’m such a fucking mess.
A few days later, she wishes to god that she had just gone home that night.
Not that she doesn’t treasure the memory – it’s one of the best nights she’s had in her life, sitting on the hood of Kara’s car and sharing in that beautiful stillness. But ever since then, Lena has been having…dreams. Intense, detailed, lifelike, very sexy dreams. And they’re driving her absolutely crazy.
They start out vanilla - just kissing and grinding, Kara stealing her away to dark backstages or pulling her into the back of the band van - and Lena wakes up hot and bothered, but coherent enough to shake it off with a cold shower. It’s getting harder and harder to look Kara in the eyes without blushing and imagining herself straddling her hips on some couch in an anonymous green room, but she’s managing.
But the final straw comes a few nights later. Lena wakes up sweaty and panting, absolutely aching to be touched – just seconds ago she had been bent over, Kara behind her, halfway to orgasm as she bit the mattress. She can still practically feel Kara’s hands digging into her hips, can hear her low words of encouragement, and god, she wishes she could still feel Kara inside her.
Turned on beyond comprehension she flips over, her hips in the air, and rubs herself frantically, the lasting dream-image of Kara bringing her over the edge in seconds. She cries out into her pillow, her fingers slick, and as she comes down with gasping breaths, the reality of the situation sinks in.
She broke her rule. She crossed her own line, let herself carry forward with her attraction to Kara until it boiled over, and now she has to deal with it. Her hips lower back down to the mattress and she rolls over slowly, looking at the time on her phone. 4:15am.
Might as well get up.
She has to do something, one way or the other. She can’t keep existing in this limbo, torn between acting on her desire and shutting Kara out completely.
This is getting out of control.
Their next gig is downtown, a short enough drive that they take their time in getting the equipment put away. As they finish packing the van up, Sam gasps.
“What?” Lena answers absently, absorbed in her phone – Sam posted a video of their warm-up earlier, and no less than 103 people have commented claiming that she and Kara are giving each other ‘sex eyes’.
I do not give sex eyes.
Sam, taking advantage of Lena’s distraction, has already linked arms with Alex on one side and Kara on the other, slowly pulling them away from the van. “Lena…the next bar over…is a karaoke bar.”
Lena’s head snaps up, her mouth already open in protest, but at the words ‘karaoke bar’ Kara has already squealed in delight and run inside the building. Alex shrugs, following her, and Sam gestures inside with a shit-eating grin.
“Samantha Arias, I am going to kill you.” Lena grounds out, slamming the van door shut. “If you didn’t have the keys in your pocket, I would have gotten in this car and left you here in this karaoke hell.”
“Yes, but I do have the keys, so you have to come in with us!”
Two beers and a shot of tequila later, she’s feeling much more charitable. Sam agreed to be the designated driver in exchange for putting Lena through the harrowing experience of karaoke, and Lena is taking full advantage.
“I don’t understand why you don’t like karaoke!” Kara yells over the warbling sound of someone butchering a Britney Spears song. “You’re a great singer!”
“It’s not about that. Karaoke is different,” Lena argues, as Alex tops up her glass.
“You have to sing something, you’re our lead. You need to keep up morale,” Alex says with a sly grin. Sam springs up, heading towards the emcee.
“Sam…Sam, where are you going?” Lena shouts after her, but she’s just waved off. Sam starts flipping through the song selection book next to the stage, and Lena sighs.
I’m gonna need another shot.
She has two, as do Kara and Alex, and by the time the first notes of ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ ring out and Sam takes the stage, she cheers along with them. Sam blows a kiss in their direction, and launches into the most dramatic rendition of a Duran Duran song she’s ever seen.
They applaud loudly and Kara wolf-whistles as Sam finishes the song and comes back to the table, pulling Alex out of her seat.
“Your turn, babe!” She winks, taking Alex’s place and pushing her towards the stage as the emcee announces her name. She does a respectable and occasionally hilarious performance of ‘Love is a Battlefield’, getting most of the bar to sing with her in an extroverted show that Lena didn’t realize she was capable of. She stops halfway through to drink the last few mouthfuls of her pint, holding a finger up as the music continues and everyone laughs.
Next up is Kara, and she bounds up to the stage with the excitement of a puppy let loose at the beach.
Of course I fall for someone who loves karaoke.
She doesn’t even register her own thought until a few moments later, and her drunk brain can barely muster the energy to care. She’s warm and happy and surrounded by friends, and Kara is on stage making eye contact while she sings “don’t you want me baby, don’t you want me, ooohhh…”
Kara finishes and takes her place next to Lena again, slinging an arm over the back of the booth. Lena starts to sink into the contact, but before she can really enjoy it, her name is being announced.
“And next up on the mic, with a classic Joan Jett anthem, Lena Luthor! Come on up, Lena!”
Sam is fighting a grin next to her, and she has to reach across Alex to smack her.
“Sam! You asshole, you know I hate karaoke –“
But Kara is already sliding out of the booth, pulling Lena by the hand. “Go on, give us a show!” she nudges her forward, and Lena begrudgingly climbs onto the stage. Sam knows that the only way to get her to get up on a stupid karaoke stage is to put stupid Joan Jett on the docket, and when the opening guitar riff plays, she actually finds herself getting into it.
She can see Kara playing air guitar in the crowd, and Sam was smart enough to choose her favourite song, and she yells “I don’t give a damn ‘bout my reputation” into the mic with no regard for whether or not she’s actually hitting the notes. By the end she’s breathing heavily but she’s unmistakeably happy, and Kara jumps out of her seat to jog to the stage. She whispers something in the emcee’s ear, and when Lena tries to hand her the mic she refuses, picking up a second one instead.
“And next up, with a timeless personal favourite, Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor!”
“What?” She hisses at Kara, who just grins and points to the screen. The opening notes play, and Kara sings the first line, and Lena fights the urge to throw herself into Kara’s arms for her goddamn perfect song selection.
“Now I had the time of my life…no, I never felt like this before…” Kara croons, holding out a hand. Lena takes it, grinning, and chimes in with her verse. Kara spins her expertly as the beat drops, making her laugh. Dirty Dancing has always been a guilty pleasure movie of hers, and even though she never told Kara, somehow she knew. Or, at least, she has good taste – either way, Lena knows that her feelings are shining brightly on her sleeve for everyone to see. She sings “With my body and soul, I want you more than you’ll ever know…” with startling candor, and at the apex of the song Kara’s eyes twinkle as she puts the mic back on the stand.
Lena gives her a questioning look, but Kara just opens her arms slightly, grinning. The meaning is clear: I’ll lift you.
“Kara, you can’t lift m-oof!” She loses her breath as Kara grabs her midsection, lifting her straight into the air. She’s only there for a few seconds before Kara slides her back down in a bear hug, but the crowd goes absolutely wild. Lena laughs, carefree and drunk – she dances, she spins, and at the end of the song she walks back to the booth with Kara’s hand in hers, thinking that maybe karaoke isn’t so bad.
The next morning she wakes up with a headache and a tidal wave of notifications from Instagram. Sam posted a video of Kara lifting her on stage, followed by a selfie-style shot of herself and Alex cheering, and it’s blown up. The comments are inundated with screaming and speculation, and Lena honestly can’t blame them – watching the video now, totally sober, she can see it too. Kara looks at her with clear affection, and when she slid back down from their impromptu lift, there are a few seconds where even she thinks they might kiss.
Sighing, she drops the phone beside her on the bed. There’s no damage controlling this – she just has to roll with it.
Things continue in a similar vein for over a month. They play more shows, they start making a usable amount of money from their singles, the video gets more attention, they start making plans for another, and Lena wrestles daily with her stupid, ill-advised, inescapable crush.
It takes just a single night for everything to shift.
“Sam, you lazy butt, put your crap away!” Kara crumples up a piece of sheet music and lobs it, clapping her hands together in delight when it hits Sam squarely in the face, shaking her out of her dreamy staring. Alex turned up to the gig today with a brand-new haircut, the sides shaved short and the top soft and glossy, and Sam has barely taken her eyes off her all night. Alex heaves the last piece of her drum kit into the back of the van while Sam gives Kara the finger – Lena is still inside, settling their payment with the club manager.
Finally Sam peels herself away, picking up her bass and setting it in its place beside Kara’s guitars. “There, happy? You could have picked it up for me, you know.”
“I know,” Kara says, grinning, “But I felt like inconveniencing you.”
Sam sticks out her tongue, taking her phone out of her pocket and glancing at it. Usually she scrolls briefly through their mentions, replying to everyone she has time for, but this time she freezes, her eyes going wide.
“Sam? What’s up?” Alex asks, laying a hand on Sam’s shoulder. Sam holds up the phone, and Alex’s jaw goes slack too.
“What? What am I missing?” Kara asks, slightly distracted by Lena approaching with a cheque in her hand. She’s wearing a simple tank top and jeans, her hair down and sort of messy, and Kara’s traitorous heart twists itself into a pretty bow at the sight of her.
“Legends of Tomorrow are here.”
At that, Kara’s head snaps back to look at Sam. “What?”
Sam holds up her phone – its Sara Lance’s twitter, with a photo of the stage they just played on. Kara and Sam are in the middle of one of their synchronized jumps, hair flying, and Lena looks radiant in her place at the front of the stage.
CaptainLance: Talent galore in NC tonight, looking at you @worldkillers
“Holy shit,” Lena whispers, seizing the phone from Sam’s hands. “Do you think they’re still here?”
They hurry back into the club through the back door – Alex trailing behind hesitantly – and Kara almost walks directly into a blonde woman even taller than she is.
“Oh, shoot, I’m so sorr-ooooh my god, you’re Ava Sharpe.”
Ava smiles, holding out a hand. “And you’re Kara Danvers. Nice to meet you.” Kara takes it, shaking it and trying not to gape. From behind Ava emerges a shorter woman, broad-shouldered and muscular and much more familiar.
“Kara! I was hoping to see you. Is your sister still around?” She winks, and Kara hears a loud bang behind her that she just knows is Alex running into something.
Even as she winks, though, her hand lands softly on Ava’s lower back as if it happens every day, and Kara starts to wonder whether the flirty façade Sara puts on is entirely legitimate anymore.
Legends of Tomorrow, signed under CatCo records, are hitting it big. Like, played-on-the-radio big. And, somehow, here they are – taking the time to come see a small-time band like the Worldkillers, even actively promoting them on their social media. Kara doesn’t understand it, but she sure as hell isn’t going to pass up the oppourtunity.
“We’ve got a booth in the corner. Come have a drink?” Sara offers, flashing a charming grin at Lena, and Kara feels a surge of jealousy she can’t quite push down when Lena blushes.
When they’ve settled into the booth and Ava has poured them all a beer from the pitcher on the table, Sara gets down to business. “We’re going on tour in July, and we’re looking for an opener. What do you guys think?”
Kara, thrown off guard, is glad when Sam responds. “Are you…are you serious?”
“We loved your music video. We came tonight to see how you play live, and you’re pretty fantastic.” Ava says, and Sara nods.
“But I figured you would be, with the Danvers sisters involved.” Sara leans back in her seat, laughing when Alex coughs into her beer. “Honestly, we’re really looking to support other queer musicians.”
“I – I mean, we’ll have to talk it over, but –“ Sam stutters, but Lena butts in.
“Absolutely. We’re in.”
Sara laughs, topping up Lena’s glass. “I like you. Lena, right? Where did they find you?”
“I think it’s more accurate to say that I found them,” Lena responds drily, arching a brow. The inferno rises inside Kara again when she sees Lena flirt so openly – she knows it shouldn’t, she knows she has no right to feel possessive when she and Lena are very much not together, and she knows that Sara is just a chronic flirt. But she can’t help it.
This could be a very long tour.
They agree to meet on Monday at CatCo studios to sign the contracts, and after finishing the pitcher, Sara and Ava leave together. Sara makes sure to give Lena an extra-long handshake and a wink before they leave, leaning forward to whisper something in her ear. Whatever it is, it makes Lena blush, and Kara has to look away quickly when Lena glances her way afterwards.
She sticks close for the rest of the night. While Alex and Sam get cozy at the bar, she teaches Lena how to play darts in the darkened corner of the bar, taking every oppourtunity to press herself into Lena’s back in the guise of showing her how to throw.
Finally, when Lena has had a few drinks and Kara rests her chin on her shoulder, Lena speaks up.
“Kara, I’m not interested in Sara.”
“Uh.” Kara gapes, stepping back a bit in shock. “What?”
“Sara Lance. I’m not interested – you don’t need to keep acting like a jealous girlfriend.” Lena smirks, reaching out to straighten Kara’s collar. Kara’s heart thuds so loudly that she’s sure Lena must hear it, must feel it under her fingers through the fabric of her shirt.
“I – what – I’m not –“ She stutters, knowing that a cherry-red blush is making its way, slowly but surely, up her neck and onto her face.
“You are. Luckily, it’s cute.”
Kara takes a few seconds to reply, completely thrown by the ‘cute’ comment. Lena just sips her drink, and Kara has to clarify. “…you’re really not into her? I mean…have you seen her?”
“I suppose…I have my eye on someone else.” Lena says cryptically, putting her drink down and picking up another handful of darts. “Now, show me that wrist movement again? I think I can beat you this time.”
Kara is grateful for Lena turning away, because the goofy smile on her face is probably really embarrassing.
“You know, I really, really like your hair.” Sam says, and Alex laughs, hiding her blush in her glass. She hasn’t been able to stop staring at it since Alex turned up at Lena’s earlier – it drove her to distraction during the show, even more so than usual. It looks so soft – Sam wants to run her fingers over the shaved parts, scratch her nails against Alex’s scalp until she purrs. She just looks so…gay.
She’s engrossed enough in staring at Alex, who tries to pretend she’s concentrating on the band that’s now on stage, that she hardly even gives it a second thought when Lena waves hurriedly at her from the door, Kara close behind her. She assumes that they’re sharing a cab, and goes back to staring.
Before she knows it, almost two hours have passed, and the bartender is announcing last call. She’s surprised when Alex turns away from the stage, meeting her gaze. For a few seconds they just stare at each other, the tension in the air building as Alex looks at her with intent – there’s something happening behind her eyes, something big. Sam blinks, taken aback by the sudden seriousness that seems to have accompanied the announcement of the end of the night.
“Sam…can I talk to you about something?”
Torn between elation and dread, Sam nods slowly. Alex lays a hand gently over hers, looking heartbreakingly earnest, and Sam feels a creeping sense of foreboding.
Oh, god. She’s going to ask me out. And I have to say no.
Suddenly the good mood of the night is gone. She wants to pull her hand away, wants to warn Alex of her promise to Lena before she puts her heart on the line, but the words get caught in her throat.
“I really like you, Sam. I’ve been trying to resist it, because I know it could complicate things, but…I can’t anymore. I can’t stop thinking about you.”
Sam wants to kiss her. She wants to grab her by the collar and pull her in and never let go again. But she can’t. She promised – she promised her best friend, and she can’t break that.
“I…I…” She starts, feeling the sudden urge to cry. “Just, um…I’ll be right back, okay?”
Alex looks confused, but nods, and Sam makes a break for the bathroom. She punches in Lena’s number, hearing the line ring over and over and pacing across the tiled floor.
“Come on, come on, pick up…” She mutters, and when she finally hears the line click and Lena’s sleep-rough voice on the other end, she almost breaks down.
“Lena! Look, I – I’m at the bar with Alex and she just told me she likes me. Like, she likes me. She wants to be with me. And I – I’m going to say no, I promised you, but I don’t know how to do it – I don’t even know why I’m calling you –“ She babbles, her voice getting higher and higher until Lena interrupts, her voice more clear.
“You should, um…you should go for it.”
The line is silent for a few seconds as Sam processes Lena’s words.
“Yeah.” Lena sighs. “I was stupid to get in the way of your happiness. Just…go, be with Alex. You’re good together.”
Sam feels relief and happiness in equal measure, but she can't help but ask. “But…what about the band?”
“We’ll be fine.” Lena says, sounding like she’s trying to convince herself as much as she is Sam. Normally it’s a tone that would prompt further prodding, but all Sam can think about is Alex sitting alone at the bar, probably thinking she’s just been rejected.
“Lena…” She says, and the implication is clear. Are you sure?
“Go, Sam. I should never have put you in this position to begin with. You shouldn’t feel guilty for acting on your feelings.”
Punching the air, Sam heads to the exit. “I love you, Lena!”
“Love you too.” The line clicks, and Sam shoves her phone in her pocket.
When she emerges from the hallway Alex is still at the bar stirring her whiskey with her pinkie and looking somewhat dejected. She looks up when Sam comes, and opens her mouth – probably to take back her confession, or try to salvage things - and then Sam is kissing her.
It’s perfect – her lips are warm and soft and inviting, and strong drummer’s hands slide up to cup her face as the kiss deepens. She doesn’t care that they’re in the middle of a bar, or that the edge of the bartop is digging into her side. None of it matters. Sam usually hates the taste of whiskey, but she loves it on Alex’s tongue.
Their lips part slowly, and she opens her eyes to see Alex’s still closed adorably. They open gradually, dreamily.
“I like you too.” Sam whispers, and Alex nods absently.
“You…do? You do. Right.” She licks her lips, finally smiling. “You taste like candy.”
Sam laughs, and kisses her again, over and over until Alex giggles. “Want to come back to my place?”
“I really do.”
Sam pays their tab, and they leave the bar hand in hand. The rest of the night is spend twisted in sweaty sheets, finally running her hands through Alex's newly-short hair and discovering the absolute wonders of a drummer's sense of rhythm.
Across town, Lena hangs up the call and stares at Sam’s contact photo for a few moments before she sets it back on her bedside table. Behind her, Kara tightens her hold on Lena's middle and nuzzles between her shoulderblades, soft breasts pressing into her back.
“Who was that?” She murmurs, pressing a few sleepy kisses to Lena’s spine.
“It was just Sam. Go back to sleep.”
Kara hums, and tangles their legs closer together.
BEFORE YOU ALL GET UPSET, I DID NOT LEAVE OUT THE SMUT - IT WILL HAPPEN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT CHAPTER I PROMISE
I just needed my dramatic moment, okay! Everything will happen next chapter.
This is really smutty. Like, the first 5000 words are smut, more or less. I upped the rating, because trust me, IT NEEDED TO BE UPPED. Hope you enjoy. ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kara’s dart whizzes through the air and lands with a thunk directly in the centre of the board, and Lena fans herself idly with a spare coaster. It feels hot in this bar, unbearably so, and it only gets worse when Kara gathers both of their darts (one of Lena’s being embedded in the wall a few inches above the board) and turns back to her with a grin. She makes another mark next to her own name on the little chalkboard, sets the darts back on their table.
“So, what was that about beating me?”
Lena rolls her eyes, but her still-flushed face gives her away. She can’t help but smile at Kara’s faux-cocky attitude.
“Well, suppose I don’t mind when you come out on top.”
Kara chokes on her drink, rum and coke dribbling down her chin as she coughs, and Lena mentally berates herself. The words slipped out without really thinking about it. She’s been feeling strange all night, letting her feelings get the best of her – ever since Sara Lance leaned in in the guise of a kiss on the cheek and whispered in her ear. She hasn’t been able to get them out of her head, and they’re making her reckless.
“You should go for it. Trust me…it’s worth it.“
At first she brushed it off, but the longer she spends with Kara tonight, the more the words echo through her brain. It’s worth it. How could it be? How is she supposed to ignore how horribly wrong this could go? It was obvious that Sara and Ava had something going on, even if Kara hadn’t quite picked up on it. She’d been taking every excuse to drape herself protectively over Lena all night, until Lena called her out on it.
I called her cute. Why did I do that?
She looks behind them at the bar, where Alex and Sam sit watching the band on stage and laughing quietly together. She can’t see Alex’s face, but she can see Sam’s, and the doubt in her heart – doubt of her own self-imposed rule – keeps growing. Sam is wearing a look as she watches Alex that Lena has never seen on her best friend’s face before – pure, unfiltered adoration. She’s nuts about the older Danvers, and Lena has been letting her struggle with her feelings just so that she can feel in control of their situation.
And when she glances back at Kara, she sees something terribly similar before Kara quickly averts her eyes back to the dartboard. Fondness. Warmth.
“Lena? You okay?”
Kara sounds concerned, leaning close and following Lena’s eyeline. Lena can smell her perfume, can see the flecks of grey and hazel in her blue eyes, and she watches as a piece of hair slips out from behind Kara’s ear and flutters over her face. Kara ignores it, too focused on Lena, and without hesitation Lena reaches out and tucks it back. Her thumb lingers, stroking gently along Kara’s cheek.
Kara grins sweetly, surprised and pleased at the contact, and something in Lena starts to shift.
Kara suggests that they share a Lyft home, stopping at Kara’s apartment first and then going out to Lena’s place on the beach after. It’s only 11, so Lena is happy to prolong her time with Kara, and agrees. They wave at Sam and Alex on the way out, but the two are lost in their own world, and barely acknowledge them.
In the car she leans close, putting her head on Kara’s shoulder and smelling her unique scent, perfume and sunshine and clean sweat, and all too soon they’re at Kara’s apartment. Lena finds herself getting out of the car when Kara does, and Kara gives her a strange look as she stands awkwardly on the curb.
“I…wanted a hug.” Lena improvises, unsure herself of why she got out of the car. Kara, ever accommodating, just grins and pulls her close.
As Kara’s arms close around her, she feels warm. Safe. Happy. She noses into Kara’s neck, and feels her pulse jump. Something is screaming in the back of her head that this is a bad idea, that she needs to step back and get back in the Lyft – but she silences it. Finally, her head is blissfully empty, and she follows her instincts.
She lays a soft kiss on Kara’s neck. Kara tenses, and Lena can feel the tendons flex as she swallows.
“Mmmm?” Lena replies distractedly, too caught up in her first taste of Kara’s skin.
Kara’s voice breaks slightly as Lena nuzzles closer. “Um. Not that this isn’t fantastic, but uh –“
Lena kisses her neck again, this time open-mouthed, and flicks her tongue gently. Her teeth scrape lightly over Kara’s throat, and Kara honest-to-god whimpers. Finally she pulls back a little, their foreheads nearly touching.
“I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret.” Kara’s voice is hushed and urgent, like she’s having trouble getting the words out and she’s afraid that if she doesn’t say them now, she never will. She’s sweet, and considerate, and wonderful, and Lena wishes that she would stop it. This self-destruction would be so much easier if Kara was anyone else.
But then, anyone else wouldn’t drive Lena so crazy, would they?
“The only thing I regret is not doing this sooner.” Lena whispers, a little too truthfully for comfort, but Kara looks like she needs the reassurance.
Kara looks like she’s fighting a smile, but she seems determined for one last try. “You’re drunk.”
“I was tipsy an hour ago, there’s a difference.”
Kara sighs, cupping Lena’s face, and Lena leans into it, her eyes closing with the pleasure of such a simple touch.
“You told me after our first show that you don’t date bandmates.”
Lena pauses, then, her hands clenched in the collar of Kara’s shirt. Those feelings come rushing back – the fear, the doubt. What they have as a band is good. They’re getting well-known, becoming icons of their small community, and there’s promise for even more in the future. This could ruin everything. But then she meets Kara’s eyes. She sees desire there, and affection, and something else too. Something deeper. Her pupils are blown out, her lips shiny, and for once, Lena shuts off her brain.
It’s surprisingly gentle, when their lips first meet. Kara is almost completely still, her hands hovering awkwardly somewhere near Lena’s waist, and Lena uses the collar of her shirt to pull her closer. With the length of Kara finally pressed against her, her lips finally softening to reciprocate the kiss, something in her chest unlocks, and a tidal wave rushes out.
She grasps the back of Kara’s neck, slanting her face and deepening the kiss until Kara opens to her, and starts to lose control. Strong hands land on her waist, and she’s almost lifted clear off the ground – Kara is pinning her to the car, pressing into her, and now there’s tongue and a hard thigh slipping between hers –
A loud honk startles them out of their bubble. The driver is gesturing at them, looking irritated, and Lena waves him off, hitting the top of the car. Kara is still insistently nipping at her neck, and the world is starting to narrow to the places where their bodies touch.
“Just – just go, take the full fare, I don’t care –“ She groans, one hand sinking into blonde waves and the other clutching Kara’s broad shoulders. Kara pulls her away from the door and the driver immediately takes off, accelerating back into traffic.
They’re left alone on the sidewalk, pressed together and quiet. Kara’s lips are parted, her warm breath washing over Lena’s face, and she licks them absent-mindedly as Lena traces patterns over her shoulder.
“I need you to tell me you’re sure about this.”
Kara, perfect Kara, is giving her one last out. Another oppourtunity to rein in whatever madness has overtaken her, to put this behind them and go back to being just two members of the Worldkillers. Kara looks at her like she expects her heart to be broken at any minute.
Seconds pass, the sounds of the city quiet, and Lena’s heart strains against her chest, trying to get closer to Kara.
“Take me upstairs?”
Kara’s apartment is tiny – in fact, the entirety of it could probably fit into Lena’s kitchen. She gets a brief glance at the details – shabby but clean linoleum countertops, an easel and some paints by the window, fairy lights strung over the couch – before Kara’s lips are on hers again and she’s being practically carried towards the small bedroom, laughing into Kara’s mouth.
She hits the blankets gently, Kara’s hand under her lower back to soften her fall, and from that point on she endeavours to let their lips part as little as possible. She undresses Kara frantically – she’s fairly sure that at least two of her shirt buttons are on the floor somewhere – and Kara responds in kind, fumbling with the zipper of Lena’s jeans and tugging at her tank top until Lena abandons her quest to unclip her bra and lifts her arms instead.
Kara’s body is exactly as good as Lena imagined it. She’s all broad shoulders and hard thighs and strong arms, and Lena can’t pass up the oppourtunity to press her lips (and tongue) to a flexing bicep as Kara holds herself up. The more is revealed, the more Lena wants, so much so that she completely forgets to be self-conscious.
Months and months of pent-up desire is spilling over, filling Lena up until her hands shake and every inch of her skin that touches Kara’s is alight with it. When Kara finally wrestles her pants off and climbs back onto the bed, Lena hooks a leg around her hips and presses them together, chest to chest, hip to hip, their foreheads touching. Kara is almost panting, now, her breath coming quick and hard, and she feels wet heat paint her thigh - evidence of how much Kara wants her.
“Lena,” Kara whispers against her mouth, pressing her hips forward again and sending beautiful jolts down her spine. “Lena, god, you’re so – you’re so beautiful, I –“
Her voice is brimming with unvoiced emotion, and Lena can feel the answering echo of it in her own chest. Desperate to ignore it, to have a single night that isn’t spent wrestling with her feelings, she grips Kara’s neck tightly and kisses her with everything she has.
“Lena –“ Kara tries again, pulling away slightly, but Lena is relentless.
“Shh,” She pleads, arching into Kara’s hands. “No talking tonight, please. Just touch me. Just for tonight, let us have this.”
And Kara does. She slides down Lena’s body like silk, soft hair tickling her belly and thighs and oh.
The noise that comes out of Lena’s mouth as Kara’s tongue does something goddamn magical to her clit is ungodly, somewhere between a shout and a pornographic moan, and it only gets worse from there. She goes from a relaxed, reclined position to arched like a bow in no time, heels digging hard into Kara’s back and hand clenched in her loose hair. Her tongue just doesn’t stop moving, and then there’s fingers, pressing, pressing, and before she can comprehend what’s happening, she’s coming hard and fast into Kara’s mouth.
The whole thing takes maybe 35 seconds, and Lena burns with embarrassment even as her body is lit up with unfiltered pleasure.
Kara doesn’t let up immediately – her fingers keep moving, slowly and languidly, keeping Lena on edge as she comes up to kiss. Her face is wet all the way down past her chin, and Lena feels the need to justify herself even as Kara kisses down her neck, smearing slick all the way. She tries to ignore how that fact makes her pulse – that Kara was too eager to keep going to even stop and wipe her mouth.
“Kara – usually I last longer, I wasn’t really expecting that. I’m really sorry –“
Kara pauses, holding herself up so that she can look down at Lena from above.
“What are you talking about? It was so fucking hot.”
Lena relaxes considerably after that. She’s well past her second peak and rounding the corner into her third, Kara chasing her by grinding herself on Lena’s thigh, by the time she manages to reciprocate. She slides her hand down, her fingers intercepting Kara’s next movement, and Kara groans helplessly as Lena rubs her to orgasm.
Kara heaves deep breaths, pulling back to meet Lena’s eyes. Kara’s are bright, and her lips are swollen, and her cunt is still hot on Lena’s fingers, and the words that leave her next are purely instinctual.
“Sit on my face.”
A few seconds of silence follow, and Lena is starting to feel the barest hints of embarrassment creeping into her mind when Kara nods enthusiastically, scrambling to comply. Lena’s face is bracketed by Kara’s thighs, and then Kara is on her tongue, and fuck, it’s exquisite – she has no idea why she waited so long to do this.
This is perfect, Kara is grinding herself shamelessly onto Lena’s mouth and clutching the headboard like a lifeline and Lena can reach up and trace her fingers along the hard muscles of her pelvis like she longed to do months ago, thirst-following Kara’s Instagram. Kara’s abs twitch at the touch, and Lena decides that from this day forward, every moment she isn’t doing this is a waste of her time.
One of Kara’s hands wanders towards her chest before stopping, flexing and clenching again – she puts it on the headboard instead, seemingly a bit conflicted. Lena pulls her mouth away, determined to make Kara feel as good as possible.
“Do it, Kara. Touch your nipples.”
Kara looks surprised, but undeniably interested. Her hand makes contact this time, and when she rolls a nipple between her fingers, her hips grind hard into Lena’s face. Lena groans, ecstatic to feel Kara’s clit dragging along her tongue, but Kara seems to take it as a groan of discomfort – she lifts herself up immediately, looking horrified.
“Oh god, did I crush you? I know I’m heavy, I don’t think sometimes, Alex has always said I’m too strong for my own good –“
“Kara!” Lena interrupts, her comprehension slightly clouded by the fact that Kara’s cunt is still inches from her face and all she wants to do is bury herself in it. “Please don’t talk about Alex right now. Come back here.”
A few minutes later, and Kara is riding Lena’s face in earnest. She has one hand on her breast and the other in Lena’s hair, rolling her hips unselfconsciously, thighs quivering with tension – she leans her forehead on the headboard, whimpering -
“I’m – Lena, I’m gonna –“
Lena just moans, hooks her arms around Kara’s hips, and pulls her closer. It’s apparently exactly what Kara needed – Kara cries out wordlessly, her eyes squeezing shut, and Lena feels the exact moment when she tips over. Her clit twitches, there’s a small gush of fluid somewhere near Lena’s chin, and Lena shoves a hand roughly down to her own cunt, painfully turned on by the overwhelming taste of it and the visual of Kara with every muscle flexed. A few messy strokes later she squeaks, the smaller orgasm taking the edge off.
Kara’s hands start to soften from where they were clutching at the headboard, blood returning to her white fingers, and she collapses soon after, trembling talking to herself – fuck and Lena feature heavily in the dialogue - as Lena slowly wipes her face and licks her fingers clean.
“I’ve never done that before.” She confesses shakily, staring at the ceiling for a moment before turning to look at Lena with wonder. “That was amazing. I didn’t – thank you.”
Lena is still stuck a few steps behind, her groggy post-orgasm brain struggling to process. “You – you’ve never done what? Had sex?”
“No!” Kara snorts, nudging Lena with an elbow. “God, no. Just…that.” Kara gestures vaguely at the headboard, starting to blush.
“You’ve never done that position? Ever?”
“No?” Kara answers, shrugging in a way that tries to be noncommittal, but Lena can see through it. “I mean, I’ve had girls ride my face before. But nobody ever asked me to do the opposite.”
“And you never asked them?”
“It just seemed…I don’t know, rude?”
Lena laughs, rolling so that she’s half-draped over Kara’s still-shaking form. “Well, is there anything else you always felt too rude to ask? I’m happy to indulge you.”
Kara, it turns out, has several ideas on that front. It’s well past 2am when she finally collapses, sweaty and spent, wrapping herself around Lena’s equally exhausted body and falling asleep almost immediately after the quick goodnight kiss. Lena, more sated than she can ever remember being, relaxes into the embrace.
Just as she’s starting to drift off, her phone rings. Sam’s contact photo lights up Kara’s shadowy room, and reality comes crashing down around her ears.
“Just, um…I’ll be right back, okay?”
Sam turns and high-tails it towards the women’s washroom, and Alex’s heart sinks so low that she can practically hear it hit the sticky bar floor.
Fantastic. Nothing like a 2am rejection to make you feel good about yourself. She finishes her whiskey in a single swig, and gestures to the bartender.
A new glass slides into her grasp, and she takes another sip. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
She’s been harboring these stupid, ill-advised, unshakable feelings for Sam ever since she first saw her at the audition. Before that, even – she had seen the Worldkillers in their previous iteration at the Mod Club over a year ago, and she hadn’t been able to take her eyes off the bass player. It’s gotten progressively worse the more time they spend together, and tonight, she had honestly thought that it was finally time to say something.
Sam has been staring at her all night, her eyes full of obvious appreciation, and when Lena and Kara both went home Alex decided to just take the leap.
Now, she’s seriously regretting her choice to come out at all tonight. Or ever. Locking herself in the shitty gym in her building and taking her anger issues out on the equipment is seeming like a better and better option.
Or whiskey. Lots of whiskey.
I can just tell her I’m drunk, that I made a mistake. We can go back to being friends. She tries to ignore the bitter taste in her mouth at that thought.
She’s stirring her drink forlornly with a pinkie, debating the merits of just getting up and leaving before her pride can get any more bruised, when the bathroom door slams open again. Alex looks up just in time to see a Sam-shaped blur headed her way, a determined look on her face. Before she can get a word out, Sam’s lips are on hers in a surprising, electric kiss.
It takes her a second to process, but soon enough her entire body melts into Sam’s, as much as the awkward angle of her barstool allows. Her fingers slide into Sam’s long hair, and her head swims from something besides the alcohol. When they slowly part and Sam nips at her lower lip, Alex runs her tongue over it and tastes sweet orange flavouring. When she can finally pull herself together again and open her eyes, her entire field of vision is Sam’s warm brown gaze.
“I like you, too.”
It feels like Alex had never understood the power of words before this moment. All it takes is four for all the stress in her body to leave in a rush, heralded by Sam’s surprising confession. Everything feels warm and hazy, and she says the first thing that comes into her head.
“You taste like candy.”
Luckily, Sam seems to find her ineloquence charming. In what seems like an instant they’re standing in the fresh air outside the bar, and Sam is pressing her insistently into the nearest wall and capturing her lips again. Alex can hear wolf-whistles somewhere to their right, but they may as well be coming from underwater – they’re overcome by the roar of her pulse, by the breathy noises Sam makes when Alex’s tongue meets hers. By the time Sam is sucking what feels like a sizeable hickey into her neck, Alex finally manages to remember what they came out here for.
“I thought – aren’t we going back to your place?” Alex gasps, and Sam pulls her mouth away. Alex feels the loss immediately, the cool air on her wet skin making her shiver, but Sam soon makes it up to her by connecting their lips again.
“Your place is closer,” She breathes into Alex’s mouth, and Alex’s mind is suddenly overrun with the thought that Sam is going to be in her bed.
Did I wash my sheets?
“Let’s get a cab.”
They finally hail one two streets over, distracted as they are by the sudden need to be connected at all times, and as soon as they’ve slid into the back seat and Alex has given her address to the driver, her lap is full of a very enthusiastic bassist with wandering hands.
The ride seems to take no time at all – one minute Sam is grinding slowly into her lap, guiding Alex’s hands to her hips, and the next the car has stopped and the cab driver is staring at them in the rear-view mirror with a bored expression.
Alex gives him a sizable tip for his trouble, and practically drags Sam up the stairs to her unit.
It takes her a minute to get her key in the door, distracted by Sam being plastered to her back with a hand halfway up her shirt, but when they finally stumble inside and slam the door behind them, they both pause. Alex swallows, needing to take the oppourtunity to make herself clear.
“This isn’t just a hookup for me. I just…I need you to know that. I really like you. I – this means something. To me.” She manages to say, stuttering more than she’d like but surprisingly firm.
“Alex…” Sam says softly, so softly that it makes her chest ache. “Alex.” She walks closer, until finally they’re sharing breath. Sam cups her face, kisses Alex with gentle lips, and when her eyes open again she’s met by the warmest look she’s ever seen.
“I like you so much.”
It’s slow, at first. Slower than Alex has ever experienced – Sam takes her time, leaving nowhere unexplored. Sam spreads her out on the bed and, systematically, inch by inch, takes her apart. Sam’s mouth charts a course from Alex’s ears down her neck, across her collarbones and down to her nipples. She kisses the soft, sensitive inner skin of Alex’s arm down to her wrist, swirls her tongue around Alex’s fingertips, and nips several pink marks into her hipbones.
Alex comes the first time whimpering into Sam’s mouth, with long clever fingers curling inside her. She’s still in the thick of it when Sam gently urges her to flip over, and without taking her hand away, lavishes attention on her shoulders and her back, slowly pumping her fingers and leaving harsher red indents with her teeth.
Alex buries her face in the sheets, biting down and muffling the pathetic noises that come out of her mouth every time Sam scissors her fingers. She moans, and shudders, and moves her hips – she usually isn’t one for multiples, but Sam is nudging her along the path to another orgasm so gently that she can feel it building despite herself. Sam’s wicked mouth moves down her lower back and over her ass, and when her tongue swirls devastating circles very close to an area unexplored, she can feel herself clenching hard. She logs that reaction to be investigated thoroughly later, trying to ignore how she can feel Sam’s smug grin without even looking.
And then, Alex can feel her thighs being guided up and off the mattress. Sam’s fingers twist slightly and before Alex can pull her face out of the mattress to investigate, Sam has rolled onto her back, slid herself underneath Alex’s still-bent hips, and pulled them down onto her face.
After that, she loses track of things.
Sam’s tongue is in a hundred places at once, until it isn’t – it zeroes in on her clit with laser precision, and stays there until Alex is screaming facedown into the nearest pillow.
By the time Alex manages to turn the tables, Sam is so eager that she bucks her hips impatiently and Alex’s exploratory fingers slip from her clit downwards. Almost accidentally, she’s buried two fingers deep, and before she can pull out and profusely apologize Sam is moaning, her head thrown back against the pillows. Sam’s hand fists in her hair, nails scraping against her shaved scalp, and that only seems to drive her more wild. The gentleness is evaporating, replaced by desperation, and seeing Sam turned on to near-insanity makes Alex confident.
She moves down and spreads Sam’s thighs, pulling at her body until she slides towards the end of the bed. By the time Sam is looking at her in blinking confusion, wondering why they aren’t pressed together anymore, Alex is on her knees and moving in to taste. At the first tough of her tongue, Sam lets out a long, drawn-out groan, her stomach starting to tremble.
“Alex – oh, god. I’m not – gonna last –“
Alex just groans, already addicted to the heady taste of her. She doesn’t want Sam to last. She wants her to come, right now, she wants to cover as much of her face as possible in Sam’s come, she wants –
She gets her wish, then. Sam seizes up, her mouth open silently and every muscle shaking for a moment before she relaxes with a relieved sound. Her hips move almost lazily against Alex’s mouth, and she happily keeps coaxing Sam through it until her head is pushed away gently. Laying one last soft kiss on Sam’s overstimulated clit, she wipes her mouth and lets Sam guide her up for a few slow, deep kisses.
“Fuck,” Sam breathes into her mouth, nipping at her lower lip and grinning. “I knew that would be incredible, but…fuck.”
“Yeah.” Alex echoes, and she’s sure she’s grinning like a lovestruck moron but she doesn’t care. Sam is stroking her cheek and running gentle nails over her scalp and looking at her like she hung the moon, and for once she couldn’t give a flying fuck what she looks like.
“So,” Sam breaks the comfortable silence after a few minutes of trading kisses. “Do I still taste like candy?”
With an undignified snort, Alex bursts into laughter, rolling over and hiding her face in the blankets. Sam follows, smiling that affectionate grin, wrapping long arms around her and peppering her shoulders with kisses. Finally Alex sighs happily, and answers.
Sunlight filters through the ineffective blinds and hits Lena in the face at an ungodly hour on Sunday morning. Birds chirp, cars whiz by far below, and slowly Lena’s groggy morning brain comes to three realizations. The first is that the double bed she’s lying in is very uncomfortable. The second is an extension of the first – the uncomfortable bed is definitely not hers, and thus she is somewhere besides her very dark, very roomy bedroom. And thirdly, she realizes that she is definitely not alone.
There’s a warm body pressed against her back, and an arm slung over her waist. A nose nuzzles gently between her shoulderblades, and finally her brain catches up with her body.
Memories of last night come rushing back, and to her own surprise, Lena doesn’t feel the tidal wave of panic or regret that she was expecting. The voice that’s plagued her for months, kept her from giving in to this, is finally quiet. Kara shifts behind her, slipping her knee between Lena’s and wiggling her toes as she starts to wake up, and all Lena feels is content.
Her eyes crack open just as Kara starts to get restless. She feels her move away slightly, and rolls over – she’s met with Kara propped up on an elbow and looking down on her, already looking alert and grinning.
Lena groans, rubbing at her eyes. “How are you always so chipper in the morning?”
“You would be too, if you were waking up to this.” Kara punctuates the compliment by dragging her eyes up Lena’s body, wiggling her eyebrows. She’s suddenly intensely aware of the way the blanket sits around her navel, especially when Kara’s eyes catch and remain on at her chest for a few seconds longer than strictly necessary. The memories of the previous night – of straddling Kara, a hot mouth on her nipples, sucking relentlessly until she was rubbing herself all over Kara’s abs – rush back again, and Lena rolls over, trying to hide her blush.
Kara traces soft patterns on her back, and when she speaks, Lena can actually hear genuine apprehension.
The question is simple, but Lena knows the meaning behind it. Kara is asking whether Lena regrets last night. Kara is preparing herself for the worst, for Lena to freak out and rescind her actions. And Lena doesn’t blame her.
“Actually…yeah,” Lena murmurs, eyes drifting closed with a happy sigh as Kara draws hearts and stars and swirls on her skin. She can practically feel Kara’s smile, even with her back turned.
“So…if I wanted to do it again sometime?” The question is hopeful, but Kara is clearly prepared for a negative answer.
Lena turns back over, grabbing Kara’s hand before she can pull it away and kissing her palm. “I’d like to do it a lot more times, actually. If that’s okay with you.”
“Oh!” Kara blinks, looking genuinely thrown off guard for the first time since Lena’s known her. “I – yeah!”
“I just…” Lena starts, sighing and intertwining their fingers. She wants to do this – now that she’s started, she can’t fathom stopping – but the fear is creeping back. “I don’t know if I can be…public about it right away.” Being public lets other people into their business, and that leads to breakups and band tensions and a whole big fucking mess. A mess that Lena wants to avoid at all costs.
“It has to be discreet.”
“Discreet,” Kara echoes, smiling softly. “I can do that.” The rest of the sentence goes unvoiced, but it hangs between them nonetheless: As long as I can be with you.
Needing to change the subject, Lena clears her throat and runs her fingers over the celtic-looking tattoo that encircles Kara’s bicep. “What’s this?”
Lena raises a judgemental eyebrow, and Kara laughs, elaborating. “It’s just a medieval aesthetic thing. I used to be really into like, King Arthur stuff. It’s based on illuminated manuscripts. I kinda got it to draw attention to my guns.” She flexes, winking, and Lena snorts, squeezing her hand lightly over the tattoo.
“Well, it worked.”
“My other one is a lot more personal.”
“Oh? I’ve been wondering what it was.” Lena has glimpsed it a few times, but always from far away or, like last night, when she was distracted – all she knows is that it’s red, and sits over Kara’s shoulder. Kara turns over, pulling her hair to one side and finally revealing the mark. It’s a small red symbol, with blue and gold accents. Lena traces her finger over it, furrowing her brow – it looks familiar. When she recognizes it, she laughs.
“Superman, Kara? Really?”
“Supergirl.” Kara insists, with adorable vehemence. “I always felt a connection with her in the comics, you know. She lost her parents when she was young, sent far away, taken in by a family she loved, but still missed her home. Plus, she was stronger than Superman and totally gay.”
It’s a lot of information all at once, and Lena focuses on the strangest bit.
“…Supergirl was gay?”
Kara spends the rest of the morning educating Lena on the subtextual lesbian energy of the Supergirl comics, and Lena spends it staring at her, nodding along and soaking in Kara’s attention. Eventually they end up intertwined again, Kara on her back and Lena pillowing her head on her chest, and Kara asks the question that Lena has really been hoping to avoid today.
“So…last night, when Sam called.”
“Oh. Right.” Shit.
“What was that about?” Kara looks down at her, thoughtlessly running her fingers through Lena’s hair. Lena takes a deep breath.
“Well, she was calling to ask – I might have encouraged her to. Um. Pursue her feelings for Alex.”
Kara pauses, her hand stilling in its aimless movement, to look at her incredulously. “You encouraged…Lena, did you tell Sam to sleep with my sister?”
After a moment of stillness, Kara’s face breaks out in a grin, and she throws her hands up. “Finally! Wow, I was not expecting you to support it, but they’ve needed to hook up since like, last year.”
Lena blinks, relieved but a bit thrown off. “They hadn’t met last year.”
“Exactly. That’s how bad it was.”
Lena laughs, shaking her head and laying her hand flat on Kara’s sternum. Her skin is warm, and slightly oily from last night’s sweat. Lena loves it. “You make no sense.”
Kara just shrugs, leaning over to press a quick kiss to Lena’s cheek as she swings herself up and out of bed. “I know!”
“Where are you going?” Lena asks, slightly disgruntled at suddenly being alone in bed. Kara just calls back from the next room, already in the kitchen of her shoebox apartment.
“To get breakfast!”
Lena tries to go home. She really does. A few times, when Kara is making another takeout order or dozing between orgasms, she starts to gather her things from the floor and get herself together. She even manages to get her (definitely ruined) underwear back on at one point, but when Kara returns from the bathroom and her eyes land hungrily on Lena again, her whole body heats up. Kara leads her to the bathtub, full of hot water and bubbles and lined with flickering candles, and she lets Kara ravish her in the guise of getting clean.
As Kara mouths at her neck and plays with her soapy breasts, she decides to give up on the whole endeavour. Spending the day naked in bed with Kara Danvers is much more appealing, anyways.
She ends up staying over again, too worn out from the day’s activities to bother getting a cab all the way home. At least, that’s what she tells herself as she drifts off to an unusually peaceful sleep in Kara’s strong embrace, soothed by a steady heartbeat.
She sleeps so well that it takes a phone call from Sam to wake her up on Monday morning. The moment she sees her contact photo, she realizes what day it is.
She and Kara manage to throw themselves together and get in a cab in record time, and when they pull up to CatCo records, Alex and Sam are waiting outside looking only marginally annoyed. The annoyance turns to suspicion on their parts when Lena and Kara get out of the cab together, sporting matching messy ponytails and Lena wearing what is clearly Kara’s hoodie.
To Lena’s dismay, Sam’s eyes widen in recognition. Before she can hurriedly suggest they go inside to meet Sara and Ava, Sam has grabbed her arm and is pulling her away.
“Lena, can I talk to you for a sec?” She says, clearly already in the midst of talking to her for a sec. She stops just out of earshot of Kara and Alex, grabbing Lena’s shoulders excitedly.
“Did you sleep with Kara?”
Lena flinches, looks furtively around her as if someone could be listening. The anxiety she’s been keeping at bay for the last two days creeps back in. “Can’t we talk about this later?”
“Oh, no, we definitely cannot talk about this later.” Sam retorts, shaking her slightly. “You totally did!”
“Was it before or after I called you?”
Lena sighs, resigned to Sam’s innate sexual radar. “It – before. Sam, can we please –“
“Ha!” Sam crows, so loudly that Alex and Kara turn their way with curious expressions. “I knew it, I knew you’d break, you’ve been making eyes at her for months -”
“Yes, yes, okay, I’m weak, we’ve established that!” Lena hisses, flapping her hands in a fruitless attempt to make Sam speak quietly for once. “Can we please discuss my bad moral fibre another time?”
“Why? Do you not want Alex to find out? Because, we’re dating, so she’s going to find out eventually.”
“Of course I don’t want – wait, what?” Lena stops, finally registering Sam’s statement.
Sam has the decency to blush, shrugging in a way that Lena knows means she’s very self-conscious. “We sort of decided on it last night. It was…it was amazing, actually.”
Lena softens, her panic-induced anger dissolving at Sam’s obvious happiness. “Sam…congratulations. Really. You two are clearly good together.”
“Thanks for encouraging me to go for it.” Sam smiles more softly, her excitement tempered by talking about her own fledgling relationship.
“You should thank Kara.” Lena says, glancing over to catch Kara’s eye. She grins, waving slightly, and Alex’s suspicion visibly deepens. “If we hadn’t…well, you know. My answer might have been different.”
“…can I tell Alex? You know she’s going to find out anyways. Kara tells her everything.” Sam asks, and Lena concedes that she has a point.
Before Sam can even turn around to head back towards the Danvers, Lena hears Alex’s voice, loud with indignation.
“And you didn’t tell me?”
Kara is trying to respond when Lena whips around, heart sinking. She was really hoping that they could save the awkward sexual revelations until later. Much, much later.
“Well – no?” Kara says raising her hands in surrender. “It only happened last night, and I wasn’t going to text you during –“
Alex is opening her mouth to retort when the doors of the studio open, and a blonde head sticks out. Sara spots them and waves them in, laughing.
“Are you guys coming, or what?”
Sara and Ava are just as kind and welcoming as they were on Saturday night. Cat Grant herself doesn’t descend from on high to meet them, of course, but they’re reassured that Cat has heard their music and approves of the partnership. The tour is set to start in just over two months, and after the contracts are signed, they get a binder full of information about the plans. The Legends setlist, the list of show dates and cities, pages and pages of stage dimensions and sound and lighting system capabilities, and logistics. Lena takes the binder gratefully, intending to go through it with a fine-toothed comb over the next few weeks.
After all is said and done, Sam suggests that they head back to Lena’s to celebrate. Since Alex is the only one who brought her car, they pile into it – Lena gives into her impulse to hold hands with Kara, trying to ignore Sam’s knowing look – and head to the beaches.
Her good mood evaporates when they pull into her driveway to find another car already there. It’s a Rolls-Royce, black and shiny and overly large, and Lena’s heart sinks with the immediate knowledge of who will be sitting behind the wheel.
“That’s not your car. Who the hell is in your driveway?” Alex asks, and Lena has to steel herself before she can respond.
“You changed the locks.”
It’s been over six months since Lena has seen Lillian Luthor, and she hasn’t changed a bit. She still towers over her, untouchable and statuesque, cold and calculating. Lena offers her something to drink, pouring a mug of tea for herself, and she declines in a way that seems polite but Lena knows is judgemental. Alex, Kara, and Sam wait in the basement, quiet in a way that Lena knows means they’re listening from the stairs.
“Yes. I got sick of coming home to you waiting for me inside my own house like some kind of supervillain.” Lena retorts, stirring honey into her drink.
Lillian tsks, shaking her head. “It’s my house.”
“I don’t see your name on the paperwork, mother.”
Lillian sighs, casting her eyes around at Lena’s decoration with thinly-masked disdain. “Is this how you’re living? Shabby couches and posters on the walls? I told you when you decided to pursue this hobby that I’d gladly buy a record label and get you signed –“
Lena scoffs, abandoning her tea so that she can walk off some of her excess energy. “So you can control me more easily? Like you did when I was in college, and you bribed my advisor to try to convince me to change my major? No, thanks.”
“I just want you to be happy.” Lillian says, feigning concern, and Lena cuts her off before she can spout more lies.
“You want me to be successful, so that it reflects well on you.” She snaps, finally losing her cool. “Why are you here?”
She feels the anger seething, curling up underneath her skin and making it buzz with anxiety. Lillian wants something – she always wants something. Luckily, she reveals what it is fairly quickly.
“This…relationship is ill-advised, Lena.”
Lena’s stomach clenches, and she has to swallow back the bile that rises in reaction to her mother knowing her business. Kara. Of course she knows. How could she know?
“So, you’ve been keeping tabs on me.” She manages to say, turning her back and leaning on the counter in an attempt to collect herself.
“Of course I have. And the way you act on stage, throwing your lifestyle around, touring with that band. And now, spending the night elsewhere and then turning up holding hands with that girl. You’re never going to be successful if you keep projecting that image.”
“My lifestyle? You mean the fact that I’m a lesbian?” Lena says, her voice rising in pitch and volume as she lets her emotion shine through.
“Lena.” Lillian chides, looking disapproving.
“It’s not a swear word, mother. It’s who I am.”
“Well, who you are will never make it. Never. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
An icy chill washes over Lena, and Lillian smiles, knowing she’s struck a nerve. Openly gay musicians don’t often make it in the industry, especially a band featuring four gay women. They’re doing well right now, but they’re beating against a glass ceiling, and she knows it. But something about Lillian’s wording throws her off.
“Is that a threat?” She asks, narrowing her eyes as Lillian smiles knowingly. It’s cold, and it reaches her eyes. The knowledge of that makes Lena feel off-kilter.
“I’ll see you soon.” Lillian gathers her purse, and her heels click on the dark hardwood floors she herself designed as she makes her way to the door.
“What does that mean?” But Lillian is gone. An engine turns over outside, headlights flash, and Lena is alone in her kitchen, still clutching an untouched mug of tea. Hands shaking, she puts it down and descends to the basement, where the other three are waiting and looking worried.
Kara puts an arm around her, and Lena leans into the comfort. “Are you okay?”
“Fine.” Lena replies with a tight smile. “Can we just hang out tonight? Maybe order pizza, and drink until my face goes numb?”
Two pizzas and three drinks later, Lena excuses herself. Kara watches her go, looking concerned. Upstairs, Lena rifles through a kitchen drawer until she finds what she’s looking for – a pack of Marlboro Lights, and her engraved lighter. She wishes she was above it, but right now she needs a different kind of comfort.
Out on the back porch, she takes a few breaths of ocean air before raising a cigarette to her lips and lighting it, cupping her hand against the wind. She breathes deep, and relief seeps into her bones with the nicotine. She’s only just taking her third pull from the filter when a voice appears behind her without warning, kicking her heart rate into overdrive.
“That’s not very good for your voice, you know.”
Lena jumps with a squeak, leaning on the railing as her knees weaken with the scare. Kara giggles, and Lena puts a hand over her racing heart.
“Jesus, Kara! You scared me.”
“I didn’t know you smoked.” Kara replies, coming up and leaning on the railing beside Lena.
Lena takes a pointed drag of the cigarette to punctuate the statement, and Kara laughs. Lena laughs lightly with her, feeling Kara’s easy presence settle her almost as much as the smoking.
“It’s a boarding school habit. I kicked it a long time ago, but when I’m stressed…”
Kara nods. “Yeah. After meeting your mom, I kind of don’t blame you.” There’s a quiet moment where they both look out at the water, listening to the gentle spring breeze and the waves.
“So…” Kara finally says, moving closer until their shoulders touch. “Sam told us your mom runs Luthor Corp?”
Lena sighs. “Technically my brother runs it. But given how much she meddles, it’s practically the same thing.”
“Is he as terrible as she is?”
Lena snorts. “Sometimes. We used to be close, but…he does whatever she tells him to. I told him it’ll get him in trouble one day.”
Lena is surprised at how easy it is to just talk with Kara. The only other person she’s felt this comfortable with is Sam, and until now, she had resigned herself to having to choose between emotional connection and sexual chemistry. Kara is both, and the intensity of her feelings is intimidating. Even now, as she contemplates her own stunted emotional development thanks to Lillian, she wants to share more with Kara.
“My mother designed this house, you know.” She says, flicking ash from her cigarette. She isn’r even smoking it anymore, just letting it burn down. Talking to Kara is better. “It was empty when I got it, so the furniture is all mine, but…the style is all hers.”
“That explains a lot.”
Lena laughs, tipping her head back. “Does it not suit me?”
Kara shrugs. “Well, the furniture suits you. And the décor. But the architecture is a little…severe. And you’re not.”
“Are you saying I’m soft?” Lena says, and Kara laughs. “I’m not sure whether I should be offended by that or not.”
“Don’t be. I like your softness.” The moment hangs between them, the double meaning understood by both sides. Finally, Lena hisses as the encroaching ash of her cigarette touches her fingers. She tosses it off the porch and into the sand to fizzle out.
“Lena!” Kara gasps, pointing at the butt. “A bird could eat that and get sick!”
Lena blinks. “…really, Kara? That’s your concern?”
Lena feels a strange mix of emotions – incredulity, fondness, mostly, tinged with a bit of sadness. Finally, she hoists herself over the balcony and drops down, grabbing the butt and trudging back up the stairs, trailing sand.
“Happy?” She asks, dropping the butt onto a small table next to the door.
“Very.” Kara replies, looping her arms around Lena’s waist and pulling her in for a kiss. “Mmm…you taste weird.”
Lena snorts. “So don’t kiss me.”
Kara pretends to think about it, and then shakes her head. “Nope, can’t do that. The price is too high.” She kisses her again, Lena laughing into it. She lays her head on Kara’s shoulder, just letting herself be held for a while.
“You’re sad.” Kara says, squeezing her gently.
Lena nods, kissing Kara’s neck gently. “A bit, yeah. A visit from my mother tends to do that.”
Kara holds her quietly for a few more moments, and then pulls away, grabbing Lena’s hand.
“Where are we going?” Lena asks, as Kara leads her down the stairs and onto the sand.
“You need to ritually cleanse yourself of your mother’s terrible visit.” Kara says matter-of-factly, still tugging her hand as she removes her own shoes with the other.
“Kara, I have no idea what that means.”
“It means we’re going swimming!”
“What?” Lena exclaims, but Kara is already dragging her down the beach, pulling her socks and her shirt off and throwing them carelessly into the sand. Lena stops dead, pulling their arms taut.
“I don’t have a bathing suit.” Despite living in a beach house for the last 4 years, Lena rarely goes in the ocean. She sometimes sits out there, dipping her toes into the water, but she’s never felt much of a desire to actually swim.
“Who says we need them? Private beaches were made for skinny dipping!” In a moment Kara’s pants are off, and she stands in front of Lena in a striped bra and red boxer briefs. Lena hesitates, but finally she nods, and Kara pumps a fist in the air.
What the hell.
Kara sheds her bra and shorts, and encourages Lena to do the same. Despite it being a private beach with no nearby houses, Lena feels intensely exposed, but Kara keeps close, kissing her exposed bits until she’s fully naked, the breeze giving her goosebumps.
Finally Kara splashes into the cool water, and Lena follows. With their hands joined, the moon high overhead casting a white glow on the water and making Kara’s bright hair shine, she feels strangely ethereal wading into the quiet waves.
When the water reaches their chests, Kara finally stops. She turns to Lena and, with a smile, lets go of her hand and dives forward into the water.
“Kara?” Lena calls nervously, and she jumps slightly when she feels Kara’s body brush hers under the surface. She re-emerges behind Lena, slicking her hair back and shaking the water from her face.
“You should put your head under, Lena! It’s so peaceful.”
Lena slips under the surface, and Kara is right. It’s tranquil, floating suspended in the water, completely bare. It’s liberating. The water muffles her ears, and she can hear it hitting the shore in the distance, the familiar sound that usually lulls her to sleep sounding different under here. Despite her reservations, she does feel sort of cleansed.
Kara takes her hands under the water, and Lena doesn’t open her eyes but she can feel her there, next to her. Not overbearing, just…present. They resurface together, finally running out of air, and the sounds of the outside world rush back. Kara stands in front of her, the water reaching just below her breasts, hair slicked back and water falling in droplets over her pebbled nipples.
She looks like a sea nymph, emerging perfectly-sculpted from the foam, and the sharp intensity of Lena’s need overwhelms her. Kara’s eyes are intense, flashing in the moonlight, and even in the dark Lena can see the desire in them. The want. Here, naked in the Pacific Ocean under a starry sky with Kara Danvers just looking at her like she hung them herself, Lena feels beautiful.
Before she can think about it, Kara has lunged forward through the water and gathered Lena against her, finding her lips for the deepest kiss Lena has ever experienced. Their bodies slide together, and Lena wraps her legs around narrow hips. Their kisses get hotter and heavier, Kara’s hands sliding from Lena’s thighs to her ass, until Lena pulls away, panting.
“No sex in the ocean.” She breathes into Kara’s mouth, slowing their kisses. “Bad idea.”
Kara squeezes, and Lena groans at the way it opens her up to the cool water. “Well I guess we should go inside, then, huh?”
They rifle for their sandy clothes in the dark, Kara ending up in her own pants and the hoodie Lena was wearing that morning and Lena stealing Kara’s boxer briefs so that she can avoid trying to force herself back into her wet jeans. Her panties are nowhere to be found, and Kara’s bra seems to be missing too.
When they’re dressed – or as close to dressed as they can be - Lena pulls her back towards the doors, and Lena can hear music downstairs where Sam and Alex are still hanging out.
“Go back down to the party.” She nudges Kara with an elbow, heading inside. “I’ll get some gum.”
Kara follows, shaking sand out of the pocket of the hoodie. She grins meaningfully, nodding towards the hallway. “Or, we could lock ourselves in your room and have our own party?”
“With your sister right downstairs?” Lena says, crossing her arms.
“She’ll understand.” Kara murmurs, pulling Lena close again. Lena’s arms slowly uncross, and before they’re even kissing again, she knows she’s agreed to the idea.
Kara pulls her towards the shower, and as Lena starts to strip herself of her sandy clothes, she texts Alex.
[Kara]: I’m so sorry for what’s about to happen.
Alex texts back a few times. As Lena turns on the shower and Kara unhooks her bra and bites at the revealed skin of her back, Kara’s phone lights up for the first time.
[Alex]: Sorry for what?
As she pins Lena to the wet tiled wall, moulding herself to Lena’s back and sliding her hands up to cup her breasts from behind – ‘
[Alex]: Kara, what are you sorry for?
And as she buries her fingers in Lena’s cunt and Lena cries out, a hand fisting in her hair and the other braced against the tiles, a final message –
[Alex]: OH MY GOD, I HATE YOU.
She hears the slam of the door and the rev of Alex’s bike just before Lena screams her first release around Kara’s fingers, chanting her name, and the phone stays quiet for the rest of the night.
IS THAT ENOUGH SMUT FOR YOU THIRSTY HOES?
It’s been 84 years……
Hope it’s worth it! Also, yes, I wrote more camping into this after writing a 14k camping fic, I REALLY LIKE CAMPING OKAY
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kara has really gotten used to waking up naked in Lena’s bedroom.
When the sun hits her face through the sheer curtains, she stirs into wakefulness gently in a huge, soft bed. There’s no honking of car horns, or distant sirens, or strange smells of 100 different families cooking food, as are her usual wakeup calls at her own apartment – only the crashing of waves, and birdsong, and the smell of Lena’s perfume on the pillow. She rolls towards it groggily, feeling the ache in her muscles from the night before and letting out a long, satisfied groan as they stretch out.
“You know, if we dip out on practice early any more times this week, your sister might actually murder me.” Lena is only half-joking as Kara pulls her out of the cab, counting a few bills and handing them to the driver. “She knows exactly why we were leaving.”
Kara giggles as the cab backs out of Lena’s driveway, pulling her close and peppering her neck with kisses. “She does, but she also knows that after we caught her and Sam in your bathroom, she has no leg to stand on.”
Lena snorts at the memory, pushing on Kara’s chest. “True. Now, are you going to live up to your promise? When we got in the cab, I seem to remember you saying you were going to fuck me until I can’t breathe.”
Exactly 6 minutes later, Lena falls back onto the sheets, gasping as Kara’s fingers finally let up. She wiggles her toes as the aftershocks of her second orgasm rock her, and voices a question that Kara can tell she's had since the first night they hooked up.
“How do you do that so fast?”
Kara is just reaching a hand out to wake Lena up when she realizes she’s alone. Her fingers touch cold sheets, and she shakes herself awake in surprise. Lena almost always wakes up after her, and usually she refuses to get out of bed until Kara brings her coffee. For her to have risen first is rare. Sitting up and stretching fully, feeling the satisfying pop of joints, she hears the opening and closing of a cabinet in the kitchen and smiles.
Back before anything happened between them, when she and Lena had been circling each other like birds too afraid to make a move, Kara had wondered what Lena’s bedroom looked like. Now, she’s intimately familiar with it, and the more she digs into the deeper, more hidden parts of Lena, the more perfectly it seems to suit her.
The walls are a soft gray, her bed made up of soft sheets and a fluffy white duvet. The furniture is minimal – a simple dresser, a cozy armchair with several outfits draped over it, a stylish mirror and a few end tables – but it’s all soft and comfortable, meant to be a safe, inviting space in a home that Lena didn’t design. Kara loves it all. When she finally manages to drag herself out of the comfort of the bed, she slips into shorts and a tank top and throws her hair into a messy ponytail before slipping down the hallway.
Lena doesn’t notice her right away when she pads into the room in her socked feet. She takes that time to just take in the sight, and let it fill her up with happiness like a waterglass.
Lena is at the counter wearing nothing but underwear and Kara’s shirt, the black one with the faded Batman logo on it. She’s pouring two bowls of cereal, frosted flakes for Kara and Cheerios for herself - she sets the boxes down, turning to a wooden cutting board and slicing up some fruit to go on top, looking proud of herself and humming. Kara watches raptly as she licks the strawberry juice from her fingers, and suddenly, the soreness from last night is gone – want flares up inside Kara like a firework, and she moves forward with intent.
Lena’s gasp as she’s pinned to the counter only makes her more eager.
“Kara, what –“ Her question trails off into a long groan as Kara’s teeth scrape her neck and dextrous fingers slide softly over her inner thighs, inching inwards.
“Good?” Kara murmurs, and Lena grips the counter with white knuckles and spreads her legs slightly, already panting.
“Oh god, definitely –“
With surprising dexterity for so early in the morning, she spins Lena around and pins her more securely to the counter, immediately capturing her lips in a heated, almost frantic, kiss. Lena’s tongue is hot in her mouth and she’s arching into Kara’s hands - it’s zero to a hundred in 30 seconds, and Kara soaks in Lena’s immediate desperation for her. It makes her feel wanted, powerful. Hungry.
She drops to her knees as soon as the thought enters her head. Lena’s reaction is immediate – she throws her head back, threading her fingers through Kara’s messy hair.
“Fuck! Yes -” She gasps, and Kara grins as she nips at Lena’s belly, pulling at the waistband of her underwear with her teeth. She slides it down slowly – too slowly for Lena’s liking, clearly, because she has a knee over Kara’s shoulder before Kara has even untangled the garment from her feet. She manages to free it and throw it haphazardly behind her, much more concerned with how Lena is insistently pulling her head forwards.
“Someone’s impatie –“ She’s cut off before she can finish the quip, but she takes to her new task happily.
Lena bucks hard against her face, her clit slipping over Kara's tongue and making it almost impossible to follow. Finally she slings both of Lena's legs over her shoulders and wraps an arm around her thigh to steady her, determined to approach this with some finesse, and Lena's unabashed vocalizations make it clear that she approves of the change. The cold floor and the extra weight hurts her knees, but the pain is secondary - the only important thing in her life right now is Lena, heels digging into her back and seconds away from coming in her mouth.
Two orgasms later, Lena’s trembling legs slide from Kara’s shoulders and her feet finally touch the ground again. Her chest is heaving, and she seems to appreciate the assistance in keeping herself upright when Kara pops up cheerfully and presses her into the counter again, dragging wet kisses over her neck.
“Good morning!” She chirps, pulling back slightly to take in Lena’s now-dishevelled appearance with pride. Lena lets out a weak chuckle, letting her head fall forwards onto Kara’s shoulder.
“Jesus Christ, Kara.”
After their brief distraction, Kara happily digs in to the bowl of sugary cereal Lena poured earlier. And then she pours two more. She’s even gotten used to Lena’s almond milk, which is something she always vowed never to let past her lips.
Lena, for her part, takes a bit longer to recover. As Kara pours her second bowl, Lena searches for her lost underwear to no avail, finally deeming it a lost cause and just slipping into a pair of sweats instead. They make her looks soft and ruffled, and by the time they’re putting the dishes into the sink, Kara can feel tendrils of warm desire creeping into her belly again.
It’s strange and wonderful, this almost-insatiable craving she has for Lena. She’s dated plenty, and felt intense things with lots of women, but it’s never been like this – this need, this constant desire to pin Lena to any available surface and make her scream.
A need that’s flaring up again as Lena leans over the sink, turning on the tap to rinse their bowls. Thankfully, Lena seems to feel the same – her groan as Kara moulds herself to her back again is molten, and she immediately tilts her head back to give Kara access to her throat. Kara grins, spreading her fingers over Lena’s soft belly under the loose shirt and grinding her hips forwards –
The doorbell chimes behind them, and Kara has to resist the urge to throw her cereal box in the direction of the front door.
“God damn it,” Lena groans, slumping forwards onto the counter. “Fuck, I forgot they were coming over.”
Before Kara can suggest sending them away and locking themselves in the bedroom for the rest of the day instead, Sam has already burst through the door with Alex in tow, charging up the stairs with her phone in her hand.
“Okay, lesbians, I gave you the doorbell as a courtesy - now get your hands off each other because it’s time to jam!”
It’s been a pleasant surprise, how well things have gone with all of them for the last two months. For one, she and Lena spend almost every waking moment together – Kara stays over most nights at Lena’s place writing songs, introducing Lena to the glory that is Netflix baking shows, and jamming with Alex and Sam, who are just as sickeningly happy as she and Lena are. They’re all pet names and dopey smiles and intentional touching, and Kara has never seen Alex as happy as she is when Sam is around. And, she thinks as she catches Lena looking at her across the kitchen with a soft, open expression, she isn’t the only one.
Kara sits down on a stool – it’s not because her knees felt weak when Lena looked at her like that, she’s fine – and Alex interrupts their moment, opening the fridge and grabbing a carton of juice.
“Please, for the love of god, don’t tell me what you were just doing. Or, about to do. Either one.” She shakes the carton at Kara, eyebrow raised. “Can you get me a glass?”
“Get it yourself, lazy!” Kara retorts, poking her with a socked foot, and Alex sighs, reaching up to the cupboard. To Kara’s confusion she freezes mid-movement, a look of dawning horror on her face.
“What?” Kara asks, but before she can investigate further, she’s being hit in the face with a half-full carton of organic orange juice while Alex yells at her.
“Oh my god, are you kidding – in the kitchen?” She throws her hands up in disgust, heading towards the stairs. “I’m going to get a drink in the basement!”
She catches the carton before it hits the floor, still thrown off by the cardboard hitting her square in the forehead. “Wha – what? Alex, why -”
Sam snorts, pointing at the cupboard Alex had been reaching for. “Come on, guys. You may have almost walked in on us, but I always clean up before you come to my place.” Following the line of Sam’s finger, Kara finally realizes what the problem is. There, hanging from the handle of the kitchen cupboard for everyone to see, is Lena’s underwear. She must have flung it further than she thought this morning – but, in her defence, she had much better things to be paying attention to at the time.
“Oh, shit. I’m so sorry –“ Kara hisses, grabbing it and stuffing it into the pocket of her sweats. “I didn’t see it!”
“Clearly.” Sam drawls, at least looking amused. She can still hear Alex in the downstairs, slamming cupboard doors and talking to herself about ‘boundaries’ and ‘siblings’ and ‘fucking gross’. Lena looks towards the basement stairs, smiling almost apologetically.
“…so…who’s going to tell her that we have sex down there, too?”
“Why do we take gigs so far away?” Lena grumbles, struggling to lift the largest section of Alex’s drum kit into the back of the van. “We have to drive halfway across the country. Who agreed to this?”
“You did.” Sam deadpans, and Kara hurries to help Lena settle the kit. She sets their shared overnight duffle bag beside it, and Alex throws hers on top.
“I didn’t agree to stay at a campground instead of a hotel.”
“Oh, come on!” Alex says almost cheerfully, poking a disgruntled Lena in the side with her drumstick. Lena flinches, glaring daggers at the back of her head. “Portland isn’t that far. And, who needs a crappy hotel when you can have a campfire?”
“I do! I need a bed, and a shower, and a heating system –“
But Sam is already starting the van, and Alex climbs into the passenger seat, banging on the roof through the open window.
“Come on, Luthor, let’s get this show on the road! We’re losing daylight!”
Kara feels like Alex is getting a little too giddy about torturing Lena after the ‘underwear in the kitchen’ incident, but she keeps her mouth shut, choosing instead to put a comforting arm around Lena’s shoulders and stare neutrally out the window.
The plan is to do the show tonight and stay over at a nearby national park before driving home in the morning, and to be honest, she’s looking forward to it. They have everything they need for a campfire cookout, and the drive through various cities – stopping at rest stops for junk food and lunch along the way – reminds her of going camping with the Danvers when she was younger. Except that this time Lena is with her, which makes it better, even if she spends most of the drive looking at the pile of sleeping bags with thinly-veiled apprehension.
Her distaste for their sleeping accommodations doesn’t bleed into the show, at least. It sells out pretty soon after they arrive, and the crowd is as wild as ever – it may even be bigger than usual. They saw a pretty significant line of people waiting to get into the club on their way in, and it’s clear from the way that everyone crowds to the front of the stage that most of them were hoping to be in the front row. Kara rewards their perseverance with seemingly endless energy, and near the end of their set she gets the most brilliant idea she’s ever had.
She’s already set her guitar down and is halfway to the front of the stage when she’s stopped dead in her tracks by a hand fisted in the back of her tank top – Lena, a look of exasperation on her face, pulls her back with more force than Kara had thought she was capable of. She abandons the mic to grab Kara’s guitar and shove it back into her arms, yelling over Sam and Alex’s continued playing.
“If you jump off this stage and smash your face up, I swear to god, you’re not getting laid for a month!”
Which would have been fine, had she not still been standing next to her microphone. It’s faint, and had the song not been almost at its end it might have been inaudible, but it’s just loud enough that Kara knows at least a few people heard it.
There’s a split second of hush that falls over the crowd, then, just as the song is fading out. Kara is hyperaware of how many phones are held up, recording the whole thing, and how that must be making Lena feel.
Which is why she’s infinitely grateful when, with almost no hesitation, Sam puts down her bass, leaps over the side of Alex’s drum kit, and plants a messy kiss directly on her shocked lips.
The reaction is immediate. The attention is drawn away from Lena’s horrified face and shines right on Alex and Sam, who are now in a passionate lip lock. Alex’s drumsticks clatter to the floor, and what feels like a thousand phones and cameras focus on what’s happening behind the drum set. With all eyes somewhere else, Lena pulls herself together in record time, even managing to joke into her mic.
“So…I guess ‘Danvarias’ lives, huh?”
The deafening roar that follows is enough to buoy all of them through the rest of the show. Sam pulls away and picks her instrument up again, playing up the crowd’s excitement, and Alex sits blinking into the stage lights, looking starstruck.
By the time they stumble into the back room after their second encore, Sam’s phone is lit up by hundreds of notifications. Luckily for them – for Lena, specifically, who looks over Sam’s shoulder with clear terror – they seem to all be focused on Sam and Alex’s little show.
“You guys are lucky Alex and I had already talked about going public,” Sam says, scrolling through their mentions and double-tapping as many ecstatic comments as she can. “You’re welcome.”
Lena, in an uncharacteristic show of genuine public affection, kisses Sam on the cheek and hugs her tightly.
“Thank you, Sam. Really.”
The moment is interrupted by a snort. “Oh, thank you, Alex! I really appreciate your part in this distraction method, too.” Alex quips sarcastically from her battered armchair in the corner of the room, and Lena rolls her eyes, flipping her middle finger. Alex doesn’t see it, still absorbed in her own phone, but she returns the gesture instinctually. Kara nudges Alex with her shoulder, grinning, and Alex sticks her tongue out in response.
The whole thing makes Lena much more receptive to the whole ‘camping’ ordeal. She doesn’t show it easily, but Kara has learned to read her pretty well, and it’s clear that she’s intensely grateful to both Sam and Alex – even if she and Alex keep up a façade of mutual antagonism, there’s real affection that runs underneath it.
It’s almost 11 by the time they actually make it to the campsite, waved in by a bleary-eyed student ranger. Setting up a tent in the dark proves to be much harder than she thought it would be, but they manage it – it isn’t until Alex finally steps in and untangles the mess she and Sam made that it even begins to resemble something they can sleep in, but the important thing is that it finally sits mostly-erected and they can go about starting a fire.
As Kara stacks their little pile of wood, Sam suddenly drops everything she’s holding and points at the lake, the moon shining off the water visible through the trees.
“Let’s go swimming!”
She’s off at a steady trot before Kara has fully processed what she said. Alex takes off after her almost immediately, her vehement protests loud enough that they’re still audible as they disappear down a well-beaten path through the trees.
Turning towards Lena, Kara grins, wider and wider until Lena’s eyes widen with realization.
“Kara, no –“
But Kara is already leading her down the path towards the lake by the wrist, trying to unbutton her shirt with her free hand without tripping over any tree roots.
When they emerge from the forest, Kara can see the shadowy outlines of Sam and Alex standing out on what looks like a boat launch, reaching far out into the water. The lapping of water against wood and the gentle breeze moving the trees would probably be soothing, if it weren’t for the two voices breaking the quiet.
“Come on, it’ll be refreshing! We’re all so sweaty, and I don’t want to sleep like this.” The closer she and Lena get, the more Kara can see – Sam has already stripped down to her bra and underwear, her clothes in a haphazard line starting in the sand and ending beside Alex, who has her arms crossed.
“You have no idea how deep the water is, Sam!” Alex insists, stubbornly leaving her clothes on. “You could get hurt, jumping in in the dark.”
Kara finally joins the two of them, her shirt finally off, and starts to unbutton her jeans. Lena, for once, seems to agree with Alex. She too stays clothed, despite Kara’s cajoling.
“I’m not jumping into a strange lake at 2 in the morning.” She insists, and her tone leaves little room for argument.
It doesn’t stop Kara from trying, though.
“Come on!” Kara wheedles, already half naked. “It’s deep enough for boats! And besides, what’s better than trying the unknown?”
“Not getting your head smashed in on the bottom of a lake.” Alex deadpans, and Lena snorts. Sam, Kara notices, is slowly inching backwards towards the edge of the dock, and she grins when their eyes meet, winking. A few seconds later she’s running, and Kara lets out a loud laugh when the resulting splash makes Alex’s mouth fall open.
Lena seems to sense Kara’s next move, lunging forward to grab at her arm, but Kara is just a split second too quick for her – she dances just out of reach, sprints towards the ripples Sam made in the water, and executes a perfect cannonball.
The water is shockingly cold at first, but after a few seconds it feels wonderful. It’s exactly what she needed after several hours spent in a sweaty club and then in a sweaty van, and she spends a few extra moments under the water, just enjoying the sensation.
When she finally surfaces, it’s to two women yelling at her.
“Kara, I expressly told you not to –“
“I swear, you two together are ridiculous, you’re going to drown –“
They both cut off with indignant noises when she splashes them, kicking her feet hard against the surface, and Sam laughs joyously.
“You guys have to come in! It’s beautiful!”
Alex seems to think hard for a few seconds, and then finally, she lifts her shirt over her head. Sam whoops loudly, wolf-whistling when Alex starts to unbutton her pants. Lena, on the other hand, looks betrayed. Soon enough Alex is easing herself slowly into the water, slipping gracefully off the dock, and Lena is left alone on dry land.
“Please, Lena?” Kara asks, never too prideful to beg. “Coming in wouldn’t be giving in, it would just be…making me happy.”
That’s what does it, in the end. Kara can see Lena’s resolve waver and, under some pointed puppy-dog eyes, finally break. She sighs deeply, taking off her shirt and folding it carefully, and Kara throws her hands in the air in victory. It messes with her buoyancy, making her slip under the water and get some in her nose – everyone laughs at her sputtering when she resurfaces, but she doesn’t care. She’s swimming in cool, refreshing water with her favourite people, and life is good.
Life is slightly less good when they’re all shivering around a newly-made fire, but with Lena tucked into her side, she warms up in no time. Alex brings out Kara’s acoustic from the van and strums the instrumental bridges to a dozen songs, and eventually it turns into a game where they all listen to the first few bars and then shout over each other to guess the song she’s playing.
Eventually the fire crackles happily, they’re all full of camping-appropriate snack foods, and Lena’s eyes are starting to drift shut.
“Lena’s the first to go,” Sam whispers, and Lena’s eyes snap open again, sleepy and unfocused.
“M’not.” She insists, and Kara’s heart squeezes tight in her ribcage at how adorable her groggy protests are. As much as Sam teases Lena for her tiredness, it’s clear that they’re all wiped from the night’s excitement. They all crawl into the tent, Lena grumbling about the hardness of the ground and lack of mattress, and settle in for a few hours of sleep before they head home in the morning.
Even with all of her protests, Lena passes out on Kara’s chest almost immediately. Sam and Alex curl up together on the other side of the small tent, and Kara lets herself relax, just taking in Lena’s sleeping face. It seems like the only time Lena’s face isn’t drawn in some kind of intense emotion is when she’s sleeping – her face is smooth and clear, and as Kara drinks in the soft lines that crinkle beside her eyes, thinking about how lucky she is, Lena’s mouth drifts open and a small puddle of drool appears on Kara’s sweater. Kara grins, tightening her hold on Lena’s shoulders.
She’s just starting to drift into a doze when she’s woken up by rustling from Alex and Sam’s direction, followed by soft giggles and the loud sound of the tent zipper being undone.
Cracking open one eye, she sees their dark shapes slipping through the hole and then the zipper does up again – they’re clearly trying to be sneaky, but the sound is so loud that even Lena starts to stir. The van door opens and closes, and Kara sighs in defeat.
God, I wish I was still asleep.
Lena pokes her head up, looking around the now half-empty tent in confusion.
“Where’d they go?” Her question is punctuated by a thump and a muted giggle from the van, and Lena’s face morphs into a mixture of realization and disgust. She buries it somewhere around Kara’s armpit, groaning.
“Yeah, I think we’re gonna be hearing more of that pretty soon.” Kara winces as the voices inside the van make a clear turn into the realm of breathy moaning, and Lena burrows deeper. Kara wishes she could just sink into the dirt and stay there forever.
“I’m never going to get back to sleep now!” Lena complains, and Kara kisses the top of her head.
“How about we distract each other?” She suggests, and Lena’s face emerges from its hiding spot with a look of horror.
“You want to – while they’re – that is so gross –“
Realizing what Lena means, Kara’s entire body rebels at the thought. “Oh god, no! I just meant – like, we can talk! To distract each other, you know? Jeez, Lena –“
Lena’s relieved laughter does at least drown out the unmistakeable sound of the van’s wheels squeaking rhythmically.
“So, what do you want to talk about?” Lena asks, her laughter finally dying down. She puts her head back on Kara’s shoulder, tracing a gentle line over her collarbone that leaves goosebumps in its wake.
“Um. I don’t know.” Kara catches Lena’s drifting hand in her own, intertwining their fingers. “Why didn’t you let me stagedive?”
Lena snorts, tracing her thumb over the back of Kara’s hand. The tiny, soft movement of her finger gives Kara a warm glow, and suddenly Lena’s answer matters much less, as long as she keeps doing it.
“The first three rows were nothing but people holding up their phones! They wouldn’t have caught you. I thought you’d appreciate not having a broken face.”
Thinking back, Kara acknowledges that Lena is definitely right. As caught up as she’d been in the show, she hadn’t really considered whether or not the audience would actually catch her. She grins, tugging gently on Lena’s t-shirt.
“You were worried about me!”
There’s a few moments of blessed silence, then. Maybe it’s the quiet that makes Lena speak up, her voice soft.
Kara frowns, looking down. All she can see is the top of Lena’s head and her pale hand, still clasped in her own and now squeezing tight.
“Sorry for what?”
“For freaking out.”
“It’s fine,” Kara assures her immediately, but Lena shakes her head.
“I just…I’m just not ready. For everyone to know. All the attention Sam and Alex are getting right now, I can’t handle that –“
Kara interrupts hurriedly, before Lena can gather a head of steam. “Lena, honestly. It’s okay. You don’t have to be ready right now.”
Lena frowns, finally tipping her head up to make eye contact. “So it doesn’t bother you?”
Kara can’t deny that it stings a little, not being able to do normal romantic things. She can’t hold Lena’s hand in public, or take her on a proper date. But she gets this. She gets Lena Luthor at her softest, when she’s sleepy and makeup-free, her hair still tangled from their impromptu dip. She gets Lena in her soft bed in the early dawn, with little crusts in the corners of her eyes and morning breath, and she gets Lena when she’s post-coital and languid, sweaty and affectionate and open. She gets to learn all the things that make her tick and all of her tiny idiosyncrasies, like how she dog-ears her books instead of using bookmarks and the fact that she cries almost every time she sees a video of a cute animal.
“You’re worth it.”
It seems to be enough to soothe Lena’s anxieties. She relaxes, letting Kara tip her chin up for a few gentle kisses. They hover on the precipice of something deeper, Kara nipping at Lena’s lower lip, but before Lena can lean in again they’re interrupted by a loud, pornographic moan from the van.
Kara immediately recoils, groaning in defeat.
“Okay, you know what, I can’t do this, hold on –“
Wiggling out of her sleeping bag, she leaves Lena and unzips the tent, spilling out onto the ground and feeling around blindly. Her fingers brush a few small sticks and a pebble, and she grabs all of them and hurls them at the van in a single fistful. They hit metal and glass with a series of loud noises, and the sounds from inside quiet immediately.
“Please, for the love of god, stop?” Kara shouts with a definite note of desperation in her voice, and she’s relieved to hear two things at once – Sam’s recognizable laugh, and Alex’s anguished yell. Neither of them emerges from the now foggy-windowed van, and Kara crawls back into the tent in victory. Likely under Alex’s wishes, she and Sam seem to decide that it’s less embarrassing to just sleep in the van.
Sam’s nose is pressed to the window of the cab as it pulls into the CatCo Records parking lot, where two RVs – one huge, and the other more modest – are idling. People in black are loadinh instruments and large black cases into the baggage compartments, and Kara can see Sara and Ava standing outside the larger one in conversation with a tall, sly looking man in a black turtleneck.
“Okay, I know they promised us a vehicle, but that can’t be ours,” Alex points to the smaller RV, shaking her head. “There’s no way.”
But sure enough, as they get out of the car and walk towards the commotion, the logo on the side of the bus is clear – red and blue, identical to Alex’s drum kit. It’s their logo. It’s their bus, and they’re going to spend the next 2 months driving it around the country.
Soon enough Ava spots them and waves them over, and Lena goes over to greet her while Kara heaves their suitcases out of the trunk. She sighs, calling after Lena’s retreating form.
“I guess I’ll just carry all of these?”
Lena waves her assent over her shoulder, and Kara chuckles good-naturedly as Alex mimics the cracking of a whip. Kara points at her with vigor, which is difficult considering she’s still carrying two suitcases.
“Hey, you’re carrying Sam’s purse right now! You can’t say shit.”
Alex flushes pink, shifting Sam’s purse onto her other shoulder, and promptly shuts up.
By the time they all catch up with Lena, Ava and Sara are already making their introductions.
“Guys, this is our tour manager, Leonard. He’s the brain behind this whole operation.” Sara explains, and Leonard offers a vague wave in response to Kara’s enthusiastic one. His eyes narrow slightly as he takes them in, Kara carrying two bags while Lena has none and Alex with what is very clearly not her purse, fresh hickeys all over her neck, and laughs.
“I should have known you two would go out of your way to hire a brigade of fellow thirsty lesbians.”
Alex gapes at him, her eyes wide, and Sam snorts, covering her mouth with her hand to hide her grin. Lena goes paper-white. Thankfully, a distraction comes with Sara, who smacks him hard on the shoulder.
“I’m bi, and you know it, Snart.” She says, grinning, and he waves her off.
“Yeah, yeah.” He drawls, and Ava rolls her eyes.
“Come on, guys. Ignore Leo - I’ll show you your bus.”
The bus is fucking incredible. It’s painted glossy black with their logo embossed on the side, which is cool enough in itself, but the inside is brand-new and shiny – there’s a mini fridge and some small appliances, a little bathroom, a couch and TV, and a surprising amount of floor space. There are also two beds, one that folds down from the table in the back and one that sits in a compartment overtop of the cab, and Kara throws her bag up onto the more private one immediately.
“Dibs on the good bed!” She calls, and Alex sighs her acknowledgement, starting to unpack her stuff into the drawers underneath the table. After fulfilling her goal of getting the best sleeping spot, she follows Lena back outside to where Ava and Sara are still talking.
“So, what do you think?”
“What do we think? It’s amazing! We’re used to driving around in a van, so this is like a mansion on wheels.”
Sara laughs, folding her arms and leaning against the bus in a very appealing way. “Good. The roadies will load all your equipment, so once you’re done with your clothes, come inside and we can talk logistics before we leave.”
“Logistics?” Kara asks, frowning. “Didn’t we already get, like…a whole manual?”
“Well, yes, but judging by your show the other night, you guys are prone to improv. Not that I didn’t appreciate seeing Danvers practically get mounted behind the drum set. Bet your fans loved that.” Sara winks at Sam, who at least has the decency to blush.
Ava chuckles, shoving Sara playfully. “Sara is just teasing. We were just hoping to do some collabs once we get into full swing. Maybe you’ll even get to meet Cat before we go, if she decides to grace us with her presence.”
At the mention of CatCo’s enigmatic CEO, Kara perks up with interest. “We could meet Cat Grant?” Lena turns to look at her, an eyebrow quirked.
“Try not to get too excited, Kara.” There’s a tiny thread of jealousy in Lena’s tone, and Kara soothes her with a tight arm around her shoulders. She has no interest in anyone but Lena, obviously, but Cat Grant is Cat Grant – business magnate, music tycoon, and possibly the most powerful woman in National City. She’s impossible not to look up to.
Sara nods knowingly, looking thoughtful. “I don’t blame Kara, honestly. Cat Grant is terrifying, but she’s kinda hot.”
“That’s not – I don’t – she’s just a great role model!” Kara insists, red-faced, and Sara’s resulting laughter lasts until long after they’ve gone inside the studio.
They end up planning an ending number together, a group cover of Cherry Bomb, with plans to add some opportunities for the Worldkillers to jump onstage and feature in a few Legends songs once they get a feel for the tour. Cat Grant doesn’t appear, which Lena seems to be a bit relieved about, but Kara is still excited to start the tour already, so when they decide to finally roll out she can’t say she’s disappointed.
Kara ends up with the first driving shift. Lena settles into the passenger seat beside her without her even needing to ask, and like a convoy the tour rolls out towards its first destination. The first hour or so passes comfortably, with Sam and Alex exploring the various workings of the RV and occasionally yelling excitedly about it and Lena sitting quietly beside her, but after another 20 minutes Kara notices Lena’s hands. They’re moving rhythmically, fingers sliding over palm hard enough to leave the skin white for a few moments – it’s the same little ritual that she does before shows when she’s truly nervous. Kara kicks herself for not noticing earlier.
“Hmm?” Lena replies, without taking her eyes away from the window where they’ve been glued for most of the trip. Her hands don’t stop, and Kara reaches out her free hand to lay overtop Lena’s restless ones gently until the movement stops.
“It’s going to be okay. It’s gonna be great, actually.”
Lena finally looks at her, grasping onto Kara’s offered hand like a lifeline. “I know.”
“Of course I do.” Lena says, finally smiling slightly. “We’ve never had a bad show, with you. This is just…It’s big. We’re performing for 10,000 people tonight, and that’s one of the smallest venues.”
“And all 10,000 are going to fall in love with you.” Kara assures her. It makes Lena laugh, at least, and the rest of the drive seems to pass more easily. Their fingers, at least, stay intertwined for the rest of the day.
It turns out that the nervousness was completely warranted. Kara thinks she’s fine, when they arrive. She even convinces herself that she isn’t nervous while they’re setting up and doing sound checks, distracted from the sheer number of seats by trying to get their tech right. But while Lena had spent the day properly building herself up, Kara had just sort of…assumed she’d be okay. They’ve performed for almost 1000 people – 10,000 couldn’t be that different, right?
10,000 people might seem okay on paper, but the reality is an overwhelming, screaming mass. Kara’s hearing goes fuzzy in a way that she hasn’t felt since her 7th grade vocal competition just after her parents died, and muscle memory is the only thing that gets her onto the stage and holding her guitar. There’s a few seconds where she truly, honestly thinks that she’s going to choke – her fingers feel numb, and she can’t seem to remember the words to their first song – but then Lena is there. Lena’s hand is warm on her arm, and her eyes are bright and ready, and in an instant it’s like she’s surfaced from a deep dive – the noise and the lights and the smell of Lena’s perfume hit her all at once, and finally she leans into the mic with a relieved grin.
“San Diego! Are you ready to rock?”
From the first strum of her guitar, she’s pretty sure her feet leave the ground. The crowd is excited to begin with, anxious to see Sara and Ava perform, but by the end of the set she knows they have them. Their songs are connecting, she and Sam are on a roll, and she can honestly witness people losing their absolute shit in real time over how beautiful Lena is, singing her heart out in centre stage. They finish with Legends, singing a variation of Cherry Bomb rife with sexual tension, and Kara comes out of their first show with an adrenaline rush so big she feels like she could launch herself into the stratosphere.
She lets Sam and Alex go ahead to the green room, stopping to lean against a wall and regulate her breathing. She feels high on the energy of the show, full of the positive energy of the audience, her skin is singing with unused energy –
Lena stumbles around the corner, looking equally elated. Her pupils are blown, her lips still crimson with the lipstick that Kara loves so much even as her teeth sink into the skin. All things told, she looks fucking delicious, and there’s nothing Kara wants more in that moment than to drag her to the nearest private place and fuck her until they both collapse.
It seems like Lena has a similar idea, because she grabs Kara’s wrist in an iron grip and drags her down the hall, shoving her headfirst into the first janitor’s closet she finds. Kara pins her to the inside of the door, mops and bottles of cleaning solution clattering to the floor, and it takes less than a minute for Lena to come in her hand, her hips taking on a life of their own. Her teeth sink into Kara’s shoulder so deep that she’s pretty sure she’s going to have a permanent indent there, but that’s the least of her worries – she’s much more invested in dropping to her knees and making Lena scream so loudly that she rivals the audience they just played for.
By the time they leave their little private haven, Kara still wiping lipstick from her face, they’re emerging to their equipment being hauled down the hallway towards the buses. Lena giggles, actually giggles, seeming a little drunk on the combination of 3 orgasms and playing the most incredible show of their lives. They each grab a load from the stack of boxes and cases near the stage, and try to blend inconspicuously.
They’re just dropping off their bundles of wires and cases when a door further down the hallway opens, revealing a small private bathroom and two laughing, very ruffled blonde women. Sara and Ava straighten up, looking around, and upon seeing Kara and Lena in a similar state, Sara laughs even harder. Ava hurriedly tucks her shirt back into her slacks, and Sara starts to push her down the hall towards the doors, flashing them a wink.
When Ava finally turns the corner, Sara’s head peeks back around without her. After looking left and right, she runs back down the hall, high-fives them both voraciously, and then disappears again. It happens so fast that it takes Kara a few seconds to realize what’s happened, and Lena turns towards her, her hand still up in the high-five position.
“Well. This tour should be interesting, shouldn’t it?”
The rest of the tour is a whirlwind that Lena wishes she could stay in forever. She spends the days driving and occasionally stopping to see the sights along the way, either curled up in the passenger seat or on the couch with her head in Kara’s lap. Their nights are spent playing show after incredible show for sold-out, screaming audiences and spending time with Sara and Ava, who are without a doubt the coolest people that Lena has ever met.
She knew they were generous by the fact that they went out of their way to get the Worldkillers on this tour, but they’re both even nicer than she thought they’d be, as well as being whip-smart and hilarious. They share their own stage time and make sure to include everyone in all their social media posts, and the six of them mesh extraordinarily well, even with Alex occasionally being awkward about her shared history with Sara. In fact, Sam and Sara get along famously, a fact that Alex seems to find difficult to process.
Being with Sara and Ava, as well as their team of roadies and techs, also provides Lena with another group of people she can be comfortable being herself around. She can hold Kara’s hand or accept her physical affection without fear, and it’s incredibly freeing – it gives her a taste of what life could be like if their situation was a little bit different. It’s clear that Sara and Ava share the same sort of complicated relationship, and it’s comforting to know that there’s some small hope of it working out. Ava is particularly easy to talk to, and she often pins Lena with sympathetic looks that let Lena know she’s not alone.
All of this, plus the incredible shows they’ve been playing thanks to Kara’s endless charisma, means that Lena has spent the last few weeks being genuinely and consistently happy for what feels like the first time in her life. She’s spent most of her 26 years worried about something – school, family obligations, the band’s survival, making a name for herself outside the Luthor Corp legacy. But right now, life is good, and Lena lets herself stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. For now, at least. When the tour is over, she can slip back inside the solid emotional walls she’s always lived in.
Although, as the weeks go on and the end of the tour gets closer, she finds it harder and harder to get those walls back up.
It was easier to keep some emotional distance when they weren’t together every hour of every day. Now, rather than getting sick of seeing Kara all the time, Lena seems to get more and more attached to her with every passing moment. She learns so many new things about her – for example, she can fall asleep literally anywhere, and it isn’t uncommon to see her propped up against whatever partially-horizontal furniture in the vicinity and gently snoring. Lena even caught her sleeping on top of a fully-functional speaker in the middle of Sara and Ava’s set, seemingly unbothered by the music blaring from underneath her head. Thankfully the borderline-narcolepsy is accompanied by the ability to be completely alert almost immediately after being shaken awake, but Lena has taken to letting her sleep whenever possible. She looks cute when she passes out, and just being near her makes Lena feel warm and safe.
Overall, it’s alarmingly close to what Lena would classify as real feelings, and she’s too far gone to know how to stop it.
It doesn’t help that for some reason, semi-public sex with Kara in whatever tiny, cramped spaces they can find is mind-meltingly good. There’s something about the post-show adrenaline combined with days upon days of driving together in a confined space that makes her crazy, and the exhilarated, slightly wild look that Kara gets on her face just before she drags her into a bathroom or a green room or their RV makes need pulse through her, loud and hot.
Alex and Sam don’t seem to appreciate how often Kara gets her to the RV first and locks the door, but she’s seen them stumble out of their fair share of locked rooms covered in obvious hickeys, and she considers it payback for the emotionally scarring camping incident. Sara and Ava are lucky to enough to have their own bus just for the two of them, something which Lena knows for a fact that they take full advantage of.
“Come on, we saw them 5 minutes ago. They can’t be doing it already.” Sam insists, leading the group towards the aforementioned trailer. They’re parked at a rest stop to get some lunch and stretch their legs, and Sara and Ava emerged only long enough to grab some takeout and head back to their RV – a pretty clear indication that they want to be left alone. But Sam is insistent.
“I have to ask Ava about who’s doing the main bass part for our group number tonight. Last time we both tried it, and the first 30 seconds sounded like we were riding to hell in a bass-boosted speaker.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Sam. I really, really think they’re busy right now.” Lena edges, but to no avail.
“At worst, we catch them making out. Come on!” Sam replies, knocking decisively on the trailer door. There’s some muffled noises from inside, and Lena rolls her eyes at the obvious sound of rustling sheets.
When the door finally swings open, even Sam’s jaw drops.
Sara stands before them in all her glory, wearing nothing but black underwear and a smile. Ava’s form can be clearly made out on the bed behind her, wrapped in sheets. Her blonde hair is clearly mussed and there’s a bite mark on her left breast, and that’s all Lena sees before she spins on the spot to stare resolutely in the opposite direction.
“I told you, I told you they’d be – nobody listens -“ She mutters, while Kara just giggles, nudging Sam with her shoulder.
“Can we help you?” Sara says, a smug grin on her face. Alex takes Lena’s lead and covers her eyes, trying to walk away without full sight, but Sam catches her wrist and pulls her back.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby, Alex.” She says, kissing her on the cheek, and Sara laughs, leaning against the doorframe.
“Yeah, Danvers. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before.”
Alex turns the deepest shade of red that Lena has ever seen. Suffice to say, Sam doesn’t get her question answered, but the show goes great anyways.
The shows all go great, really. They don’t have a single crowd that isn’t excited to see them, and their online following grows by thousands every week. There are still no real record deals or independent tours on the horizon, but Lena puts it out of her mind. Another problem for her future self to deal with. Sara and Ava encourage them to experiment and suggest modifications to the setlist, and on the last leg of the trip, Kara finally makes one of her own.
Sara and Ava’s bus rumbles underneath them as they all sit gathered around the table, the surface littered with playing cards and beer bottles. Sam seems to be absolutely determined to beat Lena at ‘bullshit’ – they’ve played three hands now, all tucked under Lena’s belt, and everyone seems to have mostly backed down in favour of letting them duke it out. Instead, the conversation turns to the show.
“I’m thinking of switching things up a bit. Doing the same set for a month and a half is getting old.” Sara glances at her cards, picking two out of her hand and putting them facedown on the table. “Two sevens.”
Sam nods, picking a few cards out of her own hand and putting them down just slightly too fast to be believable. “Yeah, I like that idea. Three eights.”
“Bullshit.” Lena says decisively, barely looking up from her hand.
“Bullshit to my idea, or bullshit to Sam’s cards?” Sara jokes, and Lena snorts.
“What do you think? Flip ‘em, Arias.”
Sam, looking near-murderous, flips her cards over to reveal –
“Oof. A six and two threes? Not even one eight?” Kara groans, taking a sip of her drink. “That’s rough.”
Sam dutifully scoops up the entire card pile, grumbling as she sorts them into some sort of order. “This isn’t fair – Lena’s known me for too long. She has an unfair advantage.”
“I’ve known Alex most of my life, and she can’t tell when I’m lying!” Kara adds unhelpfully, seeming to realize her mistake when both Alex and Sam level her with a look.
“When do you lie to me?” Alex asks, her eyes narrow, and Kara visibly gulps.
“I don’t – I just meant in the game, you’re sort of bad at – okay, Sara, what were you saying about the setlist?”
Sara, god bless her, takes the cue to change the subject.
“I was thinking maybe having something acoustic in the middle of each of our sets, but we only have one song that would fit. Do you guys have anything?”
Lena shrugs, still watching Sam grumpily sort her cards. “We don’t really have any acoustic numbers, no. We sometimes do a Hozier cover, but we do enough covers during the show that I wouldn’t want to add it.”
Sara nods, looking thoughtful, and Kara raises her hand nervously.
“I…might have something?”
Lena looks over at her in surprise. Kara looks unusually fidgety, but she seems sure.
“Did you write a new song?” And not tell me? Is the clear subtext of the question, but Kara holds her hands up in surrender.
“I wrote it while we were driving the other week, and I didn’t think it was a good match for the show. But it’s acoustic, and that’s what Sara wants, right?”
Sara nods, grinning. “Show me what you’ve got.”
Kara doesn’t end up playing the song – she just hands her notebook full of lyrics and bars to Sara and Ava, who read over it with steadily growing smiles. By the end Sara and Kara share a look of understanding, and Sara nods her approval, but there’s something else behind her eyes that Lena doesn’t quite understand.
“So, this would be a duet with Lena?” Ava asks, her quirked eyebrow far too knowing for Lena’s comfort, and Kara nods.
Kara’s song ends up going into the middle of their setlist, and once the placement is figured out, the game resumes at Sam’s insistence. She gathers her gigantic fan of cards, grabbing a few and starting to put them down on the now-empty table.
“Okay. Right. Back in the game. So…three eig –“
“GOD DAMN IT, LENA!”
The card games are thankfully mostly forgotten by the time they arrive at the venue, although Sam seems to have been unable to resist retaliating via Instagram by posting an embarrassing picture that she captured after their show in Austin of a very drunk Lena in a cowboy hat trying (and failing) to stay on a mechanical bull. She captions it ‘our fearless leader’, and it gets the second-most likes of any of their posts previous.
In the whirlwind of learning a new song on the road, she doesn’t really think about the lyrics. They match with the rest of their songs, centering on female love and desire, so she learns her parts – a basic acoustic melody and backup vocals, interestingly enough – and puts it out of her mind. It’ll be Kara’s first song doing lead vocals, so most of her energy is spent helping Kara prepare.
Which unfortunately means that when she hears it on stage for the first time, it hits her like a freight train.
It’s more or less just her and Kara, bright lights shining and no instrumental buffer between their voices and the crowd. Sam lays a quiet, simple bass line and Alex has a slow beat to follow, but the emphasis is on the two stools set centre stage, angled so as to almost face each other. Doing acoustic songs live is always more nerve-wracking for Lena – there’s more room for error, more chance that someone will hear every possible imperfection in her vocals – but Kara blows her away.
Her fingers are nimble as she plucks the complicated notes, and her voice is high and clear, but what Lena really notices is the fact that those blue eyes never leave her own. She sings about being stronger together, about enduring tests and overcoming adversity and, overall, about love. When their voices blend perfectly over the chorus, Lena knows. This song is about her. Kara is singing her own feelings, in front of thousands of people, and it must show on both of their faces.
And Lena feels the same way.
God, I’m so fucked.
The crowd, though, seems to eat it up. Thousands of tiny points of light are waving in the audience, phone flashlights held aloft to the beat, and the collective noise of approval after the song ends is cacophonous. Sam celebrates the successful debut by posting the picture from that photoshoot so long ago that Lena simultaneously loves and hates – herself on Kara’s back, their foreheads pressed together and sharing what is clearly a private look. It was from before she and Kara even started this relationship, but even then she couldn’t hide how she felt. And it garners a huge response from their followers, many of whom revive the ‘karlena’ hashtags and re-ignite the speculation.
The knowledge sends a spike of anxiety into her gut. She chases it away with Kara’s kisses and a few post-show glasses of scotch with Sara, and like everything else, she puts it carefully into a box and tucks it onto a shelf labelled ‘later’.
Unfortunately, ‘later’ comes much earlier than planned, and Lena's carefully-stacked boxes start to teeter precariously.
Their second-to-last show on the tour circuit has just wrapped up, and Lena is just about ready to find a semi-private spot to show Kara her appreciation, when her phone rings. The number is unknown and she’s sort of busy struggling to get her guitar into its case, so she gestures at Kara instead.
“Could you grab that?”
She doesn’t pay much attention to the conversation until Kara hangs up the phone, looking down at the display with palpable shock. A roadie bumps into her with an armful of equipment and apologizes, but she hardly notices – she’s still staring at the phone, her face slightly pale. Suddenly, this moment feels incredibly important, and Lena drops what she’s doing.
“Kara?” Lena asks tentatively. “Who was that?”
“It was…” Kara blinks a few times, seeming to shake herself out of a trance. “It was…Max Lord, from Lord Entertainment. He wants to meet with us when we get back to National City.”
This single sentence shatters her precariously-constructed happy bubble like glass. She should feel happy – she knows she should. Lord is a big name, and this could be their big break, the thing she’s been working towards since she started this band. But all Lena feels as Sam and Alex celebrate the news is a strange, cold sense of foreboding.
"Lena?" Kara asks, and unlike Sam and Alex, she seems to share Lena's sense of apprehension. "This is good, right? A record label?"
"Yeah." Lena replies, her voice sounding high and unnatural to her ears. "Yeah, it's great. It's really, really great."
Slowly, agonizingly, the first box falls.
I hope y’all enjoyed the Leonard cameo, I started watching Legends a while ago and Snart is my BOY, I miss him so very much.
I have no lyrics for the song Kara wrote for Lena, obviously, but I based the overall vibe of it on this song.
Also, I know the smut was light here, but the Drama is starting soon. The smut will return at the happy ending ;)
IT'S CERTAINLY BEEN A WHILE HUH
The next chapter is almost finished now, so I promise the next wait will be much shorter! Within the month. OKAY BYE LOVE YOU
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The final show of the tour is simultaneously the best and worst of Lena’s life thus far.
It’s the biggest audience they’ve ever played for, certainly. And the experience of it is incredible – the wild crowd, the ever-present chemistry, the way Kara kisses her like they’re the only two people in the universe after they stumble off the stage after the encore.
But it feels like it goes by in a flash. She’s hardly introduced the first song before their set is over, and it’s like she’s watching Sara and Ava play in fast-forward. Like the world is a whirlwind centred on her, and she’s the only one feeling the loss of time. Time she could be spending with Kara, enjoying the last vestiges of freedom, but instead she’s frozen in place.
Sara and Ava throw a wrap-up party at a local bar, paying for round after round of drinks, but Lena doesn’t partake. She just curls into Kara’s side, trying to absorb this last vestige of comfort for as long as she can. It feels like it flies by, half of the enjoyment already lost to the past, to this inexorable march towards the end. Lena sits steeped in anxiety while everyone around her celebrates, and as much as she knows she’s in a horrible cycle, she can’t seem to break it.
And as expected once the thrill is over, once their party is winding down and everyone is starting to head back to the bus and prepare to drive back to National City, the carefully-constructed bubble that Lena has been living in – where she and Kara can be more open, where they hang out with a couple that gives her unfounded hope of an in-band relationship working – disappears. The moment they cross back into the city limits, the only thing Lena can focus on is the meeting looming on the horizon.
It’s silly, she knows. She should be happy – a meeting with a record exec is a big deal. It could be their break. She and Kara are headed back to her place for the first time in weeks, where they can cook their own dinner and lie in her soft bed and finally be alone. But when they arrive, when Kara sweeps her into a kiss and they fall into bed, Lena doesn’t feel relief. Just apprehension, and a strange sense of loss.
Kara picks up on her mood immediately. As soon as she senses Lena’s lack of fervour she freezes in her enthusiastic kissing of Lena’s neck and pushes herself up to hover over Lena, frowning.
Lena shakes her head, trying to pull Kara close again. She doesn’t want a spotlight shined on her issues right now - she just wants to hide.
“No, don’t stop, just keep going –“
“Lena, god, no!” Kara insists, looking horrified. “You’re crying!”
Lena reaches up to her own face, and she’s shocked to find that Kara is right. Her temples are wet. She hurriedly wipes them away, mortified.
“It’s fine!” She insists, her voice higher than she’d like, but Kara isn’t having any of it.
“Lena, please. Tell me what’s wrong?”
Faced with Kara’s focused concern, with her earnest kindness, a dam in Lena’s chest breaks open. The tears flow in earnest, and for what feels like hours but is actually just a few minutes she cries uncontrollably, clinging to Kara’s frame and trying to absorb the comfort she brings. When it finally tapers off, the sobs turning into sniffles, Kara pulls away slightly.
“What’s going on?” Kara whispers, smoothing a hand over Lena’s hair.
“I just…don’t want to lose this,” Lena sniffles into Kara’s neck, still unwilling to let Kara move too far away.
Kara takes Lena’s face in her hands, gently kissing her cheekbones. “You’re not losing anything. I’m right here.”
Desperate to chase the bad thoughts away, Lena kisses her, deep and slow. It works, for as long as their lips are touching – as soon as Kara pulls away, it all comes rushing back.
“What can I do? How can I make you feel better?” Kara asks, fully engaged in ‘fix-it’ mode. But Lena doesn’t need a fix. This can’t be fixed, as far as she’s concerned.
“Just…” Lena kisses her, harder this time, again and again until Kara melts into it. “Just make me forget.”
Thankfully, Kara grants the request with minimal question after that. Kara touches her in a way that she hasn’t really allowed before – it’s soft, and unhurried, and sweet. Kara’s fingers fill her with excruciating slowness, all about stretch and pressure instead of frenzied passion and far too close to something that Lena will not entertain the idea of. She can’t seem to get Kara close enough, deep enough - when Lena comes, her cry is muffled in Kara’s neck, and she folds in on herself like a house of cards.
By the end of it Lena is crying again, and she’s not sure why. Kara kisses the tears away, whispering affirmations and holding her as close as possible, but Lena can’t even begin to articulate what’s wrong – all she knows is, she has a horrible feeling.
A feeling that, sometime soon, everything is going to change.
“Mr. Lord will be with you in just a moment.”
Lord’s assistant is pleasant enough, but something about this whole place – the gleaming surfaces, the offices, the people in them – puts Lena on edge. She grits her teeth, and when Kara puts a comforting hand on her knee under the table, Lena shrugs it off. Kara looks at her with a hurt expression, and Lena clenches her jaw.
“Not here,” She mutters, and Kara nods, sighing.
“Ah, the Worldkillers. And Lena herself,” A voice calls from the doorway, the and feeling that Lena was plagued with last night is vindicated almost instantly.
Maxwell Lord is the picture of corporate arrogance. His suit is too expensive, his hair too styled, and his smile too fake for Lena to trust a single thing that comes out of his mouth. Which turns out to be a good thing, considering the first thing he brings up is fundamentally changing the band.
“Look, you guys are talented. That much is clear. But you lack mainstream appeal,” He says, throwing a Lord-branded stress ball into the air and catching it again. “I can make you famous.”
Sam narrows her eyes, arms crossed defensively. “We have fans already. I’d say we’re pretty appealing.”
“You’re small-time,” Lord says. “Indie. I can make you big. All you have to do is make a few changes.”
“We don’t need to be big,” Kara scoffs, but Lena interrupts her.
“What kinds of changes?”
Lord smiles, and it makes Lena’s skin crawl. He tosses a photograph onto the table, and Lena picks it up to look at possibly the blandest white male she’s ever seen.
“Who is this supposed to be?” She asks, her lip curling as she intuits where Lord is going with this.
“This is Mike,” Lord says, leaning back in his chair. “Your new bandmate.”
Immediately, three voices speak up in protest.
“Oh, come on –“
“We don’t need –“
“He looks like a dick –“
Lord holds up a hand, his eyes still trained intensely on Lena, who remains quiet, The room goes silent again.
“And what does the lead singer say?” Lord asks, looking unnecessarily smug. It sets Lena’s teeth on edge, and the ball of anxiety that’s rested in her chest ever since that first phone call expands to encompass her entire upper body. Instincts are warring in her head, and she has no idea which one to follow.
“They’re right,” She finally says, and Kara noticeably relaxes next to her. “We don’t need him.”
Lord is silent for a few seconds, and his eyes flicker back and forth between Lena and Kara in a way that makes Lena unspeakably nervous. But in the end he shrugs, grabbing the picture from her hands and slipping it into an inside pocket. “Well unfortunately, without him, I’m not interested.”
“Great,” Kara says, standing up. “Then neither are we.”
Alex nods with her and Sam stands too, glancing at Lena, who remains seated just a bit longer. “Are you coming?
“Yeah,” Lena says, finally standing with a heavy feeling in her chest. “Sorry.”
Sam ducks out the door after Alex and Kara, and Lena moves to follow, but Lord stops her with a firm grip on her arm. He pulls a card out of his pocket, holding it up with two fingers.
“For when you change your mind,” He says, entirely too confidently.
Lena hesitates, but in the end she snatches it and stows it in her pocket before pulling her arm out of his grip.
The ride home seems longer than usual.
“I can’t believe him. A new guy? Where does he get off?” Sam rages, braking a little too hard as they hit a yellow light.
“Yeah, acting like he was doing us a favour by adding some random dude to the band – fuck that,” Alex agrees, and Kara nods.
“He was sleazy as hell. Right, Lena?”
Lena nods wordlessly, feeling the cardstock in her pocket and trying to swallow her anxiety.
She has no intention of using it, she assures herself as everyone else finishes the conversation and transitions into singing along to the radio. None whatsoever. Lord is a sleazeball, and everyone was right to walk out. They don’t need some random guy being injected into the band, not when their chemistry and sound is so good as it is. They don’t need Lord.
She’s still telling herself this later, when Kara is picking up a shift at the coffee shop and Lena is curled up on the sofa in their studio, staring at the card.
We don’t need him. We’ll find another label, we’ll figure something out, he’s not the only person interested, we don’t –
The circular train of thought is cut off when Lena’s phone lights up, vibrating violently on the coffee table. Her dark mood plummets even further when she sees the caller ID.
Even from afar, Lillian has always been able to smell blood in the water.
Immediately after picking up, Lena takes the defensive.
“What do you want?”
Lillian chuckles, and it makes Lena feel even worse. “Is that any way to greet your mother?”
“I’m really not in the mood for your bi-yearly phone call, so if we could just get to the point –“ Lena mutters, pinching the bridge of her nose, and Lillian skips the pleasantries.
“Maxwell Lord contacted me today. I hear you rejected his offer.” There’s clear disappointment in her tone, a disappointment that still cuts Lena to the bone despite all her efforts to not care what her mother thinks.
Lena sighs. “Of course he called you. Are all National City billionaires friends?”
“Lena, you’re throwing away the oppourtunity of a lifetime. Do you know how rare it is to be approached by a record label?” Lillian says, driving the knife ever deeper. Letting Lena know that even at this, the thing she abandoned the family company for, she can’t possibly be successful.
“I know –“
But Lillian can’t be shaken from her goal. “And especially with your lifestyle. You’re not going to get a shot like this again.”
Lena can’t help but rise to the bait, try to defend herself. “He insisted we add another member, some guy we don’t know –“
“As he should. You’re never going to be even marginally successful as you are, dear.”
Lena knows that she’s being manipulated. She knows it – her mother never says anything in that concerned tone unless she wants something. But despite knowing that, she can feel the words chipping away at her, worming their way into her head until they make her hands shake.
“Far be it from me to make your decisions for you –“
Lena rolls her eyes. “Right. I’ll think about it. Goodbye, mother.”
She hangs up the call, throwing her phone onto the cushion beside her in frustration. Ten seconds later she’s picking it up again, Lord’s card still in the other hand.
Trust Lillian to make her doubt every decision she’s ever made. She taps the card on her phone screen, the even but frantic rhythm only adding to her anxiety. Her mantra has twisted, from we don’t need him to what if, what if, what if –
What if this is our only chance?
As if guided by an invisible, anxious hand, the number on the card is punched in before she can think about it too hard. She’s put through directly to Lord with suspicious speed, but her roiling self-loathing is too loud for her to think about it too hard.
When he picks up, all the smugness from that meeting still apparent in his voice, Lena hates herself for her next words.
“Mr. Lord? I…I think we’d like to revisit that deal you offered.”
“I still think this is a bad idea.”
Alex does nothing to lower her tone, even with Max Lord standing directly beside her. Thankfully he ignores it, and Lena is glad. She doesn’t feel capable of mediating sarcastic banter right now.
Instead Lord just snaps his fingers at his assistant, who hurries away with a nod.
It had taken Lena some time to convince everyone to agree to meet with Lord again. Kara had taken the least time out of everyone, telling Lena in a terribly earnest voice that she’d go along with whatever made her happy. Sam had agreed that they likely wouldn’t find another label anytime soon, but she hadn’t seemed overjoyed about it. But Alex had been adamant, and it took all three of them and some sweet-talking from Sam to finally win her over.
“I’m glad you saw reason. Mike is what will make you work for the mainstream audience,” Lord says as the assistant leaves, his voice brokering no disagreement. At his next suggestion, though, even Lena has to protest.
“And it’d be ideal if one of you dated him.”
“Excuse me?” Sam gapes, and Alex scoffs.
“I told you,” Alex mutters, putting her feet up on the clean table and crossing her ankles. “Not happening, Lord.”
“Or pretended to date, have vague chemistry we can spin, whatever. I don’t care, as long as it looks realistic. And it should be her.” Lord continues as if he didn’t hear her, and instead he points at Kara.
“What? Why?” Lena asks, curbing the urge to grab Kara’s hand in protest. A python is winding its way around her chest, and the more Lord talks, the more tightly it squeezes.
“Because these two are already dating publicly,” He says, pointing at Alex and Sam, “And you look like you’d rather sell your voice to a sea witch than date a man. She looks convincing.”
“You do realize that that’s, like…super offensive, right? You’re asking me to go back in the closet,” Kara says, disapproval etched into every line of her frown.
“Sometimes, sacrifices have to be made.”
“Sacrifices? I am not –“
Lena interrupts, making the only firm imposition she’s made in the conversation so far.
”That is not happening, Max.”
They’re interrupted by a knock on the conference room door, and Lord’s assistant pokes her head in again.
“Mr. Lord? He’s waiting downstairs.”
“Send him up,” Lord says, and at the frosty silence in the room, he sighs.
“Fine. Don’t take my advice, but at least tone it down. There’s only so much rainbow energy the average audience can take. They need some representation.”
“Are you actually suggesting that straight people need more representation?” Sam says incredulously, and Lord’s snappy response shows his thinning patience.
“I’m saying, nobody is going to buy your music if you’re all gay.”
The impact of the sentence reverberates through each of them differently. Alex, Sam, and Kara all broadcast several degrees of righteous anger and indignation – but all Lena feels is resigned. She knows the industry, knows what people like Lord want to sell, and this is probably the best deal they’re going to get.
The door opens again, and this time it’s not Lord’s assistant – it’s the guy from the picture, patchy beard scruff and all. He waves, grinning genially.
“Hey! I’m not interrupting, am I?”
“Not at all! Ladies, this is Mike. He’ll be on lead guitar,” Max says, gesturing Mike over and putting a friendly hand on his shoulder. Mike grins, giving him the thumbs-up, but Alex interjects immediately.
“Kara does lead guitar.”
Lord takes a deep breath, pinning Alex with an irritated glare. “Well, Kara will be able to focus more on backup vocals now, won’t she?”
Mike seems friendly enough – intentionally benign and palatable, she’s sure - but there’s something about him that makes Lena uncomfortable. Something about the way he shakes Kara’s hand, holds it just slightly too long, his eyes trained on her face long after Kara has moved on. The way he stares at Sam’s hips when she’s not looking. The way that Lord keeps acting like the sun shines out of his mediocre ass.
Her fingers itch to hold Kara’s, and she hates that she can’t.
In the end, they agree to sign a temporary contract and do a small, 16-venue tour to introduce the ‘new Worldkillers’.
With no dating.
The mood in the van on the way back to Lena’s is sombre, everyone caught up in their own thoughts, and Lena dreads what’s coming tomorrow – Mike is joining them for practice, and she can tell from their 15-minute interaction that he’s not the type to have the songs memorized yet.
This was a huge mistake.
Three shows into the tour, it’s clear that their fans feel the same way about Mike that Lena does.
They still show up to gigs, still excited and eager to interact, but their dislike of the new member of the band is clear. With Mike on stage everything feels rote, inauthentic, and Lord only encourages Mike’s antics. It makes Lena fume. But Mike’s random interjections into the mic during sets are met with lackluster response, and the online reaction is even worse.
Lena finds it oddly satisfying, but Lord insists that they work harder on trying to include him.
Kara, being the friendly person she is, does her best to tolerate him. Lena, however, won’t even stand next to him during shows. Every attempt he makes at engaging her on stage is met with open derision, and she does her best not to acknowledge him as a person even off stage.
She might have been more open to being friendly, if it weren’t for the way Mike hits on Kara at every oppourtunity.
Kara always gently deflects him, of course. She laughs awkwardly, shrugs off his overly-familiar touches. But he’s persistent, and Lena’s irritation grows with each passing day.
There’s no tour bus this time, just the band van and a lot of motels, and spending hours driving in a cramped vehicle with Mike as well as dealing with his on-stage antics is almost too much to deal with. It triggers every insecurity she has, all those boxes she stacked so neatly during those weeks on tour with Sara and Ava coming down one by one, and Lena is forced to deal with every instance of self-doubt and fear she put on hold.
She’s not worried about Kara, by any means. She trusts Kara more than she’s ever trusted anyone, besides Sam. What bothers her is the ease with which Mike is able to make literally everyone besides Sam, Alex, Ava, and Sara think that he and Kara are secretly in love. Because, to Lena’s mounting frustration, Mike only seems to hit on Kara in public.
It’s like he’s honed in on exactly how to get Lena’s blood pressure up - if they were in private, Kara could push him off the way she wants to. But in public she has to be polite, keep up appearances of a happy band. And no matter how many times anyone talks to him about it, the problem persists. He denies even doing it, saying he’s only being friendly.
And, of course, there’s the fact that with him around, Kara has to hide who she’s actually with.
“Lena, I don’t understand why we can’t just tell him. He’s part of the band, he’s not going to tell anyone –“ Kara says as she loads Alex’s drum kit into the van after their fourth show. Lena scoffs, handing her the cymbals.
“You actually trust him? You completely trust that guy not to run his mouth?” Lena doesn’t trust Mike to any degree. She’s pretty sure he’d sell them out in an instant if it meant furthering his own career, and she won’t give him more ammunition.
Kara sighs frustratedly. “So what if he does? Maybe –“
“It’s not happening, Kara.” Lena’s tone is final, and after a pause Kara nods, her jaw clenched.
As the tour goes on, Mike eases more and more snugly into his role - sweet, humble singer-songwriter, so grateful to be included, so accepting of Sam and Alex, so admiring of the band in its previous incarnation. On-stage, he acts like a boyish puppy dog with a mischievous streak - he pesters the other band members, but in such a fake playful way that the steady trickle of new fans seem to eat it up as soon as he winks and throws his guitar pick.
But, backstage he’s the picture of male entitlement. He sits on his phone while they load the equipment into the van, and even after the tour is half over he’s yet to take a shift driving – he just climbs into the back seats, lays across them, and goes to sleep.
She’s grateful for that last thing, at least. She’d rather listen to his snores than deal with him awake.
His on-stage antics get more and more overt as the 3 weeks go on. He sings into Kara’s mic at one show, and then he’s putting is hand at the small of Kara’s back as they leave the stage. He sticks to her side at afterparties, poses for pictures with his arm around her, posts uncomfortable selfies and Kara-centric stories on his Instagram and tags the Worldkillers. Each one seems to make him more confident, and soon he’s asking to add his own songs to the setlist.
Lena’s initial reaction is outright refusal. Songwriting feels like her final frontier of control over the band, and letting Mike take over that as well is almost more than she can take. But soon enough she gets a call from Lord, and Mike’s substandard Ed Sheeran rip-off male-gaze music is added to the roster.
He’s the golden boy. He can do no wrong, and Lena starts seeing the crowds soften towards him, their old fans seemingly being replaced by rows of teenage heterosexuals, and she wants to scream. Don’t fall for it, it’s all a mask, he’s a jerk –
But she stays silent.
Because this is what’s required. This is the price to be paid for success. The happiness she felt when she was writing the music she loved and being open with Kara, it was fleeting. To be successful she has to pay the piper, and this is the way.
No matter how bitter it tastes.
And it only gets more bitter with time. When the tour finally ends, Lena’s reaction is the polar opposite of the longing she felt for their last tour to continue – she’s never been more relieved in her life to be playing a final show. She’s so eager to get it over with that she can tell she’s being half-hearted in her performance, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the front row full of girls staring at Mike.
When they finish the encore she’s almost on the edge of being actually happy, for the first time in weeks. The tour is over, and they’re going home, where she and Kara can finally have time alone instead of sleeping in separate beds in shared hotel rooms.
Her mood is completely torpedoed when Mike throws an arm around Kara’s shoulders and lays a friendly kiss on her cheek as they say goodbye to the crowd.
The happiness curdles in her stomach as she watches Kara’s uncomfortable expression, unable to stop the situation but painfully aware of how much she and Kara both hate it, and her only solution is to storm backstage where she can’t see it anymore. When she gets to the dressing room she paces back and forth almost manically, ripping off her cardigan and throwing it across the room just to have an outlet for her anger.
It hits the opposite wall and slides down into a sad heap on the floor, and it does absolutely nothing to alleviate the churning in her gut.
Sam enters the room hot on her heels, and before anyone else follows them she pulls Lena into the hallway that leads to the bathrooms. She looks concerned, and Lena’s anger starts to turn to something else, something that makes her eyes start to prickle and burn.
“Lena, what’s going on with you?” Sam asks, leaning close and rubbing her arms. Lena shakes her head, her voice thick.
“Nothing. It’s fine.”
“You look like you’re going to explode,” Sam points out, and it’s all Lena can do to keep herself from crying.
“I just – with Mike, and Kara, it’s just –“ Lena can feel the tears coming, and she slams her eyes shut angrily to stave them off. Behind them the rest of the band make their presence known in the green room, Kara clearly trying to get as far away from Mike as possible and Mike staring at his phone, probably posting the latest selfie. Sam pulls her further into the hallway and into a tight hug, and Lena feels instantly better.
“I know, I know. God, he’s a dick,” Sam mutters, and Lena chuckles half-heartedly into her shoulder.
“This all just - it just sucks. I miss…being myself,” She says, so quiet that not even Alex and Kara can hear. Sam sighs.
“You could, you know.”
Lena jerks away at the familiar suggestion, rubbing her own arms nervously. “You know I can’t, Sam.”
“Can’t, or won’t?”
There’s a challenge in the words, a challenge that takes away all the comfort she felt just seconds ago.
Lena doesn’t answer.
They’re interrupted by Alex poking her head into the hallway, and calling out.
“What are you guys doing in there? We have to pack everything up, and Captain Dingus is off talking to his fan club.”
Sam shakes her head, gesturing to Alex that she’ll be there in a minute. Turning back to Lena, she leans close again and talks in a low voice.
“Look, I know you’ve never let yourself get serious like this before, and you’re scared. But please, just let it happen. You deserve to be happy.”
With her advice dispensed, Sam heads back to help heave instruments into the van, but Lena stays rooted to the spot. Even with Sam’s words, even with Kara finally coming to find her with a hopeful smile, Lena can’t fight the voice inside that says no.
No, I don’t.
“Hey, frownypants, what’s got you down?”
From her reclined position on the couch Alex pokes at Sam with a foot, moving up and up until Sam finally swats her away, but Sam’s frown doesn’t budge.
“Sam?” Lena asks, a little bit concerned at the seriousness. “What’s up?” It’s one of the few practices they’ve been able to have lately without Mike present, and Sam’s quiet concern is taking away from Lena’s enjoyment of finally being able to cuddle close to Kara outside the safety of her bedroom.
“It’s fine. It’s just – we have a bunch of new followers,” Sam says, clearly still concerned about something.
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Kara asks, pulling Lena closer and peppering her shoulders with kisses. She’s being a lot more affectionate than usual – which, with Kara, is really saying something – but Lena is happy to soak it up while she can.
“It would be, but…they’re just asking for more of Mike,” Sam says darkly.
“Mike?” Alex asks incredulously, grabbing Sam’s phone. Sam nods, chewing on her lip.
“Yeah. And not just that, they’re like…super rude to everyone else.”
“How so?” Kara asks, immediately pulling up her own phone to check the comments on their latest posts.
“They seem to…” Sam hesitates, looking at Lena with sadness in her eyes. Lena’s heart sinks. Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Lena asks for clarification.
“They seem to what?”
“Well, they seem enthusiastic about…Mike and…Kara,” Sam says finally, and Lena wishes she hadn’t asked. Her stomach sours, but Sam keeps talking. “And they’re not nice about anyone who thinks otherwise.”
”Well, that’s annoying,” Kara says, holding her phone out for Lena to see and looking mildly offended. Reluctantly, Lena checks it out.
Sam is right – their numbers have jumped, and there’s an influx of comments asking for more of Mike. And, even worse, more of Mike and Kara. It’s not an overwhelming amount, but it’s enough to be noticeable.
Enough to grate on her.
”I’m gonna tell them to fuck off,” Kara mutters, and Lena puts a warning hand on her arm despite her own nausea.
”Just...be polite. Okay?”
These new fans seem to love Mike and his smarmy attitude, and they seem to actively hate Lena for her clear dislike of him. A good amount of them complain about the band name, saying that they should change it to ‘Mike and the Worldkillers’, that Lena should stop being such a bitch, that anyone who thinks she and Kara have chemistry is delusional because Kara and Mike are so clearly in love.
It’s a small amount of people, realistically. Hardly more than a few hundred, against the tens of thousands of followers they had before. But they’re loud, and it’s maddening.
And, more than anything before it, it makes Lena absolutely sure that coming out will guarantee a bad reaction. She missed the chance, and now their older fans seem outnumbered in their comments, overtaken by the negativity.
She hates them for flocking to Mike, for circulating false rumours, and she hates herself for being too afraid to prove them wrong.
It feels like success is what she’s been building towards her whole life. Success, fame, approval - she’s always just wanted to be good at what she does, as good as Lex is at running the company. Justify being the family disappointment, somehow. And if this – Mike in the band, and corporate backing, and Max Lord – is the way to do it, she can handle it.
She can. Even if it eats at her every waking moment.
It’s true that Sam and Alex seem to get primarily positive reactions from fans, but she can’t help but feel that it’s different – Sam and Alex don’t have a legion of crazy heterosexual women against them. And there are some who even dislike them, leave awful comments or even just disinterested or mean ones that convince Lena that disrupting this little group’s fantasy about Mike and Kara is a bad idea. At this point, going public might actually torpedo the band.
Or, so Lena tells herself. Because underneath that, lies her real fear.
What if she and Kara get too deep? What happens if they break up, and it ruins everything?
Sam’s words echo in her head as Kara tries to change the subject. You deserve to be happy.
She’s never been good at letting herself be happy.
It’s only a matter of time before her emotional distance starts to affect Kara. Kara makes it clear from the beginning that she wants to set the record straight, but Lena refuses to entertain the idea, and more and more often their now-limited alone time together devolves into fights.
It’s exactly what Lena was afraid of, in getting into a relationship with a bandmate. That their fights would bleed into the music, into the band dynamic, and the more she panics about it, the more they fight. And there’s only so much of it she can blame on Mike.
“Mike isn’t our problem, Lena,” Kara finally says one night, when Lena has once again blamed her bad mood on his antics. “You’re the one who doesn’t want to be public!”
“I know,” Lena admits, feeling Kara’s comment hit like an arrow. She’s right, and she knows it.
“I don’t get it. You’re already out as a lesbian, what’s the difference? If it were up to me, I’d tell everyone -”
“I know!” Lena snaps loudly this time, her anger at herself getting the better of her, and Kara jumps back. She looks like a wounded animal, and no matter how many times Lena apologizes for raising her voice, Kara still seems slightly off.
That night, they sleep apart for the first time since they got together. Kara insists that she needs to go home and get some things in order for their show tomorrow, and Lena lets her go with minimal arguing.
Lena’s fear only grows the further away Kara gets. She can see it unfold before her like a prophecy – they’ll keep fighting, holding on to the bitter end until their breakup is messy and unsalvageable, Alex leaves with her, and then Sam finally leaves too and Lena is alone, all alone, everything she’s worked for is gone –
She sleeps fitfully that night, missing Kara’s comforting warmth, and it shows. She spends the next day irritable and short and it’s obvious in her performance, and when she snaps at Kara for carrying an amp wrong during tear-down, Kara finally seems to have had enough.
Once they’re safely outside in the alley where the van is parked, Kara rounds on her, looking more hurt than angry.
“I don’t understand why you’re mad at me.”
Lena sighs, the wounded tone making her irritation give way to guilt. “I’m sorry, Kara. I’m just…stressed today. I didn’t sleep well.”
“You’re like this all the time,” Kara says quietly, and Lena’s guilt intensifies. “I’ve barely been able to hug you in public for a month.”
“You know why that is,” Lena says, ignoring how the words are starting to feel hollow. “We agreed when we first started this that we were going to be discreet.”
“But why?” Kara asks suddenly, her voice raising with emotion. “Why does it matter? I’d give it all up for you, Lena. All of this. Wouldn’t you?”
After a few seconds of uneasy quiet, Kara inhales deep, and exhales again.
No, Lena wants to scream. No, I would, don’t hate me, I’m just scared -
But she’s silent instead. Something keeps her from speaking – the same fear that she’s harboured since they got together. The fear that this will end, either way. Kara will see how selfish and awful she is and find someone better, or Lena herself will break it off for the sake of her career. It’s inevitable.
“I didn’t know that was…how you felt.” Kara’s voice cracks a little on the words. She looks so sad - so desperately sad, and Lena has no idea how they got here, or why her voice won’t work. Everything is spiraling, Kara looks close to tears, and when Lena opens her mouth, she has no control over what comes out of it.
“This was a bad idea to begin with.”
The words hit with the impact of an atomic bomb. Kara practically staggers back, looking shocked and hurt.
“What? Lena –“
But Lena can’t stop.
“I should never have given in, I shouldn’t have complicated things. It’s my fault, and I know that, but this is for the best. We…” It’s awful, this word-vomit, like all her fears are leeching out of her very pores and she can’t hold them in anymore. Everything that’s built over the last few weeks is spilling onto the floor. Lena’s voice quivers a bit, but she fights through it. “You deserve better than me anyways.”
“Lena, I’m not going to go back in the closet just to get us a record contract,” Kara says, grabbing for Lena’s hands. “Isn’t the point of our music to embrace being ourselves?”
But Lena steps back, needing space from Kara’s irresistible pull to get the next words out.
“I’m not asking you to go back in the closet. You don’t have to have anything to do with him, but we – this – it has to stop.”
Now that she’s said it, now that it’s out there, Lena can feel panic starting to constrict her chest. It tightens like a python, slowly, inexorably strangling her with the need to get out. Get out of this situation, by any means necessary, just get out -
“You’re…breaking up with me?” Kara looks so hopeless, so absolutely devastated, that Lena’s heart shatters on the spot. But Lillian was right – this thing she feels, this happiness, it’s fleeting anyways. Success is tangible, and it’s what they can have if she stops letting her feelings complicate things.
“Yes.” She almost chokes on the word, like her body is rebelling against her brain, but she forces herself through it, through the aching chest and the constricting throat and the sting of unshed tears. “We were never that serious to begin with. Right?”
She knows she’s made a mistake as soon as it leaves her mouth. Of course they were serious – of course they were. She’s been falling headfirst for months. Saying it was stupid, and hurtful, and she regrets it immediately. But she’s run out of words – an apology is just an invitation to hurt Kara more, and whatever Kara’s reaction is, Lena knows that she deserves it.
Somewhere deep inside, she wonders if she said it as some strange form of self-flagellation.
Kara’s face goes through an excruciating sequence of emotions, but finally, it lands on something Lena has never seen on her face before. Anger.
“Maybe not for you.”
It’s like a punch to the gut, and not the kind that Lena was prepared for, but it feels right. It feels like what she deserves.
“If this is what you thought, all this time –“ Kara cuts off, her eyes shiny. She shakes her head, and a tear falls. She wipes at it angrily. “I’m such an idiot. Should have known.”
“No. If this is your decision, fine, I’ll accept it. But don’t apologize to me and pretend that makes it all okay.”
Lena nods, swallowing what feels like a tennis ball-sized lump in her throat.
“Are you – will I see you at practice on Monday?”
It’s a weighty sentence, and they both know it. It’s a sentence that’s actually asking something else. Will you stay? Will the band survive?
Kara’s jaw tightens, and her nostrils flare. For a moment Lena thinks she’s going to yell, to throw something, to lash out – but she only sighs, sounding like the weight of a hundred worlds is on her shoulders.
“Yeah. I’ll stay, for Alex. I’ll get over it eventually. Maybe not as fast as you.”
Another sucker punch. All Lena wants to do is run to her, cling to her strong frame and kiss the tears from her cheeks and tell her she’s sorry – she’s so, so sorry, and she didn’t mean it, and things can keep going the way they are. But Kara won’t even look at her, and Lena knows that the damage is done. Irreparable.
“Okay.” Is what comes out of her mouth, and Kara leaves, shutting the door quietly behind her.
For a few minutes, Lena stands perfectly still, staring at the door. All of her emotions, positive and negative, seem to have been sucked out of the room with Kara, and she’s left feeling strangely blank.
Lena calls a cab from the alley, leaving the rest of the cleanup to everyone else. She feels exhausted and empty, and all she wants is to collapse in bed and never leave again. But when she gets there, she opens her pyjama drawer to find Kara’s t-shirt, folded neatly on top of her own clothes. Like it’s waiting for her.
She looks around the room, just now noticing everything that’s Kara’s – the fluffy red slippers on what Lena realizes now is absolutely Kara’s side of the bed, several of the vinyls on the windowsill next to the record player, a notebook on the dresser full of song ideas, a neon green phone charger still plugged into the wall, an extra toothbrush in the ensuite.
In some distant part of her brain, she realizes that her hands are shaking. She closes the drawer, climbs into bed in her clothes, pulls Kara’s pillow close, and finally the dam breaks.
She has no idea how long she lays there, heaving sobs so big that her entire body convulses with the force of them. She cries until her throat is hoarse, until the pillows and her hair and her shirt are soaked with salt and she feels like she’s run a marathon, like her entire body has been pummeled by her own shitty decision for hours on end.
Oh god, what have I done?
There is no practice on Monday.
They don’t rehearse at all before their next show, in a bordering state – Sam texts to tell her that Alex is with Kara and asks if Lena wants any company, but the last thing she needs right now is for the unspoken disappointment that would entail. She isolates herself for 3 days, subsisting on scotch and mindless television and resisting the almost overwhelming urge to call Kara and apologize, and by the time their next gig comes around she’s pretty sure she’s lost 10 pounds.
When she drags herself to the mirror to try and pull together some semblance of humanity, the person looking back is a stranger. Her eyes are red-ringed and her skin is paler than usual, her hair stringy and tangled. She looks absolutely pathetic, and even the thorough scrubbing she does in the shower isn’t enough to wash away what feels like a physical embodiment of her feelings. When she looks at least mildly presentable Lena meets everyone else at the venue, not feeling up to a 3-hour van ride with Kara just yet.
The show goes terribly.
The crowd still seems to enjoy their songs, but the energy that’s usually present is nonexistent, and they can feel it. Kara is quiet, almost automated, going through the motions of the songs as if on autopilot. Sam tries to make up for it but something is off, and it throws off the whole set.
It is, Lena realizes, their first bad gig, and the sense of failure is almost overwhelming. But it’s karma, she keeps telling herself.
I deserve it. I did this.
It hurts, but she keeps reminding herself of it, like pressing on a bruise. Like punishment.
Afterwards, there’s no celebration in the green room, no high fives or Instagram story updates. Kara leaves without a word, her face worryingly blank, and Lena tactfully refuses Sam’s offer to come hang out with her and Alex, who’s glaring at her from across the street.
Instead she goes home, and pours the last dregs of her scotch bottle directly into her mouth. It’s barely enough to get her buzzed but it’s all that’s left, and she makes a mental note to stock up tomorrow for what she’s sure are going to be a blurry few weeks.
Then, desperate for some kind of self-destruction if there’s no more alcohol in the house, she digs out her lighter and the last of her Malboros, and sits out on the deck. She leans over the railing to stare at the waves and smokes until her lungs burn, until the tips of her fingers are stained and her silver case is empty, and when she finally burns her last one down to the filter she wanders down onto the beach.
Careless in her destructive mood she throws the butt onto the sand, where it smolders for a few seconds and then goes out. And then, like a punch to the gut, all she can think of is Kara 6 months ago – Kara who told her she shouldn’t smoke, Kara who looked so scandalized when Lena threw her cigarette in the sand that Lena had gone and fetched it. Kara, so worried about birds.
She’d made Lena feel better that night, after being made to feel small and insignificant by her mother. She’d brought her out to the ocean and made her feel clean again, and then she’d pinned her to the wall of her shower and reminded her of what was more important. And when the motor of Alex’s bike had revved away, when Kara was done laughing and Lena expressed concern that Alex was going to be mad, Kara had just kissed her fears away.
“You’re worth it.”
Now, Lena has never felt more worthless in her life.
Before she can think twice about it she’s stripping, abandoning her clothes on the sand and wading into the surf completely naked and uncaring of potential danger. She walks against the current until the water reaches her neck and then relaxes, floating on her back occasionally moving her arms and legs, the gentle waves making her rock. She remembers being in this water with Kara, who looked like Aphrodite in the seashell and anchored her to the earth while she floated.
Now she’s alone. Drifting.
The coolness of the water and the hot tears streaking down her temples make a strange contrast, but it’s comforting being able to blame her stinging eyes on the salt instead of her own cowardice.
THEY GET BACK TOGETHER IN THE NEXT CHAPTER I'M SO SORRY
Kara isn’t sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere between now and their tour with Sara and Ava, she completely lost control of her life.
Things were good. At least, she thought they were. The tour was a whirlwind, but an exhilarating one – Lena had seemed excited, free in a way that Kara hadn’t seen before. They still had to be discreet in public, of course, but since most of their time was spent backstage or in the buses anyways, it didn’t seem to matter. It had given her hope. And, with each passing day and each incredible show, Kara had fallen harder and harder for someone who apparently didn’t give a shit.
Every time she’s reminded of that fact, it feels like someone is grabbing her heart and squeezing with all their strength. It hurts, a physical pain to match the emotional. She always thought that people who made big deals out of their breakups were being dramatic – she’s always been the type to recover quickly, accept that the relationship is over and move on. But this time, she feels…broken.
Her heart is broken. But along with the heartbreak, she’s so angry.
She spent months thinking that Lena cared, really cared, and was just afraid to show it. But now, she’s not so sure. Kara has gotten pretty good at telling when Lena is lying, and Lena seemed to be almost as sad as Kara was when she claimed she hadn’t been serious about their relationship - but she still said it. She still uttered the words. Did she mean them?
Even if she didn’t, does it matter? Either way, they’re broken up. Finished.
And Kara is alone.
Well, not completely alone. Alex comes over the second Kara texts her after the confrontation, meeting her at her now almost unfamiliar apartment. She’s spent so much of her time at Lena’s lately that she’s only really at home once or twice a week, and now the space feels cold and unwelcoming. And, her favourite sweater is at Lena’s.
God, she’s going to have to get all her stuff back.
Kara’s chest aches again, and a few more tears fight their way out despite her wishes. She hasn’t cried this much since her parents died, and she hates every traitorous drop that broadcasts her feelings to the world.
Lena had a choice to make, and she chose her career. Kara just wishes she could turn her feelings off, just for a while. Dull the pain.
Alex brings a bottle of bourbon with her, and Kara pours herself a glass.
Close enough, I guess.
“Maybe this is for the best,” Alex reasons, clinking her glass with Kara’s. “Lena’s clearly pretty hell-bent on her career. You deserve someone who puts you first.”
“I don’t want someone else. I want Lena,” Kara chokes, the tears burning in her eyes again. “I thought – I feel like such an idiot.”
“Kara…” Alex says softly, her brows furrowed. She touches Kara’s arm, and it’s all Kara can do not to dissolve into sobs. “Oh my god.”
“I know, I’m pathetic,” Kara mutters, finishing off her glass and holding out her hand. “Pass the bottle.”
“No, it’s not – you’re in love with her.”
“What?” Kara deflects, grabbing for the liquor, but Alex holds it out of her reach.
“I’ve never seen you like this. I knew you liked her, but – you fell for her, didn’t you?”
Kara’s silence seems to answer the question for her. Alex, wonderful Alex, doesn’t press the issue – she just uncorks the bourbon, pours Kara a healthy amount, and tops herself off as well.
“Let’s get plastered, okay?”
And it helps, for a while. Alex gets her so drunk that it feels like nothing can touch her, and she passes out feeling like maybe she’s figured out the secret to breakups – but, of course, every negative feeling she chased away with liquor comes back with a vengeance the next morning.
It’s Mike, Lena had claimed. Mike is ruining everything. But who was the one who let Mike in? Who insisted on calling Lord back and accepting his preliminary offer? Sure, she adamantly refused Lord’s stupid fake dating idea, but Mike is in the band because of Lena’s choice to sell out, a choice that Kara is still struggling to understand. It’s clear that Lena is miserable with him around, but every day she makes more concessions to his ego. Lena has always run the show, but now Lord is in control, and Lena is just letting it happen. It’s infuriating to watch the woman she’s always known to be so strong step aside so easily.
Even more infuriating, though, is Mike’s new habit of obviously hitting on her at every public oppourtunity.
While she was still with Lena, she hardly even noticed. She refused to go along with Lord’s plan, and that was that. He was an annoyance at best. Like a gnat, or an over-friendly dog – he was irritating, but she could swat him away as soon as they were off stage and she and Lena would go home together and forget about him. He was an irritant, but a manageable one.
Now it seems exponentially more annoying, each show a fresh bout of awkward avoidance, and there’s no safe place for Kara to go when he constantly shoves a camera in her face or tries to spin her around on stage. She’s tried talking to him, but after the 3rd time he nods in seeming understanding and then does it again she accepts that he has no interest in her comfort.
It doesn’t help that every time he does it, Lena gets so tense that Kara thinks she might break the mic.
And it makes her angry. The breakup, Max Lord, their new little group of fans who comment on her Instagram asking for ‘couple photos‘ no matter how many times she confirms that they are not, in fact, a couple, and Lena acting like she has any damn right to be upset anymore – it builds in her gut, a hot, churning rock that burns at her insides every time she swallows her rage.
She tries to let it slide off. She tries to just do her job, ignore her ragged feelings and Mike’s antics and just play the sets and go home. But Mike is a lot less tolerable when she doesn’t have Lena to go home to anymore, and it’s only a week after their breakup that she finally snaps.
She shouldn’t have even gone to this afterparty, in retrospect. She’s been miserable all night, trying to harmonize with Lena’s when all she wants to do is forget the cadence of her voice, and rubbing elbows with record execs and agents afterwards sounds like absolute hell. But Sam and Alex insist that it’ll be fun, and the promise of free booze ropes her in.
She should have known that being in a room with alcohol and Lena was a bad idea.
With the fog of several glasses of wine it’s impossible to keep from staring at her like a lovelorn moron, and Kara spends most of the party leaning against an inconspicuous wall and watching Lena talk and laugh and drink. She tries not to remember all the times it was her making Lena laugh, but she’s stuck in this aching spiral, and Sam and Alex have already disappeared to make out somewhere so there’s nobody to stop her.
She’s almost grateful, at first, when Mike turns up as a distraction.
“What are you doing back here? You’re missing the party,” He says, leaning against the wall beside Kara. His smile is easy, and for a moment, she almost thinks that maybe, he’s not so bad. Maybe they can even be friends.
Until he leans in closer, so close that his cologne overtakes her senses, and continues his comment in a voice that she’s sure is supposed to be sexy but misses the mark by a wide margin.
“If you want, we could make our own party somewhere else.”
So much for friends.
His hand creeps towards her lower back, and with a slightly overly-loud noise of displeasure, she shoves him away.
“I told you not to do that! I told you! How many times have I said I’m not interested?” She snaps, shoving hard at his chest again just for the savage pleasure of seeing his alarmed expression. He raises his hands in surrender, adopting his trademark puppydog look.
“Look, I know you guys are all kinda gay, but I’ve never had this much trouble getting a girl to like me,” He says, and infuriatingly, it seems completely genuine. He’s actually confused as to why Kara isn’t interested.
“Kind of –“ Kara sighs, the anger calming down to a light simmer. “Mike, for the hundredth time. I’m not interested in this…this showmance, or whatever it is that you want from me.”
Despite the gentling of Kara’s tone, Mike reacts defensively.
“Look, if I’m gonna be stuck doing this, I think it’s only fair that I’m getting something out of it!” He says, his voice rising to an almost booming level. A few people standing nearby turn their heads, looking concerned, but Kara sees red.
“Getting something? I never agreed to do anything, especially not with you, you sexist, chauvinist pig.”
“But Lord said –“
“I don’t give a solitary fuck what Lord said –“
Before Kara can really gather a head of steam, she’s stopped by a light touch on her arm accompanied by a familiar perfume. Painfully familiar.
“What’s going on? Kara, are you okay?”
She’s afraid to turn around. If she does, if she turns and engages with Lena directly in her current state, she has no idea what horrible truths might come tumbling out of her mouth. But Lena is insistent, putting herself between Kara and still-fuming Mike.
“Kara, what did he say to you?”
Looking at Lena is like looking at the sun – but instead of her eyes burning, the sensation is in her chest, and it’s directly correlated with how stupidly beautiful Lena looks tonight. Normally, it would just fill her with longing to go home and take her apart, a longing that would usually be sated by the end of the night; but now it’s just plain longing. To touch, to hold, to just be in the same space with Lena without the reminder of her brutal words.
Lena shouldn’t be here, making her feel like this when they don’t even have to perform. It isn’t fair.
“It isn’t exactly your business anymore, is it?” Kara snaps, the frustration finally rising to the surface. She pulls her arm roughly from Lena’s grasp, and leaves the two of them – Mike still pouting, and Lena looking conflicted – in her dust.
She tries to, at least. She hasn’t even gotten to the taxi stand outside when Lena catches up to her, heels clicking on the sidewalk.
“Kara! You should come back inside.”
“What for? So I can stand around and be miserable for another 2 hours?” Apparently she’s at the level of truth-telling in her alcohol consumption, and she purses her lips shut. Lena doesn’t need to know the state she’s in.
“I’m sorry that he did that,” Lena says, her hand hovering for a moment and then resting on Kara’s arm again. “I can tell how upset it makes you. I’ve tried to talk to him, but…”
Kara hates how strongly she feels the instinct to just turn around and pull Lena into her arms.
“Well, I wasn’t the one who wanted this, was I?” Kara finally asks quietly. “I wanted to be with you.”
Lena flinches as if she’s been struck, her hand clenching in Kara’s sleeve.
“Kara, I’m…I’m sorry -”
Lena is too close to her, her face is too apologetic, her hand is too warm, and Kara can’t take it anymore. There are no cabs nearby, so she pulls out her phone and orders a Lyft to pick her up a few streets away, already pulling away from Lena’s hand for the second time.
“Just – whatever,” She says dismissively, covering her shaky hands by shoving them in her pockets. “Just let me handle it.”
Kara wants to get out of this. To get out of all of it. She wants to leave and lock herself in a room where she doesn’t have to watch Lena perform every night with the knowledge that they’re over. But they’re contracted into 6 months, at least, and she has no idea what the repercussions of backing out would be.
Part of her wants to back out just out of spite, to take Alex and find a new band where she’s in no danger of falling in love with the emotionally unavailable lead singer. But the bigger part, the part that still cares for Lena despite everything, makes her stay.
Someday soon, she tells herself, the pain will stop.
It will stop.
Even if every glance in Lena’s direction and corresponding tug of her heart says otherwise.
It’s been 3 weeks without Kara, and Lena feels like all the light has been leeched out of the world.
She’s being overdramatic, sure. But she’d become so accustomed to the way that Kara effortlessly brightened her life that going back to the way it was before, with the added grayness of pain, makes her overly aware of how little she enjoys anything anymore.
She can’t play a show without being faced with Kara’s hurt. She can’t write a song without Lord’s intervention. She still sees Sam, but group hangouts have all but evaporated. She can’t even look at her phone without being reminded of exactly how big a mistake she made.
And, it was a mistake. She knows that now. She’s always known it, on some level – known that fear was guiding her, and it guided her wrong. The old adage be careful what you wish for has never seemed more apt.
This is her bed, and she has to sleep in it now.
It’s like she’s caught in limbo, in a horrible grayspace where she regrets her mistake but can’t fix it. Every attempt to even talk to Kara ends with stony silence – she’s hardened herself, retreating into a protective shell, and Lena can’t get through. Not that her tries have been particularly pointed – no matter how much she aches, the fear is still there, sitting on her chest and choking every effort she makes.
She misses Kara to the point of physical pain, and she can’t even admit why.
It feels like she’s sliding down a hill, gaining speed with every day and week that goes by, and the bottom is nowhere in sight until she crashes into it. And apparently, rock bottom is Kara graciously accepting the flirtation of another woman after a show.
It’s not even like Kara goes home with the girl. She just accepts her drink and carries on their conversation for the duration of it, smiling and giving off the confident energy that helped draw Lena to her in the first place, and then she catches a cab by herself. But Lena had to watch as the ever-present sadness left Kara’s frame, just for a little while, and a horrible reality dawned on her.
Kara is going to date again.
Maybe not right away, or even any time soon. But someday, Kara’s sadness is going to ease. She’ll take someone up on their offer and find her happiness somewhere else. She deserves that happiness, after what Lena said. She deserves better.
But the idea of it still makes her ill.
Her two fingers of scotch become four, and then a second glass, and then she’s stumbling down the sidewalk and shivering in her thin leather jacket. Everything is just a little bit wobbly, the neon signs and thumping bass of the clubs and bars lining the street making her head swim, and still the image of Kara leaning forward and laughing with a stranger is seared into her eyelids.
She needs to sit down. When ducks into the first door she sees, leaning against a wall for support, she’s met with a mediocre voice warbling the lyrics to ‘Piano Man’.
A karaoke bar. The first bar she fell into is a fucking karaoke bar.
It seems like the next logical step in her self-destruction. Easing onto a barstool, she orders a Blue Moon, and when the tall pint glass lands in front of her she downs half of it in a few gulps, wincing at the carbonation. She doesn’t even like beer very much, but it’s Kara’s drink of choice, and the bitterness of it is a small comfort. A reminder.
She isn’t sure how many drinks she’s had by the time her phone comes out. Everything is sort of blurred, and in the moment texting Kara seems like a great idea. A voice in the back of her head protests, tells her that she’s making it worse, but that voice is drowned out by the roar of guilt. The sadness that just seems to be exacerbated by the alcohol. She isn’t even completely sure what she says – she means to apologize, to have Kara understand how sorry she is, how fucking sorry, but her fingers are clumsy and it’s so hard to focus –
It’s becoming more and more apparent that, no matter how much sober Lena hates karaoke, drunk Lena can’t wait to get on stage. Even in her current state she knows exactly how pathetic it is that she has a complete drunken breakdown halfway through singing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ in front of a room of strangers, but she truly does not give a shit.
This is it. This is what her life has become - sinking to her knees with a mic in one hand and her drink in the other, wiping snot off her face while she sobs into the karaoke machine. It seems fitting, somehow.
She’s vaguely aware of someone lifting her up by the arms and guiding her off the stage, and the glass is prised from her hand. The removal of her drink is enough to make her take stock of her surroundings, and that’s when she realizes that the person who rescued her from the stage is, inexplicably, Sam.
“What’re – what – how did you find me?” She sniffles, rubbing at her swollen eyes. Sam is frowning, ordering a water and holding Lena’s beer glass out of reach.
“You texted me asking if you could die of sadness. There were two typos. I got worried,” Sam answers, her voice seeming far away. “And you still have Find Your Friends turned on.”
Lena’s whole face hurts. Her whole brain hurts. Sam is looking at her with clear pity and she knows that her appearance must warrant it, considering she was openly weeping in front of a bar full of strangers only 2 minutes ago.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, Sam,” Lena admits, her voice soft and broken. She can feel her face contorting with the effort to hold in another sob, and Sam’s expression softens immediately into concern. She pulls Lena into a hug, rubbing her back in soothing circles.
“Okay. It’s okay, honey. Let’s get you home.”
It’s one of the most depressing cab rides of Lena’s life, up to and including the one after the actual breakup. She wishes desperately that she was drunk enough to forget it, but Sam sobered her up with enough glasses of water before they left that she’s completely aware of every painful second. She remembers being bundled into a car like a child and spending most of the trip intermittently crying and asking Sam if she thinks Kara is going to start dating again, and she remembers the painful stumble to her own front door and Sam having to dig around in her pockets for the keys because she wasn’t dextrous enough to do it herself.
Every memory is absolutely humiliating.
She should be used to having a hangover by now, considering how many nights have turned into benders recently, but waking up with a blazing headache and a roiling stomach is still unpleasant. She rolls over with a groan, squinting into the dim light – hard rain is spattering the windows, and the usual soft crashing of waves has turned surround-sound. The weather fits her mood.
She almost jumps out of her skin when her eyes adjust to reveal Sam reclined against the headboard, Lena’s Macbook in her lap.
“Good morning, Bonnie Tyler.”
“Ugh,” Lena groans, burying her face in the comforting darkness of the nearest pillow. “God, don’t remind me.”
“I’m hoping that if I keep reminding you of how much you embarrassed yourself last night, you’ll stop using scotch as a substitute for therapy.”
Lena flinches at the honesty, curling into a ball with Sam at her back. She hugs a pillow to her chest, willing the nausea to ease. “I don’t need therapy.”
“Tell that to the girl who spent an entire 35 minute cab ride crying into my jacket,” Sam mutters, her fingers tapping away at the keys. Lena elbows her, and Sam just elbows back harder.
“I hate you.”
“There’s coffee in the kitchen.”
“…I hate you less.”
There is, indeed, fresh coffee in the kitchen and Lena pours herself a steaming mug of it, breathing in the comforting smell and taking small, stomach-friendly sips of it until she starts to feel like a human again. Sam follows a few minutes later, sliding onto a stool next to Lena and pouring herself a cup.
“Can I ask you something?” Sam asks, and Lena lays her head down on the counter with a groan.
“That depends. Do I have to look at you to answer?”
Sam doesn’t laugh, and Lena feels a knot of apprehension form in her chest at the silence. She raises her head, and Sam is looking at her more intensely than usual.
“Why did you do it?”
The knot twists.
“Why did I do what?” She says vaguely, but Sam isn’t having it.
“Why did you break up with her?”
Lena laughs nervously, clenching her hands around her coffee mug. “I wasn’t expecting a real talk when I’m still this hung over.”
Sam just looks at her, that slightly pitying look from last night making a reappearance, and Lena sighs.
“I – I panicked, I guess. I could see things getting hard, and I just…I wanted to get out while I still could. Before it hurt too much.”
She stares down into her mug as she says it, unable to meet Sam’s eyes as she finally relays her deepest thoughts. The excuse sounds flimsy even to her, but even so she’s still surprised at Sam’s reaction.
“Oh my god. Lena…you’re an idiot.”
Lena blinks, looking up from her coffee in surprise. Sam is looking at her like she has three heads, and she’s not entirely sure why. Sure, what she did was a mistake, but it wasn’t that out of left field.
“Sam…” She starts, her brow furrowed, but Sam shakes her head.
“So, you’re telling me that you were operating under the assumption that you were eventually going to break up anyways?” Sam says, and the matter-of-fact tone she says it in makes Lena feel like a high school student who asked a stupid question in class.
“You do understand what a self-fulfilling prophecy is, right?”
“That’s not –“
Sam pushes on like a steamroller, and each word rings true. Sam is right, as usual, and each reminder is a series of darts landing directly in the centre of the bullseye.
“If you went in from the beginning with no hope of it going all the way, what’s the point?” Sam finally says, her voice raised in confusion, and something in Lena that’s been pulling taut for weeks finally snaps.
“The point is, I never should have done it in the first place! I ruined everything, again!” Lena yells, feeling hot tears starting to roll down her face and not caring to stop them anymore. “It’s my fault, it’s my –“
“Lena…” Sam’s tirade ends as soon as Lena reacts, and immediately she defaults to her usual method of soothing - she grabs Lena and pulls her close. All Lena can do is sob into her shoulder, feeling like the weight of weeks of sadness is all screaming through her at once.
“I fucked it up, I fucked it all up, Sam, I never should have – and now she hates me, and I just - I miss her so much -“ Whatever she might have said next is drowned out by her entire body convulsing, the pain making it impossible to breathe. She might be hyperventilating – all she knows is that everything hurts.
“Shhh. It’s okay. It’s okay.” Sam rocks her back and forth, and it’s a testament to the strength of their friendship that she knows not to talk while Lena cries herself hoarse. She just holds her, rubbing her back and acting as a rock for Lena to bash herself against.
It seems endless. It’s like she’s upended months worth of anguish all at once, and by the time it eases off she’s surprised she has any fluid left in her body at all. But finally her tears slow into hiccups, and then deep breaths. Her chest hurts, and she’s exhausted, but she feels somehow better than she did last night. Cleaner.
Sam kisses the top of her head, and Lena sniffles, wiping her eyes with her sleeve.
“I got snot on your shirt.”
Sam chuckles, and just squeezes her tighter until Lena tucks herself into her shoulder. “I forgive you.”
They’re quiet for a moment, until Lena breaks it with a question asked in a tiny, quavering voice.
“Do you think she will?”
It’s a question she’s asked herself a hundred times, and she still doesn’t have an answer.
“Forgive you? I’m not sure, Lena,” Sam sighs, rubbing Lena’s arm. “She’s…angry. You hurt her pretty bad. But she still cares about you. Alex says that she says your name in her sleep.”
“She does?” Lena asks, her heart stuttering. “Really?”
“Yeah. But you can’t just waltz back into her life and assume you can go back to the way things were. You have some work to do if you want her forgiveness,” Sam says, her tone getting firm again. “Half-assed drunk texts and karaoke ain’t gonna cut it. This whole thing has been really hard on her.”
“I know,” Lena says quietly, but Sam shakes her head, pulling back until Lena raises her head again to meet her gaze.
“I don’t think you do. I love you, Lena, but I care about Kara too, and if you’re just going to panic again –“
“How am I supposed to know how I’m going to feel in the future?” Lena grumbles, rubbing at her face. It feels sore from all the crying, and all she wants is to get in the shower and wash off the scotch sweat and dried tears – but Sam grasps her firmly by the shoulders, shaking her slightly until she’s paying attention.
“Listen to me,” She says, and she’s as serious as Lena has ever seen her. “You seem to think that you deserve to be unhappy. But what about what Kara deserves? She should be with someone who’s proud to be her girlfriend. And she wants it to be you.”
It’s like an ice-cold slap in the face.
Lena has spent weeks – almost a month, at this point – thinking about this breakup in relation to herself. Her career, her feelings, her pain. How she deserves to be miserable. She hadn’t really thought about what Kara deserves.
And Kara deserves the best. She deserves to have everything she wants. If what Kara wants is Lena, what the fuck is she doing saying no? The last few weeks have proved that, as much as she wanted it, success certainly isn’t what she had built it up to be in her head. She was far happier with Kara, barely successful but free, than she is right now.
“Is living up to some impossible standard set by your mother really worth all of this?” Sam says with an air of finality, and Lena’s insides churn with a dawning knowledge.
“If I don’t have this…what do I have?” She whispers, and Sam doesn’t hesitate in her answer.
“You have us, dumbass.”
It’s like a mental block that’s been firmly in place for as long as she can remember has suddenly been lifted, synapses in her brain firing for the first time in her life. She doesn’t need this. She doesn’t need her mother’s approval, doesn’t need to plow through her career without stopping until she reaches some kind of preconceived end goal.
She has the band, and she has her own little community, and she has –
Well. She had Kara.
Maybe she is an idiot.
“You’re right,” Lena breathes, letting her forehead fall onto the cool marble countertop. Sam pats her shoulder consolingly.
“I’m always right.”
“I’ve been so stuck in my own head, I didn’t even - I didn’t think. How selfish can I be?”
Lena chuckles weakly, tilting until she can see Sam’s face looking down at her. “I don’t really know what else to do.”
“Well, you have to ask yourself. Are you in this?” Sam asks, completely matter-of-factly, as if the question is a simple one.
“Are you in this?” Sam repeats. She crosses her arms, looking sternly down at Lena’s pathetic form slouched on the island. “You broke it off because things got too deep and you freaked out. You were focused on yourself, and you put everything else before your relationship. Kara has every right to be cautious. Now, you know what it’s like to have what you thought you wanted. We have a record deal, and you don’t have Kara. Are you committed to this, to her, or are you still going to make her hide?”
It’s a good question.
It’s easy to say she wants to make it up to Kara, but actually doing so is another story. Is she ready for what Kara needs? She wants to be. She wants to be able to tell the world how proud she is to be Kara Danvers’ girlfriend.
The idea has always been terrifying. But as she thinks about it this time, it brings a rush that Lena wasn’t expecting. Just the idea of being with Kara again makes her head spin with dizzy joy, and being able to kiss her any time she wants – being able to hold her hand, to talk about her freely, never again seeing that carefully-hidden wounded expression that Kara gets when Lena reminds her of the rules – it makes Lena happy.
Kara makes her happy. Her smile, the way she laughs with her whole body, the comfort of her arms, how just a kiss could make Lena feel better instantly. The way she has never once made Lena feel like she’s not good enough. Even when Lena was shoving her behind a curtain.
Kara makes her feel brave.
“I love her.”
A ringing sort of silence follows the statement, and Lena feels no fear fill the vacuum. For once, she’s completely sure of her decision.
Sam looks flabbergasted.
“....what?” Sam gapes, and Lena nods, feeling like something inside her has finally clicked. It’s what she’s been afraid to admit to herself for as long as she’s known Kara, and as strange as it is that she’s saying it for the first time hungover in her kitchen with her best friend instead of to Kara’s face, it doesn’t make it any less true.
“I do,” Lena says, laughing suddenly with the unbridled joy of it. “I love her. I love her. I...I want everyone to know that.”
Sam blinks at her for a few seconds, a slow smile growing on her face until she finally punches her solidly in the shoulder.
“Well, fuck, Lena! Let’s go get her!”
It’s not as simple as that, as much as Sam’s support makes it feel easier. The first thing that Lena does, full of new confidence, is pull Mike aside at their next practice.
“What’s up, boss?” Mike says, chewing on a Red Vine and flashing the cheeky grin that Lena hates so much. It fades slightly when Lena’s frown doesn’t budge, her hands on her hips.
“This thing with Kara is going to end.”
“What thing?” Mike says, the picture of innocence, but Lena can see past it to the look he had on his face the night of the party last week, when she watched him lean into Kara’s space and slip a hand onto her waist. It made her see red then, and it makes her brave now.
“Cut the shit, Mike. You’re acting like a creep, and you have been for months. She hates it. You’re going to stop.”
“I don’t know what –“
“Look, moron,” Lena growls, stepping into his space and jabbing a finger into his sternum, “If you hit on her again, I will infiltrate every single club that you prowl to find gullible women and I will make sure that every single one of them thinks that you have gonorrhea. Do not doubt my capabilities.”
It pleases her endlessly that Mike looks absolutely terrified by that prospect.
“I –“ He starts, but Lena presses her finger harder and harder until he finally squirms away, grumbling.
“Fine, fine! Jesus, this kind of crazy is not worth the money.”
The next step is Kara. Sam agrees to help immediately, but Alex, of course, takes some convincing.
She and Alex have never been particularly…close. There had been a mutual respect before all of this happened, but it deteriorated immediately following the breakup and a month later she’s still frosty, still guarded after Lena broke her sister’s heart. It takes some doing, but finally Sam manages to persuade her to at least have a conversation.
Lena really should have known that a ‘conversation’ with an angry Alex would amount to 10 full minutes of awkward silence.
It’s a low-pressure situation, at least. Sam, Kara, and Mike are all on a coffee run before they get in the van to go play a music festival, and they leave the two of them waiting with the instruments. They end up sitting on the back bumper with the van doors open, the sounds of the city keeping the situation from being too painful.
Even so, it takes Lena a few false starts to finally get herself talking.
“Look, I get that you don’t like me very much right now,” She says finally, her chest tight with anxiety.
Alex is stubbornly silent, her fingers tapping on the carpeted van floor. It’s almost better this way, Lena reasons. Almost like she’s just talking to herself.
“I messed up,” Lena continues, and Alex’s lips purse. “I really, really messed up.”
Lena is so prepared to have this entire conversation with an unresponsive Alex that when she finally replies, Lena almost jumps out of her skin.
“Yeah, you did.”
There’s aggression in Alex’s tone, and Lena swallows against the wave of tears that wants to emerge. She can do this.
I can do this. For Kara.
“I want to fix it,” Lena says quietly, and Alex scoffs.
“I don’t know if that’s possible.”
“I know,” Lena sighs, wringing her hands. “If she never wanted to talk to me again, I’d deserve it. But I…I have to try.”
Alex is silent again.
“I don’t deserve her forgiveness. I know that. But…I love her. And if I didn’t at least try to tell her what she means to me, to give her what she deserves, I’ll never forgive myself.”
Alex stiffens, her steely gaze finally shifting from the wall to Lena’s face. Her brow is furrowed, and something tells Lena that this is a test - Alex is searching for something in her eyes, and Lena refuses to be found wanting.
Finally, Alex seems to relax. She nods tentatively, and Lena continues.
“I need to try. I want to give her what I couldn’t before. What I wouldn’t before. But you’re Kara’s sister, and her best friend. I don’t want to do anything without at least knowing you don’t hate me.”
When Alex finally speaks up, her voice is quiet.
“I can’t promise that.”
Lena’s heart sinks to the dirty pavement. She isn’t sure what she’s going to have to do to win Alex’s trust, but she’ll do it, she’ll do anything -
“You messed her up,” Alex says, interrupting Lena’s runaway thoughts, “But…she loves you too.”
Lena heart picks up speed again, hope starting to filter through. Alex keeps talking, still looking resolutely in any direction but Lena’s, but her words strike true enough that Lena wonders if she can read minds.
“And I hate seeing her sad like this. So, I can’t promise not to hate you. But I can promise that, if you actually make Kara happy, and she wants you, and you don’t fuck her over again…I can deal with having you around.”
Relief. Lena’s entire body releases what feels like a week’s worth of tension, her head dropping onto her hands, and Alex laughs.
“Jeez, Luthor, nervous much?”
Lena snorts, looking up to glare at her. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Danvers, but you’re sort of terrifying when you’re protecting your sister.”
“Huh,” Alex says, looking pleased and shrugging. “Good.”
It’s almost normal. Almost like it was before, when Lena knew that Alex had her back, no matter how annoyed she was. It makes her feel like maybe, someday, things can even out again.
For a few minutes they share the silence, looking out at the busy street at the mouth of the alley. It’s Alex that breaks the uneasy truce.
“I hope you’re planning something big. Kara loves a grand romantic gesture.”
Lena chuckles, relieved beyond measure to have Alex on board. With her, this might actually work.
“I have an idea.”
Sam’s hand is steadying on Lena’s shoulder as they wait in the wings to go on stage, and Lena is eternally grateful for it considering how fast her heart is hammering. Alex throws her a wink and a small grin as she fiddles with her drumsticks, and it feels like a blessing. Lena’s chest relaxes incrementally.
“As ready as I’ll ever be, I think,” Lena says under her breath, and Sam gives her an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Lena’s grand romantic gesture, in the end, is a song. She can still feel the swell of emotion that the acoustic song Kara wrote for her on the Legends tour evoked, and if she can create even a fraction of that, she’ll consider it a job well done. It took her a weekend locked in the studio and a lot of hair-pulling, but the final product is a testament to her feelings. It’s an apology, a lament over mistakes made, and a promise. A vow to do better.
Sam tries to reel in as many of their decent fans as possible to come see the show by promising on Instagram that they’re going to play ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, and she and Alex agree to help Lena pull it off. There’s no avoiding it now. Tonight is the night.
Her original plan was to perform it just for Kara. Alone somewhere, just the two of them, where they can have a frank conversation about their relationship and the degree to which Lena ran it into the ground. It would be difficult, but private.
But as it turns out, Kara is spectacularly good at avoiding her, and Alex refuses to contribute to a plan to lock them in a room together. Instead she suggests that Lena performs the song on stage. In front of hundreds of people and god knows how many cameras. Alex will talk to Kara after the show, gently encourage her to hear Lena out, and then Lena can say everything that she needs to say. After it’s all been laid bare.
It’s another test, Lena knows. Alex is pushing her, seeing if she’s serious about her promise to be more open, and Lena is determined to rise to the occasion no matter how much her internal organs seem to be trying to rearrange themselves in anxiety.
It’s the most nerve-wracking show of her career. More so than their first show together, more so than any show on their tour with Legends, this show makes her feel nervous. She’s laying everything on the line at the end of it, pulling her heart out of her chest and offering it in full view of what feels like the entire world, and she has zero guarantee that Kara won’t let it fall to the ground.
Thankfully, Mike seems to be listening to Lena’s threat. At least, at first. He stays in his lane, doesn’t pull any stunts, and as the songs continue and nobody is in her face, Kara loosens until she almost looks like she’s having fun again. Lena feels incrementally better about the plan the more Kara smiles, and she thinks that maybe this was all they needed all along.
They haven’t even gotten through the entire setlist when Mike pulls his most obnoxious stunt yet.
Right as one of his own songs is winding down - one where the rest of the band plays backup to his mediocre singing - Mike sets his guitar down, grabs Kara by the waist, and plants a kiss directly on her lips.
Several things happen at once.
Immediately Kara pushes him off, looking ready to explode but unable to articulate the depth of her anger. The song stops with a discordant screech as Alex, Sam, and Lena all drop their instruments and start to yell, but before any of them can even construct a sentence, Kara seems to hit her limit. She winds back a fist, and it connects with his grinning face with a sickening crack.
Mike doesn’t stand a chance. He’s standing so close to Kara that she lays him out in second, and he hits the stage hard. Lena can hear a low groan, but he stays facedown, and after a few beats of silence, the crowd seems to explode. And, confusingly, it seems to be positive. Lena can see a few rows of faces at the front that look angry or horrified, but mostly it seems to be genuine cheers.
People are happy to see Mike punched in the face. They’re happy.
But, Lena doesn’t get much of a chance to enjoy it. Kara storms off the stage immediately, punching the wall just beyond until bits of plaster fly out, and Lena leaves her guitar behind with Sam to chase her.
“Kara –“ She calls breathlessly, jogging until she reaches the green room where the she disappeared to. “Kara! Are you okay?”
Kara is pacing in frantic circles, flexing her right hand with an almost manic energy. There’s some blood on her knuckles from two consecutive punches, one being to a piece of solid drywall, and at Lena’s voice she whirls around, her eyes intense and wild.
“Am I okay? Are you kidding me?” She says loudly, and Lena braces herself for impact.
“I thought that I finally found a place where I feel like I fit, and look at it now. We’re signing with the sleaziest man alive, stupid fucking Mike is running the show, we haven’t made any new music in what feels like months, I can’t even look at you without wanting to cry -“ Now that Kara has started, she seems to be unable to stop. Her voice is high and uneven, intensely emotional, and Lena can hardly get a word in edgewise.
“I’m so s-“
“You know, I had actually convinced myself that you cared?”
“I do -“
“And then you just - you just threw me away, like I didn’t matter to you, as if I wasn’t clearly falling for you, and it was so easy!” Kara is almost yelling now, her eyes shiny, all the pain Lena put on her over the last month bursting forth like a geyser. All Lena can do is let it hit her, and accept the truth of it.
“It wasn’t -“
“I thought we were making something, here, Lena,” Kara says, in a quieter voice. “Something real. We made art together, with our songs, and it touched people, and – I thought we had this connection, and apparently I was making it all up in my head –“
“You weren’t –“ Lena tries to assure her, but Kara is on rails, and there’s no stopping her.
“And then you send me all those texts as if you miss me, and I want to just forgive you, but it still hurts –“
“Kara –“ Lena’s guilt seizes at her chest, and it’s compounded when Kara’s watery eyes start to spill over.
“And I’m still dreaming about you, every single night, as if you didn’t break my heart -“ Kara’s voice cracks at the end of the sentence, and Lena can see her spiral reaching its conclusion as she starts to heave shaky breaths. It’s not unlike how Lena felt a week ago, and Lena wants to be for Kara what Sam was for her.
“Kara!” Lena says louder, finally cutting off Kara’s increasingly frantic ramble. Kara startles, her eyes wide at Lena’s volume, and Lena takes the opportunity to grab her hands and squeeze them tightly.
“Kara, I fucked up. I know that. I am so - I’m so sorry.” Tears come to Lena’s eyes, and she swallows thickly, willing her voice not to quiver too much.
“You didn’t make anything up. I was in just as deep as you, I was just - I was terrified.”
“Of what? Didn’t you trust me?” Kara asks, and the quiet confusion in her face cuts Lena to the bone.
“Of course I did,” Lena assures her, stepping closer. “Of course. I was terrified of myself. Of how I felt about you, of how easily everyone could see it. I was so worried about my career, and what would happen when we inevitably broke up, that I couldn’t let myself be happy. But...I’m not scared anymore.”
Kara stares at her in disbelief for a moment, looking down at their joined hands and back up to Lena’s face. “And I’m supposed to just believe that?”
Okay. She deserves that one.
“You have no reason to,” Lena acknowledges, needing all her strength to meet Kara’s eyes as she says it. “All I can do is…is tell you how I feel, and that I’m sorry, and that I won’t make this mistake again.”
“Lena…” Kara shakes her head, looking conflicted. “I don’t…I don’t understand. What do you want? You tell me we have to be discreet, and then you break up with me because we’re not discreet enough, and now all of a sudden you say you’re not scared? What do you want from me, here?”
“I don’t want anything from you. I just want…you.”
Kara scoffs in disbelief, her hands pulling taut as she goes to step away, but Lena holds on. “Look, Kara, I know that I didn’t handle –“
She huffs, frustrated with her own inarticulate rambling. You planned this, Lena. Get it together.
“Okay,” She starts again, taking a deep breath. “All my life, I thought I knew what I wanted. I wanted to make it. I pushed for it, so hard, because I thought it would make me complete somehow. That it would fill that part of me that’s always felt...not enough. But I was wrong. What made me feel that way was you.”
Kara looks doubtful, but she seems rooted to the spot, absorbing every word.
“It was us, as a band, making the music I wanted to make and not what I thought I should. It was us making this little community and putting our flag in it. It was...you, making me feel like I didn’t need anything else. I just...didn’t realize it in time,” Lena finishes, gesturing helplessly.
Kara looks torn. “How am I supposed to trust you?”
“You don’t have to trust me,” Lena says, shrugging. “I know I haven’t earned it. You don’t have to do anything. But…I love you, Kara.”
Kara, still reeling from Lena’s revelations, does a proper double-take at the tail end of that sentence. Her mouth hangs open, and she blinks slowly.
“Come again?” She whispers, and Lena smiles tightly.
“It’s true,” Lena confirms quietly. It bolsters her slightly when she feels Kara’s fingers squeezing her own, just the tiniest bit. A whisper of validation. “And this isn’t some Hail Mary pass. I’m not trying to get you to forgive me. I’m just saying what I’ve needed to say for 6 months, but I was too scared. I love you.”
Kara just stares at her, her expression surprised and devastatingly open. Lena had planned this conversation out – had planned confessing her feelings in a structured way, had planned to do the song first. But right now, looking Kara Danvers in the eyes, all of that goes out the window and without regret she opens up the doors to her heart.
“I love what you bring out in me, in all of us. I’ve never liked myself more than when I was seeing myself through you. I love how easily you can pick up my shitty excuse for a song and make it into art. I love...how you stop at nothing to help, even when I don’t deserve it.”
“You do deserve it,” Kara says, almost reflexively, and Lena smiles pointedly.
“See, even now, you’re still trying to make me feel better.”
Kara chuckles at that, conceding the point, and Lena’s heart lightens at the sound. It makes everything so much easier to say.
“You loved me so brightly, Kara…and I was so afraid of who might see it that I buried us both. But I do love you. And you deserve to hear it. It was always serious, to me. It still is. I was wrong.”
It feels like a systematic purge of every bit of poison she’s trapped inside herself over the last year. Every thought, every fear is laid out in front of Kara, and it’s like the most visceral exhale she’s ever felt.
“Yeah, you were,” Kara says, her brow furrowed. Her gaze is distant, like she’s thinking hard about everything she’s taken in, and the cleansing feeling starts to fade a little.
The silence stretches out, each agonizing second dragging on, until Lena accepts it. She tried. She put herself out there, and it wasn’t enough. She wasn’t enough.
Lena nods, wringing her hands.
“Right. So. That’s said. I should…go.” She turns on her heel, fully intending to find the nearest private room and have a good cry, but Kara catches her arm.
She has no idea what to do with these mixed signals.
“Kara?” Lena asks tentatively, and for a moment it seems like Kara doesn’t know what to say – she just keeps her gentle grip, and bites at her lip with a frown. Finally, she exhales deeply, seeming to decide something.
“Why didn’t you just tell me, Lena? Why did you hide all of this?” She asks, and Lena shrugs self-deprecatingly.
“It’s what I’ve always done. I didn’t know any different.”
Kara nods. She steps closer, until they’re almost sharing air – it’s closer than Lena has been to Kara in far too long, and she drinks in the proximity like a woman parched. It makes her feel dizzy.
“Well, if we’re going to do this, you’re going to have to learn,” Kara says, and a real smile starts to grow as she looks down at Lena’s dreamy expression.
“If we’re going to do this?” Lena asks absently, still focused on how close Kara’s lips are hovering to her own, on how she can smell Kara’s shampoo and it brings back a wave of happy memories.
“Yeah,” Kara answers, reaching up to tuck Lena’s hair behind her ear. Lena’s eyes almost drift closed at the relief her touch brings. “I’m still mad at you, you know. And we have a lot more to talk about. But...I can understand where you were coming from. Even if it was really, really stupid.” Her hand slides down Lena’s cheek, coming to rest comfortingly in the middle of her chest.
Lena nods, hope against hope blooming inside her. She entwines Kara’s hand with her own, holding it to her chest and kissing each bruised knuckle.
“I won’t try to hide you again, Kara. I promise. I’ll go out there right now and tell the crowd. I’ll tell the whole world. A fucking press conference, whatever you want,” Lena says earnestly, the happy balloon of hope expanding as Kara chuckles lightly, shaking her head.
“It sounds like you’ve been thinking about this for a while.”
“I have. You would have heard it in music form, had Mike not tried to swallow your tonsils,” Lena says grumpily, and Kara laughs, looking incredulous.
“I had a whole thing planned!” Lena insists, reveling in Kara’s laughter. It washes over her like a balm, closing every wound in her heart. “I was going to perform the song I wrote for you. Sam and Alex were helping me.”
Kara giggles, her eyes wet, and leans their foreheads together. “You wrote me a song? The whole thing, even the melodies?”
“Yeah. Turns out I can do it if I have the right inspiration,” Lena whispers. They’re so close now, their breaths in sync, their lips centimetres away from each other.
“I fully expect you to still sing it after.” Kara is talking right against Lena’s mouth, and Lena hardly has the strength to answer.
And then Kara’s lips are on hers. It’s deep and heartfelt and achingly familiar, and Lena melts into it completely.
Kara pushes until they slam into the wall, and Lena fumbles at the handle of the nearest door until it finally opens and they spill inside, sealing them in semi-darkness. The glow of a few monitors and the power buttons of various pieces of equipment is enough to light up Kara’s face, until she pulls them together again in a kiss that’s almost frantic.
“Fuck, I missed you so much –“ Kara breathes against her lips, her voice cracking on the words like she’s holding herself back, and Lena’s chest breaks open.
“I missed you too, I’m so sorry –“ She whimpers, and Kara’s lips muffle the words but she knows they’re still heard. “I love you so much –“
Kara’s laugh sounds almost like a sob.
“I love you, too.“
Kara is pressed to her, hot and eager, and Lena could cry at how good it feels. How perfect, how right. And, she realizes as she tastes salt on Kara’s lips, Kara must feel the same way.
“You’re crying –“ She gasps, her breath hitching as Kara slips a hand under her shirt and pulls her bra out of the way. Calloused thumbs brush her nipples, and the answering throb in her clit threatens to drown out all other input.
“Good tears,” Kara insists, and Lena can feel the confirmation in how she smiles into the kiss, their teeth clacking together with it. “Happy tears.”
Kara’s lips trail down her neck, biting down just like they always have, and Lena loses the fight to keep her own tears at bay. They leak down her temples as she throws her head back, Kara’s thigh grinding and her hands winding Lena tighter by the second.
As aware as she is of how little time they have before their absence is noted, she can’t bring herself to hurry this. It’s catharsis in every sense of the word, and she clings to Kara as she’s swept away by it.
Their hands move almost in sync, shoving aside zippers and layers of clothes until they almost simultaneously hit wet heat, sighing into each other’s mouths. She wants desperately to be closer, to tear away all the barriers between them until they’re pressed skin-to-skin, but for now it’s almost enough to feel Kara’s long fingers stretch her three knuckles deep. Her own hand can only reach Kara’s clit, but it’s slick and swollen and Kara jerks like a marionette when she presses down.
Kara is muttering something as she kisses every bit of exposed skin she can find, and Lena has to put significant effort into tuning out her own body to listen to it. It’s a whisper, barely audible over the noise from the stage and the wet sounds of their fingers moving. But she can hear it.
“I love you, I love you, I love you –“
Lena’s entire body reacts to it as if Kara has found the very core of her. Like her very being can be concentrated down to a single word -
It’s fucking rapturous, finally having Kara this close again, finally having her inside, finally feeling Kara hot on her fingers and hearing her whimpering as Lena tightens like a vice. She’s close, she’s so fucking close, and she knows they need to hurry but she doesn’t want this to ever end.
Suddenly desperate, Lena fumbles until one of her arms is free and she can finally reach shaking hands into Kara’s hair. She doesn’t notice when her elbow hits something solid, and her own heartbeat is roaring so loud in her ears that she doesn’t hear the telltale buzz of auditory equipment.
“Kara,” She gasps, tugging at blonde curls. “Kara, look at me, I want to – I want to see you when I come –“
Kara’s head snaps up immediately, and Lena is lost in blue eyes. The spring inside her coils tighter, and she starts to arch into the pressure of Kara’s thumb as the edge approaches at breakneck speed –
“Kara –“ She chokes, her hand moving down to clench in Kara’s collar. She needs to ground herself – she feels like she’s going to float away the second she comes, float into the atmosphere and wake up in agony to find that this was just another dream. “Please –“
“I’m right here, Lena.”
And she is. Kara is solid and reassuring, a rock in the middle of the tempestuous ocean that Lena has been drowning in, and with her encouragement Lena lets go. She peaks with a broken cry, and it sounds almost unnaturally loud but she doesn’t care, can’t care about anything outside of this bubble.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck –“ Lena chants desperately, her voice high and loud. Kara’s groan is muffled by Lena’s neck but it’s audible, and Lena can feel her clit twitching as she works both of them through it, every jolt and shiver prolonging what feels like the most satisfying orgasm of her life. It’s blissful, and private – a moment of healing, just for them.
They’re jarred out of it violently by three loud bangs on the door, and Sam’s voice clear on the other side.
“Okay, yeah, hi, I just thought you guys might want to know that you’re currently in the AV closet? With all the microphones? Which are hooked up to the sound system?”
Mortification rolls through Lena like a soundwave, and she buries her face in Kara’s neck, groaning.
Kara stiffens underneath her. The clear distress seems to calm whatever shame Lena’s brain tried to produce, and she moves immediately to soothe.
“Hey,” She says quietly, holding Kara’s face gently until their eyes meet. “I’m not ashamed of you, okay? I’m not. I’m just a little embarrassed that we apparently just came in surround sound.”
Kara snorts, her fear melting with the ease that Lena’s broadcasting, and the smile is almost enough to curb any further embarrassment when Sam knocks again.
“Still hooked up, guys! Still very loud!”
After a few moments of hurried re-dressing, interrupted by occasional euphoric kisses, Sam finally rips the door open and drags them out, shaking her head all the way.
“It’s going to take hours to make Alex forget that trauma, so thank you for that,” Sam complains as she guides them back towards the stage, but she’s grinning ear to ear, and she gives Lena’s shoulder a hard squeeze before she pushes both of them out of the wings.
They’re greeted by a cacophonous wall of sound.
People in the crowd are screaming themselves hoarse, reaching out, radiating happiness and validation and love, and Mike is nowhere to be seen. It feels like a thousand phones are pointed at them, ready to show the world. And it’s clear exactly what they’ve been doing – it was broadcast through the venue, for god’s sake, not to mention that Kara’s hair is mussed and she has several scarlet lipstick marks on her neck - but Lena doesn’t feel afraid at all.
She grabs the acoustic guitar waiting for her behind Alex’s drum kit, and just like they planned, Sam pulls out a stool and pushes Kara onto it and Alex gestures for a lighting change. The house lights dim, and Lena clears her throat nervously into the mic.
“So, I planned to do this at the end of the show, until that…interruption. But I think I’m going to do it now, if that’s okay?”
The crowd roars again, a thousand phones lit up and pointed her way, and Kara blushes prettily. Lena strums the chords, recalling the song that came to her more easily than any before.
“Kara,” She says clearly, turning her body so she’s partially facing the crowd and partially facing her love, “This is for you. It can probably explain how I feel better than I can.”
Kara lasts about two verses before she starts to tear up. She watches raptly as Lena pours her heart out, as it’s recorded for posterity, and Lena has barely finished the last note before Kara is striding across the stage, pulling the guitar from her grip, and dipping her into a kiss.
Lena’s ears feel fuzzy. There’s a ringing in the distance, and somewhere in her brain she knows that the audience is screaming again, but it seems so far away. It’s inconsequential. From now on, it’s just Kara.
They end up doing three encores because the crowd won’t stop screaming for them to come back. When they finally run out of songs, Kara and Lena break out the acoustic again and play their duet from the tour - and this time, Lena gives in to her impulse. She leans in for a kiss to finish it off, and Kara laughs into it when the crowd goes off like a bomb.
She feels giddy with this new openness, delirious with the rush of being with Kara again. And Kara seems to be feeling the same – even when they rush backstage, Sam jumping high and hitting the doorframe in elation in a way that reminds Lena of their first show together, Kara refuses to leave her side. It’s like she needs to be touching at all times – an arm over the shoulder, their hips bumping. Like she’s afraid that if she lets go, it won’t be real.
Lena kisses her again, and again. On her mouth, her cheeks, on each of her knuckles. Each one a promise.
It’s a nice moment, until Mike comes storming over with a steadily reddish-purple bruise forming on his face.
“What the fuck, Kara?” He explodes, his body rigid with anger, and Alex immediately steps in as interference before he can get too close to her sister.
“You’re gonna want to back up,” She says in a low, dangerous voice, and Mike takes a half-step back, clearly trying not to look as intimidated as he feels.
“Did you need something?” Kara asks coolly, and Lena is happy to note that she relaxes considerably once she slides a comforting hand over her lower back.
“Yeah, I need you to tell me why you punched me in the face!” Mike’s nose has clearly been bleeding, and it looks the slightest bit crooked.
It floods Lena with a vindictive sort of pride.
“You kissed me,” Kara says slowly. “Without my consent.” The ‘duh’ is implied, but they all get the gist of it.
“It was for the stage!” Mike protests, and it’s almost comical the way 4 sets of eyes meet in absolute silent exasperation.
“Still not cool, Mike,” Sam drawls, leaning an elbow on Alex’s stiff shoulder. “In fact, that sort of makes it worse.”
“Look, Lord paid me to make it look good, and it’s fucked up that I just do my job and you sock me in the nose -“
A cold hand plunges into Lena’s chest. Lord paid me to look good. Lord paid me.
She should have known.
“What did you just say?” Lena asks, her voice quiet and deadly. Mike huffs, seeming unsatisfied with the way the conversation is going. He isn’t getting his way, and the longer they refuse to entertain him, the more petulant he gets.
“Lord paid you?” Lena clarifies, and everything clicks into place when he answers vaguely.
“Yeah, him and some lady. Pretty decent money, too.”
Kara and Alex look a bit confused, but Sam’s eyes are knowing when Lena meets them over Mike’s head. It makes sense, all of a sudden, this whole fucked up situation.
Lena turns to Mike, and asks him the most important question in a tone that brokers no argument.
“What did she look like.”
Lillian. Of course it was Lillian. Her fingerprints are all over this, pulling strings and manipulating Lena’s life until it falls apart and she crawls back to her adopted mother.
She wants to yell. She wants to call Lillian right now, to figure out what uptown loft she’s living in and knock her door down and scream at her for how she’s tried to rip Lena’s life down to the studs. But Kara pulls her back.
“We’ll go tomorrow,” She assures as Mike storms away to call Lord, and Alex and Sam nod along with her. “We’ll all go together, and we’ll call her out, as a team. And then we’ll be done with her.”
Done with Lillian. It sounds too good to be true, but Kara gives her hope.
That hope kindles into something more tangible as they get ready to leave. Kara is in the hallway talking to the venue manager about playing there again without the representation of Lord Entertainment, and Lena is decompressing with Sam about the whirlwind that this night turned into, when Kara comes running back into the room, her eyes wide with something that looks like panic.
“Oh my god,” She hisses, her hands flapping uncharacteristically. “Oh my god, Cat Grant is in the hallway. That’s Cat Grant. Why is Cat Grant here –“
“…wait, what?” Lena stutters, still trying to process exactly what Kara is saying. By the time she’s realizing that, somehow, the CEO of CatCo Records is somewhere in this bar with them, she’s already in the room.
“Cat Grant is here,” A clear voice rings out from behind Kara, “Because you four put on a hell of a show.”
Catherine Grant is somehow everything and nothing like what Lena was expecting. She’s tiny, first and foremost – surprisingly petite and shorter than Lena, even in heels. Kara and Sam tower over her almost cartoonishly. But somehow her presence is bigger than her body – the room quiets the moment she opens her mouth, and Kara gazes at her almost starstruck.
“It’s good that you know who I am – I hate introductions,” Cat says, and Kara laughs nervously. “And I’ve done my research on you. You come highly recommended.”
“We do?” Sam asks, and Cat raises a single eyebrow in response.
“I paid for your tour bus, remember. Miss Lance and Miss Sharpe raved for days after your little road trip. Insisted that I give you a call. But, lo and behold, I wait a week and you’ve already been snatched up.”
“You were going to sign us?” Kara says, her voice so quiet that Lena is surprised Cat can even hear it.
“Whoever said were? I have no intention of giving up an oppourtunity like this to a bottomfeeder like Maxwell Lord,” Cat says decisively.
Is this actually happening?
“But…we signed a contract,” Lena says out loud, fully aware of the weight of her bad decision sitting on all of their shoulders. “Six months, at least. We’re barely halfway through it.”
Cat doesn’t seem fazed at all. She pulls a handful of paperwork from her handbag, rifling through it idly.
“Maxwell swoops in like a vulture, but his contracts are shoddy at best. He includes all sorts of conditions, but he forgets to cover the basics. What you signed is not binding.”
Alex laughs in disbelief, and Lena gapes at Cat like a fish. She looked over the contract herself, and while she isn’t a lawyer, it had seemed pretty sound.
“How is that possible?”
“It’s a placeholder contract,” Cat replies, as if she’s explaining the concept to a toddler. “One meant to scare you into submission, seal you in until he can manage to throw one together that allows him to fully own everything you produce. And he withheld pages from you, which is blatantly illegal.”
“He what?” Lena says, and Cat hands her a few pages she’s never seen before. Pages scattered with her mother’s signature.
“I assume that name is familiar, Miss Luthor,” Cat says knowingly, and Lena nods silently, anger burning in her gut. When she tries to hand them back, Cat just waves her off, and instead Lena slips them carefully into her purse.
“So…” Alex says, grinning with delight, “What you’re saying is, we can break it?”
“You can,” Cat confirms, and she can’t quite hide the pleased look on her face when Alex and Sam whoop and high five. “He can try to take us to court, but he’ll lose, and waste his already-dwindling money.”
“And…what about Mike?” Kara asks tentatively. To everyone’s relief, Cat scoffs, waving a disinterested hand.
“Lord is a bureaucrat who makes soulless music for profit, and his bland self-insert boytoy reflects that. I have no interest in the mediocre.”
It feels too good to be true, but Cat is as firm as she is terrifying. After giving them a time to come to CatCo next week to look over a new contract with some lawyers she disappears as suddenly as she came, and Lena wonders if this is what happens when you just let things be. When you’re not living in fear, or constantly scrabbling for success in any form. It’s as if, in a single night, all of her problems have been resolved.
All but one.
Standing outside of LuthorCorp in the light of day, the building seems like an obstacle. The final thing standing between Lena and a life without the spectre of her mother looking down on her every decision, where she can finally and unapologetically be herself. She knows that she’s probably cutting off the circulation to Kara’s hand with the tightness of her grip, but it’s the only thing anchoring her to the ground right now.
“Ready?” Sam says quietly, and Alex shoots her a genuine smile. Kara squeezes her hand. The four of them make a wall, a tiny army ready to defend. It feels good. It feels safe, for once.
When they step into Lillian’s office, Lena is gratified to see surprise flit across her mother’s features before they’re schooled into their usual cool indifference.
“Lena. To what do I owe the visit?” She says, and her voice barely strikes half the terror in Lena that it used to.
Taking a deep breath, she throws the paperwork that Cat gave her onto Lillian’s desk. Lillian lifts the first page with her pen, reading it with a raised brow - after a moment her face shifts to annoyance, and then something darker, her lips pursing.
“I see Catherine Grant got her claws in you, how very pedestrian.”
“I know what you did, mother,” Lena says lowly. Alex shifts into a defensive stance, her arms crossed, and even if Lena knows that this won’t turn physical, the sight of it is actually reassuring.
“Whatever it is you think I did, it was because I want you to succeed,” Lillian says calmly.
Kara’s hand squeezes hers again, and Lena feels brave.
“How hard did you have to work to convince Lord to sign us?” Lena asks, keeping her voice as even as Lillian’s. “How much money did you give to Mike? And all to, what? Control me better?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Lena scoffs. It’s exactly what she was expecting, even if she hoped for better. “We’re signing with Catco. Your little deal is done. You can try to pull those strings as much as you want, mother – they’re not attached anymore. I’m done trying to make you happy.”
Lillian laughs, and it grates on Lena’s nerves. “That sounds awfully familiar, Lena, and yet here we are. In time, you’ll come to realize that I know what’s best for you. As always.”
This is the point where, usually, Lena would cave. She’d leave, let Lillian win, only to be haunted by the conversation later. But not this time.
“I don’t think so,” Sam says, putting an arm on Lena’s shoulder. “You’re done.”
Lillian stares silently, trying her final technique – but Lena holds her gaze. She won’t look away, won’t duck her head and give in. Not now, and not ever again.
“I can’t wait until you have to watch her succeed without you,” Kara says quietly, smugly, and the rush that Lena gets from Kara’s faith in her is better than any small satisfaction she’s ever gained from trying to impress her family.
They walk out of LuthorCorp as a unit – Kara holding Lena’s hand, Sam with one arm around Lena’s shoulders and the other around Alex’s. Lena looks up at the skyscraper with her family name on it, the building that very well could have been her prison had she caved to her mother’s wishes all those years ago. Could still have been, if it weren’t for Sam and Alex and Kara pulling her out. Her own little family.
Kara kisses her cheek. “Hey – who wants to do karaoke to celebrate?”
Lena laughs, feeling exhilarated. It’s like a thousand-ton weight has been lifted from her shoulders, and she’s so full of boundless energy at the sheer potential her life now holds that she feels like she might float away like a balloon if Kara wasn’t tugging on her arm.
“Yeah. Karaoke sounds good.”
Alex flags a cab, and Kara pulls her close as it rolls up to the curb, wrapping her in a tight hug.
“I’m really proud of you,” Kara whispers into her hair, and Lena squeezes tighter, her throat feeling a little tight all of a sudden.
“Hey, lovebirds! The meter’s running!” Alex yells from the passenger window, and Lena rolls her eyes, clambering into the back seat beside Kara. As the car zooms into traffic, away from Luthor Corp and towards the future, Lena leans into Kara’s warmth. Kara puts an arm around her and kisses her temple, and when Sam captures it on camera and posts it to social media with the announcement of Mike officially leaving the band, Lena doesn’t care one bit.
Whew. It's done! Thanks everyone for coming along on this ride with me - took me a year to finish it, but I DID IT!
I hope the ending makes up for all the pain I put y'all through in the last chapter. Our gays are living happily ever after!