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Lena

August 12, 2013 — Budapest, Hungary

 

Sweat beaded down the side of your forehead as you stared into the arena. It was huge and vacuous. You could see the darkened faces of the crowd staring back at you but the glaring stadium light prevented you from truly seeing those faces. It was mildly unnerving knowing that hundreds of people were here to witness you yet at the same time, you were thankful you couldn’t see their eyes watching your every move. You didn’t need that kind of pressure.

After all, this was a mental game.

The slightest distraction could throw you off.

As you kept walking into the Syma Sport and Events Centre, all you could see was the Piste illuminated by the glaring stadium light. Fascinating how they tried to replicate the mood from last year’s London Olympics. Admittedly watching the stadium light up in all kinds of colors made it easier for the average viewer to follow. You didn’t blame them for having such an ostentatious setup. Sabre fencing was the hardest of three forms to follow for the uninitiated.

As you made your way towards the bench near the Piste, you found your personal coach waving at you. You walked towards him but not before looking towards your opponent’s side of the strip.

You immediately found her warming up, doing some practice lunges and just getting herself psyched up. Her golden hair was tied into a loose ponytail and her eyes were focused. She was young and gorgeous. She was twenty-one if you recalled correctly and this was her first World Championship.

You had watched vids of her bouts before but this was the first time you would cross swords with her.

Kara Danvers was a wild card. She came out of nowhere last year, dominating competitions all around the North and South America like it was nothing. The only reason why you never fought her before was because you were too busy prepping for the Olympics. She on the other hand was more than content to test her skills first, plus as the rookie she failed to qualify for the Olympics. Not because she lacked skill, but she simply failed to compete in the prerequisite competitions.

All you knew about her was that she was young, fast, and extremely unpredictable.

Still, you would humble her. The girl hadn’t had the privilege of facing you yet.

Fencing was one of those sports where age rarely slowed you down. It was a mind game. It wasn’t the faster Sabreur or the stronger Sabreur that won bouts, it was the smarter one. You were ranked number one in the world and it wasn’t just because your lunges were explosive and you made attacks faster than your opponent could blink.

More often than not, you were number one because you were ten steps ahead of your opponent.

Kara Danvers was a talented rookie but she had yet to gain the awareness and the experience needed to best you. Still, the fact that she made it here to the finals was an admirable feat. To think she bested one of your French rivals and managed to outmaneuver one of the Italians known for her impenetrable defense was astounding to say the least.

Unfortunately for her, this was where you’d put an end to that.

As you started to look away from her, you watched Kara Danvers turn to look at you.

Something struck you in that moment.

Her striking blue eyes pierced right through you and you felt your gut churn. A shiver crawled up your spine and for the first time, your hands shook ever so slightly. The wind had literally been knocked out of you. You were scarcely nervous before a bout because you were confident in your training, in your body, and in your strategy.

But in this moment…? This was closest you had ever been to being afraid. You hadn’t felt this in a very long time. Those weren’t the eyes of a green, wet behind the ears, rookie. Those were the eyes of a veteran fencer.

You knew that to be true because you stared at those very eyes every time you looked into the mirror.

You felt your whole body pulsate with adrenaline. You didn’t know why but the prospect of fighting against someone like her excited you. It emboldened you. It would be an absolute pleasure to crush her like you did with every other opponent you faced.

You were undefeated after all.

Kara Danvers would soon know what that meant.

Finally you approached your coach, it was only then that you felt Kara’s gaze look away from you. It had been a while since you sensed such competency from an opponent. She wasn’t that much younger than you, you were only twenty-six after all. Still in your prime. However, you couldn’t seem to quiet the excitement that had been coursing through your veins. It was a foreign yet familiar feeling altogether.

John Corben glanced down at you with his trademark scowl and his Team USA jacket that he never seemed to take off. Ever since the first time you qualified for the Olympic team, he never took the damn jacket off. Made you wonder if he kept washing it over and over again, or if he simply had five of it lined up in his closet.

“Staring contest with the rookie huh, Luthor? I get that she’s beautiful but please rein it in.”

“I wasn’t staring.” You shot back even though he was right. Kara Danvers was definitely a striking woman. She wore her gear like nobody’s business.

Corben rolled his eyes as his scowl grew deeper. If you didn’t know any better, you’d tell him that all that scowling was going to make his face sag like a walrus minus the lovable part. “I wouldn’t play mind games with that rookie if I were you. She’s not gonna budge. I’ve been keeping a close eye on her and she has an unhealthy amount of focus. Can’t shake her.”

“Well I’m not scared of some blonde sorority girl.” You replied with a grin.

Corben shook his head. “Normally I’d allow you to stay cocky but this time, I would highly suggest you keep that in check. That Danvers kid is... dangerous.”

“Why?”

Corben finally looked you in the eye and he was dead serious. “That Kara Danvers moves a little too much like you. She wasn’t under my radar until she crushed Élisa Micheaux. You and I both know that despite your many talents, Micheaux’s given you a hard time in the past.”

You sat down on the bench and put on your glove. Your name was haphazardly scrawled over the white part on the back of glove. You’ve always meant to mark it with something more meaningful but you kept forgetting to do so.

Next glove, you promised yourself half-heartedly.

“If she didn’t give me a hard time, she wouldn’t have been ranked two.”

“Well the fencer who was ranked two in the world, and the closest thing you have to a rival, was knocked out of the park by this rookie. Be careful, Lena. You have to outsmart her or you might just lose.”

A sudden outburst from the crowd stole your attention. At the Piste on the other side of the Arena, the match there had come to a conclusion. Your old French rival Élisa Micheaux had just bested the Romanian Ylena Cosovei for the bronze medal. It was only right that she won, it would have been a damn shame if Micheaux failed to redeem herself after losing to your fellow American.

Admittedly, having two Americans face off at the FIE world championships was almost unheard of. There were powerhouse countries like France or Italy who seemed to send powerful fencers by the dozen and while America traditionally excelled, it was rare to see its fencers so situated at the upper echelons of fencing.

Glancing at the electronic scoreboard hanging above the stadium, you smiled. The score was 15-8, Micheaux crushed the Romanian well. You considered going out for some celebratory drinks with her once this was all over. You and Élisa had mostly been friendly rivals and you both never had cause to dislike each other. in fact, one might say you liked each other a little too much.

“It’s time. The referee’s calling for both of you. Go get hooked up.” Corben said grimly.

He was always such a serious guy. You’d once contemplated about whether he smiled or not. He’d been training you for a very long time now, one would think that he might have sent you a smile by now. “Any last minute advice, coach?”

Corben kept looking over at Kara Danvers. “Don’t underestimate her.”

Wow, very helpful.

Shaking your head, you grabbed your mask and your Sabre. Your hair was already tied into a low tight bun, it would sit just below the garter of your mask and a little above the collar of your white jacket. As you approached the center where the referee was, you would finally come face to face with Kara Danvers herself.

As you both got hooked up to the wireless system, you couldn’t help but keep your eyes planted firmly onto the rookie. There was this air around her that told you she wasn’t like other fencers. True enough, you sensed something familiar from her. It was in her bearing and the way that she carried herself that told you she was unlike anyone you’d ever faced before.

Once hooked up to the machine, you both tested the blades and the Lamés. Upon confirming that the machines worked and your equipment lit up accordingly, you both approached the Piste.

“Ladies and Gentleman, the finals match between Lena Luthor from USA and Kara Danvers also from USA will now commence.” The booming voice of the announcer echoed in the arena. First in Hungarian, then in accented English.

You and Kara stood in the center and gave the audience a proper salute upon being introduced. Your body suddenly felt so restless, this whole ceremony just added to your growing sense of dread. You could feel your heart caught in your throat and you knew your palms were sweating. Or at least, there was that familiar coldness inside your glove. It was amazing how the first bout had yet to begin but your body was already in a state of fight or flight.

It happened far too quickly. Before you knew it, both of you were finally staring each other down on the strip. The whole arena grew achingly quiet and all you could hear was the sound of your own heart pounding away in your ears.

Almost simultaneously, you both assumed the en-garde position.

“En-garde, pret, allez!”

The moment you heard both machines light up and make a sound, it was going to be Simultané. A simultaneous attack in which neither point was to be awarded. What surprised you was her speed. Kara Danvers matched you there, her lunge had that explosive quality not all veteran Sabreurs had.

This went on for a few more bouts. You were testing her to see how far and how fast her lunges could go. Normally fencers that young would get impatient and try something different by now. True enough the next bout, she took the offensive. You foresaw her attack and parry-riposted her faster than she could react. She seemed to take this in stride with none of that frustration you expected her to have. You scored the touch but she didn’t seem too surprised about it.

For a while, it seemed like you had the upper hand as you scored more touches than she did. The score was sitting somewhere around 5-9. She wasn’t terribly far from you and the short break you both just had did nothing to calm your nerves. What thoroughly unnerved you was how the speed of her parries was starting to mirror your own. Rather, as time passed, it was like she finally had your timing and rhythm down. During some of the more intense bouts, you could’ve sworn that seeing her come at you was like having your own reflection come out from the mirror.

Corben’s words echoed in your ears.

Gritting your teeth, you called for a quick timeout. The referee allowed you because you noticed your wireless piece fell off your back and the last touch Kara made didn’t register. She’d still get the point but fair was fair.

While you waited to get hooked up again, it allowed you a momentary reprieve. You found yourself unexpectedly drained. How could this rookie wear you out so fast?

You watched her remove her mask and try to wipe some sweat off her forehead. Her golden hair was damp, her cheeks were flushed, but her blue eyes remained so clear and lucid. She was still raring to go and she still had that intense level of focus. You couldn’t believe it, this damn rookie was actually wearing you down.

You, Lena Luthor.

You’d faced opponents bigger, faster, and stronger than her.

What made her so different?

Once the technician gave you the okay, with your mask resting on top of your head, you and Kara extended your Sabres and allowed the tips to touch both your Lamés before lightly touching your masks. The equipment was working as intended. It was time to return to the strip.

The first bout after that, you managed to surprise her with a Flunge or a Flying Lunge. It wasn’t usually in your repertoire of attacks but the element of surprise guaranteed you a point. You knew there were fencers who could Flunge better than you but you did it well enough. You thought that maybe the unexpected would shake her but instead, when she lifted her mask to wipe more sweat off her brow, you saw the first flash of something else.

This whole time her face was neutral and focused.

Now she was smiling. Confident. As if she were enjoying this.

You didn’t know why but that stupid grin was seriously starting to piss you off.

As soon as you heard the Allez, your opponent had scored a touch. She moved demonically fast. It was crazy lunge. You knew there was this male Korean Sabreur with a similar lunge but you didn’t expect her to do it too. You thought you were able to dodge it with your body, hell she barely touched you but you parried poorly.

Okay, now you were officially pissed off.

You thought you had it under control but all you kept hearing was the sound of the machine going off, again and again. It was telling everyone that the point was Kara Danvers’ and not yours.

You faintly heard the sound of Corben telling you to calm down. Coaches weren’t really allowed to coach during bouts yelling encouragement was a loophole. You wanted to calm down but every time you saw those piercing blue eyes, you couldn’t help but see red. Something about this rookie pushed all your buttons.

Maybe it was because it felt like crossing swords with yourself.

Everything rested on this final bout. With a score of 14-14, the whole arena was quiet. Someone could drop a pin and you would hear it. The tension was so thick you couldn’t breathe. Your sweat was practically dripping through the mask and your vision was slowly turning hazy due to the exhaustion and heat. Damn.

Before you had this one last shot at redemption, the sound of the machine rang out.

You had hoped it was your point but deep down you knew the truth. This last bout happened so fast. Kara was on the aggressive, you dodged her first and got the right of way to attack. Finally you’d been steadily advancing and your lunge was explosive and lightning-quick. Too bad she leapt into the air into this spectacular maneuver where she parried you midair and riposted you on your mask. It felt like the ultimate fuck you.

She could have chosen to hit you on your arm, or your shoulder, or your chest. No, she hit you on the head.

You sincerely hoped she had crossed her legs when she jumped. That would have made the hit illegal but unfortunately, her footwork was too solid. It was a beautiful parry.

The worst part was that the magnificent parry she made reminded you a lot of your winning bout at the London Olympics last year.

The arena was far too quiet. As if everyone was in awe of what had just happened. The undefeated Lena Luthor was brought down by the young talented upstart from the countryside. As far as the world was concerned, Kara Danvers was an unknown fencer.

You dropped your Sabre and it sort of just dangled around your arm, you forgot that your blade was still hooked up to you. You could scarcely fathom what was happening. Even when the whole arena burst into applause, you couldn’t hear anything but this ringing sound in your ears.

It happened in slow motion, the moment Kara took of her mask with the brightest smile on her face. She was glowing and she looked so youthful. Kara was basking in this untapped potential. In her first world competition alone, she had defeated the undefeated.

Absentmindedly, you removed your mask, picked up your Sabre and shook her hand. As was customary, it was important to let everyone know you weren’t a sore loser lest you get penalized for poor sportsmanship. It wouldn’t have been good for your reputation if you blatantly showed your disdain for this rookie.

This damn rookie that just knocked you out of the top spot. Her first time fencing in the World Championship and she barreled all the way to top one.

Hell, not even you fared that high on your first World Championship. You at least got rank four and that was after winning Pan American competitions and participating in the various Grand Prix competitions for years.

Wordlessly you walked off the strip and tried to get away from all of that noise. It had become too overwhelming. You couldn’t hear anything, you couldn’t see anything, you couldn’t even breathe and it was partially because your breastplate was digging into you. You thought you’d feel more disappointed at your first real loss but oddly enough you could barely feel a thing. You barely felt your own sweat dripping down nor the heat of your own uniform suffocating you.

You just wanted to get away from it all.

You wanted a moment to just breathe and just be.

Suddenly you found yourself being pulled from the vacuum. Awareness flooded you and even if you didn’t see her, you knew she was standing right behind you.

“Miss Luthor, I have to say that playing against you was an honor! You’re the one fencer I look up to the most. Fencing against you was like a dream.” You heard her say. Honestly, her enthusiasm was grating. The cheeriness in her voice was getting on your nerves. Was this her way of rubbing it in your face?

Instead of entertaining her, you simply shot her a glare. You hoped it was enough to tell her her to leave you alone. You watched that fresh face of hers fall and that bright smile of hers slowly disappear. Despite all of that, the fierce glow of her blue eyes remained steady, strong.

Those eyes were so damn unnerving. Disarming even.

You decided that you hated those eyes. You wanted them far away from you.

Gritting your teeth, you disappeared into the hallway. Even when you had the quiet safety of one of the prep rooms, you could still see that damned face of hers. Especially when you closed your eyes, those blue eyes haunted you.

“Fuck!” You growled as you chucked your Sabre across the room. It was a sturdy thing, it didn’t bend at the impact.

Still, Corben would have chastised you for that. He always preached about the importance of taking care of your own equipment. Then again, you appreciated him because he always walked around like he had a giant stick up his ass. It was that strictness and discipline that brought you to him in the first place.

You unzipped your Lame and haphazardly took it off your body. After that, you unzipped your jacket up until your chest. The heat was finally getting to you. Most people didn’t realize just how hot the whole ensemble was. On warm days, it could feel like a goddamn sauna. Right now however, your own uniform felt like it was choking the life out of you. It made you feel claustrophobic.

You just wanted to breathe.

Even now in the peace and quiet, you felt like you couldn’t breathe? Why?

You were untouchable for so long.

Only to be toppled over by such raw prodigious talent. You had to admit, you’d never faced a fencer quite like Kara Danvers before. Normally you embraced talent and cultivated it. Simmering in your own bitterness was unlike you. You hated this feeling. This all consuming feeling of restlessness felt a little too close to real anger. You’d spent so much time trying to keep your emotions in check. Trying to stay calm and collected.

How did this damn rookie manage to get under your skin.

You clenched your gloved first and slammed it against the nearest wall. You had to get all of this poison out of your system. You would do it by showing her, once and for all, that you were a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps that wasn’t her intention but now...

Kara Danvers had your full attention.

You would enjoy crushing her. Today was a fluke and you would prove to her the difference between a lucky amateur and the world’s best Sabreur. You didn’t spend all those years aiming for perfection only to be shown up by some rookie who had just hit the legal age of twenty-one.

 


 

July 5, 2015 — Metropolis, USA

 

“Lena you need to slow down.” Corben warned you.

You pushed for a few more rounds of your lunging exercises. It simply consisted of advancing, retreating, then advancing twice quickly before going for a far lunge. It was standard and it would only serve to improve your footwork. You were a firm believer in the age old adage of always having room for improvement. You couldn’t allow yourself to become complacent.

Not when Kara Danvers, bane of your existence, continued to beat you by a mere point.

Every. Damn. Match.

It always boiled down to 15-14.

What did that damn poster girl for the classic American sweetheart have that you didn’t? How much work and effort would translate into that one fucking point differential. Was there something she was seeing that you weren’t? Age wasn’t slowing you down was it? You knew for a fact that boundless stamina didn’t win you games. But instead of her stamina being a liability, it only served to give her that extra edge that always outdid you.

You trained just a hard. You worked your body to its limits. You knew your mind was as sharp as your own lunge.

But why?

You proceeded to lunge far and hard, hearing the loud thud of the tip of your Sabre hitting the wall cushion.

Why did she keep winning?

With all those gold medals she’d been winning, you knew by the end of season tally, she might just officially edge you out of rank one. Luckily for you, you’d been doing far more competitions than she was. She hadn’t accrued enough points to knock you off the top spot. She did however get herself a nice rank six position despite mostly competing within her zone.

You really hated admitting that what she had was the real deal.

She had raw talent that not even you possessed at the start of career. What you had now was the sheer product of discipline and the endless pursuit of perfection. It’s what you’d become known for after all.

Most in the fencing community called you the ideal fencer for perfect fencing. Your bladework was always precise, your footwork was always swift but stable, and your lunges were usually perfection itself. You didn’t earn that by smiling around like some blonde haired blue eyed idiot. You always aimed for precision and perfection. Nothing less would do.

“Lena, I’m warning you. Stop it. You’ll overwork yourself.” Corben practically growled at you.

“If I don’t do this much, I’ll never beat her.”

It happened so dramatically when Corben stepped out in front of you wearing full training gear and absorbed your lunge. Fencing was a perfectly safe sport but knowing your own strength, you might have bruised him somewhere. He was fine.

“I’ve been telling you this for months now but you haven’t been listening. Do you want to know why you’re losing to Kara Danvers?”

You ripped your mask off of your head and unceremoniously dropped it onto the ground. You rested the tip of your saber on top of your shoe, a habit. “Enlighten me.”

“Every time you go up against her, it’s like you’re not you. At least, you don’t fence like the Lena Luthor I know. All that precision I beat into you? Gone.” He said before taking a few steps forward. As if to make his point, he jabbed his finger against your temple. You did not take to that kindly.

“Your problem isn’t physical. You’re in the best damn condition of your whole career. Your problem is purely mental. Your problem is you.”

“When did you become my shrink?” You retorted as you unzipped your jacket down to your collar bone.

“I’m not your shrink. I’m your coach and I’ve been your coach since you were ten years old and tripping over yourself. Listen to me as a friend who has always believed in you.” Corben said quietly with a sincerity you didn’t expect from him. You knew him as a hard ass. Seeing him be this earnest was rare.

You finally breathed out a sigh and looked at him straight, no bullshit. “Fine.”

“Kara Danvers makes you angry and careless. You slip and make mistakes you ordinarily don’t make. You need to work on calming down.” He told you outright. It was very like him not to mince words.

Even when you were just learning how to fence at age ten, he never sugarcoated you and always pushed you to be the best you could be. But he was never cruel. In fact, he had an infinite amount of patience for your ten year old antics. You were thankful he never coddled you or held your hand.

But this? You were going to have to strongly disagree with that statement.

“You know me Corben. I never lose my cool.” You argued.

Now that he was in a lecturing mood, you no longer felt like training anymore. Good for him because it was exactly what he wanted anyway.

“In front of her you do. Everyone knows it... everyone except you. Have you been watching your own vids?”

You scowled. “No.”

Normally you would’ve watched the videos of every single bout. It’s how you improved. Any healthy athlete watched videos of their own performance and you weren’t the exception.

You simply just wanted to avoid watching yourself lose. Yes, you were well aware that you were being irrational. At the age of twenty-eight you were acting like a child.

“Lena... that’s basic. What’s wrong with you?” Corben asked, concern laced his tone.

“Nothing.”

“The World Championship is in ten days. You’ll forgive me if I don’t care about your personal issues. Do you have some kind of history with that kid?”

You shook your head, your jaw clenched. “Absolutely not. I’ve never spoken to her in my life.”

It was the truth. Ever since you started fencing in the big leagues, you didn’t have time to look behind you and see who was dominating the junior divisions. Why would you anyway? When fencing giants like Élisa Micheaux and Alessia Lucchesi existed right in front of you.

You were far too focused on your own fencing to notice someone like Kara Danvers.

You were also the current face of US Fencing. The media absolutely loved you of course. For one, you were beautiful. Why be modest about something factual? The modeling gigs were very good for your coffers. Plus the several sponsorships with certain sports brands didn’t hurt either. With all of that going on, how could you ever have expected to be upstaged by a rookie.

Even now as you wasted time lunging at the poor cushion, Kara Danvers was moving further and further away from you.

With her medals and her placements combined, by the end of season tally, she would undoubtedly surpass your rank. She’d easily take rank one from you if you weren’t careful. Ultimately, gold medals were worth a lot of points. You could almost see her overtaking you.

Why did you find that so unnerving.

It was just the ebb and flow of the sport. Rankings fluctuated all the time. Even if you’ve held rank one for four years now, you were bound to lose it at some point. The points system was fickle that way.

So why was Kara Danvers taking it from you so irksome?

More importantly, why did you allow her to get under your skin?

“Well in that case, I’m going to have to put my foot down here.” Corben announced to you, snapping you out from your thoughts.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t come back here until you figure out what your problem is. Cliched as it sounds, all of this shit is in your head. Figure it out.” He grumbled as he started removing his training gear.

You felt livid. Anger began coursing through your veins and you felt your whole body grow tense. Corben started to leave the room and you angrily stomped after him. “You can’t do that. I need every ounce of extra training to beat her. I need to be at peak physical condition for Moscow.”

“You know Luthor, it feels like everything I tell you goes out the other ear. You’d think that the older you get, the more you’d listen to me but so far it seems that age is making you even more hard-headed.” Corben growled before he stopped in his tracks and turned on his heel, facing you. “You’re already at peak physical condition. For all of Kara Danvers talents, she shouldn’t be able to match you touch for touch. But in reality, she’s beating your ass and that shouldn’t be the case knowing how you fence.”

“Corben—“

“I hate repeating myself, Lena. Go home and don’t come back here until you start thinking like the world’s best Sabreur again.” Corben stated with finality before leaving you in the dust.

The asshole turned off the lights on his way out knowing full well that your stuff was all over the room. You groaned in frustration as you started grabbing at your stuff in the darkness of the training room, using the light from the hallway to guide you. You hated admitting that your coach had a point.

You had better footwork, your bladework was still faster, and you had way more experience.

You were the only thing stopping yourself from winning.

Damn it, you wanted to win.

Once you shoved all of your gear into your official Team USA duffel bag, you walked out of the facility.

The Metropolis Fencing Center was home to legends. As you walked down its hallways and breathed in its old musty smell, a combination of age and sweat, you couldn’t help but feel like you were walking through history. It was the center of champions and you grew up here. When all the kids at school were off hanging out, watching movies, having childhoods, you’d spent all of your time here. Training harder than anyone else to be the best damn fencer you could be.

This place was a second home to you.

It would have been a shame if you couldn’t live up to its reputation.

But fine, if Corben wanted to you reevaluate yourself, you’d do it. If only to prove to him that you needed to keep training. You needed to go back in that old smelly training room and to push your body to its limits.

Pushing yourself was the only thing you knew how to do.

When you finally got home to your apartment, the first thing you did was take a shower. Once that was over, you sat in front of your TV and loaded up the video from your last match with Kara Danvers. It was from the Pan American Fencing Championships back in April in Chile.

It was another 15-14 kind of match. Utterly frustrating was what it was.

You couldn’t help but cringe at the commentary. Not because the comments were grating or bad, it was because your own pride couldn’t handle it.

“Another missed opportunity there from Luthor. Good attempt at the parry but not fast enough as Danvers got the touch.”

“This isn’t the Lena Luthor we’ve come to know is it?”

“That always seems to be the case against the younger Kara Danvers. Until now, Lena Luthor has never won a match against the rookie. It’s almost unprecedented.”

“Here comes the video replay. See here, Luthor almost looks sluggish. She’s faced this kind of attack before from her old rival Élisa Micheaux. Normally she baits out an attack and counterattacks. Here is Danvers’ approach, the attack here is fairly clear. She’s not even feinting. Ordinarily, Luthor would have seen that coming.”

“Do you think Lena Luthor is in a rut? Or is this that point of her career where she starts to slow down. Like fellow Sabreur, Aldo Montano of Italy?”

“Time and time again, you can hear her coach telling her to calm down. Luthor should take that advice. Against Kara Danvers, she needs to get out of her own head and actually focus on fencing. Show us that raw power that makes her ranked one in the first place.”

At this point, you could barely watch the video without stopping to groan. Without thinking about it, you immediately turned the TV off and lied back on the couch. The room was dark but you still felt restless. Damn it.

As you closed your eyes, you imagined the familiar darkened arena. The harsh light illuminating the Piste. In front of you was Kara Danvers, mask under her arm, Sabre in the other hand. The light was playing in her golden hair and she was looking at you with that steely gaze of hers.

It was those piercing blue eyes again that you hated so much. It was like she was challenging you. Mocking you even.

And even as your imaginary bout started, just the two of you alone on the Piste. No referees, no coaches, no audience. The sound of the scoring machines going off echoed louder than ever. Every sound only told you that she, not you, scored the touch.

No matter how many times you imagined going up against her, you always saw yourself losing.Maybe because deep down, she reminded you too much of yourself and you could feel yourself edged out in favor of her.

It was hard accepting that no matter how hard you tried, you were becoming replaceable.

 


 

July 15, 2015 — Moscow, Russia

 

You chugged down the sports bottle as if you’d just came from a dessert. You body was so tired and everything was so warm. The heat was making you a little crazy. Meanwhile, Corben quietly handed you a towel to wipe off your sweat. Glancing at the opposite end of the strap, Kara Danvers was doing the same. It was currently the one minute break that happened when 8 points were reached.

The score right now stood at 8-7 and it was your lead. A narrow lead albeit, but a lead nonetheless.

“It seems you’re doing a little better this time around. Keep that focus you have right now. Don’t be stupid and don’t get angry.” Corben warned you.

You only nodded at him as you continued to wipe the sweat off your face. You didn’t have the energy to speak.

“Remember, your blade is faster and you fence smarter. Your technical bladework is already giving her problems. Focus on doing that. Don’t do anything crazy, keep doing your counterattacks. Let her be the aggressor and trap her. She has a far reach, keep your distance.”

You attention was immediately called when the referees were motioning for you and Kara to return to the center lines. You glanced back at your coach one more time but he had nothing more to say. You already knew what to do.

You put your mask back on as you met Kara Danvers in the middle. You both touched the tips of your Sabres against the other’s Lame confirming that the scoring machines were working just fine. Before you knew it, the bout had already begun. The speed of Sabre matches were always exhilarating.

For once, you decided to switch it up a bit by being the aggressor. You had the march and you moved your blade around hers carefully as to not let her know where you were going to attack from, also to avoid letting her get a beat and steal your right of way. You lunged at her unexpectedly and she managed to dodge it narrowly, a testament to her great athleticism. She made a counter attack since your attack failed, but you anticipated this and parry-reposted.

It was a clean hit and you only heard one sound. It was your touch.

You couldn’t help but yell as you felt your Sabre connect. Honestly, people joked about fencers yelling whenever they scored but it was a ridiculously hard habit to break. Sometimes you yelled to convince the referee that the touch was yours. Most of the time, you yelled to relieve yourself of the tension and the pressure that had built up inside you over the course of a single bout.

The score was 9-7 now.

Your move Kara Danvers, you thought smugly.

The next bout was unexpected as Kara suddenly Flunged at you when you had her cornered. Damn it, when did she learn that? Were all the Americans Flunging now? Honestly, it was Daryl Homer’s fault for starting this bizarre trend. He was incredibly talented and a great athlete, but far too springy. Now, he was rubbing off Kara.

The way her piercing blue eyes glinted, even through the mask, felt like a challenge.

Okay. You were going to wipe that smug look off her pretty face.

The next touch belonged to Kara Danvers and that was when your blood started to boil. Faintly, you heard Corben yelling at you again from the sidelines but you filtered him out. Gritting your teeth, you prepared for the next bout. Your hand was clenching the handle of your Sabre a little too hard now as you waited for the Allez.

Then you both were off for a simultaneous attack. That only made you feel more and more impatient.

“En-garde, pret, allez!”

You both moved with the same rhythm and were headed for another simultaneous collision.

That was when you heard this awful popping sound. It sounded like something snapped. Before you knew what was going on, your legs gave out and you crumpled towards the floor as this excruciating pain flooded every inch of you beginning from your knee. You started groaning and yelling because you didn’t know how to process this pain. It felt like nothing you’d ever experienced before. You wanted it to end.

You were curled up on the floor as the pain in your knee twisted and turned. It was so fucking painful. You could barely stand it.

Amidst the agony and the torment the only thing tethering you to the ground was a voice.

“Lena! Stay with me. Here, you can hold my hand, at least until help arrives. Shh… It’s going to be okay. Stay with me.”

You hadn’t even realized you were already holding her hand.

When you finally glanced up, you found those vividly blue eyes gazing down at you. The harsh light of the stadium made this strange halo around her golden head. In that moment, she looked like an angel.

Even when you finally passed out from the pain, the last thing you saw were kind blue eyes. Then there was her voice. It was soothing, almost like balm to your pained soul.

“You’re going to be alright. I’ve got you.”

You didn’t know why but you trusted that voice.

Chapter Text

Lena 

“Kara Danvers sent you flowers. Maybe if you could take your head out of your ass, you can finally see that the poor girl isn’t the spawn of Satan or anything like that.”

You shot your own brother an unamused look.

Lex Luthor merely shrugged your glare off as he leaned back into the hospital chair. He was wearing one of those fancy business suits he never seemed to take off. It made you wonder if he slept in them. You were leaning towards a yes.

Still it was very nice of him to fly all the way to Moscow for you. Then again, you and Lex had always been close. Of course he’d be here in a heartbeat. He was your big brother after all. It was very like him to drop everything for you.

“How’s the knee?” He finally asked.

“They had to put me to surgery immediately otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to stand up even with crutches. Luckily, from my own understanding, it was a clean tear.” You told him calmly even though you were scared out of your mind deep down inside.

“Never thought I’d see you be taken down by an ACL tear.”

You shifted uncomfortably in the hospital bed and winced at the discomfort you felt from trying to move your right leg. The surgery was still a little fresh and you were told not to do anything strenuous for around two weeks. Normally, you would have been discharged by now. ACL reconstruction surgery was an out patient procedure meaning you would get to go home after the surgery.

But considering the inconvenient fact that you were in Moscow, everyone decided it was best that you stuck around the hospital for a while. Your coach, was currently sorting out the details to get you home first.

“I’ll be better.” You replied stiffly.

Lex leaned forward and raised an eyebrow at you. “Tell me what you really think. Don’t bullshit me Lena, I can tell when you’re lying to me.”

You couldn’t help but dramatically roll your eyes at him. Sometimes you could get away with lying to his face. Like that time you let him panic about his failed science experiment in the garage when in truth, you simply tripped over the power cable. That was hilarious.

But he wasn’t wrong either. When it came down to the real shit, he knew you too well.

“I’m frustrated as hell of course. After Moscow, I’m supposed to be training for the Olympics. How can I train for the Olympics when I’m recovering from a damn ACL Tear?” You grounded out bitterly.

Your brother put his hand over yours. Even now his hands were still so big and warm. You found them reassuring. “Lena, maybe ten years ago tearing your ACL would have been career ending but today? It’s only a speed bump. You’ll recover in no time and I’d get to keep bragging about the only Olympian in the family during golf.”

You raised an eyebrow at him. “Is that what you do with your trust fund cronies?”

“Of course, I’m always proud of you. Even if people talk about you more than they talk about me.” He joked.

You shook your head at him.

The two of you had always been relatively famous. After all, your face was on sports ads and you were a two-time Olympian. Your brother on the other hand was the CEO of L-Corp, a company on the forefront of medicine and science. The kind of technology that saves the world. Lex regularly rubbed elbows with the likes of Elon Musk and Harrison Wells.

But which Luthor sibling did people like more?

Definitely you. Please.

Everyone loved a winning American athlete after all. Even if you were the furthest thing from looking like the typical American athlete. You’d fit better in Europe. You always had more European features. Some would argue Eastern European while others would argue Irish but as far as you were concerned, you were born and raised on American soil. East coast all the way.

“Hey... it’s going to be okay yeah? From my extremely limited medical experience, you’ll be back to fencing in no time. This is not the end of the world.” Lex said softly.

“I’m not scared I’ll never fence again. I’m scared that I’ll be replaced and forgotten. You’ve seen Kara Danvers haven’t you? She fences exactly like me but she’s younger. She looks like a Farrah Fawcett or a Meg Ryan type back when America was in love with them. She’s got beautiful blonde hair and a face that goes on a sports calendar. The ad executives would eat her up. Then what? I’ll spend the next nine months trying to make myself competitive again? In that time, she’ll be so far away I won’t be able to reach her. I will spend the rest of my career playing catch-up.”

Lex didn’t really know what to say to that. Even with that neutral expression of his, you knew he felt conflicted. When you realized he didn’t have a follow up to that, you decided to fill the silence for him. As if you didn’t spent your every waking hour since the surgery pondering over your future.

“I’ll barely qualify for Rio. I’m not entirely sure if the committee will even consider me knowing my injury and the time constraints. Honestly in this state, I’d rather sit this one out.”

Lex looked at you disapprovingly. “Okay I’m calling bullshit. I’ve watched you devote every second of your life to fencing. Don’t tell me you’re giving up.”

“Who knows. Maybe I’ll wait for Tokyo in 2020.” You said sardonically.

Your brother sighed and raked his hand over his scalp in frustration. “The four year wait would kill you Lena.”

“It’s fine, I already have a replacement.”

Lex scowled. “Lena—“

The door to your hospital room opened and your coach walked in with a deep grimace. Lex looked behind him and stood up to give Corben a friendly hug. Something Corben immediately stiffened to but he returned it nonetheless.

“John, it’s good to see you.” Lex greeted.

“When did you get here Lex?”

Your brother shrugged and grinned charmingly. “A few hours ago. Thank god the jet lag hasn’t settled in yet or you would be carrying me out.”

Corben’s mouth twitched every so slightly. “I already have to carry one Luthor, now I have to carry two? You should pay me more.”

“But you’re family, Corben! Even with that James Bond villain accent you’ve got going there.” Lex teased him.

“Between the two of us, you have the evil bad guy look.”

“Look, is this because I’m bald? You can just say I’m bald, Corben.”

At some pointed you just started laughing at your brother’s antics. You had to admit that you missed him and his shiny head. It was unfortunate that even when you both lived in the same city, you seldom saw each other. Maybe you both had the occasional dinner every other month but you both were too busy for more.

“So any news?” You finally asked.

Your coach looked back at you seriously. “I have a tentative timetable for your recovery. But that aside I’ve made some arrangements. You’ll be going home tomorrow. It’s a good thing the Russian Fencing Federation was more than willing to give us a hand. Apparently the Russians admire your work.”

You nodded slowly at him and started to play with your fingers. “I suppose that’s good news.”

“I have more good news but I have a feeling you’ll disagree with me about my definition of good.“ he replied with this pained expression. As if he was simply trying to get through this conversation as quickly as possible.

When you didn’t reply, he took it as his cue to keep talking. The look you gave him probably said more than you could verbally say. “So while you were stuck here, I’ve been speaking to Hank Henshaw. You know him right?”

You narrowed your eyes at him, not knowing what he was playing at exactly. Of course you knew who the man was. He was a living legend. “Kara Danvers’ coach and the man who made US fencing famous. How could I forget?”

Corben swallowed thickly. “Yeah well we were talking and he was expressing how sorry he was about your situation. He mentioned that the National City Fencing Center comes with an in-house rehabilitation facility. It’s much more than what we have at Metropolis.”

“Get to the point.” You snarled.

“Umm yes. So on Henshaw’s recommendation and from the opinion of a medical professional on the Danvers team, it would be a good idea to ah...” Corben hesitated.

You turned your body and tried to lean towards his direction, ignoring the mild discomfort from your leg. “To what?”

“Do your rehab in National City. That is if you’re still aiming to qualify for Rio...”

Goddamn it all to hell.

That last thing you wanted was to have the one person you hated the most watch you crawl your way back up to decent. That kind of humiliation would be more than you could ever take. If the injury didn’t kill you, the sight of Kara Danvers watching you struggle would.

You clenched your fist and gritted your teeth. “Are you shitting me right now? I do not want to go to the same fencing center as Kara Danvers.”

Corben put his hands up defensively and awkwardly looked to Lex for help. Your brother shrugged at Corben and pretended to be interested in something else even though there was nothing noteworthy in the room. Coward.

“Listen. I know you love the Metropolis Fencing Center but it’s getting old. The only thing going for it is its reputation. The one in National City is built similarly to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. It’s perfect for training Olympians like you. We’re talking state of the art equipment for training, conditioning, but more importantly, they have a center for sports medicine. You’ll have the best doctors in the nation. Most of the fencers training for the Olympics will be there.”

You barely considered what he was saying. The only thing you heard was how all these fencers would be watching you fail. It would be utter humiliation to show weakness in front of all those people. “So I can embarrass myself in front of people like Kara Danvers and Lucy Lane?”

Just about every big fencer was training in National City. The only reason you were so hellbent on staying in Metropolis was because it was familiar. You’d been in that old musty place since you were ten. You’d been winning gold medals left and right because of that place. To leave for something newer and shinier like the National City Fencing Center would almost be akin to betrayal.

“Oh come on Lena, think about it.” Lex interjected from his corner of the room.

“Why?” You shot back.

Lex looked genuinely puzzled. “Because you love Fencing?”

Did you though?

You thought you loved this stupid sport with every fiber of your being. But now?

If you were being honest, you honestly couldn’t remember the last time you really enjoyed fencing. You mostly relied on feeling the adrenaline. Willing your body to hit that fight or flight zone but that wasn’t real exhilaration. It wasn’t even thrilling.

“Why are you so quiet? You still want to, right? Fence, that is.” Lex asked, uncertain.

“I mean I did devote my whole life to it. It would be a waste to quit wouldn’t it?” You said caustically.

Maybe later you’d regret your tone but right now, you felt too miserable to care. You were definitely not in the mood to discuss your future and you absolutely did not want to talk about fencing. Not when you were strapped to an IV bag and barely feeling your leg because the post surgery numbness had yet wear off despite it being two days now. You hadn’t showered and the hospital food sucked.

Was it too much to ask to not talk about your career?

“But I remember how my little sister used to stay up way past her bed time, practicing her footwork and her lunges in the hallway. It drove Mom absolutely crazy. That kid loved fencing.” Lex said quietly.

You had to crack a smile at that. You used to drive your Mom up the wall whenever you practiced inside the house. Most of the time you’d end up tearing down the wallpaper or making dents in the paint. Suffice to say, she wasn’t pleased with your antics was why Dad ended up clearing out some space just for you. It was a good compromise to avoid the chaos of a ten year old kid with a sword and too much energy.

What you would give to be so carefree again.

Eventually you simply slumped into the hospital bed and frowned at the stiffness of the mattress. You gazed out of the window almost wistfully and sighed. “I don’t want talk about it right now.”

Somehow you knew Corben and Lex were exchanging looks behind you. After an excruciating amount of silence had passed, it made you wish that you were truly alone. Instead, you simply had two grown men tiptoeing around you. This was not your idea of a good time.

“Okay, we’ll talk about it another day. You still have two weeks of not doing any physical activity. Plenty of time to talk.” Corben said.

“Great. Do you two mind leaving me alone? I think I’ll take a nap now.” You told them tiredly. It was more of a statement than a request.

“Of course. Call us if you need anything.” Lex replied.

You shifted around and tried to maneuver around your leg, hoping to get comfortable so you could actually sleep. Even private hospital rooms were the opposite of comfort.

Hearing the door close, you finally exhaled in relief. You’d been wanting some peace and quiet for some time now. However, being alone with your thoughts was quite possibly the worst thing you could ever do to yourself. You’d probably just overthink yourself to death.

It took far too long for you to get comfortable enough to nap.

It was highly unfortunate that when you finally were able to fall asleep, you were awoken by an untimely intruder.

 


 

Was that someone... muttering?

It wasn’t the voice of someone you knew. But there was something strangely familiar about that voice. As you finally drew closer to full consciousness, you were able to actually discern words now. You were able to focus on the sentences.

You vaguely heard some mild swearing. Somewhere along the lines of : “Oh crap, no one told me she was asleep. I even asked her coach if it was fine. He said it was okay. Holy crap, what now...?”

Your eyebrows scrunched up together and your frowned deeply. Your mother chastised you all the time for frowning so much. She always lamented how such expressions would mar your flawless face with wrinkles and deeper laugh lines.

When you could no longer stand all that muttering and mumbling, you forced yourself to turn over —bad idea by the way— and face the source.

“I swear to god. Either you start forming coherent sentences or you get hell out of here.”

The moment you saw her, you were stunned and words failed you.

Of all the people who just had to come visit you, of course it had to be her.

You found yourself quietly studying her. This was the first time you’d ever seen her off the strip and out of all that fencing gear. No one really looked all that flattering after sweating it out for hours but admittedly she cleaned up nicely. Dressed in one of those numerous Team USA hoodies and old worn out jeans that clung to her like a glove, she looked... good. Though then again, she was so attractive you could shove her into a garbage bag and she’d pull it off. Not that you would ever tell her that.

“Uh... hey there.” She greeted you nervously.

“Miss Danvers.” You stated.

“Please just call me Kara.”

Then you both hit a conversational wall. Already. Only three sentences in and you both didn’t know what to say.

The nervous energy that seem to emanate from her like a free flowing dam, she shifted around awkwardly. She was a far cry from the competent fencer you faced on the strip. She was so focused and calm with a sword in hand. Now, you could finally see her youth and inexperience. The painful awkwardness. You supposed some people found that appealing, you most certainly were not one of those people.

And she wasn’t that young anymore. She was twenty-three now. At that age, you had gold and silver medals from Beijing and two FIE World Championship gold medals under your belt.

When she awkwardly ran her hand through her hair, that was when you first noticed that she had worn her hair down. Her golden hair curled up here and there, it looked so incredibly soft. You’d never seen her wear her hair like this. It made her seem all the more fresh-faced.

“I just wanted to drop by before I went to the airport.” She finally said.

“Well you’ve dropped by. You can leave now.” You replied without missing a beat.

If she was here to pity you then you’d rather she leave. It was annoying enough losing to her all the time. But to have those infuriatingly blue eyes look at you in pity would be more than humiliating. Why was she still here?

Kara looked around the room and spotted the flowers she sent. “I see you got my flowers.”

“It does have your name on it, yes.” you replied sarcastically.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a little... intense?” Kara suddenly blurted out.

You snapped your head towards her. What a surprising amount of audacity. You always thought she was one of those cloyingly sweet types. So far, that had been partially true.

“I don’t fence at this level without being, as you put it, intense.”

Kara didn’t really have a follow up for that. With the awkward silences that would surface in cycles, this entire encounter was becoming quite painful for the both of you. If she understood any social cues at all, then smart thing for her to do would be to leave.

“Listen... Kara.” You started. Her name sounded wrong on your tongue. “If you feel guilty about what happened, don’t. It’s not like you personally caused my ACL tear up in the middle of a match. Now that you’ve done your obligatory hospital visit, you’re free to leave now.”

“I don’t feel guilty at all. I was just worried about you.”

You raised an eyebrow at her and tried to sit up better on the bed. There was some struggle and Kara looked more than ready to jump out and help you but you managed. Then your mouth twisted into a sardonic smile. “Worrying about the competition are we? That certainly won’t do.”

“I wouldn’t say you’re competition right now anyhow.” Kara scoffed. When she realized what had just come out of her mouth, she covered the offending thing with her hand. “I didn’t mean it that way—“

Your smile only grew wider. Kara Danvers surprisingly had a lot of interesting layers to her. “Thank you for being the first realistic person to walk into this room. It’s refreshing.”

Kara’s face scrunched up in distaste. Without invitation, she grabbed the chair your brother sat on earlier on and seated herself by your bed. “I didn’t mean it that way. It’s an ACL tear not the end of the world. I’m just worried you won’t make it Rio.”

“And how is that any of your concern?”

Then when her face shifted into something softer, there was something that hit you in that moment. Those blue eyes you always found so infuriating seemed to affect you on a whole different level. When the sunlight danced across her face and played in her hair, she almost looked... ethereal. For months, you’d spent so much time associating those eyes with being the object of your hatred.

Now, they captivated you. Her eyes reminded you off the ocean, beautiful with hidden depths. They weren’t meant to be feared.

You swallowed thickly and avoided that gaze. Not because it made you angry but because it unsettled you. There was this startling level of sincerity in those eyes that just seemed to get under your skin.

“Because you, Lena Luthor, have so much more to give. No one fences like you. No one. I don’t want to see you stop now.”

You couldn’t stop your breath from catching the moment those words came out from her mouth. She spoke to you so earnestly that she made you feel vulnerable for the briefest of moments. She was the furthest thing from what you imagined her to be. The girl didn’t have a dishonest bone in her body. It was as if her first and only instinct was to be kind.

“Come to National City. You know it’s your best shot.” She continued.

You couldn’t believe she was making a better argument than Lex and Corben combined. She didn’t even have an argument. Just a few honest words was all it took for you. Unbelievable.

You, Lena Luthor, being sweet talked into going to National City by a striking woman. What a goddamn cliche.

Not that you personally found her attractive or anything like that. She was objectively striking. Objectively.

Damn it, you were going to cave. Even if you paraded around as this big hard ass like Corben, you were a big softie deep down. When your rival was sitting by your bedside and appealing to you with those eyes, how could you not cave? Saying no to her now would be like stealing candy from a child.

“I’ll think about it.” you told her quietly with none of that bite you had earlier.

Then her face was transformed the moment her lips pulled into the magnificent smile. You didn’t know why but you could feel your stomach flutter. Something told you that you’d find yourself thinking about that smile long after this visit. You didn’t want to read too much into that. That would be too confusing for you.

“That’s all I wanted to hear.” She replied warmly before standing up and making her way to the door. “Guess I’ll be seeing you at National City then.”

You finally allowed yourself to smile, genuinely. “That’s awfully optimistic of you.”

“If you’re anything like they say you are, you’ll be there.” She replied confidently.

Kara Danvers left on that note leaving you to wonder what she meant by that.

Chapter Text

Lena

You knew you’d be back sometime in the near future but somehow, this felt like the end of an era. Walking around your apartment, your hand glided across the walls, trying to glean some kind of sentiment from the paint. Too bad there were no such things to be found. Admittedly, your place was sparsely decorated. It only existed to serve as a place for you to go to when you weren’t training. Everything about this place was devoid of attachment. There were no fond memories to remember.

You wondered if that made you boring. Your own apartment was more like a dorm than a home. It made you feel rather uninteresting as a human being.

You leaned against the wall the moment you felt your leg start to act up. While you could stand and get around by yourself, you still needed crutches for support but even walking around with those took a great deal of effort. Your eyes went over your belongings. It was a little dismaying to see just how little you actually owned. You had a luggage or two shoved to the side and a few boxes here and there. There was far too much space in here.

When you told Corben you wanted to go to National City, he was thrilled obviously. Well, as thrilled as he would ever allow himself to be. He started making phone calls and Lex was helping with the arrangements. For the next couple of months until the Olympics, National City would be your home. As for your living accommodations, for as long as you have intensive rehabilitation, you’d be staying at one of the athlete dorms in the facility. Once you were cleared for out patient rehab, you would move out to a proper apartment.

It wasn’t a bad arrangement.

Still. It was going to be a new city, with new people, and new everything. You rarely ventured into unfamiliar territory.

There was also the irritating fact that you couldn’t believe had Kara Danvers convinced you to go. Now that you had a clearer head, you were sure that the only reason why you agreed so readily was because of all the pain medication you were on. It was a momentary lapse of judgement that wouldn’t happen again. Not ever. No amount of distracting smiles could possibly make you do it again.

The moment you give her an inch, she would take a mile and overtake you faster than you could say Allez. It was a moment of weakness that you should never have allowed in the first place. Even if in this instance, she was right about this. Going to National City was your only option.

But if you wanted to reach the top again, it was best to remember that Kara Danvers was a threat. She wasn’t your friend or your ally. Trusting her would be a foolish misstep despite you having this underlying feeling that trusting was something she did far too often. You chalked it up to her being young and naive. Two things you most definitely were not.

You head turned towards the door when your brother entered the room along with Corben. “You ready to go, Lena?” Lex asked you.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” You replied flatly.

“She sounds real excited.” Lex quipped as he started to take your bags for you. Even if you were wholly uninjured, he would have taken your bags anyway. There were just some things that would never change. He would always try to be your big brother no matter what.

“I think Corben’s more excited to see the National City Fencing Center than I am.” You replied.

“Are you kidding me? It’s the best fencing center in all of North America.” Corben retorted.

“See? It’s like Christmas for him. Look at him, he’s ecstatic.” You said with a grin.

“Yeah his nonexistent smile is blinding.” Lex scoffed.

“One Luthor giving me shit is bad enough, I don’t need two.” Your coach groaned as he started rubbing his temples as if he had just developed a sudden headache.

You lifted up your hand towards your brother and he proceeded to give you a high five. Then you both had a quick laugh at Corben’s expense. At some point he grumbled about missing your flight when you still had way too much hours to spare.

As you went down the stairs of your apartment complex, you regretted not complaining about the broken elevator more. You were an Olympic fencer, climbing a few flights of stairs was a definite non-issue. Well it used to be a non-issue. Now you took forever to get down, you absolutely hated it. You were a crippled athlete and it sucked immensely. Things that you took for granted, like walking, became detrimental to your daily life.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was that feeling of helplessness. You hated being treated like an invalid. You were more than capable of taking care of yourself but your leg forced you to rely on other people for help. It was humiliating. You really hated asking for help. It made you feel like you weren’t capable or competent.

At some point, you found a way to get down with your crutches. But the process was excruciatingly slow. Sometimes you wished you could just fling yourself down the stairwell. That would have been exponentially faster.

By the time you got into the car, you were exhausted beyond belief. You knew the recovery process would be hard but this was just tedious. You couldn’t wait until you were back on your feet. More importantly, you couldn’t wait to be back on the strip.

As you stared out the window, this odd sensation gripped you. While there was some melancholy to leaving everything you knew, there was also this unexpected amount of exhilaration. Down to the cellular level, you could feel the excitement slowly build. You intrinsically knew that you were marching into uncharted territory. Not knowing what was going to happen next thrilled you.

Only time would tell if you were going to thrive or burn.

 


 

Kara

The familiar burn in your legs was a welcome sensation. As your muscles screamed for relief and your body temperature skyrocketed from what you were putting your body through, heat simply radiated from your body. You wouldn’t have been surprised if you could easily function as a human heater. A shower would feel amazing right now but sadly, you weren’t quite finished yet.

“A few more reps and we’re done here.” Henshaw told you sternly. Your coach was standing by the side with his arms crossed.

You gave him a firm nod and started advancing, retreating, and lunging on the Bosu Balls. It was one thing to practice footwork on solid ground, it was another to do it while having to actually mind your balance. It gave your legs the full workout. After all, Fencing was mostly leg power. Fencers typically had really strong legs.

Finally, when Henshaw gave you the okay, you hopped off the Bosu Balls and immediately collapsed onto the ground next to you. The cold floor felt so nice against your cheek and heated skin. You were half tempted to start divesting yourself of your t-shirt. You sweat was making the fabric cling to your body, technically it made you appear to be topless anyway. Everyone could see your sports bra. What difference would it make to actually strip in the middle of the room.

“I’m going to check on some things. Make sure you cool down properly okay?” Henshaw told you with a warm smile.

You simply extended your arm and gave him a thumbs up as you waited for your heart rate and your breathing to settle.

As Henshaw walked away from you, someone dumped a towel onto your face. You made this strangled gasp at the sudden towel and sat up from the floor, glowering at the source.

“You do know the floor is highly unsanitary right?”

You rolled your eyes at her. “But it feels so nice though.” You protested.

You sister, Alex Danvers, looked at you askance. Her mouth in this strange diagonal line, you weren’t sure if she was smiling or frowning. She was walking around in her white doctor’s coat and looking oh so very professional. A stark contrast to your dirty sweaty self, wearing a sweat soaked white shirt and dri-fit leggings.

“I heard your idol’s on her way here. Don’t get too excited now.” She teased you.

You felt a blush crawl up from your neck to your cheeks. “She’s not my idol.”

Alex grinned at you and offered you a hand. “Tell that to the poster of Lena Luthor you had when you were fourteen.”

You flushed into a cherry red shade as your sister pulled you up from the ground. “I mean, the poster was free. Also she won a gold medal at the FIE World Championships at the age of nineteen. That’s impressive.” You argued defensively.

“Kara, you kept that poster for three years. The only reason why we took it down was because we had to repaint your room.” Alex pointed out.

Childishly, you stick your fingers into your ears and started walking away from your sister. “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

“Fine be that way. Guess you won’t find out about the big news.”

You immediately turned on your heel and shot your sister a look. She had this annoying grin on her face. Sometimes it sucked that she knew you far too well. “What big news?”

Alex sauntered up to you cockily and crossed her arms. “I’ve been assigned to Lena Luthor’s case.”

You tried not to react to that. Admittedly, back in your impressionable years, you would’ve given anything just to meet her in person. “Okay and...?”

Your sister shook her head at you. “You’re doing that thing where you look constipated because you’re trying to pretend you don’t care when in fact, you do.”

Goddamn it. It wasn’t your fault if your face was like an open book.

“Yeah whatever. I’m going to cool off now.” You deflected masterfully. Talking about anything but the main topic was a specialty of yours.

“Don’t be too jealous little sis.” You hear Alex say as you started to jog around the room. Somewhere in the corner of your eye, you saw that she left the room entirely.

Well to be fair to Alex, she wasn’t entirely wrong.

In truth, Lena Luthor was why you started fencing competitively in the first place. Before you watched her spectacular finals match at the world championship, you were a casual fencer at best. It was just some fun weekend activity for you. You never really had Olympic ambitions and you never thought you’d fence professionally. It used to just be extracurricular. It used to just be a hobby.

Then one day your local fencing center was holding their own in house tournament. They would bring the winners of each weapon style to Turin, Italy. That’s where the world championships were held back in 2006. You were naturally athletic. With insurmountable energy and a real talent for Sabre fencing, it was no question you’d go.

It had been exhilarating watching from the sidelines. While your two companions— the winners for Foil and Epee respectively— were enamored with the idea of being in Italy, you were taken by the indoor arena. The moment you set foot into the Oval Lingotto, you knew deep down in your bones that this was where you were meant to be. You belonged here.

And while you watched the semi-finals, you were just amazed at the sheer power of high level Sabre fencing. It was insane. You were fourteen at the time, you’d been fencing for around two years and had no idea that this world existed.

Then your whole world changed when you saw her.

You watched this young nineteen year old Sabre fencer at her first world championship. Someone told you she’d been making ripples at the zone competitions in North America. There was something about her that just jumped and latched onto you.

She was this beautiful thing, like a greek marble statue. She looked regal and dashing dressed all in white, Sabre in hand. What really got you was that fearless expression she had. She radiated confidence. Not the naive kind, but real genuine confidence.

Then when she had her finals match for gold, that was it. You were a goner.

Her fencing was a thing of beauty. She was this elegant creature who’s explosive power and pure athleticism captivated you. When she fenced, it almost felt like dancing. You thought you’d been watching the most artful and intricate dance known to man. You were practically sitting on the edge of your seat watching her score touch after touch.

The scene still remained with you so vividly. The way the harsh arena light lit up the Piste, the wires of the scoring machine trailing behind both fencers, the blur of silver as both swords collided. Then you watched that young fearless fencer score the winning touch. She flung her mask off and yelled at the top of her lungs, her hand raised in a triumphant fist. Her opponent had dropped her Sabre and left it dangling around her arm as she fell to her knees in defeat.

You later learned that the younger fencer’s name was Lena Luthor.

You followed her career closely ever since. That was the day you truly fell in love with Fencing. This limitless determination gripped you. The idea that someone as strong as her existed made your blood pump with excitement. She had lit this fire within you. You knew with absolute certainty that you had to face her on the strip. Ever cell in your body was telling you that that’s where you needed to be.

It was then that you started to train for competition. Your local fencing center recommended you train at the National City Fencing Center and you would eventually meet your coach, Hank Henshaw. It sounded a little embarrassing looking back now, but Lena Luthor’s existence was the sole driving factor pushing you to reach new heights. She was your strongest motivator.

You had to get faster, you had to get stronger, you had to get smarter. It was the only way to cross swords with this faraway creature whose fencing enthralled you. It was purely accidental that your style of fencing had begun to resemble hers. That was something you were working on. You felt like a derivative of her greatness and you wanted to change that. To become your own person.

Suffice to say, fencing against her the first time felt like an absolute dream. You tried not to let your admiration of her stop you from forgetting that you weren’t just here for her. You wanted to win and she was at the pinnacle of fencing.

Never in a million years did you expect to win. By all rights, knowing your own skill versus hers, she should have won. You’d spent all that time watching Lena Luthor’s fencing and you knew deep down something was wrong with her. The woman you faced was not the Lena Luthor that drove you to obsessively succeed.

Then there were those looks she kept giving you.

Like she loathed your existence with every fiber of her being.

But then you won against her a second time. Then a third time. It was strange fighting someone who looked like Lena Luthor but didn’t fence like her. It was soulless, angry, fencing. You felt it every time your blades crossed. Where was the beauty you fell for?

Then the last match you had against her was exactly what you’d been waiting for. For the first eight touches, you were so goddamn happy. For the first time, it felt like you were fencing with the Lena Luthor you admired. Your body was screaming yes as this insane rush ran through you. This was why you fenced. Facing people like her was indescribable. There was nothing quite like it. There was no greater high.

Then it all fell apart.

You thought you were dreaming when you watched her crumple towards the ground with this painful cry. You’d never heard such agony before. Before you knew what you were doing, your mask was off and you were holding her hand. All your interactions before this involved a lot of her glaring at you like you were everything wrong with her life. But when she looked up at you, there was so much trust. Something about those cool green eyes that you’d grown to be familiar with told you that she was far from done. There was this fire in those eyes that told you she’d be back on the strip, just you wait.

So imagine your surprise when Henshaw told you Lena Luthor wanted to sit out on Rio. He apparently had heard from her coach, John Corben, that her torn ACL had shaken her up and she legitimately entertained the idea of not going.

You couldn’t accept that. When you looked into her eyes, you looked into the eyes of a champion. It’s why you showed up at her hospital room even if you had no right to be there. If you couldn’t appeal to her own love of fencing, then maybe you could appeal to her by using your own rivalry with her in order to bait her. It was surprising to you that what got her metaphorical foot out the door was allowing yourself to speak from the heart. Your words had come from years of admiration and hero worship.

You told her she had so much more to give, that was the honest truth.

So despite what your sister implied, you weren’t that excited about being able to train with the woman you’d been idolizing since you were fourteen. More like you were just thrilled that Lena Luthor wasn’t giving up. That was all you truly cared about.

“Hey Danvers, wanna spar?”

You slowed your jog into a stop and grinned when you saw Lucy Lane approach you. She was currently ranked three in USA and ranked twenty-three in the world. A fellow Sabre fencer and most likely someone you’ll been fencing with for the Team Sabre event at Rio. She was already geared up and wearing her Lame whereas you were still in your sweaty t-shirt.

“But I just cooled down.” You whined.

Lucy started to poke at your sides affectionately with the tip of her Sabre. “Oh come on. I’m bored. I need a challenge, Miss Ranked-Two-In-The-World.”

You shook your head at her. “Flattery won’t get you anywhere with me, Luce.”

“I’ll give you incentive then. All you can eat buffet, my treat.” She offered.

You did like buffets.

“Make it unlimited Korean barbecue and you’re on.” You told her sternly, pointing a finger at her.

Lucy smirked. “Perfect. I’ll meet you in the other room.”

You slowly started to pull of the elastic band holding your hair up. “Why do you always single me out anyway?”

Lucy shrugged and started making her way to the other room specifically holding all the sparring equipment like the machines and the Pistes. The room you both were in now was purely for conditioning and fencing maneuvers. Across the hallway, there was gym filled with the newest equipment on the market.

“Well, you’re the closest thing to going up against Lena Luthor. I’ve never really faced her in competition before.” She replied matter-of-factly.

“I’m not her you know.”

“You might as well be. It’s clear that she’s started to burn out. You’re on your way to being the next Lena Luthor.” She said as if it was already a done deal.

You weren’t ignorant. You knew how the USFA was posturing you to replace her as the new face of American Fencing. Plus the fact that you were set to endorse Adidas— something Lena had already been doing for years now— was more than enough proof that they were phasing her out. You hated it.

Lena Luthor was far from done. No matter what anyone said about her. You saw that look in her eyes. Those weren’t the eyes of someone who was done for.

Also you were Kara Danvers. You were your own fencer, and you most certainly were not Lena’s clone or replacement.

Half an hour later, you wound up proving everyone right. You beat Lucy in a perfect game and the sparring match looked too much like a Luthor match. Gripping the handle of your Sabre hard, you exhaled frustratedly.

You were Kara Danvers, damn it.

Not the next Lena Luthor.

 


 

Lena

 You finally stopped seething over the fact that they offered to push you around in a wheelchair for the official tour of the National City Fencing Center. It was irrational for you to get angry but now that you had a clearer mind, you had some regrets about blowing up at the lady they sent to give you the tour.

Despite your initial misgivings about coming here, seeing the place itself was quickly changing your mind. As you walked around in your crutches, following the tour lady around, you had to admit that this facility was impressive. It was a simple three story complex. Definitely not as big as the Olympics Center in Colorado but just as impressive.

In order to sustain itself, it was the Center’s hope to draw in athletes and patients outside the fencing community. It was expected to see outsiders come here all the time for physical rehabilitation and the occasional gym use.

The first floor mainly consisted of the actual training rooms. The second floor was the sports medicine and the rehabilitation center. There was also another gym on the second floor but most of the fencers elected to work out on the first floor. The third floor was where some of the athlete dorms were as well as the facility offices. It was all very efficient.

“The room over here is purely for sparring. As you can see, the floors are made of shock absorbent material and not concrete. Great for avoiding injuries and unnecessary physical stress. Also we do have wireless machines but sometimes the wired ones are easier to attach so most of the fencers here stay wired.” The tour lady told you.

You peeked into the large room with high ceilings and good lighting. You kind of liked the overall look of this facility, with it’s white walls, large open spaces, and wide windows that allowed plenty of natural light in. It would feel nice to train here.

You heard the telltale screams of two fencers fighting for a point and smiled. Your eyes followed the source and you decided to watch the match. As you watched the two women go at it, you immediately noticed the one on the left was vastly superior to the woman on the right. By the time she scored the winning touch, you knew she had just fenced a perfect game. Impressive.

Still, those moves were eerily familiar.

Then your eyes trailed down to the back of her Lame and you saw her name in clear blue print. Now you were frowning. But of course.

“Oh I see you’ve already spotted Kara Danvers.” Your coach suddenly said from behind you. He surprised you because he’d been so quiet, you had completely forgotten he was trailing right behind you.

You rolled your eyes at him. “Whatever, let’s just keep going. Considering how long we’ll be here, I’m sure we’ll be thoroughly acquainted with that damn room.”

Just when you had begun to move along, you heard loud footsteps. It sounded as if someone was charging in your direction. When you turned your head, you were nearly run over by a certain overly optimistic blonde with seemingly boundless amounts of energy.

“Hey! You came after all.” She greeted.

You gave her a quick once over. Something told you she’d been here all day and a quick whiff would tell you that she desperately needed a shower. “Danvers.” You greeted back with a grimace.

“You should drop by and say hi to everyone. I know a lot of people who are just dying to meet you.”

You looked past her and saw that indeed, the room was filled with a good fifteen people or so. Then you looked back to Kara’s eager face and unassuming eyes. She really didn’t have a suspicious or dishonest bone in her body. She reminded you of an untrained puppy. With your lips pulled down into a hard frown, you pulled away from her. “I’m not here to make friends.”

“Of course, you’re here to win. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Kara beamed.

Honestly, someone needed to tone down her Little-Miss-Sunshine routine. It was a little too cloying and it felt a tad bit too patronizing for your taste.

“Have you considered taking a shower?” You asked her outright.

Her cheeks flushed and she now had the good sense to look embarrassed. “That is an excellent idea. Right.”

She immediately ran off in the opposite direction. Most likely to take that shower she should have taken hours ago. Still, for someone to look that good after all training all day, that was a serious crime. Everyone looked like shit after training and you were no exception. How nice to be youthful and perfect.

“The showers must be that way, I take it?” You asked your tour guide.

She nodded. “Near the locker rooms, yes.”

“Convenient.”

“You didn’t have to be that rude.” Corben interjected as you all started moving along with the quick tour.

“How I act is none of your business.” You immediately retorted.

Corben motioned for the tour lady to give you both some space as he pulled you aside to talk. Begrudgingly, you followed him as far as your crutches would take you. “Normally I don’t care about how you act around people but I think you need to mind that attitude.”

“As long as I fence, I fail to see how my attitude matters.” You shot back.

“It matters because this isn’t home. This isn’t your backyard, Lena. If you want the people here to help you, you have be nice to them. And clearly, Kara Danvers seems to be the one person everyone here genuinely likes. Be nice to her and people will be nice to you. You can’t just expect your reputation to get things done around here. For all people care, you are an injured athlete whose career may or may not be over. Your name may not carry as much weight as it used to.” Corben laid it out for you.

“So basically don’t antagonize the people handling my recovery.” You summarized.

“Yes. Don’t make things harder than it has to be.”

You inhaled deeply and started walking away from him to continue on with the brief tour. “Fine, I’ll play nice.”

“I don’t need you to be a saint. Just don’t be... you.” He sighed.

You smiled wryly. “That’s great advice, John.”

Corben sighed aloud, the sound of his frustration bounced off the walls. “Are you going to insist on being a pain in the ass until Rio?”

“Absolutely.” You replied gleefully.

Eventually your tour was cut short. By the time you started exploring the rehab center, you legs were starting to give out on you again. Being on crutches for so long was finally wearing you out. They weren’t really meant for long term anyhow. You were immediately introduced to the dorm you’d be inhabiting for the next few months. It wasn’t a bad space. In fact, it was just as sparse as your own place which further reinforced that you’d become a boring person.

It basically had everything you needed. A small flatscreen TV, a single bed with a nice firm mattress, a microwave, a tiny refrigerator, and more importantly your own bathroom. The bathroom was tiny but at least you didn’t have to share.

“You’ll be okay here?” Corben asked you once everything had settled down.

“I’ll be fine.” You replied curtly.

“Unlike Colorado, this place doesn’t have a dedicated cafeteria. But luckily for you, there’s a 7 Eleven on the ground floor. Aside from that, the Center will be covering your meals for as long as you have a specific diet prescribed to you by your doctor or some nutritionist. A food service is going to deliver meals on the regular to you.” He informed you.

Right now, Corben was too much like a father dropping his kid off at college. He was stalling and trying not to leave you too soon. The concern made you smile. You knew it was making him restless knowing he couldn’t keep an eye on you while you were still on crutches. Corben was going to return to Metropolis after a few days but you knew he would’ve preferred to be here.

“Think I’ll have neighbors?” You joked knowing full well that the floor was mostly empty.

“Doubtful. Most of the athletes who came here to train temporarily ended up moving to National City full time. Still, if you do have one, play nice okay?” He teased you right back. Most people couldn’t tell when Corben was being playful because his facial expression never changed.

Making him leave took forever but you eventually convinced him you were fine. Once you had your room to yourself, you unceremoniously dumped yourself onto the bed. You felt so tired. A few years ago, it would have taken a lot more for you to become this exhausted. Nowadays it happened too quickly and you were only twenty-eight. You were still too young to slow down like this.

On that sentiment, you decided to try and get some sleep. Things moved fast around here after all. Tomorrow, you’d have your first session of therapy. Finally, you’d get to stand on two feet for the first time in weeks.

Chapter Text

Lena

Waking up had never been a hardship for you. You always thought that asking for five more minutes of sleep was always a waste of time. That could have been an extra five minutes in the shower so you could start your day. After all, training was your life. When you weren’t training, you were either eating or sleeping.

Unfortunately, your injury had taken all that discipline away from you. For the first time in your life, you wanted to hit snooze on your alarm. The rehab center asked you to show up so damn early. All that rest and recuperation messed with your inner sleep schedule. It was horribly inconvenient.

Regardless, you persevered. Your resilience was quite possibly your only redeeming trait amidst several bad ones.

When you stumbled into the rehabilitation center on your crutches and looking like death, you were met with two women already waiting for you. One of them was probably your doctor, she had cropped reddish brown hair and she looked professional in that white coat. The other one was wearing dark blue scrubs. She had dark hair and this mischievous glint in her eye.

The doctor noticed you and approached you with a warm greeting. “Good morning Miss Luthor. Did you rest well?”

“Well enough.” You replied.

The doctor and the one in scrubs exchanged looks before looking back to you. It almost looked intimate. Maybe you read the mood wrong but they were definitely more than just friends. They assisted you towards a chair. A quick look around told you that they weren’t lacking equipment or staff. All they really needed was your own dedication to recover.

“I suppose introductions are in order. I’m Alex Danvers. You can call me Dr. Danvers or Alex, I’m not very particular. My associate here is Maggie Sawyer, she will be your physical therapist.” Your doctor stated formally.

Your ears perked up at the mention of a particular name.

Pulling your mouth into a deep frown, your eyes narrowed at your doctor. “Any relation to—“

“Yes. Kara Danvers is my sister. Will that be a problem Miss Luthor?” Alex cut you off sharply.

Just from her tone alone, you sensed a strong sisterly bond and a loyalty that ran deep. Still, no matter how strongly you felt about the other Danvers, you had no quarrel with this one. “No, it won’t be a problem... Dr. Danvers.”

“A little hard to believe when you say our family name with so much mirth.” Alex quipped with a smile. It was light banter, not meant to antagonize you in the slightest.

“Alex, then.”

Alex shook her head as she started looking at what appeared to be your medical chart. No doubt it contained further details on your knee from the good doctors in Moscow. “I dare say, Miss Luthor, we may even get along much better than you do with my sister.”

You smiled wryly. You had a feeling you’d like Alex. Too bad the sister didn’t possess the same qualities. “Stranger things have happened.”

“Things like losing to my sister several times in a row?” Alex replied without missing a beat.

Maggie immediately looked alarmed at that bold statement while you simply narrowed your eyes at the good doctor. Nevertheless, the smile on your face persisted. You were especially fond of people who didn’t give you bullshit. “You have guts saying things like that to my face.”

“Again, stranger things have happened.” She threw your own words back at you.

Maggie shot Alex the one of the coldest glares you had ever seen in your life and she immediately clamped her mouth shut. Point taken, it seemed. That look only confirmed your suspicion that they were probably involved, in a very romantic way. “Luckily for you, Lena— are you okay with me calling you that? I’m not big on formalities.” Maggie interjected.

“Go right ahead. I don’t like formalities either.”

“Right as I was saying. Luckily for you, the face you’ll be seeing more often would be mine. Unlike this one over here, I don’t have a death wish.” She said as she casually nudged at Alex with her elbow.

After dramatically rolling her eyes at Maggie, Alex dragged her eyes back towards her clipboard. “Moving on. According to your doctors back in Moscow, your surgery went well. I don’t foresee any complications, the only real obstacle here is your own fortitude.”

Then she started scrawling some things on a paper and passing it over to Maggie who nodded at what was written on it. “We’ll worry about getting back into shape later. For now, let’s concentrate on regaining your ability to walk.”

“We’ll be doing standard stuff first. Ultrasound to loosen up your muscles, Electric Stimulation to help restore muscle strength, and of course doing exercises.” Maggie informed you as she waved around the paper Alex gave her. It turned out to be specific instructions, almost like a prescription but for physical therapy.

“And I know you’re dying to start training. I’m sure all this lying around is making you restless but it’s very important that you don’t rush this. Overexertion can be more detrimental to you than the injury itself.” Alex told you with this stern voice that told you she was used to using it.

“Do you have questions?” Maggie asked you.

It was fascinating that the two of them were giving you the rundown like one solid unit. It’s one thing to finish each other’s sentences, it’s another to keep adding paragraphs in perfect unison. You liked them.

“What can I expect?” You asked them. You may have googled what physical therapy usually entailed but you ended up knowing far less than you originally did.

“For one thing. The muscles around your knee haven’t been moved for a while. They will be tight and uncooperative. It’s going to be a struggle for the first few sessions.” Maggie replied quickly.

Your eyes drifted down to your knee, while the surgery incisions healed nicely and would scar minimally, you couldn’t even begin to imagine moving it. You were too fearful to risk anything. You were determined, yes, but not stupid. Right now your knee still had a few bandages on and you wore the knee brace the doctors in Moscow recommended you get. It was to prevent movement while your knee healed.

Now that it was time for you to start regaining what you lost, a tiny sliver of doubt had found its way into the back of your mind.

“The first session is always scary, but I guarantee you that with today’s medicine, ACL tears are but a minor inconvenience. I’ve helped a lot of fencers and other athletes recover from this. You’re not the first one here.” Alex reassured you. No doubt she saw the look on your face and knew exactly what you were thinking.

“You just happen to be the most famous one.” Maggie remarked with a grin.

You leaned back and crossed your arms. “It sure does look good on you guys if you get the credit for bringing me back to the strip.” You said with a grin.

“That’s the idea yes. But undoubtedly, we are the best in the country. Plus we cater to fencers. Much better then going to a normal rehab center.” Alex told you with pride.

“Also this one over here was personally recruited from the nation’s leading sports medicine center. The people here are really serious about making this place a reputable rehab facility.” Maggie bragged as Alex flushed slightly.

Scratching her cheek Alex continued to peruse your chart with greater focus in an attempt to stop getting flustered. “Yes. Well I do work hard.” she replied awkwardly before shaking her head. “Enough of that. Let’s talk about you, Lena.”

You shuffled uncomfortably in your seat. “Me? What could you possibly want to know? My life is public.”

Alex shrugged at you casually before looking behind her. She found a nearby chair, dragged it near you, and took a seat. “I don’t care about your career statistics or the early life section of your Wikipedia page. I’m your attending physician, I’d like to get to know you.” She replied cheekily.

Maggie cleared her throat as she crossed her arms. “What she means is she would like to familiarize herself with you as a person. We don’t care about the world’s best Sabre fencer.”

The corner of Alex’s mouth quirked up. “Best is... debatable.”

You scoffed at Alex and gave her a look of disbelief. “If this is your bedside manner doc, then we’re off to a real good start.”

Alex grinned. “Oh, I knew you’d see it that way.”

“So ah...” you started as you leaned back on your chair and tried to get comfortable. “Where do you want to begin?”

Alex tucked her hair back and looked at you like a grad student would with their dissertation. It felt oddly academic and you felt scrutinized. “I won’t ask anything too personal. That’s none of my business. I just wanted to know where you see yourself five years from now.”

“Five? Why not shoot for ten, that sounds way more long term.” You deflected.

“Because ten years from now you’ll be thirty-eight and that’s when most veterans start looking for something else to do.” She replied curtly.

“Why does this matter?” You grounded out, refusing to meet Alex’s eyes.

“I need to know your life goals. I need to know how much we’ll have to put you through. If you’re only goal is to walk then you don’t need to be here. If you were truly as stubborn as they say you are then you would have found a way to stay in Metropolis and do rehab there. But here you are in National City. That tells me you’re serious about your recovery.” She stated.

“The physical therapy alone will be immensely difficult but getting you to full functionality is actually the easy part.” Maggie interjected. She probably sensed that you were starting to get defensive and that was true. She was surprisingly observant or maybe she was just intuitive.

“To fence at your level, Lena, we will put your body through the wringer. We will have a tight schedule if you’re shooting for Rio. We need to know what you want.” Alex added.

Of all the questions to ask, it had to be the one you were most conflicted about. You’d been asking yourself that ever since you crumpled down the strip in pain. Your brother knew not to push so he never outright asked you what you wanted. Corben would support you no matter what so he never popped the question either.

You had to face it at some point. You couldn’t run from it forever.

What did Lena Luthor want?

Not even god knew the answer to that one.

Your hands had been clenched into fists as you considered the question. Finally you drew your eyes back up to the both of them. “I know that this is important but is it okay if we just work on achieving functionality first?” You asked meekly. 

Alex and Maggie resisted the urge to exchange glances, you could tell. Still, Alex nodded at you firmly and closed her folder shut. “No problem. Just remember that you’re in charge.” Alex told you.

Maggie awkwardly cleared her throat. “So if you have no further questions, we can begin your first session.”

Alex shoved one hand into the pocket of her coat and looked towards Maggie warmly. “You’ve got this handled?” She asked.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you on speed dial babe...” Maggie said far too casually before realizing what she had just called Alex. Her eyes immediately shot towards you and she dramatically covered her mouth, the whole ordeal was almost comical. “Oops.”

Alex’s face was the picture of calmness but you quickly caught her brief moment of panic. Her eyes nervously shot towards you.

You must’ve shocked the both of them when you started laughing as your immediate reaction. They seemed so panicked. Rest assured you were definitely the least of their worries. You calmly raised a hand up to stop them. “If it makes you both feel better, I already knew it from the minute I walked in here.”

Alex’s cheeks flushed slightly. “I’m sorry. We’ll be more professional.”

You shook your head at them. “No need. It’s clear that you both make a great team, behave however you wish.”

When neither of them spoke immediately, you sighed. You were a fairly private person and you disliked opening up to people but they seemed trustworthy. They also seemed to genuinely not want to upset you which made sense since they needed you for good PR just as much as you needed them to recover.

Before they could say another word, you had already beaten them to it. “What I mean to say is that I’m gay too so I get it.” You stated matter-of-factly.

You’d always known that you were attracted to women alone. Your own sexuality had always been a non-issue for you. It was just something that never really came up and no one thought to ask you about it. The moment you picked up a Sabre, that was it for you. Fencing became the only thing that mattered so you didn’t really have the time to explore how you felt about women.

Well, maybe you did have a teensy bit of time for a little fooling around. Nothing serious though. You were an all-work-no-play kind of woman.

Alex grimaced deeply and Maggie looked like she had just won the lottery. Their reactions made you all the more confused. Suddenly Maggie turned to Alex and held out her hand. “Okay, pay up.”

Alex rolled her eyes dramatically and shoved into her back pocket for a twenty. She roughly smacked the bill against Maggie’s hand with great dismay. It immediately dawned upon you what was happening. You furrowed your eyebrows and spoke. “Were you betting on whether or not I was gay?”

Alex sighed. “Fair warning, bets are really popular around here.”

“Is it true you had a fling with Elisa Micheaux?” Maggie interjected.

Now you wanted to roll your eyes. “Is that what the whole fencing world is speculating?”

Alex answered curtly. “No, just us lesbians. You’re both so very friendly sometimes.”

A slow grin spread across your face and you leaned back in your seat. “Then you should know I don’t kiss and tell.” You teased.

Alex’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates and Maggie looked like her lottery ticket was just upgraded to a golden ticket for the chocolate factory. She walked up to you and tried to shake your hand, you allowed her to. “Holy shit, these hands have touched Micheaux’s—“

“For the love of god don’t finish that sentence.” Alex blurted out, her face had just assumed a new shade of red.

Maggie grinned. “I like her, Alex. Can we keep her.”

Alex shook her head and appeared to have a migraine coming on. “I don’t know Maggie, can you?”

You couldn’t help yourself. You ended up bursting into laughter as they bickered away. You were right to like them both. Maybe this whole National City thing wasn’t so bad after all.

“Look at her Alex! She’s got a sense of humor.” Maggie joked.

“Oh for Christ’s sake, I’m leaving now Sawyer. Talk to you later and please don’t break her.” Alex finally groaned aloud.

You both watched Alex leave in a hurry, seemingly desperate to escape the mortification she felt in this situation. Her white doctor’s coat swooshed behind her and she was gone in a blur. Once she was gone, you looked back up to Maggie.

What now?

As if she had been reading your mind, Maggie suddenly spoke aloud. “I guess we get started. Nothing too strenuous, it’s only the first session after all.”

“What goes first?” You asked her.

“The ultrasound.” She replied. “Don’t worry, there’s no pain. It’ll feel like a strange massage. Wait here I’ll be right back.”

Then Maggie flew off to get whatever it was she needed. You slumped into your chair and sighed. It’s not like you could go anywhere else anyway. You’d obviously have to stay put.

Your eyes drifted towards the windows. It was nice how the rehab center didn’t feel stale and sterile like you thought it would. They allowed a lot of sunlight into the room, giving it some much needed warmth. Now that you had a chance to actually take a closer look, you noticed that even the rehab center had the same minimalistic white walls as the rest of the facility.

When you caught Maggie walking back towards you, you couldn’t help but feel nervous.

This was the first step to becoming you again. You hoped you would not disappoint.

 


 

Kara

The muscles in your thighs and calves burned but you loved it, the sensation felt amazing. As you chugged down this bottle of ice cold water, you felt great. Sweat beaded down the side of your forehead and your shirt clung to your body as you walked into the Fencing Center.

As soon as you walked in, you felt the sudden rush of the air conditioning hit your face. Boy that felt good.

You were immediately greeted by one Eve Teschmacher, the receptionist. While that was her official job description, she usually ended up doing a whole lot more menial stuff when required. She was always a friendly face.

“Good morning Kara, had a good run?” She greeted you all bright and chipper.

You walked up to her desk. “Absolutely. Anything happening around here yet?”

Eve smiled. If there was someone who knew the ins and outs of this place, it was her. One way or another, everyone used her as a pseudo-secretary. She knew everyone’s schedules and all the room bookings. Nothing really happened without her hearing about it. “Just the morning Cadet class so if you wanted to use that room, you’d have to wait for two in the afternoon. If you’re wandering about the vacancy of the gyms, the boys have them right now.”

You finished the water bottle and dumped it into the nearby trash can. “Have you seen Hank?” You asked her.

“He’s not in yet. He mentioned yesterday that he might be a little busy today. I’m sure he’ll text you if he can’t make your personal session.” Eve informed her.

“And anything fun going on at the moment?”

Eve’s smile transformed into a wide grin. “The illustrious Lena Luthor is in her first therapy session right now.”

“Is she now?”

Not that you were terribly interested in whatever it was she was up to but you had to admit you were curious. Who wasn’t curious. She was the Lena Luthor for crying out loud, everyone was wondering whether or not she’d bounce back.

And there were those who’d rather she didn’t recover but you were firmly on her side. You most definitely wanted her back on the strip and proving everyone wrong.

“I can tell that you’re dying to know.” Eve teased you.

You felt a blush creep up to your cheeks and you pretended that was from your run. “It’s just healthy curiosity. Perfectly normal.”

“Yeah, keep telling yourself that Kara.” Eve replied with this smug expression.

You rolled your eyes at her as you began walking away from her little front desk. “Whatever, Eve.”

“If you’re looking for Alex, she’s in her office. You know, just in case you want to subtly ask about your fencing hero.”

You walked around Eve with a frown and your steps were heavy in annoyance. “No one asked you, Eve.”

You didn’t stick around for her reply and immediately made for the locker rooms to grab a fresh towel. You’d probably take a shower once your body had sufficiently cooled down. You always ran for a full hour every morning, your body definitely needed to chill. Especially when it was still summer.

When you walked into the ladies’ locker room, you immediately found Imra Ardeen putting her fencing gear on. She had just started putting her breastplate on when she caught you walking in.

“Hey Kara. Help me out here will you? After yesterday’s gym hell, I can’t reach the Velcro. My arms hurt too much.” Imra asked, you immediately heard the discomfort in her voice.

Now Imra Ardeen was a bit of an oddity as she clearly wasn’t American. That much was obvious with the British inflection in her accent. She did, however, have dual citizenship for America and the U.K and that was good enough for the USFA to grab her and never let go. Imra was an extremely talented Foil fencer. Currently she was the best female Foilist in the country and currently the fourth best in the world. Unfortunate as she once was at the very top.

In your generation, America had a lot of top fencers. Undoubtedly, that just added to your country’s already large ego.

Without another word you were already helping Imra out with her breastplate. You didn’t stick it too tight though, lord knows how much the breastplate could dig into your sternum if it was too tight.

“Thank you Kara. If you had arrived any later I’m sure you would have walked in on a pitiful sight.” She said with a smile.

You opened up your locker and grabbed a fresh face towel. You started wiping the sweat off your body making you feel less gross. “Why didn’t you just call that husband of yours for help.” You teased her.

Imra shot you a look as she started fishing for her fencing jacket. “Are you trying to be funny, Danvers?” She shot back but a smile was playing on her lips.

You bit back a laugh and shrugged at her innocently.

Even the Fencing Center had its fair share of drama. Every athlete here was serious and intense, the relationships reflected that too.

Imra and Mike were pretty infamous around these parts. Especially Mike.

Mike Monel was one of those annoyingly talented assholes everyone loved to hate. He was great with a Foil but generally he was kind of a dick. Considering how responsible and nice Imra was, the idea of them dating was beyond weird. It came as a surprise to everyone how good they were together.

Imra made him a better human being and Mike made her more daring.

Now they were married. In fact, they just got off their honeymoon a few weeks ago. Everyone was teasing them because things were still so new.

“What? You like it when we call him your hubby.” You retorted with a grin.

Imra flushed slightly. “You’re not wrong.”

You casually leaned against the locker and crossed your arms. “So why are you gearing up so early?”

“Oh. I’m helping out the Cadet class by agreeing to spar with all of them.”

“Don’t beat them up too badly.” You joked.

Imra chuckled. “I’ll try to keep their dignities intact.”

By the time Imra was all geared up and ready to spar, you already changed into one of those sports bras you could wear in public and threw a light jacket on top of it. With a fencing mask tucked under one arm and with a foil in hand, Imra looked every bit the Olympian she was. “See you around, Kara.”

You nodded quietly and waved your hand goodbye. When she left the room, that was when you closed your locker. With a towel hanging around your neck you decided to drop by your sister’s office for fun, and not because you wanted to ask about a certain someone. Why did people assume you wanted to stalk the poor girl or something just because you were a fan?

You quickly climbed one flight of stairs, barely glancing at the rooms you passed by to get to the stairwell. Your sister’s office was simply right next to the rehab center on the second floor. While the Center administration offered your sister a lofty office space on the third floor where all the offices and dorm rooms were, you sister declined. She was a doctor, it made no sense for her to be so inaccessible to her patients.

As you passed by the rehab center, it took a great deal of restraint not to peek inside. Lena Luthor was clearly a very private person and just peering in at her recovery seemed invasive. In the very least, you doubted she would enjoy you watching her struggle. You weren’t entirely sure if you did something to specifically offend her but her distaste for you was extremely obvious. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that you did do something to offend her, you just didn’t know what it was.

When you knocked on your sister’s door and didn’t get an immediate reply, you tried to turn the door knob only to find it was locked. You knew right away that she was off elsewhere, her absence was the only reason why her office was locked. With a sigh, you couldn’t help but peer into the rehab center adjacent to Alex’s office. There were only so many places Alex could be in. Maybe she was still working with Lena.

At first, you were happy to find Maggie dressed in her usual blue scrubs, but then you felt the guilt wash over you when you saw Lena. You felt intrusive. On one hand, you simply wanted to look for Alex. But on the other? It was difficult not to let the curiosity win you over. Not when the object of your fascination was sitting a mere fifteen feet away from you.

Common sense dictated that she would bite your head off for encroaching upon her privacy.

Sadly, common sense was not your strongest suit. Your instinct won over and without another thought, you walked into the rehab center.

At first, Lena didn’t notice your presence. Why would she after all? She wasn’t expecting anyone else to be here. Maggie was also slow to notice you because she was busy moving the ultrasound over the gelled up portions of Lena’s leg, particularly around her knee. But when your rubber shoes made this loud squeak against the floor, you immediately stopped in your tracks. Your heart sank in that moment and you suddenly understood how Indiana Jones felt when he accidentally triggered the giant boulder trap.

It felt like it happened in slow motion. The moment Lena turned her head back, you could already see the oncoming glare. She was angry, undoubtedly. What surprised you however was how fast her anger disappeared once those cool green eyes of hers were fixed upon on you. Instead, you watched her jaw clench as she took on a face of resignation.

You hadn’t realize how stiff and tense you were until Maggie was waving at you. Thank god. Maybe she could be the buffer between you and Lena.

“What’s up little Danvers?” Maggie greeted you.

Lena looked forward and ignored you. That was fine, in some ways you preferred it this way. Though then again, you had a tendency to put your foot in your mouth when faced with awkward situations. It’s why you couldn’t seem to stop talking around her.

“Hey there, Sawyer. Have you seen my sister around?” You asked her. Then before you could stop yourself, you ended up glancing down at Lena. “Hi.”

Lena refused to meet your eyes, you did however notice her knuckles turn white from clenching her fist too hard. “Hi.”

Lena’s greeting was curt and cold, you anticipated this.

“She just left for her office. Is she not there?” Maggie replied to you. Her attention was back on running the device in her hand over Lena’s knee.

“Her office is locked.” You stated.

Maggie shrugged. “Come back in two hours, she’ll be back here to wrap up this session.”

You nodded slowly as you started back down at Lena. Before you could stop yourself, more words came out from your traitorous mouth. “So how you getting on? Is Maggie treating you well?”

Lena turned her head a tiny fraction towards you but she didn’t turn to look at you completely. “Well enough, I suppose.”

“Gee, thanks Lena.” Maggie quipped sarcastically.

“At least you don’t antagonize me.” Lena replied. That was the friendliest you’ve ever heard Lena be.

Maggie grinned. “Well. No one ever said Alex was the smart one.”

Interesting, you thought.

Did Lena already have Alex and Maggie pegged?

While you had a tendency to run your mouth off, you weren’t completely dense. You knew how to read the room and you could tell that Lena would be way more comfortable with you out of the picture. Not wanting to linger any longer than you have to, you quickly said your farewells and walked out of the room.

As soon as you were out of earshot, you couldn’t help but feel angry with yourself. “Idiot.” You berated aloud.

What possessed you to walk in there as if you were welcome? A better question would be what was wrong with you?

You ended up hitting the showers downstairs, still stewing over your own social ineptitude.

 


 

Lena

“Brrrr that was cold, Luthor.” Maggie commented dryly as she finally finished up with the ultrasound.

You closed your eyes and inhaled deeply. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Maggie gave you this disapproving look. She grabbed a towel end started wiping the gel off your leg. “I’m not really judging but you could have been a little more—“

“Friendly? Why should I be?” You cut her off.

Maggie smiled wryly. “I was gonna say something along the lines of being less of a dick, but that works too.”

Could you have been nicer? Yes.

But did you want to be nicer? Well no.

Kara Danvers had absolutely no business being here. If she had any ounce of social intelligence in that brain of hers, she should have found it obvious that she was unwanted. But no, she had to be her endlessly optimistic self and that still pissed you off. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the whole picture.

What annoyed you was that one very brief second you spent checking her out. It was almost like an automatic response.

The amazing thighs and ass were a given. She was a fencer after all. But never in your life has your body looked like that and you were a consummate pro.

When she walked into this room in that sports bra she had no business wearing, your anger dissipated so fast you felt ashamed. You couldn’t help but stare at her strong torso, taut and tight as a drum.

She definitely did more than the recommended workout.

You certainly didn’t miss the muscle definition in her arms when the fabric of her jacket shifted, exposing those strong lines on sun kissed skin. It took every ounce of restraint to stop yourself from going slack-jawed.

In that moment, your brain short-circuited and that was the only reason you could think of as to why you couldn’t stay angry with her.

With the way your body reacted, you were so blindsided you could barely look her in the eye.

This was another momentary lapse of sanity you would never allow again. Even if Kara Danvers was hot—objectively speaking— there was simply no excuse for it.

“I’m just saying, she technically dragged you here. You could be civil at least.” Maggie continued and you hadn’t realized she kept talking.

“She didn’t bring me here. I brought myself here.”

Maggie waved you off as she finally finished wiping your leg off. “Semantics.”

You rolled your eyes at her, not wanting to take this from her anymore. What did it matter if you were nice to Kara Danvers or not. The only thing that mattered right now was getting back to one hundred percent. You weren’t here to make friends.

“What’s next?” You grounded out.

Maggie put the ultrasound equipment away. “Electric stimulation. Think of it like the mildest and gentlest form of electrocution.”

“Yeah, you’re not doing a good job of endearing me to it.”

Maggie laughed. “Yeah, Alex is mostly the fancy words person. I have zero tact.”

“Well you’re no Kara Danvers.” You quipped.

She ended up throwing her head back in laughter as she walked away from you, presumably to get the equipment for the electric stimulation. “I’ll give you that one.” She shouted back at you from across the room.

As you waited for Maggie to come back, you irritation kept grew with each passing second. This was your first session. This was your first step to recovery. It was supposed to be this significant moment that you’d been gearing up to. All those sleepless nights spent anticipating this defining moment when you thought you could feel like you again, even for just a millisecond.

Yet despite your best efforts, you couldn’t seem to banish Kara Danvers from your mind.

Even when you finally put weight on your right knee for the first time in two and a half weeks, Kara never seemed to fully leave your thoughts. Here she was, stealing your thunder yet again.

How utterly infuriating.

Chapter Text

Lena

You’d just spent the last five minutes chastising yourself for skipping out on dinner because you were sleepy. Ordinarily, you strictly followed your schedule of three meals a day, training, then getting at least eight hours of sleep. Unfortunately, all this therapy stuff was draining. You found yourself napping at the weirdest times after your morning therapy sessions.

It was now approaching midnight and you were hobbling your way towards the elevator, hoping that the 7 Eleven downstairs had something decent to eat. At least it was open twenty four hours. Maybe you could get a hotdog or something, hell maybe you could get a Slurpee too while you were at it. You hadn’t had one since you were kid.

You were pretty sure Alex was going to scold you for going against your dietary needs but she did say you were in charge of your own recovery.

And well... you wanted a Slurpee.

You finally managed your way to the elevator and impatiently jabbed at the button. It didn’t take long for the elevator to arrive, there were barely any people here at this hour. As you got on for the short ride down, you tried shifting your weight onto your recovering knee.

While Alex told you not to baby it, she also told you not to overdo it. With only a few therapy sessions under your belt, you still had to walk around with crutches for that extra support.

Therapy had been a bit of a downer to be honest. Before you even attempted to extend your right leg on the first session, Alex was measuring the degree of extension on your leg. Mainly how far could you stretch out your leg and if you could pull your knee towards you. While the mere measurement was a little disheartening, Alex reassured by telling you that everyone was different. There was no set standard.

But it had been a few sessions now and the stretching was the worst part. Nobody said therapy wasn’t going to hurt but the pain couldn’t exactly be helped. Maggie had to help you gain full range of movement first before they could focus on strengthening exercises, to get your body used to the reconstructed ACL. The most you felt lately was borderline miserable.

Therapy wasn’t the only source of your misery, however.

Being so close to fencing made your heart ache. The most you could do was watch sparring sessions and exercises from afar. You immediately missed not being in your fencing gear despite how sweaty and gross it made you feel. You missed feeling the heft of your Sabre in your hand. You missed the ferocious speed of your sport. It took a lot out of you just to keep your distance and lurk from afar.

You didn’t expect to miss it all this much. That was surprising but despite how much you missed it, you still weren’t so sure if you wanted to keep competing. You were still very much undecided when it came to your future in the sport.

As you walked out of the elevator, your was head swirling with vicious thoughts. With nothing to preoccupy your head, you were now a slave to every single insecurity you ever had. The worst of your thoughts simply kept plaguing you in all this quiet.

What brought you out of your misery was a sound.

The sound of someone repeatedly hitting a cushion.

You brought your head up immediately and noticed that one of the fencing halls was lit up. Only a single light in the corner of the large room was lit up. When you peered in, you couldn’t help the small gasp that escaped your lips.

There in the darkness, illuminated by a strong light, was Kara Danvers.

Dressed in a sports bra and joggers, she had been repeatedly lunging at the wall cushion. Her golden hair was tied into a tight ponytail; this was usually how you remembered her. You observed her footwork as she reared back and went for a lunge. You were intrigued when you realized she was trying to lunge farther and farther. It took a lot of effort not to suddenly laugh when you realized that her haphazard lunging was making her greatly unstable. Every time she went for a far one, she would nearly topple over.

It was funny to watch but you knew as much as anyone that this wasn’t healthy for her. It was almost midnight for crying out loud. No one should even be here.

You glanced around you before looking back into the open fencing hall. This was one of the larger rooms that didn’t have a door, it was all open concept. Kind of like the rehab center upstairs. True enough, there was no one around. Just you and Kara.

The more you watched her, the more you had to admit that there was something about her that made it almost impossible to look away from her.

Kara Danvers was oddly mesmerizing.

It made you wonder if you had that quality too. Would anyone say that about you?

If anything, you knew how everyone called you cold and calculating behind your back. Everyone thought you were a robot with a human face. How could someone like you ever have that wondrous quality Kara Danvers had. No wonder everybody liked her. She was far too easy to like, very much the complete opposite of you.

When Kara finally stopped dropped her sabre, the loud metallic clang startled you. A sound escaped from your throat and when you watched her head slowly turn, panic gripped you. Without thinking, you quickly hid behind the wall and winced at the pain brought on by the sudden movement.

When you heard no further movement from the room, you peeked around the wall and found that she was busy packing up her stuff. You ended up watching the way her muscles tensed and flexed as she bent over to pack up her belongings.

The moment you noticed that weird flutter in your stomach, you shook it off immediately and started walking away. You were here for food, not to play stalker to your mortal enemy.

It didn’t matter whether or not Kara heard the soft thud of your crutches hitting the floor, what mattered was that you got out of there quickly. By the time you were within the safe confines of the convenience store, your labored breathing was just the result of your own struggle to walk.

It absolutely had nothing to do with Kara Danvers.

 


 

“Come on Lena, one more stretch yeah?”

You nodded at Maggie begrudgingly. Who knew therapy could hurt like a bitch sometimes? When it was apparent that you’d been glaring at her, she gave you a reassuring smile.

“Trust me Luthor, I don’t enjoy this anymore than you do.” She told you warmly.

You grimaced and you couldn’t help but glare daggers into Maggie, the obvious source of your pain. She shrugged of your glowering as she held your thigh and your calf firmly. “I know you hate me right now. Last stretch and we’re done for today.” She continued.

You nodded at her grimly and redirected your death stare towards the blank white wall behind Maggie. You gritted your teeth and your hands clenched the arm rests of your chair. Without waiting another second, Maggie started moving your leg and you groaned aloud.

“Motherfucker.” You hissed as you tried to bear the pain. It wasn’t the worst pain you’ve ever felt, the moment your ACL tore was far worse, but the prolonged pain made it feel pretty bad.

Still you knew this was helping. Whenever Alex measured the range of your motion, you always had a few more degrees and you were moving closer and closer to a one-eighty degree extension. That was the goal more or less, then the strengthening exercises would follow. You still had a few ways to go before you could even begin to walk like you used to.

You weren’t sure if it was because you’d grown accustomed to the pain or it was just Maggie being merciful today, but she finally stopped stretching your leg. It ended faster than you anticipated, thank god. You felt her hand rest on your shoulder reassuringly.

“You did good today Lena. You took it like a champ, good job.” Maggie told you proudly and it did make you feel a little better about the whole ordeal.

“Sorry for glaring.” You said sourly.

Maggie chuckled. “It’s fine. I’ve done P.T for bigger guys than you and they howled as if they were dying. You’re not so bad.”

“I know you’re just doing your job.”

“Exactly.” She said as she started packing up all the towels she used on your early. “I’m just doing my job and you’re just doing yours. No harm, no foul.”

You couldn’t help but stare up at Maggie in admiration. “You must be so goddamn patient.”

“Not a lot of things test my patience.” She replied matter-of-fact. “But believe me when I say that you’re doing well. We’re right on schedule and that’s really the best anyone can hope for.”

“Because going too fast is a bad thing.” You concluded from what was unsaid.

“Mmhm. Rushing one’s recovery is always a bad thing.” She agreed as she finally grabbed all the stuff she used earlier. “We’re done for today so you can go do your thing now. No need to wait up on me.”

Go do your thing? You had no thing to do, so to speak. God you were boring.

It was around lunch time, someone was going to pass by your dorm to drop off one of those planned meals meant to help you keep a strict regimented diet. They tasted adequate enough but a burger would be infinitely more satisfying.

At this point in your recovery, you didn’t require much assistance to stand up and get on your crutches. You had a system now. So without losing momentum you pushed yourself up with your arms and put most of your weight on your working leg. Then you grabbed your crutches and were able to redistribute your weight a little more evenly.

As you stared at the empty rehab center, you couldn’t help but feel lonely. You were just as empty as this place. After this, you had nowhere to go to. No wonder you napped so often, it gave you something to do.

Maybe you should sign up for Netflix. You never had time for it before but now? Maybe it was time to reconsider. Factoring in how often Lex made these obscure pop culture references all the time, perhaps you could finally catch up and understand what all the fuss was about.

With Netflix in mind, you started making your way back to your dorm room on the third floor. The moment you hit the hallway, you were immediately faced with a very animated Kara Danvers chatting with an unenthusiastic Alex Danvers. Honestly, did the girl ever get tired? Every time you saw her, she was like a full battery waiting to explode from too much energy. Meanwhile Alex looked like she had just consumed one too many Red Bulls in a feeble attempt to stay awake.

Alex was the first to notice you and she approached you almost immediately. “Hey Lena, how’s the leg?”

You shrugged. “The usual. Just sore from the inhuman level of stretching Maggie gives me.”

Alex smiled wryly. “It’s the healthy kind of pain, you’ll get used to it. If it’s any consolation, I think we have an appointment soon. We can match your progress to actual numbers you can measure. Make the whole recovery process a little more tangible.”

“That sounds great.”

Alex casually shoved her hands into her coat pockets while Kara stood idly behind her. Ordinarily, Kara Danvers would have been talking more than you’d like by now. She was unusually quiet and seemed more than content to let Alex do the talking. Did she suddenly gain more tactfulness overnight?

“So you going back to your dorm? What are your plans for the day anyway?” Alex asked you nonchalantly.

Was it acceptable to say you had nothing to do?

With great resignation, you casually looked away from her and announced your grand plan. “When I’m not doing our morning therapy sessions thrice a week, I don’t have anything to do. I was thinking of setting up a Netflix account but I’m still not quite sure how to do that yet.”

You tried not so look embarrassed as you told Alex, and Kara too, that you were a boring person with no social life. You didn’t even have hobbies. Fencing had been your everything and now you were left with nothing.

Alex raised an eyebrow and for a moment you could have sworn you saw pity flash across her face. Still, her poker face game was strong and she let nothing show. “I was just going to a lunch meeting so I can’t help you out.” She started to say before remembering her sister was there with her. “Why don’t you get Kara to help set you up on Netflix.”

Your jaw immediately clenched.

“She’s like a golden retriever, absolutely restless. Plus she has far too much free time for someone who’s supposedly training for the Olympics.” Alex teased.

All this time, Kara was pretending not to be a part of the conversation. When she heard her name, she suddenly stood at attention.

Just like a golden retriever, you thought amusedly. All that’s left was for her to wag her tail.

“E-Excuse me?” Kara stuttered.

Alex smiled. “Help Lena out with her thing. I’m going to that lunch meeting now so you can stop pestering me.”

“Sure, I’d be happy to help.” Kara immediately replied with a wide grin, further affirming that she didn’t really have a mean bone in her body. Her natural state was just boundless energy and never-ending optimism.

“Perfect.” Alex settled. She actually seemed glad to be rid off her sister, that was interesting. Well that’s how siblings usually were. You could love your siblings all you want but at the end of the day, there was such a thing as too much of them.

Before you could get another word in, Alex had completely abandoned you. Slowly, you turned to face Kara and she did the same. An awkward moment of silence passed before you decided to just get on with it. “Come on, Danvers. Upstairs.”

Kara nodded slowly as she followed you closely when you started moving towards the elevator. While you were always thankful for any kind of assistance, you weren’t so sure about her. Of all the people to be stuck with, it had to be her. You had some strong words prepared for a certain sports medicine doctor.

“I think I told you to call me Kara.” You heard say meekly.

Clearly the cold aloofness of calling her by her surname was something she was unaccustomed to. That made sense considering that she was Miss Congeniality around here. No one really had the audacity to not be friends with her and you weren’t sure if anyone actively disliked her. Well aside from yourself that is.

“Does it matter?” You nearly growled. You quickly reigned in your anger and tried to remember that it was better not to go and bite her head off.

“No. You can do whatever you want.” Kara blurted out awkwardly.

You inhaled deeply, keeping your temper in check. When you both approached the elevator, you allowed Kara to press the button for you and the two of you stood around awkwardly while you both waited for the elevator.

“So how’s your day so far?” Kara asked politely. A gentle smile was strewn across her face and as far as you can tell, she was being genuine. Clearly she didn’t do well with silence.

“Tolerable.” You replied curtly.

“Is Maggie being nice to you?”

“More or less.”

“And Alex hasn’t been rude?”

“Not at all.”

“That’s cool.” Kara said, finally understanding that you didn’t want to talk. If there was a single pet peeve that never failed to grate on your nerves, it was the almost obligatory need to fill silences with awkward small talk. It was the worst kind of social torture.

You were a straightforward person. You liked directness and you absolutely hated beating around the bush. Having her do that to you was great for your already ignited nerves. It took a lot of effort not to suddenly lash out at her. You had no idea why but being around her in any capacity seemed to bring out this rage. You’d known it had been bubbling inside you for a while but you didn’t know how volatile it was. One more unwanted word from her and you might just burst into flames.

It was an absolute miracle when the elevator finally arrived. You both entered without uttering a single word and went to the next floor in silence. Once the short ride was done and over with, you both were walking towards your room.

The hallway was empty and the only sound you could hear were your collective footsteps resounding and echoing off the walls. The moment Kara passed you by—her walking speed was a little faster than yours— you noticed that she was walking around in this black dri-fit shirt and her fencing breeches, the suspenders were hanging off the sides. She wasn’t wearing the proper socks either, electing to just wear normal ankle socks with her rubber shoes instead. How very casual of her.

Without giving it much thought, a question flew out of your mouth. You didn’t know what possessed you in that moment. “Don’t you have training?”

Kara seemed surprised that you chose to speak to her at all. She immediately beamed at you and slowed her pace to match yours. “I have a session with my coach later, after lunch. He’s a busy guy and my attention span is awful in the morning. Afternoon training suits me just fine.”

Afternoon and midnight training?

It was all too easy to remember the sight you walked upon a few nights ago. She was up until midnight, practicing her lunges. No, not just practicing. She was deliberately trying to extend her reach beyond her What was possible for her. Personally, you felt it was excessive. Her lunges were always perfectly fast and explosive, why did she need to have that extra distance?

“But surely you must do something in the mornings.” You replied. Any self-respecting athlete wouldn’t just sit idly by just because their trainer or coach was unavailable.

Kara shrugged. “I run for an hour in the mornings. The distances I run depend on my mood but I always run the same time everyday. Then depending on my agenda for the day, I either hit the gym or strengthen my footwork before my proper session. I don’t like not doing anything.”

And then she puts in some extra work past facility hours, you thought to yourself. All of those things were definitely not healthy on her part. She was young, that’s why she didn’t feel the repercussions yet but she would inevitably wear herself out one day.

Still, what did you care. One less rival to worry about if she went down right?

There was a halfhearted agreement somewhere in your own thoughts but that didn’t sit well with you. The idea of it left a poor taste in your mouth. Maybe you weren’t such a hard ass after all.

“People like us don’t really have time for anything else do we?” You mused. You quickly realized what just came out of your mouth and immediately clamped up. You were thinking it. You didn’t mean to say it aloud.

Kara looked at you with her eyes a little wider. “Well. I try to do other things otherwise I’d feel boring. I’ll admit that it’s not easy though. Sometimes I think it’s better to just drop the other stuff and focus on fencing.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

You finally looked at her in the eye and nearly flinched at how startlingly blue her eyes were. It felt like they were piercing right through you. How unnerving.

“Don’t drop your life for the sport. It’s not worth it.” You said sincerely and you meant it. If you were going to have at least one genuine thing to say to her, it was this.

Kara nodded slowly, her eyes never quite leaving yours. This intangible connection between you made you feel odd. It felt like she could uncover your layers and find that there was nothing to you. Whatever praise she lavished upon you in the hospital room back in Moscow was unfounded, you knew that.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Kara finally said. Her voice was soft and gentle.

As soon as you got back to your room, Kara started tiptoeing around you out of misguided courtesy. She looked around the room in amusement, it was obvious she’d never been in one of the dorm rooms before.

“Woah is that your bed?” She suddenly blurted out.

“Yes...?”

“You actually have a better mattress here than I do at home. Geez, what am I doing with my life?” She pondered aloud.

You rolled your eyes at her and sat down on the edge of your bed. Setting aside your crutches as you watched Kara fawn over your dorm room.

“Why do I even bother owning my own place when I can just stay here?”

Kara was making you immensely impatient and it was starting to grate on your nerves. You had to move things along. “Kara.”

“Yes?” She said but only after blinking twice at you first. She must’ve realized you called her by name, no doubt that was a win in her book. She was far too easy to please.

“Netflix?”

She flushed every so slightly. The word adorable suddenly flashed through your mind and you had to mentally take a step back. You immediately flushed that thought away and returned to the task at hand.

“Right, of course.”

Kara walked up to your TV and turned it on. She started messing around with the settings, all of these things you’ve never bothered to learn before.

“Looks like your TV has Netflix preinstalled which is great. We just need to set up your account. Well if it’s all the same to you, there’s also YouTube and Hulu—“

“Focus, Danvers.” You nearly snapped at her.

Kara briefly frowned and she tried not to let it show but she was too much like an open book. If she was finally getting irritated with you then good. It was nice to see that she wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine.

She looked around casually before looking right at you. “Do you have a laptop or something?”

You pointed towards the laptop bag on the floor next to the desk. “Yeah over there.”

Wordlessly, Kara brought out your laptop and just when she was about to sit down at the desk, she must’ve remembered that you couldn’t stand without the extra effort.

Kara awkwardly sat next to you as she brought up the website. For the next ten minutes, she was doing most of the talking. She set you up on free trial first but she did show you how to put in your credit card on your own. Her own nervousness was making her talk a mile a minute and it was ticking you off.

What really set you off was when she started to shake her leg and therefore made the bed shake. This was so annoying. Why did she have to be so irritating. Unable to keep your temper in check, you couldn’t help but finally break.

“For the love of god, can you just get it over with?” You raised your voice.

Before you could have the chance to feel an ounce of regret for raising your voice at someone who didn’t wholly deserve it, Kara silently put your laptop aside and the air of the room suddenly shifted. When she finally stood up, Kara was glowering at you.

“What is your problem!?” She snapped.

“I don’t know what you mean—“

“Bullshit.” Kara cut you off. “You know exactly what you’re doing.”

She started angrily pacing around the room and scoffed when she saw your fencing equipment in one corner of the room. “Did I do something to you? Did I do something to personally offend you, your highness? I’m just trying to do my own thing over here and you just seem so hellbent on hating me.”

“You’re supposed to be this great person. You’re Lena Luthor, you’re the best Sabreur alive!” Kara started waving her hands around in pure exasperation. You had no idea she had this much bite to her, despite the fact that she was angrily shouting at you, your intrigue only grew by the minute.

She suddenly stopped in her tracks and gritted her teeth. “I can’t believe I ever admired you. Do you have any idea how much I’m inspired by you? You were my role model.”

Your jaw clenched but you didn’t allow anything to betray your expression. “As they say, you should never meet your heroes.”

The look on Kara’s face almost made your feel guilty. She was one of those people who could barely conceal what they felt and the look she held for you was bordering on contempt. “Is that all you have to say for yourself?”

“I don’t have to explain myself to you. Not when you have everything and I have nothing.” You seethed.

Kara could scarcely believe what she was hearing because she looked like she didn’t believe you. “Y-you think I have everything?”

“Why don’t we just agree that this is awful for the both of us and that maybe you should just leave.” You stated firmly.

Kara ran a frustrated hand through her golden hair. “Fine.”

Kara very nearly stormed out the room but before she completely left, she lingered by the door. She glared at you for a moment but then her eyes softened and she just looked sad. “I don’t know where you got the impression that I’m out to get you. Trust me, I’m not. I want you back out there more than anyone else here so get off your high horse and think on that why don’t you.”

Then she slammed the door shut and you were left to your own thoughts. You stubbornly stuck to your anger and continued to remain agitated. Even now, there was still no clear reason why Kara Danvers angered you so. Not even you understood why, it was so irrational.

You leaned back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

Of course she had everything. She was twenty-three and she could already match you. She was young and beautiful so of course she would get all those endorsements you had. The USFA probably wanted her to be the new face of U.S Fencing. She had everything you did.

What’s worse was that you achieved all of that by being focused and it was a lonely path. Meanwhile everyone just seemed to love her and she had so many friends. You only had two important people in your life now. She had way more than you ever did.

Why couldn’t she see how lucky she was?

What an infuriating woman.

To make matters worse, you still had to figure out Netflix. This whole thing just left a poor taste in your mouth.

Chapter Text

Kara

You didn’t mean to snap at Lena but she was being such a bitch to you. Yelling at her felt so good but regret came down on you like a ton of bricks the moment you left her room. You’d been stewing over it for about a week now and so far you’d been doing your darnedest to avoid her. It was fairly easy because Lena rarely ventured down to the first floor where everyone usually was. Avoiding her wasn’t the hard part.

You wanted to apologize for your outburst. It was a little uncalled for. Lena was going through a difficult time and her attitude was a perfectly normal byproduct of her current situation. You understood her behavior but it didn’t necessarily mean that you condoned it. How she was treating you was awful nonetheless.

You inhaled deeply and retreated a few steps back. Tightening your grip on your Sabre, you advanced and used the momentum to transition to a full out lunge. As soon as you landed the hit with the tip of your Sabre, you quickly lost your balance. This was something you’d been trying to fix lately but to no real success.

Instead, most of what you’d been doing at this ungodly hour was taking your anger out on the wall cushion. Lena seriously pissed you off and you weren’t one to get angry.

And what did she mean by ‘you have everything’?

You most certainly did not have everything. If you did then you’d be a lot happier right? Jesus Christ, what was that woman’s problem? Was she so petty that losing to you a couple of times made her this bitter and resentful towards you? If so then she really needed to get over herself, pronto.

After failing to complete your next lunge, you decided to take a breather. The main reason why you were doing this late night exercise was precisely to weed out your weaknesses. The only person capable of defeating you right now was sleeping two floors above you, and while she never won, she most certainly gave you a hard time. Even when she was always distracted by something in every match against you, there were some maneuvers you did that didn’t fly past an unfocused Lena Luthor.

One of those things were your lunges.

She would immediately guess how far your reach was and would always bait you into falling short on your attack. The one time you caught her off guard with just your lunge was when you tried to reach far beyond what you were physically capable of doing at present. It was incredibly unstable and stupid of you to even attempt it in the first place.

If you kept doing it that way, you were bound to slip up on your footing and injure yourself. You once brought this up with your coach, Hank Henshaw, but he immediately shot you down. He preferred that you didn’t needlessly do crazy things and consequently hurt yourself in the process. Alex supported him on this too.

So sometimes you snuck into the Fencing Center late at night for some extra training. Even you knew it was a bad idea but you simply couldn’t let this go. Lena Luthor was a tough opponent and you’d see her again soon enough on the strip. And when she comes back, you wanted to be ready for her. If anyone saw you doing this, they’d call you crazy. Mostly because no one really believed that Lena could bounce back.

Despite all her faults, you still believed in her nonetheless. It was foolish yes but you knew there was more to her than what she often pretended to be. The Lena who glared at you and threw harsh words at you with her acerbic tongue was not the Lena you faced on the strip. She was multifaceted and you wanted to know what made her tick.

There was something about her that made you want to know her.

Once your legs finally settled and the burn in your thighs faded away, you immediately assumed the En-Garde position. You kept your grip nice and loose, it was difficult to control if you gripped your Sabre too tight. Once you felt mentally prepared, you went En-Garde and prepared to lunge. Just when you started to push on your back leg in order to propel you forward, you heard a noise.

Immediately looking behind you, a blur moved past the open section of the wall leading into the hallway. This room was the largest fencing hall and consequently, it didn’t have doors. You quickly jogged over to see if anyone was there.

A small gasp escaped your lips when you saw Lena Luthor’s back. She was limping towards the exit and you could hear the steady thud of her crutches hitting the floor. For the briefest of moments, you thought to call out to her but then you remembered how awful she was to you the other day.

You were prepared to return to the hall and resume your practice when you heard the telltale sounds of someone struggling with the door. You double-backed into the hallway and caught Lena trying to pry the heavy door open. The security guard on duty was asleep and unable to help her. Oddly enough, the sound of her struggling with the door failed to stir the guard.

With a resigned sigh, you walked towards her.

Lena was trying to use her body weight to leverage the door open but if she used too much force, there was a good chance she would fall over. You understood the dilemma as you always thought the doors to this place were unnecessarily heavy.

Without announcing your presence or attempting to greet her, you strode up next to her and pulled the door open for her.

Lena stared up at you for a while. She looked sleepy and tired but there was also surprise on her face. You looked back into those familiar green eyes and saw none of her usual fire in them. Odd.

“Thank you.” She mumbled to you as she started walking out.

“Your welcome.” You replied curtly.

When she walked past you, you caught a whiff of this amazing scent. It somehow reminded you of autumn but you didn’t understand how your brain made that connection. It was a very warm and earthy scent and it lingered. Only when Lena was gone did you realize it was coming from her. Autumn was a strange thing to equate to Lena. It was a season full of change and warm colors, two things you would never think to associate with her.

Well now. If she was going to be a bitch, she might as well smell amazing. It was a fair trade off.

On that note you resumed training. The next time you stopped to take a break was when Lena passed through the hallway again. For a moment, your eyes connected with hers and there was this tense moment of uncertainty. All of a sudden, you felt like apologizing to her but then Lena broke eye contact and limped away.

When she was gone, you only then realized that you’d been holding your breath.

If it was going to be this tense between the two of you then you sure as hell didn’t like it. You weren’t used to this animosity. People usually liked you and you liked them right back. This was new territory.

Glancing at the clock on the wall, you decided to pack it up. After training this long, you knew you weren’t going to see much improvement now. You were tired.

Also, you couldn’t get Lena out of you head. You felt too guilty about her to expel her from your thoughts.


 

It happened again a few night later. You were back in the large fencing hall, still trying to smoothen out your weaknesses, when Lena Luthor passed through the hallway once more. You had no choice but to see her, that hallway was the only way out of here.

It made you curious why she was up at midnight so often. Your only assumption was that she was probably buying one of those microwaveable meals from 7 Eleven outside. You mostly dropped by the convenience store for a few Gatorades but you were never there for the food. Was she not eating well enough?

You actually debated whether or not you should follow her. The decision was made for you when you heard the sounds of someone struggling with the door. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you made a reminder to file a complaint to management. Those doors were becoming unreasonably difficult now.

You walked out towards the exit and were correct to assume that Lena was struggling with the door again. If she did this often, you wondered how she got the door open without you. You watched her try to yank it with her body weight to no avail. When she heard the sounds of your rubber shoes squeaking against the floor, she turned to face you. If you didn’t know any better, you’d say she looked faintly embarrassed.

“Hi.” You greeted her.

Lena was silent for far too long. “Hi.”

You watched Lena give the door one more try before finally giving up. She turned to you with conflicted eyes. “I’m sorry. Can I trouble you with the door?”

You nodded slowly. “Of course.”

You pulled it open for her effortlessly and Lena quietly thanked you as she exited. It was an exact repeat of the other night. You looked behind you and found the same security guard napping away. Not even the sound of a gunshot could wake him.

You made another split second decision you were bound to regret and followed after Lena, the curiosity won over. And besides, you wanted a Gatorade. It was midnight and you wanted a Gatorade. This had nothing to do with the fact that you were low key concerned about Lena even though she was the last person to deserve any kind of concern, at all.

The moment you stepped out, you realized it was raining outside. Right now you were dressed in a simple t-shirt and joggers that stopped at your calves. It was a good thing you always brought those lightweight windbreakers with you on most days, going home later would be a cinch.

You watched Lena disappear into the 7 Eleven and followed suit. As soon as you entered, you couldn’t find her right away. It took a quick trip along the isles to finally find her and when you did, you had to admit it was a hilarious sight.

The world’s ranked one female Sabreur was getting a Slurpee.

You bit back a laugh and grabbed a Gatorade first before you attempted to approach her. With a grin, you couldn’t help but sneak up behind her.

“Buying Slurpees now are we?”

Lena nearly jumped. “Motherfucker... oh it’s just you. Jesus Christ, don’t scare me like that.”

It was confirmed, Lena had a potty mouth. You didn’t know why this amused you. “I thought you were one of those ‘my body is a temple‘ types.”

Lena gave you this unamused look. “That was before my injury.”

You grin grew wider. “So you like Slurpees huh?”

For a moment there you thought she was going to glare at you but instead, she fixed her mouth into a firm grimace. She didn’t like being teased, that much was obvious. “I did when I was a child.” She stated.

“And how about the twenty-eight year old version of you today?”

The corner’s of her mouth lifted every so slightly. “She likes them but she’s confused about the new flavors.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. I haven’t had anything remotely unhealthy in a while.” You told her.

Lena, for some odd reason, considered this carefully as she took a more contemplative expression. Then her overall demeanor changed when she did the unthinkable.

Lena smiled at you and you suddenly didn’t know what to do with yourself. You were always met with her scorn and occasionally you saw a smug expression but she never smiled at you. It was so bizarre. “Let’s have ice cream then.”

“Y-you want ice cream?”

“If I’m on this downwards spiral, I might as well drag you down with me. It’s the least you can do before you take over my life.” She replied jokingly.

There it was again. That tinge of spitefulness on the tip of her tongue. Every time she spoke to you, it was always there. It tugged on you unpleasantly and a sour feeling settled deep in your stomach.

“Sure.” You finally replied.

You both quickly bought two cones, one vanilla and one chocolate. Along with Lena’s Slurpee and your Gatorade, it was an odd purchase overall. Not that anyone would care.

It was even stranger when Lena suggested you both sit on the stairs leading up to the Fencing Center. It was covered with a small roof and the rain wasn’t strong enough to spill onto the both of you. She said something about not wanting to go back inside yet and wanting to enjoy the coolness the rain brought. In some ways she was right, it was still too hot outside during the day. This was a nice change.

When she sat down on the steps, she didn’t seem to struggle as much as she used to but she still had a ways to go. You sat down next to her and licked the top of your ice cream off, savoring the taste of manufactured sugary goodness. You hadn’t had ice cream in a while. It was the curse of being an athlete.

Still, Lena was acting really strange.

For a while, the only thing you heard was the sound of rain gently hitting the pavement. The air was cool, bordering on chilly and the sometimes the occasional car passed by. It felt calm and honestly, you couldn’t remember the last time things were this quiet. Just when you got comfortable with the silence, Lena started talking.

“I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this.” She said.

“Maybe a little.” You replied.

Lena licked her ice cream. “I don’t blame you for being wary. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been pretty awful to you.”

You remained silent, not wanting to interrupt any form of actual sincerity from her.

“I... I’ve been wanting to apologize for what happened. I just didn’t know how to approach you and I didn’t know if you even wanted to talk to me after all of that.”

When Lena seemed to not know what else to say as she had this baffled look on her face, you sighed. “Could you tell me why? I’ve been thinking about it too and I don’t have the faintest clue on what I could have possibly done to you.” You asked her.

Lena sighed deeply and her eyebrows furrowed. “It’s... even I don’t quite understand it myself. Whenever you’re around, I get so riled up. Just looking at you makes me angry and I’m not sure why. It’s so irrational.”

Now you were also frowning. “But you’re the one who feels that way, you tell me.”

Lena leaned back and slowly licked the sides of her ice cream. She’d been hunched forward this whole time. “I’m sorry. I’ll have to think about that first.”

“Great apology by the way. You know how most apologies are constructed with a: I’m sorry, here’s what I did wrong, here’s how I’ll do better?” You scoffed.

“I know that. I’m not five.” Lena retorted.

You both pondered over this quietly. Lena looked like she was deep in thought and you realized this was the first time Lena was anything but irritated with you. Every time you saw her, she was always itching to leave. Then you remembered the one thing that bothered you most every time Lena lost her temper. She was always saying this particular thing.

“You said that I had everything.”

Lena looked at you and blinked once as the words rolled over her. “Oh.”

Oh, what?”

“Oh.” Her voice turned grave.

You waited for her to tell you what she was thinking and kept licking away on your ice cream patiently.

“This is going to make me look bad.” She told you quickly.

“That’s kind of the point of an apology. It implies that you did something that makes you look bad.” You replied. The corners of your mouth were tugging upwards.

Lena sighed and she visibly look nervous. “Yes well... I think the reason I don’t like you is because I’m... er... afraid of you. Please don’t make fun of me, I’m trying to figure this out.”

Wow. Okay, you didn’t expect that. Everyone knew you wouldn’t even hurt a fly. Why would someone like Lena Luthor ever be afraid of you.

“Do I scare you?”

Lena nodded slowly. “More like... I feel threatened by you.”

“Why?”

She shrugged. “You’re everything that I was and now that I’m getting older and I’m recovering from an injury, no one would want to bet on me. Why bet on an older horse whose already had its heyday?”

Of all the things she had to say it had to be the one thing people kept telling you from the very beginning of your career. You couldn’t help but feel that uncomfortable coil in your gut, it was an unpleasant truth you had to contend with.

It was always: Kara Danvers, the next Lena Luthor.

You were going to be the next Lena Luthor and you wanted none of that. All you ever wanted to be was yourself. Be the best on your own merits and not because you were Lena’s clone or Lena’s replacement. You couldn’t go one second without your name being associated with hers.

“I’m not you.” You grounded out.

“You might as well be anyway. You have everything I used to have and more. Sometimes I wonder to myself just how much more is that woman going to take from me.” Lena mused.

You abruptly stood up and watched Lena’s shocked expression, she clearly didn’t know what she did wrong this time. Your jaw clenched and you faintly felt some of your ice cream dripping onto your skin. “I haven’t taken anything from you.” You said, very nearly raising your voice.

“I have taken nothing from you. Whatever your problem is right now has nothing to do with me. Don’t you see that you still have everything?” You cried out.

Lena’s jaw clenched and the fire returned to her eyes. “I can feel myself growing more and more irrelevant by the second. Soon, people will forget me. Your name will be the only name people know.” She seethed.

“Why would anyone ever forget you!? You’re goddamn Lena Luthor. You are the exact reason why I’m standing here today!” You yelled right back. Jesus, why did the woman have to be so melodramatic?

“What does that even mean?”

“It means that if I never saw you fence, I wouldn’t be here fencing at your level.” You admitted. You never really wanted her to know how much her existence meant to you as an athlete.

Lena looked alarmed. There was no doubt in your mind that she never wanted admirers nor did she want anyone to look up to her. “People aren’t responsible for other people.”

“And I’m not saying people should be. I’m saying that your fencing inspired me to be here.” You started before dumping your ass back onto the pavement indignantly. “All I ever wanted was to meet you.”

“And now you’ve met me. I’m sure you’re disappointed.” She scoffed.

You looked her right in the eye just to make sure she knew how honest you were being. “I’ve never had any illusions about you. I’ve heard stories... about how you’re a perfectionist and you’re disciplined. Your technical bladework and footwork are practically works of art but I’ve also heard that you have the social skills of a fish. Trust me, you’re exactly how I imagined you.”

Lena seemed to be at a loss again, not quite sure how to respond to that. “So you’re not disappointed?”

You shook your head. “No, I’m plenty disappointed. I can’t believe you’re giving up so easily. You’re prideful and stubborn, but you’re not a quitter.”

Lena smiled wryly. “Maybe I just learned humility.”

“I highly doubt that.” You replied, smiling.

Another moment of silence passed and it didn’t feel so unpleasant. It gave you both time to process. The quiet gave you both the much needed space to breathe. Things got a little too intense for a second there.

“Our ice creams are melting.” You observed.

“No shit? I didn’t notice.” Lena replied dryly.

“Don’t be a dick.” You said after a quick laugh.

You recognized something within the moment. Despite the remaining dissonance between the two of you, and while nothing had truly been settled, there was a level of understanding inhabiting the air around you. Maybe you both didn’t agree on a lot of things but you understood each other just a little bit more.

Sometimes understanding was enough.

“I think I’ll go home now. You good here?” You said as you started to feel the time you spent awake finally weigh down on your body.

Lena nodded, she had this faraway look as she stared out onto the empty street. The rain had grown lighter by now and it was more than possible to walk in it. You were going to stand up when Lena captured your attention. She turned her head and when she looked at you, you were immediately disarmed.

You then realized that you haven’t really been looking at her. Not properly at least.

Her fencing was beautiful but then so was she. Now that her defenses were lowered and she was unguarded, there was something mesmerizing about her present vulnerability. Her anger was gone now and so was yours. Now you were just two people sharing a moment in the rain.

Ignoring the way your chest grew heavy at the mere sight of her, you stood up slowly. You ate the last bits of your ice cream cone, you made a slow trek towards the door.

“Goodnight Lena.”

Lena didn’t seem make any sort of movement as she continued to sit on the step, still staring out into the street. In some ways she was resembled a statue.

You opened the door and at the very last minute, you heard her voice.

“Goodnight Kara.”

On that note, you left for the fencing hall feeling more conflicted than you’ve ever been and it had everything to do with Lena Luthor.


 

You slipped on your footing again. It was getting late but you couldn’t bring yourself to up and leave today. You looked at the mounted clock on the wall and noted that it was a quarter to two in the morning. You’ve been up training for far too long, this was going to bite you back in the ass.

Somehow, you felt like you were getting it. You had an idea on how to execute it but you couldn’t seem to get your body to cooperate with you, it was frustrating you to no end.

But then were you really frustrated about your lunges? If you were being honest, the true source of your frustration was Lena. Not even a full sincere conversation was going to stop her from avoiding you like the plague. You thought that you both had come to an understanding of sorts. What happened to all of that progress. Right now it felt like nothing had changed.

For curiosity’s sake, you asked your sister about Lena. Alex did mention to you that Lena had been a lot more contemplative lately. She was always so deep in thought. The only real reaction Alex and Maggie could elicit out of her was when they had to stretch her leg out.

It had been a couple of days since that rainy conversation. You didn’t have the luxury of wasting time over worrying about her. You were training for the Olympics, Lena should have been the furthest thing from your mind.

Unfortunately for you, she never really seemed to leave your thoughts. Your mind kept drifting to the way she looked at you in the rain. She was so vulnerable and so beautiful. It was hard to fathom how one woman could be so strangely captivating. There was this warmth to her that most people didn’t see.

You attempted another far lunge. You extended your body to its furthest reaches. You arm had been outstretched to the maximum and you were pushing your knee to lunge deeper. You knew you could do it. Achieving the lunge you wanted felt so close, you could almost reach for it.

You went back to the En-Garde position and that was when you heard the voice you’d been wanting to hear.

“Have you tried doing a marching attack first?”

You looked back and nearly squeaked out loud when you found Lena standing there. You felt a blush creep up your cheeks. She was staring at you with this serious expression, there was this intensity in her gaze. You glanced down and found her holding another Slurpee.

When you didn’t reply immediately, she looked mildly irritated. “Have you ever fenced Foil before?”

You shook your head in reply.

“It’s kind of like an attack in preparation. March up to the cushion first so you could get more momentum. Maybe it’ll stop you from falling short.”

When Lena was sure you understood her, she started walking away again. She was already gone before you could thank her, much less stop her from leaving. She was moving a lot faster than when you last saw her. Maybe you were imagining things but she seemed to be a lot more comfortable with putting more weight on her bad leg.

You repeated Lena’s advice in your head and tried to absorb it.

You moved farther back and started marching like she told you to. Once you had gained enough distance and momentum, you lunged. Pushing on your back leg as hard as you could, you launched yourself towards the wall cushion and landed on stable footing. The tip of your Sabre just barely touching the cushion but this was the first time you were able to lunge this far. This was your target distance.

Why did Lena know how to fix it?

This was good enough for you, at least for now. You’d been pushing yourself over the last hour and any more training would have been seriously unhealthy.

Still, you couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot.

Chapter Text

Lena

“I can’t wait for summer to be over. I know we’re blasting the air conditioning in here but the moment I step outside it’s like an entirely different realm.” Maggie complained.

Maggie was just about done wiping the gel off your leg from when you were doing the electric stimulation. She told you it was like a gentle continuous zap but it just felt weird and buzzy, as if your nerves were vibrating. While you controlled the current of electricity, it always just felt strange and not at all like being electrocuted. It was easy to come to the conclusion that Maggie was just messing with you the first time around.

Admittedly, both Alex and Maggie had grown on you. You’d been doing regular therapy for a month or so now and you definitely could say you were getting better. There was actual progress.

For one thing, you could actually go around the building without your crutches as a fallback option. While you couldn’t walk like you used to, getting around was easier. Albeit you did walk like a penguin but still, progress was progress.

And while Maggie and Alex kept drilling into you that there was no standard timeline for recovery, Alex did say that if you were still planning to make it to Rio then you were making good time. It was her goal to get you walking around in a month. She was also hoping to get you back to normal by the third month.

But she did say that even if they got you to a level where you could fence again, there was no guarantee you would be on the level you needed to be for the Olympics. You had a tough year ahead of you.

You casually glanced outside the windows. It looked like today was going to be hot and humid. The sun was shining and the skies were all clear and blue. You could almost feel the heat just by looking outside.

“At least it’ll be September soon. It might be warm but thank god it won’t be humid.” You replied.

“Ugh, the humidity is the worst part. If the air was drier then maybe I could deal with the heat better. But no, we all have to feel sticky and gross in the summer.” Maggie scoffed.

You shrugged at Maggie as you lowered your leg from the chair it was propped up on. “The weather in Metropolis was a lot more eclectic. Things are much milder here. In the very least, the weather doesn’t dip into extremes.”

“I’ll give you that. Well are you ready for some exercises?”

You nodded at Maggie. Right now they said they were working on your extension. The goal in general was get you to stop depending on your functional leg. They usually made you do hamstring stretches first just to try and get you to flex the muscles that needed stretching. Occasionally they would make you walk around on crutches though lately they’ve been allowing you to walk around the room without them.

More often than not, Alex would be taking notes as you did this.

Sometimes they’d get you to do some walking on the treadmill and sometimes you were on the stationary bike.

While Alex did explain to you the whats and the whys, you never fully understood it. Maggie did attempt to soften up the terms but she was awful at it. You ended up not understanding them all the more. All you knew was that you were physically getting better.

“Always.” You replied. The exercises were happening whether you were prepared or not.

“Okay, get on the examination table. I’ll go get Alex so we can assess what should be done today.” She told you with a smile.

You did as requested. It used to be much more difficult getting up on the examination table. On your first few sessions, you needed Maggie’s help. At least now you could do it by yourself without much trouble. It made you feel a little happy.

A few moments later, Alex showed up with that clipboard of hers.

“Good morning, how’s the knee today?”

You smiled. “Feels pretty good. It’s nice to put more weight on it.”

“Not too much I hope. But you’re doing well if I do say so myself.” Alex said with pride. “Anyhow, stretch out your leg please.”

You did so and noted that you still had a few more degrees to go for a full extension. Once Alex jotted that down, you pulled your knee towards you so she could measure that too.

“Not too shabby, Luthor. So we won’t be starting your strengthening exercises yet. We want you to achieve full weight-bearing first. That means by the end of this week, you won’t have to use crutches for that extra support.” She told you matter-of-factly.

She quietly scrawled away a few more things before bringing her eyes back towards you. “However, we’ll put you though a little more physical stress today. It’s best to get your knee accustomed to a lot more weight as soon as possible. We’ll start off by doing a few laps around the room, unaided by crutches. I think you can handle that by now. Then we’ll do a few rounds on the stationary bicycle. I want you to push with your right leg as much as possible, we want you to be less reliant on your functional leg.”

Alex paused to breathe before continuing.

“Followed by some wall squats, Maggie will show you the proper way of doing it so you don’t hurt yourself. If you can handle some more after that, maybe some terminal knee extensions with resistance but that depends how you are after the squats. Does this sound good to you?”

You swallowed thickly at all of that information and nodded slowly. You wouldn’t have been surprised if you physically turned pale at the prospect of doing wall squats. “Sounds terrifying but I’m ready.”

Alex laughed but gave you a reassuring hand on the shoulder. “If all goes well, maybe I’ll give you a lollipop.”

“What are you, a dentist?” You joked.

Alex looked genuinely confused. “Your dentist gave you lollipops?”

“Yours didn’t?” you replied, equally baffled.

“That sounds counterintuitive.” She said pointedly.

The sudden silence that fell upon the room only allowed all three of you to suddenly burst into laughter. By the time it ended, Maggie had laughed so hard her stomach was staring to hurt while you and Alex nearly had tears from all that laughing. That felt really good. You honest couldn’t remember the last time you laughed this hard.

Or felt like you had friends, for that matter.

This was really nice.

“You know what, Luthor? Get through the wall squats and we’ll treat you to dinner. I’m pretty sure you haven’t gone out to explore National City yet. It’s no Metropolis but it’s pretty great in its own way.” Alex finally said after she managed to settle down. She was still wiping tears from her eyes.

You couldn’t help but grin. “You’re on, Doc.”

When you started your walking exercises, there was a little more spring in your step. You felt oddly motivated and it had been a while since you’ve felt this way.

 


 

Kara

You were humming.

That is to say, it wasn’t entirely unusual for one such as yourself to hum. If anything, it was large indicator of your current state of contentment. You were in an extremely good mood and it was all thanks to a certain disagreeable individual by the name of Lena Luthor.

She helped you out whether she knew it or not. She sparked an idea in your mind.

As you walked towards the rehab center, Slurpee in hand, you knew there was a ninety-nine percent chance that she would immediately shoot you down. You were holding out for the one percent. After all, the idea was kind of crazy.

Who in their right mind would ask their rival for help? Especially when said rival thought you were the worst thing to ever happen to her. Still, who would you be if not an optimist?

As you climbed the stairs leading up to the second floor, you had to admit that this was a pretty cheap tactic. Trying to get her to help you while she was distracted was a long shot. You also considered annoying her to death but then she might not speak to you again, ever.

Well, it’s not like this was an entirely good idea. It was an impulsive one for sure and you were rolling with it.

Immediately upon arriving at the rehab center, you heard loud pained grunts. You didn’t spot them right away until you took several steps inside the large room. There near the back, Lena was doing squats by the wall and she looked so red. Maggie looked supportive while Alex was taking down notes with a smile on her face.

Interesting.

You strode up to all three of them and smiled. “I wasn’t aware that physical therapy was actual torture.”

All three women looked at you in surprise. You rarely ventured out here, especially while Lena was doing her therapy. The act was similar to poking a sleeping dragon. You looked at Lena who was completely red in the face and sweating like crazy, she was glaring at you. But then you realized, she wasn’t glaring at you specifically, she was simply trying to cope with the wall squats.

“Tell that to your sister. She’s a goddamn sadist.” Lena said through gritted teeth.

Maggie smiled amusedly. “It only sucks today. I promise it’ll be way easier next time.”

“If I survive.” Lena quipped harshly.

You gave Alex a funny look and she simply shrugged back at you. “She’s only rushing through this because there’s free dinner on the line. I’ve reminded her that she could take her time doing a full rep.” Your sister told you.

Lena made another funny strangled noise and it took a lot of willpower not to laugh. She accomplished another wall squat slowly before taking a brief moment to lean against the wall just to breathe. She looked at you again with a funny look, having just realized that you were actually here. Then her eyes trailed down and you knew she was staring at your peace offering.

“Is that a Slurpee?” She asked you, her voice sounded strained but there was genuine interest.

You nodded smugly.

She looked like she was about to ask if she could have it before she flinched, probably remembering that you both weren’t friendly enough for that. Lena spent a good minute staring at your face with a great deal of scrutiny. Then ever so slowly, her mouth began to fix itself into a hard line.

“You want something.” She stated.

“I do.” You affirmed.

Lena warily glanced at the other two people in the room before redirecting that gaze towards you. “Why do I have a bad feeling about this?” She said aloud.

You smiled nervously. “It’s not awful, I promise.”

Lena clearly didn’t believe you even if it was true. This would cost her nothing and if anything, you were the one begging here. “Are you bribing me with a Slurpee, Danvers?” She accused.

You thrusted the Slurpee towards her in response. “Absolutely.”

Maggie and Alex were looking at you, all wide eyed and shocked. You could hear the unsaid words in the air, asking you if you had a death wish. They were also probably wondering why Lena Luthor would ever be bribed by a Slurpee.

Lena’s eyebrows furrowed as she kept her eyes fixed towards the Slurpee. “That’s a really cheap tactic.”

“I know. And it’s melting fast.” You grinned.

Lena sighed defeatedly. “I do like Slurpees.”

At that statement alone, Alex and Maggie began shooting each other looks. It was some kind of couple’s telepathy. Still, they remained silent. Probably wanting to watch this play out.

Finally, Lena outstretched her hand and made a motion with it. As if she were demanding it. You placed the ice cold sugary beverage on her hand and she sighed contentedly the moment she pulled the straw to her lips and started sipping on it.

“Okay, what do you want?” Lena finally asked after she pulled herself away from the straw.

“Your help.”

“With?”

“Lunges.”

She raised an eyebrow at you before narrowing her eyes at you. “Are you talking about that stupid thing you keep doing? You’ll hurt yourself... not that I care. Maybe we can both bond over rehab.” She said sarcastically.

You rolled your eyes at her dramatically. “You didn’t stick around to watch me. I nailed it.”

Lena kept that scrutinizing look firmly fixed on you. “Well you certainly didn’t nail it again if you’re actually asking me for help.”

“But you gave me great advice.” You retorted.

Lena smiled wryly. That caustic smile of hers was becoming more and more infuriating each time you saw it. It annoyed you because she clearly hid behind it but also because her smile was kind of amazing. “Because watching you was pitiful. I didn’t want to be responsible for Team USA losing at the Olympics because you were too busy being injured.”

You ignored the happy flip your stomach made when you realized Lena gave you an indirect compliment. Well it was either that or she had absolutely no faith in Lucy Lane’s fencing. “Well, do it again. Dispense to me your sagely wisdom, oh wise one.”

“Hilarious. Flattery will get you nowhere with me and besides, you don’t need the help. I shouldn’t have to lift a finger for you.” Lena scoffed after giving you this unamused look.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need you.” You replied with determination.

“Why?”

Before you could reply, Alex had physically put herself between the two of you. “Before you both start fighting, can we finish her session first. Talk later.” She stated firmly. When she was using that tone, you knew there was no further room for discussion. She was putting her foot down.

“We weren’t going to fight.” You pouted.

Alex raised an eyebrow at you in clear disbelief. “You, I can believe.” She stated before narrowing her eyes at a still red-faced Lena happily sipping her Slurpee. “But you? Can you honestly tell me you weren’t going to pick a fight with her?”

The corner of Lena’s mouth quirked up. “I make no promises, Doc.”

Alex sighed in exasperation. “I knew it.”

Quietly chuckling in the background, Maggie composed herself and started nudging you towards the exit. “You’ll have to come back later.” She told you apologetically.

“I can’t.” You said matter-of-factly. “I have training, this is my only free time.”

Maggie pondered over this before looking to Alex. “Babe, do you wanna bring Kara to dinner?”

Alex looked up from the clipboard she was perusing and shrugged. “I personally don’t care...” she started before looking towards Lena with great trepidation. “Do you mind?”

“Can she behave?” Lena shot back without missing a beat.

Your sister started massaging her temple as if she suddenly experienced a headache. “That’s technically a yes.”

“Where do I meet you guys?” You asked.

“Noonan’s.”

“Ah yes, a National City classic.” You said with a wide grin before pointing to Lena. “Order the chicken pot pie, you won’t regret it.”

Lena simply narrowed her eyes at you as she continued to sip away. Perhaps she was trying to make you leave by glaring at you but she was far too tired from the exercises and far too pleased with her Slurpee to look threatening. Still, you got the message loud and clear.

“See you later, Kara.” You sister shooed you off. This was her way of getting rid of you nicely. She was keeping her head down, trying to look busy by pretending she was reading that chart of hers.

You weren’t one to stick around when you were clearly unwanted. It made stomach feel unsettled knowing that you were the intruder in this situation. It had become apparent to you that your sister and Maggie had formed a solid unit here with Lena. You were always surrounded with friends and people you liked, you had to admit that this was one of the rare instances where you were on the outside. You were the third party.

Gritting you teeth, you left them to their thing. How strange it was to be the odd one out. You didn’t like the way it made you feel.

Then it occurred to you that perhaps this was how Lena felt. She always had this strange lonely look in her eye once the harsh bitterness slipped away. If so, then she must’ve led quite a solitary existence.

Of course, what did you know about her anyway? You were just Kara Danvers.

The Kara Danvers who made Lena Luthor irrationally angry.

 


 

Lena

You tried to swallow down that odd pill of insecurity building up in your throat. It pained you a little knowing that Alex and Maggie were deliberately slowing down their pace for you. They didn’t mind but you hated inconveniencing people. You didn’t want people to make the extra effort for you.

Still, this was a nice change of pace. The sun was setting over National City and it was lovely. Your initial impression of the city felt like it was a warm and welcoming place. It didn’t give you the cold distant feeling that Metropolis gave off in spades.

This was also the first time you’ve seen Alex and Maggie out of their work clothes. You’d known them for almost a month and saw them almost everyday but seeing them in everyday clothes was interesting. You were trailing behind them and you couldn’t stop this warm fuzzy feeling from enveloping you.

Alex and Maggie were holding hands without a care in the world. You’ve always wondered what that felt like. To have that kind of trust and comfort in a relationship. Watching them felt a lot like slipping into an old pair of well loved jeans, tender and warm.

In some ways, you envied them. You wondered if there was someone out there who could maybe fall in love with you. Of course, that was mostly wishful thinking.

“How do you like National City so far?” Alex asked you, she and Maggie slowed down their pace further just to speak to you.

“It seems nice. A lot more cordial and happy than Metropolis will ever be.” You replied.

“Sounds like high praise.” Maggie grinned.

You smiled awkwardly. “Well, I’m not exactly Metropolis’ biggest endorser. I grew up there yes— a city girl through and through— but I don’t feel much affection for it.”

“There are outliers in every city. People do leave National City for cities like Metropolis or Gotham— though I have no idea why anyone would move there with their crime rate.” Maggie replied before making a funny face near the end.

“I’m assuming if they’re anything like a modern day Al Capone then I’m sure Gotham sounds cozy.” You joked.

Maggie and Alex laughed at that, their arms swinging as all three of your strolled along in a pleasant way. The pub you were headed to was supposedly a short walk from the Fencing Center. Apparently, it was a popular late night hangout for most of the fencers at the center, especially the professional ones on the Olympic team. It wasn’t uncommon to find a fellow athlete or two having a beer and catching a break.

And according to a certain Kara Danvers, the chicken pot pie seemed to be worth it. If the comfort food was any good, you’d probably find yourself buying takeout meals more often.

Noonan’s was this old yet modern Irish pub sitting on the corner of the block. It looked classic out the front but peering into the window, the interiors seemed to be a hybrid of an old school speakeasy and new industrial steal beams. It had modern lighting by way of tasteful lightbulbs and artful string lights. There were lots of warm red brick walls pitted against deep wooden surfaces and chairs.

It was cozy and intimate, you liked this place immediately and you hadn’t gone inside yet.

When you did enter, you immediately noted the few flatscreen TVs hanging around the posts. They were displaying an ongoing football game— not the American kind. Then on the walls, there were photos and pictures. Mostly signed ones from famous fencers, mostly American. Then on the far back part of the pub, there was a wall decorated with a display of the three weapon types: a Sabre, a Foil, and an Epee.

This was definitely the local fencing hangout. You didn’t expect any establishment viewing itself as a sports bar to value your sport, it was flattering.

One of the larger portraits however was of a familiar man. Moving closer to it, you realized that it was a black and white photo of Hank Henshaw back in his heyday. He looked dashing in his uniform with a Sabre in hand. Somewhere in the background, you found a scowling John Corben, your very own coach, with a Sabre. He was sporting a Union Jack on his uniform.

“I see you found the pictures.”

The voice surprised you and you nearly jumped in reaction.

Turning around, you found Kara Danvers smiling at you. Her eyes crinkling as if she were truly pleased to see you. Her golden hair was confined in a loose pony tail. You immediately noted that she actually wore more than a hoodie this time. She was sporting her well worn jeans and a linen shirt buttoned low, quite literally stopping where her cleavage started. You could see the faint outline of her collarbone and immediately forced your eyes to look anywhere else, heat crawled up your neck.

Kara’s eyes were looking straight at the photos, thank goodness she didn’t catch you staring. That would have been so awkward. Honestly, what was happening here? Last you checked, you hated her. You weren’t supposed to be admiring how good she looked in that shirt nor entertaining the idea of actually flirting with her if she were a stranger.

Then you noticed the glasses sitting on top of her head.

“I didn’t realize you wore glasses.” You blurted out.

Kara kept staring at the photos on the wall. “I need them sometimes.” She replied as her gaze was fixed upon the wall.

“Haven’t you seen these before?” You asked her.

She smiled. “Yes. It’s just sometimes I forget how young Hank used to be.” Them Kara pointed towards the scowling young Englishman in the back. “That must be your coach. I’ve never really recognized him until now.”

You couldn’t help but allow an affectionate smile to surface. You did like the old bastard. “He’s not even looking at the camera.” You noted aloud.

“It’s a very candid shot. Every time I see him, it’s like he’s always frowning. Does he ever smile? If he keeps on that way, his face will sag like a—“

“Walrus?” You supplied. The thought had crossed your mind several times before.

Kara beamed at you, the smile absolutely reached her eyes. She was just so goodnatured and unassuming, so very unlike you. “Exactly!”

You resisted the urge to smile back at her. Her smiles were so bright and sincere, you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t melt a little at the sight of them. You also didn’t want to give her the wrong idea. If you gave her a tiny inch, she’d start to think you both were friends. You couldn’t have that. The last thing you wanted was to be chummy with her.

“So about what you asked of me earlier...” you started to say, just to steer the tone of the conversation. It was hard to keep her at arms length by collectively laughing over Corben’s scowling face.

“Did you change your mind?” She asked eagerly.

“Kara... I appreciate the gesture but I can’t help you.” You stated firmly.

Her smiling face fell a tiny fraction and she looked crestfallen. Great, now you felt bad. “Is there no way I can convince you?”

You kept your mouth fixed into a firm line. “I don’t believe so, no.”

With your firm tone and the coldness you tried to inject into your voice, you hoped to have dissuaded her. Her request was immensely inconvenient to you and all that extra training would be unnecessary. And besides, if she really needed this then she’d be working on it with her coach. For her to come to you, he must’ve said no or she herself must’ve known he would never allow such a foolhardy venture.

But then she never really did what you wanted her to do... did she?

Instead, determination was plainly written all over her pretty face and her blue eyes sparked with that same annoying quality that infuriated you to no end. “The night’s still young.”

You couldn’t hide the way the edges of your mouth quirked up. You were exasperated, but you were also amused at her foolhardy determination. “I’d like to see you try.” You challenged.

You didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that something about her challenging you like this thrilled you. It reminded you of the first time you laid eyes on her. It was around two to three years ago in Budapest, during the World Championship. She looked so much younger than she did today and she looked so inexperienced, so new. But the way she looked at you with that piercing gaze and her glowing blue eyes, it was so similar to the look she was giving you right now.

It finally occurred to you that what you saw was excitement. The thrill of a challenge.

And it was your own exhilaration being reflected back at you. That was one infuriating aspect of her gaze that never failed to tick you off.

How fascinating, you thought to yourself.

Indeed, the night was still young. Maybe she would surprise you. No matter how much you wanted to doubt her, Kara Danvers did have a track record for keeping you on your toes. You weren’t so petty that you would deny that.

With the way your blood raced at the idea of a challenge. It made you wonder if somehow, deep down inside, you wanted her to convince you. That would beget the question: why?

Refusing to understand the reasons why you felt the way you did, you walked away from the source of your vexation and moved into the booth where Alex and Maggie were.

The unease clung to your veins and did not appear to let go.

Chapter Text

Kara

Lena was being maddeningly difficult. On one hand, she seemed to be capable of friendly conversation. Then on the other, she would suddenly clamp up and distance herself completely. How utterly bewildering.

Dinner, however, was going swimmingly. Unfortunately, having a successful dinner was not your goal. You had an agenda tonight and you weren’t prepared to leave empty handed. Lena was going to help you by the end of the evening, you had to be optimistic about that because you were nothing if not optimistic.

Lena seemed to be aware of your abject stubbornness and was more than happy to use it against you. She knew you would never give up and seemed pleased enough to string you along forever. It was simply a matter of who had more patience. You were betting that she had a shorter fuse based on how fast she often lost her temper around you.

Maggie and Alex also seemed to be completely unaware that there was something afoot. Being the couple they were, they sat next to each other and remained enthralled with the other. It was as if they existed in their own bubble of bliss.

While the food was amazing— Noonan’s always had amazing food— it wasn’t enough to keep Lena occupied and let down her guard. Though it did please you to hear her sighs of contentment from having a good meal that wasn’t one of her planned dietary meals or a microwaveable meal from 7 Eleven.

“I told you the pot pie was good.” You said, your smile widening.

Lena narrowed her eyes at you. “You seem pleased with yourself.”

You shrugged casually. “I’m just genuinely glad you had a good dinner. You must be sick of your pre-planned meals.

Her eyes turned thoughtful, they usually did whenever she tried to come up with some witty or snarky comeback.

It was fascinating seeing her outside the realm of fencing. She looked so normal out here, having a casual meal as if you were all good friends. She was dressed in a light knitted sweater, soft jeans, and sneakers. She looked so nonchalant in this setting. Her hair was tied into a messy bun and even when she appeared to be hellbent on antagonizing you with rude quips and barbs, this was the most relaxed you’d ever seen her.

She looked so normal and not at all like the perfectionist who still remained the best Sabreur in the world, sans injury.

Especially when her face would melt into something much softer whenever she laughed at Maggie and Alex’s jokes, she looked so human. If she were any other woman, you might’ve found yourself drawn to her. But no, she was Lena Luthor. There was insurmountable history, at least there was for her. Even now, you didn't quite know what to think of her. All you knew was that she made you feel... uneasy. Neither in a good way or a bad way. 

She always reminded you of a marble statue from afar, even her own fencing was far too perfect. It was rarely marred with actual flaws. Though then again, in every match she’s had with you so far, you could only really describe her as imperfect. Filled with so many mistakes that it was so unlike her. You’d always wondered what went though her head and even now, as she sat so close to you, it was impossible to figure her out.

“You know what, I’m not even going to be mean about it. The chicken pot pie is excellent and my regular meals taste like ass.” Lena sighed, finally giving you a bone.

“We’ll make a regular out of you yet.” You teased her.

Lena didn’t seem to agree with you but she made no move to contradict you. She glanced around the pub with a careful eye. “Some of the people here look familiar. Also they’ve been staring at me for a while, so they must be fencers.”

You glanced around and found the usual suspects. You weren’t sure if now was the time for introductions. “The owner of Noonan’s used to fence Foil for fun; goes way back with Hank and some of the other retired fencers. This place has always been a pub for us.” Then you pointed towards the TV. “Especially when FIE is streaming a match, all the TVs would show nothing but fencing.”

“How novel.” Lena said, her tone was neutral enough but there was a glint of appreciation in her eye.

It was true, if hockey and basketball could have sports bars then you fencers most certainly deserved one too.

“It’s great. The food never sucks and the drinks are pretty cheap. We’re usually here on a Friday night.” You told her with a warm smile.

Lena glanced over behind you. “That looks a lot like James Olsen, America’s best Epeeist.”

You looked behind you and James gave you a little friendly wave. Lena’s presence here certainly did not go unnoticed and you had no doubt there were people here just dying to meet her. Whether good or bad, Lena had quite the reputation in the world of fencing.

With great audacity, James walked up to your table and started making friendly introductions with the legend herself.

“James Olsen.” He introduced himself, his hand was amicably extended towards Lena.

Lena actually had a polite smile on her face as she returned the handshake. “Lena Luthor. I’ve heard good things about you. I quite admired your match against Im Jae-Bin. Your footwork pretty much saved you.”

James grinned. You immediately recognized his smile as the charming one he used for people he might be interested in. Undoubtedly, he was tall and good looking. It normally didn’t hurt to go for a guy like James but he did come with some baggage. Everyone knew he and Lucy Lane had an on-again off-again relationship. Right now they were on a break and James was kind of on the rebound. It was a brutal cycle.

“Thank you. I’m a big fan of your match against Alessia Luchessi back in the London Olympics. Your final touch was inspiring.” He replied smoothly.

You resisted the urge to blatantly roll your eyes at him. Her match against Luchessi was a cheap and easy match to bring up. Everyone knew about it and it was one of her more famous matches but the conversation about it had long since ended. Any further discussion to an already saturated topic would be redundant.

How typical.

“I personally thought her match against Emma Bertillon was far more interesting.” The words spilled out before you could stop yourself.

You felt Lena’s eyes glaze over you. You didn’t know how you felt it but felt it you did. Ordinarily, it was easy to see if she was annoyed. Right now, however, her eyes darkened and grew unreadable. “Fencing against Bertillon was the one time I was so sure I was going to lose.” She spoke softly.

“But your comeback was amazing. She had a five point lead but you changed your strategy so drastically, she couldn’t counter you anymore.” You praised. You remembered watching that match and feeling as if your heart was about to stop, that’s how thrilling it was.

Lena blushed faintly. “Thank you. I was so focused and in the zone, I didn’t realize I scored the winning touch until I watched her throw her mask to the ground.”

You could feel James giving you a look. He was most likely dismayed that you stole his thunder. “I’ll catch you guys later. It was nice meeting you, Lena.” He finally said, feeling a little out of the loop most likely.

“You too, Olsen.” Lena stated his surname a little too harshly. She clearly didn’t like it when people acted too familiar with her. Especially a complete stranger like James.

While the whole exchange was happening, Alex and Maggie were quiet. They seemed more than content to allow it to play out to its natural conclusion. Maggie in particular seemed amused with how Lena handled James.

“Now that was cold.” She stated the moment James was out of earshot.

“He was five minutes away from hitting on you, until Kara interrupted that is.” Alex noted.

Lena scowled. “I noticed...” Then she redirected her attention towards you. “Not a lot of people remember my match against Bertillon. It was a semi-finals match at the Coupe du Monde in Orléans, it was quite a few years back. People don’t usually remember it.”

Now you were the one flushing red from embarrassment. God forbid she find out how big of a fan you were... are. “I— ah...”

“Kara’s very studious that way. She watches a lot of vids to prep for matches.” Alex answered for you, thank god.

Lena seemed to accept that answer as the truth. “Well. I’ll admit you have a good eye. That was a good match and not one many people bring up.” She said, sounding a little impressed by you.

“Uh... thanks.” You replied awkwardly before changing the subject. “But yeah, about James...”

Lena raised an eyebrow at you. She propped her elbow on the table and rested her head on her palm. Then slowly, a catlike smile spread across her face. “What about him?”

“He’s usually a nice guy. He’s just on the rebound right now.” You told her, ignoring the strange flip in your stomach from the way she smiled.

“And why are you telling me this?” She asked you without missing a beat. Her smile remained and it was clear she was teasing you.

“I’m just ah... warning you away from him. James and Lucy Lane always break up and get back together. It’s a vicious cycle—almost borderline unhealthy.” You informed. Your voice turned a little high pitched and you hoped to god Lena didn’t hear it.

Lena glanced at Maggie and Alex as if they knew something you didn’t. “I doubt I would ever be interested.”

Maggie snickered and Alex couldn’t stop her mouth from quirking up. Your sister’s arm was casually wrapped around Maggie and they looked so relaxed. “As you can surmise, a lot of drama happens at the Fencing Center.” Alex said with delight.

“And you? Are you embroiled in anything particularly riveting?” Lena asked you dryly.

“No. I’m like a saint in there, honest.” 

“Kara’s fairly immaculate. All she does is fence and somehow manage to steer clear from all the rabble.” Maggie chimed in.

You frowned. “You guys make it sound like I don’t have a life.” 

“You don’t.” Lena said flippantly as she finished her glass of water. “You’re ranked two in the world. You don’t get there without making sacrifices.” Her tone was light but there was weight to it.

“Like you did?” You asked irritatedly. Much as you admired her, the fact that she was implying you both were anything alike hit a nerve.

“Like I did.” She stated firmly, her jaw clenching.

“Well look where that got you.” You scoffed, your temper rising.

From the very beginning of your career, you were always seen as her mere replacement. You most certainly didn’t want to take this crap from her of all people. Admittedly, it stung a little. 

Lena’s overall demeanor change and she glowered at you. But then instead of following through with a biting retort, the corner of her mouth twisted up. She smiled but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I’ve always suspected there was something... unsavory about you. Thank you for proving me right.”

Holy crap, this woman was absolutely infuriating.

“Okay. Why don’t we call it a night?” Alex announced loudly. With the way her eyebrows furrowed, she probably sensed the growing tension. Allowing this to continue would no doubt result in some unpleasantness for everyone.

It was game over for you. You came here hoping to convenience Lena to help you and instead, you wound up antagonizing each other. What was it about her that seemed to bring out this kind of behavior from you? Were the two of you just destined to drag out the worst from each other?

Quietly, you slid out the booth and allowed Lena to leave. Her sour mood almost felt tangible to everyone within ten feet of her. She just stood there, staring up at the TV and pretending to watch the game while she visibly seethed.

“Go walk her home, Kara. She doesn’t quite know the way back.” Alex told you in that big sister voice of hers.

You narrowed your eyes at them. “Why don’t you two do it.”

Alex sighed exasperatedly. “You live around here.” She pointed out.

This was true, much to your chagrin. Your apartment was a few blocks away from the Fencing Center. But you weren’t alone in this, several other fencers also lived in your building. You all had an agreement with the landlord and managed to cut a deal for all the athletes training at the Center.

“Fine.” You grounded out like a child.

You walked up to Lena begrudgingly and tried to grab her attention. “You ready to head back?” You asked her.

Lena raised an eyebrow at you. “Are you walking me back? That’s rather chivalrous of you.”

You took the tiny barb in stride. “You know Luthor, if you’d actually tried to get to know me then maybe you’d realize that I’m actually a nice person.”

You both started walking out of Noonan’s after saying your goodbyes to Maggie and Alex. You followed Lena’s pace, much to her ire. You understood that feeling. It would piss you off too if you had to inconvenience people for your sake. That is to say, having to walk slower for Lena wasn’t an inconvenience to you. You enjoyed walking in a leisurely pace.

“I don’t particularly trust people who claim to be nice.” Her voice cut through the silence. 

You casually took your glasses from the top of your head and hung it on your shirt. “That’s fair.” You replied. “Maybe you’d trust me if you get to know me.”

Lena shook her head. “You really don’t let up, do you?”

You felt your irritation dissipate and now you just felt tired. It had been a long day of training and trying to persuade Lena to help you was an equally trying ordeal. It was a shame that you felt this way considering that the evening was lovely.

National City could feel rather serene at night. Especially when the air was cool like tonight. If only Lena could stop stewing and seething enough to enjoy it.

As you rounded a familiar corner, you grinned in anticipation. There was this old ice cream parlor around here, it had become a fixture here in this part of National City. You used to come here all the time when you were a teenager but nowadays you usually would walk past it. 

“You seem happy about something.” Lena observed. Her inquisitive green eyes glazed over you in curiosity.

You smiled warmly. “There’s this ice cream parlor nearby. Great ice cream, and they make their own stuff. It just occurred to me that I haven’t been back there in a very long time.” Your tone started out happily but then it grew a little melancholic in the end.

Lena was quiet for a moment, she simply watched your face carefully. You tried not to feel too embarrassed about the amount of scrutiny you were being placed in. If anything, just the mere act of her observing you was unsettling.

“Just because you’re an active athlete doesn’t mean the rest of us have to suffer. We’re going.” She stated with her neutral face. You recognized it as the poker face she put on whenever she wanted to mask her emotions. While you never quite identified what it was she was feeling, it was easy enough for you to tell she was concealing something.

You grinned when you realized what she was up to. “You’re an active athlete too.” You said, following her to the ice cream parlor.

Lena started to exaggerate her limp. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“You’re a bad influence. Making me eat all this sugar and dairy.” You joked.

You both walked up to the old ice cream parlor. You squinted at the sheer whiteness of the fluorescent lights illuminating the small space and shining through the window. It looked familiar and nostalgic, peering through the window like you always did now that you were older.

Lena’s hand was already on the door handle when she gave you this smirk. “Have you considered that this was my evil plan all along?”

You followed her. “You mean stuff me with so much sugar that I’ll start to suck at fencing?”

“Perhaps.” Lena replied amusedly.

Walking into the parlor felt a lot like stepping back into time. You used to come here all the time when you were in high school, it was your regular hangout after training. Alex used to come out here with you all the time just to escape from the strains of med school.

“So what’s good here Danvers?”

You were thrust out of memory lane and brought back to the present. “Excuse me?”

Lena looked at you funny. “I was asking you which flavors were good.”

“I thought you didn’t trust me?”

Lena rolled her eyes. “You really don’t let up, Jesus Christ.”

“I was kidding.” You said in good humor, nudging her in the shoulder as you walked up to the counter.

“Fess up, Danvers. What’s the good stuff?” Lena asked as she showed up beside you.

“I actually wouldn’t know. I used to eat here for free because Alex would treat me to a sundae and we’d split. But that was a long time ago.” You sighed wistfully.

Lena looked unimpressed as she put her hand on her waist. “You’re really no help at all.”

You shrugged dramatically. “You’re the one who wanted ice cream. I wanted to go home.”

“So is anyone actually going to order?”

The third voice shocked the both of you. As if on cue, you both looked at the tired college student manning the counter. She had these extremely deep eye bags and the look of death.

“Of course we’ll order something...” Lena said slowly before shooting glances at you. “Right, Danvers?”

“Yes! In fact, we’ll just share a large sundae... unless the menu has changed in the past five years or so?” You decided in a quick panic, not wanting to prolong the poor college student’s night shift misery.

Lena appeared to have objections but kept it to herself. She had that argumentative look in her eye but undoubtedly, she didn’t want to trouble the poor girl.

The college student ran a hand through her unkempt hair and sighed. “The menu’s been the same since the parlor opened in the eighties. But sure, one large sundae it is.”

You looked at Lena nervously. “Why don’t you sit down. I’ll cover this.”

Wordlessly, Lena went and sat by the window. Presumably so she could stare out the window and do some people-watching. At least she wasn’t being too difficult right now, it was late and you didn’t have the patience for her usual antics.

Once you got your change, you joined Lena at the table and slumped into your chair.

You were just pondering over it in your head but you found yourself saying it out loud by accident. “Why are you so fickle?”

Lena’s eyebrows scrunched up. “Did you want me to be predictable?”

“No but you’re just being confusing to the rest of us.” You replied tiredly.

Lena leaned forward, her head resting on her propped up hand. For a brief moment there, she wasn’t all hard edges. “By all means, tell me what you think.”

You knew immediately that Lena wasn’t going to like what you had to say. People like her usually wanted to hear a particular version of the truth but not the truth itself. And besides, speaking your mind would make you sound naive. You weren’t that hopelessly optimistic after all.

“Does it matter?” You replied, you didn’t expect to have sounded so harsh.

Lena’s face didn’t betray whatever it was she was thinking. “Yes. You’re always so polite and you always retreat into your little shell of niceness when pressed.”

“So you do think I’m nice.” You tried to redirect the conversation.

“You’re deflecting.”

Busted, you thought.

“If you’re so keen to ask for my sincerity then I’ll have to ask you for yours too.” You fired back. It was about time Lena stopped being so damn defensive.

“Perhaps you’re better off asking for the truth. Sincerity and truth are two very different things.” Her mouth quirked up slightly.

“Okay, let’s do truth.”

Lena smiled. “Fine. This ends when the ice cream's gone.”

“Deal?” You asked, extending your hand.”

“Deal.” She said, taking your hand and shaking it firmly.

 


 

Lena

Kara had been so persistent today, more so than usual. You had to admire her for being so singleminded but for all her attempts to convince you over dinner, she never really did explain why she wanted your help so badly.

Still, what an interesting turn of events.

You’d long since wondered if there was something darker to Kara Danvers. She was always walking around as if she were the living incarnation of rainbows and sunshine. But then sometimes you’d see these glimpses of something far more interesting. Something from deep within you compelled you to find out.

This little moment of truth was far more beneficial to you than it would be to her. You were a much better liar and her face betrayed every single thing she was thinking or feeling. This was child’s play.

“I’m waiting, Danvers.” You told her after you ate some of the ice cream— which was excellent by the way.

Kara threw a glare at you. It always amused you whenever she tried to be threatening in any way, it always had the opposite effect. She was only ever threatening on the fencing strip.

But then that’s what you found so fascinating about her. How could she be the girl in sitting in front of you and also the girl who defeated you again and again? What did she have that you didn’t?

“I’m thinking, stop badgering me.” She shot back.

“It was just a question.”

Kara inhaled deeply. “Has anyone told you that you’re really insufferable?”

“Yes. My coach and my brother tell me that all the time.” You replied with a smile.

“Why don’t you start by telling me something truthful. You can’t accuse me of deflecting when you do it all the time too.” She said, angrily pointing the spoon at you.

“There are so many things I can be truthful about. For instance, did you know that I don’t like you?” You said in a lighthearted way.

“Ha ha ha, very funny.” Kara replied, unamused.

“I suppose if you’re having a difficult time coming up with a question, I could do the asking first.”

Kara didn’t make a clear reply as she looked incredibly skeptical, but didn’t say anything. You took that as the go ahead. Besides, you were curious about a few things too.

“Why do you know so much about my match against Emma Bertillon?”

Kara looked ready to choke on ice cream if that was possible. Her eyes widened. It was naive of her to assume that you bought the excuse Alex gave. The one about her watching vids of other fencers. It sounded like one of those half-truths.

You watched her sigh in resignation. She reached up to the back of her head and slowly tugged the elastic away, freeing her golden tresses. She must’ve felt stifled by her pony tail. What caught you off guard was the way her hair fell down her shoulders, like a glorious mane gently draping over her.

Your lips parted ever so slightly and you tore your eyes away, opting instead to look at the bowl of ice cream between the two of you.

“I’ve always been a big fan of yours.” Kara admitted quietly.

To a degree, everyone in the fencing world was a fan of yours. But you sensed that this was different.

Her eyebrows furrowed and that was when you noticed the tiny scar a few millimeters up from her left brow. You wondered where she could have gotten that.

“And I don’t mean it in the way James did. Watching you fence literally brought me here. If I never saw you... I wouldn’t be competing. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today.” Kara said slowly, her words were drawn out. She was looking down but then she dragged her eyes up to look at you. Her blue eyes were so clear and lucid, her gaze was disarming. “We never agreed to explain. So I’ll let you decide what to think of that.”

You nodded quietly. “I believe you get to ask a question now.”

Kara only spent a brief moment to carefully consider her words. “Why do you dislike me so much? Was it something I did?”

You had a feeling she was going to ask that, how couldn’t she? You made that clear to her.

Trying to find the right words to articulate how you felt was difficult but you decided to just go for the simple truth. “No, you didn’t do anything.”

“I thought that maybe me defeating you all the time had something to do with it.” Kara speculated.

“At first.” You admitted with a wince. “But then I think I was mostly frustrated with myself.”

“You said that I made you irrationally angry.” She pointed out, referencing the last time you were being honest with her.

You ate some ice cream just so you could have a momentary reprieve. “I did say that didn’t I?”

Kara quietly observed you with those piercing eyes of hers. What was it about those eyes that threatened to tear you apart. On the strip, they made you angry. Out here, they made you feel like you were being uncovered layer by layer. Was that why you found them so unsettling? Because you didn’t want her to discover the fact that there was nothing at your core.

“You have this look...” you began in a whisper. Your eyes were fixed firmly onto the table. “This look of startling sincerity and it sets me off because...”

“Because?” She urged, her voice was low and gentle.

Finally you looked up, hoping that she would understand that this was you being sincere. “I’m afraid that you’ll see who I am... and what I’m not.”

Kara said nothing.

“You say you look up to me? Then how would you feel knowing that for all of my accomplishments, I have nothing and I am nothing. My life exists on the strip and without it, I’m no one.”

Kara was quiet for far too long and you wondered if you ruined her image of you. You didn’t expect the conversation to go in this direction. You thought you could lie your way through but somehow, Kara had managed to extract a modicum of truth from you. What was it about her that made you act so decidedly different from how you usually were. Why was it so easy for her so see right through you?

“You’re too hard on yourself.” Kara finally said, her voice was warm.

You didn’t expect her sympathy nor you did you want it. Sympathy was too much like pity, more often than not. And yet, the way the her voice rolled over you was too much to ignore. Your chest felt heavy.

“I can see that skeptical look in your eye. Don’t. Maybe I’m naive but I know what I saw. I remember it like it was yesterday.” Kara started in a careful and considerate tone.

“It was 2006. We were in Turin and being there was life-changing. I used to just fence because it was a fun hobby, a fun distraction. It made me sound cool to the other kids at school. But then... I saw you.” She said with this nostalgic smile.

“You were amazing. Dazzling even. I found myself captivated by your fencing. I thought to myself that that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to be you, I wanted to fence you. I wouldn’t love this sport the way I do today if I never saw you. Maybe you were empty  then, but what you gave me was far from empty. You gave me something I've cherished ever since. You taught me how to love fencing just by existing...”

You were speechless. Why did those words matter so much coming from her? You felt something stir within your chest. It was a strange indescribable feeling. You were suddenly overcome with the feeling to do right by her.

“I think that’s too much honesty for one night. Why don’t we get you home?” Kara said with a nervous laugh as she placed her spoon into the empty bowl.

You glanced down at the ice cream bowl. You hadn’t realized that it was all gone now.

You followed Kara outside like a lost sheep. Not knowing what to do or what to say. You didn’t expect to be moved by someone like her. Someone you thought you hated.

Why did you hate her so much anyway. You now knew it wasn’t that unsettling gaze of hers, you only hated it because it reflected all your insecurities and fears back to you. Like any well meaning human being, you wanted to beat back your vulnerabilities and that caused anger.

But then there was that other bitter feeling stemming from another fear. The kind where you grew to become obsolete and she would leave you behind. Maybe you feared her because she was better than you in every possible way?

“I can hear the gears churning in your head. Why don’t you sleep on it before you self destruct.” Kara teased, she was looking back at you.

From then on, Kara safely walked you back to the Fencing Center. Your walk was quiet but it was filled with meaningful silence. It was a much needed breather from your thoughts. The more you thought about it, the further you were from coming to any conclusions. Nothing sounded right and maybe you weren’t meant to know what your problem was. At this point, did your irrational grudge even matter?

But as the silence dragged on, you found yourself compelled to fill it. You wanted to say something, anything. Leaving things the way they were just didn’t sit right with you anymore. The more you acknowledged Kara for who she simply was, the guiltier you felt.

There was nothing artificial about her. All traits you hated about her were things you tacked onto this idea you had of her. None of those things were her nor did Kara ever pretend to be anything she wasn’t.

She was just herself. Perfectly unassuming and authentic.

You wanted to do something right. True enough, Kara had been nothing but kind to you from the very beginning and you’d returned her kindness with caustic remarks and poor behavior. This whole ordeal just left you feeling guilty. Maybe you were desperate to not feel this way, maybe doing something nice was a temporary bandaid to the odd twisting in your chest but it would relieve you. More importantly, it would mean a lot to her.

Oh boy, you were going to regret this. Big time.

Before Kara left you completely, you called out to her. “Hey Kara?”

She turned back slowly and suddenly you were transfixed. She glowed in the same way she did back at the hospital when she sat by your bed. The moonlight was entangled in her hair and you couldn’t seem to breathe.

“What’s up?”

“I’ll do it.”

Kara looked confused. “Do what?”

You swallowed thickly, already feeling a boatload of regret. “I’ll help train you. Though I doubt I’ll be useful.”

Then she beamed at you and you suddenly couldn’t speak, much less think. “See, I told you I’d convince you!”

You quickly pulled yourself together and blatantly rolled your eyes at her. Despite your eye-rolling, you couldn't stop the corners of your mouth from tugging upward.

“Goodnight Kara.”

The smile she gave you very nearly knocked the wind out of you. You felt strange. You felt... vulnerable? 

“Goodnight Lena.”

Then she disappeared into the night and you were left with more questions than answers.

Chapter Text

Kara

The music was playing loud in your ears, your feet were stepping to the beat. Sweat ran down your forehead and while your body only grew warmer by the second, you felt calm. Despite your elevated heart rate from doing repeated laps around the large empty hall, you were at peace. Running— jogging in this case— never failed to make you forget. It was incredibly therapeutic.

It was around ten in the evening and you’d been trying to warm up. It was your routine every since you started your discrete late-night activities. While you were often times daring, there was something about having some structure that appealed to you. Most likely because the routine gave you comfort.

With your music playing at a relatively loud volume, you failed to hear the sound of footsteps. Ordinarily, you didn’t have to pay attention. As far as you were concerned, you were very much alone here. There was no reason for you to yank off your earphones when the Fencing Center could be eerily quiet at night.

It was only when she showed up in your peripheral that you started slowing down to a stop. Your breathing was harsh, your face was flushed, and heat encompassing your muscles felt so damn good.

Lena Luthor showed up, dressed in the same athletic clothes she usually wore to physical therapy. It usually involved one of those sinfully comfy sweatshirts and joggers that made her ass look amazing— just being honest here. Her hair was tied into a high bun and with the way she carried herself, she could also have passed off as a ballet dancer. She most certainly had the grace and poise for it.

Lena was holding an ice cold Slurpee and you could already feel her gaze methodically size you up. You didn’t blame her, you always did look awful the moment you started sweating. You were ready to fully accept any snide judgements she was mentally passing upon you.

You pulled the earphones out of your ears and smiled. “Hi.”

“Hi.” She greeted back curtly as her eyes roamed around the room. “I never knew you started this early.”

“Just to warm up. Ordinarily, I go home by one.”

“Well... you look sufficiently warmed up.” Lena scoffed as she walked on over to the strip. Glancing around the room, she found a stool and pulled it up to the nearby wall. “We’ll get you to finish earlier. If you’re spending three hours here trying to do one thing, then you’re being inefficient.”

Lena sat down and simply watched you from her seat. “What are you just standing around there for? Let’s get this over with.” She said irritatedly.

You grinned. “Geez, you’re bossy.”

Lena rolled her eyes in good humor. “If I recall correctly, you practically begged me for my help.”

You found yourself standing over her. “Really now? I recall that conversation going differently.” You teased her.

Lena had the courtesy to blush a little, most likely embarrassed by that whole evening. She didn’t like showing her soft side. “Touché.”

“Ooh, a fencing joke. How long did it take for you to come up with that one?” You quipped.

Lena gave you an unamused look but she kept smiling, indicating that the atmosphere was still friendly. “For the record, I have a sense of humor. Now get your Sabre and let’s do this.”

You took a moment to put on your glove first. After flexing your hand and getting comfortable with it, you picked up your Sabre. You walked up to the strip and went En Garde. Just when you thought Lena was going to start giving you actual direction, you heard a low chuckle coming from her.

It occurred to you that you’ve never really heard her genuinely laugh before.

It sounded... lovely.

“Is that Olaf on your glove?” She finally said after trying and failing to stifle her laughter.

“Do you have something against Olaf and Frozen?” You joked.

“Well no... but why is that drawn on your glove? I know people who just write their name or draw a smiley face but...” Lena started laughing again. “Freaking Olaf...”

You stood up straight and lowered your Sabre. “For the record, it wasn’t for me. This is the glove I use when I help teach fencing to kids in the summer. They find it funny.”

Lena leaned back and sipped her Slurpee. She tilted her head to the side. “You’re just a regular girl scout aren’t you?”

“I sometimes wish I learned how to fence earlier so I try to do my part and give some kids a little push.” You replied, easily thinking back to some of the kids who came back summer after summer. There were even some who started to fence all-year round, it never failed to warm your heart.

Lena looked genuine when she leaned forward and asked you a question. “When did you start? If you don’t mind me asking?”

You rested the tip of your Sabre on your foot casually. “I think I started later than most. I was twelve when I got into it. I only started taking it seriously when I was fourteen.”

Lena shook her head. “No, twelve is not that late. I was fencing at age ten. I know some start earlier than that, I’m not entirely sure kids with too much energy should be given a sword to play with.”

“Isn’t that the point though? The first thing we learn is discipline. I mean, I’m so glad I’m athletic— so I didn’t suffer as much— but doing dozens of lunges and squatting to oblivion when starting out must be torture for everyone else.” You laughed.

“You’re not wrong. Or maybe I just don’t trust six or seven year old me with a Sabre. I have a feeling I would have ran after Lex with it.” She actually joked around you.

Who was this person? It’s like she was abducted by aliens and turned into a pod person. She was being so affable, it was weird.

Lena noticed your state of confusion and waved you off as if you were overreacting. “What’s wrong with you?”

You shook your head slowly. “Nothing... I’m just not used to you being so... so friendly.”

She kept staring at your face, trying to read you since you were such an open book. Lena briefly looked away and sighed. “I’m too tired and lazy to be argumentative right now.”

Ah. So she was self aware. You wondered if she was ornery on purpose. If so then what was the point? All that would serve was to get people to think she was a snob and discourage people from even attempting to be nice to her.

There was silence and you realized that she’d been waiting on your response. You spent too much time thinking. You lowered yourself and went En Garde.

“So I take it the Lex you mentioned is Lex Luthor? Your brother?” You asked her.

Lena nodded slowly as she eyes sized you up, most likely she was assessing your form. Not that she needed to, you both knew it was perfect. You both were professionals, this wasn’t amateur hour. Of course your stance was flawless, especially when you used Lena herself as your personal standard.

“Sometimes he’s a household name depending on where you live.” Was all Lena said about him.

“I mean, you can’t miss the building here with the big L on it.” You replied without missing a beat.

“No, you most certainly cannot. It’s quite ostentatious isn’t it? I’ve always thought the L-Corp building in Metropolis was a giant eyesore.” Lena said lightly, clearly not above being critical about her own brother’s company.

“It’s a giant eyesore here too. Who’s bright idea was it to stamp a gigantic L on top?”

“Well no one said my brother had good taste.” Lena retorted with a smile.

You were flexing your arm and flicking your Sabre forward, just practicing your touches. “It sounds like you miss him.”

You looked at her discreetly, pretending to be focused on your little exercise. Lena’s eyes widened a tiny fraction and there was this tiny crease in the middle of her eyebrows. “I do.” She replied, sounding a little surprised with herself. “For all his faults, he’s my big brother and I love him.”

You didn’t expect to hear the warmth in her voice. It was strange because obviously, she was a human being so of course she had feelings. But she was always so guarded, it was hard to see her humanity.

“Enough about me. Let’s do you and get this over with.” Lena said curtly. It was back to business now it seemed.

Lena leaned back and it felt like she distanced herself again. She was so very good at closing herself off to people. Well, it was nice while it lasted.

“So tell me, why do you want to lunge this far. At this point, you’d practically have to launch yourself across the strip. A flunge might be more effective.” Lena asked.

You stood up again briefly. “True but you would see my flunge from a mile away. Lunges are still the way to go.”

“But that doesn’t explain the distance you want.”

You gave her a sheepish smile. “If you can see it coming then it’s simply not good enough.”

Lena blinked twice before she even made a reaction. She reared back and started laughing out loud, her sonorous laughter echoing throughout the Fencing Hall. “Oh my god, that’s so rich.”

When she finally composed herself, Lena still looked way too amused by this. “Oh honey, no matter how far you lunge, I will always see it coming. It’s called experience.” She said patronizingly.

“You can’t be that good.” You frowned.

“You tell me Kara. You’ve followed my career pretty closely. Don’t tell me otherwise, I recognize some of the strategies you use and they look mighty familiar.” She teased.

She wasn’t wrong, damn her.

“You know firsthand how well I fence. You can’t surprise me with cheap tricks.”

You placed your free hand on your hip. “And yet you haven’t won a single match. What’s up with that?” You retorted.

Lena’s eyebrows bunched up and she scowled. For a moment there, you thought you pushed her a little too much because she looked ready bring her guard up. But then she took a deep breath and you watched her shoulders shift from tense to relaxed.

“Honestly? I have no idea. I guess I’m sloppy when I’m up against you.” She admitted.

“I could tell. It’s like I’m fencing you, and not you at the same time... does that make sense?” You told her.

Lena shrugged and her eyes darkened, that usually happened when she was deep in thought. “Funnily enough, that’s what my coach told me a week before I tore my ACL.”

“If it’s any consolation Lena, that last match felt a lot like you. You could’ve won.” You said softly.

“I could’ve won.” She nodded. “But apparently, the universe has other plans for me.” Lena said wistfully.

Another moment of silence passed between you two and admittedly, talking to her was becoming a lot easier. If anyone asked you weeks ago if you two could ever be this candid with each other, the answer would be no.

As far as you were aware, Lena didn’t like you. She might have even hated you. Then later on, she did admit to you that she did in fact hate you. At least, she thought she did.

You on the other hand, you spent a few years of your life idolizing the woman. She was your inspiration and yet, now that you’ve seen how human she could be, you admired her nevertheless. Were you disappointed at first?

Absolutely. She was just mean.

But now? You held a different kind of admiration for her. You saw her resilience and her grit, it only made you respect her all the more. She was every bit the champion fencer you so admired, even if she didn’t quite believe it herself.

Still, where did you both stand?

Were you still rivals or— dare you say it— were you both becoming friends?

“We’re wasting time. I’m helping you because I don’t want you to do something stupid. If we lose the Team Sabre event because you’re off being injured then that’s on you.” Lena grounded out.

You immediately went En-Garde once more. It appeared that Lena was done talking because her face was unreadable again. That was too bad because you liked her when she wasn’t being so cold.

“Lunge normally, I want to see your usual range.” She ordered you.

You pushed off your back leg and moved explosively into a full lunge, the tip of your Sabre making a soft thud on the wall cushion.

Lena’s face was neutral and her gaze was methodical, she was there to observe. “Your lunge is already a powerful thing. Explosive and fast, I honestly don’t know what more you could wish for? Your form is textbook but the power is almost unmatched.”

Then she sighed. “However, I’m here to humor you. Take a few steps back and show me this new lunge you’ve been failing at.”

You did what she asked, retreating a few steps back before pushing on your back leg and lunging yourself across this end of the strip. Unsurprisingly, you landed with your foot slightly askew and that messed with your balance.

“In that tiny second you lost your balance, I could have scored a touch.” Lena pointed out. It was something you knew well, that’s why you were practicing.

“That’s why you’re here.” You replied cheekily.

Lena sighed loudly. “You have to understand this, Kara. If you do get this right, this is going to be an extremely situational maneuver. You need good positioning and that only happens if you can control a bout so decidedly in your favor that you could probably attempt it. But if you’re already controlling the match—even if they bait out your attack— there’s really no way they can parry you cleanly or dodge completely... well unless you’re me of course.”

“Big words for someone still in therapy.” You teased her.

“Therapy is going well thanks for asking.” Lena shot back caustically.

“No but seriously, you’re doing much better!” You enthused because it was true. She was looking better every day.

“Uhh thanks...” Lena replied awkwardly. “Okay, so ah... let’s do it again with a marching attack this time.”

“You got it.” You grinned.

You reared back a few steps and took a deep breath. Without another moment’s hesitation, you started to march forward. Then when you gained enough momentum, you pushed on your back leg and launched yourself as far as you possibly could. Your front foot landed perfectly and you barely lost your balance, your lunge was far and deep, you free arm was extended outwards.

In other words, it was a perfect lunge.

You heard Lena whistle in admiration. “As much it pains me to say this... that was a beautiful lunge.”

“Do you still think this whole exercise is pointless?” You asked smugly.

Lena smirked. “Absolutely. I maintain that this wonderful lunge of yours is extremely situational. I’m actually a little excited... I wonder what it would feel like to parry such an attack.”

You laughed. “That’s assuming you’re going to parry it.”

“Which I will. Have you no faith in me, Danvers?” Lena said jokingly.

“Okay let’s get one thing straight here.” You started to say as you walked back over to her. Lena looked up to meet your gaze, her green eyes were bright and attentive. “Maybe some people want you out of the picture but I’m not one of those people. I have tons of faith in you.”

Lena’s gaze was unwavering. “Oddly enough, I seem to believe you... albeit it’s misplaced.”

You watched her for a little longer, trying to see if her face would betray her emotions but she was just as unreadable as ever. Slowly, you put your Sabre down and stood beside Lena, your back leaning against the wall.

“You seem to do that a lot.” You told her.

“Do what?” She asked, still staring ahead.

“Doubt yourself.”

Lena leaned back and breathed in deeply. “All the damn time.” She replied.

“You’re always so confident... so sure of yourself.”

“Yeah well...” Lena started to say as she reached from below her to grab her Slurpee. She took a quick sip and put it back. “It’s a recent thing.”

“What brought it on?” You asked her as you started to remove your glove for now. The sound of you pulling the Velcro was sharp and loud, in direct contrast to all the quietness.

Lena laughed through her nose and looked up at you. “You did, actually.”

“Oh.”

“Look, I’m not even mad or anything like that. Hell, I think at this point, it’s safe to say that my... distaste for you is misplaced. See, I’m an adult. I can admit things.”

You chuckled at that weird admission. “Yes, that’s very mature of you.”

“Thanks.”

“So what are you then? If you’re not mad?”

Lena tilted her head and looked thoughtful. You had to admit that you preferred her that way because it allowed you a glimpse into what made her tick. Even if you were just merely grazing the surface, it was better than nothing.

“Frustrated I guess.” She finally concluded as she attempted to run a hand through her hair but then realized that she had tied it into a bun. Lena ended up groaning and shooting you a strange look. “I hate you. You’re actually an amazing fencer, it’s annoying.”

“If I’m amazing then what are you?” You asked with a smile.

Lena stood up slowly and looked down at her feet. You followed her gaze and found her staring at your Sabre on the floor. Wordlessly, she picked it up and simply stared at it. “I’m tired.”

“You’ll be fine. I’m sure you’ll be back to competitive fencing in no time.” You told her.

Lena lifted her head and looked at you with another one of those unreadable expressions. “What if I don’t?”

Without meaning too, you were there in front of her. Your hand placed on her shoulder. “What do you mean?”

Her hand gripped your Sabre and she was staring hard into the floor. “Have you maybe considered the possibility that I won’t bounce back.”

“Lena—“

“You’re always so goddamn positive. Always telling me the things I want to hear. The things I so badly want to believe about myself. But there’s that very real possibility that I won’t be the same.” Lena said through gritted teeth.

You found yourself gripping both of her shoulders. “Lena, it’s just an ACL tear.”

“I know that!” She suddenly raised her voice. Then her eyes softened. “I know that... but it takes anywhere from three to four months to be cleared for normal everyday activity. It takes anywhere from eight to nine months to maybe not suck at the one thing I’m good at... there’s just no way I’ll make it for the Olympics... it’s not doable.” Lena was rambling now.

“Hey. It’s going to be okay.” You tried to reassure her but the reality of her words was creeping up on you too.

“What if this setback is enough for everyone to leave me behind.” You heard her say under her breath.

You took the Sabre from her hand and laid it back down onto the floor. “You’re Lena Luthor. There’s simply no one else like you.”

Lena finally stopped staring at the ground. “There’s you.”

You waited for her to elaborate and she did.

“You’re twenty-three and you’re already this good. You’re me... but better. I say better because we may fence similarly but you also have a life. People like you. You have friends...”

Then her jaw clenched before continuing. “And you’re all blonde and gorgeous. Adidas and Leon Paul would love nothing more than to plaster your face all over their ads... I’m not as endorsement-friendly as you are. You’re just better than me in every conceivable way. By the time I’m back, you’ll be everything that I was and I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up. Hell, maybe I won’t even try by then.”

As you absorbed her words, you felt yourself slowly lose your temper. Part of you wanted to calm her down, to sympathize with her, to reassure her, and to comfort her. But then there it was again, she was digging into your one insecurity without meaning to.

You didn’t want to make this all about you but all you ever wanted was to be your own fencer. For people to take you seriously because you worked hard and trained hard. You were your own person and you had no intention of becoming her replacement. You once overheard someone said that it was okay to lose Lena because you existed.

“I pretend to be who I used to be but maybe I’m not that person anymore. Maybe I’m no longer that fencer you claim to have inspired you.” She continued to say.

You inhaled deeply and tried your hardest to keep your temper in check. You didn’t want to be angry with her but it was difficult. You didn’t want to be unreasonable.

But in the end, you couldn’t help yourself.

“Do you know how hard it is? Living in your shadow?” You asked her harshly.

Lena had been ranting for so long but it seemed that you now had her full attention. Now she was the one listening intently.

“Everything I do will never be able to measure up to you. God forbid I be my own person... I’m one of the best Sabreurs in the world and it’s not because of you.”

You unloaded on her and the moment the words flew out of your mouth, you regretted it immediately. Your hands were covering your mouth and you watched Lena’s face turn to surprise. Her eyes were wide and she actually paled a little.

“Oh my god, Lena I’m so sorry—“

“Don’t be. I prefer it when you speak your mind.”

“Seriously, I didn’t mean any of that.”

“Yes you did. Don’t lie to me.”

Lena inhaled deeply and gathered her thoughts. She crossed her arms and the look she was giving you was so intense it was making you feel nervous.

“It was refreshing to hear. Please don’t apologize for that. This was actually therapeutic and I feel better... don’t you?” You heard her say with same tone she would probably use to talk about the weather.

At first you thought she was crazy until you realize she was right. Your chest did feel lighter. “Surprisingly, I do.”

Lena put her hands on her waist and awkwardly looked around the room. “I ah... never thought that’s how you felt.”

“Since when have you ever considered my feelings anyway?” You joked nervously.

Lena looked at you, then back down, then back at you again. She turned around briefly before facing you once more. She was suddenly a little restless. Then she walked into your personal space and you were suddenly filled with awareness. You could see the nervousness and the anxiety, so visible on her face. But you could also closely see her cool green eyes and how there was fire beneath that ice. 

But there were also these laugh lines that told you she smiled and laughed more than you thought she did. Smiles really transformed her face into something unexplainable, something that grabbed at you and didn’t let go.

Even now as she continued to stand so close to you, you felt nervous and your heart was racing a mile a minute. Was this because you were standing so close to her?

“I’m sorry.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry.” She repeated with conviction. “I’ve been an ass to you and I’m sorry.”

She almost looked vulnerable with those soft green eyes. She looked so damn earnest for once, how could you not feel something stir within your chest?

“You don’t need to apologize.” You blurted out.

Lena frowned. “I don’t normally do this so just take the damn apology.”

“Even when you apologize, you’re really bossy.” You pointed out.

“Would you have it any other way?” Lena joked with a smile.

You grinned. “No, you’re right. It wouldn’t be you otherwise.”

For a moment, you both just stood there smiling at each other like idiots. You two were the only ones in the room and somehow it felt intimate. Time didn’t seem to flow like it usually did as you stood there just watching her. Her eyes crinkled, her smile was wide, and for the first time, you genuinely thought you wouldn’t always be at odds with each other.

You weren’t her replacement and she wasn’t just your role model.

You were colleagues and now you could be friends. Maybe you both started off on the wrong foot but you now had the chance to change all of that. What you wanted most of all was a clean slate with Lena Luthor.

It was a gut feeling and you always trusted your gut. Somehow, you just knew that Lena was important. In the same way how sometimes you would come across certain people and somehow know they were going to matter. That they were going to be significant to you.

Right now, you were getting that feeling.

You were strangely tingly and you felt that in spades.

 


 

You were sweating like crazy and the blood was pumping through you veins, hard and fast. Despite this, you focus was as clear and sharp as ever. You prided yourself on your focus. So far, you never allowed yourself to lose your cool on the strip and that would never change.

“En-Garde, pret, allez!”

Your opponent, Lucy Lane, was immediately on the offensive. She was always a fast and aggressive fencer. While she was good, you always thought she had become arrogant and complacent. It was mean of you but you enjoyed beating her. She needed to be humbled from time to time. You were hoping that giving her some competition would motivate her. 

And besides, she’s never really won against you.

She made an attack and lunged at you from out of the blue but experience and your own reflexes allowed you to distance yourself before she could land a hit. You realized that she had pushed you to your end of the strip and without a second thought, you took the beat and went on the offensive.

Surprised by how fast the tables have turned, Lucy was clearly caught off guard. You recalled what Lena told you about the circumstances needed to pull of your crazy lunge and this was perfect.

Exhilaration gripped you as you moved your blade around, to ensure she wouldn’t steal your right of way or know which way you were going to attack her. A few short steps before her end of the strip, you pushed on your rear leg hard and launched yourself into a far lunge.

In a panic, Lucy nearly lost her balance retreating away from you. Normally, moving back this far would have allowed her to dodge completely but training with Lena had imbued you with some newfound confidence.

The tip of your blade connected solidly with her chest and you heard the machine sound off.

“Yes!” You yelled as you took off your mask and laughed.

Lucy tore her mask off and looked at you in disbelief. “What the fuck was that, Danvers?”

“That would be recklessness combined with foolishness. Still, it’s rather impressive don’t you think Miss Lane?”

Immediately looking behind you, you found Lena Luthor just standing there with something that looked too much like pride on her face.

Ordinarily, she was dressed in comfortable sweats or athletic clothes but today? She was dressed casually in a blouse and jeans. It didn’t take a long stare to know she looked great.

“Hey, Lena. What brings you down here for once? Are you finally slumming it with the rest of us?” You asked with a grin.

“Something like that. Nice lunge, Danvers. I’m almost jealous.” She replied.

“You’re just bitter because you can’t fence. Are you going out somewhere?” You asked, curiosity getting the better of you.

Lena rolled her eyes at you. “Way to go right for the jugular and reminding me why I hate you so much. And yes, I thought I’d go out to watch a movie for once. Even Netflix has its limitations.”

While this exchange was happening, Lucy was staring at the both of you with a bewildered look. Understandable since this was the first time Lena actually deigned to come down here during the day. Knowing her, she probably didn’t want to appear weak to other fencers.

“Yes well we all can’t be number one and injured now can’t we?” You retorted earning a sharp glare from Lena, it was short lived glare. Then you looked to the confused Lucy. “Right, where are my manners. You two should get properly introduced.”

Without missing a beat, Lena extended her hand to Lucy with this condescending smile. “Lena Luthor, I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Lucy’s smile was tight and didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Lucy Lane, and all good things I hope.”

“I only ever hear what Kara elects to tell me. If you have issues then bring it up with her.” Lena replied.

You raised your hands up defensively. “Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.”

“While it was nice meeting you, I have to speak to this one in private. If you’ll excuse us?” Lena asked, her tone was still quite condescending. Clearly she was not a fan of Lucy.

Lucy made this hand gesture indicating that Lena had your time. You unhooked your Sabre from your wire then proceeded to unhook yourself from the machine before you walked off to the side.

As you walked, there were murmurs all around the room. Undoubtedly it was due to Lena’s rare appearance. She was a superstar in the fencing world, you knew all the rookies were dying for her autograph.

“So what’s up?” You asked.

“Your lunge—while magnificent— was a touch sloppy. You could stand to use more guidance.” She told you. She intended it to sound serious and matter-of-factly but you didn’t miss the small upward tilt on the corner of her mouth.

Not that you were staring at her mouth in particular.

Her smiles were just so hard to read, that’s all.

“And are you offering to keep coaching me?” You asked with a knowing smile.

Lena tried not to smile but it slipped through anyway. “Maybe I am...” then her smile faded quickly and she looked guilty. “Look. I feel awful and this is my way of making it up to you.”

“Even if you think it’s stupid.”

Lena nodded. “Even if I think it’s stupid. At least with me around, you won’t break something. And besides, don’t you have a competition soon? Grand Prix in Anaheim is it?”

You tilted your head to the side. “I did. I’m surprise you knew about it.”

“Please.” She scoffed. “I was signed up for it too until...” then Lena gestured to her right knee. Then she suddenly shoved a finger into your face. “You better win. One of us has to. I’ll just live vicariously through you.”

You laughed and pushed her accusing finger away. “Even if you were there, who says you’re winning?”

Lena looked offended, it was a dramatic display. “And just when I thought we were becoming friends.” She said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

The idea of it just made you feel all giddy inside, you had no idea why. You could almost feel a blush creeping up to your cheeks. “Is that what we are?”

Lena got this weird look before she hid it with a cryptic smile. “God forbid.”

It was said in jest and without another word, she started to walk away leaving you to just stand there looking like an idiot. Then you snapped out of your daze.

“Wait, where are you going!?”

Lena turned back with this dazzling smile and you suddenly felt dizzy. She looked better when she was smiling, it made her face brighter it made her more beautiful if that was even possible. “I have a movie to watch.”

Then she actually winked at you and you froze like a deer in the headlights. You watched her walk away and you found yourself admiring her form.

What was the matter with you?

Then you heard Lucy call your attention and you were focused again.

Now if only you could get your breathing under control.

Chapter Text

Lena

“Holy crap, you’re worse than a drill sergeant!”

You only smiled at her as you crossed your legs and leaned back in amusement. The both of you were two hours into your after hours session and as promised, you were working her to the bone. She did ask after all, you were only delivering.

“You specifically asked for my help therefore you will do everything I say.” You replied calmly.

Kara had been maintaining this particular lunge for almost ten minutes now. Ordinarily, this was easy for veteran fencers such as yourselves. Right now the both of you were trying to commit her far-reaching lunge to muscle memory. She could do her special maneuver more often if her body remembered its position just as well as she knew the back of her own hand.

“Did I mention how it’s so hot in here? Also my thighs are burning up and dying would feel preferable.” Kara rasped.

“Your body’s just not used to it. You’ll probably adjust by next week.” You waved her off and took sipped copious amounts of your Slurpee.

Kara inhaled very deeply and as she did this, you couldn’t help but admire her figure. The woman did have flawless form, she was never careless and even with that boundless energy, she showed restraint. Also, you were only human and Kara Danvers was an amazing human specimen to behold. She had curves and muscles in all the right places, not even you were immune to some of her more obvious charms.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t fault people for drawing constant comparisons. You and Kara did a few things the exact same way.

But you both also had your differences in spite of all the overwhelming similarities. For instance, your bladework was better but she had more energy and better footwork. Both of your strengths matched your respective weaknesses. By all rights, the two of you should be well matched.

“If only you could feel my pain.” She complained through her teeth.

“Oh I will. In a month or two, I will. Then you could be the one sitting down and poking fun at me.”

Kara suddenly broke her stance and pulled herself back to standing normally. She was sweating like crazy and it was dripping right down her jaw and the tip of her nose. You threw her a towel and she accepted it gratefully. “What do you mean?”

“I’m almost through with my therapy... at least in a month or two, I’ll be done. Alex will most likely declare me fit for everyday life.” You announced.

Kara nearly dropped her towel but she caught in time and hung it around her neck. “That’s amazing news!”

“Say that to me again when I’m in the midst of conditioning and strengthening.” You sighed.

“Pass me my water?”

You reached the refillable sports bottle from below your chair and tossed it over. Kara caught it without sparing it much of a glance, she definitely had good reflexes. She was thirsty enough to down three-quarters of the bottle.

“Thanks. So why the concern then? You don’t sound too happy about it.” Kara noted, quite astutely as a matter of fact.

“I’m not happy about it because I’m not ready. It’s that simple.” You replied, you voice was steady. You only sounded calm because this was something you’d been thinking about a lot lately. Getting back into it just seemed so daunting.

“But you’re you.” Kara argued oh so very persuasively, her hand was gesturing towards you wildly.

“I’m still human, Kara.”

Kara approached you slowly. “What I mean is... you didn’t get this far by being a nobody. You’re you. You got yourself this far, you can push past this.”

You looked her right in the eye just so she understood how serious you were. “Maybe I’m tired. I don’t know.”

Kara gave you this twisted sour expression and for some odd reason, you felt your stomach drop at the sight of it. The last time you felt this uncomfortable stomach churning was when Kara was yelling at you about the way you were treating her.

Right now she was standing fairly close to you and you could almost feel the heat emanating from her. “Are you telling me you’re giving up?” She said in a low voice but you could tell she wanted to yell at you.

“Were you not paying attention? I said I don’t know.” You snarled.

The both of you were just shooting looks at each other. You didn’t quite enjoy the weird power dynamic at play here, especially since Kara was the one standing over you, imposing over you. While here you were, sitting down and feeling small.

“But you’re—“

“But I’m what? I’m Lena Luthor? I should be above this? Well I’m not.” You cut her off.

“Wait. Stop this. I’m not trying to pick a fight with you Lena.” Kara grounded out, she put her hands up in defense.

“Good. Because I’m not in the mood.” You shot back almost immediately.

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Today’s session finished in silence. You didn’t feel like talking anymore and Kara had enough tact not to say another word. She put on a fresh shirt in silence and packed up her gear just as quietly. You could see it in her face, in her posture, in the way she carried herself, in the tenseness in her jaw... she was mad.

And if she wasn’t mad at you, she was sure as hell disappointed in you.

You realized in that moment that you didn’t like disappointing her. It was easy enough to take whatever anger she had because more often than not, you were the cause of that anger. It was easy to absorb the heavy hits when you knew the blame was yours.

But disappointment was a whole different beast. There was no fixing that and sometimes redeeming yourself wasn’t worth it.

“I’m only angry because despite everything, I actually do care about what happens to you.” Kara blurted out right as she got to the doorway.

“You don’t have to.”

“Well I do and what I think is not up to you... with that said, are we still on for our next training session?”

You nodded and walked up to her until you were nearly toe to toe with her. “I keep my promises, Kara.”

The both of you were around the same height so you met her eye to eye. Her jaw was tightly clenched and her blue eyes darkened into a richer hue. A beat passed as you both sized each other up, trying get a read on the other.

“I’ll see you on Friday then.” Kara stated after cocking her head to the side.

“Friday.” You nodded.

Then Kara was gone in a flash. At least she had the decency to leave the lights on. You glanced at the strip Kara had been training on and you felt a pang in your chest.

Your legs took you there without you knowing. Then you found yourself standing exactly where she stood. You were sorely tempted to lower yourself and attempt to go En-Garde after so long. It had only been around three months or so since your ACL tore but it had felt like a hundred years.

Unfortunately, your conscience was too strong and you listened to your better judgement.

You walked out of that room feeling more miserable than ever.

 


 

By the time you went to the fencing hall, it had been quite a day. Alex and Maggie had been particularly insistent about talking about how to handle your conditioning post-therapy. Plus you’d been trying to dodge calls from Corben and your brother, both of which were well aware that your therapy sessions were almost up.

Corben in particular was very keen about talking to you. It took a lot of convincing on your part to get him to go home to Metropolis because he couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel room forever. That and having him here would remind you too much of your life as an athlete, as an Olympian.

Suffice to say, you had no desire to talk to him so soon.

As you entered the large hall, Kara was already there. She usually was. Ever the punctual one that girl. When she saw you enter, she gave you an awkward wave before yanking off the hoodie she was wearing.

“I’m tired today so let’s keep this short and sweet.” You said aloud.

“Hear, hear.” Kara replied, deadpan.

When you got closer to her, Kara didn’t look so good. She looked pale and she looked tired, there were dark circles under her eyes.

Kara bent down to grab her equipment when you stopped her. Your hand was on her shoulder and she stood up to meet you. There was a questioning look in her eye.

You knew you both didn’t end things well the last time but the silent treatment was a little bit much.

“We’re done today.”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “You promised.”

“I know what I said. But you look like you’re ready to drop dead at any moment. I can’t have that.” You told her firmly.

“I’m fine.” She insisted.

No she wasn’t. She wasn’t fine at all. Kara was always glowing and youthful whenever you saw her. It almost pissed you off how perfect she looked all the time. While it was nice to see that she was human too, you didn’t wish this amount of fatigue on her.

“No, we’re done here.” You said as you started to turn on your heels and walk right out of the room.

“I told you I’m fine.” Kara walked after you.

“You’re obviously tired. I know you’ve been training for the competition, that means you’ve been putting extra hours. It’s already stupid enough that we’re doing these late night sessions at all. It’s extraordinarily stupid that you’re still doing this on top of what you’ve been doing today. Go home.” You said through gritted teeth.

She looked ready to protest but then she must’ve realized that you were only looking out for her. Kara stopped tensing and slowly started to relax. Eventually, her shoulders slumped over and true enough, she looked just about ready to keel over.

But you knew that look in her eye. You knew that feeling all too well. It was clear that she wasn’t ready to go home yet. She lived and breathed the sport, going home like this didn’t feel right.

Instead of pushing her out the door, you sat down on the far end of the strip near the wall. You leaned back and patted the empty space beside you.

“Okay, come here. Sit.”

Kara did as you asked. You heard her sigh as she sat down and rested her head against wall. “Now what?”

“You just sit. You breathe. You try to relax.”

“That’s it?”

You tilted your head slightly. “That’s all you can do right now. We can always talk... not that we’re any good at it.”

“We’re not too bad at it.” Kara said with a smile.

You shook your head. “No, I’d say we’re pretty bad at it.” You laughed.

You watched Kara slowly pull off the hair band constricting her golden hair. It felt down gently upon her shoulder, the sight of it was almost too perfect. Then her eyes were on you. “Why do you think that is?”

You pulled your knees to your chest. “I’m awful at communicating. You communicate too much. Stuff gets lost in between. We are just incompatible... communicators.

“Ah. So you’ve thought about this.”

You reached for the Slurpee you came with and took a sip. A sigh of contentment sipped through your lips. “I didn’t need to think about it. It’s obvious.”

Kara was side-eyeing your Slurpee. “Don’t you think you should cut back on the sugar? Especially when your training is just around the corner.”

“I’m... trying not to think about it.” You admitted.

“Lena.” She called your name out sternly.

You gave her a wry smile. “I know, I know. I’ll deal with it when I get there...” then you shoved the Slurpee towards her. “Want some?”

“Yeah, sure.” Then Kara took a sip from it and sighing. “I miss sugar. And junk food.”

You smiled at the sight of her. Kara was one of those expressive people and when she was enjoyed something, you knew it. If there was one thing you genuinely admired about her, without reservation, was that she was simple and uncomplicated.

“Okay, take it back before I have to buy you another one.” Kara said dramatically.

“No, just keep it. You seem to love it more than I do right now.”

Kara happily accepted it but not before inhaling deeply and leaning her head against the wall. She had this faraway look. “I feel so...”

“Tired?” You supplied.

“Yeah.”

“That does tend to happen when you push yourself too hard.”

Kara shook her head and laughed. “You sound like Alex.”

“And if she were here, she’d be scolding you.”

“It’s fine.” Kara said as she nudged you playfully with her shoulder. “You are scolding me plenty.”

You only grinned. “And I’m not supposed to. I’m your rival, not your keeper.”

Kara’s head shot towards you and she had this smirk. “Oh. So we’re rivals now? Who’s to say Lucy Lane isn’t my rival?”

“Absolutely not. Lucy Lane is nowhere near our league.” You said with great horror.

“Oh. So it’s our league now.”

For some reason, Kara had you smiling from ear to ear and it felt good. For a while, you’d been drowning in your own problems. It was nice to smile and to laugh. “Just shut up.”

“So are we friends now?” Kara asked cheekily.

You visibly rolled your eyes at her and started to push you yourself up from the ground. All the while, Kara never took her eyes off you. “God forbid that happen.”

“Where are you going?”

You pointed towards the clock. “It’s late and we’re both tired. I’m calling it a night. You should too.”

“And will I see you on Sunday night?”

Well, she was nothing but persistent. As athletes, you had to be at least this bullheaded.

“If you do show up here on Sunday night, I won’t be here so you might as well go home and actually get some rest.” You replied tiredly.

“But—“

You raised an eyebrow at her and shot her a look. “But nothing. If you are here on Sunday, I will sic Alex on you and you will never hear the end of it.”

That shut her up quickly because the thought of Alex finding out made her turn pale. She went for the Slurpee and took a quick sip to keep her discomfort at bay.

“Okay. I won’t be here then.” She finally said.

“Good. See you next week.”

Then you walked back to your dorm room and hoped Kara wasn’t an idiot. You hoped to god she wasn’t an idiot because she couldn’t afford to get hurt or to get sick right before a big competition like this. She had to be smarter.

For your sake, she had to be smarter.

You needed her to fence because you couldn’t. It wasn’t fair of you to try and live vicariously through her, to fence on your behalf but you didn’t know what else to do.

You couldn’t keep relying on Kara Danvers to succeed for you.

 


 

It was Sunday night and you’d just gotten back from Alex and Maggie’s place.

You weren’t quite sure why but the two of them had brought it upon themselves to take care you. It felt like they adopted you. They were always checking up on you, inviting you to dinners, and never making you feel out of place.

This was one of those nights where they took you under their wing and made you feel welcome here at National City.

There were boardgames, good wine, and lots of cheese. It was fun. Tremendously fun.

If there was anything you didn’t like about them, it was the fact that they were so in love with each other. While seeing them together usually warmed your cold heart, it also brought up some other feelings.

You could only stomach being around them so much because they reminded you of how lonely you were. Then you remembered that you did this to yourself and that you chose fencing over everything else.

You chose this life and now you had to keep living it.

Right now, you were all wined up and you wanted nothing more than to hit the sack and sleep forever. As an athlete, you typically didn’t drink. But now that you weren’t wholly obligated to train for something, you could finally indulge yourself.

You were humming a silly little tune to yourself as you pushed the heavy doors to the center. You were already tunnel-visioning and all you could see was the elevator at the end of the hall. You were already thinking of falling into your soft soft mattress and drifting off to sleep when you heard noises.

And by god, you knew what those noises were.

“Goddamn it.” You hissed as you started walking faster.

As you got to the Fencing Hall, you were hoping and wishing that she wasn’t that stupid. But you couldn’t blame her. In some ways, all athletes were a little stupid when it came to taking care of themselves.

When you got there, you felt your heart drop. Before you knew what you were doing, you had dropped your bag onto the floor and your legs were bringing you to her.

Kara Danvers was hunched over on the floor and the last time you felt this panicked was when you crumpled onto the ground mid-match.

“What did I fucking tell you? You can’t keep pushing yourself like this. What’s wrong. What hurts?” The words just flew out of your mouth. You had no idea where this panic was coming from.

Kara was pale and breathing harshly. “I’m just having a really really bad leg cramp.” She rasped, her words coming out in short breaths.

You eased up a little. It was just a cramp. She was fine.

“How bad is bad?”

“It hurts like a bitch.” She shot back as her face contorted in pain.

She was swearing, it must be bad. Kara Danvers usually didn’t swear unless it was worth swearing about. It was an endearing quality of hers.

You brought out your phone and started going through your contacts. “I’m going to call Alex.”

Kara suddenly grabbed your wrist and her eyes were manic. “No! Don’t you dare call her.”

You lowered your phone slightly. “Then what do you expect me to do?”

“Don’t worry about it.” She grunted. “It just needs stretching. And besides. I’m probably just dehydrated.”

You glowered at her. “Or your muscles are fatigued from overexertion.”

Kara groaned in pain as her breathing grew even more labored. “Oh, spare me the lecture. Athletes get cramps all the time!”

You sat down next to her. “Not me. Because I take care of myself.”

She gave you this dirty look. “You can gloat all you want, just help me stretch it out.”

You took a deep breath and tried to keep eye contact with her. You took her hands and slowly pried them away from her leg. The moment you laid your hands on her, you could feel the muscles shifting sporadically. It must’ve been so painful.

“I’m just gonna go for it. I won’t count to three.” You warned her.

“Okay.” She nodded grimly.

“Keep your eyes on me. Don’t look away, alright?” You said reassuringly.

She nodded.

Without further ado, you held her firmly and stretched her leg in one swift jerk. Kara cried out in pain and inhaled sharply. “Holy crap!”

You couldn’t help but laugh at her reaction. She just needed help with the initial stretch because that was the painful part. Kara could handle it from here on out. The pain was manageable now. “That wasn’t so bad.”

“For you maybe.” She frowned.

“I’m going to say something and you’re not gonna like it.”

Kara regarded you with another dirty look as she continued to stretch out her leg. “I have a feeling I know what it is.”

“Well I’ll say it anyway.” Then you leaned in closed and smirked. “I told you so.”

She shook her head at you and made some kind of disgusted noise. Kara looked like she wanted to say something but she dropped it in order to focus on her leg. You took a gander around the room and saw her Sabre lying on the floor. You reached out and grabbed it, bringing it towards you. For a brief moment, you enjoyed the feel of the grip in your hand.

“Remember how they make you do all these push ups and lunges whenever you dropped your Sabre by accident?”

She smiled, but the pain twisted it. “I had burpees instead. We all hated it.”

“Oh, not fun.”

Kara gave you a knowing glance. “I know what you’re doing by the way...”

You cocked your head to the side. “And what is that?”

“You’re trying to distract me from the pain. That’s pretty nice of you.” She stated, Kara sounded a little too pleased to find out that you cared enough to be nice.

You casually placed your hand on her leg without thinking about it. It was meant to be friendly but for one second, you felt nervous at the physical contact. You weren’t a touchy person. “How does it feel?”

“A little better now. Thanks for the assist.”

You pulled your hand away. “So can we talk about why you’re here on Sunday night or will I have to be angry at you. Because what you’re doing is stupid.”

“Lena—“

You suddenly grabbed at her shoulders and she stopped stretching her leg. “No. You listen to me now because this is irresponsible.”

Kara made no move to speak and if she still felt pain, her expression didn’t give anything away.

“You’re young and healthy. There’s no reason for you to keep doing this to yourself. What are you even trying to prove, Kara? There’s nothing to prove anymore. You’re on top now. You’re it. You’re the best and this is excessive. While I believe that athletes should never become complacent; what you’re doing is different. There is such a thing as overexerting yourself. The only reason why I’m still here even when you don’t actually need me is because if I’m at least watching you, I can make sure nothing bad happens to you. ”

“It’s just a cramp.” She said in annoyance.

“It’s just a cramp today. Tomorrow, it could be something a hell of a lot worse.”

“I have it under control.” She said through gritted teeth, not even looking you in the eye anymore.

“You don’t.”

You were met with silence, the deafening kind if that made any sense. Leaning forward, you gripped her shoulders a little tighter.

“Look at me.” You said firmly.

And look at you she did. There were so many things flashing across her face and her eyes were so dark. What you liked about her eyes was how clear and lucid they were, always capable of seeing right through you. Right now, you couldn’t read her and that was unusual. She rarely masked what she felt.

“Kara, what do you have to prove?”

Then her poker face slipped away and watching her awash with all that emotion nearly took your breath away. You almost cowered at the intensity of it.

“Everything. I have everything to prove. You don’t know what it’s like walking in your footsteps. The pressure I feel to be seen as a damn good fencer when you exist. I have to be better. I want people to see me. Me! The only thing I really want is to not be you. That’s all I want.”

Her outburst was unexpected but she looked so vulnerable. She always seemed so happy and so simple. Like she could weather through life’s problems with ease but even that was a lie. The one thing you genuinely admired about her was a facade. She was just like you. Only younger and with so much ahead of her.

“Kara...”

“It sounds selfish. It really is selfish. I of all people know what I’m doing to myself. But I can’t stand the way I am. I just can’t measure up to you no matter how hard I try and I thought that if I could be better, maybe people would start to see me. But they don’t. They never do. Even here on my home turf, you’re all people ever talk about. They can’t talk about me for five seconds without bringing you up. I’m always being forced to contend with your great legacy. What do I have to do to be seen?”

Hearing all this just about broke your heart. You spent so much time resenting her for taking everything away from you when she was silently already resenting you all along. With you around, she could never be anything more than your second.

“And besides, isn’t this exactly what you wanted? If I’m injured, I can’t be around to threaten you. You can keep your damn rank for all I freaking care.” She seethed.

Your jaw clenched and your chest ached. This was filling you with uncomfortable feelings. You pulled your hands away from her and they clenched into fists.

“Say what you will about me... I know I’m not a good person. I’ve never pretended to be one. But never accuse me of wanting that. I’m many things, Kara, but I will never stoop that low.” Then you breathed in deeply because you were about to admit to something you never wanted to admit to her.

“The only reason I’m here is because I care about you. There, I said it. I actually care about you. Does this mean we’re friends? I don’t fucking know, but I don’t think that matters. I want you to succeed because you are extraordinary, Kara. You inspire me everyday and I want to become better because of you. I want to be the person you think I am.”

An unbearable silence filled the space and the growing tension grew dense, tangible. Neither of you could scarcely breathe. You could almost hear your own heartbeat thudding away in your chest. Both of you were just staring. Searching. Trying to understand and feeling the gravity of it all.

“You are kind, by the way.” Kara said under her breath. It was almost a whisper but you heard her.

“You’re just saying that.”

Kara reached out and placed her hand on top of yourself. “If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here yelling at me. You could be anywhere else right now but you chose to keep an eye on me.”

“I’m sorry. You’re the one with the cramp... I shouldn’t be yelling at you.” You sighed as you slid your free hand over your head in frustration.

Kara smiled wryly. “You’re the one who tore her ACL. I should be the one apologizing.”

You raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Then apologize.”

Kara was caught off guard because her eyes turned to the size of dinner plates. Then ever so slowly, she smiled and it transformed her entire face. You bit your lip and tried to ignore the butterflies in your stomach as they fluttered about. She looked absolutely stunning.

“Okay then. I’m sorry for pushing myself... and for worrying you. I won’t do it anymore.” She apologized, her voice bursting with sincerity. When she sounded like that, it was hard to stay remotely angry.

“Good. Because I don’t like touchy feely crap and I hate you for making me say touchy feely crap.”

Kara’s hand squeezed yours on reflex and that was when you realized she still had her hand on yours. You first instinct was to pull away but you couldn’t do it, you didn’t want to. At least not yet.

“It’s nice knowing that you’re a little human underneath all that ice.” She teased you.

“Just a little?” You joked.

“You know what I mean. You like to walk around pretending that nothing gets to you but it does. It’s not a crime to feel.”

“I know.” You replied, your hand squeezing hers back without a second thought.

“Well...” then Kara thumb started stroking your skin. It was a small thing but you were aware of the motion. Far too aware of it. “It doesn’t matter what other people think anyway. Just know that I know there’s more to you and so far...”

“So far?” You echoed, your voice was barely a whisper.

“So far... I like what I see.”

Your heart was beating erratically in your chest and you were hanging on every word that came out of that beautiful mouth. This was exactly why you hated being vulnerable. Being vulnerable meant you had to open up yourself to someone enough for them to see your flaws. You didn’t feel right in your own skin and your stomach coiled. This was what vulnerability did to you and it was unpleasant as hell.

The scariest part of all was the idea that someone could see you at your most vulnerable and still want you.

Someone with that power could shake the ground you stood upon and unmake you. The thought alone was frightening.

You slipped your hand away and you felt the absence of her warmth acutely. “I think that if you keep digging, you won’t like what you find.”

“Doesn’t matter.” Kara said with this warm smile. “I’m not so shallow of a person that I would reject you for the things that make you human.”

You sucked in a shaken breath. “How’s the leg?”

Kara seemed to be fully aware that you were deflecting. “It’s better now. How’s yours?”

“It’s fine.” You said a little to firmly as you abruptly pushed yourself off the ground. “I’m going to bed now. I can still feel all the wine your sister made me drink in my system.”

“Oh. Well goodnight then.” Kara replied with that all knowing smile of hers.

“Goodnight.” You said after several beats.

“Don’t be a stranger.”

You gave her a little salute as you walked out of the fencing hall. As soon as you rounded the corner, you started flexing your hand. Your skin felt all tingly and your chest felt tight. All you wanted was to go somewhere where you could breathe.

This whole ordeal was a little too much for you right now.

Things got a little too real just now.

Too real for comfort and you wanted to stop feeling this way. You were starting to recognize the all consuming emotion that had been eating away at you and it was terrifying.

Your hand desperately clutched at your chest. Maybe what you wanted didn’t matter anymore. Maybe it was all futile now to try and run from it.

The ground was already shaking and you were the last person to realize it.

And at the epicenter of it all was her.

Chapter Text

Lena

“You’re particularly restless today.”

You shot Maggie a glare as you leaned back in your chair and groaned. Your leg was propped up and Maggie was doing ultrasound around your knee. It was a strange thing at first because it wasn’t cold to the touch like you initially thought. Now you actually looked forward to doing the ultrasound because it felt nice.

“Do you actually have a question?” You grounded out.

Maggie raised an eyebrow at you. “Someone’s got an attitude today and that’s saying something... all things considered.”

Okay fine. You were a little grouchy today and you knew exactly why.

Kara Danvers was off competing in Anaheim and she was most likely going to win. You knew that because she was simply that good. You’d known it since you saw her prepping for your first match back in 2013. She had raw talent and she was going to be legend someday.

Meanwhile, you were stuck here. Doing physical therapy and working on your recovery.

People always said that doing your best was enough but they never said how frustrating it was. You knew that all you could do was focus on the now, which was simply the worst by the way.

“Can I guess why or are you going to be all tall, dark, and broody?” Maggie asked you caustically.

“I’m not even that tall.”

“You know what I mean.” She sighed.

“It’s really obvious actually.” Bellowed a third voice belonging to a particular doctor happily involved with your physical therapist.

Alex Danvers walked in with this knowing smile that pissed you off. She pulled up a chair and sat beside Maggie whose eyes lit up with great interest. Alex just sat there looking smug, her fingers were tapping against the clipboard. The sound alone was going to drive you nuts and she knew that.

“Are you actually going to say anything or are you just going to sit there and look smug?” You accused her.

Alex crossed her legs and smiled before looked to Maggie. “Lena’s just pissed that Kara’s down in California. Competing. Fencing. Not doing an ultrasound right now.”

Maggie’s grin turned wide. “Oh. That makes so much sense now. What time are the eliminations?”

“Why are we just assuming she’ll just jump right over the pools?” You scoffed.

They both gave you a look and they did it in perfect sync, if you didn’t know them, you would’ve thought they choreographed this. You groaned again and dramatically rolled your eyes. “Okay fine. You’re both right. She’ll probably even win the damn thing.”

“My little sister’s good, Luthor.” Alex boasted, her face beaming with pride.

“Yes, I am painfully aware of that.”

Maggie shot you a look. “Oh my god. You’re not even denying it. You’re not even snarky about it.”

The way the both were looking at you was starting to grate on your nerves. Was it that big of a deal to them that you could now tolerate Kara?

“Do you want me to kick you?” You snarled.

“Ooh, what crawled up your ass this morning?” Alex teased.

You leaned your head all the way back and stared at the ceiling. “I’m not speaking to any of you.” You warned.

“That’s fine by us. We can just talk to each other. Who says we need you, Luthor?” Maggie replied without missing another beat.

You closed your eyes and groaned. This was now how you wanted your morning to go.

It was easy enough to recall how much Kara was fussing over you before she left. She had no reason to pass by the Fencing Center that morning but for some misguided reason, she felt compelled to drop by and say goodbye. Not that you didn’t want to see her before she left. It would be a lie to say that you didn’t.

To be fair to her, you’d been training with her almost every other night. Not seeing each other at this point would be an oddity, a deviation from routine.

And lord knows how much athletes loved consistency and routine.

“I’ll be back before you know it.” She proclaimed. It was the first thing that shot straight out of her mouth the very moment she made her presence known. She was was wearing this white t-shirt and leggings that highlighted her strong legs, the picture of a very attractive athlete. With a baseball cap in tow, she looked ready to fly down to sunny California.

You’d been stuffing your face into a book. A recent hobby now that Netflix had grown rather stale. When you lifted your head up, you narrowed your eyes at her and frowned. It hadn’t even occurred to you that it was competition day. In fact, it was the furthest thing from your mind.

And there was also the fact that the woman just barged into your dorm room, clearly unaware of the concept of knocking.

“Aren’t you going to be late for your flight?” You replied curtly.

It was a sour moment for you knowing that you were supposed to be there too. You were slated to kick all kinds of fencing ass but instead, you were stuck here while Kara could go on and secure what could’ve been your glory.

“Well yeah... but I wanted to drop by and see how you were doing.” She told you with this earnest look on her face, it was hard to stay grumpy.

“As you can see, I was just in the middle of reading.”

“Oh. Well. I just wanted to tell you I was leaving.” She stated awkwardly.

You sighed. “You know, they invented phones for a reason. You could’ve just called or texted.”

“You’re allergic to responding to messages.” She scoffed before further adding to her point. “Also when you decline calls that fast, it makes it very clear to the caller that you don’t want to talk.”

Oh, busted. You weren’t happy about it but Kara was slowly starting to understand your various moods and whims. Sometimes she was just so damn intuitive about you, it was very disarming.

What was also irritating was how quickly she learned. She was the ideal student. Kara had great athleticism that just came naturally to her. It didn’t matter if what you were asking for was physically demanding, she would do it without breaking a sweat. She was also very keen and annoyingly intelligent, adopting new strategies and adapting to new situations. She also had excellent judgement.

Suffice to say, it was easy to see how she climbed the ranks so quickly.

And even if you did feel the occasional swell of pride for her, you also felt fear.

The kind of fear that would begin deep from your gut then roll over your whole body like a plague before finally consuming your thoughts. You hated feeling it because you knew that Kara was innocent in all of this. Whatever anxiety you had over your future in the sport, Kara Danvers was not responsible for it. You knew that now.

With that in mind, you quite literally turned your frown upside-down.

“I promise to reply henceforth. Now go. Don’t miss your flight.” You told her warmly.

Kara looked like she didn’t believe you. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and started waving it around. “So if I texted you right now, you’d reply straight away?”

“Yes.”

“And if I communicated via emoji?”

“I assure you that I would never ever be caught using emojis.”

“So if I—“

“Kara, just go.” You cut her off in annoyance. Luckily, she was used to your moods and didn’t take any offense whatsoever.

Kara took on a bright smile and gave you a funny little salute, even you had to admit that the gesture was kind of cute. Just acknowledging that in your head meant that you were getting soft.

Well, that and her stupid smile.

“Well… I’ll be—“

“Back before I know it? Yeah I heard you the first time. Don’t worry Danvers, I won’t miss you.” You replied.

Kara flushed slightly but her dumb grin remained. She sheepishly tucked her hair behind her ear before finally deciding to go. She left without another word, disappearing in a blur of blonde.

Despite what you told her, you were going to miss her. Kara had grown on you and it would feel a little strange roaming the halls of the Fencing Center without her in it. It didn’t feel right.

And concerning the incident with Kara’s leg cramp, it made things with Kara... ambivalent. At least, for you they were. She had shaken you up in a big way and you were still trying to figure out how to deal with it.

So far, Kara hadn’t caught on that you’d been keeping her at arm’s length. You’d prefer to keep it that way, for now. Getting under your skin without meaning to seemed to be her favorite pastime.

And now you were here, on a chair in the rehab center and suffering at the hands of two medical professionals trying to be comedians.

“Well since it’s a competition day, everyone’s gonna be at the bar.” Alex spoke directly to you, immediately thrusting you out of your thoughts. “You coming?”

“Excuse me?”

Alex narrowed her eyes at you. “I was asking if you wanted to join us at Noonan’s this afternoon. Everyone not in Anaheim is gonna watch the games.”

You nodded slowly. “Sure. It’s not like I have anything better to do.”

Maggie looked askance at you. “Play nice with the other fencers down there okay?”

“I’m not five.” You quipped.

“Could’ve fooled me.” She scoffed right back.

You inhaled deeply and withheld your temper. Maggie had just finished wiping off the gel on your leg so you began pulling down your joggers. “Whatever. Let’s just finished this up so we can go already.”

Alex raised an eyebrow at you. “Okay...?”

You mouth remained a firm line. You were a little regretful about your attitude this morning but you didn’t have the patience to lighten up. Maybe you’d apologize for it later but for now, it was just easier to remain in your bad mood where you could pretend that Kara not being here was the only thing bothering you.

Yet oddly enough, the only person you wanted to unload your frustrations on was miles away from you.

 


 

Kara

It’s a funny thing, life. Ordinarily, the moment you stepped foot into the competition venue, you were focused. That usually involved putting on some music and warming up with some exercises but you were uncharacteristically antsy.

Your head should be in the game. The only thing you were supposed to think about were your upcoming matches.

And yet, here you were worrying about Lena.

You found yourself wondering if her therapy session was productive because she always complained to you during training if she felt that she hadn’t made any progress. You also thought about if she actually ate her regulated meals or she decided to be a rebel and run across the street for a quick burger. You wondered if she had finished that book she was reading or if she gave up and went back to Netflix, it could go both ways. Sometimes she had an infinite amount of patience but more often than not, she had a short fuse.

These were all questions you couldn’t afford to ask. You didn’t have the luxury or the time to dwell on these things.

And yet you worried still.

Would she watch your game? Would she critique your technique when you returned? Or maybe she would actually give you her rare smile that made everything worth it and tell you that you were great?

Honestly, why did this matter?

Even your coach was giving you strange looks but he didn’t say anything. If anything, he was probably trying to figure out what was wrong with you.

Not that anything was wrong.

You could always turn off your brain whenever you stepped onto the Piste. It was like a switch in your head.

But then again, Hank Henshaw was an intuitive guy. He was one of those strong silent types. A legend in the fencing community back in the day. As a matter of fact, the National City Fencing Center was his baby. His pet project with his old buddies; influential buddies.

Born and raised in National City, he always found it unfortunate that there wasn’t a proper fencing center in his home turf so when he retired for good, he started the center. Eventually he would get the city’s support and gain the funding to also turn it into a rehab facility which in turn allowed its expansion into the sprawling complex it was today.

While the Fencing Center was his idea, he was ultimately a fencer through and through so he left the administrative duties to people who knew what they were doing and he relegated himself to coaching the next generation of fencers.

When you came to the center, it was still in it’s early years and barely the modern facility it was today. It was nice knowing that the center grew with you. It was practically your home away from home.

And if anything, Hank Henshaw was lot like a father to you. Your heart clenched whenever you thought of your father and how he had passed away when you were younger. It left this void in your chest that never truly healed.

“What’s bothering you?” Hank finally asked you. He probably decided that the direct approach was better.

“It’s probably nothing.” You told him, not wanting him to worry about you.

Still, he remained pensive. “Probably?”

You shrugged. “Yeah well, let’s just say that I’m stressing over nothing. Don’t worry Hank, I’m a hundred percent.”

Hank smiled knowingly, he didn’t believe you. “Why don’t you just call her?”

While this conversation was happening, you were busy warming up and doing practice lunges. When the words came out of his mouth, you immediately froze and yours eyes widened. “Excuse me?”

“Alex tells me you’ve become friends with Lena Luthor. I know you Kara. I know you worry about you friends, you can’t help it. Why don’t you check up on her so you can calm down.” He told you warmly.

Your cheeks flushed slightly. “I wouldn’t say we’re friends. At least from her perspective, we’re the furthest thing from friends.”

“Sounds like you are friends. Give her a call.” He told you as if it was a done deal. Then he walked off, most likely to give you some space. He had this annoying smile on his face when he walked away.

Damn it, Hank.

Despite your conflicting thoughts, you found yourself reaching for your phone. Before you knew it, you were face to face with her number, your thumb hovering over the call button.

Without giving yourself time to back out, you held your breath and just went for it.

It occurred to you that this was your first actual phone call with her. You didn’t actually know how to deal with a simple voice call with Lena. You relied so much on being able to see her face, being able to gauge her expressions to determine her tone.

With only her voice, you had no idea what to do.

You pressed your phone against your ear and listened to the dial tone, praying that she wouldn’t actually pick up. Chances are she wouldn’t, she was allergic to social communication. Well, normally she was.

When the dial tone rang for too long, you were just about ready to breathe a sigh of relief. Then suddenly, the dial tone stopped and you heard a voice.

“Hello?”

In that moment, your heart stopped. You were so nervous, you had no idea why.

You sucked in a shaken breath. “Hey, Lena.”

She was quiet for too long. You could almost imagine the tiny crease between her eyebrows when she fretted over something. “Did you suck so bad that you need me to console you?” She finally said, her voice laced with her patented brand of sarcasm. It was kind of endearing.

“I’m happy to report that the pools went by swimmingly.” You replied with a grin.

“Is that supposed to be a swimming joke?”

You stifled a laugh. “Definitely not.”

“So how did it go?”

You started pacing around your tiny corner of the arena. It was loud in here but you could hear Lena clearly. “You forget that I’m ranked two in the world.”

“Ah right. The top sixteen get promoted straight to Direct Elimination. I forgot you were my second.” Her voice was light and teasing.

You glanced around you and waved casually at a friendly fencer you knew. “What are you up to right now anyway? Aside from wrongfully gloating about your rank when your win percentage against me is zero percent.”

You could already see her glaring at you, it was strange. “I’m on my way to Noonan’s actually. Your sister invited me to come watch your matches so you better not be terrible. There’s nothing I hate more than rank amateurs parading around like seasoned professionals.”

You laughed. “Does that arrogance ever go away?”

“Maybe when I stop breathing.”

You paused for a moment when you found Hank trying to grab your attention. He was pointing towards his watch and telling you to wrap it up because your first match was happening soon.

“Does the illustrious Lena Luthor have any advice for little old me?” You asked her with a soft smile.

Lena pondered over that for a moment because the only sound you could hear was her breathing. Finally she spoke.

“Relax and pretend you’re facing me.” Her voice was low and it rolled over you like honey.

Suddenly, the only thing you could feel was your heart thudding wildly in your chest. Her words had taken you aback, why did they affect you so?

“Why...?” You asked her breathlessly.

You heard her inhale deeply. “Don’t ever repeat this to anyone but I use you for image training.”

“Image training?”

“Yeah. When you try to imagine your matches beforehand—“

“I know what image training is, Lena.” You cut her off.

“Well there you go. In every match since our first one, I use you to get into the zone and focus. At least, it works until the finals match and then when you’re actually there, it all goes downhill but still...”

You smiled from ear to ear. “Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“When I said I’d help train you. I meant it. I don’t hold back so whatever it is I teach you, it’s everything I know. Don’t waste it.” She followed up.

You nodded firmly. “Got it.”

“Don’t do anything stupid, okay?”

“Are you worrying about me, Luthor?” You teased.

She scoffed. “God forbid.”

You heard your sister’s voice come through the phone. Something about asking Lena if she was coming in. You heard her utter a quick reply before getting back to you. “I have to go now.” She said, almost sounding disappointed but you knew better.

“Bye, Lena.”

“Goodbye, Kara.”

Then the call ended then and there. You jogged over to Hank, duffel bag in hand and you were more than ready for today’s matches.

Hearing her voice seemed to be more invigorating than any words of encouragement that Hank could possibly muster. Is this what it felt like to have someone like Lena Luthor in your corner?

The thought warmed you.

 


 

Lena

“That’s not a Simultanè. Kara obviously has the attack, her foot dropped first!” Maggie yelled at the television, one hand was angrily gesturing towards the screen, the other was clutching a pint of beer.

You crossed your arms and frowned deeply. You also had your own pint of beer on your side of the bar. “Doesn’t matter, the referee will call it simultaneous because that’s what he does. One of them has to ask for a video review.” You grumbled.

The referee in question was notorious for calling clear touches as simultaneous attacks. It was either the man was blind or he was too damn lazy to check the video review. Either way, he was an asshole.

Alex had yet to say a single word but you could see that her knuckles were growing white from clutching her beer. She wasn’t alone, everyone else was so tense.

It was all good fun when you arrived at Noonan’s earlier. Kara was breezing through her matches and everyone was getting tipsy off half-priced pints of beer.

You also ended up meeting a whole slew of young ambitious fencers who dreamed of fencing at your level. There were quite a few autographs signed and some pictures were taken but none of that grated at you.

But that was earlier. It was much later in the afternoon now and Kara was in a bit of a bind here in her semi-finals match. She was up against Olesya Rafikov, an older Russian fencer who did pretty well for herself a few years back. She was one of those looming giants, she came from a time when Russia was winning all the gold. At the age of thirty-three, she was still proving to everyone that she was one of the best.

When you were a much younger fencer, you admired her technique. She was always so precise, never overstepping and never overshooting. She always landed her hits precisely as she meant it to. It’s how she kept her endurance.

The only reason why you were better the few times you faced her before was because she didn’t have half your power. She relied on wearing you down, waiting until you got sloppy. That kind of mentality could easily be overcome by anyone with great athleticism, stamina, and a strategic mind. You had all of that.

Kara had that too.

She just needed to take a deep breathe and realize how Rafikov could be beaten. It wasn’t rocket science.

The score was now sitting at 8-10 with Rafikov leading by two points. Kara had to get her act together by the next bout if she wanted to regain the momentum.

“Come on, Kara...” you muttered under your breath without even thinking about it.

“What’s wrong with her?” Alex asked you. She understood the sport but Sabre Fencing was notoriously difficult to follow.

You shrugged. “She doesn’t know how to deal with Rafikov and I can’t blame her. They’ve never fenced each other before.”

“But she’ll figure it out won’t she?” Alex asked, already sounding worried.

“Rafikov just seems impenetrable at first glance. All she needs to do is overwhelm her and she’ll get through. Rafikov is only scoring with technical parry-ripostes. She’ll never do anything excessive. Kara needs to be more daring... like she usually is.” You continued on.

You watched Kara remove her mask quickly just to take in a deep breath. She placed it back on her head and went En-Garde. Her shoulders were relaxed, her Sabre at ready. You immediately noticed that Kara wasn’t on the offensive this time around, at least she deliberately tried not to take the offensive.

She worked best as the aggressor, especially with her stamina and athletic prowess, it would be a shame not to take advantage of her natural talents. But with her on the defensive, she would have to rely on her bladework. You knew for a fact that between the two of you, for all your similarities, you were better on the technical side.

You were better than Kara in that aspect but Rafikov was better than you.

This was not a smart move on Kara’s part. She only had so many points to spare.

Kara was baiting Rafikov out, both fencers were continually moving forwards and back, neither giving any quarter. This was a mental game now. Whoever lost their concentration first would lose the bout.

Then Kara suddenly moved forward and flicked her sword, Rafikov was caught unawares and was unable to move her blade out of her way, allowing Kara to successfully pull off a beat attack. Now Rafikov was on the retreat, trying to prevent Kara from making an attack now that she had the right of way.

The moment Kara launched herself across the strip, you knew she had regained her momentum.

Pushing off her back leg, she propelled herself upward. The full force of the momentum allowed her to Flunge at Rafikov. The Russian had moved to a parry-five, her sword arm lifted up, her blade almost horizontal.

But then Kara was able to maneuver her blade just in time to avoid the parry and score! The lone sound of the machine echoed all around the four corners of the bar, signifying that it was Kara’s touch.

Everyone cheered at the same time, even you. You lifted your fist up in triumphant before sheepishly putting it down and pretending that you weren’t that invested. You had a reputation to uphold.

You exhaled in relief and relaxed. “She’ll be fine. She gets it now.”

Alex ran a hand through her hair and sighed. “That was stressful.”

It was stressful, and you loved it. This was why you loved being on that strip so much. You loved the thrill of the match. You loved being on the edge, where your split second decisions made all the difference. The tiniest slip up would cost you greatly. You thrived on the strip and nothing else made you feel more alive.

But when you weren’t there, you never quite felt like yourself. You always felt empty.

Whenever you fenced, you never had to think. In some ways, it had become an escape from the mundaneness of your day to day life. You only became someone when you were holding a Sabre.

If you weren’t Lena Luthor, two-time Olympian and seven-time world champion then who were you?

Fencing didn’t deserve this from you. It was noble sport and it did not deserve this treatment from you, you who revered it.

Mired in your thoughts, the world around you continued on. The bar remained lively until the evening and Kara went through to her finals match without a hitch. When you saw that her opponent was Lucy Lane—who had a passable match against Yllena Cosovei from Romania—you knew she had it in the bag.

Lucy Lane’s flaws were so obvious to anyone with eyes. She was a little too proud to be receptive to further learning. She was good, she had talent. But she was lazy and so stuck in the idea that just because she had some talent in Sabre meant that she didn’t have room for improvement. She also liked to stay in her bubble of resignation, not even attempting to strive to Kara’s level.

She just decided that some people were unattainable and was content to stay in her place.

You disliked people like her.

She could go far yet she chose not to. How irritable.

True enough, watching the finals match was a little boring. Everyone in the bar knew it too. Kara steamrolled Lucy and there was no real challenge here. The final score sat at around 15-8, it was a little sad to watch. Lucy Lane was predictable and Kara took full advantage of that. She barely even broke a sweat.

It was an overall underwhelming affair.

“And that’s all she wrote.” Maggie stated. She didn’t seem surprised by Lucy’s loss.

It was around time for dinner now. Some people were hanging around while others were leaving, most likely seeking proper food for the evening. Alex and Maggie were pondering aloud over what they should have for dinner. It was clear that the fun was over now.

“So we’re heading out for some sushi, you wanna tag along?” Alex asked you.

“Sure.” You replied almost immediately, not quite ready to head home just yet.

As you joined the the crowd of athletes exiting the bar, you felt your phone vibrating in your pocket. Normally, you would ignore it but this time, you felt like taking the call.

Trailing behind Alex and Maggie, you pulled the phone to your ear. A cool breeze was blowing and the sky was slowly turning to gold. After inhaling deeply, you finally greeted her.

“Kara.”

“Told you I’d win.” You heard her say.

You felt the corners of your mouth tilt up. “When you’re up against Lucy Lane, there’s really no competition.”

You heard her chuckle and somehow, that sound alone made your heart feel lighter. “That’s not a very nice thing to say.”

“But it’s true.”

“Yeah, it’s true. I don’t want to be mean but Lucy’s...”

“Not that great?” You filled in.

She laughed. “I already feel bad just agreeing you.”

“It doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend.” You told her as Maggie and Alex looked back to check on you. You gave them a quick thumbs up and they shrugged before continuing on. “It just means that you can be objective. Lucy Lane’s good but she’s complacent. If we push her to be better, we’ll bag the gold next year at the Olympics.”

“We?” She asked you. Somehow you could already see her smiling. Her eyes crinkling and her face brightening.

“Yeah well, I intend to be on Team USA and I don’t want her to be the weak link.” You scoffed.

“I mean... you want to be at the Olympics? I thought you weren’t sure about that.” She replied in a delicate voice, as if she were broaching upon a serious topic.

“Well...” you started to say as a particularly strong wind displaced several strands of your well placed hair. You tucked that in and and smiled to yourself. “I might be considering it.”

“You miss it don’t you? Fencing?”

You grinned. “More than anything.”

“Well then, I guess I’ll be seeing you in Rio.” She declared.

You tilted your head to the side. “You’re awfully confident about that.”

“You forget that I’ve met you.” She replied without missing a beat.

“And speaking of confidence, what happened to you there with Rafikov?” You asked her.

For the briefest of moments, Kara had worried you. It had been a while since you found yourself on the edge of your seat, your heart pounding in suspense. Of course you had to ask about that match. It was the biggest highlight of the competition.

“I was... intimidated. Rafikov’s scary.” She admitted.

“What? And you weren’t scared of me?”

Kara was quiet for a beat. “No actually. I’ve been watching you for so long, you already felt familiar from the first time we met... oh gosh that makes me sound like some kind of creep. You know what I mean... right?”

“Luckily for you, I do.” You nodded before realizing that there was no real point to nodding.

“But guess what?”

“What?” You sighed.

“Your advice helped! I imagined she was you and it suddenly felt so easy. I was calm and in control.” She said enthusiastically.

Your breath caught and you nearly stopped in your tracks. Feeling strange in your own skin, you started flexing your hand, trying to rid yourself of the feeling. “Are you saying I’m easy?”

“Uh... excuse me?”

“I didn’t mean it that way.” You recovered. You cringed at yourself for that little slip up.

“Oh. Well no, fencing you is god awful. You’re so difficult to beat.” She laughed nervously.

“Good save.”

“Well... I have to get going now. I’ll see you soon?”

Kara sounded sad. Even with her voice alone, she was just as transparent as ever. She could never mask her emotions and her tone gave everything away. You almost found it endearing.

What surprised you was how you felt the same. You felt that bittersweet twinge of sadness that suddenly rolled over you like the oncoming tide. Were goodbyes always this... difficult?

“Mmhm.” Was the only sound you could muster. Your words were failing you because none could express how much you didn’t want her to go.

“Well, goodbye then.”

You inhaled sharply. “Goodbye.”

The flat tone signifying the end of a call had never sounded so dull.

The idea had been tugging on the back of your mind for a while but you never really gave it any real power. Acknowledging it would make it too real, too tangible. Once it was real, you would be forced to face it.

But at this point, it was hard to deny it when your own behavior was evidence enough. It was clear to you now that Kara’s presence had become an important fixture in your life. The emptiness you’d been feeling lately had worsened without her and you didn’t quite know what to make of it. Whenever she was around, you felt less alone. You never had to think about the future when you could simply just talk to her.

You missed her and wanted to see to her soon. You already missed the sound of her voice and the way she laughed, so full of life.

You sorely wished she was here with you.

 

Chapter Text

Lena

It was a little too early in the morning for a meeting of this nature but you all agreed that it was better to get it out of the way. The cup of coffee you’d been nursing for a while was helping but it was a temporary fix, the caffeine would wear off eventually and you would be back to your original groggy self.

There were four of you in Alex’s office on the second floor. You, Alex, Maggie, and Hank Henshaw.

This meeting was about your future.

Just last week, Alex and Maggie had finished up your last therapy session. Apparently, you’d been the ideal patient and there were no problems or complications. Your recovery was perfect, it was the ideal.

Not that you were wishing for your recovery to have gone badly but a slight delay would have been nice. It would have been phenomenal because you wanted to be anywhere else but here right now.

Alex was sitting at behind her desk, looking rather pensive. Maggie was standing right next to her with a hand on her girlfriend’s shoulder, while Hank Henshaw was eyeing you from his own little corner. His arms were crossed and his face neutral and you knew with certainty they he was placing you under great scrutiny.

You’ve met him before but not once did you ever speak with him.

The sole reason he was here was because he was representing the interests of the Fencing Center. Ordinarily it would have been someone else, someone administrative, but he thought it would have been better for you to talk to a fellow fencer. It was the right call because you hated talking to suits. The suits didn’t understand and Henshaw was someone you respected and regarded very highly.

“Miss Luthor, I’m sure you know why we’re all here today.” Henshaw said from out of the blue.

You nodded. You were well aware of the importance of this meeting. The Fencing Center was investing in you for a reason and it wasn’t just to get you back to being the star athlete again. They had a real stake here because they were interested in turning their rehab center into a world class one and that would start with you.

The Center wanted your business and you needed their help.

“You wanted to get back on your feet and we helped you do that, brilliantly if I do say so myself. Now we want to talk about your training.” He continued further.

“Think of it as your next course of treatment, so to speak.” Alex chimed in.

The three of them shared looks before Henshaw took the lead once more. “Alex tells me you haven’t decided how you want to proceed. I’m here to tell you that you have the full backing of this center. We’re interested in furthering our sports medicine program under Dr. Danvers’ leadership. You are the perfect candidate to start us off in the right direction.”

You leaned back and crossed your legs. “It’s okay, I don’t mind the fact that you have an agenda here. I don’t mind being used.”

“Some people would have objections to that sort of thing. I just wanted to make things clear with you.” He replied.

You resisted the urge to roll your eyes. “No problems here.”

Hank Henshaw was so different from John Corben. Your coach was a grumpy bastard who never smiled while Henshaw was so damn serious. They both didn’t smile and it was for entirely different reasons.

“Okay, boring administrative crap aside, let’s talk about where we go from here.” Alex interjected. You could sense her getting antsy and you understood. She wanted to focus on the medicine, on the recovery.

Alex leaned forward and clasped her hands together. “I asked you before where you saw yourself five years from now, you told me you wanted to focus on functionality. We’ve done that part now I’ll ask you again. Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

Way to start with a loaded question. Alex was supposed to be your friend here. Maggie was supposed to be your friend too but it didn’t feel that way when they were both behind the desk and staring at you with that look.

You were itching in your own skin. You did not like this situation at all.

Your hands fiddled with your cup of coffee and you looked down to the ground. You didn’t want to face this right now, you didn’t want to look ahead yet. You didn’t want to know what the future held for you, not yet.

“I— I’m sorry. Do you mind if I get another cup of coffee first?” You blurted out.

Alex gave you a good long stare before she nodded. “Okay. Take all the time you need.”

You uttered a quick word of thanks and couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. The moment you closed the door behind you, it felt like you could breathe. There was so much pressure to be something in that room and out here, you could breathe.

You started walking towards the elevator so you could go downstairs, cross the street, and grab another cup of coffee. This could only buy you so much time so you had to walk slowly.

Before you could press the elevator button, the doors opened and the last person you wanted to see right now was behind it.

Okay, that was a lie.

She was the one person you needed right now. You didn’t quite understand it yourself yet but you just needed her.

Before she could utter a single word, you walked into the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor. Her face froze as the doors closed on her, then she looked to you.

“Uh... hello?”

You started tapping your foot against the ground nervously.

“Lena?”

You both arrived to the ground floor and you shot of the elevator, she ran after you.

“Lena? What’s wrong?” You heard her say.

You suddenly stopped in your tracks and turned on your heels. The sudden stop shocked her and she recoiled slightly. “You’re acting really weird.” She stated.

You inhaled deeply. “Get coffee with me.”

“What—“

You rolled your eyes. “Just walk with me, Danvers. Please.”

A slow smile spread across Kara’s face and it was that very face that brought you a modicum of comfort. “Okay.”

You both walked out the center in silence but it was the comforting kind. Just her presence alone calmed you. She’d been able to do that for you lately.

There was a small coffee shop across the street, most people got their coffees from there on the way to the center. As soon as you arrived, you walked up to the counter and asked for a cappuccino.

You could have ordered something difficult to make and filled with every add-on in the world but you weren’t sure if you could stomach something like that.

As you waited for your coffee order, Kara couldn’t help herself anymore. She’d been dying to ask you what was wrong. She was so transparent.

“So you look like your dog died.” She blurted out and immediately regretted her choice of words, you could tell.

“It feels a little like that, yeah.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” She asked.

“Savor this, Danvers, because I actually do want to talk about it.” You shot back.

You thought she was going to be happy about this. She was always trying to find ways to understand you much to your own chagrin. But instead of rejoicing, she just looked even more concerned. She said nothing in response to that and the silence continued on until you finally grabbed your coffee.

As soon as you were out, Kara grabbed your arm with a firm grip and dragged you to a nearby bench. It was damn cold outside, you didn’t know how she didn’t feel it. It was a good thing you had freshly brewed coffee in your hands, the warmth should keep you going for a short while.

Autumn had finally hit National City and while the trees looked gorgeous, the weather made you feel dreadful. You were not a big fan of the cold. You preferred to stay warm and toasty.

When you both sat down, she gave you a moment to yourself before finally bringing herself to ask questions.

“I know what’s happening today by the way. I was on my way to check up on you when you... ambushed me? I don’t know what the word is.”

“No. Ambush sounds about right.”

When Kara was trying to be considerate, she would put on this serious expression that made her look constipated. You wanted her to stop doing it right now because it wasn’t helping. Her normal face was better. “So how’s the meeting?”

You leaned forward and groaned. “It had barely gotten started when I already freaked out.”

“Why did you freak out?”

“Because.”

“Because...?”

You leaned back up and stared up at the sky and at the trees. You were cold right now but the numbness eating at you was different. “Because... All three of them keep looking at me and expecting me to make decisions I don’t have.”

“But you told me you were considering it. That was a couple of weeks ago.” She replied.

“I was. I am. But I still don’t know what to do. The moment I try to think about it, it’s like my brain short circuits.”

Kara scooted closer to you. “Okay, look at me and let’s simplify things.”

You realized in that moment that the thing about her that calmed you the most was the blue of her eyes. They used to make you so angry before and now just seeing that particular hue of blue sent a wave of calm over you.

“Okay.” You nodded.

She smiled warmly. That was another thing about her that seemed to calm you. One smile from Kara Danvers and sometimes the weight was lifted from your shoulders. When did she become that person for you?

“You’re thinking about a hundred different things right now but they only need one answer. The details don’t matter. Do you or do you not want to go to the Olympics?”

You took in a deep breath. “What if I’m not ready?”

She shook her head. “That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is what you want. Do you or do you not want to go to the Olympics?”

You didn’t know if you were ready or not but she was right. That wasn’t the question right now. The question was whether or not you wanted to keep fencing and that was an easy one. You could answer that in your sleep.

You felt a smile tuck on the corners of her mouth. “I do.”

“Well okay.” Kara grinned, her face leaning a little closer to yours. “The rest will fall into place. But for now? You want to fence and that’s all that matters.”

“Thank you... you always seem to be putting things into perspective for me.” You said with the most sincerity you could muster.

“I’m good at looking at other people.” Kara said proudly, her face beaming. Then there was a shift. A tiny change but you caught it. “I can look at other people all I want and make things simple for them but I can’t do the same for myself.”

You glanced down at your coffee and pushed it towards her. “Okay, why don’t you keep this. You clearly need this more than I do.”

Kara smiled and took the coffee from your hands. “Thanks. You should probably go. Tell them what you want.”

Oh. Right. For a moment you’d forgotten that there were three people waiting on you right now. You stood up begrudgingly and shot a look towards Kara. “I still don’t want to go back in there.”

“Then I’ll be waiting. After you tell them what’s what, I’ll be outside the office, waiting.” She stated rather gleefully. She was smiling at you, her eyes crinkling, and you just knew you’d feel better knowing she was in your corner.

With three people looking at you beyond the desk, your side of the room felt empty. You just needed to feel like you weren’t so alone.

“Okay. I’ll see you later.”

Kara lifted the cup of coffee you gave her as if she were clinking a glass. “Good luck.”

As you walked away, you tried to rub your hands together and hoped whatever friction you produced kept your hands warm. You settled for shoving your hands into your feeble pockets instead.

When you got to the elevator, that was when you realized that your cheeks were pulled up and you’d been smiling the whole time.

Huh.

 


 

By the time you walked back into the office, forty-five minutes had passed. Alex and Maggie were engaged in a serious conversation while Henshaw was patiently staring at the clock. When you came through the door, it felt like cutting a piece of taut rope and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

You sat back down in the chair and apologized for the wait. They assured you that you caused them no trouble whatsoever.

Hank Henshaw rounded the desk and leaned against it, in some way it felt like he was moving into your space. Making you feel less like there were three people staring you down and expecting things from you.

Looking at him, you realized that you had no reason to fear him. The man had kind eyes and you knew he cared. He was just like you, he knew what this meeting meant to you. After all, he was a fencer too.

He crossed his arms and smiled reassuringly. “Miss Luthor, have you decided yet?”

You nodded. “I have.”

“And what do you want to do?”

You breathed in deep. “I want to fence. I want to keep fencing. I want it to happen soon and I don’t want it to just be possibility for the far off future...”

Then you made sure that they knew you were dead serious. “Make me a three-time Olympian. Take me to Rio because I probably wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t do everything I can to get there.”

You also couldn’t live with yourself if you allowed Kara to go to the Olympics without you. You still had some fight left in you.

Henshaw started to grin and he was nodding approvingly. Alex and Maggie looked like they both just won the lottery.

Alex was grinning from ear to ear. “Okay. As your doctor, I promise to do everything I can to get you there.”

“It’s hard work though and it won’t be easy but I’m sure you’ll handle it just fine.” Maggie said proudly.

“Just one thing though, before we talk more on the subject of your training regiment.” Henshaw cut through.

“What is it?” You asked.

“As per the policy of the center, once Alex files the paperwork and declares that you are done with your physical therapy, you will no longer be able to avail of our in-house dorms. You might have to start looking for a more permanent residence.” He informed you in a very matter-of-factly manner but his tone told you he was sorry to break the news to you.

“Well, I knew that from the very beginning.” You replied.

Alex sighed. “I think what Hank is saying is that you’ll be kicked out almost immediately. If you started apartment hunting a few weeks ago, maybe this slight problem might’ve been mitigated.”

That might have been true but you didn’t even know what you wanted until your conversation with Kara this morning. Apartment hunting was the furthest thing from your mind and you avoided any conversation concerning your future like the plague.

“Though, we do have a deal with this apartment complex nearby. Most of the fencers around here live there.” Maggie added.

“So, can’t I just rent an apartment there?”

“You can, but the whole process could take a while.” Alex said with a grimace.

“Plus, there might not even be a vacancy right now. We’ll need to talk to the landlord first considering this is all on very short notice.” Maggie chimed in.

Henshaw looked like he had something to say but he couldn’t until Maggie and Alex piped down. It was only then that he cleared his throat. “Perhaps you could stay with a friend.”

“We’re friends!” Maggie volunteered.

Alex shot her a look. “I mean. We can adopt her for a while but you do know what happened to our spare room.”

“Well technically it was Kara’s room.”

“It was and tell me again what you did with it?” Alex retorted.

Maggie grimaced and looked away. “Turned it into a storeroom...”

“It’s not just a storeroom, it’s like a hoarder’s paradise in there.”

“I thought you said you didn’t mind?”

“I said I would tolerate it.”

“But—“

“But nothing. Ladies please.” Henshaw raised his voice and he appeared to have an oncoming migraine.

You held in a snicker because the whole scene looked like a father reprimanding his two kids. Well, the children in question were in a very gay relationship but still. But you immediately stopped wanting to laugh when Henshaw turned his attention back to you.

Now you felt like a child all of a sudden.

“So for the time being, Alex and Maggie will let you stay at their place while you look for an apartment. Now that that’s settled, can we please go back to talking about her conditioning.” He grounded out.

Without a second longer, all four of you were talking about your future again. Only this time, things were no longer as scary. The little conversation about apartment hunting broke the ice. They were asking all sorts of questions from professional to personal, all of which would shape how they would reintegrate you to competitive society.

More importantly, the person at the center of all this was someone you need to pay a call to. After all, none of this could ever happen without him here.

You needed to finally call John Corben after weeks of dodging his calls.

He was your coach and he had the final say no matter how many professional opinions were given by Alex and Maggie. Also, the man had never steered you wrong. From the moment you met him at age ten, until now. You trusted him to be with you every step of the way.

When the meeting finally ended, not a lot of things were settled but it was a start. What mattered was that you got your foot in the door.

Henshaw gave you a few reassuring words about how you had his support and that if you needed anything, all you had to do was ask.

Then he made sure Alex and Maggie weren’t paying attention before adding a few more words. “Thank you for keeping an eye on her.”

That immediately caught you off guard. You scrambled for words. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Kara’s lunge. That was you wasn’t it? It’s a lot cleaner than the last time she tried it in my presence.”

“I—“

He raised his hand to stop you. “Don’t worry, Miss Luthor. You’re not in trouble. Rather I appreciate you looking out for her. You and I both know how stubborn she can be. You’re doing well here, keep up the good work.”

After flashing you a warm smile, he was off in the opposite direction to do god knows what. The man was so busy, it was a wonder he had any time at all to train with Kara.

Then Alex and Maggie gave you their word that you were free to crash at their place for as long as you needed. Alex even managed to solicit a few promises from Maggie to finally sort out her hoard of stuff in the spare bedroom by the end of the week.

Once everyone left, you noticed Kara standing a little further in the hallway. She looked bored and it seemed like she had been waiting for quite some time. The sight made you smile. She was true to her word.

Slowly, you walked towards each other with knowing smiles.

“So will I be seeing you on the strip again?” She asked.

“Not in the immediate future but yes. Maybe.” You replied with a terse smile.

Kara caught that and she had a concerned hand on your shoulder. “Hey. This is a good thing, don’t second guess yourself.”

You inhaled shakily. “I’m sorry. Now that I’ve made my decision, I’m just worried about everything.”

“And that’s a problem for tomorrow.” She said as her thumb started involuntarily stroking across your shoulder. Then she noticed what she’d been doing and pulled back awkwardly.

“You’re not wrong but I do have two pressing issues.”

“Which are?” She asked, shoving her hands into the pockets of her hoodie.

Then you started walking towards the staircase and she followed. “One, I need to call my coach.”

“How is that a problem?” She asked with this funny little face she made when puzzled.

“I’ve been avoiding his calls.”

“Oh.”

She was intuitive enough, you didn’t need to explain yourself as to why you dodged his calls. True enough, Kara appeared to have understood.

“And the second?” She asked quickly.

You smiled nervously. “Apparently I’m homeless now?”

Kara grimaced heavily as you both reached the third floor landing. “Explain.”

You both walked long the corridor to reach your room. Well, it was your room for this week maybe but next week, it would just be another room. Empty and free for someone else to take.

“The deal was that I would stay here until I finished my therapy. Medically, it was better if I was an elevator away from the rehab center and I’m pretty sure the Center was just looking for an excuse to use its dorm rooms for once.”

“Well...” then Kara paused to think. “Do you have a place to stay?”

You shrugged. “Alex and Maggie offered. Well Maggie did, Alex went along with it.”

“Ah.” She said knowingly.

You both reached your door and simply stopped in front of it. “What do you mean Ah?”

Kara laughed under her breath first and there was this little sparkle in her eye. “It’s just that, you don’t want to go there. Definitely too cramped for three people and Maggie is messy. Trust me on that. Why do you think I own my own place?”

“How bad can it be?”

“Very.” Kara said gravely. “Look. I love my sister, and I love Maggie, and I love the both of them together, but living with them is an entirely different beast. I highly do not recommend it. If you value yourself at all, you will not do that.”

You crossed your arms and tilted your head to the side. “Okay then, what do you propose I do?”

Kara smiled confidently and you just knew she had an idea. “Live with me.”

Okay, you were not expecting that. The last thing you wanted was to impose on Kara. Also, you weren’t even sure if that was a good idea all things considered.

Things between you and Kara had slowed down but for a while, it had been really intense and confusing for you. Like any sane individual, you pretended you weren’t confused and that things were normal.

Living with her would be... risky.

“You look very skeptical, I can see that but hear me out here.” She said gently.

“I’m listening.”

“Alex and Maggie barely have a spare bedroom. I have a couch that pulls out into a spare bed at least. I’m pretty neat and I can cook. Also, you wouldn’t have to worry about commuting because it’s just a short walk away. That and all your neighbors would be fencers so you wouldn’t have to deal with any weirdos.”

“The last part is debatable but you do bring up good points.”

Kara leaned against the wall near your door casually. “You wouldn’t say as much if you got to know them. They’re good people, Lena.”

“So you say.” You scoffed.

“Well you got to know me.” She said, the corners of her mouth tugging into a soft smile as she leaned into you. The gesture was almost coy but Kara Danvers never did coy... did she?

“And look where that got me.” You said with great sarcasm.

Kara narrowed her eyes at you but her smile persisted. “And where did get you exactly?”

We’re friends now.

At least that was what you wanted to tell her but you didn’t want to give her the satisfaction, at least not yet. Instead of giving her a straight answer, you opened your door and went into the room. Kara’s eyes followed you with confusion as you did so.

“Aren’t you going to answer me?”

You grinned. “Nope, I’ve had too much for one day. I’m going to put this off along with all the rest of my problems. If it’s all same to you.”

Then you shut the door in her face and it was oh so satisfying.

You heard her groan your name in frustration through the door and it made you smile. Then you heard loud footsteps until the sound slowly faded out.

You dropped your body onto the mattress and sighed. As you stared at the ceiling, you were already thinking of packing your stuff. It wasn’t a difficult decision once you considered the pros and cons.

The pros included that Kara was sane, she was a dedicated athlete, she had good hygiene, supposedly kept a clean apartment, occasionally cooked, and smelled really nice. Like fresh strawberries actually, not that you were paying attention.

Big con however was that your history with her was a lot to unpack. Your history with her also started with you misguidedly loathing her existence and that was problematic.

There was also that little thing about you potentially having non-friendly feelings but eh, details. Who needs to talk about that little old thing?

But right now, there was one thing that mattered. One thing that you had to do first.

Rolling over, you grabbed your phone and dialed a familiar number. You pressed the phone against you ear and took in a deep breath.

“Corben? Hi. We need to talk.”

Chapter Text

Lena

“Alex, tell Lena that my apartment is perfectly safe and clean.”

Alex looked at you dead in the eye with this deadpan expression and she repeated what Kara had just said, verbatim. Her voice was flat and dry but her eyes sparkled with humor. Kara rolled her eyes at Alex’s delivery while you laughed it off.

It was moving day and everyone was packing in boxes full of your belongings into the trunk of Alex’s car. It was a short ride but it was better than having to walk back and forth between the Center and Kara’s apartment.

“I promise that Maggie will be nowhere near my apartment without adult supervision.” Kara added.

“Okay, now I feel so much better about this.” Lena chimed in.

You and Kara had no qualms about laughing at Maggie’s expense but Alex probably felt a little horrible for laughing too. It was true. Left to her own devices, Maggie would turn her own place into the local Goodwill without meaning to.

It wasn’t that you didn’t have any reservations about moving in with Kara. You simply didn’t do too well with change. Your life was filled with constants and change was never pleasant for you. For instance, your ACL tearing in the middle of the World Championship was far too much change for you to handle. You reacted badly to it but now that you’ve grown comfortable with it, the future didn’t look so bleak.

Your reaction to this was purely instinctual. Big change made you jumpy but you weren’t alone. You had great company and they made things easier for you.

Also, you and Kara were getting along pretty well. You weren’t too worried about rooming with her. It would be fine, confusing grey-area things aside.

“If you guys are done laughing about me, can we go now?” Maggie yelled from the driver’s seat.

Alex shrugged. “You heard the lady.”

Then Alex disappeared somewhere towards the front of the car. Presumably to sit in the passenger’s seat and flirt with her girlfriend. Kara simply shot you a knowing look and brought the trunk down with one clean movement.

“Come on, Luthor. Let’s go to my place.” Kara grinned.

You shook your head and placed your hands on your hips. “You’re too happy about this.”

“I’ve never had a real roommate before. Rooming with my sister and her girlfriend is not quite the same thing.” She replied gleefully.

“I doubt I’m a walk in the park.”

“We’re different people but we’re practically the same athlete. I’m sure we’ll be fine.” Kara said as she rounded the car and you followed her.

She wasn’t incorrect. You’d noticed it before but refused to acknowledged it because the last thing you wanted was to find common ground with her. The truth was that yes, the two of you were far too similar to each other. You both loved Fencing and you both trained just as hard. You simply didn’t want her to be exactly like you was all, she deserved better than that.

“So basically what you’re saying is that there’s nothing in your apartment. Because that’s exactly what my apartment was like. There’s absolutely nothing in it.” You replied as you got in the car with her.

“I promise you, Lena. Kara’s place is surprisingly clean. Mostly because she goes straight to bed and does nothing else.” Alex replied on Kara’s behalf.

“She makes a mean mac and cheese though.” Maggie added as she started the car.

“Can we just go already?” Kara groaned as she slumped down in her seat.

“Alright! We’re going, we’re going.” Maggie exclaimed in order to get the peanut gallery to settle down.

Then the car finally went off. It was a short five minute car ride, the apartment complex wasn’t that far from the Center. Still, you felt the excitement build up in her veins. You used to fear change but now change was a little exciting for you now.

It would be nice to not live in an empty space for once. The company wasn’t half bad.

 


 

The car pulled by one of those old heritage buildings that were converted into modern living spaces a good fifty years ago. It was large but you understood how the Center easily cut a deal with the building’s landlord. It was a huge fixer upper but the Center had the money for it. Now that it had been fixed, it clearly had become prime real estate. The free rooms were probably being rented out at exorbitant prices to local city dwellers. 

Maggie parked by the curb and popped the trunk open.

“So who lives here exactly?” You had to ask. For your own safety of course. You hated being caught unawares and wanted to familiarize yourself with all the variables first.

“Well Kara lives by herself. She’s got the corner apartment, those are the nicer ones. More windows, lots of light.” Alex pointed out.

“Well yeah...” Kara concurred as she exited the vehicle and grabbed a box from the back. “But I do live below Lucy Lane. It gets loud whenever she and James are fighting. That’s the only bad thing about it.”

“So do we have neighbors?” You asked.

“Yeah. They’re a couple, newlyweds you know? You might just know them.” Maggie replied.

“Imra Ardeen and Mike Monel. They don’t bite, I promise. Just ignore Mike, he’s just naturally like that but he’s a good guy underneath all that veneer.” Kara informed you rather matter-of-factly.

While the guy sounded familiar, you were definitely acquainted with Imra Ardeen. You had met her once a few years ago and she gave you a good impression back then. A driven and intelligent woman was your takeaway from all those years ago. She was one of the best Foilists around. Amazingly competent at everything she did. It was good to have a respected athlete live right next door.

“Then across the hall is Winn Schott. He’s an awkward guy but he’s harmless. So far he’s giving Mike a run for his money when it comes to Foil.” Kara continued as all four them started to make their way into the building.

Ah, now you have heard of Winn Schott. You barely saw any of the fencers being mentioned, mostly because you rarely went to the ground floor of the Center during training hours. But Winn had a prodigious sense for the sport, if only his own athletic prowess could match it. He’d rank higher if he trained harder but he played exceedingly smart. He was more of a strategist than a fencer. He’d make an excellent coach someday.

“But again, you don’t have to meet anyone until you’re ready. Team USA pretty much lives here and they can get overwhelming.” Kara stated with finality as she stood up the steps, waiting for you.

This should be interesting, you thought.

You grabbed the last box of your belongings in the box and closed the trunk. They made a small lobby of sorts but it was still pretty tiny. The hallways down here were pretty narrow and you hoped they opened up on the upper floors.

When you got there, you found your friends waiting for you in the elevator. Alex in particular was getting antsy from all the waiting.

“You certainly took your time.” Alex immediately said.

“I don’t like change. Cut me some slack here.” You replied bitingly.

“Well, I think you’re doing just fine.” Kara said warmly with that kind gaze of hers.

You suddenly felt warm at her show of kindness. Instead of lingering on it, you decided to shake it off, not wanting to give anything away to Alex and Maggie. Those two were pretty perceptive. Uttering a quick word of thanks, the elevator started moving up.

It was apparent that Kara’s place was situated on the fifth floor. It wasn’t a particularly tall building but climbing five flights of stairs wasn’t your idea of a fun time. Though to Kara, it was probably a part of her regular exercise. You missed being able to do something as simple as climbing five flights of stairs. It used to be so easy.

You felt much better the moment the doors opened and found that the hallways were a lot wider than its odd narrow lobby. Kara had the corner apartment so it was probably at the end of the hall.

All four of you went to the end in single file and for dramatic effect, Kara paused before opening door.

“You ready?” She asked excitedly.

Lena gave her a smarmy look. “Don’t be so dramatic, Danvers. Just open the damn door already.”

Kara followed through with a wide grin.

When you walked into Kara’s apartment, you didn’t anticipate it to be bright and filled with color. It was warm. Considerably warmer than your place had ever been and you weren’t referring to the temperature. How could Kara ever compare her place to yours? Your apartment back in Metropolis barely looked lived in.

Yes it was clean and organized but Kara Danvers definitely lived here.

It even smelled like her.

Not that you knew what Kara Danvers smelled like. Well you did but that wasn’t point.

As you continued to walk into it, you found yourself liking it immensely. It was a pleasant change for once. Especially the couch that Kara promised could be turned into a functional bed. It would definitely do.

Kara’s little kitchen in particular look used. Someone actually cooked food there. It was great. That would probably explain the other thing you smelled. On top of Kara’s scent, there was also the scent of something akin to pot roast. 

“So, how do you like it?” Kara asked.

You couldn’t stop the grin from forming on your face. “It’s not bad.”

“Knowing you, that’s high praise.” Kara replied as she went off and placed one of your boxes in the corner.

For a moment the two of you just stood there, taking it all in. You hated to admit it but Kara was right, you definitely liked her place. It was spacious enough for two people to feasibly coexist together on a short term basis. Honestly, your fears were unfounded.

“We’re gonna go get some deep dish from this joint around the corner. We’ll be back soon.” Maggie announced with Alex in tow.

Come to think of it, none of you had eaten lunch yet. You could almost imagine the tomato and cheese in perfect pizza unison.

The two of them left almost immediately and Kara sighed aloud. “That means we’re on beer duty.”

“You have alcohol here?” You asked amusedly.

“I wish I were that interesting but I’m not.”

But she was interesting. Kara Danvers was the furthest thing from mundane. World’s ranked two Sabreur was nothing to sneeze at. Considering how young she was and how quickly she ascended the ranks, she was impressive.

The real question was who wouldn’t find her interesting?

“So you don’t have beer here?” You clarified.

Kara wordlessly walked over to her fridge and opened it, charmingly revealing a six-pack already stocked and chilled.

You grinned and leaned against the nearby wall. “But you don’t drink.”

“Rarely. I have a lot of unwanted visitors around here, it’s for them.” Kara replied before suddenly realizing what she had just said. She suddenly closed the fridge with wide eyes. “Right. I forgot to mention that to you. People drop by here all the time. I tell them to stop but they don’t really listen to me. I hope that’s not a problem for you.”

Under normal circumstances, yes. It would have been a problem.

Instead of reacting badly, you simply raised an eyebrow and walked towards her. “I guess I better do my part as your new cohabitant.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can be very unpleasant and my reputation precedes me.” You clarified smugly.

“Oh right. You’re perfect for scaring people off.” Kara connected the dots.

“See? I’m already a valuable roommate.”

Kara shook her head and smiled brightly. “Well I never doubted that for a second. Remember, I used to be your biggest fan. I of all people know how valuable you are.” She said, pointing to herself.

“Used to be?” You teased.

Kara flushed in that particular shade of pink whenever she felt embarrassed. “I mean. I still am... your fan. Just calling myself your fan sounds so impersonal.”

You laughed at her expense. “Well... you’re not my fan. You’re my friend. I get it.”

Kara’s eyes grew wide before she started scrutinizing you intensely. That little crease formed between her eyebrows and that made her little scar prominent. “Did the aliens get to you? Were you abducted? How many fingers am I holding?”

“As far as I’m aware, I have never been abducted by aliens. And you’re holding up three fingers.” You replied deadpan.

“Oh. Good. You were really chummy for a second there, I was so confused.”

You dismissed her with humor and simply stared around the place. It hadn’t completely sunk in yet. “So this is your place.”

Kara nodded slowly. “This is my place.”

“And ah, how long does it usually take for interested tenants to get a place?”

“You want to leave me already?” Kara joked.

You shot her a look. “I just don’t want to have to rely on you anymore than I have to.”

Kara looked like she tried not to take offense to that. Her face was an open book sometimes. “Well our landlord is pretty absent. If we have any complaints, we usually let the Center handle it. So if you want to apply for an apartment, I would go talk to someone on the admin floor.”

“How did it take for you to get yours?”

Kara looked deep in thought. “When I was a teenager, I was just commuting between here and my house. Sometimes my mom would drive me, but usually I’d take the bus. But I still lived too far so when I turned eighteen, I was rooming with Alex.”

“How is this relevant?”

“Shh... I’m trying to remember.” Kara replied firmly. “Then Alex started dating Maggie so there were three of us. Hmm... I think I was on a waiting list for almost three months for an apartment. But that was four years ago? Could be longer now.”

“So I have three months with you?” You concluded.

“Could be shorter. With you being a fencing god and all.” Kara teased.

“Flatterer.”

“I could do worse. Kissing ass to a fencing god isn’t rock bottom yet.”

That definitely made you laugh, hard enough to nearly double over.

How could you have ever thought that Kara was humorless? When she was sitting by your bedside immediately after your injury, she was so straightforward and earnest. That part was still true but you thought she was one of those straight arrows. Those good girl types.

You couldn’t have been more wrong. How could you have missed her wit the first time? You underestimated her and reduced her as just your second but that wasn’t fair to her.

Kara Danvers was witty and full of good humor but more importantly, she was kind. She was easily becoming one of the best people you knew and that wasn’t easy for you to acknowledge. Mostly because when you thought back to your behavior towards her, you felt ashamed of yourself.

“Maybe if I kissed Micheaux’s ass too, I’d be a fencing god by now.”

You sharply turned towards Kara and tried to look appalled. “Excuse me?”

Kara grinned from ear to ear as she leaned against her kitchen counter charmingly. “I’ve heard some rumors.”

“About?”

“You and Micheaux.”

You smirked. “What did Maggie tell you?”

Kara looked down at her feet before dragging her gaze back up. Your helpful brain decided that the word for her was alluring. “She implied that you and Micheaux hooked up. Is that true?”

So is that what’s been plaguing Maggie Sawyer? She really should take things more seriously.

Your crossed your arms and leaned against the little kitchen island counter opposite of Kara. “We’ve entertained the notion but you and I both know that people like us don’t have time for that.”

Kara seemed really excited about this information. “So it’s mutual, I take it.”

Well, it was definitely mutual. Elisa Micheaux was gorgeous and French and for a while, she was the closest thing you had to a rival. Her fencing was elegant and classy. She became a friend of sorts throughout years of competing with each other. Eventually, a flirtation started but it never really went anywhere. The two of you were married to the sport.

But by god, her French accent just did things to you.

“The interest was mutual, but nothing happened.”

Kara looked at you askance. “No sneaking off to make out in locker rooms?”

“I wish I were that interesting, but I’m not.” You threw her words back at her.

It might have happened once but only two people knew the truth and it would remain that way.

“I’m disappointed, Lena. You seemed to be the type to have secret locker room trysts. You’re always so mysterious.” Kara sighed.

“I don’t know, Kara. You’re surprisingly interesting, why don’t you tell me all about your secret locker room trysts.” You shot back.

As you expected, Kara’s cheeks flushed. She was too easy to mess with which was why you found it interesting to watch her switch from awkward to confident. She could easily be described as adorable in the real world but on the strip her easy, self-assured confidence could be enthralling. Intoxicating even to some.

“I— I don’t have any... so to speak.”

You started walking towards Kara, slowly. “So you’re an innocent?”

“I’m not.” Kara replied shakily.

Winding her up was far too easy. So you stood a mere foot away from her and watched her squirm. “I may have um...”

“Go on.”

“Made out with a few people in a few bathrooms.” She sounded breathless.

“Sounds riveting. Anyone I know?” You tilted your head to the side.

Kara seemed distracted. It was either that or she was stalling. Her mouth was trying to form words. “No one you know.” She blurted out eventually.

“But bathrooms though, I thought you were the dating type.”

“Well...” then Kara seemed to collect herself and she stared at you with this odd intensity. As if she were challenging you. “There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.” The sudden husky timbre of her voice rolled over you and you shuddered.

Something was different here, you thought.

This was far from the intense late night arguments you used to have with her. Those were heated and angry. You weren’t having an argument right now but you felt tense. Like there was something in the air, like the crackle preceding a lightning strike.

But then you realized that you were no longer in a teasing mood and that Kara was staring you down with that confidence you recognized on the strip and you felt tingles spread down to your fingertips.

Before you could register your own actions, you found yourself staring at her lips. The strange feelings you’d been feeling bubbled to the surface. You could hear this voice, hissing in the back of your mind.

You could kiss her if you wanted to.

Suddenly, your ringtone sounded off and it was sobering. The two of you nearly jumped at the tone and it felt like you had just been splashed with cold water. Kara moved out of you way and you went to grab your phone off the counter.

What was that just now?

You actually thought about kissing her. No, that was a lie. You wanted to kiss her.

You’d been down this road before with other people and there was no mistaking the excitement thrumming beneath your skin, making the tiny hairs on your arm stand at attention. Your attraction was frighteningly potent in that moment and you wanted to kiss her so badly it scared you.

This was not good. Not good at all.

You quickly unlocked your phone and found a text message from a certain John Corben. Now this was extremely sobering. When you saw the glaring text on your screen, you were back in a panic.

“Holy shit.” You exclaimed.

“What’s wrong?” Kara replied from across the kitchen.

You instinctively pressed your fingers against your temple, as if a headache was coming on. “I completely forgot that Corben was flying in today. I was supposed to pick him up from the airport.”

“What time is he coming in?”

“Around five pm.”

“Okay then...” Kara said as she rounded the island counter and faced you. “I’ll drive you. My day is free.”

“Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.” You replied.

When you met her eyes, you felt nervous. You found yourself staring down at her lips again and immediately shook it off. Why were you doing this? Ten minutes ago, you were capable of appreciating her without wanting to kiss her. Now, kissing her was all you wanted to do.

Maybe it was all that talk about Elisa Micheaux.

Come to think of it, the two of them weren’t dissimilar. Micheaux was blonde, hot, and talented. Kara was also blonde, hot, and talented.

It was painfully clear not that your brain was just projecting. That’s all it was.

It was around then that Maggie and Alex came back with the deep dish. Whatever odd feelings you had about Kara had been immediately put to bed.

 


 

Kara

Lena had been quiet. From your apartment to the airport, she’d been quiet. You had no idea why but something told you it had something to do with the conversation you were having with Lena, when she was pressing you about your love life.

Admittedly, you found that whole conversation to be... intense.

Particularly because of the way you felt the moment she started walking towards you in this slow feline stride. You felt like you were being closed in on. You felt like prey. Your senses were heightened and you were all too aware of her. Her eyes told you she would devour you if you weren’t careful. The prospect of it didn’t scare you, it wound up exciting you.

And when Lena stood there, looking down at you, all haughty and confident, you were captivated. For some reason, you couldn’t look away from Lena.

Wow, you thought.

Now this was the Lena Luthor people feared and respected. All powerful and proud. Admittedly, seeing Lena like this was almost intoxicating. So far, you’d been witness to Lena the victim. A proud woman who had been licking her wounds. You never knew her back when she was still your biggest opponent. You never knew how exhilarating it was to be in the company of that woman. She was magnetic and alluring, it was difficult not to be drawn in.

For a moment there, your mind had dipped into dangerous territory. You caught her staring at your lips and a wave of inappropriate thoughts invaded your mind. You had to shake it off for obvious reasons. Most people didn’t think about their friends that way.

Most people also didn’t wonder what it would feel like to be devoured by their friends.

You decided to move on from it. There was no point pondering about what did transpire earlier. You wouldn’t be able to concentrate if you did. You forced yourself to focus on the road rather than examine the way Lena had been staring you. It was the only way to stop the odd prickling of your heated skin.

The traffic wasn’t too bad today save for the usual buildup near the airport but that was to be expected.

“Do you know which bay he’ll exit from?”

Lena checked her phone. “Bay seventeen.”

“Alrighty.”

You veered the car in that direction.

“Thank you, by the way. For taking me to the airport. You didn’t have to.” Lena said as she finally looked at you.

You waved her off. “I’m your new roommate. It’s the least I can do.”

“Well thank you anyway.”

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll be thanking me for this. Corben looks angry.” You pointed.

Lena looked puzzled. “What do you mean.”

“He’s coming out right now.” You said as you pointed out the window. There was a particularly cross gentleman walking into bay seventeen with one large suitcase and a duffle bag.

Lena immediately got out of the car and you followed suit, but you still stood by the driver’s seat door. This was Alex’s car after all, you didn’t want to earn her ire should something happen to it.

You watched the two of them talk for a moment. Corben looked like he was really digging into Lena because she actually looked a little frightened. From what Lena told you, he’d been her coach since she was ten. That was an awfully long time and he appeared to be one of the few people who had a lot of sway with her.

Eventually he turned to face the car and found you. He looked back at Lena and you were guessing that was his happy face. They both walked on over and you popped the trunk.

Corben walked right over to you. His face never really change did it?

“Miss Danvers, it’s a pleasure to see you again.” He greeted.

The man had more manners than Lena ever did, so it seemed.

“Likewise. We’re happy to have you here.” You replied politely.

You helped him lug his giant suitcase into the trunk along with his duffel bag. He closed the trunk himself. “I hope Lena hasn’t been giving you folks too much trouble. I know she’s a handful.”

“I’m standing right here.” Lena made her presence known.

You laughed it off. “Oh yeah. She’s been an absolute treasure. No trouble at all.”

“Thanks, Kara.” Lena said sarcastically.

Then she ran off and got into the car in a tiny little fit. Corben gave you a look and almost smiled. His cheek made a movement indicating that he was about to. “So it’s Kara now is it? When I left her here, she refused to even speak to you.”

“Yeah, you should talk to Lena about that.”

“Fair enough.” He replied in a low voice, the accent only made him sound more like a Bond villain.

By the time all three of you hit the road again, Lena was back to being silent. Except this time, it was probably to avoid having to speak to Corben. It was almost comical the way she was avoiding him. Almost like a child keeping something from their parent.

“So how was your flight?” You asked him.

“It was pleasant, thanks for asking. See Lena, you should take a page from Miss Danvers’ book.”

Lena made some kind of disgusted noise and shook her head but made no attempt to reply.

“Please sir, you can call me Kara.” You told him.

“You can call me John.”

Lena looked at the both of you in disbelief. He was a nice man. With the way Lena talked about him, he sounded like the devil. Or it could be that he was only a devil when he was the one training you. Luckily, you had no intention of parting with Hank Henshaw.

“So, which hotel are you staying at John?”

“Just at the Millard.”

“Yeah I know it, it’s near the Center right? I’ve probably passed by it a hundred times before.”

“So you’ll just stay there for ten months?” Lena asked him directly.

Corben made this grumpy little huff. “Yeah, luckily your brother’s paying. Normally I don’t like free things but in this case, your brother can definitely afford it.”

“How is he anyway?” Lena asked casually.

“Same old Lex. Miserable without you, of course.” He replied in what you assumed was good humor.

“That’s good to hear.” Was all she said in reply.

“Which reminds me Lena. I’ve been doing some e-mailing with the Center... have you rested enough?” He said in a more serious tone.

“I’m plenty rested.”

“That’s good to hear. We start on Monday.”

You glanced towards Lena and you could’ve sworn her eyes nearly bulged out of her head. She’d told you about her fears and you knew this was happening too soon for her. But you also knew there was no other way. She had ten months of training to get back into fighting form and you weren’t sure that was enough.

“A Dr. Danvers has been telling me that you’re medically fit to train. Any relation to the present Danvers?”

“Yeah, she’s my sister. This is her car actually.” You answered.

Lena was still stubbornly staring out the window. “If you’re asking about my knee, Corben. It’s fine.”

He simply grunted in acknowledgement and you guessed that the talking was over now. The next thirty minutes of the car ride was silent so you simply started fiddling the radio. You stopped at a station playing some old eighties’ hits which wasn’t so bad. You liked that era.

When you dropped Corben off at the Millard, someone helped him with his bags so there was no need to see him into the hotel. Lena did get off the car to make sure he was fine and settled. As you waited for her to come back, you couldn’t help but smile. She really did have a soft spot for him didn’t she?

Then the two of you went home together, the car buzzing with unsaid truths.

Chapter Text

Lena

You got up and walked over to the kitchen in a daze. It was around seven in the morning and it was Monday. That meant in an hour or so, it would be training day and you weren’t ready. Unfortunately, Corben didn’t care whether you were ready or not.

If Kara were here right now, she’d tell you to trust in your own body and the work you put into it. You didn’t go through therapy only to stop now.

So here you were, in your t-shirt and the boxers you liked sleeping in. Standing by the kitchen and waiting for the coffee machine to do its work. You would have gone for breakfast but you weren’t quite sure how Kara’s appliances worked yet. Luckily there was a bagel joint downstairs so you wouldn’t starve this morning.

You grabbed a mug you brought with you from Metropolis and finally poured yourself a cup of coffee. Your first sip was heavenly and you could feel your brain start to boot up. Caffeine was god’s work on Earth.

As you drank coffee, glanced out into Kara’s living room. Though technically, it was your room whenever you slept. The couch was pretty cool because you could pull it out into a spare bed with a decent mattress. Kara said it was for Alex whenever she and Maggie fought. It would appear that it didn’t happen often, the mattress looked pristine.

So far so good.

Living with Kara wasn’t terrible. She mostly kept to herself and stayed in her room, only leaving it to take a shower or to grab something from the kitchen. From the way she did it, it seemed like that’s how she usually behaved sans your presence.

Like Alex said, she usually went straight to bed. She could also be found running at six in the morning so you could only catch her in the evenings. You knew Kara was a busy person because you always saw her at the Center but you never knew how much time she spent there until you started living with her.

As you walked out of the kitchen to head into the bathroom, the apartment door suddenly swung open.

Kara walked in a warm hoodie and jogging shorts. She was all hot and sweaty. You were caught off guard by her presence since she rarely came back from a run. Her earphones were plugged into her ears and for a while she didn’t seem to notice you.

Then she started to take off her hoodie and you realized that she had nothing but her sports bra underneath it.

You couldn’t take your eyes off of her. You knew Kara Danvers was impressive but when she was all sweaty and fresh from her run, you didn’t want to look away.

You were allowed to look at the dessert menu and not order anything, right?

You were shamelessly staring at the exposed skin when Kara looked in your direction. You had the good sense to tear your eyes away from her taut stomach at the very last minute.

She pulled her earphones off. “Oh. You’re still here. Isn’t today your first day of training?”

You sipped your coffee and tried to not stare. It was a losing battle because when her back was turned, your eyes immediately drifted towards her shapely ass. It was hard being gay. After all, you were celibate, not blind. Your roommate was so just so damn attractive. “I was about to take a shower and get going. What are you doing here?”

“Picking up a spare Sabre. I snapped the blade of one of my Sabres last week, I forgot to replace it.”

“Leon Paul supplies them to you for free?” You asked playfully.

Kara grinned. “Sometimes. Who am I to turn down free equipment? Nobody said this was a cheap sport.”

“That’s what sponsorships are for.”

Kara walked on over to table under her television set and turned on her Bluetooth speaker. Another one of her habits was playing her music out loud. Come to think about it, whenever you saw her she was always listening to music. You guessed that Kara enjoyed having a steady beat or rhythm to walk to.

She also had several playlists organized by the decade. This morning appeared to be a nineties’ morning as you heard the dulcet crooning of The Cranberries.

“Won’t Corben torture you for being late or something?”

“He will but I figured that it might be a sobering experience for me. Like simply jumping headfirst into a freezing pool. I’ll acclimate soon enough.” You shrugged.

“Tough analogy. Oh by the way do you still have coffee?” Kara asked as she crossed the living room to get to the kitchen. She didn’t have a shy bone in her body. But then if you had a body like that, you wouldn’t be shy about it either.

“I just brewed a pot, help yourself.” You said, you were still hiding your face behind the coffee mug.

Kara hummed along to the song playing on the speakers as she grabbed herself a cup of coffee. Okay this was getting ridiculous. You’d been surrounded by attractive athletes before. Even had a brief flirtation and an alleged locker room tryst with one. This shouldn’t have been a big deal.

Then she started singing and her voice was velvety smooth.

Jesus Christ, she sings too?

The only way to remedy this was to avoid her so as soon as you finished your coffee, you made a break for the bathroom. It was October and the weather was chilly but you opted for a cold shower. Lord knows you needed it.

At least in here, you could think. With the shower drowning out the sound from the living room, you could have your thoughts to yourself.

It was annoying. This whole thing with Kara.

Ever since your brain suffered a momentary lapse of good proper sense, the floodgates were open. You were aware of Kara Danvers now and it was damn annoying. You didn’t want to think about her that way.

She had finally become a friend to you so this was the last thing you wanted. Your brain was just being an idiot thus making you an idiot by association.

How inconvenient was it that you were attracted to the first person you placed so much trust in?

 


 

“It’s back to basics now, Lena. Just like when you were ten.”

You were starting to prefer it up there on the second floor with the nice empty rehab center. After all it was only empty in the earlier part of the mornings and other patients came by in the afternoons. You didn’t have an audience up there.

And while it seemed like Alex and Maggie were the only two people working there, Alex assured you that she had plenty of doctors and therapists on staff.

“Hey. Lena, pay attention.”

You nearly groaned but remembered that you were in a very public training hall and your coach was here to stare down at you.

In fact, you even had a small audience. People were curious about the great Lena Luthor. They wanted to know if you could bounce back but not even you could answer that.

Still, it felt good to be back in gear. Even if it was just your glove and not the whole set.

“Okay, how do we do this?” You asked Corben.

He had the same impassive face, as usual. “En Garde, five minutes.

You figured you’d start with this. It’s how you broke down the beginners. It was best that they got into it because it taught them proper form and made their bodies remember how much pressure would be placed on their legs.

Just when you were starting to hesitate, Alex walked into the room with her familiar white coat. She flashed you a smile and you felt at ease again.

Corben was the first to greet her, his hand outstretched towards her. “Dr. Danvers. Nice of you to join us.”

She shook his hand. “It’s day one, I’m just here to make sure nothing bad happens. As I’ve told you Mr. Corben, three months is the bare minimum of what I will allow when it comes to physical therapy.”

“I’ll take that under advisement.” He replied.

“And besides.” Alex started to say as she took grabbed a stool and took a seat. “I cleared her for training. It’s my ass on the line if she tears her ACL again.”

Corben stared at you rather gravely. “En Garde, five minutes.”

You breathed in deep and tried to steady your heart. It was the moment of truth now. The last time you were on a strip felt like a lifetime ago. However, you pushed your knee to its limits as part of your therapy, putting it through this much stress should be fine.

Then slowly, you lowered yourself. You knew the drill. You knew this by heart.

Your left and right foot were at least two feet apart. Butt out, back straight. Left arm lifted for counterbalance and right arm extended. Then you simply just rested your weight onto your thighs. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Your forward knee should be a precise ninety-degree angle, in line with your ankle.

You knew all these things like the back of your hand. It had been imprinted onto your body.

When you slipped into an En Garde, it felt very much like putting on well worn jeans or a tailored jacket.

“Looks like those months in rehab didn’t make you forget.” Corben stated matter-of-factly.

You closed your eyes and simply focused on your breathing. It was just five minutes of doing this. You could do this sort of thing in your sleep. What you didn’t anticipate was how much your legs started to shake at the four minute mark. It was discouraging but you told yourself this was normal. You were on the mend and you had a long ways to go.

“Alright, that’s five minutes. Rest for a bit and shake it off.” Corben announced loudly. He’d smile if he could, really. You bet he was happy about this.

Alex clapped slowly and genuinely looked happy. “You’re doing great, Luthor.”

It didn’t feel great but you appreciated the support.

When Corben decided your legs had gotten enough rest, you were at it again. This went on several times over the course of an hour. The more you did it the more comfortable you became. At some point, it started to feel good again.

However, Corben had no intention of rushing you. You still had another two hours of basic footwork just to get you back on the horse. He was going to take this a little slow and while you used to train everyday, this time you would only see him thrice a week until Alex felt comfortable with you doing more.

Amidst all the bad, you still felt pretty pleased with yourself. This was the closest you’d ever been to feeling like yourself in months and it felt so damn good.

You could be sparring again in a few months. Now that was an exciting prospect. If you needed motivating, the thought of sparring could do it for you. There was no higher rush than being on the strip.

“You good, Lena?” Corben asked you.

“I’m good.”

“Okay, we’ll do simple advancing and retreating. On my timing now.” He stated, gesturing for you to start at the far end of the imaginary strip.

Just take your time, no rush.

Your first set of footwork was a little shaky but once you found your rhythm, it had become simple. After all, you lived and breathed this sort of thing. Your body would never forget years of training beaten into it.

“Forward, Forward... Lunge!” You heard Corben dictate.

He put that in out of nowhere but you lunged a proper one. Lunging for exercise was so different from lunging to attack. You did tons of it in therapy but none of them had the power you sorely missed. It was so natural to you.

What a rush.

“Perfect form. Looks like you fixed her well, Doc.” Corben praised.

“Naturally. I think you can take the training wheels off now, Mr. Corben.” Alex replied, she looked very pleased with herself.

Thank god. You didn’t want to be stuck doing grunt work for weeks. This was beginner level work, you were a two-time Olympian for crying out loud. A few months of inactivity wasn’t going to knock you down that badly.

“We’re taking it easy today I’m afraid. I’m sure that Lena is physically prepared to do more and so I apologize for having to bruise her ego.” Corben quipped.

You shot him a glare. “You gave me this ego.”

“I did, didn’t I?” He replied dryly.

“Come on, Corben.” You complained.

Corben scowled even further and gestured for you to stop training for now. You lifted yourself and walked on over to where Corben and Alex were.

“It’s day one. I just wanted to see if you were different. I’m still working with the Center on finding the appropriate training to conditioning ratio.” Corben finally said after a dramatic pause.

Alex simply shrugged at what he said. “Well if you don’t want to be left out to pasture, you’re free to use the gym.” She told you.

You frowned. You were fully expecting to be put through the wringer today like they promised. However, you understood why today was going to be a light day. Corben wanted to see for himself if you were okay.

“Can I do my usual routine?” You asked Alex.

“Run me through it.” Alex replied.

You quickly laid down your old workout routine at the gym. While you couldn’t mention what you used to do for conditioning as that was Corben’s domain, you tried to see if you could get Alex to agree to let you do something. You waited three months to be able to do something.

“You and Kara train similarly. That’s fascinating.” Alex commented happily.

You rolled your eyes. “And?”

“You used to train five days a week, eight hours a day. Bump that down to three days and four hours and I’ll allow it. You can throw in strength and cardio training. I fixed you myself, I’m confident your knee will bear it.” Alex stated oh so professionally. Sometimes you forgot she was one of the best sports medicine doctors on this side of the country.

“Technically, the Russians fixed my knee.” You shot back.

Alex laughed. “Smart ass.”

Then you turned to face your scary looking coach. “So can I go do that and not this? A ten year old can do what you’re making me do.”

He inhaled deeply. “Since when have you ever listened to me anyway?”

You flashed him a winning smile and he simply scoffed at it. You then walked over to your duffel bag and started packing in your belongings.

“And since you’re so anti-social, go ahead and use the gym on the second floor. People don’t usually go up there.” Alex informed you.

You flashed her a smile. “If you weren’t already taken, I’d marry you.”

Alex only laughed at you. “I’m flattered but why don’t you thank me by not wasting that knee, like a normal person would.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And you better train your ass off okay? I kind of want to see you beat Kara. Don’t tell her I said that.”

You stifled a laugh. “You’d bet on me? I’m touched.”

“It’s vanity, you’ll make me look extremely good and maybe the Center will pay me so much more.” Alex said in a low almost diabolical way.

As this cordial conversation went on, Corben was shooting you both judgmental looks. After knowing him for so long, you would’ve liked to think that you could distinguish his many faces. Alex eventually shooed you off and appeared to want to have a private conversation with Corben.

By the time you left, Alex and Corben were just getting started.

 


 

When you walked into the second floor gym, you didn’t expect to have company. More specifically, you didn’t expect to find a familiar face and a complete stranger. The moment you walked in, you felt both eyes on you and for good reason too. The entirety of your physical rehab was spent making yourself scarce.

One of the women was Imra Ardeen, a fencer you held great respect for and your new neighbor. If she was surprised by you, it didn’t register on her face.

In the awkward silence, the sound of your footsteps was acutely loud. Eventually, it was Imra who spoke first while the unknown woman simply stood in the background.

“We haven’t met yet since you’ve arrived in National City. It’s good to see you again.” She greeted you cordially.

“I’m sorry for moving in next door without saying hi first.” You replied sheepishly.

Imra waved you off. “I should be saying the same to you. It’s not everyday you get Lena Luthor as your neighbor. It’s just a little ironic that you’re rooming with Kara.”

You chuckled. “Don’t I know it.”

“Kara’s good people though. You picked a good one to room with.”

“Not if I drive her up the wall first.” You joked.

Then when you looked to the other woman in the room, you felt a faint glimmer of attraction. She had this Mona Lisa smile playing on her face and she was definitely beautiful but there was more to her. It’s like you could never know what she’s thinking.

Very much the opposite of your annoyingly attractive roommate who wore all her emotions on her sleeve.

Huh. Maybe she could help you stop thinking about certain people who were off-limits to you.

“Hi, I’m Lena Luthor.” You introduced yourself to her, causing Imra to raise an eyebrow at you.

“Samantha Arias. You’re new here.” She replied. Then her Mona Lisa smile transformed into a full grin.

You tilted your head to the side. “And how would you know that?”

“I’m a personal trainer for the Center. I’ve worked with everyone but you.” She replied. “Not for a lack of trying of course. I’m not a fencer but I know who you are.”

“Oh really now?”

“It’s hard to forget a face like yours after it’s been plastered on sports ads.” She replied.

“Okay, before you both leave me to do that flirty thing you’re doing, I’d like to have my personal trainer first, thanks. I have Sam booked for the whole afternoon.” Imra interrupted and her accent grew a little thicker. At least her husband would know immediately whenever she was the slightest bit cross.

“Why up here though?” You asked Imra.

She shrugged. “Same reason as you. The boys have the gym and their shit gets annoying real fast. Especially my husband. He can be such a boy sometimes.”

While Imra said those things with annoyance, it was clear that she held great affection for her husband. She did marry him after all and Imra seemed like a sane individual of sound mind. Based on the way Kara talks about him, you had no wish to be acquainted with him.

“And besides. It’s usually the ladies of the Center who hide up here.” Sam added.

“Except Kara though. She’s one of the boys, apparently.” Imra added.

“Okay then...” you said as you deposited your duffel bag in a near corner. “What are you up to?” You asked her. When you walked in her, Sam and Imra were in the middle of something.

Imra gestured towards the wooden beam in the middle of the room. “Balance. We use these big rubber bands to restrict my movement, then I’ll get up on this beam here and do my footwork and lunges.”

“Sounds fun, we were a lot more traditional in Metropolis.”

“The Center is trying to be progressive about fitness and training.” Sam informed you.

“Why? What’s on your agenda, Luthor?” Imra asked you with genuine interest.

“Just some basic cardio. I’ve been resting for three months so I need this.”

Sam leaned against the nearby wall and crossed her arms. “That’s interesting...”

“I wouldn’t do anything without Alex giving me the go-ahead.”

Sam regarded you with that same mysterious smile she used earlier. As a fitness trainer, she probably knew about the risk more than most people. Alex said as much when she told you what you wanted was not only hard but it carried some risk. You were prepared for the skepticism in spite of your own personal doubts.

“Anyhow champ, we won’t get in your way. I’m working to be on your level so I’ll be busy if you don’t mind.” Imra said with finality. You all had dallied enough.

You walked up onto the nearby treadmill and started fiddling with the settings. A good run should warm you up nicely. “I don’t know how much you value my opinion, but we’re already on the same playing field. All I can say is that it’s a shame you’re fencing Foil and not Sabre.”

Imra barked in laughter. “I’ve entertained the idea but sadly, Foil is my one true love. Also, I wouldn’t want to step on Lucy’s toes.”

You shook your head and grinned. “We’re all so mean.”

“Truth is a cruel mistress.” Imra joked.

This was a good start to your first day back in action. After three hours flew by, your muscles ached but you felt more like yourself. You were reminded that you were an Olympian and not some second-rate nobody.

It didn’t hurt that you gained some new friends in the process. With the way you were before, you would never have been so friendly with them. This wasn’t a bad change.

And Corben was wrong.

You were different now, for better or for worse.

 


 

You were sitting on the couch and abusing Kara’s Netflix. It was fascinating seeing her watch history and finding all the odd things Kara liked. You had Chinese takeout in hand and mug of green tea on the side table, it was that kind of evening.

So far, it seemed that Kara watched a lot of sitcoms.

It was after you popped another dumpling in your mouth when the door opened. You were starting to get accustomed to the telltale jangle of keys, indicating that your overenthusiastic roommate was home.

Kara walked in looking rather drained but as she was in peak condition, she bore it like it was nothing. She immediately found you on the couch and she smiled brightly.

“Hey you.” She greeted.

“Hey, I got some takeout.” You replied.

Kara looked genuinely pleased that you were feeding her. Even if she did promise to cook, you both knew there was no time for it. She quietly acknowledged your kind gesture and swiftly walked into her room, most likely to change out of her gym clothes.

When she came back, she looked a little fresher and she was dressed in comfy house clothes.

You continued your Netflix search without paying her no mind until you suddenly felt a cold icy object being pressed against your cheek. You made a squeaky yelp and recoiled at the icy sensation. You turned to glare at your roommate, only to find her holding a Slurpee.

“I just wanted to say, congratulations on your first day back. It may not be the day you wanted but it’s a step forward.” Kara said

This familiar warmth flooded your insides and you couldn’t help but smile. Kara had been so aloof today and you simply thought she had been busy. Turns out, Kara Danvers was as thoughtful as ever. In fact, she was so thoughtful you could kiss her.

Of course, that would be bad.

Instead, you took the Slurpee from her with immense gratitude.

“Thank you.” You meant it with every ounce of sincerity you could muster.

Kara took a seat next to you on the couch and grabbed her Chinese takeout box. “You’re welcome.” She replied, looking a little too pleased with herself. “Although this might just be the last Slurpee you’ll ever have. At least, until after the Olympics.”

“And I will mourn accordingly.”

Kara glanced at you before glancing at the TV. “Is that my Netflix account?”

“Mmhm. You’ve watched a lot of Gossip Girl, Danvers.”

Kara frowned and stuffed a dumpling into her mouth. “So what if I have?” She replied scathingly but the food muffled her words and the end result was just hilarious.

“Nothing. Your taste in television is very you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean.”

“I plead the fifth.” You said, trying your best to keep a straight face.

“Lena Kieran Luthor—“ Kara began to say sternly before loud knocking sharply came from the door.

You scrunched your eyebrows. “Are we expecting company?”

Kara grimaced and sighed. “No but that’s never stopped anyone.”

“Just turn them down.” You suggested.

Kara shrugged as she painstakingly made her way to the door despite your suggestion. “They’ll just give me crap about it the next day.”

When she opened the door, three people were standing behind it. There was a certain Imra Ardeen, holding a bottle of wine, a Winn Schott with a tub of ice cream, and some scruffy guy you’d never seen before.

Kara groaned at the sudden intrusion but nevertheless she persisted and forced a smile on her face. “I’m tired guys.” She told them.

“We know, but we wanted to drop by and meet our new neighbor!” Winn exclaimed.

Imra shoved the bottle of wine towards Kara. “Well I’ve been wanting to drop by for some time now. Winn and Mike are just tag-alongs.”

You sighed in resignation and put your Chinese takeout aside. Eventually, you dragged yourself to meet the peanut gallery. “That better be good wine, Ardeen.”

“Of course, one former rank one to another.” Imra replied with a wink.

“Okay. I take offense to that.” You shot back.

“Sometimes the younger ones show us up, no shame in that Luthor.” Imra continued.

Kara cleared her throat awkwardly. “As one of the aforementioned younger ones, I respectfully remove myself from this conversation.”

FIE had pretty fair rules when it came to rankings. It boiled down to your placing at competitions and the medals you won. Those placings would be converted to points that could be added up to a total.

In your absence, Kara had definitely overtaken you by now. You hadn’t checked the website where the official rankings were posted but undoubtedly you would have been met with Kara’s smiling face on the header.

Yet strangely, that didn’t seem to bother you as much as it used to.

Huh.

You used to be so obsessed about your standing, about being the best. Nowadays, your priorities were mostly about being able to fence at that level again. This whole ordeal had been rather humbling.

Everyone started to congregate around the couch area and Kara started to microwave some popcorn. Your roommate seemed resigned to this and while you pitied her, you’d never been this surrounded by other people before. It was refreshing.

By the time everyone had settled down, people were passing a bowl of popcorn, having some wine, and watching rich white people buy their perfect homes on HGTV.

Unfortunately, you landed yourself next to the two men of the gathering. You had no idea what kind of people they were and you didn’t have the patience to find out. Luckily enough, you didn’t have to move a finger because Winn Schott was more than happy to speak to you.

“I’m Winn Schott by the way, it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you.” He introduced himself with this wide grin. There was something about his manner that reminded you of Kara. They both had this easy openness.

“It’s nice to meet you Winn. I’ve heard about you.” You replied.

He suddenly embarrassed. “You have?”

You smiled. “You could be better but you have an excellent mind for strategy. I think I watched one of your matches before... against Rufino Bressi was it? It was good.”

Winn started to awkwardly scratch this part behind his ear. “I lost that match.”

“You were good, I swear.” You meant every word. Fencing was a lot like chess; Foil all the more. If he could back up his brain with training, he’d do so much better.

“Winn prefers to have a life is why he doesn’t train as hard as the rest of us.” The scruffy guy said aloud.

You immediately disliked him. Context clues told you that this man was Imra’s husband. Well Kara did say that you need to take him with a grain of salt. That there was a good man underneath all the veneer.

“And how’s your career going... uh, who are you again?” You asked.

“Mike Monel, also a Foilist. And my career is exactly where I want it to be.” He replied confidently.

Sure it is.

“What he means to say is that he’s happy where he is, isn’t that right dear?” Imra filled in the blanks.

That annoying cockiness melted away and he seemed to be genuinely captivated by his wife. When he smiled, it was clear that he loved her. “I’m a family man now, my career is the way it is so I can have more time for her.”

“Oh is that why you’ve been slacking off, Monel?” Winn teased him.

“I’ve been letting you win.” Mike replied a little too quickly.

You heard Kara sigh beside you. Considering how three other people were attempting to occupy the couch with you, to call it cramped would have been an understatement. Kara was at the end so she had the benefit of being able to breathe but you were squished in between two people.

“I never imagined I’d find myself surrounded by Foilists.” You said in a low voice, enough for only Kara to hear.

“I thought you were going to be all mean and condescending so you could drive people away?” Kara replied with a smile.

“That was then and this is now.”

Kara suddenly leaned in close to whisper in your ear. While you were sure it was an innocent gesture, you didn’t anticipate to suddenly feel so hyperaware. You felt goosebumps crawling down your neck. “Admit it, you like the company.”

When Kara was this close to you, you could easily latch onto her faint scent. The very same scent that you associated to this whole place. “You’re free to believe whatever you wish.” You told her.

You knew Kara was referring to the company of the other three but it wasn’t their company you liked.

It was Kara’s.

You had never known anyone quite like her.

She was someone who pushed you to be better and she was someone who believed in you unconditionally. You honestly didn’t deserve her friendship but she seemed to think you were worthy of it.

Without thinking much of it, you leaned against Kara because you wanted to. Her presence made you feel less alone in this world. When you rested your full weight against her, she stiffened. A mere moments later, she relaxed and leaned against you too. This made you feel tremendously warm. This was the sort of nearness you’d been subconsciously craving. Just knowing that Kara was breathing right next to you brought comfort to your existence. Why was Kara that person for you?

“I can make them leave. I know this can be overwhelming for you.” Kara said in her usual kind tone.

You shook your head. “It’s okay, I don’t mind them.”

“It’s just that…”

“What is it?”

Kara inhaled deeply. “I was sort of looking forward to hanging out with you. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never had a roommate before… or a close friend so to speak.”

“Is that so?” You replied warily.

“You understand me more than most people.” Kara admitted with astounding vulnerability.

“Well…” you started to say as you rested your head on her shoulder. Something about this felt right to you. “I’m not so sure about that.”

And for a moment, the only sounds you heard was the TV and the banter amongst the other three in the room. Listening to Kara breathe was oddly comforting. “I’ve never really had a friend quite like you before. You’re...”

“Mean? Infuriating?” You supplied.

Kara laughed softly. “No. You’re more than meets the eye. I like that about you.”

Oddly enough, Kara Danvers just kept giving you more reasons to smile. You hadn’t been smiling enough in all of your twenty eight years of existence, you realized.

“Okay, I’ll get rid of them for you then.” You declared.

“Excuse me?”

You stood up and blocked the TV from the three unwanted guests, earning their full attention. You placed your hands on your hips and scowled deeply. “Thanks for stopping by but my knee is bothering me so I would appreciate it if you guys would give me some space.”

All three of them suddenly looked concerned. You didn’t want to play the injury card but it was an awfully convenient excuse right now.

“Of course, we’ll get out of your way.” Winn blurted out. You had a feeling he’d be the first to cave.

Imra didn’t seem to buy your excuse but she understood when she was unwanted. She nudged at her husband and soon enough, everyone was saying their farewells. The silence that followed their absence was a breath of fresh air. You remembered why you disliked being around too many people for certain period of time.

“Thank you.” You heard Kara say just as you shut the door.

You turned around and smiled sheepishly. “It’s late. People really should rest at this time.”

Kara suddenly got this strange look on her face. You thought you were privy to all her expressions because she was such an open book. Apparently, she was right when she said there were a lot of things you didn’t know about her. Somehow, that didn’t stop you from wanting to try to find out what those things were.

“How about let’s finish dinner, have some wine—Slurpee in your case—and pick something to watch. Call it our new roommate tradition.” She offered nervously.

How could you say no when she had that look on her face.

“I pick the movie?” You asked.

“For now.” She grinned.

Kara was offering you the remote and you took it from her hand. You sat back down and reclaimed your Chinese takeout box from the side table.

“I hope you like sci-fi, because I’m in the mood for it.”

You discovered that evening that you liked hanging out with Kara. Your late night talks after Kara’s secret training sessions were different. In this room, fencing didn’t matter. You weren’t here with Kara Danvers, your rival.

You were with Kara Danvers, someone who had inexplicably become so important to you.

It was laughable now, looking back at how angry and resentful you used to be.

You wanted to be better. For her sake

Chapter Text

Lena

Time flew by fairly quickly. Mostly because you’d been assaulted with everything the Center had to throw at you. Your ever benevolent coach was merciless as usual, more so because you had a lot of catching up to do. Sam, the Center’s official personal trainer, was pretty ruthless with you. Alex must’ve told her not to hold back because you could barely feel your muscles for a whole month.

Thanksgiving was just around the corner and pretty soon, Christmas would follow. The year would end and you would still have a good eight months to prepare for the Rio.

Time moved much too fast for you lately but you decided that this was a good thing. When you were in physical rehab, all you had was time. This meant that you were keeping busy.

And because you were so busy, you barely saw your roommate, Kara.

Your schedules were so vastly different. You barely saw each other at the Center and when you did, both of you were too tired to speak to each other. You were both dead asleep by the time you got home. And as the year was coming to a close, all the athletes were switching their gears and aiming for the Olympics.

In an Olympics year, you’d find that most of the top contenders would start skipping out on the usual tourneys in favor of amping up their training.

While National City grew chillier outside, all the physical torture you were undergoing kept you warm and toasty enough. Eventually, you gave up pretending you were fine and sat down on a bench sometime near the end of today’s conditioning session.

“I’m going to get a gatorade, you want something Sam?” You asked.

Samantha Arias peered down at you with this charming smile. “Looking for an excuse to get out of here, Luthor?”

You pretended to look innocent. “I don’t know what you mean.”

She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at you. “You forget I have a teenager. I know exactly what you’re doing.”

You raised your hands as if to surrender. “You got me. You’re a slave driver and I’m trying to escape your clutches.”

Sam rolled her eyes at you. You were lucky enough to become friends with your fitness trainer. You were better for it.

“If I let you go, will you promise to coach my daughter sometime? You know she adores you.” Sam bargained.

You were well aware of that fact. You met Ruby a short week after you met Sam. The two were sort of a package deal. You first met her when you dropped by the rehab center to say hi to Maggie. Apparently Ruby had a little mishap with some stairs and wound up fracturing her elbow. She needed some physical rehab for it. It was there you found out that Ruby was Sam’s kid and that apparently, she idolized you.

“I’ll make time for it.” You relented. You couldn’t possibly say no to Ruby, or Sam for that matter.

Sam grinned widely and it was hard not to be affected by such a smile. “You’re the best.”

“I know.” You replied confidently. “I’ll be back in fifteen.”

“You better be back or I’ll let your coach know you’ve been slacking off.” She warned you playfully.

“Lies.” You immediately retorted as you walked out of the second floor gym.

You walked through the familiar hallway and couldn’t help but stop whenever you passed by the rehab center. A lot happened here a few months ago. It was easy enough to spot Maggie who was chatting with another therapist near the P.T station. She waved when she spotted you before being called off to attend to her patient.

You sort of missed the one on one time you used to have with Maggie and Alex.

You quickly climbed down the stairs to enter the busy first floor. Ever since you got off physical therapy, you’d been slowly integrating yourself in the downstairs world. You’d spent so much time distancing yourself out of fear of being seen as weak. Now, you were secretly happy that you were part of something, part of a community as it were.

You never had anything like this back in Metropolis. The environment there was cold and competitive.

So as you walked through the busy thoroughfare that was the first floor, you immediately heard the sounds of sparring happening all at once. You sneaked a peek into the large hall where all the Pistes were used for actual sparring and found the Junior division fencers going at it. Watching them brought a smile to your face. Fencing used to be so simple back when you were at their level. There were fewer stakes and the risk wasn’t so bad. All you had was your love for the sport.

By the time you got to the familiar 7 Eleven downstairs, you felt even more parched. While you were perfectly hydrated, you were sort of craving for Slurpees. Getting a Gatorade was your little compromise to yourself. Everyone knew the sports beverage was mostly sugar but nutritionists would argue that it was better than soda by a long shot. If anything, the electrolytes were real at least.

“So do you come here often?”

You whipped around and found Kara grinning at you. Your chest swelled at the sight of her. Mostly  because you missed her company. She was picking up some granola bars, that meant she was preparing for a long day. Long days meant that you wouldn’t be seeing her later.

“That sounds like a pick-up line, Danvers.”

Kara immediately turned all red and flustered. She was way too easy to mess with but you were also half serious about flirting with her. If you didn’t allow yourself this much, you might actually just spontaneously combust from trying to keep it all in.

“E— Excuse me?”

Jesus Christ, why was she like this?

“I’m kidding.”

“Oh.” Kara seemed relieved. Okay, that was a little hurtful. Was the idea of flirting with you that awful?

“To answer you earlier question, I’m on a break. Sam is ruthless.” You changed the subject to spare her.

Kara finally seemed to ease up and was thankful “And we’re eternally grateful for her.” she replied just as she spotted you holding a bottle of Gatorade. “You do know that’s mostly sugar right? You’re going to regret it sooner or later.”

“I’m having Slurpee withdrawals.” You said, deadpan.

Kara burst out into laughter. “Ah. And this is your compromise?”

“You can’t laugh at me, Danvers. You fed my addiction too. You’re complicit.”

“Oh, so its an addiction now?”

You missed this kind of banter. This playful back and forth between you. Choosing not to feed Kara’s teasing, you simply crossed your arms at her. “You better not be slacking off right now too.”

“Of course not. I’ve been sparring splendidly, like always.” Kara boasted playfully.

“So basically, Lucy Lane has been getting her ass handed to her.”

Kara snickered. “Maybe. You should train faster, Lena. Give her a run for her money so she’d stop being so complacent.”

“I’d love to but Corben won’t let me spar yet. Which sucks because I miss it so much.” You groaned.

She merely shrugged at you. “When has that ever stopped you? If you want, you can use me for practice.”

Spar with Kara? Was she crazy?

Competing with Kara was what caused you to spiral in the first place. While she obviously had nothing to do with your ACL, she had everything to do with your mental state back then. You were in a pretty bad place all because you couldn’t win against her.

What if you relapsed? Then everything you’d worked for would have been for nothing. You were in a better place now.

“I can hear the gears churning in your head. Don’t think too hard on it. We’re not the same people anymore and besides, I’d be a little offended if you didn’t trust me enough to do this after everything we’ve been through.” Kara said lightheartedly but there was a seriousness undercutting her tone.

Then you felt her place her hand on your shoulder. The human contact grounded you from spiraling away with your thoughts. “This isn’t a competition right now, Lena. We’re just two friends sparring, okay?”

When you said nothing, Kara reluctantly withdrew her hand. “Look, why don’t you think about it. No pressure or anything.” She added.

With a furrowed brow, all you did was nod at her grimly. Kara had this uncanny ability to accurately guess your moods. You were thankful that she knew when to back off. You simply watched her walk away from you to pay for her granola bars while you remained rooted to your spot.

Undoubtedly, Kara was the best sparring partner you could ask for.

But Kara wasn’t the problem. You were.

You were scared to find out if you were still the fencer you knew yourself to be. The alternative would be a little too painful to bear.

Right before Kara left, she ran back to you again. “Oh by the way, do you have any plans for thanksgiving?”

You shook your head. “Not really, no.”

“Great.” She grinned. “Guess you’re coming with the us then.”

Kara didn’t really give you an opportunity to decline because she ran off before you could get a word in. To be fair, it was just thanksgiving. No reason to turn down free food and what you assumed would be good company. You had no idea why she would think otherwise. Though then again, given your track record with her, it was an ever present risk.

You were hesitant about sparring with Kara because you had this twisty feeling deep in your gut. You immediately identified it as fear and while it was perfectly reasonable for you to be scared, what was strange was that there was excitement too. A strange combination of fear and eagerness.

The only thing left to ask was if you were brave enough to do it. Frankly, you weren’t so sure.

 


 

Kara

“I don’t want to step on Corben’s toes by going behind his back. After all, he knows Lena best.” Alex sighed into the phone.

You considered this carefully as you tried balancing your phone between your ear and your shoulder. So far, gravity had been winning and the phone was close to slipping off your shoulder.

“No, I get that. I just want your professional medical opinion on this.” You replied firmly.

Your sister made this protesting sound. “Can’t we talk about this later? We’re all going to the same place after all.”

“It’s a simple yes or no question, Alex.”

Alex groaned. “You should ask Lena that, I’m not at liberty to say.”

You frowned and accidentally bumped into your dresser. When you did so, your phone slid off your shoulder and you barely caught it with your other hand. “It’s cool, I get it.”

“Uh-huh.”

Without warning, Alex dropped the call on you. It was abrupt but it was something Alex would do. You returned to your current task of deciding which of your outside clothes would your mother not scold you over. The last time you showed up at the Danvers household in your gym clothes, you felt like you were thirteen and in trouble again.

It was around then that Lena walked into the room with a question on her lips. When she saw you in your underwear, her eyes widened and she immediately backtracked. “I’ll come back later.” She blurted out.

“Wait come back!” You immediately yelled.

Lena tentatively slipped her head through the door and looked firmly at the wall behind you. You didn’t realize this was a big deal for her. You weren’t conscious about these kinds of things.

“You had a question?” You asked her as you pulled out your nice pants.

“Uh yeah... Is it really okay for me to show up empty handed?” She asked nervously. It was almost cute how worried she was.

“Of course. We’re not formal about these things and it’s just thanksgiving.” You replied as you started putting your pants on.

Lena finally entered the room after she grew uncomfortable simply sticking her head in. From where you were standing, it seemed like she was straining her neck. For a moment, Lena was just looking around. It occurred to you in that moment that this was the first time she’d set foot in your room since she moved here.

“I somehow expected your room to be more colorful.” She observed.

“It used to be but it was a pain to maintain, so I just painted it with white.” You replied.

You turned around and started rummaging through your closet again. It had been while since you had to wear slightly dressier clothes, finding them would take some digging.

Dressing nice for your mother was a simply courtesy to the wonderful woman who raised you. She probably couldn’t care less unless you showed up in sweatpants. But still, it was thanksgiving and you didn’t see her often enough.

You didn’t hear her footsteps but you knew she moved because you felt her behind you. She didn’t physically touch you but you could feel the warmth radiating from her. The sudden closeness made goosebumps crawl up your back and you were now acutely aware of the fact that you were in your bra.

“Why the struggle, Danvers? You look good in anything.” Lena stated monotonously.

While her delivery was flat, the fact that she was complimenting you at all made your stomach flip. Her opinions held so much power over you.

“I can’t remember where I put my normal clothes.” You replied.

Lena blindly went into your closet and pulled out one of your more respectable oxford shirts. She shoved that to your chest and stepped back. “You wore something like this once. It wasn’t too bad.” Lena said casually.

Her gaze didn’t feel casual though, it felt intense as she looked you over from top to bottom. You swallowed hard and tried not to think about Lena’s darkened eyes. “Thanks.” You said shakily.

“I’m going to get dressed too. You sure I don’t need to bring anything?” Lena asked as she started to make her way to the living room.

“Positive.”

Lena nodded slowly. “Alright.”

She then proceeded to close the door before changing her mind and popping her head back in for one last word. “You might want to pop one more button off your shirt... it’s attractive.”

Then Lena left on that note without another word.

As a person, you never took compliments well. Compliments always flustered you but when it came from Lena, you were beet red and beyond flustered. You were suddenly a mess as you clung to your shirt and stared slack jawed from the door. Lena probably meant nothing by it, she was that kind of person.

But wow.

Lena thought you were attractive.

You always thought she viewed you as a gremlin. It was so weird to know that she viewed you as a person.

Great, you were self-conscious now. This was why you hated compliments. You could take it if they were about your fencing skills, you were damn proud of your fencing skills. It was different when it was about... you.

Shake it off, Danvers. It’s just a friendly compliment.

Still, coming from someone like Lena. The compliment was tremendously flattering. After all, Lena Luthor was someone so beautiful she could drop fencing and simply model for the rest of her life. You could think of several athletes who turned to modeling after retirement. Lena could do it too, rather easily in fact.

All of a sudden you remembered the way Lena cornered you in the kitchen back when she just moved in. She was looking at you as if she wanted to—

No, no, this was crazy. You were crazy for even thinking it.

Pushing those unsavory thoughts aside, you quickly put your clothes on and when you were buttoning your shirt up, you remembered the last thing Lena said. Nervously, you decided to pop one more button off before tucking in your shirt. Looking in the mirror, you realized Lena was right. It wasn’t a bad look.

You grabbed a warm coat and slung it over your arm for now. When you left your room, Lena was still stuck in the bathroom. You idly waited around for her by sitting on the couch and absentmindedly surfing through channels.

When Lena finally came out, you couldn’t help but laugh at her.

She was wrapped up in three layers of clothing. When she caught you laughing, she shot you that patented glare of hers. “I know you’re like a human heater and everything but I get cold easily.” She quickly defended herself.

She had one of those checkered button down shirts, then a grey sweater on top of it, then one of those preppy looking quilted vest in some dark orange earth tone you couldn’t put your finger on. Overall, she looked good. You always imagined that Lena would pull of the preppy look with aplomb and she did. But the fact that she still intended to bring a coat was funny.

“Oh, stop it with the judge-y eyes, I really hate the cold.” Lena stated irritatedly.

You switched off the TV and grabbed your belongings. “Okay. Let’s go then you big baby.”

“Okay. First of all, rude.”

“Are you going to wear a scarf too?” You teased her.

Lena actually look a teensy bit flustered. This was rare because she was always so careful with her emotions. It took you a long time to even begin to read the surface of her inconstant moods. “Oh shut up. I liked you better when you weren’t talking to me.”

“Please. You were too busy hating me when I wasn’t talking to you.” You scoffed.

Lena didn’t quite have a comeback for that because it was true. “Touché.” She finally said after a long pause.

You simply grinned at her in victory. “Well come on then. Alex and Maggie should be downstairs any minute.”

You started to make your way to the door when Lena suddenly stopped you. “Wait.” She said.

“What’s up?”

She grabbed your glasses off the side table. Instead of simply giving them to you, she placed them directly onto your face. The gesture seemed oddly intimate and you felt this strange coiling sensation deep in your gut. Placing them on your face meant that her face was close to yours. You could easily see her green eyes and the tiny amber flecks hidden within them, they were captivating.

“You said you had headaches this morning and I saw you squinting at the chore wheel. Just wear your damn glasses. People don’t fight off astigmatism with stubbornness.” Lena said in a low whisper.

You smiled at her but you couldn’t bring yourself to tear your eyes away from hers. “Thank you.”

She left ahead of you while you were left standing by the doorway like an idiot. Lena had paid enough attention to you to know when you wore glasses and when you wore contacts. The thought alone made you smile like an idiot.

A strange warm feeling bubbling in your chest as you finally followed after her.

 


 

Your childhood home was a thirty minute drive from Downtown National City on a good day. Lena was pretty quiet for the whole ride, preferring to observe the neighborhood you and Alex grew up in instead. The car ride was filled with mundane conversation, anything to pass the time.

When Alex finally pulled up by the driveway, you felt that warm toasty feeling of being home. This house was a safe place for you and no other place made you more at peace than here.

You were the first person out of the car and Lena followed you closely. Maggie immediately went to the back of the trunk to grab some of the stuff your mom asked for. Most of it were probably ingredients and a good mix of alcoholic beverages.

“I had no idea we were bringing the turkey.” Lena observed as she watched Maggie struggle to haul a whole turkey from the trunk.

“After a few years of us living away from home, mom figured that she might as well use us for groceries. We don’t mind though. We bring the food, she does the cooking. It’s perfect.” You replied proudly.

“Stop standing around and give me a hand here. For two Olympic level athletes, you sure are useless.” Maggie yelled.

You and Lena exchanged looks before laughing. You both ran over to help. Lena grabbed the box of beverages, you grabbed onto the cooler full of raw ingredients.

Alex ended up closing the trunk for the three of you and locking the car. As all of your hands were full, Alex had to ring the door bell as well.

“Mom’s going to recognize Lena, you know.” Alex pointed out smugly.

“And?” You replied in irritation.

“It’s going to be from the poster you used to have when you were fourteen.” She snickered.

You flushed beet red in response while Maggie tried to stifle her own laughter.

“What poster?” Lena’s voice interjected.

“You really should ask Kara about it.” Alex replied with this shit-eating grin. Your sister better watch her back because you had half a mind to throttle her on Thanksgiving.

Before Lena could press you on that, your mother finally opened the door.

Eliza Danvers still looked amazing for a woman in her fifties. She aged gracefully as it were. You missed the way her eyes crinkled whenever she smiled. She was your mom and you missed her tremendously.

“Already bickering I see.” Eliza said with a smile.

“Hey, mom.” You and Alex greeted at the same time.

“Why don’t you all come inside first. Then we’ll talk.” She motioned for all four of you to come in.

Naturally, the house looked exactly the same as it did. Excluding the one time you all pitched in to give the house a fresh coat of paint, nothing changed. The furniture was the same, so were the crownings and the wooden fixtures. It was a fairly average suburban house overall. Nothing too fancy but it was home.

Lena was quiet again. She usually fell back into silence when she was busy observing. You watched her look around with great fascination until she caught you watching her, forcing you to look away awkwardly. It’s not like you were staring at her specifically. You were just trying to gauge her reaction.

“Why don’t you kids put all of that stuff in the kitchen.” Eliza called out.

All three of you were itching to free your hands so you all marched to the kitchen without protest. Lena asked where she could stuff the drinks that needed refrigerating, like the soda and the beer, to which Eliza told her to stuff it on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Maggie left the turkey out to defrost on the counter top and you transferred the contents of the cooler into the fridge as well.

“You look familiar, where do I know you from?” Eliza asked Lena directly.

Lena immediately extended her hand politely and your mother shook it. “Lena Luthor, I’m also a professional fencer.”

“And my new roommate. She had nowhere else to be so we brought her here.” You added.

“That’s nice of you Kara but that doesn’t quite answer my question.” Eliza replied as she further scrutinized Lena.

You wanted to try and steer Lena away before your mother embarrassed you. Unfortunately, Eliza had a eureka moment and you could already feel the mortification in your soul. “Oh. The poster.” She exclaimed proudly.

Lena narrowed her eyes at you. “This is this second time I’ve heard about this poster. Spill.”

“I can’t remember the year but I remember this one time, Kara went to Italy with some other fencers her age. The fencing club she was in at the time paid for the trip. When she came back, she couldn’t stop gushing about you.” Eliza told Lena with great pleasure.

Lena seemed to be taking this information rather gleefully. Bringing her to thanksgiving was an awful idea. You just gave her enough blackmail ammunition for a lifetime. She’ll never let you live it down.

“Two-time Olympic gold and silver medalist and seven-time world champion, at your service.” Lena boasted with just the right amount of pride so that she wouldn’t come off as cocky.

“With that pedigree, no wonder Kara was so excited about you.” Eliza replied.

“Are you two done yet because I think I’ll go smother myself with a pillow.” You groaned, this was humiliating.

“Don’t be like that honey, you were very adorable.” Eliza cooed and you could feel yourself growing redder and redder. Your face was now warm.

Lena grinned smugly as she crossed her arms. “Damn, Danvers. You weren’t kidding when you said you were a fan.”

“You do know I’m letting you stay at my place rent-free?” You threatened her.

She shrugged off your threat. “I never asked you to that. I’m fully capable of paying rent.”

Damn it.

You were spared further embarrassment when Alex announced that she ordered pizza for lunch. You used your sister to escape what had become an unbearable conversation for you. You angrily sat down on the couch and found Alex watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.

“Aren’t you a doctor?” You asked her.

“I am.”

“Doesn’t the inaccuracy bother you?”

“No one watches this show for the medical accuracy, Kara.” Your sister scoffed.

It was a fair point. You shrugged and found yourself growing invested in the drama currently entangling its steely protagonist, Meredith Grey.

 


 

Lena

The Danvers sisters were hiding out in the living room while you and Maggie stayed in the kitchen to help out. It was only proper as the two of you were more like guests than family. Eliza tried to get you two to enjoy yourselves but it didn’t sit right with you. You were a guest and your family raised you right.

“Listen Mrs. Danvers, we’ll go have fun when the pizza arrives but until then, we’re here to help.” You told Eliza.

Eliza smiled warmly. While she looked nothing like Kara, they sort of had the same smile. You instantly felt safe with this woman. “Please, call me Eliza. Mrs. Danvers makes me sound like Alex’s grandmother.”

The last thing she said was oddly worded and a question popped into your head. Sensing the question, Maggie jumped into the conversation but Eliza waved her off. “It’s fine, Maggie.”

You were now extremely baffled.

“You don’t have to ask. Your face is already asking the question and I don’t personally mind seeing as though Kara never told you. Kara is adopted. She and Alex are stepsisters.” Eliza revealed to you.

Now you feel like an insensitive ass. “They’re so close though.” You blurted out.

Eliza chuckled. “They weren’t always the best sisters but they have come a long way.”

“And is there a Mr. Danvers in the picture?” You asked carefully.

Her smile turned a little dour. “You mean Jeremiah? He passed away when the kids were younger... not a day goes by that we don’t think of him.”

Yep, you were definitely an insensitive ass. If you could make like an ostrich and bury your head into the ground, you would. Going to thanksgiving with the Danvers was a terrible idea. You knew how to be polite but socializing like a normal person was beyond you.

“I’m sure Kara could tell you more. You’ll have to forgive me if I can’t talk more about the subject.” Eliza said apologetically.

This woman was so nice and kind. You felt awful now. With this woman raising Kara, no wonder she turned out the way she did. She learned how to be kind from the best. “No, I completely understand. I lost my father too.”

This wasn’t a subject you liked talking about either. The Luthor family wasn’t as warm as this one but your father’s absence was definitely felt. Lionel Luthor used to spoil you rotten because you were daddy’s little girl. Your mother on the other hand could easily be equated to cold fish. She showed her love in different ways and you knew she meant well... most of the time.

But your family was a lot to unpack. Definitely a topic for another day.

“Loss is never easy is it?” Eliza asked.

You knew exactly what she meant. “Time makes it bearable but it doesn’t fill that tiny hole in your chest.”

Maggie had remained silent for the whole conversation and she looked uncomfortable. As if she stumbled upon a conversation she wasn’t meant to hear. Instead of sticking around, she quietly stepped out and you didn’t blame her. The atmosphere suddenly took a nosedive into flat out dreary.

“But you know what? It’s Thanksgiving. Let’s be thankful for the people we still have with us.” Eliza said in an attempt to lighten up the room.

She was right. You usually thought nothing of thanksgiving but this year? You had a lot of things worth being thankful for.

“Enough about that. I’d like to get to know you more Lena. Kara doesn’t usually bring people home.” Eliza changed the subject quickly.

You leaned against the kitchen counter. “Like Kara said, I had nowhere else to go and Thanksgiving seems to be a big deal for her so here I am.”

“You know what I mean. Kara’s surrounded by friends but she chose to bring you here. That says a lot about you.” Eliza observed before she glanced behind you. “Can you poke the turkey and check if it’s still frozen?”

You did as requested. “Not all the way through. Another hour maybe?”

“Thanks.”

“And to answer your question... Kara and I are complicated.”

“How so?”

You now knew they weren’t related in the slightest but Eliza Danvers possessed that same piercing look Kara had. It was as if she could see right through you. This wasn’t a person you could lie to.

Just like Kara, you thought.

“We were enemies... well she was my enemy. I’m pretty sure she never thought of me as antagonistic in any way.”

Eliza grinned. “That’s Kara for you.”

You smiled at that. “She has enough compassion for the world.”

“That she does. So how did you go from being enemies to becoming friends?”

“I’m still trying to figure that one out.” It was a half-truth. You obviously didn’t want her to know you had a thing for her daughter by telling her the details.

Eliza seemed to be content with your answer. It was around then that everyone heard the doorbell, signifying pizza and therefore lunch. Kara announced that she would get the door.

“Don’t let me keep you. You should spend Thanksgiving with them.” She said with that warm motherly smile, her eyes crinkling.

You returned her smile. “Alright. Well... I enjoyed talking to you, Eliza.”

“Me too.”

On that positive and heartwarming note, you joined your friends in the living room. Two boxes of pizza were already opened and ready for consumption while all three of your friends were on the edge of their seats.

“McDreamy has a wife?!” Kara pointed at the TV and yelled.

You shook your head and laughed as you joined them.

Chapter Text

Kara

The whole afternoon passed too quickly. With wine, beer, and back-to-back reruns of the addictive Grey’s Anatomy, you barely felt the time go by. Occasionally, one of you would go into the kitchen to help mom but aside from that, your four butts were firmly planted onto the couch.

By the time dinner was ready, your stomach was growling. You could almost taste it from the smell alone.

Mom rarely switched up her Thanksgiving feasts. To go with the turkey, she always had mashed potatoes, a sweet potato casserole, some greens on the side, the family cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie for dessert. You’d been eating this stuff your whole life and it never got old.

You all helped set up the dinner table like one cohesive unit. Considering that Lena was the new one, it sure as hell didn’t feel like it. You didn’t know what Lena and your mom talked about in the kitchen but they wound up working like a well oiled machine. Secretly, you were pleased that Lena bonded with your mother.

Luckily, your mom wasn’t one for strict tradition or religion. There were no prayers or the saying of grace in this household.

The one thing you did do without fail was going around the table and sharing what you were thankful for this year. It was a good reminder to stay humble and to remember your roots.

“I’ll start.” Alex said after clearing her throat. She briefly took a sip of her wine before continuing. “I’m thankful that we get to be here again this year. Mom, I know we’re busy and we’ll try to make more time for you... Kara agrees with me when I say that I wish we were here more often.”

Eliza smiled at the both of you with that unconditional warmth of hers. “I appreciate the thought sweetheart, but I’m happy enough knowing you’re both taking care of yourselves.”

Alex didn’t quite know what to say to that and moved on awkwardly. “As always, I’m thankful for Maggie. Thank you for coming into my life and thank you for loving me.”

Maggie looked at Alex as if the sun shone out of her ass before shyly drinking her beer.

“I’m always grateful that you’re my sister.” Alex said when she turned to Kara. “I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

You sighed aloud. “Damn it, Alex. You’re always making me emotional. Enough with the speeches already, you do this every year.”

Everyone laughed at you but you knew they all shared your sentiments. Alex could be so emotional about these things.

“And lastly, I’m thankful for my new friend. She’s certainly made the past few months interesting.” Alex said with finality as she tipped her glass towards Lena.

Lena looked a little embarrassed but she seemed rather happy about Alex’s speech. You were glad she found friendship with all of you.

“As always, Alex is a tough act to follow so I’ll be brief. I’m always thankful for my two girls and for the people who make them happy.” Eliza followed up and lifted her glass for another toast.

Everyone lifted their glasses cheerily. “Hear, hear.” You all agreed.

Suddenly everyone looked to Maggie by accident and she suddenly was put in the spot. Awkwardly, she raised her glass and smiled. “Eh... you guys know what I’m thankful for.”

That brought on some laughter. “Yeah yeah, you’re thankful for everyone in this room. We know, Maggie.” You said.

“But a special mention to one Lena Luthor. When this year started, I had no idea you’d come and mess things up for the Center near the end of it. We don’t say this enough but we do appreciate you. To Lena.” Maggie added quickly.

You all enthusiastically cheered in Lena’s honor, further cementing Lena’s embarrassment. Her cheeks were pink and she sank into her seat.

“I really do want to eat now. The turkey smells amazing so I’ll keep it short and sweet.” You said now that it was finally your turn.

You immediately looked to Lena. “I didn’t expect you to come into my life. I’ve always been content just watching your career from a distance but I’ve always wanted to be on your stage. To stand where you are... I had no expectations of you and when we met, I’m pretty sure you hated my guts.”

Lena chuckled at that last bit. There was this lovely sparkle in her eye.

“But suddenly you weren’t just a distant figure. Suddenly you were in my life. Suddenly you became my friend. You’ve become important to me and I’m so thankful for you. Thank you, Lena.”

Instead of hiding away and sinking into her own embarrassment, Lena just stared at you for the longest time. Her green eyes were bright and clear. For once, she didn’t hide behind her mask. She allowed her emotions to seep through and the sight was stunning.

“I’m thankful for you too.” Lena replied quietly.

All eyes were suddenly on her, waiting for her to elaborate because sincerity was rare from Lena. She was a woman who hated appearing weak. She disliked feeling vulnerable. Sincerity was something you had to demand from her but when you got it? She could take your breathe away.

“My life was perfect until you showed up and ruined everything. I was undefeated. I had never lost a match before you came. I resented you for it and it wasn’t fair to you. I didn’t know what to feel when you visited me in the hospital but something told me that you were worth listening to...”

Lena paused to take a sip of wine, most likely to calm her nerves. “I hated that we were more alike than I thought. It was easier to resent you when you were so overtly different from me.”

“Then I had the privilege of knowing you. You suddenly became the one person who understood what I’d been going through. The person I wanted to talk to. The person who made things simple when the world was complicated... I’ve never had a best friend before but you might be the closest thing to it.”

Then Lena looked at you with her unwavering gaze. “I’m so thankful for you.” She started to say before she turned and remembered that Alex and Maggie were there to. “For all of you.” She amended.

“Now that is one hell of a speech.” Eliza remarked.

Everyone murmured in agreement. With all of that done and over with, you all simply dug in. Someone put on some tunes to go with dinner while an easy conversation flowed. Lena and Maggie couldn’t stop complimenting Eliza for her food while you and Alex were reminiscing about some old memories.

“So tell me Lena, are you seeing someone right now?” Eliza outright asked Lena after an appropriate amount of normal conversation.

Lena looked tense. “Oh no. Single since birth. Married to the sport and whatnot.”

“You know, Kara’s single too.”

You slammed your hand onto the table as you heart started to race at the mere idea of it. “Mom! Stop it.”

“What?” Eliza asked innocently.

You gave Lena an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. She literally tries to set me up with everybody. Maybe she told you about how I don’t like bringing my friends around? It’s mostly to avoid her matchmaking.”

“Is it a crime to want to see my children happy?” Eliza pouted.

“I’m not interested in dating right now and neither is Lena. We’re professional fencers, Mom.” You insisted.

“I honestly don’t mind. Eliza does it with more finesse than my mother.” Lena replied with good humor.

That caught your interest. Lena hated talking about her family and when she did, she only spoke about her brother who she had clear affection for.

“How so?” Eliza inquired.

Lena shrugged sheepishly. “She likes to set me up with the sons of her rich country club friends and conveniently forgets the fact that I’m a raging lesbian.”

“Yikes, not fun.” Alex remarked.

“Does your mother not accept you?” Eliza’s eyes darkened.

Lena waved them off. “She’s made her peace with it but being in denial makes her comfortable so I let her do as she pleases. The only approval I care for is my brother’s and he couldn’t care less about who I’m into.”

“It’s good to know you have your brother in your corner. Family is important.” Eliza replied warmly.

“Yeah, he’s an ass but I love him.” Lena replied affectionately.

Dinner continued on that way until all the food was gone, sadly. You were holding out for some leftovers but you would have to settle for a happy stomach. Eliza brought out the pumpkin pie while Alex got everyone coffees.

This was usually the part where everyone just started to do their own thing. Alex and Maggie were talking to Eliza in a more serious tone. No doubt they were snitching on you and telling Eliza what you’d been up to.

Unwilling to be part of that, you took your pumpkin pie and coffee and walked into your old room.

You opened the lamp and sat on your bed. You placed your coffee on the nearby window ledge and started eating pie.

Your room hadn’t changed. When you and Alex left the house to go live on your own, Eliza decided to keep your old rooms exactly as they were. This was your room when you were eighteen.

Come to think of it, it didn’t have a lot of those defining teenage markers in it. No cork board full of pictures or those fancy Christmas lights people hung in their rooms to make it more interesting.

You even outgrew posters by the time you were eighteen so you tore those down as well. You still had some of your stuffed animals lying. The only noteworthy thing left was the old equipment you left behind, the ones you outgrew.

“So this is where you’ve run off to.”

You turned to the door and found Lena looking directly at you with this odd look in her eye.

“Hey.”

“Hey.” She greeted back as she took a seat next to you.

“Why are you hiding?” Lena whispered once she was comfortably seated on your bed.

You smiled. “Why are we whispering?”

“I don’t know. This feels secretive.” Lena blurted out.

You both burst out into laughter. You placed your pie on the window ledge and leaned back into your bed, grabbing a pillow in the process. Even your pillows smelled the same. Lena took off her shoes and brought her feet up.

“So why are you hiding?” Lena asked you again.

It wasn’t a deep and complicated answer. “I don’t like it when people are talking about me and I’m in the room. Especially when I’m aware of it. It makes me feel uncomfortable, I guess...”

“That’s something I’ve gotten used to.” Lena replied.

You pulled your body up until you were sitting down, hugging your pillow close to your chest. “I bet you thrive when people are talking about you.”

“I’m very confident when it comes to my skills. People talk and their opinions have no bearing on my ability to do my job. But I’m not infallible...” Lena said quietly.

“How so?”

“You’ve seen me at my worse to be frank. I hate being vulnerable and I hate being pitied. I have no control over those things and it drives me up the wall.”

Your hand was on her back, trying to comfort her. “No one was pitying you Lena.”

“But they were watching me. Waiting to see if I would fail. Even for something as fixable as an ACL tear, people start to wonder and talk. It’s a setback and not everyone can pick themselves up from those.” Lena sighed.

“But you can.” You stated firmly. “You’re right, not everyone can pick themselves up from a setback but you can. I refuse to believe that you’ve come this far only to give up now.”

Lena gave you a confident smile. “I know. I’ll be fine, Danvers... so you better watch out because I’m going to humble you.”

You genuinely thought Lena was going to start brooding again. She was a lot more optimistic now, you decided that you liked her this way. “Those are fighting words, Luthor. You better back them up.”

“If you’re my opponent, I think I’ll be just fine.” Lena declared before taking a thoughtful pause.

“I’ll be okay as long as I know it’s you.” She continued to say.

You felt yourself turn red and your chest felt tight. “You can’t just say things like that.” You blurted out.

Lena looked puzzled. “I don’t follow.”

You cleared your throat awkwardly. “I’m an emotional person, you can’t say things like that without warning.”

Lena looked far too amused with you because she simply laughed at your expense. Suddenly she extended her hand and you felt like you couldn’t breathe. It was a simple innocent gesture but with the way your heart pounded in your chest, it felt otherwise. She simply tucked way loose strands of your hair but the gesture alone felt far too intimate.

As you watched Lena do this, her features had softened and her eyes were warm. “You’re so... you.” She said with clear affection in her voice.

“What does that mean?” You voice became low and soft, you barely recognized it.

The edge of her mouth quirked up and she didn’t quite move her hand away, her fingertips grazing the skin behind your ear. “I... I’ve grown quite fond of you, Kara. I hope nothing changes when all this is done.”

“And what is all this?”

Lena withdrew her hand. “My training... the Olympics.... I hope we remain the same after all of that because you’re too important. You mean too much to me now.”

Damn it, Lena.

“I feel the same way.”

Lena grinned in response and seeing her so happy made you melt.

You sighed internally. Lena was a pain in the ass most days but when smiled like this, it was worth everything.

“Which reminds me, have you thought about the sparring thing.” You changed the subject.

Lena paled a little. “I have.”

“So what do you think?”

Lena shuffled uncomfortably in her spot. “Let’s do it.”

“You don’t sound so sure.”

Lena frowned. “I’m very sure.”

“You sound scared.” You pointed out.

Lena sighed and her shoulders slumped. “I do, don’t it?”

“You know...” you started to say as you leaned towards her. “You’re allowed to say no. It’s a dumb idea anyway.”

She shook her head vigorously. “No, no, I’ll do it.”

“You sound like you’re trying to convince yourself.”

“Seriously Kara, I mean it. I want to spar again.” Lena said with this dejected look on her face. Then she brought her eyes back up to you and you couldn’t possibly say no to her. “Spar with me, please.”

“Okay, we’ll do it one these days.” You relented.

“No, let’s do it later. We can sneak around like we used to.” Lena insisted.

“And get a Slurpee afterwards?” You grinned.

Lena smirked. “We’re already bending the rules, let’s get a Slurpee while we’re at it.”

You brought out your fist and moved it towards Lena. “It’s a deal then.”

She bumped your fist with great enthusiasm.

It was around then that Alex and Maggie passed by your room and stood by the door, they had these weird grins plastered on their faces.

“Time to go kids.” Alex said as she tossed her car keys in her eyes.

Lena was the first one up as she gave Alex the stink eye on her way out. “Real mature of you.” She said.

“Did you enjoy your play date?” Your sister teased.

“You are going to regret fixing my knee.” Lena threatened from the hallway.

Maggie shot you a look and shook her head, pointing her thumb at them. “Children, am I right?”

All four of you gathered in the living room to let Eliza know you were all going. It was getting late after all. You and Alex gave her a hug first before going while Lena thanked her profusely for having her over. Naturally, Eliza told her to come again anytime and that she was always welcome at the Danvers household. She even told Lena to come by for Christmas.

By the time you all got back into the car, you were ready to hit the sack. Unfortunately, you and Lena still had some unfinished worked to do.

 


 

Lena

“Don’t tell me your fencing jacket’s gotten tight from your vacation.” Kara teased you from across the room.

It was around midnight now and you snuck into the same fencing hall you tutored Kara in. Well, it was less tutoring and more babysitting and making the sure the future of Sabre Fencing was alive and well.

The roles had been reversed this time around and it was Kara who was doing the helping now. It had been a while since you last saw her in full gear but she still cut a dashing figure all in white.

You both figured that the sounds the scoring machines made would call too much attention to the room and may land you both in some trouble. The only conclusion was to forgo the machines which was great, you didn’t want to put on your Lame and make the room warmer than it had to be.

“I actually got thinner from my vacation thanks for asking. Now I have to eat more to gain back that muscle, you ass.” You shot back from the other end of the strip.

“I’m kidding, Lena.” Kara apologized as she lifted her hands up in her defense.

You moved around in your jacket and breeches for a bit. As they were fresh from the laundry, they felt stiff and tight. Especially your glove, they needed some breaking in again. Once you were settled, you grabbed your Sabre and pulled your mask over your head.

It felt insanely good to be in full gear. So far, all you’d been using was your glove and Sabre sans the get-up.

“Are you sure you’re fine with the self-refereeing?” Kara asked.

You flexed your hand and adjusted your grip on the handle of your Sabre. “We’re two smart women, we’ll figure it out.”

“This is just practice, Lena. Don’t get too competitive about this...” Kara reminded you.

Because it wasn’t fair for both of you to announce when the bout would start, you had the audio clip of a fencing referee on repeat. The volume was kept low but enough for both of you to hear it. Kara set it to play and you both took your places on the strip.

This felt familiar and foreign at once.

You felt like a mere imitation than the real thing. It would a be shock to your system to finally put your muscles to good use, to finally make the motions they were meant to be making. Your heart pounded and when Kara disappeared behind that mask, she could have been anyone.

“En-Garde, Pret, Allez!”

You moved almost on instinct. Your brain barely kept up with what your body was already doing. It was pure muscle memory. Your instincts and reflexes were acting in your stead. You both lunged at once, your feet dropping at the same time, and you both landed the tips on the other’s chest. The both of you were like a mirror image.

“Simulatané.” Kara announced.

Wordlessly, you restarted the audio and waited for the bout to restart.

When you heard the Allez, your instincts took ahold of you once more. You realized that you’d been merely reacting, not attacking. Kara was always an aggressive fencer, that’s what made her so good. Coupled with her inhuman athleticism, she would be hard to counter in your current state.

However, you’d been watching her fence all these months. You knew her tendencies and her habits. Which attacks she favored and in which directions.

She feinted her initial attack, pretending to strike from the side before suddenly moving her blade upwards. She moved so fast you could barely read her movements, on instinct your body moved your arm into a parry-five. Lifting your blade up into a horizontal motion but Kara was better than that. She avoided your blade and landed the tip of her Sabre onto your mask.

“Zero to one.” Kara announced in a flat voice.

Right. You had forgotten how focused Kara could be. It was a kindness that she didn’t go easy on you. She knew you would hate her for it if she didn’t take this seriously.

As you assumed your stance one more, you realized that it didn’t matter how well you knew Kara and her tactics. She would be too fast for you. You needed to get your head back into the game. You couldn’t let your body take over for you.

On the next bout, you uncharacteristically took the offensive, taking Kara by surprise. She fumbled on her retreat, leaving you an opening to strike. When you lunged, she narrowly dodged you and regained her momentum. She chased you to your end of the strip and just when you thought you were out of her reach, she lunged far and grazed your chest.

Damn it. You taught her how to do this. This was the lunge she trained so hard for and you felt a little jealous. This was what she was capable of at twenty-three. She had quite the future ahead of her.

But being on the opposite end of her lunge was so exhilarating. This was a new feeling. You usually felt fear and uncertainty whenever you fought her but never excitement.

“Zero to two.” You sighed.

Kara suddenly moved her mask up, revealing her face once more. “You okay, Lena?”

You lifted your mask up too. “I’m fantastic, thanks for asking.” You told her with a grin.

Kara seemed relieved and lowered her mask. “Okay good. No one likes a sore loser.”

The next few bouts went on this way. The more you fenced against her, the more aware you were of how far the gap was between you too. Kara was starting to become out of your reach and you desperately wanted to catch up to her.

Kara was faster, stronger, and smarter. It didn’t matter now that you could read her attacks in advanced, she got to you before you could counter her. Your bladework was a fraction of what it used to be, you would need to work on that with Corben.

The old you would have been disheartened at the distance.

But the new you felt inspired.

The score was now sitting at 0-13. It was perfectly understandable that you hadn’t scored one hit. Kara was at peak condition and you were still trying to be the fencer you once were.

You felt the frustration grow and it was cold and familiar. You just wanted one point. One single touch. You felt like you were tethering on the edge and if you slipped, you would have fallen back into the way you used to be. You would have been blinded by now, careless.

On the next bout, you came close to finally scoring a touch but Kara parry-riposted you perfectly. She’d been working so hard to eliminating her weakness and so far she was succeeding. Her bladework had been one of her weaker points and she had been getting better at that.

What a frustrating opponent.

But you knew that underneath all that was the same Kara who grounded you when things got too crazy.

Like you said earlier, you’d be fine for as long as you knew it was her you were up against.

With that thought, you calmed yourself and waited for the next bout. Your heart rate steadied and you were staring to feel focused again.

“En-Garde, Pret, Allez!”

You wanted to catch her off guard so badly, you actually tried to flunge. Kara made this funny yelp, almost like a squeak. Her reflexes were annoyingly good because she parried and counter attacked flawlessly.

“Damn it.” You growled.

“Try harder, Lena.” Kara goaded you.

You breathed in deeply and exhaled through your mouth.

Okay, Lena. You can do this.

Just one touch.

“En-Garde, Pret, Allez!”

You tried doing what you did best. You were never known for being aggressive, you were a tactical fencer and you honed your body to match your mind. If you could be several steps ahead of her, you could score a touch.

Kara would most likely run you all the way to the end and snatch a point with that far lunge of hers. It was unpredictable and any fencer would have a hard time with it.

But you weren’t just any fencer. You were Lena Luthor and you created that damn lunge of hers. You absolutely had to parry it.

Kara was the natural aggressor, coming at you at breakneck speed. You nearly lost your footing but you stopped short of the end. It was game over if she pushed you to the edge.

Kara took your bait because she launched her far lunge early, you barely managed to dodge her attack but it was enough to catch her off guard. You were immediately on the offensive, using the the weakness of Kara’s long lunge against her.

Using it left Kara wide open and so far, no one had parried her lunge. She never had to think this far.

With luck on your side, you lunged and your blade collided with her mask in a solid thud.

“Yes!” You yelled.

Kara suddenly threw her mask away. “Shhh!! Not too loud.” She warned.

“Yes.” You cheered in a not so quiet whisper.

You removed your mask and dropped it onto the floor. Immediately, you lowered the zipper of your jacket until your chest so you could breathe. The collar could be stifling at times.

Without warning, Kara latched onto you and enveloped you into this tight hug. Her arms were wrapped around your neck and all rational thought ceased.

“What are you—“

“First of all, I’m super proud of you. Second of all, you might have wounded my pride a little but I’ll recover.” Kara said, her arms still thrown around your neck.

“Oh.”

You weren’t a touchy person. You simply didn’t hug people but when it was Kara? You didn’t want to shy away from her. You couldn’t. You felt too much for her to move away.

Slowly, your arms slid around her and you realized that you wanted this too. The first thing you noticed was her familiar scent, you had grown so familiar with it that you associated it with home now. Her embrace made you feel... safe. Just being near her made you feel so much.

“I still lost.” You said.

Kara’s hands started to stroke your back in this comforting manner. It felt really good. “This was practice remember? You were amazing.”

“Was I?”

Kara pulled back, her arms still around you leaving little space between your faces. “You were. You might have lost but no one’s beat my long lunge before.”

You sighed at her before smiling. “I told you before, if your opponent can parry or dodge your lunge, you’re wide open to attacks.”

Kara laughed sweetly. “You did say that yes.”

Then things got weird.

You only just now noticed how near you were to Kara. Her body pressed against yours and suddenly, you couldn’t think.

You could see every inch of her beautiful face. The blueness of her eyes, the soft smoothness of her skin, even down to the light pinkness of her lips. You started to hear the steady beat of your own heart, thrumming away in your ears. You were encased in the warmth of her body and overwhelmed by the scent of her.

Why now?

You were fine. You were just fine until she had to come along with those eyes and that smile. You told yourself it was an innocent crush. You told yourself that maybe if you waited, your feelings would go away. But the more you looked at her, the more she stole your breath away and it became harder to deny the way she made you feel. It was hard to pretend that being near her didn’t made your heart race, even harder to pretend she wasn’t the most alluring woman you had ever seen.

Then she would do these amazing things for you and now your heart was irrevocably and inextricably involved.

You were here before. You recalled how you stared down at those very lips, tempted to know the way they tasted. It would be so easy too. To dip your head low and to finally found out what kissing her would feel like. As your hands were resting on her waist, all you wanted was to pull her closer and keep her there.

Things weren’t supposed to be this way.

Why her?

“We should get going. I’m itching for a bath.” Kara said nervously as she pulled away from you. You instantly missed the physical contact.

“Yeah, sure.” You replied weakly.

When did this start? When did Kara become so attractive you could scarcely think? Just seeing her smile made your day and just the sound of her voice sent your stomach reeling.

This didn’t just happen overnight so when?

“What are you standing around for. Let’s go.” Kara called out with this dazzling smile.

Jesus Christ. Dazzling smile? It was just her normal smile for crying out loud. What the hell was wrong with you?

You quickly grabbed your stuff and slung your duffel bag over your shoulder. “Coming.”

“Oh. Don’t forget your jacket, since you hate the cold and all.” Kara pointed out.

When you struggled to wear your coat since your hands were full, Kara walked right up to you and helped you and your heart raced faster when she drew near.

Kara smiled. “You’re all set now. Let’s go already.”

You followed her all the way home like a lost lamb. Even when you both got home, you were conflicted. You wound up tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. You couldn’t bring yourself to drift off.

Not in a room that smelled too much like her.

Chapter Text

Lena

It was the middle of the night and while you couldn’t sleep, you felt more relaxed than you’d ever been in ages. Between your physical therapy and all the strengthening training you’ve been going through, the past few months have been physically and mentally stressful. Your body had gone soft in the the months you weren’t training. You never really had a break before and it was easier to start back when you were younger.

But since it was December and Christmas did happen a day ago, everyone was on a break. It was much deserved rest and relaxation. You weren’t really one for the holidays but this was the first time you spent Christmas away from your own family. While your family wasn’t the warmest, you did miss them from time to time.

Lex was always full of shit every year and Christmas was the one time of the year when you could tolerate your mother. Lillian Luthor was one of those people whom you had to take in small doses.

That was why spending Christmas Eve with the Danvers family was so... different, in a good way. They were so warm and they loved so openly. Eliza made you feel welcome and you only met her once before. As soon as the door opened, she hugged you too along with everyone else.

Christmases at the Luthors was usually a very cold affair. Your house was usually so big, empty, and sparsely decorated. The Christmas tree usually looked like the ones you saw in department stores because your mother would hire someone do them. Even dinner was fully catered. It felt too impersonal.

With the Danvers, everything was homemade and you felt wanted. Unfortunately the one who made the eggnog also made it extra boozey— you had your suspicions who made it— and everyone didn’t last very long. By the time midnight came around, everyone was pretty drunk.

It was all too easy to remember how dumb you all probably looked. It was like the blind leading the blind. In your state of inebriation, you had to bring Kara to her old room in order to tuck her into bed.

“Come on Kara, please don’t drag your feet.” You begged her.

You were literally the only thing keeping her up. Her arm was slung around you while you supported her with an arm around her hip. She could be so damn heavy when she wanted to be.

At this point, Kara was knocked out and barely there. When her body was literally pressed against you, you mostly smelled the brandy from the eggnog on her breath. But you also smelled that familiar scent that was Kara Danvers and you simply sighed. How did you get here? Just the scent of her made your chest tight.

After a great deal of effort, you managed to get her into bed and pulled the blankets over her. Once she settled down, Kara looked so peaceful. For a while, you simply sat at her bedside and without meaning to, you hand drifted to her head and you lightly stroked her hair.

This was terribly inconvenient, you thought.

Ever since Thanksgiving, you’d been noticing her too much. More than once did you allow your eyes to roam her strong body for which you felt ashamed. You saw her face everyday but suddenly you could barely look at her because you were scared of staring. You loved watching her eyes. You used to think that she got under your skin before because you didn’t like her. Now, those blue eyes were all you could think about it.

You were reduced to this.

“Hey there.”

You withdrew your hand in a fit of panic and looked to the door. Eliza was standing there, watching you.

“I just helped Maggie put Alex to bed, I was wondering if you needed help.” Eliza said. If she saw anything, her face didn’t betray her.

“Olympians have to be good for something.” You joked.

Eliza nodded slowly as she walked into the room. When she didn’t say anything for a while, you felt anxious.

“Lena, forgive me if I’m being forward but may I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”

“Do you like my daughter?”

Your heart started to race and you felt nervous. “Sure, she’s a great friend.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

You sighed and stared down at Kara’s sleeping face. The sight her of easily made your heart swell. “It’s complicated.”

Eliza didn’t buy it for one second but that was all you were willing to say. You still didn’t know if you feelings for Kara were here to stay. For all you knew, this could easily be a passing attraction. A product of all those intense talks and newfound companionship.

But again, that was a day ago. It was in the past now.

Right now, you couldn’t sleep and rummaged through the leftovers for some late night food. The good thing about sleeping in the living room meant you had full access to the kitchen and the TV.

You immediately found the left over lasagna from Christmas. You took out a small portion and popped it into the microwave. While waiting, you grabbed a Stella from the fridge. You were still technically on vacation, drinking should be okay.

With your late night snack and drink, you climbed onto the sofa and started going through the movies and shows, looking for something to watch.

“Why are you still up?”

You turned around and found Kara just standing there. Her pajamas were ruffled and her hair was sticking out in all directions. She looked adorable.

“Couldn’t sleep. You?”

Kara frowned. “Had a weird dream.”

That immediately concerned you and you abandoned your lasagna. You nearly stumbled over the couch trying to get to her. When you got to her you immediately placed your hands on her shoulders. She flinched slightly upon contact. “You okay?”

She still looked unsure of herself. Clearly she had just woken up because she seemed disoriented. “It was so vivid.”

“Do you want to sit down first?”

Kara nodded slowly. You led her to the couch while you went to the kitchen to grab her a cup of tea. By the time you got back to her, she seemed more awake now.

“Thank you.” She said as she took the tea off your hands.

Kara took a few sips as she just kept staring at the table. You rested your head against the couch. “So what was it about?”

Kara’s eyes widened all the tea nearly came right out of her mouth. She swallowed it instead but failed to factor how hot the tea was. Her eyes watered and she started coughing.

That wasn’t weird at all.

“Are you sure you’re fine? We can talk about something else.” You offered.

“That would be preferable.” She wheezed.

Now you were curious. Just what did she dream about exactly? She was clearly shaken up over it.

 


 

Kara

Holy crap.

You absolutely could not tell Lena about the dream.

You tried to focus on the warmth of the cup in your hand, tried to steady your nerves but you failed. The dream felt so real and you woke up sweaty and hot... amongst other things.

You were thankful when Lena decided to drop her line of questioning. Instead, she went for the remote and continued looking for something interesting to watch.

Your eyes drifted towards her face and you couldn’t help but study her. The lighting was highlighting her sharp angular features, drawing your attention to her attractive jawline. Her skin was just so smooth and flawless, like porcelain but you knew that she would probably feel soft under your fingertips.

As soft as you dreamt them to be.

God, what the hell was wrong with you? Why were you dreaming about Lena Luthor?

Why were you dreaming about that?

You were afraid to close your eyes. That maybe if you closed them, your mind would drift back to your dream and Lena would know. Lena would sense that something was amiss and you definitely didn’t want her to find out.

Your hands clutched your cup tighter. The dream kept playing in your mind like a vivid memory. The things you felt, the things you tasted, the things you smelled, they all felt so real.

Then your eyes fell upon her lips and you couldn’t stand it anymore. If you stopped yourself from thinking about it, you might just blow up trying to keep it in.

How do you go on pretending that you didn’t just have a very vivid dream about your very attractive roommate? Even now that you were awake and lucid, you could feel the imprints she made on your skin. You could feel the places where she touched you. Your lips still tingled and your body was feverish.

You bit your lip and resisted what your body wanted with a quiet desperation.

Because right now, all you wanted to do was to lean over and kiss her. To kiss the beautiful passionate woman you couldn’t seem to stop thinking about. To see if she tasted exactly like she did in your dream.

When Lena leaned over to grab her beer and take a swig from it, she looked so attractive you wanted to combust. Everything she did was just so alluring.

Damn it, now you couldn’t un-think. Your stupid dream had managed to uncover the things you tried so hard to hide. The feelings you pretended not to feel. Denial was a powerful force when you wanted to so badly believe in something far from the truth.

Now even your own subconscious was telling you that you wanted her. That the weird things you were feeling lately were the furthest thing from platonic.

She finally caught you staring at her and raised an eyebrow. “Did you want to watch something?” She asked.

“No, your choice.” You replied, hiding behind your cup.

“Okay.” Lena drew out the vowels.

As expected, Lena mostly went over the science fiction titles. She seemed to just love the idea of playing with science to create these fantastical worlds. Recently, Winn had been trying to get her to watch Doctor Who but she hadn’t quite gotten to it.

Eventually, Lena settled on that movie with Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise. You saw the trailers and thought it was cool but you’d never seen the movie before.

Also Emily Blunt was always a total bonus. You’ve had a thing for her since The Devil Wears Prada.

When the movie played out, you both watched in silence but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It was easy. You weren’t sure how that worked out because you were the type to fill the silences, you didn’t like them. But with Lena, it felt like getting under your blanket on a chilly day. Knowing she was near comforted you.

“Oh, so it’s Starship Troopers mixed in with Saving Private Ryan.” Lena stated amusedly.

“Yeah, I don’t know what that means.” You replied.

Lena chuckled to herself. “Just how much Netflix have I been watching?”

Kara shrugged. “Cut yourself some slack for finally joining the world beyond fencing.”

Lena’s eyes lit up when she finally saw Emily Blunt. “I’m a shallow person. I love sci-fi but I also saw her name and clicked on the movie immediately.”

That made you laugh. “It just means you’re human. I would have done the same.”

Lena regarded you with interest and she suddenly paused the movie. She turned to face you and you felt nervous. The dream was still raw your mind and the last thing you needed was Lena being her attractive self.

“I’ve always wondered about this... when did you know you were different?”

“I don’t follow.”

Lena cleared her throat. “When did you know you liked girls?”

“Oh.”

“Sorry, am I being too forward?”

You shook your head. “No it’s okay. I don’t really date so I’ve never been asked that question before.”

You placed the empty cup on the nearby side table before pulling your feet up on the couch, your knees touching your chest. “I’m sure you’ll relate but I’ve always been a focused athlete, these were things I never really thought about. To make matters all the more confusing for me, I was and am genuinely attracted to men. But on the other hand, I thought that girls were really pretty.”

Lena grinned. “I get it. Except for the being attracted to men part.”

“So admittedly I wasn’t a complete nobody in high school. If I wasn’t so focused on fencing, I might have become popular. In the very least, I was friends with the popular crowd.” Then you paused for a moment to gather your thought.

“Some boy from the football team asked me out to the dance and you know how dances are everything in high school. Of course I went with him, I was craving for some normalcy. I was training for competitions at the time, my schedule wasn’t normal anymore.”

You started to casually play with your fingers. “Like all well meaning jocks, he abandoned me for some hotter piece of ass. It was predictable but I was sixteen at the time and I was devastated.”

Lena was staring at you intently and while you liked the attention, your mind kept drifting back to dream Lena’s darkened eyes. You sucked in a shaken breath and continued. “So I went to the bathroom, trying not to cry because Alex helped me with my makeup and I didn’t want to ruin it.”

“What happened next?” Lena asked in a low voice.

“Maddie Hernandez showed up.” You said with a smile. “She was a cheerleader, but one of the more quiet intellectual ones. She was different. All the other cheerleaders were shallow and basic but Maddie had this intelligence and thoughtfulness to her. I had always been intrigued with her, I just didn’t know why until that night.”

“So she comes out of one of the bathroom stalls and she’s just so damn beautiful in her dress. When she sees that I’m upset, the first thing she does is lock the bathroom door. Then she starts asking me if the boys did something to me. She was so angry and it felt nice to know someone cared about me enough to be angry.”

“So for a while we just talked and in those fifteen minutes, I felt so wanted. We were just sitting on the countertop, near the sinks and we just started inching towards each other. Then she kisses me and wow. Girls were just different and it clicked for me. I liked kissing girls too.”

Lena looked so interested in your story. “So did anything happen between you and Maddie Hernandez after that?”

You merely smiled. “We were friends for a time. But she got too busy with cheerleading and I was busy with fencing. Sometimes we would sneak away just to make out but we never got anywhere. Come graduation, we just wished each other good luck.”

Lena whistled at you. “You got lucky. Your experience was a pleasant one.”

“Maybe. What about you?”

She grabbed her beer first and took a few swigs. “I’ve always known since I was a kid that I wasn’t like other girls. It was weird for me because I wasn’t a tomboy or anything. I still liked my dresses and my dolls. It just so happened that when I grew up, I wanted to marry Hannah from the park, you know?”

You giggled at the idea of a tiny Lena, prancing about in her adorable blue dress and declaring that she wanted to marry this Hannah.

“So imagine that I’m fourteen and all I ever think about is Fencing, then this new girl shows up to Fencing class. I didn’t pay attention to her at first because why would I? But then Corben tells me I should help her out, help her learn the ropes.”

Then Lena had this soft smile on her face. This was clearly a good memory. “Her name was Kate Lewinski and she was kind of dismissive at first. She didn’t like that I was helping her out... a real lone wolf that one. I was fourteen and my hormones were all over the place plus she was pretty hot, I immediately had a crush on her.”

“I used to find all sorts of excuses just to hang out with her or to...” then Lena made air quotations. “Help her with Fencing.”

“I was just happy crushing on her from afar. Eventually, we sort of become friends? It was all very confusing. She was a hot and cold person. But we were hanging out in my house one time, no one was home. We were in my room and we were talking... then stuff happened.”

“Before I knew it, we were making out on my bed and it was amazing to fourteen year old me. It was like this huge confirmation to some big thing I’ve always known about. Kissing a girl for the first time felt like a revelation.”

You leaned forward, this was riveting stuff. “Then what happened?”

Lena scowled. “My mother came home early. She walked in on us, threw Kate out of the house and exploded at me. I was being grounded and threatened with one of those gay conversion camps. It was terrifying for me at the time, I was only fourteen after all. Looking back now, I could tell my mom was just having a knee jerk reaction. She’s not usually so extreme.”

“My mom’s very conservative. She’s the type to go vote Republican and absolutely hates the fact that both her children are flaming Liberals. It took a lot of work and convincing to get her to finally understand that being gay wasn’t my choice. She’s kind of okay with it now... she tries her best. She sets me up with men because she’s still holding out on the off chance that I might have one of those perfect traditional families.” She explained.

“With the white picket fence and the two-point-five kids?” You supplied.

“Exactly like that. If it weren’t for my father and Lex, she might’ve outright disowned me by now. Lillian Luthor is a complicated woman.”

You fixed your mouth into a firm line, hearing what happened was awful. You couldn’t imagine the same thing happening to you at the age of fourteen. It would have been too much. “I’ve never really heard you talk about your family, come to think of it.”

Lena shrugged nonchalantly. “We’re messy and complicated. I can’t say it’ll make for good conversation. I don’t go around telling people: hey, want to hear about my messed up family and my lingering mommy issues?

“Well... I’d love to get to know more about you.” You blurted out.

Lena just sat there quietly, clearly in deep thought. Finally, she got up from the couch and walked over to the wall and turned on the kitchen lights.

“It’s a lot but if you’re up for it then you’re going to need wine.” She declared.

“Oh, do grab the nachos and the cheese dip while you’re there.” You grinned.

Lena sighed before giving you this soft smile that melted your insides. “Yes, ma’am.”

 


 

Lena

You both transferred from the couch to the kitchen island countertop where you ate your meals.

Kara had a glass of wine and you decided to finish your beer first before making the jump to something classier. For a while Kara just stood there on the other side of the counter, chewing on nachos like a hamster and double-dipping to oblivion. Not that you minded but her cheese to nacho ratio was severely unbalanced. The woman had more cheese she could ever need per nacho.

Once you were settled, Kara was all ears.

“My family is very traditional. Admittedly, I do come from money and my family is pretty influential. The Luthors come from old money to be specific so you can easily guess the sort of people we mingled with.”

Kara nodded. “Rich white people?”

“More or less. We’re very stereotypical. We make donations to Republican parties, show up to fancy dinners in support of corrupt politicians, the works. But despite the red flags, my father was a decent man.”

Kara’s face fell when she noticed you used past tense.

“He was more neutral and less prone to judgement. He had conservative values but he was open-minded. It’s just that old money connections were hard to shake and he needed those connections. Lionel Luthor was a good man and a good father... I think my mother’s a little spiteful about the fact that I loved him more than I love her.”

Then you finished your beer in one go, hoping that it might give you some courage. You hadn’t talked about your father in years. Kara slid you a wine glass and poured generously, you were thankful.

“Then my father passed away. I was nineteen and I just won my first world championship. He was so proud of me. He always supported me in everything I did and never forced me to be someone else. I miss him everyday.” You managed to get out even though your chest twisted painfully.

“How did he die?” Kara asked carefully.

“Aneurism. It’s funny isn’t it? People could be healthy, exercise, eat the right things, and yet somehow get aneurisms out of nowhere? My father was the best thing about my life and he was taken away from me.”

You drank a huge portion of your wine and mulled over it for a while. This just reminded you how much you missed him.

“I was inconsolable afterwards... not even my brother could get to me. Now that I’m older, it’s easy to see how I was being unfair to Lex. He was grieving too but he was stronger than I was. He dealt with it and I didn’t. I wound up burying myself in Fencing... it didn’t take too long before I was obsessed with my career. Everything had to be perfect because if I didn’t, my life would be meaningless.”

You grabbed nacho and scooped up a reasonable amount of cheese. “I became the best but not for the right reasons. I was driven but there was no soul to my Fencing. I was a machine.” Then you shoved the whole thing into your mouth.

“You know... when I met you, I was still in a bad place. I learned to cope with it but I never really left it. I resented you because... maybe the reason why you got under my skin was because you genuinely loved Fencing and at the time, I didn’t. Maybe I was jealous of you because the sport had become a prison for me.”

Finally, you allowed yourself to smile. “But you challenged me. Your very existence stood in defiance to everything I held to be true. I was changing slowly, I just didn’t realize it. Getting injured was the best thing to ever happen to me... it gave me perspective and...”

You sheepishly looked Kara in the eye. “It gave me you. You reminded me about why I became a fencer in the first place. You reminded me of how much I love this dumb sport so thank you.”

Boldly, you placed your hand on top of hers and she stilled beneath your touch. The feel of her heated skin sent strange ripples throughout your body. “I was drowning and you saved me.”

You inhaled deeply. “You have no idea how much that means to me.”

The air crackled with static and electricity. Tingles ran through your spine and you were wading through so much emotion, you could scarcely breathe. This was the most honest you’d ever been with anyone in your life. Now that your feelings were laid bare, you felt raw and vulnerable. But with her, it felt right. You didn’t feel exposed, you felt wanted.

So many emotions were flashing across Kara’s face. Her lips were parted and she seemed flushed, no doubt from all that wine. For a moment, the two of you just stared at each other. Relishing in this rare moment of genuine human connection.

But there was something in the quiet strength of Kara’s ocean blue eyes, a glimmer of something you recognized.

The revelation slammed into you like a train and your brain ceased to function.

It couldn’t be, could it?

But why would she...?

You watched Kara licked her lips as the intensity of her gaze bore into you. No, you weren’t just imagining things. This wasn’t just wishful thinking. This was real and tangible.

And god you wanted it. You wanted her.

“Kara, I—“

She suddenly moved her hand away from yours and she looked shaken up. Her breathing was labored and she was deliberately avoiding your gaze. When you looked at her hand, she was trembling.

Kara quickly put away her dirty dish and empty wine glass into the sink before trying to flee in a panic. When she passed by you in haste, you caught a whiff of her scent. She still smelled like fresh strawberries and your heart ached. Why was she behaving this way?

Just when your heart was about to sink, Kara returned briefly. She just stood there behind you, you could feel the heat radiating from her body as well as the nervous energy coming from her in spades.

Without warning, she wrapped her arms around you and your heart stopped completely. Her warmth enveloped you and you had the sudden urge to cry. You gripped her arms with needy desperation and both of you just stayed that way for a moment. You were listening to the steady rhythm of her breathing, relishing in her closeness.

“I’m sorry about your father, Lena.” Kara whispered.

You could only nod.

When Kara withdrew her arms, you immediately missed her warmth. Just when you thought she was fully committed to returning to her room, you felt her hand gently grasp your shoulder. She leaned down, her breath grazing your ear and you could feel the goosebumps surfacing across the entire expanse of your skin.

Then she pressed her lips against your cheek and your lungs failed you. You became breathless, the only thing you could feel was the soft wetness of her lips pressing against your skin. You wanted to turn your head, to know what those very lips would feel like against yours.

But Kara was gone before you could react and she wasn’t coming back this time.

You just sat there dumbfounded, your hand was cupping the cheek. As if you were trying to preserve the sensation of her lips against your skin.

Your feelings for her ran far deeper than you initially thought.

Oh, you were in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

Kara

This was all your fault.

You made things weird and since you and Lena were non-confrontational creatures by nature, it remained that way. It was February now. You both allowed the awkwardness to continue for more than a month and it was starting to get ridiculous.

You missed her. You missed Lena and her sparkling laughter and sarcastic wit. You missed watching her eyes crinkle whenever she smiled and you generally just missed her company.

Now more than ever, your schedules were out of sync. It was like this last year because the Center made your schedules. This time, the dissonance was deliberate. It was extremely clear to anyone who knew you both that you and Lena were avoiding each other.

Alex and Maggie had tried to pry the truth out of you more than once and you didn’t blame them for being concerned, but you didn’t want to deal with it. Nor did Lena for that matter.

But the fact that you allowed this to go on for so long was distressing. The woman was practically your best friend and you hated this distance. She lived ten feet away from you but she seemed so far away.

Damn it, why did you have to go kiss her on the cheek? Why did you have to overstep? Boundaries existed for a reason.

Of course, you could lie to yourself all you want. Pretend it was innocent. But you knew the truth and it was simple. It wasn’t even about the weirdly inappropriate dream you had about Lena that night. It was about her baring her soul to you, trusting you enough to be honest with you. She took your breath away and your heart along with it.

You could no longer pretend that Lena was just a friend to you when she was so much more. More than you could ever describe.

“I was drowning and you saved me.” she said.

Goddamn it, Lena. You saved me first, was what you wanted to say to her.

Right now, you were roaming the hallways of the Center aimlessly. Hank had given you a ten minute break saying that you were far into your own head. He was giving you space to sort things out first. For all intents and purposes, Hank was right. You were really out of it and you had to get your head back into the game. Now wasn’t the time to be slacking off thinking about the dreamy women who refused to speak to you.

Well... one woman in particular but semantics.

“So should I?”

You immediately recognized Sam’s voice as you walked by one of the first floor gyms. You decided to drop by first but you stopped in your tracks when Imra, who was also in the room, replied to Sam.

“As far as I know, she’s very single but she’s also very moody and brooding. I didn’t realize Lena was your type.” Imra snickered.

You hid behind the lat pulldown machine and eavesdropped. It was only your own healthy curiosity at work here.

“But she can also be very sweet and she’s pretty amazing with Ruby. I’m just saying, I’ve been thinking about it.” Sam replied and she sounded excited.

“Why don’t we ask Kara since she’s doing such an awful job trying to hide.” Imra said aloud.

Whoops, busted.

You came out with your hands up in surrender, your head hung low and you pretended to be ashamed of your eavesdropping. Imra and Sam regarded you with smiles.

“So how is your temperamental roommate?” Imra asked with great interest.

You laughed nervously. “Lena has on days and off days. It’s been off days for weeks now and I don’t pretend to know how the woman functions.”

Imra tilted her head to the side and stared at you intently. “I don’t know about that. You seem to be the only person around her who speaks Lena.” Then she suddenly turned to Sam. “You should ask Kara about your little conundrum.”

Sam was clearly flustered and started fiddling with her fingers. “Ask her what?”

Imra rolled her eyes dramatically. “Kara’s been eavesdropping, it’s safe to say she knows.”

Sam looked visibly nervous which was a rare sight. She was always so cool and collected. What made her so efficient at her job was that she was a calming person by nature. At the end of a long gym session, most people wound up feeling good about themselves because of her.

“What Sam means to say is that she’s got a little crush on Lena Luthor.” Imra filled you in.

You sighed internally. Honestly who didn’t? She was fantastic.

Sam looked embarrassed. “My daughter’s been bugging me to start dating again, don’t take this too seriously. It’s not exactly a crush.”

“Well I’ll tell you now, Lena has made it pretty clear that she doesn’t date.” You stated and it was the truth after all. She said it all the time.

You weren’t trying to get Sam to back off or anything like that. You weren’t that kind of person. Just because you had crazy non-platonic feelings for Lena didn’t mean she belonged to you. That would be ridiculous.

“Still, it’s worth a try innit?” Imra asked.

“True, you could give it a shot.” You agreed half-heartedly. “Lena doesn’t date, but she’s not blind.”

Imra took this as a good sign. “So there’s hope after all.”

You didn’t like the way you felt right now. You hated the awful twisting in your gut and the nausea that went with it. Lena wasn’t a possession nor an object. She didn’t belong to anyone. But the thought of her looking at someone else with those eyes made you feel sick.

You weren’t this person.

You weren’t selfish.

Lena could be with whoever she wanted to be with for all you cared.

But perhaps this was what you needed. You’d been torturing yourself over Lena but maybe you didn’t need to. If Lena had someone else, you could finally go back to living the way you used to before she walked into your life and turned you into this hot mess.

Maybe you only wanted her this badly because you couldn’t have her.

This could be good for you. If you could remove the hope for more, you’d stop wanting her. You’d stop dreaming of her and hoping she’d feel the same way about you. If you could do that, maybe you’d be able to breathe again.

“How about I be your inside man? I could find out if you’ve got a shot with her.” You told Sam with steady voice but your heart was anything but steady.

Sam’s eyes lit up and she beamed. “You’d do that for me?”

You forced a smile. “Of course. I’d love to see her happy and if you can do that then I’d be grateful. She’s my friend and I care about her.”

“You’re the best, Kara.” Sam grinned.

You sure as hell didn’t feel like the best right now but this was the right thing to do. Having feelings for Lena was only going to hurt you in the long run. And besides, Samantha Arias was a good person and she’d be good for Lena.

Considering how awkward things have been between you two, Lena had made it clear with her actions that you freaked her out. You made a mistake and this was how you were going to fix it.

You’d give anything for things to go back to normal.

 


 

Kara

You were fully aware that Lena spent a lot of time at Winn’s place before she would officially return. For the longest time, you allowed it because you didn’t want to face her. Right now, you didn’t have much of a choice and actually made an effort to wait for her to come back.

And besides, Lena had to talk to you if you were sitting on the couch. The couch was her bed after all. If she wanted to sleep, she would have to go through you.

True enough, it took half a movie for Lena to finally come home.

The moment she saw you on the couch, she suddenly looked like pre-rehab Lena. The very same Lena who glared at you when she wasn’t busy sneering. The one who wanted nothing to do with you. Seeing her like this made your blood run cold.

So much for progress, you thought.

“You’re early.” Lena stated matter-of-factly.

“Today’s my slow day.” It was the truth. This was the one day of the week where your training was lighter. Exhaustion was public enemy number one for an Olympian in training.

Without another word, Lena just went on and did her own thing. With the way she walked around the place, it was as if you didn’t exist. Though then again, the living room was technically her room. You were the one intruding, so to speak.

You had to be careful. If you made her too angry, you’d be cut off from your own kitchen and TV. Not ideal.

“Have you eaten?” You asked aloud.

She must’ve been hungry because she was fishing around the fridge for leftovers. Still, she didn’t turn to look at you. “Not yet.”

“Me neither, should we just order some food?”

Lena closed the fridge and contemplated. Ordering food meant speaking to you or at least, eating with you. You could tell from her face that she was too hungry to say no to hot food.

“Chinese?” Lena finally replied.

“Any requests?”

She answered a little too quickly. “Sweet and sour pork and those shrimp dumpling things.”

“Okay.” You said as you got up from the couch and started grabbing your jacket and your keys. There was a Chinese restaurant just three blocks away. “Do you want to tag along?”

Lena shook her head. She didn’t seem as guarded as she was five minutes ago but she still unreadable. “I think I’ll take a shower first, if you don’t mind?”

“Of course.”

By the time you were outside, the heavy weight disappeared from your shoulders. The situation between you and Lena was so awkward. Why did you let it get this bad?

But you knew why. It was because the day after you kissed her on the cheek, Lena pretended that nothing had happened. You woke up to a stranger. The warm Lena you shared an intimate evening with was replaced with this cold person who tiptoed around you as if you weren’t friends.

She hurt you. It was only human nature to avoid the thing causing you pain and that’s exactly what you did.

Honestly, you wish she could just be straight with you. If she didn’t feel the same way, she should just tell you instead of letting your flounder about like a fool. You were a big girl and you could learn to forget about it.

Why couldn’t she just be honest with you?

Even if it was just for a little, you slowed your steps and took your time walking. You were still a little too scared to go back in there.

 


 

Lena

The hot water was supposed to calm you but you felt anything but calm. You spent a good chunk of your time in the shower just standing there and letting the water run while your heart was straining to beat in your chest. The water on your skin was hot, leaving marks wherever it hit but your veins ran cold.

Why now?

You screwed your eyes shut and focused on the sensation of the water prickling against your skin.

Kara was finally speaking to you after more than a month of awkward silence.

The moment you heard her addressing you as if you were a person and not a stranger, you immediately felt some unnamed force pulling you to her. Deep down inside, you were glad but Kara did hurt you. You didn’t want to just outright forgive her just because her smile melted all your defenses.

But you remembered what happened after that night. After you bared your soul and made yourself vulnerable to her, she ran away from you. Sure, she did hug you and kiss your cheek but all of those things could have been platonic.

In fact, Kara herself said that they were.

When she noticed that you’d been quiet the next day, she clarified it herself that it was a friendly gesture. Claimed that you looked like you needed a hug.

You were only so quiet that day because you were trying to gauge her reaction. You saw something that night. Something Kara was trying to bury within her. If anyone wasn’t being honest here, it was her. You would be more than happy to proclaim that what you felt for her was anything but friendly.

Even now, amidst the awkwardness, you wanted nothing more than to be near her.

It was an understatement to say that you missed her.

In fact, you missed her so badly you were willing to just forget this whole charade and go back to how things used to be.

Kara was back by the time you stepped off the shower, dried yourself up, and dressed yourself. The Chinese place you got takeout from was a good three blocks away and they took thirty minutes prep your orders. You must’ve been in the shower forever.

You were dressed in one of your rattier t-shirts and comfy boxer shorts. When you started rooming with Kara, you were still a little self-conscious about living with another human being so you wore respectable pajamas and whatnot. Apart from running around naked, you were comfortable wearing whatever you wanted around her.

Kara was grabbing plates while the Chinese takeout boxes were waiting for human consumption on the kitchen island counter. Immediately, you started helping her unpack the food and for a while, things felt normal again. It felt like just another Thursday night.

“Can you grab me some juice?” You asked her since she was nearest to the fridge.

Kara immediately grabbed you a small bottle of apple juice without even asking you which one you wanted. Even in the weirdness, she still knew you pretty well.

What made this all the more frustrating was just because the two of you weren’t on speaking terms didn’t mean that all was forgotten. Nothing could erase what you’ve both been through.

Still, did this mean that Kara was finally ready to talk?

You both ate quietly at first. The only sounds reverberating throughout the place was chopsticks hitting plates. Every once in a while, Kara would nervously look at you before going back to focus on her food. She definitely wanted to talk, or at least ask you something.

Well, you might as well be the brave one. You had nothing to lose.

“So how was your day?” You asked her.

God, she was like an open book because her face brightened up. She seemed glad that you decided to do the talking. “The usual, how’s yours?”

“The sparring’s still slow but we’re getting somewhere.” You replied casually.

Kara had a small smile on her face. “I hope you’re not intimidating your sparring mates too much, it’s a lot having to go up against you. Even if it’s just for practice.”

“You make it sound like I’m bullying them.”

“Are you?”

The corners of your mouth lifted. “Maybe.”

Okay, things were starting to get familiar again. Things were going to be okay.

“So how are you getting on with Sam?”

Or not. Was Kara even interested in talking or was she finding an excuse to skip the actual communicating and go straight to the back-to-normal part?

And besides, if Kara’s actions were really one hundred percent platonic and she had zero interest in you, couldn’t she at least let you down easy? You could take it as long as she was honest with you.

“Her training regiment was absolute torture the first two months but I’ve gotten used to it. Have to admit that she makes the gym feel easier.” You replied.

“She’s not working you too hard?” Kara inquired further as she latched on to a dumpling.

“Nothing I can’t handle. But she’s been pretty great so far. It’s easier to do the work when you like the trainer.”

You used to have this one trainer in Metropolis, he came highly recommended at this fancy gym. Turned out to be a real asshole who belittled your sport and your gender in one fell swoop. You had him for a month and you dreaded going to the gym everyday.

So yes, thank god for Sam.

“Well that’s nice.” Was all Kara could say.

This was weird and not in the awkward way. Kara was up to something, you could sense it. After living with her for a while, you learned how to read her pretty well.

“Why do you ask?”

“Nothing.”

That’s the response of someone with something to hide. “Kara.”

Kara immediately avoided your gaze and was happy enough to keep looking down at her pork and dumplings. “It’s just something I overheard today.”

“What is it?”

“Its just that...” Kara started to say carefully as you watched her shuffle uncomfortably in her seat like a suspicious person. “I heard some interesting things.”

“About what?”

“About Sam.”

“And?”

“Sam likes you.”

You fixed your mouth into a firm line and simply glowered at her. “This concerns me how?”

Kara clearly looked displeased and she stopped eating altogether. “Do you have to be so mean about it?”

You crossed your arms. “I’m not being mean about it, I just don’t understand why I should care.”

“Don’t you think it’s nice you have options?”

“And since when did you care about my options?” You snarled.

“I don’t know! Maybe it’s because a beautiful woman wants to date your ornery ass and I just want to see you happy for once.”

You gritted your teeth. Just where was this coming from? You’ve never known Kara to be this hostile or aggressive. Kara didn’t have a mean bone in her body so why was she acting so difficult?

Your hand clenched into a fist and you immediately lost your appetite. “Oh. So now you care about how I feel.”

“Of course I care, I’m your friend.” Kara replied with conviction.

You got up from the stool and started pacing around the room, you could feel Kara watching you intensely. “You didn’t care that night, apparently.”

“Lena, you know I did.” She defended herself.

Nothing could stop a month’s worth of pain from rushing back. You spent a lot of time and effort keeping it in but now you were feeling it all at once. Damn it. Why did your stupid brain decided that you still wanted her in spite everything. Why her?

“Then why aren’t you talking to me?”

Your own voice felt weak and it sounded so small. Instead of being emboldened by anger, you were crushed beneath it. It all boiled down to the fact that the two of you had been strangers for too long and you wanted her back. You missed her desperately and that eclipsed your own feelings of anger.

Kara’s face fell and she also appeared to be at the brink of tears. She was always the more emotional one.

“You just don’t get it. You never seem to.” You accused her.

When Kara said nothing, you continued. “Do you think I enjoy this? Do you think that I’m so self righteous that I feel you deserve the cold shoulder? I hate this. I hate everything about this. I don’t even know why we’re fighting or if we are actually fighting because no one’s talking to each other.”

“Kara, you’re the one person I always want to talk to. Please don’t take that away from me.”

The air in the room was taut, so much in fact that you could cut the tension with a knife. Kara was just watching you for the longest time, all sorts of emotions were flashing across her face. She was still processing this but you weren’t sure if you were willing to give her the time after you made yourself vulnerable again. You just wanted to leave and get some space.

“You make it sound as if all this is deliberate. I promise you, it’s not.” Kara finally said, her voice was calm but there was this fury in her eyes.

“I’m sorry if the radio silence is hurting you but need I remind you that you stopped talking first.” Her voice was cold.

As if she could make things any more difficult. Why was she acting this way? You were the one hurting.

“All this because of that night. Why are we fighting Lena? I genuinely don’t know.” Kara asked through gritted teeth.

“I don’t know Kara. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been that vulnerable with anyone else in my entire life and I chose to be that vulnerable with you. Then you just threw it back in my face and pretended like it was nothing.” You spat.

Kara stood up from her stool and rounded the counter. She started walking up to you slowly and which each step, you could feel your heart straining even harder inside your chest. “No. That’s not it. That’s now what I intended.” She argued.

“Because that’s what it feels like.”

Kara ran a frustrated hand through her gorgeous hair. “I feel that too, okay? You’re not the only one hurting here.”

Nothing had changed. You could sense that there was something Kara was holding back, something she was keeping from you. But you didn’t have the right to demand for her honesty when you weren’t being honest yourself.

It was clear now that both of you were reacting the same way but that begs the question, why?

“Look, I’m not a mind reader Lena. I know you better than most people but don’t expect me to know everything that goes on in that convoluted head of yours. If you want me to understand something, you have to say it because I’m getting tired of trying to guess what you want from me.”

What did you want from her?

You wanted her to tell you that you weren’t crazy. That wanting to kiss her everyday made sense. That what you were feeling for her wasn’t a mistake.

You couldn’t possibly tell her all of that. You didn’t want to lose her. With how everything was playing out so far since that night, you were even more scared to know.

If this was a glimpse of what it would be like to lose her, you would gladly keep your feelings to yourself forever if you had to. Kara was too important to you to risk it.

“The day after it happened... I wasn’t giving you the cold shoulder. I was just trying to see if I freaked you out because I unpacked a lot of things on you. I didn’t expect you to give me the silent treatment too.” You finally said, it was a half-truth.

Kara nodded slowly, but with that piercing gaze of hers, you weren’t sure if you could get away with it completely.

Then Kara seemed to relax a little, she crossed her arms and bit her lip nervously. “I didn’t know if you wanted the touchy feely stuff because I know you don’t normally like it. I also didn’t want to freak you out by doing things I don’t normally do with you... I was trying to gauge your reaction but I wasn’t expecting the silent treatment.”

Wait.

So this was all a huge misunderstanding?

Of all the stupid things to do. And supposedly, you were both smart independent women.

“Why were you so worried about the hugging? You’re Kara Danvers, you thrive on the touchy-feely stuff.” You asked her because that was the one part of her explanation that didn’t make sense.

Kara’s eyes widened a tiny fraction and she immediately closed up again. She looked conflicted. Eventually she chose to break eye contact, making you even more suspicious. “I plead the fifth.”

Then Kara removed herself from the situation by running away into her room, leaving you to just stand there like an idiot.

Pleading the fifth? But why on earth would she have to? What could possibly be so self-incriminating?

Then you glanced over to the counter top and found the remains of your dinner just sitting there. You sighed and started to clean up.

While it was freeing to finally discuss what exactly was going on, you were only left with more questions than answers. Guess it was going to another one of those sleepless nights for you.

 


 

Lena

“Hey Lena.”

You woke up to someone jabbing your sides repeatedly. Hard. You yanked the blanket off your head and found Kara staring down at you. In your sleep addled state, you were confused. For a brief moment, you thought you were dreaming. She was looking down at you with this strange look on her face.

You rubbed your bleary eyes and tried to focus. “What’s up? What are you doing?”

Her face was a little too close to yours come to think of it. If you were more awake, you’d be flustered. “I don’t like fighting with you. I can’t sleep.”

“What time is it?”

“Quarter to four in the morning.”

“Jesus.” You muttered under your breath.

Why did she have to go wake you up for this? It took you forever to finally get to sleep. When you finally got a good look at her, you realized she was kneeling.

“How long have you been here?”

“An hour give or take?”

You sighed as you lifted your blanket. “Don’t be an idiot and get in here.”

“Thank you, my knees were starting to get numb.” Kara replied as if she did this sort of thing all the time. She climbed into the sofa bed and wrapped herself up in your blanket like a burrito.

Now that you were slightly more awake, you realized that you had just invited Kara into your bed.

Well, shit.

You turned around to face her and lifted your head. “Okay so you were saying?”

Kara had this adorable pout on her face but she was still as gorgeous as ever. It didn’t help right now that you could feel the heat simply radiating from her body or the fact that she was so close you could smell fresh strawberries. It was only recently that you found out it was her lotion that made her smell that way.

“I don’t like fighting with you, Lena. This is stupid.”

You smiled softly. “It is kind of stupid.”

“Can we just forget about it? Start on a clean slate and hope things go back to normal?” She asked sincerely.

You wondered about that too. At this point, you missed her enough to agree to just about anything.

“I don’t want to fight with you too but...”

“But what?”

“This was big Kara. We can’t just jump over to the clean slate... it won’t be a clean slate. It’s not like erasing a chalkboard, it’ll be like painting over a wall. The stuff will still be there underneath.”

Kara had this grim expression. “But I don’t like the way we are now.”

The urge to pull her into your arms was overwhelming and it took all of your willpower not to do that.

“I know.” You replied in a soft voice.

Kara adjusted her position and rested her head on her curled up arm. “So what happens now?”

Good question.

You decided in that instant to give your heart a break. To cut yourself some slack. To maybe live for just a little, even if it was just for a second. The more you stared into her eyes, the more you felt emboldened.

You leaned forward slowly and planted a kiss on her forehead. Kara stilled beneath your kiss and neither of you were breathing.

Then when you pulled back, you smiled at her with all the affection your poor heart could muster. “What happens now is that we try to sleep. Whatever happens, happens. But I’m willing to go back to the way we were... just don’t pretend this all didn’t happen. We have to be better.”

Kara just nodded as she stared at you with a dumbfounded expression.

“I’m going to turn around now. Up to you if you want to share.” You told her.

When you did face the other way to try and get some shut eye, you realized after a good fifteen minutes that she didn’t leave. Soon enough, you both had succumbed to what your tired bodies demanded and sleep came quickly enough.

You hadn’t slept this well in a while.

You secretly hoped it was because Kara was sleeping right next to you. There was a rightness about this but for now, you’d settle for what you already had with her.

Come morning, you both were in a particularly problematic situation comprising of the entanglement of certain body parts. You woke up ahead of Kara and you were able to extricate yourself from her, thank god for that. But considering how the day before was pretty tough on the both of you, you both decided to call in sick and immediately went back to bed.

This time, when Kara draped her arm over you in her sleep, you let her.

Chapter Text

Lena

You’d been mulling over it for a few days now but it was there, staring you in the face and refusing to give you peace. It was ill timed and extremely inconvenient. You and Kara were fine now and things were back to the way they were. Well not completely but still. It was all patched up now.

You sighed aloud as you kept staring down at your phone, repeating the words in your head. Reading the email over and over again. There was a deadline to this and you couldn’t stall it any longer. This wasn’t something you could pass up after spending some time on the waiting list.

You groaned at your phone and tossed it aside once more. How would you break this to Kara? Right after things were back to normal and you two were okay again.

“Lena, break’s over. Get back over here and let’s keep at it.” Corben called you.

You walked back onto the strip while Corben donned his mask. “Your reaction time’s still slow, pick up the pace Lena.”

You didn’t have to reply for him to know you got it. Painful as it was to say it, he was spot on. This wasn’t your top form and even if your mind was just as sharp as ever, your body wasn’t. You’ve recently gotten your footwork to an acceptable level but your bladework needed tons of work.

That probably meant more strengthening workouts for your upper body and trying to get your sword arm to move just as fast as your brain made decisions.

Right now, Corben was simply going to get you to repeatedly parry-riposte him but on his timing. You had to maintain your distance from him at all costs. If he moved forward, you moved back. This exercise was going to start with a simple riposte from a parry-four and would repeat until Corben was satisfied.

He started moving backwards first, allowing you to regain your momentum and rhythm, much like sharpening a sword with whetstone. It was frustrating because your arm wasn’t quite keeping up. There was a distinct lag between you recognizing Corben was making an attack and you immediately going into a parry-four. At least the timing of your riposte was still on point.

Now that Corben felt comfortable, he was probably going to switch it up soon. True enough, he went for an overhead attack so you brought your arm up for a parry-five. Trying to catch you off guard, he moved his blade around yours and attempted to strike from below. You managed to move into a parry-two and immediately transitioned into a well timed riposte.

“Okay good, much better than earlier.” He stated.

“Not fast enough if you ask me.”

Corben made this grumpy huff. “All in good time. Don’t be impatient and trust in the process, alright?”

You were unconvinced.

“Look, you’re doing better than fine.” He tried to reassure you. Hard to take it from him when he always sounded like talking was a nuisance to him but you knew he meant it. “Now come on, En-Garde.”

This went on for another hour or so and by the end of the session, your arm was getting sore. You definitely had to work that out with Sam at the gym, you needed more speed and power. Eventually, Corben let you cool off before dragging you to another sparring session for practice.

You quietly transferred to the large fencing hall where all the sparring took place. When you got there, you found Lucy Lane, Winn Schott, and James Olsen already occupying three of the Pistes for their respective training.

You getting back on the sparring thing was a recent development so your sudden appearance here still caused quite the ruckus. Winn was your friend so he was more than happy to have you here but as for Lucy Lane? She did not look happy to see you.

Winn had been resting when you walked in. Breaking out into a grin, he walked up to you with a high five ready. “Luthor! Fancy seeing you here. Finally decide to grace us with your presence?”

You smiled and met his high five. “Oh, you know how it is. Slow day and all. Just wanted to see how the other half lives.”

You dropped your duffel bag off the side of the room where the bleachers were. They were wooden rows that were simply shoved into one corner of the hall, anyone could walk in and watch the sparring sessions.

“I’m glad you and Kara made up. Not that I don’t appreciate you dropping by my apartment to hide but a guy needs his space you know?” Winn said lightheartedly but you knew full well he was beginning to ramble.

You rolled your eyes at him. “It was your idea, Schott.”

“I know but you ate from my fridge too!” He argued emphatically.

“Okay fine. How long have I been crashing at your place?”

“Around three weeks give or take.”

“I’ll buy you dinner for three weeks then, you good with that?”

Winn beamed at the prospect of free food. “Yeah, I’m good with that.”

When you finally got back to Corben, he commented on how chummy you were getting with some of the fencers around her. Not necessarily a bad thing because you felt like you belonged here, belonged to something.

“So who’s my sparring partner today?”

Corben seem to frown even further. “Gayle Marsh couldn’t make it so I had to get a last minute replacement.”

You looked around the room and didn’t seem to find another female Sabreur around aside from Lucy. It definitely wasn’t Lucy though, she had her own sparring partner.

Then someone came barreling into the fencing hall. When you saw who it was you were both elated and worried. You immediately looked to your coach in disbelief. “You got Kara?”

“She was free.” Corben shrugged.

Kara ran up to you already dressed in her gear, all that remained was her Lame and getting herself hooked up to the machine. “Sorry, I’m late.” She blurted out just as she came into a halt in front of you.

“Wasn’t even expecting you, so to speak.” You replied stiffly.

You quietly glanced at all the other fencers in the hall. Everyone’s interests had been piqued now that Kara was in the room. If you weren’t who you were, you’d be interested to see where this was going too.

“I didn’t know I was doing this until thirty minutes ago but Hank seems to think that it’s a good idea.” She replied in her usual bright manner.

When she noticed you grew uncomfortable, she touched your arm and grinned charmingly. “Hey, relax. You’ll be fine. After all, it’s just you and me on the strip. Nothing else matters.”

She always did have a calming effect on you because you slowly felt your anxiety fade away. It was still there, lurking in the back of your mind but it wasn’t the loudest thing anymore. Kara was always putting things in perspective for you.

“Okay. Let’s do this.” You said with conviction.

The both of you walked towards the bleachers and took a seat. Side by side, you both were getting all geared up and you felt like you could do this forever. Just sitting with her like this. You didn’t feel scared as long as she was with you.

Not a moment too soon, you both got hooked up to the machines. As soon as you clamped the wire onto your mask, you walked on over to the center lines of the strip. You could feel everyone watching you but they didn’t matter now. The only thing you should be focusing on was your opponent.

Corben took his spot near the middle and looked at you both to ascertain your readiness. When he was satisfied, he extended his arms to begin the bout.

“En-Garde, pret, allez!”

 


 

Kara

Lena was fast. Really fast.

She wasn’t this fast last November. She clearly had been putting in the work because her footwork was up to par again. This was the way you remembered her.

Of course, it would be far too amateurish to be caught off guard by something like this. You always remained calm in any situation and you were trained to be tactical. Lena’s initial attack fell short and you took advantage of that with quick footwork and an even quicker response. What you didn’t anticipate was that Lena was ready to parry you.

It was only then you realized she had baited you completely. Her blade collided with your arm and the machine sounded.

She made her attack fall short on purpose, it was brilliant. The real opponent whenever you fenced against someone like Lena Luthor was her mind. She was always five steps ahead of you.

“Getting lazy, Danvers?” Lena goaded you.

“In your dreams, Luthor.” You replied confidently and returned to the center line.

But she could strategize to her heart’s content, you’d still be faster. On the next bout, you went on an all out offensive. It was reckless but you had a feeling Lena wasn’t going to keep up with you. It was a good hunch because she failed to parry you completely and you were able to score the touch.

“You were saying?” You taunted her this time around.

Lena laughed and somehow you knew she had been grinning the whole time behind her mask. “It’s literally the second bout but fine, go ahead and gloat.”

For the next few bouts, you both were just alternating. As soon as one scored, the other made up for it and scored too. This back and forth was exhilarating. It had been a while since you’ve felt this challenged. Things had been a little stale for a while.

At the eight point break, you were in the lead. Lena was getting better everyday but right now it still wasn’t enough. You were holding back a little and trying to gauge Lena’s abilities, this wasn’t an even playing field. Of course, you would never belittle her by going easy on her. That would be insulting. No right now, you were testing her but after this break, you had no intention of losing to her.

You respected her too much to not give it your all.

As soon as the next bout started, you gave no quarter. Lena tried to trick you again but you saw right through her. When her attack purposefully fell short, you didn’t allow her to regain her lead. You lunged hard and fast, bringing yourself to lunge far. The tip of your Sabre barely grazed her but it was enough to score a touch.

You could sense Lena starting to get frustrated again and you hoped she could keep her cool. She was having so much fun in the earlier. Lena just needs to remember that this was just practice and that she needed to focus.

Unfortunately you were right, she was growing careless and you had just scored two easy touches in a row.

Right before the next bout, you lifted your mask briefly to let out some steam and Lena looked the same. Her cheeks were pink from the exercise but her eyes were muddled. A lot of things were weighing on her mind it seemed.

“Lena.”

“What?” She replied, her breathing heavy from the last bout.

“Calm down.” You smiled reassuringly.

Lena’s eyes widened a tiny fraction and she stared at you for a moment. Then she nodded at you firmly before dragging her mask back down. You did the same and prepared for the next bout.

Upon hearing the Allez you both were off.

Good, you thought. Her actions were much clearer now. She was focusing again. Of course, a focused Lena meant more trouble for you. You hadn’t been paying attention to your footwork this round because your mind was occupied. You failed to dodge an attack that was perfectly evadable, giving Lena the touch.

On the following bout, you both decided to be on the offensive leading to a head on collision. But then you messed up your footing and wound up overshooting your lunge. Losing your balance, your nearly tripped forward.

Lena caught you in her arms and you wouldn’t have to know what would happen if you fell over completely.

“Woah there, Danvers. Didn’t know you missed me that badly.” Lena teased in a low voice only you could hear.

You immediately felt all the heat rush to your face and your heart started to pound a little faster. If she were any other person, you’d say she was flirting but this was Lena. She definitely was not.

You pulled away from her and tore of your mask. It was around then that Corben finally stepped in. “I think that’s enough for today ladies. You’ll both have to settle for a 14-14 score.”

You both stepped off the strip in resignation. A draw would have to do for today. Only time would tell who was the better fencer and you had a feeling the Olympics would decide that.

Looking around, everyone in the fencing hall seemed disappointed that there was no clear victor. Winn seemed pleased enough that he wouldn’t have to pick sides. Lucy Lane on the other hand seemed as smug as ever, the way she was acting definitely rubbed you the wrong way. The closer the Olympics got, the more insufferable she became it seemed.

Then by the entryway, you caught sight of Imra and Sam. They clearly had been watching the whole practice match. You waved at them and motioned for them to come in.

Lena was in the middle of divesting herself of her fencing gear when the Imra and Sam finally showed up on your side of the hall.

Imra greeted you both with an admiring whistle. “For a practice match, that was pretty intense.”

“I’m more of an Epee person myself but you guys make a good argument for the Sabre.” Sam commented.

You were in the middle of chugging down some water when you heard Sam drop that bit of info. “I didn’t know you fenced Epee.”

Sam shrugged. “I didn’t want to come work here without knowing anything about fencing. So I joined a fencing club and got hooked on Epee. Trust me, my daughter already gives me enough crap for not being a Sabre person.”

You laughed at that. Everyone at the Center knew who Ruby was, she was one of the promising ones currently fencing at the Cadet level. It was also kind of adorable how often she followed Lena around. Every once in a while, you caught Lena hanging out with her and teaching her some tricks.

“I’ve been hooked on Sabre from the very beginning.” You replied.

Suddenly Corben showed up with his scowling face. He stared at all of you intently before speaking. “Someone tried to teach Lena how to fence Foil before I was her coach. Apparently, it didn’t go so well. Foil was too slow for her.”

Lena lowered her head in embarrassment while Corben walked off after dropping that little tidbit on everyone. “To be fair, I was ten. Patience was definitely not my strong suit.”

“Well I’ll tell you now, Luthor. It’s a damn shame you’re not a foilist. With your mind, you’d be excellent.” Imra sighed.

“It’s a mercy. If I ever learn Foil, it’s over for all of you.” Lena said haughtily, turning her nose up and everything.

The four of you made idle chatter while you and Lena were packing up the fencing gear. Not that you were paying any particular attention, but Sam was standing a little too close to Lena. Of course, Sam could do whatever she wanted it did grate on you a little.

At some point during the four-way conversation, Sam took Lena’s complete and undivided attention and your four of you had been split into twos.

Oh, very sneaky.

You ignored the nauseating feeling coming from the pit of your stomach and remembered that Sam was a perfectly nice woman. Just because you wanted to do so many non-platonic things to Lena did not mean that other people couldn’t want the same thing.

Honestly, you were an adult. This was beneath you.

“Kara, what in the world are you looking at. You seem rather... annoyed.” Imra pointed out.

In a panic, you looked for something else in the room to pin your irritation on. “Your husband’s doing a weird testosterone competition thingy with the guys.”

Imra sighed exasperatedly. “I love him but sometimes he can such a prat.”

She glanced back and indeed, Mike was challenging James to see how many push-ups they could squeeze into five minutes. “Oh dear god.” Imra muttered under her breath.

The mini competition between James and Mike had just gotten interesting when Lena tapped at your shoulder. “Hey Kara, I’ll be going ahead.”

You glanced at Sam seemingly ready to leave alongside her. The day was over so if she was tagging along, it was definitely not on professional terms. “Sure, See you later.”

Lena’s face was pretty neutral so you couldn’t guess what it was she was up to. “I might be late but if you’re okay with waiting, I can pick up some dinner on the way back. Just let me know.”

“I’ll text you.” You replied quickly.

Lena nodded slowly before she suddenly had this odd look. She quickly glanced down at her phone before looking back up at you. “And if you have the time later... do you think we can talk?”

Nothing good has ever come out of those words.

You swallowed thickly and smiled stiffly. “Sure.”

Lena returned your fake smile with a real one and your legs might have turned to jello for a millisecond. “Okay... see you soon.”

As soon as Lena and Sam were gone, you were met with Imra’s judgmental gaze. She had her arms crossed and she was looking at you with renewed interest. “What was that?”

“What was what?”

“The swooning.”

“What swooning?” You chuckled nervously.

Imra smirked. “I’m not blind, Kara. You were making googly eyes—”

“Was not.” You interrupted her.

“At Lena.”

“I was doing no such thing.” You hesitated a little before you made your protest and Imra latched onto that.

Imra just kept staring down at you, expecting you to fess up. Knowing yourself, you just might. “If there’s one thing I know about you Kara, it’s that you’re honest to a fault and virtually incapable of lying.”

When you made no effort to respond, Imra took it as a clear confirmation.

“So does she know you feel this way about her?”

You sighed in resignation. “You know her. She’s very single minded, in a good way. Her mind’s on the Olympics right now. These kinds of things are trivial to her… a distraction, so I don’t think it crosses her mind.”

Imra didn’t seem convinced. “I’m not entirely sure that’s true.”

Your stomach made a happy flip but you pushed that feeling back down, not wanting to get your hopes up. “What do you mean?”

“She does pay attention to you. Actually makes the effort to do so. Like you said, she’s very single minded. That means everything not related to fencing is inconsequential to her... but not you. You’re the exception.”

You shifted nervously and tried not to get your hopes up. Cautiously optimistic was the term you’d use for how you felt.

“I’m just saying, Kara. Don’t write it off completely.” Imra concluded.

“If you say so.” You replied flatly.

Imra looked behind her and found James and Mike struggling to keep their bodies up. Apparently, they both went past the five minute mark and just kept going in some misguided attempt to prove something.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drag my husband home before he embarrasses himself any further. Nice talking to you, Kara.” Imra sighed tiredly.

You watched her easily talk her husband into leaving and he followed after her unquestioningly. Say what you will about Mike Monel but he’d gladly follow his wife to the ends of the earth.

James on the other hand earned a scolding from Lucy.

Guess they were on another cycle, this must’ve been the off part of their on and off relationship.

As you left the Center to go home, Imra’s words kept playing in your head like a broken record. You didn’t want to get your hopes up at all. Hope was a hard thing to kill once it got started. You were too scared of the heartbreak to even begin to hope.

And yet despite your own protestations, there was a tiny sliver optimism beating right alongside your heart.

You sincerely hoped Imra was wrong.

You wouldn’t know what to do if she turned out to be right.

 


 

Lena

You found it surprising that Sam asked you out for coffee so out of the blue. While you knew that Sam had a thing for you—no thanks to Kara— you didn’t expect her to be so forward. But still, coffee was fairly noncommittal and casual. Also it didn’t hurt that you genuinely liked Sam’s company.

The entire time you were walking with her towards the coffee shop across the street, you’d been trying to figure out how to let her down easy.

But the woman wasn’t making it easy. She was so nice and affable, it didn’t hurt either that she was very easy on the eyes. Talking to her was so easy too. Too bad your heart had other plans.

And she drank normal coffee! Unlike Kara who always seemed so content chugging down sugar laced Frappuccinos whenever she decided to do a cheat day, Sam preferred to drink her coffee black with no sugar or a latte if she was feeling adventurous.

For a while, the two of you just sat by the cafe window, talking about pretty much anything. You easily saw yourself becoming good friends with this woman. You made a mental note to hangout with her more often provided that she harbored no ill will towards you after this.

“I feel like I have to clarify some things here.” Sam said from out of nowhere.

You held your breath but your interest was definitely piqued.

“I can tell you’re scared to tell me what you really think but it’s fine. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s really no spark here.” Sam said with an easy smile.

Your eyebrows furrowed and your frowned. “So why did you ask me out for coffee?”

Sam looked sheepish. “Honestly? I’m a single mom who hasn’t gone out on a date in forever. You’re my daughter’s hero and she keeps bugging me to date you just because I think you’re attractive.”

You had to blink twice before you could think of a cohesive response. Once the words sank in, you began to laugh. That sounded exactly like something Ruby would say. “You think I’m attractive?”

Sam grinned. “Very. But we both know there’s more to dating than just basic attraction. And besides, I thought I’d give this thing a try and technically I have. It just so happens that this...” she stopped to point at both of you. “Isn’t going to happen.”

“What makes you say that?”

She held up one finger. “First, I’m very intuitive.” Then she pulled up another. “And second, you’ve been distracted and I think I know why.”

“Okay...?” You drew out the vowels.

“I’ve never seen you and Kara in the same room until today and I can see, clear as day, why I have absolutely no chance with you.” She said rather proudly.

You really hated playing games. Why did people insist on talking circles around you. Why not get straight to the point? You preferred being straightforward.

“And why is that?”

Sam took a sip of her coffee, it had probably gone cold by now but she didn’t seem to mind. “You guys have this thing... ah, what’s the word for it...”

“You mean nothing?” You supplied.

She rolled her eyes at you dramatically. “Very funny.”

“I’m trying to distract you from this very uncomfortable topic. Tell me, is it working?”

Sam narrowed her eyes at you. “Absolutely not. As I was saying, you guys have this... tension. This chemistry. It’s not obvious at first but the more you watch, the more you two make sense.

“We’re rivals and that can be intense. Are you sure you’re not just misconstruing things?” You quipped.

Sam leaned back and kept giving you this look, the kind that told you she wasn’t buying it. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

You refused to humor her because she was getting way too close to the truth. It was easier to control your feelings for Kara when you kept it to yourself. You were afraid that if you admitted it aloud, you would be unable to contain it. If Kara knew... you’d lose her. Things wouldn’t be the same, permanently.

“What’s your point, Sam?” You grounded out.

She leaned forward on the table and that Mona Lisa smile of hers that you once found endearing was starting to get annoying. “You have feelings for her. Am I wrong?”

You angrily took a sip of your coffee and tasting the cool bitterness just increased your irritation. You made this little grumpy huff before resigning yourself to your fate. How obvious were you being when other people were starting to notice?

“You’re not wrong.” You replied stiffly as you fixed your glare onto the table. The dragged it back up to her. “What gave me away?”

“You’re just such a closed off person, it takes a while to get to know you. But Kara opens you up like no one else can and you’re always smiling around her.” Sam stated as if it were that simple.

How could you not smile? Kara was wonderful.

“Come on, Lena. Talk to me, you’re clearly torn up about all of this... you practically look ready to explode.” Sam said reassuringly.

Come to think of it, you had been stressing out over it. The only other two people you talked to on a regular basis was Alex and Maggie and you absolutely couldn’t tell them. They were too close to Kara. But you could talk to Sam.

Sam was perfectly impartial and you got on well enough with her. She also seemed trustworthy enough.

Okay, why the hell not? Bottling things up was tiring business after all.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Sam. I can barely function around her.” You groaned.

“That’s usually how it goes when you really like someone.”

You lowered your head until your forehead collided with the wooden table. “It’s so hard living with her because she’s just so damn perfect. Why is she so perfect?”

“And let me guess, the sun practically shines right out of her ass?” Sam teased you.

“I know you’re teasing me right now but yes, I swear to god it does.”

Sam just kept laughing at your dumb ass but god, it felt so good to finally admit it to another human being. You had so many feelings and it was eating you up.

Sam looked out the window before checking the time on her phone. “We’ve been here a while and it’s starting to get late. Why don’t you go home; buy your girl dinner.”

You finally lifted your head. “I kind of don’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“Because we have to talk.”

Sam’s eyebrows furrowed together. “About?”

“Something she might get upset about. I don’t know... but I’m dreading the conversation a little.”

“What could possibly be so upsetting?”

You mouth was fixed into a grim line and your stomach started to churn in a bad way. You honestly didn’t know how she would react but considering how she reacted to the awkward silence phase...

You were leaning towards not good.

 


 

Kara

This was not good at all. Why did Lena want to talk?

What was there to even talk about?

Did you push her too hard with all the awkwardness that happened after Christmas? But things with Lena were good again. She was moderately brooding which was a huge step up from her brooding like a perpetual motion machine.

When Lena did come home, she came with pizza and lasagna.

“You’re the best!” You exclaimed as soon as you saw what she had been carrying with her. “I was craving for Italian.”

Lena smiled shyly and placed the food on the counter. “I had a feeling.”

She said that knowing you full well you specifically asked for Italian. God, the woman could be so cute sometimes.

While Lena started bringing out the plates, you just watched her from the couch and quietly admired her. You’d been doing that a lot lately. Maybe you resisted the urge to do so at first but at some point you gave in. Lena Luthor was a hard woman to ignore and while the sight of her always made you feel like melting into a puddle, it was her heart that was making your chest swell.

You’d both been through a lot come to think of it. When you first met her, she was cold and standoffish. She was a distant figure. That’s thing about having heroes, they always seem so far away. But the more you got to know her, the more you realized how wonderful she was. She had such a good heart and you hated that she didn’t see that.

How long could you possibly keep this up, you wondered.

It’s one thing to be crushing on your roommate. It’s another when a single glance from her unravels you completely and you can scarcely function.

When you walked over to the counter to bask in the scent of fresh Italian food, you found Lena with this pensive expression. You weren’t sure if you should be worried.

You glanced down at the pizza, trying not to let your staring linger for too long. You wouldn’t know what to do if Lena caught you. It would mean the end of one of the most meaningful relationships of your life.

“You got extra cheese?” You asked excitedly.

Lena seemed to have been thrust out of her thoughts because she quickly snapped out of her gaze. She put on a smile and nodded. “You’re always talking about getting more cheese but you keep forgetting to order it in.”

You grinned helplessly. “You’re amazing, you know that?”

Lena flushed slightly and she awkwardly scratched her cheek. “It’s just cheese.”

“No, it’s you being thoughtful.”

She looked flustered. You always found it endearing that Lena never really knew how to take compliments about herself. Like you, she was proud of her abilities as a fencer but when the compliments were personal? She could be a mess sometimes.

Dinner was great so far but your impending talk kept nagging at you. Undoubtedly, Lena was trying to use dinner as a buffer but you’d rather just know now than later. Unable to be patient, your broke out the topic.

“So you wanted to talk?”

Lena visibly stiffened and she stopped poking at her food. “I did.” She replied curtly.

“So what’s up?” You asked, leaning forward over the counter.

Lena shifted nervously and she kept staring down at her hands. This was becoming nerve-racking and your poor nerves couldn’t handle it.

“I got an email from the Center. The apartment upstairs is vacant and I can move in when I’m ready... I’m moving out.”

At first, you felt immense relief. You thought it was going to be way more serious. But as the words began to set in, you realized that Lena was going away. She won’t be far, after all she’d just be a floor above you but still... you liked what you had here.

You wanted Lena. Here.

Lena had made her mark here and you could barely fathom the idea of coming home to a place without her in it. You’d gotten so used to her being here. Even your living room was starting to smell the same earthy tones Lena had, the scent of Autumn.

What would happen to your Netflix binges and your late night conversations? Your takeout dinners? You’d grown so used to them, you didn’t know what to do once all of that was gone.

But most of all, you didn’t want her away from her. You wanted to see her sleepy smiles in the morning. You wanted to hear her barking out sarcastic quips at the TV.

You just wanted to see her everyday.

“Kara, you’re being really quiet. Please say something.” Lena asked tentatively, she looked visibly worried.

You snapped out of it and tried to put on a brave face. “That’s great. You wouldn’t have to room with another human being, which is nice.”

“It’s not like I’m moving far away. I’m just moving upstairs. We can still hang out.” Lena insisted.

But things wouldn’t be the same, you thought.

“I know that.”

“Then why do you look so sad?”

Your throat clammed up and your heart was heavy. “What?”

Lena’s eyebrows furrowed and she looked worried. She lifted her hand and ever so slowly, extended it until you felt the warmth of her hand lightly grazing your cheek. Your heart started to pound at the contact. Her touch was light and she was being so gentle. “You look like you’re going to cry.”

“It’s just that...”

Lena knowingly remained silent.

“I’m going to miss you.”

Lena’s thumb started stroking your cheek and you couldn’t help but lean into her comforting touch. She was being so careful with you. “Me too.”

“I just got you back.”

Lena looked grim. The time you both spent not talking to each other over a misunderstanding was too much. Now that it was behind you, you were going to lose her again. Not completely but things weren’t going to be the same.

Most people wouldn’t have been this affected by the roommate moving out.

But Lena was too important to you.

Then Lena took your face into both hands gently and she kept her gaze fixed upon you. “Hey. Listen to me, this is not the same thing. You’re not losing me and I’m not losing you.”

The tears started to form in the corners of your eyes. When Lena saw this, her face fell. “Don’t cry, Kara. Please don’t cry.”

Why were you being so emotional about this? You knew it in your head that Lena wasn’t going anywhere. It was literally just one floor up but something else was bothering you and you could put a finger on it.

Then Lena did something unexpected.

She leaned over and pressed her lips gently against your forehead. Your heart stopped in that moment and you figured out why her moving out bothered you so much.

She was the first face you wanted to see when you wake up and the last face you wanted to see before you slept.

“Don’t cry, okay? Or you’ll make me cry too.” Lena joked softly.

When she pulled back from you, you both just stared at each other. Searching each other’s eyes for a hint of something deeper, something beyond what you both knew to be true. The urge to be near Lena had never been stronger than now.

Your faces were so close. If you leaned in, you could kiss her and finally find out what those lips would feel like on yours. The more you thought about it, the more you considered doing it.

What was stopping you anyway?

When your gaze dropped down to her lips, the temptation just grew. But then Lena pulled away from you and her eyes darkened like they usually did when she was conflicted.

“Why don’t you just stay?” You asked her quietly.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea right now.” Lena replied.

“Why not?”

Lena looked away. “For personal reasons. And besides, you knew from the very beginning that this was temporary.”

You sighed in resignation. “You’re right. It’s not like this place was made for cohabitation.”

“It’s not but for what it’s worth, I loved living here. With you.” Lena replied with this wonderful grin and your insides melted all over again.

“It’s the end of an era, I suppose.”

“It was a good one.”

You reigned yourself in and tried to keep it together. “So when do you go?”

“Around two weeks from now. I’m just waiting for some basic furniture that I ordered. Once everything’s in place, I’ll go.” Lena stated.

Things felt resolved, though not fully. The conversation didn’t take a turn for the worse but it did inspire some strong feelings on your part. You’d have to keep those in check.

Two weeks with Lena then things would change again.

“And since I only have you for two more weeks...”

Lena groaned. “Please don’t say you’ll make me binge watch Grey’s Anatomy with you.”

You grinned. “You’ll have to binge Grey’s Anatomy with me.”

Lena protested, a lot. But it was clear that she didn’t mind, not when she was smiling that way. Once the food was cleared out and the dishes were washed and on the rack to dry, you hauled Lena to the couch. She pretended to hate it of course but you knew better.

For now, the future was predictable and safe. For the next two weeks things would stay the same.

But after that? Who knows what could happen.

Chapter Text

Kara

When Lena finally moved out, it was a rather bittersweet affair.

It was a rainy morning. It was as if the weather reflected the turmoil buried in your aching heart. She started moving her stuff out bit by bit until the only thing that remained was Lena herself and her clothes. You could tell that she’d been stalling too.

She could have left earlier but she chose to stay for a little while longer. You appreciated it immensely. You weren’t quite ready to let her go.

Even as she stood by the doorway, trying to leave, she lingered for too long. You were sure that you both were standing there just staring at each other for maybe five minutes but those minutes were stretched into an eternity. At least, that’s what it felt like.

There were things you wanted to say and Lena seemed to have words of her own too.

A lot of things crossed your mind in those five minutes. At first, your traitorous brain thought about grabbing her shirt and pulling her in for the kiss you’d grown desperate for. You wanted to kiss her so badly. Especially when she looked at you with those raw eyes that carried this understated sadness.

Then of course, you thought about telling her that you wanted to be more than just friends. That you thought about her all the time and even when you closed your eyes, it was her smiling face that you saw.

For that stretch of five minutes, anything was possible.

Until time moved forward, like it always did. Lena must’ve decided to finally leave.

“I’ll see you around, Danvers.” She said in this low gentle voice that only worsened the ache you felt in your chest.

Then she was gone and somehow, you knew things would be different again. You just stood there at the door, just processing and contemplating things like the fool you were. Then when it was clear that no green-eyed beauty with luscious locks of ebony hair was returning, you closed the door.

While you both promised to hang out like you usually did, it had yet to happen. You barely saw each other at the Center as roommates, what more now that you were both living separately. Just like that, it was as if all that stuff with Lena never happened.

And you hated it whenever people still came up to you to ask about Lena. If they wanted something from her, they could ask her themselves. If they couldn’t find her, what makes them think you could?

When you finally did see her, after what seemed like forever, it wasn’t a good day.

That day, you caught sight of three people walking down the hallways like the harbingers of doom, a woman and two men. You recognized them immediately.

The USFA had arrived it seemed and at the helm of this particular delegation was the living legend herself, Cat Grant. One of the boldest fencers to ever walk the earth. She had been primarily a Foilist until she started competing in Sabre near the later end of her career.

Followed by Maxwell Lord a Sabre veteran and Morgan Edge, one of the top Epeeists in his time.

And along with the USFA’s delegation came some press people from FIE. To start gearing up for the Rio Olympics happening five months from now, FIE wanted to do some athlete profiles and promo vids ahead of time.

Suffice it to say, the Center was busy.

On the day you finally saw Lena, everyone had been called to this assembly of sorts. You all showed up at the fencing hall and sat on the bleachers while Cat Grant, Maxwell Lord, and Morgan Edge stared you all down.

Seeing as though you came late, you sat far away from Lena who was being sandwiched between Winn and Sam. It nagged at you to see the three of them acting so chummy.

“So as you can all surmise, we’re here to assess your performance ahead of time.” Maxwell Lord started to say.

You always got this odd creepy vibe from that guy whenever you saw him in person. Undoubtedly, he was a handsome suave guy, but he always rubbed you the wrong way. Like he had a hidden agenda. Still, he was infinitely better than Morgan Edge. While Edge was brilliant, he was also... handsy. You’ve avoided him, luckily enough, but you had heard some unsavory stories about the man. It was best to steer clear of him.

As for Cat Grant? The woman was everyone’s hero. Undoubtedly, even Lena’s. She was that amazing.

“From a technical standpoint, you all have the capacity to participate in this year’s Olympics. Everyone is qualified in accordance to the rules.” Lord continued to say.

“Of course...” Cat Grant interrupted. “We’d prefer to see your skill up close and personal. As three experienced fencers, we know what we’re looking for. We’ve all looked at your profiles ahead of time and I must say, this year’s teams could be quite promising.”

With her hands on her hips, she stared at all of you intensely. “With that said, try not to disappoint me. I’m not interested in amateurs, I want professionals.”

“Feel free to ignore us while we monitor your practices.” Edge chimed in with this unsettling grin. “While we won’t be here everyday, we’ll be showing up periodically over the next five months.”

“And remember, our decisions are not personal. Try not to take it too hard.” Cat Grant said with finality.

Then she waved you all off and everyone went back to their training day. As soon as people started to disperse, you tried to get to Lena but found yourself being blocked off by none other than Cat Grant herself.

“Kara Danvers, it’s nice to finally meet you in the flesh.” Cat said in her usual proud manner.

In some ways, she reminded you of Lena. The two of them seem to cut from the same cloth.

You tried to push back your feelings of disappointment and tried to remember that Cat Grant, fencing goddess, was standing right in front f you. You brought out a full grin. “Miss Grant, it’s an absolute pleasure.

She crossed her arms and you felt that she was trying to scrutinize you. “Right now, you appear to be USFA’s favorite but naturally, I’ll be the judge of that.”

You swallowed thickly. Her presence easily made you nervous. “I don’t make any claims to greatness. I’m just a good Sabreur and I’ll be bringing nothing but my best to the table.

Cat Grant had this enigmatic smile on her face. “Well in that case, I shan’t keep you here. Feel free to go on with your day.”

It still felt strange trying to leave. Her present was so much larger and life you nearly felt the urge to kneel before her like you would with a queen.

Once you made it to the hallway, it was time for your afternoon training with Hank. You no longer had the time to search for Lena. Disheartened, you slowly made you way to the next room.

Your steps were heavy, just like your heart.

 


 

Kara

“If Luthor’s out, whose gonna be our third fencer for the team event?”

You scowled deeply the moment you heard the words come out of her overconfident mouth. Though to say that you overhead it was putting things lightly. The woman clearly wanted to be heard and her behavior getting more and more obnoxious.

You knew she was capable of arrogance but you didn’t expect her to be this brazen.

Unable to help yourself, you stormed up to her. “We won’t need one. She’s going to the Olympics.”

Lucy Lane narrowed her eyes at you but her face remained smug. She had been talking to anyone who would give her the time of day. Right now, James was with her and from the looks of things, they seem to be back together again.

Which was a massive pain, by the way. James was a yes man to Lucy’s every whim and he’d back her up even if he disagreed.

What annoyed you the most was that Lucy wasn’t always this way. She wasn’t known to be arrogant and snide. She was definitely prideful for sure but not like this. This behavior was weird.

When you first met her, you saw her as a friend. You were both on the same wavelength both as people and as athletes. But the higher you climbed, the more distant she became. Soon enough, she had become this person with an ugly attitude and it made you wonder what happened?

“We’ve both seen her practice. She’s not quite the same is she?”

You didn’t want to agree but Lucy was right. Lena was back to competition level but she was still slower than she needed to be. She still had five months, however, she’d make it.

“She’ll be ready.” You replied a little too loudly, earning the curious heads turning in your direction.

In the corner of your eye, you spotted Maxwell Lord lurking about. All three of the USFA reps had been acquainting themselves with the Center for the day. It just so happened that Maxwell Lord was watching your training session in particular.

“Will she?” Lucy fired back with this annoying head tilt.

“You’re insulting a lot of people by claiming she won’t be.”

“Like who?”

“My sister for instance.” You said through gritted teeth. “She’s one of the best ortho and sports medicine doctors on this side of the country and she rehabilitated Lena. But then of course, you’re also insulting Maggie Sawyer, who happens to be an amazing PT.”

Then you took a hard step forward until you were standing over her and staring her down. “You’re also insulting me.”

Lucy stood up slowly and met you head on. “Step off your high horse, Danvers. You’re starting to sound like her. Since when did you get so cocky?”

“When did you?” You growled.

Her eyes darkened. “I know my place but you’ve been getting out of line ever since she showed up here.”

You inhaled deeply as you felt yourself gradually lose your temper. “I’m not cocky or overconfident. I know exactly what I am and I am a damn good Sabreur. Best in the world as a matter of fact and that’s not something I bring up all the time because rank doesn’t matter to me. But do you know who still keeps me on my toes? The one person I still train so hard to beat?”

Lucy made no effort to reply. The room was quiet now and your heated conversation had everyone’s attention now.

“Lena Luthor.”

“Everyone here knows how much you follow her around like a damn groupie. No need to brag.” Lucy retorted in this arrogant huff.

You gritted your teeth. “And you’re so goddamn lazy, Lucy! What happened to you. Where’s your passion? You used to love this as much as I do.”

For several beats, Lucy didn’t say a word. She simply kept glaring in your direction but you sensed that somehow, you touched a nerve.

James was wisely stepping out of this conversation and standing off to the side. But all training in the room had ceased by now in favor of watching this argument unfold. At this moment, you didn’t quite care. Not even about the fact that Maxwell Lord, a representative of the USFA, was here to observe.

“Neither of us are threatened by you. Are you telling me you’re happy being third best in this country? Don’t you want to try and be the best?” You continued in a raised voice.

Suddenly, Lucy started staring behind you in horror. You felt baffled, just what in the world was she staring at now.

Suddenly, you felt a warm hand on your shoulder and a familiar scent pervaded your senses. “Calm down, Kara.”

When you turned around, you found Lena looking at you with this strange mixture of admiration and concern. In that moment, all your feelings slammed into you and you felt overwhelmed. Factoring in your anger at Lucy and how much you missed Lena, you weren’t quite sure what to feel.

Lena smiled warmly. “I can fight my own battles, Kara.”

“I wasn’t trying to—“

“I know.”

And just like that, Lena had taken away your anger in an instant. You missed her so much you suddenly didn’t care about Lucy anymore.

Then Lena stepped in front of you and sent this haughty condescending look towards Lucy. Honestly, you felt chills. Also, if it was possible for Lena to look in your direction with that face, you might just collapse then and there.

“Where’s your backbone, Lane? Last I checked, you were spewing all kinds of vitriol about me. Well I’m here now and you can say it to my face.” Lena stated, her voice was a low growl.

Lucy wisely kept her mouth shut.

Lena raised an eyebrow at her and smirked. “Nothing to say for yourself?”

Lena glanced about the room, shooting glares at everyone watching before glowering at Lucy once more. “I guess we’re done here.”

Without warning, Lena slung her arm over you and started pulling you away from the training room altogether. One hand, the gesture felt oddly territorial and your senses were on overload. You body felt so warm and it wasn’t because of the temperature or the physical exertion. And with the proximity, you easily took in her earthy scent. You realized that the reason you thought she smelled like autumn was because there were hints of cinnamon.

As you both quietly walked along the hallway, Lena made no move to extricate herself from you. Instead, her hand gripped your arm a little tighter and she pulled you a little closer. Looking at her, you noticed her jaw was still clenched. It seems her little encounter with Lucy Lane still ticked her off.

“Where’s Henshaw?” She asked you.

“He’s been speaking to Cat Grant. I’ve been borrowing another coach but his time is split between me and his actual trainee.”

Lena said nothing after that.

She pulled away from you to open the door leading outside the Center. Your realized then and there that she was dragging you to the 7 Eleven.

“What are you doing?” You asked her.

Lena grinned with that easy confidence of hers. “Cooling off. Admittedly, seeing you all fired up was... interesting. But I know that’s not like you so we’re cooling off.”

The moment she stepped foot into the convenience store, she immediately went towards the Slurpee dispenser. Seeing her made you smile, you were fully aware that she hadn’t had one in months. This was a treat for her too. Then she looked at you with this childlike expression and this unassuming smile. “You want one too? I’m buying.”

“Sure.”

Once Lena had paid, she thrust the cold frosty beverage towards you and you both sat at the steps of the Center. It was late in the afternoon now and the day was starting to end. You could see a lot of office workers starting their commute home.

It was around March now and the winter has mellowed out. Spring was making an appearance and it was one of your favorite times of the year. You could just smell it in the air.

The two of you just sat there in silence, sipping your Slurpees and relishing in the other’s presence.

“It’s not like you to lose your cool like that.” Lena observed.

“Trust me, it was a first for me too.”

“I’m flattered you got angry on my behalf.” She said amusedly.

You chuckled as you tucked in lose strands of hair behind your ear. “I just had to defend your honor, you know?”

“How chivalrous.”

“So how are you?” You asked, quietly shooting her a prying glance.

Lena continued to stare out into the street, watching people come and go on the sidewalk. As long as she wasn’t paying attention to you, you could admire her gorgeous profile. “I’ve been keeping busy.”

“How is it living alone again?”

“It’s nice not having neighbors barge in on the regular.” She joked at first before taking on a more serious expression. “I’ll have to admit, it gets a little lonely.”

“You could always come down and say hi.” You said, nudging her shoulder with yours.

Lena laughed in this soft manner and the sound of it was music to your ears. “I could.”

“Then what’s stopping you?”

Lena turned to face you and she had this strange expression. You’d seen it before, too often as a matter of fact. You remember she had that face the night you talked about her family, when the eye contact between you lingered for a little too long.

You still couldn’t decipher her. You could never really tell what she was thinking and it frustrated you to no end.

“There are...” Then she made a thoughtful pause. “There are some things I need to sort out for myself and I can’t face you until I do... does that make sense?” Lena said carefully.

“You know I’m here for you right? You can be honest with me, no judgement here.”

Lena smiled but it looked sad, melancholic even. “I do know that. Thank you, Kara. You always seem to set my mind at ease. I’m not sure what I’d do without you.”

Why did Lena always know the right things to say. It was so easy to misconstrue her words as something more. Her words always inspired a particular kind of hope in you, the kind you never wanted to feel because losing it would hurt too much.

“A far cry from you glaring at me like I stole your lunch money or something.”

Lena chuckled. “I was a lot of things back then but sensible, I was not.”

“Who knows, maybe I’d turn out similarly if I were in your shoes. Even tiny accidents set off an avalanche of anxiety.” You suggested.

She shook her head. “No, you’d wind up hating yourself for behaving that way. You’re too good.”

“You give me too much credit, I’m no saint either.”

“No, but you’re Kara Danvers. Sometimes that’s better.” Lena replied without missing a beat and you couldn’t help but grin like an idiot.

“Hey, Lena!”

You both turned to find Sam standing over the both of you. Her cheeks were flushed and she was panting slightly, clearly she’d been running around. “Why the hell did you just run off like that and— hold on is that a Slurpee? Do you know how much sugar is in that thing?”

The corners of Lena’s mouth lifted. “Oops, looks like I’m busted.”

Lena stood up with her hands raised in surrender. The Slurpee she still held in her hand did not endear her to Sam. “Okay, you caught me.”

Sam sighed with great exasperation before she looked back down at you. “Sorry to have to take her away from you but Corben will kill me if let her slack off.”

“Me? Slack off? God forbid.” Lena said dramatically.

“You know it’s an additional hour of cardio every time you drink a Slurpee.” Sam warned her with a stern voice.

“This is the first Slurpee I’ve had since I started training with you. I promise.”

Sam shoved an accusing finger towards Lena. “It better be or I’ll make you plank for an eternity.”

“Oh no, anything but that.” Lena shot back in a dry voice.

Sam crossed her arms and she looked tired. You remembered that she had a teenage daughter and she could probably do this all day. “If you don’t start walking Luthor, I’m telling Kara all about your little—“

Lena had never moved so fast. Her hand was desperately covering Sam’s mouths and her face paled. “Don’t you dare.”

Oh? Did Sam have some dirt on Lena?

Fascinating.

Sam managed to solicit a verbal promise from Lena before heading back inside. Lena just stood there in irritation before she gave you a disheartened face.

“Guess I’ll be seeing you around, Kara.” She sighed. Lena sounded rather disappointed.

“Don’t be a stranger this time.”

“I’ll try.”

And just like that, Lena was gone again. Was it always going to be like this from now on? Were you just going to have to sit tight and wait for some luck to come your way and hope you’d catch a glance of the woman occupying your every waking thought?

Oh god, what have you been reduced to. You’d never been this... distressed over anyone. Ever.

Even in your brief experience, no one had consumed you like this. No one had ever affected you the way she did.

You groaned aloud.

Honestly. Can’t the universe at least throw you a hint. A sign? Something to help you make sense of all this.

After watching several cars pass by, you realized that the universe wasn’t going to help you. On that dour note, you walked back into the Center to grab your things and make your way home.

Except home didn’t quite feel like home without her.

 


 

Kara

It was another quiet evening spent on the couch. By drowning yourself in Netflix, you didn’t have to think. You could just immerse yourself in the petty lives of TV characters and somehow care about their drama, then you didn’t have to think about yours.

So far, this coping mechanism was working for you. But with one small caveat.

The couch smelled too much like Lena now and that wasn’t helping you.

In a moment of weakness, you lied down on the couch and curled up into a ball. Even as you absentmindedly stared at the TV, the drama barely registering in your kind, you were quietly inhaling deeply. Yes, she definitely smelled like cinnamon.

You didn’t think it could be an attractive scent considering you usually associated it with apple pie or cinnamon rolls.

But you could make an exception for her. At this point, you could go buy an apple pie and immediately think of Lena. The scent on her was annoyingly attractive.

Still, even the ghost of her presence made your heartbeat quicken. Her not being here felt like losing a limb. A part of you was missing and you felt like she was the missing piece.

You never expected yourself to be in this situation. You didn’t expect yourself to feel all this for her of all people. But then, if you were being honest with yourself, you were drawn to her from the very beginning.

There was just something about her that made you want to know her. You simply chalked up that instinct as you wanting to be friends with her but that simply wasn’t true.

A loud knocking interrupted your thoughts and without giving much thought to it, you dragged your body to open the door. It was a welcome distraction. Your thoughts had been consuming you.

When you opened the door, you found Lena standing there with a hopeful smile on her face. She was carrying a tub of chocolate ice cream in her hands. You found that she was wearing her pajamas and her hair was still a little wet, most likely from the shower.

Before Lena could get a word in, you threw your arms around her. She wound up dropping the ice cream but you didn’t care.

You buried your head in the crook of her neck and held her tight. Lena was quiet but slowly, you felt her wrap her arms around you and she pressed her nose against your hair.

“I’ve missed you.” You finally said, it was impossible not to say it.

Somehow you knew she was smiling because she held you even tighter.

“I’ve missed you too.”

The only reason why you both stopped was because you started to feel a strange cold liquid looking at your feet. Suddenly Lena shoved you and immediately bent down. “Shit! The ice cream.”

You immediately ran to the kitchen to grab some kitchen towels and for you both fussed over the mess. Once it was contained, you both looked up at the same time and immediately burst into laughter.

Imagine having two grown women, just laughing their asses off on the floor. By the time you were finished, Lena was wiping the tears off her eyes.

“Oh my god, I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a while.” Lena exclaimed.

“We’re supposed to be these amazing athletes, why are we so useless in real life?”

“We are pretty useless aren’t we?”

Lena stood up from the floor and grabbed the ice cream with her. She extended a hand towards you and she pulled you up. “Come on, I’m here to find out if they’re going to fire Katherine Heigl for what she did last season.”

You beamed. “You’re here to binge watch with me?”

She grinned sheepishly. “Of course. Now I’m just going to put this in the freezer for now.”

And just like that, Lena was back. You honestly didn’t know why you were so worried in the first place. Eventually, you both were eating ice cream from the tub while watching some Grey’s Anatomy.

Now if things would just stay like this forever, it would be perfect.

This was good enough for you...

Wasn’t it?

Chapter Text

Lena

The USFA delegates were pesky little buggers. At least, two of them were. While you were always honored to be in the presence of Cat Grant who was a living legend, you didn’t have much of an opinion on the other two.

Especially Maxwell Lord, the man was distasteful but it couldn’t be helped. He was representing the Sabre and it made sense for him to sit in on your practices and sparring sessions. He even had this little clipboard and every time he scrawled something on it, you felt your anxiety grow.

It was nice back when the USFA worshipped the ground you walked on. Not like now when they were still trying to replace you with Kara.

You didn’t blame them of course. Kara as the face of US fencing was good for business and at this point, you could respect that.

Right now, your regular sparring partner was back. Her name was Gayle Marsh and for the life of you, you had no idea why no one had ever heard of her. She was brilliant. While you were five steps ahead of any opponent, she ten steps away. Her brain was magnificent.

The one time you did ask her about it, she told you that dedicating her life to the sport wasn’t quite her cup of tea. She was competing merely as a means to an end. She did enough to earn a sponsorship and she won enough to earn some money but mostly she was using the stuff to pay for school.

You were still the better fencer but you had no doubt that if she had your dedication, she would go far.

“I actually feel like winning today, Luthor. Maybe give those old bones of yours some exercise.” She informed you with a confident grin earlier.

“Why do people keep talking about me as if I’m an old lady. I’m twenty nine. I’ve barely reached the third decade of my life.” You replied tiredly.

Gayle shrugged. “You always just seem so up there. Easy enough to forget how young you are.”

“Enough chitchat ladies, let’s go. En-Garde!” Corben interrupted your conversation. You could sense him growing more and more impatient.

You both shrugged at him and continued sparring.

The best thing about having Gayle as your sparring partner was that she was extremely complimentary to you. Sometimes that was better than being just as skilled as you. Her strengths would help eliminate your weaknesses.

She was also naturally tall and had long limbs. You had to pay extra attention to your footwork and distancing. If you didn’t, you would be giving her free hits.

It was plain to see why Corben picked her out to help you spar and you were grateful for her.

You both sparred for a couple of more rounds until you both were tired and spent. Corben seem satisfied enough with your progress. You weren’t quite sure if you were getting better but your body did feel lighter. Your bladework felt quicker and your reflexes were a little sharper.

You and Gayle chatted for a little while longer before she had to run off for class. She took up psychology and had plans to go to med school for psychiatry. Honestly, it suited her. She was insanely good at reading people it was scary. Good thing she wasn’t too serious about making a career out of fencing. You’d all be screwed if she did.

You were just loitering around the fencing hall, trying to figure out what to eat for lunch. You still had your afternoon gym session with Sam and she said she had plans for reinforcing your core muscles.

When you finally decided to leave, you bumped into Alex and Maggie in the hallway. The sight of them brought a smile to your face. It had been ages since you last saw them, at least that’s what it felt like.

You were quietly approaching them from behind. As you drew closer to them, you realized they’d been talking about you.

“I swear to god, if Lucy doesn’t shut up about Lena I’m going to shut her mouth myself.” Alex growled.

“I get that she’s insecure but does she really have to be so loud about it?” Maggie replied.

You raised an eyebrow and cleared your throat. “What did she say about me now?”

The two of them nearly jumped where they stood and sharply turned to face you. They had one of those silent conversations with their eyes. You’d known them for more than half a year now and you still had no idea how they were doing that.

It was Maggie who spilled first. “She’s making a lot of claims about you.”

“In front of the USFA delegates. It’s not pretty. We mostly just feel embarrassed for her.”

You frowned. “What’s up with her anyway? Did I do something to her?”

They both seemed unsure about what to say. Alex tried to articulate her thoughts. “Lucy’s complicated but she’s not a bad person underneath all of... that”

“Let’s just say the Lanes are overachievers and she doesn’t quite fit the mold. So it frustrates her to see you and Kara doing things so effortlessly.” Maggie tried to explain.

You frown turned into a deep scowl as you walked alongside them. “I don’t care about her sad backstory. We all have crap to deal with but that doesn’t excuse her behavior.”

Alex and Maggie definitely agreed with you there.

For old times sake, they invited you to have lunch with them at Noonan’s. It hadn’t occurred to you just how busy you were these days. You hadn’t done anything fun in a while and lunch with Alex and Maggie was the closest thing to actual fun.

Well, aside from your Grey’s Anatomy marathons with Kara. Though that was less about fun and more about you being a hopeless lesbian who wanted an excuse to hangout with Kara.

You sighed internally. Things were definitely not progressing on that front. Not that you wanted things to progress with Kara. Things with her were manageable and unchanging. As long as things stayed that way, Kara would never find out how much you wanted her.

This was for the best.

And besides, even if there was a chance that Kara felt the same way about you. Never in a million years would you ever choose someone like you for someone as wonderful as her. You were way too complicated and you didn’t want her to have to deal with your issues.

You were looking forward to having a pleasant lunch with Alex and Maggie until you found that Lucy Lane had the same idea.

She was the first person you saw upon entering Noonan’s.

For a moment, the two of you just glared at each other. It only ended because Maggie and Alex pulled you into a booth where Lucy wasn’t in your direct line of sight.

“Talk about awkward.” Maggie remarked.

“I get that she’s obsessed with me but does she really have to follow me here?” You said it as a joke but the delivery was all caustic and scathing.

Alex sighed and she pressed her fingers against her temples as if she had a migraine coming on. “You have to understand. That woman is a bundle of insecurity. Which is a shame because being the third best Sabreur in the country is nothing to sneeze at.”

“What does she have to be so insecure about?” You asked.

“Her sister.” They replied at the same time.

Your eyebrows knitted together, forming a deep crease in the middle. “Yeah and my brother is the CEO of one of the largest tech companies in North America. What’s her problem?”

Maggie sighed. “Her sister, Lois, is like this amazing Pulitzer winning journalist. She goes all around the world reporting about things like sex trafficking or the war in Syria. Big things like that. Her dad barely acknowledges her accomplishments and only gushes about Lois.”

You raised an eyebrow at them. “So she has daddy issues and a huge inferiority complex. I fail to see why she has to take this out on me.”

Maggie looked to Alex for an explanation. “Why don’t we order some food first. I’m starving.”

Everyone wholeheartedly agreed and once food had been ordered and everyone had glasses of water, the riveting conversation continued on.

“Let’s just say you and Lois have similar qualities.” Alex began her explanation. “But since you’re also a fencer, she feels extra threatened by you.”

You groaned. “Why are we psychoanalyzing her anyway? She’s a grown woman. I could honestly care less.”

“Can we not talk about her? Let’s talk about something else and have fun. Come on you two.” Maggie pleaded, clearly looking fed up with the topic.

Almost like flipping a switch, the three of you started talking about literally anything else. Even as Lucy Lane shot you another one of her petty glares, you ignored her with aplomb and continued to converse easily with your friends.

Still, you had this strange feeling in your gut that something bad was going to happen.

Well not bad, per se.

It was more like you sensed that trouble was coming your way and trouble was the last thing you needed right now. Not when the Olympics was so close.

 


 

Lena

You fucking knew it.

Trouble had personally sought you out and there was nothing you could do about it except defend yourself.

Upon returning to the Center, you heard her talking smack about you again to anyone who would listen. Even if what Alex and Maggie told you about her was true. She was behaving dishonorably. You’d known a lot of pros in your career but none had her childishness, her insecurity.

She was being way out of line.

“I said it before and I’ll say it now. If you have something to say to me, say it to my goddamn face.” You growled at her the moment you set foot in the room.

Everyone important was in the fencing hall right now. For one thing, Cat Grant was observing the whole thing from one corner of the room. Her interest clearly piqued. Kara was there too, her face was red. As if she’d been trying to hold her tongue while Lucy was testing her patience once more. Even Hank Henshaw was here.

Confronting her in front of all these people may not have been the wisest choicr but you didn’t want to take insults from a coward.

Lucy didn’t make an attempt to reply immediately.

“Come on. Where’s your fucking backbone? You think I don’t hear you? I hear you loud and clear.” You goaded.

Looks like she finally did find it because there was fire in her eyes. The competitive kind that finally inspired some interest in you and you weren’t one to shy away from a little competition. Lucy stood up from the bleachers and stood toe to toe with you.

“I don’t think you’re good enough.” Lucy said firmly, enunciating every word.

You grinned. “Finally, some actual honesty.”

“You’re not good enough to compete with us.” She continued to say, finally finding her voice.

There was motion in the corner of your eye. You realized it was Kara, trying to move closer to the conflict. She had this look of protest on her face. She didn’t want to be lumped in with Lucy.

“Okay. Let’s settle this then.”

She looked baffled. “Excuse me?”

You looked around the room and made sure you had everyone’s attention. Maybe you were just teaching Lucy a lesson but you also had something to prove. You wanted to make it undeniably clear to anyone with doubts that you were still in the fight.

“You and me. Pick a date and we’ll have a match. If I’m as bad as you say I am, you’ll win easy.” You goaded her.

Looks like Lucy found her bearing because she clenched her fist and her face had this steely expression. “Okay. Why wait then... let’s do it tomorrow. First thing in the morning.” There was actual power in her voice. Good, you wanted her to take you seriously.

You wanted everyone who underestimated you to take you seriously.

“Great. Don’t you dare chicken out.”

Lucy glowered. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

When you turned around to walk away, Alex and Maggie were just staring at you with wide eyes from the doorway. As if they couldn’t believe you could be so brazen.

Sure you’d been humbled these past few months.

But you were still Lena Luthor. One of the youngest fencers to win a World Championship. You were one of the best in the world and you’d be damned if people didn’t remember that. This wasn’t misplaced pride. You had every confidence in your body, in your training...

And in the people who helped you along the way.

Tomorrow, you’d make it excruciatingly clear to everyone that you were here to stay. To remind everyone who the best was around here.

 


 

Kara

Admittedly, watching Lena walk up to Lucy and outright challenge her was kinda hot and you were a little more turned on than you would’ve liked.

But that was earlier. It had been a few hours and you finally stopped being all hot and bothered about it. Lena being gentle with you was one thing but watching her in all her self assured confidence was extremely attractive. Just thinking about it inspired some interesting feelings within you.

Feelings that absolutely had nothing to do with you wanting her to push you against a wall and have her way with you.

Oh, damn it. You were back to square one. Again. You should really stop thinking about her. And besides you had an ill advised job to do right now.

You readjusted the strap of your duffel bag as you crossed the hallway to knock on Winn’s door. You only had to wait for a second or two before he opened it. Clearly he’d been a little too excited about the secretive nature of the task at hand.

“Don’t you look excited.” You commented.

He beamed. “It’s kind of cool isn’t it? It feels like underground training.”

You sighed and motioned him to follow after you. “Come on. Lena gets grumpy when she’s irritated from waiting.”

“You sound like you’re used to this.”

You smiled secretively. “I may have done this before.”

“No worries.” He said as he raised his hand as if to inspire confidence. “I won’t tell anyone. Wouldn’t want either of you to get in trouble with your coaches.”

You both reached the stairs and started going down. “Thanks for agreeing to referee for us. We appreciate it.”

He waved it off. “Please. I love you guys, just ask me anything and I’ll do it. Even hide a body if I have to... wait. Is this what this is? Is this a secret cover for a crime you both committed and you’re using me as an accomplice?”

You laughed at Winn’s silly ideas. “We’re talking about Lena here. Trust me, if she’s killed someone, you’d never find the body.”

“Do you think it’s Lucy?” He whispered dramatically.

“As if.” You snorted.

When you reached the ground floor, you were right. You could already sense her irritation from two flights up. She was moving around restlessly, more so because she hated the cold and National City was still in the middle of spring. It wasn’t as bad as the winter or autumn for that matter but Lena was sensitive to any temperature below sixty-two degrees.

But then the way she smiled at you when she saw you easily turned you into putty. You were crushing on her so hard, it’s must’ve been obvious to everybody. Didn’t she realize how easily she had you wrapped around her finger?

“There you are. You certainly took your sweet time.”

You pointed towards Winn. “This guy had to take a shower first.”

“I’m a sweaty guy! I need to take long showers after a day of training!” He protested.

Lena grinned with that effortless charm of hers. The woman could be really charming when she wanted to be. “I’m kidding Winn. I appreciate you doing this for us.”

Winn smiled bashfully. “Anything for the Center’s golden duo.”

You both showed surprise at Winn. “Is that what people call us?”

Winn seemed to be beaming with pride. “You didn’t know? You’re both sort of this amazing team. On top of being world class fencers, you’re also super close friends. You’re almost like Thelma and Louise minus the killing and robbing people.”

Lena raised an eyebrow at you. “Oh is that what we are?”

“It’s a lot better than when you were glaring at me from a distance.”

Then she suddenly look down and slowly dragged her eyes back up, as if she were admiring you. For a moment, her eyes darkened and you felt unsteady. “Much better, indeed.”

How was this better? You’d take cold glares any day over smoldering glances that made you shudder.

Also, what was that just now? Since when did Lena start giving you smoldering glances?

“Now let’s get a move on, shall we?” You heard Lena say.

Shake it off, Danvers.

As you walked to the Center, you did everything you could to stop feeling things. Not if you wanted Lena to find out and you definitely didn’t want that. Lena wasn’t dating the type and she was definitely not interested in you. At least she didn’t seem to be.

Right?

You couldn’t get Lena’s intense eyes out of your mind. You convinced yourself that that’s how her eyes usually were.

Because the alternative would undo you and you didn’t want to deal with that. You liked things the way they were. You liked things simple.

You knew for a fact that anything to do with Lena would never be simple.

 


 

Kara

You and Lena had been at for a while. Winn was doing his job and refereeing you both diligently. But he wasn’t keeping score though. You agreed from the very beginning that you wouldn’t keep score. This was just practice and no one was better suited to help Lena train than you.

Eventually, Winn announced that you both had been doing several bouts and were due for a break.

Thank god for Winn’s good judgement because your sweat had been dripping through your mask and your body felt entirely too warm. Lena was the same. She’d been panting hard and her movements had become sluggish. Still, she wasn’t doing too badly. Lena was doing better than good, she was inspiring. Her practice match with Lucy tomorrow would be an absolute piece of cake.

“I’m gonna grab a coffee or something. Do you guys want anything?” Winn asked, clearly looking tired. You didn’t blame him, it was midnight now and he looked like he could use the caffeine.

Lena had to think about it first as she slowly took her mask off before dropping it onto the floor. “I’d go for an Americano. I don’t plan to leave here until I feel confident enough. Could be a long night.”

Winn nodded. “Not too long I hope. Wouldn’t want to work you too hard.” He replied sensibly before looking to you. “As for you, Kara?”

“Just get me some tea. I’d like to sleep when this is all over.”

“Got it.” Winn said as he got up and started walking out of the fencing hall.

His loud steps were the only things you could hear at this time of the night. You even heard it when the heavy doors opened and closed.

Lena immediately walked off to the side and grabbed her water. Her confined hair was damp and her skin glistened from the sweat. It had been a good workout so far and Lena was solid.

“So how do you feel about tomorrow’s practice match?” You asked her.

Lena didn’t seem all too tense about it, she seemed relaxed even. “Better after sparring with you.” She replied with one of her charming smiles.

The unexpected compliment caught you off guard and your heart might have actually skipped a beat. “Flatterer.” You accused her playfully.

“It’s true.” She insisted before her features softened. “You make me feel confident.”

“And why is that?” You asked rather brazenly.

Lena didn’t seem to be deterred nor did she back down. “I feel safe with you. As long as you’re there, I know I’ll be okay.”

You swallowed thickly as your chest tightened. She always knew exactly what to say to make you hope for more.

“No need to butter me up for my help, just buy me dinner and we’ll call it even.” You meant it as a joke but it came out way flirty instead. Oh good lord.

“Is that all it takes?” Lena asked, her voice was as smooth as velvet and you felt tingles run through your spine.

You watched her pull down the zipper of her jacket down to her collarbone, revealing her smooth neck. You immediately ignored how vulnerable that neck looked and tried to look away.

Deciding that she was too hot in her fencing jacket, Lena tried to yank it off of her but the zipper snagged and she couldn’t quite pull it down. “Crap.”

“Here, let me.” You offered as you walked up to her. You removed your gloved and tossed that aside along with your mask. When you made contact with her zipper, you could feel this heat radiating from her body and it wasn’t because of the exercise.

The zipper got caught on the fabric and it might take you some time but it wasn’t a hard fix. The entire time you tried to dislodge it, you could feel Lena’s eyes on you. Her face was too near to yours. The more you thought about how close she was, the harder it became to breathe.

There was something about being in her mere presence that enthralled you. There was this magnetism to her. Lena’s pull was hard to resist and the longer you stood so near her, the more uncertain you became. The scent of cinnamon pervaded your scenes and you started to feel heady. Your own willpower could only handle so much.

You made the mistake of bringing your eyes back up because you caught her staring right at you. Her green eyes were darkened, tinged with something dangerous. Her lips were parted slightly and her cheeks were flushed.

This was the part when you both would awkwardly look away but this time, Lena didn’t. She just kept holding your gaze with this fearlessness. The audacity thrilled you.

The air crackled the longer you kept looking into those gorgeous eyes. The tension was dense and taut, one move and something would just... snap.

You could no longer hold back your thoughts. The feelings you tried so hard to bury were consuming you slowly. You felt like drowning. You couldn’t tear your eyes away from her and you didn’t want to. Your heart was pounding so hard in your chest, you felt like it would burst if something didn’t happen soon.

Could Lena tell from your eyes?

Could she tell how much you wanted her?

“What is it about you...?” Lena asked in a low husky voice, almost like a whisper.

Your hands stopped fiddling with her zipper.

Lena just kept staring at you as if she wanted to kiss you. Was this all in your head or was there something here? Something real.

“Is this because you’re constantly challenging me or is this something else entirely?” Her voice was naught but a whisper. You clung to every word.

You suddenly felt her hands on your waist. She pulled you towards her in an excruciatingly slow pace, her heated gaze never quite leaving yours. “Don’t you know what you do to me?” You heard her say breathlessly.

Lena was starting to close the gap, her eyes were hazy and half-lidded. You senses were on overdrive and your brain was straining to function. You could suddenly feel her hot breath on your skin, on your lips, like a ghost of a promise.

“What are you doing?” Your own voice was unrecognizable. It was breathy and raw.

Lena paused briefly. Her lips were so close you could almost taste her. Just the idea of her finally claiming you set your body aflame and you knew you wouldn’t survive her.

“What I should have done the night I bared my soul to you.”

Her hands slid slowly slid up to your hips and your body tingled wherever she touched. Lena’s lips brushed against yours and all rational thought ceased.

You were about to kiss her when you heard the loud telltale footsteps of Winn.

Without another word, you both moved away from each other in a fit of panic. Your heart was beating so fast, it was as if you had just run a marathon. Glancing over at Lena, she looked pretty shaken herself.

What the hell just happened?

There was just no mistaking it now. You were just imagining things, this was real. You stared at Lena, mouth agape as the reality of it all slammed into you like a high speed train.

Lena just tried to kiss you.

You could barely wrap your head around it but if you wanted a clear confirmation, this was it.

Holy crap.

“Hey guys, the cafe across the street closed early. Can I get you guys anything from the convenience store instead?” Winn asked.

You liked Winn but you had never hated him more than you did right now. Just a minute longer and who knows what would have happened between you and Lena. But as frustrated as you were with Winn, you couldn’t seem to tear your eyes away from Lena.

Despite everything, all you could think about was the feeling of her lips brushing against yours and how beautiful Lena looked right now. Her cheeks were flushed—not from the exercise— and she kept that smoldering gaze of hers fixed firmly upon you.

“It’s late, maybe we should just call it a night. I doubt more sparring would do me any good at this point.” Lena told him a little too quickly.

Winn wholeheartedly agreed. At least, he just seemed happy enough to finally go home.

You and Lena packed up quickly and while things were awkward, the growing tension between you two never quite left.

As the three of you walked back home, you and Lena stayed far away from each other. Winn didn’t seem to notice, he was too tired to pay attention. But even with the distance, you could somehow still feel her presence as strongly as ever. She was trailing behind you but you could feel her eyes on you, making the hairs on your neck rise.

Winn went up the stairs first as soon as the three of you got to the lobby, leaving you and Lena all alone. As you climbed the steps alongside her, you felt like you were at the cusp of something. Just one move and everything would change.

When you both reached your floor, you both simply lingered by the stairs. Recognition passed between you two and neither of you were willing to leave just yet. Lena’s eyes flicked down to your lips and you knew that it was dangerous for you to stick around. Your hands were barely touching as you both held onto the rail. With great trepidation, Lena lightly brushed her fingers against yours. The physical contact was so gentle and featherlight.

There was a choice to be made here.

To stay or go.

Inhaling a shaken breath, you made a decision. Lena kept looking at you with this unsaid question and you were far too tempted to give her an answer.

You pulled your hand away from hers and your jaw clenched. “Goodnight, Lena.”

You walked away before she could pull you in with that irresistible magnetism of hers. You could be making a mistake but your gut was telling you that now wasn’t the time.

You wanted her badly but the timing didn’t feel right. When you kissed her, you wanted it to be on your own terms. Not like this. Not when there were too many unsaid things and both of you were plagued with so many uncertainties.

When you kissed her, you wanted to be certain. To be sure.

“Goodnight, Kara.” You heard her reply, her sonorous voice rolling over you like honey.

Once you were back within the safe confines of your apartment, you leaned against the door and sighed. Your heart was still pounding so fast and there was this searing heat rushing through your veins. Your mind kept replaying that moment in the fencing hall over and over again.

When you finally went to bed, you dreamt of the same scene.

Except this time, there were no interruptions. When you woke up the next morning, you had to take a cold shower almost immediately. Anything to stop you from craving her with this startling level of need and desperation.

Chapter Text

Lena

There were too many things for you to worry about today. Too bad your brain had other plans for you.

Kara Danvers had become the sole occupant of your every waking thought and it was inconveniencing you.

Greatly.

You were supposed to be getting ready for your big practice match. This match was going to make or break you. It was the first real step in ensuring you still had a future in this sport. And yet somehow, your brain decided that last night was far more important than this big thing you had to.

Though then again, it was sort of your fault.

Because you tried to kiss her.

Well, you weren’t even trying. You were already halfway there when Winn came back sooner than expected. Who knows what could have happened if the coffee shop didn’t close so early.

A thought flashed through your brain and you bit your lip in a weak attempt to suppress an audible groan. Yeah, you knew exactly what would happen. Specifically, what you’d love to do with her. To her.

She just looked so breathtakingly beautiful in that moment. Her skin was flushed from the exercise, her gorgeous blonde hair was a mess, her blue eyes were clear and bright. Underneath the harsh light of the practice room, you couldn’t look away. Hell, you could barely think.

You just had to kiss her then and there. You needed to know what those lips tasted like. It felt like the only option you had.

If you closed your eyes, you could easily remember the feel of her lips barely touching yours. Her hot breath lightly caressing your skin. The heat radiating from her body. The strangely heady scent of fresh strawberries in the summer.

“Shit.” You swore aloud as you turned over in your bed for the hundredth time.

How could you possibly sleep in this condition knowing full well that if you actually drifted off, you’d dream about her?

But it wasn’t merely the memory of her that kept you up. It was the crippling guilt you felt.

The guilt had started eating away at you once you returned to your apartment last night. You were too busy being enamored with her to actually see the consequences. You never realized how off limits she was until you sat down and thought about it.

Firstly, the Olympics was in four months. This was a distraction of biblical proportions and you definitely didn’t need it right now.

And secondly, she was Kara. The same wonderful Kara Danvers who helped drag you out of your hole and made you want to be better. One smile from her and you were an absolute goner. The power she held over you was frightening yet addictive. You’d never been this attracted to another human being in your life.

But you also knew who you were. You were all too aware of the bad ugly parts of you and you didn’t want that for her. Your relationship with her was complicated and you just knew for a fact that you wouldn’t be good for her.

So you decided that what you wanted didn’t matter. The simple truth was that she deserved more than you could give her right now. All you had to offer was a shell of a woman trying to get back onto her feet; a woman who would only hold her back.

You flipped over once more and simply shoved your head onto the pillow. Your stomach twisted and turned and mind was chaos itself. The discord in your heart was too much to bear.

Sadly, you were helpless in the face of it all. Sleep eventually did claim you the moment you actually stopped trying to think. Some cosmic deity out there must’ve taken pity on you and decided to grant you some respite from your thoughts.

It wasn’t much of a mercy however because your alarm woke you up a mere three hours later, resulting in a version of you who was groggy and barely there.

This morning was going to be so much fun.

You sat up on your new bed and just stared at your empty room, knowing full well that the woman you couldn’t stop thinking about was one floor below you. You felt so lonely up here.

Because you just moved in, everything in your apartment was merely the bare minimum. There wasn’t a whole lot of personality to it, not like Kara’s. Her place was so warm and it had her written all over it. It was times like these that you missed living downstairs and that you were reminded of just how much you missed her.

Missing Kara Danvers wasn’t an outright punch in the gut or someone yanking your heart out your chest. It was a softer, more subtle ache. The kind that creeps up on you in ungodly hours of the morning. You could be doing something as simple as getting the laundry done and you would miss her. It was as if she had left phantom traces of herself on you that couldn’t be erased.

Before you knew it, she had claimed you utterly and completely. Whether it was her intention to do so was unclear, though as you recall she did try to kiss you back.

You finally urged yourself to get off the bed. You refused to be late and give Lucy Lane more reasons to dislike you. Her blatant ill will was annoying enough to deal with as it is but having her as your neighbor was an entirely different beast. Fortunately, you hadn’t had the distinct pleasure of crossing paths with her yet.

So many things were running through your mind and not even a hot shower could clear things up for you. Your brain was just racing a mile a minute. By the time you were all dressed and ready to leave, you simply stood in front of the door just to have a moment to yourself.

You took in a deep breath before leaving altogether.

It didn’t matter what state you were in. You’d persevere. You always did.

 


 

Kara 

The last thing you wanted was to bump into the one person you didn’t want to see today. It wasn’t supposed to be hard. There were tons of people at the Center and she was but one person. Avoiding her was supposed to be a piece of cake.

And you just had to bump into her in the public restroom. The goddamn restroom. How cliched was that?

Yesterday, you walked away from Lena thinking you had the all the power here. That not kissing her was one hundred percent your conscious decision. But when you saw her pacing in front of the restroom mirrors, you immediately froze and realized you had no power at all.

It was one thing to bump into her, it was another to be alone with her.

What you wouldn’t give to not be alone with her right now.

When Lena’s cool green eyes landed on you, it was like you were back there again. To anyone else, her face was cool and she was being standoffish. But to you? She was looking at you so intensely, you had no idea how you were still standing.

For the longest time, the two of you just stood there staring at each other. Unmoving.

All you wanted to right now was to cross the room and kiss her like crazy but now wasn’t the time for that. This was just a distraction she didn’t need right now.

Honestly, the tension between you two could power steam train and you had no idea how the two of you were surviving this before. Has it always been like this?

Lena was the first to tear herself away from whatever was happening here. She went back to the sink and started to nervously splash her face with water. You watched her do this and you realized that her hands were shaking.

“You nervous?”

Lena turned off the faucet and stared into the mirror with a steely gaze. You noticed her jaw clench and tighten. “Maybe.”

“Don’t be. You’ll be fine.”

Slowly, she turned back towards you and the way she looked at you knocked the wind right out of your lungs. “I’m not worried about Lucy Lane.”

“Oh.”

“Kara, about last night...”

You bit your lip and fixed your eyes upon the ground. “No.”

Lena seemed taken aback by your response and didn’t quite know what to say to that.

“You should be worried about Lucy. This practice match has too much at stake for you to be worrying about this... this trivial thing.” You grounded out, immediately regretting your choice of words.

Her expression darkened and she suddenly closed herself off. This was a Lena you knew well, after all you did meet her this way. There was this sharp pang in your chest and this deep sadness gripped you. You never thought she’d look at you this way again. “So this is all just trivial to you?”

You ran a hand through your hair in frustration. “Look, that came out wrong. I’m just telling you that I’m not the one you should be worrying about. Focus on what you need to do.”

The words spilling out of your mouth were so wrong but you didn’t know how to articulate what you felt. You just wanted to keep her focused. This match was too important and you didn’t want to be the reason why she messed up today.

“Do you think I want to be this way right now? Fifteen minutes from now, I’ll be fencing for my future and yet all I can think about is you.” Lena fired back.

You wisely kept your mouth shut but you nearly buckled under the weight of those words.

Then she looked wildly conflicted again. Her face briefly betrayed what she felt and she seemed to be lost. “I can’t do this right now. I’m under enough pressure as it is and you’re not helping.”

The way she was looking at you broke your heart. What you felt didn’t matter. This was all about Lena right now and she needed you. Carefully, you took slow strides towards her and gently took her hand into yours. She stiffened at first but it didn’t take long before she gave in.

You bought her hand up to your lips and gently kissed her knuckles, lavishing them with all the affection you had to give. Lena just stared at you, wide eyed and confused. “I’m sorry, Lena. Forgive me.”

Lena appears visibly shaken as she pulled her hand away. She refused to meet your eyes. “Please don’t.”

Oh god, you just kept messing up today didn’t you?

Her cheeks flushed. “No I mean. I didn’t hate it but I definitely did not need that right now. Thinking about you is bad enough already but...”

You only felt disappointed in yourself. Why did it feel like you just made things worse? “No, I totally get it.”

Lena inhaled sharply. “We’ll talk about this later.”

“Of course.”

Not quite knowing what to do with herself, Lena awkwardly walked around you and tried to exit the restroom. She refused to meet your gaze every step of the way.

“Lena?”

She stopped by the door, her back facing you. “Yes?”

“Good luck.”

She nodded in acknowledgment before leaving altogether. When she was completely gone, you immediately leaned against the wall and breathed in deep. You hadn’t realized how bereft you were of air until she was gone.

When you walked back into the fencing hall, you were still a little shaken up. You took your seat next to your sister and Maggie feeling all kinds of restless.

“You okay? You were in the bathroom for a while.” Alex asked you with that concerned big sister voice of hers.

You nodded a little too abruptly. “I’m fine.”

Alex clearly didn’t believe you but she didn’t push, deciding to give you some space instead. “Don’t worry about her, she’ll be okay.”

“I know.” You replied as you started to fiddle with your fingers.

You weren’t worried about her per se. You were more worried about having to talk to her after all this.

Not a lot of things terrified you but this rated pretty high on your list of absolutely terrifying things. You just knew that the only thing you wanted was to keep her in her life no matter what.

You didn’t want to lose her.

You couldn’t lose her.

 


 

Lena

It had been a while since you felt this rush of adrenaline. You had been away from competing for too long and while this was a practice match, the stakes were just as high.

You looked at the benchers and took the crowd in. All the big important people showed up. Everyone who was someone was here. Big important crowds usually didn’t intimidate you but when you had a lot of things to prove, the pressure could be a little daunting.

After scanning the crowd, you found the three people who would seal your fate. Morgan Edge looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here while both Cat Grant and Maxwell Lord seemed to be heavily invested in this practice match.

Informal as this match was, once people in the Center caught wind of it, everyone just decided to show up.

You sat down on a bench near your side of the strip and tried to clear your head. Without even thinking about it, your hand was resting on your right knee and you’d been making this circular soothing motion. You weren’t in pain or anything. Rather, your knee actually felt better than ever.

It’s just that the last time you did something like this, you found yourself crumbling onto the ground.

“Don’t give up on me now you hear me...?” you murmured quietly. It was odd of you to speak directly to your knee but it made you feel better.

Corben finally walked up to you, he was the last person to arrive. You didn’t bother telling him about your little practice match with Lucy Lane. Your first instinct was to brace yourself knowing he’d be angry with you. Ordinarily, this was the sort of thing that pissed him off.

But when he finally approached you, he seemed calm and collected. He sat next to you and simply stared ahead. “You ready for this?”

“Ready enough.”

“It’s not like you to be unprepared.” Corben remarked.

You sighed. “I have a lot on my mind.”

“Never stopped you before.”

His face was still unreadable but he didn’t seem to be angry with you. “What if I’ve changed and I’m not that person anymore?”

Corben glanced at you. “Bullshit.”

That certainly caught you off guard.

The corner of his mouth twitched and this was the closest he’d ever been to an actual honest to goodness smile. “You’re the same fencer you’ve always been. Difference is that you’re a slightly better human being now.”

“And how would you know that?” You nudged him with your shoulder, a playful smile on your face.

“You seem happier lately. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you like this. I’m glad.”

Damn it, Corben was rarely the encouraging sort. He was a big fan of tough love, preferring to let you learn things the hard way. But when he did offer you kind words, they never failed to hit you hard.

“Lex and I have been worried about you ever since Lionel died. He said you’d use fencing to cope and he was right.”

“Lex said that?”

“Uh-huh.”

You had no idea. Ever since your father died, you’d been so wrapped up in yourself. You could barely see what was happening around you. Fencing kept you anchored to the ground but you relied on it too much, buried yourself in it even.

Coming to National City felt a lot like finally coming up for air after being underwater for so long. You could finally breathe again and you could see that you hadn’t drifted off to unknown waters.

“I should give him a call him one of these days. Let him know I’m still alive and whatnot.” You decided.

“He’d like that but you know he’d never admit it.” Corben joked.

It was around then that Hank Henshaw walked up to you and signaled for to wrap it up. It was finally time for the practice match. You nodded in acknowledgement before standing up and looking to Corben.

“Any advice, coach?”

“You already know what to do.” He replied with as much warmth as he was capable of mustering. Which was to say, not a lot, but you appreciated it.

“That’s great advice, John.” You replied sarcastically.

“Nothing I say now can dictate what you’ll do from here on out. Good luck, Lena.” He replied so matter-of-factly it was a little annoying but also kind of endearing.

You walked up to the strip with your mask under your arm and your Sabre in hand. Lucy did the same and the two of you just stood there, eyeing the other. The noise from the crowd died down and adrenaline began to course through your veins.

“Glad to see you didn’t run off and hide.” You goaded her with a smirk.

She scowled. “Like you, I have things I need to prove.”

“Good.” You replied with amusement. “I’m glad you’re taking this seriously.”

“Of course I am. Who do you take me for?”

You laughed. “I’ll find out soon enough. Fastest way to know a person is to fence them.”

“Who says that?” Lucy immediately retorted, she looked baffled.

Henshaw interrupted both of you to begin the match. Without another word, you both saluted the crowd before slipping on your masks. After testing the machines by poking each other with the tips of your blades, it was time.

Your grip was loose, your shoulders relaxed, and your mind was clear.

You were ready.

“En-Garde, pret, allez!”

 


 

Kara

Lena was off to a shaky start but this wasn’t completely out of the norm for her. You knew she liked to poke and prod first before she started scoring touches. Still, her movements were worrying. Lena was dragging her feet a little and her sword arm could be faster.

She still had four more months of training until the Olympics, time was of the essence now.

The score was sitting at around 5-3 right now with Lucy in the lead. Despite the obvious two-point lead, any veteran fencer would know that Lena was fully in control. She was learning Lucy’s movements while managing the score. This was definitely high level play.

Honestly, you felt pretty excited. It had been a while since you found yourself on the edge of your seat. Everyone here was dying to know if Lena was every bit the fencer they knew her to be.

The next bout was exhilarating. Lena had been playing around for a while but she finally launched a full out offensive. Suddenly, all her movements grew sharper and she pushed Lucy to edge.

You watched Lena’s attack fall short and your sister’s hand immediately grabbed at your thigh from the suspense.

“No, watch.” You reassured her.

Lucy immediately used this opening to retaliate but quick footwork allowed Lena to dodge completely. Pushing off her back leg, Lena attacked with an explosive lunge and the machine sounded off.

“See?” You grinned.

Alex exhaled in relief. “Oh thank god. I was worried there for a second.”

“You’re really into it huh?” You teased her.

Alex shrugged sheepishly. “I have to say, I understand why you were so obsessed with Lena when you were younger. She fences beautifully, it’s hard to look away.”

Nothing could have been more true. Lena’s fencing was still a thing of beauty. She was magnetic and everyone here was her captive audience. Every move, every lunge was perfection itself. Watching her this way made your heart feel a lot of things you’d rather not name at the moment.

Lena had spent far too much time doubting herself but if only she could see herself now.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of that move more times than I can count. I always find myself falling for it every time. She’s just that good.” You said proudly.

From her on out, the match changed. Lucy seemed to pick up the pace and she was starting to give Lena a hard time. The two hadn’t fenced each other before and even you weren’t sure how this was going to turn out.

Lucy Lane was one of the quicker Sabreurs you knew. While Lena’s footwork was stable, Lucy’s was swift. You were naturally athletic so it didn’t matter if Lucy was faster than you because you could easily outmaneuver her. But with Lena, there was a very real possibility that Lucy could dodge every single attack once she started learning Lena’s movements and rhythm.

Once Lucy really got going, it’s like she barely touched the ground. Then there was her bladework, it was just a swift and light as her footwork. Sometimes she’d score a touch and you wouldn’t know it until you heard the machine sound off. Her biggest flaw was that her movements were far too readable.

Someone as tactical and experienced as Lena would see all of her moves from a mile away.

So far, Lena seemed to be doing just fine predicting Lucy’s every move. What was amazing was that Lucy had no idea Lena was toying with her.

Lucy’s every action was dictated by Lena and it was so artfully done it was so exhilarating to watch. The score finally hit the eight point mark with Lena in the lead and Lucy struggling to follow.

Once the break commenced, the room just launched into a collective sound of murmurs and heated discussions. Everyone was pretty hyped over the match, especially the younger fencers. It was such a high level match, fourteen year old you would have given anything to see this up close.

You watched Lena accept a towel from Corben and casually chat with him while Lucy was shooting off glares in Lena’s direction.

Suddenly, Lena decided to search the crowd and she found you. A strange unsetting feeling passed between you two the longer she held your gaze. When she tore her eyes away, you felt like a huge weight came off your shoulders.

Why did you have a bad feeling about this?

Not about the match but about you and her?

 


 

Lena

You were absolutely pissed off.

How dare she squander her potential like this? As the match drew on longer and longer, the more annoyed and irritated you felt with her.

Lucy Lane has so much potential and she was merely happy staying like this? Wasn’t she frustrated? You’d be out of your mind if you were in her shoes.

She could easily traverse the whole length of the Piste in half the time it took most people, including you. That’s how quick she was and she was also incredibly light on her feet. With footwork that springy, it was so easy for her to switch from advancing to retreating.

Her bladework was also tricky, indicating that she had a pretty good brain in that head of hers.

But of course, you were still better. You realized quickly that your own fears were unfounded as you found yourself being able to read her with great ease. It was like everything she did was in slow motion. All you had to do was trust in the instincts you spent the last nineteen years honing.

It was exactly like riding a bike. Maybe you’d be scared of falling off of it after years of having not ridden one but once you started pedaling, there was nothing to worry about.

Nineteen years of fencing wasn’t going to disappear just because you were out of a game for a second there. This was something you could never unlearn.

On this next bout, somehow you just knew she was going to try and feint. Lucy was slowly getting more and more daring with her attacks.

Lucy was on the offensive, her quick footwork forced you to keep your distance. You saw her blade coming in from the right but she’d probably try and get you on the left. She lunged at you fast and you barely had time to decide where to parry. Instincts told you to move into a parry-four.

Her blade connected solidly with your guard resulting in a sharp metallic clang. You made a riposte before she could retreat earning the touch, the edge of your blade landing on her mask.

“8-13” you heard Henshaw announce after gesturing with his hands.

Lucy took of her mask in frustration and saw the anger in her eyes. You could tell she was feeling the pressure.

Come to think of it, you felt light. So many things were weighing on your earlier today but now? You felt free and unburdened. The complete opposite of the frustrated woman standing in front of you.

When was the last time you felt this way from fencing?

You glanced at the crowd once more and found Kara watching the game pretty intently. She looked adorable with that little scrunch between her eyebrows and that pout on her face.

Of course, you thought.

She taught you how love this sport again. Fencing was no longer a prison for you, not with her around.

Two more touches and everyone would know you were here to stay.

The next two bouts flew by quickly and while your mind was focused on the task at hand, you felt like you didn’t have to think too much. Your body knew exactly what to do. Everything you did was governed by pure instinct.

Corben was right.

You were the same fencer you’d always been. You just needed to have a little bit more faith in yourself.

Before you knew it, you had scored the winning touch after a flurry of quick and clever bladework. The moment it registered in your brain that you had just won, you threw your mask onto the ground and yelled your heart out.

The fencing hall exploded into cheers and collective applause. It was a satisfying victory and you reveled in it. You’d had more challenging matches before but it had been a while since you felt this way.

You felt content.

You were actually happy with yourself for once. This was so much better than simply being at the top.

You looked to Lucy to shake hands with her in the name of sportsmanship. She looked fairly distraught from losing. Absentmindedly, she shook your hand and tried to leave the fencing hall altogether.

“Hey, wait.” You called out to her.

Lucy didn’t look pleased to see you, in fact she looked like she was bracing herself. “What is it?” She asked, her voice was dull and deadpan.

“Listen... Lucy.” You decided to be on first name basis with her. If she was going to be your teammate, you’d feel better being a little chummy with her. “You have a real solid foundation here. If you really wanted to, you could easily be faster than Kara and I combined.”

Lucy’s eyes widened when she realized you were complimenting her. Did she expect you to gloat or something? You loved a bit of good competition but you would never put another athlete down for no reason.

“Bottom line is that you’re really good Lucy. I’m looking forward to fencing with you at Rio. I’ll be watching your back in the team event.”

“Thank you.” Was all Lucy could say. She looked conflicted and a little bit lost. Maybe you could nudge her in the right direction.

“That frustration you feel right now? Hold onto it. Use it. Motivate yourself to be better because that feeling won’t go away unless you do something about it.”

She nodded slowly. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“See you at training.” You said in finality.

Lucy continued to eye you nervously but you could already see it in her eyes. There was determination there. You knew exactly what she felt, after all you’d been there before. She just needed a push.

“You too.” She replied before walked off in the opposite direction, presumably to wallow in her defeat for a little bit.

As soon as you turned around to extricate yourself from your gear, you were nearly assaulted by a whole slew of people. Winn, Imra, Alex, Maggie, and Sam were all down here to congratulate you. Corben was keeping his distant, very much like a proud dad.

This was new.

You never really had a big support group before. It was usually just Corben and your brother.

This was the first time you had a crowd greet you after a match before. This felt nice. It was a good reminder that for once in your life, you actually had a group of friends.

You weren’t alone. You were part of something.

“Back to fine form, I see. Congratulations, Luthor.” Imra was the first to speak. One former rank one to another.

Sam chimed. “I never really understood the hype about you until today. You were amazing, Lena.”

You laughed in response. “Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Alex raised her hand comically. “I believed in you. Do I get brownie points for that?”

“Please.” You scoffed. “You were my doctor, it doesn’t count. Not believing in me would be a direct insult to yourself.”

“You bring up an excellent point.” Alex conceded without putting much of a fight.

Winn suddenly slung his arm around you in a friendly gesture. On a normal day, you would have shoved him off but you decided to let it go for today. He was proud of you. Also, Winn had become a surprisingly good friend of yours. “Come on, Lena. Take us out for free drinks or something, we gotta celebrate!”

You grinned. “I’ll take that under advisement.”

When your friends stopped fawning all over you like a trophy, you realized that Kara wasn’t around. You looked around and she clearly had left.

It was a little disheartening not seeing her here but you mostly felt relieved. You’d been dreading having this conversation with her ever since you woke up this morning.

Catching your disappointed expression, Maggie pointed towards the exit. “If you’re looking for Kara, she said she’d go out for some fresh air. She’s probably just standing outside.”

“Oh.”

Everyone just started exchanging looks and it felt rather ominous. It was Sam who stepped forward. She gave you a literal push towards the door. “It’s okay. Just go.”

Without another word, you ran off to meet her. You could only imagine what this looked like to your friends but you didn’t care anymore.

A mistake had been made and you needed to set things right.

 


 

Kara

Your heart was pounding a mile a minute and stepping outside for some fresh air didn’t help at all. Watching Lena fence made you forget about the fact that you were both due for a life-altering talk. The kind that would change things permanently, for better or for worse.

But there was no way you could misconstrue things at this point.

Lena had been very clear yesterday when she pulled you in by the waist and brushed her lips against yours, fully ready to kiss you like you wanted her to.

And if you weren’t being obvious about it already, you desperately wanted her too.

You just wanted some clarity.

You wanted to hear the words straight from her mouth. You wanted her to acknowledge that there was something between you two, something shockingly powerful and very much real.

Unfortunately, the timing was just damn awful. With four months left until the Olympics, it was a terrible time to start anything. This... attraction was a definite distraction that you both couldn’t afford right now. Your life was so hectic and four months wasn’t actually a whole lot of time.

The doors suddenly burst open and Lena shot out like a gust of wind. For a moment, she frantically searched around until she spotted you. She was still dressed in full fencing gear but she had her zipper pulled down to her chest, exposing her inner shirt. It would also seem that she had gotten rid of her breastplate and plastron.

You both just stood there, unable to move or speak. Then with great trepidation, Lena took slow strides towards you and stop a mere foot away from you. You could already feel the heat radiating from her body and you found yourself involuntarily swaying towards her.

“Congratulations by the way. You were brilliant.” You told her in an attempt to break the ice.

Her face was unreadable and her eyes were muddled. You were in for a difficult conversation. “Thank you.”

You shifted awkwardly where you stood and tentatively met her gaze. Your heart continued to pound away in your chest and you could feel yourself tensing up. “You wanted to talk?”

She nodded slowly. “I did.”

“Okay. Then let’s talk.”

Fear flashed across her face and she visibly swallowed. Clearly she was nervous too. “So about yesterday...”

You waited for her to explain. After all the ball was in her court. Every since you started to feel all this, it had always been in her court. Lena had so much power over you, did she not realize how easy it would be for her to undo you?

“Do you think we could just forget about it?”

The words stopped you cold and a different kind of ache occupied your chest. Lena looked inscrutable and it pained you not knowing what was going through that head of hers. What was she thinking?

“Lena. You tried to kiss me.” You pointed out with gritted teeth, you felt your temper slowly start to rise.

Her face scrunched as if she had just eaten something distasteful. “And that was my mistake... I had a momentary lapse of judgement and I took advantage of you. It won’t happen again.”

Is that what she thought it was?

Jesus Christ.

“Kara, are you angry with me?” She asked you. Her voice remained steady but there was this undercurrent of fear running beneath it. She appeared calm but there was real panic in her eyes.

“Am I angry with you?” You repeated the words slowly, drawing out the syllables. “What do you think?”

Lena’s poker face slipped and you caught a glimpse of the scared vulnerable woman. “You must be angry with me... I did something I shouldn’t have.”

Why couldn’t she just see that all you wanted was her? Flaws and everything. All the good and ugly parts. Did she think so little of herself that she decided that your feelings needed protecting from her?

“And what did you do exactly?” You asked, trying to pry the truth out of her.

She seemed to be physically pained by the question. “Must you make me say it?”

You bit your lip and felt nothing but frustration. She could be so infuriating when she wanted to be. “You haven’t been making sense since the beginning of this conversation. You’ll have to forgive me for wanting some actual honesty from you.”

“I tried to kiss you.” She stated as if that explained everything.

You narrowed her eyes at her. “No, I think there’s more to it than just that.”

“Is there...?” She asked in an attempt to be vague and unhelpful.

You inched towards her slightly and her eyes darkened. For the briefest of moments, her gaze flitted downward and you knew she was staring at your mouth. “You tell me, Lena.”

Lena sucked in a shaken breath. “Kara, what are you trying to do?”

Your gaze drifted down to her lips unabashedly, making your intentions clear. “I’m trying to drag the goddamn truth out of you for once.”

She hesitated before speaking. “There’s nothing to say.”

Without fear or doubt, you brought your hand up and carefully placed it against her beating chest. You heard Lena inhale sharply when you did so and you easily felt how fast her heart was racing beneath your touch. Lena’s cheeks looked flushed and somehow you knew this was no longer related to her recent physical activity.

“Then what is this Lena? Tell me you feel this too.”

She didn’t respond.

You dragged your eyes back up to hers and they looked hazy with an emotion you were well acquainted with. With your other hand, you took her hand into yours and placed it against your chest. You knew your heart was beating erratically too. Lena’s sucked in a shaken breath upon contact.

“Do you feel this, Lena? This is what you do to me.”

She just kept looking at you with this terrified expression. “Kara, please.” She pleaded, there was silent request hidden in her plea. A request to let the truth stay buried.

“Lena, I get that you’re scared. But is it so terrifying to you that maybe... just maybe... I might want you too?”

Her eyes widened and the steely mask she put on slipped away. The sudden effusion of emotion took your breath away.

“Did you even consider how I felt or did you just decide for me?” You accused her.

She looked guilty and immediately looked away. On another day, you’d find her adorable for looking so guilty about it.

Lena jerked her hand away from you and you were forced to do the same. She still appeared to be at war with herself.

“Ask me something easier.” She replied quietly.

You frowned. “Why are you avoiding this?”

“And why are you trying to make this into something it’s not?” She fired back with another question.

Your eyebrows furrowed and a mixture of hurt and anger nestled inside your chest. Of all the woman you had to be painfully attracted to, you had to pick the brilliant but difficult one.

“I don’t even know what this is.”

Lena anxiously bit her lip and she sighed aloud. “It doesn’t have to be anything. Why can’t you just leave this alone?”

“I can’t leave this alone when you’re being so freaking stubborn.”

She stared you down for the longest time before she made the conscious decision to walk away from this. You watched her finally take a step back from you.

“Why can’t you understand, Kara? I don’t want to lose you... I’ve had a glimpse of what that’s like and it’s awful. I never want to feel that way again.”

“You don’t have to lose me.” You argued.

Lena stood her ground. “This will only end with me hurting you and I can’t bear the thought of it.”

Before you could get another word in, Lena ran off. She disappeared back into the Center and you were none too inclined to follow her.

You kicked the wall behind you in great exasperation and resisted the urge to yell.

Stubborn, infuriating, and impossible woman.

Then you leaned against the wall and sighed, your heart practically bursting in your chest with all kinds of confusing feelings.

Stubborn, infuriating, and wonderful woman.

“Fine, be that way.” You muttered under your breath as you made angry stomps down the stairs.

You took one last look at the large heavy entrance to the Center and briefly contemplated going after her. After a beat had passed, you decided that you were too irritated right now to go and talk some sense into her.

She made her choice, now she was going to have to live with it.

Of course, you had absolute no intention of backing down quietly.