The office was closed on Christmas Eve, or rather, it should’ve been, with only the security guards in the downstairs lobby and the janitors coming in early that morning to clean up before the holidays really started, yet Kara had managed to convince one of the guards to let her in, flashing her L-Corp employee ID to the heavyset man that had wandered over to the door to shoo her away. After a few moments of deliberation, during which Kara stood outside, shoulders hunched against the lashing rain as water ran down her face in rivulets, raindrops obscuring her vision as they peppered the lenses of her fake glasses, the guard sighed and let her inside.
It was warm, the vents letting in a flood of warm air that hit Kara like a brick wall as she scuffed her feet on the mat and left a trail of water towards the elevator bank as she pushed the button to call it down, waving her thanks to the security guard, who had reseated himself behind a desk of computer screens, picking up a comic book and blatantly ignoring her interruption. Wiping her face on the sleeve of her coat, she waited for the doors to open and stepped inside, pushing the button for her floor.
She worked in the Research and Development department of L-Corp as a lab technician, mostly focused on biology, spending hours looking at DNA sequences on a computer screen as she assisted the biotechnologist with her work. It was just one of the many departments in the soaring office building, and she was low on the chain of command. Still, her floor had a good view of the sprawling city splayed out before her, being so high up, and luckily for Kara, her desk was right near one of the windows.
The elevator dinged a few moments later, as she slowly dripped a growing puddle onto the floor, and she stepped out into the empty floor, following the familiar path past labs and storerooms, conference rooms and private offices, towards the open plan area full of neat rows of desks, for those who weren’t yet important enough to warrant their own office. Kara was determined to get her own one day. She’d been at L-Corp for three years now, and was gunning for a promotion. Maybe she’d even be allowed to undertake her own project, if someone took enough notice of her work, or at least give her something more challenging than running information through computer software, compiling data for higher ups to peruse whenever they got around to it. Still, she enjoyed her work, and she enjoyed the research that L-Corp conducted - not just in her department, but in all the others too - making friends elsewhere, listening to their gossip from their own floors and projects. Everything was always so new and exciting, and even now, the novelty hadn’t worn off yet.
The lights were off for the main area, and she flicked the switch, bathing the room in a bright, fluorescent glow, taking in the darkening sky outside as steely grey storm clouds crowded the sky, the rain pounding against the full length windows while tiny pinpricks of lights glowed down below in the city. Rolling her shoulders, she made for her desk, cracking her fingers before booting up her computer and typing in her login details, slipping a USB into the port and selecting all of the files she needed. Spinning in her chair, she waited for the files she needed to download, fiddling with a puzzle toy Alex had bought for her to keep her fidgety hands distracted while her mind raced on, and Kara looked around the empty office.
It was strange, being there so late, when everyone else had stayed home. It was usually full of the hum of conversation, printers spitting out paper with freshly drying ink, spoons clinking against the side of mugs as the air filled with the smell of fresh coffee, and the homemade muffins that a new intern, Nia, liked to bring in on Monday’s. Kara was especially partial to her apple and cinnamon ones, and was secretly hoping that she made some to bring to Alex’s tonight, having invited her over when she’d heard that she’d be spending it alone. The thought of food and company at her sister’s made Kara glance down at her watch, noting that she had a little over an hour until it reached seven. It was plenty of time to print off the work she’d forgotten to take home with her and catch the bus to her sister’s apartment. She’d even bought a new sweater for the occasion, one with a reindeer on it, with a big red pom-pom for a nose. Looking down at it, she smiled to herself, touching the soft fuzziness of it and jumping slightly when the computer made a sound upon completion of the file download.
Then she printed them all, going over to the row of printers to watch as each page slid out, amassing a pile of them, which she safely tucked into the plastic folder she’d brought with her to protect them from the rain. By the time she was finished, night had completely fallen, the sky so dark outside that she could barely see a thing, only her ghostly reflection staring back at her in the window. A low rumble of thunder sounded distantly, and she grimaced at the thought of heading back out into the rain. It didn’t sound like it was going to let up anytime soon.
With a sigh, Kara gathered up her things, slipped her folder into her bag, alongside a bottle of pinot noir, tidied up her desk and pushed her chair in. Walking back through the orderly rows of desks, her damp shoes squeaking on the tiled floor, she switched the lights off and made her way back towards the elevator, pushing the button to summon it and waiting. It wasn’t a long wait, and she blinked in surprise as the doors parted to reveal someone else already in there, looking equally as startled to find that there was someone else inside the building. Pausing as she stared at the dark haired woman tapping at her phone, Kara realised just who it was standing in the elevator, and found herself speechless as she met a pair of green eyes.
“Oh,” the other woman murmured, as if suddenly realising that she wasn’t on the ground floor. She paused for a moment, before arching an eyebrow, her red lips twitching slightly, as if she was about to smile. “Well? Are you going down?”
Shaking herself out of her surprise, Kara felt her cheeks flush, nervously reaching up to fiddle with her glasses as she let out a nervous laugh. “Oh, um, yes. Yes, I am. Thank you.”
Nodding, the other woman turned her attention back to her phone as Kara stepped in, feeling mousy and timid as she stood off to the left, trying to give her boss as much space as she could. She knew what Lena Luthor looked like, of course, and had caught glimpses of her before when she’d come down to Research and Development to see something for herself, or was hurriedly entering the building in the early hours of the morning, but she’d never been this close to her. Feeling a little on edge, sneaking shy glances to the woman on her right, Kara felt a nervous fluttering in her stomach. She was beautiful, in a cold, aloof way. She didn’t so much as glance at Kara again, her sharp green eyes locked onto the tiny screen, her painted red lips parted slightly as her eyes darted back and forth. As Kara watched, some of her unbound dark hair fell into her face, and her fingers itched to reach up and brush it back for her.
Looking away, Kara tried to fight back a blush, her hands buried in her coat pockets as she watched the numbers slowly tick down. It was a tall building, and the elevator was taking its sweet time, while the silence stretched on. There wasn’t even elevator music to cover up the quiet hum of machinery as they descended.
And then they stopped with a jolt.
The lights guttered for a moment, before dimmer ones came on, and Kara whipped her head up, looking around, before her eyes landed on Lena, who was looking around as well. Meeting Kara’s gaze, she grimaced, her forehead creasing slightly as she frowned. Silently watching as she reached out for the lit panel with the elevator buttons, Kara listened for the thrum as electricity as Lena jammed her finger into the button for the lobby. Nothing happened, and Lena’s jabbing grew more insistent, before she slammed a hand against the metal panelling in frustration.
“Fuck,” she muttered, before running a hand through her dark hair, while Kara watched with wide blue eyes. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Rounding on her, she looked at Kara with a dark expression on her face, and Kara stepped back slightly, taken aback by the fact that the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company was addressing her. Swallowing the lump in her throat as her stomach tied itself into knots, Kara forced herself to meet the hard stare, unsure of whether or not she should speak. Lena saved her the trouble of finding the words to reply to her expletives.
“The power’s gone out,” Lena announced, even though Kara’s sensitive hearing had already led her to that conclusion, “we’re stuck.”
“Oh … okay,” Kara mumbled, unsure if Lena wanted a reply, or whether she was just stating the facts aloud to try and diffuse the panic before it started. “Um … should we call for help?”
Holding her phone up, Lena frowned, squinting up at the screen, before letting out a heavy sigh. “No signal.”
“Oh, um, well I’m sure someone will come. Right?”
Giving her a pointed look, Lena crossed her arms over her chest, and Kara took the time to admire the very expensive looking fur coat she was wearing - a dark grey with the fur collar a matching colour - while she waited for Lena to assure her that yes, someone would come. But the other woman didn’t say anything beyond the uninspiring look, and Kara felt her heart sink. It would’ve been nothing for her to tear through the ceiling of the elevator, if it weren’t for her boss, and she resigned herself to the fact that she’d have to play human for a little while, until they were rescued.
“I hope you’re not claustrophobic,” Lena dourly replied a few moments later, a grim look on her face as she looked around in vain. The backup battery had brought the lights back on, but unless the power came back on, they wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Kara thought it was best to keep it to herself that she was, in fact, scared of small spaces. Of course, she’d have to explain that it was due to the fact that she’d been squeezed into a pod and launched into space, her fate unknown for years , until she landed on Earth. Instead, she stood silently in place, teeth worrying at her bottom lip as she tried to think of a solution.
With a sigh, Lena threw herself down onto the floor of the elevator, heedless of the hundreds of feet that had trampled the floor of it, and leant back against the brassy walls of it, her head tipped back and her eyes closed. Watching her for a few moments, taking in the almost ghostly pallor of her skin, the way her dark lashes fluttered again her high cheekbones, and her way the light made her cheeks look hollow and her eyes almost sunken. There were tired circles ringing her eyes beneath the makeup, and Kara was still staring at her, taking in the tiny scar beneath her eyebrow, and the freckle on her neck, when one of Lena’s eyes snapped open to fixate on her.
Blushing, Kara ducked her head down, fiddling with the strap on her bag as she looked down at the floor, taking in the flecked pattern, as she avoided the other woman’s eyes.
“What’s your name?”
Looking up, her blonde eyebrows rising slightly in surprise, Kara almost looked to see if it was her being addressed, before realising that of course it was; they were the only two in there. She stared at Lena for a few moments, the silence stretching on, before realising that she’d been asked a question. One which required an answer.
“Oh, it’s, uh, Kara. Kara Danvers, ma’am.”
It occurred to her that she should probably shake her hand, the Earth custom for introductions, and she hesitantly took a step forward, extending a hand down to the woman sitting on the floor. With a snort of laughter, Lena gave her an amused look as her lips curled up into a smile, and she reached up to shake Kara’s hand, just once, before dropping it. Gesturing towards the floor opposite her, Lena gave her a wry smile. “A pleasure. Please, won’t you sit?”
Feeling almost as if she was being mocked, Kara paused, before doing as instructed, folding her lithe limbs beneath her and sitting cross-legged, settling her bag down beside her and letting her head fall back against the metal wall. Descending into silence again, they were both left alone with their thoughts. Wondering how long it would be before someone noticed that the power had gone out, and that they were in the elevator, Kara held her wrist up to check the time.
“Got somewhere to be?”
Letting her arm fall back down into her lap, Kara straightened up slightly, eyebrows rising slightly again at the fact that Lena had spoken to her. Giving her a tentative smile, she shrugged half-heartedly. “Dinner at my sister’s place with a few friends.” Nodding, Lena gave him a grim look, before her gaze wandered off again. Feeling a little brave, Kara gently cleared her throat. “You?”
With a laugh, Lena arched an eyebrow, her eyes crinkling at the corners as if Kara had said the funniest thing she’d heard in a while, and she shook her head. “No. God, no. I haven’t had anywhere to be on Christmas Eve in … years.”
Kara was surprised to hear that. She assumed that her boss would always be fully booked, every day of the year. Often, Kara had see her name in the news, at charity events and galas, key speaker at conferences and always being interviewed for her new contributions to science and technology. Surely someone so popular would have plans for Christmas? What about her family? Her friends? Even a business partner surely would’ve extended and invitation to her for some corporate event? Yet she chose to be at work, holed up in her office on the top floor, rather than doing literally anything else.
And then it occurred to Kara that she’d come to the office too. She could’ve gone to Alex’s, opened the bottle of wine before anyone else got there and helped slice cheese and salami, artfully arranging them on platters with fruits and crackers, but instead, she’d come to fetch her forgotten work. Holidays for her were very hit or miss. A lot of the time, Alex got called into work over some emergency, and Kara would be quick to follow, suiting up and flying to the DEO to stop some alien, while their carefully prepared meal turned cold and hard on the kitchen table. This year, at least she’d be able to get some work done once her part was over. Stopping the criminals was easy, and she was just glad she didn’t have to go through the tedious task of processing them and locking them up.
“So … why were you at work?” Lena interrupted her.
A quiet laugh escaped Kara as she gave Kara a smile, “most bosses would be happy that their employees were doing some overtime.” When Lena stared at her expectantly, Kara’s smile dropped slightly. “I was just … getting some work. You know, to catch up on over the holidays, in case I had some spare time.”
Groaning, Lena shook her head, her eyes squeezed shut as she shook with quiet laughter. “No, no, please don’t say that. That’s almost as sad as what I have planned.”
Tilting her head to the side, Kara gave her a curious look. “Why, what’re you doing?”
Eyelids fluttering open, Lena gave her a steady look, a proud tilt to her jaw as if daring Kara to laugh at her. “I’m going to sleep in until noon, eat the meal that my chef prepared for me this morning, and drink a bottle of wine. If I get drunk enough, I might even accept the call off my mother, but that’s a big might.”
“Fun Christmas,” Kara dryly replied.
Shrugging, Lena pursed her lips slightly, before her expression softened and she cracked a smile at her. “I’ve had worse.”
“Well I hate to break it to you, boss, but if we don’t get out of here, this might be the worst one yet.”
“Hmm, I doubt that. There are worse ways to spend Christmas than locked in an elevator with an employee while we both starve. It might actually be an improvement.”
“Oh yeah? And how’s that?” she playfully shot back.
“Because at least I won’t be alone,” Lena murmured, so softly that Kara wasn’t quite sure if she was meant to hear her. The hesitant jokes had dissolved into a serious moment, the smile dying on Kara’s lips as she stared at her boss. She was younger than Kara by a couple of years, and it suddenly struck her that Lena might be more lonely than she was letting on.
The silence hung heavily over them after that, and Kara was keenly aware of the other woman’s presence as the minutes ticked by. She counted Lena’s heartbeat to pass the time, focusing on the steady thud as she looked up at the bright lights, the smell of metal and some chemical cleaner sharp in her nose. She could hear sirens in the distance, and the heartbeat of the security guards far below in the lobby, as well as the lashing rain outside, barely more than a gentle patter to her ears, safely tucked away inside the elevator. Kara could hear the whole city, yet the elevator was so quiet, almost to the point where it was unbearable. It was almost suffocating, making the walls seem closer as her and Lena left each other in peace.
An hour passed before either of them spoke again, with no sight of anyone coming to rescue them, and Kara let out a defeated sigh as she glanced at her watch, shoulders slumping as she pouted. She should’ve been at Alex’s by now. J’onn would’ve been there, and Eliza, Brainy, James and Nia. Alex had said that she was going to order Chinese, saving their massive turkey for tomorrow, when Kara would be allowed to cook it with her heat vision, a task which had become tradition. Tonight though, they’d have takeout and watch Christmas movies, drinking eggnog and playing charades, getting themselves all excited for presents tomorrow morning. Her stomach growled at the thought of all the food they’d be eating, and her heart ached slightly at the fact that she wouldn’t be there for the company. There wasn’t even any signal in the elevator for her to call Alex and let her know why she wouldn’t be there.
Blinking herself back to the present, Kara grimaced as she shrugged, “I was supposed to be at my sister’s by now. They were ordering Chinese.”
“I might have a mint in my bag, if it helps,” Lena offered.
Snorting with laughter, Kara politely rejected the offer, and Lena shrugged, opening her bag and rifling through it for the said mint, unwrapping it and popping it into her mouth, filling the small space with the smell of peppermint. Then she continued to pull things out of her bag, and Kara watched as she started flicking through a report, having nothing better to do. After a few minutes of watching green eyes dart back and forth across the page, while slender fingers turned the pages, Kara reached into her own bag and pulled out the papers she’d printed off. Pulling a pen out, she clamped it between her teeth, thumbing through the pages with a serious look on her face, until she found what she was looking for.
It was some of her work on cancer markers in DNA and genes - a side project she was hoping to take further one day, if she ever got that private office and promotion - and she spread out graphs and data, scribbling notes in the margins as she compared pages, getting lost in her work. Completely absorbed in the numbers and results, the different gene markers and endless pages of graphs, time slipped by without her even noticing, and it wasn’t until Lena cleared her throat that Kara jumped, accidentally drawing a blunt line across one page as she looked up, blinking owlishly as she took in the amused look on the CEO’s face.
Lena had long since finished with the reports she’d intended to take home with her and glance over before bed, and she was watching Kara with interest, leaning forward slightly to peer at the upside down pages, head tilted to the side as if she was trying to read the tiny black print.
“What department are you in?” Lena quietly asked.
“Research and Development,” Kara beamed at her, sounding proud at the fact, “focused on biotechnology. I’m an assistant lab tech.”
Arching an eyebrow, Lena gave her a mildly surprised look, gesturing towards the spread of paper, “I don’t recall authorising any projects on isolating cancer markers in DNA and trying to delete them. Who’re you assisting?”
Giving her a sheepish look, Kara gave her a guilty smile, “it’s a, uh, side project, I guess you could say. It’s not what I do, I just- well, it’s something that I would like to, one day, maybe, you know, if … well, I don’t want to be assisting people on their own projects forever, you know?”
“Oh,” Lena murmured, surprise colouring her voice as she looked up at Kara, looking mildly impressed, before holding out a hand, “may I see it?”
Pausing for a moment, Kara realised that she was serious and quickly scrambled for one of the pages covered in writing, detailing the information and research she’d gathered, before handing it over. She chewed on her bottom lip as she watched Lena quickly give the page a once over, before handing it back without a word. Staring at her for a few moments, Lena’s eyes drilled into her blue ones, and she fought back the urge to squirm beneath it, nervously clutching the paper in her hands, crumpling it slightly.
“It’s good,” Lena eventually told her, and Kara let out a shaky laugh, her tense shoulders sagging, “it needs more work, but it’s a decent proposal. I’m actually conducting my own research on curing cancer.”
“Really?” Kara eagerly asked, her eyes lighting up.
She fought back the urge to ask a dozen questions, her lips pressed together to stop them spilling out, and Lena shook with silent laughter as she watched her struggle to contain herself. Finally she couldn’t help but smile widely, a glimmer of mirth in her eyes as she gave her an expectant look. “Well, don’t you want to know what it’s about? I thought you’d be interested.”
“I am!” Kara exclaimed, sounding nearly desperate and wanting to kick herself at the fact, her face flushing as she quickly quelled her excitement, drawing back slightly as she ducked her head and fiddled with her glasses. “I mean, I-”
“Can I borrow your pen?”
Willingly relinquishing it to her boss, Kara chewed on her bottom lip as she watched Lena steal one of her pieces of paper, flipping it over to the blank side and hunching over as she started to draw out complicated graphs and diagrams, talking all the while. Kara found herself leaning towards her, completely enraptured by the sound of her passionately talking about her project, a look of concentration on her face as she watched Lena’s hand move across the page.
Turning it around, Lena showed it to her, pointing to hasty sketches of machines, words and numbers that Kara was barely able to keep track of as she put all the information together, and watched with awe as Lena gestured around with her hands a lot, her eyes lit up and a determined look on her face. Venturing a few tentative questions, which only seemed to further motivate Lena as she rambled off explanations, Kara found herself needing to work on that project. Based on nothing more than a few hurried diagrams and a rambling conversation, she knew that it would change the world - maybe not right now, but one day, she knew it would - and she wanted to be a part of that.
“It’s brilliant,” she said, somewhat breathlessly as Lena straightened up, giving her an almost smug smile as she handed back over the pen.
Expression darkening for a moment, a brooding look crossed Lena’s face, “not yet. It’s nothing more than wishful thinking at the moment.”
Giving her an encouraging smile, Kara shrugged, “yeah, but everything starts out as wishful thinking, ma’am. It’s just whether you have the means to take those thoughts and put them into action.”
Silently absorbing Kara’s words, Lena watched as the blonde started gathering all of her work up, stacking the pages in a neat pile and straightening them with a tap against the floor, before returning them to the folder. Her mind was whirling with all of the new information, and she knew that she wasn’t going to get much work done for the rest of their time stuck in the elevator. Unless they were in there for a very long time. Just the thought made Kara’s spine prickle with unease, the collar of her sweater feeling a little snug as she was overwhelmingly hot.
“Miss Danvers?” Lena suddenly asked, and Kara looked at her, trying to nip her panic in the bud before it overwhelmed her. “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course, ma’am.”
A wry smile curled Lena’s lips and her eyes crinkled at the corners in a way that Kara thought was endearing. “Can you not call me ma’am, please? It just- I mean, we’re like the same age, and it makes me feel ancient.”
“Oh … oh, yes, of course, Miss Luthor,” Kara said, her voice coloured with surprise, “sorry.”
Letting out a quiet chuckle, Lena gave her a scrutinising look, taking in the way she was shifting uncomfortably, feeling hot beneath her coat and eyes nervously darting around, as if she was afraid the walls were going to close in. She’d never had to be stuck somewhere like this before. Not since the pod. It was an uncomfortable thought, and Kara hesitantly cleared her throat, trying to busy herself with her bag.
“Miss Danvers, are you okay?”
“Kara,” she blurted out, “just Kara. I, um, well, I actually am claustrophobic. God, it’s hot in here. Isn’t it hot? And so small .”
She suddenly rose to her feet, her chest heaving slightly as her breathing increased, and she moved towards the panel, jamming her finger against the buttons. Trying a dozen different floors, she waited for them to light up, but they didn’t, and she had to fight back to urge to punch her way through the control panel in her frustration and panic.
“Maybe we just- maybe another floor will work? Shouldn’t you have backup generators too? I mean, you’re a billion-dollar company, you should have backup power sources for your experiments.”
Stepping away from the panel, she looked up, taking in the dead security cameras and wondering if perhaps she could just tear her way out of there and trust her boss not to tell anyone who she was. Of course, that would lead to problems at the DEO, and that was a lot of trust to place in someone who she’d only come face to face with two hours ago. Letting out a huff of frustration, she gently slammed her hand against the wall, the dull, clanging thud of metal being struck making Lena leap to her feet and reach out, grabbing her arm and pulling her away.
“Hey, it’s okay,” she said, her forehead creasing as she frowned, a look of concern in her eyes as she drew Kara back over to her corner. “I do have backup generators, but the weather might be so bad that it’s damaged them. And most of the power will be redirected to security protocols and preserving biological samples. But it’s fine, someone will come.”
“It’s Christmas Eve,” Kara curtly replied, “people are going to be drink driving, and- and I don’t know, falling off the roof pretending to be Santa for their kids. Emergency Services will be busy all night, and tomorrow - oh God, what if we’re in here for days? We’re going to starve in here! And there’s no water.”
Sighing, Lena tugged on her coat sleeve, and Kara let herself be tugged down onto the cool floor, pressing a head against her hot forehead and feeling the first prickles of sweat as she got herself worked up. Quickly untying her coat, she slipped it off and fanned her flushed face, catching sight of Lena’s wide eyes and stricken face staring at her stomach. Looking down, Kara realised that she was wearing her reindeer sweater, the large pom-pom nose protruding rather obviously from the knitted wool, and her face grew warm as it turned scarlet with embarrassment. Crossing her arms over her stomach, she felt some of her panic recede as embarrassment took its place, and she awkwardly cleared her throat, feeling like she owed her boss an explanation.
“I, uh, it was for the party.”
“Oh, is it like a family thing?”
Feeling mortified, Kara blushed even further, if that was possible, letting out a shaky laugh. “Um, no? I just … like the holidays.”
A slow smile spread across Lena’s face, and she tilted her head to the side, her eyes travelling over the reindeer as she shrugged half-heartedly. “Nothing. I just- I’ve never really gotten into the whole festive thing. It’s quite funny. I guess I can understand the novelty of it.”
“What, like you don’t have a tree?” At the shake of her head, Kara gave her a horrified look, and Lena’s expression turned sheepish. “What about Christmas movies and candy canes and gingerbread cookies? That’s like … that’s what Christmas is about.”
Scoffing, Lena scowled as she crossed her arms over her chest, “oh please , those movies are so cringeworthy.”
“That’s the best part!”
A laugh bubbled up and Lena gave her an amused look, if not a little sceptical, and she nodded, as if she was going to take Kara’s word for it. Suddenly, her words earlier about her plans for Christmas Day and how at least if she was trapped with Kara she wouldn’t be alone, made Kara realise that it hadn’t been some attempt at a joke, but that Lena genuinely didn’t seem to celebrate the holidays. It filled her with sadness, trying to understand how someone could be content to spend them alone. The holidays were for family, that was one of the first things she’d learnt when she’d come to Earth, and it made her heart ache to think that Lena didn’t have any family to spend it with.
Under other circumstances, such as them not being locked inside an elevator and likely to miss the holidays anyway, and Lena not being her boss by many, many ranks, Kara probably would’ve invited her over to join her family for dinner. It had become her custom over the years to invite any waifs and strays she found alone for the holidays, and Eliza and Alex had always gone along with. Kara had a sneaking suspicion that Alex would’ve loved Lena. She didn’t know much about her boss, but they both had the same hardness about them, that was for sure. And just like her sister, Kara was sure that beneath the tough exterior, there was a soft kindness to the young CEO.
Her point was proved a moment later when Lena gave her a sympathetic look, her voice coloured with worry. “Are you okay?”
Tilting her head to the side, Kara grimaced, a contemplative look on her face as she considered the question. Their pointless rambling about Christmas had taken her mind off of their situation, and she was grateful for her reindeer sweater and Lena’s gentle prompting. Giving her a soft smile, Kara slowly nodded, “yeah. Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Okay,” Lena mumbled, giving her a kind smile, “good.”
“We’ll be out of here soon anyway,” Kara bravely replied.
“Right. Of course we will,” Lena lied, and Kara found that she appreciated it, even if she knew that they weren’t going anywhere right now. She could hear the city, and there were no sirens coming for them, no one trying to get into the building to rescue them. The only sound was the security guard muttering to himself, and Kara could envision him locked inside the dark lobby, sitting through the rest of his shift in the light of a torch. At least there was space there. She’d even settle for being stuck on one of the floors.
They fell back into silence, sitting in their respective corners, lost in their own thoughts. The whole time, Kara wrestled with the urge to say something, feeling like she ought to say something to stop the silence from suffocating her. Too often she rambled on when silences became too much, and she’d already spent half of her time blushing in front of her boss, and didn’t really feel like embarrassing herself further with her babbling nonsense. She heard Lena’s teeth chatter a little while later though, catching a glimpse of a shiver running through the other woman, and she looked up, giving her a small smile. Of course her human body would be more susceptible to the cold, and Kara reached for her coat.
“A little,” Lena murmured, her lips trembling slightly as she spoke.
Picking the folded coat up, Kara leant across the small space and held it out to her. An apprehensive look on her face, Lena sat up, warily eyeing the coat, before she met Kara’s eyes. “Aren’t you cold?”
“Uh, no, not at all really. You can have it, it’s fine,” Kara assured her with a dimpled smile.
Quietly thanking her, Lena took the coat and shook it out, draping it over lap as she drew her knees up to her chest. Her teeth stopped chattering after that, and they fell into a relaxed silence, with Kara glancing at her watch every so often, in between listening for any sounds of someone coming to free them. But the nearby city was eerily quiet, and she was surprised she hadn’t realised it sooner. The hum of electricity, the whirring of fans and heating systems, the sound of TV’s in bars and the quiet booming of music in nightclubs were all gone. Her heart sank at the realisation that the power must’ve gone out for a few blocks at least.
Her hunger grew as time slipped by, growling with increasing frequency, and she gave Lena apologetic smiles whenever a loud rumble caught her attention. It seemed that hunger was getting to Lena too, and they both left each other along to hug their empty stomachs, Kara thinking about the Chinese they’d be eating at Alex’s, and Lena thinking about the meal her chef would’ve left for her. After another rumble, she met Lena’s eye and they both laughed.
“I should’ve taken you up on the offer of that mint.”
Snorting, Lena gave her an apologetic look, “I would’ve saved it for you if I’d known you’d change your mind. I guess I’ll keep a stash ready at hand from now on. With some water too; I feel like I’m going to die of thirst.”
“I-I’ve got some wine … if that helps?” Kara offered.
Letting out a snort of laughter, Lena gave her a bewildered look, “you just happen to be carrying a bottle of wine around with you at the office?”
“It was for the party. I-I don’t have any glasses, but we can put it to use if you want? No point in it going to waste.”
Lena shrugged, and Kara pulled it out of her bag, tearing off the foil and gritting her teeth with anticipation as she pulled the cork out of the top. A small pop made her jump, and she let out a quick laugh, giving Lena a sheepish look, before she held the bottle out to her. With a small sigh, Lena leant forward and took the bottle off her, hesitating before giving Kara a lopsided smile.
“Cheers, I guess.”
Taking a quick swig from the bottle, Lena handed it back to her, and Kara murmured her own cheers, before taking a sip. It was far from the Christmas Eve she’d been expecting, but it was good wine, and her company could’ve been a lot worse. Far, far worse. In fact, Kara was almost glad that it was her boss, because it actually made her work feel more personal, rather than being the faceless employee of some aloof woman she didn’t even know. At least now she felt like she knew a little about what Lena stood for, even if it was only based on a short conversation about her research and her apparent hatred of the holidays.
After another sip, Kara held the bottle back out to Lena, who took it back and drank deeply. They went back and forth like that, mostly in silence, but occasionally making a few comments on trivial things, until the bottle was empty. Setting it down with a resolute clink, Kara sighed, letting her head fall back against the wall. The wine had done nothing for her - it never did - but Lena’s cheeks were looking a little flushed, and eyes bright and glassy. She wasn’t drunk, not by far, but Kara would wager that the edges of her mind were a little fuzzier, and her inhibition lowered just a little. Perhaps even enough for her not to be too suspicious if Kara parted the elevator doors.
She wasn’t sure if they were even close to being near a floor, but there was a chance they they were, or maybe even half on a floor, and that was a good enough chance for her. Climbing to her feet, she cocked her head to the side, looking at the line where the sliding doors met, and pursed her lips slightly. Surely being on a floor would be better than the cramped elevator. There’d be desk chairs to sit in, if they were lucky and they got a good floor, there might even be a kettle or coffee machine, a few snacks that someone had left in a fridge. There’d be emergency staircases too, allowing them to get all the way down to the lobby and outside. It was nearly ten o’clock, and everyone would be leaving Alex’s by the time she got there, but at least she could have something to eat and fall asleep in her bed, instead of the cold floor of the elevator.
“Hey, do you think that it’d be possible to pry the doors open?” she asked Lena, glancing down at the woman huddled up in the corner with Kara’s coat as a blanket.
“Maybe, if you’re strong enough.”
Suppressing a laugh, Kara bit back a smile, flexing her fingers as she moved towards the doors and slipped her fingers into the small groove where they didn’t quite seal properly. She could part them in a heartbeat, with no more effort than opening her curtains in the morning. But that would be too obvious. Instead, she stood there for a few minutes, pretending to heave at the doors, puffing and straining as she put on a show for Lena’s benefit. The metal grinded a little as she let it give way just a little, listening to the sound of heels scrabbling against the floor as Lena jumped to her feet.
Pale hands slipped into the gap as well, and Kara glanced at Lena, meeting her green eyes and giving her an encouraging smile. Nodding, Lena grit her teeth and started tugging, and Kara’s lips twitched as she slowly dragged her half back, trying to make it look like a struggle, as if the door was fighting back. Wedging her foot into the gap when it was big enough to, she nudged Lena’s side, helping make it easier for her without letting her know that she wasn’t doing anything. It was a few minutes later, before they managed to get it open enough for them to fit through, leaving it at that, with Kara pretending that she couldn’t make it budge any further.
It turned out that they were in between floors, or just partially below one, with a gap big enough for them to wriggle out of at the top of the open doors. But then there were the closed outer doors of the elevator on the floor, and Kara sighed, stretching up on her tiptoes and fumbling for the edge of it, assuring Lena that she had it and slowly wrenched those ones apart too. Cool, fresh air washed over her face, and she gratefully breathed in, settling back down flat on her feet with a triumphant look on her face. Turning to Lena, Kara gave her a bright smile, eyes lit up with delight as relief washed over her and she felt the tension bleed out of her shoulders.
“That’s a big enough gap for us to get out of.”
Scoffing, Lena gave her an incredulous look, “and how do you suppose we climb up to the fucking ceiling?”
Biting her lip, Kara shrugged, before bending down to gather up her bag and the empty wine bottle. “I’ll climb up and I’ll pull you through. Or I’ll boost you through first. Your choice.”
Giving her a look of disbelief, looking at Kara’s sweater covered arms, as if trying to judge how strong she was, Lena grimaced. With no other alternatives, and the thought of escaping the elevator too good to pass up, she grabbed her bag and Kara’s coat, walking over to the gap and looking up at the dark patch leading to the floor above.
“Okay, um, you can boost me, I guess.”
Taking the bag and coat from her, Kara tossed them through the hole, along with her bag and the wine bottle, listening to the latter roll across the tiled floor, before she made to pick Lena up.
“Wait, wait,” the other woman said, slipping off her pair of Louboutins and giving Kara a small smile. Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara took them off her and tossed them through as well, both of them clattering to the floor somewhere inside the darkness.
With a smile, Kara raised her eyebrows at the woman, who now stood a few inches shorter than her, “may I?”
When Lena nodded, Kara bent her knees and wrapped her arms around Lena’s bare legs, her cool, soft skin cold to the touch, before straightening up. Looking up, she gave Lena a nervous smile, dark hair tickling her cheek, and she shook her head to try and shake it off. Reaching up, Lena gently brushed her hair off Kara’s cheek, her fingertips as light as a feather as they grazed her warm cheeks. Lena’s expensive perfume enveloped them in a sweet smelling cloud, and Kara found it an intoxicating smell, tempted to ask what it was, before realising that there were pressing matters ahead. Clearing her throat, Kara turned towards the doors, stepping as close as she could, and giving Lena an encouraging look.
“Okay, I’ve got you, just grab hold of the outer doors and pull yourself through.”
“I’ll push you up too,” she assured Lena.
Keeping her arms wrapped tightly around her legs, she lifted Lena up with ease, holding her steady as the CEO managed to get her arms and her through the gap, followed by the twisting of her shoulders as she wriggled and squirmed. Averting her gaze as she pushed her up, Kara gently tugged Lena’s dress down whenever it rode up slightly, until a pair of white feel slipped through into the darkness. She listened to Lena’s heavy breathing and breathless laughter, picturing her spread out on the tiles as she was surrounded by the impenetrable blackness and free air.
And then Kara didn’t feel quite as happy, still trapped in the elevator, but all alone this time. It was a stupid fear, irrational even, considering the fact that the doors were open and she’d be out in a heartbeat, but a lump formed in her throat anyway, and she felt sweat prickle her skin as she started to panic again. It suddenly occurred to her that Lena could just leave her there, go and get help so that she didn’t have to do it, thinking that it was a better course of action, and Kara clenched her hands into fists to stop them shaking as she thought about being alone. She’d be able to get out of the elevator by herself, of course, but she still didn’t fancy being inside the building alone.
A pale face appeared in the gap, soft eyes crinkling at the corners in a smile, and a slender hand being pushed through, reaching down for her. Sagging with relief, Kara unclenched her clammy hand and wiped it on her jeans, before reaching up to take it. Lena’s face disappeared from sight as she braced herself to pull Kara up, and Kara floated slightly, making herself lighter as she agreed that she was ready. Bracing her legs against the wall, she listened to Lena heave, smiling slightly as she easily climbed up the wall, twisting her narrow shoulders through the gap as Lena kept pulling.
She came free with a last tug, not expecting it and tumbling straight on top of her boss, pinning her beneath her warm weight. Nervously laughing, Kara gingerly pushed herself up, hurrying to apologise as she climbed to her feet, reaching down to give Lena a hand up. Pulling her to her feet in one quick tug, Lena wasn’t quite expecting it, overbalancing and stumbling straight into Kara, who steadied her with her strong grip. It was Lena’s time to apologise, giving her a sheepish smile, and Kara waved it aside as she reached out to fix the rumpled fur collar for her.
Gathering their things up, Lena carrying her heels in hand as she walked ahead, a shadowy figure against the darkness, and Kara looked around at the hallway that they were in. Walking ahead, Lena came to a stop, and Kara followed behind her, finding their path blocked by a thick steel door, not unlike the elevator one, but a lot more durable. She couldn’t bluff her way through parting those ones. They were clearly for security measures, and Lena softly swore as she pressed a hand against it.
“We’re on one of the floors with high risk information. If there’s a power outage, the building automatically goes into lockdown for security reasons, in case there’s a breach. Some floors … well I have these doors to stop people from getting in or out.”
“Any clue which floor it is?” Kara asked.
Shaking her head, Lena turned away from it and moved towards one of the doors to their left. There were two on each side, leading into other rooms, and she tested the handle, finding it locked. With a sigh, she kicked it, cursing as she hurt her foot, and Kara quickly moved over to one of the other ones, finding it locked too, but using enough force to break it, pushing the door open and letting out a fake sound of surprise.
“Oh … this one’s unlocked,” she called out, and Lena quickly walked over to her, resting a hand against Kara’s shoulder blade as she peered into the dark room.
A moment later, a bright light cut through the darkness as Lena raised her phone, the torch illuminating a room with a photocopier and printer, a row of cupboards which Kara raided to find paper, staples and pencils, as well as other office goods. A water dispenser stood in a corner, and she watched as Lena poured herself a cup, while she walked over to a desk pushed up against the wall with trays for invoices and messages. It was a cluttered mess, forms and documents stacked precariously, and she searched those cupboards too, finding nothing of use.
Sighing, she tipped her head back, hands on her hips as she took in a deep breath, realising that they were no better off now. It was getting late and her eyes were starting to burn with tiredness, and all they’d managed to do was go from an elevator to a supply closet. A gentle nudge tore her out of her frustrated thoughts, and she looked down at the hand holding a paper cup out to her, giving Lena a small smile as she quietly thanked her and took a sip. Draining the cup, she threw it into the small trash can, before taking a seat on the carpeted floor.
A moment later, Lena sat across from her, a resigned look on her face. There was nowhere else to go from here, and Kara didn’t want to have to do more property damage on the off chance that they would find something useful. Pursing her lips for a moment, she fiddled with the reindeer nose of her sweater and glanced at Lena.
“So … the emergency staircases …”
“Not on the main hallway,” Lena grumbled, a crestfallen look on her face, “whoever designed the building put the stairwells off of the centrepoint of the building. We’ll be on the northern end of it, that’s where the elevators are.”
“Isn’t that in violation of some codes?”
Bristling slightly, Lena made a low sound at the back of her throat, looking a little disgruntled. “No,” she curtly replied, “the lockdown procedure is only for security breaches, and power outages, in case that’s part of the breach. And if there was someone in here, then the floors would be isolated from each other, each one partitioned into three parts. It’d make it easier to catch the intruder.”
“What if they had a gun? You’d be locking people in to be killed.”
“I’d be stopping the gunman from moving from floor to floor and potentially killing a lot more people. It’s standard protocol. Besides, it’d only be until Supergirl arrived. She’d save everyone.”
Snorting, Kara gave her a look of surprise. She would’ve pegged her as more of a sceptic, but she apparently had a lot of faith in Supergirl, and the thought made Kara feel warm inside. She’d initially taken the job to keep an eye on the youngest Luthor, keeping out of her way and listening to the gossip, keeping tabs on any projects that could be a potential threat, yet she’d found Lena to be cleaner than any other company she’d had dealings with. It was surprising, to say the least, but it was even more surprising to hear her be so trusting of an alien. It wasn’t like there was much love between their families, even if Lena didn’t know who she was actually talking to.
“That’s a lot of faith to have in someone you don’t know,” Kara murmured, feeling a little bit self-conscious as she fiddled with her glasses.
Shrugging, Lena propped her chin up in her hand, staring down at the carpet with a grave look on her face. “Well, she’s more than earned it. I’m not sure she’d feel too kindly about me though.”
“I think she would,” Kara gently replied, “I think she’d like that you’re trying to help people.”
Peering up with a nervous look on her face, teeth worrying at her bottom lip as she gave Kara a hopeful look, the corners of her lips curled the tiniest bit. “You think so?”
Expression softening, Kara nodded, pity welling up as she stared at the young girl. She knew she was young, yet she looked even younger at that moment, her fear so plainly visible on her youthful face, a vulnerable slump to her shoulders, and Kara’s smile grew. “I do. I think she’d think it was a wonderful legacy to leave behind, helping other people. And you help so many people. I mean, you’re always at those charity events and fundraisers. I don’t think anyone could deny that you do good work.”
Softly snorting, Lena shook her head, rubbing the back of her neck as her forehead creased with another frown. “It’s kind of you to say, but I have a lot of reparations to make before people trust me.”
“Well, hey, I trust you. I mean, you’re a good boss, and you could’ve left me in that elevator and gone home to your wine and leftover meal and let me spend Christmas here all alone, so …” Kara weakly joked.
Giving her a reproving look, Lena couldn’t help but laugh, and Kara joined in, watching as the other woman’s face softened in the light from her phone. “After you shared your wine with me? That’d be a bit rude.”
“Aren’t CEO’s supposed to be assholes though?”
“Oh yeah,” Lena laughed, “but that’s because most of them are men, and men in general are assholes. I like to think I actually have a brain, and a heart.”
Giving her a bewildered look, Lena hesitated, confusion in her eyes. “Um, yeah? I suppose, if I need to be.”
“No, I-” Kara laughed, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, before she sighed, giving her an amused look, “it’s, uh, the Wizard of Oz. How they’re all going to the Emerald City to-” at the blank look on Lena’s face, she trailed off, giving her a sheepish smile, “never mind, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I, for one, am glad to have a good boss.”
Cocking her head to the side, Lena gave her a searching look, “how long have you worked for me?”
“Huh … seems strange that this is the first time we’ve met,” Lena murmured, “I should make an effort to get to know my employees a little more.”
Shrugging, Kara gave her a smile, “you’re far too important to be worrying about things like that. I’m sure you have a thousand other things to be doing.”
“I do. But still, I feel like I should definitely know the employees who’re here on Christmas Eve , risking getting stuck in elevators just to do some paperwork.”
“I’m afraid that’s just me.”
“Then maybe I should just make an effort for you then.”
Nervously laughing, Kara grew shy as her cheeks turned pink and she rubbed the back of her neck. She found herself getting flustered whenever Lena paid any particular length of attention to her directly, stunned by how beautiful she was, how successful, and feeling a little bit inadequate with her wild hair, now dry from the rain she’d walked through to get inside, her silly reindeer sweater and the fact that she was miles down the hierarchy of employees. If they were a food chain, Lena was at the very top, the most dangerous predator, powerful and in charge, while Kara would be grass.
“Well? Come on, Miss Danvers, tell me a bit about yourself,” Lena said, giving her an expectant look, before she shifted, laying down on her back, using Kara’s coat as a blanket as she closed her eyes, arms folded behind her head.
Blowing all of the air out of her lungs, Kara floundered for a moment, before carefully easing herself down beside Lena, staring up at the panels of the ceiling as she wracked her mind for something to say. And then she started to talk, telling Lena about her family - back on Krypton and with the Danvers - leaving out key details about her superpowers and extracurricular activities, about her studies at NCU, her favourite books and movies, foods and colours. Some of it was useless nonsense, and others were weightier topics, and Lena was quiet the entire time, listening to her her spill her guts out at her request.
When she finally fell silent, running out of trivial facts that came to mind, she let her head loll to the side and found Lena staring at her. Cheeks reddening, Kara looked back up at the ceiling, closing her eyes to the sight and letting silence weigh down on her. And then much to her surprise, Lena started to talk, her voice low and hesitant as she covered the same topics as Kara. It was surprising to hear how much they had in common, and Kara watched her with rapt attention, taking in the curve of her jawline, the sharp cheekbones, the scar beneath her eyebrow. She watched the way Lena talked with her hands, even when she wasn’t looking, smiling faintly to herself as a warmth spread through her.
As she finally drifted off into silence, she turned her head to look at Kara, a resigned look on her face as she gave her a surprisingly tender look. Face to face, they were quiet for a moment, and then Lena cracked a hesitant smile.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone half of that before. Odd, isn’t it? A stranger knows more about me than my own family. I suppose that makes you anything but a stranger.”
“Sometimes it’s easier to be honest with someone we don’t know,” Kara murmured, “that way we don’t have to face their judgement every day.”
“Hm, that’s a fair point. I’m not sure I trust strangers with my secrets though, and everyone seems to judge my these days.”
“Well it’s a good thing I’m anything but a judgemental stranger,” Kara quietly quipped, eliciting a laugh from Lena, before it faded off into a sigh.
They stayed on the floor for what felt like forever. They had no concept of time as they lay there, finding it uncomfortable and hard, but growing too tired to care much. It was almost cozy in the darkness, the warmth of the light creating a halo of yellow around them, and they were so close that Kara could feel the warmth radiating from Lena, and the other woman could no doubt feel it in return.
Time was creeping towards midnight as they lay on the floor, although they were unaware of the fact, lost in their thoughts and slipping in and out of consciousness without seeming to realise it, a tiredness seeping into their limbs as they limply stared at the ceiling. Sometimes one of them would quietly speak, the other murmuring in response as they pulled themselves back from the edge of sleep to listen. It was both boring and somewhat relaxing, with no pressure for them to be anywhere or do anything. In the tiny supply office, they simply just existed, side by side, with no expectations and nothing to do but wait. They’d long since given up being impatient for a rescue, and they were both starting to think that it wasn’t so bad.
With a jolt, Kara’s drooping eyelids shot open to stare up at one of the square panels of the ceiling, a stray thought having made itself heard, and she climbed to her feet with a groan, her tired muscles protesting at the sudden movement. Sitting up, Lena blinked owlishly up at her, forehead creased with puzzlement.
“What is it?”
“The ceiling!” Kara replied in a hushed voice, tentative to break the peaceful quietness of the room, even though it was just the two of them. “The panels. They’re separate pieces. We can lift one and crawl through to the open office space near the emergency staircase.”
Slowly climbing to her feet, Lena braced her hands on her hips, tilting her head back as she stared up at the ceiling above them. It was far above them, being in an office building with tall ceilings, and a regretful look crossed her features as she met Kara’s excited eyes.
“Unless you can fly, I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the ceiling.”
Choking on a laugh, Kara gave her a disconcerting look, checking to make sure that Lena was still none the wiser, although Kara wasn’t sure how she would’ve tipped the other woman off anyway, and she glanced around. It would be a simple thing for her to float up to the panels, gently slip one aside and crawl into the ceiling. But if she was going to expose herself like that, she should’ve just forced open the thick, steel doors and been done with it. They would’ve been freed hours ago.
“The counters!” she quietly exclaimed, lumbering over to it and hopping up onto one of them, beaming down at Lena, who scrambled for their things, before hesitantly climbing up beside Kara. Steadying her with a gentle touch to her elbow, Kara graced her with a quick smile, before she looked up, tongue between her lips as she stared at the panels with a serious look on her face. Reaching up, her fingertips were just a few inches shy of the panels, and she hummed in frustration at the fact. “I can boost you up again,” she offered, looking down at Lena.
A wary look on her face, Lena bared her teeth as she cringed slightly, “um, sure, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to lift you.”
Waving her concerns aside, Kara gave her a cheerful look, hope blooming to life inside her, “it’ll be just like in the elevator, you’ll see.”
Hesitantly agreeing, Lena dropped everything onto the counters and let Kara pick her up again, and Kara grinned up at her, trying to instill some sense of trust and encouragement in her boss as she held her tightly around her thighs, holding her up with ease. Slowly raising her up towards the ceiling, she watched as Lena’s palms met the square panel and gave it a tentative push, sending a shower of dust down as it budged slightly, before giving it a more solid one, easing the panel up and sliding it across to reveal a dark hole inside. With her phone in hand, Lena lit up the crawl space above, her voice eerily echoing as she ordered Kara to boost her the rest of the way up.
Kara watched as a pair of bare feet disappeared through the hole, following after a pair of pale legs, and she listened to the shuffling above her, bracing herself for the possibility of Lena coming crashing down through another panel. Much to her relief, her pale face loomed above the dark hole, dimly lit by her phone light further inside, and she smiled down at Kara, bracing herself with one arm and reaching down through with the other. Quickly passing their belongings up, Kara watched them disappear into the space one by one, and then it was her turn. Reaching up to take Lena’s hand, she braced her feet against the wall and tried to take as much pressure off Lena as possible, until she got hold of the edge of the empty square, dangling by her fingertips, and started to pull herself up, making a show of it, much to her own grim amusement.
Panting for effect, she knelt hunched over on the thin metal separating each panel, gingerly balancing her weight, and looked around, taking in the wires snaking along the ceiling in thickly tied bundles, and the dense layer of dust, disturbed in places by Lena’s scuffling around.
“Which way?” Kara asked, her voice close yet echoey in the space, her nose itching from the smell of dust and Lena’s strong perfume.
Gauging their relative position in the building, Lena handed Kara her bag and set off in one direction, with Kara carefully following behind. Soon enough, they were covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt, sneezing every few feet, and their eyes were red and sore, and not just from the lack of sleep, and in Lena’s case, effects of red wine. It was slow going, both of them wary of the fact that they could fall through the ceiling if they misplaced a hand or foot, but they made progress through the endless crawl space between floors. Kara was still congratulating herself when Lena placed a hand slightly off the edge of the thing beam of metal, tipping precariously to the side.
With a small cry of alarm, Kara reached for her, stretching out to grab her, and overbalanced as Lena corrected herself, leaving the blonde reaching for thin air. With a crack, Kara’s hand went straight through the panel, and momentum forced her to keep going, until she was up to her shoulder, cheek pressed against the dust, listening to the groaning, splintering sound of the panel. Before Lena could finish calling her name, the ceiling panel cracked and Kara fell through.
A cold hand grabbed her ankle, and she stared up in shock, her eyes wide with surprise as she found herself peering up at Lena, whose face was pale with fear. Tendons standing out on her forearm, Lena ground her teeth together, her fingers tightly gripping Kara’s ankle, and she grunted as she tried to keep hold of her. But even with both hands, she was slipping forward, slowly inching further and further out of the hole. Hair streaming down towards the carpeted floor of an open office area, Kara was far from worried about her own safety, and was busy wondering how she could convince Lena to let her go. Even a human could survive a fall of a few feet, and she could feign bruises and aches for the sake of it.
“Well, I guess we’re making a stop,” Kara weakly joked, her words coming out a little choked as she hung upside down, face turning redder by the second. “You can let go, Miss Luthor.”
Spluttering, Lena heaved against her leg, and Kara bit back a sigh. “You could seriously hurt yourself!”
“It’s a few feet,” Kara protested, her arms limply hanging with gravity, her fingers a few inches above the ground. “Look, I can almost reach the floor anyway! I’ll be fine. Either I fall, or we both do. You should save yourself a few bruises and-”
With a loud thud, she landed amidst the rubble of the fallen ceiling panel as Lena’s strength gave out, coughing as a cloud of dust rose around her. Delicately pushing herself up, she cradled the shoulder she’d landed on first, praying that she hadn’t just left a suspicious hole in the floor, and looked up at Lena’s face high above her. She couldn’t stop the loud laugh that tore from her lips at the white face with the hand clapped over her mouth, eyes fearful and guilty, as if it was Lena’s fault for not being able to lift a person up by the ankle. Giving her a thumbs up, Kara smiled.
“All good, boss! Your turn.”
“My turn? Kara, are you insane? I’m not jumping from here.”
“I’ll catch you,” Kara assured her, a persuasive look of innocence on her face as she climbed to her feet, dusting her hands off and holding them up, “just put your legs through first and dangle from your fingertips. I’ve got you, I promise. If I don’t, you can fire me. No hard feelings.”
A begrudging look on her face, Lena grumbled softly to herself, before dropping their bags through, deftly snatched out of the air by Kara’s nimble hands, and safely set aside, before Lena followed Kara’s instructions. Arms open expectantly, Kara waited with a stern look on her face as Lena lowered herself through, until she was low enough for Kara to grab her legs and quietly order her to let go. Arms tightly winding around Kara’s neck, Lena squeezed her eyes shut as she was lowered to the ground, only opening them again when her bare feet were firmly planted on the tiled floor. Opening one green eye, she looked up at Kara, before the other one fluttered open and she let out a quiet laugh of embarrassment.
“Well, your job is safe for now.”
Quietly chuckling, Kara looked around the place, taking in the dark shadowy shapes of desks, chairs and computers with interest. A beam of yellow light cut through the darkness as Lena illuminated the nearest desk. A row of drawers ran down one side, and Lena walked over to it, pulling the top drawer open and shining a light inside. Letting out a sound of triumph, she plucked something from inside and held it up for Kara to see, a smug smile on her face.
Scoffing, Kara gave the bag a look of thinly veiled disgust, “that’s what they’re hiding in their secret work stash? Surely there’s something better.”
Shrugging, Lena poked around in the drawer, coming up empty handed, before she moved onto the next one, until they’d all been searched. Walking towards the next desk, she opened their drawer too, and Kara paused for a moment, a feeling of guilt creeping up on her.
“Should we really be going through their things? I mean, it feels a little like stealing.”
Laughing, Lena arched an eyebrow at her, “technically I have the right to confiscate anything off my employees, but if it eases your conscience, we can leave a little note.”
Smiling, Kara took the pen and notepad proffered a moment later, writing a quick apologetic note as Lena triumphantly came up with a soft Twix and an open bag of candy canes. She moved onto the next one, her phone lighting the way, and Kara dutifully followed after her, carrying the food they’d looted from Lena’s employees, watching the pile grow larger with Christmas gifts shared around that had been left at the office. Lena left a courteous note in each drawer they took something from, especially grateful for the woman packing a bottle of whisky, and they ended up sitting at two desks facing each other, their bounty piled high in the middle. There were Christmas cookies and mince pies, overlooked for the moment, in favour of the chocolate, candy and chips, as well as a few odd other snacks that they were a little wary about.
Lena also scrounged up a few company laptops, bypassing the security screens and keeping the darkness at bay a little as the screens created a circle of light surrounding them. It was still eerily quiet as they ate though, passing the whisky back and forth, and Kara laughed as Lena handed her a mint from the pile with a droll smile. Her red lipstick was mostly worn off, hair tousled, and her coat was covered in a thick layer of dust. Kara didn’t even want to think about what she looked like; she could still feel the gritty plaster on her tongue from the ceiling panel.
“Your coat is ruined,” Kara said with a dour look on her face, looking disappointed as she opened the mint wrapper and popped it in her mouth. It didn’t mix well with the rich flavour of the whisky, but Lena gave it to her, so of course she was going to eat it. “God, I don’t even want to see a mirror right now. Poor rudolph looks bad enough as it is.”
Brushing her concerns aside, Lena snorted, “it was last season anyway, and you look … quite funny actually. I wasn’t expecting to spend Christmas Eve with a dust covered, reindeer sweater wearing, adventurous employee, I’ll tell you that.”
“Happy to be of service,” Kara dryly replied, raising the bottle of whisky and tipping it in her direction, before taking a sip, “hey, is there any music on the laptops? Maybe something festive?”
With a humourous look on her face, Lena quickly set about going through them all, coming up empty on all but one of them. She let out a quiet laugh as she looked up at Kara, her face glowing white from the light of the screen, a lopsided smile curling her lips as she raised her eyebrows slightly.
“This one has a lot of eighties pop.”
“Even better,” Kara enthusiastically agreed.
With a shake of her head, Lena clicked play on a random song and sound flooded the room. Kara found her spirits higher with a stash of food and some fun music, and rummaged through one of the drawers of the desk she was behind, pulling out paper, scissors and a stapler, starting to cut strips out of it. She could feel Lena watching her, and after a few moments, she looked up to give her a wide smile, handing her a stack of paper. Setting down a half eaten mince pie, Lena took the paper with a suspicious look on her face, and found a pair of scissors in her own drawer, eyeing Kara’s work, before silently copying it.
Sitting at their respective desks, cutting paper into strips and folding it to cut little snippets out of, they chatted away, laughing and picking at the collection of snacks they’d managed to scrounge up from the other employees’ desks. Popping a jellybean in her mouth, Kara laughed at a story Lena was telling as she made a loop out of one of the strips of paper, picking up a stapler and stapling the ends closed together. Looping through another piece, she stapled those ends together too, on and on, until she had something resembling a chain. Arms stretched out, she proudly held it up for Lena to see, and the CEO scoffed as she rubbed at her forehead.
“Is this really what we’ve been doing this whole time? Making a paper chain?”
“It’s a classic Christmas decoration trick!” Kara protested, “we used to make them in school every year, while watching Christmas movies. Surely you did the same?”
Letting out a sharp laugh, which led Kara to believe that she had in fact not, Lena gave her a dour look. “I went to a Catholic boarding school, and the sisters led us to believe that it was imperative that we spend the time before the holidays devoted to worshipping Jesus. We spent most of our time in mass, getting in some extra penance and shit, but I think most people just slept through it, to be honest. It was better than work, at any rate.”
“Hm, interesting. You never took me as the good Catholic girl type.”
Lips twisting up into a wry smile, Lena arched an eyebrow, “when did I say I was good?”
Spluttering slightly, Kara felt her cheeks warm, and she reached for another piece of paper, scrambling for something to say. “So you never made snowflakes either then? Or gingerbreads and snowmen holding hands?”
Making a choked sound of surprise, Lena gave her a pointed look, “no, Kara, I did not, in fact, learn this very important life skill. Will you please teach me?”
Rolling her eyes, Kara tutted, before folding the paper into quarters, and then halved it again and again, until she was holding a triangle. Holding it up for Lena to see, she took a pair of scissors to it, snipping out sections and making the edges patterned, before she unfolded it with a delighted look on her face. “See! A snowflake.”
Making a sceptical sound, Lena narrowed her eyes at it, before stubbornly undertaking the task of making her own. Hers was a lot more symmetrical than Kara’s, the snipped pieces more precise, and she looked slightly smug as she held hers up for Kara’s inspection, looking slightly pleased with herself when she earned Kara’s approval.
On and on it went, until they had long chains coiling on the floor, and the desks were littered with snowflakes and pages of gingerbread men holding hands, which Kara had drawn different facial expressions on. They took turns drinking from the bottle of whisky and sharing the snacks, passing packets of chips and candy back and forth, taking the edge off the hollow feeling of hunger, and before long, Lena started growing a little bit tipsier. There was a rosy look about her, her cheeks flushed from the alcohol, and her words were coming more easily, her coldness receding as a frank, yet witty personality rose to the surface. Kara found herself laughing more and more, enjoying seeing this other side of the young CEO. She imagined it wasn’t a side that Lena showed to many people, and silently vowed to herself that she’d keep it secretly to herself. It made her feel warm inside to have this secret person in her head; she’d never be able to look at Lena the same after that night.
Climbing to her feet, Kara carefully bundled up a paper chain in her arms and jerked her head for Lena to come with her. “Come on. Bring some tape too.”
Unused to being bossed around, Lena’s lips parted slightly in surprise, but she quickly complied, grabbing the tape and scrambling after Kara. The longest of their paper chains was a few dozen feet, and Kara walked all the way over to where the desks gave way to a broad expanse of windows, taking the time to note that the rain had stopped. In the furthest corner, she climbed up on a desk, letting the paper chain tumble to the floor, coiling like a snake, she kept one end in her hand and held it up as high as she could, just shy of the ceiling.
Quickly tearing off a piece, Lena handed it up to her, and Kara stuck the end to the window. Slowly, but surely, the taped their handmade decorations in place. The walls and windows were covered by the end of it, and most of the private cubicles were decked out too. The room looked like it had been taken over by a classroom of middle schoolers, anxiously waiting for the holidays to begin as they bided their time making arts and crafts projects in class. With a last touch, Lena painstakingly shredded a stack of paper into tiny little pits, mostly while she watched Kara tape up rows of snowmen holding hands, large snowflakes, and childish drawings of Santa and christmas trees, and climbing onto a desk, swaying precariously in her drunken state, she threw handfuls of white confetti in every direction.
Laughing, Kara helped her, adding a dusting of fake snow to the office as a final touch, slyly using her freeze breath to create a gentle current to make them drift and eddy across the room, spreading out across the keyboards, desks and chairs. Whichever floor they were on, the staff members were in for a pleasant surprise when they returned from the holidays, or at least Kara hoped it would be pleasant. Tossing the last handful of confetti out across the room, watching it swirl as it floated down to the tiled floor, Kara smiled proudly as she braced her hands on her hips.
“I’ve always loved decorating, you know,” she confided in Lena, “for Christmas, Halloween, even school dances. I was on the prom committee and I got to make all the banners and balloon arches.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“You sound as if you’ve never done any of those things,” Kara quietly laughed, jumping down off a desk and dusting off her hands.
Shrugging from where she was lounging in her desk chair again, Lena gave her a half-hearted smile, “that’s because I haven’t.”
“What?! You’ve never decorated a Christmas tree before? Or, like, carved a pumpkin? Didn’t help out with prom?”
Shaking her head, an amused look crept up on Lena’s face as Kara spluttered, an aghast look on her face at the horror of it. “Nope. My mom used to get the staff to set the tree up, strict Catholic teachers who were adamant that Halloween was for the devil and his worshippers, and I didn’t go to prom.”
Ticking them off her hands one by one, Lena’s smile grew with the increasing look of dismay on Kara’s face. “What, you didn’t go to prom with your friends?”
“Well I’ve never had any friends, so no,” Lena shrugged, the words holding no bitterness or sadness, but said so simply, as a fact, that Kara couldn’t help but pity her.
“It’s okay,” she murmured, “I’ll be your friend.”
A wry smile curled Lena’s lips, and she gave Kara a curious look, her eyes sparkling with mirth. “Friends? It was only a few hours ago that we were complete strangers. This relationship is moving very fast, I must say.”
With a quiet laugh, Kara rolled her eyes, biting her cheek to keep a smile at bay, “at this rate, by the time we get out of here, I’ll be inviting you home to meet the family.”
Snorting, Lena gave her a dry look, her lips twitching, and her expression darkened for a moment as she gave Kara a questioning look, as if trying to figure out whether she was mocking her. And then her face softened again, and she carefully resumed her cutting, head ducked down, and dusty dark hair shielding her face from view.
Making a spur of the moment decision, Kara grabbed a fresh piece of paper, her tongue clamped between her lips as a crease formed between her eyebrows, and she folded the paper with deft movements, silently working on it as they fell into silence. It was only a few minutes before she was holding a cluster of clumsily folded paper roses, and she found paperclips in a little pot on the desk. Making a flimsy chain, she attached the flowers to it in a pale imitation of a corsage, and climbed to her feet. Rounding the desk, she cleared her throat and held out a hand to Lena, who looked up at her with a cautious look on her face.
“Lena, would you do me the honour of going to fake Christmas Eve prom with me?” Kara solemnly asked, fighting back a smile.
With a quick laugh, Lena stared up at her in wonder, before she laughed again, and was soon shaking with laughter as she looked up at the stoic Kryptonian. And then Kara couldn’t help but laugh at the pure sound of delight from the other woman, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she shrugged, her cheeks reddening slightly from the silly attempt. With a soft sigh, Lena finally stopped laughing and gave Kara a bewildered look, before slipping her hand into Kara’s waiting one and climbing to her feet. With a flourish, Kara held the flower bracelet out and Lena let her slip it onto her wrist with amusement.
Gently tugging on her hand, Kara dragged her away from the desks, into the empty space between the neat rows, the music supplying them with something to dance to, and with an anxious look on her face, Lena let Kara draw her in close. There was something quite thrilling to Kara, about holding her boss’ waist, being so close that she could feel Lena’s warm breath fanning against her neck, and she fought back a shiver as she held onto her hand tightly, feeling Lena’s other one gently settle on her shoulder. Slowly moving from side to side, they awkwardly danced, feeling shy and silly, but finding humour in it too, both of them fighting back smiles whenever their eyes met.
When the first song finished, Kara had expected Lena to pull back, but she continued turning in their slow, swaying circle, a peaceful look softening her face as her chin came precariously close to resting on Kara’s shoulder. It was almost as if she hadn’t even heard the song change, and Kara was all too willing to indulge her in another dance. The second one was coming to a close, and she was silently wondering to herself if they’d dance a third too, when Lena broke the fragile silence.
“Can you say my name again?”
Surprised by the question, Kara pulled back slightly, eyebrows rising and a question burning in her blue eyes. Still, she obeyed, tilting her head to the side as she looked into Lena’s eyes, her face and voice softening slightly as she spoke. “Lena.”
A fleeting smile crossed Lena’s lips, and she closed her eyes, her cheek coming to rest on Kara’s shoulder as she turned her head to the side, breath hot against Kara’s neck. “Thank you.”
Waiting for her to elaborate, Kara silently swayed for a few moments, before realising that she wasn’t going to, and her curiosity burned too brightly for her not to ask. “Why?”
Shakily laughing, Lena gave her hand a quick squeeze, where they were still joined. “No one ever seems to just say my name. It’s always Miss Luthor, ma’am, or Lena Luthor. I rarely get the pleasure of just hearing my name. No judgements attached to it, no professionalism, or recognition, just … me.”
“Lena,” Kara quietly murmured again, “it’s a beautiful name. It should be said more often.”
“Do me a favour, Kara; call me by it from now on.”
Pausing for a moment, Kara didn’t mention that once they were both freed, after they’d made it off the floor, and left the building, the magic of the adventurous night would end, like a burst bubble, and they’d be shocked back to the realities of their own lives. In the real world, their lives didn’t collide. There would be no more chances for Kara to call her by her first name, a touch of familiarity and warmth to it as they greeted each other as they climbed into the same elevator they’d drunk wine in when trapped, taking the other employees by surprise, and filling Kara with a smugness as Lena graced her with a rare smile. That wasn’t their reality. After the holidays, Lena would lock herself away in her office on the top floor, and Kara would be stuck doing her lab work, her research languishing away in some drawer as some fanciful wish. A sadness welled up inside her, but she couldn’t bring herself to turn down the favour.
They danced for one more song, before Lena pulled back, giving her a gentle smile, a tired look on her face as they stood close together, standing still as the first notes of the next song gently came to life. There was a look of genuine gratitude in her eyes as she looked up at her, and Kara felt a small tug in her chest, at the fact that something so silly as dancing with someone in a powerless office building on Christmas Eve had meant something to someone else. She couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to feel so alone all the time.
“Thank you,” Lena said with a quiet laugh as she dropped their entwined hands, “I think … if I’d gotten to go to my real prom, I would’ve wanted to go with someone like you.”
Nodding, Kara stepped away from her, swallowing the lump that had rose in her throat out of nerves. There seemed to be a heavy feeling of tension in the moment, as if it was intimate, and secret, just for the two of them, and Kara felt slightly unsettled. She’d never become so attached to someone so quickly, finding herself having a deeper understanding of Lena than most of her friends, after only a few hours with her. It made her stomach twist nervously, almost as if their were butterflies trapped inside.
Walking back over to their desks, Lena chose to sit on the floor, instead of on her chair, leaning back against the solid side of the desk with her legs stretched out before her, pale and grey with dust, bruises already forming on the pallid skin from crawling through the ceiling. Kara’s jeans were just as bad, she noted as she sat down beside Lena, leaning her head back against the side of her own desk. Legs stretched out, Kara let out a soft sigh as her body relaxed. Her eyes were burning with tiredness, her watch telling her that it was drifting towards three o’clock in the morning now, and she found herself growing restless from being trapped. What she really wanted was some sleep.
It seemed like Lena did too, because before either of them could even speak, she was drifting off, her chin dipping towards her chest and her breathing evening out. The effects of the whisky seemed to have taken its toll on her, and she was out cold before Kara could suggest that she lay down and make herself more comfortable. Grabbing her coat from the back of her chair, she draped it over Lena’s bare legs, making sure she was warm and snug, before tipping her head back, listening to the soft pop music still playing from one of the laptops.
She woke up with a jerk, groggily peering around in confusion as she took in the pitch black darkness of the place, momentarily forgetting where she was. And then she felt the warm breath against her neck, the steady heartbeat thudding beside her as a head lolled on her shoulder, hair tickling her jaw, and she looked down at Lena with surprise. The other woman was still peacefully asleep, and Kara smiled to herself as she took in their position, Lena having naturally gravitated towards her warmth. Still half asleep, she nestled back down, her cheek resting on top of Lena’s head, and let out a soft sigh, waiting for the sun to come up.
It was another hour before the sky outside started to lighten, the inky blackness greying in between the shadowy skyscrapers, now easily distinguishable from the night sky, and she perked up at the sound of a quiet ding, the grinding of metal on metal, and the hum of electricity as the power surged back to life. Her small jump had jostled Lena, and the other woman grumbled as she slowly sat up, frowning as she blinked away the last vestiges of sleep and took in her surroundings. Her eyes landed on Kara’s coat blanketing her legs, and the fact that she’d been sleeping on her employee’s shoulder, and she looked up at Kara with startled eyes, two spots of pink colouring her pale cheeks.
“Morning,” Kara whispered, giving her a secret smile, “the power’s back on.”
“The power’s back on?” Lena mumbled, before jerking herself to attention, green eyes wide and a frazzled look about her as she smiled, “the power’s back on!”
Jumping to her feet, Lena gathered up Kara’s coat, fished her heels out of her handbag and slung the bag strap over her shoulder, giving Kara an eager look as the blonde slowly climbed to her feet, glasses askew and a yawn threatening to break. Rubbing at her tired eyes, Kara looked around at the mess they’d created, picking up her bag and smiling to herself. Despite the fact that she’d been trapped and tragically missed out on Christmas Eve antics with her family, she found that her night wouldn’t be one she’d ever forget. It had been eventful and fun, even in the darker moments, and she turned to Lena with a warm look on her face.
Together, they slowly stepped over scattered confetti, ducked beneath strung up paper chains and rounded the desks, making their way towards the large steel doors, which had slowly parted, revealing a straight path to the elevators. Finding themselves feeling eager and energetic, despite the early hour of the day, and the fact that this was the end of their magical evening together, they walked towards it, and Lena quickly jabbed the button to call an elevator. Both of them sagged slightly with relief when the button lit up and dinged, before the doors parted, and Lena made a wry joke about the elevator breaking down again as they stepped inside. Nervously laughing, Kara hoped not, even though her time with Lena had been fun, and she was relieved when the elevator started lurching down to the lobby.
Stepping out into the cool air of the spacious lobby, they were greeted by the sound of surprise from the security guard, giving him tired smiles as they staggered towards the front doors, wishing him a merry Christmas as they passed by his desk. As they neared the doors, Kara let out a quiet exclamation of surprise, a tentative smile lighting up her face as she pressed a hand against the full length window, looking out at the rare sight of white dusting the road and the sidewalk.
“It’s been a night for rarities,” Lena softly murmured, a weary look on her face as she pushed the button to open the automatic doors and stepped out into the brisk morning air, with Kara close behind.
Outside on the sidewalk, breathing in the early morning air, she sharp coldness making their lungs burn, they looked up in amazement at the fine dusting of snow that fell, melting almost immediately upon the wet pavement, making the roads slushy. Their breath plumed before them as they looked around at the snatches of lavender and pink streaking the sky between the soaring skyscrapers, weak sunlight reflecting off all of the windows facing eastwards. Taking a deep breath, Kara flung her arms out wide, letting out a shaky laugh as she tipped her head back, her cheeks turning rosy in the cold, but her blue eyes bright with delight.
“God, I never thought I’d be so happy to be so cold,” Lena sighed, stamping her heeled feet as she sniffed, her hands buried deep in her coat pockets. Her eyes was sharp as Kara turned to look at her, but the smile on her lips faltered slightly, and a touch of regret crept onto her face, as if she was disappointed at her freedom. “Well, I suppose you’d best be getting home.”
Giving her a tired smile, Kara nodded, her body limp with exhaustion, “better late than never.”
“Thank you, Kara,” Lena said after a moment, a broodingly serious look on her face as she looked at her, “it might sound stupid to you, but … thank you for making my Christmas Eve less lonely. It was … eventful.”
“Merry Christmas, Lena.”
She reached out and touched Kara on the arm, a look of warmth in her eyes, almost bordering on fondness, as if she’d come to like Kara very much over the past twelve hours. There was no discomfort between them, and none of the professionalism from the start of their evening, and Kara found herself feeling a little bit sad at the fact that their night together had come to an end. It would be strictly business if they ever crossed paths again, and that was a big if , seeing as they were tiers apart on the L-Corp hierarchy.
Still, Lena gently squeezed her arm, and Kara’s expression softened at the gesture. “You too. I’ll see you at work.”
They stood facing each other for a few more moments, prolonging the moment for a little while longer, and Kara scuffed her shoe along the wet pavement. With another smile, she nodded, shoving her hands into her pockets as snowflakes drifted down to settle on her shoulders.
“Right, I’ll see you at work.”
“And for the record,” Lena said, taking a slow, meandering step backwards, “I love the sweater. I might have to get my own for next year.”
Lena gave her a last smile in farewell and murmured goodbye, before turning around and walking off, her heels clicking on the sidewalk. Frozen to the spot, Kara watched her go for a few moments, before letting out a pent up breath and taking a few slow steps backwards, drinking in the sight of her boss for a moment longer, before she turned around. She’d barely made it two steps, before she heard the clicking heels stop and race back towards her, a voice shouting her name.
“Kara! Kara, wait!”
Turning back around, her eyebrows rose expectantly as she hurriedly closed the gap between her and Lena. She smiled as the pink cheeked woman neared her, her chest heaving from the brisk jog, and she watched as Lena held out her coat, which had been folded over her arm, forgotten about in their delight at being freed from the building.
“I still have your coat.”
“Oh,” Kara murmured, giving her a soft smile, “thank you.”
Giving her a dimpled smile, Lena’s eyes crinkled at the corners, “I wouldn’t want you to freeze.”
Laughing at the ridiculous notion, Kara thanked her again and took the coat, shrugging it on so that she looked somewhat human, standing there unaffected in the rare snowfall. Thanking her again, Kara tied the belt up, and Lena waved her words aside.
Rubbing the back of her neck, Kara shyly ducked her head down, biting her lip as she struggled to speak. “Lena … would you- would you like to - I mean, only if you want to, you don’t have to, that is to say, there’s no pressure to say yes - but would you … would you like to come to my apartment tonight? For Christmas dinner? I’ve got a few friends, and seeing as how we’re not strangers anymore, you’re more than welcome to join. There’s going to be too much to eat anyway, and there’ll be wine too, so you can still-”
Reaching out, Lena took hold of her hand, silencing her, and Kara raised her eyes from the floor, a flustered look on her face as she trailed off. Tilting her head to the side, Lena smiled up at her, filling Kara with warmth. “I’d love to.”
“Oh … okay, um, good.”
“Just let me know what your address is and what to bring.”
Nodding, Kara chewed thoughtfully on her bottom lip for a moment, before opening her mouth, hesitating as a sheepish smile graced her features. “Hey, Lena? What’re you doing right now?”
Cocking her head to the side, Lena gave her an coy look, a spark of intrigue in her eyes, “absolutely nothing, Kara.”
Face lighting up with a hopeful expression, Kara nervously wrung her coat in her hands. “Would you maybe want to come back to mine? My mom and sister will be there. We always make pancakes before opening our gifts. I just- I don’t mean to overstep, but you should probably eat a proper meal.”
“Pancakes?” Lena slowly said, a surprised look dawning on her face, and a look of genuine fondness for Kara. “I, uh, well, I- sure. On two conditions.”
“Firstly, when you come back to work, you’ll accept a promotion to become my assistant on my cancer research.”
“Wha-” Kara spluttered, finding herself speechless as she tried to find the words to react. It was everything that she had ever dreamed of, and a feeling of unbridled joy filled her as she gave Lena a brilliant smile, nodding eagerly. “I don’t know what to say. I- thank you, Lena. Truly.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Letting out a shaky laugh, Kara raised her eyebrows slightly. “And the second condition?”
Lips curling up into a smile, Lena’s eyes crinkled at the corners as she reached out to poke the bump where Kara’s reindeer nose was straining against her coat. “You have to let me borrow one of your fantastically hideous sweaters.”