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“I really appreciate the offer, Miss Luthor, but this is just… it’s a bad time for me, for my family, to take such a big risk. I can’t leave a tenured position for an abstract one, in a department that doesn’t yet exist, at a company that isn’t- that isn’t the most stable, right now. You understand, I’m sure?”

Lena grimaces at the truth in his words, but hurriedly plasters a smile on, despite the fact that this isn’t a video conference, and he has no way of seeing her face. “I completely understand, Doctor Wright. We have to do right by our families before all else.”

“Absolutely. And who knows? Perhaps, in a few years I’ll be ready to take on something new. But right now, it’s so close to the holidays, and my wife is due in just a few months, I’d hate to take her so far from her family…”

“That’s alright, Doctor, I completely understand. And good luck to you and your wife. Congratulations,” Lena replies, her well-wishes sincere as she hangs up on her former professor. Sighing, she lets the smile slip from her face and rubs tiredly at her temples. “Well, fuck.”

This had been her slam-dunk, guaranteed ‘Yes’. He’d been perfect to head up the new division, the role tailored to suit his interests and expertise, and still, he’d turned it down. Because of course he had. After all, who’d want to take such a huge risk on the word of a Luthor? She’d never be able to announce the new division now, not with the end-of-year meetings looming over her head and her mother- augh, her mother- taking every opportunity to snipe at her, her ideas, and her new direction for the company.

Lillian had been furious with Lex’s decision to leave the company to Lena, and even more so with the board’s decision to honor this request. She’d filed injunction after injunction, but to no avail. In the press, she’d been the stoic, poised woman she’d always been, painted more tragic by the figurative loss of her son and the literal loss of her husband. On the steps outside the courtroom, after Lex’s sentencing, she’d told the press how bereaved she was at her beloved son’s descent into madness. How she’d tried- they’d all tried- to help him overcome his demons, but that in the end they’d lost him to them. How she thought that moving forward was what her son, her real son, and her husband would have wanted, how proud she was of her daughter for stepping forward and taking on a mantle that by rights should never have been hers. How strong Lena was, and how she was happy to support her daughter’s efforts as a member of the board at LuthorCorp (a clever bit of maneuvering, that had been. No way to get out of it without damaging an already tarnished family name and reputation, so Lillian had quietly been given a seat of the board and the press was none the wiser at the manipulation).

It is still the only time Lena has ever heard her adoptive mother say that she was proud of her. Others would find this sad, but a rather resigned Lena Luthor simply finds it fitting; affection is never free, merely a transaction. That’d been made abundantly clear throughout her childhood.

A knock at the door and Jess pokes her head in. “Miss Luthor? Are you finished with your conference with Doctor Wright?”

Lena sighs, opening her eyes and favoring Jess with a tight smile. “Yes, our business is concluded.”

Jess winces and slips into her boss’s office, the door closing quietly behind her. “It went that well, huh?”

Lena sighs again, tempted to drop her head onto her desk in a physical display of her discontent, but refrains, deciding that that’d be a touch melodramatic, even for her. “It was not the outcome I’d hoped for, no.” She says this wryly, a half smirk on her lips, but Jess has been her assistant for years now, and knows how to recognize Lena’s disappointment.

“I’ll start compiling a new list of candidates, Miss Luthor,” Jess tells her quietly. “Your 11-o’clock is here, the gentleman from Japan.” Her subtle way of bringing Lena’s day back into focus, of keeping her on-track. Not that her employer has ever been anything less than laser-focused on any task she sets out toward.

“Yes, of course, thank you, Jess. Send him in,” Lena dismisses kindly. “And if you could clear a few hours in my schedule this afternoon, it’s been too long since I visited the R&D labs. I need to check the progress on those new exosuit designs and the prototype Second Skin.”

“Consider it done, Miss Luthor.”

As the door closes once more, Lena takes a deep, centering breath. ‘What’s done is done, Ace. Move forward. A Luthor never lives in the past. Maybes are for weaker people than you and me.’ Surely, it should bother her that her brother’s far-gone words of encouragement are her mantra. It shouldn’t be a comfort.

But it doesn’t, and it is.

The door opens, and she puts on her business smile- polite, charming, aloof- and greets the man whose company she’s about to buy. “Mr. Ito, always a pleasure.”

 

Lena is happier in the labs than anywhere else. It’s her home. She’s been exploring (and occasionally, exploding things) in them since she was first adopted at the tender age of five. She’s grown up here, through school and college and grad school, she’s always been most at home wearing safety goggles on her face and a lab coat on her shoulders. After a very successful meeting with Hiro Ito, she quickly changes into clothes more appropriate for a few hours in R&D and makes her way to the subbasement where the labs are housed.

She’s always welcome there, not only as the company’s CEO, but as a colleague. This had, after all, been her domain for a number of years before- before Lex. She swallows down bittersweet memories of her brother laughing as he hauled her bodily from the lab, determining that no matter how brilliant and lucrative her current breakthrough was, she couldn’t just decide to not eat or sleep for two straight days.

“I can’t afford to pay you this much overtime, Ace.” He’d laughed as he said it, grinning over his shoulder at her as she swatted half-heartedly at his back, bouncing with every step he took.

She shakes her head slightly and greets the new director of the department, her successor, and settles in for a few hours of what she really loves. She allows herself these escapes only infrequently, as a sort of reward for doing all of the aspects of her job that she hates, and to keep the enjoyment fresh and new.

Besides, her team of scientists, engineers, and jittery, over-caffeinated students (with perhaps a bit too much free time on their hands) never fails to impress her. The strides they’re making in bioengineering are astounding, let alone the exosuit they’ve designed for use in emergency situations- search and rescue, disaster relief, etc. - being almost completed, with only a few bugs to work out (one of which, Lena discovers while piloting it, is that the arms are a bit overpowered, smashing though the tons of bricks to rescue the lifelike mannequin rather than carefully sifting through them. Officially, Lena is only slightly disappointed by this. Unofficially, Lena punches through several tons of bricks, smirking in satisfaction all the while. Sometimes, you’ve got to let loose.). She jokes slightly with the staff that she remembers from her own days here and introduces herself to the newer additions, professional but kind in her manner toward them.

All too soon, though, it’s time to return to reality, and with a last promise to check their progress later in the week, Lena boards the elevator. She examines her manicured hands, noting with no small delight the engine grease on her fingers and under her nails. Lillian would be absolutely appalled by the state of her. Lena, for her part, legitimately couldn’t care less if she tried. She tries to ignore the anxiety that builds with every floor she zips past, keycard preventing anyone else from boarding the elevator with her. Straightening her spine and assuring that her face is impassive, she walks from the elevator to her office, greeting those she passes with a courteous smile which, while genuine, invites no conversation. She changes back into her ‘adult clothes’, as Lex had so mockingly called his own assortment of suits and business wear, and readies herself for her next meeting, scheduled in 35 minutes. “Jess?”

The intercom picks up smoothly. “Yes, Miss Luthor?”

“Order me something for lunch, would you? Something light? I don’t want to fall asleep in my late meetings, however boring they may be.”

A knock at the door, and Jess enters the office with several carry-out bags from various restaurants throughout the city, a smile on her face. “Will this suffice?”

Lena grins. “You’re an absolute lifesaver. What would I do without you?”

“Apparently, starve,” Jess observes blandly as she places the bags on Lena’s desk, careful to avoid any potentially important papers or files.

Lena snickers in a very un-ladylike manner, and Jess leaves the office with a proud smirk as her boss tucks into a well-deserved late lunch.

 

Jess had never expected this to be her life, assistant to one of the most powerful female CEO’s in the world. Especially since, when she hired on, Lena was merely the newly promoted head of R&D at the tender age of 21. She’d been slightly intimidated before the interview; after all, not all bosses received multiple degrees from prestigious universities by the time they could legally drink. But Lena Luthor had been shockingly normal. A bit reserved in her manner, and obviously very intelligent. But normal. It was a relief. Jess is a year Lena’s senior, but it’s fairly easy to forget that. Her boss has never seemed to be her own age. Always older. Always a bit somber, which makes sense, considering all that she’s lost in her relatively short life. Her mother when she was barely four, then her father when she was 16 and all the way across the country at CalTech and then her brother, who Jess knows for a fact she’d worshipped and adored. She’d seen the two of them together far too often to miss the obvious affection between them, how Lex Luthor brought out a mischievous side in his sister rarely seen outside his company.

And she’d been there that day, in Metropolis, when Lena had arrived at her office, shaking, covered in ash and grime, and wrapped in a blanket as several officers attempted to convince her to go to the hospital. She’d politely, firmly, refused, asked Jess to clear her schedule for the day, and vanished into her office. The only sounds that emerged that day were a heavy thud and, several hours later, a glass shattering against the wall. When Lena left that night, there was nothing out of place, either on her, or in the office. Except for one crystal tumbler, which was missing from the set she’d received from Lex when she’d been given her own office. Jess, being a dutiful assistant, took note of it, ordered a new one without being asked, and neither she nor Miss Luthor had mentioned the sudden increase in her pay the day after it had arrived. There was no need.

It hadn’t even been in question when Lena had announced that she was moving to National City, that Jess would be joining her, claiming that she was built for more mild weather, anyways, pretending not to notice the way Lena had teared up at her announcement.

But Jess still worries for her boss, and it is this worry that spurs her to leave food on Lena’s desk, and to anticipate the days when there will need to be a gap in her schedule for her to go to the labs or shuffle through paperwork listlessly for an hour or so. She keeps Lena Luthor’s life as simple and linear as she can. She is very good at her job.

With a slight shake of her head, Jess begins again the search for perfect candidates. She never expected this to be her life, sure. But it certainly isn’t a bad one.

 

***************************

It’s late; late enough that even Lena thinks so. Sighing in resignation at the knowledge that there will be no more work completed tonight, she turns off the lamps in her office and begins her journey home. She’d sent Jess home hours ago, but her assistant had compiled dossiers on several potential candidates to head up the new department and had left them on her desk for Lena to peruse later. Lena scoops up the rather impressive pile, and makes her way back to the elevator, firing off a quick text to her driver as she went. Her ride home is quiet, as it always is, and when she finally arrives at her apartment, she allows herself to slump against the door and heave a sigh. It’s been a very long day.

She kicks off her heels and removes the light jacket she’d been wearing, hanging it in its place beside the front door. She groans as her freed toes stretch and curl against the rug at the door, then sets about making herself comfortable. Her dress is placed with the others to be sent to the cleaners on Tuesday, and she shrugs out of her bra- is there any greater feeling than removing one’s bra at the end of the day?- and into a well-loved sweatshirt from her university days and a pair of leggings. This done, she goes to the rather expansive and comically under-used kitchen, opening the fridge to discover that after leaving the office, Jess had come by and dropped off her dinner. Lena smiles. Her loyal assistant is going to have to accept another raise. The reheating instructions are carefully written on a note on the container, and she dutifully places it in the oven, fixing herself a drink while she waits.

It’s been a productive day, all things considered. Hiro Ito had been surprised, but not displeased, at her offer, and had made a point to stipulate that part of the sale would involve keeping as many of his employees on as was possible, something she agreed to readily. She has no desire to upend lives halfway ‘round the world, she simply wants access to the technology they’re unconsciously developing, wants to refine and market it in a way that Ito’s company, while popular and well-known in Asia, won’t be able to accomplish.

The meetings with the marketing team had been equally successful, making great strides in the progress of rebranding the LuthorCorp empire. They’re confident that the rebranding could be completed as early as February. Her mother is furious at the idea, accusing Lena of pettiness over the name-change, which is all she saw of this development, but it was more than that; it was a total company overhaul, ethically speaking. No more sweatshops in poorer nations, no more animal testing, no more unsafe testing, no more dubiously legal pollution. No more. Lex had left her the company for a reason, and she’s determined to put it to work as a force for good. As expected, her mother, along with some of the older board members, are unhappy with this new direction, seeing only the initial hit to their bottom line and not how this will benefit their image and company name in the future.

“A real Luthor would never stoop to this level, hiding who they are to be liked by their inferiors,” Lillian had snapped.

“Well, Mother, I suppose you and I wouldn’t know what a real Luthor would do, would we?”

She’ll be ousting a few key board members, holdouts from Lex’s or even Lionel’s days, quietly over the next several months. Nothing sinister, merely a suggestion that they step down, and simple reasons for doing so. An uncovered affair here, embezzlement there, all kept quiet if they resign without a fuss. She snorts air through her nose. Her mother would be so proud if she knew. She’d always been impressed at how good Lena is at chess. Her dinner ready (vegetarian lasagna from her favorite Italian bistro) and a fresh drink in her hand, Lena settles comfortably on her couch with the stack of dossiers.

‘No rest for the wicked,’ she thinks wryly as she begins to sift through the first file.

Several hours later Lena stretches, satisfied at the candidates she’s narrowed down to. One is almost a local, a professor at a university in Star City. The other two, interestingly enough, are a mother and daughter located in a suburb a few hours outside Metropolis, scientists both, who specialized in xenobiology and medicine, and bioengineering, xenobiology, and quantum engineering, respectively. She can’t help the light snort that escapes her. Evidently, she isn’t the only daughter with something to prove to her mother.

The mother has been out of the field for a few years, dealing first with the sudden loss of her husband and then her own mysterious illness, but still does occasional consult work and is widely regarded as the foremost expert in her field. Her daughter, while less accomplished, seems to be no less impressive, completing her degrees in very little time and already making a bit of a name for herself, having published an article recently that’d been noticed even outside the STEM community. Words used to describe her are ‘passionate,’ ‘driven,’ and ‘dedicated,’ all things Lena prides herself on being.

Her eyes narrow. She is going to be in Metropolis for the following month anyhow, seeing as all the corporate parties and board meetings are still being held there until the rebranding and relocation of her company’s headquarters was completed in a few months. Technically speaking, as of now the National City offices are just a satellite branch of LuthorCorp, though for the past year she’s been steadily transferring many of the core operations here. This was both to distance her company from the tragedy, and to distance herself from the overwhelming memories of her brother that linger in every corner of the Metropolis headquarters.

But this could work out very nicely; interview the candidate from Star City in the next two weeks, and when she’s in Metropolis she could arrange to interview Drs. Danvers. It’ll probably be the highlight of her trip to the home of her adolescence, if she is being honest. But hopefully, a month of schmoozing and meetings and awful, awful holiday parties will be paid off with the beginnings of a team for her new department.

This could work out, she decides. Hopefully, Eliza and Alexandra Danvers are worth a look.

Chapter Text

“Be advised, 10-45 for an auto accident at Main and Luthor; three car collision in the intersection.”

“This is Charlie 22, responding to auto accident at Main and Luthor, ETA two minutes,” Maggie replies into the patrol car’s radio. Turning to her partner, she grins. “Fire up the lights, Little Danvers.”

Kara rolls her eyes slightly at the nickname but does as instructed. “Why do I still have to be Little Danvers? I’m like, a foot taller than you, and technically, now you’re the littlest Danvers. And you knew me first!”

Maggie lets out a loud laugh. “Still Sawyer over here for another three months, Little Danvers. And you’re still the youngest, so there.”

Kara huffs but didn’t argue any further. “So how panicked is my sister getting, that she’s about to be stuck with you for the rest of her life?”

Maggie’s jaw drops in mock offense, but her dimpled grin quickly wins out over her indignation. “I will have you know that she’s only thrown the wedding binder at my head twice this week, thank you very much!”

“Maggie, it’s Tuesday.”

“What’s your point?”

 

The accident looks pretty nasty from where Kara’s standing, but fortunately no one had been too badly hurt, all people involved thankfully having worn their seatbelts. After the last person has been assisted from their car and is seated on the curb, Kara leans into the radio on her shoulder. “Dispatch, 10-43, 10-44 at Main and Luthor. Charlie 22 on scene and directing traffic. 10-1.”

“10-4, Charlie 22. Wrecker and ambulances en route.

“10-4,” Kara replies, taking care where she steps. The intersection is iced over, likely the cause of the accident, and the last thing she needs is to spend the rest of her patrol soaking wet. Just because she doesn’t get cold didn’t mean she enjoys having her uniform stick to her for several hours. She trudges over to Maggie, who’s shivering slightly at the unseasonably cold weather.

“Dammit, Little Danvers, at least have the decency to pretend to be cold, would ya? It’s below freezing,” Maggie whines. Kara chuckles, grabbing Maggie’s hands and carefully, discretely, warming them with her heat vision. Maggie groans in relief. “You’re the best alien I know, Kara.”

“I’m telling Clark you said that,” Kara grinned.

“Go ahead. Lois scares me more than he does.”

“As she should.”

“So when are those two getting hitched, anyways? They’ve been together for decades,” Maggie asks, absently directing traffic around the accident.

“Well, Clark keeps asking, but Lois says that she’s not quite ready to settle for him yet,” Kara laughs, directing traffic on the other side.

“That sounds like Lane, alright. Are they coming down for Christmakah this year?”

“Maybe? I know that Clark was debating it or going back to Smallville to visit Martha, although Martha might be coming up here anyways to stay with Eliza for a week.”

“Your extended family is very complicated, Little Danvers. See, this is why I got myself disowned; no debates over where to spend holidays, no agonizing over whose parents to visit…”

Kara snorts, waving at the first tow truck driver as he arrives on scene. “Yeah, I’m sure that getting kicked out at 16 really smoothed things out for you, Sawyer.”

“Y’know, it kinda did!” Maggie calls cheerfully.

Kara rolls her eyes again. At the rate she was going, another year of being partnered with Maggie and she’d develop a nervous tick.

*******************************

“So when are you done?” Maggie asks as they change out of their uniforms several hours later.

“The beginning of next month, then back to school in January to get my degree,” Kara groans, stretching her taut muscles. Spending hours either stuck in their patrol car or chasing after some idiot who’s trying to rob a neighborhood deli was hardly a workout for Kara, but it doe leave her feeling a bit cooped up. She much prefers the warmer months, when she and Maggie can walk their beat. Maggie had declared her insane at this desire to walk for miles rather than hanging out in their car. “Taking a few weeks off around the holidays to hang out in Midvale with everyone before going back to National City. Winn will be here too, he’s gonna help me pack up and move.”

Maggie looks over at her and smiles softly. “Just so you know, Little Danvers, I’m really proud of you. Not everybody could leave all this-“ here, she gestures around the cramped, smelly locker room at the precinct- “to go back to school, like a total nerd.”

Kara laughs and shoves Maggie lightly, still sending her stumbling a few steps. “Oh hush, you. You’re the one about to make Detective. Not like we’d be partners that much longer anyways, Maggie.”

“Yeah, yeah, maybe, provided I get the job. But seriously, kid, I’m really, really proud of you. You deserve a chance to finish your degree and be a big nerd like your mom and sister.”

“Not quite the same, I’m not doing anything science-related.”

Maggie rolls her eyes. “Yeah, because despite being some alien science prodigy, you can’t even pass physics!” she whispered, conscious of the other people in the locker room.

Kara shoots her a look. “Hey! Just because you’re all wrong about everything, I get marked down for being right.”

Maggie snorts at her, as she always does when the rather amusing topic comes up. “Whatever, kid. I’m glad that with Eliza back on the up and up, you’re getting another shot to do whatever it is you want to do. I’m glad to have been stuck with you for the past few years. And,” she adds smugly, “I’m especially glad that my little rookie partner had such a smokin’ hot sister.”

“Ah! Maggie!”

“Seriously, Little Danvers, it was lust at first sight-”

“Lalalalala, can’t hear you!”

“-the way she wears that lab coat just does something to me, y’know? And damn, what a bangin’ body, amirite?”

Scowling, Kara shoves Maggie again and hurries out of the locker room, ignoring the laughter that follows her.

 

Clark is leaning against his car when she emerges from the precinct, grinning at the look on her face. “Uh-oh. What’d Maggie do to you this time?”

“Talking about Alex’s ‘bangin’ body.’ Again.”

Clark laughs as he opens the passenger door for her. “To be fair, Kar, she isn’t wrong. Alex is a beautiful woman.”

“I’m telling Lois you said that,” she grins, hopping into the car.

His teasing grin, along with all the color in his face, disappears instantly. “Oh god, please don’t. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

“That’s what I thought. You’re such a weenie, Kal.”

“Only when it comes to a potential eternity of Lois yelling at me,” he argues, merging smoothly into the midday traffic.

“Thanks again for picking me up. I know it’s a little out of your way,” Kara offers.

“Nah, don’t sweat it; I’m working from home this afternoon anyways, and you’re right on my way back to the apartment,” he assures her with a smile. “Besides, I don’t know how many more times you’ll need me to give you a ride home, what with you moving away and leaving me all alone with Lois,” he laments playfully.

“Yeah, okay, you guys were already living together when I moved in.”

“Yes, and it’s been such a lovely experience, having a live-in buffer.”

Kara laughs. “Oh please, like Lois filters anything, ever, whether I’m there or not.”

Clark laughs with her. “You just might be right about that.”

 

Kara had moved in with Clark and Lois out of sheer desperation when she’d joined Metropolis PD four and a half years ago, and to her immense shock, she’s really enjoyed it. Having her cousin and his reporter girlfriend around all the time, while an adjustment at the beginning, has been awesome, and she’s closer to him, to both of them, than she’d ever expected to be. Lois is sharp and witty and always says the most unexpected things, and Kal… she feels like she’s really, finally, gotten to know him. He was around a bit when she was a kid, but they’d both been a bit overwhelmed by everything for a long time.

These last few years, they’ve bonded and forged the sort of relationship she knows they would have had if they’d grown up together on Krypton. He’d been hesitant at first, to ask her about their home, but once he’d gotten more comfortable, the floodgates had opened and he was pelting her with questions 24 hours a day. There was no doubt in her mind that he really was an ace reporter. “Kara, what sorts of fruit grew on Krypton? What was my favorite? What was your favorite?” “Kara, were there any oceans? What color were they?” “Kara, what’s the Kryptonian word for ‘dog?’ What do you mean there were no dogs?” “Kara, how did toilets work? Were there even toilets?” Lois had cried laughing at that last one, especially since Kal had yelled it suddenly from the bathroom in their apartment.

In addition to a seemingly unending series of questions, she’d also taught him to speak Kryptonese properly, and he lost all but the faintest touch of his accent. This had ended up being good for both of them; him, because now he spoke and understood their language better, and her, because it’d been so long since she’d spoken her native tongue that she was afraid that she’d lose that part of herself. It had helped her feel closer to her home than she had in a very long time.
Kara knew that she was really going to miss her cousin and Lois, but that she’d left behind the beginnings of her own life in National City, including an internship at CatCo Magazine, when Eliza had gotten sick. Cat Grant, Kara’s former boss, had been shockingly understanding and had told Kara that whenever she came back, she’d have a job waiting for her. Evidently, nearly a year fetching coffees and scheduling the media mogul’s life had left a bit of an impression. And Eliza was better now, and was even talking about going back to work, so there was really no reason that Kara needed to stay in Metropolis. Even if occasionally moonlighting as a superhero with her cousin was really fun.

Still, it was going to be hard to leave her family and the life she’d made for herself here. Her friends on the force and in the communities she patrolled, Maggie, Alex, Eliza, Clark, Lois… Shexs really going to miss them. Granted, she can travel the breadth of the country in less than 10 minutes, but it isn’t going to be the same.

“Did Martha decide whether or not she’s coming to Midvale for Christmakah? Eliza asked and I keep forgetting to ask you.”

Clark smiles broadly. “She did, and she is. You know she gets lonely out there this time of year without Pa around, and Eliza’s is always full to bursting with all her strays.”

“I resent being called a stray,” she informs him, laughing.

“I was more talking about Maggie and Winn.”

“That’s fair.”

 

They spend the rest of the afternoon in companionable quiet, Kara lightly dozing on the couch in the living room and Clark typing away on his laptop, muttering under his breath about deadlines. The TV is off, as it usually is; the Cadmus interruptions are happening more and more frequently these days.

It is here that Lois finds them when she comes home, and she immediately flops facedown onto a sleeping Kara’s torso, letting out a contented sigh at the sudden influx of warmth to her chilly frame.

Kara wakes at the sudden impact. “Lois, what the heck?!”

“I’m freezing my tits off, Danvers. It’s really your own damn fault for being a walking furnace and looking so comfortable on my couch,” Lois informs her, not bothering to move from where she’d sprawled across Kara.

Clark chuckles from across the room, and then laughs when Lois raises him a one-fingered salute, face still burrowed into Kara’s sweater. Lois has never been one much for boundaries, and Kara has always been pretty tactile, so the scene before him isn’t really all that uncommon. Kara, for her part, just rolls her eyes fondly and goes back to sleep, Lois’ weight on her chest feeling like nothing more than a thin blanket draped across her. She’s used to the reporter’s antics by now, and if she tries to get Lois to move, it’ll only ensure that she’ll stay and make even more of a nuisance of herself.

Lois had originally been joking, and planned to get up, but she’s actually pretty comfortable, and her own Kryptonian heater is currently busy, so she snuggles in further and falls asleep herself.

After several minutes of quiet, Clark looks over at them and has to fight a smile. Lois is unceremoniously draped across Kara, her petite frame barely spanning the length of Kara’s lean torso (“Damned giant aliens, all of you. I liked it when you were still tiny, Danvers.”). Kara has one arm thrown over Lois’ back to prevent the boisterous brunette from falling from her perch, the other thrown over the arm of the couch, snoring lightly, seemingly oblivious to the grown woman sleeping on top of her. In short, it’s adorable.

Quietly as he can, he floats over to grab his camera from his work bag and snaps a few photos of the scene, before finally taking a good one of them on his cell phone and sending it to their rather expansive (and convoluted) extended families. Glancing again at the digital image, he has to chuckle. This was definitely one for the scrapbook he was gifting Kara for Christmas.

Satisfied that his camera work is concluded, he moves to the kitchen to start on dinner. The only thing worse than hungry Kryptonians, he’s learned, is a hungry Lois Lane.

 

“Danvers, Smallville made Ma Kent’s fried chicken and rolls and mashed potatoes, and if you don’t let go of me right now, he’s going to fucking eat all of it while we sleep.”

Clark lets out a squawk of protest around the mouthful of food he’s currently wolfing down. “Hey!”

Kara comes awake at the first mention of fried chicken, placing Lois delicately on her feet before disappearing into the kitchen in a blur of color.

“Hey! No fair, dammit! Leave food for the human!” Lois yells after her.

“Snooze ya lose, Lois,” Kara teases, emerging victorious with a platter full of food and plopping into the chair beside her cousin. “Never stand between a Kryptonian and fried chicken. Or pizza. Or potstickers. Really any food,” she adds thoughtfully.

Lois grumbles under her breath and makes her own way into the kitchen. “Damn house is full of hungry superpowered fucking food vacuums, I swear to god…”

“I keep our streets safe, I deserve fried chicken,” Kara calls.

Lois pokes her head out of the kitchen. “Fine, you’re allowed fried chicken on account of being a cop. Thank you for your fucking service.”

Kara salutes her with a chicken wing and a wink before going back to the serious business of demolishing a small mountain of food.

“What about me?” Clark asks, pouting playfully at her. “I also keep our streets safe. And I made the chicken, don’t I deserve to eat some of it?”

“You’re allowed chicken only because you’re really good in bed,” she informs him tersely before returning to getting herself a plate.

Red-faced, Clark and Kara avoid eye-contact for the remainder of the meal, Lois grinning smugly at them from across the table.

 

“So Danvers, when’s your last day?”

“First of December, so… two weeks, I guess. Wow.” They’re sitting on the balcony, looking out at the city, bowl-sized cups of hot chocolate in their hands, courtesy of Clark.

Lois smiles sympathetically, adjusting the blanket across her shoulders. “Seems like last week you were pretending to struggle to carry all your boxes up the stairs, and now you’re leaving us.”

“Oh no, not you too,” Kara groans, laughing thickly. “Seriously, if one more person tells me they’ll miss me, I’m gonna lose it and just cry forever.”

Lois laughs with her, shoving her hard and still barely moving her. “No, you brat. It just... it won’t be the same without you around, using all my hot water and drinking all the damn milk.”

“Now, to be fair, the milk thing is totally Clark, and we all know it.”

A muffled “Hey!” can be heard from inside the apartment, and they both snicker.

“Honestly, it does seem kinda crazy. I mean, gosh, I’ve built this whole life for myself here, and I’m just dropping everything and moving all the way across the country.”

Lois clasps her hand comfortingly. “But this is what you actually want; not what someone wants for you, not what you’re thrown into. It’s something just for you, and that’s really great, Kara.”

Kara smiles at her. “Thanks Lois.”

“Besides, maybe you’ll find someone special and get laid.”

“Aaaaand, you ruined it,” Kara sighs in exasperation, taking her hand back and taking a large swig of her hot chocolate.

“Hey, I’ve lived with you for almost five years, Danvers, I know of what I speak. You’ve brought home two- two¬- people the whole time, and one of them was Winn. You really need to get laid.”

“Oh Rao, why?” Kara laments, staring up at the sky.

“Look, if you want tips, I can help you out. Smallville loves it when I do this one thing; I-“

“LOIS!” come the mutual shouts of her boyfriend and her roommate beside her.

She shrugs. “Fine, don’t take my advice. But I’m not wrong about that thing, so if you do wanna know later I’ll totally tell you.”

“Lois!”

“Fine, you fucking prudes!”

Kara laughs so hard she tears up a bit. She’s especially going to miss Lois.

 

*****************************************

 

Officer Kara Danvers is a decorated member of the Metropolis PD, having received commendations for bravery under fire (“Easy when you’re bulletproof,” Maggie had argued sullenly), injuries received while protecting her fellow officers (that’d been annoying, she’d had to pretend to be injured for weeks), and rescue efforts above and beyond the call of duty. She’s known for her positive attitude and optimism, her ability to connect with the people in the communities she patrols- especially food vendors and children-, and the fact that she can beat anyone from any precinct in both hot dog eating and arm wrestling contests.

She’s a staunch defender of Superman, and has been seen speaking with him on numerous occasions on scene, most notably the explosion in the park over a year ago, when Lex Luthor had detonated several bombs that’d killed seventy-six people and injured hundreds more.

James Olsen had taken a brilliant photo of her that day, carrying an injured woman in her arms. Her hair fell loose from its usual bun, her glasses were nowhere to be found, the uniform she so proudly kept neat was disheveled, and there was grime smeared across her face. But her eyes were kind, fixed on the woman, speaking comfortingly at her as she made her way to the ambulances lined up outside the crater. It was a powerful image that challenged the idea of men being heroes and women being less than when it came to careers such as law enforcement.

It’d made the front page of nearly every newspaper and magazine in the country, and James had won several photography awards because of it (including a second Pulitzer). Clark had even hung it in the apartment, next to her academy graduation photo and one of Kara, Lois, and him riding a roller coaster at Six Flags, mouths open in a scream captured in time. She’d been something of a local celebrity for a few weeks, until the trial regained everyone’s attention.

Kara’s never liked that photo, but she never says so. James is so proud of it, and everyone else is so proud of her that she doesn’t have the heart. But she kind of hates it. Because she didn’t save everyone that day, and this photo is a constant reminder of that failure.

Kara herself is proud of the impact she’s had on a city she’s come to love, and doesn’t regret for a moment the years she spent with MPD. It’s helped her to decide who she wants to be, she’d been able to help people in a way regular officers couldn’t, and, given enough time, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she’d have risen through the ranks.

But it isn’t what she wants. She wants to help more, to be where she’s needed most without having to wait for a call. It’s incredibly frustrating to someone who can hear everything happening in Metropolis to not be able to help everyone. She’s seen too many kids caught up in things beyond their understanding or control, she’s seen too many good people hurt and bad ones exonerated.

So she’s going back to school, and hopefully she’ll figure out how to fix a broken world while she’s there. Or, at least, finally finish her degree.

 

“Dipatch, be advised, Charlie 22 is 10-7 for lunch.”

“10-4, Charlie 22.”

Kara sighs happily. “I love lunch.”

Maggie snorts at her from the driver’s seat. “Little Danvers, I just watched you eat an entire taco 12-pack less than an hour ago.”

“What’s your point?”

Maggie rolls her eyes fondly. “Alright, kid, what do we want today?”

“Chinese? Chinese sounds good.”

“Why am I not surprised? Wong’s good with you?”

Kara nods eagerly, eyes bright at the thought of her favorite potstickers. They pull into the tiny parking lot and hustle inside.
Wong’s may not be the most impressive-looking restaurant in the world, but they certainly put out great food, which, in Kara’s opinion, more than makes up for its shabby appearance.

“Ah, our best customers! The usual?”

Kara grins. “Yeah, and double potstickers for me, Su. It’s my last day.”

“Oh, that’s right. You leave us for school in California. But who will make your potstickers, eh?” Su chides gently.

“Oh, I’ll still come back. You guys are the best, Su,” Kara assures her.

Su throws her palm down at her, blushing. “Flatterer. You’ll be set in 10 minutes.”

Kara grins and goes to take out her wallet, but is stopped by Maggie’s firm hand. “Little Danvers, if I let you buy your own lunch on your last day on the job, I’ll never hear the end of it from the guys. This one’s on me.”

“Oh, hey, Maggie, you really don’t have to, I’m not exactly a cheap date, and-“

“Shush. Let my new detective’s salary pick up the tab.”

Kara opens her mouth to argue some more, but then processes what Maggie’s just said and the way she’s grinning ear-to-ear. “Oh my gosh, you got it?!”

If possible, Maggie’s grin widens. “I did. You’re looking at the newest Vice Detective, starting after the New Year.”

“That’s so exciting!” Kara squeals, lifting Maggie up and spinning her in a crushing hug.

“Ack, down. Little Danvers… Kara… can’t breathe,” Maggie gasps, struggling valiantly.

Still smiling brightly, Kara sets her future sister-in-law back on the ground. “I’m so excited for you! Does Alex know yet?!”

“Nah, not yet, I just found out this morning myself. Plus, I wanna tell her in person to reap the rewards of my hard work,” Maggie tells her with a sly wink.

“Augh, ew, Maggie. Why?” Kara pulls a face, sticking out her tongue and wrinkling her nose in disgust. “Why do you always do this to me?”

Maggie shrugs. “Honestly, kid, at this point it’s really involuntary. And it’s also your fault for being sisters with the best woman on the planet.”

“That’s true, Alex is the best.”

“See? Common ground. Now c’mon, you eat three pounds of potstickers in the car while I moon over your sister.”

“Only half of that sounds fun for me,” Kara points out, gathering up all the bags of food as they return to their cruiser.

“It’s not always about you, kid, don’t be selfish.”

“So, since it’s my last day, think I could drive?” Kara asks hopefully, flashing Maggie a mega-watt smile.

“Absolutely fucking not.”

“Rats.”

Chapter Text

Lena is waiting outside the door to Luthor Manor.

Waiting isn’t quite the right word, really. Lena is hesitating outside of Luthor Manor, fists clenched at her sides as she tries to take a deep, steadying breath. So far, the only breaths she has been managing to take are shallow and shaky, puffing out from between her lips and disappearing before her eyes like wisps of smoke.

She can do this. She is the youngest CEO in LuthorCorp’s hundred-year history. She graduated from CalTech at the age of 19 with dual masters degrees. She speaks five languages. She’d been named one of Forbes’ ’30 Under 30’ when she was 22. She is pushing her company into a better tomorrow, kicking and screaming.

She can certainly handle a month with her mother. And yet, she is still on the sweeping porch. Hesitating. Freezing. She blows out a breath, frustrated with herself.

Lillian had arranged for her to stay at the Manor after learning that she’d booked a suite in Metropolis’ go-to hotel for the well-to-do. “It’s really no bother to have you stay with me. Besides, dear, what will people think if you stay in a hotel when your family home is five minutes away?”

‘What will people think’ had been Lena’s entire childhood. It’s been said to her, about her, around her so much that over the years it’d become almost an involuntary mantra.

Intrusive thoughts are common for someone who’s experienced trauma…” That’s what her therapist had told her. She’d rolled her eyes.

Steeling herself, she’s finally able to take in a deep breath and walk into her childhood home. It looks much the same, but feels far emptier. It had never been a warm place, full of laughter and music and the smell of things baking in the oven, but now it’s cold. Aloof, in a way that despite years of trying she’s never been able to maintain. Almost repellant.

Lillian is not there to greet her, of course. She’s out of town for a few days, over in Gotham City attending some gala or other. Lena had expected no different, and the fact that she isn’t here is a strange relief. Lena will at least have some time to herself after her flight. She’s never been the greatest fan of flying.

She wanders through the halls, caught up in a tide of memories. She and Lex lying in wait for Lionel to fall into their prank behind that potted fern. Her father smiling fondly at her after her first piano lesson when she’d demonstrated her rather limited new abilities in the parlor. She and Lex sneaking into the kitchen late at night to steal snacks before watching hours of The Twilight Zone reruns. Reading quietly in Lionel’s office while he worked at his desk, starting a lifelong fondness for the smells of old books and pipe tobacco. Playing chess over and over with Lex, watching as his eyes lit up when she did something unexpected.

There, outside the dining room, the first place Lillian had ever slapped her.

She blinks heavily, sets her jaw, and walks faster toward the room that was hers, where she knows she’s expected to stay again.

No sense setting up a guest room when you already have one, dear.” She set the wheeled suitcase she’d hauled from the car at the foot of the bed. She’s never liked this room. It was at the far end of the hall, a corner room, so at night there were two walls of windows, and the maple tree outside had always crashed against them in storms. The branches had scraped eerily against the glass and the brick, and had sent her scurrying to Lex’s room more than once in the wee hours of the morning.

She’d learned after her first night here that she was not welcome to knock on Lillian and Lionel’s door when she had a nightmare. She swallows again.

This room, much like the rest of the house, is largely unchanged, littered with books and awards and the closet full of clothes she’s barely seen in a decade, since she’d moved to California at 14 to attend first boarding school and then college. It’s smaller than most would expect, but in retrospect, this isn’t surprising either. Lillian had never made it a secret that Lena wasn’t wanted here, and giving her the smallest bedroom she could reasonably give Lena had been just another way of showing her that she wasn’t welcome.

Lena kicks off her heels, relaxing her feet after nearly a full day of travel, and leaves the room, switching the light off quietly behind her. As she walks down the hall, she hesitates facing a door before gently pushing it open.

Lex’s room. If hers is untouched, his is a shrine. Everything is bright and polished, and she has no doubt that if she were to walk over to his desk, everything will be exactly where he left it.

The sheets have clearly been recently washed and turned down, a suit jacket is thrown haphazardly over the back of his desk chair, looking like he’d left it there the night before. A wild thought flits through her mind that if she were to wait long enough in here, eventually he will appear, loosening his tie and grinning at her, calling her Ace and goading her into a game of chess.

But he won’t.

She has to get out of here.

She walks briskly back to her childhood bedroom, unzipping her bag and taking out a pair of slacks and a sweater, as well as a pair of boots she’d left behind a few years ago when Lex had begged her to come home for Christmas. The last Christmas she’d spent here. “You’re gonna leave me to swim with the sharks, Ace?”

Jerking her dress off and the warmer clothes on, she takes the stairs two at a time, tugging her boots on as she goes.

Absently, she grabs the first pair of keys her fingers touch in the garage. They turn out to belong to a fairly inconspicuous- but still overly-luxurious- sedan. Lena jumps into the car, starting it shakily; she throws it into gear and speeds away, no real destination in mind.

***************************

“All packed up?” Clark is leaning against the doorframe just outside her bedroom, soft smile playing at his face. “Yup!” Kara replied, grinning over her shoulder.

“Winn is already on his way to Midvale with most of my stuff, said something about Eliza’s latkes.”

He laughs at that. He’s always liked Winn. “Why am I not surprised?” She shrugs, still smiling faintly.

“Hey, you alright?” he asks, crossing the room in a few quick strides and sitting beside her on the bare bed.

“Yeah, yeah, of course. It’s just really empty in here,” she assures, voice a little watery. “It’s kinda weird, is all.”

Clark throws an arm over her shoulders and draws her closer to his side in a hug. “Hey, Kara, you’re always welcome here, you know that. And you can literally get here within minutes. Lois is already plotting at least four trips to California- don’t tell her I told you, they’re supposed to be surprises. You have a great job lined up already, and you worked so hard to get those scholarships lined up at UCNC-”

“No, I-I know, but I’m just… Rao, I’ll miss you guys. It’s been really nice the last few years, getting to know you,” she mumbles, voice muffled by Clark’s shoulder. “It felt like Krypton wasn’t… wasn’t totally gone, you know? Like I was a little less… alone.”

Silence descends on the room. “I-I know that I haven’t always been there when you needed me, Kara,” he finally says gently, thumb rubbing comfortingly against her shoulder. “And I know that it’s hard for you, to be the last true Kryptonian. I was born there, but everything I know about Krypton is secondhand. So I don’t know what it’s like, to lose home so completely, because I’m not a real Kryptonian. But,” he says, holding up a hand to stave off her protests, “I have loved having you around to teach me. I missed out on a lot of years, and never asked a lot of questions I wanted answered because I was too afraid of what I’d learn.

“I was terrified that if Krypton became a real place- a planet, with people and families and fruit trees and toilets-“ Kara snorts out a laugh here, just as he’d hoped she would- “that I’d never feel at home here again. I’d get wrapped up in a place I’d never remember. But by keeping my distance, I made sure that you’d never feel at home here. I was really wrong, to leave you. And I’m so happy that you found home with the Danvers’. But you’re a better person than I am. If our situations were reversed, I don’t know that I could have forgiven you. I’m still not sure why you forgave me; Rao knows I didn’t deserve it." He nudges her slightly so she’ll look him in the eye, hers so similar in color, shape and expression to his own. He’s learned that their eyes are part of what marks them as members of the House of El. “I have loved having you here. I have loved getting to know you. You’re my family. And you better believe that I’ll be showing up at your door with a windswept Lois and a full suitcase of Wong’s potstickers whenever you need me, no matter if you’re in National City or Hong Kong or Sao Paolo. You are not ever alone, Kara Zor-El. Okay?”

She nods quickly and pulls him into a hug that only he could be reasonably expected to handle. “Thank you, Kal.”

“Any time, Kara.”

“Well, well, well, look how soft and mushy,” a familiar voice teases from the doorway. They look over as one to see Lois smirking at them. “If the bad guys only knew how easy it is to turn the Man of Steel into a puddle, we’d never be safe again.”

Kara lets out a wet laugh, removing her glasses to clean them of the teardrops they’d caught, Clark doing the same beside her. “Lois, you know you want in on this hug. Bring it in.”

She rolls her eyes playfully, crossing the room and settling on Clark’s lap, pulling both of them into a tight hug. “You know I can’t resist a Super sandwich.”

Clark winces. “It always makes me uncomfortable when you say that.”

“Which is why I say it,” she grins at him, pressing a kiss to his lips and another to Kara’s cheek. “Now c’mon, I have one final feast for us to enjoy before Kara is officially evicted.”

“Hey!” “Sorry, Danvers.” She shrugs. “Rules are rules, I don’t make ‘em. Move your asses, aliens.”

With a shared exasperated looks, they leave Kara’s empty room behind, Clark barely remembering to flick the light off behind them.

 

Kara’s never been a big fan of driving. Scratch that- Kara enjoys driving, it’s just that everyone else seems to think that she’s really bad at it and refuses to let her most of the time. Winn says that it’s terrifying, and, okay, like one time Alex got car sick when she was driving. Maybe twice. But still.

So Kara enjoys driving, especially long car rides by herself, which is exactly what she’s settled in for as she pulls her little blue SUV out of her space for that last time and heads toward Midvale. A storm looks like it’s rolling in, but she’s confident that she’ll be able to beat the storm and make it to Midvale within four hours. The roads are still a bit icy, so she’s being extra cautious and told Eliza that she might be a bit late for dinner. She smiles as she finally exits off the highway, much preferring the winding back roads to the congested interstate, and cranks the volume on her radio, belting out the words to every song she knows.

She’d always sung to Maggie in the cruiser, knowing that the other officer’s rolled eyes and suppressed grins were merely her way of expressing her gratitude for Kara entertaining her. Her shield is hanging on a chain from the rearview mirror, a reminder of her years of service, and her heavy MPD-issued parka is tossed onto the seat beside her (not that she ever really needs it).

It’s rare for Kara to have time to herself; between living with Clark and Lois, working constantly with Maggie, sister nights with Alex (and later, Maggie), friend nights with all of them, visiting Eliza and taking her to appointments when she was sick… she never has much time alone.

And she doesn’t mind, really. Kara honestly sort of hates being alone, she spent enough time alone in the Phantom Zone for a dozen lifetimes.

Still, sometimes it’s nice to just be able to shut off and meander through the backwaters of Delaware and Maryland with nothing but the radio and the falling snow for company.

It’s been an emotional few days, between her send off from the precinct (all of the officers and detectives she’s worked with over the years showed up and surprised her when Alex had dragged her out to a dive bar under false pretenses. She’d cried, they’d all ribbed her, it’d been a great night) and packing up her stuff and moving out of the apartment today, she figures she could use some quiet.

And no one is on these roads in what’s rapidly becoming a blizzard anyways.

**********************

Lena isn’t entirely sure where she is at this point, only that there appears to be a storm outside the cocoon of her car, and that it’s starting to get a bit dark.

She must’ve been driving for hours. She remembers making her way out of the city, feeling claustrophobic and anxious, and through the suburbs, and then she was just driving aimlessly, making turns when she felt like it and careening through forest-skirted roads and tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it towns without care.

She’s finally more relaxed, knuckles no longer stark white where her hands grip the steering wheel. She hasn’t bothered to turn on her GPS, or check her phone- did she even remember to grab her phone?-, or turn on the radio. She needed some quiet. She needed to think. She vaguely remembers seeing a Welcome to Maryland! sign a little while ago, which means she’s at least two hours outside the city. More by now.

The snow is really starting to come down, now, and suddenly, the car is spinning crazily out of her control. She must have hit a patch of ice. She tries desperately, counter-steering as best she’s able, but there’s a large tree, looming closer with every pass, until her efforts are proven to be in vain. The car hits the tree, the airbag deploys, and the world goes black.

*******************

Kara’s waving her hands around dramatically as she sings along to the 80’s power ballad blasting through the speakers, belting as loudly as she can, when she senses something is amiss.

There’s no one else on the road, there hasn’t been anyone for almost an hour now, but she can hear a distinct noise, a persistent dinging, over and over.

And a single human heartbeat.

Kara lowers the volume, solo concert forgotten as she concentrates on the sounds she’s hearing, slowing her car as she rounds a bend and sees a black sedan crumpled against a tree, steam or smoke rising from the hood. The interior is dark, but she can hear someone moving and cursing- albeit sluggishly- under their breath.

“Oh. Oh, gosh.” She gets her car as close as she safely can, quickly grabbing her jacket and her badge, knowing not to even bother with her phone- this area has been a cellular dead-zone for as long as she can remember. Hopefully she won’t need either- especially the badge, since she’s not technically a cop anymore- but better safe than sorry. She hurries over to the cracked driver’s side window and knocks.

Hearing a relieved sigh of, “Oh, thank God,” she thanks her own and pulls the door open. Well, she pulls it completely off the hinges. Still, that’s open, right? “Ma’am, are you alright?”

And then her breath leaves her chest in a woosh.

Kara has seen a red sun set on a dying planet. She’s seen Earth’s sunrise from the stratosphere. She’s stood on top of Everest and swam in the Nile and seen things of such an otherworldly beauty that she’ll never be able to explain them to someone who hasn’t beheld them.

The shaken woman in the crashed car puts them all to shame.

Even bruised and bleeding, it’s easy to see that she’s beautiful. “Yes, I’m fine, or, I think I’m fine. Bump on the head.”

Kara shakes off her immediate reaction, professionalism pushing into the forefront of her mind. “Are you sure? You’re bleeding.”

“I think the airbag might’ve broken my nose,” she says, and Kara can tell that she’s right.

“Does it hurt a lot? I can set it for you.” The brunette quirks an eyebrow at her.

“Are you a doctor, or just a sadist?”

“No! No, I’m Kara, Kara Danvers- I was a cop. Until like, two days ago,” Kara laughs. “Now, before you move too much, I need to do a quick assessment. Can you feel your arms and legs? Wiggle your toes and fingers?”

The woman looks at her dubiously and makes a show of wiggling her fingers and her feet.

“Right, good. Now squeeze my fingers as hard as you can. What’s the date?” Kara asks. She subtly looks the woman over with her x-ray vision, relieved when nothing is obviously amiss.

“The 4th of December.” Kara nods, pleased at the force the other woman can squeeze with. “Great. Do you know where you are?”

A flush stains the driver’s cheeks. “No, actually, but I wasn’t sure of that before the crash. Somewhere in Maryland, I think?”

“Good enough for me. Now I need you to stay really still while I get you out of the car. I don’t think you have a spinal injury, ma’am, but better safe than sorry.” Kara unbuckles the woman, very grateful that she was wearing a seatbelt, and puts one arm behind her knees, the other behind her back, and lifts her effortlessly from the car. Normally she wouldn’t dare move someone who could be badly hurt, but she doesn’t trust the smoke still streaming out of the ruined hood of the car. ‘Alex is gonna kill me. She’s always hassling me about a hero complex.’

“I think I’m okay to stand, honestly.” She sounds amused, and Kara belatedly realizes she’s still holding her in her arms.

“Oh! Um, if you’re sure?” She nods, and Kara puts her down gently.

“Thank you. I wasn’t sure what I was to do, my phone doesn’t have service and the car is just… totaled. I couldn’t even get the door open.” She sighs, running her hands through her long hair, fingers catching in a tangle. “Yes, thank you.”

“O-of course, ma’am. It was my job for a while, you’re not the first-“

“Damsel in distress you’ve rescued?” the woman asks, hitching her eyebrow again. “And you can call me Lena.”

‘Lena.’

“So, Lena, did you want me to set your nose? It’s not a bad break, but the sooner it’s done the better, and-“

“I suppose, if it’s for the best,” Lena says, hesitantly.

Kara smiles reassuringly. “I know it’s scary, and I’m not gonna lie, it doesn’t feel great, but it’ll feel better in a second.” At Lena’s nod, Kara places her fingers on either side of her nose and in a swift motion pops it back into place.

“Ow, fuck,” Lena yelps, tears escaping at the corners of eyes that are screwed shut with pain. “Damn, shit, that hurt.”

Kara winces in sympathy. “I know, I’m sorry. Here,” she pulls off her thin scarf and stretches it out, loading it with a handful of snow and handing it to Lena. “Put this on it, that way you won’t look like Mike Tyson tomorrow.”

Lena snorts, taking the makeshift ice pack and pressing it gently onto her face. “So,” she drawls, “do you know where a girl can get a cab back to Metropolis?”

“Metropolis? In this weather?” Kara asks incredulously. “Nowhere. It’s hours away, and nobody’s taking that fare in this storm, no offense. Besides, you need to go to a hospital. You could have a concussion.”

“Well, Officer, I’ve never met a cab fare I couldn’t pay,” Lena smirks. “And I don’t really feel concussed. But I would love to get out of this cold, I was in the car for a bit before you got here.”

Kara notices the shorter woman is shivering and immediately throws her coat over her shoulders. “Gosh, you’re freezing!”

“And you aren’t,” Lena observes dryly, a narrow-eyed gaze sweeping up and down Kara’s body.

“Oh, haha, I, ah, I don’t get cold,” Kara dismisses. At Lena’s incredulous look, she hastens to add, “Easily! I mean I don’t get cold easily. C’mon, let’s get you in the car.” She hastens over to her SUV, knowing that her ears and cheeks will be flushed red and thankful that she can blame it on the cold. She opens the door for Lena, who gets in and looks into the back seat, where the last of Kara’s possessions have been shoved haphazardly.

“Do you live in your car?” Lena asks, curious and amused.

“Nah, I’m moving, actually,” Kara tells her, flopping into the seat and buckling her belt before starting the car. She sets a GPS marker on her phone, making a mental note to call her friends at the county sheriff’s office to let them know about the car and the accident. No sense in Lena getting arrested for fleeing a crime scene. “My friend has the rest of my stuff in his car, he’s hopefully already at my mom’s, eating all the latkes and Christmakah cookies he can stuff in his mouth.”

“Where are you moving, if you don’t mind my asking?”

"National City. For school, at UCNC.” Lena smiles.

“That’s quite a coincidence, that’s where I live, believe it or not.”

“You’re kidding! Wow,” Kara laughs, carefully navigating on the snow-flooded roads. “We’ll have to grab lunch or something. Where in town do you live?”

“A loft downtown, not too far from work.”

Kara lets out a low whistle. “Fancy. You must have a great job. I’m just Miss Grant’s assistant for now, but I found- well, actually, my sister and her fiancée found- a really great apartment that’s rent controlled and yeah, that’s where I’ll be.”

“It pays the bills,” Lena drawls wryly. “Who is Miss Grant?”

“Cat Grant. CatCo’s CEO. My old- Current, now, I guess- boss.”

Lena cocks an eyebrow. “You want to be Cat Grant’s assistant? I was wrong, Kara, you aren’t a sadist; clearly you’re a masochist.”

Kara laughs. “Maybe so. But it’s just for now. Like I said, I’m going back to school next month to wrap up my degree.”

Lena hums thoughtfully, but doesn’t press for any more details, instead resting her forehead against the cool glass of the window. “So where are we going, exactly?”

“Eliza’s- my… mom. She’s a doctor, and has some equipment in her lab out back. She’ll be able to sort you out. We’re only about 10 minutes away, the nearest ER is like 30, on a good day.”

“Your mother has a lab in her house? Am I being kidnapped? Are you about to take my kidneys, Kara?” Lena asks, a small smirk turning up the corner of her lips.

Kara laughs again. “No, she’s a scientist, and she runs some of her more long-term, boring experiments in one of the pole barns out back. She has some scanners and stuff for her work.” Not to mention that thanks to Kara’s x-ray vision, she knows that while Lena does have a concussion, it’s very mild, and there’s nothing else physically wrong with her.

Lena nods, digesting this information, before sitting up ramrod straight. “I’m sorry, did you say your last name was Danvers?"

**********************

Lena eyes the blonde beside her with renewed interest. Not that she was uninteresting before- in fact, there’s a niggling sense of recognition at the back of Lena’s mind- but… “And your mother’s name is Eliza. Eliza Danvers? And she’s a scientist?”

Kara nods hesitantly. “Um, yes?”

Lena grins. There’s no way she’s this lucky. “And the sister you mentioned, is her name Alexandra? Is she a doctor and a scientist too?”

For the second time that day, the car Lena’s in jerks to a very abrupt halt, this time because Kara has slammed on the brakes without warning.

She throws the car in park, swiftly undoes her seatbelt, whips off her glasses, and is in Lena’s face before she’s done wincing at the way the seatbelt had dug into her shoulder. “Okay, who the heck are you? How do you know my sister’s name, or what she does? Are you working with somebody I put in jail? Is this some sort of blackmail thing? Because I can tell you right flippin’ now that you’re messing with the wrong-“

“Hey, easy, Kara,” Lena soothes, hands up in a gesture of innocence. “I’ve just- it seems coincidence strikes twice; I’ve been trying to get in touch with both of them for weeks about a job offer I wish to make them. My company is unveiling a new department, and I want your mother to run it for me. I’m a big fan of her and your sister’s work.”

“You- what?” The fire is gone from Kara’s eyes, leaving only confusion. Lena hastens to explain.

“Look, my company… I’m opening a new division that will incorporate alien tech and develop medicine for aliens on Earth. I’ve been trying to get hold of Drs. Eliza and Alexandra Danvers for the past two weeks, to offer them jobs heading up the department. But it’s been so busy that I haven’t been able to reach them.”

“Your company, what company?”

Lena bites her lip hesitantly. “LuthorCorp.”

She watches as Kara’s eyes widen and then narrow. “LuthorCorp. You’re Lena Luthor.”

She straightens and meets Kara’s gaze. “I am.”

Kara looks at her a moment longer before nodding decisively and putting the car back into gear. “Alright, Lena. Tell me about the job. You said it was medicine for aliens?”

“Sort of, yes. We only have medical equipment developed for humans, and animals. I figured that there have to be aliens here who get sick, or injured. They can’t all be Superman, right?” she laughs. Kara laughs along, a bit too loud and sharp to be real, but Lena doesn’t seem to notice. “So, I want to start a division that would be dedicated to alien medicines and medical equipment and treatments. If they’re going to be welcome here, they have to be able to heal, too.” Kara nods slowly.

“That’s… that’s a really great idea. Doesn’t seem like there’d be much of a market for it, though- helping sick aliens.”

Lena shrugs. “Maybe not, but it’s always better to have the option. Eventually, I’d like to open a series of clinics, but that’s years away.”

Kara looks over at her with new eyes. “You’re not what I expected, Lena.”

“I’m just a woman trying to make a name for herself outside her family,” she shrugs, voice softer than she really intends. “Can you understand that?”

Kara hums in agreement. “Yes.”

Lena chuckles suddenly. “I just really can’t believe this. I mean, what are the odds that the person who rescues me from a car crash is the person related to two people I’m trying to hire? It’s a crazy coincidence.”

“You have no idea,” Kara mutters.

Chapter Text

“Kara!”

She laughs and stumbles back a few steps, ensuring that Eliza doesn’t feel like she’s smacked into a brick wall when she jumps into Kara’s arms. “Eliza, it’s so good to see you! Is Winn here? He left hours ago and the roads are nasty, so-“               

Eliza waves her concerns away. “He got here a while ago and immediately started eating. Said something about hoping that he’s still a growing boy.”

Kara laughs again and sets her foster mother on the ground. “Yeah, that sounds like him.” Suddenly remembering she’s not alone, Kara turns and motions for Lena to step on the porch. “Eliza, there’s somebody who could use a bit of help, she got into an accident. This is Lena.”

Lena steps into the light of the porch, suddenly very conscious of her rather ragged appearance. Nonetheless, she puts on a smile and extends a hand. “Hello, Dr. Danvers. I hope I’m not imposing, but your daughter insisted that I get checked out.”

Eliza looks the brunette up and down, quirking an eyebrow at Kara as she accepts the handshake. “Did she now?”

Ignoring the flush rising up her neck at the clear innuendo, Kara hurriedly continues. “I think she might have a concussion, and I already set her nose, but would you mind giving her a look?”

Eliza smiles and beckons them into the house. “Of course, please come in.”

Smiling gratefully, Kara slips past her and thunders her way to the kitchen, yelling at Winn not to eat all the food. Lena is a bit more sedate, taking in the cheery little house. It’s warm, probably from the fire crackling in the front room, and she can hear Kara and a man bickering over something or other at the end of the hall. There’s jazzy Christmas music playing and she can smell the heady scents of nutmeg and vanilla in the air. Every wall is covered in photos, of Kara and auburn-haired girl who must be her sister, growing up. Various candid shots and milestones litter the walls; Eliza and Kara at a laughing Alex’s graduation, the dark-eyed young woman dripping with medals and honors cords, the two women grinning widely at Kara’s, and a few photos of the three of them and a dark haired, smiling man, who always has his large arms wrapped around the three women.

“You have a lovely home,” she offers, knowing Eliza is watching her.

“I’ve always liked it, myself,” Eliza agrees easily, smiling at the way Lena’s eyes catch on a photo of Kara in her uniform. It’d been her graduation from the academy, and she was grinning widely, Alex under one arm, Eliza under the other, lifting them effortlessly into the air as they shrieked.

There are several of Kara with a dark-haired, bespectacled younger man and a smirking brunette woman from the past few years, pressed together and grinning hugely. They must be related, Lena decides, with their matching eyes and dimpled cheeks. There are more still of Alex and a dark haired woman, grinning at the camera or kissing.

“Is this Alexandra?” Lena asks, pointing at one of Alex with her eyes closed, smiling softly as a dimple-cheeked Maggie pressed a sloppy kiss to her cheek, left hand cupping Maggie’s cheek and displaying a diamond ring. One of their engagement photos, Lena surmises.

“Alex, yes,” Eliza tells her. “She and her fiancée, Maggie. Maggie was Kara’s partner for years, that’s how she and Alex met, believe it or not.”

Lena hums thoughtfully before catching herself. “I’m sorry, this probably seems rather strange; you don’t know me, and here I am looking through all your photos-“

Eliza throws her palm down. “You’re not the first stray Kara’s brought home, Lena. And the pictures are there for people to see.”

Lena’s lips quirk into a smile. “Does Kara often bring home strangers in need of medical attention?”

Eliza shrugs casually. “Often enough that it stopped surprising me years ago. Speaking of, let’s get you looked at before dinner. You’re staying, I assume?”

"Oh, no, I really couldn’t impose on you like that-“

“Have you eaten?”

“Well, no. But-“

“And your car is wrecked?”

“Yes, but-“

“And where are you from?”

“Metropolis, but-“

Eliza lets out a laugh as she steps into her knee-high snow boots and shrugs into her coat. “Then I’d better get the couch ready for Winn. This storm isn’t supposed to let up until tomorrow afternoon, at the earliest, there’s no way you’re going anywhere tonight. You can take the guest room for the night.”

“Are you sure? I can always get a hotel, or something. I don’t mean to put anyone out.”

“Kara will never let me hear the end of it if you do, so just humor me and let me avoid a lecture from my daughter. C’mon, my lab is out back, we’ll get you squared away and then eat.”

They trudge through the deep snow, Lena still swimming in Kara’s duty jacket as she’d neglected to bring her own coat earlier when she’d fled the Manor. There are a few outbuildings, and they stop outside the second as Eliza fumbles with her keys to unlock the door. It opens smoothly, and Eliza switches the lights on and shuffles around, checking various readings and firing up a few scanners. “I’m sorry, I know it’s a bit overwhelming out here, but I swear I’m not a mad scientist.” She pauses. “Well, not an evil mad scientist, anyways.”

Lena, for her part, stares around in wonder at the equipment. One machine in particular catches her eye, and she rushes over to it. “You have a dark matter generator.”

Eliza’s eyebrows raise, impressed. “You know your tech, Lena. Yes, my husband and I started development on it before we had the girls. I finally finished it with Alex a few years ago.”

“It’s amazing,” Lena breathes. “And a deep space scanner! What’s the furthest your range has picked up?”

Eliza laughs. “Oh, you and Alex would get along famously.”

“And is that a-“

Eliza cuts her off. “Ah-ah, first, an x-ray. Then toys.”

Lena nods, distractedly allowing Eliza to lead her to a section full of medical equipment. She settles onto the table. “You know, I was actually hoping to meet you, Dr. Danvers. Under different circumstances, obviously, being in a car wreck isn’t my idea of an ice-breaker.”

“Were you now?” Eliza asks, centering the x-ray over Lena’s head and draping a lead-lined cape over her chest. “And why’s that?”

“I want to offer you a job. You and your daughter. Well, your other daughter.”

Eliza looks at her, brow wrinkled. “I’m sorry?”

Lena sighs. “Sorry, this is awkward. My company is about to move in a drastically different direction than it has previously, and I’m looking for someone to head up a new division that would focus on medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and treatments for aliens. I’ve actually been trying to reach you for an interview for a few weeks.”

Recognition blooms in Eliza’s eyes. “You’re Lena Luthor.”

“Guilty,” Lena chuckles humorlessly. She’s convinced she’s blown her chance, with the way Eliza’s looking at her. “I was hoping to catch you for an interview over the next month or so, and Kara just happened to, well, rescue me, so I figured I’d talk to you now. And if you’re not interested, I completely understand, I’ve already been shot down by a few others-”

“Like who?”

“Well, Dr. Wright-“

Eliza snorts, ducking behind a shield as the x-ray hums briefly. “Aaron? Good lord. He’s a smart man, don’t get me wrong, but he’s never exactly been an innovator. Besides, the man hates aliens.”

Lena feels heat blooming in her cheeks. “I didn’t know that.”

“He’s subtle about it, but I know my students. He was one of the ones who only studied Xeno because he wanted to ‘know their weaknesses.’ He’s not a bad man, simply an ignorant one.”

“He was one of my professors. No wonder he turned me down.”

Eliza nods sympathetically. “Yeah, a lot of my former students studied with me for all the wrong reasons, unfortunately. But tell me about this job. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?”

For the first time since de-boarding the plane that morning, Lena feels a rush of confidence as she enthusiastically outlines her plans.

Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

 

Kara is playfully wrestling with a man who must be Winn over a sugar cookie when Eliza and Lena walk into the kitchen, the former chiding them mildly, the latter fighting a smile as Kara holds the cookie out of Winn’s reach, one arm thrust into the air, the other trying to keep the wily young man at a distance so she can eat her prize. He seems undeterred, batting at her hand and jumping up at the cookie.

“Kara, how am I supposed to grow if I’m not receiving vital nutrients?” he protests, grinning as he hooks her upraised elbow.

“Winn, you’re 25. There is no more growing.”

“I can dream. Gimme!”

“Alright, kids, settle down. I swear, it’s worse than when you and Alex would fight,” Eliza says, rolling her eyes fondly at them. “Besides, we have a guest.”

That distracts Winn for just long enough that Kara pops the cookie into her mouth, smiling smugly as Winn scowls at her. He shoves at her lightly and turns to Lena, hand outstretched. “Hey there, Winn Schott. Nice to meet you.” Looking over at Kara slyly, he grins. “Kara didn’t mention she was bringing a girlfriend home.”

Kara immediately chokes on the cookie and turns several shades of red. “Oh, no, Lena’s not- She’s just- I found her.”

Lena laughs at her blustering and takes his hand, shaking it firmly. “Nice to meet you, Winn, Lena Luthor.” She gauges his reaction to her name, but he doesn’t bat an eye. ‘Interesting. “And I should be so lucky.” She throws a wink at the pretty blonde, enjoying how deeply red she goes. “Kara here saved my life.”

Kara lets out a high-pitched laugh. “Oh, gosh, I dunno about saving your life, I was just-“

“-doing your job,” Winn and Eliza say together, tonelessly.

“Yeah, that.”

Eliza laughs as Winn and Lena grin at Kara. “Alright, enough, I don’t want her catching fire. Winn, help me get the food out of the kitchen, Kara, you and Lena go set the table.”

Kara salutes jauntily, and starts pulling plates down from the cupboards, as well as glasses and pointing Lena to the cutlery drawer. “Dining room’s right through here. Even though we usually eat in the living room and watch TV.” Kara rolls her eyes. “I think Eliza is trying to show off a bit.”

Lena smiles a bit shyly and follows her into the other room. “She doesn’t have to bother; I usually forget to eat unless my assistant grabs me something.”

Kara grins. “Miss Grant is the same way.”

Lena can see how at ease she is here, with her mother and friend, laughing and joking and teasing. “I think I have an interview set up with you mother for next week,” she informs the blonde.

“That’s great! Eliza’s been talking about going back to work for a while now, just couldn’t find a project she was really excited about, y’know? It’ll be good for her to be in a lab again.”

“She mentioned that. I learned she’s been ill for a few years?”

Kara nods. “Some rare form of cancer, I can never pronounce it right. They were able to catch it early, but the chemo and everything was really rough on her. She’s been in remission for the past year, though.”

Lena smiles genuinely. “That’s really great. I’m so happy she’s doing well.”

“So am I. I don’t know what Alex and I would do if we lost her, too.”

Lena opens her mouth to ask what Kara means by that, but is interrupted by Winn kicking the door open and struggling valiantly to juggle several large, steaming pans of food. “Hey, Kar, little help?”

She rushes over, admonishing him for risking the safety of the food as she relieves him of some of the dishes, placing them carefully around the table. Eliza follows shortly with what smells like a pot roast, and then everyone is digging into the food, leaving Lena a bit overwhelmed. She’s never been to what is clearly a normal family dinner, one where people slouch and laugh openmouthed and rest their elbows on the table.

“Hey, are you not hungry?” Kara asks, concern wrinkling her brow. “Eliza said you have a mild concussion, are you too sick to eat?”

Lena shakes her head, plastering on a smile when she notices everyone looking at her. “No! No, it’s just… my family doesn’t do dinners like this. It’s always a lot more… formal.”

Eliza laughs. “Well, we’re a fairly informal bunch, Miss Luthor. And word to the wise, if you don’t get yourself a plate soon, Winn and Kara will clear this entire table by themselves.”

“I think you mean Kara will. She’s a pit on legs,” Winn corrects, grinning at his friend. “So Lena, what new toys is LuthorCorp rolling out? I’m a bit of a tech nerd-“ Kara snorts at ‘a bit’, which he ignores- “and I try to stay current, but since you’re right here…”

Lena smiles gratefully at him as Kara determinedly piles a mountain of food onto her plate, grateful for the topic change to something she’s comfortable with. “We’re actually working on incorporating more alien tech and green energy initiatives over the next year. In five years, all of LuthorCorp’s holdings and subsidiaries should be running on clean energy.”

Winn’s brows shoot up. “Impressive. And how about the development you guys are doing on the military exosuits? Because I’ve always wanted to be able to lift a car above my head.”

She chuckles. “Common misconception; those suits are being developed for emergency use, like search and rescue or disaster relief.” At his disappointed look, she smiles conspiratorially at him. “I will say, I piloted one last week, and I can definitely lift a car over my head.”

“Awesome. So, so awesome,” he breathes, wide-eyed.

She laughs into her green beans. “Maybe I’ll have you come by, play in the R&D labs when we’re back in National City?”

“You’d make his whole life if you do,” Kara informs her. “Winn’s the lead controls engineer at CatCo- that’s how we became friends- and he’s a giant nerd. Just like Alex.”

“But Alex is such a scary nerd,” Winn whines. “I’m more of a soft, Star Wars vs. Trek, computer-building nerd.”

“He’s not wrong,” Eliza agrees. “Your sister is kind of intense about her work.”

Kara opens her mouth to defend her sister, but Lena beats her to it. “I admire that in a person. One should always be passionate about their work.”

Kara nods emphatically. “Exactly.”

Eliza laughs. “Alright, so Kara, when are Clark and Lois coming?”

Lena freezes, before taking a hasty gulp of wine. She suddenly realizes that she had, indeed, recognized the couple in some of the photos in the hall.

They were Lex’s best friends, once upon a time.

“Oh, not for a couple weeks. Lois is wrapping up some top-secret story, and Clark is getting run ragged by Perry White. You know how he is with him,” Kara dismisses. “Oh! Martha should be here in a few days, though! And James and Lucy, too!”

“Lucy and Lois under one roof. That’s gonna be… interesting,” Winn mumbles.

Kara shoots him a look. “Okay, they’ve gotten so much better, you guys!”

“Oh, yes,” Eliza says mildly, sipping her wine. “Last Christmas, they only broke one lamp and a window.”

Lena nearly spits her wine across the table, spluttering and coughing as she chokes back a laugh. Now that description of a family Christmas seems much more familiar to her. “I take it they don’t get along?”

“Yeah, no, not so much,” Winn agrees, taking a pull of his beer. “There’s a… complicated history there.”

Lena snorts softly. “Well, if there’s one thing I understand, it’s complicated families.” She immediately regrets it when Kara looks at her, a gentleness in her eyes that Lena feels entirely unprepared for.

“Well then, you’re in great company,” Winn cheers, raising his beer bottle to her.

She smiles and taps her wine glass to his, surprised when both Kara and Eliza do the same, knowing looks on their faces.

“Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys,” Winn says, smile not quite as broad as she’s expecting. “Now, tell me, how fun is it to lift cars, on a scale of ‘Meh’ to ‘I’m Never Taking this Suit Off.’ Details are needed.”

She laughs, and the suddenly somber mood dissipates as rapidly as it’d appeared.

 

“Well, I know this isn’t exactly the Ritz, but it’s better than the car,” Kara says brightly some hours later, showing her into the small guest room upstairs. “Eliza put fresh sheets and everything on the bed, and- oh gosh, you’d probably kill for a shower.” She bolts from the room, leaving a bemused Lena to trail after her. In the hall, Kara is rifling through the closet, emerging with some towels and depositing them into Lena’s arms. “Bathroom is right there, there should be some shampoo and stuff in there, although, it might be Winn’s, but it’s probably mine. I’m here a lot. The shower is pretty normal, and- shoot, hang on.” And she’s ducking into yet another room.

Lena follows her, smiling slightly at the boy-band posters plastered around half the room, the other half covered in various plaques and ribbons, as well as a large framed Periodic Table. It isn’t hard to guess which half belongs to which sister, if what she’s learned of Alex Danvers is any indication.

Kara hasn’t stopped talking. “- and you’re shorter than me, so maybe I have something from before I got taller. Or Alex left something. Nah, no, Alex wouldn’t have left anything. Some sweats or- ah-ha!” She piles a well-loved pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt onto the towels. “There ya go! Those will probably be kinda long, but they’re really comfortable, and-“

“Kara!” Lena laughs, dropping the towels and gripping Kara’s shoulders in her hands. Kara finally stops rambling and looks at Lena, eyes wide. “This is great. Thank you. And you were right; I would kill for a shower.” She throws another wink at the blonde, showing her she’s joking.

“Right, sorry, I tend to talk a lot when I’m nervous,” she says, adjusting her glasses, ignoring how Lena smirks at this admission. “So, bathroom’s right through there. Winn and I are probably gonna be up for a while watching movies- you’re more than welcome to join us, I just figured you’d be tired. If we get too loud, just let us know and we’ll let you sleep.”

Lena nods, still smirking. “Got it. I am pretty tired, so I’ll leave you and Winn to your movies. And don’t worry about being too loud; I can sleep through almost anything, up to and including a jet engine imploding.” At Kara’s startled look, she shifts the pile of linens and clothes in her arms, slightly embarrassed. “In grad school, I made a slight mathematical error, and fell asleep at my lab station, and boom, no more engine. Also no more lab,” she adds thoughtfully.

Kara grins. “Sounds like something I’d do. Well, I’ll get outta your hair. Shower away!” she says, before realizing that it’s an awkward thing to say and bolting down the stairs, leaving Lena chuckling in the hallway.

 

The shower is heavenly and exactly what she needs, and Lena finds some nice, albeit simple, shampoo and conditioner on the shelf in the shower, as well as a body wash she herself enjoys. She’d winced upon seeing her appearance in the mirror, having nearly forgotten about her formerly broken nose. It’s red and puffy, and there are bruises on her mouth and under both eyes from the airbag’s impact. There was also a bit of dried blood at the corner of her nose, and all of that was leaving out her hair, which is a new level of tangled never before achieved. She sighs and works the conditioner through the knots, determining that she’ll have to braid her hair tonight to avoid making it any worse. She rinses out her hair, and takes a few more minutes to enjoy the hot water on her sore muscles.

She steps out and wraps up in the fluffy towel she’s been provided, wrapping another around her hair. There’s a new toothbrush, still in the package, on the sink, as well as some toothpaste, and either Kara or Eliza had thoughtfully left out a packet of makeup wipes, which she uses to remove the last vestiges of eye-makeup from her face.

Once dry, she steps into the sleep clothes Kara had given her, realizing that the blonde had been right, and the sweatpants were indeed quite long, but she shrugs and rolls the waistband a few times, satisfied with the result. The long-sleeved t-shirt is threadbare, obviously well-worn, and tight across her chest, but she decides it’ll fine for the night. Besides, it’s really comfortable and her other option is the sweater she’s been wearing all day. No.

She runs her fingers through her hair, braiding it quickly. She pads quietly down the hall, pausing briefly at the top of the stairs to listen to Winn and Kara laughing at something happening in their movie. She almost joins them, but remembers how thin this shirt is and decides against it.

The spare room is small but clean, and she settles into the bed and is immediately drawn into a deep sleep.

 

“Soooo,” Winn drawls, playing with his beer bottle as the credits roll. “Lena Luthor, huh?”

“Oh, hush, Winn, she needed help. Car accident, totaled her car, ring some bells?” she scoffs, hopping up to change out the DVD.

“Well, yeah, but you could’ve brought her to the hospital, Kar. But you brought her home,” he prods, sipping thoughtfully on what must be his fifth or sixth beer of the evening.

“I figured Eliza could take a look at her, and besides, the roads were like, really bad,” Kara dismisses. “I didn’t want to crash too.”

“Sure, Kara. Whatever you say,” he agrees, voice all innocence but the smirk saying otherwise. “She’s not… she’s not quite what I expected, from all the things I’ve read about her. And that’s surprising, because I’ve read a lot about Lena Luthor.”

“I’m sure you have, perv,” she teases him.

“Hey, I’m not a perv; I work at an international media conglomerate. I read a lot about everyone, especially if they seem interesting. Lena definitely seems interesting.”

Kara hums in agreement. “She does. And you’re right; from what Clark’s told me about Lex’s family, I didn’t expect Lena to be… that. They always seemed cold, and she just seems… lonely. But she’s also really nice, y’now? Like, she actually cares about the impact she can have, and she’s trying to make a name for herself and make the world a bit better. She really seems… good.”

Winn nods. “I can definitely see that. And she’s smart, too. Like, obviously she’s smart, but like, really smart. Smarter-than-Alex smart.”

“Yeah. Half the stuff you guys were talking about at dinner made zero sense to me,” Kara jokes, nudging Winn in the ribs.

“Hey, watch the merchandise, some of us are fragile,” he whines, rubbing at the afflicted area.

“Hush, the movie’s starting,” she admonishes, smiling at his pouty face.

A few minutes pass in silence, before Winn asks, “What’re you gonna tell Clark?”

She pauses, biting her lip before coming to a decision. “I think, in this case, what Kal doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”

“So we’re lying to Superman. Cool. Awesome. Love it.”

“Shut up, Winn!”

Chapter Text

Kara wakes to the smell of pancakes and sausage, and the sound of Eliza bustling around in the kitchen downstairs. She stretches with a groan, falling boneless back onto the small bed. She knows that she should get up and help, but honestly, she’s so comfortable, and she doesn’t want to get up, dang it. Deciding she can be lazy for a few more minutes before jumping into her day, she listens, picking up on Winn singing in the shower in the next room and Lena snoring lightly in the guest room at the end of the hall. She smirks slightly at that. It’s already almost eight; evidently, Lena is not a morning person when she doesn’t have to be.

Mumbling to herself, she changes into jeans and a knit sweater, hopping lightly down the stairs and making her way to the kitchen. She presses a kiss to Eliza’s cheek, grabbing herself a cup of coffee and rolling up her sleeves to help with breakfast. “What can I do?”

Eliza eyes her dubiously. “You? You can cut some fruit. No going near the stove.”

“But-“

“Last time, we had to call the fire department, Kara,” Eliza reminds her firmly, “And it’s too damn early for that. So go cut fruit.”

Kara pouts, but does as she’s told, finding melon, grapes, berries, and even a pineapple, which she sets about cutting up with surprising efficiency. When she’s finished, she tosses the fruit into a bowl, stirring it together to make a fruit salad. Grinning at a job well done, she pesters Eliza again. “Okay, now what can I do?”

Eliza looks over to the bowl of fruit salad and back to Kara, eyes narrowed but lips twitching with amusement. “You cheated.”

“Cheating is an ugly word,” Kara demurs.

“Uh-huh. Well, how about you go shovel the driveway and the porch? We must’ve gotten two feet of snow last night, and I need to go into town today.”

Kara groans. “But that’ll take forever!”

"It’ll barely take you two minutes and you know it,” Eliza chides, swatting at her with a towel. “By the time you’ve worked up a good appetite, breakfast will be ready.”

“I already worked up an appetite,” Kara grumbles, trudging down the hallway, stuffing her feet into her boots and grabbing the shovel as she opens the front door and closes it behind her.

“Coat!” Eliza calls after her, not bothering to look up from the pan. She hears the door open again, and Kara’s grumbling, the thud of the coat rack hitting the floor, more grumbling, and then the door snaps shut once more. She chuckles. Kara has always been a bit dramatic.

               

Lena wakes suddenly at the sound of a door opening and closing and looks around her blearily. This is not her loft, or any of the rooms at Luthor Manor. And why on earth does she feel like she’d been hit by a truck? Panic starts to flood her before there’s a knock at the door and Winn pokes his head in, and the memories of the night before come back to her.

It’s clear his eyes are screwed tightly shut, even with his free hand covering them. It’s kind of endearing, that he’s trying so hard not to see anything she wouldn’t want him to. “Hey, just so you know, breakfast is almost ready, and the bathroom is open.” There’s water dripping off his nose and his hair is noticeably wet. “Didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“You didn’t,” Lena assures him. “The door did.”

He laughs. “That’d be Kara, I heard Eliza sending her outside to shovel snow. I’ll probably go help once I’m dressed. And, on that note…” he risks opening his eyes, seeming relieved to find her decent. “All my stuff is in here, do you mind…?”

“Oh! No, of course,” she says, untangling herself from the covers.

He grins boyishly at her. “Thanks.”

She passes him in the doorway, ignoring the fact that he’s comfortable here while wrapped in only a towel, and makes her way downstairs, crossing her arms over her chest to fight the sudden chill. She follows the sounds of cooking to the kitchen, where Eliza seems to be flipping pancakes expertly. The radio is on somewhere, pumping the house full of cheery holiday music. When Eliza notices her lingering in the doorway, she beckons her over to the stove.

“Lena, can you cook?” She takes one look at the young engineer and clicks her tongue disapprovingly. She hastily tosses Lena the robe she’d discarded earlier, watching as Lena’s face relaxes. “I swear, if Kara was any more unaware…”

Lena laughs as she pulls the robe on. “No, it’s quite alright; it was just to sleep in, after all.”

“Yeah, well, your clothes are washed and dried. I hope you don’t mind,” she said offhandedly. “They should be… somewhere.”

Lena nods gratefully. “I’ll look around in a bit. Do you need help?”

“That depends; can you cook?” Eliza counters.

"A bit, nothing gourmet,” Lena tells her honestly, tone a bit apologetic.

Eliza smiles approvingly. “Good, then you’re ahead of the curve in this house. Flip these and I’ll start on the eggs.”

Lena nods, listening as Winn thumps down the stairs, loiters by the front door for a moment, and then, presumably, heads outside.

“So what’re your plans for the day, Miss Luthor?”

“Oh, well, I suppose I need to call someone to collect the car. And me,” she says. “And then I guess I go back to Metropolis and suffer whatever horrors await me. Probably some winter gala or other.” She doesn’t mean to sound so bitter, but that’s the way the words come out.

“Not a big fan of the holidays?” Eliza guesses.

A tiny apartment, an even tinier tree, sparsely decorated, with only a few neatly, carefully wrapped packages under it. It’s bright, and Lena can’t ever remember being so excited as when she’s scooped onto a woman’s lap and a gift is pressed into her tiny hands. A curtain of dark hair falls around them. A squeeze around her waist, laughter in her ear, a kiss pressed loudly to her cheek as she shrieks with joy…

“No,” Lena says quietly. “Not my favorite time of year.”

Eliza nods in sympathy, and the two work in a silence that’s only slightly uncomfortable.

 

Kara is halfway done when Winn joins her, wearing the beanie Eliza had given him the year before. “Need a hand?” he asks, grinning.

“Yeah, pretend to shovel so we can be done,” Kara says, and then takes off, snow flying every which way in her wake. The long driveway is cleared in less than a minute, and she skids to a stop beside Winn.

“Great,” he says, clapping his hands together. “What do you wanna do for the next 15 minutes so Lena doesn’t get suspicious?”

Kara looks over at him, a wicked smile stretching across her face. “”I have an idea.”

He slows starts backing away. “Hey, I know that look. No, Kara. No. Not this time.”

She lunges, and he bolts with a girlish screech.

               

In the house, they’re just setting the table when they hear a scream.

“Was that Kara?” Lena asks with concern.

Eliza shakes her head, shoulders jumping with laughter. “No, it was Winn who made that very manly noise. I’m guessing Kara just threw him in the snow. Or, she’s trying to, at least. Why don’t you go save him, I’ll finish up in here.”

Lena nods, finding her sweater on a side table in the hallway and tugging it on over the t-shirt. She sticks her head out the front door and has to bite back a laugh at the sorry sight before her.

Winn has evidently not succeeded in his attempted escape. He is sprawled on his back, half buried by snow, and is frowning grumpily as Kara tosses snow over him like it’s rice on his wedding day, dancing in a circle around his prone form.

“Hey, leave him alone!” Lena yells, trying not to laugh. “Breakfast is ready.”

Kara bounds toward her, cheeks flushed, golden hair bouncing in the sun, and Lena is struck by how perfectly, cheesily Hallmark this image is; a beautiful blonde, playing in the snow, red-faced and grinning beneath an obviously homemade knit hat. Her glasses are nowhere to be found, probably tossed somewhere in the struggle, and her eyes are so damned blue they put the sky above to shame. Lena doesn’t realize she’s been staring until Kara is standing directly in front of her, crouched so she can meet Lena’s eyes, concern knitting her brow. “Are you alright? You kinda zoned out, there.” She presses the back of a warm hand to Lena’s forehead, which, honestly, does not help Lena compose herself.

“Yeah, yes, I’m good. Just, breakfast is ready,” she repeats lamely, embarrassed at how she stumbles over her words.

Kara doesn’t seem to notice and only smiles and makes her way into the house, throwing her coat and hat at the coat rack and kicking her boots away before running to the dining room in search of food.

Winn makes his way to the porch, shivering and pitiful, and Lena takes pity on him, reaching out and tugging him up the last few steps. They go into the house, where he shucks his snow-covered coat and wet boots and pulls Lena into a slightly damp hug. “Thank you, you’re my hero, she’s an animal,” he says, the last part coming out as a whisper.

Shocked, Lena merely pats him on the back. “No problem.”

With a final squeeze, her releases her and plods down the hallway.

Lena stands by the door for a moment. She doesn’t remember the last time she’d gotten a hug. A real hug that someone actually meant. Was it from Lex, the morning he’d blown up the city? From Jack? Before that? And it was so casual, like he hugged people all the time. ‘He probably does.’ It’s been over a year, at least, she realizes, since someone has given her a hug. And Winn had called her his hero. She knows no one’s ever done that, no one’s ever had cause to.

“Lena, c’mon, Eliza won’t let us eat until you’re in here,” Kara calls, a whine hitching in her voice.

She shakes her head, scolding herself for being so thrown by something as simple as a hug, and heads down the hallway.

 

Lena hangs up the phone and sighs, rubbing circles at her temples.

“Well, what’s the verdict?” Kara asks, flipping through channels on the other end of the couch.

“It’ll be evening before a driver can get out here. Apparently the storm is still pretty nasty by the coast, and almost none of the roads are cleared yet,” Lena tells her, pulling her socked feet up onto the couch. “I’m really sorry, you’ve all been so great and kind and helpful, I just-“

"Hey, I get it,” Kara assures her, hand coming to rest lightly on Lena’s foot. “It’s frustrating.”

Lena nods and swallows thickly. “Yes, very.”

“So, now that you’re here for the day, is there anything you want to do?” Kara asks, switching the TV off and focusing her attention on Lena. “Midvale isn’t really an exciting place, but we go all-out for Christmas and it’s kind of a cute town.”

Winn raises his hand. “I vote we go to the arcade.”

Kara rolls her eyes fondly. “I knew that, Winn. How about it, Lena? Wanna take a tour or hang out here? It’s up to you, I know you’re probably hurting after the crash.”

If she’s being honest, she is hurting a bit, more than she’d expected to, but as Lena looks between them, from Winn’s hopeful face to Kara’s earnest one, she relaxes and comes to a decision. “I haven’t been to an arcade in forever. And I’ve never really done the ‘small town at Christmas’ thing.”

Kara claps excitedly. “Good choice, I know where all the best food is. Murphy’s has the best hot chocolate.”

Lena shakes her head in amazement. “How can you possibly be hungry? We just ate and you cleared at least two plates more than everyone else.”

Winn seems to agree with her, but shrugs and grins. “That’s part of her charm; unlimited appetite, intimidation factor of a puffy dandelion.”

"Hey! I was a cop in one of the biggest, baddest cities in the world! I can be super intimidating!” Kara protests.

“Oh yeah?” Winn taunts. “Go ahead, show us the cop face.”

Kara screws up her face, clearly trying to be frightening but failing miserably.

Winn extends a hand, turning to Lena. “See? Puffy dandelion.”

Kara chucks a pillow at his head, ignoring Lena’s muffled laughter.

*******************************

After donning their coats and boots, the pile into Kara’s SUV and make their way into town. “So, does Midvale do the cliché Winter Festival thing, or is that just in movies and TV?” Lena asks, unconsciously snuggling into Kara’s MPD coat. ‘So sue me, it’s warm.’

“Oh, it’s very real, very cheesy, and very awesome,” Winn answers. “I’ve been going every year since Kara first invited me to Christmakah, and, I gotta say, it’s everything I wanted it to be.”

“Cute kids running around, carolers, booths selling wreathes and candles and cocoa…” Kara trails off, smiling happily. “They do an ice sculpture contest and a snowman contest, and it’s just… nice.”

“Imagine every festival you ever saw on like Gilmore Girls. Then multiply by ten, and push all the kitschy cuteness into two weeks, and bam! That’s the Midvale Winter Festival ,” Winn agrees with a nod. “It’s not for another week or so, though. They’re still doing set-up in the park, and Eliza said that one of their usual donors died, so it might not be as awesome this year.”

Lena nods thoughtfully, making a mental note to donate to their cause. “What else is in Midvale, besides the arcade and a fair that isn’t open yet?”

“Hmmm… there’s the skating rink, the tree farm, the orchard- oh, hot cider sounds really good-, Anna’s Diner, the candy shop, the ugly sweater emporium…”

At Lena’s incredulous look, Winn nods, leaning in so his head rests between the two women in the front seat. “No, seriously. It’s usually like, a general store, but after Thanksgiving every year, they close for a day and when they reopen, it’s nothing but ugly sweaters, weird ornaments, and gag gifts. It’s my very favorite thing, I go every year.”

Lena shakes her head, a smile trying to work its way onto her face. “It sounds ridiculous.”

“It is!” Kara agrees brightly. “That’s why it’s fun!”

They find a space pretty easily on the main road, and Lena has to admit that they haven’t oversold the charm of the town. The old-world streetlights are decked with wreathes and shiny baubles, and a few actually have a menorah banner on them, flapping cheerily in the breeze. Christmas lights are strung above the streets, and every shop has decorated in some way, from the garlands on the awning to the neon Christmas tree that dominates the front window of what must be the arcade. Kids are everywhere, clearly enjoying what has to be a snow day, and the town bustles with energy and seeming good cheer. There are vendors on a few corners, and the sounds of Salvation Army bells cut through the air.

“Wow,” she breathes.

“It’s almost too cute, right?”Winn asks from beside her, hands stuffed into his pockets. “I grew up in National City, so all this,” he gestures at the town, “was a lot to take in. Especially then; I was in my cynical, snarky phase.”

“You still are, Winn,” Kara calls from up the street, intent on doing something or other as she walks into a shop.

Winn shoos her away, grinning. “Maybe. But they’re actually really nice people. After I visited, I could see why Kara is the way she is, in spite of everything.”

Lena quirks a brow. “In spite of everything?”

Winn blanches. “Oh, crap. Uh, well, Kara had kind of a rough time, when she first moved here. I’ve probably said too much, it’s not really my place to- hey, look, pretzels!”

                He tugs her along after him, laughing, and she makes a mental note in the column of ‘Things to Ask Kara Later.’ So far, it’s a surprisingly long list.

                “So, Winn, tell me if I’m being to forward, but… what made you come all the way out here for Christmas? I mean, you’re from National City, right?”

                He nods. “I am.”

                “So, why here? In middle-of-nowhere Maryland?”

                “That’s… a long story. Let’s grab some cocoa, god knows how long Kara will be in the candy shop.” They get their drinks and settle on a nearby bench, brushing of the light dusting of snow that’s accumulated. “Well, first off, I’m Jewish, so very little actual Christmas stuff happens with me. Like, Clark and James and Martha and most everybody but me and the Danvers goes to Mass on Christmas day, and we eat Chinese, as is traditional.” She laughs, apologizing for the assumption, which he waves off, before getting a bit more serious. “Second, just know that you aren’t the only one with a messed up family. My dad was… he was a really bad guy. He hurt a lot of people, and eventually, he got caught and went to jail.” He smiles sadly at her. “I assume you’ve heard of the Toyman?”

                Lena nods, stunned. Winslow Schott, the madman who’d blown up a toy convention. Winn Schott, the one sitting beside her on a park bench, sipping cocoa, snowflakes in his hair and eyelashes.

                “That’s Dad. He was my best friend, and then I watched him get hauled away by the cops. Mom took off not too long after, and I went into the system.” He shakes his head and sips his cocoa, clearing his throat before continuing. “When Kara started working at CatCo, I had the biggest- the biggest- crush on her. Because, I mean, how can you not?” he laughs a little. “Eventually, we became good friends, and around Thanksgiving, she asked what my plans were. I told her I didn’t have any, so she tricked me into going to her family’s Thanksgiving. She and Alex shared an apartment back then, and Eliza and Alex hadn’t worked through their issues, and, yeah. It was awkward, to say the least. But at Christmas, she asked again what my plans were. She didn’t even let me answer, just dropped a plane ticket on my desk and told me our flight was leaving on Friday and I’d need to pack warm clothes. I mean, what was I supposed to do, say no? That I don’t have a home to go to, and I’d rather drink beer and play video games alone?”

 Lena actually laughs aloud, easily able to picture the scene he describes. “That sounds familiar.”

“I’ll bet,” he says warmly, nudging her a bit. “But anyways, we get to Metropolis and hang out with her cousin for a bit- cool guy, little dorky-, and then she, Alex, and I spend the longest car ride of all time getting to Eliza’s, but when we finally got here, it felt like I was a kid again. Back when my dad hadn’t done those terrible things, back when I really loved Hanukkah, and even got into the general spirit of Christmas, if not the celebration. And so I’ve been coming every year since then. When Eliza got sick, I helped Kara and Alex move across the country to be closer to her, and since then, I’ve always had a guest room in Midvale whenever I need it.”

Lena nods. “That sounds like a home to me, Winn.”

 He grins boyishly at her. “Yeah, I guess it is. I’m gonna start calling Eliza’s my ‘vacation home.’ Think that’ll fly?”

“Only if they don’t find out,” she tells him conspiratorially. “So, Schott, do you still have a big crush on Kara?”

“Ha, no, she’s more of a sister-type to me these days.” He looks at her out the corner of his eye. “How about you, Luthor, do you have a big crush on Kara?”

Her face flames instantly. “Don’t be ridiculous, I’ve known her for less than a day,” she scoffs, rubbing the back of her neck.

“Ha! You totally do!” he shouts, pointing at her and grinning hugely.

“I do not, shut up.”

“I won’t, because you totally do!”

“She totally does what?” Kara asks, walking up behind their bench, arms laden with boutique bags and boxes of chocolates.

"She totally wants to skate,” Winn crows, lying shockingly smoothly, “she just won’t admit it.”

“What happened to going to the arcade?” Kara wonders. At Winn’s large smile and Lena’s lack of eye-contact, she determines something fishy is going on, but shrugs it off. “Alright, skating it is. Let me dump this stuff in the car and we can meet there?”

“Sounds good, Officer Danvers,” Winn agrees, standing and executing a goofy salute.

“I might not be a cop anymore, but I will still arrest you, Winn,” she warns him, poking him in the chest.

“Promises, promises. See you in 10.”

               

“You don’t have to skate, Lena.”

“No, I want to. It’s just that I haven’t in a while.” Lena bites her lip in trepidation as she looks out at the glossy ice. In truth, she hasn’t been skating in nearly a decade.

Kara nods and holds out her hands. “C’mon, here. I’ll help you out until you get the hang of it.”

Winn zips past, twirling smugly.

“Don’t let him fool you; he only learned to skate like last year and he practices all the time so he won’t fall and break his butt again,” Kara says, pitching her voice so Winn can hear them across the ice. He trips briefly, but recovers. “See? Case in point.”

Lena snickers behind a hand. “Noted.”

“It was a fractured tailbone, Kara, and it was awful!” Winn yells from across the rink, drawing the attention of everyone present.

Kara rolls her eyes and pulls Lena onto the ice. “Did you go skating when you were a kid?”

Lena nods, gripping Kara’s hands tightly as she adjusts to the skates. “Lex and I did, yes. I was pretty good, when I was younger, but I haven’t been skating since I was about 14, then I got too busy with college.”

“Don’t worry, it’s like riding a bike made of razor blades,” Winn encourages as her flies by again.

“Very helpful, Mr. Schott,” Lena snarks. “I’m also still a bit sore from yesterday.”

“Yeah, that tends to happen.  I’m surprised you’ve been up and about as much as you have, honestly. You’re being a real trooper,” Kara tells her. “You really don’t have to skate, Winn just wanted to show off.”

“I figured. I think I’m getting it, though.”

Kara studies her movements a moment before slowly removing her hands, still ready to catch Lena if she needs it. She doesn’t, and Kara grins broadly. “There ya go!”

Lena skates forward somewhat smoothly, motions just a bit stiff, and eventually catches up to Winn. Kara is apparently feeling a need for speed and so is racing against some eager kids at the other end of the rink. “So, does Kara know everyone in town, or is that me buying into another small-town cliché?”

Winn laughs. “It’s a total cliché, but she knows most people for sure. People just tend to like her, you know?”

Lena watches as Kara grabs one of the tinier kids, lifting them into the air before skating off with them, their screams of delight echoing across the ice. “Yeah, I get that.”

“It’s why she was such an effective cop. You know, she was like, fast-track to becoming a Sergeant.”

“Really? I have a hard time picturing her as a police officer,” Lena admits.

“So did I, but the chest full of medals and boxes of commendations I had to pack up yesterday say she was a pretty good one,” Winn says with a grin, clearly enjoying bragging about his friend. “It was almost obnoxious, all the awards she has. She was kind of a local celebrity for a while, too.”

Lena watches her, intrigued. “You’d never know, talking to her.”

“Nah, humble to the core.”

Kara is trying to show a few of the kids how to skate backwards, clapping excitedly when a girl with bright red braids manages to do it. Her smile is bright and carefree, and she catches Lena’s eye across the rink, waving a bit. Lena doesn’t realize she’s stopped, staring and grinning stupidly, until Winn stops in front of her, smug grin on his face.

“Oh yeah, you were right, you totally don’t have a crush on her.”

She huffs and skates hurriedly away, Winn’s laughter trailing after her.

 

“That was so fun!” Kara chirps as they swap out their skates for boots. “I can’t believe I hadn’t been skating yet this year! Great idea, guys!”

Lena is trying not to wince at the way her boots press against her sore feet, Winn looking much the same. “It was fun,” Lena offers. “Where to next?”

“Well, are you guys hungry yet?” Kara asks.

Lena shrugs noncommittally while Winn simply says, “I could eat.”

“Great, because I’m starving. Anna’s has really good food.”

Lena raises a hand. “What are the odds of finding something reasonably healthy to eat there?”

“Pretty good. All their stuff is homemade, and they do the whole fresh organic thing,” Kara shrugs. “Personally, I’m getting a burger.”

“Soup. So much soup,” Winn groans, dragging himself to his feet. “Kara, why did I leave my skates at Eliza’s? Why did I do this to myself? Why am I like this?”

"I’ve been asking myself that for six years, Winn.”

Lena laughs, before realizing that she, too, will soon be in a world of hurt. She grunts as she stands, legs sore and feet undoubtedly blistered. “Shit.”

“You okay, Lena?” Kara asks with concern.

“Yes, I’m alright, just sore.”

Kara seems to come to a decision, turning her back to Lena and crouching slightly. “Hop on.”

Lena blinks at her.“Pardon?”

“I’ll give you a lift.” She turns and meets Lena’s eyes with a smile. “C’mon, it’s not that far, and you probably weigh practically nothing. No sense hurting your feet even more.” At Lena’s continued hesitation, Kara huffs playfully. “It’s no big deal, just hang on like a koala bear and relax for a second.”

Lena nods and clambers onto Kara’s broad back in as dignified a manner as possible. Kara hoists her up under the back of her knees and hikes her higher onto her back. Lena is trying very hard to avoid getting a face full of Kara’s hair, however appealing the idea may be. Kara jostles her a bit, smiling over her shoulder at Lena. Winn snickers nearby, and Lena hears the distinct sound of a phone snapping a picture.

"See, what’d I tell you? Not so bad. Now c’mon, Winn, we have food to eat!” And with that, Kara takes off running, looking for all the world like Lena is no heavier than a backpack.

"Why do I never get piggy back rides when I’m hurt? This is sexism, Kara, and I won’t have it!” Winn yells after them, hobbling along the best that he can.

Lena laughs loudly, bouncing with every step Kara takes as they race down the road.

 

“Well, looks like my ride is almost here. We should head back to Eliza’s,” Lena says regretfully, slipping her phone back into her pocket.

“Aw, no! Boo!” Winn jeers tiredly from beside her.

“I second the booing,” Kara agrees.

Their arms are all laden with boxes, most from the ugly sweater shop. They’d even managed to convince Lena to buy one. Winn had bought five, to ‘add to his collection’- though Lena and Kara had both vetoed a particularly offensive one, with a knit image of mistletoe coming to rest directly above his belt buckle and the words “Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe” scrawled across it. They had, however, approved of a blue one dominated by a Menorah with the words ‘Light my Fire’ under it, mostly because the candles actually lit up. Kara had offered to continue carting Lena around after lunch, but she’d declined, laughing.

“I know, but I’ll be back soon to interview Eliza, and we can do something then,” Lena assures them. Truth be told, she’s had more fun today than she has in years, and she’s not particularly looking forward to going back to her real life in Metropolis. It’s been nice just being… Lena. Just a fairly normal 23-year old running around with friends and eating food from street vendors and skating at the local rink. Were Kara and Winn her friends? She’s never really had friends before, but she imagines that this is what it feels like.

“You’d better be,” Winn says, nudging her. “I still wanna build this drone while I’m here, and I think between the two of us, we could make it really awesome.” He’d bought a flying drone shaped like a sleigh with eight reindeer pulling it, and he and Lena had been geeking about it nonstop since they’d left the store.

“And you need to experience the Winter Festival at least once in your life. It’s required,” Kara informs her gravely.

Lena feels warmth explode in her chest. These are two people who want her around for seemingly no reason other than they enjoy being with her. No leading questions about her family, no requests for a business contact, nothing. Just her. “I’ll see what I can do. I have a lot of events I’m supposed to attend this month.” At their crestfallen looks, she hastens to add, “But I’m sure I could skip a couple to go to the festival. Who’s going to miss one person in a thousand, right?”

“Well, Lena, if you need a couple dates to any of these fancy-shmancy parties, look no further,” Winn tells her, waggling his eyebrows exaggeratedly. “This guy can tear up a dance floor, and Kara is very good at mingling. Not to mention, we’d be the best looking bunch in the room.”

Lena laughs again. “I’m sure we would. Give me your numbers, and I’ll let you know, alright? And I’ll have you guys added to the list for the LuthorCorp holiday party. I could use some friendly faces there.”

“Awesome! We’ll be there with bells on,” Winn enthuses, eyes bright with excitement. “I even remembered to bring my suit this year.”

Lena laughs. “I’m sure you’ll look very dapper.”

“C’mon, Winn, throw your stuff in the car, her ride might already be there,” Kara chides.

      

Lena’s driver is indeed waiting in the driveway when they arrive at Eliza’s, the older woman leaning in the car window, two mugs of hot chocolate in her hands as she and Michael chatter away.

Lena swallows a sudden lump in her throat. She doesn’t really want this day to be over. “I don’t suppose that limousine is for either of you?” she jokes.

Winn sees through her and squeezes her shoulder. “Not so much.”

She nods and they pile out of the car, Kara gallantly grabbing all of Lena’s bags for her. They trudge over to the car, and Kara loads her things into the trunk, slamming it closed with a dull thud. They stand around awkwardly before Kara huffs out a laugh, “Gosh, guys, it’s not like we’re dying. We’re all adults, with phones and cars. She’ll be here for the festival, and we’re going to the gala party thing. It’s fine.” And with that, she ruffles Winn’s hair and scoops Lena up into a hug, surprising the young CEO.

Lena hesitantly winds her arms around Kara’s neck, unfamiliar enough with hugs in general that she’s afraid she’ll do it wrong. But she could get used to hugging Kara Danvers. Kara is all firm muscle and athletic curves, lifting Lena into the air effortlessly, body heat seeping deep into Lena and seemingly settling in her bones. It lasts longer than it needs to, but less time than she wants, before Kara sets her gently back on the ground. Winn barrels into her arms next, pouting, and she laughs, taking Kara’s lead and giving him a quick squeeze. “Kara’s right. We’re being ridiculous.” She steps back and claps her hands together. “So I’ll see you both in two weeks?”

Winn nods eagerly, and Kara just smiles softly at her.

She slides into the backseat, and Kara closes the door behind her, before walking up to the driver’s window. “Now I need you to drive carefully,” she tells him sternly. Lena has to bite back a laugh at Kara’s ‘cop face.’ “The roads can be pretty nasty this time of year.”

Michael nods at her, and then they’re rolling out of the driveway. A few minutes pass in silence, before he asks, “Are you quite alright, Miss Luthor?”

“Oh, yes, I’m fine,” She assures him. “Just tired. Long day.”

He nods understandingly, and they continue the ride in companionable quiet. Lena decides to close her eyes and rest when they pass the sign reading ‘Thank You for Visiting Midvale! Come Again Soon!’

 

Hours later, they arrive back at the Manor, and Lena is fully aware of just how bone-tired she is as she trudges up the stairs, telling Michael to take her bags to her room. She’s reaching for the handle when the door swings open. At the sight of who’s on the other side of it, the weariness seems to deepen.

“Hello, Mother.”

Chapter Text

Alex Danvers is many things.

A devoted sister. A dutiful daughter. A loving fiancée. A great friend. A brilliant scientist.

A liar.

She sighs, buckling on her tactical vest and rechecking the pistol strapped to her thigh before her hand moves to the comm in her ear. “Agent Danvers, checking in. Red Team is go.”

“Roger, Red Team. Target is moving down Judson, the Kryptonian is on standby.”

“Copy.” She turns and motions silently to her team, directing them to spread out along the alley and to find cover when they’re in position. Job done, they have nothing to do but wait. It won’t be long, now.

Alex ignores the phone vibrating in her pocket, ears piqued for the slightest sound. This alien is an especially nasty one, having robbed several banks disguised as various employees. A shapeshifter, the only real way to keep track of it has been a unique energy signature which, fortunately, was strong enough that her detector was working.

At least, it was working for the moment.

Shaking off such negative thoughts, Alex once again ignores the vibration of her phone. No doubt it’s Kara begging her to take a few days off and come to Midvale early. And Alex doesn’t blame her sister for her enthusiasm, not really. It’d be ridiculous to do that. Kara’s excitement and wonder over the tiniest things are what she even does this job for; to keep her sister safe, to keep her as innocent as possible. She’s seen enough death and destruction, she doesn’t need any more; Alex can shoulder that for her.

Alex had screamed herself hoarse when Kara had expressed a desire to attend the police academy, forbidding her unequivocally from doing so. Which, of course, merely meant that her stubborn sister had done the exact opposite of what she’d said the next fucking day. Eliza had been immensely proud. Alex had literally torn some of her hair out.

“It’s gonna be your fucking fault when I go bald by 28,” Alex had informed her sister.

Kara had merely grinned and kissed her forehead before darting out of reach.

“Kal, what’s your position?”

“Directly above, Red Team.” His voice is even and cool, as it always is in these moments. He’s been doing this for a very long time, since long before the DEO was formed, let alone working with him. Alex has had her differences with Clark, but she’s always glad to have Superman at her back. “Standing by for backup.”

“Copy,” she says, smirking up at the dark sky above, knowing he can see her.

Moments later, a man enters the alley. Average height, average weight, average clothes; there’s really nothing truly outstanding about him, aside from the fact that his knees are bent backwards.

“Eyes on target; be ready on my signal,” she breathes into her mic.

The alien continues, unaware that it is walking into a trap it can’t escape from. Suddenly, Alex rises over the debris she’s been hiding behind, leveling her gun at the creature before her. “Freeze! Down on the ground, all limbs in the air!” she bellows.

There’s a moment of hesitation before the alien tries to run. Alex smirks and pulls the trigger, and a pulse of blue light cuts through the alley, hitting it in the back and sending it flying. Her team surrounds the alien before it has even finished hitting the ground, barking orders, and she holsters her gun with a sigh. It’s always fun to get to use her toys, but the paperwork after is actually the worst. She often laments on this to Clark, and he always laughs and says, “This is why I’m a vigilante.”

“Red Team, target is down. Ready for extraction. No witnesses,” she reports.

“Copy, Red Team. Agent Danvers?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Nice shot.”

She smirks again. It’s always fun to play with her toys.

 

Later, at the DEO, after an unnecessary debrief, she finally checks her phone. She’d been right, Kara was the one texting her, but she was wrong about the content. It’s a series of photos, all from Midvale, probably from today, judging by the snow. In them, Kara is featured heavily, as is Winn. And so is a pretty (despite being a bit bruised) brunette with bright green eyes who is- is she fucking wearing Kara’s duty jacket? It’s the three of them skating, drinking milkshakes at Anna’s- she’d know those booths anywhere-, and wearing several different ugly sweaters, the best/worst of which is a two-man sweater, one meant for a couple, which Winn and the brunette girl are wearing together, looking very proud of themselves. There’s also a selfie of Kara doing The Pout at the camera with the caption ‘Wish u were here!’

She shakes her head slightly at the barrage of photos, but doesn’t deny wishing that she was home with her mother, sister, and fiancée and even her sister’s little nerdy friend (okay, she loves Winn like a younger brother and she’d die for him, but she will die before ever admitting it). She always wishes she were home, at the end of the day. With Maggie on the couch, being boring and almost-married together. No matter how fulfilling she finds her job, she can’t deny that it isn’t what she truly wants to be doing. She wants to really help people and aliens, and this, while it is undeniably helpful, doesn’t seem to have any sort of a lasting impact.

But whatever. She’s done now, for the rest of the day, and she knows that Maggie is already at home waiting for her (Kara’s not the only one who sends Alex pictures while she’s at work). She strips out of her tactical gear and into her civvies before walking out to her car. She is almost there when Hank Henshaw corners her.

“Agent Danvers,” he rumbles. “That was impressive work today. No casualties, only minor injuries to our thief, and not a single witness. Even Superman was impressed with how you lead your team.”

“Thank you, sir. And thank you to Superman, wherever he is,” she nods curtly. ‘Probably already at home, cuddled up with Lois. I’ve gotta get a better way to get through this paperwork after a mission.’

“Don’t thank us, it’s just fact. You’re a star in the making Danvers; don’t let anyone tell you different,” Hank instructs.

They don’t.’ He starts coughing, then, tears forming in his eyes, almost looking as though he’s laughing, though nothing that’s been said is particularly funny. “I won’t, sir. Are you okay?” He continues to wheeze, but waves off her concern. “Alright then, sir. Goodnight.”

She quickly jogs to her car, sliding into the front seat with a breath of relief. Finally, she can go home. It’s damn near 6 am, and god knows how long she’s been up. She’s just rolled out of the garage and onto the street when her car is suddenly airborne. Fondly, she shakes her head and unrolls the window, grinning as she meets Kal’s sparkling blue eyes above her car.

“Need a lift, Agent Danvers? Traffic is pretty bad on your commute home today,” he yells over the wind, throwing her a wink.

“Y’know, if I was straight, we were both single, and you weren’t sort of almost related to me, I’d be madly in love with you for flying me out of traffic,” she informs him.

“All my work, all for naught,” he laments playfully. “It’s truly tragic. I try and I try for you, Alex.”

“Yeah, but unfortunately I think you girlfriend is a lot hotter than you so…”

“What a coincidence, I think she’s hotter than me too!” he grins.

Alex just laughs and decides to enjoy the benefits of being Superman’s sort-of cousin.

After all, traffic is for the birds.

 

When she gets home, Maggie is already getting ready for work. She’s doing desk duty for a few weeks, partly due to her promotion, partly due to the fact that there’s no sense in her getting another partner for less than a month, but mostly due to the fact that she has mountains of paperwork to file and sort through before officially joining Vice in January. Maggie sucks at paperwork when she isn’t using it to get her own way with something.

“Well, well, well, look what the aliens dragged in,” Maggie teases. “I thought I was gonna miss you before my shift, babe.”

Alex just smiles, grabbing the front of Maggie’s shirt and pulling her into a lingering kiss. “Good morning.”

“Morning, Danvers,” Maggie grins, brown eyes shining. “What’s got you in such a good mood? Besides, y’know, all this hot cop action?” She gestures to herself and gyrates her hips suggestively.

“It was a good night. Had a real breakthrough with the 34NK serum,” Alex says, plunking down onto one of the bar stools at the counter island. “The paperwork was murder, but I got a ride home from a friend. Shaved an hour off my commute.”

“What good friends you must have, babe,” Maggie snickers. They’re both law enforcement, which, naturally, means they’re both totally paranoid about revealing anything about their work or their loved ones. So they’ve developed a sort of code over the years, just in case anyone is ever listening. “Think your friend would mind giving me a lift?”

Alex shrugs. “Pretty sure they left already.”

“Damn.”

“Yeah, but hey! Look! I think Kara has a girlfriend!” Alex says, sifting through her phone to find the pictures she wants.

“WHAT.”

“I know, I’m pissed she didn’t mention it, I’m gonna have to give her hell when we go to Mom’s,” Alex says, presenting Maggie with the evidence. Maggie snatches the phone from her hands.

“SHE’S WEARING HER COAT. HER COAT WITH HER NAME ON IT.”

“I know,” Alex grins, scooting around so she’s looking at the pictures with Maggie. “They look kinda good together, huh?”

“THEY WENT ICE SKATING TOGETHER.”

“I know!”

“AND GOT MILKSHAKES!”

“Yeah, babe, I see it,” Alex says cautiously, studying Maggie’s face. She fears she may have broken her fiancée.

“This is some gay shit,” Maggie tells her, quieter now, squinting at the pictures for the minutest details. Maggie’s a much more experienced gay, so Alex lets her take the reins on the investigation.

“I know!” Alex repeats.

“Why is Winn on their date with them?” Maggie asks, face scrunched in confusion.

“I- I actually don’t know,” Alex admits. “But it seems very on-brand for him, doesn’t it?”

“True. Look, I gotta get to work if I wanna get out early enough to do wedding shit later,” Maggie says, handing Alex her phone and peppering her face with kisses until Alex is laughing and pushing her away, only to be drawn back in for a kiss that goes from chaste to pornographic in the blink of an eye. She grins lasciviously at her fiancée, who is a bit out of breath. ‘Point Sawyer.’ “Keep me updated on all that gay shit. See if Winn knows anything. I’m so pissed that she’s been dating this girl long enough to bring home to Mom but didn’t say a word to her partner!”

“Hey, I’m her sister; don’t I get to be pissed too?”

“Nah, she likes me better, everybody knows that,” Maggie informs her, waving away Alex’s notions with a careless hand. “Love ya, babe!”

She runs out the door, feeling something thud against the other side as she slams it closed. “Love you too, asshole!”

Alex shakes her head at the door, smiling crookedly. God, but she loves that woman. She pours herself a cup of coffee and grabs her phone, shooting off a quick text to Winn. He’s usually awake pretty early, apparently years in foster care will do that to you, but when he’s in Midvale it’s always a bit of a crapshoot. Fortunately, he seems to already be up and about, if his speedy response is any indicator.

 

Alex: Hey Winn, who’s the girl?

Winn: wut girl?

Alex: The girl that was in all the pictures Kara sent me? Brunette, short, pretty eyes? Does Kara have a girlfriend and didn’t tell me?

Winn: hey now- how do u know shes not MY gf?

Alex: … Really? You really want me to answer that?

Winn: yeah ur right thats Lena

Winn: Kara rescued her

Winn: car wreck wen she was driving 2 Midvale

Alex: And then she just hung out with you all day

Alex: And did cute couple shit with my sister?

Winn: yeah p much

Alex: Seriously?

Winn: she wuz kinda stranded there until she could get a ride

Winn: and dude- u don’t even know the half of it look @ this-

Attached is a photo of Lena on Kara’s back, Kara’s arms looped under her legs, Lena’s arms loosely draped around Kara’s neck. They’re both laughing at something, and the girl- Lena, apparently- is looking at Kara with a mixture of surprise and confusion and something that is definitely not friendly fondness, biting her bottom lip as she does.

Alex: Are you fucking kidding me

Winn: I KNOW

Alex: Hang on, we’re getting Maggie in on this

She quickly adds Maggie to the text group.

Alex: Babe, look at this shit

It takes a few minutes, but Maggie’s response is rather eloquent and succinct.

 

Maggie: GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY

Winn: dudes

Winn: i felt like i was 3rd wheelin on a date

Maggie: BECAUSE YOU WERE

Alex: Yeah, goddammit, Winn!

Winn: what was i sposed 2 do?

Winn: walk back 2 Eliza’s??

Alex: YES

Maggie: YES

Winn: it’s a like mile!!!

Winn: & there was 2 feet of snow on teh ground! Hellz no

Maggie: Dammit, Winn, why you gotta be such a clam-jam? You’re supposed to be her wingman and help her get laid!!!

Alex: Maggie, that’s my sister!

Maggie: And Little Danvers deserves the same opportunities to get herself screwed as the rest of us.

Alex: MAGGIE NO

Maggie: Sorry, babe, but I’m right.

Maggie: Everyone deserves to get fucked really good now and then

Alex: MAGGIE STOP

Maggie: Look at that girl. I bet she’s a top. Your sister is totally a bottom, Danvers.

Maggie: Must run in the family *winking emoji*

Alex: You’re sleeping on the couch. Forever

Maggie: Like you can resist all this sexy

Winn: jfc

Winn: …so should i jst go, or…?

Alex sighs and tosses the phone aside, exhaustion settling into her bones now that she’s gossiped a bit. She sighs again and snatches up her phone, unable to let this lie.

Alex: So what do we know about this girl?

Winn: weeeeeelllll…

Winn: thats the complicated part

Alex: …

Maggie: They’re eye-sexing each other in every pic, what’s complicated?

Winn: yeah & they’re so fckin obvious guys

Winn: like OMG u shld c them in person.

Maggie: So what’s the issue?

Winn: well

Winn: Lena is Lena Luthor

Alex blinks rapidly, shakes her head, blinks some more, and returns her attention to her phone.

Alex: I’m sorry, WHAT

Winn: yeah…

Maggie: Damn, this is some Romeo and Juliet shit. Seriously?

Winn: i know!

Winn: but guys- shes actually rly awesome

Maggie: You’re shitting me

Alex: WHAT

Winn: stg im not shes a total nerd & crazy smart & i mean she can’t skate 4 SHIT but she’s v awesome

Winn: u guys will probably get to meet her- she’s coming 2 the festival w/ Kara & me next week!

Alex: WHAT

Maggie: HELL YES. Babe, we’re going. We have to go.

Winn: shes also interviewing Eliza 4 a job.

Winn: some alien tech medicine thing...

Winn: she wants 2 interview you Al

Maggie: Babe, that’d be so awesome!

Maggie: Think of how much shit you can get away with if your sister is fucking your boss!!

Alex: WHAT

Winn: i know! & shes helping me build my sleigh drone!

Alex: WHAT

Maggie: Shit, we broke her

************************

Several hours and three Irish coffees (heavy on the Irish and light on the coffee) later, Alex is feeling much more content. She’s reorganized her cupboards, cleaned out the old leftovers from the fridge, and has done a serious deep-dive on Lena Luthor, who, despite all odds, seems to be exactly what she appears. No strange transactions or phone calls, except for a donation of a quarter-million dollars to the Midvale Winter Festival yesterday. Alex had snickered into her whiskey at that. Clearly the girl had it bad.

Lena is involved in countless charities, both on and off the books, and from what Alex has gathered, is prepping LuthorCorp for an insane ethical overhaul. She’s photographed often, but rarely outside of various work functions, and from the hours she logs at the LuthorCorp offices she’s a bit of a workaholic. No real clubbing or partying since she was young enough for it to be acceptable, and no history of arrests or substance abuse, expunged or otherwise. A few questionable hospital stays when she was younger, something Alex makes note to pursue further, and the car wreck yesterday. She’d been adopted when she was almost five, which surprised Alex, and was actually native to Ireland. Currently, she held dual citizenship between the US and the emerald isle. She’d graduated from CalTech at 19 before doing a year-long fellowship at MIT, shortly thereafter becoming a project lead in LuthorCorp’s famed R&D division. She’s never been spotted with a boyfriend, and although there’d been rumors surrounding that particular tidbit since Lena was 17, it’s something none of the Luthor’s have ever deigned to comment on.

All in all, the only black mark in Alex’s mind is the fact that Lena Luthor has always loved her brother. They’d been close ever since her adoption, and Lex, if the photos are any indication, obviously adored his younger sister. She’d been beside him as the bombs had gone off in Metropolis last year, and had testified against him in court. Alex didn’t get the videos, but the transcripts are chilling. There are no records of her attempting to contact her brother since the bombing. There’s a photo of Lena standing beside Lillian Luthor, wincing, as her mother speaks to the press. It may just be the angle, or the lighting, but from where Alex is sitting, it looks an awful lot like Lillian Luthor is digging her nails into her daughter’s shoulder.

Alex shakes her head, thoughts a bit fuzzy around the edges, and closes the laptop with a sense of accomplishment. Is her dive into Lena Luthor’s personal, financial, and digital life legal? Probably not. Does the secret government agency she works for give her the right to do this? Probably not. Is Hank Henshaw, the man who’d helped to raise she and Kara, going to question or discipline her? Probably not. Does she give a fuck about any of those things when it comes to protecting her sister in any way? Definitely not.

She pulls out her phone and hits the top name on her favorites before pressing it to her ear and waiting as it rings.

“Alex! Hi I miss you! When are you coming home? We’ve got, like, a million cookies here, and Winn is convinced that he can eat more than me. As if, puny human. How’s Maggie? Oh my gosh, I have to tell you about yesterday! I made a new friend- not a dog, this time, an actual human friend. Her name’s Lena and she’s not a good driver, and…”

Alex relaxes back onto the couch, content to listen to Kara ramble and rave about Lena Luthor. She laughs throughout the retelling, poking fun at her sister as often as she can- it’s been over a week since she’s seen her, and she misses Kara something fierce. She tries not to think about what it’ll be like when her baby sister is across the country, rather than just across the city. She’ll cross that bridge when she gets to it, and not a moment sooner.

               

Alex Danvers is many things.

A genius. A secret agent. A leader. A fighter. A daredevil. A rebel. A bit drunk at 9:45 in the morning on a Tuesday.

But before all those, she is a sister.

 

Chapter Text

Lena is staring intently at some blueprints for a prototype she’s been working on in her rare bits of free time. Impervious to gunshots, knives, fire, and all manner of other potential damage, as well as being shock absorbent enough for it to be simply a matter of continuing forward despite any outside force. What she was having trouble with was getting it thin enough for it to be useful as a tactical suit rather than bulky body armor. She’s managed to find a suitable material deep in the vaults, and reproducing it had been simple enough. Still, it’s just this side of too unwieldy for her liking. Ideally, the suit would be no thicker than a standard wetsuit. She makes a note to test its water wicking ability the next time she heads down to the lab.

“Miss Luthor, there’s a Dr. Alexandra Danvers at the main desk for you. She says you’ve been trying to get hold of her, but she’s been out of the country. Shall I let her up?”

Lena bites back her surprise and coolly replies with a simple, “Yes, send her up.” She begins to hurriedly straighten up her desk, clearing it of the minimal clutter it’s acquired in the past few days that she’s needed to come into the office. She knows she’s meant to be on vacation, she does, but honestly, the only real reprieve she gets is when she’s at work. Her mother is still much the same as she’s always been, and seems even more intent on nitpicking Lena’s life and decisions now that she lives clear across the country. Nothing has ever been quite good enough for Lillian, but rarely has she been so outwardly antagonistic. It’s not her style at all. She’s more a ‘disappointed looks and cutting passive-aggression’ type of mother.

Well, except for the moments when she decides to be a bit more… hands on.

Still, Lena’s surprised that Alex Danvers is downstairs. Lena’s still been unable to reach her these past few days, even when they’re supposedly in the same city. She’d almost given up hope, thought that the younger Dr. Danvers was avoiding her, but if she’s been out of the country and unreachable…

Funny, though; Kara seems to worship the ground her sister walks on, speaks of her highly (and constantly) in their messages back and forth, but she hadn’t mentioned that her sister was out of the country. ‘You’d think that would’ve come up.’

The thought of Kara and Winn brings a smile to her face, unbidden. Contrary to what she’d expected, they’ve been texting her, be it pictures of kittens doing adorable things (Kara), geeking out about some new game or piece of tech (Winn), or just generally checking on her well-being, she’s heard from both of them throughout the day for the last several days, ever since she left Midvale. Winn sent pictures of the winter festival set-up yesterday, and Kara enthused over how much she was looking forward to going with ‘everyone,’ which apparently includes Lena herself. Kara’d even tried to convince Lena to skip an afternoon meeting to grab lunch when she had been in the city, but Lena had begged off, citing how important this particular meeting was. Kara had pouted but understood, managing to wrangle a rain check for when they were both in National City. And how could Lena say no to that?

 It’s strange and refreshing and a bit of something else that makes it hard to swallow and makes her vision blur at the corners.

She blinks, re-centering herself, and puts Alex Danvers’ dossier in the center of her desk, looking for all the world as though she’s been expecting her.

There’s a knock on her door, and she stands, calling, “Come in.”

Jess opens the door and leads a woman a few years Lena’s senior into the room. She’s a bit shorter than her sister, and lacks the obvious warmth Kara exudes, though a bit of it lingers in dark eyes. “Miss Luthor, I hear you’ve been trying to reach me?”

“I have. Please, come in. Take a seat, wherever you like.” Lena gestures to the chairs before her desk and retakes her own.

Alex does, moving with an easy grace that her clumsy, though doubtlessly athletic, sister doesn’t. ‘Stop thinking about Kara, this is business,’ Lena admonishes herself.

Alex smoothly slides into one of the chairs across from Lena and crosses her legs, ankle of her right leg resting on the knee of her left. “What can I do for you, Miss Luthor?”

Lena clears her throat. “I’ve been following your career a bit, doctor. I must say, I’m a fan.”

“Are you, now?” There’s a bit of curiosity.

Lena nods. “Your thesis on the destabilization of the stars within our universe and the repercussions of such as it refers to the multiverse theory was very interesting, as is you current work.”

Alex, inexplicably, looks slightly panicked. “My current work?”

“Yes, your work with Intra Dynamics,” Lena says. “Their progress into the fields of xenobiology and alien tech is unparalleled. You must enjoy it, with your background.”

“My background, yes. It makes my work very interesting. With Mom and my dad, it almost seems like the family business,” Alex replies with a smile, seeming to relax.

“Yes, I can understand that, believe me,” Lena says with a short laugh. “I’m still getting used to all of this CEO business, I’m still a bit of a lab geek at heart myself.”

Alex nods. “Corner offices leave you missing the basement?”

“You’ve no idea,” Lena smiles, relieved to rid the air of some of the awkward tension that’d clouded it. “I still head up what projects I can, but it isn’t quite as hands on as I’d like, truth be told. But, I haven’t been asking after you to complain about my own problems. Tell me, Dr. Danvers, do you enjoy your work?”

Alex bobbles her head back and forth noncommittally. “I enjoy parts of it. The resources I have to work with are amazing, but some of the content is less than what I was expecting. It depends on the day and the client, how I feel about my job, though I’m sure you feel the same. Why?”

“Because I’d like to offer you a job,” Lena states bluntly, guessing correctly that directness will get her far with Alex Danvers. “I’m about to open a new division of LuthorCorp, and I need someone to run the engineering side of it.”

“And what would this job entail?”

Lena folds her hands on her desk and looks down at them, biting her lip in contemplation. “I want to begin developing medicines and medical equipment for use by aliens.” At Alex’s surprised look, she hastily continues, meeting the other woman’s eyes earnestly “I know, with my family’s history, how that looks and sounds. I’m not ignorant to the fact that a Luthor wanting to help aliens is nearly unthinkable to the general public, between the millions my parents have invested in anti-alien lobbying and what my brother did. I know.”

She takes a deep breath, willing herself to remain poised when she talks about something that’s still so jagged and raw, even a year later. “But I am not my parents, and I am not my brother. He left this company in my hands, and I intend to make positive changes, not just here, but throughout the world. Our departments in genetic research, cloning, and agricultural science have been repurposed; we’re beginning to develop biosynthetic organs for humans. So far all we’ve managed is skin, but it’s progress nonetheless. We’re researching crop science, to breed and grow crops in less than ideal conditions, for use in regions where agriculture is simply impossible right now. We’re even trying to develop a better way for contaminated water to be purified on a large scale.”

Alex’s mind is reeling. She’d fully intended to come here and tell Lena Luthor to stay far away from her family, but here she was, getting drawn in by all the things she’s thought of doing. It’s incredibly advanced, the research they’re doing. And her gut isn’t helping either, inclined to believe the brunette sitting across from her. “That’s incredible,” she replies honestly.

Lena grins. “Thank you. It’s taken some doing, but the company is finally moving in a direction that I’m confident in. We still have our weapons contracts, I won’t lie to you. But they pay the bills, so we can do things that can really make a positive impact on the world. And once we have the new departments underway, I plan on whittling down the weapons programs.”

Alex nods thoughtfully. “So my position would be what, exactly?”

“I need someone who’s worked with both aliens and alien tech. Your background in medicine, xeno, and quantum engineering- very impressive, by the way-, makes you an ideal candidate. You’d be heading up a sector of a division devoted to alien medical research. Your role, specifically, would be in developing medical equipment that fits the unique needs of aliens. Most of our extraterrestrial counterparts live among us, hidden or disguised or passable as humans, but their physiology differs drastically. Human treatments frankly aren’t made for them, and there are cases every year of aliens dying because medically, we simply aren’t equipped to help them. Considering that many, if not most, of them come here as refugees from their own worlds, it’s something that needs to change, especially considering the Alien Amnesty Bill that’s being voted on next month.” Lena leans back in her chair. “This is a bit of a pet project for me, so I can promise access to damn near whatever you want or need. You’d choose and lead your own team with minimal oversight, most of which would be from myself.”

This. This, right here, is exactly the sort of opportunity Alex has wanted her whole life. She’ll have free rein to do some real good, changing the world for the better, with insane resources and minimal oversight. It’s quite literally a dream come true, and she’s so ecstatic that she almost forgets that it’s a Luthor making her the offer. She clears her throat. “I’ll, um, I’ll need a few days to talk this over with my fiancée. See what she thinks about it.”

Lena nods understandingly. “Of course, I understand completely. However, this is the starting yearly salary, in addition to a full benefits package, naturally.” She slides Alex a sheet of paper and the auburn-haired woman almost swallows her tongue. Alex looks back up at her and catches a wink. “Never hurts to sweeten the deal a bit, right?”

Alex shakes her head, slightly speechless. “No, it doesn’t.”

“Excellent! Well I hope to hear from you soon, Dr. Danvers-“

“Alex,” she interjects. “When I hear Dr. Danvers, I look for my mother. Who, by the way, I hear you’re trying to recruit for the medical side?”

Lena smirks. “I figured you knew why I was trying to contact you. Yes, I’m trying to get her to lead the department, or at least the medical apect. Her expertise is unrivaled. That won’t be an issue, will it? Working with your mother?”

Alex shrugs and settles back in her chair with an easy smile. “She mentioned it in an email. And no, we work together very well, these days. Also, when I got back into the States, my sister, Kara, sent me a text about you. Actually, a few.” She’s amused to see Lena flush a bit and break eye contact. “Something about ice skating?”

Lena clears her throat. “Yes, I was in a bit of trouble and your sister was kind enough to rescue me.”

Alex nods with a smile. “Yeah, she tends to do that. Bit of a hero complex, that one.”

Lena smiles slightly. “Your mother- Eliza- told me she tends to bring home strays.”

Alex laughs, warming to a favorite topic. “Oh, god. Yeah, mostly humans now- that’s how I met my fiancée-, but when we were teenagers it was every week with a stray cat or a puppy with a broken leg or a baby bird that fell out of its nest. Or, oh man, this one time, she found a bunch of squirrels…”

                              

It’s quite a while later that Alex leaves the office, smiling, and it isn’t until she reaches the elevators that she comes to a rather startling conclusion; Lena Luthor might just be human after all. And, more than that, Alex is seriously considering working for her.

“Shit, I gotta talk to Clark.”          

*********************

“Knock knock,” Alex calls, balancing the tray of coffees in one hand as she holds the door open with the other.

Lois looks up, surprised. “Alex! To what do I owe th- is that coffee?”

Alex laughs and enters the office, setting two of the large cardboard cups on her desk, one of which is immediately in Lois’ hands. “Yep. Your usual. You busy?”

“Eh, sorta, but you brought coffee so it’s fine,” Lois tells her. Her office is cluttered with stacks of notebooks, boxes of files, and there are two laptops on her desk, as well as a tablet and a cell phone. “What can I do for ya, Red?” Lois is tying rapidly, no doubt wrapping up an article. “If it’s about Kara leaving some stuff at the apartment, we told her not to worry about it; we’ll bring it when we go to Midvale next week.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s… what to you know about Lena Luthor?” Alex asks, leaning up against the door.

Lois stops typing for a moment and looks over at Alex curiously before starting up again. “A bit. Probably less than you, but I’ve met her a few times. Why?”

“Because she just offered me a job. A really good job, and I need to know if she’s what she seems.”

Lois frowns, dark brows knitting together. “Hmm. Well, when I knew her she was a teenager, but she was already in school at CalTech. She was really close with Lex, but I haven’t heard any rumors about her even calling him. And believe me, with my source, I would’ve heard about that. She always seemed like a nice kid, honestly. Kinda socially awkward and way too damned smart for her own good. I remember Lex mentioning that she had a bit of a rebellious phase and drove Lillian Luthor up a wall. He thought it was fucking hysterical.”

Alex nods. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that Lois, Clark, and Lex had all been best friends in the not-so-distant past. “Any of the Luthor crazy rattling around in there that you can tell?”

Lois thinks for a moment before decisively shaking her head. “No, she was always a bit of a black sheep. Or, a white sheep, maybe. She didn’t have a ton of friends, if I remember right, but I guess being in college at 15 will do that to you. She was always tagging along after Lex, worshipped the ground he walked on, and he felt the same about her. All in all, she was sweet, quiet, smart kid; didn’t fit in much with that fucking family. Lex said she and Lillian never particularly got along.”

“Maybe because she’s adopted?”

Lois smirks. “I knew you’d done some homework, Agent.” Lois had discovered her secret life two years prior, but she’d been true to her word and never discussed it with anyone, save Maggie, Clark, or Lucy (who was, in fact, Alex’s boss’s boss).

Alex rolls her eyes. “Well of course I have. I’m not naive.”

Lois smirks again. “No, you’re not. And to answer your question, I don’t think the adoption had anything to do with it. I think Lillian held something against Lena, but god knows what with that psycho.”

 Alex nods thoughtfully. “So, I shouldn’t feel awful for considering the job?”

Lois shakes her head definitively. “Shit no. From what I’ve seen and heard, she’s trying to put a lot of distance between herself and the rest of the Luthors. She was a good kid when I knew her, and from all the good press she’s been getting in National City, I’d guess she still is. Actually, I’m gonna see if I can get an interview with her while she’s in the time zone. Perry’s been wanting me to do a few interviews here and there with some of the big fish. Evidently, Smallville is an ‘unreliable’ reporter. Never meets deadlines, always disappearing…” Lois winks conspiratorially at Alex. “No idea where he goes.”

Alex laughs. “Alright, well, awesome. I mean, I still have to talk to Maggie, and Hank, and my mom, but who knows?”

“Hey, Red, how good is this job?” Lois asks curiously.

“So good that if you’d given me literally any other answer, I would think it was a trap,” Alex laughs. “It’s like it was made for me.”

“Pay’s good?”

“The pay is fucking insanity. Look at this,” Alex tells her, pulling the paper out of her pocket and slapping it down on Lois’ desk.

The brunette lets out a low whistle, eyebrows nearing her hairline. “Damn, Red. Don’t suppose she’s looking to hire a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist?”

Alex grins and stuffs the paper back into her pocket. “I don’t think so, but I can ask.”

Lois grins, before she looks at Alex seriously. “You deserve that, kid. You’ve worked damn hard and sacrificed a lot to get to where you are today. No one deserves that obscene paycheck more than you, and fuck anyone who says otherwise.”

“She wants to hire Mom, too.”

Lois tosses her head back and laughs. “Oh, shit, please let me be there when you tell Clark; I want to get a picture of his face.”

Alex winces. “Is he gonna take it that badly if we do? Because I know Mom doesn’t, really, but I could definitely use the money. And the work is important stuff.” When Lois opens her mouth, Alex quickly cuts her off. “Sorry, can’t tell you, signed some papers making me unable to speak to the press.”

“Fine,” Lois pouts. “But look, he’s still… sensitive about the whole Lex thing, and Lena was standing right next to her brother when he set off the bombs. He feels like he failed, that day, and you know how Kryptonians are about failure.”

Alex snorts. “Kara always takes it harder than Maggie when things go wrong on the job. Maggie got grazed by a ricochet one time- barely, I mean it literally only needed a band-aid- and Kara looked like she wanted to fly into the sun.”

Lois nods. “Yeah. Hard to be accept that whole ‘you’re only human’ spiel when you’re not. Clark never had any issues with Lena, though, and with all she’s been doing this past year, he might not flip the fuck out.”

“Good to know.” Alex slaps her thighs and stands, preparing to leave. “Hey, wanna get a drink with Maggie and I this week, have a bit of a girl’s night? She’s working days until she transfers, so we can meet up at actual human hours.”

Lois grins. “Wouldn’t miss it. Text me when and where. I’m not working on any investigative pieces at the moment, so my nights are free. Besides, it’s busy this time of year for Clark, all the hospital visits for the kids and volunteering and petty crimes to thwart. It’ll be nice to have a girl’s night, even if our usual DD isn’t here.”

Alex snorts. “Oh please, like Kara would ever miss a girl’s night. She can be here in less than 5 minutes.”

“Good. I miss having her around, she was a much better roommate than my boyfriend is,” Lois snarks, pulling Alex into a quick hug. “Okay, love you, Red, proud of you, glad you dropped in, even more glad that you brought a shitload of coffee, but I have to finish this or Perry is gonna skin my ass. Or, y’know, try to, anyways.”

“Gotcha,” Alex laughs. “Have fun. I’ll text you later.”

Lois’ attention is back on her screen and she shoos Alex out of her office with a halfhearted swipe of her hand. “Bye.”

Alex shakes her head as she leaves, feeling much better about the situation now than she did a few hours ago. Lois has always been a role model for her, and she’d helped Alex out a lot when Kara had first come to live with them, answering late night calls when Alex was beyond frustrated with the younger girl but unable to really vent about it to anyone and telling her how she might be able to help Kara feel better, more at home. It’d been a massive help that first year, and she’d even stepped up when Jeremiah had disappeared, she and Clark helping out whenever they could, making sure that the remaining Danvers would make it through the tragic loss of their father and husband. She’d been a consistent (and now, constant) fixture in Alex’s life for 14 years. Lois had also been her first crush, in retrospect, but honestly, who could blame her? 

Alex had walked here today, wanting to get a little sun and walk a bit while she sorted her mind out, but now she’s settled down, it’s cold, and she just wants to get home and take a nap. It’d been another long night at the DEO- the alien last night had been bad enough that they’d been forced to call in Superman as backup, and even then it’d been a hard-fought battle. But after tonight- when she’s only on-call and not on-duty- she’ll be free and clear for the rest of the year, barring a massive emergency of world-ending status. In a few days she’ll be in Midvale, crammed into a too-small house filled to bursting with too many people. At lease Kara and Clark had finished the basement over the summer, so now at least most of them had their own rooms- provided all the couples shared- and there was another bathroom, but it was still 11 people in a house (though Hank Henshaw only stayed on Christmas Eve, not for the two weeks most of them tried to). She couldn’t really deny, though, that it was her favorite time of year, all the people she loved in this world together, jostling and joking and arguing over metahumans and games of Monopoly and who gets the last cinnamon roll (Maggie’s specialty, which she refuses to make anywhere except Eliza’s, claiming her oven makes them taste better).

Having them all there helps to fill a bit of the space her dad had left. Christmas had always been Jeremiah’s favorite holiday, and he’d gone all-out every year, with lights and inflatable snowmen and real garlands of evergreen wrapped around the porch rail. Eliza humored him, even though she was born and raised Jewish (though she was hardly what anyone could consider Orthodox), and they’d settled into the extravagant ‘Christmakah’ tradition well before they had Alex. Alex had always been enthusiastic, her dad was her hero, and when Kara had arrived, they’d quickly inducted her into their family traditions. She’d loved the lights and the music, even when they were still a bit overwhelming for her, and of course any opportunity to eat her body weight in sweets is a welcome one.

It’s weird and loud and there’re always too many people and no one can ever agree what movie to watch when they cram themselves into the living room, but they’re her family, and she can’t wait to be home.

Chapter Text

“Lena, dear, this place is a mess, and what are you wearing?”

Lena winces slightly as she straightens from tying her boots. She hadn’t heard her mother come in. “Hello to you too, Mother. My day is going very well, and I’ve been very productive. I even managed to track down a potential hire for the opening in the IT department. How are you?”

Lillian is un-amused. “Lena, you can’t wear that, what will people think?”

“I’m going down to the labs, I can hardly wear Armani and heels,” she scoffs. She’s wearing a mechanic’s jumpsuit, but it’s clean and neat and not really objectionable the way some of her more ‘professional’ outfits sometimes are. Her hair is pulled back neatly, and she’s devoid of any jewelry, though her lips are still stained a deep red and her eyes are still made up.

Sure, she intends to tie the upper part of the jumpsuit around her waist as soon as she gets downstairs, as the air conditioning system is being repaired, but who cares? It’s hot.

“Lena, you cannot wear that anywhere, let alone around the people who work for you,” Lillian says sharply. “Go put something else on.”

Lena sighs. “Mother, I understand what you want, I’m simply saying no. No.”

Lillian’s jaw ticks as she looms over her daughter. “You’re more stubborn than your father. He never yielded when I knew what was best, either.”

Lena smiles, though it doesn’t meet her eyes. “One of Dad’s best qualities.” She moves past Lillian, but is stopped but a firm grip on her elbow. Lena raises an eyebrow. “This is my building, and my company,” she whispers dangerously. “Let me go, or I’ll call security, and fuck what people will think about that.”

Lillian’s glare intensifies, but she releases Lena’s arm. “You’re so spiteful, after everything you’ve been given. After everything I’ve given you. You’ve never wanted for anything, Lena, and yet you act as though you’ve been so terribly wronged.”

“Yes, that’s me, poor little rich girl. Never struggled a day in her life,” Lena snorts, exiting the office, her mother right on her heels. “What do you want?”

“A mother can’t visit her daughter at work?”

“A mother can, sure,” Lena agrees. “But you don’t, so what do you want?”

“I wanted to know how the planning for the winter gala is coming,” Lillian sniffs, examining her nails as her long legs allow her to easily match Lena’s angry stride. “It’s the first one you’re planning by yourself, I thought that maybe you’d like a bit of help.”

Lena stops and looks at her mother curiously. “Where was this six months ago when the planning started?”

“I was a bit distracted, Lena, between my son in prison and my daughter moving all the way across the country just to get away from me.”

Lena rolls her eyes and starts off again, weaving through the employees going about their day with a practiced smile. “Don’t flatter yourself, Mother; it wasn’t just to get away from you.”

Lillian catches up to her gracefully in only a few strides, boarding the elevator with her daughter. “My offer stands, Lena. I know the Gala is a lot to take on, and you don’t have the connections that I do. The Luthor name isn’t always enough these days, you know.”

“I’ve gotten where I am without much help from you, Mother. I’m sure I can handle a party.” The elevator stops at the main floor, and Lillian eyes her daughter, who only smiles a sharp smile in return. “I’m sorry, but you have to wear protective gear to get to the labs. Not to mention, you don’t have the clearances to get down there.”

“Since when?” Lillian hisses. “I developed half the medical patents your father filed. I’ve always had access to the labs.”

“Since about six months ago,” Lena replies, voice a bit too sweet to be genuine. “I didn’t think you’d mind, or notice, so I upped security in all sensitive areas. Including R&D.”

Lillian looks fit to throttle her, right there in the elevator, but quickly composes herself and steps into the marble lobby of LuthorCorp headquarters. “Very well. I’ll see you at home.” To anyone else, it’d sound loving, but Lena recognizes the threat for what it is.

“You will. Goodbye, Mother,” Lena dismisses.

The doors close, and she allows herself to sag against them, hands trembling slightly. Lillian has never offered help to Lena in anything, be it homework, learning to drive, or just a basic sex talk. She has serious doubts that her mother feels any sort of desire to help her with something as relatively straightforward as a party, especially when she had to know that planning has been going on for months and everything is finalized by now. Lena is a planner, always has been, and she has contingency plans for her contingency plans, none of which she plans on sharing with her mother. Lillian had clearly wanted something from her, though she has no idea what it could possibly be. She takes a deep breath and presses the button for the labs, entering in her security code and inserting her mag card to gain access, making a note to speak to the head of security about possibly upgrading the system. You can never be too careful.

*******************

A few days of working overtime, a very unflattering story circulating the tabloids, and frosty silence at home later, Lena receives a rather panicked text from Kara.          

 

Kara: Leeeeeeeeenaaaaaaaaa!

Lena: Yes?

Kara: What am I supposed to wear to your fancy ball??

Lena: *crying laughing emoji* Ball? It’s just a party.

Lena: Just rich people getting drunk at my expense, no fairy godmothers required

Kara: Lena! Come on, help!

Lena: I’m sure whatever you’re considering is fine, Kara

Kara: So my reindeer sweater dress?

Lena: …

Kara: What! It’s a holiday party!

Lena: Are you going to be in Metropolis anytime this week?

Kara: Yeah, Alex, Maggie, Lois, and I are doing a girl’s night tonight, why?

Lena: Come early and we’ll go look for something for you

Kara: Really?? OMG, you’re the best I hate shopping, and I’ve never been to a ball, and I don’t know what to wear, and I don’t even have the right kind of shoes, probably

Kara: I’m guessing sneakers aren’t allowed?

Kara: Are they?

Kara: I bet they’re not.

Kara: How long should my dress be? Are pumpkins required?

Lena: For you, I’d make an exception on the sneakers, but you’d be the only one wearing them.

Lena: And yes, you are required to bring a pumpkin

Kara: No sneakers, yes pumpkin, got it

Lena: Just stop by LuthorCorp when you get into the city

Lena: My schedule is pretty clear for the rest of the day. We can even grab lunch

Kara: Oooo, lunch…

Kara: * three heart eye emojis*

               

Lena snorts and sets her phone down, going back to work. She’s barely read through half a page, though, when her intercom crackles to life.

“Miss Luthor, there’s a very eager young woman down here, says she’s a friend of yours? Kara Danvers?”

Lena’s brow wrinkles, but she quickly replies, “Yes, please send her up.”

“Will do, Miss Luthor.”

Kara bounces happily into her office a minute or so later, immediately lifting Lena into a tight hug. “Hey, thanks so much for helping me out, I’m useless at shopping, and Alex always says I’m annoyingly picky, took her weeks to find a dress for me for the wedding, and-“ when she sets Lena down, she’s met with a frown. The blonde’s forehead crinkles in confusion. “Lena? Is it a bad time? I’m sorry, I know you’re always super busy, and-“

“Were you texting and driving?” Lena asks, cutting off her rambling. “Because I have to say, that’s disappointing. It’s very dangerous, and you, as a former police officer, should know that.”

“What? No, of course not,” Kara assures her, becoming more confused by the second. “I’d never text and drive.”

“How did you respond five minutes ago and you’re now standing in my office?” Lena asked. “You’d have to have some sort of super speed to get anywhere in the city this time of day, ergo, you were either texting and driving, or loitering outside my building.”

“What- pfft, no, I was texting and flying… through traffic. Yes. On my bike, which I left at my old apartment and rode here. Yep, I just, zipped through that traffic. On my bike. That I pedaled here. But not any faster than a normal human could. Nothing weird there, just me. Riding my bike.”

Lena raises an eyebrow, putting yet another thing in the file of Things to Ask Kara about Later. “Alright, I believe you. But why were you riding a bike this time of year?”

“Oh, y’know, good exercise, fresh air, I like the way the chain clicks…” Lena looks totally bemused now, and Kara claps her hands together loudly. “Okay, so shopping, right? And lunch?”

Lena nods and stands up from her desk. “Yes, let me just put on something a little warmer.”

Kara nods as Lena disappears into a small room hidden behind a painting in the office (‘Neat!’), only for Lena to open the door slightly and stick her head and an arm back out the opening. She points at Kara sternly. “Riding a bike and texting is still dangerous. And illegal. I looked it up.” And then the hidden door clicks closed.

Kara chuckles. Who knew Lena Luthor would be such a stickler for the rules?

 

A few minutes later, Lena is wearing simple (but, Kara guesses, probably very expensive) gray slacks and a deep green sweater and heavy wool socks on feet that step into tall leather boots. She grabs her long jacket from the coat rack behind the door and together they head toward the elevator. Kara notes how Lena makes sure to offer a smile to every employee whose eye she catches, stopping a few times to ask or answer a question. It’s clear she’s well-liked by her staff, which is always something Kara respects. She’s had a string of awful bosses, but the ones everyone liked were the ones everyone had worked the hardest for. She suspects Lena is the boss that everyone likes.

“If you want to know what someone’s like, look at how they treat their inferiors, not their equals,” Kara says quietly as the elevator drops toward the main level.

Lena glances at her from the corner of her eye, smirking slightly. “Did you honestly just quote Harry Potter at me, Kara?”

She grins, wide and unabashed. “I did, and you caught it, you nerd.”

Lena shoves her lightly, full-on smiling now. “You’re the nerd. Do you mind if we take my car? Because while I’d love to ride on the handlebars of your bike, some of us get cold like normal people do.”

“My bike? Oh! Yeah, no, we can take your car; I’ll just have my cousin pick up the bike on his way home. He has a spare key, for the lock. The lock for my bike.” ‘Nailed it. And Alex says I suck at lying.’

“Right. And I don’t think of my employees as my inferiors. A lot of them do things every day that I can’t,” Lena tells her. They’re waiting on the curb now for Lena’s driver. “That makes me their inferior in a lot of ways.”

Kara grins at her. “It must be nice working for you, with an attitude like that.”

Lena laughs. “Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I have a bit of a temper, especially when things aren’t going the way I want, I’m a total workaholic, a perfectionist, and, according to my mother, I am very spiteful and ungrateful.”

Kara’s startled by this. “Are you?”

Lena grins at her. “Well,” she drawls, “I don’t think I am, but then, I might be biased.”

Kara laughs, and they climb into the car.

 

“So, yeah, I literally can’t afford anything in this store,” Kara tells Lena. They’re in one of the high-end boutiques Lena frequented when she lived in Metropolis, and Kara is looking around, red-faced, at all of the expensive clothes. “I thought you meant like, we’d go to the mall, get lunch in the food court, that sort of thing.”

Lena snickers. “Kara, don’t worry about it. What size are you, a six?”

“Or an eight,” she confirms, flipping over a price tag and blanching at what she reads. “Lena, how can I not worry about it, I can’t buy anything.”

Lena really looks at her then, noting how upset she is. “Hey, Kara, it’s my treat.”

“What? No! No way!”

Lena’s brow furrows. “Why not?”

“Because it’s too much!” Kara says firmly. “You already invited us to your party.”

“I assure you, my motivations for inviting you and Winn are purely selfish,” Lena tells her. “You see, I sort of hate… well, everyone who’s going to be there, and in a lot of cases, the feeling is mutual. So, I didn’t invite you to a fun party, Kara; I invited you to spend an evening with me and around 1,000 powerful, venomous snakes. Like I said, it’d be nice, for once, to have some friendly faces in the crowd.”

Kara’s brow crinkles. “So, you need someone to watch your back?”

Lena shrugs. “Sure, if that’s how you want to think of it. I haven’t been allowed to invite anyone before, so it’s going to be a pleasant change to have you and Winn there. Usually I have to mingle for hours with terrible people. And also, my mother.” At Kara’s worried look, she adds, “Not that the entire thing will be awful. There’s going to be food, music… Winn can get geeky with the CTO, you can definitely find some rich handsome guy to dance with-”

“Lena, if I go, I want to spend time with you. That’s the whole point, right?”

Lena is rendered a bit speechless, and hastily grabs at one of the dresses on a rack. She holds it up to Kara, trying to picture her in it. ‘No, definitely not.’  She puts it back. “Well, Cinderella, you can’t go to the ball in that,” she jokes, finally finding her voice and changing the subject.

Kara plays along, tugging questioningly at her oversized sweater. “Why, what’s wrong with this?”

“Nothing at all. But you’re always wearing big sweaters, and I can’t tell what kind of dress will look right on you, so take it off.”

Kara blinks at her, shrugs, and pulls it over her head. Her undershirt rides up a bit on her stomach as she does, exposing a glimpse of well-defined abdominals and smooth golden skin, and- is that a belly ring? “Better?”

Lena’s eyes snap up, lip caught between her teeth. “Yes, much. We’ll have to show off those arms, Officer Danvers,” she grins.

Kara flushes, crossing her arms over her chest. “I work out a little. Helped with the job, being in shape.”

“I can see that,” Lena smirks, feeling a bit more confident on familiar territory. She turns and searches the shop, eyes landing on a few dresses she thinks might work. She piles them into Kara’s arms and pushes her off toward the dressing rooms.

“I still can’t afford any of these,” Kara complains, voice muffled behind the door.

“And, as I said, it’s my treat,” Lena counters, discretely handing a credit card to the salesgirl with a wink.

The door swings open, revealing Kara in a deep red dress. “I said that you don’t need to do that,” Kara tells her, hair slightly tousled from changing her clothes. “What do you think of this one?”

Lena frowns, gesturing for her to turn around. “Hmm. The style isn’t quite right, too… slinky,” she decides, noting the way it clings and the long slit up the front. Granted, Kara in a slinky red dress is quite a sight to behold, but that’s something to explore another time.

Kara sighs with relief. “That’s what I thought, too. Next!” She skips back into the dressing room.

“Miss Luthor, will you need anything today?” the salesgirl asks.

She thinks for a moment. “Yes, please see if Alicia has any recommendations for me,” she says, naming the woman who’d worked as her stylist when she was a frequent customer here.

“Right away, Miss Luthor.”

“How about this one? I like it a little better than the last one.”

Lena turns her attention to Kara. The green, flowing dress is lovely, but… “Maybe. And I am buying the dress, Kara. You literally can’t stop me.”

Kara grins cheekily. “Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure of that.” She steps back into the dressing room.

“Try me. And besides, how else am I supposed to repay you?”

The shuffling in the dressing room stops. “What do you mean?”

“You saved my life, and you let me stay with your family and showed me around your town, you send me things that make me laugh every day, and now you’re coming to this gala,” Lena says, flicking through the racks nearby. “I have to try to pay you back, somehow.” A hand settles on her shoulder, and she jumps.

“You don’t have to pay me back for that, Lena, any of it. I saved you because it was the right thing to do, and the rest was just because you’re, y’know, you.” Kara’s voice is gentle behind her. “You’re my friend. Friends don’t have to pay each other back. They’re good to each other just because they want to be. You don’t have to get me things, for me to like you. I already do. Like you, that is.”

Lena exhales slowly. “I’m afraid that I’m not very good at having friends.”

“Well, I think that you’re doing great so far,” Kara tells her, squeezing her shoulder. “Although, I might be biased.”

Lena laughs sharply and relaxes under Kara’s hand. “You’re very biased, if you think I’m a good friend.”

“I like you anyways. Now, what about this one?” Lena turns, and then stops abruptly, though Kara doesn’t seem to notice as she twirls around, laughing. “I actually kinda like it! I love the color, and it’s so soft, and…”

Lena is certain that she should pay attention to what Kara is saying, it’s just that she can’t. Her brain has actually gone quiet, for the first time possibly ever. “Wow.”

“… and it has pockets,” Kara finishes, still smiling, hands stuffed into what are, indeed, pockets hidden along the seams of the dress. “Big pockets, too. Imagine how many snacks I can fit in here!”

“Kara, there will be food at the gala,” Lena says, tearing her eyes off her friend after too long a look.

“Maybe, but snacks, Lena. Snacks make everything better,” Kara tells her seriously before flouncing cheerfully off to the dressing room.

Lena watches her go, still rather tongue-tied. Finally shaking herself out of her stupor, she calls, “I’m paying for that dress, Kara. And some shoes. You have to wear it.”

Kara peers over the top of the door, and if Lena’s mind wasn’t quite so fuzzy, she’d question how the other woman had managed to look over a door that was easily eight feet tall. “Fine, but I’m buying lunch. My treat.”

Lena concedes with a nod.

They find a pair of simple pumps for Kara to wear (she can’t actually walk very well in heels, but the dress is really long and who’s to know if she hovers an inch off the floor?) and Lena picks several of the items Alicia selected for her. Finally, Kara is given her dress in a bag, with polite but firm care instructions; the rest of Lena’s purchases will be delivered to the Manor later that day.

They walk out to the car, Kara carefully holding the dress bag aloft, wary of any harm that could come to it, and Lena rolls her eyes. “Kara, it didn’t turn into glass when we bought it, you know.”

Kara shoots her a look. “Maybe not, but still, Lena, this dress is like a month of my salary when I was a cop.”

“Really? They should pay you more,” Lena quips. “Then you could have 100 of these dresses and put us all to shame.”

Kara just sticks her tongue out at Lena and awkwardly clambers into the car.

*******************

Lunch begins as a pretty simple affair, with Kara choosing a restaurant she used to work at when she was new to the city, before ultimately attending the police academy and becoming an officer. Over drinks (wine for Lena, homemade soda for Kara) Kara regales Lena with tales of awful customers and the hilarious server who’d once dumped an entire plate of pasta on a man when he grabbed at one of the younger girls who worked there. The server then shouted at the man, calling him out for his behavior in front of the entire restaurant. He’d been told he was fired after the incident, but he simply said, “No,” and continued waiting tables and showing up to shifts until management finally relented.

Lena laughs, eyes bright with amusement. “He sounds like a hero to me. Screw Superman, I’ll take Pastaman any day,” she jokes.

Kara grins. “Yeah, Gio’s sorta been my hero since then.” At Lena’s questioning look, she looks shyly down at the table. “The server that guy grabbed was me.”

Lena smiles. “I’m glad he had your back. Where is he now?”

“He actually-“

“Kara, love of my life, where have you been?” A huge man lifts Kara bodily out of her seat and crushes her in a hug. “I haven’t seen you in weeks, I thought you were hurt! Leaving me to go be a cop, making me worry for years. Who’s looking after you now?”

“Lena, Gio. Gio, Lena,” Kara laughs, wrapping her arms around the man as he plants an affectionate kiss on her cheek.

He turns deep set, sparkling eyes to Lena and smiles warmly. “Lena, eh?” he jostles Kara a little in his arms. “Is this where you’ve been hiding, my darling? And when you come visit us you don’t even say hello?” He sets her on the ground and looks at her sternly, hands the size of frying pans planted on his hips.

“I told you that I’m moving, Gio,” Kara says, exasperated. She looks tiny, standing before him, even though she’s rather tall for a woman. “I’m not hurt or anything, I swear. My last shift was over a week ago.”

He huffs. “And no call? No texts, no emails…?”

Kara’s blushing. “Sorry, Gio. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”

He sighs and tousles her hair with a massive hand. Looking at Lena, he explains, “This one here was a dishwasher, and everyone loved her so much they made her a server- she’s so sweet, all the customers will love her too, right? Problem was she didn’t know how to wait tables to save her life. So she was my little baby for a while,” he grins at Kara, who huffs and crosses her arms but doesn’t argue. “She was a good waitress. Little clumsy, but eh, what can you do? So now she comes in for pasta twice a week, except she stopped coming in. I thought you died, cara mia,” he says, dropping into Kara’s chair dramatically.

Lena suppresses a smile at the devastated look he’s wearing, failing when he subtly throws her a wink.

“I didn’t die, Gio,” Kara tells him exasperatedly. “I’m just back at my mom’s until the move.”

“Fine, fine. Now Lena, you’re a friend of Kara’s?”

Lena nods, meeting the blonde’s eye. “Yes, new friends.”

Kara grins at her.

“Kara, you let me know next time you bring her in here, eh? I’ll give you a better table,” Gio says, elbowing her lightly. “What’re you drinking? Root beer?”

“Black cherry, actually,” Kara corrects.

“Phah, I’ll get you some wine. You drink wine when you’re out with a pretty girl, cara mia. I taught you that before your big date with that terrible girl, you remember?”

Lena looks on with renewed interest simmering just under the laughter threatening to bubble up.

Kara is nearly as red as Lena’s pinot noir at this point. “I know you did, Gio, but-”

“And Miss Lena, I’ll get you better wine. Kara probably didn’t ask for the real menu when she arrived,” He thumps her lightly on the head. “I told you all about taking out the pretty girls. My brother taught me, and the man was very successful at being a whore until he got married. He wasted it on me, but you, Kara. I taught you better.”

Kara looks as though she wants to sink into the floor, and Lena is torn between being mortified, coming to Kara’s rescue, and just laughing until she cries.

Gio claps his hands together, the smack startling a couple in a booth halfway across the restaurant. “I’m going to check your food and get the wine. It was good to meet you, Miss Lena. Kara, non fare più l'idiota, si?"

Kara nods, and he claps her on the shoulder and trundles away, surprisingly graceful for a man of his stature.

Lena is silent as Kara retakes her seat, drinking the rest of her soda in a single gulp. Eventually, she makes eye contact with Lena again, who is biting her lip in an effort to not burst out into semi-hysterical laughter. “So,” Kara says wryly, straightening her glasses which at some point went askew, “that was Gio, and now he owns the restaurant.”

Lena loses her battle and laughs so hard it hurts.

               

True to his word, Gio does bring them a bottle of wine, and it is, indeed, a better vintage. Their food comes out and for being a fairly simple place, it’s incredible, easily rivaling anything Lena has had at five-star restaurants. She tells Gio this, and he laughs. “The secret, Miss Lena, is love; love, and garlic, and white wine, and cheese.” And who is Lena to argue with that?

“So,” Kara drawls when they leave, huddling in their coats against the bitter chill in the air. “I know you’ve lost the day at this point. Wanna go get a drink?”

Lena looks at her hopeful face and smiles. “I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

Maggie is a fan of this bar. It’s not quite dark, but the lighting is just dim enough to lend a sense of intimacy to the people who go there for a drink with friends. There’s no TV’s, so no loud dudes yelling and ruining everyone’s night over whatever game is on, and there’s a jukebox that costs 10 cents a song. It’s been her go-to here ever since she transferred from Gotham, and it eventually became her and Kara’s place to relax after a shift. Then Alex started joining them, and now Lois does, and even Lucy has come out with them before when she was in town. Just this side of shabby, the booths are comfortable, and the pool table is rarely occupied by anyone but themselves, at least when they’re there. Despite being a bit broken in, the drinks are always great, the bartender is fast, and they’d even opened up their kitchen a couple years ago (Maggie believes this has to do with Kara’s frequent patronage and the fact that she routinely ate all the bar snacks. Kara disagrees) and the food was pretty decent.

So yeah, it’s a good bar.

“Where the hell is Kara? She was supposed to meet us an hour ago,” Alex mutters, pulling her phone from her jacket pocket.

“Babe, I’m sure Little Danvers is fine. Probably found a puppy or something somewhere,” Maggie assures her, taking a pull from her beer bottle.

“I’m gonna call her, she should’ve been-“

“Hey, sorry I’m late. What’d I miss?” Lois asks, walking up to the table. “It’s cold as shit out there, by the way. Damn story took me down to the harbor.”

Maggie scoots over in the booth to make room and pushes the remains of her drink to the newcomer, which Lois downs gratefully. “You didn’t miss much; Kara’s running late, Alex is going all ‘big sister’ about it. Y’know, the usual.”

Lois nods. Maggie and Lois get along famously, both lacking a filter and finding themselves to be totally hilarious. “Sounds about right. Is she flying here from Midvale?”

Alex shakes her head, phone pressed to her ear. “Said she was meeting up with a friend in the city this afternoon.”

“Kara has friends?” Lois and Maggie ask in perfect stereo. When they realize what they’ve done, they turn to each other, grin, and high-five.

Alex rolls her eyes fondly. “Yes, she has friends who aren’t us. I was surprised too. Dammit, she’s not answering. Maybe I can get Hank to-”

“Hey guys! Sorry, oh my gosh, traffic is awful,” Kara says as she runs up to the table.

“Kara, I’ve been calling you, why didn’t you answer?” Alex asks, but when her eyes flick past her sister, she finds her answer and has to suppress a smirk.

“Sorry, Alex. We went shopping, and then out to lunch, and Gio kept bringing more food and better wine, and- oh,” she stops, noticing that everyone’s attention is on the woman standing slightly behind her. “Oh, shoot, sorry. Guys, this is my friend, Lena. Lena, my sister Alex- you met her already, Maggie Sawyer, and Lois Lane.”

Lena smiles a bit awkwardly and raises her hand in a wave. “Hello, sorry to barge in.”

Maggie grins widely. “No! No, not at all, c’mon, make room.” She shuffles until she’s pressed to Alex’s side on the opposite side of the booth from where she started, tugging Lois after her so that the two younger women are made to sit side by side across from them. Lois is grinning in an almost predatory way, the way she always does when she’s plotting something, and Alex is resigned to the fact that she’s going to have to run interference between the younger women and her friends. She spots their waitress and signals her to bring the table a round. She has a feeling they’ll all need to be drunker for this.

“So Lena, how do you know Kara?” Lois asks, already knowing the answer.

Lena quirks a brow at her. “I trust this is off the record?”

Lois grins. ’Oh, Kid, I like her.’ “Of course. Girl’s night is always off the books. We made that deal when Alex was just a wee baby drunk,” Lois assures her.

“Good. We actually met last week, when she very heroically pulled me from a burning car after I crashed into a tree,” Lena says smoothly, grinning at the blonde.

“Well, the car wasn’t burning, it was just… smoking,” Kara demurs, grabbing a drink from the tray that’s just arrived, if only to have something to do with her hands.

“That sounds like her, alright. Little Danvers was my partner for almost five years, you know,” Maggie says. “I made detective this past week, and she’s going off to be a nerd in National City, so now the dream team is broken up.”           

“Really? And congratulations.”

“Yep, she introduced me to my fiancée, here,” Maggie says, leaning over to kiss Alex quickly on the cheek. “She’s a good luck charm, that one; only got hurt once on the job when she was my partner.”

“Yeah, she’s alright,” Lois says, poking Kara in the side and making her squirm. “We’ve decided to keep her, she always has snacks.”

Lena smiles at the way Kara’s cheeks heat up. “Does she, now?”

“Oh, always. Half the pockets in her uniform were filled with candy,” Maggie tells her, laughing. “One time, she had to tackle this guy and it fucking rained Jolly Ranchers. Never seen a banger look more confused.”

 Lena laughs hard at that. “I can imagine. First tackled by a pretty blonde, and then she throws candy all over you.”

Maggie’s grin splits her face. “So what brings you out to join our girl’s night, Miss Luthor?”

‘Well that didn’t take long…’ Lena groans and shoots the drink she’s holding. “Augh, no, just Lena, please.”

“Lena it is.”

“Kara dragged me out, actually. She needed help finding a dress for this gala I begged her to come to,” Lena says. “Then we went out to lunch, and I met Gio-“

Maggie barks out a laugh. “Oh, man, he’s quite a character, huh?”

“He’s something, alright,” Kara mutters, sipping at the drink before pulling a face. She looks questioningly between the mystery drink and her sister, but Alex only shrugs, signaling for another round.

“-and eventually, we wound up here.” Lena grins, and then focuses on Lois. “I have to say, Miss Lane, I’m a fan of your work. Your investigative pieces are exceptional.”

Lois snorts. “Kiddo, if I’m calling you Lena, you’re calling me Lois. Besides, it’s not like we’re strangers.” Lena raises a glass in acknowledgement. “And thank you. It’s always good to hear that my work makes an impact. It’s harder these days, with all the fake stuff floating around, to get to the real nitty-gritty of something that’s really wrong, but I do my best.”

“You do it well,” Lena assures her with a shy smile. She’s always liked Lois Lane, even before she knew her as a reporter and she was just a friend of Lex’s. Turning her attention back to the others, she can see they’re watching her. Trying to appear less self-conscious, she rests her palms on the table and offers a wide grin. “So, what does one generally do on a girl’s night? I’m not very familiar with them, I’m afraid.”

Maggie ponders this. “Well, generally, we get pretty tipsy, I kick everyone’s asses at pool, Little Danvers and Lane sing with the jukebox, we get more tipsy, we bitch about work, we play more pool, we get drunk, I make out with Alex in the back hallway, Kara tries to get us to dance, she eventually succeeds, someone inevitably cries in the bathroom, and then we pile into someone’s car and Little Danvers drives our drunk asses back to her and Lois’ apartment, where we keep Clark up all night and he makes us a bunch of snacks.”

Lena smiles over the rim of her glass. “Sounds very exciting.”

“We do what we can,” Maggie agrees, grabbing another shot. “Now, who wants to play pool?”

Alex sighs. “Babe, no one wants to play pool with you, you’re a shark. There’s literally a picture of you over there warning people not to play pool with you.”

“There is not, I took that down a week ago,” Maggie argues. “It was harder this time, they put it behind glass.”

Lena had been mid-shot during this exchange, and quickly claps a hand over her face at this last bit, coughing and spluttering as she laughs. Kara thumps her on the back a few times. “Alright, I have to see this,” she finally manages. “C’mon, Detective, me and you.”

Maggie’s grin is all teeth. “You played pool before, Luthor?”

The way she says ‘Luthor’ isn’t the way Lena is used to hearing it. It isn’t spat as an insult or an expletive, nor is it carrying any weight or promise of malice behind it. For the first time, Lena hears it and it just sounds like a name.

Lena shrugs as she clambers out of the booth. “It’s geometry with sticks. How hard can it be?”

 

Lena was mistaken. Pool is very hard, especially when you’re half a bottle of wine and three- well, five, now- shots deep into the evening. She loses spectacularly to the tiny detective, but she trash talks like a champion and Maggie gives her credit for that.

“Hell, half the fun’s talking shit to everyone you’re playing with, Luthor,” Maggie grins from where she’s tucked up under Alex’s arm.

“Noted,” Lena says seriously. She looks around for a moment before asking, “Has anyone seen Kara?”

Alex waves away her concern. “Don’t worry, she’s getting more drinks. She usually manages to score a free round; the bartender has a bit of a thing for her. And I think she said something about potstickers.”

“Since when do they fucking sell potstickers here?” Lois snorts, half seated on the abandoned pool table, drink held loosely in her hand.

“Since Kara goddamn Danvers asked them to,” Maggie laughs. “I mean, she’s half the reason they even started cooking food. If your best, hungriest, cop customer wants potstickers, you generally get some potstickers. And, honestly, I’ve had them and they’re pretty good.”

Lena has zoned out of this exchange, her focus shifted to where Kara is talking to a young guy working behind the bar, laughing at something he’s said. He looks immensely proud to have elicited this reaction from her, especially when she reaches over the bar to shove him lightly. They stand and talk for several moments before Lena turns away, annoyed at what she’s seen, but not entirely sure why. She returns her attention to the other three women, only to catch them exchanging knowing looks. “What?”

“Y’know, Lena, Kara’s kind of a klutz,” Maggie says, fighting to keep a grin off her face. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you gave her a hand with the drinks.”

“That’s a great idea, Mags,” Lois enthuses, eyes sparkling with mischief. “Go help Kara with the drinks; we’ll head back to the table.”

Lena nods, clearly relieved, and makes her way through the rapidly-filling bar.

When they’re sure she’s out of earshot, Lois cackles with laughter. “Oh my god, did you see the look on her face?!”

“Murder. Just, pure, unadulterated murder,” Maggie whoops. “Babe, c’mon, we’ve gotta get them to hook up. We have to.”

“Still my baby sister,” Alex mutters, pulling Maggie into a halfhearted headlock.

“It can be her present from me; the gift of orgasms,” Lois laughs. “Come to think of it, Red, I’m pretty sure I gave you a present with the same purpose a few years back.”

Maggie’s eyebrows shoot up as she turns to look at her fiancée. “Really, now? And where is this present, exactly?”

Alex shoots Lois a dirty look as her face flames. “I hate you both. So, so much.”

“So, are we gonna do it? I mean, look at them; they’re worse than you two when you first got together. And that was just disgusting.” Lois shudders.

“Hey, we weren’t that bad,” Maggie argues.

“You had matching shirts, and you wore them on purpose,” is the deadpan response.

“Y’know what, that’s fair. But I’m for it,” Maggie agrees. “And I know Winn is in, because this whole thing was his idea, like, last week.”

Alex sighs. “Then I’m in, if only to make sure you three don’t fuck everything up for them.” At their smug looks, she rolls her eyes. “Yes, obviously I can see it, I have eyes, they’re not subtle. Kara’s been glued to Luthor all night. She bet money against Maggie on a game of pool.”

“Yeah, what the fuck, Little Danvers? Bros before hoes!” Maggie stands and yells loudly, attracting the attention of a few nearby patrons.

Alex grabs her and drags her back into the booth with a thump. “I love you, but shut up. If you’re gonna interfere, you have to try to be subtle.” Lois and Maggie exchange confused looks. Alex sighs heavily and pinches the bridge of her nose. “Right, you two don’t know what that means. Look, Kara is my sister, I’ve known her for her whole human life, and she hates when people meddle. I set her up on a blind date once, and she didn’t talk to me for a week. And we shared a room. So, subtlety is key.”

Maggie nods, eyes a bit glassy from all the alcohol. “Right. Subtly get them together. Got it.” She stops nodding and looks carefully at Alex. “How are we doing that?”

“I never thought I’d see the day where I was trying to get a Luthor and a Super to hook up,” Lois muses.

“Yeah, me either,” Alex agrees. “Now shut up, they’re coming back. We’ll work out the plan when you two aren’t shitfaced. For now, the plan is do nothing.”

“Cheers to that,” Maggie grins, raising an empty glass.

“Hey, we miss anything?” Kara asks as she sets the drinks down, Lena close behind her.

“Not really, but I think Luthor is drinking us all under the table,” Alex smirks.

“All except Kara, maybe. Seriously, you matched me drink for drink, how are you still so sober?” Lena asks.

“Oh, uh, I have a metabolic…. thing, I don’t really get, um, drunk. Not easily, anyways,” she amends at the incredulous look.

Lena’s brow raises. “You’re joking.”

Lois shakes her head. “She’s not; it’s a hereditary thing, Clark has it, too.”

Lena looks questioningly at Alex, who’s swaying ever so slightly to the music. When she notices, Maggie laughs. “Oh, no, Alex is exempt. Little Danvers was adopted when she was a kid. Clark is her cousin, not Alex’s.”

“That’s how I know her,” Lois confides with a smile. “Her dork of a cousin keeps trying to marry me.”

Alex snorts. “You two have been basically married ever since I met you.”

Lena looks startled and turns to Kara. “I’m sorry, I just- I didn’t know you were adopted.”

Kara shrugs, a sad half-smile on her face. “It’s alright. My parents died when I was 12, and Clark helped place me with the Danvers. He was only 24 when it happened, I didn’t know him at all, and he couldn’t take me on. I didn’t really get it at the time, blamed all the wrong people when it was nobody’s fault.” Lois reaches out and squeezes her hand. Kara had blamed her, for a long time, and though they’ve long since worked through it and have a great relationship, she knows the younger woman still feels guilty for her years of resentment. At Lena’s sympathetic look, Kara plasters on a bright smile. “But it worked out alright. I get to have the best sister in the world, and Eliza and Jeremiah were great foster parents. I actually lived with Clark and Lois for the last few years, and it was really great.” She shoots each of the women a genuine smile in turn. “Plus, Clark would’ve never let me be a cop- he and Alex were furious with me when I started at the Academy- and then I wouldn’t have met Maggie. Or you, probably. And who wants that?”

“So, as you can see,” Maggie concludes, “Little Danvers is the spoke in our wheel of friendship.”

“We’re the spokes, babe, Kara’s the hub,” Alex corrects.

“Kara Danvers; hub of love,” Maggie giggles.

“Guys, stop,” Kara whines, hiding a flushed face behind her hands.

“Lucy is an occasional spoke too,” Lois muses. “When she isn’t holding military tribunals with Dad or just generally being an ass.”

Lena’s mind is still reeling a bit. “So, technically, none of you are related?”

 The other four women look at each other and shrug. “Not really, no. I mean, Lucy and Lois are. And Maggie and Alex are engaged. But we’re still family, right guys?” Kara asks.

“Of course we are, you idiot.” “Always.” “Fuckin’ duh, Little Danvers.”

Lena absorbs this, biting her lip. Seeming to come to a conclusion, she knocks back the rest of her drink and stands. “Where’s the restroom?”

Kara is startled by the sudden subject change. “Oh, uh, back that way, on the left. Hey, are you-“

“Thanks, back in a minute,” Lena interrupts, swiftly making her way through the throng of people.

Kara looks at the others questioningly. “Did she seem-“

“Upset? Yes,” Lois says bluntly. “Go check on her in a minute, give her a moment alone. And finish your drink; I won’t tolerate alcohol abuse, Danvers. Not in my house.”

Kara distractedly passes her drink to Maggie- who cheers- and stands. “I’ll be back.” She weaves her way through the other patrons and hesitates outside the bathroom for a moment before going in. She finds Lena in front of the sinks, washing her hands and seemingly a million miles away.

When Lena hears the door, she looks at up at Kara’s reflection. “Hey,” she says, voice a bit unsteady.

“Hey yourself,” Kara replies. “Are- are you okay? Did I say something that upset you? Because if I did, I’m- I’m really sorry. I was just trying to make sure you had a fun night and I think I screwed it up, and- are you crying?” she asks, noting Lena’s watery eyes. She swiftly locks the door behind her.

Lena sniffs. “Luthors don’t cry.” At Kara’s skeptical look, she lets out a watery laugh. “Or so my mother tells me. It’s one thing I’ve never quite gotten perfect, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, Lena, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry, I just… god, I’m an idiot, Gio was right. See, this is why I only hang out with like, eight people, ever. I’m bad at people-ing.” Kara walks up to her friend, arms raised, but hesitates at the last moment.

Huffing, Lena tells her, “You can give me a hug, you know, I won’t bite.”

“Well, last time I gave you a hug, you yelled at me,” Kara defends lightly, pulling the shorter woman in closer and wrapping her up carefully.

“Because I thought you were doing something dangerous.”

Kara hums in concession. “So why are you upset?”

Lena blows out a breath. “It’s stupid.”

“I kinda doubt that.”

“In the past week or so, did I mention that I’m adopted?” Lena asks quietly, head tucked under Kara’s chin. She feels the blonde stiffen suddenly and shake her head. “I didn’t think so. It doesn’t get brought up much, but I was adopted after my mum passed away when I was four. I only sort of remember her; she had dark hair, and I remember that she was pretty, and we lived in what must’ve been a shoebox of an apartment, just outside Dublin. I remember being really happy, there.” She trails off for a moment before clearing her throat. “But I guess all kids that age are happy, right? I don’t remember my dad; he wasn’t ever around, that I can remember. Apparently Mum was an only child whose parents had passed away, so I became a ward of the state for a bit. And then one day, Lionel Luthor showed up in a fancy suit and whisked me away, onto a plane and into a completely different life.

“And Lillian, my mother- she didn’t really want me there, and never made much of a secret of that. Lionel was as good a man as he could be, but he was always off somewhere. Lex was the person who made me feel at home.” She sucks in a breath. “He was always my hero, my protector and strongest supporter in whatever I wanted to do. He used to call me Ace, and I miss him, terribly. And isn’t that an awful thing to think? He killed all those people, injured hundreds more, caused millions in damage, and all I can think is how much I miss my brother.”

Kara wraps her up even tighter. “It isn’t awful. I know what it’s like, to miss people even when they’ve done bad things. I missed Clark, even when he left me with strangers. I get it, and it’s totally normal. You don’t just… stop caring about people, even when you wish you could.”

“I guess being here tonight, just sort of drove home how much different my life could’ve been,” Lena sighs, pulling back a bit. “I mean, you and Alex aren’t blood, but no one would ever say that you aren’t sisters. And Maggie and Lois aren’t related to you at all, they have no obligations to you whatsoever, and anyone can see how much they love you.”

Kara shrugs. “We make our own families, sometimes. I got lucky and wound up with Alex, Eliza, and even Clark. But the rest of them- Maggie, Lois, Winn, James, Lucy, and Hank… they’re my family, too. I love them, even when they drive me a little crazy.” Lena lets out a short laugh and swipes at her eyes. “And for the record, they really like you, I can tell. If they didn’t, they would’ve been super polite all night. And Winn is so excited that you’re coming to the Festival and working on the drone with him that he’s driving Eliza up the wall. And I feel really lucky that I got to spend the whole day with you, even though I know how busy you are.”

“It was nice to not be working all day, honestly. Mother’s been harping at me, so I’ve been holing up at the office as much as I can. Not much of a vacation,” Lena tells her ruefully.

Kara hums thoughtfully. “Why are you staying with her? If you don’t mind me asking. Sorry if that’s nosey, I just lived with reporters for a few years, so-”

“Not at all. I had a hotel booked, but she found out and cancelled my reservation,” Lena chuckles humorlessly. “Insisted that I stay at the Manor, or people would talk. And as Luthors, our number one concern is always what other people think.” She takes a deep breath, then blows it out. “I hate that house, it’s full of ghosts. But every hotel I’ve tried to book since has told me that they’re full. I think she bribed them.”

“She sounds kinda manipulative,” Kara hedges.

“Yeah, that’s my mother; get the family together for Christmas- by force if necessary.”

“Have you thought about maybe staying with a friend? Someone in the city?”

Lena laughs that humorless laugh again. “I hate to break it to you, Kara, but I’m not exactly flush with friends, let alone friends that would stand up to my mother.”

It’s quiet for a moment before Kara asks, “Well… why don’t you stay with me?”

Lena looks surprised. “What?”

“Stay with me- us, really- in Midvale. I mean, if you take the highway it’s really only like two hours from the city, and I’m pretty sure you actually have a helicopter, so I’d guess it’s even less time than that. Eliza has an office in one of the pole barns that she never uses, so you could still do your work. I know Eliza won’t mind, and the house is gonna be so full of people anyways that you wouldn’t be any sort of imposition. Plus, I’d be nice to see you when I’m not having a wardrobe emergency or you haven’t wrapped a car around a tree.”

One time. One time, that happened,” Lena protests lightly. She bites her lip. “It may be the alcohol talking, but that honestly doesn’t sound too bad. I don’t need to be in the office much; I got most of the work for the next two weeks done in the last few days, and there shouldn’t be any reason I can’t work remotely.”

“Just think about it. We have at least one extra bed, and almost everyone can cook, except Alex and me. But I can at least bake; never eat anything Alex cooks, it’s definitely poison. Don’t tell her I said that. And Maggie makes a bunch of weird vegan stuff, but it’s usually okay, especially her cinnamon rolls.” Kara knows she’s babbling again, but she can’t seem to stop herself and Lena doesn’t seem inclined to cut her off, just watching her with a strange look in red-rimmed eyes. “Plus we do so much fun stuff together, like skating and we build igloos- okay, we try to build igloos-, and Clark makes the best hot chocolate on the planet. And, as an added bonus, nobody would know you’re there. That sounded creepy. I just mean, you’d be kind of off the grid. And away from your mother.”

“What a merry Christmas that would be,” Lena laughs. “Are you sure, Kara? Because it’s no big deal, I can just wait it out with my mother. I’ve had 20 years previous experience.”

Kara shakes her head resolutely. “No way. C’mon, have a big, weird, family Christmakah with us!”

Lena turns away from the big blue puppy eyes being presented, laughing. “God, okay, fine, I yield! Turn down the sad eyes!” She tries not to show how touched she is that she’s being included as part of Kara’s family traditions, no matter how strangely it came about.

Kara grins widely. “Great! You wanna come out tonight? We can stop by your house so you can get your stuff, and then I can drive us to Midvale. Your mom won’t even know what happened.”

“I can make that work,” Lena agrees. “Do we need to pick up your car, somewhere, or are we taking one of mine?”

“No, I flew here. On- on a bus. Man, was that bus speedy. Phew,” Kara laughs nervously, adjusting her already straight glasses.

“But we need to pick up your bike, right?” Lena asks. “When we drop off Lois?”

“Yeah, yes, we do,” Kara says. “Clark picked it up for me this afternoon.”

“Great.” There’s a loud pounding on the door, along with some muffled shouting. “Guess that’s our cue.”

Kara laughs. “Guess so. Hey, you go ahead, I do actually need to use the bathroom.”

“Alright, see you out there.” Lena unlocks the door, mouths off to whoever was yelling, and makes her way back to her newfound friends, feeling much better.

Kara, meanwhile, waits until she’s left the bathroom before whipping out her phone and speed-dialing Kal’s Superman cell. She hops from foot to foot as it rings. “C’mon, Kal; pick up, pick up, pick up.”

“Hey, Kara, is everything alright? You ladies having fun? I already have tacos for everyone back at the apartment, even Maggie’s vegan tofu tacos from that one place in Gotham.” The wind is loud in the background, which usually means he’s flying around the city on patrol. Perfect.

“Ha, yeah, we’re having a blast, Kal. Listen, I need you to do me a favor, and you can’t ask why, alright?”

“O-kay?”

“I mean it, no questions asked, and you owe me a no-questions-asked favor, remember?”

He huffs out a laugh. “Yeah, Kara, I remember. God, I should’ve never introduced you to that show. What’s the favor?”

She sighs and rubs the back of her neck. “See, Kal, the thing is, I need you to go get me a bike…”

Chapter Text

Lena wakes up with a groan when her forehead knocks against the window. She can hear Kara singing along to something playing quietly on the radio. Scrubbing at her eyes, she blearily reads the glowing clock on the dashboard. 5:47 am. She’s been asleep for a little over two hours.

“Hey, sorry, we hit a pothole,” Kara apologizes from beside her. “We’re almost there, though.”

The sky is still dark, but fingers of purple and pink are appearing over the horizon in the rearview, where the sun will be rising soon enough. They’re in Lena’s first car, the one Lex had given her on her 16th birthday. It had been ridiculous, at the time; she had no real use for the massive SUV and the gas mileage was abysmal, but it was what she’d really wanted, so he got it for her, anyways.

“What the hell do you need a Land Rover Discovery for, Ace?” he’d laughed when he tossed her the keys. “The zombie apocalypse?”

She’d stuck her tongue out at him and gestured for him to get in. “Don’t come crying to me when they eat your brain!”

She shakes off the memories and stretches out a bit, wincing as her head suddenly throbs. Her tongue feels like sandpaper. “Augh. How much did we drink last night?”

Kara laughs. “Enough that I left Alex and Maggie passed out on Lois and Clark’s couch rather than moving them to my old room. You also ate an impressive amount of tacos.” She reaches into a bag on the floor at Lena’s feet and hands her a large bottle of water. “I stopped at the gas station while you were asleep. There’s aspirin in there, too. And a Gatorade; Alex says those always help her when she’s-“

“-hungover as all hell?” Lena supplies, unscrewing the cap and taking a long drink.

“Something like that, yeah,” Kara grins. “Usually I have to take care of her and Maggie in the mornings after girl’s night, so thank you for saving me from that.”

Lena laughs. “Don’t mention it.”

“No, I’m serious, they’re the worst when they’re hungover, all grumpy and needy. You’ve saved my morning. You’re my hero, Lena Luthor.”

Lena’s grateful that it’s still dark, so Kara can’t see the color rising in her cheeks. “By keeping you up all night, I’m your hero? You need to raise your standards for heroics.”

 “Sometimes that’s the best way to start a morning, still being up from a good night,” Kara tells her. “Oh, shoot, this is our exit, hang on.” She jerks the wheel, and Lena is forced to grab the door to keep herself upright.

“Jesus, Kara!” she laughs as they straighten out.

“Sorry sorry sorry, I didn’t see it until we were next to it!”

“I’m starting to think Maggie was right about your driving,” Lena jokes.

“Oh, no, not you, too! I am a good driver; I just don’t drive very often.”

“Sure,” Lena says, deciding to humor her friend. Her friend. She has a friend. She actually might have a few friends, after last night.

“So, everyone will probably still be asleep when we get there, but if you’re hungry there are usually leftovers in the fridge. Eliza always makes extra food.”

“I’m not, I’ll probably just go back to sleep, honestly.”

Kara shrugs. “Fair enough. You’re bunking with me, in Alex’s old bed. The other rooms are spoken for. We did the bunk lottery last Christmas, so you’ll have to try for your own room next year,” she says apologetically.

Lena’s silent. She hasn’t shared a room… ever. And also, Kara just implied that she’ll be staying at Eliza’s and attending the Christmakah celebrations next year.

“Is that… not okay? Because I can probably get Winn to bunk with me instead so you can take the guest room,” Kara says in a rush. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to assume-“

“You need to stop apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong; it’s a sign of weakness,” Lena informs her, the phrase coming out rehearsed. She sighs and rubs at her temples, trying in vain to massage the headache away. “Sorry, that came out harsher than I intended. And no, that’s- fine. I’ve just never shared a room before.”

“Oh. I shared with Alex, when the Danvers’ adopted me, and then at college I shared with a few people. It’s not so bad, and I’ve been told I’m a good roommate. Nice and neat. I will say, Alex tells me I talk in my sleep, but she might’ve just been messing with me.”

Lena nods, and soon they’re passing the Welcome to Midvale! sign. It’s quiet in the car, but not really uncomfortably so. Kara hums with the radio and Lena watches the dark smudges of tall trees whip past the windows.

Lena muses over the previous night, finding that certain parts of it are largely a mystery to her, at the moment. She remembers Kara herding them all into an Uber and stumbling into Lois’ apartment, shaking with laughter at something one of them had said. She does remember eating tacos, and talking- though she has no idea what the subject of discussion was- and she vaguely remembers a man-‘Probably Clark Kent’- coming into the apartment and being surprised to find her there.

She’s pretty sure that Kara had had to bribe their next Uber driver to let her put her bike in the trunk.

After that, it’s mostly a blur of creeping into the Manor and throwing everything within reach into her bag, and then being led to the Discovery by Kara. She must’ve fallen asleep shortly after that.

They’re in Eliza’s driveway pretty quickly, and Kara easily handles the heavier of Lena’s bags, maneuvering it into the house up the narrow stairs as quietly as she can. Lena follows with a smaller bag, not knowing that the bottom step is squeaky and wincing when it echoes through the quiet house. She freezes, but Kara just grins and jerks her chin to direct Lena up to the second floor. She follows Kara down the hall to her childhood bedroom and watches as the other woman sets her bag down at the foot of her sister’s bed and starts casually rifling through the drawers.

“Did you need something to sleep in, or did you grab something?” she asks Lena quietly, a bundle of her own clothes in her hands.

“No, I’ve got something in here somewhere,” Lena assures her, and Kara nods before going into the bathroom to change. Thankfully, she’d remembered to put her sleep clothes in a side pocket, so they’re easy enough to dig out. She changes as quickly as she can and crawls into the small twin bed.

Kara comes back a moment later, wearing baggy athletic shorts, a Midvale High School Varsity Basketball hoodie with ‘Danvers’ scrawled across the back, and her hair pulled up into a messy bun. At Lena’s long look, she flushes. “Oh, ha, I was on the basketball team, in high school. Thus the shorts. And the hoodie,” she laughs, a touch awkwardly, reaching up instinctually to adjust the glasses she’s already removed. “I know they’re getting kinda ratty, but they’re just so comfy, y’know? I just can’t bring myself to throw them out.”

Lena smiles softly. “Makes perfect sense. Why throw away something that’s perfectly good?”

“Exactly.” Kara crosses the room, tossing her clothes into a hamper and flops onto her own bed.

Lena looks up at the ceiling for a moment, studying the glow-in-the-dark stars stuck in unrecognizable constellations there. “Hey, Kara?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

She can almost feel the warmth of the other woman’s smile in the dark room. “You’re welcome, Lena.”

 

Kara ambles down the stairs when she hears Eliza brewing a pot of coffee, mindful of the woman snoring lightly four feet away. She can hear that Winn is still sound asleep, mumbling to himself about microprocessors and GPU and strangely, zebras, and she smiles.

Eliza hears her enter the kitchen and raises her cheek for the kiss Kara always plants there, not bothering to look up from her tablet. “Hey, honey.”

“Mornin’,” Kara yawns. “Coffee?”

“Almost. Hey, whose monster truck is that out front?”

Kara freezes. “I wanted to talk to you about that, actually.”

Eliza eyes her dubiously. “You didn’t steal it, right?”

“What? No!” Kara protests. “No, that’s Lena’s car.”

“Lena Luthor?”

“Yes. I sort of… invited her to stay here. Until Christmas. Or maybe New Year’s.”

“Did you?” Eliza’s fighting a smirk. She pours Kara a cup of coffee, noting that her daughter drinks it all in one go, without the usual combination of sugar and heavy cream.

“I did.” Kara starts to pace across the room, gesticulating wildly and voice raising gradually as she goes. “She needed a place to go, Eliza. Her mom isn’t… well, I don’t know her, but from what I’ve heard from her and Clark, she’s kinda awful, and she’s been giving her a really rough time. She’s controlling, she cancelled Lena’s hotel reservation to force her to stay at their creepy house- Lena said it’s full of ghosts- and she made all the hotels say that Lena couldn’t stay there, that they were booked. And I know I didn’t check with you first, and I’m sorry, but…“

“Kara, it’s fine, she can stay.”

“…and she’s never been to a festival, and we went out with Maggie and Lois and Alex last night, and even Alex liked her, so she can’t be bad. Alex is the smartest. And I think she needs some time out of the public eye, she’s getting some of the press saying some pretty terrible stuff about her. Like, not her company, but her, personally, and it’s not true, she’s…“

“Kara, I said she can stay.”

“…and she’s really generous and funny, and she was even keeping up with Alex on all the nerdy stuff, so she’s smart, and-“

“Kara!”

Her youngest daughter finally stops pacing and looks at her.

“I said, three times now, that she can stay. I assume she’s already set up in your room?” Kara nods dumbly. “Good. Now, get the fruit out and start chopping it up, and I’ll start the rest of breakfast.”

Kara moves to the fridge and pulls out all the fruit before heaping it onto the counter. She tries to grab a cutting board, but she grabs at it too hard and smashes it to pieces.

Eliza looks at her. “You alright, Sunshine?” Kara nods, eyes on the floor, embarrassed by her slip-up. “You need to go for a run, calm down a little after yelling?” Kara nods again, and Eliza pats her shoulder comfortingly. “Alright, go up and change. Don’t wake your friends.”

She’s out of the room and back in a blur of color, now wearing athletic leggings and a pullover sweatshirt, as well as her sneakers. Her headphones are draped across her shoulders, already buzzing with music that’s too quiet for Eliza to hear. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

Eliza nods and shoos her out, smiling when the front door clicks shut. She goes about slicing up all the fruit, cleaning up the broken plastic from the floor, and starting on the French toast. Not long after, Winn stumbles down the stairs, hair sleep-mussed and eyes bleary. He smiles sleepily at her, as he does every morning, and immediately livens when she presses the cup of coffee into his hands, offering her another sleepy smile as he settles on a stool at the counter. “Hello, Winn.”

“G’mornin’,” he slurs around a mouthful of coffee. Swallowing, he asks, “Anything I can do?”

She gets him started on cracking eggs- well over a dozen, with Kara here- and then whipping them together with some salt, pepper, heavy cream, veggies, and cheese. She’s never been much good at omelets, but she makes a mean scramble. She starts shredding the baked potatoes she’d made the night before for hash browns, and the companionable sounds of whisking and the sizzle of the frying pan fill the gaps between their conversation; Winn asking how much of this or that to add to the eggs, Eliza asking about the computer he’s building in Jeremiah’s old lab. From what he tells her, it’s going well, but he might ask Lena if she’ll take a look at it when she visits next week.

Eliza decides to let Kara field any discussion on Lena with Winn.

Kara arrives a few minutes before everything’s ready, hurrying into the shower and a fresh set of clothes. She must wake Lena up when she goes to change, as they both come down together, Kara smiling and refreshed, Lena wincing at the sunlight and makeup not quite as immaculate as usual. Eliza chuckles. She knows that look. If Winn is surprised to see the young CEO, he doesn’t let on, too distracted by food and coffee.

 Everyone settles into the kitchen at the counter bar; chatting lazily as they try to wake up or, in Lena’s case, recover from what appears to be a massive hangover. Kara and Winn state plans to spend the day at the skating rink, and Eliza mentions going into town to get some groceries. Lena looks ready to keel over and die- Eliza suspects she’d tried to out drink either Lois or Maggie- and elects to spend a quiet day getting some work done.

Eliza offers use of her oft-neglected home office in the pole barn, which she accepts gratefully. Remembering what Kara had said, Eliza resolves to fire up the IP scrambler Alex and Winn had made for her a few years back before she shows Lena to the office. If the girl needs peace and quiet, the last thing anyone wants is for the press to come calling because she sent an email.

Kara cleans up without much fuss, and Winn chatters excitedly about racing Kara around the rink. Finally taking pity on Lena, Eliza hands her a concoction she and Jeremiah had dreamed up in college and perfected in med school, the perfect hangover cure. Upon learning what it is, Lena is skeptical, but after an hour or so, she offers to buy it for more money than Eliza has ever seen, looking much better now than she had a few hours ago. Eliza laughs it off, but unbeknownst to her, Lena isn’t joking and will spend the rest of the holiday offering more and more outrageous sums for the formula.

All in all, Eliza decides, it’s a peaceful morning. She should know, after raising Alex and Kara, that it cannot possibly last.

*******************

Winn is zipping around the nearly-empty rink, whooping loudly as his skates cut through the ice. He knows he doesn’t stand a real shot at beating Kara in a race, but when he’s booking this fast, with no resistance, he imagines that it’s as close as he’ll ever get to flying, or using super-speed. And that’s pretty cool, too. He hears Kara catching up and pushes even harder, flying faster than he ever has. He knows she’s letting him win, but he can’t seem to care. A few more minutes of this, and playfully jeering at each other back and forth, and suddenly he can’t hear Kara behind him.

“C’mon, Kara, are you even trying?” He turns, and sees that she isn’t, her brow knotted in concentration and head cocked to the side. ‘Uh-oh.’ He skids swiftly to a halt. “Kara, what is it?”

“There’s a fire,” she mutters. “A bad one, in an apartment about a block away.” Her wide eyes lock on his. “Winn, there’s people still in there.”

“What do you wanna do?” he asks. “Should we call your cousin?”

She shakes her head resolutely. “No, there’s no time.” And with that, she’s gone, the door to the rink slamming closed behind her.

“Ah, dammit,” Winn mutters, skating as fast as he can over to where his boots are laying, now accompanied by Kara’s abandoned skates. ‘Well, at least she remembered to grab shoes, this time.’ He hurriedly changes shoes and runs after his friend and toward the sounds of sirens and shouting and what sounds to be a freight engine, but in reality is a towering fire that’s engulfed a three-story apartment and commercial building. There’s a police line that they’re not allowing anyone past, but he doesn’t see a telltale head of blonde hair anywhere, so Kara probably just sped past them. “Kara? Kara, wherever you are, be careful!” he yells, confident she can hear him and ignoring the strange looks he receives from the other onlookers.

“Winn!”

He turns and sees Eliza hurrying toward him. “Hey, Eliza.”

“Is Kara in there?”

He bites his lip and nods. “Yeah, I think so. She took off while we were skating, said there were still people inside.” The building shudders, clearly very unstable, and the firemen yell, sending everyone back several more paces. People have been pouring out of the building, coughing and sooty, accompanied by firemen, but now it’s only firemen trickling out, bright yellow coats stained black with smoke. The building groans loudly, and Eliza winces. Winn can hear her mumbling in Hebrew, and he wracks his brain trying to remember the right prayers to say in moments like this, saying the ones he does remember right along with her.

An eternity later, figures start to emerge. First a young man, then a teenage girl, an elderly woman, and, somehow, a lone fireman hauling a tied-up blanket that is filled with every pet that lives in the building. The young guy is even carrying a bowl full of fish. What they don’t see, however, is a tall blonde among them.

The building shudders just once more before collapsing entirely, a cloud of ash and dirt and who knows what else rising in its wake.

Winn is terrified for a moment, before a voice behind him chirps, “Hey, guys!”

And there Kara stands, grinning, clothes smelling strongly of acrid smoke. Eliza lets out a muffled sob and pulls Kara into a bear hug, and Winn wraps them both up, more relieved than he can say. He knows, on an intellectual level, that Kara is basically invulnerable to most things that can kill him. But it’s one thing to know that in theory, and quite another to see it in practice. She may be the equivalent to a walking god on earth, but she’s his best friend first.

Eliza is scolding Kara in the same lilting tongue she’d been praying in moments before, and Kara responds in kind, reassuring her that she’s alright, that she’d managed to save everyone. “Even,” she announces proudly, in English, “the fish in 3G!”

Eliza rolls her eyes heavenward and throws up her hands. “You’ll surely be the death of me, Kara Zor-El Danvers,” Eliza tells her sternly, before pulling her into another tight hug.

“Sorry, guys. They just needed some more help,” Kara shrugs.

Looking over, the fireman who’d left the building last is being slapped on the back enthusiastically by his fellow firemen and thanked by everyone as they come to collect their pets (it’s the middle of the day, after all, and most of them had been at work when the fire started), but he looks baffled, head twisting this way and that as he scans the crowd, looking for the young woman who’d saved him and so many others. Seeing this, Kara quickly turns and walks off with Winn and Eliza, and the last glimpse the fireman gets of her before she’s swallowed up by the crowd is of a hood flipping up over blonde hair.

When he later tells the story of being saved by an angel, the three others back him up. Though religious leaders in town and even local news outlets happily refer to it as a ‘miracle,’ no one really believes the story.

Chapter Text

When they all arrive back at Eliza’s, they find Lena glued to the TV in the living room, watching coverage of the fire. Upon seeing them, relief floods her tense form and her face relaxes. “I’m glad you’re all alright. Did you hear about this when you were in town?”

They look at each other. “Yeah, I heard that they got everyone out, even the pets,” Kara says, unwrapping her scarf from around her neck and hanging it on the coat rack.

“They’re calling it the Midvale Miracle,” Lena tells them, still watching the news coverage. “The last people out are saying an angel saved them.”

Winn lets out a loud, awkward laugh and Eliza elbows him sharply.

“I’m glad that everyone got out okay, that fire made traffic a real nightmare,” Eliza says, stepping out of her boots. “Now, lunch, I’m thinking sandwiches and chips; any objections?” When none are raised, she nods and heads toward the kitchen. “Oh, and kids, it’s Tuesday; tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, so I’ll need you to get everything set up this afternoon. Maggie and Alex should be here in time. And Lena, I’m gonna need you to help me make the sufganiyot.”

Kara and Winn call back their assent, lounging around on the couch, jostling each other for the most comfortable spot. Lena, however, is mildly terrified that she’s going to do something horribly wrong and offensive during whatever ritual Eliza is referring to. Seemingly sensing her mounting distress, Kara flops down beside her. “You have no idea what she just said, do you?” Lena glances at her out the corner of her eye and is relieved to see that Kara’s grinning warmly, eyes shining with amusement behind her glasses.

Lena huffs ruefully. “No idea whatsoever. Hebrew isn’t one of my languages.”

“No worries, I didn’t get it either, when I first got here. Alex had to explain everything about a million times,” Kara laughs. “I was afraid I was gonna mess everything up and, like, set the house on fire, with all the candles. All Eliza said was that she wants you to help her make doughnuts later.”

Lena laughs, feeling a bit better. “So your parents weren’t Jewish?” she asks, hoping she isn’t crossing any lines.

Kara shakes her head. “No, they were- hmm… well, I guess you’d call them pagans. They worshipped the sun. I still do, actually. I’m more Jewish by association than the rest of my family. Except Jeremiah; he was actually Catholic.”

Lena’s mind is spinning. “So, to clarify, you are a pagan, who celebrates both Jewish and Christian holidays?”

“Yep!”

“Isn’t that sacrilegious?” Winn calls from across the room, clearly eavesdropping but also glued to some sci-fi movie playing on TV.

Kara shrugs. “Eh. Our religion doesn’t frown on celebrating other cultures or holidays, at least, as far as I know it doesn’t. And I don’t do anything half-heartedly or mockingly or anything like that, so I figure it’s probably fine.”

Lena nods. “So what holidays do you have, as part of your religion?”

Kara is startled for a moment. Nobody has ever asked her this before, except Alex and Clark. After Kara had yelled at her when her sister had tried prying when Kara was still too new and too raw to do anything else with all her pain, it’d taken a long time but eventually she’d opened up and told her sister everything. And Clark… he’d been raised Christian, and held to those beliefs, but he’d been very curious about Rao while he went through his ‘ask a million questions’ phase.

Winn has even turned around and is now facing them, resting his chin on the arm of the couch, listening intently. “Well, I celebrate the Summer Solstice, of course- that’s the big holy day, for me-, and I try to take the day off work when I can to just… be in the sun, if that makes any sense. The beach or a park, something like that. I usually go somewhere quiet to pray on the Autumnal Equinox, to mourn for the dead. On the Spring Equinox, I celebrate new life and growth, within myself and others, and I try to plant trees or volunteer at the hospital or an animal shelter or something. The Winter Solstice is next week, I think, maybe the week after, and usually it’s a low-key day for quiet contemplation and seeking better balance in my life.” She’s adapted all these rituals from the ones she remembers on Krypton, of course, and though she knows they’re not perfect, and the sun she worshipped in her youth is long dead and dark, she feels a bit closer to her home when she does, remembering long days baking in a beloved red sun and the longest nights spent in humble prayer.

Lena nods, elbow propped on the back of the couch and head resting in her hand, eyes riveted to Kara’s face. “Tell me more.”

And so, Kara does. She tells them about the sun called Rao (though for Lena’s sake, she lets her think that it’s Earth’s sun that she’s referring to). She regales them with tales of her and her aunt Astra hiding among the pillars in their temple, playing hide and seek when worship was over and Kara had grown restless. They listen as she talks about the 11 virtues that she tries to always follow (Unity, Truth, Peace, Imagination, Synergy, Purity, Justice, Restraint, Hope, Industriousness, and Altruism).

She tells her friends all about holidays at the coast, the black sand beaches, learning to free dive when she was seven, her aunt holding her hand the whole time, ready to pull her to the surface if she panicked, about how the sunset stained the ocean a deep red. She laughs about her mother and her mother’s twin sister- always trying to trick her into thinking they were each other, rarely succeeding. She talks about what had been expected of her, and how it had all vanished in a flash- her father, mother, aunt, uncle. She withholds talking about Clark’s family history, saying only that their fathers were brothers and weren’t close, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Her father and Uncle Jor-El had been best friends and had rarely, if ever, argued or spent more than a week or so without seeing each other. It just wasn’t the way on Krypton; your family was your life.

Lena, for her part, looks completely fascinated. “Where did you grow up? It sounds stunning.”

Winn looks panicked, but Kara simply replies, “Iceland, but my Dad was an American citizen, so I wound up here. Dad’s brother had died, and his wife wasn’t my aunt, even though Martha is great, so Clark was my next-of-kin. But yeah, Iceland in a small town called Grundarfjörður. It’s near the Kirkjufell Waterfall” She’d done research years ago so that whenever she’s asked that question, she has a ready answer (at Alex’s insistence that she have some sort of background story). She’d even learned Icelandic when she was bored during AP Calculus, just to make it more believable.

“I’ve heard it’s beautiful, but I’ve never been there. Maybe next time someone forces me to take a vacation, I’ll go,” Lena muses, smiling softly.

“Maybe you should,” Kara agrees. “Now, back to your original question; Hanukkah. Winn, I’m gonna need you to get really Jewish and help me out, here. So basically, it’s a celebration of a victory at the second temple in Jerusalem after the Greeks took it over…”

 

Lena focuses, determined not to miss anything, peppering them both with questions, some of which they don’t know the answer to.

“Honestly, Eliza will know more than we do,” Winn says, scratching his ear ruefully. “I’m a bad Jew, and Kara’s a godless sun-worshipper-“

“Hey!” she laughs, chucking a pillow at him.

“-so you might be better off asking her than either of us,” Winn continues blithely, as though he hasn’t just been hit full in the face with a pillow. “And she won’t mind explaining; telling the stories is part of the ritual.”

Lena nods and heads resolutely toward the kitchen just as Eliza walks out wearing an apron. “Oh, good! I thought I was gonna have to call you. It’s time to make the doughnuts!”

“Not to be rude, but why doughnuts?” Lena asks curiously.

“We eat foods fried in oil during Hanukkah, in remembrance of the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem; the miracle of the oil. I think I heard the kids giving you a bit of an overview?” Lena nods and Eliza grins her approval. “Good. And besides, everyone likes doughnuts; Jews just made them a holiday staple. That’s why we’re the smart ones,” Eliza jokes, elbowing Lena as she shows her how to roll out and cut the dough.

“What else do you eat- or, not eat?” Lena smiles apologetically at the older woman. “I’m sorry, I’m a bit out of my depth, here. The Luthors were never very religious, and I don’t really know what I’m doing,” she admits.

“I’m used to it; look who I raised,” Eliza laughs. “So look, here’s what you do…”

 

Toward the evening, Alex and Maggie arrive, running breathlessly through the door, red-cheeked from the cold. “We’re not late, are we?” Alex asks. Maggie stretches up to give Winn an affectionate hug, and Alex gives him a noogie.

“Nah, we haven’t even lit the shamash,” Winn tells her, waving her off and trying to fix his mussed hair. Stepping closer, he whispers, “Hey, by the by, did you know that Lena’s here? Because she is.”

Alex freezes. “Say what, now?” She prays that Kara isn’t listening.

Maggie cackles, whipping out her phone. “Oh, shit, I gotta text Lois, she’s gonna flip.”

“Yeah, I was surprised too. So neither of you knew about this? Didn’t have any hand in it at all?” he asks quietly. They both shake their heads. “Good, then I can tell you, they’re ridiculous. Just, god, with the eyes and the faces and the accidental touching… It’s worse than you guys, your first Christmakah.” He shudders theatrically.

“We weren’t that bad!” Maggie yells. The other two hastily shush her, to no avail. “No, seriously, everyone keeps saying that, and I hate it.”

“Saying wha- Alex! Maggie!” Kara yells, running up and lifting them into a big hug.

“Hey, easy, kid, you just saw us yesterday. Actually,” Maggie corrects herself, “very early this morning.”

“Yeah, how was your morning, guys?” Kara asks innocently, setting them back on their feet.

“Fuck off, Little Danvers, you know damn well we both wanted to die,” Maggie grumbles. “I still wanna die. The only thing keeping me alive is the thought of all the delicious food I’ll miss if I die.” With that, the tiny detective roams toward the kitchen.

When Kara’s gaze turns toward her, Alex just shrugs and points at her fiancée. “What she said. Especially the part about fuck off.” She winks at Kara, presses a fond kiss to her cheek, then follows Maggie toward the smells of fried dough and latkes wafting through the house.

“If it’s any consolation,” Winn tells her, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, “I don’t want you to fuck off, Kara.”

“Golly, thanks, Winn,” she chuckles, pulling him into a side hug. “Did you set up the menorah?”

“Yeah, it’s already in the window and everything. We better get on it, though; it’s almost sundown.”

“We should, now that Alex is here. I’ll go get them.”

 

When everyone is gathered in the living room, Kara starts to sing the chant as Alex lights first the shamash, and then the candle on the far right of the menorah. Eliza and Winn are right behind them, with Maggie and Lena standing back a bit, trying to be respectful.

“Is this your first Hanukkah?” Maggie leans over to ask quietly. At Lena’s nod, Maggie grins. “Mine was actually over Thanksgiving, a few years ago. It’s not bad; great food, nights at home with your family, stories, candy. And god, the doughnuts. Eliza makes great doughnuts, even though I can’t pronounce the name to save my damn life.”

“I helped with those, actually, so they might be terrible,” Lena whispers back.

Maggie snickers. “I’m sure you did great, Luthor.”

And there it is again, that sort of casual assurance that all these people keep giving her. It causes warmth to bloom in Lena’s chest.

 

Dinner that night is lively with discussions on work, the wedding, CatCo, and what they do as individuals to bring a bit more light into the world. Winn reveals that he spends a few days a month volunteering as a Big Brother in National City (his Little’s name is apparently David, he’s nine, and this week he wants to be a fireman), and Kara volunteers at an animal rescue when she can, as well as helping Lois and Clark with various charity drives. Maggie and Alex both help run local LGBT+ support groups for at-risk youth, and Alex helps tutor girls who want to enter STEM fields. Eliza holds PFLAG meetings at the community center in Midvale, as she’s done for close to a decade. Lena, when pressed, admits she sponsors several scholarships, for women in STEM, queer students, and orphans.

This part of the ritual complete, conversation turns to more mundane topics.

“So, guys, please tell me you’ve finally got a baker,” Kara says. “Because if I show up, and there’s no cake, or it’s some weird vegan concoction that Maggie picked out because Alex lost a bet, I’m eating all the food. I mean it.”

Alex shoots her a dirty look, but Maggie just laughs. “Yeah, we got somebody, and she’s making me my own cake so you’re safe, Little Danvers.”

Kara nods seriously and steals Winn’s latke off his plate, applesauce and all, ignoring his whine of protest.

“And Lena, how’s everything at LuthorCorp?” Eliza asks, sipping her wine.

“It’s good, I’ll need to go in on Monday for a few meetings, and I have an event that I need to attend Saturday night, but otherwise, everything is going pretty smoothly,” she says. “And I want to thank you, again, for having me here. I know it was sudden, but I appreciate your hospitality.”

Eliza waves her off. “Lena, if I didn’t take in strays every now and then, I’d only have one daughter, instead of three and a very handsome son,” she says, winking at Winn, who jokingly whines, “Moooooommm.”

Kara smiles at Lena, and she can’t help but smile back.

**************************

It’s Thursday, and most of their family is arriving in the next two days. Martha flew into Metropolis last night and Lois and Clark are bringing her in a few hours, Lucy and James will be on their way from National City tonight, and the already noisy house is bustling with activity as everyone makes a few last minute preparations. Initially, Lena wasn’t given any chores to do (“You’re on vacation!”), but she’s managed to wrangle a few from the others and is helping Kara make the beds in the rooms downstairs.

“So all these empty rooms?” she asks.

“Well, James and Lucy get this one, Lois and Clark are in the one across from it, Alex and Maggie already have their room down the hall, and Martha gets the other spare room,” Kara explains, stretching the sheet over the bed. “And on Christmas Eve, Hank comes over, too, but he usually sleeps on the couch.”

“So with all these extra rooms, why did you and Alex share?” Lena asks, pulling the sheet taut before tossing a comforter onto the bed.

“Actually, when I was growing up, we only had the two guest rooms, and one was supposed to be mine. But… I had bad nightmares, when I was first adopted, and it helped if Alex was there to wake me up,” Kara confesses. “Eventually, the nightmares got really rare, but by then, we were just used to sharing a room, y’know?”

Lena nods thoughtfully. “So when did all these rooms come about?”

“Oh! Clark and I finished the basement ourselves, over the summer. We both had a little time off and Eliza had been talking about it for forever, and then she went on some sort of retreat, so we did it to surprise her,” Kara explains. “She was really excited. She loves having everyone here, but it was getting pretty cramped. I had to share with Alex and Maggie one year.” She shudders dramatically. “Eugh! I don’t think I’ll ever recover.”

Lena laughs, easily able to imagine exactly what had scarred her friend so badly. “Yeah, I’ll bet that sharing a room with a couple is the worst.”

Yes, especially then,” Kara sighs. “They were awful when they first got together.”

“Shut up, Little Danvers! We weren’t that bad!” echoes from the closed door down the hall, followed by muffled laughter.

Lena snickers. “Alright, this room’s done. What’s next?”

Kara shrugs. “Honestly, we put some towels in the bathroom and we’re done down here. And then you have your interview with Eliza, right?”

Lena nods. It’s decidedly odd, interviewing the person whose home she’s invaded for a top position in the company she owns, but they’d agreed all the same that the interview was still important. Even though Lena had been more than willing to just give her the job, Eliza had insisted. So now they were going out for a working lunch in a little over an hour.

“I don’t think she’s gonna turn you down, if that helps. Especially since you told her that she could work from the labs in Metropolis. That was cool of you, by the way. I know she doesn’t want to sell the house,” Kara says as they head up the stairs.

“Well, I have to make the deal however I can, right?”

“I guess so, But I‘m pretty sure you were just being nice because you’re a nice person,” Kara tells her. She smiles at the flush creeping up Lena’s neck, and changes the subject. “Are you excited for the Festival tomorrow?”

“Actually, yes, I am. I want to see what all the hype is about,” Lena says.

“Lena!”

She turns and is nearly run over by an energetic Winn. Kara grabs him, laughing. “Easy there.”

“No, look!” he insists, shoving a tablet toward Lena.

Her bemused look changes quickly to a frown as she scans the headline. “What in the hell is she doing?!”

There, in bold black letters on the front page of The Daily Planet, reads ‘LuthorCorp CEO Missing!’

“What the heck? Missing? You’re on vacation!” Kara protests, but Lena is already reading through the article.

‘Lena Luthor, 23, is reportedly missing, sources close to the CEO claim.

“None of us have seen or heard from her in almost a week, and her mother hasn’t either,” confides an employee who wished to remain anonymous.

The young CEO was reportedly last seen in a bar in Lower Metropolis, accompanied by four other women. (For a history of Lena Luthor’s gal-pals, click here.)

One of the women appeared to be none other than our own Lois Lane, and another may have been a well-known local hero, Officer Kara Danvers (For more information on Lois Lane, click here. For more information on Officer Danvers, click here.). What does the young LuthorCorp CEO have up her sleeve this time?

At the time of this story’s run, neither Miss Lane nor Officer Danvers was available for comment.

We at The Daily Planet hope that these rumors are unfounded, and-‘

Lena squeezes her eyes shut. This cannot be happening. “I need to go to work, do some damage control. Missing? Ridiculous! I’ve been in constant contact!”

Kara pulls out her phone and dials. “Hey, Lois?”

“Yeah, Danvers, I saw it, I’m chewing out Perry right now for running it. Which, actually, he didn’t. It’s some sort of hack. So, I guess I’m just yelling at my boss.”

“Any chance of a retraction?” Kara asks, looking at Lena and gesturing for her to listen to what Lois is saying.

“Probably, yeah. But it’ll take a bit. We’re trying to figure out how that half-assed thing even got on the front page.”

“Can you at least take down the story?” Lena asks.

“Already done, Luthor. Hit refresh.”

Kara does, and the article disappears. “It was just for the digital, right? It wasn’t on the printed ones?”

“We don’t think there are any hard copies floating around, no. And it was posted for less than an hour, so hopefully that’ll make it a little less terrible.”

“I’m very sorry, Miss Luthor. We’ll get to the bottom of this,” a male voice that must belong to Perry White comes through.

“See that you do. We’ll discuss this in person in a few hours, Mr. White,” Lena says coolly before hanging up. She turns to Winn and Kara and sighs. “I’ll try to be back in time for the festival tonight, but I have to go into the city. God knows what my mother is playing at.” She starts toward the front door and her baffled friends follow her.

“You think your mom did that?” Winn asks incredulously.

“I have no doubt that she did,” Lena growls, shoving her feet into her boots angrily. “This is just a warning, I really pissed her off.”

“A warning is putting in the papers that you’re a missing person?” Kara asks.

“Better a warning than a reality, right?” Lena laughs, shrugging into her long coat. “Look, tell Eliza that I’m sorry, and I’ll reschedule. I’ll see you tonight.”

“But-“ Kara goes to protest, but Lena’s already out the door. “Ah, heck.” She storms down the stairs, looking thunderous, and only barely remembers to knock on Maggie and Alex’s door before she bursts in.

Maggie answers, grinning and looking disheveled, but at the look on Kara’s face, the smile vanishes. “Hey, what’s going on?”

“I think that Lena’s in trouble, and I need your help.”

Chapter Text

Lena reaches Metropolis far too quickly to have done anything but speed like a demon. She whipped in and out of traffic heedlessly, furious and focused on a single task. She’d been so focused, in fact, that she hadn’t seen the figure darting through the trees off to the right, keeping pace with her easily.

When she arrives at LuthorCorp, she’s surprised to see a heavy police presence waiting for her and escorting her inside, keeping several members of the press at bay. The article may have only been up for an hour, but clearly, it’d made it to Twitter. And Twitter is forever.

She sighs wearily, pushing dark sunglasses up onto her head, looking like a femme fatale from an old Bond movie, all arched brows and dark lips. All she needs is a .38 and a lit cigarette and the look would be complete. She doesn’t bother to stop at the front desk, moving quickly through the lobby with what appears to be a protective detail fanned around her. ‘I’ll have to remember to thank Maggie.’

She enters the elevator with the two men and woman, immediately sending them all to the top floor. She cuts through the stunned crowd of her employees like a shark and enters her office to see Lillian standing behind her desk.

“Hi, Mom,” she says mockingly. Lillian had only ever been ‘Mom’ to Lex, and ‘Mother’ to Lena. She’d insisted when Lena was first adopted. “I hear you missed me.”

Lillian looks up, surprise quickly hidden beneath a veneer of concern. Evidently, the officers who hadn’t accompanied her upstairs had taken over the security desk, not allowing Lillian any warning. Good. “Lena, I’ve been worried sick. Where have you been? You weren’t at work all week, and then you missed Maxwell Lord’s fundraiser last night… I began to suspect the worst.” She looks at the officers imploringly. “Please, let me have a moment alone with my daughter.”

Lena opens her mouth, ready to snarl her agreement, when one of the officers steps forward, putting herself between Lena and her mother. “I’m afraid we can’t do that, ma’am. Special Agent Susan Vasquez, FBI. We’ve received orders that she is to remain within sight until she returns to the safe house.”

If Lena is stunned by this, Lillian is poleaxed. “Safe house?”

“Yes, ma’am,” she continues. “It’s a matter of national security. There was a credible threat placed against her, and I’m afraid that the rest is classified. Just know that she’s safe and being looked after by our best.”

“Really, this is absurd, we can hire our own security detail-“ Lillian protests, drawing herself up to her full height.

“Ma’am, I’m afraid that you can’t, as it’s a matter of national security. You also can’t be in this office, as it’s part of our ongoing investigation,” Vasquez says, a hard edge entering her voice. “Same goes for the labs downstairs. We already have agents posted there, to protect our assets. Agents will be by soon, to collect her.”

Lena is floored. ‘What the hell is going on right now?’ Still, she keeps her composure and offers Lillian a tight smile. “As you can see, Mother, I’m fine, and not in danger of going missing anytime soon.” To anyone else, anyone not raised in Lillian’s house, this would be seen as simple reassurance. Lillian, however, doesn’t miss the double meaning. ‘I won’t disappear. I’m being protected. You’re being watched.’

Lillian’s jaw ticks. “I’m very glad to hear that, dear. I was just trying to keep an eye on things, here.”

“I’ve been working remotely,” Lena informs her. “The technology these people have access to is truly astounding. Also, the deal with Ito is finished, just waiting on legal to draft it. And the German investors are very enthusiastic about our plans for next year. So you see, Mother, there’s no need to worry about me. Enjoy yourself at the parties. I’ve been assured that I’ll be able to attend our Holiday Gala.”

Lillian is stiff, fighting for her famed control, but her eyes are positively venomous.

“Mrs. Luthor, I need to escort you out, it isn’t safe for you to be here, either. In fact, I would stay away from the building entirely. For your own protection, of course.”

Lillian nods, allowing herself to be lead respectfully from the office, though she does reach out and squeeze Lena’s hand, gripping it hard enough that her daughter bites her lip to keep herself still. “Lena, when you can, I hope you tell me what’s going on. I worry.”

Lena nods her head jerkily, exhaling in relief when Lillian releases her grip. She fights both the urge to flex her hand and the tears in her eyes.

“Miss Luthor, this room isn’t secure- all those windows. Please grab anything you may need and come with us, there’s a car waiting downstairs with a few trusted agents.”

Lena nods again and quickly grabs her external hard drive, tablet, laptop, and several files, including those on Alex and Eliza. She has no doubt that her mother will find a way to snoop. After a moment’s debate, she asks one of the officers to take the overpowered tower of her computer with them. There are very sensitive files on there, after all. This done, she struts back out of the office, bag loaded down with various pieces of tech and the officers trailing behind her. She’s sure they make for quite a sight.

The lobby is, shockingly cleared, the men and women littering it clearly not members of the board or people who work in the building. None of them are uniformed, but all of them are armed.

Lena is beginning to suspect that there may well be a threat, after all.

               

She’s lead to a smaller SUV, black, with heavily tinted windows. It’s a fairly common make and model, which eases a bit of concern, and she climbs into the back seat, watching as the officer carefully places the tower in the storage area behind her. He slams the hatch, pounds the back of the vehicle, and they’re weaving away, taking a very convoluted route toward the highway.

“I hope neither of you gets offended when I say this, but what the fuck is going on?” Lena grits out.  One of the agents in the front seat turns and removes their sunglasses and hat, long dark hair pooling around their shoulders, and grins.

“Hey, Luthor! I’m more than happy to tell you what the fuck is going on.”

Lena is dumbfounded. “Lois?”

*********************

Winn has always been the type of person who worries. Even when he was a kid, he was worried if he lost sight of his mom in a store, or if his dad was late coming home from work. He’d worried about his grades, about upsetting his foster parents, about getting into a good school, about getting a good job, about the water turning red in his first crummy apartment.  So Winn worries, all the time, often about nothing.

The thing he’s always liked about being around the Danvers is… he worries less.

It’s still there, of course, that faint niggling in the back of his mind, small swells of anxiety still rise up, but it’s better. Sure, this is partly due to the fact that his best friend is an invincible alien with super powers who can fly and crush a tank with her bare hands. When you’re standing next to someone like that, it’s easier to be a little less worried; what can happen to you?

But he’s worried, right now, even deep in the heart of Danvers territory. Because somehow, he’s becoming friends with Lena Luthor, and that cannot possibly be uncomplicated. Not with the way Clark had reacted over the phone, not with the way Kara had flown off after Lena’s car in broad daylight, not with the way Maggie and Alex had been on their phones for over an hour after she’d left.

He’s really worried. He’s been drafted to help figure out how someone hacked The Daily Planet, and so far, it isn’t looking super promising. Their security is insane; he’s considering using some of it at CatCo when he goes back to work.

But that’s not what worries him.

What worries him are common bits of code. Just tiny pieces, really, but they’re familiar. He recognizes them from when CatCo was hacked by Cadmus. It’s like writing a letter or number in a certain way, it’s unique. And he’s been seeing it pop up more and more often. And not just in National City anymore, either, but all over the world. And now, showing up in what he now realizes is a rather obvious threat against Lena. And it’s no wonder, with the department she’s about to start, helping sick aliens. Cadmus would never tolerate that.

He’s worried, because he knows that however the Alien Amnesty and Asylum bill goes in a few weeks, there are going to be a lot of people unhappy with the result, and people might get hurt. People who might be a bit less bulletproof than his best friend and her cousin.

He’s worried, because no one’s talking. At all. For over an hour, now. And for Maggie Sawyer to be silent is slightly terrifying.

“Alright, I can’t take it anymore!” Maggie booms. “I hate quiet! It’s creepy! Someone start fucking talking!”

Winn feels slightly better.

 

It’s another hour before Kara’s back, feet thudding hard on the front porch. She strides through the door, and Alex pulls her into a tight hug, scolding her as she squeezes.

“Everything’s alright. She’s with Lois and Clark, on their way here. Oh, but I did bring Martha.”

The older woman walks in behind Kara, patting a hard-muscled arm fondly. “And thank you for that, dear. Much better that than being in the car for hours, it kills my back. Am I in my usual room?”

“Yeah, of course,” Alex says, stepping forward and grabbing her bags, desperate for something to do.

They watch the women ascend the stairs before Kara gets serious. “What’ve you found out?”

Winn hesitates. “I found a little,” he finally admits. “But you’re really not gonna like it.”

“Winn, just-“

“Cadmus,” Maggie interrupts. “It’s Cadmus. And if Lena’s right about this being tied to her mom, then that means-“

“-she’s tied to Cadmus,” Kara finishes. “Well, Winn was right, I really don’t like this. How did you put it together?”

“Well, remember how CatCo got hacked last year?” Winn asks. When she nods, he continues. “So someone had snuck in and put a piece of rogue code into our programming. They were smart about it too, very subtle Trojan horse virus with only one bit of code hidden inside. And that would’ve been easy enough to fix, but whoever did it protected the program with an encryption that was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I shut down the hack, officially, but it actually took like a week and a half to get it completely removed, and even then, I put the encryption on a piece of junk computer to play with it. I got kinda… obsessive, but I cracked it. So as soon as I saw this damn encryption again, I knew it was Cadmus; same method of delivery, same point of entry, same encryption.”

“Well, crap.” Kara crosses the room to the couch and collapses onto it with a sigh. “Guys, this sucks.”

“Yeah, no shit, Little Danvers,” Maggie mutters, flopping down beside her. “This blows.”

Winn follows and flops down on Kara’s other side. “Yeah, not the best day for anybody. But hey, Lena’s safe. Like, literally could not be any safer. She’s with Superman.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure that she’s having a great time right now,” Maggie snorts.

*****************

Lena, meanwhile, is on a very awkward road trip with someone who she’s newly friendly acquaintances with, and her murderous brother’s former best friend- while someone apparently plots to kill her. This trip is made even odder by the fact that Clark evidently has no idea what to say to her, so Lois is left to make the vast majority of conversation. Fortunately, Lois had established fairly quickly that Lena wasn’t in witness protection, although she was being put under Maggie’s protection for a few days. Lena supposes this is a relief.

“So how did the two of you end up being ‘agents’?” Lena asks, an hour into the trip.

“Well, Clark got a call from his little cousin. Lemme tell ya, the girl has a set of lungs, Luthor, I could hear the phone across the bullpen,” she catches Lena’s eye in the rearview mirror and winks. “Evidently, Maggie and Winn were digging around and found something in the code that was kinda sketchy, to put it lightly. Anyways, the FBI and MPD are all over the place, at your place and the Planet, so we’re just leaving for vacation early, as far as our bosses know. And, as for the whole ‘safe house’ thing, there may have been some bald-faced lies told on your behalf. The cop who did all the talking with the brass is Kara and Maggie’s old Lieutenant, so they called in a favor with her, who called in a favor with someone else, etcetera, etcetera. Since we were headed to Midvale anyways, we were volunteered to give you a ride. And my ass looks fantastic in these tactical pants they gave me, so I’m keeping them.” She looks over at Clark and grins lecherously. “You’re keeping yours too, Smallville.”

Even from the back seat, Lena can see the flush shoot up Clark Kent’s neck.

Lena nods; her attention is torn between what Lois is saying (aside from shamelessly lusting after her boyfriend) and a strange button on the ceiling that shouldn’t be there. She’s familiar with this make and model, has ridden in one dozens of times to and from the airport and various events, and that button has never been there. She reaches up to touch it, only to be stopped by a surprisingly firm hand on her wrist, strong enough to stop her movement but gentle enough to avoid hurting her.

“Miss Luthor,” Clark says quietly, eyes fixed on the road. “This car belongs to a special agent with an affinity for creating and hiding extremely dangerous weapons in mundane places. She told me that she once blew up half a skyscraper when trying to construct a photon cannon that she could wear on her wrist like a watch. If I were you, I would be extremely careful, touching anything in here.” He releases her arm and she slowly lowers it back to her lap, looking around the car with renewed interest.

 “So,” Lois says, reclaiming her full attention, “you do need to keep a low profile for a few days, because the people who hacked into the Planet and posted that story? They don’t fuck around.”

“What people? Who put that story up?” Lena asks. “I thought it was my mother? I mean, putting a warning like that into a national news site? One that she knows I frequent? That’s like, a Tuesday afternoon for her.”

“Technically, it’s a Thursday afternoon for her,” Lois muses.

Clark clears his throat awkwardly. “We don’t know that it wasn’t Lillian. But one of our computer experts recognized part of the code from an attack on a different media company a year ago.”

“What’s that got to do with this? You think she hacked both?”

“Whoever this is, they have a digital signature, Miss Luthor, and they left it behind both times, knowingly or not. Their organization doesn’t generally slip up.”

“What organization? It’s my mother,” Lena protests.

“Lena,” Lois starts delicately, “what have you heard about a terror group called Cadmus?”

************************

Winn has always been a worrier. He’s worried now, sitting on a couch in Midvale, Maryland- a place he’s always felt at home- with his best friend and a tiny, scary cop. He’s worried for Kara, Cadmus is a threat to her. He’s worried for Lena, who’s rapidly becoming a good friend.

So when Lena walks in, flanked by Clark and Lois, he’s finally able to let out a breath he doesn’t know he’s holding. Kara jumps out of her seat and crosses the room in a few long strides, reaching out toward Lena but stopping herself at the last minute, hands twitching oddly at the aborted motion. Lena rolls her eyes fondly, wraps her arms ‘round the other woman’s waist, and pulls Kara into a bruising hug, and it’s surprising enough that he stares.

Lena, over the past almost-week with them, has gotten more comfortable around their odd little family. Has helped with chores, has smiled more freely, has joked a bit and helped with Hanukkah rituals every night. She’s a little less serious, a little more willing to geek out with him, or get into silly arguments with Maggie and Alex and Kara about boy bands. She’s getting more okay with people touching her- a pat on the shoulder from Eliza, a quick hug here or there from Winn or Kara or even Maggie-, at receiving affection.

But until just now, he’s never seen her initiate it. Accept it, sure, maybe a bit stiffly, maybe a little awkward, like she’s not sure what to do with her hands. But she’s never given any of them a hug. Except Kara.

And he’s not really sure why, but he feels like it’s important, that this is something he’ll want to remember.

Kara sags with relief- she’s been keyed up ever since he’d mentioned Cadmus- and returns the hug with as much force as she can. Lois pulls a very confused Clark into the kitchen, winking at Winn and Maggie as she goes.

“Don’t do that again,” Kara tells her tersely. “Running off like that, when it’s not safe. Let someone be there to have your back.” She can hear Lena’s heart rate pick up, just a bit.

Lena nods apologetically. “Lillian drives me a little crazy. It’s like I’m always mid-rebellion with her.”

Kara smiles and rubs her hands on Lena’s back before pulling away with a grin. “I get that, Alex did the same thing. Ask Eliza about her punk phase. There was a Mohawk.”

“Shut up, Kara!”

Winn looks around but doesn’t see Alex anywhere. “Where even is she, that she heard that?!”

“As far as you’re concerned, I’m everywhere, Schott, and don’t you forget it!”

Winn shudders. “Such a scary, scary nerd…”

Kara laughs and pulls him and Maggie into the hug, which soon includes Lois too.

Alex ventures upstairs, and rolls her eyes at the scene before her, smirking a bit at a very squished, slightly uncomfortable Lena stuck in the middle of a group hug. “C’mon, Kara, let her out, you’re scaring her,” Alex laughs. Catching a glimpse out the front window, her face breaks into a grin and she turns to Lois excitedly. “You guys brought my car!”

If Lena’s eyes go wide at this revelation, no one notices in the commotion.

 

Winn has always been a worrier. He worries about making his rent, and about fictional characters, and about his best friends and the family he’s lucky enough to have been pulled into. He worries about whether or not he remembered to clean out the fridge in his apartment (he did) or shut off the heat while he’s gone (he didn’t). He worries about everything, all the time, and almost none of it matters.

But when he’s in Midvale, he worries less. When he’s with these people, he worries less.

And part of it is the superhero thing, sure.

But mostly, it’s the fact that when he’s with them, he’s surrounded by people who are something more. More than just a slightly-clumsy cop, more than just a shy, dorky journalist. More than a scientist (he’s not an idiot, he knows something’s up with Alex, no lab rat is that terrifying), and more than just a foster-mother. More than a kid who got kicked out at 16. And now, with Lena, more than someone who came from a truly messed up family.

These people are all more than what they seem, more than how they started, and they give him hope that he can be, too.

Chapter Text

Later, when everyone is settling into the living room, draping over armchairs and cuddled up to significant others, Kara is horrified when she learns why Lena hasn’t been joining in on their movie nights.

“What do you mean, you’ve never seen a Christmas movie?” she demands.

Lena cocks a brow. “I feel that my answer was pretty concise.”

“But- but it’s tradition! It’s part of the holiday! Like the candles for Hanukkah-“

“Not even close,” a passing Alex states, solidly invested in guarding her plate of sufganiyot from her sister as she passes her to sit beside Maggie.

“Okay, fine, sorry, not the same, but still! Lena! How’ve you never seen one?” Her eyes are wide with shock, and it’s all Lena can do not to laugh.

“Luthor Christmases were always more for show than for the actual experience of having a holiday,” Lena tells her wryly. “By the time I moved out, I always had so much on my plate that I just never got around to it. There’s piles of books and heaps of movies in my apartment that I’ve never read or watched, I just don’t have the time.”

“Uh, okay, wow, first of all, we’re watching all those movies when we’re in National City,” Kara informs her. “Second, sit down, because your education starts now.”

Lena rolls her eyes, and is totally unprepared when Kara grabs her arm and tugs her down on the couch. She lands half-straddling Kara, and is not ignorant to the snickers scattered throughout the room. She tries to stand, but Kara won’t let her. “Kara, come on, I have work to do.”

“Lena, we’re watching the classic claymation movies tonight. All of them. And you’re watching too. Besides, it’s like eight at night, do your work tomorrow,” Kara says, pulling out the big guns.

“No! Put The Pout away!” Alex yells, throwing a pillow at Kara and bouncing it off Lena’s head instead. Lena chooses to blame the bottles of wine everyone seems to be passing around for her poor aim. “And Luthor, stop being a stick in the mud and watch the damn movies, or she’ll act like a kicked puppy all night.”

Eventually, Lena relents and jokingly pretends to be irritated when she finds herself squeezed between Kara and the arm of the couch, though nothing could be further from the truth. The first movie is started and everyone falls under the spell. Even Lena can admit to seeing some of the appeal, though she can’t really find a position to sit in so she isn’t touching Kara too much. Kara, noticing her ‘discomfort’, raises the arm closest to Lena and lays it across the back of the couch, giving her a bit more space.

“Better?” she asks, leaning in close and breathing the question directly into Lena’s ear, not wanting to disturb their friends.

Lena nods her head mutely and smiles, accepting the bottle of wine a smirking Maggie passes with a mouthed ‘Thank you’ before returning her attention to Rudolph and the elf who wants to be a dentist.

 

Maggie wiggles her shoulder, jostling Alex just enough that her fiancée turns to glare at her. Maggie flicks her eyes over to Lena and Kara, then back to Alex, nodding her head toward the pair on the other couch until Alex takes the hint and looks (she’s very cute and snuggly when she’s drunk, but her secret agent skills go straight out the window). Alex looks over and her eyes widen comically. Carefully, she nudges Winn’s head with her foot, trying not to move too much and attract attention. It takes a few tries, but finally she gets his attention. He lays his head all the way back so he’s facing them upside down, popping candy into his mouth as he looks at her questioningly.

“Why are you kicking my head?” he whispers, and is immediately shushed by everyone in the room. Alex huffs and points at Kara and Lena behind her hand.

Winn’s eyes flick over at them and, if possible, go wider than Alex’s had. He fishes out his phone and fires off a quick text to Lois.

 

Winn: check out Kara doin The Move on Lena!!!

Lois: What?

 

                Winn looks over at her, and she’s very clearly doing a ‘what the fuck’ type gesture. He sighs and punches in another text.

 

Winn: come on evry1 knows wut The Move is!

Winn: tht thing where u pretend 2 yawn so u can put ur arm around ur d8 at the movies

Lois: What is this, the 40’s?

Lois: Why do you text like a 12 year old?

Winn: bcuz it’s the fastest form of communication

Winn: not all of us are writers

Winn: dude just go with it!

Winn: it’s working!

Lois: What’s working?

Winn: ur plan

Lois: I have a plan?

Winn: yeah 2 hook up Kara and Lena?

Winn: Alex told me about it

 

Winn hears muffled snickering on the far side of the room.

 

Lois: Did Alex *also* tell you that she told us not to do anything

Lois: and just feel them out for a few days?

Winn: she did not

Winn: so tht over there…?

Lois: That’s just them, kid

Winn: oh

Lois: Yeah. So I guess you were right, the plan is totally working

               

Winn thinks on this for a bit, and decides that he likes their current plan. ‘Do nothing’ seems to be going great.

 

“Lois,” Clark whispers as she slides her phone back into her pocket, “Do Kara and Lena Luthor seem awfully… close?”

She tilts her head back on his broad chest. “I don’t think so. No closer than any of the rest of us.” She doesn’t feel the need to mention that most of the rest of them are couples. Couples who have been together for years.

“I dunno; they just seem really close. It kinda worries me. I mean, they don’t know each other that well, and she might just be Lex’s kid sister, but she’s still a Luthor.”

“Clark,” Kara says under her breath so only her cousin can hear, “I want you to know that I can hear you, and that I want you to stop talking about this. If you want to talk about it with me, we can do that somewhere else. Otherwise, watch the damn movie.”

Clark goes a bit pale. Kara rarely curses, and when she does, she’s usually really pissed off. Lois shoots him a questioning look, but responds with, “Well, I think she’s a good kid who hasn’t had an easy life, and she needs a friend like Kara. I mean, hell, everyone needs a friend like Kara.” She throws a wink to the blonde, knowing she can hear their conversation. “Sometimes people make instant connections and have strong bonds to people they just met. And right now, she needs people around her who have her back. So loosen up a little and give her a chance.”

Clark hums, but doesn’t say anything, thinking about what two of the people he loves and respects most in the world have just said to him.

 

Lena turns to Kara, frowning a bit. “Did you say something a minute ago?”

“I was probably humming, sorry,” Kara tells her quietly, dropping her arm around her friend’s shoulders when she sees her shiver. Maybe she should go get her a blanket?

Lena shrugs, leaning into Kara a bit more. “I didn’t mind.”

Kara hums with the songs for the rest of the movie, and all the ones after, and the tiny smile playing at her mouth mirrors Lena’s.

 

They trudge to their beds hours later, long after Martha and Eliza called it quits for the evening. True to Kara’s word, they had indeed watched every single classic claymation movie, and Lena had even admitted that they were cute. (“Never, ever tell anyone I used the word cute un-ironically, I have a reputation to uphold.”) There are vague plans made and goodnights are exchanged between yawns. Even the aliens are tired. It’s been a long day for everyone.

Kara wanders into the room she’s sharing with Lena and flops face down on her bed.

Lena giggles (she might maybe possibly be a little bit drunk). “Kara, you can’t sleep like that, you’ll suffocate.”

Kara throws back a witty riposte, but unfortunately, it’s made unintelligible by the pillows and blankets covering her mouth.

“Suit yourself. It was nice knowing you, Kara Danvers. How long after you die is it okay for me to push the beds together?” she ponders. “Because I have to say, I haven’t slept in a twin bed since I was four, and if I shove the mattresses together, I think that at least makes a full.” Lena is grinning down at her friend, hands supporting her on Kara’s bed as she hovers over the prone blonde.

Unfortunately, Lena’s unaware that Kara tends to get a bit goofy when she’s over-tired.

Without warning, Kara’s hand snakes out, grasps Lena’s wrist, and pulls sharply as Kara rolls onto her back, giggling. Lena yelps and lands with a thump on Kara’s chest. Kara’s outright laughing now, and Lena joins her, shoulders shaking helplessly. “Is this better, sleeping on my back? Because I gotta say, this blanket is much heavier than I remember. Lumpier, too.”

“You ass!” Lena braces herself on one hand and uses the other to playfully swat at her friend, and Kara just laughs some more and wraps Lena’s arms up.

“Miss Luthor, what terrible language!” Kara traps one of Lena’s thighs between her own to stop her from kicking.

Lena’s laughing outright, now, shaking hard with it as she struggles valiantly to free herself. “I’ll show you terrible language if you don’t-“

“Hey, guys can you keep it- oh.” Winn is standing in the doorway in his Star Wars pajamas, mouth agape. “Sorry, my bad, carry on!” He slaps frantically at the light and slams the door shut behind him in his haste.

“So,” Kara says, sobering up a bit. She hadn’t really realized that they were tangled in what looks very much like an intimate moment until Winn had walked in. But now the lights are off, and Lena’s laying across her torso, and Kara can feel the other woman’s breath on her neck and chin, and she can hear that her heart rate has picked up, probably from roughhousing. “That happened.”

“It did,” Lena agrees, slightly more serious but still clearly amused. “I should probably go to my bed before Eliza or Alex bursts in here and gives me the shovel talk.”

Kara’s not familiar with that one. “The who-what?”

“You know, that famous ‘hurt my sister/daughter/friend/whoever, and I’ll kill you’ trope?” Lena says.

Kara gets it, now. She’d given that speech to Maggie. Only she’d threatened to literally throw her into the sun if she ever hurt Alex, partner or not. “Right, gotcha.”

“Kara?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you going to let me up anytime soon?” there’s a husky wryness to Lena’s voice that Kara really likes.

“Oh, shoot, yeah, sorry.” Kara removes her arms and untangles their legs, and Lena climbs off of her, a bit unsteady from the- at last count- eight bottles of wine they’d drained between the seven of them (Winn stuck to beer and Eliza hadn’t had any after dinner). She hears Lena shuffle over to her own bed and flop down onto it, and she suppresses a laugh. “You aren’t face down, are you? Because you know, it’s dangerous to sleep that way, you could suffoca-“

A pillow hits Kara squarely in the face, and she laughs and laughs and laughs.

***********************

The next morning is chaos. And its name is Lucy Lane.

“Lucy!” Kara bolts across the room and scoops up the laughing brunette, spinning her in a circle before setting her on her feet. “I’m so happy you’re here! I missed you!”

“What am I, kale to you?” James calls from where he’s carrying their bags, and Clark rushes to help him, clapping his best friend firmly on the shoulder.

Lucy’s a bit chagrinned. “I know, Kar, I’m sorry. Work’s just been so nuts lately, and I keep meaning to call and I keep not calling…”

“I’d noticed,” Kara teases, pulling her friend into a fond embrace. “Don’t worry about it, Luce, I know you’re busy saving the world and suing bad guys.”

“Yeah, but I still have time for that idiot,” she gestures over her shoulder at James, who rolls his eyes. “I should have time for my best friend too.”

Kara beams. “Well, you’re here for- how long are you guys staying? Is James doing Christmas with his mom and sisters this year?”

“Nope! Well, he might, but I’m staying here. We’re trying to alternate where we spend Christmas every year, and since last year we were with his people, this year we’re with mine.”

“We’re your people? I’m deeply touched,” Eliza jokes.

“Mamma Danvers!” Lucy launches herself at Eliza, who laughs and hugs her tightly.

“It’s good to see you, Lucy. Try not to break anything this year.”

“No promises!” Lucy sings, planting a kiss on the older woman’s cheek and extricating herself, going around the room and greeting everyone warmly (even, shockingly, Lois). Eventually, she stops in front of Lena. “I don’t know you. I don’t know this one,” she says, first to Lena herself, and then to the room at large. Turning back to Lena, she eyes her up and down appraisingly. “Whose are you?”

Lucy. This is my friend Lena. She’s staying with us for the holidays,” Kara explains, standing beside Lena and grinning at her reassuringly.

“Oh! Right! I think Lois texted me about that but I deleted it before I read it.”

“Love you too, Lucy,” Lois calls sarcastically.

Lucy rolls her eyes and extends a hand to Lena. “Anyways, hello, Lucy Lane. The tall, dark, and handsome Sherpa is my boyfriend Jimmy.”

“James,” he corrects. “James Olsen.”

“Jimmy. And you’re Lena?”

Lena nods slowly, slightly taken aback by the five feet of chaotic energy standing in front of her. “Yes, Lena Luthor.”

Lucy’s jaw drops, and then she lets out a bark of unintentional laughter. “Oh my god, I’m so glad we came this year. Sorry, you don’t know why I’m loving this so much. Hi, Lena, nice to meet you.” She shakes a thoroughly bemused Lena’s hand firmly, politely, and then turns to Clark to give him a very large, shit-eating grin. “This is going to be a great Christmas. Kara, we’re staying forever.”

 

Martha and Clark have made breakfast today, and with all the people here, it must’ve taken hours to make all that quiche. It’s delicious, and for once, Lena goes back for seconds, but no one bats an eye. They’re all doing the exact same thing, in any case. Kara and Clark are simply given their own pans of quiche, to save time. Maggie is given fruit salad and double-toasted dry toast, which she accepts gracefully, knowing that there will be more options at dinner.

James and Lucy quickly establish that they need to get some real rest before the Festival tonight (they’ve just taken a cross-country red-eye, after all), and Martha and Eliza go into town to do some quick Christmas shopping. The rest of them scatter, Lena to the office to do some work, Clark, Alex, Maggie, and Lois downstairs to discus Cadmus and the hack at The Daily Planet, and Kara and Winn decide to go to the pond at the back of the Danvers’ property to play hockey, grabbing their skates, some sticks, and a well-worn puck as they go. Kara sticks her head into the office to tell Lena where to find them if she finishes her work early.

She and Winn trudge cheerfully through the snow, and he notes that another blizzard is supposed to hit this weekend.

“Good!” she enthuses. “I’ve been dreamin’ of a white Christmas.”

“Oh, man, we should totally watch that tonight!” Winn says. “It’s a classic! Plus, Lena seems like the type to secretly love musicals.”

(She does.)

“I thought we were watching whatever you have planned tonight?” Kara asks.

“Oh, yeah, you’re right. So,” he says slyly, “speaking of Lena; what’s going on, there?”

Her brows knit together, and she’s the picture of innocent confusion, but for the fact that she won’t quite meet his eye. “What do you mean? We’re friends.”

“Uh-huh. Friends who wrestle in their pajamas late at night? Friends who cuddle on the couch when they watch movies? That kind of friends?” he teases.

“Oh, shush, you,” she mutters, swinging the stick at him halfheartedly, which he easily dodges. “Nothing’s going on, we’re just friends. Good friends. Lena could use some good friends.”

“She could, she really could. Luckily, she has me, and Maggie, and Lois, and even Alex, and I think Eliza is planning to adopt her, so that’ll be good for her too,” Winn agrees. “You, however, are something else besides ‘good friends’, Kara, and you know it.”

“It’s not like that,” she insists.

He raises his hands in defeat. “Alright, okay, I’m sorry. That was rude of me, to push. I just wanted to know what my bestie was up to.”

She nods and moves a few paces ahead of him, clearly a bit miffed but not really angry.

“Hey, Kar?”

She stops and looks at him questioningly.

“If it’s a confidence thing for you, it shouldn’t be. And not just for the obvious reasons like you’re amazing and kind and awesome, but also because with the way Lena looks at you, I’m pretty sure she’d climb you like a tree.” He grins and shrugs. “But that’s just one man’s opinion.”

He runs before the shock of what he’s just said wears off, laughing all the while. He’s still laughing when she catches him and throws him into a snow bank taller than he is.

***********************

Lena sighs and scrubs her hands across her eyes. She doesn’t actually have work to do, but she does have a very important mission; she needs to buy Christmas presents.

Lena has never had trouble with buying gifts- between the fact that she’s a billionaire and that she lets very few people into her life, she generally only gets something for Jess, her mother, and rather generic gifts for the board and chief officerss at the company.

She hasn’t bought a gift for friends since she was at boarding school, so being the cool, collected adult that she is, she’s panicking slightly. Or a lot. Because at breakfast that morning, Eliza had asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she’d frozen like a deer in headlights. It had occurred to her then that she might actually get gifts this year. But, more than that, she realized that she actually wanted to buy gifts for these people.

So now she was desperately trolling the internet, trying to find something to buy for these people who had taken in a stray Luthor. So far, it wasn’t going well.

“Hey, Luthor, you busy? Because it’s time for lunch, and- whoa, what happened to you?” Lois asks. Lena makes for quite an interesting image, surrounded by open laptops and propped up tablets, a list that seems to be mostly scratched out at this point, and her head in her hands.

“I’m trying to do some shopping, for Christmas, but I have no idea what to get,” Lena admits morosely.

Lois chuckles and moves a chair over to sit beside the younger woman. “Don’t worry, I do the same thing every year- there’s just so damn many of us, you know? Plus all my friends at work, and yeah, it gets intense.”

Lena nods. “There are, and I don’t know some of you at all, and I don’t know most of you very well except Kara and Winn, and I have no idea how much money to spend on anyone without seeming like an asshole.”

Lois pauses at this. “You’re trying to shop for us? All of us?”

Lena nods, not quite meeting her eyes.

“You don’t have to get anyone anything, Luthor,” Lois points out. “No one will expect you to, and you’re not obligated to at all.”

“Did you get me something?” Lena asks wryly.

Lois shrugs and grins. “Plead the fifth.”

“See? I’m not going to be the only one not giving gifts when I’m a billionaire,” she snorts. “Way too cliché. And you’ve all been… really great, in such a weird situation, and I don’t express gratitude particularly well, so I have to do something. So please help me, because I’m halfway into a meltdown.”

“Alright, breathe, we’ll figure this out.” Lois tilts her head and stares off into space for a moment before starting. “So, James is a photographer with very singular interests; get him something involving photography or cameras or a new lens that he’ll inevitably moon over this evening. For Lucy, she’s pretty straight laced unless she’s on vacation, so get her a nice bottle of tequila or some cigars. Clark is pretty easy- he loves old music and movies, and classic newspapers like the announcement of the Pearl Harbor bombings and stuff like that. He’s such a dork, how did I end up with him? Oh, Eliza just likes that people think of her, so you can get her literally anything, although she likes wine and cookbooks. Martha has a thing for afghans and throw blankets- the farm house is dripping with them. Schott is basically a kid, you can get him a big Lego set and he’ll think the sun shines out your ass. Red likes tech, guns, and booze, not necessarily in that order. Sawyer is a sucker for gift cards and she will also accept love in the form of bourbon. As for me, you can get me anything- or, better yet, nothing- and I’ll be happy about it. Kara is a golden retriever in human form- and I say that with nothing but love in my heart-, and she’ll be fucking delighted if you give her literally anything. Hell, a pair of socks. It can be a used pair of socks, and she’ll be the happiest puppy that you got her a gift.”

Lena nods, relieved. “Thank you, I was starting to freak out a little, honestly.”

“Don’t mention it, Luthor. And as far as the money thing goes, spend as much or as little as you want. None of them cares about how much you spend, one way or the other.” Lois assures her, standing up. She leaves Lena to her online shopping with a smile and a plated sandwich.

******************

Finally satisfied with the amount of hockey they’ve played, Kara and Winn head back to the house.

“Winn?”

“Yeah?”

“What should I get Lena for Christmas? I know she said she doesn’t need anything, but I wanna get her something.”

Winn pretends to ponder this. “Ask her out on a date?”

“Winn! C’mon, I need help! Serious suggestions only,” she whines.

“That was a serious suggestion!” At her exaggerated whine and pout, he relents. “Fine, fine. Hmm… what do you get a billionaire that they don’t already have?” he says aloud. “Yeah, that’s a tough one; I got us tickets to go see a robot battle in National City next month. I think Maggie said she got her scotch. I dunno about Alex, Lois, or Clark, though.”

“So not booze. I’m usually so good at presents!” Kara groans. “What can she not just buy herself?”

“Friends, apparently,” Winn says. “Eliza’s latkes. A better family.” Kara freezes, and it takes Winn a few seconds to realize the he’s lost her. “a Nobel Prize- but she might get one anyways, with the stuff she’s doing. Scary, spiky - Kar, you okay?”

“Winn, you’re a genius!” she enthuses.

“Yeah, I know, but why is that relevant right now?”

She grabs the back of his coat and before he can protest, has zipped them through the woods so they’re now standing on the front porch.

He squeezes his eyes shut, doubles over, and gags. “Oh, god, that’s- I hate it when you do that!”

“Sorry, but I gotta go, you gave me the best idea!” Kara says brightly. And then she’s up, up, and away, disappearing into the great blue yonder.

“Well I’m never giving her an idea ever again,” Winn decides, muttering to himself grumpily. “Picks me up by the scruff, runs me all over. Very undignified, for a genius like me.” He wanders into the house in search of cocoa, knowing that with everyone here, there’s some hot chocolately comfort to be found somewhere.

Chapter Text

“Lena Lena Lena Lena!” There’s rapid knocking on the door to Eliza’s office, and Lena’s brow furrows.

“Kara? Come in,” she calls, thoroughly distracted from her shopping.

Kara walks in, cheeks red and eyes bright. “We’re almost ready to- what’re you doing?”

A brow arches and Lena gives her friend a wry half-smile. “Well, I was working. What are you doing?” she asks, noting the odd ensemble the other woman is wearing.

Kara looks down at herself and grins. “I’m helping with the festival! Somebody dropped out last minute, and when I was in town this afternoon, Chief Ryan asked if I would sub in, just for a couple hours.” At Lena’s continued bemused look, she adds, “He’s the police chief, and also Santa every year.”

“Ah,” Lena says, pieces finally clicking into place. “And that would make you…?”

“I’m an elf!” Kara grins and twirls around, gesturing dramatically. Then, she frowns, looking down at herself doubtfully.“Or, I’m supposed to be. Am I- do I not look like an elf? Shoot, I don’t know what else I have. The other elf is like, super short, so I won’t fit in her costume. Maybe Maggie could be the elf. Wait, no, Maggie would say something that would just, like, scar the children forever; she’d be a bad elf. I think I have more bells somewhere-“

“Kara! You look just like an elf,” Lena assures her.

And it’s true; she’s wearing long striped socks over green tights (Lena hopes they’re warm- it’s snowing again), a pair of red boots, and a cheery green coat. There’s a necklace of jingle bells around her neck, and bell earrings in her ears. A long, knit red hat is pulled down over blonde hair so her ears stick out, and with her wide blue eyes not hidden behind the glasses, she really does look like an elf.

“Really? Are you sure? Because I have some glitter, I can try to-“

“Kara, you are the most authentic, tallest elf that ever lived,” Lena says seriously, fighting the smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

“Well, except for Will Ferrell,” Kara jokes. At Lena’s confused look and tilted head, she gasps. “Oh Rao, do you not- you’ve never seen ‘Elf’, have you? No, of course you haven’t. We have to watch it. But like, not right now, obviously, we have to go to the festival, and then Winn has already planned the movie tonight, so that’s out… But soon. We’ll watch it soon. We have to.”

Lena smiles. “So what did you need, Kara, before I started questioning your fashion choices and horrifying you with my pop culture knowledge?”

Kara sticks her tongue out at her friend. “We’re about to light the menorah. I mean, obviously, you don’t have to be there for that, but we’re leaving for the festival right after, and I know you wanted to go to that. And I can just come get you after, so-“

“Kara,” Lena says, laying a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll be there in just a moment, once I finish up this product order. I’ve enjoyed this tradition. Making a special time to be with family- especially since it’s not my family- is really… nice. It’s not what I’m used to, but it’s nice.”

Kara smiles blindingly at that. “Okay, good. Finish your stuff and I’ll walk you back to the house.” Lena starts to protest, and Kara holds up a hand. “It’s snowing pretty hard; I think you might run into another tree if I don’t keep an eye on you.”

She laughs and ducks when Lena smirks and throws a pen at her.

 

They go through the ritual of Hanukkah, now on night four, and soon after they bundle up and pile into their cars. Lena takes care to avoid Alex’s car. She knows herself, and she’ll be far too tempted to press buttons and ask questions she isn’t supposed to know to ask. So instead, she climbs into Kara’s well-loved blue SUV with James and Lucy, who seem to be a bit warmer toward her than they were this morning.

“So, Miss Lane, what do you do for a living? Lois mentioned the military, but wasn’t clear about what,” Lena asks, turning slightly in the front seat so she can see Lucy in the back.

“I’m a lawyer, a prosecutor. I help the higher-ups catch the bad guys,” she says, a slight edge in her voice.

Kara brakes suddenly, throwing everyone forward a bit before the belts catch them. “Sorry!” she says lightly. “Thought something ran across the road.” She makes eye contact with Lucy, who huffs slightly.

James jumps in with a proud smile. “She’s being modest, Miss Luthor; Lucy is a Major in the JAG Corps. She’s been involved with something big for the last few years. Handled the prosecution of those aliens from the prison in space who started making noise in National City.”

Lena’s impressed. “That’s much more than just being a lawyer, Major. And Mister Olsen, I told you; please, call me Lena.”

“Lena, then. And I’m James,” he says.

“Jimmy,” Lucy corrects. “And I’m on vacation, so it’s Lucy.”

“Lucy and James it is. And everyone knows what you do,” Lena says. “I’m a fan of your work.”

“He’s great,” Lucy enthuses warmly, taking his hand. “He’s been doing a series on homelessness and gangs in National City.”

James flashes perfect white teeth in a broad grin. “It’s really amazing, what people are doing to help out. There’s a guy, down by the docks, and he runs a pizza joint. He lets kids do homework in there, gives them a free slice and as much soda as they can drink, so long as they’re doing their homework. He has a wall of pictures with kids holding up straight-A report cards. He knows every one of their names, what sports they like, really good guy trying to make a difference the best way he can; with pizza.”

“I told you guys that pizza is the answer to everything,” Kara crows.

“I thought that was potstickers,” Lucy grins.

“It can be both!”

“Kara here is probably my second most famous subject, though I’m sure you already knew that,” James continues, smiling at the back of Kara’s head, not noticing how she stiffens in her seat. “I got a lot of autonomy and recognition because of a photo of her-“

“Wow! Parking is gonna be a nightmare. Maybe I’ll check over on Maple,” Kara says loudly, abruptly cutting James off.

Lena looks over at her curiously, but doesn’t say anything.

 

They park and pile out of the car, quickly finding the rest of their group. Kara is pulled away, her elf duties needing to be tended to, and Lena is left in the company of Kara’s friends and family. Winn keeps to her side as they make their way through the somewhat crowded streets toward the center of town.

“Is it always this busy?” Lena asks, avoiding a pack of kids running through the crowd.

“Yeah, I mean, it is the opening ceremony and stuff,” Winn tells her.

“Like the Olympics?” Lena asks, a laugh in her voice.

Winn hastens to explain. “Nah, no, there’s just like, a thing they do. Santa rides in on a sleigh which is actually just a horse- drawn cart from the orchard- all the horses have fake antlers, it’s hilarious- and cuts a ribbon and then it’s open. Kara’s one of the elves, which, usually it’s all cops who do that, in case any kids get lost or anything they’re easy to spot in the crowd. So she’ll be able to hang out a little, still.”

Lena nods, rubbing her hands together a bit in the cold.

Winn notices and drags her to a stall selling hot chocolate and warm cider. “It’s not the hard stuff, unfortunately. Gotta get that from the bar,” he smiles. “Cocoa or cider?”

“Cider, if it’s not too sweet,” Lena tells him, gratefully accepting the Styrofoam cup that he hands her. “Thank you, Winn. You know I can afford to buy my own drinks?”

He shrugs and sips his cocoa with a smile. “Yeah, but now I get to say that I bought Lena Luthor a drink. Twice. 15 minutes of fame for me.” She rolls her eyes and shoves him lightly as he laughs. “Okay, look, here comes Santa!”

She chuckles at his enthusiasm, but does watch with interest as a cart dripping with sleigh bells is pulled into town by eight horses, all of which are indeed wearing fake reindeer antlers (it is kind of hilarious, she has to admit). Trailing behind are several ‘elves’, men and women decked out in festive clothing, waving at the crowd and smiling. Some of them are wearing guns, and aside from Kara, all have badges on that catch the lights and reflect back brightly.

“We call them ‘Santa’s Big Helpers’,” Alex tells her, leaning forward so Lena can hear her.

“Or ‘Santa’s Little SWAT Team’,” Maggie says cheerfully, leaning around Alex.

“It does seem rather… odd,” Lena admits.

Eliza explains. “When the girls were teenagers, a little boy was kidnapped at the festival. He was found with his mother- apparently it was custody dispute- and so it didn’t end too tragically. But it scared people, so more officers started patrolling. But the kids were scared to ask for help if they got lost, and people were self conscious to be seen speaking to an officer. And having cops everywhere just  made everyone a little too serious and somber to really get the ‘atmosphere’ everyone was after. So, the former Chief suggested that they dress up as Santa’s elves, to help out. And now, it’s just part of the tradition.” She shrugs. “And aside from that, it makes for great photo ops for the department.”

“It’s still weird, whatever the reasons,” Maggie tells Lena under her breath. “You couldn’t fuckin’ pay me to dress like that.”

“No one would ever ask you to be an elf, Sawyer,” Lois tells her, grinning at the diminutive detective.

“Even though you are the right size,” Alex grins. Maggie goes to protest, but Alex plants a kiss on her fiancée’s cheek, effectively silencing her.

“As a fellow fun-sized badass, I object,” Lucy chimes in, eliciting a high five from Maggie.

“Alright, the festival is open, you kids go have fun. Us old folks are going into the shops,” Martha Kent tells them warmly, shooing them away as she and Eliza amble together down the sidewalk toward the bar.

“Holler if you need us, Ma,” Clark calls after her, laughing when she waves him off. He takes Lois’ hand and begins walking into the crowded fairgrounds in the middle of town, talking and laughing with James, a longtime friend. Lois and Lucy, while not openly antagonistic toward one another, aren’t exactly getting along, either, and can be heard bickering lightly to either side of their respective beaus. Alex and Maggie take off toward the center of the festival, challenging each other to what are apparently several athletic endeavors that the festival offers as entertainment.

This leaves Lena to walk with Winn, who turns out to be an excellent tour guide. He seems to know a bit about everything, and when he doesn’t, he makes up truly ridiculous stories to keep her entertained as they walk through the crowd. They walk at a leisurely pace, something Lena is very unused to, and when they get to a large hill, she asks about the barriers that’ve been erected down the side.

“Oh, that’s for the sled races!” he says enthusiastically. He’s grinning and seems younger than Lena can remember having seen him before. “I wanna say that those are… tomorrow? Maybe Sunday? Anyways, they do them every year. Alex and Kara always compete, and now Maggie does to.”

“Do you?”

“Oh, god, no,” he laughs. “I’m not built for speed. I’m built for tech support and witty commentary. I’m glad it’s snowy this year, though. Last year it was all mud.”

“Oh, did they have to cancel the race?”

Winn barks out a laugh. “Yeah, no, they just raced on sleds down the muddy hill. It was honestly much more entertaining to watch. There’s some great pictures from that, I think Eliza has them stashed somewhere. I’d never seen Alex or Kara that just… filthy before. Like, head to toe, covered in mud. And then they gave me a group hug, and then we were covered in mud. Eliza made us ride home in the bed of the truck!”

Lena lets out a laugh. “That sounds like something I’ll have to see.”

“What does?”

They turn to see a grinning Kara standing behind them. “I was telling her about the mud race last year,” Winn says with a grin.

“Oh Rao, yeah, it was insane. It took me like an hour to get all the mud out of my hair. Never again,” she shudders dramatically. “So, what’re you guys gonna do? I can hang out for a little bit- I’m just supposed to mingle with the crowd.”

“I was gonna see if Lena wanted to play some games,” Winn said, starting to lead them to where small tents are standing. “She might have better luck at the snowball toss than I do.”

“Ugh, those games are totally rigged,” Kara huffs, crossing her arms over her chest. The action inevitably leads to her biceps flexing, obvious even under the coat, and Lena hears Winn snickering at her before she realizes she’s staring. She meets his smug grin with thinned lips and rolled eyes.

“They can’t be that difficult,” Lena scoffs.

“That’s what you said about pool,” Kara points out.

“That wasn’t a fair contest; Maggie got me drunk,” Lena says with a smirk.

“She like, specializes in that,” Winn informs her. “It’s her goal, to get all of us drunk at least once every Christmakah. The only ones she hasn’t gotten yet are Kara, Martha, and Clark.”

“To be fair to Maggie, Clark and I can’t get drunk,” Kara says diplomatically. “We’re immune.”

“And to be fair to everyone else, it’s not like it’s hard to get us drunk,” Winn agrees. “Hey! Snowman contest! Wanna do it?”

“I’m not much of an artist,” Lena demurs.

“I am! Let’s do this! It’ll be so fun!” Kara says. When Lena still look unconvinced, she sticks out her lower lip in a pout. “C’mon, between my vision, and your and Winn’s engineering skills, we can totally win this!”

“Winn’s my name, and it’s what I do,” Winn says dramatically.

Both Kara and Lena roll their eyes at this. Lena bites her lip. “I don’t think I’ve ever made a snowman before. You two might have better luck without me.” She also isn’t wearing gloves, something neither of them seems to have noticed, since her hands are shoved deep into the pockets of her coat.

Kara and Winn stare at her. “Alright, well, now you have to, it’s no longer optional,” Kara informs her, looping her arm through Lena’s and hustling her through the crowd toward a somewhat open area. She stops to scribble their names on a sheet of paper, and the three of them are given numbers to wear. They’re team seven.

They walk over to their designated space, Winn and Kara shoving at each other and bickering about how big the snowman should be, Lena hanging back a bit and strategizing about how to best utilize the snow in their area.

The contest begins, and quick as a flash, Kara and Winn are rolling the base and middle of the snowman, leaving Lena to shape the head. They work efficiently, all taking their roles seriously, especially since they’ve spotted Maggie and Alex making their own snowman not too far away as team nine. Apparently, Kara always places higher than Alex, and she can’t bear to lose, as Alex is a terrible winner.

“She’ll never let it go,” Kara says with determination in her eyes. “We don’t have to win, but we do have to beat them.”

Lena agrees. Maggie’s been yelling trash-talk for the past several minutes, but at least she’s keeping it PG, with all the kids around. Lena’s impressed that the detective does seem to have a filter, after all.

It’s hard, putting the snowman together. The heavy snow this afternoon has blanketed the older, denser stuff below with fluffy, useless powder, so they’re forced to dig a bit for the more useful snow. Once they’ve got their individual pieces formed, they set about balancing them atop one another, something Winn and Lena take over doing when Kara almost drops the snowman’s head. Lena glares playfully as she takes her creation from the blushing blonde, and Kara is told to figure out how they’re going to decorate their snowman. Between the two engineers, the snowman stands tall and balanced in just a few minutes, and Kara quickly takes over, packing snow onto the torso to shape arms and onto the head to form a nose and brows.

Lena is impressed; it seems Kara actually does have some artistic talent, and wasn’t just kidding around earlier.

“Hey! No cheating!” Alex yells over the heads of several other competitors. The other residents clearly have at least a passing familiarity with the Danvers sisters, as only one older man turns to glare at Alex when she shouts. A glare she ignores completely.

“I’m- how would I cheat?!” Kara yells back, turning toward them and throwing her arms into the air.

Alex opens her mouth to yell back, but seemingly thinks better of it, opting instead for the universal ‘I’m watching you’ gesture.

Maggie laughs beside her, “C’mon, babe, Little Danvers wouldn’t cheat. Luthor and Schott, however…”

Lena glares playfully before yelling, “You’re a wanker, number nine!”

This gets a deep belly laugh from Maggie and confused looks from everyone else, and they’re drawn back to their own projects, Maggie and Lena still laughing.

After a few more minutes, the whistle is blown and everyone is made to step away from their masterpieces. A crew of judges wanders through the sea of snowmen, marking things down about each one and complimenting their creators generously. When theirs is judged, Lena finds herself actually becoming a bit anxious. She can run a multi-billion dollar company, take on paparazzi, face down boardrooms of people who want nothing more than for her to fail, but apparently faced with judges in a small town snowman- building contest she finds her nerves. The judges love their snowman, admiring the height (well over six feet- Winn had given Kara a boost up- he’s apparently much stronger than he looks) and the detail, something Lena herself is impressed by, considering they didn’t have any tools.

After everyone is judged and the judges deliberate a bit, the winner is announced; a very traditional, perfect snowman complete with red scarf made by a bunch of kids from the local elementary. Lena doesn’t begrudge them their win, especially with how ecstatic they are when they’re given the gift cards for the arcade.

“Little kids always win,” Kara whispers to her conspiratorially. “Then teenagers, then they place everyone else. Let’s go see how we did!”

It turns out they’ve placed fifth (Kara was right, all the ones placed ahead of them are kids and teenagers) and Alex and Maggie take seventh. Alex gripes about this, muttering under her breath, and they band together as they roam through the rest of the festival.

By this point, Lena is honestly freezing, but no one else seems to be too bothered so she decides to just deal with it. She’s having a lovely time, and she doesn’t want to do anything to disturb the strange, perfect night she’s having with these people who’ve started calling her a friend.

Kara, however, always seems aware of her being uncomfortable, and says something about wanting to change into normal clothes since her elf duties are now over. She’s told to hurry up, and the others wander to get hard cider and doughnuts someplace called The Mill. She grins and takes Lena with her toward the car, hopping into the driver’s seat, turning the car on, and cranking up the heat. Lena climbs into the passenger seat and sighs with relief when she feels the blast of heat pouring from the dash.

“I thought you might be a little cold,” Kara says, smiling slightly. “You don’t have the warmest stuff on.”

Lena looks down at herself, sees the expensive wool coat that ends at her knees and the jeans she’d managed to find somewhere when she was drunkenly throwing her bag together at the Manor. “I don’t?”

Kara shakes her head. “No hat, no gloves, no scarf… I’m surprised you even still have one of your ears.”

Unconsciously, Lena reaches up to feel her ears, fingering the piercings there before she registers Kara’s teasing tone and shoots her a playful look. “Oh, ha-ha,” she says wryly, dropping her hands to her lap.

Kara huffs and grabs Lena’s wrists, putting her hands directly on the vent, suffusing her hands with warmth and the rest of her with a different kind of heat. “Your hands are never gonna get warm if you keep them in your lap, Lena.” Lena clears her throat a bit, and Kara backs off a bit, still smiling.

“Thanks,” Lena says, voice a bit tight. “For all this. I really- I appreciate it.”

Kara smiles warmly. “Of course. You’re my friend, even if I’m dumb and did make you build a snowman without gloves- sorry about that, by the way.”

Lena waves her off, and they sit, warming in the car for a few minutes, chatting about nothing. Once Lena’s warmed up a bit, Kara gets into the trunk area, tossing her a knit hat and bulky gloves that are just a bit too large before climbing into the backseat and pulling on a pair of loose jeans over her tights and a pair of heavy black boots instead of the red ones she’s been sporting. Lena laughs as the tall woman attempts to navigate dressing in the dark, confined space. Especially since Kara has yet to remove the jingle bells she’s wearing, so every movement is punctuated by jingling and, usually, a thud and muffled words Lena doesn’t understand (she figures the strange, lilting words must be Icelandic). Kara pulls a face at her and tugs the hat down over Lena’s eyes playfully.

When Kara’s finally dressed and Lena’s sufficiently warmed, Kara turns the car off and they step back out into the cold. Lena instinctually huddles a bit deeper into her coat, and Kara huffs out a laugh at her, pulling off her own scarf and knotting it around Lena’s neck, pulling the collar of her friend’s coat up as she does. Lena blinks, surprised, as Kara grins at her and straightens the scarf, because there’s now warmth that isn’t hers looped around her neck and a scent that isn’t hers right under her nose. The blonde seems to think nothing of this, tutting at Lena for not dressing more warmly before offering her arm with a goofy grin. Lena takes it, only a little hesitant, and is grateful that she did when she’s met with the warmth rolling off of Kara in waves. She sighs a bit and leans into it more fully as they walk back to the festival.

If Alex, Winn, and Maggie exchange knowing looks when Kara and Lena rejoin them, well, no one says anything aloud.

 

Lena is shown around the entirety of the festival, and there are promises of more visits when it’s not snowing so hard and not quite so crowded. Lois, Lucy, James, and Clark join them after a while, and it’s only slightly awkward between Lena and the two men, but there are plenty of other people present to act as a buffer. Eliza and Martha hang around with them for a few minutes before they decide to call it a night and head home. Kara and Winn are taking special delight in dragging Lena to every booth and stall to play games and sample food. She knows that she’ll have to rethink her aversion to exercise, if she continues eating all this junk food, but usually she just takes a bite and hands the rest to Kara, who she is beginning to understand is essentially a human garbage disposal and happily eats anything anyone presents her with. Lena does, however, particularly enjoy the hard cider that Kara gets for her at The Mill, Midvale’s local watering hole. It’s a bit tart and it’s spicy with cinnamon and nutmeg and something nutty that she can’t quite identify. And it’s served hot, which to someone acclimated to southern California is a godsend. Winn feels much the same, as he shudders when they leave the crowded bar to go back into the snow.

Kara rolls her eyes at them both and pulls each of them under an arm.

“How are you this warm? Honestly, it’s not right,” Lena says, allowing herself to relax under the warmth and weight of Kara’s arm. She refuses to feel weird about it, since Winn is doing the exact same thing on Kara’s other side.

Maggie laughs, her arm looped through Alex’s. “You’re telling me. This idiot would sometimes forget her duty jacket and not even notice until she went to grab for a snack and it wasn’t there. This was in the middle of fuckin’ winter, remember, and Metropolis is like, on the coast. Used to drive me fucking crazy.”

Alex nods. “When she first came to live with us, she used to leave the bedroom window open. In January.”

Kara shrugs. “Must be the fact that I grew up somewhere cold. In Iceland, people actually leave their babies outside in the cold to take naps and stuff. Maybe that’s why?”

Lena shakes her head. “No, that can’t be it. I mean, you’re melting snow as soon as it touches you.”

“It’s the same thing with this one,” Lois tells her from where she’s snug against Clark’s side. “Drives me a little nuts, but hey, I have a walking heater. Plus, he’s kinda cute, so, bonus.” She stands on tiptoe to press a kiss to a smiling Clark’s cheek.

“Maybe a family thing,” James suggests. “Like the metabolism. These two can eat, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“And the booze thing,” Maggie agrees. “One day, I will get you guys drunk.”

“Better than you have tried, Sawyer,” Lois laughs.

“Taller doesn’t mean better,” Lucy jokes, getting one over on both Maggie and her older sister in one fell swoop.

Soon enough, everyone agrees that they’re getting cold and they amble back to the cars, Winn telling them all that he has a special surprise lined up for the movie that night. This announcement is met with little enthusiasm and a lot of suspicion, which, in Lena’s fairly limited experience with Winn, seems to be an understandable reaction.

 

They arrive back to a quiet house and change into more comfortable clothes before everyone settles into the living room. Lena finds herself on the couch with Kara again, Winn perched on Kara’s other side. Lois and Clark reclaim their own place from previous nights, Lucy and James claim the chaise that Winn had used last night, and Alex glares daggers at anyone who approaches the loveseat she and Maggie are sprawled on. Winn is jittery with excitement, syncing his tablet up with the TV and pulling up the file he wants, grinning all the while. When he finally presses play, they’re met with tense, dramatic music, outer space, and- the Millennium Falcon?

Lena finds herself actually getting excited. “Is this-“

“Yes! It’s the Star Wars Christmas Special!”

Chapter Text

The next day is Saturday, and as such, Lena is expected to attend a party that night that a major investor is hosting in Gotham City. When she mentions this at breakfast where everyone is going over plans for the day, however, Maggie attempts to veto the idea.

“I really don’t think that it’s a great idea,” she says, shoveling oatmeal into her mouth. “Cadmus is still out there, somewhere.”

Lucy chokes a bit. “What about Cadmus, now?”

“Cadmus, y’know, alien-hating terrorists? Keep blasting the TV and radio-waves with propaganda? Creepy faceless-face? General assholes?” Winn says blithely.

Lois looks at her sister over the rim of her coffee mug. “You know Cadmus, don’t you, Luce?”

Lucy grits her teeth a bit. “I did, but that was a while ago. Why does she know anything about Cadmus? And why didn’t either of you tell me?”

“They did put a threat in the paper about her,” Clark says, sipping coffee. “In the paper that Lois and I work for. Can’t be a coincidence. And you got here after it happened.”

“Well, hell,” Lucy mutters, standing quickly and striding from the room, pulling a phone from the pocket of her sweatpants as she goes. “I’ve gotta call Dad.”

“Of course you do,” Lois mutters. Lucy shoots her a look as she leaves the room.

Lena is genuinely confused by all this, but refocuses on Maggie. “I have to go, Maggie, this one isn’t really optional. I don’t need to stay all night, but I need to make an appearance and do some glad-handing with these people.”

“And that’s exactly where you’re expected to be,” Kara argues from beside Lena.

“She’s right; it’s easier to get to you if they know where you are. That’s why you’re here in the first place,” Alex agrees.

“I have to go, regardless. I’d much rather not, but I have to. I can only send my regrets so many times,” Lena says firmly. “And this is a major investor. Without their support, I won’t be able to make the changes I want to make over the coming year.”

Maggie shrugs, conceding. “That’s fine and dandy, Luthor, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea to walk into what is probably a trap. I’ll get some of my GCPD guys to patrol heavy around there, though. Just tell me where it is.”

“I will, thank you,” Lena says, returning to her breakfast.

“I don’t like this, either. For the record,” Kara says, directing the last at Clark, who smiles slightly and nods.

“Noted.”

“It doesn’t matter. I appreciate everything you’ve all done for me, but I do have to go, regardless of anyone’s feelings about it,” Lena tells them. ‘Even mine.’

“We understand that, Lena,” Eliza assures her, fixing the rest of them with a stern look, “don’t we?”

There’s a mumbled chorus of half-hearted agreement, but Kara remains unconvinced, face stormy. “I get it, I just don’t like it. It’s too routine.”

Lena sighs. “I hate to tell you this, Officer, but a lot of my life is routine, except for this past week”

Kara winces at the tone Lena’s using. She’s clearly getting frustrated. “Alright, alright. I’m sorry. I’m just worried.”

Lena softens a bit. “I understand. But I can’t live in fear. This is my company; it’s my whole life. If I want to be a force for good, I have to be a bit brave, sometimes.”

“I just wish you weren’t going by yourself,” Kara mutters. “That’s what worries me the most.”

Maggie, Lois, and Winn all simultaneously sit ramrod straight, the same idea having struck them all at the same time. Clark notices and is instantly wary of whatever they’re plotting. No good can come from the three of them banding together.

“Well, does she have to go alone?” Winn asks innocently.

Lena’s brow furrows. “What do you mean?”

“I think what he means is, can you bring a date?” Lois supplies.

“I suppose so, yes. I was given a plus one,” Lena hedges, still a bit confused.

“Great! Take Kara!” Lois suggests.

At Lena’s leery look, Maggie continues. “She was a cop, she can keep an eye on you, have your back,” Maggie says with a grin.

“Oh, guys, I dunno if that’s- I mean, it’s- I think- it’s Lena’s choice, so whatever she wants to do,” Kara stammers.

Lena seems to consider this, and Kara is slightly concerned at the way her heart rate has just picked up. “That… may not be the worst idea,” she muses.

Kara looks at her, surprised. “Really?”

Lena shrugs. “Sure, why not? It’s usually better to bring a date to these things, in my experience. And you’ll be worried the entire time I’m gone if you don’t come along anyway, right?”

Kara shrugs silently, choosing not to mention that she’d planned on being nearby whether Lena knew it or not.

“Well then, that’s settled,” Alex says, clapping her hands on her thighs. “Mags, you wanna help me start on those dishes?”

Eliza looks surprised by this, but chooses to say nothing and simply be grateful that Alex is willingly doing a task in the kitchen that doesn’t involve fire. She heads outside to fine-tune something or other she’s working on in her lab. James rises, saying something about wanting to get some photos of the fresh-fallen snow and check on Lucy. Clark goes to work on some article in the room he’s sharing with Lois, muttering under his breath about his boss not understanding what a vacation is. Winn decides that today is a great day for a Mario-Kart tournament and heads upstairs to dig the Nintendo console out of his bags, and Lois and Martha follow Alex and Maggie into the kitchen, hands laden with dishes.

Now alone, Kara turns to Lena with a sheepish smile. “You really don’t have to bring me to this thing if you don’t want to, Lena. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to tag along, but if you were planning to bring someone, or if you’d rather go alone, that’s fine. I don’t know why they were all being so weird.”

“Kara, it’s fine. I’m happy to bring you, it’s just… this isn’t a fun party, this is a den of snakes type party.”

Kara scrunches her nose up. “You go to a lot of those, huh?”

Lena lets out a short laugh. “I guess I do.”

“So, Lena?”

“Yes?”

“I don’t need a different dress, do I?”

Lena laughs, a bit helplessly. Because what’re you supposed to do with that?

 

As it turns out, Kara does need a different dress, but Alex is happy to supply her with one. It’s not something she’d normally wear, and because Alex is a bit smaller and shorter than her sister, it clings more than it was probably intended to, but Alex, Lucy (who has been brought up to date on their shenanigans and is fully on board, if only to mess with Clark as much as is humanly possible), Lois, Winn, and Maggie give her whoops of approval when she tries it on, so she figures it can’t be that bad.

The dress is black, and tight in all the right place on Alex. On Kara, it’s tight in every place, and rather than hitting the top of her knee, it stops mid-thigh. It’s an off-the-shoulder thing, which Kara generally likes, simply because her shoulders are rather broad and it’s not always easy to find a comfortable dress that doesn’t make her look like a linebacker. Her muscular arms- toned after years of working out with Clark- are on full display, as are her long legs. And a lot more cleavage than she’s comfortable with, but there’s only so much she can do about it at this point. She puts on her makeup and successfully attempts a smoky eye, grateful for all the time she’s spent painting and blending her colors together and never having considered that it would carry over into makeup. Satisfied, she puts on the pumps she got with Lena last week and checks herself over in the mirror, having spent most of the day worrying about this party.

Lena has been very nonchalant about the whole thing, telling Kara that she doesn’t need to dress up for these people, but Kara is determined to not embarrass her, so when she emerges from the bathroom, she revels a bit in the way her friend’s eyes widen and the only-audible-to-Kryptonians utterance of “Fuck.”

“It’s okay?” she asks, still fretting a bit. She spins in a circle, trying to tug the skirt down a bit and the neckline up, but to no avail.

“It’s perfect,” Lena assures her, eyes roaming a bit more than is probably strictly necessary, but Kara isn’t about to call her out on it. The idea is to be a touch distracting, after all, so if it works on Lena, it’ll probably work on whoever might be planning to kill her.

“You don’t look too bad yourself, Miss Luthor.”

And she doesn’t. Lena is always unfairly, unfailingly pretty, even in sweats geeking out over Star Wars with Winn. Honestly, especially then. But she’s really something tonight, in a deep red sheath dress that accentuates every curve, the color matching her lips perfectly. She’s never, like, dripping in jewels or gold, it doesn’t seem to be her style, but she’s undeniably wearing some expensive, gorgeous jewelry tonight, and it catches the light every time she turns her head. Her hair is pulled back into a sleek ponytail, and she looks like she could convince someone to do anything with just a smirk.

Or, maybe just Kara.

 Kara grins and walks toward Lena. Her heart rate is speeding up again, and Kara makes a mental note to tell her that she needs to get a physical, because she seems to have an irregular heartbeat pretty often. She stands over Lena, who’s sitting on the side of Alex’s bed, and leans in, concern wrinkling her brow. “You okay?”

“I’m great,” Lena assures her, smiling, trying desperately to maintain eye contact and not ogle her friend.

“Good. Now, let me just get my gun, and we can get going.”

Lena snorts delicately. “Where are you planning to put that gun, exactly?”

Kara turns to her and winks. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” She turns back around just in time to miss the way Lena’s eyes darken a bit at her teasing.

***********

Lena had been right; this is not a fun party.

This party is full of apparently terrible people. One of whom may be plotting murder. So Kara is a bit on edge.

Lena is steady beside her, though, and this fact helps a lot. They aren’t touching, no looped arms or joined hands, but Kara sticks close, hovering at the young CEO’s elbow, just in case she’s needed. And, after a little while, Kara actually begins to relax. One man, with hair that’s slicked flat to his head, approaches them, leering. Evidently, he doesn’t recognize Kara out of her uniform, but she’d arrested him the year before on charges of harassment and assault. His money and influence had gotten him off the hook, something that had infuriated Kara, but at the time, there was nothing to be done. Now, however, seem like an excellent time to screw with him a little.

“I hate him,” Lena mutters, seemingly resigned to his company, and Kara decides to send him scurrying as politely as possible.

“Miss Luthor, always a pleasure,” he says, voice slick as oil.

“Adam, charmed as ever,” Lena says, extending her hand, successfully not grimacing as he plants a kiss upon it when she’d intended a handshake.

“And who’s your beautiful friend?” he wonders, eyeing Kara with open desire.

Lena opens her mouth, whether to object or to introduce Kara, even she isn’t sure, but Kara beams at him and takes his hand, shaking it warmly between both her own. “Kara Danvers, Mr. Ronan. You’re looking very well, have you lost weight?”

Lena’s brow lifts slightly, and she’s obviously a bit confused, but no more so than Adam Ronan is. He smiles a bit and says, “I’m sorry, Miss Danvers, have we met before?”

Kara smiles and releases his hand. “Oh, of course, how rude of me! We became acquainted last summer, I believe.”

“Charity benefit, was it?” he asks curiously.

“Oh, no, nothing like that,” Kara laughs. “We met at your home, actually. My partner and I were very impressed by the architecture. It’s a pre-war building, isn’t it?”

“Ah, yes, yes it is. I’m sorry, I just can’t seem to remember you,” he confesses.

“Oh, that’s not surprising. Most people don’t recognize officers out of uniform,” Kara chuckles, capturing the moment realization dawns on him in her mind’s eye to describe to Maggie later. “I suppose I introduced myself to you as Officer Danvers last time we met, yes?”

He goes white as a sheet, and excuses himself in a breath before almost running from their presence.

Lena turns to her, open-mouthed. “How did you do that? He usually hangs around staring at my breasts for at least half an hour.”

Kara smirks, sipping from a flute of champagne that only Lena knows won’t affect her. “Maggie and I arrested him, last year. He’s a creep.”

“That he is. Now, who else have you arrested?” Lena asks, eager to distract herself from this terrible, necessary ordeal. At least until she needs to do business with the host.

“Well, if you really wanna know…”

 

Lena has decided that as often as is possible, she’s dragging Kara to these terrible parties. Kara is funny, and has a way of setting people just a touch off-balance without actually doing anything untoward. She’s eager to meet these people, talks with them, makes them feel at ease around her.

But the instant she picks up on Lena not wanting to talk anymore, she pulls her away easily, chattering about this piece of art or this bit of food that she hasn’t yet tried. It’s incredible, how easy this is for her, and Lena, who’s always thrived more working late nights in a lab than in this cluster of wealth and privilege, finds herself almost a bit jealous. People want Kara to like them, are drawn in by the bright smile and enthusiastic handshake, the way she lets them talk about themselves as much as they want.

“You’re good at this,” Lena tells her under her breath.

Kara grins at her. “My parents were kinda public figures; big-time lawyer and a scientist. This isn’t my first rodeo.”

Lena chuckles lowly. “You’re full of surprises.”

“I try.”

Lena’s almost having fun at this party, for the first time at such an event since she was about eight. Oh, they’d been terrible then, too, but at least Lex had been there with her, and the other children of the absurdly rich hadn’t yet grasped to concept of networking or forging connections. It’d been awkward, but they’d had fun, playing a few games of chess in the room where they’d all been corralled. They’d caught hell from Lillian- well, she had, at least- afterward, for causing a scene when they were caught playing hide and seek. Kara isn’t darting around, per se, but she is able to stay light. And even to keep Lena light, with her muttering about some of the truly ridiculous things these people get up to when they think no one’s watching.

Lena feels fairly confident that this evening will involve less hide and seek. And less of her mother.

“Lena, dear.”

But, she’s been wrong before.

Lena turns and looks up into her mother’s face, pulling up a smile as quickly as she can. “Hello, Mother.”

Lillian is looking her up and down, gaze appraising and critical. “I’ve told you before, Lena, that red isn’t your color. It washes you out.”

Lena flushes slightly and takes a breath to steady herself. She opens her mouth to reply, but Kara stands subtly (or, Kara’s approximation of subtlety, at least) in front of her, hand extended and smile wide.

“Dr. Luthor, what an honor to meet you! I’m a huge fan of your work in cybernetics,” Kara enthuses. “Your strides in biomedical engineering are incredible.”

Lillian seems slightly taken aback by the tall blonde. “Thank you. And you are…?”

“Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry, where are my manners? Kara Danvers, formerly of MPD,” Kara says, shaking Lillian’s hand warmly. “I’m keeping an eye on your daughter.”

Lillian nods a bit, reassessing the woman before her. “Formerly?”

“I’m just doing some freelance protection work, right now,” Kara says modestly, lying through her teeth. Lena stares; she didn’t realize that Kara could lie, let alone lie so convincingly, as though it’s as easy as breathing.

“Well I’m relieved that she’s being kept safe,” Lillian manages.

“I do my best,” Kara demurs modestly. “So, you developed the standard for modern prosthetics. I have to say, one of the officers I worked with was a patient of yours, and he had nothing but good things to say. You fixed his arm after a motorcycle accident. Dave Yeng?”

Lillian’s eyes light up a bit in recognition. “Ah, yes, I remember. How is his mobility these days?”

Kara laughs, “He could kick just about anyone in the precinct’s rear with that arm, last I checked.”

Lena watches this exchange with more than a little wonder. Very few people recognize her mother for the brilliant doctor that she is (Lena may almost-hate her, most of the time, but she can recognize genius when she sees it) and even fewer manage to distract her. And no one aside from Lex has ever distracted her with the express intent of making Lena more comfortable, of making her seem like a smaller target for her mother’s ire.

“I’m glad to hear that he recovered so well. It’s always good to know when a surgery is successful, beyond what the patient tells me,” her mother continues. Lillian Luthor seems begrudgingly charmed by Kara Danvers. “Though, I’m afraid I don’t operate as much anymore.”

“Oh? Why’s that?” Kara asks, genuine and concerned.

“I’ve found myself too busy with other projects, unfortunately.”

“Anything exciting? I’ve always been a bit of a science enthusiast,” Kara says, smiling.

She’d told Lena the day before that when Alex had tried to drag her to science fairs and exhibits, she’d been bored to tears.

“Nothing that I can comment on, I’m afraid,” Lillian says, face a polite and immoveable mask.

“I understand,” Kara says, smile not diminished in the slightest. “Well, it was lovely meeting you, Dr. Luthor, but we have to keep mingling. I see some sushi over there with my name on it.”

Lillian seems to remember that Lena is there suddenly, seeming taken aback by her own forgetfulness. “Yes, of course. Enjoy the party, Lena.”

Kara smiles and leads/drags Lena clear to the other side of the large ballroom.

“Kara Danvers, you’re my hero,” Lena sighs, leaning her head on Kara’s shoulder for just a brief moment. “I think that’s the least critical she’s ever been of me.”

“Yeah, well, she’s nuts,” Kara declares, snagging a couple small plates loaded with sushi from a passing waiter and handing one to Lena.

“Oh, it’s that obvious, is it?” Lena smirks, taking a bite of what is apparently- thankfully- a tuna sushi roll. She shifts all the ones that look like salmon onto Kara’s plate, earning a toothy grin.

“Well, yeah,” Kara snorts, shoving a roll into her mouth. “You look amazing in red. She has no idea what she’s talking about.”

Lena is thankful that Kara chooses that exact moment to scan the crowd for any potential threats. It gives her just enough time to stop blushing.

 

“The host is headed this way. Want me to make myself scarce?” Kara asks. She knows that the two of them have some business- Lena had told her all about it in the car.

“If you want to, you can. I doubt he’s a danger to anything but my bottom line,” Lena tells her under her breath.

Kara nods and wanders off a bit. Far enough away that she starts up a conversation with another guest, but close enough that she can still see (and hear) Lena.

“Miss Luthor, a pleasure to see you. Especially since I hear you’ve been a bit absent, as of late?”

Lena doesn’t need to force a smile this time. “Just a bit of vacation, Bruce.”

Bruce Wayne nods, sipping at his champagne thoughtfully. “Do you still plan to move forward with your plans for an overhaul?”

“I do. I’ll drag my company into the 21st century, kicking and screaming, if need be,” she assures him confidently.

Bruce Wayne has been the quintessential party boy for over a decade now, ever since he was found to be very much alive, and Lena had been surprised when he actually listened to her intently as she outlined her vision for LuthorCorp’s future. He’d even made several helpful tweaks and suggestions, and she’d carried those through into her own plans. They’d been in contact since then, and he’d been immensely cooperative. Bruce Wayne may well be a philandering, loudmouthed, arrogant spoiled, rich playboy. But he is not stupid.

And Lillian may pride herself on the Luthor fortune, but it’s nothing compared to the Wayne’s. So, even though they’re technically competitors, Lena had allowed Wayne Enterprises to finance part of the re-launch, in exchange for a seat on the board and some stock holdings, to ensure that their interests would be heard. It was unusual, surely, but it was a small stock plan, and she was clearing certain members of the board anyway, buying back their shares when they resigned. Her mother and brother would have conniptions when they found out. Lex had always disliked Bruce Wayne, saying he was a lazy freeloader living off money he didn’t make.

“I look forward to seeing that, Lena. You know that you have Wayne Industries’ full support in this venture. Whatever you need, I’m happy to provide,” Bruce says, a half-smile playing at his mouth. He sets his glass of champagne down and turns to her. “Would you care to dance?”

She nods and allows him to lead her to the floor. She’s been dancing with eligible bachelors since she was 13, so this is nothing new. And for all the jocularity and boastfulness Bruce Wayne is known for, he’s always a perfect gentleman with her. Perhaps because they’ve been acquainted for so long, perhaps because he’s aware of the fact that she has absolutely no interest in him or his money- outside of it benefitting her own company. Lillian had once tried to arrange a match between them, but the idea was quickly dismissed by all involved parties. Bruce had no plans to settle down anytime soon, and Lena had no plans to settle down with Bruce.

“So, who is that blonde Amazon you brought with you this evening?”  Bruce asks lightly, flashing a charming smile.

“She’s a friend,” Lena says coyly as he leads her gracefully through a turn.

“A good friend?” he inquires, still grinning knowingly at her.

“Just a friend, but yes, a good one. Better than I probably deserve,” she laughs lightly.

“Now, Miss Luthor, you’re an heiress to a vast family fortune. And you also happen to be the genius, educated CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. You deserve only the best,” he tells her lightly. “Whatever the thing may be, you should have the best of it.”

She huffs at him a bit, shaking her head and smiling. “And to think, people consider you a pig and a moron.”

“All part of the plan; this way, they never ask me any questions,” he says with a wink. “So really, who is she? She looks familiar…”

“Oh, she was an officer with the Metropolis Police. Apparently a rather good one. And I believe you know her cousin, Clark Kent? He’s done quite a few interviews with you, over the years.”

The song ends, and Bruce nods thoughtfully as he leads her off the floor. “I do. He’s a bit of a dweeb, that one, but a good guy all the same. I didn’t realize he had any cousins.”

“Would you like me to introduce you?” she offers.

He smiles down at her. “I would.”

 

“Kara, I’d like to introduce you to Bruce Wayne, an old acquaintance of mine,” Lena says.

Kara’s eyes widen, as does Bruce’s smug grin. “It- it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Wayne.”

Bruce shakes her hand, squeezing harder than necessary, just to test a theory. The pretty young woman- whose eyes are strikingly similar to Clark’s- doesn’t even blink at the pressure that should crack bone. “A pleasure, Miss…?”

“Danvers. Kara Danvers,” she says. Kal has told her about Bruce Wayne, how he plays the billionaire buffoon by day and the vigilante hero of Gotham by night. Funny, the man standing before her looks totally at home in this world, like he’s never seen the dark alleys and abandoned warehouses Batman frequents. She supposes that’s probably the point.

“Kara. Lovely name.”

“Thanks. I, uh, got it for my birthday,” she jokes, adjusting her glasses.

Lena snorts a bit at that. Kara is reliably herself in any situation.

“So what do you do, Miss Danvers? Are you following in the family footsteps, becoming just like your older cousin? He’s an… acquaintance of mine. We’ve worked together a few times.”

So he knows too. Good, that’s at least easier to navigate, although she’s going to have to kill Kal later for revealing her identity without her permission. “No, I’m afraid not. I was a member of the MPD, but I’m moving to National City, to finish my degree.”

“What are you studying?”

“Ha, that’s really the million-dollar question, right now,” Kara laughs a bit awkwardly. At his and Lena’s bemused looks, so explains. “I started a degree in journalism and communications a few years ago, but I had to leave school. Right now, I’m trying to figure out what it is that I want to do.”

“You won’t continue in that? Or Criminal Justice?” Bruce asks, watching her intently.

“I don’t think so,” Kara admits. “I want to help people in a different way, I think. I just don’t really know how. Does that make any sense?”

“It does,” he says thoughtfully. “I’ve felt that way myself. I know Lena has felt much the same. People with the power to do good are obligated to do so. At times, it can be frustrating, trying to find the best way to go about it. My advice is to figure out what you have to offer the world; money, influence, intelligence, compassion, whatever. That’s the thing that will lead you to where you’re supposed to be.”

Kara stares a bit, knowing that this is Batman, not Bruce Wayne, giving this advice. “Thank you, that’s… really well said.”

“Yes, well, I went to several colleges on my family’s dime, the least I can do is dispense advice to strangers,” he smirks, swallowing the rest of his champagne in a single gulp. And just like that, Bruce Wayne is back, winking as he says, “Especially when the stranger is a beautiful young woman.”

Kara flushes a bit, adjusts her glasses, and Lena’s jaw ticks. Lena may be very gay, but she isn’t blind, and Bruce is a particularly handsome man. She places a hand on Kara’s arm and smiles tightly. “Easy, Bruce, you’ll scare off my date.”

He grins lazily at Lena and raises his hands in mock-surrender. “Alright, my apologies. I should be getting back, anyways. I’m sure my CEO is looking for me, probably found someone I haven’t shaken hands with for an entire hour- and what a tragedy that would be. Lena, it’s always a pleasure. I look forward to doing business with you in the future. Miss Danvers, lovely to meet you. Good luck, in National City. I’m sure there’s something waiting there for you.”

They bid him goodbye and he vanishes back into the crowd.

“He… was not what I expected,” Kara says slowly.

“He has that effect on people,” Lena mutters. “He’s smarter than most people give him credit for, not that he’ll ever do anything with it.”

“Did you get your business stuff sorted out?” Kara asks.

“We did, everything is in order,” Lena says, satisfied.

“So, do we need to stay? Because as much as I enjoy all these people, and worrying if someone is going to try to kill you, I’d rather be at home watching Christmas movies in my pajamas,” Kara tells Lena with a small smile.

Lena matches it. “We don’t need to stay any longer, no. If we do, I may borrow your gun and shoot some of them myself. And just between us? I wouldn’t say no to a Christmas movie.”

Kara chuckles as she offers Lena her arm and they start toward the exit together. “I already asked what’s on the docket. They’re just starting Last Holiday, and then Alex is pulling for Die Hard. It’s her favorite.”

Lena’s brow scrunches. “Die Hard is a Bruce Willis movie, right?”

Kara’s thrilled. “You’ve seen it! I knew there was no way you’d never seen a Christmas movie!”

Lena’s smiling bemusedly. “I haven’t, actually. But that’s not a Christmas movie, is it?”

“Don’t let Alex or Winn hear you say that, it’s a whole thing with the-“

Kara hears a loud yelp on the other side of the doors they’re walking toward, and before she can react to this information, said doors swing open with a loud bang! Several men stroll into the room, all heavily armed, and start to spread out through the increasingly alarmed crowd. One has a hard smile on his face, and his hands rest on the butt of a rifle strapped to his shoulder. In a booming baritone, he calls, “Now, folks, no need to be alarmed. This is a robbery; all jewelry, wallets, and silver spoons are going to be collected by my associates, here. We just want your money and your shiny stuff, but no funny business.” The crowd is murmuring louder every second, and the man- clearly the leader- grins wider, skin stretched taut over his face. “I do wanna know one thing, though;

“Has anyone Seen Lena Luthor? Because we’re her ride home.”

Chapter Text

Without thinking, Kara covers Lena, pushing her to the ground. She looks around for a moment before spotting a table nearby and rolling the two of them underneath. Lena’s looking at her, a bit pale and wide-eyed.

“Kara, what are you doing, I can’t hide under here! If someone gets hurt-“

Kara puts a finger to her lips and shakes her head. Lena nods shakily, sucking in a shallow breath, and Kara pulls a phone from her dress. She dials 911 and identifies herself in a hushed voice, outlining the situation for the operator, who tells her to stay where she is, that help is on the way.

Except, Kara knows that it isn’t. Can hear the sirens headed in the opposite direction, toward a fire she hears roaring through The Narrows on the other side of town. She decides to be a bit more proactive and calls Maggie.

“Hey, Little Danvers, don’t you know it’s rude to call someone while you’re on a da-”

“Maggie, the building the party is in is under attack. They’re taking hostages and looking for Lena,” Kara says in a rush, cutting her off. “I need your friends at GCPD here right now.”

Maggie, to her credit, is all business in an instant. “Copy. I’ll call them right now. Clark said he’s on his way too.”

Kara snorts. “Yeah, he doesn’t need to bother. This is Bruce Wayne’s party.”

There’s a beat of silence, followed by hysterical laughter. “Oh, those poor bastards. Of all the fuckin’ parties in all the fuckin’ world, they try to hold up the one Batman is hosting.”

Lena’s looking at her like she’s mildly insane. “Hey, Mags, I gotta go. We’re both gonna be fine.”

“I know that, Little Danvers.”

She cuts off the call with a sigh. Turning to Lena, she tries to smile reassuringly. “Everything’s gonna be fine, Lena.”

“What does Bruce hosting the party have to do with anything? Why was Maggie laughing?”

“Well, y’see-“

There’s the ring of shattering glass and a loud thud, followed by yelling and heavy gunfire. The men with guns are shouting about ‘The Bat’ and then the crowded ballroom goes totally dark. There’s more yelling, and some yelps of pain as Batman cuts through the panicked partygoers like a shark through water. She winces when her super hearing picks up the distinct sound of snapping bone. “Lena, stay right here, okay? I wanna see what’s going on.”

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Lena hisses. “You’re going to get yourself shot, Kara.”

“Hey, they’re not the only ones with guns,” Kara says, pulling her pistol from the holster on her thigh.

More bones snapping, but Bruce also grunts as something solid impacts his ribs.  He’s still fighting, but it was clearly a wicked hit, and it’s slowed him, just a hair.

“Kara, they- if you get out from under this table, then so do I.”

“I promise I won’t get hurt,” Kara assures her, giving her hand a squeeze. “Give me just a minute, and if I’m not back in a single minute, you can kick my butt.”

“Not worth- Kara! Kara, get back here!

But Kara has zipped off. The sounds of something inhumanly hard impacting with flesh are scattered through the room, a kick to the thigh here breaking a femur, a shove to the chest pushing all the air from someone’s lungs there. Kara’s little more than a blur of painful retribution in the dark. She can hear fighting on the far side of the room, and she makes her way in that direction, incapacitating bad guys almost carelessly as she goes. “You guys seriously have the worst timing,” she tells one of them matter-of-factly, his fist caught in her hand, and then throws him casually across the room.

 It’s a mere moment later that she skids to a halt at Batman’s side, chest heaving a bit. “Man, that was fun, do you do this all the time? Is it always such a rush?” she babbles.

Bruce sighs. “Not following in the family business, right?”

Kara looks around to see that the room is still totally dark and thus no one had seen a thing. “Nah, we already have Superman.”

“We do, but you’re faster.” There’s a slight lift at the corner of his mouth that she thinks might indicate a smile.

Kara grins proudly before she’s darting back under the table with Lena. Lena who looks absolutely terrified. Lena who jumps when Kara settles beside her, until she realizes who it is. “Hey, Batman got all of them. I didn’t even get to see anything.”

“It’s over?” Lena asks. Her voice is shockingly steady, for all the air she seems to be sucking in.

“Over and done,” Kara assures her. “Now, do you wanna stay and talk to the cops, or get outta here like we were already gone before this all went down?” Kara’s hoping for the latter, but she’s prepared either way. After all, it’s not like she’s never lied on a police report before, to cover her abilities.

“I’d much rather we go home. Now,” Lena says, and Kara grabs her hand and pulls her out from under the table and around the people scattered in the dark room. She’d found a secret exit when she was running around, and they make use of it now, quickly letting themselves into the elevator as soon as they can (thankfully, the men upstairs seem to have shot out the camera in there) before casually climbing into the car and pulling away just as Kara hears police sirens in the distance. Lena slumps in her seat with relief.

“At least no one got hurt. Well, except the bad guys. They for sure got hurt. Like, wow, they all need to go to the hospital, probably. I mean, I wouldn’t know, I’m basically the only non-doctor in this family, and it’s not like I have X-ray vision or anything. And I mean, they sorta deserve it, trying to rob everyone. And take you… somewhere. Like honestly, they’re your ‘ride home’? Like anyone’s gonna buy that. I’m rambling, sorry, I’ll shut up.”

“God, this is a fucking nightmare,” Lena moans, scrubbing her hands over her face and destroying her makeup in the process. “Thank god no one got hurt. I just- you were right. You were all right, to tell me not to go, and I did anyways instead of trying to just meet with Bruce some other day. You were right, and I was wrong.”

“Oh, hey, Lena, it’s not about that,” Kara assures her, taking her eyes off the road for just a second so they can lock with Lena’s. “I would’ve rather been wrong, believe me. And it’s not your fault, I mean, that place could’ve been robbed anyways. And no one got hurt, so nothing’s really wrong, right? It’s not your fault. I mean, you weren’t the one with the gun. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

’Nothing’s really wrong?’ I endangered those people’s lives, just by existing in the same space as they were! That’s… fuck, that’s wrong,” Lena snaps sharply. “It’s wrong. I was wrong. I’m not going to feel better about it. I hid while other people were in danger because of me. I hid while you were in danger! And the fact that you’re trying to make this seem even a little okay is just… really pissing me off, and if you actually knew me, knew anything about me, you’d know that. But you don’t so just… just don’t.”

Kara opens her mouth, only to close it again, nodding once.

The remainder of the ride to Midvale is silent. It’s a long two hours.

               

When they arrive, the house is quiet, though everyone is in the living room, waiting for them. Alex immediately pulls Kara into a painfully tight hug, as do Eliza and Maggie. “Don’t fucking scare us like that, Kara. Not ever.”

Kara nods repentantly, and turns to see that Lena is halfway up the stairs. They watch her feet disappear, and a few moments later the door to the bathroom closes. Kara and Clark can hear the lock sliding into place.

Maggie’s brow furrows. “Is she alright?”

Kara huffs out a sigh and shakes her head, “No, I don’t think so. I’m gonna go check on her.”

She turns to leave, but hears a loud intake of air and Alex is gripping her arm. “Kara, did you get shot?”

Her brow crinkles as she replies, “I don’t think so, why?”

Alex cocks a brow and pokes the flesh of her back, unimpeded by the fabric that should be there. Sure enough, there’s a perfectly round hole in the middle of the back of Alex’s dress.

Kara grins sheepishly. “Whoops?”

“Yeah, whoops is right. You owe me a new dress,” Alex scolds, poking her sister in the chest for emphasis.

“Make this one tinier,” Maggie stage whispers. At her fiancée’s dirty look, she becomes defensive, “What? I like you in tiny dresses.”

“Still in the room, Maggie,” Eliza says wryly.

“Right, sorry, Mom. But I do, though.”

Kara rolls her eyes and scurries up the stairs, leaving her family to their bickering. She changes swiftly into the most comfortable clothes she owns; ancient basketball team sweats and a shirt that’s nearly sheer from wear, both worn and washed to perfect softness. And then, she sits on the bed, and waits.

Lena comes in a few minutes later, and Kara’s pretty sure that it’s the first time she’s ever seen her friend without makeup. She’s wearing joggers and a tank top that probably cost more than Kara’s rent, judging by the designer label on the waistband, and her face is clear of makeup. She’s toweling her hair when she walks in, freezing for half a step when she notices Kara sitting on her bed.

“Hey,” Kara offers. Lena doesn’t respond beyond cocking an eyebrow at her. It doesn’t have quite the same effect, when she’s not wearing her makeup. Kara swallows harshly. “So, I wanted to say… I’m sorry.”

This does actually manage to hold Lena’s attention. “For what?”

“I left you,” Kara says simply. “Under the table. I left you there, when I promised to protect you, and that… it sucked, that I did that, and I’m sorry. And I’m sorry for not- for trying to make you feel better. Wait, no, that’s- that’s not what I’m trying to say. I, um, I’m sorry if I made you feel worse, trying to make you feel better. I’m, um, I’m good at facing down criminals, and at fixing problems for people, but like, actual people stuff… I really suck at it. I hate when the people I care about are hurting, and you’re hurting, and I tried to fix it, but I can’t. And, I’m not really good at having things that I can’t fix. So, I’m sorry, for trying to fix it, instead of just, being a friend. And I shouldn’t have left you.”

Lena’s been watching Kara carefully this whole time, letting her ramble, and it occurs to Kara that Lena is one of the few people outside her immediate family who lets her ramble, only interrupting Kara if she’s getting herself worked up or upset. She sits beside Kara on the bed, staring contemplatively at her hands. It’s several minutes before she speaks, but Kara’s trying to be patient, waiting for her to want to talk.

“My whole life,” Lena starts, “I’ve been told how lucky I was. That I got adopted by the Luthors, that I had so much given to me, so many opportunities. That I was smart, that I’m beautiful, that I can buy whatever I want, whenever I want, do anything I like as soon as the thought occurs to me. I have private jets- plural. I have so many cars, I couldn’t drive all of them in six months if I drove a different one every day. I have literally hundreds of patents to my name; inventions, designs, ideas, all to help build a better world. I’m very lucky. I’ve always been so lucky. And in exchange, all that was ever demanded of me was one thing; that I be perfect.

“I can speak five languages, and I’m working on becoming fluent in a sixth. I can play piano, viola, and violin. I run three hospitals, here and in National City, and they’re some of the best in the country, simply from the resources they have access to. I can dance with, flirt with, outwit, outsmart, and charm damn near anyone. I am always at my company’s beck and call. I took diction lessons when I first moved to the US, so that I’d speak properly, and not embarrass my new family. I’m exactly what I was always supposed to be. More than, even. And it still isn’t enough. Red still isn’t my color. I’m never going to be quite perfect enough, not for my mother, not for the press, not for my board, not for anyone.” She takes in a deep, breath that Kara hears hitch in her throat. “And after this, god, how can I do anything, knowing that I could put people in danger, just because I exist? Just because my mother, or Cadmus, or some maniac in prison wants something from me? Because honest to god, if I could figure out what they wanted, they could have it. They can have the money, or the jets, or the cars or the fucking Luthor name that I was so lucky to get brought up with. I don’t care, anymore. I am tired of never being quite perfect enough.”

Kara sits there for a moment, unsure of what to do, before she gently places her hand on Lena’s, where it’d fallen between them on the bed in the midst of her tirade. Lena doesn’t look at her, but she doesn’t pull away, either, so Kara takes that as a good sign.

“I’m sorry, for going off on you in the car,” Lena says quietly. “I have a bit of a temper, I’m told, and I- I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that. It won’t happen again.”

“Lena, I don’t want you to be perfect,” she says. “I want you to be safe. I want you to be yourself. And if you need to yell and vent, then I want you to do that, too.” It’s a lame attempt at a joke, and it falls flat. Lena still isn’t looking at her, but Kara’s sharp hearing lets her be privy to the sound of a single tear hitting Lena’s thigh. “People are going to think what they think, regardless of what you do and how much good you put into the world. Some people just kinda suck.” Lena snorts out a harsh laugh at that, and Kara continues, emboldened. “You’re amazing because of who you are. I think you’d still be crazy smart, and talented, and driven, even if you’d never been a Luthor. I think you’d be tinkering with something that’d change the world in your basement, trying to put a fully electric engine in some ridiculous, beat-up Yugo. I think you’d find crazy expensive designer stuff in a thrift shop, somewhere, and then strut around in it and brag about how it was only five dollars. I think you’d be the same, at your core, because it’s who you are. And I don’t think that your mother has any right to claim any part of you.”

Lena breathes deeply beside her. “I’d never drive a Yugo.”

Kara rolls her eyes. “And, you don’t have to be perfect around me, or try to be, ‘cause I already know you’re not.”

Lena finally looks over at her, eyes a bit teary but face unmistakably set in a challenge. “Is that so?”

Kara nods gravely. “Well, first off, you apparently don’t watch Christmas movies, which is weird and wrong-“

“I’m a bit busy, usually,” Lena says wryly.

“-second, you can’t drive in snowstorms. This is a serious character flaw, and you need to work on it-”

“Alright, seriously, it was literally one time. And I live in California!”

“-third, you can’t skate to save your life. It was like Bambi on ice, in that rink-”

“I hadn’t skated in years!” Lena protests, the hint of a laugh in her voice.

“Fourth, you snore, which is, y’know, the worst,” Kara continues blithely.

Lena gasps in outrage. “Kara Danvers, you take that back this instant. I do not snore!”

“You do, actually. Like a chainsaw, or a bear mid-hibernation. Fifth, you work too much, even when you’re on vacation-”

“I run a huge company, I don’t get vacation,” Lena remarks.

“Sixth, you interrupt people when they’re talking…”

And at this, Lena does, finally, laugh.

 

Hours later, Kara awakens to the sound of a heart thundering in a chest, of rapid breaths and a body turning in on itself. To muffled sounds of clear distress and a whimpered, “Don’t, I’m sorry.”

Lena. Of course it’s Lena. She’s had a pretty bad day, after all.

Kara hops out of bed and pads over to the other bed, where her friend is clearly having a nightmare. “Hey, Lena, it’s alright. It’s just a dream.” Lena thrashes a bit but doesn’t awaken, breath getting shallower by the second. Kara rests one hand on her arm, the other on her hip, hoping the pressure will wake her. “Lena, you’re safe, it’s a dream.”

“No, I don’t- I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Lena sobs, trembling. Still not awake.

At this, Kara decides that she needs to wake up, and, gently as she can, runs the hand on Lena’s arm over the skin, using the other to shake her slightly. “Lena, hey, you’re alright, you’re with me. You’re fine, you just gotta wake up. Open your eyes.”

The shaking jolts her awake, and for a moment, all Kara registers in the low light is the absolute fear in Lena’s eyes.

“Hey,” she says again gently, smiling as comfortingly as she can. “You had a nightmare, I was just waking you up.”

Lena rolls onto her back and nods, hands covering her face. “I’m sorry, for waking you.”

Kara’s brow crinkles. “Do- do you get nightmares a lot?”

Lena shrugs, scrubs the heels of her hands against her eyes before pulling her hands away from her face. “Not a lot, no. Not anymore. I used to, but I was a child. All children have nightmares.” She doesn’t mention that most of hers are about bright lights, blinding as they move toward her. Or the ones of Lillian, towering over her, hand raised, poised to slap her senseless. Or the way she sees other people look at her, how they whisper.

Very few of her dreams have ever been about monsters. Or at least, not the kind that live under beds.

Kara sits on the edge of the bed, face sympathetic in the moonlight streaming through the window. “I got them a lot, too. After my parents died. Used to drive Alex half-crazy, when I’d come in here sobbing. That’s why we started sharing a room, so she could wake me up. It always made me feel better to talk about them.”

Kara’s looking at Lena pointedly, and she sighs. “I usually just try to ignore it,” Lena admits. “Go back to sleep, or start work early.”

“Does that help?” Kara asks softly, already knowing the answer.

Lena’s mouth twists into a bitter smile. “No, it doesn’t. But it makes me feel better, for a little while.  I’m excellent at avoidance.”

“I can believe that. But do you want to? Talk about it, I mean? It, um, it might help you feel better. Like, actual better, not ‘save this inconvenient emotion for never’ better.”

Lena huffs out a laugh before she shrugs. “It was about tonight. Only, it went a lot worse in the dream.”

Kara hums beside her, but otherwise stays quiet.

“A lot of people died. And it was my fault, and everything I wanted to do and be just… it didn’t matter, because all those people were dead,” Lena continues quietly. “God, this is stupid, it was just a dream, I shouldn’t let it affect me so much.”

Kara places a hand on her arm, thumb rubbing against her skin soothingly. “Is there anything you need, to feel better?”

Lena shrugs self-consciously. “I don’t honestly know. No one’s ever asked me that before. When I was young, I’d go to Lex’s room, and we’d play games until one of us fell asleep, or he’d tell me ridiculous stories.”

Kara nods decisively. “Alright, scoot over.”

“Kara, what-“

“When I have nightmares-“ Lena carefully notes the way she says have, and not had “-it always helps to have someone close by. Usually it’s Alex, or Clark, or Lois, or Lucy a few times. But it always makes me feel safer. So I’m gonna sleep with you, tonight, even though this bed is just stupid tiny.” Noticing how quiet Lena’s been through all of this, Kara panics. “Unless you don’t want me to, that’s totally fine, I just- it makes me feel a lot better, and I thought it might make you feel better too, and Rao, I’ve made this all awkward when I was just trying to make you feel safe and now it’s way worse. Sorry, I’ll just-” and then, Lena’s moving over so Kara can slip into the bed beside her. Kara lies on her side, facing Lena, who’s on her back, trying to give the CEO as much room as she can. But Lena’s so far over on the bed that she’s half-dangling over the edge. Kara huffs at this, throwing an arm across Lena and pulling her closer. “It’s hard to feel safe enough to fall asleep if you’re worried about falling off the bed, Lena.” She’s a bit worried at how quiet her friend is being, and she asks, “Is this okay?”

Lena nods and swallows loudly, hesitantly placing a hand on the arm Kara’s draped across her stomach. “It’s okay. Thank you, for asking.”

Kara nods happily. “Alex says that’s something I need to be more careful about, asking if people are okay with me hugging them, and stuff. She says I’m really tactile and other people aren’t. So I’ve been working on that, especially with you, because you don’t always seem to like hugs or anything, so I try to remember to ask...”

Lena nods, relaxing a bit as the blonde beside her mumbles softly, the hum of her voice just inches from her ear lulling her back to drowsiness.

Kara clearly notices this, and continues talking, mostly about nothing. About her work, and things she and Alex had gotten up to when they were younger. About how much she loves star-gazing, and ice cream, and about her plans for the solstice in a few days. About Alex’s motorcycle and Winn’s computer that he’s building and James’ camera that’s never far from reach, and Clark’s enduring struggles with Perry White. About anything and everything that pops into her head, until she feels Lena’s breathing get slow and even under her arm.

Kara smiles, because when she’s asleep and relaxed and free of makeup and her forehead isn’t knotted by stress or worry, Lena looks so young. It’s easy to forget, with how accomplished she is, that she’s only 23. Someone so young doesn’t deserve to carry the weight Lena does.

Finally convinced that Lena is well and truly asleep, Kara stops talking, letting the quiet hang there, for a moment, before she whispers, “Goodnight, Lena. Sweet dreams.”

As she drifts off to sleep herself, Kara tries really hard not to dwell on how nice it is to fall asleep next to Lena Luthor.

 

Chapter Text

Lena wakes to the smell of vanilla. She blinks blearily, attempting to figure out why, and then freezes when she feels a puff of breath against her shoulder.

She turns slightly to see Kara’s face tucked into her shoulder, blonde hair wild and mouth slightly open. Her arm is slung across Lena’s body, heavy but not unpleasantly so, and when Lena freezes momentarily, she mumbles, “I’ve got you” and tugs Lena slightly closer, nuzzling her face against Lena’s shoulder comfortingly.

Lena’s pretty sure she’s forgotten how to breathe, as the events of late last night come crashing back into her mind; the men storming into Bruce’s party, Kara leaving her under a table, she and Kara arguing, then Kara apologizing. Her nightmare, and Kara climbing into her tiny twin bed to help her get back to sleep, talking about nothing until Lena was pulled under by the steady rhythm and soothing lilt of her voice. It’s a lot to process sans coffee. She tries to extricate herself, but evidently Kara is having none of it, and if Lena hadn’t known that her friend was particularly strong before, she certainly does now. Trying to move her is like trying to blow a mountain down with a kazoo. Lena eventually gives up, unsure of what to do with herself.

“’s early, stop thinkin’ s’ loud,” Kara mumbles. “Stay in bed. Sleep.”

And so, unable to really do anything else, Lena does exactly that. It is still early, after all-the sun isn’t even up.

And besides, she hasn't slept so well in months. Maybe Kara's right. A few more minutes won't hurt.

**********

Kara wakes to warmth.

This isn’t totally surprising- she runs hotter than humans, and is therefore always warm, but it’s a type of warmth she’s used to, from years of climbing into bed with someone else when she needs to know that she’s not alone in the dark. It’s the warmth of someone else beside her.

Her eyes flicker open to see Lena, trapped halfway under her weight but sleeping fairly peacefully in the early morning light. Her face is still relaxed, her breaths deep and even, and there’s no lingering tension in her frame. One of her hands is twisted loosely in the stomach of Kara’s shirt. She’s even snoring lightly. Kara grins, pleased that her friend has managed to get a decent night’s rest. Especially considering the emotionally fraught night before.

Kara decides that she should get up, rather than continue to stare at her sleeping friend like a total creep, and carefully starts to hover off of the little bed, gently untangling herself from Lena and relaxing only when she lands on the ground beside the bed having avoided waking her. Kara was never one to willingly rise with the sun as a child, although it’d been a requirement. Ever since landing on Earth, however, she’s felt the sun’s first rays on her skin and woken up, buzzing with energy and generally unable to continue sleeping. Blackout curtains help, to an extent, but that same restlessness fills her regardless, so sleeping in is never really an option.

She stretches and fixes the blanket, making sure Lena is more fully covered, before treading quietly downstairs. She finds Martha and Clark already in the kitchen, talking quietly over coffee, and smiles. Martha has always been warm to Kara, and she’d been invaluable to Eliza and Jeremiah when Kara had first arrived. The older woman is the rare member of their extended family who usually rises earlier than she and Clark do- a lifetime of conditioning working on a farm will do that, she supposes. She grabs a mug of coffee herself, dumping in sugar and flavored creamer, before perching on the stool beside Martha.

“Good morning, Kara,” Martha greets her, smiling gently. “Did you get everything sorted out with Lena?”

Kara nods, smiling a bit. “I think so, yeah. I mean, gosh, the whole thing still… really sucks, but I think she’ll be okay.”

“Good. You have that effect on people, so calm and steady. Must run in the family,” Martha says, nudging her son with an elbow and drawing out a fond smile. “I know she’s been through a lot already. Poor girl.”

“She has,” Kara confirms softly. “She hasn’t had the easiest time.”

“Lex has that effect on people,” Clark mutters, a bit dark, more than a touch bitter. “So does her mother, come to think of it.”

“Clark,” Martha says warningly, tone sharper than Kara usually hears from her.

Her cousin slumps slightly, the broadness of his shoulders hunching, lessening somehow under his mother’s reproach.

Martha fixes him with a firm look. “No one is who their family was, Clark. Else you’d be a farmer and I’d rob banks.”

Kara snickers at the casual mention of something that’d blown Clark’s mind at Christmakah a few years ago.

“Some people don’t get taken into warm places, like you and Kara were lucky enough to,” Martha continues. “They grow up in shadows and under a weight they don’t deserve. Your lives could have been so much different, both of you.”

Clark and Kara are quiet, contemplative. Finally Clark nods. Clark may be many things, may do many things, but one thing that’s always been true is that he wants to do good. He wants to help and defend. It’s hard for him, she knows, to move past a point that’s so sore, so raw. Lex had been his best friend. And then, one day, he just… wasn’t. It’s been a few years- since before Kara had moved in with him and Lois, but she knows that losing someone who’s still alive is… hard. She’s learned to forgive the fact that she’d first learned the lesson at Clark’s hands. He’s since made up for it.

Martha stands and presses a kiss to Clark’s and Kara’s temples before clapping her hands together. “Enough heavy stuff. Make yourselves useful and help me with breakfast. I can never remember what Maggie can eat.”

Grateful for the change in mood, they stand and begin the familiar flow of preparing breakfast. Soon enough Eliza joins them, then Lucy, and eventually everyone is sleepily herded from their beds to breakfast, where Maggie is delighted to discover vegan pancakes and soy sausages that she and Lena both like but everyone else is quietly horrified by.

“Lena, can you help with the drone today?” Winn asks in between bites. He’s somehow found himself in the dangerous position of sitting between Kara and Clark, and while he loves and admires them both, they will also literally eat all of the food if he’s too slow. “I wanted to see how fast we can make it with the new mods.”

She grins and nods at him, glad for the distraction from what the press must be saying about her. “Of course. And you wanted to work on the computer today too, right?”

He nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, that’d be awesome! I’ve been trying to improve on the…”

“So sled races are today,” Kara says, pulling Alex’s attention from the nerdy tech talk. Her sister smirks.

“They are, and I’m gonna wipe the snow with you,” Alex taunts.

“Yeah, like you did with the snowmen?” Kara asks, sticking her tongue out impishly.

“Girls, chill out, please,” Eliza laughs. “Settle it on the hill like women.” She and Martha share a fond, long-suffering look at opposite ends of the table.

“Clark, wanna get some photography lessons in today?” James asks.

Clark’s brow furrows. “I don’t need photography lessons, Jimmy.”

“I’ve seen your last few pieces, dude. You really do,” James grins at his oldest friend, laughing at his squawk of amused indignation and the threats against his person until Clark begrudgingly agrees to spend a few hours brushing up a little.

“Lucy, what are you doing?” At Lois’ question, the entire table pauses to watch with a sort of fascinated horror.

“Making a breakfast club sandwich,” Lucy replies, focused on her concoction. She’s made a sandwich of eggs, bacon, hash browns, syrup, cheese, and sausage, using pancakes as the bread. “I had one once, when I was at a Coast Guard base in Michigan, and it was just… the best.” It’s almost four inches high, and seems massive in her small hands, but she’s determined and manages to take a huge bite. She grins triumphantly at her sister, cheeks bulging out like a chipmunk.

Lois just laughs, though almost everyone else looks slightly nauseated. The exception to this is Kara, who’s studying the items on the table with renewed interest. She meets Clark’s gaze over Winn’s head, and without a word they each begin assembling the largest sandwich they can.

Alex groans and returns her attention to Winn and Lena’s conversation, ignoring the way Maggie is cheering on Kara and Clark’s efforts. Lucy is grinning smugly, halfway through her sandwich.

“You’re such a little shit, Luce,” Lois tells her, smirking.

Lucy shrugs and continues eating her sandwich. She has enough orderly breakfasts in her life. She wants some chaos, now and then. And she’s the head of a secret military organization that protects the public from dangerous aliens. So she can do whatever she wants, Lois.

               

After breakfast, they begin to split up for the day, James and Clark driving off to work on Clark’s evidently appalling photo skills, Alex, Maggie, and Kara getting ready to head to the festival for the sled races (although Lena and Winn promise to join them later). Lucy claims that she has work to do and retreats to her laptop. Eliza and Martha just want to watch TV and drink coffee in peace for a bit, so all of the ‘kids’ are banned from the living room.

“We’re all adults!” Winn protests, gathering up the drone pieces he has scattered across the coffee table. At Maggie’s pointed look at the toy drone he’s clutching, he scowls.

“Well, except for Luthor,” Alex snarks. “She’s still a baby.”

Lena stiffens for a moment, wondering if this is a jab at how she’d had nightmares the night before, but at the lack of anything malicious in Alex’s dark eyes, she relaxes. This is a joke about her age. She can handle that. “Excuse you, I’m the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation.”

“Very impressive, for a baby,” Maggie grins. “Do you sign contracts in crayon, or just dunk your hand in some paint and use a tiny handprint as a signature?”

“Guys, she’s not a baby, leave her alone,” Kara says.

But it’s no use. Alex and Maggie are both eldest siblings, and have honed in on a younger sibling who has gone without fond mockery for too long. “Aw, Little Danvers sticking up for Little Luthor,” Maggie coos.

“Babies of a feather stick together,” Alex agrees, grinning. She knows full well that technically, Kara is older than she is- by a couple decades. However, she also knows that Kara has no real way to point this out in front of Lena and is taking full advantage of the situation.

“You’re talking to two badass ladies, Sawyer,” Lucy says. Kara grins appreciatively at her.

Yes. Thank you, Lucy. See, we’re not babies,” Kara says.

“Younger sisters of the world unite!” Lucy yells, raising a fist in solidarity and never taking her eyes off her laptop screen

“Well no, you and Little Lane are old enough, I guess. Little Luthor, however, is 23, and therefore essentially 12,” Maggie says. Lena shoots her a look and she raises her hands in playful surrender. “Hey, Luthor, I don’t know what to tell ya, I don’t make the rules.”

“It’s not my fault you’re all old,” Lena smirks, seeming to take the teasing rather well. Winn pouts at her, and she laughs it off, standing up and following him out to the garage where they’ve been banished.

Kara shoves at her sister and former partner lightly, smiling fondly as they head toward the door, but is stopped by a heavy hand on her shoulder. Turning, she sees Clark, his jaw tight and dark brows drawn together over troubled blue eyes. “Clark? What’s going on?”

His jaw ticks. “We need to talk. Now.

Kara looks at Alex and Maggie, smiling tightly. “Looks like I’m gonna miss the race after all.”

************

They land somewhere deep in the woods. It’s almost eerie, how quiet everything is, and Kara finds herself a bit unsettled. “Kal, what’s-“

“A man is claiming that an angel saved him and several others from a fire in Midvale. An angel with blonde hair who could hold up a building. And I got a very interesting call last night, from Bruce Wayne, of all people. He said you attended his party last night, and helped eject some… unruly guests.”

“Oh, that.”

“Yeah, Kara, that. What were you thinking? What if they’d identified you?”

Kara shrugs. “It was never an issue when I would go out with Superman, I didn’t-“

“Because I can keep the focus off of you, Kara! If I’m front and center in a flashy suit, no one’s looking for the girl in all black helping me land a jet!” he shouts. “And this wasn’t in the middle of the night, this was broad daylight! And then in a room full of people! What if someone had seen you? And what were you doing, helping Batman? He’s crazy!”

Kara feels herself getting angry. “Those people needed help, Kal! I wasn’t going to just let them die! And those men were dangerous, they were going to hurt people, I could feel it!”

“Then cover your face! Make sure they can’t ID you! You are only as safe and free to lead whatever life you want if you stay hidden. From everyone, especially Bruce Wayne! What did Alex say about all this?”

Kara’s silence is telling.

“So you didn’t tell her.” He swipes a hand through his hair in frustration. “”Kara, I’m trying to protect you, I don’t want this life for you. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone, and especially not you.”

“Maybe it’s not up to you, Kal! Maybe I’m an adult and can make decisions for myself! And, let’s not forget, I’m older than you!” Kara snaps.

He chuckles, running a hand over his face. “God, this is you joining the police all over again, isn’t it?” He takes a deep breath and sinks to sit on a fallen tree. “I’m sorry. I just… I heard people talking about it in town, and I… reacted.”

“Poorly,” Kara mutters, arms crossed firmly over her chest. “I thought… I thought you’d be proud of me.”

“Poorly,” he agrees. “I’m always proud of you, Kara. Whether you’re playing basketball or in a play or graduating from the Academy or plastered all over every magazine in America, I am always so proud of you. And I’m proud of you for saving those people in Midvale, and saving the day last night. But you… you’re it, Kara. You’re the last Kryptonian, the last of my heritage and my family. I could never forgive myself if something happened to you. And now, you’re hanging out with a Luthor-“

Kal,” Kara growls, recently soothed hackles rising immediately. “Back off on that.”

“How can you be so naive?!”

“She is not like them.”

“But it’s… it’s like watching history all over again,” Clark laughs hollowly. “Did you know I met Lex when I saved him from a car wreck?” Kara opens and closes her mouth a few times, unable to form words. “That’s what I thought. His car drove off a bridge, I dove in and pulled him out. We were young, then. Must’ve been freshman year of college for me, but it’s… it’s the same story. A Luthor saved by a Super.”

“I’m not a Super,” Kara says quietly. “You and Alex have made sure of that.”

“No, you’re not. And I’d prefer if you kept it that way,” Clark agrees. “Lena… she’s always been the odd one out, Kara. Even in her own family, she was different-”

“She is different than them, even you can see it.”

“She was alone,” he stresses. “All the time. For years. Never had friends, hobbies, anything. Just school and Lex and endless criticism and coldness from her mother. It was hard to watch, then. But now? Now that Lex is what he is? Warnings are going off for me, Kara. People don’t come out of that unscathed, they don’t manage to escape without an edge, or something they built up inside to keep them safe. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“You’re saying that she’s guilty because she was neglected and hurt?” Kara fumes.

“I’m saying that you need to be careful. I can see the appeal, Kara, I can. She seems charming and brilliant and she wants to be liked and accepted so badly that it’s hard to look past that. But so did Lex.”

Kara’s had enough. “She isn’t her brother, Kal! And I’m not some idiot, who gets taken in by a pretty girl and just forgets every-”

“You were in her bed, Kara!”

The ring of his shout echoes out, the only sound for miles.

What?”

Kal takes a heaving breath. “You were in her bed. All night. And this morning.”

Kara’s mouth has gone dry. “Ho-how?”

“You think I can’t see how you look at each other? That I can’t hear your heartbeat as strongly as you hear mine? You think I didn’t hear you telling her to stay in bed this morning?”

“Kal, it’s not what you think-“

“Is it not? Because I have to say, that’d be a relief.”

Kara laughs mirthlessly. “You’re just… freaking unbelievable. Seriously? I am not a child, Kal-El! I can sleep with whoever I want- just to start. Second, Lena is nothing like the rest of them. She’s trying to make a change in the world, in her company. She’s kind, and generous, and just- Rao! Why am I even- you’re judging someone you barely know!”

“You barely know her either, and you’re just leaping into things!” Kal argues. “She grew up in a house where her only company was two terrorists who hate aliens! Who, specifically, hate me, and all things Kryptonian!”

“At least I ask! I try to get to know her before just… passing judgment on something that isn’t- she hasn’t done anything! She’s done nothing wrong!”

“She was standing next to her brother when those bombs went off. She worked in the labs where he developed those weapons! You were there that day, Kara! You were there when they-“ he swallows harshly “-when they were pulling people out of the wreckage in pieces! You can’t honestly think that she didn’t know!”

“I honestly do,” she tells him coolly. “Because I honestly believe that you didn’t know, either.”

He looks like he’s been sucker punched. “What?”

“I don’t think you knew, that he was so far gone. I think you suspected he was sick, that he was hurting, I think you knew that he feared aliens. But I don’t think you knew. And that you didn’t know kills you, and you just… torture yourself for it. For believing in your friend, for trusting him, for seeing him for all the good he did.” She takes a deep breath. They’ve never talked about this before. Almost everything else, yes, but never this. “You are always trying to protect me, Kal. Ever since I arrived here, you’ve tried to keep me safe. That’s why you hated when I became a cop. It’s why you’d take me on missions with you, sometimes- you knew I’d go alone if you didn’t. It’s why you asked me to move in with you and Lois after you saw how crappy the neighborhood I lived in was, even though I’m invincible. You’re always trying to protect me. You’re trying to protect me right now, from going through the same thing you did.

“But Lena is not her brother, and I am not you. And you do not get to tell me what to do, no matter how much I love you.”

He looks at her then, and he’s just… drained. Like all the righteousness and fire has been snuffed out. “Kara, I-“

“No, Kal, you know what? I have something I need to do today anyways so let’s just… take a while, to cool off. Because right now, I’m just really mad at you, and I don’t wanna hear anything else.” And she launches up into the air, the loud clap telling him she’s broken the sound barrier in her haste.

He sits back down and drops his head into his hands. “Well that did not go the way I hoped it would,” he mutters to himself. “’Sure, Clark, just take her out to the woods and yell at her and accuse her of having sex with evil villains. She’ll be fine with that.’ God, I’m an idiot.” He sighs heavily.

Clark has always admired that Kara sees the best in everyone. That she’s so warm and open and welcoming to anyone who needs help or a friend. He’s always aspired to that, but he’s too serious, too stiff and formal. He’s never been at ease with people the way Kara is, never been able to put them at ease. He’s an image, more than an individual to the public at this point. And he hates that, but it is what it is. He does the good he can. If he’s a bit awkward, so be it.

He’d never meant to jump down Kara’s throat, had never wanted this to become a fight. He regrets that he scorned Kara for the trait that he loves most about her. But he’d been… terrified, when he heard the rumors in town about the inhumanly strong blonde ‘angel’. He’s been terribly worried ever since Lois told him that she’d spent a night out in the company of Lena Luthor. Because Kara is his family, and he’d die before he saw his family get hurt. And he doesn’t want this life for her, and he’s so tired of being worried all the time about everyone, and now he’s just screwed everything up because despite being a journalist he’s no good with words when he’s upset, and-

He sucks in a deep breath. He needs to go talk to Lois. She’ll know what to do.

Not feeling up to flying at the moment, he starts the long trek through the silent, snowy woods.

 **********

“You’re a fucking idiot, Smallville.”

He huffs out a laugh and lets his head fall against the wall with a dull thud. “I’m actually aware of that, thank you.”

“No, really, I mean it, what the hell, Clark? What’d you think was gonna happen? She’d just go along with it?” Lois’ sharp eyes are on him.

“No. Maybe? I dunno. I didn’t mean to be such a, uh-“

“Dick?” she supplies helpfully, tone droll.

“Yeah, that. I just- I got worried about her doing what I do,” he explains. “I couldn’t stand it if she got hurt.”

“You know what’s funny, is that she sees you fly off all the time, into insane danger and fuckery, and never once has she asked you not to. I mean, I have. Ma Kent has. I think even Jimmy has. But never Kara.” He turns his head to meet her gaze. “She’d never ask you too, even though she worries about you terribly. I mean, every fight, every broadcast, she was either planted next to me on the couch or on the phone with me listening to updates on the radio. She’d pace around and gnaw on her lip and eat every pint of ice cream for miles, and she’d wait up until she heard you get back home. Did you know that?”

He shakes his head wordlessly.

“She was sent through infinite light-years of space to protect you. She held you as a baby and was there when you were born, when they named you- she told me so, once. And she’s never asked you to not to be Superman. Because she trusts you. Because she trusts that you’ll do what you think is right and that you won’t do anything reckless- even though you fucking do. All the time. She has never asked you not to be Superman, because she knows it’s who you are, Clark. She never questioned me or my place with you- even when she hated me. Because she trusts you.” She runs a hand soothingly over his chest. “Even when you get hurt, she never lets on how scared she is for you, because she knows how you take everything as your fault. She just cooks too much food and watches noir movies with us until you feel better, or until your powers come back.”

There’s a lump in Clark’s throat that he can’t seem to swallow. “I didn’t- I mean, she’s never said-“

“And she never would, dummy. That’s the whole point. She wants so badly to help people, Clark. Lena Luthor is no exception.” Lois’ voice is low, soft, but her words hit home nonetheless. “It’d probably mean a lot to her if you’d let her.”

He sighs heavily and extricates himself. “Rao, I’ve gotta go talk to her. I’m so stupid, and I just- thank you, for talking to me,” he leans over to press a lingering kiss to her forehead. “I’d be lost and lonely without you.”

She huffs. “Love you, too. Now go apologize to your older cousin for being such a colossal asshole.”

*********

He finds Kara on the coast, sitting in the snow and staring at the stormy blue expanse of the ocean.

“Hey,” he says softly.

“Hi.” Her voice is stiff and she doesn’t meet his gaze.

He settles next to her, crossing his legs and resting his elbows on his knees. “Kara, I- I’m sorry, for what I said. I was being a jerk.”

She doesn’t respond, just drags her fingers through the snow, leaving intricate patterns in their wake.

“I- I was more than a jerk,” he amends. “I was an ass. And I made you feel bad about being a good person, and I just. I’m sorry. I never meant to yell at you, but I was scared. I’m scared of a lot of things,” he laughs humorlessly. “Some Man of Steel I am, huh? And I let that fear cloud me and I said things I shouldn’t have.”

She’s still apparently ignoring him.

“I screwed up. And you were right, I do blame myself for Lex, for what he became, and that’s just… it’s something I have to deal with myself, I shouldn’t put that on yo-“

“Darn it, Kal!” In a flash, she’s up and on her feet in front of him, eyes blazing. “I don’t want you to have to do everything by yourself! I want to help you! And you don’t let me! I can do all the same things as you can! I’m as strong as you- I’m faster than you- and you just… you act like I’ll break! Every time! It’s infuriating! And then you tell me that you want to keep me safe, and you want to keep me safe from Lena, which is just- I can’t even, with that. Because from where I’m standing, Lena should probably be more concerned about being kept safe from us.” He opens his mouth to protest, but she cuts him off. “Much as you want to pretend, we’re aliens. We’ll never be human, Kal. We’re different, we’re the weird ones, here. And we cause trouble wherever we go, and everyone in my life knows that I’m- that we’re Super, whatever that means. My sister runs tests on my DNA, did you know that? To make sure that I’m not experiencing any ‘ill effects’ from the yellow sun.  Winn designed a superhero costume for me as soon as I set him on the ground after he fell out of my apartment window, and you-” she swallows thickly. “You are the only other person who knows what this is like, and you do the same thing to me! And you’re so rational about it; even when you apologize you make all these justifications!

“And Lena doesn’t know that I’m an alien, or that I can block bullets and fly and shoot lasers from my eyes! And she- I’m just Kara. I’m not the girl lost in space, I’m not the poor little alien that needed a big sister, I’m not your cousin, I’m just… me. Myself. And she thinks I’m a hero. Just me, just Kara Danvers. And it’s insane, how much I needed that from just one person on this stupid planet, because I haven’t been Just Kara since I watched my planet die.”

Her chest is heaving and Kal gets to his feet. “I’m sorry,” he says, simple and sincere. “I’m really sorry. For all of that.”

“I loved living with you guys,” Kara says. “It felt like you trusted me, to be in your life, but then today you just-“

“I know,” he says. “I know, and I am so sorry.” He opens his arms to her a bit, and she falls gratefully into them.

“I’m still mad at you,” she informs him as he wraps her up in a crushing embrace.

“I know.”

“I just really needed a hug.” Her voice breaks a bit at the end, and Clark could kick himself for being such an ass.

“I know, Kara. I know you did. You can be mad at me, and I’ll still give you hugs.”

She nods and goes quiet.

“I want you to know, though, that I do trust you. You and Lois are the most important people in my life, Kara, and I trust you with everything important to me. Including my DVR and my snacks.” He grins when he feels a huff of laughter against his chest. “I’m just really bad at showing it.”

“You really are,” she agrees.

“And I should trust you, to make your own decisions about your life and who’s in it,” he continues, rubbing circles on her back. “And if that includes Lena Luthor, then I will trust your judgment about her.”

“Good.” Kara can’t resist needling him a little. “Even if I’m sleeping with her?”

He winces a bit but presses on. “If that’s what you want, then I have your back. I’ll work on not being such a-“

“Dick?”

“Yeah, that,” he laughs. “Lois is rubbing off on you.”

She grins against his chest and pulls away, eyes shining with unshed tears. Clark really regrets being the one to put them there. “So, does the apology come with a favor?”

“Absolutely. What do you need?”

“I need you to go somewhere with me, but you can’t ask why. Oh, and you’ve gotta wear the suit.”

He sighs and agrees. He should really remember to ask what the favor is before agreeing to it. Especially if it’s a favor to Kara.

He should've never introduced her to that show...

Chapter Text

Lena and Winn spend a happy Sunday afternoon tinkering in the garage, working on both Winn’s computer and the drone. Winn is happy to babble about this or that part, why he chose that particular one over another, and gracefully accepts Lena’s ribbing at how evenly split the internal parts are between Wayne Enterprises tech and LuthorCorp gadgets.

“Hey, when you guys get a microprocessor that works at 18 GHz, I’ll consider it, but until then I’m sticking with Wayne tech,” Winn defends lightly.

“We’re working on that now, actually, at the labs in National City,” Lena tells him, strapping the anti-static band to her wrist. “You’re more than welcome to come by and I’ll give you a tour. It’ll be a nice break in my schedule.”

“I bet, and you can rest assured that I will be there to take you up on that. I mean, getting a tour of one of the biggest tech conglomerates on the planet, led by its CEO… People are gonna think I’m a big shot,” Winn tells her excitedly. “Ha! Big Schott! Classic.” Lena rolls her eyes fondly at his terrible joke. “Not to mention, you’re kind of a rock star yourself and you’re helping me build a computer. I feel like a VIP.”

“I’d hardly say I’m a rock star,” she snorts, biting a screwdriver between her teeth as she tries to adjust the angle of a screw with slim fingers.

“Uh, yeah, no, you totally are. I mean, you’ve been getting stuff patented since you were like 15. And you graduated CalTech and MIT by the time you were 19. That’s nuts.”

She grabs the screwdriver from her mouth. “To be fair, I was 20 when I graduated MIT. And I had a lot of help on those early things, from my dad, and from Lex.”

She’s worried that he’ll get all awkward and quiet on her, at the mention of her genocidal brother, but it’s Winn; he’s never quiet. “Yeah, I get that. But still. That’s pretty awesome. Here, scoot for a sec, I gotta…” he shuffles in front of her, adjusting something or other inside the bulky case on the workbench. “And I mean, you’re just reminding me that you come from a family of tech rock stars, so that only makes you cooler.”

“If only you’d gone to my boarding school,” she laments playfully, content to let him fiddle around with the guts of the computer. “No one there thought I was a rock star, just a big nerd.”

“Well, I mean, you are also a big nerd,” Winn tells her, grinning over his shoulder. “But that’s pretty cool in my book. And thanks for helping with this; I know it’s below your pay grade.”

She waves him off. “Please, like I said, this is a nice break in my routine. Usually I’m stuck in meetings with a bunch of old men who don’t know the difference between a graphics card and a playing card. I miss doing this; I don’t get to these days.”

He shoots her a sympathetic look. “That’s gotta suck, being stuck like that.”

“It’s not all bad. I mean, I was never supposed to be the CEO. I was a project lead in R&D, just got promoted, because Dad always wanted us to work our way up through the company- I actually started in the mail room when I was 15, so did Lex. And suddenly, I go from maybe being CTO in a few years to CEO that day. It was… a lot, at 22. But it could be worse.”

“I get that,” Winn tells her. “It’s just… the worst, when you think your life is gonna be a zig, and all of a sudden, you get zagged outta nowhere.” He’s quiet for a moment, likely reflecting on his own zig-zag situation. “I’m glad you came out okay, after all that.”

“I wouldn’t go quite that far,” she jokes.

Winn turns to look at her, murky gray eyes studying her intently. A small smile pulls at his lips. “I would.”

She’s glad he turns back to the computer, chattering inanely about different parts and specs, so she can swallow the lump in her throat.

 

Eventually, they make their way inside for lunch at Winn’s insistence. Lena is pretty sure she’s eaten more meals in the past week and a half than she had in the entire month prior, but she’s willing to roll with it. After all, Kara hadn’t been joking; everyone in her family is a great cook. They find Alex, Maggie, and Lucy huddled around a laptop in the kitchen, and Lois throwing together a salad for herself. They smile in greeting and Alex announces that she’d beaten Maggie in the race.

“How’d Kara do?” Winn asks, head inside the fridge as he hunts for something to eat.

“Oh, she didn’t make it. Clark called her away on some family business,” Maggie says dismissively.

Lena’s curious. “Oh? That’s too bad; I know she was looking forward to it.”

“Yeah, but since she opted out, I am now the champion!” Alex boasts, flexing her arms and grinning at Maggie.

“Yeah, Little Danvers is never gonna let that fly, and you know it. She’s just gonna demand a rematch,” Maggie laughs.

“True, Red. But it might be a bit, she and Clark headed out of town and he packed some clothes,” Lois tells them. “God knows what they’re up to. Probably something sketchy.”

“In fairness, if there are any two of us who are probably not up to something sketchy, it’s them,” Winn defends. “I mean, Kara’s a puppy, and Clark is-“

“-a dork,” Lucy finishes, grinning over at Lois. Lois shrugs and nods in agreement.

“Kara left?” Lena asks, hoping to sound casual.

Evidently she fails, since Maggie smirks and Alex and Lois eye her sympathetically. “Yeah, said they needed to go work out, or talk it out… I dunno, I wasn’t really paying much attention,” Lois says.

“Some reporter you are,” Lucy says. “Hey, Alex, I think if I reconfigure this, we can lock down on the-“

“Great, Luce, let’s talk about it later,” Alex says, closing the laptop. Lois snorts and heads toward the living room with her salad. “So, Luthor, how’re you doing?”

Lena’s taken off-guard. “What?”

“How are you doing?” Alex repeats patiently. “I mean, you haven’t had the greatest few days.”

“Do you mean the threats from a terrorist group, or the attempted kidnapping?” Lena asks archly.

“Shit, either, I guess. That can’t be easy,” Alex says casually.

“Well, when you’re planning to overthrow your own company and go completely against what it stood for, people get testy,” Lena replies.

“Yeah, no shit, Sherlock,” Maggie snorts. “Pretty sure reading your own ‘Missing Person’ article is a new level of fucked.”

Lena shrugs. “Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gotten threats. Usually my assistant just forwards them to the FBI, but she’s been picking up the slack for me at work, so I imagine they’re starting to pile up. And kidnapping is only scary the first time.”

That stops the room dead.

“What do you mean, ‘the first time’?” Alex asks.

“I’m the child of some of the richest people on the planet,” Lena tells her. “This wouldn’t have been the first attempt, or even the tenth. I was an easy target, since I always hated my security detail, and I went to school clear across the country.”

“Fuck,” Lucy says, succinctly summarizing everyone’s thoughts. “Yeah, seriously, Luthor, are you okay?”

“I’m fine, just another day in the life,” Lena tells them. She sees Alex eyeing her doubtfully, but thankfully the older woman doesn’t push.

“What do you want on your sandwich?” Winn asks. “We have basically everything, because Eliza has met us and knows we’re all useless.”

Lena shrugs. “I’ll take whatever.”

“Turkey and cheese it is,” Winn says. “So Al, what’re you working on over at Intra? I know you were talking about some sort of genetic sequencer?” Lena is intensely grateful for Winn in that moment, making her a sandwich and distracting the room.

“Yeah, that’s actually pretty cool. See, we don’t know what the genetic makeup is of aliens, for the most part- their DNA isn’t actually deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s all manner of chemical genetic makeup spun into patterns far beyond our double helix.” Alex is clearly excited to talk about her work. “I mean, some alien races have been meddling with their genetic codes for centuries! So we’re trying to develop a machine that could identify the genetic markers and patterns.”

Maggie and Lucy both roll their eyes and start hassling Alex, but Lena and Winn are actually fascinated. “It- I guess I never thought that alien DNA isn’t DNA,” Winn admits.

“Right? No one does. It was my doctoral thesis for Xeno,” Alex tells him.

“I read that paper,” Lena tells her. “It’s quite good. I like that you left it open-ended, rather than trying to make your findings conclusive.”

Alex shrugs. “There was no way to make them conclusive. Aside from a small percentage of volunteers who have let us run studies, we’re flying blind with alien genetics. There are so many races and types… and with only a few having DNA, rather than RNA or a completely different protein structure. There’s no way I was gonna be able to make that happen.”

“Ugh, god, there’s two of them,” Maggie groans. “C’mon, Little Lane, let’s go annoy your sister before they probe us.”

“I’d be fine if either of them probed me,” Lucy says with a saucy wink at Alex, which is met with an exaggerated eye-roll.

“You’re too straight for me,” Alex informs her.

“Pfft, hardly, but fine. How about you, Luthor?”

“Aren’t- Don’t you have a boyfriend?” Lena asks, laughing. “Tall, dark, handsome? Probably in the next room?”

“I will take that as a strong maybe. Sawyer, we’re off!” She gives them a crisp military salute, turns on her heel, and marches from the room, laptop tucked under her arm.

Maggie barks out a laugh and follows after her, and Winn heads back out to the garage, leaving Lena and Alex alone.

“So, really, how are you doing?” Alex asks. “I know this is probably… a lot.”

Lena seriously considers this. In a matter of two weeks, she’s gone from spending nights alone in a huge, empty house to celebrating Hanukkah every night with people who try their best to make her feel welcome. She has friends now, Kara and Winn. She’s enjoying her vacation more than she thought she would. She hadn’t even checked her email today, much to Winn’s delight.

“I’ve never been in a house that has so many people in it,” she says carefully. “Except maybe at boarding school, if that counts. And I’ve never shared a room, or a bathroom. And I’ve never gone to eat breakfast in my pajamas on purpose. I don’t even usually eat breakfast, come to think of it.” Alex is relaxed, arms crossed on the countertop, leaning forward and watching Lena with warm eyes. It’s odd; to be the sole focus of someone’s attention like this, to know that the other person is actually paying attention to you. She hasn’t had anyone do this in years, ever since Lex had started to get… sick. Lena can understand why Kara loves her sister so much, if she can give this to a near stranger. “It’s… not bad, though. Very different, but not exactly negative. I’m getting used to Kara snoring and Christmas movies and snow everywhere. And I’m really grateful, to all of you, for helping me, even though it probably threw everyone off a little.”

“And the other stuff? About your mom, and Cadmus?” Alex asks gently. “Or the armed men who tried to kidnap you? You’ve had a hell of a weekend, kid.”

“I’m dealing with it by not?” Lena tries for a laugh, then swallows thickly. “I’m… I’m doing what I can. How I can. It’s a lot to process. I mean, I knew Lillian was twisted, but being involved with Cadmus, trying to kidnap me… I didn’t think she hated me that much.” Alex’s face twists in sympathy, and Lena feels her hackles rise. “I don’t need your pity.”

“Well good, because you don’t have it,” Alex snarks. “Stop being defensive, Luthor, I’m trying to help. You could be in danger, you’re definitely traumatized-”

“I’m not sure how you can help,” Lena tells her. “You’re a lab rat like me, so unless you have a secret degree in psychology, I think national security and threats to my person are a bit outside your wheelhouse.”

“Oh, cut the crap, I know you know,” Alex mutters. “Lois told me that Clark let slip about the… enhancements I’ve made to my car, and that it belonged to an agent.”

Lena regards her coolly. “At least you’re occasionally honest. Who do you actually work for?”

“That’s classified,” Alex tells her apologetically. At Lena’s hard look she raises her hands in surrender. “I know it’s cliché, but it’s true.”

“Did you ever even entertain the possibility of working for me, or was that a ruse?”

“I am still entertaining the possibility. The only thing I’ve lied about is who I work for. The rest was true,” Alex tells her. “I do find my current position… unfulfilling. I am interested in the job, and I was actually planning on taking it, once I talk to my boss.”

Lena’s surprised, but tries not to show it. “The genetic sequencer?”

“Is my baby, and fortunately it’s something that I have the rights to, via my current contract,” Alex tells her. “I think it’d be invaluable for medical research, don’t you?”

Lena nods. “I do. Is anyone else here a spy, or agent, or whatever you are?”

Alex grimaces. “That’s-“

“Classified. Right. Brilliant, of course it is.” She heaves a sigh, before a wild though enters her mind and steals her breath. “Is Kara? Has this whole thing been some sort of… long con? Get close to me, then… what?”

Alex shakes her head firmly. “No, no way. Kara would never- she’d never go along with that, Lena. She’s the reason I work for the people that I do, which- fuck, I can’t explain that either. Look, I promise you, Kara doesn’t know anything about this, neither does my mom. They’re both convinced I work for Intra Dynamics as a research scientist. And you being here is just- I swear it’s a coincidence. I almost had a heart attack when Winn told me about the car accident, and Kara bringing you home.”

“You understand I find that hard to believe, right?” Lena asks, crossing her arms over her chest. “That this whole mess wasn’t orchestrated?”

Alex laughs, tugging a hand through tousled red hair. “I can assure you, as an agent of the United States government, we could literally never set something up this perfectly.”

Lena smirks despite herself. “Now that, I do believe.”

Alex shakes her head ruefully. “Look, if the job offer still stands, consider this my acceptance. What you’re going to do is… it’s literally my dream job. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was made for me, and for Mom.”

Lena sighs and sits beside Alex at the bar top. “Of course it’s still on the table. It’s just that now I can probably save some money on security.”

Alex snorts. “Probably.”

They’re quiet for a minute, before Alex tells Lena, “We have your back, you know. I mean, without breaching any confidences here, you’re probably in the safest house on the planet. Nothing’s gonna happen to you, except maybe you gain some weight from all Eliza’s cooking.”

Lena looks slightly scandalized. “Are you actually calling me fat?”

“Not yet,” Alex smirks. “But really, you’re safe, here. Safer than you’d be anywhere else. And when you’re ready, to deal with… well, everything, let me know. Kara tells me I’m a good listener.”

“You are,” Lena agrees. “I can see why she idolizes you.”

Alex smiles at this. “She was always a smart kid.” Lena snorts as Alex stands to take her leave. “I’d like to keep my work between us. I’d consider it a favor,” Alex tells her.

Lena nods her agreement. Just before Alex exits the kitchen, Lena calls her back. Alex looks at her expectantly, and Lena asks, “Winn isn’t a spy, right?”

Alex’s resulting laughter can be heard throughout the house.

 

Kara and Clark come stumbling in the door just before sundown, flushed and excited about… something. Clark is grinning, and even seems to be making a serious effort toward Lena, which she finds both odd and pleasant. He really is a charming man, Lena decides, boyish despite his stature and afraid of all the women in his life in a way that screams of his respect for them. She remembers him being like this, when she’d known him as Lex’s best friend.

It’s one of the last nights of Hanukkah, and they go through the ritual of lighting the shamash and menorah before tucking into a large dinner. Meals at Eliza’s are always a raucous affair, but this one seems to be louder and more exuberant than usual. Kara and Clark are sitting next to each other, shoving and jostling one another like children. Eliza and Martha are deep in discussion with Lois about some story on crop genetics she’d read somewhere, Lucy is clearly plotting something with Winn and Maggie, from the way Alex and James are giving the huddled trio nervous looks, it can’t be anything good.

Lena is content to observe, a faint smile on her face. These are good people, people who welcomed her and want her here. Sure, her life is louder than it’s ever been, and there are more casual interruptions to eat, or watch this funny video, or monkey around with Winn’s computer or Alex’s old motorcycle. So many that in National City, she’d have surely lost her temper long ago. But it is nice. Kara catches her eye across the table and offers a goofy grin that stretches from ear to ear, startling blue eyes sparkling behind glasses Lena is rapidly becoming convinced she doesn’t need.

She smiles back a bit shyly, before rolling her eyes as Winn leans across the table to pile food on her plate, doing his best impression of his maternal grandmother, who’d always loaded him down with food. Kara laughs and scolds Winn lightly, and Maggie tugs him back down into his seat by the back of his shirt.

‘Yes,’ Lena decides, helping clear away the dishes and handing them off to Clark and James in the kitchen, ‘this is pretty nice.’

 

Everyone settles into the living room that night, comfortable in pajamas (even Lena’s in a pair of fancy sweats) and as usual, Lena finds herself next to Kara, though this time, Kara’s trying to convince her to sprawl out on the floor. She’d run all over the house, grabbing pillows and blankets to make a… well, basically a nest in the middle of the living room.

“C’mon, Lena, it’s the best way to watch this movie, trust me!” Kara cajoled.

“I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally sat on the floor,” Lena tells her. “Why start now? 23 years is an amazing streak.”

“Please?” Kara asks, holding Lena’s hand between both her own and tugging gently. “Please?”

Lena sighs dramatically before plopping down next to her friend, pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the floor is. “This is not as terrible as I thought,” she admits.

Kara looks very pleased with herself. “See? Told ya so. I’m great at nests.” She has yet to release Lena’s hand, but Lena’s not really of a mind to complain.

“She is,” Maggie confirms. “Whenever she comes to watch movies at our place, there’s always a nest.”

“Us too,” Clark says, grinning fondly at his cousin. “I think we had one permanently for like, two years.”

“Yeah, we can see our rug now. It’s different than I remember,” Lois snarks, but there’s no real bite to it.

“Oh, please, you loved the nest,” Kara retorts, twisting to grin at Lois. “You’d nap there all the time.”

“I’m a weak person, Kara. Sue me.”

Lena chuckles at this. “So, what are we watching?”

“Well, we were gonna watch Die Hard, but you guys decided to just live it instead,” Maggie drawls, ignoring Kara’s hissed “Maggie!” and Alex’s sharp elbow to her ribs. “So now we’re watching something much more wholesome.”

Kara pulls a heavy quilt over her and Lena as the screen flickers on a black and white bell tolling in a church tower, and then a band swells in a light, cheerful tune as the title appears; It’s a Wonderful Life. Eliza hits the lights, and the gray of the screen is the only light in the crowded room.

“I’ve heard of this one,” Lena says, pleased with herself.

“Shhh!”

“Good,” Kara whispers. “It’s a classic. Everyone should see it at least once, even though Alex says it’s cheesy.”

“It is cheesy!” Alex stage whispers from where she’s tangled up on the loveseat with Maggie.

“Danvers, you’re gonna cry and we all know it, so hush,” Maggie chides, tucking Alex’s face more firmly to her, despite the taller woman’s protests.

 

Lena flinches when the loud slap! of Mr. Gower’s heavy hand to a young George Bailey’s ear snaps through the quiet like a bullwhip, and again with every repeated hit.

“Don’t hit my sore ear again! Please don’t hit my sore ear again!” George sobs, hands raised to defend himself, only to be pulled into a stifling embrace by the man he’s just saved.

Kara butts her head against Lena’s shoulder, a sad, knowing smile tugging half-heartedly at her mouth. “I always hated this part,” Kara whispers. “There’s never an excuse for hitting a kid like that, y’know?”

Lena clenches her jaw tightly and nods in agreement. She doesn’t object when Kara places a hand on her arm.

 

“Kara, are you okay?”

“I’m fine, just, y’know. He’s a really good guy and he deserves to go to college and achieve his dreams, but he won’t because he loved his dad so much and he’s just… he deserves a lot better.”

Lena chuckles and puts an arm under Kara’s shoulders, pulling her a little closer. “I know.”

 

“Still with me Danvers?”

“Shut up.” A sniffle. “He loves his brother so much. He gave up going to college for Harry to take a job that had a better future, doing something he really enjoyed.”

“I know, babe.”

 

“Love you, Kara.”

“Love you, Alex.”

Kara throws her arm across Lena to grab Alex’s hand where it’s dangling off the couch.

Maggie teases them for being saps. Lena doesn’t seem to mind.

 

“What do you want?”

George looks at Mary as though she has three heads. “Want? I don’t want anything, I was just out for a walk and I came in to get warm!”

Mary eyes him with a steely gaze before shouting, “He’s making violent love to me, Mother!”

Lois and Maggie whoop their approval, and Lena cackles.

“She’s fucking iconic,” Maggie laughs.

 

“Kara, are you sure you’re alright?”

“They’re so… happy. And they literally have no money because they used all of it to save the Building and Loan and their house is probably haunted and leaks and has no windows, and still; look how clever she is and how happy they are with their leaky house.”

Kara’s head is on Lena’s shoulder at this point, arm flung across the younger woman’s stomach in a near-mirror image to how they’d slept the night before. Lena’s carding her fingers gently through Kara’s hair, trying to make her feel a bit better, but to no avail. “Money can’t buy happiness.”

“Says the literal billionaire,” Maggie whispers dryly.

“I wasn’t always a billionaire,” Lena says quietly, thinking of a tiny tree and the lilt of her mum’s voice. She can’t remember the words, anymore, but she does remember the tone and the timbre and the way her hair fell around them like a shield from the outside world. “And I’d know better than anyone that money doesn’t make you happy. I mean, look at Mr. Potter. He’s rich and miserable and alone. Having good people around is what makes you happy.”

Kara smiles at her, a little watery but sincere, and grabs the hand Lena doesn’t have tangled in her hair.

 

“Why’d you go and marry me anyways?”

“Mostly to keep from being an old maid,” Mary replies cheekily.

 “I mean it! You could’ve married Sam Wainwright or anyone else in town,” George sighs, the weight of the day heavy on him.

“I didn’t want to marry anyone else. I wanted my baby to look like you.”

And if Kara sneaks a peek at Lena, admiring the sharp line of her jaw and the fullness of her lips, the impossibly high cheekbones and thick, dark brows, no one else will ever know.

 

“I wanna live again! Please, God, let me live again.”

Lena’s tearing up now, but determined not to cry in front of all these people. She grips Kara’s hand tightly.

“You okay?” Kara whispers.

She nods as George Bailey runs through Bedford Falls, jubilant and shouting. Happy to be alive, joyful at the things he’d hated, that had nearly pushed him over the edge. “This is a really good movie,” she says thickly as George bursts into his house and embraces his children.

She can feel Kara smile into her shoulder and squeeze her tighter. “I know.”

 

“So, what’s next? Are we staying wholesome, or are we getting weird?” Maggie asks, wriggling out from under a protesting Alex. “Because I vote we get weird and ruin the mood.”

Eliza laughs and agrees to whatever Maggie’s suggesting, laughing harder when her future daughter-in-law hops up and starts 8 Crazy Nights. “Is this the only Hanukkah movie you know, Maggie?” she asks.

“Basically, yes. This one goes out to my favorite Jews,” Maggie proclaims, pressing a kiss to Eliza’s cheek as she passes on the way to the couch. She flops on top of Alex, who rolls her eyes but wraps her tiny fiancée up in her arms nonetheless.

Kara laughs long and loud throughout the movie, and it even manages to pull a belly laugh from Lena once or twice.

They don’t disentangle themselves until they head upstairs. No one says anything, although at one point, Clark catches Lena’s eye and gives her a somewhat strained smile and a thumbs up. She’s confused, but offers a small smile in return.

Lena decides then that Clark might just be sort of awkward, rather than slightly antagonistic.

Chapter Text

“You gonna be alright tonight?” Kara asks, setting her glasses on the nightstand between the two beds and stretching, the languid extension of her arms over her head pulling her hoodie up a few inches and baring part of her taut stomach directly in Lena’s line of sight. “By yourself? Because I don’t mi-“

“I didn’t know you have a belly ring,” Lena blurts, instantly horrified at the fact that she’d said this aloud.

Kara pauses, arms still raised over her head, and looks down at her stomach. “I do.”

“Why? I mean, you just seem rather… clean cut,” Lena amends.

Kara lowers her arms and shrugs. “Teenage rebellion? Honestly, I don’t really remember why. I think I got into a fight with Alex, or Eliza… who remembers? But I was mad and I wanted one, so I drove all the way to Metropolis and Lois helped me get one. That’s how we started to bond.”

She leaves out that Lois had needed to bring a lump of kryptonite in her purse to the piercing shop for the needle to even penetrate Kara’s skin, and that Clark had gone absolutely ballistic when he’d learned that Kara had exposed herself to kryptonite for something so admittedly stupid. Lois, when she came unapologetically forward about having been an instrumental part of the whole adventure, had received the wrath in equal measure, perhaps even more so, and that’s how they’d started to bond. It was easily one of the worst fights she and her cousin have ever had. He still hates the belly ring. “Or maybe it was Clark I was mad at… I was mad at someone, anyways.”

Lena quirks a brow, sitting cross-legged on her bed. “That doesn’t seem like you. You’re always so… chipper. Even in the morning. I don’t think I’ve seen you less than cheerful, except for when people were shooting at us.”

“Yeah, I grew up a lot. I was still getting used to everything here, back then. Sensory overloads happened a lot.”

“When you moved to the US?” Lena asks.

Kara blanches slightly. “Yeah! Yeah, when I moved from Iceland- where I was born- to Midvale. Here. Iceland is… very different.”

Lena nods sympathetically. “I can understand that, culture shock is a very real thing.”

“You have no idea,” Kara mutters.

“Did you speak any English, when you moved here?” Lena asks curiously.

Kara sits heavily on the bed, bouncing a bit. “Not so much. I spoke some other languages, which you’d think would help, but only made things that much more confusing. The only one who could understand me was Ka-Clark, and even then, his accent was awful.”

Lena tilts her head. “How many languages do you speak, exactly?”

‘Fifteen.’ “Now? Five,” Kara says. “Then? Barely two. Neither of which was English, unfortunately.”

Lena grins broadly, eyes bright. “Really? What do you speak?”

Kara had forgotten that Lena was a bit of a language prodigy herself. “Oh, uh, English, obviously, Icelandic, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. And Hebrew too, I guess. So actually six.” ‘And Daxamin, Saturnese, Kryptonese, French…’

Lena is absolutely delighted. “We actually have some overlap! I’ve been working on my Russian, but it’s tricky.”

“I found the key is to just sound vaguely threatening and angry,” Kara tells her, grinning.

“Ah, so just be myself, got it.” Kara lets out a snort as Lena studies her. “I bet it was useful, being able to speak so many languages when you were patrolling.”

Kara nods enthusiastically. “It was! And Maggie speaks Spanish too, so it was fun to make jokes all the time and not have anyone understand.” She leans in to whisper conspiratorially, “I don’t think anyone expected me to speak fluent Spanish. Lead to some funny moments. And it helped build trust between us and the community, or, at least I think so. A lot of people were really happy that we could understand them.”

“I’m sure you could empathize with them; having trouble communicating, being in such a foreign place… All of that probably helped you as well. You speak English very well, by the way. I can barely hear an accent at all.” Lena flushes. “Sorry, that probably seemed really rude.”

“No, not at all! It was a lot worse when I was younger. V’s and W’s are weird. And I used to drive my teachers crazy because I always sounded like I was asking a question.” Kara raises her inflection at the end, demonstrating the very thing she’d been guilty of. “That’s how Icelandic works, it’s all… lilty.” ‘And, actually, Kryptonese is, too, though also somehow more guttural.’

Lena laughs, “Oh, that’s so cute! I can see how that’d be confusing for you. And I get the lilt thing. I mean, I sort of intentionally lost it, for the most part, but I can still hear some Irish every now and again, especially if I’m upset. Jack- my ex- used to tease me about singing what I speak and speaking what I sing.”

Kara watches her for a moment. “Do you miss it? Your accent? I know it’s a really weird question, but I miss mine, sometimes. I forgot a word a few weeks ago and nearly had a meltdown.”

Lena smiles a little sadly as she says, “Sometimes I do, yes. But I was so young, so I think I more regret cutting myself off from that for the sake of the Luthors than anything else. I don’t know that I’d still have the accent after 20 years anyways, even without the diction classes and speech therapists.”

Kara’s brows rise. “That’s pretty extreme, to get rid of an accent so thoroughly.”

“That’s Mother; never do anything by half measures,” Lena snorts. “She really hated the accent, I remember that. She didn’t even let me speak in front of her for quite a while, because she hated it so much. That was a lot of my motivation for losing it, honestly; I missed my mum and I wanted to talk to Lillian.”

“That’s pretty messed up,” Kara says after a beat of silence.

“Like I said; that’s Mother for you.”

“So, back to where this all started; are you gonna be okay tonight, d’you think? Because if not, we should like, shove the beds together or something. Make a little more room,” Kara rambles.

“I think I’ll be alright. I mean, obviously no guarantees, but it should be fine,” Lena tells her. She slips under the blankets and faces the ceiling. “Thank you, though.”

“Of course, Lena. I’ve got your back,” Kara says, sliding under her own covers and turning off the light.

The greenish glow of the plastic stars reminds Lena of another item she’s wanted to check off the list of Things to Ask Kara Later. “What’s with the stars?” ‘Smooth, Luthor.’

“Oh! Alex did that, when we started sharing a room. The stars remind me of home, and I- um, I’m scared of the dark, and she didn’t want a night light, so this was our compromise.”

Lena nods, absorbing this. “I like them,” she decides.

She hears Kara chuckle from the other bed. “G’night, Lena.”

“Goodnight, Kara.”

 

Kara’s pleased to realize in the morning that she hadn’t been awakened by anyone having nightmares, and quietly grabs some clothes and slips from the room, careful not to wake her friend.

No one else is up yet, so she decides to go for a run, and leaves a note for Eliza or whoever gets up first in the kitchen. Just as she’s about to hit the door, Alex’s bed-mussed head pokes through the basement door.

“Hey, sleepy head,” Kara whispers with a grin.

“Wha’ tim’ zit?” Alex grumbles, emerging into the hallway fully.

Kara checks her watch. “It’s not even six yet. You can go back to sleep, Al.”

Alex takes in her attire. “You goin’ run?”

“Yeah, nobody else is up just yet, so I figured-“

“I’ll run too, gimme a minute,” Alex yawns, slowly becoming more awake and aware.

“You sure? It’s cold out. You don’t have to-”

“I’ve barely gotten to see you all week, Kara. And I need to burn off all this damn food Mom keeps feeding us. Gimme five minutes,” Alex tells her. She disappears again, emerging 10 minutes later in sweats and sneakers. “Ready to go?”

They sneak out quietly, and Kara admires the way the first peeks of color are starting to dance across the sky. It throws the world into an odd light; gray-purple sky and monochromatic land.

“So,” Alex asks as she stretches on the porch, “Where are we going today?”

“Maybe the beach? I haven’t seen a sunrise there in forever,” Kara replies.

“Two miles isn’t too bad, I guess,” Alex says with a smile. “But try to keep it human, okay?”

Kara grins and they set off at an easy lope east. “It’s been a few weeks since we went on a run,” Kara says. “I miss doing this.”

“I know, I’m sorry, I’ve been working nights, over at the lab,” Alex sighs. “And between that, and you moving, and all the wedding stuff and trying to spend time with Maggie… sorry, I haven’t been the greatest sister lately.”

“Hey, you’re always the best sister,” Kara assures her. “And I like, totally get it, and I’m not mad. You have stuff you’ve gotta do.”

Alex hums and reaches out to squeeze her sister’s hand in thanks. “So, speaking of stuff to do, how’s it going with Lena?”

Kara groans good-naturedly, “Oh, no, Al, not you too!”

“You been getting some crap?” Alex asks knowingly.

“Yes! Winn is telling me to ask her out every five minutes, Maggie and Lucy are up to… something, and yesterday, Kal dragged me into the woods to yell at me! I mean, geeze!”

 Alex’s brow furrows. “Why was he yelling at you? He doesn’t get to yell at you, only I get to yell at you.”

“He got all mad and said I was being naïve and that he felt like he was watching history repeat itself, or something. And he was being kind of a creep and totally misinterpreted a situation… thing, the other night, and he kinda went off.”

Alex frowns. “I’m gonna talk to him. He doesn’t get to do that.”

“No, no, don’t bother, we already hashed it out yesterday, and we’re all good now,” Kara sighs. “I just- Lena’s her own person. I don’t see what’s so hard to get.”

“Kara, you may be projecting a little,” Alex informs her. “I mean, infamous relative, family legacy, trying to make a name for herself… that sounds familiar to me.”

“Oh, har-har,” Kara mutters.

“I’m just saying. So what did he misinterpret when he was being a creep?”

Kara blushes instantly, from the tips of her ears, down her neck, and across her entire face. She mumbles something lowly, but Alex can’t quite catch it.

“What was that?”

“I was kinda sorta sleeping in her bed, with her,” Kara says, face a brilliant shade of red in the early light.

Alex stops dead. “I’m sorry, what?! My bed, which I have childhood memories attached to? That bed?”

“We were just sleeping, I swear,” Kara assures her, raising her hands placatingly. “I- it’s not my business to say why, but she needed somebody, and I wanted to help, so…”

“So no sex in my bed?” Alex clarifies.

“None whatsoever, I promise,” Kara says, crossing her heart. “We were really just sleeping, even if I was like, accidentally laying on top of her.” At Alex’s amused look she pouts. “Those beds are so small! There’s no other way to sleep on one with another person!”

Alex huffs out a laugh. “You’re not wrong. Plus, you’ve always slept like an octopus.”

Kara squawks in indignation as her sister takes off running.

               

They reach the beach and, after checking that the coast is clear, Kara heats a large rock with her heat vision, melting the snow and getting it just warm enough to be comfortable to sit on. Alex teases her about being part lizard, even though she herself loves when Kara does this, and they watch the sun peek over the horizon, painting the sky in a riot of color.

“Another beautiful day in Midvale,” Kara says.

“You sure you’re ready to leave all this for palm trees and sunshine?” Alex teases her.

“I think I could get used to it,” Kara muses. She butts her head gently against her sister’s shoulder. “I’ll miss seeing you all the time, though.”

“Please, you can cross the country in like, 10 minutes or something,” Alex reminds her, throwing a comforting arm around her sister’s shoulders. “And I didn’t get a chance to tell you yet, but I’m taking the job Lena offered me.”

Kara sits up, eyes wide. “Really?!”

“Yes, really. It’s a great opportunity, I’d be an idiot not to,” Alex says, pulling Kara in tight. “Plus she’s offering just… a ridiculous amount of money.”

‘And I won’t have to lie anymore.’

“You deserve it, you’re the best… whatever you are in the world,” Kara tells her. “I’m glad you’ll get to show it.”

“I am pretty great,” Alex agrees thoughtfully, breaking into a smile at Kara’s rolled eyes. “And who knows? In a few years, Maggie and I might want to relocate to National City. Enjoy some warmer weather ourselves.”

Kara lights up. “That’d be amazing! It’d be all of us together! Well, except for Clark and Lois… but they can come whenever they want! Oh! We can start Game Night up again! I bet Lena will kill all of us at Monopoly, but I’m sure she’s bad at something. We’ll figure it out.”

Alex smiles softly at her younger sister, wondering if she knows that she’s planning for Lena to be in their lives years into the future, but decides against saying anything just then. She won’t mind if the youngest Luthor sticks around, she decides. She’s heard the two of them laughing late into the night for the past week, and she’s seen the way Lena unconsciously leans toward her sister, wherever she is. She can see how Kara’s eyes light up around the young CEO. They’d probably be really good for each other, between Lena’s toughness and skepticism and Kara’s effervescence and warmth.

No, she wouldn’t mind if she stuck around at all. She’ll talk to Kara about it later.

 

They get back to the house a few minutes after everyone’s started breakfast, and Kara dives right in, not bothering with a shower. After all, it’s not like she’s worked up a sweat. Alex does go shower, since she’s actually human, and squeezes in between Maggie and James at the table, quickly piling her plate with eggs and fruit and toast. Maggie grins at her large serving of fruit (she’s always on the Danvers sisters about eating healthier) and presses a sticky kiss to her cheek, earning a disgusted noise for her trouble.

“So what’s on the agenda today? You know we still need a tree…” James reminds them with a broad smile.

“Ah ah ah, you know the rules; Christmas after Hanukkah,” Alex tells him.

“Oh, come on, you guys get a whole week, and we’ll barely get three days with the tree,” he whines.

“He has a point,” Eliza says. “I know we usually wait, but with all the holidays bunched so close together this year, I think we can make an exception, right?”

Alex sighs dramatically and concedes, much to everyone else’s delight, and just like that, she’s now been shanghaied into spending most of her day outside in the snow with her weird family. “Fine, but seriously, guys, less than three hours today. I mean it. Humans tend to get cold.”

Kara huffs at her. “You can’t rush art, Alex. We won’t know the perfect tree until we see it!” She effortlessly deflects the fork Lucy is angling toward her plate and passes Lena the yogurt she’s after.

“I can rush art if it means Mom and I don’t have to treat anyone for frostbite again,” Alex says wryly.

“That was one time, and Winn’s toes are fine now,” Lucy says dismissively.

“Yeah, he still has all eight of them,” Lois teases.

“But are they still webbed, that’s the question,” Eliza asks, laughing at the outrage on Winn’s face when she joins in the banter

“They’re not webbed! How dare you!”

“Oh, by the way, Kara- I’m calling a sister day today,” Alex says with a grin. “Sorry, Mags, you’re on your own for the afternoon.”

Maggie shrugs easily. “I’m honestly surprised it’s taken you this long, Danvers. Have fun.”

Lena’s chuckling, content to let the chaos happen around her by this point. She plans to spend the day doing some work remotely in the office, and she knows that some of the things she’s ordered should be arriving today. It should be a pretty quiet, boring afternoon.

               

She’s apparently very incorrect about her plans for the day.

When Kara retreats to the room they’re sharing to change into jeans and a sweater, she’s shocked that Lena doesn’t plan to come with them. “But we’re going to get the tree,” she points out needlessly, shucking the tight thermal workout shirt she’d been wearing without care, leaving her in just a sports bra and leggings.

Lena averts her eyes, cursing the fact that while Kara is apparently very conservative in her dress and leaves the room when Lena changes, she has very little sense of modestly when it comes to her own actual nudity. ‘And good god, what lovely nudity it is.’ “I know; you were all talking about it at breakfast.”

“So why aren’t you coming?”

Lena pauses. “I didn’t know I was supposed to. Put a shirt on. Jesus, I can’t focus.”

Kara huffs and tugs the bulky sweater over her head. Once she’s covered back up, she turns to Lena, hands on her hips. It’s adorable. No one should be allowed to look the way Kara does with her shirt off and still be patently adorable. It’s just wrong. “Of course you’re supposed to, Lena. You’re here for a weird family Christmakah, and part of that is getting the tree with the family.”

Lena shrugs. “I didn’t know. We never got our own trees. There was always a huge one for the gala in the ballroom, but that was the extent of our tree exposure. And the tree I sometimes remember to put up in my apartment is fake.”

“But smelling the tree is the second best part!” Kara says, aggrieved.

“I wouldn’t know,” Lena says, shrugging again.

“You’re coming to get the tree with us.” When Lena opens her mouth to protest, Kara holds up a hand. “Come get the tree, and no one will bug you until dinner, I promise. You can get a bunch of work done in peace and quiet. But you have to come get the tree. It’s part of it.”

Lena sighs and agrees reluctantly; changing into some warm wool slacks and a heavy knit sweater that Kara tosses to her before they meet up with everyone downstairs. They all jostle and heckle each other as they pull on their boots, coats and hats, and Kara emerges from the kitchen and puts two hand-warmers in Lena’s pockets with a small smile.

However, rather than piling into cars, they start ambling out the back door.

“Where are we going, exactly?” Lena asks.

“Oh! We get the tree from our woods,” Kara tells her, grabbing an axe and propping it casually on her shoulder. “No sense buying a tree when we have a ton that are nicer in the back yard.”

They spread out in little groups, though Maggie insists on dragging Winn along with her and Alex, for some reason, leaving Kara and Lena to walk through the snow alone.

“So, what exactly is a ‘perfect tree’?” Lena asks.

“Well, usually you want it to be straight, so that’s something to look out for. And the branches should be full and as green as you can get them. If you go to a lot, you have to make sure the needles aren’t just spray painted- but obviously, we don’t have to worry about that… Oh! Sometimes, a tree looks really awesome, but it’s actually two crummy trees that are really close together…”

Lena’s nodding along seriously, looking as though she’s regretting not being able to take notes. “So, why did everyone split up?”

“Because whoever finds the tree we pick wins,” Kara says with a shrug.

“Wins what, exactly?”

“Honestly, nothing. Bragging rights until next year, I guess. Oh! This way, I saw some good ones out by the pond last week!”

Lena shuffles after her, shorter legs forcing her to jog a bit to keep up with Kara. Kara’s thrilled to note that there are no other footprints in this direction, and presses on deeper into the woods.

“How much land does Eliza own, anyways?” Lena asks, slightly out of breath.

“Oh, um, I think 25 acres? Or 30? I never remember, Alex would know.” Kara studies the woods with a smile. “It used to be a farm, but when Jeremiah and Eliza bought it, they sorta let it grow wild again. Jeremiah always said he liked all the trees shooting up, reminded him of growing up in Montana.”

“Can I ask… what happened to him? I mean, you talk about him, and there were pictures of him, in the house,” Lena probes gently, “but Alex and Eliza don’t mention him. I know, it’s rude to ask, but-“

“He, uh, he disappeared. Well, he died, officially, but they never recovered his body, so we still like to hope he’s out there, somewhere,” Kara says quietly. “He was on some trip in the Amazon, doing research on something, and he went missing and never came back.” She shrugs, and Lena fights the urge to take her hand. “It was just a few years after I was adopted. Alex was 18, a few months from graduation, and I must’ve been like 15. I didn’t know him for very long, but… Jeremiah was a really good guy. He helped me adjust to everything, made life as easy as it could be. Alex took it really hard, though. Went through kind of a… phase, for a while. Eliza was messed up too, but she put on a brave face. I went to live with Alex while I went to school, but then Eliza got sick, so we both came back here. Or, closer to here, anyways.”

“I’m, god, that just… that sucks,” Lena says, unable for once to find words to properly express herself.

Kara smiles, albeit a little sadly. “Life happens to you sometimes, y’know? Nothing anyone can do about it.”

“I get that,” Lena assures her.

“I think you probably do. Oh! This is a good one!” She skips over to a tall tree and stares up at it admiringly. “Look how pretty and green!”

“Kara, that tree is about 10 feet too tall to fit in Eliza’s living room. Or anywhere else in the house,” Lena tells her, voice tinged with amusement.

Kara sighs dramatically, but moves away from the monstrous evergreen and they continue deeper into the woods. At one point, Kara jumps joyfully and shoots toward a gnarled tree with only a smattering of green on its branches. “Lena, look!”

“Kara? I don’t mean to be such a stick in the mud, but this tree is literally the opposite of what you said we were looking for,” she says wryly.

“No, not for that, it’s a holly tree! We have to take some berries with us for decoration!”

Lena tilts around Kara, and sure enough, the tree is covered in the bright red berries. Now that she’s up close, the scene is actually rather beautiful, and she sneakily pulls her phone from her pocket to snap a shot of the tree and a few of Kara in profile, staring up at it in awe. The morning sun is filtering through the trees, and icicles are hanging off everything, giving the woods an ethereal effect. Kara always looks a bit otherworldly, with her perfect halo of blonde curls and striking blue eyes. The effect is enhanced with the stark white background and the way she reaches up to gently pull the berries from the tree. Lena resolves to send Kara the photos later before tucking her phone away.

After Kara’s satisfied with their haul of holly berries, they amble through the woods for a while longer before a sharp whistle draws their attention. “What was that?” Lena asks.

“That’s Lucy, she and James must’ve found a good tree. C’mon!” Kara grabs Lena’s hand absently and tugs her along, unwavering in her path.

“How can you possibly tell where they are from one whistle? Or that it was Lucy?” Lena asks, glad that Kara’s turned her back so she doesn’t see the way Lena’s blushing.

“Years of practice. Here, watch.” She drops Lena’s hand, puts her fingers to her mouth, and blasts a short, shrill whistle of her own, forcing Lena to cover her ears at the sheer volume.

Sure enough, there’s an answering whistle, longer than Kara’s, and it sounds closer than when they first heard it. “Impressive. Deafening, but impressive.”

“You thought that was good, you should hear me scream,” Kara says with a grin, grabbing Lena’s hand again and starting off.

Lena, for her part, is reasonably certain that she’s stopped breathing. She may be going into a mild gay panic. ‘She just said she wants me to hear her screaming. Well what the hell am I supposed to do with that?! No, no. Get it together, Luthor.’

               

They’re almost the last to arrive at the tree, Clark arriving a few moments after they do with a preening Lois perched on his back. The group inspects the tree and eventually it’s determined to be acceptable. James is offered the honors of chopping it down, but declines, citing an old shoulder injury that’s been acting up recently. Winn also begs off, citing just not wanting to, and Lois refuses to get off of Clark’s back. It’s down to Kara, who chops at the tree with gleeful abandon.

In no time at all, the tree is down and everyone is helping to carry it back to the house, complaining good naturedly as James throws off the weight distribution with his height and Winn accidentally steps on the back of Maggie’s boots, tripping her up. Kara barks out a short laugh when Lena somehow gets hit in the mouth with a branch, nearly dropping her section of the tree as she doubles over when Lena spits out a mouthful of pine needles, a look of pure disgust on her face.

They probably don’t actually need nine people to carry the tree, but no one seems to care.

               

The others insist on leaving the tree in the garage overnight. Lena is mildly confused by this, until Kara and Alex tell her that when they were kids, Eliza had come home one day in tears. They’d thought she was crying, but it turned out to be laughter about a story she’d heard from one of the PTA’s at the hospital.

“Evidently, an elderly couple had gotten a tree delivered one day, one with the root ball still attached. Well, while the husband was in the shower, the wife went to water the tree and a snake popped out and disappeared under the couch. She started screaming, so her husband jumped out of the shower as fast as he could to see what was the matter, bare-ass naked,” Alex laughs.

“So, the wife points under the couch, totally freaked out, and just manages to say ‘Snake, snake’ over and over. So being a good husband, the old man kneels down and starts looking under the couch for the snake,” Kara continues. “But the dog comes up behind him while he’s bent over like that and gooses him. Scared him so bad- he thought it was the snake- that he passed out!”

Lena lets out a bark of startled laughter, clapping a hand over her mouth as her shoulders shake.

Alex is laughing harder now, as is everyone else. “So his wife sees him go limp and thinks that he’s having a stroke or something and calls 9-11. The EMT’s show up, get him on the gurney, and when she explains what happened, one of the guys laughed so hard that he dropped his end of the stretcher and the guy broke his ribs!”

“Which is totally not funny that that happened, but oh my Rao is it funny that that happened!” Kara laughs. “The guy was doing his PT at the hospital, and was telling everybody who’d listen to never bring their trees in the first day they got them. Apparently he was a pretty good sport about the whole thing.”

Lena’s holding back enough laughter that she’s actually tearing up a bit. “Oh my god. That can’t be real.”

“I swear it is. So now, every year, the tree stays in the garage the first night,” Kara tells her.

“And with that, we’re off! Danvers Sisters Day has officially begun!” Alex declares.

 Maggie pretends to pout, brightening as she accepts a kiss on the lips from Alex and a goofy one on the cheek from Kara as they head to Alex’s SUV.

“Oh! Nobody bug Lena until dinner, I promised,” Kara says, turning and pointing at each of her friends in turn with mock-severity. Then she points at Lena and puts on what she now recognizes as her cop face. “Actually eat dinner. Winn will totally rat you out if you don’t.”

Lena looks over at Winn and he shrugs with an easy smile. “I totally will. Bye guys!”

“Traitor,” Lena mutters.

“Don’t worry, Little Danvers; I’ll look after your girl!” Maggie calls, grinning evilly and throwing an arm around Lena.

Neither Kara nor Lena is comforted by this in the slightest, but Alex drags Kara away before she can intervene.

Chapter Text

“So what are we doing?” Kara asks eagerly. It’s been a couple weeks since they were able to hang out just the two of them, let alone for an entire day.

“Well first, we’re going to Anna’s for pie and milkshakes,” Alex says seriously. “Then we’re going to see a movie, and then I’m giving you one of your presents early.”

Kara whoops and bounces in her seat excitedly. She never gets to open presents early, and ever since she was about 14, everyone has known to use lead-lined wrapping paper, so she can’t even peek anymore. “Oooo! What is it? Is it a puppy? Did you get me a puppy?!?!”

Alex snorts. “No, Kara, I did not get you a puppy, so cross that off your list of ideas right now.”

Kara sighs dramatically. “Nothing’s as good as a puppy,” she mutters.

“I think you might come to disagree. But first, dessert and milkshakes!”

They find their usual booth, and the waitress is familiar enough with them that when Kara orders an entire pie and three large milkshakes for herself, she doesn’t so much as bat an eye.

“Thanks for doing this, I really miss you,” Kara tells her, beaming. “Like, I know we went on a run this morning, but it’s not the same. And I know we’ve both been super busy and stuff, but I just- I’m really glad we’re hanging out. Because I miss you.”

Alex feels a sharp twinge of guilt deep in her gut, but pushes it aside, choosing instead to smile warmly at her little sister. “I miss you too. So, what movie do you wanna see? I think they’ve got some old ones playing at the dollar theater in Northvale, or we can go to the fancy theater at the mall and get one of the couches that recline.”

“I’m good with whatever, but no horror movies. I mean it,” she says as sternly as someone slurping on a strawberry milkshake can.

“Well in that case, no rom-coms.”

Alex, please?” Kara wheedles, putting on her best puppy dog eyes and pouty face.

“Uh-uh. If I can’t see teenagers getting murdered, you can’t see upsettingly pretty people fall in love, so there,” Alex says sternly.

Kara sticks her tongue out at her sister and pouts as best she can while eating an entire pie. Alex snaps a picture of her face and sends it to their extended family, and, after a moment’s hesitation, to Lena.

After much bickering, they settle on the newest action movie starring Alex’s favorite actress/ crush, because Alex wants to watch it, and Kara wants to tease Alex. They finish up at their first stop, Kara tips their waitress obscenely (“What? It’s Christmas time!”), and they head to the fancy multiplex at the mall. Once there, they load up with candy and soda and popcorn and a double of Jameson from the bar for Alex before making their way to the seat they’ve reserved; a big leather couch-type thing usually used by couples but suiting their purposes just fine. Kara rests her head on Alex’s lap, and they use their long winter coats as blankets, and it’s a lot like their movie nights at home- just with a much bigger screen.

The movie is pretty good, and since it’s the middle of the afternoon on a Monday, they’re the only ones there, so they feel no guilt about talking to each other through the whole thing. After the movie ends, they mutually decide ‘Screw it’ and go to another movie, a slightly-buzzed Alex relenting on her ban on rom-coms for a lighthearted holiday romance movie that Kara ends up loving every minute of. Alex pretends to hate it, but doesn’t mind it too much (although that could be the whisky talking).

               

Eventually, they wind up at a bar neither of them has ever heard of, but there are potstickers on the menu so Kara is sold. It’s early evening now, so there are a few more people out and about, but the restaurant is mostly empty. Kara eyes the empty dance floor longingly, but Alex very firmly tells her that it’s out of the question, that they’ll go dancing on New Year’s, or something.

“Oh, hey! What’s my present?” Kara asks, eyes bright and hands drumming on the bar eagerly.

“Okay, I have it on me, but you have to open it in the bathroom,” Alex tells her seriously.

Kara’s confused, but she’s game for anything in order to get an early present, so she follows her sister into the handicapped stall and locks the door behind them. “Gimme gimme gimme gimme!” she chants, making grabby hands in Alex’s direction.

Alex laughs and hands over the oddly-shaped package to the impatient alien. “Alright, damn, hold your horses!”

“I hate idioms, gimme,” Kara says eagerly. She tears away the heavy-duty wrapping paper, revealing a bottle of clear liquid. To say she’s disappointed would be an understatement, but she puts on a big smile for Alex’s benefit. “Oh! Water! Thank you! I- I love water.”

Alex rolls her eyes. “It’s not water, Kara. It’s alcohol.” She bobbles her head back and forth for a moment before amending, “Okay, it’s like alcohol, but for aliens.”

“What?!”

“So we were trying to develop something in the lab for aliens, like an anti-anxiety serum, but it failed, obviously. However, interestingly enough, this stuff affected the aliens the way that alcohol affects humans.” This is all a blatant lie, of course- she and Hank had found a huge store of alien liquor in a raid, and she’d been allowed to keep a few bottles ‘for research’.

No one has to know that her research topic is ‘how drunk can I get my alien sister?’

“I can get drunk? What? Does Clark know? Does he get some too? Oh my gosh, what if I’m bad at being drunk?”

“I don’t think there’s actually any way to be good at being drunk, and if you are, that’s not really a good thing either,” Alex laughs. “Go ahead and drink it, it’s totally safe, I promise.”

Kara eyes the bottle dubiously, but pulls the cork and tips it back, taking a healthy shot of it. “Oo, it’s sweet! I like it!” She takes another long swig, swallowing a few times, before corking it again. “How long does it take to get drunk?” she asks seriously.

Alex shrugs and smirks lazily at her sister. “Guess we’ll find out.”

               

The answer is ‘not very long.’

Kara is laughing and swaying freely to the music blasting through the bar’s stereo system in a way that’s unusually uninhibited, and Alex is delighted to discover that Kara is, in fact, a very happy, bubbly drunk. Kara’s always bubbly and sunny, but that hint of sadness, that faint edge of having seen unspeakable things, has disappeared and instead, Kara is being a totally relaxed goof.

“Alex! That not-alcohol is awesome! Much better than the alcohol,” Kara enthuses, slurring her words slightly. “I want more of the not-alcohol.”

“Maybe slow down a little, Kara,” Alex laughs at her sister’s pouty face. “See how you feel in a little while.” She downs a human drink and sighs happily.

Kara gasps. “Oh my gosh, you’re drunk too!”

Alex mirrors her horror. “Oh no! You caught me!”

“How are we getting home?”

“I’ll call someone and we’ll get a ride. Unless you wanna fly us there.”

Kara does not feign her horror at this suggestion. “Alex! That’s so dangerous! And it’s illegal! I think…” her face screws up in concentration. “Is it illegal? I don’t even know, honestly. It never came up at the academy…”

“You sound like a cop,” Alex grouses humorously.

“I am a cop! I were a cop. Was. Was a cop. I was a cop!”

Alex tips her head back and laughs loudly. “You’re sooooo drunk!”

“I am not! I bet I can fly a straight line right now!” She stands up, intending to do exactly that, but Alex hastily shoves her back onto the bar stool.

“New law; no flying while drunk,” Alex tells her sternly, before cracking up at how ridiculous that sounds.

“Mean,” Kara mutters darkly. “No flying sober, no flying drunk, I gotta fly, Alex, it’s in my soul.

Alex snorts whiskey out of her nose, coughing and gasping as she laughs at how serious Kara suddenly is. “Oh my god, such a drama queen when you’re drunk.”

Kara gasps. “I am not! I am not to either of those things. Both of those things.”

“You so are!”

“Lena would never call me a drama queen,” Kara mutters, before brightening instantly. “I wanna call Lena!”

“Nooooooooooo, uh-uh. Nope. No way,” Alex says loudly, snatching the phone from her sister’s slackened grip. “No drunk dialing your crush on my watch.”

Kara instantly flushes a bright red. “What? Lena? Crush? I don’t- Noooo, no no no, I don’t have a crush on Lena!”

Alex sighs good-naturedly. “Kar, I’m your sister. I can tell when you like someone.”

“Well… of course I like her! She’s my friend! It’d be pretty weird if I didn’t like my friend. I mean, what kind of person doesn’t like their friends? Especially friends like Lena- not that there’s anything wrong with our other friends! They’re all great! Hey, do you think Lucy and James-“

“Kara, you can’t distract me with the babble,” Alex says patiently. “Just- why don’t you tell her? She obviously likes you, too.”

“What?! No! What? Nooooo, no way. What wou- Why would she like me, like that? And I don’t. Don’t like her, like her, anyways. So it doesn’t matter,” Kara blurts.

“You absolutely do,” Alex says, smirking. “This is worse than that girl you went out with a few years ago. At least then you could speak coherent sentences about her.”

“I- I can totally speak coherently about Lena!” Kara sputters indignantly.

“Yeah? Go ahead, then. Dazzle me with your wit, Kara.”

“I… You… Augh!”

“Yeah, that’s about what I thought.” Alex is smiling, not unkindly at her sister, who has her face planted on the bar top. “So, are you gonna talk to me about it, or is your plan to just tamp it all down and then one day explode like a crazy person?”

“The second one,” Kara mutters. Alex snorts, and Kara lifts her head. “Honestly, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just be happy being her friend? I’m so good at being friends and so bad at everything else.”

Alex pretends to ponder this and downs the remains of her drink. “Huh, let’s see. You’re sharing a room, which I’m sure is a blast of hormones from both of you, just, all the time. You saved her life- twice, now. She’s really gorgeous, in a sort of like, fairy queen way. She has your same dumb sense of humor, when she doesn’t have a stick up her ass. She’s almost as smart as you. What’s not to like?” She flags down the bartender for two more rounds, of which she downs her own as soon as they’re set in front of her. If she has to have this talk with her sister, she’s gonna at least be drunk. Well, drunk-er.

Kara lets her head fall back onto the bar with a loud thud. “Not helping here, Alex.”

“I’m not trying to help, I’m trying to get you to stop being an idiot,” Alex retorts, stealing one of Kara’s shots as well. And why not? It’s not like she’ll do anything useful with them.

“How am I being an idiot?”

“Because you think she doesn’t feel the same way!” Alex says, thunking the empty glass down in exasperation.

“She doesn’t. I’m pretty sure she’s straight.”

This prompts a loud laugh from Alex. “What?!”

“She is! She said she has an ex named Jack!”

“Kara, you understand that people can be bisexual? Since, y’know, you’re bisexual?”    

“Pansexual,” Kara corrects automatically, and then appears to actually be stumped. “I just- she hasn’t said anything, I just assumed-“

“So, lemme see if I have this right: you, the pansexual alien with the engaged lesbian sister, assumed a hot woman- who slept in your bed- was straight.”

“… Yes? And technically, I was in her bed. Your bed? Someone’s bed, anyways. I was in a bed.”

Alex sighs heavily and lets her head thud against the bar. “Your gaydar is the worst I’ve ever seen, Kara. And that’s coming from me- the lesbian who didn’t know she was gay for 25 years. There is no possible way that Lena is straight. She is, at very least, very bi-curious for you.”

“Pfft. What? No. Pfft. No. Why would- No. Pfft.”

“Okay, first of all, stop that, you’re spitting everywhere and it’s gross. Second, you’re a really good-looking person. Being? Lady. You are pretty and kind and brave and smart, and anyone who doesn’t like you and want to have your super babies is an idiot,” Alex declares loudly.

“Lena’s not an idiot! And shh!”

“I know, because she does like you and want to have your super babies,” Alex smirks, slurring a bit. “C’mon, bathroom time.”

She drags Kara into the bathroom, where she gives her another couple shots from the bottle in her purse. She knows she’s probably overdoing it a little but she’s never gotten to see her sister drunk before. She never thought she’d get to, ever, so sue her if she’s being a bit extra about it.

“That stuff is so good. You and your nerds did good, with that, even though it sucked at its actual job,” Kara enthuses. “You guys should make this and sell it. I’d buy it all the time. Well, not all the time, that’d be unhealthy. But like, a lot. Not a lot. That’s bad too. Often? Often seems fine. Yeah, I’d buy it often.”

Alex snorts again. Drunk Kara is the best. Maggie is gonna be so mad that she missed it.

But too bad. She only gets to get Kara drunk for the first time once. This can be just about them for a night.

***************

“I can’t believe you did this without me!” Maggie complains, dragging a giggling Kara out to her car with Alex. “Five years, Danvers! Five years I’ve wanted to get her good and drunk, and you betray me like this on the eve of our wedding? For shame!”

Alex rolls her eyes exaggeratedly. “Okay, first off, we’re getting married in a few months, not tomorrow. Second, I’ve been waiting for like 10, so suck it up, buttercup. And third, you have a pretty face when you’re mad, babe.” She presses a sloppy kiss to Maggie’s cheek and pats it lovingly.

So Alex isn’t exactly sober herself, but at least she’s still mostly upright. That has to count for something.

“So where is the lightweight sleeping?” Maggie grunts, shifting Kara’s arm over her shoulders. “For someone who looks like they run marathons and do like, crossfit or some bullshit, she’s like carrying lead.”

“You callin’ me fat?” Kara slurs, flopping her head in Maggie’s direction.

“Yes,” Maggie deadpans, fumbling with the door handle. “Super fat.”

Kara snorts loudly and allows herself to be unceremoniously dumped into the backseat of the car. “That could be my superhero name. Super Fat.”

Maggie slams the door closed behind her and eyes Alex. “For real, she can’t stay in the room with Lena. She’s all relaxed and blabby.”

“She does sleep-float sometimes,” Alex sighs. “You’re right, she’ll just have to sleep with us.”

“Danvers sandwich. Love it.”

Alex wrinkles her nose. “Gross. Never say that again.”

“No promises,” Maggie sings as she starts the car.

               

They get back to Eliza’s just after midnight, and most everyone has already gone to bed.

Everyone, it seems, except Lena, who they can see through the front window, reading contentedly.

They’re about to ruin that peace and quiet.

“Oh boy,” Kara sighs. “She’s gonna be mad, Al. We were out drinkin’ and didn’t call or anythin’. We’re bad friends. Oh gosh, I’m a bad friend!”

“You are not, hush,” Alex admonishes, petting at her soothingly. “You’re the best, most good person in the whole world and you’re made of sunshine and-“

“Oh my god, you’re so much worse when you’re both drunk,” Maggie laughs, helping Kara out of the car. “It’s always nauseating, but now? Terrible. I may vomit.”

“You sick, Maggie?” Kara asks blearily. “Eliza’s a doctor, she can help.”

“The only Danvers I wanna play doctor with is your sister,” Maggie says, winking over Kara’s head at Alex, who rolls her eyes.

“Was tha’ a sex thing?” Kara asks.

“It’s always a sex thing,” Maggie assures her as they fumble their way up the front stairs.

Kara groans dramatically. “I hate it.”

“I know. Now shush.” Maggie finally gets the door open and they nearly fall into the entryway, since Kara has decided that now is the time to stop functioning and pass out completely.

At the muffled stream of expletives, Lena rounds the corner, eyes popping wide at the scene before her. It takes a moment, but she springs into action, attempting to take on some of Kara’s deadweight so Maggie and Alex can stabilize themselves. “What happened?”

“We had a very successful sister’s night,” Alex informs her. “I even got Sunshine drunk.”

Lena’s eyes widen comically. “I thought- I’ve seen her drink a- how?”

Now it’s Alex’s turn to go wide eyed. “Uh, trying something out from work.”

A dark brow rises. “From work?”

‘Shit, fuck, you drunk fucking idiot, she knows you’re not working in a lab. Shit fuck damn fuck.’

“Yeah, ha, new, uh, metabolic reduction… things. They apparently work!” Alex tries.

Lena’s nobody’s fool, but she decides to take pity on the very drunk agent. “Right. So how are we getting her upstairs?”

“Downstairs, she’s crashing with me,” Alex corrects. “Sister Night tradition. We share a bed after bonding. It’s our thing. It’s what we do.”

Maggie grins at Alex’s drunken word-vomit, not being helpful in the least.

Lena arches another skeptical brow but shifts Kara’s weight gamely and helps lead her down the stairs. Kara’s muttering in a language that is definitely not English, and as far as Lena can tell isn’t Spanish or Russian either. “Is she speaking Icelandic?”

“Why would she speak Icelandic?” Maggie grunts.

“No, not Icelandic,” Alex says, cutting off any reply Lena may have made.

Lena huffs. She knows it’s a language, and not just nonsense. Or, at least not only nonsense. Kara lifts her head to smile at her, warm and content and obviously drunk, and strings together something totally incomprehensible. “Zrhueiao, Lena. Zrhueiao ehshov skis. Nahkluv.” She pats Lena’s cheek happily, still smiling. “Gynot, Lena. Khap nahn jevia bah rrip.”

“Zhed rriv zha ehwor i iwahzrham, Kara,” Alex tells her gently, concentrating hard on the words, and Kara’s face falls.

“Khap sem zhed vo,” Kara says sadly, eyes on Lena.

“Khap nahvruht,” Alex says as they lay Kara on the bed, and Maggie gets to work peeling off her boots. “Go to sleep, Kara. You’ll feel better in the morning.”

“Yeah, probably not,” Maggie snorts.

“So, what was that, exactly?” Lena asks.

Alex sighs. “It’s… It’s a family language, basically. Only Kara and Clark really know it, but she taught me enough to get the gist of what she says. It’s been years, though. Thank god she’s drunk, or she’d definitely make fun of my verb tenses, or something.”

“What was she saying?”

“She said thank you, and that you’re very kind,” Alex answers honestly. “She said, I think, that you make her happy.”

Lena tries not to show how happy that makes her. “And what was the rest? Why did she get upset?”

“I was explaining that you didn’t understand her, and that made her sad, I guess.” Alex shrugs helplessly. “I think she forgot that not everyone knows it. It was some dialect that her family spoke, but with most of them gone…”

Lena frowns. “That’s… really sad, actually.”

“She won’t remember in the morning anyhow,” Maggie dismisses gently, tugging off Kara’s coat and pulling the blankets up around her.

The drunk in question blinks sleepily at them and mutters, “Nahkluv, Maggie,” before falling asleep again.

“Thank you,” Alex clarifies when Maggie looks at her questioningly. Turning to Lena, she offers a soft smile. “She’ll be fine, I promise, we’ve got her.”

Lena nods uncertainly, but leaves the room with only a searching backwards look before she disappears up the stairs. Maggie closes the door behind her with a sigh, only for Clark to push it right back open. “Is she alright? I heard her speaking Kryptonese.”

“She might be really drunk, actually,” Alex says.

His eyes widen. “She’s what?

Alex hushes him, sneaking a look over at Kara who is thankfully still asleep. “She’s drunk. I got some stuff in a raid not too long ago, and it’s alien booze. She liked it- apparently too much.”

“Why was she speaking-“

“Because it’s still her first language, Clark.”

Clark thinks on this a moment before asking, “Did she tell Lena Luthor that she’s beautiful? Because I missed most of the first part.”

“I think it was that she has beautiful eyes, actually. It’s not like Lena understood any of it anyways.”  Alex sighs, kneading her forehead and flopping back onto the pillows. “Look, I’m drunk too; can I cuddle up with my sister and go to sleep, please? We can have a talk about responsibility or whatever in the morning.”

Clark looks slightly abashed. “Yeah, of course, sorry.” He bids them both goodnight and pulls the door closed behind him.

“No one here knocks,” Maggie grumbles, locking the door and shucking her shoes and jeans before climbing into bed on Kara’s other side. “Is she gonna be alright?”

“I think so. The Kryptonese was a surprise for sure,” Alex admits, tucking a stray lock of blonde hair behind her sister’s ear and smoothing a thumb over her brow. “She hasn’t busted that out in a long time, at least not unintentionally.”

Maggie throws an arm across Kara and holds Alex’s hand. “So, aside from speaking in tongues, how was drunk Little Danvers?”

Alex grins. “It was a blast. She was like a happy drunk puppy.”

Maggie chuckles, pulling Alex’s hand to her mouth and planting a kiss on her knuckles. “I’m glad you had fun. Even though she’s a giant bed hog and talks in her sleep.”

“You love her,” Alex teases lightly.

“I really do. Best little sister ever,” Maggie agrees easily. “Much easier to deal with than my brothers.”

Alex hums and snuggles in closer to Kara as Maggie does the same on her other side. “Love you, Mags.”

“Yeah, yeah, love you too, ya lush. Now go to sleep; we have another long day of corrupting the youth ahead of us.”

The last thing Alex remembers doing before she falls asleep is laughing.

God, she loves these two.

Chapter Text

Kara wasn’t entirely certain that she would ever be drunk. At least, not in the way that humans could be. Oh, she could be drunk on moments, a joke, a memory, an atmosphere, a kiss. But never, like, literally drunk.

Oh, how wrong she’d been.

Because last night, Kara remembers being truly, magnificently drunk. She’d had a lot to drink from that bottle of mystery liquid Alex gave her for Christmas. And now she honestly saw the appeal. She got why people did that, drank poison to feel happy for a little while. It was fun, to be so uninhibited.

Hangovers, however…

Her stomach lurches, and Kara leaps off the bed, displacing Maggie and Alex, zipping into the bathroom and emptying her stomach into the toilet. She feels someone lift her hair out of her faces and away from her neck, rubbing at her back soothingly. Alex, of course. She flushes away the mess and pants for a moment, not having felt this sick since she was a little girl on Krypton and had come down with the Kryptonian equivalent of the flu.

She decides she was very wrong; she does not understand why people do this to themselves.

Suddenly, Alex goes white and moves Kara out of her way before she, too, empties her stomach. Kara does her best to help, but her arms feel like they each weigh 10,000 tons and her head is spinning madly and all she really manages to do is blow some of her freeze breath on Alex’s sweaty face, something she’s done a million times when her sister was either sick or hungover.

 “Oh my god. Why did I drink so much? Why did I let you drink so much?” Alex moans, slumping onto the (thankfully very clean) bathroom floor. Her skin has lost its usual healthy glow and has been replaced by a sickly, pallid gray. There’s a light sheen of sweat coating her neck and face, and she has her eyes screwed shut.

“I think you said something about ‘sticking it to the man’,” Kara tells her morosely. “Rao, this is awful!”

“It’s only because we had way too much,” Alex sighs. “We’re dehydrated, too. So that doesn’t help.”

“Water sounds really good, actually,” Kara admits, moving to sit up before the room tilts crazily to the side and she lies back down with a dull thump. “Nope, never mind, no water for me.”

Alex huffs out a pained laugh. “Baby’s first hangover. Wanna take a selfie?”

“Alex, I swear to Rao, if I could figure out how my legs work I’d crawl over there and slap you,” Kara mutters darkly.

Alex raises a single finger into the air before jabbing it in Kara’s general direction, eyes still closed. “That is very fair, but please don’t.” The arm flops gracelessly to the ground. “If it makes you feel, like, any better at all, you’ll feel fine in about… three hours. You and your stupid, perfect, genetically engineered metabolism.”

And indeed, that does make Kara feel much better. “Thank Rao.” There’s a long moment of silence. “Hey Al?”

“Yeah, Kara?”

“So, I know it’s really gross, but… this tile feels so nice and cold on my skin, and I’m like, weirdly comfortable, and I just-“

“Kara,” Alex says, cutting her off. “You won’t be the first person to sleep on their bathroom floor. It happens. Roll with it, and shhhh.”

Kara nods and pulls a clean towel off of the towel bar to use as a pillow before crashing back into sleep without a backward glance.

 

It is here that Maggie finds them, snoring and disheveled. They’re lying perpendicular, their feet just barely touching, and the centerpiece to their odd sprawl is clearly the toilet.

She quickly snaps a picture to use as blackmail at a later date before hurrying upstairs to grab bottles of water and Gatorade for them. She decides to go about rousing Alex first, gently stroking her hair until her eyes open and getting her to brush her teeth and wipe her face with a wet cloth before being deposited unceremoniously back into bed. She uses much the same method on Kara, knowing that the blonde will be a lot less familiar with the routine than her sister is.

“Hey, partner. I need you to get up for me, okay?”

Kara’s nose scrunches and her bleary blue eyes take in Maggie hovering over her with some confusion. “Maggie, when did you grow?”

Maggie chuckles. “If only. You’re laying on the floor, Little Danvers. How are you feeling?”

Kara blinks up at her, clearly still confused. “’m sore. Why ‘m I sore?”

“You were throwing up, that usually makes you pretty sore,” Maggie tells her. “Can you sit up?”

She does without much difficulty, grumbling when her head gives a sharp, sudden throb but otherwise unbothered. “My mouth tastes bad, Maggie,” she says, brow crinkling in disgust.

“I’ll bet. Brush your teeth, have some water, then go to bed.”

Kara glances around for seemingly the first time. “Am I in your bathroom?”

“You are,” Maggie grins.

“Ick,” Kara replies simply, digging out a spare toothbrush from the drawer and brushing her teeth mechanically. She rinses and chugs most of the first water bottle Maggie presents her with in a long gulp, taking another from her gratefully.

“Wash four face and your neck, you’ll feel better, Little Danvers,” Maggie tells her.

Kara does as instructed before she allows herself to be led back to Maggie and Alex’s room. “I crashed your whole night!” she realizes loudly. “I’m sorry, Maggie!”

“Hey, no, none of that, you’ve scraped both of us off the pavement more than once. Now we’re just able to return the favor, alright?” Maggie soothes. “Nobody’s upset with you, kiddo.”

“Never drinking… whatever that was, ever again,” Kara moans.

“Everyone says that,” Maggie chuckles. “Next time, just don’t overdo it. We’ll help you out with that, too.”

Kara grumbles but finds herself too tired to argue. She doesn’t really feel sick anymore, but instead just bone-tired in a way she can’t equate to anything she’s ever experienced on Earth. She flops face-first onto the bed and curls up into a ball around Alex. Maggie chuckles at the sight, snapping another photo before quietly closing the door and climbing back into bed herself with her two favorite people in the world- her fiancée, and her partner. She curls up an Alex’s other side and sighs when she feels drowsy again almost immediately.

Being the responsible one isn’t too bad, she decides, flinging an arm across both of them.

**************

The third time Kara wakes up that day, she feels totally fine, aside from being, like, super thirsty. Luckily, she quickly locates a pile of water and Gatorade bottles, downing a few of each before venturing upstairs. There are sounds of life coming from the kitchen, and she pokes her head in to be greeted by Lucy, Martha, and Eliza. “No Clark yet?” she asks, yawning.

“Nah, he and Lois went into town- said they needed a while to hang out,” Martha dismisses. “Should be back this afternoon.”

Kara nods and accepts a hug from Eliza, who wrinkles her nose and pulls away quickly. “Kara, go shower, you smell like a bar bathroom,” she instructs.

Kara pouts. “I do? Dang, alright.”

“I’ll be happy to help you wash up,” Lucy teases.

“You had your shot,” Kara jokes. “Now I can wash my own back.”

Eliza simply rolls her eyes at them, used to their nonsense after nearly 15 years. “Go, Kara.”

Kara huffs at her in mock exasperation before trotting dutifully upstairs. She tries to be quiet going into her room, she really does, but it’s honestly no use- she’s loud when she’s attempting sneakiness and Lena is a  bit of a light sleeper.

“Kara?” she asks, yawning.

“Yeah, just me,” she assures her friend, shooting her a smile in the semi-dark. “I’m just grabbing some clothes, go back to sleep. It’s not even seven, yet.”

Lena scrubs sleepily at her eyes before blinking Kara into focus once more. “No, I need to get up. There’s meetings in Stockholm that I need to monitor in about-” she shifts to look at the digital alarm clock on the nightstand before grumbling “-twenty minutes from now.”

“D’you need the shower first? Because I can totally grab the next one if you do,” Kara offers.

Lena bites her lower lip, glancing between Kara and the clock before sighing, “I’m sorry, do you mind? I know you probably-“

“Hey, I’m free all day today,” Kara assures her with a smile. “You’re the one with the time crunch, you go ahead.”

Lena nods her thanks before gathering up a neatly-folded pile from the dresser and ducking out of the room.

Kara hums to herself, rooting around in her remaining clothes for something comfortable. She realizes that she definitely needs to do some laundry today, making a note to throw a load in once she cleans up a bit. She’s just started putting fresh sheets onto her bed when she hears singing coming from the bathroom.

Now, Kara knows, has been told, lectured, screamed at, over and over, not to listen in on other people. That it’s an unfair advantage and an invasion of privacy. But the thing is, sometimes she honestly can’t help it- the listening just sort of happens. And that’s what’s happening now, her super-hearing dialing in to Lena’s singing in the next room.

She doesn’t have the best voice Kara’s ever heard, but there’s a quality to it that she really likes, much the same as with her speaking voice. Something almost… smoky, though she’d never admit it because 1) she wouldn’t even know how to say that aloud to another person, and 2) her family and friends would literally never let either her or Lena hear the end of it. Ever.

So Kara decides to keep that particular thought to herself, even as she tilts her head, unconsciously trying to hear her better.

“…oh, but I thought I’d ask you, just the same. What’re you doin’ New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?”

Kara smirks, proud of the fact that Christmas is definitely starting to sink into Lena’s brain. It doesn’t hurt that this is one of Kara’s favorites.

“Wonder whose arms will hold you, good and tight, when it’s exactly 12-o’clock that night?” Kara sings under her breath.

“Welcoming in the New Year, New Year’s Eve.”

 

Lena exits the shower a few minutes later, quickly changing into jeans and a sweater and running a comb carefully through mass amounts of wet hair when she reenters the bedroom. “All yours,” she says with a smile. “Thanks again, I just never wake up right without a shower and coffee.”

“Of course! I know they have a pot brewed downstairs,” Kara says.

“Thank god,” Lena laughs. She stops for a minute and looks Kara over curiously. “No offense, but you seem pretty cheerful for someone who fell on their face last night. I thought for sure you’d be hungover.”

Kara laughs. “Oh, believe me, I was. I’ve already had adventures this morning, and I apparently stink, which is why Eliza sent me up to shower.”

Lena wrinkles her nose sympathetically. “Rough morning?”

“I can honestly say it’s been my worst morning ever on Earth,” Kara laughs. “I haven’t thrown up since I was a little kid, and- ew, sorry, that was probably too much information.”

Lena rolls her eyes. “Kara, I’m hardly a stranger to drinking to excess. Moreover, I am a scientist, so I don’t really get queasy easily.”

“Yeah, but you’re not like, a person scientist, are you?” Kara asks. At Lena’s surprised look, she becomes mildly worried. “Oh no, you are, aren’t you? Rao, sorry, I always say the wrong thing to you, don’t I? Open mouth, insert foot, Kara. No idea why you put up with me.”

Lena hums in thought, bobbling her head back and forth. “I think mostly because you always have snacks,” she decides with a grin. “You really haven’t googled me or anything, have you?”

Kara shakes her head with a laugh. “Nah, I save the cyber-stalking for Alex. Plus I figure, if I wanna know something about you, I can probably just, y’know, ask you. Since I know where you sleep, and all.”

Lena smiles brightly at that, something Kara doesn’t really understand, before wrapping the blonde up in a hug that takes Kara very much by surprise. “Thank you,” she says sincerely.

Kara responds automatically, her arms winding around Lena’s shoulders and tugging them closer together. “What for?”

Lena sighs and pulls back, a half-smile pulling at her mouth. “Just… just for being you, Kara Danvers.”

Kara smiles and pulls her back in for another hug, fighting the rising feelings of guilt swirling through her.

‘Oh, Rao. I’m in trouble.’

 

Kara does feel a lot better once she’s showered and clean, happily bounding down the stairs, usual smile fixed firmly in place.

Alex is wearing sunglasses at the table and shooting Kara halfhearted glares whenever she does something too cheerful. Like speak, move, eat, or breathe. Eliza seems to be making her deal with the hangover for a few hours as punishment, though she caves when everyone is cleaning up after breakfast, slipping the nondescript vial of her hangover helper into Alex’s hands. Lena, who had just stepped back into the house for a moment to grab some toast and more coffee, once again begins propositioning Eliza with insane sums of money to buy the formula, much to everyone’s amusement. She’s cut short when her watch beeps at her about something or other and she curses, playfully declaring that the recipe will one day be hers before she takes her breakfast back out to the office.

Kara gets very long lectures from both Eliza and Clark, about being responsible with substances and how to stay safe when using them (Eliza) and how she needs to be more careful if she’s going to be drinking in public, because outing herself as an alien because she’s drunk would be stupid and ruin her life (Clark). She doesn’t love getting lectured twice for the same thing, of course, but she knows they both have her best interests at heart, so she sits on the couch in the living room and dutifully takes her lumps with as much humility as the situation demands (apparently a lot).

Winn seems to think the whole thing hilarious. “I can’t believe I missed you being drunk!” he groans, flopping onto the couch with faux moodiness.

“That’s exactly what Maggie said,” Kara laughs. “Honestly, I don’t know why everyone cares so much. It was fun, this morning was not, end of story.”

“Really? That’s it?” he asks, looking disappointed. “No funny stories, no drunk-dials to old flames?”

“Old flames- how old are you, 70?” she laughs. “No! I just hung out with Alex and got more giggly than usual, that’s all.”

“Lame,” he declares. “So, hey, wanna play with the drone and annoy your cousin? I heard the lecture he gave you, it was brutal.”

This, Kara decides happily as they set up the drone he’s been building with Lena, is exactly why Winn Schott, Jr. is her very best friend in the world; plotting petty revenge on Superman for mild inconveniences.

Clark does, indeed, get annoyed by the sleigh drone following him wherever he goes. He gets even more annoyed by the fact that it plays ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ over and over and over. But he handles it with grace, choosing to focus on the fact that he can hear Kara and Winn giggling about it and he has to fight to not smile at their fun.

Even if it is at his expense.

Eventually Lucy gets wind of what they’re doing and joins them, cackling as she makes the drone hover just a few inches above his head. Contrary to popular belief, she’s actually rather fond of Clark. And of his alter ego, truth be told. But she also relishes any opportunity to pester her sister, and unfortunately for Clark, he is essentially an extension of Lois. So he gets dive-bombed by Santa’s sleigh for the afternoon. At least, until Lois rolls her eyes and snatches the drone out of the air and locks it in a cupboard, amid many protests from the younger set. Clark just smiles, grateful that he wasn’t forced to be the bad guy, and gives her a lingering kiss.

Lucy rolls her eyes and wanders off in search of Maggie, intent on plotting out the evening’s festivities, leaving Winn and Kara to entertain themselves.

“So, what do you wanna do?” Winn asks. “Because, I mean, we could go skating or something.”

Kara snorts. “That went really well last time, Winn. I’m pretty sure if I were to help an old lady cross the street, Kal would have a heart attack.”

Winn shrugs ruefully. “So what do you wanna do?”

Kara looks around for inspiration, and after a moment her eyes fall on a book Maggie had left on the coffee table. A slow smile spread across her face. “Well, there is something I always forget I want to do while I’m home….”

 

Winn is holding a camera, trying very hard to contain his giggles as he calls, “There! In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s-”

Kara lets lose a deafening roar and stomps into frame, face screwed up into her approximation of a monster, and begins decimating the sprawling snowman village she and Winn have spent the afternoon building in the back yard, complete with tiny, terrified snow-citizens. She kicks down houses and throws snowmen carelessly, roaring and snarling all the while, and it’s honestly all Winn can do to keep the camera steady as she stomps around like a monster.

She meticulously sets about destroying every building and snowman with the usual boundless enthusiasm with which she approaches nearly everything in her life, and she’s having a blast.

***********

Lena exits the outbuilding, being sure to lock it behind her, and starts back to the house. She stops, however, at the strange sight before her. Kara is stomping around, roaring, and Winn is giggling helplessly, face pressed to a fancy camera that he’s no doubt ‘borrowed’ from James Olsen. Dozens of small snowmen and snowwomen are felled by Kara’s mighty feet.

Lena recognizes the scene, of course. Calvin and Hobbes had been a favorite of Lex’s- and therefore hers- when they were children, and this panel in particular had always made her laugh. She covers her mouth to stifle her laughter as Kara lets out another exaggerated roar/stomp combination. Evidently Kara hears her, because she whips around with a broad smile. “Lena! C’mon! We’ll be monsters together!”

Normally, Lena wouldn’t. She’d find some excuse about needing to get more work done, or taking a shower, or she’d just shoot the idea down with a precision lift of a brow.

But instead, Lena steps forward, shaking her head ruefully at herself and her inability to deny Kara anything that makes her face light up like that. She joins Kara and Winn in their game, even roaring once or twice, much to their delight, though she freely admits that she isn’t as adept at it as Kara seems to be.

**************

Occupied as they all are with their antics, they fail to see that their loud laughter has drawn attention.

Clark is standing on the back porch, leaning onto the railing, watching them, a small smile on his face as he watches his younger cousin and the younger sister of his greatest foe play together in the snow like children, laughing uproariously and struggling to stay upright. Their faces are flushed, all three of them, and it honestly reminds him of a scene from a cheesy Christmas movie he’s sure he’s seen before.

Arms loop around his waist, and he smiles fully, leaning back into Lois as she presses a kiss to his broad, muscled back. “Hey, I wondered where you went.” He juts his chin forward, and when Lois’ eyes fall on the scene before them, she grins. “That is just way too fucking cute.”

He hums in agreement, pulling her around himself so he can tuck her into his chest. “They really are,” he agrees quietly.

“Please tell me you got a picture of Lena fucking Luthor pretending to be a monster and destroying a snowman village,” Lois says.

His dimples stand out in sharp relief against the stumble on his cheeks. “Don’t be silly. ‘Course I did.”

“Good,” she replies, punctuating this with a kiss to his lips before pulling them back inside the house to help with dinner. “We’re decorating the tree tonight. Are you ready for the inevitable shitshow?”

He chuckles. “Can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

When evening comes, they celebrate the final night of Hanukkah, and their normal (and isn’t it odd, how quickly all this has become normal to Lena?) large family dinner.

“So, Hanukkah is officially over, Christmas reigns supreme in the Danvers house, where the hell are all the decorations?” Maggie asks, poking the tines of her fork sharply into the back of Winn’s hand when he tries to steal a roll off her plate. “Because last year we had to look through the garage, the attic, and all of the pole barns when they were in the hall closet the whole time.”

Winn pouts and shakes his hand out before replying. “Okay, first of all, I’ve apologized for that. That was totally my bad. Second, I left myself a detailed email of where everything is, and all I have to do is pull it up. You’re welcome, everyone.”

“Awesome! Anything to avoid sifting through… whatever Eliza has in her lab,” Lucy says with a shudder. “No offense, Eliza, but there’s things that are alive out there.”

“None taken, Lucy. Now, everyone clean up and we can get all the decorating started!”

James is clearly the most eager, which is equal parts funny and endearing as he quickly scoops up several plates (including Clark’s, when it’s clear he’s still eating) and bolts off to the kitchen. Lucy heaves a sigh and piles some food on her own empty plate before handing it to Clark, who is still holding his fork halfway to his mouth, brows knitted in confusion. “Sorry, he’s like a giant kid with Christmas,” she explains fondly, clearing away the emptier plates and dishes before following her boyfriend into the kitchen.

Alex and James set off to find the tree stand, with Kara yelling something about bringing it in before the New Year after them. Lois and Martha start looking over Winn’s list, and Lena isn’t totally sure of what to do with herself.

Decorating is evidently a much bigger deal than she’s anticipated.

“Kara, what do I do?”

“Oh! Well, usually, Clark and I put up the lights outside, but I know you don’t like heights, so help Eliza and Martha with the other decorating stuff, I guess?” Kara shrugs a bit helplessly. “Honestly, I just do what Eliza and Martha say they want me to.” And then she’s being tugged out the door by Clark and Winn.

“C’mon, Luthor, stick with us. We get the fun jobs.”

She turns to see Maggie and Lucy Lane grinning slyly at her. “What exactly are the fun jobs?”

“The ones that don’t involve stringing popcorn or untangling Christmas lights,” Lucy says with a wink. “C’mon, up to the attic.”

Lena is more than a little hesitant, between Maggie’s known proclivities as a troublemaker and Lucy’s suspected ones, but she’s never been much good at sewing anyways and dammit, she really wants to know what they’re up to. “Alright.”

Their matching Cheshire-Cat grins do nothing to soothe Lena’s fears.

 

“So why, exactly, are we in the attic?”

“This is where they hide all the embarrassing ornaments,” Maggie informs her, producing a jar of… something from… somewhere on her person. “It is our duty as friends and significant others to find them and put them back where they go- dead center on the tree.”

“Significant others…?”

“Well, I started this years ago,” Lucy explained. “Then Lois helped, and now Maggie, and now you.”

Lena’s curious, now. “You and Alex?”

“No! God no. She’s terrifying now, but she’s mellowed out a lot the last few years- thank you, Sawyer-“ Maggie grins and makes a deep bow. “No, Kara, back when we were kids. God, we would’ve been what? Fifteen or sixteen? Young, anyways.” She shakes her head.

“Oh. I didn’t realize you and Kara had been… involved.” Lena’s pretty sure she managed to keep her voice even.

“So Dad was always travelling and part of his deal with Lois was that she got me for Christmas, no matter how I actually felt about it.” Lucy scoffs. “So, Christmas with the Kent and Danvers clans every year since I was like, 14. Kara and I were the kids, compared to everyone else, and Alex was kinda just an asshole back then, so we hung out a lot. You can probably imagine the rest.”

Lena’s pretty sure she can, though she’s trying very hard not to.

“Anyways, Alex hid all the embarrassing ornaments one year, and Kara and I snuck off to find them and put them all over the tree. Then I teased Kara about a couple- and Clark about a lot whenever we were at the Kent’s- and suddenly theirs went AWOL too. So now, it is our sacred duty to find those ornaments every year, put them where they belong, and ruthlessly mock our closest friends and loved ones.”

Lena nods. “What’s in the jar?”

Maggie’s grin widens. “This, my good Luthor, is a Sawyer Distilling original. Apple Pie moonshine, homemade with love. Also part of our tradition.” She passes the jar to Lena, who takes a hesitant sniff before shrugging and drinking a bit.

“Whoo! How strong is that?” she coughs.

“I dunno, like, 150 proof, or something? I’ve used it to light wet firewood when Danvers dragged me camping once.”

“I can absolutely believe that.” Lena takes another swig and passes it to a grinning Lucy. “It’s really good though. I’m honestly surprised.”

“Mama Maggie doesn’t mix bad drinks,” Maggie chides lightly. “Trust your elders, Little Luthor.” She shuffles around for a moment before the flashlight on her phone comes on. “Now, we have embarrassing macaroni ornaments and unphotogenic middle-school photos to find!”

“Oh! Found the letter Alex wrote ‘To Satan’!” Lucy crows, digging through a box nearby.

“Nice! I’ve got a glitter sighting here, but that could be from anything Kara’s ever made,” Maggie says. Seeing Lena standing around, Maggie waves her over and sets her to work digging through a few boxes.

“I think this is an ornament?” Lena hedges, holding aloft a bauble made of popsicle sticks and tissue paper.

“Ha! That’s an Alex ornament alright. Oh, look! It’s even a grumpy face one!”

“All Alex’s stuff is grumpy faced,” Lucy calls from across the attic. “She was a genuinely grumpy person before Maggie annoyed her into gayness.”

Maggie swings around and points at Lucy. “Okay, first of all, yes, that’s exactly how that happened. Second, she was a very cute grumpy baby; look at her angry little face!”

Lena leans over the detective’s shoulder to see the picture in question and it is, indeed, a little Alex, storm-faced and scowling fiercely at the camera. “It is cute,” Lena admits, grinning.

“Too bad there aren’t any like that for Kara, huh? I mean, they had us do a ton of these dorky ornaments for the first few years after she was adopted, so she didn’t feel left out, but it’s not really the same,” Lucy says blandly. “I bet she was a cute kid.”

Lena blinks for a moment. It’d barely occurred to her that Kara’s ornaments would all be from when she was a bit older, since she’d lost everything in the fire that’d taken her parents. “What was she like, when she was younger?”

Lucy frowns in concentration. “Hmm. I’m not the best person to ask, I only every really saw her at like, holidays and stuff. But she was quiet, shy. Really curious, though. And wicked smart, she was helping Alex with her AP Calc when she was like, 12. I definitely made her help me with my homework over break every year. Except history and English. For someone who speaks a dozen languages, you’d think she’d be better at spelling. And history has never exactly been her strong suit.”

“A dozen? She told me six,” Lena hedges.

Lucy shrugs. “Eh, maybe I’m miscounting, but she’s modest, so who knows? But she was a good kid, really nice. I always liked her, and I don’t like most people, present company excluded.”

“And you two… dated?”

“I don’t know that you could really call it that,” Lucy laughs. “We were kids, trapped in a house with a bunch of happy adults and grumpy Alex. We snuck around and hid in closets and kissed in the dark. It was all honestly pretty innocent, all things considered.”

“How’d it end?” Maggie asks. At Lucy’s rolled eyes, she protests, “What? You’re telling baby gay stories, I got invested, now spill.”

Lucy sighs. “Well, like I said, it was all pretty innocent. We weren’t, like, together, and we were friends before anything else. The next year, she was dating some guy she went to school with and I was happily making waves at military school. She’s still one of my best friends, even though I’m the worst and suck at keeping in touch.”

Lena nods. “I’m pretty sure we all have that friend, honestly.”

“Oh yeah. Darcy Williams was my ‘figuring shit out’ friend,” Maggie agrees sagely.

“Veronica Sinclair was mine.”

“What?!”

“Roulette?”

Lena’s brow furrows. “Yes, she started calling herself that, then got kicked out of school. How did you-“

“Uh, classified,” Lucy says. “She’s someone I’ve crossed paths with, that’s all I can say.”

Lena huffs and rolls her eyes. “Lawyers.”

Lucy shrugs, unapologetic. “If it makes you feel any better, you’re lucky that she was your ‘figuring stuff out’ friend and not your ‘U-Haul and wedding rings’ friend.”

Lena hums. “Fair enough. So tell me, has everyone here had a thing for Kara? I mean, not the people related to her, obviously. Like, I know Winn did, you did, Maggie-“

“Eugh, no. Never ever. She’s like a baby,” Maggie protests. “We were police partners only.”

Lucy just shrugs and laughs, eyeing Lena knowingly. “What can I say? Everyone’s a little in love with Kara Danvers.”

Lena can certainly understand that sentiment.

******************

Kara’s not used to having to pretend to use a ladder to hang up the Christmas lights. Everyone who comes to Christmakah already knows that she and Clark are aliens, that Clark is Superman.

Everyone except Lena, unfortunately.

So now, in order to keep up appearances, they’ve had to dig a ladder out of deep storage in the garage (because who needs a ladder when your daughter/sister/friend can fly) and Kara’s balancing precariously on it as Clark and Winn move the ladder around. “Hey, watch it, guys! The whole thing’s moot if you throw me off the ladder!”

“Sorry, Kara!”

“How’s it going out there?”

Kara yelps and almost falls again, clinging to the string of lights and the rungs of the ladder for dear life. Hands quickly fist into her coat and tug her forward so she’s leaning on the roof. She blinks and realizes it’s Lena, hanging halfway out of the attic window, her worried face inches from Kara’s own.

Once she’s sure that Kara isn’t going to fall, Lena lets go of Kara’s coat, resting her hands on the windowsill instead, smirking a bit. “You know, I’ve always prided myself on being able to throw people off-balance, but that was more extreme than I’m used to.”

Kara huffs out a laugh. “Yeah, well, what can I say? You’ll be the death of me, Lena Luthor.”

Lena grins. “I certainly hope not. I probably wouldn’t be allowed to hang out with your mom anymore if I killed you.”

“I knew you were only in it for the nerds,” Kara laments playfully. “What are you doing in the attic?”

“Drinking with Maggie and Lucy.”

“Oh Rao, good luck with that,” Kara laughs. She leans a little closer to whisper conspiratorially, “You know, if you guys are looking for all Alex’s embarrassing stuff, it’s in the rafters this year.”

Lena tilts her head back and squints at the ceiling, almost invisible in the dark. “I don’t see anything up there.”

“Well duh, you guys didn’t turn the lights on. Of course you can’t see!” Kara snorts.

Lena blinks at her for a moment before she turns and yells, “Sawyer! There are actual lights in here?”

“Duh.”

“Then why the hell are we using flashlights to dig through these boxes?”

“Aesthetic,” Lucy replies seriously.

Lena heaves a sigh and turns back to the window. “Your friends are ridiculous.”

“Yeah, but I think I’ll keep them anyway,” Kara grins up at her.

“You may as well, they’re already housebroken.” A loud crash sounds behind her, and Lena winces. “Well, mostly.”

It’s another Hallmark moment, Lena decides, with Kara dripping with lit, multicolored Christmas lights and Lena leaning out a window to talk to the girl standing on a ladder. It’s lovely, how all the lights dance in Kara’s eyes and play off the planes of her nose and cheekbones and- ‘Seriously, are all small towns like this? They trap people by just being all cutesy and photogenic and being full of moments like this?’

Kara glances down at the ground and huffs out a breath. “I’ve gotta finish putting these up.”

“And I should probably stop them from doing… whatever it is they’re doing,” Lena says, smiling warmly. “See you in a bit.”

Kara grins and then the ladder is being moved down the roofline by Winn and Clark. Lena watches for a moment before shaking her head fondly and pulling back into the house, closing the window behind her. She turns and sees Maggie and Lucy grinning knowingly at her.

“Oh, shut up,” she grumbles.

“We didn’t say a thing, Little Luthor,” Maggie says innocently.

“Not a one,” Lucy agrees.

Lena huffs out a fond laugh and gets back to work.

*********************************

“No!”

“Babe, c’mon, it’s so cute!” Maggie cajoles, smiling winningly.

No!

Maggie rolls her eyes and set the box of homemade ornaments in front of a delighted Eliza. “Mom’s ruling is final.”

“That’s not even fair, you know she’s gonna say yes!”

“I’ve never claimed to play fair, Danvers.”

Eliza’s clearly amused. “Maggie’s right; these are my favorite ornaments, and they should be on the tree.”

Alex groans in frustration. “But Mom-“

“Oh, god, I haven’t heard that tone since you were 19,” Eliza laughs. “Quit being so crabby and help everyone decorate.”

“But-“

Alexandra.”

“Fine, but I want it known that I’m doing this under protest,” Alex grumbles, snatching up the box and tromping over to the tree.

Winn and James are currently arguing over the best way to light the tree, Winn insisting on a double-layer light technique and James pulling for something more traditional. Eventually, Winn gets his way, pointing out that the tree will be more photogenic if they wrap white lights closer to the base and colored lights further out on the branches, and the two men get to work winding the strands around the tree.

Lucy, Lois, and Maggie are whispering in the corner, shuffling through several boxes of decorations and seemingly arguing over what goes where. Clark and Martha are in the kitchen baking sugar cookies.

“Whatcha thinkin’ about?”

Lena jumps a bit and whips around, a rueful-looking Kara behind her. “Jesus, you scared me.”

“Sorry. I can be sneaky.”

“As someone sharing a room with you, I can assure you that you’re not,” Lena says drily.

Kara attempts a pout but ends up grinning. “That’s probably fair, but now we’re even for earlier. Now c’mon, help with the knick-knacks. There’s like, 1,000 boxes worth to scatter around.”

“I know you’re exaggerating, but having seen how many tree ornaments you seem to have, I’m shaky as to the level of exaggeration,” Lena says.

Kara just grins.

 

“Why do you have this many nativity scenes?” Lena wonders aloud.

Kara just shrugs, rearranging the wise men. “Jeremiah liked them, so now we seem to have a new one every year. Go grab the gold reindeer; they go in the front hall with the candlesticks.”

Lena nods and sets off to find the statues, rummaging through a couple mostly-empty boxes before finding them. She sets them on the table in the hall, shuffling them around until they look like they’re supposed to be there. Glancing over, she sees Lucy perched on James’ shoulders, fiddling with something in the door to the living room. She’s curious, but questioning Lucy about why she does anything is genuinely exhausting, so she shrugs and moves back to the dining room.

Winn, in the five minutes that she’s been gone, has managed to completely tangle himself in tree lights, garland, and tinsel. There’s even a red Christmas bulb dangling from his ear. His eyes land on Lena and he pouts pitifully. “Help? I asked James, but he just laughed at me and took a bunch of pictures of me all tangled up.”

Lena laughs and helps him unwrap himself, though she still has no idea how he managed to do such a thorough job in such a short amount of time. When he’s finally free, he makes for the living room, strands of lights trailing behind him.

Kara rounds the corner shortly after he does, juggling several boxes in her arms. “Lena, can you- hey, what’s up?”

Lena’s brow furrows. “What do you mean?”

Kara shrugs. “I dunno, you just looked, like, really far away.”

Lena quirks her mouth in a fair approximation of a smile. “Nothing, I just- I’ve never decorated for Christmas before.”

“You put up a tree in your apartment, right? That counts.”

“If I remember to, yes. But that’s it. Decorators do the lobbies in my building and at work, and I’m not really home enough to justify going all out.”

Kara nods. “Well good, because now you can get 20 years worth of decorating in tonight! I swear, Eliza has so much cra-“

“What’s that, Kara?” Eliza asks, sticking her head in the room, eyes narrowed playfully.

“-fts. So much crafts. All the crafts.”

Lena snickers as Eliza frowns and continues down the hallway. “That was very smooth, Kara. Did you do lots of undercover assignments? You clearly have the potential.”

“Oh, shut up, you,” Kara grouses playfully. “I’ll have you know I can lie really well if I have to.”

“I know, I’ve seen it.” At Kara’s stricken look, Lena clarifies, “To my mother, at the Wayne Industries gala. You said you were really into science.”

“Oh, that’s not a lie,” Kara says, waving it off. “I was going to be the youngest person admitted into… a science program, before my parents died and I had to move.”

“Alex said you were bored to tears when she used to drag you to fairs and conventions?”

Kara snorts. “Well, yeah, it was all boring science. I’m less about computers and more about things going boom. Or flying, I will also settle for flying.”

“In a good experiment, nothing should ‘go boom’, Kara.”

“In a fun experiment, everything should go boom, Lena.”

Lena sighs. “You’re hopeless. And also never allowed into my labs.”

“Y’know what, that’s probably really good planning on your part,” Kara agrees with a grin. “Now help me with this stupid garland, and then Winn and Jim- James- should be done with the tree, then we can do ornaments and decorate cookies and drink cocoa, and-“

“I am seriously going to rethink my exercise regimen, eating all this food with all of you every night. I’m going to end up the size of a house,” Lena says, patting her middle morosely.

“You will not, you’re gorgeous,” Kara scoffs. “Seriously, you look like a statue of a Greek goddess.” ‘And I’d know, since I’ve actually met a Greek goddess. Well, demi-goddess. Whatever, still counts.’

Lena’s about six shades of red when Kara looks up at her, and the blonde smiles at her friend- ‘Friends say stuff like that to each other, right?’-. “You’ve got to stop saying things like that, Kara Danvers. I’ll get a big head.”

“I don’t think you would, actually. Too modest,” Kara argues cheekily. She finally gets the garland untangled from all the other ornaments- including what appears to be a bunch of wooden Easter eggs on a string (which is confusing, as they’ve never celebrated Easter- ever) and with Lena’s help she makes quick work of wrapping it around the banister.

“It looks like a Christmas movie in here,” Kara says proudly.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Lena grins, going so far as to bump her shoulder into Kara’s, to which the blonde reels back, wincing playfully.

“KARA IT’S TIME FOR THE TREE!!!”

Kara actually leaps off the stairs, landing with a heavy thud on the floor and scrambling into the living room, leaving Lena laughing in her wake. She follows after her friend at a more sedate pace, only to bump into her in the doorway, where she’s glaring at a laughing Lucy.

“Lucy, c’mon, this isn’t funny,” Kara growls, but Lucy is unrelenting, keeping her in place by poking at her with a broom.

“Sorry Kara, rules are rules. You can’t get out from under the mistletoe until someone gives you a kiss!” Lucy crows, completely unapologetic. “It’s very bad luck.”

Lena glances up and sees the offending sprig of mistletoe that has Kara ‘trapped’.

And then, rather suddenly, Lena realizes that she, too, is stuck under the mistletoe.

‘Oh, fuck.’

“We got Luthor, too!” Lucy laughs, giving Maggie a very enthusiastic high five. “Ha! Now you’re both just waiting on a kiss.”

Lena’s trying to fight the blush she just knows is spreading up her neck and across her face. “I don’t think-“

“Don’t care,” Lucy interrupts. “Everyone else did it. Even Winn got a kiss from Eliza.”

Kara turns her outrage on her friend, who immediately raises his hands innocently. “On the cheek! She gave me a kiss on the cheek!” he squeaks. “I did not kiss your mom!”

“That counts?” Lena asks.

“’Course it does,” Lucy scoffs. “Too many people here are related to do it any other way.”

“Oh, alright then.” And with uncharacteristic boldness, Lena leans over and plants a kiss on Kara’s cheek.

 Asked later, Lena will blame the wine they had with dinner, or- more likely- Maggie’s moonshine. She’ll blame the atmosphere, and the fact that she hasn’t felt this warm and welcomed and happy in she doesn’t even know how long.

She’ll blame the stress from the Cadmus threat, and her anxiety about whatever moves her mother will make next.

She’ll blame the crackle of wood on the fire as Alex pokes and prods at it, and the heady scent of pine and cinnamon and citrus in the air.

But the fact of the matter is, as she so rapidly becomes aware the moment her lips make contact with Kara’s skin, that she’s wanted to give Kara a kiss since the blonde had pulled her out of that car almost three weeks ago.

Scratch that, she doesn’t want to give Kara a kiss. She wants to kiss Kara. Actively kiss her, with all cylinders firing- hands, lips, teeth, and tongue. She wants to kiss Kara.

‘Holy shit, I want to kiss Kara.’

She pulls away as soon as the thought enters her head, leaving a perfect red lip print dead center on Kara’s dimple, blushing furiously. She forces forward a smug grin and asks, “Will that suffice?”

Lucy huffs good-naturedly. “Well, it wasn’t quite as spectacular as I was hoping for-”

‘Speak for yourself.’

“-but I guess it’ll do.”

“Good.” And with that, Lena starts unboxing decorations, looking quizzically at Kara, still frozen in the doorway. “You coming?”

“No, but I bet she’s breathing fast,” Maggie snickers.

Lena rolls her eyes and flips Maggie off without looking.

***********************

Winn whips out his phone and quickly types up a group message to everyone in on their plot to get Kara and Lena together.

Winn: GUYZ

Winn: WTH

Winn: DID U C THT?!?!?!?!

Alex: Of course we did, Winn

Alex: We literally arranged the whole thing then watched it happen

Alex: Also, Maggie and Lucy, you owe me $20 each

Maggie: I can’t believe Little Danvers wimped out!!!

Lois: I can

Alex: I can

Alex: My sister is like, Captain of the good ship Denial

Lois: This is ridiculous

Lois: Look at them

Lois: All lovey and cute

Lucy: Ur right, its disgusting

Lucy: im gonna wreck it

Lois: LUCY I SWEAR TO GOD

Maggie: IF YOU RUIN LD’S CHANCE TO GET LAID I WILL BREAK YOU

Alex: Maggie! We talked about this!!!

Winn: Lucy dnt u dare

Winn: this is bigger thn u

Lucy: Prudes

Maggie: SHE STILL HASN’T WIPED OFF THE LIPSTICK

Alex: Oh wait, she’s gonna

Alex: Omfg, she just touched it when she thought no one was watching

Alex: and smiled

Maggie: Stop, she did not

Lois: She did, I saw it too

Winn: #shook

Lucy: OMG, on this side of the tree Lenas telling Kara wht a cute kid she was

Lucy: & teasing her all cute & flirty

Winn: Staaahhppp

Maggie: GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaa

Lois: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Winn: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Lucy: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa

Alex: AAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Maggie: Aw, babe, you stole my gay

*********************

Kara glances around, noticing not for the first time that most everyone is glued to their phones. “What’s with them?” she asks, nudging James.

He shrugs helplessly. “I dunno. Lucy keeps, like, cackling. It’s freaking me out, honestly.” He shudders slightly before turning to face her with a warm smile. “So, you finish all your shopping yet?”

“Rao, I wish. I’m stuck on a couple presents,” Kara groans. “Like, I was gonna get Lois a really nice fountain pen set, but they sold out! So now I don’t know what to get for her. And Christmas is in like, 4 days, basically.”

“Hmm. She likes weird stuff. I got her a little green alien bobble-head like, years ago, and it’s still on her desk at the Planet because she thinks it’s hilarious. Meanwhile, the custom stationary I got her last year is nowhere to be found. Get her something that she’ll think is weird.”

“Are you talking about me, Jimothy?” Lois asks, moving to lean affectionately against him.

He laughs out a groan. “Seriously? I thought we were done with ‘Jimothy’.”

“We’re never done with  Jimothy,” she informs him primly. “Hey, Kara? You’ve got some lipstick on your face. Riiiight there.”

On the other side of the tree, Lena stops laughing abruptly.

“Oh, I, ah, I guess I forgot,” Kara mumbles, swiping at her face with her sleeve halfheartedly.

“Uh-huh. So, what are we talking about?”

“Well…”

************

It’s hours later, when everyone’s gone to bed, that Lena is gently shaken awake by Kara. “No, I’m sleeping, Kara,” she mutters. “No more cookies. Too fat.”

But Kara’s insistent, merely grinning and shaking her harder. “For the 500th time, you are the furthest thing from fat. Now c’mon, this is the best part of decorating the tree!”

She sleepily follows her friend down the stairs, fighting back a yawn, and Kara leads them into the living room- “Don’t worry, I took the mistletoe down already.”-where, surprisingly, pillows and blankets are scattered around the base of the darkened tree. “Now, I know you were all comfy and warm, but I promise this is worth it,” Kara assures her, taking her hand and pulling her down to the floor. She makes sure Lena is settled with her head under the branches before she leans away and fiddles with something. “Now, I figured, since you’ve never decorated a tree, you’ve probably never gotten to see the best view, so…”

And then the tree lights up, and, cheesy as it sounds, the sight takes Lena’s breath away. It’s something that’s hard to describe, the way the lights are reflected and refracted off the ornaments and the multicolored shine of the needles. The scent of pine is pleasantly overwhelming, the room is still warm from the embers burning low in the hearth, and somewhere nearby, there’s Christmas music playing. Kara settles next to her, heads together on a large throw pillow from the couch.

“See?” Kara whispers. “Magic.”

“I hate to say it, Kara, but you were wrong,” Lena whispers back hoarsely.

“Oh, do you hate it? I’m so sorry, it’s just one of my favorite things to do after we decorate, and-“

“No! No, not that, just I… I have, done this before,” Lena explains softly. “I just didn’t remember.” When Kara looks over at her questioningly, Lena gives her a wavering smile. “I did this with my mum, once, when I was really small. Before she died. I mean, obviously it was before she died. But she and I lay down on the floor, just like this, and looked up at the tree through the branches. It was a lot smaller than this one, and there weren’t half as many lights and decorations, but…” she laughs, and it’s watery and her vision is blurring and somehow that makes the view of the tree all the more beautiful, blurred and wavering and perfect.

“Oh, gosh, Lena, I always seem to- I always make you cry, when I’m trying to be nice!” Kara frets. “I’m so so-“

Lena shakes her head quickly, laying her hand over Kara’s. “No, don’t. It’s… I’d forgotten that we did that. It was so long ago, and I was so young… thank you, for helping me remember.” She gives Kara’s hand a firm, reassuring squeeze, and turns her attention back to the tree. “I don’t know if I said it already, but this is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with me.”

Kara turns her hand over and links their finger loosely together. After a beat or two, in which Lena once again forgets how to breathe, she asks, timidly, “Is this okay?”

Lena squeezes her fingers and smiles. “It’s okay.”

 

They’re both asleep before the Christmas album on Kara’s phone stops playing, heads tucked together, Lena snoring lightly, and Kara's arm inevitably thrown over Lena.

Chapter Text

Alex isn’t entirely sure what she was expecting to find in the living room, if not the scene before her.

She knows that Kara’s very favorite thing is to lay under the tree, before it’s crowded by presents and all manner of decorations, and she’s been doing so since her first year with them. It’s always been Alex’s self-appointed duty to make sure that her sister eventually goes to bed, knowing her proclivity for falling asleep under the boughs.

But this is a first, Kara having brought someone with her to lie under the tree. And it’s Lena.

Of course it’s Lena.

They’re sharing a pillow, raven-black and sunburst gold hair haloed around their heads. Lena’s on her back, one hand tangled with Kara’s. Kara’s free arm is thrown protectively across the younger woman’s stomach, and they’re both snoring lightly.

Fighting a fond smile (and losing), Alex snaps a quick shot on her phone before she shakes Kara gently. “Hey, sleepyhead, why don’t you go up to bed?”

Kara blinks awake, eyelids heavy, to see Alex hovering over her, smiling softly. “Time ‘zit?”

“It’s still early, go on up to bed. And take Luthor with you- humans don’t always do well when they sleep on the ground.”

Kara yawns, nodding and rolling to her feet. “I feel bad; I already woke her up to bring her down here.”

“Just carry her, then, dork,” Alex snorts. “It’s not like she’s too heavy for you.”

Kara blinks sleepily, seemingly not having considered this, and scoops Lena up into her arms. Lena’s face scrunches a bit at the shift in position, but thankfully she doesn’t wake up.

“Heavy sleeper,” Alex observes.

“I’m just sneaky,” Kara argues, and then she’s carrying Lena up the stairs with a whispered, “G’night. Love you, Al.”

Alex watches her go and shakes her head, amused. “Hopeless. Totally fucking hopeless.”

**********

Lena wakes up in the room she’s sharing with Kara, though she’s not exactly sure how she got there, since she remembers falling asleep under the tree. She stretches, noting that Kara must already be up and about, and grabs some clothes before heading for the shower. “Hopefully there’s still some hot water.”

It doesn’t even occur to her that she’s never been as quietly pleased with the idea of being out of hot water as she is now. She’s never had to worry about it at all, honestly; between the billions in her bank account and the empty homes she’s always occupied, there’s never been a reason for the hot water to run out.

But now, sharing a fairly small house with 10 other people, it’s something she thinks about.

It’s just not something she’s unhappy about.

She quickly showers (there was just enough hot water to get clean before it turned lukewarm) and changes, trotting down the stairs to hear loud arguing coming from the dining room.

“…kidding me! There’s no way!” possibly Lois. Or Lucy. Honestly, their voices are pretty similar.

“No, I swear! Plucked right out of the air!” definitely James.

Curious, Lena makes a quick stop in the kitchen for a cup of coffee before venturing to the crowded dining room, where most everyone is currently listening to the tall man tell a story, long arms gesticulating wildly. She leans against the door frame to listen in, sipping at her coffee.

“So there I was, falling really damn fast and all of a sudden- whoosh!- Superman on scene. And I’m upside-down, he caught me by the ankle, and still holding onto this damn pie, knowing that if I drop it Thanksgiving is ruined and Lois will kill me because it’s the last one in the city. And, you know, if a pie falls on someone from that high up, that person is dead.”

“Death by pie, what a way to go,” Kara muses.

“So anyways, I’m hanging upside down a few thousand feet in the air, holding onto this pie for dear life, and this asshole alien starts chasing us. Like, zipping after us faster than I could even see. And Superman is just like ‘Hang on!’ and all I can think is that I’m gonna die with pie in my hands. So now Superman is flying fast as hell through the city, and I am not ashamed to admit how much bloody murder I screamed. Eventually, the dude leaves us alone, and Supes drops me off outside my apartment. Which was really nice, except it’s across town from where I had been and where I was going, so now I’ve survived an alien attack, flying upside down through Metropolis, and I kept the damn pie intact the whole time, but there’s no way I’m getting to Lois’ place on time because Superman dropped me off at the wrong house, and now she’s gonna kill me regardless.”

Everyone’s laughing now, and even Lena is chuckling behind her hand in the doorway.

“So I call Lois and tell her what happened, and what does she do? Yells at me, for forgetting the pie and then making up some ridiculous story to cover it up.”

Lois grins and shrugs. “In my defense, it sounded totally ridiculous and I think your voice was similar to that of an infant girl when you were talking to me.”

“So, I ate that whole pie out of spite. I earned that pie,” James declares, slapping his hand down on the table, grinning widely. “And you know what? It was the best pie I’ve ever had.”

There’s a loud laugh from all present, before Kara turns and notices Lena hovering in the doorway. “Lena! Come eat!”

Lena shuffles into the room amid a chorus of greetings, and Clark shuffles over a bit so she can sit beside Kara.

“So, Little Luthor, you had a bunch of stuff get delivered this morning,” Maggie says, grinning knowingly. “Anything special?”

Lena plays dumb. “Packages? I had a few parts delivered for a prototype I’m working on…”

Maggie’s smug. “Uh-huh. Well, we put them out in Eliza’s office so nobody-“ she shoots a pointed glare at Kara- “got into them.”

“Thanks, Maggie,” Lena says with a smile.

Kara seems intent on loading up Lena’s plate for her, and, when she’s finally satisfied with her work, she looks at Lena expectantly. Lena sighs loudly and starts in, grinning at her friend.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Lena,” Kara says seriously.

“Kara, you say that about every meal,” Eliza laughs.

“I do not! Only breakfast!”

“You said it about ‘second breakfast’ when you watched Lord of the Rings with Winn,” Alex says.

“Still breakfast, still counts,” Kara replies.

“You said it about sticky buns!”

“They were from Noonan’s, Lucy!”

“You’ve said it about leftover Chinese you found buried in the fridge,” Lois observes. “More than once.”

“Leftovers? In my house? That disrespect for food is unacceptable,” Kara declares.

“You’ve said it while eating discount Halloween candy in the aisle of a Walgreens,” Winn points out helpfully, shrinking when Kara glares at him. “Well you have!”

“Okay, fine, I like food, sue me. Clark, back me up, here!”

All attention turns to Clark, who has just taken a huge bite of French toast. His cheeks are bulging slightly and there’s a smidge of syrup on his chin and he looks like a little kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar. “Mmph?”

Martha sighs affectionately. “Clark Jonathan Kent, I’d ask if you were raised in a barn, but you sorta were, I suppose, so that point is moot.”

He swallows loudly and swipes at his mouth with a napkin. “Sorry, Ma.”

Kara’s grinning smugly. “See? Clark and I are on the same page.”

Alex wants to argue this point, but can’t do so very effectively with Lena- who is still somehow, mercifully, clueless as to the, ah, nationality of some of her hosts- sitting directly between Kara and Clark. Instead, she very maturely curses under her breath in Kryptonese, causing Clark to snort out a laugh (and some orange juice) and Kara to turn very pink very quickly.

“So!” Kara says loudly, “The solstice is today! Which means that I am out until this evening.”

 “Kar, if you want the company, I’ll go,” Alex offers, but Kara’s already shaking her head.

“No way, you’ll just be grumpy the whole time. Go shopping with Maggie and Eliza, I know you’re barely started.”

She musses up Clark’s hair as she passes, heading up the stairs to grab a few things she’ll need from her room. When she has everything together, she throws it into an old bookbag and turn toward the door, only to be surprised by Lena standing directly behind her. Kara yelps, leaps, stumbles, and crashes to the floor in the span of a second. “Lena! You scared the heck outta me!”

“Sorry!” Lena apologizes, reaching down to help haul Kara back to her feet. “That was my fault.”

“I swear to Rao, I’m gonna make you wear a bell,” Kara mutters playfully. “What’re you doing up here?”

Lena looks embarrassed, for possibly the first time since Kara’s known her. “I, ah, hmm, I was going to see if I could come with you?”

To say Kara’s surprised would be an understatement. “Really?”

“Really.” Lena nods definitively. “I’ve never seen a pagan solstice ritual before, and I’ve already celebrated Hanukkah with all of you, right? It sounds interesting. And, I mean, I don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going, exactly, but it’s important to you, and that’s what friends do, or so research has led me to believe.”

“Aw, that’s really- wait? Research? Lena, did… did you Google how to be a good friend?”

Now Lena is definitely embarrassed. “I don’t exactly have a lot of personal experience to go on, here,” she defends.

Kara’s pretty sure that it’s the sweetest, weirdest thing anyone’s ever done, and she beams at Lena before scooping her up into an affectionate hug. “You’re the best. And you don’t need the Google. You’re good at being a friend all on your own.”

Lena’s flushed, but still wraps her arms around Kara in return. “I can’t believe you call it ‘the Google’ and I still want to be your friend,” she laughs.

“Sucker,” Kara teases, squeezing her lightly before setting her back on her feet. “Okay, um, wear some comfortable stuff, like sweats or soft jeans or something. And grab a blanket- actually, I have one in the car. Oh! And a towel!” and with that she’s out of the room, still talking to herself excitedly.

Lena’s stock still, eyes narrowed. “Why would I need a towel? Kara!”

***********

They drive out into seemingly the middle of nowhere, meandering along dirt roads and chattering about nothing at all. Kara’s excited, as this is apparently the first time someone has come with her in a few years, but Lena’s a bit apprehensive about what exactly this will entail.

Especially since Kara still hasn’t told her why she needs a towel.

They eventually arrive at their destination, which does, indeed, appear to be the literal middle of nowhere. Kara grins and hurries out of the car, collecting her backpack and a blanket from the back.

Lena’s curiosity finally gets the better of her. “So what are we doing, exactly?”

“Well, traditionally, we’d be doing a lot of stuff involving rocks.”

“Rocks?”

“Special rocks,” Kara tells her. “But I don’t actually have any of them, so we’re just gonna do the other stuff. Most of which involves fire.”

“Why do I need a towel?”

“In case you need it.”

Lena huffs but doesn’t push. The walk isn’t long, but it is, indeed, cold, and by the time Kara stops walking Lena is simultaneously sweating and shivering. “Okay, seriously, what-“

Kara laughs and turns, pulling Lena into a warm hug and shutting her up immediately. “Lena, I swear, I’m not gonna sacrifice you on an altar or anything. Relax. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s honestly kind of boring.”

Lena huffs, but relaxes a bit into the embrace. “I hate not knowing things,” she mutters. “What if I do something wrong and ruin it?”

“Do you trust me?” Kara asks her, pulling away just enough so that she can look Lena in the eyes.

Lena’s struck, for a moment, by the memory of the last time someone asked her that. It had been Lex, and it was the morning of the bombings, when he was asking her to go for a walk with him through the park. “You’ve been cooped up down here for days, Ace. Trust me, you need a break. Let’s go for a walk, grab lunch at a hot dog cart, feed ducks, throw sticks onto the road in front of people on roller blades…”

And she’d laughed and said yes.

Of course she trusted him. Of course she did. He was her brother, and her best friend.

And then he killed several dozen people, laughing maniacally beside her.

Kara’s still hovering in front of her, waiting patiently for an answer.

“I… yes, I think I do,” Lena says, surprised with herself. But she does trust Kara. She trusts Kara to protect her, has since she pulled Lena from that car (which was absolutely burning, despite Kara’s humble disagreement), and she trusts Kara to look out for her without some hidden agenda, and-

‘Nope. No. No thinking about that, Luthor.’

Kara’s grinning at her now. “Well good. Now trust me when I say that you can’t mess it up. It’s literally impossible.”

“Don’t challenge me,” Lena jokes weakly.

Kara just grins again and rolls her eyes, pulling away from Lena (who, in the warm arms of her friend forgot just how cold it is out here).

The middle of nowhere they may be, but it’s still beautiful; a dense forest surrounds them, a small lake is before them, and the clearing they’re apparently settling into doesn’t look like it’s been disturbed by so much as a rabbit since the last snowfall. It’s serene and quiet and remote, and all the (many) things Lena generally dislikes about the outdoors don’t seem to be factors here, aside from the cold and the brightness of the sun reflected off of the snow and the ice-covered lake. “It’s pretty,” Lena tells Kara quietly

Kara looks around and smiles. “Thanks. I always liked it here. Jeremiah took us camping here a few times. It’s always been a good, quiet place for me.” She drops the blanket onto the snow, swinging her pack around so she can root around in it. Finding what she’s after, Kara sets several items on a fallen tree a few feet away, and pulls a large thermos out as well as a couple tin mugs, which she hands to Lena.

“Blood of the innocent?” Lena jokes.

Kara fixes her with a playful glare. “No. Why does everyone always think that? It’s supposed to work as like, an offering type deal, and I know it’s not wine, but Clark really does make the world’s best hot chocolate. So I figure that counts, right?”

Lena unscrews the lid and finds that it is, indeed, hot chocolate, the smell rich and heady with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and orange. “It smells delicious.”

“I know, right? And trust me, it tastes even better. We’ll have some in a minute, c’mere.”

Lena screws the lid back on and moves to stand beside Kara. She’s set up several candles in a row, with the largest in the center being a bright, sunny yellow.

“So, normally, I go somewhere a bit more… remote, than this, but I didn’t want to freak you out too badly, so-”

“Kara, you weren’t freaking me out.”

Kara raises and eyebrow skeptically. “Sure. So, I’m doing it a little smaller than usual this year, but it’ll still be good. Do me a favor and go grab some of those twigs over there, and I’ll find some wood and we’ll get started.”

Lena nods resolutely, happy to have been given a task. She’s good with tasks, much more so than she is with mysterious religious customs. She sets off, collecting as many of the smaller branches as she can carry.

Kara, meanwhile, makes sure that Lena is out of sight before turning to a nearby fallen tree and pulling it into pieces with her bare hands. This is the first year in quite a while that she won’t be at the Fortress of Solitude doing this, but she can always go later to chat with her aunt and uncle. Besides, it’s really nice to have someone here with her, however nervous Lena may be. It really is pretty impossible to mess this up.

Satisfied with her wood pile, Kara hauls the lot of it over to where she’s left the rest of their things, pleased to note that Lena seems to have figured out what she’s doing (‘Maybe she Googled it.’) and is arranging the sticks she’s collected into a pile. Kara grins and drops the wood she’s carrying, startling the brunette. “Whoops, sorry.”

“We really have to stop scaring each other,” Lena laughs. “It’s getting ridiculous.”

“If I recall correctly, Miss Luthor, you started it.”

Lena shrugs noncommittally. “So, fire.”

“Fire,” Kara agrees. “This holiday is about seeking balance and welcoming the sun back, since the Solstice is when this part of Earth is furthest from the sun, and after this we start to get closer to it again. So fire, candles, and cocoa.”

Lena nods. “I knew that there were rituals around the solstice, but I wasn’t sure what they were.”

“Welcoming the sun, seeking peace and balance within, offerings of food- oh, and of course, we have to dance naked around the fire and then jump in the lake. To honor the sun.”

Lena’s head whips around so fast she nearly snaps her neck. “What?!”

Kara just smiles proudly. “Gotcha.”

 

The fire is crackling and the candles are lit, and Kara and Lena are sitting comfortably on the blanket. “So what do we do next?”

“Next, we just pray. Or think, meditate, whatever you want to do is fine. Like I said, this isn’t the most exciting ritual,” Kara tells her.

“So we just sit here quietly?”

Kara shrugs. “If you want, yeah.”

Lena nods and folds herself into a lotus pose and closes her eyes, breathing deeply. She can absolutely do that. Sit quietly for a few hours and not move or check her phone or answer emails. This will be easy. Jess and Sam are absolutely fine running things in Metropolis, and she can definitely relax out here, in the middle of nowhere, with a fire roaring in front of her and a thermos of hot chocolate beside her.

Relaxing is easy.

Except that it isn’t.

Meditating is something her therapist has encouraged, many times, and she’s tried it, many times, except it’s really, really difficult for her to shut off her brain, even for just a few minutes. She blames the consistent pull of curiosity and the need to get as much done as she can.

Her therapist is pretty sure that it’s actually anxiety, but what does she know? ‘Yeah, what can she possibly know, Luthor? She only went to NYU. And Harvard.’

Still, Lena tries, forcing herself to take deep, steady breaths and trying to relax her muscles one at a time. After a while, she opens one eye and looks over at Kara and is surprised to see her sprawled out on the blanket, hands folded over her stomach, eyes closed and smiling softly in contentment up at the sun.

“You’re thinking loudly again.”

Lena smirks at that, knowing it’s true. “I thought you were sleeping,” she jokes quietly.

Kara’s smile widens just a fraction. “No, just relaxing. It’s easier if you’re laying down.”

“Is it?”

“It is for me,” Kara shrugs. “Dunno about you. Plus, this way I can soak in the sun a little better.”

Lena ponders this for a moment before lying down beside her. Finding herself a bit uncomfortable, she reaches over to grab the towel she’d brought and folds it into a pillow.

“See? You needed it after all.”

She looks over and Kara’s turned her head to face Lena, eyes bright and crinkling at the corners with a smile. Lena huffs. “I could’ve brought a pillow.”

“I’d love to see that; Lena Luthor traipsing through the woods with a pillow,” Kara snickers.

Lena narrows her eyes playfully. “Aren’t we supposed to be being quiet?”

“Yeah, I guess we are.” Kara turns back toward the sky, eyes closed, still smiling. “That includes thinking too, though, so tell your big brain to quiet down.”

Lena observes her in profile for a minute, thinking again how unfairly pretty she is, fresh-scrubbed and straightforward in a way Lena never has been, before closing her eyes and trying to relax again.

Kara was right; it’s a little easier this time, even though stocks and the catering menu for the gala and thoughts of Lex and Christmases past keep popping into her head.

She still thinks that meditating is useless, but she’s quickly learning that laying down in the snow- or anywhere, really- with Kara is… maybe not so useless.

***********

They start back to the house hours later, when clouds have rolled in and it’s started snowing. The ride back is punctuated with laughter, as Kara tries to daintily drink from her mug of cocoa and drive at the same time, succeeding only in spilling the hot drink all over herself and almost crashing them into a ditch. Lena’s quick to grab the wheel and jerk them back onto the road, much to Kara’s chagrin.

Everyone is crowded in the living room when they arrive, some sort of board game spread out in front of them.

“You guys are doing game night without us?” Kara asks, outraged.

“The audacity,” Lena says, grinning. “They did something fun without you when you weren’t around.”

“Hush, you,” Kara mutters, tossing aside her bag, coat, and boots. “What are we playing?”

“Clue, so you’re gonna lose,” Alex tells her with a smirk.

“I’m great at Clue!”

Maggie snorts with laughter. “You’re the worst, Little Danvers. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met a cop as bad at this game as you are.”

“Hey, now, no ganging up on Kara,” Clark says.

“Thank you, Clark.”

“It’s not her fault that she’s so bad at this game.”

“Hey!”

Lena’s laughing behind her hand, and she pats Kara’s back sympathetically. “I’ve never played, so you’re better than me, technically.”

Kara sighs. “Not exactly the backup I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.”

They start up a new game, and Kara does, indeed, suck at Clue. But then they play Sorry and she wipes the floor with them. Winn is eventually able to wheedle them all into a game of Monopoly, and they’re confident that they’re all going to lose, because hello, one of them literally owns and operates one of the largest companies on the planet, but, hilariously enough, Lena has never played Monopoly.

And boy, is she bad at it.

Lena, who prides herself on her ability to retain information and develop strategy at the drop of a hat, is totally out of her depth at this board game played by children. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for it that she can tell, although Kara being pressed flush against her side was certainly not helping her concentration. She throws down the dice, groaning when she’s made to draw a card that lands her in jail. She half expects a joke about Luthors in prison, what with all the trash-talking everyone’s been doing, but it never comes. They mock her for her terrible luck, but that’s it.

Kara bumps into her when she throws the dice, apologizing immediately, and then her head is back in the game. She can totally do this. She can win a simple game.

 

Lena does not, in fact, win the simple game.

She does, however, do very well when Winn hooks up an old Nintendo console in the living room, sparking a Smash Bros tournament that eventually leads to bottles being passed back and forth (even Kara and Clark seem to be feeling some effects from the one they’re hoarding between them) and armloads of junk food being collected from the kitchen as they all take turns passing around the controllers.

Lucy is cussing up a storm as she tries valiantly to knock Lena’s Link off the platform, but Lena’s holding her own and fending off Lucy’s Donkey Kong assault.

Kara’s still pressed to her side, cheering loudly and trash-talking Lucy for her, and Alex and Maggie are laughing and joining in. Lois is trying to knock James off of the platform above Link and DK, and Clark is jeering his best friend enthusiastically.

Lena’s having a great time.

Eventually, Eliza wanders downstairs to tell them all to shut up, however affectionate she may be about it, and after that the game is shut off and they’re all still sprawled around the living room, drinking and snacking and laughing at each other and telling funny stories- Lena about throwing a microscope at Jack’s head, Kara about how genuinely terrifying and funny Cat Grant is, Maggie about her first (hilariously disastrous) undercover assignment, etc.

It’s loud and boisterous and she’s definitely a little bit drunk, but Lena finds herself not thinking, for once, about stock prices or market values or the board or Cadmus or her mother, focused instead on the ring of Kara’s laughter and dodging the handful of pretzels someone tossed at her (probably Lucy). Winn is darting around the room, stumble-drunk and grinning widely as he avoids Alex, who is chasing doggedly after him (evidently he found an embarrassing picture somewhere and she’ll kill him before anyone gets to see it), cheered on by Maggie and Lois.

Kara throws her arm around Lena and pulls her face into her shoulder, protecting her from another handful of food that Lucy (or is it?) has thrown at her, chest rumbling with laughter. Lena’s laughing so hard her stomach aches and she flops onto her back, giggling helplessly, another few bits of candy bouncing off of her. Kara yells at Lucy on her behalf, prompting a chorus of “Shhhh!” “Dude, Eliza was like, just down here!” and “Shut up Kara, damn!”

And finally, covered with candy and pretzels, bathed in the multicolored lights of the Christmas tree, empty of anything but amusement and warmth and humor, Lena Luthor manages to relax.

Chapter Text

“So what’s on the agenda today?” Eliza asks everyone casually over breakfast. It’s a bit subdued this morning, as everyone but Eliza and Martha had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning the night before, and Kara and Lena had been up even later than that, debating the merits of various video game characters, and then Kara trying desperately to give Lena a verbal education of pop culture (which she didn’t actually really need, but she didn’t mind watching Kara act out scenes from various movies). “It looks like we’re all snowed in for the day.”

“I need to do some wrapping, honestly,” Winn says. “So that’ll be most of my morning.”

Lena nods in agreement. “And I have to check on a few things at the office- no, Kara, I know I can’t actually go in, it’s just a video conference- and then I’m free for the day.”

“I plan to watch Christmas movies in the living room until my eyes bleed,” Lucy says. “We did all our wrapping in National City.” She gives James an enthusiastic high-five.

“Smart. Oh, hey, Lena, if you did decide to get anyone presents, you have to use a special wrapping paper; it’s tradition,” Maggie tells her, slathering peanut butter over her waffles and then drowning them in syrup (waffles are her one true weakness).

“Why is that a tradition?” Lena asks, slightly baffled.

There’s a pause for a beat too long before Alex answers, “Because it is.”

They can’t very well explain that the paper is lead-lined and it prevents Kara (and Clark, but mostly Kara) from peeking at everyone’s gifts before Christmas.

Lena studies her for a moment before shrugging and turning back to her own breakfast, content to let this slide as just more strange family nonsense. It’s not like she’d have a leg to stand on if she tried to argue otherwise, seeing as her own family traditions tend to run more in the vein of genocide than using special wrapping paper.

“I’m seconding watching Christmas movies in my pj’s,” Kara says, grinning.

“Great! I’m in too, so is Clark,” Lois tells them.

Clark just smiles and nods his agreement. No good ever really comes from arguing with a Lane.

“I think movies in the living room is an excellent idea,” Martha agrees. “We still haven’t watched Christmas Vacation yet.”

“Oh, gosh, you’re right! We’ve really been slacking this year, huh guys?”

“Eh, a little. We’ve still got a couple days to go, though,” Alex says, shrugging.

Lena and Winn end up on dish duty, jostling each other at the sink and somehow managing to avoid breaking any dishes in the process. Before Lena makes it to the pole barn she’s commandeered, Maggie tosses a heavy (very heavy, actually) roll of wrapping paper to her with a wink.

“Just in case you wanted to wrap any of those parts for your prototype,” she grins.

Lena rolls her eyes fondly but accepts it all the same, knowing that Maggie has her number as far as what the packages are. And, to be totally fair, she’s glad, because she has no idea where they actually keep their wrapping paper.

 

She hasn’t wrapped gifts in years, and now that the pressure to make sure every corner is exact and perfect is off, Lena finds it to be rather soothing. Especially when she manages to get the scissors to glide through the wrapping paper without snagging or tearing it…

Bliss.

She gets most of the gifts wrapped before realizing something odd- she’s hungry.

She never gets hungry in the middle of the day. In fact, she usually has to be wrangled into eating more than one meal per day, let alone eating three, or snacking.

But here she is, at lunchtime, hungry.

Jess will be so thrilled.

Sighing in resignation, she gathers up the gifts she’s already wrapped and makes her way back to the house, using the backdoor in the kitchen, shuddering slightly at the rapid change in temperature; it’s still snowing from yesterday. She stomps the snow off her boots and toes out of them, finding everyone in the living room, a large mound of presents in identical paper to hers already piled up under the tree.

“Lena! You did do presents!” Kara accuses.

Lena shrugs. “I guess I did. What are you watching?”

“Sitcom Christmas specials,” Lucy tells her, shoving popcorn into her mouth. She’s laying half on top of James with her footie-pajama’d feet resting in Kara’s lap. “Right now we’re on How I Met Your Mother.”

“Which one?” Lena asks, interested. She’s actually seen a few episodes of this show here and there, usually for background noise when she’s working late on her couch.

“The one where Ted calls Lilly a ‘Grinch’ and she flips out,” Kara says.

Lena nods. “I think I’ve seen this one, actually.”

Kara beams at her. “I’m so proud, you ingested some sort of Christmas media in your life. Go put on pajamas and get in on this.”

“I can’t, I really do have a video conference in about an hour and I have to do a last check on my notes,” Lena tells her apologetically. “Besides, I still have some more gifts to wrap.”

“You were the nerd who did their homework as soon as it was assigned- even on weekends. Weren’t you, Little Luthor?”

Lena’s brow wrinkles. “When else are you supposed to do it?”

There’s a collective groan and good-natured jeering from around the room. Lena just smiles and rolls her eyes. “I’ll come watch as soon as I’m done with my-“

“Homework?” Alex offers, grinning lazily.

“-work,” Lena continues, ignoring her. “I just came in to get something for lunch.”

“Oo, lunch, I’ll help!” Kara says brightly.

“Of course you will,” someone says, though Lena’s not entirely sure who.

Kara shoots the room at large her approximation of a stern glare, eliciting no fear or remorse and many stifled giggles from her friends and family, before following Lena from the room.

In the kitchen, Kara touches Lena’s elbow, pulling her to a stop. “Hey, you know you didn’t have to get everyone presents. I mean, you’ve got enough going on, and you don’t owe us anything.”

“I’m pretty sure I owe all of you a lot, actually,” Lena corrects. “But that’s not why I did it. I… I wanted to. Because you’re my friends.” This last is said a bit unsurely, and Kara pulls her into a warm hug, which she returns without thinking. “I wanted to do something nice for all of you in return.”

Kara hugs Lena a bit closer as she leans down and whispers, “You’re a very good friend, Lena.” Lena ducks her head a bit and grins, pleased with herself. “Did the Google tell you to get us presents?”

Lena barks out a laugh, pulling out of the hug and swatting playfully at a grinning Kara. “You’re an ass, why do I hang out with you?”

“Mostly because you’re in sorta-but-not-really fake protective custody, I think.”

“Yes, speaking of, how long is that going to last? Because I do have to get back to my real life eventually, much as I’d like to avoid it,” Lena says, watching as Kara slides across the kitchen floor in her socks and stops just in front of the fridge.

“Hmm. Maggie didn’t say. It’s an actual ongoing investigation, so who knows? It’s my first time dealing with a terrorist ring targeting my friend. Hopefully soon?” She freezes before whirling around. “Not that I want you to go! I- we all love having you here! You can stay as long as you want! Stay forever!”

Lena’s watching on, amused, as Kara digs herself even more deeply into a hole. She knows the moral, ethical thing would be to cut Kara off and reassure her, but… well, no one’s ever told her they wanted her to stay forever.

“And we haven’t done the best stuff yet! We can decorate cookies tonight! And- oh my god, a snowball fight! And you have to be here for those things! You can be on my team, I’ll watch your back, and we can take on Alex and Maggie because they cheat, and- yeah, we- I- want you to stay. But I know you have stuff going on, so hopefully the feds get it sorted out. And then we’ll be sort of neighbors! I mean, not next door or like, in the same building- oh, Rao, you probably live somewhere really swanky, they won’t even let me in, will they? But we’ll be in the same city! And CatCo and UCNC aren’t too far from LuthorCorp- I even checked!-, so maybe we can grab lunch sometimes! Oh! We’re supposed to be making lunch! Here!” She shoves a loaf of bread at Lena, quickly turning around again to pull seemingly random food from the fridge before kicking it closed.

“So you want me to stay?” Lena asks, a little smug and a little unsure.

Kara blinks at her behind her glasses. “Of course I do. You’re one of my favorite people.”

“One of? I’m deeply touched,” Lena drawls, trying to hide that she is, in fact, deeply touched.

Kara rolls her eyes. “Take your sandwich and get back to work.”

 

“Ladies, gentlemen, always a pleasure to see you,” Lena greets, back straight and smile less than genuine. “I trust everything has been running smoothly in my absence?”

Her board members shift in their plush chairs on her screen. David Becker, one of the few that she plans to keep after the rebranding, nods. “Miss Arias and Miss Huang are doing an admirable job, Miss Luthor. There’ve been no significant issues, and our numbers have been steadily climbing. They’ve actually outpaced the projections by 3%.”

“Excellent! Jess, all projects are on schedule?”

“Yes ma’am. The Second Skin should be ready for its first round of organic testing by February, and the issues with the exosuit are being resolved.”

“The deal with Hiro Ito?”

Sam Arias, her newly-appointed CFO, handles this one. “On track. His lawyers are currently reviewing the contract, but there shouldn’t be any issues.”

Lena allows herself a satisfied smile. “Very good. Now, in addition to the rebranding and overhaul, at the beginning of next quarter, I’ll be opening a new department focused on medical research and biology.”

Rita Alexander, one of Lex’s holdouts, clears her throat. “Miss Luthor, with all due respect, we already have a multitude of divisions involved in those particular subjects.”

Lena smiles grimly. “Actually, we don’t. Not yet. Jess, will you pass out the outlines for the new department, as well as the growth projections for the next five years?”

Jess flits through the room onscreen, depositing the files before each board member.

Lillian, Lena notes, is mercifully absent. Perhaps she’s still banned from the building.

“Is this a joke?”

“I assure you that it isn’t, Mr. Reese. This is an untapped market, one in which we could become a dominant force. There’s no downside to learning more about our neighbors.” She smirks. “Right now, aliens die every year from easily resolved injuries and illnesses. And while some of you, like me, believe that this is reason enough to look for a way to resolve the issue, many of you are concerned about the image of the company, and more importantly about our bottom line. So here it is; once this department is up and running, there is endless possibility for profit, not only from developing medical equipment and treatments, but from understanding alien biology better. By understanding aliens better.

“Some of these people come from worlds where teleportation is commonplace, where telepathy is the main form of communication. What can we learn from them? And if the price for that exchange of knowledge is basic medical care, then so be it. I’d rather LuthorCorp be at the forefront of this new market than lagging behind, wouldn’t you?”

“Miss Luthor, you plan to open alien clinics?” Rita Alexander again, looking disgusted but trying to hide it.

“I do. Not now, of course; we don’t have the means to treat these people, but eventually, yes. Potentially even a wing in the hospitals specializing in alien care.” She steeples her fingers and rests them against her mouth.

“Miss Luthor, I really don’t think-”

Lena cuts her off abruptly. “You seem to be under the impression that this decision is up for debate; it isn’t. This is my company, and this is something I’ve been working toward for quite some time. This is not me asking for permission. I am simply informing you as to what will be happening next quarter. According to the CFO, opening this new division will have minimal, if any, impact on our profits.”

“And what of the stock prices? If people find out that you’re helping aliens, they’ll dump their stocks!”

“I’m always happy to buy back some of my stock,” Lena says with a shrug.

“Are you seriously going to be so blasé about something that could throw us into freefall?”

“This company has been in freefall ever since the last CEO blew up half the city,” she snaps. “We are rebranding, and we are going in a new direction with this company, one I find to be better for everyone involved. If you- any of you- have any sort of issue with that, then as I said, I’m always more than happy to buy back some of my stock.” Her eyes are cold and hard, mouth pulled in a taut line as she surveys the screen. “Are there any more complaints to be voiced at this time?”

The room is vibrating with tension- she can see it even through a camera, but everyone remains silent.

“Excellent. Jess, cue up the end of year presentation. Ladies and gentlemen, to your left, you’ll find the GDS, GIS, expense, and research reports. If you’ll turn to page one of the GDS, I think you’ll find that…”

 

Hours later, she bids farewell to the board, wishing them all happy holidays, assuring them that yes, she will indeed be present at the gala. After closing the application and powering down the webcam she’d been using, Lena flops back into her chair with a sigh, rubbing her temples in a vain attempt to massage away the headache.

Board meetings are always exhausting, and end of year meetings, doubly so. But it had gone as well as could be expected, given the bomb she’d dropped on them. She expects that getting rid of a few of them will be easier, now that the company is running so completely contrary to their own interests. Or, she hopes so, at least.

Finally, she rises from the chair, and for the first time in several hours indulging in a good stretch, taking her up on her toes and splaying her fingers wide over her head. Satisfied, she hurriedly wraps the last few presents and closes up the office before making her way back to the house.

She can hear the sounds of the TV in the living room, and she ventures that way, finding only Martha Kent there, wrapped snuggly in a blanket on the couch. The other woman smiles and motions her inside. “C’mon in, they all went to the store for more snacks- Kara and Clark apparently ate them all. Well, except Eliza. She’s got a meeting in town tonight. Holiday party or something.”

Lena steps into the room hesitantly, painfully aware that this is the first time she’s been alone with Mrs. Kent. She sits on the edge of the chaise, tense and ready to bolt at any minute.

“I don’t actually bite, Lena,” Martha says kindly.

Lena smiles in spite of herself, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “Sorry, I… I’m not always good with new people.” ‘Especially with new people who knew my brother. Especially with new people whose son he tried to hurt.’

“Neither am I, that’s why they keep me on the farm,” Martha says with a smile. “They should be back pretty soon, though. Can I interest you in a cup of cocoa? I don’t mean to brag, but Clark uses my recipe.”

Lena nods, if only for something to do besides sit in awkward silence.

Martha moves comfortably around the kitchen, clearly at home here. Lena, desperate for a distraction from the tension knotting her stomach, asks what she can do to help, eliciting a smile from Martha. She sets the younger woman to grating a block of chocolate, sneaking a bit of the block and pulling a small smile from Lena.

“So, Lena, how’s your work going?”

“It’s going well. I just finished with the board for the end of year meeting, and so I should be done with everything until the New Year.”

“Good! I’m glad that you’re getting a bit of a vacation. From what my nieces tell me, you could use it.”

“Nieces…? Oh, Kara and Alex.”

“And Maggie, yeah. They’re good girls.” Martha eyes her over the wire rim of her glasses. “They seem to like you a lot.”

Lena smiles. “I like them too. They’re good people- you all are, actually.”

“We’re lucky to have each other. Having good people around you can make all the difference in the world,” Martha tells her, pouring heavy cream into a small saucepan and adding a heavy splash of vanilla extract, some sugar, and a palm of spices of spices. “Jeremiah and Eliza were great parents too.” Lena hums, watching as the older woman scoops up the chocolate shavings and dumps them unceremoniously into the cream mixture, stirring the lot with a wooden spoon. “Although, having a rough start doesn’t always turn out too bad. Look at Winn, Kara, or Maggie.”

“Maggie?”

“She got kicked out when she came out. She was just about 16,” Martha tells her. At Lena’s surprised look, she shrugs. “She doesn’t care if people know, cracks a lotta jokes, but still. And I assume you know about Winn’s family?” Lena nods wordlessly. “And Kara… she lost her entire family, then her foster dad just a couple years later. Not the best start to life, for any of them. And look at them now. Winn’s one of the best young men I know. Kara’s a ray of sunshine. And Maggie’s always volunteering somewhere to help kids like she was. She told me once that all she ever wants is to be the person she needed at 16.”

“That’s surprisingly wise, for someone who got their hand stuck in a jar of peanut butter yesterday,” Lena says, voice coming out a bit thick.

“She’s not always successful,” Martha concedes with a smile, pulling the saucepan off of the stove. “Grab a couple mugs, they’re- yeah, you got ‘em. ‘Course you know where the coffee mugs are,” she says with a grin as Lena opens the correct cupboard and pulls out two mugs. “You seem to have a bit of a caffeine problem, Miss Luthor.”

“It’s only a problem when I run out of caffeine,” Lena jokes.

“Sure.” Martha’s brown eyes shine behind her glasses. “And Lena, I do mean what I said; not everyone is doomed to repeat the sins of their families.” Lena stares into her mug at this, suddenly fascinated by the swirling liquid. “After all, I’m 58 and I haven’t robbed a bank yet.”

And with that, she takes her mug and goes back to the living room, leaving a flabbergasted Lena in her wake.

**********

“Kara, we do not need this many Oreos,” Alex says sternly, pushing the cart full to the brim with junk food.

“But they’re my favorite!”

Everything is your favorite,” Alex says, for what must be the third time in this store. “Five packs maximum; we still have the sugar cookies at the house.”

Kara pouts and stalks off, only to be replaced by Maggie, holding several packages of… Oreos. Of course. “Babe, c’mon, they’re vegan!”

Kara pops up behind her, resting her chin on Maggie’s head and smiling winningly at her sister. “Vegan makes them healthy, Alex! Oreos are basically vegetables!”

Lucy dumps a five-pound bag of gummy bears into the cart, along with a package of microwave popcorn and Cheetos. “And now we have fruit, grain, and dairy. We’re so fuckin’ healthy, guys. Go us.”

Alex pinches the bridge of her nose and groans. “All of you are toddlers.”

“You love us,” Lucy tells her. “Oh look, ice cream!”

Alex perks up at this, finding James, Lois, and Clark with yet another cart, this one packed with ice cream.

“Hey, did you guys remember to-“

“Yeah, Sawyer, we have your nasty vegan ice cream,” Lois assures her. “And yes, Kara, we have gelato for Lena, and popsicles for- where’s Winn?”

They look around, realizing that Winn is, in fact, missing from their company.

“Go check the toy aisle,” Alex sighs. “That’s usually where he vanishes to. Kara, you can’t eat that until we pay for it.”

Kara huffs and sets the ice cream back into the cart. “I’ll go get Winn. Oh! We can get some doughnuts from the bakery!” And she takes off at a (thankfully human) sprint before Alex can protest.

Clark slings his arm over her shoulders in solidarity. “When did we become the grownups?” he laughs. “I remember Ma and Pa doing the same thing to me, and now I’m doing it to all these… hooligans.”

Alex snorts, amused in spite of herself. “Clark, I think we had five kids and never noticed.”

“Seven,” he corrects. “Jimmy’s no better than any of them, and we both know Lena would be tagging along with Kara if she was here.”

And indeed, James Olsen does appear to be throwing pizza rolls into the ice cream cart, assisted by Lucy.

“We should probably stop them,” Alex says, leaning against Clark as he pulls her into his side in a fond half-hug.

“Prob’ly,” he agrees. “But why fight the inevitable? We both know no one wins an argument with one Lane, let alone two and Kara’s sad eyes.”

Alex can’t really argue that point.

 

“Three. Hundred. Dollars.”

“Look-”

“Three. Hundred. Dollars.”

“Split between like six people. No biggie,” Lois shrugs. “We’re all gainfully employed adults. Except Kara, who is a poor college student again.”

“Hey!”

“I just… we came here for popcorn,” Alex says, helping to load the many (many, many) bags of groceries into the back of the car.

“We got popcorn!” Lucy assures her. She rummages around in one of the bags before pulling out the box victoriously. “See? Extra-extra butter!”

“We just came for popcorn.”

“If you really though that, you were lying to yourself,” Clark laughs, slamming the trunk closed.

“I still can’t believe you told me I couldn’t buy something. You’re not even my mom,” Winn pouts as they clamber into the car.

“Okay, first of all, yes I am,” Alex tells him. Clark snorts from the driver’s seat in front of her. “Second, telling someone ‘you’re not my mom’ does not lend you credibility in an argument. Third, you can’t buy yourself stuff three days before Christmas; it’s against the rules.”

“Those rules are stupid and we’re both Jewish. And I’m an adult!”

“Winn, you were trying to buy a $200 LEGO set,” Lois reminds him.

“What’s your point?”

Alex just sighs and lets her head fall back to thud against the seat. “Toddlers. All of you are toddlers.”

**********

Lena and Martha help them unload the car when they get back to the house, and Alex has to stop herself from either rolling her eyes or bursting into laughter at the way Kara and Lena pull toward one another like magnets. Kara lights up like a Christmas tree and Lena just grins in a way that Alex knows from all her research on the young CEO is not her default expression outside her sister’s company.

They’re ridiculous.

“Where’s Mom?” Maggie asks.

“She has her PFLAG thing tonight,” Martha says. “Y’all, there’s no way all this ice cream is gonna fit in the freezer.”

“Oh, crap, I forgot! We’re supposed to go!” Kara says, slightly panicked. She turns to the guys, smiling charmingly at them. “Hey, is there any way-“

“Yeah, we’ve got this, go on,” James laughs, shooing her away. “You too, Luce. I know you wanna go.”

Lucy grins and stands on tiptoe to kiss him before darting off. “I’ll drive!” Kara takes off after her, yelling something about how ‘the car is not a tank, Lucy!’

“Anybody else?” Maggie asks the group, eyes lingering on Lena. “It’s fun, the people there are really great.”

Lena takes a breath and nods, grateful for Maggie’s arm looping through hers. She’s gay. A lesbian. Whatever you want to call it. But she hasn’t really addressed it in a public forum, despite rumors to the contrary. She doesn’t deny it, but has never officially confirmed it, either.

But honestly, she probably won’t be recognized anyways- gone are the killer heels and boardroom suits. Instead she’s dressed down in jeans and a pullover sweatshirt from her college days, hair falling lose around her shoulders. She’s not even wearing much makeup, having lost her lipstick to the hot chocolate earlier and removing quite a lot of the rest when the board meeting ended.

“You’ve got this, Little Luthor,” Maggie tells her. “We’ve got your back.” Alex smiles and nods beside her.

***************

The party is, indeed, not that bad. It’d probably even be fun, if Lena weren’t a raw ball of anxiety the entire time she’s there.

Kara, Maggie, and Alex are apparently regular fixtures at the meetings, and the parents and kids greet them warmly when they arrive. Lena is happy to fade into the background a bit, and Lucy seems to be throwing herself right into the thick of things, happily conversing with a group of parents and older kids about her military service and what it’s like to be ‘less than straight’ in the Army after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Eventually, a boy with wild, curly hair and round hipster glasses perched precariously on his thin nose approaches Lena. He smiles at her, revealing a mouthful of braces, and sticks out his hand. “Hi, I’m Cody. Are you Lena Luthor?”

Internally, Lena panics, but externally, she presses a finger to her own smiling lips and shakes his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Cody.”

“Wow. You’re like, my idol. I’m going to the University of Michigan in the fall- well, hopefully, anyways- for engineering. Some of the stuff LuthorCorp is working on is nuts! How did you even come up with…”

And Lena relaxes slightly, because she’s always more comfortable with science than with herself, and thank god this boy wants to talk to her about the possibility of jetpacks being common in the near future and not why she’s at a PFLAG Christmas party in Midvale, Maryland, because honestly, Lena’s not entirely sure what her answer to that would be. Thankfully, Cody doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.

He eventually moves off to talk with his friends, enthusing about how happy he was to meet her and she tells him that when he graduates, he should come see her about a job. After he leaves, Kara sidles up to her. “See? Not so bad.”

Lena smiles at her as Kara bumps their shoulders together. “No, not so bad at all.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe how tiny her waist is,” James says.

“Shh!” Everyone.

“Seriously, I could wrap one hand all the way around it!” James interrupts again.

“Are you calling me fat, Jimmy?” Lucy demands, though her tone is clearly joking.

They’re back in the living room watching movies, having survived the party. The film of the moment is White Christmas, and Lena finds that she loves it, being a fan of older music and Rosemary Clooney.

“Forget her waist, look at her feet. How does she even get them to move so fast?” Winn says.

Vera-Ellen does have a very tiny waist and very quick feet, Lena notes. Also noteworthy is all of the junk food circulating the room and Kara’s head in her lap. She plays with blonde hair absently as she watches Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney bicker.

“I mean, he isn’t wrong,” Lena murmurs under her breath. “Everyone’s always got an angle.”

Kara turns her head to look up at Lena, brow crinkled. “I don’t.”

Lena huffs out a light laugh. “Well, I know you don’t, darling, but everyone else on Earth does.”

Kara hums as she returns her attention to the movie and Lena resumes her ministrations on Kara’s scalp. “I don’t think you have an angle, Lena.”

“Well, you must think much more highly of me than I deserve, because I assure you, I always have an angle.”

“Oh yeah? What’s your angle right now?” Kara challenges.

“Get a room!” Lucy jeers at them, only to be immediately shushed by Clark, Winn, Alex, Maggie, and Lois.

‘Funny enough, Lucy answered Kara’s question much more succinctly than I could have…’

 

Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn look at that dress,” Maggie whoops.

“That dress and that song? Breakup goals.”

“What now?” Maggie asks, twisting to glare reproachfully at Alex.

“Not you, babe. Just in general.”

***

“I love this movie,” Kara tells Lena.

“What is it, again?”

Love, Actually,” Kara says. “You’ll like this part.”

“Kara, these are the credits,” Lena says dryly.

“I know, just listen.”

Hugh Grant’s monologue sounds through the quiet room, punctuated by Maggie pressing a kiss to Alex’s forehead, eliciting a whisper of “Gay,” from Lucy and giggles throughout the room.

 

Lena, in the delicate words of Lois, ‘loses her shit’ over every single one of Bill Nighy’s scenes. Kara watches her laugh with a soft, goofy smile on her face.

“Ugh, Kara, gay,” Lucy whispers under her breath, knowing that Kara can hear her.

Kara shoots her a playful glare and mouths, “Pan” at her before turning back to the movie.

 

“This is my favorite part,” Kara whispers to Lena as the PM dances around 10 Downing. “Iconic victory dance.”

Lena nods in agreement. “Great song.”

They both burst out laughing when he tries to smoothly recover when one of the staff catches him dancing.

“That happened to me once at the lab,” Eliza says casually. “I had Queen playing and one of my students caught me jumping off my desk, singing Bohemian Rhapsody. Could never quite look her in the face after that.”

The room erupts in laughter.

 

“Oh, I hate this. So awkward,” Kara mutters, cringing for the character of Mark as Juliette watches the wedding video he took.

“They’re all of me,” she whispers, giving him a long, shocked look.

“Oof.”

“Poor guy.”

“He’s still creepy.”

“Shut up, Lucy.”

 

“Oh, fuck you, homewreckers, Nanny McPhee deserves better!”

“Shut up, Lucy. But yes, 100% agree.”

“That’s Professor Trelawney to you, Muggle!”

“Kara no!”

“Not again with the Muggle stuff!”

“That’s professor Trelawney?!”

 

“Listen, I don’t care what you say, that little girl can sing!”

“Literally no one is arguing with you, Winn.”

 

“Oh, they’re engaged! They were my favorites!” Lena enthuses when Jack and Judy appear at the airport in the final scene.

“Really? The stand-ins doing pseudo-porn are your favorite couple?” Alex snorts.

“Kinky,” Maggie laughs.

Lena rolls her eyes and flips them both off.

 

“Why does everyone in this movie think she’s fat?!” Kara yells.

Lena shakes with laughter and attempts to settle the outraged blonde back into her lap.

**********

“They’re a cute couple,” Clark decides aloud as he climbs into bed with Lois later that night.

“Who’s a cute couple?” Lois asks.

“Kara and Lena. I mean, I still don’t love the idea, but even I can admit they’re cute together,” he tells her.

“Hon, they’re not a couple,” Lois tells him.

His brow furrows. “Yeah, they are. Kara told me so, right after we got into it because they were sleeping together.”

“They fucking what!” Lois yells, sitting straight up in bed. “You knew this and didn’t tell me?!”

He’s very confused. “I- why would I tell you who Kara’s sleeping with? I don’t even want to know who Kara’s sleeping with! Besides, I didn’t want to start another fight!”

That’s what you were fighting about? You said you’d said something stupid in the woods about Lena and Kara was mad! Not that she was sleeping with Little Luthor!”

Clark winces. “Can we please not call her that? Just call her Lena.”

“Fine, sorry. But dammit, that was like five days ago and you didn’t tell me!” She slaps at him halfheartedly.

“It’s not my business! Or yours, actually. Hey, why do you care so much?”

She blanks slightly. “Uh, because, um… they’re not married, so they shouldn’t be sharing a room?” she tries.

Clark very pointedly looks at her, then down at himself, then around at the room they’re sharing, and then back to her again, brow raised in question. “You wanna try again?”

“Augh, fine. Look, we’ve been trying to hook them up for weeks.”

“We? Who’s we?”

“Basically everyone except for you, Jimmy, Eliza, and Martha.”

“Lois! You can’t meddle with people’s lives like that!”

She gives him a very unimpressed look. “Yeah, don’t go even there with me, Smallville. You don’t have room to talk and we both know it.”

“Fine. But honestly? Weeks?”

“We haven’t been doing anything overt, we’re being very subtle.”

“You, Lucy, and Maggie are being subtle?” he asks with a laugh.

“Alex is making us.”

There it is,” Clark laughs. “Well look, you can stop now, it worked.”

“I don’t think it did.”

“Kara wouldn’t lie to me!”

“Normally, no, but if you pissed her off enough, she might try to rile you up a bit. And shit, what a way to do it.”

“They were sleeping in the same bed. And you saw how they were upstairs! There’s no way they’re not!”

Lois lets a slow smile spread across her face. “Oh yeah? You wanna bet?”

“No.”

“Because you know you’re wrong!”

“Because it’s wrong to bet on our family members love lives!”

“Lame! C’mon, don’t be such a damn square!”

“I’m not- look, if I can prove it to you without betting or outside influence, will you let it go?”

“Yes! I will 100% let it go.”

“Fine. I’ll prove it. Tomorrow. Right now I’m tired.” He pulls her halfway onto his chest and sighs contentedly. “Much better.”

Lois shakes her head fondly against him. “Such a dork.”

“You love me.”

“Well, you love me back, so you’re still the bigger dork.”

“Goodnight, Lois.”

“Goodnight, Smallville.”

***********

Two days ‘til Christmas,” Kara sings, skipping into the dining room, bright smile fixed upon her face. “Good morning!”

Lena trails after her, looking barely better than dead, grumbling at everyone in greeting before accepting the mug of coffee Martha shoves into her hands with a genuine smile.

“Stay up late, Luthor?” Lois asks in a far-too-casual tone.

Lena looks up and blinks sleepily at her before narrowing her eyes as the reporter’s words sink into her tired brain. “We all did.”

“Yeah, Lois, we were all up at like three in the morning!” Kara chimes in. “That’s why I woke up so late.”

“You did sleep late. You feeling okay?” Clark asks, sipping his coffee and making pointed eye contact with Lois across the table.

“I’m good, I was just tired. We stayed up for a while after everyone went to bed.”

“More wrestling?” Winn asks mildly, looking confused and disgusted when Clark spit-takes beside him.

Talking,” Kara says firmly, shooting Winn a look.

“Wrestling is so last week. Now we just… talk together,” Lena mutters into her mug, smirking when Alex starts choking on her own coffee.

“Goddammit, Luthor!”

Lena shrugs unapologetically. “Kara, will you please- yes, thank you.”

Kara hands her the hash browns she’d been after, followed quickly by a large bowl of fruit without looking to see Lena’s grateful smile. “See? Talking.”

Clark and Lois shoot each other equally smug looks, their faces rapidly changing to indignation when they each realize that the other thinks they’ve won.

 

“Alright, Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and that means I have to start cooking. Who’s going to the store for me?” Eliza asks after breakfast.

Lena sees an opportunity to help the family who have welcomed her, and takes it. “I’d be happy to go, Eliza.”

“Me too!” Kara chimes in beside her with a sunny grin. “I can carry all the heavy stuff.”

Eliza nods and hands Lena a list, shooing both of them off toward the door. “Good. And don’t take all day, some of this stuff is time sensitive, alright?”

“Anybody else need anything from the store?” Kara asks.

“Here, lemme write down what I need for my rolls,” Maggie says, taking the list from Kara and scribbling a few ingredients.

Kara lights up. “Oh my gosh, Maggie you’re making your cinnamon rolls? Lena! She makes- they are the best. And I hate all that vegan stuff-”

“You love Oreos,” Maggie points out.

“-except for Oreos, which we decided by popular vote are now a vegetable.” Lena snorts indelicately at this. “But her cinnamon rolls are magic and she only makes them like once a year, and I need them so c’mon, we’ve gotta go.” Kara grabs Lena’s arm and tugs her toward the door. “The sooner we get back the sooner she can make the rolls and the sooner I can eat them.”

Lena allows herself to be led, though she does make Kara stop and put on a coat and shoes, petty things such as wet feet and pneumonia apparently beneath her notice in the quest for cinnamon rolls.

“Don’t let her out of your sight, she’s trouble,” Alex warns from where she leans against the banister.

“I won’t,” Kara and Lena reply together, looking shocked and appalled that the other would say such a thing.

“Fucking hopeless, both of you,” Alex mutters, wandering off to find Maggie.

***********

“So, we need potatoes, onions, carrots, barley- where are we going to find barley?” Lena mutters, scanning down the list. “Or beef bones?”

“Oh, we go to the butcher for bones,” Kara says. “And the barley is over by the rice.”

The store Kara’s directed them to is massive, more a warehouse or an indoor market than a traditional grocery store, and it is packed with people. Which only makes sense- after all, it is the day before Christmas Eve.

“So where do we start?” Lena asks, looking up from the list to find that she’s alone. Or at least, as alone as one can be in a bustling market. “Kara?” She heaves a sigh, trying to fight against the rising anxiety that comes with being in crowds of people. “Kara?”

“Hey! Sorry! Look, I got the last bag of apples!” Kara says, suddenly reappearing at her elbow, smiling proudly at her find. When she meets Lena’s eyes, though, her face rapidly changes to that of concern. “You okay?”

“Yes, I just didn’t know where you went. I was afraid I was going to have to mount a search,” Lena says, quickly and dismissively. “Where should we start?”

Kara’s not fooled. “I guess it is kinda crowded in here today. Let’s stick together, I’d hate for you to get lost; you’re so tiny it’d take forever to find you again,” she says with a playful grin.

Lena tries not to let her relief show on her face. “I’m average height, you’re just a giant,” she defends.

“So says you, Lois, Maggie, and Lucy. I think you’re all just fun-size.”

Lena huffs at her, smiling slightly.

“So, I think we should start with produce and then work our way through,” Kara says, eyeing the list seriously. “It’s what we’re closest to, and we need more veggies and stuff than anything else. It’d be just our luck to get there and find out they’re out of rutabaga, or something.”

“Do we have bad luck?” Lena asks curiously.

Kara gives her an incredulous look. “Lena, in the 20 days I’ve known you, you’ve been in a serious car accident, run away from home, been targeted by terrorists, been targeted by kidnappers, and had to deal with Lucy Lane. You have the worst luck of anyone I’ve ever met.”

Lena frowns slightly. “Well, when you put it that way…” A slow smile spreads across her face when Kara snorts with laughter. “Besides, it’s not all bad.”

“What part of that is good?” Kara asks, laughing.

“You.”

Kara abruptly stops laughing and flushes brightly, reaching up to adjust her glasses. “Ha, yeah, let’s uh, let’s find those rutabagas.”

Lena smiles and allows the diversion, a bit pink herself.

 

“Eliza goes through an impressive amount of food,” Lena observes. She’s pushing one cart, Kara is pushing another, and both are quickly filling up.

“Well, yeah, there’s 10 of us- 11, sorry. Plus Hank is gonna be here tomorrow, so 12. And we’re all hungry,” Kara says casually. “We usually try to help with groceries, but sometimes she won’t let us. Eliza’s too stubborn for her own good, sometimes.” The clear fondness in her voice belies the exasperation in her words.

Lena nods thoughtfully. “It must be nice, having all your family and friends in one place.”

“It is. We’re kinda scattered across the country at this point, what with us being here, and Lucy, Ji- James, and Winn being in California. Huh, I’ll be there next year, too. And you, of course,” she adds thoughtlessly. “So we Facetime and Skype and stuff, but it’s not the same, y’know? Plus no one cooks like Eliza, Clark, and Martha. I think I’m gonna miss that the most, not living around here anymore- I’ll have to feed myself!”

“I thought you said that you can’t cook?”

“Oh, no, I absolutely cannot. Lots of takeout is in my future,” Kara laughs.

“It’s really brave, by the way, what you’re doing.” At Kara’s curious look, Lena clarifies, “Moving to National City, away from your family, especially with how close you all are.”

Kara shrugs bashfully. “I have to finish school sometime, y’know? I can’t be the only one in the family to be a college dropout.”

“But you could’ve gone to school closer to home,” Lena presses, refusing to let Kara discount this.

“Well, I want… hmm, how do I say this?” Kara mutters, pausing to grab a few baskets of the fancy mushrooms Eliza’s requested. “I can’t stay cocooned forever? Is that- no, that’s dumb. I want to figure out what I want, and it’s hard to do that when everything’s so… safe? Like, I love my family, obviously I do. But I feel bad for taking risks, here. I need to be able to do that, without being worried about them being worried or upset or whatever. It’s too safe here. Does that make any sense?”

Lena regards her seriously. “It really does. And I agree, it’s very difficult to figure out who you are and who you want to be in someone else’s shadow or under their wing, however much you love them. I can certainly understand the sentiment. ” Kara smiles softly, understandingly at her. Lena pauses for a long moment, before continuing, “But it’s not any easier, knowing you have to go to be who you’re supposed to be. It almost makes it harder, actually. That’s why you’re brave- you’re leaving being safe and protected to throw yourself into the person you want to be. I didn’t even do that, and I don’t know that I could have.”

“Is it worth it?” Kara asks quietly, almost too softly for Lena to hear. “Leaving?”

Lena smiles up at her and bumps her shoulder into Kara’s. “It seems to be working out alright for me.”

Kara flushes and goes quiet again, but the pleased half smile on her lips is all the response Lena needs.

 

“I can never tell what makes a good piece of beef unless I’m eating it,” Kara jokes, leaning over the wide selection in front of them in the butcher section.

Lena tucks the paper-wrapped beef bones into the cart. “Look for the marbling,” she tells her. At Kara’s baffled look, she laughs. “The white stuff mixed in with the red, Kara. See, like this one,” she pulls a package of steaks out to show Kara, “there’s almost no marbling. It’s all red, so there’s no fat mixed in with the meat, so it’s going to be tough when it gets cooked. This one,” she sets aside the one she’s holding to pick up another package of the same cut, “has much better marbling. See how there are little thin lines of fat through the steak? That’s going to taste much better.”

Kara huffs in amused exasperation. “Do you just know everything?” she asks.

“Hardly. I watch a lot of those cooking shows on Netflix. Well, actually, I have them on for white noise when I’m working.”

“You get to watch Netflix at work? Wow, your boss must be awesome,” Kara teases.

Lena rolls her eyes, selecting a good-sized rib roast and storing it in Kara’s cart. “She’s actually kind of a bitch.” Kara snorts. “And no, not at work, at my apartment.”

“You work at work, you work on vacation, you work at your house… no wonder we have so many movies to watch,” Kara groans.

“It’s not my fault that Japan is on the opposite schedule,” Lena defends. “Besides, I do fun things too.”

“Oh? What fun things do you do, Lena?”

“I do yoga-“

“That is not a fun thing.”

“-and I cook, sometimes. And I go to the gym.”

“All of those are like, necessary things, not fun things,” Kara chides. “How often do you watch TV and eat Chinese in your pajamas?”

“Not very,” Lena laughs.

“See? Stick with me, kid,” Kara teases, throwing one arm around Lena’s shoulders and flinging the other wide in front of her. “I’ll show you the joys of Takeout Sundays. Sweats, blankets, movies, and food that’s terrible for you.”

“I feel like we already do that every night. Well, except for the takeout part,” Lena amends.

“Not the same. I’ll have to show you the light.”

“I look forward to it,” Lena says with a smile.

 

Lena brooks no arguments when it comes time to pay for the groceries, pulling out her card and shooting Kara a challenging look. “Don’t even think about it, Danvers.”

Kara holds her hands up in a gesture of innocence. “Me? No, no way. I know you’re ridiculous, I have moved on to other things. Eliza, however, is gonna lecture you for paying for everything.”

“Sure,” Lena laughs.

Kara eyes her seriously. “No, I mean it. She has a thing about stuff like this.”

“It’ll be fine,” Lena dismisses, inserting her card into the chip reader. “Besides, I’ve been eating and staying there for almost two weeks. She can consider this my room and board.”

“Good luck with that,” Kara says encouragingly, laughing when Lena subtly flips her off so the cashier can’t see.

**************

“What are you all happy about?” Lois asks, sidling up to Clark as they help unload all the groceries from Kara’s SUV.

“Can’t a guy be happy?” he teases.

“I guess,” she shrugs. “I just didn’t think you would be, since you didn’t prove that your cousin and Little Lu- Lena- are hooking up.”

He smiles softly at her as they trudge to the house, loaded down with boxes and bags. “Do you know what Pa used to tell me?”

“‘No flying in the house?’” she guesses cheekily.

“No.” He pauses before amending, “Well, yes. But this was back when I was a teenager and going through all that entails, and I asked him how he knew that Ma was the person he wanted to marry and spend his life with.”

“What an intrepid little reporter you were,” she teases.

He shoots her a playful glare. “Hush, you. So I asked him, and he just thought about it for a minute, and he told me to marry the person that I wanna go grocery shopping with. That if I can have fun and still love that person after a day in the supermarket on a busy Saturday, well, that’s who I should end up with.”

Lois smiles softly and touches his arm. “That’s really sweet. Sounds just like Pa Kent.”

Clark smiles sadly for a moment before brightening. “That’s why we went to the grocery store on our fourth date; I wanted to give you the supermarket test. I wasn’t actually out of flour.”

“You sneaky alien, you.”

“So, who do you know that just went to the grocery store, on the busiest shopping day of the year, and came out even more joined at the hip than usual?” he asks knowingly, pecking her on the cheek before moving back out to the car for another trip.

Lois looks over to see Eliza giving Lena a lecture about not paying for things, and Lena arguing that she wanted to, and Kara standing beside her, smiling and looking positively… lovestruck. And Lena looks over at her, slightly exasperated by Eliza’s insistence that she not pay for anything, and gives Kara the exact same, moony look.

‘Huh. Smallville was right after all.’

Lois finds she’s not really too upset about it.

Chapter Text

Lena’s pretty sure she’s still dreaming, because nothing can possibly smell so good in real life.

She’s just beginning to open her eyes when the bedroom door bursts open and suddenly Kara is leaping onto her bed. “Lena! Lena, she made the rolls! Hurry!”

Lena lets out a grunt at the slight impact and finally drags her eyes open to see a jubilant Kara hovering over her, practically vibrating with excitement. They’re not touching, exactly, but Kara’s thighs are straddling Lena’s hips and her hands are planted on either side of Lena’s face, the body heat she always sends rolling off of her in waves seeming too hot rather than comforting and her face so close that she can see flecks of gold in Kara’s eyes and… Lena’s suddenly much more awake than she had been moments before. “Good morning, Kara,” she says wryly before succumbing to a yawn.

“Yeah yeah, whatever, c’mon, up! Rolls, Lena! Rolls!” and with that Kara clambers off the bed (and Lena) and bolts from the room.

Lena watches her go before letting her head thump back onto the mattress with a humorless chuckle. “Oh, yeah, nothing bad can possibly come from this,” she mutters darkly. She opens her eyes to see Winn hovering in the doorway, smirking. “What, Winn?”

He trots over and delicately presses a water bottle into her hands.

“Um… thank you?”

He nods solemnly. “You were looking pretty thirsty.”

He darts from the room, ducking as the water bottle hits the door right where his head had been a moment prior. “I’ve been waiting to make that joke for days! No regrets!”

Lena covers her flaming face and lets out a piteous groan. “Fuck.”

*********

Eliza Danvers prides herself on the fact that she knows people. Especially these people.

She always knew that Alex wasn’t quite as straight as she thought she was. And thank god, because where Alex would be without Maggie Sawyer isn’t really something she wants to consider.

She always knew that Kara would bring home strays, knew that Kara thought of herself as a stray. Her youngest has a serious soft spot for damaged things. And damaged people.

She’d known that Kara and Lucy had a thing when they were teenagers, even though neither of them has ever mentioned it; it’s why she’d started Midvale’s chapter of PFLAG. She never wanted Kara to feel any more out of place than she already did.

She knows that Clark sneaks into the kitchen late at night to make himself a truly epic feast, even though he makes sure to clean up after himself.

So it’s no real surprise to her when Kara bounds up the stairs, reappearing a few minutes later, an oddly smug Winn and a very red Lena trailing after her.

“Good morning, kids,” she says, and passes a full mug of coffee to Lena. She’s learned over the past few weeks that Lena Luthor is happiest with black grease under her nails and black coffee in her hands. Eliza understands; she remembers all the long nights doing research, and what a balm the molten heat of coffee can be to a pounding head and dry throat.

“Rolls are for everyone, Little Danvers,” Maggie scolds, holding a pan as far out of Kara’s reach as she’s able (not very). Fortunately, Alex comes to her rescue, rolling her eyes and snatching the pan from her fiancées hand, sending Kara a withering glare when she tries to protest.

“No, no puppy eyes, you share like an adult,” Alex says firmly.

Kara deflates and pouts, slumping into the seat beside Lena and resting her chin in her hands grumpily. Lena smiles softly and says something that pulls a reluctant smile from Kara.

Eliza smiles into her coffee. She knows people.

She knows these people, specifically.

Whatever is happening between Kara and Lena is… not what she was expecting, when Kara had first brought the bleeding, concussed young CEO to her door. Was that really only three weeks ago?

Lena had been… not cold, but closed off. Comfortable with speaking about her work, but seemingly nothing else came easily to her. She flinched every time someone laid a hand on her, something Eliza had tried very hard to avoid looking into; even considering what she’s heard about Lillian Luthor.

She’d honestly expected to never see Lena Luthor outside of a professional setting ever again.

This Lena is wearing sweatpants, her hair is pulled into a sloppy bun, untamed for over a week now and getting wild with the absence of a curling iron and an hour of heavy tweaking every day. She even has a pair of thick-rimmed black glasses perched on her nose, accepting the ribbing the others give her with a sort of affectionate annoyance. Eliza supposes that this is to be expected; her family is nothing if not affable.

But that’s not the surprise, not really. Kara especially has always been pure warmth and hopefulness and a raw desire to help.

The surprise is that Eliza’s pretty sure Lena is the same way.

Maybe more damaged, certainly more guarded, but there are moments (like now, when Kara’s got frosting on her face and Lena laughs and helps wipe it off with a napkin, laughing again at Kara’s indignation that she’s ‘wasted’ the frosting) when she can see a bit of that sunshine peek through the careful mask Lena wears. It’s in helping Winn with his computer, or sneaking drinks with Maggie and Lucy in the attic while looking for baby pictures (of course she knows. She knows all of them too well not to), the fact that she stood her ground when she bought the groceries yesterday (over $600), the way she speaks about the Xenomedicine she’s so excited about- Lena Luthor wants to help, however she can.

And Eliza can see that. After all, she’s helped raise two superheroes. She knows the look.

With Clark it’s all steely determination and Kara is all open compassion and duty and Lena falls somewhere between.

But it’s alright, she supposes, that she didn’t see this coming. Surprises can be good, she knows.

Like finding out your terminal cancer is gone. Very pleasant surprise.

Kara could do a lot worse than a kind, funny, awkward genius billionaire who doesn’t quite know what to do when someone hugs her and gets tongue tied when Kara smiles at her. Like she did just now.

Eliza sighs fondly.

She hadn’t expected this, having another mouth to feed and another young face at her table and another young voice echoing through her halls. She thought surely she’d collected them all by now.

But in spite of priding herself on knowing people- these people, specifically-, she finds she doesn’t mind being thrown for a loop in this one instance.

After all, a Luthor and a Super? Who could’ve seen that coming?

(Well, except for Maggie. But, and Eliza’s comfortable enough to admit it, Maggie knows everything.)

**************

Kara’s happily working her way through a third cinnamon roll when she hears Lena’s heart kick up several notches. She looks over at her, brows knitted together. “Hey, you alright?”

“Yeah, just… why does Eliza keep giving us such odd looks?”

Kara looks over to her foster mother and catches her eye, receiving only a small smile in return. “Is she? I didn’t notice.”

“You’ve been… preoccupied,” Lena drawls, fighting a smirk.

Kara sticks her tongue out and returns her attention to the important matter at hand.

“Alright, so Kara, Alex, Lucy and Lois, you’re on peeling duty,” Eliza informs them as the meal (if one can call cocoa, coffee, and cinnamon rolls a meal) begins to wind down. “The rest of you can be trusted to avoid burning the house down, so you’re allowed in the kitchen.” She pauses for a moment, turning to Lena. “Do you need to get any work done today, or can I pull you into some prep duty?”

Lena shakes her head with a smile. “LuthorCorp is basically closed, the 24th through the 2nd of January. I’m all yours.”

“Great. You can help Clark with the roasts,” she says with a smile. Kara stops eating. “Now James, I want you and Winn to…”

Kara tunes Eliza out as she gives Clark a hard look, but he just smiles at her, a bit strained but genuine nonetheless.

“Don’t worry, I won’t bite,” he assures her so no one else can hear.

She weighs this in her mind before nodding a bit and going back to her food.

**********

“So! You and Superdork can finally get drunk,” Lucy drawls. She’s been waiting to get Kara away from Lena to hassle her for days, but unfortunately, they’ve been totally joined at the hip.

It’d be disgusting, if it weren’t so cute.

Although Lucy will fight anyone who dares to accuse her of thinking so.

They’re huddled around a trash can in the garage, bags of unpeeled root vegetables at their feet. Lois shoots Lucy a look which she ignores.

“I guess we can, yeah,” Kara agrees.

Alex snorts. “I can fully attest to the fact that she can get drunk,” she laughs.

Lucy’s grin turns predatory. “Great! So when are you gonna get drunk enough to tell Luthor that you wanna have her beautiful, dorky babies?”

Kara chokes on air and Lois lets out a bark of laughter. “C’mon, Luce, leave her be.”

“I’m sorry, I believe I was talking to my good friend Kara, here,” Lucy snarks before returning her attention to Kara. “Or do you not need to be drunk? You gonna bust a move all on your own? Because that’d probably be less funny, but I guess I still support it.”

Kara’s turning several interesting shades of red. “I don’t wanna have her babies, Lucy,” she grits out.

“But they’d be so cute!” Lucy pouts. “All too-smart and too-strong and looking like tiny models.”

“Leave her alone before she becomes the first Kryptonian to figure out how to have an aneurysm,” Alex laughs.

“Is it a sex-aversion thing? Because you’ve never really seemed the type, and Luthor definitely isn’t, with the way she looks at you. Is that a Krypton thing? Hey, Lois-“

Lois holds up a hand. “I’m gonna go ahead and stop you there, sis. No, it is not an issue with Clark.”

Lucy pulls a face but nods. “So what is it?”

“I don’t- we’re just friends!” Kara protests.

The peeling stops and the other three women eye her critically.

“Kara, we’re all intelligent, educated women who’ve known you for 15 years. You are fooling approximately none of us,” Lois tells her.

“I’m not trying to! Nothing is going on!”

“So you haven’t slept together?” Alex challenges.

Kara’s red again. “Well, if we’re talking about like, actually sleeping, then yes,” she says. “But-”

“And why does Smallville seem to think you’re a couple?” Lois asks, amused.

“Well, I maybe implied that we are, but-”

“And the heart eyes, and the lighting up when she walks into the room, all coincidence?” Lucy asks.

“Okay, fine! Rao! Yes, okay, I… I like her, but I can’t actually do anything about it.”

Alex rolls her eyes heavenward. “Thank god. Okay, why? Is it the sex thing? Because you’re not exactly unfamiliar with-”

“No! No, I am a healthy person with a normal, healthy interest in sex!” Kara says firmly, tone belying the blush staining her cheeks.

“Um…”

Kara points at Alex accusingly. “Oh no. You don’t get to get all squicked out on me talking about sex when you brought it up!”

Lucy snorts. “She’s right, Al.”

“So what’s the issue?” Lois presses. “Because for someone with a seemingly good attitude about it, you sure didn’t bring anyone home. Ever.”

“I did so!”

“Okay, first of all, again, Winn does not count. And secondly, neither does whatsherface!”

“She counts!”

“She cheated on you! She was a bitch!”

“She still counts!”

“She cheated on you?!” Lucy yells, shooting to her feet. “I’ll kill her!”

“No! I mean, yes, she did, but it was after I accidentally broke her nose and sorta freaked her out,” Kara says, pulling her infuriated friend back down into the chair. “No murder.”

“You broke her nose? Oh, Kara, we talked about that when you were sneaking around with Lucy- you have to be careful,” Alex sighs.

“You knew?” Lucy laughs.

Alex snorts derisively. “Of course I knew; she’s my sister and you’re an idiot.”

Lucy ponders this for a moment before shrugging. “Fair enough.”

“I was, being careful, that is, I swear, but- but she was so pretty, and I just sorta… let loose for a minute, and, well…”

Lois laughs. “She turned you on and you broke her face. Classic.”

“It wasn’t! It was terrible!” Kara insists, more than slightly humiliated.

“Okay, fine, you brought one person home, and that ended in a trip to the emergency room,” Lois amends. “What’s your holdup with Little Luthor?”

“I don’t want to hurt her, for one,” Kara says.

“That’s pretty easy to fix, actually. Just let me make some calls,” Lucy tells her. “Next.”

“Oh. Um, she’s out of my league, in a big way.”

“Not even true. For one of the smartest beings on Earth, you sure are a dummy,” Alex teases reassuringly. “Next.”

“I- I can’t be honest with her. About me, and who I am, where I come from.”

There it is. The crux of it all.

There’s nothing but the sound of Kara hurriedly peeling potatoes to fill the silence for a long minute.

“Yeah, that’d be hard,” Lucy murmurs, tone uncharacteristically soft and sympathetic.

“If I tell her about me, I’d be telling her about Clark, too. And that’s not fair to him,” she says firmly.

“Maybe if you talk to him, he’ll-”

But Kara’s already shaking her head sadly. “We all know he’d never let that happen. I don’t wanna start something with Lena that I can’t finish.”

Silence descends once again, and now it’s filled by all of them peeling their piles of vegetables.

“Hey Kara?” Lucy hedges.

“Yeah?”

“Are you really sure it’s not that you’re scared of sex or something, because-”

“Oh my Rao, no! I like sex! Love it, even! I want to have sex all the time always!” Kara yells, standing up out of her seat, arms waving wildly in the air. “Sex is the best! In fact, I want to have lots of sex, right now!”

“… Alex?”

All the color drains from Kara’s face as she whirls around to see Lena standing in the doorway, avoiding eye contact. A snicker sounds from somewhere nearby.

She’s going to kill Lucy Lane.

“Yeah, Lena?”

“Maggie needs you to run to the store to get some salt, James spilled all of it in the sink,” Lena tells her, voice a bit higher and faster than usual. “She tried to text you, but I guess you don’t have your phone out here.”

“I’m on it. Anything else?”

Lena shakes her head mutely and steps back into the house, closing the door behind her.

Kara whirls on Lucy, who’s laughing so hard her eyes are watering. “You planned that!”

“Perfectly,” Lucy agrees, still laughing. “Shit, that was funny.”

“Lucy, you’re my worst friend. Alex, I’m coming with you!” Kara calls, hurrying after her sister.

Lucy is still cackling to herself when a carrot bounces off of her head. “Ow, what the fu-” followed quickly by a parsnip, and then Lois lobs a potato at her. “What the hell, Lois!”

“Can you not just let them pine in peace?” Lois snaps, a large rutabaga poised to throw.

“None of you are; why should I?” Lucy yells.

“Because I’m older than you!” Lois shouts. “We’re at least being sorta subtle about it! You always have to make everything about entertaining yourself!”

“Oh, here we go!” Lucy yells, throwing a potato, which Lois dodges easily. “You wanna do this?!”

“Bring it, Tiny!”

And thus, the Annual Lane Sisters Holiday Fight begins. Seven hours ahead of schedule.

 

Later, Maggie is smug when she wins the annual betting pool.

*************

Lena walks back to the kitchen in a daze.

“What’s with her?” James whispers to Maggie. “She looks like she saw a ghost.”

Maggie shrugs helplessly. “Dunno. Maybe she did. God fuckin’ knows what weird shit Mom has lying around. Hey, Little Luthor!”

No response.

Even Clark looks a bit concerned. He’s just opened his mouth to say something when he suddenly cocks his head to the side, clearly listening to something that no one else can hear. With a soul-deep sigh of resignation, he wipes his hands on a clean towel and trudges off toward the garage. They hear the door open, followed by screaming, and then the door slamming and silence.

James looks nervous. “Uh, I should probably-”

“Run, boy,” Maggie chuckles, full-out laughing when he follows her advice and sprints down the hallway.

Martha looks weary. “The girls fightin’ again?”

“Only always, Martha,” Maggie says affectionately.

Martha rolls her eyes and returns her attentions to the dough she’s kneading.

The door opens again, and Clark and James can be seen trudging down the stairs, their respective girlfriends slung over their shoulders, struggling against their hold and still shouting incomprehensibly at one another.

“Good lord,” Eliza mutters. “I wonder what they broke this year.”

Maggie turns her attention to Lena once again, who seems to be determined to rub the seasoning mix she and Clark have prepped onto every square inch of the roast. When she feels Maggie’s questioning gaze upon her, she raises an eyebrow in challenge. “What?”

“Nothing, not a thing,” Maggie says, hands raised. “You’re just being very… thorough.”

Lena looks down at the roast as if seeing it for the first time. “Huh.”

“When is Hank getting here?” Maggie asks, hoping for a subject change. Something fascinating happened in that garage, and she’s desperate to know what, but Lena seems to have gone full-zombie in response. So Maggie has to pull her out of it, before she does something stupid, like-

“You know, maybe I should head back to Metropolis.”

-like that.

Eliza and Martha look stricken. “No! Not on Christmas Eve!”

“Well, I have to get back eventually, and-“

“Luthor, you may have forgotten, but you are actually under protective custody. Mine specifically. So I’m gonna have to torpedo that idea, on the grounds that it’s very fucking stupid,” Maggie tells her firmly.

“But-“

“Nope! No. No buts. You’re staying, end of,” Maggie says firmly. “It’d break Kara’s heart if you left on Christmas Eve; it’s her favorite day of the year.”

Lena flushes and heaves a shaky sigh. “I don’t love being told what to do, Detective.”

“Neither do I. But you’re under my protection, and Alex Danvers has me wrapped around her finger, so I guess we’re both shit outta luck, huh?”

Eliza snorts, pressing a kiss to the top of Maggie’s head as she passes on the way to the sink.

*************

“Alex, what am I supposed to do?!”

Alex rolls her eyes fondly at her younger sister. “Why do you have to do anything? Lucy made an idiot out of you, it happens to the best of us. Exact your petty revenge and move on.”

“I don’t want revenge, I want- did you see Lena’s face?”

Alex glances over at her sister looking dejected in the passenger seat and sighs, slipping her hand into Kara’s and giving it an encouraging squeeze. “Look, it’s not that big a deal, Kara. I promise you that after two weeks in Lucy’s company, Lena has said her fair share of embarrassing things, too.”

“She didn’t yell about how much she loved sex in front of someone she-“

“Likes?” Alex finishes knowingly.

Kara huffs. “Yes, alright, I like her, we all already know that, let’s move on.”

“Kara, she likes you too, I can tell,” Alex says. “Why don’t you just-“

“Like I said in the garage, I don’t wanna start something I can’t finish. And if I can’t be honest… Lena’s had enough people lie to her,” Kara says, voice determined but posture miserable.

Alex squeezes her hand again. “I’m sorry, kiddo.”

“Why can’t I like somebody who already knows? That’d be so much easier! Or just, like, I have to save her life and it comes out all natural and we can move from there?” Kara moans.

“Well, I mean, technically, you have saved her life. Twice,” Alex says. “You might get another shot!”

Kara looks at her, horrified by the suggestion. “What the- Alex! I’m not gonna root for her to almost die to make my life easier! Rao!”

“Well I don’t know! I was just trying to make you feel better,” Alex defends.

“Not working,” Kara grumbles.

Alex sighs. “Look, Kara. Lena seems really great, and she clearly likes you too. And, truth be told, she’s winning literally all of us over. But Kara, if you’re determined to not start anything with her unless she knows who you are…”

“…then I can’t tell her,” Kara finishes sadly. “I know.”

“That’s not what I was going to say,” Alex says.

Kara whips her head around at a speed that’d snap a human’s neck. “What?”

Alex blows out a breath and parks the car. “Look, you… you’re a good judge of character, everyone who’s ever found out through you, well… I mean, they’re staying in our house! That says something! And, I dunno… I think you should talk to Clark about it.”

Kara’s still gaping at Alex when she steps out of the car and starts toward the store. She scrambles after her sister, stumbling slightly in her haste. “What- You want me to tell her?”

Alex barks out a laugh. “No! I want you to tell no one, ever! In an ideal world, the only people who know are me, Mom, and Clark, but we’re way past that anyways.”

“So, you don’t want me to tell her,” Kara clarifies, brow crinkling.

Alex sighs, moving toward the correct aisle. “It doesn’t matter what I want you to do, Kara. It’s your life. And all I really want for your life is for you to be safe and happy.” She meets Kara’s eyes, seeming taller than her sister despite the opposite being true. “Do you think that Lena would make you happy, Kara?”

Kara flushes a bit. “I mean, I- well, I like her, and she’s sweet and funny and kind, and she has a really big heart, and she’s generous. And she… she’s just a good person, y’know?”

Alex’s gaze has softened, and there’s a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. “Then I think you have your answer, Kara. Question is, what are you gonna do about it?”

Chapter Text

“Hank!”

Lena looks up to see Alex and Kara run up to a large man with close-cropped hair and a broad smile stretched across his face. Kara flings herself at him without pause, and he catches her easily, laughing at her antics, though Alex maintains a more sedate pace, waiting until Kara is back on the ground before giving the new arrival a hug of her own.

“It’s good to see you, girls,” he rumbles fondly. He sweeps his gaze across them, greeting each with a smile and a nod, until he meets Lena’s eyes. Gently, he extricates himself from the sisters and steps forward. “Miss Luthor, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you, these past few weeks.”

“Likewise, Mr. Henshaw,” Lena says, shaking his hand firmly.

“Call me Hank, please,” he demurs. “I’m off duty tonight, after all.”

“Then I insist you call me Lena,” she says warmly.

He nods and releases his grip, turning and meeting Lucy’s mocking salute with an eye-roll. “Major Lane, good to see you.”

“You too, big guy,” she says with a grin. “So where are our presents?”

He rolls his eyes again, familiar with Lucy’s off-duty antics.

Some things never change.

**********

Dinner at the Danvers’ is always, always informal; loud and chaotic and delicious.

So when Eliza announces that dinner will be ready in a half hour and everyone retreats to their rooms, Lena is understandably confused. “What’s happening?”

“We’re getting dressed for dinner,” Kara tells her. “C’mon, it doesn’t have to be super fancy, just, y’know, nice.”

“I didn’t realize we did that, here,” Lena jokes.

“Only for like, special occasions,” Kara explains. “Otherwise it’s like, sweatpants casual.”

Lena chuckles and follows Kara up the stairs. She’s intensely grateful that the clothes she’d thrown haphazardly into her bag several weeks ago had included a fairly modest cocktail dress, which she honestly couldn’t even remember buying, let alone packing, but it’s what she wears to dinner. It’s nothing over the top; a deep green, almost black velvet A-line dress with ¾ length sleeves and a scoop neck. It’s probably one of the simpler things she owns.

Kara still trips over her own feet when she sees it, which makes Lena feel about ten feet taller.

Kara’s own dress is simple, being a cheery red that flares at the hips and flows in such a way that means it was made to be twirled in. It shows off her toned arms in a way that isn’t overt, and is in keeping with her relatively modest dress sense.

She looks gorgeous, and Lena may as well have swallowed her tongue, for all the good it does her when Kara asks, “How do I look?”

She just nods, smiles tightly, and gives her friend two thumbs up before they troop downstairs.

 

All of them clean up very well, Lena decides. All the men (and Maggie) are in suits and ties (she especially likes Winn’s purple bowtie), the women are dolled up, and it seems very much like something from an old movie, getting dressed up for Christmas Eve dinner. But, like so many other things in the orbit of the Danvers’, Lena finds it to be kind of, sort of perfect.

The food on the table is completely unparalleled, both in proportion and quality, to anything they’d eaten thus far. A massive roast, carrots with Eliza’s apparently famous glaze, sweet potatoes, fried Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, seared asparagus, a root vegetable medley (which just might be short a few parsnips and a rutabaga), fresh-baked rolls still warm from the oven. It all looks and smells completely intoxicating to Lena, who hasn’t had a home-cooked family holiday meal… possibly ever.

Hank carves the roast, which is the centerpiece of the entire meal, and she and Clark exchange proud grins when the reviews on it are overwhelmingly, unanimously positive. Their herb rub is apparently a huge hit.

(It’s all about the rosemary.)

The chatter is lively and cheerful and Lena’s only complaint is that she can’t seem to keep anything in her head for more than a few moments before turning toward someone else and listening in on what they’re talking about. It should bother her more, this lack of focus, but it doesn’t. She knows she doesn’t need to memorize this for reference at a later date; this is one of those moments, with Kara sitting across from her between her sister and her foster mother, and Lena squeezed between Winn and Lucy, who keep jostling one another using Lena as a shield… this is one of those memories that she’ll have with her forever.

 

When the meal is cleared away and they’re all so far beyond full that moving seems like a chore in and of itself, Eliza persuades them to roll themselves into the living room so they can open presents.

“Aren’t presents usually opened tomorrow?” Lena asks curiously.

Kara grins. “Yeah, but Alex and I used to get so impatient that Jeremiah would let us open them on Christmas Eve instead. And it just sorta stuck. It works out, though, ’cause James is gonna go visit his family tomorrow, and Clark and Martha and the Lanes go to Mass for like, forever. Even Maggie goes, sometimes. So usually it’s just me, Alex, Eliza, Winn, and Hank on Christmas day anyways.”

“What do Jewish people do on Christmas?” Lena asks.

“Mostly, we eat take out and play with our new stuff,” Kara says. “Eliza usually gets some books that she starts on right away, and Winn always gets toys, and I get movies and Alex… well, Alex basically does whatever she wants, always.”

Lena hums in agreement. She has no doubts that Alex does whatever she wants. They cram into the living room, forced to sit almost on top of one another with the addition of another person to accommodate. Neither of them particularly minds.

 

“Are- IS THIS- Lena, this is-”

“From one nerd to another,” she winks, thrilled with the look of awe on Winn’s face as he takes in the sight of the Millenium Falcon LEGO set she’d gifted him.

He flies at her, crushing her into a hug as she laughs. “Oh my god, thank you, this is awesome. I can’t tell if I want to keep it all nice forever or put it together right now.”

“You’d better build it, Schott,” she warns him, poking him in the chest when he pulls back.

“Only if you help,” he counters.

She smiles broadly. “Deal.”

 

From James, Lena receives a series of framed photos of herself with members of the extended Danvers clan, laughing, talking, cooking, decorating the tree. One in particular, of she and Kara sprawled on the floor, asleep under the tree, catches her interest. She wonders when he managed to take all these without her noticing. All are candid, and most feature Kara and Lena together, though some don’t have Lena in them at all, just her newfound friends.

She’s unexpectedly touched. “Thank you, James.”

He smiles that slow, warm smile and nods.

 

“You got me booze and a new holster!” Maggie crows, delighted.

“It’s the right one, right? Because I asked, but-“

“Little Luthor, this is great. Seriously, it’s- is this thing engraved?”

Lena flushes. “Too much?”

Maggie’s admiring the metal plate on the holster, stamped with the words ‘Detective Maggie Sawyer’ and the year. “This is great, Lena. Thank you.”

 

Lena laughs in delight when she opens the envelope from Winn. “Robot fights?”

“Dude, yes, it’s so dumb and awesome. We’re going to the next match, and I scored us ringside seats! We may actually get sprayed with hydraulic fluid, that’s how close we’ll be!” he says, voice rising with excitement.

“Well in that case I’ll bring an umbrella,” she jokes.

Winn smirks. “Way ahead of you. Look in the envelope.”

She pulls out a cheap plastic rain poncho and throws back her head and laughs.

 

Maggie gives her a bottle of very nice scotch, and Eliza gifts her a warm throw blanket in a deep green-blue that reminds her of the ocean in California. From Alex, she receives only a single note card, which simply reads ‘Self Defense Lessons’ and a schedule of when Alex will be in California to make good on them. It’s odd, but such an appropriate gift that Lena snorts out a laugh and shoots Alex a grateful smile, which she receives with a smile and nod of her own.

Martha’s very excited about the fancy coffee maker she gets from Lois and the softest throw blanket she’s ever touched from Lena, wrapping herself in the blanket immediately.

 

Clark seems rather stunned at the framed copies of the announcement of both VE Day and VJ Day that The Daily Planet had run at the end of WWII. “This- wow,” he breathes. He meets Lena’s eyes and smiles earnestly, cheeks dimpling. “Thank you so much, I’ll have to put these up in my office. The other guys are gonna be so jealous!”

Lois is sitting behind him, mouthing “No they won’t,” and shaking her head exaggeratedly. When he turns to show her, she stops immediately and smiles indulgently at him, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over his prizes. When he turns away again, she shoots Lena a wink and mouths “Good job, kiddo.”

 

James is so excited by his new camera bag that he attempts to leave the room to put it to use immediately, stopped only by Lucy tugging him back down into his seat and shoving the present she’d gotten him into his hands. If he was excited about the bag, he’s ecstatic about the fancy new lens, and she laughs as he kisses her.

 

Lucy grins when she sees the box of expensive Cuban cigars and very good tequila from Lena. “Aw, you know me so well.”

Lena shrugs. “Keep digging.”

Lucy’s brow furrows, and she roots around in the packaging for a minute before laughing her ass off. “Seriously?”

“All agents of chaos should be able to make a dramatic exit,” Lena grins as Lucy shows off the canister of high-tech smoke bombs to James.

 

Alex turns the handgun over in her hands after checking that it’s unloaded. “It’s so light, it feels like a toy,” she tells Lena, who grins proudly.

“It’s one of my toys. Conceals easily, lightweight, durable, and the best part, check the magazine.”

Alex does so and her face lights up. “Is this a ray gun?!”

“Close,” Lena laughs. “It’s essentially powered by a miniature arc reactor in the magazine, and it fires the energy the reactor puts out. No more bullets, the metal won’t ever overheat, and you’ll never have your gun jam on you.”

Winn grins at her. “Arc reactor? You mean, like-“

Lena sighs. “Yes, I was inspired by Iron Man.”

“So cool,” Alex breathes.

“Why do you get the gun?” Maggie whispers to Alex.

“Because it’s not your sister she wants to make babies with,” Alex informs her quietly.

Maggie considers this. “Yeah, good point.”

Across the room, Kara’s blushing furiously and Clark is trying to stifle his laughter with his hand.

He’s not really succeeding.

 

Kara’s eyes are watery as she flips through the scrapbook Clark has given her, touched beyond words that he took the time to do this for her. There are pictures of her and Clark, her and Lois, a few of them together, she, Alex, Lois, Maggie, and Lucy from a girl’s night several months ago when they’d all piled onto the couch after going out to the bar and singing along dramatically to whatever movie they’re watching. There’s one of her from the academy, sweaty and flushed but arms raised victoriously as she destroyed the obstacle course record. There’s one of her from every commendation ceremony she’s been involved in, as well as clippings of every news story that’s ever mentioned her. There’s a copy of the photo of them at Six Flags on the roller coaster. She, Lois and Clark making goofy faces at the camera. Kara with a drunk, laughing Lucy tucked under her arm, both of them biting into massive slices of pizza. Lois lying on top of Kara, both of them sound asleep on the couch.

And one of Kara and Lena playing together in the snow the other day, faces screwed up as they pretended to be monsters, stomping through the snowman village.

“Something to remember us by, and how much fun we had, living with you,” he says, smiling softly.

She sets it down carefully and bolts into Clark’s arms. “Thank you. That’s really… thank you, Kal.”

He smiles and rubs her back. “There’s still lots of room in there for more, so make sure you fill it up, okay? I wanna see it when we come visit you in National City.”

“He’s always been better at the books that have pictures,” Lois teases, elbowing him in the ribs.

She nods and sniffles, scrubbing the tears off her face and smiling. “You got it.”

 

Lena’s fiddling with the box on her lap, rather than handing it to Kara. “So, this might be stupid,” she says.

“I doubt it, gimme,” Kara says, making grabby hands and grinning.

Lena huffs but hands the box over anyways. Kara tears it open to find an impossibly soft wool sweater, deep blue with intricate geometric designs around the neck, hem, and sleeves.

“So, it’s a sweater, from Iceland, and I figured you probably have one already, but you like sweaters, so,” Lena says, ending with a shrug. Kara’s rambling seems to be rubbing off on her.

Kara smiles brightly, and across the room Maggie whoops at the medley of gift cards Lucy and James have given her. “This is great, Lena, thank you.” She pulls the sweater on over her dress, pleased at how well it fits and how comfortable it is.

“And I um, I have another one to give you, but we have to be somewhere dark for it to work,” Lena says.

“Well that’s convenient,” Kara chuckles, setting a box on Lena’s lap. “Because I got you something besides this too, but I figured you might want to open it up, like, not in front of everyone.”

Lena’s undeniably curious, and she opens the box to find a hat, gloves, and a scarf, all colored a vibrant red. She shoots Kara a look, and she merely grins. “Now maybe you won’t freeze every time we go outside,” she teases, tugging the hat onto Lena’s head. She examines her closely before leaning in and whispering, “Red is definitely your color.”

Lena huffs at her, but she’s smiling and blushing, so the effect is ruined.

 

Lois examines her gift shrewdly. “Are you sure about this?”

Lena nods. “It has to happen eventually. And since it does, I’d rather it be someone I know doing the interview, rather than some no-name off the street.”

She’s given Lois ... well, herself, for an exclusive interview, the first she’s offered or given since taking over LuthorCorp. Lois is turning over the press badge in her hands, seemingly stuck on the ‘Open Access’ printed just below her name.

“This will be quite the story,” Lois says. “And I’m not gonna hold back, just because we’re friends.”

“I’d never ask you to. I just want someone with an even split in their biases on me,” Lena says wryly. “With that, you have full access, to me and to LuthorCorp. Any department you want to visit is allowed, aside from the ones with military ties- I can’t help you there, it’s part of the contract. But R&D, marketing, finances… all yours.”

“I can probably manage to throw something together with that. And these last few weeks are off the record, just so you know.”

Lena sighs in relief. “Thank you.”

“Hey, what about CatCo?” James asks jokingly.

“Yeah, we’re hard-hitting journalists too!”

“You absolutely fucking are not, you write fluff and people love you for it. This one’s mine,” Lois says.

Lena just rolls her eyes as they start to bicker.

 

Martha Kent gives everyone sweaters, all hand-knitted, all lovely and vibrant and soft. She passes them out to everyone at once in simple butcher’s paper. She distributes them all at once, because, “Y’all already know what you’re gettin’, anyhow.”

“She read Harry Potter when Clark was a teenager and ever since then, she’s, like, Mrs. Weasley with the sweaters,” Kara explains quietly, unfolding her own blush-pink sweater with a smile. “I think she spends all year making them. Oh, good, she remembered my thumb holes!”

Lena nods, smiling as James and Winn argue over whose suits them better (definitely Winn with the silvery-gray cable-knit, though James’ dark blue turtleneck is nice too) and Lucy tugs hers on right away (a simple mossy-green one with a hood). And she’s totally surprised when Martha stops in front of her and hands her a package too.

“I- thank you,” Lena says, slightly stunned.

“Of course. It’s not quite as fancy as theirs, but it’ll do the job,” Martha says warmly. “’sides, I didn’t get a lot of warning that I’d need to make another one.”

“Oh, you didn’t have-”

“Hush and open your present,” Martha scolds lightly, wandering over to sit next to Clark and Lois.

Lena obeys, smiling at the weight and the cute owl pattern woven into the knitting, each owl having iridescent gray buttons for eyes. It’s a dark charcoal gray, which rather suits her taste, and even if it is something she’d never have picked for herself in 100 years, someone would have to pry it from her hands to get it away from her now.

“Go on, put it on, I know you wanna,” Kara teases her. “It’ll even look cute over the dress.”

Lena eyes her dubiously, but she does want to try it on. Just to make sure it fits. She pulls it over her head, careful not to get makeup all over it, and looks down to examine herself. It’s warm and soft and heavy, and Lena loves it instantly. “Thank you, Martha,” she says earnestly, smiling shyly across the room. “It’s lovely.”

Martha’s grin crinkles her eyes into slits. “I know you prob’ly won’t need it in California, but if you ever need something to keep you warm…”

Lena smiles and nods as an understanding passes between them.

She really loves this family.

Chapter Text

Eventually, all the gifts are opened and everyone starts to drift off to their rooms, sated and warm and flush with gifts from their loved ones. Hugs are given, Merry Christmases are heartily heaped upon everyone, and they stumble off to bed.

Kara and Lena are some of the last to head up to their room, nervous energy buzzing between them as they change into more comfortable clothes (though Kara chooses to leave the sweater on with her sweatpants and knobby-knit socks).  They agree silently that under the tree is the best way to give presents, and creep stealthily as they can back down the stairs.

“I wonder where Hank is?” Kara whispers. “He usually sleeps out on the couch.”

“I think he went downstairs to hang out with the others for a while,” Lena tells her.

“Weird,” Kara dismisses.

Lena settles in the middle of the room, a plain cardboard box in her lap, and it’s all Kara can do to resist taking a peek inside. “So, I have to unplug the tree for this to work…”

“Then can I go first?” Kara asks, fiddling with her glasses and the flat package she’s holding. “Because I need the lights to be on for this.” Lena nods, and Kara passes the gift over without allowing herself to hesitate. Weeks of recon and help from Kal and James have gone into this, and-

“Kara…” Lena breathes, eyes glued to the photo she’s just unwrapped. “That’s-“

“Your mom,” Kara confirms quietly. “Sarah Kieran. It was hard to find her, without her name, but-“

“You found a picture of us,” Lena says needlessly, looking more than a little dazed. “Of my mum and me.”

And she had. It took some doing- she’d had to call in favors from almost everyone she’s ever met, and look through citizenship applications from when Lena would’ve emigrated to the US, and then more still when she had to fly to Ireland to track down anyone who might have known Sarah Kieran when she was alive, let alone in the few years after she’d had Lena.

But apparently, Sarah was well-liked and fairly well known, and a business nearby was one she’d frequented with Lena- a bookstore, of course. It hasn’t changed owners or management in fifty years, and the old man who ran it was delighted to help Kara in her search, producing a photo that Sarah had given him twenty years ago. And with that photo (or rather, the watermark on the back), Kara was able to track down the photographer, who was incidentally a giant hoarder and had kept all the film he’d ever shot. Which was really, really great, up until it meant that she had to a) convince him to let her dig through his warehouse of delicate film, and b) actually look through all that film. That’s when she’d recruited Kal, who’d been sworn to secrecy. The retired photographer (who’d been giving Kara a heck of a time) was thrilled to help Superman, and between them the Kryptonian cousins had managed to finish their search in about eight hours, coming up with a roll of negatives of Lena and her mom.

They’d then brought it to James, who did… whatever he did and reproduced the photos. After so long, some were blurry, or showed signs of age, and he’d done a lot to make them look better than new.

And it does look better than new.

The photo itself is so simple. Black and white (James’ suggestion, and looking at the finished product Kara totally agrees), with Sarah Kieran in profile sitting cross-legged on the floor, arms stretched out toward a tiny Lena, who’s laughing and captured mid-leap as she jumps into her mother’s arms. They’re both wearing bright, open-mouthed smiles and it’s easy to see how much Lena’s mother adores her, the way her eyes and nose crinkle and from the way little Lena is reaching out for her, fully trusting that her mum will catch her when she jumps, well… what more is there to say than that? It’s a beautiful shot, and Kara’s favorite of the lot that they’d managed to save.

It’s immediately clear where Lena gets her looks; from the sharp angle of her jaw to the slope of her nose and the lift of her mouth when she smiles, and the eyes… those are Sarah’s, too, the color in the unedited color photos unmistakable. Looking at Sarah is looking at Lena with thinner brows and a sharper chin.

“I- I remember you saying that you didn’t really remember what she looked like,” Kara explains quietly. “So I- I figured maybe, there was a chance that someone had met her. And y’know, all new parents take tons of pictures of their kids, right? I mean, Eliza and Jeremiah have a ton from when Alex was little, and I know my parents had a lot, so I just- oof!” Lena’s flung herself into Kara’s chest, startling the blonde with the impact. Kara barely reacts quickly enough to ensure that Lena doesn’t feel like she’s smacked into a concrete wall before she tentatively wraps her arms around her friend. She pulls Lena’s shuddering form onto her own lap for maximum comfort capabilities. “So… it’s okay?”

Lena’s response is somewhere between a laugh and a sob against her chest. “Oh my god, Kara.”

“I’m- is that a yes?” Kara asks, rubbing Lena’s back soothingly.

“Yes, of course it’s a yes! It’s a hell yes,” Lena laughs, still crying. “This is… I don’t even… thank you. This is the best thing I’ve ever been given. Ever. I mean it. I just… wow.” She pulls back, still clutching the photo in her hand. “How did you-“

“Um… let’s say Christmas magic, for now. It’s a really, really long story,” Kara says. “But I’ll tell you one day.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Lena says, smiling now despite the tears lingering in her eyes.

“And there are more. Pictures, I mean. James helped me with them, so did Clark. And some were kinda beat up beyond repair, but a few were okay. That one was just my favorite, y’know?” Kara says, scratching at the back of her neck sheepishly. “The rest are on a flash drive upstairs.”

Lena’s mind is reeling. Eight minutes ago, her mum’s face had been totally indistinct, a pleasant blur in a sea of long dark hair. And now she can see her, can look at her face for the first time in almost 20 years. Can see how similar they look, can see where they differ, can feel that love like a tangible heat in her chest beside the speedy thumping of her heart. And there are more pictures that she can look through.

And it’s all because of Kara.

Because of course it is. Of course it’s Kara.

It’d be impossible for it to be anyone else.

“Well, mine isn’t quite as perfect as this,” Lena laughs after she’s spent who knows how long studying the picture, “but I tried my best to do something special. And, full disclosure, I had Alex’s help with this.”

“You asked someone for help? I’m so proud,” Kara teases, squeezing Lena a final time before she climbs off of her lap.

Lena laughs, a bit giddy after her bout of happy crying. “Full-er disclosure, Alex found me struggling and told me that she was going to help me.”

Kara laughs with her. “Yeah, that sounds more like it.”

Lena shoots her a playful glare and unplugs the Christmas lights on the tree, plunging the room into darkness. “Shit. Hang on, it’ll just be a second, I promise,” she assures Kara, belatedly remembering that she’s mentioned being afraid of the dark.

“I trust you,” Kara tells her quietly.

Lena’s more than mildly pleased by this. “Good. Now let me just- ah! There we go!”

The room is suddenly illuminated by hundreds, possibly thousands of pins of soft yellow light, scattered in seemingly random patterns. They shift as the star map rotates slowly on the lamp, throwing the room into the realm of fairy tales. Kara’s totally silent as she gapes at the room, watching constellations she hasn’t seen in years move slowly across the walls.

Lena licks her lips, feeling the urge to explain the gift to rid herself of nerves. “It’s-“

“Home,” Kara finishes. “This is… these are from home.”

“Alex helped me with them. I don’t recognize… any of them, to be honest,” Lena admits sheepishly. “Astronomy has never really been a hobby of mine. But she gave me a really detailed map and told me to follow it, so I did.”

Kara’s beaming now, whipping around to catch sight of the night sky of her childhood. “I can teach you,” she tells Lena, eyes on the lights. “Almost all of them have stories, and some are dumb, but a lot are really good, and… I can teach you,” she says again.

Lena smiles softly and nods, content to watch Kara’s face light up. She doesn’t push. Doesn’t address the fact that while astronomy hasn’t ever been a hobby of hers, she had looked up some of these constellations and found that they simply… don’t exist, or at least, not anywhere even remotely close to Earth. That this reminding Kara of home so strongly answers several of the remaining questions on the list of Things to Ask Kara about Later.

Needless to say, she’s reasonably certain now that Kara is not from Iceland. And thank god, honestly, because their language is damn near impossible to become even passable at, and Lena would be damned if she didn’t let Kara speak in her first language whenever she could. Hopefully whatever it is Kara actually speaks will be easier to learn.

Kara settles on the floor, still smiling, and tugs on Lena’s arm, urging her down as well. She starts explaining the various constellations and the legends associated with them, using her hands and arms- her whole body, really- to illustrate anything she deems especially important. Which seems to be everything. But Lena doesn’t mind. She’s more than happy to sit under another sky’s stars and listen to Kara relive her childhood, if only for a moment.

 

They stay that way for a long time, but eventually Lena’s getting stiff and sore, and Kara’s voice is getting tired from use, and they both stand up. Lena plugs the Christmas lights in again and Kara turns off her star lamp, cradling it carefully in her arms. Lena picks up the photo gently, as though afraid it’ll shatter and disappear.

“Thank you,” Kara says quietly. “I just… I forgot to say it. But thank you. It’s perfect, and I love it.”

“Ditto,” Lena says, tone teasing. “Now I have lots of pictures to put up in my apartment, thanks to you and Mr. Olsen.”

“Yes, our gift to you was home improvement and holes in your walls,” Kara laughs.

They’re walking shoulder to shoulder when Lena freezes. “Oh, no.”

“What? What’s wrong?” Kara asks, brow furrowed. Following Lena’s gaze, she spots the mistletoe hanging above the door frame. Right above them. “Oh my- dang it, Lucy! I threw that stuff out like, five times! How does she keep getting more?!”

Lena’s still staring at it, lower lip caught between her teeth as she contemplates something.

Kara panics. “We don’t have to do it. I mean, it’s just a stupid superstition, and no one will know anyways, and-“

But Lena’s setting her picture on the arm of the couch, and is now gently pulling the lamp from Kara’s slackening grip and setting in gingerly on the floor. She turns back to Kara and shrugs, seemingly shy. “It’s Christmas. Why not?”

Kara can think of many, many good reasons why not. They buzz around in her brain all day long, after all; every time she’s around Lena it’s just a hum of reasons why this could be a Very Bad Idea. But right now, when she needs them most, they’ve all gone quiet. “Um.”

‘So smooth, Kara. That was great. Write ‘Um’ on my tombstone, because Um is my legacy.’

Lena’s looking up at her expectantly.

Kara blows out a shaky breath. “Look, Lena, there’s something that I should really tell you, because it’s really important, and if I don’t tell you it’s gonna blow up right in my face, and I don’t want that, so… I have to tell you-“

Lena's pretty sure she knows where this is about to go, and that place is somewhere emotional and deep and honest and absolutely necessary, but right now she has other things on her mind and doesn't want to be delayed in getting them. “Kara,” Lena interrupts gently, cupping Kara’s face in her hands, fingernails scratching lightly against over stimulated skin. 

“I- uh, yes?”

“Tell me later,” Lena breathes against her lips, and then- ‘Holy Rao she’s kissing me! SHE’S KISSING ME!!’

It’s not exactly what Kara’s expecting, honestly. Lena tastes a little like toothpaste and there’s a hint of salt on her lips from when she’d cried earlier, and the pressure is just a little off, and maybe if she just tilts a little bit- there.

And then Kara cups the Lena’s cheek with one hand and her hip with the other and starts kissing back, and it’s all downhill from there. What starts so simple and chaste quickly grows hungrier and Kara’s pretty sure she’s gonna burst a blood vessel trying to keep herself under control, because Rao, Lena’s doing something with her tongue that makes the back of Kara’s head go tingly and numb. She pulls Lena flush to her chest, growling low in her throat when it’s not nearly close enough, and bends her legs slightly before scooping Lena up effortlessly, arms locked just under her butt, and- oh, crap, she should’ve asked first, Lena’s gonna think-

Nope. No, Lena’s not upset at all, if the sigh she just breathed into Kara’s mouth that felt like ‘Finally’, or the way she’s snaking her fingers to tangle deeper into Kara’s hair is any sort of indication. Lena’s lips are so soft and full that Kara’s pretty sure she could fall into them and never be able to fight her way out again. Not that she’d want to.

Drowning in Lena Luthor’s kisses would be a heck of a way to go.

Lena’s breaths are coming out a bit shaky, and Kara remembers then that yes, humans have to breathe a lot more often than she does. Pressing a final kiss to Lena’s pouting lips, Kara pulls back and carefully sets her down.

Lena’s sucking in huge gasps of air, chest heaving a bit as she tries to play catch-up on all the oxygen she’d just denied herself. Her eyes are dark and glazed and her lips are swollen and her clothes  are more than a bit rumpled. She has, in Kara’s humble opinion, never looked better. “So,” she pants. “That happened.”

And Kara can’t help but laugh. “Yeah. Yeah, it did.”

“Can it happen again?” Lena asks hesitantly, fiddling with the hem of Kara’s sweater.

“I sure hope so,” Kara mutters, and then her mouth is on Lena’s again and everything around them filters out, out of focus and unimportant.

Especially in light of the little whine Lena just made, and the way it made Kara’s stomach lurch, and oh Rao, but she’s doomed.

 

It’s much, much later when they finally go to bed, flushed and disheveled and shyer than they’ve ever been around each other before, despite the fact that their hands are clasped as they walk up the stairs.

“So, ah, I know we’re sharing a room, and all, but I don’t, um… We probably shouldn’t, like… y’know…”

“Really? I was under the impression that you want to have sex all the time, always. And lots of sex, right now,” Lena whispers.

Kara chokes on air and nearly falls backwards down the stairs. “I didn’t, ah, I mean, that was taken totally out of-“

Lena’s smirking at her, pleased that she has this effect on Kara. “I wasn’t going to suggest that we have sex, Kara.”

Kara sags with relief. “Oh, thank Rao, because I, um… I’d feel really weird about it, being in Eliza’s house and all.”

“Don’t ever do anything you’re uncomfortable with,” Lena tells her firmly. “Especially not with me. And yes, I agree, that’d be weird. Besides, I’d like to take you to dinner before I sleep with you.”

Kara barks out a short, nervous laugh. “Ha! Well, I mean, we, um, technically we did sleep together. Twice.”

Lena huffs at her. “That is not what I meant and you know it.”

“I know, I just say things when I’m nervous,” Kara says.

“Do I make you nervous, Kara?” Lena asks, voice intentionally breathy.

“Oh my- you do that on purpose!” Kara groans, covering her flaming face with her hands.

“Of course I do,” Lena laughs, totally unapologetic as they walk into their darkened room. “About time you noticed.”

“You- you think I didn’t notice?” Kara asks. She closes the door and pins Lena against it in a smooth motion, thrilled by the fact that Lena’s heart stutters just a little before rocketing into overdrive- and oh, that’s why that keeps happening! Kara presses a hand to the door on either side of Lena’s shoulders and looms over her, using her few inches of height to her advantage. “Lena, I can say this with all sincerity- I noticed.”

‘I’m also relieved to note that you probably don’t have a heart condition...’

Lena’s head thumps back against the door and she chuckles lowly. “Alright, I deserved that.”

“You really did,” Kara agrees, pressing a kiss to the tip of her nose- resulting in a heretofore undiscovered new level of cute when Lena scrunches her nose- before backing off. “So, bed?”

“Bed,” Lena nods. “And, it’s totally alright if you don’t want to, or if it’d make you uncomfortable, but would you… Would you want to sleep with me again?”

“Lena, we just talked about-“

“No! No, that’s not what I meant. Just-just sleeping,” Lena hurries to clarify.

Kara’s grinning in the semi-darkness. “Lena Luthor, are you asking me to cuddle with you?”

“Please don’t make me use that word, my reputation would be ruined forever,” Lena jokes. “And yes, I am asking you… that.”

Kara chuckles. “Well yeah, of course I want to cuddle with you. But first, let me just-“ she moves to the nightstand that rests between the two small beds and shoves it to the foot of the beds before pushing the two bed-frames together. “There! No more tiny bed!” she crows, proud of her handiwork.

“What about that gap in the middle?” Lena asks dryly as she sets her photo on the dresser and Kara’s star lamp beside it.

Kara groans good-naturedly, throwing her head back in exasperation. “Lena, just let me have this one, okay? I don’t need all your facts and logic right now.”

Lena rolls her eyes and climbs onto her usual bed, humming in contentment when Kara climbs in after her, pulling Lena’s back flush to her front and throwing her arm across Lena’s hips. She can feel Kara’s breath puffing against the nape of her neck, and the kiss she plants on Lena’s shoulder.

“G’night, Lena. Merry Christmas.”

Lena smiles, eyes already closed. “Merry Christmas, Kara.”

Chapter Text

Winn always wakes up pretty early. Years in foster care will do that to you.

He usually stays in his room for a bit, scrolling through Twitter and Instagram before really starting his day, wanting to be as informed as humanly possible before he even steps foot out of bed.

Which is why Christmas is such an outlier for his usual routine.

Like, he’s not even the type of guy who really celebrates Christmas. And most of the Danvers-clan stuff is on Christmas Eve anyways. Today is when they just sorta veg out and play with their new toys. Well, there’s stockings from ‘Santa’, but that’s pretty much it.

So when he gets up early in the morning, he runs through his Christmas routine instead of his everyday one; wake up Kara before she wakes him, get Kara to wake Alex and Maggie, get them to wake up the Lanes, Clark wakes up Martha, and by then, Eliza is up and brewing coffee.

Perfect, normal strategy he’s been employing for four years now.

So when he bursts into Kara’s room, the last thing he’s really expecting is exactly what he finds.

“Hey, Kara, Merry- OH MY GOD!”

“Winn!” Kara yells, slightly breathless and very angry.

“Shit! I’m- Shit! Sorry! Carry on!” he yelps. When he realizes that he’d been staring, he slaps a hand over his eyes and turns so fast he smacks his head on the door frame, yelping again, and then finally, mercifully, finding the doorway and beating a hasty, albeit clumsy, retreat.

“Oh my god,” he breathes, standing in the hallway, slightly dizzy because holy crap he hit his head hard.

‘What do I do? Do I tell Alex? Do I tell anyone? Am I supposed to keep it secret? What do I do?! This is what I wanted to happen, now what should I do?!’

“Oh my god.”

*************

“Oh my god,” Kara groans, hands over her furiously-blushing face. “I can’t believe- I forgot he always… Oh my god.”

Lena’s laughing herself silly, muffling it with her hands as best as she’s able, though every now and again a little snort will escape.

“This is the fourth-worst thing to ever happen to me.”

“Kara, it’s not that bad.”

“He caught us! There’s not like, a lot worse that could happen,” Kara argues, flopping onto her back.

“He did,” Lena agrees, pulling Kara’s hands away from her face, “but we weren’t exactly doing anything untoward, were we? We were just kissing. I mean, I don’t know about you, but what we were doing just now barely qualifies as making out for me.”

“I was practically on top of you!” Kara groans.

Lena hums lowly. “You were, and I’d like to revisit that as soon as possible, but Kara, it wasn’t like he caught us having-“

“No!” Kara yells, clapping a hand over Lena’s mouth. “Don’t say it! If you say it, it’ll happen, and I do not need to scar him for life!”

Lena looks thoroughly unimpressed with this logic, arching a brow until Kara pulls her hand off of Lena’s mouth. “Saying something out loud doesn’t make it come true.”

“It does for me! It’s bad luck, or something, I dunno, but like, a few years ago, I said that I was really happy that I’d never caught Alex and Maggie having sex-“

Lena’s eyes widen. “Oh, no…”

“-and now, I can’t seem to walk into their apartment without everyone being naked!” Kara yells, flailing her arms about demonstratively. “Even though I always call, and always knock, they just- everywhere, Lena.”

Lena’s laughing helplessly. “Oh, you poor thing. That must be awful. One thing I can say for Lex is that he was at least discrete.”

“Honestly I might never recover,” Kara says tragically.

“Well that’s bad news for me, I have plans for you,” Lena sighs.

“Y-you do?”

“Of course. Big plans,” Lena says solemnly, rolling over so she’s lying on top of Kara, supported by her elbows on either side of Kara’s head and strong hands on her hips.

“Like what?” Kara asks.

“Well we have to go to dinner- we already talked about that. And then apparently you need to teach me how to eat Chinese food in my pajamas. And I have all those movies that need watching…”

“This sounds like an awful lot of work,” Kara muses.

Lena bobbles her head back and forth in consideration. “Yes, maybe so. But I think I can make it worth your while,” she husks, breath ghosting over Kara’s neck.

“How did I not realize you were doing that on purpose?” Kara laughs at herself as Lena grins and leans in to catch her lips in a kiss.

“Because I’m just that damn good.”

“Oh my- shut up,” Kara mutters, pulling her back in and thoroughly eliminating that smug smirk from existence.

 

They troop down the stairs sometime later, clean and fresh and preparing for the fourth degree about… whatever is going on with them. Kara’s buzzing with energy, just waiting for the first bout of interrogation to begin. Lena looks cool and collected, but is very prepared to beat a hasty retreat if things suddenly go south.

Martha, Clark, Lois, Lucy, and Maggie are all dressed nicely, darting around in search of coats and hats, evidently getting ready for Mass.

“Luce, why the hell are you wearing my coat?”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t notice, to be honest.”

“Little sisters, I fucking swear,” Lois grumbles, glaring at Lucy as she shrugs out of the coat Lois has been looking for over the past seven minutes.

“Clark, your tie is crooked,” Martha sighs, reaching up and straightening the offending neckwear. “Just like your Pa, he could never get it right, either.”

He smiles slightly at this.

Winn is found sitting in the kitchen eating cereal and watching the chaos with a zombie-like indifference. Though that may be partly due to the rather spectacular goose-egg forming on his forehead. When his eyes land on them, he turns white and then a brilliant red in a startlingly short span of time and turns his full attention to his Rice Krispies.

“Morning, Winn,” Kara says casually.

He mutters something incomprehensible in response, mouth stuffed full of cereal, tips of his ears burning red.

“Merry Christmas, Winn,” Lena tells him, a slight smirk tugging at her mouth. She grabs a large mug from the cupboard and pours herself some coffee, humming at the first taste.

“Uhm…”

Kara eyes him, and then the way everyone around them seems to be caught up in their own dramas this morning, and no one has made a single comment about or to her and Lena, and concludes that Winn hasn’t told anyone.

He really is the best friend she could ever ask for, honestly. She steps up behind him and wraps him in a hug, chin resting on his shoulder. “Thank you, Winn.”

He nods silently, still avoiding eye-contact, and she lets him go, content in the knowledge that he’ll keep her secret.

For now, anyways.

Lena’s rooting around in the fridge, smiling when she finds leftover sweet potatoes and some of Martha’s rolls from dinner the night before. “Breakfast?”

“Well, I mean, it is-“

“-the most important meal of the day,” Lena and Winn drone, grinning at each other when they realize what they’ve done.

Kara huffs and rolls her eyes, but still sets about fetching some plates. Lena reheats the food and dishes some up, and they sit on either side of Winn, who seems to be able to hold conversations with them, now that he’s starting to recover from their earlier shared mortification.

Everyone finally finds all their stuff, rushing off to church in a blur of hugs and bickering and ‘Merry Christmas!’ Alex comes upstairs a while later, sleep-mussed and grumbly, followed shortly by Eliza, and Hank eventually wanders in as well, and they spend a very pleasant morning talking over coffee and leftovers, no one really in the mood to cook.

“Wanna finish up the computer with me?” Winn asks Lena once all the dishes are washed. “We’re almost finished.”

Lena lights up. “Let me get dressed.”

She hustles up the stairs, and Kara watches her go fondly.

Rao, but she likes this girl.

 

“So, Kara, how’d it go with talking to Clark?” Alex asks.

They’re sprawled out in the living room, each taking up an entire couch to themselves in a rare moment of availability. There’s some sort of Christmas special on, something about elves or gnomes wanting to be elves, but neither of them is paying it much attention.

“Oh, I, uh, I didn’t get the chance yet,” Kara says sheepishly, fiddling with her glasses.

Alex eyes her shrewdly for a minute before shrugging. “Alright. Just make sure you do. Don’t let something like this pass you by, kiddo.”

“I’m not- I don’t know what to say,” Kara admits. “Like, I never really do, but how can I explain this?”

“Tell him he owes you because he told Jimmy about you before you guys ever met?” Alex suggests.

Kara snorts. “Yeah, Al, I’m sure he’d go for the old ‘you started it’ argument. It always worked so well on you and Eliza.”

“Fair. So what’re you gonna do?”

Kara groans and flops back onto the couch dramatically. “I don’t know! You’re the older sister, help me!”

Alex rolls her eyes fondly before rolling to her feet and padding over to Kara’s claimed couch. She lifts Kara’s legs, sits down in their place, and settles them in her lap. “I don’t have all the answers all the time, Kara.”

“But it’s your job!” Kara grumbles.

“It is, but in this case… you need to be honest, with Clark and with Lena. And I bet they’ll both understand where you’re coming from. I mean, you really like her, and it’s not fair to either of you to have that big of a secret between you if you start something- which I know you want to. And it wouldn’t be fair to Clark not to tell him what’s going on. I mean, to be honest, I feel like he’d be a lot more okay with it than you think,” Alex says, patting Kara’s calf comfortingly. “There ya go; big sister advice for the day.”

Kara appears to be thinking this over, and they both turn their attention to the TV just in time to catch the chorus of a very annoying Christmas song about hammers and gears.

“Alright, I’m doing us both a favor and vetoing… whatever this is,” Alex mutters, grabbing the remote off the end table and switching over to Netflix. She scrolls through before settling on one of the many Netflix Original Christmas movies that’d come out recently. It turns out to actually be pretty good, even getting Kara to tear up a little, and best of all, no musical numbers for Alex to suffer through.

************

“So, you and Kara?” Winn asks, up to his elbows in computer guts.

“Looks that way,” Lena agrees, still a little surprised herself. She’s never been one to jump into things, and she’s only known Kara for a few weeks, but it’s like… “It’s like home,” she decides.

“Good. It’s about time you guys stop just making heart-eyes at each other from across the room,” Winn says with a teasing smile. “You know, of course, that you’ll be getting the shovel talk?”

“And who should I expect it from?” Lena asks, a bit nervous.

“Everyone, basically. But I’m pretty sure she’ll get a couple, too.”

She snorts. “Somehow, I doubt my mother or brother care enough about my life to give someone a warning not to hurt me.”

He looks up at her from under furrowed brows. “Dude, I was talking about, like, Maggie and Lois. Maybe even Martha and Eliza. And me, of course.”

“Why would you-“

“Because we like you,” he explains gently, “and we don’t want you to get hurt either.” She’s a bit struck for words, but he continues blithely on. “And like, I’m sure she won’t, she’s too good for that. So are you. But it’s like, tradition, y’know? Gotta put the fear in ‘em. Hey, can you hand me the-”

Lena nods mutely, still speechless, and hands Winn the tiny screwdriver he’s after.

“Thanks. So, what games do you play? There a few right now that are like, super fun multiplayer and we can totally play together. There’s this one with like, robot dinosaurs on an alien planet and…”

Lena relaxes a little, listening to Winn’s mindless chatter and discussing different games she’s played over the years (the insane desktop computer she made for herself isn’t just for work, after all) before they make a plan to play a new game together when they’re back in National City.

“When are you and Kara going back?” Lena asks.

“Her classes start on the 8th, and we still have to move her and make that drive, so…. Probably New Year’s day? I dunno, we’ll have to figure that out.”

Lena’s brows draw together. “Wait, you’re planning to drive all the way to National City from here?”

“I mean, yeah. Like, Kara has her car- even though I’m pretty sure she’s gonna sell it as soon as we get there. I mean, you don’t really need a car when you can-“ he stops suddenly before rushing on- “when you can ride the bus! Public transportation is better for the environment! And who doesn’t love outside, am I right? And we have to get her furniture and stuff moved, and it’s too expensive to fly with it, and-”

Lena snorts. “No. No way. I have private planes for a reason, several of which can definitely accommodate a car, boxes, and furniture. Just fly back with me. Save some gas money.”

“I mean, I don’t know if-“

“It’s better for the environment, since I’m flying back regardless,” she shrugs. “And who doesn’t love outside?”

He hums. “You’ve got me there. I don’t have a problem with that, I’d love to see how the other half lives when they aren’t slumming it with us plebs,” he teases her.

“I’d hardly say I’m slumming it, Winn.”

“You literally ate sweet potatoes and cheerios without milk for breakfast.”

“I could’ve done that at home,” she argues weakly.

“Sure.”

“By the way, you didn’t say anything. About Kara and me, this morning; why?”

He shrugs. “It’s not my place, and it’s not anyone’s business until you want it to be. I mean, I felt bad enough, interrupting… whatever was happening.” He’s gone bright red again and tugs at his ear sheepishly. “And I know Kara was embarrassed as all hell. Why make it worse?”

She pulls him into a careful half-hug. “Thank you, Winn. You’re a very good friend. And a good guy, come to think of it.”

He’s still blushing, but there’s a pleased little smile turning his mouth up at the corners. “Says the woman letting her friends use her private plane to move.”

Lena shrugs. “To be fair, I’ll also be using the plane.”

Winn nods in easy agreement before a wicked thought apparently occurs and he turns a mischievous grin on Lena. “So, if the plane’s a-rockin’, should I not come a-knockin’?” he asks innocently.

She throws her head back and groans playfully. “I take it back, Winn Schott, you’re actually the worst.”

His answering laughter rings through the garage, soon joined (however begrudgingly) by Lena’s.

 

“I think it’s done,” Lena declares, leaning back to examine the tower with a critical eye.

“I think so too. Should we fire it up?” Winn asks, bouncing a bit with excitement.

Lena nods, and they plug the computer in and press the power button, waiting with bated breath. The monitor lights up and runs through its boot-up sequence, and then the home screen is displayed, all without a hitch.

“Woo!” Winn cheers, slapping Lena a high five. “Hell yeah! Go us!”

Lena laughs, watching as he pulls up a photo and ogles the ‘pretty pretty graphics’. “So it didn’t explode.”

“It did not,” he agrees, grinning at her over his shoulder. “We’re a couple of technological wizards, Lena Luthor. We can make computers that don’t catch fire, and half of us get to make out with pretty girls who like us!”

Lena slaps at him halfheartedly as he laughs.

 

A few minutes later, Winn is downloading several games onto his new baby and turns to Lena while he waits. “Right, before I forget, shovel talk; if you hurt her, I’ll be, like, really disappointed in you because I know you’re better than that. And I’ll be forced to like you less than I do now.”

Lena nods. This is somehow much worse than being threatened with bodily harm. “Understood.”

He grins brightly at her. “Great! You wanna download this game too and really slow down Eliza’s internet?”

She laughs and agrees.

********

“Why the hell is my phone so slow?” Alex grouses. “It was fine five minutes ago!”

Kara shrugs. “I dunno, I give up on technology. Wanna order lunch?”

Alex rolls her eyes and presses refresh on her phone again. Nothing happens. “Yeah, fine. The usual Christmas order?”

Kara nods enthusiastically. “Plus some veggies.”

Alex looks at her, shocked and offended. “Who are you?”

“They’re for Lena!” Kara defends.

Alex chuckles as she dials the familiar number. “God, you’ve got it bad, if you’re intentionally ordering vegetables.”

Kara’s glad that Alex’s attention is elsewhere when a dopey smile crosses her face. “I guess I kinda do.”

 

They leave to pick up the food, bantering back and forth, and Kara feels a weight settle in her stomach. She’s keeping a secret. From Alex. She doesn’t keep things from Alex. Oh Rao, what if Alex already knows? She sneaks a glance out the corner of her eye, half-listening as Alex rants about something one of the techs at work did a few weeks ago that only just got resolved. Nah, she doesn’t know. She’d be hassling Kara a lot more if she knew.

Besides, it’s kinda fun to have a secret.

Especially when that secret is Lena. Because Lena is the best kind of secret.

At least until she talks to Kal.

They pay for the obscenely large order and carry it out to the car, waving off the many thanks of the owner of their favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese place.

“So you’re gonna talk to Clark, right?” Alex asks, buckling her belt and watching to ensure Kara does the same.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll talk to Clark,” Kara huffs. “I mean, he already thinks we’re sleeping together.”

“Are you?” Alex asks.

“No! Well, yes, sometimes, but just, like, actual sleeping. Like when we were under the tree.”

Alex looks a bit concerned. “Are you having nightmares again? Need to bunk with me and Maggie for a night?”

“I’m okay, but thank you,” Kara says, smiling. “They haven’t been bad recently.”

“So, the sleeping together…?”

Kara shrugs, knotting her fingers together in her lap. “I, um, sometimes it’s just kinda nice to, y’know?”

Alex softens. “Yeah, I get that.”

“Don’t tell her I said anything, though. She likes to be tough.”

“She is tough,” Alex corrects. “Sometimes tough people have trouble getting through the night, too.”

“Do you? You’re the toughest person I know.”

“Yeah, whenever you and Maggie had night shifts it was miserable. Like, not only is she not there, but I couldn’t even call you for like, backup cuddles,” Alex laughs.

Kara gasps. “My cuddles are backup cuddles? The nerve!”

“They’ll always be in my top five,” Alex assures her facetiously.

Top five?!

Alex laughs all the way home.

 

Alex starts arranging the food in the living room and Kara skips off to the garage to get Lena and Winn for lunch. She pokes her head in and grins.

Apparently at some point, Lena’s big computer that she’d brought from the LuthorCorp building had been moved into the garage, and now she and Winn are battling with… dinosaurs? Winn is clearly, well, winning, though that doesn’t seem to slow the steady stream of trash-talk Lena’s dishing out.

“Hey, guys? Lunch,” she calls.

“Yeah, yeah,” Winn says distractedly.

“Sounds great,” Lena mutters, not taking her eyes off the screen.

Kara rolls her eyes. “Guys, food is more important than games.”

“We know we’re almost done, I just gotta- HA! Suck it, Luthor!”

Lena flops back into her chair. “Rematch?”

“No! Food!” Kara insists. They give her mutinous looks, and she crosses her arms and lifts a brow, accepting their challenge. “I will literally throw you both over my shoulders and carry you like a bag of turnips.”

“Sack of potatoes,” Winn corrects. “And fine.” He hops up, stretching, and moves past her and into the house. Pausing at the door, he watches Kara and Lena watch each other for a moment before huffing and shoving Kara lightly in Lena’s direction. “Oh my god, just go kiss her and get it over with. Ridiculous.” And with that, he closes the door behind him.

Kara scowls at the door as Lena chuckles. “Well, he’s not wrong,” Lena says, eyes twinkling.

“I know, but still!”

Lena rolls her eyes fondly. “Would you come here already?”

Kara huffs but smiles brightly as she hops down the stairs and crosses to Lena in two long strides. She pulls Lena up out of her seat and backs her up until she’s half-sitting on the desk. “Hi.”

“Hi,” Lena smiles.

“Are you guys having fun?”

“We are. Winn’s computer is finished.”

“Oh good! He’s been Skype-ing me about it for months, every time he gets a new part,” Kara says, running a hand down Lena’s arm and tangling their fingers together. “Is it all he dreamed and more?”

“It runs very well,” Lena confirms. “Though I may get him a better cooling system than the fan he has. Kara?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you going to kiss me, or not?”

Kara grins and swoops in, feeling Lena smile against her mouth. She’s trying so, so hard to be careful, and it isn’t helping at all that Lena’s snaked her free hand into the hair at the nape of Kara’s neck and she’s pulling her closer, tugging gently but insistently to get Kara where she wants her. And then Lena’s lips part and Rao, that doesn’t help either. Kara braces herself on her hands atop the desk, leaning forward and giving as good as she gets, judging from that sound that she’s learning she really likes pulling from Lena. She can’t hear or fathom anything but that noise and the thump of Lena’s heart speeding up, and barely registers when the table groans and a crack appears under the pressure she’s subjecting it to. “Whoops.”

Lena’s chasing her breath a bit, flushed and pretty, and looks up at Kara. “You okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good, just… here,” Kara says, picking Lena up and kissing her again. It’s almost odd, in a way, holding her up like this; she’s taller than Kara when she does. Kara kinda likes it, though. It's not often she's shorter than other women. Well, except for Diana, but she's literally an Amazon, so that doesn't count “I think I almost busted that table, pushing on it like that. It’s like, a million years old.”

“Mmm. Well, just so you know, I would actually be upset if my computer was broken,” Lena informs her between kisses. “So make sure not to break the table while it’s sitting there.”

“Noted.”

And then neither of them cares much about the table or the computer for the next several minutes.

*******

Kara smoothes her shirt, rumpled where Lena’s been pressed against it. “So there’s Chinese for lunch.”

“That sounds great, I’m actually rather-“ Lena snickers when she looks at Kara’s face. “Darling, you need to wash your face.”

Kara’s brow furrows. “Why?”

“Because,” Lena enunciates clearly, “when you came out here, I was wearing lipstick.”

“I know, I really like that color, and- oh.”

“Yes, oh.”

“Right. Gotcha. Back in a few.” She can’t resist sneaking another kiss as Lena laughs and pushes her toward the door. “Sorry, I just… It’s really cool that I get to do that, now.”

Lena’s grin widens, dimpling her cheeks. “It’s very cool,” she agrees.

Kara grins again. “Alright, well, now I lingered and made it, like, weird, so I’m gonna just…” she jerks a thumb over her shoulder toward the house and turns and bounds away, tripping over her own feet on the stairs.

Lena covers her mouth with a hand, muffling her laughter (though not very well, if the playful glare Kara shoots her is any indication) as she watches the blonde retreat.

Damn, she likes her. She really, really does.

Chapter Text

The rest of Christmas Day passes much the same; sneaky kisses and stupid made-for-TV movies and an overabundance of Chinese food. Eliza regales Lena and Alex with tales from the labs, Hank reads in the living room, and Winn and Kara have fun with Winn's new computer. No one is really of a mind to budge too much, because it’s honestly just such a pleasant day that they don’t want to disturb it.

Even if Lena Luthor had experienced none of the night previous, this would still be the best Christmas she’s ever had; aside from a company-wide email wishing everyone happy holidays, no work has been addressed, nor does it need to be. Lillian has made minimal effort to contact her (a text here and there, always unanswered- it’s a relief to have ‘protective custody’ as an excuse for never answering the texts or rare calls).

And best of all, Kara.

Lena has absolutely, literally zero idea what she’s done to wind up with someone like Kara Danvers, even for a brief blip of time, but she doesn’t intend to squander it. She pulls her into corners and closets and up the stairs when no one’s looking, intent on memorizing every single thing about her, from the measured breaths she takes to the grumble low in her throat that means she’s about to pull away from their kiss and press her forehead to Lena’s and just babble every thought that’s entered her head in the last few minutes. Which Lena shouldn’t find charming and adorable and interesting, but dammit, she does. And she wants this all the time; this warmth and effusiveness and just general goodness that Kara sends rolling off in waves.

And that thought is more than mildly terrifying, because Lena knows that eventually, everyone leaves in their own way. Her mum and father died, Lex went crazy, Lillian has never been a mother to her, and Jack… he didn’t make her stay. Not that he could have, but he didn’t even try.

And thank god, honestly, because if she had, she’d have never met Kara. And then she wouldn’t be so deeply rooted in this strange, tangled found-family that the Danvers have made for themselves. She’d have missed out on Winn’s stupid puns, and Alex’s acerbic wit, and Maggie and Lucy’s teasing, and James’ kind smile and Lois’ knowing looks. She’d have missed Clark’s increasing warmth and Eliza’s immediate inclusiveness and Martha’s down-home wisdom.

And Kara.

And looking back on her life before… all of this, it’s completely unacceptable to think that she wouldn’t have had this with these people. That she almost missed it, that if she’d been more careful that night three weeks ago, she’d have never needed rescuing.

And honestly, the thought breaks her heart a little.

But then Kara shoots her that goofy, crinkly-eyed grin and the thought floats off somewhere else as she meets it with a wide smile of her own. Because how can she do anything else?

It’s Kara.

Kara, who is currently pinned under her (not unwillingly, Lena notes somewhat smugly) and smiling, clothes disheveled and hair half-out of its braid. “What’re you thinking about that’s got you all happy?”

Lena shrugs. “Some girl.”

Kara grins. “Anyone I know?”

“Maybe. Blonde hair, very strong, loves potstickers… ring any bells?”

“Hmmm…. Can’t say it does. Tell me more.”

And Lena is delighted to be able to flirt more obviously with Kara, because she is good at flirting. “Well, she wears these glasses that I really like, even though they cover up her beautiful blue eyes. And she’s funny, and kind, and adorable, and thoughtful. She’s out of this world, really,” Lena says, teasingly. She has to laugh a little at the way Kara tenses up under her at the words. It’s sort of mean, she knows, but really, she couldn’t resist teasing the blonde, just a little. “And, good god, she has the most enviable body I’ve ever seen. Honestly, every time I see her I just want to peel her out of whatever sweater she’s wearing and- mpph!”

She laughs as Kara surges forward, pressing their lips together and rolling them both over so it’s Lena on her back. The blonde seems fairly intent on mapping every inch of Lena’s mouth with her lips and teeth and tongue, and Lena quickly loses the ability to think of new ways to fluster Kara under this concentrated assault on her senses. “She sounds pretty alright, I guess,” Kara says between kisses.

“She’s the best. She saved my life, you know. And she’s my date to this gala I have to go to tomorrow.”

“So is Winn,” Kara points out. “Should I be worried?”

Lena laughs. “About Winn? Absolutely. Him in a bowtie… it just does something to me.” She sighs dreamily for effect.

“Lena!”

“I’m sorry darling. I just can’t help myself. He’s the one for me.”

Kara’s hovering over her, pouting as Lena laughs. “You’re mean,” she huffs.

Lena cups her face. “Don’t worry, I was only joking. You know you’re my favorite.”

Kara hums thoughtfully, leaning in to kiss her again, slow and thorough. After a few minutes, a thought seems to occur to her. “Lena?”

“Yes?”

“Does the gala tomorrow night have food?"

"Yes, of course it does. Can't let the fat cats go hungry," Lena snorts. "Why?"

"So since there's food, does the gala count as dinner?”

Lena’s grin turns a bit predatory.

Kara doesn’t seem to mind.

*********

“Hey, Clark?”

He looks up from the conversation he and Lucy are in the middle of and grins at her. “What’s up, cousin?”

She’s fiddling with her glasses and twisting her hands together. “Um, can… can I talk to you?”

His brow furrows slightly. “’course you can. We need to take a walk?”

She just nods and heads out the back door. Well now he’s actually worried.

“No, it’s fine, we weren’t talking about anything!” Lucy calls after her sarcastically.

“Lucy, we were talking about whether or not the priest is an alien. I promise he’s not. The end,” Clark tells her.

“But how can you be so sure?” she says. “He could just be sneaky!”

“He has human physiology, I checked. No extra hidden limbs or bones where they shouldn’t be.”

“Creep!”

He rolls his eyes fondly and follows after Kara.

 

They land deep in the woods, and it’s so reminiscent of the location of their recent knock-down, drag-out fight that dread pools in the pit of his stomach. “Kara? What’s going on?”

She’s pacing a few feet away. “So, I wanna talk to you about something, and you can’t freak out, okay?”

He nods slowly. “I’ll do my best.”

“Right. So, the thing is, Kal, that, um, I kinda, sorta, really want to tell Lena about me. Being an alien. But that means I tell her about you, too, and I didn’t wanna do that without talking to you about it, because that’s not fair to you. And I don’t- I’m not, like, asking for permission, because I don’t need your permission, but like, maybe if you were okay with it? That’d be a relief. Because I keep almost telling her, and then I can’t, because it’s your secret too-“

“Kara.”

“-and I mean, it’s not like you ask my permission to tell people. Like James knew before we ever met! And so did Batman, and Lois, and you told Lucy too. The only person I’ve ever told is Winn, and I don’t think that counts, because I didn’t really, like tell him, I just saved him when he fell out of my window so he didn’t die-“

“Kara.”

“-and I really wanna be honest, because, Rao, I really, really like her. A lot. And I know what you’re gonna say; she’s a Luthor, it’s too risky, what if things go bad? And like, I’ve thought about all that, and I don’t think she’d hurt me. She’s not- that’s not who she is. And I want- I wanna be able to have her know me, y’know? Like really know me, because I wanna take her on dates and go to the movies and eat pancakes on Sundays with her, and I can’t do that if I don’t tell her. And she deserves-“

Kara.”

“-being honest with her. And if… if it’s a deal-breaker, then I’ll still wanna be her friend. I’d still want her to know. Because she deserves that-“

“Kara!” Clark laughs, finally getting her attention. “Take a breath, you just crammed about 500 shockingly coherent and impassioned words into like 45 seconds. I wish I could write as quickly as you speak; I’d finish articles in five minutes!”

She takes a deep breath, seeming to lose some of her bravado. “So yeah. I wanna tell Lena. About us, and Krypton, and… just everything.”

He studies her thoughtfully. “You trust her with this? Knowing the consequences?” She opens her mouth to object, but he holds up a hand to stave off another tidal wave of words. “I’m not making any accusations, Kara, I’m just asking.”

She bites her lower lip and thinks for a moment before nodding slowly. “I trust her.”

“And I trust you. You always have faith in me, even when I don’t deserve it. If you want to tell her, then I trust your judgment,” he says with a smile and a shrug.

She’s gaping at him, open-mouthed. “That’s it?”

He shrugs again. “That’s it.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously,” he laughs. “You’ve never let me down, Kara, not once. And your judgment is always solid. And you… you get people in a way I really don’t. So if you want to tell Lena, then you have my not-permission, or blessing, or whatever you wanna call it.”

She’s still staring at him. “I thought you’d be furious.”

He chuckles and rubs at the back of his neck sheepishly. “Well, don’t give me too much credit- a week ago, I would’ve been, but… I’ve been thinking about what you said, about me not trusting you, and needing to let you make your own choices and mistakes- not that I think this is a mistake!-, and you were right. You’re not a kid anymore, and I shouldn’t treat you like one. If you’re sure this is what you want to do, I won’t stop you, or argue, because I trust you. I know you’ll always do the right thing. It’s who you are.”

She launches herself at him, and he catches her in a bruising hug easily, knowing that that’s what she wants when she’s feeling overwhelmed. “Thank you, Kal.”

“Thank you, Kara, for being… well, you.” He gives her a final squeeze before setting her on the ground. He gives her a moment before grinning slyly. “So, you really, really like her, huh?”

“Oh, Rao, no,” she groans, covering her red face with her hands. “Stop it.”

“Hey, a guy can’t ask about the girl his cousin really, really likes?” he teases.

“Shut up, Clark.”

“What? I just wanna know about-“ and then he gets a face full of snow. He blinks owlishly for a moment before his gaze zeroes in on Kara holding another snowball, arm cocked back and ready. “Kara-” another snowball. He grins. “Alright, now it’s war!” he declares, dashing toward her.

She shrieks in delight and sprints away, dodging between the trees as he hurls snowball after snowball at her. “Can’t catch me!” she taunts. “Everybody knows I’m faster than you!”

He lands a particularly large snowball directly on the back of her head. “I don’t have to catch you, I just have to keep up with you!” he calls.

“Keep up with this!” and she’s gone in a blur.

He stops running, whirling around, trying to catch a hint of sound. “Where’d she go, where’d she go” he chants under his breath. Nothing. Nada. “Well, she’s apparently- oh, crap.”

And a deluge of snow drops on him from above, burying him completely. Kara drops from the sky, landing in a heap, laughing so hard she can’t manage to fly any more. “Oh my Rao, your face!”

Clark’s head pops out of the snow, followed quickly by the rest of him. “That has to be cheating. What’d you do, pick up a dump tru- yep, you did. You filled a truck with snow and dropped it on me.” He shakes his head ruefully. “You know I just gave you a nice speech about your good judgment and how I trust you to be wise?”

“I don’t see how the two are related,” she says with a shrug. “I gotta go put that truck back, though.”

“Kara!”

“It was worth it!” she declares, picking up the truck and zipping away, only to reappear seconds later. “See, good as new!”

He gives her a wry look as he shakes the snow out of his clothes. “Sure.”

She’s still smiling when she pulls him into another hug. “Thank you again, Kal.”

He wraps her up again, smiling as he tucks her head under his chin. “Any time, Kara.”

‘Thank you for always giving me another chance to be better.’

***********

“Hey babe,” Maggie says, plopping into Alex’s lap where she’s dozing in their bed.

“Hey. How was mass?” Alex yawns.

“Long. Good homily, though. And lots of Christmas carols,” Maggie tells her, snuggling into her arms. “How was movies and Chinese?”

Alex chuckles, running her fingers through Maggie’s hair. “Good. I missed you, though. Kara ordered a bunch of veggie crap for Lena and made cow-eyes at her the whole time. It was gross.”

Maggie laughs. “God, they’re ridiculous. I kinda love it, though. Very cute.”

Alex’s nose wrinkles. “It’s gross.”

“Littles deserve to be happy too, Danvers.”

“No.”

“Kara hasn’t had someone in-“

“I know, I know. She- I have to be grossed out, Sawyer. She’s my baby sister.”

“And what do you actually think? About Kara and Lena?”

“Wow, you’re using real names, this is serious,” Alex teases her. At Maggie’s pointed look, she huffs. “Fine. I don’t… I like Lena. Which is honestly just fucking shocking. Every time I talk to her she’s- she’s a kid, y’know? I was a mess, at 23- you know that. And she’s just holding everything together, running this massive company, trying to change the world. And she kind of impresses the hell out of me. So I’m alright with it.”

“That’s a very mature answer. I’m so proud you didn’t just say ‘Ick’ and change the subject,” Maggie says, digging her fingers into Alex’s ribs.

Alex squirms away, scowling lightly. “I’m a doctor, Sawyer, I don’t say ick.”

Maggie rolls her eyes. “Sure, we’ll pretend I believe you. But really, I think they’d be good together.”

Alex sighs. “So do I,” she admits softly. “Kara wants to tell Lena. About her, and Clark. About Krypton.”

“And how do you feel about that?”

Alex barks out a short laugh. “In a word? Terrified. But I felt the same when she told you, and when she saved Winn.”

“Hey, I figured it out myself, thank you.”

“Babe, she jumped in front of a bullet for you, and then tried to eat it to hide the evidence,” Alex says, voice tinged with amusement.

“Uh, excuse you, she did eat that bullet, after catching it in her mouth so that it left no trace. Which, while horrifying, is still the single most impressive thing I’ve ever seen.”

Alex laughs. “Yeah, Kara’s a little weird.”

“Yeah. I think we should keep her, though. It’s like having a puppy and a baby without the diapers,” Maggie says drowsily.

Alex hums in agreement, and soon they both drift off for a nap.

*********

Kara’s thrumming with energy when she and Clark get back to the house, intent on finding Lena and telling her everything. Because she can. She can tell Lena everything.

It’s intoxicating, and the thought only makes her slightly queasy.

She ducks up the stairs, following Lena’s steady heartbeat to the cracked door of the room they’re sharing. She peeks in to see something truly shocking; Lena Luthor, napping, in the middle of the day. She’s sprawled across both beds, her small frame somehow taking up most of the space, and snoring lightly. Kara bites her lip and grins fondly, energy leaving her in an instant. She can wait a few more minutes.

Kara toes out of her soaked shoes and socks, tugging the damp sweater over her head before tossing it unceremoniously on the floor near the hamper. She’ll pick it up later.

She crawls onto the bed, careful to avoid Lena’s splayed limbs and long hair as she lays down. But the bed must shift, because Lena comes half awake. “Kara?”

“Back to sleep. I just wanted a nap too,” Kara tells her soothingly, smoothing a hand down Lena’s back.

Lena blinks before lying back down and shuffling a bit to make room for Kara, for which the blonde is very grateful. She’s just settled on her back when Lena sleepily curls up around her, one arm thrown across Kara’s middle, the other wrapped around Kara’s arm, fingers gripping her bicep lazily. “Warm,” she explains, burrowing her nose into Kara’s warm neck.

Kara smiles and presses a kiss to the top of Lena’s head.

Yeah, this can wait.

A few hours, tops.

 

Several hours later, Kara wakes up, stretching languidly. It’s been a long time since she took a nap like this. Lena is a very good nap buddy.

At some point she rolled away from Kara and onto her back, though she’s still holding onto Kara’s arm and their legs are tangled together. Lena has also stolen all the blankets, and it’s not like Kara minds because she doesn’t even really get cold, but it’s the principle of the thing. She tugs on the nearest corner and Lena rolls back on top of her, still asleep and humming in contentment when she feels Kara’s solid warmth under her. Kara chuckles and cards her fingers gently through Lena’s hair fascinated by the feeling of it slipping through.

Eventually, she shifts a bit, waking Lena in the process. “Hey, sorry. Almost time for dinner.”

Lena’s still a little bit asleep. “Nooo…” she whines, nuzzling her nose into Kara’s neck.

“C’mon, sleepy. We can come back up here after dinner.”

Lena sighs regretfully but pulls back and opens her eyes. “You weren’t here when I fell asleep,” she mumbles, rolling onto her back to yawn and stretch.

“I was looking for you, and I saw you napping, and you just looked so cute and comfy… couldn’t resist,” Kara tells her, smiling and dropping a kiss on Lena’s wrinkled forehead as she slips out of bed.

“I’m not cute, Kara.” Lena looks very grumpy at the suggestion that she could be cute.

“You are, though. Very cute.”

“No.”

“Adorable, even.”

“Absolutely not, I-“ Lena stops. “Were you not wearing a shirt the whole time we were asleep?”

Kara looks down at herself, clad only in a sports bra. “No, it got all wet when I was playing in the snow with Clark, so I took it off. Why?”

Lena groans. “Honest to god, Kara, do you have any idea how disappointed I am that the first time I have you half-naked in a bed with me we were both asleep the entire time?”

Kara flushes. “Um-“

“It’s just wrong!” Lena declares, sweeping her hands through the air. “How dare I not appreciate the glory that is Kara Danvers’ body!”

Kara giggles. “You’re a dramatic goofball.”

Lena grins, seemingly pleased by this. “Don’t tell anyone, it’ll ruin my image.”

 “My lips are sealed,” Kara promises.

“I hope not. Come here.”

Kara grins. “Should I put on a shirt?”

“No!”

 

They're only a few minutes late coming down to dinner.

Chapter Text

They’re back in the room they’re sharing, tangled together lazily when Kara goes still. “Oh, um, I did wanna talk to you about something, though; that’s why I was looking for you earlier.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, uh, I’ve kinda been wanting to talk to you about it for a few days. I had to talk to Clark about it first, because like, he’s part of this whole thing too, but I talked to him today and- yeah. So it’s a big thing, but I just- I really like you, and I think you deserve to know.”

Lena’s sitting up now, legs crossed loosely under her. “What’s going on?”

Kara blows out a breath. “This was so much easier with Winn. So, look, I- I’m not from… here.”

“I know, you’ve told me,” Lena says, knowing full well where this is going and fighting desperately to keep herself level.

She’d figured it out last night, of course, but it’s a very different thing to be told something like this. To be trusted with it. And so she resolves to savor the moment.

She’ll talk to Kara about how best to keep a secret later.

“I’m not from Iceland, either,” Kara explains. She takes a deep breath and squares her shoulders before continuing, “I’m actually not from… Earth.”

And there it is.

Lena blinks at her. “Oh.”

“I- yeah. I’m an alien. So is Clark.” Kara’s looking at Lena, trying to gauge her reaction, but she’s always kinda hard to read. “Actually, um, Clark is… Superman.”

This is news.

Lena stares for a moment before she licks her suddenly dry lips. “Oh. Well, that explains a lot.”

“Yeah,” Kara’s rubbing at the back of her neck. “That’s why he was being kind of a jerk, for a while. But, I mean, I told him to grow up and knock it off, that you didn’t deserve that.”

“You did?”

Kara’s brow furrows. “Of course I did. You’re not your brother, and I’m not Kal.”

“Kal?”

Kara huffs. “Right, sorry, Clark. His real name is Kal-El, but he- it’s a long story. He responds to either, at least with me, and- you’re being, like, shockingly calm about this. I mean, I’m freaking out, personally.”

“Why? Did you- you didn’t have to tell me, Kara, if you weren’t ready to,” Lena tells her, laying a hand over Kara’s tightly clasped ones. “I would’ve understood.”

“No! It’s not- I did wanna tell you, I’m just… I’m an alien, Lena. Does that- are you okay with that?”

Lena hums thoughtfully, knowing that this is a very real concern for Kara and thus actually taking the time to think about it. “It’s not something I’ve had experience with, true,” she muses quietly. “And you’re trusting me- me, a Luthor- with something like this, and I just… damn. Are you okay with that?”

“Of course I trust you,” Kara says quickly. “And you deserve for me to be honest with you, because you… you’ve been through enough, Lena Luthor. And you deserve the truth up-front. And, like, I get if this is too weird, to keep on… doing what we’re doing-“

“Sleeping together and making out?” Lena asks blithely.

“-but, even if it is, I still want you around me. Because I like you. I mean, I also like-like you, but more importantly, I just really like you. You’re a really likeable person, I guess. And you’re goofy and dorky and cute and kind and generous and I just… I want to keep seeing where this goes, because I wanna take you to movies and cook you breakfast and take you flying, because it’s my favorite thing in the world. I just… I want to be around you, in whatever capacity I can be.”

Lena’s trying very hard not to tear up. “Kara, you’re still… you. You’re still the best person, or being, or whatever I’ve ever met. You’re still funny and considerate and sweet and lovely.”

“C’mon, Lena, I’m being serious here-“

“So am I,” Lena interrupts. “I… I really like you too. In case at any point that wasn’t very obvious, I do, I really do. So much that it scares me a little.” She chuckles self-consciously. “You make me happy, and you make me feel 23, and you make me feel wanted and safe.”

Kara’s beaming at her, tips of her ears bright red. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. And as for all the rest of the… family drama, if you can deal with it, then so can I.” She punctuates this with a firm kiss to Kara’s smiling lips. “It’s no more Clark’s fault that Lex lost his mind than it is yours- wait, are you a superhero too? Do you have a costume? Can I see it?”

“Rao, you sound like Winn!” Kara laughs. “No, I’m Kryptonian, like Kal, but I’m not a Super, not really. Like, I’ll help him out now and again, but I have to wear this all-black thing when I do so I stay hidden. I hate it, usually, but it does sorta make me look like flying Batman, so… not terrible.”

Lena considers this for a moment. “So, your parents… they didn’t die in a fire?”

The laughter dies immediately. “Oh, uh, yes and no. Um… Krypton- where I’m from, it sorta… exploded. Kal and I, we’re the only ones left.”

Lena blood goes cold. “What?”

“I don’t really like to talk about it,” Kara says quietly. “I watched it happen. Everything I’d ever known was just… gone. An entire planet and- my people and my culture and our songs and food and stories and art and words- gone.”

Lena’s devastated for her. “Oh my god Kara, I’m… I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to-“

“No! No, I- I want to tell you everything. But that just… can we save that story for… not now? Because it makes me really sad,” Kara says, twisting her fingers together and not meeting Lena’s eye.

Lena reaches out and pulls Kara into a tight hug. “Of course. Tell me when you’re ready to.” She runs her hands up and down Kara’s back. “Did Clark see it too?”

“This part’s kinda tricky. So, technically, I’m older than Kal. By about 12 years- almost 13, I guess, actually.”

One of Lena’s brows rises as Kara pulls back, sitting across from her so their knees are touching. “Care to elaborate?”

Kara blows out a breath. “Right, so when Kal was a few of your months old, our parents found out about Krypton’s fate, so they built us both pods so we could escape to Earth, where they knew we’d be safe. I was 12, at the time, and he was a baby. But when the pods launched, the explosion knocked mine into a place outside of time called the Phantom Zone, where I was in some sort of, like, in-between state for 24 years. And when I finally got to Earth, I was still 12, but he was 24. And I’ve been here for 14 years now, so I guess that makes me-“

“50,” Lena breathes.

“Yeah, but, like, again with the time warp thing. I’m not a middle aged person. I’m, essentially, 26. Oh! But I did used to change Superman’s diapers!”

Lena barks out a short laugh. Kara’s ridiculous, truly. “So, what else wasn’t true?”

Kara’s sheepish, but earnest when she says, “The only things I lied about were where I was from. Everything else was true.”

Lena nods thoughtfully. “How many languages do you actually speak?” she asks.

“Oh, right, that. Uh, well, more than six,” Kara laughs. At Lena’s unimpressed look, she sighs. “Fine, I speak 15!”

Lena’s jaw opens a bit in shock, but she closes it just as quickly. “Fifteen languages? Seriously?”

Kara shrugs. “I was always good with languages. My parents travelled between planets a lot, so they always tried to teach me a new one wherever we went. It was really fun, but they’re not really very useful here.”

“How are they not useful? Are there not enough aliens here, or-”

“Well, sorta. Some of them, humans can’t even hear- it’s outside your range. And some you can’t speak, because your vocal cords are kinda… basic.”

Lena’s incredibly curious. “Show me.”

“What?”

“Say something I couldn’t say.”

Kara thinks for a moment before a dual-toned lilt of something that’s not quite a song and not quite a word escapes her lips.

“Fascinating,” Lena breathes.

“That was Starhavenese,” Kara explains with a grin. “Winn can read some of it, but he gets mad that he can’t speak it.”

“So the other night, when you were drunk… what was that? Alex seemed to understand you, but Maggie and I were clueless.”

Kara goes a little quiet. “If Alex understood it, it was probably Kryptonese, honestly. I sorta… slip into it, once in a while. And Alex demanded I teach her when I was like 15 so I couldn’t say mean stuff about her without her knowing what it was.”

Lena chuckles. “That does sound like your sister. And what does, um… zur-e-yow mean? I’m sorry, I know I probably said that wrong, I just-“

And then she’s busy with Kara’s hands lifting Lena easily into her lap and Kara’s tongue in her mouth. After a minute or so, Kara pulls away, smiling. “You said it just right.”

Lena leans back a bit, arms draped comfortably over Kara’s shoulders. “What does it mean? You kept saying it, over and over.”

Kara laughs loudly. “I bet I did.” She pulls Lena closer by tightening the arms looped around her hips.

“But what does it mean?” Lena asks. “It’s been making me crazy. Oh god, is it something inappropriate? If so, you have to tell me so I can-”

Zrhueiao is Kryptonese for ‘beautiful’, which is pretty appropriate, if you ask me,” Kara tells her with a soft smile, nosing at Lena’s neck. “Rrip ehvahn vrrahdh bem, Lena.”

Lena’s gone very still and very pink. “And what did that mean?” she asks in a tight voice.

Kryptonese, when spoken properly and not in a drunken slur, evidently involves some sort of growling lilt which, as it happens, is a bit of a turn on.

Or maybe it’s just all the potential new knowledge. Lena freely admits that she’s always been weird.

Kara grins up at her. “Just an honest observation, ehl.”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means ‘star.’ Do you not like that? I don’t know how you feel about being called things like that, I just… I like that you call me ‘darling’, and I wanted to try one out too. But if you don’t like it, I won’t do that, call you other names- what’s that word, again? I always get it wrong.”

“Nick-names. Or pet-names,” Lena tells her. “And I do like it. Just so you know. And, to return to an earlier point, you got into a fight with Superman for me?”

“I mean, I wouldn’t say a fight… it was just a bad argument. We didn’t like, hit each other or anything,” Kara says bashfully. “Also, pet-names can’t be right. You’re not a pet, why are they called pet-names?”

“But you got into an argument with your cousin, the last of your family, for me.” Lena’s not going to let her redirect this conversation, even if her rambling is very cute.

“I mean, I guess? But-”

Lena presses forward, locking her arms around Kara’s neck and kissing her until they’re both breathless. “Thank you, Kara.”

The blonde blinks dumbly at her for a moment, simply nodding. When she finds her voice again, it’s quiet. “So, we can still do dinner and movies?”

“And everything else, yes,” Lena tells her firmly. “Like I said, you’re still you, Kara.”

She blows out a relieved breath. “Thank Rao. I was afraid the whole alien thing would be a deal-breaker.”

“Not for me, although I am going to ask a lot of questions about everything to do with being an alien and space travel, all the time, so I need you to be prepared for that,” Lena says with a smile. She glances down. “Kara?”

“Yeah?”

“Are we… floating?”

Kara follows her gaze, and indeed they are floating, about a foot off the bed. “Yeah, sorry.” She drops them back onto the bed with a dull thump, holding Lena’s hips steady so she doesn’t topple over.

“You can float without realizing it?”

“Yeah, uhm.. your gravity is less, here. It’s a lot harder to not fly than to fly,” she says.

“And the super-strength?”

Kara grins and holds out a finger. When Lena grips it hesitantly, Kara lifts her easily into the air. “That was hard to figure out, but I’ve mostly got it now.”

“Do I even weigh anything to you?” Lena asks wryly when Kara settles her back on her lap.

“Uh, have you ever picked up just one half of a grape? It’s like that.”

Realization dawns on Lena. “Oh my god, that’s why you’re holding back when we’re-“

“Yeah, I uh, I could hurt you, so I have to be careful. I mean, I have to be careful all the time, always- if I step down too hard I’ll punch a hole in the floor- but I especially have to be careful with you.”

“Thank god, I thought you just… weren’t as interested in me.” Kara snorts derisively at this. “You have to be especially careful with me? More than with other people?”

“Much more,” Kara says wryly.

“Why? I’m no more delicate than Alex or Maggie or Lucy. More than you or Clark, certainly, but-”

“I don’t- I have to be more careful because you’re you, Lena,” Kara says, clearly trying to hint at something.

“Because I’m me?” Lena’s voice is a bit flat.

Kara picks up on it instantly. “No! Not- I don’t mean that like a bad thing, just… I don’t want to do what I want to do with you with other people. They don’t have the same… effect on my control.”

‘Oh. Well, that’s certainly an ego boost.’

“Can- how does sex work, for you?” Lena blurts before she can stop herself. It’s her inner scientist coming out at the worst opportunity. “I mean, sorry! That came out wrong. How do you handle that when you have to be so careful with your self-control?”

Kara hums thoughtfully. “I have to be careful,” she shrugs. “I don’t- I don’t attempt it very often, I’m usually too stressed out trying to not, y’know, crush anything to have much fun with it. I mean, I’ve enjoyed having sex with people- and aliens, actually-“ (‘Yet another Thing to Ask Kara about Later,’ Lena notes), “but I- it’s mostly better when I’m the one… doing things. It’s easier to keep… steady,” she says carefully, clearly a bit embarrassed but trying to answer in spite of that. She suddenly barks out a laugh. “Although, one time I tried to like, have some Kryptonite in the room, y’know, just to slow me down a little? Yeah, no, made me super sick, my poor date actually carried me to the RA. Not exactly ideal,” she says lightly. “Alex and Clark almost killed me when they found out. Lois and Lucy just thought it was hysterical.”

Lena frowns. “Kara-“

“It’s fine!” Kara insists, clearly wanting that to be the end of this conversation. “I still enjoy myself, so it’s fine.”

Lena considers this, biting her lip before nodding her head. It’s not fine, but she’s a genius with nearly 20 years worth of her brother’s research on Kryptonians at her disposal. She’s sure she’ll come up with something.

 

“So,” Lena muses, “you have all the same abilities as Superman, correct?”

She’s lying on top of Kara, arms crossed over Kara’s collar bones and chin resting there. Her legs are sprawled between Kara’s own, and she’s comfortably warm from the heat Kara always radiates.

“I do,” Kara confirms, stroking a hand lazily up and down Lena’s spine. “I’m faster than Kal, but he’s stronger, so it sorta balances out.”

“So the heat vision?”

Kara blinks and suddenly her eyes are glowing red. The hair stands up on the back of Lena’s neck, and in the next breath, they’re back to their brilliant blue.

“Noted,” Lena says, trying to keep her voice even. “Ice breath?”

Kara grins and blows a gentle breeze of cool air across Lena’s throat.

“I’ve seen the super strength- very hot, by the way-,” Lena husks, enjoying the way Kara flushes a bit red, “and the flight. Am I missing anything?”

“I can juggle?” Kara offers with a goofy grin.

Lena scoffs. “Not what I meant, and you know it.”

“Hmmm… Oh! Um, I’m smart.”

“I know that,” Lena says. “You speak fifteen languages.”

“Right, but I mean, I’m smart. Like, I was made for science. Literally made for it, actually,” Kara chuckles.

“Explain?”

“On Krypton, we, ah, we weren’t like, born, exactly. We had these tanks that sort of… grew us. Kal was actually the first naturally born and conceived Kryptonian in centuries.”

Lena’s blinking wordlessly at her, trying to process this information.

“Anyways, we liked to play with our genetics, so we were essentially made for whatever purpose was most important. For me, science, like my dad. My mom was… she was a lot like a judge, in human terms, but we didn’t need two in one House, so… science,” Kara says, doing a vague ‘jazz hands’ gesture. “It was a big deal that Kal didn’t have a purpose when he was born. People said my uncle and aunt were setting him up to fail, that he’d be lost and directionless.” She smiles slightly. “I think he turned out alright, though.”

“You emphasized the word House,” Lena says slowly.

“The House of El,” Kara confirms. “My family.”

“So, Kara-El?” Lena hedges.

“Kara Zor-El,” Kara corrects. “Daughters take their father’s full name until they’re married.”

“Kara Zor-El,” Lena muses quietly. “I rather like that.”

Kara smiles. “I like that, too.”

Lena pushes herself up until she’s straddling Kara. At Kara’s bemused look, she extends her hand, a crooked smile pulling at her mouth. “It’s nice to meet you, Kara Zor-El.”

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Kara says as she shakes Lena’s hand before pulling her into a playful kiss, smiling against her lips. “You, ehl, are a dork.”

“But you like me anyways,” Lena says smugly, giggling as Kara presses quick, feather-light kisses all over her face.

“I really do, Rao help me.”

Lena grins and cups Kara’s face, pulling their lips back together. “Good.”

Chapter Text

“Okay, now, I know I said I was gonna bring it, but guys, I really freakin’ brought it,” Winn says as he lopes down the stairs in his suit, grinning proudly.

He does look rather dapper, in his black 3-piece suit, a crisp white tuxedo shirt, and a bowtie perfectly matched to the satin lapels of the jacket. The jacket is sort of shiny, with an intricate black floral pattern that only really shows when it catches the light, his oxford shoes are shined to perfection, and the slim pants somehow make his legs look longer.

“You definitely brought it, Schott,” Lucy agrees, eyeing him and biting her lip. “Jimmy, we need to break up for- what, Schott, about seven minutes?”

“Hey! Twelve, at least!” Winn argues, grinning as James rolls his eyes at them. He’s well used to their nonsense by now. “Kara! C’mon, we’re gonna be late for being early!”

“Shut up, Winnifred, if she keeps fucking fidgeting I’m gonna ruin her makeup!” Lois hollers down the stairs.

Winn huffs and checks his watch. Maggie had dropped Lena off in Metropolis this morning, because she had a lot of last-minute prep to go through for the gala. The newly-minted Detective had managed to ‘borrow’ an MPD safe house (a real one, this time), and Lena was getting ready there. Kara and Winn were meeting her outside the gala, and then they were going to hang out until they arrived fashionably late together.

But not if Lois keeps taking forever to do Kara’s makeup. 

“Okay, all done! Now if I can fly us-“

“No!” Lois yells. “If you fuck up that masterpiece that is your face I will whoop your Kryptonian ass, Danvers.”

Kara huffs audibly before appearing at the top of the stairs and making her way down. “Honestly, she is being super unreasonable, I’m a great flier.”

Winn smiles at her as she descends the stairs, recognizing that this would be a perfect prom moment, if Lena was standing here instead of him. As it is, he promises himself that he’ll get a picture of both their faces when they see each other all dressed up.

Because if Winn ‘brought it’, Kara has clearly stolen all of his ‘it’ and used it on herself.

She’s wearing this draping, dark blue velvet dress that sweeps the floor and flows like water when she walks. The sleeves are sort of old-fashioned- the whole dress is, really- sort of split and fluttery, and it hugs her athletic figure without being too clingy. The back drapes open to the waist, held closed at the shoulders by a thin gold chain that’s somehow spun like delicate thread, dipping down the open back. Lois has done some sort of magic with makeup and a curling wand, pulling Kara’s hair into some sort of lose, curly half-braid thing that Winn can’t even begin to describe and painting her face in such a way that she literally, actually glows, and her eyes, between the dress, lack of glasses, and the- whatever Lois did, are even bluer than usual, which he genuinely didn’t know was possible.

She stops in front of him and smoothes imaginary wrinkles in the skirt self-consciously. “Do I look okay?”

She looks, in a word-

“Gorgeous,” Winn assures her with a crooked smile. “I’m digging the dress. Is that the one Lena picked out?”

“Yeah, I really liked it, at the store, but I was worried that I wasn’t looking really snazzy, and I want to look nice, and, I mean, I really like this dress. It has pockets, Winn! Some of my jeans don’t even have pockets, let alone this fancy-pants dress! But someone said that, like, beauty is pain, or something, and it’s really comfy and what if it’s not fancy enough? I don’t wanna embarrass Lena, and-“

Winn settles his hands on Kara shoulders and smiles crookedly at her. “Kara? I say this with all seriousness that Lena is literally going to be beating people off of you with a stick. All night. Like, every single person at this party.”

“And me,” Lucy calls, raising her hand. “You look hot, Kara. Jimmy, we have to break up for two hours.”

“Why does she get two hours and I get seven minutes?” Winn protests.

“Prior experience,” Lucy answers with a wink at Kara.

“In the room, Lucy,” Eliza sighs.

“Sorry, Mama Danvers.”

“I mean, I’m also in the room,” James says wryly.

“Oh, you’re fine,” she huffs. “You know I love you.” She stretches to plant a kiss on his cheek, which he receives with a long-suffering smile. Smiling, she turns back to Kara and much more seriously, tells her, “Honestly, Kar, you look beautiful. Luthor’s not gonna be able to take her eyes off you. Or her hands, hopefully.”

Winn bites his lip to keep from laughing. Kara and Lena haven’t mentioned their recent… development to anyone, and honestly, he gets why. Who wants to start seeing someone while you’re both living with your entire extended family? No one.

So they’re keeping quiet, and he gets it.

Although he does think they’re very cute, and they do flirt around him, since he knows anyways, and it’s literally all he can do to not coo over them, because Lena loses all her badass CEO cred when she smiles all dopey at Kara and goes all red when Kara so much as kisses her on the cheek and Kara is somehow smooth and a little bit coordinated and straightens up in a way that reminds him of her cousin when he wears his suit whenever Lena walks into the room.

In short, it’s adorable.

Though they’d both murder him if he said so.

He grabs Kara’s shawl and drapes it over her shoulders before offering her his arm. When she takes it, he leans in and whispers, “You look great, you’re gonna knock her out.” She blushes and he grins. “Shall we?”

She nods, and he escorts her out amid many playful catcalls and Lois yelling at her to not mess up her makeup, dammit.

They’re almost to the door before Kara stops and yells, “Wait! I gotta- I forgot something in the kitchen!” She darts off, returning moments later and patting her bulging dress pocket. “Alright, we’re all good !”

Winn decides, after many years of friendship with Kara, not to question it.

 

They drive to the local airport, where Lena has a helicopter waiting for them (“What’s the point of being obscenely rich if you can’t use it for something frivolous now and then?” Lena’d asked, smirking when she’d told them about the transportation she’d arranged). They are then being driven (in a limo! He really is a big shot tonight!) to the gala- or, actually, really close to the gala, and then Lena’s meeting up with them and they’re all walking in together. Lena had said something about ‘keeping up appearances’.

“What are people gonna think when Lena shows up with two dates?” Kara asks, trying to ignore the sound of the whirring helicopter blades.

“Probably that she’s Lena fucking Luthor, and she does what she wants,” Winn laughs.

“You’re not wrong!” the pilot calls over his shoulder with a grin.

Kara and Winn look at each other, look at the pilot, and then start laughing helplessly.

*********

Michael, the driver Lena’s sent over for them, is a really nice guy, and he’s more than happy to comply with their requests of 80’s pop music and putting down the privacy screen so they can talk to him on their way to… well, wherever they’re going.

They arrive to the nondescript building a mere 45 minutes after leaving Eliza’s, and Winn could get used to that for sure.

Maybe next year he’ll ask Lena for a helicopter for Christmakah… It sure beats traffic.

“Miss Luthor is running a few minutes later than expected, but she’ll be with you shortly,” Michael tells them as they climb out of the car.

“No problem. Thank you, Michael!” Winn says, waving at him.

“Yes, thank you so much! It was really nice to meet you!” Kara enthuses, smiling that infectious smile of hers.

Michael smiles and nods before driving off, leaving them standing outside.

“Too late for pj’s and cocoa?” Kara whispers.

“Way too late,” Winn confirms, pulling her arm through his and giving it a reassuring squeeze. “It’s gonna be fine; you guys are  both gonna look amazing, you’ll flirt, she’ll pull you into a closet where she’ll really mess up Lois’ hard work, she’ll somehow fix it, you’ll dance, you’ll eat, and you’ll hopefully keep it down later so I can get some sleep- Ow, hey!”

Winn!

“A guy can dream that he won’t have to hear two of his best friends having sex when he’s champagne-drunk, okay?”

Kara’s still spluttering when they reach the door. A tall- very, very tall- man with the shoulders of a linebacker opens the door for them. “Kara Danvers and Winn Schott?”

“Uh, yes?”

The man’s face splits into a smile that, while warm, doesn’t seem to make him any less intimidating. “Please, right this way.”

They’re escorted through the eerily silent lobby of a building and into a conference room. Inside, there are a few couches scattered about and the long table is lined with food.

“Cannoli! And there’s ravioli! Oh my Rao, she got all of this from Chiara!” Kara cheers, immediately starting toward the food. “C’mon, Winn! Gio makes the best food.”

Winn laughs and lets her go. “Don’t mess up your face, or Lois will like, appear and murder both of us.”

She nods distractedly, loading a plate with food, eternally grateful that Lena had remembered Kara mentioning how much she had to eat every day.

Winn grabs some food too, moaning when he tastes it. “Where have you been all my life, cannoli?”

“Hiding in Metropolis,” Kara laughs. “It’s Gio’s family recipe. He literally won’t let anyone else make them, even the pastry chef.”

They banter back and forth, enthusing over the food, and before either of them realizes it, Lena sips into the room, only making her presence known when she breathes out a, “Wow.”

Kara and Winn turn, and Winn does manage to get a picture of Lena’s face when she’s gaping at Kara. And then when he looks over at Kara looking at Lena, he can’t help himself and gets one of her, too.

God, they’re cute.

He slips the phone back into his pocket and grins, deciding to finally break the silence. “You clean up nice, Lena.”

And she does, which is no real surprise. Her gown is more modern than Kara’s, being clingier and shimmery and silky, catching the light and shifting between iridescent shades of silver and gray. The neck and back both scoop low, but he quickly moves on, knowing very well that Kara will literally drop him into the harbor if he’s caught looking. Her eyes are made big and smoky and mysterious by the liberal application of makeup, and her lips are stained their signature deep red. There’s a strand of jewels on her neck that he’s certain costs more than he’s ever made in his entire life, and she still hasn’t taken her eyes off of Kara.

Winn rolls his eyes. “Oh, god, just kiss,” he laughs. “Look, I’ll even turn around.” He does, and he hears a beat of silence before the whisper of silk and the telltale brush of velvet across the floor lets him know that they’ve at least sort of followed instructions. He gives them a minute before turning around and smiling at their clasped hands and flushed faces. “You both look beautiful. And so do I, come to think of it. You’re a lucky lady, Miss Luthor, having such good looking dates tonight,” he says with a wink, straightening his tie for effect.

She grins at him, regaining some of her composure. “You are looking rather dapper this evening, Mr. Schott. And you,” she turns to Kara and smiles, “are absolutely stunning.”

Kara grins, clearly relieved. “Thank Rao. And Lena, you’re the best thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been to 12 different planets, so I know what I’m talking about.”

Lena smiles again and ducks her head bashfully.

“So, what happens now?” Winn asks. “I dunno if you’ve picked up on it, but this is sorta our first rodeo.”

“There’s a rodeo?” Kara asks.

“Idiom, Kara,”

She huffs and crosses her arms. “I hate idioms. They make no sense.”

“Well, now we wait for a bit, thus the food,” Lena says, gesturing to it. “I probably won’t get much of a chance to eat while we’re there, so my assistant usually makes me eat something before. I figured dinner with friends was better than snacking alone in an empty room.”

“Thank you for the food, by the way. I love Gio’s stuff,” Kara says, pressing a careful kiss to Lena’s temple.

“I know, and I assumed that the hors d’oeuvres wouldn’t be enough to fill you up,” Lena says, smiling softly at her. “So Chiara it is.”

Kara beams at her. “You’re the best. Oh! I almost forgot!” And she reaches into her dress pocket and produces… a small pumpkin. “You said a pumpkin is required, right? I didn’t wanna get kicked out of your ball,” Kara says, eyes twinkling with humor.

Winn is totally bemused, but Lena’s laughing so hard she has to sit down, holding the small gourd loosely in her palm and examining it. “This is perfect, Cinderella.”

Kara beams at her, sitting gently as she can on Lena’s lap and giving her a careful hug. “I saw it at the store and couldn’t resist.”

“I’ll treasure it always,” Lena smirks.

“You guys are so damn cute,” Winn sighs, smiling at them.

“Shut up, Schott,” Lena retorts, only to stretch up to plant a fond kiss on his cheek.

 

They pass the next half hour snacking and talking, Lena giving them a basic rundown on what to expect and what to avoid (apparently any mention of goat farming with the COO is to be avoided at all cost. Winn doesn’t even ask). They’ll both be sticking pretty close to Lena all night, since they’re her dates, and Winn decides that he’s going to make both of them dance with him every chance he gets.

After all, how often does an opportunity like this come along? Plus, he and Kara are great dancers, and he’s willing to bet that Lena is too.

“I think it’s time for us to go,” he says, checking his watch.

“He’s being very big about punctuality this evening,” Kara whispers to Lena. “I think it’s just to show off the watch Alex got for him.”

Lena chuckles lightly, and Winn and Kara each offer her an arm, flanking her, before strutting out to the limo.

“This is going to be an interesting night,” Lena muses, Kara’s arm looped through her right, Winn’s through her left, tiny pumpkin tucked securely into her clutch bag.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes. The first time I use my plus one at an event like this, and I show up with two dates, one of whom is a female. And an alien.” She grins wolfishly. “Mother will surely have a conniption.”

“Well, let’s not tell her about the alien part,” Kara laughs, squeezing her arm.

Lena pouts. “Well, if you insist.”

“I do.”

“Damn. Alright, let’s get this over with,” Lena sighs. “Because I can think of much better uses of our time than this.” She eyes Kara up and down and bites her lip.

Kara flushes and Winn clears his throat. “So, should I, like, walk there, give you guys a minute, or are we gonna keep our clothes on in the car?”

“Winn!”

Lena just laughs as they pile into the limo. “I guess you’ll have to take your chances, Schott.”

“That is not the answer I was hoping for,” Winn mutters.

 

“There’s going to be a lot of cameras and paparazzi there,” Lena says, her normal warm crooked smile replaced by the smug smirk befitting a 23-year old heiress and CEO. “Just stick close, don’t say anything to them, avoid eye contact, and we’ll get through quickly.”

“I was Kara’s date to an awards ceremony once. Lots of cameras, and they were all for her,” Winn says, ignoring the look Kara’s shooting him. “She was pretty famous for a minu- hey!”

He rubs at his arm, scowling as Kara plays at innocence.

Lena cocks a brow. “That’s not the first time someone’s mentioned you being famous, Kara.”

“Pfft, I’m hardly famous. I was- James took a picture of me, once, that’s all,” she says, shrugging the question away.

“I don’t believe you, but we’ll talk about it later,” Lena tells her firmly.

Kara gulps, but her eyes still flutter closed when Lena kisses her. Winn pointedly looks away.

“Miss Luthor, we’ve arrived,” Michael tells them.

Lena sighs into Kara’s mouth before pulling back, careful Luthor mask they’ve all become unfamiliar with fixed firmly in place. “Thank you, Michael. Are we ready?”

“As we’ll ever be,” Winn smiles, ignoring his own rising anxiety in favor of curbing hers. He climbs out of the car first, followed by Kara, with Lena making her exit last, accepting both their proffered helping hands and tucking their arms through hers once more.

The noise is cacophonous, reporters shouting over one another, the shuttering of dozens of camera lenses, flashing lights in every direction.

“Miss Luthor! Who are you wearing!”

“Do you have a comment on the rumors that you’ve been in hiding?”

“Miss Luthor! Do you have a comment on the recent accusations against Maxwell Lord?”

“Miss Luthor! Who are you with?”

“Officer Danvers! Is this a statement regarding the MPD’s opinion on LuthorCorp after its former CEO killed three dozen people?” Kara opens her mouth to retort, but Lena quickly picks up the pace so they’re out of range.

“Miss Luthor! You’re accompanied tonight by two people, a man and a woman! Are you finally putting rumors surrounding your sexuality to rest?”

“Miss Luthor! Do you have a comment on rumors of a partnership with Wayne Enterprises?”

“Miss Luthor! Is it true you’ve been in rehab?”

“Miss Luthor!”

“Miss Luthor!”

“Miss Luthor!”

Lena’s smile is coy and fixed rigidly in place, and the only indications of her discomfort are the vice grip on Kara and Winn’s arms where they’re locked with hers and the slightly-paler-than-usual pallor of her skin. They finally make it to the entrance, where the press aren’t allowed, and Lena steers them down a side hallway and into a darkened room. Winn flicks on the lights and closes and locks the door behind them.

“So,” he says, stuffing his hands into his pockets, “that was intense. Is that, like, normal, for you?”

Lena sighs, leaning against a table. “It was worse than usual, actually. Probably a result of being out of the public eye for the last several weeks.” She offers them a wry smile, one they’re more familiar with. “I’m sorry, to subject you both to that. I’ve never seen that many of them at a gala before. But I do appreciate you sticking it out. I promise, that will be one of the worse parts of the evening, and it’s already over.”

“Of course, Lena. We do kinda like you, y’know,” Kara teases, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her into a side-hug. “I wasn’t expecting them to ask me a question, though!”

“That was a surprise,” Lena admits, laying her head briefly on Kara’s shoulder and soaking up the comfort she’s offering.

“Well thank god no one asked me anything,” Winn laughs. “Benefit of being the IT guy- no one gives a damn about you.”

Lena sighs again. “I suppose we have to go be people, don’t we?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Kara says. “Well, I mean, you guys have to go be people. I have to go pretend to be a people.” She gives Lena a light squeeze and releases her. “Besides, I have it on good authority that there are snacks in there.”

Lena laughs, a bit of color back in her face. “You literally just ate like 10 minutes ago.”

“What can I say? I’m a growing alien,” Kara grins.

“Ladies, if I may interject, I believe we owe it to the world to let them see just how damn fine we look this evening. Denying them this is cruel and unusual,” Winn says, glad that in the face of Lena’s anxiety his seems to be on the back-burner. He stands as tall as he can and offers Lena his arm and a crooked smile. “Shall we? It’s not every day I walk into a party with two of the best women in the world. I wanna savor it.”

Lena chuckles and loops her arm through his elbow. “Winn Schott, you’re a rather extraordinary person, do you know that?”

He flushes and clears his throat, trying to maintain the bravado he’s relying on to get him through the night. “I do, actually. Tell myself that in the mirror every morning.”

He counts Lena’s loud bark of laughter as a victory.

***********

Their entrance into the ballroom is met with little fanfare, aside from a pretty young woman in a suit running up to Lena and whispering frantically in her ear. Lena rolls her eyes.

“Jess, it’s fine. We’ve tripled security, the FBI and MPD have undercovers here, and everyone was searched on their way in,” Lena reassures her.

“Your mother is here,” Jess says.

Lena smirks. “I know; I was counting on it. By the way, have you met my dates? This is Kara Danvers, formerly of MPD, and this is Winn Schott.”

Jess blinks dumbly, because she may not have met Kara Danvers, per say, she certainly remembers the name of the officer who became the poster child for female emergency responders and police officers during the Metropolis bombings. And she remembers sifting through Lena’s email, messages, and mail for weeks, weeding out photos of this very woman carrying people from the wreckage, and scheduling meetings around any interviews she gave.

And now here she stands, beautiful, smiling and offering her hand. So very different from the image of her covered in ash and dust, uniform sloppy and dirty, a grim set to her kind face as she hauled a woman to safety.

The world is a strange place indeed.

“A pleasure,” Jess says after a half-beat of awkward silence, shaking Kara and Winn’s hands firmly. “Miss Luthor, I-“ she screws up her face in concentration, touching a finger to her ear-piece before huffing in annoyance. “There’s an issue in the kitchens. Something about the crab exploding. We aren’t even offering crab. Ridiculous.” She turns to leave before whirling back with a determined expression. “Did you eat?”

Lena rolls her eyes fondly. “Yes, I ate.”

She turns to her boss’s companions. “Did she actually eat?”

Kara and Winn both nod. “She did. Like, a whole plate of ravioli and antipasto salad,” Kara confirms.

“And cannoli,” Winn adds.

“See?” Lena says. “I ate. Now go fix whatever with the caterer.”

Jess fixes her with a stern look before vanishing into the crowd.

“That was my assistant, Jess,” Lena says drily. “She tends to worry too much.”

“I like her,” Kara decides with a grin.

“Very loyal,” Winn agrees.

“That’s a good way to describe her,” Lena chuckles.

“It also says something about you,” Kara says. “That the people who work for you care about you that much. It’s a reflection on you and how you treat them.”

“It really is. Like, Cat Grant may be an icon, but I’d never ask if she ate before a party because she’s a terrifying human being,” Winn says with a shudder.

Lena flushes, but she looks pleased. “Yes, well… Let’s make a round, shall we?”

 

They do make a round through the room, stopping several times to chat with someone or other. They even see Maggie hovering on the edges of the room. She waves and gestures for them to keep away, since she’s managed to finagle her way into working security tonight. Winn is ecstatic to be able to speak with some of the engineers and the CTO, while Kara seems to gravitate more to the marketing heads. But through the night, without fail, they stick to Lena’s side. After a little over an hour, Winn wheedles them both into a dance, having spotted Lillian Luthor moving toward them and deciding that the best defense when it comes to that particular offense is to run the hell away.

He dances with Lena, who is then stolen for a dance by the Bruce Wayne while he dances with Kara. Then he laughingly pushes Lena and Kara into a slow waltz, which Kara handles with a surprising easy grace and Lena seems totally flustered by. And then, somehow, they all three get caught up in a dance together, trying very hard to remain dignified despite the scandalized looks they’re getting. Like, it’s just a tango. Three people dancing a tango together isn’t even super uncommon, Winn knows.

Prudes.

After the reprieve of dancing, it’s back to the meet and greet portion of the evening, only this time Lillian Luthor seems to sneak up on them before Winn can drag them off somewhere else.

Lena stiffens before she can stop herself. “Hello, Mother.”

“Lena, dear. How lovely to see you,” she says, stepping directly into her daughter’s space. “And I see you’ve brought your bodyguard again this evening, along with- who are you?”

“Winn Schott,” he says, offering as steady a smile as he can and extending his hand. “Engineer at CatCo magazine.”

‘Terrorist. I’m shaking hands with a terrorist who wants two of my closest friends and personal heroes dead.’

“Schott? Is that a Jewish name?”

His grin ticks before he can help it. “It is.”

She releases his hand. “Lena, have you learned nothing of what constitutes an appropriate date?”

“Not from you, no,” Lena says, tone deceptively light as she snags a couple flutes of champagne from a passing waiter and hands one to Winn.

‘Bless you for trying to get me drunk right now, Lena Luthor.’

“Dr. Luthor, a pleasure to see you again,” Kara says, all charm and smiles.

And shockingly, it seems to work. Lillian Luthor actually cracks a smile. “Officer Danvers.”

“Just Kara,” she corrects. “I’m no longer with MPD, remember?”

“Ah, yes, that’s right. How goes the security detail?”

Kara bobbles her head back and forth in consideration of the question. “Fairly well, I think. We’re chasing some leads, although I can’t give you any more information than that. It’s all classified, you understand, I’m sure?”

“Of course. Anything to keep Lena safe,” Lillian says, offering what would likely appear to be a warm smile, if you didn’t see the way it doesn’t meet her eyes. “I’d never want anything to happen to her; she’s all I have left.”

Kara smiles kindly, and Winn wonders how she does it, pretending so well for this person who would dissect her alive without a second thought. The thought turns his stomach a bit. He looks to Lena and offers a smile. “Well, Miss Luthor, I do believe this is our song.”

She catches on instantly, bless her, and grins broadly at him. “Indeed it is. May I have this dance, Mr. Schott?”

“You may,” he says, taking her arm and leading her back to the floor.

“It was lovely seeing you, Lena, however briefly,” he mother says, words teasing but tone too-sharp. “I do hope we’ll see each other again.”

“It is a small party, Mother. I’m sure we’ll bump into each other before it’s over,” Lena says with a smile as Winn pulls them into the crowd. She heaves a sigh of relief when Lillian is out of sight, lost in the crush of bodies. “Thank you, you’re a life-saver.”

“No problem. No offense, but your mom gives me the creeps,” he says, pulling her close and moving them easily through the other couples on the floor.

“Well I’m sure the fact that she’s an anti-Semitic bitch didn’t help matters,” Lena mutters. “I’m very sorry about that, by the way. I thought she’d at least-“

“Lena, I just spent over a week celebrating Hanukkah with you,” he chuckles. “And you were like, way better at it than me, because you actually gave enough of a crap to learn and be respectful. You don’t have to apologize for her. Okay?”

She nods, and he leads them through a rather complicated turn. “You’re a great dancer, by the way. Where did you learn?”

“My mom and dad. They did, like, amateur ballroom competitions when I was little, and of course they taught me. I picked it up again in college- great way to meet pretty girls,” he grins.

“Did that work?” she laughs.

“More than you’d think, but less than I’d hoped,” he says with a laugh.

“Naturally.”

Without warning, the music cuts out, and a familiar, chilling voice echoes through the sudden silence of the room. “We are Cadmus, and we are here to teach you a valuable lesson.”

“Oh, shit.”

Somewhere in the building, he can hear a dull thud and… a roar.

“There are those among you who believe that the threat of aliens is exaggerated, that they are merely refugees, flung far from their homes and deserving of compassion, deserving of our help and resources. There are those among you who seek to aid the alien threat, to heal them, educate them, invite them into our world.”

“Lena…”

Another thud.

“These are the endeavors of foolish idealists. And now, after failing to heed our warnings, you will learn the price of your ignorance. This is the truth of aliens on Earth.”

 Another thud. Louder now.

“Lena Luthor; you have failed humanity. You refuse to learn. You are a threat and a traitor to your kind, and must be eliminated.”

Winn grips Lena’s hand tight. “We have to get out of here,” he says urgently. “Now.”

“We are Cadmus.”

And then, something massive and snarling and purple drops through the ceiling, amid screams and pandemonium, and starts whirling around, clearly searching for someone.

“Oh, shit!”

Chapter Text

“Lena, we have to move!” Winn yells, but she seems rooted to the spot. He gives up and wraps his arms around her waist, dragging her after him as best he can and now would be a great time to suddenly develop superpowers, but nope, none, nada, just him with his IT-guy noodle arms and dammit, why does he never go to the gym when James invites him?!

The purple alien- because there’s no doubt in his mind that that’s what it is- whirls again, and finally seems to find its target in the screaming crowd- Lena. It roars again, shaking the room, and starts toward them.

“Lena, I really, really need some ideas right now, or we’re all gonna fucking die!” he yells, and that seems to snap her out of it.

She blinks rapidly, taking in the scene before her. “Winn, I need you to get to the room we were in when we first got here. Remember?”

“Why?”

“We left our coats in there.”

“I think being chilly is the least of our problems right now, Lena!” he yells, dragging her into a clumsy roll as a giant purple fist impacts the ground where they’d just been standing.

“No! Winn, there’s a gun in my coat! Like the one I gave to Alex!” She tugs hard at the seam of her dress until it rips, then tears it again around the skirt, trying to free up her legs a bit.

“You brought an arc-gun to your own party?!”

“For good reason, now go get it!” she yells, shoving him toward the doors.

“What about you?!”

“If it sees me go through those doors, it’ll tear this entire building apart trying to get to me! The building would collapse on all these people! Just go!”

He hates this, but he takes off at a dead run, hoping and praying that Kara’s somewhere nearby.

********

Kara is nearby.

She puts on an extra burst of speed as she explodes through the glass windows lining the room, clad in an all-black ensemble with a full cowl covering the lower half of her face and her hair. For once, she’s glad for Kal’s paranoia forcing him to stash their super-suits all over the city. She turns over in the air and lands a flying kick with both feet into the monster’s ribs, sending it soaring through the air and crashing at the other (empty, thank Rao) end of the room. “Lena!”

The woman in question skids to a stop in front of her, bending at the waist and panting. “Holy shit. Thank god, these heels and this dress were not designed with this in mind.”

“You’ve gotta go, Lena! I can handle this, and Kal is on his way!”

And indeed he is, since he arrives just in time to sucker-punch the alien and send it flying again. He flashes them a grin, and Lena wonders how she never realized that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. “Hello, ladies.”

The alien roars and charges, and Kara and Superman take up battle stances.

“Now Kara, what’s rule number one of fighting in cities?” Kal asks casually, rolling his neck and shaking out his arms.

“Take the fight away from the civilians,” she recites.

“Great! Now, all we have to do is-“

“Help! Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, HELP!”

Winn bursts through the doors with three more of the purple behemoths on his tail, clutching what appears to be a coat in white-knuckled fists.

“Winn!” Kara darts to his side, landing the closest monster a vicious blow to the chest that sends it careening into its comrades. She grabs him and flies him over to Lena and Kal at impossible speed.

“Okay, slightly more complicated now,” Superman mutters, eyes darting about. “We need to get them out of Metropolis, there’s too many people around.”

“They’re after me, they’ll follow me!” Lena says loudly, snatching the coat from Winn and rifling through the pockets. “Take me outside the city, and they’ll follow!”

“Lena, we’re not going to put you in even more dange- where did you get a gun?!” Kara yelps when the sleek silver pistol appears in Lena’s hand.

Lena smiles grimly. “I had a feeling I might need it, now are you going to listen to me or not?” At Kara’s hesitation, she asks again. “Do you trust me?”

Kara sets her jaw, and without another word, she and Lena are airborne, zipping far from the gala.

“This is not how I imagined taking you flying for the first time!” Kara yells over the rush of the wind whipping by them.

“No? Because it’s pretty much spot-on for me!” Lena yells back, clutching Kara so tightly that if she were less than the alien she is she’d be hurting her. “Have I ever mentioned how much I hate flying?”

“No! Sorry, hang on tight and don’t look, you’re really gonna hate this!”

There’s a clap that pops Lena’s eardrums and a sickening lurch and everything goes black.

Kara looks down at the limp form of Lena in her arms. “Shoot, she passed out.” There’s a loud series of roars behind her, and she turns just enough to see the aliens hurtling after her, leaping high and far through the air and actually managing to keep up with her pretty well. “Well, heck.”

She puts on another burst of speed, hoping and praying that somehow, Kal is managing to keep up for once, leading the monsters deep into the mountains of Virginia. She touches down when she can’t hear a human heartbeat for 20 miles, settling Lena’s unconscious body leaned up against a cliff face, positioning herself between Lena and the aliens.

They land as one, shaking the ground and roaring their displeasure at having their prey snatched away.

“You want her? Come get her!” Kara taunts, flexing her muscles.

The first charges, swinging a massive fist at her head that she dodges easily. She grabs its elbow and throws the thing bodily through the air, sending it flipping end over end into a copse of trees a few miles away.

Kara briefly realizes that this is the first time she’s been in a fight without Kal for back up, but then the other three aliens rush her and it’s all she can do to defend herself, blocking their heavy blows. One particularly heavy fist hits her square in the ribs and sends her flying, but she’s back on her feet and in front of them faster than they can blink. Her only saving grace in this fight is that they appear to be especially stupid.

She lashes out with a wicked left hook at the biggest one, and manages somehow to draw blood, the deep-blue liquid spilling out of what must be its nose.

“Ha! Bet you wish you could hit like a girl!” she crows, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “C’mon, bring it!”

“Kara!”

Kal lands next to her, tense and ready for a fight.

“What took you so long, did you stop for burgers?” she yells, ducking and shooting at a creature with her heat vision, which seems to have no effect whatsoever.

“Sorry, I was calling for backup, these things are bad news,” he calls, flying high into the air and diving at top speed, plowing one into the ground with his fists. It doesn’t get back up.

“You called in the Justice League for this?” she asks incredulously.

“Not exactly,” he mutters. He glances behind them and his eyes widen. “What happened to Lena?!”

“Nothing! I broke the sound barrier and she kinda… passed out. But she’s fine! Look, she’s already moving a little!”

“Kara, duck!”

She does, but too late, and takes the full brunt of a wild haymaker to the side of her face. She’s thrown through the air before she impacts into the side of a mountain. She stands up again, a bit groggy.

“Kara! Little help, here please!” Kal yells, fighting off two of the creatures as best he can, trapped between them and the cliff.

She shakes her head sharply, trying to get rid of the black spots in her vision. The motion only seems to make them worse. She stumbles a bit, fingers digging desperately into the rock as she tries and fails to maintain her footing.

“Kara!”

Kara pauses. She knows that voice. That voice shouldn’t be here.

“Alex?!”

She must be hallucinating, because no way is her sister here, leaning over her and running a weird device over her face.

Except of course, that she is.

“Alex, wha- look out!

She pulls Alex to her chest and barrel-rolls away, just missing being crushed as one of those things lands there with both feet.

“Alex, what are you doing here? It’s not safe! Kal, what the hell?! Civilians aren’t backup, especially if they’re my sister- where did YOU get a gun?! Why do all of you have guns?!

She’s holding the gun Lena gave her for Christmas. “Kara, it’s a long story, and I swear I’ll tell you, but first we have to not die, okay? Now, can you walk?”

Kara nods dumbly, hauling herself unsteadily to her feet.

“Good. These things are wearing some sort of control device, that’s why they’re locked onto Lena. We have to find it and remove it. Can you do that?” Alex asks, sticking something to the skin behind her ear. “That’s a comm, so we can talk to you, alright? Now go get ‘em.”

Kara nods again, a determined set to her shoulders, and flies off, blinking away the spots in her vision. She doesn’t have time for a concussion right now; she has to go save the day.

And the girl.

Is this what Kal feels like all the time?

Because she has to admit… it’s not bad.

“Kara, come in.”

She nearly falls out of the sky. “Lucy?”

“You bet your perfect ass.” (‘Yup. Definitely Lucy.’) “Now look, the one you threw? It’s headed your way, and it is pissed. See if you can find the device and deactivate it. Believe it or not, these guys are a peaceful race of pacifists. Turn it off, they stop attacking. Superman and Alex have got Lena.”

“On it,” she says, flipping in the air and shooting off in the direction where she’d sent the first monster.

She meets it about halfway and dive-bombs it, using her x-ray vision to try to find the- whatever she’s looking for. She sees a blip of… something buried in its skull, something hard and inorganic.

Something that emits a low, steady frequency.

“Sorry, bud, this is definitely gonna hurt!” she says, and speeds up, landing a brutal blow to the spot where the device is.

And suddenly, miraculously, it stops attacking, crumpling to the ground like a puppet whose strings have been cut. She makes sure it’s still alive- which it is, thank Rao- before darting back toward her family. “One down; the device is in the back of its skull. One solid hit knocked it out. I’m on my way.”

“Good work, Kara.”

She grins and picks up speed.

This is kinda fun.

********

Lena comes-to all at once, gasping loudly and shooting upright. “Kara!”

“She’s fine, I just talked to her. Get down!” Alex bites out, tugging Lena to the ground beside her.

“Agent Danvers, lovely to meet you,” Lena smirks.

“Yeah, yeah, make fun of me after I’m done saving your ass.”

Lena nods and retrieves her gun from her bra. “What’s happening?”

“Superman and Kara are fighting the last two, but they’re having some trouble.”

“Well why aren’t we helping?”

“Because I was guarding you, Sleeping Beauty,” Alex snarks. She looks at the gun in Lena’s hand. “You any good with that thing, Luthor?”

Lena’s grin is shark-like. “Why don’t you find out?”

 

They run into the clearing, where Superman and Kara are facing off with the final two creatures. One of them manages to snag a cape in its claws and sends Clark flipping through the air.

“Ready?” Alex whispers.

“As I’ll ever be,” Lena answers.

They step out into the open space and Alex takes the first shot. It lands a glancing blow to the shoulder of the one fighting Clark, but has the effect of knocking Alex on her ass.

“Did you even test that before you brought it into the field, Agent?” Lena asks, helping haul Alex back to her feet. “You need to dial down the setting. See? There.”

“Okay, I’ve had this thing for like, two days, and it was the only gun I had in the house when Clark showed up and dragged me across the state. Cut me a little slack,” Alex huffs. “Let’s see you do better.”

Lena cocks a brow, takes up a textbook-perfect firing stance, and hits the back of one of their heads, causing it to crumple to the ground. She didn’t even wobble in her heels, and she turns to smirk at Alex.

“Okay, now you’re just showing off,” Alex huffs, standing next to Lena as they both open fire.

“If footage of a Luthor shooting a gun at aliens ever went public-“

“It won’t! And these are non-lethal rounds, aren’t they?”

Lena nods. “More of a high-tech rubber bullet than anything,” she agrees.

“Well then I don’t see what the issue i- shit.”

They both dive away as Kara lands between them, plowing up a deep tract of dirt and roots in her wake. She stands in the crater she’s just created, shaking herself off and spitting out a mouthful of soil. She blinks for a moment before she seems to realize they’re there. “Oh, hey,” she says, tugging the mask back up over her mouth from where it’d slipped down around her neck. “Thanks for shooting that thing, by the way.” And then she’s up, up, and away, blurring through the dark faster than they can see.

“Whose idea was that suit?” Lena asks, watching as Kara drops like a stone out of the air and lands the last alien a wicked blow that sends it flying beyond their range. "I like the design."

“Clark says it was his, but my money is on Batman,” Alex snorts.

Lena nods thoughtfully. “Yeah, I could see that.” She whirls suddenly on Alex. “How many people were hurt?”

Alex holds up her hands placatingly. “Not as many as could have been, had you guys stayed in the city any longer.”

“Alex-“

“About a dozen were injured, but nothing life-threatening, and no one was killed. Fortunately, their programmed obsession with, y’know, murdering you paid off for us.”

Lena heaves a sigh of relief. “Thank god.”

“And we caught your mother.”

All the blood drains from Lena’s face. “What?” she croaks.

“It’s- she had the remote that started this whole thing, that’s how we knew about the control devices. We’re taking her to a black site, but we’re not really hopeful that she’ll talk.”

“How… so it’s true, she was trying to kill me,” Lena says, voice oddly flat.

“Yeah.”

Lena nods thoughtfully, and they watch in silence as Kara and Clark take down the biggest of the monsters together.

And if Alex slips her hand into Lena’s to give it a steady, grounding squeeze, well, neither of them mentions it.

**********

The DEO arrives in force shortly thereafter, and Alex is kept busy with directing the teams and organizing the removal of the unconscious aliens to a secondary site to make sure that they’re not suffering any lasting effects from being put under Lillian Luthor’s control. Alex sighs, knowing that she’ll have to be the one to oversee that too, being the DEO’s most senior medical officer.

She’s in such a whirl of logistics and planning and barking orders that she doesn’t realize Kara’s behind her until she turns and bounces off of her chest. Kara’s strong hands grip her arms, keeping her steady.

“Kara, what-“

“I’m mad at you,” Kara informs her, voice muffled behind the mask and the lower half of her face hidden, but the telltale crinkle between her brows exhibiting her displeasure just fine for those who know her. “Like, wow, I am so, so mad at you.”

Alex swallows. “Look, I know you’re upset-“

“Upset? Upset?! No, I was upset when you snapped my N’Sync CD over your knee. I was upset when you ate the last potsticker. Right now, I am freaking furious.”

Alex nods. “I get that.”

“So you and Lucy are what, secret agents?”

“Actually, I’m the head of this organization,” Lucy says, stepping up behind them.

Kara whirls on her. “I’m mad at you, too!” she says, poking her oldest friend in the chest.

“I know, and I don’t blame you. But look, we did this to keep people off you and your cousin’s trail. For me, it was either me or my dad taking over this sector of the military tasked with hunting down dangerous aliens. Who would you rather have doing that, Kara? Me, or the General?”

Kara huffs and crosses her arms over her chest. When she realizes Lucy is actually waiting for an answer, she scowls. “You, obviously.”

“And as for Alex… from what I was told, she didn’t have much choice in the matter. It was either join the DEO, or go to jail.”

“You were almost sent to jail?!” Kara yells. “Alex, what-“

“It was a long time ago, before Mom got sick,” Alex explains. “Before you moved to National City, even. I was- I was screwing up, and I was lost, and I made a lot of mistakes. And I got the chance to help, to make a real difference, and I… I took it.”

“You lied to me. You lied for years, both of you!” Kara shouts. “I can’t believe you! Never letting me do anything not-human, never wanting me to go with Clark when he needed help, and yet here you fragile humans are, fighting aliens on the regular!”

“To be fair, I never said you shouldn’t fight crime in tights,” Lucy says.

Kara considers this. “Fine. I’m less mad at you. But still very mad.”

“Copy that. And I’ll talk to you about it later, but right now, I have to get these big guys transported safely.” She turns sharply on her heel and marches out of the tent, barking orders at passing agents as she goes.

“Kara, I- I’m sorry. Truly. I was just- I was trying to keep you-“

“Safe. Yeah, I know, same as Kal,” Kara mutters darkly. She swipes a hand over her face, tugging down the mask as she does. “I just- why lie about it? I would’ve- I would’ve understood, Alex. But you lied. For like, 10 years!”

“I know, and I’m sorry. But I couldn’t tell you, Kara, I wasn’t allowed.”

“Since when do you follow rules?”

Alex opens her mouth before snapping it closed again. “Alright, fair point.”

Kara huffs and paces in front of her. “Why did you lie?”

“I was trying to protect you. And Mom. And I- I needed something, Kara. After Dad died, I just…” she swallows harshly. “I wasn’t okay.”

“Neither were we! And you just- you left! And then you came back, begging me to move to National City- was that all part of your job? Do you even care about-”

“Alright, enough!” Alex snaps. Kara stops pacing to glare at her. “I get that you’re pissed, you have every right to be, but don’t you dare say I don’t care about you, Kara Zor-El. Everything in my life, everything I’ve ever done, is because I care about you. Including this. So you can be as mad as you want, because I know we’ll get over it and move on, but you know deep down that this was only ever to protect you so you can live the life you choose.”

Kara’s still glaring, but she deflates, just a little. “Yeah.” She reaches out and pulls Alex into as tight a hug as she can, feeling her sister’s strong arms lock around her. “I’m still mad, because you showing up in the middle of a fight is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. And you still lied.”

“I did,” Alex agrees. She hesitates for a moment before asking, “How long do you think you’ll be mad at me?”

Kara snorts derisively. “Probably like a day and a half.” She can never stay mad at Alex, and they bot know it.

Alex tries to fight off the relieved smile spreading across her face, squeezing Kara as tight as she can. “Good.”

 

“So who else knows?”

Alex hums thoughtfully, bouncing around in her seat a bit as the armored vehicle they’re riding in hits a bump. “Maggie, Lois, Hank- he works with us, actually-, Kal, Lucy… oh, and Lena-“

What?!

“Don’t be mad at her, she figured it out on her own and I begged her not to tell you. Not to mention, she told me to tell you, more than once,” Alex says. She snorts, “She was probably right, she’s annoying like that.”

Kara cracks a smile at this, eyes sliding to where Lena’s talking animatedly with Lucy about her body armor. “She is, isn’t she?”

Alex rolls her eyes. “Ugh, gross. Keep your puppy-eyes to yourself, Kara.”

Kara shoves at her lightly, still smiling softly. “I told her,” she says quietly. “About me, and Kal, last night. I told her.”

“How’d it go?” Alex asks neutrally.

Kara’s gaze drops to her lap as she plays with her fingers, smiling. “She shook my hand, called me Kara Zor-El, said it was nice to meet me, and then asked me to get dinner with her.”

“What a dork,” Alex whispers, elbowing Kara in the ribs with a grin.

“Yeah,” Kara replies, catching Lena’s eye across the aisle. “Yeah, she is.”

“But you like her anyways?” Alex asks gently as Lena shoots Kara a brilliant smile.

“Nah,” Kara scoffs, returning it with a goofy grin of her own. “I like her because.”

********

It takes hours to get back to Midvale, not helped at all by the fact that they have to stop at the DEO for Kara, Winn, and Lena to fill out a massive mountain of paperwork.

And that isn’t helped at all by the fact that Lena refuses to sign anything without her lawyer looking it over, and won’t allow her friends to, either.

“Do you think me a moron?” she scoffs, arching a brow and crossing her arms over her chest. “This contract is six inches thick, and full of so much legalese that I’d never get through it before New Year’s. Lawyer, or I don’t sign. And neither are either of you,” she says to Kara and Winn, who freeze with their pens poised over their own stacks of paper.

“Lena, it’s three am, how are you gonna get your lawyer here? Just sign it, I promise it’s fine,” Alex sighs.

“I pay very, very well,” Lena says archly, holding out her hand expectantly. “Phone, please.”

Alex rolls her eyes and stomps off to find the phone. Or to hit something, none of them are entirely sure.

“Lena, I’m sure the contract is fi-“

“Well, I’m not. This isn’t my first run-in with the government, or with the DEO, for that matter. Did you know, Kara, that four years ago, LuthorCorp fulfilled a contract to them to produce Kryptonite weapons?”

Kara freezes. “I, uh, no.”

Lena nods sharply. “I thought not. You can’t trust them, Kara. So let my lawyers read the contract before you sign it, alright? Trust me.”

She bites her lip and nods thoughtfully.

Winn clears his throat. “So, unless I’m mistaken, I missed a huge, super cool alien fight, didn’t I?”

“You did,” Kara confirms, throwing her arm around his shoulders. “Sorry, Winn.”

He groans and throws his head back. “I’m so disappointed right now, you guys don’t even understand.”

“I mean, you got your fair share of action tonight, too, Big Schott.”

“Maggie!” Kara jumps to her feet and pulls the tiny detective into a hug. “I was so worried!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. But your boy there saved the day,” Maggie says, grinning. She turns to Lena, dark eyes twinkling with mirth. “Did he tell you that he tackled your mom?”

Lena and Kara turn to gape at Winn, who flushes a brilliant red. “You did what?” Kara asks incredulously.

“I, uh, well, I mean-“

“Oh yeah! He saw her trying to get lost in the crowd once we evacuated the building, and the little shit literally ran up and fucking tackled her to the ground. It was amazing,” Maggie laughs. “And yes, the officers got it on body cam. I already have a copy of the tape. And then, he starts yelling at her in- what was that, Schott? Hebrew?- and fucking wrestles her fancy remote away. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life. He was like a tiny, vengeful, Jewish elf.”

Lena lets out a startled bark of laughter, quickly clapping a hand over her mouth. “Oh my god.”

“Oh my god,” Kara murmurs, looking at Winn with new eyes.

“Right? Who knew he was such a bad-ass? And all that was after he outran those things to get you your gun- by the way, Little Luthor, I really want one of those.” Maggie’s looking at Winn, smiling like the proud big sister she is. She pops Winn with an affectionate punch to the arm. “Proud of you, Big Schott.”

He flushes even darker, but looks pleased. “Just don’t ever ask me to do that again,” he says. He turns to Lena, eyes wide. “I thought your mom was scary before.”

She’s shaking with laughter, tears leaking from her eyes. “This is the best murder attempt of all time.” She laughs even harder. “I’m sorry, it’s just- she’s about six inches taller than you, Winn. I’m just picturing her face.”

He cracks a grin at that, chuckling quietly. “Okay, that part was pretty great,” he admits.

Soon, the room devolves into loud, semi-hysterical laughter, the four of them clinging to each other in their attempts to stay upright.

 

Alex is very confused when she re-enters the room, but just rolls her eyes fondly.

Dorks, all of them.

But her dorks.

********

Eventually, Lena’s lawyers do arrive and after several hours of a team of them reading over every single word on every single scrap of paper and negotiating that large portions of the contract be altered or redacted entirely (Lena had given Winn, Kara and Alex an annoyingly pointed look at this), they finally sign and are allowed to go back to Eliza’s.

“C’mon, I’ll drive,” Alex says, twirling the key-ring around her finger.

“Or, y’know, we can fly everyone home,” Kara offers, gesturing between herself and Kal, who’d arrived with Lucy once the aliens were secured. They’re both dressed in DEO black pants and shirts, super suits tucked away out of sight.

Or, if we want Winn and I to not vomit everywhere, we can take the helicopter,” Lena snarks.

“I’m seconding the helicopter thing,” Winn says, raising his hand.

“Yeah, me too,” Maggie says. At Alex’s betrayed look, she shrugs. “Sorry, babe, it’s a two-hour drive back to Eliza’s and I wanna fuckin’ sleep.”

Lucy quickly agrees, and they’re driven to the helipad where Lena’s chopper is still waiting, fueled and ready to bring them all home.

“This is a very fancy helicopter,” Maggie says with a low whistle.

“Nicest one I’ve been in by a long shot,” Lucy agrees. “Most of them are designed more for, like, troop transport than sipping champagne.”

“Oh! That reminds me!” Maggie rustles around in her duty bag before producing three bottles of very expensive champagne from the gala. “Hope you don’t mind, Little Luthor, but it seemed like a shame to let them go to waste.”

Lena laughs. “By all means, Detective.”

Maggie pops the corks on all three bottles before boarding the chopper, and they spend the flight passing them back and forth, yelling over each other and laughing and recounting the more exciting parts of their nights. They watch Maggie’s video of Winn tackling Lillian at least fifteen times, and Lena cracks up every time without fail, eventually demanding that Maggie send it to her in exchange for one of the affectionately-named ‘Iron Man guns.’

“Shit, I was gonna do it anyways, but now that you offered!” Maggie whoops.

 

Kal and Kara drive them back to Eliza’s, and they find everyone gathered around the TV in the living room.

“… attack at the LuthorCorp Holiday Gala earlier tonight. Witnesses report that aliens were sent, presumably by the organization known only as Cadmus, to eliminate Lena Luthor after plans for researching alien medicine and aid went public earlier this week.”

“That’s right, Gail. As of now, over a dozen people have been reported as being injured, though all are in stable condition with minor injuries. The real story to come out of this, however, is the apparent emergence of a new Super!

“Witnesses say that a figure all in black arrived on-scene shortly after the attacks began, driving the aliens off and allowing the building to be safely evacuated. There are, unfortunately, no clear images of this mysterious hero, but we have been able to get this photo-“

An image of a black blur appears on-screen, with the (fortunately unidentifiable) form of Lena clutched in its arms, shooting away from the gala, four aliens visible in the background.

“Whoever they are, I hope this isn’t the last we see of them…”

The TV switches off, and everyone turns to stare at Kara, who’s grinning sheepishly.

“Uh, oops?”

Chapter Text

“That should be the last of the dishes,” Kara says with relief, stretching up onto her toes. “Thank Rao, unpacking is even worse than packing.”

Slim arms wrap around her from behind, and a chin rests on her shoulder. “You’re not wrong, which is why I usually pay people to do it for me,” Lena murmurs, lips ghosting over the sensitive skin of Kara’s neck. “Remind me again why we didn’t do that?”

Kara hums and leans back into the embrace, resting her hands over Lena’s. “Well, first, I can’t afford it.”

“Kara-“

“Lena, we talked about this,” Kara interrupts firmly, fondly. “I don’t need you to pay for things for me. I’m not a… sugar-baby? That’s the right word, right?”

Lena chuckles huskily, nipping at Kara’s earlobe. “It is. And, well, no, you’re older than me, which I think disqualifies you from being a sugar-baby. Though I can’t say I hate the idea.”

Kara valiantly ignores her. “And second, unpacking is like, the best way to get familiar with your new place. Now I know where everything is, and I discovered some little quirks early on so they don’t surprise me later.”

“You mean like those big-ass windows that you can’t possibly buy curtains large enough to cover?” Lena asks wryly. “Or the fact that your bedroom doesn’t have a door?”

“Exactly like that,” Kara confirms, turning in Lena’s arms and pressing a kiss to the tip of her nose, giggling when it wrinkles. “Why do you care about my windows anyways? I happen to like the sunlight.”

“I’m going to get a sunburn reading on your couch,” Lena mutters grumpily.

“I’ll keep you safe, oh pale one,” Kara assures her, boosting Lena up so she’s sitting on the kitchen counter and moving to stand between her legs. “There’s only about a million blankets on that couch to cover up with.”

“There’s only one blanket on your bed,” Lena argues.

Kara raises a brow playfully. “And you steal all the covers every night, anyways. Exactly how often are you planning on being in my bed, Miss Luthor?”

“As often as humanly possible,” Lena grins, locking her ankles and pulling Kara into a languid kiss.

“Ow-OW!” someone catcalls from the doorway. “Get it!”

Kara groans and drops her head to Lena’s shoulder. “Lucy, go away!”

“Don’t let me stop you guys making out. Please carry on,” Lucy grins devilishly, crossing the room and dropping into one of the island counter stools. “Fair warning, though, the boys are right behind me with dinner.”

Kara groans pitifully and Lena chuckles. “Get some plates down, Kara.” At the blonde’s mutinous look, she leans in and whispers, “They have to leave sometime. The faster we eat, the faster they go.”

Kara perks up instantly, zipping through the kitchen in a blur and setting the table for five in the blink of an eye, much to Lena and Lucy’s amusement.

“You’ve got her wrapped around your little finger, Luthor,” Lucy laughs as Kara uses her heat vision to light the candles.

“Other way around, Lane,” Lena corrects mildly, smiling when Kara presses a kiss to her cheek as she whips past at inhuman speeds. “Other way around.”

 

“Kara?”

“Mmph?” Her hands are sliding smoothly up Lena’s thighs.

“Kara.”

“Mm-mm.” One hand ghosts along the sliver of skin exposed on her stomach.

“Kara.”

Kara pulls away from Lena’s neck with a pout. “Yes, ehl? What do you need?”

“Well, first off, I need you to stop leaving hickeys all over my neck,” Lena laughs. “You’re scandalizing the board. And second, you need to stop for a minute.”

Kara’s instantly concerned. She cups Lena’s face gently, turning her head this way and that to examine her for injuries. “Oh, Rao, was I hurting you? I’m so sor-“

“No! No, not at all, you know I’d tell you,” Lena reassures her, covering Kara’s hands with her own. “I’m fine. But… I don’t want to get all… worked up.”

Kara’s brow furrows. “I thought that was the general idea of you staying over.”

“No. Well, yes, but… I don’t want to have sex unless you can too. It’s not fair.”

Kara flops backwards onto the bed with a groan. “Lena-“

“Kara,” she shoots back, undeterred. “Look, it wouldn’t be fair. And I want you to have fun-“

“I do have fun!” Kara argues.

“-and not be worried about hurting me the entire time,” Lena finishes pointedly. “I mean, you get jumpy from kissing me, darling. I can’t imagine that’s particularly conducive to orgasm.”

Kara throws an arm over her face. They sit in silence for a moment before Kara concedes. “I hate it when you’re right, you know.”

“I know,” Lena tells her, smiling. She crawls up Kara’s prone form until she’s lying along her body, chin pillowed on arms crossed over Kara’s chest. “Besides, I still haven’t taken you out to dinner.”

“You bought dinner tonight!” Kara protests.

Lena shakes her head. “That’s not a date.”

“Why not?”

“Well, for one, there were other people here.”

“It was Lucy and James! That’s practically a double date!” Kara argues.

“And Winn!”

“So? Winn goes on all our dates with us, it’s basically tradition at this point,” Kara grins.

“No. Absolutely not. And I was all sweaty from helping you move all day. Hardly romantic.”

“I don’t care about that, Lena. Rrip zhindif ehvahn vrrahdh bem.”

“Okay, one day, you’ll tell me what that means,” Lena huffs. Kara tells her some variation of this at least once a week and refuses to tell her what it means. And Lena would ask Alex, or Clark, but if it’s dirty (which she vaguely suspects it is), she doesn’t particularly want them to be privy to it.

“Just an honest observation, ehl,” Kara says, grinning crookedly. “And why else doesn’t that count?”

“Because I want to show you off.”

“You did that already. Twice, at two different galas,” Kara points out. “Very showy.”

“Kara,” Lena groans, dropping her forehead to Kara’s chest in frustration. She picks herself back up, choosing her words thoughtfully. “Look, I… I’ve never gotten to plan a date with someone I care about before. And you do so much for me, to make sure that I’m safe and happy and comfortable. So let me do that, and let me figure out a way to have really hot, fun, totally satisfying sex with you so we both can relax and enjoy it. Okay? Please?”

Kara’s blushing prettily in the shifting pinpoints of light thrown off by her star-lamp in the corner. “Well, when you put it that way…”

Lena grins victoriously. “Good.” She presses a sound kiss to Kara’s lips before settling down and sighing in contentment.

“Are you planning to just… sleep on top of me?” Kara asks, giggling when Lena’s hair tickles her face.

“Mm-hmm. Warm.”

“Rao, you’re like a tiny lizard,” Kara laughs.

“Kara Zor-El, you take that back,” Lena scolds, playing at offense.

“I will not, because you’re curled up on me like I’m a warm rock in the sunshine,” Kara informs her. When Lena makes no move to get up, Kara changes tactics and digs her fingers into Lena’s sides, eliciting a shriek that she’s sure doesn’t endear her to her new neighbors. “Shhh!”

“Did you just tickle me, and then have the nerve to shush me?!” Lena asks incredulously.

“Uh…”

“This means war.”

Kara scoffs. “Bring it, I’m not even- EEEP!” she yelps, when Lena actually manages to tickle her. “How did- that’s not-“ she gasps, scandalized as realization dawns. “You talked to Alex!

Lena shrugs, smirking and totally unapologetic. “I did.”

“But that’s cheating!” Kara protests.

“Darling, I’m a Luthor; since when do we play fair?”

 

Eventually, they settle down, with Lena half-draped across Kara rather than lying directly on top of her.

“First night in your new apartment,” Lena hums sleepily.

“Yeah,” Kara agrees. “Kinda weird.”

“How so?”

Kara shrugs gently, careful not to disturb Lena too much. “I dunno, I… it just is,” she decides.

Lena nods. “I get that. It’s always odd, sleeping in a new place; learning all the new noises, new ways the light hits you in the morning… I get it. And you haven’t lived by yourself before. It might be a little lonely for you, at first.”

“Yeah.” Kara turns and presses a kiss to Lena’s forehead. “I’m glad you’re here with me, though. I’m never lonely with you.”

“Always,” Lena murmurs, falling deep into sleep.

And Kara’s pretty sure that she might, maybe, possibly love Lena. A lot.

‘Oh, Rao.’

********

 “Alex!”

Alex is beaming from the laptop screen. “Hey, kiddo! Maggie’s here too; say hi, Mags.”

“Hey, Little Danvers! Where’s your better half?”

Kara rolls her eyes. “Working late, but she’ll be here pretty soon, I think. She texted me a while ago to tell me she was almost done with… something or other.”

“Gotcha.”

They’re doing a Skype sister/double-date night. It’s not quite the same, but it’s the best they can do for now. They’ve ordered the same takeout orders and have the same movie cued up on Netflix, so now they’re just waiting for the delivery driver.

And Lena.

“So how’s it going out there? You guys still all gooey for each other?” Maggie teases, flashing a dimpled grin.

“Ew, babe, gross.”

“Wh- not like that, you goddamn degenerate!”

Kara laughs. “We’re good, she’s trying to make sure the whole rebranding thing stays on track, so she’s been working a lot, but Winn and Lucy and James have been keeping me company.” A sudden chime from her pocket has her rolling her eyes skyward. “As has my work phone, courtesy of Ms. Grant.”

“Yeah, how’s the dragon lady of all media treating you?”

“We can totally come kick her ass, Little Danvers.”

Kara shrugs, reading over the text before tucking her phone away again. “Not as bad as I thought. She’s actually, like, really making sure I have time to do my homework and get to class on time. Last week, she even let me use her elevator when the main one was jammed so I could catch the bus to campus.”

“That’s pretty impressive, for someone who once fired someone for smelling too much like Harrison Ford,” Maggie laughs.

“Oh my god, I forgot about that.”

“I didn’t,” Kara grouses. “Yesterday, she asked me for a salad with a cheeseburger on top.”

“To be fair, if anyone on earth knows where to get that, it’s you, Kara.”

“Well of course I knew where to get one, that’s not the point!” Kara huffs.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, show us the new place! Last time we saw it, it was all full of boxes and shit. Are you finally unpacked?”

Kara nods with a proud grin. “I am! Lena was like, obsessive about it, said she couldn’t sleep with all those boxes laying around-“

A wicked smile spreads across Maggie’s face. “Couldn’t sleep, huh?”

“How often is she sleeping there?” Alex asks, grinning knowingly.

“Oh, Rao, just forget I said anything,” Kara groans. “Anyways, she was over here helping me unpack, like, every night for a week.”

“I like this one, you should keep her,” Maggie says seriously.

“For real; anyone who can get you to actually, y’know, do your work in a timely manner, is a rare find,” Alex agrees.

Kara nods thoughtfully. “You’re probably right.”

“Woah, LD, we were joking.”

Kara shrugs. “I’m not.”

“Just remember to be, like, slow with her, alright? She’s been through a lot,” Alex cautions.

“I know my own girlfriend, Alex,” Kara scoffs.

There’s a long beat of silence.

“I’m sorry, did you just use the word girlfriend?” Maggie asks.

“Without a gun to either of your heads?”

“She’s my girlfriend. Why wouldn’t I call her that?” Kara asks, grinning dopily at them.

“Kara and Lena, sittin’ in a tree,” Alex sing-songs.

“F-U-C-K-I-N-G!”

“MAGGIE!”

 

Lena rushes in the door a little while later, hurrying to where Kara’s sprawled on the couch and dropping an apologetic kiss to her lips. “I’m sorry, darling; I got caught up at the lab working on a new project.”

Kara shrugs, smiling easily. “It’s okay, nobody even has their food, yet. Go get changed.”

Lena nods, kissing her again, before darting off into Kara’s room to change out of her work clothes.

“Wow, didn’t even say hi to us.”

“It’s like she doesn’t even love us anymore,” Alex laments.

“Hello, you two,” Lena calls wryly from the bedroom.

“Is your super-hearing contagious if you have sex enough times?” Maggie whispers.

 Kara rolls her eyes. “No, my room just doesn’t have a door.”

“You broke your door?”

“Alright Littles! Get it” Maggie cheers.

“No! There was never a door.”

“What sorta flophouse are you living in?”

“You picked it out!” Kara protests. “Besides, I like it. All the windows and the brick… It’s homey.”

“I, personally, could do without the windows, but the brick and hardwood are nice,” Lena says, settling onto Kara’s lap with a grin.

“We all know you’re secretly a vampire, Luthor,” Alex teases. “But Kara’s like a solar-powered battery. Gotta get that sweet, sweet yellow-sun radiation.”

The others laugh, but Lena freezes. “Of course,” she mutters.

“Of course what, ehl?”

She shakes herself out of a daze of formulas and blueprints, smiling indulgently. “Nothing, darling. So, what are we watching tonight?”

“It’s Maggie’s pick, and she chose-“

“Star Wars, bitches!” Maggie whoops. “Something for everyone.”

Lena grins, and there’s a knock on Kara’s door. “I’ve got it,” she says, pressing a quick kiss to Kara’s cheek as she gets up.

“Lena, there’s money by the front door for the food. If you buy it again, you’re in trouble,” Kara calls.

Maggie snickers. “What’re you gonna do, Little Danvers, spank her?”

Lena snorts out a laugh. “I would not be opposed to that,” she says, winking at Kara.

“Ew! Augh, c’mon, guys, gross, that’s my sister!”

“Honestly, babe, after how many times she’s walked in on us with like, plenty of forewarning on her part, you kinda have it coming.”

Alex pouts. “Traitor.”

Lena pays the delivery guy, thanking him for his time, and she lugs all the bags into the living room, spreading their contents across the table. By the time she’s done, Alex and Maggie’s food has been delivered too. Both parties start the same movie and dig into the same food at opposite ends of the country, bickering as though they were no further apart than opposite ends of the couch.

Kara smiles softly as Alex and Lena get into a heated discussion on the merits and practicality of lightsabers versus blasters. This isn’t quite what she’s used to, and it’s not really the same as sister nights where she can cuddle up with Alex and Maggie on their too-big couch in their too-small apartment, but like everything else changing in her life, she’s getting used to it. She watches Alex’s face get more and more animated, and makes the same face at Maggie that they’ve shot each other a million times over the years when someone’s being ridiculous.

And she studies the often too-serious, always overworked, never self-indulgent woman debating sci-fi weapons on her lap and smiles.

Some changes, she’s learning, are definitely worth it.

********

“Augh!” There’s the dull thud of a heavy book hitting the ground.

“Kara-“

“No! This is so dumb! Why can’t I figure this out?”

“Because, according to you, our understanding of physics and the universe in general is totally primitive and backward?” Lena says drily, looking up from her paperwork to see Kara sprawled on the floor of Lena’s loft in defeat. “Darling, do you want some help?”

“I never said the word ‘primitive’, I just said you all were wrong,” Kara corrects. “And I- isn’t that cheating? I mean, you’re a genius scientist.”

“So are you, technically speaking,” Lena admonishes. “And I’m going to help you understand your homework, not do it for you. That would be cheating.” She slips off the couch and onto the floor beside her girlfriend. “This, however, is called tutoring. What are you having trouble with?”

“I just- all of it,” Kara sighs, rolling so her head is in Lena’s lap. “I just don’t get it. It makes zero sense, no matter how hard I try.”

“I can help. Come on, sit up,” Lena encourages. Kara grumbles but complies, retrieving the book from where she’d tossed it across the room. “Now, you’re probably over-thinking it. Is it the math?”

Kara shakes her head. “No, the math is fine, it’s just… the rules to what you guys think is and isn’t true in regards to gravity- that you have laws about it at all- is messed up! And then that messes up the math, and I know the answers, but you guys don’t yet, so all my answers seem wrong!”

“Okay, then just… I know we’re wrong,” Lena says carefully. “So do you. So just try to do the math wrong like we do.”

“You want me to give wrong answers on purpose,” Kara says flatly, frustration evident in the set of her shoulders and the tone of her voice.

Lena takes a deep breath, trying to hold back her own rising frustration. Kara is always exceptionally moody when she has science homework. Which is ironic, considering that many of their own discussions are much more involved than this, delving into everything from time-travel to cross-dimensional teleportation. But simple, basic physics as humans understand it is enough to make her ray-of-sunshine girlfriend into, well, kind of a brat.

“Yes, I want you to give wrong answers in this class so that you pass and never have to take it again.” Kara grumbles something in Kryptonese beside her, and Lena chooses to ignore it. “Do you know how to do the math wrong, the way we do it?”

Kara’s brow furrows even more, and she crosses her arms tightly over her chest. “No.”

Lena sighs with relief. Finally, progress. “Okay, so, let’s go over the basics, and we can move on from there.”

Kara’s still sulky, but she nods silently, and at this point Lena will take what she can get.

 

Kara bursts into Lena’s apartment, beaming. “Lena! Lena, look!”

Lena has been reading quietly on her couch, and nearly falls off of it when Kara flies in through her (thankfully open) window. “What? What’s wrong?” She pushes her glasses up on top of her head and sets her book on the coffee table.

Kara settles carefully onto her lap, grinning hugely. “Look!” She shoves a sheaf of papers into Lena’s hands, watching her eagerly.

“Your homework from two weeks ago?”

“Lenaaaaa, read it!” Kara whines.

Lena pushes her glasses back onto her nose and starts reading. “Remarkable improvement in comprehension and participation in class discussions… Very impressive turnaround...” She keeps reading until the bottom of the final page, when she breaks into a broad grin. “You got a B!”

“B+,” Kara corrects proudly.

“I’m so proud of you! Look how well you did!” Lena enthuses, pressing a kiss to Kara’s smiling lips. “We’ll make a dumb human of you yet, Kara Danvers.”

“You wish,” Kara scoffs.

 “Seriously, though, I’m so, so proud of you. I know how hard it is for you, and you’re doing really well.”

“Thank you, for helping me,” Kara says, smiling softly. “You’re the best.”

“What are girlfriends for?” Lena asks, shrugging easily, arms looped loosely around Kara’s hips where she straddles Lena’s lap.

“No, I mean it. You were so patient with me, and I know I’m not, like, the most fun when it comes to that stuff, so thank you.” She turns suddenly bashful. “I, um….”

“What is it, darling?” Lena asks, tracing Kara’s cheekbone with her thumb.

“I love you.”

Lena’s eyes widen. “What?”

“I love you. And I know it’s only been a couple months, and humans are kinda weird about it- honestly, when you feel love you should tell someone. You’re all so breakable. But you- You’ve always got my back, and you want to know about me, and my home, and you helped me move and unpack, and you spend hours helping me with my stupid homework, and you sneak vegetables into my cart when we go shopping because you want me to eat healthier- I still hate kale, by the way, nothing you can do will change that-, and you watch dumb movies with me on cable even though I have them on DVD and you hate commercials, and you put up with my weird family, and I just… I love you,” she shrugs. “I do. And you don’t have to say anything if you’re not ready to, but-”

Lena tugs Kara’s face to hers and kisses her thoroughly, remapping the already very familiar terrain of Kara’s mouth with her tongue and sliding her fingers into Kara’s wavy hair and pulling, just a little. The hand that’d been resting on Kara’s waist drifts up under her shirt, nails scratching lightly over the taut muscle of her stomach. She feels Kara moan into her mouth (one of her very favorite things) and rock her hips down ever so slightly into Lena’s lap before she catches herself. Lena smirks, just a little.

“In case,” Lena husks, “it was, at any point unclear; I love you, too.”

“Oh, thank Rao. That would’ve been really awkward,” Kara laughs, a bit giddy at the weight of those three words being pulled off of her chest. 

“Indeed,” Lena hums, nipping at Kara’s neck. “That reminds me, I made something for you.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Mm-hmm. It’s in my room.”

“It is more indestructible lingerie? Because, like, I’m into it, but cut me a little slack, here, there’s only so much restraint I’m capable of when my very hot girlfriend is wearing… that,” Kara laughs.

Lena grins and swats her on the butt playfully. “No.” She considers this for a moment. “Okay, actually, yes, but that’s not what I was talking about.”

“No?”

“Nope. Hop up, I’ll show you,” Lena says, trying to hide how eager she is but knowing that her heartbeat is probably a dead giveaway.

Kara does as she asks, grumbling about having been comfortable where she was, thank you very much, but she takes Lena’s hand and follows her into her bedroom.

“Okay, close your eyes and cover them,” Lena tells her. At Kara’s dubious look, she rolls her eyes. “I’m not going to murder you,  just do it.”

Kara huffs, but follows her instructions, however odd they seem.

Lena fiddles with a few switches and waits for a moment before she says, “Alright, open them.”

Kara removes her hand cautiously. “Black-out curtains? That’s… great, I guess, but I gotta say, I was expecting something a little more impre-“

And then Lena smirks and flips on the red sun lamps, and Kara shuts up.

“So, I finished the project I was working on,” Lena says, aiming for casual but missing by a mile. “Ta-da!”

If Kara weren’t so thoroughly distracted by the 10,000 equally appealing ideas that just popped into her head, she would absolutely tease Lena for saying ‘ta-da,’ but as it is, that’s the last thing on her mind. “So these- do they actually work?”

“From all the testing I’ve done, they should, yes,” Lena says, nodding. “Go ahead, try to fly.”

Kara stays put. Scrunches up her face in concentration, even jumps into the air a little- nothing.

“Now try the heat-vision.”

Kara squints, and there’s not even a hint of red in her eyes, aside from the tint the lamps are casting through the room.

“Can you lift the bed?”

Kara crosses the room, squats beside Lena’s comically large bed, and strains for a moment, but the stubborn thing doesn’t move an inch. She turns, and starts when she sees that Lena has snuck up behind her. “No super-hearing, either,” she says wryly. “So…”

“So…” Lena mimics, grinning up at her. “Do you like your present?”

“I feel like this is one of those presents that you give someone, but really it’s also for you,” Kara jokes.

“Those are the best kind,” Lena argues teasingly.

“True. And yes, by the way,” Kara says, snaking her arms out and jerking Lena flush against her by her hips. “I do like my present.”

“Good,” Lena whispers.

And that’s the last really coherent thing either of them says for a long time.

 

“So,” Kara pants, chest rising and falling rapidly with exertion, “that happened.”

It’s the strangest feeling, to be tired, and to sweat, and to be so pleasantly sore.

Lena laughs from where she’s sprawled out, facedown, beside her. “Yeah. Yeah, it did.” She turns her head, studying Kara as she catches her breath for a moment before climbing back onto Kara’s prone form. “Think it could happen again?” she asks lowly, nipping at the column of Kara's throat and secretly pleased at her own ability to leave marks on Kara under this artificial red sunlight. She shrieks out a laugh when Kara rolls them suddenly so that Lena’s on her back and Kara’s hovering over her on her elbows, both of them laughing breathlessly.

“I sure hope so,” Kara whispers, and dives in for a deep, searing, unrestrained kiss.

 

The End