She’s happy, she thinks.
Or at least, as close to happy as a recently divorced almost thirty-year-old with a less than successful bookshop can be.
She lives within walking distance of all of her favorite people, included but not limited to: her sister Alex, her sister-in-law Maggie, her nephew Theo, foster sister Nia and her best friend Brainy. She lives a couple of blocks away from her little bookshop that specialises in LGBT+ themed books with her one employee James. Her home, a cosy, albeit perpetually cluttered two bedroom house doesn’t let her get too lonely; her roommate Vasquez is a handful of a struggling artist who brings a new conquest home on a tri-weekly basis.
She visits the local markets every weekend and she pretends to like Alex’s cooking and she goes to Vasquez’s art shows and she smiles like everything is okay.
Because she’s happy, she’s decided it. Even if the bookshop lost several hundred dollars in the last month. Even if her ex-husband left her for another woman six months after they got married. Even if she’s stuck in a monotonous rut she can’t seem to get out of. She’s happy.
But she could probably be happier.
James sighs as he reads over the latest numbers with her.
“We could try for another sale to push some stock and get business up?” he suggests.
“We just had a sale,” Kara replies, sliding her glasses back up her nose. “We’d basically be giving away stock.”
James rests a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Coffees are on me, today.”
“Get me a half one, it’s all we can afford.”
“Coming up, boss.”
The bell jingles as James opens the door and leaves and Kara returns to her work.
It rings again as a new customer comes in.
Kara glances up briefly, before looking back at the dismal numbers in front of her.
And then her head snaps again, probably giving herself whiplash.
Not that she cares.
Because movie star and bonafide scientist-who-has-invented-game-changing-world-saving-technology Lena Luthor has just entered her store. She’s wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, but it doesn’t matter; she’s the most recognizable woman in the world. And she’s in Kara’s shop. Looking at her books.
“Can… can I help you?” Kara asks, surprised any sound actually managed to come out of her mouth. She’s entranced by Lena, whose pale skin and striking features are even more beautiful in person than they are onscreen.
“No, thank you,” Lena replies firmly. “I’ll just look around.”
Kara assumes she has to deal with fawning people a lot, that she probably likes her quiet time.
Kara watches as she picks up a coffee table book and flicks through a few of the pages.
And Kara wishes she had more control over the word vomit disease Alex diagnosed her with in their youth.
“That book’s not very good,” Kara says, wincing, wishing she could just leave this woman alone. “Just in case you decide to buy something… wouldn’t want you to waste your money.”
“Really?” Lena replies, arching an eyebrow.
“Yeah. This one though,” Kara holds up a book that lies beside her. “This one’s pretty great. I’ve read it a couple of times now. A much better choice, truly. If you’re after a book about the Scottish Highlands.”
“Thanks. I’ll think about it.”
Kara’s eyes follow her as she makes her way to the next aisle of books. She catches a glimpse of someone in the back of the store on the CCTV monitor. Fucking Gary.
“Excuse me for a moment,” Kara tells Lena, before disappearing behind the shelves.
Gary, a dishevelled patron of the bar Kara frequents stands a tad unsteady on his feet.
“Pardon me, Gary,” Kara says.
“Yeah?” His breath stinks of alcohol.
“Put the book back, please.”
“What book?” he slurs.
“The one I watched you put down your pants.”
Somewhere among the stacks, Lena stifles a laugh. Gary, however, just stares Kara down.
“... There’s no book in my pants,” he insists, though they both know he’s lying.
“Well in that case, why don’t we call the police down here? If you have the book I suspect you have down there, well, then, Maggie’ll have something to be angry about before lunch. And if you don’t, you’ll get my heartfelt apology, and we’d have angered Maggie for no reason.” Gary goes pale at the mention of Maggie Sawyer, known hardass cop of the neighbourhood.
“And, uh, if I did have a book down my trousers?”
“Then when I walk away from here, you’ll wipe it with a tissue and put it back on the shelf. Or, ideally, you’ll buy it.” She leans in close, suppressing the need to retch at the stench of stale alcohol. “Chop chop, Gary.”
Kara returns to the counter, where Lena’s waiting patiently with her book, the hints of a smile on her face.
“Sorry about that,” she says.
“No problem,” Lena replies. “I was going to steal this one, but I’d hate to incur the wrath of… Maggie, was it?”
Kara nods. “A good choice. She’s small but feisty.”
“A deadly combination.”
They regard each other for a moment. Kara can’t get over how beautiful Lena is. Obviously she knows Lena is beautiful, she’s seen all of her movies, read every article that’s been written about her. But this was a new beauty, one Kara thinks most people definitely overlook. An ease, a steady assurance that is both inviting and at the same time a little disconcerting. She feels as though she’s being held an arm’s length away from the real Lena, and for some reason Kara wants nothing more than to be as close to the real Lena as she can.
Their moment is cut short, when Gary appears at the counter. He stares at Lena intensely, though neither of them want to give him attention.
“Can I get your autograph?” he asks abruptly. Lena takes the small, ripped piece of paper that Gary holds out to her, and scribbles something on it.
“What does it say?” he asks.
“It says, ‘fuck off, Gary. Love, Lena,” she says, deadpanned. Kara snorts as she tries to hold back her laughter, and notices the way Lena’s mouth twitches slightly, as though she wants to smile.
They watch in silence as Gary retreats from the shop.
And for a few moments, they observe each other in said silence. Kara admires Lena’s perfect style, the fact that her tight pants and shirt show off her figure. Kara’s thankful she’s wearing a shirt without stains on it, thankful that her hair isn’t a mess like it usually is. She’s nowhere near as glamorous as the star that stands in front of her, but at least she looks presentable. The gleam in Lena’s eye makes Kara think that she agrees.
“So I think I’ll take this one,” Lena says, holding out the book Kara had told her wasn’t good.
“Oh, well. Uh, maybe it’s better than I remember,” Kara says, trying to backtrack. She squirms under Lena’s stare and the intensity of her green-blue eyes. “You know how sometimes you reread something you haven’t read in a while and you’re like, ‘wow this is actually pretty good’ and then you try to remember why you didn’t like it the first time but you can’t remember so then it becomes something you enjoy.”
Goddamn word vomit.
Lena hands over the exact change for the book, a bemused smile on her face.
“Thanks,” she says, taking the book from Kara. Their hands brush together and a chill runs through Kara, an icy hot current that leaves her paralysed for just a moment. And by the time she can move again, Lena Luthor is gone.
Just moments later, James is back with two coffees.
“You okay, boss?” he asks a still-stunned Kara.
“Uh, y-yeah. You’ll never guess who was just in here,” she replies.
“Who? Someone famous?”
Kara hesitates. She remembers Lena’s eyes and the sharpness of jaw and the way it felt to touch her hand. And Kara feels an intense need to protect Lena anyway she can.
“Nobody, forget about it.”
“Would’ve been cool if it had been a famous person,” James says. “Could use some excitement around here. Remember that time Cat Grant came in here? God, that was amazing.”
Kara doesn’t reply. Instead, she replays her interaction with Lena Luthor over and over again in her head, trying to commit every bit of it to memory.
“Kar? You okay?”
She realises James is talking to her. “Oh yeah, yeah I am.” She downs her (scalding) coffee in one go as James looks on in horror.
“Dude that was boiling hot.”
“Gotta have that caffeine,” she says with a hollow laugh. “In fact. I think I’m gonna go get another. Do you want one?”
“I’m good with this one,” he says, brow furrowed.
Kara grabs her jacket and heads for the door.
“Actually grab me an orange juice!” he calls out after her. She flashes him a thumbs up and then she’s gone.
“What a weirdo,” he says fondly to himself.
It’s her own fault, really.
She shouldn’t have insisted on walking around without her security detail.
She should’ve just stayed at her hotel and worked on her lines, maybe take a look at the prototype she’d been neglecting for months.
But now she’s covered in orange juice and there’s a very apologetic bookstore owner in front of her who won’t stop saying sorry, who keeps trying to clean Lena’s shirt. The bookstore owner’s hands get a bit too close to Lena’s brea--
“Watch it!” she says.
“God, I’m so sorry,” the owner says. “I didn’t see you as I rounded the corner, and James wanted juice and--”
Who the fuck is James?
“Please let me help you,” she says. “I live just over the road there, you can come in and get cleaned up.”
“You’re trying to lure me to a second location?”
“N-no, I just thought… You can get cleaned up, maybe borrow a t-shirt or something. Call your driver to come and pick you up.”
“You know about my driver?”
“I just assumed you have one,” the woman says, getting worked up again. Lena sighs.
“Where do you live?”
She points directly across the street to a bright blue front door.
“That’s my house.”
Lena looks down at her juice-soaked shirt.
“Lead the way.”
For the first time in a long time, Kara realises her home is an absolute mess.
Like, a complete, utter mess.
She knows it’s not all her fault -- Vasquez lives a busy, messy life and Kara has been so busy with the bookstore she’s fallen behind in cleaning and tidying. But none of that seems to matter now that Lena fucking Luthor is standing behind her, lips pursed and jaw jutted out .
Don’t get distracted by her neck , Kara has to tell herself.
“The bathroom is upstairs, the door right neck to the stairs.”
“OH!” she yells, startling Lena off of the bottom step. “One sec.”
She runs up ahead of her, taking the stairs two at a time. And then, almost instantaneously, she bounds back down the stairs, holding a nice pair of slacks and a white shirt to Lena.
“Here you go,” she says, slightly breathless. “They’re clean, I swear.”
“Thanks,” Lena says, bemused. She heads up the stairs and Kara watches her go, the only thought running through her mind the fact that her pants are the tightest Kara’s ever seen and her ass is, quite frankly, gorgeous.
“Stop objectifying her,” Kara mutters under her breath, before going into the kitchen. Be less gay , she tells herself. She scrambles to tidy up a bit, putting dirty plates in the sink and returning the cereal to the pantry and trying to make the place look the tiniest bit presentable. It’s useless, obviously, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
All too quickly, she hears Lena coming down the stairs, and rounding the corner to the kitchen entrance.
Seeing Lena in her clothing makes Kara feel something she’s seldom felt before, a stirring at the very bottom of her stomach that makes her entire being ache for something . She can’t tell if she wants to fuck Lena into oblivion or hold her gently in her arms and rock her to sleep.
Lena lifts her arms to adjust her ponytail and her shirt rides up, revealing her toned stomach and ridiculously pale skin.
Kara gulps audibly.
“My phone died,” Lena says, and Kara averts her gaze before her eyes fall out of her head for looking at pure godliness for too long. “Do you have a landline I can use to call my driver?”
“Uh, yeah, of course. It’s just in here, right by the fridge.”
Lena, with what Kara can only assume is the product of years of acting training, doesn’t react to the hellish state of the kitchen. She might be imagining things, but Kara swears she sees Lena smile at the photos stuck on her fridge, various snapshots of her and her friends where Kara is more often than not pulling some sort of silly face.
Kara busies herself as Lena talks into the phone, noting how the clipped tone she had used with Kara (and Gary earlier) is gone. She sounds softer almost, calmer.
“I’ll be out of your hair shortly,” she tells Kara, hanging up the receiver, in her usual clipped tone.
“Can I get you anything before you go?” Kara asks. “A coffee?”
Lena shakes her head.
“A tea?” Another no. “Orange juice?”
Lena barely manages to suppress her smile. “No.”
“Too soon?” Kara says. “What about a cold drink. Coke? Water? This disgusting unsweetened iced tea my sister forces me to buy?”
“Or something to eat? I can make you an omelette. Or I have muesli bars, unless you’re allergic to almonds. I hear that’s not as common an allergy as peanuts but it can still kill you if you’re not careful.”
“No thank you.”
“Or I’ve got half a Subway sandwich that I didn’t eat yesterday-”
“Do you say no to everything?”
Lena hesitates for just a moment. “No.”
Kara smiles widely, and she’s surprised to see a faint flush in Lena’s cheeks. Eliza’s always told her that she has a charming smile, but this is the first time Kara’s believed it.
“I should get going. Thank you for your help. I can get these clothes back to you in the next couple of days.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Kara says earnestly. “They look better on you anyway.”
Kara leads her to the door.
“Well it was nice meeting you.” Kara says. “Surreal, but nice.”
Lena doesn’t respond, she just sort of stares at Kara, a cool smile playing on her lips.
Kara opens the door and Lena exits and Kara shuts the door again.
She exhales slowly.
“‘Surreal but nice?’ Ugh, what an idiot,” she says to herself.
Before she can turn around back to the kitchen, there’s a knock on the door. She opens it.
Lena’s still there, looking at Kara expectantly.
“I forgot my bag,” Lena says, stepping into the house and shutting the door behind her.
Kara rushes into the kitchen and grabs the bag. She walks back just a bit slower, trying to savor the time they’ll have together. She hands it to Lena.
She’s lost, just for a moment, in Lena’s stare; blue-green eyes that hold more than Lena would ever let on. Just bright enough to take Kara’s breath away, she stands close enough that she can see the outline of her own reflection in them.
Before she can register what’s happening, Lena leans up and kisses Kara. It’s unexpected and it’s unfamiliar in the very best of ways, something brand new and heart-stopping. Lena’s lips are softer than Kara could ever have imagined and all too soon, Lena pulls away, leaving Kara yearning for more, more, more.
“I’m sorry,” Kara says, clearing her throat, “about the whole ‘surreal but nice’ thing. I must’ve sounded like an idiot.”
“Definitely not the stupidest thing I’ve heard you say today,” Lena says, smirking.
Before Kara can reply, she hears a key turn in the front door.
“Shit,” she says. “That’s my roommate. I apologise in advance for anything she may say or do.”
Vasquez walks through the door, outfit eclectic and her hair short and spiked.
“‘Sdoin’,” she says, passing between them.
“Hi,” Lena says.
“Hi,” Kara echoes.
“I hope you left that half sandwich for me, baby, because I’m about to shit my pants I’m so hungry,” Vasquez says as she heads into the kitchen. “And then I’ve got a story to tell you that will make your clitoris pull its hood over its head and never resurface again.”
“Well then,” Kara says. “And with that…”
“Probably best not to tell anybody about this,” Lena says softly.
“I don’t think anybody would believe me anyway,” Kara replies. “Hell, I’m not sure I’m gonna that this happened in a few days time.”
They regard each other, for just a moment more.
“Bye,” Lena says, finally.
And then she’s gone.
But Kara can still smell a cloud of her perfume.
Kara sits on the couch, watching the movie Alex has chosen with a feigned disinterest.
Because obviously Alex has chosen to watch a Lena Luthor movie.
And Kara can’t argue because she knows Alex will play the ‘I’m the one in a wheelchair, Kara, I get to pick the movie” card and Maggie will back her up.
Kara rolls her eyes as Lena gives a romantic speech to her (male) love interest. She winces as Lena leans in and kisses him. And the only thing running through Kara’s mind is she seemed more into it when she was kissing me .
“Wow,” Vasquez says, earning a ‘shh!’ from Maggie. “Somewhere out there there’s a guy who gets to kiss her like that whenever he wants.”
“Whenever she lets him,” Alex corrects.
“I reckon she’s gay,” Maggie says, earning a sarcastic ‘sHh!’ from Vasquez. “No straight woman kisses a hot guy like he’s hiding snakes in his mouth.”
Kara holds her secret afternoon with Lena against her chest, unwilling to let anybody else know about it. Not just because Lena asked her, but because everything about Lena feels like it’s just for Kara and her own enjoyment, and nobody else’s. Obviously she knows that Lena isn’t hers , but she has this feeling, an aching in her bones, that Lena and Kara are meant to be in each other’s lives, that they belong to each other in some weird cosmic, predetermined way.
“You okay, Kara?” Alex asks her quietly.
Kara smiles halfheartedly. “Just tired is all.”
Technically it’s not a lie, she’s exhausted. When her head finally hits her pillow that night, she’s unconscious almost instantaneously, and Lena Luthor is the only thing she thinks about as she drifts to sleep.
Kara spends two days expecting to be abducted by men in black suits.
She’s not sure why, she knows Lena’s only an actress and not some government agent, but hell, she thought there’d be an NDA or two to sign.
But when there’s radio silence on the third day, Kara thinks her tryst with Lena is supposed to remain a fond, strange memory and nothing more.
“You’re looking particularly depressed today, my good bitch,” Vasquez says as she enters the kitchen. She’s wearing flippers that slap against the tiles with every step she takes. Kara is long past caring about Vasquez’s eccentricities.
“Me? Pshh, no,” Kara replies sarcastically. “Just living my best, slowly going out of business life.”
“Aren’t you going to ask me how I am?” Vasquez replies, eating Fruit Loops with a spoon, straight out of the box. Kara can see milk seeping through the bottom of the cardboard box.
“How are you, V?” Kara asks, rolling her eyes.
“Absolutely fabulously, darling,” she replies. “All of my girlfriends are incredibly attentive, none of them have Chlamydia - thank god - even though it was a very distinct possibility last week and made for a very scary Monday afternoon.”
“And the flippers?”
“They’re for a piece I’m working on up on the roof. You’re welcome to join me as I work, the sun might do you some good. Cheer you up a bit.”
The sun, as it turns out, does little to improve Kara’s mood.
Vasquez’s art piece turns out to be her walking around in flippers dipped in paint on a giant rolled out piece of canvas. She supposes the finished product might look good, but at the moment all she can focus on are the small drips of paint being flicked all over the roof of her home. Flecks of paint that remind her of the smattering of freckles across Lena’s nose, ones you don’t see under all the camera makeup and poster photoshopping.
Stop thinking about her, she says to herself. She zones in and listens to what Vasquez is saying as she struggles to walk across the canvas.
“... I just think it’s ridiculous in this day and age for people to rely on landline voicemail systems. Who the fuck even checks that anymore? Like, send them a text, or leave a message with a real life human who can then pass it on. It happens to me all the time!”
“People leave you messages with others?”
“Nah, people call here and leave messages for you with me.”
Kara almost falls out of her chair.
“Who’s called to leave me messages??”
“Well there were two from the other day. I don’t think I can really remember them.”
“Well one was your mom, she wants to know if you’re planning on going home for Passover this year and also her bad knee is playing up.”
“And the other message?”
Vasquez shrugs, the ‘flip flip flip’ of her steps echoing across the roof.
“Can you at least try to think?” Kara says as she stands up, pacing the perimeter of the canvas. “Why didn’t you write it down??”
She shrugs again, before adding, “Y’know, this is the most animated I’ve seen you all week.”
This time Kara shrugs.
“Could it be you’re waiting for a call from a nice girl with a slight Irish accent?” Vasquez asks all too innocently as she comes to a standstill.
“She called? What did she say?” Kara asks. She feels jittery, like she’s just downed an entire pot of coffee.
“It was weird. She said hello, her name is Lena. She’s staying at the Ritz, and then she gave me a completely different name.”
“Vasquez, you’re killing me.”
Vasquez raises an eyebrow. “Is this broad worth it?” She sounds somewhere between sarcastic and concerned and why the fuck does Vasquez have to choose now of all times to be perceptive??
“She’s not a broad,” Kara says defensively. “And yeah. She’s so totally, incredibly worth it.”
“I think she said the name Aang Airbender, and I recall being amused at the thought of you going and meeting a woman who’s completely bald.”
Kara momentarily wonders what Lena would look like bald.
Surprisingly, it isn’t too bad.
“I should call her,” Kara says, pulling her phone from her pocket. She easily googles the number for the Ritz and her finger hovers over the dial button. “I should call her, right?”
“You said she’s worth it,” Vasquez replies. “And you haven’t been laid in so fucking long.”
Kara’s face turns red.
“I am not going to--” she lowers her voice. “-- have sex with her !”
“Why are we whispering?” Vasquez asks, matching her volume. And then, without any warning, she begins flipper-ing along the giant canvas. Kara huffs in annoyance and goes downstairs to her bedroom.
She takes a deep breath.
“Okay. She’s just a girl.”
She dials the number and gives the name “Aang Airbender” to the poor receptionist who answered the phone.
“I’ll transfer you through now,” she says in a bored voice.
Kara doesn’t expect Lena to pick up after the first ring.
(But she also hadn’t expected Lena to call at all, or wander into her book shop.)
“Hello?” Lena answers. Kara’s heart skips a beat; she had forgotten how pretty her voice is.
“Howdy!” Kara says, immediately hanging her head in shame. “I don’t know why I said that, I’m not Southern. God, is that considered appropriation? Is that how that works? OH I haven’t even said who it is. It’s--”
“Kara, hi,” Lena says, laughter in her voice. God, it sounds wonderful. “I wasn’t sure if you were playing it cool, or if you had decided not to call.”
“Neither, actually. My roommate - you sort of met her - she only just gave me the message that you’d called.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Look, I was wondering. Do you… do you wanna have coffee with me? Or any drink of your choice really. My sister-in-law recently introduced me to kombucha. I think it’s gross, but we can get some if you like it?”
Lena sighs and Kara’s heart sinks. “I wish I could, but it’s gonna be super busy around here.”
“That’s a shame,” Kara says. “I would’ve loved to see you again.”
“You know what? Come past here at about four o’clock. That should be fine. Room 742 at the Ritz.”
“Right. Okay. Okey dokey.” Her heart flutters as she hears Lena laugh.
“Bye,” she replies just before the line goes dead.
Kara falls back onto her bed. Had Lena sounded so incredibly phenomenal the last time they spoke? Well yeah, of course she did.
“Fuck,” Kara says out loud.
She is so totally screwed.
Maybe bringing daisies was a bit too much.
She had bought them on a whim. Okay, she had spent almost half an hour deliberating between the roses and the daisies.
(The daisies felt less presumptuous than the roses.)
Kara feels out of place at the Ritz. It’s one of the fanciest hotels in the city, and here she is in a pair of jeans and a polo shirt. She silently thanks god that she thought to throw on her tweed jacket. She still looks out of place next to the suit-and-ties that litter the hotel lobby and she feels out of place because she is not a fancy person. She doesn’t dress up and she doesn’t stay in expensive hotels and she’s never drunk a bottle of wine that costs more than fifteen dollars. But this, this is Lena’s world -- fancy and expensive and totally unattainable.
Suddenly the cheap paper-wrapped flowers seem incredibly unimpressive.
But as she gets closer to Lena’s room, navigating hotel elevators and hallways that seem never ending, she feels excitement replace her unease, her nerves turning into adrenaline pumping through her veins. She knocks on the door. She wants to see Lena. She’s going to see Lena.
Except the person who answers is decidedly not Lena Luthor.
“You must be with Catco,” says a woman with short blonde hair and a saccharin smile.
The woman pulls Kara into the suite, shutting the door behind them. Other people mill about rooms, lanyards around their necks and notebooks in their hands. The woman thrusts something into Kara’s hand.
“The press packet,” she explains. “We’re running a bit behind with the interviews, but you should be going in soon.”
“The interviews,” Kara parrots, feeling more and more confused by the second.
“Just take a seat,” the woman says, a bemused frown on her face. “We’ll call you momentarily.”
Kara does as she’s told, sitting down next to somebody she assumes is a journalist. She flips through the first few pages of the information packet.
“What did you think of the movie?” he asks her as he jots down some notes.
“Thought it was… great?”
He snorts. “That’s probably the best review I’ve heard so far. All the other dudes here agree that it was Grade C faux-feminist girl power trash.”
Kara feels the urge to protect Lena rear its head once more.
“Maybe,” she says through gritted teeth, “the boys in here don’t really appreciate a story told by and for women.”
He rolls his eyes. “Sure, sweetheart, if you say so. Where do you work again?”
“Catco Magazine,” Kara says with too much pride for somebody who doesn’t actually work at Catco Magazine.
“You’re a Grant robot, of course you loved it.”
“How dare you---”
Before she can give this asshole -- she peers at his name tag, which reads Max -- before she can give Max a piece of her mind, the blonde woman is back and ushering her to a different part of the suite.
Kara sighs with relief when she sees Lena sitting in front of a giant poster with her face plastered on it. That relief is short lived when she realises they’re not alone; a man in a light grey suit stands with his arm resting against the mantle.
“This is…” the blonde woman says, trailing off as though she’s just realised she never asked for Kara’s name.
“Kara,” she supplies. “Kara Danvers.”
“From Catco Magazine,” the blonde finishes.
“Thank you, Eve,” Lena says as she leaves.
“Interesting,” the man says. “I know the regular entertainment reporter at Catco. You’re filling in?”
“Yes, sir. It’s just maternity leave cover. I’ll be gone before you know it.”
“Huh, I didn’t know Snapper Carr was pregnant,” he replies, eyeing Kara suspiciously.
Lena clears her throat, getting both of their attention.
“You have seven minutes,” he says to both of them, before leaving them alone at last.
“That’s my manager, Doug,” she says even though Kara doesn’t ask. Kara sits down across from her.
“So I’m interviewing you now?” Kara says.
“I’m so sorry,” Lena replies. “I thought it would be over by now but we had to start late and now--”
“It’s fine,” Kara assures her. “I’m just happy I get to see you again. Oh! These are for you.”
She hands her the daisies and a smile slowly spreads across Lena’s face.
“I know they’re not much--” Kara begins to say, but Lena cuts her off.
“So you go by Aang Airbender when you stay in hotels?” Kara asks, trying desperately to keep the atmosphere light.
“I’ve been going by cartoon characters since I accidentally used my real name and got stalked non-stop for weeks.”
“Yikes. That’s… A lot.”
“So,” Lena says, changing the subject as quickly as she can, “was it really your roommate’s fault, or were you just playing it cool?”
“Lena, never in my entire life have I ever played it cool,” Kara says earnestly, earning a warm smile. “I don’t think I would even know how.”
“Okay, that’s good to know. Great to know, actually.”
Before they can continue the conversation, Doug enters the room again and shuts the door behind him. He settles against it, overseeing them both.
“Uh, do you think your background in science helps with or influences the sci-fi aspects of your films?”
“Well this film is based on how I discovered and demilitarised the Harun-El, so yeah, I’d say it definitely does.”
Doug rolls his eyes before leaving the room again.
Kara leans forward, placing a hand on Lena’s knee.
“God, I’m so sorry I’m making a mess of things. I was all confused when I first got here and they just handed me the packet and I didn’t know what to do.”
“Like I said, it’s my fault that this hasn’t ended yet. I sort of… I wanted to apologise for kissing you. I never do anything like that, and it was very unexpected and I wanted to make sure you were okay with it.”
“Oh yeah, totally fine. Completely fine. In fact, if you ever wanna do it again, just assume it will always be fine.”
Lena smirks. “I thought you don’t know how to play cool.”
“I’m a very fast learner,” Kara replies, adjusting her glasses.
The door opens and Doug appears once more.
“Right, so do you like doing movies about science? Will- will science feature in your next project?”
Kara’s grateful that her back is to Doug, and he can’t see the panic on her face. Unfortunately, the mirth in Lena’s expression suggests she’s enjoying Kara’s discomfort way too much.
“My next project is a Marie Curie biopic, so I think it’s safe to say there’ll be some science involved.”
He leaves again. Kara sighs, somewhere in between relief and horror.
“I’m so sorry. I’m such an idiot. It’s just, I don’t know how to act right now. This stuff doesn’t happen in real life. It’s a dream, you’re a dream.”
“And what happens next in a dream?” Lena asks. Kara’s suddenly very aware that she’s still got her hand on Lena’s knee.
“I guess what happens next, in a good dream, is that I get to kiss the very beautiful woman who’s sitting right across from me.”
Kara leans in slightly, as does Lena, hesitant to move too quickly, and yet it’s taking everything in Kara’s power not to just kiss her. She feels like a magnet, so drawn and connected to Lena, and being so close to her -- and resisting that pull -- is agony.
The door opens yet again and Kara swears she’s never hated men more than she has today. She and Lena (very reluctantly on Kara’s part) pull away from each other.
“Sorry, time’s up,” he says, even though he doesn’t sound sorry. Kara stands up, readying herself to leave.
“Maybe we have time for one more question,” he says, backtracking. Kara looks up to see Lena glaring at him ferociously. It’s nice to know, she thinks, that Lena wants to spend time with her, too.
Lena softens immediately once he’s gone.
“One last question,” she says. “Better make it count.”
“Are you free tonight?” Kara says, taking a chance.
Lena hesitates, her face falling. “No.”
“Right. No worries.”
Doug comes in one last time, unaware that Lena had already brought their conversation to a grinding halt. Another journalist stands just behind him, and Kara rolls her eyes; it’s Max from earlier. She hopes Lena tears him to shreds.
“It was nice to meet you,” Lena says, holding out her hand. Kara shakes it. “Surreal, but nice.”
Kara weaves through the suite, avoiding the multitude of people, trying to get out of there before she inexplicably bursts into tears. She doesn’t know why she wants to cry, but that choking feeling rests at the top of her chest, threatening to rear its head. Why does Lena do this to her? She’s only met the damn woman twice. She shouldn’t be this upset by her rejection.
Before she can make it to the hotel hallway, she feels a tap on her shoulder. The woman - Eve, Kara thinks her name is - stands there expectantly.
“Yes?” Kara answers wearily.
“Have you got a moment?”
She leads her back to Lena’s room. They bypass an annoyed Max, and Kara smirks despite herself.
Lena stands in the middle of the room, wringing her hands. Eve shuts the door behind her.
“Did I forget something?” Kara asks.
“I’m free. Tonight. Tonight, I’m free.” Kara’s not used to Lena being the rambly one. It feels sort of nice. “I told them to clear my schedule. So, I’m, uh, free.”
“So you said,” Kara laughs, before immediately groaning. “Fuck. Shit. Gosh darn it.”
Lena raises her eyebrow, as though she didn’t really think Kara could actually swear, well, if you could count ‘gosh darnit’ as a swear.
“It’s my little sister’s birthday dinner tonight. She’s not actually my sister, I’ve just known her literally forever and we started fostering her whe--”
“Okay,” Lena says, cutting her off.
“I’ll cancel,” Kara promises. “I’ll tell her something’s come up, she’ll for sure understand.”
“No, I mean okay as in I’ll go to your sister’s birthday with you. As your date.”
Kara frowns. She’s confused. “You… want to go to my little sister’s birthday dinner?”
“If that’s alright with you.”
“Of course it is!” Kara says quickly. “I just. Wow, okay. I think I need to warn you that my sister-in-law is cooking and it’s been known to end very badly. She’s married to my older sister who actually is my sister, not my younger sister. Right. So if you go hungry tonight it’s not my fault.”
“Noted,” Lena says, visibly more nervous than she was just moments ago.
“I can wait for you downstairs, if you’d like. We can go together.”
Lena smiles. “It’s a date.”
The smell of smoke and a loud “fuck!” greets them before anything else.
Maggie answers the door, throwing a quick “hey” over her shoulder as she immediately heads back to the kitchen.
“Food disaster?” Kara calls out, shrugging off her coat and hanging it on the hook by the door. She takes Lena’s from her as well, and is thrown off by how expensive it feels . She leads Lena down the narrow hallway and into the living room attached to the kitchen.
“Not a disaster,” Maggie huffs. “Just a slight misstep.”
“She decided to make an entire turkey,” Alex says, rolling into the room. Kara glances to Lena, trying to gauge her reaction to Alex’s wheelchair; Mike, her ex-husband, had always been weird about it. To Lena’s credit, she doesn’t react at all.
“Hi, I’m Alex,” she greets, shaking Lena’s hand. “Wow, you know you look exactly like--”
“Alex,” Kara interrupts, “this is my friend Lena.”
Alex freezes, still holding onto Lena’s hand.
“Sure,” Alex says, her voice significantly higher.
Maggie ambles into the living room, two glasses of wine in her hand. She breathes a sigh of relief.
“Crisis averted,” she says to the room, “we still have a dinner.” And then her eyes focus on Lena and her jaw goes slack.
“You’re Lena…” she pauses. For a while. Kara wonders if she’s forgotten how to speak. “Luthor.”
“Hi,” Lena says warmly. For once, Kara’s thankful not to be on the end of that show stopping smile.
Maggie thrusts one of the glasses into Lena’s hand without a word. Kara goes to take the other from her, but Maggie’s already started downing it.
They stand in an awkward silence as Alex and Maggie try and process what’s happening. The doorbell rings.
“I’ll get it!” Kara says, ignoring the panicked look Lena throws her and heading down the hall.
She opens the door, and Nia stands on the front steps. She beams when she sees Kara, doing a twirl to show off her dress.
“It’s lovely,” Kara says, standing aside so Nia can enter. She kisses her on the cheek. “Happy birthday.”
“Why thank you!”
“Listen, Nia. I’ve brought someone to dinner,” Kara says, hoping to warn her before she gets a shock.
“Yeah, Alex told me!” she says brightly, bounding down the hallway. “I didn’t know you’d put that booty back on the market. I hope she’s ho--”
Nia’s words die as she comes face to face with Lena in the living room.
“Holy fuck,” she says.
“Nia,” Kara says, stepping between them, “This is my friend, Lena. Lena, this is my little sister Nia.”
“Nice to meet you,” Lena says politely.
“Can I just say that I fucking adore you,” Nia breathes. “You are one of the greatest actors of our generation and you are so totally gorgeous it’s insane and I once had a dream -- and now I think it may be a premonition -- that we were best friends, and I think we really could be best friends, you know?”
“Er, happy birthday?” Lena says, holding out the small gift she’d brought along with her. Nia shrieks and throws her arms around her.
“We’re best friends already!” she gasps. “You know, if you married Kara we could be sisters.”
Kara goes bright red, and she shoves Nia.
Lena laughs. “I’ll keep it in mind.”
The doorbell rings once more and this time Maggie makes a dash for it before Kara gets a chance.
“So how did you two meet?” Alex asks, feigning innocence.
“I bought a book from her shop,” Lena replies.
“Not a very good one,” Kara jokes.
“Hello everybody,” Brainy says from the doorway, and they fall into silence, all wanting to see his reaction.
“Brainy, this is Lena,” Kara introduces.
“Lovely to meet you, Lena,” Brainy says. He turns to Nia, who looks at him like he’s insane.
“Happy birthday, Nia. I got you a scarf.” He hands her a present. “Can we eat please? I’m starving.”
“Food’s almost ready,” Maggie says slowly. “Kara, you can set the table. Nia, you can help.” A cry sounds out from down the hall.
“I got him,” Alex says, as she heads down the hall.
Kara watches Lena out of the corner of her eye as she sets the table, making sure she’s okay. She’s settled into a comfortable chat with Brainy, Kara assumes about science, probably their only shared interest.
Alex emerges from the bedroom ten minutes later, with a red-faced two year old in her lap, leaning against her chest. He has light blond, bedraggled hair and he rubs his bright blue eyes as he’s wheeled into the bright room.
“Somebody didn’t want to go back to sleep,” Alex sighs, and Kara rushes forward to sweep her nephew up into her arms.
“Hey, Theo,” she says softly, pressing a kiss to his sweaty cheek. Kara loves her whole family, but she loves Theo just slightly more (though she’d never say that to Alex). The two of them had a special bond, which yeah, Kara knows is strange to say about a two year old, but it’s true. She’s not sure if she believes in love at first sight, but that’s how it was with Theo. And shortly after his birth, in the aftermath of Alex’s accident, she spent a lot of time with him while Maggie was with Alex at the hospital.
She’s so engrossed by her nephew, she doesn’t notice the way Lena’s eyes follow her around the room, nor how she smiles as Kara makes Theo laugh with a silly face.
(Lena doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but now she thinks that maybe love at second meeting is something that exists.)
“Dinner’s ready,” Maggie calls out.
“Could you point out the restroom, please?” Lena asks her.
“We’ll show you,” Kara says, balancing Theo on her hip. He rests his head against her shoulder. Kara takes a spur-of-the-moment gamble and takes Lena’s hand, leading her out of the room.
“I’m sorry about my family,” Kara whispers, knowing they’re in the kitchen trying desperately to eavesdrop.
“They’re great,” Lena says, running a finger along Theo’s cheek. He pouts at her, and Kara feels her heart swell as she watches Lena interact with Theo.
This is all she wants, somebody to love and a kid or two running around. She thought she’d have that with Mike. But now, for some crazy, insane reason, she can’t really imagine ever having it with anybody but Lena.
“I’ll see you at the table then,” Kara says, excusing herself and giving Lena her privacy. Theo whines at the loss of contact from Lena.
“Same, buddy,” Kara tells him. She walks back into the living room and they’re all staring at her. She stares back.
“What the fuck!” Alex hisses. “You and Lena Luthor??”
Brainy chokes on his beer. “That’s Lena Luthor????”
“You are truly the dumbest person I know,” Nia says, messing up his hair affectionately.
“She seems great,” Alex says. Kara hands her Theo; he’s getting too heavy, even for her.
“She’s wonderful,” Kara agrees, “but maybe we shouldn’t talk about her while she’s in the other room?”
“Have you had sex yet?” Maggie asks, sipping her wine innocently.
“Ew,” Alex and Nia say at the same time.
“That’s inappropriate,” Kara says. “And even if we had, my sex life is strictly my own business.”
“And Lena’s,” Brainy offers, hi-fiving a laughing Maggie.
“What about me?” Lena asks, reentering the room.
“Just waiting for you before we start,” Alex says, saving all of their asses.
Dinner itself - surprisingly - goes off without any major incidents. The turkey’s decent and the salads are great and the conversation’s even better.
And when they reach the end of the night - Theo having been put back to bed earlier - Maggie offers them all tea and coffee. Kara doesn’t really want the night to end; not only is she enjoying her family’s company, but she doesn’t want to have to say goodbye to Lena. She says yes to a coffee.
“I gotta tell you, Lena,” Alex says, taking a sip of her tea, “meeting you has reinforced my theory that we are the biggest bunch of losers out there.”
They all laugh, except Lena who says,
“You’re not losers!”
“You don’t have to be nice,” Alex continues. “In fact I’ll give the last chocolate chip cookie to the saddest case here.”
As if perfectly rehearsed, they all turn to Brainy.
“Well I know it’s me,” he says. “I work for a company that refuses to acknowledge my brilliance and I can feel my brain atrophy on a daily basis. I haven’t had a girlfriend since god knows when--”
Kara swears she sees Nia blush.
“-- not to mention my hair does this weird flicky thing that I can’t control.”
“At least you get paid at your job,” Nia says, stepping up to the plate. “I’m working an entry-level assistant’s job and I make such shitty money I still live with my foster mom, who was too busy to come to my own birthday dinner. And the other day, I accidentally heard her having sex with Mr Jones from next door.”
“JONN JONES!?” Kara and Alex yell at the same time.
“That really sullen dude?” Maggie says, gagging.
“So yeah, I win. Biggest loser,” Nia says.
“On the other hand,” Alex says, “your best friend is Lena Luthor.”
“This is true,” Lena says.
“And with the sometimes exception of your head,” Alex continues, “all of your limbs work. I, on the other hand, am stuck in this ramp-filled house. I can’t play with my son the way he wants me to because I can’t walk. I can’t do my job, either, the one I was fucking great at. And worst of all, I’ve had to fill in mountains of paperwork for months and I think I’m getting carpal tunnel. And it’s all for nothing, because our adoption agent said that with all my health issues, we probably won’t be able to adopt again.”
The table falls into silence. Kara reaches across the table and puts her hand on Alex’s.
“But at least I get that damn cookie.”
“I don’t know,” Maggie says slowly, a mischievous grin spreading across her face. “What about Kara? She’s got a bookstore that’s hemorrhaging money. She’s divorced. She’s a little too ripped, if you know what I mean. Her eyesight is failing her and for some reason she’s had the same pair of glasses since she was twelve. Oh, and she never really got over her N*SYNC phase.”
“So it’s agreed then,” Kara says triumphantly, reaching for the cookie. “I’m the saddest case here.”
“But what about me?” Lena says, and they all turn to look at her.
“You?” Maggie asks. “You think you deserve this Saddest Case Cookie?”
“At least a chance to win,” Lena replies.
“Better play hard,” Kara warns her. “I won’t let go of this cookie easily.”
“Well, I’ve been in this industry since I was fifteen, which means I’ve been on a diet for almost half my life. My family was borderline abusive, and we’re now estranged, so I’m lonely most of the time. I put myself through college and experienced the sexism and sexual harassment every female STEM major goes through. Every time I so much as breathe the wrong way, it’s front page news. I get stalked by photographers hoping to make a couple grand. And one day, not too far from now, they’ll discover I can’t really act and I’ll say something wrong and they’ll stop putting me in movies. And then I’ll just be somebody who used to be famous.”
They’re quiet for a moment, digesting Lena’s words. And then,
“Nice try, Irish,” Maggie scoffs. “No way it’s yours.”
“Poor effort,” Alex agrees.
Kara breaks off a bit of the cookie and pops it into her mouth.
And when everybody else stops paying attention, she slips half of it to Lena under the table.
The night air is unseasonably warm, and Kara - ever the gentlewoman - carries both of their jackets. They walk closely together, their arms brushing against one another, neither of them ready to initiate more contact than that.
“Can I ask something?” Lena says, breaking the calm silence of late night suburbia.
“Why is Alex in a wheelchair?”
“She was in an accident almost two years ago.”
“And what did she do before?”
“She worked for a secret government agency,” Kara says seriously, and Lena laughs.
She stops short when she sees Kara isn’t joking.
“You’re not kidding?”
Kara shakes her head. “Not even I know what it is she used to do. But then right after Theo was born she had her accident and obviously she can’t be in the field anymore. She stayed on as a consultant, but she misses being properly in the thick of things.”
“I really like your family,” Lena says earnestly. “They’re wonderful.”
“They are pretty great,” Kara agrees.
“I do have one complaint, though,” Lena says, and Kara sighs, stopping in her tracks.
“It’s Nia isn’t it? She always comes on too strong. She hugged you for like forty seconds when we left and I knew I should’ve--”
“Kara,” Lena laughs. “It’s not Nia.”
“Then what is it?”
“You called me your friend. Twice. It felt weird.”
Kara frowns. “Are we not friends?”
“I don’t know,” Lena shrugs. “All I know is that a lot of the thoughts I have about you are definitely not friendly.”
“Kara.” Lena turns so she’s facing her. In the light of the streetlamps, Kara can see the green flecks in her eyes, the smattering of freckles across her nose.
“I want you to kiss me,” she whispers.
The night around them is still, no breeze, no sound, nothing. And in the midst of it all, Kara Danvers leans down ever so slightly and kisses Lena Luthor. Her lips are as soft as Kara remembers, and the kiss feels just as electric as it did the first time. It’s tender and it’s familiar and Kara doesn’t care that she can barely breathe.
All too soon they pull apart, and Lena laughs at the way Kara’s glasses have fogged up.
“Would you like to come back to my place?” Kara asks. “I have good coffee.”
Lena smiles. “Goodnight, Kara.”
And then she walks away, and Kara watches her go.
Kara gets a text as she gets home.
I’m more of a see-the-house-on-the-second-date kind of girl.
Kara grins as she types her reply.
So when’s the second date?
Their second date is having sex in the back of Kara’s shop.
But their third date is sushi. Stupid, ridiculously fancy sushi from some tiny boutique place Kara’s always been too poor to try.
But Lena insists on choosing the place and paying for dinner because “it’s only fair” and “yeah you didn’t pay for last time but just shut up okay?”
Yet again, Kara feels out of place in Lena’s world. She’s worn her nicest pants and button down shirt, but it doesn’t really help. She feels like she’s playing dress up beside Lena, who wears a form-fitting black dress which screams elegance. And maybe she’s reading too much into things, but their waiter hasn’t looked at her once, only talking to Lena who cruises through the menu with a practiced ease.
(Kara doesn’t really blame the waiter; she had stuttered over the correct pronunciation of sake soon after they sat down and Lena is clearly the more experienced one at the table. Not to mention her boobs look phenomenal in that dress.)
“Can I ask you something?” Kara says when they’re alone, playing with the chopsticks that the waiter had put on the table.
“Is it wildly inappropriate and too intimate for a second date?”
“Oh definitely,” Kara says, nodding vigorously. “But also you’ve met my family which is usually a dating-for-three-months activity.”
Lena snorts. “I find it hard to believe you manage to keep your family at bay for three months. They’d be knocking down your door like two weeks in.”
“Oh, you think you know us so well, huh?” Kara says in a teasing tone.
“Well Nia did say she loved me more than she loves you.”
“You’re really good at avoiding questions, and the only answer you could possibly give to my question is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
Lena raises an eyebrow, and Kara returns the gesture. They hold each other’s stare for a moment too long. Lena looks away first.
“Fine. Yes, you can ask me what is bound to be an incredibly personal, line-crossing question.”
“Why are you and your family estranged?”
“A lot of reasons. Mostly they always saw acting as being beneath me. I’m sure you know my brother runs Luthor Corp, and I was always supposed to work in the family business. They didn’t take it well when I told them I wanted to act.”
Kara chokes on her drink. “You’re a Luthor like Lex Luthor?” she squeaks.
“You really didn’t know that??”
“I don’t really follow, like celebrity stuff? I sort of just know what Nia tells me. So your family’s mad you’re not taking over Luthor Corp.”
“Among other things. I was adopted. Sort of. My father had an affair with my mother and I was born, and then my mother died and I was adopted by my father’s real family.”
“That’s a lot.”
“Yeah. So I spent my childhood treading around my home, trying not to kick up a fuss. And when I turned fifteen, a family friend asked me to be in a film of his. Naturally my mother couldn’t say no to Mr. Spielberg.”
“I’m just gonna ignore that name drop and let you keep going.”
“Very kind of you. Once I was in that movie, it was it. I knew I wanted to act. Started making steady money and I think my mother - adoptive mother - was mad that I had found this thing I was good at and that I loved; it meant I wasn’t suffering enough. Anyway she kicked me out the second I turned eighteen. I put myself through college, I did some important work during my PhD research which made my mother even madder. Because I still came back to acting at the end of the day.”
“You’re a very impressive person, Lena.” Kara reaches across the table to take Lena’s hand in hers. But as she does so, Lena pulls her own hand away, as though scorched by the potential of Kara’s touch.
“Tell me one of your war wounds,” she says, clearly trying to divert Kara’s attention. “Why did you get a divorce?”
“He cheated on me,” she replies, no malice in her voice; it feels like ancient history now. “We weren’t married for that long. I thought I loved him so much. I thought he was the love of my life. But now… I don’t know. Things are different now. I’m not sure what I felt or if it was real or what.”
“He’s a fool for losing you.”
“I’m the fool, for letting him have me in the first place.”
“I can’t remember,” Lena says, “I can’t remember the last time I really loved somebody. I had a string of boyfriends set up by my management, none of whom meant anything obviously. Pretty much any time a man opens his mouth, he says something that both disgusts and insults me and yet I’m supposed to be dating one for the tabloids to see. And I’m sick of it, pretending I’m interested in men. When you start in this business when you’re fifteen, you learn how to block out people telling you how badly they want to rail you. They tell you they can’t wait ‘til you turn eighteen so they can put their… themselves… inside you. You hear such horrible things. And then on the other hand, every other article is calling you a prude for some reason or another. This industry, the media, the men of the world in general… none of them care about women, let alone girls. We fend for ourselves and we grow thick skin and we hope to find somebody that is just a little less worse than the rest of them.”
Kara feels her face go red, anger coursing through her.
“I’m so sorry you have to hear people talk like that.”
“It’s not your fault, Kara.”
“I know. It’s just.” Kara leans forward, just a bit. She puts her hand on the table; she knows Lena doesn’t want to touch her, at least this publicly, but she has to let her know that she’s here, that she wants to.
“People don’t deserve you,” Kara says, shaking her head. “There’s no part of your life that’s private. You give us your movies and your pictures in magazines. Your movies are phenomenal and then on top of that your science research saves millions of lives… You give so much of yourself and all you get in return is people treating you like shit. The world doesn’t deserve you, it really doesn’t.”
“You’re right,” Lena says. “I give too much of myself. But… I have some things that they don’t get to see. I have my friendships, I have my thoughts.” Lena pauses, reaching across the table and resting her hand atop Kara’s.
“I have you,” she says, and it feels like electricity to Kara - the words, her touch, all of it.
“I’m yours,” Kara says accidentally. She didn’t really intend for those words to come out of her mouth, but as she sees the smile that crosses Lena’s face, she doesn’t regret it. And not for the first time, it feels like whatever’s happening between the two of them is so much bigger than just right now. It feels monumental, years in the making, kismet inspired shit that doesn’t make sense and would normally have Kara running for the hills. She doubles down on it. “I’m yours for as long as you’ll have me.”
Lena bites her lip.
“Would you like to come back to my room?”
And for the first time ever, Kara leaves a restaurant before having dessert.
Kara thinks she might explode.
Excitement runs through her veins, but there’s also something more -- a sense of anticipation that she’s seldom felt before. She’s nervous, sure, but mostly it’s like she’s just finally realised how much she needs to fuck Lena.
Her entire body feels tense, ready for release of the best kind. She fidgets in the back of the taxi, twisting the ring on her finger as she tries to ignore the suffocating sexual tension between her and Lena. The taxi driver had recognised Lena the moment she got into the taxi, which means no backseat fooling around. Instead, Lena casually slides her hand across onto the middle seat. Kara does the same, letting their pinkies rest side by side. And then slowly she links them, trying to convey impossible feelings with the smallest touch.
Lena throws a hundred dollar note at the driver as the pull up in front of the Ritz, and the two of them slide out of the cab as quickly as they can.
They stand under the bright lights of the city night, both just a little out of breath. Kara can see the hunger in Lena’s eyes, the same hunger she’s sure is reflected in her own.
“I’ll go up first,” Lena breathes, and a chill runs through Kara. “You come up in five minutes.”
Kara nods, the ability to form words long gone. She wishes she could just take Lena’s hand now and follow her up there. She wishes she could fuck her in the elevator and try make her cum in the fifty-eight seconds it takes to get to the penthouse suite.
Instead, she waits downstairs as patiently as she can, trying to look as unsuspicious as possible. And then, after the longest five minutes of her life, Kara storms towards the elevator, and almost breaks the button as she slams it repeatedly.
And then finally she’s rapping on Lena’s door and goddamn she’s taking too long to answer.
“Kara,” she says finally, pulling the door open. Kara surges forward to finally kiss her again, but she’s stopped by the firm hand Lena places on her chest. “Kara I am so sorry.”
“What’s going on?” Kara asks. Panic rises in her chest at the look on Lena’s face, the look that says ‘everything’s gone to hell’.
“My boyfriend’s here.”
“Your boyfriend ?” Kara hisses.
“Yes, my boyfriend who I thought was back home.”
“But you’re a les--”
“He’s my boyfriend who’s been my beard for two years. I told you at dinner that I have to do this.”
“You implied it was something you’ve done in the past, not something you’re doing right now!”
“I’m sorry, Kara. You have to go, he can’t know about this?”
“He’s your beard, why is he so invested?”
“I’m sure I can keep up.”
“NDAs have been signed, other contracts too. If anybody knows about either of us it’ll ruin both our careers and reputations, not to mention I’d lose a whole lot of money for breaking the contract and going out with someone else.”
Kara feels her heart drop. “So I’m just some contract clause to you?”
“Who’s at the door, honey?”
Lena’s boyfriend - somebody Kara could’ve spent her entire life never meeting - walks in from the next room, and of course it’s English sweetheart Jack Spheer. Kara doesn’t know a lot about pop culture but even she knows that Jack is one of those too-good-to-be-true famous people who are down to earth and funny and also incredibly good looking. She thinks she remembers seeing some endearing clip of him on Jimmy Fallon one time that had over twenty million views.
Naturally, she hates him.
“Hi,” he says, offering out his hand. “I’m Jack.”
“It’s just my driver,” Lena whispers, and Kara feels those words like a cold slap in the face, sharp and unforgiving and more painful than she could’ve imagined. “I left something in the car.”
“Oh, no worries. Babe, I’m gonna hop in the shower if you wanna join when you’re done.”
He takes off his shirt as he leaves the room and Kara feels sick.
“It’s just part of the act,” Lena says softly, as if that would make this hurt any less.
“It’s all just part of the act for you, isn’t it?” Kara replies. “Do you ever know when it stops?” She goes to walk away.
Kara whirls back around.
“I-- I don’t know what to say,” Lena says. “I just didn’t want you to leave.”
“I guess we don’t always get what we want,” Kara says. “And I think the word you’re looking for is ‘goodbye.’”
Kara doesn’t turn back around this time. She walks to the elevator, and the last thing she sees as the doors close is Lena crying in her doorway.
But Kara doesn’t cry.
She calmly hails a cab and gives the address and drives in silence.
She pays the driver and she rummages around for the hidden key in their front garden.
She heads up the stairs and into her sister’s bedroom, like she used to do for the first month after her divorce.
“Kara?” Alex says groggily, as Kara climbs in bed beside her. Maggie groans into her pillow.
“What happened?” Alex asks.
It’s only then, obscenely late in her sister’s bed, that Kara lets herself cry.
And once she starts, she’s not sure she’ll ever stop.
She sleeps on Alex and Maggie’s couch for a couple of nights. They don’t really talk about what happened,
Lena doesn’t call, but Nia messages her and tells her she saw online that Lena had left town. Kara supposes she’ll never see Lena again. Good riddance.
“I can’t believe she hid the boyfriend thing from me,” Kara says as she tries to cut into the very-well-done steak Alex has made for her. She doesn’t miss the look that Alex and Maggie give each other. She puts down her knife.
“What?” Kara says. “You knew?”
“The whole damn world knows,” Maggie says through a mouthful of chewy steak. “They’re always on the cover of every magazine, going on dates and getting caught kissing on beaches.”
“Why didn’t you say anything!”
Alex shrugs. “We assumed you knew what you were getting yourself into.”
“Note to self,” Maggie says, talking into her phone as she pretends to take down the memo. “Never trust that Kara knows anything. Always assume she knows nothing.”
“I do know nothing!” Kara exclaims. “And that’s why I’m in this damn mess! My entire life turned upside down because I don’t read US Weekly. Absolutely fantastic.”
“Maybe it’s better this way,” Alex says. “Mortal beings getting involved in the dealings of gods and goddesses never works out for the mortal.”
“So she’s a goddess.”
“Oh, yeah, totally,” Maggie butts in, as though it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “But don’t worry. We’ve got just the thing to make you forget all about her.”
“A mind-swipey thing from Men in Black?”
“Sarah who works in Forensics at my precinct,” Maggie says. “She’s cute, smart, funny. Definitely your type.”
“I don’t know. I don’t really wanna--”
“She’s not coming back, Kara, and you need to move on. Just go on one date with Sarah!”
She goes on a date with Sarah. And one with Audrey. And one with Ashe.
They’re all smart. They’re all beautiful and good company.
But none of them are Lena.
Kara opens the door of her home to find a half-naked Vasquez, something not terribly surprising; Kara got used to seeing Vasquez’s boobs a long time ago. What is surprising, however, are the scuba goggles squashing her face.
“You all good, V?” Kara asks, dropping her keys into the bowl by the door. The keys fall straight to the floor. The bowl is gone, as is the small table it sat on. “Where’s my table? The antique table Eliza gave me for Chanukah?”
“Ah, right. I’ve done some rearranging,” Vasquez says, more nasal than usual. “Hope you don’t mind.”
“You know what?” Kara says, her voice rising. She throws her bags to the floor. “I do mind! I mind that you never clean up after yourself and you always have random women in here at all hours of the day and you move shit around without asking me first!”
Vasquez is silent. Kara isn’t finished.
“You’re sloppy, you never pay rent on time, and I’m so sick of your artworks and supplies littering every damn room of this house! Not to mention, you’re a really shit friend!”
Vasquez pulls the goggles off her eyes with a sigh and perches them atop her head. “You finished?”
“Yes,” Kara says with a small nod of her head. “Sorry.”
“I know you’re upset over this girl,” Vasquez says. “She must really be something if you’re this worked up. You’ve never yelled at me, not even when you were in the middle of divorcing Mark.”
“Mike,” Kara corrects.
“Who cares what that douchebag’s name is. But Lena… you can scream at me as long as you need to, if it helps you forget her.”
“I don’t think I could ever forget her,” Kara says quietly. Vasquez steps forward, resting a hand on Kara’s shoulder. Kara tries to ignore the fact she’s only wearing a pair of holey underwear.
“Speaking from experience,” Vasquez says with a sad smile. “You never do forget the important ones.”
“Who can’t you forget?”
“It doesn’t matter. But just know it gets better.”
Kara sighs as she bends down to pick up her things, avoiding Vasquez’s crotch at all costs. She spots a newspaper sitting by the door, Lena’s face staring up at her from the front page. Two dimensions just doesn’t do her justice. The picture can’t capture the smell of her perfume that lingers once she’s gone. It doesn’t show the depth of her eyes and the multitudes they hold, nor their hesitant kindness. Lena is so much more than anybody knows, and Kara misses every inch of her.
She stands back up, eyes pooling with tears. It’s not fair, she thinks, that the universe had handed her the perfect woman and then just took her away. She wishes she had never met Lena, that her life had remained perfectly ordinary. She had been happy. She was happy. She wants to be happy.
She pulls her phone from her back pocket and taps out a quick message to Alex.
Set me up with Kayla please.
Alex replies almost instantaneously.
“So how was the date?” Maggie asks over their weekly Sunday night dinner. Well technically, it’s after dinner. Kara, Maggie, Nia and Alex sit on the couches, the soft red light of a summer sunset bathing the living room. Theo lies across Kara’s lap half asleep, and she runs a hand through his soft blond hair.
“The one with Kayla? It was perfect. She is, for all intents and purposes, incredible.”
“Why do I feel like there’s a ‘but’ coming?” Nia mutters into her wine, ignoring the look Kara shoots her.
“Well it’s just… I’m in this strange position where I’ve met an actual real life goddess and now everybody else pales in comparison.”
“Lena’s been gone for weeks,” Alex says. “And like you said, Kayla is amazing--”
“That’s the thing, Alex. It’s so easy for you to say Kayla’s amazing and I should try it out or whatever. But do you know how hard it is to find the real thing? Someone you have chemistry with, who can love you back the way you love them. I thought I found it and then I got divorced. And then I found Lena, and it felt better than it ever felt with Mike. And I don’t know how to make sense of it!”
“You didn’t even know her for that long,” Maggie offers. “Maybe you built things up to more than they were?”
Nia snorts. “You and Alex got engaged four weeks after you started dating.”
“Not helping,” Maggie tells her.
“No, but she’s right!” Kara exclaims. “You met your soulmate when you were twenty years old! And everybody thought you were insane because you were engaged after a month and married after six more and now you’ve been happily married for more than a decade.”
“The difference is,” Alex says in a way that Kara knows is going to kill her. “Maggie and I chose each other. Lena chose to leave.”
It wasn’t like that, Kara wants to say. I’m the one who walked away.
Instead, she stands slowly, struggling to shift Theo’s weight from her lap to her shoulder.
“I’ll go put him to bed,” she says.
“No, it’s fine. I’m fine.”
She carries Theo to his room and gently lays him in his crib. She watches as his chest rises and falls, the way his messy hair falls over his face. Not for the first time since Theo’s birth, Kara yearns for him, or at least, a baby like him. All she wants is a family, lots of kids and a house in a big yard for them to play in.
Later that night, as she watches Maggie carry Alex up the stairs to bed, Kara yearns for the type of love you do anything for, that survives anything you throw at it. She yearns for that big, life changing love, the one she was sure she was about to find.
And then, when she’s home in her own bed, she lets herself yearn for Lena.
She’s woken by the doorbell five minutes before her alarm is scheduled to go off, which, alongside having your heart broken by a movie star, is one of the worst things that can happen to a person.
Kara blindly grabs for her glasses and slips them on her face. The doorbell rings again.
She slowly gets up out of bed and picks up a t-shirt from her bedroom floor, pulling it over her head with a yawn. The doorbell rings a third time. And then a fourth.
With a huff, she heads downstairs. They want her to answer the door so badly, well then they’ll just have to put up with her not wearing any pants. She pulls the door open with more force than necessary.
“Can I come in?”
Oversized sunglasses cover most of her face, but Kara can still see the way Lena’s gaze drops to look at her lack of pants.
“Uh, yeah, please.”
They settle around the kitchen table, Lena with a tea that Kara practically forces onto her, and Kara with a much-too-strong coffee. Lena looks older, wearier than she had before; the sadness she had kept confined to her eyes has seeped into her shoulders and the rest of her being. She looks tired. She looks like she has such little fight left.
“What happened?” Kara asks. At the first sight of tears, she resists the urge to reach across the table and hold Lena’s hand.
“Leaked pictures of a photoshoot I did when I was barely legal. The photographer was an old family friend, he told me it would make me sophisticated or something and I believed him because I was young and stupid.”
“And they’re just coming out now?”
“Eve found out about them--”
Lena nods. “She found out about them, tracked them down, and sent them to my brother because apparently they’ve been sleeping together for years.”
“Gross. That. That really fucking sucks.”
Lena laughs, and Kara assumes it’s for the first time in a while. “You’re right. It really fucking sucks. I’ve worked so hard for my reputation and now this is all anybody’s talking about. The hotel’s surrounded by paps, I didn’t know where else to go.”
“Well just let me know what I can do,” Kara says earnestly. “Another tea, a bath--”
Lena puts up a hand, cutting her off. “A bath sounds great, actually.”
(Kara finds it very difficult focusing on anything knowing that Lena is in her house, naked and wet.)
They settle in the kitchen once again, Lena refreshed and wearing a pair of Kara’s sweatpants and a t-shirt. Kara learns several things all at once. Lena likes her toast with plenty of butter and jam, and she judges Kara’s much-too-thick Nutella spread. Lena leaves any room she’s in immaculately tidy, so now Kara’s bathroom is spotless and she can already see Lena eyeing the dirty plates in the kitchen sink. Lena looks way too good in sweatpants and a t-shirt. God, she’s missed her, so so much.
“I’m sorry about last time,” Lena says through a bite of her toast. Kara can tell she’s trying to remain nonchalant. “I didn’t know Jack would be visiting me.”
“It’s okay,” Kara smiles. “It’s not every day you get to meet a celebrity like Jack Spheer. Besides, I definitely owe you an apology, too. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.”
“Bygones?” Lena asks, and Kara rolls her eyes playfully.
“How are… things… with Jack going?”
Lena shrugs. “I spoke to him about ending our arrangement and he didn’t seem too fussed about it. I’m sure now that those pictures are out there he’ll want to formally and publicly end things sooner.” She hesitates for a second. “And how’s your, uh, romantic life?”
Kara laughs. “Even more boring than it was before I knew you.”
Lena puts her toast back onto her plate, wiping the crumbs from her hands carefully. “I thought about you while I was gone, you know.”
“I wanted to call you. I wanted to come back. But it’s just. Every time I try to have a normal life with a normal person, they end up suffering. And I didn’t want to do that to you.”
“Yeah, well, I’d gladly suffer for you, Lena,” Kara says half jokingly. “Just name the time and place.”
“How about your living room in about ten minutes time?”
“Uhh--” Kara can feel herself going red. Lena laughs.
“I have to learn my lines, and it’s always easier if somebody helps me. It’s just tedious is all.”
“Happy to help,” Kara says. “But I know somewhere even better.”
Okay, so maybe running through lines on the roof was a bad idea.
They’ve been working on the script for a few hours and the heat of the day is catching up with them. Kara can feel herself fading fast, and she wonders if Lena’s cheeks are red from overheating or if she’s managed to get her very pale skin sunburned despite the gratuitous sunscreen and large hat she insisted on putting on.
“So what do you think?” Lena asks.
“It’s very,” she frowns, searching for the right word. “Heterosexual.”
Lena snorts. “That’s the best you can come up with?”
“It’s just, your character’s inventing a life saving vaccine using alien technology and also fighting off the US government at the same time. And your boyfriend saves you, what, four times? Not to mention there’s like three too many sex scenes for my taste.”
“I didn’t realise you were such a film critic,” Lena says.
“I’m not. I do, however, have a couple of novels I’ve written and then been too scared to submit anywhere, so I somewhat understand storytelling I like to think. And I think the main character of your story should be totally and completely you, not you and the man who keeps saving you and basically stealing your thunder.”
Lena shrugs. “It’s what the studios want to buy.”
“I bet you could sell them something better.”
She raises an eyebrow, and Kara can tell she’s about to be egged on. “You know me so well now, huh?”
“Sometimes you talk and just… I couldn’t dream of writing something as elegant, nor as beautiful.”
“I think you’re biased,” Lena smiles, her nose wrinkling as she does so.
(Kara realises falling in love is as easy as seeing a girl’s smile and watching the way her eyes shine.)
“I always saw you in some sort of Jane Austen adaptation,” Kara says, trying to move the subject away from her Lena-based biases. “Dressed up in Georgian Era outfits with all that complex dialogue.”
“Regency era,” Lena corrects her.
Kara coughs, though it sounds suspiciously like the word ‘nerd.’
“Besides, if you were worried about this script being too heterosexual, I’m not sure nineteenth century England is going to be much better.”
“Well I mean, if it means I get to see you as Elizabeth Bennett, I think I can forgive the fact that Darcy is a mister.”
“Yeah but does Pride and Prejudice have a scene where Elizabeth steals the nuclear codes from the President of the United States?” Lena asks, nodding towards the script in Kara’s hand.
“Well firstly, a spoiler warning would’ve been nice. And second, you’re right. This movie is clearly better than Jane Austen’s entire collection.”
Lena hesitates for a second, and Kara catches it. Lena looks away.
“What?” Kara asks. “What is it?”
“Have you-” she stops herself again. Kara reaches out and puts a hand on Lena’s knee.
“It’s okay,” she says. “You can ask me anything.”
“Have you seen my movies?” Lena asks in a small voice. Kara squeezes her knee.
“What… what was my best role?” she asks, her voice, somehow, even smaller. Kara doesn’t know why Lena’s looking for some sort of approval from her; she’s one of the best actresses the world has to offer, a goddamn superstar. And Kara is just Kara. But she supposes that everybody has their insecurities, even the most beautiful, most intelligent woman she’s ever gazed upon
“Well it used to be Imogen in Summer Nights .”
Kara smiles. “Then I met you and there’s nothing really better than experiencing you in person.” She’s telling the truth, because why would she lie? Kara can’t imagine a better version of Lena than the one that sits in front of her, relaxed and slathered in sunscreen. And it hurts her to think of Lena becoming new characters and wishing she could stay in their bodies and lives. She wants - she needs - Lena to know that she is wonderful, that she is the most exquisite being Kara has ever met.
She wonders momentarily if Lena can read her mind, because she’s staring at her with a funny look in her eyes, her head tilted just slightly to the side. Somehow - Kara assumes they’ve been drifting further and further together - she’s close enough to see the freckles on the bridge of Lena’s nose. She looks down and she can see a bead of sweat sliding down Lena’s clavicle.
The tension between them crackles and burns and she feels her heart rate speed up as Lena licks her lips.They’re mere inches from each other at this point, and Kara feels her entire body tense up, waiting for something, anything to happen.
And then it does.
The roof door is thrown open with a large bang and Lena and Kara pull away from one another with impressive speed. Vasquez stands in the doorway wearing a neon green three piece suit despite the heat.
“Kara I can’t find your grandfather’s pocket watch--” she stops in her tracks, eyeing them both. Kara smiles as she watches recognition finally dawn on Vasquez.
She turns to Kara. “You didn’t tell me the girl you were pining over was Lena fucking Luthor!”
Kara blushes as she glares at Vasquez, and she can feel Lena’s eyes still on her. She can basically hear Lena’s stupid smug smile.
“Actually,” Lena says, “my middle name is Kieran.”
“That’s hot,” Vasquez says, wiggling her eyebrows.
“Okay, Vasquez,” Kara says, standing up, “that’s enough. And you’re not taking my dead grandfather’s antique pocket watch, it’s a family heirloom you fool.”
“You’re no fun,” Vasquez pouts, before shrugging. “See you dorks later.” She disappears as soon as she came, leaving them alone and basking in the still-there tension between them.
“We should finish up,” Kara says. “We can make some lunch.”
“Sounds good to me.
When they’re finally out of the heat, Lena insists on making lunch and Kara is more than happy to let her do it.
Although it turns out that the only thing Lena can make is peanut butter and jelly. Kara thinks it’s the best PB&J she’s ever eaten and she forces Lena to make her two more after she inhales the first.
“I can’t believe you have that painting in your kitchen,” Lena says, nodding her head towards the Marc Chagall print that sits above the table. The background is dark blue and at the forefront is a woman in a red dress and a goat playing the cello. In the background, a chuppah and houses.
Kara laughs as she nods. “My mother’s maiden name is Chagall, she likes to joke that we’re related if you go back far enough and find the right shtetl. I think it’s a Jewish thing, finding a connection to as many like minded people in the world around you and forcing your way in as family.”
“It sounds comforting.”
“That’s why I like the painting, it reminds me of my mom and growing up with my sisters.” Kara hesitates. “She’s worried about you, you know.”
“My mom,” Kara says. “I sort of told her everything; she’s a lot less intense than my sisters, and usually has better advice to offer. And I think she might know your mom from like, science circles or something, and she’s worried you don’t have the love and support you deserve.”
It takes everything Lena has inside of her not to burst into tears right then and there. Instead, she pivots the conversation back to her favorite painting.
“I like it because it feels like how being in love should be: floating through a dark blue sky,” she says, voice strained.
“That’s how you think being in love should be?”
Lena nods curtly. “And how do you think it should be?” It’s a loaded question and one that hangs between them for a few moments while Kara tries to think.
“I think it should be… a sunset or something. I think falling in love is when the world stays exactly the same but then you find this one person who makes your heart feel like it’s glowing in your chest and then they make you see the world in a different, better way. That probably doesn’t make sense.”
“The glowing heart changes your perspective,” Lena offers. “All of a sudden every sunset is the most beautiful one you’ve ever seen, even though technically the sunsets haven’t changed at all.”
“Right!” Kara says. “That’s love. A glowy heart that keeps you going.”
Kara can feel it, her own heart beginning to glow the more time she spends with Lena. She wonders if Lena feels it, too. It glows as they wash up the dishes for lunch, as they spend the afternoon reading on the couch, Lena’s legs curled up, her feet just barely brushing Kara’s thigh.
It glows as Lena defends her favorite film being Casablanca, and even more so when Lena laughs at Kara’s favorite film being Pokemon: The First Movie. Lena’s heart, unbeknownst to Kara, glows as Kara describes crying for the very first time in a movie when Ash Ketchum turns to stone. It glows even more when Kara get over excited about a line of prose in her book and insists on reading it out loud.
And when she hears the way Kara talks of her sisters and their childhood, Lena feels like she’s floating through a dark blue sky: weightless, fearless, and completely in love.
Kara encounters a problem as night falls.
Obviously, she insists that Lena stays the night. All the major hotels in the city are still swarming with paparazzi trying to get a glimpse of her, and anyway, Kara knows that being alone is not something Lena needs right now.
But Kara knows she’s in trouble when she offers to sleep on the couch and Lena replies with a firm,
“Don’t be an idiot, we can share your bed.”
She tries not to think about it while they devour some pizza, nor while they watch a Casablanca-Pokemon Movie double feature.
And she definitely tries not to think about when she gets a text in their friend group chat from Vasquez that reads if kara doesn’t fuck the actress then i swear to god i will , which is followed by about a dozen texts from her sisters asking for updates about the Lena situation.
And then she’s forced to acknowledge it, when she gives Lena a pair of pyjamas. When she quickly pulls on her own boxers and sleep top while Lena changes in the bathroom. When Lena reappears and Kara’s stomach folds in on itself at the sight of Lena in her clothing again.
Lena climbs under the sheets, sighing contently as she lies down. Kara sits at the foot of the bed, on the corner furthest from Lena. But it doesn’t matter how far away she is; she can still feel Lena, feel her presence, feel that she’s close by and yet too far away.
“Maybe I should just go downstairs,” Kara says. “The couch is perfectly comfortable for sleeping.”
Lena huffs and leans up on her elbows. “Why are you being so ridiculous? Just get into bed; I’m tired.”
“It’s just…” Her eyes squeeze shut as she tries to summon the courage she so desperately needs. “The idea of lying that close to you and not being able to touch you… it feels like it might kill me.” Her voice is small and she feels even smaller, unable to even look in Lena’s direction.
And then somehow Lena is in front of her, towering over her.
“Take off your glasses,” Lena commands in a quiet voice, and Kara does as she’s told. Lena reaches down and pulls up the hem of Kara’s shirt. Instinctively, Kara raises her arms and lets Lena pulls off her top. Lena straddles her lap and as much as Kara loves seeing Lena in her clothing, she peels off Lena’s pyjama shirt. And then Lena runs her hands through Kara’s hair and kisses her, somehow already out of breath, her tongue guiding Kara’s with an expertise that - just for a moment - makes Kara pity the string of broken hearts she’s sure Lena’s left behind.
Lena’s hands move down Kara’s back, smoother and more gentle than Mike’s hands ever were. That’s the last time Kara will think about her ex-husband in regards to anything about sex because Lena hooks her thumbs around the waistband of Kara’s shorts and pulls at them. Kara scrambles to get her shorts off and Lena goes to take off her own and Kara can’t really think or feel anything other than !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But she thinks maybe she has a worried look on her face because Lena leans in close and whispers,
It sends a shiver down Kara’s spine and all she can do is nod her head at a ridiculous speed.
Lena pushes her back onto the bed and lightly grazes her thighs her her fingertips. She kisses her again, and then her neck, her stomach, every inch of her body. Then lightly, ever so lightly, she brushes her tongue across Kara’s pulsating clit.
And she helps her relax.
Kara doesn’t know if it’s the sunlight that wakes her up or the ‘son of a bitch!’ that comes from the doorway; all she’s sure of is the fact that Lena’s not in the bed beside her anymore. For a second she’s scared, scared that Lena’s gone for good this time. But then Lena’s handing her a cup of coffee and kissing her on the lips and muttering about how she stubbed her toe and almost spilled the coffee.
“I can’t believe I get to wake up to you,” Kara says. Admiring Lena’s lack of pants she adds, “And I can’t believe I get to see you naked.”
Lena scoffs. “Yeah, you and every idiot with an internet connection.”
“It’s different,” Kara says. “They don’t appreciate your naked form like I do. I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m a bit of a boob connoisseur, and I think I’d like to specialise in yours.”
“You’re an idiot, that’s what you are,” Lena replies, but she can’t stop the wide grin that breaks through.
“You know, waking up next to you feels like I’m still asleep, like I’m dreaming or something.”
Lena kisses Kara again, this time longer, deeper.
“Can I stay here a little longer?” Lena asks her. “Even though you taste like coffee?”
“You can stay here forever,” Kara says earnestly. “But only because you bring me coffee in the morning.”
“You know what’s better than coffee?” She kisses Kara again, taking the cup from her and blindly places it on the bedside table. Kara’s hands find the edge of Lena’s top, tugging at it as they kiss. And then, with the world’s worst timing, her stomach growls loudly.
Lena throws her head back, laughing. “You good?”
“Hungry. But sex first.” She kisses Lena again, and again her stomach growls. “Food and then sex?”
“I’ll make you french toast,” Lena says.
Kara springs out of bed.
They’re halfway down the stairs when the door rings.
“I’ll get a start on the toast,” Lena says, “you get the door.”
“Aye aye captain.” Kara goes to open the door, realising all too late that she’s only wearing a shirt and underwear. She shrugs, deciding the FedEx guy has probably definitely seen worse than this.
Only it’s not the FedEx guy. Kara opens the door and dozens of cameras flash in her face, men and women yelling to get her attention, some of them starting towards the door.
She slams it in their faces.
“Who was there?” Lena says, coming back into the entryway.
“NOBODY,” Kara yells in her face.
Lena frowns. “Why are you being weird?”
“I’M NOT,” Kara yells again, clearly not in control of her own volume.
“You are!” Lena laughs, and throws open the door.
The familiar camera flashes catch her off guard, and it takes a moment before she remembers to shut the door again.
“They saw me like this,” Lena says, gesturing to her lack of clothes.
“And they saw you in that,” Lena says, gesturing to Kara and she nods again. “I need to make a call.”
Lena disappears up the stairs, and Kara’s right behind her, though she’s unsure how she can help in this situation.
“... Yeah. Dozens of them. Saw us both.” Lena says into the phone as she throws her jeans on. Kara leans against the door, waiting for her to hang up. “Well I assume her roommate must’ve told somebody. Yeah, I know. Okay. See you soon.” She ends the phone call with such an angry tap that Kara wonders if she’s broken her phone screen.
“It wasn’t Vasquez, you know,” Kara says quietly. “She would never do anything like that.”
“Well how else would explain the hundred paps downstairs? Did they just magically know where I was?”
“I don’t know but it wasn’t her! She’d never do anything like that and it’s not fair of you to blame her for someone else’s mistake.”
“Well they’ve probably got her photo, too. Three half naked women. God. They’re gonna have a field day bringing up all those old lesbian stories again. I have a boyfriend for christ’s sake!” She paces the length of Kara’s room and back again, her nervous energy infectious.
“A fake one,” Kara quickly adds.
“They don’t know that! God, this could not get any worse.”
“Maybe we should take a breath,” Kara says. “Calm down a bit.”
Lena laughs. “Easy for you to say, you’re the one who’s just bedded a celebrity. You’ll become a legend, gain a hoard of twitter followers.”
“That’s not fair.”
“It’ll probably be good for business, get you some new customers.”
“Screw you,” Kara says.
“I’ve already made that mistake once,” Lena replies. She picks up her purse and heads downstairs. Kara’s always two steps behind.
“I’ve called a driver, I’ll be out of your hair shortly.” The doorbell rings with perfect timing. “I’ll be out of your hair right now.”
She walks to the door without even looking back, and Kara can’t watch this happen again, she can’t watch Lena walk out of her life another time.
“Come on, Lena!” She slides past Lena and stands between her and the door. “In the long run what does this all matter?? Just a few photos??”
“Next you’ll say there are poor starving kids in Africa,” Vasquez says, appearing in the kitchen doorway.
“Well yeah,” Kara replies. “But not even that. My badass, secret agent sister fell down the fucking stairs and she can’t walk anymore. That’s messed up. That is truly messed up. What’s happening here can be fixed. We need some perspective on what’s happening.”
“I’ve been in this industry for more than half of my life,” Lena says, her voice dangerously low. “But yeah. I’m the one who needs perspective.”
“I didn’t mean--”
“You don’t get it Kara. They’ll use this against me forever, for the rest of my career. These photos, the ones Eve leaked… They’ll be everywhere all the time. Any time I do a press junket or my name is pulled in for whatever story. That’s how these things work. When I do things I should regret, I always think they’re gonna haunt me. And they always do.”
She wants to ask, god, Kara wants to ask whether she’s one of the things Lena forgets. If Lena wants to take it all back and forget there was anything between them. But she’s too scared. She can’t know.
But the sadness in Lena’s eyes tells her the truth. Maybe it doesn’t have to be said aloud, but Kara knows she’ll just be placed in a box labeled ‘regrets’ for the rest of Lena’s life. That’s all she’ll ever be, an embarrassing photo in the back of a magazine.
Without a word, she moves aside and lets Lena out the front door. For just a moment the camera flashes illuminate the room. And then Lena is gone, and Kara knows it’s for good this time.
“Holy shit,” Vasquez says, completely unaware of her roommate’s impending emotional breakdown. “My tweet about Lena went viral! What the fuck!”
Kara snatches her phone from her hand, and sure enough there’s a photo of her and Lena on the roof rehearsing lines. You can see enough landmarks to roughly work out where they are, not to mention Vasquez definitely isn’t good at keeping her private information off the internet.
She’s not sure what hurts the most, the fact that Lena is gone, or the fact she was right and isn’t even there to gloat about it.
The seasons change and time goes on, and all the while Kara is fine.
The bookstore is going steady, Theo’s starting to talk more and more, and Nia and Brainy have finally pulled their heads out of their asses and started dating.
So yeah, Kara is fine. Completely and totally, one hundred percent fine.
Except sometimes she’s not.
The leaves change color and then fall from the trees and the air grows colder and colder and then finally warmer again.
Theo talks in sentences and the bookstore starts holding a monthly poetry night and Nia and Brainy get engaged.
And Kara is fine. She promises Alex as much at the engagement party, cornered in the kitchen having downed her third scotch of the night.
“You’ve got to stop being mopey,” Alex tells her. “It’s our little sister’s engagement party and you look like you’re at a funeral. It’s been long enough. You’ve got to forget about her.”
“I know,” Kara replies. “But you know, it’s weird. We slept together, sure. We kissed a lot. We had a genuine connection. But it was never more than that. I feel like I’ve been mourning something that didn’t happen. How can i miss something that I never even had?”
“You had something, Kara. Clearly something strong, jam-packed. And I know you, once you find somebody you actually like, they grab a hold of you and it’s hard for you to let them go. But it’s not fair to you anymore. You need to move on.”
And so she does. She stops moping and she goes on dates and she’s fine.
(Except that she’s not.)
It’s the first truly warm morning of the season and Kara’s finally got a moment to rest after a busy start to the day. James pushes the door open with his elbow, juggling two coffees and a bundle of papers under his arm.
“Got your order, boss,” he says. “One gigantic coffee with way more sugar than a human should consume at one time.”
“Just the way I like it,” she says as she takes it from him. “Just give me the receipt and I’ll reimburse you.”
“You know what? Don’t worry about it. You’re gonna need it in just a moment.”
James hands her the newspaper from under his arm and Kara grimaces as she handles it; it’s uncomfortably warm. She unfolds it and it feels like the front page slaps her across the face.
Lena Luthor is back in National City, filming her latest movie. Kara recognises the background in Lena’s picture, a park across town she frequents often with Theo. Lena looks just past the camera, her jaw so sharp it almost gives Kara a papercut. Her costume looks like she’s doing a period piece, an emerald green dress that touches the floor with sleeves that cover her elbows.
Kara bites her lip, looking up at James. “I shouldn’t go, right?”
“I moved on. I’m over it.”
“So I won’t go.”
A beat passes. James clears his throat.
“So you’ll be okay here by yourself for the rest of the day?”
“All good, Boss.”
“Can I help you, ma’am?” The security guard says as Kara approaches the barricade. He chews gum with a ferocity that makes Kara worry for his dental health. She’s not sure how she’s supposed to get through the barrier; to be honest, she hadn’t thought this far in advance. Anxiety begins to swirl in her stomach at the thought of maybe seeing Lena again.
“I’m here to see Lena Luthor?” she says, sounding wholly unconvincing.
“Are you a crew member? Press?”
“I’m-” she hesitates. “A friend.”
He laughs. “Right, okay. Nice try.”
And then - as though the universe had preordained it - Kara sees Lena exit a trailer a handful of yards away. She’s wearing the same green dress that Kara had seen on the front of the paper, and she looks even more exquisite in person, even if it is from far away. They lock eyes, and even with the distance, Kara can see the shock on her face. She raises a hand in a small, timid wave and Lena reciprocates. Kara watches as she murmurs to one of the several people flocking her. Moments later, a woman with a headset is letting Kara onset and she’s walking towards Lena Luthor for the first time in almost a year.
“I was going to call you,” Lena says as soon as Kara’s within earshot. “I just… I was going to call.”
“I just found out you were in town; you kept this pretty well under wraps.”
For a moment, they regard each other. Lena’s eyes are impossibly green, her dress making them brighter than Kara’s ever seen. She has so much she wants to tell her - how much she’s missed her, the anger Kara felt after Lena had just turned her life upside down and then left, how her heart flutters being near her again. She wants to tell her so many things, but instead she settles on,
“You’re clearly busy here, I’ll get out of your hair--”
“No,” Lena says firmly. “There are things… I need to talk to you. About things. Stay.”
Kara glances around at the crew members and actors bustling around the set. Lena reaches out, placing a hand on Kara’s forearm.
“Please,” she says and Kara can’t do anything other than nod her head like a fool.
“Great,” Lena continues. “I’ve got to get going but I’m gonna leave you with Natalie, she can give you a bit of a set tour.”
Natalie, despite her general lack of enthusiasm and seemingly dislike of Kara - shows her around the set, stopping for an extended time at the craft services table where Kara grabs the biggest danish she can find and makes herself the strongest coffee possible.
“So are you an Austen fan?” she asks just as Kara takes a sip of coffee. She almost chokes on it.
“This is an Austen adaptation??” Kara manages to ask, despite her burning throat.
“Yeah,” Natalie replies. “A queer reimagining of Pride and Prejudice with Ms. Luthor playing Ms. Darcy. It’s been all over the news.”
“I don’t, uh, I don’t really follow all this stuff,” Kara says, which is only a bit of a lie. She was following everything Lena was doing until Alex downloaded a browser extension to block anything with Lena’s name in it.
“Would you like to watch them film?” Natalie asks, and Kara assumes she’s trying to get her away from the snack table.
“Definitely,” Kara says as she pockets a danish for later. Natalie leads her through the set again. Everybody seems to be in a rush and it has Kara on edge. They arrive at a small area with a few screens available to watch the action.
“Take these.” Natalie hands her a pair of headphones. “They’re all mic’d up, so you’ll hear the dialogue.”
“Thank you,” Kara replies warmly, and Natalie finally makes a break for it.
Kara watches Lena lean against a fence beside a co-star, a vaguely familiar guy Kara assumes is very famous. Kara tries not to eavesdrop as they idly chatter between takes. He seems arrogant, though Kara assumes most actors are. She can’t see Lena’s expression, but she sounds as annoyed at his presence as Kara is. She tries not to eavesdrop on the particulars of their conversation, but then something catches her attention.
“So who’s that Hottie McLongLegs who’s visiting you on set? She single?”
“She with you?”
Lena sighs. “She’s just… some girl I used to know. I don’t know why she’s here, it’s a bit awkward to be honest.”
Kara slowly takes off her headphones and hands them to the person closest to her. Calmly, so very calmly, she leaves the set and catches a cab home. Just months ago, this would’ve killed her. She would’ve cried for days and drunk herself stupid. But Kara’s heart doesn’t break this time, because she’s used to this sadness, used to the heartbreak that Lena Luthor causes.
It’s way too early to go to bed, and she doesn’t dare turn on the television in case she sees footage of Lena. She couldn’t bear going back to work and having to explain everything to James. So, for the first time in what feels like forever, Kara sits at her dining room table. She stares at the notebook in front of her, her pen hovering over the top line. And then she begins to write.
Kara hates stocktaking, more than pretty much anything else in the entire world. She’s sitting in the back room of the shop, going through the lists in front of her and trying so desperately to concentrate on it. There are so many other things to focus on, like the short story she had been working on last night, and the dust particles that swirl in the rays of light that come in through the window.
“Kara?” James says, popping his head into the room.
“I’m busy,” she says shortly. “Can it wait?”
“There’s a delivery--”
“Handle it, please? I need to get this stuff done.”
He doesn’t leave. “It’s a delivery for you.”
“James. Literally half of your job description is receiving orders, I’m sure you can handle this.”
“Believe me, I can’t take this one. It’s all you, baby.”
Kara huffs as she stands from her desk, sighing dramatically as she passes James in the doorway. “Maybe it’s time I fired you.”
She’s not sure what she’s expecting to get with this delivery, but it’s definitely not Lena standing in between the stacks, a large, paper-wrapped package leaning against the shelves. She fidgets with her hands, and Kara’s somewhat shocked to realise she’s nervous.
“You left yesterday, disappeared,” Lena says, trying to mask her disappointment.
“Sorry,” Kara replies. “I could see you were busy, I didn’t want to get in the way.”
“I had time for you.”
“Anyway. How are you?”
“Same as ever,” Kara says, in a breezy way that does not at all reflect how she feels. “Bookshop is doing pretty okay and Vasquez is a pain in the ass. But what about you? I saw you were getting all kinds of awards and buzz and all that.”
Lena laughs. “That stuff doesn’t really matter, I sort of get that now. I mean, who needs the world’s approval when you only really care about one person’s opinion?”
Kara laughs with her. “You’re right. As long as Cat Grant thinks highly of you, you have nothing to worry about.” Lena smiles at the joke. Kara guesses she had forgotten how good it feels to make her smile. And then she realises with a jolt, that they’re quickly moving into dangerous, flirty territory.
“We wrapped up filming yesterday, and I wanted to give you this before I leave. I brought it with me from home. It was something I had that I thought you might like. I…” She smiles softly, sadly. “I wanted to bring it to you when i first got here but I couldn’t bring myself to face you after how we left things. And then you showed up and the thing is… the thing is…”
“The thing is?” Kara prompts her.
“I’m leaving the country today, going back home. And I thought maybe if I didn’t leave, maybe we could see each other, a little. Or a lot. Hang out. Together. The two of us.”
And not for the first time, Kara realises that maybe Lena was just as invested in her as she was. Maybe she had missed Kara like Kara had missed her, pined for her, loved her. Maybe this entire mess could’ve been avoided had things gone differently. But she knows, god she knows, that she is Kara Danvers, a nobody, trying to keep up with Lena Luthor. It could never work out the way they wanted it to.
“You say you want that, but yesterday you dismissed me when your co-star asked about me. I heard it, on your mic pack.”
Lena raises an eyebrow. “You wanted me to tell the truth about us - confess how I feel about you - to the most horny, unreliable man in the entertainment industry?”
“That’s just it.”
“I’m not from the same world as you. All I have is my tiny bookshop and like three friends. I don’t know how not to get caught up in the Lena Luthor whirlwind. And I’m scared that if we spent time together and something happened again and then fell apart, well, how am I ever supposed to get over you a second time? Hell, a third time? Your face is everywhere, you’re all people talk about. I don’t know what I’d do; you’re inescapable. I think… I have to protect myself here. I have to decline your offer.”
“Wow. Harsh rejection,” Lena says, her voice just slightly breaking. Kara powers on, adamant on getting it all off her chest, unsure exactly who she’s trying to convince.
“Well it’s true, isn’t it? I’m just some kid from Midvale, and you’re entertainment royalty. Everybody in the world knows your name, and my own sisters have trouble remembering mine sometimes. We’re worlds apart, we always will be.”
Lena nods, her eyes not leaving Kara’s, their gazes locked and unable to move away.
“That fame stuff,” Lena says in an almost whisper. “I get it. But it’s not really real, y’know? I’m also just a girl, standing in front of another girl, asking her to love her.”
Kara doesn’t respond; Kara can’t respond. Lena is offering her everything she’s wanted for months and months. But she can’t take it. She can’t put herself through it all again. She can’t even speak, she just pleads that Lena understands what her gaze is trying to say.
I’m sorry, but I can’t do it.
Lena steps forward, understanding, and presses a kiss to Kara’s cheek. It feels final in a way that makes Kara’s skin crawl and her stomach harden. She takes a breath and doesn’t let go.
“Goodbye, Kara,” she whispers, and then she’s gone.
And yet still, Kara cannot breathe.
The silence of her family is killing her.
Alex stares at her, Maggie can’t even look at her, Nia busies herself with stirring her tea, and Brainy bounces a quiet Theo on his lap. They squashed into Kara’s living small living room. Lena’s gift for her takes up too much space, unwrapped and staring up at them all.
Kara’s just finished telling them the whole story and now none of them are saying anything and she hates everything about this: the stupid gift Lena had given her, the way Alex had gawked at her as she had told them everything, the doubt that lies heavy on her heart and mind.
“Well?” she says, unable to handle their lack of reaction anymore.
“You… did the right thing?” Alex offers, sounding not at all convincing. “You’ve got to protect yourself.”
“Right,” Maggie adds. “Actors, man. They have crazy schedules, crazy lives, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“I mean, she was in National City for weeks and didn’t even tell me. I had to find out from the papers.”
The front door is thrown open dramatically, and Vasquez enters the already-cramped room a few seconds later - thankfully, she’s fully clothed.
“What’s going on?” she asks the solemn room.
“Kara’s turned down Lena Luthor,” Nia says.
Vasquez pauses. And then she turns to Kara. “Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? You absolute clown. You buffoon!”
“Actually,” Brainy interjects. “We’re supporting Kara on this one.”
Vasquez takes a deep breath. “Okay. But before we do that, can somebody tell me what that is?”
She points to Lena’s gift, which leans against the mantle. It’s a painting, with vibrant, dark blues and a goat playing the violin.
“Lena gave it to me.”
“Cool. Cool cool cool cool cool.” Vasquez says, nodding her head. “And that’s the original Chagall?”
“I believe so,” Kara answers.
“Must be worth quite a bit,” Maggie says. “So it was nice of her to give you a very expensive painting she knows you love.”
“And it’s always nice when somebody tells you they love you,” Nia says. “Makes you feel warm and-and nice.”
“It did feel good,” Kara concedes. “She said that all that fame stuff doesn’t matter, that she didn’t care about anybody’s opinion but mine. That she was just a girl standing in front of another girl, asking her to love her.”
A beat passes.
“Oh fuck. I’ve made a mistake, haven’t I?”
Vasquez nods her head so hard they can all basically hear her brain rattling.
“I’ve-- I’ve got to go,” Kara says, standing up. “I’ve got to find her before she leaves.” Kara shoves her phone and wallet into her pockets and sprints out the door without another thought. She pauses for a second as she hits the pavement, and somebody slams into her back.
“Why did you stop!” Nia yells. Kara whips around and finds that everybody has followed her outside.
“What’re you doing?”
“Coming with you, dummy,” Maggie says, rolling her eyes. “We’ve invested too much in this just to miss the grand finale.”
“Plus we can take our minivan,” Alex adds. “Y’know, the one you’ve been making fun of for the past two years.”
“I don’t even know where to go,” Kara says, panic rising. “I--”
“She’s giving a press conference at the Lord Hotel,” Nia answers, scrolling on her phone. “The Catco twitter account is talking about it.”
“Everybody in the van!” Vasquez yells, and they all rush to the car.
“Shotgun!” Alex calls, and Maggie lifts her out of her chair and into the front seat while Nia folds the chair and throws it in the trunk. Brainy struggles to put on Theo’s several seatbelts and Vasquez has taken to singing the James Bond theme. Kara just sits in the middle seat, trying to stop herself from shaking, wishing they’d all hurry up.
There was somebody she needed to see.
Lena wishes she were on the plane already.
Press conferences aren’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s been a long day and she’s ready to pop a sleeping pill and be unconscious for a bit. The journalists mostly ask boring standard questions about the new movie, about some of the more public aspects of her private life. She sits at a table in front of a crowded room, her manager Doug by her side and fielding the questions.
“Next question,” Doug says, pointing to a journalist in the front row. “You.”
“Lena,” one of them asks. “How much longer are you staying in National City?”
“I’m headed out right after this,” she says. “I think National City is sick of me at this point.” The journalists laugh.
“Next,” Doug says, pointing again.
“Can you attest to any of the rumours that Jack Spheer cheated on you with Zac Efron?”
Lena shakes her head. “Jack was always faithful to me and any rumours surrounding cheating are absolutely baseless.”
Jack was shtupping Zac, but Lena could hardly call it cheating; she had been doing much more with Kara during their supposed ‘relationship’. Doug keeps the ball rolling.
“Last time you were here, you were spotted getting cosy with a woman in glasses that many have since identified as a local bookstore owner. Could you shed some more light on the situation?”
“She’s just a friend… Still a friend, I hope.” Lena keeps her eyes trained at the table, trying to avoid the bright lights of the cameras, but also trying to hide the sadness she knows will betray her lie of an answer.
“Okay, just a couple more questions,” Doug says. “The woman with the glasses, up the back there.”
“Is there a possibility that you two might ever be more than friends?”
Lena gives herself whiplash as she looks up at the sound of that voice, that voice that gives her chills just at the sound of it. Kara stands in the throng of journalists, looking perfectly disheveled in the way only she can be. In fact, Lena’s not sure she’s even wearing shoes. She stares up at her expectantly. Even from here, Lena can see that shine in her eyes, the little furrow in her brow.
“No, I was assured that we are strictly in the, uh, what’s it called? Friendzone?”
“What would you say--”
“One question only,” Doug interrupts. Lena lays a hand on his arm.
“Let her speak, please.” She nods to Kara.
“What would you say if it turned out this person--”
“Her name was Danvers,” a journalist interrupts, looking through his notes.”
“Right, thanks. What would you say if it turned out this Danvers idiot had realised she had been a giant asshole and totally and completely messed up, and would spend eternity begging for your forgiveness for being such a hard-headed fool. Do you think you could reconsider the whole friendzone thing?”
“I suppose… I think I definitely would.”
“Great news,” Kara says. “Fantastic news. The readers of my family newsletter are going to be ecstatic.”
The journalists laugh again, and Lena hears a ‘whoop’ from the side of the room, and turns to see Kara’s whole family; she grins wildly. It happens slowly, some of the cameras turning from Lena and onto Kara.
Lena leans over to Doug and whispers in his ear.
Doug gives a small smile. “Jack, could you ask your question again?”
Jack flips through his notes. “Lena, how much longer to you plan on staying in National City?”
Lena hesitates for a moment before answering. She stares across the room and into the bluest eyes she’s ever had the pleasure of peering into, eyes that crinkle with the most beautiful smile she’s ever seen.
And for a moment, she can picture the future.
She can imagine a wedding with just their family and friends, Alex and Maggie’s kids running amok in fancy dress and Vasquez flirting with the bartender and Nia harassing the DJ with yet another request. Kara in a white suit and she in a form fitting gown, never leaving each others’ side, their hands intertwined all night long.
She can imagine movie premieres, with flashing lights and long red carpets. Rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, a befuddled look almost permanently on Kara’s face as reporters ask multiple invasive questions about their relationship and only a few about the film. Neither of them paying much attention to the film, instead, they’re only ever interested in each other.
She can imagine a park bench they visit often, surrounded by green trees and laughing children from their neighbourhood; a small snapshot of a quiet life filled with soft love in every moment. Lena lying with her head in Kara’s lap, watching the world they’ve created together. Kara with her face in a book and glasses slipping down her nose, her hand resting protectively on the small swell of a baby bump protruding from Lena’s middle. Staying on their bench for hours, in love and perfectly so.
For a moment, she pictures their future, happy and loving and forever.
Lena smiles as she watches a grin spread slowly across Kara’s face, as though she can anticipate what she’s about to say, as though she, too, can see everything that’s waiting for them.
“Well?” the reporter asks. “How long do you plan on staying in National City?”
Lena’s eyes don’t leave Kara’s, not once.