Kara wakes up in a funk. That’s how she’d describe it to Alex, at least. Her face is pressed into a crease in her sheet, and her head is angled away from the white morning light spilling in from the window. She doesn’t try to look at it or soak the sun in.
She stays still, knowing full well she’s getting one of those weird sheet marks on her face. The kind Alex tries to rub with her thumb before Kara knocks her hand away while pestering her, “did you fall asleep on the couch again? Why did you spend all that money on your bed frame, Kara? We could’ve gotten a Playstation 4 for game night.”
But Kara doesn’t care. Her bed frame is cute. She doesn’t move, arm cast apathetically over the side of it, continuing to ignore the window. She just feels… funky. And she has an absolute headache. Since when she did get headaches?
Eventually, she pulls herself from her dead body prone position and massages a temple. She brushes her teeth, staring at the crease on her face in the mirror. It looks like a tire skid mark. She spits, and when she looks into the bowl, she discovers a deep crack, a veritable fissure that runs the full length of her standalone porcelain sink. Water drips from it and pools in a precise and sheening circle on the tiled floor.
When did that happen? She doesn’t remember doing that.
Even her pajamas, she looks down to see, she doesn’t recognize. When did she buy them? When did she put them on, even? There’s little pink elephants patterned over the material and a cute little font that reads, “elephants never forget!”
Numbly and with a mild concern for her mental health, Kara moves to her closet and sheds the shorts. She toes them under a pile of clothes where she can’t see them and pulls on one of her pastel cuffed shirts. Nothing goes wrong in these shirts. They’re safe. They’re reliable. Optimistically, she thinks even a menial task like buttoning up will help her combat this cold sweat kind of unease, that is, until she realizes halfway through she’s skipped a button hole and has to start all over.
She pulls on a pair of corduroy pants with a groan, each and every little inconvenience feeling like an Everest, and thinks about how Nia had once said these pants reminded her of the texture of Birkenstocks.
“They don’t make corduroy Birkenstocks, do they?” Kara had balked.
“You tell me.”
What did that mean?
Kara grabs her keys, her bag, and heads for the door. Outside, the white overcast light has dissolved into a perfect, periwinkle blue sky dotted with faultless, kindergartener drawn puffy clouds. Kara knows how it would feel to fly through them: cool and refreshing. They’d smell like the sun, like a planet at the peak of its climatic prime. It’s the beginning of a beautiful day, and it’s annoying.
Because something is wrong with today, but she doesn’t know what yet.
She threads through the morning crowd on the streets, everyone giving her space, everyone being polite, and she grits her teeth. She stands in a short line for her daily coffee at Noonan’s, and she clenches her fingers. The coffee smells amazing, not burnt like it sometimes is, and it makes Kara mad.
There is no reason for her to feel this way. There is no excuse for this funk to keep growing, tall and strong like an Iowa stalk of corn.
Kara casts a baleful gaze around the shop, determined to spot an unseen source, to place the blame, but there’s nothing but drowsy work commuters and an over caffeinated staff. She checks the street, too, and her breath hitches as she spots a giant, gorgeous golden retriever prancing down the street, owner in tow. A gust of wind catches its fur just right, and it’s beauty and it’s grace. It’s Miss United States. It’s beyond Instagram friendly, and Kara nearly growls.
“Miss?” the barista prompts.
Kara snaps to attention, apparently too distracted to realize she was next in line. Normally, this line is twenty people deep, no amount of distraction could make it bearable. But not today… not on this stupid perfect, short line day.
“Oh, sorry,” Kara apologizes, irritated further by the sound of her own fake cheeriness. “Can I get a double caramel macchiato?”
“And a large vanilla latte?”
“Yeah, sure,” Kara answers absently, glancing back at the door like a guard dog when the overhead bell rings.
She doesn’t recognize the man who enters. He’s probably not a criminal. Or a wanted alien. His biggest crime is he’s holding a copy of The Daily Planet, CatCo’s rival, and what is he doing with that? Metropolis is on the other side of the country. Why does he need to know the news there? But she can’t bring him in for wasting his own time, and a part of her is strangely anxious and a lot disappointed.
If only he had horns. Or spikes that shot out of his face. Or something.
Kara pays the cashier and waits abysmally by the drink bar. It's uncharacteristic for her to wish for an 'incident.' And further, this type of terrible mood is usually precipitated by a break up or some other horrible thing, but nothing like that has happened.
She forces herself not to check the entrance to the shop every five seconds and drums her fingers irritably on the counter top. She registers an ill-boding, spidery crack in the surface and quickly pulls her fingers into a fist, hoping that no one’s seen (or heard.)
I’m alone, she thinks, over and over. Why do I keep expecting someone else to be here? Who am I looking for? What's wrong?
It’s torturous and made more so when the barista delivers Kara her ‘two coffees.’
“For Kara!” she beams pure and brilliant joy. “Have a good day!”
But Kara stares down at the second coffee in bewildered fury. Did she order two coffees? Why? And for who? Did her mind really blank that far and go all the way back to the time when she’d ordered coffees for Mrs. Grant? But… this wasn’t even her order?
Kara considers the second coffee like an advanced Mensa puzzle. Was it for James? No, he ordered Americanos. Was it for Winn? No, his was cappuccinos. And Alex was white mochas (the dork.) So, no one she knew drank vanilla lattes. No one.
For some reason, this is the breaking point. This second coffee sitting innocently on the counter, not needing to be there, never needing to have been made, no explanation for its existence, this is what breaks Kara.
This is how she turns on her heel and tears out of Noonan’s. This is how she finds herself suddenly thinking, I need to go to Midvale. Alone. And she needs to go there now.
Outside the shop, she reaches behind her ear and crushes the comms device hidden there. She holds the electronic dust in her hand and watches it blow away into the wind. She can already hear Alex telling her how much she just cost the American people in tax dollars.
She starts walking.
She doesn’t do things like this. She’s not impulsive. She doesn’t skip work, but she keeps going and after purchasing a train ticket, she spares a quick moment to text Alex, lest her sister lose her ever loving mind when she discovers Kara’s deviated from routine.
Kara: I need to bail today. I’m getting out of the city.
She reads the text again, already sent. She imagines how Alex might still freak out, automatically assume Kara’s been body snatched by some sort of alien virus or how she’s being forced to text against her will. Alex would send a small militia of agents to recapture her.
More American tax dollars wasted on Kara’s sudden bout of instability.
Kara: I’m fine, she adds. Just need some air. Emergency only contact.
Alex replies so fast, too fast for Kara to exit her text messages, and she catches a snippet,
Alex: What? Why? Is air hard to come by FLYING AROUND THE CITY—
But Kara locks her phone. She has a fleeting desire to chuck it into space, too, but not all impulses are good ones today. She may want to play some games on the train or google how to make short ribs for Valentine’s later tonight.
Alone. Alone on Valentine’s in 2019. And it’s on a Tuesday, not even a weekend. Normal, coupled people will have a hard time even enjoying it. What a stupid day.
Kara watches her phone light up with more messages from Alex, but she mutes them and sighs, waiting on the train. It’s not long before it arrives and she boards, throwing herself into a vacant seat.
She digs for her sketch book in her bag after she gets settled. Nia calls it ‘old school’ that she doesn’t use an iPad and a stylist to draw, and maybe it is. Maybe that’s why her notebook is so depressingly barren. She flips through the pages and notices she’s hardly drawn anything in the last three years, but also… several pages have been torn out.
Weird that she doesn’t remember doing that. Maybe those sketches were garbage.
Kara flicks back to a blank page and moves her pencil in fine gray lines. She maps out the passing scenery; the buildings, the countryside, and eventually the ocean. She turns a page and begins to draw Midvale from memory, from a bird’s eye view she’s seen when flying high above as Supergirl. She embellishes it with tiny seabirds and foamy white waves.
She could’ve flown to Midvale today, sure. She didn’t need to take the train, but the normality is soothing on a day like this (in a word, shitty.) Also, it’s nice not to have to worry if media outlets or underground crime organizations are tracking her flight patterns. The last thing she’d need would be to lead curious minds to her own home town. It wouldn’t take much for a dogged reporter to find unusual links between ‘weird Kara Danvers from high school’ and Supergirl.
Or so Alex has told her about a thousand times when she’s begged to fly home when a desperate craving has struck for a dozen (or so) of Eliza’s handmade cookies.
But she doesn’t spare her town or even Eliza much thought as she debarks. Rather, Kara heads straight to the ocean, straight to the sea salt air and whipping wind. It’s not warm in February, especially being farther north, but Kara wouldn’t feel it either way.
She toes off her shoes and socks. She rolls up her ‘Birkenstocks’ pants. She stands in the wet sand and what should be a bitingly cold surf and stares out into the boundless horizon.
What am I doing here? she wonders. Who am I waiting for?
Kara feels so suddenly bereft, so lost, so bone chillingly lonely that inexplicable tears spring to her eyes. Luckily a movement in her periphery stops her from sobbing, full out Edna from the Awakening style into the open and uncaring ocean. Instead, she turns her face and surreptitiously wipes her eyes. She schools her mouth before glancing back.
There’s another stranger on the beach with her. It’s a woman dressed several layers thick. Her hair is inkwell black and pulled into a severe ponytail, and not even a wisp escapes into the bitter wind. She cuts an expensive figure on the sand.
Kara doesn’t think she’s from around here, not if that’s a fur collar around her neck, blowing this way and that. It’s attached to a silky coat that’s more befitting of a Russian oligarch, and the woman looks so uncomfortable, not at all like someone enjoying a cold beach stroll. Plus, she’s otherworldly pretty, skin pale like the froth on the waves, lips the red of an apple, perfect for bitin—
Kara quickly looks away when the woman turns to watch her. She looks down at her feet, feigning interest in the mottled sand, feeling all at once self-conscious without her shoes on. She must look weird standing in the water like this in February. But before Kara can step away, compose herself, look a bit more confident and not like a person crying randomly on the beach, the woman is stiffly walking back to the parking lot.
Kara’s presence must’ve been enough to put her off the whole beach entirely.
Kara watches her try to manage the breaking dune, wobbling in her heels, every other step sinking deeper into the sand. It’s almost comedic, especially when she hears a loud curse carried by the wind as the woman slips and nearly pile drives into the concrete. Then, she’s gone.
Kara forces her eyes to return the ocean, and the loneliness comes crashing back like a rising tide. She has an instinct to chase after the woman, ask her to come back, but that’s crazy right? And why had she been thinking about biting a strange women’s lips? She didn’t bite lips, at least not women’s. It must really have been too long, something Alex would definitely say.
“I’m starting to think something is wrong, Kara. Just go on one date, it won’t kill you.”
What happened to Mon El? James, even? She prods her memories of the two men, but it’s like pushing ash around in a grate. She strikes a match, but nothing lights. Rao, she really needs to meet someone new.
If only she weren’t incapable of flirting.
Kara abandons the beach shortly thereafter, mainly in favor of locating food, her stomach grumbling. She walks to an old haunt, a relaxed and eclectic diner that sits just by the beach. One of the owners lights up at the sight of Kara as she enters and quickly cups her hand to her mouth, yelling to the kitchen,
“Herb, the Kara Special, please!”
She pats Kara on the shoulder in a grandmotherly sort of fashion.
“It’s been so long, little miss!” she tells her warmly. “I just saw your mother at the farmer’s market. We’ll have you fixed right up.”
“Thanks, Kathy,” Kara smiles weakly.
Sadly (according to Alex, happily according to her), several of Kara’s favorite eating establishments have a habit of greeting her this way. All of them know her name. All of them know her orders, plural. Shop owners in Midvale usually know Eliza, too, and they give her pitying looks and ask how much her monthly grocery bill was when Kara was growing up.
“Enough,” Eliza would always smile.
Kara watches Kathy bustle away, checking on another customer at the bar, before she goes quietly still.
It’s the same woman again, sitting awkwardly posture perfect on a backless swivel stool, fur collared coat still on, a single cup of coffee looking cold and destitute in front of her. Kathy offers to refresh the cup, but the woman waves her away before folding her hands in her lap like she’s at church. Kathy relents with a “suit yourself,” and the woman goes back to staring at the egg white walls as if they hold all the answers. She looks so singularly inconsonant with the world around her, Kara removes her sketchbook from her bag without really thinking and begins to outline her.
There’s a red sheen glinting off her hair from the light. The veins in her hand look delicate as she lifts her coffee to her mouth. Her lipstick leaves a red stain on the edge, a kiss.
Kara’s so focused, she doesn’t notice when her food is delivered. She polishes her sketch instead, blotting the edges of the woman’s coat. She wants to capture how it looks panther sleek, the kind of softness you want to run your hand over.
Even the approach of clacking heels, she doesn’t hear, not until they’re directly in her line of sight. Not until Kara looks straight up into seawashed glass green eyes.
Her mouth falls open. The woman speaks.
“This may sound odd,” she says in a practiced, clipped tenor that is distinctly not Californian. “But do I know you?”
Kara processes the question slowly, distracted by a hundred other thoughts and observations that happen concurrently.
The woman’s coat opens to reveal a tailored white blouse tucked into a pencil skirt.
The buttons, pearly white.
Her nails, unpainted but neatly trimmed.
Her voice deep and smooth like river stones.
Kara belatedly thinks to close her mouth lest it ‘catch flies.’ (What a terrible Earth expression.)
“No?” she replies, sounding all too flustered, Kara would have remembered someone like this. “Are you—are you from here?”
“Afraid not,” the woman answers, a touch snobbish. Her eyes glance down to the table, to Kara’s open sketchbook.
Kara glances down, too. She stares directly at the sketch she’d just refined.
She frantically snaps it shut. The woman surely saw, but Kara shoves it under herself, anyway, sitting on it. She looks up again to find thinly veiled amusement, a slight smirk to the upward curl of the stranger’s lips. Kara’s pencil is still in her hand, as damning as a murder weapon.
“Would you mind?” the woman indicates the open seat across from Kara. “Unless…”
She stares at the six plates of food.
“…you’re expecting someone else to join you?”
“Nope, no,” Kara answers quickly, pulling a few of the plates closer to her. She stows the pencil under her butt, too. “This is all for me.”
The woman looks appropriately disbelieving but appears to reserve comment. She takes the seat, placing her coffee cup in front of her. Prim. Proper.
“Are you from here?” she asks conversationally, eyes following with a morbid interest as Kara scoops several pancakes into her mouth at once, a knee jerk reaction to the flutter happening in her stomach.
She nods, trying to swallow without choking.
“I grew up here, but I live in National City now. I’m just visiting today.”
The woman leans back in the booth and crosses her arms, a piqued interest to her impeccably sculpted eyebrows. Kara tries to commit their shape to memory. For future sketches. For art reference, of course.
“Me too, it seems like we’re going back to the same place.”
Not quite the same place, Kara muses. She thinks of a woman like this existing in National City. She thinks of how very different their lives must be. Did she ever look up and see Kara, a dot in the sky? Did they ever pass each other on the street, Kara bathed ever so impermanently in her sweet smelling perfume?
“Something tells me you didn’t take the train,” she mumbles through a mouthful of food.
“What makes you say that?”
The woman’s voice, a current, has changed subtly like a rip tide. There’s a note of aggression to it.
“Nothing,” Kara shrugs, duly intimidated.
The woman lifts her eyebrow further, and Kara represses a shiver.
“You’re trying to be nice,” she observes like it’s a negative quality. “You can be honest.”
Kara swallows again, makes a show of looking under the blue frosted, kitschy table between them. Lena’s heels are red bottomed, shiny and day old looking despite the recent errant grains of sand.
“Those heels don’t exactly look suitable for walking the city, that’s all. I doubt they’ve ever seen the top of a train platform.”
The woman purses her lips, mirrors Kara’s sweeping up and down gaze under the table.
“I’m not sure a person who wears no shoes at all has room to judge.”
Kara smiles, shy and called out.
“I put them back on,” she defends feebly.
“To get service, I’m sure.”
Kara laughs more genuinely and takes another giant bite of food. Given that it’s partially true, she did only think to put her shoes on when she got to the diner, she doesn’t really have a retort.
“I’m sorry,” Lena chuckles after a moment, briefly placing her hand over her mouth. Her sleeve pulls back to reveal a gold watch sitting large on her wrist. A men’s watch. “I don’t usually do this.”
“You don’t usually do what?”
“I don’t usually bully a stranger whose table I’ve just invited myself to.”
If this is bullying, Kara’s not sure she hates it.
“I am,” she shakes her head. “I’m a bit petty and sensitive, truth be told.”
“I wouldn’t think that about you,” Kara comments.
“Why?” she challenges, and again Kara is slightly taken aback by the tone. Is it off putting, her quick fire dominance? Or does she like it?
Yikes, Kara thinks. Her body is definitely sending a signal in favor of the latter.
“You seem nice.”
“I am not nice,” the woman scoffs, eyes to the ceiling.
“Is there something wrong with nice?”
“Nobody likes nice.”
Kara feels a flare of offense at that statement. People call her ‘nice’ all the time. They smile when they say it. They mean it positively, but she also knows people on Earth equate niceness with naiveté or stupidity. There can be so much strength in kindness, she thinks.
She eats her food quietly though. The woman is staring through the neighboring window with that same far off look again. Kara would normally share her opinion, object to her statement, but she seems to be going through something already.
“I should go,” she abruptly stands from the booth.
“No—” Kara drops her fork, reaches out.
“Yes,” she cuts Kara off. “I’m sorry. Again. I’m just—out of sorts today.”
“Me too,” Kara assures. “But please, you can stay. We don’t have to talk if you want.”
The woman holds up her hand, the watch glints.
“No, I can’t continue to intrude. Enjoy your meal.”
She turns, and with several severe clacks of her heels the doorbell rings and she’s gone.
Kara didn’t even get her name. She mopes a bit, as much as one can after ordering and devouring a double fudge sundae for dessert. She needs the extra energy to get herself back to National City, she rationalizes.
At least she thinks she does before she finds the woman waiting leaned against a Rolls Royce in the parking lot. At the sight of her lean, cut from glass form, fingers drumming on the hood, Kara suddenly feels very awake.
“How are you getting back home?” she asks with a smile, soft and genuine.
From her embarrassment just inside the shop to this display of confidence, Kara tries to reorient herself.
“The train,” she answers simply.
“I could give you a ride,” the woman offers, indicating the glitzy black car. “It’s cold. It would be faster. The next train won’t come for another hour.”
Kara weighs her options; should she wait in total boredom at the station or be distracted, however briefly, by a moody yet beautiful woman?
Kara leans over, eyes glazing over the luxurious vehicle, and jokingly asks,
“I don’t know. Are you going to kill me?”
The woman laughs suddenly, loud and bright.
“No! Why would you say that?”
“I don’t know,” Kara continues to rib her. “You’re awfully knowledgeable about train schedules for someone who definitely didn’t take one here.”
The woman rolls her eyes playfully.
“I looked it up after I came out here. I promise I’m not going to kill you. It will be a very safe ride.”
“Okay,” Kara concedes. “But I’d feel safer knowing your name.”
The woman levels Kara with those mossy green and captivating eyes. She smiles again, small and at the corner.
“Lena,” she holds out her hand, and Kara bounds forward to accept it.
They shake, and Lena’s touch is soft but cool. Her grip is firm.
Inside, Lena informs her driver that they’re ready. She presses a button, lifting the privacy glass.
(There’s privacy glass. And a driver.)
She sheds her giant, expensive coat, looking relieved, and turns to deposit it on the opposite passenger bench.
(There’s two seating areas. In one car. They are leather.)
“It’s faux fur,” Lena says, misinterpreting the reason for Kara’s staring. She hadn’t been wondering if the coat was authentic, she’d been wondering how much it had cost. How much Lena’s whole outfit cost. The watch is definitely a Rolex.
“You’re not one of those aggressive vegetarians, are you?” she hears Lena joke, and Kara laughs, surprised at the directness.
“We’ve just met, and you’re bringing up politics?”
“I don’t like to waste time,” Lena winks.
Kara nearly gags on her own spit and marvels at the fact that she now knows a person who can successfully (sexily) wink, who has a (faux) fur coat, and a limo (with a driver and privacy glass.)
“You saw me eat like fifty pieces of bacon.”
“Don’t remind me.”
Kara laughs again.
“Which reminds me,” she continues. “You acted all insulted in the diner, but can we discuss something, Lena?”
The name rolls off her tongue like it belongs there, like its home.
“This,” she gestures around the car, “is crazy. You have a Rolls Royce. You have a driver. I bet he has a name like George.”
It’s Lena’s turn to laugh, and it’s even more beautiful than when it had happened in the parking lot.
“I knew it,” Kara answers clapping her hands together. “I’d just like to point out that I was right. I was right.”
“Right about what?”
“That you didn’t take the train.”
“You’re gloating, and it’s unbecoming, Kara,” Lena smiles.
Kara snorts while laughing (very unbecoming), and Lena mercifully looks endeared by it.
“I bet there’s Veuve in here,” she says, popping open a console at random and reaching into it. Anything to distract Lena from whatever that snort was.
“I’m sorry, I stand corrected,” Kara continues even more smug and gloat-y as she showcases a large bottle of champagne. “It’s Dom Perignon.”
Lena rolls her eyes good-naturedly and takes the bottle from Kara, their fingers brushing. Without preamble, she tears the capsule and pops the cork free. The open bottle smokes in wisps under Lena’s nose, and Kara makes a high, theatrical gasp.
“You just opened a bottle worth more than my rent money.”
“Would you like a drink?” Lena ignores her, her voice rolling deeper, that same confidence back as she produces two sparkling crystal champagne flutes.
Kara has the sense that Lena’s fully in her element now. She involuntarily tunes into her heart rate, looking for signs of nerves that match her own, but it’s heavy and steady.
Kara fidgets with the door lock. She forces herself to focus on the question. Normally, she’d say no, but since Lena has just opened the bottle… it would be a shame to waste, would it not? Plus, she’s already skipped work today, why not pretend to be drunk, too?
She nods and watches Lena pour the glasses with experienced hands.
“You said you weren’t going to kill me,” Kara remarks, briefly taking a sip of the most expensive drink of her life. “But this whole getup is very American Psycho.”
Lena’s smile wanes a bit.
“Are you calling me a psycho?” she jests, but there’s a tinge to it, like maybe Kara’s struck a nerve.
“No, you know,” Kara backtracks. “Like the book.”
“Well, statistically speaking,” Lena plays along, professorially waving her champagne around, and Kara breathes with relief. “That’s less likely given I’m a woman.”
“But serial killers typically hunt within their own ethnic pools, right?”
“Honestly, Kara,” Lena cants her head closer, resting her cheek on the shiny black leather. Her whole body is angled towards her, and her jaw is so sharp. Her knees are up on the seat like she doesn’t know how to sit properly. Or doesn’t need to, now hidden in the privacy of the limo.
Kara holds her breath.
“That’s not the type of hunting I enjoy.”
They stare at one another, and Kara can see blue, green, yellow, gray, every color in Lena’s irises. They're prismatic. She tries to take a breather from the moment by drinking her champagne, but it’s empty and she chokes on air.
Lena laughs lightly and reaches to refill her glass, her touch lingering over Kara’s fingers.
“Do you work in National City?” she asks. She sounds calm, but her heartbeat has ticked upwards, betraying her.
“What do you do—?” Lena starts, handing the glass back, but Kara hears a determined buzzing, and Lena glances down at her phone.
“I’m terribly sorry, just a moment.”
Kara worries that it’s a family or friend emergency (or a spouse, she thinks with a frown), but the call is decidedly business. Lena speaks in short, hushed tones, murmuring words like ‘report’ and ‘quarterly’ and ‘prototype.’
“Get it to me in the morning,” she ends the call.
When she looks to Kara again, the boardroom expression she’d worn melts away and she’s smiling as if a load has been lifted, as if it’s a relief to see Kara sitting there next to her.
“I’m sorry again.”
“So, you’re a corporate overlord, huh,” Kara smiles back.
Lena shifts, still angled towards Kara with every point in her body; her knees, her elbows, her wrists, that jaw.
“I feel like this ride has become a roast.”
“Do you own any t-shirts?” Kara doesn’t ease up. “Are all your pajamas silk? I bet you don’t know how much a banana costs.”
“Fifty-nine cents,” Lena answers without missing a beat.
“Uh oh,” Kara mocks. “You’re in the banana business.”
Lena laughs again, and Kara wants to commit her life to making it happen over and over.
“No, I am not, but I am in business.”
Lena looks charmed by Kara, maybe even a bit despite herself, and Kara imagines Lena as the woman in charge. The fur coat, the pencil skirt, the watch, it all makes sense. She wonders if that’s why her anger rests just under the surface, too, concealed and ready to fire.
“Do a lot of peons report to you?”
“My mother would love you,” Lena deflects, looking wistful. Her free hand twitches on the seat between them, projecting a need to touch perhaps.
“Blonde and so clearly liberal. Please tell me you have an arts degree from a state college. That would be the cherry on top.”
Kara laughs, definitely not wanting to tell Lena she’s right, but Lena can sense she’s close. There’s blood in the water.
“Am I right?” she persists, her smirk obnoxious. “Did you study communications? Philosophy?”
“Oh my god, stop.”
“Art?” she says, glancing pointedly at Kara’s bag. She lifts that same eyebrow, and Kara nearly perishes.
“I feel like you’re going to ask my star sign next,” Kara attempts to sidetrack. “Or what the worst date I’ve ever been on is.”
“Well?” Lena goes for the bait.
Lena turns her head away, pretending to think. She bites her lip, and Kara watches how her teeth indent the skin there. Biting, biting is good.
“I suppose mine are interrelated. On a terrible date, a woman once told me,” (a woman!) “that based on my astrological star sign I had a,” Lena gestures in a distinctly southern region and steels herself to say, “smelly vagina.”
Kara actually snorts her entire champagne. Actually snorts it. Vinegar burns out of one nostril as she wipes at it and tries not to die.
“What?!” she manages despite the amount of liquid that just pressure washed her sinuses. “And, oh my God, which star sign?!”
“Scorpio, and it’s not true,” Lena is quick to assure. “I mean, I haven’t gotten any complaints.”
Kara can’t stop laughing either way.
“What about you?” Lena pokes one of her knees, a silent cue to shut the fuck up about it.
“Oh wow, I’m not sure I can beat that, but,” Kara considers, wiping a tear from her eye. “The first date I ever went on in 7th grade, the boy tried to kiss me, and I broke his nose. There was blood everywhere.”
Lena puts a hand over her mouth in surprise.
“How… did that happen?”
Kara mimes quickly leaning forward.
“I have a hard head, I guess.”
“So, I should be careful,” Lena comments, dropping her hand. She slides subtly closer.
Kara’s inner voice is high pitched and hurriedly debating: careful around her or careful to kiss her? And, under Rao’s gladsome rays, was Lena flirting with her? And was Kara successfully receiving it? Were they flirting?
She bites her lip at the thought, mostly thinking, don’t fuck this up, and Lena tracks the movement, following it like a cat with a string. She wets her lips, and Lena wets her lips. Kara’s body knows what’s about to happen before her brain does, and her mouth parts, her lashes flutter.
There’s a knock at the window, and it jars them. Kara’s eyes snap open.
“Yes, Martin?” Lena directs to the driver, a tinge of annoyance in her voice.
“We’ve arrived at your penthouse, did you want to give me the address for your guest, Ms. Lu—”
“Just a moment,” Lena cuts him off. She turns to Kara. “Do you want to come up?”
All at once, she looks so hopeful and vulnerable, and Kara does want to, she really does… but.
“I’m sorry,” Lena waves away. “That’s embarrassing, forget I asked. Martin, Kara will give you her add—”
But Kara catches her wrist, and Lena pauses.
“I’ll come up.”
“Did you want another drink?” Lena asks from her absolutely immaculate kitchen. Kara knows she really shouldn’t be all that surprised at this point, but Lena’s home is really next freaking level.
“Oh, I’m fine,” Kara answers distractedly, listening to the sounds of clinking glass. She’s standing in the living room, gazing at the giant balcony attached to it. She can’t help but think how perfect that would be for a landing as Supergirl.
Weird. Oddly serendipitous and weird.
“Are you sure?” Lena calls, her voice closer. “It’ll make the whole seduction part less repugnant.”
Kara’s head swivels, seduction?! Her mouth drops open as Lena rounds the edge of the wall, holding two glasses of whiskey, neat.
“Joking, Kara,” she flashes her white teeth. “It won’t be repugnant.”
Kara takes her glass and tries not to laugh too loud or awkward. Her success is middling. Regardless, Lena crowds her space as she takes a sip of her drink, and Kara watches her throat bob. Lena’s eyes never leave hers.
“You’re welcome to sit,” Lena suggests, and Kara robotically turns, selecting a spot in the middle of Lena’s plush couch.
As soon as she’s down, Lena sits next to her, literally right next to her, and bends her arm at the elbow on the back edge of the couch. If she straightened it, her arm would be around Kara. She looks calmly ponderous and somewhat predatory.
“Is it strange to say it feels like I know you?” Lena suggests again.
Not at all, Kara thinks. This whole thing, honestly, it should be weird. It should feel forced and foreign, but it doesn’t. It feels worn and fitted like an oiled leather glove.
“Maybe we’ve worked together?”
“You never said what you do,” Lena replies, taking a timely sip. Kara watches the pink of her tongue dip and taste the liquor. She can practically hear it.
“I’m a reporter,” Kara croaks, taking a drink of whiskey herself. She tries not to cringe at the flavor but doesn’t quite manage at the burn in her throat. She tries to appreciate it, anyway, since it's probably one of those expensive whiskeys Alex always likes to point out at the store. You know, the kind that comes in a box with a high number advertised on the cover.
“A reporter?” Lena repeats, a bit shrill. She takes a bigger drink than Kara, no cringe.
“Is that bad?” Kara asks. “Are you someone important?”
“God, I’m not sure if I’d known—” Lena takes a breath, “I don’t think I would’ve invited a reporter up to my penthouse.”
“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint,” Kara smiles sadly, placing her drink on the coffee table and making a move as if to stand. “I can go.”
“No, no,” Lena places her hand on Kara’s forearm. She squeezes, eyebrows pinching briefly in confusion at the solid muscle she encounters there. “This is just—it’s off the record.”
Kara pretends to lock her mouth and throw away the key. Lena seems to relax and her gaze softens. Her hand stays on Kara’s arm, and she pulls her knees up onto the couch, just like in the limo. They touch at Kara’s thigh. She’s discarded her heels, too, and her feet are perfect and so very human. Useless in combat, sure, but cute.
“What do you do?” Kara asks.
“I—” Lena begins, casting her eyes skyward. She strokes over Kara’s skin absently. “I just try to be better.”
Kara likes that answer, but Lena laughs at herself after a moment, deprecating and self-loathing.
“My brother—he used to say the same thing. All the time. I only wonder, does the sentiment even mean anything anymore?”
“It does,” Kara tells her earnestly.
Lena reaches with her other hand, the bent elbow one, and plucks Kara’s glasses from her face. She sets them on the back of the couch, and their eyes meet again, unobstructed. There’s a naked vulnerability to Lena and her knees press bare against Kara’s thighs, skin warm even through Kara’s pants. Her arm drops behind Kara’s shoulder, and her fingers play with the soft blonde hair they find at the nape of her neck.
“You know, I did just sell a media empire,” Lena tells her, somehow still cognizant to the fact that they’re holding a conversation. That’s more than Kara can say, especially not when Lena’s voice has dropped into a range that’s catastrophically seductive. It’s making Kara question her sexuality.
“We practically work in the same business,” Lena adds, and she’s too good at this.
“Really?” Kara asks with a dry swallow, distracted as a teenage boy when Lena applies pressure to the back of her neck with intent. Kara leans forward, a fly in her web, and Lena’s breath strikes her mouth, only a hair away.
Lena catches Kara’s lips in the middle of the question. This kiss is chaste, exploratory, and consent seeking. The second kiss is not.
The second kiss turns into a third and a fourth and a fifth kiss. It has Kara slotting their tongues together like puzzle pieces. It has Kara pulling Lena closer by the elbow, the other hand working independently to free Lena’s hair from it’s ponytail prison. Once it’s loose, Kara rakes her nails across Lena’s scalp, and Lena groans, rocking into her. She drops her empty whiskey glass, and it hits the floor behind the couch with a thump. Somehow it doesn’t break and rolls away.
They ignore it.
Kara’s clouded by the expensive way she smells. She’s overcome by the way Lena’s angling herself into her lap. She can taste her, and she’s soft and whiskey and mint. Lena’s heart races, and when she moans into Kara’s mouth, she’s sure it’s uniquely designed to break her.
This has never happened before. This kissing of a woman. This woman kissing.
But instead of the swirl of awkwardness and unfamiliarity, it feels like a homecoming. It doesn’t feel like her day was derailed by Lena of Unknown Last Name, a woman who used smooth lines and suggestive eyebrows to pick her up at a Midvale diner, a woman who plied her with alcohol and is fully in her lap now and currently untucking her shirt. It feels right.
It feels a little like Déjà vu.
This time it’s Kara’s phone who interrupts them.
“I have to go,” she mumbles, detaching her face from Lena’s and pulling her phone from her pocket. She glances down to see the red and flashing Supergirl emergency notification and reconsiders chucking her phone into space.
“You should stay,” Lena purrs against her neck, mouth open and tongue dragging up behind that spot, Rao, that spot behind ear. Kara’s pretty sure every single hair on her body just stood up, raised and ready for action.
“I—I have to—” fuck, what are things? What are lies? Lena’s hand works itself under Kara’s shirt, and she maps her abs like a blind person reading braille.
“Jesus Christ,” Lena whispers, that same confused pinch to her eyebrows as she swipes her hands over Kara’s stomach muscles. “You’re sculpted like a Greek God.”
Kara blushes, fire truck red, which reminds her, a child could be burning to death right now. So many children. A bus full.
“Fuck, I really have to go,” Kara stands from the couch, lifting Lena with her. Since when had she planted both hands firmly on her ass? They don’t want to move.
Lena doesn’t seem to mind.
“Strong,” is all she says, biting her lip hard and sliding out of Kara’s arms and back down to her feet.
“I’m so sorry, it’s an emergency.”
“Call me,” Lena replies. “Would you do that? I’d like it.”
Kara is already nodding, handing Lena her phone. Lena hands it back, contact saved.
“Please call,” she repeats as Kara rushes to the front door. “Wish me a happy valentine’s day when you call!”
When Kara gets home, it’s one in the morning and she’s covered in ash and slime. Technically, it was an “interplanetary viscous object,” but all Kara heard was space booger. She really can’t believe a flipping space booger redirected her from kissing a woman.
Kara calls Lena.
“Did you miss me?” Lena hums by way of answer. Kara is in the middle of removing her suit and getting into the shower, but she full on stops, arm bent at an odd angle.
“Yes,” Kara states to a static-y silence.
“Is everything okay?”
Kara grumbles, removing the rest of the super suit.
“It was basically a false alarm, but…” Kara pauses, working herself up to it. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
She swears she can hear Lena smile half way across the city.
“I lied earlier,” Lena tells her, sounding sleepy and cuddly. Sleepy cuddle sexy. “In the diner. I like nice. You’re nice, Kara.”
There’s a longer pause, and Kara listens to every tiny detail: fabric rustling against fabric, Lena taking an inward breath. She imagines Lena’s lungs expanding, her ribs, her chest rising.
“Will you meet me at a fundraiser tomorrow night?” she asks, hopeful. “It’s at Griffith Observatory. It’ll be special, and…” Kara imagines that sinful lip bite. “I want to see you again.”
“Of course,” Kara answers too quickly to sound suave.
The next day, Lena texts Kara the address. She calls it a ‘boring mandatory thing for work,’ but she does mention it’s for a children’s hospital, and she does say she’ll be there early to talk with some of the kids before the event. She described that as ‘the best part of her job’ and added a winky emoji.
Lena sends emojis, cute!
The whole thing is heart-warming, really, and even though it’s been less than 24 hours, Kara feels her entire body attuning to Lena the way those giant satellites she’s never seen in real life shift to locate targets in James Bond movies. Or something less pop culture related and something more romantically inclined (flower following the sun, ocean gravitating to the moon), you get it. That’s her right now.
So, Kara will be there early. Griffith observatory at 7 PM.
Alex is still actively trying to talk to her, albeit in a very indirect and miffed way. Meaning only through all capitalized texts that Kara ignores. When they were getting debriefed about the space booger last night, Alex was acting very arms crossed and dagger eyes, and she didn’t offer Kara any of her gummy bears.
“What were you doing last night?” she’d asked suspiciously instead.
“You have lipstick all over your face, Kara,” she left the room before Kara could reply.
What would she even tell Alex about meeting Lena? And what was Lena’s last name? Alex was sure to look her up in every conceivable database on earth.
She’d have to find out. It's probably not a critical detail.
When Kara arrives, she’s met with a breathtaking panoramic view of National City. It’s a thankfully cloudless night, and she can easily spot the CatCo tower in the distance. She makes a delighted sound at the sight, something Alex refers to as her “Disney princess chirp.”
Inside, she walks past the giant replicas of Saturn and Jupiter, the interactive displays of constellations, and makes her way to the observatory deck.
She finds Lena there conducting a tour, dressed impeccably in another silky, tucked blouse and pencil skirt combo. She looks amazing in green. This time, her hair is plaited and styled to the side, and Kara’s not sure how Rao created a creature so perfect, jet black and pale.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet,” she tells the children. “Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”
She gestures around the planetarium.
“That’s a quote from Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest physicists and cosmologists of our time. It’s a fancy way of saying, never give up. Now who wants to use the biggest telescope in North America?”
All of the kids raise their hands and excitably form a line, some in assisted wheel chairs, others with casts and shaved hair. Kara smiles and begins to make her way to the group.
“Ms. Luthor, Ms. Luthor,” a kid pulls on the lower part of Lena’s skirt.
Kara stops dead. Lena looks up at the movement and sees her there, her smile wavering.
“You haven’t moved in our game yet,” the boy tells her, and Lena shakes herself back to attention.
“You know where it’s going to be, Grayson.”
“Knight to C4?”
Kara’s mind is still reeling, stuck like a broken record. She glances frantically around the room. The hung banners read L-Corp. The directional signs read L-Corp. The check in desk at the front (that Kara had blitzed past) it, too, had read L-Corp.
Kara snaps back to watch Lena LUTHOR slide open her phone and click around.
“Knight to C4.”
It’s probably his sister, right? She’s in business. She’s crazy rich. It’s not a common name, and FUCK, they look alike.
“I will beat you,” the kid grumbles, taking his place in line. “As soon as I get back to the hospital!”
“I believe it,” Lena says indulgently, taking a few steps in Kara’s direction.
Kara feels the curtain rising. It’s time to act like a normal person, but her mind won’t stop chanting,
“Ruthless,” she manages to say breathlessly to Lena. She’s relieved it wasn’t ‘Luthor.’
Lena’s eyes look pained, the smile at once unsure.
“So, my last name,” she says, taking a direct approach. “Was it wishful thinking to think that a reporter in National City would have already known who I was?”
“It’s, it’s,” Kara stammers, smiling with borderline hysterics. It’s the same reaction she’d had when Alex had asked ‘how bad it was’ when a Harpi had punched her right in the face (it had broken her nose.)
Lena laughs bitterly.
“No, no,” Kara tries to encourage. It’s not convincing. “It’s not bad.”
Mainly, she’s wondering why no one had told her that Lex friggin Luthor’s sister lived in National City. Lex Luthor, who had just staged a hostile takeover of America. Lex Luthor, who Kara had just stopped a few weeks ago. No one could be bothered to brief Supergirl about a blood relative of his living in her proximity? And, all seeing Rao!, she had kissed her! Lena had been in her lap! Whatthefuck!
Alex was going to murder her when she found out.
“No, it’s fine, I get it,” Lena says watching the terrible conflict play out over Kara’s face. There’s a significant measure of resignation to her tone. “I don’t blame you for not wanting to associate with the sister of a xenophobic murderer.”
Lena checks back on the group of children. Her feet tap antsy as if she’d just talked herself out of walking away completely.
“I just,” she sighs. She starts over. “I want to make the world a better place, you know? I want my company to be a force for good.”
Kara still can’t find the words to reply, mouth open like a fish on dry land. Lena just seems so—sincere. Kara had seen a lot so far: vulnerability, kindness, confidence, intelligence, sexiness. Lena didn't seem like an evil mastermind who would manipulate and trick her.
“I just want to make a name for myself outside of my family, but I understand if you don’t want to be involved. Please stay and enjoy yourself,” Lena tells her graciously, holding up a hand as if to touch Kara’s elbow but then thinking better of it at the last moment. “I’ll leave you alone.”
The hand goes to rub at the back of her neck instead. A kind of armor falls over her face, the boardroom look from yesterday, and Lena walks away. Lena walks away, and Kara lets her.
But she doesn’t leave. It just doesn’t sit right. Every fiber in her being tells her that she can trust Lena. Plus, being without Lena is yesterday all over. It’s everything that’s wrong.
Instead, Kara waits (after discreetly inhaling several serving trays of appetizers.) She waits just outside of the observatory until everyone is filing out and the fundraiser is over. Lena is nearly the last to leave, and Kara jumps up when she sees her, up from the steps just below where Lena pauses, smiling with surprise, small and to the side in that way she does.
“I thought you left,” she tells Kara, closing the gap between them, standing on the step just above. She seems to be enjoying her (brief) height advantage.
“I stole this from one of your table arrangements,” Kara tells her, handing her a rose she had, in fact, taken from a vase at one of the special reserved seats in the lobby.
“You’re gifting me my own flower,” Lena smirks. “How kind.”
“Isn’t it the thought that counts?”
“I suppose,” Lena smiles, tucking the rose under her arm. “What made you stay?”
“I don’t care about your name,” Kara tells her with finality. “You seem nice.”
Lena takes a second to process the callback to their previous conversation. Then, she laughs.
“No one likes nice.”
“You do, and I do too.”
Kara reaches for Lena’s hand, presses palm to palm. She indicates the observatory.
“Is that still open?”
Somehow, Lena gets them on the roof (Kara assumes it’s a benefit to being a billionaire.) Somehow, Kara finds a blanket (it’s a benefit to Kara being resourceful because it’s actually two folded up tablecloths.)
They end up laid out on the roof with Lena shivering until Kara pulls her closer. She squeezes, and Lena squeaks like a kitten.
“You’re so warm,” she says after she relaxes a little, draping a hand over Kara’s chest. “Tell me about the constellations, Casanova.”
Kara looks down at Lena, her fluttering eyelashes, her just fading maroon lipstick. Lena is definitely the Casanova between them, no doubt about it.
“Well, that’s the dog star,” Kara looks up, pointing to it with a finger. Lena pivots her head to see. “And that’s, well, the Elephant constellation.”
Lena scoffs into Kara’s collar bone.
“No, it is not.”
“Yes, it is,” Kara persists. “I’m pretty sure its academic name is the Elephantits—squadrant.”
“Did you just say the squadrant?” Lena asks in disbelief, but she’s also laughing, so Kara considers it a win. She knows she could go into some dissertation level explanation of the Earth's astronomy, but this is absolutely more fun.
She waves at the air.
“Can’t you see it? The full—pride of elephants?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s a herd.”
Kara makes arcing motions with her pointer fingers. “It’s a parade, I’m the expert here. Don’t you see, those are the tusks, and the big, flappy ears.”
Lena is still laughing, and she hits Kara lightly in the ribs.
“No, you are making all of this up.”
Kara giggles and hugs her tighter, holding her captive and limiting her ability to hit her again.
“Do you want to hear an astronomy joke?”
“Oh god, I’m not sure if I can withstand it.”
“I’ll take that as a yes. How does the man on the moon cut his hair?”
“How?” Lena humors her.
Lena laughs again, and she breaks free. She tickles Kara’s ribs, forcing Kara to feign a reaction to it, and they tussle, Kara writhing this way and that. When they’ve tired themselves, Lena angles her face up. Her lips ghost across Kara’s.
“I’m going to marry you,” she says, and Kara feels it right then and there.
She’s happy. Everything is fixed.
Lena drops Kara off later that night at her apartment. They make out in the back of her fancy car. It’s glorious and shocking and Kara would’ve never believed it. She doesn’t know how or when she became Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. At least, she and Lena get to kiss on the mouth. Maybe someday even on a piano.
Kara smiles all the way up to her apartment, keys jingling. She smiles all the way until she turns her lights on in the living room and finds a shadow sitting on her couch.
“Oh my god, Alex!” Kara flies back, crashing into her wall, cracking several bricks with her body. “Why are you waiting in the dark like that?”
“Kara,” Alex replies, stone cold calm like the time she’d discovered her secret stash of double stuffed Oreos missing.
“Give me some warning, why don’t you?” Kara breathes, throwing her things onto the island.
“I’ve been calling you all night,” Alex snaps. “What more warning do you need? A bat signal?”
“Where have you been all day?” she dives right in. “And what the hell happened to your floor?"
Kara looks down at a long strip of floor where the varnish has been worked off. She didn't remember doing that?
"Also, I got this weird report from J'onn about stolen tech, and now I find this,” Alex indicates a black box Kara’s never seen in her lap. It has a small logo Kara can't quite make out. It's sleek and fastidiously designed.
"Is that the new Playstation?"
“NO, it was under your bed, and I’m worried, Kar. I think I know what it is, and I’m worried you might’ve—”
“I met someone, Alex,” Kara feels the sudden impulse to interrupt her, smiling brightly. Whatever Alex was about to say sounded like a downer, and she wants to stay upper. She brushes some brick dust off of her shoulder.
Alex sets her jaw in a steel-bending clench.
“You met someone.”
“Yeah, a woman! Can you believe it?”
“I—” Alex looks completely taken aback. “A woman.”
She shoots Kara another plant withering stare.
“What’s her name?”
Alex closes her eyes and gives every indication that she doesn't want to hear this.
“Lena…?” she gestures for the last name.
Alex stands from the couch, politely places the black box on the table, and turns to scream at the brick wall Kara had just cracked with her body. It reverberates out of the open window and down into the city, and Kara glances back down to see that the black box reads, "L-corp."