It was brilliant, she'd give Andrea that. A Valentine's Day collaboration with the city's favourite super, the proceeds going to various charities in the process. Brilliant enough for Kara to don her cape in the middle of the workday and fly over to Andrea's window to agree to it in person.
The subsequent photoshoot was less so. Beginning with a smile, then a scrunched up one, a raised eyebrow and so on. Culminating in one where she was instructed to cross her arms and… flex. But that was over a week ago. The initial mortification of flailing before the camera like some performance monkey faded in the days that followed and Kara quickly found herself infected by the electrifying buzz of anticipation in the air.
At first, it was confined to the CatCo office, and when their walls could hold it no more, the energy spilled forth, sweeping through the streets of National City like a tidal wave of molasses with every teaser released.
Until finally, the rules of the game were announced:
1. Each copy of January's issue comes with 1 (one) card
2. The first to collect all 7 wins an afternoon with Supergirl on 14th February*********
The fine print filled a third of the page, courtesy of Alex no doubt. A quick glance through promised the lucky winner a threateningly-worded background check, strict regulations on venue and attire, plus a 100-page non-disclosure agreement to sign. That was it, she thought. Surely, no one would agree to all that just for a chance to meet her.
Wrong. Kara ate her words the next morning when Alex showed up bright and early to rub it in her face. She snatched her remote off the coffee table, switching the TV on with a click. It was the sight of every dystopian fantasy.
Frantic reporting from news anchors and footage of snaking queues at every newspaper stand filled her screen. And when she'd been sufficiently shocked awake, she came face to face with herself. Or rather, Supergirl in front of an orange background. Winking at the camera and captioned ‘I’m no photographer but I can picture us together’ in a fancy calligraphy font. She definitely should’ve vetoed that. Gaze gliding further left, she saw that Alex had filled in the ‘From:’ and ‘To:’ too, complete with an assortment of hand-drawn hearts beside Kara’s name.
“I thought you hated SuperValentine?” Kara questioned, sounding every bit betrayed. Her sister’s scowl still haunted her from when Supergirl broke the news at the DEO last week.
“Only as your boss. But as your sister? This is gold.” Alex took far too much glee in enunciating every single syllable, waving the card in front of her face. The same card found its way onto her dining table as she shepherded her sister out, mocking her from afar. Kara had half a mind to get rid of it. Would’ve, actually, if she weren’t already running late thanks to her uninvited guest.
Then her lunch break was interrupted by an ill-planned robbery.
"Hand over all your CatCo magazines now!" The masked man demanded, firing a warning shot in the air. Kara choked on her fries, having heard it from the confines of her office. Supergirl appeared at the scene before the bystanders could panic. Not the man though — perplexedly, he only screamed after.
“It’s Supergirl!” Gun clattering to the ground at the sight of her, Kara rushed forward to catch him as his limp form quickly followed suit. It was the fastest robbery she’d stopped to date. And to the most fanfare too. She found herself surrounded by the clicking of mobile phones and professional cameras — somehow, three separate news outlets had caught wind of it, rivalling even Supergirl with their speed.
"Oh, Supergirl! I don’t know how to thank you.” the cashier rounded the counter. She glanced down at the magazine in his hands. Oh no.
That was how she found herself zipping away, her very own copy of this month’s CatCo magazine tucked under one arm to the adulation of her crowd of fans. She flipped the magazine over mid-ascent, obscuring her picture from view. Not that there would be anyone to see at that altitude. It just felt like she was Narcissus absconding with her collapsible pool and the only thing breaking her immersion was the fact that she wasn’t drowning quickly enough. The magazine was deposited beside Alex's 'gift' once she arrived home, eventually buried under her growing pile of cards from all her friends. Except Lena.
"Lena!" Kara beamed at her, greeting her with a hug. "Come in! I got those kale chips you like so much." She led her into her apartment, past the disorganised pile of Supergirl cards. The footsteps behind her ceased.
"You've got quite the collection here." Lena traced over the laminated surface, voice teasing. Her features were clouded by an inscrutable expression; Kara couldn’t put a word to it but it definitely didn't match her tone.
She backtracked until she found herself beside her. "Yeah, everyone's been sending them to me. It feels kinda dumb now — agreeing to do this. The city's in chaos over it." Even as she spoke, Kara couldn't quite keep her eyes off Lena's fingers. How they stroked at Supergirl's cheek, her biceps, brushed over her family crest.
"I think they're endearing," Lena breathed, then retracted her hand. Their gazes had no choice but to meet now.
"Don't tell me you have your own collection too." Kara's breath faltered. She wasn't quite sure which answer she'd prefer.
"No?" She didn’t mean to tune in, swore on her life that it was an accident. But she did, hearing glimpses of the drumroll playing in Lena’s chest and feeling concern bloom in hers — if her heart beat any faster, Kara feared it’d fail.
"That's good. Great. Let's go watch some cop show. Alex benched me three days ago and I'm itching for some crime-fighting." Reaching out blindly for Lena's arm, Kara didn't protest when she felt fingers sliding against hers instead.
The frenzy was renewed when no winner came forth in the second week either. #SuperValentine was trending once more, with thousands lamenting that they'd collected all six designs except the elusive golden one. With that, Andrea announced a second edition of this month's issue — a historic first for CatCo. Although, Kara had a lingering suspicion this had been the plan all along.
The door clicked shut behind her. Andrea's gaze remained on the paperwork before her, seemingly unbothered by the intrusion. "Was the golden one even printed in any of the first editions?"
"Spending too much time on Twitter, are you?" Kara could practically hear the raised brow in her inflection. Andrea sighed, setting her pen down. "There was. Just one."
"Out of the hundreds of thousands we printed?"
"Yes, but it seems some poor soul misplaced it. Don't worry yourself too much, we'll have a winner by the end of the month. Now, if you would see yourself out." She didn't wait for her directive to come to fruition, busying herself with the next document in her pile.
Kara fiddled with her glasses and pulled the door open.
"Also, do remember that I could fire you at any moment the next time you think of bursting into my office." Andrea's voice was even, a deceptively still lake with undercurrents so vicious one could only sink and drown; Kara stood her ground but gulped all the same.
"Got it." The door shut noiselessly on her way out.
Kara Danvers [12:52] : Hey! Lunch tomorrow at your office?
Lena Luthor [13:01] : Sorry, busy. I can come over for dinner?
Kara sighed, slumping into her chair. She'd arrived at L-Corp, Big Belly Burger in hand only to discover that her unfettered access to Lena's office had been revoked. Or at least, it felt like it was.
Jen at the front desk babbled something about 'orders from Miss Luthor' and 'sensitive materials', as if Kara weren't indestructible. Lena knew full well that she's indestructible. What's up with her?
Entrusting Jen with Lena's share, Kara trudged back to CatCo, stuffing her mouth to fill the hole in her heart.
Her phone buzzed again and in her haste to read her new message, she left a smear of grease on her screen.
Lena Luthor [13:31] : Thanks for the burger. ♥️
She knew it. Whatever project Lena's got herself knee-deep in, it'd cause her to neglect her own meals —
The heart emoji. Kara nearly fell out of her chair at the sight of it. Since when did Lena send heart emojis? And more importantly, what did it mean?
Lena Luthor is typing…
Kara sat on the edge of her seat, literally, eagerly awaiting the next text. It disappeared and she slumped backwards again.
Takeout was ordered, additional pizza was on the way and Kara had cleaned herself up. All that's missing was Lena.
Three precise knocks on her door announced her arrival, as if her mere thought could summon her — a menace to both their productivity levels if that were true.
Kara rushed to greet her. They hugged, like they usually did — at least that didn't change. And together, they gravitated towards the couch as they waited.
The next knock meant food — pizza by the smell of it. Lena let out an amused chuckle at her exaggerated sniff.
"Good, I'm famished." These offending words carried over from the living room while she tipped the delivery man.
"Maybe you shouldn't skip meals then." Kara huffed, pizza box in hand.
"But you always stuff me when I'm over." The complaints were coming from her kitchen this time. Her neurons fired frantically at the slight whine in her voice, activating clandestine neural pathways and nudging her mind off course. Stuff Lena? She'd never done such a thing… in real life. Her face probably blended in with the box in hand like a colour swatch. She could almost see it. #ce2029 — fire engine red; the label floating right over her head.
An orchestra of light clinkings followed; it took her a long moment to realise what Lena was plotting.
"No! No pizza with cutlery. Only hands." Kara rushed over to stop her blasphemous act.
Lena held them up. A fork and a knife, one in each hand, her grip resolute. "I'm not getting my hands greasy on that." She said, a hint of challenge in her voice.
It was an elaborate ritual they performed, treading the same well-worn arguments each time. With Kara insisting on a hands-on experience and Lena resisting on the grounds of cleanliness, both sliding into a practiced deadlock. The end result was always the same — Kara placing the knife and fork back into their drawer and hand-feeding Lena instead. She was beginning to suspect that that was the outcome Lena desired, what with that sly quirk of her lips afterwards.
The large pepperoni disappeared before their Chinese takeout arrived.
Everything was how it should be — how they ignored the droning of the television in favour of each other, found comfort in each other, inched closer together until they pushed the boundaries of platonic distance with each other. It felt normal. Almost normal. But Kara couldn't bring herself to describe it as that, not with the elephant in the room. Lena knew Kara knew, and Kara knew that Lena did too.
"Is everything alright at L-Corp? I mean that 'sensitive material' you're working on." She didn't know how else to broach the topic but head-on.
Lena swallowed slowly. "Yes, everything's fine. I'll let you up again once the project's completed."
Accepting her explanation, Kara nodded along, quickly changing the subject. Lena audibly exhaled at that.
"So, do you think there'll be a winner soon? I'm getting kinda antsy about who I'm going out with."
Lena's eyes bulged out of their sockets. "I-I do hope so." She muttered into her takeout container, leaving Kara to wonder in silence what on earth had gotten into her friend.
True to Andrea's word, a winner had emerged. Just in time too, on the Sunday before January came to an end. The news broke at lunchtime — a ten-year-old girl by the name of Layla. And she had a golden retriever too! She'd fired off a host of excited texts to Lena and another warning Alex to go easy on the poor child. Her sister responded instantly with a gif of Supergirl doing a mock salute. As for Lena, she only got silence.
Checking her lock screen once more yielded the same result as the first seventeen times — no response.
Kara sighed, dropping her hands back against the hardwood surface of her table. One brushed over a cool, plasticky-smooth finish. Oh, right. Beside her lay the pile of Valentine's Day cards and the CatCo magazine that had since blended into the clutter in her apartment. She lingered on the magazine. It wouldn't hurt to see what she got. Either way, she'd get ammunition out of it — the obnoxious cards would be fired back at Alex, the sweet ones would be gifted to Lena and the suggestive ones… would be kept for herself, she supposed.
The envelope was in her hands now. All she needed to do was pull it out and —
Kara had to shield her eyes from it. It was blinding, like staring into the sun — her eyes stung from the unexpected beam of reflected light.
Staring intently at the card in hand, the seconds ticked by into minutes. Still, the question remained — what should she do with this? The buzz of her phone snapped her out of it well enough. She dove over to look. Not Lena, but this would suit her very well.
Lena was in her office. On a Sunday. Kara would be so mad at her but she wouldn't be impressed either if she gave her the cards in their current state. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Scylla and Chaybdis or whatever idiom spawned from that one Greek mythos — the fact was Lena found herself in a very difficult situation of her own design.
Her pen flowed over the laminated surface once more. Shit. Messed up yet again. She let out a dejected sigh. Into the discard pile it went. Good thing she had like a hundred of these.
"Miss Luthor, I think it looked fine the twentieth time." Jess interjected from the door. The concerned look on her face indicative of a greater interventional ploy; Lena paid it no mind.
"No, the L was off. And the K was too wide here." Her finger tapping against the perceived imperfections.
"How could I give them to Kara like this? I didn't even manage to collect the full set."
Jess shook her head and acquiesced, ducking back out to her desk. On a Sunday. Despite Lena's protests, she'd insisted on coming in with her. All because she made the foolish decision to hoard her Supergirl cards in her office.
"Jess? Please just go home. You needn't get embroiled in my personal matters." Lena called out. There was a faint murmuring outside.
"Jess?" She tried again, peering out from her desk to no avail. This would be the worst time for an assassination attempt.
And then she swooped in. Like an absolute vision with her hands behind her back.
"K-Kara?" She sputtered. They glanced in perfect synchronicity at the cards laid out over her desk — six piles, each a different design. There was no use in hiding it now; the jig was up.
"I'm sorry, I tried to collect all of them —"
"Sorry, I got so annoyed from all the teasing —"
"— but no matter what, I couldn't get my hands on the last one —"
"— that I just shoved my magazine aside —"
"— so I just thought I could use the six I had to —"
"— and I didn't look at it until today and I realised I —"
"Wait!" Lena threw her hands out. Talking over each other wasn't doing them any good. "One at a time."
Wordlessly, Kara gestured for her to go first.
"Okay, so I… wanted to collect all seven to ask you out." The mirthless laugh burst forth against her will. Kara began to speak but she held out her hand; she needed to have the last word before her imminent rejection. "It sounds so silly now that I've said it out loud and I completely understand if you want to leave." Lena never appreciated how something as natural as the act of speaking could be so hard until today. When her own body betrayed her, the vice grip in her throat withholding her breath.
"Oh, I…" Kara trailed off in favour of revealing what was hidden behind her back this entire time. Gleaming in all its cheap, golden glory was that card. Her glasses were pulled off her face and the Supergirl suit materialised over her clothes.
"Do you want to reenact it?" Kara asked. It was odd, hearing Supergirl speak with none of her usual self-assuredness. Lena almost forgot to nod.
The sound of Kara's throat clearing filled the air.
"Feel my suit. You know what it’s made of?" Kara read off of it. The Supergirl voice was back. Reaching out, Lena rested her palm on a sturdy bicep as instructed. Kara flexed harder, imitating her stance in the photo.
And with the card tilted towards her, Lena replied, "Girlfriend material."
"That's right. Your girlfriend material." Kara led her into her arms and Lena gladly burrowed into them, relishing the reassuring squeeze. "And don't you forget it."