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Bizarre Love Triangle

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It's a shame to be polite now
To hesitate's a sin
Coming up and up my mind, babe
And let the news rush in
I wanna hold you in the gilded morning
I wanna love you in the secret night

“I Wanna Fuck You Till I'm Dead” - YACHT

 

 

On Monday morning, when Lena enters the L-Corp lab at 7AM, she’s not at all surprised to find the doors unlocked and the lights on. Half the time, Brainy beats her in. The two of them typically work silently for a couple of precious hours before the rest of the staff start filtering in and distract them with social interactions.

Brainy has his head bent, staring into his microscope. Although he undoubtedly heard Lena come in, he doesn’t spare a second’s worth of attention away from his work.

Lena greets him with, “I hope you went home last night.”

“No, but as I interpret your statement as a question as to whether I worked all night, I can assure you that I did not.”

Normally, this would be the end of the conversation. These early morning staff-less hours are valuable, and neither of them likes to waste it. But, well, things happened that weekend, and they sort of concerned Brainy.

Lena begins delicately. “Did you see Nia?”

Brainy doesn’t move, doesn’t look up from his microscope, but his smile is evident. “Yes.”

“Are things going well between you two?”

“I believe so.”

“Have you…” Now, how to phrase this. “Is it getting serious? I mean, have you met each other’s friends and such?” Clean the reels and break out the tackle box, because Lena’s going fishing for information.

“No.”

As it turns out, some fish are annoyingly unhelpful. “Nia works at CatCo, right?”

“Yes.”

“Does she talk about it?”

“Yes.”

Very, very unhelpful. Maybe she should be fishing with dynamite.

“Has Nia ever mentioned a Kara Danvers to you?”

Still glued to his microscope, Brainy hums as he thinks about the question. “Yes. One of her friends from the magazine, I believe.”

Finally, they’re getting somewhere. “What did she say about her?”

“That they work together at the magazine.”

“Is that all?”

“She’s nice. Likes food.”

“Does she also breathe air and walk on two feet?” Lena asks sarcastically.

“Well, I’d assume.”

This is probably Lena’s fault in the first place. She should’ve known that this would happen. It’s like fishing in a rain puddle.

“All right. Thanks, Brainy.”

She pauses, wondering if Brainy is finally going to ask why she’s asking these questions.

But all he says is, “Yup, okay.”

***

The next time they meet, it’s at a chocolatier near Rockefeller Center, a few blocks north from Lena’s apartment.

In the week since they’ve last seen each other, there’s been almost no communication. No calls or texts, not until Kara sends a text on Friday night asking Lena what her plans were for the next day.

Lena texts back “nothing,” then cancels her spa plans with Sam. Sam would understand. If she knew. Which she doesn’t. Lena’s told no one of what happened. Because some part of Lena thinks that there’s really nothing to tell. Although things had gone well that night and they had exchanged numbers, she didn’t know whether she would see Kara again. She wasn’t sure that Kara would reach out. Wasn’t sure that Kara would respond if she reached out first. Wasn’t sure that Kara really wants to see her again.

She still isn’t sure, not until Kara’s sliding into the seat across from her, cheeks rosy from the cold, but wearing a dazzling, megawatt grin like she’s genuinely pleased to see her.

Or maybe it’s the spread she’s happy to see.

“I ordered, but I wasn’t sure what you wanted,” Lena explains as Kara marvels over the food on the table. There’s hot chocolates for both of them, each accompanied by a dish of decadently rich house-made whipped cream. There’s a colorful sleeve of assorted macarons, a box of champagne truffles, a chocolate eclair, and a chocolate mousse cake.

“Wow, I must have really impressed you the other night.”

“That you did.”

With a cheeky smile, Kara offers up: “Cake in the street, earthquake between the sheets?”

“Better than what you came up with last time.”

“Genius takes time.” Kara takes a sip of her hot chocolate, her face lighting up at the taste. “That’s good.”

Lena fidgets with her own cup, but doesn’t take a sip. “So I thought we’d talk about our arrangement. We didn’t really get into it last time.”

“Hey, I tried, but someone wanted to test the chemistry first.”

“It was the prudent move. Why bother with the details if we’re not compatible in bed?”

“But we are, right?” Kara asks, an eager grin on her face.

Lena rolls her eyes, but there’s a fond smile on her face. “Yes, Kara, we are. In case that wasn’t evident by my vocal appreciations last time and today’s chocolate gifts.”

“Just checking. Okay, let’s talk details.”

Kara picks up her fork, digging into the cake. She takes a bite, sucking at the fork to get at the last bit of frosting, closing her eyes to savor the rich, creamy, chocolate-y goodness, and lets out a long, drawn-out sigh of contentment. The sound reaches Lena’s ears, sending a shiver of want down her spine.

And she blurts out, “Do you want to take this to go?”

***

When Kara takes her second bite of cake, it’s hours later. She’s on Lena’s couch, naked beneath the throw blanket that’s usually kept neatly folded and draped on the couch’s back. Next to her, Lena nibbles at a macaron that Kara had thrusted into her hands.

They didn’t quite make it to the bed this time. Maybe that had been the plan, but seconds after walking through the front door, Lena found herself shoved up against the wall, Kara’s lips on hers. Before she even had the chance to take off her coat, she found herself pantsless and Kara kneeling before her, mouth at the ready. She comes like that, leaning against the wall by her front door, still wearing her jacket. Then Lena, intending to reciprocate, started to drag Kara towards the bedroom. They made it as far as the living room before, lips glued together and bodies tangled up in each other, they crashed to the floor and Lena decided to just go ahead and stick her hand between Kara’s legs right there.

“So,” Kara starts. “Details?”

Which is probably something they should’ve discussed before they had sex again. Oh, well. Too late now.

Lena polishes off the macaron, using the opportunity to think about how to start this conversation. “What are your ground rules?”

Kara frowns in concentration, thinking it over. “I don’t know if I have that many. We’ve already talked about not sleeping with other people. And you already know that this ends when Mike comes back. That’s about it for me. What about you?”

Lena looks at Kara intently, holding her gaze for a beat before answering so that Kara understands how serious she is. “The second you even think you might be feeling something, you have to tell me. For your sake and mine. I’m deadly serious about where I’m at emotionally. I can not handle romantic entanglements right now.”

“Same,” Kara nods enthusiastically. “But you really don’t have to worry about that. My heart belongs to Mike. It always has.”

“Okay,” Lena replies, feeling herself relax a little. “I suppose there’s not much else I need. It’s not like I have a ton of experience with this.”

“So we’ll figure it out together as we go,” Kara says confidently. “And of course if you start feeling like you’re ready for a relationship and you want to start dating people, just let me know. I won’t mind. We can stop whenever.”

“Same applies for you. If you do meet somebody you’re interested in-”

“The only person I’m interested in lives in a different country right now,” Kara asserts firmly. “But yes, I’ll let you know.”

“What about things like spending the night?”

“If it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me. It doesn’t bother me.”

“And what if we run into each other somewhere with our friends?”

“Um, full disclosure, I already told my sister.” Kara shifts to see if Lena’s upset by this news. When she sees Lena give a small shrug, she relaxes and pushes on. “And um, Mike. I kind of told Mike?”

That does get a reaction from Lena, but it’s curiosity more than anything else. “How did that go?”

“Fine? We kinda have this agreement that we wouldn’t get too much into details. But he knows that I’ve, uh, made a new friend. Honestly, he seemed happy for me?”

“Because then he feels better about what he’s already done?”

Kara wisely decides that it’s best not to get into that subject. “Anyway, as for other people, I don’t mind telling them the truth. My friends already know what my situation with Mike is, so it’s up to you. If you don’t want us to tell anyone, we won’t.”

“I don’t mind if people know.” And if it somehow gets back to Veronica, well, that’s just a bonus. “What about non-sexual activities?”

“What, like this?” With her fork, Kara gestures at the two of them. “We’re doing okay right now, aren’t we? Not a big deal.”

“I just don’t want us to cross any boundaries.”

“The whole point of casual sex is to keep things casual, right? Seems counterintuitive to have a whole bunch of rules. I know what I want and I’m not going to get attached just because we share a plate of momos. If that’s true for you too, I don’t see why we can’t hang out.”

A pleased smile spreads across Lena’s face, feeling assuaged by Kara’s assurances. It seems like this can be easy after all.

The only thing she’s left wondering is: “What are momos?”

With a loud, startled gasp, Kara squeals, “What do you mean ‘what are momos’? They’re Nepalese dumplings. Have you never had one?”

“No?” Lena answers uncertainly, wondering what the big deal is.

And it’s almost as if Lena had said that O-Town was the best ‘90s boy band or something crazy like that, because Kara looks positively aghast at her response. “Lena! You said you’ve lived here your entire life! What have you been doing? What do you usually eat?”

Thoroughly baffled by Kara’s agitation over what seems to be a trivial matter, Lena answers, “Salads? Sushi? I don’t know, I usually just grab something from Whole Foods on my way home.”

“Oh, Lena,” Kara groans, sadness permeating every syllable. “No, no, no. This won’t do at all.” Then she’s throwing aside the blanket, scrambling to her feet, and grabbing for their clothes. She tosses Lena’s shirt at her. “Come on, get dressed. We’re going to Jackson Heights right now.”

“Isn’t that in Queens?”

“Yes! Now, come on, let’s go.”

Somehow, Lena, who can’t even remember when she last left Manhattan, finds herself being dragged along for an hour-long subway trip into Queens. The entire way there, Kara chatters about dumplings, from potstickers to momos to perogies to khinkali. The woman is an encyclopedia of all things dumplings.

And Lena thinks to herself that it all makes sense now. This is why this gorgeous, intelligent woman is stuck pining after some dude who’s off banging any number of women on the other side of the world.

Because Kara Danvers is a big freakin’ weirdo.

“Behold, Lena,” Kara says as she holds up a momo with her chopsticks, staring fixedly at the dumpling with a maniacal look in her eyes. They’ve made their way to their destination, a dimly lit restaurant on the main street through Jackson Heights, where Kara’s on a first name basis with the entire wait staff. “The dumpling skin is thick, but not too thick, to balance out the deep, unctuousness of the beef filling. The filling may be denser than what you’re used to, more meatball-like. No need to be delicate here, we’re not handling soup dumplings.”

“Oh my god,” Lena mutters underneath her breath, wondering what the hell she’s gotten herself into.

But the big weirdo is right. The dumplings are delicious, along with all the other dishes that Kara orders, with ingredients that Lena’s never heard of, let alone identify. There’s chiura, some kind of dry, crispy rice substance; warm roti with a trio of dipping sauces; yak cheese pakora; and an intimidating-looking dish called goat bhutan.

“Okay, but what’s in it?” Lena asks again after unsuccessfully trying to get Kara to explain the dish.

“Trust me, it won’t help you to know.” Seeing the distrust on Lena’s face, Kara says kindly, “You don’t have to try it.”

For Lena, these words are the opposite of the intended effect. Feeling like the gauntlet’s been thrown, she picks up an unidentifiable chunk with her chopsticks and pops it into her mouth. It’s savory, chewy, a little spicy, and not quite as weird as she expected.

“Not bad.”

“Wow.” Kara chuckles, looking thoroughly impressed. “I’ve been trying to get Mike to try that one for years.”

Through their meal, they share stories.

Kara tells Lena about the apartment she shares with her roommate Indigo, who might be certifiably insane. (“She’s so pathologically afraid of bedbugs, she literally makes me change my clothes at the door every time I come home and seal my shoes in a ziploc.”)

Lena tells Kara about the time she was caught in flagrante in the chemistry lab with another girl by a nun at her all-girls Catholic boarding school. (“The weirdest part was that she wasn’t even mad. Or surprised. She just shrugged and said ‘oh, I guess it’s you two this year’.”)

At the end of their dinner, sipping on yak butter tea, Lena discovers that she’s actually having a really good time with the big freakin’ weirdo.

And this, Lena thinks, might be the beginning of an amazing friendship.

With benefits.

***

Occasionally, Kelly joins the Danvers sisters for their traditional Sunday morning brunch at their local diner. Which is perfect, because Kelly’s a psychologist who specializes in dealing with trauma, and Alex seems to be experiencing plenty of that right now.

“What the hell do you mean ‘we don’t have ground rules’?” Alex screeches, her voice cutting through diner din, drawing the attention of nearby patrons and staff. “How the hell do you not have ground rules?!” Kelly places a placating hand on Alex’s forearm, stroking gently to calm her down.

Basically don’t have ground rules,” Kara corrects. “We don’t sleep with other people, we stop when Mike comes back, and we tell each other right away if we start to develop feelings or if we meet somebody else we’re interested in. You know, just normal, healthy, communication.”

Blinking rapidly, Alex sputters like a dying engine. “Wha- norm- health- what- how-” She forces herself to take a deep breath. “Kara. What part of this nonsense is normal and healthy to you? No rules?! Sorry, basically no rules. What about texting? Talking on the phone? Birthdays, holidays? Valentine’s Day? Did you talk about any of that?”

“I don’t know, we can figure it out as we go. I don’t see the need for a complicated system when we both know where we stand. Besides, there’s an expiration date on this.”

Incredulous, Alex shakes her head. “Unbelievable. It’s like you’re not even trying to stop yourself from falling for this woman. What’s the difference between this and dating?”

“The difference is there’s a clock,” Kara replies with a shrug. “It doesn’t matter if we set rules. In six months, it’s done. Nothing’s going to come from this.”

The noises Alex makes are strangled and inhuman.

Intervening, Kelly pats Alex on her hand, reminding her to relax. “Alex is just worried. She doesn’t want to see you fall for someone who can’t reciprocate those feelings.”

“I know. But, Alex, I’m an adult. You just have to trust that I know what I’m doing.”

Alex folds her arms across her chest and looks at her little sister with a mixture of frustration and resignation.

“Fine,” she says. “But I’m still reserving ‘I told you so’ rights.”

***

“Something’s different about you,” Andrea says.

They’re having drinks at one of Andrea’s favorite cocktail bars, a swanky, noisy joint in Midtown with overpriced drinks. Sam perks up at the subject, but says nothing and merely raises her glass to her lips as she watches Lena for her reaction.

Briefly, Lena considers deflection. But why? It’s not supposed to be a secret.

“I’ve been having casual sex with a woman I met on the subway who has a boyfriend in Germany.”

There would be silence, except there’s nowhere that’s silent in this bar. So what they hear is normal bar sounds, glasses clinking, babbling chatter, raucous laughter.

“Yeah, that was not my guess,” Sam says. “I just thought you bought new shoes.”

Looking pained and already knowing the answer, Lena nevertheless asks, “Do we really need to talk about this?”

“Uh, yes,” Andrea says emphatically. “What else are we going to talk about? Ruby’s soccer game? Again?”

Hey.”

“Apologies, apologies, love her to death, kisses, love, happiness,” Andrea tosses out at Sam. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell us. How long has this been going on?”

“Just a couple of weeks and we’ve only met up twice. It’s very casual and superficial, but it’s been good and distracting.”

“You said you met on the subway?” Sam questions. “Seriously?”

“It was the day we ran into Veronica at brunch.” Even now, recalling the event weeks after, it fills Lena with a sense of dread and pain. “I was a mess on the way home. And Kara, she… well, she just walked up and offered me donuts to try and make me feel better. We got to talking from there. It turns out we know some people in common.”

“This random woman offered you donuts on the subway?” Andrea looks perturbed at the thought. “She sounds crazy.”

Crazy good in bed, Lena thinks as she says, “She’s normal enough.”

“But, Lena, she has a boyfriend.” Sam’s in worried mom mode, sitting on the edge of her seat, brows knitted in concern.

“That’s not an issue. They have an open relationship.”

Andrea emits a disgruntled, disbelieving snort. “Yeah, okay, I’ve heard that one before.”

Stiffening, Lena feels - probably irrationally - offended by the comment. “Kara’s not like that.”

“Sticking up for her already.” Lena does not like that mischievous glint in Andrea’s eyes. “Are you sure it’s as casual as you say?”

“Completely. It’s the perfect arrangement. Neither of us are emotionally available. I’m trying to get over Veronica and she has a boyfriend. He’s apparently the love of her life. It’s a cute story.”

“As cute as a subway donut meet-cute?”

“It wasn’t a meet-cute. It was just a regular meet.”

Undeterred, Andrea presses on, “Okay, but I remember your ‘casual hookups’, Lena. They all want something more eventually.”

“That’s true,” Sam supplements. “Didn’t you and Veronica start off as a casual thing?”

“It’s a gift and a curse,” Andrea says. “They all fall for Lena Luthor eventually.”

“Not this one,” Lena responds, willing herself to feel as confident as she sounds.

“Tread carefully,” Andrea cautions anyway. “And do something gross like burp in her face so she doesn’t fall for you.”

Sam helpfully adds, “Tell her that you’re really into Ayn Rand.”

“Show absolute zero interest when she tells you a story. In fact, unless you’re having sex, never look up from your phone. Oh- or even better, stare at your phone during sex too.”

“Make her pay for everything, except for a hotdog this one time at a minor league baseball game, then a week later, ask her to pay you back with interest.”

Lena arches a brow at Sam. “That was far too specific to be random.”

Sam shrugs nonchalantly. “High school boyfriend. We all make mistakes.”

“All in all,” Andrea concludes. “Just try to be less of your perfect self.”

***

It’s Lena who texts first this time. For the third Saturday in a row, Kara shows up at Lena’s apartment.

They don’t say much to each other before they get down to business. They know what the point is. They know what the other person wants. And maybe, on some level that neither will admit to, they remember the conversations they had with their respective concerned friends and family that week, casting a pall over their willingness to engage socially.

At least it doesn’t affect the sex. That part just seems to be getting better, as they learn each other’s bodies, talking one another through what works and what doesn’t.

They make it to a bed this time. Almost. Kara’s half-on the bed, legs dangling over the edge, spread apart for Lena, who’s kneeling on the floor, head buried between her thighs. Lena’s tongue laps at Kara’s clit while she pumps her fingers in and out.

When Lena sucks, and Kara gasps out, “Not so hard.” So then Lena learns when to ease off before it gets to be too much. Kara grunts and digs her fingers into Lena’s hair; Lena knows she’s close, so keeps up the tempo until Kara stiffens and comes.

The lessons go the other way too. When Kara recovers, she pulls Lena on top of her. She starts caressing Lena’s breasts, only to have Lena grab her hand and shove them down.

“Can’t wait,” Lena pants impatiently. “Need your fingers now.” So then Kara learns when Lena’s had enough foreplay.

When Lena starts making a certain guttural grunt, Kara knows that it’s time to change the angle of her thrust to bring her to completion. Lena comes, crying out in ecstasy as she clenches around Kara’s finger, then sags, sated, against the blonde. Kara gives Lena a moment to recover. Then she gently rolls Lena off her, but keeps the woman in her arms.

“Notes?”

“Um…” Lena tries to think through the mental fog. “Good. Really good. Uh. You can be a little rougher if you’d like, but it’s all really, really good. Really, really, really good.”

Kara presses a kiss to Lena’s shoulder, hiding a proud grin. “Can I get another really?”

Playfully, Lena swats at her. “Don’t make me regret inflating your ego.”

Feeling cold, Lena pulls the sheet up around them. They lie like this, side-by-side, for a while. After a few minutes, Kara rolls off the bed and starts looking around for her clothes. Lena watches her from the bed, unmoving. She feels compelled to say something, although she’s not quite sure what.

“You can stay if you want.”

“Um…” It’s clear that Kara’s looking for an excuse when she doesn’t have one. She finds her shirt draped on the dresser, where Lena had carelessly flung it.

Helping, Lena comes in with, “Sunday brunch with Alex?”

“Yeah, that’s right.” Kara pulls her shirt over her head, then moves to pick up her jeans off the floor. “I have to meet Alex in the morning.”

“Not at all,” Lena responds, feeling something that she chooses to label as relief. “I’ll get you an Uber.”

“No, I can take the subway.”

“It’s the least I can do.”

In the midst of slipping on her sweater, Kara’s movements slow. “I’d really prefer it if you didn’t. It, just, um, makes me funny, like you’re paying me to leave?”

That strikes a chord. Not a good one. Lena sits up in bed, letting the sheet fall to the side and baring her torso. No point in modesty after what they just did.

“I would never do that to you.”

“No, I know. It just- I’d just prefer it if you didn’t. It would just feel, um, transactional, you know?”

“It wouldn’t feel quite as transactional if you stayed over,” Lena suggests.

“I know, I know.” Now fully dressed, Kara stands in the middle of Lena’s bedroom, looking awkward and sheepish, putting her hands in her pocket, then taking them back out, like she doesn’t know what to do with them. “But, um, I can’t. So.”

That’s it then. Lena doesn’t see the point in forcing the issue. Kara doesn’t want to stay. Lena’s offered twice now, already once more than her pride would normally permit. She reaches for her robe, tugging it on as she moves towards the door.

“I’ll walk you out.”

She leads Kara out the bedroom, down the hallway to the front door, which she opens and then steps to the side to allow Kara passage. Kara shrugs on her winter coat and lingers at the doorway. Lena leans against the door, waiting for her to leave.

“I, um, had a good time tonight,” Kara says.

“Same.” If Lena sounds a little stiff, it’s just because she’s tired and would like to go to bed. So she insists on thinking to herself.

“Okay,” Kara says in response to nothing. She’s still standing in the doorway, and Lena just doesn’t get it. Kara wants to leave. So she should.

Lena inclines her head toward the outside hallway. “Goodnight, Kara.”

“Right,” Kara mutters, taking her dismissal in stride. She leans forward and kisses Lena on the cheek. “Good night, Lena.”

“Good night.” Lena closes the door behind Kara’s departing figure. She leans against the door, closing her eyes, feeling… she’s not quite sure what.

Bed. She should go to bed.

As Lena heads towards her bedroom, she hears two soft knocks sounding at the door. She pauses, heart rate spiking in anticipation.

It is, of course, who she thinks it is.

“Hey.” Kara’s wearing a shy smile, hands shoved deep into her coat pocket, rocking back and forth on her feet. “I’m kind of hungry. You wanna go get an arepa with me?”

Lena chooses not to label what she feels in the moment.

She just says, “Give me a minute to get dressed.”