The worst part, Lena thinks, is the redecorating.
Lex, frankly, has the worst taste in decor. Lena supposes it fits in with the rest of him—the garish chair with a freakishly-high back is perfect between the overwhelming scent of his cologne and the suits that were just a little too loose to be refined.
And yes, perhaps there’s more to be concerned about, like her father’s recent death, or the way Lex has ripped apart her life seam by seam until there was nothing left. But Lena doesn’t care about that. What she does care about is the gaudy red curtains that Jack is currently directing the workers to disassemble from her windows.
“Do you want those?”
Jack glances at her, a confirmation of whether she was talking to him. Lena gestures at the curtains and repeats, “Do you want these? I have no use for them.”
Jack lets out a snort. “As much as I love Lex—” He cuts himself off, wide-eyed and waiting for Lena’s reaction. When she gives none, he continues apprehensively, “—I mean, as much as your brother may have liked these curtains, I’m going to have to pass. The only way I’d use them would be as kindling for a fire.”
Lena only hums in acknowledgement, forcing herself to swallow the lump in her throat at Jack’s admittance to his admiration of her brother. Get it together, Luthor. Little boxes. You’re better than this.
Pushing aside her thoughts for later (or maybe never), Lena clears her throat. “Well, then, I suppose into the fire they’ll go. Or maybe just donate them.”
Jack nods at the workers, who carry them out of the room, before he turns back to Lena, who is now staring at nothing in particular on her laptop. A moment of silence passes, and then another, until Jack finally clears his throat.
“Listen, Lena, I—”
“Can you get Morgan Edge in here, please?” Lena interrupts him before he can ramble off what would inevitably be another empty apology and waste of her time. Jack just stares at her with an indescribable look for a moment, until he nods and turns to leave the room, gently shutting the door behind him.
Lena sits back in her new desk chair and lets out a breath she didn’t even realize she was holding, before pinching the bridge of her nose to ward off another impending headache. When Lionel had died, the fate of the National City Greyhounds was the last thing on her mind. The team had always been Lex’s, even when it technically was under the Luthor patriarch’s name.
But Lionel couldn’t truly have been a Luthor if he didn’t have a way to make Lena’s life just a little harder—even if it was from beyond the grave. Lena squeezed her eyes shut, trying to ward off the memory of Lex swearing in the background as the news broke that she was now the owner of the National City Greyhounds.
“I’ve given you everything, don’t you dare take this from me,” he said.
“No one loves you more than me,” he said.
“If you keep this team, you’re fucking dead to me. Go ahead,” he said.
And, well. Lena has never been one to back down from a challenge.
So yes, she had taken the mantle, but now she’s left with a team she barely cares about, a brother hell-bent on revenge, and frankly, not enough scotch for this shit.
The squeak of the door pulls Lena back to the unfortunate present, where Jack has now come back into the office, trailed by a smug looking man in a grey tracksuit. Lena gets up, taking her time to cross the room and pour a glass of her favorite scotch, swirling the amber liquid around before swallowing half of it in one go.
Carrying the glass back over to the desk, she sits back down at the desk, now facing Morgan Edge, who’s blatantly staring at an area below her face. Noticing her quirked eyebrow, he leans back in the chair, spreading his legs to take up as much space as possible, looking around. “I love what you’ve done with the place. Did you do it yourself or get some fruit to help you?”
Lena wryly smiles at him, placing the glass of scotch between the two of them as a barrier. “Classy, Edge. Truly a trademark of your time here with the Greyhounds.”
Edge accepts Lena’s words at face value—if the satisfied smile on his face is any indication—before asking, “So? Is there anything you need to get off your—” he glances back down, “—extremely impressive chest?”
Vaguely, Lena can see Jack staring out the side window and trying very hard not to witness the impending train-wreck in front of him.
“I don’t have all day, Ms. Luthor.” Edge leers at the name, almost spitting it out, like something irreparably bitter.
“Okay, then. Edge, you’re fired.”
Lena wants to record the way the smile drops from his face. Maybe put it in slow motion. Set it as a live photo wallpaper and just let it loop for a few days.
“What the fuck did you just say?”
She gives him a smile—really, it’s more her baring her teeth—and carefully repeats herself. “You’re fired, Edge. I’d spell it out for you, but I’m still not sure you fully know the entire alphabet.”
He stands up, leaning on the table, so close that Lena can smell his breath. Quite honestly, she thinks to herself, the smell is enough to drop him from the team. “What the fuck am I fired for?”
Lena leans back to put some distance between them. “Any number of reasons, really. For one, the Greyhounds have had, to put it politely, a shit season. They’re almost dead last in the league, and I know for a fact that our players have individually won championships before. Not to mention that you have a propensity for begging for pictures from any and every vaguely feminine living thing you pass by.” As if on cue, Edge’s phone chimes multiple times in succession. “And no doubt, those are some of the women inevitably rejecting you. Frankly, you’re a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
Lena picks up her glass of scotch, taking her time to thoughtfully take another sip, staring like a tiger surveying its prey.
“But most importantly, Edge, the truth is I just don’t like you. And as the owner of this team, that’s more than enough.” She drains the rest of the glass, setting it down to punctuate her point as the man in front of her narrows his eyes.
Edge pushes his chair back, almost knocking it over as he gets up. “Fine, dig your own grave. When your brother does his job right, you’ll end up in it sooner or later.” He strides out of the room, only pausing to look at Jack and ask, “Spheer, what do you think is worse? Having a maniacal brother, or being utterly alone without him?”
Lena just smiled at him serenely. “Is there someone out there who can get me a salad?” She calls after Edge’s retreating figure, “Something with kale in it, please.”
Jack peers back at Lena, who seems to be perfectly fine despite Edge’s harsh words. “So, do you want me to get a list of new coaches? I can get on that right away.” Lena smiles calmly, paying little mind from her laptop screen.
“No need, I’ve already found someone.”
@MidvaleBisons: BREAKING NEWS! Our very own college football coach, Kara Danvers, has been recruited to coach the National City Greyhounds, transitioning from college football to professional soccer.
@MidvaleBisons: Avid fans will know Kara’s story: growing up in Krypton, Alaska and Midvale, Kansas, she’s never so much as left her small towns, famously choosing only to go to home games. Instead, Alex Danvers took charge of the away games.
@MidvaleBisons: Now, it seems that Kara Danvers has gotten over her reservations, because it’s Midvale to National City for the Danvers sisters. Some will know Kara for taking the Midvale University Bisons to their first national title. She took the Bisons from a small and underfunded program to the promised land, all in her first year as head coach.
@MidvaleBisons: But that’s not how they found their way to our hearts. Most people will know Kara Danvers from her enthusiastic victory run on the football field in a superhero outfit, earning her the nickname ‘Supergirl’
@MidvaleBisons: We don’t know what the future holds, but while we’re sad to see them go, all of us from Midvale Bisons wish the Danvers sisters good luck!
Kara’s heading back from the airplane restroom when a woman—who seems to be just a few years younger than Kara—shoves a phone in her face.
“Is this you?”
Stopping herself from wincing at the unflattering frame at which a video of her was paused, Kara gave the young woman a smile. “Yeah! That’s me. Kara Danvers, at your service.”
The woman gives her a toothy grin back and runs a hand through her blonde hair. “Cool, I’m Eve. Can we get a selfie?”
Kara hasn’t even answered when Eve holds up the camera in front of her. They both take a moment for the photo—the younger woman giving a small smile while Kara reflexively throws up a peace sign. Finally satisfied after a few seconds of taking pictures, Eve lowers her camera, swiping through the selfies so fast that Kara can barely make any out.
“You know, Eve, where I’m from, they call these ussies.” Kara grins, but falters at the blank look on Eve’s face. “You know, selfies are of yourself, but ussies are of us, and so…” Kara trails off weakly as Eve gives her a polite smile, clearly not responding to what Kara thought was an excellent joke.
“Anyway, this was cool. My friends are going to freak. They all think you’re so dumb for doing something like this. You’re, like, legendary in my soccer team for doing something so stupid.”
Kara just shrugs. “Yeah, well, I’ve heard that before, but I’m still here.” When Eve only responds with a polite hum, Kara glances back at her seat, where her sister has her head buried in a book. “Alright, Eve, nice meeting you.”
Alex looks up as she sees Kara approach their row. “Do you need anything? I can get you some more snacks, or maybe a drink? Actually, maybe I should just stop reading—”
“Alex, thank you, really. I’m fine. Get some sleep. You don’t want to be jet lagged.” Kara waves off her sister, who rolls her eyes.
“Okay, first of all, dummy. Midvale and National City have a two hour time-difference. Second, it’s probably going to take the entire two hours of the flight just to fall asleep. And third of all,” Alex softens for a moment, “I just wanted to make sure you’re doing okay.”
Finishing with buckling her seatbelt, Kara reaches over and squeezes her sister’s hand. “I’ll be fine, Alex.” Gesturing to the book, she asks, “Whatcha reading? Another soccer book? Gosh, they’re not going to know what hit them. Alright, give me a fact.”
“Well, they don’t say ‘out of bounds’. They say ‘into touch’.
“Five bucks if I can sneak it into a sentence later.”
Kara leans back in her seat, satisfied. After a moment of silence from her sister, she glances over at Alex, who has a familiar look of concern on her face. Kara sighs internally. She might have a slight fear of flying, but she was really trying not to acknowledge it. She was different now.
(“New city, new me, right? That’s what they say?”
“Kara, stop making up sayings to avoid the subject.”)
And okay. Maybe Kara hasn’t been on a plane since she was 12 years old. Maybe she hasn’t so much as visited a big city before, let alone lived in one. Maybe she’s flying away from one of the only towns she’s ever known to coach a sport that she’s never even watched a full match of.
But she’s worked so hard to be here. She was a locker room attendant at Midvale University, was the star of the women’s basketball team, before finally getting the chance to be an assistant coach for the Midvale Bisons. Kara’s fought a series of uphill battles, and this was just another one. She could do this, and she had told Kenny and Alex as much.
(It didn’t stop them from giving her matching incredulous looks when she broke the news she was moving to National City.)
“I’ll be fine, Alex. Now either go to sleep or watch The Half Of It with me.”
“That movie always makes you cry. I’m not going to let you cry in the middle of a flight.”
Kara rolls her eyes good-naturedly. “Fine. Bend It Like Beckham?”
“Seems fitting.” Alex agrees as she accepts the offered earbud from Kara.
Kara glances fondly over at her sister, who now has her eyes trained on the laptop screen. Realistically, she knows that Alex is more than happy to travel—she caught her looking at apartments in National City months before she was even offered the job—but it was still hard to tamper down the bubble of affection in Kara’s chest.
For the first time, Kara was leaving the small town life that she had grown up with, and truth be told? She isn’t ready.
Of course, she’s done everything right. She’s mapped out her morning commute, figured out the tourist traps to avoid, and spent three days on Yelp to find the best potstickers in the city (Auntie Cho’s seems to be the consensus, and Kara’s already got a delivery scheduled for tonight). She should be okay, right?
She turns to her sister to ask her as much, only to find Alex’s head dropped to her chest, her breathing evened out and the movie still playing in the background. Kara isn’t surprised—she has the propensity to space out for hours, and Alex has the strange ability to fall asleep anywhere. Shaking herself out of her thoughts, she checks her phone, softening at her background of Kenny giving her a kiss on the day of their wedding. Then, she turns to her laptop again, trying to focus on the movie in front of her. A few moments pass before she asks one last question out loud.
“Are we crazy for doing this?”
Alex’s only answer is a soft snore.
“So you didn’t manage to get anything done?”
“No! After you fell asleep, I told myself I should watch the movie, or sleep, or read, or something. By the time I finished thinking of things to do, they started handing out warm chocolate chip cookies and telling us the plane was landing.”
Alex furrows her brow. “I didn’t get a cookie. Did you eat mine?”
“That’s not important.” Kara waves Alex off, who opens her mouth to argue further until Kara interrupts her, “Look, I think that’s us!”
A blonde-haired woman stands in the corner, looking bored as she holds a sign with a printed ‘Danvers’ on it. Kara halfway jogs over and sticks her hand out to the woman.
“Hi, how are you? I’m Kara!”
The woman just looks down at Kara’s outreached hand. “I’m Leslie, let me get your bags.”
Kara pulls her bags just out of reach. “No need, Leslie. We packed them, we’ll carry ‘em.”
Leslie looks at her for a second before giving a curt nod, just slightly less chilly than a moment before. Kara just beams at her—she knows she’ll make Leslie warm up to her soon. Holding open the car door for Alex and giving her an exaggerated bow, Kara grins at her sister.
“Age before beauty.”
“Fuck off.” Alex tosses her bag in her trunk and slides over in the backseat, Kara joining her shortly after. As Leslie begins to drive, Kara looks out the window at the emerging city skyline and takes a deep breath.
“You know, Alex, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
There’s a moment of silence, and Kara’s about to turn to see if her sister has heard her, until: “You’ve been waiting to say that ever since we’ve left Kansas, haven’t you?”
“You can’t blame me. I’ve never actually said it while not in Kansas before.”
“That’s kind of nice.”
“You know it is.”
They pull up to the stadium half an hour later, with Leslie making minimal small talk while Kara and Alex converse quietly in the back.
(“You know how they came up with soccer? So, these Victorian-era headmasters, all they wanted to do was get the boys to stop masturbating, so they invented a sport where boys wouldn’t use their hands at all.”
“Wouldn’t that just free up their hands to—you know what? I’m not even going to ask.”)
Kara swings the gate at the front of the stadium open and steps onto the green of the soccer field. She vaguely hears Alex following her, but all her focus is trained on the green grass and white goalposts in front of her. Slowly, she bends down to feel the surface, reveling at the soft feeling of the grass between her fingers.
“Feels different, Alex. I mean, same, but different.”
“I hate your metaphors.”
“They love you too.”
Both Kara and Alex’s heads snap up to the sound of someone shouting across the field. Squinting, Kara can see a young girl—no more than 21, if Kara has to hazard a guess—sprinting across the field towards them.
“Hi! Off! Get off the pitch! Stop touching the grass! Please!” Kara and Alex hurry to get to the edge of the field, away from the area where they clearly aren’t supposed to be.
The girl finally skids to a halt in front of them, clearly out of breath from the Olympic-level sprint she’s just taken. “Who are you?”
Kara gives a little wave, hoping she’s not in too much trouble. “Hi, I’m Kara Danvers. This is my sister, Alex.” Alex gives a nod in acknowledgement.
“Oh fuck—I mean, shit—I mean,” the girl takes a moment to collect herself, eyes darting between Kara and Alex. “You’re the new coaches, aren’t you?” Kara’s barely given a nod before the girl’s eyes widen. “I’m so sorry! Take all the grass you want.”
Kara puts a hand on the girl’s shoulder, barely stopping the girl from leaning down and pulling some grass up herself. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
“We just had it cut, I can go through the garbage.” Kara has no doubt the girl is absolutely willing to, given the clear running stance she has. She puts her hands out in a placating gesture and looks pleadingly over at Alex, who just shrugs with a small smile on her face.
“It’s okay. No need.”
The girl finally relaxes. “Thank you.”
Kara smiles at her, and the three women stand for a second before the girl seems to snap out of her short period of calm. “Still, we’ve got to get off the grass.”
Kara jumps. “Oh! Of course. Um, sorry to the grass.” She can feel Alex rolling her eyes at her again, but she chooses to ignore it in favor of following the girl, who’s now leading them in the direction of the stadium office.
“Did you really apologize to the grass?” Alex mumbles to Kara as she catches up with her.
Kara shrugs. “I don’t know, seemed like a good idea.” Then, in a louder voice to the girl a few steps ahead of them: “So, we’re supposed to meet with a Lena Luthor.”
The girl glances back. “Yeah, that’s where I’m taking you.”
Kara grins. “Hey, what’s your name by the way?” She almost collides with the girl, who’s stopped in her tracks at the question.
“No one ever asks me my name.” The girl stares at Kara incredulously, who just smiles back with an expectant look on her face. There’s another moment of silence.
“I mean, whenever you’re ready.”
“Oh! It’s Nia.”
“Nia! Like Queen Nia in The 100! Gosh, Brenda Strong was just…”
Nia laughs nervously. “No, yeah, I know.”
Alex pipes up. “Oh, you’ve watched The 100?”
“No.” Nia answers, blinking once at the sisters before turning back and walking towards the offices once again. Kara leans over to Alex.
“I barely know her, but I love her already."
Alex hums in agreement as Nia leads them down a hallway and up a flight of stairs, stopping in front of a door with Kara and Alex on either side of her.
“I’ll introduce you both to Ms Luthor.” Nia says, opening the door only to freeze at the sight of the people in front of her. Vaguely, Kara hears a soft voice with an Irish lilt give a greeting to Nia, who only stammers for a few moments before abruptly running down the stairs. Kara and Alex lean into the frame of the door, looking back at the stairs where Nia left before looking through the door.
First, she sees a man in the background, furiously tapping away on his phone. The office itself is clean and sparsely decorated, with a desk toward the back wall and an off-white couch in one corner, framed by a massive full-wall window overlooking the stadium.
And then, she sees her.
Kara hears Alex say hello and introduce herself, but for a moment, Kara’s mouth drops open, but no sound comes out.
Normally, Kara isn’t one to absolutely lose all function when a woman was in front of her. She knows what Lena Luthor looked like, had researched her and her family as soon as she got the job offer. It isn’t as if the woman in front of her was different from her pictures on the stadium website.
But no picture did her justice. Lena Luthor is probably the most beautiful person Kara had ever seen. She remembers reading about Helen of Troy when she was 11, and never understanding why someone would start a war just because of a woman’s beauty. But after seeing the angled cheekbones, sharp jawline, dark hair in front of her, well—it answered the question she had 16 years ago. Kara subtly trails her eyes down the woman’s body, taking in her dark red blouse and form-fitting pencil skirt before fixating on the woman’s heels, which seemed to give her a slight height advantage.
Kara hears someone pointedly clearing their throat. She snaps her eyes back up to the woman’s face and feels her cheeks heat up as green eyes meet her own blue ones. The woman arches an eyebrow, and Alex surreptitiously nudges Kara. It takes a moment for her brain to catch up, but she quickly snaps out of her stupor and sticks out a hand.
“Hi, Kara Danvers! Nice to meet you, Ms Luthor.”
The woman in front of her takes Kara’s hand—Kara stifles a shiver as their fingers meet—before giving her a small smile. “Please, call me Lena. Ms Luthor was my father.”
There’s a moment of silence before Kara lets out an undignified snort. “If that’s a joke, I love it. If not, I can’t wait to unpack that with you.”
Lena gives Kara another polite smile before calling out, “Jack?”
The man behind Lena looks up from his phone before giving both Kara and Alex a large grin. “Jack Spheer, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He reaches out and shakes both their hands, and Kara can’t help but to feel comforted by the warmth of the man.
“Jack’s our current Director of Communications.”
“Current?” Jack seems alarmed.
“Right, Jack, could you take Coach Alex here and get her acclimated with the area? ID’s, housing information, anything they need.” Lena waves him off as he turns to Alex.
Alex leans in and whispers to Kara, "We're definitely talking about that later." She squeezes Kara’s shoulder as a farewell before following Jack out of the room.
Now, it’s just her and Lena, and Kara feels all the air leave the room for a second. The brunette tilts her head toward the couch. “Shall we sit?”
Kara bounds over to the couch, desperately trying to hide the abundance of nervous energy she’s suddenly become privy to. Lena remains standing, instead choosing to walk over to a small cabinet opposite to the couch. She calls over her shoulder, “Can I get you something to drink?”
Kara nods rapidly. “Yes, please. Haven’t had much sleep, so anything with a little boost of caffeine should do. Mochaccino, frappucino, really any coffee as long as I can’t taste a hint of coffee.”
Lena arches an eyebrow, clearly not knowing what to make of the woman in front of her. Choosing to ignore the short ramble, she instead switches on an electric kettle and asks, “How do you take your tea?”
Kara pauses.”Well, normally I take it right back to the counter because they’ve made a terrible mistake,” she jokes, reaching out to accept the offered mug. “But when in Rome, right?”
Lena smiles and peers at Kara in anticipation, watching as she takes her first sip. “Well,” she asks expectantly, “how is it?”
“You know, I always thought that tea tastes like hot brown water, and you know what?” Lena’s smile grows wider as Kara looks back down at the cup, before falling slightly when the blonde all but shoves the cup in her hands. “I was right, it’s horrible. No thank you.”
Taking the rejection in stride, Lena places the cup on the coffee table in front of her and folds her hands in her lap. “Well, welcome to the Greyhounds, home of the best hot brown water you’ll drink.” Kara lets out a loud laugh. Even Lena’s eyes crinkle with mirth, and something swoops low in Kara’s stomach.
She chooses to ignore it.
“So,” Lena suddenly claps her hands together, “shall I give you a tour?”
Kara’s grateful for the out, and immediately latches onto it. “Oh yes! I’d love to see the National City Bay Bridge.”
“Of the stadium, I mean.”
“Yeah, probably a good idea to start there.”
Truthfully, Lena has no clue what to make of Kara Danvers. Of course, she knew about her from all that she had read online. After the Midvale Bisons had won their first national championship, a video of Kara running down the field dressed head to toe in a superhero outfit went viral. It was where Lena had first heard of Kara, though they called her ‘Supergirl’ when she had first seen it.
And now, the hero herself is walking side-by-side with her, rambling on about nothing in particular. Lena knows she should be annoyed with the woman’s constant chatter, perhaps put off by the distinct lack of poise and elegance, but if anything, she finds Kara Danvers’s unpolished genuineness to be strangely charming, however awkward she may be.
“Alright,” Lena says, gently interrupting the blonde before she could continue her ramble about… potstickers? “This hallway represents our team’s short and—honestly—modest history.” She motions towards a fuzzy picture sitting on a pedestal. “We played our first game in 1996.” Kara nods, and Lena continues forward.
“Recently, during some of the worst of the fire seasons California has seen, we’ve created a program that turns the Greyhounds stadium into a makeshift medical center and shelter for displaced families.”
“That’s incredible, Lena. Was it your idea?” Kara gazes intensely at Lena, who looks away to avoid what would be an incredible obvious blush against her pale skin.
“I mean, it was a joint effort and I didn’t have much to do with the execution of it, but yes, I did originally propose the idea to my father.” She clears her throat, desperate to change the subject before Kara can compliment her further. “Anyway, it’s fitting, considering the stadium was built on the grounds of multiple collapsed buildings from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Some of the locals claim that they can see ghosts of some of the casualties of the earthquake wandering around the field.”
Kara lets out a low whistle, and Lena can’t stop herself from asking, “Do you believe in ghosts, Kara?”
“I do, yeah, but more importantly, I think they need to believe in themselves, you know?” Lena truly can’t tell if Kara’s joking or not, her face betraying not even a hint of humor.
She chooses to move on.
“Alright, well, this is a wall of our previous owners.” She vaguely gestures in the direction of a grid of photo frames, desperate to move past it, but Kara doesn’t take the hint. Instead, she stops and points at the newest picture.
“Hey, look at this guy! All the champagne and people and everything? He looks like a good time.”
Lena tries to smile, but it comes off more as a grimace. She’s seen that picture too many times now—Lex sitting in the center, framed by Lionel clapping a hand on his shoulder. Jack is in the background with a plastic crown askew on his head, and all three of them are laughing as they hold champagne flutes in their hands. It’s a picture Lena is deeply familiar with; Lex had it framed in his house, and after the team was handed over to her, each media outlet seemed to form an agreement to use this picture only.
“Yes, well, that’s my brother, Lex.”
Kara’s face drops. “Well, good times aren’t always a good time, I’ve found.” She turns to Lena, her eyes suddenly shining with a rare intensity. “I heard all about how he tried to cut you from the inheritance. How you holding up?”
Lena flashes back for a moment to the headlines calling her the illegitimate Luthor, the constant media intrusion in her life, Lex yelling at her ‘every friend you’ve made has been because of me, why else would anyone love you’. She shakes her head minutely.
“Hasn’t been the easiest year.” Before Kara can continue the line of questioning, she leads Kara to a nondescript door. “So, we’re going to need you to speak to the press.”
Kara nods. “Of course, after a few nights to settle in, I’d be happy to do so.”
Lena’s purses her lips. “I’m so sorry, I thought you knew. They’re ready for you now.”
Out of all the things Kara thought she would be doing before her first official day as head coach, holding a press conference during a short visit to the stadium was not one of them.
As soon as the door opens, she’s bombarded with camera flashes and an unruly crowd of journalists. Lena ushers her to the front of the room, where the reporters have already set up a plethora of phones and audio devices in front of the microphone. Somewhere to her right, she hears Jack announce, “Without further ado, the new head coach of the National City Greyhounds, Kara Danvers!”
Kara weakly raises a hand in greeting as she tries to get her heartbeat under control. She’s almost certain that this room holds more journalists than she’s ever seen or met in her life—although, with the Midvale Gazette being run by two people, it certainly wasn’t a high bar to meet.
To her side, she sees Lena standing next to Jack. In turn, Alex is on Jack's right, and she shoots Kara a subtle thumbs up. Kara nods in thanks and continues to peruse the room, ignoring the crowd of reporters in favor of a group of athletes in the back. A brunette woman seems to be furiously hushing the other teammates, while the man next to her cracks up at something he sees on his phone. Behind him, a shorter man is looking intently at the podium, and when Kara locks eyes with him, he gives her a goofy smile that brings her anxiety down a notch. She recognizes the sky blue uniforms right away—it’s the National City Greyhounds themselves, and most of them don’t look thrilled to be there.
Clearing her throat, she straightens up and speaks into the microphone. “Alright, hi everyone, how y’all doing?” Her voice catches in her throat, and she clears it again. “One second, throat’s a bit dry, just let me—” She reaches for the water bottle next to her and takes a sip, almost spitting it out as soon as it touches her tongue. Fizzy water. Who the heck drinks fizzy water?
“Sorry, didn’t expect fizzy water.” A murmur travels around the room, and Kara can’t tell if it’s accepting or critical. “Anyway, why don’t we just jump right in? Any questions?” Kara regrets her words as soon as she sees every hand in the room shoot up—even some of those of the athletes in the back.
“Okay, I should have seen that coming. You know what? Everyone put your hands down. I should probably address the larger-than-average elephant in the room.” She takes a breath. “No, I have never coached soccer at any level. Heck, you all have probably forgotten more than I know about the sport in the first place.” A louder murmur fills the room, and this time, Kara can definitely feel the judgement in it. Still, she continues.
“I’ll tell you what I do know. I know that the National City Greyhounds, like any team I’ve coached, are going to go out there and give you everything they’ve got in all four quarters.”
“Halves.” A nasally voice pipes up in the back.
“Right, sorry, halves.” Kara acquiesces. “They’re going to give you everything they got for two halves, win or lose.”
“Or tie.” This time, a different voice.
Kara shakes her head, filing away the new information. “Oh shoot, I forgot y’all do ties here. Sorry, it’s just that, back home, you try to end anything in a tie and next thing you know, your parents disown you and you’re run out of town.” When she’s met with silence, she shifts uncomfortably.
“Now look, I respect what you reporters do. Heck, I’ve got a degree in sports journalism myself. My door is always going to be open, alright? Ask me anything; no topic will be into touch.” Kara shoots a wink over to Alex, who rolls her eyes fondly. “Alright, I’ll give y’all one question.”
Immediately, all of the journalists’ hands shoot up again, and Kara glances around before centering in on a blonde woman in the middle of the room. “How about the woman in the second row? I like your glasses.”
The woman stands up, impeccably dressed in an intricate skirt suit. She touches the corners of her glasses before taking off the thick frames entirely. “Cat Grant, Catco Magazine. I just want to make sure I have this right, Kiera. You’re a small-town girl, but unlike the character from the hit Journey song, you’ve never taken any train going anywhere. This is your first time in a large city, coaching a professional team for a sport that you’ve never played, after achieving only amateur success from a college football team.”
Kara furrows her brow. “Is there a question in there, Ms. Grant?”
Cat Grant smirks slightly, clearly going in for the kill. “Yes. Is this a fucking joke?”
Kara only has a moment to be taken aback by the direct profanity before the rest of the journalists descend upon her.
“Can you name any soccer players?”
“Beckham!” Kara’s proud of herself for at least remembering the movie her and Alex watched on the plane.
“How many games are in a season?”
“Who won the championship last year?”
“What’s the job of the midfielder?”
Kara tries to answer the questions, weakly offering, “I don’t know,” for most of them. The voices begin to overlap as more and more are thrown her way, each stinging as its own indirect criticism. Feeling her heart pounding in her ears, Kara blindly reaches for the water bottle, keeping her eyes trained forward as she twists open the cap. She takes a large sip hoping to center herself—
She spits out a mouthful of water on all of the phones in front of her as she coughs loudly.
Freaking fizzy water.
“I’m so sorry! It’s just, the bubbles, and—”
Thankfully, Lena chooses that moment to interject before Kara’s rambling can get even worse. “Dear god, Kara, you must forgive us. Somewhere over the last few years, National City seems to have abandoned any sense of manners and hospitality.” Turning her attention to the crowd, she looks at all of them, unimpressed. “Well, aren’t you all just a pack of vultures?”
A smug smile settles on Lena’s face as she continues. “Although, I can’t remember the last time the press room had this much of a crowd. And despite each and every one of your overinflated egos, it’s a good idea to remember that I was here when my father started the team. No one knows more about them than me. And in all of these years, I have witnessed nothing but profound mediocrity.”
Someone whistles in the background, and even the team looks slightly chastened. Lena zeroes in on the sound. “Am I wrong?”
The man shrugs. “Well, it’s a bit harsh.”
Lena raises an eyebrow. “Am I wrong?” she repeats.
The man sinks into the chair. “…No.”
Apparently satisfied, Lena continues, “Now, Kara Danvers may be a bit unconventional, but after playing by the rules for the past few decades, it might be time to think outside the box. Besides, the Danvers sisters have one thing that none of us have—a trophy from this decade.” Lena pauses once more, her eyes sweeping across the room as each of the journalists train all their attention on her. “Like it or not, it’s time for a change with the Greyhounds, and Kara Danvers is going to deliver. We’ll see you at our next match with the Daxam Panthers.”
The clamoring begins once again, only this time, much more subdued. Kara quickly leans down to the microphone. “Great meeting y’all, and sorry for spitting all over your phones.”
She rushes off the upraised platform towards Lena and Alex, the former greeting a journalist, and the latter of whom squeezes her hand as soon as she comes close enough. Faintly, she hears Cat in the background saying, “I give her three weeks.”
Lena turns back to her, and Kara immediately begins to apologize profusely. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I freaked out so badly.”
Lena shakes her head and hands Kara a bottle of water. “Don’t even worry about it. The National City reporters can be particularly vicious at times. You’re just here to do your job, and part of it happens to be proving them wrong.”
Slightly uplifted from the reassurance, Kara takes a large sip of water and gestures to the bottle. “See! I can drink it when there’s no bubbles. I don’t understand the point of fizzy water. It’s really just angry water…” she finishes mumbling under her breath.
Lena looks at her oddly, and motions towards the athletes who are now exiting out of a door that seems to lead to the field. “Would you like to meet your team right now?”
Kara nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, probably a good idea to watch them practice and say hi. Shall we?” Lena leads her and Alex out the same door as the athletes, with Jack trailing slightly behind.
As she steps out, Kara’s greeted with the same sight she had seen when she first entered the stadium in the morning. This time, though, the field isn’t empty. Orange cones are lined up towards the middle, and three bags full of soccer balls sit to the side. Kara can see Nia at the middle sideline, setting up cups of some sort of drink. Members of the team are spread across the pitch—a few weave the ball in and out of the cones, some are running laps, and a few seem to be playing a quick scuffle.
“Fucking hell! How fucking hard is it to pass the goddamn ball?” The same brunette Kara had seen in the conference room was now yelling at the man who had been on his phone earlier. This time, though, he had been dribbling the ball effortlessly towards the goal, dodging between every player, only to be stopped at the last second by the goalie.
“That,” Alex says, pointing at the brunette, “is Andrea Rojas. Team captain, classic midfielder. She’s been around for a while now, but she’s a legend for winning a championship with the Metropolis Comets.” Kara and Alex watch for a moment more before Alex adds, “It was eight years ago. She’s slowed down a bit since then.”
Kara points towards the man Andrea had been yelling at, who was now celebrating an impressive goal he had made by doing a makeshift victory dance. “Who’s that?”
Alex juts out her chin. “That’s Mike Matthews.”
“Everyone calls him Mon-El though.” Kara and Alex both turn to the Nia, who’s gone pale from interjecting. “I’m so sorry, I just thought you might, um, I don’t know…” she trails off softly, and Kara flashes her a smile.
“No, it’s good to hear everything we can, Nia!”
Nia’s eyes grow wide. “You remembered my name.” Privately, Kara resolves to do anything she can to get the younger girl’s confidence up.
“Anything else you can tell us about him, Nia?” Alex pipes up.
“Yeah, what’s he like?”
“Who, Mon-El? Oh, he’s great.” Nia pauses for a moment before adding, “At soccer, at least.”
Both Kara and Alex nod, familiar with the sentiment. Alex points at another man whom Kara immediately recognizes as the one with the open smile at the press conference. “That’s Winn Schott, new to the team, right out of the Canadian league.”
“Canada, like—” Kara points upwards and Alex rolls her eyes.
“Yeah, Canada. A lot of these players are from all over the place. Winn is from Canada, Andrea’s originally from Argentina, you’ve got Lyra over there from Greece.”
Kara takes a moment to consider. “So… like a melting pot of nationalities?”
“First of all, what is up with you and food? And second of all, no. It’s more like a salad, if I had to keep up with the culinary theme.” Kara nods in understanding and turns back to the scene in front of her. Andrea is yelling at the rest of the team to take a cooldown lap, and Nia rushes to pick up the soccer balls scattered haphazardly around the field.
Alex taps Kara on the shoulder and tilts her head in the direction of the locker rooms, where most of the players seem to be heading. Kara slowly jogs closer, catching onto bits and pieces of their conversations.
“Think I might grab a drink in a few—”
“If Mon-El would make the fucking pass, we’d win the whole thing—”
“I’d totally hit it if the new coach is single—”
Kara stops eavesdropping after hearing the last line from Mon-El, trying to avoid turning crimson at the insinuation. Instead, she takes in the locker room as she makes her way through the door.
What first comes in sight isn’t the locker room itself, but what seems to be a spacious common room. The blue walls are covered in Greyhounds paraphernalia, and Kara can make out individual pictures of the players with a gold-plated placard of their name underneath. A large coffee table sits in the middle, surrounded by three worn couches that some players immediately sink into with a satisfied groan. On each side is a door—Kara assumes they lead to the actual men’s and women’s locker rooms.
The players immediately start placing their mud-covered shoes on a rack in the corner, and Nia darts in, organizing the chaotic mess that the players create. Kara notices both Andrea and Winn taking off their jerseys and throwing them in a basket next to the rack, leaving Andrea in nothing but a sports bra and shorts, and Winn completely bare-chested. Everyone seems unfazed, and Kara gathers that the team probably doesn’t care about things like shirtlessness in the common room, instead choosing to stick together as long as possible and only separate for showers. Frowning, Kara notes as Mon-El throws his jersey straight at Nia, who barely manages to catch it while Mon-El cackles with two of his teammates—Gayle and Jess, if she remembers correctly.
She locks eyes with Alex in the back, who beckons her over towards a large glass window and door on the back wall. Walking closer, Kara realizes it’s the coaches’ office. Two large mahogany desks face opposite walls, with a freestanding whiteboard in the middle of them.
Alex and Kara look at each other and, in unspoken agreement, drop their bags and push the mahogany desks so they’re facing each other. Satisfied with their work, Kara stands in the office doorway and tilts her head back, taking a deep breath.
“Smells like potential.”
Alex sniffs the air and scrunches up her nose. “I don’t know what you’re smelling, but all I’m picking up is Axe Body Spray”
Kara shrugs in acquiescence and watches the chaos of the common room. She looks over at Winn, who gives her a smile and a small wave, and Kara feels her heart bloom with affection for him once again. At that moment, Andrea Rojas walks by the door, and Kara almost watches in slow motion as the team captain gives her one of the nastiest glares she’s ever seen. Alex gives a low whistle from behind her.
“Last time I saw eyes that cold, someone had just told you that they were out of potstickers for the foreseeable future.”
A few minutes later, most of the team has funneled into their respective showers, so Kara figures she has a few minutes to just relax after a day of constant travel. She leans back in her chair with her hands behind her head and closes her eyes for just a moment.
Kara’s about to drift off when she hears rapid snaps in both of her ears. Opening her eyes, she sees Alex towering over her, grinning as she snaps her fingers next to Kara’s head. “Stay awake, sleeping beauty.”
Kara groans. “Is this revenge for all those times I woke you up in middle school?”
“No, but don’t think I forgot about that.” Alex points out the window, where the team is mulling around the locker room in their street clothes. “If you want to say something, now’s your chance.”
Kara jumps up. “Yup, yeah, yup. Good idea.” Smoothing down her sweater and adjusting her collar, she slips her hands in her chinos and walks out the door. “Hi everyone. Don’t stop what you’re doing.”
Everyone stops what they’re doing. They stare at Kara instead, and she suddenly wishes she had scripted this out more.
“My name’s Kara Danvers, and this is Alex. We’re the new coaches, although you probably already knew that given that we, um—well, you’re on the team, and, er—”
Alex pointedly clears her throat behind Kara, who shakes her head trying to shed her anxiety before continuing. “I know we don’t officially start just yet, but, you know, just wanted to say hi, see what’s up, let you know how psyched we are to be here—”
A knock cuts off Kara’s ramble, and a man pokes his head in, his eyes completely covered by his hand. “Is everyone decent?” he calls out, and the team shout their confirmation. He slips in, uncovering his eyes and waving shyly. “Hello everyone.” Then, noticing Kara: “Oh no, I didn’t mean to interrupt. My apologies.”
Kara waves him off, already intrigued by the reserved man in front of her. “Don’t worry about it. How can I help you?”
He points towards Mon-El, who already has his bag in his head. “I’m just here to pick him up.”
Mon-El nods. “Sorry, Coach. He’s got to drive me to an appointment.”
Kara’s brow furrows. “Is everything okay?”
Someone snorts towards the back of the room. “It’s a waxing appointment,” calls out Andrea, and the room laughs as Mon-El shrugs unapologetically.
“It’s all about my branding. I score a goal, have to take my shirt off. The fans love it.” He bounces on the balls of his feet, and Kara is vaguely reminded of an overexcitable, slightly irritating golden retriever. “I mean, I can stay if you want,” he concedes, completely insincere.
Kara just waves him off. “No, that’s okay. I’ll see you at the next practice.” Mon-El gives her a half-smile and salutes, and Kara sees Andrea roll her eyes. She hears whispering in the background, only picking up the words ‘flirt’ and ‘coach’.
“Alright, kid, after you.” Mon-El calls out to the other man, who rolls his eyes.
“We’re the same age.”
Kara watches as the door closes on their bickering and turns her attention back to the larger team. “Anyway, thank you for your time. Looking forward to seeing you all during practice.” A general farewell spreads through the crowd, and the players begin filing out one by one. Kara scans the crowd until she finds:
“Andrea! Hey, Andrea!” The team captain looks up from her conversation with Winn, waving him off as Kara walks over to her. “Hi, Andrea.”
“Yeah, what do you want?” Andrea crosses her arms, clearly not excited by the prospect of a conversation with the new coach.
Kara’s unfazed and gives her a grin. “It was really cool watching you out there today. You know, the team really responds to you. Although, I can’t say I’m surprised; you’ve had a heck of a career.”
Andrea offers Kara a slight smile. “Thank you.” Kara internally congratulates herself for making a breakthrough this fast, before she continues, “Never thought it would end being coached by a fucking Disney princess.”
Kara watches Andrea stalk off and turns to Alex, who has her eyebrows up in surprise. “That woman does not like you.”
Kara shrugs. “She thinks she’s mad now, just wait till we win her over.”
Half an hour later, Kara stands alone in the locker room.
The team members had left not five minutes after Kara had finished her impromptu speech, and now Alex had ducked out to take their bags to the parking lot and figure out a ride home. Kara looks around the empty common room once more, sighing in satisfaction, before she stands on a chair and makes quick work with the tape and poster in her hand.
She sticks the piece of paper right above the doorway, and she’s leaning back to check if it’s tilted when:
“Oh, shoot.” Kara nearly topples over in surprise at the sound of a quiet voice, but she’s stopped by a steady hand.
“Oh my, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Kara turns around to see the man who had come to pick up Mon-El earlier. He looks anxious, and Kara rests a hand on his forearm, trying to calm him down slightly.
“No, don’t worry about it, it’s totally fine. I was just making some adjustments to the locker room here.” Kara gestures to the paper, and a ghost of a smile appears on the man’s face.
“I may be wrong, but I do believe that’s slightly crooked.”
“And here I was thinking it was the room that was all wrong.” The man exhales and offers Kara a larger—albeit, still reserved—smile. Kara climbs back up on the chair, pulling the poster off the wall. “So, what are you doing back here? Where’s Mon-El?”
The man rolls his eyes with affection. “He left his phone in his locker, I’m just here to pick it up. He’d have come himself, but he’s still getting waxed. He’s unnaturally hairy.”
Kara can’t tell if he’s joking, and after a moment, he gestures towards Mon-El’s locker. “May I?”
Kara waves him off. “Of course, help yourself.” She leans back once more to try to position the paper properly. "So, how do you know him? Are you a part of the team?"
She hears a short laugh behind her. "The last time I tried to kick a soccer ball, I fell and nearly broke my wrist. I work in branding consultancy for Wayne Industries. I've just known Mike since we were kids. We had a friend group—we called ourselves Legion for some reason. It's actually where he got the nickname Mon-El."
Kara hums in acknowledgement. The man behind her doesn't seem to be the type that Mon-El would be friends with, but she supposes stranger things have happened.
“Lower it down on the right.” She hears his voice behind her and follows the instructions.
“Lower, lower, perfect. That’s as good as it’ll get.” Kara steps down from the chair to admire her handiwork, steadying herself by placing a hand on the man’s shoulder. The poster itself is incredibly crooked, but the word on it is in a single straight line.
“How about that?” she grins, offering him a high five, her other hand still resting on his shoulder. “Nice teamwork.”
The man politely reciprocates before introducing himself. “I’m Querl Dox, by the way. Although, everyone calls me Brainy.”
“Brainy, Mon-El... Legion really liked their nicknames, huh? Anyway, hi, I’m Kara Danvers.”
Before he can respond, the door opens slightly, and Lena Luthor walks in. She evidently isn’t expecting company, if the slight jump she does at the sight of them is any indication. Her eyes wander to Kara’s hand on Brainy’s shoulder, and Kara pulls it away as fast as possible, not quite sure why she feels the need to do so.
“Oh, hello. I wasn’t expecting anyone in here. I’ll head out.” She turns to leave.
“No! I mean, the more the merrier, right?” She laughs awkwardly. After considering for a moment, Lena stands in the same place rather than walking out the door. The two women stare at each other, and Kara almost feels the walls closing in on her and Lena.
“I’m aware.” Brainy’s voice fills up the silence, snapping the two out of their stupor. Kara tilts her head in confusion before Brainy continues. “I mean, I’m aware that you’re Kara Danvers.
Lena saves Kara from asking why by explaining, “I’d be surprised if there was anyone who didn’t know. To my knowledge, you’re currently trending quite hard on Twitter right now.”
Kara smiles. “Well, that’s cool.”
Lena appraises her for a moment. “Do you even tweet?”
“Nope, but I do a pretty great mime impression.” Kara quickly runs through the mime routine she had learned in a community center course, banging on invisible windows and wailing silently as Lena and Brainy watch in slight horror. She finishes her routine with a bow and grin, and they both continue to stare at her.
“I never know how to react when a grown woman does a mime routine in front of me.” Kara just smiles at Brainy’s comment and shrugs. Lena’s still looking at Kara, but snaps out of her stupor quickly. She brings her purse higher on her shoulder.
“Well, Ms Danvers, if you so choose to look at Twitter, I highly recommend staying away from #Greyhounds. Perhaps even #idiot and #bitch.” Kara crinkles her nose at the crassness, and Lena once again opens the door, this time looking at Brainy and Kara. “Well, it’s quite late. Shall we?”
“So, Kara, already burning the midnight oil?”
Lena and Kara are walking shoulder-to-shoulder in the darkened hallway, Brainy having gone off in the opposite direction a few minutes back.
Kara laughs softly. “I could say the same for you. Anyway, the harder you work, the luckier you get, right?”
The two walk in amicable silence. Truthfully, Lena just doesn’t know how to approach Kara Danvers. She was expecting a small-town girl with strange anachronisms and an awkward energy, and in some ways, that’s what she’s gotten. But there’s something deeper than that to Kara Danvers—an energy that somehow warms the air around her and makes everyone relax just a little more. And after the charged moment in the locker room, well.
Lena’s not sure how to handle it.
Reaching the double doors of the stadium entrance, Kara holds the door open for Lena with an over-exaggerated goofy bow. Lena politely thanks her, caught somewhere between mild irritation and slight affection for the coach. She spots Jack standing on the other side of the parking lot. To her side, she hears Kara greet Alex and… Nia, was it?
Kara skips over to her sister, and Lena feels a pang of longing as she sees the way the two interact, Kara laughing uproariously while Alex fondly hits her on the shoulder. She takes every memory of Lex that comes up and shoves it as far down as possible, instead choosing to make her way over to Jack.
As she walks towards him, Jack looks up.
“You know, Lena, I was a bit skeptical, but after hearing you in the press room, I’m excited by your choice. I think Kara Danvers might just be what this team needs.”
Lena hums in acknowledgement, placing her purse in the passenger seat of her car. “I can’t fucking stand her.”
Jack nods, not fully processing her words. “I know.” Then, her sentence sinks in and he widens his eyes. “Er, pardon?”
Lena shrugs. “I can’t wait to see her crash and burn,” she says casually as she walks over to the driver’s side. Jack stumbles to catch up behind her. “See, Lex truly loved only two things in his entire life: himself and this club.” She takes a moment to glance back at the blonde coach, who is now animatedly telling some sort of story while Alex cracks up next to her.
“And now, Kara Danvers is going to help me burn it to the ground. Because I want to torture Lex. I want him to feel like he’s being stabbed a million times, just over and over, in a constant loop. Like a GIF. That’s what GIFs do, right?”
Jack only nods weakly, clearly floundering for words. “Yeah. Some people call them ‘JIFs’ though.”
Lena ignores him in favor of the car pulling up in front of her. Kara sticks her head out an open window, and Lena sees Nia driving whilst Alex is stuck in the back with the bags, looking slightly claustrophobic as she’s pressed up against the window. “My apologies, Kara, we should have ordered you a car.”
Kara waves her off. “Don’t even worry about it. Just wanted to say good night before we left. Night, y’all.”
Lena waves again, offering Kara a polite smile before she hears a hacking cough in the background. Whirling around, she glares at Jack. “What is wrong with you?”
Jack looks mildly green. “It’s just that everything I’ve eaten today just feels like it’s stuck right here.” He motions at his throat, and Lena arches an eyebrow up. “I don’t know, Lena.”
She rolls her eyes. “Here we go.”
“I’m just saying! She seems so nice, I’m not sure I can do this.”
Lena takes a grounding breath. “Well, obviously for this to work, I’m going to need the full support of my new Director of Football Operations.” When she receives no response other than a blank stare, she continues. “I’m assuming that a promotion and substantial pay rise is of interest to you?”
Jack’s shoulders drop in defeat. “I accept.”
“Wonderful.” Lena moves to get in her car before pausing. “And Jack, I know there’ll be elements of this situation that will weigh on you a bit, but I’m sure it won’t be harder than accepting money from Lex to turn all my friends against me.”
As Jack flounders for words, Lena closes the car door, rolls up the tinted window, and lightly hits her head against the steering wheel, exhaling as softly as possible.
“Alright, this is me.”
Kara stops in front of a nondescript apartment door, unlocking her own as Alex opens the one opposite to her.
“Okay, you good?” Alex asks, stifling a yawn. Kara gives her sister a soft smile brimming with affection.
“Yeah, I’m good. Night, Alex.”
“Wait!” Alex pulls something out of her pocket and hands it over to Kara. A five dollar bill.
“What’s this for?”
Kara lets out a quiet laugh. “Get some sleep, Alex.” Alex waves her off as the sisters enter their respective apartments.
Shutting the door, Kara looks around. The apartment is extravagant—her and Alex could have easily lived her together, and it still would have been more than enough. She drops her bags in the living room, noticing the large gift basket sitting on the coffee table. She picks up the card on top of it.
Welcome to National City, Kiera Danvers!
Kara laughs to herself before selecting a bag of chips and snacking as she wanders through the apartment. The living room has a large flat screen, and it opens into a gorgeous kitchen with granite countertops and a kitchen island. Down the hall, she opens the door to the bedroom, where she’s met with a king-size bed and a walk-in closet so large, she’s sure it could qualify as its own bedroom.
A few minutes later, she emerges from the massive en-suite, having taken the time to explore the numerous buttons that led to different shower settings. Setting aside her glasses, she reaches for her phone and leans against the headboard, feeling the damp hair stick to her back as she reads through some missed text messages. All of a sudden, her phone lights up and starts buzzing.
Call from: Kenny <3
Frowning, she looks at the time. It’s past midnight in Kansas, but she shrugs and answers, putting the phone on speaker.
“Kenny, hi! How are you? Is everything okay?” She settles into bed, content with the familiar voice flowing through her speakers.
“Yeah, just thought I’d say hi. How’s it all going over there?”
“Well, you know, so far, so good. I think it’ll take some getting used, but once we get going, it’ll be alright.”
“I think you’ll be great. I mean, you thought the same thing with the Midvale Bisons, right?”
Kara nods, even though Kenny can’t see her. “Yeah, that’s true, that’s true.”
A moment of silence passes, and then Kenny speaks again. “How’s the housing there? I remember they didn’t actually tell you where you’d be living.”
Kara laughs. “It’s amazing, really nice neighborhood too.”
“That sounds great, maybe I could come visit sometime.”
Kara shifts uncomfortably. “Kenny…”
“What? What did I say?”
She sighs. “Kenny, you know I asked for space.”
“But that’s what we’re doing here, right? You’re getting that space. That’s why you moved to a different state, right?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess so.”
“Hey, Kara, I love you.”
Kara felt the lump in her throat grow bigger. “Kenny, I can’t.”
“No, no, that’s okay. You don’t have to say it back. I just—I guess I wanted to remind you.”
Another few moments of silence pass.
“Okay, it’s late. I’ll let you go.”
“Yeah. Thank you. Good night, Kenny.”
The phone hangs up with a click. Kara turns and plugs it in, willing herself to forget the prior conversation. Shutting off the lamp on her bedside table, she lays on her back and closes her eyes.
“Shoot. Now I can’t sleep.”