When Kara marches into Lena’s office, barrelling through the door and blurting out “I’m a Cupid, Lena, and I’m sorry that I lied to you but it was sort of in my job description when I was assigned to you and I super promise you’re my friend first,” she thinks at first that Lena might slap her.
It’s the worst part of Kara’s work, all the secrecy. For the most part, she likes her job – she enjoys connecting people with each other, watching like turn into love as people open themselves to vulnerability. Most people don’t realize how much work it takes to be a Cupid, to bring together two people who otherwise might never have met. There are layers of compatibility to take into account, life goals to align, meet-cutes to arrange. Kara can’t just snap her fingers and make people fall in love – she has to sidle into their lives unobtrusively, unnoticed, to bring them into each other’s proximity and let the rest work itself out naturally. She doesn’t make people fall in love – she makes connections.
Her real failure, the thing making her life as a Cupid difficult, is Lena Luthor.
Originally, she was assigned to Lena purely out of necessity. Lena is an intensely private public figure, and Kara’s civilian cover with CatCo makes scheduling interviews to gather information easy enough. At first, Kara relishes the challenge of finding a viable match for someone who is romantically oriented but so clearly closed-off.
The problem is, her matches keep imploding.
Maybe matching Lena with Andrea Rojas had been Kara’s rookie mistake. They had history, which Kara thought would make things easier. But after watching Lena tentatively open herself up and then get her heart completely obliterated, exacerbating her trust issues, Kara vows to do better in the only way she can think of.
It’s absolutely against the rules for Cupids to reveal themselves to their charges. And it’s even more against the rules for Cupids to have lunch with their charges several times a week, have movie nights on said charge’s couch, and develop a years-long intimate friendship. And it is absolutely, one hundred percent against the rules for Cupids to develop teeny, tiny, baby crushes on the people they’re supposed to be finding love for.
But, that’s Kara’s cross to bear; she’s always been a rule-breaker.
Lena has been through so much already. She’s been hurt so many times, and she deserves the most perfect match Kara can muster – and for that, Kara needs to know her. Breaking the rules and becoming Lena’s friend in earnest is the only way to make sure that happens. So here she is, breaking the cardinal rule of Cupid-dom. And Lena is staring at her like she’s grown a second head.
“…start from the beginning,” Lena says, slowly closing her laptop and crossing her arms. “And explain everything.”
It takes some time, to get past Lena’s natural inclination to assume she’s being betrayed. But this particular rule is easily explained – when Cupids become widely known, the overwhelming demand for their personal services becomes chaotic. Kara has seen it happen. Some of her coworkers have had to retire after being found out, unable to go unnoticed in their charges’ lives because so many people are so desperate to be given a soulmate and don’t understand how the process works.
In the end Lena understands that the rules are there for a reason. And eventually, she even agrees to let Kara set her up with Jack.
Jack, Kara had thought, would be perfect. He’s charming, intelligent, handsome – he makes Lena laugh, and can keep up with her intellectually. For a while Lena seems happy, and Kara sees less and less of her the more their relationship blossoms. It’s devastating for Kara to lose her friend, but that’s the job. To connect people, encourage them to take the leap with each other, and then fade away to be re-assigned.
But after almost a year, Jack and Lena break up. Lena’s file gets flagged again, and Kara snatches it up before anyone else can even try. Lena and Jack settle instead into being friends, and even though Lena seems almost relieved about it, Kara still knows that she’s failed again; and whenever she asks, she gets a half-hearted shrug and a “we just didn’t fit exactly right.”
“I don’t know what that means!” Kara finally exclaims, slumping onto Lena’s office couch and pulling the brunette’s feet into her lap. Lena has her shoes off, and Kara absentmindedly starts to rub them – she knows how those tall heels wreak havoc on Lena’s body, and she’s gratified when Lena makes a little noise of pleasure when Kara digs her thumbs in.
“We just…I don’t know. Our jobs got in the way, I suppose,” Lena shrugs, her voice slightly unsteady. “Maybe you should just stop trying. Maybe there’s no great love out there for me. I could be your first Cupid failure.”
Kara tries to argue, but Lena is resolute in her opinion, and she stubbornly refuses to explain why. It drives Kara up the wall, knowing how low Lena’s opinion of herself is. That she thinks she doesn’t deserve love, that there aren’t people out there who would make her happy.
Lena is her best friend. Lena is perfect, and while Cupids aren’t supposed to get attached to their charges, this is a special case. Lena is special. Lena deserves someone who treats her the way she should be treated – if it were Kara, she would never let Lena forget how wonderful she is. She wouldn’t give her even a moment of thinking she isn’t enough. She would spend every single second reminding her that she is good, and beautiful, and loved.
Not that Kara has thought about it too hard.
It takes Kara almost a year to find the next match. She spends sleepless nights combing through every detail until she’s convinced there’s no way Lena could get hurt, dodging the questions from upper management about why on earth this client is taking so long, and so Kara thinks that her devastation is warranted when she realizes that her months of work don’t even get a single moment’s consideration.
“So, how’s it going with Eve?” Kara asks with careful casualness, picking at the salad that Lena ordered her for lunch and quickly abandoning it for the fries she insisted on to maintain dietary balance.
“Eve?” Lena asks, frowning. “What do you mean?”
“Did she not ask you out?” Kara asks around a mouthful of fries. Lena blinks.
“Oh,” she says, seeming suddenly less interested in her own salad. “Right, I should have - yes, she did. But I said no.”
Kara drops her handful of fries. Eve had been perfect, Kara thought – she’s everything that she’s managed to wring out of Lena about what she wants in a partner. She’s smart, sweet, positive. She’s even blonde, something that Lena blushingly admitted a liking for after a night of too much wine. “What? Why?”
“Wasn’t interested.” Lena’s cheeks are pink, and she stabs at a cherry tomato with slightly too much force.
“But you haven’t been on a date in ages,” Kara says, taking a mouthful of salad in the hopes of earning some friend brownie points. “I feel like I’m doing terribly at my job.”
“So? Does that mean I have to take the first person you throw at me?” Lena drawls, eyebrow raised. Kara huffs.
“Hey! I selected her carefully from dozens of candidates. You have a compatibility quotient of 88% -”
“Way to make it sound like a whirlwind romance.”
Lena chuckles, but the smile doesn’t go all the way to her eyes. It makes Kara sad. She’s failed, again – Eve wasn’t good enough, and Lena is clearly asking for Kara to try harder.
“Okay, so what would you prefer?” Kara asks, folding her arms and leaning forward on the table. Lena’s eyes follow the movement, landing somewhere near her bicep. “This would be a heck of a lot easier if you just helped me, you know. I want you to be happy.”
Lena’s eyes drift back up, and for a moment it looks like Kara might actually get an answer. Lena’s mouth opens, something dancing on the tip of her tongue – but she shakes her head, taking an uncharacteristically indelicate mouthful of salad instead. She chews slowly, staring down at the surface of the table.
“What?” Kara asks, and Lena seems slightly more composed when she swallows and offers Kara a half-hearted smile.
“Nothing. Just – nothing.”
Clearly, Eve wasn’t a good enough effort. And after so many disasters Kara’s last effort, her Hail Mary pass, her swansong, is going to have to be practically angelic.
The only possible choice is Sam Arias.
Sam is the kind of match that every Cupid wants to find for their charge. She’s charming, smart, warm, genuine – she even works in the same field as Lena. She’s perfect, and Kara has to bribe 2 separate people to get access to her file. She’s a Hail Mary, all right.
And when Lena shakes Sam’s hand at the L-Corp Children’s Hospital Gala and a clear current of chemistry ripples between them, Kara is happy. She’s thrilled. Just…ecstatic. The idea of finally giving Lena her match, of watching Lena fall in love with someone else and probably never getting to see her again, is a good thing.
It’s so good that it makes Kara’s chest ache with hollow grief.
Seeing Lena with Sam, smiling and blushing up at the beautiful brunette skyscraper Kara introduced her to, suddenly makes the champagne sour in Kara’s stomach. She excuses herself to get more drinks she doesn’t intend on touching, giving herself a moment to breathe past the knot in her belly, but as she approaches the table with three fresh glasses she overhears something that makes her screech to a halt.
“Normally, this would be the point where I ask you to grab a cup of coffee,” Sam is saying, leaned close and intimate without being overbearing. “But I get the feeling your interest is elsewhere.”
Lena sighs, her voice shaky but somehow seeming relieved.
“Am I that obvious?”
“Just to me,” Sam says kindly. “Really. I’m pretty sure she has no idea. But maybe she should. Love, real love, is rare. And I know it when I see it.”
One of the glasses slips out of Kara’s grip and shatters on the floor, and Lena turns to see Kara standing there with a hand in the proverbial cookie jar. A look of horrified realization crosses Lena’s face, and before Kara can protest, she turns and bolts towards the bathrooms.
Kara puts the two remaining glasses on the table with a “sorry, Sam!” and follows, trailing champagne-soaked footprints across the marble floor. When she shoulders the door open Lena is leaning over the sink, staring at herself in the mirror, and when Kara enters she jerks up ramrod-straight.
“I’m so sorry, I really thought Sam would be a good match,” Kara says, shoving her pre-emptive grief down deep. “But if you’re in love with someone else, that’s perfect! Just tell me who, and I can talk to them –”
Lena makes a strangled sort of noise, gripping the counter with white knuckles. “I really can’t have this conversation with you right now.”
“Oh,” Kara says, stopping short just before touching Lena’s shoulder. Her hand drops, and she grabs a handful of her own slacks instead. “I’m sorry, should I – what should I do? Do you want me to lea –”
And then Kara is being kissed, and she forgets all about grief and wet socks.
Deep down, Kara always knew it would be like this. She knew that if she ever got to kiss Lena, they would fit together like two puzzle pieces – that it would erase every kiss that came before, and solidify Lena’s already permanent grip on her heart. But experiencing it is somehow even more. Actually tasting her lipstick, feeling the softness of Lena’s hands cupping her face and knowing the warm press of her body. It’s everything. It’s brief and chaste, but it’s absolutely everything.
“That’s why,” Lena whispers against her lips, pulling back from the single most wonderful kiss of Kara’s existence. Kara can smell her perfume, familiar and captivating, and it’s making everything sort of foggy. “That’s why nothing has ever worked out, Kara.”
“You – me?” Kara says, in a high and somewhat squeaky voice. Lena laughs in a way that lacks humour, her eyes shiny with tears that seem half happy, half heartbreakingly sad.
“Yes. You. Since you came into my life nobody else has had a chance. And I’d rather have you in my life than find some other partner and have you disappear.”
“Lena…” Kara breathes. Lena cups Kara’s face, stroking at her jaw like she’s soaking in the contact while she can.
“I know,” Lena says, taking a steadying breath. “I know it’s against the rules. I know that even on the one in a million chance that you feel anything for me, we can’t act on it. But that’s…that’s just going to have to be okay. Because I don’t want anyone else. I don’t care if I’m alone - they’ll never be you.”
Lena seems ready to pull away, to leave and accept this truth as it is. But Kara’s hands dart out almost of their own volition to land on Lena’s hips, and she looks down with surprise.
“This breaks…every rule,” Kara admits, pressing her forehead into Lena’s. “But maybe…maybe I don’t care. I should have taken a step back when you were with Andrea and Jack, and I didn’t. I couldn’t.”
Lena blinks, disbelief clear in every feature.
“What are you saying?”
Kara doesn’t say anything. She just dips forward, and kisses Lena with all the passion she deserves.
Kara likes her job, sure. But she loves Lena Luthor.