“You were right, Andrea. I’m not here -- not fully. And there’s too much at stake for that right now. So, um, I quit."
Kara rolled over in bed with a sigh, thinking about her actions the night before. It was the right thing to do, she knew, but it didn’t make it hurt any less. Catco was her dream job. It was fulfilling, it was important -- she’d taken down a corrupt president and earned a Pulitzer for her efforts for Rao’s sake! But there was just too much happening right now, too much pressure on her from all sides. She couldn’t be everywhere all of the time. Something had to give, and in true Supergirl fashion, Kara had sacrificed herself for the good of the world.
Throwing off the covers, she dressed quickly, pulling on her favourite blue sweater. Lena would be at The Tower today -- she wanted to look her best. Always go with blue, Alex had said, it’s your colour.
She landed on The Tower balcony with a thud. It was still early. No one would be here yet and she could get a headstart on tracking down the love totem without anyone questioning why she wasn’t at work. She dematerialised her suit, walking down the stairs quietly. As she reached the computer and began searching through her data file from the Fortress, she heard a crash from the floor below, followed by a loud, “Fuck!”
Frowning, she got into the lift and followed the source of the sound. As the doors opened, she saw Lena in her lab, cleaning coffee off of her papers. On the ground there was a large device laying in several pieces.
What was she doing here, Kara thought to herself. It was barely daylight outside, and while she knew Lena to be an early riser, she didn’t think she had been getting up that early since she quit LuthorCorp. Lena, in her efforts to sop up the spilled liquid, seemed not to notice Kara’s presence and Kara took the opportunity to study her.
She looked soft, Kara thought. That was the only word that could describe the way she appeared, all curls and pink cheeks and -- holy Rao -- tight burgundy slacks. Kara swallowed and tried not to check out her best friend, which took a Herculean amount of effort frankly, considering how devastated Kara was at the thought of Lena’s ass so perfectly cupped in those trousers. She strode forward, picking up the pieces of the device Lena had been working on and set them on the table.
“Kara!” Lena greeted with dimpled smile. She had the best smile, Kara thought. Double dimples, heart shaped lips, perfectly applied lipstick. Devastating.
“What are you doing here so early for?” Kara asked, trying to keep her thoughts in more friendly territory and not about smeared lipstick and red pants. “Thought you liked to sleep in these days.”
Lena grinned, ducking her head. “I actually spent the night here last night,” she said guiltily, as if caught doing something naughty. “I wanted to try to get this totem homing beacon working so we could find the love totem, but...well…” She gestured to the shattered device in front of Kara with a frown. “It’ll take me hours to put it back together,” she sighed, turning her attention back to Kara.
“Hang on, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at Catco?”
Kara sucked in a breath through her teeth, shifting from foot to foot, ducking her head and putting her hands on her hips. “Yeah, I uh, I kind of...quit.”
Lena gave a little start, eyes widening. “You did what?! ”
Kara grimaced. “I quit my job. I quit Catco.”
Lena came around the table to stand in front of her, arms crossed. “But Kara, you love that job! You -- you can’t quit! You need that balance, Kara Danvers and Supergirl.”
“Except there is no balance,” Kara cried, tears pricking at her eyes. “Ever since I returned from the -- the Phantom Zone, everything has been off-kilter.” The tears were falling now. “I feel as though I’ve fallen a step behind, like no matter what I do, I just keep missing a step and right now, that’s unacceptable! The world -- the universe -- is depending on me and I just keep letting them down because I can’t hold it all together. Something's gotta give, and Nyxly is just too dangerous to let anything else get in the way. So,” she finished with a hard swallow, “Catco has to go. Just until we beat Nyxly. Then...then I can try to go back.”
Lena pulled her into her arms, gently rubbing her back. Kara let the tears fall. It felt good to let it all out for once, to be in the care of another, especially when that person was Lena, holding her like she was the most precious thing in the world.
“Oh Kara,” she whispered, rubbing circles into the hero’s back. Kara sniffled and pulled out of her arms, wiping her eyes.
“I just don’t know what else to do,” she said quietly. “I need to stop Nyxly. But,” she scoffed, “I also need to pay my rent. Which I didn’t think of until literally this second.”
Lena smiled and reached for Kara’s hands. “Why don’t you let me help you with that for a little while?”
Kara frowned. “What do you mean?”
Lena looked down at their clasped hands and shrugged. “I just mean, I could help you out with your finances while you’re focused on Nyxly. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about anything. One less thing on your plate.”
Kara started in shock. “You -- you mean, pay my bills? No! Lena, I could never ask you to do that.”
Lena rolled her eyes. “Well, you wouldn’t be asking. I’d be offering. Besides, who do you think pays for your daily donuts that just magically appear in the kitchen?”
Kara’s mouth dropped open. “I thought J’onn kept the kitchen stocked.”
Lena laughed brightly. “No, J’onn pays the rent and the utilities, but I’m the one who provides the equipment -- and the food.” At Kara’s confused expression, she added: “He didn’t want to budget for a Kryptonian’s daily food intake, so when he showed me the numbers, I offered.”
Kara thought back to all of the equipment that had made its way into The Tower since Lena’s arrival -- all the lab equipment, tech from L-Corp, inventions of her own design, and then the mountains of snacks that cluttered the cupboards in the kitchen; the pizza Fridays, Chinese Wednesdays, Pad Thai Tuesdays, the daily donuts, cupcakes, brownies, sticky buns -- Lena had been paying for all of that, all this time?
Lena watched the realisation dawn on her and laughed. “So you see, it’s really not a big deal. And besides that, I want to help you.”
Kara shook her head uneasily. “Lena, I really don’t think I--”
“Kara,” Lena interrupted, “you want to stop Nyxly, don’t you?”
“And you said so yourself that she was going to take all of your undivided attention.”
She nodded again.
“So you cannot have a job and take down Nyxly, otherwise you wouldn’t have quit Catco.”
She nodded a third time.
“Then let me help you,” Lena urged. “In the grand scheme of things, this is about stopping Nyxly. I want you to be able to focus without worrying about Andrea or a deadline or if your water bill is going to be too high because you took a long shower. Nyxly is the most important threat we have ever faced, and she needs to be your only concern."
“It’s just for a little while,” she added softly, squeezing Kara’s hand. “There’s no shame in accepting help when you need it.”
Kara opened her mouth. She closed it. She wanted to decline. She didn’t want to use Lena for her money -- she had always made sure they split things reasonably so that Lena wasn’t the only one paying for things no matter how often she offered. But this...didn’t sound so bad. And Lena was quite insistent about it.
She shifted from foot to food, trying to weigh this in her mind. In the end, this was all about stopping Nyxly. That’s why she had quit Catco. She couldn’t pay her rent without a job and she couldn’t have a job right now. Lena was right: she needed help.
“Okay,” she reluctantly agreed. “Just until we stop Nyxly.”
“Alright then,” Lena said with a smile.
Kara opened the door and let Lena into her apartment. It was game night, but she had asked Lena to come over a little bit early so they could go over the particulars of how Lena would be -- for lack of a better word -- paying Kara’s bills.
“Okay, so I’ve got everything here,” Kara said, grabbing a folder with all of her receipts and payments and handing it to Lena. “That way you know how much everything costs. I’ve made a list of what I pay for -- that’s right on top there -- but I’m going to cancel my Netflix and all that kind of stuff so the numbers will change a bit, but--”
“Kara, I don’t need this,” Lena said, handing the folder back without even opening it. “And why are you still paying for streaming services anyway? Just use mine. You know the login info.”
Peeling off her coat, she hung it and her purse on Kara’s coat rack and pulled an envelope out of the pocket.
“Here,” she said, handing it to Kara. Kara looked at it curiously, tearing at the flap to open it.
Lena sat down on the couch, tucking her feet up underneath her. “It’s a temporary card to an account I opened for you. There’s $10,000 in that account. It will automatically replenish each month. Just change your automatic payments to come from that account and in about a week, your checks and your permanent card will arrive.”
Kara tripped on her way over to the couch and had to use her powers to stop from falling on her face.
“$10,000?!” she yelped, falling onto the couch next to Lena. “That’s -- that’s --”
“Do you think you’ll need more?” Lena asked blankly. “To be honest, I’m not sure what you pay in rent--”
“MOre?!” Kara cried. “God, no! I -- I don’t need that much. Lena this is -- this is way too much.”
Lena waved her off and poured herself a glass of wine from the bottle Kara had prepped for them.
“It’s fine, Kara. This way it saves us both the awkwardness of me having to micromanage your finances, which I have neither the time nor the inclination to do. Just use whatever you need and be done with it. Pay your bills. Pay off your student loans. Get some goddamn therapy. I truly don’t care.”
Kara could tell the conversation was over. This was boardroom Lena. This was “I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer” Lena. She really had no say in the matter. She also found that she really, really liked that.
Five Months Later
Kelly popped the cork out of the wine bottle to let it breathe and joined Alex and Nia on the couch, where her wife was engaging Kara in an argument over the value of the hood on her Sentinel suit. Personally, it seemed like a sightline hindrance to Kelly, but she would always back her wife, so she sat down with Alex, ready to come up with some talking points for the benefits of a hood, when Kara opened up her phone case to answer a text -- the wallet type -- and Alex stopped speaking.
“I thought you used Bank of National City,” she asked with a frown.
“Lena and Brainy will be here soon, they’re just now leaving The Tower,” Kara replied, closing her phone and setting it down. “And I do, why?”
“Then why do you have a card for Cascade Investments? Isn’t that for, like, super wealthy people?”
Nia leaned forward with interest. Alex raised an eyebrow. Even Kelly couldn’t help but be intrigued, though she had a pretty good idea of where the card had come from. She could tell by the other women’s faces that they knew too.
“Oh, um,” Kara started, fidgeting with her fingers. “Well, Lena --”
“There it is!” Nia shouted excitedly, falling back with laughter. Alex put her head in her hands and Kelly poured herself a glass of wine.
“What about Lena, Kara?” Alex asked, trying to keep a straight face.
“She, well -- she’s sorta been, basically -- I mean, there’s really no other way to say it --”
“So say it,” Alex urged in annoyance.
“She’s...been paying my bills?” Kara finished, the end of the sentence turning up in a question as she hid her face behind her hands.
“Why has she been paying your bills?” Alex asked in a tone of deep exasperation.
“Well, I quit Catco because we needed to stop Nyxly and I needed to focus fully on her, but I also needed to pay my rent and I was in a jam and Lena just -- well, she offered to help me until we stopped Nyxly.”
“But Kara, we stopped Nyxly like three months ago,” Alex replied quietly. “So why are you still mooching off of her?”
“I’m -- she -- I’m not -- she told me to!” Kara blurted, blushing wildly. This was not going well. This is exactly why she hadn’t told anyone. “She said she wanted me to relax and not worry about things for a little while. I’ve been going to therapy and -- and --”
She quelled under the look Alex was giving her.
“Oh my God,” Nia gasped, shaking with laughter. “You’re a sugar baby!”
She and Kelly cackled with laughter, tears in their eyes as they took in the hilarity of the situation. Kara blushed a deeper red. Alex was the only one not laughing.
“Kara,” she said quietly, “you have to stop this. You can’t keep taking advantage of Lena’s...fondness for you.”
Kara nodded, slumping back into her chair. “I know. I’ll talk to her when she gets here.”
As if conjured by magic, the door opened just then and Lena and Brainy walked in. Kara inhaled quickly at the sight of her -- long dark hair down over one shoulder in messy waves, blue blouse tucked into tight black slacks -- and burned when she saw piercing green eyes searching the room for her. She smoothed her own blue sweater and took a deep breath. When she looked back up, Lena’s eyes were on her and she knew that Lena knew that something was wrong.
Lena always knew.
Alex kicked her shin underneath the coffee table and she jumped up from the chair and crossed the room to wear Lena was hanging up her coat.
“Hey,” Lena greeted in that soft way that made Kara weak in the knees. “Is everything alright? You look worried.”
“Can we talk outside for a minute?” Kara asked, tilting her head towards her balcony. Lena nodded curiously and followed her out the door. Kara closed it behind them and met Alex’s eyes who nodded encouragingly. Turning back to Lena, she walked over to the railing and leaned against it, trying to figure out what to say.
“Kara, whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not a big deal,” Lena said with a small laugh. “We’ve been through pretty much the worst thing and came out okay. I promise it will be alright.”
She put a hand on Kara’s bicep and let her thumb sweep up and down the blue cashmere fabric.
“I like this sweater, by the way. It brings out your eyes.”
Kara felt her body alight with warmth. God this woman was a menace to her pulse. She could feel her heart rate increase with every touch of Lena’s hand.
“I have to stop taking your money,” she blurted out without preamble. “It’s time. I -- I can’t keep using you like this. It isn’t right.”
Lena rolled her eyes and leaned onto the railing. “You’re not using me, Kara. I know perfectly well what I’m doing.”
Kara took a deep breath. “When all of this started, you said it was just for a little while -- just until we stopped Nyxly -- but it’s been months now, and you’re still taking care of me. And I can’t -- I can’t let you do that anymore. I need to try to get my job back or find another one.”
“Kara,” Lena sighed, reaching up to tuck a golden strand of hair behind her ear, “you’re always taking care of others. That’s Supergirl’s whole thing.” She stepped closer, reaching out to hold onto Kara’s arms. “Maybe it’s time you let someone take care of you for once.”
Kara looked down into soft green eyes staring up at her with so much warmth and affection and --
“Oh my God, I am a sugar baby,” she breathed quietly.
“What?” Lena asked with a frown.
Nia was right. There was no other way to put it. Not with the way Lena was looking at her right now, like she was the one who had personally created all of the heavens and hung the moon in the sky. Was it possible that Lena was just as crazy about her as she was about Lena?
“I’m a sugar baby,” she replied, shaking her head. “Nia said it, but I didn’t think it was...but you…” She trailed off. Time to be brave.
“Well, I haven’t exactly been holding up my end of things, have I?” She stepped forward into Lena’s space, taking her face in her hands. She saw Lena’s eyes widen, saw her pupils dilate, heard her gasp slightly as the dynamic shifted. Kara leaned in slowly, waiting for any indication that this wasn’t what Lena wanted, that she wasn’t okay with this. She found none.
Pressing her lips to soft pink ones below, she felt Lena release a shaky breath into her mouth and then she was lost on a tide of emotion. Kissing Lena was an explosion of stars, it was hot and soft. Gentle, but passionate. Wild, but restrained. She ran her tongue along the seam of Lena’s lips and was rewarded with soft accommodation as she licked into the sweet heat of her mouth.
As they parted, Lena blinked rapidly, holding a shaking hand over her lips.
“Well that’s -- that’s not why I did this,” she gasped, looking up into Kara’s crystal blue eyes. “Though, if this is the outcome, I can’t say I’m disappointed.”
Kara grinned and leaned in to kiss her again, deeper this time.
“I’ll get to work finding another job, first thing tomorrow,” she whispered against Lena’s lips.
“I already talked to Andrea about it a while back,” Lena whispered back. “Your job at Catco is still yours if you want it...whenever you’re ready.”
Kara took a step back, gazing down at the wondrous woman in front of her.
“You’re incredible, you know that?”
Lena arched a formidable brow before pulling her back by the front of her sweater.
“Are compliments what I pay you for?”
Kara grinned and dove back in, happy to fulfill her unexpected new role.