Lucy grimaces as she carefully reads over the complaint composed by one of her subordinates. “And he wonders why he was passed over for the promotion to CLO,” she mutters under her breath.
She sighs and leans back in her ergonomic chair, bringing a hand up to rub at her temples. Cat had been furious at the most recent board meeting, demanding the legal department take action against a recently terminated employee for defamation of character. In an attempt to curry favor with the volatile CEO of CatCo, the subordinate in question had hurriedly drafted a complaint - one that a first year law student could have done a better job on.
“Maybe next time, Bob,” Lucy says as she feeds the document into her paper shredder. The device hums pleasantly, and she smiles as she turns her desk chair to look out through her office to the rest of the working floor.
The floor-to-ceiling glass partition walls had taken some getting used to, even as much as Lucy had been used to living in a fishbowl as the daughter of a prominent military officer.
It hadn’t helped that she’d received the promotion to the Chief Legal Officer after working at CatCo for only two years, or that she had been the youngest lawyer on staff at the time. Her first week in the new office had been a tense one, with Lucy certain all of the four other attorneys, their executive assistants, and two interns had been waiting to cast the first stone her way.
In true Lane fashion, she’d risen to the occasion. It hadn’t been easy; she’d suffered her share of doubts.
Her cell phone rings, pulling her from her thoughts. She smirks at the name on her screen. “James,” she says immediately, “for the last time, I’m not giving you my intern’s number.”
There’s a pause, and then an overdramatic sigh. “Hello to you too, Lucy. I’ll have you know I wasn’t calling about that.”
“Mhm, sure.” She brings her wrist up to check the time on her watch.
“Why did I ever date you again? Don’t answer that.” He clears his throat. “I was actually calling to let you know that it seems Cat has hired a new assistant.”
Lucy freezes. Miss Grant’s been making do with the easygoing Winn filling in as an assistant since the last had been fired, and for that Lucy’s been somewhat grateful. Every time Cat hires a new assistant, the legal department ends up put to the test when each quits or is fired.
“I’m so glad we live in an at-will state,” Lucy says as she opens her desk drawer to find her bottle of aspirin.
James’s warm laugh trickles through her phone, and she finds herself smiling. They’d almost rekindled their old college romance when she’d come to work at CatCo, but she’s pleased they’d decided not to. They’re best friends, and have both acknowledged that it suits them far better than romance ever had.
“Why don’t you come down and join me for lunch?” James asks. “You can check out Cat’s new assistant.”
Lucy nibbles at the inside of her cheek, considering her schedule for the day. A thought strikes her. “James,” she says sharply, “you haven’t hit on her, have you?”
He scoffs. “I’ll have you know I’ve been entirely professional. I do think she likes me, though. She came in to pick up a spread for the magazine and wouldn’t stop blushing after I smiled at her.”
Lucy rolls her eyes good naturedly. “You do have a great smile,” she offers begrudgingly, “but take it easy on her.”
“Will do, Oh Great and Powerful CLO. Now come and have lunch with me.”
“I’ll be down in a minute.” Lucy ends the call, making sure the computer is locked before gathering her things and exiting her office.
Cat Grant’s new assistant turns out to be nothing like Lucy might have expected.
“You’re sure that’s who Cat hired to be her assistant?” she asks from behind her fork. In truth, Lucy might be a little worried. Cat’s assistants tend to fall in to one of two categories: Cat-clones or Cat-wannabes.
The new assistant is neither, her style far more conservative than Lucy has ever seen of one of Cat’s minions. The belted dress and soft cardigan are pleasant, though somewhat out of place at CatCo.
“Yep.” James takes a generous bite from his turkey sandwich, chewing briefly before continuing his thought. “Not what I was expecting, either.”
“She’s really nice,” Winn says in amazement.
There’s mustard smeared at the corner of his mouth, and Lucy has to fight a smile. She clears her throat and subtly points to her mouth, and Winn responds by grabbing a napkin and aggressively wiping his face.
“That’s good.” The smile comes out, causing Winn to mirror her expression.
Winn has often been the brunt of both Cat and her assistants’ sharp tongues, and though Lucy is still uncertain about the new hire’s place at the company, she’s glad that at least Winn will see an improvement in his working conditions.
“What’s her name?” she asks as she spears some smoked chicken and pasta on her fork.
“Kara,” James and Winn say at the same time.
Lucy’s head tilts; Kara’s now looking in the direction of the break room, as if she’s heard the cacophony of her name being called by Lucy’s lunch companions.
“Kara,” Lucy murmurs, “I like that.”
The first time Lucy is on the main floor and she catches Cat loosing a lawsuit-worthy string of criticism Kara’s way, Lucy expects that the meek assistant will burst into tears.
Kara’s shoulders are slumped and her expression is uncomfortable, but she shocks both Lucy and Cat by only clutching her small tablet to her chest.
“I’ll get on that right away, Miss Grant,” Kara says as she turns to hurry past Lucy and to the elevator.
Lucy can only stare after her. She shakes herself after a moment, her lips pursed into a thin line. “Miss Grant,” she says sharply, “we’ve discussed your inappropriate comments before. Please refrain from making personal attacks on any of your employees.”
“You’ve got to earn your keep somehow,” Cat says. She wiggles her shoulders and lets out a hefty sigh. “I’ll try to remember for next time. I still can’t believe you let Siobhan get away with such a hefty settlement.”
The smile that pulls at Lucy’s face is brittle. She wants to mention that it had been Cat’s own fault; Siobhan Smythe had collected a series of damning recordings of Cat’s famous dressing downs. It had been a miracle Siobhan had been willing to settle at all.
“A courier is coming to collect your formally written apology. You have written it, haven’t you?”
Cat’s lips pull back into what few would consider a smile. “Certainly.” She lifts her head. “Kiera!”
Lucy is surprised when Kara comes hurrying back in. Had Kara already finished whatever errand on another floor Cat had sent her out on?
“Yes, Miss Grant, I have the document printed and awaiting your signature,” Kara says as she pushes her glasses up, her other hand extending a plain folder.
“See, Lucy? You worry for nothing.” Cat smirks, her arms crossed as she ignores Kara’s still extended hand.
Lucy shoots Kara a suspicious look. She’s fairly certain Cat hadn’t written the apology, but she won’t ask. Though Lucy is and has been committed to improving things at CatCo, there are certain times when she knows to rely on plausible deniability.
“You pay me to worry,” Lucy says. She lifts her shoulder in half shrug, sparing a smile for Kara on her way out of Cat’s office.
Kara is more than she seems. Lucy respects that.
Some days later, Lucy is composing an email when there’s soft tapping against her door.
“Hello,” Kara says as she timidly steps inside, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but Miss Grant wants you to look these over immediately.”
Lucy stands and rounds her desk to meet Kara halfway, her attention focused on the sheaf of documents in Kara’s hands. Just as she’s about to reach for them, Kara stumbles. The papers scatter in an impressive flurry of white.
“I’m so sorry.” Kara crouches down and begins collecting the papers.
Lucy automatically does the same. She frowns over at Kara as they finish, debating with herself.
Cat has gone through a number of assistants over the years, and Lucy has always done her best not to get too attached. It’s the responsible thing to do, especially when she might one day be facing litigation on behalf of Cat Grant against one such assistant. Still, she hesitates.
“Kara,” she says as they both awkwardly stand, “is everything alright?”
“Oh, yeah, no.” Kara fidgets with her glasses. “No, I’m fine. Everything is fine. It’s all, just, you know, so fine.”
Lucy contemplates her a moment, gently tugging the crumpling documents from Kara’s too-strong grip. “Would you like to have lunch with me today, Kara?”
The offer is spontaneous, but Lucy can’t stand to watch Kara struggle. It’s not unreasonable to want to support her co-worker, Lucy reasons.
And Kara looks so hopeful, that Lucy couldn’t rescind the offer even if she really wanted to. “Yeah. We’re going to Noonan’s today, know the place?”
Kara’s head bobs quickly. “Yeah, just um, we?”
Lucy smiles. “It’ll be fine, trust me.”
At the first lunch Kara’s a little awkward, though having Winn around seems to help her relax. Lucy finds she likes Kara’s shy company, and after several more lunch invites, Lucy finds she likes Kara even more once her confidence grows.
“The only person I know here is my sister,” Kara says after a month and a half of lunches, “so it means a lot to me that you guys have welcomed me here.”
The table is quiet, and then Winn is leaning over to hug her. “I know exactly what that feels like.”
Lucy smiles, though there’s a lump in her throat. “Ah, so that’s the woman that comes and steals you away sometimes?”
“Yep,” Kara says brightly, “that’s Alex! She’s the best, though I know she worries too much. She didn’t want me to take this job,” Kara admits after a pause.
Lucy can’t help but think of her own sister, and how Lois had protested at Lucy’s decision to move across the country to work for a woman Lois had often described as a “selfish egomaniacal shark.” Lucy hadn’t known how to explain her urge to move away, far from the Lane legacy that Lois has had no problem living up to.
She loves Lois, but Lucy had needed to prove something to herself, and gaining the respect of a powerful woman who wasn’t impressed by the Lane name had seemed one of the few ways to achieve that.
“That’s what sisters do,” Lucy says with a smile. She’s glad to have Kara opening up, even if only to their small group of friends. Though Kara has been handling Cat impressively well, Lucy had been worrying a little, too.
“She’s so happy I’ve made friends,” Kara says with pinkened cheeks, no doubt embarrassed at the revelation.
“We’re lucky to have you.” James offers Kara a warm smile.
Maybe Lucy is a little perturbed about that, too. Inter-office romances aren’t forbidden, but there is a grey area when it involves a senior staff member such as James and the relative newcomer that is Kara. James is a good guy, and Lucy knows he won’t take advantage of Kara, but Lucy still feels uneasy.
“He’s right,” Lucy chimes in when the look between Kara and James a little too long for her comfort.
Kara’s smile is perhaps the brightest Lucy has ever seen.
“What do you think of that?” Lucy’s staring up at one of the large monitors on the main floor of CatCo.
Beside her, James and Winn are also staring. “Definitely Kryptonian,” James says.
Lucy nods, a concerned frown on her face as she watches the plane again be saved by the mystery woman. “She’s in normal clothes. There’s no costume like Superman.”
“I wonder how long she’s been here.” Winn sounds more excited than anything, making Lucy shake her head.
“I don’t like it,” she says, remembering her father’s many arguments with Lois about aliens. Lucy had always tried to remain neutral between the two, and thus had come to understand some of her father’s concerns as valid. “She could have been hiding here for a while. Why? She could have been helping Superman for however long she’s been here, but she hasn’t. I really don’t like it.”
“Lucy,” James begins in a weary voice. A loud crash to their left makes the small trio turn in startlement.
Kara is sprawled out on the floor, glasses askew and a mail cart tipped over. “Sorry,” Kara says with wide eyes.
The serious mood is broken, and Lucy immediately goes to help Kara up. “Are you alright?”
“Just embarrassed,” Kara admits. She’s unable to meet Lucy’s gaze as Winn and James been collecting the parcels lost from the mail cart.
Lucy’s filled with the sudden urge to hug Kara, but she suppresses it. They’re at work. She gently squeezes Kara’s shoulder instead. “Accidents happen.”
Kara nods and helps in the cleanup, still not looking at Lucy.
The next time Kara has a big mishap, they’re at Noonan’s. The gang is supposed to be meeting up for a night on the town, Kara’s long delayed introduction to National City’s thriving nightlife.
Lucy’s just returned to their table when she hears a commotion, followed by glasses impacting the floor. She turns in surprise, immediately becoming apprehensive when she spots Kara half-kneeling on the floor.
“Don’t move!” Lucy hurries Kara’s way, carefully looking around Kara’s knees before helping her friend up. “Are you okay?” she asks as she examines Kara’s legs for injuries.
“I’m fine, Lucy. Really.” Kara’s words are immediately followed by a plethora of apologies to the waiter Kara had run in to.
Once Lucy’s worry subsides, she realizes that Kara looks fantastic in a vibrant blue sheathe. “You look great,” Lucy comments as she turns to guide Kara to their table.
“Thanks.” Kara’s blushing, though Lucy’s not sure if it’s the compliment or her previous embarrassment. “Y-you look pretty great, yourself.”
“Everything okay?” James asks when they return. Both he and Winn are standing. “We were going to go help, but Lucy beat us.”
“Just me being myself,” Kara says with a tight lipped smile.
Lucy reaches out to rub her shoulder. “Are you anxious about tonight? You don’t have to be.”
“Yeah, we’re just going to have fun. You can let us know if you want to do something else.” Winn reaches out to pat Kara’s forearm.
“Thanks, Winn.” Kara offers them all a small smile. “Right now I’m just kind of hungry.”
“The woman has spoken,” James says as he holds up a hand to gain their waiter’s attention.
Lucy nibbles at the inside of her cheek, silently examining Kara. Something seems off, but she’s not sure what. She takes a breath and pushes the feeling aside. They’re doing this to help show Kara a good time, and Lucy won’t be ruining it with needless disquiet.
A few hours later when Kara and James are on the dance floor, Lucy’s unease doesn’t seem needless. “I’m going to step out for a minute,” she says to Winn. She doesn’t wait for his response, only knowing the club they’re in is suddenly too crowded and stuffy and she can’t breathe.
“No,” she says as she stares up at the darkened sky. The lights of the city wash out any hints of stars from where she’s standing, but she can still see the moon.
She isn’t bothered by whatever is happening between James and Kara, she tells herself. The reason she’s having trouble breathing, even out in the fresh night air, has absolutely nothing to do with how fantastic James and Kara had looked in each other's arms.
Lucy doesn’t have feelings for James anymore, she reminds herself.
It hits her then, a moment before a light hand on her elbow makes her suck in an astonished breath.
“Are you okay, Lucy? Winn said you looked a little sick or something.”
Lucy can only swallow. Kara looks so concerned, and her hand is warm against Lucy’s skin. “I’m fine.” She forces a smile. “I just maybe need to slow down on the drinking.”
“Come on,” Kara says with a small frown.
Lucy’s tries to pretend like she’s not affected by the comforting arm settled around her shoulders, or how wonderful it feels to have Kara’s hand protectively settled over her bicep.
She’s fine, really; she’s just maybe a little in love with Kara.
Kara gives her an encouraging smile.
Or, you know, totally in love with Kara, her mind corrects.
When CatCo begins a smear campaign against Supergirl after a fight with a group of aliens had done some significant damage to National City, Lucy isn’t as pleased as she once might have been. It’s been months since Supergirl’s premiere save, and maybe the new hero has begun to win Lucy over a little.
Unfortunately, Lucy’s not the only one.
“James, you know you have a serious cape fetish, right?” Lucy is beyond irritated with him. He and Kara had been making moony eyes at each other for weeks, but Lucy has seen the shift in him as Supergirl becomes a more prominent figure in National City.
“What, this old argument again? She’s just cool, like Superman.” James looks as defensive as he sounds, his arms crossed protectively over his chest.
“That’s my exact point,” Lucy reports with raised eyebrows. “Kara might not wear a cape, but you’re really lucky to have her.”
James’s brow furrows. “Lucy, you know Kara--”
“I-I think Supergirl is pretty okay, too,” Kara nervously cuts in from the entryway to the break room.
Lucy feels a little warm. Though she’s never slow to compliment Kara, Lucy is still glad she hadn’t said anything really mortifying - like how much she loves the way Kara’s nose crinkles up and head tilts when she really laughs.
“Well, yeah, Supergirl’s fine,” comes Lucy’s uncomfortable response.
“What?” James and Kara say at the same time.
Lucy gives them an odd look. “Supergirl is okay,” she says slowly.
She stifles a surge of jealousy when Kara and James glance at each other.
“I thought you didn’t like Supergirl.”
Winn’s voice startles Lucy, and she moves forward to take one of the takeout bags from him. “Why would you think that?”
“You never have anything nice to say about her,” Kara admits.
Lucy puts the food down, stifling the urge to refute Kara’s claim, instead mulling it over. She nods to herself. “You might be right, but that’s not because I hate her or anything.” She looks around at her friends. “James and I broke up because he was obsessed with Superman. I just didn’t want him to do that with Supergirl, too.”
She doesn’t mention that most of her concern is for Kara’s feelings.
“I was not,” James begins, only to look at Lucy and swallow once, “that...obsessed with Superman.”
The breakroom becomes quiet. “James and Superman, kissing in a tree,” Winn begins singing.
Kara and Lucy laugh, while James pretends to try and cover Winn’s mouth. “Shut up.”
Lucy’s breath catches when, in her usual attempt to absorb how beautiful Kara is when she laughs, she inadvertently meets Kara’s eyes. She looks for as long as she can without arousing Kara’s suspicion.
Later that evening when Lucy’s just finished cleaning up after dinner, she’s caught unawares by knocking at her door. A quick look through the peephole leaves her further surprised.
She unlocks and opens the door quickly. Though she’d given Kara her address some weeks before, Kara has never stopped by unannounced. The only other times Kara had visited had been brief, usually only to meet up to share a cab elsewhere. “Kara?”
Kara smiles, her lips trembling just slightly, her hands clasped together so tightly that her fingertips are white. “Lucy, I’m so sorry to stop by like this, but I...I think I really need to talk to you.”
“Of course,” Lucy says as she steps back and opens the door wider.
Kara hesitates and says something under her breath, rushing in past Lucy before Lucy can ask what her friend has said.
“What’s wrong, Kara?” Lucy asks some moments later when they’re standing in her living room. Kara had opted not to sit, and Lucy’s nerves are keeping her on her feet.
Kara paces several steps and turns, her hands wringing together. “James and I just had a long talk.”
Lucy’s stomach twists. Had James said something to upset Kara? “Oh?”
“Yeah.” Kara paces a few steps more. She takes a deep breath before turning to face Lucy. “I think that there’s been a huge misunderstanding.”
“About what?” Lucy manages around the lump in her throat. Her heart is beating erratically, and she really wishes it wouldn’t.
“This,” Kara says as she steps forward.
Lucy’s lungs cease to function as Kara’s hand rises to cup her cheek, and then Kara’s face is moving ever closer to her own. Her eyes shut.
The touch she’s expecting never comes, instead shaky breaths tickling her lips. Lucy opens her eyes again.
“Y-you want this, right?” Kara’s eyes are soft and vulnerable.
Lucy sucks in an unsteady breath, and then presses her lips to Kara’s. “Yes,” she affirms once the kiss ends and she’s leaning her face into Kara’s warm palm.
They kiss again, and Lucy feels giddy with joy as Kara’s arms settle around her. Her head finds its way to Kara’s shoulder, a content sigh passing her lips.
“Lucy? There’s, um, one more thing I need to tell you,” Kara says after a moment.