The first time takeout was delivered to her office unexpectedly on a Tuesday; Kara thought it was Alex making up for missing Veep night. Then she saw the note:
“I hear this is your favorite.
L? As in Mon El? She had been extolling the joys of Chinese takeout to him the other day and had promised to take him there when she had a free evening. Chasing down who the “on high” might be that let Roulette go was harder than she thought. And then Cadmus was practically giving away anti-alien weapons to thugs. And Alex had been a bit more withdrawn recently for some reason. And J’onn was being cranky again about M’gann… she sighed. What was a superhero and a reporter to do?
She put the note aside and opened up the first container. “Ooh, lo mein! My favorite!”
She was slurping up the last of the noodles when James knocked on her door.
“Mpmf, come in!”
“Hey, Kara, I—”
She still had a few noodles hanging from her mouth. He grinned and leaned against the door.
“Someone found your vice, it seems. Secret admirer?”
“What? No. It’s Mon El. At least I think so. Can you believe he’s never had Chinese takeout?” She opened up the next carton. Kung Pao Chicken. Alex must have told him what I like. I’ll have to thank her later.
“He’s from another planet, Kara. It’s not all that surprising.”
“I know that, but, you know. He’s been here almost a month and still hasn’t tried it!” She popped a bite of chicken in her mouth and relished the spicy sauce. Perfect. “He’s crazy. This is the best.”
James shook his head. “You and food. I swear.”
“What? Nothing wrong with loving food.” She washed her next bite down with some water and reluctantly put her chopsticks down. “Did you need something?”
“Right, actually I do.” He pulled up a chair and put on his best, most charming smile. “I know you’re working for Snapper now as a reporter, but I’d appreciate your collaboration on a new piece I’m heading up.”
Kara beamed. It was the first time James had asked her to write something for him since he took over for Cat. “I’m in!”
“Great! It will be short, nothing big, but a reaction to the recent discovery of the alien fight club and what options aliens have coming to National City in the wake of the Alien Amnesty act.”
Kara’s face fell. “Oh, you want Supergirl’s perspective.”
“Well yeah. She’s the voice people want to hear. Not that I don’t care about you as Kara, but Supergirl’s perspective is more relevant to the conversation, being an alien herself. You can talk about the meaning you’ve found in being a hero and helping people as an alien in National City.”
“Sure, James. I understand. When do you want it?”
“Tomorrow noon. Thanks Kara, I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome, James.”
When he left, she took another bite of Kung Pao, her lips pursed. “At least my food wants me as Kara.”
By the time she caught sight of the potstickers, she had almost let go of her annoyance. That they were pork helped.
Two days later, the next delivery came, this one from a pizza place she frequented near her apartment.
“Maybe next time we can enjoy it together.
Wait, is Mon El hitting on me? She thought she’d nipped that idea in the bud after she’d found him in the supply closet for the third time.
“Look,” she’d told him, trying desperately to keep from raising her voice and exposing his indecent behavior in front of the whole office. “What you do on your own time is your own business. But, you can’t do this here! I got you this job and everything you do reflects on me.”
“It won’t if you join me instead,” he’d teased. Thankfully that weeks fling (a brunette secretary named Alice) had been out of earshot.
“For the last time, no! I don’t like you that way, Mon El. You’re a nice guy and all, but I’m not interested. And even if they are, do it at home, not at work! Ugh, Daxamites!”
He’d dropped trying to ask her out, but maybe he was trying to use food to get back into her good graces?
The smell of sausage, peppers, and onions distracted her. Supreme. Her mouth watered. She was just polishing off her third slice when Mon El passed her office. She rushed to the door, dragged him in, and shut it behind her.
“It’s not going to work, you know.” His bow tie was askew and he seemed a bit out of breath. She knew he didn’t use the supply closet any more, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t found another hole to do…whatever it is he liked to do with all the girls in the office. Or maybe he’d been working out with Winn. He liked going over and spar in the training room at the DEO over lunch.
She pushed him against the wall. “The food.”
“You’re trying to butter me up with food. Alex told you that was my kryptonite right? Well, not my kryptonite kryptonite but my not kryptonite kryptonite. You know what I mean.”
“I actually don’t.”
She let him go and showed him the note. “You didn’t send me this?”
He shook his head.
“And you didn’t send me Chinese takeout last week?”
“No, but it sounds like you have a secret admirer,” he looked more closely at the note. “Whose name starts with ‘L’. Kara you seriously don’t know who sent this?”
She shook her head, eyes wide. He laughed.
“Someone whose name begins with ‘L’. Who has a not so subtle crush on you?”
She stared at him. “It’s not you?”
“I think I’ve made it pretty obvious that I’ve moved on. I mean, I’m flattered, but no. And my name doesn’t start with ‘L’. It ends with it.”
Someone whose name starts with ‘L’? Lucy was overseas working with her father, General Lane, and the only other person she knew whose name started with that letter was… “Lena.” She flushed bright red.
“Give the superhero a prize,” Mon El smirked.
“Kara, practically all of National City knows. She gave you the run of her office remember? You’re to be let in at any time? I’m new here, but even I know that someone with that much power and a schedule packed more tightly than my abs wouldn’t let just anyone come into her office unannounced and unplanned for.”
She fumbled with her glasses so hard they fell off. “Um, you can go no, thanks.”
“Enjoy your pizza,” he grinned and stretched out his hand to take a slice. Her fingers closed around his wrist like iron.
“Don’t. You. Dare.”
He backed out and shut the door, grinning all the way.
The third delivery didn’t come until the next Monday. A box of crullers, hot from the ovens, was waiting on her desk when she arrived at work that morning. She ate two before she looked at the note. Now that she was pretty sure they were from Lena, she was more nervous, especially after what had happened that weekend.
Alex, with help from Maggie (and a lot of sighing and stomping around Kara’s apartment after Maggie left), had found a lead on one of the potential ‘higher ups’ involved with Roulette. His name was Amos Fortune and he ran a Resort and Casino just outside National City limits. It was all circumstantial, and off the books, right now, but Maggie had dug up some potential connections to Lex Corp that left Kara feeling torn. She didn’t want Lena to be mixed up in all this, but she couldn’t deny that it looked bad. At least potentially bad.
Is that what she meant by a favor? Is she connected to Roulette getting free? She didn’t think Lena would know about her being involved in the investigation, but if Lena was one of the higher ups involved, she would have ways of finding out who was looking into any of her shady business deals. Perhaps Lena had only given her the name of Roulette’s fight club to throw of suspicion from herself.
She paused mid-bite and stared at the cruller as if it were a kryptonite bomb. Was Lena trying to buy her favor? Was she asking her to turn a blind eye? Was all this food…a bribe?
She put the rest of the cruller (her fourth) back in the box and closed the lid. She didn’t feel hungry anymore.
The news broke two days later. The NCPD was investigating Amos Fortune for allegedly bribing city officials to turn a blind eye to the illegal gambling he funded, both via Roulette and other channels. There were rumors that Lex Luthor had contributed to his rise in the Resort and Casino business and continued to fund him behind bars. CatCo was abuzz with the story, many pointing proudly to the new, higher number next to her name on Snapper Carr’s white board.
“How’d you get the scoop?” One of the other junior reporters asked.
“Supergirl,” she answered softly. “She works with someone who was part of the arrest. Gave me the full story.”
The young woman sighed. “You’re so lucky! I’d love to meet Supergirl, maybe ask for her number if you know what I mean.”
Kara dropped her notepad. “I, ugh, do know what you mean, only, well, we don’t really have that kind of relationship. Not that Supergirl and I are in a relationship. We’re friends, just friends, but not in a ‘we’re just friends’ kind of way. We really are. Just friends.”
The other reporter giggled and walked off, flinging a “Sure, Danvers,” over her shoulder.
Kara stared at the number three beside her name and chewed her lip. She was still proud of her work, but concern gnawed at her. She hadn’t touched the box of cupcakes that had been delivered yesterday just before the end of the work day. They were from the upscale boutique shop downtown, too, the kind Cat had always kept to herself.
They were probably delicious, but she couldn’t bring herself to eat one, no matter how fluffy the icing looked. She couldn’t bear to throw them out either, though, so her office smelled like vanilla and cake and deception.
“Danvers,” Snapper Carr was right behind her and her back went ramrod straight. “You have an in with Luthor.”
It was a statement, not a question. “Yes, she said I could visit her office at any—”
“Fine. Get a statement from her about the Fortune situation. If you can manage to ask a coherent question without falling all over yourself, see if you can get a statement on L Corp’s involvement. Or non involvement.”
“Um, yes. Mr. Carr, when do you want me to—”
“I want it on my desk by midnight tonight.”
Kara whirled, her head spinning. How am I supposed to talk to Lena after she’s been bribing me with food?
“Oh, and Danvers.”
“Yes, Mr. Carr?”
“Good work on the Fortune expose. You might make a reporter yet.”
She beamed, leaving his office as if she were floating (she wasn’t was she? No. Whew. That would be awkward).
He yelled out after her, “Just stop using passive voice so much!” But she barely heard.
The smell of cupcakes brought her back down to reality. Right. Lena Luthor. I’m supposed to interview her.
She couldn’t delay much longer if she wanted to get copy to Snapper by midnight, so she stuffed her recorder, notepad, pen, and phone in her briefcase. Here goes nothing.
She grabbed a cupcake on the way out and tried not to think about what her choosing to eat it might mean.
It was worth it.
“So you deny that L Corp is involved with Amos Fortune in any way?” Kara had put on her best serious reporter face, but was struggling to maintain it under the sizzling gaze of the brunette opposite her.
As she’d expected, she was shown into Lena’s office immediately. She’d almost lost her composure when Lena stood gracefully and extended her hand to welcome her. She wore tight black slacks, a white blouse with a deep neckline, and a pair of dangerously sleek black heels. She looked every inch the powerful woman she was and Kara had a second of doubt. Maybe the food was innocent, a gesture of admiration as Mon El claimed.
Maybe that was just her desire for another cupcake talking.
Lena steepled her fingers under her chin. “I don’t deny that it was. My brother is a notorious criminal and had contacts all over the world. Amos Fortune was one of them. Fortunately, pardon my pun, I uncovered the deal he and my brother set up several months ago and severed the connection.”
“How can the people of National City trust that you have done so?”
“Don’t you mean, you?”
Kara choked on a reply, nearly dropping her notepad as she struggled for words.
“You want to know how you can trust me, isn’t that right, Kara?”
“I-I am a concerned citizen of National City, so yes.”
Lena smiled sadly. “Oh, is that all you are? Pity.”
“You, um, well. You haven’t answered my question Ms. Luthor.”
“I didn’t, did I? Well, just to assure you and the other concerned citizens,” Lena rose and retrieved a file from her wall safe. “Against my accountants’ wishes I have had my IT department create a special password to allow access to L Corp’s books for the past 6 months, when it officially changed hands. It is good for 24 hours and then the firewall will go up again.”
She extended the file to Kara, “Use it wisely. Bring the NCPD in if you want, too.” Before Kara could take it, she pulled it back. “But only on one condition.”
“You have dinner with me.”
“W-what? No. This has gone far enough!”
Lena blinked, her mouth agape.
Kara stood to her full height and stared Lena full in the face. “I’ve put up with your bribes for the past week and I am done.”
“Bribes? Why Kara, whatever do you mean?”
“The Chinese takeout, the pizza, the crullers, and…and…the cupcakes!” Kara’s nostrils flared. The cupcakes were the last straw. How dare Lena tempt her like that!
Lena dissolved into laughter, “You thought I was bribing you? Let me guess you thought I was trying to get you to not investigate me. Oh Kara, did you really?”
“Y-yes. Yes I did. Only now maybe I don’t.”
“You’re precious, Kara. That’s precisely why I like you. You’re so earnest, genuine, and utterly adorable. I haven’t met anyone quite like you before. That you would think I would bribe you with food, and get offended! There really isn’t anyone like you in the world.”
“No, Kara, I’m not trying to bribe you, I’m trying to date you.”
“I want to go on a date with you, Kara. It’s what people do when they like each other.”
Kara stared at the floor, her cheeks flushed and mind spinning. If she hadn’t had her lead-rimmed glasses on, she would have set the carpet on fire she was staring so hard.
Dinner with Lena? She’d been so caught up thinking the food was a bribe she didn’t know what to say to that. She recalled the stir she’d felt when she had thought it was all a gesture of interest and found she liked the idea of Lena being interested in her. More than that, she was interested in Lena; it’s why the bribes (that she now knew weren’t bribes) had stung so much. She liked Lena’s smile, the way she flipped her hair, her desire to do good and willingness to be open in the face of so much suspicion.
More than that, she liked that Lena was interested in her, in Kara, not in Supergirl. She likes me for who I am in my normal life, not because I save people. She might have to tell her someday though, but that was too far in the future. For now it was dinner.
“Dinner sounds nice,” she finally managed to say. Her face shone brighter than red kryptonite. Her neck felt hot. I’m going on a date with Lena!
Lena’s green eyes glittered happily and her lips spread in a smile more heartfelt than Kara had seen before. “Excellent. I can make a reservation for La Mirabelle for this evening if you’re free.”
“Um, could we do something more casual?” She’d never been to that kind of upscale restaurant and it felt wrong for a first date with Lena. She wanted to be comfortable, cozy, in a place where she could be herself and Lena could do the same. “We could have dinner at my apartment and watch a movie. The weather said there’s a storm headed this way tonight. I like to be inside and cozy when it rains.”
Lena raised an eyebrow. Oh no! Kara thought. Maybe that was too casual? Or maybe she thinks I’m just trying to seduce her? Why did I have to ask her to my apartment? I should have said Noonan’s!
“That sounds utterly relaxing and delightful, Kara,” Lena let her shoulders sag slightly. “I haven’t had a restful night in in years.”
“Oh good!” Kara ripped a page out of her notepad and scribbled down her phone number and address. “How does 8 sound?”
“Perfect.” She touched Kara’s arm and a jolt of electricity shot up Kara’s spine. “I am looking forward to it.”
In the end, they settled on potstickers and pizza (a new combination for Lena) with mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. That was Lena’s favorite. Kara generally preferred caramel or peanut butter and chocolate, but she found that she liked mint a lot more with Lena to share it with.
Thunder rumbled in the distance as they curled up on the couch together to watch Stranger Things. Alex had watched the first few episodes without her, so Kara was eager to catch up to her, and maybe pass her by, just to show her how it felt when your watching buddy cheats on you. Lena hadn’t seen it at all, so they started from the beginning. The storm outside only made the mood even creepier, and they were soon clinging to each other.
“I don’t know how you can eat that much,” Lena teased during a break between episodes when they were putting away their dessert dishes. “I’m impressed.”
“I have an a-high metabolism,” Kara patted her stomach. “Did you think I shared any of the food you sent me?”
Lena’s eyes widened, “You ate it all?
“Well, not all at once,” Kara said sheepishly. “I took three days to eat the cupcakes, but only because I was exercising self control.”
Lena laughed and put her hand on top of Kara’s full, happy tummy, “Well now they have company.”
When the next episode started, Kara rested her head in Lena’s lap wordlessly. It was instinct, she did it with Alex all the time. When she realized what she’d done, she sat up, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean—”
“I don’t mind.” Her voice was hushed and deep. She gestured for Kara to lay down again, who complied, settling into the intimacy with surprising ease. It felt right.
A few minutes later, she felt Lena’s fingers combing through her hair. Kara smiled happily to herself, and snuggled closer.