Lena takes her to brunch. Fancy new Asian Bistro with the wait for reservations surpassing the six month mark. Kara Yelped it while they waited for cocktails and appetizers and hummed in delight at the mention of dumplings in every review. “Trying to butter me up,” she teases.
Lena sips at her mimosa. “Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.” Her smile softens her teasing. “And I hear they have very good dumplings.”
“So good,” Kara says immediately, turning her phone around so Lena can see the stars and the reviews. “I want fifty.”
The waitress arrives as she finished and blinks, pen poised over pad. Her eyes dart to Lena. Lena’s face has gone smooth the way it does when she’s in public. “You heard the lady.” Kara watches her as the waitress leaves, the way she eases when it’s just her and Kara. “I do… admit to an ulterior motive.”
Kara eyes a platter passing by to a nearby table. “Oh?” When she refocuses, Lena is smiling again. “Oh. Yes, I’m paying attention. Sorry. I… needed this.”
“Food?” Lena arches a faintly worried eyebrow.
Lena almost pinks. Her smile grows at the corners and she looks down to curb it. “That, I can always provide. Would it help for me to use my connections in petty ways?”
Kara sighs. “No. I’m trying not to… let it get me down.”
“For what it’s worth, I do believe it’s the stupidest decision Snapper has ever made. And with a name like that, there must be a long list to pick from.”
Kara smiles at the table, adjusting her glasses with the tip of a finger. “You’re biased, though.”
“I am,” Lena agrees, “but I can also be right. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”
“Mm.” Kara tilts her face into the sunshine--she can’t prove it, but she thinks Lena picks their tables out just for this, the light through the window to be warm on her cheek and glint on her hair. She refocuses. “You had something to ask?”
“I did.” Lena pauses, her eyes narrowing before she relaxes herself with an effort. “I think it’s best not discussed in a public space.” Her gaze focuses on something behind Kara--the smell of pork and steamed vegetables hits her like a song and she inhales, deep. The waitress sets down the first of many platters and Kara tucks the tips of her fingers under her thighs to prevent herself from reaching out while the waitress is laying out the food. Lena is smiling at her. “Please,” she says, when the waitress has left, “enjoy.”
“Yes,” Kara cheers, snapping her chopsticks so enthusiastically the back tip of one splinters away. She coughs to cover it, then digs in.
Lena watches her, amused, her own plate still bare. “How you haven’t burned the taste buds right off your tongue, I’ll never know.”
“I’m hardy,” Kara tells her. She fits two in her mouth at once and grins, playfully childish. It makes Lena laugh.
After, Lena offers a ride and Kara accepts. Slides across expensive leather seats and watches the partition roll up between them and the driver. “So. This mysterious favor.”
“Mm,” Lena acknowledges. She taps her fingers on the door, sighs. “I--.”
She stops for a long while, frowning at the floormat, and after another moment Kara catches her restless fingers. “Lena.”
“There is a conference. Outside the city, next weekend.”
“In Dover,” Kara says. “I’ve seen the advertisements.”
“Right.” Lena fidgets again. She pulls her hand out of Kara’s and sits with them in her lap, her fingers twisting together. “I’m to attend, of course. Be seen being seen, a few speeches; there are a few lectures I’m even looking forward to.”
“Nerd,” Kara teases, fondly. It’s enough that some of the tension bleeds from Lena’s ramrod steel posture. Lena smiles back, tentative.
“An ex... entanglement of mine will be in attendance.”
Kara’s face wrinkles, confused. “Like… an old boyfriend?”
“Girlfriend,” Lena corrects.
Kara’s eyes go big. “Oh. Oh! Well that’s---that’s fine. You know my sister--”
“I know it’s fine,” Lena says, cutting her off gently before she can really get her foot into it. “But at the time, it was a matter of some interest to the tabloids. And… it did not end quietly.”
Kara nods. She starts to reach for Lena’s hand again, then pauses. “Can I?”
Lena nods, extending her own hand. Kara grips her, firm and warm and reassuring. “It’s in the past. But… I will confess.” She hesitates. She sighs. “I’m nervous, I suppose.”
“Lena,” Kara ventures, after another minute of silence has passed. “Whatever it is, I’m here for you. I want to help.”
“I would like to invite you to be my guest at the convention. All expenses paid, including backstage access to speakers, prototypes, inside scoops.”
“But,” Kara blinks, rapid. “But the convention is infamous. Only selected talks are allowed to be recorded. There’s only one press conference and all questions are pre-approved.”
“Mm,” Lena agrees. “Which is why it might be material enough to leverage your way back into a job. Any, if you’re feeling vindictive and looking to jump ship.”
Kara ducks her head, but her smile curls up at the edges. “I don’t think the convention is quite enough for that.”
“I think Snapper Carr would do a lot more for all that and the Luthor scoop.” Lena twitches her fingers, nervous. “Consider it a vacation, if you’re not interested in the professional way. And a favor, to a friend. Call it moral support.”
Kara tightens her grip. “Well, I guess I am employed now. As your permanent, full time friend!” Her voice goes up at the end, a tiny cheer, and Lena smiles, helpless.
Kara blows out a sigh and drapes herself along the table, cheek to metal. She sighs again, hard enough Winn’s mouse freezes over with a fine layer of frost. He snatches it out of the blast radius and glares.
“I’m bored,” she protests.
“Some of us have work to do.”
Kara gasps. “Low blow, Winn...ifred.”
He throws a pen at her, bouncing off her hair. “Go check the classifieds, Supergirl. I don’t like out of work intrepid reporters.”
“Leave me alone,” she grumbles, “I’m not hurting anyone.”
Winn picks up his coffee cup and gently clunks it on the tabletop, enough so the clearly frozen liquid makes a heavy noise.
Kara lets her face droop, downtrodden. “Alright, alright.” She drums her fingers on the desktop.
“Okay,” Winn says with a sigh, hooking his ankle around the nearest empty chair and pulling it over. “It’s lunchtime anyway.”
“Yay,” Kara cheers. She hovers over the table and settles into the chair light as a feather, resisting the urge to twirl. “What are we doing? Want to see me go super speed on minesweeper again?”
“No,” Winn says, yanking his mouse away again. “We’re going to jobsearch, okay? Clean up your resume and write a few cover letters. I’m a very quick typist, it won’t take that long.”
“Winn,” Kara groans, melting back over the table and huffing with her face down. “Can’t we just shout at Solitaire?”
“Uh,” Winn says. “No. Uhh…. uh no. Uh no. No uh, no.”
Kara turns her head sideways, squishing her cheek and distorting her voice. “Why are you making those noises?”
“Um,” Winn replies. “Ummmm. Um.”
Kara squints, the screen at an awkward angle. “What are you looking at? Is it a giant fish man, because I told Barry if King Shark ever appeared in this universe, I would---”
Winn turns the monitor so she can see it properly. Kara blinks at the website, half laughing. “Why are you on that trash site--” her brain processes the image and the headline and she freezes. “Oh no.”
Winn looks at her. “Is this… ?”
“I have to go,” Kara says.
“Wait!” Winn flails at her as she blurs out of sight. He shouts after the ruffle of papers blown off desks. “Don’t forget to change!”
Kara is still fumbling with her glasses when she goes by Jess at a speed walk that has Lena’s assistant sputtering after her: “Ms. Danvers, stop!! How are you this fast??”
She barges into Lena’s office. “Lena, I--” she pulls up short. “Oh.”
Lena’s office is currently occupied. Three men in suits, one at the window and two lounging on the sofa. “Speak of the devil,” the one at the window says, and his tone is oddly pointed.
Lena is sitting at her desk, leaned back and one leg crossed over the other, her hair pulled back and her face somehow completely blank and completely furious at once. “Gentlemen,” she says. “If you don’t mind.”
“We will speak of this at the board meeting,” one says, rising from the couch and buttoning his jacket. “Ms. Danvers,” he adds, as they leave.
Kara slides out of their way, leaving the door clear. “Mister… L-Corp.”
Jess comes to shut the door, shooting Kara a dirty look as she leaves.
Lena stands and smoothes her skirt. “Kara. Did I forget an appointment?”
“No, I--” Kara points in the general direction of the rest of the building. “Who were they?”
Lena crosses to pour a drink at the bar. “Members of the board. Boring business talk, that’s all. Can I get you a drink?”
“I saw,” Kara blurts. “Uh, the news story. I mean, it’s not news like real news, but--”
“Which one?” Lena sits, sipping from her drink. “There are six, so far.”
“Six?” Kara whips out her phone, tapping away. “Lena, I’m so sorry.”
“‘Lena Luthor’s Latest Lover’,” Lena quotes. “Hideously tacky, tell me that’s not what they teach you in journalism school.”
“That’s not real journalism.” Kara tucks her phone away. “I could make a statement?”
“That won’t be necessary.” Lena drains her drink and sets it aside with a sigh. “If it’s not one thing…” She visibly gathers herself. “I could use a break. Lunch?”
Kara frowns. “Superfoods?”
Lena gathers her purse and pushes in her desk chair, heading for the door. “I’m thinking burgers.”
“I know just the place.”
Lena pauses, hand on the doorknob. “I don’t mean to sound so one percent, but do I need to change?”
Kara grins. “We’ll hit the drive thru. No stretch limo, though.”
Lena returns her smile, some of her tension easing. “I’ll have Charli pick something smaller.”
The photos of them at lunch spread online like wildfire.
“There’s real news,” Kara fumes, pacing in her apartment. “Real issues! But all anyone cares about are these--these lies!”
Winn makes a feeble grab for the bowl of chips held hostage in her hands. “I’m sure it’ll die down.”
“Shut up Winn,” Kara snaps, “I’m venting.”
Winn sighs. Leans back on the sofa. “Those damned tabloids,” he says, monotoned. “Let’s sick Supergirl on them.”
Kara points at him. “Yes! Good. Finally, some helpful brainstorming. Get on a computer and tell me who to punch.”
“Or,” Alex suggests, “you could stop being suspiciously close to the Luthor in charge of L-Corp.” She grimaces. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”
“That’s what so frustrating,” Kara says, turning on her heel and starting a full lap of her living room. “It’s not just gossip. Every article talks about her like she’s worse than her mother and her brother put together, and somehow using me. Using me for what? Every. Article.”
“You’ve read them?” Kara spins to pin Winn with a glare and he puts his hands up. “Is this a woman thing, because--” Alex looks at him and he stops. “I’m just here for chips. I’m quiet, I’m supporting.”
“Kara,” Alex says. “Come sit here.”
Kara flops into the couch. She crosses her arms and glares at the table. Her eyes, very faintly, start to glow.
Alex hits her over the head with a rolled up magazine. “No heat vision inside the house!” She drapes her arm over Kara’s shoulder. “C’mere.”
Kara leans into her side with a huff. “It’s not fair,” she mutters, muffled.
Alex hands Winn the chips. She pats Kara on the shoulder and kisses the top of her head. “I know.”
Kara comes into the kitchen the next morning, stifling a yawn, and Alex is shaking eggs from a pan onto a plate. “Hey,” she greets. “Are you coming into the DEO with me today?”
Kara sighs gustily. Alex moves the juice out of the line of fire. “I guess,” Kara mutters. “It’s not like I have a job to go to.”
“Or a girlfriend to visit,” Alex teases. When Kara’s face darkens she just passes her some juice. “Eat. You’ve got grumpy face.”
“I’ll show you grumpy face.”
Alex rolls her eyes. Shoves a bowl into Kara’s hands. “Hurry up. Some of us go to work on time.”
They walk out to Alex’s car together, bumping shoulders. “Coffee cake,” Kara says, swaying towards the coffee shop on the corner.
“No,” Alex replies, grabbing at her elbow.
Kara drags her a few steps down the street. “Double chocolate chip muffins.”
Alex relents. “Fine. But--” she pauses, suddenly, her stride faltering before smoothing out. “But I think I’ll order decaf.”
Kara’s face wrinkles. “What’s wrong,” she whispers, loudly. “You used the codeword.”
Alex sighs. She talks out of the very corner of her mouth. “The point of the codeword is that it’s secret.”
“Right,” Kara whispers again, easily at the volume of her normal speaking voice. She points ahead. “That alley?”
Alex grabs her arm, shoving it down. “Yes, completely average sister of mine.”
“Right,” Kara acknowledges. “Ooh, this is fun.”
They turn suddenly, cutting into a small throughway behind the row of shops and cafes, littered with garbage and cigarette butts. Alex pulls her gun and tries to push Kara behind her, which results in a flurry of swats and whispered ‘stop its’ before they both crouch behind a large rolling dumpster.
It’s barely another few seconds before two men enter the alleyway, moving slow and cautious and sharp eyed. Their suit jackets are unbuttoned and they hold their guns straight elbowed between the outside of their thighs and the wall.
Alex stands and levels her gun in the same motion. “Freeze! Law enforcement!”
Kara, who was supposed to creep around to the other side and change, suddenly stands. “Hey,” she says, “I know you.”
“Ms. Danvers,” one greets, holding out his free hand palm out. “Stay where you are. Do you know this woman?”
Alex sputters. “Excuse me? Do she know me? Who the fuck are you?”
The man takes a closer look at them. He holsters his gun. “You’re the sister.” He turns to the other guy. “She’s the sister, I told you so.”
The other guy, younger, grins. “I thought maybe you were stepping out on Ms. Luthor.”
“Oh,” Kara says, apologetically, “we’re not really dating.”
“Right,” the guy agrees. He winks and taps his nose.
“Kara,” Alex interrupts. She hands Kara two sets of handcuffs. “Up against the wall,” she snaps at the men.
“Alex,” Kara protests, and Alex holds up her hand to stop her.
“They’re following us. They’re going to the police station. I’m sure Ms. Luthor can arrange to have it sorted out.”
Kara shrugs at them. “You heard her.”
“Lena,” Kara says, barrelling past Jess and bursting into Lena’s office. She does a quick check to make sure they’re alone. “Why--”
“Kara Danvers to see you,” Jess interrupts, coming in behind her and slightly out of breath.
Lena is sitting at her desk. “I can see that.”
Jess gives Kara a dirty look. “It’s my job to announce people into your office. Just because some reporters are secretly Olympic sprinters--”
“It’s alright Jess,” Lena interrupts, not unkindly. “Consider Ms. Danvers to have full entrance privileges.”
Jess’s dirty look intensifies.
“I’m not a reporter anymore,” Kara informs her. When Jess turns to leave Kara sticks her tongue out at her back. It makes Lena laugh. Kara spins to pin her with a look. “Don’t laugh, I’m mad at you.”
Lena’s mirth turns faintly shifty. “Oh?”
“Don’t ‘oh’ me, Lena Luthor.”
“Uh oh,” Lena says, standing. “A full naming. Must be serious.”
“I’m dead serious,” Kara says, very seriously. “The utmost of seriousness.”
“The epitome,” Lena offers.
“Quintessence,” Kara counters.
Lena offers her a water bottle. “Apotheosis.”
“Don’t change the subject.” Kara drops her coat on the couch. “Why are there Luthor funded security guards following me around?”
Lena places the bottles aside. “Why haven’t my people heard from them in an hour?”
“Alex,” Kara explains. “They… might need bail.”
Lena presses the intercom on her desk. “Jess, tell Phil to go down to--” she looks at Kara.
“Sixteenth and Grand.”
“-the police station on Sixteenth and Grand and pick up his people.” She releases the button. “Is the matter solved?”
Kara almost sputters in disbelief. “No! Why were they following me?”
Lena hesitates. She sighs. “There’s been an… uptick in threats. Enough that my head of security brought it to me as a concern.”
“Oh.” Kara frowns down at the ground. “Oh. And because of the rumours…”
“Exactly. I took precautions.”
“Precautions is calling me. Precautions isn’t not telling me men are following me down the street.”
Lena sighs again. “I’d hoped you need never know they were there. I expect everything will die down after the conference. Until then, I’d feel more comfortable if--you’re not always going to be having coffee with Supergirl, if you understand my meaning.”
“No bodyguards,” Kara says, firmly.
“Fine,” Lena agrees, too easily. She taps at her phone.
“What are you doing?”
Lena turns to hide the screen. “Luthor business.”
Kara steps close, flailing at the phone with one hand while Lena fends her off. “Liar.”
Lena laughs, her palm against Kara’s heart as she pushes her away. “Kara!” She steps back, shoving her phone into a pocket. “I was texting your sister,” she admits. “I trust her to take proper action.”
“Proper action,” Kara repeats, high pitched, and it makes Lena laugh again.
“Can I take you to lunch? A mea culpa.”
“Meal-a culpa,” Kara says, and Lena’s eyeroll is interrupted by the buzz of her phone.
“Hm,” Lena says. She looks at the phone and sighs heavily, fingers tapping away. “I have a Google Alert on my name,” she admits. Pauses. “I have one on yours also.”
“I saw the headline.” Kara cranes around, trying to get a read on the screen, and Lena turns it so she can see. “I’m sure it’s just one--” At least fifteen results pop. “Oh.”
Lena opens a text message. “And that’s why I have PR people on payroll.” She stands, smoothing her skirt absently with one hand. “It’ll be handled by the end of the day--”
Lena stops. “Wait?”
“Wait,” Kara repeats. She adjusts her glasses with a nervous finger. “Maybe… don’t?”
Lena presses a knuckle between her eyebrows. “Kara, I know we’re doing the honesty thing today, but I would really appreciate some quicker clarity.”
“With the convention,” Kara says, starting slow and picking up speed as she works through the plan. “And I was already going to go with you? So why not--” she plucks the phone from Lena’s hand and flicks to the headline Lena Luthor Courts Ex-CatCo Reporter splashed over a picture of the two of them exiting Lena’s car after lunch. “--why not?”
“Why,” Lena sputters. She blushes faint pink. “Why not?”
“I still get all the benefits of an inside scoop. And nothing would make you look more recovered from an old ex than moving on with someone new.” Kara grins. “And afterwards, when the press has died down, we can quietly breakup. It can even be my fault!”
Lena looks distinctly uncomfortable. “No, that’s far too much to ask--”
“You’re not asking! I’m offering.” Lena doesn’t look particularly swayed. “Okay, how about---how about we extend the interview piece? I ask more questions, and if CatCo buys the story, you agree to a photoshoot to accompany. And a side puff piece about your fashion.”
“That’s more good press for me,” Lena points out, and Kara shrugs.
“Not when I take you to task for anti-alien sentiment and how it mirrors other forms of oppressive systems.”
Lena looks like she’s starting to thaw. “I…”
Kara takes her hand again, her knee bent and resting on the couch in an odd half kneel. “Lena,” she proposes. “This is good for you and good for me. And they already think it’s true, denying it will just lend legitimacy to the rumours. Let’s take charge of it, use it to our advantage, and laugh about it later.”
Lena looks at her for a long moment. Her smile starts slow and ends big, soft, and her eyes crinkled up. “Alright, Danvers. You got me.”
“So,” Kara says, avoiding her sister’s incredulous look as she rifles through her button blouses. “Yeah. That’s… what I’ll be doing.”
“That’s,” Alex echoes, Judgement Palpable, newspaper headline confirming Kara and Lena’s relationship in one hand, “what you’ll be doing.”
“This weekend,” Kara clarifies.
“This weekend,” Alex parrots.
Kara looks at her. She gathers up an armful of carefully selected clothing and edges by, on her way to the kitchen table where her suitcase is lying open and unzipped. “I think you need processing time.”
Her comment spurs Alex into motion, coming hotly onto Kara’s heels. “Don’t say that to me, you know I hate it when mom tells me that.”
“Mm,” Kara says, neutral. She starts to undo the hangers, placing them aside to make neat, careful folds.
Alex glares. She pitches her voice into the living room. “Did you know about this?”
“I don’t know anything,” Maggie calls from the sofa. “Don’t involve me, it sounds fraudulent.”
“It’s not,” Kara protests. “I mean. Maybe emotionally. But fully legal!”
“You told me take a weekend off. I’m just following your wise advice. I thought you wanted me to listen to you more.”
Alex’s scoff increases in volume and conviction. The doorbell rings. “Hey--” Alex says, as Kara goes to answer it, “this topic of discussion is not over.”
“Yay,” Kara shoots back, muttered. She swings the door open and her frustration melts away. “Lena.”
“Hello. I hope I’m not--oh.” Lena must spot Alex over her shoulder. “I am interrupting.”
“No,” Kara says, opening the door wider and stepping aside. “Please.”
Lena edges in, throwing Alex a pleasant if faintly pasted on smile. “I meant to speak to Kara about--” she flounders, clearly unsure how much Alex knows.
Kara ends her misery. “I told her.”
“Oh.” Lena pinks, very slightly, and her shoulders draw up like she’s bracing herself. “I imagine it’s a shock.”
“I told her all of it,” Kara clarifies.
Lena’s eyes go wide. “What?”
“Alex,” Maggie calls. “Come watch sports like a real lesbian.”
“Hm,” is all Alex has to add. She goes to join Maggie on the couch.
“I’m packing,” Kara says, headed back to her closet with Lena in tow. “Did… something change?”
“I was coming to ask you the same,” Lena says, mild with a faint edge of trepidation. “I--I just want to say that if you want to back out, at any point--”
“I don’t,” Kara says, firm. “I’ve thought about it, and I want to do this. I want to help you.”
Lena’s gaze slides past hers, resisting eye contact. “Our friendship isn’t contingent on favors. I felt it needed saying.”
Kara touches her shoulder. “I know.”
“And… I would prefer it if no one else knew the particulars.”
Kara winces. “Maggie knows.”
“Alex’s girlfriend,” Kara explains helpfully.
“The officer who arrested me.”
Kara winces again. “Detective. But she doesn’t mind this. Maggie, you don’t mind, right?”
There’s a faint hush of whisper arguing from the sofa. Maggie clears her throat awkwardly. “I kind of mind you’re all talking over the game.”
Lena looks a little pale. “I would really like to keep the number of people who know about this as low as possible.”
“No one else will know,” Kara assures her. Her hearing picks up Maggie’s mumble, too low for Lena to make out. Should we tell her J’onn can read minds?
Alex scoffs again.
“I hope you don’t mind the stretch limo in this instance.” Lena is leaning against the car, one foot up and her sunglasses tilted into the sun. Long coat with the collar popped and her hair pulled back and Kara thinks it’s a crime she’s never had a fashion shoot with CatCo.
“I know I should,” she admits, passing her bag off to the chauffeur. “Because of the environment and fossil fuels.”
“But I smell strawberries.”
Lena grins. “Only the best for you.”
Don’t have too much fun and keep your phone on Alex texts her, and Kara smiles before shooting off a response that’s mostly emoticons before tucking her phone away. “How long is the drive?”
“Three to five hours, depending on traffic.” Lena is frowning at her tablet, clearly distracted, and Kara settles back into the comfortable cushions and helps herself to the snack section of the minibar.
She comes out of a light nap at Lena’s frustrated noise. Rubs at her eye under her glasses and yawns. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” Lena sighs. “I’m sorry I woke you.”
Kara sits up, stretching. “No, tell me.”
“L-Corp is a massive sponsor,” Lena says, tossing her tablet aside. “As well as a featured contributor. I’m expected to give a speech.”
“And you’re just now writing it? That seems unlike you.”
Lena waves a hand. “The bare bones was prepared by a writer. But with the press around my mother… there’s an expectation. And how I frame it will affect the company.”
Kara nudges Lena’s foot with her own. “And the cranky board men?”
“All board men are cranky. If they ever weren’t complaining in pseudo-sexist tones, I’d have to assume I’d lost control of the company and they were cleaning me out to the Caymans.” Lena picks up her tablet again, reluctant. “But I’m sure the dramatics of the Fortune 500 aren’t interesting.”
“I’m interested in you. In--in your life. You know what I mean.”
Lena takes a deep breath. “No, I--perhaps when I have a draft?”
“I look forward to it.” Kara lifts her arms up slightly and waggles her hands. “Pom poms,” she explains, to Lena’s questioning look. “Because I’m Lena Luthor’s Number One Fan.”
Lena exhales. She picks up her tablet. Her stylus taps away. It’s almost five minutes before she speaks again. “Thank you.”
“Anytime,” Kara promises. “Always.”
The hotel lobby is the fanciest place Kara has ever been, and she’s met the president. “Wow.”
A woman in a pantsuit rushes towards them, heels clicking on marble floor. “Ms. Luthor!” The bellboys with their bags pass them on their way to the service elevators. Kara had helped lift the bags out of the back, to the horror of Lena’s chauffeur, and when she handed the largest case to the bellhop he’d almost dropped it in surprise at how much it weighed, tricked by how easily she’d hefted it, one handed.
(“I booked a suite,” Lena murmured to her as they approached the automatic glass doors. “Two beds.”
Kara frowned. “If this is going to work,” she started, but Lena shook her head.
“I own the hotel. And my people know how to keep quiet.”)
Now a woman with a gold nametag and a frantically appeasing expression is descending upon them from the front desk. “We are so sorry for the mixup,” she’s saying in a rush. “We have no idea how such an error could have occurred, especially with your personal booking.”
Lena and Kara exchange a look. “What error?”
“Your reservation was entered into the system as a two bedroom suite. But we’ve caught the error now, and please enjoy the completely complimentary minibar.”
Kara tries to imagine a world in which Lena Luthor would notice a minibar bill.
“It’s alright,” Lena is saying, quick and reassuring. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it, uh. Nancy.”
“And of course, when Ms. Danvers arrives--”
“Hi,” Kara interjects. “Kara Danvers here.”
Nancy blinks. “I--oh. Of course.”
“Why?” Kara looks down at her outfit. “Do I… not look like a Kara Danvers?”
“No,” Nancy rushes to assure her, darting nervous glances at Lena. “No, of course. Of course you are. Of course. I just, uh. I didn’t realize.”
Kara steps up to Lena and links their arms and Lena--she doesn’t flinch, but. There’s a sudden stillness to her, enough that Kara falters. Nancy carefully looks elsewhere while she tells them to call the front desk if they need anything.
“Wait,” Kara whispers, as they enter their suite and the bellhop moves to leave. “Lena, tip him.”
Lena is engrossed in her phone. “My account always pays full amount due at checkout plus thirty percent.”
“Lena. Tip the man.”
Lena looks up. “I… don’t carry cash.”
“Hold on,” Kara tells him as he hovers in the hallway. She fumbles through her purse for a few crumpled bills. “Sorry it’s not much.” The door makes a heavy noise when it shuts; Kara leans a little bit of her weight against it to feel the strength of the steel frame.
The room is massive. Kara wanders through, checking out the bathroom with a clawfoot tub and a rainfall shower, the separate bedroom, a living room, a kitchen nook; each room is equipped with a large flatscreen television. “So this is how the other half lives.”
Lena looks up from a chair by the huge window, complete with a cushioned seat and a view of the skyline. “My mother would call this unbearably tacky. But it is very expensive, yes.” She watches Kara stand before the window. “Are you settled in?”
“I’m hungry,” Kara sidesteps. “Is there anything you have to do in preparation? I could go pick something up.”
“Jess is arranging for a pull out bed to be sent up, discreetly. Should I tell her to hang your clothes in the closet as well?”
Kara sighs. She drags her bag over to the closet and drags the zipper free, flopping the case open. “I don’t think it’s necessary.”
“It is somewhat out of her realm of responsibilities,” Lena agrees.
“No, I meant.” Kara smoothes the sleeves of a blouse on a hanger. “The extra bed. I don’t think we need it.”
She can’t see Lena from where she’s standing so she pokes her head around. Lena is paused, head slightly tilted. “Oh?”
“If you’re uncomfortable,” Kara amends, “then we should. But I don’t have a problem sharing. I never had sleepovers as a kid. Except Alex.”
“Really?” Lena puts her things aside and crosses the room to help Kara hang up her clothes. “For some reason I picture you as a social butterfly.”
“Not at all. I--it was difficult, when I was first adopted. And Eliza was protective.” There must be something in her tone, because they continue in an odd, almost awkward silence.
They finish hanging up Kara’s clothes, one after the other, and Kara pushes the suitcase into the closet, out of the way. Lena closes the wardrobe door, pauses. “I think it’s your warmth,” she says. “Why I assumed you’d have had many friends in school. Your compassion, your generosity, the depth of your character.”
Kara’s breath catches. “Lena--”
“I think you’re right. I’ll tell Jess not to bring up the bed.” Lena steps back and tries for a calm smile. “There’s a Thai restaurant down the block--I can have the driver take you?”
“No,” Kara says, letting the moment pass. “I’ll walk.”
Alex had left the window unlocked for her. “You shouldn’t,” Kara tells her, sliding the wooden frame shut after she’s climbed in.
Alex leans out from the kitchen. “Well you shouldn't be seen climbing through my window.”
“I was very speedy,” Kara informs her.
Alex rolls her eyes and pops her beer open. “And where does Lena think you are?”
“Getting food. Which I am. After I check in with my sister.” Kara makes grabby hands at the beer bottle and Alex curls around it protectively.
“I’m off duty for the day, thanks.”
“And… how is everything?”
Alex watches her walk around the apartment with calculated nonchalance. “Everything is fine.”
“Good… that’s. That’s good. So no new nasties? No aliens? Cadmus? Threats against the President?”
“Do you want there to be?”
Kara sighs. She flops down onto Alex’s couch. “Maybe. I don’t know. Something small maybe? Something quick?”
Alex nudges at her ankle with the bottle. “Feeling antsy already?”
Kara sits up, abrupt. “Do you remember what it was like? When I first--came here.”
“Yeah. Mom said I was getting a new sister. I’d asked for a dog.”
Kara glares. “I’m serious.”
“So am I. What’s this actually about?”
Kara sighs again. She faceplants into the seat cushion. Alex presses the cold glass against the back of Kara’s neck, making her yelp. “I could boil that with my eyeballs, you know.”
Alex wipes her fingers across the bottle and flicks the condensation into Kara’s face. “Go back to your girlfriend.”
“Fine,” Kara mutters. “See if I come back when interdimensional beings attack. Again.”
She goes to Thailand. Gets three green curries because Lena likes those best. Uses Alex’s credit card, because she is a little sister after all.
Kara waits until they’ve both eaten. Then she chickens out and goes to shower. When she emerges in her pajamas Lena is at work again.
“So,” Kara says, flexing her hands together. “I have an idea.”
Lena doesn’t look up from her tablet. “Oh?”
At Kara’s long pause, Lena stops tapping at her screen. “What is it?”
Kara sighs. “I think we should practice.”
Lena blinks. “Practice?”
“Just--to look more natural. We should practice.”
Lena blinks some more. “Practice…. Kissing?”
Kara flushes. “No! I mean, I thought maybe. Touching? Or. Holding hands? I just think we both know how silly it would be to fail now just because we look awkward around each other.”
“Is it so obvious?” Lena sets her tablet aside and turns to face Kara full on, folding her hands in her lap, one leg crossed over the other. Her face has smoothed out.
It’s Kara’s turn to blink, confused. “Is what so obvious?”
“Well, you’ve met my mother. It’s hardly a stretch to deduce we’re not a touchy family.”
Kara leans her hip on the table. “That’s not what I meant.”
“No.” Kara’s tone is firm and after a moment Lena softens.
“I suppose my reaction is proof enough we should.” She drums her fingers on the tabletop. “So--”
“You’re not cold,” Kara says, gently cutting her off. “I’ve met your mother and I know cold. And it’s not you.”
Lena stands, an awkward wobble betraying her nerves before she locks it down. Her lip doesn't tremble and her eyes don’t flutter but she slides her hand into Kara’s, linking their fingers, and the mask over her face melts away. “I was never very affectionate,” she admits. “Not even with partners or friends.”
“What about Lex?”
“Not a hugger,” Lena says, dry, and they grin at each other.
“Alex isn’t really either,” Kara says, tugging Lena a little bit closer. “I mean, not naturally. And she’s not really a talker? I mean she thinks she isn’t. She thinks she isn’t good with words, but…” she leans her cheek on Lena’s shoulder, tentative and then a little bit more when Lena doesn’t tense up or pull away.
Lena curls her other hand around Kara’s waist, their feet bumping together as they adjust and shift. “But?”
“After my parents,” Kara says, slow. “It was--I had trouble being outside. It was very loud. Overwhelming.”
Lena tightens her grip, just a little bit. Kara smiles at her, thumb brushing over her wrist.
“And after a while, Alex worked out this system. She’d hold my hand and then press each finger in, one at a time.” Kara demonstrates on Lena, thumb to pinky and back again. “And I would concentrate on just that, the pressure and her breathing. And everything would be quieter.”
Lena’s eyes go distant, like she’s remembering something. She smiles, soft. “I think I can understand that.”
“Little touches,” Kara says. “And arms over shoulders. Hugs and holding hands. It means a lot, you know?”
Lena looks at Kara’s hand in hers. Presses each finger down, one by one. “I think so.”
“Okay,” Kara says, flopping onto the bed with a sigh and wriggling her bare toes. “Interview time?”
Lena is still sitting on the table. She looks a little shellshocked. “But you had dinner,” she says, faintly bewildered. “I was there.”
Kara pats her belly. “Room service is my favourite. Is there anything better than a good dessert? ”
“Or two,” Lena adds, dry. “Or three.” She stands, balancing to remove her own shoes. She moves to sit in the chair by the window.
“Wait,” Kara says, struck by an idea. “You should change first.”
Lena looks down at herself. “Change?”
“Pajamas,” Kara says, more sure of her idea as she spells it out. “It’ll make it more comfortable?”
Lena frowns, very faint. “I. I didn’t bring any.”
Kara stares. “You didn’t bring any pajamas.”
“I thought we were going to have separate joined rooms,” Lena says. “So I just brought what I normally sleep in.”
“Oh. Well wear that, then.”
“I don’t think so,” Lena says, very quickly.
Kara wrinkles her nose. “Well… I mean, what’s the plan for when it’s time to go to bed?”
“I was going to text Jess to pick something up from the store in the lobby.”
Kara scoffs. She crosses to her side of the dresser and rummages for a moment. “Here. You’re lucky my mother always taught me to overpack.”
“Your birth mother?”
Kara freezes, her fingers buried in soft fabrics. “No.” She turns, brightening her expression. “Sweats!”
Lena regards them as one might a snake in the gutter. “Sweats?”
“I know they’re not designer, but they’re broken in already, and honestly that’s better.” Kara holds them out. “Trust me.”
Lena looks at her. She visibly softens. “Alright.” She goes into the bathroom to change, and Kara does as well, quick tugging the t shirt over her head and hopping on one foot to get into her own pajama bottoms, soft and just on the good edge of ‘almost threadbare’. There’s a hole in the knee and she scratches idly as she waits, the water running in the bathroom.
When Lena emerges she’s barefoot. Kara’s sweats hang low on her hips even rolled up an inch or so the way they are, and without her heels she’s shorter than Kara is used to seeing her. Her face has been washed clean of makeup, softer and younger, and her hair is loose, slightly poofed out from wearing it up all day. Her shoulders are squared up and tense under her thin tank.
Kara produces a small square of chocolate from her bag against the wall. “Ta-daa!”
Lena blinks. “You have room for more dessert?”
“There’s always room for dessert.” Kara sits on the bed, patting the mattress across from her. “Like a sleepover, c’mon.”
“I don’t often find myself recorded at sleepovers.”
Kara hesitates, fingers curled around the tape recorder. “Alright.” She places it aside, digging in the nightstand for the complimentary pad of paper and cheap plastic pen. “We’ll do it the old fashioned way.”
The mattress dips, Lena coming to sit with her back against the headboard and her legs folded up under her. She scritches her nails on the bedspread, awkward. Kara scoots back to sit shoulder by shoulder, bumping her companionably. “I’m not going to ask about any deep dark secrets,” she says, reassuring.
“Well, not at first.”
Lena takes a breath. She sneaks the chocolate from Kara’s hand and nibbles at a corner. “Okay Danvers, hit me.”
Kara taps her teeth against the pen cap. “Who inspires you?”
“My father,” Lena responds, easily. “I hope to remake L-Corp to be as strong, and as respected, as it was when he was alive. He was a brilliant businessman, and a leader in establishing philanthropy departments in large corporations.” She opens her mouth to add more and stops. “You’re not writing any of this down.”
Kara frowns. “It just feels… automatic. I want people to see you. The you I know.”
Lena is taken aback. She looks down. “Well aren’t you just a real reporter.”
“Let’s start over,” Kara offers. “Who inspires you?”
Lena is silent, frowning.
“Don’t overthink it,” Kara coaxes. “I won’t publish anything you don’t want me to, so just answer. Who inspires you, Lena Luthor?”
“I do,” Lena says. She blinks, rapid, then meets Kara’s gaze, serene. “I inspire myself. That… sounds conceited, but--who is ever truly going to be there for you, always? Be there for yourself. Be what you need.”
Kara’s hand moves across the pad. “That sounds lonely.”
“Isn’t that the human experience?”
“Maybe.” Kara flips the page. “Wait, no. I don’t think so.”
“No,” Kara says, slow. And then more firm, certain. “No.”
Lena watches her, but Kara doesn’t say anything more. Lena smiles, slow and glowing. “Well then. You inspire me, I think.”
Kara flushes. “Not Supergirl?”
“No, not Supergirl. Didn’t I tell you Kara Danvers is my hero?”
“Once or twice.” They grin at each other. Lena breaks the chocolate in half and they eat it silent, shoulders leaned against each other.
Kara wakes up slow. She curls her toes against the trapped heat under the duvet and stretches out, the bed big enough to enjoy the slide of her skin on the sheets without hanging off the edge of the mattress. Lena is just barely touching her, her back to Kara’s side. Kara can feel the soft movement of her chest moving as she breathes, the warmth from her body. The sheet is lying wrinkled across the dip of her hips and her hair is mussed. She’s still wearing Kara’s sweatpants; her top is rucked up around her ribs.
Kara squints at the clock. She lays her head back on the pillow and drowses, lazy and indulgent and resisting the urge to lay her palm against the slope of Lena’s profile, feel the soft prickle of peach fuzz on Lena’s bare skin.
The alarm buzzes, cutting through the quiet, and Kara watches Lena wake up, the first flutter of her eyelashes, the groan, and she flails a hand out at her phone charging on the nightstand until the sound stops. Lena rubs the sleep from her eyes and sighs, arching up before rolling over to find Kara awake and watching.
“Good morning,” she murmurs, and her voice is rough and low and graveled. It rumbles across the mattress and curls into Kara’s ears.
Kara swallows. “Good morning.”
“Do you want the shower first?”
“No, go ahead.”
“Mm,” Lena acknowledges. She slips out from beneath the covers--Kara catches a glimpse of her hip and the top of a pale thigh before she tugs her sweats back up. Her barefeet make noise on the carpet only Kara can hear and after a few moments the shower turns on.
Kara lies on her back and looks at the ceiling. The couple above them is still sleeping--the man snores. She can hear the breakfast Lena arranged to have brought up rattling down the hall towards them from the elevator. In the shower, Lena is humming a tune Kara doesn’t know, low and gentle and soothing.
“You don’t have to stick with me,” Lena tells her in the elevator. “If there’s something that looks more interesting. We can meet back up for lunch.”
Kara lifts her copy of the schedule. “I’ve marked where I want to go each hour.”
They arrange a rendezvous point and time.
Kara checks her blog. The hit counter isn’t uplifting, but it isn’t dismal either. She checks the charge on her tablet and runs her finger across the rubber tip of her stylus, nervous. Takes a deep breath and walks into the auditorium.
She writes up a rough draft in line for the bathroom and emails it to Winn to be proofread.
“The hotel has a very good restaurant,” Lena says. “But if you’d rather go somewhere else?”
“No,” Kara assures her. “I don’t want to be late for the ethics in advanced robotics.”
The restaurant is swamped with convention guests, but they’re seated immediately. “A Luthor perk,” Lena says, when she catches Kara’s look back towards the crowd of waiting people.
“They don’t get upset?”
“It’s good to be king,” someone says, cutting in. Kara looks up from the table--a woman in a dress that looks like it cost more than Kara’s security deposit. Immaculate makeup and perfect complexion and the effortless posture of the self-confident.
Lena’s face has gone a bit frozen. She stands, setting her napkin aside and offering her hand. “Ciana.”
“I’m not going to shake your hand, it’s trite. And you,” she continues, switching her gaze to Kara, “you must be Kara Danvers.”
“I am,” Kara agrees, half-rising to her feet. “It’s… nice to meet you?”
“Unlikely,” Ciana comments. “I’m on my way out but--we should do brunch, yes?” Her accent is faint and light and classy enough Kara is almost resentful.
“Have Sofia text Jess,” Lena says, sidestepping the offer. She watches Ciana leave with an odd expression.
“So... that’s. Her?”
Lena’s attention snaps back. She sits again. “Yes, that was her.”
Kara opens the menu. Lena raises her hand very slightly, makes eye contact with a member of the staff, and has a glass of wine in her hand less than ten seconds later. A camera flashes from outside the window.
“You know,” Kara says, purposefully light, “if you weren’t so committed to the modern aesthetic and natural light, you might have less of an issue with the paparazzi. A few curtains go a long way.”
“It’s a convention. Half the point is to be seen looking.”
“I feel bad,” Kara says, “having a good time when this is all work for you.”
“It’s all work for you, too. And I know I’ve spent some times complaining, but. I do enjoy my job.”
“Do you enjoy the speeches?”
Lena grimaces. “Not as much as other things. But make no mistake--I like being the boss. It just comes with many complex and layered responsibilities.
“Heavy lies the crown,” Kara offers, and Lena relaxes a little bit. She smiles and Kara steals the wine out of Lena’s hand to make her laugh, head tipped back. It’s the photo the blogs run with, Kara leaned in close and conspiratorial, Lena’s eyes crinkled up and her hand on Kara’s wrist.
Kara is desperately making a list of things she needs to google in order to write a coherent article about Apple’s new marketing campaign and Moseley Technologies’s cutting edge hybrid engines when she’s distracted by her Google Alerts.
She texts Lena immediately. do you need me?
It’s two full minutes before Lena responds. No, stay.
Kara’s fingers tap away, her notes ignored in her lap. Are you sure
Lena doesn’t respond and Kara shoves her things back into her bag. “Sorry,” she whispers, edging her way back down the aisle. “So sorry, excuse me, sorry.” She breaks free of the last seat and the last in a long line of disapproving looks and makes for the elevator. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Filters the world away until she can hear it, thumping quick and agitated but strong and steady.
Lena is on her phone. She looks up when Kara enters their suite and tosses her a quick apologetic smile. “--understand that,” she’s saying. “But--” She moves her phone away from her mouth and taps the screen. “Hi,” she says to Kara. “Did you text? I’m sorry, it’s all very… irritating. Trust Lex to know exactly what to do to make my life difficult.”
“I’m surprised he was able to speak to the world at large, considering… his many many life sentences.”
Lena snorts. “Yes, basic rights are incredibly inconveniently awarded to prisoners---at least those with influence and money.” She sighs. “Still. A full statement trying to undercut my authority to the board, my competence to the entire company. Trying to hurt the empire he built.” Her hand rises in a gesture before calms herself. “And a reference to Rome, because if he does one thing, it is staying on brand.”
“Do you think,” Kara asks, carefully, “that your mother might have been helping him?”
Lena’s eyes are dark and flat. “I think she is still.” She turns around and clears her throat and when she speaks again it’s pointedly not to Kara. “Yes, I’m ready to address the board. Put me on speaker.”
“I had Jess pick something up,” Lena says. She rummages in a bag by the door. “It was… a long day.”
“Yes,” Kara agrees. She hesitates. “We don’t have to--if you don’t want?”
Lena pauses. She shows Kara the contents of the bag: wine with a dark label, two glasses still in the packaging, a box of expensive looking chocolate. “I thought we could make it a proper girls night. Or as proper as I’ve gleaned from the media.”
“As an ex-official employee of a mega-media conglomerate mostly targeted at women, I can confirm your hypothesis.” Kara takes the glasses and strips the packaging away. Blows into the glass and puts them on the table.
Lena frowns. “Rinse, please.”
Kara sighs. She goes into the kitchen area and rinses them under the faucet before returning. “Clean enough?”
“Germs are real,” Lena says, mild. She pours them both a healthy amount before setting the bottle aside and curling her fingers around the stem. Sighs after the first sip, pleased.
Kara drinks a little less gracefully, then makes eyes at the chocolate until Lena unwraps one of the bars and passes it over. “Mmm,” she says, exaggerated. “Jess is my favorite.”
“Quite so,” Lena agrees. She nibbles at a square of chocolate. “The window seat?”
They settle themselves down and Kara drags the small table over. “So. I picked an easy one for tonight.”
Lena arches an eyebrow. “A low-ball from Kara Danvers?”
Kara grins. “What makes L-Corp such a success under your leadership?”
Lena stares. Then she breaks into a smile. “Who gave you that dreck?”
Kara produces her phone from her pocket. “Jess had your PR department send a list of pre-screened questions. She re-forwards it to me every four hours.”
Lena hides a smile with another sip. “She’s a very good personal assistant.”
“But I like this one.” Kara sets her glass aside and takes up her pad and pen. “You’re young, you’re incredibly successful, and your people are loyal to you. That means something.”
“Lex’s people were loyal to him too.”
Kara shakes her head. “You’re not Lex.”
Lena is quiet for a moment. “Rebranding. A focus back into research and development. We’ve made our billions and we have the capital to fund projects that can change the world. Improve the quality of life in multiple spheres. Be a leader in community engagement and philanthropy.”
Kara hums, her pen scratching away. “And why not a brand change completely?”
“I’m a Luthor too,” Lena reminds her, draining her glass. “Lex doesn’t get to take everything.”
Kara is walking in the exhibition hall when it catches her eye. It’s a flash of familiarity, the reminder of panic rising in her throat and her heart pounding when Lena had extended it to her and told her to give it a try. She crosses the aisle and approaches the prototype booth. “Excuse me, what’s that?”
It’s exactly what she thinks it is.
She finds Lena in the backrow of a paneled talk. Lena smiles when she sits down beside her. “Kelsey is doing well,” she says, gesturing up at the female representative from L-Corp. “I was worried she’d be too technical.”
“You sold the alien detection machine to Moseley?”
Lena is still watching the talk. “Yes. It was too controversial to release, but selling the patent netted enough to fund six smaller projects, as well as profit.”
Kara stands. “We need to go. Can we go? We need to talk. Not here.”
Lena waits until the elevator has closed. “I sense you’re upset with me.”
“That machine,” Kara says, “is vile. It should be illegal. And you just. Sold it. To make a profit.”
Lena looks more puzzled than hurt. “Well, yes. Did you forget what L-Corp is?”
“I can’t believe--” Kara is too angry for this. The elevator is too slow and she can’t be Supergirl in this city and there’s nothing to punch. “It’s exactly what Lex would have done,” she says, viciously flat.
Lena’s breath catches. Her tone flattens out and chills. “I see.”
The elevator dings, the doors sliding open.
“I don’t have a question tonight,” Kara says, as soon as their door shuts. She heads straight for the bathroom and runs the shower while she sits on the closed toilet lid and takes deep breaths. Listens to Lena pace around for a moment before she settles on the sofa, taking deep breaths of her own. Kara matches their breathing.
She drags herself into a shower and stays under the hot spray for a long time. Lets herself huddle in one of the big fluffy towels before dressing in her own pair of sweats and worn-soft long sleeve tee. She steels herself, one hand on the knob.
Lena looks up when she enters the living room area. “Kara.”
“Lena.” Kara goes to the desk. Boots up her laptop and starts typing up her notes.
Lena sighs. “Are we going to carry on the Luthor tradition of refusing to talk about why we’re upset with each other?”
They’re quiet for a time, the light clatter of Kara’s keyboard and Lena crossing and recrossing her legs, the slide of her stylus on her touchscreen. Her back stiffens when Lena stands, stepping out of her heels. Walks across the room and lays her hand on Kara’s elbow. “Kara.”
Kara’s hands still but she refuses to look. “Yes?”
Lena hesitates. “Alright,” she murmurs. She goes back to her shoes. “I’ll take a walk, let you have space.”
Kara stands, abrupt. “There’s so much freedom here,” she says, the words bubbling free. “I mean here--in this country here. Humanity. The human… right to freedom.” She takes a stabilizing breath. “There’s so much potential here. For me, for you. But the aliens I’ve met, the people--”
“All the problems on this planet, and the limited resources we already have--”
Kara raises her arms up in a half-flail of exasperation. “That’s shitty. That’s terrible logic and you’re above using it. It’s an excuse to turn away and be callous and cold. And I know it’s not you.”
Lena looks away. “If… if they would come forward, and live as they are, and we knew what each was capable of, I think the trust would go a long way. You can’t fault people for being scared.”
“That’s their choice to make. And--and you could walk into a store and buy a gun! And kill just as many people as someone who came to earth with nowhere else to go.”
“I don’t want to argue with you. Can we agree to disagree?” Lena rubs at her temple. She looks tired and a little worn down and her mascara is starting to loose its sharpness.
“No,” Kara says, quietly. “That’s for pizza toppings and sugar in your coffee.”
There’s a long dragging silence.
“I’m going to lie down,” Kara says. She hesitates just before she closes the bedroom door. “Think about it?”
Kara feels the bed dip, the whisper of Lena sliding in beside her, the shift of the blanket. Kara turns on her back. “If you knew one, really knew, I think--”
“I think if you have to know someone to consider them a person you are no kind of person at all.”
Kara sighs at the ceiling. “You probably know more aliens in National City than you think.”
Lena is silent for a long time, turned away from Kara on her side, and Kara sighs again before rolling away, their backs to each other. She can just barely feel the heat of Lena under the covers.
“You’re right,” Lena murmurs, just above a whisper, right when Kara is drifting off. “I am too much a Luthor, perhaps.”
Kara wakes up stretched out. She lets herself doze for a moment, floating somewhere between sleep and alertness, enjoying the whisper of soft sheets and the warmth caught and held under the blankets against her body. The pillow is fluffy under her cheek and her muscles sing when she stretches.
“Good morning,” she hears, and opens her eyes.
Lena is coming out of the bathroom, dressed but barefoot, putting her earrings in. “Morning,” Kara says, her voice low and sleep rough. “What’s on the schedule?”
“There’s somewhere I like to go, when I’m town. I thought maybe--you’d like some distance.”
Kara sits up. She shoves her hair out of her face with a grumble. “No. I think you’ll come around.”
Lena arches an eyebrow. “Do you now.”
“I do. I believe in you.”
Lena is quiet for a moment. “You’d think hearing that would get old.”
Kara crosses to the dresser, picking out her clothes for the day. “It doesn’t, trust me---I mean, Supergirl tells me the same. More of the human experience,” she adds, because the atmosphere feels stiff and strange and she wants to soften it.
“Hmm,” Lena says, neutral. Kara slides past her into the bathroom, letting her think. When she emerges, showered and and dressed and the strong taste of mint in her mouth, Lena is waiting, shoes on.
“Maybe you’d like to come with me,” she offers. She smiles, a touch nervous. “If you’d like.”
“I would,” Kara says, and the relief breaks over Lena’s face, chased by quiet, pleased acceptance. “The convention won’t miss you?”
Lena takes her to a church. Well, the driver takes them to a church. It’s old fashioned, almost out of place in the neighborhood that’s grown up around it. Stone and brick and chipped away in the sense that you can see the weight of it, the years and the sense of how much it took to build it up and stay.
It’s quiet inside, after the heavy press of the doors and the hollow sounds of their footsteps up between the pews. The sun slants through the stained glass and casts brightly colored shadows on the high altar. The wind whistles and the rafters creak and the dust swirls before it settles on the cross lifted high on the wall. Lena touches the edge of one of the small basins against the wall but doesn’t dip her fingers inside. She crosses the aisle to the wooden table of candles, some burned down to nothing and one still flickering.
Kara stands next to her. “I didn’t know you were religious.”
“I’m not. My mother was, though.”
“Not Lilian, I assume.”
Lena cracks a smile. “No. Although the fanatic fervor does suit her, doesn’t it?” She opens one of the matchbooks on the table and slides a nail under a single match. “I’m not religious, but I like to think she would appreciate this.” The match flares when she strikes it; the smoke wisps up and Kara can smell it, the sulfur and the wood burning. She touches it to the wick and exhales, soft but enough to flutter the tiny flame. “I can never think of anything to say. I don’t really believe she can hear me.” She offers Kara the matchbook. “Would you like to light one?”
Kara tries to count. Every person she ever met or knew or saw or heard of until the age of thirteen years. Every person she met and every person they met and everyone who lived before. Every person her parents spoke of and every photo and video she ever saw. They’d run out of candles before she ever ran out of names. “One, I think.”
She lights it, watches the flame flicker. If she touched it she’d feel the heat like a whisper and the fine hairs on her hand wouldn’t burn.
Lena touches her elbow. “For your parents?”
“My aunt.” Kara darts her fingers through the yellowest part of the candle flame. “For the person she was.” And, Kara thinks, the people she died for.
“What was she like?”
Kara thinks. She can hear--she can hear everything. But she filters it layer by layer, until it’s just the traffic going by outside and Lena’s breathing. “Angry, I think. But I miss her. I loved her.”
“And she loved you.”
Kara swallows. “Yes, she did.” Lena’s palm slides down Kara’s forearm and they hold hands, watching the candles.
They have dinner at a quiet Korean restaurant. Kara lets Lena order and Lena orders enough food the waiter politely inquires if someone else is going to be joining them. She has time to work her way slowly through the entire small pot of tea before Kara sits back with a sigh, hands on her belly. “Excellent,” she declares.
Lena pours her a cup of tea. “And am I forgiven?”
Kara’s good mood fades. She picks at the edges of a napkin. “It’s never been a secret, how I feel. It’s why Snapper fired me.”
“I remember; your first article was a condemnation of L-Corp generally, and me, specifically.”
“More so the other way around.”
“I can’t take back the sale.”
Kara stabs at an errant vegetable left on her plate. “I know that.”
“But the design calls for several difficult to obtain materials. Ones that L-Corp may control access to.”
“Oh good, monopolies. Another pillar of corporate ethics.”
Lena taps her fingernails on the table. “It won’t eliminate the technology. Nothing can halt progress. But it will make it so it’s not possible for them to be available to the average consumer. And a delay long enough that legislation can be proposed.”
Kara looks up. “And what about your personal opinions?”
“I… I’m working on it.” Lena tilts her head. Her smile is slow and Kara matches it almost reluctantly before she gives in. “I value your perspective.”
Kara reaches across the table and takes Lena’s hand. “Knowing you has made me a better person. Also, I like being smarter than you in this aspect.”
Lena laughs. “You are smarter than me in so many aspects.” She looks unduly relieved for such a simple making up and Kara searches her expression.
“Friends argue,” she says, light and like it’s entirely hypothetical. “Doesn’t mean the friendship matters any less.”
Kara waits until Lena is asleep, eyelids flickering and breathing deep. She creeps out of bed and onto the small balcony. Stretches her fingers to the sky, up on her tiptoes, then launches.
Alex greets her with a cheese pastry and a steaming mug, half yawning while Kara shuts the window behind her. Kara reaches for both items and Alex smacks her hand. “No,” she says, pulling the mug of hot chocolate away, “that’s mine.”
Kara crams half the pastry in her mouth and talks with her mouth full. “What’s up here at home?”
“How’s it going?”
Kara swallows. “Fine. Lena is... “ she coughs. “And the conference is really cool. My first post will go up later tonight.”
“Hm. And Lena?”
“Lena is great,” Kara says, firm. “And… I think I’m really going to have something to write about at the end of this. A couple of somethings, actually.”
“Hmm,” Alex repeats. “Well. Since you’re on vacation. And while you’re here.” She hands Kara a black case. “Something the labs want you to test out. Power suppressants.”
Kara unzips the case and looks at the little glass bottles, the needles in paper packaging and the hazard-yellow disposal container. She frowns.
“You don’t have to.” Alex’s voice is reassuring and calm and familiar and Kara tucks the case into her bag.
“No, it’s fine. A good time for it.”
Alex bumps her lightly. “You sure?”
“Yes.” Kara switches tracks. “Do you want to order a pizza before I head back?”
Alex gives her a look. “As tempting as it is to rack up a bill Lena Luthor wouldn’t even notice…”
“A double date,” Kara suggests, “when we get back. Maggie and you, me and Lena.”
“Sure,” Alex agrees, zipping her hoodie up and wrangling Kara with the one armed half hug she’s been accosting Kara with her entire life. “Invite Mom and it’s my number one night of all time. Besides, aren’t you and Lena just--” she drops her voice lower. “-you know.”
Kara blinks. “Yeah, of course. I’m--joking.” She rallies quickly. “We could still have dinner, the four of us. Lena is one of my best friends.”
“I’d rather double-date with General Non.”
Kara flinches. She smoothes her face out, looking away to nudge her glasses up her nose with two fingers, and says nothing.
Alex touches her elbow. “I’m sorry. I didn't--it was thoughtless.”
Kara takes a breath. She links their arms. “Make me a cup of cocoa? We can catch an old movie or two. Like we used to.”
Kara barges into their hotel room.
“There you are,” Lena greets, closing her laptop with a click. “I was hoping to catch you to go to--
“I’m Supergirl,” Kara blurts.
“--to breakfast,” Lena finishes. She stares. “I’m sorry, can you say that again?”
“I’m Supergirl,” Kara obliges. She picks up a lamp from beside the couch and presses her pinky into the base, sinking in like it’s putty instead of solid metal. Draws the heat up from behind her eyes and scorches an ‘L’ into the polished chrome. Offers it to Lena.
Lena takes it. She hovers a fingertip over the letter and hisses at the retained heat. “I... see.”
“You haven’t blinked yet,” Kara points out, hesitant.
Lena blinks six times in rapid succession. “Why did you say that?”
“Because… it’s true.” Kara takes the lamp from Lena’s hand, worried she’ll drop it. “Lena, I know this is---”
Lena grasps her about the wrist and drags her into the far corner of the room. “Why would you just say that! You’re in a Luthor building. Full of people!”
“I have super hearing,” Kara protests. “I’d be able to hear if someone was listening.”
“What if our room was bugged?”
Lena’s gaze sharpens. “Oh? So if I built a few prototypes, would you--”
“Lena,” Kara interrupts.
“Right. Another thing that’s not reassuring to hear from a Luthor.”
Kara turns her hand over to gently grip Lena’s wrist. “Let’s sit?”
Lena pulls away. “I’m--I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“I’m telling you,” Kara says, pitching her voice low and gentle and steering them towards the couch. “Because I trust you. And because I don’t want you to worry.”
“It makes sense,” Lena says, after a moment. Revelation dawns. “It makes… a lot of sense.”
“I’m sensing some judgment.”
“My god,” Lena continues, “you are terrible at this.”
“Hey,” Kara yelps. “Winn was very surprised, if you must know.”
Lena runs her hand over her face. “I… can’t remember what we were talking about before this.”
“Nothing. I kind of--” Kara waves a hand. “Sprung it on you.”
“Right.” Lena takes a breath. “Right. And, if you don’t mind a question. Why?”
Kara turns a little bit on her heel, angling herself away. “Well. I was talking to Alex, and I just realized. I trust you. You’ve trusted me with some of your secrets recently.”
“All of them,” Lena corrects, mild.
“Right. So I--I thought it was about time. And... that’s why.”
Kara can feel Lena looking at her out of the corner of her eye. There’s a dragging pause. “You fought with your sister,” Lena concludes.
Kara flops onto the couch. “We didn’t fight. That’s not---.” She takes a breath. “Don’t you have questions?”
“Many. But nothing pressing.”
Kara gapes. “Nothing? I’m Supergirl!” Her voice rises despite herself and she forces it back to a whisper. “I’m Supergirl!”
Lena waves a hand dismissively. “I heard you the first time.”
“You’re Supergirl,” Lena repeats, appeasingly.
“Right.” Kara exhales, relieved. “Okay, so--”
“And you fought with your sister.”
Kara is silent. “Let’s sit.”
“This was the extent of my plan,” Kara admits.
Lena is taking measured, calm breaths. “Kara Danvers is Supergirl.” Her phone vibrates on the tabletop. “You’re an alien.”
Kara picks up Lena’s phone. “Uh oh.”
Lena snaps to attention. “Uh-oh?”
Kara holds the phone to her chest, hiding the screen. “Um. No, it’s fine. Let’s finish processing this first.”
Lena holds out her hand. “It’s processed. Hand it over, Supergirl.”
“You know I’m choosing to do so,” Kara mutters, as she complies. “You know I could throw this to the moon.”
Lena reads the google alert and sighs. “When will they take away his correspondence privileges.” She sets her phone aside, face down and purposeful. “Now tell me you didn’t burn your secret identity because you wanted to needle your handler.”
“She’s not my handler,” Kara mutters. She glares at the wall for a moment and then takes a deep breath, holding it for a long long time before exhaling. “I was thinking about secrets. And half-truths. And I know what lies are, the damage they can do. The poison they leave behind. And I don’t want that between us.”
Lena scoots a little bit closer. She crosses one leg over another and nudges Kara’s knee with her toes. “I don’t either.”
Kara lifts the case Alex had given her. “Do you want to help me with something?”
Lena watches her unzip the case, hovering awkwardly in the doorway while Kara lays everything out on the bathroom counter. “Are they kryptonite tipped?” She continues before Kara can respond. “Of course they are.”
Kara prepares the first injection. “Are you nervous? Am I nervous?”
She sees Lena come up behind her in the mirror, then feels her take the shot out of Kara’s fingers and set it aside. Lifts Kara’s right arm and starts to roll up the sleeve. “You should be. Tests should be monitored. This is, actually, incredibly foolish.”
“I feel so much better.” Kara arches an eyebrow at her.
Lena wiggles her fingers at the individual packets of antibacterial wipes. “Gimme.”
“No apology for cold hands?”
Lena is holding her elbow gently. She runs the wipe over the crook of Kara’s elbow and bends slightly to blow across her skin. “No goosebumps.”
“Super,” Kara reminds her.
“But your skin.” Lena presses one finger down. Kara’s skin indents. “It’s warm. It moves. But if I were to punch you?”
Kara picks up the shot. “I wouldn’t. I used to work at a fashion magazine, and casts aren’t in this season.”
Lena presses lightly against her back, the warmth of her body and the silk fabric of her blouse. “One of us has experience in lab testing. Maybe both of us.”
Kara offers her the shot and Lena takes it, sliding her fingers around the applicator. “Just you.”
“Kryptonite needles,” Lena muses.
“In case of emergencies. They have a room I can train in. And lamps, for healing.”
Lena places the base of the applicator against the inside of Kara’s elbow. “You’ll feel a pinch,” she says. “Maybe. Who knows.”
“More like pressure.” Kara peels a Band-Aid free of its packaging and lays it over the tiny puncture. “Where’s my lollipop?”
Lena is still watching her in the mirror, barefoot and in pajamas, her hair loose and half mussed. “Kryptonite needles,” she murmurs. Her cheek brushes Kara’s shoulder. “I know they tell you the same thing about me. But don’t trust them.”
Kara stays in the room at Lena’s insistence. Lena calls down to room service and orders not nearly as much food as Kara would like, then presses the remote into her hand. “Apparently the regulations at the DEO are far, far more lacking than those at L-Corp, but when we inject ourselves with untested chemicals, we rest for the remainder of the day. At minimum.”
Kara lies on the couch and eats with her fingers. She opens her laptop and works her way through four back to back episodes of a police procedural drama before Lena returns, Jess trailing her with arms full of paper bags. She unpacks them onto the table, Kara wandering over when she smells food.
“Soup,” Jess says, placing a white carton on the tabletop, followed by a plastic spoon. “Chicken noodle.”
Lena is unloading a pharmacy bag, rifling through and removing items every so often, storing them neatly on the dresser. “Thank you, Jess.”
She waits until Jess has left to reveal what’s hidden in her hands--a mini spiral notebook, a drugstore thermometer. “Time for data collection.”
Fifteen minutes later and Kara is sitting on the bed while Lena takes her blood pressure.
“How can you do that,” Kara says, interrupting Lena’s mutterings and the scratch of her pen as she records information in her notebook.
Lena looks up. A man is putting on a helmet in preparation to drive a schoolbus up a ramp into three other school buses stacked atop each other. The thin crowd roars from cheap portable bleachers. “I would never do that.”
“No, I mean.” Kara waves a hand, dislodging the armband and making Lena sigh. “You. Humans. You’re so…”
“Stupid?” Lena suggests. “Arrogant? Ignorant and foolhardy?” She readjusts the band and starts pumping again.
Kara flips her palm over and catches Lena’s wrist. Their pulses flutter against each other and it’s the first time Kara’s felt the thump of Lena’s heart without hearing it in stereo. She can’t hear the cars outside or the people in the rooms next to them--so quiet and so very alone and Kara understands for the first time what being wrapped in wool is supposed to mean. “Delicate.”
Lena is quiet for a moment. She tangles their fingers together and starts pumping the arm pressure cuff again. “We’re tougher than we look.”
“Play hooky with me,” Kara says. “We can watch trashy television and raid the minibar. Ten dollar candy bars and five dollar soda. A pajama day.”
Lena looks like she’s tempted. “I have a lot of work to do still, I don’t know--”
“You can work,” Kara says. “I have to organize some of my outlines. We can just do it while watching court reality shows.”
“Okay,” Lena says. “You got me, I’m sold.”
They end up on the bed, Kara pressing the do not disturb light on while Lena remakes it so they can sit on the covers, propped against the headboard.
After lunch (Lena insists on ordering them both salad, Kara insists on two extra sides of dressing), Lena begins to make increasingly frustrated noises. Kara peeks at her screen; she’s typing quickly and then deleting everything in waves. “Is that your speech?”
Lena glares at her keyboard. “It will be. If I ever manage to write anything.”
“What did you say last year?”
“My mother spoke last year. This is my first time.”
Kara sets her laptop on the nightstand. She flops over onto her back, dangling over the edge of the mattress to reach upside down for the gummy worms that had fallen sometime earlier. “How much of it do you have done?”
“The meat of it; summary of the company’s performance, our biggest projects moving forward, thank yous to the appropriate people. It’s just the introduction that needs to touch on the personal.”
Kara waves a hand at the ceiling. “Brainstorm at me.”
“We need to soften his association with us. Or at least smooth over sharing a surname.” Lena slumps back against the pillows, lost in thought. “It’s still the company he built. Still owes success to how he ran it.”
“Tell me about him.”
Lena rolls her eyes. “Everyone knows about my brother.”
“No. Tell me about your brother.”
Lena raises one hand up, waving it vaguely through the hair. “He… taught me how to play chess. Our first game, he beat me in twenty seconds.”
“And then I beat him for twenty years.” Lena grins. “I’m very good.”
Lena’s grin fades. “Then he killed a lot of people. Tried to kill more. Tried to kill me.”
“Lena,” Kara cajoles, and Lena sighs.
“Everyone knows, Kara. The trial was televised, his capture was public. Every bit of our lives were dragged through the mud.” She’s quiet for a few seconds. “They dug up my birth mother.”
Kara wiggles around until her head bumps against Lena’s knee, lying upside down, her feet tucked under the pillow beside the one propping up Lena’s back. She curls a comforting hand around Lena’s ankle. “Tell me something not everyone knows.”
“He liked art. And… bad country music. He enjoyed reading the bible.”
“Lena,” Kara drags out, “tell me something about your brother.”
Lena bites her lower lip. “He taught me how to make daisy chains. Bought me ice cream once, when I was crying. He chafed under mother--for a while I thought it might be the two of us united.”
Kara brushes her thumb up and down, the delicate bones of Lena’s ankle and the soft skin on the top of her foot. Her toes are painted kryptonite green. “What else?”
“He was the first person to notice I liked to build things. And he used to let me go with him to lectures, work through his assignments with him. Bought me my first toolset; I still have it somewhere.” Lena sighs. “We fought, of course, but I barely remember that. It’s overlaid with what he did after.”
“He wasn’t always a bad brother?”
Lena swallows, quiet. “He wasn’t always a bad person.”
Kara traces her nails up Lena’s calf, over the leg of her sweatpants. “Tell them that, then.”
Lena gives Kara another shot just before dinner. Blows over the injection mark before laying a bandaid over it. “How does it feel, to be human for so long?”
“Weird,” Kara admits. “I got a papercut yesterday and it annoyed me for hours.”
“Ah,” Lena teases, “the epitome of the struggle of man. Wait until an eyelash gets into your eye.”
Kara rolls her eyes. She walks over to the table, the steel covers hiding their dinner plates. “What’s for dinner?”
“Lamb, I think.”
Kara looks suspicious. “Those little cutlets?” She lifts one cover and sighs.
“There’s extra potatoes.”
Kara cheers, dumping the contents of the side dish onto her own plate. “Oh,” she says, sheepish. “Did you want some?”
Lena joins her at the table. “I wouldn’t dream of coming between you.”
Kara stabs a slice of potato and eats it in one bite. “Thank you,” she says, deliberately casual and faintly muffled. “For telling me about Lex.”
Lena cuts her food into tiny pieces. “Thank you for listening.”
“He knew Clark, did you know?”
Lena freezes. Her eyes flicker up. “His secret is safe with me, as is yours.”
Kara waves a hand. “No, that’s not what I meant. I meant he knew Clark Kent. They were friendly.”
Lena hesitates, then sets her knife aside. “Tell me about your cousin?”
Kara opens her mouth. She has a dozen stories of how it feels to fly together through the clouds and to let her tongue fall naturally into Kryptonian and hear it in response. To see them side by side and the crests of their shared house. How much fun it was when he visited her and what it sounds like when his fortress sings to her. “I waited for him. Years and years and when I got here he didn’t need me.” She shrugs. “His Kryptonian was awful. I didn’t really understand who he was for weeks because I didn’t know how much time had really passed before I landed.”
She smiles, sudden and genuine. “His favorite movie is Titanic.”
Lena laughs, a surprised bark. “No!”
“He cries for the entire last forty five minutes. His top played song on iTunes is ‘My Heart Will Go On’.”
Lena hides her smile with her hand. “I’ll never look at Superman the same way.”
“It was lonely,” Kara admits. “The things I told you about my childhood, they’re all true. I can’t pretend I don’t wish he could have been around to answer my questions. If I hadn’t had Alex…”
“I suspect you have me beat in sibling relationships.” Lena’s tone is light, and she’s smiling still.
“The closest Alex ever came to killing me was busting me for sneaking out in high school. I used to climb out the window and float around in the barn.”
“Alex means a lot to you.”
Kara remembers her hand against cold glass and the crushing of her chest and how Alex’s calm seeped through the barrier between their palms. Alex’s hands over her ears when the world wouldn’t stop shouting at her. Alex cramped into the last piece of Kara’s home in the vacuum of space. She remembers that every time she wakes up under a red light with her muscles aching Alex is waiting for her. “Alex means everything to me.”
Lena wakes up late the next day, comparatively. Kara has already read the paper, showered, dressed, and is making coffee when Lena stirs. By the time Lena emerges from the bathroom fully dressed Kara is crouching to look level-eyed at a mug of coffee, steaming.
“Feeling wondrous about the human experience?”
Kara stands. “I would argue that aliens do live the human experience. And on my planet, you would be the alien.”
Lena quirks an eyebrow. “Grouchy this morning?”
“No,” Kara sighs, gathering her hair up in ponytail. “No. Sorry. It’s just odd.” She rubs through her shirt at the crook of her elbow, at the gentle dip of a needle puncture that hasn’t healed. “I burned my finger in the shower today.”
“Just one finger?”
Kara pokes a coffee stirrer into her mug. “I was being very careful.” She takes a sip and hisses. “Ow!”
Lena takes the mug from her. “However have you managed.”
“Well, usually I’m super. The other time it happened, I was distracted.”
Lena is consulting her schedule, stylus moving across the screen of her tablet. “The other time?”
“Mm. A while ago. It didn’t last long.” Kara sighs and then shakes herself. “It’ll be good. An experience. A learning experience.”
Lena blows across the surface of her coffee and takes a careful sip. Runs the pad of her thumb along the rim to clean the tiny smudge of her lipstick. She hands it back with a soft smile. “Try it now.”
Lena’s color, Kara knows, is pale coral. It’s almost fifty dollars a tube. She sets her mouth right where Lena’s had been and sips. “Just right.”
Kara finds Lena hiding in the women’s restroom outside the restaurant. “Hey. You ready?”
“We can still decline,” Lena tells her, wetting her hands and fussing with the paper towel dispenser.
“This is literally the reason you invited me.”
“Not literally,” Lena mutters. “I wouldn’t want you to do anything that would make you feel uncomfortable.”
Kara takes the paper towel out of Lena’s hands and tosses it into the trash. “I’m not uncomfortable. But if you are, then we’ll cancel.”
Lena arches an eyebrow high. “Cancel on brunch? There’s nothing worse among us social elites. She’d never forgive me.”
“In that vein,” Kara says, linking their fingers and starting a very slow walk towards the door, backwards so she can continue to face Lena, “we probably should have figured out a story before now.” She flashes her x-ray vision at the stalls. “I thought about it, and the best covers are the ones that are closest to the truth, if there’s no reason to be fancy.”
“You thought about how to erect plausible covers?”
“I texted Alex,” Kara clarifies.
“Ah.” Lena squares her shoulders. “Alright. I’m ready.”
“Hold on.” Kara rests a hand on Lena’s waist, careful. Her other hand slides slowly from Lena’s shoulder to just on the side of her neck, the tips of Kara’s fingers tickling Lena’s hair. “Okay?”
Lena takes a breath. She lays her hand over Kara’s, moving to the back of her neck before disengaging. They hold hands out the door to the their table.
“We met at school,” Ciana tells Kara, and her smile shifts from sharp and razored to something softer. “I had skipped a grade to be there; she’d skipped two. I felt threatened.”
She says something quick and lilting and in Italian and Lena responds. Their cadence is sweet and familiar; childhood sweethearts and puppy love turned serious and then sour, two people who are entwined in each other’s formative memories. Lena turns to Kara. “Our inside joke: she taught me Italian and I taught her Python.”
“I was never any good with computers,” Kara offers. “I majored in journalism.”
“Was it a big change, to move to a real city? Less corn, I’d imagine.”
Lena says something sharp in Italian. Ciana coughs. “I’m familiar with Catco,” she says, a visible effort to engage with Kara politely. “Is that how you two met?”
“Yes,” they blurt, at almost the same time.
“I interviewed her for a story,” Kara say, smoothing it over. “A few times, actually.”
“Kara was very kind to me during my mother’s trial.”
Ciana’s eyes flick between them. “I heard. I meant to call, but--”
“But you wanted to see what the social fallout was before you picked a side?” Lena’s tone is more self-deprecating than angry; under the table Kara touches her knee.
Ciana shrugs. “You know how it is. Some of us chose more delicate positions than inventor and scientist.”
“No,” Kara says, blunt. “I don’t know how that is at all.”
There’s an awkward pause. Under the table, Lena’s hand slides into Kara’s; her smile is sideways and almost slyly sweet.
Ciana clears her throat. “You two are very cute,” she allows. “I don’t know how you do it,” she aims at Kara. “I was always so terribly jealous of Lena’s lab, and that was before she was the woman in charge. I can’t imagine the jealousy now, between her research and development and your Supergirl.”
Kara chokes on a slice of melon. “My--my Supergirl?”
“We’re all very put out here in Dover. Supergirl on one side and Superman on the other; the closest we’ve got is a garbageman who saved a child from drowning in the river.”
“Supergirl,” Lena says, “may be National City’s hero. But Kara is mine.”
Ciana is smart and poised and sharp, knowledgeable and funny and not nearly as catty as Kara would like. She raises her hand to pay for the check and Lena’s elbow digs into Kara’s side--Kara’s fingers snag it at the same time Ciana’s do.
“Please,” Ciana says, “my treat.”
“Nonsense,” Lena says.
Ciana’s eyes narrow. “This is my city, Luthor.”
Kara pulls the check away with minimal effort. Ciana’s gaze darts to her, surprised at the show of strength. Kara smiles like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. “Corn-fed.”
Ciana laughs. “This was nice. Maybe the next time I’m in your town we can do it again.” She stands, and she and Lena do that thing where they kiss the air next to each other’s cheeks. They have a short exchange in Italian.
“Nice to meet you,” Kara adds, and they shake hands.
“Your accent is terrible,” Ciana tells Lena. “You’ve gone all rusty on me.” She leaves in a wave of expensive perfume and high heels.
Lena sips from her mimosa. “I was always better at Latin anyway.”
Kara watches Ciana leave and turn the corner outside the restaurant before helping herself to Ciana’s untouched plate of toast. “Me too.”
Kara spreads a liberal amount of jam on a slice and eats it in two bites. “Yeah.” Lena hands her a napkin. “Thanks. I was interested in biology, so in high school I took Latin.”
“I didn’t know you enjoyed the hard sciences.” Lena hands over her own plate of toast.
“My parents were scientists.” Kara swallows, looking at the tablecloth. “They worked with Clark’s parents. Eliza signed a form letting me take advanced chemistry and biology at the same time.”
Lena takes her hand again, then sighs and lifts her napkin from her own lap, dipping it in a water glass and cleaning away the butter and crumbs. “But you switched to journalism?”
Kara remembers being eighteen and walking across the cheap wooden stage in pinching shoes, the sun beating down, so different from the cold panels she would have sat for for entrance into the Guild. “A dying field,” she jokes. It had seemed appropriate at the time. She looks at her own empty glass. “I think I might be tipsy.”
Lena signs the bill and stands, extending her hand to Kara. “I have just the thing for lazy mornings.”
“Do you always travel with a set?”
Lena finishes setting up the pieces. “Of course. Black or white?”
“Black,” Kara says, settling into a chair opposite her. “You move first.”
“Ah. So you have played before.”
“I know the rules,” Kara admits. “But games of patience have never come easily to me.”
Lena moves a pawn. When she smiles her tongue curls out, cocksure and teasing. “I’ll take it easy on you.”
They play quietly for a moment. “It’ll be different,” Kara ventures, after Lena has captured a knight. “When we go back.”
Lena easily avoids the clumsy trap Kara attempted to spring. “Nothing ever stays the same.” The base of her piece makes a satisfying noise when she sets it down. “You’ll be Supergirl, and I’ll be a Luthor, just like we’ve always been.”
“I’ve only been Supergirl for a year,” Kara points out.
Lena shakes her head, making another neat move, advancing slowly and deliberately and through all of Kara’s defenses. “You’ve always been Supergirl. Now you’re just figuring out how to be both.” She pauses, her queen hovering in the air between them. “How many times do I have to tell you you’re more than a super in a cape?” She smiles when she makes her move. “Ask me a thousand different questions--I’ll choose Kara Danvers every time.”
Kara topples her king.
Kara attends the last few panels of the day by herself, Lena locked up in their room furiously preparing for the closing remarks. When Kara checks her email, she gasps so loudly the people in the row in front of her turn around. “Sorry,” she whispers, gathering up her things and scuttling towards the door. “Sorry, sorry.”
She skips from the elevator to the door. “Lena!!”
Lena looks up. “Another Invasion?”
“If only. It’s been ages since something needed to be punched.” Kara flops next to her on the couch and shows Lena her phone. “Two offers for longform articles, one for interview.”
Lena beams at her. “That’s just the beginning. Wait until you dangle that Luthor scoop lure out.”
Kara feels a vague pang of conscience. “You don’t have to hold the exclusive for me. A bigger name could offer better publicity.”
“Nonsense. There’s no one else I’d trust with my debut.”
Kara frowns. “You know I’m not going to take it easy on you.”
Lena hands her a sheaf of printed papers. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Kara goes with Lena backstage. “Your speech,” she says firmly. “Is incredible. And so are you.”
Lena takes a deep breath. “I shouldn’t be as nervous as I am.”
Kara’s phone buzzes in her pocket. She gives it a cursory look before flipping the ringer to silent. “Snapper,” she explains, at Lena’s curious look.
“You should take that.”
Kara steps close to smooth Lena’s collar. “I will. After. Tell me about why you’re nervous.”
“It’s… different from what I’ve done. And I think I’m a different person than I was when I came to National City.”
“You’ve been through a lot.”
Lena shakes her head. “I mean, yes. But that’s not what I was thinking about.”
Kara tilts her head. “What, then?”
“You.” Lena’s eyes slide sideways. “I think I’m a better person. Just from knowing you.”
Kara touches her fingers behind Lena’s ear. Smoothes the underside of Lena’s hair, up to where it’s pulled back into a ponytail. Lena tips her head into the touch. She kisses the inside of Kara’s wrist. “I’ll be watching,” Kara tells her. “From the front row. You can look at me if you forget the words.”
Their faces are so close Kara can feel Lena’s breath on her cheek. “There’s a teleprompter.”
“Look at me anyway,” Kara says, and when a stagehand comes to escort Lena to her place at the podium Kara kisses her once, just at corner of Lena’s mouth, so soft and quiet it doesn’t smudge Lean’s lipstick.
“My brother,” Lena tells the packed auditorium, “and Superman were friends once. They worked together. At his best, my brother wanted to protect.” She smiles, wry and self-deprecating. “It’s just that his ideas of protection were more of the Orwellian persuasion.”
The crowd chuckles.
“In his youth he was a philosopher, an anarchist, an inventor. A lover of the arts and libraries. He built this company from the ground up. I hope to not make L-Corp as it once was, but improve it to what it could be.”
Lena looks into the front row, Kara meets her eyes, holding two thumbs up in her lap where Lena can see them. Lena smiles.
“I want to talk to you today about hope.”
Kara waits for Lena backstage. They hold hands to the elevator lobby. “There’s a party,” Lena tells her, pressing the button without looking away from Kara’s face and missing twice before finding her mark. “Famous people, bigwigs. Open bar.”
Kara turns Lena’s hand up and kisses her knuckles, one after the other. “Do you want to go?”
Lena’s eyes darken. “No.”
“There’s a photographer watching us,” Kara murmurs, leaning in close.
“You can hear him breathing?”
“And his heart. But also, I’m watching him over your shoulder.”
Lena sways ever so slightly closer. “Thinking of using your laser vision?”
“Thinking of something else,” Kara admits. Her fingers tilt Lena’s face up, carefully soft under her chin. The camera flashes when their lips touch.
Lena kisses her again in the bathroom, their hips digging into the counter, a spot of blood welling in the crook of Kara’s elbow. Kara undoes Lena’s ponytail and runs her fingers through Lena’s hair. Drags her teeth under Lena’s ear and feels her breath hitch and her pulse quicken.
Lena undoes Kara’s shirt slow, button by button. The leather of Kara’s belt whispers when Lena tugs it free of its loops, the metal clinking against the tile when Lena lets it drop. Lena runs her fingers down Kara’s shoulders, around the points of her hips and up past her bellybutton to her sternum, under the cups of Kara’s bra. “I’m thinking about Newton,” Lena tells her.
Kara nudges herself off the counter and picks Lena up, the marble cold against her bare feet. Lena’s legs hook around her waist and her arms curl around Kara’s neck. “Let’s think about something else,” Kara tells her, and carries her to bed.
Kara traces a shape on Lena’s bare back, the sheet rumpled low just over Lena’s hips. Watches Lena’s skin indent gently, following the curve of Kara’s careful nail. Careful, careful, careful. Kara has been careful since her cousin pulled her from the wreckage and told her how easily she could crush this world between her palms in his clumsy broken Kryptonian. And still, she doesn’t think she’s ever been so careful as she is with Lena sleeping in her arms. She can feel her own blood thrum, stronger where her skin bears the imprints of Lena’s teeth and nails.
Lena stirs. “What is that?” she murmurs, low and sleep rough.
Kara looks at her hand, gently moving. “The crest of my house.”
Lena shivers when Kara tickles past her spine, swooping up towards her shoulder blade. “The same as the costume?”
“Possessive,” Lena notes, but she rubs her face into the pillow and melts under the attention, Kara half propping herself up to sweep her full palm across Lena’s skin. Pale pale white and soft and the tiny tickle of tiny hairs. Kara murmurs something in her own language and Lena shivers.
“What are you thinking about,” Kara asks, the sun slanting through the window and the world humming outside. She shuts it down, narrowing her senses so she can focus on the thump of Lena’s heart and the puff of her breathing, hear all the layered intricate vibrations in Lena’s voice. Actually hear the soft rasp of her hand moving over Lena’s back.
“That we are both of us too optimistic.” Lena’s eyes flutter when Kara applies pressure. “Nothing good has ever happened to girls who look for the best of the world.”
“We’ll be the first,” Kara muses. “I’m the first of many things, this won’t be the hardest.”
Lena reaches out to rest a fingertip over Kara’s heart, exactly where a human’s would be. Trails up and gently pulls Kara down into a kiss, sour breath and all. “Good morning,” she murmurs.
Kara smiles. Scrapes her nail just a little bit harder and watches her family name rise in faint red lines on Lena’s skin. “My father wrote a thesis for my mother’s hand.”
Lena pillows her head on the inside of her elbow. “Oh?”
“Mm.” Kara taps the center of where the S would be. Noses at Lena’s shoulder. “Defended it in front of a Guild panel.”
She’s not looking but she knows Lena’s eyes have sharpened. “Guild?”
Kara rests her cheek on Lena’s shoulder. “Thinker’s Guild. Hush, I’m trying to tell you a romantic story.”
Lena quivers in quiet amusement. “Of course, my apologies. How did he do?”
“He scored lower than my mother by fifteen points. They concluded it was a match below her bloodline.”
“I like her,” Lena muses. Giggles, girlish and sweet, when Kara wiggles a hand between her torso and the mattress to tickle her ribs for interrupting.
“But she married him anyway.”
“And then they made you.”
Lena is smiling and Kara kisses the corner of it. “And then I got you. But that’s how they did it there.”
“Your home,” Lena murmurs.
Kara pauses. “Earth is my home. But yes, that’s how they did it there, on Krypton.”
Kara breathes, quiet. The sun is rising higher and slanting in to warm the sheets and she can see the sky outside the windows, bullet blue and endless. Lena is sleep mussed and there’s a tiny hint of mascara gunk in the corner of her eye. Her hand is curling around Kara’s hip and Kara thinks she could pick out Lena’s heartbeat from anywhere on this planet.
“Here,” she murmurs; she touches Lena’s hair and they kiss.