This could not be happening today.
Not today. Not right now. Right this second was the absolute worst possible time. Kara had instantly decided that this was the most aggravating waste of her time as her sister’s voice spoke loudly in her ear, coming through the DEO assigned earpiece, informing her about a three-man robbery about a block away.
See, Kara was entirely used to getting called to varying kinds of crimes. Alien or petty criminal alike, she would get the call and take them down, no problem. It was her job as National City’s superhero and she loved saving people. That was her calling, after all.
But, Rao, now of all times? There had to be something or someone out for Kara, because this was not going to help her in any way. If anything, this particular crime could be putting her in a very bad position today, and in turn raised the possibility of ruining her entire day.
Kara Danvers—Not Supergirl, but Kara Danvers—had been hired for a job. Today was her first day, and she was supposed to be there in five minutes from now. She should have been there already, taking into consideration her own personal rule that said being early meant on time and being on time meant late. The city had been clear all night, why in the name of Rao did these three wannabe, half-wit thieves have to show up now, when it was the first day of her new job?
With a loud, heavy sigh, Kara ducked around a building into a shaded alley. She sent the fastest text she had ever sent in her life to Jess—the woman she had been speaking to about her new job—to tell her she may be late After setting her phone in her pocket, she gave a quick glance behind her shoulder. Once she saw the area was clear enough for her to go inconspicuously, Kara rid herself of her human clothes with her superspeed assisting her. Her clothes and her glasses were set down in a pile up against the side of one of the buildings, and she took off flying with her cape fluttering loudly behind her.
For the briefest moment, Supergirl scanned the area with her x-ray vision. Three men were headed out of the bank, bags in hand. Kara heard the faintest sound of a gun being cocked.
Yep, those are my guys, she thought bitterly.
Concrete cracked violently as she touched down with little care, a rushed landing, and the force of it caused the three men to stumble. She struck her famous Supergirl pose— Hands in fists on her hips, feet apart, head high, and she stood tall, radiating her power and confidence into a visual wonder for everyone to see. The trio of men attempting to rob one of National City’s numerous banks halted when they heard the noise, and turned abruptly to stare at the Girl of Steel.
One of the men spoke up confidently, and greeted, “Supergirl.” He had on a cocky smirk, and the other two men were obviously clueless, just following his lead. He cracked his neck, and boasted, “You might think you’re scary, but we aren’t gonna go down so easily, and—“
“You’re not like other criminals, you’re better, I’m never gonna beat you, blah blah blah,” Supergirl said in a mocking tone, and so finished the overused spiel she had heard time and time again, even though her time as Supergirl had not been long at all. She dropped her superpose and shrugged like this was the biggest waste of her time... Which it was. “Let’s get this over with.”
The small group of lowlifes seemed slightly baffled and thrown off their game at the hero’s reaction. If acting like she did not care at all was what threw criminals off, Supergirl might just have to start doing it on purpose instead of fueling their ego.
“W-Well,” The first man stammered, but shook his head and nodded his head at the hero, ordering his boys, “What are you waiting for?! Get her, idiots!”
With that order thrown out into the wind, and the sound of sirens coming closer, the two who seemed even dumber than the first fumbled with their guns before they pointed them directly at Supergirl and fired without warning.
Unfazed, Supergirl just looked at them as the two bullets bounced off the middle of her chest. “Seriously?” She questioned, raising an eyebrow, “You people still think a little pistol is going to hurt me?” If anything, it seems to hurt the criminals more than anything. The leader had his hand over his ear and had his face contorted the second the shots rang.
The men glanced at each other, before making the god-awful decision of firing their weapons at her again.
This time, Supergirl caught the two bullets headed for her chest in her palm, and dropped the crippled bullets to the concrete. “At least you can aim a gun at an unmoving person from five feet away, that’s a feat,” She mocked sarcastically, and with that, she walked up to the three men confidently as they slowly backed up, before attempting to run.
“Wrong move,” Supergirl informed them, as she grabbed two of the men by the back of their shirt collars and slipped her foot in front of the third, causing him to fall to the ground with a thud. She tore the guns from their hands, and tossed them to the side where they clattered onto the pavement and were out of reach from the robbers.
Finally, Supergirl thought as a small group of police cars came speeding down the road. The squad of cars came to a screeching halt in the road next to where Supergirl and the criminals were on the sidewalk and the cops immediately rushed from their vehicles. Supergirl dropped the two men onto their leader, who was laying on the ground. She gave a brief nod to the officers, and took off with speed.
She dove into the alley where she had emerged from, not even taking a moment to land as she grabbed her clothes and glasses, and kept flying towards her destination. There was no time to walk at this point, considering she had already wasted too much time with the robbers.
Supergirl landed hurriedly at the back of the building. She changed back into her Kara Danvers clothes, finding herself incredibly grateful for her superspeed. She zoomed to the front of the building just as her glasses fell to place on her nose and the rubber-band snapped into place, securing her wavy hair into an updo.
The building loomed over her, and even as an alien who could quite literally punch the entire building down, just the sight of the company gave her a nervous feeling. The shadow of the building covered her, and she was just reminded of the countless warnings she had gotten from Alex and her friends about this place. It reminded her of the man who had once run the company, who had used this very company to mass-produce and sell special weaponry designed to murder her own cousin. The man who was sentenced to 32 consecutive life sentences in a maximum security prison and had tried to murder her cousin countless times, and had murdered plenty of others in the process.
Get it together, Kara mentally slapped herself. It was just a building, after all, regardless of what cruel past and secrets might reside there. So, gathering her Supergirl courage into her Kara Danvers self, Kara took the few steps forward she needed to go inside.
From the first step inside L-Corp, a few weeks before, Kara had taken immediate notice to how dull the inside was. The walls and floors had a wonderfully broad choice of greys, whites, and blacks. The air was chilly, like someone had forgotten to turn the heating system on. Everything about the place was sleek, modern, and impersonal. Now, somehow, it seemed even more dull than the first time she had come. It was not proving to be the most welcome place at this first glance. Kara assumed it must be the nerves eating at her stomach that told her to get out— it was just a building, she repeated in her head like it was her new mantra.
“Miss Danvers,” A voice said suddenly, seemingly relieved. Kara tore her eyes away from the boring, cold walls and decor to locate the voice, and saw immediately a woman dressed up far more nicely than Kara herself was. Nothing too extreme, but still nicer. It was the woman Kara had come to know as Jess, rushing towards her with her hands clasped together.
“That’s me,” Kara said with a nearly fake hint of nervousness as Jess came to a stop in front of her. If Lena’s now ex-assistant dressed like that, Kara was not sure how to feel about the fact she herself was wearing a pastel pink button-down, a cardigan, and khakis. She was nowhere close to wearing the darkly colored skirt, blouse, and deathly heels that this woman was.
A sigh of relief came from Jess, who dropped her clasped hands immediately. “Thank God, I saw your text and thought you were going to be much later,” She mumbled, shaking her head, before she met Kara’s eyes and said, “I wanted to show you around, but Miss Luthor told me she’d rather do it herself.”
For some reason, that made Kara’s nerves flare up, for real, again. She knew she was going to be interacting with her, that was the job description, after all, but still... Kara did not have a clue what to think. Perhaps she was not entirely prepared for any of this.
“Sounds good,” Kara smiled brightly despite her doubts, “thank you anyway.”
Jess offered a short smile, though hers seemed less than happy and more concerned. Kara thought Jess might actually be more nervous than she was herself.
“Here’s this,” Jess said quickly, holding out a shiny, laminated I.D. with Kara’s name and photo. “This will let you open doors around the building.”
Kara took it and stared down it for a moment.
“And, of course, once you’ve worked here for a while you’ll be permitted into currently off-limits parts of the building,” Jess told her, “we can’t be fully trusting a new employee right off the bat, nothing personal.”
This made Kara laugh lightly, “I understand.” Kara had assumed that much. L-Corp was a huge corporation, if they just let every new employee wherever they wanted, that would more than likely end up being very bad for business. Especially in a city like National City, where there happened to be a lot of people out to get Lena Luthor, CEO.
Lips pursed together, Jess looked around and huffed. “Miss Luthor will let you know everything else you need to know. Everything that she wants you to know, anyways. Her office is at the top floor.”
Kara nodded, showing her understanding. Keycard. Top floor. Kara remembered where the CEO’s office was from when she had gone upstairs with Jess to be interviewed. Jess had her own office next to Lena Luthor’s.
“Well, go on,” Jess suggested loudly, a hand waving towards the elevator. This woman had so much stress, Kara had to wonder if she was always like that. But, Kara nodded at her, and started walking briskly to the elevator. “Wait,” Jess spoke again, and Kara stopped, confused.
Jess cleared her throat, stood straight, and made very clear eye contact with Kara. There was warning and maybe, even, threat in her eyes. “I’m only leaving this company because I have to, but I care for Miss Luthor, so” She informed, and then warned, “If you know what’s good for you, I suggest you do better than your best for Miss Luthor,” She finished with a firm, “Miss Danvers.” Before Kara could think to respond, Jess was headed off with the tap tap tap of her heels echoing throughout the lobby.
Which, Kara supposed was for the best, because she was not quite sure how to respond. Of course she was going to do the best she possibly could at her new job. Kara Danvers did not put less than her all into anything…Except for maybe that fight earlier. But that’s different! Kara shook the thoughts from her head, and kept going for the elevator.
She pressed the button, the elevator dinged with a shrill noise, and the doors opened. Kara stepped inside, and pressed the button for the top floor of the building. The elevator doors closed, and Kara prepared herself for the next step of her day. It was now or never, after all, because she wasn’t so sure she could prevent herself from chickening out for much longer.
It felt like the longest elevator ride in history. Kara tapped her foot, glanced around the tiny space as if something would magically appear, checked her phone’s clock about seven times. Finally, though, the elevator came to a halting stop, and the doors slid open.
Kara gulped, took a deep breath, and walked out and up to the door that she knew belonged to her new boss. Kara had the final thought of here goes and knocked firmly on the door.
“Come in,” A woman’s voice said from the other side of the door, sounding distant and muffled.
This was it. Kara took a sharp deep breath, attempting to calm her anxiety. She took the invite in and opened the door carefully, allowing herself access to the office. Her attempt at being calm didn’t last very long, however.
Kara stood just barely inside the doorway and felt her breath catch as she saw her.
Lena Luthor. The most hated woman in National City. CEO of L-Corp and sister of one of the most infamous men in history. A man who had again and again attempted to take the life of Kara’s cousin, a man who had again and again succeeded at murdering countless innocent people, a man who found pleasure in murder and in torturing aliens. The both of them belonged to a family of known alien haters, and from what Kara had seen everywhere from The Daily Planet to CatCo WorldWide Media, every single one member of that family had shared those views.
Kara also hadn’t quite expected Lena Luthor to look the way she did. She wasn’t quite sure what she was thinking of seeing Lena Luthor in the flesh, or what she had thought she would see, but Lena Luthor just looked... Inexplicably different, from the blurry photographs of her going about her business in magazines and papers. The Luthor had a sharp face—sharp cheekbones and a jawline that could cut a diamond. Her dark hair was tied back in a tight, complex bun, and when she looked up Kara could see her eyes, and...
When Lena Luthor looked up and made eye contact, Kara felt intimidated. Her eyes were piercing, focused, and Kara, despite being one hundred times more powerful than her, truly felt intimidated. For reasons Kara could not for the life of her understand, looking into Lena Luthor’s eyes felt captivating.
Lena Luthor stood from her sleek, white desk as she set down a pen she had held firmly in her hand. She waved her now free hand in Kara’s direction. “Shut the door, please,” She asked, and Kara instantly did as she was told, closing the heavy door behind her. It shut with a loud click, echoing faintly throughout the huge office. Kara wasn’t sure if she could only hear the echo because of her advanced hearing, but everything seemed much louder in her nervousness, so she thought it might be.
Lena Luthor was staring at her relentlessly with that sharp gaze as she rounded her desk and walked towards Kara. Kara could not explain to herself what she was feeling about this whole situation, there were so many different emotions and feelings riddled with nerves running through her all at once.
The powerful CEO, her new boss, stopped in front of her, and held her hand out with a smile. A fake smile, the faux smile of a businesswoman, Kara knew. “I suppose you’re my new assistant?” She questioned, though it was clear she knew the answer.
Kara straightened her back, standing tall, and reached out to clasp the woman’s hand in a handshake. She focused on keeping a firm grip, while not shattering her boss’s hand if her jitters would try to momentarily make her lose control. That would make for a weird first day. And a weird reason for being fired. Not to mention, Kara would probably never be able to find a job in the city ever again if she accidentally crushed Lena Luthor’s hand on her first day.
Kara tried to summon her confidence and cool demeanor, and said, “I’m, uh,” Confidence wasn’t working to her advantage today. “Um, Miss Danvers.” She stated, simply repeating the last thing she had heard someone call her because her brain was forgetting her own name. Under the scrutiny of those eyes, how could she remember anything?
The Luthor’s fake smile melted into a real one, though a small one, and she silently refused drop Kara’s hand. A handshake was quick, a fast grasp and shake and then it was done, but Lena Luthor seemed to have to intention of letting go quickly. Kara was fully aware of the fact they had their hands clasped together, unmoving, and Kara was equally as aware of the fact this woman wasn’t making any move to let go. It certainly made it clear who was in control here, if nothing else. Kara felt the intimidation grow with every passing millisecond.
Finally, Lena Luthor quirked an eyebrow in amusement. “And your first name, Miss Danvers?” She hinted, catching Kara’s absolute confusion.
“Oh!” Kara exclaimed, “Kara. I’m Kara Danvers.” Way to go, Kara.
“Lena Luthor,” She said in return, and finally their hands were no longer clasped together. Kara took to fiddling with the hem of her shirt, despite herself. “It’s lovely to meet you, Kara, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.”
“The pleasure’s all mine, Miss Luthor,” Kara managed, having felt like an idiot the entire time she had been in this office. The few remaining bones of the confidence she owned as Supergirl fleeted through her the second she saw this woman and she could not possibly fathom why this spell was being placed on her.
She shook her head, and Kara immediately wondered what she did wrong now. “Please, it’s just Lena,” She insisted, that hint of a real smile still playing on her dark lips, as she crossed her arms across her chest. Kara nodded dumbly, and Lena Luthor—No, just Lena turned and walked toward a counter in her castle of an office, while Kara stood there watching like a deer in headlights.
Lena grabbed a pitcher, and a glass, and started pouring. “Would you like a drink, Kara?” She asked, eyes focused on her own glass. “You seem a little nervous. I promise I don’t bite as much as you might think a Luthor would.” It was a joke, but there was something else tied into the words— the frustration of a woman who had come to accept her fate but wasn’t happy about it.
Quickly, Kara stepped forward and assured, “No, no, I promise it’s not that, not because of your name.” Kara was almost surprised to realize within herself that she was telling the truth to Lena. Once Lena had stood up and come to her, Kara had completely forgotten the woman’s cursed last name until that joke. She had just been talking to her boss, not a Luthor hell-bent on murdering her on the spot. But, Kara couldn’t explain why she was feeling so nervous to even herself. “No thank you, to the drink, though.”
Those eyes met hers again as Lena stood straight and took a long drink of her scotch. “If that’s true,” She commented, and carried her drink with her as she walked to a little couch in her office, “then I’m pleasantly surprised.” She sat, crossing her legs, and Kara couldn’t help specifically notice then the tight, black pencil skirt she was wearing. “You may sit, if you like,” Lena offered, though Kara had a sneaking suspicion it was actually an order disguised as an offer.
So, of course, Kara scurried over and sat next to Lena, attempting to put as much space between them as possible on the small couch. Lena took another drink as she did.
“I’m sorry for being late, by the way,” Kara blurted.
This actually seemed to surprise the unnaturally kept-together woman, because her professional, calm expression fell apart for a split second before she coughed and put herself back together. But there seemed to be one part of her professionalism she just couldn’t keep under control right then, because she was smiling. A real one this time, not fake nor gentle, but instead wide and genuine.
“You sound like me. You were, what, one minute late?” Lena said, and Kara felt a foreign, fluttery feeling in her stomach as she gazed at that lovely smile, “Don’t even worry about it.”
“Oh, uh, thank you very much,” Kara gave a short laugh. She clasped her hands together tightly in her lap, and couldn’t believe how messed up she was right now. She was never like this— even as her human persona, a majority of the nerves tended to be an act— so why now was it so real?
Lena was simply staring at her again. She had her elbow set on the back of the couch, leaning her head on her hand, just staring at Kara. “Tell me, Kara,” She said suddenly, after a minute of silence, “why L-Corp?”
The question was not one Kara really knew the answer to. She gazed into those green eyes and tried to think of an answer. “I...” Eventually she sighed and told her boss honestly, “I’m not sure.”
“No history of science or technology,” Lena mused, “or business. None at all...” A sip of scotch was taken as Lena pondered her next point. “According to your resume, you’ve been a waitress, an intern for a newspaper, and a nanny. I must admit I was surprised to see you applying— usually those who apply to be my assistant are looking to go up the ladder and eventually have a bigger role in L-Corp.”
Kara wasn’t surprised. She knew the company had done a painfully thorough background check on her. “You hired me, anyway,” She retorted in a good-meaning way. “You tell me.” The second the words left her mouth, she got worried. Maybe Lena would see that as rude, and maybe she was going to get angry, and the last thing she needed was to infuriate her new boss on the first day, and...
To Kara’s disbelief, she made Lena laugh. Actually laugh, a real and genuine laugh that made Lena grin and shake her head. “Maybe you do have some businesswoman in you, after all,” Lena said as she laughed, quietly now. She tapped her hand on Kara’s shoulder for the briefest second before she took another long, slow drink, and Kara felt her heart stop beating for a split second. “I suppose you interested me,” Lena told her, before Kara could unexplainably freak out even more, “maybe the scientist in me just wanted to figure you out.”
“Maybe my reason is just that you pay way more for a secretary job than anyone else,” Kara countered, testing the waters.
The idea just seemed to amuse Lena further. “Maybe so,” Her drink was gone now and she leaned forward to set her glass on the table in front of the couch, “or maybe I’ll find out some other reason you’re so interesting, eventually. We’ll see, won’t we?” Lena was teasing her. Which, Kara never thought a Luthor would be playfully bantering with her.
“We’ll see,” Kara repeated, so unbearably confused about everything right now. She could imagine Alex trying to convince her that this funny way Kara was feeling around Lena was a Luthor’s trick to kill her or something of the sort. A lure into feeling safe around her and then, the instant her guard was gone, out would come the kryptonite.
Lena uncrossed her legs and stretched them briefly before she stood up. Kara found herself looking at her legs a moment too long before she scrambled to her feet as well and brought her gaze up to Lena’s face.
“Shall I give you a tour?” Lena ventured with the tease still in her voice as she walked towards her office door, watching Kara over her shoulder. She turned the handle and pulled the door open.
“Uh, y-yeah,” Kara nodded so quickly her head hurt, and rushed to join Lena. Lena kept holding the door, and waved a hand, urging Kara to go ahead. Kara was not at all sure what to think of the CEO of a multibillion-dollar corporation, her boss, holding the door open for her.
Something told Kara that this job was going to be more than interesting.
Something told Lena she had made a good decision.
While she had trusted Jess with finding potential replacements for her, Lena of course had the final choice in who would be hired. Jess had questioned her decision immensely, uttering about how Lena just had to choose the one woman who did not have any background in business, science, technology, and the like. In fact, Lena had went through this woman’s files herself, and there wasn’t much background at all to her.
But, Lena had watched recorded footage of all of the applicants' interviews with Jess. Lena had found herself bored watching all of the, seemingly to her, painfully long interviews, until a specific one. The woman had no background in anything this company did. Yet, she came in looking and talking like she had the entire world on her side. She was stammering a bit, constantly adjusting her glasses though they were perfectly fine, and yet even on the less-than-perfect camera quality, Lena could see her smile. A smile that, even through that poor video, was confident, warm, and determined. A smile that, despite the rest of her looking so sheepish, gave her away and proved she had much more to her than a jittery personality.
Lena had paused the video and found the files matching that woman. Kara Danvers, she read and had went on watching. This Kara Danvers rambled on and off topic to Jess about how she put her all into everything she did, how she could write and make coffee even though she absolutely could not cook to save her life, she even rambled off about her sister for a moment before she apologized sheepishly and said she would be very happy having this job. Lena had never seen a woman sound so satisfied with the idea of being a secretary. Lena knew she herself definitely wouldn’t.
And even though those other women might have had more background related to her company, even though Jess might have thought they were better fit, none of them had that unreasonable amount of hope and passion, and none of them had that inhumanly warm smile. The next thing Lena knew, she was telling Jess that Kara Danvers was her choice.
The moment Kara Danvers had walked into her office, Lena wanted to know more about this woman.
After the conversation they had on Lena’s couch, Lena knew she had made the right choice. She couldn’t quite place her finger on why it was the right choice, but she knew it was. She had an instinct about the women that she couldn’t fully explain.
“Right this way,” Lena made a move to set her hand on Kara’s shoulder to guide her, but dropped her hand before she made contact, “to your office.” Kara was not her friend, she reminded herself, despite that smile that somehow made a person feel like they were exactly that.
“O-Okay,” Kara stuttered, and Lena felt herself smile despite her attempts to keep it under control.
Lena was not dumb. She had noticed very well that Kara was, for whatever reason, ruining the professional appearance she had mastered over her entire life. She kept smiling. Really, truly smiling. Her mind was running a mile a minute in a poor attempt to figure out what the problem was.
She attempted to shake the feeling off as she opened the door to Kara’s new office— Jess’s old one. Lena couldn’t honestly say she wasn’t going to miss Jess at all. She was going to miss Jess much more than she wished to admit. Jess was like her family, but Jess could be doing much better things than working for Lena and ordering coffee for countless more years, and both of them knew it. Lena knew potential when she saw it and to waste Jess’s for a moment longer when she had the power to help her reach that potential was ludicrous.
“Here you are,” Lena told Kara, who went in and Lena truly was awed by how happy she looked. How happy she looked just by a decently sized office with a window overlooking the city. Kara immediately went to the window that took up the whole wall, staring out of it like she thought it was the coolest thing ever.
“My sister doesn’t even get this kind of view at her work,” Kara remarked, and Lena could see her wide grin in her reflection. “And she’s, like, one of the head people there. She’s gonna be so jealous. She’s stuck in a super dark, underground building—“ Kara halted mid-sentence and looked suddenly sheepish, glancing back at Lena like she was saying too much and shouldn’t be.
Lena was not sure if that was because Kara thought she was talking to much to her, but if that was the reason, Lena very much disagreed. An urge grew in Lena—a want, rather. She wanted to know everything Kara had to say, everything that went through her mind.
But, rather than urge Kara to continue or assure her she could say whatever she wishes, Lena instead talked more than she should, “My office has a balcony. I’ll take you out onto it later, it has an even better view.” Her brain caught up with her mouth as soon as the words left, and Lena scolded herself internally.
This seemed to make Kara happy. Which, for whatever reason, caused Lena to be glad she said it, even though she had not planned on saying it at all. Then, Kara looked back outside, her smile falling, and her expression turned inexplicably determined and concerned.
Eyebrows furrowed in concern at the dramatic change, Lena questioned, “Kara, are you alright?”
Lena watched as Kara painted on a smile again, though it looked much more forced and her eyes were slightly wide. She turned around. “Could I maybe use the bathroom?” She looked at Lena with some strange amount of innocence, glancing over her shoulder back out the window.
“Of course,” Lena answered, “It’s right down the hall.”
“Thank you!” Kara said hurriedly, rushing to the door, but she stopped and spared a glance at Lena. “I’ll be right back here in a minute.” With that said in finality, she rushed out of the office and down the hall.
Lena took a deep breath, almost relieved at the break from the woman’s presence, because she could not figure out this godforsaken strange feeling she had. As she thought to herself, she walked over to the window that Kara had liked so much and leaned against it, staring out.
Kara Danvers, with her golden hair and shining smile, the kindest eyes Lena had ever seen a person have in this damned city, and the little scar above her eyebrow Lena had noticed while sitting with her and chatting.
Kara Danvers was something, and yet Lena could not possibly put her finger on what that something was.
Then, she saw something in the sky. It was so quick that Lena almost missed it, almost doubted her own vision, but it was there. A streak of blue and red and golden hair. Supergirl, flying across the blue, open sky, going past her building faster than a cheetah.
Lena’s mind stirred for a moment, but it wasn’t long at all before Kara came rushing back into the office, startling Lena. “Kara,” She said, raising her hand to her chest as if it would prevent her apparent heart attack, “you surprised me.”
The bright, blonde woman was out of breath. Just a little bit, her chest rising heavily and Lena could just barely hear her heavy breaths. How a trip to the bathroom could leave somebody out of breath, Lena truly did not care to know.
She smiled, and laughed nervously, tucking some strands of hair behind her ear. Lena also did not see how one’s hair could get so messed up on a simple trip to the bathroom, but Lena accepted it and moved on. “Sorry,” Kara stuttered out, “for startling you, I mean.”
“No worries,” Lena smiled kindly at her in reassurance.
What was it with this woman? Why was Lena so intrigued by her?
“So, um,” Oh, no, Kara’s inability to talk was already rubbing off on her. She cleared her throat, “So, I’ll have a laptop for you tomorrow. Which, will be your work laptop, but you can also use it for personal reasons, I don’t care. We’ll call it a perk.” She shook her head a moment, and added with amusement, “Lord knows how many of my employees I see watching the oddest videos I have ever seen during their lunch breaks.”
Kara looked like she were about to say something, but Lena cut her off, determined. “You can decorate your office however you want, if you want to,” Although, Kara definitely seemed like the decorating type, “It’s your space, after all.” She decided that was enough for Kara’s office, and started walking back to the door, “Would you like to see more, Kara?”
“Of course!” Kara answered brightly, venturing after Lena. Lena had a goal with this, though honestly, she was not entirely sure what the goal was. She just knew what she was doing in some deep part of her mind.
Lena walked briskly to the elevator, hit the button, and walked in with Kara close after her. “There’s really only two things I care to show you today,” Lena informed her new assistant, who was watching her with wide, doe eyes that Lena found a tad distracting. The elevator began moving, down, and Lena felt her stomach drop the slightest bit. Even if she rode an elevator every single day, even though she worked on the highest floor in a skyscraper, she still did not fancy heights.
“In the basement is my personal lab,” Lena told her, deciding that talking to Kara rather than standing in silence was the better solution to her uncomfortable feeling in the elevator. Distraction was the key to handling most emotions, after all. “I’ve been doing a lot of work there, as of late, so that’s the most important place right now. Plus, there are way too many conference rooms and other labs in this building for me to show you every single one, so you’ll figure that out as time goes on.” She finished with a slight smile, watching Kara carefully.
“Alright!” Kara replied cheerfully, that nervous air still with her, and Lena really could not explain why this girl was causing her to smile so much.
The elevator stopped its movement, and Lena felt thankful for the movement being over. The doors to the elevator did not open, however, instead prompting for Lena’s thumbprint and facial recognition scan.
“Only I can access this floor,” Lena said, putting her thumb onto the pad. “If you come down here, it will be with me.” The laser panned down her face briefly before the elevator sounded with a ding, and the metal doors slid open. Lena walked out, Kara following her closely.
Kara looked around the lab, nearly in awe, it seemed. Lena liked that. Lena liked how interested the woman was in all of this. She couldn’t help but be sure all those lackluster women who had also applied would be nowhere near as genuinely excited as Kara.
“My company does, of course, have multiple labs, but this one is solely mine,” Lena explained, her heels clicking on the floor as she walked, “I work on my personal projects as well as prototypes for L-Corp’s future products.”
And, for Lena’s own experiment right now, she asked Kara a very simple question. “Kara, do you know what the heliocentric theory is?”
The question seemed to take Kara by surprise. “Well, yeah,” She said, fixing those glasses of hers despite them being perfectly fine. “It’s the theory that the Earth revolves around the sun. It’s the opposite of the geocentric theory.”
Lena took this with a grain of salt, since anybody with half a brain and half an education could answer that, and went on with another question. “What do you know about quantum entanglement?” One of Lena’s current projects had to do with quantum entanglement, though that was not quite the reason she asked.
“It’s, um, when particles are together in a way that the quantum state of a single particle can’t be described independently from the rest, even if they’re all separated by, um, distance.” Kara looked at Lena sheepishly, like she was looking for Lena to tell her she was wrong, yet she also looked like she was ready for another question. Self-doubt somehow paired with powerful confidence in her knowledge— This was one reason Lena was intrigued by this woman. It was like she had two sides of herself going at once.
Lena just hummed in response, not answering to Kara’s explanation of quantum entanglement. Instead, as quickly as Kara had finished, she asked her final question, “And do you know what the photonucleic effect is?”
Kara started talking before she even seemed to register the question, eager to answer. “That’s a very specialized astronomical phenomenon that takes place when an object native to a red star enters an area with a small G-type star.” Then, she looked almost anxious again, fixed those perfectly fine glasses, and slumped her shoulders. “I-I mean, that’s what gives Supergirl and Superman their powers, right?”
Lena watched the woman with a firm stare. Her response was nearly the exact definition, and she had spoken it with the confidence of a woman who knew something personal to her. Lena was not quite positive what her endgame question had proved to her, but she knew she had gotten somewhere. This was important, she was certain.
“It is,” Lena answered, though Kara clearly knew the answer as well, if not better, than she did. Next, she smiled in satisfaction and said, “Thank you.”
In any case, it was clear to Lena that she had made a good choice with hiring this woman. She did, however, know that she had accomplished something else with getting that answer from Kara, and she knew she was going to figure it out. Something more than just a knowledge past what she should know.
“Uh, no problem!” Kara laughed with her anxiety showing, but genuinely still. “I don’t know much, I’m sorry.”
“I disagree,” Lena mumbled, raising an eyebrow at her, but shook her head and said, “Anyway, any projects that I may work on down in this lab are strictly confidential and will remain so, even to the scientists in this very building, until I say so.”
Kara nodded, “I understand.”
“Can’t have word getting out to other companies, now can I?” Lena said in a slightly teasing tone, surprising herself, before she cleared her throat and said, “There’s one other place I care to show you. Much less secretive than this one.”
Plus, perhaps, she wanted to be out of this very confined lab where she was alone with Kara. Somehow she felt like if she spent another moment alone with her she would somehow make a fool of herself.
Kara nodded quickly, and she and Lena made their way back to the elevator in mostly silence. The ride in the elevator was, as well, mostly riddled in silence, save for a few idle comments from Lena and a few remarks from Kara that made Lena smile. All in all, despite the quietness, it was far from uncomfortable. It felt almost easy, in fact.
The one other place Lena cared to show Kara happened to involve two places more than just one, though they were similar and had the same purpose. The first was the building’s small employee café on the second floor. Kara did not seem to agree that it was a small one, looking at Lena as if she were an alien when Lena said it was so, but Lena couldn’t see it as any bigger than small.
“You’re welcome to order things from here whenever, obviously,” Lena told her, “Or you can leave the building to get lunch. Honestly, I spend a lot of my time in my office. Just don’t be away for an unreasonable amount of time and I won’t even notice.” She hinted to Kara with a short wink, unthinking, and just went on like she hadn’t done a thing.
Kara obviously had noticed and it clearly had its affect on her. She laughed, her sheepishness showing like an exposed nerve, and she wrung her hands together. “Gotcha,” She nodded a little too quickly.
Lena set her hand on Kara’s shoulder for a brief second to get her attention so she would turn and Lena led her out, headed once again for the elevator.
“Although,” She said, leading to her next point, “between you and I, to my companies shame, the coffee here has absolutely nothing on the coffee from the stand outside.” Lena always had Jess get her coffee from that stand rather than from the perfectly fine café in her own building. She had a preference and that preference was for that specific coffee stand and nowhere else.
“Is it?” Kara questioned, seemingly entertained by this, which satisfied Lena immensely.
“Oh, trust me,” Lena assured her after they stepped into the elevator. She fanned her face with her hand jokingly, “I’m weak for that coffee. You’re going to be walking out to get me coffee kind of often, just warning you.” Fairly often was a horrible way to put it. Lena lived off of coffee. As was the life of a CEO, after all. “And I’ll be able to tell if it’s any other place’s coffee, so don’t try anything.”
“I would never,” Kara retorted with fake offense, putting her hand over her chest. “The best coffee you want, the best coffee you’ll get.” She grinned at Lena, and for a moment Lena was not sure if the flip-flopping feeling in her stomach was from the elevator moving or from that smile.
The two didn’t say another word until they walked outside.
The second the got outside, and out of the shade of her building, Kara stopped where she stood, and stretched her back. She had her eyes shut, a gentle smile on her face, taking in the warmth and light outside. Lena halted as well, watching Kara despite herself with some sense of awe. Something about it captivated Lena. Kara got done stretching, noticed Lena staring, and shrugged sheepishly.
“Your building is kinda cold,” Kara admitted as an explanation, “It’s warm out here. The sun feels nice.”
Lena took this information and stored it in the back of her mind. She thought perhaps she might have to fix that in her building, even if only to make Kara happy, which surprised herself.
“I assume my assistant will be perfectly happy taking trips outside for my coffee, then,” She remarked and nearly forgot she was a CEO standing in the public eye for a moment. She stood straighter and tried to force away that relentless smile that kept coming back. Cameras and eyes were always on her even if she didn’t notice them, she had learned long ago.
“Yep!” Kara exclaimed, rushing forward to take the few steps she needed to be at Lena’s side again. And there was that damned smile Lena was trying to keep at bay. Lena couldn’t even begin to describe what this woman was doing to her.
Lena sat at one of the very few tables around the front of the small coffee stand and eyed Kara. “Go ahead and get us some coffee, won’t you?” She asked, though it was more of an order, and she motioned towards the little stand.
Kara glanced over at the stand, then back to Lena, and she said, “Yeah, of course!” Then, she thought for a moment, before giving that laugh, and asking, “What do you want?”
Unable to help herself, Lena leaned forward in her seat, resting her hands on the table. With all of her lasting self-will, she forced away that smile and every trace of emotion from her face. She stared at Kara in the most serious manner that she could. “My order is an incredibly detailed, complicated one. If you get one thing wrong, I’ll notice immediately.” She warned, and asked, “Are you ready?”
Her assistant seemed confused and disturbed by the sudden seriousness in her voice, which made it hard for Lena to continue the seriousness she had. But, Kara stood up straight and got this look of determination at getting Lena Luthor’s coffee order perfectly correct, and said challengingly, “Of course.”
“Plain black coffee,” Lena said in a dangerous voice, and allowed herself to smile while Kara was taken aback at the simplicity of it.
“But—“ Kara seemed like she was absolutely waiting for the longest, most detailed coffee order in history, “But, you said— You—“
“I was teasing. I think your order will be entirely more complicated than mine,” Lena told her. She had a feeling that this woman would probably be unable to stand plain black coffee without any sugar or cream or anything. If Lena pegged her correctly, she appeared to be the type to have a major sweet tooth, which would not pair with bitter coffee.
Kara looked baffled and stuttered incoherently for a second. After a moment, her surprised look was replaced with a dorky grin, and she turned and left to get them both coffee. One black coffee and whatever sugary concoction Kara was bound to order.
Lena stared at her carefully, closely, as she walked to the stand and started energetically talking to the man working.
Suddenly, Lena looked beside herself as a man she knew worked in her company was walking by, and in a spur of the moment decision, she stopped him.
“Excuse me,” She said, and he stopped and looked at the Luthor with shock in his eyes. Lena wasn’t sure she would ever get completely used to the way people got so surprised that Lena Luthor was talking to them. “Do you know what the photonucleic effect is?”
He looked at the ground in concentration for a brief moment, before he looked back up at the Luthor. “I can’t say I do, Ms. Luthor,” He told her regrettably. Lena had assumed as much, so the answer did not take her by surprise. It merely provided her some more information on this intriguing Kara Danvers. If anything, it helped her case.
“Thank you for your time,” Lena smiled, her businesswoman smile, her fake smile, rather than the true smile she kept unwillingly giving this Kara Danvers woman. “Have a nice day.”
He nodded back, and walked off, as Lena turned back to look at Kara as she walked hurriedly back to her with two coffees. Despite herself, Lena found herself grinning in satisfaction at being completely correct about the coffee Kara set on the table.
One black coffee and one sugary mess of a coffee that Lena couldn’t even begin to describe.