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“That’s the last of it, Miss Luthor.”

The leader of the sweaty men who have been hauling half her belongings into her new place closes up the moving truck, gesturing for his coworkers to climb into the cab, and Lena relaxes incrementally.

She’ll be alone soon. Thank god.

“Thank you,” She says, politely ignoring the sweaty hand he holds out to shake. “I appreciate all your hard work.”

“It’s no problem, really.”

Lena really wishes this conversation was over. She’s paid them, the job is done, and now he’s trying to make small talk when all Lena wants is to go inside, lock the door, and not interact with another human for as long as possible.

With an awkward nod the man finally climbs into the truck and trundles down her long driveway, and for the first time in what feels like years, Lena starts to decompress.  

The May air around her is warm without being too hot, there are birds chirping, and she can hear the soft sounds of the water moving in the breeze behind the house. She takes a deep lungful of clean air, and opens her door to start unpacking.

Lena knows exactly why she’s chosen this as her summer home.

The house is beautiful, to be sure – sprawling and modern, glass walls facing a sparkling lake lined by dozens of types of trees, a private dock and a boathouse (not that she has a boating license, but it came with the place). But she’s seen dozens of similar million-dollar houses on the outskirts of rural areas, and for some reason, this is the one that stuck. The wilderness around the property reminds her of the only good memories of her childhood – camping with her birth mother, before she was adopted.

But it isn’t the house that sells her. There are a hundred like it built on every pretty lake in the province. The reason she decides to settle on Midvale, is because of the town.

It’s completely, totally unremarkable. Nestled at the intersection of a slow-moving river and the lake it empties into, the population is small, and it looks like it never quite left 1998. There’s a single strip of tiny shops – a hairdresser, an off-brand pizza place, a restaurant, a grocery store of a chain she’s never heard of - and still there are buildings with “FOR LEASE” signs in the windows. There’s only one school that goes to 8th grade, and the kids have to bus 45 minutes south for high school.

It’s a town that’s clearly seen its hayday a while ago, one that used to see the tourism of campers and vacationers coming through and now serves only locals thanks to the diversion of a new highway. Everyone has a slight accent, the kind that you usually only hear exaggerated for laughs on American TV, and she’d place a sizeable bet that most of the people here have never even heard of L-Corp.

It’s small, and anonymous, and perfect.

For two weeks after she moves in, Lena hardly has to leave her house. She builds a nest for herself there, tinkering with new tech she hasn’t had time to work on in the last few years. She brought in enough groceries to last her a while when she got here, and she settles in more easily than she thought for her months of leisure time. With weekly updates from Sam and Jack, her need to know what’s happening with her company are soothed, and she’s more grateful than she’s ever been for her two best friends. If it weren’t for their loyalty, she’d never have been able to turn the company around.

In fact, the two of them are the only reason she took this extended vacation in the first place.

 

It feels distinctly like an ambush, the way Sam and Jack are standing on either side of her desk like freakishly tall sentinels, and all of a sudden, Lena suspects that the work meeting they requested is going to have more of a personal slant.

“Lena, you’re working yourself to death.”

There it is.

Jack has his worry face on, where his thick brows almost knit together, and the affection she feels for an expression that’s as familiar to her as her own reflection is tempered only by her annoyance at the subject matter.

“I’m fine,” She says, continuing to type the email she’s been editing for the last 3 minutes while the two of them waited.

“I know for a fact that you slept at the office last night,” Sam fires back, and Lena is startled enough that she stops typing.

“How did you –“

“Pete is worried about you.”

Lena makes an internal note to remove Sam’s number from her driver’s phone in the morning, and she turns back to her computer, rolling her eyes.

“I’m fine.”

“She’s right, Lena,” Jack says, leaning against her white desk and crossing his ankles together. “You have no social life –“

“I don’t need a social life,” Lena says, almost instinctually. Jack and Sam both roll their eyes, and Lena studiously ignores it.

“You barely sleep, I never see you eat. You’re going to make yourself sick,” Sam finishes Jack’s sentence, as she’s wont to do, and Lena finally gives up on the email she hasn’t been concentrating on since they entered.

“What am I supposed to do?” She asks, frustrated. “I’ve put everything into turning this company around. Everything. This is my life now.”

“So take a break.”

Lena blinks, the sentence not fully processing for a few seconds. When it does, the idea seems completely ludicrous.

“A break? I can’t just leave.”

“Leave us in charge,” Jack says, winking.

“What?” Lena repeats, more to give herself time to think than because she needs it repeated, but Sam goes into more detail anyways.

“You know we can handle it. Leave us in charge and disappear somewhere for a few months. Take a vacation. We can spin whatever story you need us to – just go take care of yourself for a change. Please.”

It’s the most earnest she’s seen her best friend in a long time. Even Jack, the perennial jokester, is looking at Lena with an uncharacteristically serious expression.

It makes her pause.

“What kind of vacation?”

 

It took a lot of convincing, but after she almost burst into tears because she dropped her coffee all over her office floor after 36 hours of no sleep, she had to admit that they were right. With their help she got everything in order, spun a story about doing environmental research in the far north, and reluctantly started house-hunting for a hideaway spot. Midvale was a fluke, a decently-priced property she decided to view on a whim, and before she knew it she was moving in.

And after two weeks, once she got used to the idea, once she saw for herself how capable Sam and Jack are of running her company, the truth started to sink in.

Lena hates her job.

She always knew she was never going to love being CEO. But now, as she spends her days working on projects that matter to her, it’s alarmingly clear.

Becoming CEO of L-Corp was the right thing to do. The company had been tailspinning in a bad direction after her brother’s xenophobic breakdown and subsequent arrest, and if she hadn’t taken over, god knows what damage her mother might have done with a billion-dollar tech company and her brother’s legacy. She had to step in. It was an obligation, one she didn’t want – but it isn’t what she wants to do. What she loves.

She loves creating. Looking at a math problem and solving it, and then applying it to something that can help people. Before L-Corp, she’d been trying to cure cancer in a garage with her best friends, and now all three of them are in varying positions of corporate hell.

The fact that she considers her day-to-day job to be “corporate hell” should probably have been a red flag, but Lena has never claimed to be in touch with her own emotions.

So, she creates. She’s never really known how to have a vacation, anyways, so working feels natural. Besides, what else would she do? It feels good to have a routine – wake up in a bed that feels too empty, make coffee, have breakfast on the porch overlooking the sunrise on the lake, work on new projects until her body protests, drink herself into submission and fall asleep watching the Food Network.

But as much as Lena enjoys her little hideaway, it’s only so long before she has to venture outside of it, however unwillingly. Dressed in her least flashy clothes – slacks and a soft cardigan, and one of her more understated shades of lipstick – she steels herself as much as she can and steps out into the world.

Her plan is to go to the grocery store, maybe grab some more wine, hit a hardware store for some basic materials she’s run out of, and then stay inside until she runs out again.

So, naturally, her car breaks down.

“Great,” She sighs, as she turns the key in the ignition repeatedly only to hear a weak sputtering. The roads out here are complete shit, bumpy and sometimes not even paved, and apparently she hit a pothole with such force that she dislodged something in her very expensive car.

Thankful for the complete lack of other cars on this back road, Lena slams the door behind her and gets to work.

“Stupid piece of overpriced junk –“ She mutters, kicking the front tire with her Jimmy Choo as she walks by to prop the hood up and do a cursory glance at the engine. Nothing seems out of place, which means that its outside her area of expertise. She has multiple degrees, several in engineering, and she never thought to learn the intricacies of cars. It seemed easy, and boring. Why should she need to learn? But now, looking at a sea of oil-caked and smoking parts, she admits that she probably needs help.

Begrudgingly, she googles the nearest mechanic, which turns out to be the only one in town. It’s about 15 minutes from her house, a fact that she knows because the tow truck shows up exactly 15 minutes after she places her call, and her Porsche is hooked onto the truck bed by a friendly man with a nametag that reads “James” who makes inane conversation with her on the drive back to the shop.

“So, you new around here?” He asks, turning the radio down a few notches as Lena settles gingerly onto the stained truck seat. It’s blaring some country song, and Lena resists the urge to sigh.

She hates country music.

“Yes,” She says, hoping her terse answer will deter further inquiry.

Unfortunately, it seems that small-town people are tenacious in their quest for small talk.

“Where you from?” He continues, his truck seeming to take the rough roads infinitely better than Lena’s poor car. “We don’t see a lot of visitors here anymore.”

“Toronto.”

“Big city, eh?” James says, sounding interested. She doubts he’s ever been to the big city himself.

God, people actually say eh here?

“Yes. Quite big,” Lena replies, and James keeps going almost before she’s finished her sentence.

“So, you here on a vacation? Got a cottage up the road?”

Lena drums her fingers on the seat beside her. “Something like that.”

She appreciates that he’s trying, but she has little interest in befriending the locals. She’s going to get her car fixed, get the things she needs, and consider hiring a delivery service to bring things to her house from now on.

The building they pull up to is pretty much exactly what Lena was expecting. It’s on the main strip in town, but Lena hadn’t noticed it when she drove through a few months ago – the building is old, exposed bricks painted with peeling white paint and several garage doors open to reveal the mess of cars and parts piled inside. Above the chaos, a faded baby-blue sign reads “Danvers Auto Shop”.

All Lena can do is sincerely hope that someone here knows what they’re doing.

“Alex isn’t here today, but you can talk to the other owner,” James says once he’s guided her inside, and Lena peers past the car suspended nearby to follow his gesturing arm. Her first impression of the mechanic James points out is surprise, as much as she’s ashamed of herself for it – the mechanic is a woman.

It’s not that Lena is surprised that female mechanics exist, but she’s never seen one, and she especially didn’t expect something so out of the norm in a small, remote town like this. She can’t see much of her beyond the blonde ponytail that’s visible between her shoulderblades, but she seems capable as she finishes putting a new tire on another car in the shop.

When the woman turns around, Lena has to work hard to smother her immediate reaction, as shocking as it is.

The mechanic is hot.

Not in the way Lena is used to, exactly. Lena’s type has always been strictly defined, both by her upbringing and by her status as a public figure. Clean-cut, presentable, Ivy League, and slightly distant. Preferably in some kind of business position at least comparable to her position as CEO of L-Corp, if not equal. Photographs well. Her partners have always had to be either discreet hookups to sate her physical needs, or acceptable arm-candy to boost her public image. And once she finally decided to do one small thing for herself and start dating women openly, that didn’t change, although it seriously narrowed her dating pool.

This woman is so far the opposite as to be almost comical.

She’s wearing a jumpsuit, for starters. An army green mechanic’s jumpsuit, horribly stained and unbuttoned so that it hangs around her hips, with a similarly dirty white tank top and a scuffed blue ballcap. Lena idly wonders why one would even bother wearing white in an auto shop, considering it’s almost not recognisably white anymore, but before long she’s distracted by what’s underneath the shirt.

She’s muscular. And sweaty. And broad. Her shoulders are wider than they look at first glance, offset by the slight swell of her hips, and as she reaches up to remove her hat and wipe at her brow with her forearm, Lena can see her bicep flex.

She tries very hard not to be affected by that, or by the adorable red line the cap leaves on the woman’s forehead.

“Hi! I’m Kara. James said your Porsche gave out?”

Kara reaches a grimy hand out to shake, and Lena hesitates only for a moment before taking it gingerly in her own. She expects it to be sweaty, or at least greasy – but, despite the blackness staining her hands, they’re actually dry and warm and a tiny bit calloused.

It makes Lena shiver.

“Lena,” She manages to say, deliberately holding back her last name. “And, yes.”

She pulls her hand back just a tiny bit sooner than is usually considered polite, and clenching it at her side. “Can you fix it?”

“I can fix anything,” Kara says with a wink, and Lena swallows hard. Her eyes are a startling blue, her smile bright and earnest, and there’s a smudge of something black streaking across her brow and down to her temple. Her hair is coming loose from her ponytail and sticking to the side of her neck, and when she puts her hat back on, Lena can see that the bill of it is frayed and dusty.

She’s not Lena’s type in the slightest.

And, yet.

I’m not attracted to her. I’m not attracted to her. I did not buy a house in the middle of nowhere to fuck the town mechanic.

“She’s not lying,” James says, startling Lena out of her thoughts. “I’ve never seen her find anything she can’t put back together with her bare hands.”

Lena gives him a tight smile, her eyes following Kara as she ducks under a row of hanging tools and heads to where James backed the Porsche into the garage.

She absolutely does not need to know what Kara can do with her bare hands.

Kara lets out a low whistle as she approaches the car, tapping a gentle finger on the hood. “Nice ride. Not often that I get to treat something this expensive.”

“It gets me from A to B,” Lena says vaguely, and Kara grins a bit incredulously.

“Is A ‘absurdly rich’ and B ‘wherever you want, very quickly’?”

“Something like that.”

Kara laughs, and she reaches inside the open window to pop the hood, her shoulders practically rippling. “Well, let’s take a look, shall we?”

Lena’s hand clenches hard around her keys.

The diagnosis goes quickly, thankfully. Lena can actually understand most of what Kara says, and she explains it in a way that lacks the condescension she’s used to from most mechanics. Lena even finds herself tolerating small talk, when it comes from the blonde.

“Pretty rare that we see a machine this nice come through Midvale,” Kara says, as she slides out from underneath Lena’s car on what looks like a wide skateboard. Lena hands her keys over and tries not to wince as James climbs onto her leather seats and backs the car into the hydraulic lift.

“It seems like it’s mostly trucks and tractors out here,” Lena quips, and she’s oddly gratified when it makes Kara laugh, her white teeth seeming bright against her smudged skin.

“Mostly! It’s nice to handle something so fancy for a change.”

Lena knows that Kara is referring to the car, but she says it without breaking eye contact, and she feels an answering throb between her legs at the thought of Kara handling her.

Stop it. This is a summer of rest and relaxation in isolation.

No matter how much she tells herself that, she can’t stop looking at Kara’s hands and imagining their practical application.

In the end Kara fixes the problem in less than an hour, chatting away to Lena the whole way about what she’s doing. By the time she’s handing over her credit card, she’s pretty sure she could fix the car herself next time. But, looking down at the receipt, Lena frowns. It’s a few hundred dollars short of what she expected.

“This…doesn’t seem like very much for all the work you did,” She says slowly, hesitating before signing her name.

“Oh, I just charged you for the parts,” Kara says, shrugging nonchalantly. It draws Lena’s attention to her shoulders, and she has to exert serious willpower to get back to the topic on hand.

“What? Why?”

“First time customers get a discount,” Kara replies with a wink, and hands Lena’s card back.

“You don’t have to do that,” Lena insists, but Kara just grins in a way that’s altogether too charming.

“I know. See you around,” Kara squints at the receipt, reading Lena’s name from the line at the bottom. “Lena Luthor.”

Lena leaves the shop with a car that runs better than ever, and a feeling in her stomach like she’s missed a step on the stairs.

She keeps thinking about Kara in idle moments over the next few days. More than she should.

Lena thinks about that friendly grin, the surprisingly clear voice that came out of her mouth. Almost everyone around here has a slight northern accent, but Kara doesn’t. If she hadn’t been dressed in a jumpsuit and covered in engine grease, Lena might have thought she came from the city, too.

Lena thinks about the light sheen of sweat that covered Kara’s arms and chest under her thin tank top, about those hands that looked strong and just a little bit calloused under layers of oil and engine grime. She thinks about those wide shoulders, the strength in Kara’s arms as she hefted heavy car parts effortlessly.

She thinks about full lips, a bit chapped but still soft, and exactly what they could do to her body.

It’s because she’s going stir-crazy, she assures herself. It’s been months since her last sexual partner – almost a year, in fact – and now she’s cooped up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. It’s perfectly natural for her to casually fantasize about the only attractive woman she’s seen in this town.

But even a week later, when she’s met several other attractive women – Lucy, for example, the spitfire brunette who runs the local restaurant, and the stern auburn-haired woman she saw at the grocery store who looks to also work at the auto shop if the state of her black-stained hands is any indication – she still only thinks about Kara.

Maybe she should re-think this ‘no attachments’ rule.

 


 

“So, you met a hot female mechanic and you didn’t get her number?”

Jack’s voice through her phone is tinny through the shaky wifi, but the familiarity of his scolding warms Lena all the same. She takes a sip of her wine, pulling the blanket up higher over her legs to ward against the chilly evening air.

“Also, why are you using FaceTime voice? We miss your face,” Sam chimes in, and Lena sighs, rubbing her face.

“I look like shit.”

“Even when you look like shit, you still look better than me.”

Lena highly doubts that, since Sam consistently looks like she just won America’s Next Top Model, but she appreciates the sentiment.

“Shut up. The service is bad out here, I don’t even know if video will work,” Lena says instead. She’s pretty sure it would work, but she really doesn’t feel like holding her phone up like a weirdo right now. She’s three glasses of wine in and in her pyjamas to watch the sunset from her deck, and a long video conference is the last thing she wants, even with her best friends.

“Can we get back to the hot mechanic, please?” Jack asks, and Lena shifts uncomfortably as Sam latches onto the topic again.

“Yeah, what’s with that? You’re there ‘till August, why not have a little fun?”

“I didn’t come here to find a relationship,” Lena protests, and she sighs in annoyance as the last of the light fades over the treeline and the army of mosquitoes starts to descend.

Time to go back inside.

“I’m not saying you should have a relationship,” Sam is saying, as Lena gathers her blanket and empty wineglass and escapes the great outdoors. “Not all of us are serial monogamists.”

“Yes, some of us are quite happy in our non-monogamy,” Jack chimes, and Lena can hear the wink he would have thrown if he were here.

“Well, you don’t have to be Jack,” Sam admits, and she can hear the smack as Jack hits her on the arm. “Ow – what? Lena doesn’t have it in her to be a joyful gay tramp like you.”

“At least she called you ‘joyful’,” Lena adds, and she can hear Jack huff dramatically.

“Look, all I’m saying is that a summer fling might do you good,” Sam says, much more rationally. “Relax, hang out, make some friends, get yourself laid for once in your life, and unclench.”

Slamming the sliding glass door shut behind her, Lena drapes the blanket over the back of her couch and sits down on the soft cushion. “I don’t even know how to go about doing that. I mean, do I just…ask her to be my summer fling?”

Before it’s even left her mouth, Lena knows she’s said the wrong thing.

“Lena, oh my god,” Jack groans, and Sam dissolves into peals of laughter.

“No, you don’t – you just sleep with her, Lena!” She says, her voice squeaky with contained mirth. “God, it’s like you’ve never hooked up before.”

“That’s not – you know I have, Sam!” Lena groans, flopping back onto the throw pillows. It’s not like she’s inexperienced, by any far stretch. She’s had her fair share of hookups, both public and covert. But this is different. “I don’t want to lead anyone on. And – ugh, I’m not doing it anyways. I’m going to keep to myself, like I said I would.”

“Suit yourself, Mother Theresa,” Jack scoffs, and Lena finally sighs in annoyance.

“If you guys called just to make fun of me, I’m hanging up.”

“No, no, I’m sorry,” Sam says, her tone soothing. “We just miss you.”

“You’re the one who told me to go on vacation! You said I needed rest and relaxation, and I’m getting some.”

“Doesn’t sound like you’re getting some,” Jack mutters, and Lena rolls her eyes. Before Sam can protest, she’s already disconnected the call.

As much as Sam and Jack’s impromptu roast irritated her, Lena has to admit that it makes her think.

She doesn’t like to admit it, but she is lonely here. She’s acclimated herself to isolation, but all isolation has ever done for her is make her work more. Maybe it’s time to stop those habits. Right?

Slowly but surely, Lena starts to venture into town more often than usual. She makes up more and more far-fetched excuses to herself – she forgot something from her grocery list, she needs a specific type of copper wire, the coffee she brewed wasn’t good enough and she absolutely needs to get one from the little coffee shop in town – but despite her hopes to see Kara again, it never seems to line up.  She seems to work constantly, and Lena only gets glimpses of her through the open garage doors when she drives by.

It’s over a week after her car broke down before she gets desperate enough to drag herself to the shabby local bar.

She’s driven by it before, but until now she’s never even considered stopping. Drinking in public has never been her favourite thing, and drinking with the owners of the dozen pickup trucks in the parking lot is the last thing she wants to do – but it might be worth it.

So, with her nerves steeled by the glass of wine she had before leaving her house, she heads towards the half-illuminated neon sign that says The Livewire.

The bar is inexplicably attached to the town’s pizzeria, and when she walks in the door, the smell-combination of beer and decades-old cigarette smoke that’s never gone away hits her nose at the same time as the scent of baking bread and cheese.

It’s strange, but not completely unpleasant.

What is jarring, though, is the décor. The bar is partially carpeted, which she actually didn’t think was possible after 1995, and the tables and chairs are all mismatched and strictly functional. One table even has a plastic lawn chair for seating, and she can see even from far away that the tabletops have years worth of names carved into them.

The only part of the place that seems new is the bartop itself, with about 15 wooden stools lined up against it and a young woman with white-blonde hair who scowls at the opening of the door. Lena sweeps her eyes over the row of hunched backs, most of them watching what looks like a game of curling on the small televisions hung above the shelves of liquor, but none of them have Kara’s blonde ponytail.

None of the tables seem to house the woman she’s looking for either, and Lena is about to give up and go home when the door to the women’s room at the back of the bar swings open, and out walks the person that’s been haunting her waking (and sleeping) thoughts all week.

“All right, Schott, now that I don’t have to pee so bad that I can’t think straight, let’s play,” Kara says, picking up a pool cue and heading towards the faded pool table in the back corner.

Again?” A short man with fluffy brown hair sitting with a group nearby groans, hanging his head. “How many times do you have to beat me until you get tired of it?”

“I’ll get tired when I finally lose,” Kara says, with a wink that goes right to Lena’s toes even though it isn’t directed at her. She’s wearing that same ballcap from the day they met, still just as faded, but this time with overalls and a white t-shirt. The denim has more than a few frayed holes, and again, it hangs unfastened around her hips.

The look absolutely should not be working for Lena, but somehow, her whole body heats up as Kara leans back against the pool table.

“Come on, Kara, leave him alone,” A deeper voice says, and Lena recognizes James when he slings an arm over the smaller man’s shoulders. “Let the man get plastered in peace.”

Kara sighs dramatically, putting the cue down. “Fine. One of these days, I’m going to find someone here who puts up a challenge.”

“Considering your skill and the reputation you have garnered regarding pool, I find that doubtful,” Says another man at the table, this one with longer hair that curls behind his ears. His voice interestingly stilted, completely void of the accent Lena has gotten so used to hearing here but unique in its own way. In a way it reminds her of her head of R&D, back at L-Corp. He was a genius, but he always had trouble relating to people.

This man doesn’t seem to have that problem, though – Kara laughs at his comment, clapping him on the shoulder as he smiles.

Kara spins one of the rickety wooden chairs around and plops down in it backwards, resting her forearms on the back, and calls out to the bartender.

“Hey Willis, can we please get another pitcher, and a water for me?”

“Go fuck yourself, Danvers,” The bartender calls back, but Lena can see that she’s already grabbing Kara’s order.

“Thanks, Leslie,” Kara sing-songs, and half of the bar laugh at her antics.

And that moment, as Lena is staring like an idiot at Kara and her friends, is when Kara notices her. Her eyes brighten, and she sticks a hand in the air and waves.

“Hey, Lena! I didn’t expect to see you again!”

The whole table turns to look at her, and Lena feels her face heat up immediately. She briefly considers running for it, but Kara is already gesturing her over, so she takes a deep breath of pizza-scented air and tries to be brave.

“Kara, hi. I was just…stopping by for a drink.”

Lena hates how breathy her voice sounds, but Kara’s smile is bright enough that she actually relaxes incrementally, even as she realizes she now has a whole new group of people to socialize with.

“Come meet everyone!” Kara insists, and Lena waves awkwardly as she’s introduced. “You know James already, but this is Winn –“

The fluffy-haired man waves jovially, and James flashes her a warm grin.

“And this is Brainy, he runs the horse ranch just outside of town.”

“Brainy?” Lena blurts, as he nods his head in her direction.

“Oh, it’s just a nickname,” Kara elaborates, and intense relief courses through Lena at knowing she hasn’t just deeply offended one of Kara’s close friends. “His real name is Barney, but he’s always been our resident genius.”

“I have learned to accept it. Just as I accept that Kara will never lose at pool,” Brainy says, and Kara shrugs good-naturedly.

“What can I say, I’m unbeatable.”

Lena has no idea what possesses her to say it. Maybe it’s the hot, stuffy air of the bar making her lose her sanity, or the way Kara is smiling at her in that cocksure but somehow kind way that makes her knees a little weak, but before she can stop herself, she’s opening her mouth.

“I doubt that.”

A chorus of ooooh rings around the table, and James slaps the wooden surface gleefully and points at Kara.

“Oh, shit! That sounded like a challenge, Danvers!”

“It sure did,” Kara says, and the impressed look on her face is worth Lena’s apparent temporary mania. “Wanna play?”

Five minutes later she’s standing across the table from Kara with a stick in her hand, about to start a game she’s never played before.

It can’t be that hard, Lena reasons. She knows the rules, after a covert and frantic google search while Kara set the balls up, and it’s not like it’s a very physical activity. It’s just basic physics.

She can do physics.

“So, you’re new in town, huh?” Kara asks, as she breaks the triangle of balls and sends them scattering across the felt. Two solid colours sink into the holes, and Lena rolls her eyes at Kara’s cocky wink.

“Yes. The amount of times I’ve been asked that this week -” Lena says, and thankfully Kara nods in understanding.

“It’s a pretty small place. When someone new comes along, you can tell. And besides, most people here don’t drive Porsches,” Kara reasons, sinking yet another shot. Her third misses, though, and Kara concedes the turn to Lena gracefully.

Lena laughs despite herself as she surveys the table. “I guess I sort of stand out.”

“In more ways than one,” Kara says, and Lena can’t stop the nervous laugh that erupts at the unexpected compliment. She knows she’s blushing, and Kara grins in a way that assures Lena that she’s definitely noticed.

“When you brought your car in, I figured you were just passing through,” Kara continues, blessedly changing the subject as Lena lines up her first shot. “We don’t get a lot of long-term visitors.”

“Well, just for the summer. I bought a place by the lake.” Lena snaps the pool cue, and with devastating precision two striped balls fall into place down the pots.

Kara’s eyebrows raise, and Lena glows with secret pride at the approval she sees in bright blue eyes.

“By the lake?” Kara says, whistling. “Pricey. Although, I’m saying this to the woman with the nicest car in town, so I shouldn’t be surprised.” Kara doesn’t look intimidated, though, or even jealous. She just looks impressed.

She looks even more impressed when Lena sinks 3 more balls easily, her confidence growing all the way.

“I didn’t realize I was playing a pro,” She laughs, lining up a simple shot and sinking it easily. Lena can’t take her eyes away from the arch of her back as she leans over, the way she chews on her lip as she concentrates. The skin comes away red and a little wet, and Lena has a sudden and overwhelming urge to bite at it.

“Would you believe me if I told you I’ve never played before?” Lena replies, trying desperately to distract herself by staring resolutely at the balls on the table.

No,” Kara says, pausing to look at Lena incredulously. She leans on her pool cue, shaking her head. “Is this seriously your first time?”

“I actually prefer chess.”

Kara laughs, lining up and sinking another shot. “Well, your talents are wasted there. You could clean up at a pool tournament.”

She takes her shot as she says it, and then winces when the ball bounces off at the wrong angle.

“Shoot. Looks like you’re up, Lena.”

A few minutes later, Kara is taking her hat off in respect as Lena sinks the final ball with a flourish. The ponytail underneath is messy and entirely too endearing. She looks like she’s about to congratulate Lena on the win, but she’s interrupted.

“Damn, she whupped your ass, son!” James crows clapping loudly and startling Lena out of the little Kara-bubble she’s been in for the whole game. Quite honestly, she’d completely forgotten there were other people in the bar until just now.

“Well. That was unexpected,” Brainy says loudly from behind them, and Lena actually jumps slightly as a hand alights on her shoulder.

“I don’t know who you are, Lena, but if you can keep beating Kara’s winning streak I hope you come back and get sauced with us every night,” Winn says, and Lena’s usual urge to shrug off physical contact is strangely absent in the company of Kara’s friends.

“Come back and get what?”

He doesn’t answer, but Lena can guess at the word’s meaning. Winn is clearly a few steps past intoxicated, but the invitation is flattering all the same.

The rest of the night passes surprisingly pleasantly. She stays for a drink or two, contributing to conversation as often as seems polite, but most of her time is spent looking at Kara. How her smile makes her eyes crinkle at the corners, the softness of her lips, the way she always manages to catch Lena’s eye and wink whenever she’s starting to feel a little lost.

Kara leaves around 10, citing having to work in the morning, and Lena ducks out with her despite the protests of the table that the night isn’t over. When Kara opens the door for her Lena glances back to see Brainy being hoisted up onto James’ shoulders, and she’s more than a little bit glad that she’s not still involved.

They both take a simultaneous deep breath of fresh air as they step out, and Kara catches her eye and chuckles, rubbing the back of her neck. She almost looks nervous, which seems completely implausible to Lena.

“I’ve always loved the way the air smells out here,” Kara says quietly, leaning against a nearby truck that Lena assumes is hers. She can’t see any distinguishing features in the dark, but it looks older than most of the others.

“I’m learning to like it,” Lena admits, fiddling with her keys. “I didn’t realize how suffocating the city air is until I came here.”

“Yeah. City air blows.”

Lena snorts, covering her mouth not quite quickly enough to hide it, but Kara seems delighted at making her laugh.

A moment of silence grows between them, and Lena knows what she wants to say. She wants to ask to see Kara again, ask for her number, ask anything.

But she doesn’t.

“Well, I had a really great time,” Kara says, opening her truck door and hopping up into the seat. “I hope I’ll see you around?”

“Right, yes,” Lena says, backing up and preparing to bolt to her car and scream her frustration out in private. “Of course.”

Kara’s tires crunch on the gravel as she pulls onto the street, and for hours after, Lena curses her own cowardice. She curses it as she drives home, as she washes off the bar-smell in the shower, and she curses it as she eases herself into bed and slips a hand into her underwear.

She shouldn’t do it. She hardly knows Kara, has spoken to her for barely more than a few hours in total, but this has been building for a week now and she needs relief. She needs her own shaky hands on her clit, a poor substitute for the ones she wants but enough nonetheless.

With Kara’s name on her lips Lena comes faster and harder than she has in a long time, all the while thinking about rough hands, blue eyes, and the smell of engine oil.

 


 

In most situations, Lena has no fear. She can face down boardrooms full of Armani-suited sexist men, argue even the most powerful CEOs into submission. She sat on the witness stand at her own brother’s murder trial, and put him in jail, when she was 22.

But when it comes to asking for a girl’s number, Lena Luthor is a coward.

She’s seen Kara no less than three times this week – once at the gas station as she paid for her fill-up and Kara bought what amounted to $40 worth of twinkies and honey buns, and twice at the coffee shop where Kara picks up the morning order for her whole staff (not that Lena has memorized when Kara usually gets to the shop and drags herself out of bed to get there in time. Absolutely not). But all three times, they shared a friendly conversation and then Kara had to go, and Lena, again, didn’t ask for her number.

She wants to see more of Kara, as much as she knows she shouldn’t. But some harmless flirting can’t hurt, right? Besides, Sam encouraged her to make friends during her vacation. Even if said friends are too attractive for words.

So finally, frustrated and full of self-loathing, Lena pops her own tire with a corkscrew and calls for a tow from Danvers Auto Shop.

When Kara rolls up in the tow truck 20 minutes later, looking as dirty and annoyingly attractive as ever, Lena finds she’s far less ashamed than she should be.

“I hear you need my services again?” Kara grins, and Lena suppresses a shiver.

When Kara kneels down to look at the tire, though, the anxiety starts to ebb in.

“Huh. That’s weird,” Kara says, frowning, and Lena swallows hard.

“What?”

“Well, you said you didn’t notice it being flat yesterday, right?”

Lena vaguely remembers saying something of the sort on the phone, but in her defense, she was very distracted at the time.

“Yes,” She says slowly, trying to push down the anxiety in her gut.

“This is a pretty big hole. It’s just a little strange,” Kara says, running her fingers over the tire tread. “What do you think did it?”

“I could have run over something in my driveway. Right?”

“That’s true. These secluded driveways tend to build up all sorts of crud, since the township doesn’t take care of them,” Kara says brightly, tapping on the rubber. “You should hire someone to clean it up every once in a while! There’s tons of kids looking for jobs in town.”

Lena, distracted by the movement of Kara’s hands, nods mutely.

Thankfully, Kara hooks Lena’s car onto the truck with no further comments. Lena has made her laugh exactly three times by the time they pull into the garage, and she feels such a sense of accomplishment that she’s pretty sure she can write the rest of the day off.

As she gets out of the truck, Kara waves suddenly at someone across the shop, who turns out to be the auburn-haired woman that Lena saw at the grocery store not long ago. Her stern look clearly melts at the sight of Kara, and Lena’s stomach sinks slightly at the obvious affection.

“Alex!” Kara calls, gesturing her over. “Come meet Lena!”

“I’m late for my doctor’s appointment,” Alex calls back, still moving towards the door. “Nice to meet you, Lena!” She’s gone a few seconds later, the door swinging shut behind her and leaving them alone.

Kara shakes her head, smiling exasperatedly. “That’s my sister, Alex. We co-own the shop together, and I think she’s started going for much more regular check-ups since James’ sister moved to town and joined Dr. J’onzz’s practice.”

The relief Lena feels at learning the pretty woman is Kara’s sister is so palpable that Lena is genuinely worried that Kara will notice. Instead she puts the focus on Alex, asking the first question that pops into her head.

“Your sister has a crush on her doctor?”

Kara laughs, shaking her head while she works on getting Lena’s car detached from the truck. “No, her doctor is J’onn. She just likes to sit in the waiting room and hope that Kelly walks by so she can awkwardly flirt.”

Lena, painfully aware of how close to Alex’s situation she is at this very moment, says nothing.

The repair takes longer than last time – not because it’s more work, but because this time, Kara seems determined to teach Lena how to change her own tire.

“I really don’t need to know this, Kara. I’m perfectly happy just calling you when I get a flat.”

“But everyone should know how to change a tire!” Kara protests, prying the hubcap off and handing it to Lena, who tries to touch as little of the dirty metal as possible. It dangles from two of her fingers, but Kara doesn’t seem to notice – she’s too busy loosening the bolts and jacking the car up.

“Shouldn’t you be putting the car on those lifts?” Lena asks, setting the hubcap gingerly on the workbench beside her.

“Usually I would, but you won’t have one if you’re the one changing the tire,” Kara reasons, to Lena’s dismay. She nestles the jack under the car and starts to crank it, while Lena tries not to ogle too obviously.

“So, you have to make sure the tire is off the ground,” Kara is saying, and Lena blinks rapidly, trying to clear the dirty cobwebs from her mind. “And then you have to unscrew the lug nuts.”

“I could just Google this, you know,” Lena says, looking for whatever escape she can get. It’s getting hotter and hotter in the shop, and Kara seems to not notice at all.

“What if you have no service?” Kara challenges, dusting off her hands and grabbing the wrench. “Service up here is patchy.”

Lena purses her lips, and finally sighs.

“…fine. Continue.”

Lena has experienced desire before. She’s felt her heartbeat speed up looking at a woman in a tight dress or a tailored suit, felt the longing to run her fingers through someone’s hair or her lips over their neck. But never in her life has she felt the unadulterated craving that she feels when she watches Kara Danvers singlehandedly remove the bolts on a tire with a wrench.

She’s known from the minute they met that Kara was strong. She has defined arms, wide shoulders. The kind that let Lena know she could absolutely lift her up and pin her against a wall. But the way they flex and shift as Kara pulls the tire off and lifts the new one into place makes Lena genuinely, pathetically light-headed.

“Okay, now it’s your turn!”

That gets Lena’s attention.

Kara is looking at her expectantly, holding the wrench out as if Lena is supposed to know what to do with it, as if she hasn’t spent the last 15 minutes thinking about what Kara’s sweat tastes like instead of paying attention.

It’s fine. She can do this. She runs a goddamn tech company, she had her first PhD by 21, she can figure out how to change a tire

Just as Lena is bracing to take the tool, Kara’s earnest expression breaks into a grin, and then a full-blown giggle.

“Oh my god, your face –“

Realization dawns, and Lena smacks Kara on the arm.

“God, you really - you’re an asshole, you know that?” She huffs, but she can’t keep the half-smile off her face when she says it.

“Ah, yeah, but it’s worth it,” Kara chuckles, wiping a tear from her eye. She moves behind the counter, punching a few numbers into the decades-old cash register. When the numbers come up on the tiny screen, Lena sighs in exasperation.

“Kara, you undercharged me again.”

“It’s just the price of the tire. I took all that extra time teaching you, I’m not gonna charge you for labour,” Kara tries to wave off Lena’s protests, but Lena stands firm this time.

“I’m not going to let you fix my car for free again.”

Kara shakes her head. “Look, it was barely 10 minutes work –“

“I’m paying you, Kara, even if I have to punch the numbers into the terminal myself,” Lena says, wallet in hand. Kara seems to sense she’s outgunned, because she smiles, rubbing the back of her neck.

“Well, how about you just buy me coffee?”

 


 

Midvale only has one coffee shop – it’s attached to one of the two gas stations in town, positioned across the road from each other and constantly fighting over prices. Kara leads her there, Lena following behind Kara’s truck (which turns out to be some kind of classic model that she’s fixed up until the cherry red paint shines like it’s new), and lets her pay for the dark roast and five donuts she orders, leading Lena to a secluded table in the corner.

“There, now we’re even.”

“Because I paid for your $7 order? That doesn’t seem fair,” Lena says, scooping the bag out of her herbal tea and setting it on a napkin.

“Well, you’re also paying me with the pleasure of your company,” Kara says, and it’s entirely too earnest and sweet to be flirty, but Lena blushes anyways, taking a sip of her too-hot tea and burning her tongue to keep herself from giggling like an idiot.

“So, what do you think of Midvale so far?” Kara asks, taking a bite of her first donut. It leaves a little bit of powdered sugar on her chin, but Kara swipes it away as if she does this every day. Which, Lena thinks, she probably does.

How Kara keeps the body she has on her diet, Lena has no idea.

“It’s…different,” Lena edges, and Kara laughs.

“If you don’t like it, you can say so. Small towns aren’t for everyone.”

“I don’t dislike it!” Lena hurries to correct, and Kara raises an eyebrow. “It’s just so far from what I’m used to. Since I was adopted I haven’t lived anywhere but in a city.”

“You’re adopted?” Kara says, sounding strangely excited. “I am, too!”

It seems like too much of a coincidence. But Alex and Kara do look just a bit too different to be related, and Kara doesn’t seem like the type to lie.

“Really?” Lena asks, and Kara nods a little more solemnly.

“The Danvers took me in when I was 10. My parents died in a car crash, when we were driving into the city.”

Lena’s heart seizes for Kara. She can remember how scared she was as a 6 year old, losing her mother and being taken to a strange house full of cold, distant people, and she can only imagine how much harder it was to lose a family at age 10. Judging by her positive relationship with Alex, Kara had a much more positive adoptive family experience than Lena did, but still.

“Oh, Kara. I’m so sorry,” She says quietly, and Kara nods with a muted smile.

“It’s okay. I miss them, but I’m okay. They would have been okay if it wasn’t for a shoddy part in their car, so I grew up trying to fix cars to be better. You know? Keep people safer.”

The soft explanation reminds Lena of a prototype she’d been working on, until she put it aside for something else. A car that would revolutionize fuel usage and safety. But she doesn’t care enough about cars to do it herself, and her R&D team is back in Toronto.

Maybe she should look at it again.

“That’s really noble of you,” Lena says, taking a more moderate sip to tea, and Kara shrugs, stuffing the rest of her donut into her mouth and moving on to the next one.

“So, what do you do?” Kara asks, and Lena feels a shot of anxiety. “I’m realizing I don’t know much about you, besides that you moved here.”

Laughing nervously, Lena explains as best she can without completely revealing who she is. She wants a low profile here, and telling Kara that she’s Lena Luthor, billionaire CEO of the most influential tech company on the eastern seaboard, is inadvisable.

“I…work for a tech company in Toronto. Corporate,” She says instead, and thankfully Kara takes another huge bite of her sprinkle donut and doesn’t seem to question it.

“That explains the look,“ Kara says, gesturing vaguely at Lena’s clothes with sugary hands.

“What’s wrong with my clothes?” Lena asks, suddenly self-conscious.

“Nothing! They look amazing on you. You just definitely look like you’re ready for the boardroom.”

Lena looks down at herself. She’s wearing a pencil skirt and blouse, sure, and lipstick, and 6-inch heels –

“Okay, you have a point,” She admits, smoothing her skirt down.

“I’m just saying, if you’re going to live here, we dress for comfort!”

Maybe she does need new clothes. She hadn’t really considered how other people see her, but now that Lena thinks about it, it’s true – this seems to be a jeans and flannel kind of town, with few exceptions. Practical.

“I just came here for the summer, to unwind. My friends seem to think I work too much,” Lena grumbles, and Kara folds her arms appraisingly.

“You really bought a house by the lake just for a few months?”

Lena shrugs. “It seemed like a good investment.”

Kara shakes her head incredulously, starting on her third donut – a chocolate glazed, which she takes to with great enthusiasm.

“So, what do you do when you’re not calling me to fix your car?” Kara asks, her mouth only a little bit full. Lena should find it repulsive, but somehow on Kara it’s just cute.

Damn it.

“Well, I…I work, I suppose,” Lena admits, and Kara is immediately disbelieving.

“Seriously?”

“I like my work!”

She isn’t sure why she feels the need to defend herself to Kara. This is her vacation, and she can do what she wants to with it, even if that includes working. But Kara seems so aghast.

“Well sure, I like my work too, but I don’t do it on vacation!” Kara says, still seeming blown away by Lena’s work ethic.

“What else am I supposed to do?” Lena asks defensively, and immediately regrets it, because Kara seems to have a list of activities.

“There’s lots to do here! There’s a bowling alley, and a drive-in movie theatre 20 minutes down the highway –“

“A drive-in?” Lena interrupts, sceptical. “Like, from Grease? What year is it here?”

“And we have a big summer festival on the long weekend in July!” Kara continues determinedly. “Plus, there’s hiking in the woods around here –“

“Do I look like I hike?” Lena scoffs, and Kara laughs.

“You look like you need to learn how to have fun.”

Lena sighs, acknowledging the truth of the statement. She does need to learn how to relax. Sam and Jack encouraged her to leave the city to rest, and all she’s been doing is locking herself up and working on new projects. She enjoys it, definitely, but going out and doing things can’t be the worst thing in the world.

“Fine. What else do you suggest?”

They keep talking, Kara eating more pastries than Lena thought humanly possible and Lena daydreaming about what it would be like to kiss her sugary lips, until the exasperated cashier finally asks them to leave so the store can close.

When they step outside and the poor woman finally flips the sign over in the window, shutting out the lights, Kara laughs abashedly.

“I think I’m gonna have to give Imra a free oil change to make up for that,” She admits, and it makes Lena feel warm to know that Kara lost track of time, too.

“This was really fun,” Lena says hopefully, and Kara opens her mouth to respond, but she’s drowned out by the sudden cacophonous noise of two very loud trucks racing down the road.

One has a lightning decal on the side and hood and the other has tires that are clearly too big for the frame, and both have engines that are clearly unnecessarily powerful. Loud country music is blaring from the open windows, and whoever is driving the truck with the huge wheels waves at Kara, who notably doesn’t wave back. The person in the lightning truck, who looks to be a woman, gives her the finger.

They roar past the shop, ignoring the nearby stop sign and screeching around the corner until their noise finally fades.

“Sorry about them,” Kara mutters, unlocking her own truck and seemingly dropping what she was about to say before the interruption. “It’s just Mike and Leslie, they rip through here all the time. I keep telling them they’re gonna kill someone, but –“

“Leslie didn’t sound like the type to take advice,” Lena says, and Kara nods.

“She really isn’t. Never has been. And Mike’s a greasy skid, he doesn’t listen to anyone.”

Lena can sense a history there, but it doesn’t seem like the time to pry. So instead, Lena asks the other question that’s on her mind.

“Mike’s a what?”

Kara laughs. “A skid. You know, a duster.”

“Kara, I have no idea what those words mean.”

Kara laughs harder, to Lena’s irritation, but finally she uses a word Lena can understand. “It means he’s an idiot.”

“Why don’t you just say that?” Lena asks, exasperated, but Kara is already getting into her truck and turning the ignition.

“You’ll figure it out eventually. I gotta go, though, Alex needs me to open the shop up early tomorrow. Thanks for a really great night, Lena.”

For the second time, Lena watches Kara drive away – and, Lena realizes as the truck revs, she still didn’t ask Kara for her number.

Goddamnit.

Chapter Text

As it turns out, Lena is fully capable of warming to small-town life when Kara Danvers is involved.

Over the next few weeks, Lena socializes more than she has in her entire life. She’s introduced to Kara’s friends slowly – first Winn, James, and Brainy, and then later in the week she’s officially introduced to Alex when she runs into the two of them at the grocery store. The older Danvers is friendly and seems genuinely curious about her sister’s new acquaintance, but she definitely gives Lena’s outfit a pointed once-over.

And, Lena can admit, she does stand out. She’s always dressed the way she was expected to – high femme fatale, designer dresses and tailored pants, silk and cashmere and heels no less than 5 inches. It helped her blend in in the world of business, gave her authority in the boardroom, but here it just makes her feel ostentatious. And besides, part of her yearns to exist in something comfortable for the first time since before boarding school.

Besides the Wal-Mart almost an hour away, everyone in town seems to get their clothes from one shop, so after 4 weeks in Midvale Lena finally takes a look.

A tiny bell chimes as she pushes the door, and Lena startles when it seems to collide with something before it can open fully. A rack of sweaters seems to be the culprit, and as the door swings shut behind her, Lena can see why.

It’s the single most crowded shop she’s ever seen. Lena has driven past the storefront, with its slightly crooked sign reading “Dreamy Dress”, a hundred times - and judging by the amount of denim and flannel she sees on a regular basis here, she expected the selection to be sparse. What she finds instead is a store that’s a riot of colour. It more resembles an overfilled vintage store than anything else, with only a small section for practical work-clothes of the type she usually sees Kara in.

While Lena is still processing the surprising interior, a light voice chimes out through the quiet.

“Hiya! Can I help you with anything?”

The girl that ducks out from behind a rack of jeans is younger than Lena was expecting – she can’t be much older than 25, with bright eyes and a sweet smile and a little bit of powdered sugar on her chin. Lena finds herself warming to the girl immediately.

“No, I’m just looking. Thank you, though,” Lena says, and the girl nods, taking another bite of her donut.

“Just let me know!” She says, her mouth still slightly occupied, and Lena chuckles to herself as the girl disappears again.

The girl reminds her, strangely, of Kara.

Thumbing through the cramped rows of clothes, Lena is surprised at the quality of the things on display. Some labels she recognizes, others she doesn’t, and some things have no brand at all – when Lena pulls out an appealing jacket and scarf combination, she can’t find a brand tag anywhere.

“The prices are attached to the sleeves,” The girl says helpfully from somewhere behind Lena, and she turns around to see her folding shirts. She offers a friendly smile, and Lena holds the jacket and scarf up.

“I was actually looking for the brand,” She says, and Nia frowns.

“Oh! Well, that one’s mine.”

Lena blinks, looking at the jacket again. It’s a light brown suede, well-tailored and fitted, with a soft teal scarf attached, and if the girl hadn’t said so, Lena would never have thought it was made by hand.

“You made this?” She asks, and the girl nods a little bashfully.

“Yep! I have a little workshop upstairs. Some stuff people donate, some stuff I get from eBay, and I fix it all up and sell it – or, I make it myself. Like that one.” She says it with the air of someone who is proud of their work but doesn’t want to brag, and Lena warms to her even more.

“It’s beautiful. You have a real talent.”

A blush dusts the girl’s cheeks, and she laughs nervously. “Wow, thank you! I’m Nia, by the way.” She holds out a sugar-dusted hand to shake, and Lena takes it gladly.

“Lena.”

“I know!” Nia chirps, before wincing. “I mean, I was told about you.”

“You were?” Lena asks, a sudden nervousness taking over her chest. Does Nia know who she is? Her intent was to lay low here – if the town finds out she’s that Lena Luthor, CEO of a famous company and sister to a notorious murderer, her vacation might as well be over.

“Well, when someone new comes to town, word gets around,” Nia says quickly, and Lena takes a deep, relieved breath. “Kara told me about your car breaking down.”

“Right.” She shakes her head with a smile. It seems she’s destined to be known by everyone in town before she’s even met them, and not for the reasons she’s used to. Trust Kara to be the one to spread the news. “Of course she did.”

“Pardon me for saying so, but you don’t look like the kind of woman who needs new clothes,” Nia says, gesturing to Lena’s outfit. “You look amazing.”

“Well, no. But nothing I own is really appropriate. I discovered when I moved here that Boardroom Chic isn’t conducive to blending in in a small town.”

“That’s fair,” Nia says, nodding thoughtfully. “So, you’re looking for something more casual?”

“More comfortable, really,” Lena says, shrugging. “I can’t keep walking down my gravel driveway in stilettos.”

Nia laughs, and leads Lena towards a hidden corner of the shop. “This is where I keep most of my original pieces. They might be more to your tastes?”

The clothes on display are, amazingly, exactly what Lena is looking for. They’re understated but classy, simple cuts and colours in soft fabrics with nice accent pieces. Each of them looks good enough to be in a high-end store, but as she sorts through, most of them are priced like bargain sales.

Examining the immaculate stitching on a plain cotton blouse, Lena speaks up before Nia can disappear into the racks again. “These are incredibly low prices, Nia. You could make real money selling this stuff online, making a brand.”

Nia lets out a nervous guffaw, blushing and covering her mouth. “Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“I do,” Lena insists, holding up a jacket. “I don’t mean to brag, but I wear very expensive clothes, and this is high quality work.”

Nia turns fuchsia, and Lena decides to lay off before the poor girl faints.

“I’ll pay you double for all of this,” She says decisively, grabbing items and starting to piece together her new wardrobe. “Do you have a fitting room?”

“What?” Nia asks, looking shell-shocked. “Oh, gosh, no. I can’t let you do that.”

“I insist, Nia. I’m still paying you less than what it’s worth.”

It takes some persuasion, but Nia finally lets Lena pay and leave the store with a new collection of jeans, flat-soled leather boots, and over half of her stock of original items, along with a few sundresses and some tank tops for layering. She practically has to run the transaction through herself, but in the end she leaves with about 10 shopping bags and a very grateful Nia waving her out.

Nia also insisted Lena buy some shorts and sandals for the hot weather, not that she ever intends on wearing them.

She gets the chance to take her new clothes for a test run two nights later, when she’s driving back from the gas station and she sees Kara’s distinctive truck parked outside the bar again. If it weren’t for the fact that hanging out at the bar seems to be one of the only social activities in this town, Lena might think Kara had some kind of problem – but it seems like every other car in town is there, too, so Lena pulls in and finds a parking spot at the back.

It’s almost alarming, the way the smell of this bar is becoming familiar. It’s rowdier than usual, being a Friday night, and it takes Lena a moment to locate Kara, but soon enough she spots that blue hat and blonde ponytail at the loudest table in the place. Lena can see Winn and James, Brainy, Lucy, Alex, and a tall, barrel-chested man she’s never seen before gathered around Kara and another man, one she’s heard being called ‘Oliver’ at the coffee shop. They’re locked in an intense arm-wrestling match, both of their biceps shaking as they strain, and the group around them is shouting so loud that it might as well be a championship hockey game.

“Give ‘er, Kara!” Alex is yelling, taking a long pull from her beer bottle.

“Statistically speaking, there’s very little chance she’s going to beat Queen,” Brainy says to James, but the taller man just claps him on the shoulder.

“You’re underestimating our girl, here!”

Kara, for her part, seems to be completely ignoring the conversation. Her face is set in grim determination, every vein in her arm popping as she fights to keep it off the table. She exudes quiet confidence, and Lena wouldn’t believe it was possible for her to win against the brute across from her but she certainly seems to be gaining the upper hand. His arm is bending further back by the second, his face red and sweaty, and a few seconds later Kara slams it onto the table so voraciously that Lena is afraid the beers scattered across it are going to end up on the carpet.

Oliver smacks at the table with an open palm, almost spilling the drinks on it yet again, and a worried-looking Alex grabs at the bottles to move them out of the way.

“Pump the brakes there, Ollie, we’re all friends here,” Kara says, holding her hands up in a peaceful gesture. But Oliver doesn’t respond well. He stands up, towering over the table and elbowing Winn out of the way, and Kara visibly responds to the perceived threat.

“I want a rematch, Danvers. You had your arm set wrong, you fuckin’ cheater,” Oliver says, his voice sounding intentionally gravelly. But Kara stays calm, slowly standing up and crossing her arms. Even with the significant height difference, she can see Oliver visibly resist taking a step back at the palpable protective energy Kara gives off.

“Just admit you lost, bud,” She says, a warning in her tone. But Oliver seems to have a need to assert his masculinity after Kara kicked his ass, and he hits the table again.

“I don’t lose! I work out twice a day, I bench 260, I’m a brick shithouse, you didn’t beat me!” He says loudly, and thankfully, it seems like someone at the table has finally chosen this moment to intervene. The man Lena doesn’t know stands, revealing that he’s actually taller than Oliver, and talks to him in a low, soothing baritone.

“You’re gonna want to back off, son.”

The man’s presence seems to calm Oliver, but he still points aggressively at Kara.

“You’ve got the doc on your side this time, but I want a rematch,” He says, at a normal volume this time but still visibly angry. Kara waves him off, looking less protective now and more amused at his hypermasculine antics.

“Alright, if you wanna blow smoke, go have a dart.”

Oliver responds by hitting the bowl of pretzels off the table, sending them scattering across the floor, and storms away while Kara’s friends yell obscenities at him.

Watching Kara flex and compete had been one thing. It was attractive, and Lena couldn’t take her eyes away from those shoulders, but she could handle it. But watching Kara win? Watching her take down a man almost twice her size and barely break a sweat?

Lena, still trying to compute the situation beyond “Kara Danvers is very strong and could probably bench press my whole body”, stands in the doorway and wonders, not for the first time, if perhaps they speak an entirely different language in this town, because she only understood about half of the words that were exchanged.

Even so, her body makes its opinion known with a low, deep throb, and Lena is genuinely about to turn on her heel and go home to take care of it when Kara spots her.

“Lena!”

Doing her best not to wince, Lena makes her way over to the table. Everyone at it gives a friendly cheer when she pulls up a chair, which makes her feel warm in a different way.

 “Here again, I see,” She says to Kara as she settles into a wooden chair with uneven legs. It tips a little every time she shifts, and Kara chuckles at Lena’s annoyance over it.

“Yeah, but I’m not drinking tonight. It’s my turn to DD.”

The table gives a genial yell at that, and Lena finds herself more intrigued than ever by Kara Danvers. Apparently she’s kind, funny, and responsible.

Fantastic.

While Alex and James set up a game of pool and Winn and Lucy leave to watch, Lena listens idly and tries to participate in the conversation without drifting into visions of Kara’s arms flexing. Kara seems delighted that she’s met Nia, and compliments her on her new outfit – jeans and a green shirt that Nia said would bring out her eyes.

“You look amazing. Nia knows what she’s doing,” Kara says, giving Lena an appraising once-over that leaves her even more distracted than before.

“So, I didn’t look good before?” Lena teases, trying to deflect the praise, but Kara answers with brutal honesty.

“You didn’t look comfortable, that’s all.”

Thankfully, Lena is saved from having to answer that confusing reply. A cheer goes up by the pool table as Alex presumably takes the lead, and Kara suddenly seems to remember that there’s someone at the table that Lena hasn’t met.

“Oh! Lena, this is J’onn. He’s our doctor. Once of them, anyways,” Kara says, and Lena holds out her hand to shake. J’onn’s hand is gigantic, and there’s something reassuring about his smile.

“With the way you calmed that situation down, I would have thought you were a Sherriff,” Lena says with a smile, and J’onn laughs, deep and friendly.

“I just like to stop the injuries before I have to treat them. Not much happens up here, anyways. Just some drunk and disorderly’s and the occasional drunk driver. A donnybrook every so often.”

“A what?” Lena asks, but there’s another ruckus at the pool table that distracts from her question being answered. It looks like Alex has won, and Lena is genuinely shocked to see Winn plant a big, definitely not friendly kiss on James’ cheek as a consolation.

While J’onn goes over to congratulate Alex, Kara nudges her with an elbow.

“Never seen a couple before?” She says slyly, nodding at James and Winn, who are now wrapped in a hug. How on earth she didn’t notice the fact that they’re clearly a couple before is beyond her.

Lena startles at the nudge, blushing hotly. “No, I – I was just surprised.”

“About?”

“Well…don’t they get harassed, in a place like this?” Lena asks hesitantly, lowering her voice. Kara shakes her head.

“Nah. Everyone loves them together. They get invited to every potluck, and Winn is one of the best teachers at the school. Plus, he’s the only IT guy in town. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that he’s one of the only people here that can make tail end of a computer, but still.”

Lena smiles, nodding. The idea of a town this size actually being accepting of difference seems impossible, but here she is, sitting in a small town bar with a group that’s more racially and sexually diverse than her boardroom at L-Corp.

“So, people really accept them?” She asks, watching as James puts a firm hand on Winn’s back.

“They do. There are some idiots, of course, but not every small town has a backwards mentality,” Kara says, and Lena feels a little guilty for jumping to conclusions.

“You can’t blame me for assuming.”

“No, I can’t,” Kara agrees fairly. “But I wouldn’t live here if it was like that. And besides, it’s not just them. We have a lot of LGBT people here. Like, you know Alex is gay, right?“

Lena chuckles and looks over at Alex, who is currently celebrating her victory with two shots of tequila. “Well, yes, I assumed, considering she has a crush on Dr. Olsen. But I…I don’t know, I suppose I didn’t think there could be more than one in a town like this.”

“Well, it runs in the family,” Kara says, just a bit too casually. She’s got an arm over the back of the chair next to her, leaning back with total confidence, and the fact that Lena now knows without a doubt that she’s both painfully attractive and definitely gay is doing things to her psyche.

“…you?” She asks, a definite croak in her voice. She clears her throat, and Kara flashes a knee-weakening grin.

“You didn’t guess?”

Lena lets out a long breath, wringing her hands. “I…well, I suspected. But I didn’t think…”

“That I’d be open about it?” Kara finishes, and Lena inclines her head in response.

“More or less.”

“Well, I am,” Kara says easily, but her voice turns serious and quiet as she turns to Lena with a sombre expression.

“Are you?”

Lena laughs nervously, tucking her hair behind an ear. Kara’s intensity is sudden, and her chest feels tight with the impending reveal. “I would have thought you’d have googled me by now.”

It is genuinely surprising to her that, after more than a month in this town, nobody has so much as looked her up on social media. She’s not even hard to find – the media had a field day after Lex’s arrest, and Sam insists on a certain amount of activity on the internet to convince people she isn’t her brother. All Kara would have to do is google her name and she’d find everything – her job, her family, her last 3 public romantic entanglements, the last of which ended catastrophically when she found out about Veronica’s clandestine fight club operation.

“I wanted to get to know you the old-fashioned way,” Kara grins, giving her a gentle push on the shoulder. “Besides, I’ve never googled anyone I know. Have you?”

Clearing her throat, Lena switches to the easier part of that statement. “Well, yes. I am. Open, that is. I wasn’t, for a long time, but…I thought that maybe it was about time I did one thing for myself.”

“Do you not do things for yourself?”

Lena snorts. “I was raised to believe I was selfish if I so much as spent an hour not doing something to better myself. Studying, inventing, helping my brother. Doing things just for myself is…not in my nature.”

Kara looks at her thoughtfully. There’s something deep in her eyes, something appraising, and Lena does her best to measure up.

“So, then…what really brings you here?” Kara finally asks, and Lena sighs. It’s a question she still asks herself on a daily basis, and for the first time, she admits to someone besides Sam and Jack why she actually came here.

“I suppose I’m trying to change that. Trying to…learn to relax,” Lena says, shrugging self-deprecatingly. “Self-care, and all that garbage.”

Kara nods, and Lena is surprised at how immediately she seems to understand.

“Well, let me help you.”

“How?” Lena asks, arching a brow. Kara just smiles.

“Are you free tomorrow night?”

 


 

“When you asked if I was free, I didn’t think that driving out to the middle of nowhere was on the agenda.”

Lena’s voice is shaky, not out of nerves, but because the road (if you could call it that – it’s really more of a two-wheel dirt path through the woods) is absurdly bumpy. If anyone else but Kara had told Lena to meet her at the edge of town and then instructed her to park her car and get into the truck to drive into the forest, she would have pointed her taser at them, but with Kara she didn’t even think twice.

That fact should probably be alarming in itself.

“Trust me, it’s worth it,” Kara assures her with complete confidence. She’s leaned back comfortably in the driver’s seat, One hand on the wheel and the other on the gear shift, and the bumps in the road don’t seem to phase her at all – her ponytail bounces cheerfully with every one. She catches Lena’s eye and flashes her a grin, and Lena quickly averts her gaze to look out the window.

“Do you listen to anything but country music?” Lena asks, trying to live in a world where she wasn’t just caught staring. “I know we’re rural up here, but it seems a little excessive.”

“I like classic rock, too,” Kara says easily, turning the volume down. “And I had a brief pop-punk phase when I went to university. A lot of studying to Blink-182.”

Lena frowns, looking over at Kara again.

“You went to university?”

“You sound surprised,” Kara says with a knowing grin.

“Well, I – it’s just that, you’re a mechanic. It doesn’t require a university degree. Where did you go? What did you study?” Lena asks, still trying to wrap her mind around the fact that Kara is university educated.

“English, at Queens. And I got a Masters in Journalism from Western.”

Lena blinks silently for a moment. She herself went to school outside the country, attending boarding school in Ireland and getting her degrees from international schools like MIT and Cambridge, but even she knows that those two schools are fairly prestigious here.

“You have a Masters?” She finally asks, but before Kara can answer the probably offensive incredulity in Lena’s question, the truck emerges from the shaded woods and into the late day sunlight.

“We’re here!”

Here turns out to be an open, grassy field on the crest of a gentle slope with a lone, towering maple tree in the centre. Lena can see some kind of wood structure in the branches, and Kara backs the truck in directly underneath it, grinning as she cuts the engine.

“Welcome to the Danvers Clubhouse.”

“The what?” Lena asks, but Kara has already opened the door.

“Alex and I built this when we were kids,” Kara explains, climbing out of the truck and pointing at the platform and small shack-like walls above them. “We used to dirtbike here. It’s always been my favourite place in town. Not many other people know where it is, so I come here to think. Or calm down.”

“It’s beautiful,” Lena says, as she jumps down from the tall truck seat onto the grass. And, it is – not the structure itself, necessarily, which has a child’s earnest artistic vision about it, but the surrounding vista is strangely breathtaking. The hill starts to slope down just past the tree, so it opens up the sprawling, hilly landscape beyond. It’s green as far as the eye can see, grass and cornfields and forest until the hills meet the blue sky, and the afternoon sun is going down directly in front of them.

“Yeah. Alex and I used to try to sleep here, but Eliza always came out and made us come home,” Kara says, looking up at the tree fondly.

“Is that your mother?” Lena asks. She knows Kara is adopted, but she knows so little about both Kara’s biological and adoptive families, and she can’t help but be curious. 

Kara hesitates for only a moment, but Lena notices. There’s something in the question that gave Kara pause. Lena senses a complicated answer, one that has the oppourtunity to let Kara talk about her family, but it seems like Kara isn’t quite ready yet.

“Yeah, it is,” She replies simply, and Lena nods, deciding not to pursue it. Kara seems deeply relieved.

“Anyways, it’s the best place in town to relax,” Kara continues, fishing around behind the tree and coming out holding a long stick.

“In the middle of a field?” Lena asks, skeptical, while Kara determinedly uses the stick to hook a weathered-looking rope ladder and swing it down.

“Yeah! Come on,” Kara says, holding out a hand with a bright, expectant look on her face, and with only a bit of hesitation Lena takes it.

Climbing the swinging, rickety rope ladder is an experience, and not for the first time Lena is grateful that Nia nudged her into buying flat-soled boots. When she finally she reaches the top with Kara’s help, the treehouse itself isn’t much better. It creaks worryingly when she takes a step, but Kara doesn’t seem to notice, too wrapped up in childlike excitement.

“James made us that table out of milk crates,” Kara is saying, pointing at the contraption in the corner of the sheltered part of the treehouse. “We would bring backpacks full of food out here and pretend we were stuck in the wilderness. Over there we’d pile blankets into a nest, and Winn would read to us.”

“Is that why he became a teacher?” Lena asks, imagining a young Winn dramatically reading Robinson Crusoe in a tiny and authoritative voice to his captive audience. The idea makes her smile.

“I never thought of it like that,” Kara says, thoughtfully. “Maybe it is.”

Kara leans against a branch, crossing her legs at the ankle, and the movement reveals something behind her.

“Kara, why are some of the branches gone?”

Kara twists around to see what Lena is pointing at, and waves off Lena’s question easily. “We used to have a swing on that branch, but then it broke. And that one was our old ladder, but it broke too.”

“Maybe that should have been a warning sign,” Lena mutters, feeling the wood move with every step, but Kara just pulls her by the hand towards the edge of the platform.

“You worry too much. Come, sit.”

It is a very pretty view, Lena can admit. The extra height means they can see more, and the shade of the thick leaves keeps them out of the hot sun. Lena can see names carved into the solid bark of the tree trunk nearby – Kara and Alex, scratched in close together, alongside a blocky James and a neat, almost cursive Winn. Lucy is written from top to bottom, like an acronym, and beside it is Brainy, written in precise capital letters.

Underneath the other names, there’s a spot where a name has clearly been scratched out. It’s rough and imprecise, as if several hands were hacking at it at once, and underneath it in large, clear letters, surrounded by a deeply-carved heart, is Nia.

Lena logs that information away, but there isn’t much time to dwell on it. A gentle breeze blows through the field and Lena can feel the whole structure shift.

“I don’t exactly feel safe up here,” She says, squeezing Kara’s hand, and Kara laughs easily.

“Okay, come on. I’ve got beer in the truck.”

The sun is starting to set when Kara opens the tailgate and hauls a cooler onto it, pulling it open and gesturing Lena over. “I have Labatt and Canadian.”

“Are those…my only options?” Lena says, arching a brow, and Kara snorts.

“Oh, don’t be a snob. Here.”

Kara cracks open a beer and hands it to her, grabbing one for herself and hopping up to sit on the tailgate. She pats the space next to her, and with a sigh Lena follows her.

“I’ve always loved watching the sunset from here,” Kara says, taking a sip. “It feels like I’m the only person on earth.”

“Except me,” Lena says absently, busy watching the way Kara’s lips move around the mouth of the bottle. Kara laughs.

“Except you. I just thought you might like it here, Miss I-Don’t-Relax.”

“I can – I know how to – okay, you know what, shut up,” Lena huffs, fighting a blush. Kara, to her credit, does shut up, taking a long swig of beer instead. They take in the sunset in comfortable quiet, Kara’s dangling legs swinging back and forth. The whole field and the forest beyond are bathed in an orange glow, the sun sinking behind the horizon and leaving in its wake a sky full of the brightest stars Lena has ever seen. They almost seem to shimmer, the Milky Way visible in real life for the first time.

“Wow,” She breathes quietly, as Kara lights a citronella candle to keep the worst of the bugs away. “I’ve never seen stars like this. And I studied astrophysics.”

“They come out real bright when there’s no streetlamps. I thought you studied engineering?” Kara asks, frowning in confusion. Lena nods, still looking up.

“I have 5 degrees.”

There’s a pause, and Lena finally pulls her eyes away from the stars to see Kara staring at her like she has 3 heads.

“In what?” Kara finally asks, incredulous, and Lena clears her throat self-consciously.

“Mechanical engineering, astrophysics, biochemistry, mathematics, and business,” She rattles off, and Kara stares at her again. Lena shifts, tearing nervously at the label of her bottle. Now is the time where people usually get uncomfortable. Every date she’s ever been on has had this moment, where they realize who she is and what she does, and the reaction is usually either a sudden lack of interest or an onslaught of bragging from the other party in an attempt to out-do her.

But Kara just shakes her head, the wheels clearly turning in her brain.

“…how old are you?”

Lena barks out a laugh. “How old do you think I am?”

“Well I assumed you were my age, but with that much education you must be, like…a vampire or something,” Kara says, her beer bottle hanging forgotten in her loose fingers.

Lena shakes her head, fighting a blush. “I’m 31.”

“You’re a year younger than me and you have 5 degrees?” Kara says, whistling long and low. “That is…seriously impressive. How did you manage that?”

Lena lets out a relieved breath. Kara doesn’t seem intimidated, not does she start bringing up her own achievements in a self-conscious wordvomit. She just seems impressed, and interested. It’s…entirely disarming.

“I started my undergrad when I was 16. I finished my last degree when I was 25, and I worked for a biomedical startup with my best friends, and then…um.”

Lena hesitates, her beer label now completely shredded. She trusts Kara, more quickly and completely than probably anyone else she’s ever met, but even so she’s reticent to pull the "I’m that Lena Luthor” card. Even if it’s going to burst at the end of the summer, she wants to preserve this little bubble of normalcy she’s found.

“And then I went into business,” She finishes vaguely. “And now I’m…tired.”

“I don’t blame you. Your life sounds exhausting.”

Kara says it with genuine concern, and Lena finds herself opening up despite her usual instincts. “Nobody’s ever put it that bluntly before. But…yes, it is.”

“I mean, I couldn’t do what you do. Science, and business. I always wanted to go part-time at the shop and restart the town newspaper, but there isn’t really enough funding to get it out of the grave. And besides, Alex needs a lot of help, since we’re the only shop in town.”

They sit in silence for a few moments, just taking in the beautiful view. There are crickets singing, and branches rustling in the breeze, and some kind of chirping animal in the long grass, and in the distance she can hear a long, mournful howl. The smell of citronella and fresh night air is more revitalizing than a cup of morning coffee.

It’s beautiful, and worth seeing. But her mind can’t stop focusing on what Kara told her. Finally, quietly, she speaks up.

“Kara, can I just ask…what are you doing here?”

Kara shrugs, taking a sip of beer. “Eliza asks me that too, sometimes. Always tells me I could do bigger and better things. My cousin went to Toronto to be a journalist, and he likes it, but it’s just…not for me.”

“You could do bigger things. There are dozens of places where you could put your degrees to use,” Lena says, but Kara shrugs again.

“I know. But…sometimes life isn’t about bigger and better things. Sometimes it’s just about being happy. And this place…makes me happy.”

Lena has to take a moment to consider that. Putting happiness, genuine happiness, above ambition or responsibility has never been an option for her. The Luthors drilled a sense of duty into her from the day she was adopted, a duty to make the family look good, and she’s taken it like a heavy mantle. But Kara just…chose happiness. And freedom.

“I like it here,” Kara continues. “I love the people, I love being away from the city. It’s so loud and chaotic there, and everyone is only looking out for themselves.”

Lena nods. She can’t argue the point. It’s part of why she left, after all.

“Besides, Alex needed help with the shop,” Kara finishes. Lena, still in awe of the fact that Kara just chose not to rise up the ladder even though she’s clearly so intelligent, can’t help but ask.

“It’s just hard to believe you’d waste your Journalism degree on being a mechanic.”

Immediately, she winces. She knows exactly how condescending she just sounded. She could hear Lillian in her words, and it tastes like poison.

“I’m so sorry, Kara,” She says immediately, her chest seizing up. “I didn’t mean – you’re not wasting anything. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way –“

“It’s okay,” Kara reassures her, putting a hand on her thigh, but Lena shakes her head, guilt and shame crashing through her chest like a tidal wave.

“No, I sounded like my mother. I’m so sorry. You’re…you’re wonderful, and you don’t deserve me acting like an ass.” Lena is fully ready to wallow in self-deprecation, but Kara doesn’t let her. She puts a hand on her shoulder and shakes it gently until Lena makes eye contact.

“Lena, honestly. It’s okay. I know it seems unconventional, but…I’m just good with cars. I wish I could do more writing, sure – but for now, I’m happy. And that’s enough for me.”

Lena relaxes slightly, and in lieu of saying something even more stupid, she finishes her slightly warm beer off with a wince at the bitter flavour. Kara, bless her soul, changes the subject.

“Come on, I’ve got some blankets in the truck. We can lay them out and you can tell me more about celestial mechanics.”

“How do you know what celestial mechanics are?” Lena blurts as Kara shoves her hand through a tiny hatch in the back window and pulls out a pile of fabric. Kara winks, laying them out over the hard plastic of the truck bed.

“I took an Astronomy elective. You should challenge your misconceptions, Miss Luthor.”

For a long time, that title – Miss Luthor – has made Lena everything from uncomfortable to anxious. It’s come from governesses, strict teachers, business partners, and underlings. It’s been said with anger, hatred, condescension, and with anxious awe. But coming from Kara, with all its usual strings and undercurrents removed, it feels different.

It doesn’t bother her at all.

Together they settle on their backs, a blanket pulled up over their legs, and look at the sky. Kara points out constellations, telling Lena the childish myths and stories she had never heard before despite her astrophysics degree, and in return Lena relays the scientific names of the brightest ones, taking advantage of actually being able to see them all.

She falls asleep to Kara’s voice, low and soothing, telling her the story of Perseus and Andromeda, and she sleeps deeper than she has in months.

Unfortunately, she wakes up in a much less pleasant way – stiff, damp, and itchy.

The sky is light but the sun hasn’t quite risen yet, a light mist hovering over the long grass around the truck and clinging to the blades and making them glisten. But it also clings to her own clothes and skin, and she shivers absently as she stretches her numb arm out and flexes her cold fingers.

Beside her, Kara stirs, and there’s a cute frown on her face when she opens her eyes.

“Shit,” She says, blinking rapidly and sitting up. “Shit, I didn’t mean to fall asleep. You must be freezing. Come on, I’ll drive you home.”

”It’s f-fine,” Lena insists through chattering teeth, but Kara bundles get up into the cab of the truck anyways.

Kara drops her off at her door, waving as she backs down the driveway to get to work, and Lena reflects on the night. She fixes herself a cup of coffee and a hot water bottle, scratching at one of what feels like 30 bug bites on every exposed part of her body, but even that doesn’t dampen her mood. Despite the discomfort, the night actually felt strangely worth it.

Three days later, when Lena is curled up in bed with the worst cold she’s had since college, she re-evaluates her initial assessment.

“Stupid outdoors,” Lena grumbles raspily, blowing her nose for the thousandth time. “Stupid treehouse, stupid cold –“

She’s congested and sore and grumpy, but even so, she knows she’d probably do it all again.

She’s interrupted from her misery by something vibrating under her pillow. Fishing around for the source, she pulls out her phone, where Jack’s contact photo is flashing with an incoming call.

Pressing the talk button, she flops back onto the pillows again.

What,” She groans, and Jack laughs on the other end.

“Jesus, darling, you sound like you went on a cigar binge. Are you alive?”

“I’m sick,” Lena mutters, sniffling miserably. “Leave me alone.”

“You’re sick?” Sam’s voice echoes in the distance, and Lena sighs. Never one without the other. “You never get sick. How did you get sick?”

“Fell asleep outside,” She says into her pillow, but even muffled, they pick up on it.

“How the hell did you manage that?” Sam asks, and Lena sighs.

“I was…stargazing. With Kara.”

“Who the fuck is Kara?” Jack says, and Lena sincerely wishes he was here, specifically so she could punch him.

“The mechanic!” Sam hisses, and Jack seems to understand.

Oh! Wait. Did you -?!” Jack exclaims, and Lena can hear Sam gasp.

“Lena!” Sam yells, but before they can build up a head of steam, Lena cuts them off.”

“We didn’t have sex!”

There’s a moment of silence so profound that Lena is surprised crickets haven’t manifested just to drive it home.

“Okay, you lost me,” Sam says, and Lena sighs heavily.

“We went stargazing, and we fell asleep in the bed of her truck.”

“So, let me get this straight,” Jack says slowly, and Lena struggles not to cough obnoxiously. “You slept together without sleeping together? Outside? And you ended up sick? I think you’re doing this wrong, honey.”

“You must really be hung up on this girl,” Sam says, sounding a little too suspicious for Lena’s liking.

“Shut up,” She groans, the sick headache she’s had all morning building ever higher with every word.

“I’m just speaking the truth! She must be really hot. Send me a picture,” Sam insists, and in her mind’s eye she can just see Sam pulling out her phone in anticipation.

“I don’t have a picture.”

“Okay, link her Instagram or something.”

“She doesn’t have one,” Lena says, and Jack makes an indignant noise.

What?”

“Nobody here does!” Lena protests, and Jack’s horror only grows.

“What kind of hellish town did you move to?” He asks, and Lena rolls over, feeling strangely defensive.

“I actually sort of like it. Nobody is trying to make other people feel bad about their lives by posting half-lies on social media. Instead, they lie in person. It’s refreshing,” She says, taking a sip of her lukewarm tea and making a face. She swings her legs over the side of the bed and tucks the phone against her ear, padding downstairs to make another cup.

Sam snorts. “Are you okay, Lena? Did you drink the hoser kool-aid up there?”

“I didn’t drink anything,” Lena insists, filling the kettle. “It’s just a nice vacation. Besides, you made me come up here!”

“As long as you don’t get all redneck indoctrinated and abandon us,” Jack says, and Lena snorts. As if she’d ever abandon L-Corp. She put her whole soul into reviving the company, and she won’t leave just because she’s having a relaxing break.

“Never. I’ll be back soon.”

Just as the kettle whistles the doorbell chimes loudly, ringing through the house, and Lena frowns in the direction of the front door.

“I have to go, guys. I’ll call you later this week,” She says, and she can hear Jack and Sam protesting, but she hangs the phone up anyways, dropping it on the counter to answer the door. The last person she expects to see when it opens is Lucy, the owner of the local restaurant, but she’s there nonetheless.

“Special delivery,” The shorter woman says cheerfully, holding out a plastic tub of what looks like soup.

Lena blinks, taking the tub and trying to process what’s happening right now. She’s never said more than 5 words to Lucy, only really encountering her when she grabs a quick dinner or when Lucy is at the bar with everyone else, and there’s no fathomable reason she should be here right now.

The tub is still hot, and the shock of it helps her remember where she is.

“Lucy!” She says, clearing her throat of the sick rasp. “What are you doing here?”

“Kara had to work, but she asked if I could bring you some soup,” Lucy replies easily, pointing at the container.

“Kara’s working? Isn’t she sick too?” Lena asks, frowning and setting the tub down on the hall table next to her.

“She is, but she hates taking days off.”

Lena sighs. That sounds like Kara, all right. The whole time Lena has been here, she’s never known a day that Kara wasn’t at the shop.

“Anyways, enjoy it! House-made matza ball. It’s actually Eliza’s recipe,” Lucy explains. Lena peers down at the soup, seeing the floating dumplings she hadn’t noticed before.

“Kara’s mother?” Lena asks, and Lucy nods.

“Adopted mother, yeah,” She says, passingly, as if Lena should know this already. “She lets me sell it in exchange for free catering on high holy days.”

The fact that Kara’s family is Jewish is another thing that Lena feels like she should know, and in thinking that, she realizes that she really doesn’t know much about the woman she spends a fair amount of time thinking about. Kara likes to ask her questions about herself, but besides that initial coffee after Kara changed her tire, she hasn’t had much oppourtunity. Even last night, it was mostly Kara asking the questions.

Lena makes a mental note: pay more attention.

“Well, um. Tell her I said thank you,” Lena says, stifling a cough in her elbow, and Lucy moves back a few steps with an alarmed look.

“Can’t you tell her yourself?”

“I…don’t have her number,” Lena admits haltingly.

Lucy looks at her blankly for a second, until she bursts out into loud, raucous laughter. She bends almost double, the mirth apparently too much for her, and Lena has to wait a minute before Lucy is quiet enough to talk to again.

“What’s so funny?”

Lucy just wipes her eyes, shaking her head. “Of course you don’t have her number. You’re all the damn same.”

Who’s all the same?” Lena asks, but Lucy is already waving, on her way to her car. Before she makes it down, though, she stops on the stairs and looks at Lena thoughtfully.

“You know, I’ve never seen Kara like this before,” She says, and Lena frowns.

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve seen her flirt, and I’ve seen her with girls who are just passing through,” Lucy clarifies. “This is different. It’s just…it’s interesting, that’s all.”

With that cryptic message Lucy leaves, and Lena closes the door feeling like someone just yanked the floor out from under her.

And, the soup is delicious.

 


 

Lena’s cold is thankfully gone by the end of the week. She spends most of her recovery time wanting to message Kara and thank her for the delicious soup, but absurdly, after two months of knowing her, Lena still doesn’t have her number.

Luckily, she runs into the object of her thoughts the first time she ventures out of her plague-ridden house. There’s a tap on her shoulder when she’s in line at the grocery store, excited to eat something besides soup and Powerade, and she turns around to see a grinning Kara, covered head-to-toe in green stains and tiny bits of grass.

“Hey! Feeling any better?” She says cheerfully, her own cold seemingly gone. Lena relaxes immediately, and tries not to think about what it means that Kara’s presence has started to coincide with a feeling of absolute safety.

“I am, actually,” Lena replies, shifting her shopping basket to the other arm. “I’ve been meaning to thank you for the soup. I’ve never had matza ball before.”

Kara leans close, as if she’s about to share a secret. “Eliza always says it’s our Jewish penicillin.”

Lena snorts, and Kara seems pleased with herself as they both move up a spot in line.

“So, how exactly did…this happen?” Lena says, gesturing at Kara’s whole body. Kara looks down at herself, grinning.

“I actually have the day off, so I decided I’d mow my lawn. And then I mowed my neighbour’s lawn, and then the girl across the street was having trouble with her mower, so I helped her out. And in the process, the clipping bag sort of…exploded.”

Lena laughs, picturing Kara being showered in grass and dirt, smiling the whole way. It’s extremely in-character for the blonde, as is mowing her neighbour’s lawn just because she felt like it.

“A perfectly reasonable explanation.”

“Thank you!” Kara says brightly, either ignoring or entirely missing the sarcasm. “What are you up to today?”

“Well…this, actually,” Lena says, pointing at her basket.

“Wanna get some ice cream? It’s the best in town. Probably the best in the country,” Kara says, starting to load her things onto the conveyor. “It’s such a nice day for it.”

“You want to get ice cream all covered in grass clippings?” Lena says, raising a brow.

Kara looks down at herself again, as if she’d forgotten that every piece of clothing she’s wearing is stained green. “Oh. Right. Well, how about I go change, and you take your groceries home, and we meet up here?”

20 minutes later she pulls in next to Kara, now dressed in much cleaner jeans and an oversized t-shirt with her ever-present hat perched over her ponytail, and accepts that she’ll never be able to say no to this woman.

“So, where is this amazing ice cream?” Lena asks, as Kara leads her down towards the main street. “Is there some company I don’t know about that makes it specifically for tiny town in rural Ontario?”

Kara shakes her head. “No, it’s homemade! M’gann runs this little stand during the summer. She makes it herself, but she’s not always here, so you pretty much have to just go there and hope.”

“She just…works whenever she wants to?” Lena asks skeptically, as Kara leads her down a grassy slope beside the laundromat. It leads them to a paved path that runs along the river, and suddenly the relative noise of main street is cut off, leaving just the calming sounds of birds and the running water.

It seems, suddenly, very romantic.

“Pretty much. She also runs this place, and owns the apartments above it, so she keeps herself busy,” Kara says, pointing at the laundromat beside them and seeming not to notice the way Lena has stiffened slightly. “Oh, she’s here! Yes!”

Kara wasn’t exaggerating when she called it a little stand. It’s essentially a pop-up tent with an ice cream freezer underneath it, set up on the section of paved path that runs between the back door of the laundromat and the general store beside it. There are two picnic tables set up on the grassy area close to the river, and one of them is already occupied.

“Brainy! Nia! What are you doing here?” Kara calls, waving, and both of the people in question suddenly sit stiffly upright.

Lena can relate. Kara, however, seems strangely delighted by the pair’s presence. She’s smiling ear-to-ear, and she shoots Nia a wink that makes her blush terribly.

“We are….just having some ice cream. Casually,” Brainy says, a bit too loudly, and Nia’s blush fades into a sad, disappointed sort of look. And suddenly, Lena understands.

“Right. Casually,” Nia says, looking down at her mostly-empty cup. “I should be getting back to work, actually. Thanks for the ice cream.”

She throws her cup in a nearby garbage can, and leaves with a quick wave at both of them. Brainy, Lena notices, looks after her with a sort of longing that she finds far too relatable.

“They’ve been dancing around each other for forever,” Kara says quietly in Lena’s ear, as Brainy waves his goodbye and leaves. “I keep telling Brainy to just ask her out already, but he’s too nervous.”

“Why?” Lena asks. “They’d be sweet together.”

“I know!” Kara says, throwing her hands up. “But he’s worried she won’t want to be seen with him. He’s sort of self-conscious about his Asperger’s. I’ve told him time and time again that Nia likes him the way he is, but he doesn’t believe me. Hence that whole…debacle.”

Lena nods, the situation making increasingly more sense.

“I had no idea this town was so full of secret relationships,” She says, and she has to turn her full attention to the ice cream tubs when Kara winks at her.

“We’re surprisingly romantic, Lena.”

Don’t blush. Don’t blush. Don’t fucking blush.

Thankfully, they’re interrupted by the woman under the tent, who waves Kara over enthusiastically. Her curly hair is loose and free, and she looks completely in her element lounging in the tent on a sunny day.

“Hey, Kara! I was just thinking I haven’t seen enough of you this summer,” M’gann says, and Lena is struck by her stunning smile. This town seems to have an unnatural ratio of beautiful people, and Lena wonders if perhaps there’s something in the water up here.

“I know, I know. I’ve been working!” Kara says, raising her hands in surrender.

“You work too much,” M’gann scolds, and Lena has to agree. “Who’s your pretty friend?”

“This is Lena. She’s here for the summer,” Kara says, slinging a casual arm over Lena’s shoulders that threatens to make her spontaneously combust. M’gann nods, seeming to accept that at face value. Lena shakes the hand M’gann holds out, and tries to look as friendly as she can when all she’s thinking about is that Kara’s hand is on her upper arm.

“Look out for this one,” M’gann warns playfully, moving back behind the freezer and pointing at Kara. “She’s a heartbreaker.”

“I am not!” Kara protests, her arm sliding off Lena’s shoulder to gesture. Lena relaxes, but part of her is disappointed.

“Sure, sure. You want your regular?”

“You know it. What are you having, Lena?” Kara asks. Lena, having not been paying any actual attention to the ice cream until right now, is suddenly overwhelmed with choice.

The flavours aren’t what she was expecting. Instead of chocolate or strawberry, there’s things like café du leche, mango pineapple, earl grey, and something called ‘cereal milk’. M’gann starts scooping one of each flavour onto a towering waffle cone for Kara, and Lena finally decides on a flavour – in the front corner is a tub labelled ‘specialty flavour’, and it’s a riot of rainbow swirls.

“I’ll take that one,” She says, and M’gann nods, handing Kara her precarious cone. She scoops a few servings of it into a cup and hands it to her, giving her the thumbs up.

“Happy Pride!” She says, and Lena blinks. M’gann quickly clarifies.

“It’s my June specialty flavour, for pride month. But it’s Kara’s favourite, so I usually keep it around for a little longer.”

Kara nods, mouth already full of her first scoop.

When they take a seat on the now empty picnic table, Lena takes her own first bite, and she can’t stifle the groan that slips out.

“Oh my god,” She says, licking off her spoon, “Pride tastes amazing.” It’s fruity and creamy and delicious, and she immediately goes for another spoonful.

She looks up from her second bite to see Kara staring at her, a dazed look on her face and melted ice cream dripping down her cone onto her wrist.

“Kara?” Lena asks, and Kara seems to snap out of it. She takes an enormous bite of ice cream, and Lena laughs when she immediately winces in a telltale brainfreeze-face.

“Speaking of Pride,” Kara says when she finally gets through the mouthful, pointing at Lena’s cup, “It’s coming up this weekend. Are you gonna be there?”

“You guys do Pride here?” Lena is starting to feel like nothing should shock her anymore about this town, but even so, there are whole cities elsewhere that don’t have Pride celebrations, let alone tiny towns like this.

“Of course! We don’t have a parade or anything, but we always have a big party at the Livewire. Half-price drinks for all the gays,” Kara says casually, and Lena snorts into her bowl.

“How many gay people can there possibly be here?”

Just as Kara promised, the Midvale Pride Party happens a few days later, and Lena pushes open the door of the Livewire to a completely different bar. It’s been festooned with streamers and paper chains in dazzling rainbow colours, the old karaoke stage cleaned up and decorated with decals and sparkly curtains. There’s a green feather boa wrapped around the mic stand, and Kara is standing under a huge rainbow made of connected balloons in her usual ponytail, white jeans, and a ribbed tank top under a flannel. There’s no hat this time, but she does have several feathers sticking out of her hair in the arrangement of the lesbian flag.

Lena feels suddenly warm, and at the same time she realizes she’s the only person in the room not wearing some kind of lgbtq paraphernalia.

“Lena, hey! I’m so glad you came!”

Kara, as usual, spots her right away, and Lena smooths down her plain t-shirt self-consciously. She’s pulled into a warm hug right away, and she’s a little breathless when she responds.

“Thanks for inviting me. Why do you look like Freddie Mercury?”

Kara just laughs and doesn’t answer, putting a hand on Lena’s lower back and guiding her towards their usual table.

It’s not a crowded corporate parade or a weekend of drunken partying like Lena is used to, but a small, rowdy gathering where Lena actually feels like she’s having a good time. Nia is there with the trans pride flag painted on her cheeks, and James and Winn are wearing matching shirts that say “Schottsy and the J-Man, rockin’ it since 2012”. Kelly is there in the most relaxed clothes Lena has yet seen her in, and Alex is standing nearby clearly trying not to stare. Lucy is there, a proud bi pride flag tied around her head like a sweatband, and even Leslie is serving drinks in a rainbow romper.  

“This is the highest concentration of not-straight people I’ve ever seen in a town with a population of 1500,” Lena remarks as James goes up to get more drinks, and Kara smiles proudly.

“Yeah, we’re pretty gay here.”

A few drinks later, when more people join their table and Lena is forced to scoot so close to Kara that their thighs press together and she can feel the searing heat of her skin, Lena is feeling pretty gay too.

“Hey, Lena! Want a flag?” Lucy yells over the music, offering a variety of stickers over the table. Everything from the pansexual flag to a little sticker that reads ‘ally’ are available, and there’s an appraising look in Lucy’s eye that tells Lena this is her way of asking without asking.

Everyone else at the table seems to be pretending not to watch, but Lena doesn’t mind. With a sure, slightly drunk hand she plucks the lesbian flag from the sticker sheet and sticks it to her shirt, and there’s a genial cheer from the table in response.

“I knew it,” Lucy crows, clapping Lena on the shoulder, and Kelly reaches over for a high-five. Kara, beside her, just smiles knowingly.

The disruption is itself disrupted by the bell on the bartop ringing a few times, and Leslie yelling. “Anyone who’s performing, get your asses to the stage.”

“Kara, the contest is starting!” Winn says, pulling a long, fluffy feather boa and a pair of red cowgirl boots out of a duffel bag Lena hadn’t noticed before.

“Oh, awesome!”

Kara reaches down into the same duffel and pulls something out, winking as she applies what turns out to be a fake moustache. “Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er.”

Kara disappears backstage with Winn, and Lena is left blinking at the spot she disappeared from.

“…what?”

Part of Midvale Pride, it turns out, is a talent show of sorts. Everyone does their own little karaoke performance, and the winner gets decided by a vote, with a prize of free pizza for a week from the place next door. Winn does a campy interpretation of ‘Redneck Woman’, at one point laying himself across the laps of the entire front row. Nia does a classic Spice Girls anthem (which Brainy claps disproportionately loud for), James does an emotional rendition of Whitney Houston, and Alex gets dragged on stage to do a reluctant Pat Benetar.

By the looks of it, Kara is up last. The singular light on stage swings around dramatically a few times before settling on the centre, and from the makeshift wings steps Kara.

Lena isn’t quite sure how to react.

Kara is still in her tight white pants, but now her hair slicked back into a tight, hidden bun at the base of her neck, and the flannel is nowhere to be seen. She’s just in the white tank top, her biceps on display and her collarbones shining with glitter, and the fake moustache is firmly affixed. The Freddie Mercury look is complete, and as the opening strains of ‘Somebody to Love’ play on the speakers, it all makes sense.

Kara is clearly the frontrunner for the win. She works the crowd like a pro, jumping around and showing off the voice of an angel. Not everyone could hit the high notes in a Queen song, and Kara does it with ease.

Is there nothing she isn’t good at?

It’s all very campy and manageable, and Lena is able to let loose and have a good time without drooling too noticeably at the tattoo she’s never noticed before that circles Kara’s bicep or the way the pants fit her ass. It’s all fine, until the middle of the song.

Because, in the middle of the song, Kara starts to move into the crowd. She does hip thrusts near Winn’s face that are definitely meant to be funny, but Lena finds herself flushing from head to toe instead. She sits on Lucy’s lap, serenading her while Lucy waves a $5 bill, and she pulls Nia to her feet to twirl her a few times. And then, horribly, wonderfully, she makes her way to Lena, who suddenly regrets taking a front row seat.

Kara doesn’t even really touch her, like she did the others. She just drops to her knees, legs spread, and sings directly to Lena in that same dramatic way she’s been doing – it shouldn’t affect her at all. But oh, it does. Since Lena is wearing jeans it’s so easy for Kara to lay a single hand on her knee, and it makes Lena’s legs fall open a tiny bit, and dear god.

She’s just performing, Lena tells herself as her heartbeat skyrockets and seems to land directly in her clit on the way back down. It’s an act. She’s doing it to everyone.

But that doesn’t erase the fact that Kara is essentially kneeling between her legs, her arms on full display, undulating her hips in a way that’s giving Lena very specific mental images.

Even the stupid fake moustache isn’t enough to calm her down.

When Kara finally leaves to jump back on stage for the finale, Lena feels like she could melt into a puddle in her plastic chair.

Kara wins the contest, of course. Apparently last year’s winner was Winn, and Kara was determined to beat him, so she buys everyone a round of half-price drinks in celebration.

“How did I do?” Kara says breathlessly when she gets done paying, finally moustacheless, flopping into the chair next to Lena and handing her the red wine she always orders. Lena grips it tightly, wishing that it was something stronger. Three fingers of scotch, perhaps.

“Clearly you did well, considering you won,” Lena says, taking a careful sip, and Kara waves carelessly.

“Yeah, sure, but they see me make an idiot of myself every year. I want to know what you thought.”

Biting back her first thought - I wanted you to rip that stupid moustache off along with my clothes and possibly every scrap of my dignity – Lena scrambles to force her brain into neutral territory.

She settles on a casual compliment. “I had no idea you could sing like that. You could be a professional.”

Kara smiles, accepting a passing high-five from Lucy. “Eh, I don’t think I’d like that. I prefer cars.”

Lena prefers her this way as well. Muscled, and dextrous, and good with her hands –

Crossing her legs, Lena takes an overly large swallow of wine, hoping the rest of the night passes quickly.

It doesn’t. But luckily, after giving in and getting herself a few doses of hard liquor, she manages to have a good time. The competition turns quickly into a dance party, which then turns into Kara and Nia having a dance-off in the middle of a cheering circle. While they do the robot and the shopping cart back and forth Lena stands on the sidelines, observing intently but trying to remain unseen – she can see Brainy staring at Nia with open affection and Alex and Kelly dancing in a way that’s borderline inappropriate, both of them looking painfully interested but too shy to make the first move – but she’s soon pulled away from her momentary quiet by Lucy.

“Come dance, Lena!”

A few doses of hard liquor turn into a few too many, and before she knows it she’s happily drunk and dancing like an idiot with everyone else.

She’s still coherent enough to know a few things. Firstly, that she has zero dancing skills, and her moves amount to a lot of jumping and arm-flailing; secondly, that Kara is dancing with her, occasionally spinning her around and catching her when she inevitably loses her balance; and thirdly, that she’s never had this much fun in her life. She’s laughing freely, not bothered in the least when other people bump into her or grab her hands to dance, and even the top 40s dance music she usually hates is making her happy. The world is spinning, and Kara smells amazing, and life is good.

When she wakes up on an unknown surface with a pounding headache and an intense craving for coffee, she starts to think that maybe she made a mistake or two last night.

Cracking an eye open, she takes in the surroundings with a blurry gaze. She clearly lost her contacts at some point, and her emergency glasses are at home, so all she can make out in the low morning light is an unfamiliar living room. In front of her is a coffee table scattered with cups and remotes, and the whole room smells vaguely like a strange mix of warm cookies and engine grease. Against the far wall sits a guitar, and there’s a framed picture on the wall of a bumblebee with an undoubtedly cheesy quote underneath.

It doesn’t take three guesses to figure out whose house she’s in.

Alarm courses through her, and she shoots up on what turns out to be a couch – wincing at the spike of pain the movement sends to her aching skull – and takes stock of her situation. She’s still in her clothes from last night, and she’s covered in a few soft blankets. She relaxes, letting out a breath.

We didn’t sleep together.

Ordinarily that would be a statement that would bring her mood down, but she feels relieved. Happy that she didn’t royally fuck up…whatever the hell is going on between them.

Her shoes are sitting neatly beside the couch, and among the empty coffee cups on the table there’s a glass of water and two pills next to a note with a smiley face drawn on it.

It’s sweet and pragmatic and so very Kara, and the gesture makes her smile through her hangover.

The house is quiet. Kara must still be asleep, and quite honestly, Lena doesn’t want to deal with facing whatever nonsense she spewed last night. She only vaguely remembers the party wrapping up, Kara insisting on taking her keys, and walking somewhere she didn’t recognize. She hasn’t been that drunk in a long time, and she’d rather not hear all about it.

As quietly as she can she slips her shoes on, takes the Advil, and starts her quest to find the exit.

Kara’s house is cute, she’ll give her that. It’s cozy and well decorated, with well-worn furniture and lots of knickknacks. The walls of the living room leading into the kitchen are lined with pictures – Kara smiling with Alex, jumping off a dock with Nia, holding beers up with the boys, and decorating a cake with an older blonde woman that Lena assumes is Eliza. Front and centre, in a smaller frame, is a photo that looks much older than the rest – it’s Kara, looking not much older than 10, holding an academic award with a grin that’s missing 2 teeth. She’s standing between a couple that must be her birth parents, both looking proud and happy.

She has no idea how long she stands there, taking in the intimate details of Kara’s life. She meant to sneak out unseen, quickly, but something about the oppourtunity to learn more about the blonde makes her slow. So slow that she doesn’t notice the figure leaning against the kitchen counter until it’s too late.

“Morning.”

Lena jumps what feels like a foot, whirling around to see Alex Danvers looking at her with a mug of coffee and an unreadable expression.

“Alex!” Lena says loudly, quieting her voice immediately and trying not to look as shaken as she is. “I – I didn’t know you lived here.”

“Mhmm,” Alex hums, taking a slow, deliberate sip of her drink. Lena shifts from one foot to the other, feeling the urge to somehow explain herself.

“I – on the couch. I slept. Kara must have – I just woke up here,” She stutters, and her heart sinks when Alex quirks a knowing brow.

“Uh huh.”

“I’m going to go,” Lena finally says, slinking towards the front hall. Alex nods, clearly trying to hide a grin.

“Okay.”

She avoids Kara for a few days after that.

It just all feels a little overwhelming, suddenly. Pride was the kind of night where, ordinarily, Lena would have no issue grabbing Kara by the front of her sweaty shirt and dragging her into bed for a half-drunken hookup. She’d end up sweaty and sated, her needs curbed for a while, and she and Kara could go their separate ways.

But in those circumstances, the way she conducted herself back home, she never had to see the woman again. Kara is an intrinsic part of her life here, and while she knows that serious dating would never work out, it feels like Kara deserves something a bit more. Something Lena has no idea how to ask for.

In the meantime, a girl can fantasize.

Chapter Text

It’s almost a week after Pride before Lena sees Kara again. She means for it to be longer, truly – she’s still not sure how to broach the subject of Kara basically carrying her home and putting her to bed, seeing Lena act god only knows how ridiculous – but six days after she snuck out of the blonde’s house like a teenager, she finds herself staring at a very expensive sink that refuses to drain.

She could deal with it herself. There’s probably a plumber or a handyman in town somewhere, and she could likely find them with a google search. But somehow, she ends up finding a completely different contact name instead.

“Danvers Auto Shop, Kara speaking!”

Kara’s voice, warm and soothing even through a phone line, makes Lena’s stomach sweep, and she has to clear her throat before she can speak.

“Kara, hi. It’s Lena.”

“Hey!” Kara says, clearly enthused. The happy tone makes Lena relax a little bit, and she feels a bit like a teenager, calling her crush and twirling the landline cord around her finger. “Long time no talk.”

There’s no disapproval or upset in her voice, but even so Lena feels the need to apologize. “Yes, I’m…sorry about that. I just -“

“Oh, it’s okay,” Kara says easily, and Lena can see in her mind’s eye the casual wave Kara is probably doing. “What can I do ya for?”

“Well…my sink isn’t working,” Lena says haltingly, and Kara snorts.

“You know I’m not a plumber, right?”

Lena’s cheeks turn pink, and even though she knows Kara can’t see it, she feels a bit embarrassed anyways. “I know, I just thought – well, I don’t know the businesses around here. I thought you could help me out?”

Lena hears the scratchy sound of the receiver being covered, and a muffled yell on the other line. After a moment, Kara comes back sounding cheery.

“I’ll be there in a couple minutes!”

“Oh, no, you don’t have to – you’re at work, I can deal with it myself –“

“Don’t be silly. I can fix it, just give me a minute to grab my toolbox, okay?”

Kara hangs up without confirmation. As the dial tone sounds in her ear, she looks around – at her messy kitchen, at her own pyjamas and slippers and messy hair – and suddenly her body kicks into overdrive.

“Shit,” She mutters, throwing the phone onto the table. “Shit.” She has approximately 15 minutes before Kara gets here, and she has to get herself ready faster than she ever has before.

She changes in a whirlwind, grabbing the first sundress she can find and throwing her hair into a bun. She brushes her teeth while she frantically tidies the kitchen, the toothbrush hanging out of her mouth precariously, and by the time the doorbell rings she’s feeling at least borderline presentable, putting the cap on her contact solution.

She opens the door to Kara in cargo pants, a dirty tank top and a red flannel, and she hates how much it works for her.

“Kara! Come on in,” She says, trying to keep her voice even, but Kara just stares at her for a moment, blinking.

After a few seconds, Lena frowns. “Are you okay?”

Kara startles, shaking her head like she’s trying to get rid of cobwebs. “Yeah! Yeah, I just…I’ve never seen you with your hair up before.”

It takes Lena a second to figure out why that sentence seems so strange. Back home, she’s almost never without her trademark tight bun or high ponytail, to the point where Jack started worrying that she was going to make herself bald with all the hair-pulling. She hadn’t realized, until now, how much she’s been wearing her hair down since she got here. It just feels natural.

Before Lena has to gather a response to that, Kara steps inside and thankfully changes the subject.

“Nice place,” She says, with a low whistle. “Fancy.”

“Thanks. I mostly bought it for the location,” Lena replies, leading Kara towards the kitchen.

“But the house can’t hurt, right? Bet it’s hard to get this much space in the city.” Kara sets her toolbox down on the stone tiles in front of the sink, and Lena clears her throat, not mentioning that her condos in Vancouver and Toronto are pretty much the same size.

Kara gets to work right away, opening up the cupboard underneath the sink and sliding in on her back to fiddle with the pipes, and Lena tries very very hard to maintain a conversation instead of staring blatantly at the sliver of Kara’s stomach she can see at the hem of her shirt.

“So, um. How’s it going down there?” Lena asks, cringing the moment the words leave her mouth. She’s glad Kara’s face is obscured by the cupboard door, because she doesn’t think she could look her in the eye right now.

“It’s good! I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a sink this clean before,” Kara remarks.

“How many sinks have you worked on, exactly?”

“Oh, a few here and there,” Kara says cryptically, blindly grabbing at one of the tools laid out on the floor.

“I thought you were a mechanic?” Lena says, crossing her arms. Kara seems to be a jack of all trades, and thus far, it seems there’s nothing she can’t do.

“Cars aren’t the only thing I’m good at fixing up.”

At that, heat blooms embarrassingly quickly in Lena’s abdomen, zipping immediately down to throb in her clit. It was benign, Kara’s statement – she definitely wasn’t referring to all the ways her talented hands could be put to work fixing every ache in Lena’s body. But Lena’s traitorous brain runs with it like a dog let loose, sprinting into the horny distance, and she has to cross her legs to relieve even a tiny bit of the now-uncomfortable pressure.

Just then, something bursts under the sink, and water starts spraying out at an alarming volume.

“Shoot!” Kara sputters, trying to stop the flow with her hands. “Forgot to turn the water off –“

“What do I do?” Lena asks loudly, all thirst forgotten in the wake of her kitchen flooding.

“There’s a valve under here somewhere –“

Lena rips open all the cupboard doors and finds it beside her stock of cleaning supplies, cranking it with slippery hands, and the water finally stops. She steps gingerly over the puddles now covering her floor to find Kara still lying under the sink, now soaked completely. Her white tank top is see-through but probably the cleanest it’s ever been, and Lena has to look away again to hide the flush that creeps up her neck at the way the fabric clings to her skin.

She has muscles everywhere.

So much for a distraction. Kara’s breathing heavily, her stomach flexing and her sports bra clearly visible, and Lena says the first thing that comes to her mind.

“Do you want some lemonade?”

It was meant to be a diversion, something to keep her busy while Kara dries off. But as she brings a glass of cold lemonade and a towel over to the very wet mechanic still sitting on her kitchen floor, Lena does her best to ignore the fact that she’s essentially invited Kara into a porno.

It’s even more uncomfortable as Kara takes the glass, downing it in a few seconds while Lena watches a droplet of water slide down the side of her neck.

Pull it together, Luthor.

“Thanks!” Kara says brightly, putting the empty glass above her on the counter and wiping her mouth uselessly with the back of her also-wet arm. “Hold on, I almost had it. It’ll be fixed in a jiffy.”

The wholesomeness of Kara’s naiveté is enough to bring Lena back to the present. She clears her throat, getting herself a glass of cold water from the fridge and covertly holding it against her warm forehead.

Under the sink, Kara speaks up again.

“So, you coming to the festival this weekend?”

Lena frowns, moving the cool glass down to her chest. “I thought we just had a festival?”

“This one is for Canada day,” Kara says, talking loudly over the clattering of tools and pipes. “We do it every year. It used to bring a lot of tourists up here, but now it’s mostly locals.”

“Is it going to be anything like last weekend?” Lena asks, taking a long drink. She’s honestly still a little hungover, and another party like that one sounds like the last thing she wants. “Because I don’t think I can do that again.”

Kara laughs, peering out between the pipes at Lena. “No, it’s much more tame. There’s a potluck, and a bit of a party, and some fireworks. And then we usually have a tractor pull.”

There’s a final-sounding grinding noise, and Kara finally emerges from the cupboard victorious, her wet ponytail starting to fall out.

“Got it!” She says, brushing her hands off on her pants. “You just had a blockage. All good now.”

“Thanks. I feel like I should repay you somehow,” Lena says, without thinking, and immediately a wave of complete mortification rolls over her.

So much for avoiding the porno references.

Luckily, Kara artfully sidesteps the obvious innuendo.

“Well, you can come to the festival.”

“I’ve never been to a potluck before,” Lena says, trying to get Kara out the door without another horrific double entendre. “Or a tractor pull. It sounds fun.”

“Seriously?” Kara gasps, packing up her tools. “Okay, you have to come. I’ll pick you up.”

Kara leaves with a promise to pick her up Saturday at 1, and her truck has already trundled down the driveway before Lena notices that Kara’s flannel is still draped over one of her kitchen stools.

Well, until she sees Kara on Saturday, it can’t hurt to wear it around the house sometimes. The fact that it noticeably smells like Kara when she wears it to bed is completely secondary.

 


 

Saturday dawns with Lena feeling a nauseating blend of excited and nervous.

She ends up waking up at 6:30, tossing and turning until she finally admits that she’s up for the day. After coffee, a shower, and the long and arduous process of deciding what to wear, it’s still only 9:30, and she resigns herself to pacing the house until Kara’s truck rolls up at 12:45.

For the first time, Lena decides to dress down for the occasion. At Pride she felt like she didn’t quite dress right, and this time, she wants to go for comfort. She wears a pair of the cutoff jean shorts that Nia insisted she buy (it’s because the July air is so humid, she tells herself. Not because she wants to see Kara’s reaction. It’s completely practical) and a red t-shirt, and at the last moment she grabs the flannel that Kara left at her house last week and puts it on over top.

When Kara sees her, her eyes almost bug out of her head, and Lena feels a spark of gratification – but it lasts only a few seconds, because soon enough she gets a good look at what Kara is wearing.

Apparently, in contrast to Lena dressing down, Kara dressed up. She’s wearing the first pair of clean jeans Lena has ever seen her in, worn low on her hips with a blue checkered button-up, and her hands look scrubbed clean, pink and calloused. But the most affecting part of the whole ensemble, the part that hits Lena the hardest, is Kara’s hair.

It’s the first time Lena has ever seen her without her ever-present ponytail and ballcap. Her hair is down, falling in blonde waves around her angular face, and she’s biting her lip as if she’s not completely sure that Lena will like it.

As if Kara isn’t the most stupidly attractive person Lena has ever met, no matter what her hair looks like.

But Lena can’t say that to her face. She struggles to find a compliment that won’t bare her entire soul to Kara as the blonde makes her way from her truck to Lena’s door, since you look like what I imagine heaven is like seems a little bit intense.

“You showered,” Is what comes out of Lena’s mouth when Kara finally stands in front of her, hands in her pockets, and after a few seconds of silence, Kara bursts into laughter. Her nervousness seems to disappear, and suddenly she’s the Kara Lena has known for weeks now – loose, and confident, and grinning.

“I’m known to do that every so often.”

Lena blushes, grabbing her keys and slipping out of the house before she can say something stupid again. As Kara opens the truck door for her, Lena notices something that makes her smile – Kara dressed up, but she’s still wearing the same scuffed workboots she always does.

It makes affection thrum in her chest, not entirely unwelcome. Kara starts the truck, but as they’re about to pull onto the road, she pauses.

“Hey, is that my shirt?”

The festival is mostly a potluck lunch, one that Kara insisted Lena didn’t need to bring anything to, and it turns out she was right. The tables are overladen with food, everyone scattered over a mass of picnic tables at a pavilion by the lake. There’s everything from Swedish meatballs to frito pie, and with a bright, sunny day overhead, it seems like the entire town has come out. James and Winn wave from a nearby bench, Winn’s mouth crammed with what looks like an entire bowl of guacamole dip, and Alex makes her presence known by throwing a nerf football with devastating accuracy to peg Kara in the side of the head as she’s trying to play a game of horseshoes.

Nia and Brainy turn up around 3, walking closely together, and it’s painfully obvious that they’re both thinking about tangling their hands together – Brainy’s arm is stiffer than usual, and Nia keeps brushing her knuckles against his, but neither of them seem to be taking each other’s hints.

“Kara!” Nia sighs, looking down at the blonde’s feet exasperatedly. “Didn’t I tell you to change your shoes?”

Kara, for the first time since Lena has met her, actually blushes.

“The ones you gave me were really uncomfortable!” She mutters, rubbing the back of her neck and notably not making eye contact with either of them.

“Well, at least you wore your hair down,” Nia sighs, and Lena feels warmth bloom in her chest.

Kara asked Nia for fashion advice. Maybe, possibly, to impress Lena. When Nia and Brainy finally walk away, looking for food, Lena finds herself resisting that same impulse she saw them wrestling with – all she wants to do right now is twine her fingers with Kara’s larger ones.

Before long, though, she gets distracted by the busyness of the afternoon. In comparison to last weekend, this celebration is tame, but Lena is relieved by it. It just seems like a big excuse to socialize and eat – at least, until the sun goes down, and people start carrying in their bring-your-own coolers of beer. Kara cracks two open from the notably large cooler on Alex’s tailgate and hands one to Lena, and together they watch Winn and James start unloading a huge speaker system from the back of James’ truck.

“So, is every weekend a party here?” Lena asks, swinging her feet idly as they watch J’onn and Alex tossing the nerf football back and forth on the small sandy beach near the water.

“Only during the summer,” Kara replies, taking a sip of beer. “Winter lasts like 6 months here, so we all hibernate.”

Lena snorts, and Kara looks deeply pleased with herself. Lena assumes that it’s an exaggeration, but a party is what shapes up. A jump in the lake, blast the music, dance in a big patch of grass by the water kind of party. Everyone backs their cars and trucks in to surround the makeshift dancefloor and opens the trunks and tailgates to reveal a cornucopia of alcohol, some kind of game of diving chicken is happening on the dock that juts out into the lake, and James and Alex start up a choreographed-looking dance when an upbeat country song starts to play.

“Kara!” Alex shouts, waving her over and she and James step in line. “Get your ass over here!”

Immediately Kara jumps off the tailgate, holding out an expectant hand.

The moment Lena realizes what Kara wants, she shakes her head, clutching onto the tailgate as if she’s afraid Kara is going to drag her onto the dancefloor.

“Absolutely not.”

“Come on!” Kara whines, jumping up and down impatiently. “It’s the Devil Went Down to Georgia!”

“The violin song?” Lena says, not letting go of the truck that she’s fully convinced is the only reason she’s not being made to dance right now. Kara holds up a finger, looking playfully indignant.

“Okay, firstly, it’s a fiddle. And secondly, it’s a great song to line dance to!”

Everyone else seems to agree with her – even Brainy has now joined the line, his hands hooked in his belt loops, but Lena shakes her head again.

“Not happening.”

With an exasperated groan, Kara finally gives up, grabbing the cowboy hat off the nearest person’s head – it happens to be Lucy, who’s sitting in a lawnchair next to the truck – and running towards the growing line of people. Lucy throws her empty beer can in retaliation, but it misses by a solid 2 metres, hitting James instead.

“She’d better not wreck my hat,” Lucy grumbles, settling back into her chair and opening up another drink. “Why didn’t you go up with her?”

“I don’t know this dance,” Lena says, gesturing at the line of people all moving in perfect sync. “How the hell does everyone here know this dance?”

“We learn it in gym class, in elementary school. Didn’t you?”

Lena had actually learned how to waltz and play croquet, but she keeps her mouth shut and watches the crowd instead.

It still astounds her sometimes, how attracted she is to Kara. It’s a wild thing, something deep and alive in her chest that wakes up and howls when Kara laughs in that way she has, her eyes squint up and she sounds so utterly delighted that she can’t hold it in. She’s doing it now, throwing her head back and lighting up Lena’s chest as she stamps and claps along to the beat in sync, singing the words to the fast-paced song Lena has only heard once or twice before. She looks ridiculous and adorable, and when the song finally ends, Lena is distracted enough in her soft feelings that when Kara pulls her onto the grass, she doesn’t protest until it’s too late.

Before Kara can pull her into the crowd proper, which is just starting to get back into a brand-new dance to a song Lena has only heard once, Lena digs her heels in.

“Kara, I am not dancing to Cotton-Eye Joe.”

Kara laughs, unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer this time. “Come on, Lena! I promise, it’ll be fun. If it isn’t, I’ll…I’ll jump in the lake naked.”

Lena can’t help but bark out a nervous laugh at that promise. She isn’t sure whether she wants to try to have fun or not, with something like that on the line – something like Kara, naked and diving into the water, probably floating to the surface, her hair slicked back –

Lena is sure she’d make an idiot of herself about it, but it would be worth it.

Distracted as she is by the idea of a wet, naked Kara, she loses the fight to resist dancing. Kara grabs both of her hands and starts pulling them back and forth in a basic motion, and Lena allows it.

“I don’t know the steps!” She shouts over the music, but Kara is just jumping up and down to the beat with Lena’s hands still clasped in hers.

“You don’t have to, just shuffle your feet!”

“That’s ridiculous –“ Lena protests, but Kara just links their arms together and starts to skip in a circle in time with everyone else, and all protests go out the window.

After the first chorus, Lena thinks she has the basic steps down. There’s a lot of weird foot movements that she can barely follow, but the rest is just a lot of linking arms and spinning, and she’s actually laughing at Kara’s antics when everyone goes completely off-book.

When the music shifts into an exuberant and hilarious banjo solo, one person in every dancing pair around her stops, hugs their partner around the waist, lifts them slightly into the air, and starts to spin.

And that’s all the warning Lena has before Kara is in her space. She gets a quick “Hold on!” in, but she’s already being lifted, Kara’s strong arms braces firmly around her middle.

“Kara!” She squeals, holding on for dear life as they start to spin dizzyingly in a static circle. There’s a lot of sensory input right now – Kara is warm and solid against her, those hands firm on her middle, and her face is somewhere in the vicinity of Lena’s chest – she can feel Kara’s breath, getting quicker with exertion and laughter. She’s being held as if she weighs nothing and then pressed hard into a very attractive woman, and if it weren’t for the spinning, the entire party could probably see the hunger Lena feels at that.

But the hunger is blotted out by dizziness, and then laughter as Kara finally loses her balance and stumbles, bracing so that her body blocks Lena’s fall and hitting the grass with a whumph.

“Kara!” Lena gasps breathlessly, rolling off the taller woman and feeling the ground lurch under her like a funhouse. “Kara, are you okay –“

But Kara is lying comfortably on her back, her hair spread out over the grass like a halo, and she’s laughing.

Cackling would probably be a more apt description, really. The laugh seems to take over her whole body contagiously, and soon enough Lena is laughing too, flopping onto the grass with Kara and letting the dusky sky spin in dizzying circles above them. Most other people seem to be in the same state as the song ends, either on the ground or seriously bent over, and when Kara punches her fist up and lets out a loud whoop, most of the crowd responds.

“Is that always how you end that dance?” Lena asks once they’ve calmed down, sitting up and holding their sore sides.

“Every time,” Kara says happily. A new song comes on and some people start to dance, but it seems like the end of Cotton Eye Joe signalled a drinking and smoking break of some kind. Finally Kara gets up, staggering only once, and dusts the grass off her now-stained jeans.

“Nia’s gonna kill me.”

Once the sky is dark enough, the fireworks come out. Kara leads Lena to the rickety boat launch while everyone else starts sticking them strategically into the ground, and the noise of the party gives way a little to the quiet lapping of the water. Lena can almost see her house from here, the lights on her back deck glowing in the distance, but for the first time in her life, she’s happier not being at home.

As they sit down at the edge a single loon cries in the distance, and Kara takes a piece of grass that’s still sticking out of her hair and clasps it between her thumbs, her fingers cupped on either side.

“What are you doing?” Lena asks, and Kara answers by blowing into the strange grass-hand instrument she’s made in an almost-perfect loon call. The loon cries back, and they maintain a back-and-forth until Kara drops the piece of grass into the water.

“My cousin Clark taught me how to do that,” She says, kicking at the surface with the toe of her boot. The ripples swallow the grass, and Kara’s feet still.

“The one that lives in the city? The journalist?” Lena ventures quietly, and Kara nods.

“Mhmm. He grew up here too, but he’s older. He’d already moved when my parents passed away. His parents died when he was a baby, and he was raised by the Kents, about 20 minutes down the highway. Family friends. I always sort of hoped I could stay with him, after my parents...” Kara trails off, and clears her throat. “But he was busy, you know? He was in university. He couldn’t raise an 8 year old.”

There’s a thread of sadness in Kara’s voice, one that Lena has never heard before. Unsure of what to say she puts a hand over Kara’s, squeezing gently before pulling away, and Kara smiles in appreciation. It’s a tiny nugget, but every crumb she can find about Kara’s life is one Lena appreciates.

“Hey, the fireworks are starting!”

Kara hurries to take off her boots and insists that Lena do the same, and soon enough they’re dipping their bare toes in the water as the sky lights up with multicoloured pops and bangs. They illuminate Kara’s face, excited and smiling and beautiful, and with their hands almost touching, the fireworks in the sky are just mirroring the ones in Lena’s chest.

As suddenly as the explosions above them, Lena has a vivid vision of leaning over, running her fingers through Kara’s soft hair, and leaning in for a kiss.

It’s not surprising, as fantasies go. Lena has thought about kissing Kara before - many times in fact, as much as she wishes she could stop. But this is by far the most intense, and most realistic. She can practically feel Kara’s lips, can almost smell her shampoo, can imagine how it would feel to swing a leg over her thighs and press herself down into Kara’s lap, and suddenly the images aren’t quite as PG as before.

She looks away quickly, hoping the darkness will hide how her body lights up, and she misses the way Kara turns her head, watching intently as Lena takes in the colours.

All in all, it’s the single best night Lena can remember having. It’s practically perfect.

At least, until they’re leaving, heading back to Kara’s truck parked on the road.

Danvers!”

The voice behind them is loud enough that Lena jumps a little, spinning around and spotting Oliver Queen stalking towards them. Kara turns around much more calmly, sticking her thumbs into her belt loops.

“Queen,” She drawls, inclining her head in his direction. She seems entirely too chill in Lena’s opinion, considering Oliver’s sleeves are rolled and he’s looking ready to snap.

“I believe we’ve got some unfinished business.”

“Come on, Ollie,” Kara says, shaking her head. “Don’t ruin the party with this bull.”

But Oliver just cracks his knuckles, handing his ballcap to his friend.

“I’m not usually one for hitting chicks, but –“ He says, flexing his fists, and Kara sighs, unbuttoning the wrists of her shirt and rolling up her sleeves in a businesslike fashion.

“Sorry, Lena. This’ll just take a minute.”

Lena hardly has time to get out of the way before Oliver swings, just as Kara is finishing the sleeve, yelling angrily - but Kara sidesteps him easily. He overbalances, wobbling for a few seconds before he rights himself, and Kara rolls her neck from side to side.

“That wasn’t a fair start. Now who’s the cheater?”

“Fuck you!” Oliver grunts, putting his fists up and starting to circle. Kara does the same, and for a few seconds they hover in a stalemate before Oliver strikes again, winding up for a hit that never lands. Kara dodges it, ducking around his arm and throwing her elbow back hard into the middle of his back as she passes.

He grunts in pain as her elbow connects, his back bending as he stumbles, and his knees hit the gravel while Kara finishes rolling her sleeve. Once it’s done, she offers him a hand, clearly willing to bury the hatchet.

“I don’t want to fight you, Ollie,” She says quietly, and Oliver seems to consider it. He’s breathing heavily, holding his back, and for a moment Lena thinks he might take Kara’s hand – but instead he explodes off the ground and strikes again, and this time one of his fists connects with Kara’s cheekbone with a sickening crack.

She rears back, grunting, and when she moves her hair out of the way Lena can see that her cheek is bleeding.

Lena’s stomach drops, and Kara touches the spot with a gentle hand, frowning at the red that comes away on her fingertips.

“Are you packing?” She asks, and Lena has no earthly clue what that could possibly mean in relation to a fight but Oliver answers the question right away - he opens his hand to reveal a cigarette lighter clenched in his fist, which he tosses into the dirt.

Kara, who up until this point had been merely humoring Oliver, seems to grow a few inches after that. Her face sets in grim determination, and she pulls a ponytail out of her pocket, gathering her hair up and out of her face.

Oliver doesn’t seem to sense the change in intensity, but Lena does. And it makes her shiver.

“Nobody beats me, Danvers, especially not you. It was true in high school, and it’s true now –“

He’s cut off by Kara’s fist connecting with his face a grand total of 4 times, each harder than the last. Before Lena can blink he’s sprawled out on the dusty gravel with Kara towering over him, her fist bloodied and her face grim. Oliver groans, and Kara leans over, picking up the lighter he had clenched in his hand and handing it over to his friend, who flinches when Kara steps closer.

Kara smiles at him, the genuine expression conflicting with the man still lying motionless on the ground. “When he comes to, go get J’onn or Kelly to look him over. Give him an ice pack or two and he’ll be fine.”

The guy nods silently, and Kara turns back around.

“Where were we?”

She escorts Lena back to her truck calmly, and once they’re safely inside, Lena finally explodes.

“What the fuck was his problem!” She rages, and Kara’s eyes go wide. “Just coming at you like that! Look what he did to your eye –“ Lena reaches out, unthinking, and traces gently over the still-bleeding cut on Kara’s cheekbone.

Kara smiles, only wincing a little bit at the pain it obviously causes her, and shrugs.

“It was just a tilly. By next week, he’ll be back to playing hockey with us like normal. Guys like Ollie just need to try to prove themselves when they get beat.”

Lena gapes at her, at the way she’s clearly totally calm about the whole situation, and she’s so flabbergasted that she doesn’t even think to ask what the hell kind of made-up word tilly is.

“Okay, so what was he talking about high school for?” Lena asks, and Kara’s face falls a little, the lightheartedness flickering for a moment. She chews on her bottom lip, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel before she answers.

“In high school, we…dated the same girl. Siobhan. She left him for me, and then…she left me for him.”

There’s clearly old pain in Kara’s voice, and Lena winces, nodding her understanding. It explains why Oliver reacted so explosively to Kara beating him – his ego is clearly still sore from over 10 years ago, even though the girl went back to him in the end.

“And where is she now?” Lena asks, and Kara shrugs.

“Dunno. She moved to the city.”

Kara looks a little sad, looking out the windshield with a reflective expression, and Lena quickly changes the subject.

“Well, you certainly kicked his ass.”

Kara chuckles, finally starting the truck, and Lena is relieved to see the pensive look from before is gone. “I really did, eh?”

Lena laughs with her, shaking her head at the ridiculous hick she somehow illogically finds herself attracted to.

Kara bids her goodnight at her door, her eye starting to swell in a way she manages to make look cute, and Lena has to physically resist throwing herself at those broad shoulders. She’s always been anti-violence, steering L-Corp away from weapons technology and towards humanitarianism and biomedical tech, but even she has to admit that watching Kara take down a man almost twice her size in a few hits has made an impression. A deep one.

She’s a little bit turned on, and it makes itself broadly known the moment she closes the door.

She tries to shake it off. She pours herself a glass of wine, sinks into a bubble bath, and turns on some deeply unsexy jazz music, trying to put the whole thing out of her mind. But her willpower seems to be less and less effective lately, and soon enough it’s another night of self-care. Another night where she makes herself come thinking about Kara - except this time she’s imagining strong arms, hands slipping under the collar of a blue button-up, and Kara’s fingers inside her on that boat launch, spreading her legs and making her come under the open sky.

She’s more disappointed than ever when she opens her eyes to find herself alone as always, the only sky being the white ceiling of her darkened bedroom.

 


 

After that night, Lena starts seeing Kara more often. She stops by the bar on most nights even if both of them are sober – apparently, in a town this small, the bar is really the only place to hang out even if nobody is drinking. Alex will often send her off for a long lunch and they’ll go to Lucy’s together, and sometimes when it’s busier, Lena will bring her a burger and they’ll sit in the office or on the picnic bench outside and enjoy a few minutes in each other’s company. It’s something Lena has never experienced before, this kind of casual friendship, and she enjoys it even if she’s usually having to suppress an avalanche of other feelings.

On one such day, after they’ve paid their respective bills at Lucy’s and start walking back to the shop, Kara drops another oppourtunity for quality time.

“So, is everyone going to the Livewire tonight?” Lena asks, and to her surprise Kara shakes her head.

“Nah, not tonight. We have a pickup game going at 6.”

Kara kicks idly at a rock on the sidewalk with her boot, and Lena frowns.

“Pickup game? For what?”

“Hockey!” Kara says brightly, and Lena’s confusion only increases.

“It’s…summertime.”

Kara laughs, and sticks her hands into her pockets. “Well, it’s ball hockey. In the winter, we ice the rink over.” Suddenly, she turns towards Lena with an excited look. “Hey, you should come play!”

Lena snorts loudly at the very idea of her playing a sport, but at Kara’s confused and slightly wounded look, she quickly amends.

“Kara, I’ve never touched a hockey stick in my life.”

Kara stops dead. The look on her face is one of utter disbelief, as if Lena just said the absolute wildest thing she’s ever heard in her life.

“Not even in school?” She asks, and Lena scoffs.

“My mother paid the headmaster to let me skip gym class and do advanced math tutoring instead. She didn’t want me ‘wasting my time’.”

“Sports aren’t a waste of time, they’re fun! You have to play at least once,” Kara insists, but Lena shakes her head as they approach the shop door.

“Believe me when I say – there’s nothing I’d rather do less,” Lena says honestly. Kara, though, seems set on the idea.

“Well, at least come and watch. Maybe you’ll be inspired,” She suggests, and Lena wants to say no. She should say no. The last thing she wants to do is turn into the airheaded idiot she becomes whenever she sees Kara in a state of exertion, in public. But Kara looks so earnest, and pleading, and Lena knows before the words leave her mouth that she can’t refuse.

“…I’ll think about it.”

She definitely turns up, and Kara is definitely at the rink (which amounts to an outdoor wooden fence circling a large rectangle of cement) wearing nothing but basketball shorts, her blue cap, and a sports bra, and Lena definitely considers just leaving before anyone sees her to hide in the sweet darkness of her room and fantasize vigorously about the way Kara’s skin glows in the sun – but Alex, fucking Alex, sees her before she can bolt.

“Lena, over here!”

Alex – who is wearing an actual shirt, thank you, god damn Kara Danvers and her decisions to play sports practically naked – waves her over to where the group is scattered around some makeshift benches. James is there doing some light stretches, and Nia is wrapping some kind of tape around the handle of her hockey stick. Lena recognizes a few people on the other team – Mike, the guy with the loud truck, as well as Leslie and Oliver, who’s sporting a bruised face and a much better attitude.

“Surprised to see you here,” Alex says knowingly as Lena sits gingerly down on the splintery bench, and Lena fights a blush.

“I’ve never seen a hockey game before.”

Winn laughs, but when Lena arches a brow, he looks just as disbelieving as Kara did when Lena said she hadn’t played.

“Wait…you mean like, live, right?” He asks, and all the attention in the group suddenly zeroes in on her. She shifts uncomfortably, sitting up straighter on instinct.

“No, I’ve just never seen one.”

“Are you even Canadian?!” James asks, and Lena actually laughs.

“Well, technically I was born in Ireland,” She says, shrugging, and Kara looks at her sharply.

“I didn’t know that!”

James seems much less interested in Lena’s heritage and much more interested in her lack of passion for hockey.

“Well, Irish or no, you’re about to watch the world’s greatest sport,” He says, and Winn makes a squeaky noise of dissent.

“Well, I prefer basketball, which is actually a Canadian invention –“

The world’s greatest sport, babe.”

Winn sighs affectionately. “Right. The world’s greatest sport.” He pats James on the shoulder consolingly, but as soon as James turns to talk to Alex, he shakes his head solemnly at Lena, who tries to hide her grin behind her hand.

When Kara and James leave to set up the goals and talk to Mike and Leslie, Nia plops down in the vacant spot next to Lena, slipping a large glove onto her right hand and grabbing a helmet. Lena’s brow furrows.

“So, you play hockey? I wouldn’t have guessed that,” Lena says, taking in Nia’s small physique, and Nia laughs.

“I’m the goalie!”

Lena blinks, looking between Nia’s willowy frame and the large net that Kara is dragging into place nearby.

“…how?”

Everyone laughs like it’s some kind of inside joke, and it’s Alex that takes pity on Lena and explains. “She’s skinny, but Nia’s the fastest catcher I’ve ever seen. She could catch a ball going at the speed of light in that mitt.”

Nia shrugs, pulling her helmet down to cover her face. “People underestimate me.”

“I bet,” Lena says, humbled. “I’m sorry I added to the problem.”

“Oh, it’s all good! It just makes it even funnier when I cream them,” Nia says cheerfully, and with that she gets up and skips happily onto the rink.

Once the game starts Lena sits between Kelly – who claims to be here to support her brother, but seems to cheer an awful lot when Alex scores goals – and Winn, who spends most of the time sighing dreamily every time James so much as touches the ball. Brainy sits on Winn’s other side, definitely staring at Nia with every super-powered braincell.

It makes her keenly aware of what position she’s in here; which is to say, she’s one of the thirsty cheerleaders.

Great.

Honestly though, as much as she resents her attraction being so obvious, it is fun to watch. Kara is a great player, not the best of the bunch but consistent and gutsy, and as she plays she starts to sweat. And flex. And do a lot of showy jumping around. She does chest-bumps with James, lifts Nia up when she makes spectacular saves, and does what seems like everything she can do to show off her strength and endurance while Lena crosses her legs in discomfort.

It’s somehow both worse and better than watching her fight.

This time, because Lena doesn’t have to worry about Kara’s safety, she can pay more attention to the details. Details like the way Kara’s shorts ride low on her hips and reveal a ‘V’ that Lena wants to follow with her mouth, or how her stupid, charming, adorable smile lights up everyone around her and makes Lena’s heart feel lighter even from 20 feet away.

Luckily for her sanity (but unluckily for her raging libido), it’s a short game. Kara’s team wins by 2 goals thanks to Alex’s aggressive offense and Nia’s goalkeeping, and Oliver even gives Kara a respectful nod – tinged with a bit of fear, Lena notes – as he heads back to the benches.

When Kelly rises to go congratulate James and stealthily check out Alex, Kara plops down in her empty spot, catching a towel that Nia throws her way and mopping her face and neck with it.

“So, what did you think of your first hockey experience?” She asks, taking a long drink from her Space Jam-branded water bottle. Some of the water spills out and over her cheek, running down her neck, and Lena looks away abruptly.

“It was exhilarating,” Lena says sarcastically, hoping that Kara did not at any point during the game look over and see the clearly enamoured look on her face. Kara just laughs, slinging the towel over her shoulder.

“We’ll make a fan of you, yet.”

Lena means to fire back – something about Kara needing to score more goals first, the thought half-formed – but they’re interrupted by a tall, bearded man holding a coke bottle full of murky brown liquid. He stands in front of Kara’s seated form, his waist far too close for comfort, and looks down at her with a grin half-concealed by the huge bump under his bottom lip.

The identity of the lump reveals itself when he spits into the bottle, the saliva coming out a revolting brown. Chewing tobacco.

Kara seems just as put off by it as Lena is. She sighs, leaning back so she’s less close to his crotch, and purses her lips.

“Mike.”

Ah. So this is Mike. He certainly fits Kara’s description of ‘greasy skid’ – his hair is slicked back from his face and his beard is patchy, like he’s trying hard to be a man but it’s not quite leaving the ‘pube’ stage. Lena remembers him vaguely from the game, where he did almost nothing, and from that night when he roared by in the truck that’s so clearly compensating for something. And, as he opens his mouth, it’s clear that his personality matches.

“Heard you kicked Ollie’s ass,” Mike says appraisingly, spitting into the pop bottle again and grinning in a way that comes out clownish with the tobacco in his lip. “I like girls who can take a tumble.”

“Kick rocks, Mike,” Kara grumbles, averting her eyes from the show Mike is trying to put on, but he’s annoyingly persistent.

“When are you finally gonna go out with me, Danvers?”

“Last time I checked, I’m still a lesbian,” Kara says, standing up to her full height. She’s tall, but not quite as tall as Mike, and he continues to grin down at her as if her ire somehow makes him happy.

“Gimme a chance and I could change that,” Mike says, and anger rises in Lena’s chest like a sleeping dragon. Kara is visibly uncomfortable but clearly doesn’t want to cause a scene here, and Mike is either willfully oblivious or just cruel.

“Fuck off,” Kara snaps, and Mike turns his attention instead to Lena, still sitting on the bench.

“Alright, how about you, city girl? You a lesbo like Danvers, or do you want a little country in you?” Mike says lecherously, grabbing at the fork of his jeans and laughing. Kara looks like she’s about to explode as Mike turns his head to look back at his friends, who are all watching the interaction with either suspense or mild discomfort – but Lena is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

She narrows her eyes, standing up and waiting for Mike to turn back around to make her move. When he finally looks back at her, smug and uncaring, she moves her hand at lightning speed to seize at the place he just tried to thrust in her face and squeeze it with all her strength.

Immediately, Mike buckles. His knees bend and he doubles over in pain, a vague wheezing sound the only noise he’s capable of making as Lena digs her nails into his groin.

“That was very rude, Mike,” She says in a light, airy tone, as his friends all yell in sympathetic pain behind him. “You know how rude that was, don’t you?”

Mike makes a garbled noise, his knees clearly wanting to collapse but unable to with Lena’s grasp keeping him up. Lena doesn't let up, and Mike squeaks loudly.

“I think you should apologize to both of us. Don’t you, Kara?”

Kara, who’s watching with her mouth agape and a delighted expression, nods mutely.

Lena puts on her best boardroom smile, cold and calculating and entirely intimidating. “You heard the lady. What do we say for our inappropriate comments?”

Mike grunts, but as if he can sense that Lena is about to squeeze again, he manages to rasp out a word.

“…sorry.”

“And, are we going to sexually harass the women in this town again?”

Mike groans, starting to struggle, but Lena keeps her hold.

“I’d like an answer.”

“No, okay! No, I won’t do it again!” He yells. Kara is still gaping, and Lena feels just a little bit proud of it.

“Good.”

She releases him abruptly, and Mike falls into a heap at her feet. When she taps his shoulder with her toe, he groans pathetically.

“Oh, you’re fine,” She says dismissively, waving a hand. “Sit on an ice pack and you’ll be good as new. Kara?”

Kara nods, still mute, and follows Lena in stepping over Mike’s body and heading towards the rest of the team. As they approach, she can see that Alex is laughing so hard that she’s bent double, and James is giving them a reverent slow clap as Winn cups a nervous hand over his own genitals.

“I’ve been trying to get him to leave me alone since we were in high school,” Alex finally says when they join the group, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. “I had no idea all it took was plucking his grapes.”

Lena shrugs. “I’ve dealt with a lot of assholes. When you can’t threaten them with corporate sabotage, sometimes you have to get physical.”

Everyone laughs, and Kara throws a sweaty arm around her shoulders, and Lena feels like for the first time in as long as she can remember, maybe she’s found her place.

After that, life in Midvale seems to ease into a natural rhythm that Lena didn’t expect. She spends less and less time in her home lab and more time in town – not just visiting Kara at the shop, but actually spending time with other people. Sitting at the beach with Nia, playing pool with James, eating lunch with Winn, showing Brainy her home lab and watching his talented mind go wild. She’s making friends, real ones, and more than ever she tries to put her imminent move back to the city at the end of the summer out of her mind and just try to enjoy herself.

The whole situation gets even more challenging a few days later, when she goes into town for a few errands and idly decides to stop by the shop for lunch with Kara. She grabs a sandwich and salad from Lucy’s – so often Kara ends up eating hot pockets or bags of chips for lunch because she forgets to make one for herself (how she keeps that body, Lena has no idea), and Lena feels like she needs something healthy for once – and when she shows up, she hears voices inside the garage.

Alex’s voice is first, ringing out in exasperation so loudly that Lena doesn’t even need to strain her ears.

“It’s clear that you’re crazy about her, that’s all I’m saying,” She says, and Lena hears Kara’s awkward laugh follow.

“I’m not – Lena is great, really great, but I’m not crazy –“

“I saw the way you looked at her last weekend. We all did, Casanova.”

“Look, she’s gorgeous,” Kara says, and Lena feels the beginnings of a hot, full-body blush. “Of course I was looking at her.”

Lena shifts from foot to foot, her mind going a mile a minute. Kara thinks she’s gorgeous. Kara was looking at her. Kara is gay and thinks she’s gorgeous and was looking at her.

It’s all a little bit too much for her overheated brain.

“I know she is, clearly, but nobody looks at someone the way you were without wanting to get down on one knee,” Alex says, before pausing and amending her statement. “Or, both knees. Whatever. Either way, you should get to it.”

Images of exactly what that would entail jump to Lena’s mind immediately, and the following wave of overwhelming arousal that follows is so strong that she almost drops the Styrofoam container she’s holding.

“Alex!” Kara hisses, as if someone could be listening to them. And, Lena admits with some guilt, someone is.

“I’m just saying! Ask her out, already.”

“Are you kidding?” Kara says, and her voice quiets. She sounds earnest, all of a sudden, in a way that she didn’t when Alex was just teasing her. “Look, I’ve thought about it, but she’s a beautiful, classy businesswoman from the city. She’d want nothing to do with me.”

“Kara, you’re an idiot,” Alex says matter-of-factly.

“Why this time?”

Before Alex can reply, the garage doors open and James’ voice comes booming in, and Lena exhales the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding.

Kara likes her. Kara might ask her out.

And, despite the fleeting nature of anything that could emerge between them, Lena…sort of wants her to.

She doesn’t have much time to think about the revelation, because she can hear footsteps coming towards the hallway and she has to quickly pretend that she’s just come in from outside as Alex comes through the door.

“Lena!” Alex says, looking surprised but not unhappy as the door swings shut behind her. “What are you doing here? That Porsche crap out on you again?”

Lena chuckles, trying to sound as normal as possible when she just listened to Alex telling Kara she should sleep with her, and the images still haunt her.

“No, it’s fine. I just came to give Kara lunch.”

Alex’s eyebrows rise, and her grin is far too knowing for Lena’s liking. “Ahh. Well, she’s in the shop, but she’s due for her break if you want to sit in the office with her.”

Kara looks happy to see her, as usual  and during lunch she acts mostly normal. But there are a few times, now that she has confirmation that Kara might be interested, that she catches the blonde looking at her with an unreadable expression.

 

Chapter Text

Lena has never been this conflicted in her life.

In her 31 years of living, she’s done a lot of things that she didn’t necessarily want to do. She went to schools she didn’t want to, studied business when she wanted to just be a scientist, put her own brother in jail, and left her fulfilling job researching cancer treatment to take over a company she never asked for. But thus far, nothing has made her second-guess herself as much as Kara Danvers.

She wants Kara. This much, she knows. Her attraction to the blonde is almost painful, but she can’t seem to keep herself away. She craves the discomfort it brings, soaks it up like nicotine every time Kara has a few spare moments, and if she could, she’d spend every waking minute with her.

But, it could never work out long-term. Kara belongs here in a way that’s fundamental to her being, and Lena has her responsibilities to get back to at the end of August. They’re from two different worlds, and the fact that ever met at all is an anomaly. It can only be a fling, even if Lena knows her heart is already asking for more.

It’s a small comfort that Kara seems oblivious to every hint Lena ever drops.

Somehow, her fascination with Kara doesn’t dim as the summer progresses – it only gets brighter, even when Kara asks her to do activities she’d usually never be caught dead doing in civilized society.

Like now, for example.

“You want me to watch you compete…in a lawnmower race.”

Kara nods, as if the request is completely ordinary, and looks expectant as she shoves more ice cream into her face. It’s one of Kara’s rare days off, and when Lena accidentally ran into her at M’gann’s stall, Kara insisted they hang out the rest of the day.

“Yeah! Down the main street. James thinks his rig is faster than mine, which is just crazy.”

Lena blinks a few times, still trying to come to terms with the concept. “His rig? You mean…his lawnmower?”

“Yeah!” Kara says matter-of-factly.

“Okay, I need to be completely sure we’re on the same page here,” Lena says, abandoning the spoon she’s stuck into her ice cream. “You want me to watch you drive a riding lawnmower at top speed down a normal road, in the hopes that you beat James, who is also on a lawnmower.”

“Yes! I don’t know why you’re having trouble with this,” Kara says, chasing a stray ice cream drip down her wrist. Lena almost loses track of her argument watching the progress of Kara’s tongue up her hand, but she manages to shake it off.

“It’s a lawnmower.”

“It’s the best part of the duck race!”

The ‘duck race’ is another concept Lena is having trouble with. Why people would gather in the hundreds to throw rubber ducks into the river and bet on which one will get past the finish line first is completely beyond Lena, but it seems to be one of the biggest events of the year. And, along with it apparently comes a lawnmower race, where people go head-to-head on souped up mowers for no apparent reason.

Lena sighs, shaking her head but already resigned to never being able to say no to Kara.

“This town is so strange.”

It’s less strange than she thought it would be, in the end. Nobody takes the duck race too seriously – it’s just a day of fun, where M’gann gives out half-priced cones and serves specialty slushies to kids and a town full of adults gets excited over rubber duckies. The most excited of them all is Kara, who spends no less than 18 minutes picking the perfect duck out of a pile of identical dollar-store toys.

Lena doesn’t get a duck herself – she decides to just observe Kara’s fun instead, and Kara gets so excited about her duck winning 3rd place that she knows she made the right choice. Kara names it Mortimer, puts it on the dash of her truck, and promises to treat Lena to dinner with the $25 pizza gift card she won.

“I still don’t really understand the point of all this,” Lena says, looking around at the sheer amount of people who turned out for the event. “It’s just rubber ducks.”

“It’s an excuse to socialize,” Kara explains, waving at a group of people Lena doesn’t recognize and giving Lucy a high five as she passes. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s only so many things to do here. People like having something to look forward to, even if it’s just rubber ducks. It brings us together.”

It’s a deeper answer than Lena was expecting, and instinctually, she deflects.

“And lawnmower races?” She says sarcastically, but Kara nods excitedly, completely genuine as per usual.

“Yeah!”

Said race starts just after 4, when all the ducks have been fished out of the river and all the ice cream consumed. Everyone seems to know it’s coming – they line up on the sidewalks all along the block that the racers are looping around, some people even producing lawnchairs or pillows to sit in the front rows, and Kara leaves Lena with Alex while she disappears to get ready.

The older Danvers finds them a spot near the makeshift finish line – a long piece of duct tape, stretched across the road and held by two teenagers – and Lena shifts from foot to foot, wondering when Kara will appear. Alex seems to take her restlessness as boredom, however.

“I’m not sure how much you’ll actually enjoy this, being from the city and all,” She says, peering over the heads of the crowd in front of them.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I’m sure you’re used to bigger excitement,” Alex continues, and Lena scoffs self-deprecatingly.

“When I lived in the city, the only excitement I got was when I actually got to leave the office before midnight.”

Alex’s brow knits, and she looks at Lena in surprise. “You worked until midnight?”

“Usually later,” Lena nods, Alex’s concern eerily reminiscent of Sam back home. “And then got up at 6am to do it all again. I had a couch put in my office specifically so that I could sleep there when I needed to.”

Alex whistles, shaking her head. “Jesus Christ, Lena. Seems like you needed a vacation.”

“That’s what my friends said. But come August, I have to go back to it, unfortunately.”

It’s the first time Lena has thought about what going home really means. She’s known that she has to leave Midvale, of course, and Kara, and it made her sad enough to try to put it out of her mind. But what she hadn’t really been thinking too hard about was exactly what she’d be going back to.

She was miserable in her job. She knew by her third day in Midvale. But she hadn’t really thought about exactly how bad it was – sleeping in the office, working herself to the bone, going to meeting after meeting and being talked down to by condescending old men who were still loyal to her brother – until she saw the look on Alex’s face just now. Shock, and pity.

“Well, try to enjoy it while you can, right?” Alex says, and Lena shakes herself out of her thoughts, shrugging.

“Kara seems so excited, I don’t think there’s any way I can avoid enjoying it.”

The look on Alex’s face changes, then. It’s not pitying anymore, but just sort of sad – like she’s sad on behalf of someone else, and it’s not Lena.

Before Lena can ask what that’s all about, there’s a mechanical roar from down the road, and everyone turns to see the commotion.

Rolling down the pavement come six lawnmowers. But, they almost aren’t recognizable as lawnmowers anymore – they’re all modified in some way, from exposed engines to tire blades to what looks like a makeshift flamethrower on the back tailpipe. Kara is front and centre, standing up on a red-and-blue painted lawnmower with ‘DANVERS DEATH MACHINE’ painted on the little hood, and beside her Alex laughs.

“She’s such a goof.”

Lena can’t help but smile too, watching Kara wave at the crowd and rev her engine dramatically. Beside her James is showing off the gigantic monster tires on his machine, and they both seem to be trying to out-cheer each other.

“So, is the race going to start, or - ?” Lena asks, and Alex chuckles.

“They always like to show off first. The race starts when J’onn shoots the flare gun,” Alex explains, and sure enough a few moments later the tall form of the town doctor appears near the start line. The competitors quiet, then, and they all seem to get very serious.

As soon as the flare goes off, there’s a noise so loud that Lena actually covers her ears. All of the mowers seem to be making a huge commotion, but when she looks at the group, they appear to be moving at a snail’s pace.

“I…thought they’d be faster,” She yells over the noise, and Alex laughs.

“We have a rule – nobody gets to mess with their engine too much. The fun of the race is everyone trying to win while going 15 kilometres an hour.”

True to Alex’s word, it is sort of hilarious to watch. Everyone seems to be taking it seriously, faces set in competitive determination, but when their full speed could be topped by an idle housecat, the entertainment of the whole thing is ratcheted up. They might as well be racing on tricycles.

When Kara crosses the finish line mere seconds before James, she catches Lena’s eye and throws her a wink, and Lena is embarrassed to admit how much it made her heart flutter when it came from a woman in overalls astride a spraypainted lawnmower.

Through all of this – the hockey games, the overalls, lawnmower races and pickup trucks and the ridiculous, endearing enthusiasm of Kara’s personality – Lena’s attraction persists, as does her knowledge that Kara is attracted to her in return. The fact that she could just as easily ask Kara out first is one that Lena willfully ignores. It’s probably easier to be friends anyways, no matter how many times a night Lena makes herself come with Kara’s name in her mouth.

It takes so long to come to a head that, when it does, Lena doesn’t even realize it’s happening.

 


 

When Kara asks her to go on a picnic at the treehouse, Lena thinks nothing of it. It’s not an outlandish request – they’ve driven out there together several times, and a picnic seems like a fun way to pass an afternoon. And, when Kara shows up in another button-up seeming strangely nervous, Lena puts it off to her being worried Lena won’t like the food she’s brought. It could make anyone nervous.

Besides, the button-up and Kara’s jeans are clean, but her hair is still tied and tucked under her cap, and there’s a smudge of something dark on her jaw, as if she left work and had to get ready in a hurry. It’s surprisingly sweet, especially when she unbuttons the shirt a little in the summer heat and Lena can see the shop stains on the t-shirt she’s wearing underneath.

A month ago, that would have made her scoff, or at least roll her eyes. Now, it just gives her a warm, affectionate glow, because Kara put in the effort of putting a shirt overtop and scrubbing her hands clean just for her.

Kara lays the blanket down under the shade of the maple tree, and she insists that Lena sit while she hurriedly sets out a mason jar full of lemonade, several containers of food – homemade potato salad, sandwiches, fruit – and, strangely, flowers.

As soon as Lena takes her first bite of the sandwich – prosciutto and baby spinach, which Lena didn’t even realize were available here for anything less than an arm and a leg – Kara is looking at her hopefully.

“Do you like it?”

Lena finishes chewing slowly, the gears in her head turning.

Kara is strangely dressed up, for a casual hangout. There are flowers in a coke bottle on the blanket, daisies and tulips that look like they were snagged from someone’s garden, and Kara is looking at her like there’s something huge at stake. Her fingers drum on the ground nervously, and there’s a blush creeping up her neck.

Oh, my god.

“Kara, is this a date?”

Lena says it almost as soon as the thought enters her head, and she almost regrets it. The idea that Kara would spring a date on her like this seems crazy, especially since she’s been so convinced that the blonde was never going to make a move. But Kara’s whole face lights up red like a beacon, and Lena knows that she was right.

“Oh my god, did you take me on a date without asking me out?” Lena says, almost dropping her sandwich with the realization. This is a date. They’re on a date right now. Kara is interested, and did this whole picnic for her, and this is a date.

She didn’t even shave her legs this morning.

“I got nervous!” Kara stammers, rubbing at the back of her neck. “I just – I’ve been wanting to ask you out but I didn’t know if you’d be receptive, and so I – I figured I could do a test run –“

“You didn’t think – Kara, I’ve been throwing myself at you all summer!”

Kara blinks, putting her own sandwich back into the container. “You…have?”

“I went to a duck race with you.”

Kara laughs, sitting up and brushing the crumbs from her hands. “I guess I just assumed that you had better prospects than me. People more on your level.”

Although Kara says it in her usual breezy tone, Lena can hear the insecurity behind it. Kara thinks she isn’t good enough. Lena can see how she would draw that conclusion – Lena has made no secret of her befuddlement around the various small-town customs Kara introduces her to – but honestly, Kara is the best person she’s been in the vicinity of dating in years. Maybe ever.

Not that she’s willing to admit that, when the prospect of her departure looms over them like a stormcloud. Instead, she shoves the thought down deep with the rest, and shakes her head.

“I don’t have time for prospects.”

“Except on vacation?” Kara says hopefully, shifting closer, and finally, Lena smiles.

Their faces are close, now, and Lena can see all the tiny details she hasn’t had time to focus on before. The tiny, soft hairs that line Kara’s jaw, the flecks of steely grey in her blue eyes, how her lashes are somehow long and dark without a hint of mascara. Lena can feel warm breath on her face, can detect that distinctive Kara scent – warm vanilla and machine shop. Their lips hover close, almost close enough to touch, and Lena finally gives in to what she’s wanted to do for months now.

She wipes away that tiny smudge of oil on Kara’s jaw, takes off her hat, and runs her fingers through Kara’s hair.

Kara’s eyes drift closed as Lena’s nails scrape her scalp, a tiny noise of approval escaping her while Lena leans their foreheads together. Kara’s hair is soft and golden, falling down in ringlets, and Lena’s heart pounds ever faster when those hands land on her knees.

“So...are you gonna kiss me, or not?” Kara whispers, her eyes fluttering open, and with a slow smile Lena grabs the front of the button-up shirt.

It’s hot, and hard, and absolutely perfect. The desire she’s tried so hard to dampen comes alive, unfurling in her chest and roaring in pleasure, and Lena isn’t even ashamed of the pathetic noise that leaves her as their lips meet.

Kara seems to be expecting a soft kiss, but Lena is tired of the dance. Of tiptoeing around each other, somewhere between friends and lovers, constantly resisting the urge to push Kara onto the nearest surface and climb into her lap.

So, she does just that.

Christ, Lena,” Kara gasps, as Lena pushes her onto her back and swings a leg over her hips, moving those calloused hands to her waist. “I should’ve done this sooner.”

“Yes, you should have,” Lena replies, leaning down and grinning into the next kiss. She can feel Kara smiling too, making it that much easier for her to deepen it until she can feel Kara’s tongue sweeping over her own.

It’s like a sigh of relief, this kiss. The force of everything she’s been holding back for 2 months hits her like a tsunami, and Lena finds herself genuinely considering letting Kara take her right here on this blanket – but Kara remains stubbornly gallant, only moving her hands from Lena’s waist to her hips and finally to her thighs when Lena guides them there herself. Lena knows she’s wanted – Kara’s hands shake with it, the heat of her kisses and the little noises she makes and the twitchy, unconscious movements of her hips make it clear – but she seems determined to be a gentleman.

So Lena tries to slow down, even though everything in her is screaming the opposite. She kisses slowly, thoroughly, enjoying Kara’s skilled tongue and broad hands – the pressure builds inside her until she feels like she might explode, and she only stops when she feels something tickling her arm and it turns out to be the biggest ant she’s ever seen.

Some of the pressure gets vented, then.

But it doesn’t last for long. Kara drives Lena home and walks her to the step, and a brief goodnight kiss turns abruptly into a heated goodnight makeout session against her door. Kara pins her to the wood and Lena drops her keys, throwing her arms around that strong neck and losing herself in it.

As Kara lays hot kisses up her throat, Lena finally groans the words she’s been thinking since she moved here.

God, I want you.”

Kara whimpers, her hips bucking slightly so that she grinds into Lena just enough to make her want to come out of her skin. “I want you too, Lena, fuck –“

It’s one of the few times Lena has ever heard Kara swear, and it’s alarmingly affecting. She grinds herself down onto the thigh that’s been accidentally presented, and suddenly the swell of her desire is too much to keep in. She needs more, she needs Kara, and finally she pulls away and gasps into her mouth.

“Nightcap?”

Instead of the enthusiastic yes she’d been hoping for, Kara actually slows down and when she speaks, her voice is shaky.

“Maybe, um. Maybe we should slow down,” She murmurs, and Lena has to take a big, fortifying breath. “Right? We only just kissed. I feel like I should take you out for real before…you know.”

Lena tries valiantly to hide her disappointment. It’s sweet, that Kara wants to treat her right, but her body is screaming for something very specific, and with a weary resignation she resigns herself to her usual self-treatment tonight.

“Of course. Whenever you’re ready,” She says, and she means it. She does. Kara deserves to go at her own pace, no matter how much Lena wants to race to the finish line.

Their goodnight kiss is sweet and chaste, and Lena appreciates it. She also appreciates the way Kara goes back to her truck and leaves swiftly - swiftly enough that Lena can go inside and immediately strip down to nothing but her silk robe, pour herself a glass of wine, and recline on her couch to deal with the problem that still throbs between her legs.

At this point, doing this is so routine that it goes like clockwork. Lena gets through most of a glass of wine, thinking about exactly what she wants Kara to do to her. What she’d do to Kara. All the sweaty, dirty ways they could get to know each other. She lets her robe slide open, exposing her skin to the air, and as she fantasizes, her hands wander. Over her collarbone, her breasts, down her stomach and finally, between her thighs.

The moment her fingers make contact, it feels like a wire has been run directly from her clit to her brain. She’s so wet that her hand is coated with it in seconds, and her fingers slip right in – and god, its so good, how her palm presses on her clit and her fingers curl just like Kara’s would if she – if she was inside

Lena’s is on the razor’s edge of the world’s quickest orgasm when the doorbell rings, and for the first time in her life she seriously contemplates how easy it would be to cover up a murder out here.

With a frustrated groan, she ties the robe back up and stalks over to the door, trying to ignore the slickness that coats her inner thighs. But the frustration dissipates when she whips it open to reveal Kara, leaning against the doorframe and looking as intense as Lena has ever seen her.

“Kara,” Lena says breathlessly, surprised. “I didn’t…I thought you went home?” She’s suddenly intensely aware of the fact that her fingers are still slick, and she slides them together self-consciously at her side, hoping Kara won’t notice.

“I…changed my mind.” Kara’s voice is low and husky, and it makes Lena shiver. “I was driving home and thinking about you, and I just thought…what kind of idiot leaves in a situation like that? I figured I should be a gentleman, but I was so into it and you seemed to be too, and I just sort of panicked, so I came back to see if – but if you don’t want to, I understand –“

Whatever confidence Kara had when she knocked seems to be evaporating by the second, and Lena knows how to stop it.

She grabs the tie of her robe, untwists it, and lets it drift open.

Immediately, Kara chokes on her words. Her gaze drifts down, her eyes visibly darkening as she takes in all the skin Lena just shamelessly bared, and Lena feels the path her eyes take like a brand on her skin. It tingles and burns, and reminds her viscerally of exactly what she was on the edge of just a minute ago.

Fuck,” Kara breathes, and nanoseconds later her rough hands are cupping Lena’s face and her entire clothed front is pressed to Lena’s terribly naked one. Their kisses seem to pick up exactly where they let off – hot, open-mouthed, and messy.

“God, I’m glad you came back,” Lena gasps as Kara trails kisses down her neck, calloused hands sliding down to cup around Lena’s bare thighs.

“Me too,” Kara mumbles, and suddenly there’s a denim-covered leg being pressed into her centre, and she’s still so wet from earlier that she can feel the deep stain she’s leaving on the fabric.

She wants to feel Kara’s naked skin there.

“Off,” Lena mutters as Kara bites at her lower lip. She fumbles with the button of the blonde’s pants, her hands shaky. “Take these off –“

But Kara is already knocking her hand away, yanking the pants down until she’s left in checkered boxer briefs. She struggles for balance for a moment while she rips off her boots and socks, but before long she’s free, and she picks Lena up and carries her to the couch like she weighs nothing.

The easy strength with which she picks Lena up, as well as the way her hipbone presses into Lena’s cunt, have her just as desperate as she was before Kara arrived.

They fall back onto the cushions, and Lena cups Kara’s face with her right hand to guide her in for a kiss – but before their lips meet, Kara stops.

“Your hand is wet,” She says distractedly, and Lena can feel her whole body light up in a blush.

“Oh. I – yes. After you left, I was…a little…frustrated,” She edges, and understanding dawns on Kara’s face. Mortified, Lena tries to distract from the subject by grabbing her chin with the wet hand and directing her into a kiss.

“Yes, yes, I was so turned on after you left that I had to fuck myself, but you’re here now so can we just –“

“Did you come?”

That question is enough to make Lena stop. It’s the most vulgar thing she’s ever heard Kara say, said with an intensity that borders on fascination, and it lights her up from head to toe.

“No,” She whispers, rubbing her legs together to attempt to relieve some of the pressure. But Kara shifts her hips so that they pin Lena’s thighs open, spread and helpless, and the quiet confidence in the movement is almost enough to make her come in itself. “I was – when you got here, I was about to.”

Kara smiles then, slow and satisfied, and in a move that almost makes Lena’s brain shut down entirely, she turns her head and takes Lena’s wet fingers into her mouth.

It’s like she’s dealing with two different versions of Kara. The one she’s been getting to know, the sweet, almost old-fashioned small town woman, is nowhere to be found – she’s been replaced by this Kara, who moves her mouth down Lena’s slick fingers until they’re completely engulfed and sighs at the taste. Who grinds her pelvis into Lena’s bare, spread cunt, and grins at her moan.

The duality is as intoxicating as it is surprising.

Lena can feel the fabric of Kara’s shirt rubbing against her clit, dry and then so, so wet, and she knows she’s leaving a stain on the clean cotton but Kara doesn’t seem to care. She just grinds harder, finally kissing Lena again hard and fast and swallowing her whimpers.

“I’m sorry I left –“ She gasps into Lena’s mouth, and Lena wraps tight fists in the collar of her shirt, pulling her closer.

“God, I don’t care, just make me – fuck!”

In response to Lena’s plea, Kara presses her abs down firm, and Lena is lost. She couldn’t stop herself from grinding onto the hard surface she’s been given if she tried - and with Kara helping the process with hands on her hips and teeth on her neck, it’s an embarrassingly short time before Lena is coming fast and hard, twitching and crying out as her craving is finally sated.

Yes,” Kara murmurs into her collarbone, and her voice is shaky as she slows her movement to gentle rocking. “So good, Lena.”

The warm, affected tone is almost enough to make Lena come again. She has no doubt that she’s capable. It’s like an itch long-had is finally scratched, something deep and primal in her stretching out and purring like a cat, and for a few seconds all she can do is bask in it.

In the moments after, when Kara is breathing in hot pants against her collar and Lena is still coasting on the warm updraft of her orgasm, Lena finally forms an awareness of the exact situation. She’s completely naked, her robe having slipped from her shoulders somewhere on the trip to the couch, and her legs are wrapped tightly around Kara who is still almost entirely clothed. She can feel herself pulsing lazily against Kara’s the now-soaked shirt – the only clothing Kara lost during the whole exchange was her pants and shoes, scattered across the living room, and her hat, which Lena can vaguely remember throwing behind them.

It’s a scene that speaks of the desperation that’s been mounting inside her all summer, but she can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed at her own fervour.

“Sorry about your shirt,” Lena mutters shakily, running her fingers through the shorter hairs at the base of Kara’s neck under her ponytail. In response Kara lifts herself slightly, looking between their bodies to look at what Lena can now see is a stain that takes up the entire lower torso of her shirt. Lena can see her own come, is hyperaware of the slick strings of arousal that still connect the shirt to her cunt, and it makes her pulse as much as it makes her face heat up.

Kara makes a noise, then, somewhere between a moan and a growl, and the next thing Lena is aware of is being kissed to within an inch of her life. Kara is all tongue and teeth, passionate and all-encompassing, and if Lena’s legs could spread any wider than they already are, she’d be following that instinct.

When Kara pulls away Lena whimpers her disapproval, but since it’s to strip off her shirt and bra, she supposes that exceptions can be made.

When they’re finally pressed together, chest to naked chest, hot and wanting, it feels even better than Lena imagined. Kara is a woman possessed, pulling Lena to her by the waist, the hip, and finally by grabbing handfuls of her ass, grinding and kissing Lena like she’s never been kissed before. If Lena thought that her desire was spilling out like a broken dam, Kara’s seems to match, and the thought is electrifying.

Lena struggles to breathe like a normal human being as Kara’s mouth moves from her lips to her throat, down her chest, and finally to her breasts, but to no avail. She ends up gasping for air as Kara applies a talented mouth to her nipples, swirling and sucking desperately like it’s something she’s been fixated on for as long as Lena has.

The last thing she needs is more foreplay, with the way her body wants to shoot off again at the slightest provocation, but Kara’s mouth feels so damn good. Every brush of her tongue sends a bolt of lightning to Lena’s clit, makes her empty cunt feel emptier, and she’s just about reached the end of her sanity when Kara’s hand finally slips between them, tracing almost hesitantly through the veritable ocean between Lena’s legs.

“Is this okay?” She murmurs sweetly, looking up at Lena between the valley of her breasts. Her mouth is red and swollen from their kisses and shiny from the attention she’s been giving Lena’s aching nipples, and her eyes are so dark that the baby blue Lena loves so much is almost eclipsed by pupil, but Lena knows that if she expressed any hesitation, Kara would stop in a second.

She absolutely cannot let that happen.

Grabbing Kara’s hand and folding down her pinkie, Lena slips three long fingers inside herself until the knuckles hit her cunt.

For a moment, they both go still. Lena makes a strangled noise, and Kara murmurs fuck against her chest – it’s so good, those three motionless fingers stretching her open, Kara’s fingers, the way her mouth still hovers over Lena’s sensitive nipples and how she waits for Lena’s green light before she moves her hand. It’s perfect, and as much as she wants to come again, she also wants to save a snapshot of this moment in her memory forever.

When Lena finally nods, shifting her hips up, Kara makes short work of completely overshadowing the orgasm she just had.

As soon as she discerns that Lena is moving her hips more vigorously than she’s thrusting, Kara seems to grasp exactly what she needs in record time. She fucks Lena hard and fast, bracing herself against the cushions for optimal leverage and sucking hard on her nipples, and the moment she curls her fingers and scrapes her teeth, Lena is coming so hard that she’s fairly sure she blacks out completely. One moment she’s crying out, pleasure coursing through her to the tips of her toes, and the next she’s hoarse and limp, Kara laying soft kisses over her sweaty face.

With a soft noise, Lena halts Kara’s path and pulls her in for a proper kiss. It’s deep and slow, perfect for Lena’s post-coital bliss – but when she moves her leg slightly and it brushes Kara’s wet boxer-briefs, she can feel the blonde’s hips jump almost violently.

Kara is clearly needy, quivering and wet, and all sense of calm is washed away by the untempered desire to reciprocate.

“Bedroom?” She murmurs into Kara’s mouth, and the reply is some of the most enthusiastic nodding she’s ever seen. She practically drags Kara there, pushing her down onto the mattress, and when Kara tries to flip them over to have her way again, Lena stops her with a hand on the chest.

“It’s my turn,” She smirks, laying a kiss just over where her hand rests, on Kara’s sternum. Kara swallows hard.

“I’m fine, seriously. I just want to make you feel good,” She insists, but the wet patch on her underwear tells a different story. Lena pulls back slightly, frowning.

“I want to touch you, Kara. If you really don’t want me to, that’s okay. But don’t put yourself aside for me.”

Kara seems to deliberate, for a moment. She looks almost confused, as if this is something she’s never heard before, and briefly Lena wonders exactly what kind of people Kara has dated in the past. But finally Kara nods, relaxing onto the pillows, and Lena abandons rational thought for action.

The action, of course, is kissing her way down Kara’s body, pulling off her boxers, and putting her mouth to work.

But, not too quickly.

She wants to savour this. She wants to settle in, spread Kara out, and explore. So, she does just that – she eases Kara’s legs apart, and slips into the space.

She starts, rather selfishly, with Kara’s nipples. They’re pink and puffy, and she pulls them into her mouth eagerly as Kara’s breath hitches. But Kara, clearly, is not as sensitive there as Lena is – she’s clearly enjoying herself, but it’s not driving her wild like Lena hoped – so she moves on, nipping her way down the trembling muscle of Kara’s stomach and nosing her way through the soft, blonde line of Kara’s treasure trail. It’s almost downy, and she enjoys it almost as much as Kara seems to be enjoying her current trajectory.

When Lena moves lower, she feels Kara’s hand slide over her shoulder and grip tightly. Not a warning grip, just a grounding one – like Kara is afraid that, if she doesn’t hold on, she’ll float away.

Lena can relate.

Kara is so soft here. Her inner thighs are as downy as her belly, the softness making it clear that Kara doesn’t shave this far up, and Lena loves how they feel against her lips. Her cunt is pink and wet, splayed open and glistening, and all around it is even more soft blonde hair. Kara doesn’t shave, and as Lena leans in and noses through it happily, she can feel her relax.

And then, finally, Lena licks a firm line over the swollen bud of Kara’s clit.

Oral is, historically, one of Lena’s favourite things in the world to do. She loves how women taste, how they feel under her tongue, the way they arch and whine when they come in her mouth. And of all the women she’s done this for, Kara is by far the best. She’s so open, and slick, and ready, and god she’s responsive – her hips twitch and jerk with every swipe of Lena’s tongue, and her fists are clenched hard on the headboard as if she’s trying to control herself. But she seems to be keeping herself from coming, somehow. As if she’s afraid to hurt Lena.

But, Lena wants her to let go. She wants Kara to lose it, release that tightly-held restraint and take what she wants.

“What do you need?” Lena murmurs, kissing a wide circle around Kara’s wet clit and revelling in the way Kara moves to follow her lips. Kara herself is wordless, her hands clenching and releasing again, but Lena can see in her eyes a kind of desperation. Like she’s trying to communicate telepathically, unused to voicing her desires.

“Whatever you need to come, Kara, I promise you I will be into it,” Lena assures her, dragging short nails over Kara’s outer thighs as she holds her legs open. Kara swallows, biting her lip.

“I need – “ She starts, but her voice cracks and falls silent again. Instead she eases her hand into Lena’s hair and squeezes experimentally, her hips twitching.

Lena knows immediately what she’s asking for, and it makes her entire lower body feel like it’s melting into an aroused puddle somewhere on the mattress.

“You need to grind?” She says quietly, and Kara nods frantically. There’s an insistent voice coming from between her legs that is very much in favour of this development, and Lena lets it do the talking.

“Go ahead. I like it rough.”

As soon as her tongue is in position again Kara is pushing at her head, grinding her hips hard into Lena’s face, and it’s every bit as gratifying as she thought it would be. Lena doesn’t break eye contact, letting Kara ride her face and moaning at the way it makes her twitch – and when she flattens her tongue for a better surface to grind on, Kara snaps.

“Fuck –“ Kara chokes, her head falling back as her hips move faster. “Fuck, Lena –“

Lena just groans, tightening her jaw and holding on for the ride. When Kara finally seems to realize how much Lena is enjoying herself, it’s only a few minutes of confident, focused grinding before she’s coming, her whole body quivering like a tightened rubber band.

The noise she makes is music to Lena’s ears, and she logs it away in her mental bank for vigorous use in the future.

Lena hardly gives her a moment to recuperate before she’s climbing up her body for a messy kiss, straddling Kara’s lap and pressing down, ready for more.

“Eager, are you?” Kara grins, her hands already pressing hard into the flesh of Lena’s hips.

“Shut up,” Lena retorts breathlessly, pulling Kara’s hand instead to where it’s needed – and after that, the talking is minimal.

 


 

When she wakes up, Lena notices the differences to her usual morning routine right away.

The curtains that she usually draws before bed have been thrown open, the morning sunlight streaming in and warming her face. She can already smell coffee drifting up from the kitchen, and there’s a soft noise coming from the same direction – singing, it seems like. Quiet and soothing. Her mouth tastes distinctly like she forgot to brush her teeth last night, and there’s a definite soreness in almost every part of her body.

And, most noticeably, she is very naked.

When she stretches out over the soft sheets, shaking the last of the sleep from her limbs, she’s made very aware of the remnant slipperiness between her legs. It’s a pleasant reminder of the night’s events, which flick through her mind like a series of movie scenes – coming all over Kara’s shirt, Kara grinding against her face, Kara’s mouth on every inch of her body, being bent over and fucked so hard that she’s pretty sure there’s a dent in her wall where the headboard kept hitting it – and, rather than being worried about what happens next, Lena just lets the warmth in her chest diffuse to her whole body.

She pads downstairs to the most beautiful sight she can imagine.

Kara is in her kitchen, in her underwear and sports bra, her wavy blonde hair full and loose and messy as she flips what looks like an omelette in a frying pan and turns off the burner. She reaches over for one of Lena’s mugs, taking a sip of coffee, and continues humming a song Lena doesn’t recognize – behind her, crystal clear through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the sun shines off the lake and filters through the leaves, dancing golden across Kara’s skin. There’s a full French press on the counter and a second mug waiting, a cutting board full of chopped vegetables on the kitchen island, and a sizeable hickey on Kara’s neck.

She feels like an interloper in the scene, catching a glimpse of a Kara she’s never seen before. One that’s never shown to the world. Everything seems irrevocably changed now, their relationship made infinitely more complicated, and she genuinely considers leaving to collect herself but soon enough Kara turns around to grab a pinch of parmesan cheese, and she’s spotted.

“Lena!” Kara says, grinning wide and genuine. She sprinkles the parmesan and some chives on top of an omelette, before handing it over. “Good morning! I sort of guessed what you’d like. Are mushrooms okay?”

Lena nods mutely, taking the warm plate Kara hands her. The omelette is perfect and golden, rolled up in the French way with colourful ingredients spilling out the sides, and Lena isn’t sure whether to eat it or just stare at Kara, who’s now busying herself with the frying pan. In the end she decides on sitting down on one of the island stools, holding her fork and feeling a little like she’s in the twilight zone.

Kara plates her own omelette just a moment later, this one with green peppers and some tomatoes, and promptly upends a bottle of ketchup on top of it.

Lena finally breaks out of her trance, shaking her head with a chuckle.

Kara is still Kara.

“That’s disgusting,” She remarks, finally bringing her own first delicious bite of egg, mushroom, and spinach up to her mouth. Kara laughs, digging her fork into the ketchupy monstrosity.

“Ketchup and eggs are a perfect pair.”

“Ketchup belongs on hamburgers and French fries. And that is all.”

“How dare you,” Kara says, her fork pointed in Lena’s direction with a grin, and Lena finally relaxes entirely. It’s just like a regular meal with Kara. Nothing has changed, besides the fact that Kara is in her underwear and Lena is naked under her robe.

And, Kara can’t seem to tear her eyes away from where the silk gapes open at her chest.

When they finish the food Lena gathers the dishes and piles them into the dishwasher, all the time trying to formulate the right words. The right way to say, I really like you, but…

“Lena? You okay?”

Lena blinks, Kara’s voice startling her out of her thoughts. She realizes that she’s been staring into the dishwasher for at least 30 seconds, and Kara is looking at her with a concerned expression.

With a deep breath, Lena decides to just go for it.

“You know I can’t do anything serious. Right?”

To her surprise, Kara nods.

“I know,” She shrugs, her eyes still kind and open. Lena pauses, the half-formed speech about distance and intimacy disappearing in the face of the unexpected reaction.

“You…do?” She asks, and Kara nods again, leaning forwards onto the island and folding her arms casually.

“You’re leaving at the end of the summer, Lena. I’m not expecting anything from you, here. Honestly, I think it’s better for both of us that way.”

It seems too good to be true, really. Kara is absurdly attractive, gave her frankly incredible sex last night, and doesn’t want anything serious. It’s like someone wrapped her up with a little bow and left her on the doorstep for a perfect vacation.

“So…you genuinely, actually just want a fling? Something casual?” Lena ventures, skeptical that her luck could possibly be this good. But Kara nods the affirmative, rubbing her hands together.

“Relationships have…not been kind to me in the past,” She says vaguely, and Lena raises an eyebrow.

“Oh, really? Do tell.”

“I’d really rather not,” Kara brushes it off casually, but Lena is painfully curious. Kara seems so open, so easy to love, and the idea of her shying away from real romance seems out of character.

“Come on, Kara,” Lena encourages, sitting herself on the stool next to the blonde and scooting closer. “That dog won’t hunt, isn’t that what you say around here?”

“Oh my god –“ Kara laughs, covering her face, and Lena pokes at her shoulder.

“Come on, tell me. I want to hear your sordid romantic history.”

“It’s not sordid,” Kara insists, but she yields to Lena’s request. “You know about Siobahn, in high school. And then I dated some girls in college. A…lot of girls.“

Lena snorts. “Bragging. Was your casual rule in effect then?”

“Nah. I fell for some, and they all left. And when I came back here…”

“What?” Lena asks, genuinely intrigued by Kara’s life before they met. What made her the woman she is today.

“Well…Leslie and I were sort of. Together. Vaguely. Before I left for college.”

Lena blinks, conjuring up the only ‘Leslie’ she knows of in town, as unlikely as it might seem that she possibly dated Kara.

“The bartender?” She asks, and Kara nods. Lena has no idea how that relationship would have looked – Leslie is a person whose abrasive personality borders on aggressive, and she can’t imagine how sweet, funny Kara might have fallen for her. “How the hell did that happen? She doesn’t seem like your type.”

Kara shrugs. “It’s a small town. Everyone kind of has to be your type.”

Lena snorts, but she concedes the point. There isn’t exactly a wide pool when you live in a tiny rural town and you’re gay.

“The breakup was…bad,” Kara continues, swirling her coffee in its mug. “She wanted to come with me, but I just…didn’t feel the same way. I told her she should go to the school she wanted to go to. So we broke up, and then when I came back here, it turns out she dropped out and took over the bar.”

“Yikes,” Lena cringes, and Kara gives a self-deprecating smile.

“Yeah. And then we had…a backslide, after I came back,” She admits, staring into her mug like it can protect her from Lena’s judgement.

“Oh, no,” Lena groans, more out of sympathy than disapproval. She’s been there, in the horrible grayspace between a breakup and estrangement, when every face-to-face meeting reminds you of the good times. She had quite a few backslides herself, as much as she’s reticent to admit it.

“Yeah,” Kara winces. “We’re mostly okay now, but…I’d prefer that didn’t happen again.”

A mood lightener is very clearly in order, so Lena leans forward on the counter, bending so that she’s in Kara’s downcast eyeline.

“Well, I promise I won’t beg for you to come with me when I leave.”

Finally Kara’s melancholy breaks and she laughs gently, the sparkle returning to her eyes. She leans forward, meeting Lena with a firm, decisive kiss. “Good. I feel like a summer fling will do you good, Lena Luthor, and I’m happy to serve.”

One kiss turns into several, which turns into Kara sliding off her stool to slot between Lena’s open legs and pin her to the island. Lena is still deliciously sore but her body reacts anyways, firing up like a kiln for Kara at the slightest provocation; and she knows without a doubt that, sore or not, she’d take Kara inside her again in a heartbeat.

And it seems to be going that way. Kara is on her hot and heavy, her hands sliding down to cup Lena’s thighs and her teeth sinking into her lower lip - at least, until Lena accidentally puts her elbow into the pile of grated parmesan on the cutting board, and she declares that it’s time to move to the couch.

Kara puts a movie on, some animated feature on Netflix about kids and tiny yellow creatures, but they’re barely past the opening credits before their lips are glued together again.

Kara kisses like she fixes cars – easily, skillfully, and with a singular focus. She kisses in a way that makes the world disappear. Everything narrows to teeth and tongue and hands, subtle grinding and hot breath on her skin, and the sated soreness of the night is forgotten. Her body is limber and aching again, even with Steve Carrell’s stupid accent playing in the background.

“So, what about your dating history?” Kara asks 30 minutes in, when the yellow creatures are screaming on the screen and Lena’s body is screaming for Kara’s lips to be on it again. “It’s only fair.”

Lena blinks, the whiplash of going from heavy petting to talking about the past again making her a little dizzy.

“…what?” She says dazedly, and Kara looks down at her expectantly.

“I told you mine.”

Lena scoffs, shifting under Kara and noting that the blonde hasn’t let up on the pressure she’s putting on her pelvis. She just seems to be hitting ‘pause’ for some reason, and if it means more kissing afterwards, Lena can play along.

“What dating history? I’ve only ever had showmances, really,” Lena says, ignoring Kara’s frown at the admission. “I fell in love once, in boarding school, and when the headmistress caught us she told my mother. My mother had her expelled, and made it clear that it couldn’t happen again.”

She says it matter-of-factly, trying to get it over with so she can get back to the good part, but Kara engages.

“She had her expelled?” She says, clearly horrified. Lena nods.

“I didn’t start dating women openly until two years ago, when I…when my mother stopped having such an influence on my life.” Saying when I put my mother in jail for conspiracy and mass murder is much too intense, especially when the last thing Lena wants is for everyone here to know exactly which Luthors she’s related to.

“Well, your mother sounds like a cow,” Kara says, and Lena manages a laugh. She thinks about Lillian, her stone-cold expression when Lena gave the testimony that put her right in prison with Lex. How she’s consistently asked Lena to visit her, hoping to manipulate her into feeling guilty, and she’s turned her down every time, even if it usually has to be followed by a wine-and-tears night with Sam and Jack.

“She is.”

Kara, thank god, seems to take that for what it is – the end of the conversation. She dips back down – Lena hadn’t really noticed that she had essentially been planking for that whole conversation, and the ease with which she holds herself up is incredibly stirring – and finally kisses Lena senseless again. Her mother and her rocky romantic past fade away, and for a while, Lena just goes with the flow.

The flow ends up giving her four more orgasms by the time they pass out in her bed again, so in the end, the stupid feelings talk was worth it.

She’s roused the next morning not by the smell of coffee or the sun on her face, but by the rustle of Kara getting dressed at – Lena squints blearily at her phone, lit up on the bedside table – 6 o’clock in the goddamn morning.

“Hey,” Kara whispers, seeing her movement and sitting down next to Lena on the bed. “I have to work today. I tried not to wake you.”

“Come back to bed,” Lena grumbles into her pillow, burying her face in the soft fabric. Three months ago she wouldn’t be caught dead sleeping in, especially not on a Monday, but currently she’s tired and a little bit worked up from the combination of last night’s memories and a pleasant dream she was having, and she tugs at Kara’s arm until the blonde falls back into bed, laughing.

“As much as I wish I could, I think Alex would genuinely kill me if I didn’t show up because I was too busy getting laid.”

Lena snorts, and finally she lets Kara go. After a few kisses, anyways.

She follows Kara downstairs to show her out, and she takes note for the first time this weekend the state of her house. The couch cushions are in disarray – probably from her attempt to straddle Kara’s face last night, which ended up with her on the floor and Kara screaming with laughter until they relocated to bed – and two days worth of clothes are scattered across the living room and kitchen. The remains of dinner last night is still all over the kitchen – she had cut up some cheese and bread, which they ate mostly naked and then used the counter for other activities.

And, most noticeably, the evidence of the drastic change in their relationship is painted across her figure. Her body is a litany of hickies and bruises, bite marks and smudges of her own lipstick tracked over her skin by Kara’s mouth.

She knows she needs to shower and clean, but something in her actually likes it.

Kara is just heading to her truck and Lena is about to close the door behind her and get started on her morning when she has a realization.

“Kara!” She calls, and the blonde halts, turning around quickly.

“Yeah?”

“Um,” Lena hesitates, twisting the fabric of her robe in her fingers. It seems ridiculous, now, given how much time they’ve spent together. She spent the last two days naked with Kara, for god’s sake. But after all this time, she still hasn’t asked.

“Could I…have your number?”

And, just like that, they’re seeing each other. Casually.

It’s not much different than before, if she’s being honest. She still meets Kara for lunch, still hangs out with everyone at the bar and goes to town events just to see her – only now, she also has Kara in her bed several nights a week, and her new acquisition of Kara’s phone number means that there’s also texting involved. Very detailed, very private texting. Any trepidation she still feels about taking this huge step is erased the first time Kara texts I can’t stop thinking about you.

Oh? Lena texts back, smiling and taking a sip of wine. Do tell. She’s in for the night, fluffy slippers on and a nature documentary playing, and it’s just about the perfect time for such a distraction.

When Kara replies with thinking about how you’d look riding my strap, Lena chokes so hard on her red wine that she ends up with a burgundy spray-radius all over her white living room rug.

They have a lot to try together, Lena realizes as she formulates a response. And so little time to do it in. But if she has to leave in a month and a half, she’s damn well going to take advantage of having Kara now.

Finally, she finishes typing and hits send, grinning smugly at what she thinks might actually throw Kara off her game.

You really think you have one big enough for me?

Across town, Kara’s phone screen shatters as she drops it on the shop floor.

Chapter Text

At the very least, the fact that Lena now sees Kara naked more or less every day means that she’s not struck completely dumb the first time she sees her in a bathing suit.

She’s only struck a little bit dumb.

The occasion is a beach day at the lake, arranged (more like insisted upon, in Lena’s opinion) by Winn. The end of July is approaching and the heat makes it clear that August is on the horizon – it’s sunny, at least, but it’s also hot and humid, and the stickiness of the air is enough to convince Lena to actually go in the water rather than lounge on the beach under a UV-protected umbrella.

Even if being in the water involves being close to Kara, in a bikini top and swim trunks, and not being able to follow the droplets of water down her abs with her tongue like she so badly wants to do.

As Kara jumps in the air, hair slicked back and muscles flexing while she hits an inflatable volleyball back towards James, Lena makes a mental note to ask her about shower sex sometime soon.

Even with the heat, Lena can only spend so long getting splashed. She ends up back on the beach with Nia, Brainy and Alex, sitting on a plastic lounge chair in her sarong just where the sand meets the grass and watching from afar. She tries not to make it too obvious, the way she’s following Kara’s every move, but Alex is looking at her with a deep suspicion.

It’s not like they’re keeping anything secret. It’s just that, since they aren’t exactly dating, there isn’t any kind of announcement to be made. Walking into the bar and saying ‘hey everyone, Kara and I are sleeping together now’ is both nightmarish and unnecessary. But unfortunately, it also means that she has to endure the scrutiny of half the town.

Right now at least it’s only a few, even if one of them is the most observant person in a 50 kilometre radius. She can relax a little, snack on Nia’s homemade trail mix, and watch Kara enjoy herself in the water. Very closely.

When her trail mix disappears from her hand, she’s almost too distracted to notice until Alex yells.

“You gotta hold on to your food better than that, Lena!”

When she finally pulls her eyes away from Kara, who’s pointing at somewhere to Lena’s left, she realizes that her snack has been pilfered. A seagull is making away with the Ziploc bag, squawking all the way, and Lena’s brain finally catches up.

“What the hell?”

Kara, who is wading out of the water and onto the beach, picks up a nearby stick and throws it at the retreating bird. It misses by a wide berth, but Lena appreciates the effort.

“Stupid shithawk,” She yells after it, cupping her hands for volume, but the seagull pays no mind.

“That is the strangest name I’ve ever heard for a seagull,” Lena comments as Kara flops onto a sandy towel next to her, still not entirely sure what just happened.

“It’s true, though,” Kara says, opening a Coke and taking a few hearty gulps. Lena watches her throat bob for a few seconds before she starts considering getting a pop of her own to cure the sudden dryness of her mouth.

As the day marches on, though, Lena becomes aware of a bigger problem. She has to use the bathroom, and the path to the little town building with restrooms and a single vending machine is being guarded by the biggest Canada Goose she’s ever seen.

For an hour or so, she hopes that someone else will go first and scare it away. But everyone seems to either be just as afraid of the bird as she is or not have to use the washroom, and finally, she has to do it herself.

It’s just a bird, she tells herself as she finally gets up and slips her sandals on. What can it possibly do?

But the seagull incident has left her nervous, and the goose seems to sense her hesitation. It pauses in its pacing over the grass when she approaches, and as if it can smell her fear, it starts to puff up its wings.

Briefly, she considers calling for Kara. But yelling for the blonde to come save her from a stupid bird seems ridiculous, and instead she steels her courage and steps forward.

The moment she does, the goose lets out an absolutely hell-rending honk, and charges.

At the very least, Lena manages not to scream. But a massive, hissing demon bird is running at her full speed, flapping its gargoyle wings, and there’s nothing she can do but squeak in an undignified manner, drop her purse, and run.

She runs not back towards the group, but to the left, ducking around a tree and hoping that she can avoid what she can now see is a gaping beak full of what looks like little razor teeth – but just as she’s thinking she’s going to get bitten, the bird lets out a disgruntled noise and falls behind.

When Lena turns around, panting, she can see that the disruption is Kara, holding a wet beach towel like a whip.

“Square up, big fella!” She yells, snapping the towel at the goose and not even flinching when it hisses. “Get outta here!”

It fights her for a moment – it backs up with its wings akimbo, looking ready for a fight – but Kara puffs herself up to full height and snaps the towel again, and it seems to give up the ghost. With a final, angry honk, the bird backs off, disappearing over the hill and towards the boat launch.

Kara turns around, throwing the towel over her shoulder and saluting in Lena’s direction.

“Need an escort?”

Lena laughs, and takes Kara’s arm. “My knight in shining pickup truck. I had no idea you were so proficient at towel-snapping.”

“You should see what I can do with a slingshot.”

As July rolls into August, Lena realizes something. She’s been lonely, before this. Deeply, intensely lonely, in a way that she couldn’t detect until she had someone – multiple people, after Kara started insisting on inviting Lena to game nights and dinners with her friends and sister – to spend her time with, rather than the long nights and early mornings at work she’s been used to for her entire adult life.

Here she can stay up late, not to finish paperwork or run conference calls to Tokyo, but to watch the stars or go to karaoke night or even just watch movies on her couch until she falls asleep with her head on Kara’s lap.

It’s so, so easy to lose herself in it, even when she can hear the clock ticking down.

In fact, she gets so lost in it that she entirely forgets about updating the only other two important people in her life. So, when her phone rings with a FaceTime request a week and a half into her new agreement with Kara, Lena has a moment of full-blown panic after she instinctually hits the talk button.

“Hey, stranger,” Sam says, a hint of reproach in her voice as her face comes into pixelated view. “Long time no see!”

“Yeah, we thought maybe you’d been carried off into the woods and murdered,” Jack quips, and Lena can’t avoid the warm, familiar feeling she gets from seeing her friend’s faces, even when she’s desperately trying to figure out a way to avoid the impending conversation. It looks like Sam got new glasses, and Jack’s beard is a bit longer than she remembers – but, it doesn’t have the effect on her that she thought it would. She misses her friends, but she doesn’t have the desire to pack up and leave that she thought she would at this point in the summer.

Perhaps the messy sheets and the remnants of last night’s activities scattered around the bedroom have something to do with that.

“I’m sorry,” Lena says, only half meaning it. “I’ve been…busy.”

“Doing what?” Jack asks incredulously. “Communing with squirrels? Learning how to fly fish?”

“There’s plenty to do here,” Lena says defensively, annoyingly aware of how much she sounds like Kara. But having her face visible while she says it is a mistake, and she knows it the second Sam’s eyes narrow. Her best friend’s next words fly like an arrow through Lena’s already precarious poker face, and she knows she’s sunk.

“Oh, is there? Like, maybe, the hot mechanic?”

Lena tries to stop the blush. Truly, she does. But the traitorous redness creeps up her neck and onto her face anyways, and Jack and Sam’s eyes widen comically in unison.

“Holy shit!” Jack crows, disappearing briefly off camera as he rocks back, laughing. “Oh, please tell me she’s right, Lena.”

“I –“ Lena sputters, the urge to hang up and salvage what’s left of her dignity getting stronger. “It’s – we just –“

Sam is laughing too, the camera shaking with their combined mirth, and Lena wishes she could disappear through the floor.

“Please don’t tell me it’s another ‘we slept together without sleeping together’ situation,” Sam says, and Jack nods vehemently.

“Not exactly,” Lena edges, and she can practically see Sam’s focus narrow. She has a razor-sharp mind – it’s why she’s so good at her job, after all – and it means that Lena can’t hide anything from her.

“Oh, don’t you dare deprive me of the details, Luthor. We need to know everything,” She says, and Lena sighs.

“It just…sort of…happened.”

“How many times has it happened?” Jack asks pointedly, and Lena rubs at the back of her neck,

“More or less…every day?”

She actually flinches at the volume of the cheer they let out at that admission.

Lena’s getting laid!” Jack yells, ever the gentleman, and Sam gives him a high five.

“Shhh!” Lena hisses, but unable to keep herself from smiling. “You’re in the office I need to return to soon, so I’d appreciate you didn’t yell about my sex life.”

Sam is decent enough to quiet down, although her shit-eating grin doesn’t budge, but Jack seems to have taken ‘stop yelling’ to mean ‘start singing’, parading around Lena’s office.

“See, I knew you could do it. All you had to do was –“

“Lena’s getting la-id, Lena’s getting la-id –“

“Put away that stupid propriety of yours for five seconds, and –“

Lena’s getting la-id –“

“Okay!” Lena finally says, laughing despite herself. “You were right, this was exactly what I needed, and I’ll allow you 15 seconds of proper gloating about it.” She knows they won’t listen to that time limit, but she has to at least try.

“So, when do we get to meet her?” Jack asks when he’s finished with his song, and Lena barks out an incredulous laugh.

“Hopefully never, if you’re going to act like a child.”

“I’m just excited for you!” Jack claims, taking the phone from Sam and leaning overly close to the camera lens. “I’ve been trying to get you to unwind ever since Veronica.”

“I’m actually in a good mood for once, please don’t mention Veronica to me right now,” Lena groans, closing her eyes against the close-up of Jack’s eyebrows. He always did have trouble paying attention to the screen – she can’t even recall how many times she’s had to remind him that he can’t leave the phone pointing up at the ceiling during video conference calls.

“Okay, for real. When can we meet her?” Sam asks, yanking the phone out of Jack’s hands.

“For real? Never.”

Why?” Jack whines, and Sam levels her with an almost-effective set of puppydog eyes.

“Because, this is just a fling,” Lena says, decisive against their onslaught. “She’s not my girlfriend, and she doesn’t need to be subjected to the best friend interrogation.”

“Can we at least get a picture?” Sam angles, and Lena sighs in defeat.

Fine.”

Lena forwards them a photo she took last week at the beach – Kara in her bathing suit, laughing and reclined with her orange-fingered hand in a bag of Cheetos – and after Sam’s phone pings its arrival, there’s a few seconds of silence as they stare at the screen. Finally, Sam looks up at her, complete seriousness in her eyes.

“How much money do I need to pay for you to move back and let me take your place?”

Lena snorts, secretly tallying the amount to be absolutely inconceivable. She came a total of 7 times last night – as if she’d ever give this up.

“In your dreams.”

“You’re damn right, in my dreams!” Sam says, and Jack nods his solemn agreement. “You’re being eaten out by a Cheeto-dusted goddess with the hands of a craftsman, and you haven’t been bragging to us? I thought we were friends?”

“I hate you both,” Lena sighs affectionately, and she resigns herself to spending the rest of the afternoon being mercilessly teased.

“So, does she have a sister?”

Sam is devastated to learn that Alex is more or less spoken for, but she promises Jack that he can take a swing at a throuple with Winn and James if he so chooses.

It’s not like they’ll ever actually visit, anyways.

 


 

“Hey, why have we never gone swimming off your dock?”

Lena frowns, adjusting her sunglasses and slipping a bookmark into the journal she’s reading. Kara has been staying over more and more lately, mostly because Lena is getting more and more reticent to not wake up next to her, and they’re at the tail end of a 3-day stay. Lena should probably stop to think about how comfortable she feels just doing work and reading with Kara in the room, sitting in companionable quiet – it’s something she’s never really had before, except with Sam and Jack – but instead she’s dividing her attention between nuclear physics and Kara’s glowing skin.

Kara is lying in a lounge chair in the sun, her foot sticking out so that she can wedge it under Lena’s back where she sits under the shade of her deck umbrella. It’s sweet, the way Kara always seems to find a way to touch her when they aren’t directly sitting together, even if it’s only with a foot, but she’s probably going to have a hilarious tan line at the end of the day.

“I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it, really.”

“Well, we should,” Kara says decisively. Lena blinks, looking out at the slab of wood that jets into the water. She’s never really been down there – she gets enough sun on the deck, and going out to a rickety wooden structure just to sit in exactly the same way she would up here seems silly.

“Right now?” She asks, and Kara nods, sitting up.

“Sure!” Kara replies. “It’s nice out, and why go all the way to the beach when you’re right on the lake?”

Lena shrugs. “There’s no sand or anything.”

“That’s why we jump off!”

Kara is already standing, heading inside the house, and Lena follows somewhat confusedly.

“You don’t have a bathing suit?” She points out to Kara’s retreating back. Kara ducks into the hallway, her bare feet padding on the hardwood – Lena can see that she does, in fact, have a funny tan line from having one foot in the shade – and disappears.

“Who needs one? You have a private dock! Nobody else lives out here,” Kara says, and Lena pokes her head around the corner to see her rummaging through the closet next to the downstairs bathroom. She emerges with three fluffy red towels, and tosses one over.

“Come on!”

Lena doesn’t have time to so much as change into her own suit before Kara is grabbing her hand and pulling her back onto the deck, heading down the stairs which lead to a dock that Lena has literally never set foot on.

It creaks when Kara waltzes onto it, and Lena is reminded ominously of the rickety treehouse – but it seems to hold, and Kara lays the towels down over the hard wood.

“You’re going to get your clothes we- oh, you’re already stripping.”

Kara’s shirt is in fact on the dock already, and her shorts are following suit. Soon she’s just in her bra and boxers, and rather than jumping into the water like Lena expects her to, she reaches behind her back and starts to fiddle with the clasp.

“Kara!” Lena hisses, picking up the discarded shirt and throwing it at the blonde’s torso, as if that will cover up the sudden nudity. “We’re in public!”

Kara laughs, shrugging off the t-shirt projectile and slipping her bra down her arms. It lands on one of the towels, and Kara is standing on Lena’s dock with the sun warming her bare breasts, and Lena’s train of thought takes steep dive into the lake.

“It’s a private dock, Lena. The only other houses on this side of the lake are either too far away, or they can’t see us from their property.”

Lena, distracted entirely by Kara’s shirtlessness, just nods mutely.

Kara, at Lena’s sudden silence, frowns and grabs at her hands. “You know you can say no, right? I don’t mean to be pushy. I just…get excited about things sometimes.”

“No, it’s okay. I…can’t say I really object to swimming naked with you, I’ll admit.”

Kara’s concern turns into a grin, and she slips out of her boxers. And then she’s naked. On Lena’s dock. In broad daylight. And she looks expectant.

It would be easy, she knows, to call this whole thing off. If she asked, Kara would put her clothes back on, go inside, and take them off again in a more socially acceptable way. But…she’s here to relax, isn’t she? Skinny dipping is normal. One of those normal, exciting teenage experiences she never got, busy as she was with graduating early and starting postsecondary.

Oh, fuck it.

With an air of confidence she doesn’t quite feel she strips too, letting Kara pull her close and press their bodies together. She feels less exposed this way, with Kara covering most of her intimate areas – and, it’s not like she’s going to complain about feeling Kara’s skin against hers. The blonde dips her head, and Lena tips her chin up, expecting a kiss.

“Ready?” Kara asks, her breath warm and sweet on Lena’s lips.

“For what?” Lena whispers, her eyes starting to drift closed.

And that’s when Kara picks Lena up, pivots, and jumps into the water.

The water isn’t quite as shockingly cold as she was afraid it might be – they’re still in the shallows, Kara’s feet clearly almost touching the ground underwater – but it’s still a shock against her hot skin, and she immediately shoves Kara away when they surface.

“You asshole –“ She sputters, wiping the wet hair away from her face. “You could have warned me –“

But Kara is laughing so hard, her head thrown back and her hair drifting around her head like a halo as she floats on her back and cackles to the sky, and Lena can’t stay irritated for long.

It was kind of funny.

It’s just as freeing as Kara said it would be, floating in the cool water with no barriers. No fabric weighing her down, just the current and her skin. Kara stays close by, anchoring her to the earth, and when she eventually abandons the floating for greener pastures – meaning, obviously, climbing Kara like a tree and letting the water lap at both of them as they kiss leisurely – it’s the softest, most unhurried embrace they’ve ever shared.

When Kara’s hands wander over Lena’s hips and to her ass, the intention clear as her hips press closer to bared skin, Lena pulls away to poke her firmly in the chest.

“We’re outside.”

“So?” Kara says, nibbling at Lena’s ear. Lena swallows hard, her nails digging into Kara’s shoulders.

“Skinny dipping is one thing, but –“

“Having sex outside is a rite of passage here,” Kara says, with no trace of exaggeration in her voice. Lena makes a noise somewhere between a laugh and a scoff, pulling back until Kara ceases with her distracting kisses and looks her in the face.

“You’re kidding, right?”

Kara laughs, shaking her head. “We can go inside, if you’d rather. I’m good either way, babe.”

Kara doesn’t seem bothered by the sudden use of a pet name, but it makes Lena’s heart stutter and squeeze in her chest. Kara has never called her babe, never called her anything but ‘Lena’, and something about it softens the anxiety and makes her feel braver. More adventurous.

Finally, with a glance around at the empty woods and quiet lake, Lena does what Kara has been giving her the freedom to do ever since they started up this arrangement – she gives in to desire.

“Not in the water. It’s unsanitary.”

With a shrug, Kara lifts Lena bodily out of the water and onto the dock, pulling herself up after, and Lena tries not to fawn too obviously over the clear easy strength that Kara shows without even thinking.

“Better?” Kara asks, slowly crawling until she’s hovering over Lena’s body. They press together from thigh to chest, Kara nuzzling into her neck and starting to drift hot kisses over the sensitive skin, and Lena is having trouble remembering why this might be a bad idea. She just nods, succumbing to the choice she knows she’ll always make, and Kara takes to her task with the intensity of someone who knows she’s on a time crunch.

Lena’s toes curl into the towels when Kara slips three fingers inside, the scratch of the wood underneath it grounding her when she feels like her body is on fire. The heat of Kara’s skin, the fire in her belly, the sun beating down – it’s all enough to make her lose herself, a blazing supernova just waiting to explode. All other sounds – the wind in the trees, the birds, the gentle lapping of the water against the dock – is blotted out by her own whimpers, by Kara’s heavy breathing and whispered encouragement.

When she gains enough cognisance to raise her thigh and slip her hand into its path, flexing and pressing her fingers between Kara’s legs, it just stokes the flame. Kara groans, bearing down for a moment, before she pulls away and re-focuses on the rhythm of her own hand. It’s as if she can’t allow herself pleasure while she’s focused on Lena, and Lena simply won’t have it.

“Want you to –“ Lena gasps, clutching at Kara’s hips and pulling them down onto her thigh again. She splays her fingers, each of them coated in Kara’s arousal, and presses. “Please –“

Kara nods her assent, and the noise of pure, concentrated desire that she makes as the wet heat of her cunt paints Lena’s skin is almost enough to make her come on the spot. It seems to have a similar effect on Kara, too, Lena is gratified to notice – she’s bearing down with more and more intent, rubbing herself unabashedly, and it makes the hand that’s currently knuckle-deep inside Lena move faster and harder than before.

She can feel the edge, just within her grasp. And Kara is close too, her cries breathy and vulnerable as Lena rubs blindly and keeps her thigh as a hard surface for her to press against, and Lena arches up – she’s so close, so absolutely frantic, and she just needs that little bit more.

It comes with a rustling noise in the woods to their left – the sound of a snapping twig and moving leaves – and, unbidden, a thought enters Lena’s mind like a torpedo.

Someone’s going to see me like this.

She has a brief vision of what this must look like – the two of them naked and tangled together in broad daylight, Lena clinging to Kara like she’s the only anchor in the world and moaning like a pornstar while Kara gets herself off on Lena’s thigh and hand, oblivious to anything around them – and as she imagines some stranger getting a glimpse of their moment, seeing their utter desperation for each other, something inside her releases.

“Fuck –“ She chokes, something telling her that Kara needs to hear more than her usual wordless moans. She can hardly get the words out, her brain ceasing normal functioning as she comes hard on Kara’s hand, but her ineloquence only seems to make it hotter. “God, yes, fuck –“

As she hoped, Kara falls apart. She cries out, clearly overwhelmed, and it makes Lena pulse all the harder when she realizes that she can feel Kara’s clit twitching against her fingers as she comes. She muffles herself in Lena’s shoulder, her fingers finally stilling but staying inside, and they stay like that – tightly intertwined, around and inside each other, dripping water onto the towels – as their bodies cool down in the breeze.

The rustling turns out to be a rabbit, which darts off into the woods after revealing its position, and Lena almost laughs at the accidental symbolism.

“Jesus,” Kara finally murmurs, withdrawing her face from Lena’s neck enough to lay her head on her collarbone instead. She withdraws her fingers too, splaying them still-wet over Lena’s stomach, and she finds herself missing the closeness immediately. “Sometimes I still can’t believe how you make me feel.”

The comment is exclusively sexual – Lena knows this, with certainty – but the way it’s said still makes her stupid heart glow.

“Are you not used to people returning the favour?” She says instead, putting that thought away forever.

“Not really,” Kara says absently, as if that isn’t the saddest statement Lena has ever heard. Instead of elaborating Kara reaches for Lena’s hand and opens it up, spreading her fingers wide. She starts to trace her rough fingers over the creases of Lena’s palm, tracing every line and following them down to her wrist and then her forearm, cataloguing the smattering of moles and freckles like she making a star map.

“What are you doing?” Lena asks quietly, afraid that speaking too loudly will break this strange moment they’ve built.

“Memorizing.”

Lena’s heart misses several steps.

She’s noticed Kara doing this a few times – running gentle hands over her body, slow and methodical, a look of intense focus on her face – but she’d never put much thought into why. Knowing that Kara is memorizing her, logging the details of her body away for the inevitable time after they part, is enough to make her eyes burn a little.

She’s relieved when Kara changes the subject – at least, until she realizes the topic.

“So, tell me about your family.”

A burst of terror seizes Lena’s chest, obliterating the softer feelings from before. It eases quickly, but a little ball of fear remains – her family is not the kind of topic she wants to discuss with sweet, trusting Kara. The fact that she comes from a long line of sociopaths and secretly fears she’ll someday join them is something she’s shared only with Sam, and the last thing she wants to do is let her past infiltrate this happy bubble she’s so carefully constructed, especially when she’s been so successful in hiding her identity in Midvale.

“Is it really the best time right now?” Lena says, with a nervous laugh. Kara just shrugs, smiling like it’s an easy question.

“It’s pillow talk, Lena.”

“I don’t see any pillows here,” She quips, but Kara just looks at her with a look that clearly reads oh come on, and Lena starts to feel her heart beat quicken in a way that definitely doesn’t denote pleasure.

“I –“ Lena starts, shifting uncomfortably and watching Kara’s careless grin turn into a look of concern. “It’s just…it’s not a pleasant subject.” She feels exposed, and not just because she’s naked in broad daylight and probably glowing pale in the sun.

Kara nods softly, ceasing the movement so that she can tangle their fingers together firmly instead. She raises their joint palms to her lips, pressing a kiss to the back of Lena’s hand.

“Would it help if I talked about mine first?”

Lena, happy to take any out she’s given, nods quickly.

“We don’t have to talk at all,” Kara offers, her voice gentling in response to Lena clear skittishness. “We can just lie here together. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

But, despite her initial panic reaction, Lena does want to know more about Kara. Besides their brief not-quite-coffee-date months ago, Kara hasn’t talked much about her past, and she doesn’t want this oppourtunity to crack Kara’s shell to pass her by.

“It’s okay. I want to. Just…you first?”

Kara nods, her thumb rubbing absently over Lena’s.

“Well, you know Alex. She and Eliza are…they’re amazing. They’ve never treated me like I’m not a part of the family.”

Lena nods, the sensation of warm skin on warm skin starting to lull her back into relaxation. “You must love them. I took the Luthor name because I was so young when I was adopted, and it was expected. But you chose to be Kara Danvers.”

“Yeah. Technically I hyphenate, and my legal name is Zorel-Danvers. But I’ve gone by Danvers for a long time.”

Lena nods again, running her fingers through Kara’s wet hair, but she freezes when Kara asks a very logical question. One that shouldn’t bring back the anxiety she was just starting to banish, but definitely does.

“So, what about you?”

Lena swallows, resuming her finger-combing with slightly shakier hands.

“What about me, what?”

“Do you ever think of going back to your birth name?” Kara asks, her eyes drifting closed at Lena’s attention. It’s clear that it’s something she doesn’t consider a big deal – but to Lena, the question has the potential to reveal truths about her childhood that she doesn’t dredge up for just anyone.

“I…don’t remember it,” She says finally, so quietly that it’s almost inaudible, and Kara’s brow furrows. She opens her eyes, peering up at Lena in confusion.

“You don’t remember?” She asks, and Lena nods brusquely.

“I was adopted when I was very young. Lillian changed my birth certificate, and it was made very clear that my previous life was gone forever. It was just…” Lena swallows thickly, suddenly overwhelmed with this realization that she’d never considered before. “It was just drilled out of me, I suppose.”

“Oh,” Kara says softly, putting her warm hand over Lena’s now-still fingers. She braces herself for Kara’s pity - for the horrible, unbearable performative sadness that comes out of almost everyone whenever her dead mother and subsequent lack of memories comes up – but Kara is just quiet, stroking Lena’s hand and laying a gentle kiss on the back of it.

“I’m sorry, Lena.”

It’s said not with pity, but with kindness. With sympathy. With understanding. It brings a kind of relief that Lena has never really felt before, knowing that she won’t be judged – that even though Kara doesn’t have the exact same experience, she can relate.

It unlocks something, the way Kara looks at her with simple, warm compassion. Something that makes her want to talk, even if she has no idea what she would even talk about. Thankfully, Kara saves her from the struggle.

“My parents grew up in this area,” Kara says, gently leading the conversation away from Lena’s vulnerability. “Not here in Midvale, but about 20 minutes away. My cousin grew up there, too, and when they died, he ended up with custody of me.”

The term ended up with is very telling, Lena notes, but she doesn’t want to interrupt Kara’s train of thought to say so.

“But he had a life in the city, and school, and having me there would just be…too complicated. So the Danvers offered to take me in. They knew our parents,” Kara finishes, and Lena gives in to her impulse to kiss the top of her head.

“Does Clark ever visit?” She asks, as Kara sighs happily at the contact.

“Sometimes, at Christmas. Mostly we call, every few weeks. But he and Lois are starting a family soon, so hopefully they’ll come visit more. So I can meet the baby.” Kara sounds so heartbreakingly hopeful at the idea that, for a moment, Lena contemplates how difficult it would be to send someone to Toronto to drag this Clark to Midvale by his ear.

“What were your parents like?” Lena prompts, aware that this moment of openness won’t last forever and wanting to learn as much about Kara as she can. Kara smiles, her gaze distant as she looks out at the treeline on the horizon.

“They were…amazing. My mother had a law practice, and my father was a scientist. Like you.”

Lena blinks, a strange, blooming feeling spreading inside her. Kara sounded so fond when she said it – a scientist, like you.

“Was he? What did he study?” She asks, and she’s a little surprised at the answer.

“Ecology and astrophysics.”

It explains why Kara knew so much about the planets, Lena realizes. Her father studied the same thing Lena did for her third degree, and Kara probably took Astronomy to feel closer to him. It makes her feel strangely protective, and she squeezes Kara’s shoulders just a little bit tighter.

“Sometimes, I worry that I’m forgetting them,” Kara whispers, as if she’s sharing a deep secret. “Like if I don’t keep talking about them, they’ll slip away forever. Like they never existed.”

The fear in Kara’s voice hits Lena like an arrow. She can remember feeling it too, when she was first adopted – but soon enough that instinct was overpowered by pure survival in a house where every facial expression was scrutinized by Lillian Luthor, and the details became blurrier until they disappeared entirely.

“You should keep talking about them,” Lena replies softly. “Keep them alive. I can tell you from experience that it’s…surprisingly easy for things to slip away.”

Kara frowns, sitting up from her spot on Lena’s chest abruptly. “Fuck, Lena, I’m sorry. I didn’t think before I opened my mouth.”

“It’s okay, Kara,” Lena assures her, and she means it. It isn’t Kara’s fault that her childhood was traumatic. But Kara still looks guilty, and Lena sighs.

Looks like sharing is on the agenda, after all.

“The only thing I remember about my mother was that she had dark hair, and she was Irish,” Lena admits, and Kara eases herself back down on an elbow next to her. “Whenever I try to remember more, it’s just…shadows, and moments.”

“Moments like what?” Kara asks, her large hand spreading warm and comforting over Lena’s sternum. The weight of it somehow makes it easier to speak.

“Like…” Lena takes a breath, trying to conjure one of the hazy flashes she can recall. “Like, a stone cottage on the coast. I don’t know where. But I can remember…sitting at a big red table, and my mother making soda bread.”

Kara smiles. “That’s a nice memory.”

“It’d be nicer if I could remember her face,” Lena says, trying to play off her sudden burst of emotion with a self-conscious chuckle. Kara nods solemnly.

“…did the soda bread taste good?”

It takes a moment to process the question. But after a second, Lena laughs, and Kara’s bright smile blasts away the dark tendrils that were starting to curl around her mood.

“Yeah,” She says, the memory of warm bread and marmalade getting sharper, like a camera lens struggling to find focus. A warm hand on her back, and a crackling record player. “Yeah, I think it did.”

Kara nods like that fact is incredibly important to her, and Lena feels like her heart is going to give out with how badly it wants to beat only for her. A hot, prickling sensation starts up behind Lena’s eyes, and she clears her throat and sits up before it can get out of hand.

“We should probably go inside before I get sunburnt in places I’d rather not mention.”

She gets sunburnt anyways, but Kara takes special care to rub aloe on her tender skin every hour in apology.

 


 

Kara seems determined to, by the end of the summer, provide Lena with every experience that Midvale and the surrounding area has to offer.

She takes her bowling with Nia and Winn, wearing silly shoes and playing intentionally badly to make sure Lena doesn’t come dead last on her first time. She takes her fishing, which amounts to Lena sitting in the rickety aluminum boat while Kara catches several fish and puts them back into the water (“I don’t understand what the point is if you’re not going to eat it!” “It’s about being in nature, Lena!” “And sticking a hook through nature’s lip?” “Shhh. Just listen to the birds.”), and she shows her the hilarity of going to Bingo night with the sole intent of watching senior citizens threaten to physically fight each other over a 5x5 piece of cardstock.

If Lena notices that Kara suddenly has more time off work than ever before, she doesn’t say anything. No reason to upset the very enjoyable routine they’ve set, when they only have a little over a month left of it.

And, to top it all off, Kara takes her to the drive-in one town over.

“I genuinely thought that these didn’t exist anymore,” Lena says incredulously, as Kara pays their 8 dollars each and steers her truck towards their screen. “I’ve only ever seen them in movies.”

“They’re still popular out here,” Kara replies, fiddling with the knob on her radio to tune it to the right channel for the movie audio. “People like the nostalgia.”

And it is a deeply nostalgic kind of experience, even for Lena, whose memory of drive-ins amounts to seeing them in a few old films. The two screens each have their own parking lot where people arrange themselves in fairly neat rows, and the gravel is scattered with people in folding lawnchairs, braving the mosquitoes for a better view. Everything seems like a relic that’s been around since the 50’s – the rusty fences between screens, the aging playground equipment, the concrete concession building that smells like 60 years worth of popcorn and spilled soda. It’s all new and yet somehow familiar to Lena, like a strange sense memory derived from movies, and Kara moves through it like she’s been here 100 times.

They arrive long before the movies start, before the sun has gone down, and after she’s found the perfect spot and killed the engine Kara leads her towards the playground with no sign of irony.

“Kara?” Lena asks, as Kara hops the fence that surrounds the park – completely ignoring the gate that sits open nearby – and heads to the swings. “What exactly are we doing?”

“What does it look like?” Kara sits down on one of the rubber seats, her hand still in Lena’s, and moves her legs to get a halfhearted swing.

Lena chuckles, but she doesn’t sit down on the adjacent swing. Something of her mother lingers in her bones, tells her that this is inappropriate, that she can’t be seen here. It’s what she’s been told since she was 6 years old – Luthors don’t play, Lena. Do something productive.

“This place is for kids,” Lena finally says, tugging on Kara’s hand in a vague attempt to get her to stand up. But Kara holds firm, digging her heels in.

“There’s nobody here, Lena.”

And, in all fairness, Kara is right. The playground is mostly empty, save for a small family making sandcastles on the other side of the playground – and they, of course, seem to know Kara. They wave, and Kara takes her hat off and waves it back jovially.

There’s nobody here to judge her. Nobody but Kara.

Setting her cap back on her head, Kara makes another more serious attempt at swinging, moving Lena’s arm along with it. “Come on, Lena. Get silly with me.”

For another moment, Lena hesitates. But Kara is so open and hopeful, her expression full of more straightforward affection than Lena has ever experienced in her life. The image of Lillian’s disapproval wavers, and then evaporates entirely, obliterated by Kara’s smile.

When she gingerly sits on the swing next to the blonde, it feels like Kara’s shout of victory echoes across the entire drive-in.

The swings, as it turns out, are just as fun as her childhood self thought they would be as she watched her peers play through the library window. Her stomach swoops on every arc, Kara encouraging her to go higher and higher until she feels a moment of genuine weightlessness at the height of each swing. Her hair whips around her face and then blows back, and when she sees Kara beside her syncing up their rhythm she lets out a loud, carefree laugh.

It feels like she’s flying.

“Jump, Lena!”

Lena snaps out of her reverie, her head turning towards Kara. Her hat has blown off, her ponytail flying, and she looks completely, 100% serious.

What?” Lena calls back, but Kara just says it again.

“Let go at the top of your jump!”

“That sounds like a bad idea,” Lena calls back, but it’s too late. Kara has already reared back for a hard swing, and when she reaches the apex of her forward momentum, she lets go of the chains and flies into the air. For a moment, she soars, her arms spread and her hair flying – but soon enough her legs start to windmill, and she hits the sand with a whumph.

For a second, Lena’s heart stops. But Kara is up again almost immediately, her hands thrown in the air as she lets out a whoop.

“Come on! I’ll catch you!” She calls, getting bigger and then smaller again as Lena swings, still clinging to the chains.

“That seems like an even worse idea!”

But Kara’s arms stay open, expectant, and in the split second between downswing and upswing Lena makes the decision.

In the split second between release and landing, she regrets it immediately.

It does feel freeing, at first. She’s in the air, weightless, and for a few moments all she feels is pure exhilaration. But once gravity starts to do its work and she’s pulled back towards the earth, hurtling towards Kara, the exhilaration is tinged with worry.

Shit –“ She grunts, as the impact takes them both down and Kara, for all her strength, crumples like a pop can. They both hit the ground in a shower of sand, and Lena rolls off of Kara as soon as she’s able – but when she looks over, just like the night they danced by the lake and fell to the grass, Kara is laughing.

“I was right,” Lena grumbles, struggling to her feet and dusting the sand off of her legs. “This was a terrible idea.”

“But you had fun.”

Lena can’t deny the point, and Kara is insufferably smug for the rest of the night.

Kara leads her around to the rest of the playground equipment – a seesaw that Lena outright refuses to get on, a tetherball stand, a tire swing – and while Kara is attempting to make her way across the monkeybars, her legs curled up underneath her so as not to touch the ground, Lena climbs up the stairs to the top of the steel slide beside her.

It seems like the most harmless of all the equipment, really. The one the requires the least skill, but might make Kara smile. So Lena plants herself down at the top, her hips almost not fitting the narrow width, and pushes herself down the chute.

She should have remembered that she’s wearing shorts.

In her defense, she doesn’t even remember when she started wearing shorts regularly. She hasn’t worn them since grade school P.E. class, it feels like – but here she is, in denim shorts, making a huge mistake.

Before she can get more than a few inches, the skin of her exposed thighs catches on the searing hot metal. The friction makes a horrible screech, and Lena yells, catching herself before she slides any further and rolling off the chute onto the sand.

“Jesus Christ!”

Kara is at her side in an instant, looking sympathetic but unable to keep the laugh out of her voice as Lena sits on the ground, nursing the sore skin of her thighs.

“Are you okay?” Kara asks, and Lena smacks her arm with the hand that isn’t checking for skin damage.

No!” She whines, and Kara’s smile is so, so warm looking down at her. “Why the hell didn’t you warn me that would happen?”

Kara throws her hands up helplessly, shrugging. “I figured you’d know! It’s a metal slide, Lena, they’ve always been the devil!”

Lena sighs, determining that while she hasn’t actually injured herself, she’s going to be sore for a few minutes at least.

“I didn’t exactly get to spend time at places like this when I was a child,” She mumbles, standing up with Kara’s help and starting on the seemingly impossible task of ridding her shorts of sand.

“You mean…playgrounds?” Kara asks, helping to brush sand off of Lena’s butt in a way that isn’t entirely helpful. Her hands trace down to the skin that Lena just dragged over hot coals, and it’s entirely distracting. “What did you do instead?”

Lena swallows, shrugging as Kara’s hands trace gentle over the red skin. “I did extra tutoring. Built basic robots. Played chess.” She’d spent most of her childhood years indoors, watching other kids her age have fun while she lived in the shadow of Lex and Lillian, and after a while it had just seemed normal. But here, with Kara, she starts to realize exactly what she missed.

“That sounds really lonely,” Kara says, pulling Lena towards her and resting her chin on a shoulder. She nuzzles gently into Lena’s neck, and despite the sadness of the subject matter, Lena can’t deny the happiness it brings.

“I had my brother,” Lena says, a lump forming in her throat.

Kara seems to sense the downturn of her mood, because she leaves her place in Lena’s neck and instead grabs her hand, leading her over to a contraption she’s never seen before. It looks like a round platform bisected with two long bars, meeting in the middle like a cross. Kara motions for her to stand on it, and then takes a firm grasp of one of the bars.

“You should probably sit down.”

“Why?” Lena asks, but Kara just grins, and starts to push. After a few moments of resistance the whole platform starts spinning like a top, faster and faster as Kara runs alongside, pushing with all her might. Lena clutches at the railing and takes Kara’s advice, anchoring herself near the middle of the cross-section, and once it’s going sufficiently fast Kara jumps on, clutching the bar with white knuckles as she pulls herself up to sit near Lena.

“I’m getting dizzy!” Lena yells - the world is rushing by in a blur, and the only solid thing in in her entire field of vision is Kara.

“That’s the point!” Kara yells back, joy in every inch of her face, and Lena blinks. Having something the point of which is to get dizzy seems like an exercise in futility, but she can’t deny the adrenaline that courses through her as they zoom in a circle.

When they stumble off the roundabout together, dizzy and giggling, it feels like she’s found a part of herself that she locked up 20 years ago. Some kind of childlike happiness, pulled out of her by Kara stumbling over her own feet and cackling on the grass.

Her happiness feels a lot less childlike when dusk falls, and she and Kara are making out in the truck halfway through the newest superhero movie.

If she were more cognisant of anything beyond Kara’s mouth and hands, she’s probably be a little embarrassed at how obvious they’re being – the windows are definitely fogged, and the truck rocks a little every time Kara shifts her weight to press into Lena’s hips. But right now, with her leg hooked around Kara’s body and warm lips making their way down her neck towards her heaving chest, she honestly couldn’t give a shit. Even if her upper back is pressed into the door and Kara’s legs are crumpled awkwardly against the opposite side, even if Kara occasionally loses her traction on the seat and slips forward to bump their faces together, Lena doesn’t care. She just wants.

But Kara doesn’t continue down the way Lena craves – she doesn’t bury her face in Lena’s chest like she’s so fond of doing, doesn’t move her shirt and bra aside and apply her mouth like she usually would. She teases, laying gentle kisses and nips over the tops of her breasts and trailing her hot breath over sensitive skin. Lena arches up, trying to encourage her to get to the point already, but Kara just continues her pace.

“Please –“ She finally groans, fisting a hand in Kara’s hair, recently loosened from its ponytail. “Don’t tease me, Kara.”

“You don’t have sex at the drive-in, Lena,” Kara murmurs, her hipbone pressing in just right and making Lena twitch and whimper.

“Then why the fuck did you –“ Lena starts, indignant, but Kara drops a bomb before her indignation can gather any steam.

“Making yourself wait until you can park somewhere secluded is the best part.”

Lena shuts up after that.

At least, she keeps talking to a minimum. She still fills the cab with a symphony of moans, drowning out the movie audio every time Kara moves, and Kara keeps up her slow, worshipful, maddening pace. Her hands slip under Lena’s shirt to smooth over long-overheated skin, her kisses deep and hot and deliberate.

And they keep kissing, just kissing, until Lena is mad with it. Kara keeps grinding gently into her clit, and Lena knows it’s on purpose, and she’s starting to feel like she’s coming out of her skin.

“If you keep doing that, I’m going to come,” She manages to gasp raggedly, when Kara yet again slips under her bra to tweak her nipples with too-gentle fingers and grinds her hipbone forward. But rather than let up, Kara just grins in a way that makes Lena’s entire body melt.

“Not yet.”

She’s pretty sure that Kara is edging her.  

That realization, and the steady way that Kara builds her up and then backs off, makes the whole thing simultaneously better and so, so much worse. The wait until the end of the movie is excruciating, and by the time Kara is pulling out onto the road to drive them to a clearing she seems to know about, Lena is about ready to take care of the problem herself on the spot, distracted driving be damned. But soon enough Kara eases the truck onto a dirt path just off the roadside, stopping when a metal barrier with a sign reading NO TRESPASSING appears in the headlights.

“I thought you said you’d been here before?” Lena says, frowning, but Kara just opens the door and jumps out of the cab. Lena watches as she makes her way around to the barrier, fiddling with the chain that keeps it closed and then swinging it open, flagrantly disregarding the warning sign.

When Kara jumps back in, shifting the truck back into gear, Lena stares at her for a few seconds.

“What?” Kara asks, and Lena shakes her head.

“Do you always ignore trespassing signage, or just when you’re trying to get laid?”

Kara snorts, leaning forward to contain her laugh as the truck navigates over the short, bumpy trail. “I only ignore it when it’s stupid. The land belongs to some big city contractor who wanted to build a hotel up here, but it’s been stalled for 4 years now.”

“So instead you bring your conquests here?” Lena says, an eyebrow raising as they roll to a stop in a clearing. Kara grins, throwing her a wink that shouldn’t make her knees weak, but Lena has learned to accept how attracted she is to even the goofiest parts of Kara’s personality.

“Are you complaining?”

Lena is emphatically not complaining, and when they finally get parked and Kara turns the headlights off, it’s about 2.5 seconds before Lena is in her lap.

“Eager, huh?” Kara whispers against her lips, her hands going straight to Lena’s thighs and pulling her close, and Lena is starkly reminded of their very first kiss. Of climbing into Kara’s lap in a sunny field, and the overwhelming hunger that hasn’t died down even a little – in fact, if anything, it’s gotten bigger. Big enough that she doesn’t care about the steering wheel that’s digging into her back, and when Kara finally shifts them both to press Lena into the worn leather seats, her right hand is fumbling with the button of the blonde’s jeans before her head has hit the cushion.

Even after all these weeks, Kara still looks surprised when Lena’s hand slips past her waistband.

“You don’t have to –“ She starts, as always, but as soon as Lena’s fingers make firm contact with the root of her clit she cuts herself off with a long, drawn-out groan.

“Are you sure about that?” Lena murmurs, nipping at Kara’s lip, and Kara’s breath gets noticeably ragged.

“…don’t stop.”

Lena doesn’t. She keeps her fingers moving, firm and fast, and when Kara comes with a loud cry, she looks almost hilariously surprised about it. It still rattles Lena how easily Kara will ignore her own needs, and she’s determined to break her of the habit before –

Before she can derail the very fun time she’s having with sad thoughts, she pulls herself back to the moment.

“Eager, huh?” Lena echoes smugly as Kara catches her breath, and her laugh gets swallowed by another kiss.

Luckily for her sanity, Kara wastes no time in returning the favour. She’s two fingers deep as soon as she manages to get the shorts halfway down her legs, and Lena’s foot lands firmly on the horn as Kara curls her fingers. It blares into the night, alerting anyone in the vicinity to their activities, and Lena doesn’t care.

What she does care about, though, is that once Kara is inside her, she seems determined to take her time. It’s like a tortuous extension of the drive-in teasing – Kara keeps it at two fingers, moving them slow and deliberate, and finally she has to take matters into her own hands. She’s been worked up for hours now, made to wait through an entire movie and a half, and now she’s getting half the attention she needs – if Kara is going to take this slow, Lena needs to kick her into higher gear.

When Kara’s thumb makes another lazy circle around her clit, she huffs impatiently, and snaps her thighs shut around the offending hand.

“Kara, so help me god, if you don’t cowboy up and give me more than two fingers –“ She starts, and Kara makes an indignant noise, her face popping up and out of the vicinity of Lena’s collarbone.

“Cowboy up?!” She says, disbelief in every syllable, but Lena just shrugs, intimately aware of Kara’s digits still inside her.

“What? I know you can do more.”

“I’m doing plenty!” Kara protests, and Lena snorts, clenching pointedly around Kara’s two insufficient fingers. Kara opens and closes her mouth indignantly.

“I was working you up!” She sputters, and Lena raises an amused brow.

“Since when have I ever needed less than three, cowboy?”

“My cowboy level is fine!” Kara says, and the cuteness of her flustered demeanour is almost worth the three hours of edging she just put Lena through. “I am perfectly cowboyed! You – you know what, I asked you out!”

“You really didn’t, actually,” Lena points out. “You chickened out, remember?”

“Well, I meant to –“ Kara amends. Lena laughs, poking at Kara’s shoulder.

“I kissed you first!”

“Wha – only after I told you to!” Kara counters, and in the heat of the one-up session, Lena blurts out the first thing that comes to her mind.

“I popped my own tire just to see you!”

There’s a silence, then. Kara blinks down at her, her fingers still firmly buried, and with dawning horror Lena realizes exactly what she just admitted to.

“…what?” Kara says, dissolving into loud, delighted laughter, and Lena grabs the top of her head and shoves her down, blushing.

“Okay, you know what, shut up and eat me out.”

The rest of the night is much more successful.

It seems that, no matter where they are – a bed, a dock, an uncomfortable truck cab – Kara manages to give her the best sex of her life, hands down. Kara seems to want her always, everywhere, and Lena sees no reason to contain her own desire when they’ve agreed on such a no-strings arrangement – she’s leaving at the end of the summer, as much as she wants to ignore it, and she has nothing to be ashamed of.

So when Kara pulls her into the shop one day after lunch, dipping her into a kiss that can in no way be construed as chaste, Lena doesn’t even consider resisting public sex anymore.

“I thought you were just giving it a quick oil change?” Lena pants, bracing her palms against the hood of her Porsche as Kara presses hard into her back, rucking her dress up her thighs.

The shop is empty, everyone else having left the building to get lunch at Lucy’s, and Lena knows they only have about 15 minutes until they’re walked in on. Thankfully, though, Kara seems to know it too – her freshly-washed hands are already up Lena’s skirt, slipping past her underwear and finding her clit with laser precision. Lena’s arms almost buckle, but she manages to hold herself up, albeit barely.

“I’ve wanted to pin you to the hood of this car ever since you first drove it in here,” Kara replies as Lena’s hips buck, pushing gently on Lena’s back until she’s slightly bent over the car, bracing on her elbows instead of on her shaking arms. “Seize the day, right?”

“That’s always been my motto,” Lena agrees distractedly, as if she’s ever thought of that phrase as anything but cheesy and trite before this exact moment. But Kara grins, slipping her fingers inside, and Lena forgets about mottos entirely.

Kara is confident here in the shop in a way that Lena hasn’t quite seen before. She’s always been self-assured in bed, maneuvering Lena around and maintaining consent in a way that lets Lena know she’s very experienced, but here, she seems to be in two elements at once. And it shows. She uses three fingers without even asking, keeping a broad, steady palm in the centre of Lena’s back, and for the first time since they started sleeping togetherKara actually chases her own orgasm without prompting. When Lena props her leg up on the hood, desperate for Kara to have easier access, the blonde presses herself into Lena’s ass and, consciously or no, she groans at the pressure.

Yes,” Lena hisses, arching back in an attempt to encourage Kara to keep going. “Yes, god, make yourself come with me.”

Kara’s responding noise is strangled and surprised, but she responds to Lena’s movement by pressing her harder into the hood, and her hips don’t stop. She keeps grinding, fucking Lena and herself at once, and Lena finds herself trying to stave off her own orgasm to wait for Kara. She wants to reach that edge at the same time, to fall over it together, and despite the overwhelming time crunch – everyone could come back from lunch at literally any minute – she holds off.

And Kara, ever considerate, notices immediately.

“I can feel how close you are,” She pants, her thrusts getting more erratic. “How tight you are. Don’t hold back.”

Lena whines, her forehead resting on her forearm, and reaches her free hand back to grab at Kara’s hip. Her mind is in 100 places at once, but she manages to choke out what she wants, however inelegantly.

“You, too.”

As if she’s been waiting for permission, all it takes is a few more jerky movements before they’re both coming, Kara first and Lena following the moment she hears that familiar cry. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of how Kara makes her feel - like every orgasm completely reboots her system, head to toe. Like pleasure is radiating from every inch of her, and all her body says is more.

Kara slumps forwards, breathing heavy into Lena’s hair, and Lena chuckles breathlessly.

“One of these days, we’re going to get caught.”

Kara laughs, but Lena’s prediction very nearly becomes true when the outside door to the office bangs open and Alex’s voice rings down the hallway to their right.

“James, if you don’t hurry up, I’m eating your fries –“

Shit!” Lena hisses, and she pushes herself (and Kara along with her) off the hood of the Porsche. It’s a frantic few seconds of movement – Lena pulls her dress back down and tries to do something about her messy hair, and Kara wipes her wet hand off on her shop pants – but before she’s entirely decent Alex has already entered the garage with a mouthful of pilfered fries.

“Hey, Kara, we got you a burger, but James has it so I can’t guarantee it’s still intact – oh.” Alex pulls up short when she notices Lena, still finger-combing her hair. “Hey, Lena. I didn’t know you were…here…”

Alex trails off worryingly as her eyes move over the scene – from Kara, not quite able to hide her smugness, to Lena’s nervous smoothing of her skirt, to what Lena now realizes is a perfectly body-shaped impression on the slightly dusty hood of the Porsche. There are even two handprints, almost comical in their clarity, exactly where Lena hung on for dear life mere moments ago.

“Oh, my god,” Alex says, and Kara puts her hands up in surrender.

“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but this is kind of new and we haven’t really told anyone –“

“Oh my god,” Alex says louder, setting the paper bag full of food down on a table and then looking at her hands as if they might have sex-cooties on them. “Oh my god, Kara in the shop? Really?”

Kara’s air of apology evaporates in the wake of a sudden sense of righteous sisterly suffering.

“Hey! You and I both know you owe me after I walked in on you and Maggie here after prom –“

Alex throws her hands up, clearly not angry, but obviously exasperated.

“God, Kara, do you always have to bring that up –“

“It was scarring!” Kara insists, looking to Lena for backup. But Lena just puts her hands up, shrugging and backing up.

“I plead the fifth.”

James strolls in, seemingly unaware of the hilarious standoff between the two Danvers, and he stops dead when he sees their matching frowns.

“Everything okay?” He asks, and Alex points accusingly at Kara.

“Tell Kara she’s no longer allowed to defile our shop with sex!”

James raises an eyebrow, taking a bite out of what is clearly Kara’s burger. He chews thoughtfully, and his mouth is still full when he finally answers.

“Does that mean I can’t bring Winn here for quickies anymore?”

Alex’s frustrated yell can probably be heard from space, but the group laughter that follows assures Lena that she’ll get over it eventually.

And, that’s how the entire population of Midvale finds out.

After that, things feel a little easier. They were never hiding, per se, but there was always a furtive energy to their relationship, so once it becomes public it feels like they have sex – if possible – even more than before. They explore each other on a pile of blankets in the bed of Kara’s truck, and in every room of Lena’s house; they tear into each other on Kara’s kitchen counter and in the bathrooms at the Livewire and in the loft of Brainy’s barn, coming out sneezing and stuffy but giggling together. It’s carefree and joyous, and it feels like this is what Lena has been looking for her whole life.

And, it becomes more and more clear the more times they come together that, while Kara seems to take absolute joy and pride in fucking Lena until she’s almost comatose, she has trouble articulating exactly what she needs.

“Kara, can I ask you something?” Lena finally asks, a few days after the shop incident. Kara nods, taking a bite of her sandwich and waving to Kelly, who walks past their picnic bench on the way to her office.

“So, I’ve noticed you don’t like penetration very much,” Lena says evenly, and Kara promptly chokes on her food.

“Jesus, Lena,” She rasps, taking a few gulps of water to clear her throat. A fiery blush is working its way up her neck, and she glances around as if she’s afraid Alex is around a corner somewhere. “Way to come out of nowhere!”

Lena shrugs, taking a much more controlled sip of her iced coffee. “Open, frank conversations about sex are necessary in adult relationships.”

“I just didn’t expect you to do it here,” Kara clarifies, and Lena has to give her that. A bench in the middle of town on a Wednesday afternoon is probably not the best place to have this conversation, but here they are. Lena wants – no, needs – to make sure that Kara’s desires are being met to the same level that her own are.

“If you’re uncomfortable, you don’t have to answer,” Lena clarifies quickly, putting a comforting hand on Kara’s arm. “I just said it the moment it came into my head. We can just talk about it later.”

But Kara shakes her head, seeming less unbalanced than she did when Lena first spoke up.

“No, it’s okay. You just surprised me. You do that a lot.”

Lena smiles, and Kara takes a deep breath before continuing.

“To answer your question…it just doesn’t do much for me. It doesn’t feel bad, but it doesn’t get me there, you know?” Kara shrugs, fiddling with the crusts of her sandwich. “I just…work different.”

Lena nods, her suspicions confirmed. “I gathered. But rubbing feels good for you? Hard pressure on your clit?”

Kara blushes a little, but she nods.

“I’ve always just waited until after, and then…did it myself, you know?” She admits, the blush now tinging the tips of her ears. “Easier than explaining exactly what I want. But the way we do it is…really good. I promise.”

Lena nods, the wheels in her head already turning. “I’m glad you let me find a way for you to feel good, too.”

“You make me feel amazing,” Kara says, and Lena believes her. In comparison to Kara’s past partners, who by Lena’s estimation either got upset that their efforts didn’t work or ignored Kara’s needs completely, any attention would seem fantastic.

But I can do better.

Later that night, after Kara is passed out in Lena’s bed and gently snoring, Lena deep-dives into research on various masturbatory aids – and, after about two hours of careful consideration, she places an order.

 

Chapter Text

The first full weekend of August comes far too fast, with something that Kara calls a corn roast. The name is fairly self-explanatory – people come over, corn is roasted and presumably eaten – but what she didn’t expect is the scale of the endeavour. Half the town seems to flock to Kara’s huge backyard, setting up lawnchairs and hauling in picnic tables borrowed from the park, and no less than 3 barbecues are fired up on the porch – one for meat, one for veggie options, and one entirely dedicated to corn on the cob.

It’s like Canada Day all over again, except this time it’s Kara’s home that’s open to the entire municipality.

“Don’t you worry about people breaking your things?” Lena says, as yet another person heads inside to use the bathroom.

“Why would I?”

“Because there’s over 200 people here?”

Kara laughs, flipping a row of burgers and putting the barbecue lid down again. “If they haven’t broken anything for the last 8 years, I doubt they will now.”

“You do this every year?”

“It’s the August long weekend, Lena!” Kara says, as if that explains all.

If she’s being honest, stat holidays have never been a part of Lena’s life before this summer. She acknowledged them only as days when the rest of her employees wouldn’t be at work, but they didn’t stop her from coming in, and most major holidays were spent eating dinner at her desk.

“What is this holiday even for?” Lena asks, and Kara shrugs happily.

“No idea!”

Despite it being an apparently baseless holiday, everyone seems determined to have a good time. The drinking and food continues throughout the day, and when Alex hands her a plate with a burger and an un-shucked ear of corn on it, Lena blanches.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” She asks, knowing she sounds like a whiny tourist but genuinely confused as to how she’s expected to eat the charred, furry vegetable.

“Are you kidding?” Alex asks, laughing, but Kara elbows her way past her sister to perch on Lena’s picnic table. Her seat dislodges Nia’s drink, but the younger woman’s noise of disapproval is ignored.

“I’ll show you,” Kara says eagerly, picking up the still-steaming piece of corn and pulling the husk back with her bare fingers. “You just pull this off, see? And the corn underneath is cooked.”

“How do you do that without…I don’t know, gloves or something?” Lena asks, looking down at her own hands. Kara shrugs, finishing with her peeling and putting the corn down.

“I’ve handled hotter things.”

She says it with a wink, and despite the cheesiness of the joke, Lena flushes all over at the memories of exactly that.

“Anyways, enough corny jokes,” Kara continues, grinning like a moron as she holds up the ear of corn, and Lena rolls her eyes so hard she’s surprised that they don’t leave her head entirely.

“Oh my god, give me that –“

She swats at Kara after grabbing her food back, and Kara seems to accept it, falling off the table and laughing all the way at her own terrible joke.

As soon as dusk falls, Alex sets up a huge bonfire, and the parts seems to shift into a lower gear. There’s s’mores and roasting hot dogs, and Lena curls happily into Kara’s side as she plays country songs on her guitar.

Like everything else she does, Kara’s fingers are deft on the strings, and her voice is soft and sweet. Lena can feel the vibration of it against her skin as she rests her head on Kara’s shoulder, and along with the beer she’s had and crackle of the fire it’s almost enough to lull her into a very pleasant doze.

It fits the subdued, happy mood of the evening perfectly until halfway through a crooning rendition of John Denver, when Winn and Lucy get into a competition over who can sing along the loudest. It ends in incoherent shouting, and Winn fishes a piece of ice from a cooler and hurls it across the bonfire, intending on hitting Lucy - but instead, it flies in a graceful arc before landing, impossibly, directly down Lucy’s shirt.

There’s a moment of silence, where everyone around the fire seems to slowly understand what just happened, until finally Lucy throws her arms dramatically into the air.

“GOAL!” She yells, and everyone else erupts into cheers and laughter as Winn takes an exaggerated bow.

The party ticks back up, then, more drinks being consumed as a karaoke machine is dragged out from Kara’s living room, and in the growing chaos Kara grabs her hand and tugs it gently, tipping her head in the direction of the woods at the edge of the property.

With a smile, Lena nods, and they slip away from the hubbub of the fire and into the night.

“Things were starting to get a little loud again,” Kara says, once the heat of the bonfire and the noise of the partiers gets less pronounced. Lena’s face feels suddenly cold with the loss of the flames, and she sidles closer to Kara, squeezing her hand tighter as they walk.

“No kidding. Thanks for getting me away.”

“Well, since most of the reason I did it was so that we could find a spot in the woods to make out, it wasn’t exactly selfless,” Kara admits, grinning, and Lena reacts to the suggestion the way she always does.

She grabs Kara’s hand, and pulls her towards the treeline at top speed.

They navigate through the dark foliage for a few steps, and the moment that the glow of the fire is obscured, Lena pulls Kara close and leans back against the first sturdy tree she finds.

“I believe you mentioned making out,” She says against Kara’s lips, and with a low chuckle, Kara follows through on her promise. Lena’s back is digging into tree bark before she can say ‘well?’, and for a few wonderful moments, she gets exactly what she wants – hot, deep kisses, Kara’s hands on her hips, and blessed quiet.

Those wonderful moments are broken abruptly when Kara stiffens, pulling away to lift her head and look around the suspiciously.

“Did you hear that?”

Lena hears nothing besides the roar of her own blood pumping in time with her clit, which begs for attention that Kara is pointedly not giving it.

“I don’t hear anything,” She says, tugging at the back of Kara’s neck. “It doesn’t matter, Kara, just kiss me –“

But Kara resists, still looking around them even as Lena determinedly kisses her neck and jaw.

“Lena, just listen –“

With a frustrated huff, Lena does. She quiets herself momentarily, and to her dismay, she does definitely hear something that isn’t the sound of crickets or the party in the distance. It sounds, actually, remarkably similar to what she and Kara were just doing - like the rustling of clothing, and breathy sighs. After a few moments of listening, a quiet, broken moan punctuates it, followed by a hushed voice.

“Shh, someone could hear...”

“Everyone’s at the party, Alex,” Comes another voice, louder but clearly distracted. “Nobody’s listening –“

“Oh my god!” Kara says loudly, stepping away from Lena. But she doesn’t sound alarmed, or horrified, like Alex was when she caught them at the shop – she sounds delighted.

Alex, on the other hand, does not.

Fuck!” She can hear the older Danvers muttering, and the frantic rustle of clothes being done up. “Shit, Kara, what are you doing here –“

“The same thing you are!” Kara says, still loud as anything and now making her way towards the source of the voices. “God, I knew it, I knew you were lying when you said you stayed at Lucy’s house the other night –“

The second voice laughs, clearly much calmer about the whole situation than Alex is. “That’s what you told her?”

“I panicked!” Alex hisses, and now Lena can actually see the two figures Kara is striding towards – Alex is finishing with the buttons on her shirt and next to her, leaning against a tree and clothed but pleasantly ruffled, is Kelly.

“You know, we were having a perfectly nice time before you crashed our party,” Kelly says, her kind smile offsetting the sarcasm in her voice. Kara laughs, crossing her arms and looking pointedly at her sister.

“We were trying to have a party of our own! These are my woods too, you know. When were you planning on telling me you were finally seeing each other?”

Alex, who seems to be doing everything she can to hide behind Kelly, sighs and leans her forehead onto the woman’s shoulder. “I was going to tell you, I swear, I just…”

“Chickened out?” Lena supplies unhelpfully from behind Kara, and Alex lifts her head to glare at her through the darkness.

“We were trying to keep it low-key,” Kelly answers, and Alex nods gratefully. “Just for a while. You know what this town is like with gossip.”

Kara acknowledges the point. “That’s fair. I just – I’m so happy for you guys, that’s all! I’ve been telling Alex to ask you out for ages.”

Alex groans, hiding her face again, and Kelly laughs gently as she tries to comfort her, stroking her hair.

“You know, I actually made the first move, in the end.”

Alex’s anguish and Kara’s laughter ring through the trees, and in the end, nobody gets a forest makeout session.

Thankfully, Kara’s bedroom is one area of the house that’s closed to the public.

For all its entertainment, the long weekend party only seems to serve to remind Lena how little time she has left in Midvale. The blasting heat of late July is starting to cool off, the nights getting the barest touch of crispness, and the closer the calendar inches to the day she’d decided she was leaving – August 28th, giving herself a few days to settle in the city again before she goes back to work – the more she’s loathe to be apart from Kara for more than a few hours.

And, with every couple in Midvale apparently pairing off all of a sudden, it’s disturbingly easy to lean into the fantasy of a world where she and Kara are a real couple. Where double dates with Alex and Kelly are a regular occurrence, and being Kara’s constant game-night partner and consistently kicking Winn and James’ asses at is a reality that sticks beyond the confines of the summer.

Even Brainy and Nia, after a summer (and god only knows how long before that) of dancing around each other, seem to be making smaller circles than ever before. They seem to be together more often than not, and Lena even spies Nia giving him a clandestine kiss on the cheek as he says goodbye to her at the door of her shop. She disappears into the store immediately, blushing furiously, and Brainy stands in the doorway for a few long moments, putting a hand to his cheek as if the situation has never occurred to him before.

But it’s progress, and strangely enough, Lena finds herself the unwitting harbinger of even more development only a few days later.

It’s not often that she finds herself having an evening without Kara, but in this case she actually has two – Kara and her family are busy with a Jewish holiday, and as much as she misses her, she can survive some time alone.

She can.

So when she drives past Brainy’s farm and sees him in the paddock with a horse, running it in circles, the fact that she pulls in to say hello has nothing to do with loneliness. Nothing whatsoever.

“Lena!” Brainy waves, slowing the horse down to a walk as she gets out of the car. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Can I not just stop by and say hello to my favourite ranch proprietor?” Lena says, leaning against the wooden fence enclosing the paddock as Brainy pats the sweaty horse on the neck.

Brainy’s resulting expression is almost bordering on sassy, and Lena chuckles, crossing her arms.

“Alright. Maybe I needed some company.”

“I can provide that.”

She follows him into the barn, feeling less at ease now with several horses in their stalls on each side. One of them stomps its foot heavily, and it takes everything she has not to jump.

She took equestrian lessons as a child, sure, because Lillian insisted that it was necessary, but she wasn’t good at it – she never felt at ease when her life was in the hands of a beast she couldn’t control. After 3 months of lessons she fell off, spraining her wrist, and Lillian fired her coach and put her in ballet instead.

She failed at that, too, and soon after that her failure as a female Luthor – proficient in all things – was so cemented in Lillian’s eyes that she could convince her father to let her go to robotics tutoring with Lex instead.

So, she stays away from the horses. Brainy, though, seems as at ease as she’s ever seen him. The stiffness he sometimes takes on in social situations is gone as he rubs down the horse he was just running, and Lena feels like for the first time, she’s getting an inkling of who he really is.

“Can I ask you something, Brainy?” She says, looking around at the tidy barn and clearly happy horses.

“You may.”

Lena chooses her next words carefully. She has an idea of the answer, but her curiosity is getting the better of her, and the last thing she wants is to accidentally insult him like she did Kara.

“You’re one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met,” She says, genuinely. “And, trust me, I’ve worked with some of the greatest minds on the planet. Why are you running a horse ranch?”

Brainy smiles, pausing in his task to address Lena directly. He doesn’t look upset, thankfully – only thoughtful.

“I find them…soothing,” He says finally, finishing with his brushing and leading the horse into an empty stall. “They are more intelligent than people think. And…more emotional. They can connect. They help me understand my own, when it all just seems like senseless noise.”

Lena appraises the beast as it snuffles its way to a salt lick in the corner, twitching its tail. “Do they really have emotions?”

“Yes,” Brainy says, stroking the mane of the nearest chestnut horse that sticks its head out of the stall. “See, this is Dox. She’s the gentlest of all of them, the easiest to work with children. A well of calm. When I am angry, she reminds me to be kind, to myself and others.”

The horse in question tosses its head gently, letting out a soft whinny as Brainy strokes her nose. And, as little as she knows about horses, Lena has to admit that Dox is a soothing presence. She moves closer, and at Brainy’s indication, she reaches out a hand and strokes its soft nose.

The horse stays calm, snorting gently, and Lena thinks that maybe, horses aren’t so bad when Lillian Luthor isn’t watching your form like a hawk.

“And, Querl here,” Brainy continues, moving over to a white speckled horse in an adjacent stall. “He’s headstrong, and feisty. He was difficult to train, but once he accepted me, he was unwaveringly loyal.”

True to form, the speckled horse eyes Lena warily even as Brainy pats its neck.

She decides not to pet this one.

“They do seem smarter than I gave them credit for,” Lena admits, and Brainy nods.

“Indeed. Would you like to ride one?”

As much as Brainy has been shifting her perspective on horses, the idea of actually climbing onto one is still as terrifying as it was when she was 10, and she shakes her head rapidly before he’s even finished the question.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” She says firmly, and Brainy nods, thankfully seeming to understand.

“Perhaps…when Kara visits next?” He says, sounding almost sly, and Lena blinks at him.

“I – she –“ She stammers, but Brainy saves her from having to answer.

“I understand,” He says, averting his eyes to pick some invisible debris from Querl’s mane. “I find that…most activities are not as enjoyable when Miss Nal is missing.”

It’s the first time Lena has really heard him acknowledge his feelings for Nia. It’s clear in the way he looks at her like she hung the moon, but when it comes to voicing things, he seems to exist in the same category that Lena does – shove it in a box until further notice.

“So…why not go for it?” She asks quietly. Brainy smiles, finally meeting her eyes again.

“The same reason Kara does not know how you truly feel.”

Lena almost chokes on her next breath. Brainy says it so nonchalantly, as it it’s the most obvious thing in the world – and it’s terrifying.

“What are you talking about?” She deflects, and to her indignation, Brainy actually chuckles.

“I know I am not the most astute with emotional matters. But anyone with a brain can see that you two are dancing around what you both actually want.”

Lena swallows the lump that comes to her throat at the devastating truth of the statement. As much as she’d like to deny it, she’s playing a dangerous game letting herself get this close to Kara, letting herself lean too hard into the we’re-not-dating-but, and it’s unnerving that other people can see it.

But she clears her throat, sidestepping a puddle of something unidentified as Brainy moves further into the barn, grabbing a feed bucket.

“At least we have something. It might not be perfect, or long-lasting, but…”

Brainy sighs, pausing in the pouring of oats into some kind of receptacle in the nearest stall. He’s a quiet for a moment, like he’s gathering his thoughts, and when he speaks, it’s halting and unsure.

“Nia deserves better than me. I am…inexperienced in relationships. I don’t experience things in the same way that other people do. I am not what is best for her.”

He says it matter-of-factly, but he looks…sad. So desperately sad, in this self-inflicted knowledge of his own perceived shortcomings. And as he pats the nose of the spotted horse in front of him, Lena thinks.

She thinks about what Brainy said, and about what Kara said all those weeks ago when Lena inadvertently implied that she could be better off elsewhere.

“You know,” She says carefully, uncomfortable acting like an authority on this but feeling like, maybe, Brainy needs it. “Someone very smart once told me that sometimes, it’s not about what might be best for someone logically. Sometimes, it’s just about being happy. And, Brainy…you’d make her so happy.”

Brainy is still for a moment, except for the constant movement of his hands over the nose of the horse. He stares almost blankly into the distance, clearly deep in thought – and, after a moment or two, he nods rapidly and seems to make up his mind.

“You are right.”

“I…am?” Lena says, alarmed at how quickly he seems to have absorbed the half-baked concept she stole from Kara. Brainy nods again, picking up the nearest tack box and putting all of his tools back inside.

“Yes. I am going to finish with my duties here, and then I will go tell Nia that I am in love with her.”

Lena blinks, trying and failing horribly to conceal what she’s sure is a dramatic face journey. “I – yeah, great!”

Having made such a life-changing decision, Brainy puts the feed bucket down and leaves the barn at a quick clip, leaving Lena standing alone and surrounded by horses. One tosses its mane loudly to her left, and she jumps, moving away from the noise.

“Uh, Brainy? Should I just…go?”

She gets no answer, but two days later Nia and Brainy are holding hands at the Livewire, and when their eyes meet across the table, Brainy gives Lena a genuine, unhesitant smile and a subtle thumbs-up.

After that, Kara won’t stop referring to August as the summer of love. It seems like everyone is in a couple, every night is a quadruple date, and it makes Lena delve even further into the fantasy, as terrible as she knows it’ll be when it ends. Every kiss on the cheek, every handhold, every public cuddle, she lets it happen with no hesitation. She allows morning after lazy morning to come with breakfast and sex, and evenings are spent talking deep into the night in front of Lena’s warm gas fireplace. They’re a couple in everything but name, and every day has Lena sinking deeper into Kara like a warm bubble bath.

Of course, she’s positive that it would all disappear if Kara ever found out who she is and who she’s related to, but she’ll take what she can get.

 


 

“You know, I think I’m always going to have a fondness for the place where you emphatically did not ask me out.”

Kara groans, flopping onto her back. The treehouse creaks loudly as it always does, but Lena ignores it; over the course of the summer Kara has been bringing her up into the actual structure more and more, and now she pays the constant instability of the structure as little mind as Kara does.

“Am I ever going to live that down?”

“Never. I’ll be telling that story when I’m 65.”

Kara chuckles, but there’s a sadness in her expression that Lena almost doesn’t catch before she rubs her face and sits up, nudging Lena with her shoulder. “Well, when you do, at least mention that I made you a picnic?”

“I’ll make sure to include it.”

Kara nods absently, swinging her legs back and forth. It makes an incredibly endearing picture – Kara, framed by the pink sunset, her blue ballcap on the platform next to her and her hair falling over one shoulder. She flashes a smile when she catches Lena staring, and when she averts her own gaze back to the horizon, Kara’s eyes don’t leave her face.

“Hey, Lena?”

Kara’s voice is soft, suddenly, and Lena looks over to find her fiddling with the cuffs of her faded hoodie. She looks a little nervous, and Lena grabs for her hand, squeezing it comfortingly and inclining her head.

“I was thinking. Would you maybe…I mean, only if you want to. Feel free to say no, I know it’s sort of permanent and you’re leaving soon so you might not want to –“

“Kara,” Lena interrupts, squeezing her hand even harder. “You have to ask me a question in order for me to have an answer.”

“Right,” Kara says, laughing shakily. “Um. Do you want to add your name to the tree?”

Such a simple question, with such a heavy context.

Looking away from Kara’s nervous face, Lena’s eyes trace over the tree in question. The names standing out in bold against it, a timeless expression of friendship and support. Inscribed so deep that they’ll be there until the whole tree comes down. In comparison to their lives, practically forever.

And Kara wants Lena’s name there, too.

It’s a deeply meaningful gesture, a huge show of care and investment that should have Lena running in the other direction, but Kara’s bright smile when she nods in the affirmative is all she cares about, damn the consequences.

Kara leads her to the trunk, flipping open a pocketknife that Lena had no idea she had, and offers it to her with a grin.

“Choose your spot!”

Lena considers the options. There’s a huge swath of space over beside James and Winn’s names, where she could easily make her mark, as well as near the floor under Lucy’s. But the area Lena is drawn to is on the other side of the trunk, where Kara’s slanted writing was carved in years ago.

She makes the first line of her swooping ‘L’ carefully, and Kara’s soft eyes follow her hands all the way. She leans forward and blows the sawdust out of the lines when she’s finished, flipping Kara’s knife closed, together they survey her handiwork.

“Your writing is so elegant,” Kara says, reaching up and tracing over the letters with her fingers. Her calloused fingertips catch on the uneven surface, and she rubs them together to brush off the wood chips.  “How did you manage to do cursive on a tree trunk?”

“Determination,” Lena drawls, resting her head on Kara’s shoulder as the blonde laughs.

It’s just another example of all the ways Kara makes her feel welcomed here. Welcomed, and safe, and absolutely accepted in a way she’s never felt before. Kara puts an arm around her, admiring the now-immovable name carved into her favourite spot, and she actually feels content. Kara has done so much for her, in such an absurdly short time, and Lena wishes more than she can say that she could return the favour.

The answer to her prayers comes closer to the end of the summer than she’d like, but she still has some time to get use out of it, and she absolutely intends to. Lena had almost forgotten about the package she ordered until it arrives, in the hands of the person it’s meant for. Kara knocks on her door in late August with a coffee in one hand and a small box in the other, and she offers both to Lena.

“This was on your doorstep,” She clarifies as she steps inside, wiggling her boots off by the heel and leaving them at the door as she’s done a hundred times. “Did you order something?”

Lena nods, holding the package in her hands and feeling a mounting excitement as Kara opens the fridge and grabs the jug of iced tea that Lena keeps in there specifically for her. The thing she ordered has the potential to make this night pretty incredible for both of them, and she’s itching to open it.

“I did. I was actually hoping that you’d be here when it arrived.”

Kara looks at her quizzically over her glass of iced tea.

“Me? Why?”

“It’s sort of a gift. For both of us.”

Kara looks intrigued, and she pulls her keys out of her pocket and selects the sharpest one. “Well, let’s open ‘er up!”

When she pulls the contents out, there’s a moment of pointed silence before Kara starts laughing.

And, Lena has to admit, the sizeable strap-on she bought does look sort of silly in Kara’s hands, the specialized harness dangling towards the floor – but she’s fairly sure that, given a few minutes and some visual stimulation, Kara won’t be laughing for long.

 “You bought us a strap?” Kara says, still chuckling, wrapping her hand around the girth and looking somewhat shocked when her fingers almost don’t close over it. “I, uh. I have one of those, you know. I already told you, we can use it whenever you want.”

Lena smiles, moving closer to Kara and reaching a hand out. Her slightly smaller hand wraps around the toy just under Kara’s, and she squeezes.

Kara swallows hard, her laughter promptly forgotten.

“Firstly, I’ve seen yours, and I’ve told you. It isn’t big enough,” Lena finally says, her voice intentionally low, and she’s gratified by the way Kara’s eyes widen dramatically. “Secondly, this one comes with a special feature. Look.”

Lena lets go of the toy to instead gesture at the base, which is really the reason that she purchased this exact model. As a part of the design, the base is a saddle of sorts – rather than being flat it’s carefully curved, perfectly shaped to fit snugly against the giver’s clit.

It’s absolutely perfect.

“What’s this for?” Kara asks, her free hand tracing along the unfamiliar shape of the saddle base. She looks sceptical, but receptive, and Lena treads carefully.

“For you to grind against.”

Kara blinks rapidly, and Lena can see the picture of exactly what’s being suggested forming behind her eyes.

“…really?” She asks, holding it closer to her face for inspection. She seems doubtful, but Lena knows with a deep certainty that if she can get the damn thing strapped on, it’s going to change Kara’s life.

“If you don’t like it, that’s fine,” She says, honestly. “It wasn’t that expensive. You being comfortable is the most important thing to me. But…I think it’ll work for you.”

Kara seems to consider it for a moment. She looks warily at the base again, and for a second, Lena thinks she might say no. But then her eyes track up the length, focusing on her fingers and how they almost don’t close around the circumference, and Lena can practically see her pupils dilate.

“…okay.”

Five minutes later she’s half-naked, on her back, the harness is firmly attached, and Kara’s nervousness has melted away in the wake of familiarity. She’s kissing Lena with her usual enthusiasm, seemingly having forgotten about the newness of the toy – that is until Lena reaches down, wraps her fist around the length of it, and presses it into Kara’s clit.

She can almost see the moment Kara’s brain shuts down. She makes a loud, instinctual noise that makes Lena’s own clit pulse, her hips bucking hard into Lena’s hand, and her kisses trail off into panting.

“Holy crap, Lena –“

“Think your tune has changed a little?” Lena asks, pressing in again, and Kara moans again, nodding rapidly.

“It’s, uh,” Kara says breathlessly, still twitching in Lena’s firm grip. “It’s…interesting.”

Kara is clearly playing it off, and Lena smiles against her mouth. Oh, you have no idea.

Spreading her legs to brace against the sheets, Lena slides a hand to rest on Kara’s lower back – and, when Kara looks down to watch the strap settle against Lena’s thigh, she presses her hand down.

“I want you inside me,” She whispers, bucking into the toy as it drags against her cunt, and Kara whimpers as the move puts more pressure on her own clit.

“Okay,” Kara breathes, nodding rapidly and looking a little overwhelmed. “Okay. Yeah. Right. Okay.” The confident air she usually has in bed is now unsure, shaken by the introduction of her own pleasure, but in this case Lena is perfectly happy to help out. She reaches down again, takes the silicone in her hand, and guides it to her entrance.

Even though she’s expecting it, the feeling of the head nudging her is enough to make her heart skip. It’s big – thicker than anything she’s taken in a long time, and the knowledge of the stretch it’s going to give her makes her wild – and the idea of Kara easing it inside her is enough to have her panting.

Kara’s hips jolt forward, and Lena gasps as the first inch sinks in unexpectedly.

“Go slow,” She whispers, her legs moving instinctively to wrap around Kara’s waist, and Kara nods, her face already shiny with sweat.

And, god, slow Kara goes. She eases Lena open so carefully, with so much reverence, guiding herself with a hand on the toy and pressing their foreheads together as Lena clings to her back, all her control of the situation gone. She’s half-feral, desperate for the pressure and fullness and just a hint of hurt, and the look of almost pained desire on Kara’s face ignites something deep inside her.

It feels like an eternity before Kara bottoms out – and, when she does, Lena has a sudden moment of terrifying clarity.

She’s never felt so close to someone in her entire life.

She’s no stranger to using a toy like this. It’s a personal favourite, honestly, and she’s had a moderately healthy sex life before meeting Kara. But now, with her legs wrapped around Kara’s hips and what feels like very inch of her filled to the brim, her heavy breath mingling with Kara’s, the combination of vulnerability and safety that sweeps over her is almost too much to take.

Luckily for her sanity, Kara seems to finally feel the impact of the saddle pressing into her only a few seconds later, and she presses in hard with another broken moan.

The movement firmly displaces any thoughts that might have been in Lena’s head that aren’t ‘please fuck me until I can’t walk’, and she quickly angles her hips up to better take Kara in.  Kara’s breath catches at the change, and Lena bites gently on her earlobe, pressing herself up and into the toy – and by extension, Kara’s clit – with three words that make Kara go wild.

“Don’t hold back.”

With what Lena can only describe as a grunt, Kara plunges into Lena with a few hard, uneven thrusts, each one punctuated with a shaky whine as she gets used to the sensation of the saddle. She pauses after the fourth, pressing deep and firm in a way that makes both of them whimper, eyes closed and foreheads touching – and then, when Kara’s eyes next open, the raw hunger in them engulfs Lena completely.

Kara takes a firm hold of Lena’s thighs, braces her knees against the mattress, and uses what feels like most of her core strength to slam into Lena at full strength.

“Fuck!” Lena gasps, her hands shooting up to clench around the slats of the headboard. “Holy shit, Kara –“

“Is that okay?” Kara pants, her eyes unfocused but concerned. Her hips still, but Lena arches up, desperate for more.

“Yes, yes, god, do it again –“

Kara obeys, her speed picking up once she’s realized that Lena isn’t going to break in half, and what results is probably the most sublime prolonged moments of Lena’s life. Kara ruts into her unselfconsciously, swept away by the current of her own newfound pleasure, and Lena just holds on for the ride - the combination of the thick toy inside her, the unrelenting pace, and Kara’s surprised, overwhelmed noises is bringing both of them closer to the edge by the second.

“That’s it,” Lena gasps, her hand firm on the back of Kara’s sweaty neck as she pants and cries out into her hair, her pace never slowing. “Let go, Kara. God, yes, I’ve got you, fuck –“

With a noise Lena has never heard her make before, Kara’s body bows, her hips twitching wildly as she comes hard against the toy and into Lena’s cunt.

It shouldn’t work for her – Kara has almost stopped moving, and besides that, she’s not usually one to come from this position alone – but god, it’s all too much. The feel of Kara coming while she’s inside her, the press of her desperate grinding, the sound of her surprised, instinctual noises, the taste of her sweat – it all swirls inside her, zips down to her clit, and implodes like a supernova.

When she next gains awareness, Kara is still inside her, and she’s trembling.

“Hey,” She says, her voice raspy from noises she doesn’t fully remember making. She moves her hand to rub comforting circles on Kara’s muscular back, laying kisses on her shoulder. “Kara, darling, look at me.”

Kara raises her head, her hair in disarray, and Lena is relieved to see that rather than looking upset, Kara’s eyes are bright and alert. In fact, she looks like she wants nothing more than to devour her again, and Lena clenches involuntarily around the length still inside her.

Kara seems to feel it, and she presses in deep again, her smile getting brighter with every inch.

“Can we do that again?”

Lena’s air leaves her in a breathy laugh, and she nods enthusiastically, short nails digging into Kara’s back.

“If you think you can handle it.”

Kara’s answer is to ease the toy out, flip her over, and pull her hips into the air in a swift motion, and Lena muffles her embarrassing groan in the pillows.

“I can handle it,” Kara says, her voice stronger than it’s been since Lena buckled her into the harness. Her hand splays on Lena’s lower back, dragging down with the barest hint of nails until her fingers are brushing the wetness smeared all over her inner thighs.

“Can you?”

Yes,” Lena hisses, clutching at the sheets and letting go of her inhibitions completely. Her body is in Kara’s hands, and as Kara lines up the strap again, she puts her heart there too. “Give me everything.”

And, Kara does. She fucks Lena until she’s lost count of how many times they’ve both come, until it feels like Kara has surpassed her orgasm count for the entire summer in a single night, until Lena slumps forwards onto her chest in a sweaty, bruised heap and finally stretches her legs out. Her hips sockets pop satisfyingly, and Kara laughs in disbelief, staring up at the ceiling.

“I have never…ever…felt like that before.”

Lena isn’t sure she can talk right now without it coming out garbled and shaky, so she just kisses Kara’s chest until she sighs happily.

“…can we use this every time?”

Lena snorts, and Kara starts to giggle, and soon they’re lying together in a fit of laughter so hard that Lena can feel a stitch developing in her side from the combination of mirth and the past 2 hours of cardio. It’s over nothing – the situation isn’t even particularly funny – but it feels cathartic somehow, just being with Kara like this while their sweaty bodies cool. She’s never felt this comfortable with someone she’s sleeping with. Just laughing and joking and existing together, naked and vulnerable but happy.

Kara shifts slightly as the laughter peters off, propping herself up on an elbow and looking down at Lena with an achingly genuine expression.

“I know this is a weird thing to be grateful for, but…thank you, Lena. Seriously. I’ve never been with someone who cared so much about how I…about how my body – I mean, about making me feel good. You know?”

Kara is blushing furiously by the end, which is hilarious in the perspective of the fact that she very recently spent a full 5 minutes sliding the new toy against Lena’s chest until the visual and the pressure on her clit had her choking out a hard orgasm into the pillows.

Clearing her throat and her mind of that memory, she puts a firm hand on Kara’s chest. “I’m just glad I could find something that worked for you. And, I can’t say it didn’t work out incredibly well for me.”

Kara grins, inching closer. “Oh, yeah? Any chance you’d want it to work out again?”

She rolls on top of Lena again, the wet length of the strap nudging her insinuatingly, and Lena just embraces what she’s been hurtling headfirst towards all summer. She spreads her legs, and cracks opens her chest.

It’s wide open while Kara fucks her slowly, patiently, gently, veering closer to making love than Lena has ever been comfortable with; and her heart is on blatant display after a deep, subterranean orgasm that seems to come from the absolute tips of her toes. It makes her feel warm and comfortable and loose – loose enough to accept Kara’s murmured words of affection, and loose enough to answer pretty much any question Kara asks her. So, when Kara points out with sleepy amusement that Lena has started wearing a claddagh ring, Lena doesn’t see the point in avoiding the truth anymore.

“I suppose you inspired me,” Lena says raspily, as Kara takes her hand and looks it over. It’s simple, just a basic silver thing she bought on a whim, but it has a surprising amount of meaning, and in only a few weeks it’s started feeling like she’s always worn it. “My mother wore one. My real mother.”

“Are you remembering things?”

“Bits and pieces. Nothing concrete, really. But I wouldn’t be remembering anything if you hadn’t asked me about her.”

Kara smiles, kissing Lena’s hand over the silver band. “I see it’s pointing at your wrist. Are you dating someone I don’t know about?”

Lena blushes, pulling her hand back and shoving it under the covers. She hadn’t exactly expected Kara to know its meaning, but she’s been wearing it in the ‘taken’ position – right ring finger, with the heart pointing at her own – since she bought it. It didn’t feel right to have it any other way, as much as she insists to herself that she isn’t in a relationship.

“Shut up.”

Kara just chuckles, pulling her close again. “So, you don’t have your mother’s ring? She didn’t pass it down to you before she passed?”

Lena shakes her head, drawing patterns on Kara’s skin with a fingernail. “I wasn’t allowed to keep any of her belongings when I was adopted.”

“…nothing?” Kara says, sounding appalled. “Your new family made you get rid of it all? When you were four?”

Lena swallows. “I don’t think I’ve ever told you about them, have I?”

“You’ve mentioned a few things. I got the impression they weren’t nice, but that is – that’s fucking monstrous.”

Lena laughs mirthlessly. Monstrous is giving her family too much credit, and Kara is one of the only people she’d trust to know that.

“Yes. I suppose it was.”

After that, all it takes is a hint of encouragement from Kara and Lena is spilling her entire childhood onto the sheets.

She tells Kara about Lex, how he was the only person in the family to welcome her and how she eventually lost him, although she avoids revealing exactly how. She talks about Lillian, about her coldness and her cruelty, about how Lex was always the apple of her eye and Lena by comparison fell to the wayside. She talks for the first time about finding out that Lionel Luthor was her real father after he died when she was in college, now knowing that Lillian hated her not only for her shortcomings but also because she was a reminder of his infidelity. About how Lillian instilled in her a bone-deep sense of being not good enough, one that she can’t escape no matter how many all-nighters she pulls trying to fix a company she never wanted.

By the end of it she’s crying, but she feels lighter than she has in years. The weight of a childhood and adolescence she’s always refused to share, even with Sam and Jack, has been lifted from her chest, and Kara isn’t judging or trying to fix. She’s just listening, holding Lena tight and reminding her that she’s here. Always.

As Kara pulls her close, settling onto her back and kissing the top of Lena’s head, a thought comes to her. One that she’s been suppressing for weeks. One that’s as terrifying as it is exhilarating. It drifts across her mind like a toy sailboat, gentle but undeniable.

I’m in love with you.

 


 

Once she’s thought it, the knowledge won’t leave her. It stays with her for every moment of her dwindling time with Kara, even when they’re apart, and it seeps into her sleep. Most nights she dreams of Kara, even when the subject of her dreaming is right there next to her in bed, and it starts to get exhausting waking up most mornings with an ache in her chest because she dreamt of future summers here, or Christmases, or fucking wedding dresses. Impossible futures, but ones she suddenly yearns for.

It stays with her as the day she planned to leave approaches, and it stay with her as she cancels the moving van she ordered. It stays as August 28th comes and goes, and it doesn’t leave even when Sam and Jack inevitably call her following the email she sent informing them of her intention to continue her vacation into September.

“Hey, Lena? Uhh, what the hell?”

Lena sighs, curling her legs underneath her as she switches her phone to the other ear. Kara is at work, and Lena is doing what she usually does when she’s waiting for her – she’s set up a mobile office on her back deck, facing the lake, and she’s catching up on the work she inevitably misses while Kara is taking all of her attention.

“I told you in the email, Sam. I’m just…not quite done here yet.”

Jack chimes in, then. “Okay, that’s fine, but you tell us in an email? And, two days before you’re supposed to be back?”

Lena shifts guiltily. Jack is right – she did sort of fuck them over. But she had agonized over this decision for days before making it at the last minute, and now that she’s done it, she can’t deny she’s feeling lighter.

“I know. And, I’m sorry,” She says, only half-meaning it.

“We had board meetings set up! Debriefs! Press conferences!” Jack says, his voice getting consistently more high-pitched, but thankfully Sam interrupts him before he builds up too much steam.

“Look, what we’re really worried about is you. Are you okay? It’s not like you to cancel things at the last minute like this.” Sam does sound concerned, and Lena will grant her that it’s warranted – she isn’t exactly known for making last-minute selfish decisions.

“I’m fine, Sam. I just need some more time.” It’s a half-truth, but it’s all she’s comfortable admitting, even to them.

“Lena, if you want to just stay there –“ Sam starts, immediately zeroing in on exactly what Lena is afraid of, but Lena cuts her off before the thought can even be completed.

“I’m not staying forever,” She argues immediately, firmly ignoring the part of her that wants to do exactly that. “I’m coming back. Just…not yet. I’ll be back at the end of September.”

“Okay,” Sam says, but she sounds skeptical. She’s always been able to see right through Lena’s lies, even over the phone.

Jack immediately lightens the mood by asking about Kara, a subject Lena is happy to talk about for hours, and the rest of the conversation is much more pleasant than the initial interrogation.

For all the talking she does with Sam and Jack over her temporary lapse in judgement, though, the subject never comes up with Kara. They don’t talk about it even once in the week before her former moving day – but, when she shows up at Kara’s door on the morning of August 29th, present and clearly staying for longer than planned, the surprised kiss she gets is particularly passionate. Maybe even relieved.

And so, she stays in Midvale as summer transitions gently into fall. The chill September nights start to turn the leaves from green to vibrant hues of red and orange, and the foliage on what Lena has started to consider their treehouse starts to thin as it falls to the grass below. Kara never mentions Lena’s new plans to leave, but they continue to spend as much time as possible together, and every day is a pleasure made even sweeter by the knowledge that they almost didn’t have it.

September in Midvale also means, apparently, a Fall Fair.

According to Kara, the tradition comes from this being a farming area – a Fall Fair was a way to show off and sell all the extra crops for the season, as well as foster a sense of community. Now, though, it means something a little different. Instead of a small crop-centred weekend event, a carnival takes over the entire ice rink and its parking lot, complete with a small midway and a Ferris wheel. There are still aspects of it that harken back to its roots – a competition for the biggest vegetables grown over the summer, for example – but mostly, it seems to be completely recreational. There’s a smash-up derby, and a tractor pull, and Kara is intent on taking Lena to both.

“I thought you liked fixing cars?” Lena asks, as Kara takes a huge bite out of a caramel apple. The midway is packed with people and stalls selling all sorts of tempting and unhealthy foods, and Kara can’t seem to resist buying all of it – a bag of cotton candy swings from her wrist, and she’s eyeing the popcorn wagon with interest. “Isn’t a derby all about destroying them?”

“Well, cars have a natural life cycle!” Kara says through her mouthful of sugar. “You can only keep them going for so long, and then there’s two options: scrap them, or run them into each other like bumper cars for fun and then scrap them.”

“Isn’t it dangerous?” Lena asks, watching with mild wonderment as Kara fits another huge bite of apple in her mouth.

“Only if you’re bad at it.”

Lena snorts. “So, why aren’t you driving this year?”

Kara shrugs, putting on a show of nonchalance. “Didn’t feel like it. Why would I drive when I can watch with a hot date instead?”

Lena’s face heats up, and she quietly tangles Kara’s sticky fingers with her own before she says something to embarrass herself.

When Kara has finished her apple, she points at the nearest game – a ring toss – and pulls Lena over with enthusiasm.

“These games are rigged,” Lena protests, stopping short as Kara pulls out a 5 dollar bill to buy into it. “There’s no point!”

“The point is, it’s fun,” Kara argues, before she accepts a handful of rings and hands half to Lena. “You could win a goldfish, look.”

“To do what with?” Lena asks, but it might as well be to the air. Kara is already tossing rings, determined to win one of the sad-looking fish that swim around in the spheres underneath.

Kara tries, and she tries, and then she gives the attendant another 5 and she tries again. Time after time, though, the rings miss their mark, and finally Kara gives up and drags her to the stand next door to try her hand at a mini basketball game.

She loses at that, too.

“You know, I thought you’d be good at this,” Lena drawls, arms crossed and leaning against the front counter of the stand. “You were so excited, I thought there’d be some skill involved.”

Kara huffs, missing wide with her fourth ball with a frown. “Hey! I’m doing my best!”

“I’m sure.”

“Well, why don’t you come over here and try, if you’re so confident!”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s necessary –“

But Kara is already shoving a basketball into her hands and guiding her in front of the basket. Lena looks back and forth between the ball and the net a few times, before raising her hands and giving a half-hearted throw.

It doesn’t even reach the basket, falling uselessly to the floor below.

“Not as easy as it looks, is it?” Kara says from behind her, and Lena rolls her eyes. But soon two warm hands alight on her hips, and Kara is pressed into her in a way that makes her forget the ribbing.

“Here. Let me show you.”

“Show me how to miss?” Lena says, but there’s no bite to it. Her voice is all breathless in the way that only Kara can inspire, and as cheesy and ridiculous as it is, she lets Kara guide their hands up to shoot a basket in tandem.

It misses horribly, and Kara laughs in her ear, low and sweet.

“Okay, you know what, I’m gonna win you a toy if it’s the last thing I do.”

Lena laughs, shaking her head as they leave the site of Kara’s humiliation and head to greener pastures. “Kara, it’s fine. I don’t need a cheap carnival toy.”

But Kara is determined, and she leads her in a beeline to a game that she claims she can win, no problem.

“Nobody can win these things, Kara. They’re not made for humans,” Lena insists, as Kara takes her place under the big glowing sign enticing players to “Ring the Bell!”. But Kara just pulls a few dollars out of her pocket, and grins.

“I can win it.”

Lena sighs, but she waits gamely for Kara to take the huge mallet and get herself ready. It’s fun to watch, at least – it’s a game of strength, and she’s perfectly happy watching Kara and her muscles attempt it.

At first, Kara vamps a little. She bounces on the balls of her feet, limbering up, and does some mild stretching before she actually steps forward. By the time she takes the giant hammer from the teenage attendant, there’s a small crowd hanging around to watch, and Kara flexes with a wink in Lena’s direction.

Lena rolls her eyes, but it only seems to egg Kara on further. She laughs, and after a moment of staring at the platform she has to hit, she winds up dramatically and slams the mallet down with a powerful swing.

Up and up the little light goes, up the neon column after Kara practically destroyed the thing, until it finally hits the bell at the top with a shrill noise.

Suddenly, Lena wishes they were at home.

“Holy shit,” Lena breathes. Kara just grins and waves at her as she picks out a blue stuffed dragon as a prize, as if a stupid carnival game didn’t just practically drop Lena’s panties in the middle of a fair.

And the feeling persists, until Kara points at the towering Ferris wheel with excitement and all the blood that had been in her groin zooms around the rest of her body with her terrified heartbeat.

“I’d rather not,” She says firmly, stopping in the middle of the path and digging in her heels. Kara’s arm wrenches, their hands still being attached, and she looks back in alarm.

“What? Why not?”

“I’m…not a fan of Ferris wheels,” Lena edges, and she braces herself to argue her case for not getting on the sketchy construct, but Kara, as usual, surprises her.

“Oh. Okay! Is there something you’d like to do instead?”

Lena blinks, her fingers flexing in Kara’s as her date looks back at her earnestly.

“Really?”

“Oh course!” Kara says, looking at her like she’s the one saying something abnormal. “I’m not going to make you go on something you’re scared of.”

Lena scoffs, almost pulling her hand away at the inference that she’s something as basic as afraid.

“I’m not scared.”

Kara lifts a brow, and Lena can almost see her own influence in the expression. “Lena, you’re just afraid of heights. It’s fine.” She knows Kara isn’t judging her, she knows it, but something in her is still squirming at the idea of Kara thinking she’s scared of something so silly.

“I’m not – I just don’t like dangling 40 feet in the air in a rickety bucket operated by teenagers, that’s all,” She grumbles, and Kara chuckles, pulling her in for a quick kiss that makes Lena’s heart skip.

“Whatever you say.”

“I’m not afraid!” Lena says, more loudly this time.

“Lena, it’s fine –“

But Lena huffs, heading over to the ticket booth with Kara in tow. She is not afraid of heights, she’s just uncomfortable with stupid carnival rides, but she’s going to show Kara once and for all that she’s wrong.

The moment they step into the rusty metal pod and the wheel starts to shift upwards, Lena regrets her decision.

“Does this thing seem shaky to you?” She asks, edging closer to Kara on the seat as they move further and further towards the open sky. “I don’t trust the structural integrity. I have interns who could build something sturdier than this in under an hour.”

“Do you oversee interns?” Kara asks, clearly trying to distract her from the panic at hand, and Lena is too preoccupied by the shrill squeaking of the hinges above them to alter the truth.

“Not directly, but I see their work. Sometimes it yields good results, and we end up hiring them for major projects – I feel like these wind conditions aren’t very safe. How often are these inspected?”

Kara nods, and she hardly even flinches when Lena practically crushes her hand as their basket starts to swing.

“Hey, Lena, it’s okay. We’re gonna be fine, this Ferris wheel has come every year since I was a kid and it’s never broken once.”

“You’re telling me this deathtrap is thirty years old?” Lena hisses, tearing her eyes away from the dizzying distance between her feet and the ground to glare at Kara.

“I’m not the one who decided to come up here!”

Lena huffs, unable to argue the point but unwilling to admit that she’s dug herself into this hole. Instead she clutches Kara’s hand until her fingers are white, the dumb stuffed dragon that Kara got her tucked under her other arm, and she has to resist the instinct to hug it under her chin like a child to calm herself down. She hasn’t done something like that since before her adoption, and she’s not going to start today, no matter how cute the plushie is.

Instead she tucks her face into Kara’s neck, breathing deep while Kara rubs her back in rhythmic circles.

“Hey, how about I tell you a story to distract you from the whole ‘heights’ situation?”

“I don’t see how that will help.”

Kara shrugs, almost dislodging Lena’s head. “You never know.”

At Lena’s lack of answer, she clears her throat and starts to talk.

“Did I ever tell you about the time Alex and I tried to toboggan off the roof of our house?”

“What?” Lena’s head shoots up, only to go right back down into Kara’s shoulder when she sees how dizzyingly high up they are. “Seriously, Kara, sometimes I wonder how you’re still alive.”

“Luck, mostly,” Kara says, nonchalant. “Anyways, the snowbanks had gotten so high that they almost touched the eaves of out house, right? And so Alex and I climbed out her bedroom window, and up onto the roof with our sleds.”

Why?” Lena says, her pounding heart momentarily forgotten.

“Because it was fun!” Kara says, moving on quickly. “Anyways, we got on the same one, and Alex started pushing us down. But halfway she realized the gap between the roof and the snowdrift was too big, so she grabs me and throws me off before it goes over.”

“But not herself?” Lena asks, frowning. Kara shakes her head.

“Nope.” Kara makes a pop sound on the p, and continues. “She went flying off the roof, and missed the bank completely. Landed on the ground and broke her wrist.”

“Oh my god!”

Kara nods, still holding Lena tight. “Turns out, she didn’t want to do it at all. She was scared, but I was so excited about it that she felt like it was a dare. And then she basically threw herself off a roof to make sure I didn’t get hurt.” She can feel Kara looking down at the top of her head pointedly, and Lena clears her throat.

“That…sounds like Alex.”

“Mhmm. We got in a lot of trouble.”

Kara doesn’t stop looking at her, and Lena finally huffs as the joints creak and sway. “Are you trying to tell me something with this story, Kara?”

“…maybe.”

Lena doesn’t even have a comeback. She just buries herself deeper in the safety of Kara’s hug, and Kara stays like that – rubbing circles on her back, acting as the only solid thing on this whole shaky structure - until they finally touch back down and Lena practically wrenches the door open in her haste to exit.

“You okay?” Kara asks as they clamber out of the bucket, and Lena takes a second to steady herself. “I’m sorry you had such a rotten time up there. I didn’t mean to…I dunno, make you feel like you had to? I know I do that, sometimes. When I get all excited.”

Kara looks genuinely nervous, fiddling with the zipper of her jacket. Lena takes a deep breath, the shakiness of the ride starting to ease, and kisses Kara on her sweet, accommodating cheek.

“It’s not your fault that I have an unhealthy need to prove myself.”

Kara still looks worried, so Lena sighs, not quite meeting her eyes as she admits the truth. “Okay. So, maybe I am…afraid of heights.”

The reticent admission seems to make Kara feel better, because she chuckles and pulls Lena into a loose hug. “I won’t tell.”

“You’d better not,” Lena grumbles. Kara pulls away from the hug only after Lena moves first, and suggests what she clearly thinks will cheer her up.

“How about we get a funnel cake?” Kara says brightly.

Lena chuckles. “Not everyone solves their problems with food, like you do.”

“You only say that because you haven’t had this funnel cake before,” Kara grins, already heading towards the stand in question. “The strawberry sauce is homemade.”

They share it as they make their way to the derby, and Lena has to admit – it is very good.

The sun is starting to set when they arrive, the air turning more cool and autumn-crisp the darker the sky gets, and Kara leads them to some high-school-bleacher looking seats that sit next to an open patch of field encircled by a temporary fence. Eight cars are sitting at opposite corners, waiting for the show to start, and the drivers are standing in a group near the fence. Among them are Mike, Leslie, and Brainy, and the latter waves at them cheerfully as they take a seat.

“I had no idea Brainy was a demolition derby kind of guy,” Lena comments, as Kara opens up the bag of cotton candy that’s been on her wrist since they arrived.

“He contains multitudes,” Kara answers distractedly, focused on letting the sugar floss melt on her tongue. “Want some?”

Lena takes a bit, and Kara laughs at the face she makes at the immediate assault of sugar on her taste buds.

“How do you eat this stuff?”

Kara is spared from answering by the sudden roar of an engine. The derby is starting, and her attention is drawn immediately to the group of cars all revving loudly, trying to excite the crowd and psyche out each other.

“Is it always this loud?” Lena yells, as two cars smash into each other headlong, and Kara nods.

“It’s not fall unless you lose your hearing for 3 days!”

Lena begs to differ, but if watching cars hit each other on a big patch of dirt is what Kara wants to do, Lena is right there with her. Brainy ends up winning, and as Nia runs out onto the torn-up ground to give him a victory kiss, Kara leads her to their next event – the tractor pull.

It’s pretty much the opposite of what Lena generally finds entertaining, watching modified death machines pull heavy weights down a sandy track, and it’s noisy and smells like diesel but with Kara cheering and laughing next to her, it’s actually sort of fun.

And, when the whole night ends with Kara bringing their new toy into the shower and wringing three intense orgasms out of both of them, it definitely makes up for any discontent she might have felt.

“I’m so glad I met you,” Kara mumbles into her wet hair when they’re finally out of the bathroom and drying off on Lena’s sheets, comfortably tangled in each other. “Wish you could stay.”

It’s a moment she could easily brush off. A statement made in the throes of sex-addled exhaustion, a moment of open honesty as Kara drifts off into a deep, satisfied sleep. But it hits Lena like a ton of bricks.

Before September is even over she’s already texting Sam.

I might have some last things to wrap up here. I need 2 more weeks.

Sam’s reply comes quickly, and it’s just as skeptical as Lena knew it would be.

[Sam]: This is some serious self-denial you’ve got going on

I just need time to say goodbye, Lena insists, and three little grey dots appear right away. Sam is nothing if not prompt and honest.

[Sam]: You’ve had a month, Lena. I think you know what you want, and it’s not to come back to the city.

Lena purses her lips. It’s a little cowardly to do this via text again, avoiding what she knows will be a confrontation over the phone, but she stands firm. 2 more weeks, Sam.

Sam doesn’t reply after that, and Lena thanks whoever is listening that she seems to take Lena at her word, even if she doesn’t like it. Jack doesn’t message her, either – she assumes he’s irritated with her, given how firmly she said she would be back in September – but she’s sure he’ll get over it when she comes back. And she will come back.

Just…not yet. A few more weeks of calm, ignorant paradise, and she’ll be fine.

She gets exactly 5 days.

It’s 5 days of peace, of taking walks with Kara in the crunchy leaves and buying a pumpkin together from  local farm to set outside Lena’s door, before the whole thing falls apart.

It happens when she least expects it. Everyone is at the Livewire, taking advantage of the warm evening by making use of the patio (which is really just a lawn with some tables strewn across it), when Lena sees something that makes her entire chest constrict to the point of possible cardiac arrest.

Down the main street, past the tiny shops and mid-range cars she’s come to know so well, crawls a shiny black Rolls-Royce. The windows are tinted, but the car – and its familiar license plate, reading SPHEER1CAL – is as familiar to Lena as her own.

It’s Jack’s.

Just as she’s making this horrifying realization, the car comes to an abrupt stop just past the Livewire, and in true Jack Spheer fashion, it reverses without so much as a rear window check and comes to a halt directly in front of the patio.

Kara, for her part, seems to have noticed both Lena’s sudden silence and the strange activity of the very fancy car in front of them, and she slings an arm over Lena’s shoulders just as the windows start to roll down and Lena’s worst nightmare becomes real.

“Are you okay?” Kara asks, but the end of the question is drowned out by two very familiar, very loud voices.

Luthor! Are your fingers broken?!”

“Beep beep, darling. Where does a homosexual park on this godforsaken street?”

Her best friends are here, hanging out the windows of Jack’s car in the middle of Lena’s perfect summer, and in seconds the months-long fantasy pops like a soap bubble.

Chapter Text

She’s surrounded by, genuinely, every person she loves in the world, and yet somehow Lena has never experienced so much cognitive dissonance in her life.

As soon as Jack was directed where to park by a very friendly J’onn (“Parallel parking, love? What do I look like, a driving instructor?” Jack had laughed at the amused-looking doctor), two more chairs are pulled up to the mass of tables and Sam and Jack are settled next to Lena and Kara, with Winn on their other side.

Sam and Jack are here. In Midvale. Sam and Jack are in Midvale, looking distinctly out of place in their designer clothes, and it makes Lena wonder if that’s how she looked when she first got here. Pressed and polished, overly corporate next to the faded jeans and baseball caps of her new life.

Either way, here they are, and they’re looking at Kara and the arm she still has over the back of Lena’s chair with far too much interest.

“This is a surprise! Lena talks about you all the time, but we had no idea you’d be visiting,” Kara says genially once everyone has been introduced, and Jack’s answer is pretty much the exact opposite of what Lena was hoping it would be.

“We’ve come to rescue our CEO from her hermitage!”

Kara looks over at Lena quizzically, and Lena’s heart sinks to the soles of her leather boots.

“L-Corp is probably on fire with all three of us gone, but we had to see what was keeping our dear Lena here,” Sam says, raising an almost Luthor-worthy eyebrow in their direction. But her smile is genuinely friendly, and Kara reacts in kind.

“Well, we’re just happy to have her!” She says, smiling, but Lena can see across the table that Kelly’s face is slowly changing. It’s turning from pleasant curiosity to slow, stunned realization, and Lena’s heart is now back in her chest and pounding at a mile a minute.

She’s seriously regretting not letting her friends know more about her life here. Namely, that nobody in this town knows she’s a CEO, much less of a Fortune 500 company, much less that the company is L-Corp, so recently manned by her homicidal brother.

No. No, no, no -

“…L-Corp?” Kelly says, and the conversation quiets at her surprised tone. Alex looks surprised too, and follows up.

CEO?”

“Yeees,” Jack drawls, looking perplexed. “Lena, did you not –?“

Kelly makes a tiny, disbelieving noise of surprise, and Sam’s eyes widen just a little bit too late.

“Oh. Oh, no –“ Sam starts, touching Jack’s arm, but Kelly is already speaking.

“Oh my god. Luthor.”

Sam and Jack have been here all of 10 minutes, and already everything she built this summer is being swept out from under her. She’s fairly sure she’s on the verge of a panic attack, and everyone’s eyes suddenly on her are making it worse.

“What?” James asks, and Lena wants so, so desperately to have everyone just stop asking questions.

“You’re Lena Luthor,” Kelly says, her voice tinged with a little bit of respect. Even in her panic state, Lena can sense no vitriol in her tone – but it’s still a secret being spilled, still the one thing she didn’t want everyone here knowing.

“Yeah, where have you been? She’s been Lena Luthor all summer,” Winn says, his thick brows knitting in confusion.

Lena feels like she’s going to be sick.

“Lena Luthor, CEO of L-Corp. Took over 4 years ago. Ever since Lex Luthor went to jail, L-Corp has suddenly made leaps in affordable medical technology. Prosthetics, cancer treatments, blood filtration and synthetization, and all at lower than market values. I mean…you’re basically saving lives all over North America.”

Kelly sounds awestruck, and even with a list of her accomplishments in such a positive light, Lena wants to sink into the floor. She doesn’t even dare look in Kara’s direction, too afraid of the betrayal and confusion she’s sure to see there, her months-long half-truths finally coming to light. There’s blood pounding in her ears and she can practically feel the pressure of every set of eyes pressing into her skull –

“Luthor, what the hell?” Alex says, flabbergasted, but Lena doesn’t stay to hear the rest. She’s out of her chair and halfway down the street in a flash, and she can hear Sam calling out to her, but she doesn’t turn back. She runs, harder than she’s ever run before, until she’s in a blessedly empty soybean field she can vaguely remember walking past with Kara where she can hunch over and gasp for air, tears filling her eyes.

They know. They all know. There was no malice in Kelly’s tone, no accusation over her brother’s crimes, which is definitely new – but she had such an incredible thing going, here. She got to be just herself for the first time in her life. Not an orphan struggling to survive in a new family, not the odd Luthor out, not the perfect student or the pristine CEO or the hard-ass bitch – just Lena.

And now, it’s gone.

She doesn’t blame Sam and Jack, really. She deliberately left them out, told them only the barest hints of her time here, so they had no way of knowing that nobody in town knew who she was. But it still hurts, and she sinks to her knees in the dirt, savouring what she knows will be among her last few moments here.

It’s time to go back.

“Lena?”

Lena’s head whips around to her left, where Kara is cautiously approaching, her chest moving rapidly like she ran in pursuit. She doesn’t look angry, which is a massive relief – she just looks worried.

“Are you okay?” She asks, crouching down to get on Lena’s level and putting a hand on her thigh. “You ran off pretty fast there. Sam looked like she just ran over your puppy.”

Lena laughs humorlessly. “It’s not her fault. I guess the cat’s out of the bag, now.”

“What cat?” Kara asks, and Lena looks at her incredulously.

“Who I am. I probably should have told you, but I just…I wanted to be anonymous, for once. To not be the CEO whose brother went crazy. Just for a few months.”

Kara’s face, strangely, doesn’t change from its sympathetic expression. She just plants herself in the dirt right next to Lena and interlaces their fingers.

“Lena, I’ve always known who you are.”

Lena looks at Kara’s face, down at their linked hands, and back up again, her mouth opening and closing like a fish.

“…what?”

“Ever since I read the name on your receipt, that first time at the shop,” Kara says, shrugging as if this isn’t a massive fucking revelation. “I keep up with the news, even if most people here don’t.”

Lena blinks slowly, still not fully comprehending that Kara has known this whole time. From the moment they met, Kara has known who she is. What her family has done.

“…what?” She asks again, lost for words, and Kara squeezes her hand comfortingly.

“I knew who you were, and I figured you didn’t want the whole town knowing. You seemed like you were working really hard to get away from everything that happened with your family.”

“But you didn’t treat me any differently,” Lena says quietly. It seems unfathomable, for someone to know her background and not make a big deal out of it.

But, then, this is Kara.

“Of course I didn’t,” She says, as if it’s not even a question. “You’re just a person, just like everyone else. And I got to know you, on your terms. I know who you are.”

Lena laughs humourlessly. “Really? Because I don’t, lately.”

But Kara, as always, doesn’t let her spin into the vortex of self-loathing. She puts a finger under Lena’s chin to guide her until their eyes meet, and talks with a frank honesty that even Lena can’t ignore.

“You’re Lena Luthor. You inspired Nia to start her own clothing brand, and you never treat any of us like we’re less than you, even thought you could buy this whole town five times over. You like to cook, and drink good wine, and do 5000 piece puzzles to relax. You’re the smartest person I’ve ever met, and you use it to help people. You’re an incredible woman, and I’m insanely lucky that I’ve gotten to spend this summer with you.”

There’s a lump in Lena’s throat the size of a baseball when Kara finishes, and even though her chin is still being gently held, she can’t help but avert her suddenly-watery gaze. Kara’s intensity is too much in her emotional state, especially when it’s being directed in a way that Lena doesn’t necessarily feel she deserves.

“That’s not…how most people describe me, back home,” She manages to say, slightly hoarse. Kara easily lets her go so she can look at the ground, focusing on not crying.

“Well, they’re wrong.”

Kara doesn’t even have to think about it. Defending Lena against herself seems to come naturally. It helps Lena centre herself, having Kara’s steady presence next to her as she closes her eyes and tries to focus on the things she can feel. The cool breeze on her skin, smelling clean and fresh. The soil under her knees, still warm from the day’s sun. Kara’s hand intertwined with hers, a calloused thumb tracing over the back. Breathing in, breathing out.

Kara waits until Lena has opened her eyes to speak.

“You okay?”

Lena nods, feeling most of the tension leave her shoulders. “I’m okay. Sorry that I sort of freaked out, there.”

Kara shrugs. “From what you’ve told me about Jack, I think a little panic is warranted.”

Lena manages a laugh, and soon enough Kara is helping her to her feet and brushing the dirt from their knees. They head back to the bar together, hand in hand, and it’s a huge relief when everyone seems willing to ignore her rapid departure, instead offering her hugs and drinks.

“Man, I didn’t know we had a celebrity genius in our midst,” James says, an arm still around Lena’s shoulders as Winn hands her a martini.

“Yeah, we knew you were rich, but not like…Oprah rich,” Winn adds. Lena scoffs, taking a huge gulp of the much-needed drink.

“I’m not Oprah rich,” She insists, her voice a little raspy from the overly large dose of alcohol still burning in her throat, but nobody seems to take her at her word.

“Jack tells us a different story,” Alex says, nodding in the direction of the culprit, who shrugs good-naturedly. Lena glares at him, and he sticks his tongue out.

“Jack is a dirty liar,” She says, pointing at him threateningly.

“She’s right,” Jack says, taking a pointed sip of his own dirty martini. “I did lie. Oprah’s got nothing on her.”

Lena leans across the table and smacks him on the arm, and he gasps dramatically, clutching his drink like it’s his firstborn.

“You see what I have to put up with, being friends with her? Abuse,” He says, shaking his head, and Kara laughs. He points at her, still pouting.

“Does she beat you like this?”

Kara grins, throwing a wink that even Sam would be proud of.

“Only when I ask nicely.”

There’s a moment of quiet, where the statement seems to work its way through Jack’s brain – and then he roars with laughter, slapping the table, and Alex goes such a deep crimson that Kelly has to usher her away.

“I’m sorry about him,” Lena says, plucking the olive from her glass and throwing it in Jack’s direction. “He’s not fully housetrained.”

But Jack just blows her a kiss, and Kara laughs, her arm around Lena’s shoulder never leaving its place.

Winn and James seem to ignore her advice, soon spiriting off to the corner of the bar with Jack ostensibly to play darts, and Lena rolls her eyes.

He’s always been a charmer.

It’s a good evening. The old friends blend with the new easily, almost too easily, and Lena’s flight earlier seems to be forgotten. It should be carefree, and fun. But even though the whole thing ends up blowing over in what feels like minutes, and even though everyone is still having a good time – Sam and Kelly are getting along swimmingly, Alex looking back and forth between the two women with perhaps a pinch too much interest, and Kara doesn’t leave Lena’s side for a moment – it still feels like a funeral march. The weeks she had left to luxuriate in are gone, and she’s mourning before they’re even officially over tomorrow.

It gets hammered home when everyone is starting to turn in for the night, and Sam pulls her aside before she heads to the motel room she rented with Jack.

“I am so sorry, Lena –“ She starts, her eyes a little shiny, but Lena cuts her off with a shake of her head and pulls her into a hug.

“It’s okay. You didn’t know.”

Sam pulls away and nods, still looking penitent but relieved nonetheless. “Jack almost went after you to apologize, but Kara beat him to it. I’m starting to understand why you love it here so much. Everyone took that so well.”

“They’re pretty great.”

Lena clearly fails to mask the longing in her voice, because Sam frowns.

“You know, we came here because you were acting weird and we were worried. And, honestly, a little curious. But now that I see you here –“ She looks Lena up and down, from her sneakers and jeans to Kara’s flannel, which she’s been wearing to ward off the cold. “I think you’re right. I think you belong here.”

“I never said that,” Lena says immediately. She didn’t – she said she was happy here, not that she belongs. Even if, deep down, it feels like she does.

“You didn’t have to.”

It hits too close to the truth, as Sam is so often wont to do, and Lena shakes her head. “No, Sam. You were right in the beginning. I had my break, and I need to get back to reality. I’m going to go back with you and Jack, I’ll hire someone to pack up my things.”

“You don’t have to do this,“ Sam argues, but Lena stands firm.

“I do. I can’t stay here forever.”

The look on Sam’s face says otherwise, but Lena leaves it behind in favour of sidling up to watch Kara beat Jack at darts.

“Your girlfriend is sullying my reputation as a formidable darts player,” Jack grumbles as Lena approaches, soothed only by James putting a consoling hand on his shoulder. Kara just shrugs good-naturedly, throwing another easy bullseye.

“Can’t have been much of a reputation to begin with,” She says cheekily, and Jack laughs, nudging her with his shoulder at the height of her next throw in retaliation.

It takes almost 10 full minutes for Lena to realize that, even though she knows she’s leaving tomorrow, even though she’s been convincing herself all summer that this is a fling, she had no reaction to being called Kara’s girlfriend besides an overall feeling of contentment. By the time it hits her the moment is long since over, and Kara is subtly inclining her head towards the door like she always does.

And as always, Lena follows without a thought.

Their sex that night is tinged with a sort of desperation that she’s never felt before. No matter now many times they come together, it doesn’t seem like enough, and more than once she comes back to herself after her orgasm to see Kara looking at her with such concentrated longing that she has to start another round just to keep her chest from bursting.

There comes a time, though, when her trembling body can’t take any more distraction from the matter at hand. She flops onto her back, running a hand over her sweaty face, and Kara rests next to her, breathing hard. Everything below her waist feels almost numb, and it only serves to punctuate exactly how much the rest of her hurts.

It’s time to face the music.

“I have to leave tomorrow,” Lena says quietly, to the ceiling. Kara’s voice answers equally softly.

“I know.”

“I’ve been gone too long already,” Lena continues. She’s not sure who she’s trying harder to convince – Kara, or herself. “I kept putting off, and –“

“I know,” Kara replies, her voice never wavering. Even, understanding, calm. A rock in the tempest. The sound of it is like a beacon, and Lena finds herself rolling over to lay her head on Kara’s chest. A strong arm comes around her shoulders like it’s meant to be there, and Lena breathes deep. Kara smells the same as she always has, and she’s going to miss it so much.

“It doesn’t feel real,” She whispers, as if saying it quietly will make it hurt less. Kara squeezes again, kissing the top of her head,

“It doesn’t. But I’m…I’m grateful for the time we had.”

“Me, too,” Lena rasps, hoping Kara doesn’t hear the way her voice breaks.

 


 

The next morning is spent packing her essentials, gathering everything that she’ll need for the next week or so while the movers back her house up. Kara helps her, but Lena almost wishes she wasn’t there – it would be easier to let her go if she wasn’t determined to be so perfect. But she also refuses to waste any of their last few moments together, so she accepts Kara’s offer to ride with her to Sam and Jack’s motel room. Sam agreed to drive with her, leaving Jack on his own, and she’s grateful that she won’t be expected to be in the driver’s seat after this morning.

While Jack and Sam load their things into both cars, Lena takes advantage of their last moments alone, and pulls Kara around to the other side of the Porsche, mostly away from prying eyes. Kara looks as beautiful as always in a tight Henley and jeans, her hair down and loose (probably because Lena commented so many times that she liked it, she thinks with a painful jolt), and it makes it all so much harder.

For a minute, Lena struggles with what to say. She just lets Kara pull her into a hug, pressing her face into her warm neck and trying to memorize how it feels to be so cared for.

“Remember how you said you wouldn’t beg me to go with you when you left?” Kara says quietly, into her ear.

“Yes,” Lena whispers back.

“If you asked…I would.”

She couldn’t stop the tears if she tried. They run down her nose, betraying her emotions, and smear on Kara’s skin. Kara, who would be willing to give up her own happiness for Lena.

“I can’t take you away from here,” She says, refusing to leave the embrace when she’s still openly crying. “This is your home. I just…I wish I could stay.”

“So, stay.”

For a second, Lena isn’t sure she heard right. It was said so quietly into her hair, and the shock of it is enough to make her jerk her head back, meeting Kara’s watery eyes.

“I – I can’t,” She says, wiping at her face quickly. “I have a company to run.”

Kara grabs her hands, holding them both in her own as she makes her final plea.

“Sam and Jack have been running it. You could leave, Lena. And then you could stay.”

It’s about as close to begging as Kara Danvers will get. Lena knows this. And she wants to say yes. God, does she want to. But there’s a pit of fear in her belly, one that whispers at her – telling her that moving across the province for a girl she met 4 months ago is a bad idea. That she’s u-hauling, stuck in the honeymoon phase of a relationship they haven’t even defined. That her company needs her.

She can’t.

Kara seems to know it, too. Her face softens before Lena has even answered in the negative, and she nods as she lets Lena’s hands go.

“I won’t forget you,” She says softly, her face tightening in a way that Lena knows means she’s holding back tears, and Lena herself has to put all of her energy into keeping in the sob that claws at her chest.

She wants to say it back, wants to say all the things she’s been holding in all summer – I’m crazy about you, you’re perfect, I love it here, I love you, god, I love you – but no sound comes out, no matter how much she tries to force it. She’s just silent, her mouth quivering in the face of Kara’s sad acceptance.

Kara flashes Lena a pained smile, inclining her head towards the idling car where Sam is patiently waiting.

“You’d better get going, or you’ll be driving in the dark.”

“Right,” Lena says, her breath shaky. “Right.”

“One more for the road?” Kara says, holding her arms out, and Lena throws herself into them with no hesitation.

The kiss they share is just as intense as their first. Kara holds her so tightly that she can hardly breathe, but she honestly likes it that way – likes feeling like the only air in her lungs is coming from Kara’s mouth, that they’re connected in every way possible in their last moments together. She’s pouring everything she can’t say into it and it feels like Kara is doing the same, and soon Kara’s face is covered in her lipstick and is probably wet with both of their tears. It feels like she’s ripping a piece of herself away – like when she carved her name into that tree, it bound them together somehow. Like Kara’s initials are carved into her heart, immovable and deep.

But, let it not be said that Lena isn’t good at leaving her happiness behind. Their kisses finally slow, and Lena pulls herself away after one soft, final meeting of lips. Kara nods, stroking her cheek before letting her hand drop away.

“Goodbye, Lena.”

Before she can change her mind, before she can call this whole thing off, Lena rips her gaze away from Kara’s and gets in the car.

When she shuts the door behind her, Sam’s voice is right there in the passenger seat.

“One last chance to change your mind.”

Lena doesn’t answer. The tears are coming already, and she’d rather not try to speak.

She’s never been more grateful for Sam’s presence. Her best friend keeps a steady hand on the wheel and the other laced with Lena’s while she cries her heart out, not saying a word. Just a steady company, without judgement. Every kilometre she gets further from Kara it feels like a piece of her heart is stretching thin, refusing to let go, and Sam gives her blessed silence to lick her wounds before she gets back to work.

God, Lena hates her job. 

That job, as much as it took her away from Midvale, at least gives her the oppourtunity to put her sorrows out of her mind.

There’s less backlog than she thought – Sam and Jack are very good at their jobs – but there’s still so much for her to catch up on that for a few weeks, she’s almost able to think she’s okay. All she has to do is work from 6am to midnight, exhausting herself and interrupting any wistful thoughts with paperwork and research. Jack and Sam try to help, taking up her time with new projects and making sure she eats enough to keep her blood sugar up, and she’s mostly able to ignore the way they share worried looks every time they think she isn’t looking.

It’s almost a return to routine, if it weren’t for the ache in her chest whenever she has a spare moment to think.

With this cycle she doesn’t thrive, necessarily, but she survives. Her old clothes feel stiff and restricting after a summer of jeans and flannels, her feet aching for wont of her flat-soled boots, but she shoves her feet into her dusty stilettos and adapts. Thoughts about Kara are reserved for the few moments before she falls asleep, when her brain relaxes and that bright smile comes floating back into her memory.

She falls asleep crying most nights, but the pain has to ease sometime. Right?

It’s all perfectly manageable until mid-November, when she gets an interview request from a fairly high-profile newspaper.

It’ll be good press, Sam says. Help the public – and the shareholders – to remember who’s boss at L-Corp, after she’s been AWOL for so long. Publicize some projects that went unnoticed while she was away, and make it clear that she’s in the driver’s seat again. So Lena agrees, and sets aside half an hour of her time to answer what she’s sure will be a few very rote questions.

What she doesn’t expect is for a tall, well-built man in thick-framed glasses to sit down in her guest chair, shake her hand, and introduce himself as Clark Kent.

For a second, Lena doesn’t register why that name strikes her so hard, why the slightly crooked smile he flashes is somehow familiar. She just blinks dumbly, nodding politely while he gathers his things. It isn’t until he unfolds his notebook and scrawls the date and a few bullet points in the margin in slanted writing that reminds her of someone she’s trying hard to forget that it hits her.

“Clark Kent? Kara’s cousin?” She blurts, and immediately she regrets it.

Clark looks up from his notebook, his expression clouding with confusion as Lena contemplates how easy it would be to shatter her office windows and jump 30 storeys. He sits up straighter, his stance seeming protective in a way that reminds her painfully of the woman she’s been trying to put out of her mind.

Unbidden, an image of Kara at the Livewire standing up to Oliver Queen comes to her mind – the way her shoulders straightened, how she seemed to radiate a strangely gentle intimidation – and it makes her feel like all the air has been sucked out of the room.

“How on earth do you know Kara?”

It’s a good question, really. It would be unnerving to go into an interview with a stranger and have her blurt out a family member’s name as if she knows you. Especially when it comes with the note of longing that Lena is ashamed she couldn’t keep out of her voice.

“I –“ Lena stammers, her fists clenching in the tight fabric of her skirt under the desk. She’s never felt less in control of an interview in her life, including the ones after her family’s trial where most of the reporters were just hurling abuse in her face, and she desperately tries to right the ship as she focuses on her breathing. “We – I spent some time in Midvale. Recently.”

Clark’s stance relaxes slightly, but he looks, if possible, even more confused.

Midvale? I don’t mean to sound rude, Miss Luthor, but…why?”

Lena swallows, gathering her composure before continuing. “I was…doing research. Environmental research, for L-Corp’s new environmental initiative. It’s part of why I was gone this summer.”

Clark’s face clears a little, and he scribbles something into his notes. “Environmental initiative? Not something one would expect from the LuthorCorp of old.”

Lena sighs. Clark clearly doesn’t share his cousin’s sense of optimism, and it looks like she’s going to have to work for a positive image in this interview.

“It isn’t. I am not my brother, and L-Corp is committed to making a difference. Environmental work is a large part of our plan going forward.”

“Has that been announced?” Clark asks, and here, Lena feels more comfortable. This is the cover Sam crafted for why she went on vacation – L-Corp is working on an initiative to encourage plant growth in less-inhabited areas to decrease atmospheric carbon, and for the purposes of publicity, Lena’s reason for briefly stepping down was that she was conducting research in remote communities. Here, she can direct the conversation.

“Well, I suppose I just gave you the breaking story, didn’t I?” Lena says, her confidence returning. Clark smiles, but even as they have a fairly engaging interview about the initiative, the confusion never fully leaves his face.

When his recording device is turned off and he’s slipping his notebook into his messenger bag, though, he pauses. Lena, feeling a dawning sense of discomfort about what is probably coming, tries to make it clear that she has pressing things to deal with after this interview, but Kara’s determination seems to be genetic – Clark stays put, looking at Lena thoughtfully.

“May I ask you something, Miss Luthor?”

“I thought our interview was over, Mr. Kent,” She answers, using his title pointedly in the hopes that he’ll deviate from whatever personal question he’s about to ask.

“It is. This is…off the record.”

Terror seizes Lena’s chest, and she briefly considers tapping the intercom and getting her assistant to escort Clark off the premises. She could make up a reason, she’s sure. But the thought of Kara’s face when she found out Lena had her cousin thrown out of L-Corp makes her resist.

Clark apparently takes her lack of answer as affirmation, because he asks the exact question she was hoping he wouldn’t.

“Exactly how much time did you spend in Midvale?”

Lena swallows, averting her eyes to the papers on her desk and shuffling them blindly. She has no idea what they say – they could be fast food menus, for all she knows – but anything is better than looking into Clark’s face and seeing Kara.

“I don’t see how that pertains to the matter at hand.”

“You told me yourself that you know my cousin, Miss Luthor. You must understand my curiosity. Midvale isn’t exactly a place most people know about.” Clark’s tone, while friendly, also carries an undertone of suspicion that Lena doesn’t appreciate.

“I spoke out of turn. I know Kara…marginally,” Lena edges, clearing her throat and looking pointedly at the door.

Clark ignores the hint.

“Really?” He asks, leaning on the chair he just vacated. Lena would very much like to sweep it out from under his hand with her foot.

“Does this conversation have a point, Mr. Kent?” She snaps, perhaps too harshly, because Clark’s next points are devastating in their accuracy.

“It does. Because Kara and I talk at least once a month.”

Lena’s stomach drops. She’s dimly aware that her hands are shaking, and she wants more than anything to stop it, hide the weakness she’s showing, but she can’t seem to do anything but stare sightlessly at the desk as Clark asks his probing questions.

“And, for this entire summer, she’s been telling me about some woman who came to town and knocked her off her feet.”

Lena swallows, gripping her stylus in a nervous fist. She doesn’t like that a perfect stranger is revealing this to her, that something she holds so close to her heart is held in the hand of someone else. Someone with the power to bring her company to its knees in the media, should he so choose.

Am I having a panic attack? Is this what one feels like? I should ask Jess -

“A woman named Lena,” Clark finishes, and it’s the final nail in Lena’s coffin. She springs to her feet, her chair skittering across the floor towards the window and the papers in her hand scattering across the desk.

“So, what?” She says, gesturing wildly. “Do you intend on bringing this back to your paper? Evil Luthor Seduces Innocent Country Town for Unknown Purposes? Corrupts Local Mechanic? Because I do not react kindly to threats, Mr. Kent, and I’ve worked hard to separate myself from my family, as much as you might not believe it.”

“What?” Clark asks, looking genuinely thrown off his line of questioning by her sudden outburst of emotion. “No! I just...” Finally Clark sighs, rubbing his face, and his shoulders relax.

“It’s nothing like that. It’s just that…Kara has been different lately. Sad, in a way that I haven’t seen her in a long time.”

“I doubt that my absence has had the same impact as the death of her parents,” Lena says shakily, sitting again and gathering her scattered papers. “She made it clear that she didn’t want a long-term relationship any more than I did.”

Clark looks surprised, as if the fact that Lena knows about Kara’s parents is genuinely shocking. But he continues, clearly not thrown off his game.

“No, not to that degree. But Kara...is complicated. She’s always been inclined to allow herself less than she deserves. I think that’s at least partially my fault.” 

“She doesn’t blame you,” Lena finds herself saying, for god knows what reason. “She knows you had other obligations.”

Clark chuckles humourlessly. “No, she doesn’t blame me. She’s too good for that. But I do.”

He clears his throat, finally standing up, and Lena quickly stands with him to hurry his exit. “Anyways, I apologize. I shouldn’t have gotten so personal. But...I care about Kara, and finding out that the woman she’s still crazy about is right in front of me...well, I had to say something.”

It hits her like a punch in the gut. Still crazy about. Still. Kara still thinks about her, enough to tell her cousin about it. It makes it a little hard to breathe again, but luckily Clark is already showing himself out. 

Just as he reaches the door, Lena finds her voice again.

“Mr. Kent?”

Clark turns around, and Lena struggles for words for a moment. What should she even say? Thank you? I’m sorry I hurt her? I hate you for telling me this? 

“You...should visit her more. She misses you.”

It’s something that could easily come out as accusatory, but Lena’s tone is soft, and Clark seems to understand. After a surprised pause he nods, giving Lena a small smile, and then he’s gone. 

Lena sits motionless in her office chair, staring out the window at the city skyline that brings her no joy, until Sam knocks on her door for the 2:00 board meeting. 

 


 

The interview haunts her for weeks. She reads it when it gets published and finds that Clark painted her in a surprisingly positive light, highlighting how her leadership is actively working to reverse her family’s sins, but the positive press does nothing to alleviate the heavy weight that sits on her chest.

Not even work can distract her from it – in fact, as the days press on and the weather turns from cool autumn breezes to wintery ice and slush, she finds all enjoyment she used to get out of fixing L-Corp is gone entirely. She spends half her days staring listlessly out at the city, imagining what Midvale must look like right now – snowy probably, but cozy. Is Kara shovelling the driveways of half the town, like she did with mowing their lawns? She can imagine the blonde scraping the ice off her truck in the mornings, wearing the oversized, fleece-lined jacket she sometimes wore on cooler nights before Lena left. The river would be frozen over, the houses twinkling with holiday lights that nobody in the city seems to put up. Like a picture-perfect Christmas card.

She can see it in her mind’s eye just as clearly as she can see Kara coming home to her after a long day at work, at the lake house she never had the heart to sell, shrugging the wet jacket off and joining Lena in front of the fireplace. Lena would warm her chilled face with hot chocolate, and then kisses, until Kara spread her out over the soft rug –

“Okay, the merger is official, they signed everything and now we just need – Lena?”

Lena jerks out of the fantasy, Sam’s voice bringing her back to reality – she’s in her office, halfway through an email and definitely late to a lunch she scheduled with the head of R&D.

“What?” She asks, trying to brush the lack of attention off as being engrossed in the email she hasn’t typed into in over 20 minutes, but Sam spots the lie right away.

“Were you listening?”

“…they…signed?” Lena says haltingly, and Sam puts a hand on her hip, pursing her lips.

Who signed, Lena?”

Lena shrugs helplessly. She wasn’t paying attention, and Sam knows it – she sighs, taking a seat on the edge of her desk.

“Lena, you should go back.”

Lena scoffs, pushing at Sam’s hip to try to clear her desk space, but Sam doesn’t budge.

“I can’t go anywhere, I was already gone for almost 6 months,” Lena argues, finally giving up and crossing her arms. “No more vacations for me.”

“You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been different lately. You come into work, but you’re barely present. I know you’re thinking about her.”

Lena’s jaw clenches. Sam has been dancing around this for weeks now, commenting that she seems distant and distracted, but this is the first time it’s come to an actual conversation, and she’s definitely not ready for it.

“I’m fine, Sam.”

“I know you, Lena,” Sam argues, full ‘lawyer’ mode activated. “You never wanted this job, but you always worked your ass off because you had nothing else in your life.”

“Hey!” Lena protests, smacking her on the hip, but Sam just shrugs.

“Tough love, sister. And then you went up to Midvale, and I’ve never seen you look so happy. Never. Not even in college, when you were away from your mother for the first time.”

Lena stands up from her chair, putting some much-needed distance between herself and the human-shaped truth bomb. Her heels click on the floor of her office, a sound that used to make her feel powerful. In-control. Now, she just feels like an impostor.

“Of course I was happy, I spent the summer on a lake with nothing to do,” She says, facing the window so that Sam doesn’t catch the half-truth.

“You were happy because Kara made you happy.”

Lena’s chest tightens, and her hand clenches into a fist so hard that she can feel her fingernails digging into her palm. Hearing Kara’s name out loud is a rarity now, especially after the interview with Clark, because it makes Lena so overwhelmed that she has to leave the room – and now, paired with a confrontation from the single most stubborn person she knows, it’s too much.

“Sam…I can’t,” She manages to whisper, but there’s no disguising how her voice cracks on the last word. Sam leaves the desk, then, and tugs on Lena’s elbow until they face each other.

“I know you’re scared,” Sam says, more gently than before but still firm. “Leaving everything you’ve worked for, everything you know, for something fresh is scary. But I don’t want you to end up miserable, thinking about what you could have had if you’d just taken a leap of faith.”

Lena lets out a watery laugh, wiping at her eyes before the tears burning there have a chance to fall and ruin her mascara.

“This is completely different from the pep talk you gave me before I took over L-Corp,” She says, sniffling, and Sam shrugs.

“The one where I told you not to do it, but that if you did, Jack and I would follow you to make sure you didn’t have a nervous breakdown?”

“Yes.”

Sam puts an arm around her, her taller form as comforting as it always is. “Well, I’m fulfilling that promise. And besides, it’s Christmas.”

Lena sighs. She leans her head on Sam’s shoulder, for the first time in her life actually contemplating following her heart.

“Kara’s Jewish,” Lena says absently, and Sam huffs.

“Okay, then it’s Hanukkah,” Sam says, rolling her eyes.

“That’s not really how it works.”

“Whatever!” Sam waves her off, taking her arm back and grabbing Lena by the shoulders instead. “It’s the holidays, is what I’m saying. Go get yourself a little Hallmark magic.”

Lena laughs her first real, genuine laugh in what feels like months. Sam is right. She should do this. She can do this. Her happiness is in nobody’s hands but her own.

“I love you, you know that?”

“I love you too, sweetie. Now, go pack. And buy a real winter coat.”

 


 

When Lena arrives in Midvale, it’s everything and nothing like she remembers.

The roads are the same, the shops, the cars. The grocery store parking lot is still packed with Friday-evening shoppers, the lights at the Livewire still flashing over a parking lot full of trucks. Only, now, the streets are also lined with snowbanks taller than her car, each window frosted and glowing in the early winter evening. Lights twinkle around most of the buildings, as she thought they would be, and each streetlamp hosts a holiday-themed decoration.

10 minutes after she pulls in, she’s still sitting in the Livewire parking lot, her heart pounding.

She came up here to see Kara. To apologize for leaving, to ask if the offer Kara gave her still stands. To see if she can stay. But god, so much time has passed since then. No matter what Clark said, she can’t help but worry. What if Kara’s mind has changed? What if, in the months she’s been gone, Kara moved on? What if – worst of all – she’s found someone else?

After a few more minutes of solo hyperventilation, Lena manages to get herself out of the car. Either way, no matter the outcome, she’ll never forgive herself if she doesn’t at least try.

The moment she steps through the door into the warm bar, she’s assaulted by sense memories. It smells exactly the same – beer, decades of smoke that will never leave the walls and carpets, and pizza from next door. The noise hasn’t changed either, a country song on the jukebox almost drowned out by yells and cheers of tables full of people watching a hockey game on the TV over the bar.

Even Leslie is the same, barely looking away from the game when Lena walks in.

“If you want a drink, get it yourself. I’m busy.”

Lena laughs softly, shaking her head as she looks around. But as her eyes track towards the back of the bar where Kara’s usual table is, someone sees her first.

“…Lena?”

The deep voice that calls out isn’t the one she’s hoping for, but it’s familiar nonetheless. Sitting not far from her is James, with Winn, Brainy and Nia crowding the table around him, and he’s staring at her with his mouth agape.

In fact, they all are, and Lena moves nervously from foot to foot as James stands up. Will they be upset? Angry?

But James just strides forward, his face breaking out into a genuine grin as he scoops her into a tight hug.

“What are you doing here? We thought you left us for the big city!”

“I –“ Lena starts, but the truth catches in her throat. Luckily Nia appears next, hugging Lena somehow even harder, and soon enough the excitement of seeing her friends (her friends, she reminds herself. Why did she ever leave this?) and the burden is taken from her for a minute.

But only for a minute.

“So, why are you here, Lena?” Nia asks, as everyone settles into a seat. “Not that we aren’t happy to see you! But we didn’t think you’d be back. Like…ever.”

Try as she might, Lena can’t quite hide her flinch at the blatant truth.

“I came to see Kara,” She finally admits, scratching at the table with her thumbnail, and James shares a knowing look with Winn.

“Shoulda known,” Winn murmurs, and everyone looks so sympathetic that Lena feels slightly more comfortable.

“So, she’s not here tonight?” She ventures, looking around in the hopes that the blonde might appear from behind the jukebox, but James shakes his head.

“No. We haven’t seen much of her lately, honestly. Even Alex really only sees her at work and at home. She disappears most nights, and doesn’t come back until late.”

There’s no implication in James’ voice, but Lena’s mind jumps to the most obvious conclusion anyways, and the idea of it makes her feel like the floor has disappeared under her feet.

“Is she…seeing someone?” Lena asks quietly, her stomach turning even as she says it, but she’s spared too much stress by Nia, who snorts loudly as soon as the words leave her mouth. All eyes turn to her, and she turns red as a tomato.

“What?” She says, shrugging. “It’s a hilarious question. She’s too hung up on you to even look at anyone else.”

Relief floods Lena’s veins like a drug, assuaging a fear that’s existed in her mind ever since she left, and she finally relaxes into her chair.

“Well then, where could she possibly –“ But before she’s even finished her thought, Lena knows exactly where Kara is. It’s where she always is, where Lena’s idle daydreams have taken her in every spare moment since she left. But now, in the snow, she has no idea how she’s going to get there.

“Is there any way to get to the old treehouse out on 3rd line without going through the woods?” She asks suddenly, and the reaction she gets is 4 blank faces.

“The treehouse?” Winn asks, frowning as he takes a swig of gin and tonic. “Why would you need to get out there? I haven’t been since we were kids.”

But James has a look of dawning understanding on his face, and he’s already standing up and grabbing a helmet from under the table as Winn expresses his confusion. He tosses it to Lena, grabbing another larger one and tucking it under his arm.

“I’ve got my sled. I can get us there.”

“Hey!” Winn protests, as Lena holds the helmet with unsure hands. “That’s my helmet! How am I supposed to get home?”

“I’m coming back for you, babe. Calm down.” James stoops to give Winn a solid kiss on the cheek, and the smaller man pinks complacently as James ushers a confused Lena from the bar.

“I don’t see what a sled is going to do for us,” She says, as James puts his helmet on and raises the visor. “Unless it has a motor on it –“

But James has led them to a huge, shiny machine at the rear of the parking lot, and Lena shortly understands the mix-up.

“Ah. So, ‘sled’ is just your weird northern slang for snowmobile.”

James laughs, swinging a leg over the seat and starting the engine. “Sure is. Hop on!”

Lena hops on, and then she spends the next 15 minutes clinging to his back for dear life as he rips through town at a frankly alarming pace.

The ride through the forest is possibly even more terrifying than the streets, but at the end of it they’re emerging onto a field that’s familiar even covered in snow, with the treehouse that houses some of her fondest memories framed by a dusky twilight. Kara’s truck is under it as usual, this time with the addition of a snowplow blade attached to the front, parked in the exact spot where they sat on Kara’s tailgate the first time, where they had their first kiss on a picnic blanket, just under where Lena carved her name immovably into the wood and sealed Kara’s grip on her heart. There’s a dark figure up on the platform watching the sunset, legs swinging slowly in the cold air, and Lena practically leaps off the snowmobile in her haste.

Despite the noise of the sled approaching, Kara’s silhouette doesn’t look away from the sky.

“Alex comes out here sometimes to try and get her to come back, but it usually doesn’t work,” James says over the rumble of the engine, and Lena swallows. She swallows the guilt, the pain of missing Kara all those months, and faces forwards. It’s the only way she can go.

“You can go, James,” She says, handing Winn’s helmet over. “I’ve got it.”

“Are you sure?” He asks, staying put, and Lena nods with finality.

“Positive.”

With the confirmation James finally revs the engine and zooms away, and Lena takes the first step.

Her foot immediately sinks into about 2 feet of soft snow, and she has a fleeting second of regret in her decision to come back to this snowy hell.

But Kara is there, right there, finally, and the aching, familiar shape of her makes Lena take another step, and another. When she finally stands close enough to the tree to see the details of the woman she’s definitely in love with, her impractical heeled boots are completely full of melted snow, but she stands her ground anyways.

“Kara!”

For a second, Lena isn’t sure if Kara even heard her. There’s no reaction, just the slow swinging of Kara’s feet and the smoke of her breath in the cold air. It’s like this is something she’s used to, being called down and ignoring the caller.

But then, she freezes.

The movement of Kara’s legs stops, and Lena can almost see her entire body tense. Slowly her head turns and looks down, squinting into the coming darkness, and Lena can see her face, pink and ruddy and frowning as if she doesn’t believe what she sees. When she realizes who is standing there, her eyes go comically wide.

“...Lena?”

With jerky, surprised movements Kara pulls herself to her feet with an icy branch, and Lena has but a brief moment of relief that she’s finally been recognized before Kara disappears with a loud, jolting crack.

Under the compounding weight of snow and ice and Kara, just as Lena predicted it would, the treehouse has finally broken.

“Kara!”

There’s some movement from the pile of snow, and Lena bolts as fast as she’s physically able to see the blonde half-covered in white powder and pieces of wood, looking at her like she’s seeing a ghost.

“Lena – what – how –“ Kara sputters, taking Lena’s offered hand and hauling herself to her feet. “What are you doing here?”

Lena, dizzy with the closeness she’s been missing for months now, just stares. At Kara’s prolonged confused expression, she says the first words that come to mind.

“I came back.”

For a few long moments, the stand motionless, drinking each other in. Kara looks almost as drunk on the moment as she is – her eyes dart around Lena’s face, like she’s reconciling it with the memories she has, like she’s afraid Lena will disappear if she looks away for even a second, and Lena reaches a cold hand up to cup Kara’s cheek. Kara leans into it, her eyes still never leaving Lena’s face, and suddenly saying what’s on her mind seems like the most important thing that Lena has ever done.

“I missed you so much.”

Kara exhales all her breath in a shaky, broken whoosh, and the next thing Lena knows she’s being hugged like the world is ending. Kara’s arms are around her tight, squeezing just enough that she feels it, and Kara whispers quietly into her hair.

“You came back for me.”

“Yeah,” Lena chokes, caught somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “Yeah, I did.”

They stay like that for whole minutes, just holding each other, while the wind buffets around them. Kara still smells the same, feels the same even under her bulky jacket, and there are definitely a few tears freezing on her face as she sniffles into her neck.

“Kara?” She whispers finally, her hands flexing in the cold material of Kara’s coat.

“Yeah?”

“My face is frozen.”

Kara jolts, springing out of the embrace like it’s an emergency situation.

“Oh, shoot! Sorry, hold on –“

Kara moves away, and as much as it was necessary, Lena misses the solid pressure of her arms immediately. It’s like, having gone without it for so long, she’s soaking up the deficiency, and the further away Kara gets the more it feels like she’s a plant sitting in the dark. But the blonde fumbles in her pocket for a moment, before producing her keys and hauling open the passenger door of her nearby truck.

Lena climbs in gratefully, and a few seconds later Kara is in the driver’s seat and sweet, blissful, heated air is coming out of the vents. She holds her hands there, letting them defrost, all the while terribly aware of the fact that Kara is staring at her from across the bench seat.

“I still can’t believe you’re really here,” Kara says quietly, as if speaking too loudly will make Lena disappear in a puff of smoke. There’s still the full space of the middle seat between them, and neither of them makes a move quite yet to close the distance.

“I can hardly believe it, either,” Lena says, rubbing her hands together in lieu of meeting Kara’s eyes.

“I thought a lot about you coming back. I…dreamed about it,” Kara says, her voice breaking on the last few words. “It just doesn’t seem real.”

Lena’s heart breaks. Kara is so unsure, so timid, so deeply unlike herself, and it’s her fault. Suddenly the distance seems like too much again – she needs to touch Kara, to feel the solid realness of her. So she moves across the seat, bit by bit, until Kara shifts back and Lena is climbing into her lap, needing to be closer, closer. She presses herself down, lets Kara pull her in until they’re chest to chest, Lena’s face only a tiny bit above despite the height boost from Kara’s thighs.

“I’m here,” Lena whispers, cupping Kara’s still-red face. “I’m here.”

She says it to Kara’s face, eyes locked, says it into her mouth as Kara pulls her in for the searing kiss she’s been thinking about since the day she left. It’s much like their first – hard, messy, frantic – but tinged with a deep emotion she wouldn’t previously let herself feel. She murmurs it into Kara’s hair as four hands fumble with the button of her slacks, whines it into a broad shoulder as three cold, incredible fingers slip inside her. I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.

And I’m not leaving again.

Lena hears a seam rip somewhere between her legs, but she could care less. Kara is inside her again, is encouraging her to undo her coat and lift her shirt so that she can pepper hot kisses across her chest, and she’s half-topless in the cab of a truck in the middle of winter and it doesn’t matter. None of it matters – nothing besides the sweet curl of Kara’s fingers bringing her closer to the edge, the heat of her tongue, the reverence of her voice as she whispers stay with me.

Lena comes with a sob, clinging to Kara’s frame, sharing her breath, and in the stillness that follows she knows. There will be no more leaving, no more fear of her own feelings or of abandoning the familiar. No more of being a slave to her obligations. As long as Kara will have her, Kara is home.

“Lena…” Kara says quietly in the still moments after, so quietly that she almost doesn’t hear it over the sound of the heating vents or her own still-thundering heartbeat. “I –“

Her voice gives out before she can finish, and her eyes well up with unshed tears so quickly that she buries her face in Lena’s shoulder to hide them. Lena just strokes her hair, spreads a firm and comforting hand over the back of her neck as she feels the hot tears hitting her skin.

“I love you, Kara,” She says. Not in a whisper, not like a secret – she says it clearly, with feeling. So clearly that Kara can’t possibly be mistaken of its authenticity.

Kara stiffens beneath her in response, and Lena plows onwards through the rest of her thoughts before she can convince herself not to.

“I never sold the house here, you know. I never wanted to leave, and I guess…I never really let go of this place.” She takes a deep breath. “I never let go of you.”

Kara finally pulls her face free of Lena’s shoulder, and her eyes are puffy and red and achingly hopeful as she sniffles quietly.

“What does that mean?”

“I’m leaving L-Corp.”

It’s a decision she’d made before she even left the city. As she was packing her necessities and signing off on Sam and Jack taking over while she’s gone again, she had the underlying suspicion that solidified the minute she entered the town limits again, made stone by seeing Kara again.

“…what?” Kara asks, looking like she’s hardly daring to hope.

“Jack and Sam ran it just as well as I could in my absence,” Lena admits, pressing their foreheads together. “Probably better, honestly. And they actually want to run it, rather than feeling forced to because of a horrible family legacy. You were right.”

“Lena –“ Kara chokes, but Lena soldiers on.

“And, I was happier here than I’ve ever been in my life. At least, that I can remember. I don’t think I knew what genuine happiness was until I met you, Kara.”

She punctuates the truth with a deep kiss, one that Kara returns with verve, and by the time they pull apart again they’re both breathless.

“So, you’re actually staying?” Kara asks, her eyes wide and hopeful, and Lena nods.

“As long as you want me to.”

Kara laughs wetly, wiping at her face and looking somewhat shell-shocked. “Well, gosh, Lena. Ten minutes ago I was sitting in that treehouse and thinking that I’d never see you again, and now –“

“It’s okay if you’re not totally sure. I know I sprung this on you, I just…”

“Lena,” Kara interrupts her, halting her speech in its tracks. “The day you left, I almost went after you. The only reason I didn’t was because…well, you asked me not to. At the very beginning. So you, coming back here and saying you want to be here, you want to stay – if this isn’t a dream, I want that more than anything.”

Relief floods Lena’s veins, a relief so strong that it feels like an adrenaline rush. Her heart pounds away, revealing everything, and all she can do is pull Kara even closer and let all the stress of the last 3 months leave her body in a wave.

“One thing, though,” Kara says after a few moments of contented quiet, and Lena presses their foreheads together tightly.

“Anything,” Lena breathes. “Anything you want.”

“Could I…have my hand back? It’s starting to go numb.”

With a start, Lena realizes that Kara’s hand is, in fact, still buried inside her. Kara’s fingers wiggle slightly, prompting a bolt of desire down Lena’s spine, and she scrambles off Kara’s lap and onto the seat as Kara flexes the feeling back into her fingers.

Shit, I’m sorry, I forgot –“ She apologizes, but Kara waves it off with a mischievous smile.

“It was worth it, Lena. Besides, I figured you’d just want me to…cowboy up.”

“God, shut up –“ Lena groans, and with a delirious laugh she lays across the seat and pulls Kara on top of her, making short work of fogging the windows completely.

It’s all surprisingly simple, in the end.

Jack and Sam happily take over L-Corp for good, cashing in their shares in the company to lead as CEO and COO respectively. Lena stays on in an advisory capacity, at least – they call her every few weeks, or when some crisis pops up that her connections can solve – but for the most part, she gets back to her original love, and builds a proper research lab in the basement of the house she never sold. And independent contracting suits her – her friends visit bi-annually ostensibly to talk business, but really it ends up being a twice-yearly excuse to sunbathe and drink on her private dock.

And of course, Kara is with her every step of the way. In fact, Kara helps her with the first project she starts on after her return – the ultra-safe prototype vehicles she never got to finish. With Kara’s skills they come together even better than she could have imagined, and they get released in the spring as the new line of L-Cars: Zorel model.

The money made from that line she puts into the town infrastructure, and within the year the grants that the township has given to start new businesses and projects has filled all the empty shops on main street – one of those empty spaces goes to the re-vamped town newspaper, with Kara at the helm. Kara goes down to part-time at the shop, spending the rest of her hours at the paper.

And, in their free time, they rebuild the treehouse better (and safer) than ever.

 

 

 

Four years later

 

 

 

“Babe?” Kara’s voice rings out through the house, audible through the screen door Lena is sitting in front of. “You home?” The clatter of her boots hitting the shoe mat is familiar now – Kara moved in with her 6 months after she came back to Midvale, when it was made pretty clear that she never went back to her house with Alex anyways, and even after all this time it still makes Lena smile.

“On the deck,” Lena calls back, settling more comfortably into the Adirondack swing Kara installed last summer and looking out at the lake. She pulls the blanket tighter around her legs, warding off the autumn chill that she’s sure Kara will banish with a warm hug once she emerges. She can hear footsteps thundering up the stairs, and she takes a sip of her tea while she waits for Kara to change out of her shop clothes.

When Kara emerges onto the deck in her socks, with joggers and a warm sweater replacing her coveralls, the sight of her still lights a warm glow in her chest, even after all this time.

“Hey,” Kara says with a grin, sitting down and tugging on the blanket until it covers both of them. “Missed you today.”

“I missed you too,” Lena says honestly, accepting Kara’s kiss and hooking a hand around the back of her neck when she tries to pull away. Kara grins into it, giving Lena the deeper kiss she’s silently requesting, and for a few minutes the porch is quiet.

“How was work?” Lena asks when their lips finally part, and Kara smiles, settling in comfortably with Lena’s legs over her lap.

“It was great! Nia is really getting the hang of being second-in-command, and she’s making sure that the paper doesn’t interfere with her other business. And, the afternoon shift at the shop is always quiet.” Kara snags the mug of tea from Lena’s hands, taking a sip and humming happily. “How was your day?”

Lena sits a little straighter, still flush with happiness over her breakthrough in the lab this morning. “Actually, I finally figured out the mass water purifier I’ve been working on.”

“No kidding!” Kara exclaims, squeezing Lena’s hands in excitement. “That’s awesome! Did you call Sam?”

“I did. She and Jack are going to try to come down to look at it next month.”

Kara snorts, rubbing her calloused hands over Lena’s legs under her sweatpants. “You mean, they’re going to come down and drink all my beer.”

“More or less,” Lena admits, and Kara laughs. The sound of it is like a balm, soothing and comforting in one.

“Speaking of,” Kara says, tapping her forehead like she’s just remembered something, “We should have people over this weekend. Brainy reminded me that it’s been a while since we had dinner together.”

“That sounds nice,” Lena nods, taking her pilfered tea mug back. “Game night?”

“Sounds perfect. Only if you’re with me, though. J’onn keeps trying to switch up the teams.”

Lena smiles, cupping Kara’s cheek and wiping away a still ever-present black smudge from Kara’s shop shift with her thumb.

“Always.”

A single loon calls out over the lake just past the dock, echoing across the still water. Lena used to think it was lonesome sound – deep and melancholy, always reminding her of her own solitude. But it doesn’t strike the lonely chord in Lena’s heart that it used to. She snuggles closer to Kara’s warmth, sighing happily as the blonde puts a comforting arm around her shoulders and nudges the deck with her toe, making the bench swing gently.

Here in Midvale, with Kara, she’s never going to be lonely again.