It’s not Lena Luthor’s least favorite time of the year (that would be her mother’s birthday), but it’s close. It’s February, so all of the banner advertisements on her computer, on every street corner, and even posters hanging inside of passing shop fronts have taken on a certain vomitously pink-tinged red.
Valentine’s Day looms.
And she’s single.
It’s been several months since her last floundering date, and Lena hasn’t felt the slightest inkling to try again. She’s about three cats and a knitting hobby from giving it up entirely.
“Come on, Lena,” Kara implores over lunch. They’re eating wings, and Kara’s got so much food on her face, it’s obscene. Obscenely adorable. She looks like a lion that’s just decimated a plains buffalo, but Lena doesn’t have the heart to tell her.
“We should do something fun.”
“Fun?” this piques Lena’s interest.
Fun would be going on an actual date date with Kara. Fun would be wiping that hot sauce off her lip with the pad of her thumb and sucking it into her own mouth.
“Yeah!” Kara jumps excitedly from the seat of Lena’s white leather couch. Sauce drips precariously from her fingers, and Lena watches it with the intensity of a police trained German Shepard.
“There’s this event at Noonan’s called Galentine’s. It’s for women to meet other women.”
“Oh,” Lena answers, working to suppress the disappointment. She picks ruefully at her wings with a fork.
“We could do it together,” Kara offers with an ever present, rosy cheeked optimism.
Lena looks up.
“You… would be interested in that?” she asks, choosing her words carefully. “A women's event?”
“Gender didn’t really matter on Krypton,” she answers with her mouth full of masticated chicken. She chisels the meat off of another wing with the canine edge of her teeth, and Lena stares at the gruesome animal display, praying it doesn’t awaken anything within her. It’s why she’s altogether late to react.
Gender doesn't really matter on Krypton.
Her eyes go wide. It's the equivalent of a bomb going off in her office. She’s convinced her ears are ringing. She has about eight thousand questions, but she limits them all to one.
“Does it… matter to you?”
“No,” Kara shakes her head, blue eyes bright and Caribbean clear. "Not really."
She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. Lena has the urge to wet wipe her entire body (poor excuse to touch her everywhere? maybe), but instead she judiciously keeps her hand from shaking as she puts down her fork.
Kara Danvers is pansexual. Kara Danvers likes people, meaning Kara Danvers likes women.
“Please,” Kara begs, elongated and oblivious, and it's possible she's misinterpreted Lena's locked down behavior as a prelude to refusal rather than the extreme self-control that it is. In actuality, Lena's attempting to tamp down the Pandora's box of every lesbian fantasy she's ever had about Kara and stop them all from escaping through her very pores like a rainbow airborne virus.
“You’re always holed up in your office,” Kara continues, undeterred by her silence and racing heartbeat. “I read some stat that you’re most likely to meet someone through work.”
Lena glances back up, stifling a secret hope. Did Kara mean that as an insinuation? For them?
“So, if you don’t get out of L-Corp, you might end up marrying an intern.”
Lena scoffs and nearly snorts half a fried pickle. She thinks of Jake, their floor intern. He’s freckled, lanky, and paler than she is. He’s a recent MIT grad, and he pronounces her name Luth-or.
“Okay, fine," she holds up a hand of surrender. She invariably gives Kara whatever she wants.
“But there better be alcohol.”
“You didn’t say this was a speed dating event, Kara,” Lena reproves as they stand just inside the entrance of Noonan’s, faced with an intimidating circular table and about twenty empty chairs. There’s paper hearts hanging from the ceiling.
Lena thinks she might be ill.
“I didn’t?” Kara fumbles with a charming smile.
She knows exactly what she’s doing, Lena thinks. Lena narrows her eyes in suspicion, but it appears to have no affect on her stunningly gorgeous blonde friend. Kara squeezes her arm playfully in return and whispers, lips close to Lena’s ear,
“I’ll get us drinks.”
Yes. She knows exactly what she’s doing.
While Kara stands at the bar, Lena (as well as a parade of other waiting and likely sapphic patrons) tries not to stare too openly at her ass. The event coordinator interrupts this failed attempt and hands Lena two name badges and a red sharpie.
“Have fun with it!” she tells Lena chirpily.
Lena stares down at the ‘Hi my name is’ sticker.
Resigning herself to this tragedy, she loops her name in her half cursive, half print handwriting, and Kara reappears with a whiskey neat and some sort of strawberry concoction. She hands Lena the adult’s beverage.
“Really?” Lena eyeballs the red drink in Kara’s hand.
“It’s a Valentine’s special,” Kara answers by way of explanation before dipping her tongue into the drink to fish for the floating strawberry. Lena’s forced to feign interest in a golf match on one of the hanging TV’s lest she spontaneously burst into flame.
“Do you watch golf, Lena?” Kara asks curiously, swallowing the strawberry. It’s still too dangerous to look directly at her, though, like gazing into the sun or a bright burning stick of magnesium.
“No,” she answers before she can stop herself.
When Lena does glance back, Kara’s face is contorted in confusion. Thankfully, Lena’s saved by the same bubbly event coordinator.
“Welcome, everyone! If your badge has a red dot, you’ll be part of the rotating chairs in the center. If you have a blue dot, you’ll be on the outside and stay seated.”
Lena glances quickly at Kara’s sticker stuck lopsided to her cute grey blazer. It’s red. Lena’s is blue.
“Red and blue, aw, cute,” Kara winks at Lena, and Lena sort of staggers in a daze to an open outside seat, trying not to imagine them married. It's too early in the day for that.
“Remember to fill out your placard afterward,” the coordinator reminds them. “You’ll have one minute to assign a score and turn it in. Don’t overthink it and have a good time!”
Lena’s never been less enthused, but Kara catches her eye from a chair from the inner side of the round table.
“Good luck,” she mouths with a wholesome smile.
Round 1 Alicia.
Lena’s first speed date starts off innocuously enough. They exchange names and shake hands. Alicia tells her that she’s originally from Ecuador.
“Oh, wow,” Lena responds, hoping she sounds like a normal person and not a sad woman whose every misbegotten decision has led her to this desperate moment, dragged to a lesbian speed dating event by her recently outed not-straight best friend (who she’s in love with.)
“I came here when I was 9.”
“Oh?” Lena asks curiously. She takes a sip of her whiskey. “What was it like? What were the biggest culture shocks?”
“The country was war torn at the time. That was the biggest difference. We saw a lot of bodies by the roadside.”
Lena stops sipping her drink.
“Bodies? Dead bodies?”
“Yes,” Alicia answers, seemingly unbothered. “It was pretty gruesome. Machetes were popular, too, so sometimes it was just parts.”
“Parts,” Lena repeats.
“Yes. I’ve noticed, I’m very aroused by the color red now. It excites me. Is that strange?”
Lena is completely lost on how to reply.
“Do you know what I mean?”
Score: a terrified 5
Round 2 Gwen.
When the next woman sits down, her eyes are wide open and unblinking. Her mouth is parted. She’d be cute, although a little young looking for Lena’s tastes, if not for the intense, fixated concentration of her pupils.
“Wow, you’re really pretty,” she says without any introduction, her voice breathless.
It’s such an earnest admission, Lena can’t help but blush and cover her mouth with a hand.
But before even introducing herself, ‘Gwen’ leans forward.
“You want to get out of here?”
“Now?” Lena hesitates.
“Yeah, I’ve got pot in the car.”
Lena gapes, and Gwen must mistake it for some other type of emotion.
“Or coke? Maybe? You look like more of an upscale girl.”
She’s not sure what shocks her more; the offer to commit a shared federal offense or being referred to as a ‘girl.’ It’s been awhile.
“Is coke,” Lena starts tentatively, “considered more ‘upscale?’”
“It can be,” Gwen licks her lips. “I’d like to see what’s under that fur coat.”
Score: 4, points for honestly
Round 3 Beth.
After several minutes of declining multiple sexual propositions, the timer rings. It’s a relief. They move into round three, and this newest woman looks absolutely miserable.
“Hi, I’m Beth,” she says in a resigned tone.
“Hi Beth, Lena,” Lena motions to herself.
“Look my husband forced me to come here,” Beth blurts out. “He wants to see if I can talk anyone into a threesome.”
“Oh,” Lena cringes. God, another one?
“I’m sorry, I’m not—”
“Yeah, I know. It’s ridiculous,” Beth stops her with a wave of her hand. “I don’t want to do it, but I’m trying to give it a shot for him, you know? Make it look like I’m actually trying? See, he’s watching right over there.”
She points over at the glass, and Lena sees a man standing out on the street, hands in his pockets, looking hopeful.
Lena takes another drink of her whiskey. It burns.
“Leave him,” she says simply.
“I’ll drink to that,” the woman lifts her drink, and they clink glasses. Lena has shots sent over from the bar.
She rather enjoys that date.
Round 4 Ginny
“So, when’s your birthday?” ‘Ginny’ asks not four seconds after sitting down.
It’s an unusual opener, to be sure, but Lena has a feeling she knows where it’s leading. There’s something all too astrologically clinical and assessing to her tone.
Yep, Lena thinks.
“I guess so.”
“That’s not good.”
“And your rising and moon?” Ginny breezes past her.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, where were you born?”
The woman puffs her cheeks out, sighing.
Lena’s almost offended.
“Maybe around noon?”
The woman doesn’t say another word for the remainder of their session.
Round 5 Heather
Heather is a welcome respite. Lena opens her mouth to introduce herself, but Heather doesn’t look up once from her phone, rapid fire typing to god knows who. Lena takes a few breaths, playing with the remaining melted ice cubes in her drink and enjoys the breather for what it is.
Score: 5, points for comfortable silence
Round 6 Taylor
The next woman looks cute and athletic. Certainly younger than Lena. They have a fairly typical introduction, arguably more socially intelligent than the last few, until they hit somewhat of a snag.
“Have you been to any of the museums around here?” Lena asks conversationally.
“No, I’m not really into culture.”
“What do you mean?” Lena asks, confused. “Not into culture?”
“I don’t like books. I don’t like movies. I don’t really watch TV. I also don’t like to go out.”
Lena pauses, fingering the rim of her drink.
“You don’t go out at all?”
“No, not really.”
“I see,” Lena considers. “What do you do when you visit a new city, then?”
“Mainly, I go on hikes,” Taylor says with a shrug. “Play sand volleyball, that kind of thing.”
“Huh,” Lena replies noncommittally. Her skin hasn’t seen the sun in a decade, hiking or otherwise.
Their conversation continues benignly enough, never finding much of a common ground. Lena can’t imagine what they’d ever have to talk about, but Taylor is nice. And easy to look at, so Lena gives her a fair score.
Round 7 Jen.
“Are you a top or a bottom?”
There’s an extended awkward beat of silence. Jen maintains unwavering eye contact with Lena.
“I’m not sure what you—”
“Because if you’re also a bottom, it’s not going to work between us.”
Lena takes a long inhale before answering decidedly.
“It’s not going to work between us.”
Score: 1, two bottoms
Round 8 Eve.
“That’s kind of a lot to wear on a first date,” the next woman comments, and Lena looks down at her outfit.
She wore it to work today. It’s a burgundy coat over a floral print, v-neck dress. The coat has a fur collar, so sure, maybe it’s a little over the top, but she’s a CEO. She’s supposed to look the part. Men are always intimidated when she’s wearing a fur coat. Plus, it’s cold. It’s February.
She looks back up, nonplussed.
“I honestly didn’t know this would be a speed dating event,” she tries to justify. The answering skepticism on the woman’s face is not promising.
“Where do you even find a coat like that?” she questions.
“I’m not sure,” Lena wavers. “My assistant does the shopping.”
“Can I look at the tag?”
“You want to look at the tag of my coat?”
“No,” Lena sips her whiskey.
Score: 3, points for a healthy skepticism of the world
Round 9 Victoria
Round 9 is none other than her ex Veronica Sinclair.
“Oh fuck, another!” Lena waves her empty glass at the bartender. He nods at her, but there’s no way it’ll come fast enough.
Not unlike her sex life with Veronica.
“Darling, what are you doing here?” Veronica simpers, and Lena’s annoyed to see she’s wearing a fur coat, too.
“Is this a prank?” Lena asks.
“No,” Veronica purrs, leaning forward across the table, and Lena leans away in perfect tandem. “We’re not in boarding school any more.”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
Lena endures the endless purgatory waiting for her next drink.
“It’s a small world, you’ll find,” Veronica smirks, enjoying Lena’s discomfort while she bores holes into the back of the bartender’s head.
“So, who’s your blonde lap dog?”
Lena’s eyes snap back to her ex. The bait is inches from successful, Lena almost fully bites her head off.
“She’s not a lap dog,” she settles for in a near growl instead. “She’s a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.”
“Oh, we are possessive,” Veronica comments, sipping her martini. Of course. “Trading favors for positive press?”
Lena’s not stupid enough to volunteer more information.
“I must say, in our albeit short time together,” Veronica winks, and Lena wants to strangle her. “I didn’t get the sense she was… ‘one of us,’ shall we say?”
“Vapid?” Lena mock suggests. “Spoiled? Overdressed?”
“So, Lena, is it?” Veronica ignores her, pretending they haven’t met. She glances down to Lena’s name tag. Lena has a desire to rip it off her body and burn it.
“Why are you single? Still going after straight girls?”
Round 10 Ryan.
As if Veronica wasn’t enough taxation for one evening, her next date has the audacity to repeatedly challenge her sexuality.
“You’re not gay.”
“So, you’ve actually gone down on a woman?”
Lena grinds her teeth.
“Not that it’s any of your business.”
“See, I knew you weren’t gay.”
Round 11 Krista.
Round 11’s Krista is entirely wasted. Her mascara is smudged. Her hair is wild. She’s wobbling perilously in and out of her chair.
“Hiiiii,” she drawls in a voice high enough for dogs to hear.
“So, what’s your story?” she leans forward, and Lena can smell the tequila. “What do you do?”
“I work in tech,” Lena answers simply. “And yourself?”
“Oh, me tooooo,” Krista sways. “I work at Lord Technologies, the front desk on the fifth floor. Is that what you do?”
“Something like that,” Lena takes a healthy drink.
“Oooohhh,” Krista says with a dramatic eye roll. “I hope you don’t work for that bitch, Luthor. I’ve heard she’s a pill.”
Lena closes her eyes and prays for the patience, the strength to continue this conversation. When she opens them again, Krista is looking at her as if for the first time.
“Oh my god,” she exclaims, bold faced and staring. “Are you her?”
Lena feels her entire face pinch. She nods, swallowing her whole drink despite the fact that it’s freshly delivered. Maybe if she can get on Krista’s level, this will become magically bearable.
“But you’re soooooo pretty in person,” Krista’s entire expression changes, and she’s smiling lopsided and unfocused.
“And you’re like, way famous.”
Lena lifts an eyebrow while Krista digs her phone out of her pocket with a lack of coordination that should have her cut off.
“Can we… take a selfie?”
Lena considers her for a long time, and maybe it’s because she’s had enough alcohol at this point to take down a horse, at least a small Shetland or even one of those furry Icelandic ones, so she says,
As they’re taking the photo, Lena sees Jen and Gwen leave with a tinkling bell through the front door, no doubt headed to the promised oasis of sex and drugs in Gwen’s car. Jen and Gwen, that does have a nice couples ring to it.
Good for her.
“We’re friends,” Krista whispers, slurring and far too close to Lena’s face. “Best friends.”
Score: 4, points for belated flattery
Round 12 Kara.
“Alright, timer started!”
“Kara, I’m dying,” Lena tells her dramatically, although just seeing her best friend is an immediate and palpable relief. It’s cool water in the desert.
The tension she’s been holding in her shoulders sags. The way her jaw had become locked loosens. Unconsciously, her hands are now on the table, too, reaching for Kara like she’s some sort of life raft. Later, Lena will blame the four to ten drinks she’s had, but for now she’s unselfconscious, and Kara takes her hands, intertwining her fingers with warmth.
“How’s it going?” she asks, and it’s such an innocent check-in, the very same way she phrases the question when she surprises Lena with lunch and can see the crinkle between her eyes. She can always tell when Lena’s become too hungry and over caffeinated.
She glances at the countdown clock. Unlike everyone else, the seconds are falling away far too fast. Time really is relative, Lena thinks, and if only Einstein could see her at this lesbian speed dating event, he’d be proud of her Physics-related self-reflection.
“Do you want to tell me a little about yourself?” Kara smiles encouragingly.
Lena drops her head and sighs.
“I’m a CEO. I’m from Metropolis, but I was born in Ireland. I have three degrees and a masters from MIT—oh god, I sound like a robot, like I’m at a job interview.”
While Lena mentally flagellates herself, Kara squeezes her hands. It pumps blood back to her brain and heart.
“Go again, Lena, you’re doing fine.”
“Okay, okay,” she sighs, staring at the ceiling. “I’m the CEO of a hated company. The first invention I ever showed you was xenophobic. I’m a hopelessly single, sad lesbian that works too much, and I love kale.”
Kara’s face twists in a faux grimace.
“Oh no, Lena, kale? That could be a deal breaker.”
“That’s okay, Kara, at this point I wouldn’t even date me.”
Kara squeezes again.
“I’m just kidding, I’d date you,” she says without a shred of irony.
Lena peeks up into Kara’s eyes. They’re aquamarine and boundless in the dim light of Noonan’s. It’s a moment (not unlike the glaring stand-off she had with Veronica) that’s suspended in eternity. Kara’s scooted forward, stretching the very limit of how close she can be, and their knees are touching under the table.
“Do you want to get out of here?” Lena says, partially joking, partially dead serious. “I’ve got pot and coke in my car.”
Kara laughs, and it’s bright and beautiful. Lena’s cheeky comment might’ve derailed the more serious nature of what Kara had admitted, but it’s also a relief. An exhale after a deep inhale.
“You got that offer, too?” Kara ducks her head, blushing furiously, and Lena nods.
“Were you tempted?” she teases.
Kara blushes even hotter.
“Well, it’s too late,” Lena battles her internal jealousy. “She already found true love with Jen.”
“No,” Kara gasps. “Really? Now I definitely don’t feel special.”
“I’m sorry, darling,” Lena squeezes her hands back.
“No, I’m sorry,” Kara emphasizes, a guilty quirk to her lips. “This is a mess, huh? One woman yelled at me and said all Libras were liars.”
Lena laughs loudly.
“Well, you did lie to me about the nature of this event.”
“I just wanted to spend time with you,” Kara smiles, eyes crinkled at the corner. “Promise, scout’s honor.”
Before Lena can fully process and overanalyze that statement (and the previous one) to death, however, the timer buzzes.
“I didn’t get to learn anything about you,” she shakes Kara’s hand, a sad conclusion to their date.
“I guess we’ll just have to have a follow-up,” Kara suggests, the warmth of her palm sliding up Lena’s arm like scented oil.
“Hellooooooooooooooo National City!” a high pitched voice yells into a microphone from behind them.
“Oh God, Krista’s found the karaoke machine.”
Later, Lena gets an email from the speed dating service. She’s still a little spinny drunk and sprawled out over Kara on her couch. 13 going on 30 plays quietly in the background (an obvious Kara choice), and the perky soundtrack is currently being augmented by Kara’s cute little snores.
Lena unlocks her phone. Her eyes are still blurry, but she can just make out the text on her too bright screen.
You had a perfect match!
Kara Danvers, 31, National City
You both reported 10’s on your score cards.
Do you need help setting up a follow-up date? For $34.99, we can set up the perfect getaway—
Lena doesn’t read the rest. She drops her phone onto the blanket and covers them both, snuggling closer into the vanilla balm comforting scent of Kara’s neck. She’s already found the perfect getaway.