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if you have love, even plain cold water is sweet

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lena only ends up in a sorority because ΑΟΠ likes andrea enough to take them both as a package deal. but it works out well enough—the organization gets to boast about having a Luthor on their Wikipedia, and lena gets to watch andrea shotgun beers in designer dresses every Saturday night. it's basically a win-win.

her third year starts out the same as her second year did.

she wears a mesh crop-top with a black duster to their unoriginally beach-themed orientation week party. then she finds a nice seat on the kitchen counter before the house gets too crowded, mixing scotch with vermouth because she wouldn't be caught dead drinking jungle juice even if it is her house's secret concoction. besides, scotch always hits the spot, gets her drunk fast and makes her feel giddy and warm. so she's humming and fuzzy and swaying in no time, smiling at every boy that looks her way, shaking her head and her hair, mouthing not my type, and not feeling the least bit bad about it.

she's on her fourth drink, maybe fifth, when andrea stumbles in and slides between her legs against the counter. "hi," andrea says, bright eyes and flushed cheeks, pink lips. "please tell me you're playing hard-to-get and you're not just oblivious."

"what do you mean?" lena asks, smiling because she's always happy when she sees andrea.

"i'm talking about the tall blonde that's been staring at you for twenty minutes across the room. oh my god, lena. you promised this year you'd at least try to hook up, c'mon."

"what?" lena frowns, looking up—across the kitchen, across the adjoining frosh-packed living room—and, oh. there is a woman. she's easy enough to spot, even with everything going on, even through lena's drunken haze, because she is tall and she is blonde, and she is very beautiful, but she's also like, thirty-six. "is it just me, or does she look too old to be here?"

"who cares?" andrea asks, grabbing lena's drink. "she's probably just an alumna or something. she's hot, though."

"yeah, if you're into that sort of thing," lena shrugs. truthfully, she doesn't know what she's into, herself, but this woman seems out of her league, even if she is making unusual levels of eye contact.

"you never know, she could be your christian grey," andrea says, like that's supposed to be appealing.

lena snorts. "just what i need—my gateway to unhealthy relationship dynamics."

"jesus." andrea rolls her eyes. lena can tell she's about to lose this one, so she sits up straighter and fixes her shirt. "just go flirt a little bit, please? practice for when it really matters. i'll wait a few minutes, then come give you an out."

"fine," lena huffs. "promise?"

"of course, babe. i'd never leave you hanging," andrea promises, so lena hops off the counter.

the kitchen is cool and over-lit compared to the rest of the party, and smells less like sweat and people trying to hook up than the living room does, but lena slowly pushes out of her oasis, weaving through the crowd and smiling at friends, stumbling a time or two before she makes it to the woman. she walks up about as confidently as she can muster. then, she doesn't really know what to say, so she just says, "hi."

it hits her only now that she's a little past too drunk, and a little wobbly, and probably embarrassingly flushed. "i thought you'd never notice me," the woman smiles. "was starting to lose hope."

"wouldn't have if my friend didn't point you out," lena admits. "i'm lena, by the way."

"kara," the woman says, holding out her hand. lena takes it. it's soft and warm and big, and kara pulls her in so suddenly they're crowded close together, enough to make lena's heart flutter. which, for some reason, makes her giggle. "you're adorable, aren't you?"

"mmm," lena hums. she likes the smell of kara, something gritty about it. it's not really clean, but it's also not boys after football practice; it's like unshowered but sophisticated. lena really likes her up close in general. she's wearing tight, dark jeans and an old t-shirt, and there's a glint in her eyes so sharp it almost seems dangerous. "depends on the day, i s'pose," lena finally slurs, smiling too wide.

kara grins at that. "i'll count myself lucky i caught you today, then."

lena's cheeks heat up like asphalt in august. she doesn't know if she wants to be adorable in front of kara, but whatever makes her voice drop the way it just did works for lena. "you're smooth."

"am i?"

"you know you are."

kara laughs. it's pretty, the way her lips part, how bright her eyes shine. she gets this little twinkle in them, too, like she's actually quite fond of lena, and it hits lena hard in her chest. no one's ever really looked at her that way before. "i'm just being honest," kara says. "we don't have to pretend you don't already know you're cute."

"whatever," lena says, but it's not whatever. her head's swirling and her body's having too many different reactions to kara's existence for her to think straight. "so, you like, used to go here?"

"yeah," kara nods. "i used to spend so much time in this house. it's weird being back, smaller."

"maybe you're just bigger," lena says, and kara chuckles. it's not even funny, she's not even funny, but she's making kara laugh and it feels nice, like she's getting addicted to it. "i live here."

"you do?" kara asks, playfully surprised, and lena's giggling again.

"don't be a turd," she says.

"no, m'actually shocked," kara lies. "you're not the usual sorority girl."

"don't worry, m'wearing pink underwear," lena informs her, which comes out way flirtier than she knew she was capable of being. kara actually blushes, though, red smearing across her cheeks. it makes lena more confident than she probably should be, enough to push her luck with her humor. see if she can make kara really laugh. "but yeah, it is a little weird, right? i think the sisters thought taking in a semi-goth weirdo somehow filled their diversity quota, but i won't tell them i'm still a cis rich white woman if you don't."

this time kara's laugh is loud, even over the thump of the music. god, it fucking worked. lena's head is buzzing, she's high, she's on the moon. she feels like her blood is rushing straight to her ears and her face, curling in her belly thick and smooth because kara's like something she dreamed up, not real. there's also the fact that kara's eyes haven't left lena this entire time, like there's nothing else in the room that matters, and lena has no idea what to do with that. "don't worry, my lips are sealed," kara says.

lena grips her hand tighter, watching kara broaden her shoulders. she wants to throw her arms around those shoulders, wants to touch kara everywhere, wants to touch kara every way, ruffle her fluffy hair, kiss her lips, scratch her nails along her arms. she's just about to make an excuse to do just that, to fake stumble and bury her face against kara's chest, when someone grabs her from behind.

"hey babe," andrea hums into her ear. "we doing alright?"

fuck, right, her saving grace she no longer needs or wants. lena flips around and presses her face against andrea's neck. "god, she's fucking hot," she says for only andrea to hear. "i think m'good."

"hell yeah, you are," andrea encourages, swats her hip, pulling away. "i'll come find you later, then?"

"yeah, cool," lena says, then watches andrea disappear into the party. when she turns back around, kara fixes her with a knowing grin. "what? what are you smiling at?"

"that was your out, wasn't it?"

lena shrugs. "i'm still here, aren't i?" she looks down and kara holds out her hand again, instantly, like she knows lena wants it. lena takes it without hesitating. "so um, want to go somewhere quieter, so we can talk?"

it comes out too soft, probably, mumbled, and she feels nervous right after she says it. she's like, not great at flirting or escalating or has ever managed to get this far, but somehow everything she's doing is just. working. with kara. 

"i do if you do," kara says, which feels like a good answer. she's totally not a predator. lena's safe. she's absolutely not skewing that just because kara's hotter than the fucking sun. "lead the way?"

"okay," lena says.

so, she leads the way.

she's doing a good job of that, too, until she isn't. until she gets them half-way up the stairs, tries to walk and smile at the same time and ends up tripping on the step up. she's about to tumble to her death or something, when kara is there, quick and precise, arm around lena's waist, one hand steady on her shoulder. lena falls forward and giggles against her neck. "my hero."

"it's what i'm here for," kara says, which lena also thinks is funny. everything is funny. she's drunk, she thinks, and suddenly her feet aren't on the floor. "i'll carry us there, it's alright."

kara slings lena over her back then, which is incredible, sexy, so fucking sexy. lena looks up so she can maybe say that, or stop the blood from rushing to her head, but all she sees is one of her sisters giving her a thumbs up at the bottom of the stairs, then she blinks for a long time, and suddenly she's being put on the floor again. everything feels sudden, like the fact that they're in her room now, and the door is closed, and andrea totally didn't clean her side, so the entire floor is littered with... everything.

more importantly, though, kara's really close. she's looking at lena, holding her waist. it feels like they're about to kiss. lena doesn't know how she pulled this off, but she's totally winning the hook-up of the year award. "um," she hums. "so m'a bit new to this."

"it's okay, the first time is always a little weird," kara says. "i'll walk you through it, though."

lena smiles. she totally judged this right. "cool," she says, and then kara sticks her hand through her belly.

wait.

lena blinks to adjust her vision, looking down at herself, and okay. fuck. she didn't just imagine that: kara's arm is sticking from her belly, hand disappeared. what the fuck. "what the fuck," lena mumbles, then there's a prick of cold, a lot of static, kara stepping forward, and a blink later she's completely gone.

as in, lena's alone now. in her room. still drunk, but more sober than she was a second ago.

You're not more sober, you're still really drunk.

"Hello?" lena asks, spinning around. what the fuck. what the fuck. she can hear kara, but she can't see her. is this what being drugged feels like? was she drugged? oh god, she was drugged. when did it happen? how did it happen? 

You weren't drugged, calm down, i'll explain it later. we need to go.

"where are you?" lena asks the air, the universe. this is definitely drugs. she's been drugged.

you have not been drugged, oh my god. you literally just saw me walk inside of you. i'm in your head. and your body. which i'm going to take control of now. try not to freak out.

"what?" lena asks, and then her hands start moving without her moving them, and she totally freaks out. "holy fuck," she yells. "this isn't normal, this is weird. shit. fuck."

stop freaking out, please. i need you to be calm for just, ten seconds. just give me ten seconds.

she takes a step back, or rather—her body takes a step back. it's not her doing it. it doesn't feel like her doing it. it's a psychotic break. she's having a psychotic break, a negative reaction to the drugs. she saw this in a lifetime movie once.

Again, not drugs .

lena's eyes look at the door, and then her eyes look at the window. they focus on the window. then she's walking towards it. she's opening it. she doesn't want to die, but now she has one leg hanging out and she's definitely on the second floor.

you're not going to die. stop being dramatic. even if i wasn't inside of you, at most you'd like. break an ankle.  

"are drug thoughts usually this sassy, or are mine particularly annoying?"

wow, you know what? uncalled for .

lena's body drops out of the window. she hits the ground and rolls; it doesn't even hurt, jesus christ. a second later, she's on her feet. she's sprinting down the sidewalk at fucking barry allen speed. or just like, really fast. drugs, it's drugs.

it's not drugs oh my goddd , her inner drug voice groans.

"so what, you'd rather me believe my body was hijacked by a ridiculously attractive, way too old to be at a frat party, blonde?"

why did you emphasize blonde? what's wrong with my hair? kara. my name is kara. and your body wasn't hijacked, i'm just borrowing it to keep you safe. which, like i said, is why i'm here.

"keep me safe from what?" lena asks, and then she gets hit by an SUV while crossing the street, and her body smashes into a lamp post.

she'd be more freaked out about it, but this is apparently all a dream, and she didn't feel any of that. she even stands up right afterwards, eyes focusing on the SUV. it looks like it took more damage than she did.

the lamp post is pretty smashed up, too, on the ground. she's definitely not paying for that.

we have to go .

"we should make sure the driver is okay, or something. even though this is a dream, and nothing matters."

not a dream. not drugs. the driver hit you on purpose.

god, this just keeps getting worse, lena thinks. then the driver smashes through the window and lunges at her. like, they jump fifteen feet from the car hood to lena's face, but lena dodges them just in time, miraculously.

"holy crap," she says, dodging another punch, and then another and another, and then she side steps fast and punches the driver in the face hard enough their head flies back. "sorry about that."

don't apologize, she's trying to kill you.

"maybe she's trying to kill you," lena grumbles, then asks, "how do i know i can trust anything you're saying?" and suddenly her body is flying backward and kara's flying out of her, like a fucked-up response to an honest question.

lena hits the ground hard, hands scraping on the concrete, which she definitely fucking feels this time. the burn of it, the crack of her bones, the aches and rush of adrenaline and fear and cold, and. this is not a dream. this is not a dream, and kara's still fighting whoever the fuck that is that tried to kill them with a car. a car. lena needs to get out of here. She stands up fast, but as soon as she takes a step to get away, a knife flies straight into her thigh, which. ugh, of course it does. she fucking hates this. she hits the ground again. this is not a dream. "god. holy fucking shit," she grits out. holy shit. there's blood, actual blood, and pain. enough to sober her up.

"see," kara yells, "she's trying to kill you."

then kara turns and sprints in lena's direction. she collides with lena, a prick of cold again, static again, and then the pain goes away and lena's back on her feet in hand-to-hand combat.

"can you kill her?" lena asks.

maybe, but not right now. we need to get away.

"get us away, then. what are you doing?"

my best, just let me work.

lena snaps the driver's neck, and then she's running again, and then she's on a motorcycle, and then she's in the bathroom of a semi-crowded diner. as soon as she's alone, kara steps out of her body.

"not drugs?" she asks.

kara sighs. "you should eat something." so they sit at a booth and lena gets a large stack of pancakes and kara takes like sixteen minutes to figure out how to say, "i know this may all seem a little weird."

"a little," lena says, chewing slowly. "i think i'd be freaked out more, but i'm in shock, maybe. from jumping out of a window and being hit by a car and stabbed and somehow still being okay."

"that was me."

"no shit," lena says. but it does clarify that whoever that was that tried to kill her, probably isn't dead. even with her neck snapped. "but how? i don't think anything is impossible, but science definitely hasn't made it this far."

"they call us parasites in the future," kara says. "we're pretty strong alone, but we're even stronger when we mix with human dna."

"so, you're like, alien? or genetically engineered."

"alien," kara says, which. great. "most of us are harmless. a few of us are actually here now, in your time, as refugees because our planet was destroyed. we don't find out about mixing with human dna for another ten years. that's when it all goes downhill."

"and humans become expendable." lena drops her fork. "i've seen this movie."

"this one has a happy ending, though," kara says. "in my world, we're winning, those of us fighting off the takeover. there's a lot of us—humans and aliens—that just want to exist together, peacefully."

lena doesn't know how to comprehend all of that, but she's also seen the movies where not believing is how people die. she definitely doesn't want to be that person. "why me? why am i being targeted? i'm not one of you. i didn't even know you existed until today."

kara doesn't say anything for a while. she just looks sad, mostly, then finally she sighs. "we have to go."

"am i good or bad?" lena asks, reaching out to grab her hand. "i need to know."

"you already know. you've always known," kara says, which doesn't help at all, but lena figures she's probably not getting more.

"do we need to bond again?"

kara nods, so they go back in the bathroom—cold, static—and suddenly they're one again. lena's still wearing her mesh top and her duster, and she still looks like the same 19-year-old sorority girl she started the night as, but she knows she's different somehow. she's seen too many things to ever be the same.

so dramatic. it's okay, you're still you. in a few days, just go back to normal. that's all i want. normal for you.

"easier said than done," lena says.

half-an-hour later, they're on the motorcycle on open road, and lena feels too heavy to ask where they're going. just sleep, kara says, don't worry, i got us.

lena would argue, but she still feels like she can trust kara. she should probably stop drinking.

yeah, probably , kara says.

-

lena wakes up to too much light shining through a window: a fat slice of sunshine warm on her cheek, and kara sitting on the bed next to her. wait. fuck. rewind. 

kara.

last night. aliens. she was hit by a fucking car. lena's heart is racing. "please tell me that was all a wild ride and you're apologizing for slipping whatever you did into my scotch."

"i'd never slip anything into your scotch," kara says, just blinking at her. 

"that's not the right answer," lena frowns.

kara reaches over and sinks her hand through the cover on top of lena, through her belly again. "wasn't a dream."

lena groans, then sits up and rubs her eyes hard enough to see spots. when she looks up again, kara's still there, so she's real, probably. lena just now notices they're in the luthor hunting cabin. "how do you know about this place?"

"i'm from the future," kara says.

"right." lena figures it's useless to probe, so the next thing she asks is, "did you watch me sleep?"

"not, like, specifically," kara stutters. "i kept watch, but not to just watch you."

"sure. so how do i know you're actually a good alien, that i can trust you, that she's not the one trying to save me?"

kara shrugs. "what does your gut tell you about me?"

lena frowns. "i'm supposed to just, trust my gut on this? that's your advice?"

kara shrugs again. lena wants to punch her in the shoulder. "i've bet my life on your gut feelings, so. i'd trust your gut."

"kara," lena says, and she tries not to be frustrated. if this is, in fact, time travel, then lena knows kara's probably limited in what she can say. but she's having a hard time... she's just generally having a hard time. "you have to give me something."

kara swallows, grits her teeth, then she says, "your mom's death wasn't your fault."

"oh." lena's breath catches; she's never even told anyone she thought it was. "did you pull that from my head while inside of me?"

"i only have access to the thoughts you're currently thinking, nothing more."

lena picks at the mesh on her leggings. "so i trust you?"

"i know this is all moving fast," kara says, leaning forward, "but she's coming after you, and she's moving fast. we're not allowed to stay in the past too long without degrading, so we're on a timeline." lena wants to believe that. she thinks she does believe that, mostly. but she - she just doesn't know. she doesn't know what to think or where to start or what's what. "look at this," kara tries, after a too-long silence. lena looks up from her hands, watches kara lift her shirt. and right there, on her ribs, is a tattoo that says, if you have love, even plain cold water is sweet. "From Wild Swans."

"My favorite book," Lena whispers. "i trust you."

"enough to send me back to save you."

right. "And you have to stop her as fast as you can, so you can get back to me?"

kara looks broken for just a second. it flashes on her face so quickly, lena nearly thinks she imagined it. "we all just want to protect you, lena. every single one of us that's fighting for what's right."

lena sucks in a deep breath. kara dodging giving a straight answer means lena probably doesn't want to know, but fuck. she wants to know. "what do we have to do, then? to get this over with."

"luthorcorp," kara says. "have you ever heard of something called kryptonite?"

lena shakes her head. "never have."

"well, on my planet we weren't called parasites, we were kryptonians. when our world was destroyed, shards of it went flying into the universe, little pieces of debris that are our only weakness. the best way to kill us. kryptonite."

"and my family is stashing some at luthorcorp?"

"you're not supposed to know that yet," kara says. "but it's there. i'm sure of it. you can get it for us."

lena shakes her head. "i wouldn't know what i was looking for."

"good thing i'll be with you," kara smiles. "lex is keeping it in an off-site location close to here. we eat first, then we go."

"you're really big on eating," lena comments.

"fuel for the tank," kara smiles. "plus, only you ate last night. i'm starving."

-

turns out kara is starving, she eats a bag of frozen tater tots, then beans straight from the can, then inhales a jar or peanut butter as she draws out a layout of the luthorcorp site.

"you've broken into here before, haven't you?" lena asks, leaning over the table to look at the schematic.

"we have, actually," kara smiles.

"why would i have to break into my own—"

"don't ask," kara laughs. "don't want to ruin the fun of you experiencing things for the first time."

lena rolls her eyes, but she's smiling too, now. it's infectious when kara does it. "you sound like you're bad for me."

"in all the best ways."'

lena giggles. "that's stupid."

"They're your words," kara points out.

ugh, lena needs to know. "hey, in the future, are we like—"

"shhh," kara quiets her. "stop ruining the fun for yourself. you only get to experience your life for the first time once."

"maybe not even once, if we fail."

"we won't," kara says. "i'm certain this plan is going to work."

lena quirks a brow. "how so?"

"because if you get me kryptonite in a time-release gas form, i promise i can have her in the right place at the right time."

"so, a bomb?" lena asks.

"essentially," kara says.

lena doesn't ask how kara knows she can get her in the right place. "and then you go back to hanging out with me? but in the future, when i'm older and obviously much cooler."

"you've always been pretty cool," kara shrugs. "but that's the plan."

"that is the plan?" lena checks. "just so we're on the same page."

"yep," kara smiles, then she points at a spot on the schematic. "he's keeping it in here. it's not really guarded yet since he doesn't know what it is, so we shouldn't have too hard of a time getting it."

"it sounds like lex becomes a problem," lena comments, and before kara jumps in she adds, "and save it, because even i can see that one coming. i'm not a complete idiot."

"i know you're not," kara says, "but please wear more than fishnets on your arms this time. it's cold being you."

lena rolls her eyes. she puts on a sweater before they leave, though.

-

they get to the site just fine, even through the door and all the way to the kryptonite, before lena can feel a worry tingling at the back of her head. "what's up?" she asks out loud, alone in the hallway outside the door to the strange object storage room.

i might have to hop out for a bit, while you secure the kryptonite.

"what for, it's not like i'll just stab you with it as soon as i get it, however tempting it may be."

it's not that , kara laughs, i just can't really be near it if it's not secured. it doesn't have to be inside of me to hurt me. just in the same room, really.

"can it hurt me?"

no, you're safe

lena doesn't ask how a gas form will be safe for kara. instead she asks, "do you know where blindspots are? i can let you chill while i put it in a case or something."

yeah, i'll take us to one, just meet back up with me later

there are a lot of things lena decides to not think about as she secures the kryptonite, as she gathers all the materials she'll need to weaponize it. she doesn't think about how every inch of her trusts kara for no apparent reason, doesn't think about the tattoo, and the thing about her mom, and the vulnerability it'd take to even talk to someone about her mom like that. she doesn't think about the fact that this whole mission feels weird, feels wrong, feels like this is somehow the start of her journey with kara, but the end of kara's journey with her. she doesn't think about how none of this was a thing yesterday morning, and now she's deep into it.

she's lying, by the way. she totally thinks about it. nonstop. the whole time. it's all she thinks about.

in fact, she thinks about it the entire next sixteen hours as she makes the device, so by the time they're preparing for their last night of sleep before battle, she can't go on without saying anything. "i've known you for like, two seconds, so you don't really owe me anything or have to tell me anything, but. what am i like? in the future."

"you're amazing," kara says fast. they're both in the bed, lena resting her head on kara's shoulder, staring at the moon through the window. she likes kara. her calm, her sturdiness, the way her heart beats. "you don't have it easy, but you always find your way to good."

"how old am i now? in our future."

"you're in your sixties," kara laughs, "but i don't think you realize that yet."

lena snorts. "are you saying you still look like this, and you're dating a crumpled-up grandma?"

"hey, i married that crumpled-up grandma," kara says, nudging lena's hair with her nose. "i love you always, everyway, and don't ever forget that, okay? stop making me tell you things."

lena doesn't bother listening to that. "is future me about to lose you?"

"you already said goodbye," kara whispers. "we found out about the time machine too late. by the time we got there, one had already slipped through, and we knew we needed to shut it down before more could."

"and you knew you needed to send someone back for the one that got away?"

lena can feel that kara's smiling even without seeing it. "you always said there was something about me you could trust from the moment you first saw me, so. we figured i was your best chance."

lena giggles. "i can't believe i thought you wanted to hook up."

"a younger me, maybe," kara laughs, "but please, please, don't invite someone this old back to your room. jesus."

"yeah, i mean i've learned my lesson now," lena retorts, and then they both laugh, and then they both sit in a long, comfortable silence for a while. before lena drifts off, though, she makes sure to let kara know, "in the future, i won't let you die this way. i promise."

"i know," kara says. "you already told me. but i'll come back all over again if i have to."

-

lena wakes up the next morning, and kara's gone. so is the bomb. there's just a note next to a cellphone that says, call andrea.

lena does. "holy shit, lee. where have you been?" andrea exclaims. "we tried to file a police report, but they said they needed to wait forty-eight hours. we thought you were kidnapped or something."

it feels like a dream, like everything happened so fast and unexpectedly and unexplained. but she knows it was real. "uh, wild story, so i ended up in my family's hunting cabin and not having sex, but i'll give you the details if you come and get me."

andrea shows up three hours later, lena hops in the passenger seat, and andrea looks at her wide-eyed, confused. "so, what happened?"

"well," lena says, then she takes a deep breath, thinks about how much she wants to say, and then she trusts her gut. "sorry, i made it seem like something big, i just. i had a big drop and needed some alone time, think i might start seeing a counselor again."

"oh, whoa, hey, that is big," andrea says, concerned. "you can always talk to me about these things."

"i know," lena says, "but i don't - right now i just want to listen. how was your day yesterday? how are you? tell me everything."

andrea turns the key in the ignition. "i always love an invitation to talk," she smiles. "anywho, it was cool. my dad called for another like, hour long talk again, which was annoying. he's convinced obsidian is going to be pioneers in time travel or something, but whatever."

"oh," lena says.

"right, so dumb," andrea goes on. "but amanda's back on with brett, so we have to deal with that again, and—"

lena tunes her out. this is going to be harder than she thought.


Two Months Later

lena doesn't appreciate the irony of how she met kara, until she's at another party two months later, drunkenly wobbling her way to the beer pong sign up sheet when she runs full speed into a shoulder that doesn't budge.

"oh, sorry," the shoulder says, and then it turns around, and. holy shit. kara. a lot younger and dorkier, and wearing glasses and she doesn't have the cute mom bangs, but. it's kara. "i'm always in the way it seems, you trying to get around?"

"no, m'trying to get right here. this spot is nice," lena slurs, smiles, leaning into kara, which is terrible, but kara's face lights up like rudolph's red nose. "you looking for a partner? for beer pong. a partner for beer pong?"

"um, i wasn't - i mean, yes. i was looking. i'm looking. i'm just not any good," kara fumbles out. lena just smiles, because she's cute. but it pays off because forgetting to speak makes kara even more flustered. "i'm actually new here, super new, just transferred. i'm not really from this uh - state. we don't have this in my state."

"and what state is that?" lena snorts.

kara hesitates, then, "california?"

"they don't have beer pong in california? is that what you're telling me? because if you lived there and haven't heard of it, then you're basically like, an alien."

kara actually short-circuits, mouth opening and closing, eyes wide, making weird pfft noises. it's quite amusing. "i'm not - not like, i wouldn't, like - me? an alien. those don't exist. right?"

"right," lena smiles, then she thinks you only get to experience your life for the first time once, realizes that's just a long version of yolo, and decides she loves kara already. right here, right now. "of course, they don't. come, i'll show you how to play."