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Bizarre Love Triangle

Chapter Text

That's how it starts
We go back to your house
We check the charts
And start to figure it out
And if it's crowded, all the better
Because we know we're gonna be up late
But if you're worried about the weather
Then you picked the wrong place to stay

“All My Friends” - LCD Soundsystem

 

It all starts with Kara ignoring one of Alex’s cardinal rules.

Don’t make eye contact on the subway,” Alex had told her. “Or the street. Or the store. Or, just, you know, anywhere.

After five years in the city and countless encounters with strange men asking Kara for her money, time, phone number, and sometimes all three, one would think that Kara has learned her lesson.

But on this wintry January Saturday, her mind awash in anxious waves as it obsessively replays and dissects the unpleasant call she had with Mike that morning, Kara needs a distraction. So she allows herself to roam her eyes over her fellow passengers in the semi-crowded subway car, imagining their lives and stories to distract herself. The stocky, middle-aged man with his eyes closed is a construction worker who makes a 2-hour commute from New Jersey everyday. The young woman with pierced lip and oversized headphones lives with her parents and two siblings in a one-bedroom apartment and studies psychology at the city‘s university. The well-dressed man leaning against the subway doors works on Wall Street and goes up to his cabin in the Catskills on the weekends to perfect the art of whittling.

And a few feet away, that raven-haired woman standing in the middle of the subway car, gloved hand clinging on to the pole, she’s-

The woman looks up, revealing a pale, pretty face, striking even with its clearly exhibited distress. The woman glances up at the display of subway stops above; then, almost unthinkingly, she looks around the subway car. Her eyes, light blue-green and shimmering from barely contained tears, meet Kara’s.

And Kara’s mind goes blank.

The raven-haired woman, embarrassed, quickly looks away. She lowers her head and takes in a sharp, shaky breath.

Kara’s making her way over before she even has time to think about what she’s doing, weaving her way through the few straphangers between them. She comes to a stop when she grabs a hold of the same pole the woman is using.

The raven-haired woman looks up again, and looks appropriately confused at the approach.

Kara tries to think of something to open with. It has to be a good one.

“Would you like a donut?”

The woman’s look of confusion morphs into alarm. As it should when one is randomly offered food on the subway by a complete stranger who’s been staring at you.

And really, the only appropriate response is: “What?”

“A donut.” Kara digs into her tote bag and produces a grease-stained white paper bag. The woman eyes her carefully as she does. “There’s this place in Greenpoint that makes the best red velvet donuts. Would you like one?” Evidently red velvet donuts are not sufficiently enticing, because the raven-haired woman looks no less alarmed. So Kara tries something else. “I also have cannolis from Veniero’s. Do you want one?”

Again, the only appropriate response: “What?”

“I also have mini pies. Pumpkin? Blueberry?”

“I…” The woman draws her own conclusion on what Kara’s trying to do. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t have any cash on me.”

It takes a moment for Kara to catch on, and when she does, she barks out a laugh. “Oh, no! I’m not selling anything. I’m just offering.”

It’s not possible for anyone to look as confused as this woman does. “But why?”

Kara shrugs lightly. “You look like you could use it.” The train is slowing as it pulls into the 42nd Street station. Kara glances at the display above to confirm the stop, then holds out the white bag. “This is my stop. Here, take the donuts. They’re really good. They’ll make you feel better. I promise.”

The woman, still with that astonished, vaguely unsettled expression on her face, takes the paper bag just as the train stops and the doors slide open. Kara beams at her, adjusts her tote bag, and hurries out of the car.

Rushing out onto the wide, bustling platform, Kara finds herself momentarily lost, unsure of which direction to go for the exit that she wants. She spends a moment craning her neck, trying to get a glimpse of the street signs at each end of the platform. The people around her swarm and swirl, gradually thinning out. Then Kara notices the presence next to her. The woman.

“Oh, hi!” Kara greets brightly. “Did you want the pies instead?”

“N- no, this is my stop too.” The woman holds up the paper bag in her hand. “Why did you give this to me?”

“I told you. It looked like you needed it.”

Kara’s answer evidently does nothing to alleviate the woman’s confusion. “Do you just… go around the city giving away donuts to sad people?”

“Not usually, no.”

The woman’s now looking around, like she’s looking for a hidden camera or an accomplice with a phone. Surely this is a prank. “So… why…”

“I don’t know. I just thought some sugar might cheer you up. It cheers me up.”

Seemingly satisfied that there’s no one lurking about with a camera, the woman nods at Kara’s tote bag. “Is that why you’re carrying three different desserts with you?”

“Actually, yes. And I’m on my way to collect another one.”

The woman shifts about on her feet, looking unsure of what she’s about to say. “Where?”

“Lady M. Do you know it?”

The woman nods. “It’s this way.” She starts moving, and Kara follows. They easily fall into step together. “So… what are you planning to do with all this?”

“Take it all back to my apartment and stuff my face,” Kara answers, as lightly as she can.

“Bad day?”

Kara nods. “But maybe no worse than yours.”

“And this is what you do on a bad day? Go around the city collecting desserts?”

“Got a better idea?”

“I’m partial to wine myself.”

“Ah, well, that’s for a bad night.”

The woman lets out a low chuckle, then seems taken aback by her own reaction, like she didn’t expect to laugh at such an obvious, corny quip.

Now slightly less guarded, the woman offers, “I’m Lena.”

“Kara.” Without breaking stride, Kara sticks out her hand. Lena takes it and they shake hands briefly as they exit the station.

Kara’s surprised, but not displeased, to find Lena moving alongside her towards the direction of the cake shop.

“I couldn’t help but notice your bag.” Lena nods towards Kara’s sugar-laden tote bag, emblazoned with a CatCo Worldwide Media logo. “I have a coworker who’s obsessed with the magazine. He just started going out with a girl who works there and now he’s ordered a year’s worth of back catalogue to ‘study’. He’s been talking about it all week.”

Kara stares back at Lena with gleeful surprise. “Brainy?!”

Lena comes to a sudden stop. “Wait, are you the-”

“Oh, no, no,” Kara says hastily. “But I work at CatCo too. I know Nia. She’s so excited about him! I can’t believe you know him. And with the tea! She was just telling me how she wasn’t sure if he’s into her.”

“Oh,” Lena replies simply, her mind still reeling from a coincidence like this in a city of eight million people. Then again, maybe it’s the CatCo bag that even inspired her to talk to Kara in the first place. After having spent the vast majority of life never thinking about CatCo, then last week being inundated by Brainy’s chatter of nothing but, it felt oddly significant to be accosted on the subway by a woman with a CatCo bag. Like the universe’s trying to tell her something. Not that Lena even believes in such things. “I probably shouldn’t have told you that thing about the back catalogue then.”

They start walking again. Looking to reassure, Kara says, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell her the details. But I may just encourage Nia to be patient with him.”

“That’s probably for the best.”

“But if they get married, we’re definitely telling this story at the wedding.”

“Okay,” Lena responds with an amused smile. “That sounds fair.”

“Nia’s never going to believe I randomly met Brainy’s friend on the subway. She’s going to think it’s a sign.”

“Like we were fated to meet?” Lena suggests, her tone thick with irony.

“Sure, you laugh now. Wait until I’m giving my toast at Brainy and Nia’s wedding. It’s going to be a fantastic story.”

“I look forward to it.” Her curiosity over the bag satisfied, Lena turns to her next question. “So what’s the trouble that has you running for pastries?”

“Oh. Uh…” Kara isn’t sure how to answer that. Her history with Mike and their current conflict is complicated, to say the least.

“I’m sorry,” Lena says quickly. Interpreting Kara’s response as reticence at sharing with a stranger who’s now more or less invited herself along on the walk to the cake shop, she slows her footsteps to allow Kara to get ahead. “It’s none of my business.”

“No, no.” Kara slows down too, and matches Lena’s pace. “It’s just kind of a long, complicated story.”

“Ah,” Lena voices in understanding. “I won’t pry.”

“No, I mean that it’d take a while to tell.” Kara’s stopped now, and Lena realizes that they’ve arrived at Kara’s destination. Kara inclines her head toward the store. “But if you’d like to have a slice of cake with me?”

Lena’s instinctively on the verge of saying no, but catches herself. It’s not as if she has anywhere else better to be.

“All right. But you have to take back these donuts. I can’t do both in one day.”

Kara narrows her eyes, clearing judging Lena’s irrational decision to voluntarily surrender donuts, but she takes back the bag. They line up at the counter and order their slices, for Lena, a green tea mille crepe and a black coffee, for Kara, a chocolate mille crepe, a checkers cake, and a mont blanc.

“What?” She asks when she feels Lena’s eyes on her. “Some of it is for later.”

They find a table in the back. As they dig into their mille crepes, Kara tells Lena about her life-long love affair with Mike Matthews.

They had grown up together in Krypton, a small town in Minnesota. They started “dating” at eleven - or whatever passed for dating at that age - until Kara moved away two years later. They kept in touch over the years, blurring the line between close friends and pining exes, occasionally “getting back together” and trying to do the long-distance thing. It’s never worked out for them, but they’ve also never been able to fully sever the ties between them. When Mike moved to the city three years ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that they would finally be together. And they did. For a while, everything was great. But then Mike’s company asked him to take an assignment in Germany.

“So that’s where he’s been for about a year now.” Having quickly finished off her mille crepe, Kara is now halfway through her checkers cake. “When he left, we’d agreed- well, we agreed to a lot of things, one of which was that he’d be back in a year and we’d just pick up where we left off. But now he’s saying that the company wants him to stay another six months and he’s going to do it. I just, I thought he’d be back soon, but now it’s going to be six more months and who even knows after that?”

“Did you two talk about it before he agreed to stay?” The glumness in Kara’s expression answers Lena’s question. “That wasn’t very considerate on his part.”

“No, I don’t- I mean, they kind of demanded an answer from him on the spot. I know he would have talked to me first if he could. And I know that he can’t afford to say no to them. He really needs the job. So that’s not even the real reason why I’m upset. It’s just that…” Kara worries at her bottom lip, feeling reluctant to share something so personal.

“It’s all right,” Lena reassures her. “Hey, did you know that there’s an Angela Merkel Barbie doll?”

Kara relaxes then, smiling in relief at the change in subject. “I did know that, actually.”

“All right, but did you know that as a child, I once tried to make my own Ada Lovelace Barbie from a Beach Barbie?”

Inhaling sharply, Kara pitches forward and adopts the position of rapt attention with both hands underneath her chin and elbows upon the table top.

“Tell me everything.”

From there, they sit and chat aimlessly. They share stories and what remains of Kara’s cakes (although, in truth, Kara ate the bulk of it).

Lena, Kara learns, has lived in the city almost her entire life, save for a stint in boarding school and going to college in Massachusetts. She now works in biotech research. She has an older brother named Lex, who is a brilliant man and, at times, an insufferable prick. (“That’s funny, my sister’s name is Alex. Not a prick though. Prickly, yes, but not a prick.”) Kara tells Lena about her job at the magazine, as a reporter in name but a glorified fact-checker in practice working her way up. They bond over their mutual love of Titanic and *NSYNC.

Finally, Kara asks, “So what’s made you so sad today?”

Instantly, although they just spent so long sharing, Lena looks wary. “I think I’d need some wine before I get into that.”

“Okay, well.” Kara nods her head toward the windows. Lena looks over, and is surprised to see that it’s already dark out. “Is it time to have a bad night?”

This probably isn’t a good idea. Lena had already derailed her plans today (which, granted, only consisted of reading pharmaceutical trade publications) to eat cake with a woman she barely knows.

But she finds herself saying, “I know we just had dessert, but I don’t suppose you’d like to get some dinner?”

With a broad grin, Kara replies, “I’m okay with doing things out of order.”

Then they’re off, back into the cold. At Kara’s suggestion, they end up at a gastropub a few blocks north. Still early for a Saturday night, they manage to get a table. Kara gets the fish and chips and Lena tries to order a salad, but upon seeing the look of dismay on Kara’s face, switches her order to a veggie pot pie. As they eat, they continue their conversation earlier on ‘90s pop culture.

Lena hasn’t offered to talk about her bad day. So Kara hasn't pushed. Instead, Kara tells Lena about the neighborhood she lives in, and how she basically only chose it because Alex lives two blocks away.

After their meals, they order cocktails. When Lena’s halfway through hers, she finally volunteers, “So. My bad day.”

Kara sits up a bit straighter, but respectfully says, “Only if you want.”

“It’s nowhere as interesting as yours, I’m afraid. No childhood loves or long-distance relationships. It’s fairly boring. I got dumped.” Lena shrugs, trying to seem casual but knowing that she’s failing miserably. “We were together for a year. I can’t say things were perfect, but I still felt quite blindsided when she broke up with me. That was a month ago. Today my friends and I were at brunch and there she was. With her new girlfriend.”

Lena clucks her tongue, a humorless smile on her face. “You know, Veronica doesn’t even like Shopsin’s. She always complained every time I wanted to go. She said it was too ‘squalid’. But I guess love changes you because she certainly wasn’t complaining today when she was making out with her new girlfriend in the middle of brunch.

“So I went over and asked why she had to come to this place, of all places. I shouldn’t have because it just set her off. She told me that, like always, I was being an uptight bitch, that she’s glad she’s rid of me… well, that’s when my friend Andrea jumped in. She was being a good friend, but it didn’t help the situation. Words were had, food was thrown. In the end, we were all asked to leave. I think we’re all banned from Shopsin’s now. So… there it is. Not a spectacular story, just embarrassing.”

“Yes,” Kara says quickly. “For Veronica. Who behaves like that?”

“I shouldn’t have gone over. We’re adults. I can’t expect her to avoid certain places just because it’d upset me.”

“Oh, please. It’s a big city. She can find a different place to have eggs for a couple months other than your favorite brunch spot.”

Lena chuckles, ducking her head in acknowledgement. “Andrea said the same thing. But she also said that it was a bad idea for me to go over. She blamed it on my IBS.” When Kara wrinkles her nose, Lena quickly amends, “Oh, no, I don’t- sorry, it’s a joke. Andrea says I suffer from Insufficient Boning Syndrome. Because it’s, ah, been a while. She says it’s making me irritable and affecting my judgment. She told me that I needed to get over Veronica by getting under someone else.”

“And you don’t want to?”

“I’d like to move on. And I’d like to…” Looking slightly embarrassed at discussing this with a relative stranger, Lena looks down at her near-empty cocktail glass, clearing her throat lightly. “I’m not strictly opposed to the idea of having some, um, physical contact. Especially since it’s… well, like I said, it’s been a while. Towards the end of the relationship, there wasn’t much passion.” She looks up now, peering at Kara anxiously. “Too much?”

Kara shakes her head. “No. So if you don’t mind me asking, what’s the problem? I mean, you’re so unbelievably beaut-”And now it’s Kara’s turn to look embarrassed. “Uh, I just mean that it’s- just that you probably don’t have a hard time finding, um, interested parties.”

It’s not the first time Lena’s been complimented on her looks. But this, coming from Kara, fills her with inexplicable giddiness.

“The problem is I’m nowhere emotionally ready to be in a relationship.”

“But there are a lot of other people out there who’s okay with just a hookup, right?”

“Or they say they are and end up wanting something more anyway,” Lena answers with a shrug. “Besides, I don’t know how I feel about having a series of one night stands. Nothing wrong with it, but there’s a shocking number of women out there who think you can’t get STIs through lesbian sex. The risk is low, but still more risk than I’d like. In a no-strings-attached situation, I can’t help but wonder how safe they’re being with other people and what the risk is to me.”

“Sounds like you want a friend with like exclusive benefits?”

Lena wrinkles her nose at the thought. “They’re all attractive people, but no. We know each other too well to be attracted to each other. You know what I mean?”

“Well… then… maybe…” Kara’s staring down at her empty glass, fingers nervously rubbing at its stem. “An almost-friend that you’ve… just met?”

Lena says nothing, too stunned by the suggestion. She recovers when Kara looks up with her face teeming with uncertainty and worry.

“When you offered me those donuts, it crossed my mind that you were hitting on me, but then you mentioned a boyfriend…”

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t- I wasn’t hitting on you, it honestly didn’t occur to me until just now while you were telling me-” Kara shakes her head fiercely, feeling like she’s about to die of humiliation. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from. It was a stupid, stupid thing to say.”

Kara sits back, slightly slumped, waiting for Lena to make a hasty exit.

Instead, Lena asks, “What about Mike?”

Kara shifts uncomfortably in her seat, feeling her body tense at the subject. “Okay, so… you know how I said that Mike and I agreed to a lot of things when he left? Well… one of those things we agreed on is having a open-ish relationship? We’re going to be together exclusively when he comes back but, in the meantime, what we do when we’re apart is just, you know, what we do.”

Skeptically, Lena asks, “And was this your idea or his?”

“Well, we both agreed that we didn’t want to be in a long-distance relationship.”

“But when you said you didn’t want long-distance, you meant ‘don’t go to Germany’ and he meant ‘let’s sleep with other people.’”

“It wasn’t like that,” Kara replies even as she thinks that maybe it had been a little bit like that. “Anyway, he’s been gone almost a year and I haven’t done anything, and a lot of it has to do with the same reasons you mentioned. You know, worried about being safe and also that I’d be leading someone on when I’m definitely not emotionally available for that. But Mike… well, we don’t really talk about it but I know he’s… made friends. So when he told me that he was staying for another six months, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was another reason he wanted to stay. Another person.

“I told him how I felt, I asked if there was another reason he wanted to stay, and he said no. He said that we promised each other that we’d be together at the end of this and we've always kept our promises to each other. And then he said that… maybe I’m feeling insecure because I haven’t enjoyed New York as much I should have while he’s gone. He said that I should… get out there and enjoy myself.”

“And naturally you interpreted that to mean you should go on a sugar rampage through the city.”

“Up until five minutes ago, yeah. And then you said that thing about it being difficult to find a regular sex-only partner, and I just, well, I’m kind of in the same position and I’m already in love with somebody else, so…” Suddenly feeling overexposed and like she had truly overstepped her bounds, Kara tries to correct the course. “But that’s silly. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t go around just saying whatever pops into my head. That was so presumptuous of me, like for me to assume that you’re even attracted to me or that you’d want-”

“I’m attracted to you,” Lena blurts out. Reining herself in, she adds, milder now, “I’m… definitely attracted. I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t be.”

“Oh. Um.” With a pleased, nervous smile, Kara fidgets with her glasses to distract herself from the wave of overwhelming pleasure she feels. “Thank you. That’s, uh, really kind of you to say.”

“Kind has nothing to do with it, it’s the truth,” Lena replies. “So what now?”

“Uh. Well. Maybe go over some details?” Kara finds herself squirming, finding it uncomfortable to talk so plainly about this. But it’s important to be able to talk about these things. “You had mentioned being safe. And, um, I had my physical in November with a full panel. I have a clean bill of health and um, I haven’t done anything since then. So. But of course we can still use protection if you’re more comfortable.”

“I was tested last month. Same. And you’d be okay with not having other partners?”

“Well, yeah, that’s the point of this, right? We can both have something, um, physically satisfying but do it safely?”

At that, Lena leans forward, a playful glint in her eyes. “You know, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Who says it’d be satisfying? Maybe we’d have zero chemistry.”

Kara huffs indignantly. “Excuse me, I’m very good at what I do.”

“Chemistry has nothing to do with skill.”

Kara brings herself forward, mirroring Lena’s position and leaning over the table. “Okay then. So kiss me and find out.”

That’s the opening Lena’s looking for. She smiles and slowly leans in, tilting her head slightly to the side. She pauses, and waits for Kara to meet her halfway.

And Kara does. Their lips meet. A closed, chaste peck.

It’s Kara who draws back first. Just slightly, cracking her eyes open to gauge Lena’s reaction. Lena smiles. Gives an affirming nod. So Kara goes back in, her slightly parted lips meeting Lena’s again.

They kiss over the tabletop. Slow and tentative at first, each unsure and hesitant of going too fast, each mindful of this public display. But as electrifying desire spreads throughout their bodies, instinct takes over. Caution and reservations forgotten, their kiss deepens, mouths feverishly working against the other’s. World forgotten, they’re blinded, deafened, and swept away by crescendoing need. They tip their bodies into it - or, as much as they can, given the table between them.

They’re pulled back to reality with raucous noise; an unrelated, risqué joke told at a table a few feet away with a large party, eliciting a sudden, loud laughter that pierces through their bubble.

They break apart. Sit back in their seats.

Lena looks at the blonde across the table, slightly astonished.

Kara clears her throat and grabs for her water glass. Before taking a sip, she remarks, as coolly as she can, “How’s that for chemistry?”

And really, the only appropriate response is:

“Do you want to get out of here?”

***

Lena takes them to her apartment a few blocks away. Kara’s stunned to discover that Lena lives in a modern, luxury, doorman high-rise building overlooking Bryant Park.

Kara stands frozen in the entranceway. “You live here?”

Lena shrugs off her coat, hangs it up, and strides down the hall to her sizable living room. “Honestly, it’s mostly out of convenience. My company’s just down the block. It’s not my favorite neighborhood, a bit soulless and busy. I do enjoy saying good morning to Patience and Fortitude though.”

“To who now?”

“The two lions in front of the library,” Lena clarifies as she takes a seat on the couch. “Are you going to come in?”

Slowly, Kara takes off her coat, still gaping at her surroundings. “What is it that you said you do again?”

“Biotech research.” Lena slips off her heels, setting them beside her sofa.

“Can I, um.” Kara holds up a finger, looping it about in the air.

“Go ahead. Look around all you like.”

Kara surveys the land. The entranceway opens to a long hallway. To the left, there’s a spacious dining/living room with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Bryant Park. Tucked away on the other side of the hallway is a modern kitchen, with expensive, shiny countertops and sleek, stainless equipment. And a dishwasher. The kitchen provides a passageway connecting the dining/living room to a study before looping back into that long hallway by the entrance. On the other end of that long hallway are two bedrooms, one master and a smaller second bedroom.

“I didn’t realize there’s such good money in biotech research.” Kara says as she makes her way back to the living room. “Is your roommate here?”

“I don’t have a roommate.”

That’s the most startling thing Lena’s said to her all night. Kara stares at her, feeling like her brain’s about to short-circuit.

“You live in a two-bedroom. In Midtown. With a doorman. By yourself,” Kara restates, trying to sound calm but still coming off as slightly hysterical. “Ohmygod, you have a washer and dryer in here, don’t you?”

“Kara,” Lena answers, serenely but firmly. “Come over here.”

“I’m afraid to sit on your couch. It’s probably worth more than my entire life savings.”

“Well, if you’re afraid to sit on the couch, you could just sit on my lap instead.”

Not even fancy-apartment-struck Kara would say no to that.

She approaches Lena, climbing on top and straddling her lap. She drapes her arms about the brunette’s shoulders, loosely clasping her hands around the nape. She finds herself staring into stunning blue-green orbs, the sight of it so breathtaking that she can almost feel her chest ache.

“Hey,” she whispers.

“Hi,” Lena whispers back as her fingers linger and dance at the edge of Kara’s shirt.

It’s Kara who closes the gap between them. They make out languidly, indulgently, unhurriedly, warm tongues gently sliding and exploring. It’s Lena who makes the first move under the clothes, slipping her hand beneath Kara’s shirt to caress along the length of her torso. Kara gasps against Lena’s mouth as she feels a hand cup her breast.

“Kara,” Lena murmurs against fervent lips.

“Yeah?” Kara responds as she turns her attention to Lena’s neck. Lena lets her head drop against the back of the couch, squeezing her eyes shut as she struggles to remember what she wants to say.

In between sharp gasps that correspond to Kara’s gentle sucking at her neck, she manages to say, “You know that it’s okay if nothing happens, right? I don’t- I don’t want you to think that you have to do something just because you came home with me or because I want it or- or because Mike wants it.”

Kara pulls back slightly, regarding Lena in perplexion. “Well, I’m the one on top of you, so what does that tell you?”

“Just checking in.” Delicately, Lena brushes an errant strand of hair out of Kara’s eyes. “I want to make sure that this is happening because you want it to.”

“You should know that your concern is extremely hot. It just makes me want to take off all your clothes.” Kara pauses, studying Lena for a reaction. “If that’s what you want.”

Lena doesn’t even hesitate. “Bedroom’s that way.”

“Okay then.” Kara takes her glasses off, setting it atop the side table. She swiftly clambers off, and before Lena even fully registers what’s happening, she finds herself in Kara’s arms, being carried off down the long hallway towards the bedroom.

Instinctively, Lena yips in surprise and grabs on, looping her arms around the blonde’s neck, although it probably isn’t necessary, not with the sturdy grip Kara has on her.

“Where did the bumbling donut lady go?”

Kara promptly shoots back, “Donut lady in the streets, dapper daddy between the sheets.”

Lena blinks in shock, then bursts out with a high-pitched, borderline hysterical laugh. “You did not just say that.”

Kara’s already grimacing at her own words. “Um… yeah, I don’t know where that came from. I’ll come up with a better comeback later and we can pretend I said that thing instead of… what I just said.”

They tumble into the room, Kara depositing the other woman on her bed.

“My god,” Kara exhales in astonishment.

Lena follows Kara’s gaze, at the view of the Empire State Building out her window, cast in a red glow for the evening. And, sure, it’s a great view, but Lena can’t help feeling the tinsiest bit offended. Surely she can compete with a building.

“Um, Kara? Would you like to undress me now?”

Kara snaps her attention back to the task at hand. Hurriedly, she scrambles onto the bed, her hands going to work at the buttons of Lena’s blouse. To make up for the momentary lapse in focus, she now lavishes attention on the woman under her. With each button undone, Kara presses soft kisses against the unveiled skin beneath, trailing her way up, up Lena’s tense, eager body until their mouths meet once again.

As they kiss, they undress each other. A little uncomfortable, a lot clumsy, they struggle with unfamiliar terrain. Lena squirms when Kara touches her side, and Kara learns that Lena is ticklish. Kara squeals when Lena nips at her neck, and Lena learns that Kara doesn’t like teeth on her skin. But they giggle and laugh their way through it, their excited, boisterous mood undiminished by the brief skirmishes with awkwardness in learning one another’s body.

When they’re naked, pressed up tight together, Lena utters lowly, “You okay?”

Kara nods surely. “You?”

“Yeah.” Lena’s hand, prowling south, grazes upon Kara’s thigh. “Are you ready?”

“Please.” Lena dips her fingers into wet folds, rubbing at where Kara’s most sensitive. Kara inhales sharply through clenched teeth, arching her hips up as her body spasmed with pleasure.

“God, that feels amazing.”

“It really has been a while, hasn’t it?” Lena teases. “You’re so ready. One or two? Three?”

“Two, please.”

When Lena obeys, Kara lets out a deep sigh of relief, which quickly turns into a high-pitched whine as the brunette starts thrusting. And Lena’s right. Kara’s ready. So ready that it doesn’t take long at all for Lena to make her come. So ready that, almost immediately after her orgasm, Kara’s looking to return the favor.

“I’m a little rusty,” she admits as her hand dips down. “Will you tell me what feels good to you?”

“Yes,” Lena says.

Which quickly turns into a series of yes yes yes without the need for much instructions at all.

Well,” Lena manages through heaving pants, gazing upon Kara with something that looks a lot like admiration. “Not so rusty after all.”

Still caressing Lena’s thigh and peppering kisses along her shoulder, Kara answers, with a healthy dose of ‘I just made a hot woman come’ swagger, “Could always use more practice. When you’re ready.”

It doesn’t take long for Lena to be ready again.

When they finally mutually agree that they’re done, it’s very late.

“You can stay if you want,” Lena says.

“I should go.” Kara sounds as reluctant as Lena looks. “I’m having breakfast with Alex in the morning.”

“Well, at least let me get you an Uber home.”

As Kara gets dressed, Lena throws on a robe and searches for her phone.

“So, um…” Kara starts hesitantly as she’s pulling on her jeans. “Would you… do you think you’ll want to do this again? And no hard feelings if the answer’s no. If this is it, that’s- uh, it’s totally fine. I’ll just, um, maybe see you at Brainy and Nia’s wedding in three years and we’ll… just like pretend not to have met before or something.”

Lena should not find this kind of bumbling awkwardness as endearing as she does. “I’ll give you my number.” Lena does, and Kara enters it into her phone. But then Kara freezes, staring down at her phone uncertainly. “What is it?”

“What’s your, um- I mean, you- it’s just, I, I don’t actually know, uh-”

“My last name?”

Kara flushes, looking sheepish and deeply embarrassed even though she’s just spent the last couple of hours ravishing Lena. Well, maybe because she’s spent the last couple of hours ravishing Lena Last Name Unknown.

“Uh, yup.”

“It’s Luthor. L-U-T-H-O-R.”

Kara keys it in, keeping her attention sharply focused on her screen. “I’ve, um, never done this kind of thing before. Sleep with someone I just met.”

“I don’t exactly make this a habit either. But I suppose that’s the point of this arrangement. Now we don’t have to go looking for strangers to satisfy our needs.”

“At least until Mike gets back.”

“Right,” Lena replies evenly. “Until then.” Her phone buzzes and she looks down. “Your car’s downstairs.”

Lena walks Kara to the apartment door. Kara opens the door and takes one step out, but then lingers in the doorway. She turns back, shoving her hands into the pockets of her heavy coat.

“Um… well, thanks for a lovely evening.”

“You too.” Well, that hardly seems sufficient. Grabbing a hold of Kara’s coat, Lena gives a gentle tug, pulling the other woman into her personal space, covering her mouth with her own in a long, slow goodbye kiss. When Lena pulls back, Kara looks vaguely dazed. “Goodnight, Kara.”

With a small push upon Kara’s shoulder, Lena casts Kara over the doorway threshold; after one last purposeful once-over accompanied by a flirtatious smirk, she closes the door.

She heads back to bed, feeling tiredness and sleepiness settling in. Just as she collapses into bed, she hears her phone buzz. She grabs it off the bedside table and peers at the screen.

There’s a text from an unfamiliar number.

The message just says “Kara Danvers.”

***

In a crowded diner flooded with the noises of the Sunday morning brunch rush, Kara can somehow still hear the weak, disbelieving stammers coming from her sister across the table.

After flapping her lips and uselessly emitting a string of incomprehensible noises, Alex finally manages to say, “You- you spent the night with a woman that you met… on the subway?!” On that last word Alex’s voice goes so high, it’s almost a whistle.

Meekly, Kara nods her head.

You,” Alex says in a shocked-beyond-belief voice. “Kara Danvers. You, of all people, had a one night stand. With a woman you met on the subway.

With her fork, Kara pokes at the stack of waffles before her, dragging a swirl of syrup across the ridged surface. “Um… well, it’s not exactly supposed to be a one night stand. She’s sort of in the same situation as me in that she’s not looking for anything. She just came out of a relationship, but she, um, still has needs? So, er, we kind of agreed to be like… friends with benefits?”

“Except you’re not even friends. So it’s like strangers with benefits.”

Kara hums in agreement. “Or! Straphangers with benefits.”

Alex does not look remotely amused.

“Kara, what the hell were you thinking? You can’t be going home with randos on the subway. She could’ve murdered you.”

“She’s not a complete stranger. She knows Brainy.”

You don’t know Brainy! You just heard about him from Nia!”

“Whatever! It worked out. I had a great night and, look, I’m alive.”

“So you’re going to, what, sleep with this woman until Mike gets back?”

“Um, yeah, that’s pretty much the plan.” Kara says as she devotes her attention to painstakingly cutting up her waffle into small squares according to its indentations. “I’m happy, she’s happy, Mike’s happy. It all works out.”

The look on Alex’s face can only be described as one of abject pity. “Oh, sweetie. No, no, no, no. This is not going to end well. At all.”

Kara huffs in annoyance. “You don’t know that.”

“I know you, and I know that you’re not capable of having a benefits arrangement with someone without falling ass backwards in love with them.”

“That’s not going to happen.” With her fork, Kara stabs at her cut-up waffle squares, somewhat aggressively. “I’m in love with Mike. I’ve always been in love with Mike and I’ll always be in love with Mike. We’re going to be together when he gets back. Mike’s the end goal, Lena’s a detour.”

“Yeah, well, it’s going to be a bumpy detour- for the love of god, why are you eating your waffle like that? The squares are there to hold in the syrup!”

“Because I want to!” Kara returns petulantly, clearly talking about more than just waffles.

“Kara. This is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. And I’m including the time that you set fire to your own hair and nearly burned the house down trying to do some spell you found on MySpace to make Troy Bolton materialize in real life and marry you.”

“Leave it alone, Alex.”

“No, I take that back. The dumbest thing you’ve ever done is to let Mike talk you into having an ‘open-ish’ long distance relationship. But this is definitely the second dumbest thing you’ve ever done.”

“Alex,” Kara spits out, her tone steely. “I said leave it alone.”

Alex mulls it over. She’s far from done, but she knows that there’s only so much she can push Kara in one day.

“Fine, but I’m reserving ‘I told you so’ rights. I don’t care if it’s petty.”

“You won’t have to,” Kara says smugly. “It’s all going to be fine.”

Alex narrows her eyes and lifts her coffee cup to her lips, mumbling lowly to herself, which maybe sounds a lot like famous last words. But, then again, Kara decides, it’s simply much too loud in the diner to know what Alex really said.