Actions

Work Header

TikTok Goes the Clock

Work Text:

Kara wakes with a start. The room around her is dark—she can barely make out her dresser in the corner—and she blindly reaches for the phone she knows is on the nightstand next to her to check the time in the hope that she can turn back around and catch another couple minutes of sleep.

She squints when the screen lights up, way too sudden and way too bright. 9:02AM. Which means that she has slept straight through both of her alarms and that class starts in three minutes.

Fuck.

She’s out of bed in record speed.

This is not quite how she imagined her first day of college to go (okay, if she’s being honest this is exactly how she imagined her first day of college to go because she’s never been a morning person ever in her entire life and has a true knack for being late). Well, at least the fact that all her courses happen online for the foreseeable future thanks to a raging global pandemic means that she won’t have to run halfway across campus to get to her class even remotely on time.

Instead, she simply grabs her laptop, not bothering to change out of her pjs because a) ain't nobody got time for that and b) this is college and literally no one cares about that sort of thing here anyway, right?

It takes her two minutes to open up her laptop, log into her email, and get Zoom up and running, heart beating with nervous excitement—and quite a bit of relief that she has made it just in time. Most people are already there from the looks of it, all awkwardly sitting in front of various backgrounds except for the handful of people who have opted not to start their video in the first place.

She’s just about to turn on her own camera—despite the impressive bed head she’s sporting—when the most gorgeous girl she has ever seen appears on her screen out of nowhere and holy shit. It’s like she can’t breathe for a second; can’t do anything other than stare at the vision in front of her as her fingers still on the trackpad, cursor hovering over the “Start Video” button.

Briefly, she thinks she’s still asleep because this has to be a dream. A beautiful, breathtaking dream. Because no way this girl is actually real.

Her eyes are an almost impossible shade of green—like jade—and her dark hair contrasts nicely with her pale skin. She’s wearing an honest-to-God blazer like this is a Fortune 500 board meeting instead of Biology 101, which makes Kara feel even more inadequate in her current outfit. Seemingly unaware that she is blown up for the entire course to see, the girl runs her hand through her long hair in the most graceful way. Kara is absolutely mesmerized.

She almost jumps out of her skin when, suddenly, the image of the mysterious beauty is replaced by a slightly older—and definitely way tanner—woman. For a moment, Kara isn’t sure if she’s a student as well or—

“Alright, guys, let’s get this going! Good morning everyone. I’m Professor Sawyer and I want to officially welcome you to Biology 101—even if this Zoom thing isn’t ideal and it’s probably a far cry from what you imagined college would be like.”

Well, that answers that question.

“First things first: you don’t have to turn your cameras on if you do not feel comfortable, but I would appreciate seeing your faces so I know you haven’t fallen asleep on me.” She smiles. “No pressure, though.”

Kara decides to keep her camera off, at least for today. Because, first of all, she looks like an absolute mess and now that she has seen the green-eyed Goddess in her course she is way too self-conscious to show her own face on here, even if she didn’t look like shit right now. She’s not usually someone with self-esteem issues—at least not when it comes to the way she looks—but something about the girl has activated her gay fight-or-flight instinct and, right now, she’s definitely leaning toward the latter.

“I know you guys probably hate ice breakers—believe me, so do I—but I would like to ask you all to briefly introduce yourselves, please. Something like name, major, and a fun fact about yourself.”

She looks into her camera with an expression that is half sheepish, half hopeful.

“Anyone want to start?”

Unsurprisingly, no one volunteers.

The silence that follows is somehow even more awkward than it would be in an in-person setting, and she’s sure she sees at least two more people turn their cameras off as it stretches on and on to the point where Kara is contemplating taking one for the team and just get it over when the beautiful girl from before reappears on her screen in all her Snow White glory.

“Hello, my name is Lena Luthor,” she says, and Kara is immediately spell-bound.

Lena.

Her voice is deeper than Kara anticipated; soothing with a slight accent to it—British, maybe? Either way, she’s sure she has never heard anything as beautiful ever before.

“My major is Biomedical Engineering, and a fun fact about me is that I have a pilot’s license.”

Beautiful and smart—God, Kara is absolutely fucked.

She’s had her fair share of crushes on straight girls over the years but something tells her that this particular one is going to be much worse than anything she’s experienced ever before.

They go around the entire class, everyone giving a short rundown of who they are and what they’re doing here, before, finally, it’s Kara’s turn. She stammers her way through an introduction—Kara Danvers, Exercise Science, I can eat a dozen donuts in under two minutes—before quickly muting her microphone again and trying to fight off a panic attack for the next ten minutes because she clearly saw Lena chuckle at her fun fact.

After that, the rest of the class passes in a blur, Kara not retaining a single shred of information. Not until the girl—Lena—asks a question about their final exam and, with every word she says, Kara becomes increasingly sure that seeing Lena three times a week is definitely gonna be the death of her (and of any hopes she had of doing well in college).

 

She manages to wake up on time the next day, mostly because she barely sleeps at all.

Instead, she spends the night tossing and turning, unable to shake thoughts of Lena, and—by the time her 9:30AM class rolls around—she is running on two cups of coffee and not much else.

The amount of caffeine running through her system has given her the jitters, which doesn’t help with her desperate attempt at pulling herself together so she doesn’t immediately make a fool out of herself in the class she is most excited about this entire semester—even though it has absolutely nothing to do with her actual major.

She logs on five minutes before the start of the class. From the looks of it, most people are already there once again, their little rectangles all neatly lined up in rows of five.

When she spots her—second box from the left, one row down—her heart almost jumps right out of her chest. Kara didn’t expect to see her again this soon, didn’t expect to see her here, of all courses. She turns her camera off immediately.

There’s no good reason for it; she actually looks decent today—plus it’s not like she doesn’t show her face on Instagram or, occasionally, TikTok. But something about Lena just… makes her feel incredibly jittery, for some reason.

God, she’s such a useless lesbian.

She chuckles at herself, internally cursing her own stupidity, and then, on a whim, gets her phone out and opens TikTok.

She isn’t that active on the app, has only posted sporadically and watches just enough every now and again to keep up with what’s going on on lesbian TikTok, so she knows that they’ll probably eat this shit up.

She aims the camera at herself first, getting a couple seconds of footage of her sheepish expression, before switching cameras to record Lena’s unfairly gorgeous face on the screen. As if on cue, the brunette raises her hand to push a strand of hair behind her ear and Kara swoons. Finally, she quickly types out a couple lines describing her current predicament—“when you’re too insecure to turn on your camera because one of your classmates looks like this” and “why is this girl so FREAKING pretty”—before adding Taylor Swift’s “Gorgeous” for good measure.

The whole thing is stupid, really—a silly little video she’s not even sure she should actually post. Because what if Lena sees it somehow and thinks she’s a complete creep?

Her finger hovers over the button, unsure what to do, when a quick, sharp feedback noise comes from her speakers as a new person joins the Zoom. She startles, finger making contact with her phone screen, and the TikTok is posted.

Shit.

She has no idea how to delete it.

Her gaze darts up to her laptop in a panic, afraid someone can see her even though her camera is off. Maybe she should ask Google for help.

She has made it as far as how to dele when a woman who has to be the professor appears on screen.

Double shit.

“Hello everyone, my name is Dr. Olsen and my pronouns are she/her,” she says, waving into her camera and Kara slowly puts her phone down, deciding to deal with the TikTok issue later. “Welcome to English 140: Introduction to Gay and Lesbian Culture and Literature.”

Kara has never wanted a professor to ask why they picked this course in particular quite so badly just because she did cause she’s very gay so… why else would Lena be here?

“Before we get started please tell us your pronouns and anything else you’d like us to know.”

They go down the list of names in alphabetical order.

Kara is the fourth one to speak and keeps it as brief as possible, mostly because she is afraid of embarrassing herself in front of Lena, who got her chin propped on her hand and is listening intently.

After the first dozen or so people, it becomes increasingly clear to Kara that at least two thirds of students on this course do, in fact, identify as some form of queer and, honestly, she fucking loves it. Really, it shouldn’t be such a surprise but if you come from a small town where gay people seemingly don’t exist outside of your own family, every single queer person you meet seems like a miracle.

(She only realizes when it’s too late that—in her Lena-induced haze—she totally forgot to say that she herself is one of the gays, too.)

Then, it’s Lena’s turn and, right away, Kara’s heart starts thumping in her chest as she sends a silent prayer to the Gods—or whoever else is willing to listen.

Please be gay. Please be gay. Please be gay.

“Hi, my name is Lena, my pronouns are she/her, and I’m really looking forward to what this class has to offer.”

Well, at least she didn’t outright say she’s straight, Kara thinks—though she can’t help the pang of disappointment she feels at the lack of concrete evidence. Not that Lena has to out herself in front of all of these virtual strangers but… it would have been nice to know, is all. Just for reference.

Once everyone has introduced themselves, Dr. Olsen goes through the syllabus with them and Kara gets even more excited about the class than she already was. It covers a broad base of topics and theories, interesting films and books, and—

“Lastly we have group presentations on LGBTQ superheroes, which I am really excited about because it is the topic of my most recent book—and who doesn’t love a good superhero film, am I right?”

A couple of people nod in agreement.

“Do we get to pick our own groups for that?” a girl named Sam asks and Kara sees Lena roll her eyes at the question—because she happens to coincidentally look at her little window at the exact moment it happens and definitely not at all because she’s been staring at the brunette for the entirety of the class, thank you very much.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Dr. Olsen replies, turning the syllabus over to the next page. “But be prepared to work with someone you don’t know yet.”

Well, it’s not like Kara has any friends in this class, anyway.

For a single, glorious moment she imagines what it would be like to work in a group with Lena but the thought alone seems so outrageous—and unrealistic—that she immediately pushes it away. Most likely, she won’t ever even talk to Lena directly.

She has already forgotten about the TikTok.

 

The next couple of weeks are a whirlwind of readings, papers, and seminars.

College is nothing like in the movies—no dorm, no dining hall, no house parties. Instead, it’s just her and her laptop in her childhood bedroom, barely changing out of her pajamas most of the time. Honestly, it’s kind of depressing and, at this point, the only thing motivating her not to drop out is the prospect of seeing Lena’s beautiful face every day.

With every passing day, she learns more about the brunette—little pieces of information that come up in class discussions, that she mentions offhandedly or in passing. Kara files them all away neatly in her brain, trying to piece together a more complete picture of Lena. One thing she finds out early on is that she likes to use her hands when she speaks, gesticulating as she lays out Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity. She has nice fingers, long and lean, and Kara is absolutely mesmerized by them—just like she is by everything else about the brunette.

It’s so bad that, a couple of weeks into the semester, there is a point where Kara is afraid she is going to fail both of the classes she shares with Lena because she is so distracted by her sheer presence on her screen. Truly, it’s embarrassing how much of a useless lesbian she is—especially considering that something like this has never happened to her before. She’s had crushes before, of course, on actresses or someone on her soccer team or a random stranger at the grocery story but it’s never been quite this bad.

And because she’s an idiot and a fool—and because her infatuation with the other girl is getting increasingly out of hand—she keeps looking for an indication that Lena might be even just a little bit gay. Something in the background behind her, maybe, or an inadvertent “we” when she speaks about the LGBT community in class.

The fact that she seems to have no social media at all—which Kara knows because she’s spent entirely too long trying to find her—doesn’t help in the slightest. Actually, it’s utterly infuriating and, eventually, she gets to a point two seconds away from writing her an email to ask if she listens to girl in red.

In the end, she decides not to because she hasn’t gone completely insane just yet.

Things take a turn for the worse when, on a random Tuesday and with no warning whatsoever, they end up in the same group for the superhero project.

Kara isn’t sure how it happens exactly—or, more importantly, why—but one second she is doodling hearts all across her notes and the next Dr. Olsen says, “Kara, you’ll work with Sam and Lena.”

She doesn’t hear a single word said after that. (Mostly because she’s too busy having a gay panic attack, heart beating with such intensity that she’s afraid Lena will be able to hear it. She checks that her microphone is actually muted twelve times in the next five minutes.)

There’s no way she’ll be able to work with Lena. Not if they want to get any actual work done at all. Not if she wants to survive this semester.

Maybe she can still find a new group. Or drop out of the class altogether. Or fake her own death and move to Switzerland.

Or maybe she just needs to suck it up and stop being such a useless lesbian.

She decides to go with the latter.

 

Her phone pings half an hour after the end of the class. She expects it to be a message from Nia ranting about her Organizational Communications class again—or Winn asking if she wants to play Red Dead Redemption 2 later—so she isn’t in the least prepared for what she reads:

Lena Luthor is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Oh shit.

Suddenly, Switzerland doesn’t look like such a terrible option after all because if she stays, she’ll have to actually talk to Lena instead of just existing in the same digital space. She’s gonna embarrass herself, she already knows it. There will be something she says that Lena is going to find odd or weird or downright disturbing and Kara doesn’t think she can survive that.

She is still panicking about the first email when she gets a second one a couple minutes later.

 

From: Lena Luthor <lluthor@email.ncu.edu>

Sent: 12 October 2020 10:31

To: Kara Danvers <kdanvers@email.ncu.edu>

Subject: ENGL 140 group assignment

Dear Kara,

I hope you got the Zoom meeting invite and that the date and time work for you.

If not, please let me know and we’ll set up something else.

I look forward to working with you.

Best wishes,

Lena

 

The email seems oddly formal considering they’re both students and likely about the same age but, honestly, Kara finds it kind of endearing. Also, it totally makes sense considering the—admittedly, limited—things she knows about the other girl.

For starters, Lena is always impeccably prepared to the point where Kara pretty sure she’s the only person in class who has actually done all the readings, including the optional ones. She’s active in class without being a teacher’s pet, always with something insightful to say to drive the discussion forward.

She’d be a great person to do a group project with even if she wasn’t absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. (It doesn’t hurt that she is.)

 

They meet for the first time the next day, just as scheduled in Lena’s initial email.

She’s the only one who doesn’t turn her camera on which feels kind of silly, considering there is no good reason for it other than the fact that she’s a lesbian disaster—but neither of the other two girls says anything so she just goes with it.

After the initial small talk—how are you, how was your quarantine, isn’t Mike fucking annoying and why the fuck is he even in this class—Sam claps her hands once in front of herself:

“Alrighty, let’s go lesbians!”

Sam!” Lena admonishes immediately, giving her a disapproving look.

“What?!”

“You can’t just—go and assume people’s sexuality like that.”

Sam rolls her eyes.

“It’s a meme, Jeez!” she laughs, raising her hands in a gesture of mock-surrender. “Sorry, I forgot you’re straight now.”

Lena glares at her camera in response.

“I hate you.”

Kara is… confused, to say the least.

At the same time, she tries not to be disappointed by the revelation that Lena, apparently, really is straight because it’s not like she had a shot, anyway. Lena is gorgeous and smart and funny and there is no way in hell she would ever be interested in someone like Kara, gay or otherwise.

Before she can completely fall into some sort of gay panic spiral, however, Lena’s voice pulls her back to reality.

“I apologize for Samantha here, don’t listen to anything she says.” A pause, then: “We went to high school together.”

Suddenly, everything makes a lot more sense.

“What she means to say is that I’m her best friend.”

Lena rolls her eyes, a smirk playing at her lips.

Unfortunately.

It’s clear from their interaction how close they are—it kind of reminds Kara of her and Alex, actually—and she’s unsure if having Sam here with them makes the whole thing better or worse.

“Anyway,” Sam says then, picking up a pencil from her desk. “What should our presentation be about?”

Their answers come almost immediately.

“Supergirl should be gay,” Lena suggests just as Kara says, “Why the CW is homophobic.”

Sam bursts out into laughter, pencil almost falling from her hand, while Lena smiles, eyes crinkling. Any tension that might have been present before breaks.

Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

 

Eventually, they settle on Wonder Woman’s queer backstory—and how mainstream media likes to sweep it under the rug—and Kara actually feels excited to get started because she really enjoyed the movie (and is still bitter they didn’t explicitly make her bisexual in it).

By the end of the Zoom, they have a general structure laid out and have allocated initial focus areas for each of them to do some more research on before they meet again the day after tomorrow. It’s hands down the most productive meeting for a group project she has ever been a part of, which is mostly due to Lena and her incredible organizational skills and overall preparedness. 

Over the next few days, Kara finds that they work quite well together, each of them settling into a role and able to bring something useful to their little group, even though she still feels like a third wheel every now and again with all of Sam and Lena’s little shorthands and in-jokes.

It’s clear that they know each other very well—since the very first day of middle school, Kara finds out on the third day—which helps because it shows Kara a side of Lena that, otherwise, she would have likely never seen. She seems freer around Sam, a little less serious, and Kara’s heart flutters every time Lena smiles, or laughs, or tells Sam to fuck off.

A couple of times, it’s Kara who makes her laugh with a terrible pun or some other stupid joke and it makes her entire day every single time it happens—the way Lena’s face lights up and her eyes crinkle is absolutely adorable.

Other than that, though—and presentation-related things, of course—she doesn’t really talk to Lena. She’s not intimidated by Lena herself, exactly. It’s more that she’s intimidated by the possibility of making a fool out of herself. And, like, what would she even say?

“I think you’re really cute, do you want to rent a U-Haul and adopt three cats together?”

 

It’s a Thursday about a week after their first meeting and, at the moment, it’s just her and Lena, waiting for Sam to make an appearance.

They have already exchanged the usual pleasantries and are now sitting in a little bit of an awkward silence, mostly because Kara can’t think of anything to say that isn’t “are you gay” without Sam there as a social buffer to keep conversation going.

She’s just about to ask how Lena is doing with their bio assignment—the one save topic she is pretty sure she can bring up without stumbling over her words or embarrass herself in some way—just to have something to say when her phone vibrates with a new message.

Sam [3:01PM]

Sorry guys won’t make it today but go ahead without me

Well, fuck.

For a second she considers faking technical difficulties to get out of this disaster of a situation but then Lena says, “Looks like it’s just the two of us today.” And smiles.

Kara’s stomach flips at the sight. Because Lena is smiling at her. Lena is smiling. At her. And it’s just the two of them and Lena alone is different from Lena-with-Sam—more intense, somehow—and Kara isn’t sure how to handle that without getting overwhelmed.

Kara’s about to suggest they get started so she doesn’t keep sitting there like an idiot when Lena beats her to speaking.

“Will you turn your camera on? Please?” she says, eyes big and round and green and Kara is sure she’d be able to drown in them if she tried.“I’d like to see who I’m working with.”

The words feel like a punch to the gut, like the ground has opened up underneath her and she’s in free-fall, but Lena looks so earnest that she knows she’d do anything the brunette asks her to.

So she takes a deep breath, steels herself, and, before she can think better of it, she slowly moves the cursor to the video button, fingers shaking.

Alright, here goes nothing.

She doesn’t know what she expected Lena’s reaction to be, but it’s definitely not the blinding smile on Lena’s lips as soon as Kara’s face appears on the screen.

“Hi,” she says softly, staring at the camera with such intensity that Kara has to gulp.

“Hey.”

She knows it sounds absolutely ridiculous but time seems to stand still for a moment as they just look at each other. It kind of feels like she’s in a movie—like there has just been a pivotal development, the significance of which the characters aren’t aware of until much later in the film. It’s unnerving, this feeling in her gut, and she clears her throat.

“Should we get started?”

Lena only nods.

 

Forty-five minutes later they have made some good progress on the presentation, which is great because it means that they’re ahead of schedule but absolutely devastating at the same time because she wants to keep talking to Lena—the problem is, though, that she has no clue how to start a conversation with her that isn’t about either World War II or DNA replication.

Kara has just laid out the most important character dynamics of the extended DC universe to give the brunette some more context for this entire thing when Lena tilts her head to the side, thoughtful.

“You know, I’m actually not a big fan of superhero films.”

Kara’s jaw drops.

“What?! How?! Why?

“They’re literally all the same!” Lena is quick to defend herself, setting her notebook aside.

Kara gasps in mock-offense.

“No, they’re not.”

“Name one good one. Just one.” She raises a single perfectly shaped eyebrow and Kara can feel her insides turning into jello. “And if you say Wonder Woman, I swear to God I will—”

“Legends of Tomorrow!” she blurts out, effectively interrupting Lena. “And I know it’s not a film but still! It’s super fun. And there’s queers! Loads of them! There’s actually this really cute lesbian couple who—”

Just as Kara remembers that Lena wouldn’t care about that anyway, she says, “Oh, I know about Avalance.”

Kara blinks, then blinks again. Lena knows about Avalance. Oh God, that—that must mean she’s gay, right? Right?

Because Legends is kind of niche to begin with so why would a person who—according to their own assertion—hates superhero content know about a femslash ship on a show like that?

“Sam told me about them.”

Kara’s gay bubble bursts immediately.

Of course. Of course she would have heard of them via her lesbian best friend. That makes way more sense than her being gay and having discovered them through the lesbian Tumblr grapevine or something like that.

“Well, uh, you should—you should give the show a shot. Maybe. If you want to,” she rambles, trying her best to hide her disappointment.

“I just might,” Lena says with a wink and Kara almost dies on the spot.

 

Sam doesn’t say anything when Kara has her camera turned on for the next meeting. Well, she doesn’t say anything to Kara, anyway. But Lena’s phone vibrates a moment after Kara’s appearance and, when she reads what is presumably a text message, her eyes immediately snap up to her best friend—who only wiggles her eyebrows in response.

She’s trying hard not to read too much into it but Lena’s phone vibrates again right after she laughed at one of Kara’s terrible puns and it becomes very clear to Kara that they are having a conversation she is not privy to—about her, most likely.

Her heart sinks. They’ve been getting along great—she was just starting to consider them all friends, even—and now she’s fighting the urge to end the Zoom because she has the strong suspicion that they are secretly making fun of her for something.

Lena wouldn’t though, would she? Or maybe she does think Kara is weird after their one-on-one session the other day. Did she say something embarrassing she doesn’t remember?

There are no more text messages for the rest of their meeting and both Lena and Sam don’t behave any differently toward her than they normally do. Still, though, she can’t shake the feeling that there is something she is missing.

 

She’s sitting at dinner with Alex and Eliza later that night when her phone buzzes with a new message and she’s so surprised by the name on her screen that she almost drops it into her bolognese.

When she catches her eyes across the table a moment later, Alex’s grin is nothing but shit-eating.

“Who’s Lena?” she asks innocently, twirling a bunch of spaghetti around her fork before shoving them into her mouth.

Kara’s answer is quick.

“No one.”

Too quick, judging by the look her sister gives her.

“Sure, Jan.”

Kara rolls her eyes.

“I’m doing a group project with her for one of my classes.”

“Is she cute?” Alex asks and, immediately, Kara can feel the blush creeping onto her cheeks. Damnit.

Alex’s fork clatters onto her plate.

“Oh my God! Is she the one from the TikTok?” Kara’s pointed silence seems to be all the confirmation she needs. “She is!”

“Leave me alone,” Kara grumbles before shoving another forkful of pasta into her mouth.

 

She checks the message as soon as she’s back in her room.

Lena [7:11PM]

Ava Sharpe is literally me

It’s not what she expected, not at all, but she smiles anyway. Lena actually started watching Legends, it seems. Kara’s heart flutters. She doesn’t want to think about exactly why it means so much, why Lena taking the time to check out something that is important to Kara—that Kara recommended to her—literally makes her grin like an idiot.

It must mean something though, right? Because Lena hates superhero content. She’s said it herself.

Before she has time to overthink this whole thing, she quickly types out a reply.

Kara [7:23PM]

Ava is great haha

Do you like the show?

Lena’s answer comes almost immediately.

Lena [7:24PM]

Well, I binged a season and a half in 3 days so… I’m afraid I do

 

Kara [7:24PM]

I told you it’s amazing!

 

Lena [7:25PM]

I don’t know about “amazing” but it’s definitely fun. Thanks for recommending it 😊

 

They start texting more and more after that. Talking about the show leads to Kara sending her a link to another superhero series she might enjoy, which leads to Lena sending her some weird French movie to check out in return, which—somehow—leads to them watching Ocean’s 8 together on Hulu Watch Party and before Kara knows it, they’re texting pretty much every day.

Talking to Lena is surprisingly easy once she gets over the initial anxiety it gives her. Yes, her heart still skips a beat every time she gets a message from the brunette but, soon enough, she can reply without second-guessing, re-phrasing, and micro-analyzing everything she writes a hundred times over.

She has no intention of ever mentioning—or, God forbid, acting on—her little crush, though. Because not only is Lena straight but also way out of her league. She's smart and funny and absolutely gorgeous so why would she ever be into someone like Kara. Even if she was into girls.

No. They're friends and that's enough. More than enough.

It has to be.

 

The email comes halfway through the second week of November.

With a waterproof track-and-trace system in place and the vaccine development looking promising, the university has decided to let students back on campus for the spring semester.

Kara is feeling somewhere between thrilled and terrified, not only because she'll actually be moving out for the first time in her life.

Being on campus means being in the same place as Lena instead of having her three states to the East. Being on campus means she could possibly meet Lena. In person.

She's not sure she's ready for that.

 

Alex and her drive down in Alex’s beaten up old truck a few weeks later, windows down and Taylor Swift blasting from the speakers.

“So when are you gonna meet Lena?” Alex asks when they stop for food at a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere. The elder Danvers has got a shit-eating grin on her face as she dips a fry into the mountain of ketchup on her plate.

Briefly, Kara considers throwing one of her own fries right at her sister’s head but thinks better of it and pops it into her mouth instead, chewing slowly because, really, she doesn’t have an answer.

She wants to meet Lena, she does, but at the same time… she really doesn’t. Because the prospect is absolutely terrifying. Thrilling, but terrifying—and she genuinely isn’t sure her heart would be able to take it.

“Come on, Kara. You’ve been talking to this girl all day every day,” Alex pushes as if she isn’t absolutely useless in the dating department as well.

“We’re friends,” Kara shrugs, picking up another french fry.

Alex snorts.

“You’re idiots.”

 

She actually doesn’t have any classes with Lena in the spring semester, which, although not surprising, is a little disappointing. Sam is in her sociology seminar, though, so that’s something at least.

Lena and her still text, though. In fact, they text every single day without fail, talking about everything and nothing and Kara can almost physically feel herself falling with every word she types. The easy banter and teasing jokes that she would almost think of as flirtatious if not for the fact that Lena’s straight don’t help, either, and she catches herself smiling down at her phone like a lovesick fool more often than not.

And maybe that’s the reason why she hasn't made a conscious effort to actually meet up with Lena in person in the past three weeks. Because she doesn’t want to embarrass herself. Because they’ve got a good thing going and she has no interest in fucking it up. Because she knows that, if she sees her in person, she will have to acknowledge the fact that she has a giant crush on the other girl.

(For the record, Lena doesn’t try either and she’s fine with that. Maybe.)

 

Her phone vibrates with a text right as she's finished one of her assignments for the next day and she fully expects it to be Lena, asking if she's had a chance to check out the YouTube video about the best desserts in every state she sent her earlier. It isn’t.

Sam [2:48PM]

Dairy Queen. 4PM.

While it is a little bit of a disappointment, the message is not totally out of the blue. Sam mentioned ice cream in class earlier and Kara, ever the ice cream enthusiast, immediately craved some, so of course she’s not gonna say no—and she’s sure Sam knows that.

She’s walking down the street with a spring in her step an hour later, debating the merits of choc chip mint versus Oreo because picking a flavor is a serious task that needs to be well thought through. She is so deep in thought that she doesn't see the girl sitting next to Sam on the bench outside the store until she's barely a dozen feet away. She freezes.

It’s Lena, head thrown back mid-laughter, and—fuck.

The brunette is even more radiant in person—so much so that, for a moment, the sight of her alone takes Kara’s breath away and, naturally, her first instinct is to turn around and run for the hills.

But she doesn’t get a chance to because—

“Kara!” Sam shouts, waving toward her in an exaggerated motion. Well, there goes any chance at fleeing.

Her legs shake as she walks closer to them and, for a moment, she’s not sure she’ll be able to make it. Because Lena is sitting on a bench less than ten feet away from her. Because Lena is looking at her. Because Lena is real.

Also, Lena is frowning.

“What are you doing here?” she asks, utterly astonished, once Kara reaches them and it’s immediately clear that—much like Kara—she had no idea she’d be joining them.

Damn you, Sam.

The woman in question only grins at Kara when she looks at her with an expression that screams “what the actual fuck, you dick” and her heart skips a beat at the sudden realization that Sam knows she has a crush on Lena. (Because she definitely, one hundred percent does have one. There’s no doubt now that she’s seen her in person.)

And if Sam knows… what are the chances Lena knows as well?

Sam will have told her, right? They’re best friends. Best friends tell each other everything, everybody knows that.

Shit. Fuck. Shit. She is in so much trouble.

She has the sudden urge to pull Sam aside and ask her what the hell she’s playing at because having a crush on a straight girl is bad enough, she doesn’t need her friend meddling in her business as well. (Also what the hell happened to lesbian solidarity?)

When she looks back at Lena, her expression has settled into an easy smile and some of her nerves dissipate. If she is aware of Kara’s crush, she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, which is a relief, at least.

It takes a slightly impatient “shall we?” from Sam to remember that she’s here to eat ice cream, not to stare at Lena—but then again who can blame her, because Lena looks absolutely gorgeous in her simple skin tight jeans and knitted pullover combo.

On their way in, Lena holds the door open for her, orders a cookie dough Blizzard with that low, Irish lilt and insists on paying for Kara’s own Oreo one as well with another smile.

It all happens in a blur, Kara not processing any of it, because her brain is still hung up on the fact that Lena is right there in front of her in the first place.

They settle on a picnic bench on the quad because the weather is nice, Lena and Sam on one side of the table and Kara on the other, her and Lena’s knees pressed together. A rush of lightning goes through her every time the brunette shifts in her seat.

There's conversation—Kara knows because she can see Lena's lips moving—but she barely participates beyond the occasional word of agreement (to what, she doesn't know) because it’s still surreal, having Lena actually in front of her.

It's definitely something she could get used to, though.

 

She is woken up by her phone a couple days later and accepts the call with her eyes still closed.

“‘lo?”

“Am I speaking to Kara Danvers?” a woman’s voice says, and Kara mutters her confirmation as she slowly sits up in bed, running the hand that’s not currently holding her phone through her sleep-tousled hair.

“I am calling from campus health. Samantha Arias has tested positive for COVID-19 and identified you as a close contact.”

All at once, Kara is wide awake.

“What?”

“In order to ensure that this doesn’t turn into a bigger virus cluster we need you to quarantine for the next ten days.” 

Confronted with these news, Kara is genuinely speechless. God, it’s way too early for this.

“Miss Danvers? Do you understand?”

Kara hums her assent, still too rattled to actually speak.

“Our quarantine facilities are pretty packed at the moment so—given that you both test negative initially—you will likely have to share with another student, although social distancing in the room will still be possible and we encourage you to ensure sufficient ventilation at all times.”

Great. As if things arent’t bad enough already, she’ll be locked in a room with a stranger for almost two weeks.

“Okay.”

“Please pack your things immediately and then check in at Phillips Hall within the next two hours. We’ll take it from there.”

 

She’s at Phillips an hour and twenty-six minutes later, tested and ready to meet her new roommate for the foreseeable future. It’s not that she’s mad at Sam, exactly, but she is a little pissed that she is being forced to spend time with a complete stranger in close quarters while she waits to find out if she has contracted a deadly virus.

What if they’re an absolute asshole? What if they don’t get along at all? She’s not sure she’ll be able to survive ten days of tense silence.

Well, at least she’ll still be able to text Lena. Lena, who she hasn’t seen since their surprise Dairy Queen outing. Lena who hasn’t replied to her message all day. Lena who—

—is sitting right there on the bed in the far corner of the room that Kara just walked into.

She stops dead in her tracks.

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no no no no no.

She’ll be locked in a room with the girl she has had a giant crush on for the last couple of months. Maybe sharing a room with some asshole she doesn’t get along with wouldn’t have been that bad after all, if there’s still time to switch?

Lena looks up then, their eyes meet, and, for a second, an expression of absolute horror flashes over the brunette’s face before her mouth sets in a hard line.

“I’m going to kill Sam.”

 

Things are pretty awkward for the next couple of hours, mostly because Kara has no idea what to say. Lena seems absolutely furious, silently hammering away at her laptop’s keyboard. She hasn’t said a word to Kara the entire time and it’s starting to scare the blonde. She doesn’t know how to handle Lena like this. Should she give her space? Try to console her? Calm her down? Distract her?

It doesn’t help that—despite having talked to each other pretty much every day for the past few months—they have never really spent an extended period of time together face-to-face.

She has just resigned herself to the fact that the next ten days will be the most awkward period of her life—and that she'll never talk to the other girl ever again after this—when the sound of Lena’s voice makes her almost jump out of her skin.

“Kara?”

“Mhm?”

“I’m sorry.”

Kara’s forehead wrinkles in confusion.

“For what?”

“Being a bitch. I know it’s not your fault that we’re stuck here so you shouldn’t be the one to take the rap. I’m just so—”

“It’s fine, I get it,” she says as she gets up from her bed and crosses the room to sit on the edge of Lena’s, just out of reach.

“Let’s just make the best of it, okay? Like—like a ten-day sleepover. We can watch all those movies you’ve never seen. Build a pillow fort, maybe. I'll even let you braid my hair.”

Lena chuckles at that, some of the tension easing out of her body, and she slides her hand across the mattress, palm up. “I’m glad it’s you.”

“Me too,” Kara says, hesitating only a moment before wrapping her fingers around Lena’s own.

 

They quickly fall into a rhythm after that. Mornings are spent studying for their respective classes, next to each other at the two desks they have pushed together on one side of the room. At 1PM they break for lunch, which they usually eat by the window, and then do whatever they feel like doing for the rest of the day. A couple of times, Kara has managed to convince Lena to work out with her or they try to make some headway on the puzzle that has somehow miraculously materialized in their room.

Kara finds out that Lena likes to read and Kara likes sitting next to her while she reads, which eventually turns into Lena reading to her, even though Kara couldn’t care less about the plot of the book. She listens to Lena's voice, quiet and melodic, words washing over her like a wave.

Initially they sit next to each other on the couch when they do it, but, eventually, it turns into Lena’s legs swung over Kara’s thighs which turns into Lena’s head in Kara’s lap which turns into Kara’s fingers running through Lena’s hair.

All strictly platonic, of course.

 

Before they know it, they’re halfway through their time in quarantine, which, altogether, has been far more enjoyable than anticipated, not least because of the company.

“What do you want to watch?” Lena asks, leaning over her laptop on the desk and staring intently at the Hulu home screen. It’s a thing they’ve done almost every night, watch a movie together sharing the one throw blanket they have here. (Which feels like such a couple-y thing to do that Kara has to remind herself several times every night—on top of the dozens of reminders during the day—that she and Lena are friends and friends only because Lena isn’t gay.)

“I don’t know, you pick,” Kara replies, rummaging through the snacks she’s had Nia sneak them in via the nice receptionist downstairs.

“How about Happiest Season. Or Saving Face? I need something rom-comy today.”

Kara almost drops the bag of Sourpatch Kids in her hand, turning around so fast that her neck cracks in protest.

“You… watch lesbian movies?”

“Of course I do. I didn’t get almost disowned by my own mother to suffer through more heterosexual nonsense,” Lena deadpans as if that’s the stupidest question she has ever been asked and—

Wait.

Wait.

“I—I thought you were straight?”

The question comes out with some force, almost like an accusation, and Kara feels like she is seconds away from passing out. Is she having a stroke right now? Is this what it feels like to lose your mind? Maybe she’s hallucinating.

But then Lena laughs, loud and clear, and looks at Kara with such genuine bewilderment in her eyes that Kara knows this is very much real.

“What in the hell gave you that idea?”

“Sam said—”

Lena cocks her head to the side, one corner of her mouth pulled up in a lazy half-smile.

“Didn’t I tell you not to listen to anything Sam says?”

“Yeah, but—”

She takes a step closer, gently easing the bag Kara’s holding onto with a vice-like grip out of her hands.

“I’m a lesbian, Kara.”

Oh.

Suddenly, it’s like all air has left Kara’s body. She can’t think, can’t even breathe. All she can do is stand there, open-mouthed, and stare at the other woman. The cogs in her head are turning and turning and turning but she can’t think of anything to say because—because this changes everything. Maybe.

“Are you and Sam…” she finally tries, unsure if she even wants to finish that sentence because maybe Lena being gay and with Sam is worse than Lena being straight and single. Luckily, she doesn’t have to.

“God no.”

“Good.”

She says it reflexively, without thinking, and regrets the word as soon as it has left her mouth. Lena, meanwhile, lifts a single eyebrow, that damn half-smile still firmly in place.

“Good?”

Fuck.

“I mean—” Kara fumbles, trying to think of an explanation. Something. Anything. She comes up empty.

Lena’s expression turns into a full-on smirk at Kara’s obviously flustered state as she takes another step toward the blonde.

“Yes?”

“I—”

God, what the hell is she supposed to say? Good because I have a giant crush on you? No, thank you. No way she is going to open that can of worms when they are stuck here together for another four days.

Looks like she only has one choice: evasion.

“Let’s go with Saving Face,” she says before turning to grab her laptop off the bed, completely glossing over the entire conversation they have just had.

 

The rest of the night isn’t tense, exactly, but it isn’t quite normal, either. Instead of being cuddled together on the couch, they sit at a respectable two-feet distance, both apparently focused intently on the movie they already know as if they’ve never seen it before.

In reality, though, Kara hasn’t heard a single line, thoughts running a mile a minute. Why does she always manage to fuck things up in the most spectacular way? It really isn’t fair. She doesn’t mean to, has nothing but the best of intentions at all times—and still…

She keeps stealing glances at Lena out of the corner of her eye, hoping for an indication that she isn’t actually mad at her, that she hasn’t ruined everything with her stupid feelings—that, if nothing else, they can still be friends, at least—but the brunette keeps just stoically staring ahead, unmoving.

It’s not until Vivian leaves Wil behind to go to Paris that she speaks again and the sound of her voice—low and husky—makes Kara almost jump straight off the couch.

“Do you know that Sam has a TikTok account?” Lena says almost absentmindedly and Kara is so confused for a second that she forgets to panic.

“And she told me about this thing called ‘lesbian TikTok.’”

Kara still has no idea where this is going and Lena is still staring straight ahead, shoulders tense.

“And then she showed me this video by someone called karaoked a while ago,” Lena continues. She turns her head then, looking Kara straight in the eyes as she asks with pointed faux-innocence, “Ring any bells?”

Kara’s heart drops straight out of her asshole.

Because Lena saw the TikTok. Because Lena has known this entire time. Because—because fuck.

This is bad. This is very, very bad.

“I can explain,” Kara blurts out, desperate to make this right, to make Lena understand.

“You don’t ne—”

She jumps up, walking over to the opposite side of the room and starts pacing aimlessly.

“Yes, I have to. I’m really sorry if I have made you uncomfortable, that was not my intention. I just—I saw your face in that Zoom class and you just looked so gorgeous and I am very gay and—I didn’t even mean to post it, really, but then Dr. Olsen appeared and I accidentally pressed the button and then just kind of… forgot about it, I guess. And then I obviously thought you were straight for the longest time so it’s not like it was gonna go anywhere anyway but—”

“I’m going to kiss you now,” Lena—who is suddenly standing right in front of her—interrupts, and Kara’s mouth snaps shut at once.

She can’t reply, can’t do anything but stare at Lena as she reaches out, carefully places her hand on Kara’s cheek, and pulls her face close.

They’re only inches apart—Kara can feel the other woman’s breath on her lips—and she shivers, looks at Lena, gulps.

“Alright?” Lena asks softly, eyebrows knitting together in concern.

Kara still can’t say anything, can’t get her mouth and her brain to cooperate enough in order to form actual words.

So, instead of answering, she closes what little distance remains between them and presses her lips to Lena’s, who reciprocates immediately.

 

They post the TikTok the next morning. It’s Lena’s idea, actually, because she knows Sam will absolutely lose her shit when she sees it—and because lesbian TikTok deserves to know.

The video is simple: first it’s just a shot of Kara herself, much like in the original video, then one of Lena—in flesh and blood this time rather then on a screen—and then it’s both of them together, Lena snuggled into Kara’s side while Kara presses a kiss to her temple, two words along the top:

Surprise shawty!