The most interesting part of DEO training wasn’t the weapons, Alex decided early on. As badass as they were, as powerful as they made her feel for once in her life, there was something better. And no, it wasn’t the labs either, though the sheer amount of amazing technology available to her now has definitely rekindled her love of science out of the ashes of her partying days.
But the best part, the thing that makes Alex feel most confident in her skin, is the interrogation techniques.
She likes to pretend that it’s because by using them she can get to the bottom of a situation without resorting to more than the threat of violence, but that’s not the whole truth. Maybe if she were a better person, as pure and good hearted as Kara, it would be. But she’s only human, and there’s more to it than that. There’s always more to the story in her life.
Being able to read someone with a glance, being able to take in the slightest twitches of muscle, the slightest flickers of their eyes, even the barest hitch in their breathing, all of it gives Alex a rush she can’t get from anything else, not even attacking the latest alien threat with nothing between herself and danger but a few pieces of metal and her own skill.
She thinks it’s probably because anything she can do physically is so far overshadowed by what Kara is capable of, even before she’d started using her powers. Sure Alex has mastered three different forms of unarmed combat, can strip an assault rifle blindfolded, and is even trained in emergency piloting of military helicopters, but Kara could almost level a building just by blowing on it. It’s sometimes hard to feel proud of her relatively meager accomplishments in comparison to that.
But for all of Kara’s many, many skills, Alex knows she’s far better at reading people than her sister is. Kara believes the best of people, and while she’s a great judge of character, there’s more to people than that. Alex has fought threats without a single feeling of ill-will, just a determination to protect the world and her sister. It’s why Kara had never picked up on her lies about the DEO, though another trained agent probably would have. Kara sees the motivation, but not the details. Not the way Alex can.
The confidence in her skill finally gives Alex confidence in her life as well, and between that and being able to tell when someone is attracted to her (those clues are definitely easy to pick up on when you’re trained to noticed even the slightest dilation of someone’s pupils) she starts to hit the dating scene of National City in a way she hasn’t since college. She’s careful of the bars she frequents, always wary of backsliding into a downward spiral, but now that she has something about herself she can actually feel pride in, maybe she can finally figure out why dating had never really worked for her before.
It doesn’t take long before she realizes at least one of the major issues. Reading others means taking complete stock of your own reactions as well, and it doesn’t take long for Alex to realize that men just aren’t doing it for her. She keeps getting distracted by the other women in the bar, though she hasn’t yet tried to flirt with any of them instead of the men. That’ll take a little more courage than she’s built up so far.
In true Danvers form, she studies. She works through her emotions and her past, detailing everything that should have been a sign, everything that should have tipped her off. There’s more than she’d expected, and for a few days the self-recrimination keeps her away from the city’s nightlife. Eventually a talk with Kara clears that up, the two bonding over Kara coming out as Supergirl at the same time Alex comes out of a closet of her own. It’s not the same, but it’s another way for them to understand and support each other, and that’s all Alex needs to get back out there.
This time she goes to lesbian bars instead, marveling at just how different the experience is. She’s always been wanted, always gotten offers, but now they’re offers she wants to accept. So she does.
She’s always safe, both her past and her training keeping her from making any stupid decisions, but for the first time she’s enjoying herself, enjoying dating. Even enjoying more than that. Being wanted now makes her feel good about herself, boosts the confidence she’s already managed to build about herself. For the first time, things feel right.
And after a while, she starts doing the approaching, instead of waiting for someone to seek her out. Her training means she can spot who will and won’t be open to her advances, keeping things from being uncomfortable for either of them. It also means she can usually tell who is interested in a shorter fling than anything longer, and as much as Alex wants the greater emotional intimacy of a deep relationship, she isn’t ready to hide her job from someone like that. She’s seen the strain on the faces of some of her colleagues, the way the constant lies become a drain. It’s not fair to anyone involved, but the secrecy of their job is important, and every agent knows that.
So instead Alex dates around a little, even gets a little bit of a reputation. Between the leather jackets and her bike, the single minded way she throws herself into things (including in the bedroom), and the caring way she treats even the shortest of flings, people talk. People notice her. And surprisingly enough, she doesn’t even mind. She’s been the cool but nerdy one, she’s been the badass, but she’s never been the person people are genuinely interested in knowing. High school was small and limited the pool of friends, and with Kara coming to Earth and Alex’s less than stellar response, things had been a bit tough at times. Now she’s in a new circle of friends and acquaintances, more sure of who she is and what she wants, and that’s more freeing than she ever could have expected.
Lucy Lane is completely unreadable. For someone like Alex, someone trained to read the minor cues a person naturally gives off, the complete lack of any from the Major raises red flags. She’s completely in control, revealing nothing she doesn’t want to, and Alex is determined to figure her out.
The first clue, surprisingly enough, comes when Alex decides to head to one of her favorite bars to unwind. The stress of Kara losing her powers, of finding out who Hank really was, and even the sheer amount of time spent reassuring Kara after the earthquake and resulting deaths, all of it had grated on Alex far more than she’d let on. A night out was exactly what she needed.
She’s on her second drink, looking casually around the bar to decide whether there’s anyone she’s interested in spending a night or two with, when she sees her. Major Lucy Lane, leaning against the bar with a smile on her face, looking more open than Alex has ever seen her.
Without conscious thought Alex heads across the room, wanting to see for herself whether this version of Lucy in any easier to read. She can already guess some of the reason why Lucy is so closed off, the repeal of DADT is still very recent, and even with an influential General for a father any indication of being interested in women could be a serious career killer. In an environment like that, being able to hide what you’re thinking and feeling would be a necessary skill.
Not that her presence means she’s interested in women at all, Alex knows. There are always straight women here, taking advantage of a relatively man free zone for a night of drinks and nothing more. It’s one reason this bar is one of Alex’s favorites, in fact. It draws a surprisingly varied crowd of women, both gay and straight, and even if she isn’t looking for someone to spend a few nights or weeks with, she’s almost guaranteed to find good conversation.
“Come here often?” Alex asks as she slides onto the stool next to Lucy, tone carefully teasing. It wouldn’t do for Lucy to think that’s actually her best pickup line after all.
“Considering I lived in Metropolis until last week, it’s not one of my usual spots, no,” Lucy says, smile slipping slightly as she turns to face Alex. The mask is back, the smile empty and vacant, and Alex is thrown. “You?”
“I’m in here often enough,” Alex admits, motioning to the bartender when there’s a break in customers. Kelly is one of the few who knows her ‘work in a lab’ sometimes includes field work after Alex had helped defuse a tense situation, and while it’s a highly edited story it had earned the friendship of the entire staff. She won’t let them give her a discount, but it does mean they remember her drink of choice.
“Apparently,” Lucy agrees with a tilt of her head when the drink is delivered, eyes studying the interaction with interest. “I wouldn’t have pegged you for the type.”
“You should know better than to assume, Major,” Alex says as she sips at her drink, one eyebrow raised challengingly.
“I meant I assumed you’d spend your evenings at home,” Lucy says as she returns the look. “The company you choose to keep there is your own business.”
The words are fairly innocent, delivered without any change to Lucy’s demeanor or body language, but there’s something in the tone that hints at indecency. Not enough for Alex to be sure she’d heard it, not without the other clues she’s so used to seeing from someone. But enough to once again push her slightly off balance.
“And what about you? Do your evenings often find you home, or does Metropolis know you as well as National City knows me?” It’s not the smooth line Alex would usually prefer, but then she doesn’t know whether she really wants to be flirting with Lucy Lane of all people. She’s just trying to crack the surface shell that constantly surrounds the woman after all, and while Alex will use any method available to her once she’s set her mind on something, flirting seems different somehow.
“A lady never kisses and tells, Danvers. But it’s late, and I’m still on East coast time. I’ll see you around,” Lucy says with a wink as she finishes the last of her drink before standing. And if Alex watches her leave, it obviously doesn’t mean anything.
Just like it doesn’t mean anything when she agrees to go home with the next woman who comes up to her with a cheesy line and soft smile.
Lucy gets a job at CatCo, and Alex decides the universe hates her. Sure, after the way General Lane had insulted Lucy’s life decisions in front of half his command and several DEO agents she hadn’t really expected the woman to follow him back to Metropolis, but she also hadn’t expected her to get a job at the same place her ex-boyfriend worked. Or the way that made her stomach churn uncomfortably.
Alex is used to stopping by CatCo to see Kara, has visited many times over the years to bring her sister lunch or some other snack when the workload gets heavy but Kara needs to eat. She’s a fairly familiar sight, and she’s so used to showing up that she doesn’t consider the fact that Lucy will be there until she’s already in the elevator.
And it’s not nerves that have her shifting her weight uncomfortably in the elevator; she’ll swear that to anyone who asks. Lucy doesn’t even work on the same floor as Kara, not that that matters. She’s just being ridiculous, so she tries not to think about anything but making sure Kara is doing okay and has a chance to eat the lunch Alex is bringing her.
It’s not until Kara has shot her a look of gratitude and tucked into the sandwich Alex brought that she relaxes, her sister’s presence the most calming thing she knows. Of course, as soon as she lets her guard down she hears a familiar voice behind her, making her tense right back up.
“Alex, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Lucy teases, seeming somehow lighter now that she’s no longer burdened by the weight of her uniform and the responsibilities that come with it. But as Alex turns she can see that even though Lucy is more open than she has been, there’s still a level of reserve. And that keeps Alex feeling challenged, still determined to find out what’s beneath the mask.
“Had to bring Kara something to eat, she gets whiny if you leave her too long without food,” Alex says, trying for nonchalant despite the nerves simmering in her stomach. With Lucy in front of her she can’t avoid admitting that’s what they are, but she hopes it’s not obvious to anyone else.
“Well, we can’t have that,” Lucy says with a laugh, and Alex forces a smile in return. “Kara, I have those contracts for Miss Grant, is she free to look at them?” she asks next, her eyes focused on Alex’s face with a searching look.
“Yeah, she’s expecting you,” Kara says with a smile and nod, and Alex is grateful for the reprieve as Lucy heads into the glass office. “Wow, you and Lucy huh?” she asks when the door closes, staring up at Alex with an innocent look that Alex doesn’t buy for a second.
“Did someone spike that sandwich, or are you just imagining things?” Alex asks with an attempt at a laugh, wondering when Kara had gotten so astute.
“Alex, half the floor knows you’re crushing on Lucy after that little show,” Kara points out, tearing off a piece of her food to pop in her mouth with a smirk. “You should ask her out.”
“We’re not talking about this here,” Alex says firmly as she notices Winn staring at them, glaring until he looks away. It takes about half a second, and she mentally pats herself on the back knowing she still has it.
“Then I’ll bring it up every movie night until you do.” Kara’s smirk hasn’t faded in the least, and Alex can’t help the long suffering sigh that escapes. There’s no way out of this without either talking about it or asking Lucy out, and she knows it.
“What if she says no?” Alex asks quietly after looking around to make sure there’s no one listening, the other desks a good distance away and Lucy still in deep conversation with Cat Grant inside the office. It’s a valid fear, without the cues Alex is so used to there’s a very real chance of rejection, one she hasn’t really had to face yet. And really, she’d like to keep it that way.
“Then I buy the ice cream for a week,” Kara says with a shrug, not really reassuring Alex in the slightest. “But you won’t know unless you ask.”
“You’re buying ice cream for a week anyway,” Alex says, narrowing her eyes at Kara even though she knows it won’t work. “For causing me emotional stress when I don’t need it.”
“If that was the criteria, you’d never buy ice cream again,” Kara laughs, finishing her food and turning back to check on the meeting going on behind them. “I think they’ll be done soon, you could totally hang around and ask her now.”
“Not happening,” Alex says, already starting to head for the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow for movie night. Don’t forget to stock up on the ice cream.”
She knows Kara is pouting at her as she walks away, but if she doesn’t turn it can’t get to her. She’ll decide what she’s going to do about the situation later. Probably while she’s buying the ice cream for tomorrow.
Alex doesn’t mean to end up back at the lesbian bar that night, and she’s definitely not hoping to see Lucy there again, but that’s exactly where she ends up, carefully perched in the booth that gives the best view of the door. There’s no way to know whether she’ll come back to the bar, let alone whether she’ll be back tonight, but Alex can’t help hoping. She’d all but promised Kara she’d at least ask Lucy out, and so despite her nerves that’s exactly what she’s going to do.
It bugs her that she doesn’t know whether Lucy will accept or not, that there’s a level of uncertainty to the offer. She hadn’t realized just how much she’d come to depend on the safety net that comes with her training until she found a situation where it didn’t help. And the fact that what she did know of Lucy was beyond impressive wasn’t great on that front either. It’s intimidating, if Alex is being honest. And that’s not something she’s used to feeling anymore.
When Lucy shows up, Alex almost chokes on her drink. The last time she’d seen her here, Lucy had been wearing a fairly conservative outfit, casual jeans and a button up shirt that flattered her figure without seeming too dressy. Tonight she’s in skin tight jeans that hug every curve, and a tank top that shows off the muscles of her arms, which is more than enough to keep Alex too distracted to notice the fact that Lucy is approaching until she’s sliding into the booth across from her.
“You’re staring,” Lucy says with a smirk, and Alex is caught by the sudden urge to kiss it off her face.
“Lost in thought,” Alex tries to deflect. It’s technically the truth even, though the thoughts going through her mind would hardly save the situation if she admitted to them.
“I caught that. Looked like some very pleasant thoughts indeed.” The smirk hasn’t faded, and Alex’s mouth goes a little dry at Lucy’s tone. She still can’t get a read from the look on Lucy’s face, but from the way her voice sounds, that doesn’t matter.
“Wouldn’t you like to find out,” Alex manages to say in what’s almost a level tone, picking up her drink to take a sip and hide the waver in her voice.
“Actually, I would,” Lucy admits, leaning forward across the table and fixing Alex with a very direct stare. “Between the looks you’ve been giving me every time we talk and the fact Kara all but begged me to at least come here tonight, though she wouldn’t say why, I get the feeling finding out what’s going through your head might end up being very enjoyable for us both.”
Alex’s head whirls from more than the alcohol at the direct way Lucy has all but propositioned her, and it takes no time at all to decide waiting around the bar would be a very stupid decision. “You have no idea,” Alex breathes as she stands, daring to hold out a hand to help Lucy up.
“Then I guess you’d better show me,” Lucy says as she takes the offered hand and rises gracefully to her feet, leading Alex to the door with the slightest of tugs.
And it turns out, at the end of the night, that Alex’s absolute favorite thing she’s gotten from the DEO is the endurance training, which absolutely comes in handy.