Of course Lena had her suspicions. It was hard not to, especially after Kara idly mentioned flying to her office. (‘On a bus.’ Sure).
Admittedly it had taken a little time for her to notice. All things considered, assuming someone was Supergirl was rarely an immediate assumption. Still, Lena found herself watching Kara, taking in more and more details.
It wasn’t hard. Kara had a face she could stare at for hours.
And there were rather undeniable similarities. The hair, the eyes, the way her cheeks creased when she smiled…
After noticing that, the hardest part to believe that Supergirl would be so bad at keeping her secret.
Sometimes it was small things. Like when they were out together; when it came to interviews it was often easier to talk over a snack. If Lena was taking a break from work anyway, they might as well go to a coffee shop.
Lena had meant to ask Kara out, the first time she suggested it. She wasn’t entirely sure Kara had noticed. Still, their coffee breaks were becoming something of a routine; Kara could get an update on L-Corp’s progress, and Lena could spend time with her.
But there was the occasional interruption. Being out in public as a Luthor had that effect.
“Thanks for coffee,” Kara said.
“You’re welcome,” Lena said. “I enjoy coming out with you.”
“So do I,” Kara beamed.
Lena regarded her, trying to read Kara’s expression. It was hard to be sure if-
“We don’t want you here,” some stranger was suddenly standing by their table.
Kara stiffened, but his eyes were firmly on Lena. Lena tensed, biting back a weary sigh. She was used to this, she just hated that it had to infringe on her time with Kara.
“We all know you’re just like your brother,” he said. “I don’t know how you can just sit there and pretend like-”
“Hey!” Kara said, standing up.
She managed to slip into the gap between the table and the hassler, hiding Lena from him.
“How can you sit there and pretend?” he demanded.
“She’s a good person,” Kara said. “She doesn’t deserve to be treated like this.”
Something in Lena felt lighter, to hear how Kara immediately defended her. Kara stood there, staunchly, barely flinching.
If it was anyone else, Lena would have tugged them away, and tried to quietly leave. It was just easier. Still, she knew that wouldn’t work on Kara; Kara hated to do nothing.
“Then you’re just as guilty,” the man said.
That was when he swung at Kara. Almost immediately he yelped, pulling back and cradling his fist.
Kara looked back, instinctively making sure Lena was ok. Lena raised her eyebrows. It was two long seconds before Kara’s eyes widened, and she gave a very fake-sounding gasp of pain, lifting one hand to cover a spot a good few centimetres below where she’d been hit.
“Ow!” Kara said, a little too late. “That hurt! That really- That hurt me. I was hurt by that. Normal people get hurt when you hit them and I’m, uh…”
It wouldn’t have been convincing, even if she’d reacted immediately.
The hassler gave a last venomous look at Kara, before being dissuaded by her glare. He hastily backed away, hand still hurt. Then, cheerily, Kara turned to sit back down.
There was every sign she’d forgotten about what she’d claimed was a painful spot.
“Are you ok?” Lena said.
“I’m fine- uh, I’ve had worse,” Kara said.
“Really?” Lena said.
“Oh, um, yeah,” Kara said. “With, uh, sports. Sport stuff.”
“You don’t seem very sporty,” Lena said. “Abs aside.”
“I’m full of surprises,” Kara gave a fake laugh.
Well, ‘surprises’ would be pushing it. Lena had decided not to be insulted, though; it was clear thinking she was stupid enough to fall for it wasn’t anything personal.
“Some steel under that sunny exterior,” Lena said.
Kara gave an uncertain smile.
“Get it?” Lena said, after a few seconds. “Some steel.”
“Um, what?” Kara said.
Lena sighed. “Never mind.”
Lena wasn’t sure how she was meant to address it. Part of her didn’t want to just come out and say ‘Hi, I know you’re Supergirl,’ but more and more it seemed like the only way.
Being blunt would only serve to be crass.
Still, that meant the easiest way was for Kara to actually admit that she was Supergirl. Lena couldn’t quite say if Kara had already done that, it was very hard to gauge what was meant to be an admission, and what was just poor secret-keeping ability.
After a couple of weeks though it inevitably became apparent that what she thought was an admission was just another bad cover story.
And then there was the time Lena had visited Kara’s apartment, and Supergirl had answered the door. Lena had stared for a few seconds.
“Kara’s- um, Kara’s busy,” ‘Supergirl’ said. “She’ll be back in a minute, she just asked me to- um, iron her, uh, plants.”
“Iron her plants?” Lena echoed.
“Water!” Supergirl said. “Water her plants. Iron her clothes.”
“You do chores now?” Lena said.
“For friends,” Supergirl said.
Lena had almost been tempted to stay and watch a superhero ironing plants, but she’d decided to leave. She returned in a couple of minutes where, unsurprisingly, a more casually dressed Kara Danvers had suddenly returned to answer the door and Supergirl was nowhere to be seen.
The incident in the coffee shop hadn’t been the worst, anyway. A lot of people hated the Luthor name, and most of them weren’t afraid to show it.
It was a good thing obviously-Supergirl Kara spent so much time around Lena. Even if Lena didn’t enjoy her connection with her only friend so much, she’d be grateful.
Supergirl had saved her life as Supergirl countless times, but even as Kara she was just as valiant a defender. Instances like the hassler in the coffee shop weren’t rare, though some people went further.
Like when Kara was walking her home. They enjoyed one another’s company, so Kara had been eager enough when Lena asked her to come with her. (Lena was still trying to work out whether Kara knew what she was getting at).
They hadn’t been walking for long before someone launched themselves out of an alleyway, lifting a gun and firing twice. Kara threw herself in front of Lena.
They gave an indistinct shout, something triumphant; Lena didn’t pay much attention as they hurriedly ran off.
Her mind was whirling, for mad moments considering what it would mean if she was wrong. Kara had been shot, for her-
“Are you ok?” Kara said, concerned.
She didn’t exactly seem affected. Lena blinked.
“Me?” Lena said. “You’re the one that was just shot.”
Kara turned. After a moment, she looked down, noting the bulletholes in her top.
“Oh, right,” Kara gave a nervous laugh. “I wear a bulletproof vest.”
“You’ve got a bulletproof vest?”
“My sister’s in the FBI,” Kara said.
“And you wear it… casually?”
“Yeah,” Kara nodded, beaming.
Lena paused. She regarded the holes for a few seconds, and what she could see under Kara’s top.
“A bright blue bulletproof vest?” Lena said.
“With a giant S on?”
“What?” Kara said. She looked down. “Oh, uh- It’s themed. You know. Supergirl’s popular, and, uh…”
“They make decorative bulletproof vests?” Lena said.
It was hard to want to push the issue when Kara looked at her that earnestly. Lena sighed, and chuckled, and opted to go along with it.
If Kara wanted to pretend that it wasn’t incredibly obvious, who was she to object? Kara was saving her life, after all.
Eventually though, Lena decided to hurry things along.
On some busy days, Lena couldn’t afford to leave work for long. When Kara came by, she stayed at her desk to answer emails.
This time, Lena had pulled her hair back into a ponytail, and donned a pair of fake glasses she’d bought.
“Hi Lena!” Kara said, walking into the room. As she sat down, Lena looked up.
“Who’s Lena?” she said.
“Um, you are,” Kara said. She tilted her head. “What is it? Amnesia? Some memory thing? Did one of your devices…”
“Does Lena wear glasses?” Lena said.
“Well, no,” Kara said. “But you just put them on, and-”
“Does Lena’s hair look like this?”
“You can change that,” Kara said. “Lena, are you ok?”
“Why do you think I’m Lena?”
“You look exactly like her,” Kara said. “You’re not even wearing a wig, or changing your voice. And you’re sitting in her office. I mean, you’re obviously Lena.”
Lena met her Kara’s eyes.
A long few seconds passed. Nothing seemed to be registering.
“I’ll- um, I’ll come back later,” Kara said. “Tell- uh, Lena to call me. I’m- I’m sorry.”
A little despondently, Kara left the office. She was gone before Lena could stand or say anything.
Huh. Lena stared.
“Alex!” Kara said.
She knocked on her sister’s apartment door. After a few seconds, Alex came to it, answering and inviting Kara in.
“I don’t think Lena likes me any more,” Kara said.
“What happened?” Alex said, immediately going into concerned-sister mode. “Did she say something?”
“Not… exactly,” Kara said. She hesitated. “It was like she was ignoring me.”
“Do you know why?” Alex said.
“No,” Kara said. “That’s the worst thing. If I knew what I’d done, I’d apologize, but…”
“She shouldn’t make you feel like that,” Alex said. “If she’s just ignoring you, maybe she’s not as-”
“N-no!” Kara said. “She’s a good person. I know she is. And- it was real. She was just…”
“What happened exactly?” Alex said.
Alex shifted, sitting down and guiding Kara down beside her. She waited, expression serious, to hear what Kara had to say.
She wasn’t exactly Lena Luthor’s biggest fan, Alex would admit that. If Lena was hurting her sister, then there wouldn’t be much love lost.
“She pretended to be someone else,” Kara said.
“She what?” Alex said, still concerned, but slightly more confused than angry,
“She put on glasses, and changed her hair, and acted like she wasn’t Lena,” Kara said. Alex’s expression dramatically changed. “As if everyone couldn’t see through that, and- Alex? Alex! Why are you laughing?”
Eventually, Kara came by Lena’s office, as resolute as she was confused. That time, Lena left her glasses on the desk.
“You’re not going to pretend not to be Lena again, are you?” Kara said.
“Should I?” Lena said.
“No!” Kara said. “I don’t know why you did, or- if you don’t want to talk to me you can just say.”
“What?” Lena said. For once, she was caught off-guard.
“Well you were making obvious excuses to not…” Kara said. She hesitated. “I don’t want to be a pain, or-”
“Kara,” Lena interrupted. “Kara. I’m always going to want to talk to you, and spend time with you.”
“But you… Why did you pretend to not be yourself?”
“You don’t think the disguise works?” Lena said.
“It’s terrible!” Kara said. “It’s just a pair of glasses, and-”
Lena sniggered, slightly. She couldn’t help herself. Kara pouted.
“Why does everyone laugh when I talk about this?!” Kara protested.
“Moving on,” Lena said, after a moment. “What brings you here?”
Kara paused, but shrugged, apparently content with the mystery. She sat down, no longer bothered by Lena’s earlier pretence, whether she thought it was a failed joke or a test went unsaid.
Whatever the case, Lena’s insistence had allayed her concerns.
“I just wanted to talk to you,” Kara said. “I didn’t get the chance before and…”
“Is this an interview or a chat?” Lena said.
“Both?” Kara said. “Catco wants the opinions of a lot of major figures on Supergirl, for a longer piece. Quotes, that kind of thing. So I was hoping to get that, but also, well, we can just talk.”
Lena smiled. Kara’s optimism in those areas was always refreshing.
Lena couldn’t think of any other reporter she’d have both an interview and casual conversation with, without setting down firm rules about what was on and off the record.
Kara, however, would never abuse her confidence like that. Lena trusted her that far, and knew Kara was too good a person to even consider it.
“You want my opinion on Supergirl?” Lena said, slightly amused.
“Well, um, Catco does,” Kara said. “What do you think?”
“On the record?” Lena said. “I think she’s a hero. The city needs someone who’ll help people in the light of day. Most of us can only aspire to the good she does.”
Kara wrote with remarkable speed. Lena idly wondered if she was tapping into her powers; she’d never known anyone who could write that fast.
“Is that a quote?” Kara said.
“If you want,” Lena said.
“Why ‘on the record?’” Kara said. “Would you say something different if it was, uh… not?”
“That’s what I think,” Lena said. “Off the record are a few thoughts probably not suitable for your publication.”
Lena tried to make her tone sound suggestive. Evidently it flew over Kara’s head.
“Unsuitable?” Kara said. “How?”
“Well, she is very attractive,” Lena said. “Don’t you think so?”
It was about a second before Kara’s eyes widened, realizing just why Lena’s thoughts were unsuitable. Her cheeks coloured.
“Oh,” Kara said, slightly breathlessly.
“I’ve thought about asking her out,” Lena said. “If her secret identity was sitting in front of me right now, I probably would.”
“That’s- I, um, I’m happy to- uh,” Kara stumbled over her words.
Lena watched her curiously, trying to gauge how much of Kara’s response was just being flustered, and how much was being interested.
She’d long since noticed most of Kara’s seeming-rejections had been down more to obliviousness than anything. Still, it wasn’t as though Lena could be much more explicit.
“So, what do you think?” Lena said.
“A-about what?” Kara said.
“What I said,” Lena said. “If Supergirl’s alter-ego was sitting right in front of me, right now,” Lena slowed when she said that, trying to emphasize her words, “Do you think she’d say yes?”
“Um… I suppose she- um, I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t,” Kara said.
Lena breathed a sigh of relief.
“Do you like Italian?” Lena said.
“I thought you liked-”
“I do,” Lena said.
“I’m not, uh,” Kara gave a very fake-sounding laugh. “I’m not Supergirl. Psh, that would be silly. I’m human. And- um-”
Lena stared at her sceptically. Kara’s less-than-convincing denial stuttered to a halt.
“How did you know?” Kara said.
“Seriously?” Lena said.
“What?” Kara said.
“You told me you flew to my office-”
“On a bus!”
“A flying bus,” Lena continued smoothly. “Supergirl was in your apartment. You got shot in front of me.”
“But- I had excuses,” Kara said. “Perfectly good explanations.”
Lena quirked an eyebrow.
“What was wrong with them?” Kara said.
And suddenly her tone was disappointed, apparently hurt by the insinuation her cover stories weren’t quite perfect. Lena’s response died in her throat.
She didn’t like hurting Kara, and now she was being met with a gaze best described as hurt-puppy.
“Someone told me,” Lena said, relenting.
“Someone told me you were Supergirl,” Lena lied. “Your excuses had me completely convinced until they let me know.”
“Oh,” Kara brightened. “I knew I was good at keeping secrets.”