The investigation kicked off with the appearance of an extra toothbrush on Kara's bathroom counter. As Alex walked back into the living room, Kara was humming in the kitchen as she pulled out a bag of kettle chips from the cupboard and kept an eye on the popcorn popping away on the stove. The two sisters reclined on the couch for Game of Thrones, but Alex kept returning to the image of the green toothbrush sitting in its own coffee mug. A question about its origins sat on the tip of Alex's tongue all throughout the episode, but the thought of actually broaching the topic unprompted flipped her stomach around.
Except, a voice in her mind nagged, after Mon-El had left, you have on at least three separate occasions walked into Kara's apartment to find her halfway through a pint of ice cream and crooning along with Lorde's latest album— “I'm a little much for everyone / They're gonna watch me disappear into the sun / You're all gonna watch me disappear into the sun.” Alex queued up musicals on their shared Netflix account and dropped by at least twice a week to make their way through the list. She even brought pot stickers and doughnuts. The National City concept of a greasy spoon selling plates of kung pao chicken a few feet away from a stack of crullers had made Alex gag when she first arrived to the city, but Kara had literally clapped her hands in delight. Granted, most people either went for the Chinese or for the sweets, but Kara was not most people.
If Kara had come to terms with her feelings for Mon-El, Alex's mind was already ordering a cake to celebrate the end of all of the wistful sighs and staring into the night sky that had overcome her sister after that relationship's closure. If Kara was wading into potential romantic drama territory again, however, Alex would have appreciated a situation report so she could prepare an action plan.
When Kara didn't mention a new person in her life that night, Alex tried mentally packing the toothbrush into a box and tossing it into the attic in her mind. She rationalized it away as belonging to a friend of Kara's—maybe someone from college—who had crashed on her couch while visiting National City and forgotten some things behind when they left.
Then the invasion began. Bottles of Korean skin care products spilled across the bathroom counter competing for space with eyeliner and lipstick. Pairs of heels piled up next to Kara's flats. A Burberry coat way beyond Kara's salary range hung by the front door. Alex preferred to frame her observations as being situationally aware rather than snooping around. As a sometimes-pretend FBI agent and girlfriend of a detective, Alex could expound at length on the nuance.
With all the evidence in her apartment, Kara practically dared Alex to say something. Alex had spent most of her life romantically challenged, but she wasn't blind. She picked up some cinnamon rolls and coffee from Noonan's on her way to Kara's apartment with the intention to drop some probing questions. As she opened the door, she caught sight of Lena Luthor pouring coffee into a travel mug. What is Lena "I have multiple people in my cell phone contacts who have tried to murder Kryptonians" Luthor doing in Kara's kitchen at 7 in the morning? Two people counted as multiple in Alex's mind, by the way, and stood a chasm away from the vastly preferred zero. Lena hadn't done anything untoward herself and had saved hundreds, if not thousands, of alien lives in bringing down Lillian Luthor, but this surprise screamed playing with fire. Alex's trigger finger itched.
"Alex, good morning!" Lena said with a chipper smile that had Alex clenching her jaw. "Can I offer you some coffee? It's really good. My assistant orders the beans from this mountainside plantation in Hawaii."
"Nope, I'm all set," Alex answered as she raised the coffee tray in her left hand.
"That you are. Some other time then," Lena said without her grin losing a single iota of exuberance. She pulled out a carton of almond milk from the fridge and topped off her travel mug. Since when does Kara stock almond milk?
"I've got to run to a conference call with London, but Kara should be finishing up in the shower if you're waiting up for her. Tell her I said goodbye," Lena continued.
"Oh, I will," Alex replied with a smile of her own that trailed off before it reached her eyes. Lena slipped on a pair of tan heels and locked the apartment door behind her. Alex took a breath and pulled up a stool by the kitchen table. She nursed her coffee while watching the bathroom door like a goddamn serial killer.
"Rao!" Kara yelped as she emerged with a bath towel wrapped around her body. "Alex, you surprised me. I thought you were—someone else." With a whoosh, she disappeared into her bedroom and returned in the next instant dressed in an argyle sweater and Capri pants with her hair pulled back in a ponytail.
"Someone like Lena Luthor perhaps? She was heading to a meeting so she told me to pass along a goodbye," Alex said as she put down her coffee. Alex heard the tone she had used. The voice in her head said that this type of kill 'em all type of protectiveness was maybe why Kara didn't mention Lena Luthor in the first place.
Still, the curiosity ate at Alex's insides. With some perps, you drop some hints and bluff a lot more. With others, you put all your cards on the interrogation room table and catch them off balance. "Are you two dating?" Alex asked.
Kara sputtered, "W-what? That's ridiculous. Me and Lena, hah! What makes you say that?" Alex rattled off all reasons from the signs of cohabitation, to the time Lena freaking filled Kara's office with the inventory of an entire flower shop, and to when Lena had begged Kara to accompany her as emotional support / arm candy to an old flame's flashy product launch, now that Alex was thinking about it all.
Kara cleared her throat and took a seat across from Alex. She folded her hands in front of her and said, "I have a very logical series of responses to each of your points." Alex thought she might pull out a slide deck with bullet points and pie charts.
"Yes, Lena sometimes spends the night here—Let me finish!—, but it's not what you think. It all started when Lena mentioned she had never seen Casablanca, so we obviously had to have a movie night. And do you know what happened? She fell asleep right in the middle of the film! When I woke her up," after more time than I will admit letting her drool on my shoulder, "Lena apologized and said she was absolutely exhausted from work. You should have seen how nonchalantly she talked about the days when she arrives in the office before sunrise and doesn't get home until after dark. If you were there with her on that couch, you'd want nothing more than to pour Lena Luthor a mug of hot cocoa and tuck her into bed for a well-deserved rest.
"I got to thinking about how I could help her out as a friend. Super strength and freeze breathe weren't much use. I did have my apartment, which according to Google Maps, is 27 minutes closer one way to L Corp headquarters than Lena's apartment, so I offered to let her stay at my place whenever she was working late at the office. Getting an hour back in your day is huge when you're running a multi-billion-dollar company."
I may have also mentioned I was a night owl, and it was no bother at all for Lena to drop by at any time of the night.
"Lena takes me up on my offer now and then, and if she's spending the night, it makes sense for her to leave some things around so that she can get ready in the morning and head straight into work. That's why you saw the toothbrush in the bathroom, the shoes by the door, and the bras she sometimes leaves on my bedroom floor." Alex's eyebrows shot up; her observational skills had missed that particular detail.
Kara babbled on, "I had to convince her to make herself feel at home too. That first night she tried to sleep on the couch, and I absolutely insisted that she take the bed. It became this whole back and forth argument—almost a screaming match—until we agreed to compromise and share the bed together, so don't be surprised if you ever catch us in bed together. That's the whole story, and I didn't mention it to you before because there's no deeper meaning. I'm only doing a favor for my girlfriend. My girlfriend, not my girlfriend."
Alex took another gulp of coffee while gathering her response. Keys jangled from the other side of the apartment door, and Kara interjected, "I also gave Lena a set of keys so that she could let herself in after those late nights at the office."
Lena rushed through the doorway and said, "Don't mind me. I went to check my emails in the town car and realized I left my tablet charging on the counter."
She unplugged the device and tucked it into her purse. On her way back out, Lena smooched Kara on the cheek and said, "See you tonight, babe?"
Kara blushed crimson and hummed an affirmative while biting her lips. Directing her attention back to Alex, Lena said, "We should all catch up some time. Bring Maggie along. We'll make it a double date."
"Absolutely," Alex replied with a curl of a smile. "I'd love for a chance to ask you some questions."
As the click of Lena's heels receded in the hallway, Alex's stare down made Kara wonder if perhaps both Danvers sisters had X-Ray vision. She blurted out, "Did I mention Lena studied abroad in Paris for a semester where she picked up this habit of kissing all her close acquaintances hello and goodbye?"
Alex could barely hear her over the sound of her eyes rolling into the back of her head. She reached across the table to grab her sister's hand. "If you're willing to make up this wildly elaborate story that's probably only 38% true, Lena must really have you wrapped around her finger. And you must also really care about her. I care about you too, though maybe I've been giving off some close-minded impressions about how I would react if you didn't feel comfortable talking to me about Lena."
Kara raised her other hand to stop Alex. "After things fell apart with James and then Mon-El, I didn't want to make a big fuss in case things fell through. I didn't want you to worry if I woke up one day to find that what Lena and I have wasn't real anymore. I wanted something low key at first, and it all spiraled from there."
Alex took a deep breath before replying, "I do worry. I want you to be happy and safe with whoever you choose to be with, so I'm not promising Maggie and I won't pull a good cop, bad cop routine, but let's set up that double date. Can you ask if Lena can get us reservations at Bottega Louie? Maggie loves their tirami—."
Kara squealed and whipped around the table in a flash for a bone crushing hug before Alex had a chance to finish her sentence.