Unsurprisingly, the skyline view from atop the penthouse is breathtaking.
“I wanna punch it in the face,” Kara says, as one is oft compelled to do upon viewing such majesty. “I wanna punch the sky in its beautiful face.”
“I have a helicopter if you’d like to give it a go,” Lena says helpfully from her perch. She says it in a joking deadpan but Kara knows in her heart that Lena means it. She'd fly them in a heartbeat if Kara asked. She kind of loves her for that.
They’ve been up on the roof for nearly an hour since Kara discovered they had access (“I own the building,” Lena said, “I have all the access.”). Lena was a good sport and even helped Kara drag up her art supplies, helping her set up the easel and canvas facing the setting sun. Kara’s never been this high before without being in a plane and she wants to capture this feeling in color. She’s been working on a rough underpainting of blues and reds while Lena lounged nearby reading various articles on cake sculpting.
“You don’t have to do that, you know,” Kara says, as Lena gives her yet another tip on baking artistry. “I don’t even have the job yet."
Cat said she would call her this weekend to let her know if she gets the big bake job she's been stressing and planning over for weeks. There are still so many fucking cookies in their kitchen.
“You’re going to get the job. Why wouldn't she give it to you? You're incredible. Oh! This article here says you should do a crumb coat between icing layers."
She says it with such earnest focus it makes Kara's chest squeeze, and she's filled with the urge to go and hug her best friend. So, she does.
"This is very serious," Lena says, though her words are muffled by Kara's tight embrace, "we have to prepare for this."
"You're so cute I can hardly stand it," her smile drops and she sighs, "You don't have to keep doing that. I feel like we talk about my stuff too much. I mean, I’m just making a cake; I’m not navigating million-dollar deals. It’s really not important.”
Lena puts a firm hand on Kara's shoulder at that, leaning forward to catch her eyes.
“This is something that’s important to you, Kara. That means it’s important.”
"Ugh!" Kara groans before tackling Lena in another smothering hug that nearly topples them both off the chaise longue. "Stop being so cute!"
"It's effortless. I can't control it. Wish I could," Lena says solemnly, pulling her phone back out, “now as I was saying, this article says to…”
Kara waits for a moment, then glances at Lena who is staring at her phone in obvious confusion.
“You okay?” Kara asks, drawing her attention back. Lena looks genuinely perplexed.
“Er, yes, I think so. I just got the strangest email and I’m not totally sure what it means.”
She holds up her phone for Kara to read.
It was really great seeing you the other night! I was hoping I’d see you again, so I was so glad you were there! I tried to work up the nerve to ask you this in person but I got nervous. I was wondering if you’d like to go out some time on a date. My family sponsored a wing of the National City Aquarium, so we can go backstage and meet the sea turtles if you’d like! If that’s super weird and you’d rather not then please just ignore this! LOL!
Kara feels a number of things in this moment. There's confusion at who this Eve Teschmacher is, as well as concern at why Lena looks so shocked. These are familiar, expected emotions. There are others, however, simmering below the surface that she can't quite identify. Emotions that rush through her too fast to grasp, that make her heart beat a little faster and her palms ache. She settles on the easiest one to reach.
“Who is Eve Teschmacher?”
Lena does not seem to be experiencing the same rollercoaster of emotions as Kara. She seems just confused.
“You met her the other day on the yacht, the software engineer. Her father actually worked at Luthor Corp years ago. I don’t understand what she means by this email.”
Kara's mouth feels funny as she talks.
“Uh, it means you got asked out.” Lena’s blank stare prompts her to add, “on a date.”
“Oh. Why would she do that?”
“Because she wants to date you, I guess?”
Lena just looks more confused.
"That doesn't make sense."
"Lena, you're the coolest person I know. Why would someone not want to date you?"
Lena doesn't seem to have an answer for it and Kara's stomach is starting to feel kind of bubbly in a bad way. She probably got some paint in her mouth on accident again. She keeps talking.
"Dating is a good social outlet! This could be a good thing, if you want it to be," she's saying words but it feels disconnected. Something about this is really making her feel so strange.
Kara’s phone buzzes and she sees a familiar name flash across the screen: DR JAMESON OFFICE.
“Do you need to take that?” Lena asks, and Kara hits decline.
"Nope! Do you wanna date Eve?"
Lena's face twitches at the conversational redirect.
"I have no idea," she says honestly. She looks so lost. Kara decides to take control.
“Okay, that's okay! Let’s start small. Tell me about dates you’ve gone on before."
“Well, I’ve only really dated Jack. Usually we would go with Lex to the lake house, or the three of us would visit the vineyard. Or we three would take the family jet to whatever island-”
“Okay, Lena,” Kara cuts in, “it’s not a date if your brother is also there.”
“Well, then I don’t know! We only hung out with Lex, okay? It’s not like I was his real girlfriend.”
She's fidgeting with her hands and Kara takes them gently into her own. She rubs her thumbs comfortingly across her skin. Lena blows out a hard breath, then says,
“I guess I’ve never really dated, okay? I was with Jack all the way up till the trial and after that, no one wanted to date the last Luthor. I don’t know how to do this. I can’t, I can’t do this. I gotta block Eve’s number and move.”
“Close, what you actually need to do is take a chill pill and relax. As your social guide I can help you with this."
"Have you dated a lot before?" Lena asks, and for the first time in so many months Kara thinks about Mike.
It's a rush of emotions that hit so fast and unexpected it knocks the wind out of her. Her chest aches and her mind clouds and it's still too soon to think about him, to think about everything that happened, she can't-
"Some," she says in a voice too strained to be natural. "Enough to know a thing or two about a thing or two. I got this. We got this."
For a second, Lena almost seems to believe her. Then reality sets in.
"Nope! Absolutely not. I can't do that. Why would she want to do that? I can't do that.”
Lena is looking at her with scared, shining eyes, and her instincts are telling her to stop this before it can even take root. To tell Lena she should ignore the email, ignore Eve, go back to reading piping tips that Kara already knows.
But those are not good instincts, and she recognizes that, so she takes Lena’s hand and tells her to do what feels right to her.
“Ignoring this email feels extremely right right now,” she says, and some weight Kara hadn’t even realized had fallen upon her seems to lift.
“Then let’s ignore it!”
Lena nods with an air of finality yet continues to fidget about. Kara waits patiently for her to speak.
“I can never interact with her again,” Lena says with utter sincerity. Kara snorts.
“So the plan is, what? Pretend this never happened and hopefully never see her again?”
Kara’s phone buzzes again in her hand with the same caller, she hits decline again. Lena seems triumphant.
“Yes! That’s the goal,” Lena says with a smile Kara tries her best not to return.
“Excellent. Very healthy.”
They see Eve two days later.
Kara spots her first, as Eve is lingering near the incredibly appealing dessert table at the otherwise boring socialite event Lena had dragged her to.
Lena doesn’t notice her for some time, which is a blessing for them all, really. Better to defer that interaction as long as possible. Lena dips out to use the restroom and Kara immediately starts running strategies on how she can keep Lena away from Eve while also getting to that incredible looking pie Eve seems to be orbiting with no relief.
Then, ever the persistent specter, a call yet again buzzes across her phone, the name DR JAMESON shining bright in its mockery.
Kara is, again, quick to hit decline with a surprisingly shaky finger. There’s no reason for them to be calling her, right? She was just at the doctor.
It’s too soon, it’s way too soon. It’s only been- she does the mental math, her heart growing ever heavier as she realizes it hasn’t been just a few months since she last saw the doctor. It’s been many. Too many, most likely. Not enough.
Huh. That would explain why she kept getting emails about appointments in her inbox which she had been quick to delete. Why her most recent bottle of pills said NO REFILLS on the side, a sign she’d been adamantly ignoring. Her phone rings again and she hits ignore.
This is definitely a problem for future Kara.
"Oh God," Lena says as she appears beside her, ever the welcome distraction. "Eve is here. I have to hide, or run away, or go die in a hole."
"All valid options! But, consider this- you could go talk to her."
As if sensing their struggle, Eve turns to face them at that exact moment and, to Lena's horror, waves awkwardly at them both before looking away. It's adorable, and sad, and Kara kind of wants to hug her now, too.
"I can never talk to her ever again," Lena says with sorrowful solemnity.
"Hey Eve!" Kara calls out, grabbing Lena's arm to drag her with her. "Fancy seeing you here!"
The wide-eyed look of joy and terror that greets them hits Kara so sharply in the chest that she wonders if every eccentric rich girl had to take the same behavioral classes as youths. Do any of these people know how to interact?
“Oh, hey Kara!” she greets, then quietly adds, “Hey, Lena. It’s nice to see you.”
“Yes,” Lena says, and nothing else.
“Well!” Kara says after a few beats of terrible silence, “This sure is a nice party, huh? With all the lights and decorations and all.”
"It is nice," Lena says.
"Yes, it is nice," Eve echoes back in the same tone. They continue to stare at each other.
"Oh my God,” Kara says in absolute wonder, “there are two of you.”
They’re interrupted, thankfully, by someone calling Eve away, and with one final painful glance she leaves them. Lena immediately turns to look at Kara with such misery in her eyes that Kara can’t help but laugh and pat her arm.
“We’ll figure it out,” she says as comfortingly as she can, and Lena presses her face into her hands with a groan.
Just then, Jack appears.
"Hello lovelies,” he greets with an arm around both their shoulders, and Kara resists the urge to roll her eyes. Now that he’s deemed Kara worthy he acts as though they’re best friends. As if she doesn’t still kind of wants to rip his hair out. Can’t do that, though, so she’s trying to be civil at least. “Are you actually going to date her then?"
Another jolt. Kara can't help but be surprised that he knows about the date invite, that Lena’s told anyone other than her. He and Lena really must be rebuilding their friendship, though if that’s his opening approach he may be in for a struggle.
Predictably, Lena blanches at his words.
“Could you maybe not ever say that again please?” she croaks, and he laughs.
"No, really! I think you should. I think getting laid would do you wonders. A romp with a beautiful blonde might be just what you need."
I’m a beautiful blonde, Kara thinks out of nowhere, and then shakes the thought away. That was weird.
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, Lena,” Kara says. This is starting to bother her, she realizes, in a way it hadn’t before. Probably because Jack is here being loud and abrasive.
They see Eve walk back into the room and look at them, then look away, then look back with a small wave. Jack and Kara wave back happily while Lena just continues to stare. Like she’s deciding something.
“I want,” Lena says in a shaky voice, and Kara finds herself holding her breath in anticipation. “I want to… experience things.”
It’s said like a curse, like some burden she’s forced to now carry. Jack lets out a whooping cheer, saying,
"Go get laid, Lena!"
People glance at them and Lena’s face goes so red, she’s so shy and embarrassed at the attention and Kara would find it endearing if her mouth didn’t feel so funny. Lena stands decisive and she realizes something is about to happen, so she quickly says (at a reasonable volume),
"Or don't! It's okay if you don't do that, either! If you don't want to!"
After a deep breath and a nod, Lena marches towards Eve like a soldier headed to battle. She watches as Lena taps on Eve's shoulder, as she talks with stiff movements and strange expressions. They watch as Eve smiles brilliantly at her, twirls her hair like a schoolgirl in love, makes a joke. They watch as Lena laughs and laughs.
Kara is battling a tummy ache at the sight. Lena’s smile afterwards is so wide and happy, more than Kara thinks she’s ever seen on her before. Her chest burns. For a moment she pictures Lena and a pretty blonde woman laughing, holding hands. Kissing. Her heart beats a little too fast at the thought.
Her phone rings then and, in her discomfort, she forgets what she should not do.
“Is this Kara Danvers?” The woman asks, and like a fool she says yes.
“Miss Danvers, I’m calling on your missed appointment with Doctor Jameson’s office.”
That’s why Kara had been avoiding phone calls.
She moves away from Jack, goes to a quiet part of the room where she can speak low and unheard.
“I must stress that there is a fee for no-shows,” the woman continues, “and we are unable to fill your next prescription without you seeing the doctor in person.”
She thinks about how many pills she has left in her toiletries bag. How many more days can she put this off?
“I’m really swamped with work right now, I’m not sure I can come in this month. Can I not get an extension?”
“No ma’am. You’ve already gone 8 months without seeing the doctor. We are legally required to see you in person to refill your script.”
“And if I miss a few doses?”
The woman sighs in annoyance, and her voice is rough as she speaks.
“You can either come in to see the doctor now or come in in an ambulance later.”
That’s the moment Lena walks back over and, without thought, Kara hangs up. Lena must see something in Kara's expression as she asks,
Kara can feel how fake her smile is as she replies.
“Yep! Just a wrong number. How'd it go?"
Lena looks nauseous but accomplished.
"I did it. I got a date."
Jack cheers loudly and lifts Lena up into a swinging hug, and they're both laughing and excited and it's great, really! It's great for Lena. It's a happy moment they all get to share, and that's what makes the weird pit Kara feels in her stomach so unexpected and strange.
Lena has a date, and that's a good thing! Isn't it?
The date is scheduled for the following evening and Kara wonders if she might have food poisoning. The party they attended did serve seafood, which is always a questionable choice for buffet style meals, so maybe that's the reason her stomach has been rumbling tumbling since the moment they got home. She takes some Pepto-Bismol and does her best to comfort Lena as she laments her upcoming social obligation. That night they lay in the dark, faces close.
"I'm nervous," Lena whispers, close enough Kara can feel her breath against her lips. "What if it goes terribly?"
"What if it doesn't?" Kara whispers back. The fear in Lena’s voice makes her stomach rumble even harder.
“That might be worse.”
Kara presses an open hand to Lena’s face, traces the curves of her jaw with her fingertips. The skin feels soft and hot everywhere she touches.
“You got this,” she says, and she can feel the smile shaping in her hand.
“I got this,” Lena repeats back.
They fall asleep like that.
Kara spends her entire work shift thinking about Lena and Eve. How will Lena react if Eve holds her hand? What if she tries to kiss her? What if Lena says something strange and Eve doesn’t know how to react?
What if Eve makes her feel small?
Thinking about it makes Kara feel tummy tumbling in the worst of ways so she tries her best not to, but everything brings her back to them. Cookies remind her of Lena, laughing with Winn reminds her of Lena. Every woman who comes into the store reminds her of Lena. Everything about her day makes her focus on her friend, and she’s just so anxious to get home to Lena and make sure she’s okay.
A terrible little voice inside her chest whispers that maybe Lena won’t be home. Maybe she’ll sleep at Eve’s. Dr Jameson’s office calls once more and she hits ignore. Kara clocks out of her shift and practically flies home.
Her worries are lessened somewhat when she gets home to Lena on the couch watching one of Kara’s tv shows. She seems emotionally stable, which is always good, and there are no tear stains or bite-marked lips.
Kara sits beside her trying to read her vibes.
“How did it go?” she asks cautiously. Lena shrugs, barely reacts.
“It didn’t. I freaked out and cancelled.”
Despite the feeling of relief that hits sudden and intense, Kara’s supportive instincts kick in.
“Lena! No!” she says, “You were doing so good!”
Lena jumps up with a noisy exhale and starts to pace with Kara quickly trailing behind her.
“I can’t do it, I can’t. I can’t,” she says, shaking her hands in agitation. “I don’t know how to date! What if she asks me questions?”
“Then answer them!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Kara.”
Kara finally catches her fidgeting hands in her own and pulls her to look at her.
“Okay, for real. What’s going on right now?”
Lena huffs, indignant even as her eyes fill with tears.
“Eve is someone who knew Lex. Not personally, but peripherally! She witnessed the insanity that has been my life all these years... why would she want to date me?”
“Because you’re amazing, how many times do we gotta go over this?” she swings their hands playfully, barely earning a smile. “knowing about you then isn’t gonna stop her from wanting to know you now.”
“It’s stopped everyone else.”
“Not true. Jack is here again, remember?” she wraps Lena up into a hug. “And I didn’t know you then but I know you now, and I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Kara presses a kiss to her temple, then leans her forehead against her.
Lena writes Eve an overly detailed apology email that Kara heavily edits before allowing her to send. It’s not a great move, but it’s the best for Lena at that time. Lena asks for a second chance at a date which Kara is pretty sure Eve will politely decline, but she’s really just excited Lena was willing to try again.
They’re both surprised when Eve replies back immediately with ‘of course! How about Sunday?’ followed by a series of emojis: multiple smiles, one set of two girls holding hands, and a kissy emoji.
Lena points at the emojis in horror.
“What does this mean?” she asks, tapping her finger accusatorily against her phone. “What could this possibly mean?”
“I think it means she likes you still,” Kara says, just as surprised as Lena.
Maybe they really are a good match.
Alex absolutely loses it when she hears about Lena’s dating news and is still laughing when Lucy arrives much later.
Kara had come over to help Alex declutter some of their boxes of junk. Alex had so graciously let her little sister live with her for nearly a year rent-free, but she had finally decided she was no longer her storage unit and that all of Kara’s shit has got to go. No more free storage, not when she’s living the high life with her socially stunted gal pal. That same gal pal she’s now laughing about for some reason.
“Kara, please,” Alex says through laughter-tears, “please tell Lucy what happened.”
“Lena got asked out through an email.”
She doesn’t get why that’s so funny, but Lucy apparently does as she laughs as well.
“I would love to watch whatever socially awkward date that’d end up being.”
“She said yes,” Kara says. “Well, she said yes, then no, then yes again. We’re hoping this one sticks.”
Lucy continues to laugh, but Alex’s laughter tapers off as she narrows her eyes studying Kara.
“What’s happening?” She gestures at Kara’s face, “why are you doing that? Why are you crinkling?”
Kara slaps her hand over her traitorous forehead.
“I’m not crinkling!”
“You are, I can see it. Why don’t you want Lena to date Email Eve?”
“I don’t! I mean I don’t not want her to! I just, I’m worried she might get hurt.”
Alex scoffs, loudly taping another box shut.
“Everybody gets hurt,” she says gruffly, “Doesn’t mean she can’t get laid in the process.”
Another tummy tumble.
“What if she’s just using her for her money?” Kara asks, refusing to acknowledge Alex’s words.
“Kinda like you?” Alex snips, and ouch. That hits her in her sorest spot.
“That’s not true and you know it.”
Her voice wavers in sudden insecurity, and Alex flinches like she slapped her.
“Alright, I’m kidding! Jeez, can I not make a joke?”
“It’s not a joke if everyone says it all the time,” Kara says, small and sad. Alex looks at Lucy for help. Lucy sighs. Sits next to Kara, bumps her knee into hers, and waits. After a moment, Kara says quietly,
“What if it goes really bad and she gets hurt? She’s already going through so much.”
Lucy smiles at her and says,
“Then she learns from her mistakes and does better next time. Everybody’s gotta fuck up before they figure things out.”
It’s comforting, sort of, but not to the dark part deep inside Kara that seems to be growing as this date scenario goes on. This fear that she really doesn’t know how to place.
Kara’s phone rings again, this time with her CatCo ringtone. It’s Miss Grant.
She got the bake job.
It’s what she’s wanted, what she’s worked for, and the second she accepts Lucy is dancing and Alex lets out a little whoop, and Kara smiles and laughs but it doesn’t feel like it should. Doesn’t feel as good.
All night Friday Lena vibrates with nervous energy. The weekend is only just starting but her anxieties are already rolling off of her in palpable waves so thick Kara’s half-surprised she isn’t drowning in them. Still, it’s mostly fine, and she’s able to distract Lena most of the night. Kara falls asleep thinking things are actually going to be good.
Then, Lena has a nightmare.
Kara doesn’t know how long it’s been going on when she’s woken up, but Lena is deep in it. Her face is scrunched so tightly in pain and she’s soaked from sweat and tears and saliva and she looks like she’s fighting for her life. Kara would usually be gentle but there’s something in her expression that scares her, that causes her to shake Lena awake.
She wakes with a gasp, reaching at Kara as if to push her away in defense only to stop the second she sees who it is. Kara holds her close and waits. After some time, she finally speaks.
“I dreamt of Lex,” she says. “and bodies. So many bodies.”
Kara squeezes her extra tight.
“Okay, you’re okay! He’s gone and he can’t get to you, okay? You’re safe.”
It’s not the right thing to say she doesn’t think, but it’s all she can say. Lena doesn’t seem to hear her either way.
“I can’t go on that date,” Lena says decisively through a big sniffling gulp. As if the dream helped her realize. “I should send a letter to Eve explaining that. I can’t-” her words falter and Kara runs a comforting hand down her back. “What right do I have to try and – and date and do normal things when there are still so many bodies to find.”
She’s crying again, incoherent in that space between sleep and consciousness, and Kara speaks slow and gentle.
“If you cancel on her again, she really will never forgive you.”
Lena laughs, exacerbated.
“I mean, why should she?”
It feels like they’re talking about more. She sees that same desperate sadness in her eyes as she saw when they discussed Lex, when the pieces of Lena Luthor’s past fell into place before Kara’s eyes. All she wants is to take hold of her and fix this.
“Let’s go out,” she says decisively. “Tomorrow. For brunch or something. Do a practice run and work out the kinks.”
“The kinks?” Lena says, watching her with bleary eyes. “Like, a pretend date?”
“Not pretend! Practice! I’m your social coach, or whatever. This way you can get all your weird energy out on me so you can be smooth and cool with her. It’s perfect. Plus, I’m always down to brunch.”
She can feel the skepticism radiating off of Lena, but she can see her smile, too.
“Fine,” Lena acquiesces. “We’ll go on a practice date.”
Kara nearly knocks them both out of the bed in her enthusiasm, but it’s worth it to hear Lena’s laugh. For the first time since all this began, she feels excited about Lena dating. She falls asleep to thoughts of waffles and eggs and mimosas, and of Lena, laughing between each bite.
“Hi, Lena,” Kara says the next morning, doing her best Eve impression – wide eyes, big smile, lots of staring. Lena is clearly trying not to laugh. “How’s it goin?”
“I’m,” she’s laughing now, but Kara can see her nerves starting to peek through. “I’m well, Eve. How are you?”
Lena had gotten them a reservation at the most exclusive brunch spot in National City despite only calling ahead an hour. Kara’s lusted after this place from afar for months, but never in her life did she think she’d get to eat here. (Kara’s pretty sure they kicked someone else out so they could have the spot, but she’s not one to look a gift brunch in the mouth.)
Kara had made Lena go ahead of her so she could make a proper entrance into her new role as Eve, Lena’s newest social experience. It was a challenging headspace to reach but Kara is nothing if not a consummate professional.
“I’m in love with you,” Kara says with her wide eyes, then adds quickly, “I mean – I’m well as well!”
Lena laughs a quick burst loud enough to catch the eyes of other tables and she slaps a hand over her mouth to contain it.
“Kara, please,” she finally begs between gasps, “I can’t do this if you’re gonna be like that. It’s too much.”
Kara settled back into her seat with a cocky smile, pleased as can be as she sees Lena settle back as well. So much of the anxiety is already gone, and now Kara gets to eat something called a ‘Mudslide Omelet’. Everybody is winning.
“So, what are some things you’re worried about?” Kara asks around a mouthful of mushrooms and melted cheese.
“What am I not worried about?” Lena retorts. “God, I don’t know. I’ve never dated. I don’t know how to be charming or, or attractive. I don’t know how to make her like me.”
“She already likes you, silly. That’s why she asked you out. You just need to be yourself.”
“That sounds like a terrible thing to be.”
Kara gives her a highly disapproving look, so she amends slightly with, “I mean to say, my default is anxious. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want her to think less of me for it.”
Kara slurps up a long string of cheese and sauce thoughtfully.
“You gotta be willing to face rejection if you want honest connection,” Kara says. Her chest aches for a moment and she rubs absent mindedly at it. “Maybe just go for genuine without oversharing. Just tell her you’re nervous and excited to be there.”
“That’s not pathetic?” Her voice is small.
“Of course not! And if someone says it is then they suck and we don’t wanna date them anyway.”
Lena smiles at her soft and warm. They eat in silence for a while, Kara far too distracted by the glorious monstrosity upon her plate to notice the contemplative look on Lena’s face. After watching Kara chew around a too-big bite of chicken sausage Lena speaks.
“There’s something else,” Lena says quietly. “More embarrassing than that.”
“Lay it on me,” Kara mumbles around her bite, mouth still filled to overflow.
“I’ve never- I mean, with Jack there wasn’t,” she runs a hand through her hair in frustration. “I’ve never had a... physical relationship before.”
“I know Jack was egging you on the other night but you really don’t have to have sex if you don’t want to-”
“No! No, I mean, yes, I haven’t had sex, but also, I never really did other things, either. Jack and I kissed maybe a dozen times over the years, and they were all like kissing a brother. I’ve hardly done anything at all.”
She looks so small as she says it, her face growing redder by the moment, and Kara reaches out with both hands to take hers across the table. She has to strain a bit to reach her, but it’s worth it to have the physical connection.
“That’s okay,” Kara says, genuine and open. “There’s nothing wrong with that, you know? Everybody goes at their own pace with stuff. How does that make you feel, not having done stuff?”
“Stupid,” she says quietly, “and like I’m some loser miles behind everyone else. I hate it, but I’m so scared I’ll be terrible and whoever I’m with will think less of me for it.”
“Once again, anybody who’d think that is the wrong person and they really suck,” Kara says decidedly.
Lena flexes her fingers in Kara’s grip and lets out a sigh.
“Even holding hands has been a jarring thing,” she says. “The hugs, the hand holding – it’s like going from 0 to 100 in a heartbeat.”
Kara starts to pull her hands away in alarm but Lena holds on tight.
“That’s not a bad thing!” she says quickly, giving her hands another squeeze. “You’ve already helped me more since I’ve met you than anyone has my whole life. It’s just still- a lot.”
Kara nods slowly, because she really does get it. She can see the strain in Lena all the time, that battle between wanting something so much and fearing it in equal measures. Every day is a struggle for her, and all Kara wants to do is help lift some of that burden.
Lena’s hand rests palm-up on the table and slowly, carefully, Kara drags her fingers across her skin, following the lines. She imagines for a moment that she could read palms, that she could feel Lena’s entire future laid out beneath her hands, and that each trail she followed was another detailed map of the joys Lena Luthor still had in store before her. Her fingers trace around the edges of her fingers, unphased in their journey even as Lena’s hand twitches beneath the ministration. In her mind’s eye Kara envisions years of laughter, of love, and the both of them sharing adventures and cups of cocoa. She sees Lena smiling without that weight of pain she always seems to carry.
Kind of like the smile she’s giving her now, actually.
“So,” Lena finally says, pulling her from her thoughts. “What’s next?”
Kara smiles, letting her hand fall to hold Lena’s fully.
“Part two of the practice date! Let’s hit the aquarium.”
It’s been years since Kara has gone anywhere like this before, so to say she’s a bit wonderstruck might be an understatement.
“There’s a dolphin!” She half-shouts, pressed against the glass. “Lena, are you kidding me? There’s a literal dolphin right there! Two feet away!”
Lena is trailing behind her with a fond smile on her face, clearly not as impressed by the majesty of a freaking dolphin basically within hugging distance. The blues and whites reflecting through the glass dance across them, giving Lena an ethereal glow, and Kara finds herself struck by the sight. She must be staring, though, because Lena begins to shift uncomfortably under hear watchful eye, and all at once she remembers why they are here. (Which is, tragically, not to hug a dolphin).
Kara gets back into the mindset she needs – courtship preparation.
“Alright!” she says, clapping her hands together. “Let’s get to it! Dating 101.”
She doesn’t know why she says that. That’s not at all how she should start, but something is throwing her off today, has been throwing her off since all this began. Her stomach is still tumbling away with nerves that she can’t quite place.
Lena doesn’t look to be faring much better, her arms crossed tight with her fingers white-knuckling in their grip. That at least gives Kara a place to start.
“So tell me exactly what it is you’re freaking about?” Kara says gently as she lets her fingers glide down Lena’s shoulders, round her elbows, and gently grasp her wrists. With the softest touch she pries her hands off her arms and holds them both in her own, swinging them softly. Lena looks down at them with a furrowed brow and laughs.
“This, I think,” she says, then adds, “what do I do if she touches me?”
Kara drops one of her hands but holds tight to the other, pulling her along. They walk together through the aquarium, Kara gawking at every weird sea creature she meets with full fascination. It’s like observing a box full of aliens, she thinks.
“Well, that depends. Do you want her to touch you?” she asks. A small family of grey fish swim past in a wave. Lena shrugs.
“I don’t know, I guess. I like being touched.”
Another tummy tumble. Kara wonders if maybe she’s coming down with something.
“So, if she touches you and you want her to, then just try to relax into it. Maybe touch her back.”
Her mouth feels funny again, her hands a little shaky. She’s nervous, she realizes, and she doesn’t know why. She tries to focus on the weird translucent sea critter fluttering in front of them rather than her weird feelings.
“I’m not sure I can,” Lena says in a strained voice, and Kara finally turns to look at her. She looks wrecked, as nervous as Kara is feeling, and her ‘helper’ mode immediately clicks on.
“Here, come here,” Kara says, and wraps an arm around her shoulders. Lena shakes in her grasp as she pulls her close, her hand falling instinctively to rest on Kara’s stomach. Her other arm wraps around her waist, holding tight. It takes her a minute to relax into the sensations, to breath out and in at a calmer rhythm. Luckily, it’s dark, their only source of light shimmering out from within the pools around them, and everyone nearby is too focused on the various fish to notice. They stand like that together for a long time.
Lena lets out a tiny laugh, shaking her head, which causes it to rub against Kara’s chin.
Kara turns into the movement, her mouth pressing against the tiny hairs around Lena’s temple.
“See? It’s not so bad,” Kara says quietly. Their faces are so close and the room is nearly silent in its reverent observation. Lena laughs again, and her breath puffs against Kara’s neck.
“That’s because it’s you,” she says. “It’s never bad with you.”
Things go smoothly after that. They meander through the aquarium and Lena gets to adjust while Kara gets to see a bunch of wacky critters. At one point, Lena goes to use the restroom and Kara takes advantage of the opportunity to dart over to the gift shop.
Lena’s standing looking a bit lost when Kara gets back to her, and the way her face lights up at the sight of Kara returning causes another tumble inside that Kara promptly ignores.
She eyes Kara suspiciously, which makes sense considering she’s walked the entire way with her arms behind her back.
“Now, I couldn’t get you backstage to swim with the turtles, but I can get you this,” Kara says, pulling from behind her back a plush sea turtle with cartoonish button eyes. It was the softest, absolute cutest thing she could find in the gift shop. “Though I wouldn’t recommend swimming with him because he seems cheaply made. Might disintegrate.”
Lena laughs and takes him with reverent hands, pressing him tight to her chest in a hug.
“I love him. Thank you.” She looks so happy and Kara can only bask in it, because she did that. She makes Lena happy.
“Alright,” Kara says, grabbing one of Lena’s hands in her own and swinging it between them. “What do you say we go look at some clownfish? Those things freak me out. Why are they named that?”
And Lena, bless her heart, actually tries to tell her why.
The rest of their practice runs smoothly. Lena falls into the pattern of handholding, side hugs, and close contact, and Kara does a great job at ignoring the ever-present discomfort deep in her stomach.
She’s doing such a good job at it, too, that she gets lost in her words and says something she hadn’t realized she was keeping private.
“-And now that I got the cake job I’ve got that to look forward to, I’m sure everything will be good.”
“Wait, what? You got the job?” Lena asks, gripping her arm with a gleeful chirp. “You got the job!! I knew you would!” She then pauses for a moment before adding, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
There’s a touch of hurt in her voice, and Kara hates herself for putting it there. She hadn’t deliberately kept it a secret she doesn’t think, it just hadn’t seemed like the right time.
“I dunno,” she says, voice small all of a sudden, “it just didn’t feel like the right time, and I didn’t want to distract you from your date and everything else going on. It’s not a big deal.”
Lena is looking at her with such concern right now that Kara has to look away, instead focusing on the weird spiky fish floating by.
“Okay,” Lena says, slow and careful, “so I know today has been focused on me but I feel like there’s something going on with you that you’re not talking about.”
“I, there’s not-” her voice is wavering and her heart is racing and her stomach is tumbling so hard she feels nauseous, and all the while Lena is smiling at her with the softest eyes.
She thinks of Eve, of the way her stomach tumbles.
“I’m... okay, yes. There’s, there is one thing.”
She’s not sure what she’s going to say until she’s saying it, and it catches them both off-guard.
“Before I moved to National City, my life was a lot different. I was different. And part of that was that I got really sick,” her mouth feels numb as she speaks and Lena holds her hands even tighter. “Like, got so sick I technically died for thirty-six seconds before they brought me back.”
“Oh my God,” Lena gasps, and Kara keeps talking, knows if she stops she might not start again.
“Yeah. And, the thing is it was my fault that I got sick, kind of. I made some really bad choices and trusted someone I shouldn’t, and I almost died because of it. And since then I’ve changed so much, you know? And I wouldn’t make those choices again, not in a million years, I just want to forget I ever did in the first place. Only I can’t. I never can, because my choices messed my body up in ways I have to deal with forever, and no matter what I do, I’m never gonna be free from that.”
It’s exhausting getting all that out and she’s practically shaking where she stands, but the tummy tumbles have stopped. She’s drained, but it’s also like a weight has been lifted. She told Lena. Sort of.
Lena continues watching her with those thoughtful, kind eyes, waiting patiently to see if any more words will bubble out of her. Slowly, Kara finishes with,
“I’m just tired of dealing with it and I hate that I have to deal with it forever.”
She’s crying, she realizes. She took Lena on a pretend date and started crying thinking about her heart. Great, good job, Kara.
Lena squeezes her hand supportively and Kara finds herself slumping against the other woman with a sigh, like getting all of that out took what strength she had left, and Lena wraps an arm around her comfortingly.
“I understand that feeling,” Lena says quietly. “Something out of your control that will follow you for the rest of your life.”
Kara thinks about how difficult it is for Lena to carry the weight of what her brother has done. She thinks of the scars on her chest and the heart off-beating beneath them. They really are a pair.
“You don’t have to tell me anything that you don’t want to,” Lena says after a while, “but I want you to know I’m always here for you. And the good thing about that is that, even though we both have these terrible things we have to carry around with us all the time, maybe- maybe we don’t have to do it alone. Maybe we can carry them together.”
It’s said so earnest Kara can hardly stand it, and she ends up pulling Lena into a tight hug that squishes the turtle nearly flat between them. Lena lets her hold her for a long time, which she’s grateful for. Then, finally, she pulls back with a small laugh.
“Hey, what gives?” Kara says with a hoarse voice, “I’m supposed to be helping you here. Not the other way around.”
“Too bad,” Lena says with a shrug, her forehead bopping gently against Kara’s. “You can’t stop me.”
“Gosh, you’re right. You’re just too powerful.”
The smiles they share are warm and intimate, their faces close. Lena squeezes her arm tight, laces their fingers. They watch as another small dolphin swims overhead, shimmering in the lights above.
Lena goes on her date and Kara goes over to Alex’s.
There’s not much left of hers to pack and it’s kind of sad to see. She’s lived with Alex for so many months that she feels almost homesick looking at the well-worn couch. How many nights did she fall asleep there? It wasn’t the nicest by any means, but it was a soft place to land after the hellfire she left before. It’s a safe space she’s outgrown, but it hurts all the same.
They end up marathoning a TV show together for most of the night, their talk light and comforting. Alex makes numerous jokes about how terrible Lena’s date must be going, but finally stops when she sees how uncomfortable it makes her. She doesn’t want to think about Lena having a bad time, she doesn’t want to think about her date at all.
“So Kara,” Alex finally says in a leading tone that has her nervous, “anything going on you wanna talk about?”
There are so many possible answers to that and the tumbling starts building up again deep inside.
“Nope,” she says, popping the P at the end of the word. “I’ve never wanted to talk about anything in my life.”
She’s going to ask about Lena. She can feel it, and she doesn’t know why the thought bothers her. It shouldn’t but thinking about what questions Alex might ask has her hands shaking and stomach rumbling. She’s going to say something about Lena.
She’s so sure of that, in fact, that she’s caught entirely unprepared for what Alex actually says.
“You know, I can’t think of the last time you went to the doctor. Shouldn’t you have an appointment soon?”
Lucy is pointedly looking at the TV with forced concentration while Alex stares right in her eyes challengingly. Knowingly.
“It’s not been that long,” Kara says, like a liar, “I think I have another month before I gotta go.”
“Liar!” Alex shouts, nearly jumping off the couch in her indignation. “You’re a dirty liar, Kara Danvers! You need to go to the doctor now!”
If she were more clear-headed she might argue some more, but honestly she’s just so thrown by this conversation she can’t help but say,
“How did you know?”
“I’m your emergency contact, ya dingus! When you make bad medical decisions I’m the person they call. Have you seriously been hanging up on them every time they call?”
“I’m always really busy! There’s been so much going on, with work and- and Lena’s date.”
“Pretty sure your health is more important than Lena going on a date!”
She stops herself from saying something smart because there’s something in Alex’s eyes that tells her that wouldn’t go so well. There’s anger, but underneath it she sees what she’s been trying to avoid – fear. That same fear she carried for so many months when Kara was sick. All at once her fight fades and she deflates.
“Fine,” she says begrudgingly. “You’re right, I need to go. I’ll set an appointment.”
Gone is the fear. Now Alex just looks smug.
“Don’t even worry about it, I already did!” She’s so triumphant. Kara should have held her ground. “You’re seeing Dr. Jameson tomorrow morning at eight.”
Instantly a panic sets in, which Alex spots. She puts a bracing hand on Kara.
“I know. I know. It’s gonna be okay, though. Lucy is gonna take you, okay? I would, but I can’t get off work.”
She looks so devastated to say it that Kara almost wants to comfort her, but she can’t really focus over the waves of nausea overtaking her. It’s familiar, she realizes, but amplified now that she’s really addressing what’s going on. It’s the same nausea she’s felt all week every time she thought about Lena’s date.
Kara’s home by the time Lena gets back.
She’s bright-eyed and nearly shaking in her joy, smelling like the outside air and popcorn. She wore a simple green dress with a leather jacket overtop, her hair hanging down in loose waves, and she’s easily the prettiest person Kara’s ever seen.
She also has a faint lipstick stain on her cheek. Kara tries not to look at it.
Lena gushes the rest of the night about the date. How she didn’t shake at all, how she made Eve laugh four times, how calm she was when Eve held her hand. She got to meet the turtles and even patted one on its little head (“he was cute,” she says, “but not as cute as my turtle.”). All their practice paid off it seems, and Lena couldn’t be happier.
She’s still gushing even as they lay in bed, faces close in the dark.
“So you like her?” Kara whispers, and her tummy tumbles again. Because of my doctor’s appointment, she thinks.
“I guess. I had fun with her, I think. She asked me out again and I said yes, so we’ll see.”
Lena has only passing interest in discussing Eve, more focused on her social success. Kara’s pretty fine with that.
“Proud of you for staying so calm,” Kara says with a smile, and she can feel Lena’s silent laugh hit her lips.
“Honestly,” Lena says, quiet like it’s a secret, “I just pretended she was you. That made everything easier.”
Kara can’t help but laugh at that, bopping her forehead forward against Lena’s.
“Incredible,” she says, and means it.
“What about you? How was your night without me?”
The joy fades a bit at that, and Kara finds herself swallowing twice before she can form the words.
“Remember that thing I’ve been avoiding because it freaks me out? Well I’m doing it tomorrow.”
Lena presses her forehead against Kara’s, breathing her in with a smile.
“Proud of you too, then,” she whispers sleepily. Kara can feel her skin against her lips.
She nearly bails. Twice.
Alex must have warned her Kara might, because Lucy was banging at her door at 7 to make sure she didn’t have time to escape. Lucy is small, but she’s a trained soldier with combat experience whereas Kara eats cookies all day and rides a scooter. There wouldn’t be much of a fight if she tried.
Lucy manages to get her out of the penthouse and to the doctor’s office with no blood shed, and she sits fidgeting with eyes flashing about as she waits for her name to be called. Lucy casually reads a magazine beside her, unphased.
“Sorry, I’m sorry,” she says for the thirteenth time. “I just get freaked out by doctors.”
Freaked out is an understatement, and she’s about four minutes away from a full-on panic. Lucy casually turns the page, not looking up.
“Yeah I bet. I’d freak out too if I’d gone through what you did.”
Kara laughs, high and strained, and Lucy finally looks at her with some sympathy.
“Tell me about Lena’s date,” Lucy says in an obvious bid to distract. “Everything went okay?”
Her next laugh was genuine and only kind of strained.
“Yeah. She was so nervous about it that we went on a pretend date beforehand to practice. She said when she got nervous, she’d just pretend she was with me, which is kind of nice.”
“Huh,” Lucy says, and she’s giving her that look again. “Pretty gay.”
“I mean, yeah. It was two women on a date.”
“No, I meant it’s gay she pretended she was dating you.”
“What? No, that’s not – you’re misunderstanding. She just meant she feels calmer when she’s with me so thinking about me helped.”
“Stop it. You think everything is gay,” Kara retorts, earning a shrug.
“I mean, yeah, but also this is pretty gay. Does it bother you she went on a date with another woman?”
“What? No, why would that bother me?”
Whatever Lucy says next is missed as the nurse calls out her name. The thought tickles at her mind: why would she care if Lena went out with someone? What a strange thing for Lucy to say.
Not one to dwell, Kara lets the idea slip from her mind and follows the nurse back.