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cops, robbers & incredibly bad decisions

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They’re smug, and infuriating, and somehow seem to be one step ahead of Kara at every turn (which only makes them that much more infuriatingly smug). Kara hates them, has hated them since the third time they escaped her clutches.

To clarify, Kara hates the masked bandit - hates how stupid they make her look, hates how she’s always a little impressed by their plans, hates their stupid mask and the fact that she has no idea what kind of stupid face hides beneath. Honestly, it’s that fact that annoys her the most. The mystery. The secret. The hidden identity that she can’t figure out for the life of her.

It’s been two months. Two months of tracking them, and following useless tips, and searching for clues that were seemingly never there. Two months of showing up seconds too late. Two months of watching a masked mystery escaping just in time, and always with what they came for. Two months of late nights and early mornings. Two months of skipping meals. Two months of receiving stupid calling cards that always have a stupid winking face drawn of them.

Kara hates them.

She’s going to get them.

Tonight, finally, she’s going to slap cuffs on their wrists and find out who’s hiding under the mask. Then she’s going to do a victory dance and somehow force down an entire pizza and a tub of ice cream because it’s a miraculous day. It’s going to be incredible. It’s going to be the best day of her career, maybe even her life (and yes, she’s including the time she finally beat Alex at Mario Kart).

Every exit is manned.

Everyone is fully briefed.

Kara is ready to go. Her partner? Not so much.

Winn was a little too distracted going on about how, if you ignored the whole breaking the law thing, it was actually really cool - the thief was actually really cool. Kara hates that she agrees, hates that, underneath layers and layers of annoyance and aggravation, she too was a little impressed by the masked person. Not enough so that she’d let them go though. No. She was far too excited about taking them down to let a little bit of objective appreciation cloud her judgement.

It’s a blaring alarm that cuts Winn off in the middle of geeking out about the latest gadget the thief left behind. It’s a masked face and a cocky salute that has Kara shouting down her comms for backup and chasing after a sprinting silhouette. She groans as she pushes herself to run faster, trying to figure out the turns the thief will take before they take them. She slips her gun from her holster when she catches sight of a crossbow, never once stopping in her pursuit.

She won’t lose them again. She’s tired of losing them again and again, tired of listening to rants about how priceless the stolen items were (Kara knows the tube on the perp’s back contains a painting, knows that it’ll be the most expensive thing stolen yet).

“STOP!” Kara shouts, finds her feet faltering when a feminine laugh echoes down the hallway. The thief barely even slows as they turn their head to look carelessly over their shoulder. Kara wonders what the smirk that she knows she’d find under the mask looks like, wonders how she hadn’t noticed before now that it was a woman, wonders if the woman was even a little bit startled by the sight of Kara following her, chasing her.

“Does that actually work?” The woman calls out, in a honeyed tone that Kara thinks she might have found attractive if she heard it in a different situation, if the woman didn’t sound so smug and amused, if Kara herself wasn’t a little out of breath and a lot out of patience.

“Well, yeah, people don’t usually like to be shot.” Honestly it worked almost always. She herself had always thought it a little ridiculous, but the fear of a gun was generally enough to halt any movements.

Apparently not today, not this time, not for this woman.

Maybe it wasn’t her first time with one pointed her way. Maybe it wasn’t the first time she’d evaded a bullet. Maybe she knew the chances of Kara actually firing at her were slim to none. Maybe she was just an idiot (although her track record would definitely argue against that one. As would the fact that Kara had trapped many an idiot with an empty threat and a simple stop). Whatever the reason, the woman doesn’t stop running, simply laughs at Kara’s response and makes a sharp turn to disappear out of Kara’s eye line.

“Are you going to shoot me?” She calls questioningly, in a tone that suggests she’s sure the answer is no, and Kara is almost tempted to shout back yes just to shock her, just to feel like she’s not the only one being surprised at every turn.

“I might.” She won’t. Her safety is still on. Her finger is barely touching the trigger. Truthfully, she’s never fired her gun at anyone before, never had to, never wanted to, always finding that most situations could be fixed with words, or a swift punch to the face.

Kara takes the corner slowly, tentatively, cautiously. She allows herself a smile when she finds the masked woman standing on a balcony ledge. A dead end. Kara has her. She finally has her.

“You know, I don’t always mind a little bit of pain. Perhaps you can shoot me next time?” Kara scoffs. The woman simply tilts her head like she’s legitimately awaiting the answer, like there will actually be a next time after this. The only ‘next time’ would be when Kara was taking her statement, and very unprofessionally revelling in the signed confession.

“Next time? You’re stuck on a ledge with no way past me. So... how about you get down from there and I take you to the station.” It’s not a question. It’s not even a plea. The woman has to get down eventually, and when she does Kara’s more than ready to put her in cuffs.

“Tempting but I’m afraid I have an appointment to make.”

“Wha-“ Kara has barely had a chance to begin her sentence by the time the woman spreads her arms and drops from the ledge. She’s at the edge in a second, worriedly staring over the railing. She’s not sure exactly what she expects to find, though the way her heart pounds in her throat suggests she wasn’t expecting anything good. She does know that she definitely didn’t expect to find the woman safely tucked amidst garbage bags in a truck that’s already pulling away.

Kara huffs as she catches sight of the parting salute the woman sends.

She huffs a little more aggressively the next morning when she finds a familiar calling card sitting on her desk, scoffs harshly when she sees the words, ‘a blindfold with those handcuffs wouldn’t go amiss’,  written in neat cursive before her eyes fall upon the winking face she had come to expect.

The woman’s smug, and infuriating, and somehow always one step ahead of Kara, and she hates her.

Kara hates her.


 

Kara has two more near catches in the following two weeks.

In this instance, ‘near catches’ really means that Kara was actually in the same building as the thief when her newest heist went down, as opposed to the other four times in those two weeks in which Kara didn’t even know the woman had stolen something else until a new report landed on her desk.

It’s frustrating.

She’s frustrating.

And now Kara was stuck acting as glorified security to one of Maxwell Lord’s latest innovations because he was sure he would be hit next and he gave enough money to the force that the commissioner actually listened to him.

All she’d been doing for the past two hours was standing stoic in a room, watching the door and occasionally flicking her eyes over to the vials she was meant to be protecting. Vials. She was essentially babysitting some vials because the city’s elite had started to get spooked. It was ridiculous. This whole thing was ridiculous.

Kara had taken down drug dealers. She’d been undercover and made black market deals with real life criminals. She stopped an armed robbery at a convenience store when she wasn’t even on duty, when she didn’t even have her gun on her. She was a detective. A legitimate detective - a pretty good one if she said so herself, yet here she was, alone and bored and not even allowed to eat an unhealthy amount of Cheetos like she usually would on a stakeout because of ‘contamination issues’.

“It’s not that bad, Kara,” Winn remarks through her earpiece after she sighs for what feels like the millionth time (it’s probably not far off). She sighs again just to spite him because at least he was in the van, at least he got to sit down, and play games on his phone, and eat the snacks he thought he’d successfully hidden from Kara in a bid to not make her feel worse about her situation.

“Not five minutes ago you said, and I quote, ‘this is the worst day of my life and I hate everything’,” she argues back, mocking the whine she had chuckled at not long ago, though her words are more teasing than anything. Kara knows she couldn’t have gotten through the last two hours without Winn telling her the most random facts he knows, or coming out with more and more ridiculous theories about who their mystery thief could be under the mask - his vengeful ghost theory was her personal favourite so far.

“Yes, but that was before James texted me to say he’s stuck training Mike on parking duty.” Kara can’t help the small chuckle that slips from her lips, can’t help but picture the over the top eye roll James would have produced, and the immediate way his hands would have reached for his phone to inform the two of them of his misfortune.

“You’re right, it’s not that bad.” Winn joins in with her laughter at her response, offering up his best Mike impression until Kara can barely breathe. She’s really not sure how the man ended up on the force, or how he was maintaining his position. He never followed rules, or respected authority. He hit on anything with two legs and a pulse. And then there was the time she found him doing things in one of the precinct storerooms. That certainly wasn’t an experience Kara was jumping to repeat.

The two of them are relatively quiet for a moment as Kara completes a quick perimeter check and Winn flicks through the camera feeds for anything suspicious. Kara doesn’t think they’ll find anything, doesn’t think that, even if Lord’s suspicious are correct, they’ll see the thief coming. They certainly never had before.

“Why do you think we’re protecting this anyway? I mean, that building is filled with prototypes that are probably worth millions, if not billions, and we’re watching vials. Vials that we know nothing about, other than that they’re probably shady. ” Oh, they were definitely shady. Lord wasn’t exactly forthright with information, and Kara had met enough sketchy businessmen to be able to pick them from a line-up.

“I think you could probably answer most of those questions yourself.”

“Kara Danvers, is this you giving me hacking permission?” She shouldn’t. She should definitely stop him from doing something that is both against protocol and outright illegal. She should. She won’t. At least it’d be both her and Winn in trouble when Chief Jones inevitably found out what they’d done behind his back - that is if he didn’t do that thing where he outwardly pretended to disapprove but ultimately helped them carry out their plans anyway.

“This is me being bored enough to allow my curiosity to get the better of me.”

“Yes!” Kara can’t help but grin at her friends excitement but she doesn’t find out what they’re for, doesn’t get a chance to have her mistrust for Lord validated. Not yet anyway. Not yet because she only gets a second to enjoy Winn’s contagious enthusiasm before an obnoxious alarm sounds.

“Fancy seeing you here, Detective.” Great. Kara spins towards the sound of the voice, mentally cataloguing the room’s exits - both the actual doors and then all the other ‘exits’ that wouldn’t be considered exits by anyone other than the woman standing in front of her, the woman who had a penchant for daring (and immensely annoying) escapes.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be... mask face.” She really should have let Winn think up a name for her. At first she hadn’t wanted to validate the thief by giving her a codename - one that would indefinitely inflate her ego. Now, however, now she was open to something, honestly anything, that wasn’t ‘mask face’.

“Oh that’s so sweet and a pet name - I’m glad we’re finally taking this relationship to the next level.” Kara can hear the smirk in her voice, can see the amusement in her subtly shaking shoulders, can practically feel the arrogance rolling off her in waves.

“No, tha- we’re not. I didn’t-“

“Who knew I could get you so tongue tied.” Kara could just punch her. She should just punch her. Two steps. One fist. Easy. Except that she had no idea of what kind of ninja skills the woman could be hiding, and considering the ease at which she dropped from a second story height, she must have at least some skill, at least enough to give her the confidence to pick up the vials casually, like the fact that Kara was watching her two feet away was nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

That, or she was just that reckless, which was definitely worse.

“You can’t take that,” Kara points out obviously. She feels like an idiot the moment the words are out, regrets them the moment the woman begins openly laughing at her.

“That’s almost as laughable as the ‘stop’ you hit me with last time.” So she was apparently doing impressions now. Impressions of Kara. Incredibly off base and annoying impressions of Kara. To Kara’s face. Who the hell was this woman?

“I don’t sound like that,” Kara responds indignantly, though she’s not exactly sure what she expects to gain from arguing back against the woman. Honestly, the answer is probably just some time. Time to figure out how to gain leverage in this situation, time to work out what the woman’s plan might have been, time to work out what was even so special about these vials in the first place (and what the hell the unspecified substance inside them was).

“You’re right. It was more like STOP.” Okay, so that one actually was a little bit better. A little.

“Regardless of your terrible impressions,” Kara begins. She finds herself halting unconsciously as the woman’s laughter sounds, partially muffled by her mask but still irritatingly melodic. “You have to hand those to me right now,” she finishes, subtly edging closer.

“As cute as you are, I can’t do that.”

“Hand them over so they can stay with their rightful owner.”

“And that’s Maxwell Lord?” Honestly, at this point, Kara wasn’t even sure. Everything about this situation seemed off. Everything about Maxwell Lord seemed off. But she was an officer of the law, and she wasn’t about to openly let the very thing was supposed to stop from happening, happen. She was going to stop the vials from being stolen, and then see if Winn managed to uncover something about Lord so that they could ruin his day the legal way... the semi-legal way.

“This is his building, his company.” His probably nefariously gained vials.

“And that means everything inside must be his?” The woman challenges and Kara will admit that her curiosity is piqued. The woman makes it sounds so mysterious. The woman makes it seem like she’s pushing for Kara to figure out the truth and maybe it’s the low timbre of the woman’s voice, or just her general dislike for Maxwell Lord, but Kara is ready to go searching for answers.

“Ok, I’ll bite - whose is it?”

“Well I can’t tell you that. You might try to take it back, or take me in. Again.” Again? How was there possibly supposed to be an again after this? Winn was waiting outside the building and had presumably called for backup. Lord’s own security teams were scattered around the building. Kara herself was standing in between the woman and escape. There was no way out. Please say there was no way out.

“I’m taking you in now.” Kara tries to sound confident. She thinks she might actually have pulled it off until she realises the woman is waving her hand dismissively.

“We both know that’s not true.”

“We do?”

“Well, I do and you will in three, two, one-“ It’s ridiculous, what comes next. Ridiculous, and unpredictable, and the most infuriating thing Kara has ever experienced (even if it is also, maybe, a little bit cool).

The woman throws a pellet at the floor and suddenly smoke and sparks explode, but only for a few seconds. Three second of disorientated shouting, and a little bit of floundering, and the smoke disappears, along with any trace that she was even there in the first place - beyond the missing vials and Kara’s clenched fists.

“Oh, come on, she’s a magician now?!”

Kara gets chewed out by Lord for twenty minutes about shoddy police work, and her own personal failures. She gets another ten minute lecture when she gets back to precinct, one that she’s sure she only manages to make it through because of the witty commentary Winn is sure to deliver when they finally escape the chief’s office.

She’s still half trying to figure out how she did it, and half too busy stewing in her own anger and annoyance when Alex appears by her desk, and she’s thankful for a friendly face - even if said friendly face might berate her for going toe-to-toe with a criminal, despite doing it herself on a seemingly daily basis.

“I heard Maxwell Lord was the latest victim of the masked bandit.” Well that name was certainly better than mask face, though arguably not as clever as Winn’s ‘Swinderella’ (“you know, because she’s swindling people out of their stuff?”).

Although her opinion on that may have been slightly swayed by how excited Winn had sounded when he proposed the name, and how he paired it with a fist pump when he got Kara to laugh. Not that she would be calling her Swinderella to anyone other than Winn, especially not after their last clever nickname got out.

“Yeah,” Kara sighs dejectedly. It’s not like she’s particularly sad that Lord got hit, or that she thinks Alex will judge her for losing the woman again. In fact, she knows that it was probably karma for Lord to have something stolen (something that, at this point, Kara was sure wasn’t even his), and that Alex has had far tougher breaks on cases, has messed up more times than she’d like to admit.

The melancholy comes more from the fact that she was sure this was going to be it, that she was finally going to capture the thief, and instead she was left looking like an idiot and the woman was out there, free and clear with the vials, probably laughing the whole situation up.

Kara’s eyes dip to the newest card on her desk. Scratch that.  She was definitely out there laughing the whole thing up.

“Good.”

“Alex, you can’t say that!” Kara tries to argue, in spite of the way her shoulders are already shaking and that the words are quickly punctuated with barely stifled laughter.

“I’m pretty sure I just did. Lord is an egocentric douchebag.”True. But still...

“Doesn’t make theft legal.”

“And hacking private systems is?” She never should have let Winn hack the system, and not even because it was definitely breaking some laws, but because he couldn’t lie to save his life, especially not to Alex. At least Kara pulled off her lies most of the time. Often... Sometimes... She swears she definitely pulled it off a couple of times.

“Lord is sketchy and a lot of things weren’t adding up. And anyway, Winn found discrepancies and a lot of secret files on those vials that he’s still trying to decode but definitely aren’t anything good.” Translation: definitely suspicious enough for them to not get in trouble for the original hacking, maybe even suspect enough that they would get (unspoken) permission for further hacking.

“So maybe your thief was justified.” Kara doesn’t miss the emphasis Alex puts on the word, doesn’t miss the smirk she almost manages to conceal. She shouldn’t have spent twenty minutes at the last sister night confiding in Alex about the weird flirting her, the, thief had been doing.

“She’s not my thief.”

“You might want to tell her that.” Alex eyes the pile of cards on Kara’s desk. The ever growing pile. The pile that sometimes grew even when no theft had taken place. The pile that housed the newest card, the newest taunt, the newest message.

I can show you some real magic if you’d like.

Kara really needed to catch her already.


 

Kara hadn’t seen the thief all week, hadn’t done anything more exciting than give out parking tickets to people who dared to park in disabled bays and then argue with her when they got caught. Well, nothing more exciting, except for the ten or so seconds she got to read Maxwell Lord his Miranda rights when they arrested him for illegal human experiments.

That was pretty exciting.

(Super exciting).

Except that then she was immediately bored again because she realised the one person she wanted to inform of his arrest, was the one person who had mysteriously disappeared for the week - the week that was completely dragging because no one was stealing anything, or hacking anything, or even just doing some nice, casual B&E.

It’s not like she was openly going to admit that she missed the masked thief, but she definitely missed the masked thief - which was probably why she was on her feet and in her cruiser the second an alert came through her radio about a robbery in progress at the Sinclair Estate.

There’s a part of Kara that’s sure it’ll be someone else, that her thief will continue to hide in the shadows for a little bit longer. There’s also another, louder part of her that’s brimming with excitement for the chase, and the comebacks, and the prospect of getting to find out what the woman looks like under the mask when Kara finally catches her.

She’s probably spent a little too much time thinking about the woman’s face, about how her smirk would spread across her lips, how her brow would furrow when she realised Kara had finally bested her (read: Kara had undoubtedly spent too much time thinking about those things).

For now though she’s willing to accept simply getting to hear the tone of utter surprise as she finally got to be the one who appeared out of nowhere, as she got to be the one with the upper hand.

“I don’t believe that belongs to you,” Kara says with a smirk. She doesn’t expect the muffled yelp that the woman emits, but that only makes her revel in the sound just that little bit more - as does the way the masked thief fumbles with the necklace she had expertly removed from the pressure plated case only moments before.

“It doesn’t belong to dear Veronica either.” The thief swivels slowly, pocketing the necklace before she’s finally made her way to face Kara, and Kara can only imagine the challenging smile, the subtle lift of her eyebrow daring Kara to make a move.

“How did you know Lord had those vials?” She shouldn’t be asking the question, especially not now. She shouldn’t be prolonging this, shouldn’t be giving this woman more time to plan her escape, or re-plan what was sure to be another miraculous and extremely elaborate getaway, but she’s curious.

She’s curious to the point of stupidity. Interested to the point of bad decision making. Intrigued to the point that, knowing what this woman’s obsession with true ownership was, seemed far more important than protecting a necklace that no one even wore.

“Let’s just say that someone confided in me about their troubles and I had a little time on my hands to do some... perusing through his system.”

“Perusing? Is that what we’re calling hacking these days?” Of course she knew her way around computers. Of course she had to be mysteriously amazing at yet another thing. Robbery. Magic. Hacking. Making Kara feel like a flustered idiot.

“I merely managed to stumble upon an unsecured network. Completely harmless,” she says dismissively and Kara scoffs without much thought.

“Somehow I don’t think harmless is a word people usually use to describe you, though I don’t suppose harmful fits so well either. We managed to charge him - partially because of you I guess.” Winn had actually done most of the work, but Kara wouldn’t have pushed it if it weren’t for the woman, wouldn’t have been up until two in the morning the night of the theft plying Winn with coffee and tirelessly trying to figure out what Lord was hiding and how they could legally charge him without bringing their indiscretions to light.

“Are you thanking me?” She sounds mostly shocked and Kara may have offered an actual thank you if it were someone else - someone who didn’t also happen to sound incredibly smug, and who didn’t seem to get a kick out of rattling Kara’s cage.

“I’m acknowledging your part in taking a bad man down.”

“Sounds like you’re thanking me.”

“I’ll be cuffing you if you don’t leave right now.” She’s going to regret this. She already regrets it a little bit and it hasn’t happened yet. “Without the necklace,” Kara adds quickly when the woman begins to turn towards the exit.

“You still think asking nicely is going to stop me, Detective Danvers?”  She knew her name. She knew her name, and was saying it in that voice, and how did she even know her name? Did she Google her? Did she see her in the papers? Did she go as far as to hack the police data base?

Regardless, this woman knew exactly who she was and Kara didn’t even have a clue what she looked like. It wasn’t fair. Was the woman fair? Would her eyes still look green if Kara moved closer, or would they actually be blue? Was her smile bright or timid? Was her hair flowing or cropped?

Why did Kara even care?

“I think I can stop you with a Taser.” Kara slips the device from her belt and watches it crackle with a devious grin as her finger skims the button. She watches the woman’s throat bob at the action, swears she actually, audibly hears the harsh swallow, wonders if she pulled off the threat as well as she’d hoped, or if this had somehow stumbled into different territory entirely.

“Threatening is a good look on you,” she offers lowly.

“Thank you,” Kara finds herself replying without conscious thought.

“Not good enough though.” She really should have seen it coming. An escape that is. There was absolutely no way she was going to have seen the actual escape coming. It was like something out of an action movie, or one of Kara’s more elaborate dreams back when she was going through her phase of binging spy thrillers.

The woman shoots her crossbow seemingly haphazardly towards the ceiling, never once moving her eyes from Kara. Kara who barely realises the arrow broke through a skylight until the woman is ascending towards her escape and glass was raining down in her place.

“This is just getting ridiculous,” Kara mutters as she catches sight of the woman’s now signature salute before she disappears across the rooftop. It was ridiculous, and impressive, and still so massively infuriating.

(But maybe Kara hated it all a little bit less...

Maybe).


 

She was back to full hate.

Full ‘if I had super powers I’d throw you into space’ hate.

Full ‘can’t even begin to be nice about you because you just stole from the legitimate mayor of National City and I’m in actual trouble with my boss this time because you always have some ridiculous, and completely unfathomable, escape plan in the works’ hate.

Full ‘I haven’t eaten dinner because I had to write up a report on your latest heist instead’ hate.

Truthfully, it was probably mostly the latter that had her agitated. It’s definitely the last one that has her muttering to herself as she unlocks the door to the apartment, definitely the last one that has her continuing her muttering as she, more than aggressively, throws her keys onto the table by said door.

“Stupid, insufferable flirt with stupidly well executed heists, and a stupid mask, and extra stupid escape plans that don’t even sound remotely plausible in a police repor-“

“At least say it to my face.” Kara lets a few choice words slip from her lips as her hand flicks immediately to the gun still strapped to her hip. “Hey, no need for that.” Kara would beg to differ. Kara is going to beg to differ.

“You broke into my apartment.” The numerous museums, and banks, and research facilities she could eventually excuse, but her apartment. A woman whose name she didn’t even know had broken into her apartment. Casually. She was just casually in Kara’s apartment.

The apartment that she hadn’t cleaned in forever beyond a quick sweep with a trash bag last week. The apartment that had plates, unwashed, just stewing the sink, and clothes, unwashed, just thrown on the floor because Kara hadn’t had a chance to put a load on since the weekend. The apartment that she had locked this morning and that she was sure was still locked when she came home.

“Technically I didn't break into anything. You left the window open.” Well that answered the question of how. Kara was still kinda confused as to the why though.

“Oh right, well this is perfectly fine then,” Kara deadpans, though her hand strays away from her gun, instead working to take off her jacket and hang it up. It strikes her, as she pours herself a glass on water with steady hands, that she isn’t nervous, doesn’t fear for her life.

It’s an odd realisation to come to, odd to think that a stranger had broken into her home and she was more confused than anything else. She should be secretly texting Alex, or Winn, or someone. She should be checking the woman for weapons. She should be taking this opportunity to finally put the woman in handcuffs and take her in. Instead she slowly sips her water and eyes the woman lingering by the window like she actually feels bad for intruding in Kara’s private space.

“I'm sensing you don't really mean that.”

“You're clever.”

“Thank you. I'm also in a lot of pain.” That’s when Kara notices the way the woman is clutching her side, the constant flow of blood that trickles slowly from between her fingers and along her arm, drenching the fabric of her shirt. It’s then that Kara takes note of her strained voice, the shallow, shaky nature of her breathing, the tremble visibly running through her body.

“What happened?” Kara strides across the room before she can second guess herself, gently pushes the woman’s hand away to gage the level of damage, to assess what kind of damage it was.

“I was, perhaps, stabbed a little bit,” the woman offers offhandedly, gasping as Kara pulls the fabric of her shirt from the wound. Kara offers a mumbled apology as steers the woman towards a chair so that she can get a better look.

“Stabbed?” Of course she just so happened to get stabbed. And of course she was able to say that so casually like it was a common occurrence for people to get stabbed. And of course she had to get stabbed and then come to Kara’s apartment - Kara who just so happened to be actively investigating her crimes and would get in so much trouble if this were to get out without her reporting it.

“I had a small mishap with a client.” This woman was a lunatic. A reckless lunatic.

“A small mishap which lead to you being stabbed? What exactly is a big mishap?” Being shot? Losing a limb or two in an explosion? Being thrown from a moving plane with nothing but the clothes on your back and a huge amount of justified fear?

“I imagine a broken leg, perhaps some missing fingers.” Ah, of course.

“Okay, great, but I'm a cop not a doctor.”

“But you look like the kind of girl who has done a first aid course, or at least sewn up some pants at some point.” Was that supposed to be an insult or a compliment? An observation? All of the above?

“Why on earth would you come here and think I'd help you?” This whole thing barely made sense. A thief that she had been tracking and (miserably failing at) attempting to capture had openly climbed into her apartment with a knife wound, apparently from another theft related incident, and wanted her help. Surely she had friends. Surely she at least had the money to pay a doctor to discreetly stitch her up. Surely she had plans in place for this kind of thing that didn’t include going to the cop who had been openly hunting her down.

“You seem nice.”

“I seem nice?” Kara asks incredulously.

“You're also insanely good-looking and if I'm going to bleed out, it'd be nice to go with a view.” And they were back to the flirting. The desperately annoying flirting. The flirting that was desperately annoying because it actually got to her. It wasn’t the first time a perp had hit on Kara. In fact, she oddly got hit on by criminals all the time, but they were usually creepy men and they didn’t usually make Kara’s pulse stop and start with a couple of tangible quips and imagined smirks.

“You're insufferable,” Kara mutters, rolling her eyes exasperatedly.

“I'm also free next Thursday, if you wanted to grab dinner.”

“I don't even know what you look like,” Kara tries. She half says it to stop this line of conversation, and half says it because she wants to know. Kara wants to know what the woman looks like, has spent far too much time thinking of what the woman looks like. She knew the curve of her body, and the stretch of her neck. She was attuned to the sound of her voice and the silence of her footsteps. But her face. Her face eluded her and she was tired of not knowing, tired of losing sleep over something that shouldn’t even concern her in the slightest.

“I didn't peg you as shallow,” the woman quips and Kara huffs an abrupt sigh, motioning for her to stay as she resigns herself to her fate and goes off to grab her first aid kit. She doesn’t expect to find the woman maskless when she comes back, doesn’t expect to find herself staring at an uncovered face, doesn’t expect said uncovered face to be so pretty.

She just had to be pretty.

Her eyes are somehow brighter against a backdrop of pale skin and dark hair, and definitely green. Ineffably green. Disarmingly green. A striking kind of green that Kara might have argued wasn’t even possible if she hadn’t witnessed it firsthand. They rest atop sharp cheekbones, and an even sharper jaw, and Kara wants to look away. She wants to look away from smirking red lips, and even slightly reddening skin but she can't quite bring herself to.

Not yet.

Not for a moment.

Not until she's mentally catalogued the most important parts of a face she's almost certain she won't get to see again. She memorises it like you might a city, looks for landmarks - startling eyes, strong jaw, plump lips - and then loses herself in the charming markets, the quaint side streets, hidden alleyways - blue speckled amongst the green, the inimitable curve of her lips, the almost imperceptible scar beneath her right eyebrow.

Kara tears her eyes away the moment she hears a throaty chuckle, the moment she realises her staring isn’t subtle at all and remembers that this isn’t the kind of woman she should allowing herself to stare at - no matter how beautiful she may be.

She busies herself with grabbing the things she needs and sterilising a needle whilst she valiantly attempts to ignore the way the woman behind her hums a cracked tune. She turns round when she feels she’s finally got a hold on herself, when she thinks she might actually be able to keep herself together and-

Oh...

Her shirt is off.

Her shirt just had to be off.

Kara knows it’s necessary, knows she needs to be able to access the wound to stitch it up, but she hadn’t thought that far ahead, hadn’t thought this far ahead, to the point where she had an incredibly attractive, and incredibly shirtless thief in her apartment. She hadn’t accounted for sweaty palms or laboured breaths, hadn’t prepared for the little voice in the back of her head whispering that she wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit more skin.

But she powers through it all, pushes herself to close the remaining gap between them, challenges her hands to remain steady as they reach towards crimson soaked skin, as her fingers brush against a soft, heated stomach that flinches slightly as the disinfectant makes contact. But she can do this. Kara can do this. She can clean the wound, and then kick the woman out, and get back to tirelessly trying to catch her because doing it now feels a little like cheating (and, honestly, Kara enjoys the chase way too much to let it end like this).

“Am I allowed to ask how you got stabbed?”

“You’re allowed to ask whatever you want, it’s your home.”

“Are you going to answer the questions I ask?” Kara can’t say she has a lot of faith considering all she currently knew about this woman were her criminal exploits and history of evasion.

“I just might.”

“How’d you get stabbed?” Kara asks, immediately holding up a hand to silence the woman when she sees the smirk apparent on her lips. “Don’t say with a knife,” she continues, smiling victoriously when the woman deflates and evidently begins to rethink her answer.

“I had a disagreement of sorts with a man who paid me to steal something. It turns out it wasn’t his to be had and he didn’t seem to appreciate my sense of honour - had one of his men slice into me.” A disagreement? A disagreement resulted in her having a knife slashed across her abdomen? What kind of disagreement ended with a one-sided knife fight? What kind of people was she having disagreements with? Why was this making the whole situation ten times more confusing?

“Honour? You’re a thief,” Kara states pointedly, walking to the kitchen to wash her hands and grab some vodka and ice, all the while attempting to understand when this became her life, when she suddenly became the kind of person to do shoddy stitches in her apartment.

“Robin Hood was a thief but everyone loved him.”

“So you’re Robin Hood now?”

“In a way. I only steal things that were already stolen, like the painting I took the time you tried to shoot me. The man who loaned it to the museum had it stolen from a sweet couple in Germany. They were about to lose their house, so I took it back.” Not for the first time, Kara wonders if this woman is telling the truth, if maybe things aren’t as simple as they seem.

She was right about Maxwell Lord. She was probably right about Veronica Sinclair given that woman’s criminal record. The woman had to at least trust Kara would find the truth in her side of the story if she was willing to show her face.

(Unless she was just trying to throw Kara off of her game...

She had definitely thrown Kara off of her game).

“And I’m just supposed to take your word for it?”

“I have a few tricks that might convince you if you’d like,” she husks, the corner of her lip upturned in a teasing smile as her eyebrow cocks daringly. Kara delights in pressing ice around the woman’s wound, if only for her shocked gasp and the affronted look she sends Kara’s way.

“Is everything sexual to you?” Kara will admit that her words are both an attempt to take the heat off of herself, and an attempt to see if this is just the woman’s nature or if maybe, just maybe, the fact that she’s been senselessly flirting with Kara for weeks actually means something. Kara will also admit that it’s ridiculous. That she’s being ridiculous. Ridiculously ridiculous.

“Of course not. Jelly is never sexual - too sticky. Oh, and don’t even get me started on pineapples.”

“You’re an idiot. You’re also going to want some of this.” Kara holds the vodka out, stifles her laughter as the woman has three solid mouthfuls before wincing grandly and nodding towards Kara in a please just do it now way.

“If I’m an idiot, what does that make you, considering I’ve outsmarted you upwards of ten times?”

“The person legitimately pushing a needle through your skin.”

“Touché.” It startles Kara as she begins finishing up that she hadn’t felt the need to fill the silence left between the swish of vodka from the bottle and subtle agitated gasps. She tries to blame it on the need for focus but she was aware of the silence and it was comfortable. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt comfortable in silence with someone other than Alex or Winn. “You have very steady hands.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’d like them on your body or whatever.”

“I was going to say you’d make quite a good thief yourself, but I’m more than happy to take the sexual route.” Okay, so she set herself up for that one.

“Do you have a name?” She wants to know. She arguably needs to know. She was tired of calling her the thief, or the masked bandit, or the woman, or just her. She was tired of knowing absolutely nothing about her. She was tired of feeling like a complete idiot for crushing on a person whose name she didn’t even know - it was bad enough that she was the idiot who was beginning to develop a crush on a known criminal.

“I do.” She smiles cheekily and Kara sighs with yet another eye roll as she presses a bandage over her haphazard stitch job, because why would she have even expected anything else. This woman wasn’t stupid. She wasn’t just going to give her name out to a police offic- “Lena.”

“Is that your real name?” Kara asks somewhat incredulously because it can’t be that simple. She couldn’t have been this curious for months, only to find out the answer simply from asking for it.

“Yes,” she replies simply, securing the gauze on her side before slipping her shirt back over her head.

Lena,” Kara tests before she can stop herself, before she can catch the tone of wonder that trickles off her tongue and wraps itself around the name. Her name. Lena. Her name was Lena and it seemed so normal, so every day, so simple. It was kinda beautiful.

“Consider it a thank you for helping me out.”

“You could hand yourself in if you really want to say thanks.”

“But where’s the fun in that?” It’s weird watching her simply climb out the window, watching Lena climb out the window. There’s no tricks, no smoke, no arrows. Instead she sends one last smile Kara’s way before disappearing the same way she came in.

Kara briefly wonders how many reports of a strange woman scaling the side of her apartment building she’ll get tomorrow until she’s startled by the sight of the black mask sitting casually on her chair. She should hand it in. She should drive straight back to the precinct that second and have it tested for prints or DNA. She should look up her name in the database and scan for that, way too pretty, face.

Kara should do a lot of things.

She does none of them.

When she wakes up the mask is gone.


 

Maybe next time you can have your shirt off too... xo

Kara's been staring at the card, and the bouquet it's attached to, for the past forty minutes. She had also, perhaps, been thinking about it for that same amount of time. It being Lena with her shirt off, and Kara with her shirt off, and the two of them together with their shirts off, doing stuff and... things. Lena being stuff, and Kara being things.

She's blushing just thinking about it. She really should stop thinking about it. Truthfully, she has tried. She's tried to go back to work like eight times - it's just that every time she goes to do work her eyes slip back to the bouquet, and then she starts thinking about the words on the card, and then she's back to staring into space and thinking about things she really shouldn't be thinking about.

It's a vicious cycle.

It's a dangerous cycle.

She looks back down at the card. It's in the same elegant scrawl as always but this time it's punctuated with 'xo' instead of a winking face and Kara would be lying if she said she hadn't been analysing that fact for over ten minutes.

Although, she supposes it's a little less embarrassing when you consider the fact that she spent fifteen minutes before that researching the flowers. Plumerias. It took her ten minutes to find the name of them, another five for her to find the meaning - new beginnings, charm, beauty. She caught herself blushing a little at the latter before she remembered she was sitting in the bullpen, a grand total of two feet away from Winn who had been eyeing her suspiciously since the delivery came.

She knew she was being ridiculous. She did. Really. But then she remembered Lena’s eyes, and her smile, and the softness of her skin, and she was straight back to acting like a love-struck teenager with their first ever crush. It was stupid. So stupid. She barely knew her, had barely interacted with her, but she was pretty and interesting and had inadvertently helped Kara put a bunch of high profile people in jail.

“Okay, I can’t hold it in anymore. Who are they from?” Winn practically shouts, wincing apologetically when he draws the attention of almost everyone in the room but still deciding to loudly roll his chair over to Kara’s desk at the same time. He was the most idiotic genius Kara knew. Not that she could claim she knew a lot of people fitting that description, and not that any of them could compare to the wonder of Winn Schott.

“No one. They’re from no one.” She might have gotten away with it. She probably would have gotten away with it. Winn would have noticed that she didn’t want to talk about it and gone back to his work whilst sending occasional looks Kara’s way in the hopes she would eventually spill. She would have gotten away with it. She definitely would have, if Alex hadn’t shown up and plucked the card out of her hands excitedly that is.

“Another message from your thief?” Alex almost sounds excited at the prospect; although the excitement, nor her smile, last for very long as she actually takes in the words written down. “Next time you can have your shirt off too? Next time? Too?”

“I know right? I’m confused too, like what does that even mean?” Kara lets out a laugh that sounds half nervous and half maniacal as she fiddles uneasily with her ear, wishing she had worn her glasses instead of contacts as a last form of defence against the stare Alex was pointedly directing at her.

“Kara,” Alex says lowly.

“Alex,” Kara mimics back.

“Why were you with a shirtless criminal?” It was a good question - succinct, pointed, perfectly phrased to make Kara have a minor freak out, or a major one. Realistically a major one because how exactly what she supposed to explain the situation? I stitched up a known criminal in my apartment with my second rate first aid kit? I got so distracted by her face and gentle curves that it didn’t occur to me that what I did could technically be seen as aiding and abetting? I’m a huge woman loving mess?

“Alex, what? No. I-I wasn’t with a shirtless criminal. I wasn’t with a shirtless anyone but myself, not because someone took my shirt off though, obviously, because I was alone. It’s just that when you, you know, get ready for bed and stuff, you have to take your shirt off to put on your-“

“Kara, stop trying to lie before you explode. You can’t lie to save your life.”

"Hey, I can lie!" She totally could. She got off her shift just last month by lying about having a dental emergency when she really just needed a good nap. She had Detective Willis convinced she liked her brownies more than the ones from the bakery round the corner from the precinct. Heck, she’d even been lying endlessly to Mike for the past few weeks to get out of going on a date with him (although she wasn’t sure how many more hair wash related emergencies she could get away with before she needed a new excuse).

"Not to your friends." That was a good point. Except...

"I lied to you about your surprise party last month." Kara pumps her fist in excitement over her victory; she even goes as far as putting her hand up to high five Winn before Alex’s words stop her.

"You lied terribly. I only didn't question it because Lucy already spilled everything."

"Lucy?" Lucy Lane spilling a secret? That made absolutely no sense. She lived for secrets. She loved secrets. She practically ate secrets for breakfast before she went off on her day of secret keeping. Kara was actually pretty sure it’s and classified were her two favourite words.

"She was afraid I'd pull my gun on everyone when they jumped out." Okay, well, that actually made a lot of sense considering Alex’s birthday the year before when Kara let Lucy into Alex’s apartment to leave her a present and Alex legitimately called in the bomb squad because it was a ‘suspicious package’. It’s safe to say everyone got a little kick out of that phrasing after they discovered what was really inside the box (it was most definitely not a bomb, but it was a source of a lot of discomfort for Kara).

"Probably a smart move," Winn chimes in with a smirk on his face that says he was following the exact same train of thought as Kara - a train that had Alex smacking him upside the head before turning her intense gaze back to her sister.

“Back to Kara. What were you thinking?!”

“It’s not what you think. She was stabbed, and she was in my apartment bleeding everywhere. What was I supposed to do, let her bleed out on my rug?” It was a really nice looking rug and perhaps (definitely) an even nicer looking woman.

“You call it in or you call me. I always have your back. Always.” Kara knows it’s true, knows that Alex has had her back more times than anyone, knows that Alex has been right by her side ever since she was first brought into the Danvers’ home, tears still streaking her face and a picture of her parents clutched so tightly in her fist it was more rips than photograph. Kara knows that Alex would’ve respected any decision she made and would definitely have done a better job with the stitches.

She knows.

But Kara also knows that she didn’t want Lena to spook, that she wanted to know something about this woman who evaded her at every turn. She knows that her judgement was clouded a little by intrigue and a lot by genuine confusion as to how someone so meticulous could be so reckless.

Kara knows she could have called Alex, should have called Alex, but she also knows the voice in the back of her head is right. The one that whispers she wouldn’t know Lena’s name, or her face, if Alex had been anywhere near her apartment last night.

“I know, I know and I should have but I saw blood and I just panicked a little. I want to catch her but she doesn’t deserve to die, especially not in my new apartment.” She literally just signed the lease, and her neighbour had an adorable cat for which she had devised a three month plan to gradually convince him to come live with her instead.

“Did you at least find out something about her? What she looks like? A name, maybe?”

“No, nothing. Well, other than she thinks herself a Robin Hood type figure - exposing the rich, giving back to the poor and disenfranchised.” Kara feels bad for lying. She feels worse knowing that Alex will see straight through the tense words, and even tenser posture, as she tries to pull off the lie.

“Look, Kara, I trust that if you’re lying you have a reason, but if someone else finds out you’re hiding something, you could get in some real trouble.”

“I know, Alex.”

“Just be careful,” Alex pleads and Kara nods in an unspoken promise. She won’t be stupid or she’ll at least limit her stupidity to legal realms or, more realistically, she’ll still be incredibly stupid but maybe just not in places where she eats, and sleeps, and has neighbours who were looking for the cat Kara had temporarily lured into her apartment with food and witnessed an unidentified woman on the fire escape.

“Not to interrupt this beautiful moment, but an alarm was triggered in the National City Bank vault, only all other security was disabled perfectly and there’s a suspicious lack of hostages and masked men with guns which kinda suggests-“

“It’s her,” Kara finishes, grabbing the keys to her cruiser and walking to the door before Winn can even finish his thought.

“Keep your shirt on!” Alex calls after her and Kara’s rolling her eyes even before she hears Winn’s abrupt laughter and the sharp slap of their hands as they high five at Kara’s expense. Sometimes she really wishes she hadn’t adopted Winn into their ever more confusing little family.

It occurs to Kara as she gets in the car that she probably shouldn’t go. She really shouldn’t go. She doesn’t even know what she plans to do when she gets there, if she happens to find Lena there. She should really make a plan, try to figure out a way that she can get her head together for long enough to actually do her job and then let the justice system do the rest, instead of letting a criminal go because her motives don’t seem all that menacing and she has pretty eyes.

(Although, considering she spends most of the drive over thinking about the flowers Lena sent, she doesn’t imagine today will be the day she finally puts her in cuffs).

“Why hasn’t anyone gone in?” Kara asks when she spots James getting his ear chewed off by an overexcited, Mike. She knows the answer is that because everyone else here is treating this the way they usually would - with caution and sense - whereas Kara was treating this as though it was surely Lena. Lena who was annoying, and arrogant, and sent her really, really nice flowers, and smelled nice, and was extremely limber if all the climbing through windows and vents was anything to go by.

“We got a call from dispatch that a number of small explosions registered in and around the building so we have to wait for them to finish a sweep to make sure nothing else is rigged to blow the moment we step inside.” That was smart. Super smart. So smart. Smarter than Kara that’s for sure.

“Where did the first one come from?”

“West side of the building but Kara-“ She’s already walking off by the time the mumblings of her being an idiot have started, but she’s known James for long enough to know that it’s goodhearted. James has also known her for long enough that he knows she’s too stubborn to stop even if he asked, long enough that he too had gotten used to running straight into things instead of sitting around and waiting for word to move in.

(Kara was a terrible influence).

Kara expects to find Lena, expect to find her going about her business without a care like there’s no way in hell she’ll actually end up in jail for her antics. She expects some smugness, some immediately witty retort to be thrown her way. She expects some arrogance. She definitely doesn’t expect the level of arrogance she finds.

The level of arrogance that is Lena leaning against an open van evidently filled with stolen money, arms crossed, mask pulled up for just a moment in order to show off a cheeky grin that made Kara think she’d been waiting for her to turn the corner for a while instead of making a clean escape.

“How is it that absolutely no one has questioned this incredibly suspicious, and outrageously obvious, van that you are filling with stolen money?” Kara can understand precaution, can understand the need to not blow up both a bank and all the civilians inside, but Kara cannot understand how trained police officers hadn’t noticed a suspicious looking black van parked directly behind said bank, conveniently situated directly above the vault.

“It’s nice to see you too, Kara and firstly, the money has a perfectly good purpose. As for the van, I think it’s perhaps so obvious that it became unobvious.” Lena takes her time closing the doors on the van, checking they’re shut securely like she had all the time in the world, before turning back to give Kara her full attention like could think of nothing she’d like more than to have a nice chat in a dirty alley.

“You were trying to be obvious, weren’t you?” Lena shrugs innocently despite the smirk on her face.

”Did you purposely trip an alarm so that I would show up?” Kara asks suspiciously, wishing she could see the look on Lena’s face at the accusation, wishing she knew if Lena had gone with feigned indignation or just general smugness that her plan actually worked (no matter how stupid a plan it ultimately was).

“Well I had to know if you liked the flowers. They’re quite rare you know.” Kara did know. In fact, she knew a lot about plumerias following her crazed journey through the internet in search of meanings and hidden messages – arguably she knew too much (she absolutely knew too much).

“They were lovely, unlike the inside of the cell you’ll be seeing very soon.” Kara’s reaching for her handcuffs when she begins to wonder if the cells at the precinct would even be enough to contain Lena. There was no doubt in Kara’s mind that Lena would be able to find some way to pick or bust the lock, then she’d probably just charm her way passed anyone on guard with that stupidly pretty smile of hers and she’d be back to making Kara’s job, and life, way harder than it should be.

“Are we not passed all the threats by now? I thought we bonded last night.” Lena husks, running her fingers torturously slowly along the metal of the cuffs hanging limply in Kara’s hand. Of course Kara knows what she’s doing and she’s not going to fall for it. She won’t. She might. She probably definitely will if she can’t stop her mind from running through a thousand images of Lena tugging her bottom lip into her mouth and using her cuffs in increasingly imaginative manners.

“I’m trying to do my job,” Kara argues.

“And I’m trying to do mine,” Lena quips back quickly.

“This isn’t a job.” This was a crime at worst, a hobby at best, though it was mostly just an incredible inconvenience to Kara’s job, and also just her life in general because she’s always been ludicrously bad at leaving work at work – especially in the case of pretty, green-eyed, thieves.

“I get paid for it,” Lena says with an air of casualness that shouldn’t be possible in such a moment, but that she pulls off anyway, and Kara feels herself laughing in spite of herself. “You have a beautiful laugh,” she adds as Kara catches herself on a particularly unflattering snort.

“Stop flirting.”

“Stop being so effortlessly enticing then.”

“Your exploits have been getting me in a lot of trouble, you know?” It’s not like Kara hadn’t been in trouble before. It’s not like she and Winn didn’t get in trouble on a monthly business for doing something they definitely shouldn’t have - like hacking into sketchy accounts or stealing someone’s labelled yoghurt from the fridge without remorse.

It’s just that she’d never actually been in trouble for being evaded by a criminal before. Multiple times. She wasn’t used to looking like an idiot. She hated looking like an idiot. She hated even more that she could easily stop looking like an idiot but had instead decided to let herself be somewhat (completely) charmed by a woman who stole things for a living.

“I am sorry for that, truly. This whole thing was only ever meant to help people.” Kara rolls her eyes, before she catches sight of the hand extended her way and finds her expression slipping into one of confusion. Lena picks up on the look quickly, wiggling her fingers in a silent ‘come on’ gesture. “Let me take you somewhere.”

“You want me, a police officer, to get into a van filled with stolen money with you, a known criminal?” She couldn’t be serious. There was no way in hell she could truly be serious. She couldn’t possibly think that Kara was just going to take her hand and go with her to some unknown location instead of taking her down to the station like she was supposed to, like she was legitimately required to by law - the law which it was her literal job to uphold.

“Yes,” Lena says simply, straight-faced and serious. She was serious. She actually thought that Kara was going to just drop everything and go with her to her possible death (... she was right).

“I’m such an idiot,” Kara mutters but she still takes Lena’s hand and climbs inside the van. “At least take that stupid mask off,” she continues when she settles in because this whole thing looked suspicious enough in the first place, and maybe also because she just kinda wanted to see Lena’s face again.

She really was a complete idiot. A complete idiot who was getting a front row seat to the prettiest face she’d ever seen and couldn’t quite bring herself to regret any of the awful decisions that lead up to that moment.

Kara is half expecting to be brought to another bank, or some creepy abandoned warehouse that Lena had gone full Batman on. She definitely doesn’t expect to be brought to one of the more rundown areas of National City, the ones Eliza had always told her to avoid when she first moved there, and the ones she constantly found herself in since deciding to become a cop.

“You’ll have to leave those in here.” Lena points to the badge and gun strapped to Kara’s belt and it’s truly a testament to how weak Kara is for a pretty girl, with an even prettier voice, that she actually unclips them without too much thought (Alex was right to call her too trusting. Winn was right to say she was almost as useless as him when it came to girls).

“So is this your secret lair?” Kara questions as she steps out of the van, feeling a little naked without her gear. She’ll admit she’d imagined something more high-tech, something a bit more exciting, a bit more villain-y, but then again she supposed a quaint little house with a white picket fence and a slightly worse for wear porch swing was pretty much as inconspicuous as it got.

“Of course not. I don’t think our relationship is quite there yet,” Lena jokes.

“We don’t have a relationship.” Kara immediately refutes.

“I’ve been shirtless in your apartment. We definitely have something.”

“Why are we here? Do you have a money cannon? Just gonna throw college tuition money at babies and pretend you didn’t steal from other hard working individuals to make yourself seem selfless and caring?” Maybe she was being a little harsh. Only a little. Maybe she was also being a little defensive because Lena always put her on edge. Only a little. Maybe Kara was mostly being defensive because she was trying anything to get the image of a shirtless Lena out of her head. Maybe... Perhaps... Definitely.

“Whilst a money cannon does sound amazing, no.” Lena opens the back of the van, tugging the closest bag towards her and rummaging casually like she wasn’t displaying an obscene amount of money to literally anyone who decided to pass by.

She lets out a small cheer when she finds what she’s looking for and Kara will never admit that she thinks it may just be the cutest thing she’s ever heard (but it may just be the cutest thing she’s ever heard). “We came to deliver these,” Lena continues, proudly displaying what Kara is pretty sure are a small stack of house deeds.

“What about...” Kara drifts off, pointing to the overflowing bags of money in front of them. She doesn’t really know what to do with the careless shrug Lena offers at her first, nor the signature smirk that sits firmly in place on her face but then the wheels start turning in her head. “Please tell me you didn’t.”

“Guilty.”

“Let me get this straight. You set off bombs-“

Non-lethal bombs. They barely cracked pavement.”

“You set off bombs, broke into a highly secure vault, then stole around a million dollars from said vault, and all of it was a red herring so that you could steal house deeds that are probably, no definitely, already on a computerised system. Great plan. Really great plan.” It was quite possibly the worst plan she’d ever heard, and that was saying a lot considering James had only just told her that morning of Mike’s new plan to try and ask her out (a plan that was still definitely a close second in terms of complete ludicrousness).

“You’re still doubting my prowess even after all these miraculous heists I’ve pulled off?” Kara stays silent. Miraculous isn’t quite the word she would use, more like, ‘over-the-top’ or just plain ‘illegal’. “Come on, Kara, I completed erased the digital trail. They couldn’t find them even if they could be bothered to look for them between panicking about the missing cash and fielding calls from customers who are panicking about the missing cash.”

Kara.

She called her Kara.

Lena had called her Kara. Not Danvers. Not Detective. Should her heart be beating this fast? It probably shouldn’t be beating so fast. Was she freaking out over something ridiculous? Yes. Yes, she was definitely freaking out over something that she shouldn’t be freaking out about. Had she reached new levels of idiocy today? Undoubtedly.

“And you have the physical copies,” Kara points out needlessly.

“And I have the physical copies,” Lena repeats, shaking the papers gleefully in Kara’s face. “So tell me again that this was a great plan, but this time I’d like some sincerity.”

“You still stole people’s money.” She still stole house deeds. She still hacked into a private server. This was still a crime, regardless of whether or not that bank had a particular proclivity for finding loopholes in people’s mortgage agreements and taking away their livelihoods. Except that, they did also have a particular proclivity for being assholes and Kara could see the well intentioned side of this whole plan that made her want to overlook the criminal side of it.

“I’ll ditch the van and call it in later. They’ll be so relieved they won’t even think to look at anything else. You can even be the one to find it if you want, stop the balding detective two desks over from calling you a witless ponytail again.” The balding detective? Witless ponytail? Witless ponytail? Who would even think to call her a-

“Snapper? Wait, how did you-?” Kara pauses. “You bugged the precinct,” she accuses and if it’d been anyone else she thinks they would probably have the decency to look a little bit sheepish. Not Lena. Lena just smiles carelessly and offers a wink as though it assuages her of any guilt (and whether or not it works for the ten seconds it takes Kara to get her heartbeat back in order is irrelevant).

“I really wanted to know what you thought of the flowers.”

“I hate you.” She means it.

“We both know that’s not true.” It is true.

“We really don’t,” Kara denies much to Lena’s apparent amusement if her musical laughter is anything to go by. Musical laughter that was of course stupidly pretty because apparently Lena couldn’t be less than perfect at anything.

“Denial is the first stage of acceptance.” Lena winks, shutting the van quickly and beginning her walk towards the house that evidently wasn’t her secret lair before she realises Kara isn’t following. “You coming?” She shouldn’t. She should really collect her badge and her gun and call this in. She should really keep as far away from Lena as possible. Lena who was once again wiggling her fingers in Kara’s direction, silently asking her to take her hand.

She really shouldn’t.

She does.

She doesn’t forget she’s holding Lena’s hand as she walks towards the door.

Kara is, in fact, acutely aware of the fact that they’re openly holding hands because she spends the twenty steps it takes to reach the house completely over thinking about how nice it feels to hold her hand. It’s a little ridiculous how much brain power she dedicates to thinking about how soft Lena’s skin is, how her hands are just the right temperature, how she holds tight enough that it makes Kara feel secure but loose enough like she’s okay with Kara letting go whenever it gets too much.

Lena, however, seems to adjust to the new weight in her hand without second thought. That is, if the surprise in her eyes is anything to go by when she lifts her hand to knock on the door and finds Kara’s still firmly in her own. Her smile is surprisingly soft as she lifts up her other hand instead to tap on the wood, squeezing Kara’s hand gently as the knocks sound out.

Kara should let go then.

Kara should let go when the door reveals a grinning woman in her late sixties.

Kara should let go when the woman pulls Lena in for a hug and she has to twist her hand at an awkward angle to keep the contact, when she feels Lena pull her closer to the pair of them like she can see the indecision and pain on her face and is afraid Kara won’t keep the contact much longer.

“Lena, it’s lovely to see you, honey!” Kara should really let go as the woman eyes Lena up and down the way Eliza always eyes Kara when she visits – like she’s checking she’s eating enough, sleeping enough, getting out into the world enough. Kara should definitely let go when questioning eyes linger a little too long on their joint hands. “And who’s this? Your girlfriend? I didn’t realise you had a partner in crime.”

She pulls her hand back then. Slips it into her pocket to hide the tremble in her fingers, the shake to her palms. She ignores the brief frown that flickers on Lena’s lips before she slides a smile firmly back onto her lips and winks charmingly at the woman.

“Oh no, she’s way too much of a square for that.”

“She’s also not her girlfriend,” Kara states quickly, annoyed that they’re talking about her like she’s not standing directly beside them. Although not quite as annoyed as she is at herself for using the third person to refer to herself.

“Well that’s a shame; you two would make a lovely couple.”

“Did you just bring me here to get an old lady to hit on me for you?” Honestly, past experiences taken into account, Kara wouldn’t put it past Lena. She seemed to enjoy picking the most inopportune moments to flirt with Kara almost as much as she enjoyed making Kara blush (the two often understandably went hand in hand).

“No but it’s certainly a bonus.” Kara rolls her eyes as the woman drags them both inside. Ida, Kara learns not a moment later. Ida who had lived in that house with her husband since they got married. Ida whose husband died six months prior and couldn’t keep up with the payments on the house. Ida who cries when Lena hands her the deed and assures her no one will even notice anything is wrong, that no one will knock on her door with threatening letters ever again. Ida who hugs them both tighter than either of them have ever been hugged.

They spend most of the day like that - encircled in thankful arms, and showered in thanks. It makes Kara feel weird to think that she doesn’t deserve it, that, not hours before, she thought Lena deserved nothing more than her hands in cuffs.

She’s rethinking it now.

She’s rethinking it a lot as Lena gracefully accepts hug after hug and waves off thanks like she hasn’t just made sure these people keep a roof over their head, as she accepts drawings off children and assures them she’ll hang them in pride of place (Kara doesn’t question for a second that the walls of her actual secret lair are covered in colourful artwork).

Kara spends the day thinking that those people look happy. That they looked relieved. She spends the day wondering how something that has those results can really be bad; how someone who makes people’s smiles spread that wide can really deserve jail time.

It’s that thought she’s stuck on as they pull up outside Kara’s apartment building in a car Lena had conveniently parked in an abandoned warehouse like she really had planned to ditch the money there and call it in the entire time. The whole situation was screwing with Kara’s mind. Lena’s entire outlandish and beautiful existence was really screwing with Kara’s mind.

“You going to invite me up?”

“They’re not going to stop looking for you,” Kara blurts, partially because it’s true and partially because she’ll practically say anything to get her mind off of the idea of Lena in her apartment again. Lena in her apartment without her shirt on again. Lena in her apartment, without her shirt on, openly flirting with her again. Lena. Again.

“Third person again, really?” She had a feeling she was never going to live that down.

“My judgment may be clouded, but that doesn’t mean anyone else’s is.” She might regret admitting that. She’ll probably regret admitting that.

“I cloud your judgment?” Lena asks, punctuating the question with a cheeky smile. She definitely already regrets it. Not that it isn’t true. If there’s one thing Kara has become acutely aware of over the past few days it’s that she’s not exactly unbiased when it comes to Lena - namely because whenever she sees her she immediately stops thinking with her head and instead starts thinking with various different, less logical, body parts.

“Stop it. You can’t run forever, and if you keep doing these ridiculously eccentric heists, more and more ruthless people are gonna be sent to find you. We’re already getting pressure from higher up to close this and they’re not exactly going to let you off lightly after you’ve made the entire department look like idiots for months.” Made Kara look like an idiot for months.

“Just charge someone else.” Just charge someone else? Just-

“You want me to charge an innocent person?” Lena had come out with some questionable things in their brief conversations. The conversations before she pulled some stupidly well executed escape plan or just smiled in that particular way that made Kara’s heart skip a few dozen beats and her brain go haywire. But this. This took the cake.

“I never said innocent,” Lena points out simply.

“They’d be innocent of this,” Kara argues back.

“But think about it - you could put someone away for this, someone you’ve been trying to catch for years only to come short every time, someone who always manages to evade the law. You could catch your white whale.”

“You’re my white whale.” Truth be told, no one had ever stumped Kara like Lena did - both personally and professionally. Sure she’d had struggles. Sure she’d dealt with entitled assholes who seemed to have a line of lawyers just waiting to tap in. And sure she’d had a few setbacks but she’d never had this many (she’d also never had a perp essentially charm their way out of arrest).

“I’m flattered.”

“Only you would be,” Kara scoffs.

“There are far worse people than me in the world, Kara.” Sure there were. Kara had been mentally cataloguing a list of people she would put in jail simply for being annoying since she joined the force. Currently topping the list was Mike, then obviously Snapper, and then she just sort of alternated at being annoyed at Winn for spilling her secrets and being annoyed at Alex for making him spill them.

But then again, none of them had been going on a thieving rampage the last few months. At least, not to Lena’s degree, Winn was definitely stealing chocolate bars from her desk when he thought she wasn’t paying attention, which was utterly ridiculous because she was literally always paying attention to the contents of her snack drawer.

“And that means you shouldn’t pay for your crimes?”

“I haven’t hurt anyone... physically, and I haven’t targeted anyone who didn’t deserve it. You know that.” Kara did know that.

She knew that the museum had a number of pieces without the proper paperwork attached to them, that there had been a number of inquiries into the legality of recent acquisitions that had miraculously disappeared days later. She knew that Veronica Sinclair had avoided jail time for her underground activities almost as many times as Maxwell Lord had charmed the city into believing he wanted the best for them instead of the best for himself.

Kara knew Lena’s targets probably deserved what they got and then some, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to put up some semblance of a fight. That didn’t mean she wasn’t going to feel uneasy about the decision she knew she had already made weeks ago in her mind.

“Do I?”

“You do. You were with me today; you saw the good we did. And as for everything before this I know you looked into it all and I know you’ve realised the pattern of rich victims with sketchy pasts that could stand to be taken down a few notches. We also both know you think I’m impressive when you’re not annoyed. Or so you told Winn last week. How was that new sandwich place by the way? I was thinking of checking it out.”

“You have to shut off those bugs,” Kara demands despite knowing there’s no chance in hell of it ever actually happening, or that Lena would acquiesce and turn them off, only to immediately turn them back on because she was a smart ass. “...it was really good,” she continues because she may be slightly mad but that was still the best grilled cheese she’d had since she left Midvale.

“So, am I allowed up?”

“No,” Kara answers steadfastly, laughing at the pout Lena delivers as she unbuckles her seatbelt and climbs out the car. She almost manages to walk across the street without looking back, without saying another word, without doing something probably stupid once again.

Almost.

She doesn’t.

She instead almost gets hit by a car when she stops suddenly in the middle of the street and spins on her feet. She appears back at Lena’s window with red cheeks and a determination to not pay any attention to the silent laughter reverberating through Lena’s chest.

“Rethinking?” Lena jokes with a disarming smile.

“Thank you, for today.” Lena looks taken aback for a second. She looks surprised but pleased and oddly touched as she stares at Kara with a look she doesn’t quite know what to make of, and doesn’t really want to handle right now. “I was beginning to think I was taking stupidity to a whole new level letting you go all those times.” Kara knows exactly what she’s doing. That being two things. One, whatever it takes to get Lena to stop looking at her that way. And two, whatever it takes to get on Lena’s nerves.

Letting me go, huh?”

“I could definitely catch you if I wanted to,” Kara says but Lena just laughs as she turns the keys in the ignition, startling Kara from her perch at the rolled down window.

“Goodbye, Detective.” Lena knocks the sunglasses resting atop her head until they shift onto the bridge of her nose and, whilst it’s not her most elaborate exit, and probably not one that took her two weeks to work out the logistics of, it’s definitely the coolest in Kara’s book... and the hottest.

(Not that she would admit that out loud.

At least not until she’d found all of those stupid bugs).


 

After a diamond heist that leaves Kara blushing with the memory of Lena, pressed up against her back and whispering about her defeat, and another museum dalliance that has Kara wondering how stupid she would sound if she admitted in her report that the thief got away because they called her the best masterpiece in that place and it made her legs go like jelly, everything goes quiet.

Silent even.

Suspiciously silent.

Aggravatingly silent.

They go two weeks without a theft. That is to say that they go two weeks without any high calibre thefts being reported (Brian still comes in every two days like clockwork reporting some new random thing stolen as an excuse to ask Alex’s advice on asking girls out, which is laughable to Kara considering Alex’s well known poor track record with women).

So they go two weeks without a theft, which also means that Kara goes two weeks without seeing Lena in any capacity, and how terrible of a cop would it make her if she were to admit that she actually had her fingers crossed for a robbery? Not a huge one. Just, like, a little robbery. A little robbery from a bad person who deserved it, orchestrated by Lena, so that Kara could hear that stupid flirty tone of her voice for a few minutes. A few measly minutes.

And it wasn’t even all about Lena...

It was mostly about Lena, but it was also about the fact that Kara was bored. Two weeks of no Lena had also been two weeks of a suspiciously low crime rate and she was so completely bored. So bored that she had actually caught up on the paperwork she’d been actively avoiding for two months, much to the Captain’s chagrin. So bored that she actually agreed to play trash basketball with Winn even though his aim sucked and she could literally never lose. So bored that she found time to place a bet in the precinct pool as to which rookie Vasquez would try her charms on first.

She’s rearranged her array of stationary stolen from different people’s desks seven times, and is making her fourth cup of coffee in two hours, when Mike comes bounding into the break room like some kind of excitable puppy looking for her approval.

She’s expecting him to ask her out - apparently eighth time’s the charm was Mike’s motto of the week because he’d been more persistent than usual. She expects him to do his self assured smirk, maybe lean a little on the coffee table in some semblance of casualness, and then do that thing where he asks her out and pretends like it’d be her honour. But instead...

“Kara, we caught your thief!” And okay, that was way worse than him asking her out. Her thief. Her thief. Lena. And okay, maybe Kara starts to have a complete and total internal meltdown because she doesn’t want Lena in jail; no matter how many times she threatened to put her there (both to her face and whispered into the bug she found inside a stuffed elephant on her desk).

She doesn’t want to have to see her with supervision. She doesn’t want to have to face the reality that she probably can’t go see her at all considering their sides in all of this. She doesn’t want to have to admit that she’s maybe a little more attached to Lena than she should be, doesn’t want to admit that she mostly just wants to kiss her a little bit. Or a lot.

“What? When? How?” Kara spews out in a rush, and maybe the meltdown was a little less internal than she hoped, but Mike seems to take no notice, too distracted by his own accomplishments.

“An anonymous tip came through about an hour ago, sent us to this real fancy apartment building, and to be honest we thought it was a hoax but all the stuff was there - a couple of the diamonds taken last month, marked bills from the bank, oh and some empty vials marked Lord Technologies.” Oh God.

“Who-“

“I think her name was Beth or something,” Mike cuts in but that couldn’t be right. Unless Lena/Beth had lied about her name, but then, Kara had been so sure she was telling the truth, had felt it in her gut that Lena was being sincere in that moment.

“Beth?” She prompts.

“Beth Breen, maybe.” Kara knew that name, had heard it on the news for weeks whilst the trial went on, had heard it in a much angrier tone in the days that followed her acquittal of all charges. But Kara was pretty sure she knew that name, and she was certain she knew the face that went along with it. A face that was distinctly not Lena’s.

“The CFO of that company that sent faulty drugs to market?” The CFO who hid medical reports and caused the deaths of countless individuals. The CFO who had walked out of the courthouse with a proud looking lawyer and a smug smile that definitely needed to be wiped off (read: punched right off of her stupid face). The CFO who had done similar things in the past and never been charged. The CFO who was practically the definition of a white whale.

“I don’t know. I just know that she was super annoying - kept insisting she had no idea where it came from but it was just sitting right there on her coffee table. Pretty stupid hiding spot if you ask me.” All of the evidence just conveniently placed openly in the middle of her apartment. Of course.

“Yeah, real stupid,” Kara responds distantly, attempting to wave him off with a mumbled, “Thanks, Mike.” She doesn’t really know why she thinks it’ll work. It’s never worked before. She imagines it won’t work the next time he tries to talk to her either. And yet, she still tries and fails.

“Hey, Kara, I was wondering if-“

“I have to wash my hair,” Kara cuts in abruptly. She almost laughs at the surprise on his face, which is probably mainly because she usually waits until he’s finished asking to make her excuse.

But she doesn’t really have time for that today. Mostly because she’s already mentally running through ways of trying to get into contact with Lena. All of which were terrible because her choices basically consisted of calling everyone in the phonebook named Lena or shining a huge signal into the night sky - neither of which seemed very efficient.

“But I didn’t-“ He tries again and Kara’s already backing her way out of the break room before he can fully formulate his response.

“I think I can hear Winn calling my name so I should probably go to him.”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Another time,” he mumbles despite the fact that Kara is already long gone and that his only audience is a laughing James. Kara really hopes Lena got that on one of her bugs because she could really use that audio to cheer her up when the bakery downstairs runs out of her favourite donuts, or when the Chinese across the street gets the wanton to broth ratio all wrong, or when the pizza place sends that one really creepy dude who peeks inside her apartment like he’s casing it.

Or when there’s someone annoyingly fiddling with all the stuff on her desk, even if that person has a fantastic ass that she should definitely not be staring at, and is... Lena.

“Hi, Detective.” She looks good. She looks really good. Now, Kara had actually kind of come to appreciate the stereotypical, all black, all skin-tight, outfits Lena had taken to stealing in. A little bit because she appreciated they were fit for purpose, but primarily just because Lena managed to look insanely good in them instead of just insanely stupid and highly suspicious.

But Lena in jeans and a leather jacket? Now that was something else entirely. Lena with her hair down, tumbling over her shoulders? That was a heart attack waiting to happen. Lena with soft clothes and an even softer smile leaning against her desk? That was cause for alarm.

“What the hell are you doing in a police station?” Kara will admit that she was mostly just thankful that Lena’s real name was Lena, and that she wasn’t currently being held by the police, but that didn’t overshadow the logical part of her brain that was screaming having Lena in the bullpen was a terrible idea. Partially because she was a wanted criminal, and partially because Winn’s lunch break was about to come to an end and she really didn’t want to explain the presence of an extremely beautiful woman on her desk to him, or subsequently Alex when he inevitably spilled the beans.

“I’m here to file a police report. Something of mine got stolen.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. My heart. It was actually taken by a cop, you might know her. About five foot eight, blonde hair, gorgeously blue eyes. Very pretty. Very serious about the law.” Of course. Of course Lena had stepped foot into a building full of actual police officers who she had literally just duped into arresting someone else for her crimes so she could hit on Kara again. She was ridiculous, though admittedly fantastic for Kara’s self esteem.

“What do you want?” Kara sighs.

“To take you out for coffee,” Lena says simply, without pretence, without some cheeky smile or an over planned performance. Plain and simple. Temptingly plain and simple. Except that this whole thing was anything but plain and simple. It was, in fact, decidedly complicated.

“We can’t-“

“We can. We should. Come on, I hear your case just wrapped itself up and I like you, and I know you find me charming even when you’re pulling that scrunchy annoyed face - which I adore by the way. Just coffee. I promise.”

Maybe it didn’t have to be complicated.

Maybe Kara could just... un-complicate it.

“Just coffee?”

“Just coffee,” Lena affirms. “Maybe also a muffin, if you want one,” she continues on and of course Kara’s stomach chooses that exact moment to rumble because when hasn’t she wanted a muffin? Kara not wanting a muffin was surely one of the signs of the apocalypse. Kara not wanting a muffin was like water not being wet. Kara not... God she really wanted a muffin.

“Fine,” Kara agrees. For the sake of her stomach. Obviously.

“Really?” Lena asks incredulously and she actually stands up straight, straightening her jacket nervously like she wasn’t at all prepared for this to happen. She looks shocked enough that Kara thinks she actually expected a no, which seemed ridiculous because Lena didn’t seem like the kind of person who was told no very often (or ever).

“What happened to Miss Confidence?” The woman who took her shirt off in strangers homes without hesitation. The woman who, instead of escaping free and clear, decided it was more prudent to be flirting with cops. The woman who walked into a police station with an easy smile and probably far too much swagger than necessary. The woman otherwise known as Lena at any other time before now.

“You really are very pretty, and I actually have a lot of self-doubt under several layers of bravado and well practised smiles.”

“I think I might like you under those several layers.”

“Oh you’d love me without my layers.” She stepped right into that one. “But we’ll get to that after we’ve had coffee and I’ve chivalrously walked you home and asked permission to kiss you.”

“You’re gonna ask permission to do something?” It doesn’t seem like the most likely thing ever (see: literally all of the thefts Lena had committed over the past few months, as well as that time she broke into Kara’s apartment and bled all over the place without having the decency to call ahead).

“I’m all about consent,” Lena argues, before shrinking slightly under Kara’s dubious look and adding, “in all areas other than theft.” That sounded more realistic.

“Naturally,” Kara deadpans with a heavily exaggerated eye roll. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t let Lena slip her jacket off her chair and onto her shoulders, nor does it mean she doesn’t leave Winn slack jawed, and mutely holding a sandwich in her direction, as she leaves hand-in-hand with Lena.

In the end one coffee date turns into two. Then three. Then a fourth that ends up turning into dinner and a nightcap. Then it’s Kara slipping out of Lena’s apartment (not so much of a secret lair) in the early hours of the morning, pants still undone and a bagel hanging out of her mouth as she rushes to work. And if she maybe switches to homicide a few months later, well that has nothing to do with the fact that chasing your girlfriend around the city isn’t as much fun when you’re kinda invested in her freedom.

(Though only a little...

She was still infuriating).


 

"Hey, babe.”

“Shit, Kara! How did you get in here?”

“Trade secret.”

“Is that glass on the floor? Did you smash a window into my apartment?!”

“Paybacks a bitch, Lena.”

“...I’m on the eighth floor.”

“Oh yeah, you owe the window cleaner a hundred bucks.”