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It happens like this.

Tuesday morning, Cat’s new assistant comes into her office with a blisteringly hot cup of coffee and a rolled up newspaper. Cat is mired in about sixteen feet of financial paperwork and has very little patience to spare for Yosmar, who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but in a less competent way than Kara ever was, and she’s not ashamed to admit that she’s a bit snappy with her, “ what? ” when he stays hovering instead of scurrying off to do his job.

“Ma’am, it’s just – I know you like to see any news related to Supergirl, and I thought you should see -” he holds out the newspaper, and Cat is intrigued enough to snatch it from him, at least until she sees what it is.

“You brought me gossip from The National City Sun?” she asks, because this is why her media team is responsible for keeping her informed on the competition, and not her incompetent wet-behind-the-ears assistant. “This isn’t a newspaper, it’s a free umbrella in the subway station.”

“Not the news, but the photo,” Yosmar clarifies, and Cat unfolds the paper the rest of the way to see the headline – ‘ Sapphic Scandal for Supergirl?’ and in smaller lettering, ‘ her lover’s neighbor saw it all.” The article is stupid and doesn’t deserve a second thought, but the photo –

The photo is definitely Supergirl, and it’s very close-up – just her head resting on another woman’s shoulder. The photo goes just low enough to catch the clasp of her cape and the beginning of the crest. She’s not looking toward the camera, obviously has no idea that the picture is being taken, and neither does the vaguely familiar red-headed woman looking down at her with an expression of such unguarded tenderness that it’s easy to believe there’s a kernel of truth in the disgusting headline. That’s not what matters most about the photograph though. Here’s what matters most:

Supergirl is wearing glasses.

Cat takes a deep breath, and levels a very convincing glare at Yosmar, who is looking more and more regretful about his life and his choices. “You think I care that some gossip rag got a photo of Supergirl? There’ve been hundreds of photos of her by now – what matters is that we got the first one,” she explains in tones of exaggerated patience, and hopes he can’t somehow hear the way her heart is hammering against her ribcage.

“OK, but doesn’t it kind of look like-” he begins, and Cat cuts him off around the hard wallop of panic.

“This is an institution of journalism, Yosmar. We aren’t The Sun, and we aren’t the neckbeard conspiracy blog you run in your spare time trying to make yourself famous on reddit. We believe in facts and research, and if I ever hear you spreading unfounded speculation I will fire you. Do I make myself understood?”

“Of course, sorry,” Yosmar mutters and flees. Cat watches him go, and then reaches into her desk drawer and pulls out her lexapro, always easily accessible for days like this. Yosmar isn't going to be the only one who notices; it really does look like-

She gives it fifteen minutes before she stands up and goes to find Kara, newspaper still curled in her hand.

Kara is in her office, which is where she usually is if she's at work at all. She’s engrossed in something on her laptop when Cat first walks in; she waves without looking up, and shoves a coffee cup in Cat’s direction. Cat takes it, and wonders exactly when stopping by Kara’s office became her morning routine.

She sips the coffee, which is still blisteringly hot, like it always is, no matter what moment in her morning schedule she finds the time to take a break and stop by. She’s never really questioned it; she should have, but after three years with Kara as her assistant, she’s too accustomed to having her every need met. Kara’s Cat-related superpowers were well established before Supergirl ever came onto the scene.

Now, though, she realizes that Kara must be able to hear her coming, must be able to user her laser vision to heat the coffee back up far more effectively than a microwave could. She’s torn. On the one hand, having a superhero at her beck and call, using her powers to meet Cat’s every need… that’s really damn cool.

On the other hand, if she ends up with cancer she knows who to blame. It’s not like laser-vision is FDA approved.

She takes a minute to study Kara’s face, currently a portrait of concentration as she types furiously at her laptop, and tries to guess whether Kara knows about the photo in The Sun yet.

Probably not, she thinks – Kara is just focused; she’s not avoiding Cat, and she’s not freaking out. Kara’s not exactly great at hiding her freak-outs.

A moment later she confirms it by looking up from her computer and beaming. “Sorry – I just had it in my head exactly how I wanted it on paper, and I felt like if I stopped for one second I’d lose it.”

“Not everyone can get away with keeping me waiting, but since you bought me a coffee I’ll let it slide,” Cat tells her dryly, and Kara laughs.

“Do you want a seat?” she asks, gesturing at Cat’s usual chair. Cat doesn’t sit. She’s feeling oddly hesitant to breach this topic with Kara. Obviously she’s known for awhile, but even though she knew, she hadn’t really known. And Kara doesn’t know that she knows. Doesn’t want her to know, even though they’re friends now, of a sort.

They’re the kind of friends who can sit in silence together, or bring each other coffee, or rant to each other about their jobs. But they don’t know each other’s secrets. Kara’s not allowed to know about the way that Cat’s breath catches sometimes at the curve of Kara’s neck, or the way that sunlight glints off her hair. Cat thinks she would rather die than admit to that indignity, admit to having become so cliche. Kara can never know, because if Kara gave her a pitying look and tried to let her down gently, Cat would have to murder her, and she’s already got enough skeletons in her closet.

Kara can’t know Cat’s secret, and for whatever reason, she doesn’t want Cat to know hers. Cat tries to be understanding of that, since it seems only fair. Quid pro quo.

And now here she is disrupting that, but what else can she do? Cat runs a media corporation and it’s in the fucking papers. She slams the photo down on Kara’s desk in front of her.

“I never knew that Supergirl wore glasses,” she says calmly. Kara picks up the paper, looks at the photo, and pales. “She certainly hasn’t had them on any time I’ve seen her, but maybe she’s got a set of Kryptonian contact lenses.”

She's half-expecting Kara to deny it. She's not entirely sure what she’ll say if Kara comes out with some godawful lie about Halloween costumes or genetic improbabilities. The spark of hurt she feels at the thought is enough to make it clear that she's been lying to herself, pretending she respects Kara’s secret.

Why doesn’t Kara trust her ?

But Kara doesn't do any of those things. Instead, she takes a deep shuddering breath.

“Ohmygod, that's – how – oh no, my sister-”

Sister lingers in the air in front of Cat for a moment, both a relief and a disappointment as it explains why Kara had been cradled in another woman’s arms, and then she looks past that explanation and realizes that Kara is having a full blown panic attack in front of her, and any lingering anger or hurt is extinguished in an instant.

“Oh, Kara. it's fine, it's going to be fine,” she promises, and years of experience with Carter keep her voice even and calm as she comes around the desk. “Can I touch you?” she thinks to ask, because she doesn't fancy startling Kara and getting accidentally shoved through a wall.

Kara nods though, and when Cat puts an awkward hand on her forearm she leans into it, pressing forward with her weight until the easiest thing for Cat to do is to yank Kara up out of her chair and into her arms, holding her the same way she would hold Carter when he needed it.

“Everyone is going to know, aren’t they,” Kara whispers, and Cat runs a soothing hand down her back.

“They might,” she acknowledges, because this is going to be hard to recover from. “But you've got the queen of all media on your side, don't forget. I'm not going to leave you to drown, Kara.”

She keeps holding on until she judges that Kara is breathing normally again and then lets her go, giving her a casual shove back toward her chair. Kara hadn't relinquished her secret willingly; Cat’s not about to show hers.

“The first thing we’re doing is calling that sister of yours,” she announces firmly. If Kara’s crazy government sister can confiscate the sun or something it will make everything easier. “Give me your phone.”

Kara hands it over meekly, a sign of how panicked she is, and Cat scrolls through her contacts until she finds the correct one.

Alex picks up on the first ring. “Kara, you promised you'd check in before work this morning, you can't just go radio silent after an injury,” the annoyed voice comes through the speakers at a rapid pace, loud enough that Kara would probably be able to hear even if she didn't have superpowers. She winces.

“I'll be sure to pass the message along, agent,” Cat says into the phone, tucking away the information that Kara had been hurt the night before.

How often has Kara come into work hurting, without Cat even noticing?

There's a startled silence from the phone. “Miss Grant??” Alex asks. “What's going on?”

“Kiera is fine,” Cat assures her dryly, “she has allowed me to take over because we are in my area of expertise at the moment. Has anyone at your government agency seen this morning’s edition of The National City Sun ?”

Another beat of silence. Cat can hear Alex talking to someone nearby – ‘ I need a copy of The Sun, go,’ and then back on the phone, “I'm not sure why you'd need to call me on my sister’s phone about anything in The Sun , Miss Grant.”

“Of course,” Cat agrees, rolling her eyes, because she is out of patience with this transparent bullshit. An entire government agency should be better at cover stories. “Do whatever containment you can on your end, Agent, and Kara and I will handle things on this end.” She takes pleasure in hanging up the call, although sometimes  she misses the physical gesture of slamming a phone back onto the receiver. Technology has no right to interfere with her dramatic flair.

“Um – Cat, what exactly are we doing on this end?” Kara asks, deliberately mirroring Cat’s phrasing, and Cat takes a moment to examine her.

Kara hasn't aged at all in the two years since her promotion to reporter. Sometime while she was under Snapper’s thumb she'd started wearing her hair up in a neat bun, which adds a layer of professionalism she'd sorely needed, but her youthful blue eyes, her smooth skin, the confused pout she gets when something doesn't fit into her routine – none of that has changed.

She's looking up at Cat from her seat, wide eyes begging for reassurance, and Cat has to stop drinking her in. She smirks instead, seating herself on the corner of Kara’s desk.

“I'm going to interview you,” she answers airily. “An exclusive tell-all with National City’s Hero, to be published in tomorrow’s paper.”

She pauses there for a moment, and she can't deny to herself that it's an extremely petty test. Kara isn't trusting her with this secret by choice, but Cat wants her trust. She wants to see Kara believe unquestioningly that Cat is and has always been on her side.

She regrets it when she sees the horror that floods Kara’s face. This isn't the moment to prove that Kara trusts her; this is the moment to earn it. She shoves her hurt to the side to be dealt with later and continues quickly, cutting off whatever Kara was about to say in response.

“We’ll publish it with a few careful photos of our own. Your agency has the ability to create you a doppelgänger, as I recall.” She pauses long enough to give Kara a pointed look. “We need some photos that are just dissimilar enough. We’ll put them on the front page, and everyone you know who’s currently wondering, ‘could it be?’ will simply shrug their shoulders and say, ‘I guess not.’”

“That… could work,” Kara says slowly.

“Of course it will,” Cat tells her dismissively. “The only reason your disguise holds up at all is because nobody thinks that bumbling Kara Danvers could possibly be a superhero. We’re playing the same winning hand you've been playing all along. It's much easier to believe that your neighbor looks a little like an alien than to believe that she is one. People will always grasp onto whatever is easiest for them. This is going to work, and it's going to sell me a massive number of papers.”

The last bit is said with a certain amount of relish. She'd help Kara for free, of course, but – an exclusive interview and photo session are a nice bonus, and Cat hasn't gotten to where she is through false nobility.

“Get your government goons to bring over their robot or whatever that was,” she tells Kara. “Set up the photo shoot with James Olsen – I assume he's already in on your little secret anyways?” She waits for Kara’s nod. “Good – he’ll understand what we need to accomplish, then. Come by my office at, ohhhh, two o’clock this afternoon and we’ll do the rest of it.”

**

Cat doesn't wait for Kara’s interview to start writing her article – frankly, if she tries to write it based on what Kara actually says , the whole thing will be blown out of the water.

She hears the heavy boots that enter her office an hour later, but doesn't bother to look up, even when they circle around her desk.

“I've been hounding you for an interview for a long time now, Supergirl – what made you agree to it now?” Alex reads aloud off her laptop screen, and then continues with the answer Cat has put together. “The photo in The Sun forced my hand a little. I've always tried to keep my personal life separate from my heroics, for both safety and sanity, but that article made me realize that if I come to the press myself, I have more control than I will if they're always targeting me.”

“I do an alright Supergirl, don't you think?” Cat inquires archly. The look on Alex’s face is not amused.

“You know, Miss Grant, I don't think you're stupid,” she says in a conversational tone. “And I don't think my sister is especially sneaky, so you've probably known the truth for awhile.”

“Your little doppelgänger stunt had me fooled for about, oh, two hours,” Cat lies. The truth is that she's fluctuated between 80 and 95% certain about Kara since then, but until Yosmar shoved that photo at her this morning, she'd never recovered her complete certainty. She's going to take that secret to her grave.

“And for whatever reason, you've kept it to yourself,” Alex agrees. “Which is the reason that right now you remain a free woman, instead of getting hauled off to a prison that doesn't officially exist.”

“That and the fact that arresting high profile celebrities does nothing for your organization’s secrecy,” Cat points out. She refuses to be intimidated.

“Guess again,” Alex says. “You think anyone would question it if you were arrested for, oh, insider trading? For blackmail? Any number of nasty little misdirections we could start, and there's nobody in your life who would even bother to look closely at it, is there Miss Grant?”

And alright, Alex is almost as frightening as she wants to be, with the gun holstered at her side and the cold menace that she radiates. Cat is almost – almost – certain that Kara wouldn't actually let anyone hurt her.

“Alright, what's your point?” she asks irritably. “In case you haven't noticed, I'm not the enemy here.”

“My point is that in a few hours Agent Lane will be here to meet with you. You will sign every paper she puts in front of you. Your work here,” Alex gestures at Cat’s computer, “is utterly wasted, because you will print the interview we write for you, and if you ever do anything that causes my sister harm, I will personally make sure that I destroy every single thing you have spent your life building, until your name is mud and you rest forgotten in a government cell. Am I making myself clear?”

The way she says it makes Cat certain that there are other prisoners being held by Alex’s organization, and outrage is almost strong enough to overrule the very real fear she feels at the threat.

But she can see the even greater fear in Alex’s eyes, and she remembers the photo in The Sun , the look of unguarded love Alex had for her sister. She decides to try a different tact.

“I've been on Kara’s side for longer than you know, Agent Danvers,” she says, gentling her tone. “I was…. rash, the last time I confronted her about her identity. I understand better now why Kara wants to be here, and I'm not going to do anything to take her away from me – from it. ” Alex’s eyes narrow at the slip-up, and Cat hurries away from it. “I'll sign whatever NDA baby Lane throws at me, but I'm not publishing your interview. I've won 7 prizes for journalism – I'm not putting my name on whatever dribble you manage to slap together.” When Alex opens her mouth to argue, Cat adds, “I will, however, allow you to read through the final draft before it is published. Anything you think is dangerous, we’ll take out.”

“Fine,” Alex says after a moment. “We’ll speak again shortly.”

“And the photo shoot?” Cat asks.

“James is handling it,” Alex snaps, and stalks out of Cat’s office without ceremony, her hold on her temper clearly exhausted. Despite herself, Cat watches her go. Alex cuts a striking figure in her uniform, and if Cat didn't already have a weakness for the other Danvers sister, she could easily develop an appreciation for this one. She appreciates a certain amount of swagger.

“What am I becoming in my old age,” she mutters to herself, and turns back to her work.

Yosmar cancels her meetings for the afternoon, and Cat piles him with enough superfluous errands to keep him safely out of the office. The coast is clear when Kara knocks hesitantly on the door.

“Hi Cat,” she murmurs, and Cat swallows the momentary lump in her throat. Kara has come into her office around this time once or twice a week for the past year, either to see if Cat is free for lunch or to bring her something when she knows that Cat is having a bad day and has too much dignity to ask her assistant for the disgusting junk food she really wants. Despite her workout routine, there are a few extra pounds along Cat’s body that have Kara’s name all over them.

They’ve developed this crazy relationship that defies any category, an undefined mash-up of friendship, mentoring, and the unspoken way that Cat dies and is reborn for the sound of Kara’s bright laughter. It has been an illusion of intimacy; a hopeless dream in which Cat has allowed herself to live for too long.

She wonders how long she would have kept fooling herself, if Kara hadn’t been outed this way. It wasn’t sustainable, not really. Letting Kara be so important to her, when she meant something so different in return: it would have had to shatter at some point. This is more salvageable than a lot of other ways it could have happened.

“Come have a seat,” Cat instructs Kara, and grimaces a little at the tentative way Kara crosses the room. Yes, the illusion  is shattered, but it would be nice if Kara would stop rubbing it in. “Relax – you were literally hopping in here yesterday because your article got approved, and now you’re acting like the place is booby trapped? When would I have had the time?”

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Kara says, seating herself on the couch in a reasonable facsimile of her usual casual pose. “I just – I want to clear the air between us. Cat, you know -”

“Not what we’re here for, Kara,” Cat cuts her off breezily, because she is not ready to hear whatever is about to come out of Kara’s mouth. She wants to nurse her wounds privately – she’s too old to accept anybody’s verbal bandaids. “We have an article to get published by tomorrow, and your government goons want to tear it apart before it goes to print, so let’s get a move-on. I’ve written out a frame, and I’m really just waiting for your answers to plug into the appropriate places.”

“Why wait for me at all?” Kara asks curiously. “You could just make up the answers, couldn’t you?”

And it’s true; it’s what Alex was planning to do, Cat knows. But god help her, she’s in love with Kara Danvers for a reason. No matter the hurt and anger, she believes in her. She’s wanted for a long time to write what Kara has to say.

“Well, you stand for truth, justice, and the American way, Supergirl,” she drawls, and notices the way that Kara flinches a little at ‘truth’.

Kara, who was injured yesterday. Who had a photograph taken of her as her sister comforted her through her pain. Kara who really could change the world, if it decided to listen to her, and Cat is so ready to hold up the microphone.

“We are finally opening this door,” she tells Kara a little more gently. “You may be protecting your name, but you’re also putting your personal message out to the world. Treat it like the opportunity it is. If I know anything about you, I know that you have a message worth spreading.”

Kara stares at her for a moment, lips parted - clearly Cat has caught her off-guard. “Thank you,” she murmurs, unconsciously straightening her shoulders a little. It fills Cat with warmth; whatever else may or may not be between them, she knows that she has always helped Kara be her best, and that's still worth a lot.

“Well then, let's get started,” Cat says, and hits the button on her recorder. “We can start out with the photograph that sparked this interview - obviously I don't encourage my readers to take anything seriously in The Sun , but what is the story behind that photograph? I have to admit, I'm very curious about the glasses - those haven't made an appearance before.”

“The glasses - someone made them for me when I first came to Earth,” Kara says, and a gentle smile plays around her lips. “They dampen some of my super senses - the hearing, the smell, the sight. It's great if I'm fighting, but you can see how super smell just wouldn't be functional on a crowded elevator.” She smirks at Cat. “You don't even want to face that situation with human senses.”

Cat sniffs. “If I had your super immune system I'd consider it,” she informs Kara haughtily, and considers what Kara has just revealed. “So your powers can be turned off? Are you sure that's a safe thing to reveal in an interview, Supergirl?”

“I'm sure it's safe to reveal to you ,” Kara answers. “I trust you, Cat. I know it must feel like I don't, when I kept this from you, but that wasn't about trust. It was about - about normalcy. You've been like my glasses in a way - being around you can't change what I am, but it's always given me the chance to be a little safer, a little freer within myself. I didn't want to give that up.” She looks Cat in the eye. “But I trust you to know anything you want about me. Ask whatever you like and I'll answer.”

Slowly, Cat reaches out and turns off the recorder. “Alright,” she says, and accepts this gift for what it is. “Your sister said over the phone that you were hurt last night - what happened?”

“I was fighting an alien that could scream at a hypersonic pitch,” Kara answers. “They're called Iltetrions, they're not usually dangerous, this one was - was angry about something. But my superhearing was exacerbating the problem, so I put my glasses back on trying to alleviate it.

That's why I was wearing them with the suit. It didn't do any good - my eardrums still got blown out. It was pretty painful.”

“How often do you get hurt?” Cat asks, although she isn't sure she wants to know.

“I heal really quickly,” Kara tells her with a reassuring smile.

“That's not an answer.”

“It kind of is,” Kara says honestly. “For humans, injuries and pain go hand-in-hand with fear. You have to be afraid of making it worse, or making it permanent, or making it fatal. I haven't had to worry about that since I was 13 - if it doesn't kill me outright, it's going to get better pretty fast. Injuries don't matter to me the way they do to a human.” She reaches out and puts a reassuring hand on Cat’s wrist. “It really is ok - I'm ok.”

“Yes, well - good,” Cat answers, embarrassed at what this line of questioning might have revealed. She flips the recorder back on, grateful for the distance it provides. “Let's get back to what I need for your article - you're right that I have other questions, but they can wait. In The Sun you’re looking very cozy with another woman. Is there any truth to their claim that she’s your lover?”

“You already know the answer to that!” Kara exclaims, looking scandalized. “Of course not - she's my sister!”

Cat rolls her eyes so hard she might strain them. “I'm not accusing you of sleeping with your sister, obviously ,” she snaps. “But since I can’t name her as your sister in this article , I'm looking for a soundbite I can use to lay that rumor to rest.”

“Oh,” Kara looks startled, and then a little red. “Ok. No, I'm not dating the woman in the photograph.”

“Any men in your life, though, Supergirl?” Cat asks teasingly. “The public wants to get to know you. No dangerous details, just a yes or no.”

“Not at the moment, but I promise you’ll be the first to know,” Kara says, and there's such an odd look in her eye, soft and searching, that Cat is taken aback.

“Alright,” she says softly, unconsciously mimicking Kara’s tone. “Well if you won't reveal the details of your heart, give us something personal. Got a favorite food? Movie? Netflix show?”

Cat pulls out the information she needs for her interview, bit by bit, until she is satisfied that she can write something appropriate to the situation. It won't be Pulitzer-worthy - more focused on what Kara thinks will happen next on Game of Thrones than on any fundamental truths of her nature, but it's a start. It's the beginning of a media persona, and Cat is confident that once it's in place, Kara will use it to good effect.

“Alright, I have what I need,” she says, and offers a genuine smile. “I know it wasn't entirely by choice, but - thank you for trusting me with this, Kara. I intend to live up to it.” She holds out her hand, intending to wrap the interview up with a professional handshake.

“I'm not straight!” Kara blurts out. She turns red, and backtracks. “I mean, earlier - you asked about men, but I - I mean I do like men, but I like women too.”

“Oh - well, I apologize for the assumption,” Cat says. There's no reason for this to mean anything to her; no reason for it to fill her with hope. Kara’s sexuality is the least of what is keeping her out of Cat’s reach. Teasingly, she adds, “any lucky woman in your life, then?” and tries to pretend as though she feels only a normal amount of curiosity.

“I'm not sure,” Kara answers. “There's someone, but - I've always thought she was kind of out of my league. But lately we’ve gotten closer, and I've started to hope that maybe…” she trails off, and Cat stares at her, helpless.

There's no mistaking Kara’s meaning - she's the least subtle person Cat has ever met, and god , that's just one of a thousand things that Cat adores about her.

But there are so many reasons not to do this. Looking at Kara across from her, vividly crimson with humiliation and scrunched up with determination, Cat scrambles to remember what they are.

“I know you're angry with me right now,” Kara says softly, leaning forward. “But if you -”

And then she stops, looking toward the door. Across the bullpen, the elevator opens and Lucy Lane steps out. Cat doesn't know whether to be crushed or grateful for the rescue.

“Cat, it's good to see you again,” she says briskly as she enters Cat’s office. “I'm not interrupting am I?”

“No, we’ve just finished up,” Cat answers. “Kara, I'm sure you have work to get back to.”

“Of - of course. I'll see you later - hi, Lucy,” Kara stutters, and then flees into the hallway. Lucy watches her disappearing act, and turns back to Cat with laughter dancing on her face.

“Must have been quite an interview,” she comments lightly, and Cat regards her sourly. She'd forgotten how entirely unintimidated Lucy is by her. It's both her best and her worst quality, as far as Cat is concerned.

“Paperwork, Lane,” she demands, and relocates to her desk. Lucy sits down across from her and pulls a thick file out of her briefcase.

“I assume I can't have my lawyer look these over,” Cat says dryly, and Lucy gives her a sympathetic look.

“I'm afraid not, but I've been your lawyer before - will you trust me?”

“Should I?” Cat asks frankly, and Lucy shrugs.

“I've got Kara’s best interests in mind. Unlike Alex, I know that you do too. I don’t think there's anything in here you won't sign for her sake, but let's go through it piece by piece,” she says. “We’re starting with a fairly standard NDA.”

The paperwork takes a long time, and then the article does as well. Cat dithers over it; now more than ever, she wants to do right by this. She wants Kara’s trust in her to be justified by the work she does.

Alex shows back up in her office just after dinner, with a large avuncular black man in matching uniform.

“Photos are ready to go,” she says bluntly, skipping over the pleasantries. “Let's take a look at this article of yours.” Cat notices a bulge in her calf that looks suspiciously like the handle of a blade and thinks again that in a younger wilder phase of her life, Alex Danvers would have been 100% her type. The man standing next to her gives a strangled cough.

“Yes, fine, read it,” Cat says, handing each of them a printed copy. “Not my best work, but perfection takes time, so under the circumstances I will settle for mere excellence.”

Alex grabs a pen - an expensive pen - off of Cat’s desk and settles onto the couch, reading. Cat watches her for a moment and then gives it up as a bad job; she is entirely expressionless. Instead Cat moves to her personal bar, pouring three hefty fingers of bourbon and putting the glasses on a tray. When she comes back, Alex’s eyebrows are at her hairline, and she takes the proffered drink without looking up.

“I believe that there's more to hope than just idealism or philosophy. It's a discipline and it's an action; it's a choice to get up each day and demand better for this world than what you see around you,” she reads aloud, and then adds, “did my sister really say that?”

“She really did,” Cat says softly. “But then, we’ve all heard that - the thing about Supergirl is that she has a knack for making me believe it.”

“Did she really say that Sansa Stark is her favorite Game of Thrones character?” the man mutters, and Cat surveys him.

“I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name, Agent….”

“Henshaw,” he provides, and holds out his hand, expression bland. Cat shakes it.

“I have a newspaper to print, Agent Henshaw. Does the article meet with your satisfaction or no?”

“It's acceptable,” he says.

“Good, even,” Alex adds, and her tone is begrudgingly impressed.

“Well if you think so, I'll call the Pulitzer committee,” Cat says. “Kindly remove your weaponized selves from my office, then, agents. I've spent half my afternoon filing your paperwork and I need to get back to my actual job of running an entire company.”

Secretly, she's pleased, and she thinks from  the wry grin Alex sends her way that she hasn't fooled her in the slightest.

“We’ll get out of your way,” Alex agrees, which is the closest she's come so far to being polite. “And Cat - thank you.”

When Cat gets home, it's pushing midnight. Carter is almost fourteen, but Cat still stops by his bedroom to check on him, smiling gently at his snoring.

Alex Danvers had said that there was no one in Cat’s life who would look closely if they erased her. But her life is so full of love. Carter grounds her, provides everything she needs and more, and she is so grateful for him.

She lingers for a moment, drawing strength from him, before she faces the lingering memory of Kara’s confession.

Alone in her bedroom, she wipes the makeup from her face and sinks back into reality. Kara might, for a moment, believe that she is attracted to Cat. But she is half

Cat’s age, and not even human - she hasn't aged at all in the five years that Cat has known her.

Twenty years will go by, and Cat will be an old woman, and Kara - Kara won't even have reached middle age. She'll be young and vibrant, and so good . Cat faces herself in the mirror, the wrinkles that are starting to accumulate around her eyes despite her heroic and expensive efforts to hold them off.

She is old, and she is beginning to grow tired. There is very little that she could offer to a superhero. She lets that knowledge sit for a moment, and then stands, performing her nightly ablutions and changing into her pajamas.

She’ll pretend she didn't understand Kara's confession, that's all. If Kara eventually forces her hand, Cat will find the strength to reject her, but perhaps they can simply muddle along as they have been, until Kara finds someone more suitable.

Thethought puts a bitter taste into Cat’s mouth, and she carries it to bed with her, unable to help lingering on it. On the image of Kara, in someone else’s arms, someone vibrant and young and idealistic, ready to help her change the world. Someone suited to her.

A tapping sound intrudes on Cat’s thoughts, and it takes her a moment to realize that it's coming from the small balcony outside her room.

Half-frightened, she pads across her carpet to throw open the curtain; Supergirl is floating outside

“Oh for god’s sake,” Cat mutters, and unhooks the latch, throwing open the windowed door. “Kara, do you know what time it is?”

“I feel like I didn't make myself clear enough earlier,” Kara says, setting down effortlessly and coming inside. Strength and determination radiate from her, and despite herself, Cat is drawn to it.

“Surely it can wait until morning,” she manages, but it's a weak attempt to rally. Kara steps into her space, brings a hand up to cup Cat’s chin.

“It really can't,” she says, and then her mouth is on Cat’s, hot and demanding, and all Cat can do is wrap her arms around Kara’s shoulders and hang on.

Kara is insistent, her arm coming around Cat’s back as she brings Cat’s lower lip briefly between her teeth. It's like she's trying to make the most of what might be her only opportunity, and then she pulls back, anxiously scanning Cat’s face for her reaction.

“No more secrets between us,” she says. “I'm a superpowered alien refugee from a lost world, and I'm so in love with you that being around you feels like finally finding home. Could you ever feel the same?”

“Yes,” Cat whispers, and let's Kara pull her forward again, finding space between kisses to repeat it. “Yes, yes, yes.”