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“Off to the library again, uh?” Alex teased with a smirk and Kara blushed furiously, fidgeting with her glasses as she tried to come up with an appropriate answer.

“Don’t even bother, I know you have a crush on Miss Grant. Honestly, who doesn’t? I used to think that woman was too hot to be real,” Alex said before waving her sister goodbye, and Kara sauntered through the door.

The library was quiet and deserted, in the middle of a hot and sunny Friday afternoon. It was cool inside and particles of dust were floating in the light of the sunbeams that filtered through the high windows. It smelled like ancient books and mysteries and Kara loved it.

She placed the books she had already read atop of the empty librarian desk and wandered through the aisles, in search of the woman who ruled the place like an actual empire. Her excuse was that she needed a particular book in French and while she was definitely fluent in Moliere’s native language, she figured the librarian couldn’t know that.

She was reaching the far end of the whole building and turned around the end of a wing of books when she came to an abrupt stop, her jaw dropping open and her eyes widening like crazy.

Perched atop an elegant and classic wooden ladder, Cat Grant was putting away a pile of leather-covered old books that looked pretty heavy but Kara was transcended by something else entirely.

Cat Grant was dressed to kill, her high heels carefully stuck in one of the steps of the ladder that showed off the perfectly sculpted calves and a black pencil skirt was stopping above the knees, hugging her thighs and her ass in a way that made Kara’s swallowing ability struggled. A very fitting white blouse was finishing off the powerful outfit, underlining her thin waist and rather frail silhouette in general and a halo of blond, flowing curls surrounding her focused features.

“It’s quite rude to stare, Miss Danvers. Especially from that angle, I can practically feel the ogling,” Cat’s voice brought Kara back to the present, rather brutally even, and she blushed so furiously she could feel the heat coming out of her cheeks and ears.

“I’m so, sorry Miss Grant I was not expecting you here I’m sorry I didn’t mean to …” Kara rambled on and Cat leaned back a little from the shelves to look down on the girl, an unimpressed brow forming a perfect arc above her right eye.

“You weren’t expecting me, the librarian, in the library, doing my job … I assume it must be a total shock indeed,” Cat sassed and Kara was now certain she was as red as a tomato.

“That’s not, I meant, I’m … I’m sorry, Miss Grant, I’ll go now,” Kara mumbled as she backtracked as quickly as she could without tripping on her feet, not wanting to cause the whole aisle of books to fall and slow down her escaping route.

‘Actually, Miss Danvers, since you’re here … You might as well make yourself useful. The books I need to put away are on the table at the bottom of the ladder, hand over the right one when I ask for it,” Cat called back and Kara stopped in the middle of the romance section, unsure as what to do.

“Well, chop chop, I don’t have all day!” Cat’s voice echoed again and Kara swallowed thickly before doing as she was asked.

“Oh and please, Miss Danvers, refrain yourself from starring this time,” Cat said, bringing back the deep shade of red across Kara’s face but when she finally dared looking up, she saw a smile float across the librarian’s lips.

YEARS LATER

It was raining in that soft and gentle way only summer days could pull off. As the long and thin drops of water fell straight from the thick, sombre sky, it created a dark curtain over the world, blurring the grey buildings of the campus, soiling the dust of the paths to turn it into mud and bending the vegetation into an odd angle, making the leaves and the grass bow to the weight of it all. The air smelled that distinct scent of a summer storm day, a mixture of wet dust, bloomed flowers and the earthy, yet metallic, smell of the rain.

Kara liked this typical August weather, with the way the world seemed to become almost poetic and nostalgic at once. She liked the faint glow of the rain under the rather dim daylight, the regular splashing sound of the drops in the puddles, the intense green of the grass and tree leaves and she especially loved how soothing it was, after the suffocating heat wave that had crushed the world for the past three weeks.

“Earth to Kara, are you listening to me?”

Her sister’s voice suddenly broke through her reverie, abruptly bringing her back to reality. She blinked a few times before remembering she was in the middle of a phone call with Alex, who sounded a little annoyed now.

“Sorry, I was watching the rain and I got lost in my thoughts, you were saying?” Kara apologized, making sure to sound sheepish enough to soften her sister.

“Wait, it’s raining in Midvale? You have got to be kidding me!” Alex exclaimed, loud enough to make Kara wince and pull out one of her earbuds, in a vain attempt to lower the impact of her sister’s voice volume on her ears.

“What? Why, why are you yelling?” Kara groaned, tentatively putting the earbud back but keeping her hand up just in case.

“We’re on week four of the heat wave here in Metropolis, with no storm in sight for another four days …” Alex whined, sounding dejected indeed. Kara could only sympathize. She was an superpowered alien with an enhanced metabolism and no sensitivity to most human temperatures but even for her, the intensity of the sun’s rays during the last few weeks had been a little too much.

“Sorry sis’, but yes it’s raining here. The storm has been gathering above town for the past two days, with low and dark grey clouds hanging around, but it only burst today, around noon …”

“Urgh, this is so unfair. Wait,” Alex suddenly asked, making Kara wince but not because of the volume this time. She knew what her sister was about to ask but she didn’t think of a plausible answer beforehand. “Are you on your way to the library again? In the middle of summer break?”

“Uh, well, you know … I’ve been meaning to … I mean … French books, I’ve run out of them …” Kara stammered, wincing even more as she realized how terrible this sounded. She cursed her inability to lie, and not for the first time since she landed on Earth.

“French books, riiight,” Alex sassed and Kara could basically hear the smirk in her sister’s voice. “Nothing to do with the librarian then?”

“Well, uh, no, I mean …” Kara let out a frustrated huff before taking a deep breath. “I mean, I’m sure she’ll be there, of course. She’s the librarian and I am going to the library.”

“I feel like I should mention there is a perfectly well-furnished public library next to city hall …” Alex started, clearly amused. Kara swallowed and tried to think of an excuse but before she could speak, Alex sighed. “But don’t worry, I get why you would prefer the campus one.”

“Uh? You do?”

“Oh, Kara. I think every student who went to the Midvale High School developed a crush on Miss Grant, at some point. I know I did,” Alex chuckled but Kara didn’t. The realization that her sister had a point darkened her mood and made her feel a little heartbroken, even though she didn’t exactly understand why.

“Anyway, I should get back to work, and you need to go take care of that crush of yours,” Alex added, with another sigh that betrayed how unhappy she was at the thought of returning to her lab.

“Urgh, shut up. You’re the worst,” Kara groaned but she then smiled. She had missed Alex, ever since the older Danvers went to Metropolis to work for LuthorCorp. “Say hi to Lena for me and call Mom sometime soon, she’s been asking about you lately.”

“Yeah, yeah I will. Lena says hi back, she’s sprawled on the couch in the break room at the moment,” Alex replied and Kara heard a muffled voice speak behind her sister. “She says you should come visit for a few days.”

Kara considered the offer for a few seconds before nodding to herself. She’d been a little lost, without her sister and her best friend, lately. It might actually be a good idea to go pay them a visit and she might even jump on the opportunity to see her cousin while staying in Metropolis.

“Actually, that’s a good idea. Maybe I will, when summer ends,” Kara replied and she heard Lena’s excited squeal of joy, as well as her sister’s enthusiastic ‘awesome!’. She smiled and looked at the time on her phone, spread in big, bold numbers at the bottom of the screen.

“Guys, I gotta go, the library is going to close in about an hour and I really want to get that Fred Vargas book.”

“Sure you do, sweetie,” Lena said, her voice low and raspy despite the amused edge in it. Kara guessed Alex must have put her on speaker. “Say hi to the queen of the library for me and I guess I’ll see you soon then!”

“See you soon Lena. Bye Alex, I love you!” Kara added before punching the red button on her phone, hanging up with a relieved sigh. She removed her headphones and put them away in the inside pocket of her raincoat, along with her cellphone and her library card.

Midvale High School was a rather pretty and well-built campus, for such a small town.

It had the merit of hosting students of all the little towns in the area and as such, it had several buildings in which classes were dispensed, a small but cosy auditorium, a nice sports complex with a swimming pool, two fields for the Lacrosse and Football teams and an athletic ring. The best part of the whole campus, however, was the library.

It wasn’t exactly well-located, for the building was at the very end of the campus, well after the sports complex and far removed from the buildings where classes happened, but it was bordered with well-maintained paved paths with benches on either side, and the many trees around the edifice and the little stone-roads provided an odd kind of intimacy, making the landscape look like something straight out of a fairytale.

The building itself wasn’t remotely the kind that evoked Snow White’s little cottage; however. It was a very well-thought-out blending of old and new material, with a rather modern look that still didn’t seem too out of place in such a natural setting.

It was a two-floor edifice. The first part, made of the entrance porch, stayed on the ground floor but a little further on, the second floor went up. The frontage was made of clear red brick but the industrial style was broken by a good number of high-windows with a dark grey-steel frames, placed at a meticulously regular intervals from each other.

Kara loved that building, despite having secretly wished it could look more like the Oxford library for all of her time in high school. It had been her refuge for a long, long time, when the drama of a student life had been too much, when her senses had been overloaded with talk of sex, of parties and drugs even, when she’d experienced her first heartbreak because Imra told her she was in love with a douchebag and not with her.

She pushed one of the double entrance doors and ventured toward the reception area, after having swiped her feet on the rug to avoid dragging too much dirt on the marble floor. The front desk was empty and clear of any books, which made Kara feel a little guilty when she pulled off her backpack to retrieve four of them. She gently placed them on the spot reserved for returns and walked further into the building.

At some point, the marble floor disappeared, replaced by a dark but warm hardwood floor that contemplated the lines and lines of bookshelves coursing through the whole length of the building. From time to time, the regularity of said bookshelves was broken to show either a lounge space, with leather couches, armchairs, coffee tables, nightstand and lamps or a study space, with long wooden tables, matching chairs and working lamps.

The dim daylight outside wasn’t nearly bright enough, and to remedy it, the whole library was also lit up by spotlights strategically placed in the ceiling and along higher shelves. Still, it was rather dark in here, and Kara liked it that way.

She knew the layout of the place by heart and she instinctively moved through the English literature aisle to get to the French one. She hadn’t lied to Alex, she truly wanted to find the next adventure of the French cop she has become hooked on, a saga she had discovered during her last trip to France.

She was so engrossed in her search for the right book that she didn’t fully process the noise in the background, a quick heartbeat paired with high heels clicking on the floor, all coming her way. Worse, she took it for granted.

“Hey, have you seen the …” Kara asked, absentmindedly, before looking to her side and trailing off, with only one sound escaping her lips. “Oh.”

Cat Grant was even more stunning than in her memories, and God knew she had a lot of them. Like the burning image of the librarian standing atop a classical wooden ladder, in a pencil skirt and a white fitted shirt, which was still firmly implanted in Kara’s mind and often resurfaced at random moments of the day and the night.

Today, however, it was a whole other kind of fantasy, for Cat Grant truly was a vision. She was draped in a sleeveless black dress, the kind made for cocktail parties or charity galas, and the soft fabric hugged the librarian’s silhouette in such an indecent way, Kara’s mouth went dry. A pair of classic Louboutins topped the whole outfit off, black as well but with a hint of the signature daring red underneath.

Cat had aged a little since Kara was a student here, and the recent crinkles of time around the sparkling hazel eyes gave the woman a healthy glow. Her hair, still as blonde and silky looking as in Kara’s memory, was longer now, practically brushing the shoulders despite the natural waves and tiny little curls showing here and there.

“Miss Danvers, fancy seeing you here,” Cat said, the shadow of a smirk tugging at the corner of her red painted lips. Kara absentmindedly noticed it was the exact same shade as the one from underneath the shoes. “I wonder why, though, since you are now a renowned author yourself … I think your books are somewhere on the shelves of the historical fiction aisle. So tell me, are you walking down memory lane?”

There was a teasing edge in the woman’s voice that made Kara’s knees feel a little weak. She’d been dreaming of Cat for a long time, despite the fact she was now twenty-six years old and had left high school behind ten years ago, a little before she turned seventeen. The woman had left an imprint on her, without Kara ever being able to understand why. She only knew it ran deeper than a simple crush and no matter how much she had tried to move on, everything always brought her back to the Midvale High School Library and the woman who ruled it like an empire.

“Actually, I only wanted the next book of the Adamsberg adventures …” Kara managed to say, her voice sounding strange to her own ears. How was she even able to speak was beyond her and she swallowed, thickly, against the lump of anticipation lodged in her throat.

Cat arched a brow but didn’t say anything. If she was surprised or disappointed by the weak comeback, nothing transpired as she only took a few steps closer, making Kara’s breathing hitch and her heart race. When the librarian reached a hand to her face, Kara thought it was a dream and she held her breath.

Only, Cat’s fingers, long and deft, like the ones of a pianist, slid past her left cheek and then Cat moved even closer, almost touching Kara’s body with hers. She smelled like pine wood, dusty old books and a hint of something spicy, heady and strong. Kara’s senses, already enhanced because of her superpowers, were overloaded and she felt like she was when she had a hangover, head dizzy and swimming, unable to focus on anything else but Cat.

Eventually, Cat took a step back and brought back her hand in front of Kara, with a book in between her fingers. Kara instantly recognized the black and white cover, a chiaroscuro picture of a forest with a boar going down a barely visible path.

“How did you …” Kara swallowed, her heart still beating too hard in her chest and drumming like a tambourine in her ears. She still felt disappointed that nothing happened. “I mean, thank you… How did you know I wanted this book and not the new one?”

Cat’s smile was amused when she answered. “I read the latest interview you gave to the Planet, where you explained you were slowly catching up on the saga. Now, the exclusive was from January and you were still reading ‘L’armée furieuse’ … I figured since it’s August, you couldn’t be so up to date as to want ‘Quand sort la recluse’ … Which means you wanted ‘Temps Glaciaire’.”

Her French accent, when she enumerated the titles, was perfect and Kara internally swooned a little, before realizing something.

“You read my interview?” she asked, trying not to let it go to her head and failing already.

“Oh yes, I’ve been following your rise with attention, ever since you first got published at the tender age of eighteen,” Cat nodded, her smirk morphing into a genuine and somehow proud smile.

Kara blushed and to avoid being too awkward, she gently took the book that was being handed to her. Her fingers inadvertently brushed Cat’s when she did so and she blinked a few times before looking down at her feet, trying to recompose herself. It took a few seconds before she could find the courage to meet Cat’s eyes again.

“Oh, uh. Thank you. You … hm you look beautiful, by the way,” Kara let out in one single breath that left her panting a little. She thought she heard Cat’s heartbeat quicken but it might have been just hers, given how loudly her own heart was racing again.

“Why thank you, I am on my way to a play and I thought I would close early today …” Cat said with a pleased smile, still staring right into Kara’s eyes. The younger Danvers had a little experience with plays and she knew one wasn’t going to the theatre without being accompanied, especially not dressed in such a beautiful dress as Cat’s.

“Well, your date is one lucky person,” Kara stated, ignoring the way her heart dropped in her shoes as she managed the words out. She should have known someone like Cat Grant wouldn’t be single but still, the brutal realization was painful.

“I’m not sure he agrees, seeing as my date is my fifteen-year-old son, who begged me to go see this Moliere modern mise en scène,” Cat replied, a hint of amusement lining her voice and Kara’s heart suddenly returned to its rightful place, instantly resuming its fanfare even louder than before.

“Oh, you guys are going to see ‘Le malade imaginaire’?” Kara asked, remembering her mother saying something about the play and how it was surprising that such a prestigious troupe would play in Midvale.

“We are indeed! Have you seen it?” Cat asked, looking both surprised and curious.

“I haven’t, no, but I’ve heard a lot of very nice things about it,” Kara shook her head before realizing she was keeping Cat from leaving. “Oh Miss Grant, I am so sorry! I’ve been delaying you I’m so sorry. I’m on my way, so you can close after me if you want.”

Kara pressed the book against her chest and crossed her arms over it, blushing again as she tried to walk around Cat’s silhouette to reach the exit. The bookshelves were rather close and two couldn’t walk side by side, which mean that when Kara tried to brush past Cat, she accidentally collided with the woman’s hip and nearly send her into the Fred Vargas book collection.

Thankfully, Kara had quick reflexes and super strength and in the blink of an eye, she dropped the book and reached both hands to close her fingers around Cat’s waist, pulling the librarian closer without realizing it. It was only when the agitation settled down that she noticed she was pressed against Cat’s front, her head swimming with her heady perfume and her skin tingling from the warmth radiating from Cat’s body.

“I’m so sorry, I’m incredibly clumsy I’m sorry,” Kara rambled, another shade of red colouring her cheeks as she blushed, and tried to take a step back. To her surprise, Cat seemed to hold her in place for a split second, before letting go of her forearms.

“It’s quite alright,” Cat waved the apology off with a flourish of her wrist. ”The shelves are not spaced out like they should be, it’s pretty narrow in there. Thank you, for catching me before I could stumble into the wooden bookshelves, by the way. They tend to leave nasty bruises …”

Kara tried very hard not to think of another kind of bruise she wanted to leave on Cat’s skin as she carefully extricated herself from the narrow space, picking up the book and then striding towards the exit once she was free.

Cat’s heels followed her and they met again by the front desk.

“Here, give me the book, I’ll process it before closing,” Cat said in that authoritative tone that had lulled Kara all the way through high school. Kara did as she was asked and their fingers touched again during the exchange. This time, Kara’s ears did pick up on the quickening of Cat’s heartbeat, not confusing it with her own, and she wondered what had caused the sudden change.

Once the book was correctly registered under Kara’s name for the loan, Cat turned off the computer and punched a few buttons, closing the metallic curtains on every window and switching off the lights in the whole building, aside from the reception area.

“It’s raining even harder …” Cat noticed as they approached the front door. She grabbed her beige Trench coat and tried to wrestle with it while balancing with her purse, a few books and an umbrella as well.

“Here, let me help you,” Kara offered, having already put her own book away in her backpack. She gently took the coat and held it out for Cat to put it on, draping it properly on the shoulders and pulling the collar up.

“Thank you, that’s very sweet of you,” Cat said with a smile and Kara blushed again. “Would you like to accompany me to my car? You’ll enjoy the umbrella until then …”

Kara almost said no. She almost let it slip that she’d fly right back home, but she bit the inside of her cheek at the very last second, before nodding. “That would be very nice, yes. Thank you.”

Kara got out of the building first and waited under the large porch for Cat to close the doors and turn off the few remaining lights.

The rain was getting pretty heavy, having lost its previous charm since the day had started to fall to let the night take over. The few lampposts lighting the path towards the campus were glowing rather dimly, making the whole landscape appear almost sinister.

“Here we go,” Cat announced as she opened the umbrella. Kara gently took it and as much as she tried not to touch Cat, their fingers brushed again and she lingered, a few seconds longer than strictly necessary.

“I’m a little taller, it’s only fair I carry it,” Kara explained once she had placed the protection above their heads.

Cat nodded, before asking “Shall we?”

Kara smiled and stepped out from under the porch. Cat followed instantly, staying very close to Kara to avoid being drenched by the unforgiving rain. They made their way across the whole park, along the sports complex and in between the buildings before finally reaching the parking lot.

Cat guided Kara towards a night-blue BMW car, a small urban SUV that seemed a little too big for her. Kara would have guessed a sports car, something a little fast but nowhere that close to a soccer mom car. Then again, Cat did have a teenager son.

“Thank you, for walking with me,” Cat said as she unlocked her car, the flashing of the warning lights piercing the relative shadows of their surroundings.

“Sure, no problem,” Kara replied with a smile and she opened the door for Cat to slide in behind the wheel.

“Would you … “ Cat paused and Kara tilted her head, slightly startled by the fast heartbeat that was echoing from the woman’s chest. “Would you like to come to the Lacrosse match, next weekend? My son has been bugging me to get an extra place for his friend Jason but the young man broke his arms two days ago, while doing something reckless, and he is grounded for a few weeks.”

Kara frowned and mentally went through her program for the next few days. She didn’t have anything planned, other than spend some time with her mother and do some writing. She still didn’t want to sound too eager so she took an extra few seconds to think, before smiling.

“I would love to, yes. Who’s playing?”

Cat’s smile was wide and joyful and Kara forgot about her question, staring abashedly into a pair of hazel green eyes that sparkled intensely, despite the almost non-existent light.

“I think it’s Midvale against some nearby town, I’ll have to check. I’ve never been a huge fan of the sport, I must confess …” Cat explained and she was still smiling, so Kara didn’t quite catch the answer. When the silence lasted long enough for Kara to realize she should say something, she blinked a few times and mentally racked her brain for a comeback.

“I am. A fan, I mean. I miss playing, sometimes. Anyway, I’d be happy to come, yes,” Kara finally blurted, a little too fast. Cat didn’t seem to mind though, she looked surprised instead.

“You played?”

“Whoa, you really didn’t pay any attention to the high school sport events, over the years … I was captain of the Lacrosse team for three years in a row and we won like, 95% of the games, yes,” Kara laughed and then winked at Cat, in a bold move she almost instantly regretted. Almost, because she heard Cat’s heart jump and then race, betraying the impact Kara’s gesture had on her.

“I never really cared, no. A mistake, I realize that now,” Cat nodded, before checking the time on the dashboard of her car. “I’m sorry Kara, I should get going. I have to pick up Carter before we head out to the theater … Here.”

Cat pulled out a piece of paper from her purse and then rummaged around to find a pen. Once she had one, she scribbled down a series of numbers and handed the paper to Kara.

“That’s my number, send me a text so I can have yours and I’ll text you the details of Saturday’s game. It starts at 7pm, in the campus’s stadium …” Cat explained and it seemed as if she didn’t want to leave, for a few seconds. The way her blonde waves gently fell around her features made her look like an angel, and under the lights of her car, turned on to allow her to write her number, she was more beautiful than ever.

“Thank you, Miss Grant. Have a nice evening with your son, I hope the play lives up to the reviews I’ve read,” Kara offered, folding the umbrella and placing it on the backseat of the car before closing all the doors. She took a few steps back and watched as Cat maneuvered a U-turn. After one last wave, the librarian was gone and Kara watched the tail lights drive away and then disappear.

Kara stood there with a stupid smile across her lips, despite the fact she was standing in the pouring rain. She only had one thought, circling over and over in her mind.

Oh gosh, I’m in love.