Alex is on the first first date she’s been on in 2 years, and she’s fucking terrified.
She shouldn’t be, really. Sam is wonderful – she’s funny, and charming, and the date is low-stakes. A casual dinner and drinks, a walk to show Alex around Chinatown and Little Italy, coffee at a tiny bistro near the park. She can see the twinkling lights of an outdoor skating rink across the street, but she and Sam are cozy at their worn wooden table. Sam’s foot nudges hers, and her heart races in a way she’s not really used to anymore. It’s good. It’s all good feelings, tingles and butterflies and warmth. But, nonetheless, the nervousness remains.
Thankfully, Sam’s warm brown eyes crinkling as she smiles definitely helps.
“So. How are you liking Metropolis so far?” Sam asks, and Alex answers honestly.
“It’s…growing on me,” Alex says, and Sam grins at that, taking a sip of her cappuccino. “It probably helps that I’m staying in the nicest building in the downtown core.”
“Yeah, Lena’s apartment is ridiculously nice for someone who usually sleeps in her office. She’s hardly ever there.”
“Well, I’m happy to take it off her hands for a few weeks. I’m glad I came.”
“I’m glad you did, too.”
Alex blushes, rubbing the back of her neck. She’s still struggling for a response besides ‘you’re uhhhhh really pretty’ when Sam’s phone goes off, the name “Ruby” lighting up the screen. For the third time that night.
The first two times didn’t bother her – you can’t control other people calling you, and Sam apologized and silenced her phone, even though Alex insisted that she could take it. But this is the third time this Ruby woman has called in one night, and this time, Sam frowns at it.
“I’m really sorry, I have to take this. Hold that thought?”
Alex nods and Sam picks up the phone, walking a short distance away.
“Hi, honey. What’s up?” Sam’s voice softens the moment the woman on the other end answers, her face broadcasting love and affection, and Alex’s heart sinks.
I should have known.
There’s no way a woman as beautiful as Sam is actually single. This ‘Ruby’, whoever she is, is clearly the one that holds Sam’s heart, and Alex doesn’t expect to be able to compare. She’s not sure why Sam is even out with her, honestly. When Sam hangs up the call with a murmured ‘I love you too’, it’s the nail in the coffin. Sam slips back into her seat, putting her phone back into her pocket, and Alex grabs her coat.
“Woah, hey. Where are you going?” Sam looks confused, and Alex swallows past the lump in her throat.
“It’s clear that your interest is…elsewhere. I don’t really feel like being the other woman,” Alex says matter-of-factly, but the confusion doesn’t leave Sam’s face.
“The other – Alex, what are you talking about?”
Alex sighs, buttoning her coat and fishing a 10 dollar bill from her wallet to pay for her own coffee. “Whoever Ruby is, she’s very lucky.”
Understanding dawns on Sam’s face, and she shakes her head, putting a hand on Alex’s arm. “No, Alex, it’s not – it’s not like that.”
“Then, what’s it like?” Alex says quietly.
Suspicions confirmed, Alex purses her lips together. “Look, I had a great time. You almost made this vacation bearable,” she admits. “No hard feelings, okay?”
Sad feelings, maybe. And a self-promise to never date again.
“Alex –“ Sam starts, but Alex is gone, shoving her hands into her pockets against the cold wind. She’s in a cab before Sam can follow, but she’s not even back at Lena’s apartment yet when her phone lights up with Sam’s name. Two text messages, one after the other.
Sam Arias [9:04 PM]
It’s complicated, but it’s not what you think
I really liked our date. Please let me explain?
Alex dismisses the notifications, dragging her feet up to Lena’s apartment. She fully expects to spend the night soaking in Lena’s huge tub and dulling the disappointment with some of the very expensive bourbon she saw in Lena’s liquor cabinet.
What she gets is 5 phone calls, staggered every 10 minutes or so, all from Sam.
She shouldn’t answer, she knows. She shouldn’t. She should leave it – maybe even go home, and call this whole thing a giant loss. But Sam’s texts seemed genuine, and honestly, Alex is surprised and a little bit flattered that she seems to be trying so hard to explain herself.
I can at least hear her out.
Finally, she picks up the phone.
“You’re very persistent,” Alex starts, trying not to sound impressed.
“Only when it’s important,” Sam replies, completely serious. Alex swallows, the attempt at humour dying on her lips.
“So,” Alex says hesitantly, “Whatever your situation is – open relationship, unhappy marriage, whatever – I’m not really interested in –“
Sam interrupts, and there’s a genuine plea in her voice. “It’s not like that. Look, if I text you my address, will you come over?”
“Right now?” Alex blanches, surprised at the request. She has no idea what Sam needs to show her in person, but she can’t deny she wants to know. “I mean – I guess so.”
“Please. Just come over, and if after that you still don’t want anything to do with me, I’ll leave it. I promise,” Sam says, and Alex is inclined to believe her.
She’s not sure what she was expecting when she knocked on the door of the surprisingly wholesome three-storey house in what can only be described as a suburb, but a 12 year old answering the door is definitely not even in the top 5.
“Who are you?” The girl asks bluntly, and Alex gapes at her for a few seconds before she can answer.
“Uh. Alex. I’m looking for…Sam?”
The girl seems to accept that easily, turning back into the house and shouting down the hallway.
“Mom! Someone’s at the door!”
Suddenly, everything clicks, and Alex is honestly a little embarrassed that she didn’t put it together before.
“Ruby?” Alex says tentatively, and the girl turns back around, gesturing for her to come inside.
“Yeah. Are you a friend of my mom’s?”
“Sort of,” Alex edges, but she’s saved from the awkward conversation by Sam rounding the corner with a wooden spoon in her hand. Ruby turns to her, asking a question that’s far too pointed to be innocent.
“Is this the person you were calling earlier?”
It’s Sam’s turn to blush now, and she pulls Ruby into a side-hug that’s just a little too tight, handing her the spoon. “Hey, how about you go watch the milk on the stove before it burns?”
Ruby rolls her eyes, but her smile is mischievous when she heads to the kitchen.
Her absence leaves them alone, and Sam is looking at her with a nervousness that lets Alex know that she doesn’t do this often. Alex, on the other hand, is doing her best to compute the situation.
Sam is a mom.
Alex can’t see a ring on her finger, so it doesn’t seem like she’s married. But of course, that doesn’t mean anything, lots of people have kids when they’re not married, she could still be in a relationship –
Sam interrupts her runaway thoughts with a sentence that settles her nerves considerably.
“I’m a single mom.”
Alex relaxes visibly, trying to make it seem like she wasn’t just staring with lase focus at Sam’s left hand. “What? I wasn’t -”
Sam chuckles. “I could see the wheels turning. I swear, Alex, I’m not two-timing you. Ruby’s father hasn’t been around since before she was born, and there’s no-one else.”
“Oh, well that’s…great,” Alex nods, before her eyes widen. “I mean! Not great! It’s, sad for her, and for you, if you liked – just it’s good that you’re not – I’m going to stop talking now,” she finishes, rubbing a hand over her hot face.
Sam laughs, and leans forward to kiss her on the cheek. “We were just making cocoa. Want some?”
“I’d love some,” Alex says, relieved at the opportunity to shut her mouth.
Ruby, of course, is a great kid. She asks Alex a million questions – about National City, her family, her job. She’s whip-smart, just like Sam, and Alex warms to her immediately.
“My mom works for a big company. Is that how you know each other?”
“Uh, no,” Alex says, looking at Sam nervously. She hadn’t revealed her job during their date, and this seems like a strange way to get into it, but here goes nothing. “I actually work for the FBI.”
Sam and Ruby’s eyes widen almost in unison, and Ruby looks delighted. “Woah! Seriously?!”
“Yes,” Alex laughs, tickled by her fascination. “I’m an agent.”
“So…is Alex your real name?” Sam asks with a wink, and Alex laughs into her hot chocolate.
“Yes! We can tell people about our work, you know. Unless it’s an undercover op or something.”
Ruby looks thoughtful. “There’s this girl at school who keeps bugging me. Could you threaten her with your badge?”
“Ruby!” Sam scolds gently, and Ruby sighs, burying her nose in the sticky marshmallow of her drink. When Sam looks away to grab her own mug, Alex shoots Ruby a subtle thumbs-up, and Ruby giggles.
The whole evening feels warm and comfortable, and Alex thinks that maybe…maybe, she could get used to this.
When Lena enters the pub, a wall of sound and heat greets her. It smells like years and years of beer and fried food, and it’s the exact opposite of anywhere she’s used to being. But she finds herself a table anyways, primly draping her jacket over the back of the chair.
What am I doing here?
She orders a glass of wine from the nearest passing waiter, and waits. Kara is nowhere to be seen as of yet – the music is loud, but she’s close enough to the door that she’s confident she’ll be able to hear her enter.
This is a bad idea.
She’s not even entirely sure why she’s here. The same unexplainable whim that drove her to come to National City seems to be persuading her to stay, driven by her fascination with the woman that came crashing into her life last night with the velocity of a comet.
She’s halfway through her glass of white already when she sees Kara come in.
Kara's looking especially sharp in chinos and a deep red button-down, and while Lena tries to calm her heart rate Kara spots two people across the room – a man and a woman – and heads to their table. She hugs them enthusiastically, but her eyes are glancing around the room as she does. As if she’s looking for someone else.
She’s looking for me.
Finally, Kara’s eyes land on her. It takes a second, but the warm, happy smile that follows is an image that Lena won’t soon forget.
Kara waves her over immediately, introducing Lena to her friends – Winn and Lucy, both unsurprisingly almost as likeable as Kara – and to her surprise, the night is actually fun. Really fun. Kara is intoxicating, her relaxed friendliness easing Lena’s usual social anxiety and before she knows it, she’s a little bit drunk. Her fifth glass of wine arrives and the room spins a little, Kara’s shoulder seeming like the only thing anchoring her to the earth -
Okay, maybe a lot drunk.
The night starts to blur together a bit after that. Kara’s friends leave and then it’s just the two of them, and she feels warm and happy and safe – she’s in a car, and then she’s back at the house, and she can feel how much she wants Kara – the intensity of her wanting is kicked up by the wine, and it’s all a little overwhelming, everything is still spinning –
She wakes up alone and half-clothed, with a throbbing headache and a dry mouth.
Squinting at the offensive sunlight streaming through the window, she groans lowly. It’s been years since she’s been this hung over, so hung over that she can’t remember what happened the night before, and the quiet singing that drifts up from downstairs tells her that Kara was definitely involved.
She stumbles down the stairs, following the music, to find Kara looking perky in her clothes from yesterday and holding two mugs of coffee.
“Good morning!” Kara chirps, handing a steaming cup to Lena. She immediately takes a scalding sip, and the pain in her mouth is absolutely worth it.
“I haven't had that much to drink in...you know what, I don’t know if I’ve ever had that much to drink,” Lena mutters, breathing deep and taking another gulp.
“Yeah, I don’t know if anyone ever has,” Kara grins, leaning against the counter and stirring sugar into her own drink. “What do you remember?”
“The last thing I remember was coming in here last night, and...” Lena glances into the room behind her. She does remember dragging Kara into the living room, and then – pushing her down on a chair? There was music involved, and…grinding?
Just then, Lena happens to spot something hanging from the armchair. Something black and lacy. Something that is absolutely her bra.
It comes rushing back, then – insisting that Kara turn on one of Alex’s Rihanna albums, climbing into her lap despite Kara’s gentle protests, insisting that she can give a lap dance as good as any National City stripper, falling on her face and having Kara carry her upstairs to bed. With a pained groan, Lena snatches the lingerie up and shoves it into her robe pocket.
“I had nothing to do with that,” Kara says, hands raised in surrender and a delighted grin on her face. The expression makes it clear that, even if she had nothing to do with it, she enjoyed it immensely.
Lena sets her mug down, burying her face in her hands. “Ugh, but you were here.”
“Yes…I was.” Kara sounds endlessly pleased, and Lena wants to melt into the floor.
“This is the worst,” Lena grumbles, and Kara snickers into her hand, her eyes crinkling at the corners.
“So I guess we... Did we? I mean –“ Lena has never, in her life, been so drunk that she doesn’t remember sleeping with someone. The idea of the first person to break that pattern being Kara makes her feel a little bit ill.
“We did not,” Kara says, her face shifting into something more serious.
The relief Lena feels at the confirmation is visceral in its intensity.
“We didn’t have sex?” Lena asks, needing that little bit of extra assurance, and Kara frowns, as if the very idea of it is ludicrous.
“Lena, you were unconscious.”
“Of course. Well. That must have been really attractive,” Lena mutters, sinking into a kitchen chair. Kara follows the movement, still looking a little confused. “Why did you even stay?”
Kara’s answer is, like almost everything she says, both ridiculously genuine and blithely unaware of its effect on Lena.
“Because you asked me to.”
Lena is glad she’s already sitting down, because the warmth that suffuses her at the simple statement makes her feel a little bit faint. It’s so matter-of-fact - of course I took care of your sloppy drunk ass, Lena, why wouldn’t I – in a way that Lena isn’t used to. Even Sam, although she would absolutely take care of Lena, would do so while simultaneously calling her a pain in the ass. She’s not entirely sure how to handle it.
Lena laughs nervously, taking a sip of coffee to cover her face. “Humiliation, table for one.”
“From the moment I met you, it's been an adventure,” Kara says warmly, and Lena is saved from flailing around for an adequate response to that sentence by Kara putting down her mug and clapping her hands together decisively. “I think we should go into town."
Lena’s crisis is forgotten.
“What do you mean?”
Kara grabs her wallet and phone from the counter, slipping them into her pockets. “I think we should take a drive, get some lunch, and get to know each other.”
“Really?” She knows it shouldn’t be, but Lena’s immediate reaction is doubt. “Why?”
“Because I'm running out of reasons why we shouldn't. Aren't you?”
It should be alarming, how easily she says yes to Kara. It should worry her that she gets dressed, gets in Kara’s car, and sits down at a cute bistro across from the blonde with almost no protest. In fact, she actively enjoys the drive. Kara is funny, and intelligent, and interesting. She wants to know more, and that in itself is…sort of terrifying.
“So, you're a journalist?” Lena asks, once the waiter has taken their drink orders.
“I am! For CatCo,” Kara replies, smiling at the waiter who fills their water glasses. She thanks him when he leaves, before turning her full attention back to Lena.
“What kind of a journalist are you?”
“A very good one,” Kara jokes, and Lena chuckles, shaking her head.
“No. What I meant was, what do you specialize in? I mean, Catco Magazine isn’t exactly known for its hard-hitting journalism,” Lena notes, and Kara laughs.
“No, you’re right. But technically, I work for the Tribune. I do whichever stories they tell me to, really.” Kara drums her fingers on the table, a quick rhythm with her pointers.
“What did you study in school?” Lena pushes on, and Kara looks increasingly amused.
“English,” she replies, and she snorts when Lena’s line of questioning continues.
“And did you always know that it was what you wanted to do?”
Kara leans forward, eyebrows raised. “Okay, Lena, my palms are starting to sweat. I feel like I'm on a job interview,” she admits, and Lena exhales, trying to relax her posture a bit.
“Sorry. I'm interrogating you, aren’t I?”
“Only a little,” Kara says, winking. The ease with which she navigates Lena’s awkwardness makes the anxiety start to diminish, but it’s still there. Sitting on Lena’s chest. Making her say stupid things.
“I haven't been on a first date in a long time,” Lena confesses, fighting the urge to fiddle with the cutlery. She clenches her fists in her lap, instead.
Kara shrugs. “Well, since we've already had sex, and woken up together twice - maybe we can bend the first date rules?”
The unexpected honesty throws Lena off guard, and she lets out a nervous bark of laughter, glancing around to see if anyone else heard. Kara tilts her head, looking endeared.
“Why are you blushing?”
“I didn't realize I was,” Lena says honestly, taking a sip of water to clear her head. She puts a cool hand to her forehead, sighing. “Okay. You’re right. I'm going to try to be myself. I’m not even completely sure who that is, but I’ll try.”
“I look forward to it,” Kara says, the sun in the window behind her lighting up her hair like a halo, and Lena feels her heartbeat stutter.
“Okay,” Kara says decisively, seeming to decide to pick the conversation back up herself. “Did I always want to be a journalist.”
“The answer is no. My parents – well, my mother was a lawyer, and my father was a scientist,” Kara says, and the way she brushes over the past-tense piques Lena’s interest. She had talked quite fondly of her mother last night, talked about visiting her in a few days for Hanukkah.
“Was?” Lena asks, and Kara nods.
“They died when I was 12.”
Kara’s light dims a little when she says it, and Lena’s heart sinks. Good job, Luthor. On your first date you managed to interrogate and traumatize her.
“Oh! I’m sorry, I thought – last night, you said –“ Lena stammers, her hands now wringing in her lap. Thankfully, Kara cuts her off before she can further embarrass herself.
“Oh, yes! Eliza is my adoptive mother. And Alex – they adopted me after the accident. Eliza is a doctor.”
The affection with which Kara talks about her adoptive family makes Lena’s heart ache with a sort of yearning she hasn’t felt in a long time. The kind she used to feel as a child, when the pain of her own loss was strongest and Lillian’s power over her life was at its peak. The yearning to be a part of something, to feel any kind of familial affection.
But, she left that behind a long time ago.
“Kara, I’m so sorry –“ Lena starts, but Kara cuts her off with a wave of her hand.
“It’s fine, honestly,” Kara says, genuinely. She still seems a little sad, but in a way that Lena knows from personal experience never fully goes away. “Thank you, but it’s fine. So, Eliza is a doctor, and Alex works for the FBI…me going into English was sort of a break from the norm. It took me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted.”
“I can imagine so.”
“But, I love it. And I’m good at it!” Kara says, before folding her arms and looking pointedly at Lena. “Okay. I think my time is up. Your turn.”
“It’s only fair,” Kara says, her eyes twinkling.
“Right. Of course,” Lena agrees. Deep breaths. You can do this. “Well, like I said the other night...I own a company that specializes in environmental and medical technology.”
Kara blinks, and Lena braces for the first hurdle.
“Wait. I didn't realize that you own the company,” Kara says, not quite managing to hide her awe.
“Probably because I didn't mention it,” Lena admits, twisting her hands together. “But now that I know you were raised by such strong parents...I can say it, and maybe you won't be intimidated.”
Kara laughs quietly. “Intimidated? No. A little turned on? I mean, yeah, definitely.”
Lena relaxes. Kara is still interested, not running for the hills yet, and the first test is passed. She’s almost at ease with the conversation when Kara asks a question that Lena has come to dread when it comes to dating.
“Is it a company I’d know?”
And there it is. The big question, and the one that has felled many dates before – it’s usually the start of a gradual but noticeable decline in interest, followed by a good old-fashioned ghosting.
“Possibly,” Lena edges, and Kara nods with interest. “It’s…L-Corp.”
Kara’s face goes on a journey. Lena tries to follow it, but she’s a bit preoccupied with her own pounding heart.
“You own L-Corp?” Kara asks, her voice tinged with awe, and Lena shifts uncomfortably.
“My family owns it, technically. But since most of them are now dead or in jail, it’s…mine,” she finishes awkwardly, and Kara nods, her eyes still a little wide.
“Wow. I mean…wow. That must be really, really hard.”
“I know it can be off-putting, so – wait, what?” Lena blanches, her brain finally catching up to what Kara actually said.
“To handle that all on your own,” Kara says, her concern evident. “You said your family is gone, right? I can’t imagine how hard it must be to run an entire company you didn’t ask for when you’re not even 30. I mean, you’re a scientist – owning a company must be totally different from what you wanted to do.”
Lena is, frankly, floored. She’s never once had someone express sympathy over her job – inferiority, jealousy, outright derision, yes. Never sympathy. But Kara’s eyes are soft, and her hand is warm when she lays it on top of Lena’s on the table.
The moment stretches between them, Kara waiting patiently and Lena opening and closing her mouth soundlessly, but finally something in her chest seems to click, and she voices a thought that she isn’t usually capable of admitting.
“Yeah, it’s…it’s a lot,” Lena confesses quietly, and Kara smiles in understanding.
“What about your family?”
“What about them?” Lena scoffs.
Kara chuckles. “Well, it sounds complicated. I’m here to learn about you.”
Right. Fair is fair.
“Okay,” Lena breathes. “I'll say it fast. My mother died when I was 4 years old. The Luthors – well, it is complicated, you’re right. But, they adopted me, and Lillian’s rules were…strict. I wasn’t allowed to keep any of my things. I was expected to leave everything. Become a Luthor.”
“Oh, Lena,” Kara murmurs, and her voice is so soft, so full of empathy and understanding, that Lena’s throat feels thick. She swallows, pushing down the completely unwelcome wave of emotion. The need to distract is strong, to deflect, and the only thing she can think to do is to keep talking.
“Lex always tried to make me feel included, but then my father died when I was 11, and Lex got sent to boarding school. Every time he came back, he was more distant. I think I cried myself to sleep for…” Lena swallows, the memory of those lonely nights rising up – of lying in bed in the Luthor manor, nobody else in that huge drafty house besides Lillian and the staff. Knowing that, without Lex around, she was completely alone in the world. Now that she’s opened the floodgates, she can’t seem to stop herself from spilling everything.
“Well. A long time,” Lena says finally. “And then I realized that…it did nothing. I had to adapt. Toughen up. And, well, I got through it and I haven't really cried since. I also haven't told anyone this, ever.”
Lena expects stunned silence, after the veritable flood of trauma that she accidentally unleashed. But Kara just tightens her hold on Lena’s hand, the crinkle between her brows deep with concern.
“Wow. Lena, that’s –“
“And then last year Lex got arrested, and my mother went on the run, and I had to come in and clean up all the dirty little experiments he was doing and try to bring the company into the light again.” Lena can hear the tremor in her own voice, and it’s mortifying.
God, stop talking, stop talking -
“And that's my tragic little story. Let's order,” Lena finishes tersely, grabbing the menu and burying her nose in it. “Goat cheese salad, that looks –“
But Kara isn’t content to leave it there.
“Wait. You haven't cried since you were 11?” Kara asks, pulling at the menu until Lena sets it down again.
Lena sighs. “I know it must mean something awful. But it just doesn’t happen. No matter how upset I am. I didn’t even cry when I broke up with my ex.”
“Well, your ex sounded like a dick, so I don’t blame you,” Kara quips.
Lena laughs, nodding. “Yeah, you’re right about that. Can we just talk about you some more, please?”
Kara, bless her, takes the hint in stride.
“Okay,” Kara says easily. “Absolutely. Well, I cry all the time.”
Lena snorts into her water glass. “You do not.”
“I do!” Kara swears, her hands raised. “More than anyone you've ever met.”
“You don't have to be this nice,” Lena insists, but Kara continues, laughing warmly.
“It happens to be the truth. A good book, a Disney movie, a birthday card, I weep.”
“It’s true! Just ask Alex! You should have seen me when we watched Up.”
Lena is spared from the banter by the waiter returning for their food orders. Kara requests more food than Lena has ever seen a single person eat, and she’s even more shocked when Kara manages to actually consume all of it while Lena picks at her own salad and bread. It should be revolting, watching Kara practically inhale enough food for three people, but something about it is actually captivating.
Side-stepping that strange thought, Lena turns the conversation to Kara’s family, and the upcoming Hanukkah celebrations.
“So, Alex is your adopted sister. I noticed the menorah – are you Jewish as well? I only ask because you were 12 by the time you were adopted, you don’t have to tell me if it’s too personal –“ Lena realizes halfway through her question that it’s an extremely personal thing to ask, and she’s relieved when Kara just waves off her increasingly panicked rant.
“It’s fine! Lena. It’s fine,” Kara smiles, putting a hand over Lena’s again. “I converted after I was adopted. I mean, my parents weren’t really religious of any sort, so it was a big change, but the Danvers…they made it feel like home, you know? They never forced me to go to temple, and they gave me a bat mitzvah a year after they adopted me. I mean, got everyone together, paid for everything – they aren’t cheap, and Alex had only had hers a few years before. It made me feel like…like we really were family. Everything just sort of fit.”
“I’ve never felt like that about anything,” Lena admits, and Kara squeezes her hand sympathetically. A tiny voice in the back of her head is nudging her, reminding her that there is one thing that immediately felt like it fit and it’s sitting across the table from her right now, but in true form Lena seizes it by the hair and shoves it into a box.
Lena is hung over, and she hasn’t showered, and she spilled her life secrets to an almost-stranger, but somehow, it’s easily the best date she’s ever been on. There were no lulls in conversation, Kara lets her pay the cheque with only minimal protest, and she puts a strong hand on Lena’s lower back as they leave the restaurant that makes Lena’s knees a little bit weak.
They’re even weaker when Kara has her pinned to the side of her SUV, making out in broad daylight and completely uncaring of their potential audience.
She should be more careful, she knows. But there’s something thrilling about the public display – about letting Kara’s hand slide down to her thigh and knowing that nobody in the vicinity cares about who she is, that the strange looks they’re getting are entirely because they’re two anonymous women sucking face in a small-town parking lot and nothing else.
They do manage to disengage their lips and get into the car, but only after a passing car full of rowdy guys honks at them as they zoom past, and Kara just giggles into Lena’s neck in a way that feels like freedom.
Or, would feel like freedom, if the specter of Lena’s return home wasn’t hanging over them.
“This was such a great afternoon,” Lena says genuinely, as Kara pulls into Alex’s driveway.
“It was. I’m glad you said yes,” Kara replies, and Lena smiles.
“I’m glad you persuaded me.”
Kara reaches for the door handle, but Lena stops her with a quick hand on her shoulder.
“You know, you don't have to walk me in,” Lena says in a rush. “You probably have places to be, and I really just need to shower –“
It’s not that Lena doesn’t want to spend more time with Kara. In fact, all she wants to do for the next 2 weeks is be in Kara’s presence, to feel even a shadow of the freedom Kara has given her already. But it’s not quiet enough to drown out the fear.
Kara smiles sadly, and her hand leaves the handle to rest on the steering wheel. “You can just say you don't want me to come in.”
“No, it's not that,” Lena interrupts hurriedly, needing Kara to know. “I just…I'm leaving in ten days, Kara. And that makes this complicated. I'm not sure I can handle complicated right now.” It’s the truth, even if it’s a coward’s truth. Her life at home is complex enough as it is, and introducing a new element – especially one as contentious as ‘long-distance female fuck buddy’ – could absolutely topple her already tenuous control.
Of course, as she does with everything, Kara takes it in stride.
“Okay,” Kara says evenly, accepting Lena’s decision with little argument. The only protest is in her eyes. They’re full of resignation, a sad sort of understanding, and Lena wishes she could take it away, make it better somehow –
And then they’re kissing again.
The armrest is digging into Lena’s side, but she doesn’t care. Kara’s lips are soft and her hand is tangled in Lena’s hair, and Lena should be better than this. She should be able to pull away, catch her breath, detach herself from Kara’s mouth and go home. But, even as their lips slowly part and her eyes flutter open, all she wants is to push forward and do it all again. Kara is addicting, and Lena is weak to her pull.
Kara lets out a long breath, her thumb rubbing gently over Lena’s jawline. “And that doesn't make things complicated?” she jokes, but her voice is a little bit shaky. Somehow, knowing that Kara is just as affected by this whole situation as she is makes it a bit easier to breathe.
“Sex makes everything complicated,” Lena murmurs, her eyes drifting closed as Kara trails kisses from her forehead down the slope of her nose. “Especially when it’s actually good.”
Kara laughs, the burst of warm breath making Lena’s eyelashes flutter.
“You’re really something else, Lena. I…I hope I can see you again. Someday.”
Lena nods, and finally, painfully, she manages to wrench herself out of Kara’s orbit. She kisses Kara’s palm, still resting on her cheek, and reaches for the door handle.
Kara waits in the driveway until Lena has crossed the threshold of the house, and Lena waits until her car turns the corner and disappears before she finally closes the door, leaning back against it and closing her eyes.
“Goodbye,” Lena whispers, and in that moment, it truly feels final.
It feels less final 3 hours later, when she’s soaking in Alex’s clawfoot tub and thinking about how Kara makes her feel, and her hand is creeping inexorably towards her pelvis. She’s never been one to do this, never had much that made her feel need like this before, but Kara is different.
She’s so wonderfully, exhilaratingly different.
Her fingers reach a slickness that’s thicker than water, and she gasps at her own sensitivity. Her fingers slide over her clit, back and forth and in circles just like Kara did with her tongue, but it’s not enough. Not hard enough, not soft enough, just not Kara enough.
Her hand feels good, but it pales in comparison. Kara played her body like an instrument. Her own fingers feel clumsy, the angle is wrong, and as powerful as her memories are, they aren’t the real thing. She needs more. She needs…
She needs Kara.
Huffing in frustration, she hits the surface of the water, splashing it onto the floor. Her half-hearted attempts at self-pleasure have done nothing more than wind her up even more, and the goodbye she accepted earlier seems less and less important.
Kara’s address is on Alex’s fridge. She could go there, now, and within half an hour it could be Kara’s fingers inside her.
They still have 10 days.
Kara opens the door in sweatpants and a sports bra, to a Lena who’s almost excruciatingly aroused. Salt ‘n Peppa is playing loudly in the background, and she’s holding a feather duster and a broom – she’s clearly been cleaning her house, and she’s sweaty and beautiful and somehow more real than she’s ever been before.
“Lena!” Kara says, her voice high and loud. The surprise is evident, and she sets the broom and duster down on an end table.
“Hi,” Lena says breathlessly, following Kara’s every sweaty, painfully attractive movement.
“I thought –“
Lena cuts her off with a kiss, and Kara responds immediately and with great enthusiasm.
It’s a rush more potent than nicotine, having Kara pinning her to the couch again. It’s a different couch, in a different apartment, but Kara’s warm body is already familiar in the way it weighs her down exactly the right amount. She smells like shampoo and lemony cleaning products and tastes like fresh sweat, and it’s absolutely, completely working for her.
“Should we – bedroom?” Kara gasps as Lena bites her earlobe, and Lena wraps her legs around her waist.
“Too far,” Lena mumbles, grinding her hips up. “Don’t stop.“
Kara, to her credit, does not stop. She just lifts Lena bodily from the couch, stumbling down the hallway until they finally fall back onto the bed, breathing hard.
Kara’s bed is soft, but her skin is softer – and her body is hard. Her thigh is an unstoppable force as it grinds into Lena’s centre, and oh my god, she’s going to come. She’s going to come before Kara has even undressed, with her own shirt still half-on, she’s going to come all over Kara’s sweatpants and nothing can stop it, nothing can –
And then Kara pulls away, and Lena’s anguished groan is probably loud enough to wake the neighbors.
“Hold on, I just want to – I want to try something,” Kara pants, and she fumbles under the bed for a box. Lifting the lid, she pulls out a harness, and Lena’s entire lower body melts into the mattress at the sudden knowledge of what Kara wants.
“Do you want – I mean, can I –“
Lena’s eager nodding is thankfully enough to spur her into action, and Lena hurriedly strips before waiting with waning patience while Kara struggles out of her own clothes and tightens the buckles. Lena’s legs are spread as wide as they can physically be when Kara finally climbs on top of her again, and she wraps them immediately around Kara’s waist, pulling until she can feel the toy dragging agonizingly over her clit.
She was never even into sex like this, before Kara. Penetration was never the way to get her off – usually, if she was lucky, she could get a small orgasm out of shutting her eyes tightly and grinding on something. But Kara seems bound and determined to overturn every single one of Lena’s expectations. Lena feels the silicone pressing wetly against her and thinks of the stretch, the fullness, the closeness, and damn her weak body, she wants it.
“Kara, please,“ Lena whispers, trying to line the toy up where she needs it, but Kara’s hips dance just out of reach.
“Please what?” Kara’s voice is low and sweet, teasing, but there’s something animalistic inside Lena and it is not willing to wait. She digs her nails into Kara’s ass, pulling until she’s exactly where Lena needs her and then arching up.
“Please, god, I need you inside me -“ Lena gasps as the tip of the toy teases at her entrance, and Kara’s hips stutter. “Please, please –“
There must be something about her desperation, about the frantic way she begs for it, because Kara bends immediately with a low groan. Within seconds it’s hard and frenzied, Kara panting into her neck and Lena rocketing to the edge at record speed because despite having no idea that this was how she liked it, the unrelenting pace is exactly what she needs.
As her toes curl in the air over Kara’s back and her first orgasm of many blots out most other thoughts, Lena knows. Without question.
They may only have 10 days, but god help her, she’s going to be spending every last second of them right here.
The trill of Alex’s phone is startling in the echo of Lena’s huge bathroom, but Alex’s irritation at the interruption to her hot tub time eases when she sees the caller ID. She picks up immediately, careful not to get her phone wet.
“So are you ever coming home?” Kara’s voice is a welcome sound, and Alex sighs in relief.
“Kara! God. Hi! It’s about time you called me back,” Alex says with only a little bit of reproach. Kara at least has the decency to sound guilty.
“I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been...kind of busy. How's it going? Are you liking the big city?”
“It’s great, actually. The city is awesome, and Lena’s place is really something else,” Alex says, letting her feet float to the surface of the hot water. “By the way, you should go meet her.”
“Yeah. I have, actually.”
“You have?” Alex says, surprised, but the thought is interrupted by a beep in her ear. “Oh, shit - call waiting. Can you hold for a sec? I really wanna talk to you.”
“Sure,” Kara says easily, and Alex switches to the other line, an unidentified number. Her greeting is much more cautious this time.
A much less familiar voice answers, but Alex relaxes when she hears it.
“Alex, hi. It’s Lena.”
“Lena!” Alex says, remembering that they had planned to call each other this afternoon to check up. “I'm glad you called. How are you? How's it going?”
“Everything's great. How are you?” Lena asks, and she does actually sound pretty content. How she can be, when she’s missing out on living here, Alex has no idea, but there’s a smoothness to her voice that wasn’t there the first time they spoke just before the trip. Alex can hear the hum of a lawnmower and the familiar sound of her poolside radio, and Alex is glad that Lena is at least making use of the one luxury she has at her tiny house.
“Your place is amazing,” Alex says honestly. “I'm loving it. But actually, can you hold for a minute? My sister is just on the other line.”
“Kara?” Lena asks, and her voice perks up considerably.
“Yes,” Alex says slowly. “She said you guys had met.”
“Yes, we did meet. How…how is she?” Lena asks, and the creeping suspicion in Alex’s gut ratchets up a few notches. Lena sounds far too interested to be friendly.
Oh, Kara, you didn’t.
“Fine, I think,” Alex answers, intentionally vague. “Can you just hold on for a sec?”
“Of course,” Lena says graciously. Alex clicks the button, and switches back over to Kara’s line.
“Hi, sorry. That was Lena,” Alex says, testing the waters. Kara’s reaction solidifies her suspicions.
“Lena? How'd she sound? How is she doing?” Kara asks excitedly, and Alex frowns.
“She just asked me how you are.”
“And what did you say?” Kara says, sounding distressed.
You have got to be kidding me.
“I asked her to hold,” Alex says drily, already planning on calling her neighbor to ask exactly how many times Kara and Lena have ‘met’ in the last week.
“I can hold while you talk to her!” Kara insists, and Alex drums her fingers on the tile. “Find out how she is, okay?”
Now almost fully convinced that Kara has somehow managed to seduce the billionaire that’s using her pool, Alex switches the line, hearing the lapping of water and Lena softly humming to the music.
“Hi, Lena? My sister wants to know how you are.”
“Oh!” Lena says, sounding pleased. “Can you tell her I'm good? And - what's she been up to? Did she say?”
Alex rolls her eyes, fully cemented in her new knowledge. “I'm not sure. Do you want me to ask her?” she says sarcastically, but clearly Lena does not pick up on her tone.
“Sure!” Lena answers, and Alex sighs.
Walked right into that one.
“Okay. Hold, please,” Alex says pleasantly, and immediately switches to the other line to finally let loose the thought that’s been rattling around in her head for the last few minutes.
“I can't believe that you have had sex with the woman staying in my house!”
To her absolute, abject horror, the voice that answers is definitely not Kara.
“Oh my god, she told you that?” Lena sounds almost as horrified as Alex is, and Alex is about ready to throw herself from the nearest 39th floor window, bathing suit and all.
“Oh, my God – I’m so sorry, I thought I was talking to Kara!” Alex apologizes, wishing she could just curl up and die right here. She’s lived a good life. Maybe it’s time. “God, I’m so – can you just hold on a second?”
She barely waits for Lena’s affirmative before hitting the switch button more decisively, and she rounds on Kara with a vengeance.
“Kara, I can't believe you had sex with Lena. She just went through a breakup, and the one thing she asked me was, "Are there any men in your town?", assumedly because she didn't want to be bothered, so I assured her that there were not. And then you meet her and immediately get into her pants?!”
Absolute mortification rolls through Alex at the sound of Lena’s voice, clearly deeply embarrassed. She groans, her head falling backwards onto the marble with a thunk.
“Shit - I must have lost her,” Alex mutters, her voice horribly magnified by the echo. “Lena, I am so sorry. Can I just…call you back?” She absolutely needs to be finished with this terrible conversation as soon as possible, and thankfully, Lena seems to feel the same way.
The call waiting beeps again just as Lena is agreeing, and Alex hits the cursed button in lieu of hanging up the call.
“Yes, hello,” she snaps, expecting a moonstruck Kara calling back and asking what colour Lena’s shoes are today, but the voice that answers is a blessed relief.
“Hey, it's Sam. Am I in trouble?”
“Oh, thank god,” Alex groans, and Sam chuckles.
“Now that’s more like it,” Sam says cheekily, and even after the horror of the last call, it makes Alex smile. “I was just wondering, what are you up to this Christmas Eve?”
“Uh, nothing, generally,” Alex answers honestly. “Usually I’d be celebrating the 5th night of Hanukkah with my family, but…”
“Oh!” Sam says, sounding surprised. “I didn’t realize – well, do you want company?”
Alex thinks about it – about lighting the candles with Ruby and Sam, instead of alone and missing her family – and a feeling of calm washes over her. It actually sounds nice.
“Actually, yeah. That would be great,” Alex says with growing enthusiasm.
“Do I need to grab anything? I don’t know much about Hanukkah,” Sam admits, and Alex smiles at the consideration.
“No, don’t worry. I’ve been doing everything myself for the last few nights, so I have everything I need.” She’d had to go shopping, since Lena apparently doesn’t keep actual food in her apartment, but she’s confident that she won’t need anything extra.
An hour later Ruby is helping her make latkes while Sam sips at the wine, and it’s pretty much exactly what she always hoped her future with Maggie would be. The thought of her ex brings the usual pang to her chest, but Sam’s warm eyes over the rim of her wine glass chase the feeling away quickly.
“So, what’s Hanukkah about?” Ruby asks, as Alex flips the last potato cake and turns off the stove.
“Well, historically, it’s pretty much the same as most other Jewish holidays – ‘someone tried to kill us, let’s eat!’” Alex jokes, and Ruby and Sam both laugh.
“No, seriously!” Ruby says, and Alex hands her a plate with some latkes and applesauce on it.
“I am serious!” Alex insists, grinning. “It has a lot of history, but we can do a lesson another day. For now, I want to stuff my face full of fried food.”
Ruby and Sam agree, and until sunset they do just that. It’s so easy, hanging out with them, and for a few hours Alex is able to forget the fact that she’s going to have to leave all of this behind in a week and a half. Eventually darkness starts to fall, and Alex shows Ruby how to light the candles while she does the blessing. Usually the lighting is Kara’s job as the youngest, but Ruby seems enthused to take it on, grinning when Alex gives her a high five.
All 6 burn against the darkness of the sky, and Kara texts her a menorah emoji, and Alex feels a little less alone in the world. Again, just like when she first met Ruby at Sam’s house, she gets that strange feeling of home.
The feeling persists even when Sam gets a little overly tipsy on the Manischewitz (“It’s so sweet, Alex, it tastes like juice!”) and Ruby passes out on the couch. Alex guides them both to Lena’s huge bed, tucking them in with growing affection, and she’s about to find one of the guest rooms and fall into bed herself when Sam stops her with a hand on her arm.
“Get in here,” Sam murmurs, patting the bed beside her, and Alex gets in with only a moment’s hesitation. Sam nuzzles into her shoulder, and Ruby snores softly on the other side of the bed.
Before she drifts into a peaceful sleep, Alex makes a mental note to call the bureau in the morning about starting the transfer process.
Lena wakes up on day 10 of her vacation the same way she has since she and Kara threw the rulebook out the window a week ago – to Kara kissing her on the forehead before she heads to work. It’s become a habit, sleeping until Kara leaves and then doing nothing for most of the day, and Lena knows she’s going to have to start adjusting back to her old routine.
But for now, Kara is right there.
Today, Lena reaches out just as Kara is straightening up and hooks a hand around the back of her neck, pulling her back down for a proper kiss. Kara laughs into it, tasting like toothpaste and coffee, and she doesn’t seem to mind Lena’s morning breath as she climbs back into bed at Lena’s urging to spend a few minutes kissing lazily, propped up on an elbow.
“Good morning to you too,” Kara says when Lena finally lets them part, her head falling back on the pillow.
“Do you have to go?” Lena is completely aware of how pathetically whiny she sounds, but she can’t seem to rein herself in. Kara just grins, kissing the tip of her nose.
“I do. I’m off on New Years, though.”
Lena sighs, the anxiety she’s been trying to avoid manifesting in her chest at the reminder that, by then, she’ll be gone.
She and Kara have been spending every second possible together all week, getting to know each other - going for walks, making out in the park, swimming, making out in the pool, defiling every inch of poor Alex’s house with mind-blowing, brain-melting sex –
It’s official. Lena is very gay for one Kara Danvers. But she has to go home in 4 days, and she’s starting to panic.
She finally lets Kara go after a few more kisses, and it’s barely 11 before she’s already texting her. What are you up to tonight?
Kara Danvers [10:35 AM]
It’s the last day of Hanukkah, I usually go upstate to Eliza’s. Raincheck?
Of course, Lena writes back immediately, swallowing her disappointment.
This is for the best, Lena reasons as she stares out the bay window at the rain hitting the surface of the pool. Maybe she just…shouldn’t see Kara anymore. Just go cold turkey, and by the time she goes back to Metropolis, it won’t seem so bad. The idea of ghosting on Kara is almost unbearable, but it might be easier to tell Kara their arrangement has to end if she’s had a few days of space. This can be a good start.
It’s a good thing. It’s over now, she’s going home soon, and this is a good thing.
Except that Kara turns up at her door at 2 in the morning, soaking wet already from only a few minutes outside, and that reliable magnetic pull has Lena in her arms in seconds.
“I thought – I thought you were – upstate –“ Lena gasps between kisses, already shucking Kara’s wet jacket off her shoulders and dropping it onto the carpet. Kara walks them forward until Lena’s back hits the wall, and Lena moans as the decisiveness makes her melt like a popsicle.
“I drove back. Wanted to see you,” Kara mumbles, already scooping Lena up and heading to the bedroom, not breaking their connection for a second.
Kara has mentioned that Eliza’s place is 3 hours away, Lena remembers. Kara drove 3 hours, in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, to see her.
Lena thanks her the only way she knows how. And after the 3rd vehement ‘thank you’, Lena kisses her way back up Kara’s trembling body, wiping her mouth and flopping back onto the pillows next to her.
“So…you're totally great,” Lena says, her own voice a little shaky. Kara nods, her legs stretching towards the end of the bed.
“This is a bitch.”
Kara laughs quietly. She turns on her side, propping head up with an elbow and laying a warm hand on Lena’s stomach. “Well, you must come to National City all the time for work, right?”
Lena swallows. Technically she doesn’t come to National City for work very often right now, but she will be, soon. But starting a new branch of a large company takes time, and she has no idea when she might actually end up moving here. It could be years.
“Long-distance relationships can work,” Kara tries to argue, looking painfully earnest.
“I can't even make a relationship work when I live in the same house with someone,” Lena reasons, and Kara grins.
“So this could be a good solution for you!”
Lena laughs. How Kara can still make her smile so easily, even now, when this whole thing seems to be falling apart, she has no idea.
“Okay,” Lena says finally, engaging her logical brain, even though it hurts. “Let's say we just make this happen. We commit to flying back and forth as much as we can.”
“Yes! It's doable, definitely.” Kara’s excitement at the prospect makes this even harder, but she pushes on.
“And then let's say in six months we hit a wall. I can't constantly be away from work, and neither can you. And we start to feel the tension. We know this isn't going to work, so we start fighting. And then, after a long, tearful – at your end - call, we just…we say goodbye.”
Kara’s face has been steadily falling through Lena’s whole speech, and it takes a gargantuan effort for Lena to finish it.
“Or,” Lena says, taking a deep breath. Kara perks up immediately.
“Thank you,” Kara says with relief, and she moves forward for a kiss. But Lena ducks it.
“Or maybe…we should just realize that what we've had these past few weeks has been perfect,” Lena says, the words weighing heavy on her chest. “Maybe we're trying to figure this thing out because this…what we’ve been doing, it makes us feel good. Because the fact that I’m leaving in 3 days makes this more exciting than it would be, normally.”
Kara frowns. “That's considerably more depressing.”
“I know,” Lena sighs, sadly. Kara scoots closer, biting at her lip nervously and tracing quick patterns over Lena’s skin.
“I have another scenario for you,” Kara says, and Lena smiles, lacing their fingers together idly. The casual affection she feels with Kara is unparalleled – she’s never been this comfortable with anyone.
“I'm in love with you.”
Lena’s entire brain stutters at those 5 words. Like the whole thing shuts down except for one tiny section, the one that holds the memory of Kara’s voice – I’m in love with you. I’m in love with you.
Nobody has ever said that to her before.
She’s heard love you, of course. It was James’ go-to, usually said with an air of distraction. She’s even heard I love you, Lillian saying it every time she needs something.
But those words from Kara’s lips – I am in love with you – make her heart race.
She knows what her immediate response is. She knows it. Her heart tries to leap out of her chest at Kara’s words, aches to be heard too – but Lena smothers it with a mountain of rationale. She’s bad at this, she can’t possibly be in love, not after 2 weeks, not with a woman, it can never work, it can never work – James’ voice slithers into her head, saying you always do this, you screw up every relationship, this always happens -
“Kara…” she says softly, and Kara’s light visibly dims.
“As weird as this sounds, as much as I’ve tried to fight it, it’s true. I‘m in love with you,” Kara insists. The words haven’t lost their impact, and Lena’s heart skips again. “I'm not feeling this because you're leaving. And not because it feels good to feel this way. Which, by the way, it does. I can't figure out the mathematics of this. I just know I love you.” Kara finishes the speech with a deep sigh, not quite meeting Lena’s eyes.
Lena doesn’t mind the lack of eye contact, because she’s having trouble looking at Kara herself.
“I wasn't expecting "I love you," Lena whispers, her thumb digging into the soft skin of her palm. The discomfort is centering. When Kara’s eyes finally meet hers, Lena can see the resignation there.
“Can you not look at me like that?” Lena pleads quietly, grabbing Kara’s hand again before she can pull it away. “I'm trying to find the right thing to say.”
“I think if the obvious response doesn't immediately come to you, we can...just... forget it,” Kara says, burying her face in the pillow. “We should just talk about something else. Like, possibly, what a complete idiot I am.”
“Kara, I’m sorry.”
“I do remember you promising me you wouldn't fall in love with me. I really need to pay better attention,” Kara mutters, muffled by the pillow.
Lena wants to tell her. She aches with it – she wants to be brave, to tell Kara that she feels the same way and that she can try to move to National City as soon as she can. But all she can bring herself to do is rub circles on Kara’s back.
“It’s okay. It’s okay. Let’s just…forget I said anything, okay?” Kara finally raises her head again, and Lena hates seeing how watery they are. “We can enjoy these last couple of days together, and then…”
“Just…come here.” Kara leans in with a sort of desperation, holds her just a little too tightly, kisses just a little too deep. But Lena craves it. Needing the distraction just as much as Kara does, needing to silence her own thoughts, Lena gives in to her instincts and for a few hours, she forgets.
“Oh my god, you said that to Lena?” Sam laughs over her teacup, and Alex nods, grabbing another piece of sushi.
“I sort of yelled it, actually. I thought she was Kara! Stupid call waiting.” Alex pops the roll into her mouth, and Sam giggles.
“God, I wish I had heard that. She must have clenched hard enough to make a diamond.”
Alex snorts, rice and seaweed threatening to lodge in her nose.
This is hardly even a date – it’s really just a lunch before they go to Ruby’s recital. But with Sam, everything seems to feel like a date, whether it’s coffee or dinner or hours of frankly incredible sex while Ruby is at dance practice.
Just as Sam’s foot traces up her calf, Alex’s phone goes off, vibrating obnoxiously on the surface of the table. The contact name makes Alex freeze.
She knows that Sam sees it too. Her foot freezes, and she bites her lip, seeming a bit nervous. Alex hurriedly rejects the call, and within seconds she sees a voicemail icon appear.
She turns her phone over.
Sam shakes her head. “Alex, you could have taken that. It’s okay.” Sam knows about Maggie – at least, the basics – and she’s been incredibly understanding, but the last thing Alex wants to do is answer that call.
“I didn’t want to,” Alex replies, and she’s relieved to find that it’s actually the truth. Right now, when she’s with Sam and she has the excitement of Ruby insisting she come to her performance, she doesn’t feel the pull that Maggie has always caused.
When Maggie calls yet again an hour later, when she’s perfectly content with Sam in her lap on Lena’s couch, she’s actually irritated.
“Just take the call –“ Sam says, pulling back, but Alex pulls her close again, biting at her lower lip until their lips meet again.
“What call?” she mutters against Sam’s lips, and Sam smiles into the kiss.
Eventually they disentangle themselves, realizing that they’re about 15 minutes late to getting Ruby and heading to the theatre, and Sam is still trying to fix her hair and pulling Alex through the building lobby at a breakneck pace when she hears her name in a painfully familiar voice.
Alex stops in her tracks, pulling Sam’s arm taut. There at the front desk, beside an irate-looking Leonard, is the last person she expected to see here.
“Maggie,” Alex whispers, her throat feeling thick. “What – why –“
Sam’s eyes are wide, looking back and forth between them as Maggie approaches. She slowly lets go of Alex’s hand, and Alex misses the warmth immediately.
“Wow. Okay. I should, um. I should go,” Sam says, and Alex immediately protests.
“No, Sam, you don’t have to –“ But Sam slips away.
“Try to make it, okay? Ruby was really looking forward to it.” And then she’s gone, and Alex is left alone.
Well, not entirely alone.
Maggie steps forward, with her hands in her pockets and that dimpled grin that used to make Alex’s heart race. Now, all she feels is a hollow echo.
“I’ve been trying to reach you all day. This place has some security, huh?”
Alex gapes at her, still trying to process the events of the last 5 minutes. It’s all a bit of a blur, and she pulls Maggie to a more secluded corner of the lobby.
“What are you doing here? How did you even know where I am?” Alex finally asks, and Maggie shrugs.
“I got the address from your mom. It's Hanukkah, and…I missed you.”
A tiny piece of Alex’s heart – the part that belongs to Maggie, and always will – leaps at that simple statement. But the rest of her, the parts that remember the pain and Maggie’s voice saying square peg, round hole and the huge, overwhelming part of her that knows Maggie has a girlfriend now – those parts stand strong.
Those parts think of Sam.
“Maggie, we can’t do this,” Alex says heavily. “I can’t do this. You’re dating someone else.”
Maggie’s easy demeanor fades, then. She frowns. “She’s not you.”
Alex laughs humourlessly. “I’m not me anymore, either. We ended an engagement, Maggie. I can’t just – forget everything you said, all those things that make us not work.”
“I just thought –“
“That a grand romantic gesture would change my mind? You know me better than that, Mags,” Alex says, and the finality of it isn’t lost on Maggie. She looks dejected, but in a way that Alex knows she’ll move past. There’s sadness there, but also respect. Affection, tinged with acceptance.
“Can’t blame a girl for trying.“
Alex laughs shortly. “Yeah. I appreciate you coming out here. But…I have somewhere to be.”
“Hot date, huh?” Maggie nods towards the door. “She was really pretty.”
“Something like that,” Alex answers vaguely, and Maggie nods with acceptance.
“I get it. Listen Alex, you’re…you’re always going to be –“ Maggie searches for the word, for something to describe the strange feeling between them, and Alex nods. It hurts, but in a good way. Like pressing on a bruise. Like healing.
“So are you, Maggie.” Alex kisses her on the cheek, and steps towards the doorman. Towards Sam and Ruby, waiting for her across the city. She still has time to make it, if she hurries.
When she steps back and through the doors, they close on Maggie and she feels genuine closure.
A new start.
It’s a mad rush across the city, but she slides into the theatre atrium exactly 4 minutes before Ruby is due to be on stage, and practically throws her ticket at the attendant.
“I have – a seat, can you open – I need to go –“ she gasps, and luckily the ushers are feeling generous – they point her in the direction of her seat, and she silently thanks whatever deity is listening, because there are only two people between it and the aisle. She slides into it with only a tiny bit of fanfare, tapping on Sam’s arm.
“Hey! Did I make it? Ruby hasn’t gone up, has she?”
Sam blinks at her, clapping along with the audience as the latest group leaves the stage.
“No, she’s next,” Sam answers, leaning in close. “Are you okay? I thought, with Maggie –“
“The Maggie thing is done. Completely,” Alex answers, and she whistles as Ruby emerges from the wings with three other girls. She takes her place on the stage, her eyes searching the crowd, and grins from ear to ear when Sam and Alex wave from the audience. The music lines up - Alex’s eyes don’t leave Ruby, and Sam’s eyes don’t leave Alex.
“She’s a rock star. Look at her!” Alex whispers, and Sam nods, leaning over and putting a hand on her knee.
“Alex?” Sam whispers. “What are you doing on New Years Eve?”
Alex finally takes her eyes off Ruby’s dance, meeting Sam’s and frowning apologetically.
“I’m going back to National City on New Years Eve,” she answers quietly. Sam nods, looking thoughtful.
“You know, I’ve never been to the west coast.”
“You…haven’t?” Alex says, unsure exactly where Sam is going with this. She can’t mean what Alex thinks she means. Right?
“If I come over there, will you go out with me on New Years Eve?” Sam asks, squeezing Alex’s knee, and the music crests as Ruby’s dance wraps up with a dramatic flourish.
The crowd applauds, and Alex gives Sam her answer with a kiss.
A car horn sounds loudly outside and Lena jumps out of Kara’s arms, hurriedly fixing her lipstick. She should have left 10 minutes ago, but then there were goodbye kisses, and the goodbye kisses turned into a heated goodbye make-out session, and now she’s scrambling to clean the red smudges from her face before she goes out in public.
“Sounds like your ride is here,” Kara says, and Lena nods, glancing out the window to see the sleek black town car waiting in the driveway.
“We're not going to make a bigger deal out of this than it already is,” Lena says, heading to the door and pulling her bag behind her. She’s not sure who she’s trying to convince, herself or Kara, but Kara nods along with her.
“No, we're not,” Kara agrees, but the words sound hollow.
“It's not like we're never going to speak, or e-mail, or...” Lena knows she’s reaching. She should just leave, and let the both of them move on from this painful moment, but she needs the empty confirmation.
“No set rules,” Kara echoes. She’s clearly trying to keep up an exterior, but her eyes betray the truth, as they have been ever since they discussed this for the first time a few days ago.
“None,” Lena agrees. “So now I'm just going kiss you for the millionth time...and say, "be seeing you."
Kara smiles at that, and immediately she captures Lena’s lips in another kiss that’s absolutely going to ruin her makeup again. Lena falls into it, letting Kara’s tongue brush hers softly for the final time, and something heavy sits in her chest, in her throat. It feels like pressure. It’s odd, but somehow it feels right.
When they finally pull apart, Lena knows it’s time for her to go.
“Be seeing you,” Lena whispers hoarsely, and Kara exhales against her lips. Her response is almost as quiet.
“Take care of yourself.”
Kara stands in the doorway of the house that Lena has come to associate with home for the last two weeks, waving until Lena’s car turns the corner, and it’s painfully obvious how hard she’s trying to hide her sadness even from afar. Lena leans her forehead on the cool glass, knowing that she’s returning to Metropolis a changed person.
Kara changed her.
“Did you have a good holiday, miss?” the driver asks, looking at her in the rearview mirror, and Lena smiles wistfully.
“Yes. Probably the best of my life.”
‘Good holiday’ seems like an inadequate description. It’s been two weeks of the most profound happiness she’s ever felt. Not just the sex – Kara makes her feel cared for, listened to, important. Kara makes her feel loved. She feels the stretching of her heart the further she gets from Kara, trying to accommodate for the distance, and as the car turns onto the freeway something unfamiliar starts to happen.
The pressure that’s been building in her chest seems to rise up her throat, gathering behind her eyes until it finally bursts forward in a wet, genuine sob. It feels good, like a release, and she takes in a ragged breath, letting it happen again. Reaching up to feel her cheeks, she realizes that her eyes are leaking. She’s…crying.
Crying, over Kara.
Who she loves.
“I’m in love with her,” Lena whispers, and the relief she feels at finally saying it out loud is almost as intense as the relief of crying for the first time in 17 years.
“Excuse me, Miss?” The driver asks with obvious concern. “Are you all right?”
The growing distance between herself and Kara seems absolutely unbearable, all of a sudden.
“Turn around!” she yells suddenly, and the driver visibly jumps in his seat. “Turn around and go back, please!”
“Did you forget something?”
“Yes!” Lena exclaims, wiping her face and staring at her wet hands in disbelief. “Yes, I did.”
She doesn’t even bother to grab her suitcase when they roll into the driveway – she’s stumbling out and running towards the house before the car has even stopped, and she’s relieved to find the door still unlocked. She bursts in without so much as a knock.
“Kara?” She calls, hoping against hope that Kara hasn’t left yet. She didn’t even think to check if Kara’s SUV is still parked on the street, as preoccupied as she was with getting inside. “Kara, are you –“
Kara appears in the doorway to the kitchen, her eyes red and looking absolutely gutted. Tears are still sliding down her cheeks and she laughs wetly, gesturing at her own face as if to say, ‘see? I told you’.
Without hesitation, Lena throws herself into Kara’s arms. And Kara catches her, just as Lena knew she would.
“What are you doing here?” Kara sniffles into her hair, her hold tightening. “I thought –“
“You know, I was just thinking,” Lena says, pulling back just enough to look into Kara’s sad eyes. “Why would I ever leave before New Year's Eve? That makes no sense at all. I mean, you didn't exactly ask me out, but you did say you loved me. So, I'm thinking I've got a date. If you'll have me.”
Kara looks like she’s barely following Lena’s line of logic. Her brow furrows, and she shakes her head slightly.
“What about work? What about all the things you said –“
“I can work remotely for a while,” Lena insists, smoothing her hands over Kara’s arms, and Kara looks skeptical. “I can. And we’re working on moving headquarters to National City in the next year anyways – I can hurry it.”
At that tidbit of information, Kara’s eyes widen.
“You’re what? You didn’t tell me that.“
Lena nods, her head slightly bowed. “I know. I was scared. I was scared of taking a leap and not having it work out. But then I was on my way to the airport, and I realized – well, I realized it before that. But I was crying, and I suddenly thought -”
Kara exhales, stepping back slightly. “Lena, you’re going to miss your flight –“
“I love you!”
The silence that follows the confession rings in Lena’s ears. Kara blinks at her, her mouth slightly open and her face a mask of shock. Seconds unfold with no response, and Lena starts to feel even worse about how she left Kara hanging a few days ago because this feels absolutely awful.
Finally Kara seems to come to life again, looking a bit confused but definitely enthusiastic.
“I’m sorry, I just – could you repeat that for me? I need to make sure this isn’t just an elaborate daydream,” Kara says, and Lena laughs, grabbing Kara’s hands and cupping them in her own.
“Do you usually have elaborate daydreams featuring confessions of love?”
As usual, the simplest statement is the one that practically puts Lena on her ass with its intensity. She gathers what’s left of her wits, and takes Kara’s face in her hands.
“I’m in love with you,” Lena parrots Kara’s words, loving the way the conscious mirroring makes her smile. “And I don’t want to run from it anymore.”
Kara’s answer is a kiss to shame all other kisses. She pours everything into it – every repressed feeling from the last 2 weeks and beyond – and by the end of it her whole body is tingling in the best way. Kara is beaming down at her, and the burn of unfamiliar tears is back but this time it’s paired with a feeling of such intense joy that it feels overwhelming. Happy tears.
“So, you’re going to need a place to stay, right?” Kara asks, and Lena laughs, patting Kara’s cheek affectionately.
“Kara, I own a company.”
2 years later
Sam’s door swings open before Lena can even reach her hand out to knock, and immediately Lena’s arms are full of excited teenager.
“Mom, they’re here!” Ruby yells, and Lena only winces a little at the volume pointed directly at her ear. When she pulls back from the hug to get a good look, she’s alarmed to find that Ruby now towers over her by at least 3 inches.
“Ruby! God, look at you, you’re taller than me!“ Lena says, and Ruby laughs, spreading her arms out.
“I’m 14 now!”
“Yes, and your mother is an Amazon, I know,” Lena snarks, pulling Ruby in for a second hug. “Oh, I missed you.”
“I missed you too, Aunt Lena,” Ruby says, quieter this time.
The moment is interrupted by Kara bustling up the steps, holding bags of food and presents.
“I come bearing gifts!” Kara shouts, and Ruby laughs, pulling her into a hug too. Alex and Sam appear in the doorway, and Lena gives them each a hug of their own.
“Kara!” Alex scolds, taking some of the bags. “You guys already sent Hanukkah and Christmas presents, what’s all this?”
“New Years presents!” Kara replies, and Alex raises a brow that almost rivals Lena’s.
“That’s not a thing.”
Kara puts down the rest of her packages, pulling Sam into an embrace while Ruby closes the door against the cold. “We’re making it a thing. This is what happens when you date a rich person.”
“It’s about time you guys got here, I was worried your plane crashed,” Sam quips, and Kara blushes suddenly, busying herself with gift distribution.
“No, we were just…running a little late,” Lena says, taking great care to keep her voice casual and not broadcast the fact that they’re almost an hour late because Kara decided the first thing they had to do upon arriving at the hotel was break in the bed, but she should have known that Alex would see right through her.
“Oh, gross,“ Alex gags, and Kara interrupts by thrusting a gift into her chest.
“This is for you. Hey, who’s hungry! It smells great, Sam -”
Alex rolls her eyes, but Sam nudges her with a hip and she drops it, settling onto the couch next to Ruby.
Sam’s house is warm and cozy, the New Years Eve ball drop special playing on TV and Ruby excitedly opening one gift after another. Lena thinks back to two years ago, when she’d been convinced she was destined for a life of working holidays and lonely nights, and everything feels that much warmer in comparison. It’s been amazing, just how easily the Danvers sisters fit into their lives, and how well Sam transitioned into the role of CEO of L-Corp East.
“So, Lena. Is L-Corp West still doing well?” Alex asks once she’s gotten over the trauma of her sister’s sex life, and Lena nods happily.
“Incredibly, well, yes. The National City technology scene was being run by two morons, and L-Corp came out on top pretty easily. Our shares are booming.”
Alex laughs, putting an arm around Ruby’s shoulders. “Two morons, huh?”
“Morgan Edge and Max Lord tried to fight it, but Lena always comes out on top,” Sam winks, and Kara shrugs.
“Well,” Kara mutters, “I mean, not always –“
Sam snorts into her wine glass.
“Kara, oh my god,“ Alex groans, and Lena blushes crimson and busies herself taking an overly large gulp of her wine. “I was just forgetting –“
“What does that mean?” Ruby asks, and Lena suddenly wishes she were on the plane again.
“Nothing, Rubes. Could you go grab some more chips for me?” Sam says deftly, still stifling her laughter, and Ruby leaves, looking suspicious at being left out of the joke.
Lena elbows Kara. “You’re lucky I love you.”
“I know,” Kara grins, and Lena accepts the kiss she offers with minimal complaint.
As the evening inches closer to midnight, Kara and Ruby start up an impassioned game of Pie Face and Lena feels a hand on her elbow. Alex stands there, looking terrified, and Lena frowns in concern.
“Hey. Are you okay?”
Alex nods, but the set of her mouth says differently. “Yeah, I’m great. Can I just talk to you for a second?”
Lena nods, and Alex pulls her into the kitchen.
“Alex, seriously, is everything alright?” Lena asks. “You’re acting really strange –“
Alex takes a breath, and from her pocket she pulls a small velvet box. It pops open, and on the silk interior sits a beautiful engagement ring. Lena stares at it for a second, floored, before looking up at Alex’s nervous face and grinning.
“You know, Alex, I’m very flattered, but I think Kara would be upset,“ she starts, and Alex rolls her eyes, huffing.
“No, god, it’s – Sam. Not -”
“I know,” Lena assures, laughing. “That’s so great, Alex. Congratulations!”
“I just wanted to ask your permission.”
Lena pauses. “My permission?”
“Well, blessing, really. Sam doesn’t really have much family, outside Ruby,” Alex hurries to explain. “She considers you her family. I already asked Ruby, and she seemed excited, and I just wanted to…I don’t know. Make sure you’re okay with this.”
Lena puts a hand on Alex’s shoulder, oddly touched by the gesture even while she feels absolutely zero authority over Sam’s life.
“Alex, I’ve never seen Sam as happy as she is when she’s with you,” Lena says honestly, and Alex swallows hard. “Or Ruby, for that matter. By my estimation, you’ve been part of the family ever since you moved out here to be with her.”
Alex looks a little shocked at that. She opens and closes her mouth, purses her lips, and then finally she pulls Lena into a quick, hard hug that ends almost as quickly as it began.
“Right. Great. Uh, thank you,” Alex says, blinking rapidly over glassy eyes, and then she turns on her heel and heads back to the living room.
It’s all a little bit surreal – a small part of her thinks she might have dreamed it, until a minute or so before the ball drops when Alex pulls Sam away, leading her upstairs and, most likely, to the balcony in the master bedroom where the city skyline is visible in the distance. Ruby clambers to the stairs to the landing to listen, looking absolutely delighted, and Lena settles into the crook of Kara’s arm on the couch.
“So, my sister’s getting engaged,” Kara says matter-of-factly, and Lena startles.
“Did she tell you that?”
Kara shrugs. “No, but she’s been looking at her watch all night and there’s a box-shaped lump in her pocket.”
Lena laughs quietly. On the TV the Times Square ball counts down from 10, signaling another year passed – 3, 2, 1 - and from upstairs comes a muffled yell, happy in its intonation, and a thump.
“Sounds like it was a yes,” Lena jokes. Kara looks down at her with the same affection she’s held for 2 years and kisses her, slow and soft.
“Happy New Year, Lena,” Kara murmurs, and Lena smiles as footsteps fall on the stairs and Ruby darts back out into the living room, pretending she wasn’t listening the whole time.
“Happy New Year.”