The Mathletes finals creep up unexpectedly fast. After Lex’s offer, it feels like the end of the year is rushing up to meet her far too quickly, and all Lena wants is more time. More time with Kara, more time to savour what might end up being her last year being a teacher. More time to make her decision.
The competition is in National City this year, so the trip is at least not an overnight one. They just need to bus the students to and from the conference centre in the city, and manage to get lunch for everyone. Lena feels almost as nervous as the team, sitting in the first row next to Kara – while their students solve equations and word problems, she squeezes Kara’s hand in a death grip, cheering them on under her breath.
The score is tied up by the last round, and Lena is pretty sure she and Kara have both lost all circulation to their hands. The question the announcer puts up on the projector is a trick one – the answer is almost a riddle, and she can see the students on both sides struggling with it. When the team from Star City hits their buzzer, she can hear Kara hold her breath.
But, they’re wrong. The opposing team says the wrong answer, and it’s all Lena can do not to yell the right one out – but she trusts the kids, trusts that she and Kara taught them enough to figure it out.
When Eve Tessmacher tentatively hits her buzzer and says the correct answer in a shaky voice, and the announcer claps his hands and says that they have a winner, Lena is up and out of her seat in a heartbeat. Kara is next to her, jumping up and down and whistling, and she herself is yelling, and the students are all stampeding off the stage to meet them in a big group hug.
They probably look absolutely ridiculous, making such a fuss about a trophy for a high school math competition, but she doesn’t care.
Eve is the hero of the day on the bus ride home. They all recount those final moments a hundred times, Kara dramatizing the story with sound effects, and finally, with a bright red face, Eve admits that she did a pretty good job.
The arrival back at the school feels almost like deja-vu. The students get into their parents cars, the bus drives away, and she and Kara are left standing together in the parking lot, a big plastic trophy between them.
“We can put this up next week. Yeah?” Kara says, holding the trophy up, and Lena’s body reacts viscerally to the reminder of what happened last time. Their heated kiss, Lena running away, driving off in separate cars and trying not to take care of the problem herself. This time, she’s free to go home with Kara. In fact, she has to, because she drove in with her this morning.
There’s something shocking in that revelation.
It’s alarming that she never considered it before, but – she and Kara carpooled. Her car is at Kara’s, parked in the driveway. She spent the night last night and they got dressed together this morning and she brushed her teeth in Kara’s bathroom and drank coffee in Kara’s kitchen, and they drove to work together. Like a couple.
It’s almost more startling that the idea makes her sort of…happy.
As if she can sense Lena’s thoughts, Kara grins and holds out a hand, nodding her head towards her car on the other side of the lot. With almost no hesitation, Lena takes it.
Lena has never experienced this many different kinds of sex with a single person. When they first came together, it was fast and frantic – a venting of steam, ripping of clothes and hard, fast rhythms that sated her shameful cravings. And it’s still like that, sometimes – there are still days when they’re so desperate for each other that Lena’s shaky hands rip the buttons of Kara’s shirts, when they can’t even take the time to get fully naked before they’re inside each other.
But slowly, something else developed. Now there are days when it’s soft, and slow, where their couplings almost line up with how Lena thought sex with Kara Danvers would be. Where Kara unravels her so carefully and with such reverence that she feels like something precious. Where she can take full, luxurious minutes to run her lips and tongue over every inch of Kara’s taut stomach, her inner thighs, every fold and ridge of her centre.
And now, a new evolution.
Their kisses start as soon as they’ve unlocked Kara’s door, but they’re soft and easy, unpressured. Full of smiles, of playful nips and breathless laughter. Kara tickles her slightly when she pulls off Lena’s shirt, and Lena pokes at her stomach in retaliation. Kara gets tangled in her own pants, and instead of just waiting for her to get over to the bed already, Lena laughs at her, and throws a pair of balled-up socks at her torso.
“Get over here, doofus,” Lena grins, and Kara wiggles and hops until she can flop on the bed, giggling. Lena detangles her, removing the pants with a look that reads ‘was that so hard?’, and Kara grins and strokes the side of her face affectionately as Lena kisses down her stomach.
It all feels easy, and light, nothing like the heaviness that Lena always associated with sex before this. It’s fun - even when, in the process of coming, Kara digs her heel into Lena’s back in a way that makes her grunt in discomfort. She smacks Kara’s thigh, grinning despite the cramp.
“Jesus, Kara! This is sex, not a shiatsu massage.”
“I’m sorry, I was really into it! I can’t help that you make me come so hard,” Kara fires back, and Lena blushes as she brushes her off.
Kara’s answer is to pull Lena back up and flip them both, easing herself down between Lena’s thighs and wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
“You love it.”
Lena has never laughed during sex. Sex is serious, an occasional indulgence to release tension. Joking while Kara’s mouth is on her clit is something she never would have considered possible. Something she never thought she’d be comfortable enough to do with anyone.
But, here they are. The feeling that sparks in her when Kara nips playfully at her inner thigh, grinning up as she licks teasingly, is something else entirely.
It’s something she’s never felt before.
She’s still recovering from her second orgasm when Kara pops her head back up, wiping at her mouth and chin.
“I’m never going to get tired of doing that,” Kara says dreamily, almost to herself, as she slips her fingers into her mouth with a satisfied noise.
I’ll never get tired of it, either.
The thought is startling, but the more she thinks about it, the truer it seems. The idea that, if she were to keep sleeping with Kara for the rest of her life, she’d be perfectly happy. She’d even be happy just spending time together, waking up together, falling asleep in her arms.
It’s not just casual, anymore. Lena might be out of touch with her feelings, but she’s not an idiot.
This brand-new knowledge sits heavy in her chest as Kara flops down next to her, pulling her close and kissing her jaw.
“You’re the best, you know that?” Kara mumbles into her hair, already dozing, and Lena wants to squirm away from the praise. But with Kara warm and heavy next to her, sleep overtakes her alarmingly quickly, overriding her anxious brain.
Her last thought before succumbing is one she’s been tossing around for a while, but seems especially apt now.
She deserves more than what I can give her.
May comes and goes in a whirlwind of days and nights spent tangled with Kara in one way or another, trying desperately to distance herself from the growing knowledge that she’s in too deep, and before Lena knows it, it’s prom season.
It’s a time that, in previous years, Lena hardly thought about at all. It’s always sad that the year is inching closer to its end and she’s going to have to say goodbye to some of her favourite senior students as they go off to college, but prom itself isn’t a factor in her life.
But, of course, it’s a factor in Kara’s.
“Are you chaperoning prom this year?” Kara asks absent-mindedly, naked and sweaty in Lena’s bed for the fourth time in a week. Lena stops abruptly in her attempt to trace her own name in looping cursive over Kara’s abs with a fingernail.
“Have I ever chaperoned prom?” Lena snorts, and she feels Kara’s chest rumble with a laugh. “It sounds like a nightmare. I didn’t even go to my own.”
“What?” Kara asks, almost dislodging Lena completely when she props herself up on her elbows. “Why not?”
“I graduated high school when I was 15. I was finished college and on to grad school before I was 20. I didn’t exactly have time,” Lena says drily, and Kara squints down at her. Lena isn’t sure if it’s because she’s concerned, or just because she isn’t wearing her glasses. Either way, it’s cute.
“…you were 15?”
“I was turning 16,” Lena counters. Kara just shakes her head.
“You have to go to prom.”
“Well, unless you have a time machine…” Lena drawls, but Kara won’t be deterred.
“Come chaperone with me! It’ll be fun, we can dance and drink spiked punch and get a hotel room and everything. The whole experience.”
“You’d let them spike the punch?” Lena asks, still trying to fully process what Kara is asking. “Isn’t the point of a chaperone to stop that sort of thing?”
“And ruin their good time? As long as they don’t hurt anyone, I don’t think there’s any harm,” Kara says with a wave. Lena laughs quietly. Typical Kara – she’s still the exact same woman she was all those years ago when she comforted a panic-ridden Lena on her first day. The one who couldn’t imagine telling on the janitor for forgetting to turn off the air conditioning, in case they got in trouble. The thought fills her with affection.
“And, a hotel room?” Lena says, watching Kara get more and more excited about the idea.
“Yeah! It’s a thing, you know. Everyone wants to lose their virginity in a nice hotel room at prom,” Kara says with a wink, and Lena gasps, poking her in the chest.
“Oh my god, Kara, please tell me you didn’t.”
“No!” Kara says, giggling and batting her hand away. “No, I was a lot older when I…you know. Not until college.”
“So you want to…what, recreate the experience?” Lena says doubtfully, but Kara doesn’t seem at all affected by her skepticism.
“It could be fun!”
Lena wants to say no. She means to say no. But the puppy-dog eyes of Kara Danvers are impossible to resist, and like clockwork three days later she’s dress shopping while Kara texts her their hotel reservation.
So much for that Luthor spine of steel.
She feels unnecessarily nervous, getting herself ready for a dance she didn’t really want to go to in the first place. The dress she bought isn’t formal – it’s black, and it shows a lot more shoulder than her regular work dresses, but she made sure to avoid looking like she’s trying too hard – and she’s going simple with her hairdo, but when Kara rings her doorbell just as she’s finishing up her makeup, she can’t help the butterflies in her stomach.
The butterflies become a swarm when she opens the door.
Firstly, Kara is in a tailored suit. The fabric is deep red, with a crisp white shirt and a matching tie, and it’s tight on every part of her body all the way to her polished dress shoes. Her hair is down in perfect waves, and her face is bare and handsome. She’s wearing lip balm and nothing else, and Lena wants to mix it with her own lipstick.
The effect is devastating. But Lena is gratified, at least, that she seems to be having the same impact on Kara. Her eyes haven’t left Lena’s chest since the door opened, and it takes Lena clearing her throat for the line of sight to break.
“You look…wow. You look incredible, Lena,” Kara says, her voice hushed. A blush colours her cheeks, as if she realizes exactly how affected she sounded.
“Likewise,” Lena manages to say, and she’s proud of how she kept the squeak out of her voice that usually accompanies feeling this breathless.
Kara is moving nervously from foot to foot, and she’s holding her hands behind her back in a curious way. When Lena tries to look around to see what it is, she shifts with a grin. “No peeking!”
“Well, come inside and show me what it is, then.”
Kara steps in, twisting so that Lena can’t see the surprise.
“Kara, honestly, whatever it is, just show me –“ Lena huffs, and with a roll of her eyes Kara finally thrusts the thing forwards.
It’s a tiny flower arrangement – in deep red, just like Kara’s suit – attached to a bracelet.
“I know this isn’t exactly the same – you can’t dance with all your friends or get wasted at the afterparty. But I wanted to try to make up for you missing prom,” Kara says, and her hands shake almost imperceptibly as she offers the tiny gift with so much meaning.
Against her will, Lena’s eyes start to water. She swallows hard against them, willing them not to ruin her makeup, and takes the offering.
“It’s…it’s perfect,” she manages to say, her voice cracking only the slightest bit. “Thank you, Kara.”
“Here, let me –“ Kara gently slips the bracelet over her wrist until it fits snugly, and then her hands rest with Lena’s, playing with her fingers.
“I’m glad you like it,” Kara whispers, and all the hopeless love Lena has ever had for her rushes forward, and she does the only thing she can do to deflect – she leans up on her toes, and kisses her. She can feel Kara smile into the kiss, and when Lena pulls away, her gloss has a crimson tint.
She swipes her thumb across Kara’s lower lip, wiping at the stain and reveling in the way Kara’s eyes widen.
“Let’s get out of here, hm? We have a dance to get to.”
The dance itself is exactly what Lena thought it would be. A huge hall full of teenagers getting rowdy, drinking punch that definitely has at least a 12 ounce bottle of smuggled rum in it, and dancing borderline inappropriately. But Kara is there, in that suit, being her usual self and dancing like a goof just to make her laugh, and against her better judgement she’s actually having a good time by the end.
The whole thing is starting to wind down when Kara throws her a wild card.
Something soft and slow comes on the speakers, and as the students start to pair off, Kara holds out a hand. Lena looks down at it, brow arched, and Kara laughs, her palm still outstretched.
“May I have this dance?”
A spike of fear pulses through her, almost instinctively. Kara wants to dance, here, in front of ¼ of the student body and several of their coworkers. It’s a terrible idea.
But when she takes a surreptitious glance around, they aren’t the only teachers having fun. Winn is being spun by James in the middle of the dance floor to the students’ delight, and Alex is off in a corner swaying and laughing with a woman Lena recognizes as Ruby Arias’ mother.
Briefly, she wonders why Ms. Arias is chaperoning, when her daughter is only a freshman.
But, there are more important things to consider – such as, Kara with one foot on the dance floor and a hand outstretched.
It’s fine. Nobody will suspect anything if they have a normal, friendly dance. And, she has to admit, she wouldn’t hate being held in Kara’s arms in that tight suit she’s wearing. So, she lets Kara pull her onto the dance floor. Despite keeping a respectable distance between their bodies, Lena still feels a flare of heat where Kara’s hand rests on her waist.
“I’m glad you decided to be my prom date,” Kara whispers cheekily.
“Shh!” Lena hisses, glancing around, but she can’t hide her smile.
“Are you having a good time?”
“Surprisingly, yes,” Lena admits, adjusting her grip on Kara’s hand so it doesn’t look quite so intimate. “You’ve shown me the benefits of school dances. They aren’t all bad.”
Kara laughs, and slowly Lena starts to forget about everyone who could be watching. The song reaches a crescendo, and she’s getting lost in Kara’s eyes, and god damn it if she doesn’t feel like the 17-year-old infatuated girl at prom that she never got to be.
She is in so deep.
And when the dance is finally over, the decorations cleaned up and the students all shuttled off to their afterparties, Kara pulls a hotel keycard out of her wallet.
It’s nothing fancy, the place Kara brings her to. It’s a basic, moderate Marriott on the other side of town, booked in the hopes that they won’t run into any students – but there’s champagne waiting for them when Lena opens the door to their room and Kara grins, expertly popping the cork and pouring them foaming glasses.
When they’re empty, Lena feeling a little more relaxed, Kara takes the flute from her hand gently and sets them both on the table next to the open bottle.
“Don’t worry,” Kara whispers with a wink as she pulls Lena closer by the hips. “’I’ll be gentle.”
“God, shut up, you dork –“
But, true to her word, it is gentle. It’s gentle, and slow, and heartfelt. Every second of it.
It’s almost alarming, how quickly and easily she melts into Kara. The second their lips touch, her response is almost Pavlovian – she feels hot and alive and ready, already pushing Kara’s jacket from her shoulders and running her hands over the soft fabric of her shirt.
“Someone’s impatient,” Kara murmurs, and the low timbre of her voice makes Lena shiver. And, to her embarrassment, Kara definitely feels it. She grins into the kiss, sliding her hands over Lena’s dress and toying with the zipper between her shoulderblades.
“And you’re being a tease,” Lena says with a raised brow, fumbling with Kara’s buttons as the blonde just grins at her knowingly. “Isn’t it my prom night?”
Kara concedes the point begrudgingly.
She slips out of her suit quickly after that. Lena is almost relieved, until Kara decides to spend whole decadent minutes getting Lena’s dress off, unhooking her bra, teasing her over her underwear. True to form she guides Lena to the edge and keeps her there, answering Lena’s pleas for relief with hushed assurances that she’ll get there. Just be patient.
And, as she’s been doing for months even when she couldn’t admit it, Lena gives herself over with no hesitation.
Kara is true to her word, finally pushing Lena over into an orgasm that makes her body arch fully off the bed, and despite her best efforts she can’t stop a few tears from spilling over at the reverence on Kara’s face as she guides her through. Lena manages to turn the tables once, or twice, encouraging Kara to ride her thigh or let her slip her fingers between them, but soon enough the blonde’s attention is fully focused on her again.
When Kara finally stops for a break, grabbing them both a glass of water, Lena is pretty sure her voice is already hoarse. She drains the water in a few seconds, suddenly realizing how parched she is.
“Thanks,” Lena rasps as Kara takes the empty glass back, setting it on the bedside table next to the bottle of champagne. After a moment of consideration, Kara grabs the bottle and takes a swig from it, grinning as the bubbles tickle her mouth.
“Want some?” Kara asks, holding it out to Lena, and Lena has a moment of intense self-awareness. She’s spread out in bed in a mid-range hotel room, naked and half-sated next to a gorgeous woman, drinking champagne directly out of the bottle after prom. If her mother could see her now, so uncaring of everything she was told to value growing up, she’d have a heart attack.
It’s with a savage sort of satisfaction that Lena accepts the bottle and takes a long, happy drink.
“See, I knew you knew how to have fun,” Kara winks, taking the champagne back. Lena pokes at her shoulder in offense, making her choke a little on the mouthful as she laughs.
“What made you think I didn’t?” Lena challenges, and Kara snorts.
“Are you kidding? Miss “I hate holidays, I didn’t go to my own prom, no Kara you can’t do that experiment –“
“I stop you from blowing your lab up one time and you think I’m the fun police,“ Lena grumbles.
Kara laughs, nudging her with a shoulder. “I’m just saying, you come off as very…serious. I’m glad I know you better than that, now.”
The reminder that Kara knows her, probably better than anyone in the world besides Jess, makes Lena’s breath catch in her throat. Unsure how to change the subject, Lena grabs the bottle back from Kara and takes another long drink, and before Kara can keep talking, she silences her with a kiss.
Thankfully, the conversation gets lighter after that. They pass the bottle back and forth, laughing and trading kisses between, until it’s over half empty and Kara sets it back on the bedside table. She stands up again, and while Lena misses her warmth, she can’t deny that she’s enjoying the visual of Kara in all her glory in the glow of the lamps.
“Hey, I almost forgot! Speaking of fun,” Kara says, leaning down to grab her duffel bag from the floor and rooting through it.
“Should I be worried?” Lena asks, propping herself up on an elbow, and Kara’s response is to pull something out of the bag with a grin – something intimately familiar now, a mess of black straps and blue silicone that makes Lena’s heart rate kick up a notch.
“Fuck,” Lena breathes, as Kara steps into the harness and starts to buckle. “This is much better than high school.”
Kara is laughing when she crawls onto the bed, and Lena hooks a leg around her waist to pull her closer.
“I should hope this is better than high school, Miss Luthor,” Kara teases, dragging the silicone against Lena’s centre, and Lena’s hips jump as she grabs a fistful of blonde hair, pulling her close enough to kiss.
“Shut up and fuck me, Danvers.”
For all her teasing, Kara knows when to follow a command. It’s only a few minutes later that Lena is communicating only in high-pitched whines, her body winding tighter and tighter under Kara’s attention. The hotel bed has a solid headboard, no convenient slats for her to grab while Kara fucks her, and in her desperation for something to wrap her hands around, she ends up grasping at the bedside table.
Of course, she forgot about the bottle they left there.
She can see it rocking back and forth at the same rate as her body. She knows, intellectually, that she should let go. But her hand doesn’t seem to be listening to her brain, and before she can relinquish her hold, the champagne tips, hitting the table and splashing over the wood. The movement of it, in time with their hips, means that more gushes out with every thrust, and it spills all over the sheets and splashes onto Lena’s torso and Kara’s back but neither of them is stopping – Kara just lifts Lena’s legs up to wrap around her waist, and goes harder.
There’s something painfully erotic about it. Kara doesn’t seem to care that she’s covered in spilled champagne – she just licks it off of Lena’s chest, lets it drip down her neck and dampen her hair. Their kisses taste like it, and Lena smells champagne and sweat and Kara as the blonde murmurs encouragements in her ear.
“You’re so good, you’re so beautiful, I want you to come so badly, baby, I want –“
But Lena is already coming, her toes curling over Kara’s back as her brain echoes with Kara’s voice calling her baby.
It’s indescribable. Kara has always made her come harder than anyone else, but somehow the affectionate pet name that she’d always told herself she hated paired with the praise and the overall feeling of closeness washes over Lena like a tsunami, lighting up every nerve ending until she’d clinging to Kara’s strong shoulders for dear life.
“God, Kara,” she gasps, trying to catch her breath as Kara’s hips slow down to a gentle rocking motion. “Fuck.”
“Can you take more?” Kara asks breathlessly, almost desperately, and Lena still marvels at the way her body fires back up at such a simple question.
“Always,” she breathes into Kara’s mouth, and Kara’s grin lights up Lena’s chest almost as much as it does her lower body.
Determined to distract herself from the dangerously powerful feelings Kara is evoking, Lena pushes herself up on shaky arms until Kara is upright and she’s straddling her lap, the toy still inside her - and slowly, slowly, she starts to ride.
In the end, the move just makes it worse.
From this position, all Lena has to focus on is Kara. A droplet of champagne slides slowly down Kara’s temple, and Lena can see the microscopic bubbles in it and every fleck of hazel and grey in Kara’s blue eyes, trained so intently on her face. Her hair is messy and one side is a little wet, and Lena’s lipstick is smeared across Kara’s bow lips. She’s sweaty and focused, completely absorbed in the moment, and she’s never been more beautiful.
It’s unhurried, the pace they set together. It’s not the frantic, desperate rhythm she usually sets with this toy, or even the more relaxed but still passionate one from just a few minutes ago. This speed is languid, almost decadent – the toy shifts inside her so slowly that she can feel every slick inch of it stretching her open at this new angle, and Kara’s hands are solid on her hip and the centre of her back, splayed out in a hold that’s both steadying and possessive. She has no idea how Kara is holding them both up – thighs of steel and absolutely spectacular core strength, clearly, Lena thinks with a shiver – but Kara hardly seems to notice the weight.
The eye contact is too much, all of a sudden.
Lena closes her eyes instead, tipping her head back and trying to focus on her body. The stretch and pressure, the slide of their sweaty skin together, the hardness of Kara’s stomach against her own softer one, Kara’s lips and teeth dragging over her chest and up to her throat. It all feels good, excruciatingly good, and she can feel herself getting close surprisingly quickly considering the slowness.
“I love this freckle,” Kara whispers, biting down on the middle of Lena’s throat, and she feels herself clench around the length inside her at the mixture of pain and pleasure.
“I –“ Lena gasps, twitching again when Kara bites harder. She’s choking on something, a very specific and forbidden phrase that wants to escape, and she has to bite down hard on her lip to keep herself from saying it.
But it isn’t the physical sensations that make her come, in the end. When she finally tips over the edge, it’s Kara’s voice in her ear that makes the difference, and as she comes down from the high of her fifth orgasm, she knows. As hard as she’s tried to ignore them, she knows in her heart that these feelings aren’t going away. They’re getting stronger every day, with every little thing Kara does. With every soft touch of lips along her jaw, every slow thrust, every moment of heart-stopping eye contact.
She needs to cut this off.
Kara can’t get too attached to her, not with her future. Kara deserves better, a normal life, kids and a dog and a partner who isn’t going to be working 100-hour weeks for the foreseeable future. Someone who isn’t emotionally scarred, liable to run at the slightest provocation. Someone who can give her what she needs.
Someone who isn’t Lena.
Finally exhausted, Kara flops back onto the sheets, her sweaty chest heaving with exertion, and immediately Lena dismounts and rolls until her head is pillowed there. She doesn’t care that every heavy breath almost dislodges her head – something in her is screaming for this closeness, and Kara is her usual perfect self. She wraps an arm around Lena’s shoulder, pulls her in close and tight, and kisses the top of her head.
“Happy prom, Lena,” Kara murmurs into her hair, and Lena squeezes her eyes shut, hoping against hope that this feeling of inevitability will be gone by morning.
It isn’t. When Lena opens her eyes a few hours later, it’s to Kara gazing at her like she’s some kind of treasure, followed by an avalanche of guilt.
“Morning,” Kara grins, her voice a little raspy from sleep and the night’s activities, and something unacceptable rises in Lena’s chest to greet it.
“I was just going to get us some breakfast. Black coffee and a croissant, right? Maybe some fruit?”
As Kara grabs for the phone, grinning and golden in the morning light and so painfully handsome, Lena knows with startling clarity that she’s taking the job Lex offered. Within seconds of waking, she’s reminded of what she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt last night.
This is perfect. Last night, this morning, Kara, everything.
It’s perfect…and she can’t have it.
“I’m actually not very hungry,” Lena finally says, and Kara puts the phone down with a slight frown.
“Oh, okay. Well, we can go for breakfast later, if you want. Or I can make pancakes at my place,” Kara suggests, and Lena hates how tempting those options are. She’d love nothing more than to do what she’s been doing for months – put the bad thoughts away, and just enjoy the moment.
But she can’t. Not anymore.
“Pretty good night, huh?” Kara says when she’s settled in bed again, grinning, and Lena smiles sadly.
“Pretty good night.”
Now or never.
Taking a deep breath, Lena averts her eyes to the ceiling, and speaks her mind. “I don’t think I’ll have this much fun working for LuthorCorp.”
Kara seems to pause, a little confused crinkle between her brows.
“LuthorCorp?” Kara asks, and Lena swallows the little voice inside her that’s telling her not to do this.
“I’m going to work with my brother. Starting this summer.”
Kara frowns, propping herself up on an elbow. “But, you’ll be coming back? In September?”
And here comes the difficult part.
“…no,” Lena says hesitantly. “I’m…leaving for good. He’s making me CFO.”
She’s met with silence. She isn’t quite brave enough to look Kara in the face, so she can’t see her expression, but she can feel Kara’s eyes boring into the side of her head.
“I thought you loved teaching?” Kara asks in a small, hurt voice that Lena can’t help but react to. She reaches out to grab Kara’s hand, pulling it to her chest like a lifeline.
“I do! But there’s so much I could be doing, there. Not just for a group of students, but for the whole world. My research from grad school was used to treat cancer, Kara. If that was then, can you imagine what I could do in the future?”
She hadn’t meant to spill every thought she has on the subject, but it’s the only way she can think of to lessen the pain. Maybe, if she can make Kara understand why this can’t work, maybe –
“Wow,” Kara says quietly. She doesn’t sound surprised, really – she sounds resigned. Like she’d been expecting this, and is only sad that it had to happen so soon. “That’s…that’s amazing, Lena. I’m really proud of you.”
“It’s going to be hard,” Lena admits, not meeting Kara’s eyes. She’s squeezing Kara’s hand so hard that they’re probably both losing circulation. “Leaving…everything. But I think I need to do this.”
She knows she could mention that her new position is still in National City. She’s likely not even going to move apartments, at least for a while. But it feels somehow like she’d be giving Kara false hope. Hope that they could work out, when Lena knows they can’t. They shouldn’t. That Kara can do so much better.
“I’m happy for you.”
Kara doesn’t sound happy. She sounds horribly, painfully sad. But behind the sadness there’s acceptance, however begrudging, and it cements her decision. This is for the best. Kara will move on.
Hopefully, Lena can too. Someday.
Lena emerges from the bathroom a few minutes later to an empty bed, and even though true to form there was no discussion of the subject, Lena knows in her heart that it’s over, now. Their strange, complicated, wonderful time together is done. Again, she tells herself that this is the right decision. Even as she crawls back into the still-messy bed and pulls Kara’s pillow to her face, trying not to cry.
She is not successful.
Kara’s drive home from the hotel seems abnormally long. But, that could be because it’s 8 in the morning and her vision is blurred with tears.
Lena is leaving.
She knew this was coming, intellectually. She’s always known Lena was destined for better things. But she didn’t expect it so soon. She was thrown off guard when Lena told her, the high from having such a good night immediately doused by the news, and she’s still reeling. Lena is probably going to end up in Metropolis at L-Corp headquarters, on the other side of the country. She’s probably never going to see her again, outside of reading about her achievements in magazines.
The thought makes her unbearably sad.
She probably shouldn’t have left like this, spiriting off while Lena was in the bathroom with zero warning. But she couldn’t deal with lying in that bed, the bed where just a few hours ago she had been so sure that she couldn’t possibly be happier, knowing that it could never happen again. That it’s over. It was too much. And now, she’s driving home and her skin still smells like champagne and Lena’s perfume, and her stupid heart is ripped wide open.
She’s not at all surprised when her instincts take her to Alex’s apartment instead of her own.
She lets herself in like she always does, and unsurprisingly, Alex is asleep. Kara drops her coat on the couch and flops down on it, intending to try to nap before she wakes up, but when she wiggles into the cushions, there’s something poking into her back.
Reaching around to pull it out, it turns out to be a bra. Lacy, and revealing, and so very far from what Kara knows to be Alex’s usual style. And, now that she’s paying attention, there’s a dress abandoned on the hallway floor that she knows for certain Alex would never wear.
It looks familiar, actually.
“Alex?” she calls tentatively, standing up, and from Alex’s bedroom she can hear the thump of something hitting the floor, and the telltale sounds of her sister swearing.
“Jesus shitting fuck – Kara?”
Another voice is audible, a softer voice, and Kara’s theory is confirmed even though she can't hear the words being said.
“I am so sorry –“ Kara says, mortified, grabbing her jacket and trying to stuff her arms into it before realizing she has it backwards. “I had no idea –“
Alex finally emerges in shorts and a NC Prep Volleyball hoodie, her hair in disarray, and shuts the bedroom door quickly as Kara is still trying to figure her coat out.
“What the hell, Kara?” Alex hisses, crossing her arms grumpily. "You couldn't call first?"
Kara finally gets her coat on, and slowly she backs up towards the front door, snatching her shoes up from the rack. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, oh god –“
“Why are you here at 8 in the morning?” Alex asks, following Kara’s whirlwind path, and Kara waves her off as she stuffs her feet back into her shoes.
“It’s – nothing, I’ll just go –“
“Kara, it’s fine,” Alex says, Kara’s panic seeming to make her soften a little. “Just spit it out.”
Kara feels her eyes well up, her lip quivering a bit despite her best efforts, and Alex sighs.
“It’s Lena, isn’t it?”
Kara nods, and Alex puts a hand on her shoulder just as Sam Arias emerges from the hallway, dressed in jeans (where did she get jeans when they came here from a formal dance? Unless, she keeps clothes here?). She looks sleepy, but she’s smiling in a sympathetic way.
“I’ll just go,” she says quietly to both of them. “I need to pick Ruby up from her sleepover in a few hours anyways.”
She turns to Alex, and her smile is immediately more affectionate. “I’ll see you later?”
Alex nods, and they kiss in a way that’s far too familiar for a hookup, and Kara thinks that maybe, Alex has been keeping some things from her too.
“We’re going to talk about that, later,” Kara says as the door closes behind Sam, and Alex rolls her eyes.
“One crisis at a time.”
By the time Kara finishes explaining everything, this whole crazy year with Lena up until the conversation they had a few hours ago, the sun is fully up and Alex has made them each two cups of strong coffee.
“Jesus, Kara,” Alex says, rubbing her face. “I had no idea it had gotten so far.”
“Neither did I, really. Until it did.”
“So, she’s leaving.”
“She's leaving,” Kara sighs. “To be a CFO. I always knew she’d do amazing things.”
“Yeah.” Alex says, and there’s begrudging agreement in her voice. “So…is there a reason you can’t keep dating her?”
“We weren’t dating to begin with,” Kara says tiredly. She swirls the dregs of her coffee in the bottom of her mug, as if the specks of coffee bean will reveal the answers she craves. “It was casual. We both knew that. And besides, LuthorCorp is in Metropolis. She’s going to have to go halfway across the country.”
“Yikes,” Alex says, grimacing. “Yeah, that’s fair.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to keep teaching, in that classroom, without Lena.”
Alex nods, looking thoughtful. “Well, maybe it’s time.”
“Time for you to take that science journalism job Clark offered you,” Alex says, and she nudges Kara with a foot when she rolls her eyes. “Look, if staying here is just going to remind you of Lena, maybe now is the time for you to start fresh, You can always come back to teaching if you don’t like it. You know Cat Grant will hire you back in a heartbeat.”
It’s the same advice that Alex gave her at the beginning of the year, when she refused to take it because the idea of leaving the school when Lena was still there was ludicrous. Now, it seems like maybe it’s just what she needs.
“I’ll call Clark.”
After prom night, their usual texting stops. Lena doesn’t show up at Kara’s place in the middle of the night even once, and Kara somehow resists the temptation to get in her car and drive to Lena’s apartment herself. By day, they still work together – their usual back-and-forth is tempered by occasional moments of melancholy, but she’s fairly sure the students don’t notice, as wrapped up in exam prep as they are. But their after-hours relationship is nonexistent. They do their marking separately, and Lena seems to arrive at school so early that Kara doesn’t even get to open the door for her anymore.
Lena’s stuff is still at Kara’s apartment, and she has no idea what to do with all of it. It just sits in a drawer, out of sight but not out of mind, and Kara is caught in an endless cycle, torn between wanting to move on and wanting to go back in time. So, she does the only thing she can think to do.
She picks up the phone, and she calls her cousin.
Lena didn’t realize how much she had gotten used to waking up with Kara until it’s no longer an option.
She’s slept alone for so long – her whole life, essentially, since she’s never been one to sleep over with her occasional hookups – that she figured it would be simple to go back to. Sharing a bed with Kara was a mistake to begin with, and things are now back to the way they should be. The way they’ve always been.
But a week and a half after prom, when she wakes up after yet another night spent tossing and turning to an empty bed and an empty heart, she genuinely wonders if this will ever feel normal again.
She passes the two boxes of Kara’s belongings that have accumulated at her apartment over the last 5 months – god, has it really been 5 months? – and pushes down the predictable wave of melancholy that crashes over her as her eyes brush over a jumble of clothes and movies, CDs, and the fuzzy socks Kara always insisted on wearing because Lena keeps her house too cold. Kara always fell asleep wearing them and then ended up slipping them off during the night when she got too hot, and in the morning, Lena would find them at the foot of the bed or tangled in the blankets, despite her near-everyday warnings that she’d light them all on fire if she found another sock on her floor. Instead, she had taken to waking Kara up by throwing the socks at her face, and Kara would just laugh and pull her back into bed, starting the day with kisses and laughter.
Lena’s heart seizes painfully at the memory, her eyes burning with tears she won’t let fall, and she rubs at the sore spot in her chest forlornly.
Kara wasn’t her girlfriend. They were never more than friends with benefits, a convenient outlet of sexual frustration and occasional affection. That’s what she’s been telling herself all year. Lena has no right to be so fucking sad. And yet here she is, tearing up like a war widow over a box of everything that she hasn’t had the heart to return yet.
Well, not everything. There is something Kara left behind that isn’t in the box – Kara’s NCU sweatshirt, the soft one that she lent Lena back in October for Casual Day. Lena took it home intending to wash and return it, but it was so comfortable and smelled like Kara, and eventually Kara had found it in Lena’s pyjama drawer and told her she could keep it.
Lena knows she should give it back – it would make it easier to let go if she gets rid of everything – but instead she shrugs off her shoulders as she chooses her outfit for the day, laying it carefully on her pillow.
Sleeping in her ex…something’s sweater when she was the one who chose to break it off is pitiful, she knows, but it’s the only thing that brings her any comfort lately.
School is hell, for Lena. Day in and day out she has to spend over an hour in a room with Kara pretending the very sight of her, her strong shoulders under those button-ups and her deft hands and her sweet, bright eyes and that smile that makes her melt, doesn’t make her want to abandon her plans and just tell Kara how she feels. And it’s made worse by the way she can tell Kara is staring back when Lena isn’t looking – that puppydog gaze, the clear indication that Lena’s feelings are returned. She’s sure that, if she asked, Kara would date her in a second.
But she can’t be that selfish. Kara deserves more than she can give.
It’s what she’s been telling herself for weeks, and it’s starting to ring a little hollow.
So instead the weeks march on, Lena feeling her lack of sleep more and more every day. It gets to the point that, about two weeks before exams are due to begin, she arrives outside Cat’s office for a science department meeting a full 25 minutes early without realizing, and runs square into Alex Danvers. It’s clear that Alex is waiting too, and their eyes have already locked before she realizes the situation she’s trapped herself in.
Alex gestures at the seat next to her in the hallway, her expression neutral, and Lena sits gingerly, her back stiff and straight.
For a few minutes, Lena thinks that maybe, just maybe, Alex doesn’t want to talk either. They sit in silence, only interrupted by occasional classroom noise spilling out as a student or two opens a door to go to the bathroom, and Lena has almost relaxed into her chair when Alex breaks the quiet.
“So. LuthorCorp, huh?”
Lena’s back stiffens again the moment Alex speaks, and she swallows thickly. It feels like something is stuck there, heavy with the knowledge that Alex probably knows everything.
“Yes,” she says quietly, and Alex nods.
“Congratulations,” Alex replies, and she sounds serious, but genuine. There’s no malice in her tone. Either Alex has magically become fond of Lena overnight, or Kara didn’t make Lena the bad guy.
Typical Kara, still being perfect even after Lena broke both of their hearts.
Lena’s reply comes out as a hoarse whisper.
The blessed silence returns, and Lena could swear that the hands of the clock move in slow motion. She’d do just about anything to be able to politely excuse herself from this situation, and the feeling grows tenfold when Alex speaks up again.
“Kara’s leaving too, you know.”
Lena can’t help it. Her head jerks towards Alex, her hair whipping her own face in her surprise.
“Yeah. To work for the Tribune,” Alex says, her nonchalance just a little bit too even to be real. “I guess her cousin had an in for her there as a junior reporter. Science Division.”
Kara had talked about her interest in reporting, before. She minored in journalism, so she told Lena, and she’s always been interested in finding ways to bring science to more people – it’s why she loves teaching, and being a journalist with a wide platform seemed like a logical step. But Lena hadn’t considered that Kara would ever actually leave the school, where she gets to teach with her sister and make such a difference for the kids.
Lena clears her throat, trying to sort through her conflicting thoughts.
“Good for her.”
“Yeah, it’s a good opportunity,” Alex continues, and now her tone is definitely too careful for Lena’s liking. “Clark has been telling her to do it for years now – honestly, I think half the reason it took her so long to leave is because of you.”
The weight that’s been constricting Lena’s chest for this whole conversation slams down to her stomach.
“Excuse me?” Lena says, knowing how uncontrolled her voice is and hating it. But Alex just nods, unafraid to look Lena in the eye. She doesn’t look angry, really, but Lena can practically see the older woman’s steel spine when it comes to her sister.
“She’s been in love with you since day one, Luthor. You can’t tell me you didn’t know that. Especially not this year. I’ve seen you two together.”
It’s all a little too much. They’re in the middle of an open hallway during work hours, before a meeting with their boss and Kara, and it feels like Alex has just shone a hot spotlight on her. Lena feels too seen, too known, like Alex’s stern words and knowing gaze are flaying her, leaving her open to the knowledge she’s had for months but hasn’t let herself think too hard about, let alone fully admit.
She and Kara were always more than friends. More than a fling, more than casual.
She’s in love with Kara Danvers. And Kara loves her, too.
Lena’s mouth opens and closes again, words just not forming from her chaotic thoughts, and Alex continues to carry the conversation by herself.
“She’s still crazy about you. Even after everything. So much so that she can’t stand being here without you, apparently.”
“I didn’t –“ Lena starts, her voice cracking uncomfortably. She clears her throat, starting again and willing her own weakness to go back into the box she usually hides it in. “I didn’t mean to hurt her. I thought…I could handle it.”
Alex nods, and her understanding is even more confusing than the fact that she seems to want to have this conversation with Lena in the first place. And then, she asks the question Lena has been dreading.
“Why are you really leaving?”
Immediately, Lena spits out the answer she’s been giving to everyone who asks. The easy answer.
“I’m going to work for –“
But Alex cuts her off, waving an impatient hand over her half-assed explanation. “No. Cut the bullshit, Lena. I know you’re leaving for work, to make a difference and what have you. But your brother has been asking you to do this for years, and you only decided to say yes now. Why?”
“I'm –“ Lena chokes, feeling increasingly claustrophobic in the empty hallway. But Alex looks at her with an expectation tempered by a strange sort of understanding, and Lena finally voices the truth she’s been hiding from everyone but Jess.
Alex doesn’t look surprised by the admission at all. At her nod, Lena feels even more admissions coming up like word vomit.
“I don’t know how to do this. How to be…”
Alex’s face is as soft as Lena has ever seen it, and Lena suddenly understands why Kara loves her sister so much.
“I don’t know how to be in love,” she finally whispers, cursing her eyes for daring to betray her by watering in such a public place.
“You’ve never been in love?” Alex asks, and Lena shakes her head vehemently.
“Not the healthy kind. I can’t do that to Kara, I can’t subject her to whatever kind of twisted relationship I’m capable of. She’s too good.”
“Lena,” Alex says, with the kind of patience only a big sister can have, “As far as I can tell…you’ve been in a relationship all year. And you’ve been in love for longer.”
Lena swallows, feeling the truth of the words settle in her gut. All those times they added new dimensions to their entanglement, all those times Lena put it out of her head – Alex is right. She’s been denying it, but she was in too deep before they even kissed.
“And while I’m sure you both messed up at times, she still loves you,” Alex finishes with quiet confidence.
“Look, I can’t tell you what to do. All I wanted to say, was…whatever you choose, I hope it makes you happy. Truly.”
Before Lena can try to find an answer to that, the familiar sound of Kara’s heavy footfalls echoes down the hallway as the blonde turns the corner, shoving papers into her messenger bag. She looks up from her work, and when she sees Lena her expression brightens and darkens again in a split second. But Lena sees it, and she feels the same light being forced into dimness in her own chest.
Maybe she has some things to think about.
Every day following prom, Kara truly wishes she was braver.
The days before the school year ends, and Lena leaves for good, seem to dwindle too fast. Every time she sees Lena she wants to pull her aside, to tell her how she feels and put everything out on the table, but fear stops her every time. Fear of what, she isn’t sure, but it curls in her gut and keeps her from bringing the subject up, no matter how badly she wants to.
So she lives like this, in this endless cycle of confusion and sadness, for weeks after Lena announced her intention to leave. Kara announces her own departure at a science department meeting with herself, Lena, and Alex, turning the meeting into a session of Cat asking if there was anything she could do to keep both of them, but Lena seems so resolute – both in her plan to quit, and in looking anywhere but at Kara – that Kara knows it’s over.
This is happening, and she needs to just accept it.
It feels like a startling break in the routine when, after the annual end-of-year staff meeting, Cat asks Kara to stay behind. Alone.
Cat’s office seems like the only space in the school untouched by end-of-year mania. Every office and classroom in the school is a little messier than usual, perhaps inspired by the stress of students and teachers compounded into a few short weeks, but Cat’s office is as spotless as ever. It’s glowing orange with the setting sun, and as Kara takes a seat again, the principal spins her chair around to pin Kara with a piercing look.
If she ever decided to leave the school, Kara thinks, Cat Grant would make an absolutely terrifying businesswoman.
“So. Miss Luthor is leaving.”
She was expecting this to be the topic of conversation, given their shared class and the letter of resignation Kara submitted a few days ago, but Kara still feels like she’s been gut-punched.
“Yes,” she says quietly, and Cat continues.
“As are you.”
“At the same time.”
Kara swallows, fidgeting with her glasses and wishing she could just leave without being considered rude. “Miss Grant, if you’re upset that I didn’t give enough notice –“
“You gave four months, it’s more than adequate,” Cat says, waving her off. “No, I called you here because both you and Miss Luthor are leaving at the end of the school year, ostensibly free from the constraints of inter-workplace dating, and yet you’re still dancing around each other like a couple of teenagers.”
Kara’s stomach drops out completely.
She’s still in the ‘complete and total shock’ stage when Cat bulldozes on, uncaring of Kara’s state of anxiety.
“Now, I don’t normally make a habit out of dabbling in the lives of my employees. I find it exhausting, and usually uninteresting. But you two have had eyes for each other since the second Miss Luthor stepped foot in my school, and quite frankly, your new mopey ‘woe is me’ cycle is getting to be too much.”
Kara finally snaps out of her stupor, shaking her head and laughing a bit disbelievingly.
“Miss Grant, I don’t think you understand –“
“That you’ve been sleeping together for most of the year?”
Kara stares at her, mouth agape. Cat just stares at her, an eyebrow quirked in a way that reminds her painfully of Lena.
How does she know?
“You’re not as subtle as you think you are, Miss Danvers,” Cat says, as if she can read Kara’s mind.
Maybe she can. Maybe that’s how she found out. Maybe she’s actually some kind of mind-reading alien and she runs this school as a cover.
She’s brought back to the ground from her panic-spiral by Cat talking again, her tone brokering no argument.
“Now, I’m going to offer something I don’t give out very often – advice. A connection like yours doesn’t come around every day. Whatever your damages are, whatever inadequacies you think you have, I can guarantee that Lena doesn’t care, just as you don’t care about hers.”
It’s true. Kara doesn’t care about whatever Lena thinks she lacks. She wants her, no matter what. Exactly as she is. But it just doesn’t seem possible for Lena to feel the same way.
“The way I see it, the two of you have about two weeks to get your act together – and one of you needs to take the first step,” Cat says, and Kara balks at the idea.
“Miss Grant, she doesn’t feel that way about me. And even if she did –“
“Kara,” Cat interrupts, and Kara is startled into silence by the uncharacteristic use of her first name. Cat never uses anyone’s first name. “I am not asking for your perspective. I am telling you…to jump.”
“Jump?” Kara echoes, brow furrowed.
Cat’s gaze is suddenly intense, and it feels more serious than it was before. Like Cat is genuinely invested in this. In Kara’s happiness, with Lena.
Kara considers it, this strange advice her soon-to-be-ex boss is offering. Jump. Take a leap of faith.
A leap of faith that could go horribly.
“But what if –“ Kara starts, but Cat rolls her eyes, cutting Kara off with a wave.
“I’ve offered my advice, and you can take it or not. Now, get out of here and go home. Think about it.”
Kara goes, and true to Cat’s command, she thinks about it for the entirety of the final two weeks of school.
They pass in a flash, or so it feels to Kara. It seems like the blink of an eye before exams are over and the Mathletes are having an after-school end-of-year party to say goodbye. It’s a yearly affair, usually to bid farewell to the students who are graduating, but this year it has extra meaning - the students were all devastated when Lena announced that she wouldn’t be coming back next year, and it was even worse when, a week later, Kara announced her intent to leave as well.
While Lena hadn’t looked surprised, she did look almost as heartbroken by the news as their students. But, as per usual, she and Kara hadn’t talked about it. Lena had just excused herself from the meeting as soon as it was over, and Kara hadn’t seen her until their shared class the next day.
The party is as sad as it is celebratory, the younger students upset that both their friends and their favourite teachers are leaving, and Lena spends most of it engaged in conversation with them, giving promises of reference letters for college and very obviously trying to avoid talking to Kara. And Kara, true to form, hovers close by and agonizes over breaking the pattern.
There’s something final about the gathering that makes Kara feel…different. The fear is still there, the anxiety that’s kept her from speaking to Lena for weeks now, but it’s being pushed down by something else – the conversation she had with Cat is still ringing in her ears, the older woman’s words echoing through her head every time she looks at Lena.
Jump, Miss Danvers.
And besides that, with this party comes the deep, crushing knowledge that this very well may be the last time she sees Lena in person. The last time she can see her smile for real, the last time she can look into those green eyes and tell her how incredible she is.
This is it. She has nothing to lose, now.
What am I waiting for?
Gathering her wits, Kara eases herself into the tail end of Lena’s conversation with Eve and Ruby and plucks at her sleeve gently.
“Can I talk to you?”
Eve and Ruby exchange a look that’s a little too knowing for Kara’s comfort, but Lena nods after only a moment’s hesitation, and Kara leads her to a quiet corner of their classroom.
“Lena, I know we never agreed on anything. This was all…casual, and impermanent, and I was okay with that,” Kara starts as soon as they’re alone, wringing her hands nervously. “But…I’m really going to miss you.”
Lena’s ramrod-straight spine softens a little, and she actually meets Kara’s eyes for the first time, looking almost as sad as Kara feels.
“I’m going to miss you, too,” Lena says, so quietly that it’s almost a whisper. “If it counts for anything, I’m sorry for how things ended.”
“Me, too,” Kara sighs, barely resisting the temptation to pull Lena into a hug to ease the pain she can see on her face.
It’s quiet, for a moment. Both of them look away from each other, unable to keep up such intense eye contact for long, and instead stand together observing their students. It’s Kara who finally breaks the silence, still not quite brave enough to look Lena in the eyes as she speaks.
“I don’t really see why we couldn’t just keep going as we were. For a little while longer.”
Lena’s answer is not what she expected.
“I think you know why.”
Something kindles in Kara’s chest at the words. Something hopeful. You know why. But, it can’t be the reason she thinks.
“I…I don’t…” Kara stutters, trying to catch her mouth up to her brain. “Wait, what do you mean?”
“I think how we feel is pretty obvious,” Lena mutters, as if the knowledge of it is irritating in some way. But it’s not irritating to Kara. It’s wonderful. It’s setting off firecrackers in her chest. How we feel.
Lena has feelings for her.
“I didn’t know you felt…anything,” Kara says, her voice noticeably trembling. “You never said –“
Lena sighs, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “How could I not, Kara?”
Kara huffs, throwing her arms up before remembering they’re supposed to be covert. She folds them tightly, but it doesn’t stop her from talking. “Well then why – I don’t understand. Why not try? Lena, I’m crazy about you, I always have been –“
“Because you deserve better!”
Lena’s outburst is unexpected, and loud. Several of the students look their way, and Lena flushes bright red, her jaw clenched and nostrils flaring.
This is not a conversation to have in front of teenagers. Still reeling from the impact of Lena’s words, Kara pulls on Lena’s arm gently until they’re both out in the empty hallway, closing the door behind them. Only then does she let out her reaction.
Lena sighs, rubbing her arms in a way that signals that she’s deeply uncomfortable, but this isn’t the moment for Kara to ease up. She’s close to something, here, and she can’t leave – she can’t let Lena go – until she knows what it is.
“I’m not capable of the kind of things you deserve, Kara,” Lena finally says, her voice heavy. “Affection, and honesty. A real, healthy relationship. I spent this whole year – I was – using you, giving you whiplash just because I couldn’t repress my stupid urges, and it wasn’t fair to you but I kept doing it because I’m selfish and –“
Lena is on a rant, now, so determined in her self-loathing that Kara can hardly get a word in edgewise, as much as she tries.
“Lena, you didn’t use me,” Klara insists incredulously. “If anything I was using you, I’ve loved you for years and I jumped at the first chance to have sex with you and I didn’t even ask questions –“
But Lena seems not to hear her.
“And now, I’m going to be working all hours of the day getting this new National City branch of LuthorCorp started, and god knows if I can’t manage a normal relationship with a teacher’s schedule I can’t handle it as a CFO –“
Whatever Lena says afterwards is important, Kara is sure, but her mind snags on that last part. National City branch of LuthorCorp. National City.
“Wait, repeat that?” Kara asks, blinking owlishly, and Lena repeats herself.
“I said, I’m not capable –“
“No, the other thing,” Kara interrupts again, waving that self-doubt away. “You’re still going to be here?”
“Yes,” Lena says, frowning. “But, that’s not the point –“
Like the power was just turned on in her brain, Kara sees this entire year in a new light.
Lena didn’t break things off because she doesn’t care, or because she’s leaving the city to move across the country – she did it because she thinks that she can’t be what Kara wants.
But all Kara wants is Lena.
With an intensity she didn’t know she had, Kara takes both of Lena’s hands in hers and holds them to her chest, and just like Cat suggested, she jumps.
“Lena, I have been nuts about you since the second I saw you in your office 3 years ago. I’ve spent the last year taking whatever you felt capable of giving, because I was selfish and I didn’t want to give up being close to you – but I always thought you were going to leave, that you deserved better than me. And here you were, apparently thinking that I deserve better than you.”
It feels like a new kind of release, finally getting all of this off her chest. She thought that it would be scary, would be embarrassing, but it just feels like relief. And through her whole speech Lena blinks at her, wide-eyed, her fingers flexing and unflexing against the skin of Kara’s sternum.
“There isn’t any better than you,” Kara continues, her voice hushed and focused. This is a make-or-break moment, and she can’t mess it up. “I want you. Don’t you think that maybe, we could stop deciding what each other deserves and actually find happiness…together?”
Lena bites her lip, and Kara can see her resolve wavering.
“Look…I’ve thought about this too,” Lena admits quietly, and Kara feels like she could fly even at such a tiny admission, filled with so much doubt. “But I’d be so bad for you. I’d break you, Kara.”
“I’m pretty strong,” Kara says, and Lena huffs out a little laugh. It feels so good to see her laugh again, to make her laugh again, that Kara just knows she can do this. She can fight for this.
“It’s going to be difficult. I’m difficult. I’ve never done this before, with someone as important as you.”
Kara glows with the compliment – someone as important as you. Knowing she’s important to Lena, important enough to risk doing something she’s scared of, is enough to solidify her resolve.
“You’re worth it.”
Their faces are drifting closer together, Lena smiling even through her half-hearted protests, and Kara knows, then. She knows that this is happening. Lena has feelings for her, and they’re doing this.
They’re really doing this.
“I’ve been so hot and cold to you this year,” Lena murmurs, her breath tickling Kara’s lips. “Why do you even want me?”
Kara leans in, cupping Lena’s jaw with soft hands.
“You’re Lena Luthor.”
Over the past year, Kara has kissed Lena what feels like hundreds of times, in a hundred wildly different situations. Each and every one felt life-changing, in their own way. But this kiss, tinged with the knowledge that this isn’t just temporary, that her feelings aren’t just inconvenient but that they’re appreciated, that they’re returned, is the best of them all. It’s their softest one yet, just a gentle meeting of lips with the barest hint of tongue, and it makes Kara’s chest feel like it’s going to overflow.
It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. Nothing could ruin this moment.
Nothing except for a single, high-pitched squeal somewhere to her left.
About a split second before the commotion starts, Kara remembers where they are. Spotting movement out of the corner of her eye, she’s made suddenly aware that their classroom door has a very large window.
“Oh no,” she whispers, and Lena has just enough time to shoot her a questioning look before the door swings open and 14 voices start to yell in a cacophony.
“Oh my god –“
“I knew it! Eve, I told you, I told you they were –“
“Are you guys gonna get married?!”
Kara just laughs, kissing Lena’s forehead. It’s a little embarrassing, that they were apparently so much less subtle than she thought, but it’s nice having their little group be almost as excited as she is. Right now, she can just be happy thinking about the future. Their future, together.
Lena’s fingers lace with hers, and Kara answers the most pertinent question.
“Yes. We are definitely going to get married.”
Eve gets the invitation in an envelope even larger and shinier than the one MIT had sent in the spring, when her stellar reference letters and top grades had gotten her as close to a full ride scholarship as is possible when you don’t play a sport. The large silver ‘L’ embossed onto the envelope is imposing, and so is its contents: a rare summer internship in the Applied Sciences Division at LuthorCorp’s National City branch, under the supervision of Lena Luthor herself.
The ink of the signature is even a little smudged. Eve doesn’t want to assume that Miss Luthor will be anything but perfectly professional with her, but she’s oddly choked up by it.
When she strides into the marble-floored glass skyscraper for her first day, she tries her best not to get her hopes up high. “Under the supervision of Lena Luthor” could mean anything – she might not even see Miss Luthor at all. Often high-up executives do this sort of thing through intermediaries. She just has to work hard, and maybe –
“Can I help you?” the woman at the front desk says, looking up at her expectantly, and Eve jumps.
“Oh! Yes. Um, Eve Tessmacher? I’m here for the internship program?”
The woman looks down at her computer screen, typing something quick as lightning, and then she looks back up at Eve with a smile.
“Of course, Miss Tessmacher. Miss Luthor has been expecting you.”
“She – she has?” Eve asks, her entire morning thrown off by this information.
“Of course! You’ll be working down in the lab this summer, but Miss Luthor requested your presence in her office before you start. It’s on the top floor, you can’t miss it.”
Eve is almost hyperventilating by the time she steps out of the elevator on the top floor of the building. There’s a small waiting room and a hallway, a desk with an assistant sitting behind it, and a huge door made of what looks like metal with a plaque reading “Lena Luthor: CEO”.
Eve is about to tentatively ask the woman behind the desk where on earth she’s supposed to be going when the office door opens, and Miss Luthor herself walks out holding a tablet. She doesn’t even look up from whatever she’s typing before she starts talking, and her assistant immediately starts taking notes.
“Jess, tell R&D to move forward on the new water filtration systems. Make it priority number one. And push my 10 ‘o’clock to tomorrow, Kara is stopping by –“
For a second, she has to catch her breath. Miss Luthor is just as beautiful as she was when Eve first saw her, as a scared 14 year old who thought she hated math. She hasn’t seen her former teacher in 3 years, and she’d honestly thought her baby gay crush had faded a little, but it all comes roaring back with Miss Luthor’s soft hair and bright eyes and that dress –
Eve is startled violently from her ogling, and it makes her nerves settle a little to see that Miss Luthor seems genuinely happy to see her.
“I was hoping they’d send you up here like I asked. It’s wonderful to see you!” Before Eve can properly prepare for it, she’s being enveloped in a warm hug, and it’s only her body going on autopilot that lets her return it without freezing up.
“It’s – it’s good to see you too, Miss Luthor!” she squeaks, embarrassed at how high her own voice is.
“Oh, please, you’re not my student anymore, Eve. You can call me Lena.”
“Oh! Right. Um, Lena. Thank you so much for letting me into this program, it’s such a great opportunity –“
But Lena just waves her off, her smile reaching her eyes. She’s so animated, so enthusiastic in a way that was fairly rare to see when she was Eve’s teacher.
“Eve, your grades speak for themselves. We’d be mad not to accept you. They don’t let just anyone into MIT - I should know.” Lena says with a wink, and Eve can’t help the blush that creeps up her neck.
She’s wanted to go to MIT ever since she saw the framed degree in Lena’s classroom freshman year, and it was the encouragement of her two favourite science teachers that had convinced her to focus on her studies and work hard to get accepted. So, the acknowledgement that Miss Luthor paid enough attention to know that Eve was going to her alma mater makes her glow a little bit.
“Right,” Eve says, clearing her throat. “Well, I’m really excited to work with you. I mean, not with you, for you. I mean, I assume you won’t actually be there most of the time, you have such important things to do –“
“Oh, I spend a lot of time down in the lab,” Lena says, and Eve has to smother the small and excited explosion that happens in her chest. “You’ll be seeing plenty of me.”
Before Eve can reply the elevator doors slide open, and through them strides the second person Eve was hoping against hope she’d get to see this summer.
Miss Danvers hasn’t changed a bit. She’s still tall and a tiny bit disheveled, wearing a button-up shirt and slacks, and she’s rummaging in her messenger bag. It’s almost like 3 years haven’t passed at all and Eve is seeing her walk into that classroom again, throwing her bag under the desk and starting the day’s new experiment.
“Eve!” She cries as soon as she looks up, and if Eve had been wrong about her still-active crush on Lena, she was really wrong about her crush on Miss Danvers. It’s also still alive and well.
“Lena mentioned you’d be starting today!” Kara says, wrapping Eve in another hug and then drawing back, holding Eve by the shoulders and looking her over like some kind of proud aunt. “Look at you, already going to college. Where did the time go?”
They talked about her.
“I’m going to MIT,” Eve says a little breathlessly, as Kara moves past her. “Just like Miss Luthor. I mean, Lena.”
“That’s awesome, Eve!” Kara says, leaning in to give Lena a quick peck. “Hey, love. Sorry I’m late, I had to swing by the museum for a quote.”
“It’s all right, darling.” Lena’s voice is soft and affectionate in a way that Eve never heard it when they worked at NC Prep, at least not in public. There’s open love in her gaze, and it makes Eve feel warm.
She feels even warmer when her eyes zero in on Lena’s hand, which has come up to wipe the red lipstick stain from Kara’s face – specifically, her left ring finger, where sits the biggest rock Eve has ever seen. A quick perusal of Kara’s hand reveals that she has a ring too – a flat silver band lined with diamonds, glittering in the florescent light.
When she connects the dots, she can’t stop herself from speaking.
“Oh my god, you’re engaged!”
Kara laughs, grabbing Lena’s hand and kissing her knuckles next to the ring. “We are. I told you guys I was going to marry her, didn’t I?”
Of course Eve remembers. The Mathletes end-of-year party her freshman year, when she looked out the little glass panel in the classroom door and saw the two teachers that the entire student body had been speculating about – and she had secretly been crushing on – locked in a passionate kiss. It was the single most affirming moment of Eve’s life, knowing that what she felt for girls wasn’t wrong or weird. The two people she looked up to most were just like her.
Even three years later, her entire graduating class still used to read Miss Danvers’ articles in the Tribune and look up interviews with Miss Luthor, trying to figure out if they were still together.
“You did, I remember! I just – oh, gosh, this is so exciting!” Eve trills, unable to contain her happiness. “After you two left we never stopped talking about you, we were so hoping you were still – and now – you’re getting married!”
“You all still talked about us?” Lena asks, looking deeply touched.
“Of course we did! You were so important to so many of us,” Eve says. She swallows, building up her courage to tell them something that she’s actually proud of herself for. “I…I actually started a GSA because of you. After I came out.”
Kara’s hand goes to her heart, and she looks genuinely close to tears. “Oh! Oh, that’s so great! I’m so happy, oh my gosh, come here –“
Eve manages to laugh as she gets her third hug of the day, and Lena chuckles, putting a hand on Eve’s shoulder.
“That is wonderful, Eve. I’m proud of you.”
Just those four words, from her former teacher and hero’s mouth, are almost enough to make Eve cry.
I’m proud of you. Even her own parents hadn’t said that when she got accepted to school – they had just stressed about the cost, and when Eve told them she’d gotten the scholarship, they complained that MIT was too far away to be able to visit. When Eve had broken the news about getting an internship with the most prestigious tech company in the country, they had only asked how she planned to get there every day.
But Miss Luthor and Miss Danvers are proud of her. Miss Luthor wants her here, working at L-Corp. For the first time since she got that acceptance letter from her dream school, Eve actually feels the weight of her achievement.
Lena, thankfully, seems to sense it, and she leads Eve away from Kara’s hug and towards the elevators.
“Now, if you’re done smothering my star intern, I’m going to show her to the labs. I’ll be back up in a bit, and we can go to the cake tasting, okay?”
Kara waves excitedly as they get onto the elevator, and Lena smiles at her genuinely as she presses the button for the basement level, and as Eve hears the words my star intern echo around her head, she knows with absolute certainty that this is going to be the best summer of her life.