If Lena hears “It’s a Small World” one more time, she might just murder someone, which would be kind of ironic, considering who her brother is. Out of the two of them, she never thought that she would end up being the disgraced and disowned sibling, but apparently, keeping up appearances was more important to her mother. Having no children to claim was better than having one murderer for a son and one lesbian for a daughter.
So, here she is, working in the happiest place on earth in the middle of winter, wishing she were anywhere else. She gets ready for her shift in one of the locker rooms, taking off her heels and expensive dress. Even though she no longer runs a multi-billion dollar company, she can still look like she does. Lena changes into her Jungle Cruise costume – she refused to wear the skirt and insisted on wearing pants.
(The head skipper was incredibly intimidated by her, so he allowed it.)
While she buttons her brown shirt that's a size too big, she hears whistling coming from a row over. The whistling then becomes singing.
“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears…”
Oh, dear god, no.
“It’s a world of hope and a world of fears…”
Lena’s eye twitches as she peeks her head around the corner to see who’s making that infernal racket. She wants to see the person who has become the new bane of her existence. A blonde woman, wearing nothing but a tank top and the bottom half of a character suit, possibly Pluto, stands near a bench. While the disgustingly sweet tune fills her ears, she accidentally kicks over a bottle that someone carelessly left on the floor and the woman whips her head around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
“Oh, gosh! You scared me,” she holds a hand up to her startled heart. Looking Lena up and down, she smiles. “Jungle Cruise, right? That must be fun. I tried out for that one, but they said I was a little too enthusiastic? So what if I jumped out of the boat to go play with the baby elephants? They’re adorable! I guess they figure keeping me inside of a suit is safer – in a character who doesn’t talk. I don’t really get it, considering they’re not using me to my full potential, but at least it’s a job. Plus, discounted churros!”
Lena blinks. Who the hell is this woman and when does she breathe between her sentences?
Pluto holds out her hand expectantly. “I’m Kara, it’s nice to meet you. First day?”
“Lena,” she replies simply and shakes the proffered hand, “and, yeah, how did you know?”
“Your uniform is clean and you look nervous. Don’t worry, it’ll go by quickly.”
Lena nods; she really has no interest in getting to know this woman, or anyone else, for that matter. She turns to get back to her side of the lockers, so she can finish getting ready and, hopefully, not be late for her first day as a skipper. Naturally, the locker room she’s in is clear across the park, so she has to powerwalk to her destination in Adventureland. By the time she gets there, she’s starting to sweat through her shirt, which is completely unbecoming. Her boss is standing at one of the podiums off to the side, glowering.
“You’re two minutes late, Luthor,” he says coldly.
“Sorry, James, won’t happen again,” Lena assures him. James jerks his head sideways, indicating that Lena needs to get onto the next boat that pulls up. She waits for the park guests to step onto the deck and relieves the skipper on board. The boat rocks slightly as she steps down onto the bench and takes her position near the steering wheel. Luckily, the boats are on a track, so she only has to look like she’s turning it every once in a while. James directs the children and their parents onto the boat and they file in, finding their seats. A young girl sits in the center section, right in front of Lena and grins widely.
As the boat starts to pull away, Lena picks up the radio and holds it up to her mouth. “Okay, everyone, wave goodbye to all of the nice people. It’s probably going to be the last time you’ll ever see them alive.” She monotonously directs everyone’s attention to the robot animals that move around the filthy water around them. She idly wonders how much bacteria and disease is in it, or if they toss gallons of chlorine in it.
“Look, mama, monkeys!” the girl sitting in front of Lena points out.
“Watch out for the fecal matter,” Lena deadpans. The mother looks at her incredulously and holds her daughter closer.
Lena ignores it and continues. “Oh, look, elephants.”
A boy raises his hand and Lena nods in his direction. “What kind of elephants are they?”
Lena looks over her shoulder. “Uh, African? I don’t know, kid. They’re not real.” Hushed gasps fill the air as the parents glare menacingly at Lena. Thankfully, the boat starts to pull up to the main dock again. One ride down, approximately eleven more to go until she gets her lunch break. By the time her lunch break finally does come around, one kid vomited in the boat, another had an accident, a few grandparents fell asleep, and at least a dozen adults tried to splash the water at their partners or kids and she had to yell at them.
She’s already exhausted and makes her way through the park, trying to find somewhere to eat. On her way to one of the restaurants, she recognizes a familiar cartoon dog costume and it looks like it notices her. Lena groans internally and watches the oversized orange dog bounding up toward her. The handler tries to keep up behind her, whisper-yelling at Pluto to slow down.
The dog pantomimes something at Lena, but she doesn’t quite understand.
“I don’t—I don’t get what you’re saying.”
Pluto holds up both hands in front of its body.
Pluto nods. The dog points a finger to its chest and then walks its fingers across the air and points in the direction of the locker rooms.
“You’re going to go change? You want me to wait until you go change?”
Pluto nods again enthusiastically and claps. Lena checks her watch. She’s already wasted ten minutes of her break, but agrees. She doesn’t know why she does, but she stays put while Pluto gets escorted back to the locker room, waving at each child who screams excitedly at the giant canine. Another ten minutes later, Lena sees Kara running up toward her, now wearing a t-shirt and some shorts.
“Hey, sorry I took so long. Those costumes are a giant pain to deal with. Are you done for the day?”
Lena shakes her head. “No, just on lunch.”
“Oh, shoot! I’m sorry. You don’t have much time left, come on.” Kara grabs her hand and swiftly maneuvers both of them through the crowds. They end up in the Blue Bayou restaurant and Lena stops them.
“Kara, we don’t have time to eat here. People make reservations weeks in advance.”
Kara grins and pulls her along. “I have a connection, follow me.” They walk straight inside and the hostess gives Kara a wink as they pass by. Walking right into the kitchen, Kara greets a few people and stops behind a woman.
The woman jumps and turns around. “Kara, how many times have I told you not to do that when I have sharp things in my hands?”
Kara giggles and gives Alex a hug, “Oh, this is my friend, Lena. Lena, this is my sister, Alex – the best chef in Disneyland.”
Alex ducks her head. “I wouldn’t say best. The chef a Carthay Circle is a James Beard award winner and then there’s—“
“What Alex means to say is that she’s modest, but can still cook a pretty mean steak. We’re here for lunch, but kind of in a hurry. Can you make us something?”
“You do know I have a job to do, right?” Alex says, unamused.
“Alex, please! We’re hungry,” Kara pouts. Alex rolls her eyes and has both of them wait in one of the back rooms. Kara makes small talk while they wait, asking Lena all sorts of random questions, like what her favorite ride is (Pirates of the Caribbean), her favorite park treat (Dole Whip), and how she could possibly hate Space Mountain. (“It’s like you’re in space, Lena! How is that not totally awesome?”)
“It’s dark and bumpy. I always leave with a headache,” Lena replies, frowning. Kara gives her an exasperated look, but before she can chastise Lena further, Alex walks in with a couple of dishes.
“Okay, you two, here’s lunch.” She sets down the plates in front of them and glares at Kara. “Don’t make this a habit; I can’t keep giving you free food, especially now that there’s a second mouth to feed.”
“Oh, I’m not—I don’t need hand-outs,” Lena says nervously. Even though she no longer has her family’s money, she doesn’t need to feel like she has to mooch off of people. She still has money of her own, just not the endless amounts that she used to.
Kara waves her off. “Never mind Alex, she’s always grumpy. It’s just a one-time thing, anyway. It’s Lena’s first day at the park, so I’m just trying to make it go as smoothly as possible.”
Alex huffs and mumbles at them to enjoy their meal before she retreats back into the kitchen. Kara unwraps her cutlery from her napkin and her eyes sparkle as she stares down at the food. Alex cooked them two racks of lamb, mashed potatoes, and some mixed vegetables. Lena does have to admit that it does smell delicious. They finish their meal and Kara takes their plates to the dishwasher. Lena has about ten minutes to get back to her post and Kara still needs to change.
“I can walk you back,” Kara offers.
“No, no, it’s okay. You still need to get back into your costume and I’m clear across the park. I’ll be fine.”
Kara smiles. “Okay, then. Hope you have a nice rest of your day!”
Lena smiles back politely and starts walking back to Jungle Cruise. Kara is certainly an odd person, but seems genuinely nice. And, she has to admit, her first day has been going okay and that’s mostly due to Kara’s kindness. When she gets back to the ride, she sighs and steps back into her boat. Fortunately, the rest of her day goes relatively smoothly – no bodily fluids anywhere near her, no one fell overboard, and she only had to yell at one teenager. However, at the end of the day, their team gathers for a meeting and James has some things to say about her performance.
“Lena, I heard some reports that your delivery could use a little work.”
“What are you talking about?” Lena snaps. The other skippers all stare at her – judging her, no doubt. “All of those kids had a great time, except for maybe that one who dunked his head in the water, but that wasn’t my fault. His parents should have been watching better.”
James sighs. “Look, your mother pulled a lot of strings to get you here, so if I fire you after your first day, I will most likely get an earful from the higher ups and I’d rather not have to deal with that mess. I’ll give you two choices: either resign, or get a co-skipper to help you.”
Lena hates both of those choices. She doesn’t need a babysitter, but she also doesn’t need to explain to her mother why she’s unemployed again after one day of work. In fact, she would prefer it if she never had to speak to her mother ever again. She knows how to play the system, though, and she can do it well enough to get what she wants, but also make it look like she’s caving at the same time.
“Fine,” she concedes, “but I choose who my partner is.”
James shrugs. “I guess that’s okay.”
Once they’re all excused, Lena heads back to the locker room and starts changing. A few minutes later, she hears the door open and the same cheery whistling echoes off the walls. Once Lena has her civilian clothes back on, she rounds the line of lockers and gasps when she sees Kara in only a bra and panties. She turns back around the corner quickly with her back against the cold metal of the lockers and tries to calm her heartbeat.
“Lena?” Kara calls out.
“Hey, Pluto,” Lena squeaks, also trying to keep her face from blushing by pressing them against the cold locker doors.
“How was your first day?”
“It, uh, it could have gone better,” Lena answers honestly.
Kara - thankfully, fully clothed - walks toward Lena and stops abruptly when she sees her standing on the end of the row. “Why? What happened? Did James give you a hard time?”
“I—no, not exactly. I just think that maybe I’m not cut out for a job like this.”
“What? Nonsense! I’m sure you’re a great skipper; you just need to get the first day jitters out, that’s all.”
Lena sighs, leaning back on the lockers. “I don’t know, I really don’t think this is my thing. They want me to get a co-skipper to help me out. No one else has to do that.”
Kara’s eyes light up. “Well, the fact that they’re allowing you to do that shows that they’re willing to give you another chance, right?”
“I guess so. James said I could choose who my co-skipper could be and I thought that maybe you’d like to be it.”
“Me?” Kara’s eyes widen with excitement. “Really?”
“Sure. I don’t really know anyone else and you seem… enthusiastic. I think they should give you a second chance, too.”
Kara lunges forward and wraps her arms around Lena’s shoulders, hugging her tightly. The move surprises Lena and she gets the air knocked out of her, but she wraps her arms around Kara and hugs her back. She’s not accustomed to hugging people who are practically strangers, or anyone, if she’s being honest, but she’ll be the first to completely and utterly deny that she’s been severely touch-starved ever since she and her ex broke up, and the gesture isn’t completely unwelcome.
“Thank you, Lena. You won’t regret this,” Kara beams.
It was a terrible idea. Kara is not only reckless, but she’s a very, very animated skipper. James gave her a look when she told him that Kara was going to help her on the boat and she shrugged it off, but now she’s having second thoughts.
“Oh, look out! The hippos are fluttering their ears, which means they’re going to ATTACK!” The children on the boat scream and huddle close to their parents. When they pass the native robots, Kara makes some joke about the one holding the shrunken head wanting to get ahead in life and Lena rolls her eyes off the boat and into Frontierland.
Being with Kara does take quite a lot of pressure off of her, though. Throughout the day, they trade jabs and keep the guests entertained. It’s not a bad partnership and it makes the day go by a lot faster. She and Kara take their lunch breaks together and Kara shows her all of the hidden spots to eat. Lena would never admit it out loud, but she enjoys Kara’s company.
Weeks pass and then months, their skipper partnership still going strong. At the end of one of their shifts, they get changed and always go grab a churro (Kara always gets two for herself) before heading their separate ways home. On this day, however, Kara asks if Lena wants to stay and watch the fireworks with her.
“No pressure! If you need to head home, I totally understand.”
“Sure, that sounds like fun. Can we get something a little more substantial to eat, though? I don’t think I can last until ten.”
Kara smiles and grabs Lena by the hand, dragging her off to Alex’s restaurant again. They walk up to the hostess and Kara has the biggest grin plastered on her face.
“Hey, Sam! Is Alex working right now?”
The brunette looks at her and grins. “Yep, she’s in the back. Do you need to speak with her?”
“Actually,” Kara drawls, “I was wondering if you could do me a huge favor. See, my friend Lena and I are celebrating the end of our first week of work together and we’d really love to eat here tonight. Have you had any cancellations, or anything?”
Sam looks through the thick reservation book and frowns. “No, sorry, not tonight.”
Kara deflates a little. “That’s okay, I’m sure the turkey leg cart is still out there.” She turns to leave, but Sam calls out her name. Kara winks at Lena and turns around again.
“Look, you can’t tell anyone that I did this, especially your sister. Got it?”
“My lips are sealed, Miss Arias.” Kara pulls her finger and thumb from one edge of her lips to the other and tosses an imaginary zipper behind her shoulder.
Sam directs them through the restaurant and into a secluded area in the back. They both sit down and are handed their menus.
“I’ll go tell Winn that you’re here and he’ll take your orders. Don’t make a scene.”
“I would never!” Kara says, feigning her shock. After Sam leaves, she flips open the menu and peruses their options. “I’ve had almost everything on the menu. I highly recommend their fried calamari - Alex uses the tentacles, too! And the crab hush puppies are really good. Oh, and the pastas are amazing.” Kara is practically salivating on the table.
“I might stick with a beet salad.”
“A salad,” Kara curls her lip in disgust.
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
Kara slaps her menu down onto the table. “Lena, you’re at the best restaurant in the park. You can’t eat a salad!”
“Are you salad-shaming me, Kara?”
Lena rolls her eyes and reads through the rest of the menu. In order to stop being teased by Pluto, she decides to order the seafood pasta. When Winn walks up to see what they want, Kara nearly jumps out of her chair from excitement when she hears what Lena orders.
“That’s a good choice,” she whispers excitedly. Kara orders the crab hush puppies and a ribeye steak.
While they wait, Kara bounces her legs and taps her hands on top of the table. The noise starts to drive Lena mad, so she tries to start a conversation.
“So, how long have you worked here?”
“This is my fourth year. I started out as a churro vendor and then got promoted to one of the ride overseers at Thunder Mountain. But I wanted to do more character acting, which is when I tried out for Jungle Cruise, as I mentioned before, and now I’m Pluto - or, well, I guess we’re Jungle Cruise skippers.” Her smile falters slightly, but Lena notices.
“I thought this was what you wanted,” she pries.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s like a dream come true, and working with you is a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to be one of the princesses, though - you know, like Cinderella.”
“Well, what’s stopping you?” Lena asks.
Kara shrugs. “Those women are all so beautiful. Like, you could totally be a princess.” The compliment rolls off of her tongue easily, and not at all when she meant it to. Lena ducks her head and blushes as little, so she distracts herself with her water glass. She’d always identified with Anastasia, one of the less popular princesses. Both had grown up with not much of a family, but mostly with found family, which is what Lena feels like she’s finding here, but she’s afraid it’ll all disappear just like everything good always does.
Thankfully, Winn comes shortly after with their food and interrupts Lena’s invasive thoughts. Kara grins so widely that Lena’s afraid that her jaw might unhinge itself when she stuffs the entire plate in her mouth like a snake. She starts cutting her steak into bite-sized squares and plops a chunk onto Lena’s plate. Lena gives her a strange look at the very domestic gesture, but she returns it and transfers a forkful of pasta and a couple of pieces of seafood onto Kara’s plate. Kara grins at her and stabs at a prawn, devouring it hungrily and makes the most pornographic moan that Lena’s ever heard, making her feel warm all over.
“This is so good! You made a really great choice, Lena. I approve.”
Lena laughs awkwardly and takes the bit of steak that Kara gave her into her mouth. It’s delicious and she tells Kara as much. They finish their meal quickly and Lena insists on paying again, much to Kara’s chagrin (“I can afford to pay for things, you know”). After Lena gets her credit card back, Kara quickly runs into the kitchen and gives Alex a kiss on the cheek.
“This is the last time, Kara!” she shouts after her, but Kara just waves happily at her and links her arm around Lena’s as they leave the restaurant with full bellies. The sun’s already set and the whole park is lit up. They still have a couple hours before the fireworks show, but a lot of people are already reserving their spots for the parade.
“Maybe we should save our spot,” Lena suggests, pulling Kara toward a bench.
“What? No, we don’t need to. I have a super secret spot where we can go. We have time to go on a ride. Oh! The line for It’s a Small World is short.”
God help her.
Lena groans, but allows herself to be pulled through the snaked line and they stand at the end and slowly inch their way to the front. She can already hear the annoying music coming from the ride and mentally prepares herself for fifteen minutes of the same song being repeated in various languages, while riding in a boat next to the Character Formerly Known as Pluto.
When they get up to the front, Kara jumps right into the boat and holds her hand out for Lena to take. She climbs in and they both sit down, waiting for the track to move them forward. Almost immediately, Lena regrets her decision to get on the ride when the cheery tune fills her ears and all of the little puppet children start dancing around. She can’t be too upset, though, when she notices Kara looking around with the biggest smile on her face. Kara suddenly turns to face Lena and the movement startles her.
“What is it?” Lena asks.
“You’re not singing,” Kara pouts.
“No, I’m not,” comes a reply with a quirked eyebrow.
“You have to sing, Lena! It’s, like, Disney law.”
Lena rolls her eyes and Kara just stares at her expectantly. When Kara doesn’t show any signs of relenting, Lena starts muttering the lyrics quietly.
Kara clears her throat. “They can’t hear you,” she says, gesturing toward the dancing puppets.
Lena huffs and sings a little louder and Kara joins her, her voice echoing through the tunnel. Other riders look toward their boat and start laughing, some even join in and sing with them. Truth be told, it’s probably the most fun Lena has had in a long time.
After the ride is over, Kara exits the boat and, once again, offers her hand for Lena to take. Lena climbs out and they exit the ride together. It’s just about time for the fireworks to start, so Kara guides Lena to a secluded area of the park where only employees are allowed. She nods to the person guarding the gate and they walk right through. There’s a blanket set down on a grassy area and Lena realizes that they’re behind Cinderella’s castle and there’s just enough room to be able to see both the parade and the fireworks from where they’re sitting.
A bag sits on the corner of the blanket and Kara opens it up, revealing a bread bowl with clam chowder.
“I know we just ate, but I thought we could share it,” Kara says, pulling two spoons out of the bag and handing one to Lena.
“Kara, did you plan this whole thing ahead of time?” Lena asks dubiously.
“I—well—kind of? I mean, if you didn’t want to stay, I’d at least have a good view and a bowl of clam chowder to keep me company.”
Lena smiles to herself and shakes her head. She takes a spoonful of the clam chowder and tastes it. It’s so creamy and packed full of flavor, and Kara just watches her for her reaction. Lena blushes a little and nods her approval. Kara grins and takes her own spoonful.
An announcement blares through the speakers and it signals that the parade will be starting shortly. Music rings out and people start marching through the streets – characters, floats, and performers dance around and wave at all of the children lining the sidewalks. Kara’s eyes twinkle a little brighter when a princess passes by on a float and Lena notices.
“I’m going to see you up there someday,” she tells Kara.
Kara snorts and ducks her head. “No way. You’ll make it up there way before I do.”
Lena tears away a piece of the sourdough bowl and pops it into her mouth. It boggles her mind how Kara doesn’t realize how beautiful she is. “I’ll make you a deal. We both try out to become a princess and if one of us doesn’t make it, we’ll make sure to be at every parade to cheer the other on.”
Kara sighs wistfully while watching Merida roll by. “Okay, deal.” They shake on it and Lena feels Kara’s thumb gently stroke her knuckles. She clears her throat and nervously takes her hand back. By the end of the parade, the fireworks begin. Sparks of reds and purples fly through the air. Lena looks over at Kara, who is staring up at the fireworks with a childlike look of wonder. She smiles to herself and realizes that the fireworks aren’t the only things that are coming alight. There’s something blossoming deep within Lena’s chest and she’s afraid of what it might become, so she douses it with a healthy amount of self-doubt and fear.
After the finale, they stand up and Kara folds the blanket up. She sets it down in a hidden box just outside the castle and they walk out amongst the throngs of people, all exiting at once. They head toward the employee parking lot and stop midway between both of their cars. Kara nervously kicks the gravel beneath her feet and Lena chews on her bottom lip.
“Thank you for tonight,” Lena says finally. “It’s probably been the best night I’ve had since, well, ever.”
Kara smiles and shrugs. “It’s no problem. It’s nice to finally have a friend to share these things with. Most of the employees here get tired of me, except for Sam and Alex, but they’re obligated to put up with me, since Alex is my sister and she’s dating Sam.”
Lena glances over to her left. “Well, I should probably get going, since I have to work tomorrow. You have a day off, right?”
Kara nods. “Yep. I hope you don’t burn down Jungle Cruise while I’m gone.”
Lena laughs. “I make no promises.”
Without warning, Kara wraps her arms around Lena in a hug and squeezes. It's becoming a common occurrence. She stands still, even after Kara says goodnight and walks toward her car after Kara’s no longer in eyesight. Lena spends the whole car ride home wondering how she can fake her own death, because she sure as hell isn’t ready to deal with whatever is happening.
The next day, Lena is trusted to run Jungle Cruise on her own, but James makes her promise to not tell children that they’re going to be fed to the tigers if they misbehave. Lena rolls her eyes and promises not to feed anyone to the animatronic jungle creatures. By the time her lunch break arrives, she’s about to leave the area when she sees a familiar blonde waiting for her outside of the ride area.
“Kara? I thought it was your day off.”
“It is! But I was afraid you might starve if you didn’t have me around to sneak you into places, so I brought lunch.” She holds up a pizza box and Lena wonders how she was allowed inside of the park with a whole pizza, but decides not to question it. They head toward the Tiki Room and sit down at one of the benches. Lena takes a slice of pizza out of the box and starts eating, but Kara stands up again.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m getting us Dole Whips! Didn’t you say they’re your favorite? Keep eating.”
Lena shakes her head in disbelief and continues eating while Kara stands in a long line. By the time Kara’s done ordering, Lena is full of pizza and is handed a soft serve cup and a Dole Whip float.
“Um, Kara? This is a lot. I don’t think I can eat all of that.”
“That’s okay!” Kara answers. “I wasn’t sure which one you preferred, so I got both. Whatever you don’t eat, I’ll finish it.” She grabs herself a slice of pizza and takes a sip of her float. Lena honestly has no idea how Kara can eat so much and still keep her figure; it makes her a little jealous. She only manages to eat about half of the soft serve and a third of her float, but Kara finishes everything like she said she would.
They stand up and start walking back toward Lena’s ride. Words tickle the tip of Lena’s tongue, but they never surface. Kara seems content to just be walking next to her. When they get back, Kara turns toward Lena and puts her hands in her pockets, rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet.
“So, they’re having princess try-outs next week if you’re interested. It’s on Wednesday, I think, since it’s not quite as busy mid-week. You can ask for some time off to go.”
Lena frowns slightly. She didn’t think Kara was being serious about her trying out to be a princess.
“I don’t know, Kara. I’m not some pretty blonde and I don’t want to appropriate any of the dark-haired princesses.”
Kara looks up at her. “They have wigs, and there are tons of different characters to choose from now, since Disney owns everything. Will you please come? I could use the moral support.”
Lena sighs and wonders where her backbone went. “Okay, fine, but if they can’t find a character for me, if I even make it through the auditions, you can’t bug me about it anymore.”
“Deal!” Kara exclaims excitedly and bows. “Get ready, Princess Lena.”
Lena scoffs and rolls her eyes before heading inside. “See you later, Kara.”
“That’s Princess Kara to you!”
Audition day comes sooner than Lena had expected it to and she is completely unprepared. The audition room is filled with all kinds of different people and she looks around for Kara. She finds her talking with a few other people near the back of the room and makes her way over.
“Oh, Lena! You made it.” Kara rushes over and grabs her hand, dragging her over to the people she was talking to. “This is Winn, you remember him from the restaurant, and that’s Nia and Brainy.” All of them greet her and she smiles back.
Kara pulls Lena over to the side. “So, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that you’ll get to try out for a character today. The bad news is the only one who really works for you is... Hela.”
“Hela,” Lena repeats. “The evil lady from Thor?”
“Who are you trying out for?”
“I was going to try out for Cinderella.”
Lena hums. It could be worse, she could be stuck on the It’s a Small World ride. Maybe being a villain won’t be so bad. At least she can still be grumpy while in character. They each go into their auditions one-by-one and come out looking a little less excited than when they went in.
By the time it’s Lena’s turn, she’s the last one to go in. She’s faced with a panel of four people sitting behind a desk, like a normal job interview, but there’s a stage with bright lights shining on a faded wooden floor. As she ascends the stairs to the stage, her heels clack on the ground and echoes through the stage. The people at the table smile politely, but robotically, and one of the women tells her to start whenever she’s ready.
Lena has no monologue ready. She doesn’t even know if she’s supposed to sing. Hela doesn’t sing. She glowers and throws sharp things at her brothers. Lena wishes she could throw sharp things at her brother.
With her hands wrung in front of her, Lena channels her innermost evil queen, or whatever, and glowers as hard as she possibly can, recites a monologue from one of the many Shakespeare plays that she was forced to read in school and that was that. When she’s done, Kara is waiting for her with three churros in her hands.
“Hey! How was it?” she asks excitedly, handing Lena one of the churros.
“As well as can be expected when you go into an audition without any practice or preparation.”
Lena just shrugs and walks toward the exit, chomping down on her churro with Kara running after her.
“Hey, since we have the rest of the day off, do you want to hang out?” Kara asks, taking a bite out of one of her own churros. Normally, being around someone this often would annoy Lena, but Kara has this way of making her feel comfortable whenever she’s around.
“Sure. What do you have in mind?”
Kara merely smiles.
“Universal Studios? We’re going to a rival theme park? I’m shocked, Kara.”
Kara snorts and buys their tickets online, and they start the lengthy drive toward their destination. The radio is set to some irritating pop station and Kara bops along to the songs. Lena can’t contain her smile when Kara belts out an especially loud line of lyrics.
When they arrive, Kara heads straight for Harry Potter World to get each of them sorted. Kara, naturally, is a Hufflepuff, but Lena was more difficult to sort. The obvious choice would have been Slytherin, but the sorting cap settles on Ravenclaw.
“I knew it!” Kara exclaims.
Lena rolls her eyes. “How? I feel more like a Slytherin most days.”
“Well, you’re, like, super smart and I’ve seen all of the books in your locker, so you must like to read. Also, having a double major in bioengineering and molecular biology is nothing to laugh about.”
“How did you know about that?” Lena asks. She made sure not to talk about herself much, to make things easier when she eventually leaves, because there’s no way she’s going to work at Disneyland forever. Her mother will forgive her, eventually, and give her back the company - at least, that’s what she tells herself.
“I, um, maybe kinda sorta Googled you,” Kara admits. Lena scoffs and puts her hands on her hips. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to pry into your life,” Kara continues. “It’s just that Alex and Sam kept telling me how much of a big deal you are, but I only knew you as Lena, the disgruntled Jungle Cruise skipper. None of that even matters to me, anyway. I just like hanging out with you and talking to you.”
Lena turns back and looks at Kara, who gives her an apologetic smile. She has no idea when she became so soft, but the little crinkle between Kara’s eyebrows melts her cold, dead heart and she instantly forgives her.
“I guess it’s not exactly a secret. I wasn’t trying to hide who I am, just not make it widely known. It was kind of nice that you didn’t treat me like some spoiled rich girl.”
“I’d never do that,” Kara says, handing one of the butterbeers in her hands over to her. Lena takes it and sips the disgustingly sweet beverage.
“So, why Disneyland?” Kara asks after taking a sip of her own butterbeer.
“Hm?” Lena responds dumbly.
“Why would Lena Luthor work at a place like Disneyland?”
Lena sighs. “My family kind of owns Disney. My mother, she—she’s not happy with my... lifestyle. I wasn't exactly subtle with my last girlfriend, so she bought me out of the company and shipped me off to the happiest place on Earth as some sort of punishment. I think she wanted to embarrass me the way she says I embarrassed her.”
Kara thinks for a moment. “Well, I’ll consider myself lucky, then.” Lena gives her a questioning look, so she explains. “If your mother hadn’t had a vendetta against you, you and I never would have met! And I’d like to think that your life is a little more exciting now that I’m in it.”
Lena laughs. “Well, it’s certainly more entertaining.”
Kara beams at her as they walk down Diagon Alley and stop in front of a shop. Kara gasps and grasps onto Lena’s arm.
“We have to go pick out our wands!”
Lena stares at her, but says nothing, and Kara looks back at her expectantly.
“Oh, you’re serious. Come on, then.” They chug the rest of their butterbeers and walk into the shop. After perusing the stacks and stacks of wands, they each pick one out and Lena insists on buying Kara’s. The rest of the time they spend there, Kara waves it around at everything they see and spouts our random spells. Lena laughs every time and temporarily forgets that she’s supposed to be building walls around her heart, not letting Kara demolish them.
At the end of the day, they’re dead tired and drive back to Anaheim. Kara drops Lena off at her apartment.
“I’d ask you if you wanted to come up, but I know it’s late and we have work tomorrow,” Lena says regretfully.
“Next time,” Kara replies with a grin.
Lena nods and heads toward the front door of her apartment complex.
“Hey, Lena,” Kara calls out.
She pauses and turns around.
“Reparo,” Kara says as she waves her wand and flicks her wrist a la Hermione Granger.
“What was that?”
Kara smiles again. “A repair spell, to fix anything. I’m fixing anything that might be broken.”
Lena’s confused smile falters. That could literally be anything - her relationship with her mother and brother, her confidence and self-esteem, her entire life. The small, innocent gesture does make her feel a little better, so she puts a smile back on her face and nods before entering the building. She decides that Kara could be repairing her broken shell of a heart.
The results of the auditions come out the next week and they’re posted all over the locker rooms. By the time Lena gets there, Kara is already bouncing up and down and pulling Lena toward the sheet of paper that’s taped to one of the walls.
Lena scans the names and sees Kara’s written next to Cinderella and she grins so widely that she thinks her mouth might split wide open.
“Kara! I’m so proud of you.”
Kara furrows her brow. “What? No, not that. Keep reading.”
Lena continues reading through the names until she finds hers next to Hela and she lets out a small gasp and looks at Kara, who’s beaming at her.
“I got it?”
Kara nods emphatically.
“Oh my god, I got it!”
“I knew you would,” Kara says proudly. Lena feels her chest swell when she hears the words out of Kara’s mouth. No one had ever believed in her as much as Kara and it made her feel strange. This girl, whom she hasn’t known for very long, believes in her more than her family ever has. She feels more at home here, with Kara, than she did at Luthor Manor. She doesn’t realize she’s crying until Kara places a hand on her shoulder and asks her if she’s all right. Lena nods and wipes her face with both hands and laughs.
“Thank you for believing in me,” she chokes out.
Kara waves her off. “You don’t have to thank me. I knew you’d get it. You’re amazing.”
Lena almost kisses her then and there, but resists. She doesn’t want to blame it on being emotional if things don’t go the way she wants, if Kara doesn’t feel the same way. She can’t lose this, too. So, they finish getting ready and go off to start their last day as Jungle Cruise co-skippers.
“We have to have a celebration dinner,” Kara insists. “We can invite Alex and Winn, and Nia and Brainy, and Sam. The whole gang should come!”
“That sounds like a good idea. Where should we go?”
Kara holds her chin with her thumb and forefinger. “Well, we usually have game nights once a month and this month’s is coming up, so we could kill two birds with one stone. I usually host at my apartment, so we could just do it there. What do you think?”
Lena suddenly realizes how intimidating the idea is, having to be around all of Kara’s friends and her sister, being the new girl. But she really wants to spend more time with Kara, so she agrees.
Kara spends her entire day off preparing for the celebration, cleaning her apartment from top to bottom, ordering food, making sure there’s enough drinks to last all night, fluffing her pillows, re-fluffing her pillows after she’s taken a nap, and she doesn’t stop until she receives a text from Lena, asking if she needs to bring anything.
Nope, just your beautiful self, Kara replies, which she immediately regrets and wishes she could recall text messages. Lena responds with a thumbs up emoji and Kara groans. By the time the first few guests arrive, everything seems to be in place. Stacks of board games sit on Kara’s coffee table. Alex and Sam arrive next with a couple bottles of wine. Lena’s the last to show up and Kara absolutely wasn’t checking her watch every five minutes until she did.
“Hey!” Kara yells a little too loudly when she opens her door. “Look everyone, Lena’s here.” The crowd all greets her in unison and Kara ushers her through the door. Lena sets down her bag and Kara takes her coat and hangs it on a hook in the hallway. “We were about to start a game of Cards Against Humanity if you want to join.”
“Oh, that’s okay, you go ahead. I’ll watch,” Lena replies. Nia and Brainy give up their seats and move to the floor, so that Lena and Kara can sit down. Nia gives Kara a wink as Kara takes her seat. The games they play are entertaining and there’s laughter that fills the room. They take a short break for food and Alex pulls Kara into the kitchen.
“So, when were you going to tell me that you and Lena are dating?”
“What?” Kara scoffs and says in a hushed tone, “We aren’t dating!”
Alex gives Kara a look that says she doesn’t believe a single thing that’s coming out of Kara’s mouth. “Oh, come on. You’ve been dating for weeks. Sam and I have been making bets on how long it’ll take before the two of you realize it.”
“What do you mean we’ve been dating for weeks?”
“Kara, how many times have you taken her to my restaurant - one that’s reservation-only and usually costs at least forty dollars a plate?”
“I don’t know, a lot?”
“Ten times, Kara. And you’ve shared Dole Whips, which is clearly a date thing, and you always have churros ready for her.”
“Okay, but that’s only because Brainy gives them to me for free.”
“And didn’t you two watch the parade and fireworks together in the spot employees take all of their dates?”
“It was a friendly picnic!”
Alex rolls her eyes. “Whatever. What I’m saying is the two of you have been inseparable for weeks, maybe even months by now. You eat every meal together and spend all of your free time together. Hell, you come in on your days off just to see her. You’re so obviously into her.”
Kara sputters on her words and stuffs a potsticker into her mouth, pouting. She isn’t into Lena. They’re just friends. Good friends. Friends who hug a lot and smile at each other a lot and she likes talking to Lena and really likes looking at her jawline and lips and oh god she’s in love with her friend.
“No. No no no no no. This can’t be happening.”
“It’s already happening, Kar.”
“I-I can’t! Alex, what do I do? I can’t be in love with her. I’m, I’m Cinderella and she’s Hela. We’d never work out! Hela would murder Cinderella and all of her animal friends in a second. This is a nightmare.”
“Are you seriously basing your relationship on your characters’ compatibility?”
“No!” Kara huffs. “I mean, have you seen her? She’s gorgeous. What would she possibly get from being with someone like me? I’m a nobody. I sing pop songs in the car and eat enough food to feed an NFL team and she’s the former CEO of LuthorCorp and probably had her own private jet at some point in her life. She could do so much better.”
Alex slides closer to Kara and puts an arm around her. “Why don’t you let her decide that? Don’t make decisions for her when you don’t know what she’s even thinking.”
“Well, she probably isn’t thinking that we’ve been dating for the past three months,” Kara says exasperatedly.
Alex snorts and looks over at Sam, who gives her a wink. “Listen, just take it slow and relax. You two have fun together and she seems to like you enough. See where things go.” She leaves Kara’s side to go join Sam, who appears to be setting up the board for Monopoly.
“So, you want to leave Kara’s apartment with no friends, I see,” Alex teases.
Sam rolls her eyes. “Hey, this is the only board game that I’m good at. How about you, Lena? Want to play?”
Lena stares at the game and shrugs. “Sure, why not?”
Hours later, Sam has most of her properties mortgaged and is on her last few dollars, while Nia and Brainy have already given up, Winn is asleep on the other couch, and Lena smiles at her stacks of bills and hotel properties.
“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m losing,” Sam says.
“You do realize that you’re playing against a former CEO, right?” Kara says with a laugh. “She’s also kind of a genius, so probably knows how to win at anything.”
Lena’s face flushes and she takes a sip of wine to try and blame the redness on that.
“So? I have a four-year winning streak!” Sam complains, rolling the dice extra hard until they roll completely off of the table.
“Looks like Lena's about to break it, babe,” Alex smirks.
“It appears that you have rolled on ‘go to jail’ once more,” Brainy notices.
At the end of the night, after everyone else has gone home, Lena stays behind to help Kara clean up.
“You didn’t need to help,” Kara says, “I would have made Alex come back in the morning.”
“It’s no big deal,” Lena shrugs. “I’m happy to do it.” They continue cleaning in companionable silence until Kara starts humming. She recognizes the tune as a song they listened to on the way to Universal Studios. Kara mentioned that it was one of her favorites.
“Are you ready to evil queen it up tomorrow?” Kara asks from across the room.
“I’m a little nervous, to be honest,” Lena replies, wiping down the coffee table with a wet towel.
“You’re going to be great. If you don’t give at least one kid nightmares, I’ll be totally surprised.”
Lena barks out a laugh and gathers a bunch of empty bottles in her hands to toss into the recycling.
“How about you? Are you ready?”
Kara twirls in a circle and dramatically flips her hair. “I was born ready.”
Lena rolls her eyes and chuckles to herself. They finally finish cleaning up the apartment and Kara sends Lena home with a few containers of food after Lena had mentioned that she really liked the potstickers. Lena lingers in the doorway for a few seconds before turning back around to face Kara. Without thinking, she throws her arms around Kara’s broad shoulders and kisses her on the cheek. Kara stands frozen in place and gulps. When she doesn’t say anything, Lena quickly says goodnight and rushes down the hallway.
“Goodnight,” Kara replies, but Lena is already long gone. “Crap.”
The next few days are busy with princess training and Kara doesn’t hear from Lena at all. She still sends the odd text, sending a few photos of herself in her poofy princess dress and another of herself and Winn, who’s dressed as Prince Charming. At the end of the week, when Kara still hasn’t heard back from Lena, she frowns and waits for her in the locker room. When she never shows up, she tries calling and nothing, no answer.
Kara’s had it. She’s determined to find out why Lena’s ghosting her. Is that what that’s called? She has no idea, but she doesn’t like it, whatever it is. She gets to work early and quickly changes into her costume. She sneaks into the side of the park where Lena works and tries to avoid children as much as possible. She spots Lena standing with a beefy Thor actor and makes her way over. She hides behind a trashcan and makes odd sounds until Lena turns around.
“Kara? What are you doing here?” Lena hisses under her breath as she walks over to the trashcan.
“You weren’t returning my calls or answering my texts. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine. You should get back. If you get caught, they’ll fire you.”
“Can we at least meet for lunch? Please?”
“Yes, okay fine, now go,” Lena shoos her away and Kara finally leaves and heads back to her area. She does her best to not overthink Lena’s behavior and put on a charming smile for the kids, but even Winn can tell something is up.
“What’s going on with you today?” he whispers.
“Nothing, I’m fine,” she replies, signing another child’s autograph book, giving a tight-lipped smile as she hands it back. Kara knows that her answer isn’t believable, but she’s grateful that Winn doesn’t push any further. By the time lunch comes around, she races back to Lena’s station, but she’s already gone. She asks Thor where she went, but he just shrugs. What a useless god of thunder.
She rushes around and looks in all of the places where they’ve eaten in case Lena’s there, but she wasn’t anywhere. The last place she checks is the locker room and Kara stands in front of Lena’s locker. Part of her wants to open it, but the other tells herself that it’s a huge breach of privacy. She quickly whips open the locker door and peeks in, but it’s completely empty. Kara takes a step back and feels her heart start to beat faster. She runs out and back toward where Lena’s supposed to be working, but she only sees Thor.
“Where’s Lena?” she demands.
“Oh, uh, hello there, princess,” he waves and then whispers harshly under his breath. “Stay in character. Do you want to get me fired?”
Kara rolls her eyes She is not above punching a god in the mouth. “Mighty Thor, have you seen your sister, Hela?”
Thor smiles nervously. “Nay, I have not. She did not return after her meal, but she left you this parchment of paper and told me that if I did not give it to you, she would shove Ant-Man where the sun did not shine.” He hands her an envelope and Kara snatches it out of his hands. She rips it open and reads through the letter. The words blur together, but the gist is that Lena accepted a job from her mother and didn’t have time to say goodbye, that this job was always only temporary, and that she was sorry. There’s a tightness in Kara’s chest and she can’t breathe. She runs straight for the Blue Bayou and into the kitchen. One of the sous chefs nudges Alex and she looks at Kara, who is hunched over and sobbing.
“Kara? What happened?”
“Lena, she—“ Kara gasps back another sob. “She’s gone.”
“What do you mean she’s gone?” Kara shoves the letter into Alex’s hands and her sister reads it through, frowning the entire time.
“I knew she would do this. I just… I knew it. I’m so sorry, Kara.” Alex wraps her arms around Kara and squeezes.
“She kissed me on the cheek the night after the celebration and I froze. I think I messed up. She didn’t talk to me for days after that and I had to chase her down to finally speak to me again. And now this. She’s running away.”
“You don’t know that,” Alex says, trying to console her.
“Then what explanation is there? Why would she just leave without saying anything?”
Alex shakes her head. “I don’t know. Maybe her mother wouldn’t allow it. Didn’t you say that the reason why she was working here in the first place was because her mother couldn’t stand the idea of having a gay child?”
Kara nods and more tears fall down her reddened cheeks. “I just—I just can’t believe she would willingly go back to that life. She wouldn’t bend to her mother’s will just to have a cushy job and a penthouse apartment. She wouldn’t do that.”
After a few seconds, Alex nudges Kara with her shoulder. “You know, National City isn’t that far away. You’ve still got a lot of annual leave saved up, too, don’t you?”
Kara understands what her sister is telling her and nods, wiping her face. She e-mails her supervisor and tells her she won’t be coming in for a few days and packs a bag. She smiles confidently at Alex, who smiles back at her and tells her sister to go get the girl.
Lena sits behind a thick, reinforced desk, paperwork piled high on the corner of it. It hadn’t taken her long to get back into the swing of things. The media had explained her extended absence as her acting as a liaison between LuthorCorp and Disney while the buy-out was finalized. Surprisingly, no media outlets had gotten any leaks that she’d actually been an employee at Disneyland for those few months. She’d thought about thanking her mother for preserving her reputation, but she knew it was just as much for her as it was for Lena’s sake. They’d be the laughing stock of the business world if people knew, just like they’d be the laughing stock if people knew she had fallen for her coworker with ridiculous eating habits and far too many pop songs on her playlists. As a condition of her new LuthorCorp contract, she was not to make her love life public. Her mother told her that if she dared go public with her indiscretions, she’d be back on her own again.
Deep down, Lena knew that she was running. She always did. But once she felt Kara freeze in front of her when she barely pressed her lips to the blonde’s cheek, she knew. Kara didn’t feel the same way. If that was her reaction to an innocent display of affection, there was no way she’d react any differently to something more. So, she ran. It was easier that way. Her mother would be happy, at least, and she’d be, well, she would be okay. Eventually.
A knock on her door interrupts her pity party and she answers without looking up. “Jess, I told you I wasn’t to be disturbed.”
“Something tells me you haven’t eaten at all today,” the familiar voice says.
Lena drops her pen onto her desk and it rolls across her papers, away from her. Her heart clenches when she hears Kara’s voice and she looks up.
“Hey,” she says with a crooked grin. “Your assistant seems nice.”
“How did you get her to let you in?”
Kara’s trademark smile spreads across her face. “I guess I’m just far too charming to resist.”
Lena shakes her head in disbelief. If Jess wasn’t such a loyal employee, and Lena’s only friend in National City, Lena would’ve fired her on the spot. Kara takes another step forward, taking everything in.
“So, this is what a CEO’s office looks like.”
Lena scoffs. “Yes, I suppose so.” A beat passes. “Kara, why are you here?”
“You didn’t say goodbye.”
“Do you chase around every former coworker who doesn’t say goodbye to you?”
Kara shrugs. “Only the special ones.”
Lena looks away momentarily, not wanting to let Kara see that her words affected her. She purses her lips and sets her jaw. She has to remember the reason why she left. She has to protect herself.
“Well, as much as I appreciate you coming all this way, I have to apologize for cutting this meeting short. I have a conference call in a few minutes.”
“I can wait,” Kara replies easily, as if she has all the time in the world to give to Lena.
“It may take hours,” Lena tries again.
“That’s okay. I can go exploring. I’ve never been to National City before.”
God, why was Kara so persistent?
“Kara—“ Lena sighs deeply. It was better this way. “I can’t do this. I didn’t say goodbye, because I didn’t want to. Disneyland was always temporary, you knew that. I’m meant for far greater things than being a stupid skipper or some character who deals with kids all day. I’m running a multi-billion dollar company now. I have thousands of employees under me, who answer to me. I can make a much bigger difference here.”
Kara recoils, listening to Lena talk about the same job that she has as if it’s the worst thing in the world. “What are you doing, Lena?”
“Did you think we were going to be besties forever? Share churros every day? Play dress-up and pretend to be people we’re not? Come on, Kara. You knew I didn’t belong there. I have a grown-up job now. This, this is where I belong.”
Kara stares at the floor, brow furrowed. “You belong back in the closet? I’m assuming your mother added some clause to your contract or made it a condition of letting you back in here. I mean, you talk about pretending to be someone you’re not and look at what you’re doing now. You’re better than this, Lena. You’re so smart. You could do anything you wanted. You could start your own business! You don’t need LuthorCorp or your mother.”
“You don’t know anything about me,” Lena replies, voice full of contempt.
“I know enough,” Kara replies. “And I know this isn’t you. You’re not the villain you think you are.” She turns on her heel and leaves Lena’s office, shutting the door behind her.
Lena lets out a deep, painful, breath and lays her head in her hands. What did she just do? She picks up the receiver on her phone and dials a number.
“Jess, can you come in here for a minute? I need some advice.”
“So? How did it go?” Alex asks.
Kara arrived back in Anaheim a couple days later and went directly to Alex’s apartment, to tell her what happened; Sam was there visiting, too.
“How do you think it went? She basically told me that we were never friends and that she was always planning on leaving. She called the job playing dress-up and pretending.”
“Luthors,” Sam sneers.
“She’s not like them, though. I know she isn’t,” Kara argues.
“Look, I know you like her, but maybe she’s just too corporate. Let’s face it, she was never meant to be a Disneyland employee,” Alex say, placing a gentle hand on Kara’s shoulder. “Honestly, you aren’t either. I know you love it, but is it something you want to do for the rest of your life?”
Kara shrugs. She’d never really thought about the future, but Alex is right. Disneyland was never part of her ten-year plan. “I don’t know, but I’m really good at it.”
“What about journalism?” Sam adds. “Didn’t you go to school for that?”
“I did,” Kara replies. Now, that had been part of her plan. She went to school to become a journalist and she thought she had it all figured out. She’d get her degree, start off as an intern or as a junior reporter, maybe something local, but then her adoptive father passed away and she moved back home to Midvale to take care of her and Alex’s mother. Everything got put on hold. By the time she was able to move back to California, she felt it was too late for her to start her career, so Alex got her a job at the park and she’s been there ever since.
“You know, it isn’t too late. I know you think it is, but you’re still young. You could do something local here or move to Metropolis, become that reporter you’ve always wanted to be,” Alex tells her.
“Like Clark?” Kara lights up.
“Like Clark,” Alex repeats, smiling.
“Is he still seeing that Lois woman?” Sam asks.
“Why do you care?” Alex asks, affronted.
Sam shrugs. “Just wondering.” She winks at Alex and gives her a playful nudge, wagging her eyebrows until Alex bursts into laughter.
Kara looks at both of them quizzically and then her eyes widen. “My cousin’s girlfriend is off-limits, you two. I can’t believe you!”
Sam and Alex continue laughing.
At the end of the week, Kara makes her decision to pursue journalism and asks Clark if he has any leads on internships and it just so happens that the Daily Planet is looking for some. There’s even a mentorship program and Clark says he can take her under his wing and show her the ropes. It’s a huge opportunity and Kara would regret not taking it. She puts in her two weeks notice and her supervisor tells her that she’s allowing Kara to be in the parade on her last day and Kara can’t believe it. She tells Alex right away and the entire kitchen erupts into cheers.
It takes Kara the full two weeks to pack up her apartment, getting ready for her cross-country move and she hasn’t spoken or heard from Lena at all. She misses her, but she knows she has to let her go. Metropolis is going to be a new beginning, so it’s time to put the princesses behind her.
The rest of the week flies by quickly and Kara has her car all packed up and ready to go right after the parade is over. She wants to get a good head start to Metropolis. Alex has decided to go with her, at least up to Midvale to visit their mom, and she’ll make her way back to Anaheim on her own.
Kara gets ready in the locker room and looks around, sighing. It’s odd how a dirty, old locker room can hold so many memories, but this is where Pluto and the grumpy Jungle Cruise skipper met. Kara walks over to where Lena’s locker is and opens it again, actually looking inside this time. Lena never kept much in there, but Kara sees something on one of the shelves. She pulls it out and holds it in her hand, realizing that it’s the ticket stub to Universal Studios. Her eyes pan over to the door of the locker and Kara sees a calendar. Looking closer, she sees that every square is filled in with whenever she and Lena ate together, which was practically every day. Lena had written where and what they ate and she’d circled certain days, like when they watched the fireworks together. The ache in her chest becomes so intense that she has to sit down and remember to breathe. She checks the clock and she has fifteen minutes before the parade starts, so she picks herself back up, checks her costume, and heads out.
Lena pushes her way through the crowd, which is really hard in five-inch heels, and makes her way to the Blue Bayou, right past Sam who yells at her to stop, but Lena keeps walking. She heads toward the kitchen and finds Alex, who’s chopping up some vegetables for a mirepoix. The second she sees Lena, her grip on the knife tightens.
“Where’s Kara? I need to talk to her.”
Alex narrows her eyes and quirks an eyebrow when she sees what Lena’s wearing. Who in their right mind wears Alexander McQueen to Disneyland? “I don’t think she wants to speak to you.”
“Alex, please. I fucked up. I said some really awful things to her the last time we spoke and I need to apologize.”
“Yeah, I know. You really did a number on her. Telling her that her job was playing dress-up and basically telling her she was going nowhere. Do you know how hard she worked to get here? What she gave up?” Alex waves her hands around in the air with the knife still in one of them.
“No, I-I don’t.”
“Yeah, because you never bothered to ask about her, did you? She knew everything about you, but you didn’t even know her. Anyway, it won’t matter much longer. She’s leaving.”
“What do you mean she’s leaving?”
“I mean she’s leaving. Whatever you told her she took to heart. She’s moving to Metropolis to become a journalist.”
Lena takes a step back, head shaking and tears forming in the corners of her eyes. “No.”
Alex sighs and takes pity on her. “She’s in tonight’s parade, as a sort of send-off, or whatever. You can probably still catch her.”
“Thank you, Alex. Thank you,” Lena runs back out of the restaurant and hears Sam yell good luck at her as she leaves.
The sidewalks are littered with people and there’s barely enough room to get by any of them, but Lena keeps squeezing through. Music comes through the speakers and Lena recognizes it as the music that plays when the parade is about to start. She takes off her heels and climbs onto a railing, balancing herself with a lamp post. One of the park employees tries to tell her to get down, but she throws random bills at her to shut him up. Float after float passes by and Kara’s not on any of them. She’s about to lose hope, but then bringing up the rear is Cinderella’s pumpkin float and Kara’s at the very top of it. She’s smiling and waving at everyone, blowing kisses to the children. Winn is standing next to her, looking around and smiling. He sees Lena and his smile falters. He whispers something to Kara, who looks in her direction and freezes. She continues waving and looking around the park, but her eyes keep focusing back on Lena until the float passes her. Lena climbs off of the railing and follows the float down the street, heels in her hands, and her pantyhose most likely ripping under her feet. Wearing heels and a tight dress probably wasn’t the brightest idea, but she didn’t have time to change. She tries to maneuver through the crowd without knocking over small children, but the floats move faster than expected. Some sacrifices may have to be made.
When she gets to the end of the parade, security guards stop her at the barrier.
“Wait, I just need to—Kara!”
Kara turns around suddenly and sees Lena being held back by the guards. She jumps off of the float after giving Winn a conniption and runs over to Lena.
“Let her through, she used to work here.”
“But she doesn’t anymore,” one of the guards says.
“Then she’s my guest,” Kara continues arguing.
“Sorry, Kara, we can’t let her through.”
Kara huffs. “Fine.” She looks at Lena, “Wait here. I’m going to change and then I’ll come back. I’m still mad at you, by the way. And, um, nice dress.”
The guards look at both of them and ooo at Lena.
“Shut up,” Lena snaps back at them. The guards chuckle and relax a little.
Fifteen minutes later, Kara comes back, dressed in jeans and a sweater. “Thanks boys, I can take it from here,” she jokes.
“Have a nice night, you two,” one of them says.
Lena and Kara head toward the exit.
“I’m supposed to be heading toward Metropolis right now, you know,” Kara says. “You’re throwing my schedule all off.”
“I’m sorry,” Lena replies, apologizing for more than making Kara late.
“It’s fine. Do you want to get a drink?” Lena nods. They head toward Downtown Disney and past it to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. The hostess recognizes Lena and lets them in right away, even though there’s a line formed outside. Kara raises an eyebrow at her.
“I still have a lot of connections,” Lena shrugs.
They get seated and handed menus. Kara buries her nose in it, because she really doesn’t want to deal with whatever it is that Lena is there to say, because whatever it is, it will most likely make Kara change her mind about Metropolis and everything she’s already planned.
“Yeah?” Kara says from behind the menu. Lena pushes it down, so that she can see the blonde’s face.
“Can you look at me?”
Kara slaps the menu down onto the table and looks up at Lena with a flash of anger in her eyes. Lena swallows thickly, seeing how angry Kara is at her.
“Why are you here, Lena?”
“I’m… having a drink with you?”
“No—“ Kara sighs and adjusts her glasses. “I mean, why are you here? Why did you come?”
“Well, we had a deal. If one of us made it into the parade, the other was supposed to be there to cheer them on.”
Kara looks at her skeptically. “There’s no way you could have known I’d be up there, though. Only Alex and Winn knew and you don’t have their contact information.”
“Okay, fine, I asked my assistant for some advice after you left my office and she suggested that I come and tell you how I feel before it’s too late, so when I got here, I asked Alex where you wer—“
“Wait. You had to ask your assistant what to do? So, you’re not even here on your own volition?” Kara asks incredulously.
“No, I am. I, I’m new to all of this, Kara. I don’t make friends easily.”
“I thought we weren’t friends,” Kara replies harshly.
Lena exhales in frustration. She knew this would be hard, but Kara’s definitely not making it any easier on her. “I said a lot of things I regret that day. That’s one of them. I’d convinced myself that making a clean break and just leaving would make things easier, but I was wrong.”
“I still don’t understand why you did it,” Kara says, looking down at her hands.
“How can you not know? That night at your apartment, when I kissed you on the cheek, you froze. I thought that meant you felt awkward and didn’t feel the same, so I felt embarrassed. It’s why I didn’t talk to you afterwards.”
“I thought it was because you had second thoughts, and then you took your mother’s offer and decided to hide who you are. I thought—I don’t know what I thought. I guess I figured that I scared you back into the closet.”
Lena laughs humorlessly. “We’re pretty useless, aren’t we?”
“Yeah, I guess we are.”
“To be clear, I really—“ Lena’s interrupted by the waitress who’s there to take their orders. They both order a drink each and Kara orders some food (“They have potstickers, Lena!”), but Lena’s admission dies on the tip of her tongue.
“So, Metropolis, huh?” Lena asks, trying to jumpstart their conversation back up.
Kara nods. “My cousin works for the Daily Planet and I’m going to intern with him. I’m finally going to become a journalist.”
“I thought that being a Disney princess was your dream,” Lena replies.
“That’s… that’s not a realistic long term goal. I should be starting a career, figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I got to be a princess for a little while, so I did what I set out to do. Now I can get a grown-up job.”
Lena winces at her own words being tossed back at her. “Kara, I didn’t mean any of that. I was way out of line, I’m sorry.”
“You were right, though. Besides, I went to school for journalism, but life happened and I had to put it on hold. It was my original dream.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“I don’t know. Until the end of the internship, or if they offer me a job, maybe indefinitely.”
Lena begins to panic. She realizes that they’re not actually in any sort of relationship, because she’s already ruined that opportunity, but Kara’s here now and she’s about to leave. Sure, she could use her private jet to fly back and forth, but her mother would eventually catch on.
“I don’t… I don’t want you to g—“
The waitress comes with their drinks and food. She has the worst timing. Kara stuffs an entire potsticker in her mouth and closes her eyes.
“Gosh, these are so good. Do you want to try one?” Kara lifts the plate and offers it to Lena.
Lena shakes her head. “No, thank you. Kara, listen—“
“Oh man, this ponzu sauce is to die for. You’re really missing out.”
“Kara, listen to me,” Lena tries again.
“Oh wow, and this drink?”
Kara stops suddenly, eyes wide. “What?”
Lena takes a deep breath. “I need you to listen to me and, please, no interruptions.” Kara’s mouth snaps shut as she was about to interrupt her. “I’ve had feelings for you for a while now, probably since we first met, but all it did was remind me why I was sent here in the first place. I felt shame and I thought that if I could just show my mother that I could do this job, I’d make her proud enough to give me back the company. I never expected to meet you, this ridiculous Pluto who was obsessed with It’s a Small World but it was kind of cute in an irritating sort of way. And I couldn’t stop myself from developing feelings for you, either, but I tried to push those feelings down and ignore them, anyway, until I couldn’t do it anymore. Then, when you didn’t react to me kissing you on the cheek, I felt even more shame, and that night, my mother called me and offered me my position back at LuthorCorp, said I had ‘done my time.’ I didn’t think I had anything to lose by going back, but it turns out that I did.
”I’m not trying to convince you to give up your dream of becoming a reporter for me, but I may be a little selfish by asking you to stay. I have connections in National City that I could hook you up with. Cat Grant is a friend and I know that she’s always looking for talented reporters. I can put in a good word. But—but, obviously, if you want to intern with your cousin, you absolutely should. I’m sure that opportunity is just as good. I just really want to be near you, is all, and I could always fly over there—if you want to see me, that is, and, oh god, I’m rambling, why aren’t you saying anything?”
Kara waits a few seconds to make sure Lena’s finished. “You told me not to interrupt. Is it okay if I talk now?” Lena nods. “So, um, that was a lot.” Kara takes out her phone and starts reading something. “Sorry, I took notes. Okay! First, you think I’m cute?”
“Irritatingly cute, like Olaf from Frozen or a grandmother who knits you Christmas sweaters and forces you to wear it in front of her, but it’s itchy, but you don’t want to make her feel bad, so you wear the itchy sweater to appease her.”
Kara grins and looks back at her phone. “Okay, Lena thinks I’m cute. Next! You have feelings for me?”
“You’re doing all of the difficult ones first,” Lena whines. “Yes, Kara, I have feelings for you. Don’t make a big deal out of it.”
Kara bats her eyelashes. “Lena loves me. Got it.”
Lena groans loudly.
They continue talking about everything Lena said. Kara calls Clark and tells him that she’s going to postpone her trip to Metropolis to see if this new thing in National City pans out. Lena immediately sends an e-mail to Cat Grant, asking for a favor.
After Kara eats four plates of potstickers all by herself (she shared one with Lena), Lena pays for everything, as usual, and they start walking back.
“Can we have a do-over?” Kara blurts out.
Kara nods. “A kiss do-over. I kinda flubbed the first one.”
Lena chuckles and stops walking, pulling Kara over to a bridge with lights that are lit up just right. She cups one of Kara’s cheeks and leans in, brushing their lips against one other. The kiss is gentle but it’s a little awkward, because it turns out that Lena's aim isn’t the best and she kind of came in at the wrong angle, but it’s still perfect and makes her feel warm all over and she doesn’t ever want it to end, but it does, because they’re interrupted by—
It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hopes, and a world of fears
“Really? That’s your ringtone?”
Kara grins sheepishly and answers it.
“Hey, Alex. No, I haven’t left yet, I’m with Lena. Yeah, she found me. Actually, I need to talk to you about that later. No, you didn’t interrupt anything! Gross, Alex. Okay, I’m hanging up now, bye!” She puts her phone back in her pocket. “Sorry about that.”
“What did Alex say?” Lena asks with a smirk.
“She, uh, she asked if I’ve discovered your magical kingdom yet.”
Lena snorts. She actually, literally, snorts. “Oh my god. Who knew your sister had a sense of humor?”
Kara huffs. “She does when she’s teasing me.”
They walk back through Downtown Disney and Kara buys them churros. They sit down on an empty bench and people watch for a while, nibbling on their sugary treats.
“I hope you know you’ve always been a princess to me,” Kara whispers.
“What?” Lena says with a mouthful of churro.
“You’ve never been a villain, only a princess, except one of the badass ones like Merida or Moana. You don’t need no man.”
“You’re such a dork,” Lena laughs.
“But you love me,” Kara grins and pops the rest of her second churro in her mouth.
Yeah, yeah she does.