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Alone Tonight

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Kara hasn't had the time to enjoy herself in quite a while. Thanks to all the craziness at the DEO, she's been focused on trying to keep interstellar peace, which is a lot for her to shoulder. Not to mention her friendship with Lena is most likely finished. Not even drawing or painting has pulled her out of her slump, so Kara decides to take a weekend for herself. The DEO can manage without her for a few days, Alex assures her.

A new suit, new bangs, new Kara. She feels terrible for lying to Lena for so long, and sometimes she wishes she could go back to when she wasn't using her powers. The responsibility can be crushing and she's worn down because of all the secrets she has had to keep.

She flies around National City for a while, then notices that there's a carnival in town on South 33rd. The lights of the roller coaster almost speak to her, and she feels her spine and shoulders loosen as she makes a decision. She touches down a few blocks away and changes clothes behind a tree (easier without the skirt and tights) and walks towards the crowds milling around.

Normally, crowds make her kind of nervous. Probably because of the past few years, if she's being honest. More people in a packed space is a target, and it's hard to protect everyone. It's impossible to turn off that instinct.

She texts Alex, who promises to meet her at the carnival when she gets off work at 9. Since Kara has a few hours to kill, she wanders around the carnival and ends up winning a few stuffed animals. She picks a pink kangaroo and a koala bear, and wonders at what point in the night she's going to start feeling some level of enjoyment. How did her depression get this bad without her even noticing? It's kind of unnerving if she thinks about it for too long.

So Kara doesn't. She drinks a few blue soft drinks and finds a food truck stand with amazing chili and doesn't think about how sad it is that she doesn't have anyone to go with her on the Ferris wheel. She waits in line for forty-five minutes only to be informed that she has to have a partner with her to go on, so she turns to the person behind her in line.

A boy, taller now, with curly hair and blue eyes.

"Carter?" Kara pushes her glasses up on her nose and hopes she doesn't still have chili on the corner of her mouth. "Wow--how are you?"

Carter rocks forward onto his toes and smiles. "Kara! Wow. You're--I like your bangs. I'm doing good."

"That's great. Do you want to--um...go on this ride with me?"

"Sure."

And so they both clamber onto the cart, and Kara feels a little less isolated now. "Where's your mom?"

"She's waiting for me at the taco stand. I think she's kinda afraid of heights."

"Really?" Kara smirks. "I didn't know that."

"She misses you, you know."

It's said so matter of factly, and the truth of it just sinks between the two of them for a moment. Kara doesn't know how to respond, and a little gasp escapes her as she realizes how much she wants to see Cat again. At the same time, she really would rather not have Cat see her like this. So directionless, adrift and lonely, and it's no one's fault but hers.

"I'll text her," Carter says, and Kara bites her lip.

"Uh...you don't have to. Maybe she's busy."

But Carter just raises his eyebrow and shakes his head. "She'll be so mad at me if she knew I saw you and didn't tell her. Trust me."

 

----

 

Exactly 37 minutes later, Cat and Kara have been stranded atop the Ferris wheel. Kara has her arms folded into the sleeves of her cardigan pulled over her hands. Cat hasn't uttered a word since she realized they were stuck, and she's breathing slowly, in a way that Kara is sure is meant to relax her, but she just reminds Kara of a cartoon bull that's on the verge of going ballistic.

Kara shifts and Cat growls as the cart moves.

"Don't move. I don't want to die tonight."

"You won't," Kara scoffs. "I can fly, remember?"

Cat turns to her, then, not bothering to conceal her surprise. Her head rears back and Kara bites her lip, resisting the urge to giggle.

"No pretense, then? After all this time, you just drop it in casual conversation, like--"

"I know you know, Miss Grant. You've known for years, and you've never told anyone."

Cat's jaw flexes, and she flicks her eyes forward again. Kara notices, though, that she scoots an inch closer.

"Do you want my jacket? I have a cardigan under it, so..."

Cat nods, and then grunts: "Remind me to ground Carter once this is over."

Kara sighs. "I'm sure he meant well. He told me...how much you miss me."

"Did he now? As much as that might be true, I had more of a coffee da--a coffee get-together in mind. Not being trapped with you on a fatal machine 200 feet above the ground."

Kara hands Cat the jacket. When they do get out of this, her jacket is going to smell like Cat. She looks down at her hands, wondering why that thought popped into her head, and how she even feels about it. She doesn't know where her head's been at lately.

"I mean, if you have somewhere to be I could just get us out of this now, but I don't want to blow my cover tonight. I've kind of been taking a break from superheroing. Just for the weekend."

"And how is that going for you so far?"

Kara tilts her head and ponders for a second. "Well, it's been the most exciting thing I've done all week, which is saying something. I know this isn't the ideal way to catch up, but it's been really good to see you again."

"You could always pick up the phone."

"So could you."

A few moments of silence, during which both of them are seemingly realizing that they've both been standing on ceremony for too long. In reality, they know each other too well for games like this, Kara knows. So she opens up to her. Tells her about Lena, how she's not sure they're ever going to be friends again because of the acres of emotional distance Kara threw between them. It stings to recount everything, but Cat listens without judgment.

"I thought I didn't have any friends left," Kara says. "Pretty stupid, huh?"

"Yes. You do have friends. I'm here."

"Not out of choice." It's a cheap blow, and Kara regrets the words once the syllables leave her mouth.

Cat stiffens. "Really? I could just jump out of this metal slab, and then you'd have to save me. But I haven't done that, because I do enjoy your company. What's going on with you, Kara? Since when is your self-esteem so low it's subterranean?"

"I'm sorry," Kara mutters. "I didn't mean it like that."

"You didn't answer my question."

"It's just--I'm depressed. It's gotten worse since Lena found everything out, and I just--feel like I've been doing everything all wrong. The things I've done that are good just feel so worthless compared to all the wrong decisions I've made. That's why I came here tonight. I just wanted to enjoy myself again."

Cat reaches out to take Kara's hand. "If only I was still your boss. I could just order you to be happy, but I suppose that wouldn't be constructive, would it?"

Kara laughs and notices that Cat hasn't relinquished her hand. She tries to be subtle about looking down, and she feels a flush to her cheeks as an unfamiliar warmth floods her system. She feels her phone buzz, and it's Alex, asking her where she's been.
Kara doesn't want to let go of Cat's hand, though, so she just pockets her phone and clears her throat.

"So, what's been new with you?"

"Well. I've been spearheading the opening of CatCo in New York, and I've been spending time with Miranda and Andy. They're a lovely couple, I'll have to introduce you to them."

"You mean, Miranda Priestly? The editor of Runway?"

"Yes, and her girlfriend, Andrea Sachs. Kara, are you starstruck? Should I be jealous?"

Kara turns to her former boss, whose cheeks are decidedly pinker than before. She must be colder than Kara thought. For a moment, she thinks about asking if they should huddle together for warmth, but swipes that idea right out of her brain. She doesn't know why her neural pathways have been failing her so much tonight that the only things she can think to say just make everything so awkward.

"Uh...no. Why would you be jealous?" Kara stutters over her words for a moment before focusing back on Cat.

"I--nevermind. I had a scotch before I came tonight." Cat waves her hand and snuggles further into Kara's jacket.

Kara's head is buzzing now. How long have they been up here? Why is she so nervous?

After a few moments, the cart lurches, and Cat instinctively cries out and clutches onto Kara, who feels her skin practically burning now. In a pleasant way.

They're finally going down. Kara feels relief flood her.

"Kara," Cat says. "I know that I said that I would like to go get coffee, but there's something I want to do before we escape this death trap. I--I had a good time tonight, and I was wondering if you'd want to do this again? I mean, not this, but...something like dinner or a movie?"

Kara chuckles and pokes Cat's ribs, which is something she never would have done when Cat was her boss. What difference a few years make. "Why, Miss Grant, are you nervous?"

"I could still jump, you know," Cat deadpans.

"No," Kara giggles, and pulls the other woman close without thinking. She blinks as Cat rocks into her, her chin nearly knocking into Kara's collarbone. "Oh, sorry. I--I'd like it if we could--do something like this again."

"Great," Cat breathes, and Kara is still struck by her own ability to make the Queen of All Media nervous.

"Should I bring my suit?"

"What do you think?"