After Lex’s defeat, Lena packs a bag, gives away her shares at LuthorCorp, and moves to National City with a different name: Lena Kieran.
It’s probably foolish, not changing her first name at all, and using her middle name. But it’s also therapeutic, in a sense. Kieran was her birth mother’s last name, and Lena Kieran is who she would have been had the Luthors never adopted her.
She will be who she was always supposed to be.
Lillian would be proud. Lillian would be furious.
Lena donates everything.
There’s a children’s hospital owned by LuthorCorp that she gives 20 million dollars to.
An orphanage in Metropolis receives 5 million.
She also donates 8 million to a pro-alien non-profit organization.
Everything’s done anonymously.
There’s a little over five hundred grand in her bank account when she’s done. She manages to pull a few strings and withdraws it all out.
She leaves the Luthor name with nothing but a duffle bag of her belongings, a few wads of cash.
Lena still hates flying, so she decides to drive all the way to National City.
She buys the cheapest (but also cleanest) second-hand car she could find. It’s a bright blue Ford Fiesta and a Luthor would never be caught dead in it. Good thing she’s no longer one.
On her third night on the road, she remembers Jack Spheer. She buys a burner phone and sends him a text message with only two words and a million meanings: I’m sorry.
She almost regrets not saying goodbye in person, but swallows it down. He would’ve tried to stop her.
The phone is thrown away immediately and she doesn’t think of it again.
The drive to National City takes a week and some. She calls it a road trip and stops to sleep at a shabby motel or inn every night.
She goes through a Big Belly Burger drive through and decides that she likes cheeseburgers now. She has it for dinner more than once.
It’s midnight when she arrives at National City.
She’s waiting at a motel’s lobby when a headline from the day’s National City Tribune catches her eye:
LUTHOR HEIR REMAINS SILENT AFTER VENTURE SPACECRAFT MALFUNCTION
She rolls her eyes. Great, she thinks to herself, I’ve only been gone for a week and suddenly I’m to blame for a broken spaceship.
Curiosity nags at her, so she picks it up and skims through the article.
Following the spacecraft’s engine malfunction during its launch, the Venture has released a statement revealing that the source of the malfunction was likely in the ship’s oscillator, which was manufactured by LuthorCorp. No one from the manufacturing company has reached out to comment on this development.
Her first impulse is to be offended, because how dare they question the integrity of LuthorCorp’s aerospace division?
Before she’s able to read any further, the receptionist returns. She books a room and passes out on the bed.
She’s hungry when she wakes up, and she realizes that she completely missed lunch and dinner the previous day. After stuffing a few twenty’s in her wallet, she sets off to explore the city.
She buys a veggie sub from a street vendor for the first time ever and sits in the park a few blocks from her motel.
The sun shines a little differently in National City than it does in Metropolis. Metropolis is wet and cold, while National City is all yellow and warm.
She spends a portion of her time walking around the city and finds it a lot quieter. There’s still the sound of cars and street chatter, but it’s not in the same level of noise as Metropolis.
While Metropolis is all busy sidewalks, neon lights, and flashy advertising boards; National City is open streets adorned with palm trees.
She stumbles into the city’s business district and buys a National City Travel Guide booklet in a news stand (she pointedly ignores the newspapers and magazines), and settles in a small cafe.
NATIONAL CITY: THE HOME OF SUPERGIRL
It’s the first similarity to Metropolis she finds: the sprawling and ever-familiar ‘S’ that decorates the majority of the booklet’s cover. But that’s about it.
The resident Super has always been a vocal advocate of alien rights. The city’s been unofficially deemed the alien capital of the world, so extraterrestrial refugees more or less always find their way into the city to be under Supergirl’s protection.
With National City’s significant alien community, it’ll be the last place people would check for a lost Luthor.
And when Lillian inevitably tracks and chases her down, with guns blazing and all the trouble and spectacle she can muster, Supergirl will stand between them.
(Or so she hopes.)
It’s been a week since she’s moved to National City and it’s about time she makes a life out of it.
She buys a top-of-the-line computer and builds up Lena Kieran’s resume using online classes and free certifications, because she probably can’t use her three degrees anymore.
Her resume comes out unimpressive but she gets a call back from three of the twenty-six companies she’s applied to.
She probably over-does it, but she gets a position in IT.
Despite being the home of Supergirl, the most powerful woman in National City is human.
She remembers meeting her briefly at a gala in Metropolis three years ago. Cat called her Lianne the entire night and left early.
Lena thinks she could make a home out of her media empire.
The man who tours her around the CatCo Worldwide Media office is boring and wearing a shirt two sizes too big in the most horrendous color Lena’s ever seen (it manages to be both mustard and beige).
“Here’s the server room,” he drones out, gesturing towards the panels of glass separating them and the line of computer servers at the other side.
It looks like a glorified closet and Lena has to stop herself from scoffing and saying, this is it?
When the man tells her that he’ll finally be showing her to her desk, she expects to be led to a reclusive office cube.
What she doesn’t expect is going up to CatCo’s top floor and being shown a desk right in the view of the glass-walled office so clearly labeled: Cat Grant, CEO. There’s a nervous shiver that runs down her spine that she almost fails to repress.
She barely remembered my name, she tells herself, she won’t remember my face.
Lena spends the rest of the first day being an employee of CatCo getting briefed over the company’s vision and her job’s responsibilities.
CatCo’s IT department isn’t quite on the same caliber as Lena’s used to. They’re mostly there to renew software licenses and assisting employees when they forget the password to their machine.
She arrives way too early on her second day wearing the most banal button-up and slacks she could find in the nearest department store. Her heels are Louis Vuitton, but it’s vague enough that people won’t notice.
When it’s five minutes to 9 o’clock, a short, curly-haired rambunctious blonde steps onto the floor carrying a cup of coffee and all but runs towards the glass door of Cat Grant’s office. Lena tracks her movements, and the blonde just ends up a few feet from her desk.
They catch each other’s eye when the woman’s flicker in recognition and she chirps, “Oh! You must be Winn’s replacement.” A confused look probably shows up on Lena’s face, and the girl must notice because she continues with, “You’re the new IT person?”
Lena guesses that she must be. “Um,” she says, “yeah.”
“I’m Eve Teschmacher,” she introduces herself. “I’m Ms. Grant’s new assistant, and Kara’s replacement!”
The only name Lena really registers is Ms. Grant, so she only nods and responds, “I’m Lena”—she gets some nerves at the practiced ease of her saying her name, so she quickly follows it up with—“Kieran! I’m Lena Kieran.”
It probably was a bad idea to use my actual name, she berates herself, But what’s done is done.
Someone whisper-shouts a “She’s coming!” that makes Eve stand straighter and everyone else hop onto their feet. Lena’s too bewildered to question what’s happening before she’s standing up herself.
A ding from an elevator that Lena didn’t even notice at first reverberates around the bullpen and Cat Grant emerges. Yep, Lena confirms, I definitely remember her. Cat sweeps up the room and almost glides towards her office amidst the silence.
Everyone watches Cat Grant settle onto her desk. It’s not until she’s seated herself that Eve enters her office with the coffee and everyone lets out a collective sigh and sits back down.
Even Lillian Luthor couldn’t command that presence, and her net worth exceeds the entirety of CatCo’s.
It’s a bit majestic, Lena thinks.
When everything settles down onto the work day, she’s given the most exciting task of sorting through spam email. She manages to automate it before it’s even lunch time.
Thirty minutes before lunch, Eve Teschmacher jogs to the elevator. She returns fifteen minutes later with a brown paper bag. Eve smiles at her as she passes her desk.
At 12 o’clock, Lena decides to head out for lunch so she reaches over her desk to turn off her monitors. She’s collecting her phone when a loud, bellowing voice (that she soon learns is Cat Grant’s) shouts from behind her:
“Miss Teschmacheeeer! ”
Lena jolts around in alarm, looking over the direction of Cat Grant’s office. She can see her through the glass walls and she’s standing behind her desk, leaning forward with both hands planted on the table in front of her.
She’s familiar with the look on Cat Grant’s face; she’s been on the receiving end of it a lot of times from her old boarding school dean when she’s been caught smoking behind the girls’ dorms more than once.
Before she can even look at Eve in alarm, the assistant is already darting to her boss’ office.
She doesn’t know why she hangs around, but she hears vague snippets of the very one-sided conversation happening behind the glass doors. It’s something about a drowning salad.
A few shouts later, and with a final shriek of “Call Kiera! ”, Eve runs out of her office in tears. Lena can do nothing but watch her dash out.
Lena looks around the bullpen in incredulity but no one even glances up throughout the entire ordeal. She thinks to snip a look back at Cat Grant, but ultimately decides against it.
She goes to lunch.
Despite the debacle between Cat Grant and her assistant, the rest of her day is uneventful. She packs her up her canvas messenger bag (A Luthor using a canvas messenger bag, she giddily thinks, who would have thought? ) and decides to go—
I’ve been living in a motel room.
She should really get an apartment.
Lena goes through the arduous process of apartment hunting as soon as the weekend lands.
While what’s left of her cash could possibly cover a nice apartment’s down payment and a few months’ rent, her measly income from her entry-level IT position would barely be able to keep up.
She decides to live small.
She entertains the idea of having a roommate for one critical minute and unsurprisingly dismisses it.
It’s past lunchtime and Lena’s been awake since 7 in the morning looking at places when she finally finds it.
There’s an apartment three blocks away from CatCo that’s similar in size to her bathroom at the Luthor Manor. It’s unfurnished, the walls are stark white, and the floors are made of wood look tiles. It’s such a contrast to her old apartment that she announces that she’ll be taking it three steps in.
She’s now the proud tenant of a studio apartment at National City.
It’s odd to be happy about it, Lena thinks. It’s an odd thing to be happy at all.
She moves in that same day. All her belongings fit inside a duffle bag so there’s not much packing involved.
It’s takes her an hour to choose a mattress at the Home Depot and too late to realize that she forgot to buy a bed frame to go along with it. The movers don’t give her an odd look when she awkwardly tells them to just drop her newly-bought mattress on the floor.
The Home Depot is 30 minutes away from closing time when she realizes that she’s forgotten to buy pillows, sheets, and blankets, too.
It’s a testament to how Lena’s been so disconnected with the rest of the world that the first time she hears of the Alien Amnesty Act being approved is from the fleeting conversations she hears on her way to work.
The president’s going to visit town and Supergirl’s on the welcoming committee.
CatCo is abuzz with activity, and Lena remembers that although it’s not known for its particularly hard-hitting articles, their editor-in-chief is still a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
She catches sight of him during the meeting at Cat’s glass-walled office. He looks and acts exactly as one would expect someone to be when they’re named Snapper Carr. He’s the first one out of as soon as they’re dismissed.
A preppy blonde woman with glasses marches after him with an entirely too affronted tone to her steps. She yells a “Mr. Carr!” but ends up getting ignored.
Lena’s gaze leaves the monitors in front of her and goes to the woman left standing in the middle of the bullpen watching Snapper Carr’s retreating back, stuttering out a mess. Lena can’t help but raise a brow in amusement at the series of stammered words coming out of the blonde’s mouth.
She almost feels bad for her.
The blonde woman doesn’t even spare her a glance when she turns around and marches back to Cat’s office.
Now Lena really does feel bad for her. Cat’s going to eat her alive with that attitude.
She decides to tune in on the impending explosion, but all that happens is the blonde ranting to Cat Grant of all people, and the woman actually listening without butting in. It ends with the blonde requesting of all things that Cat Grant talk to Snapper Carr, please.
It seems to be what snaps Cat Grant back to her usual self. “Kiera,” she says, chastising but firm, “If he won’t give you a story, then you go find one yourself.”
“But he won’t even listen to me!” the woman whines. She sounds like a petulant child and Lena’s unimpressed.
“Because he thinks you’re not worth listening to,” Cat tells her. “You have to show him that you are.”
It’s pretty good advice, Lena thinks. And she’s surprised that it comes from Cat Grant telling off a peevish employee that she seems to like (which is saying a lot, considering that it’s Cat Grant). But she’s even more surprised that it works.
The blonde woman (who’s apparently named Kiera—or is it? She never knows when it’s Cat Grant), marches out of Cat’s office with a new resolve.
Lena is left feeling a little bit dumbfounded at the outcome of the conversation.
What the hell?
Not being a part of the news division of CatCo also means not having anything to do during momentous occasions such as these, because the office is mostly empty and no one’s around to tell you to work if you aren’t.
Reporters are all hands on deck, running around National City gathering up sources and interviewing key people surrounding the event.
Photographers are already at the venue of the signing, scoping out the area, looking for the most optimal angles.
Cat Grant isn’t at her office either. She’s probably at some exclusive VIP viewing of the event in an undisclosed location.
(She wonders—if she were Lena Luthor right now, at National City, would she be interviewed by a CatCo reporter, too?
She mentally scoffs.
Of course she would be. She’s the sister of the most notorious alien-hater in the world, after all.)
The office is quiet, and there’s also barely a trickle of spam mail coming in so she literally has nothing to do. It’s like all the people on Earth took a break to watch this world-changing moment.
...and Lena’s at her desk, sorting out spam email. She bites at her bottom lip and contemplates.
She might as well join in.
As if it wasn’t too big of a spectacle already—the Earth is at the beginnings of opening its doors to beings all over the universe, then an alien decides to shoot fireballs at the President of the United States just as she’s about to make history.
Everything happens all at once, after that.
It’s the first time she actually sees Supergirl in the flesh, landing in front the president with a loud boom. Another fireball gets shot at them and the hero throws her cape around herself like a shield but she still gets blasted off the stage.
Lena looks over to the source of the projectiles and sees what would look like a regular woman a few feet away—except both her hands are poised in front of her, aflame. It’s also the first time Lena actually sees a hostile alien, and her stress level skyrockets, alarm bells ringing in her head. Her fight-or-flight response kicks in and she curses—really curses—that her immediate response is to fight.
And fight she did, albeit uselessly. She grabs cracked up cement debris from the ground and just flings it towards the alien. It hits her square at the back of her head just as she’s propelling her hand back to presumably throw another fireball at the president.
The rock Lena throws doesn’t really seem to outwardly harm the literally red-hot-angry alien, but it does get her attention. The alien’s head snaps towards her direction and Lena immediately sees the consequences of her actions.
I’ve made a terrible mistake, she off-handedly and inappropriately thinks.
The alien’s eyes that are menacingly looking at her start glowing and Lena can do nothing but stare right back at it and take several stumbling steps back. Just as the alien’s about to tear a flaming hole in her skull, Lena’s suddenly getting tackled, all the air leaving her lungs in one fell swoop as she hits the ground with a surprising amount of force.
“Holy shit!” her tackler exclaims, voice laced in adrenaline, “You really just threw a rock at an Infernian!”
Before Lena can even comprehend what she’s done, the body on top of her suddenly heaves and rolls, bringing Lena along with her. A blast of heat vision hits the spot they were just at and Lena decides to just make sense of the situation she’s gotten herself into when she’s out of immediate danger.
Somewhere in her peripheral, a woman shouts, “Maggie, stay down!”
Whoever’s on top of her—presumably Maggie—shields her head under their arms and braces. Gunshots are fired, but there’s also the tell tale sound of heat vision going off.
Maggie springs to her feet and draws out her gun before she can even stand—she does it as if it’s second nature to her, and Lena deduces she’s a cop. “Get out of—!”
A fireball hits the ground near Maggie’s feet and Lena quickly pulls her back by her shirt before the cop stumbles into the flame it makes.
“Son of a—”
Then suddenly Supergirl is there, firing at the alien with her own brand of heat vision. The Infernian—as Lena’s been informed just earlier—reciprocates.
A loud boom fills Lena’s ears.
The contact of both energies creates an explosion small enough to not harm anyone around them, but big enough to knock Maggie, Lena, and the woman from earlier away a few feet.
Infernian runs through Lena’s brain. She goes through the memory Lex’s database of different species of aliens and she remembers.
(Infernians: capable of creating and controlling fire.)
“Vacuum!” Lena wheezes out, her breath a little short from being forcibly thrown to the ground a little too much today.
The woman from earlier snaps her head towards her. They lock eyes for a split second before hers widen in sudden realization, then she twists to look over at Supergirl and yells, “She’s right! Supergirl, you have to make a vacuum!”
Supergirl nods in acknowledgement, then she takes off, flying small, tight circles around the Infernian.
It’s exhilarating to watch her in action, Lena thinks, even though she sees nothing but a red and blue blur, her speed too much for her eyes to register.
It’s different from hearing about a hero saving the day, or seeing them carry the weight of a plane through a TV screen. It’s mesmerizing, right now, to see a Super’s abilities in front of her eyes, and for a brief moment of clarity, she finally understands Lex’s fixation.
Then suddenly it’s all too much. The meaning behind her thoughts hit her like a freight train, and the absurdity of the situation catches up to her.
The Infernian is subdued, her flames tapering out.
Lena’s heart is racing. She scrambles to get back up on her feet, but her hands are shaking so much she only manages to get on her knees. Her heart feels like it’s about to jump out and she wants to reach inside to stop it, but she only ends up clawing at her chest.
Someone’s kneeling in front of her, she notices. They bring Lena’s hands into their own and presses a palm against her chest. They’re saying something, but Lena honestly can’t hear with all the rushing and ringing in her ears.
The sight of whoever’s in front of her blurs in and out, and whatever she breathes in never quite settles in her lungs.
Oh god I’m gonna pass out is the last thing she thinks of before passing out.
Lena comes to in a hospital. She’s still in her own clothes.
“Hey,” someone says from a few feet away.
Lena turns to look at the source of the voice and sees the cop who tackled her, now wearing an NCPD windbreaker, peeking through the curtains separating her from the rest of the room.
“I’m Detective Maggie Sawyer from the NCPD. Can I come in?”
Lena only nods. No use stopping the inevitable.
Maggie steps closer and sits down on the chair placed beside her bed. Lena expects her to immediately fire off questions that need answers—How did you know what to do with the Infernian? What are you doing in National City? Who are you, really?—but instead, she only tells her, “It’s a brave thing, what you did today.”
Lena blinks at her. “I—” Her voice is hoarse and scratchy, so she clears her throat and tries again. “I had a panic attack and then passed out.”
“Yeah, you did.” There’s a twinkle of amusement at her eyes, and Lena realizes that the detective isn’t patronizing her at all. “But not before saving the president’s life, then saving my life, then figuring out how to stop an Infernian.”
Lena lets out an indignant scoff. “Most of those were split-second reactions than actual conscious decisions.”
Maggie actually laughs at that, but her voice is serious when she says, “You still did them. It doesn’t matter why in situations like those. You saved lives, including mine and the president’s.”
“Intention is the basis of the goodness of an action.”
“Accept the compliment, lady.”
Lena sighs. “You saved my life, too,” she says. “Thank you.”
Maggie smiles at her. “It’s my job.”
There’s a beat of silence before Lena asks, “When do I get to leave?”
“I’m just here to see if you’re up to giving us a statement,” Maggie tells her. “But the doctors have told me that you’re free to go once you regain consciousness and the nurses check you out.”
Lena chews on her bottom lip. “Do I have to?”
“Oh, um.” Maggie’s eyebrows draws together. “You’re not required to.”
“I’d rather not.”
The detective’s jaw unhinges for a moment before she collects herself. “Alright then,” she tells Lena, standing up. “Thank you for your time, Miss—”
“Kieran,” Lena supplies. “My name is Lena Kieran.”
“Well, thank you for your time, Ms. Kieran.” Maggie moves to leave. “I’ll send the nurses in to check you out.”
Lena nods once. “Thank you, Detective Sawyer.”
Once the nurses check her out and she signs the discharge papers, Lena heads straight for her apartment.
She dreams of nothing that night.
Lena goes to work the next day.
She sits at her desk, fires up her automatic spam email sorter (it’s an incredibly over-engineered email sorter, and possibly the most advanced software in the building), and decides that she doesn’t want to be around the people in the bullpen.
The head of the IT department is named Mackenzie, “But you can call me Macky.” She’s an Asian woman with immaculate hair.
“Macky,” Lena tests, “can I borrow the key to the server room?”
“Hey, you’re the new hire, right? The one assigned to Ms. Grant.”
“Um, yeah.” Lena hesitates. “Assigned to Ms. Grant?”
“Yep,” she confirms. “We always have at least one of us near the boss in case she has any sudden, crazy requests. The last guy resigned.”
“And you put me there?”
“You seemed like you knew a bit of everything during your technical interview, so you were pretty much perfect for the job.”
Lena did show off a bit during her technical interview, but it was just to compensate for her frankly lacking resume.
“Anyway, what did you need?”
Lena perks up a little. Right. “Um, the key to the server room.”
“The boss finally put you up to something, huh?”
Macky chuckles. “It was only a matter of time.”
Sure it was.
“Anyway, your keycard has full access. Perks of being assigned to Ms. Grant.” She winks.
True to Macky’s words, the lock dings with a green light when she swipes her keycard.
The size of CatCo’s server room is pretty much nothing compared to LuthorCorp’s (theirs spans an entire floor—and that’s just for the main headquarters, which doesn’t even house the servers for the international offices).
She’s already sitting and facing the terminal when she realizes that she’s forgotten to ask for the login.
Lena chews on her bottom lip and slumps down on the chair to contemplate her next move. She stares at the keyboard and just… she could probably guess, maybe, but come on, how many times have that actually worked in real life?
(She remembers a story Lex told her about the day he had to fire an entire team of scientists.
“An entire team?” Lena asked in disbelief.
“The password to their console was taped on their coffee maker, Lena,” Lex explained. “It’s that sort of disregard for information security that LuthorCorp can’t risk.”)
Lena takes a deep breath and shuffles around the desk, rummages through the drawers, flips through misplaced documents, checks under the mouse, mousepad, and it’s when she lifts up the keyboard to check underneath it that she finds what she’s looking for.
There’s a worn and stained piece of paper taped to the table with only one thing written on it:
She can’t help but laugh at the obvious pun. No, Winn, she thinks to herself, All I do is win.
To be completely honest, she’s only here to hook up her automatic spam email sorter straight to the server. Her computer’s starting to stutter with the amount it’s processing all at once, so having the emails sorted before it even lands in anyone’s inbox could possibly lessen the load.
Once she sets up her system, she works on establishing a connection when she gets the sudden alert that the port is already being used.
She quirks up brow in confusion and looks at the existing connections to the server and gets back a list of all the IP addresses of all the machines at the CatCo building. She idly scans it when she notices that one of the addresses are not like the others.
She leans in closer to the screen just to make sure she’s seeing right.
It’s a remote connection.
She opens up the request logs for the server and filters out the local connections.
There’s a timestamp along each request, and she scrolls up a considerable amount and sees that the connection’s been there for months.
She notices, with increasing uneasiness, that there’s a request to and from the remote network every single day, in one hour intervals.
And as if sensing her, a new request pops up.
What. The. Fuck.
Lena meets Cat, then Kara.
The first thing Lena does is terminate all remote connections to the server. What she doesn’t anticipate is accidentally cutting off all the machines from the internet.
She scrambles to get everything back up and running but it takes her 3 minutes too long and she hears Macky knocking on the glass panes outside the server room.
“Did you hear the intercom?” Macky asks her when she walks out.
Lena did not. “What intercom?”
“Ms. Grant,” she says as way of explanation. “Her internet connection wonked up. You need to get up there.”
“Yeah, you’re the one assigned to Ms. Grant.”
She’s speed-walking her way to Cat Grant’s office when Eve blocks her path.
“Lena!” She looks a little frazzled. “Where have you been?”
Discovering that someone’s been hacking this company for months. “Fixing the internet connection down at IT.”
“You fixed it?!”
“It was only really down for a second.”
“Ms. Grant’s been looking for you for the past 10 minutes!”
“I’m going there now.” Lena gives Eve a tight-lipped smile to try and assuage her concerns and she walks around her. She almost wants to apologize because she knows that Cat would’ve probably found a way to blame her poor assistant for the internet tripping up.
Her knock at Cat Grant’s glass door goes unacknowledged. She awkwardly stands at the other side until she glances over at Eve desperately. Eve snaps back into assistant mode and enters Cat’s office and announces, “Ms. Grant, Ms. Kieran from IT is here.”
“Send them in, Eva.”
Eve shoves Lena in the office. Cat Grant doesn’t even look up from whatever she’s reading on her laptop when she enters. Lena’s about to make herself known with a low cough, but then...
“Lena Kieran, 23, Programmer.”
Hearing other people refer to her as Lena Kieran still sounds a bit foreign to her, and she almost doesn’t register it when Cat Grant reads from, what she presumes is, her resume. “Um,” Lena stammers, catching up, “that’s me.”
A few more seconds pass before Cat Grant glances her way, looking her up and down. Lena feels like she’s being scrutinized, so muscle memory kicks in; she sticks her chin out and stands straighter. One of Cat’s eyebrows shoot up at her change of posture, and there’s the beginnings of a smirk showing up on her face. “I see...” she trails off with an undertone of amusement.
“I’ve already fixed the internet connection,” Lena informs her. “If that’s why you called for me.”
“So you have.” Cat continues to look at her, eyes lingering at her shoes before she meets Lena’s eyes. “I see,” she says with a more obvious lilt.
Lena resists the urge to glance down. She vaguely remembers putting on her Louis Vuitton heels, but it’s nondescript enough that people would barely recognize the brand—right?—and the rest of her ensemble she got as part of her wardrobe overhaul of the gaudiest button-ups and comfiest slacks she could find in a department store.
“Yes,” Lena says more firmly, looking straight at Cat. “Is that all, Ms. Grant?”
Cat leans back into her chair without breaking eye contact. Another beat passes without either speaking, and Lena recognizes it as a stand-off. She’s caught between her instincts telling her to match up; or stand down to preserve the character she’s built around herself. Pride makes her give in to instincts.
There’s something about Cat Grant that Lena doesn’t want to lose to.
Neither of them stands down. But when the beat passes, Cat’s grinning like she’s won. “Close the door and sit down.”
And Lena knows that she’s lost.
She’s heard stories about Cat Grant, as did everyone in the exclusive circle families such as the Luthors belonged to, but none of them has ever faced the Queen of all Media herself.
The Luthors have earned their reputation of being both an enigmatic and private family. They’ve been careful to never generate enough scandal to warrant the scrutiny of the press (or they never let it get to the public in the first place). People have tried in the past, of course, to peek through the cracks of the Luthor mantle, but the Luthors are also careful and calculated—nothing should’ve ever slipped through.
And for this generation of the Luthors: Lionel and Lillian had been passive and quiet enough; Lex, boisterous and ambitious as he is, avoided the press altogether (until he couldn’t); and Lena, well, she was never quite famous at all.
(Until now, Lena’s never as much been referred to in the papers.
And even now, in spite of the spotlight shining into the Luthors, in the controversy with Lex and the Venture; LuthorCorp remains silent. There had been nothing but allusions to her, or its new, elusive CEO. Lena surmises that Lillian’s been covering up.
We have to protect the integrity of the Luthor name, she remembers a voice saying.)
So, what exactly did Cat Grant know?
“Before I wrote my exposé on Morgan Edge and Intergang several years ago,” Cat begins, “I was a gossip columnist for the Daily Planet. But I wanted to broaden my horizons, so to speak. I went on a research binge. I wanted to break a big story to prove myself, so I looked up all the prominent dynasties in America, just to see what I can dig up.”
Of course she did. Lena doesn’t break her eye contact with Cat.
“Three names kept coming up,” she continues, pulling her chair closer to her desk. “Wayne, Edge, and…” She tilts her head suggestively. “Luthor.”
Lena refuses to shift on her seat. Refuses to show any sign of unnerve.
“Of course, even Bruce Wayne isn’t worth enough for me to ever set foot in Gotham.” Lena gives her a look of mild suspicion. There’s an obvious secret being shared between them. “And Edge Global was based in National City, and I was in Metropolis back then. Luckily, we had our own local business magnates.”
Lena supposes that she ought to stop Cat Grant, but she doesn’t.
“Luthors are old money,” Cat tells her. Lena also knows this, of course. “And there’s a thing about families that come from generations of wealth—they’re obsessed with bloodlines, keeping their lineage pure so the money stays well within the family. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that a girl, a supposed outsider, was adopted into one of the wealthiest families in the world, back in 1997. There’s a mystery there begging to be uncovered.”
The feeling of uneasiness in Lena’s stomach rises with each passing word in Cat Grant’s monologue. But it’s my mystery, she wants to retort. She’s never had to face this much probing attention head-on, and she doesn’t really know what to do with it now.
Cat continues. “I dug up everything I could about the girl. World Youth Chess Champion in 2005. Well on her way to high school varsity-level fencing at the age of 11. Went to a boarding school in Australia where she’s the top of her class. Part Irish.”
It feels all too invasive, Lena thinks. But this is what journalists do—especially one in Cat Grant’s standing—they keep digging until they find what they’re looking for, and they tell the whole world about the stories worth telling. And the Luthors—perhaps one of the most private families in the world—welcoming a stranger into their household? The world would’ve eaten it up.
All the facts Cat’s told her is true, she notes. They weren’t public knowledge, but the Luthors perfectly crafted the evidence of her existence: not exactly a secret, but still concealed, heavily, to keep her out of the prying and public eyes.
(Lena never questioned why; both because she never saw the need to ask, and she never had the chance to—because after boarding school in Australia, Lionel dies, then she’s off to MIT, and after that, to a start-up in a garage.)
(Then she disappears to National City.)
But enough snooping and you would have come across proof of Lena Luthor. And Cat has obviously done the snooping, so where was the result? Why wasn’t anything ever published with her name?
The answer comes in an innocuous flash drive that Cat slides across her desk.
“What’s this?” Lena asks, eyeing the device.
“Everything I have on Lena Luthor.” When Lena looks back at her, she sees a flash of an emotion she isn’t familiar with. “In the middle of my investigation, I was having my own family crisis. I didn’t want to ruin another child’s life.”
“Why are you giving this to me?”
“You know why.”
A beat passes. “You just always have this with you?”
Cat gives her the exasperated look that she gives everyone else. “Of course not,” she scoffs. “I had it on my very old laptop. I pulled it up again when I saw your name on a resume.”
Lena reaches over and picks up the flash drive. “How did you know?” She couldn’t believe it—but what did she expect? That she’d never be discovered? (She knows she will be. Eventually. She shelves the thought.)
“I wasn’t sure at first,” Cat confesses. “But Lena Kieran was sparking an odd memory. I thought back and pulled up my old files. And then you came in wearing $900 heels.”
Lena finally spares a glance down at her shoes. They were modest-looking, but Louis Vuitton all the same. “I thought it was discreet enough.”
“I have the same pair sitting in my closet.”
Lena fiddles with the device in her hands. “This is the only copy?”
“I’ve deleted mine and have never shared it with anyone.”
She pockets the flash drive and lets out a shaky breath. She doesn’t notice how much she’s trembling until she looks at her hands. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because once upon a time, I also moved to National City to try and get a fresh start.”
Lena swallows heavily. All sense of composure is lost now. She’s shaking when she looks back at Cat.
“I’m not going to expose you if that’s what you’re worried about.” The sentiment does nothing to ease her.
“What do you want from me?” Lena quavers. “I don’t have anything anymore.”
Cat gives her a look that’s not quite pity—empathy, she recalls somewhat, from a distant memory. “Just promise me one thing: don’t take too long.”
“With all… this.” She gestures vaguely to all of her. “The longer you avoid the past, the harder it’s going to crash back into you. And the more difficult it is to piece yourself back together.”
There’s a stinging in Lena’s eyes and a lump in her throat. She can’t believe that it’s Cat Grant of all people that’s telling her all of this, but there’s a part of her still grateful that she hears it from someone.
“Now, pull yourself together before you leave this office,” Cat says, straightening herself, raising a hand to fix the placement of her glasses that’s ridden down the bridge of her nose. “You can have the rest of the day off if you so please. I have a conference call that I’m late to.”
Lena straightens herself up before getting up from the chair. She still can’t quite believe the conversation that just transpired, and she doesn’t know what else to say, but she does find herself trusting that Cat Grant won’t expose her. She lingers standing in front of her for a few seconds more before murmuring out a hesitant “Thank you.”
Cat doesn’t look at her, doesn’t even acknowledge the thank you, but there’s a telltale sign of a smile on her face when Lena exits the room.
Lena is still less than professionally composed when she leaves Cat’s office and straight up bumps into someone. And bump is probably an understatement, because it feels more like a slam and Lena’s sent tumbling down the floor.
“Oh no!” whoever’s slammed into her exclaims. A hand reaches out to Lena and she’s being pulled up—with surprising and significant ease. Her head is still spinning when she gets back on her feet. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you!”
“Jesus.” Lena stumbles, still regaining her balance. The stranger reaches an arm out and Lena grips it. “I could’ve sworn I walked straight into a wall.” When she collects herself, she gets a look at the stranger she’s bumped into and recognizes the preppy reporter ranting to Cat Grant from the day before. (I think her name is Kiera? Or is it?)
“Nope, just plain ol’ me,” the reporter says. “I’m sorry, I can be such a klutz.”
“It’s fine, I wasn’t really looking where I was going either.” She dusts over her clothes, and notices that she’s still gripping the reporter’s arm and quickly lets go.
“I was on my way to Ms. Grant’s office.” She looks past Lena’s shoulder. “But I guess she’s busy now.”
“She mentioned a conference call.”
“Oh, okay… you were just there?”
“Yeah, the internet tripped out and she called for IT.”
The reporter slowly nods. “Oh. Right. Yeah. The internet. It was down for a… while.”
What? Come on. No it wasn’t. “It was only really down for a second,” Lena grumbles defensively, but the reporter only brushes past her sentiment.
“I’m Kara, by the way!” She sticks her hand out—and Lena almost recoils at the volume and sheer peppiness of her voice. “Kara Danvers!”
“Lena Kieran.” She reaches out to shake the offered hand.
The smile Kara gives her when she introduces herself isn’t something Lena’s used to—it’s so bright, and Lena either wants to bolt, shield her eyes, or both. She shoots back a smile that she hopes gives off a fraction of the energy Kara’s showing her.
“Anyway, it’s nice to meet you, Kara,” Lena says in hopes of excusing herself, “but I’m actually on my way out.”
“Oh, right!” Then— “Are you going to get lunch?”
Lena stops in her tracks. “Um,” she stammers. “I’m actually going… home.”
Kara switches from being flustered to disappointed to concerned in the fraction of a second. “Are you okay?”
“Oh, you know.” Lena gestures vaguely. “Just not feeling well enough to finish the work day.”
The reporter looks thoughtful. “Oh, okay. Do you need any help going home?”
Lena pauses and blinks, caught off-guard with the casual offer of help, and she probably stares for a few seconds too long because Kara’s suddenly fumbling through words: “Oh my gosh! I’m so—that must’ve been so weird! I didn’t—I mean, we just met! It’s not like—I didn’t mean—I just meant that—”
“What I mean is,” Kara breathes, speaking more coherently this time, “Are you alright going home by yourself?”
This is honestly one of the oddest encounters Lena’s ever had. She’s had tense conversations and confrontations, but she’s never experienced anything quite like this; unrehearsed, bumbling, awkwardness. It’s also such a contrast to the conversation she’s just had with Cat Grant that she’s both mildly endeared and sort of out of her depth.
“Yes,” says Lena, ever graceful. “But thank you for the offer.”
“Sure, it’s no problem!” Kara stands aside to let her pass. “I’ll get out of your hair.”
“It’s really good meeting you.” Lena means it. She’s oddly charmed by the whole ordeal. “I’ll see you around,” she says, giving her small wave before walking past her. She goes straight to elevator to catch up with it landing on her floor. When she turns around as she gets on, she’s surprised to see that Kara’s still standing where she left her.
She manages to shoot her a smile before the elevator doors close shut.
Here’s the thing: Kara meant to bump into Lena.
She’s just arrived back from the DEO, getting a step-by-step recount of the Infernian attack from Alex that she uses for the article that Snapper finally deemed worthy (there was also a quote from Supergirl—she admits, only to herself, that it might be cheating, but she’s desperate for approval at this point).
That’s why she was on her way to Cat’s office, to share the good news. She sees the door closed, however, which means privacy so she doesn’t listen in, and Cat is occupied with someone else in there, anyway. She resolves to wait by the entrance to the bullpen because there are couches there she can sit on.
Kara only recognizes her when she walks out of Cat’s office. The woman from the signing ceremony. She perks up a little and feels an itch of curiosity—does she work here? She just means to bump into her so she can casually introduce herself. She doesn’t mean to barrel into her and knock her down to the floor. But that’s what happens.
“Oh no!” She reaches a hand out and quickly pulls the woman back on her feet. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you!” Even though she was literally right there, watching her.
“Jesus.” The woman’s wobbly on her feet, so Kara offers an arm to help her balance it out. She grips onto it. “I could’ve sworn I walked straight into a wall.”
Kara lets out a nervous laugh. “Nope, just plain ol’ me.” She apologizes again.
When she sees the opportunity to introduce herself, she blurts her name out too suddenly and too loudly—she can see the mild surprise her outburst causes—and she would’ve been embarrassed if the woman hadn’t responded with her own name.
“Anyway, it’s nice to meet you, Kara, but I’m actually on my way out.”
“Oh, right!” And before she could stop herself: “Are you going to get lunch?” She winces internally. Okay, too forward.
She sees Lena stammer, caught off guard again. “I’m actually going… home.”
Kara flashes back to the scene yesterday—Lena on her knees, with fast, shallow breaths, and the sound of her hammering heartbeat resonating in her eardrums, just before she falls limp on the ground. Is she okay? “Are you okay?”
“Oh, you know. Just not feeling well enough to finish the work day.”
The offer of help is a knee-jerk reaction. Kara usually excuses it and calls it her unapologetic protectiveness over the people of National City, but it doesn’t stop the blood rushing to her cheeks in embarrassment when Lena has to cut off her impending ramble.
Kara thinks the meeting’s unsalvageable at this point, but when Lena says, “It’s really good meeting you,” she sounds like she means it. And the smile she sends her way before the elevator door closes has Kara feeling hopeful.
Kara flies into the DEO after work.
She doesn’t see J’onn or Alex in the command center, but Winn is there, typing away on his keyboard, so she chooses to bug him, instead. “Hey, Winn!” she greets, dropping onto the swivel chair beside him.
“Hey, Kara.” He doesn’t look away from his screen when he greets her. “National City’s been quiet so far. Maybe alien amnesty is actually calming people down.”
Kara hums in agreement. “Hey, you know that woman yesterday? At the signing ceremony? With the Infernian?”
“The one that threw the rock?”
“The one that saved the president’s life while I was busy being on fire, yeah.”
Winn turns to face her, and gives her an odd look that turns into concern. “Hey, that wasn’t your fault—”
“No, no!” Kara interrupts him. “No, I know! I just mean, she did more than just throw a rock, you know? It was a stupid move, but it did save the president. Not to mention that she knew how to stop the Infernian, too.”
The look that Winn’s giving her turns weird. “Uh huh.”
“Anyway, she works at CatCo!”
Winn’s eyebrows shoot up. “She does?”
“Yep,” Kara says, popping the p. “I saw her walking out of Cat’s office and I bumped into her.”
“You bumped into her?”
“Bumped into who?” Alex appears out of nowhere, leaning against the table next to Winn’s station.
“The woman that threw the rock at the Infernian yesterday works at CatCo,” Winn says in lieu of explanation. Kara glares at him. “Sorry, the woman that saved the president’s life.”
Alex snorts. “That’s a stretch.”
“You know what I mean,” Kara grumbles.
“She would’ve burned to a crisp if Maggie wasn’t there,” Alex points out. “It was a group effort at best.”
“Okay, but she helped.”
“So this woman, she works at CatCo?” Kara nods. “What’s her name?”
Lena Kieran, she hears her voice in her head. “Lena Kieran.”
“Winn, could you dig up info about her from CatCo’s employee database?”
Kara snaps her head up, incredulous at the exchange. “Wait, what?”
“She knew how to subdue the Infernian, I’m curious about her,” is all Alex says.
“That’s not enough of an excuse to—to—” Kara sputters “—spy on her!”
“I’m not spying on her,” Alex defends.
The hero throws her hands up and makes a sound of disbelief.
“It’s just a background check,” the agent shrugs.
“You!” Kara points an accusing finger at Winn. “How do you even plan on gaining access to the CatCo database? You don’t work there anymore!”
Winn doesn’t even flinch when he answers her. “I put in an open connection to the CatCo servers months ago. I can pretty much go in whenever I want.”
Kara’s mouth drops open in shock.
“Ever since Cat Grant suspected your identity, the DEO’s been monitoring her,” Alex supplies, as if the situation wasn’t absurd enough as it is. “Don’t worry, Winn took over her case ever since he got hired.”
“I cannot believe this!”
“Calm down, Kara,” her sister tells her. “We know Cat’s harmless. It’s just a safety measure.”
“This is still a major breach in privacy!” Kara argues.
They go back and forth for a while.
“Guys,” Winn speaks up. He squints at his monitor. “My connection’s gone.”
Alex snaps back to attention. “What do you mean it’s gone?” She plants a hand on Winn’s desk and leans closer towards his computer.
Kara just stands to the side, crossing her arms. Serves them right. (She really shouldn’t think that, they’re only protecting her.)
“I mean that it’s gone. Someone closed it.” He presses a few keys on the keyboard that Kara doesn’t really pay attention to. “Huh. And pretty much blocked out all remote connections. Yep, I’m out.”
“How does that happen?” Alex demands.
“CatCo suddenly got a decent IT department?”
Kara can’t help the snort that comes out.
Alex’s head whips around to look at her. “Okay, what do you know?”
“It’s her.” Kara laughs. “Lena. I bumped into her walking out of Cat’s office, and she mentioned being in IT. She’s probably a new hire since I’ve never seen her around the office.”
“That explains it,” Winn quips. “The rest of CatCo’s IT department were pretty much duds.”
Alex sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose. “Is the DEO compromised?”
“I mean, it shouldn’t be,” Winn answers. “I masked the IP address.”
“Looks like we have to get to know her the old fashioned way,” Kara remarks all too cheerfully.
Alex glares at her sister, then at Winn. “Are you sure?” she pointedly asks the latter. “Because need I remind you that this is a top secret government agency.”
Winn looks uncomfortable under the agent’s glare (as he should be). “Even if she manages to decrypt the IP address, she’ll never be able to track it down to us.”
Alex’s eyes narrows down even further. Winn shifts in his seat and pulls on his shirt collar. When he looks distressed enough, Alex switches over to her sister. “I still want info on her,” she tells her. “You’re gonna have to handle that.”
Kara seems unbothered at the pointed look she receives, and only shoots her sister a too-innocent, too-sweet smile. “I’ll bring her coffee tomorrow.”
Lena doesn’t know what to think of it when she arrives at CatCo the next day and sees bumbling reporter Kara Danvers standing beside her desk holding two coffee cups. The other one is obviously meant for her but she’s already bought a drink before coming in.
Do I throw my drink away before she sees me? Lena frantically thinks, but before she actually manages to follow through, Kara’s already looking up, greeting her with an excitable call of “Lena!”
Lena blinks at her for a few moments before she snaps out of it. “Good morning, Kara,” she greets her, walking towards her desk. She wants to assume that the reporter is there to ask for a favor, because she doesn’t know why else she’d be here, bringing her coffee.
“Good morning!” the reporter chirps, as energetic as she was the day before. “I bought you a—” her eyes zero in on the drink in Lena’s hands “—drink. But you already have one!” Kara bounces back as if that hasn’t completely derailed her plans.
“I’m afraid I do.” Lena raises her cup sheepishly, the ice inside jostling around. It’s a plastic cup with red foreign markings that Kara’s never seen before. Whatever drink’s inside is orange, and there are tapioca pearls floating around.
“Erm, what is it? I’ve never seen it before.”
“Thai bubble tea.” It’s the first time Lena’s trying it. She’s been expanding her food and drinks palette ever since she arrived in National City. “Anyway, what did you need?”
The reporter actually looks flustered. “Oh, nothing! I just wanted to bring you a drink, but you already have one, so it’s fine!”
No, that can’t be it. Lena doesn’t believe it. “Are you—”
“Anyway, I gotta go!” And Kara straight up marches away before Lena can say anything else. “Articles aren’t gonna write themselves! Have a great day at work, Lena!” Lena blinks once and Kara’s already halfway out of the bullpen, coffee cup in either hand.
Lena can do nothing but watch after her, bemused. How does she walk so fast?
Kara drops herself on the couch beside her sister with a heavy sigh.
“How was work?” Alex asks. She knows Kara’s been having a rough time ever since she’s become a reporter, and coming home unfulfilled from her day job has been a common occurrence the past few weeks.
“Good, actually. Snapper’s been paying attention to me and giving me actual assignments.”
“That’s good, right?”
“Yeah! I’m actually enjoying being a reporter and chasing stories.”
“That’s great!” Alex really wants to emulate the enthusiasm she should be seeing from her sister right now, but it’s hard when Kara looks like she’s just eaten a veggie potsticker when she expected a pork one. (It has happened once. They were given the wrong order and Kara spent the rest of sisters night alternating between pouting and glaring at the offending container.) Alex sighs. “Alright, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing?” Kara doesn’t sound too sure herself. “I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to that woman from the Infernian attack.”
“Oh.” Alex mentally goes over the situation—it’s not like the DEO’s been horribly compromised with Winn’s slip-up, and he did say that the IP address is pretty much untrackable. Besides, the woman was only doing her job of securing CatCo’s servers, that’s not her fault. “That’s alright. She’s probably not even a threat. Don’t worry too much about it.” She waves a hand around as if to emphasize her point. “Now, did you want Chinese or pizza?”
Kara chews on her bottom lip. “Actually, can we get Thai?”
Lena's a menace. Kara shares her passion for food. Winn is threatened.
It’s been a week and some after Lena’s conversation with Cat Grant, and everything has been quiet so far; both in her life, and in National City. The office has been relatively peaceful, too; Lena hasn’t seen Eve cry for a few days, and no bumbling reporters have stopped by for a quick rant.
But when Lena sees her ping go up, she knows something’s going on.
(Of course she’s been keeping a close eye on the CatCo server ever since she saw that remote connection.
It’s not even supposed to be her job, but she can’t help it, she’s bored. Her spam email sorter is working so well she could probably build a cybersecurity start-up with it. She’s even already playing with the idea of asking Macky for a promotion—god knows CatCo is in desperate need for an information security officer.)
The CatCo server room has become Lena’s de facto second desk. Macky has pretty much given her express permission to use it whenever she has to—no one else does.
She reviews the open connections to the server and pretty much expects what she finds: another remote connection, but with a different IP address this time. She traces it and finds that it’s somehow from Japan.
Lena didn’t expect any different. When she traced the previous address, it was in Canada. She presumed that it was just some amateur flexing their skills, but now she knows better.
She had set up the server’s firewalls beforehand so remote connections would only have access to the spam mail that was also being fed to her email sorter. They’re essentially getting nothing but trash.
Exploiting the IP address would be useless now, so she devises a plan instead, now that she knows that whoever’s hacking the CatCo server would eventually do it again: she cuts the connection, and when they try again, they’ll finally get what’s coming for them.
It’s something she developed a while back at a hackathon (she remembers the event distinctly, because Jack refused to join once he found out that she would be participating; she got him back for chickening out afterwards)—malware that could render all the files in a computer useless only within seconds.
She sets up her trap and goes home.
When Kara lands in the DEO, she’s greeted by a smug Winn.
“You can tell your friend to suck it! I found a loophole back into the CatCo server!”
“I thought you were done with that!”
The smug smile on his face remains persistent. “Alex told me to keep monitoring Cat,” he shrugs. “But now that I have a connection again, I can finally look up info on your lady-friend.”
“I was working on getting to know her!” Kara points out, then emphasises: “The proper way!”
“Alex also told me you haven’t gotten the chance to talk to her, and that was a week ago.”
“Well I was working on it,” she grumbles.
“Whatever, now that you’re here, you can watch me hack into the CatCo database.”
“You mean invade people’s privacy?”
Winn laughs, leans into her, and whispers, “Between you me, I don’t even monitor Cat’s emails. I just get it uploaded into our network so we have the logs.”
Kara looks at him incredulously. “Is that supposed to somehow make this better?”
Winn waves a hand to dismiss her, twisting on his swivel chair to settle in his station again. “I know the CatCo architecture like the back of my hand, just a few more and—oh. What?”
Kara perks up. “What?” She looks at his screen, but she’s never really grasped the intricacies of Earth computers. “What is it? What happened?”
“The connection got cut,” he says. “Lemme just establish it again.”
Kara raises a brow. “Are you sure that’s still a good idea?”
“Hey, you try to refuse orders from your sister.” He types a few things and as soon as he sees the connection back, he twists around his chair to send her a look and show off his work.
Kara is underwhelmed, to be honest. There’s nothing but several pop ups in his screen—and even more keeps coming in. “Is it even supposed to do that?”
“Do what—” Winn twists around to face his monitor again “—gah!”
Kara recoils a little at his reaction. Before she can ask what’s the matter, Winn launches himself under his desk, and only manages to yank off a cable right when the large monitor in the middle of the room all of a sudden seizes up in a series of repeated words:
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Winn shoots up from under the desk, his eyes wide at the screens. “Disconnect! Disconnect!” He races around the command center, shoving agents away from their work stations and jumping under their tables to yank off wires. Kara has never seen him move so quickly.
“What is going on?”
A loud voice booms throughout the floor.
Winn is still running around, telling everyone to “Disconnect! Pull the plugs!” when Alex stomps into the command center. She’s holding a tablet with the same display as the big monitors.
“Is anyone going to to tell me what’s happening right now?” she growls, looking at the confounded agents. Winn skids to a stop a few feet away from her, holding several laptops and severed cables. Alex sends him a deadly look. “Schott.”
She takes a few steps towards him, face contorted in a vicious snarl. “Explain.”
Winn stumbles a few steps back. “Y-You see…” he stammers, pulling at his shirt’s collar.
“If you don’t spit it out in the next 5 seconds, I’ll walk over there and force it out of you.”
He visibly gulps. “Um… someone might have… exploited the connection between us and the CatCo server.”
There’s now a visible vein along Alex’s forehead, pulsing in anger. It’s a bit terrifying to look at. “And managed to infect our entire network?”
“I contained it before it spread everywhere… only the surveillance network really suffered.” He tries to smile, but it only comes out as a pained wince when Alex still seems both unimpressed and ready to kill (him, probably).
“You said the DEO wasn’t compromised.”
“It wasn’t!” he defends, then cowers when Alex manages to look even more vicious. “I mean—it didn’t look like an actively deliberate attack. The malware got immediately uploaded into our system the second I opened a connection, so it was more of a… security measure?”
One of Alex’s eyes twitches. “Are you telling me that a media company’s security measures are so advanced that it managed to infiltrate a government agency?”
Kara takes offense at that. “Hey! I work there!”
Alex ignores her, continuing to eye a considerably paling Winn, who only mumbles, “…perhaps?”
Whatever Alex was planning to do next, Kara knows that it’ll traumatize him for life, so before the agent gets a chance to respond, she quickly butts in, “But he can fix it!” She walks over to her friend and throws an arm around him. “Right, Winn?”
Winn nods enthusiastically, a manic smile plastered on his face. “Yep! Totally! Easy peasy!”
Alex narrows her eyes, gaze never leaving Winn. “You have until tomorrow. And J’onn will be hearing about this.”
Winn shoots her a thumbs up, anxious smile and all. When Alex finally stalks off the command center, his legs sag from under him and he falls butt-first to the floor. “Oh my god, I saw my life flash before my eyes.”
Kara scrunches up her face. “You’re still not quite off the hook yet.”
He whips his head up, looking at her. “You gotta help me.”
“What, no way! I’m not gonna aid you in violating my co-workers’ privacies! Besides, I already helped you. I got Alex off your back just now.”
“No, not with that! You gotta help me get me in touch with your lady-friend.”
“Lena?” Kara sputters. “You can’t involve her in this! You can’t tell anyone about the DEO!”
“I’m not gonna tell her. I just gotta… sneakily get the info I need from her.”
“No. No way, I’m not hearing this.” She tries to walk away, but Winn manages to get on his knees and snag onto her cape.
She sort of drags him around for a few moments, pointedly ignoring his pleas of “Please, Kara! I don’t wanna die yet!” before she eventually finds the situation too ridiculous.
“Fine!” she relents, throwing her hands up. “But you are not going to talk to her. I am.”
Winn scoots up and throws his arms around her legs, saying, “Thank you thank you thank you!”
“You’re gonna me owe me so much potstickers for this,” she grumbles.
“I’ll buy you 3 orders next game night.”
He shoots up to his feet and goes to one of the few computers left uninfected. He fishes out a small flash drive from his pocket and plugs it in, taps and clicks a few buttons, and hands it to Kara. “All you gotta do is get the password to the server’s main console from her, and plug this in. It’ll automatically find the malware’s source code and fish it out.”
Kara sighs and accepts the flash drive after staring at it hesitantly. While somewhat excited to have a legitimate reason to talk to the rock-throwing woman again, she feels bad that it’s under pretenses. “You really think she’s just gonna tell me that?”
“If she doesn’t, check under the keyboard.”
Kara sees Lena again the next day. Bright and early, right next to her desk, like the last time. But now, instead of an offering of coffee, she’s armed with a paper bag labeled Noonan’s.
(She made the right call, Kara thinks, because Lena’s holding a cup of that Thai bubble tea again. Which, Kara can’t even blame her for, she tried it a few nights ago and it’s amazing.)
“Hi!” she says when she finally sees the woman approach her desk.
Lena looks entirely caught off-guard, and Kara hopes she isn’t crossing some crucial strangers-to-acquaintances boundary by showing up seemingly out of nowhere. “Good morning, Kara.”
She swallows down her nerves—why is she even so nervous?—and presents her offering. “Have you had breakfast?”
Lena doesn’t know what to make of it, doesn’t even know why she agreed, but the next thing she knows, they’re at an empty break room.
“I can’t believe you don’t eat breakfast!” Kara exclaims, looking absolutely horrified.
And she doesn’t know if she has to be sorry for it, because Kara really does look offended by the idea of Lena regularly skipping breakfast. “I like being early. It didn’t seem so important.”
Kara gasps. “Not important!? It’s literally—it’s the most important meal of the day!”
Lena at least goes through the effort of looking remorseful.
There’s an entire assortment in the paper bag the reporter brought, and she lays them all out on the table: two sticky buns, a cinnamon roll, a croissant, a slice of banana bread, a glazed donut, and a blueberry muffin. Lena looks at the spread of pastries in front of her with wide eyes. She doesn’t know whether she feels more surprised at the amount of food in front of her, or the fact that everything managed to fit in one paper bag.
“Is… is someone else joining us?”
“Hm? Oh, no, did you want to invite anyone?” Kara scrunches her eyebrows together, looking thoughtful.
“Um, no?” she hesitantly says. “It’s just… a lot of food.”
“Oh!” Kara looks at the spread in front of her, looking like she’s just noticing the sheer amount of food she just bought. “I—eat a lot!” And as if to demonstrate, she grabs one of the sticky buns and takes a large bite. Some of the syrup ends up on the corners of her mouth, and she brings her tongue out to lick it off.
Lena laughs at the display, oddly endeared by the entire thing. She leans over and—she was gonna go for the banana bread, but she makes a split second decision and grabs for the donut instead. She pinches off a piece and pops it in her mouth. She moans at the taste, because holy shit, this is good. “My god, where did you get this?”
“Noonan’s!” she beams. “It’s right in front of our building, I can’t believe you missed it!”
“Well, I’m still going through the restaurants around my apartment building,” Lena says, taking a less dignified bite out of the donut. This is one of the things she loves about National City—the food. She can’t believe she’s been missing out on all the things in favor of foie gras and caviar.
“Then I’m glad I brought you breakfast!”
Kara can’t help but feel giddy—Lena looks like she’s really enjoying the food. She would’ve been content to just sit here and enjoy the rest of her breakfast, but she remembers that she’s here for a reason. “So, I haven’t actually seen you around before.”
Lena hums, mostly engrossed on the muffin she’s started on. “I moved here a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, where are you from?”
She tenses for a moment, Kara senses it, and she also catches the slight uptick of her heartbeat.
“You don’t have to tell me!” she backtracks. “I mean, if you don’t want to. I’m sorry for even asking in the first place!”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Lena mumbles. She shifts on her seat, starting to look uncomfortable, and god, Kara should’ve just kept her mouth shut, because now Lena looks ready to bolt.
Change the subject. Change the subject.
“Have you been to Chow Hong’s?” Kara blurts out. “Best potstickers in National City!”
Kara gapes her. “What!?” she shouts, throwing her hands up. “Don’t tell me you’ve never had potstickers!” And, okay, she might be having a rather extreme reaction for such a trivial issue, but it’s an issue that needs to be remedied immediately.
“No? What is it?”
“The best food on Earth! It’s like little bite-sized pockets of yummy!”
Lena giggles, starting to look relaxed again. “Best food on Earth, huh? That’s a brave thing to say.”
“Well it is,” Kara says, entirely sure of herself.
“I’m afraid I’m gonna have to see for myself.”
Kara beams, pleased. “Okay good,” she says. “Because I don’t think we can be friends when you’ve never had potstickers.”
She hears Lena’s heart rate crank up a bit again, but the woman doesn’t show any outward sign of discomfort or awkwardness other than the way she’s dipping her head down a little. “Oh,” Kara hears her say.
Afraid of making her uncomfortable again, Kara diverts. “Anyway, how’s CatCo treating you so far?”
“Good,” Lena answers, voice still a little small. Good thing Kara has super-hearing.
“Great!” She tries to salvage the conversation. “Ms. Grant can be a little eccentric, but she’s a nice person!”
Lena only hums in agreement. The woman shifts on her seat, and Kara can’t help but think that she’s somehow managed to say the wrong thing again. “Anyway, um,” Lena begins, looking anywhere but at her. “How much do I owe you?”
Kara recoils. “Nuh-uh! This is my treat!”
“Please, I insist.”
“Really, it’s fine—”
Lena’s shoulders slump in defeat. Her hand’s still halfway in her purse, and she looks a little pained from where Kara can see her—and Kara’s so confused. She knows that she used to have trouble recognizing Earth’s social cues when she first arrived on the planet, but she’s doing fine now; she’s been called charming a lot of times, so how does she keep saying the wrong things when it comes to this woman?
“I’m sorry,” Kara blurts out.
Lena looks up at her and—god, she looks even more pained now. “W-What?”
“I’m sorry,” she says again. “I somehow keep saying the wrong stuff!”
“And I keep making things awkward! Like, I’m already awkward as a person, but usually I’m fine when it comes to normal conversations!”
“I just wanted to get to know you and—there is so much food! This isn’t the regular amount for two humans! You probably think I’m so weird—”
Kara stops. She feels a blush forming on her face—but it’s nothing compared to Lena; she’s already red-faced.
“You don’t have to—” Lena’s voice comes out all high and a little breathless, so she clears her throat. “There’s nothing to apologize for. Breakfast was lovely, but the company was even better. Thank you.”
Kara full on blushes. “Oh. You’re welcome.”
“And I am interested—I mean!” Lena backtracks so quickly, Kara’s eyebrows shoot up. “In being friends. I would like to be friends. With you.” She grows even redder, which Kara didn’t know was even possible. She shakes her head, then says, more seriously this time, “I’m sorry. I’m not used to this.”
“Used to what?”
She gestures vaguely. “Um, this?”
Kara looks confused.
“You know,” she says, still gesturing vaguely. “This.”
“No,” she sighs, slumping in her seat. “I’m not used to—friends.”
Kara’s eyebrows travel up to her hairline at the admission.
“And you weren’t saying the wrong things. I just react badly. So I’m sorry for making things weird.”
Kara can’t help the sigh of relief that escapes her. So she hasn’t been screwing up this entire time. “Oh! I was starting to get worried. That’s okay! I wasn’t very good at it at first too.”
“Oh, yeah! Social cues here are so weird, you know?” Kara scoots her chair closer to the table. “Anyway, I totally get it. We’re fine!”
And—gosh—the little smile that Lena sends her way. Kara really likes it.
Lena’s plan of moving to National City goes like this: leave the Luthor name, start new.
For the past few weeks since she arrived, start new has been getting more and more meanings. At first, start new was just getting a new name. Then it became the second-hand bright blue Ford Fiesta she now drives daily. Then it means getting a new job, a new wardrobe, and a new apartment. It means trying out new food—chimichangas, street tacos, chili dogs, and a whole array of sandwiches. It means having to sign up for a regular gym membership because there’s no SoulCycle in National City. The elevator in her apartment building stops working, so start new suddenly also means living in property she didn’t own, incompetent landlord and all that.
So, yeah. It’s been an adjustment so far—the shift from multi-billionaire to not even a millionaire anymore will do that to you—but it’s also been so liberating.
(She’s spent so long either under the shadow of the Luthor name, or chasing after it—never quite standing in its light. Because you’re not a Luthor. But she has to carry the burden of it, anyway.)
She doesn’t forget what she’s left behind. It’s still always there, looming at the back of her mind.
She thinks of Jack sometimes, of how they were going to change the world, of how Lena could’ve been content to spend the rest of her life with him; and she thinks of LuthorCorp even less, of how Lex pretty much gave it to her—no more family, but here’s a Fortune 500 company—of how she just gave it away, too.
She thinks of Lillian most of all. Lena doesn’t know if she’s proud or furious. Proud, because Lena’s managed to pull the rug from under her; or furious, for giving away the legacy of the Luthor family? Or maybe both?
(You’re not a real Luthor, she hears her say, all the time. And Lillian’s right. She’s not a Luthor, she’ll never be one, not anymore. She’s just proving her right.)
But now, in National City, where she’s Lena Kieran, the person she would’ve been, should have been, she finally feels like she can breathe. This is what starting new feels like, Lena thinks, like the first breath of fresh air after having been drowning for so long.
Starting new also now apparently means eating breakfast with Kara Danvers. Or, rather, being friends with Kara Danvers.
The reporter fumbles her way through the meal—she does that a lot, Lena notices. She had to interrupt an impending ramble, something Lena also had to do the last time she encountered the reporter. It’s odd, she thinks. She used to hate bumbling idiots back in college, but Kara somehow makes it charming.
Lena’s familiar with the company of well-spoken crooks and heirs of the world’s largest corporations, so Kara’s inherent ability to stumble her way through conversations while simultaneously seeming genuine has her feeling a little flummoxed, a little intrigued, and a lot out of her depth.
So it’s not Lena’s fault that she sort of… accidentally lets out a little prattle of her own.
She half-wishes the ground to eat her up, because really, who says, “I am interested in being friends” like they’re responding to a business proposal email?
Kara seems unperturbed by the entire thing, thankfully. Actually, she seems excited by the idea, rattling on about how she needs to try potstickers (it’s such a peculiar name for food, it’s fitting that Kara loves it so much), telling her about all the hot restaurants in National City, and giving her an entire rundown of the food festivals happening for the rest of the year.
Kara also apparently has the number of all the food carts in the city. How she managed to collect all of them, Lena doesn’t know.
It’s when Kara says, “You should come to game night!” that has Lena feeling a little overwhelmed (the feeling’s long overdue, she should’ve felt overwhelmed the moment the reporter offered her breakfast).
“Every Friday!” she says excitedly. “It’s a thing my friends and I do. We play all sorts of games, eat food, drink beer, stuff like that.”
“And… you want me to come.” Lena should say no, right? This is a little too much already, right?
“Yeah! And then you can come and meet everyone!”
Lena blinks, a little lost. She should say no. She means to say no—game nights with friends, it’s not her sort of thing. But Kara’s looking at her with big, bright, beaming eyes, and suddenly she’s saying, “I’d love to come.”
“Cool! If you give me your number, I’ll text you my address!”
Kara forgets to get the password.
(In her defense, how is she even supposed to approach the subject? You can’t just ask someone you’ve just met for very delicate, very sensitive information from their job!)
She calls Winn, because there is no way she’s risking the newly-formed, possibly-very-fragile friendship she finally has with Lena.
“Kara!” he greets. “Did you get the password?”
“Yeah, about that…”
“I’m not gonna do it.”
“Why!? Alex is just giving me until today to fix this mess! And J’onn is threatening to transfer me to database administration!”
“Okay first of all, it’s your fault for underestimating CatCo! Second, Lena’s delicate, okay? I don’t wanna use her.”
“But I’m delicate too! And Alex keeps glaring that I might actually go ahead ask J’onn to transfer me anyway.”
Kara rolls her eyes. It’s not like Winn can see her, anyway. “I’ll handle Alex. Besides, I have good news!”
“Will it be better than Alex not disemboweling me before the day ends?”
“I invited Lena to game night!”
There’s silence on the other line. Kara checks if the call got cut, but it hasn’t. “Winn?”
“You invited her to game night?”
“Yeah? That’s what I just said.”
Kara hears Winn hum through the line. “Hm. Maybe I can try to get the password then.”
“Or you guys can get to know her and realize that she’s actually a good person. Then you wouldn’t have to hack into CatCo’s server anymore to get info on her! See, I totally thought this through!”
“Right. I still have to fix the mess the malware got us in though. I’ll try to tinker with what I have, see if I can make figure out a decryptor.”
“Do what you have to do, but no more hacking into CatCo, alright? I’m serious. I’ll talk to Alex about it.”
“Fine, fine. But can you do it soon, though? I just saw her glaring at me through a glass pane.”
When Kara lands in the DEO at the end of the day, she’s a big ball of nerves. She’s planning to tell Alex about inviting Lena to game night, and she’s frankly unsure of how her sister’s going to react.
“Kara!” Winns calls her over. “I managed to fix the problem!”
“The one your new friend so kindly left for us.”
Kara at least lets out a sigh of relief. Winn solving the DEO’s computer issues would hopefully alleviate some of the righteous rage her sister usually has.
“Turns out it just scrambles the first few kilobytes of each file, that’s why it managed to infect so much real quickly!”
She looks at Winn’s screen and, again, has no idea what’s going on because she never really dived into the complexities of Earth-standard computers. She’s handled a lot of alien technology, but she’s never gotten the hang of Earth’s technological interfaces.
“But I’ve never seen ransomware start infecting so fast though, it was near instant! The Stanley Kubrick quote was a nice touch, too, although I don’t really know the significance of The Shining with the structure or context of the code. It’s just cool.”
Kara pretends to understand; it’s important when Winn starts to ramble on like this. She hasn’t seen The Shining, it’s a scary movie.
“Anyway, it’s sort of amazing how it managed to access so much files in such a short amount of time. I’m kinda excited to meet your new friend on Friday.”
Kara perks up at the mention of Friday. “Yeah! And she’s never had potstickers, either. So I’m buying some from Chow Hong’s so she can try them!”
“I thought I was buying the potstickers?”
“But you don’t buy the good ones. I want Lena to try the ones from Chow Hong’s.”
Winn raises his eyebrows. “Okay?”
When Alex finally walks into the command center, Kara turns her attention towards her. “Alex!”
Alex looks up from the tablet she’s been looking at. “Oh hey, I thought I heard you come in. How was work?”
“Oh, you know. Same old, same old.” She steps in beside her sister, who’s busy tapping away on the tablet. When a few moments pass between them, she starts again, “So, I have something to tell you.”
“Hm, what is it?”
“You know how you wanted to get info on Lena?”
“Oh yeah, did you get anything interesting?”
Alex looks up from the tablet again, now eyeing her sister with more interest. “What is it?”
“I invited her to game night so you guys can get to know her!”
A few beats pass. “You…” Alex starts, looking entirely confused, “…invited her to game night.”
“After talking to her two times.”
“Three times if you also count the Infernian attack.”
“You were Supergirl then.”
“It still counts!”
Alex looks off to the side, looking bewildered. She shakes her head. “Okay, so you invited her to game night after talking to her three times.”
“Yep!” Kara preens. “You said you wanted to get info on her—which is weird, by the way, I really wish you’d stop doing that—this way, you guys can get to know her properly, and she just moved into the city, I thought she could use a few friends.”
Alex blinks at her sister, at a loss for words, as she usually finds herself when Kara does something truly odd. “Okay,” she resolves. “I hope she likes red wine.”
Kara’s smiling giddily now, Alex’s reaction has been way better than she expected—she was prepared for vehement arguments, but maybe her sister’s in a good mood, too. She gives her a quick hug. “I’m sure she does! Anyway, I’ll go on patrol now. Thanks, Alex!” And with that, she speeds off.
She doesn’t see Alex and Winn exchange looks behind her.
FOOD IS A LANGUAGE OF LOVE. I've never actually tried a chimichanga, but the concept of it really baffles me. Deep-fried burritos? That's wild.
Anyway, minimal amounts of research has gone into the more technical aspects of this fic. I make them up from the stuff I already know, so can I just call the mistakes artistic license? Also, thank you for all the lovely comments!
Lena is bad at feelings. Kara is stressed. They help each other out.
Big-ish chapter for some big happenings. Buckle up y'all, Roulette's here.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lena knows a thing or two about having friends. Besides, Jack was her friend before they started dating. But it’s having someone like Kara Danvers as a friend that she isn’t used to.
Jack and her used to see each other everyday, but that was normal when you went to most of the same classes, then proceeded to work on a start-up together. But without that circumstance, is it normal to see a friend everyday? Did you have to take a few days in between? Should she just follow Kara’s lead?
Maybe she should just let Kara start their interactions. Besides, they made plans, right?
So, yeah, she avoids Kara the next day.
Okay, maybe avoid is a strong term, but Lena does spend the entire day in the server room.
She hasn’t discovered any more hiccups in the security, and she thinks that she’s scared off whoever’s been messing with the CatCo server with the trick she pulled. (It’s not like virus she made is lethal, she mainly made it to mess with Jack, after all. She still won that hackathon though.)
It’s lunch time when Lena checks her phone.
Kara Danvers [9:17 AM]: hi!! good morning! hope you eat breakfast :)
Kara Danvers [9:19 AM]: i’m running a little late, i had a long night
Kara Danvers [9:19 AM]: a long night chasing stories!!!
Shit . Okay, three messages isn’t all that bad. She used to miss days’ worth of messages and calls when she gets busy in the lab. But is Kara the sort of person to get mad at that? Jack used to set her a quota of two days of disappearing without contact when she gets immersed in a project. A few hours’ late reply isn’t all that bad (relatively speaking).
Lena Kieran [12:00 PM]: Hello, Kara. Sorry - got busy at work. Have a nice lunch.
The reply comes almost instantly.
Kara Danvers [12:00 PM]: have a nice lunch too!!!
Lena thinks that that’s that on their text conversation, so she sets her phone back on the desk and tries to finish off her patch on the server’s firewall before she goes down to get lunch. It proves to be a more challenging task, because before she knows it, almost an hour has passed.
There’s another text message from Kara when she goes to check the time on her phone.
It’s a picture of the reporter, likely taken by someone else, smiling into a big bowl of pho.
Kara Danvers [12:08 PM]: lunch :) what are you having
When Kara said that she eats a lot yesterday at breakfast, she really meant it. It’s probably the biggest bowl of pho Lena’s ever seen.
Lena Kieran [12:52 PM]: Wow, that’s a lot. Did you finish it?
As expected—the reply comes instantly. Lena just assumes Kara’s phone is always in her hand, or nearby. It must be a reporter thing.
Kara Danvers [12:53 PM]: of course i did!!! and i also had spring rolls! what did you have?
Lena Kieran [12:54 PM]: I actually missed lunch. Got busy at work. It’s fine, I had breakfast.
It’s true. She did have breakfast. She got a veggie sub on her way to work from that vendor she found on her first day in the city.
Kara Danvers [12:54 PM]: what! you gotta eat lunch, that’s important too!!
Lena Kieran [12:54 PM]: I’ll just get a granola bar from the vending machine
Kara Danvers [12:55 PM]: nonsense!!! i’ll get you something
Lena’s stomach lurches. Is Kara serious? She types a quick reply.
Lena Kieran [12:55 PM]: No, you don’t have to do that
No instant reply comes, so she deduces that Kara is, in fact, serious. Are friends usually so insistent that you get complete meals all the time? She doesn’t really remember Jack being this stringent when it comes to food. It might be a Kara Danvers thing. She does have an enthusiasm when it comes to it.
She doesn’t know what to do in the minutes that follow. Does she go back to her desk to wait for Kara?
But she doesn’t have to figure it out any longer, because a few minutes later, someone knocks on the glass pane outside the server room. It’s Kara, brandishing a brown take-out bag.
“So this is where you slink off to when you’re not on your desk,” Kara says when Lena exits the room.
“Oh, um, yep.” Lena blushes. “How’d you even find me? I never told you I was here.”
“You said you got caught up in work. Since you weren’t at your desk, I figured you were down at IT.” Kara grins. “And I was right.”
“I’m surprised you even know where the IT department is.” Everyone’s been asking her.
“I used to be Ms. Grant’s assistant, so I’m supposed to know where everything is.”
That’s right, she was. Eve told her, and Cat often refers to a Kiera . “Oh, right, Eve told me, and I hear Ms. Grant mention you a lot. I thought you were a Kiera before, though.”
“Well, that’s Ms. Grant.” Kara laughs. “What does she call you?”
Lena’s heart stutters in her throat, her mind flashed back to her conversation with the CEO. “Oh, you know,” she stammers. “A different name every time.” Okay— shit —she just lied. She doesn’t know why the thought bothers her; pretty much her entire existence in National City is a big lie. But Kara Danvers is apparently a friend now, and isn’t lying to friends normally frowned upon? She hopes Kara doesn’t notice.
It doesn’t seem like she does, because Kara’s suddenly jumping up and showing off the take-out bag she’s carrying. “I got you lunch!” she says, loudly. She’s brandishing the bag now, almost shaking it in front of her. “It’s pad thai. I always see you with that Thai bubble tea you like so much, so I assume it extends to the entire Thai cuisine.”
Lena takes the bag from her—partly because, okay, she is feeling a little hungry; and partly because it looks like the bag’s going to tear with the intensity that Kara’s shaking it with. She catches it from the bottom with one hand, her other hand making its way to her back pocket to grab for her wallet. “How much do I owe you?”
“Oh, no! This is my treat.”
She looks at her weird. “Kara, come on, you just bought me lunch.”
“Which I didn’t have to do,” she points out. “Because I wanted to do it.”
Lena’s a little at a loss for words, and very confused. Why does Kara keep buying her food? “Please, I insist. You already got breakfast yesterday.”
“Again, I wanted to do that.”
She’s a bit unnerved now. “But you can’t just keep—” she takes a deep breath, calming her nerves down. She has to remind herself that Kara hasn’t done anything inherently bad. “Please, Kara? I’ll feel guilty.”
There’s a moment where they sort of stand each other off, but it’s Kara who eventually relents. “Okay, fine,” she says. “It was, like, four dollars.”
Lena raises a brow in challenge. She knows it’s a lie. She recognizes the logo on the take-out bag, it’s from the Thai place near her apartment building—which was just a few blocks away from CatCo—and the pad thai there definitely didn’t cost four dollars.
Kara huffs. “Fine, it was actually ten dollars.”
Lena smirks, satisfied. She fishes for her wallet and hands Kara the bills. She hesitates for a moment after that, unsure of what to do next. What’s the proper protocol after a friend, who has already eaten, buys you lunch?
“Um, I don’t have anything to do for a while,” Kara says, cutting her thoughts off, “if you… wanted some company while you eat. I mean, it’s totally fine if you don’t! I just wanted to make sure you eat lunch.”
“Sure, I’d love some company.” Lena smiles. She’s surprised that she means it. She’s been blindsided by the reporter at every interaction—she’s odd, but endearing; she stumbles on her words a lot , but she’s charming. If National City’s sunny disposition were ever personified, Lena’s sure it would be Kara Danvers.
The break rooms are empty since lunch has technically just finished.
On their way there, Lena mentally prepares: What topics should I tackle when I talk to her? What are some appropriate subjects to talk about when you’ve just met a week ago? We both work at CatCo—should I just ask her about work? She’s a reporter—maybe ask her about any articles she’s working on.
“So…” Lena starts once they’ve seated and she’s broken apart her chopsticks. “What stories have you written?”
Fuck—crap—wait—doesn’t that just show that I don’t read the CatCo magazine myself? Shit, she’s gonna think I’m a horrible employee.
Kara bolts up from her seat. “Oh! Um,” she says, “actually… You know the—when the president came here? For the alien amnesty.”
Okay, Lena definitely remembers that. She flashes back to red and blue, but swallows it down. “Oh, yeah.”
“I wrote about the attack.”
And Lena doesn’t know how to react to that . “Oh.”
“Yeah, with the alien and the fire, and everything…”
“Yeah, I know what happened…” She takes a deep breath. “I was, um, there.”
Kara’s silent for a while, which is new , and a little alarming, so Lena looks up at her. She’s fiddling with her sleeves, biting on her bottom lip, and pretty much avoiding Lena’s eyes.
“Kara,” Lena calls. The reporter looks back up at her.
She sighs, then looks to brace herself before saying, “I was there too. I saw you. With the alien, and the rock.”
Lena pauses. “Oh.” She’s been saying that word a lot.
There’s a few beats of silence—Lena thinks it’s her call to break it, but she honestly doesn’t know how to go from here. This situation definitely doesn’t come in any friendship manual.
But the reporter, as excitable as she is, shifts the mood. “I think it’s pretty cool!”
“What?” Lena looks at her, flabbergasted. “You think it’s cool ?”
“Yeah! You saved the president’s life!”
“I threw a rock .”
“The rock that saved the president’s life.”
Lena’s jaw drops for a moment. Is this really happening? Is she really being accused of saving the president’s life for throwing a rock? “It was an acute response. It was hardly rational.” She needs Kara to understand this, because it seems like the entire thing’s blown out of proportion.
Kara shrugs away her comment. There’s a beaming smile on her face that’s sending Lena’s stomach sick in knots because it’s aimed at her . “I think it’s brave! Everyone would have ran, but you stayed and helped, you know? You also saved that detective’s life! And I heard from a my source that you knew how to stop the alien!? How cool is that—”
One of the chopsticks in her hand snaps in half. She doesn’t even notice how tight her grip is on the utensils until she finally can’t hear this anymore and she slams a hand down on the table harder than necessary. “ Kara! ”
Kara jumps in her seat and shuts up.
“I’m not—” she starts, but swallows thickly. “Is this why—” Lena feels one of the sharp edges of the splinters from where her chopsticks snapped dig into her closed palm, so she unclenches her fist and drops the pieces onto the table. “ Look ,” she starts again, “I don’t know what stunted view you have of me—”
Kara’s face twists in horror. “What, Lena—”
“But I am not what you think I am. I’m not some hero that saved the president’s life. So if all this is why you want to be— friends , then stop.”
Kara tries to backtrack, tries to salvage the unexpected turn the conversation took, but Lena’s already standing up.
“Thanks for lunch,” she tells her, voice stiff and avoiding Kara’s eyes. She walks out of the break room, leaving Kara alone with the untouched pad thai.
Something’s gone terribly wrong.
Maybe Kara came on a little too strong—she’s passionate , alright?—she can be a touch too excitable at times. Or maybe she misinterpreted the entire thing, or played it up too much in her head. But Lena just snapped , like she hated just hearing about it.
And Kara, for the life of her, doesn’t know why .
“Supergirl, you got a minute?” her in-ear comm buzzes. “I got an alien corpse here that needs identifying.”
She could use the distraction.
“Yeah, I’ll be there.”
It turns out to not be much of a distraction—she arrives, and all she does is literally identify the alien. Alex and her new cop friend Maggie pretty much does all the work, but at least now she has a shiny new prospect for a story that could hopefully meet Snapper Carr’s high standards.
But when she goes and proposes it, all she gets back is, “That’s not a story, that’s a half-baked idea.”
So now all she has is an alien corpse, no leads, and definitely no idea on how to even begin baking the story.
She’s not having the best day.
Lena assumes she’s no longer invited to game night.
It’s alright. She moved to National City intent on getting a fresh start, and she has been doing good so far in her life as Lena Kieran. She has an apartment and a job, and what else should a life be? Making friends was never part of the plan—she’s never really even thought about it.
Until Kara Danvers came barreling in.
But if she’s expecting her to be some brave hero for being at the right place and throwing a rock at the right time, then no . Lena can’t be that person.
(She wants to laugh at her face, because of all the things, she sure as hell isn’t brave , because who ran away the minute things fell apart again?
And she tries not to think of Lex—who was the only person worth saving, really—how she watched him descend into darkness, because she couldn’t help him, she couldn’t save him .
So, yeah. Nothing could be further from the truth.)
She could stay stewing in her apartment the entire night, but some things don’t change. She needs a drink.
She goes inside a promising pub called Fine Food & Spirits and finds that it’s filled with people in costumes.
Ah shit, is it Halloween?
It doesn’t take her too long to regret going inside—if people are already loud and boisterous on a normal night out, they are even more so at Halloween. It doesn’t help that she also probably sticks out in the crowd, she’s one of the few not in costume, and she’s dressed like she just left the office. Which she did.
But no one turns their head around when she walks in, most of the attention is on a pair of guys doing a line of shots on the bar, so she feels a little encouraged to continue on.
She squeezes between the crowd and orders a whiskey neat. She asks for top shelf, and rolls her eyes when the bartender reaches for a bottle of Johnnie Walker. She accepts it anyway, and nurses the drink to the quieter corner of the pub.
Everyone’s there with company—mingling with their friends, exchanging stories, and laughing hysterically at inside jokes and anecdotes, and god does Lena ache for that sort of companionship. Not that she’d ever admit it.
(It’s a fleeting thought—one that has come up very rarely throughout her life.
She’s seen it in movies and TV shows; having a tight-knit group of friends that she could hit up for drinks when she needed them. To have people to call whenever she did something. She had Jack back then, of course, but that was different. There were things she could never tell him, things he would never understand.
But she knows it’s all fiction, what she wants. But it still would’ve been nice.)
She startles when one of the pair of guys doing shots accidentally stumbles onto her table. “Woops,” he says. Lena looks at him, bewildered. He’s not quite standing straight, his legs are half-slanted and the only thing keeping him upright is the grip on the table. “D’you mind if I sit here?”
Lena looks around the pub, sees no other empty chair, and the guy is absolutely hammered . Something tells her that he’d collapse to the floor if she refused. “Yeah, sure.”
He grins dopily and flops onto the chair in front of her. Lena doesn’t know what to do, and half wishes he passes out—he looks well on his way to, anyway. “M’name’s Winn,” he slurs. “Yours?”
The guy closes his eyes and nods almost solemnly. “Mhmkay,” he mutters. Then his head tilts to the side and hits the wall with a subtle thud .
A few moments pass, and Lena deduces that he’s passed out. She hopes that whoever he was doing shots with at the bar was someone he knew, because he’s well past fit to go home on his own, and Lena isn’t really in the mood to babysit a drunk stranger.
A loud grunt of pain emanates from the bar, and Lena whips her head up to look at the source.
Winn, or Finn, or whatever his name is suddenly sits up.
There’s a guy on the bar covered in toilet paper, looking at his horribly bent arm in horror, screaming in pain, and Lena shoots up to her feet.
The guy who she recognizes as the one Winn-or-Finn was doing shots with jumps back, looking entirely shocked. “That’s not… bending the right way,” he stammers, pointing at toilet paper guy’s possibly dislocated arm.
He’s still screaming in pain, and Lena sees him try to move the injured arm, so she snaps up, alert and rushes her way to him. “Hey, don’t move your arm!” she shouts, getting everyone at the bar’s attention. She pushes past the crowd, shoots a look at the bartender and barks, “Get some ice and call 911!”
Thankfully the bartender complies.
She makes her way in front of the toilet paper guy. “I’m licensed in First Aid, I don’t have my certificate to verify that right now, so you’re gonna have to—”
A man wearing a wolf mask barrels into the area. Even though she can’t see his face, there’s a certain tone of rage in his steps. “You!” he shouts, getting Winn-or-Finn’s shot buddy’s attention. Before the guy can react, and before Lena can even tell him to stop, wolf-man swings his arm back and decks him across the face—
And retracts his arm back to hold his fist with his own scream of pain.
Lena whips her head towards the other guy, who doesn’t even look as much as affected by the punch. “Uh…” he mutters.
Winn-or-Finn rushes into the scene. “Time to go!” he chirps, more awake than he was a few minutes ago, and pushes his friend out of the bar before anyone else can react.
What the fuck?
When all is said and done, with the two bar-goer’s injuries iced and stabilized to the best of Lena’s minimal First Aid training goes, the ambulance arrives. She gives them a short report on the injuries and makes her way back into the bar.
She waves the bartender down. “How much do I owe you for my drink?”
The bartender is having nothing of what she’s saying. “Hell no you’re not paying. Everything you order tonight’s on the house. Whiskey neat, right? Want another?”
Lena blinks, caught a little off-guard. “Oh, no, I’m actually heading out.”
“Alright. Just call me if you change your mind, yeah?”
She nods, and he leaves to entertain another customer. Lena contemplates if she should get another drink, but her day’s been crazy enough as it is already, so she gets up and leaves.
She’s just exited the bar and is about to turn to the direction of the apartment when she hears someone say, “Oh, you again.”
Lena looks towards the voice. “Detective Sawyer.”
“Are you here about the bar brawl?”
Maggie smiles. “Yep,” she says. “I’m pretty much the go-to for any possible alien-related violence in the city.”
Lena scoffs. “ Alien? ” she asks incredulously. “It was just a regular bar brawl, I assure you.”
“Do you have a minute to talk about it?”
For a moment, Lena’s about to decline. But could it really be aliens ? The man from the bar didn’t look like an alien.
(But some aliens still look like people.)
“Of course,” she says.
Maggie looks mildly surprised, probably half-expected her to decline. “Could you give me a run down of the incident from where you saw it?”
“I was having a drink. I heard someone shout, saw a bent arm, and as someone formally trained in First Aid, I helped as much as I could.”
“There was another injured.”
“Oh, yeah the one with the mask. He punched another guy. I iced his fist before the ambulance arrived.”
“This guy he punched, what did he look like?”
“Six feet tall maybe, Caucasian, brown hair—wait, is he the alien?” Lena remembers him not so much as even flinching when he got punched. Was it invulnerability, like Supergirl? Is there another Super in town?
Maggie hums, scribbling something in her notepad. “Did he provoke the attack?”
“No, no. Was he the alien?”
“Was he with anyone else, any friends?”
“One. Another guy, a little shorter. His name is Winn, or Finn, I don’t really remember. He was passed out for most of the incident.”
Maggie a few final notes into her notepad. “Alright, thanks for your time, Ms. Kieran.”
Lena sighs. She pretty much accepts that she’s not getting any answer from the detective. “It’s no problem, detective.” She’s about to leave again when the detective stops her,
She turns back to look at Maggie.
“Could you maybe keep this on the down low?”
Lena pauses, a little surprised by the request, but nods anyway. “Of course.” There’s something odd about the way the detective asked her.
“Alright, thanks,” Maggie says. “I’d say see you around, but I have a feeling that we’ll see each other again soon.”
When Lena smiles, it’s genuine. “Have a good night, detective.”
Maggie waits for Lena to walk out of sight before calling Alex.
There’s something different about Lena Kieran that Maggie can’t quite place. There’s a grace to her movements that isn’t there for most people, her posture is great —she walks with her back straight and chin up, and her accent definitely isn’t local. But before she can think anymore about it, Alex picks up the phone.
There’s a little flutter in her stomach that she quells down. “Hey, it’s Sawyer.”
“Oh, hey, what’s up?”
“I had reports of an alien in a bar brawl in the city.”
“You think it’s related to the murdered Syvilian?”
“Not really, no. But it sounded like one of yours, so I checked it out. Do you know anyone named Winn or Finn?”
“What the f—” There’s a loud clatter in the background. “What did you hear?”
“One six foot alien, and a companion named Winn or Finn.”
“Fuck, I am going to castrate him.”
Maggie snorts. There’s something amusing and, well, a little hot about Danvers getting angry. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure it doesn’t escalate.”
“Were there any witnesses?”
“I mean, it was a bar brawl, there were a lot of witnesses. No one to worry about though, mostly just kids out partying for Halloween.”
“Although there is one person. Lena Kieran—the woman from the Infernian attack on the president. She was at the bar when it happened, saw the whole thing. She performed some First Aid on the injured. She’s who I got the description from, everyone else was too hammered.”
“Shit. Did she seem suspicious?”
“She suspects that one of your guys were alien.”
“Damn it. Fine, it’s fine, we’ve been keeping an eye on her since the Infernian attack. Anyway, I got the information on our alien perp—he’s a Brevakk. I got his address here, wanna check it out?”
Maggie grins. “Send me the address and I’ll meet you there.”
It’s an underground alien fight club, because of course it is . It can’t just be a normal homicide, because this is National City, of course there’s some secret rich-people society that gathers every night to see aliens fight each other.
She can’t even fault Snapper for not believing it at first.
Because even she can’t believe it.
What’s even worse is that the aliens seem to like it; being used for entertainment while they’re pitted against each other, hailing this Veronica Sinclair as some kind of savior , all for some cash, or to pay off debts.
And what Kara hates the most is that she actually understands their point of views. Even with the alien amnesty, aliens are still ridiculed and looked down upon by humans, but the fight club gives them the means to feel like they’re on top, to feel like they’re here for something . Nevermind if they’re being exploited for what they are.
It also doesn’t help that apparently Winn took Mon-El to a bar and caused some scene—and J’onn’s right, even with his misplaced outburst—humans are always going to be wary of aliens on Earth, and all it has to take is one of them to screw up for the entire conversation of alien rights to get scrapped.
It’s unfair, Kara can see that, she knows that, but she also got the easy out out of it because she’s Supergirl, National City’s Kryptonian sweetheart; and when she’s not, she’s Kara Danvers, CatCo’s cub reporter. She was taken in by a family who’s taught her how to fit in when she arrived on Earth, while most aliens come here without even speaking the language. How does she expect humans to open up to aliens when even Supergirl —one of the most well-received aliens on Earth, second only to Superman—has to moonlight as a human on her day-to-day life? She’s privileged—she looks like a human, but what about those that don’t?
Now Veronica Sinclair’s taking advantage of the still very flawed system, and she’s getting away with it with J’onn —one of the only people who she can so closely relate to, in both her alien roots and human side. All she wants to do now is save him but she doesn’t know how to do that either because the stupid fight club managed to disappear without a single trace .
So yeah, she can’t be blamed when she accidentally destroys the coffee machine in the top floor break room.
She doesn’t even want to be in the office right now, but Snapper’s been ringing her and Alex pretty much banished her from the DEO.
(“Look, we can’t concentrate on finding J’onn with your stomping around and constantly ringing phone so will you please go to your job? You can get here within seconds and we’ll call you when we find something.”)
Kara whips around at the voice. Lena’s standing at the doorway, eyeing the broken coffee machine—and it’s like a sucker punch, because oh yeah, things weren’t doing good with her either.
“Did you break that?”
She looks at the coffee pot handle in her hands—just the handle, the rest of the pot is shattered. “I’ll, um, replace it.” There’s a puddle of coffee in front of her. “I’ll also clean this up.”
“I can call the cleaning lady,” Lena offers. “I saw her on the way here.”
“Yeah, that’d be, um, good.”
Lena turns and walks out of sight. A few moments later, she arrives with Irene, the cleaning lady. Good thing Kara brings her snacks sometimes; she doesn’t seem so bothered to clean up her mess.
Lena’s still there when Irene finishes cleaning up, and all Kara can do is stand sheepishly off to the side. She really has nothing to do—both in her Supergirl job or her reporter job, because all she’s been working on is that underground alien fight club, and she has no leads at all.
“Are you alright?” Lena asks suddenly.
Kara looks up in surprise. “Um, yeah, why?”
“I saw you storm out of Snapper’s office, and, well.” She gestures at where the coffee machine used to be.
“Oh.” Kara pauses, then says, “I’m fine.”
Lena looks unconvinced, but doesn’t push her any further. “About the other day, at lunch. I’m sorry for snapping at you. It was uncalled for. I had some personal issues and I let it out on you, which is unfair, so I’m sorry.”
Kara’s caught off-guard, because she wasn’t expecting an apology of all things from Lena, she thought she was the one that somehow screwed up. But it does make her feel a touch lighter, and the personal issues explains the outburst. “It’s okay. And you can tell me things, you know? About whatever’s bothering you. It’s what friends do.”
Lena dips her head down, and when she looks back at Kara, she’s worrying her bottom lip. “You can, too,” she says, “I mean, you can tell me what’s bothering you too. If you want to. You don’t have to, though.”
And Kara softens . “I don’t really know where to start.”
“How about from the beginning?” Lena looks to think. ”Wait no, how about… why did you storm out of Snapper Carr’s office just now?”
“I think it’s more my fault than his, to be honest,” she sighs. She leans back against one of the counters. “I don’t think I’m cut out for reporting.”
“Because I’m no good at it?” Kara laughs, but it’s empty and pitiful, to be honest. “He asked me for a follow up on the article I proposed, and I have nothing.”
“Did you follow up on your sources too?”
“Yeah, I did. But the police is pretty much at a loss, too.”
“The police ? Then you’re not a bad reporter, you’re just at a stalemate. What can you do if the authorities don’t know how to go forward either?”
“I don’t know, more , I guess?”
“It’s not really your job to do more . How about another story?”
Kara groans. “I can’t .” She buries her face in her hands and hunches down.
Lena’s quiet for a while, before she seems to realize what’s going on. “There’s more to the story, isn’t there?”
Kara nods meekly.
“What is it? Personal stakes?”
Kara looks up from her hands, then around the break room. Even though it’s empty at the moment, she scoots closer to Lena so they can have some semblance of privacy. “A friend of mine got involved in something shady,” she explains, “like, underground fight club sort of shady.”
“You’re writing about an underground fight club ? What kind of friend is this?”
Lena’s face twists in confusion. “So a special friend.”
There’s a suggestive tone in her voice, and Kara cringes. “ No, not like that,” she denies—because ew . “He’s an… alien. It’s an underground alien fight club.”
Lena’s eyebrows shoot up.
“It’s being arranged by this woman named Veronica Sinclair, and her target market is National City’s high and mighty. But the fight club sort of moves around, I guess, because when my friend disappeared and I went to the old venue, the place was wiped clean. Like it was never there.”
“Wait, you went there yourself ?”
Kara realizes what she’s just said, and, well oops . “Yeah, but it’s fine though, no one was there.”
“But what if there was ?”
Kara waves a hand and tries to shrug it off. “Supergirl will save me.”
Lena’s jaw drops. “ Supergirl will save you ,” she repeats, sounding baffled.
“Yeah, of course.” It’s a stupid thing to say, Kara knows this. But she just blurted out the first thing she thought of and now she has to roll with it.
“That’s a lot of trust to put in one person.”
“Well, she is a superhero.”
The woman’s jaw drops down even further, and Kara might make the entire situation worse if she keeps on talking, so she has to make an escape fast . “Anyway, um,” she says, “I gotta go and follow up on some of my other leads, see what I can find. I’ll see you later, alright?”
Lena watches her straighten herself up, and she’s about to race out of the room when the other woman grabs onto her arm.
“Hey, um,” Lena starts, looking a little conflicted. “Be careful, okay? I know I can’t tell you what to do, but don’t charge into trouble on your own. If you’re so sure that Supergirl’s coming, then wait for her.”
Kara’s eyes widen in mild surprise, and Lena drops her arm. A slurry of feelings wash over her, and she finds her face feeling a bit warmer than usual. Gosh, Lena’s concerned about her and it’s sending an odd flutter in her stomach that she can’t quite place just yet, so she does the only rational thing she can think of—she hugs her.
“Gosh, I’m so glad we’re okay now,” she murmurs. It’s a good hug (Lena smells really nice), even though Lena’s a little stiff, but her arms eventually find their way around her, albeit it being a little loose and a little awkward.
Kara lets go of her before she decides to off-handedly nuzzle her face into the woman’s neck, because Kara’s touchy like that. Lena takes an aggressive step back when she lets go, her face is beet-red. Kara has the urge to hug her again, but stops herself because Lena might already find it too much.
“Sorry about that,” Kara apologizes, though she’s smiling.
“It’s fine,” Lena wheezes.
“Anyway, I’ll, um, go now,” she says. Because she really does need to go. Because she might do something stupid again.
“I’ll see you, okay?”
“Yes, I’ll see you.”
Kara’s still smiling when she turns to skip out of the room, chest feeling lighter than it’s ever been in the past few days.
She doesn’t know what possesses her to follow Kara into the break room after she storms out of Snapper Carr’s office. She understands that the guy can be downright unpleasant, but she’s never seen the reporter look so off-balanced and angry , and Lena feels the unbidden tendrils of concern wrap around her stomach.
It’s obvious that Kara’s troubled, even though she denies it. The shattered remains of the coffee machine pretty much confirms it for Lena. Seeing the normally sunny and bubbly reporter look so untethered sends a stab down her chest because it looks so wrong .
So she apologizes.
Her snapping at Kara has nothing to do with the reporter, and if Lena can lift even the smallest burden off her right now, she would. So she apologizes.
And it feels good when she says it—it feels good when Kara hears her, and while she’s not yet ready to tell Kara, or anyone, everything , her offer to listen feels like one day she would be (because before this, she never would have been ready, never would have even considered it).
The name Veronica Sinclair catches her off-guard, though.
And finding out that Kara Danvers—the sweet, charming Kara Danvers—stormed into what could have been an underground alien fight club arranged by her infamous boarding school classmate alone , unarmed , and defenseless almost sends her into a stroke. And the reporter’s unmoored admiration and possibly borderline hero-worship for Supergirl is isn’t alleviating that concern.
(Lena represses the memory of the hug—for now. She’ll get back to that later, because, shit, what the fuck, when was the last time someone hugged me again? And also because her new friend possibly has no sense of self-preservation so she has to set that aside to handle things.)
For some reason it doesn’t quite surprise her that Roulette would exploit the delicate beginnings of the alien community in National City.
She did the same in Metropolis.
Although it has a significantly smaller alien population, Metropolis was still a hub for the wealthy. Roulette would go about her business there, setting up venues of niche entertainment, targeting the one-percenters in wealth and power.
She knows this because Lex used to be a frequent goer. Building up his alien database was just a bonus from the sadistic pleasure he got from watching aliens kill each other. She only discovers this, of course, after going through his bank statements after his arrest. He spent millions just betting on which species would kill which.
She wondered before, how he even knew of the events, then discovered some demented newsletter for the rich and powerful arrive in his inbox.
(It was surreal discovering that for sure—it was what solidified her decision to move—finding out that her brother, the only family she had left, was all sorts the disgusting and vile person everyone has been saying he is.)
It’s a stretch to act on that thin assumption—that Lex’s untouched email would still be receiving that newsletter. But she found out about it when it arrived after his prosecution, so the assumption isn’t that unfounded.
But it’d still be a risk—Lex’s email is being hosted by LuthorCorp’s servers—a keystroke out of place and she’d be pinging her location. She has to divert attention in case that happens, has to orchestrate something else to make it seem like that’s the main target of the attack, not Lex’s emails.
And she knows just what to do.
It’s been hours since they last heard from J’onn, and Kara’s back to pacing in the DEO.
She’s on her, possibly, twenty-seventh round of the command center when her phone vibrates in her pocket. She scrambles to reach for it, but it’s only an email. From the weirdest email address she’s ever seen.
“Could you take a look at this?” She walks over to him and hands him her phone. “I got an email, but the return address is really weird.”
Winn looks over her phone, and his eyebrows shoot up. “Huh. It’s from an onion email provider.”
“It means that it’s pretty much untrackable. People use onion emails a lot on the dark web.”
Kara hums, eyebrows scrunched. “Should I open it?”
“Uh, maybe open it up on a virtual machine. You don’t know what’s in it. Here, I’ll launch mine and you can log in.”
Winn does just that, and Kara logs in her email.
“There’s no subject or body, just a PDF attachment,” Winn says. “It—” He leans into the monitor. “Holy shit. The filename mentions LuthorCorp.”
“What!?” Kara pushes him away so she can see.
“Should we open it?” she asks. “Do you think it’s dangerous?”
“It shouldn’t affect us if it’s some kind of virus, that’s what the virtual machine’s for.”
“Okay, open it.”
Winn double clicks on the attachment—and the tension and anticipation while it loads is almost unendurable. And when it finally opens—
“Oh my god,” Kara gasps, “it’s the blueprint for the Venture’s oscillator.”
Am a bit partial as to where I ended this chapter, not gonna lie. But my goal was to contain and resolve the light angst in this one chapter, so I think it's fine? And if anyone's worried, Mon-El is going to be more of a pedestrian in this than a roadblock. So that's that on that.
I also realized I never told you guys that the title of this fic came from Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. Go listen to it!
Plus, I made a a dark mode skin for AO3 because Reversi wasn't dark enough for me. Thought I'd share it if anyone's into that.
Kara suspects something. Lena goes to game night and formally meets everyone.
Alex paces in front of her.
“Walk me through it again.”
Kara sighs. It’s about the third time she’s repeated this. “I got an email from an untraceable address with LuthorCorp’s blueprints for the Venture’s oscillator at the same time the NCPD got an anonymous tip on the location of the alien fight club.”
“And this is related, how?”
“I don’t know if it’s related, I just think it’s a little fishy. Someone breaches one of the largest corporations in the world just when the police receives an anonymous tip to bust an event that exclusively caters to the rich and powerful. It can’t be a coincidence.”
“How much thought have you put into this?”
Kara huffs. Is she seriously being interrogated right now? “Not much? We literally just got back from getting J’onn. It’s just an inkling.”
Alex stops pacing, her arms dropping to her sides. “You’re right. Sorry. Just got a little concerned that the email was sent to you—and, well, it’s LuthorCorp, you know?”
And Kara gets it. She really does. But she’s also tired and wants to lie down and eat ice cream. She’s had a long few days. “I know.”
“What are you planning to do with the blueprints?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t really gotten the chance to think about it.”
There’s something nagging in Kara’s brain—like maybe she’s on the cusp of something, or maybe she isn’t seeing something that’s supposed to be right in front of her. She can’t quite put her finger on it.
“Can you tell me first before you do anything?” Alex asks. “I just wanna be ready.”
“Yeah, of course.”
The first time Lena opens a CatCo magazine, it’s to read Kara Danvers’ article on the underground alien fight club.
She buys it on her way to work, snags it off the newsstand right outside her apartment building. She thumbs through most of the magazine until she lands on the article she’s looking for.
UNDERGROUND FIGHT CLUB ABUSES NATIONAL CITY’S ALIEN POPULATION
Written By Kara Danvers
She can’t help the smile when she sees Kara’s name on the byline.
The story is good. It’s compelling, intriguing, and with the rise of alien amnesty, incredibly important.
Kara’s passion is glaringly obvious with the way it’s written—she uses strong words like brutal, insane, and cruel, but most of all, she presents the aliens in a light that most people wouldn’t see them in; victimized. It’s a view that paints them sympathetically, and a brave perspective to voice out in times like this; while public opinion is still wary at best. And Lena can’t help but admire the reporter’s determination when it comes to it.
Lena notices the contrast with the way Kara talks to the way she writes almost immediately. While she stumbles with the simplest words during their conversations; her written ones are sharp, unfaltering, and concise—it’s selection rather than compression—she doesn’t waste time on unnecessary details and dives straight to the hard facts of the story.
She’s isn’t a bad reporter. Not at all.
She’s pretty good , Lena thinks, better than I expected.
And there’s even a quote from Supergirl, which is—huh—surprising, to say the least. The reporter’s loyalty and trust in the superhero suddenly makes sense. Maybe National City’s resident Super has her own Lois Lane.
There’s a small tidbit that Lena looks for when she flips through the rest of the magazine, and she’s turned through all the pages twice already when she gives up.
(Her assumption that Lex’s email would still be receiving the exclusive newsletter had been right.
Getting into LuthorCorp’s servers was easier than she thought—she has helped reinforce its security, so she already knew all the knicks she could exploit. She could have been done without having to execute her plan to divert attention from her real goal, but she’s struck with a sudden, but very valid concern:
What’s to stop Kara from storming head-first into the battlefield herself? She’s already done it once. Who’s to say she won’t do it again when word of the anonymous tip she’s planning to send to the NCPD reaches her?
So, yeah, maybe leaking the blueprints for the Venture’s oscillation had been more to distract the reporter than LuthorCorp’s security ream.
And giving Kara potential material for a new article was just a bonus.)
(That’s, like, not nefarious at all, right?)
But there’s no mention of the Venture or its oscillator or LuthorCorp anywhere in the magazine.
Did I send it to the right email address?
Lena’s sure that she did. She wouldn’t get something like an email address wrong. But she can check, just to be sure. She sent it to the reporter’s CatCo email, which just so happens to be hosted in the CatCo server, which Lena has unrestricted access to.
She doesn’t bother to go to her desk when she arrives at CatCo, and instead goes straight to the server room. Which proved to be the wrong decision, because she gets a text:
Kara Danvers [8:38 AM]: good morning! i’m at your desk but you’re not yet here but i just wanted to let you know that i have breakfast for when you arrive at the office :D
So she pivots and walks straight back to the elevators while she types up her reply and—
Before she knows what’s going on, she’s falling, and Lena expects to hit the floor, but a hand reaches out to pull her back up—her feet still hasn’t regained its balance and she finds herself stumbling straight into Kara.
Kara doesn’t budge once, even when Lena unceremoniously smacks into her chest.
“Why is this happening again!” she hears Kara exclaim. Lena’s still a little thrown from the whiplash. “I’m so sorry, I was just about to text you that I was on the way here!”
It takes Lena a few more seconds to reclaim her senses. She blindly reaches a hand out and and pushes herself up on Kara’s shoulders. She teeters when she gets on her feet, and one of Kara’s arms reaches out to catch her by the small of her back.
“Woah,” is the first thing that comes out of Lena’s mouth. She’s still a little dazed and out of sorts—running into Kara really does feel like running into a wall. Except the wall is wearing a really soft sweater and probably uses a vanilla body wash.
“Are you okay?” Kara asks, bringing her head closer to inspect Lena’s face. “You didn’t get hurt, did you?”
“I’m fine,” Lena says, a lot more composed now after getting the chance to catch her breath. “You just literally knocked my breath away.”
Kara’s eyes widen for a moment and her face flushes, her head recoiling a bit.
Lena gives the reporter’s arms a squeeze. “You’re built like a truck. Didn’t even budge when I ran straight into you.”
“Anyway,” Lena says, taking a hurried step back. “Good morning, Kara.”
Kara seems to blink torpidly for a moment before regaining her composure with a quick shake of her head. She smiles her trademark smile. “Good morning!”
Lena can’t stop the curl of her lips—the reporter’s grin is just infectious. “I read your article on the fight club. It was really good,” she tells her.
“Yeah? You think so?”
“Of course. You’re not a bad reporter at all.”
She’s probably the best reporter at CatCo right now—yes, Snapper Carr, who has literally won a Pulitzer, is on the list, but his recent stories don’t have quite the relevant impact anymore; and Cat Grant has been too busy running a media empire to write articles—and while she’s only read the one issue, the rest of the articles she’s thumbed through were fluff pieces at best.
The look Kara gives her is positively beaming, her eyes crinkling with the intensity of her smile. “Thanks,” she whispers, almost wistfully. Kara raises her arms—to hug her, probably—but she catches herself and brings her hands together instead.
Lena wouldn’t have minded the hug.
“Um, breakfast?” Kara says, instead raising the paper bag she was carrying to show her.
“Sure,” Lena smiles.
No matter what break room they go to, it’s always empty, Lena notices.
“Does no one here take breaks?” Lena asks. “The break rooms are always empty whenever we go inside one.”
“Oh,” Kara says, looking around as if just noticing how there’s no one in there with them. “I guess people just prefer to eat outside the office. And there’s a balcony on every floor with tables, so maybe that’s where everyone is.”
They pick whatever table and sit down.
“I know it’s not really a breakfast food,” Kara says, pulling out foiled packages out of the bag, “but there’s this new Italian place that opened up and I smelled them when I walked by and I couldn’t resist the calzones.”
“Calzones sound perfect.”
Kara pulls out five calzones. Which shouldn’t really surprise Lena, but she decides that she’ll eventually get used to how much the blonde can eat. And still somehow manage to stay in shape. “I decided to get one of each flavor they had,” the reporter explains, pointing at each foiled package when she recites the flavors, “Classic pepperoni, meat lovers, ham and cheese, cheesy sausage, and a vegan one.”
She reaches for the vegan calzone and she pretends to not see Kara scrunch her nose up in apparent disapproval when she does. (She mentally starts a list of Kara’s Likes & Dislikes. Potstickers are on the top of her likes. She adds vegan food to dislikes.) “Tell me about your article,” she starts.
The reporter perks up. “Oh! My friend’s okay! They managed to get the fight club’s location and free the aliens. I mean, you know that, you read the article.”
“That’s good to hear. Were you there when they stormed the place?”
Lena almost sags in relief. It doesn’t matter if she did mistype the reporter’s email address to send the blueprints, then. She was probably sufficiently distracted at the time.
“But something else happened though,” Kara continues, “I got a weird email.”
Lena heart jumps, but she masks it by clearing her throat. Okay, so she did send it to the right email address. “Oh?”
“Yep,” Kara answers. “From the weirdest email address, too. I had a friend who’s really good with computers check it out, he says it’s pretty untraceable.”
It is untraceable. Lena made sure of that. “I see,” she says.
“Hey, you’re pretty good with computers too, right?”
“You could say that.”
Kara digs into her pocket and pulls out her phone. She swipes up her screen and turns it to Lena. It’s the email she sent. No subject, no body, just the one attachment. “What do you think?” the reporter asks.
Lena makes the display of pulling on the phone to bring it closer and squinting at the screen. “Yep,” she says once she’s looked at it for a few seconds. “Email addresses like those are pretty hard to trace.”
Kara hums and pockets her phone. Something in her look suggests that she didn’t really expect any other answer. “It would make sense that whoever sent it wouldn’t want to be found. It’s blueprints on the Venture’s oscillator,” she explains. But Lena already knows this. “The one LuthorCorp manufactured.”
The mention of LuthorCorp sends her stomach churning. “Really?”
The reporter nods, then takes a bite out her meat lovers calzone. “What I wonder is why now? It’s been, like, a month since the Venture exploded. I wasn’t even a reporter back then, so why send it to me?”
Lena pauses at the last thing. She obviously did not think this through. “You weren’t?”
“Nope,” she answers. “I only became a reporter after that.”
“The timing was really weird, too,” Kara continues, ripping a few strips off her calzone’s foil wrapping to reach the food better. “It was sent, like, at the same time the NCPD got their anonymous tip.”
Are Lena’s hands a little clammy? Maybe. “Yeah, that is weird.”
Kara doesn’t say anymore after that—which should be a relief, but it makes Lena more uneasy as the pause in their conversation stretches out, with Kara nibbling and being just generally preoccupied with her calzone. Lena tries to match it, being the picture of calm and unassuming when she takes a casual sip of her drink.
A few beats pass, then, “Anyway,” the reporter says suddenly. “You’re still coming to game night later, right?”
And Lena knows that she can’t refuse now. “Of course.”
You could say that Kara had a hunch.
Here’s the thing: the email arrived at the same time the anonymous tip came in at the NCPD. Was that enough to go on? Some would say no. Maybe it is a coincidence. If the email was sent to anybody else, Kara would’ve played it off as a coincidence. But she wasn’t even a reporter when the Venture exploded.
So, naturally, Kara tried to connect the dots, tried to see anything that might join all the facts together.
The email of the leaked blueprints for the Venture’s oscillator was sent to her.
It was sent to her at the same time the NCPD got their anonymous tip for the underground alien fight club (less than five minutes apart—she checked).
And the only reporter investigating the underground alien fight club was her.
At first she thought that maybe it was a Supergirl thing. But that didn’t make sense the longer she thought about it. Whatever it was connecting the email and the fight club, it was her—as in Kara Danvers, mild-mannered reporter her.
But not a lot of people even knew that she’s been looking into writing an article about the underground alien fight club—only Snapper, and she was required to tell him, being her boss and all that; Alex, because Kara likes to update her on the situation of her day job; and, well, Lena.
The answer to the question of how is suddenly clear to her.
Whoever did it obviously has some skills. Hacking into a top corporation’s servers to steal confidential blueprints and coming across heavily concealed information about an illegal event would require that.
And Lena is obviously some sort of computer genius, because of course she is. She managed to infect a chunk of the DEO’s network without her even trying, what else would she be capable of if she made a conscious effort?
It was all just a hunch, of course. One that she wasn’t really expecting to come to fruition, because her entire speculation was probably just a stretch at best—but it was also entirely possible. But was it true? Maybe, maybe not. She’s doesn’t really know.
But she can’t help it, she pokes and prods on the idea, and the second Lena’s heart rate rises when she mentions the email, she knows.
Now, the next thing she has to answer is— why?
But before that: does she tell Alex?
Kara tells Alex.
It starts out like this:
“I think Lena sent the email with the blueprints.”
Alex breaks the pen she’s holding in half, the plastic casing splintering and bouncing everywhere across the desk, and whatever document she’s been writing on gets irreversibly stained with ink. Kara winces. Maybe she should’ve eased her sister into it.
Slowly, deliberately, Alex looks up to look her dead in the eyes. “What?” she enunciates carefully.
“Okay, hear me out,” she starts, bringing her hands up in hopes of calming the incoming storm. “The only thing tying all of it together is me, and the only people who knew about me investigating the fight club was Snapper, you, and Lena. Snapper couldn’t have done this. And we know that you didn’t.”
“And how does Lena know?”
“I told her!” Kara explains quickly. “I was having a bad day and I accidentally broke the coffee machine at the office, Lena saw me, asked me what was wrong, so I told her.”
“And what exactly did you tell her?”
“Just about the fight club—I was really stressed, okay? I needed to vent and, well, Lena was there?” she trails off.
One of Alex’s eyes twitch, but her forehead vein has yet to make an appearance, so Kara thinks that this is going pretty well.
“Look, I don’t know why she did it,” Kara continues, “I guess to distract me? She seemed a little worried when I accidentally told her that I stormed the old venue of the fight club by myself.”
“You told her what—”
“It’s okay! I totally handled it. She doesn’t suspect anything.”
“Anyway! I think she did it to sort of, distract me, so I wouldn’t try to go in myself, you know?”
“And how would she even know about us storming the fight club that night?”
“Because I think she sent in the anonymous tip, too?” Kara cringes. That’s a lot to drop in one go.
“What!?” Alex screeches. Kara winces again. Alex brings a hand up to pinch the bridge of her nose, then takes deep breaths, before slamming a hand down on the table and saying, voice shaking with intensity, “Can I please do a background check on her?”
Kara’s jaw drops. “Absolutely not!”
“Kara!” Alex whines.
“Look, she doesn’t deserve the person-with-questionable-motives treatment!” she fights back.
“But she does questionable things!”
“No she doesn’t! She’s just been doing her job protecting CatCo’s servers, and she’s being a good friend helping me out with my article and making sure I stayed safe!”
“She infected the DEO with some custom malware, hacked into one of the world’s most secure corporations, and god knows how she even got the location of the fight club!”
“If you put it like that, then yeah, it’s sketchy! But she’s just a really smart person that wants to help, that’s not her fault! She hasn’t done anything bad! Just get to know her and you’ll see!”
They both engage in a stare-off, Kara not backing down with her own brand of a snarl, and Alex sending her the most intimidating look she could make at her sister (she would probably never verbally admit it, but Alex is incapable of looking threateningly at her for too long, the big softie).
It’s Alex who relents first, her shoulders slumping. She throws her head back and sighs. “Is she still coming to game night?” she asks.
Kara grins, having won. “Yes, she is.”
“Then I can’t wait to meet her.”
Kara Danvers [6:09 PM]: game night starts at 8! see you :)
Kara looks around her apartment after sending the text to Lena.
It’s a mess.
Her clothes are strewn around, there’s the dirtiest and muddiest rug by the window (for when she goes home from particularly messy missions as Supergirl), and she’s pretty sure that the last time she swept her floors was before the entire debacle of the underground alien fight club happened.
There’s a lot of work to do before her apartment looked visitor-friendly, but luckily she’s Supergirl, so it only took her the better part of an hour to make her living space presentable.
Now for the snacks.
Everyone else usually pitches in for food during game nights while Kara handled the drinks, but she still stands by Lena needing to try the best potstickers in National City. So she super-speeds her way downtown and gets five orders from Chow Hong’s, along with some chow mein and sweet & sour pork, then heads over to the nearest supermarket to get two six-packs of Alex’s beer, and a variety of drinks (orange soda for Winn, Pepsi for James, and a whole array of fruit sodas for herself—two of each, to be shared with Lena).
She arrives back in her apartment at 7:48, and Alex is the first to arrive at 7:50.
“Something slipped my mind,” she immediately says the second she steps inside the apartment. “Remember when Winn and Mon-El went to that bar?”
Kara mentally sighs. Her reaction to that particular information wasn’t that great (well, she wasn’t really having the best day; it was the day Lena walked out on lunch, and the day the mysterious Syvillian corpse was discovered). “Reluctantly, yes.”
“Lena was there, too.”
Kara pauses from where she’s standing, door to the apartment still halfway open. “What?”
“She was at the same bar. She saw the whole thing with Mon-El and the fight,” Alex explains, “There’s a chance she might know he’s an alien, and that she might recognize Winn.”
Kara stands there and regards the new information, and whatever the heck it might imply. “I think that’s fine?” she says, then repeats herself, more sure this time, “I think she’s fine with aliens.”
“I mean, she helped me, didn’t she? She saw how bothered I was that my alien friend got involved in a fight club, then she helped me,” Kara points out.
“Or maybe she just cares about you.”
Kara’s face twists in a weird look. “What’s that mean?”
Alex rolls her eyes, but drops the subject. “Maybe you’re forgetting that she also threw a rock at one.”
“Okay, that’s different, and you know it. That one was shooting fireballs.”
Kara had a point. She knew this, and Alex also knows this. “Okay, fine,” Alex relents. “She hasn’t really shown any signs of being a shady person aside from her shining intellect or whatever.”
Kara grins, then throws an arm around her sister. “That’s the spirit!” she exclaims. “You’re gonna love her!”
Alex rolls her eyes. “Maybe not as much as you do,” she mutters.
Kara Danvers [6:09 PM]: game night starts at 8! see you :)
Lena’s late. It’s 8:02 and she just left the office.
She curses under her breath. She wanted to make a good impression on Kara’s friends, and showing up late just made her up to be irresponsible. She can’t believe she missed her reminder to make her leave the office at 6 PM—but she’s been reinforcing CatCo’s firewalls from scratch, and that has been an extremely time-consuming project.
She also can’t help that she’s the type of person who likes to document her work.
Lena Kieran [8:02 PM]: I just left the office, I might be a little late.
Kara’s reply comes instantly, as it always does.
Kara Danvers [8:02 PM]: it’s ok!!! game night runs until whenever, so you can be as late as you want!
Lena Kieran [8:03 PM]: Can I bring anything?
Kara Danvers [8:04 PM]: just bring any snacks or drinks you like :)
Lena doesn’t really know what to bring to a game night. But she’s been thought to never show up empty-handed, so she lugs along a bottle of both red and white wine when she reaches the apartment building with Kara’s address.
Kara lives in Hope Street, and for some reason, it couldn’t be a more apt location for the reporter.
She dwells just outside the entrance for a few minutes, gathering her wits. She really has no idea what to expect in game night. She’s been thinking of just winging it; but she’s been winging her friendship with Kara so far, and she’s exploded on her once already.
So maybe winging it wasn’t the right approach. Maybe she should’ve done some research on various board games before coming here. She has no knowledge of them. All she knows is chess, and is that even an appropriate game for a game night with friends?
Maybe I should’ve bought a rosé too.
“Hey, are you alright?”
A voice snaps Lena out of her thoughts.
She swivels around and finds a burly, bald man standing behind her, and Lena almost honest-to-god passes out because Jesus Fucking Christ it’s James Olsen. Lena recognizes him because he’s sort of a celebrity in Metropolis—being the first photographer to capture Superman would do that—and what is he doing in National City?
She’s been silent for too long because James asks again, “Uh, are you okay? Do you need any help?”
Lena snaps out of it. “Excuse me?” she says dumbly.
“You’ve been standing out here for a few minutes, are you okay?”
“Oh.” Lena glances over to the building. “I was just on my way in.”
James nods, accepting her answer. “Me too,” he says, gesturing over to the front doors.
He pushes on the door and allows Lena to pass through before he walks inside himself and shuts it behind him. They both make their way to the elevator.
“Which floor you headed?” James asks, prepared to press the button on the elevator’s panel.
“Alright, me too.”
The elevator doors shut. And this is probably the most one-sided awkward situation Lena’s ever been in. She’s in the same elevator with her brother’s ex-friend’s best friend who probably doesn’t even know she exists. Or does he? Does he know who she is?
(No. Calm down. If he knew, he’d say something.)
The entire elevator ride is spent in a strained silence—the one that sort of comes if everyone’s not sure whether they should engage in small talk or not. But thankfully, it’s not that long ride, and soon enough they’re both exiting onto the fourth floor.
...only to walk in the same direction.
“Uh, where were you headed again?” the photographer asks, looking a little perplexed.
Lena glances down to the message Kara sent her earlier that week to make sure. “Unit 4A.”
James’ eyebrows shoot up. “Wait, you’re headed to Kara’s apartment?”
If Lena could walk straight out of the building without it seeming odd, she’d do it. She swallows down whatever nerves she’s having and says, “Yes, we work together.”
James bobs his head back, shocked. “You work at CatCo? I’ve never seen you.”
Does James Olsen works at CatCo? How do I not know this? Is it too early to resign? “I usually keep to myself. I’m at IT.”
He nods. “Ah, I see,” he says. He offers his hand up. “I’m James Olsen, CatCo’s art director.”
Fucking hell, he does work at CatCo. Of course I’d get hired in the one company in National City with a person Superman’s buddy-buddy with. Lena looks at the bottles of wine on each of her hand, then at James.
“Oh.” He retreats his hand.
“I’m Lena Kieran,” she says instead. And maybe she emphasizes her first name to test the waters.
But he doesn’t seem to register anything odd about it. “Nice to meet you, Lena Kieran,” he says, smiling. “So Kara invited you to game night, huh?”
“It seems so,” she responds.
They reach the door to apartment 4A, and before either of them could knock, Kara throws the door open with the brightest smile Lena is beginning to get accustomed to.
“Lena!” she greets. “You’re here.”
Lena returns the smile—she could only hope to emulate the same energy Kara always seems to possess. “Hello, Kara.”
They stand there, looking at each other, for a while, before James clears his throat, reminding them both of his presence. “Hey, Kara,” he greets.
“James!” Kara turns to face him, eyes widening as if just noticing that he’s there. “You made it!”
“Yep, and I brought potstickers.” He raises the clunky take-out bag that Lena just notices that he’s carrying.
“Oh,” Kara mutters, looking behind her shoulder towards her kitchen countertop, where’s there’s three of the same take-out bags. When she looks back to James, her smile is still as wide as ever. “The more the merrier, I say!”
“And I brought wine,” Lena says, offering the two bottles of wine in her hands. “Red and white.”
“Ooh, Alex is gonna love that!” Kara tells her, pulling her inside by her arm. “Let me introduce you to everyone!”
Kara grabs the two bottles of wine with her other hand, places them on the kitchen countertop with the various take-out bags and pizza boxes, and leads her to the living area.
And Lena doesn’t know what she was expecting, but it was definitely not this—because when Kara leads to introduce her to the rest of her friends, Lena finds that she already recognizes them.
Sitting on a stool in front of the coffee table, is the woman at the Alien Amnesty Act signing, who was she presumed worked with Detective Sawyer or Supergirl herself.
And the boy sitting on a recliner—wholly preoccupied with a game on his phone—she knows as Winn-or-Finn from the bar, who was doing shots with the alien (or not).
Lena stands there blinking for a moment, vaguely registering Kara introducing her to everyone.
“That’s Alex,” she says, pointing at the woman, who doesn’t really acknowledge her, “she’s my sister. This nerd over here is Winn—” the man jerks up when he hears his name “—he used to work at CatCo.” She swivels around to point at James, who was shrugging off his coat. “And that’s James, who you met outside, I guess. He also works at CatCo.”
Lena absently nods, her eyes locked on the woman—Alex, as Kara introduced her—and she immediately averts her eyes when she sees the woman look back.
“Everyone!” Kara says louder, clapping her hands together, and everyone aptly looks up at the reporter. “This,” she brings a hand to Lena’s back, “is Lena!”
And Lena suddenly finds all eyes on her. What the fuck does she do now? She weakly raises a hand and gives a meek wave. “Hi.”
Does she even say that she’s already met everyone in the room in one way or another?
“Um,” Lena starts.
But Winn (not Finn), interrupts her. “Hey!” he greets, shooting to his feet and sticking his hand out. “I’m Winn. I used to be IT at CatCo!”
Suddenly Lena remembers. “Wait, you’re Winn? As in all-I-do-is-Winn.”
Winn laughs. “Ha, you saw that, huh?” He retracts his hand to scratch at the back of his head sheepishly.
“It was under the keyboard.”
Winn shoots Kara a look, which Lena sees, but doesn’t really understand.
This whole thing is a little crazy, if Lena’s being honest to herself. National City is not a small city by any means, and the chances that she’d randomly run into Kara’s sister and friend at separate times, and being said friend’s replacement at CatCo, where Kara still works? It was hard to believe, but here she is.
And she can’t help but think—was it all a coincidence? Was she meant to meet everyone in this room?
Lena’s never really believed in fate. And she’s not about to start.
“Anyway!” Kara says all too enthusiastically, effectively cutting off Lena’s thoughts. “Everyone pick their places and their partners, we’re playing charades!”
And alright, charades. I know the basic rules of charades. I think.
It was not going well.
Because while Lena did actually know the rules and mechanics of charades, she still clearly missed out on a chunk of pop culture and therefore didn’t know a majority of the topics presented.
Alex has opted to sit out of the game, giving Kara the opportunity to pretty much jump at the chance of partnering up with her, while Winn and James paired up.
They proved to be a formidable opponent. It’s like the two of them shared a brain, or whatever, because they communicated almost exclusively in inside jokes and personal anecdotes.
But Lena and Kara, and while the latter was pretty well-versed in pop culture (Lena had no doubt about it, Kara seemed like the person to just know those types of things), Lena still had no clue and frankly did a shit job acting out their cards.
(A notable moment: Lena gets a card with Harry Potter written on it.
She proceeds to act it out as if it said hairy potter—mimicking a person with excessive amounts of hair doing pottery—endlessly confusing not only Kara, but also everyone in the room.
When no one guesses it right, and she eventually reveals the contents of her card, multiple jaws drop.)
It also doesn’t help that Lena can feel Alex scrutinizing her without so much as having to look at her.
(She’s rarely ever intimidated by anyone. But Alex Danvers is quickly proving herself to be an intimidating woman.
Which would make sense. Lena deduces that she’s in law enforcement, or maybe something else entirely—she wears her watch on the inside of her wrist, and Lena’s only ever seen soldiers where it like that.)
It’s Kara and Lena’s turn again, and it’s Kara who has to act the card out.
After reading the card and having a moment to think, Kara brings her hands together and starts swinging around.
Lena scrunches her eyebrows. “Uh, is that a bat?” she asks.
She starts making whooshing sounds to accompany the swings—and Lena’s sure it’s a weapon of some kind.
“A sword?” she tries.
Kara starts exaggerating the whooshing sounds.
“Wait is that—” Lena starts, face twisting in recognition “—from Star Wars. It’s a lightsaber!”
Kara cheers, along with Winn and James. Lena even sees Alex smirk before she takes a swig from her beer.
“I can’t believe you know Star Wars but not Harry Potter!” Kara says incredulously, throwing an arm around her.
Lena can’t help but blush. Yeah, so she’s never read or watched Harry Potter, but she has seen the original Star Wars trilogy during one of the few Christmas vacations she spent at the Luthor Manor with Lex.
(It was his box set, and Lex surprised Lena with it. Lionel and Lillian were out on a business trip, so they weren’t there to stop them.)
“I’m not really interested in… magic,” she says.
“But you are in lightsabers and the force?”
“It’s more the space ships, I think.”
Winn snorts somewhere, and Kara beams at her, looking giddy. “You’re a nerd!” she exclaims. “I bet you have memorabilia, and Star Wars LEGO sets!”
Lena laughs, waving a hand as if to dismiss the notion. “I only wish I had them,” she scoffs. “My mother throws out any toy she sees me with.”
Lena doesn’t mean to say it, but maybe she felt a quick sense of ease at everyone’s cheer when she finally got a point. Maybe she’s making friends right now.
But everyone quiets down around her, and Lena pauses. Did I say something wrong?
“What?” Kara asks, brows scrunching together. “You never had any toys growing up?”
“I played chess a lot,” she tries to backtrack. “It’s good practice for focus and decision-making under pressure.”
“Under pressure? What about for fun?”
Lena recoils. What the hell am I saying wrong? “What?”
Everyone’s looking at her now, even Alex, who has her brows furrowed and is leaning a bit forward on her seat, a frown playing on her face.
“You never played when you were young?” Kara asks again, a gentler tone to her voice.
“I played chess,” Lena repeats.
“Yeah, but you made it sound more like military training than having fun,” Winn points out, and James elbows him in the ribs. He yelps, but manages to look a little guilty.
“Playing as in having fun, for the laughs,” Kara explains. “You know, like what we’re doing now.”
Lena doesn’t really understand, but she says, “Oh. I don’t think I had time for that.”
It’s true, and there was really no purpose for it, anyway. Lillian insisted she spent her free time going over her textbooks so she gets ahead on her lessons—and it wasn’t for nothing, she was always the top of her class. It was effort with consequence. And okay, so it made her a little odd when she was young. It’s not exactly new information. No need to single her out because of it.
She looks away from everyone’s prying eyes and crosses her arms on her lap.
Kara, who probably has some sixth-sense tuned in on her, redirects the conversation. “Um,” she begins, “I’ll go get the food, and we can put on a movie while we eat!”
“Ooh, I’ll pick the movie!” Winn quips, already scooting over to the TV set and digging around Kara’s apparently vast collection of movies.
“I’ll help you out,” James offers, standing up to follow Kara to the kitchen.
And then it’s just Lena and Alex there, and Lena wishes it wasn’t so painfully awkward, so she just nurses her soda (she didn’t want to to drink wine, because she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from drinking too much—and she didn’t really want to be tipsy around a bunch of strangers).
“Hey,” Alex says suddenly, and Lena jerks her head up to look at her. “You probably don’t remember but…”
“I do,” Lena cuts off. Then she winces, because she wasn’t even sure that the woman was referring to the same thing. “I mean, I’ve somewhat met you. If you could call it that. At the Alien Amnesty Act signing.”
Alex laughs, and Lena’s surprised with the sincerity of it. “Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. Great job that day.”
Lena wants to roll her eyes at that, but stops herself. Why does everyone keep saying that? “I just threw a rock and then passed out.”
Alex snorts, and it sounds odd coming from the previously intimidating woman. “Well, that’s not what Kara’s saying. She was there, too. Wrote an article about it and everything.”
“Yes, she told me.”
The woman shifts in her seat, setting her beer bottle on the floor before leaning forward. “Look, I was there too. We wouldn’t have figured out how to stop that Infernian so fast without your help. So, thank you.”
Lena blinks for a few moments, caught off-guard. “It’s no problem.”
Then Kara arrives, carrying a stack of take-out boxes in one hand, and a two bottles of beer in the other. “I got potstickers!” she announces, but it looks to be more for Lena’s benefit because she’s facing her.
She hands her the stack of take-out boxes and Lena hastily balances it all in her hands.
“They’re from Chow Hong’s,” Kara continues to explain, settling beside Lena.
They’re the only ones on the couch—Alex is still on her stool, while Winn and James have opted to sit on the floor for better access to the coffee table—and even though there’s a big expanse of space on the other end, Kara sits directly beside Lena.
And Lena would usually find the contact uncomfortable, but she doesn’t.
“So, what do you think?” Kara asks after making sure that Lena has reached her apartment safe and sound.
(Alex still finds it weird to randomly see her sister stand still for a few minutes with her eyes closed, her super-hearing tuned in on someone.)
“She seems nice,” Alex says.
Kara grins. “I told you! Isn’t she great?”
What’s also weird is her sister’s fixation on the National City newbie. It’s like she saw her throw a rock once and she’s immediately enamored by the woman. It’s weird.
Alex hums, not really wanting to give a direct answer to the question. “She’s a little shy, but I guess she’s a good person.”
And another thing that’s weird; did Kara, with her endless void of a stomach, share her potstickers with the woman? Even her—her own sister!—couldn’t get more than one whenever they ordered Chinese, and Kara was willing to give away two orders’ worth of them? Unbelievable.
But what’s even weirder was the woman herself.
Who’s apparently a “computer genius”, as Kara so eloquently described her. Who may or may not have hacked into LuthorCorp and somehow found the address of an illegal and exclusive event, who was sharp enough to figure out a method to subdue an active threat, and who was so smart and resourceful that she managed to turn CatCo into a cyber fortress that not even Winn, who has quickly climbed up to be the best in the DEO’s tech division, could penetrate it.
Who also apparently had some sort of sheltered, troubled childhood.
Who dodged questions about family.
(“So, Lena, you got family here in National City?” she asks out of the blue. If Kara wouldn’t let her do a background check on her, then she’d ask the woman herself.
“Oh, no,” the woman answers. She shifts on her seat, but doesn’t elaborate anymore.
Alex finds it interesting. “But you do have a family, right?” It’s an extremely inappropriate question, she’s aware of that, and things could turn sour real quick when the answer turned out to be no. But Alex knew how to play her cards.
“Yes, of course.”
“Where are they?” She can see Kara giving her a warning look from the corner of her eye, but Alex fixes her sight on the box of chicken fried rice in front of her. “They’re still around?”
“My mother is.”
“Where is she?”
Alex spies the woman’s knuckles turning white with her tightening grip on her chopsticks. That’s not a normal reaction.
“She likes to travel,” is the vague answer.
Kara is already glaring at her, so Alex drops the questioning.)
There’s something odd about Lena Kieran, and Alex can’t really put her finger on it. But damn it all if she doesn’t figure out what it is.
I'm gonna say this with the full risk of embarrassing myself, but I've actually been putting Lena Luthor in the text threads instead of Lena Kieran. I only just noticed, and I'm surprised no one's pointed it out lmao??? I've edited it now.
Alex takes one step forward (and two steps back, it depends on how you see it). Winn's not having the best time. Lena meets Supergirl.
Lena catches up with Winn outside Kara’s apartment building.
“Hey, Winn?” she calls.
Winn swivels around to look at her, his eyebrows raised in question.
“I just feel like I have to tell you…” she starts, “about the bar brawl you were in a few days ago? You probably don’t remember, you were quite tipsy, but I was there, too.”
“But you don’t have to worry,” Lena continues. “I didn’t tell anyone. About your friend.”
“Yes, the—” Lena looks around the area “alien.”
Winn’s jaw drops. “Oh my god, you’re the dark haired healer!”
Lena brows raises in question. “The what?”
“It was what Mo—my friend called you,” he explains. “You were the one that administered first aid?”
“Oh, yes. There’s nothing to worry about, they were just dislocated bones, the doctors would’ve had them set in no time.”
Winn blinks at her. “Right.”
“I also bumped into an NCPD detective who responded to the scene. She was the only one I told the situation to, and she told me to keep it on the down low. And I only described the nature of the victims’ injuries to the paramedics who arrived.”
Winn nods, a little too aggressively, if Lena was being honest. “Okay, okay,” he says, “Thanks for keeping quiet about it. My, um, friend… he’s new to the area, he’s still adjusting.”
“Yes, I completely understand,” Lena responds, nodding along with him (though not as aggressively).
“Anyway, I apologize on his behalf for any trouble he caused that night,” Winn says, and even makes a display of doing a little bow.
Lena chuckles for his benefit—she likes him, he’s a little awkward and plenty nerdy, and maybe they could be good friends (she’s still a little reserved with the idea of having friends, but Kara’s little gang was as every bit refreshing as Kara was to her, albeit in each their own way).
“Hey, I had a really great time tonight,” he tells her. “See you next game night?”
“Of course,” she replies. And she finds herself looking forward to it.
“Winn.” Alex strides into the command center. “I need you to do something for me but I also need you to keep quiet about it.”
“Are you going to do it or not?”
Winn blinks up at his superior officer. Honestly, this woman is terrifying. He nods.
“Okay, good. I need you to do a full background check on Lena Kieran.”
“Do it, Agent Schott.”
Winn raises his hands to concede, but says anyway, “Alex, Kara’s not gonna like this.”
“I know. That’s why I need you to keep quiet about it.”
“You want me to lie to her?” He gapes.
“You can’t lie to her when she never finds out.”
“Lying by omission is a thing!” he screams, then curls in on himself when Alex stomps closer to his chair.
“Are you going to do it or not?”
“Ma’am, yes ma’am!” he squeals. “I mean, yes, I am. I will immediately get right on that.”
Alex arches a brow at him when he doesn’t move, so he swivels his chair back to face his computer. He immediately starts—but he can still feel Alex breathing down his neck, and is he getting goosebumps? Maybe. Probably so. His hands are also shaking a bit.
“Uh,” he says, voice hoarse, “this is going to take a while since we don’t have access to her employee records.”
Alex drops her head and lets out a quiet groan. She faces him. “Kara cannot find out about this, do I make myself clear?”
Winn gulps. “Yes ma’am. Crystal clear, ma’am.”
“Okay, good. Notify me immediately when you find something.” With that, Alex leaves the command center as suddenly as she arrived.
He lets out a breath of relief. God, he’s so fucked.
Lena texts first the following morning.
Lena Kieran [7:16 AM]: Good morning. Thank you for last night, I had fun :)
She doesn’t get an instant reply, which she expected. It’s way too early, and it’s the weekend, anyway, and while Lena was used to getting up early on all days of the week, Kara might be the person who preferred to take a breather during the weekend—which she deserves, she probably had a long week after the fight club article.
(And also because they kept up a text conversation well through the night, talking about nothing in particular, and mostly Star Wars, since the reporter also seemed to be a fan—her favorite character is Princess Leia.
She stopped replying for a while around midnight, so Lena fell asleep. But when she woke up in the morning, there was another text from the blonde with a 3AM timestamp.
Kara Danvers [3:08 AM]: i discovered cinnamon buns because of Leia. so naturally she became my favorite character. i owe her that much.
The text was immensely confusing for her sleep-addled brain, but after a quick Google search of “cinnamon buns Leia”, she eventually understood the reference. She thought it was odd to make pastry the reason behind a favorite character, but it was just another uniquely Kara quirk that she somehow made endearing.)
She mentally goes through her to-do for the day:
First stop is actually, finally, setting up a bank account. She’s been putting it off and living off of the cash she’s brought with her—which is still be a considerable amount, considering the lifestyle she’s built for herself—and it would be good to stop storing cash in a briefcase in her apartment.
Next stop is buying a new pair of work shoes. It’s time to retire her incriminating Louis Vuitton heels before someone else finds out about her.
(Cat has been keeping her promise so far—she hasn’t given Lena any special attention, and she hasn’t alluded to anything Luthor-related. If anything, she’s being largely ignored by the CEO, and she couldn’t be thankful enough. It’s why she’s so determined to flush out whoever’s been hacking into the CatCo server, even if it’s not a part of her job description.)
And after that, go grocery shopping. (She finds the chore both tiring and refreshing, and at least now she likes the things she’s choosing for herself.)
She takes a shower and sets off into the city in what Lillian would deem the most abysmal outfit ever: Lena’s wearing a white hoodie with a small chest embroidery of Supergirl’s crest (it’s something she bought on a whim on her first week in National City—clothes shops are chock-full of the symbol, and Lena thought that she might as well have a piece for her own), and regular blue jeans.
It’s the comfiest clothes Lena would ever do errands in.
It’s about 8:30 and she’s still having breakfast (yes, she has made it a bit of a habit to eat breakfast now—although she still skips it sometimes) at the café adjacent to her apartment building when she gets a text back from Kara.
Kara Danvers [8:32 AM]: good morning!!! i had a great time too! i’ll ask Winn to bring his Star Wars Monopoly next week :D
Lena has never played Monopoly, but she has witnessed a few games in her time at boarding school. It had been the source of multiple conflicts.
Lena Kieran [8:32 AM]: That sounds lovely :)
She only notices the emoticon after she sends the text. When did she start doing that?
Kara Danvers [8:33 AM]: ok cool! and we can go over all the board games till you know everything!
Lena’s reminded of the little hiccup last night, when she told them that she’s never played for fun when she was a child. She expected scrutiny, and perhaps she thought that it was what she was getting from all the looks everyone sent her way, but all she heard was sympathy from Kara’s voice (and, to be honest, she didn’t know which she disliked more).
So she doesn’t know what to feel about Kara’s text. What did it entail, exactly?
Lena Kieran [8:35 AM]: That might take a while.
Kara Danvers [8:36 AM]: and i’ll be with you the whole time!!
And, geeze, what a loaded statement. Lena doesn’t reply.
Weekends mean no CatCo, so the first thing Kara does after eating a hearty breakfast is changing into her super suit and flying to the DEO headquarters.
“Good morning!” she greets no one in particular when she lands.
(No one greets her back because, frankly, no one’s really around. A lot of the agents preferred their day offs on the weekend, but they were still obliged to be on call.)
She’s in a good mood. Game night with Lena last night had been a resounding success (despite Alex’s questioning that Kara immediately cut short), she continued a text conversation with her well into the night (which paused for a while as she heard an apartment fire on the other side of the city), and then she woke up with a good morning text.
And she’s even secured the plans for game night next week (and all the following weeks). She can’t wait to show Lena everything that she’s missed.
(She remembers being first introduced to the concept of board games.
It seemed so primitive—everything on Krypton were stored in crystals that emitted holograms and the like; and coming from that and being showed Earth’s own brand of entertainment in the form of cardboard and hundreds of small, easily-lost pieces had been… a bit of a culture shock for her.
But she learned to love them, anyway—mostly because it had been one of the reasons Alex had warmed up to her. Board games took so long to finish sometimes, and it was their way of spending time together when her sister was still a little bit wary of her.)
“Hey, Winn!” she greets her friend, who was mysteriously slumped closer to his desk than he usually is.
Winn jolts around when he hears her approach. “Kara!” he greets back, a rather manic look in his eyes. Kara’s seen this look before.
Her eyebrows furrow at the sight of him. “Did you stay here all night again?” she asks, then one of his eyes twitch. “You look… crazy.”
“What? Me?” he questions, tone unnatural and rather pitched higher than normal, “Crazy? Nope. No way, sir!”
There’s something weird about him right now, Kara thinks, and she leans in closer to observe him. “You don’t look sleep deprived,” she muses, head tilting to the side. “Did Alex threaten your life again?”
He lets out a laugh that sounds more like a wheezed breath. “Ha! No. Nope.”
Kara stands back, a little confused by her friend’s odd behavior, but she brushes it off as one of his quirks (Winn can be an odd one—he’s so nerdy). “Anyway,” she says, “can you bring your Star Wars-themed Monopoly set to game night next week?”
He jumps up immediately. “No problem!” he exclaims. “I will jot that down in my calendar immediately! As in, right now!” Then, he dashes off the command center, to presumably jot down the crucial information on his calendar.
(Kara didn’t even know that Winn kept a calendar.)
“Oh… kay…” she says, mumbling mostly to herself, when Winn scampers out of sight.
She looks around the room, and only sees a bunch of agents tinkering around. There are no big emergencies to warrant her attention, so she’s pretty much just here… waiting for things to happen. She whips out her phone.
There’s a little disappointment when there’s no text from Lena, but she sends another one anyway.
Kara Danvers [9:12 AM]: we’re all set for Star Wars Monopoly next week! :)
And because Lena’s a little bad at replying to texts, she tries to quell the further disappointment when she doesn’t immediately get a reply back.
But her curiosity still nags at her, so she sends another one.
Kara Danvers [9:13 AM]: what are you doing today?
She pockets her phone after that, not really expecting a reply, but it vibrates again only after a minute.
Lena Kieran [9:14 AM]: Going to the bank and then some grocery shopping. How about you?
She bites on her bottom lip to hold back the smile that’s making her way to her face—she thinks it would be weird for people to see Supergirl grinning at her phone screen in the middle of the DEO.
Kara Danvers [9:14 AM]: just some extra work :D did you get bfast?
Lena Kieran [9:15 AM]: You would be pleased to know that I did eat breakfast today.
Lena Kieran [9:15 AM]: Are you working on an article?
Kara looks around the DEO headquarters, and decides that yes, she is working on an article.
Kara Danvers [9:16 AM]: yep!!
There’s a few minutes where Lena doesn’t reply back, but when she does—
Lena Kieran [9:19 AM]: About the blueprints?
And Kara’s reminded of that entire thing again. Oh, Lena, she thinks. If I wasn’t sure then, then I’m definitely sure now.
But come to think of it, she still doesn’t know what to do with the blueprints. There’s not much to go on if she decides to make an article out of it—they’re just blueprints, and both the Venture and LuthorCorp has been avoiding the press like the plague—and how would CatCo even go about explaining how they got it in the first place?
Leaked information were often sent to publications, but this is from LuthorCorp, something that’s not to be messed with, and linking it with CatCo could not only potentially bring her into the mix, but also Lena.
Should she just ignore it? She doesn’t think so. The Venture explosion is still a widely speculated incident, and the involved people’s avoidance in talking about it makes it a more enticing source of conspiracy theories—theories that she and Clark went over when they tried to investigate it.
One suggested faulty wiring in the engine. It was the most believable theory.
Another suggested that it was some murder attempt gone wrong. Whoever formulated the theory never really said who the target was; but a plane filled with the world’s most influential people? Surely someone wanted at least one of them dead.
And another one suggested that it was a Snakes on a Plane situation, which was just ridiculous.
So maybe the release of the blueprints could shed some light on the subject, and hopefully ease the unrest the people felt.
Kara Danvers [9:20 AM]: nope, just a fluff piece :) i’m thinking of just releasing the blueprints to the public, actually
Lena Kieran [9:20 AM]: Oh, really? Why not write about it?
Kara Danvers [9:20 AM]: there’s rly not much to go on for an article.
Lena Kieran [9:21 AM]: How are you going to release it?
Kara Danvers [9:21 AM]: i’m thinking anonymously. in an online public forum, or something.
It’s a pretty solid idea, Kara thinks. That way, the public is free to form their own opinions on the topic. She doesn’t know how she’s going to do it, to make sure it doesn’t get traced back to CatCo or her, but maybe she could ask Winn or someone for help.
Kara Danvers [9:22 AM]: i was thinking maybe you could help me with it?
The reply comes before she’s even able to blink after sending the message.
Lena Kieran [9:22 AM]: Of course
Winn is not the type of person to immediately think of the worst possible things.
But when he sees the profile he’s gathered on Lena Kieran, what he immediately thinks is—okay, so she lied a little.
(“She likes to travel,” she answers when Alex asks her about her mom.)
Because Lena Kieran’s mother is dead—has been dead since 1997, when Lena was only 4-years-old, in Ireland of all places.
And what’s even weirder than that tidbit; Lena Kieran disappeared from Ireland on the same year her mother died and only surfaced again in National City a few weeks ago. No existing school records or past jobs, no social media presence, or any sort of financial trail. Nothing.
And Winn doesn’t know what to make of it, so after he escapes from Kara, he barges into Alex’s private and secluded lab.
Said woman whips around to face him, an almost deadly glint in her eyes. “Winn, don’t you know how to knock?”
He brushes off her question. “There’s something you need to see. It’s about Lena Kieran.”
He shoves the tablet he’s holding towards her, and gives her a few moments to process all the information written on it. Alex’s eyes flit over the screen, her brows slowly sinking into a furrow the more she reads.
“This is everything,” she says, but it sounds more like a question.
“I’m positive, I scoured all government databases,” he answers. “There’s nothing else on her.”
Alex hums, scrolling along the tablet, as if willing for more things to show up when she does. She drops it on her work table after skimming over it the second time.
“W-What do you think it means?” Winn questions.
The agent sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I’ve seen cases like those—the most plausible reason is witness protection. She disappeared the same year her mother died, maybe she saw something she shouldn’t have, and it would explain why she was so vague when I asked questions about her.”
“Do you think she’s safe?”
Alex contemplates the question, then says, “People can leave witness protection any time they want.”
“But she is a good person, then? Maybe just a little weird.”
She sighs. “I don’t know. It explains a lot about her, that’s for sure. But witness protection can be tough, especially on kids. We don’t know what kind of person she grew into.”
Winn is silent for a while, then says, “Do we tell Kara?”
Alex decides to tell Kara, for the sake of honesty and sibling transparency.
But not right now, maybe.
She sees her devouring a cupcake in the DEO break room—where did she even get those?
“Hey Alex!” her little sister greets her when she walks in. “Want a cupcake?”
Alex declines, both because she doesn’t want to deprive Kara of the treats, and because she’s sure Kara’s only asking to be polite.
“Hey, wanna have a movie night later?” Alex tentatively asks. She knows Kara would agree, she doesn’t have any plans for the weekend that she knows of.
“Oh, I’m actually gonna meet with Lena tonight!”
This makes Alex pause. “What?”
“Which reminds me! I know what to do with the LuthorCorp-Venture blueprints now.”
“I’m releasing them anonymously to the public. Lena’s going to help make sure it doesn’t get traced back to me. It’s why we’re meeting up.”
Alex blinks. “We have Winn,” she supplies.
“Yeah but I kinda wanna involve Lena in it, you know?” Kara explains, picking up another cupcake. “I think she’s been on edge ever since she sent it to me—she still doesn’t know that I know, by the way—and maybe helping me out could relax her a little.”
It’s a pretty good idea, Alex thinks, and she’s grateful that it’s the path Kara’s taking. This way, there would be no connections to the leak and CatCo, and by extension, no connection to Kara.
“Right. Okay. That’s good,” she says.
Kara looks at her when she says that, then tilts her head to the side. “Are you okay? Everyone’s been acting so weird today.”
Which brings Alex back to her initial problem—how’s she going to ease Kara in the knowledge that she made Winn do an intensive background check on her new friend, and discovered some pretty concerning things?
She decides to just dive right into it.
“I have to tell you something.”
Her words makes Kara sit straighter. “What’s up?”
“I know you’re going to be mad, but please just know that I did it to protect you, alright?”
Kara’s eyebrows furrow. “Okay? That’s not worrying at all.”
She takes a deep breath, bracing herself. Kara’s not going to like this one bit. “I did a background check on Lena Kieran.”
And Kara doesn’t say anything—but her jaw drops, and along with it, her cupcake. It falls unceremoniously to the table top, frosting side down, the sugary icing making a splat on the table.
Okay, nothing’s broken, Alex thinks, doing good so far.
“I asked Winn to dig up everything he could find on Lena Kieran,” she repeats more specifically this time. She’ll apologize for dragging Winn into this later.
And Kara’s suddenly fuming. “And what exactly did you find out? That she volunteers at the animal shelter on her spare time?”
Alex sighs. Here comes the outburst that she’s been expecting. “No, not that,” she tells her. “Listen, Kara—”
“No, no, I don’t wanna hear this!” She shoots up to her feet, and starts marching out of the room.
Alex follows after her. “Kara, you have to listen, she’s a lot more than what she seems—”
Kara whirls around to face her, and Alex stumbles back a step at the sudden stop. “No, I’m a lot more than what I seem,” she says, “I’m pretending to be a harmless reporter who wants to be friends with her when I’m actually a superhero working with a government agency hell-bent on violating the very basic human right to privacy!”
Alex recoils at the outburst, looking straight at the genuine fire in Kara’s eyes. She’s speechless, as she usually finds herself when her sister does something truly unexpected (because she was expecting the outburst—but not something to this degree).
The superhero sags in front of her. “Sorry,” she mutters, “I didn’t mean to shout.”
“It’s fine,” Alex reassures, and it really is. “I may have been a step over the line, but you have to listen to what I have to say, alright?”
Then Kara sighs, her shoulders sagging lower. “Fine.”
Alex leads her back to the break room, sitting her down on a chair. The box of baked treats (and the ruined cupcake) are still on the table, and Kara busies herself by grabbing and nibbling on another one.
She takes a deep breath, then starts: “Lena’s mother is dead.”
Kara pauses in her nibbling. “What?”
“She told us her mother likes to travel—but it turns out her mother is dead.”
“D-Does she know?”
“She died in 1997 when Lena was 4-years-old. She disappeared the same year.”
Kara’s jaw drops. “Disappeared?”
“She only surfaced again a few weeks ago, here, in National City.”
The hero’s jaw slackens further.
“I think she was in witness protection, maybe she saw something she shouldn’t have when her mother died, or got killed, I don’t know. Or worse, maybe she’s been kidnapped the entire time—”
“Witness protection?” Kara gasps out. “Kidnapped?”
“We don’t know that for sure yet,” Alex corrects. “And we also don’t know who or what the threat could be if she was. Resurfacing under the same name after being kidnapped doesn’t make much sense, but… being gone for a long time changes people.”
Kara slumps back in her chair, a disbelieving look on her face.
“Look, these are all just theories, okay? Nothing’s confirmed. There’s little to no documentation on witness protection cases. But those are the only conclusions I could come up with, there are no records of her anywhere—school, jobs, speeding tickets, nothing.”
“She’s—” Kara releases a shaky sigh. “I’m seeing her tonight.”
Alex opens her mouth, intent on telling Kara that she can cancel on Lena if she isn’t feeling it right now, to bring up her offer on movie night again—
But an agent carrying a beeping tablet runs into the room. “There’s a truck collision on the bridge and a car’s teetering off the edge!”
And it only takes a second for Kara to digest the information before there’s a notable gust of wind and her sister’s speeding out of the DEO.
Hero duties first, Alex thinks.
I hope telling her was a good idea.
Lifting the car back to safety, flying the two trucks to their respective repair shops, and stabilizing the bridge takes Kara a grand total of 40 minutes.
She usually flies back to the DEO, but all the things Alex told her is still shaking her, so she decides to go on her usual patrol around the city.
And maybe she tries to find and tune in on Lena to make sure she’s safe.
(She finds her heartbeat somewhere near the general area of a grocery store. It’s steady and strong.)
When she finishes circling the city twice, she whips out her phone and finds another text message from Lena, asking her where they should meet up later that night. Kara would have initially suggested Noonan’s, but doing sensitive work in that public of an area wouldn’t have been a good idea.
Kara Danvers [12:38 PM]: how about my place?
It’s a valid suggestion, right? Winn usually complained about needing a stable internet connection whenever he did some things, and Kara likes to think that her apartment had a decent one. And her apartment is at, like, one of the safest portions of the city.
(Where does Lena live? Is it safe?)
Kara Danvers [12:38 PM]: or your place? aren’t you gonna need good internet?
Lena replies after a few minutes.
Lena Kieran [12:41 PM]: Your apartment would be fine. Mine is still barely furnished, unfortunately.
Kara Danvers [12:42 PM]: you haven’t gone furniture shopping yet!?
Lena Kieran [12:42 PM]: I have, but I’m just terrible at making shopping lists. I forgot to buy a bed frame and sheets when I bought my mattress.
Kara Danvers [12:42 PM]: you don’t have a bed frame?
Lena Kieran [12:43 PM]: I do now. But it’s still unused because the delivery men put it down the wrong spot and I can’t move it.
Kara Danvers [12:43 PM]: i can move it for you
She types it out without thinking—offering help is pretty much second nature to her, but she still blushes when she reads it out.
Lena Kieran [12:44 PM]: I would accept your offer just to see you try and move it.
Kara Danvers [12:44 PM]: i’m pretty strong. and i’m serious! we can go to your place instead so you don’t have to walk to my apartment anymore :)
Lena Kieran [12:45 PM]: But then you’d have to walk to my apartment.
Kara Danvers [12:45 PM]: yeah but i’m sturdy
She regrets it the moment she sends it. I’m sturdy? Who says that? What does that even mean?
Lena Kieran [12:46 PM]: I can’t argue with that. But I only really have one chair in my apartment, I can’t imagine it would be comfortable.
Kara Danvers [12:45 PM]: but you’d be comfortable in your space! i can sit on the floor or whatever, i’m not picky.
Lena Kieran [12:46 PM]: Are you sure?
Kara Danvers [12:46 PM]: totally! just send me your address and i’ll be there at 7 :)
Kara spends the rest of her day at the edge of her seat.
(Well, she wasn’t exactly sitting, she spent the entire day flying around National City, stopping petty robberies and rescuing pets stuck in trees. Busying herself with superhero work would’ve been distraction enough, but it wasn’t.)
Kara knows she has a protective streak—it’s the superhero inside her. Why have all these powers if you wouldn’t use them for good? And she does do good—she’s Supergirl, she protects National City with all she has. But when someone she cares about needed her? She’ll give it everything she has and even more.
(It just so happens that Lena Kieran has wormed her way into the list of people that Kara cared particularly about.)
That’s what Kara tells herself when she saves Lena from a mugging in full Supergirl regalia.
“You alone, lady?”
“Hey, I was talking to you.”
“Let go of me—”
She’s been paranoid all day after what Alex told her—and she can’t help it when she has one ear tuned in on Lena. So when she picks up on menacing voices and her quickly rising heartbeat, she’s flying off to follow her sound to a particularly shady street.
She lands a few feet away from them, the ground cracking under her feet, and she’s aware of the strategically placed street lamp illuminating her.
“S-Supergirl!” the man gripping on Lena’s arm stutters.
“Let her go,” she growls, stomping closer.
The man takes a few steps back, knuckles turning white with how tight he’s holding onto Lena. She looks scared and pained, struggling against the hand gripped onto her, all the while being semi-dragged whenever the man makes a move.
“Let go of her,” she repeats, putting larger weight in her steps so the ground vibrates.
When the man moves, Kara moves faster.
He shoves Lena to the ground, but Kara manages to catch her before she hits and she cushions her fall before she chases after him. When she does (it wasn’t really that hard), she ties his hands together to a pole using his own shirt. The whole incident maybe takes 10 seconds, and when she speeds back to Lena, she’s still struggling to get back on her feet.
“L—” Kara catches herself. “Miss!”
Kara rushes to help stand her back up. Her hands are shaking and her heart’s still beating fast.
“Are you okay?” Kara asks, and she has to be aware to talk in her Supergirl Voice. “I can bring you to the hospital.”
“I’m fine,” Lena tells her, voice still a pitch higher, while she dusts off dirt from her pants.
She watches Lena rub at the spot on her arm the man had been holding onto. She takes a short peek with her x-ray vision and sees the telltale signs of a bruise forming. “Are you sure?” she asks again. “We can be there in less than a minute.”
Lena blanches. “Yes, I’m sure,” she says quickly. She straightens. “Thank you, um, Supergirl.”
“You’re welcome,” Kara replies instinctively. It’s only when Lena’s fully facing her that she notices the small Supergirl logo at the chest of the hoodie she’s wearing.
And Lena must notice that she noticed too, because from looking pale, she suddenly blushes a bright red. “Uh,” she stammers, “i-it was on sale.”
Kara grins, but refrains from commenting on it. “If you don’t want to go to the hospital, I can fly you home instead.”
“No!” Lena says quickly. “I-I mean, I live close by, I can walk there myself.”
Kara wants to frown, not too hot on the idea of Lena walking alone back to her apartment, but she can pick up on the man struggling against the temporary restraints she put him on, and she really has to bring him to the police. “Well, if you’re really alright, miss…”
“L-Lena. Lena Kieran.”
“If you’re really alright, Miss Kieran, I should leave you to it and bring that guy over there to the police.”
Lena glances back at the guy. “Of course,” she says. “Thank you again, Supergirl.”
“Anything for the residents of National City.”
Lena gives her a shy smile, and she’s about to make a move to retrieve the man, when suddenly, Lena says, “Wait!”
She whips back around.
“Can you… is the rest of the block safe? I have a friend coming over—she might be on her way and…”
Kara melts when she realizes what’s going on. “I didn’t hear any more trouble going on in a five block radius,” she reassures her. Not that it matters to her, but she guesses it does to Lena.
“Okay, good,” Lena sighs.
“I should get going now,” she says.
“Oh, of course!” Lena jumps. “I’m sorry for holding you up.”
“It’s no problem, Miss Kieran.” And Kara knows that it’s already, like, 6:45, and Kara Danvers is due in Lena’s apartment in 15 minutes, so with a last stay safe to the woman as Supergirl, she whizzes off and grabs the man tied to the pole and drops him in front of a police station with a note that Supergirl will be there to make a statement sometime tonight.
She’s just landed back inside her apartment when she feels her phone vibrate.
Lena Kieran [6:52 PM]: Where are you? I can go to your apartment instead.
Kara Danvers [6:52 PM]: no need, i’m almost there!
Lena Kieran [6:52 PM]: Are you sure? I’ll wait for you outside.
She’s gonna wait for me outside her building? She almost got mugged!
Kara hastes to brush her teeth and change her clothes as fast as she can (2 minutes), and finally flies off to Lena’s apartment.
Updates might be... slower? I got deadlines :(
Kara and Lena grow closer, more truths get uncovered, a new threat arrives in National City.
Lena is just outside her apartment building, wearing a long coat over her hoodie, shivering in the cold, when Kara arrives.
At the sound of footsteps on concrete, Lena snaps her head up.
“Kara!” she calls.
Kara waves at her. “Lena,” she says when she gets closer.
She doesn’t know what possesses her to do it, but when she walks within arm’s reach of Lena, Kara wraps her arms around the woman in a hug. She stiffens for a moment, but melts into it eventually.
(And gosh, what a feeling it is to have Lena Kieran mold herself to you.)
When Kara pulls away, she holds onto the woman’s arms.
“Did you get here okay?” Lena asks, eyes scanning her face.
“Yep,” she answers, then, “Did you?”
(She hopes Lena actually answers her truthfully, so Kara can find out if she actually is okay.)
Lena tenses in front of her, and—damn it—steps away from her reach. “Uh, yeah,” she stammers. Her heartbeat—the one that Kara’s getting increasingly familiar with—races a little faster. Her hands retreat back into the pockets of her coat.
Kara thinks maybe she should let it go, but she asks again, “You okay?”
“Yep!” Lena says, trying to look better than she actually is (her heart is still going a mile a minute). “Let’s get inside, you must be freezing!”
Lena steps aside, to presumably let Kara walk in the building first, so she does. She looks over her shoulder as she walks through the doors though, and sees Lena scan the vicinity before actually following her inside.
“Um, the elevator’s broken, so we have to take the stairs?” Lena winces. “Sorry, I’ve been bugging the landlord to fix it. I might have to rope in the other tenants so he actually pays attention.”
“Oh, no problem!”
She leads Kara to the stairwell. “I live on the third floor, so it shouldn’t be that bad. Sorry, I forgot to tell you about the elevator.”
“It’s okay, I take the stairs all the time!”
They carry on climbing up the stairs, and Lena continues talking.
She’s rambling, Kara thinks, and she’s never known Lena as much of a talker, so she lets her, content on just listening.
“I just moved in a few weeks ago, so it’s a little… empty. But I actually bought a couch because you’re coming over? I needed one, anyway. I have a TV, but I don’t have cable, so I usually just hook it up to my computer and play Netflix. I have a few books scattered around because I forgot to buy bookshelves, so I’m sorry about the mess. Oh, we’re here.”
Lena’s talked herself up until they reach the door to her apartment, and she drives herself to a halt to pick out the key in her jeans pocket to unlock the door. She goes in to push the door open, and Kara follows behind.
And Lena’s apartment is… empty.
Well, it’s not empty, all the furniture that Lena’s mentioned is there. Her apartment is probably a third of the size of Kara’s, so it’s smaller, but with the teeny amount of belongings that Lena seems to own, the apartment is barely filled.
“Um, this is it,” Lena hesitates, turning around to face her.
Kara takes the entire place in—the first thing she sees is Lena’s work desk, which houses some sort of laptop setup that Kara doesn’t understand, a couch in the middle of the room, a coffee table in front of it, and a really large TV.
There’s also a hardwood bed frame behind the door that Kara almost doesn’t notice, and Lena’s bed (which is just a mattress on the floor, with a side table towering over it) is on the other side of the room.
But the thing that stands out the most is that there aren't any boxes around at all.
(She remembers moving into her apartment, remembers having to make multiple trips from downstairs to her floor just to bring up her boxes at an acceptable human pace.
She also remembers forcing Alex to help her unpack. It was their first sisters night in National City.)
When Kara looks back at Lena after she takes in the entirety of the apartment, she’s managed to make herself look even smaller in the already tiny apartment. She’s looking at Kara hesitantly, trying to gauge her reaction, so Kara picks out her next words very carefully:
“Where do you want your bed frame?”
Kara moves her bed frame with startling ease in a shockingly short amount of time.
Lena distinctly remembers the three burly men who half-dragged her bed frame up the three flights of stairs to her apartment, who looked about halfway to their death beds when they practically collapsed once they reached their destination—and she compares that sight to Kara, who effortlessly carries her gargantuan bed frame to place, and doesn’t even break a single sweat.
She’s barely even peeled off her coat to help out the blonde before it’s already in place.
Kara twists around to show off her work, but the blonde’s eyes track down and she lets out a gasp.
Lena follows her eyes and sees the blossoming bruise on her forearm. Kara’s back in front of her in a flash, cradling her arm between them. “Do you have ice for this?” she asks, squinting at the marred flesh.
“Oh, um,” she stammers, “I’ve been using a bag of frozen vegetables. It’s in the freezer.”
She feels herself get pulled to the direction of her fridge, and Kara easily retrieves the bag of frozen vegetables (which has already been wrapped in a towel), and holds it in place against her bruise. She gets pulled again, but this time it’s to the couch, and Kara pulls her down to sit.
“Does it hurt?” Kara asks, trying to secure the icy bag onto her arm.
“It’s a little tender,” Lena answers truthfully. She suspects it to turn into a nasty purple in the coming days, but other than that, she doesn’t think it will have any lasting effects. “It’s fine.”
Kara looks up to meet her eyes, as if searching for something. For a while, Lena worries that she might ask where the bruise came from, and she wouldn’t know what to say—she doesn’t want Kara to feel unsafe, or to worry about her (because Kara seems to be the type to worry a lot)—but Kara goes back to nursing the bag on her arm and doesn’t pry any further.
They stay like that for a few minutes, and Lena’s already starting to feel a little awkward. So she breaks the silence. “Do you, um, want to start with your thing?”
Kara looks at her. “My what?” Then her eyes widen, “oh, right!” She rummages in her pocket and produces a nondescript flash drive.
“The… the blueprints?”
Lena jumps up at that, the icy bag of vegetables falling to the couch. “Oh!” She grabs the flash drive from Kara’s hands and inspects it. “We can’t use this.” She pivots around and walks to her workspace and boots up her computer.
She feels Kara stumble after her. “What? Why?”
“The file might have a macro that traces its history. They could point it back to you.” She slides into her chair in practiced ease.
Lena opens up her terminal and swivels her chair around to face Kara. They both recoil at their sudden close proximity. “Is—” she clears her throat “Is the file still in your CatCo email?”
She swivels back around to face her screens and types the appropriate commands.
“W-What are you doing now?”
“I’m opening a secure connection with the CatCo server so I can retrieve the file straight from there.”
“You can do that?”
“Yeah, I configured it myself.”
“Is that… safe?”
Lena chuckles, because duh, of course it is. “Don’t worry, my IP address is the only one whitelisted. I made sure that the CatCo server is as safe as The Pentagon.” She can’t help the cocky smirk she sends Kara’s way.
Kara only blinks back. “That’s cool…”
“Yeah,” Lena says, offhandedly. She’s not showing off by any means, but she tends to blabber when she’s in the zone. A few commands later, and after waiting several seconds for the file to download into her computer, she’s opening up the LuthorCorp’s blueprints herself. “Oh,” she says, gazing at it. She’s never really looked so closely at it.
“There it is,” says Kara, eyes trained at the screen, too. “They say the malfunction stemmed from there.”
“Is there probable proof or is it because it’s manufactured by LuthorCorp?” Lena drawls, not meaning to sound as bitter as she is.
Kara tilts her head to look at her, sheepish. “It’s among the many theories.”
Lena hums, a bit unimpressed that Kara seems to believe it.
“But I don’t think it is,” the reporter continues. “My, uhm, cousin—he’s an investigative reporter at the Daily Planet, and he covered the Venture’s explosion. He got to interview Superman, and he mentioned that the explosion didn’t really look to have come from anywhere near it.”
Lena manages to stifle her flinch at the mention of Superman. “Oh?” she says. “Where did it come from, then?”
“From inside?” Kara answers, unsure and brows furrowing. “Or at least that’s what it looked like. According to Superman.”
She wants to scoff, because, “What could have exploded from inside? All devices that go on a plane is regulated and inspected.”
Kara shrugs her shoulders. “Maybe whatever blew up wasn’t inspected.”
Lena turns her chair to fully face the reporter. “What are you getting at?”
“I don’t know. No one really knows what caused the explosion, and the Venture pinning the blame on a part conveniently manufactured by the world’s most controversial company seems like a cover-up. It’s easy.”
“And what do you think?” she challenges, because Lena knows that Kara’s on the verge of something here, and just needs a little more push to get to it.
(She knows that she should drop the subject immediately—diving into what could possibly be Luthor business would only call for trouble, but she can’t help it. Can’t help but feel that whatever happened to the Venture is bigger than it actually is.)
Kara pauses, her eyes glaze over for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. “I think something was supposed to explode in the Venture that day.”
“What, like a—bomb?” Lena splutters.
“Maybe.” She stands and looks around the apartment, and the reporter’s eyes catch on the windows. She walks over and draws it shut then twists around to look back at Lena. “Can you keep a secret?”
Lena’s spine stiffens. It’s never a good sign when someone says that. “It depends on what you’re about to tell me.”
The blonde looks at her for a moment, chewing on her bottom lip. Then, “My sister works for the FBI.”
Lena’s jaw drops. She was not expecting that.
“They investigated the Venture explosion, too. Had resources that reporters didn’t have, you know? They got the seating plan, and one seat was empty.”
She feels the blood drain from her face. Yeah, she thinks, my seat.
(She shouldn’t have pried any further.)
“There’s no name. It’s just—it just says LuthorCorp Representative.”
“So you think… someone from LuthorCorp planted a bomb on the Venture,” Lena manages to croak out.
Kara eyes flit around the room, looking deep in thought. “Maybe,” she says. “But it would look too obvious. And the Luthors are anything but obvious.”
The last sentence was spoken with a certainty that even Lena’s surprised at. “You… you seem to be familiar with them.”
Kara dips her heads then sends her a smile that almost looks… pained? “Yeah, um. Bad blood, I guess,” she mutters, avoiding her eyes.
Lena’s heart sinks. Everyone seems to have bad blood with the Luthors nowadays.
(She swallows down the little pang of hurt in her chest, blocks out the little voice in her head saying: you’re a liar you’re a liar you’re a liar.)
“Oh,” is all Lena can say.
Whatever look was on the reporter’s face, she manages to shake off. Then she’s back to being the bumbling Kara Danvers that Lena’s getting increasingly familiar with. “Anyway!” she says, marching back to settle behind Lena and lean forward on her table. She fixes her eyes on her screen with a resolve. “What do we do next?”
Lena insists on driving her home when they’re finished.
(She owns a bright blue minivan—a fact Kara is endlessly endeared by.
“It’s the cheapest car I could find,” Lena says as way of explanation. Kara still loves the fact that Lena’s car is vibrantly blue.)
“Thank you for helping me,” Kara says when they near her street.
She spies Lena glance shyly at her. “What are friends for?”
Kara grins. “You’re a great friend.”
She gets dropped off in front of her apartment building. She waits for Lena to round a corner before darting off into an alley to follow her above the clouds. She zooms back to her apartment when she sees Lena arrive home safely.
“Have a good evening?” someone says from her couch when she lands on her carpeted floor.
Kara’s heart jumps to her throat and she twists around to face the voice. “Alex!?”
Alex is there, sitting on her couch, casually sipping on a can of beer left over from game night. “Hey.”
“You almost gave me a heart attack!” Kara shrieks, throwing her hands up in outrage. “I gave you that emergency key for emergencies!”
“No, you gave me that key so I’d stop kicking your door down. Besides, I had to pee.”
Kara looks incredulous. “And your apartment’s bathroom isn’t good enough?”
“I was gonna wait for you at the lobby,” she says, taking another sip at her beer. “But then I saw you fly off when you got out of that car. Cute minivan, by the way. Is it Lena’s?”
She narrows her eyes at her sister. “Yes.”
“It has a Metropolis plate.”
Kara hadn’t noticed that. “So? You gonna ask Winn to dig up information on that, too?”
Alex sighs, then places her beer down on the coffee table. She looks up at Kara, then pats the spot on the couch beside her. “Can you sit down, so we can talk? We didn’t really finish our last conversation on a good note,” she tells her.
Kara crosses her arms and turns away. “Yeah, well, I didn’t really feel good about it.” She knows she’s being petty, but she’s a little hurt right now because she specifically told Alex to not run a background check on Lena, but she went ahead and did it anyway.
Alex sighs again and tips her head back until it rests on the back of the couch. She looks upside down at Kara. “Please?” she says, a pout forming on her mouth.
“Don’t do that, I’m still mad,” Kara says, her will wavering. She only looks at Alex through her peripheral.
“Sit down with me?” Alex continues, her bottom lip jutting forward.
Alex widens her eyes a notch and she pinches her eyebrows, and, well, is it Kara’s fault that she eventually relents?
(The Danvers Pout still remains to be one of the most effective persuasion tactics, as it also crumbles Supergirl’s resolve.)
Kara marches over to the couch and unceremoniously drops beside her sister, refusing to uncross her arms. She still isn’t looking at Alex, and chooses instead to train her eyes on the condensing can of beer on her coffee table. Darn it, Alex, she thinks, when will you learn to use a coaster.
Through their, what Kara deems, Sisterly Telepathic Connection, Alex retrieves a hanky from her pocket and places it under her drink.
Kara’s posture relaxes. “Can I start?”
Alex brings her feet up the couch, crossing it on the cushions so she can fully face Kara. “Go ahead.”
Alex takes a deep breath, faces off into the distance to contemplate a careful answer. “I have a… paranoid streak,” she starts.
“Yeah, I know.”
“I’m trained to be a little paranoid and meticulous,” Alex continues, “it’s why I’m a good agent. And Lena just happened to tick all my boxes.”
“What does that even mean?”
“Something seemed off about her,” she tries to explain. “She figured out how to incapacitate an Infernian under stress, it’s impressive but not unheard of, so I was just a little curious at first. But then she manages to lock Winn, who is literally the best that the DEO’s tech division can offer—don’t tell him I said that—out of CatCo.”
Kara only looks at her sister, still a little wary.
“Then you tell me that she hacked into LuthorCorp, which we haven’t even managed to do, sends you confidential material, and all the while that’s actually just to distract you while she also manages to provide crucial information for the DEO and NCPD to bust a highly exclusive and illegal event.”
Kara slumps a bit, regretting just a little sharing that piece of information.
“Someone of her skillset could get a much better job at any tech company, so why be IT at CatCo, a media company?”
“Maybe she just needed the experience,” Kara unhelpfully supplies.
Alex ignores the comment. “Then it just piles up at game night. That whole part about her toys getting thrown out, the not-having-enough-time-to-have-fun thing, and her mother, who she says is still around, but has actually been dead since 1997.”
Kara slumps further into the couch, because Alex did turn out to be right in the end—something is a little off with Lena—but it didn’t mean that what she did was right. “Still don’t like what you did,” she mumbles in her slouch.
Alex’s expression turns soft. “I’m a little protective of you, okay?” she says, leaning a little forward to get closer to her. “I’m not saying she’s a bad person, or that you should stay away from her. It just seems like you’re starting to really like her and I wanted to make sure that she’s not someone that can hurt you.”
“I can make that decision myself.”
“I know, that’s where I fucked up.”
Kara peers up at her. “Really? Not the part where you totally invaded her privacy?”
“No, it’s part of my job as a federal agent.”
Kara’s look turns into a tired glare.
“Okay fine, I got a little too protective and the line between sister and agent blurred a little.”
Kara lets herself fall to her side, her head landing on Alex’s lap. All is forgiven now. “Good, just… don’t let it happen again. With Lena or any of my friends.”
Kara hums, contented. “You still up for movie night?”
Later, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens playing on the TV, Alex speaks up. “You really like Lena, huh?”
Kara looks at her sister, a little surprised at the question. “Yeah,” she answers anyway.
Alex nods at that, then seems to go back to watching the movie. A few minutes pass, and she hears Alex mumble out a, “I really like Maggie, too.”
And that’s cool, Maggie’s a really good cop, and she works like a charm with Alex. “She’s really cool,” Kara honestly says.
A small smile blooms on Alex’s face, one that Kara hasn’t seen before. “Yeah, I think so, too.”
Kara’s text thread with Lena continues on through the weekend until Monday. They talk about nothing, and whatever they’re doing at the moment. Lena gets better at replying, and she even barraged her with messages once when she managed to encourage Lena to watch The Force Awakens after finding out that she’s only watched the original trilogy.
Lena texts her reactions to her throughout the movie, and the spam of texts (complete with the occasional typo and emotional caps lock) comes when she watches a particularly harrowing scene.
Lena Kieran [9:37 PM]: Oh no
Lena Kieran [9:38 PM]: I have a feeling that he’s going to
Lena Kieran [9:38 PM]: HE IDID
Lena Kieran [9:39 PM]: THEY REALLY KILLED HAM
Lena Kieran [9:39 PM]: HAN
Lena Kieran [9:40 PM]: why’d you make me watch this?
Lena Kieran [9:42 PM]: I don’t like this Darth Vader wannabe
(There are several messages after that where Lena digs deeper into the psyche of Kylo Ren, and the structure of his lightsaber, which both baffles and amuses Kara, because Lena’s such a nerd.)
Monday arrives, and that means trying to get to CatCo before 9 AM.
Arriving early at CatCo also means breakfast with Lena, so when Kara wakes up at 8:22 AM after forgetting to turn on her alarm the night before, she goes through her morning routine in record time so she can still fly to the other side of the city to get the sandwich Lena’s mentioned once in their text conversations.
She’s halfway to the bahn mi place when she hears the distinguishable sound of tires skidding.
Good thing she’s already in her Supergirl suit, so she manages to stop a head-on collision between two trucks in a fraction of a second.
The truck drivers manage to assure her that they got the situation handled so she doesn’t have to bring either vehicle to their respective repair shop. Between that, making sure none of the bystanders are hurt, and inspecting the road for any serious damages, she’s already pushing her speed to the limit (without having to break the sound barrier) to clock in at CatCo without being recorded late.
She arrives at her office at 8:58 AM on the dot and checks her phone for the first time that day.
Lena Kieran [8:16 AM]: Good morning, Kara. :)
Lena Kieran [8:24 AM]: I got to the office early, do you want to have breakfast?
Lena Kieran [8:47 AM]: Looks like you’re running a little late. I left you two sandwiches on your desk :)
It’s the first time Kara notices the brown take out bag on her desk. She hastily reaches for it and finds two wrapped sandwiches. There’s a pen scrawl on each of the sandwich’s wrappings; one says Chicken and the other is Pork.
A giddy bubble flares in her chest at the sight of them, and she sends Lena a text.
Kara Danvers [8:59 AM]: good morning and thank you!!!!
Kara Danvers [8:59 AM]: are u busy right now?? do u still have time to have breakfast with me??
Lena Kieran [9:00 AM]: I’m in the middle of something. Maybe lunch?
Kara Danvers [9:00 AM]: ok!!! i’m saving the other one for later :D
She starts her work day with a smile and a chicken sandwich.
Kara subconsciously counts down the seconds to her lunch break.
So, when she catches wind of a bank robbery happening just a street away from CatCo when she’s about to turn off her laptop for lunch, she feels a small simmer of disappointment and annoyance when she takes flight.
She drops onto the pavement outside the bank a little too harshly.
And a guy in a tacky ski mask points a shotgun at her.
Geeze, I almost feel bad for him, she thinks.
“Don’t you guys ever learn? Bullets don’t work on me.”
“I’m glad I didn’t bring any bullets,” a voice behind her says.
She’s only just turned around when a purple beam gets shot straight to her chest and sends her crashing into a concrete sign.
Her comms flair to life. “Supergirl? What’s going on?” It’s Alex.
She doesn’t get to compose herself when she sees another beam coming right at her, and her only move is to boost up high. A boom reverberates on the ground, and there’s a hole in the pavement where she’s just been.
Her heat vision fires up, and she points her eyes on the distinctly not-a-human-gun on one of the robber’s hands. Her aim is accurate, but a blue force field materializes before it hits it target.
Her eyes widen when her heat vision gets blocked.
“Back-up is on its way,” Alex says through their comms.
“Their weapons can hurt me,” she says to Alex.
There’s a muffled curse from her sister. She dodges a beam, and flies out of sight of the robber shooting at her. “Can you hold them off for a few minutes? We’re on our way,” she hears her sister.
Another one of the robbers shoots at her, but she doesn’t get to dodge it and ends up crashing face-first back on the ground.
Oof, I felt that one . She groans, rolling over to her back. She’s only managed to regain her bearings when yet another beam gets blasted on her that sends her slamming against a concrete pillar. Her brain rattles from the force.
She vaguely hears Alex’s voice saying, “Kara? We’re almost there, just hang on” when she opens her eyes and sees the robber with the weird gun quickly advancing towards her. She barely even gets to blink before she’s staring straight down the barrel of the gun.
It feels like a grenade exploding right at her face, if Kara knew what that felt like. The force of the shot, partnered with its close proximity, makes her crash right through the pillar and into the building across the road. She probably passes out for a second, because now she’s lying in her small hole of rubble.
Her vision swims when she opens her eyes, but she still recognizes the vague shapes of heads peeking in her line of sight. One of the heads are closer than the rest, and maybe that one’s talking to her, but she’s not sure because there’s a ringing in her ears.
Whoever’s right in front of her keeps opening and closing their mouth, but she can’t make out their words.
“Wha…” she tries to say, before dropping her head back on the ground and passing out.
Lena worries her bottom lip at the sight of her unanswered texts.
Kara’s usually the most attentive replier, she almost always seems to have her phone on hand save for when she’s asleep or eating.
So, when her texts asking Kara if she’s ready to go get lunch gets left unanswered, she’s wondering if maybe she’s forgotten about their plans, or if she’s just buried in her work.
Both seem highly unlikely, considering Kara’s enthusiasm for food. She doesn’t strike Lena to be the type to miss a meal for any reason.
Despite that, she makes her way to Kara’s office.
(It had occurred to her that morning, when she wanted to drop off food for Kara, that she had no idea where her desk was. So she asked Eve. The assistant led her to an office near the reporters’ bullpen. It was small, reclusive, and window-less, but an office nonetheless.
“Kara has an office?” Lena asked, surprise laced in her voice.
She’s been growing familiar with the employees at CatCo, and she knew that none of the cub reporters even had their own desk at the bullpen, let alone an entire office to themselves.
“Ms. Grant gave it to her when she promoted her,” Eve explained.
“When she promoted her to reporter?”
“When she promoted her,” Eve corrected. “Ms. Grant let her choose a position.”
Lena jaw almost dropped—almost.
But Eve still managed to catch the surprise in her look, and laughed. “Kara’s sort of a favorite.”
And Lena was also getting increasingly familiar with Cat Grant herself. The CEO always presents herself as a figure high above; unreachable, unattainable, and most of all, distant. But it seems she has a soft side for a certain reporter.
I can’t really blame her, Lena thought to herself. She’s always thought of Kara as the easiest person to like, so for a person as high-strung as Cat to take a liking to her—it shouldn’t be so far off the realm of possibility.)
She tries to knock first, and when there’s no response, she tries the door knob.
It’s unlocked, so she carefully pushes it open a crack, and calls, “Kara?”
No one answers.
She pushes it open wider, and is greeted with a completely lit and empty office. Her eyes flit over the entire room, and lands on the still on laptop on the desk, and next to it, the brown paper bag she left a few hours ago.
Lena wanders into the reporters’ bullpen, hoping to find Kara there, but finds almost everyone gathered around the television in the middle of the room. James towers over most of them.
She hesitates at first, but she approaches the photographer. “James?”
James turns around and finds her. “Lena, hey. What’s up?”
“Have you seen Kara?”
“Uh… doing the—being a reporter, you know?” His eyes travel back to the TV, then to her. “She heard about the bank robbery and rushed in.”
A boom sounds from the TV, and both Lena and James twists around to look at it. It’s a shaky footage of a bank robbery, and it’s live. Supergirl is in the air, using her heat vision, but whatever, or whoever, she’s shooting at is being protected by a blue force field.
Lena’s eyes widen, and she walks towards the television, hoping to get a closer look. What could possibly be strong enough that even concentrated solar energy couldn’t penetrate it?
“Kara’s there?” she asks, unable to hide the horrified tone in her voice. Why does Kara have to rush in the danger while it’s still happening?
The camera follows Supergirl, who crashes into the pavement, and Lena scans the surroundings of the area to the best of her ability, with the limited angle she’s shown. She sees no sign of the reporter.
“I’m sure she’s—” Supergirl gets shot to the pillar “—staying a safe distance away,” James tries to reassure her, but the tone of his voice does nothing to ease Lena.
Then Supergirl gets blasted into the building a road over and the entire room gasps.
The camera stays on the hole in the building’s wall, but Supergirl doesn’t emerge. On the corner of the screen is the reporter on the scene, and she informs the audience that the robbers have fled. When black vans arrive near the building Supergirl crashed into, the TV switches to the channel’s newsroom.
The crowd around the TV disperses, the action finished, but Lena still hangs on to the news’ every word.
It’s only when a news anchor reports “…paramedics have been deployed to the scene, but bystanders only sustained minor injuries at most…” that Lena manages to release a sigh of relief.
She’s about to send Kara another text to ask how she is, when the lights flicker on and off, and TV glitches to display a crudely computer-generated face animation, that roars in a robotic voice:
“You were warned. The alien invaders are dangerous. Their intentions malicious. They possess power we cannot hope to match. And their technology, brought from other worlds, is falling in the wrong hands.”
The video displays a montage of news clips, and she flinches when she sees a snippet of the Infernian at the Alien Amnesty Act signing.
“We should not be opening our arms to them. We should be locking them up and taking their weapons away. You did not heed us, but you will heed the chaos that amnesty has brought. You will pay the price in fear and blood. And you will beg us to save you. We are Cadmus.”
The lights flicker back on, the TV returns to its regular broadcast, the bullpen bursts in action around her.
And a cold weight drops down Lena’s spine.
Lena splurges on certain things. Particularly, technology and alcohol.
Things start happening!!