She’s nothing more than a scientist.
That’s what Lena tells herself time and again. She’s the same as anyone else in the lab, if anyone else also had their name on the side of the building and their mother sitting on the CEO throne. Maybe she was a little higher but she was still just a scientist.
A scientist with an incredibly odd ability.
She’d always thought it was a little silly – the numbers she saw floating over peoples heads on a daily basis, the ones she inexplicably knew dictated how dangerous they were. She’d been seeing them since she was little, since around about the time her birth mother… since around about the time she found herself at the Luthors.
Lionel’s was the first one she ever saw. A confident five sat above his head and a pit formed in Lena’s stomach immediately – she didn’t know what the scale was then, all she knew was that this man was taking her away from everything she’d ever known.
She learned very quickly that the number above his head meant he was kind until he’d had a drink, until too much scotch unlocked the part of him that loved to paint bruises onto his family, brand them with his knuckles and make them remember who they belonged to, who they were designed to make look good in the spotlight.
When she’s seven she learns that the matching five on Lillian Luthor’s head is because of the small sprinkle of powder she drops into Lionel’s drink at dinner and the perfect way she lies about it afterwards when the police come sniffing around, her award worthy tears and fake sadness. Lena wonders if the number above her head rises when she lies too - she supposes she’ll never know.
It’s Lex that she worries about the most. He’s only a two when they meet. Lena latches herself onto him because she thinks that means he’s safe, that he’ll always be safe. She’s wrong. It flickers when Lionel dies, when Lex decides that means he must become the man of the house. Lena doesn’t think a three is that bad – she’s seen plenty of them around, never witnessed anything worse than a soft push in the playground or a slightly mean word muttered.
It rises again when his first girlfriend cheats on him with one of his friends – the way he said the word made Lena shiver, he tells her Luthor’s shouldn’t have friends, only minions (Lena still makes Sam from her class a flower crown the next day at recess because she thinks he’s just in a mood).
She ignores the way it rises over the years, tries to ignore everyone’s numbers because she can feel herself going insane trying to decipher if someone’s number means something bad is going to happen then, or later, or if they’ve already done something bad, or if they ever even will. She doesn’t want to believe that everyone with the ability to do harm will.
She doesn’t want to believe that the eight above Lex’s head will choke the last shred of light she sees in him out. Not wanting to believe something doesn’t make it false.
Lena tells herself she can’t do anything about it anyway. What exactly was she supposed to say to someone? Hi, so my brother’s imaginary danger number is the highest I’ve ever seen and I think he might do something bad. They wouldn’t believe her. He does something unimaginable.
She sits in the courtroom as he’s sentenced for the attempted murder of Clark Kent and a heavily pregnant Lois Lane who are both notably absent from the room. He rants and raves about powers and aliens and a bunch of other nonsense that burns in his eyes. She’d never seen such anger.
She’d never thought of him as more of Lionel’s son. She’d never felt more like Lillian’s daughter than when she held her hand through the whole thing, told her that they were going to be okay just the two of them, that they didn’t need anyone else.
She’s right, in the end. Lillian takes her rightful place as CEO of the newly minted L-Corp, appoints Lena head of the science division so she can, and Lena quotes, ‘hide out with all those nerds and gadgets like she obviously wants to’. And she does - want to hide that is, and watch, because she promises herself she’ll keep an eye on anyone that abnormally high again, promises herself that she’ll never have to watch another person burn themselves and everyone else around them just to see how far the flames can rise.
Most days it’s not an issue.
Everyone in the lab remains around four and lower - fuelled with knowledge but none of the malicious intent to put it towards anything other than the betterment of humanity. Lena makes sure of as much when she hires them, has never hired anyone above a five. Her assistant. She wasn’t entirely sure about that one until an ex-employee tried to strong-arm his way into the labs and Jess twisted his arm awkwardly until he cried and begged her to stop.
She doesn’t leave the lab much, doesn’t really go anywhere other than between work and her sparsely decorated apartment, doesn’t meet anyone new, manages to stop focusing on the numbers after a while and just see faces. It’s nice. It’s relaxing. It’s comfortable.
And then, one day, Lena gets introduced to the newest addition to the HR team.
She gets introduced by Winn. Nervous, unassuming Winn who has a confident three above his head who assures her she just needs to meet his friend Kara who just started two weeks ago, that they just had to eat lunch together that day to welcome her properly.
Lena doesn’t know when she became the welcome committee. She knows even less about why she actually agrees to the request. Usually she avoids everyone. She’s friendly in the labs, tries to make herself approachable enough, but not so approachable that anyone thinks she’ll actually accept their invites to hang out after work or eat lunch anywhere other than in her office alone.
She doesn’t know why she says yes but she does. Let’s herself be practically dragged into the break room by Winn who seems to be giving her Kara’s entire life story – she gives up above two minutes into it. She wishes she’d listened when Winn’s bumbling friend comes in ten minutes late, bumping into things and apologising profusely and fiddling with her glasses the whole time.
The first thing Lena notices is that she’s beautiful.
The kind of beautiful that has her understanding why Winn had wiggled his eyebrows when he begged her to eat lunch with them because ‘Kara needed friends’. This was what she got for disclosing her gayness to him late one night in the office when he’d stayed and shared a bottle of whiskey with her at the end of a particularly gruelling experiment – wincing every sip he took. This was the exact reason she didn’t hang out with her co-workers.
Or maybe it was the exact reason that she should because maybe beautiful wasn’t enough. She defied every notion of what Lena knew as beautiful – not in that she was anything other than classically pretty with her silky blonde braids and pearly white teeth in a broad smile, but in that her bright blue eyes highlighted by black-rimmed glasses and her glass-cutting jaw-line made Lena question every law of nature she had come to understand.
She was muscled arms and broad shoulders wrapped in a summery dress and a smile.
She was ethereal.
And Lena was so tragically gay because it takes far longer than it ever should for her to notice the glowing ten above her head, because for a second her brain is like yeah, no shit this goddess is a ten before it goes into oh shit this goddess is a ten!
Panic mode this time being displayed through Lena practically inhaling an entire lettuce leaf.
A gentle hand pats her back as she chokes her way through it. It’s not Winn’s but it’s so gentle. The gentlest. She had to be glitching. Her thing had to be glitching. There was absolutely no way the soft pat, from even softer hands on her back could ever be attached to someone with the capability to be even more dangerous than her brother.
Maybe if she just closed her eyes and squeezed them tight for long enough, she’d open them back up and Winn’s friend would be nothing more than an incredibly hot woman with an incredibly normal three hanging over her head.
“Are you alright? I’d hate for you to die before I can discover why Winn talks about you all the time. You’re quite impressive apparently.” Lena opens her eyes as her lungs settle down. She almost chokes again when nothing changes. This couldn’t be happening. She could really do with this not happening.
“Yes, no, I’m fine,” Lena sweeps it off, taking the offered bottle from the woman and taking a hearty sip, no thought to be being cautious, thrusting it back into Kara’s almost unready hands when the sense of caution catches up with her. Winn watches the entire exchange with a look that screams I know you said you were gay but this is the gayest display I’ve ever seen.
“Are you sure that you’re okay?” Lena nods, not trusting words, suddenly not trusting a lot of things. Kara grins, stretches out her hand. “Great. Well then, I’m Kara and it’s nice to officially meet you.”
Lena reaches her own hand out, clasps her palm, “Lena. Luthor. Lena Luthor."
“Oh I know. It sounds nice when you say it though,” Kara says, immediately clasping her lips shut once the words are already too far gone and fumbling with her glasses like the action might magically pull them back in (or, at the very least, release her from this conversation).
Lena feels hot. She can’t stop staring at Kara and then above her head and back at her again. Always back to her somehow. Lena can’t remember the time she felt so stuck.
“So you’re in HR?” Lena asks, bemused and disbelieving. She struggled to believe this woman would be doing something so ordinary, so behind the scenes. She looked nothing less than centre stage.
“Yeah. I can’t say it’s where I expected to end up but I love people. They’re so complicated and confusing and interesting and it’s exciting to meet new ones every day. Like you.” It was exciting to meet Lena? That felt new. Lena doesn’t think anyone has ever really wanted to meet her - just meet the things she could offer. But Kara already had a job, and the ability to be the most dangerous person Lena had ever met, and a perfect face.
“I’m sure the sexual harassment meetings shine a particularly lovely light on humanity.”
“They’re not the best but you’ve got to see the bright side of it all - I’m very good at firing people with a smile on my face,” Kara grins as if to prove her point. Lena feels like she does in that first morning moment when she opens her blinds and lets sunlight wash over her skin. Illuminated.
“I don’t doubt that’s a sight to behold.” Lena’s watch beeps with a message before she can really delve into that. “If you’ll excuse me I’ve got some samples that need my approval.”
“No problem. I’m on the eighth floor if you ever need me, or you know, want me. For work and stuff, or like normal stuff, like lunch again. Or for the first time really because you barely touched your salad and-“ Winn places a hand on Kara’s arm. She pauses suddenly, takes a deep breath and winces as she nods her thanks at him. It’s incredibly strange to view Winn as the composed one for once.
“Perhaps,” Lena says cryptically, even though she knows she’ll be taking Kara up on her offer.
She needed to know more about her.
For humanity’s sake.
(Absolutely not because for the first time in a long time, she was intrigued by someone.
Definitely not that).
Lena built herself an ivory tower a long time ago – adds new bricks every year and hides herself away from the rest of the world. Occasionally she drops down a rope, hopes that someone might brave the climb. She can count the number of people who’ve tried on one hand.
She’s been tossing the metaphorical rope from hand to hand for days now. Debating the pros and cons of letting Kara Danvers climb up even an inch. Kara Danvers who appears so frustratingly normal in all the checks Lena runs on her – no criminal record, no hidden agendas, no missing time. Just a girl from a small town with a tragic back story and an unstoppable need to give back. Lena has never discovered so many charitable donations in a background check before.
But there had to be something. There had to be some reason why every time Lena caught a glimpse of her around the office she saw that glowing ten. It was like it was taunting her – a flashing sign in the air that screamed danger but hung like a halo above her head.
Lena lets go of the rope because she needs to, because she has to know what makes this woman tick, what she’s hiding under sunshine smiles, if she really had the capacity to be worse than her brother (and not at all because she thinks she’d quite like a friend like Kara).
She finds herself on the eighth floor under the guise of ‘needing a document filed’. Guise is perhaps too strong a word, she did actually need the file delivered to Kara, it just definitely could have waited a few days and been taken by her assistant like usual, or just emailed like it was supposed to be in a paperless office instead of printed in the one last archaic printer left and hand delivered.
But she made her choice. She doesn’t find herself regretting it when Kara smiles her way.
“Lena, you left your basement!”
“It’s a sub-level.” The hotter, older sister of the basement.
“And you brought a present,” Kara continues, ignoring the petulant correction and taking the file from Lena’s hand, flicking through it and half-throwing it on her desk in a manner that screams that’s a problem for later. Lena was the not-so-problem now. “I was going to get coffee, you should come.”
“Oh no, I only came here for the file.”
“Came for the file, stayed for the delicious free coffee I’m offering to buy you,” Kara presses. Lena feels the hesitation bloom on her face and shatter in the same instant that Kara pouts and pairs it with puppy dog eyes. “Come on – I’ll even recite whatever ridiculous concoction it is that you drink for you so the shame of it gets passed onto me instead.”
“Well who could pass up that offer?” Lena tells herself she accepts for the sake of investigation, scientific research and experimentation. Maybe Kara would do something odd on the way to the cart downstairs; maybe she’d slip something in someone’s drink, slip up and share something dark.
It’s not the real reason. She says yes because of the way Kara grins. The way her hand hovers just over the base of Lena’s back, never quite touching but ever gently present as she leads Lena from the office and into the hallway. The way she gestures for Lena to lead the way with a ridiculous bow.
The silly way she adjusts her glasses as she jokingly scrutinises Lena and asks, with the most terrible English accent, “So Lena Luthor of L-Corp, how did you end up here?”
“Did you miss the many years this place was called Luthor Corp? There’s still a sign on the fourth floor that hasn’t been taken down yet if you need reminding.” It’d been defaced to an incredible degree, sure, but it still hung. Lillian hadn’t taken her usual forceful hand to the situation of its removal and part of Lena thought she rather enjoyed knowing it was still there, gathering new pieces of graffiti everyday, making the fourth floor inhabitants laugh about the new vulgar drawings, the new messages passed back and forth by mysterious participants.
“Family business, sure, but why do you hide away in your labs and not with the big suits upstairs?”
“I liked wearing the suits, but not so much embodying one. What about you, Kara Danvers of Human Resources, you said you didn’t expect to end up here. Where did you expect to end up?”
“I bet you looked good,” Kara says and the words have none of the false charm that usually accompanied the compliments Lena received.
The charm comes from the sincerity. She doesn’t turn her head towards Lena to wink and seek validation in a blush. She politely watches from her peripheral as her eyes lock on the hallway ahead, navigating her new domain. They don’t ooze effort or practice. They come as though she was simply telling Lena it was a Tuesday, or it was raining outside, or she knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was simply a fact Lena looked good.
(Lena had never felt more so like she did).
“Six year old me wanted to be a scientist. Fourteen year old me a WWE wrestler. I studied catering at college because I fell a little too in love with potstickers and convinced myself I was going to open a food truck. I’m still convinced of that now but it requires a little more money than I have and there was an opening here in HR so I snatched up the insanely impressive health benefits whilst I could.”
“So we’re your second choice? Harsh, Kara.”
Kara scoffs, “I don’t think you’ve been anyone’s second choice in your life.” She seems to freeze when Lena doesn’t offer an immediate retort, offers the security guard a far less jovial hello than she had offered everyone else they passed as she considers Lena’s choked silence. For once in her life Lena feels outplayed and maybe her heart jumps a bit, but it was just startled, nothing else.
“I’m sorry. I should probably stop before I have to write myself up for inappropriate behaviour,” Kara jokes, forcing a laugh that sounds more pained than anything - it hits Lena like a lightning bolt, a sharp jolt that runs through her entire body, sparking in her throat.
“I won’t tell if you don’t,” she husks without thought causing a red cloud to bloom across Kara’s neck, shift with the wind across her cheeks. Lena feels like she’s gained her footing for all of about two seconds before she realises how blue the blush makes Kara’s eyes look.
Thankfully she’s saved by any further embarrassment but the forced cheer of the coffee cart server’s voice spouting some coffee pun or another – we’ve got a latte options we think you’ll love (she’s sure the words haunt the girls dreams).
“So what’s your poison?”
Kara laughs, “I should’ve seen that coming.”
Lena stands back quietly as Kara interacts with the girl Lena had just been calling ‘coffee girl’ in her head for months. She watches her refer to her by name despite the lack of a badge, listens to questions about how her classes are going, and what was happening with the cute girl from her econ class that shared her notes with her last week, sees her deposit way too high a tip with nothing but a soft smile and a sharp hand that stops any protest from Claire in a clearly familiar silent argument.
She couldn’t be dangerous. She keeps half wondering when the façade will drop or something will be dropped into her drink or anything other than Kara being the nicest person she’d ever met. She couldn’t possibly be dangerous. She couldn’t possibly be faking everything that she was.
Except Lena spends the night wondering about clumsy hands and gentle bumps of glasses frames after someone smacks directly into her and she drops her cup because it doesn’t hit the floor like it should.
Kara catches it with deft hands. No hint of a flinch as a few boiling droplets spill onto her skin. No reaction at all except worry for Lena as her free hand works its way round her back to keep her upright.
Lena spends the night wondering about the strength in Kara’s bicep where her hand comes to rest. The clear steel she can feel even beneath several layers.
Lena spends the night wondering if Kara Danvers really was hiding something and how on earth she was supposed to clear her mind for long enough to figure it out when she couldn’t seem to focus on anything other than the second after Kara had gotten her fully back on her own feet. The second when she pointed towards the man who had knocked her down and simply said people like that mocha me crazy with a pointed sip of her drink.
She was so stupid.
And Lena was utterly charmed.
Lena starts a journal. The best way to go about this had to be to treat it as scientifically as possible. Logic was her friend, her muse. If anything could get her through this confusion it was that. So she starts a list – a list of all the things that don’t quite add up about Kara Danvers.
Number one: Lena had seen her eat way too much literally every time she ever witnessed the other woman at lunch and she still had an insane figure. No one could go to the gym that much to even it out. No one should have visible abs through shirts at the same time that they attempt to fit as many potstickers in their mouth at once on a dare from Winn.
Number two: Her reflexes were insane. Catching a falling cup of burning hot coffee insane. Catching other things that Lena had decided to start pretending to drop in her vicinity insane. So far she’d reflexively grabbed a microscope, a phone, a stapler, a glass of water without spilling a drop (that last one actually wasn’t so on purpose and more because Lena was so distracted watching Kara roll up her shirt sleeves that she’d forgotten how to grip a little bit).
Number three: No mere mortal could be that hot.
Number four: She convinces Lena to hold a baby.
Lena’s alone in the lab as she works through lunch, refusing to give up on the stupid half-working contraption in front of her. She could figure it out. She definitely could figure it out. It might just require her to forget to eat like three meals and exist on an unhealthy amount of black coffee.
She’s alone the way she often finds she works best. And then she’s not.
Kara’s rushes in like a whirlwind with an armful of child and Lena’s not really sure what quite transpires that ends with her holding said child and Kara running away at the same insane, breakneck speed that was probably number five on the ‘Kara isn’t quite normal’ list.
“Kids really shouldn’t be in the lab,” Lena had said.
“I’m really not good with babies,” Lena had said.
“Please do not pass me that baby,” Lena had said.
And yet, here she was, cradling a baby and praying to god she was supporting the head right.
Kara’s sisters baby she was told as it, he, was handed off to her with an apology and a half completed sentence about how her sister had been called in on a state emergency and her wife was out of town on a company retreat and the nanny was sick and Kara had a meeting that she absolutely had to attend that also absolutely couldn’t have a baby in it in case he heard something too sad and Winn wasn’t in today and she didn’t trust anyone else with the baby and Lena was her friend and friends helped each other and –
That’s when the door closed.
That’s when Lena was left with a stupid warmth in her chest at the word friend and a baby. An actual, living baby. What did people do with babies? How old even was this baby? Why was she asking that like it would help her at all? What if he pooped? God, what if he started crying?
“Hello, Jeremiah Danvers. I’m Lena Luthor; it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He smiles. Lena tells herself its just gas but she’ll admit he is kind of cute. The way he tugs on her hair is less so. “So you’re Kara’s nephew? That must be nice. I bet she gives great hugs, huh?
“You must know a lot about her too. All the secrets, people are never cautious around babies because you obviously have absolutely no way to share them around since you can’t even hold your own head up. So you’re pretty useless.” His eyes are wide as he stares up at Lena – a warm chestnut brown that makes her feel at least a little bad for her words.
So maybe he was more than kind of cute with his tiny wisps of forming hair and I love my aunt onesie. Maybe Lena felt a little bit like she might melt. What was she becoming?
“Let’s try and make you a little less useless, huh? This is my latest project. See that little pot that looks completely empty? Well it actually has these very, very tiny little bots inside that are supposed to be able to be programmed to fix wounds, or booboos I guess. They’re not doing what I want them to though and that’s very bad.” Jeremiah gurgles, Lena nods sagely like it makes perfect sense.
“Exactly, JD. Naughty, nanobots,” she jokingly chastises as she gently boops his nose with her own. He smiles again and that one she is for sure pretending is real. “You smile just like your aunt you know, which makes absolutely no sense. Does that mean she’s passing gas all the time too?”
“I can assure you that I’m not.” Lena startles at the voice, instinctively pulls JD closer to her chest before she catches sight of Kara and lets the wind drop from her sails. “You said you weren’t good with babies,” Kara accuses as she steps closer, smile soft and calm.
“I’m not,” Lena retorts. “You didn’t take very long for a meeting.”
“He looks very cosy,” Kara avoids expertly, carefully extracting JD from Lena’s arms. She feels both lighter and colder at the loss. “Did I just hear you calling him JD? Because that is an awesome nickname and I’m totally stealing it and pretending it was my idea.” Her voices pitches up as she settles JD in her arms, practically cooing the words into his face and Lena’s struggling a little to decide which one she thinks is cutest and how exactly is the trajectory her day decided to take?
“Jeremiah felt a little old man-ish.”
Kara hums, “It was our dad’s name. He passed away a few years ago.”
Foot meet mouth. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“For once I actually feel like the sentiment is real,” Kara says softly, her eyes boring into Lena’s like she can see the thousand truths hidden behind them. The ones that say Lena knows death, knows the hurt of it, that she understands the pain of losing a parent, even if she happened to gain another in the process.
She loved Lillian with all her might but sometimes she still pictured flowering fields and auburn hair highlighted by the sun. Sometimes she was still reminded of the weight that hung around her heart – just because she had gotten used to the load, didn’t mean that it wasn’t with her every step she took.
“Can I buy you lunch? To say thank you for dropping him on you like this.”
“I’m a little busy right now.”
“Of course, the naughty nanobots,” Kara mimics. Fuck. She was never going to love that down. If that got to Winn she was really never going to love that down. “Rain check?”
“Sure, Kara. Rain check,” Lena acquiesces, smiling begrudgingly as Kara beams, picking up JD’s arm to make it look like he’s the one waving at Lena as she says bye in an incredibly high-pitched voice.
Lena looks at the one above JD’s head and the ten above Kara’s and wonders why those can’t just be as similar as they’re stupid, heart-melting smiles.
Apparently Kara takes the acceptance of a rain check seriously, very seriously, like Lena blows her off a further two times and Kara still takes it upon herself to storm into her office holding a brown paper bag – followed quickly by an out of breath, visibly alarmed Jess.
“Sorry, Miss Luthor. She’s deceptively fast.” Jess glares at Kara a little, no doubt thinking about her usually perfect track record of strong-arming people away from Lena’s office. It was one of Jess’ more impressive skills considering her small stature.
“That’s okay, Jess. You can add her to the list.”
“The list?” Jess asks incredulously. The second half of her question remains silent. The part that screams the list that literally does not exist because the only person you allow easily into your office is your mother and even that changes with the wind. Lena simply nods to both the asked and unasked, thankful that Jess wasn’t one to get involved in water cooler gossip.
“I didn’t know there was a VIP list to get in here,” Kara jokes.
Lena furrows her brow, vaguely looks over Kara’s shoulder in a searching gesture. “You didn’t see the velvet rope on the way in?”
Kara chuckles, “I brought you lunch. Winn says you’re terrible at remembering to eat and that, when you do, it’s always… salad,” she finishes with a shudder and an obscene gagging sound before she lifts up the bag in her hand, logo bright red and impossibly to miss.”So I’ve got Big Belly Burger – which is both filling and part of a healthy balanced diet.”
“There’s some lettuce in there,” Kara offers, rolling her eyes at Lena’s deadpan expression. “You can’t just eat vegetables, Lena, you’ll fade away and I quite like having you around.”
Lena softens, “Hand the grease over then.” Kara’s already unpacking before she’s fully finished talking, dropping into the seat opposite Lena at her desk.
She’ll admit that it does look good. Juicy burger, skin-on fries, what she’s sure to be a milkshake being placed in front of her with a grand gesture. She really hopes it’s chocolate. If she’s doing this she really needs it to be chocolate. She sips. It’s chocolate – heavenly chocolate – and maybe she moans a little at the taste, who could really blame her.
God she wishes she could do this all the time. Why didn’t she do this all the time? She gets flashes of herself in the gym on the treadmill, sweating and on the verge of magically somehow developing asthma out of nowhere and yeah, that pretty much answered that question.
Not everyone had a superhuman metabolism.
“I made a good choice, huh?” Kara wiggles her brows, taking her own impressive bite and sighing contently as she relaxes into her chair.
“Yes but you should also never bring me this again if you care about me at all.”
“But bringing you other things for lunch would be okay?” Kara doesn’t meet Lena’s eyes as she asks the question. There’s an almost nervous tick to the way she shifts her fries in front of her but makes no move to eat any of them. Lena doesn’t remember the last time someone looked like they cared so much about her response, not to something this ordinary.
“I think I could handle other foods, yes,” Lena agrees, takes pride in the way Kara’s eyes flicker up to her own, the way the fry easily makes it way to her mouth.
“Do you have allergies? I wouldn’t want to bring you something and you feel like you politely had to eat it and then watch you secretly stab yourself with an epi-pen.”
“That seems too well thought out to be a hypothetical.”
Kara shrugs, “My sister’s wife did it on their first date.”
“No. No allergies, except bees but I don’t foresee that being a problem.” Lena allows herself a vague glance at the ten above Kara’s head as she lets that fact slip, wonders why she was so easily handing over the key to killing her to a person with such high capacity to be dangerous.
“Protect you from all bee stings, noted,” Kara nods, miming jotting down the words. That was why.
“Thank you for this. I didn’t realise how hungry I was.”
“You do get a little in your own head. I walked through the lab the other day and you didn’t look up from your work once.” Lena doesn’t question why Kara was in the lab, doesn’t mention that her office isn’t even on the same floor, that there was no cut through that would take her that way, that she could have just emailed anyone she might have needed. She barely even spares logic a thought.
“You could’ve said hello.”
“I like the look on your face when you concentrate. You get this crinkle on your forehead. It reminds me of people back home - so completely focused on what’s in front of them, on pushing advancements beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.”
“You’re not from here?” Lena would never have guessed. Her accent was nondescript, she never faltered in conversation, she took every pop culture reference Winn handed her and sent him one immediately back. She fit in just like anyone else. Anyone else who was way too beautiful to even be real (maybe that was her secret - she was a robot).
“Oh, no, I’m from a small town up north. Way, way up north. I moved to Midvale when I was thirteen after my parents died to be with the Danvers. Then I moved here for college.” Kara doesn’t trip over the words, doesn’t sugar-coat them, speaks them as though she’d said them a thousand times. My parents died. Fact. But Lena doesn’t miss the way the light in her eyes dims.
“You’re adopted?” She focuses on instead. Kara nods. “Me too.”
“I knew we were kindred spirits.”
“I suppose we are.” Lena kind of liked that, the connection, however vague. She’s less fond of the way her computer rudely interrupts with a notification - one that she can’t ignore. “I hate to do this but I have a meeting with my mother.”
“You schedule meetings with your mother?”
“Only official ones. Sometimes we have surprise lunches – believe it or not she forgets to eat even more than I do.” It was an odd day when Lena was the one walking into someone’s office with a bag full of food and the voice of reason but she supposed that’s where she got her hyper focus from, her need to do everything perfectly then and there.
“I’d have to see that to believe it,” Kara says, clearing Lena’s desk and shouldering her bag. “Well I’ll leave you to it then, and next time I’ll bring a salad?”
“I look forward to it.”
They start having lunch together a couple times a week, to the point that Lena keeps that part of the day free just in case, finds herself a little disappointed if Kara doesn’t show up that day and she knows people are talking. She’s heard the whispers. The rumours.
She ignores them, obviously, but that doesn’t stop them increasing with every new passing interaction - honestly the people in the building were like children. Excitable children.
She knows that Kara’s in the lab because suddenly no one seems interested in their work anymore, because there’s suddenly a smattering of hushed voices desperately trying and failing to say Lena’s name quiet enough that she won’t notice (hint: she notices).
She also notices the smile on Kara’s face when she looks up from her station, the brightly coloured cakes she’s holding in her hands that Lena would say definitely looked home-made. She pays less heed to the shaking heads she sees over Kara’s shoulders, the mouths that mouth don’t try them.
“Hi,” she breathes.
Kara beams. “I brought cakes.”
“I can see that. May I ask why?”
“I was testing out recipes for Eliza’s birthday and I made so many that I couldn’t possibly eat them all myself so I thought people in the office might like them but no one on my floor seemed to want any so I came here. For you. And other people obviously.” Lena looks at the ten above her head with complete disbelief. There was absolutely no way this girl was dangerous, how could she possibly be dangerous? She wore pastel sweaters and made butterfly cupcakes.
She was practically a girl scout.
Lena takes the offered cake. She overlooks every sign that says do not put that thing in your mouth because Kara looks so excited. The number of red flags Lena’s sees before she takes a bite include: her co-workers wide eyes, the way they run their hands across their necks in the universal sign of literally please do not do that, the literal NO she hears Winn cough under his breath. All ignored.
It’s salty. It’s so bloody salty.
She does her best to not react. She thinks she passes off her hum as a sound of pleasure and not complete disgust. Kara’s grin widens as if that was actually a possibility. Maybe that’s why she was a ten; she was literally going to blind Lena with the shine of her smile. It could happen.
“I knew they were good! Everyone kept pulling faces but see!” Kara’s smile turns smug as she regards the other people around the room, poking her tongue out at Winn. She doesn’t seem to notice Glen across the room drop one into a nearby potted plant (Lena’s glad it’s not a live one, she’s almost convinced it would kill it).
“Well I think they’re great,” Lena lies.
“Here, have another!”
“Oh no, I couldn’t take one from someone else.” Please, anyone who was listening, let her not have to take another one. She could not handle another one.
“Please, they’ll go to waste otherwise.”
“If you insist.” She takes another one, bites into it when Kara looks at her pointedly and why on earth was she doing this? Maybe mind control was a thing. Maybe she was genuinely being mind controlled to eat a terrible cupcake and that was why Kara was dangerous.
“Oh, I have to go, file some stuff, like right now. Very important filing but I’ll see you later, Lena.” Lena waves in a daze as Kara darts from the room, her box of cupcakes still firmly on Lena’s desk. She really needed to throw those out, quickly.
“You’ve got it bad.”
“Fuck off, Winslow.”
Lena’s thinks that’s the end of it. She’s pretty sure that’s the end of it.
It is not, in fact, the end of it.
Lena’s in the middle of connecting two, incredibly important, wires the next day when Kara comes storming into the lab with an accusing, “I used salt instead of sugar!” It’s safe to say they don’t connect the way they should. Lena’s also less angry that she should be. She knows exactly why.
“I forced all of those cupcakes on you and I mixed up my containers because why do salt and sugar look so similar and you just ate them with a smile.”
“I didn’t want to be rude.” She also didn’t even think the lie would come back to bite her on the ass. She kind of figured they would all move on and Lena would pretend the taste hadn’t mildly scarred her for life until the next time Kara offered her food and she felt a fearful chill run down her spine.
“The other day Max asked why you hadn’t RSVP’d to his party and you told him, to his face, that it was because you couldn’t think of anything worse than pretending to like him outside of work.”
Lena shrugs, “You’re not Max.”
“Oh,” Kara whispers, blushing as she pushes another sweet treat towards Lena. It’s safe to say she eyes it with more than a little apprehension. “I brought an apology muffin. This one I tasted first.” Lena picks it up tentatively to take a bite and yeah, that was sugar, delicious chocolate and sugar. Her hum of appreciation is far from faked this time.
“It’s actually a bribe.” And here it was – the other shoe that had been waiting to drop.
“I’m hosting a game night on Friday – it’s the first ever one at my new apartment. It was kind of a tradition with me and my friends the last time we all lived in the same city and we’re trying to bring it back and I need a partner and I thought that maybe that could be you? I’d like it to be you.” That’s all she wanted? That couldn’t be all she wanted. That was never all anyone wanted.
“I’m not very good at board games.” On account of the fact that she had no idea how to actually play any of them because it wasn’t really a Luthor thing to do. Chess she could do, chess she loved, chess Lillian spent hours teaching her all the moves, the plays, the tricks, but other games? No clue.
“We play Mario Kart sometimes too. And we do trivia – I bet you’re good at trivia,” Kara pushes, voice oddly tense, fingers fidgeting and Lena couldn’t really say no could she, not to that face.
“I suppose we’ll find out.”
Kara grins, “So you’ll come?”
“Yes, Kara, I’ll come.”
“Great, I’ll text you my address!” Kara says excitedly, swiftly turning on her feet as though to run off before Lena can change her mind. There was one slight issue with her plan though. Just a small thing. Kara stops abruptly, spins. “Could I have your number so I can text you my address?”
Lena takes the offered phone with a laugh, “There you go.”
“Now I can text you whenever I think about you, instead of having to wait to come all the way to your basement.”
“Sub-level,” Lena autocorrects and then immediately freezes as Kara’s words catch up with her. Whenever she thought about her. Thought about her. She thought about her.
Lena waves in response.
Ignores the way her heart flutters in favour of the project in front of her.
Game night is… weird.
It’s so insanely strange from the get-go and Lena doesn’t really know what to make of it. She spends two minutes at Kara’s door prepping herself to knock only to have it opened before her knuckles can even rap the wood. She finds food on the kitchen counter that she could’ve sworn was from her favourite French patisserie that she’d only vaguely mentioned once in passing to Kara but couldn’t possibly be because it was still warm and they didn’t even deliver in France, let alone America.
Then there are Kara’s friends. Brainy and J’onn sit at eights but Lena can’t sense much about them other than Brainy is a little socially awkward and J’onn is a private investigator and surrogate father for everyone in the room. Alex and Nia are both sevens and whilst Kara’s sister has a look in her eye that says she’s seen things she never should have, Nia is nothing but sunshine and smiles and awkward comments that she looks like she wishes she could physically suck back into her mouth.
James, Kelly and Winn are the only relatively normal ones at four.
And then there’s Kara. Kara who said she needed a partner when Lena made odd numbers. Kara who drops a game piece under the sofa and mindlessly picks it up with one hand, with James sitting on the other end, to get it back and Lena may be gay but she had noticed how built he was, how strong Kara would have to be to achieve that so easily, how hot it was.
Kara who people kept making really weird comments to, like “yeah well not all of us can just fly places at the speed of sound… or any of us at all actually. None of us can do that but wouldn’t that be great” and “Kara stop peeking at my cards” when they were literally turned away from her.
Kara who arm wrestles James to be Lena’s trivia partner and actually beats him even though he is like triple her size and maybe Lena would think further into it if most of her thoughts weren’t overtaken with holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck.
Kara who didn’t make any sense and Lena knew there was something strange, something she could’ve put her finger on if she just took a second but she couldn’t bring herself to focus on anything other than the ever-growing panic that she had a crush on this girl and she hadn’t had a crush in years and she didn’t know what to do. What was she supposed to do?
Maybe that’s what made Kara so dangerous, her ability to completely erase Lena’s brain of all thought and logic.
Despite the insanity, Lena has a great time. She’s never felt more in tandem with someone than when playing with Kara. Never felt more included in a group than with these people who ask so much without ever pushing her too far.
Never felt warmer than when Kara sits closer than necessary, when she pats Lena’s knee in consolation and excitedly squeezes her hand when something goes right. Never felt more alive than when they win charades and Kara picks her off her feet and spins her round before dropping her quickly and apologising profusely - Lena brushes it off with a blush and a very pointed avoidance of the knowing looks around the room (especially Winn, he was smug enough already).
The looks become more pointed when everyone suddenly leaves in one quick swell, leaving Lena behind with Kara in a totally unsubtle move. Lena wishes she wasn’t so obvious. When did she suddenly become so obvious that near strangers could see past her façade?
“Are you getting a cab?” Kara asks when everything is tidy and Lena runs out of reasons to stick around. Lena doesn’t feel the need to admit she never gets cabs, that usually she dials a single number and has her personal chauffeur take her from door to door.
“My apartment isn’t far and it’s nice out so I think I’ll walk.”
“I’ll walk you home then.” Kara’s already grabbing her coat as Lena drops a placating hand to her forearm to try and stop her from finishing the job.
“Then you’ll be the one walking alone,” Lena argues. She doesn’t know why she thought Kara would have any other reaction to logic than just shrugging and continuing to slip her coat on.
“I’d rather know you were safe.”
“How about you walk me halfway, that way neither of us has to walk the whole way alone.”
“You strike a hard bargain, Lena Luthor, but deal.” Kara smiles and Lena allows her to slip her coat over her shoulders.
It’s a quiet walk - footsteps and half sentences. It’s calming. It makes Lena feel oddly content. Silence had always comforted her; she’d spent so much time in it that it had become a part of her. But it was rare to not feel awkward in it with someone else – Lena had always felt a little suffocated in someone else’s silence, waiting for them to crack. Not Kara’s.
“This is halfway,” Lena stops them before Kara’s warmth distracts her all the way to her door.
“So it would seem,” Kara replies, hesitates for a second before opening her arms. Lena doesn’t hesitate at all before stepping into them. She smells like lavender and fabric softener, pulls Lena into her arms with sure and steady arms and she kind of never wants to let go but she extracts herself and forces herself to keep walking regardless.
She’s almost sure she sees a woman flying overhead a few times on her way back. She blames it on being too tired, too much wine, because that would be ridiculous. There were no superheroes in National City. If someone could fly they would know all about it by now.
Lena finds it on her desk after a meeting. Sitting directly on top of her half completed reports, it’s the first thing she sees when she sits down – a ticket for the new exhibit at her favourite gallery. It opened a few weeks ago and she hadn’t had the chance to go between work and everything else but she hadn’t told anyone about it.
Anyone except the person standing in the doorway of her office. Posture more slouched than usual. Smile a little shaky but still as sunny. Hands dancing around one another, never quite settled.
“You found it,” Kara says, stepping closer.
“I did. You…” Listened to my entire ramble about some random art gallery I love, remembered and bought me a ticket? Are the sweetest person I’ve ever met? Couldn’t be real?
“I bought two. I, um, I can give you the second one too. I should probably have just given you both tickets and you could bring someone else but I thought maybe we could go. You and I. Together. I thought you and I going together might be nice.”
Lena waves her ramble off with a dismissive hand and a self-deprecating laugh, “Of course. Who else would I take? You’re like my only real friend in National City.”
“Friends, yeah,” Kara repeats oddly but Lena can’t place the tone, can’t really place much beyond the sound of her own heart hammering in her ears. “Well, I have to go do, like, HR stuff and things but I can pick you up tonight at like eight?”
“We can just meet there, it’s closer to you than me,” Lena says.
“I’d like to pick you up,” Kara replies, a little sharp and imploring. Lena knows it’s the kind of tone she shouldn’t argue with, especially coming from someone like Kara who was usually nothing but soft syllables and calming consonants.
“OK, weirdo. Eight sounds good.”
“Awesome. I’ll see you later then.” Kara ducks out quickly. It’s not long before Lena starts hearing Jess’ stifled laughter just outside her open office door. Not much longer after that before she can’t hold in her curiosity any longer and steps out of her office towards her assistant’s desk.
“Anything you’d like to share, Jess?” There’s no sense of intimidation from Jess as Lena crosses her arms and raises her eyebrow, just more laughter – less subdued this time. Lena admits she’s a little proud of the display. She can still remember a time when Jess first started and hadn’t figured out how to see past Lena’s scowls and blunt words. Now she was laughing in Lena’s face with abandon… maybe she should make her afraid again.
“You know she was asking you on a date right?” She asks when she has her laughter under control and she’s back to her usual normal gently mocking smile.
“What? No, pfft, Kara? Asking me on a date? No.” That wasn’t possible. That was literally the least possible explanation for that scenario. It just wasn’t… she wouldn’t… they weren’t…
“She got tickets for you and her to go to your favourite gallery and then fought with you in order to be able to pick you up at your door. Don’t blame me when she shows up later with flowers and you’re not prepared for it.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“I hate to say this when your money is literally how I put food on my table every night but you are the one being ridiculous,” Jess argues.
Lena groans, “If I gave you another pay rise would you start sugar coating things?”
“You literally gave me one last month to not.” Oh, she did, she did do that.
But that was mostly in regards to other people. Lena liked it when Jess was rude to men who didn’t think Lena could comprehend their plans because she was a woman, or the board members who decided they wanted to visit the little lady in the lab for the day despite not knowing a single thing about anything other than losing their hair and mistreating their wives.
That was funny. It wasn’t so funny when it was aimed at Lena.
“Well I’ve changed my mind.”
“Just go hide in your lab for a few hours before your not-date like you obviously want to,” Jess waves her off. Lena rolls her eyes but knows to pick her battles wisely enough to not bother fighting with Jess on this – she wanted to go to the lab anyway. This was mostly for her.
And it wasn’t a date. It wasn’t. But maybe Lena leaves a little earlier than she usually would to go home and shave her legs. And maybe she does brush her teeth twice because she doesn’t feel like they seem clean enough. And maybe she does go through her entire wardrobe like three times over to find the perfect mix of casual and cute.
It still wasn’t a date.
Except when Kara knocks on her door and Lena swings it open with, what she hopes is, an easy smile, she finds Kara standing there with a bouquet of metal flowers – twisted wires all weaved together to look like little plumerias, beautiful in the strangest way.
Fuck, maybe Jess was right.
She should have worn the other shirt.
These pants didn’t make her ass look good enough.
“I figured you couldn’t forget to water them if they weren’t alive,” Kara explains as she offers them out to Lena, who swiftly accepts them, darting off with a one minute gesture as she places them in an empty vase to keep them upright on her kitchen counter.
“Thank you – they’re lovely. You’re lovely,” Lena says as she returns, allowing Kara to lead the way from her apartment as she locks it behind her. Kara talks a mile a minute as she asks Lena questions about her day, they get a little ridiculous after a while and Lena doesn’t know why she’s humouring Kara with facts about her daily breakfast routine but the more she talks about eggs the less nervous Kara seems and she can’t handle not being the one on the edge.
She needed Kara securely off the edge.
The car door is opened quickly for her when she gets in, even faster when they’re parked outside the gallery and Kara rushes around the vehicle to make sure she beats her and, yes, Kara was the sweetest person to ever grace the earth with her presence but this was also definitely a date.
Lena was so fucking stupid.
Just stupid enough to have the capacity to be bold. Just stupid enough to talk herself around the panic building in her chest and take Kara’s hand when they step inside the building. Not stupid enough that she can talk herself into meeting Kara’s eye after the action though. She steadfastly refuses to look at her then, holding her hand loosely like she was half waiting for Kara to let go, announce that she’d read this all wrong.
Kara grips tighter. “So, Lena Luthor, left or right?”
It doesn’t take long for a painting to grab their attention. Lena can’t explain what it is about the red. Swirls of paint upon paint upon paint. Different textures, levels, hues. She can’t pinpoint what it is that strikes a cord in her – she half thinks it’s the way Kara reacts. The sudden extra strength in her grip, the concentrated look of pain that settles on her face, her tight breaths.
“Do you not like it?”
“No I- I love it. It just reminds me of something I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s strange, you know. That this one artist knows nothing of my life, has never experienced the things that made me who I am, the place that I came from and yet, somehow, they’ve painted their understanding of the world and it’s so eerily aligns with mine. Two completely separate minds inexplicably linked.”
“You’re a marvel, Kara Danvers,” Lena says in lieu of explaining the thump in her chest and because it’s true. Kara never failed to exhibit some new aspect of herself that made Lena feel like she was meeting an entirely new side of her every day. She was an enigma in an open book.
And she was ineffably pretty when she blushed.
It’s nice walking around with Kara. Nice to listen to her thoughts about different sculptures and paintings and the larger theme and have her thoughts listened to in response with no sense of her pretending to listen as a means to an end. It’s nice to go somewhere with someone who actually seems to care. Nice to listen to someone so smart and intuitive and understanding.
It’s nice to hold Kara’s hand.
She holds it the whole time. She almost forgets for a while, gets used to the feeling of Kara’s hand in her own, acclimates to the weight. It’s not until they’re back outside and she realises one of her hands is freezing that she considers why the other one is warm.
It makes her feel a little silly. She’s even sillier for deciding to open her mouth and say, “this is probably a little embarrassing to admit but… I didn’t realise this was a date.”
“Oh,” Kara falters, her grip loosening as Lena’s tightens in response, her other hand coming to comfortingly lie on Kara’s forearm.
“No, not, I’m glad that it is. I just… I didn’t think you were interested in me like that.” She would have put money on it. Almost did make a bet with Jess when she left the office that afternoon.
“I’ve been flirting with you for weeks, or I thought I was flirting. Apparently not very well if it went that far over your head,” Kara huffs.
“I’ve been known to duck when it comes to noticing advances.” It only really happened when she liked someone. Lena always knew when a guy was hitting on her at a bar or when a random co-worker was getting a little too friendly. She always sensed when a woman at a gala had been surreptitiously sent to speak to her by her meddling mother. But when it came down to when it really mattered it was like her mind went blank. “I suppose I thought you were just being friendly.”
“I’m a friendly person but I don’t bring anyone else lunch three times a week and insist on walking them home so I can be next to them for five more minutes.” Well when she put it that way…
“So you did have ulterior motives beyond my safety,” Lena jokes.
“Oh yeah, I very nefariously was trying to give myself enough time to hold your hand,” Kara says in the space where Lena’s heart skips a beat.
“Was it worth it?” Lena asks, quietly thanking Kara as she opens the car door for her again.
“I think so." Kara lets go of Lena’s hand for less than twenty seconds as she rushes round to her side and buckles herself in, grabbing Lena’s hand again and settling it under hers on the gear shift. “So how did you like this date that you didn’t think was a date? Would you consider going on a not date with me again?”
“You haven’t even dropped me to my door yet, what if you do something horrifically awkward that we can’t come back from?” Read: what if Lena did something horrifically awkward that put Kara off her forever and they awkwardly pretended not to know each other when they bumped into one another at work.
Lena still vividly remembers the week Gayle and Imra had that argument and would force other people to relay messages even when the other woman was directly in front of them – she didn’t want to be gay drama 2.0.
“Like try to kiss you and accidentally break your nose?”
“You’re thinking about kissing me?” Lena teases. She’s thinking about it now. She’s really thinking about it now. In the way that she was definitely thinking about it earlier but then it was an afterthought and now it’s like a swarm of bees buzzing through her head.
“Not with that attitude,” Kara jokes back.
“I’ll behave,” Lena says, an octave lower than she means too and does she mean to make it sound so sexual? No. Well, she might have been aiming for a little. It settles on a lot. She’s a little proud when Kara blushes, even if her own skin decides to follow suit.
The rest of the drive is a little quiet as Kara sings a long to the radio and Lena doesn’t want the night to end when they pull up outside her apartment. She doesn’t want to lose the warmth of Kara’s hand as she walks Lena inside the building and to her door. She doesn’t want to lose this soft bubble they’d created where Lena felt untouchable.
“Well here we are. You could come in for a bit if you’d like? I have some of that hot chocolate you insisted I try - the one that’s way too sweet.” The one she bought two pots of just in case.
“I will hear no slander of the nectar of the gods,” Kara says assertively, as if on instinct because her hands reach up to fiddle with black frames. “But I probably shouldn’t because you drive me a little crazy and I don’t want to do anything to mess this up.”
“There’s nothing you could do or say that would make me like you any less.”
“What if, when I lean in to kiss you in like, ooh, one minute I accidentally head butt you?”
“My head would be a little red and I’d still like you.”
“What if I sneezed in your face?”
“I would say bless you and still not like you any less.”
“What if I told you that I was an alien?”
Lena laughs, thrown for a second by the sudden shift in hypothetical. “Having sex with an alien is top of my bucket list so if anything I’d like you more.”
“Lena, I’m an alien,” Kara deadpans.
“That’s the most ridiculous chat-up line I’ve ever heard.” And yet it works. It totally and completely works because Lena can’t quiet the voice in her head that says kiss her, decides she doesn’t want to.
She pushes up into Kara’s space, almost teetering onto her toes as she rests her arms on Kara’s shoulders and her lips press against Kara’s faux serious frown. There’s a second where time seems frozen before Kara melts quickly under her touch, before she lets the flames consume her and pushes back with more force than Lena expected.
She literally pushes at Lena’s hips until her back is pressed into the wood of her apartment door, until her feet aren’t properly touching the ground. She pushes with her lips and her chest and Lena follows every movement that she makes. Mirrors her lips and her tongue as she prays none of her neighbours take this moment to leave for errands.
Lena’s heart has hiccups when Kara settles her back into her own space, onto her own feet, presses gentle pecks to the lips she just ravished as she pulls back. Careful fingers settle Lena’s hair back onto her shoulders, push stray tendrils from her face, wipe at both of their lips in some vain attempt to clean away the lipstick that won’t budge that easily.
Lena quite likes the look of herself on Kara’s mouth. Likes the idea that she can’t wipe away this moment so easily. Likes that it’s printed on her lips just as it’s printed on her brain.
“Lunch tomorrow?” Lena simply nods as she whispered question, not trusting her words. Kara nods in response before she darts forward to press one last kiss to searching lips and then throws herself into walking away - hands in her pockets and muttered words under her breath.
Lena goes to sleep that night in daze.
Kara was a whirlwind. She ran in directions that Lena’s mind hadn’t yet mapped but she thinks she might be happy to follow. So fucking happy to follow.
Lena sees it happening before it hits.
There’s a moment where she swears she’s almost watching herself as it occurs - outside of her own body, watching the substance start to sputter and shake and explode.
It happens in an instant and Lena expects heat on her skin. She expects the sharp, startling dose of pain that’s sure to follow the orange burst. She waits for the tight lungs and smoke filled mouth. She braces for the smell of burning, the lurch of her stomach as it threatens to expose her lunch.
None of it comes. Nothing at all except a little warmth and the feeling of arms wrapped tightly around her. Kara’s arms wrapped tightly around her - steady and warm and sturdy. Lena knows it’s Kara before she’s even opened her eyes but that doesn’t stop her from blinking in disbelief when she does open them to survey the damage around them.
There’s a thin layer of frost coating everything. Glass covers the floor and scorch marks line the counters and tiles and equipment but there are no flames to be seen at all. Except the ones that Kara gently pats out with her bare hand as they flicker across her sweater. The same sweater that’s half burned off her skin.
Kara doesn’t seem to notice her state of undress however – too absorbed with checking Lena for injuries and attempting to meet her wide eyes. “Are you okay?”
“You’re a ten,” Lena blurts. “I couldn’t figure out why you were a ten but literally everything was on fire just now and apparently you’re fire retardant and you’re a ten. A ten!”
“I mean thank you, that’s nice to hear I guess? But Lena this really isn’t the time for your weird hotness scale, you could’ve died.” She could’ve died. She probably should have at least been hurt and yet, somehow, they were both absolutely fine.
“That’s not- I mean you are a ten in that sense, which is totally what I’m blaming for this. I could’ve figured this out if you weren’t literally so hot that you melted my brain. But you just seemed so nice and it made no sense and all I could think about is how pretty you are.”
“You’re not making any sense. Did I hit your head when I grabbed you? Oh Rao I hurt you didn’t I?” Rao? Who the fuck was Rao? Why was Kara so pretty?
“No, you didn’t. I see numbers.”
“I hit you so hard that you’re hallucinating!”
“I’ve always seen them,” Lena presses, fighting for her chance to finally get this off her chest. She figured now was as good a time as any. Nothing could be weirder then all this. “They’re like danger identifiers. Imagine a scale of babies at one and trained killers at ten, except I’d never seen anyone above an eight before. That was Lex.
“And then you showed up in the lunch room in that ridiculously cute pastel sweater with a ten above your head and it made no sense. You made no sense. Except you just saved me from an explosion and half the lab is falling apart and there’s not a scratch on you.”
“I told you I’m an alien,” Kara says sheepishly and Lena’s mind flashes back to two nights ago. Her back pressed into her door. Kara’s lips. Her silly questions about head butts and sneezes and aliens. Aliens? This was going to take a minute to get used to.
“I thought you were making a joke about wanting to have sex with me,” Lena half-shouts.
“I would never joke about wanting to have sex with you,” Kara says completely earnestly and Lena feels all the tension leak out of her in a second in a peel of laughter. Her brain shifting from complete disbelief to planning how they’re going to explain this disaster.
“We should probably get you out of that burn sweater before someone notices.” Kara winks as Lena tugs on the frayed fabric. Lena groans. “That wasn’t a come on, I swear.”
“Maybe next time.”
“Got any super speed in that alien arsenal of yours?” Lena jokes. Wouldn’t that be ridiculous?
Kara grins broadly, “Oh I have so much to show you.”
She’s nothing more than a scientist.
A scientist with an incredibly odd ability.
(And an incredibly hot alien girlfriend).