At the shrill sound of Kara’s panicked voice, Lena looked up from the papers on her desk.
“Do keep your voice down, Miss Danvers,” she said irritably. “I hardly think that the whole office needs to hear what we just discussed.”
“What we… Le- Miss Luthor, you just told Cat Grant that we’re engaged! Apparently you’re in some sort of mess with Immigration. Aren’t you American? What on earth is going on?” Kara babbled, her voice rising with each passing word. The look of irritation on Lena’s face deepened as she watched Kara unravel in front of her.
“Miss Danvers!” Lena said, raising her own voice, and the shock of hearing Lena’s normally calm voice ringing through the office stopped her in her criss-crossing the office. “Miss Danvers,” she continued, quieter. “Could you please kindly go and fetch Andrea Rojas and bring her in here. Apparently, she and I have some things we need to discuss.”
Kara gaped at her. “What about me?”
Lena leveled a peeved look at Kara. “What about you?”
Kara found that she had no response to such an insulting question, and she felt her face harden. Lena frowned at her in consternation before she seemed to realise what she’d said, that she’d been rude, but as she opened her mouth to say… what? To apologize? Kara turned on her heel and stalked out of the office.
She stopped by her desk to take a sip of water, and she met Nia’s questioning look and raised hands across the office. Kara glanced down at her laptop and found that the internal instant messenger program on her computer was flashing with rather a lot of messages. When she looked around, she saw everyone was staring at her. Angrily putting the bottle of water back down on her desk with a thump, she strode over to the office where Andrea Rojas was sitting and waiting.
“Miss Rojas? I’m sorry about the wait. The previous meeting,” Kara forced her voice to stay steady, “ran longer than expected.”
Andrea stood up and pulled her purse over her shoulder. “That’s quite alright, it’s not your fault. Please show me to Miss Luthor’s office.”
Without another word, Kara led her back to Lena’s office, opened it for her, and shut it behind her without another word. At this point, she really didn’t care whether she was coming across as either impolite or unprofessional. She sat back down at her desk with a huff and tried to ignore the looks everyone was giving her.
Nia Nal: What the actual fuck Kara? Why were you holding her hand?!?!?!
As she was reading the message from Nia, Maxwell Lord, one of the lower level interns who had a larger than average ego and the smarmiest nature that Kara had ever encountered, walked up to her.
“Her? Really? I guess we know why your salary is so much higher than everyone else’s,” he smirked as he passed, gone before Kara could think of a suitable retort.
She had no clue what to reply to the questioning messages on her computer, and because she had no idea what the situation was with Lena and Immigration, she didn’t feel like she could say anything to anyone anyway. The idea of the federal government being involved in this somehow made Kara’s skin itch and images of herself getting arrested for her involvement in this crossed her mind. She was pretty sure that what Lena had proposed was illegal.
Nobody had proposed at all!
Kara let her head thump down onto the desk. She felt a migraine coming on that had nothing to do with the bourbon and tequila from the night before, and everything to do with her boss in the office behind her.
She sent a message to Nia saying that she would tell her later, and then turned the instant messaging program off altogether. Out of sight, out of mind.
While the meeting between Lena and Andrea went on (and what a doozy Kara thought that must be), Kara busied herself with staring at her laptop screen like a zombie. People passed her desk and asked questions, and she ignored them.
Lena’s calendar was mercifully empty after the meeting with Andrea. Kara desperately needed to talk to Lena again, and as soon as possible. She didn’t know what on earth was going on with Immigration, because as far as she, and as far as anyone knew, Lena Luthor was as American as they got. Well, except for some slips of her accent that slid in every now and again, but her time in boarding school in Ireland was well-documented.
Kara googled her boss, at this point not caring how strange that might be when the woman was sitting not ten meters from her. Nowhere could she find any information about Lena not being American. On the one hand, she was surprised; surely something as basic as that would’ve made the news somewhere? On the other hand, Lena’s privacy about her personal life was clearly something that she put a great amount of time and effort into keeping it just that – private. It was almost as if there was a void when it came to anything about Lena’s life that didn’t have something to do with her work. Kara supposed that whatever nationality Lena was had nothing to do with her work at either L-Corp or CatCo.
An hour went past, during which Kara did absolutely no work except for answering any emails that came through to her. She was on top of everything, and she stared at her game of Solitaire while she moodily ate the last of the saltines that Nia had given her earlier.
When Andrea walked past her out of Lena’s office over an hour after she’d gone in, she closed Solitaire and sat up in her chair. She swung it around and looked behind her. When she caught Lena’s eye, she waited until Lena beckoned to her before she got up and walked into the office, shutting the door again behind her.
“Miss Luthor, I-” she started, but was silenced by Lena holding a finger up to her, before pulling her hand back down and continuing to type something out on her laptop. Kara sat loudly down in the chair opposite Lena’s and huffed out a loud breath. She watched as Lena frowned, before her face cleared again. Kara picked at her nails, the tick-tick-tick of it clearly getting on Lena’s nerves, but still she said nothing to Kara. She felt her anger bubbling.
As whatever Lena was doing passed five minutes, Kara had had enough. In an uncharacteristic moment of forwardness, she stuck her hand out and slammed the lid of Lena’s laptop closed, causing Lena to yank her hands away from the keyboard.
“How dare you?” she exclaimed, pulling the laptop towards her and checking that it wasn’t damaged.
“How dare I? Excuse me, Miss Luthor, but did you, or did you not, just announce to Cat Grant that we were engaged? Presumably, engaged to be married?” Kara burst out, her voice unsteady.
Lena blew out a breath and put her hands on top of the desk, her long fingers linked together. Kara looked at them for a moment, remembering how they had felt in hers, before her eyes snapped up to meet green ones that were simmering with anger.
“Look here, Miss Luthor. I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. I don’t know what Cat Grant was talking about, I don’t know who Andrea Rojas is, and frankly, I don’t care. What I do want to know is why the hell you decided telling them that we were engaged was a good idea and what on Earth I have to do with anything?”
Lena watched her as she spoke, never breaking eye contact. “Are you quite done?”
“No! What does Immigration have to do with anything? I’ve had to sit out there for a whole hour while everyone has been asking me what the hell I’m doing and why I was holding your hand in the meeting earlier. And frankly, I have no answers to give them, because I don’t know myself!” Kara said indignantly.
Lena shot her a withering look. “Is it really that bad that you held my hand, Kara? I didn’t ask you to, after all.”
“Well, no, but-” Kara spluttered.
“In answer to your question of what you have to do with anything? Nothing, really. You were here,” Lena said in a flat voice. “I was in need of someone and you were there, that’s all. It wasn’t more than that.”
Kara felt herself both angry at being used and oddly disappointed by what Lena said, but anger won out. “And what exactly did you need me for anyway?” she asked sharply.
“Calm down, Miss Danvers,” Lena said. “This isn’t like you.”
“Yeah well, neither was holding your hand in the middle of your office, Miss Luthor.”
The sentence seemed to hang in the air between them, and Kara’s anger dissipated somewhat as she looked across at Lena, who looked both ill-tempered and worried. The combination of the two was strange enough to shut Kara up. For a moment, they just gazed at each other, before Lena looked down at her hands.
“I don’t want to talk about this here, Miss Danvers. As you heard Cat Grant say, I need to go to the Immigration office, which is downtown. I’d like you to come with me, if you don’t mind?”
“Fine,” Kara said bluntly. “Are we leaving now?”
Lena stood up and slipped her laptop into its case, before slinging it over her shoulder. While she gathered her coat and her umbrella, Kara went to her desk, shut her laptop down and put it into her own bag, before slipping her coat back on.
They didn’t speak on their way to the elevator, but the incredulous stares that they were sent as they walked over to it were some of the most intrusive and frankly disrespectful that Kara had ever received from her colleagues. She was on friendly terms with all of them in general, but it didn’t feel like that right now. Some of the younger guys were openly leering, and some of the women shot her dirty looks, no doubt thinking that she slept her way to her job. Kara felt herself flush as they walked, and was glad when they reached the elevator.
Lena seemed unbothered by all the attention that was being shown to them, and pressed the call button for the elevator as if nothing was happening. She didn’t turn once to look at any of her employees. Conversely, Kara was shifting from foot to foot under the weight of the scrutinous looks they were getting, and she didn’t think she’d ever been more relieved to hear an elevator ding in all her life.
When they climbed in, Kara stared determinedly at the wall of numbers as Lena pressed the button for the lobby, and breathed a sigh of relief when the doors closed.
“Mm, not here,” Lena said quietly, lifting her chin up gently at the camera in the corner of the lift.
Kara had never thought about the camera before. “Oh, right.”
“We’ll talk when we get to the car,” the brunette said, texting who Kara assumed was her driver before putting her cell phone back in her coat pocket.
Kara followed Lena through the lobby of CatCo and towards a door that she’d never gone through before. Lena swiped a card through a reader and the door opened for them. When they’d walked through, Lena made sure it was closed behind them before she walked down a flight of stairs and through another set of doors at the bottom. They eventually found themselves in an underground car park, which didn’t have many cars in it. Lena headed over to a black town car that was idling in the corner, and the driver climbed out as they approached.
“Miss Luthor, Miss Danvers,” he said, opening a door on each side of the car for them. Kara wondered how he knew her name and figured Lena must’ve mentioned it when she text him.
“Thank you, Michael,” Lena said, as she slid gracefully into her seat. Kara climbed in the other side and shut the door before Michael could do it for her.
Once they were both inside and the car started to move, Lena bent forward and pressed a button that set the privacy divider rolling up towards the ceiling, effectively creating a barrier between them and Michael. Once it was all the way up, Kara twisted in her seat to look at Lena, who was once again tapping on her phone.
Kara watched her for a moment. Lena’s sharp jawline was accentuated by the overhead light and the lack of light coming into the car, thanks to the tinted windows. Her long ponytail was stuck between Lena’s back and the seat, and as she was looking, Lena reached up and pulled it out, running her fingers through it as she set it over her shoulder.
“So,” Kara said, repeating herself from earlier, and this time, Lena didn’t stop her. Instead, she put her cell phone in her pocket again, and turned in her seat to look at Kara. Her face was carefully blank, and Kara wasn’t sure what she was thinking. “Um.”
“This is the second time today you’ve been rather inarticulate,” Lena observed.
Kara’s irritation flared up again. “Hey, I think I’ve been rather restrained given the circumstances!”
“And what are the circumstances?” Lena asked.
“You know what, I really don’t know. Why don’t you tell me so that I can be a bit better prepared for… wherever you’re taking me?”
Lena gave her an impatient look, and Kara squirmed a little under it.
“We’re going to the New York branch office of the USCIS, because we need to speak to an immigration officer, as you know.”
“Okay, but why are we going there, Miss Luthor?”
Lena looked at her a moment longer, before she sighed and looked down into her lap. She pulled on her fingers a little before she looked back up at Kara.
“You might have gathered from today that my application for a continuation of my visa was rejected. I wasn’t supposed to leave the country during the application process, but the Parisian branch of L-Corp was having an issue with one of the pieces of tech that I developed while working in National City. As it was about to go to the investors, it needed to be fixed, and I was the only one who could fix it. The loss of the contract would’ve been catastrophic, financially speaking, so I flew over there and sorted it out. Unfortunately, that put me in breach of my visa application, and it was subsequently rejected,” Lena explained.
Kara listened carefully. “Okay, but what does that have to do with me?”
Lena picked at one of her nails. “They’re going to deport me.”
“Deport you?!” Kara squeaked. What the hell? L-Corp and CatCo without Lena Luthor? Kara couldn’t imagine it, and on some level, she really didn’t want to.
“Yes,” Lena replied, examining her nails before picking at them again. She looked calm, but Kara recognized the actions of someone who felt at least a little nervous.
“Uh, where are they deporting you to?”
“You’re Irish?” Kara asked.
Lena rolled her eyes. “Miss Danvers. I have no intention of letting them deport me to Ireland. I have two businesses to run here, and I don’t doubt that without me overseeing everything, things will fall to pieces.”
“You think an awful lot of yourself, Miss Luthor,” Kara said, before she could stop herself.
Lena allowed herself a tiny smile. “I have confidence in myself, Miss Danvers. There’s a difference between that and an ego.”
“I’m sorry, that was really rude of me.”
“It’s no worse than I’ve heard a thousand times before,” Lena replied, and Kara immediately felt bad, both for her words and for Lena; how horrible it must be to have to read and hear all the insulting things people had said about her. Before she could say anything else though, Lena was speaking again. “Anyway. I was talking with Miss Grant and although I’m not allowed to work for any US company while my… deportation-” she said with another roll of her eyes, “is being prepared for, you walked into the office just as I was searching for a way to stop that happening. And… now that the laws have changed-”
Kara couldn’t believe what she was hearing as the penny truly dropped. “You want me to marry you to stop you from being deported? Le- Miss Luthor, that’s fraud!”
“I’m well-aware of that, Miss Danvers,” Lena said, in a tone of voice that implied that she saw no problem with it.
Kara gaped at her. “You’re asking me, me, to risk my… to risk everything, to help you?”
Lena glanced over at her. “Yes.”
Kara slumped back in her seat. “You’re not serious.”
“I’m afraid I’m deadly serious, Miss Danvers.”
Just as Kara was about to say something else, the car slowed to a stop outside of a building. Kara looked out.
“We’re here,” Lena said, somewhat pointlessly, before reaching for the door handle.
“Wait, Miss Luthor,” Kara said, reaching for her hand and then stopping halfway. Lena rested her hand on the handle, but didn’t open it. It was pulled out of her grip though by Michael, who opened the door anyway.
“Sorry, Michael, could you just give us a moment?” Lena asked, and he nodded. She pulled the door closed, and turned back to Kara. “What is it?”
Kara shook her head wordlessly. “I-” she started. She left her hand resting on the armrest between the seats. This was her last chance to back out before this whole mess got any worse. But the moment passed.
Lena watched her carefully for a moment, and when it became clear that Kara wasn’t going to say anything else, opened the door and climbed out. Kara followed her up the steps and into the building.
They meandered through the maze of the governmental building until they reached a large room where people were sitting around in pairs, some with children, and the hum of many conversations in many different languages drifted through the air. They joined the line of people waiting to be seen at the desk and out of her bag, Lena pulled out a sheaf of documents, which turned out to be the fiancée visa application.
Kara stood quietly by while Lena spoke to the woman issuing the waiting numbers, and soon enough they were sitting in some chairs and waiting for their turn. They obviously couldn’t talk about the situation while they were sitting where they were, and not for the first time, Kara wondered just what the fuck she was doing there at all. She should’ve just refused and walked straight back out of Lena’s office before any of this had gotten as out of hand as it had.
But she hadn’t and here she was, filling in some details on the fiancée visa form while Lena watched her.
“You’re annoyed,” she stated.
“Mmhmm,” Kara confirmed as she ticked a few things on the form.
“Why?” Kara hissed. “Do you really have to ask me that?”
“Call me Kara, for goodness’ sake. It’s going to look really weird if you keep calling me Miss Danvers, Lena,” she snapped.
“Oh, right,” Lena said, looking chastened for the first time. Why Lena hadn’t thought of that herself, Kara had no idea.
They sat in silence while they waited. Kara put her earphones in and played a very annoying game called Slip Away on her cell phone, and she could feel Lena watching her out of the corner of her eye. Eventually, Lena pulled her laptop out of her bag and opened up her work email, before tapping at the keyboard incessantly when it refused to open.
“You’re suspended, remember?” Kara said snippily out of the corner of her mouth. “You’re not going to be able to do any work. Don’t you have a kindle app on there or something you can read a book on while we wait?”
Lena looked at her like she’d grown three heads before she shoved her laptop unceremoniously back in her bag and fished in her pocket for her cell phone. Kara left her to it. Her irritation with Lena seemed to come in waves, and at the moment, her surfboard was high in the water.
An hour passed in complete silence while Kara played her game on her phone, and Lena… looked through business news, as far as Kara could tell whenever she looked over to see what she was doing.
Eventually, Lena looked up suddenly from what she was doing, and she didn’t seem to know how to get Kara’s attention, if her jerky hand movements signified anything. She settled for pushing her gently in the shoulder, and Kara pulled her earphones out. “What?”
“They’ve called us,” Lena said, inclining her head to the corner of the room where a perky-looking blonde stood, beckoning them over.
“Oh, right,” she said, putting her cell and her earphones in her pocket. Just as she was about to beat her high score too.
She followed Lena through the waiting area and over to the blonde.
“Hi ladies, I’m Eve Teschmacher. Please follow me,” and Kara and Lena trailed the woman down another maze of corridors until she reached a small office which was decorated with many paintings of cats, for some reason. Kara sat warily in a chair in front of Eve’s desk, and Lena perched on the edge of the one next to her.
Kara couldn’t help but notice that her palms were sweating, and she wiped them as best as she could on her trousers. She really was having the most unexpected day imaginable. Never in her wildest dreams when she’d woken up this morning, hungover, did she think she’d be sitting in the office of an immigration official in an attempt to convince her that she and her extremely standoffish boss were going to be married. That they loved each other.
Lena handed the paperwork over the desk to Eve when she asked for it, and they both sat there while Eve looked through it all. Kara fidgeted in her seat, and she could tell that Lena wanted to stamp on her foot. She shifted her feet away from Lena. Those Louboutins looked like they’d hurt.
“Okay, well, I’m sorry about the wait you had this afternoon. It’s just been a crazy day here,” Eve said, in as high pitched a voice as Kara expected her to have.
“That’s no problem,” Lena replied in a voice entirely unlike her own. She sounded almost placating, and Kara tried her best not to sound like it was unusual for her to hear Lena speak like that. “I’m just thankful that you could see us on such short notice.”
“Oh yes, that’s quite alright. All the paperwork seems to be in order,” Eve said, flipping the top page back down and setting the visa application down on her desk.
Kara saw Lena relax her rigid posture slightly in the seat next to her.
Across from her, Eve leaned forward in her chair. “I’ve just got one question for you both before we take this any further, okay?”
“Alright,” Lena said in reply.
“Mmhmm,” Kara said, smiling. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Eve smiled too, but it was predatory, and Kara’s stomach dropped. “Are you both committing fraud in order to avoid her deportation back to Ireland, so that she can continue her jobs at both L-Corp and CatCo Magazine?”
“Excuse me?” Lena asked, leaning forward as well.
“What would make you think that?” Kara asked, feeling like her stomach was somewhere in her left shoe.
Eve flipped through the pages of the documents in front of her. “We had a tip-off today from a woman called Siobhan Smythe-”
Lena let out a laugh that Kara recognized as one of her false ones, and hoped that Eve wouldn’t hear it for what it was. “Siobhan Smythe. She’s a former employee who was recently let go. In fact, she caused quite a stir in the CatCo offices today before security removed her from the premises. I’m sure she just holds a grudge and this is her way of spiting me, since I was the reason she was let go.”
Kara huffed out a laugh, causing both Lena and Eve to look over at her. “Yeah, Siobhan really did cause a scene today. I think everyone will be talking about that one for weeks.”
Eve looked back and forth between the two of them, and the look on her face was shrewd.
Lena laughed as well, trying to pass the tension off as laughter at the confrontation in the office earlier. “Yes. She’s a disgruntled former employee who has it out for me. I’m sure that you’ll receive quite a few calls about me over the course of this application, given who my family is, Miss Teschmacher,” Lena added.
“I’m aware of your family, Miss Luthor,” Eve said.
“Good. I hope you understand that all of the calls you receive about me will likely be malicious in nature and I would be grateful if you could take them all with a pinch of salt. If you could let us know what the next steps are for this application, we’ll be out of your hair.”
“I’ll take all of the calls very seriously, Miss Luthor,” Eve replied, and Lena’s smile froze on her face. Despite looking like a kindergarten schoolteacher, Eve was clearly nobody to be trifled with. Her voice turned even more formal. “Because we’ve received this tip-off about you, we will be going a little deeper into your application. Let me explain what the next steps that this will entail. First of all, in about a week’s time, I’ll take you each into a room, individually, and question you about each other. The interview will last at least an hour, the questions will be in-depth, and will be about things that only a genuine partner would know about the other. There is no exact list of questions that you can look up online, so don’t bother to look for one. I’ll give you the list of questions that you might be asked, there are at least a thousand of them, and we can go from there.”
Kara tried her best not to look over at Lena, feeling like if she did, she would give the game away immediately. Her sister Alex was very fond of saying that Kara had no poker face whatsoever, and Kara just knew that Lena would have her professional face on right now.
Instead, she nodded as if none of what Eve was saying was news to her, as if she’d expected this. She had heard of green card interviews, had heard that they were notoriously difficult, but she never thought that she would be subject to one, or, if she was, certainly not under fraudulent circumstances.
“That’s fine,” she said, and was glad that her voice came out as she reached over for Lena’s hand. “I’m sure we’ll do great, right honeybun?”
“You know I hate that name, darling,” Lena said in response, but didn’t resist when Kara’s fingers wrapped around hers.
“Next, I’ll dig into your phone records. I’ll talk to your neighbors, and your colleagues, under oath, and I will ask them about your relationship. Lastly, after the interviews, you will need to submit a folder of documents that prove your relationship. Birthday cards, photos, that sort of thing. I will give you a list of the sorts of documents that you will be required to submit. Does that all sound okay?”
Lena found her voice first. “Yes, that will all be fine, Miss Teschmacher. Thank you very much for explaining this to-”
“If any of the answers don’t match up,” Eve continued as if Lena wasn’t speaking, “you will be deported immediately, and indefinitely.” She pointed at Lena as she said this, and once again, like this morning, Kara was struck by the fact that Lena did not flinch. “You, Kara, will have committed a felony that will be punishable with a $250,000 fine and a stay of five years in federal prison.”
Kara gulped. A quarter of a million dollars? She hadn’t even finished paying off her student loan yet! And she would not last a week in jail. Her mind was suddenly filled with images of the real-life prison shows that she and Alex liked to watch, and she felt sicker now than she had at any point during the day, including the moments where she had had her head in a toilet.
“So, Kara,” Eve continued. “Is there anything that you’d like to say to me? You haven’t committed any crime… yet.”
Kara swallowed. She could feel Lena’s hand in hers, and it was shaking slightly. Lena was nervous, too.
For the first time, though, it struck Kara what she was risking by going along with this harebrained plan of marrying her boss. Not only would she be marrying Lena Luthor, of all people, she would be attempting to do so fraudulently. She would have to lie to her entire family, all her friends, her colleagues, and compromise her job. If she was caught, she’d be in more debt than she would be able to pay back in most of her lifetime, have a criminal record forever, and have to spend five entire years in jail trying not to become someone’s prison wife.
Lena’s hand was heavy in hers. She was risking something too.
But $250,000 and five years in jail? A criminal record? What on earth was worth risking that? The way Eve was looking at her was if she scented victory.
“The truth is,” Kara started, and Lena’s fingers tightened in hers. She felt Lena’s thumb rub softly across the back of her hand, just as Kara did to her earlier, and she felt something inside of her change, somehow. “The truth is, Lena and I… Lena and I are just two people who weren’t meant to fall in love.”
Eve sat back in her chair. Kara chanced a glance over at Lena, who was looking at her with an indecipherable look on her face.
“You see… you see, we couldn’t tell anyone at work because she’s my boss, and because of the promotion and raised I’m going to be getting soon. We didn’t want people thinking that I had got the job just because we’re… you know. I’m sure you know. Well, anyway,” Kara blundered on, the words just coming out any which way, “we thought it would be inappropriate to tell people about us while everything was going through the works, just in case.”
“I see,” Eve said, drawing the word out disbelievingly. “And have you told your parents about your relationship? Your families?”
“My mother and I are practically estranged,” Lena said. “And my brother and I no longer speak. I’m sure you can understand why.”
“Hmm, yes,” Eve said. “And you, Kara?”
“My biological parents are dead,” Kara said, and she felt Lena’s hand suddenly tighten around hers. She hadn’t known that. “My adoptive father has also passed away. We were actually going to visit my adoptive family next week, to tell them about our engagement. My mother and sister are expecting us. It’s the anniversary of my being adopted by the Danvers family; we always celebrate it. We’ll be having visitors, and we’ll be spending the week with them. We thought we’d break the news to them then.”
“Uh huh,” Eve said, sounding no less suspicious. “And where is this big family get together going to be happening?” She directed the question at Lena.
“At Kara’s mother’s house,” Lena replied, looking at Kara.
“And where is that?”
Kara knew that Lena, of course, didn’t have the first clue where Kara was from, or where her family lived. But she was in this now. In for a penny, in for a pound.
“Midvale, Alaska,” she jumped in with. “Lena’s never been up there. My family prefer to travel over to New York, they like the history of the east coast. My sister’s applying for work here, so she’s been visiting more often. We thought we’d head up there for a change. We’ve both been so busy lately, it’ll be a nice change of pace.”
“I can’t wait, to be honest,” Lena embellished. “I haven’t taken a proper holiday in a long time. Running two Fortune 500 companies does tend to take it out of you.”
Eve looked between them both again, before her eyes settled on their clasped hands.
“Okay. This is how it’s going to go. I want to see you both back here at 11am, a week from Monday, and we will be doing your individual interviews then. Please take these documents with you on your trip,” she passed up two large heavy binders over the table to them, “and study them carefully so that you know what to expect. If I hear anything suspicious from anyone else, I have nothing against travelling to Alaska to discuss my concerns with you personally. I’ll see you both soon.”
“Thank you for your time, Miss Teschmacher,” Kara managed, before picking up both of the binders chivalrously and leading Lena out of the door with one hand at her lower back.
They walked like that through the government building, the air between them crackling with tension, until they were out on the street again and Kara let her hand drop from Lena’s back. They walked silently towards the car, and Michael opened the doors for them again. They both slid into their respective seats, the ominous white binders sitting on top of the armrest between them.
Lena provided Michael with Kara’s home address, which she evidently remembered from the fiancé visa application, and he started to drive. For the first few minutes, Kara sat and stared out of the window, too full of thoughts to voice any of them. If she was honest with herself, she felt like she was so full of pent-up energy that she could rocket through the roof of the town car and have enough energy left to get home.
There was complete silence from Lena’s seat, and she heard the brunette pull her cell phone out yet again. Kara wondered furiously to herself whether there was there ever a time when she wasn’t on her phone. She stared at New York as it passed, then the blackness of the tunnel under the river, and finally the familiar streets of home. She felt her anger simmering inside of herself, but some part of her felt hysterical as well.
The divider between themselves and Michael was still up, thankfully, because the second she finally turned to look at Lena, she knew the expression on her face was thunderous.
“A quarter of a million dollars? Jail time? A criminal record for the rest of my life?” she exploded as quietly as she could so as not to alert Michael.
“Okay, I know it’s a small favor to ask-”
“A small favor?! Lena! It’s…” she scrubbed her face with her hands. “Do you even hear yourself? Do you know what it is I’m risking for you? It’s… what would my sister say, shit- she’s a cop!” Kara burst out through her fingers. “This is the easily the most insane thing I’ve ever done and that includes trying to fly off the roof of my house when I was a teenager.”
“It’ll be fine, Miss Danvers…” Lena looked over at her. “Kara. We’ll-”
Kara interrupted her. “We’re here. You’re coming upstairs,” she stated in a voice that brooked no argument. Lena opened her mouth as if to say something, but shut it, and to Kara’s surprise, opened the door and stepped out of the car. She followed Kara to the street door, up the stairs, and through her front door into her apartment. Kara swallowed the comment she was going to make about how Lena looked, standing in her living room that had never seen the red sole of a Louboutin shoe and pulling anxiously on her fingers.
Usually, when someone visited Kara’s place, the first thing they did was look around, because it was so unusual. But Lena didn’t move from her spot on the bare floorboards. She just looked at Kara, her expression almost bored.
“You’re about as bothered about breaking the law as you are about whether your pen has blue or black ink,” Kara seethed. “Do you even care what you’re about to put me through? Did you even think about it? God, I’m going to have to lie to my entire family and tell them I’m in love with you and want to marry you, when I’ve never… ugh.”
“What, were you saving marriage for someone special?” Lena broke in with a scoff.
“Not that I think you care, but actually, yes. When I got married I wanted to do it only once, for it to be for love, not for it to be a fucking sham marriage where I’m risking jail.”
Lena crossed her arms over her chest. “Kara. Everything will be fine. We’ll get married, you can divorce me after however long is legally necessary, you’ll get the job you want-”
“And I want a raise too,” Kara said flatly. “Or some kind of settlement. And I don’t want an argument about it. If I’m going to fucking jail I’m going to need a bit more money so I can pay off the $250,000 fine I’m going to get saddled with.”
Lena looked at her in exasperation. “You’re not going to jail.”
“How do you know that? You don’t know how this is going to go. You don’t know anything about me at all. I know so much random stuff about you, Lena Kieran Luthor, but you don’t know a goddamn thing about me, excuse my language. No, in fact, don’t excuse it. I’m so fucking mad right now. I must be insane. I don’t know what the hell’s got into me to make me agree to do this with you. To be your wife- what the hell was I thinking?! I’m so angry right now and I don’t care how brilliant you are, this is one test you can’t fake because it involves knowing a whole lot about another person and to be honest, I’ve never seen you take an interest in a single person. I don’t think I’ve seen you notice other people at all since I’ve been working for you.”
Kara ran out of steam, and Lena was staring at her. There was an odd expression on her face which, if she were anyone other than Lena Luthor, she would have said was hurt. Kara had a horrible feeling like she’d just struck a nerve of Lena’s somehow, although she wasn’t sure exactly which part of her tirade had done that. Right now, she wasn’t sure she cared much, either.
The enormity of what she’d agreed to crashed down on her and she sat down on her sofa, dropping her head into her hands and trying her best to breathe deeply.
She had actually told a government official that she was going to be marrying Lena Luthor. That the marriage was genuine.
She dug her hands into her hair and tightened her fists in it.
“Lena,” she said, speaking to the floor.
“Yes?” came Lena’s low voice, considerably closer than it had been a few minutes. She glanced up to find Lena standing almost next to her, before she looked back down at the floor.
“You have a private jet, am I right?”
“Yes,” Lena confirmed.
“We’re going to Midvale tomorrow. We have to meet my family. Just… please, pack something more casual than what you have on right now. It’s not the kind of place where Diane von Furstenberg would fit in, okay?”
There was a short silence. “Okay,” Lena replied. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning. I’ll make the arrangements and pick you up at 6am.”
Kara didn’t reply, even at the mention of the horrifically early hour.
The next thing she heard were Lena’s footsteps towards the door, before Lena’s voice came again. This time it was soft, like it had been in her office.
“I’m… I’m sorry about your parents, Kara.”
The door opened and closed, and Lena’s heels hit the creaky wooden steps on her way out of the building. The sound echoed in the old hallway, and Kara listened as Lena made her way out of the street door and onto the street.
She was going to marry Lena Luthor.