Underneath the pungent odor of airplane fuel, Kara could smell the clean, fresh scent of home. She looked out across the tiny airport and the Midvale Sound stretched out, filling her view with only water and islands. Turning on her heel, in the other direction she could see Midvale, sitting on the shore, boats bobbing in the water in the harbor. Despite the circumstances that brought her here, she was thrilled to be home, and she resisted the urge to jump up and down to release the adrenaline.
She couldn’t wait to see Alex in particular, despite their tense phone call. Alex had been planning to move to New York for a long time, and had finally sent her application to the NYPD, but that had only been a few days ago. The thought of having her sister nearby after these past years without her was something Kara was seriously looking forward to. She missed Alex a great deal, and images of sister and movie nights flashed through her mind.
If she wasn’t in jail. And if Alex was still talking to her after their phone call the night before.
Abruptly, she was brought back to earth. The bump as she landed threatened to pop her sudden good mood and she looked over her shoulder at the plane where the pilot was busy unloading their-
Kara pushed her sunglasses up onto the top of her head and set her hands on her hips, staring in dumbfounded shock at the sight that greeted her.
There was luggage, and then there was Lena’s luggage.
Kara’s lone suitcase was off to the side already. As she watched, the pilot was taking a third large, magenta suitcase out of the hold while Lena supervised as if they were made of glass. The suitcases were exactly the same vibrant shade as her shirt.
“Lena? These… these aren’t all coming with us, are they?” Kara asked uncertainly, hoping against hope that she was seeing things.
Lena turned to face her, dark Ray-Bans hiding her green eyes from the bright sun. Kara could still see the frown on her features, though. “Of course they are, Kara,” she said. “I need all of them.”
Kara pinched the bridge of her nose. “Didn’t I- correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t I say that you needed not to stick out here?”
“No,” Lena said flatly, turning back to inspect her luggage. “You told me that I needed to pack more casual clothes, which I did. I didn’t know anything about… where we are, so I had to pack a variety of things.”
“Right,” Kara said, drawing the word out and rolling her eyes. “You couldn’t have googled Midvale? You- you know what, never mind. I’m going to call us an Uber.”
She fished her cell phone out of her pocket and swiped through until she found the app and ordered the car. She paid for it, stabbing at the screen with her finger, then shoved her phone back in her pocket before strolling over to get her suitcase.
The Uber was going to take at least half an hour and, even though the airport wasn’t exactly a busy one, standing near the plane was rather pointless and dangerous. “We’re going to have to move away from here,” Kara said, thanking the pilot for their flight as she passed him. She grabbed the handle of her suitcase and dragged it away from the plane and towards the small building that counted as the small airport’s terminal.
Besides, they might have snacks in the terminal. Lena’s plane might’ve had quite a lot of food on it, but since Kara slept for the majority of the flight, she hadn’t eaten anything except two donuts, a packet of chips, and a Mars bar since the night before. She was hungry.
When she got into the building, she waved at J’onn J’onzz, who had been the lone security guard at the airport for as long as Kara could remember. He was well-trusted by the Danvers family after having brought Alex home after one too many drunken nights. He was good friends with Eliza, and he and his wife M’gann were regular guests at the Danvers household.
“Hello again Kara,” he said happily, giving her a hug, his deep voice resonating in her ears. “It’s been a while!”
“Hey J’onn! I hope you’ve been keeping everyone in line since I was last here,” she said, squeezing him back before she let go.
“Always, always,” he said with a jovial laugh. “What are you doing back here?”
“We’re here for my adoption anniversary!” Kara exclaimed as she slapped him gently on the arm. “Don’t tell me you’re not going to be at the party next week?”
“I’ll be there,” he said, and then looked over her shoulder. “Did you arrive in that private jet?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I flew up with, uh…” she trailed off, not having given much thought to how she was supposed to start talking about Lena to people she knew. How on earth hadn’t they figured this part out yet? They hadn’t talked about it at all.
J’onn shifted his gaze back to her when she didn’t finish her sentence, before giving her a wide grin. “Ah ha! You flew up with… her,” he said, nodding his head in Lena’s direction. There was a pause, and then, “looks like she could do with some help.”
Kara turned around and struggled to keep herself from laughing. Lena had her three large wheeled suitcases, plus the large laptop bag she’d had on the plane. She’d put her long black pea coat on, and slung her laptop bag across herself, but it was very obvious that she’d never had to wheel more than one suitcase herself before. She had one in one hand, and two in the other, but one of them kept knocking the other over before she’d walked two steps.
Kara’s initial impulse was to go and offer her help, but she stopped herself. Working out how to pull suitcases might do Lena some good, and besides, Kara was enjoying herself watching.
“I’m sure she’s just fine, J’onn,” she said with a smirk.
Kara folded her arms over her chest and watched as Lena struggled across the tarmac. As another of Lena’s suitcases fell over, Kara wondered idly whether Lena was the type of person to curse a lot. Lena was very well-spoken and eloquent, but Kara had to wonder whether there were a few choice words being thrown at the drunken suitcases right now.
Lena looked up at her and saw Kara grinning at her, and she stopped, standing up straight. She was close enough that Kara could tell she was frustrated; her lips were pursed and her jaw was working.
“How are you doing over there, Lena?” Kara called.
“Are you going to help me or are you just going to stand there and watch me?” Lena groused.
“Aw, and you looked like you were doing so well on your own. Are you sure you don’t want to just keep going and see if you can make the finish line?” Kara said, perching on her own suitcase and laughing when Lena sharply tilted her head in her direction. If she could’ve seen her eyes behind her sunglasses, she just knew that she would’ve been giving her a look to kill.
“Lena? As in, Lena Luthor?” J’onn said, not loudly enough for the woman in question to hear.
“Yup,” Kara replied, carefully not looking at J’onn.
J’onn was silent for a moment. They both watched as Lena renewed her struggle towards the terminal, trying to balance one of the bags on top of the other before it toppled off and hit the floor as it overbalanced.
“That explains why you’re not helping her with her bags,” he said in a somewhat sage manner.
They passed a few more moments in silence before, finally, Kara sighed. “I should go and help her out really, shouldn’t I?”
“Just think of what your mother would say if you didn’t,” he said with a knowing smile.
“I hate it when you’re right, you know,” she replied with a grin on her own face.
“Is that so? Personally, I love it,” he laughed.
She dropped her backpack on top of her own suitcase and walked back out of the terminal towards her frustrated boss.
As she reached her, Lena pushed her own sunglasses back up her nose as they threatened to fall off.
“Hi,” Lena huffed at her as she tried to balance her bags, before beginning to walk again. “Have you come to gloat at me some more?”
“It was funny,” Kara shrugged. She watched as Lena’s bag toppled once again. When it hit the ground once more, Lena took a deep breath, put her hands on her hips, and stared at it. At least, Kara thought she did.
“Why don’t you take those glasses off to make things a bit easier? One less thing to worry about?”
Lena’s voice was condescending. “I’m not sure whether or not it escaped your notice, but my eyes are green, Kara, and it’s very bright out here. You’ve got blue eyes; surely you’ve noticed that pale eyes are more sensitive to the sun?”
“Um, yes” Kara said. She wasn’t about to admit it, but she had certainly noticed Lena’s exquisite green eyes on more than one occasion. She cleared her throat. “Let me help you with your bags.”
“Don’t bother. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of the fun you’ve been having,” Lena snapped, pulling her upturned bag upright.
And, okay, perhaps Kara deserved that one. She stepped in front of Lena when the brunette tried to move of again.
“Hey,” she said, putting her hand on Lena’s upper arm to stop her. Lena did stop, before looking down at the hand on her arm and back up at Kara. She snatched her hand away immediately, as if Lena’s arm had burnt her skin. Clearly the closeness they’d developed on the plane was temporary.
“Oh! I, uh, I wanted to…” she trailed off, not quite sure how to say what she wanted to. She looked at Lena, who was standing there with the sun shining on her. She had rarely seen Lena outside of the office, and even when she had, it was inside a car or in another building, never just outside. The sunlight brought out the color in her dark hair, which Kara was only now noticing held various shades of mahogany, rather than just simply being brown. Her mind tossed her an image of Lena walking in the woods, sunlight breaking through the trees and making her loose, natural hair shine-
“Whenever you’re ready, Miss Danvers,” Lena said sarcastically.
The formal use of her name snapped Kara out of her reverie. “Oh, I- I wanted- before we go inside, I just realized that we haven’t really talked about how I’m going to introduce you to people. And starting very soon, we’re going to be meeting some people who know me and who are going to want to know who you are… to me.”
Perhaps realizing that this was a conversation which needed to be had when they could both see each other properly, Lena sighed and took her Ray-Bans off. She hooked them into the waistband of her pants, and raised a hand to shield her eyes from the sun.
Lena leaned slightly on the extended handle of one of her suitcases. “I see. And who am I to you?” she asked.
Kara felt her breath catch in her throat. What a loaded question. A loaded question that had many answers. Lena was her boss, and she was a beautiful woman that might, sometimes, make Kara’s heart beat faster when she’s nearby. But also, Lena is her pretend fiancée, who she’s going to have to enter into a fake marriage with. Lena is sometimes a thorn in Kara’s side. But Lena was also a person who was afraid of flying, who was witty, and who had a rotten family.
The truth was that Kara had no idea how to answer the question, and so she answered it without really answering it, with a question of her own.
“Are you deliberately being difficult?”
Lena narrowed her eyes slightly. “No.”
Kara sighed. “Anyway, I thought, before we go in there and we meet someone that I know, we should just quickly sort out what we should say to people. Because of… the situation. I mean, if even I didn’t know I was engaged to you until yesterday, how is anyone up here going to know that? And, well, I… I’ve, uh, I’ve talked about you to people here,” she admitted, fiddling with her glasses.
Lena gave her a penetrating look. “It’s probably important for me to know what sort of reception I’m going to get so that I’m not taken off-guard and make our situation… obvious. Could you please let me know whatever you’ve said about me?” Her tone of voice was one Kara had overheard sometimes when Lena was dealing with condescending businessmen; it sounded like the vocal equivalent of shoulders up, back straight, eyebrow raised, with an edge in it like she was bracing for bad news.
“Well I’ve never been rude or anything, or at least I don’t think so, but… I don’t like talking rudely about people even when they’ve… well, anyway. I haven’t been able to come home as often as I’d like to because of work and you… declining my vacation requests. They know about your family. And I may have said that you’re not exactly… personable, at work. And I may have made some comments about you being, you know, quite… aloof, or standoffish,” Kara said, deciding to be as honest as possible. “They probably think that you’re some kind of Luthor ice queen…” Kara said, the shame of having to admit this to Lena burning through her.
A beat passed between them. “I see,” Lena said quietly. “I can’t say I’m surprised.”
They stood there in silence for a moment, Kara feeling the tension as the awkwardness rose between them.
“No, it’s-” Lena started, looking down at the ground for a moment before she fiddled with the handle of her luggage. She seemed not to know what to say in response, and that disturbed Kara. Surely, Lena had heard much of the same before? Siobhan had said much worse the day before, after all. And… she was aloof; she made a real point of it. Whether it was part of her natural personality or a choice she’d made for work purposes, she was aloof. Surely stating it can’t have come as a surprise.
Lena straightened her shoulders. “Are we about to meet any members of your family?”
“Not until we get to their house,” Kara replied.
“Then, let’s save the… engagement part for them, just so that they hear it from you rather than someone we meet on the way,” she said, putting her sunglasses back on. “If someone before that asks, we can tell them that I proposed to you, and made a mess of it,” Lena stated. “It’ll make me seem a little more approachable. For right now, let’s just say we’re seeing each other, and that it’s serious. We’ll work out the details later but we’ve been together for two years and engaged for two weeks. I suppose we can… hold hands,” she said slowly, looking up at Kara. “Would that be alright?”
Kara gave her a small smile. “I told Alex it was a year and a half, if that’s okay. Well, I guess it’s too late now. And I’m usually a little more tactile than that.”
“It’s been a long time since I… well, I’ll try not to flinch if you hug me or something,” Lena said, trying for a smile and not quite managing it. Kara could feel her discomfort radiating off of her, and rushed to reassure her.
“Wherever possible, I’ll let you know before I’m about to do something, okay? And, we can talk about all of this sort of stuff later. For better or for worse, Lena Luthor, we’re partners in this… situation, and I’ll never do anything that makes you uncomfortable, as far as I’m able. But for right now, I’m going to lift your sunglasses up onto your head, okay? And then kiss you on the cheek and laugh as if you said something funny. You can glare at me, if you want. It’s just the security guard in there is someone I’ve known since I first moved here and he’ll find it weird that we’re just standing here talking instead of going inside.”
“Okay,” Lena said. “I’m just… not used to physical contact anymore,” she admitted.
“Thank you for telling me,” Kara said, and she was. Respect for someone’s boundaries was something that was very important to her. She wished that she’d known before she’d touched Lena’s hands and wrists on the plane, but Lena had been under a great deal of stress at the time. Going forward, she’d keep it in mind.
She stepped in front of Lena, making sure to not block her from view of the terminal, and slowly reached up until she could pull Lena’s sunglasses off. She had a slight height advantage now that Lena wasn’t wearing her usual towering heels, and as she set Lena’s glasses on top of her head, Lena gazed up at her.
Even squinting slightly in the sun, Lena’s eyes were… Kara didn’t think she’d ever seen any that were more beautiful. Standing this close to Lena, they reminded her of galaxies with different colors swirling through them, and she wondered how long it would take her to mix paints to find the same colors she saw now. This close, one of Lena’s eyes seemed slightly greener than the other, and it made Kara smile.
This was the closest that Kara had ever intentionally stood to her boss, and the air around them seemed thicker all of a sudden. She could see slight freckles underneath Lena’s makeup, and the thought of Lena’s bare skin caused Kara to flush slightly. She had to fight the urge to rest her hand on Lena’s face.
“Kara,” Lena murmured, after Kara was still for a moment too long.
“Sorry,” Kara whispered. “It’s just- you just have… really lovely eyes, Lena,” she said with a smile.
“I grew them myself,” Lena quipped, and Kara couldn’t help it. She burst out laughing, a genuine laugh, not the fake one she’d been expecting to give. Lena’s eyebrows rose in mirth and she let out a low chuckle as well. The sound of it made Kara’s stomach clench; she didn’t think she’d ever heard Lena laugh before. She found she liked the sound of it very much, and wondered if she could find a way to make the usually stoic brunette laugh again. She leaned forward and kissed Lena on the cheek, before stepping back again.
She grabbed hold of two of Lena’s suitcases and pulled them towards the terminal, Lena following closely behind her with just the one. They weren’t very far away, and soon enough, they were walking through the door and out of the direct glare of the sun. Lena looked relieved.
“Hey J’onn! Come and meet Lena,” she called.
“I’m pleased to meet you,” he said when he reached them, holding his big hand out towards Lena, who took it.
“Likewise,” Lena replied, and Kara recognized the professional smile she was using. “It’s nice to finally be up here.”
Kara slipped her hand into Lena’s, and watched as J’onn’s eyes widened slightly as he noticed.
“Kara?” he asked, not without a small amount of confusion laced through his tone.
“I’m finally bringing her up here to meet the family,” Kara said quickly. “We’ve… we’ve-”
“I can’t wait to meet everyone, darling,” Lena said, rescuing her. “I’m afraid that my work’s kept me in New York until now but we’ve been planning this trip for a while and I’m so pleased we’re finally here!” Lena made a show of looking at Kara. “This is going to be so much fun!”
“It definitely is,” Kara replied, looking back at Lena and grinning. “You don’t have much longer to wait. Our Uber should be here in a little bit. I might get some snacks. J’onn, are the machines working today?”
J’onn seemed to have got over his shock. “Certainly are!” he said, “and they’ve got your favorites.”
“I doubt that, unless they’re started selling hot Chinese takeout,” Kara laughed. “As long as they’ve got Kit Kats, though. Come on Lena, let’s get some snacks. I bet you’re as hungry as I am!” And with that, they left their luggage and Kara dragged Lena over to the vending machines. “Do you have some change?”
Lena looked incredulously at her. “You’ve known me for three years, Kara. Do I look like I carry change?”
“Oh,” Kara said. Duh, of course Lena wouldn’t have change. She probably slept on a bed made of hundred-dollar bills. “Well, I think I might have some somewhere,” and she dug around in her pockets until she pulled out some old coins. She fed them into the machine. “What would you like?”
“Nothing, thank you. I’ll get room service at the hotel,” Lena replied, examining what was in the machine with distaste.
“Hotel?” Kara asked blankly, pressing A3 and watching as the machine dispensed the Kit Kat.
“Of course,” Lena said, looking at Kara and raising an eyebrow. “I’ve booked us a deluxe suite at the Aspen.”
“Lena we’re- we’re staying with my family!” she exclaimed.
“Oh, you didn’t tell me. I just assumed we were staying at a hotel. I always stay at hotels,” Lena added, frowning.
“Yeah but Lena… it’ll look really weird if we come all the way here and then stay at a hotel. Like, really weird,” Kara said. “People will talk.”
“They’ll be talking anyway, since you’ve shown up with a fiancée who happens to be a woman you’ve only ever mentioned negatively,” Lena said waspily with a roll of her eyes. When Kara opened her mouth to reply, Lena held up a hand. “It’s fine, Kara. I’ll cancel the reservation.”
“Thank you,” Kara said, relieved that they wouldn’t have to argue about this. “Come on, let’s go and sit down.”
Kara found Lena a seat and pulled all the luggage over to her. She sat in the seat next to her and leaned back, eating her Kit Kat. Lena was on some booking website, cancelling their booking. She couldn’t believe Lena had actually thought they were going to be staying in a hotel. Although, she supposed, she had never told her how large her family’s house was, and so Lena couldn’t really be blamed.
Kara’s mood was a little sour, but she forced it away from her face. It wouldn’t do to have anyone wondering why her face looked like thunder on the day when she was meant to be introducing her fiancée to her family for the first time.
Well, she supposed that would be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, but this was a little worse than a normal situation. Kara hadn’t brought a partner home to meet the family since long before she’d moved to New York. And that had at least been a real relationship. This was nothing even close to that.
Lena would never look at her in a thousand years, even when they were married. And then they’d divorce, and Kara would work as a journalist and never really have to interact much with Lena again. And this whole sorry mess would be swept under the carpet, only to be brought up if and when Kara ever married anyone else.
Kara didn’t have to wonder too much why that thought made her sad, but she’d have to get her silly little crush on Lena under lock and key if this whole thing was going to work.
Just then, her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out to see a message from Uber saying their ride was two minutes away, and provided the number plate. She looked at it until she was sure she knew it, and then shoved her phone back in her pocket.
“Hey Lena?” she said as she stretched languidly. Lena snapped her eyes up to her face, her cheeks slightly pink, which made Kara wonder what she had been looking at before. “Our Uber is almost here. We should probably head out onto the street so we can look out for it.”
“Alright,” Lena said, slipping her own phone back in her pocket and standing up. She tipped her head from side to side with her eyes closed, as if trying to work out a kink. It made her sharp jawline stand out even more.
Kara grabbed her suitcase and swung her backpack up onto her shoulders, before walking towards the door. She turned around to see Lena holding onto one suitcase handle in each hand and looking at the third suitcase like it had personally offended her. She looked up and caught Kara’s eye.
“Come on, Lena. Time waits for no woman!” Kara said.
Lena shot her an exasperated look.
“Only kidding,” Kara said, walking over to her and taking hold of Lena’s third suitcase, throwing her a wink. “I bet you can’t wait to get rid of these.”
Together they walked out of the terminal and Kara cast her eyes around for the Uber. It was parked across the street. She pointed it out to Lena, and they crossed over, listening to the wheels roll across the road. As they got closer to the car, the driver climbed out and leaned over the top of the car.
To her surprise, the driver let out a wolf whistle. Lena looked as offended as Kara had ever seen her, and she mentally braced herself to hear one of Lena’s snappy put downs. Before she could say anything though, the driver rounded the hood.
“Looking good there, little Danvers,” she called out.
Kara let go of both of the suitcase handles as she reached the car and threw herself into the woman’s arms with a squeal. “Maggie! I had no idea you were driving Ubers these days! It’s so good to see you. It’s been so long!” She hugged Maggie tightly before letting go and turning to Lena, who was looking a little bemused.
“Lena! This is Maggie Sawyer. Deputy Sheriff, still?” she asked, pointing at Maggie, who nodded. “Yep. Deputy Sheriff Sawyer. She was Alex’s girlfriend all through high school and for a while after, but now they’re just best friends.”
“That’s right,” Maggie said, giving Lena a dimpled smile. They appraised each other for a moment before Maggie gave Lena a blatant once-over. “And who might you be?”
“Maggie,” Kara said with a laugh when Lena looked like she didn’t know what to do. She was willing to bet that in the boardroom, Lena would’ve torn Maggie a new one. Faced with her on the street, though, someone who Kara obviously knew well, she didn’t want to overstep the mark. “Maggie, this is Lena Luthor.”
“Your boss?” Maggie let out a low whistle. “Alex called me last night you know. She totally spilt the beans.” Kara caught the hint of reproach in her voice, and was grateful when Maggie didn’t pursue it any further. “Kara Danvers and her boss! Didn’t know you had it in you!”
Kara blushed a deep red and chanced a look at Lena, who now just looked amused, and a little like she was working something out. Lena raised an eyebrow suddenly, and Kara knew she’d pegged Maggie’s sense of humor.
“Lena Luthor,” she said, finally letting go of her suitcase and reaching her hand towards Maggie. “I didn’t know that Kara had it in her either. I… oh, I’m not sure how much of this story I should tell,” Lena said, making a show of looking at Kara for permission. Kara didn’t have a clue what Lena was going to say, so waved her hand as if to tell her to go ahead, hoping it wouldn’t be anything too awful. “I dropped so many hints and she never picked up on a single one of them. Finally, I gave up because I thought she wasn’t interested. Then, I asked her to stay behind one day and did… let’s say Sharon Stone would be proud.”
Kara flushed even deeper at the image that flashed (oh no! Bad brain, Kara!) across her mind. Maggie clapped her hands together and laughed as if all her Christmas presents had come early. “Oh, I like this one, little Danvers. I hope we get to see more of each other. Don’t worry Kara, not that way!” Maggie added when she caught the look on Kara’s face. She wasn’t even sure what face she had made. She figured it must have looked appropriately protective. Or possessive. Either way, Kara thought, the optics were clearly right.
“It was only supposed to be a one-night thing. I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to get more, so I wasn’t expecting anything after from it because, in all fairness, who would want to date a Luthor? But she kept coming back, and I fell in love with her heart. And a year and a half later, here we are.” Lena put her hand on the small of Kara’s back before looking up and giving her a gentle smile, one that Kara had never seen on Lena before. It softened her whole face and deepened her dimples, and Kara felt something warm swoop through her stomach at the sight of it. It was a shame, Kara thought, that Lena didn’t smile like that more often. It was so different to her normal stern countenance that she couldn’t help but smile back at her.
She hadn’t realized that Lena was such a good actress. Kara could almost believe that Lena really did love her when she smiled like that.
“Aw, you two,” Maggie said quietly, looking back and forth between them. “You’ve got identical goofy smiles when you look at each other. You make a cute couple. Right! Am I taking you both to Streaky?”
Kara cleared her throat hastily, tearing her eyes away from Lena, who was still gazing softly at her. “Uhh yes please Maggie. We’ve got enough luggage for a small army – will it all fit in the car?” Kara asked, gesturing at the car.
“Oh sure, but one of the bigger ones will need to go in the back,” Maggie replied as she sized the suitcases up. She popped the trunk and between them, Kara and Maggie fit two of Lena’s giant suitcases into it, as well as Kara’s smaller one. The third suitcase went onto the back seat with Lena, who insisted on sitting in the back. Kara climbed into the front with Maggie.
“So how long have you been doing this for?” Kara asked as Maggie pulled out into traffic.
“About a year or so. Midvale’s quite a small town, you know? Not that much crime. Alex has it down most of the time, and I’m on call for when it’s quiet. We have about five other officers who take shifts, but on my off days, I do this. It’s kinda nice to be behind the wheel sometimes. You know your sister! She always has to be in control of everything,” Maggie said with a laugh, no bite in her words whatsoever.
Kara remembered the days when Alex and Maggie were newly broken up. It really had seemed like Alex’s world had imploded. She and Maggie had been together for seven years, and although they’d been engaged, they’d never got married. They’d split over the fact that Alex wanted to have children someday, and Maggie didn’t. Neither of them felt the right course would be to force the other into a life that they didn’t want, and so the breakup had been mutual. Even though it had been amicable, though, it didn’t mean there was an absence of heartbreak. They had loved each other deeply and Kara had held Alex as she’d cried herself to sleep each night for a very long month.
Somehow, slowly, they’d made their way back to each other as friends. Eventually, they reached the stage where they could joke about things that had happened in their relationship and rib each other lightly about people that they each dated. They loved each other now in a different way, purely and unselfishly, and they hung out all the time. Kara knew that Maggie was there for Alex when Kara couldn’t be, and she would forever be grateful for the sarcastic deputy sheriff sitting next to her.
“So, are you going to tell me any more about you two? Alex was a little vague on the details,” Maggie asked as they waited at some traffic lights. Kara caught the side-eye Maggie gave her out of the corner of her eye and sighed.
“A year and a half,” she said, aware of the fact that she and Lena still hadn’t brainstormed their story any further than the time that they’d been together.
“We couldn’t tell anyone at work because we were afraid that people might think I was showing Kara favoritism or… preferential treatment when it comes to the raise she’s about to be getting,” Lena piped up from the back seat, much to Kara’s surprise. She felt Lena’s hand slip over her shoulder, so she reached up and squeezed it. “And actually, her not telling anyone was kind of my fault,” she added.
“Lena,” Kara started.
“No, it’s okay. She wanted to tell people and I asked her to keep this private because I… well, to be honest it was extremely selfish of me to want to be with Kara at all. I’m very private, and my last name doesn’t exactly inspire romance. Given who my family is and what my jobs are like, I’m surprised that Kara responded at all…” Lena trailed off in a self-deprecating manner that Kara suspected wasn’t entirely fake.
“Busy lives, mad family, I can see how you’d feel that way,” Maggie said sympathetically.
“I’m not exactly a catch, all things considered. But Kara took a chance on me and honestly I’ve never been so happy. But I really don’t want to hide this any longer. Kara is wonderful and I should be proud to show her off, not hiding her in a closet, right?”
Kara squeezed Lena’s hand again.
“Yeah for sure,” Maggie replied. “I’m glad you’re happy, both of you,” she said as she turned the corner towards the harbor, pulling up as closely as she could to the boats. “Here we are, ladies!”
“Here we…” Lena trailed off, and Kara watched her look out of the window in confusion at the boats bobbing in the water when she’d clearly been expecting a house.
“Yep, here we are,” she said, hopping out of the car and opening the door for Lena to climb out as well. As she did so, her brow was furrowed as she looked around.
“Yes?” Kara replied, as she helped Maggie pull all of their luggage out of the car and line them up on the sidewalk.
“Why are we at a harbor?”
“Oh!” Kara exclaimed. “Did I not explain? My family doesn’t live in Midvale itself. We live out on the west side of the Kasiana Islands. The only way to get there is by boat,” she said, as she pulled the last of Lena’s suitcases out of the trunk and setting it down heavily. “Damn, Lena, what have you got in here? Bricks? …Lena?” she added, when there was no response from the brunette at all.
Kara glanced over at Lena, who was looking out across the water with a curiously blank expression on her face. What gave Kara pause was that it wasn’t Lena’s normal kind of professionally blank look; her face was so devoid of emotion that there was no possible way to tell what she was thinking.
The sound of Maggie speaking drew her attention away from her boss and back into the present. She cast one more concerned look at Lena before she gave Maggie a hug.
“I’m sure we’ll be seeing you very soon,” Kara said, grinning as she felt her ribs being squeezed. Maggie was never one to hold back.
“Absolutely! I’ll be over tonight actually. Alex is bringing me over later when she’s finished with work. We’re having a big old family meal. Eliza’s already home cooking it.”
“Oooh, home cooking. It’ll be nice not to subsist on pizza and potstickers for the next week!”
Maggie laughed and gave her one last hug. “Oh Kara, we all know you would subsist entirely on pizza and potstickers forever if you could. See you later, Lena,” she called over.
Lena seemed to startle, and she walked back over to Maggie. “Did I hear you say you’re coming over later? Sorry, I was just admiring all the boats.”
“Yep, I’ll see you then,” Maggie said with a smile. Lena stuck her hand out to Maggie, who shook it with a smile. “So formal there, Luthor.”
Lena raised an eyebrow, and Maggie grinned at them both, before releasing Lena’s hand and climbing back into her car. As she pulled away, she waved a hand out of the window, and Kara gave her a cheery wave back.
“Right!” Kara said, excitedly clapping her hands together and rubbing them. “Time for you to meet Streaky!”
“Who is Streaky?” Lena asked with a frown.
“Follow me,” Kara said, grabbing her suitcase and Lena’s heaviest one, before walking down the harbor wall for a few minutes. She loved being able to breathe the clear sea air again for the first time in a long time. It was so unlike the smell of the water near Pier 11 in New York, and she relished in the salty scent of the seaweed and the way the breeze ruffled her hair. Lena followed along silently behind her, cursing every now and again when her suitcase hit a crack in the pavement that caused it to tip.
They kept going until they reached the top of a ladder that jutted out from the wall. The rest of it disappeared down eight feet towards the water and to-
“Streaky! It’s good to see you again, old girl,” Kara cooed over the edge of the wall.
“Who are you talking to?” Lena enquired, crouching down and looking at the wheels on one of her suitcases. “Damn,” she muttered. “I knew I shouldn’t have brought this one. No wonder it’s been tipping over so much. Have you got tools at home?” she asked over her shoulder.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that we do actually,” Kara said. “For right now though, you need to meet Streaky.”
“Oh,” Lena replied, standing up and straightening her back. “Um, who…?”
Kara pointed over the edge of the wall, and Lena followed the course of her finger. “Streaky is your… boat? You named your boat after your cat?”
“Well-remembered, Lena,” Kara said with a smile. She was impressed that Lena recalled any information that she’d been fed during that awful turbulence. “And not just any boat! She’s my baby,” Kara continued. “I’ve been operating her for over ten years now. She’s a speedboat, but I promise not to go too fast on your first go!”
Lena swallowed audibly. “Please don’t.”
“Right! Let’s get all our stuff aboard,” Kara said cheerfully. “Do you want to go down first?”
Lena shook her head. Ah. That meant that instead of one of them passing the suitcases down to the other like she’d planned, Kara would have to drop or even throw the bags from up here onto the boat. She couldn’t imagine Lena would be any good at bodily throwing suitcases, so it would fall to her. That should be fine, she supposed, as long as she aimed correctly. Streaky was a fairly large speedboat, not built for serious speed, although she was fast enough. She had a longer than average deck, and that’s why she’d chosen her. The racer boys she’d gone to high school with had wanted the faster ones, but she’d preferred more space and a slightly slower speed. The larger deck would work out perfectly now, thanks to the huge amount of luggage Lena had brought.
“Well then,” Kara said with a sideways glance at Lena. She wasn’t going to like this. “I’m going to, er… get the bags on the boat.” Before Lena could work out what she was going to do, Kara picked up the heaviest suitcase and carried it to the ledge. She held onto the ladder with one hand, then in one motion, swung the suitcase out and leaned over as far as she could before dropping the suitcase.
Lena let out a yelp as she realized what Kara was going to do a second before she did it, and lurched towards the edge before coming up short. She winced as her suitcase landed with a heavy thunk on the deck of the boat.
“Yes!!” Kara cheered, before she swung herself back up and made towards another suitcase.
“What the hell, Kara?” Lena burst out. “Those are my- do you have any idea how much those cost?”
“No, but without you being on the boat to pass them down to, there’s no other way to get them on there. Unless you want to pass them down to me?”
Lena bit her lip as she looked towards the ladder. “I’d have to… lean over the edge with the weight of the suitcase. I’m not sure if-” she started, before she straightened her shoulders. “If I’m thinking simply in terms of physics-”
“It’s okay,” Kara said, trying not to laugh at Lena attempting to say she wasn’t sure she could without actually saying it. She decided to give her an out. “I’ve been doing this for years. If you’re not used to the weird weight distribution you might end up swinging yourself into the water or knock yourself out on the boat or something.” At Lena’s horrified look, she made up her mind. “I’ll just have to keep doing it this way. There’s nobody else here to help us anyway,” she added as she looked up and down the harbor. They were alone.
“Fine, but… carefully,” Lena said, making a grab towards the next bag that Kara had picked up before curling her hands into balls and letting Kara do what she needed to. Two heavy thunks later, accompanied by winces from the brunette, one of Lena’s and her own suitcase had made it into the boat. The problem now was space, or rather, the lack of it. Kara assessed it over the edge and decided that she’d just have to risk it. Lena’s last suitcase was the lightest.
She grabbed it and swung herself around one last time and as the bag fell, it bounced off one of the others and, as if in slow motion, Kara watched it hit the side of the boat and slide off the back and into the water. Lena, who had heard one too many thunks followed by a splash, rushed to the edge.
“Kara!!” she spluttered.
“On it,” Kara said swiftly, shimmying down the ladder and grabbing the boat hook from underneath the other suitcases. She tried to suppress her laughter as she fished Lena’s thankfully waterproof suitcase out of the harbor before it floated too far away. She wouldn’t have found it quite as funny if she’d had to dive into the water to fetch it.
An image of Lena jumping off the harbor wall, arms flailing, into the water in her designer clothes to rescue her suitcase flashed through her mind. All of a sudden, the laughter she was trying to hold back burst out of her. Kara doubled up laughing on the deck as her eyes watered. She glanced up to the wall to see Lena looking affronted, and it only made her laugh harder. She leaned over and grabbed the suitcase, setting it on top of the others, before sitting down on the side of the boat and trying to catch her breath.
“If you’re quite done,” came a snippy voice from above her, which only served to set her off once more.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Kara wheezed a few minutes later, holding onto the handrail for support.
Lena was still standing at the top of the wall, her arms folded over her chest. At Kara’s angle, she looked like a mob boss in a movie poster looking down menacingly. The image was somewhat skewed though, because Kara could see Lena fighting back a smile even as she tried to appear stern.
“Come on, Lena,” Kara said, her face hurting from smiling so much. “We haven’t left anything up there, have we?”
“Nope,” Lena replied, after a quick look around herself. She pulled her own laptop bag around so that it was resting against her front, before she gripped the top of the ladder. She seemed a little nervous, for some reason, although Kara couldn’t think why.
It did cross Kara’s mind, however, that climbing down a rusty ladder onto a rocking boat might not be something that Lena had to do very often. She braced one foot against the side of the boat and pressed her weight down to steady the boat as much as she could, so that it would dip less when Lena reached it. “Just turn around so that you’re facing the wall, and then just make your way down slowly, okay?”
Lena did so, before starting to make her way down. The distance between the rungs was wider than the average ladder, and Lena gingerly felt below her to find each rung before she stepped down. “That’s it, you’re doing fine,” Kara encouraged her, as she made it halfway down. Then came the moment where Lena tried to find the bottom rung, only to find that there wasn’t one.
“Kara,” she said over her shoulder, “where is-” and then her hand slipped on the ladder and she lost her balance. She made a sudden movement, as if she tried to protect her laptop bag from clanging against the ladder, but in a split second, she went from steady to not steady at all.
Kara’s hands shot out in an instant, carefully grabbing Lena around the waist as she slipped downwards. She pulled Lena against herself, wrapping one arm tightly around her waist and keeping one hand on her hip. Kara’s cheek was pressed between Lena’s shoulder blades. Lena’s laptop bag bumped around her as Kara tried her best to steady the boat with her feet again after her movement caused it to rock slightly.
“Hey, hey, you’re fine,” Kara murmured into the soft satin shirt. “Just let go of the ladder, I’ve got you, okay?”
The death grip Lena had on the ladder was released, and she stepped backwards towards Kara, using Kara’s solid frame to balance herself. Kara kept her arm around Lena’s waist, but caught Lena’s free hand with hers as she stepped them both backwards onto the deck of the boat.
Lena let go of Kara’s hand before she turned around to face Kara. They were standing close together, and Lena’s hand came to rest on Kara’s bicep as she finished steadying herself. The gentle rocking of the boat made it feel almost like they were dancing, and Kara felt her breath hitch. They stood there for a quiet moment, the seagulls cawing overhead and the water lapping against the side of the boat. Belatedly, Kara took stock of the situation and realized that her arm was still around Lena’s waist, her hand rubbing soothingly against Lena’s lower back. She let go of her instantly.
“Are you alright?” she asked quietly.
Lena looked at her, but Kara couldn’t see her expression behind her dark sunglasses. “I’m fine. Thank you for… catching me,” Lena said, just as quietly.
The moment seemed heavy somehow, and Kara didn’t know why, or what to make of it.
So, she cleared her throat and stepped away from Lena. The moment passed. “Right, come and sit up front with me. I won’t go fast, maybe around 15 knots, so it’ll be around fifteen minutes or so until we dock on Kasiana.”
Lena followed her up and sat herself down in the seat next to Kara, before silently putting on the life jacket that Kara passed her.
Kara swallowed the nerves that suddenly flared throughout her body. It wasn’t like they hadn’t already passed the gate of no return, but once they docked at Kara’s home, there really would be no going back.
She was about to introduce Lena Luthor to her mother.
Kara turned the key.