The ride over to Kasiana Island was made in relative silence, since Kara was concentrating on operating Streaky, and Lena seemed to be lost in her own thoughts.
As they bumped over a wave and Lena clutched the console in front of her, Kara wondered whether Lena was nervous about what they were about to do. Did Lena even get nervous? She hadn’t actually allowed herself to think too much about how Lena may be feeling about any of this entire fake marriage situation.
Sure, she’d imposed a great deal on Kara, who faced dire consequences if what they were doing was discovered by the government. But Lena also faced some horrible consequences of her own. The biggest consequence was of course being deported, which was extremely drastic and would require Lena giving up her entire life in the United States. She wouldn’t be able to work for L-Corp anymore, or CatCo, while everything got sorted out. She wouldn’t lose her shares in the company or anything, Kara assumed, but control of the companies would have to fall to someone else. Given how much Lena had put into the companies over the years, Kara imagined that would be quite a massive blow for her.
Did Lena even have anything waiting for her back in Ireland?
And now she was about to commit the same federal crime as Kara was, all the while being out of her comfort zone. Lena was going to have to be able to sell their established, stable, happy relationship to Kara’s family, who she had never met, and all of whom had fairly negative opinions of her, no thanks to Kara herself. Lena wasn’t the most easy-going person, and although she could be very charming, Kara had never seen her in a relaxed social setting.
Kara had no idea what to expect from the brunette sitting next to her, who was giving nothing away at all.
They rounded the last corner, and Kara sighed happily as her family home came into view. There was the large old house that had been in the Danvers family for the last five generations. The large, grey and white house stood at the top of a small hill that led gently down towards the Sound. The swing was still there under the huge old tree that sat in the middle of the lawn in front of the house, and Kara itched to go and sit on it. Smoke rose from the old chimney; Eliza was having a wood fire, and Kara couldn’t wait to curl up near it in her favorite old armchair with a book and a mug of hot chocolate.
She glanced across at Lena, whose curious green eyes were taking in everything she saw. It was as if she were committing everything to memory, which Kara supposed she must be doing. It would be extremely strange in the Immigration interview if Lena had no idea what Kara’s home looked like.
The wooden pier jutted out into the Sound from the old boathouse, which Kara noticed needed more than a few coats of paint. She was aware that Eliza had power washed it quite recently, but she didn’t have time to paint it. Kara looked guiltily at the peeling paint, which she could see even from the end of the pier, and decided that while they were here, they could do some work on it. At the very least she would brush off what was flaking so that Alex could go around after her painting it once she and Lena had gone back to New York.
Kara expertly moored the boat alongside the pier, throwing the ropes out and stepping up onto the wood before tying the ropes to the bollards. She stretched luxuriously, before turning back to the boat and to Lena.
Lena was looking up at the house, but when Kara held out a hand, she held her own out and let herself be pulled up onto the pier. Kara helped her take the life jacket off and tossed it back into the boat.
“This is a lovely home, Kara,” she said. “You’ve been holding out on me. It’s also far larger than I expected it to be. That being said, I’m not sure exactly what I expected.”
Kara smiled. “It was an amazing place to spend my teenage years, that’s for sure. The Danvers family has lived here for quite a long time, and Alex and I got up to all sorts of mischief all over the island.”
Lena raised one of her eyebrows. “I believe you have some stories to tell me then, Kara,” she said, before she looked back up at the house. Kara could see the apprehension on her face before she schooled it back into careful interestedness. Kara was starting to realize that this was how Lena looked when she wanted to absorb information; take the emotion, the distraction, out of it, and focus on the facts. “Have you got a crash course for me on your family?” she added, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
“We could’ve done this on the plane you know,” Kara replied without thinking. She knew it was the wrong thing to say when the smile disappeared from Lena’s face. Kara winced. “Hey, I’m sorry. It’s not your fault I spent most of the plane ride asleep.”
“It’s my fault you were on the plane in the first place, so don’t apologize, Kara,” Lena said in a voice that sounded more tired than Kara had ever heard from her before. If she thought about it, there was rarely an occasion where Lena had admitted fault; usually that was because she was almost always right, but still. Instead of letting Kara address that though, Lena rubbed one of her eyebrows in a fatigued sort of way, and moved on. “I’m aware that Eliza is a scientist, but you haven’t mentioned what kind of science she practices, for example.”
“Oh,” Kara said, taking her glasses off and wiping them with her sleeve. “She’s a virologist. I know she works with viral pathogenesis, but for any more details, you’d have to ask her, or Alex.”
“Alex?” Lena asked, looking momentarily flummoxed. “I thought you said she was the sheriff?”
“Yeah, I can see how that would be confusing! Alex is the sheriff ‘round these here parts,” she added in a dreadful old western accent, “but actually she’s a medical doctor. She worked down in Seattle for a while before she realized that… well, I guess she just got tired of not ever having a life. She was lonely. She came back up here and has been working as the sheriff ever since. She’s just submitted an application to join the NYPD though. She’s kind of an action-oriented person and Midvale is quite a quiet place. Plus, there’s not many, ah, well there’s not exactly a large dating pool for people like Alex.”
At that, Lena frowned. “Alex? What about you?” Her eyes widened slightly as something occurred to her. “Kara, I thought you were- are you even… God, I never even thought to- am I- we’re not about to out you to your family, are we? Do you even like women?”
“Lena, Lena!” Kara said, raising both of her hands and waving them at Lena as if to ward away her panicked words. “Lena, it’s okay. I mean, I guess it just goes to show how- maybe I should give you a crash course in myself as well once we’ve got up to our rooms,” Kara joked. Lena did not look at all impressed at Kara’s attempt at levity. “We’re not about to out me. I’m bisexual, and everyone here knows it. I don’t really shout it from the rooftops or anything, but it’s not a secret. Um, I don’t actually know how you identify either, to be honest,” she admitted. “It’s not that I thought you were any one thing or another, but I just never… thought about it.”
“I’m a lesbian,” Lena said bluntly. “And, aside from my mother and a couple of other people, Sam for example, it is a secret. Or at least, it was. I’m pretty sure my getting engaged to be married to a woman will hit the headlines over the weekend and that’ll be the end of that part of my life as well. I’ve already had Jess texting me about the PR department trying to shut down the breaking news. Once Twitter gets hold of it though, that’ll really be it.”
Kara was appalled. “You weren’t out? And you- we’re… oh, Lena. I’m sorry.”
“This was all entirely my own fault,” Lena said, throwing her shoulders back and pursing her lips, as if it meant nothing to her, even though Kara could tell by the look on her face that it clearly mattered a great deal. For someone both as private and high-profile as Lena was, to have kept that part of her life hidden for this long was a testament to the iron grip she kept on the details of her life. And now that was being thrown into the wind, and in a way Lena couldn’t even have any say in, since they were up in Midvale and not New York.
Kara made a move forward to somehow comfort Lena, although, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do. She pulled herself up short, and after a moment’s hesitation, held her hand out to Lena instead. Lena looked down at her hand, but she threaded her fingers through Kara’s with no protest at all. Kara gave her a soft smile, and Lena’s eyes crinkled at the corners as she gave her a sad smile in return.
It crossed her mind as she looked over at Lena that she should still be far angrier with her than she felt she was. Considering everything that was happening, she had every right to be furious, but she found that since the plane ride, she just didn’t have the energy. Her best shot at pulling this whole thing off and not going to jail was not to continue biting Lena’s head off in private. Instead, Kara felt like they should bridge the gap between them and perhaps build a friendship, so that their interactions would at least be more genuine.
And it seemed like the very beginning of building a friendship was, right now, to hold Lena’s hand at a time where she looked like she needed it.
As she was about to mention perhaps having a friendship with her, Lena opened her mouth as if to say something. Kara waited her out, but she didn’t say anything; instead, she did something she wasn’t expecting. Lena rubbed her thumb against the back of Kara’s hand, and Kara felt the tentative and gentle touch all the way down to her toes.
“Kara?” came a call from towards the house. Kara looked over her shoulder and saw the outline of Eliza standing in the front doorway, casting a small shadow down the lawn. She gave Eliza a huge wave with her spare hand before turning back to Lena.
The brunette looked ever so slightly an anxious, but masked it quickly behind her boardroom face. Kara suppressed a sigh; Lena would look far friendlier if she didn’t try to look so… business-like.
“Are you ready?” Kara asked, swinging their joined hands to get Lena’s attention. “Eliza is completely harmless. She’s very kind and caring, I promise. And, she’s a fantastic cook, if that helps sway your thoughts in any way.”
“Well,” Lena said, looking at Kara from under her eyelashes, “I am quite hungry. I haven’t eaten since yesterday.”
“Lena,” Kara admonished with a playful roll of her eyes. “Come on, let’s go meet Eliza, and then I’ll come back down and grab our bags.”
They walked up the lawn together, their fingers still entwined.
Optics, you know. It was all about the optics.
Eliza was standing in the doorway watching them approach, and as they reached the bottom steps of the porch, she came out of her house in her slippers and opened her arms wide. Kara let go of Lena’s warm hand and flung her arms around her adoptive mother, breathing in the familiar scent of lavender and antiseptic soap from the lab. She was home at last.
“Hello sweetheart,” Eliza said, and Kara could hear the familiar smile in her voice. “I’m so happy to see you!” She rubbed Kara’s back before letting go and turning her sights on Lena, who was hovering at the top of the steps, fiddling with the strap of her laptop bag. “Hi,” Eliza said, walking towards Lena. “I’m Eliza, and you must be Lena.” She wrapped Lena in a hug as well, not as exuberant a hug as she’d given Kara, but it was a warm one, nonetheless.
Kara watched as Lena’s arms hung at first by her side, but after a moment, came up to wrap around Eliza. She looked awkward, as if she didn’t know what to do with herself, and a sad thought flashed across Kara’s mind.
How long has it been since someone last hugged Lena?
The two women let go of each other, but Eliza kept her hand on Lena’s upper arm. “Come on in, Lena. It’s lovely to meet you. You must want to get out of those business clothes, you look like you’ve just come from a boardroom meeting. Kara, go and get the luggage from the boat while I make Lena a nice cup of tea. You drink tea, don’t you?”
“I do yes, thank you, Mrs Danvers,” Lena said, stepping into the house. “Thank you so much for having us to stay at such late notice.”
“Oh, please call me Eliza,” her mother replied. “And it’s no problem. I was hoping Kara would be home anyway, so her room is all ready for use.”
Kara listened to the voices disappear into the house before she wandered back down to the boat. It was just about 4pm; sunset would be in a few hours, and the setting sun would paint beautiful colours across the Sound. She couldn’t wait to see it again, and looked forward to heading outside in the evenings at some point with a cup of hot chocolate and, hopefully, Lena. She couldn’t imagine a more beautiful spot to swap stories than on the porch swing overlooking the sunset.
Kara pulled all the suitcases out of the boat and took two of them up to the porch steps, before she returned with the other two and her backpack. What in the hell did Lena have in her suitcases?! One of them weighed a ton. She dragged them into the hallway and set them just to the side of the door. She didn’t know what the sleeping arrangements were yet, but she assumed Lena would want a room of her own, so she didn’t take any of the bags anywhere.
She paused, halfway to closing the door, thinking. Lena sleeping in a room on her own would be a little suspect. The Danvers were by no means a conservative family, and wouldn’t expect an unmarried couple to sleep in separate rooms. Kara’s own room in the house though was fairly large, and could easily accommodate two people. They’d have to see what Eliza had decided, though.
She heard the low murmur of talking coming from the kitchen, and she followed the sound of the voices. She found Lena and Eliza sitting at the large wooden kitchen table, hands wrapped around steaming mugs of tea and deep in conversation.
“The new electron microscope developed two years ago by L-Corp has been instrumental in my colleagues being able to identify new polyomaviruses as well as things like the ranavirus in samples we’ve had in the lab,” Eliza said.
“I’m glad,” Lena said, blowing across her tea to cool it before taking a sip. “I originally designed it for use by rapid response units in cases where identifying unknown agents in potential bioterrorism incidents required quick results, for obvious reasons. We know that the electron microscope is an important tool in terms of monitoring the standardization of probe technology for detecting biological threats, and I’m happy to be loaning L-Corp tech to the CDC to that end, but I wanted to design a more efficient version of it that could be used in the field as well as the lab. It takes up far less space. So, I’m happy to hear it’s useful.”
“It certainly is,” Eliza said, with a proud smile directed at Lena.
The polite look on Lena’s face was taken over by a wide smile, and it struck Kara at that moment that it was the first truly genuine smile that she had ever seen on the brunette. It lit up her whole face; her eyes sparkled and crinkled at the corners, and her dimples were so deep that Kara felt the sudden urge to run her fingertips down them.
The fact that a smile that wide had come about as a result of a compliment about a part of Lena’s work that Kara was not familiar with was something that Kara found interesting. Lena was practically glowing as she and Eliza continued to talk about science and other technology that Lena had designed or had a hand in. Kara had only seen Lena as her corporate boss; she’d never thought much about what Lena actually enjoyed doing outside of running the two companies she was at the head of. Apparently, Lena had designed entire pieces of tech that people around the world were using. If the way her voice was colored with passion and the animated way she was describing her latest designs were anything to go by, Lena’s obsessions were not corporate meetings, but in designing and using technology.
For the first time, Kara allowed her mind to wander past the stern businesswoman that Lena portrayed herself as and wonder where her true passions lay. She clearly enjoyed technology, and Kara mentally scrolled through Lena’s various other accomplishments, the ones she that she knew about anyway. She knew that Lena was a champion when it came to fencing and chess, and that she had six degrees. Technically she was Doctor Luthor, although Kara had never called her that. She couldn’t remember what Lena’s degrees were off hand though, and so she sat down with a cup of tea herself and fished her phone out of her pocket.
While Eliza and Lena chattered on about something, words like epithelium, cytopathogenic and immunoelectron microscopy floating across the table. Kara zoned out and surreptitiously searched for Lena’s degrees. Bachelor degrees in biology and chemistry, a master degree in molecular biology, a research degree in chemical engineering, and PhDs in biochemical engineering and in cognitive robotics.
Kara rubbed the back of her neck. Cognitive robotics? She googled further and found that it was to do with giving robots intelligence. She smiled to herself at the thought of Lena tinkering with robots in a lab somewhere, trying to get them to think.
“What are you smiling at over there?” Eliza asked her, and Kara blushed at being caught out when Lena looked over too.
“Nothing,” she said, swiftly putting her phone back in her pocket.
“Well,” Eliza said, collecting hers and Lena’s mugs and putting them in the sink. “Let me show you both where you’ll be staying.”
Lena stood up as well, picking up her laptop bag and hooking it over her shoulder. They both followed Eliza back out into the hall, Lena looking interestedly at the photos on the wood-covered walls as they did so. Kara picked up two of the suitcases, and Lena and Eliza took one each.
“Kara, I’d already set your bedroom up for you in the hopes that you’d be coming up next week, thank goodness I’ve finished the towels since now we’ll be needing two sets. I’m sorry Lena dear, I wasn’t aware you’d be coming, but I’ll grab you some towels as well once we get you settled.”
“Oh there’s-” Lena started.
“Nonsense,” Eliza interrupted, as they reached the top of the winding staircase and down the hall towards Kara’s room. “We can’t have you drip-drying after every shower or bath.”
At the very end of the hall, Eliza pushed the door open to Kara’s room, and Kara sighed. She’d always loved this room. It had wall to wall glass on one side, which let in all the evening sun. A door led out onto a private, covered wooden balcony, and Kara was happy to see that Eliza had set out two armchairs and a table there. The whole room was paneled with honey-colored cypress wood, and various paintings that Kara had done over the years adorned the walls. There were several of the sunset from this very room, and one of a storm, and Kara’s ego was pleased when those were the ones that seemed to draw Lena’s eye.
Eliza was busy showing Lena around the room, showing her how the electronic blinds worked and where the key was for the balcony door. She showed Lena how the shower worked, explaining that you needed to turn it all the way to hot before you could moderate the temperature. Kara busied herself with opening the closet door and beginning to hang up some of the clothes that she pulled out of her suitcase.
Behind her, Eliza cleared her throat. “I’ll let you two get settled in. Lena, I’ll bring some towels through in a minute. Feel free to open the door if you want, I know this room gets quite warm in the evenings thanks to the sun.”
She closed the door behind her, and Kara looked over at Lena, who looked slightly overwhelmed. She set her laptop bag down on one of the cozy armchairs in the corner of the room before she took a small wander around the room. She peered out of the window and smiled at the view that she saw, and turned back around. And then she froze.
Kara watched as the realization of their situation dawned on her. Eliza was working off the assumption that they were a couple, since that’s what she’d been told, and wouldn’t think to set up a cot bed in the corner or anything. Kara had already worked that out, but it seemed that it hadn’t occurred to Lena at all, who until quite recently had thought they’d be staying at a hotel in separate rooms. And now she was being confronted with one very simple fact.
There was only one bed.
Lena glanced up at Kara, who shrugged. “She thinks we’re a couple,” she explained. “There’s no way she would’ve separated us and given us our own rooms. This is my room, by the way.”
“I gathered,” Lena replied, casting her eyes around it again before setting off to explore. The door was surrounded by floor to ceiling bookcases that were packed with all sorts of books that belonged to the whole family; Lena ran her fingertips along some of the more worn titles. The bed was super-king sized and had a long sofa at the end of it. Over the years, Kara had collected a few soft cushions to add to the décor, which was decidedly alpine in theme. Because the walls were all wood-paneled, the evening sun gave it a warm glow, and Kara had spent many a summer evening out on the balcony, painting either what she saw or whatever came to mind.
Kara stood near the chairs in the corner, feeling almost as if she was being judged in a contest for something as Lena took her time looking at everything. “It’s very you, I think,” Lena said, eventually, in a casual manner.
Kara felt a little defensive; she was too used to Lena’s ability to deliver insults designed as compliments to take her words at face value. She wondered where the jibe was this time. “What do you mean by that?”
Lena tilted her head to the side when she caught Kara’s protective tone. “I just mean that it’s very cozy and… inviting, like you are. It’s very pleasant, and I like it. I imagine this was a room you could come back to after any kind of day and feel better,” she clarified with a small smile.
Kara sighed in mollified relief. It was important to her that Lena liked this room, not only because she’d be spending the next week and change staying in it, but also because it was Kara’s, and there was a lot of her within the walls. “You’re right,” Kara said, sitting down in the chair, holding Lena’s laptop bag on her lap. “I’ve always felt very happy and at home in this room. It makes me feel comfortable, and the Danvers let me decorate it however I wanted when I moved here. I stayed in Alex’s room while this one was being redecorated. We drove each other nuts, but when I had my own space to retreat to after losing both of my parents, it helped a lot, and it improved the relationship between myself and Alex. And… this room is very relaxing. The fire works, by the way, in case you wanted one while we’re here,” she added, pointing to the fireplace just to her right. “But, it does get very warm in here.”
Just then, Eliza knocked at the door. “We’re decent,” Kara called.
“Hi ladies,” Eliza said. Her arms were full of soft, fluffy towels. “Lena, I’ve got these for you. Guard them carefully; Kara goes through them very quickly,” she said with a wink.
“Hey, it’s just because of the running!” Kara objected with no real bite in it, while Lena and Eliza shared a look and a chuckle. This was a conversation that Eliza and Kara had every time she came home, and it just made her feel even more cosy to hear it now while Lena was there to listen in.
Eliza let herself back out and closed the door again. Lena looked over at Kara. “She waits for you to say okay before she comes into your room?”
“Yeah, Eliza always does, why? Isn’t that normal?” Kara asked.
“Not for me. There was no expectation of privacy at Luthor Manor,” Lena confided, somewhat bitterly.
Kara couldn’t imagine that. She’d always been given the decency of a knock before someone came in. “That… really sucks, Lena. You’ll have no such worries here. Nobody will barge in on us, at least, not without checking first.”
Lena seemed pacified by that, to Kara’s pleasure, but she looked straight back at the bed.
“Uh, don’t worry about that either. I’ll make up a bed for myself on the sofa,” Kara said quickly. “It’s really comfortable and I’ve fallen asleep on it countless times. And it’ll be easy enough for me to tidy it away every morning.”
Lena looked like the was going to object for a moment, but in the end, she accepted what Kara had suggested. “Thank you, Kara. As long as you’re comfortable doing that?”
“It’s no problem,” Kara replied. “Do you want to change into something more relaxing? I think for dinner it’ll just be you, me, Eliza, Alex, and Maggie, as far as I’m aware. We kind of surprised them with our visit, so they won’t have had time to put together anything more complicated. Thank goodness, actually, because it’s been a long day and I’m quite tired.” She punctuated her sentence with a cracking yawn. It spread to Lena, who put her hand over her mouth as she yawned as well.
“I think this is suitable. You’ve talked about Alex more than anyone else, and I feel like if I need to make a good impression on anyone for this situation to work, it’s her,” Lena said, looking down at herself and what she was wearing. Despite her having worn it for the whole day, her shirt was still barely wrinkled. Kara had no idea how she did it.
“You don’t need to completely intimidate someone to make a good impression on them, you know. This isn’t L-Corp and you’re not trying to win some kind of new business deal. She’s my sister, not a billionaire business mogul from Metropolis,” Kara said bluntly, before she realized that she’d put her foot in it with Lena again.
“Excuse me?” Lena said, looking affronted. “Kara, I don’t appreciate you speaking to me like that,” she said in an exasperated tone. “I’m trying.”
“Ah, I’m sorry,” Kara murmured, closing her eyes. “Um, I was thinking actually,” she gestured at the other chair in front of her. “Come sit?”
Lena did, but she still looked a little irritated. She was completely out of her depth in Kara’s family’s house, and Kara was aware that of that. On the one hand, she knew that their predicament was due to Lena’s idiotic brainwave, but on the other, Kara herself certainly wasn’t making this any easier on either of them by being snippy at every opportunity.
“Look, Lena, I think that… okay,” she said, spreading her hands flat across the table. “I just need to say something. I’m obviously still angry about this whole situation, and it’s probably better to just clear the air between us before we go down to dinner or do anything else, alright?”
Lena leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “Fine.”
Kara took a deep breath and blew it out. “Alright. I’m mad that you dragged me into a felony crime without giving me the consideration of a conversation first. And I want it to be known that the answer would of course have been no, had I been given any time to think about it. You’ve asked me to risk my job, my future financial security, and my ability to every get a decent job after possibly spending five years in jail. No, I’m not finished,” she said, when Lena looked like she was going to interrupt. “I also don’t appreciate being asked to lie to my entire family, all of my friends, and being forced to get married before I’m ready and to someone I don’t even really know.”
“That’s fair,” Lena conceded.
Kara was surprised. “What, really?”
“Yes, of course it is. I feel like this is a conversation we should have when we have more time, but, yes. I understand and appreciate what you’ve just said.”
Kara sat back in her chair and considered the woman in front of her, looking entirely out of place in her magenta satin shirt in her alpine bedroom. “Um, thank you. So I was thinking earlier and while obviously we have things we need to talk about and no doubt have frustrations on both sides, we could… could we try to be friends?”
Lena raised an eyebrow and angled her face towards Kara. “Friends?”
“Yeah. Let’s… try to be friendly with each other. Aside from the fact that it would make things nicer between us, I also think that it’ll make our relationship look much more natural to everyone else if we’re not taking pot shots at each other. And, if I’m honest, I think it’d be… nice, being your friend.”
At that, Lena raised both of her eyebrows incredulously. “You want to be friends with me?” she asked in disbelief.
“Sure, why not? We’re in this together, right?”
“I suppose we are,” Lena said, extending her hand across the table and shaking Kara’s. “I’m not very good at… sharing parts of myself, sometimes, but I promise that I’ll try.”
“That’s all I can ask,” Kara said, putting her other hand on top of their linked ones, causing Lena to smile gratefully at her. “I understand that it’s hard for you to share yourself when you’re a naturally private person, but I also know that we need to do it. So, I’ll try to make it as easy as I can, okay?”
“I…” Lena said, then paused. “Thank you, Kara. I appreciate it,” she finished, and somehow Kara knew that she was going to say something else before she’d closed herself off. Her voice was warm, though, and Kara put a pin in it for now. You couldn’t pull all the secrets out of a private woman the moment they called a truce.
They sat there for a moment, both looking at each other with what felt like new appreciation. Kara was glad that Lena understood what it was she was being put through, at least. Until now, it had felt like Lena was being rather dismissive, and she was happy to know that wasn’t the case. Lena was nothing if not honest (with the exception of apparently the federal government Kara added with an internal laugh), and so, she was happy to trust that what Lena was saying was true.
“You know what I think will make the best impression on Alex?” Kara asked, standing up and looking at Lena’s suitcases with her hands on her hips.
“Something comfortable. Look Lena, I… to my family you’re mostly known as my boss, and I’ve already told you what they’ve heard or know about you, but you’re not here as my boss right now. You’re here as my uh, my girlf- my fiancée. The picture of you that Alex probably has in her head is how you look right now, or how you looked yesterday. And while you look beautiful, those clothes also make you look kind of… well, like Eliza said, like you just came out of a boardroom.”
“Oh,” Lena said, smoothing a hand over her stomach. “Okay. I’ll have a look to see if I have something you think is more suitable.”
“Do you want some help unpacking? You’ve got… lots of stuff,” Kara said, nodding towards the suitcases.
Lena looked like her first instinct was to refuse, but she nodded. “Could you take that one?” Lena asked, pointing at it. “It mostly has my shirts and things in it, and they need to be hung up.”
Kara duly opened the suitcase to be faced with quite a lot of differently colored satin shirts, and a lot of patterned ones. All of them were completely unsuitable for the type of place they were in. “Lena,” Kara asked.
“Are these the only tops you brought?”
“No, there are a lot of tshirts under there somewhere,” Lena replied, pulling out various pairs of trousers and hanging them up in the closet. Kara hung up what seemed like ten silk or satin shirts, and a few stripy button-ups, before she reached the tshirts.
And when she did, she let out a little giggle.
“What?” Lena huffed, folding her arms and looking down as Kara knelt on the carpet, holding up one of the tshirts. “Aren’t they suitable?”
Kara gave her a fond smile. “They’re perfect, Lena,” she said. And they were. Perfectly Lena. The one that Kara was holding up was white with a red fist in the middle, surrounded by the words Obey Gravity, It’s the Law!
Kara pulled out several shirts of various colors, each of them with some kind of geeky science joke on it, a Star Wars C-3PO shirt, and Kara’s favourite, an obviously worn to softness, maroon MIT robotics department shirt. It was a shirt that screamed comfort, and Kara thought of Lena wearing it on a warm afternoon, curled up in a chair and reading a science journal.
Lena hung up her last pair of jeans and a few hiking sweaters, and then tossed some pajamas onto the bed. Kara fully expected Lena to sleep in nothing but silk, but it seemed that Lena’s pajamas of choice were flannel bottoms and an oversized X-Files tshirt.
They finished hanging up Lena’s clothes, and they exchanged an amused look when it became really obvious that Lena had overpacked. Kara said nothing this time, even though Lena’s clothes took up about four fifths of the closet. At least Lena had listened to her and brought casual clothes with her.
“I think you should go with one of the science shirts and a pair of jeans,” Kara mused, as she and Lena stared into the packed closet.
“I think you might be right,” Lena said, before she turned to Kara. “Oh, I had something for you.”
“What’s that?” Kara asked, as Lena turned back around and dug through the suitcase that seemed to hold everything but clothes. The brunette came back out with a velvet bag and a slight blush on her face. “Lena?”
“Well, you know how we’re supposed to be engaged? I hear that when that happens, people want to see a ring. And I didn’t know whether you had any rings that could work in place of one that your family wouldn’t recognize, so I brought some along. I also don’t know your ring size, obviously, but you can choose whichever one you want or whichever one fits the best.” And Lena handed the velvet bag over to her.
Kara was surprised, and somewhat touched, that Lena had thought of this. Finding something that resembled an engagement ring hadn’t occurred to her at all, and even if it had, she didn’t think she had anything at home that would fit the bill. She took the bag from Lena and sat down on the chair. “I feel like I need some kind of velvet tray to set these all out on,” she joked.
“They’re just some rings I had at home,” Lena said. “I only brought a few.”
As Kara spread the rings out on the armrest, she thought that Lena’s just some rings could probably pay her rent for at least three years, if not longer. All of them contained some kind of diamond, and even to Kara’s untrained eye, she could tell they were expensive cuts. There were eternity bands with diamonds and emeralds, solitaire rings that had tastefully small diamonds rather than one you could knock someone out with. None of them were made of yellow gold, and for some reason, that surprised Kara. She’d pegged Lena as a traditionalist, but every ring here was platinum.
The one that Kara liked the best was a platinum ring that, luckily, fit her when she slid it onto her ring finger, and was the only one that looked like it could be an engagement ring. In fact, it probably was one. What drew Kara’s eye to it was that the stone in it wasn’t a diamond, but something that was deep purple. It was a small oval, with two smaller oval diamonds either size of it. Kara loved it straight away, and it sparkled on her finger as she twisted her hand.
“What do you think?” she asked Lena, who looked over at her hand as she displayed it.
“Do you like it?” Lena asked quietly. Kara nodded. “That’s the one, then,” Lena decided, gathering the other ones up and back into the bag.
“What’s the stone?”
“It’s tanzanite,” Lena supplied, putting the bag carefully back in her suitcase. “It’s not the most expensive stone, but I love the color. The ring’s a little too big for me, but I didn’t want to risk the integrity of the stones by having it resized. You can keep it, if you like.”
“Oh Lena, I couldn’t. It’s too beautiful,” she said, looking at it again. If she was ever proposed to with a ring half as unusual and beautiful as this one, she’d be a happy girl.
“I insist,” Lena said, her voice soft and warm as she took Kara’s hand to look at it. “It suits you, and anyway… you have to love the ring. That’s part of it, right?”
Kara couldn’t fault her logic.
They continued packing away the rest of their things, sorting out who got which shelves in the bathroom, and Lena set out her shampoos and various lotions in the shower rack. Lena’s heaviest suitcase seemed to contain some work folders, a solid black box, and, inexplicably, a toolbox. Kara decided not to ask right now. Lena stayed in the bathroom to change into her jeans and the Obey Gravity shirt, and Kara pulled on a pair of fluffy socks rather than wearing her heavy boots.
The ring on Kara’s finger kept catching her eye, and she couldn’t help but stop and look at it. The madness of the situation still sat heavily in the forefront of her mind, but at least she and Lena were going to try to be friends, and that might help smooth the road quite a bit. The air between them already felt less fraught, as if their brief talk had smoothed out the bumps in the road between them.
She might not want to get fake married to her boss, but fake married to a friend? That was much less awful, especially if they ended up getting on well. And so, like she’d told Lena, she’d just have to bite the bullet and get on with it.
“Kara? Lena? Alex and Maggie are here and dinner is ready,” called Eliza from what sounded like the top of the stairs.
“Was that Eliza?” Lena asked as she came out of the bathroom.
“Yeah, Alex and Maggie have arrived and-” Kara stopped short as her eyes traveled over Lena. The difference between the woman in front of her now and the one from only ten minutes ago was stark. Kara had never seen Lena look so dressed-down, not even at the L-Corp company picnic two years ago where she’d worn a summer dress; that dress had cost a fortune. Now, she looked like any regular person, albeit a regular person whose face could stop traffic.
She’d French braided the top half of her hair, hiding the deep kink she’d no doubt be sporting from the severe ponytail she’d been wearing all day, and left the rest of it to hang loosely around over her shoulders. She looked a million miles away from Lena Luthor, billionaire CEO of two Fortune 500 companies.
Kara liked this version much better. This version was softer and looked a great deal friendlier than boardroom Lena. Her tshirt was obviously well-loved and not just something she had hanging up at the back of the closet, never seeing the light of day. Her jeans were worn at the knees and the bottom hems were slightly frayed.
“You look perfect,” Kara said, before she could stop herself. Lena looked up and smiled at her, before holding out her hand for Kara’s.
“Shall we, Miss Danvers?”
“We shall, Miss Luthor,” Kara replied, and they walked down the hallway hand in hand.