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take my mask, i'm home now

Chapter Text

They hadn’t got very far down the hallway before Kara suddenly pulled Lena to a stop with a jerk.

“Kara, what-”

“Wait,” Kara said, before pushing the door to a spare bedroom that was hardly ever used, dragging Lena into it. She shut the door behind them, turned the light on, and leaned back against the door. “We haven’t discussed… you know. Our situation. Our relationship. They’re going to want answers, and what do we tell them?” Kara asked in a hurried whisper, squeezing Lena’s hand tighter in her worry.

Lena yelped. “Ouch, Kara, my fingers!”

“Oh, sorry!” Kara said, letting go, and watching as Lena shook her hand out and frowned at her in surprise.

“It’s alright,” Lena said with a wince. “You’re just… really strong. And, I think we should just try to be as consistent as possible. What did I tell Maggie earlier?”

Kara blushed slightly. “Um, you basically told her that you seduced me in the office and that I was meant to be a one-night stand, but that you fell in love with me instead.”

“Right,” Lena said slowly, as if she regretted saying that because now she’d have to follow through with it, “and then I said that keeping it a secret was my idea because of work and… well, now that I’m freefalling out of the closet, I guess we can use that excuse. And the fact that I saw my sexuality all over social media and the news earlier just lends credence to the story.”

“I’m sorry,” Kara said, guilt she had no reason to feel thrumming through her. She meant it; she was sorry. She couldn’t imagine being forced out of the closet for any reason, but fake marrying your personal assistant to keep from being deported didn’t come top of the list.

“Well, there’s nothing to be done about it now. Our colleagues seeing us holding hands was enough in terms of everyone talking about my sexuality, although I’ve seen no mention yet of the engagement. I’m sure my mother is having a field day regardless. Okay, oh, one last thing that’s pretty basic information. Could you remind me when your birthday is? I’m not about to miss it, am I?”

“It’s September 22nd. I was born in 1991,” Kara supplied. “What about yours?” she asked when she realized that she didn’t have the first clue when Lena’s birthday was, or any other important information. Oh, she could certainly tell you where she liked to go on vacation, some of her allergies, and a multitude of other information that was relevant to organizing Lena’s life. What she didn’t know was whether Lena celebrated Christmas or not, or whether she was religious. She had no idea where Lena spent her Thanksgivings, or even anything as basic as whether or not she knew how to drive a car, since she had a driver who took her everywhere.

“October 24th, 1993,” Lena replied, breaking through Kara’s musing. “And, I think we should try to drop the engagement news as organically as possible. Try to keep your left hand hidden for at least a few minutes. Ready?”

Kara shook her hands out, clicked her neck from side to side, and did a funny little body wiggle that had Lena chuckling. “Yup! Let’s go.”

Kara turned the light off. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door again and let Lena go through first, catching hold of Lena’s hand again as they made their way towards the stairs. She could hear the murmur of voices coming from the dining room, and Kara led Lena through the kitchen and through into where the others were sitting.

Eliza, Alex, and Maggie were sitting around the set table, a few bottles of red wine open and breathing in the middle. There was a small bucket with a bottle of white sitting in ice as well, in case anyone was more partial to that.

“Hey!” Kara said excitedly, although the nerves in her stomach made a rude return as her eyes tried to catch the brown ones of Alex across the table. Alex was looking at Lena with curiosity as she stood slightly behind Kara, both of her hands clasped over Kara’s left, hiding the ring. “Alex?”

Maggie elbowed Alex in the side and Alex shook herself out of it, whatever it was, and stood up.

“Alex, this is Lena. Lena, this is my sister Alex,” Kara introduced, as Alex rounded the table towards them.

“Well, you’re not quite what I expected the hotshot businesswoman to look like, Luthor,” Alex said, looking down at Lena’s hot pink socks and Obey Gravity shirt, “but welcome to Midvale! I’d say I’d been looking forward to meeting you but-”

“Alex!” Maggie warned.

“-we didn’t even know you were coming until yesterday,” Alex finished with a smile. Kara had a sneaking suspicion that that wasn’t what Alex was going to say. “And you, Kara! I can’t believe you’re actually here! I didn’t expect to see you at all and now here you are, and I missed you! C’mere!” Alex said in a much warmer voice before she threw her arms around Kara’s neck, and Kara wrapped her arms around Alex’s back in turn, squeezing her tightly, and covering her left hand in her right.

“I missed you! It’s so great to see you, you have no idea! The NYPD had better accept your application because I don’t know how much longer I can deal without having regular sister nights,” Kara said, stepping back slightly and looking at her sister. Golly, she’d missed her. She hugged Alex again, and Alex ruffled her hair before letting her go.

“Lena? Would you like red or white?” Eliza asked, reaching for Lena’s wine glass.

“White please,” Lena replied. “Thank you. And, it’s lovely to meet you Alex. It’s great to finally be able to meet the most important person in Kara’s life.”

“Is that what she’s said?” Alex said with a laugh. “What else has she told you?”

“That she wouldn’t have got through her teenage years without you,” Lena said, not noticing the startled look Alex shot her as she looked up and accepted a glass of white from Eliza. Alex clearly hadn’t been expecting a serious answer to her question. “Thank you, Eliza! Let me help you in the kitchen,” Lena continued, standing up and running her hand across Kara’s shoulders before following Eliza out of the room. Kara watched her go and then turned her attention back to Alex and Maggie, keeping her left hand beneath the table.

“Told you,” Maggie said to Alex, as soon as Eliza and Lena were out of earshot. Alex nodded, her expression turning mischievous as she looked at Kara.

“Told her what?” Kara said suspiciously, pouring herself a glass of white wine and taking a sip.

“That you make googly eyes at Lena whenever she isn’t looking,” Alex said, grinning.

Kara spluttered into her wine glass, choking on the burn, and put it down on the table before she thumped herself in the chest. “Alex! I do not-”

“It’s true, you do,” Maggie said with a laugh. “You absolutely couldn’t take her eyes off her earlier at the airport, and just now your eyes followed her out of the room. I don’t blame you, she’s a knockout. You’ve got a serious case of hate to see you go, love to watch you leave going on there, little Danvers.”

Kara flushed. Yeah, Lena was certainly beautiful; you’d have to be completely oblivious to not notice her. But she hadn’t realized that she was looking that often at Lena. Surely, Maggie was only really seeing things. They’d barely spent more than ten minutes with Maggie during this trip so far, after all.

Instead of denying it, Kara just decided to play along. The optics definitely worked. “Can you blame me? What can I say, I’m only human and when she’s the one looking at me, why would I look anywhere else?”

“Aww Kara,” Alex teased. “You’ve got it bad.”

“Who’s got it bad?” Eliza asked as she carried in a vegan pasta dish for Maggie and a long plate of vegetables.

“Kara has it bad for Lena,” Alex said, sending a wink across the table at her.

“I would hope so, considering,” Lena said, carrying in a huge roast chicken. “Kara darling, could you move the bottles of wine out of the way so I can put this down?”

“Considering what?” Maggie asked.

“Oh sure,” Kara said, jumping up as Eliza came back into the dining room with a second plate of vegetables and a jug of chicken gravy. She reached over the table and as she grabbed the neck of a bottle of wine, the ring she was wearing made a very audible and obvious tink against the glass.

In an instant, everyone froze where they were. Lena was holding the chicken over the table with her eyes comically wide. Only Kara, of course, knew that her surprise was not genuine. Alex was halfway out of her seat, Maggie was reaching for her glass and didn’t seem to notice that she’d reached right past it. Eliza, on the other hand, almost spilled the gravy all over the table as her attention was drawn to Kara’s hand.

And this was really it for Kara. The moment where she’d have to lie to her family. It was like walking up to a precipice and this frozen moment was when you decided whether you were going to step backwards or fall right over the edge. Lena would go from just being Kara’s boss and her surprise girlfriend to being a future sister-in-law. A future daughter-in-law. She would, for a short period anyway, become part of the Danvers family if they were to go through with this. It was serious, not just for Kara and Lena, but for everyone else sitting there at the table, and for other people who weren’t there right now.

Now that everyone had heard the tell-tale tink of the ring on the bottle of wine, there was absolutely no way that Kara couldn’t jump off the edge of that precipice.

She felt the atmosphere shift from this to that as keenly as if she’d stepped from a cold room into a warm room. She reminded herself once again that she had chosen this. There were several moments when she could’ve left Lena hanging out to dry, even if that would’ve been extremely difficult to do. A moment where she could’ve not worn the ring, left Lena to be her girlfriend and not her fiancée. A moment where they could’ve put their heads together and found a different way for Lena to work through her immigration issues. But at the end of the day, she’d told Lena yes. And now, she couldn’t take it back. Not ever.

“Oh my god,” Eliza burst out, hurriedly dropping everything on the table as safely as she could and putting her hand over her mouth.

“What the fuck,” Alex exclaimed, finally standing up straight.

“Ho-lee-shiiiiit little Danvers! Considering you’re engaged!” Maggie crowed.

All of a sudden there was a cacophony of noise as everyone started talking at once. Maggie and Alex came around the table and Kara found herself being hugged by both of them simultaneously, while Lena was being hugged tightly by Eliza to her left.

Alex moved across to hug Lena, despite any misgivings she may or may not have towards her. Maggie sent a wolf whistle over, which Lena acknowledged with a wave of her hand over Alex’s shoulder and a scrunchy-nosed smile which made Kara smile in turn. There was yet another expression she’d never seen on Lena’s face before, and in a split second, Kara decided that it was one of her favourites. It was cute, and even in the midst of her inner turmoil, Kara knew she was screwed.

Once everyone had hugged and had their moments of excitement, they took their seats back at the table. Despite herself, Kara couldn’t stop smiling, even though it felt like there was a knife being shoved between her ribs. The juxtaposition of emotions in her chest had her reaching for her glass of wine and downing more than half of it before she felt Lena’s hand on her thigh under the table.

Kara put her glass back down next to her plate and glanced at Lena, who was looking at her with a mixture of sympathy and understanding on her face. Kara felt her squeeze her thigh gently, and she put her hand on top of Lena’s, acknowledging the silent comfort that she was providing.

Lena might be many things, but unkind didn’t seem to be one of them. The warmth of Lena’s hand on her thigh had a calming effect on Kara, and she felt herself breath a little easier, knowing that she was there.

A stunned silence seemed to settle over the table as everyone looked at each other and at Kara and Lena, as if trying to work out how their family had grown by a whole new person in the space of a day.

Alex was the first one to break the silence.

“Okay, people,” she said, spreading her hands across the table, palms up. “I think we’d all like to know how this whole thing has happened! Lena, I don’t mean any offence whatsoever by this but until yesterday we didn’t even know that you and Kara were seeing each other, and you’ve shown up today and Kara’s got a ring on her left hand. We’ve gone from zero to sixty in a second and I don’t even know what your middle name is!”

“Hear hear,” Maggie chimed in. “Well, actually no. I already know a little bit, but I’d like to know more.”

“I know I’m certainly dying to hear this story,” Eliza said, propping her chin up on her palm and gazing at Kara, before she looked at Lena. “Kara’s the one wearing the ring, so I suppose you were the one who asked Kara, right Lena?”

Lena chuckled. “Alex, my middle name is Kieran. And, yes, I was the one who asked Kara to marry me.”

“She really messed it up as well,” Kara piped up, remembering what Lena had said earlier at the airport.

“How’s that?” Alex asked, settling back in her seat with her glass of wine as if expecting a good story. Too late, Kara realized that they didn’t have one. Shit. Now they’d have to wing it.

“No, no, wait, start from the beginning,” Eliza said. “How did you two… get together?”

Kara felt Lena’s hand squeeze her thigh once more before she let go, steepling her fingers on top of the table instead.

“Well, I’m sure you know that Kara works for me as my personal assistant back in New York,” she started, and smiled when everyone nodded. “And I’m sure Kara’s told you how very busy both of my jobs are. Kara does an admirable job keeping everything organised for me. I never have to worry about anything if she’s the one who prepared it. I’m afraid that rather backfired in a way because it got to the point where she was so efficient that I couldn’t, and can’t, work without her.”

“Aw,” Kara said, blushing and taking a sip of wine and trying to look like this wasn’t news to her. Kara sensed that this part, at least, was truthful.

“She also does a great job at keeping me alive while I’m at CatCo. I’m usually so busy that I forget to eat, and she’s always bringing me little lunches that she makes at home-”

“Wait wait wait, Kara cooks for you?” Alex interjected, sounding shocked. “Are you sure you’re actually alive? She can’t make anything more complicated than a sandwich.”

“Lena’s been teaching me,” Kara butted in, and hoping that Lena could actually cook. The vast amount of ingredients that were in her online orders suggested she did. That, or she had very competent personal chef.

Alex raised her glass in a silent toast to Lena. “Props. Not many would be as brave. Hey!” she complained when Kara flicked a pea at her.

“Rude, sis,” Kara pouted.

Lena laughed. “But to be honest, I’d always noticed Kara. She always has a kind word for everyone in the office, and seems to know all of the delivery people by name. She’s always smiling, and she’s like a burst of sunshine on a cold day. My reputation, and that of my family’s, definitely precedes me, so I never had any hope that she’d noticed me in the same way. The truth is that as a Luthor, my relationship prospects rank somewhere in the region of the current president growing a conscience, and I was very used to being lonely. Still, nothing I did to catch her attention worked at all.”

“She filled my desk with flowers one day, really rare ones,” Kara said, looking over at Lena thoughtfully. Had Lena actually noticed her? “Really pretty ones. She invited me to loads of galas and things and got confused when I showed up and worked rather than dancing with her.”

Lena’s eyes were on her too, one eyebrow raised. “I cooked her all sorts of treats and she didn’t realize they were from me; to be fair, that was my fault, but she just shared them with the whole office. She had the flu once and I went over to her place to deliver some soup to her but she just took the soup and ate it, and didn’t wonder why I personally went all the way to her apartment instead of ordering it. I invited her to Paris once-”

“Noooo, that was for work!” Kara wailed.

“Kara… it definitely wasn’t for work,” Lena said with an eyeroll. “And you didn’t come, anyway.”

“Damn Kara, you were really oblivious,” Maggie said.

“You were, darling,” Lena said, lifting her hand up and caressing Kara’s face gently. The expression on Lena’s face was adoring, and Kara pressed her face into Lena’s palm briefly. “Anyway, I was having a particularly lonely birthday a year and a half ago. My mother had sent me cupcake with a candle in it, and it arrived after hours while I was working on a meeting brief for the next morning. And I guess I looked sadder than usual because Kara came in to check to see if I was okay.”

Kara was aware that this was a different story than Lena had told Maggie earlier, but they could always spin it as Lena wanting to tell a more PG story in front of Eliza. To accentuate the point, she winked across at Maggie, who raised her glass once more as she clocked it.

“She hugged me, and then the next thing I knew she kissed me,” Lena said with a grin. “I was a bit surprised. I didn’t think she’d noticed me and suddenly... I was overjoyed, and I kissed her back. And here we are.”

“How come we didn’t hear anything about this before now, though?” Alex asked.

“That’s my fault as well,” Lena said.

“Lena-” Kara interrupted.

Lena’s face looked troubled for a moment, before she waved aside Kara’s concerns. “It’s alright. We didn’t want it getting out in the office that we were seeing each other. I was worried that it would show favouritism and that her colleagues might object. Her wage is already much higher than everyone else’s and we didn’t want people to find out and think the reason was because we were seeing each other. And also, until yesterday, I was still in the closet to all but a handful of people.”

“What?” Alex said, aghast. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, but it’s alright. It’s worth it to be with Kara,” Lena said, giving Kara a tender look.

“I’d like to know how you two got engaged,” Eliza said, looking fondly at the pair of them.

Lena laughed. “It’s funny now when I think about it. It was a bit stressful at the time though. I have a pond in the garden at my cabin and I thought it would be a good place to propose.”

“Oh no,” chorused everyone except Kara and Lena.

“Oh yes,” Kara said, getting into the spirit of it. “She was all barefoot in the grass in the evening, and she’d made us a lovely dinner. It was an unusually warm evening and so romantic. And we were walking around the garden and she stopped by the pond for a moment. And she fiddled with something in her pocket and I guess… somehow it got caught? And she yanked her hand out too fast and the next thing I know there’s this tiny splash. I didn’t know what was going on but the next second, Lena had launched herself into the pond after whatever it was she’d thrown-”

Alex was beside herself with laughter. “Lena Luthor jumped into a pond? You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“She stood back up looking like some kind of Givenchy-dressed swamp witch and asked me, calm as you please, to go and get her a pair of goggles from the house. I did, and she spent the next half an hour swimming around the pond looking for the ring. By the time she got back out, she- how can I say this? Stank.”

Lena slapped Kara gently on her upper arm, her face full of mirth at Kara’s story. “I did not!”

“You smelled like you hadn’t bathed in about six years and your arms were covered in mud. I don’t know what was in that pond but you had to wash your hair four times before it started smelling normal again. And I didn’t even know what you were looking for, because you wouldn’t tell me!”

Maggie was laughing helplessly and Eliza looked halfway between appalled and impressed. “Did you find the ring?” Eliza asked, looking at Kara’s hand, clearly wondering whether it was the same one.

“I did. And I squelched back out of the pond and got down on one knee, finally, and asked Kara to marry me. Thankfully, she said yes, and I took great pleasure in getting mud all over her face when she kissed me,” Lena said, smiling as if the fake memory was one of her favorites.

Kara waved her left hand around the table again and hesitated for just a second, before she leaned over to kiss Lena briefly on the cheek.

“Kara!” Alex exclaimed. “The poor woman dived into a pond and swum around for half an hour to get the ring back. The least you could do is give her a proper kiss!”


Oh, shit.

Somehow, this had never occurred to Kara, and by the somewhat surprised look on Lena’s face, it hadn’t occurred to her either. They were supposed to be engaged, and yet somehow, neither of them had thought of the fact that people would expect them to kiss as if they were a couple. She certainly didn’t expect to be put on the spot at the dinner table, but they couldn’t very well refuse. Luckily, Lena managed to quickly mask her surprise as amusement when she turned in her chair to face Kara.

“Yeah, Kara, kiss your swamp witch,” Lena teased, raising an eyebrow at her and giving her that gentle smile again.

Okay, maybe Kara was just a sucker for that smile.

Before she could second-guess herself or hesitate too long and make it look awkward, Kara dived right in.

She reached her hand up and slid it around the back of Lena’s neck, digging it into silky dark hair. She pulled Lena closer as she leaned forward as well. Kara tilted her head and pressed her lips gently to Lena’s, and instantly she felt her stomach do the best kind of somersaults when Lena yielded to her kiss. Lena’s lips felt so soft under hers, and to Kara’s own surprise, she had to hold herself back from kissing her more deeply. When Kara was about to pull back, Lena chased her to kiss her again more firmly, and Kara tightened her fingers in Lena’s hair when she felt Lena’s thumb brush against her cheekbone. The kiss was sweet, and although it only lasted a moment, it was a moment Kara knew she’d be replaying in her mind.

Lena was the one to break it. She pulled away from Kara, but her hand remained on her face, moving down to cup her cheek properly. She opened her eyes to find Lena still very close to her, close enough to feel her breath ghosting across her lips, and, unable to help herself, leaned forward to press one last, chaste kiss to Lena’s mouth. When she released her hold on Lena’s hair, Lena opened her eyes and gazed back at Kara, seemingly as lost for words as Kara felt. The air around them felt thick with anticipation, and Kara wanted to-

“Alright you two lovebirds,” Maggie said, kicking Kara’s shin under the table and jolting her rudely back into reality.

They let go of each other, and Kara forced a laugh that she hoped sounded genuine. “Ouch, Maggie,” she complained, leaning down to rub her shin under the table, while at the same time searching for Lena’s hand. She found it and held on to it, and smiled as if everything was completely normal. As if she kissed Lena every day, several times a day, and that kissing her now wasn’t as colossal as her racing heart said it was.

Lena squeezed her hand under the table, and when she looked over into green eyes that held a hint of concern in them, she knew things would be alright between them.

“So, that’s enough about us now, let’s dig into this feast and hear what you’ve all been up to in the last few months!” Kara said, thankful that her voice was steady. She let go of Lena’s hand and picked up her cutlery.

The rest of the dinner was spent with everyone else’s chatter. Alex told stories of the funny arrests she’d had to make over the last while, mostly all of them starring the old town drunk Mr Thomas wandering down the street in the middle of the night and singing various songs from musicals. Alex always had to dump Mr Thomas into the cells for the night to sleep it off. Lena and Eliza discussed more of L-Corp’s tech, and Alex jumped in to ask Lena about her current technological developments.

Kara and Maggie left the science nerds to it and chatted about various films they’d seen and whether or not Maggie had been on any good dates lately. Maggie had Kara in stitches over a bowling date she’d gone on where the other girl had accidentally used a kid’s ball and got her fingers stuck in it, sending them on a trip to the ER, bowling ball and all.

When they were all done eating, Kara and Maggie helped Eliza rinse everything off and load the dishwasher, while Lena and Alex set about making coffees and hot chocolates for anyone who wanted them. Kara hoped that what they had in the house would be up to Lena’s high standards, and was relieved when Lena took a sip and closed her eyes, humming quietly to herself in delight.

They all retired to the lounge, settling themselves in various sofas and armchairs. Maggie draped herself over Alex and switched the tv on. Lena sat politely in the armchair next to Kara’s, content to sip her drink and listen to the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on the tv while she looked around the room.

Kara felt herself sinking deeper and deeper into her favorite armchair. She was flagging badly. Although she’d slept for quite a long time on the plane, she was still pretty tired, and Lena hadn’t slept at all as far as she knew. She must be exhausted, especially given the fact that she’d been terrified on the plane. Kara knew that took a lot out of a person.

Once the episode was over, Kara stretched luxuriously in the chair, letting herself slide closer and closer to the floor until she landed on it. She met Lena’s amused eyes and stood up. “I don’t know about you, swamp witch, but I’m exhausted. I’m going to make another hot chocolate and head up to bed.”

“I think I’ll come with you,” Lena said, a smile pulling at her lips at hew new nickname and stretching a little herself. “You had that nice long sleep on the plane but I only slept a couple of hours last night and I’m almost asleep in my mug, to be honest.”

Kara held her hand out and pulled Lena to her feet. They said their goodnights and headed to the kitchen. Lena watched quietly while Kara made their second hot chocolates and they made their way back up to their bedroom, shutting the door behind them.

Kara set the mugs down on the table, probably adding some new rings to the old, stained wood, and let out a huge sigh. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Do you want to know something about me?” Lena asked, as she curled herself into one of the armchairs and gave Kara a lazy smile.

“Definitely,” Kara replied, trying to keep her eyes away from Lena’s lips and her mind away from their shared kiss earlier.

“I’ve never met someone’s family before.”

“What, never?” Kara asked curiously, blowing across her hot chocolate. She was happy that Lena was comfortable enough to volunteer information. They had a great deal to learn about each other, and she wasn’t sure how they were going to do that under the nose of her family; up here, though, in the quiet of their bedroom was a good time and place to start. “How come?”

Lena looked a little sad for a moment, the shine in her eyes dimming a little. Kara wanted to bring it back, somehow. “Well, like I mentioned earlier, my romantic prospects due to my last name haven’t exactly been numerous. My hopes of ever finding real love have been ruthlessly squashed by both being a Luthor and a businesswoman at the top of her game, and I’ve essentially… given up hoping that someone might look at me and think that I’m maybe worth- anyway. In addition, my mother, as you can imagine, is very conservative in her views. When I told her I was gay, her response was simply, you’re not. Just you’re not, as if I could change it just because it displeased her.”

Kara wasn’t sure why she hadn’t thought about this consequence of Lena’s life. Kara’s job of course kept her very busy, but if Kara was busy, then Lena was busier. Between the two companies, too, Lena’s time was stretched pretty thin. Not to mention the fact that the media loved to describe Lena as being cutthroat, overly assertive, and therefore out of the norm and threatening, especially to men. In their eyes, and therefore in the eyes of the public, this made Lena untouchable, disinterested in the things they thought women should want. And because she didn’t fit in their tired old boxes, she was labelled unlovable.

She didn’t have to wonder what Lena thought of that. The lonely look on her face said it all for her. Kara knew that thoughts like this had rarely, if ever, been voiced to someone else.

“Ugh, I’m sorry Lena,” Kara said, saddened by Lena’s words, and disgusted at the thought of Lillian Luthor simply rejecting her daughter’s sexuality outright.

Lena shrugged. “I’ve lived with it a long time. She was, and still is, convinced that my being gay, among other… reasons, is a bigger stain on the family name than Lex’s actions. She just pretends that it was never mentioned. I was never meant to be the CEO of L-Corp, so she allowed me my various… dalliances. I never let them get far. But after Lex did what he did, there was nobody else to take his spot. It had to be a Luthor, and since I was younger than she was, I looked better in the optics. After that, my working hours and my reputation put the brakes on any relations. And I’m very private. My life shouldn’t be anyone’s business than my own and my partner’s. And all that leads up to the fact that I’ve never been close enough to someone to meet their family.”

Kara wondered what the other reasons were that Lena had mentioned, and she wanted to ask, but felt it was too heavy a question right before bed. “If you didn’t want to be CEO, what was it you wanted to do instead?” Kara asked her instead.

Lena looked contemplative, as well as grateful for the topic change even if she’d been the one to bring it up. She hummed before wrapping her hands around her mug and looking appraisingly across the table at Kara. “Nobody’s cared enough to ask me that in a while. Before I became CEO, I worked in the labs developing tech for LuthorCorp. Did you know I have a doctorate in cognitive robotics? I love tinkering with machines. I’m pretty handy when cars break down, actually. Also, I’m very interested in biochemical engineering when it comes to pharmaceuticals. When I changed the company name to L-Corp and turned the direction away from its murdering world domination roots and aims, I reassigned the budgets from weapons development to pharmaceutical and medical research.” Lena smiled across at Kara. “They’re both far more interesting. But maybe a little more selfishly, I don’t want to be associated with my brother forever. I want this company to do good in the world, not cause it to be worse than it was the day before.”

Kara tucked her feet under her and took a long look at Lena; she looked the most relaxed she’d been all day. If Kara was honest with herself, the Lena sitting across from her right now, holding her hot chocolate on her knee and honesty in her words, was adorable.

“You know, Lena…” she started, watching as Lena ran one hand through her the ends of her hair and raising her eyes to meet hers, “I don’t think what you’re doing with L-Corp is selfish. You’re really someone that I’d want to get to know, even if we weren’t doing this whole marriage thing.”

Surprise flitted across Lena’s face. “You mean I haven’t scared you off yet?”

“Not in the slightest,” Kara said with a smile. “I mean it. You’re interesting, intelligent, and witty. Everything I learn about you just makes me want to know you even better.” Kara paused. “Our situation aside, I really am looking forward to getting to know the woman you really are behind the corporate mask.”

A pleased little smile graced the brunette’s face, and there was that gentle look again. Kara felt privileged that she was the one that got to see Lena looking soft like this, as if she’d discovered a hidden window to a world that nobody else had bothered to look for. “Thank you, Kara. That means more than you know.”

Kara raised her hot chocolate in her direction. “Okay, would you like to shower first, or should I? I also have to make up a bed on the sofa, so I don’t mind if you want to head in there first. You can take your time, have a bath, if you like.”

“I think I’ll just have a shower, if that’s okay. I’m really very tired and that bed is looking awfully good right now.”

“No problem. Don’t forget that the shower is weird-”

They both stood up, and Lena stretched. “I remember.” Lena picked up her pajamas from the end of the bed and made her way towards the bathroom.

Once she’d shut the door, Kara pulled off her hoodie and tossed it on the bed, leaving her much cooler in the tshirt, and collected some spare sheets from a drawer in the closet. Always preferring to do this sort of thing to music, Kara set a little playlist going on her phone and started making up the bed on the sofa. It was quite a large, comfortable sofa. It was one that Kara had chosen when she’d first moved in with the Danvers, her very first piece of furniture. Even if she tried, there was no way she’d be able to count the number of books that she’d read in the evening sunshine on this sofa. She pulled the sheets into the corners and spread a blanket over the top. Not thinking that Lena would mind, she grabbed a pillow and a cushion from the bed and set them up as well.

There. Kara surveyed her work. It was going to be pretty comfortable.

True to her word, Lena was very quick. Kara had barely finished making up the sofa by the time she was coming back out of the bathroom. She was dressed in her geeky pajamas, her face was free of makeup and she was squeezing the water out of her hair with a towel. She looked utterly lovely, and Kara couldn’t help but admire her as she padded across the room to look out of the window.

Lena was beautiful, there was no getting away from that. But now Kara had had a look at the woman beneath the professional mask that Lena wore every day, and she felt a pull towards her, a longing to know her better. This had been a very long day all told, and she found that her opinion of Lena had changed. It wasn’t that she’d disliked Lena before; she’d respected her, but she didn’t know her, and there was a difference.

But now, what she’d seen of her today intrigued her. Lena wasn’t made of stone; there was a woman under that mask, a woman with emotions and feelings, likes and dislikes. She still couldn’t say she knew Lena, but she understood her a little bit better. What surprised her was how Lena had been all too willing to drop the professional persona when she’d needed to, and she seemed happier for it. It hadn’t seemed overly difficult for Lena to relax, and that made Kara wonder just how much energy it cost Lena to keep up her front every single day.

A question for another day.

Looking at Lena though, she wanted to preserve the quiet, domestic moment of Lena dabbing her hair dry in her room. She shook her head to clear them of such thoughts. It was the sort of thing that real couples thought of.

“Hey, I’m just going to head into the shower,” Kara said, pausing by the bathroom door. “Are you finished in here?”

“Yes, thank you,” Lena said. “Before you go though, where should I hang up this towel?”

“Just on the rail in there is fine, it’s heated,” Kara replied, moving out of the way so that Lena could hang it up. As she moved past Kara, their bare arms brushed, and Kara felt it like an electric touch.

“Sorry,” Lena murmured.

“Don’t be,” Kara said quietly.

Kara took her time in the shower. She always did after travelling, because something about it made her feel sticky and gross, even if she had been travelling in a sumptuous private jet today. She supposed it was just something about having traveled thousands of miles. She scrubbed herself all over with an exfoliating shower sponge, making her skin tingle, and rinsed the shampoo out of her hair.

When she was done with everything, she got into her pajamas and went back into the bedroom. Lena had already climbed into bed, and was propped up against the headboard with her reading glasses on, and a worn copy of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline in her hands.

“I didn’t know you wore glasses,” Kara stated as she picked up the remote for the blinds, pressing the button to close them all.

Lena raised her eyebrows and looked over her frames at Kara. “Just for reading. You’re learning all sorts of things about me today.”

“Yeah, like you’re a massive geek,” Kara replied with a smile.

Lena pressed a hand to her chest and pretended to look shocked. “A geek? Me? Whatever makes you say such a thing?”

“The punny science shirts.” Kara nodded at the book in her hand. “That.”

“You’ve read it?” Lena asked, her green eyes shining with delight behind her dark frames.

“Several times. Sometimes I wish I could join that world. Seems like it would be interesting.”

“And very dangerous,” Lena said, yawning while she placed a bookmark between the pages. “I’m very interested in the VR tech aspect.”

Lena waited until Kara had climbed into her bed on the sofa before she reached over to turn out the bedside lamp. Kara listened to Lena shifting around in the dark until she got comfortable. She took her glasses off and put them on the floor, moving them under the edge of the sofa slightly so that she wouldn’t stand on them in the morning. Kara closed her eyes and sighed deeply, wiggling happily deeper into the sofa.

There were no cars driving past, no drunks stumbling down the street. Nobody was shouting. It was peaceful and quiet, and Kara felt peace settle over her.

Just as she was drifting off, Lena’s voice floated through the darkness. “Kara? Are you asleep?”

“Mmm, not yet,” Kara replied, looking in Lena’s direction when she heard her sit up, even though she couldn’t see her. She closed her eyes again. “What’s up? Aren’t you comfortable?”

“Oh, no, nothing like that. This bed’s a cloud. No I- I just wanted to say thank you, for today. For all of it, really. I know I don’t have any right to have you be friendly to me considering what I’m asking of you. If someone had asked the same of me, I wouldn’t even have entertained the thought of saying yes to them,” Lena said, and Kara could hear the sheets shifting as Lena moved.

“It’s… well, you’re welcome, Lena,” Kara said. “And, thank you for listening to me and understanding when I told you how some of this is hard for me.”

“You’re welcome, too,” Lena replied, her voice now much closer, as if she’d turned around in the bed and was lying with her head very close to Kara’s. “And…” her voice came more hesitantly, now, “kissing me earlier. Was that hard for you?”

Kara’s eyes opened.

“No,” Kara murmured. “It was probably the easiest part,” she said honestly.

There was a moment of silence, and then Lena’s voice came again, softly. “Where are you?”

“Here,” Kara said, holding her hand up and waving it slightly, hoping Lena could see it in the dark.

Lena’s hand bumped into hers, before feeling her way down her arm, up her shoulder, and trailing carefully onto her face. Just like earlier, Kara felt her heart pounding; it was so loud, she’d be surprised if Lena couldn’t hear it. Lena’s hand cupped Kara’s jaw and she shifted forward. The next thing she knew, Lena was pressing a warm kiss to the corner of her mouth. “Thank you,” she whispered against her skin, and then she was gone, moving her way back up the bed. “Goodnight, Kara.”

“Goodnight Lena,” Kara replied quietly, pressing her fingertips to the spot where Lena had kissed her.

She went to sleep with a smile on her face.